Four ways to alleviate financial stress

Whatever your money situation, most of us live with some form of financial stress. You don’t have to be on the breadline to find it a strain to make the books balance each month. Even relatively well-off people can find it difficult to maintain high-cost commitments they’ve entered. And, beyond the inherent money implications, financial stress can also pose a real threat to your mental health. So if you’re stressing over debts or feeling the financial heat, cut yourself some slack by considering these stress-beating tips.

1. Identify the areas that need the most attention

You can’t deal with an enemy you haven’t already identified. The first step in reducing financial stress is to understand where the biggest problems are, and where the biggest wins are to be had.

Start by listing out your debts. Then make another list of your fixed monthly overheads, such as rent, mortgage payments, council tax, and utility bills. Finally, make a list of your typical day-to-day outgoings, such as paying for travel or meeting friends for dinner.

Now try to pinpoint the items that are causing the most worry. Ask yourself which payment or outgoing you’d get shot of first to make yourself feel happier. Once you have that in your sights, you can plan to go after it.

2. Consider consolidating existing debts

If you’ve got a clear idea of how much money you need to service your debts, make loan payments and pay your bills each month, compare this to how much income you have. If you’d need £3,000 a month, but have only £2,000 a month coming in after tax, you’ll need a plan to lower the outgoings. Otherwise, your debt will spiral further away from you each month.

Consolidating existing debts is a really good place to start. This works by taking out one single loan (with a single provider) and using it to pay off all of your outstanding debts. For example, say you have several credit cards, store cards and loan agreements, each with a different lender, you’ll be paying significant interest rates on each of these debts. By paying all of these off to be left with only one consolidated debt, you’ll be able to reduce the interest rate you’re paying each month.

There are a few different methods to consolidate debts. If you are a homeowner, second charge mortgages are often appropriate as they tend to come with lower interest rates. As explained by Loan.co.uk, second charge mortgages work by letting you use the percentage of your property you own outright as collateral to borrow more money.

Another benefit to getting a second charge mortgage for debt consolidation is that the longer the term you choose, the lower the monthly repayments will be on your second mortgage, thus helping with your overall financial circumstances.

3. Create a budget

Finances are more manageable when you have a set budget to work with. Figuring out what that budget should be is easier than you might think.

Often the best way to make sense of all of the numbers is to create a budgeting spreadsheet. In the first column, list all of the expected outgoings you have in an average month. As the list grows, group it into categories. For instance, you may have separate categories for the likes of credit cards, utility bills, car-related costs, travel expenses, food and drink, entertainment and so on.

Next, under each category, group all the relevant outgoings. For example, ‘car’ might include things like insurance, fuel and parking costs. Once you’re happy you’ve thought of everything of any significance, put a value next to it in the second column, showing how much you need to allow for that each month. Then, use the SUM function to total up your predicted monthly outgoings.

Once you’ve completed that step, check your payslip (or combined payslips if you’re doing this together with a partner), and at the bottom of your spreadsheet enter your net monthly income/s. Then, simply subtract the outgoings from the total income and see how it looks.

If the total is a negative number, you should begin reducing anything in your outgoings that is within your control (such as entertainment or dining out), creating a smaller monthly budget for each of these activities. Any money saved by budgeting in this manner can instead be directed towards paying off outstanding debts.

4. Automate payments

Financial stress is not only caused by how much money you owe, but also by when it is owed by. Keeping on top of when things need to be paid by can be just as stressful, particularly if you have several repayments due at different times of the month. That’s why it’s a good idea to schedule and automate payments so that they take care of themselves.

Most lenders and businesses are geared to take payment from your bank by Direct Debit. If you set this up, you authorise them to automatically take the amounts owing to them on their due dates. Once in place, the only thing you need to do is keep an eye on your statement to ensure there’s sufficient money in your account to meet the debits each time.

For many other regular bills, setting up a Standing Order to make the payment each month, or even each quarter, may be preferable. A Standing Order is in your control, so rather than authorising the business or lender to automatically take money, you instead authorise your bank to ‘send’ payments on the dates you schedule. You can schedule these for dates of your choosing. This in itself helps in reducing the end of month stress that can come from wondering whether your salary will reach your account before bills have to be paid.

As Mind advises: “Although there will be things in your life that you can’t control, there might be practical things you could do to resolve or improve issues that are putting pressure on you.” So, grab a pen and paper and work your way through these tips. You’ll feel less anxious simply from having reviewed your situation properly and taking steps to improve it.

Will Apple’s Services Revenue Decline After the Recent Court Verdict?

The drawn-out duel between Epic Games and Apple finally concluded on September 10 with the court’s ruling. Epic Games alleged that Apple was running a monopoly via its App Store, and the fees it charged (30%) were exorbitant. However, the ruling said that Apple wasn’t a monopoly.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ exact words were, “While the Court finds that Apple enjoys a considerable market share of over 55% and extraordinarily high-profit margins, these factors alone do not show antitrust conduct. Success is not illegal.”

