Your employees are more than just members of your payroll: They are also one of your company’s best assets. When you do all that you can to help your employees thrive, you will both benefit. You don’t necessarily have to invest a large quantity of money to do this, but you do have to make a conscious effort to help your employees be their best.
Seek Honest Feedback
It’s difficult to help your employees thrive if you haven’t gained a full understanding about what is holding them back. No business is perfect, and seeking honest feedback from your employees is a great way to find areas that need improvement.
In order for employees to provide candid feedback, they need to feel safe. In most cases, employees feel more comfortable providing feedback in an anonymous manner. Print a short survey to distribute to employees, or create an old-fashioned suggestions box to place in the office.
Invest in Training
Once you know which areas need improvement, you can work on making strides in these areas. In many cases, the proper training can relieve a lot of the stress from your employees. Investing in software is great, but you won’t be able to take full advantage of the new program if you haven’t also invested in Sage 100 training.
Training sessions don’t have to be full-day events that keep everyone away from their regular duties. Instead, look for ways to scatter shorter training sessions throughout your schedule. Host a lunch meeting where you bring in a customer service expert, or take an hour on Friday afternoon to have a refresher on email etiquette.
Few things in life are more motivating than positive feedback. Instead of harping on all that your employees are doing wrong, make the choice to recognize excellence. Employees who feel that they are appreciated will work harder and gain a sense of loyalty to your business.
Bonuses are always a great way to reward excellence, but you don’t have to abandon this idea if you are short on funds. Instead, think of other ways to reward great employees. Give the gift of an extra vacation day, give the employee a temporary break from one of her duties, or simply give positive feedback in front of other people at your next staff meeting. You might be surprised how a culture of positivity changes the attitude of your staff members.
Life is just not just about big dreams, high end luxuries and expensive comforts. Amidst your hectic schedule and working hard to make your both ends meet, you may often forget to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. These pleasures, though may seem trivial or frivolous in nature, can bring immense satisfaction to you. They are called the finer joys of life.
Ever wondered about the finer joys of your life? Well, here is a small list:
- Looking at the joy on your child’s face when you take them for their dance class
- Dropping your wife for Zumba classesen route to your office.
- Pursuing that long-cherished hobby of learning to play the guitar.
- Watching your favourite singer performing live in a concert.
This list can be endless. You have an earnest desire to live these finer joys, but then there is the other side of the coin which calls for being practical to make them come true. You need to make time to do these little things you want to do as well as manage your finances to spend about the same.
Managing your time is relatively easier. You could start waking 15 minutes earlier every morning. Or you could limit your screen or digital media hours. You can even set aside a dedicated hour of the day for ‘me time’ and ‘family time’.
But, what about the money part? This requires a conscious and systematic planning at your end. Here is what you could do to achieve the finer joys in your life without worrying much about the finances.
- Make a Budget
Write down income and expenses (better, if maintained in an excel sheet). Review once in a fortnight or a month. Analyze the reasons if you have exceeded the budget on some counts. Try and live within the budget.
- Save Smartly
You should aim to save at least 15 – 30% of your income to meet the key milestones of your life – child’s education & marriage, own home, retirement, etc. Keep a long term perspective and allocate your savings to a diversified portfolio comprising fixed income securities, equity funds and insurance plans (life, health and non – life) for a better risk-return trade-off. Also, keep an emergency fund, equivalent to your 3 – 6 months, aside to meet unforeseen expenses. Similarly, you should allocate a part of your income towards the expenses that you will need to incur on the finer joys of life. This way, you and your family can enjoy the small pleasures of life without creating an additional burden on your budget.
- Invest in a Money-back Policy
The finer joys can occur at different stages of your life. To be able to enjoy them as and when the time comes, you need money at periodic intervals. Rather than juggling your finances impulsively in future for such things, it is better to plan for regular payouts ahead of time. A money-back planis quite suitable with this regards. It gives a guaranteed income flow at fixed stages during the policy term, so that you have the money when you need it the most. You could plan the payouts as and when you desire to fund the finer joys of your life. With a money-back plan in your investment kitty, you have an additional source of income in hand and you can glide through your recurring financial commitments smoothly.
