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7 expert tips for trading beginners

The idea of trading can be exciting, whether you’re looking at stocks and shares, forex or even cryptocurrencies – but the reality is, jumping in at the deep end more often results in catastrophic sinking rather than natural swimming.

With that in mind, we’ve talked to dozens of seasoned traders such as the team at Neowave who specialise in the Elliot Wave Theory and asked what advice they’d give to someone just starting out. The following advice may be the difference between making it as a trader – or going back to the day job with a bruised wallet and ego…

  1. Understand the terminology

When you start exploring the world of trading you’re going to come across dozens – if not hundreds – of terms and acronyms that seem to defy simple contextual explanation.

Rather than point you toward a comprehensive list – virtually every expert we talked to suggested going away and Googling the term. Depending on how relevant the term seems when compared to your trading plans or hopes should dictate your next step – does a quick overview suffice? Or would it be helpful to dig a little deeper and read some articles or books on that specific subject?

Make notes and be prepared to revisit your list of new knowledge frequently to check your understanding as your reading grows.

  1. Read some recommended books

Like most industries or pursuits, there are some cornerstone books that should occupy every potential trader’s bookshelf.

Believe us, if you’ve got an idea – no matter how humble or how grand, someone’s had it before and they’ve talked about it in some depth. Read – and always have critical eyes – whether it’s your opinion or someone else’s, nothing should be taken as gospel until you’ve gone on to gather further knowledge of how it pans out.

Start with ‘How to Make Money in Stocks’ by William O’Neil – it’s a classic – and a great guide for people new to trading an investing.

  1. Dig into authority websites

While specialist trading book sales are still booming – it’s important to understand how the internet has changed the world. For every modern Warren Buffet writing a book, there’s another 10 who are blogging or writing online about their experiences and handing out exceptional advice.

Content marketing is now acknowledged as being as close to a sure-thing as is possible in the world of marketing – and content marketing in the trading world means there are high level traders putting pen to paper about what works and what doesn’t.

Again, critical eyes are vital. Some content marketing is just a thin cover over an attempt to sell you something – so be careful – but with time invested in reading the most reputable blogs, you’ll see trends in trading advice develop.

  1. Explore forums and groups

The wonderful thing about trading is that sharing information on a small scale doesn’t impact your investment – so, tell a friend or colleague about a stock you like the look of and they’re not going to whip the opportunity out from under your nose or send its price through the roof.

The same is true of forums and social media groups. If you want to get involved and ask questions then great – but if you just want to treat the groups like a virtual bar or café and quietly sit and listen to what other people are talking about – you can do that to. Again, there’s no one who’s going to give you all the answers, but you’ll start seeing interesting information about how other people work, the resources they’re using the results they’re seeing…

  1. Start following your chosen market

Think you’re going to get your head around currency trading with no idea of what’s happening the world’s socio-economic news? Think again!

Trading isn’t about a quick glance at figures then running with a hunch – some of the best traders make the world’s economy their job – with trading the small part of the day in which their knowledge is monetised.

Find good news sources, read good blogs, understand the world of business – it’s all going to have an impact on what you’re doing, so you’re going to need to be ahead of the game. There’s no finite amount of information that’s enough – so instead of consuming market news 24/7 – start paring your media down to the stuff that’s really valuable.

  1. Find courses and classes

This tip comes with a hefty caveat – so make sure you read to the end.

Enrolling on courses, lectures or seminars with great trading minds can be a good idea. There’s a core of valuable deep information that virtually no master trader is going to give away for free – so signing up to get this information could be worth it’s weight in gold.

Here’s the caveat though:

Reviews and recommendations are absolutely vital here. Anyone could put together a site, a course or a master ‘scheme’ to get rich, charge you a fortune – and deliver nothing more than recycled nonsense. While this might just seem like a waste of money – it could actually be more dangerous than that – bad advice dressed up as a good advice can lead to massive losses.

Talk to people who’ve been on the course. Read reviews. Believe the hype when you’ve seen how it’s played out for others.

  1. Make yourself at home and practice

Signing up to an online trading/stock broker account is a good step – even if you’re not ready to invest just yet.

It’s useful to get a feel for how everything looks and functions before you punch your card details in and start running with real money. In fact, a number of broker platforms offer virtual trading that means you can get started with no real money going in.

Understand that you don’t have to have an extensive portfolio from the word go – in fact, most traders, when asked how they would invest their money today, say that they would make a few trades and sit on the largest part of their capital until they got a feel for what was performing on the day and into the immediate future.