The ruling found Apple not guilty on nine out of 10 counts.

Does it mean Apple has won?

The court ruling is a partial victory for Apple, emphasizing that the tech giant has to let developers give customers multiple payment (third party payment) options. Furthermore, Apple has to provide this option within 90 days. 

Since the applications are available within the App Store, Apple argued that all listings must only use Apple’s in-payment options. Apple generally charges app players 30% of each purchase while it charges 15% from companies with less than $1 million in annual app revenues.

Judge Rogers ruled, “This measured remedy will increase competition, increase transparency, increase consumer choice and information while preserving Apple’s iOS ecosystem, which has procompetitive justifications.”

Apple doesn’t have to make any significant changes in its operations other than allowing developers to integrate third-party payment options with its App Store. The ruling instructed Epic Games to pay Apple its cut that it avoided paying for months. Epic has to pay Apple $3.6 million for violating App Store policy.

Will Apple’s Services business revenue decline?

The ruling is the first time that Apple’s control over the App Store has been called into question. Now, gaming apps account for 70% of all App Store revenue. The court said that this 70% is generated by less than 10% of all App Store users. Over 80% of apps listed in the App Store are free and generate no revenue. 

However, most analysts don’t see this ruling as having a major impact on Apple’s sales and earnings. According to Plus500’s recent reporting which quoted Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty, who said that the Epic Games vs. Apple ruling would have a “minimal financial impact” on the latter. However, Huberty expects the ruling to lower Apple’s future earnings between 1% and 2%. 

JPMorgan analyst Samik Chatterjee noted that the decision merely sounds like the kick-off for the rest of the game. Apple’s Services business remains unaffected as the ruling doesn’t recommend any changes in the 30% take. 

Chatterjee explained, “Our view continues to be that consumers will leverage payment alternatives in the case of expensive subscriptions and in-app purchases, limiting headwinds for App Store revenues and earnings from what is an otherwise very broad base of applications.”

Noted Apple analyst Gene Munster tweeted that Apple’s sales might decline by 2% in the worst-case scenario while earnings per share might fall by 4%. Munster also claimed that growth returns would return to normal about 18 months after the changes are implemented.

A simple barometer to gauge the impact on Apple will follow its stock price for a week after its annual September 14 event. For the last seven straight years, Apple stock has moved up 1% in the week after the event.

Apple sees the verdict as a win because of two reasons. First, the ruling didn’t challenge Apple’s right to decide what software is permitted on the App Store, and second, it stated that Apple is not a monopoly under either federal or state law.

App Store remains critical for Apple revenue

While the iPhone still accounts for most Apple sales, the Services business is the company’s second-largest segment. Services sales include multiple subscription products such as Apple Music, Apple TV+ and Apple Care, but the App Store rakes in the majority of its revenue. 

The App Store generates around 7% of Apple’s total revenue, and it contributes approximately 14% to the company’s bottom line. 

The court verdict expectedly weighed on Apple stock that has lost close to 5% in the last five trading sessions. Epic Games has filed a notice of appeal in this case which suggests there is more to come in this saga between the two companies. 

How your business can be viewed as a leading expert

Your business needs to be viewed as an expert in the industry. Your brand should be leading the way with innovative ideas and research. Perhaps, you are already improving your services, watching industry trends and finding new holes in the market. However, you need to show your customers that you are taking these steps to lead the industry. Publicising your knowledge and expertise can improve your brand image and reputation across the industry. If you are proud of something within your company, share it.

Customers are far more likely to be a product from someone they think is an expert in the field. The business industry is extremely competitive these days. Customers will look for businesses that stand out and depict themselves as an expert. You can build trust with customers, improve sales and eventually, charge more for your services and products.

Here are a few ways you can present yourself as an industry expert.

Content

Use social media to share your knowledge, and answer customer queries through blog posts or Instagram stories. Interact with customers and help them improve their knowledge of the sector. You can showcase your expertise on various online sites and broaden your customer base in the process.

Events

Connect with clients, customers and investors through online and in-person events. You could host lectures, Q&A sessions, workshops and conferences. Host a virtual event through a virtual event platform to reach clients and competitors from across the globe. Use events to spark industry discussions and debates so you can learn from your competitors’ perspectives.  Events are a brilliant way to improve your own knowledge and get to know your competitor’s strategy.

Innovation

You need to constantly innovate and improve your products or services. The most successful businesses are always looking to the next thing and predicting industry changes. Become a forward-thinking business that creates new and exciting products.

SEO

SEO utilisation is essential for your website and blog. Your website will rank higher on search engines, and more people will click on your site. SEO is an important tool of digital marketing, and it can improve the exposure, reputation and growth of your business.

