3 Best Credit Cards For Picking Up Free Air Miles

If you are a frequent flier, and a fan of using plastic over hard cash, then doubtless you will be aware that you can collect points for spending with your credit card that can be used to subsidise your air miles.

Air miles and credit cards seem to enjoy a fruitful relationship, and have done so for a matter of decades; and yet so few of us take advantage of the options available to us. Read more “3 Best Credit Cards For Picking Up Free Air Miles”

3 Great Deals For Sending Money Overseas: Pounds to Euros

Take a deep breath. For once, Brexit woes have taken a back seat and the currency markets have had a little breathing space. With no fresh crises or emergencies, it has been relatively plain sailing this week for Sterling. Perhaps a good time then, to think about making that pounds to euros transfer you had been putting off? Read more “3 Great Deals For Sending Money Overseas: Pounds to Euros”

Starting An International Online Business? Try Canada or UK, New Study Says

The dream of becoming the next Amazon-affiliated drop-shipping millionaire is one that most of us have had at some point in our careers, usually after a bad day at the office or a long holiday. But can it be done? Read more “Starting An International Online Business? Try Canada or UK, New Study Says”

Fast Internet, Cashless Payments & Social Media Spying: The World’s Digital Havens Uncovered

This week at The Money Cloud we are taking stock of the latest Internations Annual expat survey. Yesterday we explored the global networking and event company’s overall country ratings, which saw Bahrain emerge for the second year running, as the top rated destination for expats, with Taiwan a close second, Ecuador third, and reality checks for the likes of the UK, India and Saudi Arabia.

But how do the world’s countries rank for all things digital? From always-on South Korea, to the cashless Nordics, to Estonia, the digital nomads paradise, let’s examine Internations findings more closely. Read more “Fast Internet, Cashless Payments & Social Media Spying: The World’s Digital Havens Uncovered”

3 Expat Friendly Destinations To Consider Now That Winter Is Here

Now that the light is starting to fade and the temperature is dropping across the UK and Europe, it may be as good a time as any to reimagine those dreams of emigrating abroad.

Many of us have thought about, or perhaps been given the opportunity to relocate abroad. Whilst there are many good reasons; children at school, family at hand, the language barrier; to name a few, not to take the plunge, there are just as many persuasive reasons why 2019 might be the perfect year to seize the opportunity for a new and revitalising life experience.

To get you started, let’s look at 3 destinations that contain an enticing blend of culture, opportunity, and life-learning. Read more “3 Expat Friendly Destinations To Consider Now That Winter Is Here”

3 Effective Ways Businesses & Individuals Can Hedge Against The Falling Pound

Over the weekend, news emerged that overseas footballers in the UK; of which there is a higher proportion than in any other international football league; have been attempting to hedge against further falls in the value of Sterling.

Sterling has fallen around 15% against both the euro and the dollar since Britain voted to leave the EU, dropping 3% in the past 3 months, and creating problems for businesses and individuals alike. In the case of the Premierships’ multi-millionaire footballers, many are asking to be paid in Euros, a request which football clubs, even those as rich as Manchester United, are struggling to accede to, due to the fact they do not hold sufficient foreign currency reserves.

Currency hedging can be a tricky business; knowing when to buy or sell a currency is an instinct that the best FX currency traders, for example, possess, but not even they can get it right every time. So what are the best options for individuals and businesses with financial commitments overseas? Let’s look at 3 strategies that might help to protect against unexpected, unplanned for losses.

 

Take control of your risk with financial projections

If you are a seasoned entrepreneur, business owner, or traveller, you may feel that you have an understanding of how currency movements play out, and what can be done to hedge against them. But experience alone is not enough; to ultimately make the right choices, planning ahead is essential.

All businesses, and even most domestic households, create budgets to try to plan for the future. In order to plan a currency hedging strategy effectively, it can be useful to plot different scenarios; a best case, worst case, and most likely case, for example, is a good start.

By plugging in different currency fluctuation scenarios into your budget, it should be possible to calculate when, for example, a sale and delivery of goods overseas becomes unprofitable, a holiday or spell abroad becomes prohibitively expensive, or, alternatively, when it becomes attractive to spend in the short term for longer term financial gain.

There is no guarantee that your scenarios will play out in real life, but they can certainly provide an effective way to manage your currency risk. It is up to a business, or individual, to decide how much appetite they have for risk – but before doing that, it is essential to have a clear picture of what kinds of problems and issues different attitudes towards currency risk will throw up. Fail to prepare,prepare to fail, as they say.

 

Consult a professional broker

If you are do not feel confident about which strategy is best for you, your family or your business, then it may be worth reaching out for professional help.

