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Why keeping on top of financial news is essential for investors

The UK’s investment and finance sector is worth billions, making it one of the most important nodes in the economy. But for the investors that operate within it, life isn’t always easy. Building wealth and keeping it sustainable isn’t simple, and it requires a lot of ongoing work. One of the many tasks on many successful investors’ regular to-do lists, for example, is monitoring the financial news.

Financial news offers a wide range of key benefits. It can alert an investor to a potential problem that their investment plans might face, for example, while it can also allow for effective planning. It’s also the main ammunition for a strong, strategic forward plan. Here’s why these things are so important – and where you can source the financial news you need.

Types of analysis

Before proceeding, however, it’s worth noting that reading the financial news isn’t something that all investors do. Some traders take what’s known as a technical approach, which means focusing entirely on price data and stripping out all references to macroeconomic conditions. However, reading the financial news is part of an overarching strategy known as “fundamental analysis”, which means taking into account all of the many conditions that shape an economy. These could mean trends in politics, for example, while it could also mean looking at data releases on economic performance, employment and investment rates.

Urgent problems

Depending on the asset classes that make up your portfolio, you may find that monitoring the financial news is essential for reducing risk when you make your decisions. Looking out for ups and downs sometimes means that you can plan accordingly. To some extent, every asset class can be moved by major economic events. A decline in the value of a stock market, for example, can have what is known as a “contagion effect”, and can affect everything else – including bonds, commodity prices, and so on.

Specific asset classes, meanwhile, can often be moved by particular events. Regulation announcements can often affect emerging asset classes such as cryptocurrencies, for example. Announcements of interest rate decisions from central banks are often chronicled in forex market news, meanwhile. Remember, though, that monitoring the financial news is just half the battle. The next thing you’ll need to do, of course, is to interpret it and to make effective decisions based on what you find – and that’s where knowledge and comprehension come in.

Understanding and knowledge

The financial news is generally split into two parts: raw figures and analysis. To a seasoned trader, the raw figures often act as signals. Many analysts and journalists use concepts such as “support and resistance” to understand how a value is changing and where it might go next, for example, and these are based entirely on quantitative price data. However, to a newbie trader (or to one who isn’t as numerically or technically minded), these signals can be confusing. And given that they’re often repeated in financial news outlets, it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. Luckily, many financial news outlets also offer qualitative analysis alongside the raw figures to help explain what matters and why.

Take the example of cryptocurrencies. On the face of it, an announcement about regulation would be perceived as a risk to the value of cryptocurrencies. However, some types of regulation can actually be desirable for those in the crypto space, as regulation can reassure potential investors and make it more likely that more people will move into the market and keep demand high. These are the sorts of topics that are discussed in the analytical, text-based sections of financial news outlets – and that can make all the difference to the life of a trader who is struggling to ascribe the right levels of importance to each event or threat.

If you’re a trader using fundamental analysis tools, then it’s essential to use financial news outlets to ensure that you’re making the right decisions. In some ways, financial news acts as a way to firefight problems as and when they arise: they can alert you to potential market drops, for example, while they can also indicate which markets and asset classes might make the most sense for investment. However, the financial news can also help you to increase your understanding of the markets, and make more informed and strategic decisions in the long term. All in all, it’s well worth ensuring that you keep abreast of the latest financial developments.

The role of citizenship by investment in tourism development

Whether as a way to diversify investments or for political reasons, more people than ever are applying for second passports. According to recent figures, there has been a 45% spike in the number of second passport applications in the last year, predominantly in European and Caribbean nations. But although it is partly high-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs) who are responsible for these figures—the Guardian notes that prices range from $100,000 to $2.5 million—the real beneficiaries of citizenship by investment (CBI) are the countries themselves.

After all, as CS Global Partners note, applying for a second citizenship involves a substantial financial contribution to that territory’s “society, the economy, and other state interests”. These countries often use the money they receive via CBI programs to encourage tourists to visit, often through construction and redevelopment of hotels, which in turn creates new employment opportunities and generates renewed demand for further investment.

These are most often in sectors such as leisure, entertainment, and food and drink, but there are other areas where individuals with a second passport can provide economic benefits to nations who run CBI schemes.

Investments in the real estate sector

Much like how they can provide money and employment opportunities to the hotel and hospitality sector, CBI programs also often obligate applicants to invest in real estate in exchange for a second citizenship. Indeed, some CBI schemes allow applicants to invest in real estate in the country, which can provide a wealth of opportunities for interested parties.

