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Social Networking Sites – An Easy Catch For Identity Thieves

Social Networking Sites – An Easy Catch For Identity Thieves

Millions of people worldwide subscribe to social networking sites.  Famous sites boast for their huge membership. Registration process of these sites requires you to provide basic personal details about you. That’s fine. However, when you proceed to create a web page on your account, you are tempted to give more personal information which you would not have given to strangers. 

Your page is open for viewing to all the users and anyone can pick up important details from there.  If you enter the details like date of birth, place of work, your mother’s maiden name and names of spouses or partners, they are all strategic ones and they would not have been available to strangers so easily otherwise. 

On the basis of this information, thieves may be able to impersonate.  They may also be able to guess your passwords.  In addition, you may get some phishing e-mails.  If you inadvertently respond to such e-mails, you may be furnishing valuable details to the thieves.

If you want to minimize the risk of fraud, there are very simple strategies –

1.    You should only use your first name on an alias instead of your full name on these sites. Your friends should be interested in your first name!

2.    You can always share information with others but try to avoid posting your phone numbers or workplace information or names of your family members or nearest relatives.

3.    When you register for social networking sides, open a new email account and provide it for registration purposes.  This e-mail account should be different than your normal account so that you can avoid all junk mail in your normal account.

4.    You should ignore requests from strangers to be your friend.

5.    You should not open e-mails unless and until you are sure about the sender.  There are many e-mails sent in the name of reputed financial institutions asking for your personal details and pin numbers.  It is always advisable to delete these mails even without opening them. The banks never ask your information through mails.

6.    Customize your settings – You should set your privacy settings in such a manner that the strangers will have a limited access when they view your profile.

There is nothing wrong in participating in social networking sites.  That is part of your social life.  However, by being smart you can avoid providing strategic details and clues about your identity.  That will save you from all future headaches and perhaps thousands of dollars.…

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Stock Markets Recent Strength – Cause For Optimism Or Fear?

Stock Markets Recent Strength – Cause For Optimism Or Fear?

The themes in the news really remain focused on the state of the economy with the key GDP statistic released on Friday unexpectedly bad. Company specific news of any major significance remains secondary.

The strength of the FTSE continues to surprise as it still manages to cling on to its best run since 1993 with the index closing the week above 4,500 some 10.9% rise since the start of the latest rally. This reading is all the more strange given that every forecaster expects any recovery to be frail at best, with the BOE being the dissenting voice at the start of the week, however the GDP figures released on Friday showing the drop in output now at 5.6% and the quarterly fall of 0.8% more than double the 0.3% average expected by City analysts.

Part of the reason for the rally in global indeces could be explained by the fact that hedge fund assets under management continue to recover, particularly in the US. There is also some speculation that the glut of money still in China could be finding its way into funds that are used for stock market investing. Can the rally continue? One commentator in the weekend’s papers pointed out that developed markets are looking expensive when compared to historical valuations, and that the levels of emerging market indeces almost defy belief. Another interesting comparison that was made in the same article was that of Japan – the Nikkei 225 halved in 1990, it then rallied for five months, which coincidentally this latest rally has been ongoing. Japanese stocks then proceeded to halve in value over the next 19 years.

There is ongoing mention in the press that bankers are still being paid large bonuses angering the general public on both sides of the Atlantic. This is exaggerated given that they still display an obvious reluctance to lend to small businesses with last month’s figures showing a further fall. The FSA’s chairman’s comments that banks could be forced to set aside more capital against loans is likely to serve to worsen the issue and his comments give some insight as to the thinking within the Basel committee that sets the standards for capital requirements for the world’s banks.

The UK Government borrowing in June came in at record of £13bn vs. £7.5bn a year ago on falling tax revenues. This can only be expected to increase and the spectre of tax rises must also remain a threat if this trend continues.

The worry that Swine flu is likely to affect the retail sector despite the positive data out in the week is still evident as Next calls into question some of its more bullish forecast following a good start to the summer after weather in June. The only possible winners from a worsening of the pandemic remain the drug companies with Glaxo SmithKline say that an order for its Relenza treatment could generate revenue of £600m.

Other news in retail states that Waitrose and Morrisons are the best performing supermarkets in the UK at the expense of rivals’ market share.

