Is Investing for Everyone?

by Nick on December 14, 2014

Once upon a time, investing was simple. You met with your broker, banker, or other investment guy who either came to you or you made an appointment in his office. Everyone wore suits, and trades were on paper. Things were bought and sold in a slow fashion, and local made sense, because the information was more available.

Now, day-traders make a fortune online, in their pajamas. College kids turn their allowances into nest-eggs by setting up stock-buying and selling robots. Anyone with a modem can find access to global markets, and there are hundreds of different sites claiming to give you the bidding software to learn to trade on your own. The guy with the suit and the office is still there, but he has changed his investment strategies with the times, too. So who do you listen to? The online sites or the experts?

The answer depends on how you like to spend your time. For those who enjoy researching the next best thing, or who have a lot of knowledge about something that can help to pick winner stocks, then an independent or shared investment approach makes sense. For those who want their needs considered but don’t want to spend time thinking about their money and changing strategies when necessary, as well as avoiding rookie mistakes, an investment professional makes a lot of sense.

One of the advantages of today’s global market is that we can now choose investment professionals who will work with our own belief systems. For those who want to find socially responsible funds that avoid worker exploitation, companies like Aquinas Funds specialize in this. For those looking for investments in global hot spots like Dubai, they may speak with a place like J.P. Morgan global wealth management. There are companies who will help you spend your dollars in a way that you can support just about anything– environmentally responsible companies, alternative energy, women’s fair pay, responsible tax choices, etc. These are all things you can discuss with the local broker, if you don’t want to work with a specialist.

The new world of investing has opened things up to the rich and the penny investors, and both the knowledgeable and the newbie. There seems to be a place for anyone who wants to try things, and a level of risk that will make most people feel a little more secure about their financial future when they look for a way to help their money stretch just a little further.

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Cutting Through The Finance Jargon

by Nick on November 14, 2014

Life InsuranceBamboozle ‘em!

Quantitative easing; the government prints more money. LIBOR; London Inter- Bank Overnight Rate. What the banks charge each other for doing nothing for a few hours. The Fix; a few traders get together to set the currency exchange rates. Offsetting, Upsetting, Leveraged, Sub-prime, Hedged, Double hedged. The financial Jargon goes on and on. Investigations into the reasons for the worldwide financial crash of 2008 have shown that some of the traders had so managed to bury their “products” in jargon that even their bosses and the regulators were completely bamboozled, unable to see what was going on. So what chance for the rest of us?

What’s in the shop window?

All that stuff in the first paragraph means something to the people who deal every day with high finance, the bankers, chancellors, economists, financial journalists. It probably will never enter the consciousness of most of us other than hearing about it on the news. Mr. and Mrs. Everyman on Middle Town High street, who want to stash a few quid in a savings account, borrow money to buy a car, take out a life insurance policy to protect the family in the future don’t need to know about “financial instruments” and “Sovereign debt”, they do need to know about AER, APR and the difference between a term life and a whole of life policy. The jargon that they see every day in the bank or insurance agent’s shop window. These are the things that are going to help them to make the right decisions about the products they need.

A good place to start.

If we’re going to cut through the financial jargon, then, those four terms are a good enough place to start. (They’re even, coincidentally, in alphabetical order)

AER. Annual Equivalent Rate. This relates to your savings. It gives the interest rate that you can expect to earn from the money that you put in the bank. Shop around. The higher the AER, the more you should make, but keep an eye on it because they have a nasty habit of reducing the interest rate after you’ve been with them for a while.

APR. Annual Percentage Rate (of change). Borrowing money, the APR lets you compare one loan, with another. A useful example might be a car loan. Car dealerships often have in-house financing deals. The APR lets you see whether you’d be better off with a bank loan than buying on the dealer’s own finance.

Term Life policy. A life insurance policy that remains in force for a fixed period of time. Usually fifteen or twenty years. If you die during the fixed term, the policy pays out. If you survive, you need to get another policy to remain protected.

Whole of life policy. With this life insurance policy, it remains in force until you die, whenever that may be. However long you may have held it.

So, We’ve cut through the first four bits of financial jargon only another x thousand words and phrases to go………

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