Tax Around the World – New Infographic Explains Interesting Facts and Comparisons

Taxation is one of the biggest financial talking points because it affects everybody. From business owners working on their strategies through to people on welfare, tax is a part of life, and of course pays for a lot of things we need as a society.

In the US, we have a wide range of both state and federal taxes, and while many other countries don’t have the state level of tax control and pay the same rates of things like income tax or VAT wherever they live, just about every country taxes similar things. An infographic produced for students undertaking an online master of science in analytics provides an interesting look at tax rates in different countries, and how they compare to what we have to pay.

This taxation infographic was made by the MSA program online at Villanova University, but is useful for anyone interested in the differences in tax around the world.

Is College a Worthwhile Investment for Entrepreneurs?

For entrepreneurs, the age-old question of whether or not going to college is a worthwhile investment still stands. And, there’s no set answer, either – college has helped many entrepreneurs to realize and achieve their dreams, while many successful business owners have never had a college education, nor plan to. The truth is, there are many different factors which could determine whether your choice to go to college is a wise one. We’ve listed just some of the main things for business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs to consider when deciding if college is worth it.

Type of Degree

If you’re hoping to become a successful entrepreneur, there are many different degree courses which you could choose from. Simply going to college won’t be enough to make you a better entrepreneur; you will need to choose a course that will teach you valuable knowledge and skills for entrepreneurship in your chosen industry, for example this MBA in healthcare management from George Washington University. If you are an undergraduate student, a subject such as business management, finance, economics, or marketing can help you to set off in the right direction.

Networking

One of the main reasons why many entrepreneurs choose to attend college is that it’s a great opportunity for networking and meeting people who could potentially be very valuable to your existing or future business. For example, if you take an MBA healthcare management degree, you will be able to collaborate and communicate with not only other students, but people working in healthcare management, healthcare entrepreneurs, employers, investors, medical professionals and even patients, all of whom can be hugely beneficial to your entrepreneurial plans and goals.

Self-Improvement

Many entrepreneurs like to have a back-up plan. In today’s world where nine out of every ten start-ups fail quickly and competition is fiercer than ever before, knowing that you are employable if things don’t go to plan with your company can be great peace of mind and help to keep your stress levels at bay. Taking a college degree course in a business-related subject can not only help you to become a better entrepreneur, it can also open many opportunities for alternative, lucrative business careers if your business doesn’t work out or you simply fancy a career change in the future.

Keep it Current

The world of business and entrepreneurship is constantly changing, with new techniques, strategies and methods for gaining success being introduced to the industry all the time. Because of this, entrepreneurs who have little to no knowledge of starting and running their own business can often find it difficult to keep up, running into difficulty as they get left behind. Going to college will not only be a great way to learn about current business trends and more, but you’ll also learn valuable skills for research and keeping up to date that you can use throughout your entrepreneurial career.

Do you think that entrepreneurs can benefit from attending college, or is it unnecessary? Share your opinions in the comments.

Online Learning and Fintech: The New Future

Technology is shaping different parts of our future as we speak. New technologies are being implemented faster than ever, especially now that there are more users to benefit from these new technologies. The market is anticipating the next big thing at every turn.

Online learning has been one of the most successful implementations of technology in recent years. Instead of having to relocate to somewhere near the university, students can now access the best universities in the US and UK – and even across Europe – from the comfort of their homes. Paired with the latest financial technologies, online learning is shaping the future for a lot of people.

Better Access to Education

In the old days, enrolling in universities such as Hofstra Law meant moving to the other side of the pond. This wasn’t an easy process to deal with and it was certainly far from affordable. Today, however, the same universities and the programs they have can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

If you’re thinking about taking a health policy degree, for example, you can find a suitable program on Hofstra Law’s website, qualify for it and get started with the course without a problem. Their health law programs are also available for those with or without a bachelor’s degree in law, with different master’s degrees to pursue in each case.

Breaking Boundaries

Online learning is really breaking a lot of boundaries. The available programs are notably more affordable than their offline counterparts. More importantly, there is no need to worry about living costs and other expenses associated with moving to somewhere closer to the university.

Students are not required to attend classes. In certain cases, there is only a mandatory introduction session to attend. This may still require a trip to the university, but it is certainly not as demanding as having to relocate entirely.