On the negative side there are still signs that the British public are reluctant to spend their hard earned money on going out with pubs apparently closing at a rate of 52 a week as British drinkers reign in their past habits.

Back on to the housing market and despite a decent month on month rise in mortgage lending figures it still seems as though there are problems out there as close to 10% of agreed purchases in the UK are not able to complete as the buyer is unable to secure the necessary mortgage financing they require.…

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Keeping Track of Finance News

Keeping Track of Finance News

The financial world is very volatile and every moment there are frequent changes in the economic activities around the world. The market is strongly driven by speculations and emotions and so the slightest of activities can have a deep impact on the position of the market. Events like political unrest, civil uprising, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, increase in oil prices and diplomatic failures can completely change the course of the market.

People who are involved in the financial sector should keep a track of all kinds of development in this sector. Also those who invest in the equities market will be largely affected by such development as the prices of shares change rapidly, based on the market situation and other external factors. So, investors should be in a good position to foresee any drastic change in share prices that can lead them to incur losses. This is why it is important for investors to keep a track of finance news on a regular basis.

Sources of Finance News:

Internet: The internet is the best source of all kinds of information and so there are many sites that can give you a lot of information about the business world. Sites like Google Finance, Yahoo Finance etc. will give you live market updates and information about stock markets from around the world. Also the stock prices of most big corporations, which are listed in various stock exchanges, can also be obtained from these sites.

News Channels: There are many news channels dedicated to broadcasting business and market news and they also highlight all events that can affect the markets. You can also get live news tickers about stock prices, performances of various stock exchanges etc. Another benefit of watching these channels is that you get to know opinions of market experts about the kind of stocks or mutual funds that one can invest on to get maximum benefits.

Newspapers: Business newspapers come with articles dedicated to the various happenings of the business world. There are many pages of information about the market, changes in regulations or laws and expert advice on the right kind of investments.

Business Magazines: These magazines can keep you updated about various corporate initiatives, acquisitions and mergers, stock predictions, economic forecasts, market news etc. They also publish quarterly or annual balance sheets of many companies which will help you in taking smart investment decisions.

These are the most important sources through which one can gain access to finance news.…

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Van Insurance Policies – The Main Types Available

Van Insurance Policies – The Main Types Available

A specialized van insurance policy is vital for anyone that owns a van (or vans) for money-making reasons. Commercial van owners are legally required to take out insurance. However, even without legal ramifications, driving without insurance can be financially detrimental, as accidents, thefts, collisions, and other possible events are not exactly rare. There are a variety of different options, which are outlined below.

Transit Van Insurance – If you use your van to get from one place to another for reasons other than business, you should look into this type of policy. This style of insurance will cover your van for non business use. So if you have to take items from one location and drop them off at another place, you are covered. If you search for this type of insurance on the Internet, it is likely you will find some excellent discounts. In most cases you could receive a 10% to 20% discount when purchasing insurance online. A great choice when every dollar counts and you need good coverage.

Short Term Van Insurance – Do you require insurance only over short intervals? Short term van insurance can save your company money, since you only keep the van insured when you are using it. This type of policy is ideal for those who only use their vans occasionally. If you just drive a van for your business every so often, maintaining coverage at all times may not be desirable. Short term insurance could be a way to maintain adequate coverage while saving your company money.

Courier Van Insurance – This type of insurance is perfect if you transport and convey goods to other individuals or businesses. Not only will your van be covered in the untimely event of an accident or theft, but the goods inside will be covered from loss as well. Losing the value of the contents inside the van could sometimes be more detrimental than the loss of the vehicle itself. In order to make sure your courier business is protected from the ultimate loss, be sure to purchase this type of insurance.

Fleet Van Insurance – Do you own an extensive line of vans for your business? If so, fleet van insurance would be a cost effective option for insurance coverage. In fact, purchasing individual policies for each van can quickly break the bank. By purchasing a policy that will cover the entire fleet of vans, a business can spread out their risk, which decreases the cost of insurance. There are numerous insurance companies that provide fleet coverage and are willing to provide huge discounts as long as multiple vans comprise the package.…

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Investment Banks – Just What Are They?

Investment Banks – Just What Are They?

