Is a SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension) a Good Idea for Freelancers

A quarter of British adults have nothing in savings. Meanwhile, one in 10 Brits admits they tend to spend more than they earn. As a freelancer, you can’t get caught without a good nest egg awaiting you during retirement. By setting up a self-invested personal pension (SIPP), you can prepare yourself for the year to come. A SIPP will help you save for retirement without worry you’ll spend your savings. 

What is a SIPP pension exactly, and how does it work?

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about SIPP investments as a freelancer!

What is a SIPP?

First, what exactly is a self-invested personal pension?

A SIPP is a pension that holds all of your investments until you retire and begin drawing a retirement income. This form of personal pension works similarly to a standard personal pension. The main difference, however, is that a SIPP offers more flexibility with the investments you choose.

Once you have your SIPP set up, you can add regular contributions to your nest egg. You can also make ad hoc payments into your self-employment pension. Then, your pension provider will claim tax relief and add it to your savings.

How Does It Work?

How does a SIPP work and help you save for retirement?

With a standard personal pension, all of your investments are managed for you. They’re controlled within the pooled fund you selected. With SIPPS, however, you have the freedom to select and manage your own investments instead. 

You can also pay an experienced, authorised investment manager to make the decisions for you. 

SIPPs are best for people who want to manage their own funds. By giving you control, your self-invested personal pension also allows you to switch investments as you’d like. That way, you have the peace of mind that you’re making investments with your own best interests in mind. 

Why Is It Important as a Freelancer?

The majority of Brits between the ages of 22 and 29 have no more than £1,000 tucked away in savings. If your self-employed, it’s up to you to start a pension on your own. 

Unfortunately, many self-employed people struggle to make ends meet as they grow older. By planning for SIPP investments now, you can prepare yourself for any rocky roads ahead.

There are a few benefits to choosing a SIPP, including:

  • You can receive pension tax relief from the government
  • A strong pension plan will give you low-cost access to professional investment managers
  • The right investment manager can help you invest your money in a range of assets
  • Choosing the right assets can help you manage risk in a sensible way
  • If you die before you turn 75, your pension will pass on to your beneficiaries as a lump sum
  • New pension freedom rules allow you to decide what to do with your pension savings when you reach retirement

As a freelancer, having the freedom to choose what you do with your self-employed pension is essential. Many full-time employees are already paying into a pension. In fact, employers are now obligated to automatically enrol employees into a workplace pensions scheme. 

Other Options

If you’re currently self-employed and want to set up a private pension, start by finding any old workplace and personal pensions established in the past. Then, combine them into your new pension. Completing this process will make your new self-employment pension easier to manage in the long-run.

Working with a financial advisor can make this process easier, too. They can help move your pensions over into their system. Then, they’ll combine and transfer your pensions into your new SIPP pension plan. 

Otherwise, might need to contact your previous pension providers to get your pension balances on your own. 

In addition to a SIPP pension plan, you might decide on other options, including a personal pension or stakeholder pension. Self-employed individuals can also utilise the government scheme National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), too. However, there’s no “best” pension for self-employed workers.

It really depends on your own specific circumstances.

Ideally, try to find a provider who lets you make contributions when you want. As someone who is self-employed, your income might not end up as predictable as you’d like. Having control over the details of your self-employed pension can make it easier to manage. 

Investments

Now that you know a little more about how SIPP investments work, let’s review the assets you can choose from. A few include:

  • Unit trusts
  • Some National Savings and Investment productions
  • Commercial property (shops, offices, factories)
  • Investment trusts
  • Government securities
  • Individual stocks and shares (quotes on the recognised UK or overseas stock exchange)
  • Insurance company funds
  • Traded endowment policies
  • Deposit accounts with banks and building societies 

However, this is only a shortlist. Speaking with an expert can help you explore your options. There are also different SIPP providers who have different investment options available for you to choose from. 

You can’t hold residential property directly within a SIPP with tax advantages that usually accompany pension investments.

However, you can hold residential property in a SIPP through certain types of collection investments. For example, a real estate investment trust would allow you to include the property in a SIPP without you losing tax advantages.

These investments are often subject to restrictions. It’s also important to note that not all SIPP providers will accept this type of investment. 

In addition to your self-invested personal pension, make sure to take the time to develop an overall investment strategy. Planning now will help you in the future.

You can access and use your SIPP more flexibly now. According to new rules, you can now access the money in your SIPP at the age of 55. 

Take a SIPP: Understanding Your Self-Invested Personal Pension as a Freelancer

Prepare for the future and make the most of your money. By understanding the importance of creating a self-invested personal pension, you can save away money as a freelancer. Then, you’ll have what you need to prepare for the day you retire!

Searching for more helpful investment tips? Explore our latest Investment Management guides today.

How to Achieve Living Debt Free Quickly

Nowadays, households in Great Britain owe a sum of around £15,000.

If you find yourself struggling with debt, it can feel like a never-ending slog to pay back each and every penny. 

But, if you’re interested in living debt-free and are ready to put in some hard work and diligent dedication, then luckily it’s possible to completely change your life.

Aside from paying off your high-interest debt first, here are a few more methods for helping you live a debt-free life faster: 

1. Create an Accurate Budget 

In the UK, 10% of people admit that they are terrible with money. But, it’s impossible to pay back debt if you don’t know exactly how much your lifestyle costs you. 

Work out everything from how much you spend on food every week, how much your rent and bills cost, and how much you need for expenses such as travel or childcare. 

Next, work out how much you spend on luxury expenses, such as clothing, going to the cinema, or eating out. 

There are many budget tracking methods including apps, such as Monzo, or simply writing everything down with pen and paper.

Now, budget how much you can spend on monthly debt payments. Don’t overestimate this figure, it needs to be precise to give yourself peace of mind.