PPC

PPC has a similar impact to SEO on your brand’s reputation. It can improve your website ranking and help more people to recognise your brand. SEO is slightly more effective than PPC – but a combination of strategies is the best way to approach digital marketing.

Service

Finally, you need to offer outstanding products and customer service. Digital marketing and events can only get you so far if your product isn’t up to scratch. Poor customer service can quickly impact your brand’s reputation and lead to your downfall in severe cases.

Improve your brand’s reputation and present yourself as a leading industry expert.

The 5 financial benefits of running an eco-friendly business

From small businesses to big companies, everybody can now reap the plentiful financial benefits of moving their business in an eco-friendly direction. Keep reading below to find out what these benefits are! 

Awareness of the importance of better preserving the environment continues to grow and spread these days. Today, more than ever before, consumers are paying more attention to how the products they use, and the companies they buy from, affect our Mother Nature. For this reason, the business environment is seeing significant shifts in consumers’ preferences, trends, and expectations. 

2017 study on corporate social responsibility has found that 87% of consumers would have a better image of a company that supports social or environmental issues. 88% of them reported they would be more loyal to such a company. And, the same study found that 92% of them would be more likely to trust such a company. 

More recent data from Statista shows that, as of 2020, 45% of consumers worldwide report that they were interested in finding eco-friendly and sustainable brands. What’s more, 44% of consumers said that they were interested in brands that support recycling. 

So, that being said, it’s clear that today’s consumers want more brands that care about the environment. But, what does this mean for businesses that actually take their sustainability game to the next level? They get plenty of financial benefits. 

Here are the five financial benefits of running an eco-friendly business: 

1. You get more profits

With more consumers becoming aware of the importance of caring better for our environment, markets are experiencing a new trend: a growing demand for eco-friendly goods. 

Today’s consumers are increasingly asking for natural and organic products and have little or no impact on our planet. But, what matters more is that they are willing to pay more for such products. A global survey from Nielsen has found that 66% of consumers worldwide share this opinion. What’s more, the same study has found that consumers want green factors such as goods made from fresh, natural, and organic ingredients, eco-friendly packaging, brands that are known for their social value, and eco-friendly brands. 

Now, you may be wondering how does this affects your business. Well, if you produce eco-friendly products, increased demand translates into more profits. 

2. You save money

You know what they say, “every penny saved is a penny earned.” And becoming a greener company can definitely help you save significant amounts of money. 

One way in which you can save money as a sustainable business is to practice energy conservation. This significantly reduces your energy costs. The same goes for practices like water conservation and reduced waste. 

Let’s take waste, for example. Waste disposal can cost your company a lot. And it costs the environment even more if you don’t manage it right. But, using sustainable waste management solutions such as waste ballers and compactors will save your company money and the environment from pollution. Options like rental or leasing makes business sense to use ballers or compactors to manage your company’s garbage efficiently. 

As for energy conservation, by using energy-efficient equipment such as solar power or wind power, you’ll cut down on energy costs significantly. One study has found that the average American business pays about $557 in energy costs every month. And, by using solar panels instead, those costs were cut down by nearly 89%. 

3. You attract top talent to your team

Not just today’s consumers look for eco-friendly brands. Skilled professionals do too. 

According to a 2019 survey, 40% of Millennials reported that they’d chosen a job over others because the company performed better on environmental responsibility than the other choices. 17% of Boomers said so too. What’s more, 70% of Millennials also said they would stay with a company as long as the company has a strong sustainability plan. Nearly half of all respondents of the survey have also said that they would be willing to accept a pay cut if that means working in an environmentally responsible company. 

So, how can this financially benefit your business? It may attract top talent to your business. All employers want to have the most skilled employees out there. That’s because good employees do their job right, and this attracts customers and gives the business a competitive edge. 

Top talent professionals will do a fantastic job at their tasks, which will leave your customers satisfied and have them come back to your business again and again. What’s more, satisfied clients also often result in new customer acquisitions, thanks to the power of word-of-mouth. 

So, you do want top talented employees in your company. And, being an eco-friendly business may be a great way to attract them. 

4. You benefit from a green reputation  

We’ve already said it before, and data proved it: consumers prefer brands that care about the environment and have sustainable practices. So, when you do that, you earn a reputation as a green brand. 

In the business world, reputation is everything. A poor reputation can destroy your business, while a good reputation can attract more customers to you and help you earn more profits. Being an eco-friendly brand makes your business more appealing to customers, clients, employees, and business partners or investors. All these translate into more financial benefits for your business. 

5. It can be part of your marketing strategy

Sharing with the world that your company is doing its part to protect the environment better is a great way to get all these financial benefits mentioned above. It’s all right to “brag” about your green efforts to customers as long as they are true. But, make sure you stay away from greenwashing. In other words, don’t make sustainable claims that aren’t true because this may actually backfire and work against you. 

