• Digital transformations in financial services – Its significance

    Stiff competition urges every business to push themselves out of their comfort zones to make customers happy and ease complexities for employees and customers. Technological evolution is constant in every field, and digitalization has helped make things convenient for all. While we’re aware of the convenience and time-saving opportunities that are brought about by digitalization, this article discusses its perks in the financial services field.

    Saving time is the most significant factor in financial services after digitalization came about. No longer do people have to wait in long lines to withdraw or deposit cash. An ATM or banking apps come to the rescue. Moreover, transferring money online eliminates the procedures that would otherwise take days to reflect the result and saves a lot of paperwork. It definitely is more environment-friendly, reducing the consumption and wastage of paper.

    Another significant benefit of digital transformation in financial services is the convenience of the employees and customers. One transaction in the digital era takes no more than five minutes. In the pre-digital era, people would have to wait for days to get through an emergency transaction. Moreover, now there are a plethora of options.

    There were already so many benefits of digitalization in the banking sector, but the pandemic recognized another noteworthy feature. We’re talking about contactless payment and digital transactions. While most retailers were well-equipped with accepting digital payments, the pandemic urged others to adopt the change in order to survive the global epidemic. Many transport facilities also started working with online payments for the convenience of contactless payment.

    Financial services saw a growth of 40%, thanks to the use of MasterCard, and Visa reported an increase of 150% across the country alone. People worldwide are using digital payment services, and it will become a norm even after the pandemic fades.

    A workplace fully equipped with digital services helps connect employees from different locations, allows teamwork, streamlines processes, and ensures faster results. In fact, it is safe to say that digitalization allows more time for employees to engage in other productive work rather than unending paperwork. In other words, a digital transformation has allowed for more productivity.

    When asked if a digital transformation in the financial sector has been a boon or a bane, the benefits truly out-do the cons. The transformation has been beneficial for all—business owners, employees, and customers.

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  • 5 reasons to choose mortgage refinancing

    Refinancing involves replacing an existing loan by paying it off with a fresh one. Such an act usually costs somewhere between 3% and 6% of the loan’s principal amount, along with application fees, title search, and an appraisal. Since refinancing is a big decision to make, understanding whether this move could actually save you money is essential. So, the following reasons will help you know whether youn should consider mortgage refinancing.

    Lower interest rates
    Keep an eye out for lowering mortgage refinance interest rates in the market, and just when the rates drop, you can consider refinancing to pay significantly less in monthly payments. Today, the norm is that if mortgage refinance can give you even 1%-2% in lowered interest rates, it is a viable idea for a homeowner.

    Shortening the loan term
    As you refinance due to the change in mortgage refinance interest rates, you can even choose to reduce the loan term. Instead of paying a mortgage for 30 years, you can even half that time if the change in interest rate is significant. Keep your calculator handy and get a deal that will get you out of mortgage payments sooner.

    Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)
    In case of a forthcoming significant rise in interest rates, mortgage refinancing is a good move as you can choose to opt out of ARM and turn to a fixed-rate mortgage. This move reduces the risk of paying higher interest due to market fluctuations and increase your monthly payments. But rest assured there is a fixed interest rate that helps you keep your finances checked and secure.

    Cashout equity
    Some homeowners refinance to cash out the equity in their homes. This equity is used for major expenses like home remodelling or a child’s college education. While this move may seem ideal at the time, refinancing also means deciding on mortgage terms. For some homeowners, this decision can keep them from getting out of debt and compel them to continue paying mortgage for several years ahead.

    Changing ownership rights
    Refinancing is an opportunity for any homeowner who wants to make a change in documents related to borrowers’ names on the loan agreement. If the house is bought by spouses who are now divorced, friends who are no longer in partnership, or any other two entities who need a name removed from the borrower’s list, this is an opportune time for them to put in those changes.

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  • Top 5 VA loan lenders

    A VA loan is a benefit provided to veterans, military personnel, and their spouses, wherein they can become homeowners. They are exempted from paying the down payment or any mortgage insurance. Private banks and mortgage companies provide these loans. A large number of options makes it challenging to select the right provider. Therefore, we have put together a list of the five best VA loan lenders of 2021.

