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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The world's top tax friendly countries

taxes
Tax freindly jurisdictions help financial strategists manage taxes
By Jemma Scott

The world is full of certain counties that provide some of the lowest and most friendly tax rates. These tax friendly countries have become tax havens and have are increasingly popular with business people as well as retirees.

In the current economic situation of the world, they have become a great place to live, start businesses and invest in. In this interesting and informative article we take a look at the counties with the best tax laws.

Tax friendly countries

 

 Switzerland


Switzerland is known as one of the tax friendly countries in the world and for years individuals and businesses have been evading heavy tax laws and opening accounts in this favourable country. Switzerland has the lowest marginal tax rate on average income workers and also boasts the world’s 7th highest GDP per capita at $43,196. This beautiful and economically prospering country invites people to enjoy an escape of 50% by moving there! Among the many tax friendly countries in Europe, its tax rates have not stopped it from prospering during the bad economic crisis and it enjoys a highly educated workforce and incredibly low unemployment rates.

Malta


The small island nation of Malta is another one of the tax friendly countries in Europe. Malta enjoys some of the lowest tax rates in the world and this country is performing relatively well opposed to the other European countries in the economic crisis. This tax friendly country has no wealth nor inheritance taxes, or annual property taxes. These tax elements make Malta, one of the tax friendly countries in Europe, it a favourite relocation country as well as for retirees to retire in. There are also many business opportunities from their igaming to the tourism industry as it becomes an increasingly popular holiday destination.

United Kingdom


Contrary to what the people of the United Kingdom may think, this is still one of the tax friendly countries in Europe. Its boats a 32% marginal tax rate on average income workers and is the sixth largest economy in the world. Apart from the United Kingdom being a major financial hub, it provides excellent health care and its low tax laws make for a safe haven for investments.  

United States


Compared to many other counties across the world, the United States offers a tax friendly situation. With its high standard of living and it being the world’s largest economy, this is further cemented. The average worker in the United States gets taxed 26.9%.  


About the author: Jemma Scott is a freelance writer keen to share advice on economics and finance. Her inspiration for this article came after evaluating Maltese tax.

* Image license: 401(K) 2013's photostream; CC BY-SA 2.0

Using Instagram to boost your business

Social Media has, in the last decade, grown to become one of the most important tools for any growing business. With over 500 million Twitter users worldwide and 1.06 billion monthly active users on Facebook, it’s clear that social media can be a great way to connect with your customer base and other businesses. Twitter and Facebook are primarily post-based, meaning the main way to connect with followers is to write posts, statuses and updates. However, other more recent social platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram have arisen and offer a chance to purely share photos.

Marketing using Instagram makes use of  multimedia technology
Instagram photos build brand awareness

But how can Instagram boost your business?


Instagram is a relatively new iPhone app which allows users to take photos on their smartphone and upload it to a space to share with their ‘followers’. Once the photo is taken, the user can play with the range of editing tools and even post it to their Facebook or Twitter page.

In terms of marketing opportunities, Instagram has developed to accommodate businesses and allow brands to create a clear image with an online profile. It is a great way to show potential customers exactly what your brand is about.

What should you post?


The photos you choose to post are entirely up to you but the key is to remember that people will only follow your site if they are interested in the images, so keep it fun, lighthearted and friendly. For example, for an opticians, you could post photos of staff outings or any fun glasses-related bits you may come across.

It’s a good idea to find a healthy balance between business images and fun images. For example, some images could show new updates to the store or new glasses ranges now available, whilst others could simply be Sally from Admin dressed as a chicken for the office party. For any business-related images, try to include a ‘call to action’, such as ‘50% off all glasses- shop now!’

How to engage users


Brand concepts are enhanced with Instagram's visual images
A picture says a thousand words
A new trend emerging is the chance to enter contests on instagram by posting a photo and using a hashtag symbol to link to your page. This is a great way to encourage users to interact with your site and gain virality, as users share their photos with you and their own followers. Remember that some users are reluctant to post photos of themselves for others to see, so why not suggest something like ‘show us your favourite sunglasses for a chance to win!’

Take a look around!


If you’re really stuck for inspiration on photos to share, why not take a browse around the site and see what other businesses are sharing? Look out for similar companies for some relevant inspiration.

Instagram is one of the newest ways to interact and connect with your customer base. Photos can be a great way to show users exactly what your brand is about. Use it to promote offers, highlight upcoming events and even just share fun goings-on at the office.


About the author: Victoria is a blogger for an online opticians business selling Ray Ban glasses.

Image licenses: 1. Instagram , "Moneycation uses the Instagram™ API and is not endorsed or certified by Instagram or Instagram, Inc. All Instagram™ logos and trademarks displayed on this website are property of Instagram, Inc." 2. Parriswells; CC BY-SA 3.0

Monday, April 29, 2013

Cutting the cost of your car financing

 Maintain a high personal credit rating to get better car financing deals
High down payment and low-interest financing reduce total car purchase costs

By Jake Prylor 

One of the great things about the economic crisis is that many manufacturers are selling cars at super competitive prices in order to get people to purchase them. This has meant that if you can get the finance at a competitive rate, you also manage to get a car at one 
too.