If you plan your time and finances well, you need not forget, sacrifice or postpone those finer dreams in your life. Start planning today, your little joys are waiting to unfold!
Employees of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have been staging impromptu strikes since September in an effort to make their dissatisfaction known with the bank’s treatment of them. Workers have been staging periodic walk-outs as a response to the bank’s refusal to improve pension plans and other grievances.
- Retirement Benefits Eroded By Inflation
The latest mass walk-out occurred on November 19, when 17,000 workers staged a protest to protest what they see as crippling actions by the bank’s management in New Delhi. RBI employees claim the bank has done little to account for cost of living increases pensioners face, which is forcing many of them to live in poverty. The United Forum of Reserve Bank Officers and Employees, which oversees the four unions that represent RBI workers plans to continue to stage “casual leave” walk-outs until the bank agrees to meet their “reasonable demands” for improved pension plans.
Published reports claim that workers are attempting to obtain a “one-rank, one-pension scheme” which would level the playing field in terms of the distribution of retirement benefits. The government promised to implement this system in August, 2015, but so far has not done so. Moreover, employees are concerned that the RBI now has less autonomy than it once did.
- Monetary Policy Committee Has Been Proposed
There is concern that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attempting to curtail the RBI’s independence by creating a Monetary Policy Committee that will set interest rates and make other decisions officers of the bank once made on their own. Central bank governor, Raghuram Rajan supports this decision, but the committee’s exact functions have yet to be determined.
The government is concerned about the country’s economy since the RBI chose to lower interest rates four times during 2015 to compensate for a struggling economy that is suffering because of low commodities prices. Despite the lower cost of goods, employees claim they can no longer pay for things like medical expenses, or obtain housing loans. They are pushing for the bank to increase benefits, rather than keep the status quo.
- More Strikes Will Be Staged In December
So far the strikes have been restricted to selected locations, but the United Forum of Reserve Bank Officers and Employees is planning to stage a nationwide walk-out on December 2. That strike is scheduled to last for two days, but some believe the actions could go on indefinitely if the demands of the employees are not met.
There will be more localized action leading up to the larger strike, and employees are planning to dig in until the bank decides it will negotiate with the union. So far bank officers have been reluctant to negotiate, but in light of a nationwide walk-out, their opinion might change. Bank customers are advised to pay attention to news reports to stay informed about local and national walk-outs.
A successful business owner knows that they must focus their resources on their core competencies if they want to grow their business. For example, a wood pallet manufacturer would outsource their accounting services because hiring full-time accountants takes money away from making pallets. Within your own business, there are quality control functions you can outsource to professional organizations that will give you the best possible results, and help to save money at the same time.
While it is not unusual for a manufacturing company to make its own packaging, it is a waste of resources to hire a staff of engineers designed to monitor those packaging services. You can outsource those services to a professional organization that knows all of the latest government laws regarding packaging, and can offer guidance on developing specialty packaging for hazardous or delicate materials.
Business Process Monitoring
Many companies hire business process experts that have advanced computer degrees and a comprehensive understanding of statistics. All of the functions of a business process monitor are essential to the success of any business, but those functions can also be done just as efficiently by a professional outsourcing organization. You can have your processes analyzed and suggestions for improvements made as efficiently by an outsourcing organization as you can from any in-house department.
Facility Energy Efficiency
When it comes to the energy efficiency of a commercial facility, many managers simply rely on the maintenance crew to keep things under control. Despite the maintenance staff’s best efforts, a lot of money is wasted every year due to inefficient systems and equipment the company uses each day. The solution is to bring in an independent energy auditor every year to help improve efficiency, and reduce the costs of operations. While you would not be replacing any of you current staff, you will be making an investment that will save your company money every year.
When you utilize the right kind of outsourcing professionals, then you are able to focus on the things that your company does best. Bringing experts will save you money in administrative costs, and it will also save you money in ongoing operational costs. When you can get expert service for a fraction of the cost of hiring your own expert staff, then that is something you should be taking advantage of.
