UK Corporations Feeling the Financial Crunch, But Do not Panic As Advice is Available!

Your business may not be a high-profile company that makes headlines every month but that does not mean you can not have the same problems as Northern Rock or Bradford & Bingley. After years of being successful and profitable you may find that your company is currently having financial difficulties and you need more cash. Before you set out to raise more cash any way you can imagine, take the time to speak to a lawyer and discuss all your legal options.

It is important that any business acts early when they start to see a decline in finances. You need to review your businesses cash flow on a regular basis even if you have an accountant or a financial department. Whilst you may delegate the financial process of your company to other people, do not make the mistake of not reviewing the financial statements. Stay up-to-date with your company's finances and you will be able to adjust quickly when financial difficulties start to appear.

If you do find your business is in need of more cash do not panic and start making poor decisions that could jeopardize your business. Whilst it is important to plan for a downtimes and be proactive before the creditors start calling, sometimes the problem will catch you by surprise and you may find yourself needing to take action quickly. The Companies Act of 2006 sets out the duties directors owe a company and you need to ensure that you follow these guidelines. Speaking to a lawyer can help you keep on top of the current regulations and verify that your company is following all the appropriate laws for every country your company does business in.

If you trade while insolvent you could be breaking the law. Whilst you may be panicked due to your company's cash flow problems, it is important to take the advice of your lawyers and financial personnel in order to make sensible and legal decisions for your business. You may need to make some tough choices that require you to change the structure of your business. You may need to let some of your employees go but whatever decisions you need to make you should discuss your choices with a lawyer to always confirm you are following the appropriate laws correctly.

It is understandable to make foolish and short sided decisions when your business is in trouble. If you built a large company from the ground up, you may be feeling that the company's financial problems are your own problems. It is important that during tough financial time you take charge and make arrangement with any creditors.

If you need assistance in negotiating settlements and arrangements with creditors a experienced solicitor can assist you with the process.

It may be possible to sell off the shares in the company or the company assets instead of liquidating the entire company or filing for bankruptcy. You may be able to save your company and rebuild once your cash issues are resolved. A solicitor can help you plan your business future and keep you focused during a very difficult time in your business career.

This article is free to republish provided the authors resource box below remains intact.

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Building a Kingdom – Case Study of Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited

This article presents a case study of sustained entrepreneurial growth of Kingdom Financial Holdings. It is one of the entrepreneurial banks which survived the financial crisis that started in Zimbabwe in 2003. The bank was established in 1994 by four entrepreneurial young bankers. It has grown substantially over the years. The case examines the origins, growth and expansion of the bank. It concludes by summarizing lessons or principles that can be derived from this case that maybe applicable to entrepreneurs.

Profile of an Entrepreneur: Nigel Chanakira

Nigel Chanakira was raised in the Highfield suburb of Harare in an entrepreneurial family. His father and uncle operated a public transport company Modern Express and later diversified into retail shops. Nigel’s father later exited the family business. He bought out one of the shops and expanded it. During school holidays young Nigel, as the first born, would work in the shops. His parents, particularly his mother, insisted that he acquire an education first.

On completion of high school, Nigel failed to enter dental or medical school, which were his first passions. In fact his grades could only qualify him for the Bachelor of Arts degree programme at the University of Zimbabwe. However, he “sweet-talked his way into a transfer” to the Bachelor in Economics degree programme. Academically he worked hard, exploiting his strong competitive character that was developed during his sporting days. Nigel rigorously applied himself to his academic pursuits and passed his studies with excellent grades, which opened the door to employment as an economist with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

During his stint with the Reserve Bank, his economic mindset indicated to him that wealth creation was happening in the banking sector therefore he determined to understand banking and financial markets. While employed at RBZ, he read for a Master’s degree in Financial Economics and Financial Markets as preparation for his debut into banking. At the Reserve Bank under Dr Moyana, he was part of the research team that put together the policy framework for the liberalization of the financial services within the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme. Being at the right place at the right time, he became aware of the opportunities which were opening up. Nigel exploited his position to identify the most profitable banking institution to work for as preparation for his future. He headed to Bard Discount House and worked for five years under Charles Gurney.

A short while later the two black executives at Bard, Nick Vingirayi and Gibson Muringai, left to form Intermarket Discount House. Their departure inspired the young Nigel. If these two could establish a banking institution of their own so could he, given time. The departure also created an opportunity for him to rise to fill the vacancy. This gave the aspiring banker critical managerial experience. Subsequently he became a director for Bard Investment Services where he gained critical experience in portfolio management, client relationships and dealing within the dealing department. While there he met Franky Kufa, a young dealer who was making waves, who would later become a key co-entrepreneur with him.

Despite his professional business engagement his father enrolled Nigel in the Barclays Bank “Start Your Own Business” Programme. However what really made an impact on the young entrepreneur was the Empretec Entrepreneur Training programme (May 1994), to which he was introduced by Mrs Tsitsi Masiyiwa. The course demonstrated that he had the requisite entrepreneurial competences.

Nigel talked Charles Gurney into an attempted management buy-out of Bard from Anglo -American. This failed and the increasingly frustrated aspiring entrepreneur considered employment opportunities with Nick Vingirai’s Intermarket and Never Mhlanga’s National Discount House which was on the verge of being formed – hoping to join as a shareholder since he was acquainted with the promoters. He was denied this opportunity.

