What Are Fintech Developments in 2018?

Ajay NagpalFonta Guilliam developed a fintech company called Sou Sou to extend women and minorities lending opportunities outside of traditional banking, as explained by Samantha Harrington in a Forbes Magazine article. Sou Sou, named after the lending circle tradition practiced in Ghana, provides a platform where entrepreneurs can create their digital lending circles.

Lending circles provide loans to members, who all contribute a small sum each month. Each month, one member receives all the contributions, representing a loan, which they must repay by adding to the circle. The member’s contributions represent their loan payments. This practice mimics the banking system but saves members interest costs.

Technology continues to open financing opportunities, and 2018 is expected to usher in many more fintech developments, as explained by Sunhil Madhu in Forbes Magazine, Madhu predicts disruption for the biometrics industry, though many tech analysts see biometrics making gains. Madhu points to Apple’s decision to share facial recognition mapping data with app developers. Being able to source this data from Apple and possibly other device makers cut out biometrics companies. Before Apple’s decision to share the face mapping technology, developers relied on biometrics companies to provide it. That reliance may soon be a thing of the past.

Madhu also sees 2018 ushering in many AI-related changes. Online fraud detection may soon make tremendous gains through AI’s ability to adapt to online fraudster’s ever-changing tactics. Currently, fraud prevention systems rely on a human entered a system of rules. Hackers identify these rules and then get around them. AI promises to replace this increasingly inefficient defense system with machine learning that can react to hackers at a speed no human can match.

Fintech also promises to plug the hole in online user identification. For the past decade, users have been checking out as guests on e-commerce sites, using data readily obtainable by fraudsters. Biometric capabilities can now provide a solution. By requiring the authorized user to input their fingerprint into their device, ecommerce providers can finally offer 100-percent identity assurance.

Regtech involves using technology to comply with financial regulations. Biometrics and AI have the power to revolutionize reg tech. For example, AI’s data processing ability offers the potential to automate the data processing portion of money laundering investigations. AI can complete these data mining and organizing tasks at speeds previously beyond human imagination. This frees investigators to focus on more nuanced legal and investigative portions of the investigation process.

Blockchain technology has promise beyond cryptocurrencies. For example, technologists are exploring its potential for online identity verification. Many new blockchain technology applications may come onto the horizon.

Few deny that fintech’s impact on the economy of the future will be substantial. Increased ability to create financially beneficial connections promises opportunities. Increased security effectiveness may take a serious bite out of online crime.

5 Critical Books for Finance Professionals

5 Critical Books For Finance Professionals _ Ajay NagpalWhether it’s a movie like Wolf of Wall Street or a real-life drama like the 2008 financial crisis – finance has always been a backdrop for drama. This leaves writers who focus on finance with a long list of topics to choose from. Here are five books that every finance professional should be familiar with:

1) The Intelligent Investor

Ever wonder how Warren Buffett learned everything he knows about investing? Well, this is the book he recommends.

In this book, Benjamin Graham provides readers with a map to investing success by using a long-term, value-investment approach. Published in 1949, it’s been updated and remains relevant today.

 

2) Common Sense on Mutual Funds

This is a book written about 20 years ago by John Bogle. The book focuses on mutual fund investing.

Who’s John Bogle? The creator of the Vanguard Group, one of the most respected mutual fund investment firms in the world. There’s no better person to learn about mutual funds from.

 

3) A Random Walk Down Wall Street

This is a great book to gain insight into all possible investment strategies.

The author, Burton Malkiel, takes readers through all market fundamentals – from stock investments to mutual funds. It remains a great resource for someone new to finance, and for the experienced professional.

 

4) Liar’s Poker

By now, everyone’s familiar with the Wolf of Wall Street. Well, that wasn’t a one of story.

In this book, Michael Lewis recalls his experience at Salomon Brothers on Wall Street in the late 1980’s. Readers won’t just get insight into basic investment fundamentals, but the wild side of Wall Street, too.

 

5) The Alchemy of Finance

The author, George Soros, is known to have a great eye for market trends. He’s considered one of the best of all time at hedge fund managers. This book teaches readers how to use his unique approach, and highlights reacting to the market and its trends.

