Simplifying Financial Planning

| July 28, 2015

article image
Your financial needs change from time to time. Comprehensive financial planning helps secure your monetary needs at every stage of your life. Watch how financial planning can help you fulfill your financial responsibilities and dreams throughout your life.

Spotlight

Crossmark Global Investments, Inc.

At Crossmark, we fundamentally believe that aligning with your values should be central to investment decisions. That's why we focus each day on delivering the tools, solutions, and innovation necessary to make investing with a purpose a reality. Crossmark Global Investments is an innovative investment management firm. We provide a full suite of investment management solutions to institutional investors, financial advisors and the clients they serve. We have a multi-decade legacy of specializing in responsible investment strategies for clients.

OTHER ARTICLES

Bitcoin, Rare & Gold Coins—Which Investment for You?

Article | March 19, 2021

Coin Conundrums: Expert vets 3 popular ‘flight to safety’ coin assets amid forecasted financial strife As the financial markets strive to rebound from what has been a hugely trying and tumultuous period, courtesy of a deadly global pandemic, we may need to brace ourselves for yet more trouble ahead. This as an ongoing Harvard Business School study predicts a 40% probability of a financial crisis in the next three years, which is largely based on unprecedented growth in credit coupled with the reality that interest rates will eventually rise, making debt service unbearable. “Now factor in over $10 trillion in global economic stimulus, as well as increases of 26% in the M2 money supply and 78% in the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet over the last year, and the lack of sustainability becomes readily apparent,” says alternative investment pundit Thomas Neptune, Esq. “As the economy artificially recovers and we inch toward full employment over the next few years, the reality is that the Federal Reserve is trapped. It only seems logical that the Fed will, at some point, be forced to raise interest rates to combat inflation, while doing so could put a giant pin in several asset price bubbles.” When financial markets collapse, it’s known that non-correlated “flight to safety” assets generally perform very well. Due to the heightened level state of uncertainty in the current climate, many investors are already increasing allocations to alterative investment vehicles like Cryptocurrency, U.S. rare coins and gold bullion coins while prices are relatively modest (depending, of course, on whom you ask). The question then becomes, which of these distinctive “coins” is right for you relative to your situational needs for downside protection, upside opportunity, inflation hedging and overall utility? Below, Neptune offers his analysis of all three. ** Bitcoin In simple terms, Bitcoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer payment system that utilizes an accounting ledger called the blockchain. Bitcoin is the unit of accounting. It can be used as a medium of exchange for some goods and services, but there has not been universal acceptance of Bitcoin as a form of payment. It has recently garnered attention as an asset class as the price has skyrocketed. Almost anyone can own a tiny fraction of a Bitcoin through sites such as Coinbase. Downside Protection The supply of Bitcoin is capped at $21 million, with approximately $18.5 million currently in circulation. The annual supply increases similar to that of gold, unlike monetary and fiscal policies that promote unlimited growth through the printing press. With 78% of the circulating Bitcoin classified as illiquid and not changing hands, there is not a high likelihood of sellers flooding the market. That being said, the price has been historically volatile as demand varies and competitor cryptocurrencies enter the market. Theoretically, the price could plummet to near-zero if demand shifts elsewhere or regulators step in with force, although Bitcoin has institutional traction and its loyal following is most likely here to stay. Upside Opportunity It is no secret that the price of Bitcoin has unlimited upside opportunity based on its supply and demand dynamics. Now almost everyone is getting in on the action. What might have been shocking news only a few years ago, even college endowments like Harvard, Yale, Brown and others have been placing bets on Bitcoin as have influential business leaders such as Elon Musk. It will be interesting to see whether Bitcoin can sustain its meteoric rise. Inflation Hedging As an inflation hedge, Bitcoin does not have a long track record, as it was created in 2009 just prior to a market expansion where we saw little inflation for the last decade. Although the supply may increase now at a rate consistent with inflation, its demand and the ensuing price history have been extremely volatile. As