We hear the term “investment bank” on a daily basis. These banks are vilified for their role in the financial crisis and criticized for the profits they reap and the large compensation packages for their employees. But many people have no idea what they are or what they do. Let’s take a look at the role i-banks play in the financial services industry and the economy at large.

So what is an investment bank? First of all, they are very different than the commercial banks we are all familiar with. They do not take deposits like the retail bank on the corner. Instead, they primarily assist in the buying, selling and issuing of securities – that is stocks, bonds and similar financial instruments.

They assist companies and institutions on “buy side” and “sell side” activities. The buy side refers to the advising of institutions concerned with buying assets and securities. Entities that engage in buy side activities include private equity funds, mutual funds, hedge funds, pension funds and proprietary trading desks. The sell side refers to a broad range of activities, including broking and dealing securities, investment banking, advisory functions and investment research.

The core functions of an i-bank include investment banking – otherwise known as corporate finance – sales and trading and research. Some larger investment banks also perform other services like investment management or merchant banking, but let’s take a closer look at the core three.

Investment Banking (Corporate Finance)

Investment banking can be a confusing term because many people use it to refer to any activities performed by an i-bank. More specifically, though, investment banking refers to assisting companies with raising capital and giving advice on mergers and acquisitions.

The corporate finance department of a bank is the group that works with a company to put together an initial public offering (IPO). Or, if a company already has public stock outstanding, they might put together a follow-on offering, which is simply an additional issuance of stock shares. The corporate finance department can also help companies raise capital through private placements, which often involve securing capital from private equity groups.

Should the ownership of a company seek to sell the entire enterprise, the corporate finance department can also advise on M&A transactions. They can help identify potential buyers and negotiate a sale of the entire company. Likewise, if a company is in the market for acquiring other enterprises, this group can advise on acquisitions.

Another service that the corporate finance department might offer is the delivery of fairness opinions. In a fairness opinion, an investment bank will perform an analysis of a potential acquisition and render an opinion as to whether a reasonable price is being offered for the target company.

Sales and Trading

Sales and trading is perhaps the primary service that an i-bank can offer. There are often two major divisions within sales and trading – institutional and retail. The institutional division buys and sells financial products for institutional clients such as mutual funds, pension funds, etc. The retail division buys and sells financial products for retail investors. Stock brokers fall into this area.

The sales and trading department engages in market making. Market making involves buying and selling financial instruments in order to make an incremental profit on each trade.

Sales and trading can also engage in proprietary trading. Proprietary trading involves a special group of traders who do not work with clients. These traders take on “principal risk”, which involves buying or selling a product and does not hedge his total exposure. By managing the amount of risk on its balance sheet, an investment bank can maximize its profitability.

The sales and trading department also interacts with the corporate finance department on the issuance of IPOs and follow-on offerings. It is the sales and trading department that builds a book for a particular stock by calling up institutional and retail investors to judge the interest for the offering. They then price the initial sales value on the day of the offering and begin selling the new shares to their clients.

Depending on the size of an offering or the desired mix of investors for the offering, several investment banks may be involved in issuing shares to the public. This group of banks constitute the syndicate and are responsible for selling the shares involved in the offering.

Research

The research department is staffed by research analysts. These are the people who often appear on business news programs and talk about the performance of a particular company or stock. The role of the research department is to analyze companies and writes research reports that discuss their performance potential. These reports often include a “buy” or “sell” recommendation.

The research department on its own does not generate a lot of …

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Guide on Finance – Freedom From Financial Worries

Guide on Finance – Freedom From Financial Worries

If you are puzzled and clueless about your finances, don’t get too worried. There are many ways to handle and organize your finances. Here is a guide on finance to help you get started and free yourself of nagging financial worries.

You could have found the perfect guide on finance but it is important to remember that relieving yourself from financial worries is not an overnight activity. Sorting out your finances in the best possible way will take considerable amount of time and effort. Therefore, a guide on finance is bound to take up some of your valuable time, but in the end you will realize that it was all worth it.

The popular saying that every day is not a Sunday holds very true in case of finances. You may be making good money at one point in your life, however one fine day all your personal finances might start crumpling. To avoid such financial disasters, one of the best things that you can do is to maintain an emergency fund. There are many ways to spend money; you could go shopping in a mall or throw a party for your friends. As much as it is important to enjoy your life and spend a little money every now and then, it is also important to save some extra bit of money for emergency situations. This emergency fund needs to be easily accessible so that you can conveniently withdraw money within a short frame of time during times of emergency.

