Ease Into the World of Investing

The United Nations does it. Governments do it. Companies do it. Fund managers do it. Millions of ordinary working people – from business owners to factory workers – do it. Housewives do it. Even farmers and children do it.’It’ here is investing: the science and art of creating, protecting and enhancing your wealth in the financial markets. This article introduces some of the most important concerns in the world of investment.Let’s start with your objectives. While clearly the goal is to make more money, there are 3 specific reasons institutions, professionals and retail investors (people like you and me) invest:For Security, ie for protection against inflation or market crashes
For Income, ie to receive regular income from their investments
For Growth, ie for long-term growth in the value of their investmentsInvestments are generally structured to focus on one or other of these objectives, and investment professionals (such as fund managers) spend a lot of time balancing these competing objectives. With a little bit of education and time, you can do almost the same thing yourself.One of the first questions to ask yourself is how much risk you’re comfortable with. To put it more plainly: how much money are you prepared to lose? Your risk tolerance level depends on your personality, experiences, number of dependents, age, level of financial knowledge and several other factors. Investment advisors measure your risk tolerance level so they can classify you by risk profile (eg, ‘Conservative’, ‘Moderate’, ‘Aggressive’) and recommend the appropriate investment portfolio (explained below).However, understanding your personal risk tolerance level is necessary for you too, especially with something as important as your own money. Your investments should be a source of comfort, not pain. Nobody can guarantee you’ll make a profit; even the most sensible investment decisions can turn against you; there are always ‘good years’ and ‘bad years’. You may lose part or all of your investment so always invest only what you are prepared to lose.At some point you’ll want to withdraw some or all of your investment funds. When is that point likely to be: in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years or 25 years? Clearly, you’ll want an investment that allows you to withdraw at least part of your funds at this point. Your investment timeframe – short-term, medium-term or long-term – will often determine what kinds of investments you can go for and what kinds of returns to expect.All investments involve a degree of risk. One of the ‘golden rules’ of investing is that reward is related to risk: the higher the reward you want, the higher the risk you have to take. Different investments can come with very different levels of risk (and associated reward); it’s important that you appreciate the risks associated with any investment you’re planning to make. There’s no such thing as a risk-free investment, and your bank deposits are no exception. Firstly, while Singapore bank deposits are rightly considered very safe, banks in other countries have failed before and continue to fail. More importantly, in 2010 the highest interest rate on Singapore dollar deposits up to $10,000 was 0.375%, while the average inflation rate from Jan-Nov 2010 was 2.66%. You were losing money just by leaving your savings in the bank.Today, there are many, many types of investments (‘asset classes’) available. Some – such as bank deposits, stocks (shares) and unit trusts – you’re already familiar with, but there are several others you should be aware of. Some of the most common ones:Bank Deposits
Shares
Investment-Linked Product1
Unit Trusts2
ETFs3
Gold41 An Investment-Linked Product (ILP) is an insurance plan that combines protection and investment. ILPs main advantage is that they offer life insurance.2 A Unit Trust is a pool of money professionally managed according to a specific, long-term management objective (eg, a unit trust may invest in well-known companies all over the world to try to provide a balance of high returns and diversification). The main advantage of unit trusts is that you don’t have to pay brokers’ commissions.3 An ETF or Exchange-Traded Fund comes in many different forms: for example, there are equity ETFs that hold, or track the performance of, a basket of stocks (eg Singapore, emerging economies); commodity ETFs that hold, or track the price of, a single commodity or basket of commodities (eg Silver, metals); and currency ETFs that track a major currency or basket of currencies (eg Euro). ETFs offer two main advantages: they trade like shares (on stock exchanges such as the SGX) and typically come with very low management fees.The main difference between ETFs and Unit Trusts is that ETFs are publicly-traded assets while Unit Trusts are privately-traded assets, meaning that you can buy and sell them yourself anytime during market hours.4 ‘Gold’ here refers to gold bullion, certificates of ownership or gold savings accounts. However, note that you can invest in gold in many other ways, including gold ETFs, gold Unit Trusts; and shares in gold mining companies.With the advent of the Internet and online brokers, there are so many investment alternatives available today that even a beginner investor with $5,000 to invest can find several investment options suited to her objectives, risk profile and timeframe.Diversification basically means trying to reduce risk by making a variety of investments, ie investing your money in multiple companies, industries and countries (and as your financial knowledge and wealth grows, in different ‘asset classes’ – cash, stocks, ETFs, commodities such as gold and silver, etc). This collection of investments is termed your Investment Portfolio.Some level of diversification is important because in times of crisis, similar investments tend to behave similarly. Two of the best examples in recent history are the Singapore stock market crashes of late-2008/early-2009, during the US ‘Subprime’ crisis, and 1997, during the ‘Asian Financial Crisis’, when the price of large numbers of stocks plunged. ‘Diversifying’ by investing in different stocks wouldn’t have helped you very much on these occasions.The concept and power of compounding are best explained by example. Assume we have 3 investments: the first returns 0.25% a year; the second returns 5% a year; and the third returns 10% a year. For each investment, we compare 2 scenarios:Without compounding, ie the annual interest is taken out of the account.
With compounding, ie the annual interest is left (re-invested) in the account.Let’s look at the returns over 25 years for all 3 investments, assuming we start off with $10,000 in Year 0:With 0.25% return a year, your investment will grow to $10,625 after 25 years without compounding; your investment becomes $10,644 after 25 years with compounding.
With 5% return a year, your investment will grow to $22,500 after 25 years without compounding; your investment becomes $33,864 after 25 years with compounding.
With 10% return a year, your investment will grow to $35,000 after 25 years without compounding; your investment becomes $108,347 after 25 years with compounding.This shows the dramatic effects of both higher returns and compounding: 10% annual returns coupled with 25 years of compounding will return you more than 10 times your initial investment. And 10% returns are by no means unrealistic: educated investors who actively manage their portfolio themselves and practise diversification can achieve even higher returns, even with some losing years.People of all ages and backgrounds need practical and customised guidance in developing their financial knowledge and skills in order to reach their financial goals. In this article we’ve tried to describe in simple terms some of the most important concepts and principles you need to understand on this journey.

