• 5 technologies revolutionizing financial services

    For any industry to sustain itself in today’s world, implementing digital strategies has become indispensable. This holds particularly true for the financial services industry. The good news is that digital transformation in financial services has already begun, and we’ll likely see more and more innovative technologies underpinning banking and financial institutions in the coming years. Keep reading to learn about the latest digital transformation trends in the financial services industry.

    Big data and artificial intelligence
    The combination of big data and artificial intelligence is a revolutionary digital strategy that is shaping the future of banking and financial services. The technology helps institutions process, store, and drive valuable insights from the data they gather from their customers’ activities. Big data and artificial intelligence allow institutions to create a highly personalized experience, helping businesses attract and retain customers.

    Blockchain
    Blockchain is a fairly new technology that is becoming increasingly popular in the financial services industry. With blockchain technology, all transactions are permanently stored in the blockchain network, providing the highest level of transparency and security. Nobody can tamper with these transactions, which nearly eliminates the risk of error and fraud. Besides security, the technology is being explored for use in a wide variety of banking and investment applications.

    Biometrics
    The idea of digital or mobile wallets is convenient for most people. However, some people avoid using these services due to legitimate security concerns. And this is where biometric technology comes in. Fingerprint and face recognition technologies ensure that no one except the rightful owner has access to their funds. With the technology largely in place already, both buyers and sellers prefer using mobile payment over cash and checks.

    Cloud computing
    Cloud technology is on the rise in the banking and financial services industry. Cloud computing offers institutions a cheaper way to store and analyze enormous amounts of data. Plus, it reduces the roles and responsibilities of the information technology (IT) staff, giving them more time to create value for their organizations. Some reports estimate that medium-sized businesses save considerably on IT spending by migrating to cloud computing.

    Robotic process automation (RPA)
    RPA handles laborious and repetitive office tasks, such as customer onboarding, security checks, data analysis and reporting, and risk assessments. The technology has proven to be highly profitable for financial institutions, as it boosts productivity and improves efficiency. It also reduces the risk of human errors significantly.

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  • Gold and silver – 5 ways to invest

    When we think of precious metals, gold and silver are two names that come first to the mind. Seasoned investors usually put their capital in these two metals to safeguard against the volatile stock market and inflation. Even central banks and other government entities choose to invest in precious metals. The US government is the largest investor of gold stocks in the world. But finding the best place to buy silver and gold may be difficult for beginners. Let’s take a look a the different modes of investment for these two precious metals.

    Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
    There are many ETFs in the market. You can buy gold and silver from the stock market, just like any regular stock. Since the supply of mines is outweighed by hoarded supply in gold, its prices will only fall when hoarders sell and vice-versa. Beginners should start by looking into iShares Gold and Silver Trusts.

    Bullion
    Traditional buyers usually prefer to buy gold and silver coins in their physical form. The best place to buy silver and gold bullion coins is the US mint, or you can contact any local coin supplier. The American Eagle, Canadian Maple Leaf, and South African Krugerrand contain certain proportions of gold depending on the currency value. Silver coins are increasingly rare but available in the numismatic market.

    Certificates
    You can buy gold and silver in the form of certificates from brokers. If you don’t wish to deal with the hassle of storing precious metal, this is a good option. However, they aren’t worth anything in times of emergency since they are just pieces of paper, so getting insurance or mortgaging them is tough.

    Common stocks
    There are plenty of companies that deal in gold and silver. You can invest in their shares through the NASDAQ exchange. But gold and silver stocks are valued a bit differently than regular stocks, so research is needed before diving into this option. You can get in touch with fund managers and consultancy companies for a better understanding.

    Derivatives
    Another way of buying gold and silver is through the derivative market. The purchasers here make money by changes in commodity prices. Those willing to invest a large sum of money will find this option ideal. It is a risky affair but the reward is much higher than other modes of investments.

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  • All you need to know about home insurance policy

    Buying a home comes with a lot of responsibilities. There are a lot of risks that come with owning a home like the risk of theft and property damage. Investing in the right kind of home insurance policy is important so as to be financially prepared for these risks. There are several different companies in the market that offer home insurance policies with different kinds of terms and coverages.

    Remember the following points before choosing a home insurance policy.