Setting up a business in a country which runs a CBI program can help boost economic growth there, getting a nation in on the ground floor of startups and emerging sectors alike. This will then not only increase job prospects for its citizens but increase the country’s reputation abroad as a trailblazing hub for SMEs.

The best citizenship by investment programs

  • Kitts & Nevis

One of the most well-regarded CBI programs currently operating, the two-island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis, is putting the money of those with second passports to very good use. According to BDaily, the tourism sector contributed to 26.8% of the country’s 2017 GDP, and much of this would have been made impossible without CBI, which has helped improve investments into infrastructure, including a new Ritz Carlton hotel.

  • Dominica

The CBI program of Dominica is one of the most financially viable available, costing only $100,000, Dominica’s CBI program is consequently one of the most popular available. It was also ranked the best in the world by the Financial Times’ PWM report – CBI Index. The program also provides visa-free access to over 130 countries, including Hong Kong and the entire European Union.

  • Lucia

St. Lucia has a world-class tourist industry  and a thriving entrepreneurial scene, with government-funded incentives to bring local and international SMEs to the country. Many of the companies involved with these programs are already prospering outside of their home country, and many of these success stories would have been impossible without the financial contributions provided by the CBI program.

How to use debt financing for business growth

When your business needs an injection of cash (and what business doesn’t, at one point or another?) there are two potential routes you can follow. One is debt financing, where you borrow the money you need.

The other is equity financing, where you sell a stake in the company. The latter unfortunately dilutes your ownership, and of course your share of the profits, so we’re going to concentrate on debt financing.

What is debt financing?

As already stated, debt financing involves borrowing the money you need to power business growth. However, if this immediately makes you think of bank loans, think again.

Certainly, a conventional term loan is one avenue for debt financing, and in many instances it’s the right route to take. However, the business finance market has proliferated in recent years with the emergence of alternative lenders, so here are some of the options on the table.

A term loan

This is what most of us think of when we hear the word “loan”: you borrow an agreed amount of money and pay it back, plus interest, over an agreed period.

Line of credit

Acting like an overdraft, a business line of credit allows you to borrow and repay at will against an agreed credit limit. The flexibility is unrivalled, and whilst interest rates tend to be high you will only pay when you are actually using the facility.

Credit card

A business credit card is once again a fairly expensive way to borrow, but as with a line of credit will allow you to borrow and repay at will.

Merchant cash advance

With a merchant cash advance, you can borrow an agreed sum and repay it via a fixed percentage of your daily credit card sales. The advantage is obvious: you will never have to make a significant fixed payment during a quiet period for the business. The main disadvantage is once again the cost, as this is a notoriously expensive way to borrow.

Invoice factoring or discounting

With invoice factoring or discounting, you can borrow against your invoices as soon as you issue them, with repayment being made when your customers pay you.

This means you effectively get paid immediately and can revolutionise your cash flow; opt for factoring and you can even outsource all collections activity to the finance company.

What are the advantages of debt financing?

The big advantage of debt financing is that you don’t have to give away a stake in your business, and your lender has no control over the way in which it is run. Allow a business angel or other equity investor to take a stake and you could find yourself having to contend with a quite different vision of the company’s future.

What’s more, any interest you pay on your borrowing can be fully offset against corporation tax, and if you opt for a long-term loan you can spread the repayments over quite a number of years, thus reducing your monthly outgoings. Better still, if you opt for a fixed (rather than variable) interest rate loan, then you will always know how much you have to pay.

So, what are the disadvantages?

The first problem you may face is having to provide security for the loan.

Certainly, it’s possible to find unsecured finance, but this will generally require an excellent credit score and a proven track record in business. For relatively new companies, a secured loan may be the only option on the table. Whilst this significantly reduces the lender’s risk, it substantially increases yours.

With an unsecured loan, your lender would have to obtain a court order to seize your assets in the event you fail to repay; with a secured loan, they can simply take the collateral, so be extremely careful about pledging personal assets such as your home.

Secondly, of course, you will need to budget for the repayments, which will significantly reduce your free cash flow and could create problems further down the line. However, as with anything in business, you have to speculate to accumulate – and the rewards can be significant. I would suggest looking at this article on calculating your DSCR to ensure you can afford the loan repayments before leaping in.

What can debt financing do for me?