such, buyers are placing a bet that, regardless of their entry price, the performance of Bitcoin will outpace inflation over the long-term, despite high volatility. Overall Utility The technology around how Bitcoin is stored, sent and received is rapidly advancing. For example, the Bitpay wallet can now be added to Apple Pay to use Bitcoin as payment anywhere that accepts this type of monetary exchange. This is a significant development as there are over one billion active iPhones and these crypto-wallets can automatically settle transactions in the users’ currencies, potentially eliminating the risk of price volatility for transactions. Two other major benefits include portable wealth and instant liquidity for retail buyers. ** U.S. Rare Coins Collecting financial artifacts of various civilizations has been in high demand for over 2,000 years, from when wealthy Romans were collecting Greek coins up to the present day. Representing the birth of the United States economy, its sovereignty on the world stage and notable events throughout the nation’s history, the U.S. rare coins that have survived in spectacular condition have been in high demand from wealthy global collectors and investors since the birth of this young nation. Downside Protection There is a finite supply of high-end U.S. rare coins, which can be publicly verified on the census reports of the two major authentication companies: Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. These historical artifacts are not known to flood the market, as wealthy individuals with holding power generally do not need to liquidate them for less than their purchase price. Further, there is immense passion and competition to own the best trophies—why this market is known as the Hobby of Kings—which has evolved to sport for the affluent to locate and own these elusive artifacts in a private market. This passion-driven market with an extremely long track record has attracted investors to hold these highly sought-after assets as a long-term wealth protection strategy. As such, the market has demonstrated long term stability and steady price appreciation for well over a century based on these driven collectors and investors. Upside Opportunity The U.S. rare coin market has benefited from numerous advances in technology and other innovations, most recently the introduction of the two major certification companies in the 1980s, followed by the ubiquity of the Internet in the 2000s. Although the market has largely flown under the radar from institutional investors, there has been a massive increase in demand for U.S. rare coins over the last decade, which has ramped up during the pandemic, as wealthy individuals have more time to pursue their interests and compete (via a publicly available points system) to own the finest rare coin portfolios. According to Michael Contursi, Partner at Contursi Rare Coin Investments, “The high end of this market is currently dominated by ultra-wealthy, sophisticated collectors and investors who can afford to own multi-million dollar portfolios. Imagine if these assets could be fractionally owned by the masses. We are already currently seeing this in collectibles such as fine art and baseball cards. The upside for U.S. rare coins is astronomical when you consider the potential for an exponential increase in demand.” Inflation Hedging With unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, coupled with a finite supply of U.S. rare coins with intrinsic value, these assets have proven to be an excellent hedge against inflation due to this disequilibrium of supply and demand. As the least volatile of the three “coin” markets here, the high end value of the U.S. rare coin market can be a safe diversification tool for those seeking an inflation hedge, largely based on historical price appreciation data from the last 125 years. Overall Utility The two major certification companies secure these little treasures in sonically-welded holders with a certification number, barcode and other methods for protecting against counterfeit threats. Due to the weight and size of these items, owners can transport large amounts of wealth with extreme ease. Further, there are no reporting requirements for owning these assets, which makes them extremely private and can be a great way to retain wealth outside of the banking system in case of a financial meltdown or digital economy. ** Gold Bullion Coins There are many ways to participate in the gold (and silver) bullion markets, some of which include owning mining company stocks, futures contracts on the commodities exchanges, ETFs, or physical control. To this extent, gold bullion can be owned as both a digital asset (like Bitcoin) or a physical asset (like U.S. rare coins). Downside Protection Many people forget that from 1933 to 1975 it was illegal for Americans to own gold in the United States. Since then, investors have been making small allocations to gold as a diversified investment. It