Including your eco-friendly efforts in your marketing strategy will enhance your reputation as a green brand, and, as mentioned before, this will translate into several financial benefits for you. 

Market Research Takes a Hybrid Approach in The Financial Sector

Market research took a different turn and approach last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. The way in which businesses had conducted market research until now had to be changed and adapted to an entirely new situation with everyone becoming reliant on digital tools. A health crisis like this, with social distancing restrictions and lockdowns being enforced throughout the world, has disrupted the lives of people and companies’ business operations. For this reason, everyone was forced to adjust accordingly. 

For business, this meant dealing with clients and conducting market research through an all-virtual approach. Apart from this, companies had to avoid certain aspects when it was required to social distance. For instance, large-scale estimations were no longer relevant given the fact that consumer behaviours were more prone to changing faster. On a similar note, products that didn’t match consumer demands at a time had to be left on hold. 

When it comes to the financial market, this was also heavily disrupted during the pandemic. Market research conducted during the pandemic was utterly different to what financial markets had witnessed so far, as the economy was more fragile than ever. Worldwide economies have been affected as a consequence of a health crisis of the scale of this one. 

Now that businesses have begun resuming their practices, their tactics are changing yet again. For the financial sector, this means a hybrid approach. Here’s what this means:

The virtual method meets the offline

When companies shifted their business operation to the online environment, this meant that every aspect of the business and activity within the value chain had to be conducted virtually. With the help of digital communication tools, software programs to facilitate business activities and new technologies to enhance supply chain management, many companies managed to keep working. 

For the financial sector, this meant meeting with clients, supporting investors and conducting market and equity research through virtual connectivity. Although extremely challenging, financial companies managed to keep their activities through this method. What’s more, the relationships and interactions with their clients improved, given that it was the only way of conducting business. Now, the hybrid approach means a combination of methods: virtual and in-person meetings. 

Equity research is the study of the financial situation of a business and an analysis of the industry needed to make an informed investment decision. Equity and market research analysts are now adopting this hybrid approach. Their analysts will be able to go back to the office, as personal interaction is crucial for client relationships while also keeping the remote working strategy in place, given the fragility of the situation due to the pandemic.

Why market research is crucial for the financial sector

The financial sector has many things at stake, given that it deals with money transactions and it manages economies. For this reason, market research is of the utmost importance. With thorough and frequent market research, financial providers are able to make informed decisions in terms of financial strategies. Market research analysts are vital for any financial provider as they can identify and analyse trends and new consumer behaviours. They can forecast the future demand and needs of their customers. 

This type of information can maximise the profit of a business and help organisations better understand their customers’ needs, so the importance of market research in finance should not be underestimated or overlooked. Based on this, financial providers can tailor their services. Some of the most researched markets within the financial sector are as follows:

  • Savings accounts;
  • Personal loans and credit cards;
  • Investments and business banking;
  • Insurance; 
  • Mortgages;
  • Pensions.

The fact that saving accounts and personal loans are among the most researched areas shows that the consumers’ behaviour changed during the coronavirus pandemic. People become less sure about the financial situation, both personal and in the world, so they are looking into ways of getting that certainty back. Business investments are also relevant, although entrepreneurs are going into the business industry with more scepticism. This goes to show how crucial market research is in the financial sector.

The future of market research beyond 2021

Businesses were forced to respond to an unprecedented circumstance created by a pandemic in the best way possible, so their strategy mainly consisted of cutting back expenses to the best of their ability. This generally meant prioritising differently. The market research department was among the ones which saw a significant reduction in financing. A consequence of the pandemic generated general shock and uncertainty, which meant consumers’ behaviour changed, and their usual demands became irrelevant. Doing more with less was the new strategy for many companies, including financial providers, as they still needed to research constantly changing trends and habits.

More than a year into the pandemic and after the initial shock, companies are trying to go back to normality or adjust it to hybrid models. In 2021 and beyond, the future of market research doesn’t look like anything from the pre-pandemic world. Apart from technology being a predominant and indispensable aspect for market research, the uncertainty of the current times is very much at the core of the new approach. This means that researchers and analysts are still working to comprehend the impact of the 2020’s events. 

Therefore, future plans include working on understanding how much markets and consumers’ behaviours truly changed and what new tactics and strategies are needed. The future of market research will mean a more holistic approach: a combination of technologies and highly skilled research analysts to generate results at a faster speed.

The role of technology in market research

As mentioned earlier, technology will play an extremely significant role in market research in the financial sector and other industries from 2021. This is necessary because companies need to generate research results faster than ever, and technology is the most effective way of accomplishing this. What’s more, company budgets haven’t increased too much, but the volume of market research needed and the need to understand new trends are significantly increasing. 

