Author Archives: Matthew Lopez

Successful investors have physical gold in their portfolio—here’s why

Image source: wsj.net

Gold has maintained its status as one of the most valuable assets throughout history and even in the present day, it is considered by most investors as a safe haven, providing a much-needed protection against uncertainties of every economic turmoil that we might face nowadays.

Many young and experienced investors know the upside and the downside of investing—but in gold, all of them can agree that the benefits, especially during crisis, outweigh the risks.

So why should we look at gold and include it in our portfolio? First of all, gold maintains its value regardless of both financial and geopolitical uncertainties.  As a “crisis commodity,” it provides refuge for investors as a relatively safe and stable asset. In fact, gold has the ability to outperform other investments especially during the darkest financial times.

Image source: telegraph.co.uk

Real gold can last for hundreds and thousands of years while its value accumulates over time without easily being threatened by constant and rapid decline of stocks and bonds caused by unpredictable and inevitable economic chaos.

Diversifying one’ portfolio and including physical gold means adding extra protection against unfavorable market performance and paper investment declines, effectively reducing risk and overall volatility (talk to an advisor now at LOM Financial to get started). In addition, unlike its digital and intangible counterparts, gold as a literally physical investment and a tangible asset can’t be hacked or wiped out.

There’s a strategic reason why gold has been held by many governments as well as the world’s wealthiest individuals. As a part of your portfolio, gold is a direct investment and an inflation hedge, not only of the promise of its higher value in the future but as a shield against a potential market crash.

REPOST: Bitcoin has broken $4,000

In what could be considered a huge phenomenon in the world of ‘currencies,’ Bitcoin has just crossed the $4,000 mark over the weekend. With such impressive growth, will this make the cryptocurrency a viable safe haven amid economic uncertainties and geopolitical tensions? Business Insider has the full story:

The price of bitcoin broke through $4,000 per coin for the first time on Sunday and is posting new records on Monday.

Bitcoin crossed the $4,000 mark at close to 1.00 a.m. on Sunday. It has kept rising on Monday, reaching an all-time high of $4,250 per coin at close to 10.00 a.m. BST on Monday.

The cryptocurrency is up 2.94% to $4,186.37 at 1.25 a.m. BST (8.24 a.m. ET).

Iqbal V. Gandham, UK MD of trading platform eToro, said in an emailed statement: “Bitcoin hitting $4,000 is another milestone in long list of big moments the cryptocurrency has witnessed in recent weeks. Following a fall to $1,800, it has come back strongly and relatively steadily. This is encouraging.

“Furthermore, the ecosystem is also getting stronger. You now have more places to spend Bitcoin, more regulators thinking about the right infrastructure, and more investors learning about the asset. Speculation is rightly moving away from price and focusing on use cases.”

Bitcoin has been on an incredible rally this year, up over 300% since the start of the year. The digital currency only passed $3,500 for the first time earlier this month.

Elsewhere in the cryptocurrency space, Bitcoin Cash, the new cryptocurrency that was split off from bitcoin at the start of the month, is also rallying strongly.

Bitcoin Cash is up 2.88% to $307.

Continue reading HERE.

Most powerful Forex pairs you should know about

Image source: baremetrics.com

As currencies come and go, the number of currency pairs in the world changes. However, over the years, there have been major pairs that constantly keep their status as the most powerful Forex twosomes in the market. Although they are not necessarily the best to trade, they have the highest liquidity and mostly occupy the highest volume of foreign exchange transactions worldwide.

Basically, currency pairs are classified based on the volume that is traded every day for a pair and not surprisingly, every major one includes the US dollar. Since the United States dollar is the most traded currency by value, pairs that doesn’t include the American currency isn’t considered a major.