Starting out is an important step in the trading process. Passing your driving test and jumping into a Lamborghini is likely to be a recipe for disaster – in the same way jumping into trading with a huge chunk of capital and no idea is. Build your knowledge slowly, it might be the most important investment you’ll ever make.

Amazon set to dominate the small business loan market

Amazon has always taken an aggressive approach to business, transforming the face of retail and the way we consume books in the 22 years the company has been in operation. Utilizing aggressive growth tactics is Amazon’s M.O., and it uses it to great effect, disrupting entire industries in the process.

This is not necessarily a bad thing as it has enabled even the smallest of companies to access markets that may have been well beyond their reach otherwise. Amazon Marketplace was a game changer, there’s no questioning that.

Consumers with little time on their hands suddenly found themselves faced with a trusted marketplace, filled with trusted retailers that they could place orders with from the comfort of their own homes – no more traipsing around shopping malls looking for something that may not even be in stock. The fact that they could shop from their smartphone too was just icing on the cake. There was a worry, at one point, that the emerging generation would forget what a physical store looked like and this would herald the decline of the bricks and mortar retailer.

Obviously, worrying about this proved to be time wasted. The acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion was just the latest move in the Amazon drive to sink its fingers into as many pies as it can, wasn’t it? Apparently not, no.

Amazon and the case of the small business loan

Amazon, very quietly, has been making some very strong inroads into the small business loans market over the past 12 months (at the time of announcement). How strong have these incursions been? They recently trumpeted that during the 12 month period, they had made $1 billion in small business loans. These loans were not restricted to the USA, either. In fact, over 20,000 small businesses in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan had been in receipt of business loans from Amazon.

If Amazon pursues the small business loans market in the same way that it aggressively went after online retailing and eBooks, then it could potentially change the banking industry forever. Business loan providers could also suffer, although they have less to worry about being able to move in slightly different ways than banks – and faster than Amazon can right now. The Best Egg review sheds some light on how they work.

Starting life selling books and Compact Discs, way back in 1995, Amazon has amassed total sales of over $400 billion and making Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) the richest man in the world, with a personal fortune of $90 billion, into the bargain. Being bold, aggressive and not afraid of charging headlong into the fray is what allowed Amazon to rank among the top 10 U.S. employers.

The fact that they branched out into non retail areas is a little surprising, giving their past track record, but the business loan market is not unknown to them either. Many people don’t realise this, but Amazon actually started this several years ago. Amazon Lending was born in 2011, and to date has topped $3 billion in loans.

Why are we only really hearing about this now? The fact that a third of their total came in 12 months, while the rest was accrued over a 6 year period, shows just how rapidly they expanding in the small business lending space. It also emerged that over 50% of companies that take a loan with Amazon come back for at least one more.

Amazon small business lending: A license to print money?

Entering the loans arena was actually a rather smart move by Jeff Bezos. Amazon will, naturally, earn interest on all approved loans. With money continuing to be earned via retailers on the main Amazon site, the company is suddenly more cash rich than ever before. With money being raised, almost passively, there is more available to lend, earn interest on, to lend, interest on… You get the idea. Amazon are making superb progress in an exceptionally lucrative market.

While Amazon lending is invitation only, those that are approached are able to apply for loans between $k and $750k. It should also be noted that companies Amazon approach are already selling on the site. This in of itself is a genius move, with Amazon collecting cash on both ends of the retailer – interest on repayments, and increased fees on retailer sales.

Seemingly not content with the U.S., UK and Japan, the company has been dropping hints that it is looking at expanding to other countries where there is an Amazon TLD (top level domain). Strong marketplaces that they could be looking at include India, Canada, France, and China.

The Vice President of Amazon Marketplace, Peeyush Nahar, is quoted as saying “We created Amazon Lending to make it simple for up-and-coming small businesses to efficiently get a business loan, because we know that an infusion of capital at the right moment can put a small business on the path to even greater success.”. Obviously, he has to say that.

There’s no doubt that smaller business will benefit enormously, but let’s not pretend that Amazon got into the loans business for altruistic reasons. There’s nothing wrong with making money, the nation was built on the principle of capitalism, but nobody should be any illusion about the fact that Amazon has done this with their coffers in mind, not the retailer.

Should banks really be that concerned?

In a word, yes. In many ways, banks are still stuck in the pre-internet days where loans have to be discussed in person, in front of somebody whose sole purpose is to judge whether or not you can make them money. Loans provided over the internet work in a similar way, of course, but there is no sense of being weighed and measured and the fact that you don’t have to set aside an entire day to do it is even better.