For this reason, technology can help businesses acquire the needed information much faster and keep up with demand. Apart from the fact that technology is vital for remote working in staying in touch with partners, clients and members of the same business through communication tools, it is also the best method for market researchers to bring data together from various sources.

UK’s SME scene shows resilience in 2021, but financial concerns remain

The “2020 effect” took companies by storm, forcing them to embrace digital transformation and even rethink their business model. And yet, despite the massive recession that everyone expected, reports show that the UK’s Small and Mid-Size Enterprise (SME) scene was mostly resilient to these disruptive times, found ways to adapt, and is optimistic about this year’s prospects. 

According to a recent report, 71% of small business CEOs expect their sales revenues to grow in 2021, and 68% believe that their savings will be enough to get them through the year. Moreover, more than half of respondents said that they expect economic conditions to improve – 44% expect this to happen in the second half of the year. 

However, in spite of this optimistic outlook, it’s not all smooth sailing from here. Small and medium-sized businesses still have many challenges to face, and financial concerns remain a persistent problem. 

A closer look at UK SMEs in 2020 

The number of small and medium-sized companies in the UK has been rising steadily for several years now. In 2020, there were over 5.97 million SMEs, 300K more than in 2018. These businesses had a turnover of £1.6 trillion and employed approximately 4 million people, accounting for nearly half of the total UK workforce. 

Last year, businesses had to make some difficult decisions due to the pandemic: 

  • 43% relied on the furlough scheme to survive the crisis 
  • 30% had to lay off personnel 
  • 29% of CEOs considered shutting down their business 

Lockdowns were the biggest concern for small and medium-sized business owners in the UK, who were concerned that restrictions would affect productivity and lead to a loss of customer engagement. Unlike the rest of the world, UK businesses had another major cause of concern in 2020: Brexit. According to one study, 57% of CEOs expressed concern over Brexit legislation and requirements, and 33% about Brexit process changes for imports and exports. Leaders in certain industries, such as agriculture and the environment, said that they were more worried about the impact of Brexit than that of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Then, there were financial concerns: 24% of SME owners rated unsteady cash flow and late payments as a top cause of concern in 2021, and 21% worried about consumer spending changes. The industries that were the most likely to be affected by financial challenges include tourism & hospitality, arts & recreation, transport, and retail, where financial distress rose by 50%. Northern Ireland and Northwest England were the most affected, but London also took a big hit due to its reliance on tourism. 

Roadmap to recovery: how can SMEs deal with financial issues post-pandemic?

Although the COVID-19 pandemic was the biggest crisis the business scene has experienced in decades, recovery is possible. In some cases, you may even be able to turn the crisis to your advantage and use it as a launchpad towards new opportunities. Here are a few ways you can cope with the crisis and keep your finances in order. 

Use online tools to monitor your cash flow.

A recent study has found that poor cash flow is the biggest financial concern for SMEs in the UK, and 26% of CEOs have to chase late payments. The most affected sectors were finance, pensions, charity, and volunteering. One major problem arises from the fact that late payments can be hard to manage, and, sometimes, it may take months until you realise that a certain client is affecting your cash flow. To remedy this, use online tools that automatically generate bills, track client expenses, and manage project budgets. This way, you’ll have a clear overview of your cash flow and, if one of your contractors or clients is late on payments, you’ll be able to address the problem before it grows.

If you identify a problem with the cash flow, you can apply this three-step recovery plan: 

Stop the financial bleeding. 

The first thing you should do when experiencing cash flow issues is to perform a rapid diagnostic and see what problem is losing you money. For example, if you suspect that improperly tracked employee time after transitioning to remote work is costing you money, using software for online timesheets can help avoid unnecessary spending. Then, try to fix the problem through a short-term action plan. This can include solutions such as financing (including crowdfunding) and Government programs. During this process, make sure you maintain communication with key stakeholders in your company, such as important clients, banks, and strategic partners. As a short-term solution, you can also cut back on unnecessary expenses (such as tools you no longer use, office supplies, extraneous personnel, office space) and itemise cash flow from week to week.

Stabilise your business by setting priorities and making a plan. 

After you’ve stopped the bleeding in the short term, you need to develop a long-term strategy to prevent that issue from coming back. This starts with understanding why the cash flow issue occurred in the first place, what weaknesses made it possible, and then create a recovery plan to stabilise the business. This can include minor improvements, such as using tools that boost productivity or reorganising the workflow, as well as major decisions, such as the sale of equity, assets, or debt, or changing your business model. 

Implement long-term solutions and track their performance.

Once the plan is set, it’s time to implement it. Once the measures are deployed, however, don’t forget about the importance of tracking progress. Ultimately, if a certain measure doesn’t have the expected impact and KPIs don’t point to any improvement, it may be time to rethink your operations and make additional changes. 