So many of us fall for the car finance trap and end up paying a lot more than we should for an auto. Getting a cheap car loan can be a great way to cut costs and make that deal truly 
competitive and here’s how.

Loans


The best loans with the lowest interest rates are available to those with a good credit history and this means that everyone isn’t able to get one. However, shopping around can throw up some great offers. The best thing to do before hunting is to check your credit history to ensure you apply for apt loans for your situation.

Cash is king


If you have the credit in hand when you begin looking for a new car a lot of dealers will treat you very favourably. Cash offers provide you with a better bargaining position.

Beginnings and ends


Even though the payment may seem low monthly, it could mask a very high payment at the start of the loan and the end of the loan. Make sure that you check these out and calculate the total amount payable. Some car companies offer 0% finance with a large deposit, this is something to consider even if you have to pay a large deposit initially.

Car leasing


Some people find that if they have worse than average credit, car leasing can be a great option for them. It is often a lot cheaper to lease a car than pay high interest rates. Bad credit secured loans can also be a good option for car purchases as they provide you with lower insurance than the unsecured alternative.

Car leasing can also work well if you wish to purchase a car with a high depreciation as you won’t suffer nearly as much if you lease than if you have to sell the auto. However, there are terms and conditions to be aware of too.

Pre-registered


Many dealers have pre-registered cars for those that want to try out a new vehicle. These cars may have a few hundred miles on the clock, but they are new in essence. However, you can save a lot of money by buying one over a brand spanking new car.
Haggling

This can lower the cost of the initial price of the car and allows you the opportunity to save a few hundred pounds for a moments work. This results in a lower price to be repaid. It is worth it so don’t let pride stand in the way. If you’re willing to haggle, extended warranties and better service packages may also be available.

Getting finance at a competitive rate for a car is a lot easier than it was and if you have the cash, you should certainly use the above advice to help.


About the author: Jake Prylor is a lover of cars and has had a number in recent years. He writes this article for Baker Financial.

* Image license: Attribution and royalty free

How to start a career in U.K. investment banking

Internships are an opportunity for financial institutions to train potential employees
Internships build experience and trust
Despite the bad reputation the financial industry gained in recent years, the number of students who want to break into the industry remains high. Many young university graduates are drawn to banking jobs because it gives them the best opportunity to quickly translate their enthusiasm into measurable results and thus advance their finance career.

What also might be a factor is that the financial rewards are highest compared to other industries. A comparison of graduate salaries, made by High Fliers, shows that investment banking jobs receive the highest remuneration with up to £45,000. Graduates working in law and the energy sector receive up to £38,000 and £32,500 respectively. For somebody who has seen the 1980s movie ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ these research results might seem rather obvious.

Getting in is not easy


According to the Office for National Statistics over 1.2 million people are employed in the financial sector in the UK which also makes a huge contribution to the national GDP. Due to its size, there are various job roles available like private banking, investment banking or insurance. In a recent report by High Flyers it was stated that the number of vacancies in finance this year will decrease while the demand for jobs has increased by 22 % from 2012 to 2013.

Since the pool of qualified graduates is very big, employers are now in the comfortable position to be more selective whom they hire. Having excellent academic credentials doesn’t set you apart anymore. Usually the competition is also very bright and hard working. Many students who want to go into banking plan ahead even before university and therefore choose their subjects wisely in order to get a comparative advantage. Subjects that can help you land a job are business related degrees like economics, accounting, law and finance.

Make yourself employable


Read financial newspapers. That is what many professionals in the industry do daily, so make it your routine too. Newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times are highly regarded because of their journalistic quality and in-depth coverage of political and economic events. Try not to absorb massive loads of information, but rather seek to understand how the dots are connected.

For example you could ask yourself the question whether oil price and GDP are related and rationalise why. Or you could pick a specific company and try estimate how its stock price might be affected in the future by politics and the economy. Exercises like that will practice your intuition and help you to analyse case studies during the job interview.

Join a society at university. In investment banking it is required that you liaise with a lot of people who either work for you or whom you have to report to, like clients and supervisors. It is therefore essential that you can demonstrate the ability to work well in a team, socialise and interpret behaviours of other people.

By getting active in a club or society you will be exposed to different tasks that will help you develop the necessary skills. Joining the investment club, if your university has one, can show employers true dedication. Many of these clubs offer very good opportunities to develop professional skills. Some of the activities include organising conferences on campus with invited guest speakers on financial topics, giving advice to fellow students how to manage a budget and planning social events.

Get relevant internships. It’s not a secret anymore that internships are not a nice thing to have but a must-have. They are the best way to demonstrate that you already have work experience and that another employer was willing to put trust in you. There are many investment banks offering internships to students for up to six months.