Given the choice between a 30 minute process, at the very most, and a drive to the bank after spending precious, copious amounts of time preparing beforehand, getting statements and forecasts prepared and printed, the vast majority of small business owners are going to choose the digital option.

The small business operator simply does not have the time for traditional banking and the longer it takes traditional banks to realise that, the closer to the edge they become. Services like Amazon Lending are slowly but surely taking over the space traditionally occupied by the big bank so yes, banks should be worried.

Financial hacks for small businesses

Own a small business? Stuck with how to deal with the financial side of the company? Don’t let ongoing spreadsheets and multiple pages of numbers put you off. Get your financial brain into place. We have some financial hacks that can help you so you’re not left in the dark. Running your stainless steel banding company is the easy part.

Invoice regularly

Invoices. Basically a document to prove that a customer has bought something from you and your company, a record of the transaction that has just been placed. They are very important. They essentially hold how much money is coming into your company via sales. Invoicing correctly ensures that you will get paid, your staff will get paid, and more importantly, your bills will be paid on time. So it is essential to keep up with them.

As daunting as it may sound to deal with them, don’t let all your invoices build up till the end of the month. Watching that pile get higher and higher is more likely going to put you off in comparison to doing them. Why not keep your workload to a minimum? Continuously do you invoices throughout the month, possibly even weekly will save yourself a chunk of time, and trust me, you will thank yourself for it. When you have one million and one other things on your mind to do at the end of the month, this is one thing crossed off. Don’t keep putting it off, as they won’t magically disappear into thin air as much as you wish they would.

Create a financial plan

Having a plan allows you to stay organised. Jot down a list. Where will your money be going? What expenses will need covered on either a daily or monthly basis? This will then give you a better indication of where your money will be going and what you will be doing with it, so you don’t get too much of a shock when you see £25 coming off for Adobe Photoshop every month. Having this will then take you forward into planning a budget. All your money will be planned out accordingly. It also prepares you for unseen circumstances for other resources and inventory in the future.

Plan your business around the seasons

Stay alert through all the seasons. If your business is one that performs well in summer, but when it comes to winter it tends to quieten down, you, as a business owner, need to prepare for that by planning your finances accordingly. Say you have a machine that has been playing up for a few weeks and is close to breaking down, don’t wait until the last minute to do something about it. Plan in advance. Do something about it while you have the money. If you leave it too late, you could be one machine down with hundreds of work to do, and no ability to match up to it.

Separate business from personal

And by separate, I mean have separate bank accounts. Don’t mix your business and personal together, this can only make matters worse and leave you in a wide state of confusion. When was my business trip? Wait was that personal? Where did all my receipts go? No. Keeping everything separate will make it easy for everyone, especially your accountant! (She won’t be pulling her hair out demanding for the multiple receipts that you have lost.) By having a separate business account, this allows you to keep an accurate record of all spending coming in and out of your business. This will also save time when it comes to the end of the tax year. Instead of running around crazy wondering if the meal you had that one time was business or personal, everything will be dealt with separately. Plus, your accountant will love you forever for not mixing up your accounts when it comes to dealing with taxes and book keeping.

Pay the bills

Obvious, but true. Always pay your bills, and pay them on time. Putting off bills creates late fees, which will only cause you more hassle as it builds up over time. Just as you would your personal bills, it is important to pay your business bills on time too. Paying your bills on time, as silly as it sounds, allows your business to keep running smoothly, and prevents things from piling up. Simple things like setting a reminder on your computer or writing a note in your diary for the date that everything comes off will allow you to keep up to date with everything and less likely cause you any fines or get you into any unwanted trouble.

Sales & Marketing

It may be near the bottom of the list, but it is still equally as important. Now that you have your financial side of things under control, you can look at branching out and getting your company name out there for new customers. Implementing a marketing strategy is the best way to do this. Here you can invest some of the profits you have gained, or money you have saved to reach out to new people. Whether it be online, in a paper or even just a regular advertisement, putting some money into this side of things will probably earn you more back in the long run. This way you can introduce more people to your business and what it is all about.  The budget is up to you, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. But by starting off small, then gradually increasing, this could see your business branch out into some new opportunities.

No matter if you are a small business selling steel strapping or a large business selling clothes, money needs to stay stable in order for the business to run smoothly. Getting on board with some financial hacks will help keep your company on track! Keeping yourself updated on all aspects of your business is a great indicator that you care enough to have your business succeed.

The Best Finance Tools For Start-Ups

Start-up businesses in any industry are always going to be a volatile position finance wise once they are set-up. Even with careful planning, your finances are going to difficult to manage, in fact, one of the most common issues your IT support team will have is dealing with financial problems.