    Here are some of the best VA loan lenders:

    Guaranteed Rate
    Guaranteed Rate operates in all 50 states with over 300 branches nationwide. One can apply online and even undergo paperless document verification and approval. However, the pre-approval process is slower when compared to other providers. The company has a minimum credit score requirement of 600. Guaranteed Rate offers a variety of solutions, such as jumbo mortgages, FHA, and VA loans. However, it does not provide equity loans.

    Flagstar Bank
    Flagstar Bank offers various home loan lending solutions to help buy, build, or refinance veterans’ homes. The company operates in all 50 states online and is available in 70+ branches across 29 states. It takes less than three days to pre-approve loans, and its closing time is approximately 30 days. Flagstar Bank offers low mortgage rates and has a lower-than-average credit score requirement.

    Veterans United Home Loans
    This organization offers a variety of loans, such as FHA, USDA, and jumbo loans. It allows fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages too. However, the company does not offer home equity loans. It charges higher rates than the other providers and provides in-person services in only 18 states. Nonetheless, Veterans United Home Loans’s online application and pre-qualification process are efficient, and it offers free credit counseling services through certain programs.

    PenFed Credit Union
    PenFed has a limited number of options. It offers fixed jumbo, VA mortgage loans, and home equity loans. The company has a higher credit requirement and does not charge any lender fees. It offers its services in all 50 states and has a few locations outside the country. At PenFed, pre-approval happens within three days, and the closing time is 35 days.

    Quicken Loans®
    Quicken Loans is one of the largest loan providers in the country and provides a completely online and paperless experience. It has various pre-approval processes set up and takes up to 40 days for closing. The company requires a minimum credit score of 620 and offers various loans, such as Conventional, FHA, and VA.

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  • Top 3 lenders offering the best VA IRRRL rates

    The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) offers a valuable option of an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) for veterans and related members. This enables individuals who already have VA loans to reduce their debts and avail a lower rate of interest. It shortens the loan term and helps transform an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) into a fixed-rate mortgage (FRM). The main advantage of an IRRRL is that borrowers do not need a new Certificate of Eligibility or a minimum income. Those who have VA loans are nearly qualified for refinancing. Read on to know top lenders offering the lowest VA IRRRL rates currently:

    Veterans United Home Loans
    This lender was honored for closing the highest number of VA loans right from 2016 to 2020. Their no-down-payment programs and the one designed for first-time homebuyers receive the most credit for being the best in terms of customer service. Presently, the company offers six 30-year VA programs, including a Streamline IRRRL, a VA Cash-Out, and Jumbo loans with low VA IRRRL rates ranging from 2.750% for a 30-Year Fixed and 2.990% for the 30-Year VA Cash-Out Jumbo program. The rates may vary depending on the borrower’s credit score and market conditions.

    USAA
    USAA is known for its VA jumbo home loans that allow borrowers to get up to $3 million without charging any money for VA funding fees. They also offer additional benefits on insurance, banking and have member discounts. The online process of VA loans is very systematic. Borrowers can easily calculate their mortgage by filling up basic details (loan term, house price, down payment, etc.) and also get pre-approved loans. However, the final document cannot be processed online. Presently, the VA IRRRL rate is as low as 2.875%, and the VA Jumbo IRRRL rate is about 3.500%.

    Navy Federal Credit Union
    The main benefit here is that borrowers are not required to pay a down payment or purchase private mortgage insurance. They offer purchase, refinance, jumbo, fixed, adjustable VA loans with low VA IRRRL rates of 2.100-2.465% depending on the loan term. Navy Federal has an additional feature called Freedom Lock that allows borrowers to lock or float the interest rate without any extra charge. They even have a rate match guarantee option which means that if the borrower can find another lender with a low-interest rate, they will either match the rate, and if they can’t, they will pay $1,000 once the borrower has closed the deal with the other lender.

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  • Where and how to buy physical gold and silver

    Precious metals have long been a popular investment choice. Metals like gold and silver retain their value even when the stock market plunges. So if you’re looking to add these metals to your investment portfolio, now is a good time. However, as a beginner investor, you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the numerous buying options available today. Read this brief article to find out how and from where you can buy gold and silver easily.