However, there is also some competition for internships in the most prestigious companies. Applying early and showing some excellent academic achievements can help you get one of these heavily sought after positions. Some students get hired right after their internship has ended, which means they will be spared the enjoyment of an assessment centre.

Another good aspect of internships is that they will help you grow your professional network through personal contacts, something that has always been vital in business. Getting to know someone in person has far more value than clicking on the accept button in a social network.

* Image license: Royalty and attribution free

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Three tips for strategic couponing

Coupons are found in newspapers, online and via mail offers or newsletters
Some digital manufacturer coupons can be used alongside store coupons
By Bella Hastings

If you want to save your pennies for a rainy day, then you should coupon during sunny days. But if you really want to stretch the value of your dollar, then it takes more than just waving a coupon to the cashier. You need to be strategic with your shopping trips, and it never hurt to know a bit about the nature of coupons.

What are the different types of coupons?


There are two major types of coupons – manufacturer and store coupons. It’s important that you know exactly what each coupon does so that you can plan your shopping trips appropriately. For one, manufacturer coupons are released by the producer of a certain brand and can be redeemed in any store. Because of this, manufacturer coupons are more sought after by savvy shoppers. On the other hand, store coupons are issued by a certain store or retailer and can only be redeemed in the same store which distributed them. Hence, you can only use your Walmart’s coupon at Walmart’s.

Although not as popular as the paper coupons, digital coupons are already on the rise. Digital coupons are downloaded online and can be loaded directly into your shopper’s card or printed at home.

How should you use these different types of coupons?


If you want your manufacturer coupon to work alongside your store coupon, you need to know how to stack coupons properly. There are certain stores which allow a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon to be used on the same item for maximum savings. It’s even possible that you may no longer have to pay for the item just by stacking.

Another thing which you do is to ask if the store doubles your coupons. Doubling is multiplying by two the face value of your store coupons. This means that you save twice more as compared to when your coupons are not doubled. However, you do need to consult your store’s policy in order for you to verify if they indeed allow the stacking of coupons or not, or at what days they allow the doubling of store coupons.

Can you use digital and paper coupons in one transaction?


Yes and no. Some stores allow the use of both digital and paper coupons, but there are also certain stores which make you choose between using digital or paper coupons but never both. In this case, if your paper coupons contain more value, then you can save your shopper’s card for later.


About the author: Bella Hastings, the writer, is an avid blogger with varied interests in home improvements, gardens and coupons. Learn more from her about 6pm coupon code

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Reasons to refinance a mortgage

Refinancing at a lower rate reduces overall interest costs
Mortgage refinancing can be used to consolidate debt

By Richard Craft

Refinancing is on the minds of many homeowners right now. Rates are at the lowest they have been since the early to mid 1950s, and there is nowhere else for them to go but up. As one mortgage professional said recently, "you can't go lower than zero!"

For this reason, it is imperative to look into refinancing, even if your credit situation is less than desirable. The lower rate over time will save tens of thousands of dollars, and if the mortgage is refinanced from a 30 to a 15-year loan, there is much to be gained in having no payment that much sooner.

How mortgage rates have fallen


In 2007, 5.75 percent was an incredible rate on a 30-year mortgage. Today, that rate is no longer competitive, considering that borrowers with less-than-desirable credit ratings can get a rate of 5 percent and maybe even lower.

Knowing this, and viewing the history of mortgage interest rates over time, it is apparent that they can go a little lower, but not by much. So now is a great time to take advantage of the lowering rates, even if you don’t think you don’t need to.


Why rates need to rise


Paul Volcker was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve during the Carter Administration. During this time, interest rates rose drastically, leading to much short-term pain for individual consumers, but much growth and stabilization for the United States in the long run.

Today, things appear to be the same. Inflation is outpacing pay raises to the point that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts noted that for minimum wage to be competitive with where it had once been, employees would have to be earning $22 per hour.

While the American people have enjoyed low rates, and may continue to do so, there will come a time when they will adjust upward not only because that is the nature of the cycle, but also because it will help the economy grow.

The results of not refinancing


It stands to reason that paying less money in bank fees is better than paying more. This is the reason why if a person finds a $30 charge for going below the minimum balance of the account, it is worthwhile to make a quick call to the local branch and ask that it be forgiven.

When it comes to mortgage interest, the situation is much more serious, but for some reason many avoid it. Over 30 years, a mortgage at a 6 percent rate will cost more in interest than it will in principle payments. This is absurd when compared to a 3.5 percent rate on a 15-year loan, especially when it breaks down to having nearly the same payment every month.

On top of this, if a homeowner was to have gotten a mortgage in 2007 at 6 percent and had it reduced to 3.5 percent today, it would reduce the life of the loan by nine years. That is nine years of not having a payment. If the payment is $1,000 per month, it would mean that $108,000 in payments that could go toward savings, investments, or paying for college tuition.

