All posts by Arthur Arnold

How the Cayman Islands rose into becoming an important offshore financial center

Image source: caribbean360.com
Image source: caribbean360.com

The road to how the Cayman Islands dominated the offshore financial industry is not an easy one, but it has been bound for success nonetheless. In 1960, this tax-efficient Caribbean archipelago just relied on a simple barter economy before it thrived into becoming one of the most flourishing and determined offshore financial centers in the world.

Thanks to its local leaders, a supportive government, and the guidance of many offshore investment professionals, the islands made it possible to structure policies that enabled it to compete in the global financial markets. Today, the Cayman Islands is a prime destination for primary financial services such as captive insurance companies, hedge funds, international banking, and many more.

There are several reasons why the Cayman Islands is and will remain as an important offshore financial center in the world. Here are the items that top the list:

  • Most of the hundreds of banks in the islands are branches as well as subsidiaries of world-renowned banking institutions, topping over 80 percent of more than US$1 trillion of deposits.
  • Recent data reveals that over half of the world’s entire hedge funds are legally domiciled in this Caribbean tax haven that offers tailored regulations and of course, zero taxation. Most of their clients come from financial centers in the West like New York and London.
  • Most economic revenues is derived from the region’s financial services, making it strong and abundant, largely benefiting local employment.
  • The Islands offer impressive infrastructure that has attracted financial clients from every part of the globe. These include telecommunication and transportation facilities, as well as effective courier and delivery services.

REPOST: Why Mutual Funds Believe Millennials Will Bring Back Their Glory

Generation Y, also known as millennials, are waking up to the importance of investing in high-quality securities such as stocks and bonds. But with many of them having only a limited knowledge of the trade, opening an account with mutual funds should be a smart move. More insights from Entrepreneur.com:

20161025220124-shutterstock-439017856

Come end of the month, millennials have only one worry on their minds – the dipping numbers of their bank accounts. While more and more millennials are joining the workforce earlier than usual, their spending capabilities are also increasing resulting in the lack of savings. Be it New Year resolutions to drunken promises, most of them are about one thing – we’ll start saving from next month. But come next month and the same cycle repeats.

A way out of this misery is through investments. Millennials are waking up to the importance of investments where they put aside money for investments, hoping that they get higher returns.

Realising this potential, Mutual Funds Houses are turning to youngsters and planning campaigns around them to welcome this growing audience into their client base.

We spoke to experts from the mutual funds industry about what makes millennials an attractive customer base and the advantages of the same.

No Biases

For many generations, gold and real estate have been the top investments. If you have money, then you have to buy a house or invest in gold and lock it away in the bank. But with gold and real estate not giving much high returns or fixed deposit rates too being low, Srikanth Meenakshi, co-founder and COO of FundsIndia believes mutual funds is the new gold for millennials. But the good part is youngsters these days are not biased. “Unlike the previous generation, they are open to non-traditional methods of investing. The key factor is that they are looking at market-driven products and aren’t just investing based on biases,” he said.

Millennials in India typically have steady income, access to a smartphone and love transacting online, said Harsh Jain, Co-founder & COO, Groww. With all the regulation changes in financial space in India, they are easiest target for mutual funds. Jain added that the two key reasons why millennials are finding mutual funds the most attractive investment option are Fear and Greed. “Millennials are realizing that they need to plan for their retirement. Besides Mutual funds, no other asset class (Gold, Real Estate etc.) is attractive enough for planning their future. And equity/Mutual funds have given tremendous growth in the past few years,” he said.

The Data-Driven Audience

In a recent interview with Entrepreneur India, Ashutosh Bishnoi, MD & CEO of Mahindra Assett Management Ltd., said that millennials these days are all about the research done on the Web. This makes it easier to reach out to them with facts and figures through online modes.

Agreeing with him, Srikanth believes that the defining attribute of millennials is that they are data influenced. “They are open to newer modes of investments which are backed by data. The new generation is flexible about analyzing their options by researching about the investments and then opting for one,” he said.

Appetite for Risk

Another factor that drives youngsters towards mutual funds is that they are open to risks. The recent outbreak of cryptocurrencies in India is a live example of what millennials in India are excited about. “Mutual funds, traditionally considered as passive investment products, have seen high volatility. More and more small cap, mid cap, sector funds are being launched which cater to this exact sentiment. Many of these funds have given 65% plus returns in last 1 year,” said Jain, who believes that it is this greed for returns that will attract more and more youngsters. According to him, there are around 15 million MF investors in India and the next 100 million investors are going to come from this customer segment.