International currency brokers naturally charge a fee for their work, so it’s important to decide if the level of risk you are exposed to justifies the extra cost. Sometimes, currency related losses are simply unavoidable due to market, or political forces; witness the current situation in Venezuela, for example, where the government has been forced to launch its own Petrodollar cryptocurrency, a hedge against the Venezuelan Bolivar, which has simply spiralled out of control owing to uncontrollable levels of inflation.

If your currency risk exposure is long term and consistent, however, i.e. you are making regular overseas payments or regularly selling goods overseas, then a broker can help. They are likely to have a superior knowledge of how the markets may move, and not only that, they have access to vast, cheap, quantities of foreign exchange, giving them a significant advantage in the marketplace.

Interacting with a broker on a regular basis will improve your own knowledge of the FX markets, so you may not need to consult directly with your broker over every transaction, but if you have a significant foreign currency exposure, working with an FX broker represents a no-brainer.

 

Open a self-managed account

Thanks to the rise of disruptive technology, there is a great deal more transparency around the FX markets than there once was. Most brokerages, and a growing number of fintech startups, provide the means for you to run your own currency hedging service. There is no shortage of newsflow, either.

Comparison sites like The Money Cloud can give you an instant overview of the rates, fees, and transaction times offered by a range of MTOs (Money Transfer Operators), and even provide a digital dashboard that helps you quickly negotiate AML (anti-money-laundering) and KYC (know your customer) checks, store all of your transaction history for future reference, and even use techniques such as AI and machine learning to help guide your decision making process.

Brexit has created huge disruption in the value of Sterling, and the instability shows no signs of abating. Within the EU, nothing is guaranteed, as trade wars with the US and differing political agendas create uncertainty, whilst the US, China, Russia, Africa, the subcontinent, Asia and Australasia all have a role to play in sudden and unexpected foreign exchange fluctuations.

As discussed above, there are many different strategies that you can use to protect your own interests, whatever they may be; the one thing you can’t do, in the current environment, is do nothing. Other than that, it is up to you; whether you are an entrepreneur, traveller, or pro-footballer; to decide how best to hedge your currency exposure.

How International Trade Secretary Liam Fox Plans To Turn Britain Into A “21st Century Exporting Superpower”

400,000 British businesses believe they have the capability to export goods, but are not doing so, whilst at the same time, international demand for British goods is growing, the government revealed yesterday.

Dr Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary has used these figures; and the news that British overseas exports have grown by £26 billion year on year; to reinforce his belief that British exports can meet his target of contributing 35% to UK GDP, after the UK leaves the EU at the end of March next year.

Last year British companies sold some £620 billion worth of goods to overseas buyers, which accounted for 30% of GDP; a record high, according to the Department for International Trade. The government is keen to build on this recent success, and has responded to calls from businesses with a new Export Strategy that will look to encourage and inspire more businesses to export, place “increased focus on amplifying the voice of existing exporters”, “facilitate peer-to-peer learning, and “inform businesses by providing information, advice and practical assistance on exporting.”

The government will work on converting its Greatgov.uk website into a one-stop-shop for exporters, helping to connect UK based businesses with overseas clients, working with larger companies to build the capability of supply lines, providing financial incentives, and supporting SMEs as they enter new markets.

The Department for International Trade also wants to launch an awareness campaign to alert British businesses to an estimated £50 billion of export finance and insurance support available from the UK Export Finance organisation, as well as 250 International Trade Advisors based all over the UK who support what the government refer to as “Export Champions”, and invite more companies to join the nationwide network of exporters, using the slogan “if we can, you can”.

Dr Fox told reporters in a speech that “as we leave the EU, we must set our sights high and that is just what this Export Strategy will help us achieve”, adding that “UK businesses are superbly placed to capitalise on the rapid changes in the global economic environment and I believe the UK has the potential to be a 21st century exporting superpower.

Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion at the Department of International Trade, also commented that “As the world’s sixth largest exporter, we do punch above our weight, however, we also punch below our potential. This Export Strategy sets out to change that and to increase exports as a proportion of GDP from 30% to 35%, taking us from the middle of the G7 to near the top. This is ambitious, but achievable.”

From a currency perspective, the Brexit effect has been nothing short of disastrous, with the pound dropping nearly 30% against the euro and the dollar since the referendum on 23rd June 2016. All the more reason for always looking to get the best deal when you are making transfers of money overseas. Using The Money Cloud to discover the best rates offered by leading brokers and money transfer agencies could save you as much as 80% on fees, per transaction. Aimed at businesses and individuals, it’s easy to use and guarantees you get all the facts before making a decision that can save you a substantial sum.