Any good guide on finance will talk about the importance of an emergency fund. One of the good things about having an emergency fund is that you will not need to depend on your credit card every time you experience an emergency. Credit card payments often come with high interests and this could land you in a deep financial mess. There are many people who are struggling to clear their credit card payments and the interest rates just go higher by the day. When it comes to your very own emergency fund, you have the ease and flexibility to withdraw the money without having to worry about the rising interest rates.

With the economy experiencing a setback, it only makes sense to follow a practical guide on finance. Cost of living is ever on the rise, and interest rates on house loans and other assets are rising too. Not only do big businesses need sound financial advice, but so do the common people. However, not everyone can afford to hire a professional financial adviser. The great news is that practical guide on finance is very much available for free, and you can make good use of it.

From the many guide on finance plans that are available online, you need to choose one that suits your lifestyle. The key to successfully managing your finances lies in your ability to be consistent with your financial plans. During financially troubled times, it immensely helps to focus on financial plans that help you tide through the rough times.…

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5 Myths About Business Insurance

5 Myths About Business Insurance

The sad difficult-to-market truth about public liability insurance is that it doesn’t really care about you as a person. Instead it works out where you are on a spreadsheet, how much you could cost the company and whether you’re worth the risk. It’s a form of gambling whereby if you lose, you sort of win, which is supposed to balance things out. Also, just like gambling, the house always wins and in this case it should win, because if it didn’t, everyone would lose.

That is admittedly a tortured and awkward way of putting things, so now that I’ve successfully confused myself – let alone any of you reading this – into a neat little muddle, let’s go through five popular myths regarding to business insurance.

1. I don’t need insurance because I’m careful

It’s an understandable logic, but it’s not always up to you when you have an accident. Let’s put the fact that everyone has off days to one side for the moment and consider that you cannot always control the factors that circle your life on a daily basis. A good analogy would be driving: it doesn’t matter how careful a driver you are, there are millions of other people on the roads who really aren’t and might be about to leap out of that turning too late for you to do anything about.

Being careful is a given. In fact, insurance is unlikely to cover you at all if you are reckless or have behaved stupidly, but being careful can only stop so many accidents. Business insurance is there to catch the rest.

2. I don’t need employers’ liability for temps or volunteers

This is just plain incorrect. The requirement for insurance is not triggered by you having a full time contract or paying an individual for their services.

If you think about why insurance is there in the first place, this does make sense. You are responsible for the well being of these people because they are doing what you tell them to do (or at least they should be). If they then have an accident or become ill due to something that you’ve done, they should be able to seek compensation for that. Whether the individual involved is paid or not, or is full time or not, really doesn’t and shouldn’t factor into the equation.

3. I’m not big enough to need insurance

This argument can cut both ways. If you’re not that big, you probably can’t afford not to have insurance as well. A single unfortunate accident could put out of business completely. If you’re not a big company, then chances are that unless you do something extraordinarily risky, your premiums won’t be that big either. What you pay is largely dependent on the size and scale of your operations. Equally if you do something that is so dangerous that you have such high premiums, you really can’t afford to not have insurance anyway so you might just have to live with that expense. Additionally, if you’re a small company, you could actually be personally liable for some claims and some of your personal assets could exposed depending on the nature of the liability, so it’s even more important to check up on this.

4. I work from home therefore am covered by my home insurance

That might be something you want to check. Most home insurance policies won’t cover a workplace, and if you work out of a spare room or from the kitchen table, you might find you’ve inadvertently turned part of your home into a commercial property.

Although you probably won’t need anything like public liability insurance as it’s unlikely that you’ll be receiving a large number of visitors, some form of cover for important documents, equipment, or anything else that’s critical to the running of your business might be something you need to look into.

5. If it was that important, it would be a legal requirement

I can understand the logic in this – after all car insurance is a legal requirement, as is employers’ liability, so why not other forms of business cover like public liability insurance?

I’m not sure why it isn’t a legal requirement, but even with this in mind, it would not reflect well on you as a company if you had reached a certain size or level of risk and hadn’t taken it out without a very good reason.…