Business Loans In Canada: Financing Solutions Via Alternative Finance & Traditional Funding

Business loans and finance for a business just may have gotten good again? The pursuit of credit and funding of cash flow solutions for your business often seems like an eternal challenge, even in the best of times, let alone any industry or economic crisis. Let’s dig in.

Since the 2008 financial crisis there’s been a lot of change in finance options from lenders for corporate loans. Canadian business owners and financial managers have excess from everything from peer-to-peer company loans, varied alternative finance solutions, as well of course as the traditional financing offered by Canadian chartered banks.

Those online business loans referenced above are popular and arose out of the merchant cash advance programs in the United States. Loans are based on a percentage of your annual sales, typically in the 15-20% range. The loans are certainly expensive but are viewed as easy to obtain by many small businesses, including retailers who sell on a cash or credit card basis.

Depending on your firm’s circumstances and your ability to truly understand the different choices available to firms searching for SME COMMERCIAL FINANCE options. Those small to medium sized companies ( the definition of ‘ small business ‘ certainly varies as to what is small – often defined as businesses with less than 500 employees! )

How then do we create our road map for external financing techniques and solutions? A simpler way to look at it is to categorize these different financing options under:

Debt / Loans

Asset Based Financing

Alternative Hybrid type solutions

Many top experts maintain that the alternative financing solutions currently available to your firm, in fact are on par with Canadian chartered bank financing when it comes to a full spectrum of funding. The alternative lender is typically a private commercial finance company with a niche in one of the various asset finance areas

If there is one significant trend that’s ‘ sticking ‘it’s Asset Based Finance. The ability of firms to obtain funding via assets such as accounts receivable, inventory and fixed assets with no major emphasis on balance sheet structure and profits and cash flow ( those three elements drive bank financing approval in no small measure ) is the key to success in ABL ( Asset Based Lending ).

Factoring, aka ‘ Receivable Finance ‘ is the other huge driver in trade finance in Canada. In some cases, it’s the only way for firms to be able to sell and finance clients in other geographies/countries.

The rise of ‘ online finance ‘ also can’t be diminished. Whether it’s accessing ‘ crowdfunding’ or sourcing working capital term loans, the technological pace continues at what seems a feverish pace. One only has to read a business daily such as the Globe & Mail or Financial Post to understand the challenge of small business accessing business capital.