3 London Based Fintech Firms Pick Up Funding In Rounds Led by Augmentum Providing Boost For Disruptive SMEs & Startups

Augmentum, a specialist VC firm that focuses on promising fintech opportunities, made 2 investments last week into early stage, London based companies focused on the SME payments market, as well as a third investment into Duedil, which compiles information on unlisted early stage companies. Read more “3 London Based Fintech Firms Pick Up Funding In Rounds Led by Augmentum Providing Boost For Disruptive SMEs & Startups”

New Zealand Takes Surprising Step To Ban Foreigners From Buying Property In The Country

In a bid to calm an explosive domestic property market and create affordable housing for local residents, the New Zealand government has taken the unprecedented step of banning the sale of the country’s existing homes to foreign buyers. Read more “New Zealand Takes Surprising Step To Ban Foreigners From Buying Property In The Country”

From Vienna To Damascus? The World’s Ten Most, & Least, Liveable Cities In 2018 Announced

Every six months, the Economist Intelligence Unit publishes its liveability survey – a comprehensive attempt to rank the world’s cities in terms of their safety and stability, healthcare systems, levels of culture and environmental health, standards of education and strength of infrastructure. Read more “From Vienna To Damascus? The World’s Ten Most, & Least, Liveable Cities In 2018 Announced”

$60bn Medical Tourism Industry Is Thriving; But Watch Out For Exchange Rate Fluctuations

Have you ever considered getting your medical treatment abroad? This increasingly popular industry caters for a variety of treatments, from dentistry, to fertility treatment, to cosmetic surgery, to orthopaedics, and is driven by a surprising disparity in the costs of the same treatments in different parts of the world, and the quicker availability of treatments in some countries as opposed to others. Read more “$60bn Medical Tourism Industry Is Thriving; But Watch Out For Exchange Rate Fluctuations”

More UK Citizens Living Overseas Than Any Nation In EU, WEF Reveals

Brexit backlash may have damaged the UK’s reputation for cosmopolitanism, with the referendum result blamed in some quarters on an anti-immigration agenda, but surprisingly, it is Britain that leads the way when it comes to migrating overseas, according to data from the World Economic forum. Read more “More UK Citizens Living Overseas Than Any Nation In EU, WEF Reveals”

How To Cope With An International Trade War; The Small Business Strategist’s Guide

Now that Donald Trump has got his feet well and truly under the table at The White House, it is not surprising that there are trade wars been wagered all over the world. Trump seems to thrive on controversy, and he has certainly created plenty of it on the global stage, but perhaps more so than ever when it comes to trade.

In the past few months, he has threatened tariffs against Chinese, European, Canadian, and Mexican goods imported into the US, with China targeted the most. If he gets his way, assorted Chinese goods will be subject to some $250 billion worth of tariffs. The POTUS recently used Twitter, seemingly his preferred method of communication, to declare that:

“Tariffs are working big time. Every country on earth wants to take wealth out of the U.S., always to our detriment. I say, as they come, tax them. If they don’t want to be taxed, let them make or build the product in the U.S. In either event, it means jobs and great wealth.”

Is Trump right, and how does this affect the global trade prospects of the average small-to-medium sized business that wants to do trade with business partners overseas? Are there lessons to be learned, or is a policy of damage limitation a better strategy in these turbulent times?

Read our 3 point guide below and let us know your thoughts.

 

1/ Is Trump right or wrong about tariffs? Is his strategy worth trying?

One thing to bear in mind about the POTUS is that he is a businessman who plans ahead and often says things to cause a stir and create panic in the short term. Then, when he later softens his stance and makes a deal instead, he hopes to be acclaimed for being statesman-like and saving the world from another global crisis – but don’t forget, he created that crisis in the first place!

The situation with America and its global trading partners is complex, and it’s possible that Trump has a point when he claims that the US has made some bad trade deals in the past and needs to be more protectionist in its outlook. On the other hand, no other President has adopted this attitude and he risks a great deal each time he declares trade war on another country. Is it worth it?

As a strategy, it appears to be high risk and one that only works if you are supremely confident in your own abilities, and wield a great deal of power within your organisation. Most business leaders and entrepreneurs prefer to keep relations with their trade partners on a more even keel, and respect the rules and regulations more.

If you are planning to “go full POTUS” remember that you are placing not just your own, but your colleagues welfare in danger. Brexit is the kind of avoidable crisis that seems to have been pulled right out of the Trump playbook – if it ends in disaster, its perpetrators will have only themselves to blame. In short, if you conduct business like Trump, you may not win any popularity contests. You may win big, or you may end up with egg on your face.

 

2/ Do Trump’s Protectionist Policies affect global trade winds for SMEs and entrepreneurs

It seems unlikely. Most business leaders are beholden to their shareholders, business partners and colleagues, so proceed cautiously. Admittedly, the time to indulge in a “free-hit”, or emboldened trade strategy, is immediately after receiving a vote of confidence – in Trump’s case, being elected – when you are at your most powerful, and have the most amount of time to repair things if they go wrong.

But very few business leaders can affect global trade patterns on their own, and more often than not, trade policies will be chiefly decided by two things. The macro level considerations, and the micro level ones.