Diversification is a core investment principal. The old saw that there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots can be applied to traders. Other than stocks, what are other effective ways of making money? Bonds, commodities, cash? These instruments do not seem to be much appetizing at the moment.
Alternative investments can be the best and worst of investments. This is the zone where an offer of a piece of Brazilian jungle, carbon credits or funky real estate can lead investors astray.
One of the best classes of alternative investment is numismatic coins. They have the following benefits:
Low correlation to other assets: Numismatic coins have kept up a 7% annual compound rate of growth for as long as you care to look back. A coin that was $100 in the past during depression is now $20000. There is no asset that is free of correlation but the main correlation for numismatics is general money supply with an underlying link with fear. During the credit crunch when people were pulling their cash from British banks, coin dealers were as busy as the vendors of safes.
Inflation hedge: Coins are very helpful in beating inflation. A Triple Unite from 1646 that was about $10000 to its original owner is now worth anywhere between $80000 to $150000. This is about 3% above the rate of inflation over the last 368 years. Inflation is an increasingly mysterious number. Many people believe that their grocery bills and the constant rise in price do not match the stated inflation numbers. The prices of the hard assets are always going up. This is counterbalanced by a mixture of “soft assets” deflation, questionable statistics and agricultural subsidies.
High portability: Unlike dollar bills, many are not trained to sniff out collectible coins. You can put a multimillion dollar collection in your pocket and go away. Some people believe that bullets are a great alternative investment.
A global market with auctions: Alternative investments tend to be illiquid, just like coins. You can sell the items quickly to a dealer, but the bid/offer on that isn’t too great. Coins are for the investors who are patient and an auction is a solid venue for them.
Coins have a great history of being valuable assets: Coins have a good track record of being desirable assets. They have been collected by popes and emperors, and have been a pastime of the rich for centuries. They provide a good demand in the resale market.
Numismatics is not the only collectible with good investment and diversification attributes. You will find them in the form of stamps, banknotes and many other obscure and/or fascinating genres like film posters, toys, china and other art virtue. Almost everyone has the same reasons to collect coins. If you put all your financial eggs in one investment basket, your probability of loss is concentrated. Collecting is a fine way of spreading your investment risk.
The figures surrounding the PPI scandal are already staggering. What’s arguably more staggering is that many thousands of people still haven’t claimed what they’re owed. The total amount paid out since January 2011 has already gone well beyond £21 billion.
By the time the whole mess is tied off, it’s estimated the total bill will be closer to £35 billion.
That goes to show that while many people have got their money back, a great deal more still haven’t.
One reason so many people still haven’t claimed is simply because they don’t know they have a claim. One way that PPI was routinely mis-sold was to add it on to the finance agreement without the customer’s knowledge.
When that happened, the customer was unknowingly paying out for the product month after month. They believed each repayment was purely for the loan or finance agreement when in fact a portion of it was repaying the PPI as well.
The team over at http://ppiclaimsandadvice.com have been helping many people get back money they didn’t even realise they were owed. For some people, that refund
has been in the tens-of-thousands of pounds.
With a deadline for claiming imminent, it’s important you double check your records to make sure you aren’t due a refund too. Once the deadline hits, there’ll be no route for recourse after that.
Uncovering Hidden PPI
It’s quite normal to discard old paperwork when the finance agreement has run its course. So how can you find hidden PPI if you no longer have your records?
One way is to run a credit check on yourself. A credit check will pull up your financial history, showing you what loans and finance agreements you’ve had in the past and with which lenders.
There are a number of firms that offer such a service. One well know firm is Credit Expert, owned by Experian. They offer a free trial period to use the service, after which there’s a monthly fee (cancel the trial before it ends and you won’t have to pay).
Another similar service is by Noddle, which is free all the time.
Sign up for the service, follow the instructions and download your report. Print it out if you have a printer and then go through it — carefully, of course — to locate any PPI you weren’t aware of, or which you’d forgotten about.