    • Explore your options
      As mentioned earlier, there is a wide variety of home insurance policies available to homeowners at this time. When selecting one, it is important to consider factors like what potential risks are being covered in the policy. It is also important to consider the company’s record in your area, whether they are reliable as insurance providers, and their response time.
    • Ask about discounts
      Home insurance policy in 2021 offers additional services and discounts. They may offer discounts on additional safety installment services such as installing an alarm system, smoke alarm, or better locks. There may also be certain offers for old and retired personnel as well as some discounts for policies when taken via your employer’s or organization’s reference. Moreover, if you already have some policies with an insurance company and have been their customer for years, you may also be eligible for some loyalty discounts.
    • Types of homeowners coverage
      Homeowners insurance can offer coverage in different forms. Some policies or companies offer actual cash value for the damages to the home or its belongings. Some companies deduct a certain amount from this actual cash value based on the current value of an item or belonging. Other companies also offer guaranteed (or extended) replacement cost/value, that is, payment of the full amount required to repair or rebuild your home. This amount may or may not be more than your policy limit.
    • A higher deductible means lower insurance premium
      This is very important to remember. Based on your budget, you must decide how much premium you can pay each month for your insurance policy. However, this amount is also determined based on the amount of deductible you pay before your insurance is in effect. If you raise your deductible amount, then your premium amount reduces. This can not only save you a lot of money in the long run but also provide you more comprehensive coverage.
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  • Top 5 retirement investment funds for your portfolio

    Most people work for decades so that they can make investments and collect sufficient funds for their retirement years. Having enough savings for the golden years is ideally the most significant goal for you as an investor, but the volatile market may make it difficult to understand which retirement funds are suitable for you. To help you out, here are the best retirement investments that you can include in your portfolio:

    • Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 Fund
      This retirement fund is created for investors who want to retire early so that they can enjoy the benefits of their investment within 15 years. However, even if you don’t want to retire that early, this fund has various offerings that make it one of the best retirement investments available in the market. As of now, this retirement fund offers a current yield of over 2%, and the expense ratio is 0.14%. Plus, Vanguard is quite a trusted name for keeping your money safe.
    • Northern Global Tactical Asset Allocation Fund
      This fund offers one of the best diversifications and a lot more protection in case the fund underperforms. So, it invests in mutual funds and exchange-traded funds and aims to provide long-term capital appreciation at an expense ratio of 0.58%. It is an ideal option for you if you’re interested in long-term investment and want to diversify your investment among stocks, commodities, and bonds, both domestic and foreign.
    • Baird Aggregate Bond Fund
      Although the interest rates in the market are low, we recommend retirees to diversify their investments. It is wise to have flexible income to offset the volatile equity markets, which means it’s better not to put all your money into a single company. This fund works best for people who wish to attain investment discipline and risk control, and the best thing about it is that it invests in government and public sector entities. At an average, it offers you a 2.90% yield on a 3-month basis, and the net expense ratio is 0.30%.
    • PIMCO Income Fund
      One of the best retirement investment funds to consider, this is a fixed income fund that aims to maximize current income. A fixed income fund means that it invests in fixed income securities globally and captures the benefits of different bond sectors. As of June 30, 2020, the distribution yield stood at 5.87%, and the fund has an expense ratio of 0.50%.
    • Vanguard Prime Money Market Fun
      This fund comes under the category of money market mutual funds. It invests in short-term, high-quality securities and aims to provide current income while maintaining a $1 share value. This fund provides average annual returns of 1.52%. The best feature of this fund is its expense ratio, which is only 0.16%.

    These are some of the best retirement investments in the market that you can choose from. You can include them in your investment portfolio, but we recommend that you consult a financial advisor to ensure that you are making the right move.

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  • Top 5 capital providers for your business

    People who wish to set up their business ventures need additional funding to get going. Many banks and financial institutions help promising businesses with the same and in this article, we would be covering guaranteed business loan providers. You can check the following list out when looking for business loan providers.

    Wells Fargo
    Wells Fargo is one of the best financial institutions when it comes to guaranteed business loan providers in the market. It offers various other financial products. It claims to be a leader when it comes to small business loans. The unsecured business loan has varied loan amounts starting from $10,000 and going up to $100,000. The term for this product is between one to five years. Additionally, you can go for other loans offered by Wells Fargo, such as the Equipment Express Loan or the Advancing Term Loan.

    Capital One
    Capital One does not only offer good deals on business credit cards, its business loan is worth considering too. If you are looking at a funding source that can help expand your business or get going with the operations, then we highly recommend you to choose the business loan offered by Capital One. Starting at a minimal amount of $10,000 and a maximum term length of 5 years, the repayment term is simple and can be done on a monthly basis.

    Huntington Bank
    As a business owner, if you are looking for varied options with different interest rates, then Huntington Bank is a great option to consider. Its business line of credit is a good option to consider. However, apart from this, you must check out the business term loans offered by the bank. Huntington Bank has earned a reputation of being a top lender for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.