For example, your trade policies at the micro level will be dictated by circumstances such as whether you have a surplus of a particular product, the state of your current relationships with particular trade partners, your budget, and your long term business plan.

At the macro level, occasionally an opportunity might arise that results in a business going against its instincts for a short term gain. A good example would be the plunge in value in the pound after the Brexit referendum. Whilst most of us panicked, smart business leaders may have sensed an opportunity to make more sales, offload slow selling products, or look to import goods from the UK at a higher volume than usual, taking advantage of the weak pound.

To summarise, the global trade war is of course of crucial importance to the future of global trade, but it should not cause anybody to abandon their trading principles, unless an unusual and advantageous opportunity rears its head, that outweighs everyday micro-level trade concerns, Even then, it will have to be a carefully considered judgement call.

 

3/ What does the response from Trump’s targets teach us about trade policy?

It would be foolish to only consider what Trump is doing – what about the targets of his aggressive policies? Of course, China, Europe, Mexico and Canada have their own agendas to pursue, and these too will sometimes clash with global trade policies.

But Canada, Mexico, China and Europe have all found ways to reach a general consensus about acceptable business practices, and have shown a willingness to play by the rules. Whilst Trump is trying to pull the US out of trade deals, other countries seem content with the deals they have in place.

SME owners and entrepreneurs ought to note that, as the old saying goes, it is better to be “inside the tent p*ssing out”, than “outside the tent p*ssing in.” Consistently maintaining good relations with your trade partners, through regular, non-confrontational negotiations, is surely preferable to the energy-sapping and dramatic conflicts that Trump stages seemingly randomly.

Trump’s is a high-octane strategy that is extremely demanding. A shock-and-awe approach that most people find unsavoury, not to mention unnecessary. The only justification for such a policy, in fact, is if it gets results. A marginal gain is surely not worth the trouble, but if it is a complete reversal of fortune you are seeking within your organisation, if your very existence is under threat, if there is not other option but to “go full POTUS”, then at least you won’t die wondering.

If you are looking to send money abroad and would like to use a comparison service that gives you all the facts, including fees, exchange rates and transaction times, try The Money Cloud. We work exclusively with regulated money transfer brokers and use API’s to display real-time rates that you can compare for a wide range of currencies in just a few clicks.

Seen A Spanish Property You Love & Hoping To Make An Offer? First Add 15% To The Price. Here’s Why

The spike in temperature here in the UK will provide food for thought for anybody who has been considering relocating, or acquiring a property in Spain. There are two ways to look at it. Read more “Seen A Spanish Property You Love & Hoping To Make An Offer? First Add 15% To The Price. Here’s Why”

Brexit White Paper Deep Dive: What Does British Industry Really Want, & Why?

In his introduction to the government’s controversial Brexit white paper; the country’s first attempt to try to explain on paper how leaving the EU by March 29th, 2019 might work; new Brexit secretary Dominic Raab talks about how “technological revolutions and scientific transformations are driving major changes in the global economy.” Read more “Brexit White Paper Deep Dive: What Does British Industry Really Want, & Why?”

PWC / Open Data Institute Investigate State Of “Open Banking” Revolution In New Report

Amidst all the recent discussion and hand-wringing around the new GDPR regulations, it’s easy to forget that it was only in January this year that the updated Payment Services Directives, a set of EC-wide regulations designed to make it easier, faster and less expensive to for customers to pay for goods and services, by promoting innovation, came into force.

If the introduction of PSD2 has gone a little under the radar, a new report from PWC, in association with the Open Data Institute, argues that the effects of the Open Banking “revolution” certainly won’t. The report estimates that “Open Banking has the potential to create a revenue opportunity of at least £7.2bn by 2022 across retail and SME markets.” Read more “PWC / Open Data Institute Investigate State Of “Open Banking” Revolution In New Report”

If The London Property Market Is Creaking, Does It Make Sense To Start Looking Overseas?

Ever since Britain joined the European Union in 1973, property in London has represented about as sound an investment as anybody could hope for. But now that Britain is set to cut ties with the EU, is the city’s property market about to suffer a correction, and is it worth looking at alternative options? Read more “If The London Property Market Is Creaking, Does It Make Sense To Start Looking Overseas?”

Cheaper, Faster Overseas Money Transfer Options Are Inspiring Customers To Embrace Digital MTOs

In a recent article in Finextra, Lakshmi Narayanan at Travelex discusses the contrasting approaches taken by the Pakistan and India governments to the problems inherent in their countries remittance industries.

India is the largest market for inbound remittance in the world, receiving more than $72bn of inbound money transfers from overseas, whilst Pakistan also has a large inbound remittance market worth around £19.3bn. Read more “Cheaper, Faster Overseas Money Transfer Options Are Inspiring Customers To Embrace Digital MTOs”