PPI often went by other names, hence the reason for going through the report carefully. It may have been sold as ASU or something similar. Whatever name it’s listed under, if you find instances of PPI that are a surprise to you, then it was almost certainly mis-sold and you should be due a refund.
No Account Numbers or Paperwork
There’s much debate about whether you should claim PPI by yourself or have a PPI claim company do it for you. As with many things in life, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. It’s largely a personal choice based on your own circumstances.
One area where it can make more sense to use a company rather than handling it alone is if you no longer have your paperwork and/or account numbers. Some companies, like the one mentioned at the top of the article, have negotiated special agreements with many of the main banks and lenders.
These agreements allow them to get claims started without account numbers and without paperwork. It’s an agreement specific to some companies and isn’t available to individuals claiming by themselves. For many people, this not only makes a slow and laborious process quicker, but it’s also far less stressful.
Whichever way you decide to claim your money back, just make sure you do it soon. Once the deadline is official, the clock will be ticking and it will count down to zero much quicker than you probably realise.
Unfortunately, fraud can affect all businesses, both large and small, and can have very costly consequences for your company’s finances and reputation if word of the fraud gets out; especially where fraud directly affects your customers. Many fraudsters thrive on and feed off of the reluctance of business owners to deal with a potential security breach within their business. However, fighting fraud and securing your business should be standard practice.
Assess your risks
The first step you should take is to determine the areas in your business that are vulnerable to fraud. You could start with common risks, such as payment exchanges with suppliers, POS cash payments from customers, and other areas that involve the exchange of finances. Invest in a counterfeit detector to ensure you don’t receive fraudulent bills and remember that fraud doesn’t always have to be on a large scale.
Theft or exchange of business products (asset misappropriation) by staff is very common and schemes where employees steal or exploit your organization’s resources, or make fictitious expense reimbursement claims need to be addressed. While this type of fraud is often overlooked, as it is less costly than corruption cases, or financial statement fraud, the effects of it can add up greatly over time. Tightening security at entry and exit points, as well as establishing guidelines can make a big difference.
Come up with an anti-fraud plan
Once you’ve determined the areas you need to focus your attention on, it’s time to create a fraud prevention policy. Write it down for the employees as well. Whether your staff have to start using counterfeit money detection products, or need training on ethical behavior, a policy in place can be a good guide and deterrent. If you need expert guidance, you can consult with Certified Fraud Examiners, who can help you find out where your company is most vulnerable and assist creation and action of your plan.
Business owners may be reserved when it comes to raising the issue of fraud with their staff or customers for fear of coming across as untrusting. But one of the best ways to approach this issue is by being open about it. Customers can take advantage of employees when exchanging cash for products and employees can do the same, so purchase a money counting machine that records every transaction for both parties to see. This will make he said/she said arguments a thing of the past. And making examples of any employees or customers who abuse this rule will be a deterrent to other people.
Maintain the culture
Maintain positivity and open communications in your company. Organizational structure and policies should be followed. There’s no sense in creating an anti-fraud plan and handing out a copy to everyone involved and then not respect it. Carry out random assessments, follow the protocol. If you do still find cases of fraud, think about installing CCTV cameras in your offices or stores. Will these tips in mind, you can take charge and work to fight against fraud and secure your business.
Michael Peggs is the founder of digital marketing agency Marccx Media, where they specialize in SEO and Content Marketing. Before Marcxx, Peggs worked at Google in business development, forming digital media and advertising partnerships. He is also a blogger and podcaster, hosting the iTunes Top 10 New & Noteworthy podcast You University – The Personal Branding Podcast.
A lot of employees dread the traditional business meeting. In many cases, your employees could become bored and less likely to retain the information you’re providing. If you want your staff to be more likely to take something away from the meeting, you need to engage them. You need a platform that can keep their attention while delivering the materials you need them to understand.
Interactivity With Staff
Giving your staff a voice in the company does two things: empowers the employee and increases the likelihood of discovering new ways of doing things. Although you’re the boss and want things done a certain way, listen to the input of staff. You never know if an employee’s idea could save the company money or make the workflow more efficient.