Being frustrated at Bard and having been denied entry into the club by pioneers, he resigned in October 1994 with the encouragement of Mrs Masiyiwa to pursue his entrepreneurial dream.

The Dream

Inspired by the messages of his pastor, Rev. Tom Deuschle, and frustrated at his inability to participate in the church’s massive building project, Nigel sought a way of generating huge financial resources. During a time of prayer he claims that he had a divine encounter where he obtained a mandate from God to start Kingdom Bank. He visited his pastor and told him of this encounter and the subsequent desire to start a bank. The godly pastor was amazed at the 26 year old with “big spectacles and wearing tennis shoes” who wanted to start a bank. The pastor prayed before counselling the young man. Having been convinced of the genuineness of Nigel’s dream, the pastor did something unusual. He asked him to give a testimony to the congregation of how God was leading him to start a bank. Though timid, the young man complied. That experience was a powerful vote of confidence from the godly pastor. It demonstrates the power of mentors to build a protégé.

Nigel teamed up with young Franky Kufa. Nigel Chanakira left Bard at the position of Chief Economist. They would build their own entrepreneurial venture. Their idea was to identify players who had specific competences and would each be able to generate financial resources from his activity. Their vision was to create a one – stop financial institution offering a discount house, an asset management company and a merchant bank. Nigel used his Empretec model to develop a business plan for their venture. They headhunted Solomon Mugavazi, a stockbroker from Edwards and Company and B. R. Purohit, a corporate banker from Stanbic. Kufa would provide money market expertise while Nigel provided income from government bond dealings as well as overall supervision of the team.

Each of the budding partners brought in an equal portion of the Z$120,000 as start-up capital. Nigel talked to his wife and they sold their recently acquired Eastlea home and vehicles to raise the equivalent of US$17,000 as their initial capital. Nigel, his wife and three kids headed back to Highfield to live in with his parents. The partners established Garmony Investments which started trading as an unregistered financial institution. The entrepreneurs agreed not to draw a salary in their first year of operations as a bootstrapping strategy.

Mugavazi introduced and recommended Lysias Sibanda, a chartered accountant, to join the team. Nigel was initially reluctant as each person had to bring in an earning capacity and it was not clear how an accountant would generate revenue at start up in a financial institution. Nigel initially retained a 26% share which assured him a blocking vote as well as giving him the position of controlling shareholder.

Nigel credits the Success Motivation Institute (SMI) course “The Dynamics of Successful Management” as the lethal weapon that enabled him to acquire managerial competences. Initially he insisted that all his key executives undertake this training programme.

Birth of the Kingdom

Kingdom Securities P/L commenced operations in November 1994 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Garmony Investments (Pvt) Ltd. It traded as a broker on both money and stock markets.

On 24th February 1995 Kingdom Securities Holding was born with the following subsidiaries: Kingdom Securities Ltd, Kingdom Stockbrokers (Pvt) Ltd and Kingdom Asset Managers (Pvt) Ltd. The flagship Kingdom Securities Ltd was registered as a Discount House under Banking Act Chapter 188 on 25th July 1995. Kingdom Stockbrokers was registered with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange under ZSE Chapter 195 on 1st August 1995. The pre-licensing trading had generated good revenue but they still had a 20% deficit of the required capital. Most institutional investors turned them down as they were a greenfield company promoted by people perceived to be “too young”. At this stage National Merchant Bank, Intermarket and others were on the market raising equity and these were run by seasoned and mature promoters. However Rachel Kupara, then MD for Zimnat, believed in the young entrepreneurs and took up the first equity portion for Zimnat at 5%.

Norman Sachikonye, then Financial Director and Investments Manager at First Mutual followed suit, taking up an equity share of 15%. These two institutional investors were inducted as shareholders of Kingdom Securities Holdings on 1st August 1995. Garmony Investments ceased operations and reversed itself into Kingdom Securities on 31st July 1995, thereby becoming an 80% shareholder.

The first year of operations was marked by intense competition as well as discrimination against new financial institutions by public organisations. All the other operating units performed well except for the corporate finance department with Kingdom Securities, led by Purohit. This monetary loss, differing spiritual and ethical values led to the forced departure of Purohit as an executive director and shareholder on 31st December 1995. From then the Kingdom started to grow exponentially.

Structural Growth

Nigel and his team pursued an aggressive growth strategy with the intention of increasing market share, profitability, and geographic spread while developing a strong brand. The growth strategy was built around a business philosophy of simplifying financial services and making them easily accessible to the general public. An IT strategy that created a low cost delivery channel exploiting ATMs and POS while providing a platform that was ready for Internet and web-based applications, was espoused.

On 1st April 1997, Kingdom Financial Services was licensed as an accepting house focusing on trading and distributing foreign currency, treasury activities, corporate finance, investment banking and advisory services. It was formed under the leadership of Victor Chando with the intention of becoming the merchant banking arm of the Group. In 1998, Kingdom Merchant Bank (KMB) was licensed and it took over the assets and liabilities of Kingdom Securities Limited. Its main focus was treasury related products, off-balance sheet finance, foreign currency and trade finance. Kingdom Research Institute was established as a support service to the other units.