Take out debt finance when you need it and deploy the money wisely, and you could take your business to the next level. Here are just a few of the things you could with a loan:

Improve your cash flow

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, and virtually every company hits a cash flow crisis at one point or another. In fact, cash flow can be particularly problematical for businesses that are profitable and fast-growing.

This might sound perverse, but they will have to purchase raw materials, and potentially take on new people and equipment, to serve major new customers in advance of getting paid. Having a cash cushion on hand can make the difference between staying in business and going to the wall.

Invest in a marketing campaign

One almost universal truth in business is that people are not going to beat a path to your door to use your product or service. If you want to join the big league, you will need to launch a marketing campaign, and these can be notoriously expensive. But by financing the right campaign you can achieve a step change in your company’s performance.

Hire new people

Any company is only as good as its people, and if you want to take on the most prestigious customers in your sector then you will need the very best people to service them. Of course, the best people tend to be the most expensive, hence the need to borrow.

Purchase new equipment

Similarly, it’s important to have the best equipment on hand, and once again there’s every chance that you will need to borrow in order to invest.

Move to larger premises or open additional offices

If you’re running a business where customers come to see you, then you’ll know that first impressions really count. Getting the right premises or opening a network of local or overseas offices can set your business on a very positive route.

Refinance existing debt

Finally, if you already have debts, taking out additional finance may allow you to consolidate them into a single, lower monthly payment, thus freeing up cash flow. As an added bonus, if your business has developed significantly since you last sought finance, you may be able to achieve a much lower interest rate.

A few tips when you’re seeking debt finance

First and foremost, remember to talk to the full range of lenders, as banks and alternative lenders apply quite different acceptance criteria and tend to have very different application processes.

Secondly, consider the possibilities of all the finance options above, and make sure that you understand their relative costs. For this reason, it is vital to find out how much you will pay back in total, including any interest. A simple interest rate won’t communicate this, and to make life more confusing some loans have their costs expressed as a factor rate instead.

Once you have all the options on the table, you can take an informed decision and take a vital step in propelling your business to the next level.

Written by Carl Faulds

As Managing Director of Cashsolv, Carl offers advice and support to overcome cash flow problems and identify possible underlying problems that can be addressed to ensure a positive future for your business.

The impact of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) on Travel and Fleets for 2019

During more recent years, cities have seen more commuters than ever, particularly with the introduction of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) companies such as Uber and Lyft. This has meant that already busy cities are becoming more and more congested with traffic, making travelling more time-consuming and expensive.

This is not just in the sense of the cost of private commuting and parking, but also follows into the rising costs of transportation and expenses for both the company and the individual. Mark McKenna, fleet insurance broker for Bluedrop Services, updates us on the impact of Mobility as a Service on today’s businesses.

The introduction of Smart Cities

As a result of the increasing traffic and expenses of commuting, the concept of ‘Smart Cities’ has begun to emerge. This involves a wider scale of car sharing, access to renting bikes, scooters and the introduction of services such as Uber.

These have all led to a wider adoption of Mobility as a Service (Maas). The idea of renting transportation when you need it rather than having a need for your own private car, at least in larger and more populated and congested cities, is growing in popularity.

MaaS as a developing tool

MaaS is not unheard of, in fact, particularly around Europe this service is becoming more predominant. It’s not just Uber, but countries like Switzerland and Finland are already developing MaaS systems to introduce not only car rental services but also maintenance, insurance, tolls, bike sharing, taxi services, train services and parking within cities all within a subscription, pay as you go or app services.

In addition to this, larger car companies such as BMW, Mercedes Benz, Ford and Porsche also provide car subscription services to companies and individuals.

The growth of MaaS and its impact on business vehicle management

With MaaS continuing to grow at such an exponential rate and the introduction of Smart Cities, there is an opportunity to have fewer vehicles on the road. This not only provides economical and environmental opportunities but also creates scope for businesses to find more affordable commuting situations and minimise wait times across industries worldwide.

The issue is that these sorts of systems will require a management system that needs more than an app. There will be an aptitude of data and intelligence needed to co-ordinate this type of system in a centralised manner.

From fleet management to mobility management

For business fleets, MaaS will likely be the norm for their operations in 20 years. By 2020 the growth will be inevitable which will transform fleet management as we know it.