The financial world provides writers with an endless amount of topics to choose from. Whether it’s basic value-investing strategy as taught by Benjamin Graham, or the inside scoop of what Wall Street was like according to Michael Lewis, the information is out there for any reader who wants to expand their knowledge.

 

 

 

4 Resources For Financial Educators

financial educationLikely, there are dozens upon dozens of organization and tools designed to help young people access essential knowledge about finances and securing budgetary success.

The problem, however, is identifying these resources, and knowing how you might put them to work.

Read on to find the names of four organizations/tools you can use to equip better young people who someday hope to be financially savvy:

National Endowment For Financial Education: The NEFE is a private nonprofit dedicated to empowering young people and families, helping to secure a legacy of financial success that will carry them into their futures. They do this by conducting research and commissioning consumer surveys. They utilize unique and practical training tools, putting them to use in the workplace and the classwork. Also, the provide adult and youth financial education tools and resources, fostering a better understanding of saving and spending.

MoneyTeach: MoneyTeach is an invaluable tool and curricula resource connection, matching financial educators with the valuable, instructional resources that they need. Visitors to the site can find quality instructional resources; suggested workshops and course guides; and they can engage with the educator community, collaborating with colleagues. The account is free, borrows lesson planning tips and activities from leading peers who ongoingly teach financial planning and financial smarts.

Smart About Money: Smart About Money is an online course that users can complete at their own pace. Educators can hone their skills by creating courses that focus on money basics, family planning, economic emergencies, transportation, spending, saving, investing, retirement, taxes, borrowing, and other topics. SAM is a customizable and free tool, providing timely tips and money management ideas.

Jump$tart Clearinghouse: Jump$tart is a leading financial education resource center, created with the purpose of helping students. They list featured information relating to financial literacy and provide practical money skills for life.

If you know the names of some other websites tasked with helping young people secure financial freedom, please share!

Things We Wish We Knew About Spending, Saving, and Fund Management in Our 20s

Ajay NagpalFor many young men and women in their 20s, saving a large sum of money feels like an impossibility. Likewise, the idea of planning ahead may also feel like a considerable challenge. However, we all know that financial literacy and financial stability must be sought early and intentionally.

Individuals with financial competence can experience the freedoms and joys of comfort, meaning they can have disposable income and make choices that won’t leave them in peril. It’s important to not only be careful about the way you spend but the way you save. After all, there are many misconceptions about spending, savings, and managing funds.

For anyone who made it out of their 20s, there are likely a dozen things they wish they’d learned a bit sooner, which could have set them up for great success in the future.

  1. Utilizing The Credit Card The Right Way | Unfortunately, younger people tend to use their credit cards for apparel and entertainment purposes, while older people tend to use their credit cards to cover the cost of significant repairs and travel. Using your credit card responsibly is a great way to build our credit score and demonstrate financial responsibility.  
  2. Reporting Rent To The Credit Bureaus | Less than 1 percent of credit files contain rental information, according to NerdWallet. Communicating rental information will boost individual credit scores.
  3. Monitor Your Credit| CreditKarma, CreditSesame, and CreditRepair are just three of several resources used by the public to help them achieve financial freedom. These websites offer tips and free monitoring.
  4. Investing With Very Little| For a long time, it seemed that only wealthy people could invest in stocks and mutual funds. Acorns, Stockpile,  and Stash are three available apps, enabling success at income level. According to Bankrate, just one in three millennials, but that could increase that to the development of more investment tools.
  5. Be Careful About Inquiries | Be careful when applying for credit cards. If you aren’t mindful, you can quickly ruin your credit.  
  6. Store Away Money | Seventy-two percent of Millennials have less than $1,000 saved away, according to GoBankingRates. It’s important to get into the habit of setting apart money with each paycheck.

There a few other things you may consider doing, including being mindful of predatory lending; spending less money when socializing, and watching your debt as it accrues.

If you have any other thoughts about unloading debt and better managing your finances, please share.