Continue reading HERE.

IMF vs. World Bank: Major roles and key differences

Image source: afdb.org
Image source: afdb.org

 

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund are terms that are quite familiar to most people from what they hear or read on the news. However, only a few can easily distinguish their key differences in terms of their specific roles and functions in the global economy.

If you who don’t use these terms on a daily basis, you might have a vague idea of what these organizations actually do and why they matter – but did you know that both the IMF and the World Bank were established in 1945 as a part of the Bretton Woods Agreement?

Here are some of the key differences and primary roles of the two institutions that you should know about.

 

World Bank

Image source: thecable.ng
Image source: thecable.ng
  • Its primary goal is to reduce, if not to eliminate poverty, in developing countries by delivering both financial and technical support to these poorer regions in the world.
  • It helps these nations restructure their often problematic and unproductive economic sectors.
  • It helps the target countries recover from poverty by funding schools, health centers as well as providing infrastructure to source basic necessities like water and electricity.
  • Through issuing of bonds, its funds come from countries that are members of the institutions.
  • Its funds are not meant to help a country recover from an economic crisis; instead, the organization was created to finance projects and help emerging markets take the first step to economic productivity.

 

International Monetary Fund

Image source: kurzweilai.net
Image source: kurzweilai.net

 

  • The organization’s main goal is to promote monetary cooperation across the globe.
  • It provides assistance and timely advice to countries with struggling economy, especially those that don’t have the financial power to fund their international obligations.
  • The IMF is popularly known to provide loans, usually loaded with several conditions and high interest rates, to help countries rise and recover from an economic failure.


Top investment options for your teen kids

Image source: bestfinance-blog.com
Image source: bestfinance-blog.com

 

While parents are always willing to go an extra mile just to provide their children a bright and secure future, most of them fail to teach their young some of the most valuable lessons in managing and handling their finances. Experts agree that one of the best things that you can do for your teenager is to start them young – especially when it comes to saving and investing. However, according to a recent study, parents are reluctant to make the first step.

If you’re a parent, it’s not yet too late to do the right thing. Consider these top investment tips for your teen kids:

  1. Let them have their own savings and checking accounts.

This is an ideal option for teenagers who have part-time jobs and who regularly earn an income. Although most banks don’t offer high interest rates, the entire point of taking this step is not really about earning interest but teaching your kid the most basic financial skills that they need to be able aim higher.

  1. Encourage them to start a Roth IRA.

Investing in a Roth IRA is a practical option for teenagers for its low marginal tax rate, considering how much they earn from their part-time jobs. In addition, investing with an after-tax income is the most perfect vehicle for beginner investors since it only requires as low as $25 to get started. This may be a basic first step in investing but it will open a lot of doors in their financial future.

  1. Help them take the next step: Mutual Funds.

Basically, a Roth IRA is not entirely an investment in itself but an account that helps in holding investments. Once your teens have saved enough, they can always choose more specific investments choices like mutual funds (including those offered by premier financial services firm LOM Financial). Aside from its advantage of being a low-cost option, some funds offer a combination of bonds and stocks and both are perfect for long-term investments.

REPOST: Why COOs Should Think Like Behavioral Economists

The article below by Harvard Business Review explains why a successful COO might need to think about the environment in which his employees make choices. It could be the key to a happier and more productive workplace. Read more:

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When Yelp was a startup with just 15 employees, the office manager began to stock the kitchen with drinks and snacks to get everyone through the long afternoons. Juice, water, fruit, chips, and as much candy as could be stuffed into the small kitchen drawer. Being at work was like being, well, a kid in a candy shop: a bottomless supply of Snickers, Twix, 3 Musketeers, M&M’s, Almond Joys — the list goes on.

And at first, everyone loved it. If a 3 PM hunger pang struck, it was a delight to find a Snickers to nosh on, without even having to leave the building. But within two weeks, one of us (Geoff, who was COO at the time) realized he was averaging a Snickers bar per day. This was a bit odd for two reasons. First, he had barely eaten candy bars in the years before that. Second, he didn’t really want to eat candy bars; he just did it as part of his newfound afternoon routine. A quick poll among coworkers revealed that the whole company had experienced a sharp uptick in candy bar consumption. Simply by existing, the candy drawer had created a cadre of candy eaters.