How to Start a Blogging Career on a Budget?

The profession of a blogger appeared in the 21st century and has become very popular. Its scope is that bloggers keep an “online diary,” a blog in which they share information about topics of interest. They write about their lifestyle, fashion, movies, business, software engineering, talk about the countries they have visited, and share photos. The motivation for bloggers is:

  • The desire to share information on a topic of interest.
  • Telling about their business and promoting it.
  • Making the blog itself a business and earning money.

The rapid development of social networks has created excellent conditions for those who want to start blogging. 

Blogging Platforms

If you are thinking about becoming a blogger, but you don’t have funds for that, this is not a problem. Platforms like Medium or Ghost may well serve as a starting point for you.

  • Medium – This is a platform where you can post your articles completely free of charge. The content belongs to you, but Medium has the right to use it. For instance, the website can modify and translate your content. 
  • Ghost – Here, you own everything you publish. It is an open-source platform to which you pay for the provided services. You decide your monetization policy, and you can even share your content for free. Ghost is more customizable compared to Medium, enabling you to manage content better.

Building Your Blog From Scratch

If you are not satisfied with ready-made solutions for bloggers and have money, you can create your blog from scratch. There are many website builders or cms platforms you can choose from. Here are some of them:

  • Tilda – It is a simple and intuitive website builder with a focus on typography. Tilda provides pre-designed blocks to build your website from scratch or to use ready templates. If this is not enough, you are free to use its Zero Block functionality to design your blocks.  
  • Wix – This one is a drag-and-drop platform with over 500 designer-made templates. It provides solutions for bloggers, such as SEO tools, blog analytics, text and image editing, community area, adding multiple writers. You can display ads, have subscription plans and sell online. Compared to Tilda, it has much more users.
  • WordPress – The most advanced platform among all. WordPress is not just a website builder. It’s a complete CMS platform with a very rich plugin marketplace. If you haven’t found the necessary functionality, you can create your plugin using the PHP programming language.

Do you still think it will be impossible to start a blog due to a lack of money? You just need to pay for a platform where you can share your content and, if necessary, buy a camera. Use the services of Payday Depot and get up to $5,000 for your initial expenses. 

How Technologies Influences The Stock Trading Market

Have you ever thought about what an amazing era we live in? On the one hand, a generation has grown up that can’t imagine a world without computers, smartphones, and the Internet. On the other, a generation that remembers a world without the Internet is up and running.

Only for the past 10 years, technology in trading has undergone significant changes, especially the ways of direct access to the market with ultra-low latency. In general, these solutions can be grouped as follows: software technologies and algorithms used in a stock trading app development , data processing technologies and placement and connectivity strategies for trading systems

Cyberpunk Stock Market

The trading of highly liquid instruments went through a process of evolution from direct trading between market participants on trading desks to trading using computer terminals (also known as transaction management systems) through automated exchange systems. Then to the use of computer programs, which fully control the processing of trades.

At every step in its evolution, software has automated functions that used to be performed by humans:

– Exchanges have automated the basic function of mashing orders. Previously this procedure was performed by market makers, now it’s performed by matching systems;

– Algorithms have automated the traders’ function, breaking down orders into smaller ones;

– Order routing routers have automated another function of traders, selecting in real time the most appropriate one among several trading venues to place an order;

– Automated market making (a form of high-frequency trading) eliminated the need  of specialist willing to make buy/sell trades and profit on the spread;

– The role of the arbitrageurs has also been automated by firms that specialize in high-frequency trading.

As markets have become increasingly “electronic,” the time scale of price movements has been greatly reduced in the entire trading process.

Almost no one doubts that the robotization of trading will be gaining strength.

How realistic is this perspective? Considering the money that large funds are investing in the IT sector, it is clear that in general the trend is growing. And it is possible that in the future really solid investment companies will disperse all their traders and replace them with robots (and programmers will become the main staff units). Competition on the stock market may well turn into a battle of technologies neither the battle of specialists.

Trading industry is constantly evolving, there are new promising directions. And we want to tell you more about the most promising ones :

Trading robots

Not so long ago so called “trading robots” appeared. These are automated systems that are used for trading without human participation. That is, the robot performs buying or selling by itself. For this purpose it has certain algorithms and rules.

The software analyzes the market, places buy or sell orders, tracks positions, etc.

The technology is actively used in many countries around the world and shows good results. The advantages of trading robots include:

  • Operational efficiency. The robot is capable to carry out simultaneously some various operations and to work with any quantity of financial tools. It is physically impossible for a human to make several actions at the same time.
  • Accuracy. If the program code is written correctly, the robot does not make mistakes in its work. It calculates trading positions accurately.
  • The absence of emotions. Under the influence of emotional climbs, stress, fatigue, depression and other factors, people often make wrong decisions and do not calculate the risks. A robot does not have this disadvantage. It does not need to sleep, eat, and has no headaches. It can work round the clock.
  • Progress. The software can be improved by optimizing the processes and, as a consequence, the trading robot’s work can be improved. In this case, the possibility of improvement is unlimited.