    Types of physical bullion
    Before getting your hands on precious metals, it’s vital to know that they come in different shapes, sizes, and styles. The most common forms of physical bullion include coins, rounds, and bars. Coins are considered the most valuable as they are both manufactured and backed by the government. Although rounds look like coins, they are minted by private minting companies, and their value is entirely based on precious metal content. Bars, on the other hand, are rectangular ingots produced by private mints.

    The best places to buy gold and silver
    A local coin shop and an online dealer are the two most common places to buy gold and silver coins, rounds, or bars. The most significant advantage of getting precious metals from a local dealer is that you can physically see the product and purchase it right away. With a local dealer, pricing is based on the actual price of the metal at the date of purchase. However, the common problem is that they have limited product choices.

    If you want to choose from a wider selection, an online dealer is a perfect option. It is also where you can buy gold and silver at lower prices than a local dealer. However, since you need to pay upfront when shopping online, you must ensure that the dealer is reliable and will give you a genuine product. But there are many reliable online dealers in the market today. Visit their websites, check out their policies, and read reviews to determine whether a particular dealer is trustable.

    Payment method
    This can vary from one dealer to another. However, most local and online dealers accept payment via credit or debit cards, PayPal, paper checks, and bank wire.

    If you’re still wondering where is the best place to buy silver and gold, the simple answer is there isn’t a single “best” place. Depending on your convenience, you can choose to buy gold and silver coins, rounds, and bars from wherever you prefer.

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  • How to choose the best home insurance policy

    A home insurance policy or homeowners insurance pays for any loss or damage to property or personal possessions. Some policies even cover personal injuries and liabilities that arise out of unforeseen circumstances. Having a home insurance policy is beneficial as it helps you pay for repairs, a replacement that may stretch your finances. Here we shall explore the best ways to obtain maximum coverage and explore tips that help you choose the best policy at the cheapest rates.

    Coverage options
    Your home insurance policy must cover any loss or theft, destruction or damage, and even personal liability associated with all possessions. And this coverage is divided into policies that provide actual cash value, replacement cost, or guaranteed replacement cost.

    • Actual cash value pays the exact value of how much an item or possession is worth today (after depreciation)
    • Replacement cost provides cover to restore the original value of your home or possession included in the policy. There is no depreciation or deduction considered.
    • A guaranteed replacement cost covers expenses that may even exceed the insurance policy value. A typical ceiling limit of 20% to 25% is reserved for such policies over the insured value.

    Choosing a primary home insurance policy will be possible only after you decide the extent of coverage necessary. The next step is to compare quotes online.

    Tips to find the best home insurance policy in 2021

    • Compare quotes
      Insurance companies will have different formulas for calculating premiums and deductibles. These amounts do vary and make a huge difference in the final value of the policy. Compare 3 or 4 insurance providers to find the cheapest rates.
    • Make the most of discounts
      Insurance companies offer attractive discounts as part of their scheme to sell more policies. For example, the insurance provider may heavily discount the premium payable if you sign multiple policies with the same company. Some companies offer better rates to homeowners who install safety and security devices that reduce the risk of mishaps or accidents.
    • Check previous claims status
      Insurance companies who are able to fulfill claim requests in a timely generally boast a strong financial background. It is good to buy your policies from such places as you don’t have to worry about processing claims.
    • Make an informed decision
      Browse through surveys conducted by J.D Power and Consumer Reports as the regularly publish reports. They also survey existing members who currently have purchased policies with insurance providers and publish their reviews as well.
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  • Top 5 investment advisors

    Financial discipline is an important trait to acquire. You have come to the right place for people looking for a registered investment advisor, but do not know where to look. Here, we have collated a list of the best investment advisors who are established entities and, hence, quite trusted and reputed. Check out our list of best investment advisors to get the right organization to manage your finances:

    • Morgan Stanley

    Some of the highlights of investing with Morgan Stanley is getting full value with a personalized portfolio. Your financial advisor can help you curate the right investment strategy that suits you the best. Apart from this, you would also get comprehensive communication, ensuring that you know what’s in line. The best part is the fees of this particular program is based on the number of assets in the account. We highly recommend you consider them for top-quality investment opportunities.