Here are the four major currency pairs that tops the list in terms of trading volume:

  1. EUR/USD (Fiber): The Euro and the U.S. Dollar.
  2. USD/JPY (Ninja): The U.S. Dollar and the Japanese Yen.
  3. GBP/USD (Cable): The British Pound Sterling and the U.S. Dollar.
  4. USD/CHF (Swissy): The U.S. Dollar and the Swiss Franc.

These top pairs as mentioned above have the characteristics of having very liquid markets, actively traded every business day, for 24 hours. Furthermore, these pairs, including combinations within the given currencies, account for over 95% of all projected Forex trading performance.

However, while everyone wants to focus on the major pairs as a safe strategy, analysts believe that considering minor pairs (pairs that do not include USD) should be a part of everyone’s trading tactic. Even if it’s more common to put your money on the traditional assets, there are still other pairings at your disposal. In addition, having more options can prevent you from overtrading and from making other unwise trading decisions.

REPOST: 5 Steps to Creating and Monetizing a Million-Dollar Online Business

Anybody can start an online business, but not everyone ends up victorious. If you have a unique product or idea, you can find a way to sell or trade it over the Internet. To boost your chances of success, start with a strategic marketing. Make a creative concept that can potentially help you stand out from the rest of the competition. An article from Entrepreneur has a few recommendations:

Jonathan Long isn’t just talking the talk — he’s taking readers inside his own online strategy.

If you believed every advertisement in your Facebook news feed selling the entrepreneurial dream, you would think that everyone and their brother is creating million-dollar online businesses while traveling the world or floating in their pool.

Now, I’m not saying every one of these courses is pure BS. There might be some solid actionable advice to be found, but instead of paying $97, $197 or $297 (you know those are the magic numbers) to some self-proclaimed internet gazillionaire, I’m going to walk you through the steps that are required to build a successful online business, in several articles here on Entrepreneur.com, starting with this one.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to secure an attractive domain hack: LAWYE.RS. It’s the only one-word “lawyers” domain hack available, and while I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it at the time, I knew it had potential to be turned into something very special.

The time has come to do something with this domain, and I have determined the strategy I will use to build this website out and monetize it.

Will I be successful? The potential to turn it into a multi-million-dollar business exists, but I could also fall flat on my face.

Here’s how I laid out the concept and monetization strategy for this new project. The same strategy can be used to help you develop any online business — it’s universal.

1. Identify a product or service that has a large market and that’s unlikely to decline.

I decided I was going to turn this domain into a law firm directory, and two factors played a role in this decision. First, there will always be a need for lawyers and plenty of law firms for consumers to pick from. There will never be a shortage of website visitors or law firms to monetize as customers.

Second, online marketing and online branding is on a consistent growth path with no sign of slowing down, so another platform for law firms to use for marketing and brand building will be welcomed.

When you create an online business in a niche that will never see a decline, you are drastically increasing the chances of building something that will generate revenue for a long time. I see too many people trying to start online businesses with only the short-game in mind. Instead, focus on building something with long-term sustainability.

2. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel — but you do need a unique component.

Building an online law firm directory resource isn’t going to win any innovation awards, but it can still be different than other available options. My main focus with this project is creating an online community and content platform — giving lawyers a platform to publish content on, which will be seen by industry peers and potential clients. The personal branding benefit and ability to be seen as a thought leader is the unique angle here.

When you create an online business, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you do need a unique selling proposition and a way to provide some level of value that isn’t currently available.

3. Identify how you can generate money.

There are several ways to generate money with an online business. You can sell your own products or services, re-sell products or services, sell information or courses, promote affiliate offers or sell advertisement space, for example.

For my law firm directory, user experience is a priority. The last thing I want to do is annoy visitors with banner ads and pop-up offers. They need to be able to land on our website and quickly find the information they need. So, the revenue model will be based around an annual premium listing upgrade that law firms can claim.