In a world of rational economic decision making, more — and more choice — is always better. If you don’t want a candy bar, skip it. If you choose to eat it, that’s because doing so is better than ignoring it. This is what economists refer to as revealed preference; in this Panglossian view, whatever choice you make must be the best one, given the information and incentives you have. Geoff and the rest of the Yelp team had run into an important limitation of revealed preference. A growing body of research demonstrates the myriad ways in which our choices run counter to our interests. That is, sometimes our decisions reveal systematic mistakes or short-run temptations, rather than our preferences.

Ultimately, the team agreed they should eat fewer candy bars. They tried their hand at resisting temptation, but to no avail. The candy bars continued to vanish at alarming rates. So they made a radical decision: They decided that less choice is better and got rid of the candy bars. And although there were days that people wished they had easy access to a Mars bar, they agreed that this change was for the better.

For Geoff, this was the moment he realized that a successful COO needed to think about the environment in which employees make choices. More broadly, this illustrates a point that all COOs should keep in mind: A successful COO needs to think like a behavioral economist. What does this mean, exactly? First, it means recognizing that employees are, well, people. They exhibit the complexities and biases that we all have. And managers need to understand what kinds of biases occur. Second, this means the COO needs to think not only about compensation packages and incentives but also about creating an environment in which employees are set up to make good decisions.

In other words, rather than telling people about their mistakes and hoping for improvement, changing behavior is partly about changing the environment in which decisions are made. Nudge, a 2008 book by Richard Thaler (winner of the 2017 Nobel prize in economics) and Cass Sunstein refers to this as choice architecture. And it turns out the workplace is full of opportunities for better or worse choice architecture. Just consider the following:

Stock a drawer with candy bars? Expect people to be tempted to eat them, even if they think they shouldn’t.

Display a performance metric on the wall? Expect it to rise, potentially at the expense of other ones.

Create more-diverse hiring committees? Expect that you may see a more diverse workforce.

Default 401(k) contributions to 6%? Six percent may become the norm.

Yelp’s 401(k) plan was initially an opt-in benefit, meaning employees needed to actively sign up for it. When the company changed the enrollment process to opt-out — meaning employees were automatically enrolled but could choose to unenroll — enrollment skyrocketed from less than 20% to more than 80%. Yelp had choice-architected its workforce into higher long-term savings rates. (Research by John Beshears, James Choi, David Laibson, and Brigitte Madrian first demonstrated the power of 401(k) defaults in other settings, which is a powerful finding that extends well beyond the tech industry.)

Seemingly innocuous decisions such as these can define a company’s ethos and employees’ well-being. The reason why is that systematic mistakes are pervasive — even among smart, well-intentioned people. And the way decisions are framed subtly shape the decisions we make.

The idea of the COO as a behavioral economist can run counter to the libertarian streak that we often see in the executives we interact with — especially in the tech industry, which prides itself on having a fierce sense of independence and autonomous decision making. But the idea of neutral decision making is in many ways an illusion. As Thaler and Sunstein discuss in Nudge, just as architects choose where to put an elevator and where to put stairs, a choice architect shapes the way a decision is framed. The COO, and the management team more generally, must choose when to default employees into a 401(k), how to shape the interview process, and whether to stock the kitchen drawer with candy.

So, when you think about the choices you make at work, consider not only the decisions you’d like to improve but also the environment in which the decisions will be made. You may find simple ways to change the environment to improve your decisions and those of others around you.

And if you are a COO, embrace your inner choice architect. Your company will be more productive and happier for it.

How history’s ‘economic miracles’ redefined growth and development

Image source: istitutomarangoni.com
Image source: istitutomarangoni.com

Economy refers to the overall wealth of a particular region, city, or nation. It also describes the accessibility of resources based on the performance of both the production and consumption of the goods and services available. This very definition makes economy one of the most important factors that may contribute to the rise and fall of many countries or territories around the world.

As a major player that has shaped the course of history, the concept of economy has helped us understand how it has encouraged development and progress even among the once low-performing countries in the past.  These ‘economic miracles’ marked the stage of a sudden and unexpected strong economic development, much similar to modern-day economic booms in most developing countries.