is globally-accepted that gold is a non-correlated, flight-to-safety asset during times of great uncertainty, such as The Great Recession of 2007-09 or the current global coronavirus pandemic. However, the spot price of gold is also extremely volatile, similar to Bitcoin, and the price could move significantly lower depending on one’s entry level to the market. Upside Opportunity The value of the U.S. dollar, as well as virtually every other major fiat currency, has drastically declined in its purchasing power over the last century. Since the gold market is currently transacted in U.S. dollars, it becomes cheaper for international buyers (mainly governments or large institutions) to own gold as an alternative to holding dollars or their own currencies as the currency continues to decline. For the retail investor, it is clearer than ever that fiat currencies will continue to decline as governments print an unlimited supply of money to monetize their debts. Similar to the masses that have already entered the Bitcoin frenzy, and those poised to enter the various collectibles markets such as U.S. rare coins, the upside opportunity for gold has already been demonstrated by the Reddit black swan event last month that caused silver spot prices to soar. The same could happen for gold, perhaps in a more sustained trajectory. Inflation Hedging Gold is known as an inflation hedge, which to some extent creates a self-fulfilling prophesy—as inflation expectations increase, institutions purchase gold and the increasing spot price protects their purchasing power. In addition, only approximately 2,500 to 3,000 tons of above ground gold are added to the global supply each year, with the majority used for jewelry. These relatively small increases to supply (similar to Bitcoin and finite rare coins) are a significant benefit when compared to printing binges for fiat currencies, thus helping protect against inflation. Overall Utility The utility of owning physical gold is primarily as a store of value where the owner maintains direct control and access to a tangible asset. Many believe they can use their gold to transact during a doomsday scenario, as these are uniform products owned globally. The downside is that gold is very heavy, making it difficult to store or transport. Nonetheless, it is highly liquid and easy to turn into cash during times of need, like an insurance policy. Which Coin is Right for You? All three of these “coins” have either a finite or slowly increasing supply, making them very attractive during times of economic uncertainty, as even relatively small increases in demand can move prices higher. Depending on needs, there is a case to be made to own any of these assets, including small positions in all three. According to Neptune, “Many of the families who invest with us side by side in the U.S. rare coin space also own small positions in cryptocurrencies and precious metals. Bitcoin is fun and people are speculating on its tremendous upside, whereas gold bullion is highly liquid and has a long track record as an inflation hedge. People have preconceived notions of all three markets, but I think with education and more transparency you will find more portfolios containing small allocations to all three of these assets.” As investors become more comfortable with the idea that they do not have to be renowned experts to own these tangible assets—similar to the idea that they do not need a Ph.D. in mechanical physics to drive a car—investors can utilize all three markets for various needs in a diversified portfolio. Since many financial advisors don’t yet know how to access or offer these types of alternative assets, they simply aren’t included in the investment mix and, thus, clients can’t reap the benefits—ostensibly suffering opportunity loss. Therefore, the prudent entrée to owning one (or all) of these “coins” is engaging with reputable companies or trusted experts. They will certainly help wealth-seekers make heads or tails of the burgeoning coin category. ~~~ Forbes Business Council Member Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist, futurist and marketplace trends pundit who reports on industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all B2C and B2B categories. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com / Instagram, Twitter & Facebook @LuxeListReports Sources: https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=58289 https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h6/current/default.htm https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/bst_recenttrends.htm https://cryptoguidepro.com/buy-fraction-piece-percentage-bitcoin/ https://news.bitcoin.com/data-shows-78-bitcoin-supply-illiquid-only-4-2m-btc-constant-circulation/ https://www.coindesk.com/harvard-yale-brown-endowments-have-been-buying-bitcoin-for-at-least-a-year-sources https://bitpay.com/wallet/ https://www.gold.org/about-gold/gold-supply/gold-mining/how-much-gold