    • Bank of America

    Bank of America has a corporate Global Wealth and Investment Management division. One of the main reasons why Bank of America ranks so high is because it acquired Merrill Lynch post the 2008 financial crisis. This division primarily focuses on two types of clients: people who have more than USD 250,000 (approximately) in assets that can be potentially invested and high-net-worth individuals. Bank of America is quite a trusted name; hence, you definitely can consider them as an investment option.

    • Wells Fargo

    Wells Fargo boasts 15,000 wealth managers and prides itself on having over 1,400 branches. The total revenue earned by this company in the year 2018 was around USD 86.4 billion. This entity is one of the best investment advisors in the market and can surely help you expand your portfolio. Plus, they have an excellent record of the market; hence, we suggest you consider them strongly. Their fee structure is also reasonable, and they have no hidden charges. They operate with complete transparency.

    • Charles Schwab

    Charles Schwab offers quite a broad umbrella of investor services. While their administration fee and asset management may be a little higher as compared with that of their counterparts, they are worth it. We highly recommend you to visit one of their branches or call their investor services to get started. They would be able to advise on risks and rewards and give you the right options to invest your money. They have over 2,400 wealth managers and 345 branch offices across the States.

    • Vanguard Group

    The last option on our list of best investment advisors is the Vanguard Group.

    Vanguard stands out on our list because it is a client-owned venture and is not publicly traded or owned privately. As a result, Vanguard can focus on a lot more clients while giving them the opportunities they need, including ETFs, low-cost mutual funds, and financial advice.

    All of the entities mentioned above make for the best investment advisors who can help you grow your wealth. So, make the best choice for yourself to protect your hard-earned money.

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  • 5 benefits of automated investing and who should use it

    An increasing number of investors are opting for automated investing tools, commonly known as robo-advisors. These automated tools put the management of your portfolio in an autopilot mode.

    Here are five benefits of such automated investing platforms:

    Affordable

    Before robo-advisors, you needed to pay hefty fees to an investment advisor to assist and manage your portfolio. Several of the best automated investing platforms, such as Betterment, Wealthfront, and Charles Schwab Corp’s Intelligent Portfolios offer zero to 0.25% management fees, making it an affordable option.

    Profitable investment models

    Most of these automated investing advisors use the best practices of investment theories, which strive to deliver the highest returns at the lowest risks. Moreover, it eliminates human intervention that may result in biases leading to errors.

    Meeting various investment goals

    Different kinds of robo-advisors cater to the varied needs of investors. You may choose from advisors that are sector- or industry-focused to robo-advisors that offer an affordable and diversified portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Several automated investing platforms may offer tax-loss harvesting and claim rebalancing.

    Low minimum balances

    You may not have a large amount of investible surplus. Some of the best automated investing platforms offer services, even when you maintain a low minimum balance. Advisors such as Betterment, Wise Banyan, and Folio Investing have no limitations on minimum balance.

    Simple and convenient

    Most of the robo-advisors are very simple with easy user-interface and straightforward processes. Additionally, these platforms provide you with the convenience of investing from any time from any location as these are web-based. Moreover, you do not have to spend hours researching different investment options, which makes investing less cumbersome.

    Having understood the advantages of robo-advisors, let us now examine who will benefit from using such platforms.

    Young investors or beginners

    Making accurate investment decisions is a tough job and requires detailed analysis and research. As a beginner, you may not have the understanding and the technical expertise necessary to do your research. An automated investing platform is the right choice as it manages your portfolio to suit your investment goals and risk profile.

    Busy professionals

    Regular monitoring and periodic review of your portfolio are crucial to make profitable decisions. However, your job may be very time-consuming, leaving you with limited or no time to periodically monitor your investments and make modifications as necessary. A robo-advisor platform allows you to put your portfolio in an automated mode.

    Simple strategy investors
    You may not need the services of an expensive financial advisor if you follow an uncomplicated and straightforward investment strategy. An automated investing platform will do the rebalancing as and when required to suit your goals.

    You do not want to hire an advisor

    You may not have a large amount to invest or the assets that require the services of an experienced financial advisor. However, you may still not want to make your own investment decisions. In such an instance, an automated investing platform makes a good choice as it will select the right investment products, execute trades, and rebalance your portfolio as needed.

    If you are fine with no human interaction or need high customization, an automated investing platform may not be ideal for you.

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