Despite a lot of apparent advantages, any software has its disadvantages. It is primarily concerned with analysis. The robot does not read the news and cannot react to unexpected bursts in the market.

Besides, in order for your robot to work efficiently, you need a competent specialist who not only knows how to create a program code, but also develops a trading strategy.

Neural network capabilities

Artificial Intelligence is actively used in various spheres, including trading. Its possibilities are virtually unlimited. Neural networks allow to minimize human intervention in the process of trading. They are a kind of robots. The main difference is that neural networks have the ability to learn. Robots work only on the code, which has been previously developed by a programmer, and they can’t improve themselves.

Neural networks make it possible to analyze not only the current market fluctuations, but practically any data. It allows us to combine fundamental information with technical information.

Neural networks are able to process simultaneously a huge stream of incoming data, to learn and quickly adapt to any fluctuations of the market. Unlike trading robots, neural network does not need to involve programmers for its rearrangement under new conditions.

Behavioral trading

A relatively new concept on the trading market is behavioral trading. It is based on psychological aspects of perception of market situations and trading processes. That is, in this case there is carried out a careful analysis not only of the technical side but also of human behavior.

Leading traders realized long ago that mathematical analysis alone is not enough for getting the full picture and predicting the market fluctuations. It’s much more effective to additionally use behavioral factors. It was noticed that the same reaction of market participants to different situations leads to repetition of market formations. In other words, behavioral trading allows predicting with high accuracy the development of events in a certain situation, finding regularities and using them in work.

A combination of several trends shows great results in trading. The result is a kind of symbiosis of effective management and psychology. It opens new horizons and opportunities for traders to earn.

Cluster analysis

The cluster analysis is the most effective way to analyze the market. It is a highly accurate method of price prediction based on the volumes of trading operations.

For this purpose, a detailed analysis is carried out for a certain time period, during which homogeneous operations – buying or selling – are performed. As a result of data collection, the clusters are formed with the total volume of trades, in which the transactions were made at a certain price. Thanks to this the trader can predict the movements on the market with a high degree of probability.

To make the task easier, charts are built. It is an informative way to visually see the trend.

Future of tradings

Technologies grow fast with the speed of light and new technologies can be used as a complex that provides the maximal result and allows to avoid considerable financial losses irrespective of market changes and their nature. No one knows what will happen when we are eighty years old? How will the world trade?

Actual Worldwide E-commerce Statistics 2021

Exactly® payment system is a partner of a large number of enterprises, most of which are representatives of e-commerce. A payment system in e-commerce helps make payments comfortable and simple for users. Its mission is to guarantee the accuracy of payment processing, a high number of confirmed transactions, and a stable cash flow.  According to Exactly® current statistics, an online business began to develop hard in the mid-2020 and for 7 months of 2021. It formed some new trends. Let’s see.

The Number of Online Buyers Has Grown

People are finally used to buying online. They believe that it is convenient, safe, and quick. So, a forecast from Statista says: by the end of 2021, the number of online buyers will exceed 2.14 billion. 

At the same time, experts calculated that 18% of all purchases in 2020 were performed on the Internet. This year, it’s 19.5% already. Therefore, if you still doubt whether to buy a product or service on the Internet, all the answers are already in front of you.

Online Stores Noted That CTR Has Decreased

The reason is higher competition. So, it makes us think about additional motivation for regular customers and the application of new marketing approaches:

  • Adapt the site for correct display on mobile devices. The data provided by Global Stats Statcounter suggest that since the beginning of 2020, the number of mobile users and purchases made via mobile devices accounted for more than half of total sales.
  • Give more product images. Sites offering an overview of their products in a 360-degree projection raised their sales by 250% per year. A little less managed to achieve those who used video reviews.
  • Use pop-ups. Don’t be too obsessive with it but remember that pop-ups on some pages increase the conversion by 4.76%.
  • Turn on cookies and remind users about the abandoned cart. 21% of users return to complete the purchase on the site after receiving a letter with a reminder.

And, most importantly, give people the opportunity to pay for the purchase conveniently. Payments from e-wallets have become the main payment method in 2020.

A variety of payment methods allows you to reduce the percentage of failures. Use the Exactly® payment system to receive local and international payments, and you will discover the new positive online shopping experience for your visitors.

The Rise, Fall and Rise of Quantitative Investing

Quantitative investing has felt unstoppable in recent years, but the pandemic caused a reality check. What does the future hold?