7 TED Talks That Will Instantly Improve Your Financial Literacy

7 Ted Talks That Will Instantly Improve Your Financial Literacy | Ajay NagpalWith information now readily available, many readers seek to improve their financial literacy. Below are seven TED talks that can help you go from being lost in the financial world, to crafting a personal finance plan.

1) How I Learned to Read – and Buy Stocks – in Prison

Curtis Carroll delivered this presentation from prison in 2016. The theme of his talk is that financial literacy is a lifestyle more so than a skill. He discusses various strategies focusing on personal finance. Curtis Carroll’s talk is a motivating introduction because if he can do it from prison, surely anyone has hope.

2) Why You Should Know How Much Your Co-Workers Get Paid

This TED Talk was given by David Burkus, who works in the management research industry. In this presentation, he claims that it is best for people in a company to exchange salary details with one another. His research proves that employee happiness increases and company discrimination decrease as a result of this.

3) Saving For Tomorrow, Tomorrow

This talk is given by Shlomo Benartzi, a respected economist. He goes over the importance of saving, and how many Americans continuously put it off. He presents dramatic statistics about the popularity of 401(k) accounts and American saving amounts.

4) The Battle Between Your Present and Future Self

In this TED Talk from Daniel Goldstein, another economist, he opts to use the distinction between our present and future selves as motivation to begin saving. He provides strategies for how we can prevent ourselves from harming our future selves by saving today.

5) Post-Crash, Investing in a Better World

This talk from social commentator Geoff Mulgan is simply focused on how to effectively invest after the most recent economic crash.

6) How to Buy Happiness

Michael Norton is a social science researcher who presents on how donating our money to charitable causes can result in more happiness.

7) The Future of Money

In this TED Talk, Neha Narula, who works at Digital Currency Initiative, presents on the power of using a digital currency system.

The information is surely out there and starting with these seven TED Talks, you can improve your financial literacy in no time.

Youth & Financial Education in 2018: Tips For Integrating Financial Literacy Into The Lives of Students

Youth & Financial Education in 2018_ Tips For Integrating Financial Literacy Into The Lives of Students | Ajay NagpalFinancial literacy is a vital area for students to concentrate on. Many students struggle with planning their finances for the future. However, many teachers feel like they do not have the tools to teach their students appropriately in this area.

One of the most significant issues with the modern school system is that teachers spend too much time worrying about standardized test scores. Instead, the teachers could spend time teaching children essential aspects of financial planning for the future.

Debt

Debt is a notable issue in our society today. Many people feel that high levels of debt trapped them. As a result, it is difficult for young people to purchase a new home or invest in a business. With the cost of college increasing rapidly, the average student leaves college with a high level of student loan debt. This is a subject that could easily be taught in school. In fact, there are several financial courses dedicated to this particular subject.

Budgeting

Another essential aspect of having financial success is budgeting. Many individuals struggle to budget appropriately. Budgeting is essentially just staying organized and disciplined with financial planning.

There are a ton of online programs to use to help with the budgeting process. There are some people who have trouble budgeting in the beginning. It usually takes several months to truly have success in this area.

Investing

Investing is the best way to build wealth over an extended period. Numerous people do not understand how to invest for the future. Investing is not complicated, but it can seem complicated for people who are never exposed to it. Teaching some investing basics to students is a great way to improve their financial literacy. Over a long period, this can make a huge difference in the lives of students.

Take Time to Teach

Schools need to focus on teaching critical principles to students. Financial literacy is one of the best ways to help students in the future. Many students are graduating from school without any exposure to financial literacy. Financial literacy courses will make the lives of students more comfortable in the future. Personal finance is not a complicated subject, but it can be difficult for students to understand without proper teaching.

 

Spectacular Financial Literacy Courses Available for FREE

Spectacular-Financial-Literacy-Courses-Available-for-FREE-compressorEducation centered around financial literacy and personal finance is just be a few keystrokes away.

Did you know that you could take FREE online classes, which could offer you a beginner’s and intermediate understanding of finances, whether that’s wealth management, financial, accounting, mutual funds, compound interest, debt, or savings, or wealth management? It seems that the options are endless.