We will be building out the directory with every law firm in the U.S. Every basic listing will contain the firm’s name and address. For an annual fee, law firms will be able to claim their listing and upgrade to a premium listing, which allows for full contact information, a complete listing of all lawyers on staff, images, video, social media profile links and a link to their website. Also, they get unlimited inbound form-submit leads and each lawyer on staff will receive a contributor account, allowing them to publish content on the directory’s blog.

This monetization strategy allows us to keep the website free of advertisement banners and affiliate offers, keeping our user experience pleasant. It also provides several attractive benefits for our target customer, which is important if we want to convert a large enough percentage to turn this into a multi-million-dollar online business.

A lot of people get hung up on the monetization component, and while it’s an important piece of the puzzle, you need to remember that you can always pivot.

4. Lay out a marketing and advertising plan that will help reach your monetization goals.

Your online business is unlikely to take off without a solid marketing and advertising plan in place. Whether you are using simple public relations strategies such as HARO for securing press mentions or launching a six-figure campaign on Facebook, you need a detailed plan.

Our plan for the directory is a combination of email marketing and highly targeted digital ad buys. Automation is key here, allowing for more teamwork on the back end. A team of customer support reps, developers and editors will maintain the directory and continue to add new premium listings and blog content.

While the email marketing and digital ad buys will drive awareness, we also know that the content platform will help get the word out. As more lawyers sign up to contribute content and then share it across their networks through social channels like LinkedIn and Twitter, they will introduce our directory to their industry peers.

We will also be doing our own content marketing outreach with an emphasis on infographics and interactive media for maximum social shares and exposure within the legal community.

5. Seek out feedback directly from your potential customers.

Launching an online business without any feedback from your target customer base is foolish. You might have a great idea, but a gut feeling or intuition alone doesn’t mean it’s a viable business model. Taking the time to gather feedback and constructive criticism can help you avoid launching a dud and coming to market with a better product.

I spoke to countless attorneys and law firms before moving forward with this project. Taking their feedback and feature requests, I was able to create an offering that is highly desirable at a price-point that makes it affordable for any size law firm.

I sent emails and even picked up the phone and called random firms. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and listen to the feedback, both positive and negative. This step helped to polish the finished offering.

Final thoughts

Building a successful online business capable of generating millions of dollars in revenue requires a great idea and, more importantly, flawless execution. Everyone has ideas, but very few can execute them.

We are currently finishing the design and development of this project, which I will expand on in a future article, along with launch and growth strategies. To follow this project more closely, add me on Snapchat. My goal with sharing this project is to provide you with actionable advice that you can apply to help build your own online business.

The lifestyle and business of luxury yachting

Even during ancient times, men dared to conquer the open seas through an engineering marvel that changed the course of history – ship building. At present, the same idea of exploring the ocean or even just enjoying the freedom and fun that it has to offer has attracted people from different walks of life to invest in designing, building, and owning a more stylish and luxurious counterpart—luxury yachts.

 

Image source: northropandjohnson.com

 

Yachts come in different shapes and sizes. For instance, super yachts are designed to cruise islands and even countries on longer durations while others are just perfect for a day’s worth of recreation.

Many of those who are in the circle of owning this type of recreational vessel agree that it takes a lot of work, commitment, and money to maintain a luxury yacht. Even those who are engaged in the yacht charter business have pointed out some challenges that are unique to this industry.

 

Image source: businessinsider.com

 

For instance, if you are planning to own a yacht for business, there are several things that you should keep in mind.  Experts estimate that the cost of maintaining yacht is already 10 percent of the cost of its purchase. However, other facts can make this approximate non universal. So what makes operating and sustaining this complex floating machine costly?

The 10 percent covers fees for docking and maintenance. In addition, owners and charter businesses need skilled crew not only to properly man the vessel but also to keep it clean and everyone on board fed. However, fuel costs have the biggest price tag depending on the size of the vessel. At the America’s Cup 2017 in Bermuda—a well-known luxury destination and home to top financial companies such as the LOM Financial Group—it is typical for participants to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on their yachts.