India’s economic liberalization, for instance, has resulted into a high economic growth in the country between the 1990s and the 2000s. Its initial goal was to shift the economy’s focus on more service and market-oriented approaches, highlighting the important roles played by the private and foreign investments. Some of the policy changes fueled the reduced rates of import tariffs, inspired market deregulations and most importantly, lowered the taxes that invited outside investments.

Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea have made their mark in the economic history by dramatically transforming their economy through industrial and high-tech developments during the early 1990s. All these four nations focused huge investments on infrastructure and the development of their human intellectual resources, encouraging institutions to produce technology geniuses that have helped sparked a new technological revolution in Asia and beyond.

The policies that these four technological innovators laid out made them the top high-income, industrialized, and developed nations, giving them an unbreakable competitive edge in the world.

REPOST: 5 side hustles you can do from the comfort of your home

The digital era has made it possible for the marketing industry to reach new frontiers. With social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, among others, it is now much easier to promote products or services and build stronger brands. If you’re looking for a potential revenue stream while trying to achieve career-life balance, a home-based business may be the best option for you. Here is an article from Statesman for some interesting business ideas:

It’s not all working in your pajamas, sleeping late and eating cereal at all hours, but part-time work from home can help you earn money while you watch the kids.

Plus, you’ll avoid a commute and earn great experience you can take into the world for a later career.

Here are five of the most popular expert-recommended work at home businesses:

Business plan service
One of Entrepreneur’s “55 ideas for starting a home-based business for less than $5,000,” a business plan service costs less than $1,500 to get off the ground. You’ll complete market research, a business plan narrative and financial statements for clients. Author Cheryl Kimball advises, “Base your fee on whichever deliverable the clients wants most and bill the others as ‘add on services.'” Along with the ability to work from home, this idea has the added advantage of expansion possibilities, so you can start small and grow as you’re able to devote more time and resources.

FILE - This Tuesday, May 3, 2011, file photo, shows a Visa card in a wallet in Richardson, Texas. If you believe your bank account has been compromised, you need to act quickly and diligently to prevent money from being stolen or to recover lost funds. The steps you take once you discover your account is in jeopardy can determine whether you protect your money or lose it. AP Photo/LM Otero, File
FILE – This Tuesday, May 3, 2011, file photo, shows a Visa card in a wallet in Richardson, Texas. If you believe your bank account has been compromised, you need to act quickly and diligently to prevent money from being stolen or to recover lost funds. The steps you take once you discover your account is in jeopardy can determine whether you protect your money or lose it. AP Photo/LM Otero, File

Accountant
Those willing to perform financial services for small businesses can easily choose their level of involvement, from simple bookkeeping to providing analytic tools like income statements and financial reports. If you have the requisite background and certifications, you can offer specialized services like tax accounting. If you’re new to the field, beware employment ads promising big profits, as they’re probably not legitimate accounting jobs.

Small engine repair
Not every part-time home-based job is for white collar workers, according to Entrepreneur. Stay-at-home parents or those looking for a profitable after-hours side hustle might want to consider small engine repair. Of course, you’ll need experience or licensing for this garage-centered business, but most community colleges offer courses on engine repair. You also might be able to start out at someone else’s shop to learn what you need to know. Before you put up fliers or a Craigslist ad, you’ll want to know how to repair different types of lawn mowers, rototillers, chainsaws and generators.

This home in the South Park neighborhood rents on Airbnb starting for about $99 per night. CONTRIBUTED Staff Writer
This home in the South Park neighborhood rents on Airbnb starting for about $99 per night. CONTRIBUTED Staff Writer

Airbnb
If you’re considering ways to make money working part-time from home, spend a few hours evaluating whether your home itself could provide sideline income. Airbnb is simply a website that acts as an online community, connecting travelers and hosts. Members list and rent lodging to other members, from entire houses to a spare bed. Airbnb handles all the transactions for a small fee from both host and renter. You’ll need to consider whether you can attract enough business travelers or tourists to your home, according to the Simple Dollar, which offers tips for creating an alluring listing and for scheduling your opening at the same time as a big local event that will boost demand.
Home call center

As more companies shift to an increasingly remote workforce, there really are opportunities for legitimate work-at-home call center positions, according to the Spruce. Having experience in a office-based call center or even previous retail experience is often enough to land you a job with a home-based call center. Speaking more than one language will also make you an extra-appealing call center candidate. Avoid scams by watching out for job offers that include testing costs, application or training fees or reqests for the job applicant to pay for specialized equipment and software.