There are countless resources on the web, offering users the valuable information they seek. While searching the vast internet, you sometimes happen upon a course that empowers you through the info shared during the program.  While many of these resources aren’t necessarily on par with fully developed college courses, some classes are very adept at providing keen insight on how to use financial literacy as an effort to foster a lifetime of economic well-being.

There can be a fee for graded work. However, all materials are available at no cost. For full financial literacy, it’s essential to examine behavior economics, competency about daily spending, and an understanding of stock movement. The variety of courses featured online can provide a clear, functional career path that can construct a healthier and more stable financial reality for many.

So you might be asking, ‘Where do you go to find these incredible, free classes, which could change my financial trajectory?” MOOCs.

If you venture over to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or  Coursera, you’d quickly learn that there are multiple courses that speak to a need for addressing finances. For instance, “Personal & Family Financial Planning,” “Organizational Behavior: How To Manage People,” “English for Media Literacy,” and “Finance for Non-Financial Professions” demonstrate the variety. The courses placed on MOOC are aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web, which means that it’s designed to be utilized by anyone.

Read on to review a quick overview of some of the most acclaimed courses featured on the MOOCs’ website:


Behavioral Finance—Duke University

coursera.org/learn/duke-behavioral-finance

Understanding how decision-making errors impact your financial choices.

Review: “Generally it’s a fantastic online course, which gives me so much insight into an area I have previously unaware of. Behavioral Finance is meaningful because it takes human behavior factors into account of finance models, especially psychology factor. It offers me new insight into a study of interdisciplinary subjects. Class outlines and videos are well-organized and challenging. However, I think the test questions are sometimes a little bit difficult, and test2 and test3 should have answers and analysis like test1. It will always be better to review the knowledge you learned after making some mistakes and being eager to know the causes. I love the course!”


Financial Accounting: Foundations—University of Illinois, Champaign

coursera.org/learn/financial-accounting-basics

Discover accounting basics, which effectively teaches you to manage your finances as you would a business.

“The Course is very practical. I really appreciate the practice quizzes since they allow me time to have a greater understanding of each lectured session. A very good course that I would recommend to anyone who desires to improve or refresh their knowledge of the principles that were explained in all the modules.”


The Art of Negotiation—University of California, Irvine

coursera.org/learn/art-of-negotiation

Learn important negotiation strategy, which could lead to more significant earning and greater wealth.

Review: “Very informative and useful course.“


Financial Literacy—Macquarie University

open2study.com/courses/financial-literacy

Gain a fundamental understanding of the basics: managing debt, savings, avoiding investment scams, and more.

Review: “This class is great for a very basic introduction to Financial Literacy. It gives you the framework from which to build a financial plan for your life including learning how to save, how to create a budget, and how to invest. It is not a very in-depth course, which is the only downfall to it, and it only takes probably an hour an a half for each week of work. But Professor Mordaunt is concise and at times entertaining.”


Securing Investment Returns in the Long Run—University of Geneva

coursera.org/learn/investment-returns-long-run

Identifying the difference between active and passive investing, and provide insights on ROI.

Review: “This course deals mainly with the topic of evaluating the performance of investments and uses the outcomes to discuss the benefits of active and passive funds. Measures are introduced to evaluate the risk-adjusted returns of investments. In addition, evaluation tools for the performance of active managers are presented. The videos are of great quality. The quizzes could be more challenging.”

If you’re interested in learning more? Please visit Coursera and Open2Study.com.

Second Careers: 5 Meaningful Financial Facts To Consider When Making A Career Move Over 40

SECOND CAREERS- 5 MEANINGFUL FINANCIAL FACTS TO CONSIDER WHEN MAKING A CAREER MOVE OVER 40 - Ajay NagpalDown-sizing is an unfortunate reality in the modern business world, even when you are over 40 years old. How can you regain traction in your financial life?

Here are five significant financial facts to consider when starting a second career after 40 years old.

Starting Second Career

You are no longer a “spring chicken” and starting over can be a challenge. If you adhere to these career tips, you can optimize your chances for success. You need to be realistic, but also energetic. Follow these five significant facts to get your second career, off the ground.