An Engaging Presentation
Too many meetings use featureless and plain presentations to deliver information. Studies have shown that more engaging slideshows offer increased chances of retaining the information while improving focus on the topic. Improving these demonstrations, such as professional PowerPoint slide designs, can impact your workforce and enhance the outcome of the business meeting.
Catering to Excite the Masses
Catering can be anything from basic snacks or doughnuts to full dinners ordered from the local pizza parlor. Food helps attract the employees while filling their stomach. Studies have shown that people with food in their stomachs are more likely to retain and process information.
Focus on the Positive
Depending on the reason behind the business meeting, you’ll want to keep focus on the positive aspects. People who are encouraged to succeed in a positive manner are more likely to do so. Dwelling on negative aspects of the business can hurt morale and may be counter-productive to creating a strong work environment.
You should always lead by example. The more energetic and positive you are, the more likely the staff will be as well. According to various studies, an employer who demonstrates a positive frame of mind and is energetic affects the mindset of those around him or her. This often leads to a happier and more productive workplace.
You don’t have to stick to the mundane and plain business meeting. Getting the staff excited about working for the company can help keep employees on staff while improving their need for success. Don’t think of it as bribing them to do a good job. Think of it as an investment to keep quality staff working to benefit the business as a whole.
In economics, wealth is defined as the net worth of an individual, that is, the value of assets owned by the individual net of all liabilities owed at a given point of time. For a layman, wealth could simply mean being rich. Well, wealth is much beyond these two definitions.
Deloitte, the audit, tax, consulting, enterprise risk and financial advisory services provider defines wealth as follows:
Wealth is the ownership of valuable resources. Wealth creation involves the building of assets by means of careful investment, usually over a long period so as to achieve an income stream that will ensure a continuation of a high-quality lifestyle in the years beyond retirement.
In a nutshell, wealth creation should give you the financial freedom to do what you want to do. For the purpose of long term wealth creation you need to carefully invest your savings over a long period of time so as to ensure that you have a sufficient corpus to meet your financial goals at different milestones of your life child education and marriage, home, and retirement. Hence, a disciplined and systematic investment approach is necessary for wealth creation.
Now, the question is where to invest for wealth creation. The answer to this question really depends on various factors such as your financial goals, age, number of dependents and risk appetite.
There is no one approach for creating wealth but it depends on every individual circumstances and personal choices. Various factors such as financial goals, market risk, return on investments, market volatility should be considered while investing. Your investment is likely to fall in four major asset categories over your lifetime.
Equity includes any money invested in direct equity, mutual funds, exchange traded funds (ETF) and unit linked plans. The value of equity investment fluctuates as per the performance of funds. They can give high returns in the long run, however, they are highly volatile too, especially in the short term. Moreover, you need to be an experienced investor to ensure you are picking up right equity funds.
Also known as fixed income funds, they mainly comprise of Fixed Deposits (FDs), Public Provident Fund (PPF), National Saving Certificate (NSC) and government bonds to name a few. They give a fixed interest every year, along with the return of the principal amount at the time of maturity. Safety of principal amount and the regular income are the two important features of investment in debt. While the returns are fixed and guaranteed, but they are not high enough to give you edge after discounting for inflation and taxation.
Investment in real estate includes every property that you buy residential, commercial or land as well as the real estate mutual funds. The gradual increase in prices gives more stability to investment. Moreover, regular income can be earned if the property is rented out and the returns on investment can be increased by renovations and repairs. While the real estate market is less volatile compared to the equity market, there might be phases when real estate prices experience volatility. Also, you need to make large capital investments in real estate and it is difficult to sell property quickly. The sale of property is subject to capital gain tax, TDS and some other taxes (depending if the property being sold is constructed or under construction), which eventually lower the net returns from real estate investment. This makes real estate investment rank lower on liquidity and returns on investment parameter.