Despite this, due to lack of investment in public transport services there will still be a huge position for private mobility services in the future markets. This presents new opportunities for fleet management companies which already face a revolution in their services. Emerging markets, cost pressures, technology, government regulations and technology in manufacturing will have always provided new challenges for the industry. Yet, moving into new mobility management systems could help to revolutionise the industry.

Diversity and opportunity

Instead of seeing these changes as a threat, the fleet industry has already embraced the need for diversity and seen the opportunity that MaaS could have for them.  Fleet Managers will be looking at a mobility budget as a whole, as opposed to focussing on their internal fleet costs. Overall it will be about saving time, money and our carbon footprint.

Whilst there is already evidence of MaaS systems, the fleet industry could potentially spearhead the move towards it by embracing the knowledge they already possess. This is everything from automated systems, access to date, cost advantages to their advanced skills and knowledge in co-ordination, scheduling and accounting. Not only can they embrace their expertise, but by utilising the use of mobile platforms it can give them extra brain power putting them in a strong position.

Therefore, it’s not about a threat to the industry but about a paradigm shift and providing new opportunities where the fleet industry can enhance their position and expand into new areas.

With fleet input, MaaS can help to improve quality of life for individuals, help companies save money, encourage alternative transport services which can help the environment whilst also providing the data and analysis to constantly provide new ways for improvement.

Autonomous vehicles, car-sharing and public transport is not a threat to the fleet industry, in fact it is pushing them in the right direction to become an industry that will adapt and provide a more sustainable way of transport for the future.

What is Leverage in Forex?

One aspect that makes forex so popular is its affordable and variable capital cost. Thanks to leverage, an investor can participate in trades worth thousands dollars with a much smaller deposit. But not every trader understands the term “leverage” clearly. This article will help you learn more.

Leverage explained

A forex trader usually must deposit an amount of money, called margin, to open a position with a broker. Leverage is a tool that takes this deposit and combines it with others, into a bigger one called “super margin deposit”.

There are many traders participating in the forex market, and the broker combines their margins, so an individual trader can then conversely borrow from the broker, which is leverage. In effect, with leverage a trader can control a larger amount of money than their actual deposit.

Why is leverage needed?

Profit in forex comes from the change in the rate of currency pairs. For example, a trader buys EUR/USD at 1.2500 with his $1,000; the rate then grows to 1.2550 or moves 50 pips. In this case, for each Euro he buys, he earns $0.005 or 0.5 cents. The total profit in USD is:

$1,000$1.2500×(1.2550-1.2500)=$4

$4 is an insignificant income comparing to $1,000 of capital. Here’s another example with the same currency pair and price movement – but this time, the trader buys a standard lot of $100,000. The profit in USD is now:

$100,000$1.2500×(1.2550-1.2500)=$400

What can be learned from this example is that only a sizable investment can bring a significant return, such as $100,000 or more. But most of us cannot afford a big deposit like this, and that’s why we need to borrow from the broker, using leverage.

Margin and Leverage

These two terms always go together. Normally, margin is calculated by the percentage of total transaction value and leverage is the corresponding ratio.

For example, if the required margin is 1%, and you intend to buy a standard lot costing $100,000, then the margin you must deposit is $1,000; corresponding with it, the leverage or the ratio is 1:100. Now, you can control $100,000 with your $1,000.

Similarly, with the other required margin of 10%, 2%, 0.5%, 0.01%, there are respective leverage ratios such as 1:10, 1:50, 1:200, 1:1000 and others.

Is Leverage A Double-edged Sword?

A high return always comes with high risk. In the example we have discussed above, a trader buys a standard lot of EUR/USD at the rate of 1.2500. The change of rate is monitored by pip – the fourth decimal places in rate – each of which costs:

$100,000 x 0.0001 = $10

In a positive scenario, the rate goes 50 pips higher, and that trader earns $400. But in the reverse negative scenario, an unlucky trader could lose $400 if the price moves 50 pips lower, which is a big number in comparison with the original investment.

Therefore higher leverage can magnify the return significantly, but it also increases the possible risk. To prevent a losing trade from becoming worse, traders must use a tool called stop loss, which will quit your trade when it hits a specified level, if the price moves against you.

The Bottom Line

In summary, the main aspects of leverage are:

  • A tool to increase your possible return
  • Always corresponds with required margin
  • Higher leverage can bring a higher risk  

Leverage is the key that makes forex trading affordable. You don’t need to be rich to participate in forex because with leverage you can control bigger money than your deposit. However, always keep in mind that high leverage can lead to disaster if you are careless. Above all, practice makes perfect, so if you’re unsure in the beginning, use a demo account until you’re comfortable trading with leverage for real.