    TD Bank
    TD Bank offers lines of credit as well as commercial and loans mortgages. With commercial and loans mortgages, you can borrow up to $100,000. There are larger loans available for established commercial business ventures. The SBA loan options are quite flexible and lease options are available for refinancing as well as equipment purchase. The lines of credit are quite beneficial as well and you can definitely trust the bank to provide you with competitive interest rates.

    Celtic Bank
    Celtic Bank offers different business loans such as SBA 7(a) Loans, Express Term Loans, Conventional Equipment Loans, and SBA (504) Loans among various other offerings. So, if you are looking for a wide variety of options, you may consider this bank and select the suitable business loan offering. The bank also offers asset-based Lines of Credit with a tenure ranging from one year to ten years wherein the loan amount ranges from $250,000 to $500,000. This gives you the flexibility to opt for this offering as per your convenience.


    You may opt for a guaranteed business loan after thoroughly analyzing all the offerings of the noted aforementioned business loan providers. It is recommended to choose the one that offers the lowest interest rates along with maximum flexibility in terms of the loan amount and repayment tenure.

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  • Top 5 providers for automated investments

    Roboadvisors are gaining popularity as these investment programs offer affordable financial advice to a large number of investors. These automated advisors use an algorithm to recommend investment options that best suit your requirements. The best automated investing algorithms offer simple account setup, portfolio management, low fees, strong goal planning, and security. Here are the top five providers of automated investments.

    Betterment

    This roboadvisor is the best for delivering top-quality services. You may sync various financial accounts without investing to gain an overall picture of your investment portfolio. You may choose the pre-built Betterment portfolios or customize one to meet your needs. The algorithm gives you the flexibility to add new goals as required while monitoring your progress without any difficulties. The advisor charges between 0.25% and 0.4% management fees with no minimum account requirement.

    Wealthfront

    It is one of the largest Robo-advisors and provides goal-based investing enabling you to understand the future effects of your financial decisions. You may choose from a wide range of portfolios that comprise individual stocks to meet your financial goals. Once your portfolio accumulates USD 25,000, Wealthfront allows you to borrow against its value. The service provider also offers margin lending. The management fee for most accounts is 0.25% and you need an account minimum of USD 500. The Robo-advisor offers tax-loss harvesting and lowest fees on its exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

    Ellevest

    Although this automated investing algorithm is focused on women, financial planning is beneficial to all kinds of investors. It is an excellent option for goal-based investing even when you have multiple financial objectives. Based on the service level, Ellevest levies between 0.25% and 0.5% as management fees. Basic service level does not require a minimum account and offers tax minimization and automatic rebalancing. Premium account holders have access to executive coaches and dedicated financial planning experts.

    SoFi Invest

    The service provider has moved into robot-advisory by providing extremely user-friendly services. To help you achieve your life goals, SoFi provides goal-based planning and automatic rebalancing. Additionally, you have access to financial advisors, career services, and discounts on other products without any extra charges. You need a minimum account of $1 and the automated investing service provider does not levy any management fees.

    Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolio

    Charles Schwab is looking to become a market leader with its best automated investing algorithm that is known for its usability. The company is well-reputed as an investor-friendly advisor and the same reputation is carried by its roboadvisory arm. At no additional charges, you have access to beneficial features, such as automated tax-loss harvesting, portfolio rebalancing, and 24X7 access to customer services. You need a minimum account of $5,000 but the roboadvisor levies zero management fees.

    While there are several automated investing service providers, working with a reliable advisor ensures you are able to achieve your financial objectives. Roboadvisors offer recommendations on building a diversified portfolio of multiple ETFs on the basis of factors like your risk profile, investment horizon, and expected levels of returns. The advantage of opening an account with automated investing companies is that your money is managed by experienced professionals at affordable fees.

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  • 6 high dividend ETF funds you can invest in

    Before you search for the best dividend exchange-traded funds (ETFs), it is recommended you understand your needs and overall investment objectives. ETFs are hybrids of mutual funds and stocks. When you invest in the ETF, you purchase shares in the fund, which buys the underlying asset.

    Here are six of the best high-dividend ETF funds:

    Vanguard High Dividend Yield (VYM)

    This ETF adopts the simple method of choosing stocks that have higher dividend yield when compared to other companies. This has resulted in building a diversified portfolio comprising 400 stocks with higher market capitalization. The majority of these stocks belong to the healthcare, consumer, and financial sectors. During the last decade, VYM delivered average annual returns of 12.9%. The expense ratio is the lowest in the industry at 0.06% per annum.