Commodities include precious metals such as silver and gold in the form of coins, bars, ETF and mutual funds. Commodity investment is perhaps the easiest form of investment and can be bought or sold at any point of time as per your financial requirements. Over the long-term, investment in gold and silver can give high dividends and they can be easily mortgaged for availing loans. However, there are no tax advantages and fixed or regular income. Further, people have a tendency to stock up gold and silver rather than selling it. So, that makes commodities a less liquid investment.
Every asset category has its own risk and return profile, so does an investor. There are several investment plans to consider if you plan to invest in equity and debt instruments.
A mutual fund is an investment option in which money obtained from various individuals is invested in the securities like stocks, shares, bonds or commodities. Mutual fund schemes charge a small percentage of your investment as fees each year for professional and expert management of your investment. So your risk of losing money through investments is reduced in compared to if you decide to invest directly in the market without having the requisite expertise. There are different kinds of mutual funds such as equity, debt and balanced funds. So, you can accelerate your wealth management goal by investing in different mutual fund schemes depending on the risk you can bear.
However, returns on a mutual fund are by no means guaranteed as they are subject to the performance of funds. If you want to switch from one fund to another, there is no such option available. The only way to protect your investment is to completely exit by paying an exit load and then pay an entry load again if you wish to re-invest. So, if your investment amount in mutual funds is huge, the net returns will get affected.
Public Provident Fund (PPF)
One of the safest debt instruments, PPF investment currently gives an annual interest of 8.75% on deposit amount between Rs500 to Rs1,50,000 every year. The interest and returns on maturity amount is not taxable. However, the downside is that there is a lock in period of 15 years. The only option is partial withdrawal after after completion of 5 years from the date of opening this account.
Fixed Deposits (FDs)
FDs are a safe investment for a conservative investor since it provides a fixed rate of interest and can be easily converted to cash in case of emergency. But, the actual benefits or income from fixed deposit are annulled by the increasing inflation and tax cut. Let’s take an example here. You invested Rs 1,00,000 in tax saving fixed deposits five years back.
|Principal Amount Invested (A)||1,00,0000|
|Interest Rate (B)||10% per annum|
|Current Inflation Rate (C)||5%|
|Net Interest Yield (B – C)||4%|
Though you will get returns @ 10%, effectively you will get only 4% after factoring in inflation. The final effective return would be even lesser after deducting tax.
Term Insurance Plans
A term Insurance plan is the purest and simplest insurance plan that provides a huge life insurance cover at a very low cost for the specified period of time. If the policyholder dies during the policy term, the death benefit (sum assured or life cover amount) is paid to the nominee. The premium as well as death benefit are tax-free. There is no maturity benefit, though. An investment in a term insurance plan is highly recommended for your peace of mind and to ensure financial security of your dependents after you are not around.
Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs)
ULIPs are a goal-based investment that provides the benefit of insurance protection with strong wealth creation opportunities. A part of money invested in ULIPs is directed towards your life cover and the residual portion is invested in equity, debt or balanced funds of your choice. Though the returns on your investment is market-linked, you have a control over it since you have the flexibility to switch funds from equity to debt or vice versa at no cost, as per your financial goals and market fluctuations.
ULIPs have given steady returns over the last few years. ULIPs with an aggressive fund allocation (50-75% of the portfolio in stocks) have risen to 28.62% from 9.73% in the last five years.
ULIPs have a greater tax advantage too. Under Section 80C of the Income Tax of India a deduction (maximum of Rs 1,50,000) from the taxable income of individual is provided for the premium paid on ULIPs. The capital gains, maturity benefit and death benefits are also exempted from tax under Section 10(10D). ULIPs from reputed private insurers like ICICI Prudential have proven performance and track record, thereby commanding a trust and respect of investors.
Ideally, your wealth portfolio should be a healthy mix of equity, debt, real estate and commodities. But, again how and where you invest depends on your wealth creation goals and risk-return trade-off you are willing to take off. What you must remember is that wealth creation is not an overnight phenomenon. You must be disciplined, systematic and committed in your wealth creation approach.