The entrepreneurial bankers, cognisant of their limitations, sought to achieve critical mass quickly by actively seeking capital injection from equity investors. The aim was to broaden ownership while lending strategic support in areas of mutual interest. An attempt at equity uptake from Global Emerging Markets from London failed. However in 1997 the efforts of the bankers were rewarded when the following organisations took up some equity, reducing the shareholding of executive directors as shown below: ïEUR Ipcorn 0.7%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund Mauritius P/L 1.1%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund P/L 0.7%. ïEUR Kingdom Employee Share Trust 5%, ïEUR Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund – 8% redeemable preference shares amounting to US$1,5m as the first investee company in Southern Africa from the US Fund initiated by US President Bill Clinton, ïEUR Weiland Investments, a company belonging to Mr Richard Muirimi, a long standing friend of Nigel and associate in the fund management business took up 1.7%, Garmony Investments 71.7% -executive directors. ïEUR After a rights issue Zimnat fell to 4.8% while FML went down to 14.3%.

In 1998, Kingdom launched four Unit Trusts which proved very popular with the market. Initially these products were focused at individual clients of the discount house as well as private portfolios of Kingdom Stockbroking. Aggressive marketing and awareness campaigns established the Kingdom Unit Trust as the most popular retail brand of the group. The Kingdom brand was thus born.

Acquisition of Discount Company of Zimbabwe (DCZ)

After a spurt of organic growth, the Kingdom entrepreneurs decided to hasten the growth rate synergistically. They set out to acquire the oldest discount house in the country and the world, The Discount Company of Zimbabwe, which was a listed entity. With this acquisition Kingdom would acquire critical competences as well as achieve the much coveted ZSE listing inexpensively through a reverse listing. Initial efforts at a negotiated merger with DCZ were rebuffed by its executives who could not countenance a forty year old institution being swallowed up by a four year old business. The entrepreneurs were not deterred. Nigel approached his friend Greg Brackenridge at Stanbic to finance and effect the acquisition of the sixty percent shares which were in the hands of about ten shareholders, on behalf of Kingdom Financial Holdings but to be placed in the ownership of Stanbic Nominees. This strategy masked the identity of the acquirer. Claud Chonzi, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) GM and a friend to Lysias Sibanda (a Kingdom executive director), agreed to act as a front in the negotiations with the DCZ shareholders. NSSA is a well known institutional investor and hence these shareholders may have believed that they were dealing with an institutional investor. Once Kingdom controlled 60% of DCZ, it took over the company and reverse listed itself onto the Stock Exchange as Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited (KFHL). Because of the negative real interest rates, Kingdom successfully used debt finance to structure the acquisition. This acquisition and the subsequent listing gave the once despised young entrepreneurs confidence and credibility on the market.

Other Strategic Acquisitions

Within the same year Kingdom Merchant Bank acquired a strategic stake in CFX Bureau de Change owned by Sean Maloney as well as another stake in a greenfield microlending franchise, Pfihwa P/L. CFX was changed into KFX and used in most foreign currency trading activities. KFHL set as a strategic intention the acquisition of an additional 24.9% stake in CFX Holdings to safeguard the initial investment and ensure management control. This did not work out. Instead, Sean Maloney opted out and took over the failed Universal Merchant Bank licence to form CFX Merchant Bank. Although Kingdom executives contend that the alliance failed due to the abolition of bureau de change by government, it appears that Sean Maloney refused to give up control of the extra shareholding sought by Kingdom. It therefore would be reasonable that once Kingdom could not control KFX, a fall out ensued. The liquidation of this investment in 2002 resulted in a loss of Z$403 million on that investment. However this was manageable in light of the strong group profitability.

Pfihwa P/L financed the informal sector as a form of corporate social responsibility. However when the hyperinflationary environment and stringent regulatory environment encroached on the viability of the project, it was wound up in early 2004. Kingdom pursued its financing of the informal sector through MicroKing, which was established with international assistance. By 2002 MicroKing had eight branches located in the midst of, or near, micro-enterprise clusters.

In 2000, due to increased activity on the foreign currency front within the banking sector, Kingdom opened a private banking facility through the discount house to exploit revenue streams from this market. Following market trends, it engaged the insurance company AIG to enter the bancassurance market in 2003.

Meikles Strategic Alliance

In 1999 the entrepreneurial Chanakira on advice from his executives and the legendary corporate finance team from Barclays bank led by the affable Hugh Van Hoffen entered into a strategic alliance with Meikles Africa whereby it injected some Z$322 million into Kingdom for an equity shareholding of 25%. Interestingly, the deal nearly collapsed on pricing as Meikles only wanted to pay $250 million whilst KFHL valued themselves at Z$322 million which in real terms was the largest private sector deal done between an indigenous bank and a listed corporate. Nigel testifies that it was a walk through the incomplete Celebration Church site on the Saturday preceding the signing of the Meikles deal that led him to sign the deal which he saw as a means for him to sow a whopping seed into the church to boost the Building Fund. God was faithful! Kingdom’s share price shot up dramatically from $2,15 at the time he made the commitment to the Pastor all the way to $112,00 by the following October!