1. Accrued Benefits

While you work, you accrue benefits that could include stock options, a 401(k) plan or pension. You have many options for your 401(k) plan, including cashing it out or rolling it over. Remember, that these include both yours and your employer’s contributions.

If you cash out, you must pay 20% federal withholding taxes plus a 10% early withdrawal fee. The 401(k) rollover allows you to re-balance the investments in the portfolio. This makes sense because your life has changed – you want your assets to reflect your new life.

2. Rethink Mortgage

You set up your housing finance based on your employment expectations. When you are let go, you might want to change your housing loans, consider refinancing or even getting a HELOC.

3. Keeping Skills Relevant

You might have started your job, a decade ago. It pays to update your skills. Use downtime efficiently.

4. Prime Working Years

After graduating from college, you might only qualify for certain entry-level positions. If you figure that your prime working years are from 22 to 65, you are in your mid-life when fired at 40. But, you do have valuable experience that allows you to qualify for certain higher level positions.

5. Experience Pays

Do you know how many college graduates would love to have your experience? Now you can be eligible for a couple of these high-paying jobs: Financial Analyst, Fundraiser or Social Media Manager. You have paid your dues, now cash in with a higher paycheck.

Losing your job over 40 can be a shock, but take advantage of the situation to find a better job. You are mature and experienced. Find a second career that pays you top dollar for your valuable, accumulated experience.

Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: Financial Advice Across Generations

Millennials vs. Baby Boomers Header

Millennials are impulsive and want instant gratification instead of long-term financial gains.

Baby Boomers are behind the times and don’t realize how the financial landscape has changed.

Sometimes it seems like the generational conflict over finances never ends; lectures start with Grandpa at the family dinner table and end with his twenty-something grandson’s angry rebuttals over dessert. Neither party is flexible in their assertion that their financial philosophy is the correct one, and someone else inevitably has to change the subject when a heated intergenerational conversation turns to awkward silence.

The main issue with these conversations is that both parties are advancing incomplete positions. In all likelihood, the grandson’s approach to finances works – for his situation. The same is likely true for the grandfather. The intergenerational argument is an unwinnable one because financial strategies are dependent on a person’s stage of life and their individual financial situation.

Moreover, the current economic landscape must be taken into account when devising tactics for all generations, as strategies that may have served even twenty years prior might now fall flat. The buying power of the dollar has tanked in the last few decades; Business Insider reports that inflation has boosted prices by 784% over the past sixty years. Understandably, this makes it more difficult for younger consumers to buy homes, cars, or even get married.

Financial priorities change according to the economic landscape – and usually, that means shifts occur on a generational basis.

The following outlines a few financial approaches for each generational category.

 

Generations Y & Z (Millennials)

Teens to late twenties:

Millennials are only just beginning to learn how to manage their finances; they may be working their first jobs or finishing school. More often than not, they have a significant number of loans; in fact, the average debt burden for students graduating in 2016 was $37,172!  As such, Millennials may need to put more of the money they do earn towards paying off debt and day-to-day expenses.

However, members of this generational bracket should also focus on making and sticking to a reasonable budget. They would benefit from setting up a savings account and depositing a set amount of money into it each month. Building credit history is vital during the teens and twenties, so Millennials would further benefit from making monthly payments and establishing a good credit score.

 

Generation X

Thirties to forties

Members of Generation X typically have jobs, and often young families as well. Their priorities differ from Millennials because, as a contributor to TheWealthAdvisor notes: “Boomers and Gen X are further advanced in their careers and lives, they tend to have fewer concerns about day-to-day living.”

However, these individuals typically have greater investment obligations such as mortgages, college funds for their children, and their own retirement funds. As such, they should allocate their funds reasonably. Saving for a child’s college is wonderful – but not if it leaves the parent without a means to support themselves in retirement! Members of Generation X should be careful to observe their own financial needs by putting money away for retirement and medical and personal emergencies.