The expenses may seem overwhelming but if done right, you’re in for a huge paycheck.

REPOST: You can now send your friends money inside iMessage

Tech giant Apple is integrating a new peer-to-peer payments service with its own digital wallet (Apple Pay), potentially creating a a killer feature that can eventually overtake existing similar services like Venmo and Square Cash payments. TechCrunch has the full story:

As part of iOS 11, Apple announced that users will now be able to send money to their friends via iMessage, and spend the balance via a virtual Apple Pay card.

The feature will be built into iMessage as an app, and essentially lets you send and request money with your contacts in one tap. The integration will also be able to do things like recognize when someone says “you owe me $10” and automatically prompt you to send them a payment.

Of course, sending money via iMessage isn’t new — companies like Square and Venmo already have iMessage apps that let you send payments via their platform. But owning the entire ecosystem is always what gives Apple the upper hand, and this time is no different.

Apple is integrating this peer-to-peer payments service with Apple Pay, which is what will make it a killer feature and eventually overtake Venmo and Square Cash payments. After someone sends you money, the balance lives on an Apple Pay virtual card stored in your Wallet app. While you can of course cash this money out to your bank account, you also can use the virtual card to pay anywhere Apple Pay is accepted, both in-store and online, without waiting a day for it to transfer to your bank account.

Essentially Apple is issuing every iOS user a virtual card that will hold a balance they can spend anywhere they want. It’s a brilliant move for Apple, since they (and any payments company) makes much more money when users hold and spend a balance instead of immediately cashing it out to their bank account.

 

Continue reading on this PAGE.

Revenue models: Advertisement-supported vs. Subscription-based

Several models of revenue generation have been instrumental in the success of big and small companies around the world. Since it is one of the key components in establishing a solid and promising enterprise, a reliable revenue model is most needed especially for early stages of startups.

There are the different types of revenue models depending on the products and services that companies offer. For instance, two of the most common methods are the advertising models and the subscription models. Each or a combination of both are the ideal choices for websites, magazines, newspaper firms, and a lot more.

Digital businesses and online media websites usually choose between advertisement-supported and subscription-based revenue models but as a business owner yourself, which one should fit best for your firm? This discussion might help you decide.

In definition, choosing an advertisement-supported revenue model requires a business or site to offer free content and services to customers and relies on advertising to make money. On the other hand, a subscription-based revenue generation means that your company will charge users for the services or content that you provide. Here are several pros and cons for each.

 

Image source: iash.org.uk

Advertisement Model

Pros:

  • Free content and services attract more users and reach a wider customer base.
  • A sizable number of users is attractive to advertisers who will pay to reach a large number of audience- specific customers to promote their own products and services.

Cons:

  • Advertising can be very costly. For TV ads, for example, production costs can go as high as $500,000 for national ads (or higher when there is a celebrity endorser) and placement can reach a similar amount for a 30-second prime-time spot on a national network.
  • There is a lack of ease in evaluating results. Measuring return on investment through advertising is nearly impossible to carry out.

 

Image source: business2community.com

Subscription Model

Pros:

  • Revenue generation is based on active customer engagement.
  • The possibility of attracting a loyal customer base will give your company a bigger opportunity to derive additional revenues in the long run.
  • Monthly or annual subscription sign ups means a regular and stable source of revenue.

Cons:

  • Leverage is limited and often, the only options are customer growth or cost reduction.
  • Higher emphasis on quality products or services, which can actually be a good thing. That means higher pressure on the company to keep paying customers happy.
  • Offers customers little control over which items they can buy (or otherwise).

REPOST: Bitcoin Tops $1,700, Hitting a New All-Time High

Are we entering the golden age of the Bitcoin technology? The rise in value for this cryptocurrency (virtual money) has been staggeringly swift. More insights from TIME Money:

Tsokur—Getty Images

Bitcoin continues to hit new all-time highs, and this time it has added $1 billion in market cap in less than 24 hours, according to data from CoinDesk.