On top of this, checking out the deals that are available cannot hurt. What can hurt is to let the opportunity pass by to pay less each month.


About the author: This article was written by Richard Craft, an MBA student who looks forward on sharing his knowledge with readers throughout the web so they can make better financial decisions. He writes this on behalf of Houses.com, your number one choice when looking for a new house to buy or for selling your house. Check out their website to see how they can help you.

Image artist: Maryna Pleshkun

The insurance company may not be on your side

Lawsuits are avoided via insurance settlements
Insurance terms affect claims payouts
By Robert Mendoza
 
Unfortunately, when unforeseen accidents happen, insurance companies may try to deny coverage or cover less than the amount that will cover damages. Insurance companies save money by denying claims or trying to pay less than what the claim is worth. Hiring an attorney can help ensure that you are covered in accordance with your policy or help you make a claim against another driver who was at fault in the accident.

Claim denials based on fault


The first part of a car accident claim an insurance adjuster considers is liability. Liability means who was at fault in the accident. In some cases this is clear, as in most rear-end collisions. Usually the person who was following too closely is found at fault. Some car accidents are not so clear; these types of cases are the most likely to cause an insurance denial. 

In cases that occurred within an intersection, if neither party accepts fault at the scene, it can be very difficult to later determine who was at fault without a third party witness. Insurance adjusters are very likely to deny both claims without further proof, and such cases frequently result in a lawsuit being filed with possible litigation. An attorney can help prove that another driver was at fault in court with expert witnesses and advanced technology.

Step two of claims evaluation: Proving damages


The second part of an accident claim involves damages. Damages are determined by the amount of loss and property damage, how much a person was hurt in an accident, and in some cases, lost wages may also be a factor. Personal injuries may vary from relatively minor, such as sprains or strains and an emergency room visit, to life-altering injuries that may require medical care for the rest of a person's life. 

Denial of an insurance claim can be devastating in this type of case. Trying to negotiate with an insurance adjuster while healing from injuries and worrying about bills from the accident can be overwhelming, particularly if the injuries cause lost time from work. Insurance companies can deny claims outright based on liability or try to settle them for less than they are worth. 

One accident can cause permanent injuries, and the settlement is meant to cover all expenses. Insurance settlements are offered in an exchange so that the person does not sue for their injuries. Therefore, there is typically only one chance to settle the claim. An attorney can help you settle your claim and save you the time that you would have spent trying to negotiate it yourself.

How can an attorney help? 


When an insurance adjuster denies your claim, you may be left wondering how you will pay for your medical bills and other expenses. Speaking with a lawyer can help give you a better idea about how the process works. Some cases are difficult without a person to negotiate the claim for you who has experience with other similar types of cases. 

In some instances, insurance companies will try to deny paying for anything unless it is clear that a lawsuit is possible. It is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible after the accident so that evidence can be gathered and your claim is not time-barred.



About the author: Robert Mendoza is a law student and freelance writer in his spare time. When he was involved in personal injury lawsuit he received legal add in reaching a settlement that helped pay for damages and lost wages.

* Image license: Royalty and attribution free.

When is whole life insurance better than term life insurance

Estate and retirement planning is facilitated with whole life insurance policies
Whole life insurance allows policies to build cash value
By Alisia Goodwin

Having a life insurance is important if a person wants to ensure that his family will have financial security after his death. But then people often get confused if they should opt for term life insurance or a permanent life insurance. There is a notion that buying a term insurance is best option. However, it might not be true for everyone. Even a whole life policy can prove to be beneficial.

Right time to buy


Best time to buy a permanent life insurance is when a person is young and has few responsibilities. This will help him prepare for the future in an appropriate manner.

When a person starts with the policy early, he can maximize the benefits. A person must buy insurance as soon as he begins with his job. This will help him prepare for the future in a better way because companies consider age and occupation as an important factor for calculating premiums. They believe that with age people become prone to diseases and therefore, they need to pay more to have desired coverage.

Also, companies conduct medical examinations before finalizing the policy. If a person has a disease, he will have to pay higher premiums. Thus, starting at a younger age with fewer chances of diseases saves money. Once the insurance is bought, there will be no effect on premiums.

Regular level premiums


When a person buys the insurance he is aware that he will have to pay premiums till the time he is alive. The best part of this insurance is that rates do not change. It is known that in term life insurance premiums increase with renewals and time duration. When a person calculates the premiums in both the policies for the long run, he will find that the cost of having a whole life policy is less expensive.

Sufficient coverage


Since the company takes higher premiums, it also promises higher death benefits. For those who know that their family needs support which cannot be fulfilled by buying a term life insurance, can buy a permanent life insurance.

Valid for lifetime


Unlike term life insurance, a whole life type does not expire eliminating fear of staying uninsured at any point and time in life. There is no need to remember the expiry dates and request companies to renew the policy. Once a person buys it, he owns it forever. This guarantees that security and financial stability for the family is always available.