2. Take Things Slowly 

Pummelling all of your earnings into paying off your debt is simply not sustainable. You’re likely to give up completely. 

Instead, consider your debt payments as a slow but sustainable practice. Set yourself realistic goals, such as a year or two to pay off your debts. 

Although it’s a good idea to cut down on luxuries, it’s still worth planning when and how you’ll treat yourself. Don’t let your entire working life be spent trying to pay down debt. 

3. Learn to Love the Free Things in Life

There is no point in paying off your debt only to start spending again. You need to develop interests that are free. 

Luckily, there are many free activities nowadays. Join a free running club with other locals, sign up to free trial classes, visit museums, and go to lectures.

You’ll be amazed by how much there is to do for free when you start looking. Regularly attending free events in your hometown is a great way to meet other people with similar interests and avoid those with expensive tastes!

4. Find a Mentor 

Are you struggling to keep up the motivation to pay off your debts? Find someone who has travelled along this path before you to help keep you motivated. 

This could be someone you know in your personal life or it could simply be a celebrity. There are hundreds of podcasts dedicated to finances and living debt-free. 

You’ll find untapped expertise and knowledge that will help you improve your own circumstances. 

For example, read this post by Giles Coghlan, chief currency analyst at HYCM, explaining the secret to trading on the financial markets!

5. What’s Your Reason Why?

Crippling debt has regularly been linked to depression. This is a good reason why you should sort out your finances. 

But, if you aren’t struggling with a mental health issue, then perhaps this isn’t a good enough reason for you. Instead, find your own reason why you want to live debt-free. 

Develop your own mantra that you repeat to yourself whenever you want to make an impulsive purchase. 

6. Leave the Credit Cards Behind 

Figure out why you are in debt. If you are simply an overindulger and spender, then there are many ways for you to trick yourself into avoiding spending money. 

For example, taking only the exact amount of cash you need with you whenever you go out can stop you from spending too much on nights out.  

However, if you are a struggling, single-parent, then speak to your local authorities and even your bank who may help you reduce your monthly payments. 

Analyse your circumstances and the reasons for being in debt to help you avoid this situation in the future and repeating the same behaviour. 

7. Generate More Income

This is an aggressive method for paying off debt that simply isn’t available to everyone. But, it can certainly help you get out of debt quicker. 

By picking up a second job for a few months, you’ll drastically increase how much you earn. But, don’t ever put your mental health at risk by overworking yourself.

Only take a second job if you feel that you feasibly have the time and energy to do this.

Alternatively, consider other ways of making money such as selling unwanted clothes, furnishings, jewellery and kitchenware online. If you have a spare room, then consider renting out your room. 

8. Build a Savings Account for Emergencies

As well as focusing on paying off debt, a good idea is to build an emergency fund. By doing this, you’ll have an out when something doesn’t go to plan. 

By building up this fund of a few thousand pounds, you will have the peace of mind that you don’t have to stay in a job you hate, or that you can afford rent somewhere else if your tenancy is pulled from under your feet. 

While paying off debt and building your savings account, be kind to yourself. Not everything is going to go right every month. 

Can You Imagine Living Debt Free?

Picture how great you will feel when you are debt-free and have some savings in the bank. Living debt-free requires dedication and time.

When you’ve paid off your debts, you need to make sure that you don’t slip into your old ways and spend more than you earn. If you’re struggling to pay off your debts, then consider speaking to a financial advisor or make an appointment at your bank.

Are you interested in learning more about finance? Check out the dedicated section of our blog for more information.

How to Form an Investing Strategy For European Markets

Europe is a global economic nexus, an incredibly stable and developed market.

Its heart is EU, which operates as a single market of 28 different states and 500 million customers. Technology and innovation are driving forces behind slow but steady growth.

This upward trajectory instils confidence when it comes to investment prospects. Many lucrative opportunities are just a few clicks away. You can pursue them without running into risks that emerging markets are rife with.  

Alas, launching an international investment endeavour is a daunting task. You have to do your homework and tailor the investing strategy to specifics of the landscape.

Here is a guide on how to establish a strong foothold and enhance your portfolio.

Doing the Spadework

The European market is a mature, diverse, and liquid ecosystem.

The investment risk is low, save in times of crisis. Europe is also a highly dynamic and competitive investment arena, home to leading companies of today.  

Yes, it’s easily one of the most inviting investing destinations. However, succeeding is easier said than done. To maximise your chances, you have to show due diligence.

Start by running a proper market analysis and scour the continent to discover where the best opportunities are. Evaluate your risk tolerance and put a risk management strategy in place. Two main weapons for chipping away at risk are market knowledge and portfolio diversification.

We would implore you to pay special attention to the currency risk. We’re talking about fluctuations in the foreign exchange market. They can be a double-edged sword, spurring both unexpected losses and profits.

Once research tasks are sorted out, set your chief objectives. Do you want to go for foreign direct investment (FDI) or portfolio investment? Is your goal to have a small portion of shares, source raw materials or control a whole company?

Get your priorities straight before moving to the next stage.  

The Main Pathways to Investment Glory

One of the easiest ways to gain exposure is thru exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The three main options are:

They offer simple means of portfolio diversification, unlike the US, which is a predominantly stock-based market. It’s possible to invest in hundreds of different companies, as well as specific industries/countries. At the same time, you can avoid the steep fees associated with mutual funds.

Familiarity is another benefit you can score. Europe harbours some of the most renowned names in modern business.  

There is also an alternative approach, which is two-fold. The first tactic is buying American Depository Receipts (ADRs). The second one is acquiring stocks via foreign stock brokers.

The drawback is you have to worry about legal and tax issues. You also face hurdles such as translating foreign languages and currencies. On top of that, it can be tricky to conduct in-depth research on foreign stocks.

Note that ADRs are free of these risks. Unfortunately, they are limited to large foreign corporations that boast liquidity in spades.