Read More

Building Towards a Sustainable Future

Article | July 29, 2020

Over the past few months, in the midst of our global health crisis, some have questioned the connection between sustainability and the broader issues weighing on our society. But if we take one lesson away from these intersecting crises, as our CEO Mike Corbat has said – it is that our physical and economic health, our sustainability and resiliency, and social justice are inextricably linked.

Read More

Trending Demand Generation Strategies to Drive FinTech Growth

Article | March 11, 2021

Once referred to as an emerging market, FinTech is a young market with regard to time and investment. It is also an independent market due to its changing trends and regulations. FinTech brands have gained enough capital to grow and expand over the years. The increasing number of smartphone users and affordable internet connections suggest a paradigm shift in the nature of banking with transactions going mobile-first. Raising dependency on mobile banking, online payment, and mobile wallets are cascading from luxury to basic requirements, making it one of the top reasons for both challenges and growth opportunities in the FinTech market. Besides, the FinTech market also includes businesses that provide AI solutions and work on risk & compliance management that is enabling companies to run smoothly even after the pandemic. Other winning sectors in the FinTech market are companies engaged in loans and insurance which are likely to do well. However, driving Fintech demand remains a key challenge for most companies in a fast-changing and evolving marketplace. By the end of this article, you'll be able to apply FinTech lead generation strategies to drive growth for lead generation for FinTech companies. Balancing Finance & Technology Technological advancement is dominating almost every market. Finance technology is emerging as an enabler for various industries helping and supporting finance teams to balance and manage their daily activities, financial close, collaboration, and documentation providing more visibility to transactions. FinTech brands invest in developing frictionless and seamless e-banking solutions and other financial and money management services. The FinServ market is witnessing a change in simplified access, embedded financial services, and financial inclusion. Developing a new product range allows FinTech brands to please investors to gain more funding and overcome other traditional investment barriers. Proven Demand Generation Strategies for FinTech If you are running a FinTech company, then FinTech marketing is all that's on your mind, particularly when the traditional banking companies are making up with the emergent technologies, best-in-class user experience, and expectations. Here are the top strategies for FinTech demand generation. Go mobile with your marketing initiatives In the 21st century, everything is on mobile. If you aren't considering a marketing initiative around this handheld device, you're missing out on one of the most effective ways to connect with the target audience. According to a recent study, on average, an individual spends 5hrs a day on a mobile device, and the time spent on mobile apps has skyrocketed a massive 69% from 2016. More than 50% of mobile phone users prefer online searching before buying anything. B2B FinTech companies need to focus on mobile phone users to get the most out of their marketing campaigns and reach their target audience. Create valuable content FinTech content must first address what problem it intends to solve, how it will solve, what are the benefits, what is its advantage over legacy processes, how it adds value, saves time and costs, drives growth, or simplifies processes. To create valuable FinTech content, you need to consider the following: • Analyze your target audience • Content competitive analyses • Note down your content goal, whether it's for awareness, engagement, or conversion stage. Segmented content hub - blog, white papers, case studies, eBooks, press releases, etc. Create a content hub or digital library that houses all your articles, blogs, case studies, whitepapers, eBooks, press releases, etc. this is an effective way to engage the target audience and generate demand. Ensure that your content plan is organized so that you cater to the requirements of all the platforms and audiences. While you focus on creating content on trending topics, you also need to ensure that you create evergreen content. Create a content calendar for the year. This will help you plan the theme you are going to cover each month for your target customers to drive demand in a phased manner. Create matchless video content to generate demand Video content is the most potent form of content marketing. According to a survey, around 87% of marketers use video for FinTech lead generation. Videos are used in different ways to generate demand. Video marketing does not always mean creating a new video, but leveraging or repurposing an existing one, judging your investment, and creating a new video, if required. The key idea of video marketing is to get a slice of the market which is being influenced by the evolving taste of content consumption by consumers. Getting your content out in the most trending format will help you get noticed in the clutter, build brand awareness, and also convey your message to your target audience. Adding a form or a call-to-action at the end of the video gets you qualified leads. Some of the commonly applied video marketing strategies include: • Use video in landing pages • Place video along with a form or other call-to-action button. • Optimize video to various social media formats. • Create a call-to-action button at the beginning or in-between the video; this can be a simple subscription invitation. • Video testimony is an excellent form of video marketing that influences and builds a better relationship with your customers. Social media trends for FinTech Social media platforms are no longer considered a place where people connect and communicate in real-time. FinTech can be a challenging market to promote on social media. Social media cannot be a one-size fit for all, but it has amazing advantages over traditional marketing channels. Be a thought leader FinTech marketing is social media marketing. By domain experts in banking, finance, and insurance. It is a platform handled by individuals who are market leaders, contributors, or influencers. Identify the most effective platform for your niche & promote your content on it Identify your audience and promote your content on the most effective and relevant platform to reach your niche audience. Rather than being all over the place, you can choose to stay on one relevant platform to promote your business. Get influencers to influence Getting market influencers to your site can be a great way to increase on-page engagement. Promoting guest articles or interviews