The cash value


The unique feature of the insurance is that it accumulates cash value. This means that it also serves as an investment. With time, the interest can be used to pay the premiums of the policy. Thus, if a person opts for permanent life insurance at right time, when he becomes old, he will not pay premiums from his pocket. Also, a person can take a loan against his permanent life insurance. Whenever the insured person needs funds for any activity he does not need to take an additional loan from another company.

To get more information about wholelife insurance, you can go online and find the best quotes which guarantee adequate security for the family.

* Image license: Royalty and attribution free.

Friday, April 26, 2013

How do I know if investing in property is the right move for me?

Investment risk is lowered by investing in real estate over a longer time horizon
Rental income is used to pay mortgage debt
By Richard Carr

Investing in property is one of the most popular wealth-creating techniques available to any sensible modern investor.  However, it’s certainly not for everyone.   If you’re unsure as to whether it is really the right path for you to walk, this short but vital guide should help.

Do you know what you’re hoping to achieve from property investment?  


Before spending money on property you should be completely sure on exactly what you’re hoping to achieve through the investment.  Perhaps you’re looking to have some extra money set aside for when you retire, or simply just want some additional income for a yearly holiday. Whatever your aims are, be clear on them before you commit to an investment plan.

How much can you afford to lose? 


Whilst no-one goes into any investment looking to suffer a loss, the simple fact is that it happens.  Have an amount in mind that you are prepared to go to before you decide to cut those losses, and stick to it.  Don’t make this number bigger than you can afford, and never risk the other assets you do have.   Property can be very rewarding, but unless you’ve got a decent amount of money behind you it might not be worth the gamble as an investment vehicle.

Do you want to be actively involved in your investment? 


Many people prefer to let their investments be taken care of by a professional, as it can be quite time consuming trying to stay on top of it all.  If you don’t have a lot of spare time, bear in mind that hiring a professional will incur the necessary additional costs for their services.

Can you get the funds?


With smaller properties, it’s quite common for the fee to paid up-front, but larger investments such as second homes will normally require additional funding, such as another mortgage from the bank.  Are you able to obtain all of the necessary funding without risking other properties?  If not, then real estate may still be slightly beyond your reach, especially in today’s buyer market.

What gain are you looking for? 


Or in other words, how are you going to make a profit?  Are you looking to purchase a property, and then ‘flip’ it (ie, invest in improving the property and then selling it for a profit) or obtain a steady income by renting it out?  Whichever your choice, you should make it according to the current market.  You’ll find it harder to rent a property if the rates for buying are much cheaper, and vice versa.

Do you have enough finances for the extra costs? 


As with all areas of investment, real estate inevitably leads to additional costs such as renovation, stamp duty and mansion tax (in the UK at least).  Whilst you might think you have enough financial muscle to purchase a second mortgage, always take the time to work out in advance which additional costs you’re likely to incur.  With those additional cost added on, you might find you’re actually a little short, or at least not as comfortable as you thought.

Hopefully, these tips should help.  However, always remember that there are a variety of specialists out there who will be able to look at your case on an individual basis and decide if real estate is the best investment for you.


About the author: Richard Carr started his career as a financial advisor before growing his very own property portfolio. He writes advice articles for the online community on behalf of Aspen Woolf, a company which offers property investment opportunities in the UK and abroad.

* Image license: morgueFile  free photo

Claiming back 20 percent sales tax after travelling in the UK

Retail sales taxes are higher in the U.K. than in the U.S.
Some retail sales qualify for up to 20% cash back

Think of travelling to the UK and the first things most people come up with are the sights- Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral, bright red London Buses, and maybe the 2012 Olympic Stadium. Of course there is plenty more to the UK. London alone sees about 15 million visitors per year, and they have a huge range of reasons for coming.

Great shopping is high on the list. From world-famous retailers like Harrods and Selfridges through to quirky markets districts specializing in everything from antiques to punk fashion, London is a shopper's paradise. There's just one problem- almost everything a visitor might want to buy includes a hefty 20% sales tax in the price. In the UK this is known as VAT.

UK and European Union residents have to pay this 20% VAT, but the good news is that visitors from outside the EU don't. You can claim it back when you leave the UK or the European Union. It's not difficult to do but does require some extra planning, so next time you visit Britain, follow these steps to make sure you get your tax back:

1. Choose your store


When deciding where to buy, look for the 'Tax Free Shopping' sign. These retailers know how to help you get VAT back and most are happy to help travellers fill in the right forms. You can find a list of stores on the GBTax Free website, or just keep an eye out for the sign, especially in London shopping districts.

2. Show your passport


You'll need to show your passport at the store to prove that you're eligible to shop tax free, so don't leave it behind at your hotel. They'll help you fill in the necessary form- a VAT 407- right there and then. You can also decide how to receive your refund at the point of purchase.

3. Keep your papers


Make sure to keep those forms and all receipts somewhere safe- you'll need them later.