The Million Dollar Question of Where

It makes a lot of sense to examine investing opportunities thru regional lenses.

Eastern Europe is an interesting region due to the potential for rapid growth. Investors comfortable with higher risks head there chasing hefty profit margins.

On the other hand, one enters Western European markets for reasons other than explosive growth. Namely, those who favour a climate with low volatility should feel at home here.

Germany is probably a must-consider, as the largest economy of Europe. It houses many of the top-500 publically traded companies in the world. County’s biggest companies (by market capitalisation) are available via the DAX 30 index, which is similar to the Dow Jones index in the US.

In terms of other, small economies, there are certain rules of thumb. You want to pay close attention to conditions like domestic policies and international agreements. These are the main tools countries employ in order to attract foreign investment.  

Apart from that, it’s a good idea to stick to predictable and transparent markets. EU member states have an advantage in this regard. Common institutions handle and synchronise investment rules, including areas like dispute resolution.  

The Old-School Way

Beyond that, you should feel free to invest in asset classes such as property.

The yields tend to be higher than in the case of bonds. This trend persists across different regions and states. What is more, the returns are often adjusted up for inflation.

This is to say real estate investment can act as a blanket insulating you from monetary risk. Besides, the spectrum of possibilities is very wide. You can aim for steady cash flow or speculative profit.                

One piece of advice is to keep an eye on hot local markets such as Amsterdam. There, a combination of limited supply, demographic influx, and scarce land inflates prices year after year.

Finally, we shouldn’t overlook the commodities.  

This traditional asset class involves minerals, fossil fuels, ores, crops, and trees. Propelled by global economic growth, the consumption and demand remain stable, while supply is finite.

Again, one of the main benefits is protection against inflation. Of course, commodities also come with risks such as price volatility. Just take the example of gold, which has been on a rollercoaster in recent years.

The lesson to draw is clear: be ever vigilant and be advised.

Investing Strategy for Europe: Taking Portfolio to the Next Level

The world’s largest regional economy is a Promised Land for many investors.

However, that doesn’t mean profits are just there for the taking. You need to put together a smart investing strategy before anything else. Rely on facts and figures to make it as sound as the Euro.

Likewise, make sure to assess your risk tolerance and financial appetites. Pick your region and industry sector accordingly. Identify up-and-coming companies and business champions with a bright future.  

You can hardly go wrong fuelling your investments via European ETFs.

Just stay quick on your feet and steer away from pitfalls in the shifting monetary dimension. Keep up the pace with changing regulations and standards. Following these steps, you should be able to make headways into burgeoning European markets.  

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any lingering questions and dilemmas. It’s time to elevate and diversify your portfolio.  

The Ultimate Guide to British Taxes

The United Kingdom has a long list of tax codes, so it might seem confusing. However, British taxes are relatively simple for many people.

Unless you have a slew of properties and investments, you don’t have to know a lot to pay your taxes. All you need to know is how you earn money and how much, and you can determine what taxes you need to pay.

Basics of British Taxes

If you live in the United Kingdom, you should have a basic understanding of British taxes. Whether you grew up in the UK or an ex-pat living abroad, you need to know what taxes to pay and how to pay them.

In the UK, there is a long list of tax codes, so it can be complicated. However, you don’t need to understand everything, only what applies to you and your situation.

You don’t need to be a UK citizen to pay taxes, but you will need a national insurance number. You’ll typically get a number when you work in the UK, and this gives you access to certain benefits.

Residency and British Taxes

Whether you’re a citizen or not, you may still have to pay British taxes. If you live in the country during a tax year, you’ll have to pay taxes on the income you earn there.

Only UK citizens have to pay British taxes on income from other countries. Citizens of other countries may be eligible for a tax allowance, which prevents you from paying taxes on income to two different countries.

There are a few factors you can use to determine your residency status.

  • If you stay in the UK for 183 days out of the year, you will count as a UK resident.
  • You can also count as a resident if you buy a home and live in it for at least 91 days, as long as 30 of those days are within the tax year.
  • Another way to be considered a resident is to work in the UK for 356 days with no long breaks from work.

Determining your residency can help you figure out what taxes you need to pay and whether you qualify for certain allowances. However, you have to consider the UK tax year when calculating dates of work or residency.

The UK Tax Year

In the UK, the tax year starts on 6 April. The UK tax year ends on 5 April of the following year.

While it can be easy to consider the calendar year, it can be a problem. If you fit the qualifications for residency, you need to make sure you base that off the tax year.

The same is true if you don’t want to qualify as a UK resident. In that case, you would need to make sure you’re out of the country for the proper length of time.

What Taxes Do You Have to Pay?

When learning about British taxes, you should understand the basic types of taxes. Like other countries, you will probably have to pay income taxes.

However, depending on your situation, you may have a few other types of taxes to consider.

Income Taxes

Income taxes are the easiest type of tax to think about. The amount of income you earn determines how much you owe in taxes.

Your income taxes include money you make from a traditional job. However, it can also include income from other sources:

  • Self-employment income
  • Certain state benefits
  • Benefits from a job
  • Pensions
  • Interest on savings accounts
  • Rental income
  • Income from a trust

You will typically get some sort of tax allowance, which means you won’t have to pay taxes on some of your income. The Personal Allowance covers income you earn up to £12,500.

If you have freelance income or income from a rental property, you won’t have to pay taxes on the first £1,000 you earn. The tax rates for income tax vary from 0 to 45 percent.

Property Taxes

If you own any property in the UK, you will need to pay taxes on that property. When you buy a home worth more than £125,000, you’ll need to pay a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).

However, you won’t have to pay SDLT on your first home unless it’s worth more than £300,000.

SDLT has different tiers, and that can determine the amount you’ll pay in property taxes. If you have to pay taxes, you will need to figure out the value of your home.