Bitcoin prices as measured by the site stood at $1,718 as of Tuesday morning. The rise in value for the alternate virtual currency has been staggeringly swift. One year ago at this time, one unit of bitcoin was worth about $450. The value of bitcoin rose to over $1,000 by the end of the year, and then retreated to the low $900s in late March. Since then, prices have nearly doubled and keep breaking record highs, a phenomenal surge not seen since the fall of 2013.

Gold prices, meanwhile, stand at $1,225, which isn’t much different than they were one year ago.

The surge in bitcoin is being driven by a number of factors, according to Charles Bovaird, Lead Markets Writer for CoinDesk.

Some market observers have pointed to macroeconomic uncertainty in regions like Europe, where the fate of the European Union seemed increasingly uncertain leading up to the recent French presidential election, Bovaird explained in an email to Money.

Continue reading HERE.

Pretty penny: The three most expensive cities in the world

Recently numerous places have been popping up where travelers can go on ‘luxurious’ vacation for a fraction of the cost, and it’s all thanks to the Internet. Because of blogs and social media, travelling has never been more budget-friendly and democratized. With nothing as so much as the clothes on their back, they can experience everything that the city or country has to offer. Then there’s Zurich, Hong Kong, and Singapore, the three most pocket-boring cities in the world.

 

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. It is home to more than 3 million inhabitants and has the busiest airport and railways in the whole country. Living in the city is no joke for a single lunchtime meal which includes a drink in the business district and could reach up to US$26. Meals in fast food restaurants are significantly cheaper but still isn’t for the faint of heart for the diner will be spending 14 dollars on average.

Image source: myswitzerland.com

 

The second city on the list, Hong Kong, is an autonomous region in China. Upon examining its territorial area and the number of individuals who inhabit it, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Spending for electricity, heat, water, and garbage disposal for a month can easily reach US$200, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Image source: homejamesglobal.com

 

For the fourth time in a row, Singapore is the world’s most expensive city. For a single month, rent can exceed US$1,500, and that’s not even in the high-end neighborhoods. To live there, a person needs to dish out more than US$2,500 monthly.

Image source: absoluteinternship.com

 

Apparently, the aforementioned cities are wealthy cities. They are also relatively small (making real estate prices very high) and rely heavily on imported goods such as food and even water. When cash flow is robust, chances are prices are also extremely high. That means the likes of London, New York, Dubai, Tokyo, and even Hamilton in Bermuda (a well-known offshore financial center) can also be just as expensive.  Meanwhile, the world’s cheapest cities to live in are mostly found in poorer Asian and African nations, with the top three being Bangalore (India), Lagos (Nigeria), and Almaty (Kazakhstan).

REPOST: European markets are cheap – here’s how to invest (The Telegraph)

Europe’s current political climate is making quality stocks relatively affordable. Is now the best time to invest in this region? Know more from this article published on The Telegraph.

The forthcoming French election is one event scaring off investors

After what some have termed a “lost decade” economically, Europe now offers a potential bargain to investors willing to look through the political turmoil.

When the financial crisis hit, European markets fell to valuations cheaper than those in the US, and since then the American recovery has been stronger. The MSCI USA index has returned 82pc in five years in dollar terms, versus 28pc for the MSCI  Europe index – in pounds it’s 135pc to 64pc.

This performance has driven up valuations of American stocks while Europe now looks comparatively cheap on the basis of its “Cape” score – a popular valuation metric that compares share prices with average earnings over 10 years.

The US market has a Cape score (or “cyclically adjusted price to earnings ratio”) of 28, compared with 17 for developed European countries and eight for their less developed counterparts, according to Star Capital, a German investment firm.

Bill McQuaker, a multi-asset fund manager at Fidelity, said this disparity represented an anomaly relative to historic norms.

Continue reading HERE.