In return Kingdom acquired a powerful cash-rich shareholder that allowed it entrance into retail banking through an innovative in-store banking strategy. Meikles Africa opened its retail branches, namely TM Supermarkets, Clicks, Barbours, Medix Pharmacies and Greatermans, as distribution channels for Kingdom commercial bank or as account holders providing deposits and requiring banking services. This was a cheaper way of entering retail banking. It proved useful during the 2003 cash crisis because Meikles with its massive cash resources within its business units assisted Kingdom Bank, thus cushioning it from a liquidity crisis. The alliance also raised the reputation and credibility of Kingdom Bank and created an opportunity for Kingdom to finance Meikles Africa’s customers through the jointly owned Meikles Financial Services. Kingdom provided the funding for all lease and hire purchases from Meikles’ subsidiaries, thus driving sales for Meikles while providing easy lending opportunities for Kingdom. Meikles managed the relationship with the client.

Meikles Africa as a strategic shareholder assured Kingdom of success when recapitalisation was required and has enhanced Kingdom’s brand image. This strategic relationship has created powerful synergies for mutual benefit.

Commercial Banking

Exploiting the opportunities arising from the strategic relationship with Meikles Africa, Kingdom made its debut into retail banking in January 2001 with in-store branches at High Glen and Chitungwiza TM supermarkets. The target was principally the mass market. This rode on the strong brand Kingdom had created through the Unit Trusts. In-store banking offered low cost delivery channels with minimal investment in brick and mortar. By the end of 2001, thirteen branches were operational across the country. This followed a deliberate strategy for aggressive roll-out of the branches with two flagship branches ïEUR­ïEUR one in Bulawayo and the other in Harare. There was a huge emphasis on an IT driven strategy with significant cross-selling between the commercial bank and other SBUs.

However, it was further discovered that there was a market for the upmarket clients and hence Crown banking outlets were established to diversify the target market. In 2004, after closing three in-store branches in a rationalization exercise, there were 16 in-store branches and 9 Crown banking outlets.

The entrance into commercial banking was probably held at the wrong time, considering the imminent changes in the banking industry. Commercial banking does provide cheap deposits, however at the price of huge staff costs and human resource management complications. Nigel concedes that, with hindsight, this could have been delayed or done at a slower pace. However, the need for increased market share in a fiercely competitive industry necessitated this. Another reason for persisting with the commercial banking project was that of prior agreements with Meikles Africa. It is possible that Meikles Africa had been sold on the equity take-up deal on the back of promises to engage in in-store banking, which would increase revenue for its subsidiaries.

Innovative Products and Services

KFHL continued its aggressive pursuit of product innovation. After the failure of the KFX project, CurrencyKing was established to continue the work. However this was abolished in November 2002 by government ministerial intervention when bureau de change were prohibited in an effort to stamp out parallel market foreign currency trading.

Sadly this governmental decision was misguided for not only did it fail to banish foreign currency parallel trading but it drove underground, made it more lucrative and subsequently the government lost all control of the management of the exchange rate.

In October 2002, KFHL established Kingdom Leasing after being granted a finance house licence. Its mandate was to exploit opportunities to trade in financial leases, lease hire and short term financial products.

Regional Expansion

Around 2000 it became evident that the domestic market was highly competitive, with limited prospects of future growth. A decision was made to diversify revenue streams and reduce country risk through penetration into the regional markets. This strategy would exploit the proven competences in securities trading, asset management and corporate advisory services from a small capital base. Therefore the entrance had low risk in terms of capital injection. Considering the foreign exchange control limitations and shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe, this was a prudent strategy but not without its downside, as will be seen in the Botswana venture.

In 2001, KFHL acquired a 25.1% stake in a greenfield banking enterprise in Malawi, First Discount House Ltd. To safeguard its investment and ensure managerial control, an executive director and dealer were seconded to the Malawi venture while Nigel Chanakira chaired the Board. This investment has continued to grow and yield positive returns. As of July 2006 Kingdom had finally managed to up its stake from 25,1% to 40% in this investment and may ultimately control it to the point of seeking a conversion of the license to a commercial bank.

KFHL also took up a 25% equity stake in Investrust Merchant Bank Zambia. Franky Kufa was seconded to it as an executive director while Nigel took a seat on the Board.

KFHL had been promised an option to gain a controlling stake. However when the bank stabilized, the Zambian shareholders entered into some questionable transactions and were not prepared to allow KFHL to up it’s stake and so KFHL decided to pull out as relationships turned frosty. The Zambian Central Bank intervened with a promise to grant KFHL its own banking license. This did not materialize as the Zambian Central Bank exploited the banking crisis in Zimbabwe to deny KHFL a licence. A reasonable premium of Z$2.5 billion was obtained at disinvestment.

In Botswana, a subsidiary called Kingdom Bank Africa Ltd (KBAL) was established as an offshore bank in the International Finance Centre. KBAL was intended to spearhead and manage regional initiatives for Kingdom. It was headed by Mrs Irene Chamney, seconded by Lysias Sibanda with the concurrence of Nigel after managerial challenges in Zimbabwe. Two other senior executives were seconded there. She successfully set up the KBAL’s banking infrastructure and had good relations with the Botswana authorities.

However, the business model chosen of an offshore bank ahead of a domestic Botswana merchant bank license turned out to be the Achilles heel of the bank more so when the Zimbabwe banking crisis set in between 2003 and 2005. There were fundamental differences in how Mrs Chamney and Chanakira saw the bank surviving and going forward.