  • For houses up to £125,000, you won’t ever pay any taxes.
  • Between £125,000 and £250,000, you’ll pay 2 percent.
  • The tax rate from £250,000 to £925,000 is 5 percent.
  • If your home is up to £1.5 million, you will pay 10 percent on the value over £925,000.
  • Finally, any value over £1.5 million will have a tax of 12 percent.

While you may not need to pay proper taxes at first, you may need to in the future.

Capital Gains Taxes

Another type of tax you should know about in the UK is the capital gains tax. You’ll only need to pay this type of tax when you dispose of an asset, especially when you make a profit.

You can expect to pay this tax if you sell property, give it as a gift, or exchange it. The tax applies to possessions worth more than £6,000, except for your car.

It also includes property that isn’t your main home, business assets, and some investment shares.

Inheritance Taxes

Inheritance taxes are not too common, but you should know about them if you have family in the UK. When you inherit an estate, you may need to pay a UK inheritance tax.

If the value of the estate is less than £325,000, you won’t have to pay anything. You can also avoid the tax if you leave the value over that threshold to your spouse, children, or a qualifying organization.

VAT

A more common type of tax to pay in the UK is VAT, or Value Added Tax. The tax rate varies based on the type of goods or services you purchase.

It can be as low as 0 percent or as high as 20 percent. Twenty percent is the standard rate, while food and children’s clothes can qualify for no VAT.

Other goods and services might have a reduced rate of five percent. Don’t forget to budget for VAT when making purchases.

Tax Facts

Whether you’ve lived in the UK your whole life or just moved there, you should understand how British taxes work. Not only should you consider the tax rates, but you should also consider the types of taxes.

If you know you have certain investments or properties, you’ll know you need to pay taxes on them. However, if you don’t have any of that, you will primarily have to worry about income taxes.

Do you want to learn more about finances in the UK, check out our recent blog posts!

A Beginner’s Guide to Investing in Foreign Currency

More than $5 trillion is traded in foreign currency exchanges every day. Could you jump into investing in foreign currency and get a piece of that amount?

Absolutely! However, trading foreign currency is not as simple as it might sound. A beginner who tries to invest without some knowledge of what they’re doing will find success hard to come by.

There are many insider things to learn about this form of trading. If you’re considering getting into the game, we want to make sure you’re equipped to do so.

In this article, we’re laying out the basics of investing in foreign currency. We’re giving you the terms and the concepts so that you have what you need on hand before you pull the trigger on your first trade.

What is Forex?

Forex is the term used for trading in foreign currency. It is also the Foreign Exchange Market where currencies are traded. Forex is managed by banks and financial institutions rather than a centralized exchange like the Nasdaq.

Forex is, at its simplest, the buying and/or selling of two currencies. It uses the value of one currency against another to determine prices for buying and selling.

The exchange rate is the rate at which your trade will occur. The exchange rate is the value of one country’s currency against another. It is shown as a ratio, so, for example, 1 Euro might be worth 1.68 US Dollars.

Which Currencies Can You Trade?

Investing in foreign currency is always done in pairs. Pairs of currencies are represented by 2 three-letter codes put together. The codes are for each currency in the pair. 

For example, EURUSD is a pairing of Euros and US Dollars. The first currency is the base and the second is the quote. 

Pairings of currencies come in 3 categories. The categories are major, minor, and exotics.

Major Pairings

Major pairings are a combination of two of the major currencies of the world. The major currencies are:

  • US Dollars (USD)
  • Euro (EUR) 
  • Japanese Yen (JPY)
  • British Pound Sterling (GBP)
  • Swiss Franc (CHF)
  • Canadian Dollar (CAD)
  • Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • New Zealand Dollar (NZD)

When beginners start investing in foreign currency major pairings draw their attention because they fluctuate more and more often.

Minor Pairings

Minor pairings feature one or more of the major pairing currencies but never the US Dollar.

Exotics

Exotics combine a heavily traded (usually a major currency) with a lightly traded currency. For example, you might combine the US Dollar with the Brazilian Real for a minor pairing.

Keys to Investing in Foreign Currency

When you are starting your journey into investing in foreign currency you need to be aware of terms, how to buy and sell, and what you can expect from your trade.

Buying Foreign Currency

When you want to buy foreign currency you are buying the base currency and selling the quote currency in the pairing you have chosen. So, if you want to buy US Dollars and sell British pounds you will have a pairing of USDGBP.

If you are buying currency you want the value of your pairing to rise. You can then sell it later if it falls to make a profit.

Selling Foreign Currency

The opposite is true if you are selling currency. In that scenario, you will still have a pairing of USDGBP but you will be selling the base currency and buying the quote currency.

When selling currency you want the pairing to fall in value. That way you can buy it back later if it rises in value.

Liquidity

Liquidity is the amount of demand for any given currency. Liquid currencies are bought and sold more frequently. The more liquid a pairing is the more likely you will be able to buy and sell at a profit. 

Major pairs are usually more liquid than minor or exotic pairs. This is because there is more international trading of major pairs and more demand for the base and quote currencies.

Liquidity is measured in pips. Pips represent 0.0001 of the quoted price for the pair. If a pair has a quoted price of 1.57789 and moves to 1.57790 that is a change of 1 pip. 

Pairings with more liquidity will typically have changes of around 100 pips a day. Pairings with less liquidity have changes of 50 pips or lower a day. 

Bid and Ask

The terms “bid” and “ask” are also important to understand when investing in foreign currency.

The bid is what a broker will pay you for a pairing. The ask is what the broker will want you to pay for a pair.

The difference between the two numbers is called the spread. So, if the bid is, say 1.5111 and the ask is 1.5115 the spread is 0.0004, or 4 pips. In order to make a profit from a buying trade, you’ll need the pair to cross the spread above 1.5115.  