What’s the Best Type of Mattress for a Side Sleeper?

Can’t stand sleeping on your back? You’re not alone. A detailed survey conducted by American home furnishings retailer Anna’s Linens found that 74% of people prefer to sleep on their sides, making side sleeping by far the most popular sleeping position.

Beyond side sleeping’s popularity, it’s also the sleeping position most commonly recommended by doctors that specialise in sleep health. One reason for this is its effects on the spine — when you sleep on your side, your pelvis, spine and shoulders are usually kept in alignment.

Add comfort, improved airway circulation and a potential link to a healthy cardiovascular system into the mix and sleeping on your side is a clear winner (sorry, back sleepers).

If you’re a side sleeper looking for a new mattress, you’ll usually get the best results by picking a mattress that’s tailored for someone with your sleep habits. Below, we’ve listed three features to look for in a mattress if you’re a side sleeper, as well as our recommendations for materials.

A moderate level of firmness

When you sleep on your side, it’s important that your mattress provides enough firmness and support to prevent your hips and back (where most of your body weight is concentrated) from sinking lower than the rest of your body.

On the other hand, it’s important to avoid overly firm mattresses, as these can put excessive amounts of pressure on your shoulders and hips, causing discomfort. For best results, pick a mattress that provides a moderate level of firmness and even, overall support for your body.

Contouring memory foam

While there’s no “best” mattress material for side sleepers, memory foam offers a variety of unique advantages over most other common mattress materials.

First, it’s comfortable and supportive, meaning it’s unlikely to cause you to develop soreness around your hips and shoulders. Second, it provides a contouring effect for your body, giving you an additional level of comfort when you sleep.

Finally, although memory foam has a tendency to retain heat, the small surface area that’s in contact with your mattress as a side sleeper makes this less of an issue.

A larger-than-normal width

Do you sleep on your left side, or on your right side? Or, do you switch from side to side over the course of the night? Most side sleepers toss and turn at least a little bit, making it useful to choose a mattress with enough width to tolerate you switching sides as you sleep.

From a comfort perspective, it’s normally best to choose a mattress size that’s one step larger than what you need. If you usually sleep by yourself, consider a double; if you sleep with your partner, consider the extra space that’s offered by a king.

So, which type of mattress is best?

As we mentioned above, there’s no “best” type of mattress for a side sleeper. However, the key features to look for as a side sleeper are usually found in mattresses with a memory foam, latex or hybrid design.

As a side sleeper, it’s usually best to avoid cheap mattresses, particularly low-cost innerspring mattresses. These mattresses often use a thin foam outer comfort layer, meaning they’re less supportive than other mattress types and more likely to cause pain in your pressure points.

Can’t decide which material is best for you? As specialists in custom mattresses, our team can help you learn more about the best options for you, from mattress sizing to materials that match your sleep preferences.

5 Benefits Of Incorporating Translation Services Into Your Business

If you’re aiming to grow your business internationally, translation services are a must.

Communication is quite possibly one of the most important factors when running a business. You need your potential customers to be clear about what you have to offer and they should be able to communicate effectively with you about how your business can satisfy their needs. If you’re growing your business internationally, it goes without saying that translation services should be of high importance.

But, just how effective is a translation service? What can you get from working with a quality translation company? From teaming up with Intrawelt, language translation and interpretation experts, we share with you the main benefits of incorporating professional translation services into your business strategy.

Effective communication with the right people.

With so many different people to target, you need to be able to speak their language. By using translation services, you can reach out to potential new customers and maintain relationships with existing ones.

Through quality written communications and translated website content, for example, you’ll be able to speak more accurately to your audience, encouraging them to choose you for their needs, no matter where you’re based.

High-quality and accurate.

Getting external help from expert translators ensures there is no room for error. If you try and translate yourself, you run the risk of poor translation, resulting in those potential new customers steering well clear of you. You’ll quickly get the wrong reputation for yourself.

Professionalism is what people look for in a company and providing entirely accurate interpretations will get you a positive reputation. If your customers can see how accurate your own written communications are, then they’ll trust you completely when working on their own campaigns.

It’s affordable.

Expanding your business internationally may seem like a huge step to both established and start-up businesses alike. In all honesty, it is, but it doesn’t have to cost you the Earth. In fact, translation services are very affordable in the long run. Working with a translations service opens you up to a whole new world of business opportunity.