4. Declare your purchases when leaving


When you leave the European Union (whether from the UK or from another EU country if you're travelling on to another European destination), make a customs declaration. You'll need to show the officials your completed forms, receipts, and the actual purchased goods themselves.

5. Submit your forms


Once through customs, you might either mail your form off or hand it in at a special tax refund booth, and then your money can arrive through the channel you nominated in store when filling in the forms.

That might seem like a lot of extra work but 20% can amount to a fairly significant sum of money. Spend $400 on taxable goods and your refund should come in around $80.


For more information, including the fine print, see the UK Revenue and Customs page on this topic. 

 Image attribution: Elliott Simpson; CC BY-SA 2.0 

It's a man's world no more: U.K. logistics industry tackles gender inequality

Womens' organizations seek to reward and promote gender equality
Not all industries have eliminated gender inequality
By Pippa Green

Whilst women have made dramatic inroads into previously male dominated industries like finance and engineering, the fields of transport and logistics are still mainly masculine territory. The finalists for the 2013 FTA everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards, which honours women in these fields, have been announced.

The FTA everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) indicates that the logistics sector alone employs 1.45 million people (which accounts for 5% of the total employment quotient in the UK) but, only around 24% of the workers are female.

Now in its sixth year the Awards aim to recognize and highlight the women who are excelling in the areas of transport and logistics within the UK, with the aim of promoting these industries as female friendly. The Awards were created by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and everywoman; an organization that champions the advancement of women in business.

There are a number of categories, the winners of which will be honoured during the awards ceremony to be held at The Savoy Hotel in London on the 16th of May.

A woman for every category


The Rising Star of the Year aims to pay tribute to a woman, under the age of 30, making a contribution to her organization.  This year’s nominees include Sophie Buck from Metropolitan Line, Transport for London, Hannah Kerins from iForce, Charlotte Laval from Wincaton plc and Vitoria Taylor from Tradeteam Limited.

Kat Horsley (an operations director), Michelle Naylor (a depot general manager), Paula Towers (a transport operations manager) and Ruth Waring (a managing director) are competing for the 2013 Industry Champion Award. All of these women are seen as active champions for the industry and do much to attract and retain women.

The Woman of the Year Award winner is selected from one of the categories mentioned above as well as from the Driver of the Year, The Warehousing Award, the Innovation & Sustainability Award, and the Team Leader Award. The everywoman website notes that; “This award will be selected by the judges and given to one enthusiastic and dedicated woman whose vision, innovative approach and success make her an outstanding role model, encouraging more women to choose a career in Transport and Logistics”.

 The FTA everywoman Accelerate Programme


Launched on International Women’s Day in 2012 the programme was created as an additional method with which to lure women into the transportation and logistics industry. Maxine Benson MBE, co-founder of everywoman told the Handy Shipping Guide that: “The Accelerate Programme is something that we have developed in direct response to what the industry is telling us it needs. We are incredibly excited about it.”

The idea is to make everywoman services available to the female workforce. These include the everywomanNetwork which is an online personal development tool as well as the everywomanClub which connects senior level women and entrepreneurs.

Clearly there is a sense of the value women could add to the transportation and logistics industry, and both the awards and accelerate program aims to encourage the fairer sex to become more involved. 



About the author: London based blogger Pippa Green has recently discovered a whole new world based on import and export. Her search for Italian shoes led her to the Trade Ocean import and export company and she’s realized that there’s far more to imported shoes than meets the eye.

* Image attribution: Military Sealift Command; CC BY 2.0

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What to look for when investing in international bonds

Bonds yields adjust as economic conditions change
International bond ratings range from junk to investment grade
By Sandy Coops

Investing in international bonds is a smart move as it is secure and safe. Moreover, international bonds consistently yield good returns.  International bonds are otherwise known as Sovereign debt, which forms a part of major part of investment in international investment portfolios. 

Issuers

 
Today even small individual investors are turning to international bonds as they are rated high when it comes to credit ratings, are almost 100% safe, and the yields are moderately good. Especially, the bonds that are issued and guaranteed by countries with strong economies, like Canada, Switzerland, and Germany are hot favorites. Developing countries also issue bonds, and are often referred to as bonds from emerging markets. However, the credit ratings are comparatively lower, some of which do not deserve any rating at all and are as good a junk bonds. 

Yield


The law of inverse proportion applies here, and since the safety is questionable, the bond-issuing countries offer better returns.  It is interesting to note that bonds issued by the U.S. treasury are considered as Sovereign bonds, however as the focus is on international bonds; there is no need to elaborate further on domestic bonds.

Safety

The primary reason why it is advisable to invest in international bonds is that they are guaranteed by the respective governments they are issued by. Hence, they are considered to be absolutely safe. For an investor, safety and security are of prime importance, and the returns part is considered second to this. 