Study So That You Know All About Investing in Foreign Currency

Forex trading is tricky. Spend time learning about the pairings. Investigate trends and spreads, and look at how liquid a pairing is before you jump in.

Because pairs of currencies don’t move a lot, up or down, investing in foreign currency does not result in huge gains or losses for beginners. 

The language and terms can be confusing. It’s an insider’s lingo. Make sure you know what all the things in this article refer to.

At the same time, Forex trading can be fun and rewarding. 

If you’d like advice on how to get started with your first Forex trades get in touch with us. We understand the foreign currency markets, and we have a wealth of knowledge to help you make the best choices on pairings and trades. We look forward to helping you. 

Brexit Opportunities: How Small Businesses are Impacted by Brexit (Plus Ways to Pivot)

Brexit is nothing short of a political tsunami, unlike anything we’ve seen in recent UK history.

It sent powerful shockwaves across the economic landscape. Small business owners are scrambling to grasp the magnitude and nature of this disruption. They have to deal with looming uncertainty and revamp their strategies, which doesn’t come easy.

But, to be fair, it’s not all doom and gloom out there.

There’s no shortage of emerging Brexit opportunities to expand, pivot, and grow your small business. They are concealed both in unexpected places and in plain sight. Leveraging them is a matter of survival in the harsh business environment.

Here is how to navigate the treacherous waters are emerge stronger than ever before.

A Deafening Wake-Up Call

We probably don’ have to repeat all the ways in which Brexit has disaster written over it.

There is a slew of notions floating around in public, which those sentiments. Instead, we want to offer something that comes in short supply– the good news.  

You can work your way around new obstacles and business risks on the road to business success. Indeed, Brexit gives us plenty of reasons to rethink our approach.

So, the first thing to do is educate yourself on all the practical consequences. The main goals are to identify opportunities amidst the chaos. They are your chance to position your business better and elevate its profile.

Some opportunities exist in the long-term horizon, while others involve a limited window of opportunity. They are also more applicable to some companies than others. There simply aren’t easy solutions and clear-cut answers.

On Top of the Game

To get on top of decision-making, factor in the particularities of your business case.

The following elements should be a part of the equation:

  • Size of the company
  • Growth/lifecycle stage
  • Industry sector
  • Type of products/services
  • Geographical presence

It’s safe to say these aspects don’t carry the same weight. Nevertheless, none of them are to be ignored.

First off, Brexit opens doors to various opportunities beyond the EU. In case you already export or serve customers overseas, that’s great news for you. If anything, it could significantly boost your sales and reinforce the market foothold.

This is also possible thanks to a weaker pound, which is conducive to export-oriented businesses. In other words, a lower exchange rate makes UK goods cheaper. It also acts as a magnet for foreign investment.

Two Sides of the Coin

The flip side is that imports are going to be more expensive.

Hence, businesses that rely on them will struggle to maintain operational profitability. One way to overcome this obstacle is to seek more UK-based partners.

Yes, such a transition requires time, resources, and thoughtful planning. But, it can pay dividends down the road.

Rest assured domestic demand is poised to surge in the wake of Brexit. In many cases, customers will be tempted to forgo foreign brands because they’ve become pricier. This is to say many UK businesses will be more competitive than their counterparts from abroad.

Of course, these are all general predictions that may not always hold to the scrutiny of reality.  

A lot will depend on the ability of the government to negotiate favourable bilateral deals. Therefore, keep up with the changes in trade tariffs, as well as currency fluctuations.

Thriving in an Unforgiving Climate

Another major influence of Brexit is regulation getting less stringent.

Yes, in general, the UK is likely to stay aligned with the EU legal framework. At the same time, however, it might diverge from it in some important ways.

This development will give more wiggle room to UK businesses. It will facilitate certain key business processes, making them quicker and possibly cheaper.  

Furthermore, bear in mind there’s one great way to capitalize on Brexit.

Namely, you could try to address newly-arising customers’ concerns and dilemmas.  The idea is to discover pain points in relation to leaving the EU and attempt to mitigate them.

A consultancy service is an obvious choice, especially for those who possess the necessary skills and expertise. But, this kind of small business is far from the only option. In fact, it’s more of a short-term, situational opportunity.

A Breath of Fresh Air

A more approachable alternative would be to refine your products and services according to the wants and needs of post-Brexit customers.

Some of the focal points to guide the process are:

These opportunities aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions. For example, legal firms are inclined to gravitate toward employment law. What is more, they could prosper by aiding UK firms in hiring employees aboard.

On the other hand, accountants may want to jump on VAT changes. A lot of businesses need assistance in comprehending them, as well as in refining related processes.

The bottom line is: conduct extensive market research and see what makes sense in your context.

Making a Strong Account of Yourself

To go the extra mile, establish yourself as a reputable expert.

Share your insights and experience with how your small business is coping with change. Turn your networking, publishing, and personal brand-building efforts a notch. Take part in discussions on how the industries ought to respond to disruption.  

Consider joining Brexit committees sprouting up recently. Get in touch with trade associations and other relevant organisations to figure out where these opportunities lie. Government consultations could also deliver a nice boost and put you close to the source of information.

Beyond that, you should feel free to explore other avenues. Trends such as automation aren’t exclusively tied to Brexit, but they certainly enable small businesses to move ahead.

Make sure you don’t miss out on those.

Brexit Opportunities: You Can Either Shape Up or Ship Out

Brexit implications come in all shapes and forms, ranging from good to bad and ugly.

This is a less-than-ideal turn of events, but it shouldn’t give rise to panic. You’re much better off embracing a proactive, paced, and strategic approach.

Do your homework to properly assess the reconfigured ecosystem. Recalibrate your business strategies and processes in the light of Brexit.

For instance, you may need to start looking either closer to home or further away from the EU neighbourhood. Make do with new tools to cover vital business functions and pave the way for expansion.