Whether it’s over spending, tracking sales or dealing with expenses claims (to name just a few) you can soon be overwhelmed trying to deal with an array of finance problems. And if your start-up doesn’t have an support team in place that means it’s up to you to deal with all the problems.

There’s got to be an easier way right? Well, thankfully there is a number of finance tools available that will make dealing with everyday business finances much easier. Let’s take a look at some of the tools you and your team can use to make dealing with your finance a faster more efficient process.

Bode Tree

When you hear the term “financial tools” you probably think they’re going to be complicated don’t you? But the truth of the matter is financial tools come in all different kinds and some are very easy to learn and use. Bode Tree is a great example of this, it’s designed to be a complete financial solution for small businesses but is easy to learn and get to grips with.

Bode Tree can be used for a wide array of different things, you can use it deliver in-app messages, produce custom reports, monitor brand awareness and much more. But the main reason Bode Tree is such a useful financial tool is because it gives you real-time access to all your accounts in one place.

This will save you a lot of time and will make things like tracking costs, expenditure and cash flow much more simple. Whether you use it solely for monitoring purposes or for its more advanced features Bode Tree is a useful financial tool any start-up business will benefit from.

GNUCash

Many start-up business owners may understandably not be keen on the idea of buying financial software, which makes sense. If your start-up doesn’t have a big budget then spending money on extra software may seem wasteful.

But one of the great things about GNUCash is that it’s completely free! And free doesn’t always mean bad, while there are certainly some poor quality free financial software programs out there GNUCash isn’t one of them. GNUCash is an open-sourced program designed to help small businesses and accountants.

You can generate a number of common forms with its built-in templates and it also has basic tracking and planning features as well. As your business grows GNUCash is likely going to be a bit too simplistic to use but for start-ups, it’s a very useful tool and designed to be flexible and easy to use. Plus there’s also an app version available for Android devices so you can use it on the go.

Shoeboxed

We might be living in the digital age these days but one thing small businesses are going to see a lot of is paper. Whether it’s reports or receipts there’s a lot of paper involved in the financial department of a start-up business and it’s something you need to keep on top of. This may sound easy but trust me it’s much harder than it sounds.

Shoeboxed is the perfect financial tool for dealing with receipts and reports and it will ensure you always have a backup copy. With Shoeboxed you can scan reports and receipts to keep digital copies but it doesn’t just stop there. It can take the data from the reports/ receipts and then generate expenses reports.

You can also use Shoeboxed to store business cards and have it set-up to automatically import any emailed receipts. With Shoeboxed you’ll be able to build a faster more organized financial department which will be a huge benefit to your start-up business.

Xpenditure

Business expenses can mount up quickly especially for start-up businesses who often will be operating on a strict budget. The other problem with business expenses is that they can be difficult to track even if you get your team involved finding out who spend what can be very difficult.

That’s why an expenses tracker like Xpenditure can be a real benefit to your business. With Xpenditure you can easily track receipts and generate reports, Xpenditure also lets employees scan receipts and expenses from their phones and send them directly to you for clearance.

With Xpenditure you can easily and quickly see all the expense information you need at a glance and you will also be able to approve or refuse any claims. Failing to keep track of your expenses is a real risk for small businesses so a financial tool like Xpenditure is sure to prove incredibly useful.

PlanGuru

Budgeting is essential for any business but it’s especially important for start-ups, the number one reason behind the failure of many start-ups is their lack of proper budgeting. PlanGuru is designed for smaller businesses and will help you build and stick to a budget.

With PlanGuru you’ll be able to develop a financial forecasting and review process that can be used to help your business grow. It also has a number of forecasting tools which you can use to get a better idea of the risks and rewards of investments.

With a variety of analysis tools included and compatibility with Excel, QuickBooks, and Xero PlanGuru is a great budgeting platform for start-ups. Budgeting is hugely important to the success of a start-up business and with PlanGuru you’ll be able to build an accurate budget that plans for any eventuality.

The Tools For Success

So that’s five fantastic financial tools that will give any start-up business an extra boost in its early days. Working alongside your internal teams these tools will be sure to benefit your business in a variety of ways. While it’s true some start-up businesses do fail, by using these financial tools you’ll be able to increase the chances of your business growing and finding success.

Tax refunds – who provides the best rebate services?

Tax refunds – who provides the best rebate services?

If you think you might be due a tax rebate a quick search will offer you no end of tax refunds and rebate services – but do they do anything you couldn’t do yourself? We’ll explain a little about how tax refunds occur and the kind of companies that can pursue any claim on your behalf. 

Why might you be due a refund?