Business owners/financial mgrs often find their company at a ‘ turning point ‘ in their history – that time when financing is needed or opportunities and risks can’t be taken. While putting or getting new equity in the business is often impossible, the reality is that the majority of businesses with SME commercial finance needs aren’t, shall we say, ‘ suited’ to this type of funding and capital raising. Business loan interest rates vary with non-traditional financing but offer more flexibility and ease of access to capital.

We’re also the first to remind clients that they should not forget govt solutions in business capital. Two of the best programs are the GovernmentSmall Business Loan Canada (maximum availability = $ 1,000,000.00) as well as the SR&ED program which allows business owners to recapture R&D capital costs. Sred credits can also be financed once they are filed.

Those latter two finance alternatives are often very well suited to business start up loans. We should not forget that asset finance, often called ‘ ABL ‘ by those Bay Street guys, can even be used as a loan to buy a business.

If you’re looking to get the right balance of liquidity and risk coupled with the flexibility to grow your business seek out and speak to a trusted, credible and experienced Canadian business financing advisor with a track record of business finance success who can assist you with your funding needs.

How Sports Nutrition Can Affect Health

The sports nutrition that any athlete consumes is a very important aspect and a huge determinant of his health and in turn affects his performance. Everyone knows that in today’s competing world of sports, one must perform at his best to even qualify. And when it comes to winning, it’s not enough to give your best- you need to be better than the best.To play any sport, an athlete must maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s not only required to practice and polish the skills of the sport, but is also equally important to nourish the body so that there will be enough energy and strength to play that sport. Let’s take a look at how the right sports nutrition can help in this regard.You, assuming that you are an athlete or thinking of becoming one, must, first and foremost, understand the principles of sports nutrition completely. What is the point of staying healthy when you do not even know what being healthy is all about?Firstly, it’s important to avoid engaging yourself in false beliefs and misconceptions. Myths are completely different from facts, and your sports nutrition health is indeed a fact so do not, under any circumstances, mix unreal and unproven principles with facts. Compromising with your health based on misinterpretation of the facts can seriously jeopardize your career as an athlete.It’s easy to talk about managing your health than actually doing it. So to start with, you must take note of nutrition requirements that are related to your training program. Failure to recognize these said requirements would cause stress not only to your body, but also mentally. When you don’t know what are up against, how can you build energy to tackle it?Taking experts’ advice on the sports nutrition is helpful too. You might be taking carbohydrates all right but not in the right amount or in the amount that is appropriate for you. So there will either be an excess or a lack, and neither is helpful for your health status.Let’s make one point clear though. There is a lot of difference between having well balanced sports nutrition and dieting to lose fat. Do not, under any circumstances, mistake them to be the same thing or else your health will be compromised.You may have an extremely busy schedule, being an athlete and all, but you must still consume appropriate amount of food. So you must manage your time well to have an adequate time for eating. Time management is definitely the key.For starters, you may not be financially stable right away, but that is how it always is when you are just beginning. However, this scarcity of finances might be a factor for you not to be able to attain adequate food supplies.For those who are already making it big, your sports nutrition health should always come first. This means you have to manage your money efficiently so that you can have the appropriate supply of food, and still have enough to spend for maintaining your lifestyle.A usually ignored, but quite important nutrition and health impairing factor is frequent traveling. Besides from the fact that traveling is expensive, it comes with a huge tendency that you will be taking your food on the road which leaves you with very few healthy choices.Or if you carry the food, it minimized the selection of your food items to those that are portable. That will leave out the food that is difficult for you to carry but is important for your sports nutrition health. The time for eating should also not be modified.Sports nutrition experts break the nutrition into the basic three types that the food basically is made up of. That is protein, carbohydrates and fats. A correct balance of these components in your body is very important. Anything in excess or in deficiencies could be a cause of a nutritional downfall.Proteins give energy to the body. Whereas fats are the things that you should be more concerned about since these are the ones that decide what kind of shape to give to your body. You must not lose more than one half pound of fat in a week because if this happens, your body will individually think that you are undergoing a fasting, trying to starve yourself. If this is the case, your metabolism slows down since there is a need to conserve calories that have been used and also since your muscles will be used as sources of energy.To say the least, you need to carefully follow the guidance about sports nutrition and ponder over the tips given in this article. Remember, it’s possible to be a successful athlete provided you maintain your health well!