Most countries would not default on bonds as they need to maintain their credibility, which is essential when they need to borrow huge sums on a continuous basis.  Even with countries that are less credit worthy, the bonds are a lot safer than their other domestic investment avenues. In case the sovereign bonds of a country fare poorly, the domestic scene is bound to be disastrous.

Before deciding to invest in international bonds, one should check a few things like:

  • If the country has a healthy economy, with a debt burden that is manageable.
  • The government should have a good tax collection record, with a favorable contribution from the population.
  • The country needs to have a favorable credit rating, certified by reputed rating agencies.
  • There should not be too much volatility in the country’s currency, which is a positive sign for a buoyant economy.
  • A good track record for repayment of debt by the government backed by a good political system and able leadership.

As mentioned earlier, investing in international bonds can be rewarding as the yield is moderately good. The surprising fact with an international bond is that it has proved to perform better whenever the markets are under stress and there is a general decline in all the other instruments. 

Funds


If the investment is in an emerging markets bond fund, the rise can be phenomenal; however the risks are equally high. Especially for U.S. based investors, international bonds provide better exposure (internationally) and add to a diversified portfolio.  Investors will have the double benefit of income from interest and capital gains as well, depending on the volatility of the U.S. dollar internationally.

On the riskier side, the investor is prone to negative events such as the government (borrower) being unable to or unwilling to pay back the debt. In such a scenario, the investor stops receiving dividend (interest) payments, and may not get back even the original investment upon maturity. Several cases have been reported where people were paid just a fraction of their original investment.  

Usually what can happen under such circumstance is that the government goes in for debt restructuring and the investors agree for a reduction in the interest and principal amount. In some cases there is a mutual agreement for extending the maturity term, giving the borrower a breather. Another negative aspect that can never be predicted correctly is inflation, which results in reduction in the value of interest and principal payments. One needs to study the pros and cons thoroughly before investing in international bonds.


About the author: Sandy Coops currently works at http://www.CableTimeNC.com, a site that enables everyone to learn about how to save on broadband and internet cable.


Image attribution: Dave Dugdale; CC BY SA-2.0

Top 5 things to know about credit card payments


Credit Card APR is more representative of cost than a nominal rate
Paying more upfront  on high balances reduces overall interest cost

By Jake Williams

Credit card payment has become the order of the day for many if not all online businesses and it is no longer just a business trend as in the recent past. It is now a must-have. But how can you really make the most of your credit cards by forging a fruitful and positive financial relationship with them? 

It is easy, all you need to do is to take time to learn and understand all their basics prior to applying for, or using the revolving credit accounts. Have all fundamentals at your fingertips in order to clearly differentiate the certain legalities involved with using any available credit cards. This will enable you to make wise decisions at the time you get the powerful card.

The following is a list of five things that you must know about credit card payments
  1. Credit cards are of varied types. There are an extensive variety of credit cards for an individual to consider. Mostly, these cards can be broadly classified as 'general purpose cards', which can be used anywhere, and 'private label retail cards' that can typically be honored and used at only their issuing service stations and stores. The former cards are conventionally unsecured; this implies their issuers extend credit lines majorly based on the users’ credit histories. Conversely, secured cards are backed by money that you deposit in a special account. These funds can be claimed by the creditor - if the card’s user defaults. 

    What you must know about secured cards is that since the creditors do not assume big risks, the   qualification for such a credit card payment solution is a tad easier, making it the best option for individuals with un-established or damaged credit.
  1. The rate displayed might not be what you get. What you will realize is that card issuance firms always generate an ‘APR Representative’. This is always the yearly interest rate, but it is only availed to fifty-one percent of the users of the card. This implies that the users of this credit card payment method could be charged at a bigger rate. Take caution not to be caught out.
  1. Make payments monthly. These cards enable you to purchase a particular product and then make the payments over several months. However, this does not necessarily imply that you pay a little amount now and again when it is convenient for you. It is mandatory that you make certain definite payments every other month. Here, missing a single month’s payment will lead to penalty charges of up to hundreds of Euros, in addition to the possibility of harming one’s credit scores, making future borrowings harder.
  1. Credit cards can cut down the existing debt’s costs. -These cards are not only applicable for making credit card payments, additionally, they can be used for the clearance of debts. Where you are receiving hefty charges on interests on a store card or credit, just turn it to the 0% balance transfer-card.
  1. Paying using a credit card gives you added protection. If you where to make a credit card payment for a product worth above 100 Euros, then  you are assured of more safety as compared to the use of cash, checks or debit cards. In the event the bought goods are faulty, the card’s user can be refunded via the card’s provider.

About the author: Jake Williams works for one of the largest providers of credit cart payments (the term in Danish is kortbetaling solutions in Europe.

Image:US-PDGov

Build brand equity with a green trade show exhibit


Exhbitor presentation helps build brand equity
Improve exhibit traffic and lead generation with giveaways and activities

By Nathan Hendrix

Going to trade shows is an effective way to increase your business’ contacts, gain exposure and even find a couple of prospects. However, in your bid to get the attention of would-be customers, you often sacrifice environmental responsibility by using reams and reams of paper and turning on incandescent lights for 24 hours a day. Your company’s growth does not have to mean you have to sacrifice the planet.