Ultimately, it was deemed prudent for Mrs. Chamney to leave the bank in 2005. In 2001 KFHL acquired the mandate as the sole distributor of the American Express card in the whole of Africa except for RSA. This was handled through KBAL. Kingdom Private Bank was transferred from the discount house to become a subsidiary of KBAL due to the prevailing regulatory environment in Zimbabwe.

In 2004 KBAL was temporarily placed under curatorship due to undercapitalisation. At this stage the parent company had regulatory constraints that prevented foreign currency capital injection.

A solution was found in the sourcing of local partners and the transfer of US$1 million previously realised from the proceeds of the Investrust liquidation to Botswana. Nigel Chanakira took a more active management role in KBAL because of its huge strategic significance to the future of KFHL. Currently efforts are underway to acquire a local commercial bank licence in Botswana as well. Once this is acquired there are two possible scenarios, namely maintaining both licences or giving up the offshore licence.

The interviewees were divided in their opinion on this. However in my view, judging from the stakeholder power involved, KFHL is likely to give up the off shore banking licence and use the local Kingdom Bank Botswana (Pula Bank) licence for regional and domestic expansion.

Human Resources

The staff complement grew from the initial 23 in 1995 to more than 947 by 2003. The growth was consistent with the growing institution. It exploded, especially during the launch and expansion of the commercial bank. Kingdom from inception had a strong human resourcing strategy which entailed significant training both internally and externally. Before the foreign currency crisis, employees were sent for training in such countries as RSA, Sweden, India and the USA. In the person of Faith Ntabeni Bhebhe, Kingdom had an energetic HR driver who created powerful HR systems for the emerging behemoth.

As a sign of its commitment to building the human resource capability, in 1998 Kingdom Financial Services entered a management agreement with Holland based AMSCO for the provision of seasoned bankers. Through this strategic alliance Kingdom strengthened its skills base and increased opportunities for skills transfer to locals. This helped the entrepreneurial bankers create a solid managerial system for the bank while the seasoned bankers from Holland compensated for the youthfulness of the emerging bankers. What a foresight!

In-house self-paced interactive learning, team building exercises and mentoring were all part of the learning menu targeted at developing the human resource capacity of the group. Work and job profiling was introduced to best match employees to suitable posts. Career path and succession planning were embraced. Kingdom was the first entrepreneurial bank to have smooth unforced CEO transitions. The founding CEO passed on the baton to Lysias Sibanda in 1999 as he stepped into the role of Group CEO and board deputy chair. His role was now to pursue and spearhead global and regional niche financial markets. A few years later there was another change of the guard as

Franky Kufa stepped in as Group CEO to replace Sibanda, who resigned on medical grounds. One could argue that these smooth transitions were due to the fact that the baton was passing to founding directors.

With the explosive growth in staff complement due to the commercial bank project, culture issues emerged. Consequently, KFHL engaged in an enculturation programme resulting in a culture revolution dubbed “Team Kingdom”. This culture had to be reinforced due to dilutions through significant mergers and acquisitions, significant staff turnover because of increased competition, emigration to greener pastures and the age profile of the staff increased the risk of high mobility and fraudulent activities in collusion with members of the public. Culture changes are difficult to effect and their effectiveness even harder to assess.

In 2004, with a high staff turnover of around 14%, a compensation strategy that ring fenced critical skills like IT and treasury was implemented. Due to the low margins and the financial stress experienced in 2004, KFHL lost more than 341 staff members due to retrenchment, natural attrition and emigration. This was acceptable as profitability fell while staff costs soared. At this stage, staff costs accounted for 58% of all expenses.

Despite the impressive growth, the financial performance when inflation adjusted was mediocre. Actually a loss position was reported in 2004. This growth was severely compromised by the hyperinflationary conditions and the restrictive regulatory environment.

Conclusion

This article shows the determination of entrepreneurs to push through to the realisation of their dreams despite significant odds. In a subsequent article we will tackle the challenges faced by Nigel Chanakira in solidifying his investments.

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How To Choose A Home Loan

Finding the best loan means that you will have to look and see which one best fits your particular situation. Since people have different ideas about buying a home, you will need to look around and find one based on your needs. Here are some different home loan types to help give you an idea of ​​what is available.

Probably before you do anything else, it would be a real good idea to sit down and figure out just what you want to do about your house. Do you intend to stay there the rest of your life, just a few years, or perhaps as many as 15? After that, then what are your goals relating a house? If you are planning on selling and buying another one, will you want a larger one or a smaller house? Also, try to get an idea where you reasonably will be financially at that time. Each of these aspects will help you to plan more accurately and help you determine what kind of mortgage you need.

All home loans will fall into one of two categories. It is either a fixed rate mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage. Fixed rate mortgages (FRM) means that your payments and interest stay the same without any changes. The adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), on the other hand, will have a fixed rate for part of its term, and then will go to an interest rate that changes either monthly or annually. This also means that your payment changes, too, with the current national rates.

Short Term Plans

If you have short plans for buying and selling your new home, then there are some home loans that will be better for you than others. A balloon mortgage gives you the advantage of low payments because, while it is based on 30 years, it will become due after 5, 7, or 15 years. Being that an ARM changes with the market, it will be lower than an FRM, and should be rather stable for the short term. The balloon payment will be due at the end of the year you choose, but you can sell it before that time comes. If you change your mind about selling it though, then you will have to refinance it at whatever the current interest rate is at the time.