These are the stepping stones to gaining a powerful edge in the brave new market. It’s time to seize lucrative Brexit opportunities before the competition beats you to it.

Check out the entries in our economics and business section to stay in the know and future-proof your business.

Should You Open a Joint Bank Account with a Business Partner?

When you first start your business, having one bank account may have been enough to handle your financial needs. Now that you’ve grown, you’re wondering if it’s time to consider a joint bank account for your business.

Opening a joint bank account could make it much easier to handle your business’ financial needs. 

Have you never had a joint bank account? Are you curious about the benefits and disadvantages of having one?

We’re going to give you a quick rundown on what you need to know about having a joint account.

What Is a Joint Bank Account?

The concept of a joint bank account isn’t difficult to understand. Essentially, a joint bank account can allow different account holders to deposit and withdraw money. 

In terms of function, there isn’t much difference between having a joint bank account and a regular bank account for your business.

Each account holder will have their own chequebook and debit card that can allow them to make purchases or take out money at ATMs.

They’ll be able to access their account online and have all of the regular functions associated with a normal account.

Most joint bank accounts only have two account holders like spouses or two business partners, but you don’t have to stop at giving only two people access. You can open a joint bank account with three people, five people, or as many as you desire.

Joint Bank Account Pros 

Opening a joint bank account with your business partner can have a lot of benefits.

If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not opening one is the right thing to do, take some time to learn about all of the different ways having a joint account can help you and your business partner.

Transparency   

Does it occasionally feel like you and your partner are on completely different pages when it comes to finance? Opening a joint bank account can give you some much-needed insight into your spending and cash flow.

It’s easy to say that you’ll always let someone know when you make a big withdrawal or deposit, but emergencies and last-minute purchases do happen. 

Juggling multiple bank accounts for one business can start to be a little tricky. Eventually, you’ll start to lose track of what’s in each account. 

When you have a joint account, you and your business partner can handle making all of your purchases and manage all of your business expenses out of one account. It’ll make paying bills and managing finances a lot easier. 

Having two sets of eyes on the same account can also be helpful when you’re balancing the books and making purchasing decisions.

You may think that you’re able to make a purchase, but your partner can double-check your numbers to be completely sure.

Speed

You’ve found the perfect office space for your growing team and the realtor you’re talking to wants you to make an offer fast. Unfortunately, your partner has your bank account information, and they’re on vacation for the next 10 days.

Working out of a single bank account can seriously slow down some of the work and decisions you want to make.

When you have a joint account, you won’t have to worry about delaying any important purchasing decisions. As long as you have your account information, you can make purchases whenever you want.

Extra Insurance

You’d like to think that every deposit you make is foolproof, but you never know what can go wrong.

The person that wrote you a cheque may have miscalculated how much they have in their account. It’s even possible that the bank itself could have problems with clearing deposits.

You may not know this, but both the FDIC and NCUA provide $250,000 of federally backed insurance coverage for each depositor. This is done in case of bank failure.

If you open a joint account with your business partner, that $250,000 will turn into $500,000. This can give you some extra much-needed protection in case anything goes wrong. 

Joint Bank Account Cons

So far it may seem like opening a joint account could be the best thing you do for your business, but it isn’t for everyone.

There are plenty of benefits that come with having a joint account, but there are downsides too. Before you decide on opening your joint account, make sure you keep these potential downsides in mind.

No Individual Protection 

Depending on how you set up your account, creditors could have the ability to claim funds in your shared account.

If your partner is going through financial trouble or a legal matter like a divorce or lawsuit, the money you have in your joint account could be used to settle legal matters. 

You may have deposited the vast majority of the money into the account, but since the account will be in both of your names, you could lose money if creditors come after your partner.

Security Concerns 

If you give more than one person access to your secure bank account, you’ll leave yourself open to potential problems with security. 

Your business partner may accidentally lose their wallet or have it stolen. Someone getting a hold of their debit card could be enough to drain the money you have. 

Physical things don’t have to be stolen for your account to be compromised. Logging in to your bank account of a public device and forgetting to log out could be enough to put your business finances at risk.

Choose Wisley 

Ultimately, you should only open a joint bank account with your business partner if you truly trust them. 

You won’t want to share a joint account with someone that has a history of making bad money decisions, isn’t responsible, or could have serious legal trouble on the horizon. 

Do you have more questions about baking for your business? We have a lot of helpful content that can help business owners make the best decisions possible around their banking needs.

Be sure to browse all of the content in our banking tagged posts so you can learn everything you need to know about banking when you own a business.

How to Get a Secured Business Line of Credit the Right Way

A secured business line of credit is one of the best loans an owner can get.

Business is all about maximizing profits and earning a passive income. Unfortunately, not everyone has the necessary funds to start a business. This can leave many people struggling to figure out how they’ll start the business of their dreams.

Businesses borrow money for a variety of reasons, mostly to invest and make purchases benefit them. While there are a plethora of loan types, a line of credit is the only type that allows a business to keep borrowing. 

Keep on reading to learn more about lines of credit and how to get one!

What Is a Secured Business Line of Credit?

A secured business line of credit is a type of loan that you can use whenever you’d like. The line of credit (LOC) is the maximum amount that you’re able to borrow.

One of the most common lines of credit is the credit card. A credit card can be used continuously, so businesses can opt for these or other types of LOC.

If your LOC is £5,000, you can’t borrow past that. However, you can continue to borrow providing that you pay some of the money back. If you’ve maxed out your line of credit, paying off £1,000 would allow you to start borrowing up to £1,000 again. 

What makes a secured line of credit different from an unsecured line of credit is that, unlike an unsecured LOC, you need to provide collateral.

Collateral can come in the form of many things. When it comes to businesses, they’ll usually offer property and equipment as collateral.