    Vanguard Dividend Appreciation (VIG)

    The ETF focuses on investing in companies that have a long history of increasing their dividend payouts over the years. The portfolio includes approximately 180 stocks with low yields. The ETF has earned average returns of 12.6% per year over the last 10 years. The expense ratio is 0.06%, which makes it an excellent option if you do not mind lower dividend returns currently but want to earn more in the future.

    WisdomTree U.S. MidCap Dividend (DON)

    This ETF invests in companies with a low market capitalization. Almost 70% of its portfolio companies have a market cap between $2 billion and $10 billion. Even the larger portfolio companies are the lowest in the large-cap segment. WisdomTree U.S. MidCap Dividend ETF holds stocks of over 380 companies and has given 13.3% annual returns over the past decade. However, the expense ratio at 0.38% is slightly higher.

    Invesco Zacks Multi-Asset Income (CVY)

    If you do not mind paying a high expense ratio to earn more returns, this high-dividend ETF fund is a good choice. This fund tracks the Zacks Multi-Asset Index that comprises 149 stocks of dividend-paying companies. The expense ratio is 0.97% and the SEC yield stands at 6.43%.

    Invesco KBW High Dividend Yield Financial Portfolio (KBWD)

    The fund focuses on investing in companies in the financial sector. KBWD keeps track of the KBW NASDAQ Financial Sector Dividend Yield Index comprising stocks of approximately 40 companies with small market capitalization within the financial sector. The 30-day SEC yield is high at 12.93% but the expense ratio is amongst the highest at 1.58%.

    WisdomTree U.S. SmallCap Dividend Fund (DES)

    It is advisable to diversify your ETF portfolio and include small-cap funds to mitigate the risks of large-cap funds. Within the small-cap category, the WisdomTree U.S. SmallCap Dividend Fund is one of the best available options. DES monitors the WisdomTree SmallCap Dividend Index comprising the remaining 25% companies of the market cap after eliminating 300 of the largest companies from the WisdomTree Dividend Index. This fund has more than 700 holdings in the portfolio and a moderate expense ratio of 0.38%.

    Having gained an understanding of the best dividend ETFs, remember to choose ones that suit your investment objective, time horizon, and risk appetite. Considering factors like expense ratio and diversification along with high dividends will help you make an accurate decision.

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  • Top 6 NNN properties for sale in the country

    NNN properties are known as triple net lease properties and can be categorized as single-tenant properties that are available for lease. In these properties, the maintenance fees, taxes, and insurance have to be paid by the lessee instead of the landlord. These costs have to be borne by the lessee in addition to the rent. Here are some of the top NNN properties for sale:

    • 7-Eleven, Texas
      There are plenty of 7-Eleven properties that come under the category of NNN properties. This one is our top pick at the moment, as it serves two commodities that are always in demand: gas and foods. The property is on the 3601 West Freeway in Fort Worth, Texas, making it quite a hot spot for sale. The current annual rent for this property is $267,500, while the cap rate is 5.75%.
    • Burger King, Florida
      Burger King is one of the country’s favorite fast-food chains. The current annual rent for this property is about $140,000, and the cap rate is 5.15%. This property was built quite recently as compared to the other options on our list, and it has the potential of providing good returns quickly, as it is in a strategic location on SW Port St. Lucie Blvd, which experiences average daily traffic on the plus side of 48,000 vehicles.
    • Admiral Petroleum, Michigan
      Gas and convenience stores offer really high returns, and this particular store is situated on Bay Road in Michigan, which gets average traffic of 29,300 vehicles daily. The average cap rate of this property is 6.75%, and the current annual rent is $60,000. Built in 1969, it is quite an old property, which means many prospective customers know about this NNN property for sale. The projected annual rental increase on this property is about 2%.
    • Advance Auto Parts, Georgia
      This NNN property for sale has a current cap rate of 5.90% and an annual rent of $183,000 currently. The vicinity attracts many customers as outlets of brands like McDonald’s and Jack in the Box are situated just around the corner. Additionally, close to 140,000 people reside within a 3-mile radius, increasing the chances of earning higher returns.
    • Hardee’s, Georgia
      Currently available at a cap rate of 5.75% and an annual rent of $107,926, this NNN property offers excellent profitability based on its location. It is located in a dense retail corridor with giants like Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, and Krispy Kreme. Hardee’s is also a popular restaurant attracting loyal customers over the years.
    • Chase Bank, Illinois
      If you’re looking for NNN properties for sale in Matteson, this is a great option for you. The current annual rent for this property is $199,650, and the cap rate is 5.40%. The consumer base for this bank is pretty high, making this property a profitable option to consider.

    If you opt for NNN properties for sale in a commercially viable location, you can earn high returns. Apart from the location, it is advisable to consider your budget and the cap rate, among other factors, before making a decision.

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