 

Baby Boomers

Fifties to sixties

Baby Boomers tend to save a little more than millennials, but often have more significant financial obligations, such as providing for elderly relatives or helping grown children. Additionally, this group needs to start planning for retirement in earnest by saving and settling on the kind of lifestyle they intend to pursue in their later years. Baby Boomers should also consider enlisting a financial advisor to help balance conflicting financial needs and plans. This strategic work shouldn’t be put off!

There’s no doubt that the generations have varying priorities and require different strategies as a result – so the next time that awkward generation argument picks up, put a stop to it!


Ajay Nagpal, the Chief Operating Officer at investment management firm Millennium. Ajay Nagpal supports social entrepreneurship through his work as a Board member of Echoing Green. Please visit his social entrepreneurship blog to learn more about that! Also, find him on Behance!

Financial Mistakes That Even Experts Make

Financial Mistakes That Even Experts Make

For those just starting out on their own, money can be intimidating. In those first few years, mistakes are just as inevitable as the financial losses that follow a misstep – and as painful as those errors are, they serve as signposts on the road to financial stability.

Even experts who have built their careers around finance have made a few bad calls in their earlier years – and learned from their mistakes.

Here are a few of the errors that they made, along with a few tips for avoiding similar mishaps!  

Trusting Personal Relationships Over Logic

Financially successful individuals don’t cross friendship and business. While agreeing to invest in a close friend’s or even a family member’s business proposal can seem like a fun idea or even just a polite response to being asked, you should decline. More often than not, interpersonal feelings bias you against an objective view of the asker’s business plan, and leaves you poorer in time, money, and friends.

Expert Case Study: When Jacki Zehner, current CEO of Women Moving Millions invested time and energy in getting a friend’s recording studio off the ground, she lost her investment, her friendship, and most significantly – her time.

 

Failing to Review the Fine Print

Contracts can be slippery, and end up costing you far more money in technicalities and rollover costs than you ever expected to pay when you signed. It can be easy to be lulled into complacency after months of regular payments – and costly! Read the fine print, and don’t forget to shop around for better bargains if you feel that you’re paying too much for the service you receive.

Relatedly, make sure to go over your credit card bills and account statements at least once a month to check for fraud. While reconciling bills and accounts can be a pain during busy months, a quick check will catch any unauthorized transactions and potentially save you thousands of dollars.

Expert Case Study:  Justin Modray, founder of Candid Financial Advice, got caught up in a stressful move to a new house and didn’t notice that he’d been swindled out of three thousand pounds until he checked his statement a few months later. He reached out to his bank and managed to get the stolen funds back – but he made sure to regularly reconcile his accounts after the scare!

 

Overspending

Purchases add up. Even a couple of nice dinners and a great deal at that store you love can launch you significantly over budget. Crunch the numbers! Work out how much you need to set aside for bills, savings, and living costs every month, and then decide how much you can afford to spend on fun.

Expert Case Study: Financial author Kate Northrup blew through far more money than she should have when she was in her twenties. She explains her rationale: “I had this idea that I needed to look a certain way and that I needed to look like I had it more together than I did. That, to me, meant spending more money than I actually had because I wanted to look more successful than I actually was.”

As Northrup suggests, real success comes more slowly, and requires patience and financial foresight. Looking well-off only goes so far when you don’t have money left at the end of the month.

Greedy Investments

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Stay away from investments that promise quick returns in short periods of time. Not only do such ventures normally crash, but sometimes they can have shady roots! You stand to lose all that you contribute – if not more – by buying into a greedy scheme. Instead, look into more stable, long-term investments.

Expert Case Study: Alex Davies, co-owner of WealthClub, made the mistake of investing almost £20,000 in a minerals company that went under within a year! The nearly double return he received initially slipped through his hands when the questionable firm fell apart. Don’t invest in deals that promise quick returns – they rarely last!

 

While it’s tempting to follow an impulse or make a decision based on emotion, biased or split-second choices will inevitably lead you into financial trouble. It’s vital to keep a level head and learn from your mistakes, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or financial expert!


Ajay Nagpal, the Chief Operating Officer at investment management firm Millennium. Ajay Nagpal supports social entrepreneurship through his work as a Board member of Echoing Green. Please visit his social entrepreneurship blog to learn more about that! Also, find him on Behance!