The rise of big data and digital technology have changed the financial world in all sorts of ways. One of those is in the way in which investors make their decision. Traditional qualitative approaches based on gaining as much information as possible about a company – as well as a touch of gut feel – are giving way to quantitative investing, in which computers crunch the numbers to reveal hidden investment trends.

History of quantitative investing

The concept is not entirely new. It was first muted back in the 50s by Nobel Prize-winning economist Harry Markowitz when he published ‘Portfolio Selection’ in the Journal of Finance in March 1952. He introduced modern portfolio theory which showed investors how to build diversified portfolios based on various risk factors.

Robert Merton took this a step further with his work on using mathematical models to price derivatives – for which he won a Nobel Prize.

What’s changed is the rise of IT in finance and the development of sophisticated computer programs capable of crunching vast quantities of data.

As finance has gone digital, firms have been generating vastly more data than they could ever hope to process manually. By applying AI, they can reveal these hidden insights.

Using algorithms, these systems, can trade automatically basing their decisions on the numbers and their pre-defined rules, rather than traditional investment analysis.

Quantitative versus qualitative

Traditional investors such as Warren Buffet would visit companies, pour over their balance sheets and get to know it inside out before using their own investment experience to determine whether they think this will be a good bet. Much of this draws on his experience and intuitive instinct about which investments he feels offer real value.

Quant investors, as they are known, will often care nothing about this. They are looking at data such as historic market performance, trading activity and other metrics which they believe provide a clearer view of the real asset value and where the market might be heading in the future. Ewan Kirk, the founder of Cantab Capital Partners, credited the success of the company’s quant fund to its “scientific rigour”, and said that the firm itself resembles a research organisation more than a traditional trader.

Their approach can also be termed value investing, crunching numbers which they have determined hold the key to outperforming the stock market. These might include the strength of the balance sheet and the price of stocks. The idea is to identify stocks which are under-priced, have good momentum and plenty of room for growth.

Today around one out of every three dollars is managed by robotic traders. By the end of 2019, quant trading had gained the highest share of trading on institutional stock exchanges.

The value is easy to see. For starters, running costs are much lower. There’s no need to pay for the considerable human resources involved in employing experts to analyse each investment. Now you can just plug in the algorithms and watch everything progress automatically.

Proponents will also say it’s more effective. By basing decisions on the numbers, it removes the concept of human bias. Its vast data handling capacity will also allow it to spot trends buried in the data which humans might miss. For example, deep analytics of trading data could spot the development of a trend before it became apparent to other investors. These algorithms would therefore make it easier than ever to get in on the ground floor of positive movements in the market.

A bump in the road

However, it is not quite as simple and uniform as all that. Although AI takes on much of the strain, it still has to be programmed by human data scientists. They will determine what data the programs will take notice of and how it will make an investment decision.

Although the operations of the software are automated, the fundamental principles of the data on which their decisions will be made remains very much human in origins. The designers of these systems will have decided what data influences trades and how systems should interpret the information coming into them.

The idea that quant trading does away with bias, therefore, is somewhat flawed. Even the most sophisticated systems draw on the biases and assumptions plugged into them at the start by their human creators.

Recent times have also shown the limits of quant trading with the ‘value crisis’ of 2020 causing quant funds to struggle. Human led funds massively outperformed quant funds in COVID year as human experience and nous trumped data analytics.

The biggest hedge fund underperformers were overwhelmingly more likely to be Quant funds, as the data underpinning their performance simply no longer worked.

This crisis has been put down to the underperformance of the value factor which is one of the key pillars of quant decision making. In a volatile market, experienced human stock pickers found they were well placed to capitalise. They were able to spot opportunities in which stocks in technology surged while others dropped.

Quant trading, therefore, has much to learn – its inexorable rise seemingly experienced a hiccup during 2020. However, learning it most definitely is. Artificial intelligence and data management software are evolving rapidly. Systems are capable of handling more numbers and generating more insight. AI is becoming more intelligent, capable of understanding data sets and learning as it goes.

Into the future

The more this technology develops the more sophisticated it is becoming. AI is gaining the ability to develop its own factors on which to base its own decision making. It is becoming more human in its operation capable of making decisions on the fly rather than based on rigid parameters set down by its creators.

The situation is fluid. The low operational cost of quant funds will always make them appealing. However, the experience of the past year demonstrates that there are many different factors which determine the value of assets. Quantitative and qualitative investment techniques both have insights which can be valuable.

The computers, therefore, are not as all-knowing as some of their proponents expected. Humans will continue to be key and different quant funds will perform differently depending on their initial programming. Understanding the future direction of stock markets is challenging – with all sorts of different factors at play. However, as the technology improves, quant investing is becoming a much more sophisticated, complex and reactive beast. It may have suffered a little thanks to the pandemic, but it’s hardly alone in that. The future will still be heavily influenced by the quants.