Obtaining Traditional Bank Credit

A line of credit can be acquired at most banks and credit institutions. Many businesses will opt for traditional bank credit because it’s secure and can provide a lot of funds. The best private banks have better rates than public ones, so consider that when you’re looking for a loan.

Depending on your credit, you can get a high borrowing limit with low interest rates providing that you’re making minimum payments. 

Newer businesses will need to apply for a secured line of credit because they’ll have a hard time proving their financial eligibility. As your business establishes itself, you can start looking into unsecured LOCs. Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay high interest rates if you go for unsecured ones.

Banks often require borrowers to have a good credit score, so it may be difficult to obtain a LOC if you have a poor score or little to no credit history.

Small Business Loans

Small business loans are designed to help startup businesses get their feet off the ground. With this type of loan, you’re guaranteed low interest rates and can borrow several million.

You can get them at most banks, similar to traditional bank credit. Be sure to look at the terms and conditions of the loan. You’ll want to know the interest rate and the duration of the repayment period.

Seeking Out Investors

Seeking an investor is a great source of an LOC because they can provide a cash reserve when you need money. Investors regularly put their money into things like stocks, but you can ask them for direct money and offer them something in return.

When an investor buys a stock, they technically become an owner of the company. If you’re trying to borrow money from them, you could offer partial ownership similar to that of a stock.

You can also work out a deal in which they offer a continuous flow of money, essentially providing you with revolving debt.

No matter what you do, ensure that you have everything in a written, legally binding agreement. This protects both you and your investors in case someone doesn’t fulfil their end of the deal.

How to Guarantee That You’re Approved

Businesses have to go through a business credit application process similar to the loan process that most individuals go through. As an owner, you’ll need to meet with a lender and convince them that you’re suitable for a loan.

Do the following to guarantee that you’re approved:

Improve Your Credit Score

To get a loan of any kind, you’ll need to have a decent credit score. When it comes to a business line of credit, lenders will want to see that you’ve previously had an LOC and have managed to pay it off. 

What builds credit is paying off debt and reducing how much you borrow. The best way to do this is to start putting most of your money into the debt with the highest interest rate. While doing this, make minimum payments on your other debts to continue raising your score.

Bring Financial Records

You need to show up with organized records of your finances. This will include things like documentation of income, previous debts, and receipts of your payments. Being organized will look good to the lender and you’ll be able to present them anything when they ask.

Start Considering a Secured Business Line of Credit

If you own a business or would like to start one, a secured business line of credit can help you get ahead by providing the funds to make bigger purchases. While it’s possible to find success without borrowing, paying out of pocket will be difficult if you don’t have much money saved.

We encourage you to start looking into various banks and decide whether you should get a secured line of credit. If you have the funds to operate a business without borrowing, avoid getting an LOC so that you don’t have to pay interest.

Browse our business section to learn more about business-related finances and tips.

Types of Investment Banking Services and How They Can Help Your Business

Your business is going to disappear into the void if you try to expand. It’s going to vanish into the gaping maw of capitalism, shredded to microscopic pieces. The public won’t even blink.

Okay, so it won’t be that bad. But the higher on the totem pole your company tries to get, the more danger you put yourself in of entering total doom. What options can you pursue to prevent that?

You’ve come to the right place. We’re here to tell you all about the different types of investment banking services and how they can help your business! 

Are you ready? Then let’s jump right into it!

What Is An Investment Bank?

To keep it simple, investment banks are banks created for boosting the funds of organizations like corporations and divisions of the government. These banks will often be privately owned (like Citi Private Bank or Pictect) and will have whole teams of people working on a project at a time.

These banks will often serve as the go-between for your company and private investors you’re looking to get money from. Think of them like the cream holding the Oreo of your company and the investors together: they make all your negotiations and deals quicker and easier. 

The banks divide into three sections: the front (where all the direct service, advising and investing happens), the middle (the research/IT guys), and the back (HR, day-to-day organization, etc).  You will be dealing with the “front” most of the time, but it’s important to know the other parts in case you require their services.

Investment banks break down into three types: elite boutique, middle-market, and bulge bracket. Bulge bracket banks are the “big dogs” of the banking sphere: they handle operations all over the world, and they tend to lean toward investments in the billions. Middle-market is a smaller-scale version of bulge bracket: they work globally too, but opt for lower-end investments. 

Finally, elite boutique banks are the regional variants of the bulge bracket banks. They handle big-scale investments but focused on a specific area with a smaller staff. There are extra variants of boutique banks that keep the regional focus but handle more reasonably-sized investments.

So what can these banks do for you?

The Different Types Of Investment Banking Services

One of the major services investment banks will offer you is underwriting. Underwriting is an agreement where someone can take on some of the risks (financially speaking) of a company or policy. In exchange, they take a flat sum upfront.

In this case, the bank won’t need to find a third party to finance the agreement: they’ll do it themselves. Bankers at these companies will buy your stock and then attempt to market it off to other investors, or skip the buying step and be your very own salesmen.

This can also have the effect of increasing the chance that investors will get in on your business, as the bank taking stock shows them you have some credibility to your name.

Skipping the buying step is less common than you may think, however: the bankers get no flat sum if they don’t buy, meaning their income relies on how much of your stock they sell. So unless they want to go broke, they’ve got some motivation to fight like hell for your business. 

Another service investment banks will offer you is matching you up with investors. The process will entail you and the bank working together to find tiny groups of investors that you can privately sell your stock or securities to. If you’re not looking to go all in on public stock, this may be the option for you.

Public Stock And Other Investment Banking Services

Investment banks are tailor-made to help you with getting your IPO (initial public offering) off the ground. They can do everything from advising you on the right price to debut your public shares at to helping first-time business owners navigate the paperwork and legalese-filled world of the stock market.