With the amount of people you can target with effective translation and interpretation, there is no limit to what you can achieve. You can be confident that your accurate translation is working as soon as it read by your new audience.

Personalisation to each location.

Using a machine to translate content is not a great idea. Why? Because there are so many different meanings, words, tones of voice…the list goes on. In fact, even different places in the same country may use a slightly different variation of that language. A person in a specific location can easily spot poor translation.

A professional translation service ensures that machine translation is out of the question. You’ll always be sure to speak effectively to the people of each specific location you’re targeting instead of relying on translation software to do a mediocre job for you.

A real time saver.

Using a translation and interpretation service ensures that you can spend your time even more wisely on other areas of your marketing campaign. Translating in-house can not only work out as inaccurate, but it takes up an awful lot of time that could be better spent, especially if you don’t have hired professionals in translation.

Translation services help you reach a wider market.

If you’re looking to branch out internationally, translation services from a professional company are a must. With the right translation, you’ll show your potential customers that you can be trusted to deliver a high-quality service.

This post was in collaboration with Intrawelt, language translation and interpretation services. For more information about the services they offer, visit their website at https://intrawelt.com/en/.

Are credit unions any good?

If you’ve been researching ways to borrow money, or you’ve been turned down for a credit card or a loan, you might have come across credit unions. Credit unions are nonprofit, community-based organisations, which lend money to members. If you’re not familiar with credit unions, here’s a useful guide

This guide was written from research on the article: What is a credit union and how can I borrow from them on Lending Expert by Jane Wardle.

What are credit unions?

Credit unions are community providers, which offer loans to members. They are often recommended for those who find it difficult to secure a loan or get credit on the high street. Credit unions are not designed to generate profits. If a credit union does make a profit, the money is used to reward members and invest in better services. Credit union members must have bonds that connect them to each other. In many cases, this applies to living in the same community, but unions can also be formed by people from the same religious group, those who work for the same employer or members of a trade union. Credit unions vary in size from a small number of members to thousands of members, and they are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

How do credit unions differ to other lenders?

Credit unions are often thought of as lenders with a human touch. They usually offer lower interest rates than banks and building societies, and members can also benefit from financial advice and measures that are designed to help them save money. In most cases, credit unions don’t charge penalties and fees for early repayment, and they include life insurance with every loan.

Borrowing money from a credit union

To borrow money from a credit union, you have to be a member. You can find details of local credit unions in your area by visiting the Association of British Credit Unions website. When you apply, you may be asked to provide identification documents to confirm your personal details. Some credit unions ask you to build up savings before you can apply to take out a loan. When you take out a loan, you’ll agree to pay back the sum over a period of time. Interest rates tend to be significantly lower at around 1%. The monthly interest rate is capped at 3% for credit unions in England, Scotland, and Wales, and 1% in Northern Ireland. The majority of credit unions offer unsecured loans up to five years and secured loans up to 10 years. A secured loan is a lump sum that is secured against an asset, such as a car or a house.

If you’re looking to borrow money, and you don’t want to be hit by soaring interest rates or hidden charges or fees, why not research credit unions in your local area? You may find that you’re able to get the money you need without increasing your debt to cover interest fees and penalties. Credit unions can also help out in cases where individuals have been refused credit by high street lenders. If you’re struggling to borrow money from a bank or a building society, this is an option worth exploring.

The 4 Contacts Buy-To-Let Landlords Need on Speed Dial

As a landlord, ensuring your tenants are safe and secure at all times is the number one priority. Your property should always be in top condition, but there still may be times where emergency issues need to be resolved. In these situations, there are certain phone numbers you’ll need quick access to, and these are four of the most important contacts to have during a crisis.

Trusted tradespeople available in an emergency

Perhaps the most common emergency you’ll face as a landlord is a breakage inside your property. You may need to call an electrician, plumber, or a general handyman, who can arrive at your property as quickly as possible and minimise any inconvenience for your tenants. However, the professional trader you contact must complete the work to a high standard without overcharging. Having a trusted number or business to call allows you to avoid being scammed by a trader, especially in an emergency.

There are plenty of ways to check you’re calling a legitimate trader rather than a rogue scammer, such as searching on local handymen directories from reliable companies like Checkatrade. While there are many available online, it’s worth putting as much effort into finding the right tradespeople for your specific needs. For example, property maintenance company Homyze was launched by property managers Adam Edgell-Bush and Andrew Jaques to help property managers. When making your final selection, working with an empathetic company who understand your concerns may well trump a company who don’t.