by market leaders to share their knowledge and experience in the FinTech or FinServ market. Other useful ways to get influencers to your page include promoting a product/service, sponsored review, social media mention, running a contest on influencers page, getting influencer quotes on brand, creating a joint event, and promoting influencer content on your page. Interact with your customers/end-users Ensure that no comments or queries are unanswered or unattended. There are higher chances of them being your potential customers. Host events (online & offline) Hosting events both online and offline is a great way to reach your target audience. Events can be of different types – educational, promotional, announcement, launches, etc. Hosting such an event is an excellent idea to interact with your target audience. Ensure that you are listening/reading their comments to give them appropriate feedback. Also, apply their valuable suggestions whenever possible. Collect data to channelize FinTech demand generation campaigns In this data-driven world, it's easy to collect information about your customers. Effective FinTech demand generation starts with data. Make utmost use of the data and insights you gain from your research. CRM and analytics platform, carry out a detailed analysis into your users to better understand your audience's needs, build a FinTech lead generation campaign, and optimize your content, landing pages, CTAs, emailers, etc. High-performing websites and effective FinTech lead generation strategies focus on addressing and solving user needs. These insights will also help you get the most ROI from your PPC campaign and paid activities on social media platforms. Final Thoughts Applying these strategies for demand generation will help you attain the desired business growth. These days, the FinTech market has overcome common challenges such as varying regulatory and compliance laws, trust issues, cyberthreats, lack of support from government bodies, industry-related complexities, etc. Lag in digital banking experience Uneven digital transformation globally in the banking industry is the key reason for the lag in the e-banking experience. A new focus on customer experience During this time of digitalization, focusing on customer experience is the best practice. Gaining customers' trust and loyalty is the most important factor that the FinTech market is looking forward to. Shift from digital to mobile-first The ever-increasing number of smartphone and internet users is among the top reasons why many markets shift from digital to mobile-first. Invest in new technologies FinTech brands need to develop new technologies and come up with new and innovative ideas to promote their products online and get the target audience to drive demand. Investment in fintech companies FAQs Q1. What are demand generation activities for FinTech? A1. As mentioned in the above blogs applying following demand generation activities for FinTech market: • Go mobile with your marketing initiatives • Create valuable content • Social media trends for FinTech • Host events (online & offline) • Collect data to channelize FinTech demand generation campaigns Q2. How do you create a demand generation plan for FinTech company? A2. Demand generation can be defined as a general practice to create need or interest in your product or service and converting passive audience into qualified leads. To begin with, you need to have clarity about your customer base and potential audience to define your potential buyer persona. Once you have your defined audience; make goals and create your funnel such as create an awareness content plan, lead generating content plan and conversion content plan. Set up the tools or online platforms where you are planning to promote this content. Invest in paid promotional activities and lastly measure your success. Q3. Why is demand generation important in FinTech? A3. Demand generation is a data-driven marketing strategy that is designed to nurture future goals. The most important factor of applying demand generation strategy is it helps in generating more revenue. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What are demand generation activities for FinTech?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "As mentioned in the above blogs applying following demand generation activities for FinTech market: Go mobile with your marketing initiatives Create valuable content Social media trends for FinTech Host events (online & offline) Collect data to channelize FinTech demand generation campaigns " } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How do you create a demand generation plan for FinTech company?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Demand generation can be defined as a general practice to create need or interest in your product or service and converting passive audience into qualified leads. To begin with, you need to have clarity about your customer base and potential audience to define your potential buyer persona. Once you have your defined audience; make goals and create your funnel such as create an awareness content plan, lead generating content plan and conversion content plan. Set up the tools or online platforms where you are planning to promote this content. Invest in paid promotional activities and lastly measure your success." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Why is demand generation important in FinTech?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Demand generation is a data-driven marketing strategy that is designed to nurture future goals. The most important factor of applying demand generation strategy is it helps in generating more revenue." } }] }

Read More

Are challenger banks transforming the lending market or just providing digital makeup?

Article | March 4, 2020

The short answer is yes…. sometimes to both. However, there is a huge change underway and enough evidence to suggest that customer and competitive pressure alone will drive more change, even without further regulatory updates. Globally, and in the UK, margins in the lending market are feeling the pressure. Slow credit growth (currently at 2.5% in the UK), and low interest rates are the primary drivers. This has fueled competition, especially for lending products with higher margins, such as mortgages.

Read More

Spotlight

Crossmark Global Investments, Inc.

At Crossmark, we fundamentally believe that aligning with your values should be central to investment decisions. That's why we focus each day on delivering the tools, solutions, and innovation necessary to make investing with a purpose a reality. Crossmark Global Investments is an innovative investment management firm. We provide a full suite of investment management solutions to institutional investors, financial advisors and the clients they serve. We have a multi-decade legacy of specializing in responsible investment strategies for clients.

Events