There are a variety of reasons you might be due a refund of overpaid tax – have a think about whether any of the most common ones might apply to you:

  • You’ve stopped work

The amount of tax you pay is based to some degree on your projected earnings for the year – so, most people can earn £11,500 before they pay tax – but rather than apply tax to just the part of the year beyond that tax-free amount, that tax that you’re expected to pay on your overall year’s earnings is applied right across the year. For example:

Your salary is £20,000 – meaning your monthly wage before deductions is around £1,667. If you paid tax only when you passed the £11,500 threshold, you would go nearly 7 months before you paid a penny in tax – at which point your income would drop dramatically. For consistency, HMRC spread the tax that will be paid on £8,500 of your income over the full 12 months of your employment.

What this does mean is that if your employment ends and you’re left without work, you’ve probably paid too much tax. How much depends on where in the tax year you are – but HMRC can usually do the calculation for you. 

  • You’ve sent an incorrect tax return

There are occasions where it becomes apparent that your self-assessment return is incorrect – and since HMRC use this to calculate your tax then subsequent calculations could now be wrong. Your tax return might inadvertently be wrong if you’ve sent it then stopped being self-employed too – especially if you have forward payments on your account with HMRC.

Issues that relate to self-assessment tax returns are often rectified without any prompting of HMRC, but if you’re not certain it’s being processed, calling and prompting them doesn’t hurt.

  • Your tax code is wrong

If you’re employed but you’re being taxed an incorrect amount it could be that your tax code is incorrect. Your tax code depends on your unique circumstances – although it will most often be a common one – like 1150L for example.

If you think you’re being taxed an incorrect amount, talking to your company payroll team is a good first step, if you’re not 100% happy with the answer, talk to HMRC – they’ll check some of your details and help you work out if you’re paying the correct amount of tax. Errors can happen for any number of reasons – it’s your responsibility to make sure everything’s correct.

  • You’ve used any of your own money for your job

There are instances when employed people might be required or expected to pay towards their training costs, fuel and in-work travel expenses, uniforms, tools and other such costs. If this is the case you’ve used some of your own money toward work expenses – and if your workplace doesn’t allow you to reclaim those directly, you might be able to reclaim these costs against your tax. Making sure you keep a record of costs is important in this instance.

Doing it yourself

When you call the HMRC you’ll be put through to someone who’ll check your security details and answer questions based on the enquiry that’s taken you to them. This might be that you believe your tax code is incorrect – so the person on the end of the phone will support you through working out whether this is correct – and dealing with any refund that might apply.

As you’d expect from any courteous call-centre – the call will usually wrap up after you’ve politely said “no thank you” when they’ve asked if there’s anything else they can help you with. You might be saying “no thank you” – but do you know for certain that there’s no other area in which your tax could be wrong?

Generally speaking, when an individual handles any tax rebate claim themselves they’ll be focused on just one aspect of the claim – now, don’t misunderstand – any rebate is great news, but unless you’re certain that you’ve covered all the possible bases – you might be missing out.

Working with a tax rebate company

“They won’t do anything you can’t do yourself” – is often the message when you’re considering dealing with a company who’ll pursue a claim on your behalf – and while that might be true, the real question is this:

Do you have the depth of tax knowledge to know you’re 100% asking every question of HMRC to ensure you’re getting back everything you’re entitled to?

If you’re an accountant the answer is probably ‘yes’ – but few of us are, so when the cost is so little – and generally only claimed as a small percentage of any rebate that you actually get, then it might make sense to turn to someone who’s definitely going to ask all the right questions – after all, it’s better to have 90% of £2,500 than it is to have 100% of £1000!

Who to choose

While there are a lot of generic services that will support you if you’re employed, self-employed or the director of a limited company, there are also companies who specialise in people who work in specific areas. For example, there are specialist tax rules for those who work as a subcontractor in construction – and others for people who are serving in the armed forces.

If you think your area of work might be subject to special tax rules – you might want to work with a company who knows your industry well. If you’re happy with the service a more generic company offers – then that’s fine too. You’ll be able to talk with them and they’ll leave no stone unturned in your enquiry about overpayment of tax.

Be careful

While getting a rebate can be great news – it’s important that you’re careful. Whether or not you’re dealing with a rebate company – there are instances when online scammers and fraudsters use HMRC logos, names and addresses to communicate with you over the telephone or via email. As a rule of thumb, HMRC will never get in touch with you by any means other than sending a letter – so be cautious if they appear to.

Good luck!

There’s no better feeling than having some tax repaid – especially if you didn’t know you were overpaying in the first place!