Experienced lettings agent

If you’re not managing your tenants yourself and are working with a lettings agent, you’ll need to be able to contact them quickly in the event of any emergencies. Agents can tailor their services to suit your needs, such as carrying out safety inspections, managing the deposit, collecting rent, and chasing arrears. Lettings agents can also bridge communication between you and your tenants, so if any issues arise, it’s a good idea to call your lettings agent first to discuss any legalities.

For example, you must follow a particular legal process in order to evict a tenant, and your lettings agent will be able to discuss this with you. Similarly, if a tenant suddenly leaves and you’re left with an empty property, you’ll need to work with your lettings agent in order to find a new tenant as quickly as possible. An experienced agent will be able to complete the process quickly and efficiently, and be thorough in their vetting of any potential new tenants, giving you peace of mind.

The neighbours of the property you let

It’s important to build a good relationship with the neighbours to your property, as they can help keep a watchful eye on the building and may even look after a spare key in the event of any emergencies. Despite more than half of Brits describing their neighbours as strangers, relying on your neighbours actually has a number of benefits. If anything was to happen to the home you let, a neighbour could be on hand to help resolve any conflicts and possibly act as a witness.

It’s always best to have your neighbour’s contact information close to hand as you never know when you’ll need it. If your tenants report a burglary, for example, you should contact the neighbours to inform them of the crime and find out whether or not they noticed anything that should be included in the police report.

A specialist solicitor

Having a property to let often involves a large amount of paperwork, whether it’s financial or legal. There are expenses you can claim as a landlord which are related to the running and maintaining of your property. However, these expenses depend on whether the rent being charged covers services like water and council tax. Having a solicitor on call provides the answers to any legal questions as quickly as possible, especially when moving tenants in and out of your property. Similarly, if you do run into any issues with a problematic tenant you want to evict, your solicitor can advise the best way to proceed.

As a landlord, your property is your investment so you want it to give you the best return possible. It’s important to have the most important contact numbers to hand so you can resolve any issues as quickly as possible, ensuring your tenants are happy, and encouraging them to stay within your property for as long as possible.

How to Make Your Business More Energy Efficient

Energy efficiency can have many benefits for a business. It’s one of the best ways to save money as energy expenses are one of the costs that eats the most money out of a business budget in the UK. It’s possible for a business to save 10-30% of its energy expenditure, by making some relatively simple changes.

It makes sense to invest a significant amount of available business finances in making improvements to energy efficiency. Businesses can also consider financing options, such as flexible business loans, when making major improvements. So, what type of changes should a business consider making?

Monitor energy usage effectively

It’s difficult to identify waste, and opportunities for savings, if effective energy monitoring is not in place. Smart meters can help to make this happen. They record spending at different times of the day so that trends can be spotted and problems can be identified.

Make use of sensors throughout business premises

Not every room of an office space is occupied all of the time. Areas that are not occupied do not require the same levels of heat and lighting. Using sensors in areas such as the toilets, and private offices, means that lighting and heat is automatically controlled. Energy is only used when needed and efficiency is improved as a result.

Make sure systems are maintained

Heating and ventilation systems can have an adverse effect on the energy efficiency of a business, if they are not working efficiently. This is why it’s so important to make sure that a regular maintenance schedule is maintained. The same applies to water tanks and pipes. No business wants to pay money for water that is being wasted because a pipe is leaking.

Make energy efficient purchases

One of the best ways of improving the energy efficiency of a business is to invest in the most efficient products. One area where this is especially important is the lighting of business premises. LED light bulbs use only a quarter of the energy that halogen bulbs do. Using these bulbs around a business premises, including the illumination of signage, can be a big help in reducing the amount of energy used.

Use natural light where possible

Natural light helps to improve productivity levels. It’s also available free of charge. It makes sense to make use of it whenever possible. For a business to make best use of natural light:

  • Blinds should be open if possible.
  • Window ledges should be cleared of clutter.
  • Open plan office designs should be used.

Making these changes means there is less need for artificial lighting, helping to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.

Using any of these methods to improve the energy efficiency of a business helps to reduce the amount spent on energy bills. It also presents a positive image of the business as a responsible user of energy and protector of the environment. These are valuable benefits for any business.

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