Long Term Plans

Buying a house for the long term means that you want the best program for that, as well. Many people got ARM's so that they could buy a larger house, but then they take the risk that the rates will not rise too high after the adjustable rate portion kicks into operation – or else they plan on refinancing. You should determine whether or not to use an ARM if the current interest rates appear to be somewhat stable. Of course, there are no guarantees, but an FRM will definitely provide a hedge against it.

In the long haul, though, you can always refinance – no matter what you have. Costs will need to be considered before you do, and it will be easier to sell if you allow equity to be built up in the house (avoid creating negative equity). Home loans need to be researched carefully to find the best deal. Also watch out for early payout penalties, which actually penalize you for being thrifty enough to pay it off early.

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Investing Mining Stocks and Warrants

The Canadian Dollar is now one of the strongest currencies in the world and there have been many forecasts of parity with the U.S. Dollar and as of today, the Loonie is trading at 90.35 as we write this article.

The first and second charts below shows the strength of the Loonie over the last year and the third chart is of the XAU Gold Index. Observe the long term trends in all of the charts.

For investors around the world how can you best position yourselves to benefit from the rising value of the Canadian Dollar?

If you are like many of us, you are currently participating in the bull market in the commodities sector, specifically, in the precious metals, i.e., gold, silver, copper, zinc, etc. If you are not on board this rally perhaps we can enlighten you to some different ways to benefit not only from the Canadian Dollar but also from your investments.

When an investor purchases shares in the Canadian mining companies you are in essence invested in the Canadian Dollar. With the Canadian dollar increasing relative to your country’s currency, your investment is increasing. As the value of your Canadian investments increases, you win again. Thus, you gain from the increasing in the currency as well as the increase in your investments in the mining shares or perhaps, long-term warrants on the mining shares.

The point is, currently investors are experiencing the best of both worlds and we would expect this trend to continue with normal corrections along the way for at least several more years.

We, as investors ourselves, prefer to defer to the experts, Jim Dines, Doug Casey, Pam & Mary Ann Aden, James Turk and others as to the continued direction and strength of the current bull market.

Perhaps you are a conservative investor and neither you nor your investment advisor are currently aware of the bull market in the commodity sector. We believe that soon, within the next few months or within the year, you, yes, you will be investing in this sector, so the choice is yours, now or later.

Investors have many wonderful opportunities for investments from the gold and silver bullion, ETF’s of gold and silver, mutual funds, mining shares and for those investors looking for additional leverage, long-term warrants on mining shares, some of which do not expire until 2011.

As the experts mentioned above believe, this bull market has strong legs and many years to run, we accordingly suggest investors position themselves and not to worry about the day to day fluctuations of the market.

The important thing for all investors is to recognize the big picture, take a position and enjoy what may be the ride of our lifetime.

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Co-Signing a Loan

When you co-sign any type of loan, you are taking on the risk the lender
would not; ensuring that the person you co-sign for is going to make the
payments. If they do not, you are going to be responsible for the owed debt.

When determining if you should co-sign a loan for someone, you need to consider
the following:

– Will you be able to pay the loan if the borrower goes into default? If
you can not, not only will your credit be adversely affected, you can be sued by
the lending creditor.

– When you co-sign a loan, your chances for obtaining approval for a loan for
your own personal use Declines because of your current obligation. More
specifically, the debt you co-sign for is considered your debt.

– If you secure the loan you co-sign for with some sort of personal
property, ie your home or car, you run the risk of having these items taken
away from you if the loan goes into default and you can not pay.

– If the borrower does not pay their loan, not only will you become
responsible for the debt, you are also going to be responsible for any of the
late fees and collections associated with the over-due debt.

You should also do the following when co-signing a loan:

– Get in touch with the lender and make sure that you will be contacted in
writing as soon as soon as the borrower is late on a payment. This will give you
time to get in touch with the borrower and fix the situation before the account
goes into collections. If the account does enter into collections, you will be
responsible for paying off the entire debt at one time.

– Get a hold of copies of all the stipulations and terms of the loan.

Some More Advice to Follow If You Are Going to Co-Sign a Loan

Prior to co-signaling, you should contact the creditor to see if your can
negotiate your liability if the loan goes into default. More specifically, you
can have your liability changed so that you only are obliged to pay only the
loan balance and not any other late fees. It is always a good idea to get any
final, negotiated Clauses in writing.

What Are the Benefits of Being a Loan Co-signer?

Co-singing a loan can be a good idea if you are certain that the borrower is
going to repay the money. For example, co-signaling makes sense if you are
the parent of a child with no credit, but a steady income, looking to buy a home
for the first time. You will help your child get the mortgage financing them
are looking for, while helping build their credit rating.

It is very common for someone's credit to be adversely affected as a result of
divorce. This will hurt their ability to get approved for loans and credit even
though they have a steady income. Co-singing a small personal loan in this
instance will help them re-establish their credit.

In conclusion …

As mentioned, there are instances when co-signing a loan is harmless.
However, the majority of the time, it is a very risky move. As a matter of fact,
studies have shown that co-signers end up paying the debt of the borrower 80% of
the time. When co-signing any loan for any purpose, friend of family, PROCEED
WITH CAUTION!

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Brown Seaweed

On this wonderful place called earth there are many bodies of water that brown seaweed thrives, however not all these places that it grows under the water is pristine and pure free of contaminants that can harm people if it is consumed by them.