Giveaways


Instead of giving away souvenirs which serve no other purpose than to inform your prospect clients, i.e. brochures and tons of booklets, go for something which they can reuse. Items which have a longer shelf-life, such as grocery bags, reusable water bottles, and flashlights, can be reused for so many times and they are genuinely helpful, too. Of course, you can have these items customized so that they carry the logo of your company.

If you’ve already tried those things and are looking for a way to up the ante for this year’s trade show, then support the use of new environmentally friendly materials such as corn plastic. You can pick out items which are made with this recyclable and biodegradable material.

In addition, if you really want to set the bar for other businesses, try organizing a post-show recycling program wherein cardboard boxes and other materials can be processed by a local recycling company which you have teamed up with. The proceeds of such program will then go to a local charity. Not only will Mother Earth love you for it, so will the community members.

Exhibitor kits and other informational materials


In this digital world, you can definitely afford to go paperless. In fact, you can even get rid of hard copies and simply give out electronic copies of your brochures to those who visit your booth. Ask for the e-mail addresses and send out the brochures and other materials, which they can later retrieve at home or through their phones or tablets while still in the exhibit venue. Green trade show exhibits are available from smashhitdisplays.com

However, if going paperless is not something which is possible, make sure that you place recycling bins for tchotchkes which you know will only be tossed in the trash after they are read. You may also put a limit on the number of brochures and other materials that you take with you and only send out a more extensive booklet to leads once you’re done with the entire trade show.
Click here for important global warming research.


About the author: Nathan Hendrix is passionate about business and the environment.

Image attribution: Nicksantino; CC BY-SA 3.0

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How life insurance premiums are calculated

Life insurance premium calculations differ between companies
Age, health and benefit values all affect life insurance premium calculations

By Georgina Clatworthy
Individuals concerned about their family members often seek life insurance policies. When shopping for rates, applicants may notice a significant discrepancy between policy providers. Generally, insurance companies that offer life insurance make underwriting decisions with the help of actuarial tables, which use population data, usually aggregated among all members of a particular population, to determine the life expectancy of individuals at certain ages.

However, few insurance companies determine rates based solely upon aggregate data. Various risk factors can substantially affect a particular applicant’s life expectancy. Additionally, the nature of the policy itself can greatly affect the end rate. Insurers incorporate these variables into their respective models to develop a price. Applicants should compare the respective merits and rates of an underwriter’s offerings with their insurance broker or search themselves via comparison websites suc
h as www.monkey.co.uk.
 

Applicant factors


Insurers will consider physiological factors when setting a rate. Foremost among these factors is the applicant’s age. Younger individuals are far less likely to die from any cause than older individuals are and younger individuals are less prone to significant health problems; hence, younger applicants will generally receive lower rates. Insurance companies will also consider the applicant’s gender. Women live longer and are less prone to dying young, making female applicants prone to receiving lower rates for the same policies.

As a condition of purchasing a policy, an applicant may be required to undergo a physical examination. This examination will determine the applicant’s overall health, which will affect the applicant’s life expectancy. Drug, tobacco and alcohol use expose individuals to significant health risks and hence will increase an applicant’s premium rate. Obesity will also increase one’s life insurance rates for the same reasons.

The applicant’s family history is also germane to the underwriting decision. A family history of high blood pressure or diabetes increases the risk that an otherwise healthy applicant will develop those conditions later. The applicant’s age, the age at which his or her ancestors developed these conditions, and the nature of the condition will determine his or her family history’s effect on the applicant’s quoted premium.
 


Policy factors


Predictably, the coverage amounts also result in rate fluctuations; smaller coverage amounts will result in lower rates while larger coverage amounts will result in higher rates. However, this relationship is not linear; doubling the payable benefits will not necessarily result in a doubled rate. Instead, higher coverage amounts will result in a greater value per premium pound.

Not all life insurance policies are created equal. The type and duration of policy will affect the overall rate. Term life insurance rates are generally cheaper over the entirety of the policy with a shorter duration, as covering the applicant when he or she is older is more expensive. A whole life pay life policy will be more expensive, as it only requires premiums for a set period.
Underwriters consider numerous factors in setting their rates for specific applicants. Each insurance provider will assign different weights to potential risk factors. However, there is little magic in the calculations. Younger and healthier applicants who are seeking short-term policies will generally pay lower premiums. 

About the author: Georgina Clatworthy is a UK based freelance writer producing informative articles on topics relating to finance, business and law. With life insurance premiums being very affordable it makes sense to ensure coverage is in place should the unthinkable happen. Comparison website,  www.monkey.co.uk can help provide details of a range of policies from across the market and help you find the cover and premium which suits you best.  

* Image license: US-PD