If public shares aren’t your speed, or you’ve already gone down that route, investment banks can also advise you on any mergers or acquisitions your company is undertaking. This “division” of investment banking splits into two sections: the buyers and the sellers.

Both divisions will look at their respective companies’ finances and tell them if the merger is a good idea, in addition to creating a basic plan and price for both companies to go off of. They’ll even assist at discussions if you need them to, helping to keep the process smooth and civil.

These negotiations will also be determined via the “type” of bank you’re in: higher investment talks will need to go to bigger banks.

Before You Start Investment Banking

Despite all the services they offer, investment banks can be very costly, so it’s important to do your research before you hop on board. Try to pay attention to global or national events and how they could affect the market: recently, investment bankers have jumped ship on deals or stocks in China due to the Coronavirus.  

Another factor to consider is the power you are handing the bank over your company. This is more important if you take the route of investment bankers buying shares in your company. They will have your best financial interest in mind, but if you pride complete freedom and autonomy in running your business, it will be something you should think about first.

Taking Your Next Steps In The Banking World

Congrats! You are now equipped with the basic knowledge you need to test all the types of investment banking services and have an estimate as to whether it’s right for you!

If you have more questions about investment banking or more happening in the wide world of finance, check out some of the other posts on our blog!

So until next time, play it smart and keep a financial eye out: if you play your cards right in investment banks, you could be the next big business juggernaut.

How to Get Ahead Financially: 7 Tips for Success

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and can’t get ahead, you’re in the company of 78% of workers.

It’s frustrating to constantly feel like you’re playing financial catch-up. The stress of being short on money or not being able to reach your financial goals can make you want to give up.

But taking small financial steps in the right direction gets the ball rolling. Those actions eventually help you gain traction and improve your financial standing.

Instead of ignoring your financial situation or accepting your money problems, put these seven tips into action.

1. Start With a Budget

Taking charge of your financial situation requires a plan. That comes in the form of a budget.

You need to know your exact income, expenses, and spending habits to make better use of your money.

Budgeting apps can help you, but you can also create your own simple budget on paper or using a spreadsheet program. 

Start by adding up all the money that comes in each month. That could include wages from your job, child support, interest, and other investments. 

Next, write down each individual bill or recurring expense you have. This includes things such as utilities, insurance, car payments, loans, and credit card payments.

Subtract those expenses from your income to see what you have left. This is the amount you can divide up between the rest of your expenses, such as groceries, clothing, and dining out.

Once you have your budget set, you need to follow up and make sure you stick to your spending limits. If you spend twice as much as you allocate for eating out, it’ll throw off the rest of the budget. 

Monitoring your spending compared to your budget can help you spot the trouble areas. You might notice you go overboard on clothing every month. Look at those areas to see how you can control your spending better.

You may need to adjust some categories while you figure out your budget. You might spend less in some areas than the amount you allocated, so you can lower those limits while raising others.

2. Set Up Multiple Bank Accounts

Do you use a single account for everything? Having multiple bank accounts can help you better manage your money.

If you have trouble sticking to your budget, consider creating different bank accounts for individual areas of your budget. You might have one for your mortgage and other loans, another for other recurring expenses, and a third for your discretionary spending.

When you pay your bills, you know you’ll have the necessary money in those accounts. Pulling from one account for your discretionary spending gives you a hard limit on those expenses. 

If you have all of your money lumped into one account, it’s easier to overspend on extras. You convince yourself that you can splurge on that leather jacket, but you end up using money that should go to the mortgage or your credit card payments. That can cause you to fall behind financially.

3. Create Financial Goals

Why do you want to get your finances under control? Setting specific goals can keep you motivated to handle your money better. You know cutting back on spending or increasing your savings is for something you really want.

Think in terms of short-term and long-term financial goals.

Short-term goals can keep you motivated because you can reach them quickly. They’re also building blocks for your larger goals and can help you gradually improve your finances. This could be things such as building an emergency cash fund, cutting your expenses by a set amount or paying off one credit card.

The long-term goals help you improve your financial standing over time. They’re the bigger goals that keep you going and get you to the place you want to be. Examples include paying off all debt, saving for a house, or reaching a larger number in your savings account.

If you’re not sure where to focus your attention, a financial planner can help. A financial pro can look at your current situation and make recommendations for short-term and long-term financial goals.

4. Pay Off Debt

In the UK, the average debt is £15,385. Deciding whether or not to go into debt is a personal decision, but carrying high levels of debt makes it difficult to get ahead financially. The interest and fees you pay eat up money that could go toward your financial goals.

Plan to pay off your debt as quickly as possible, especially if it’s holding you back financially. Put extra money toward your debt to get rid of it faster.

5. Create a Savings Plan

No matter how financially behind you feel, setting aside money in your savings account is a smart decision. Set up your bank account to transfer money to savings automatically on your paydays. That way you ensure you set aside the money before you spend it on other things.

Include retirement savings in your plan. Starting now helps you build your retirement savings faster, so you’re financially stable when you reach retirement age.

6. Increase Your Income

Having more money in your bank account gives you more financial stability and helps you reach your goals. You can either make more money or cut your spending to increase your usable income.

Asking for a raise at your current job or looking for a new job can help you increase your income. Another option is a temporary part-time job or side gig for extra money. Think of it as a temporary sacrifice of your time to accelerate your financial goals.

7. Change Your Mindset

Many people think of cutting back on spending or saving more as a negative thing. It feels restrictive, so you don’t want to do it.

Flip how you think about financial changes. Focus on what you get from the changes instead of what you’re losing.

When you’re tempted to make an impulse buy, as yourself if the item will get you closer to your financial goals. Having meaningful goals and keeping them in your mind can help you change your thinking.

How to Get Ahead Financially

When you’re struggling with money, it can be difficult to figure out how to get ahead financially. Confronting your situation directly and tackling it a little at a time helps you improve your finances. Visit our archives for more financial information.