It is for this very reason I chose to write this, I have traveled the world and many of the locations that the native persons are harvesting this brown seaweed are in shipping lanes and so forth. They do this because they are well aware of the truly life sustaining properties of it.

And they eat it in there daily diet in its raw form. Even though it is a little hard on ones pallet, they still do this because it is grate grateful to there body. You see it's briny and rubbery to the taste.

You see this brown seaweed gathers its vitamins and nutrients from the water and sun shining through the water as it grows, so anything floating in the water or in the soil it grows in is absorbed in the brown seaweed.

This is a concern of mine and others, because things like Mercury, lead and other things can be very harmful if consumed. So it is very important to get the brown seaweed from the purest places, one of those places is around the islands of Tonga.

There are no shipping lanes there at all, and it is the purest waters there are, the brown seaweed grows there in grape abundance. And you should know that the business that I'm in not only has it in a liquid form that 15 years was spent developing the cold process.

But also owns the rights to this process, And for your information not only can you buy brown seaweed bottled and mixed with mangos, papayas, apples and pears so it taste really good, It is way more potent than just eating it in it's raw form !

Furthermore you can get residual income while investing in your health from this very beneficial brown seaweed! The people of Tonga and Asia have known this for thousands of years! And now you know. Start using this knowledge.

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A Tour of Forex Trading Tools

In foreign exchange (forex) trading, brokerage companies offer their clients different types of tools to help them succeed. Also referred to as FX, foreign exchange markets are unique and complex. The brokerage company provides our clients with essential forex tools such as margin and pip calculators as well as a currency converter to ensure people trading in forex have a safe and secure trading experience.

Each of the brokerage company's FX tools has been specifically designed to enable customers to have the most efficient resources available, providing the most recent precise information. As a result, data streams and live prices are delivered to the broker's FX tools in real time. As a result, people trading are able to make informed trading transactions.

Calculating Margin
This FX calculator helps the person trading currency to decide on the selling price for currency pairs to attain the preferred profit margin. Depending on the specific tool provided, the trader would simply enter the trade size and select the currency pair in the preferred account currency.

Next, the person planning a trade would then enter the leakage necessary and click on the calculate button which, by design, generates the required selling price and gross margin.

Calculating Currency
The brokerage company currency converter is a simple FX tool to convert a set amount of one currency to another. It features twenty three different contexts.

The trader chooses the desired amount and the appropriate currency from the list provided. The prices are updated in real time by the brokerage company.

Next, the person trading should choose the currency that they want to convert. The next step is to use the calculate feature. The FX currency calculator then gives the value based upon the live market pricing.

Calculating Pip
A pip is the least change that can be made in a given exchange. The FX pip calculator provides the value per pip in the trader's account currency for all major currency pairs. All values ​​are based on real-time brokerage company currency rates.

A pip calculator can be an important tool in the preparation and creation of an assessment of forex trades.

The individual punches in the preferred trading amount in units, then chooses the desired currency pair. The trader then chooses the currency they wish to have the figure converted into.

Activating the calculation button obtains the pip value for the currency chosen using market prices from live forex trading.

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Is a House a Good Investment For You?

Are you among the crowd who is still thinking of where to invest the money they earned from years of working hard? There may have been unsolicited advises convincing you to put your share on various networking companies. Some may have even told you to put up a startup company. But is this the most practical thing you could probably do to your money? Perhaps, yes, if its your choice.

However, investing has its ups and downs depending on the industry you’re going to delve into. Yet, do you know that buying a house or owning one is one of the most intelligent investments you would probably make. Why?

Homes can be turned into rental properties. With necessary adjustments and with proper leasing or rental documents, you can turn your house into an additional income stream. What’s even good is rental fees tend to increase on regular intervals. There are persons who often move because of job changes. They constantly look for homes which they can rent, and yours can be their next rental homes.

Depending on a home’s location, it can also be a perfect vacation house. Typically, families, especially those with children, and those which embrace the concept of extended families – do love to have vacation houses. During specific periods of the year, the house can serve as a reunion spot for relatives to gather. So, thinking of having a vacation house? Should it be near a beach, the woods, or perhaps one that offers mountainview or cityview otherwise?

Home values typically increase. Thus, if you’re going to put your house for a resale – chances are you’re going to get good profits. So you better ask your local real estate agent which areas have markets in which home prices experience surges. Commonly, these areas include those where professionals flock because of employment opportunities.

Buying a house is also seen by financial houses as a better investment than credit cards. This is one reason why there are many lenders that charge low-interest rates on home mortgages.

Are these reasons still not enough to convince you how good of an investment is owning a house? Another bonus benefit of owning a house is the local community attachment you’re going to build. You’re start to have acquaintances who’ll later become your friends. Your neighbors will likely become close to you like family. There will be some sort of emotional attachment.

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Welding Jobs: Ideas You Can Use At Home To Make Money Welding (No Boss While You Make $100,000)

What if you could make $100,000 a year welding from home?

What if you could make even an extra $500 a month from home, using your current skills? If you are a welder with basic welding skills and you are between jobs or you are being under paid in your current job, it might be worth your time to read this article – let’s think outside the box for just a minute on how you can make money welding from home.