Are there legal ways to protect your inheritance from taxes?

Image source: telegraph.co.uk
Image source: telegraph.co.uk

Understanding what an inheritance tax is can help you plan and properly manage your wealth. In definition, this particular ‘death tax’ is slightly different from a state tax since the former are obligations paid by heirs, not by the deceased’s estate.

As of 2016, there are only six states in the U.S. that collect inheritance taxes. Two of them, New Jersey and Maryland, are legally mandated to collect estate taxes as well.  However, the rates imposed on these inheritance taxes will always depend on the relationship between the heir and the deceased—and this information is useful when handling your assets.

If the inheritance will come from parents or even from other family members, setting up a trust to manage your assets is a wise and practical way to get started. A trust will enable the beneficiaries to avoid state probate requirements and related expenses that go with them.

However, choosing between a revocable trust and its irrevocable counterpart can be tricky. Opting for the former means grantors can easily take the assets out if needed, while the latter ties up the specific assets until the death of the grantor.

It’s also important to consider can alternate valuation date. There are instances in which an executor may choose a specific valuation period, six months after the date of the grantor’s death. However, this option’s availability depends on one factor: if the change in valuation can decrease not only the gross amount of the estate but also its state tax liability.

If you’re a grantor, properly and legally managing your inheritance without being burdened by taxes can be really challenging but there’s another option that will not only reduce the size of your taxable asset, it can also provide instant benefits to your loved ones: gifting.

REPOST: Goals-Based Investing: From Theory to Practice

Goal-driven investments are often considered the best kind of investments. The age-old practice of the ‘envelope system’ still applies today, but with much better savings options and are potentially more sustainable. More insights from Forbes:

Image source: Forbes
Image source: Forbes

What Is Goals-Based Investing?

In the world of financial advice, we are seeing a welcome trend toward goals-based investing. This trend puts a greater focus on the goals that investors want to achieve with their savings —such as retirement security, paying for college or purchasing a house — and uses these goals to drive investment strategy and monitor progress.

Goals-based investing may seem like an obvious concept, but it represents a departure from the typical risk-tolerance framework, which profiles clients based on whether they have a conservative, moderate, or aggressive orientation to investment risk. These distinctions are not just semantic; they have important implications for investment strategy and for wealth management practice, as we illustrate in this blog.

Risk Is Not Just Volatility

To see goals-based investment in action, consider a highly simplified example using long-term historical results for three different stock indexes: a large-cap index often used to represent “the market,” a small-cap index, and a dividend-payers index, all measured over the 40-year period from 1976 to 2015. Note that, during this period, equity markets enjoyed returns above their longer-term (1925-present) averages. Nevertheless, in this example we are focusing on the differences between the indexes. In addition, most investors would likely invest in bonds as well as stocks, lowering both overall return and volatility. Again, it is the relative differences that matter here.

Continue reading HERE.

How Instagram can help your business earn its first million

Image source: thenextscoop.com
Image source: thenextscoop.com

 

Today’s generation can no longer imagine a world without the Internet. In fact, every part of their meaningful interaction with other people have been made possible through online connections and the rise of social networking sites has proven to be not just a way to expand social circles but also an avenue to create successful and multi-million dollar businesses.

One of these social networking sites that is an emerging medium for entrepreneurs and businesses is Instagram. The secret to this SNS’ success is all thanks to its continuously rising popularity, making it the fastest growing media platform with over 700 million monthly users all over the planet as of 2017.

 

Image source: em-dc.com
Image source: em-dc.com

 

As a businessman or a new entrepreneur, imagine having an online space that enables your company to possibly reach hundreds of millions of traffic and prospect customers. Instagram has made a tremendous effort to make their platform welcoming and user-friendly not just for its users but also for business owners. Many features have been added to cater to the needs of entrepreneurs and marketers through an option that can convert a personal user account to a business account.

As a business account, Instagram provides features such as a Contact button so your followers and prospect customers can have access to your company’s details: phone number, maps, and email address.

Advertising your products and services are also just a click away and it gives you a chance to reach fresh audience outside of your follower list. The strategic thing about it is your ads don’t have to look like a typical and painfully annoying advertisement. How? Through sponsored stories that have the same characteristics of any standard post that can perfectly blend right in.