From Home Welding # 1:

Teaching or tutoring any skill is a very profitable business. In any town of any size you’ll see at least one tutoring business in a strip mall brick and mortar location. In that same town will be at least a dozen other tutors working from home, making good money.

Yes, most of the time they are tutoring math and reading to students. Lean back and think about what skills you have that can also be used in a tutoring business you can set up and milk cash from, like milk from a cow.

Let’s say you are good enough with TIG to weld razor blades or pop can butts.

If you can teach a non welder to operate a TIG torch good enough to go on and practice on their own at their home in about 3 hours of your hands on theirs – they will pay up to $100 an hour for 3 hours of TIG instruction. Just 2 students a day would bring you $100,000 a year. If you think I’m kidding I’m NOT! There are many reasons why education is so valuable – and that includes intense, focused tutoring in welding.

6G pipe welding is the highest paid of all welding certifications – most 6G welders make $100k to $300k a year – and demand is crazy. However, if you are a 6G welder and you want to stay home, you can set up and teach 6G in your garage. Let’s say you do this with 7 students, each paying you $10,000 for a 3 month course. Yes, they will pay it – especially if you show them how they will have more time with your hand on theirs (the #1 secret to learning 6G fast).

From Home Welding # 2:

I was in Palm Springs the other day. I have been in and around the trades for 30 years… and when you see a tradesman’s truck and it is late model without dents or many scratches, clean, organized and well equipped, it means (99% of the time) that guy is making money.

I pulled up to a light behind just such a truck – “Joe’s BBQ Service and Repair.” That’s it – that is all Joe does. He will weld cast aluminum or steel. He’ll clean and polish. He’ll replace a burner or a control. OR he’ll buy your old unit and sell / or sell you a new one.

Yes, you need a town with a lot of high end BBQs. Other than that, go get it.

From Home Welding # 3:

Large steel cut outs. In art of all kinds, size matters. For example, 20 years ago we purchased two 4′ long coat racks – each is a piece of 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 1/8″ angle 4′ long with 6 horse shoes welded to the angle to hang the coats.

On the horizontal surface of the angle is welded a scene made of 7 horse and 7 tree cut-outs. We paid $185 for each of these 20 years ago… that would be about $300 a piece in today’s dollars.

The problem with you making these is that the 14 cut outs on each unit are too small too many to cut by hand – you need a computerized plasma table to make these.

Here is where the magic of size makes all the difference.

The artist who drew the cut outs on our coat rack was good. Each of the 7 horses is different and beautiful, as well as the trees. Any – or all of these – cut outs can be scaled up with chalk onto a sheet of say 4′ x 8′ x 3/16″ steel. Now, all you need is a plasma or an oxy torch to create the large version.

What would a horse cut from a 4′ x 8′ sheet sell for?

$300 to $700. It would depend on where you are and how you market it. Marketing is a large part of any business. Good marketing is not hard – you can do it.

You can see, if you could get a “business pipe” full of inventory and sales and you were delivering 2 horses a day, you could easily make $100k. The other major opportunity with big cut outs is gates. The key to all of this stuff in the art category is beautiful line drawings. If you are not an artist, hire one on the condition that they sign the copyright to you.

There are endless ideas to utilize even your most basic welding skills from home to make an excellent living or just extra money. The trick is:

Step A:

Find what will work best for you.

Step B:

Write out a simple plan of attack. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Many small businesses fail because the owner gets all wrapped up in the details and loses site of what is important. Here is what is important: Don’t spend money – MAKE MONEY!

Step C:

The first rule of business is to GET NOTICED. That is also the end goal of all marketing – once you have enough eyeballs on you, you will succeed. The common mistake is to leave marketing for last while concentrating on every little rule and piece of paper. A business license will do you no good if you don’t make money! Save your money and get it (if you really need one) when you make some money. Towns and cities will simply say, “do you have a business license?” When they ask, say: “I’m getting one now.”

Conclusion:

You are blessed to live in a country where you can go from nothing to something in a hurry. However, to get anywhere in a hurry requires running hard. You’ll never regret it.

What should you do next?

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Forex Trading Courses – Why They Are The Best Way to Learn Forex Quickly

If you want to learn Forex trading quickly and get on the road to Forex trading success, there are courses which can cut your learning curve and give you proven tools for success, lets look at the how the best courses can help you win.

Most new traders think there going to win by following an automated Forex robot and earn a regular income with no effort but in a market where 95% of traders lose, its obvious you need to make an effort and do some study. It is for this reason that more traders than ever before, are seeking out the best Forex courses.

The best courses are presented by experienced traders, who have been in the trenches and t have learned the hard way, they have made mistakes and found out what tools work and do not work and present you with proven strategies to help you enjoy currency trading success.

By giving you a proven Forex trading strategy, they cut your learning curve and all the best courses, will show you how their strategy works in real time, so you can see if it's profitable and in addition, gain confidence in the strategy so you can trade with confidence and discipline.

All the best courses are backed up by 100% money back guarantees, so you can learn with no risk and see if their strategy can lead you to success or not. You have the comfort of no risk and the fees for these courses are reasonable, usually around a hundred dollars so and this means any trader can afford them and one good trade will pay for them. The best courses will teach you skills that last a lifetime, full support from real traders and offer complete satisfaction or your money back.

So if you have ever wondered if you could become a successful Forex trader from home, try one of the best Forex trading courses and find out for yourself – risk free.

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