Online learning is also making pursuing a higher degree possible for those working a full-time job or managing businesses. The flexibility offered by online courses is one of its main virtues. Students have the ability to complete the course at their own pace, with accelerated programs allowing students to acquire a master’s degree in as little as 12 months.

Pushing the Limits Further

Financial technology is making online education even more accessible in many ways. Fintech startups such as Upstart and Lending Club are making financing an online degree a lot easier to do. These lending services are starting to look into student loans and personal loans for students more seriously, especially now that the market is growing at a steady rate.

Some universities are even starting to accept online payments and cryptocurrencies. Coinbase is working with several top universities in the US and UK to make Bitcoin payment more accessible. Stores that sell books and other course materials accept PayPal and other forms of online payment already.

These changes are indeed shaping the future, not only for those who want to pursue a higher degree, but for many industries as well. Businesses now have more qualified people to fill essential positions. Employees can continue to expand their skills and capabilities without quitting their jobs. It is a whole new future indeed.

Tips for Marketing a Healthcare Product

Healthcare is one of the most competitive business industries, therefore getting your marketing strategies right when advertising a healthcare product is important for keeping your company afloat. Healthcare products are different from many other products in that many customers will need them, but this doesn’t always mean that they are easier than other products to market. However, there are many unique features of healthcare products, which often require a slightly different marketing approach in order to ensure success. Read on to discover some innovative ideas for marketing a healthcare product to any target audience.

Get an Endorsement

Depending on the type of medical or healthcare product that you are selling, an endorsement from medical professionals can be a great way to earn the trust of your audience and improve the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. A good example of this is toothpaste brands, which are endorsed by dentists, or cold and flu medicine brands using doctors and nurses in their television advertisements. In general, people will trust and listen to what medical professionals advise them about their health, therefore pairing up with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners who will recommend your product is one of the best marketing approaches in healthcare.

Get Academic Backing

If you have come up with a new healthcare product and need to show that it is trustworthy, getting the backing of universities and research colleges is a great way to do this. Students undertaking degree courses, such as a masters of science in nursing online, will often need to undertake research as part of their studies, and new healthcare products have often been brought into the market as a result of university research. Finding students on medical or RN to MSN research programs and teaming up to conduct a study of your product can be a good way to spark interest and expose your product to industry leaders.

Content Marketing

The healthcare industry is perhaps one of the most behind when it comes to digital marketing. Healthcare companies still rely on word of mouth marketing, television and radio more than many other industries. But, in recent times, more healthcare companies have seen the value of using digital content marketing to increase awareness of their brand. Today, one of the first things that people do when they feel something is wrong with their health is a quick Google search of their symptoms. Providing interesting and informative content to readers will improve your online presence and enable you to be the go-to information source for your audience.

Social Media Marketing

Finally, using social media is a great way for healthcare brands to advertise products and improve their marketing strategies by reaching a large percentage of their audience at the same time. Not only are social media networks some of the best places to link your audience to products, deals, content and more, they can also provide the perfect platform for marketing your brand through great customer marketing and a friendly brand image.

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Healthcare Innovations We Could See Next Year

Healthcare innovations are always happening, so it can be difficult to keep up. Even medical breakthroughs are occurring every day and leading to much better treatment plans and faster diagnosis rates for patients. If you are interested in learning about a few of the healthcare innovations that you might end up seeing next year, in particular, keep reading.

Advancements in Health Communication

Health communication, or the ability of a healthcare facility to promote itself and reach a larger group of patients, will certainly change in 2017 and beyond as new technologies emerge. If you already have your health communication degree, you can head back to school to stay abreast of the latest changes and upgrades by getting your masters in health communication from a school like Boston University. The future of health communication involves using your knowledge of health and your knowledge of marketing to grow any healthcare company, so it is definitely exciting.

Telemedicine Can Connect Patients with Doctors from Remote

Telemedicine will let patients interact with their doctors, as well as their specialists, by simply utilizing their mobile devices like their smartphones and tablets. Video chats could allow for super fast communications and cost-effective ways for patients to get the medical advice that they need, when they need it. So rather than having to go to the doctor’s office and wait to be seen in person, you can connect with your physician and get answers to put your mind at ease.

A New Type of Biopsy for Cancer

Liquid biopsies can be a better way to determine if cancer is present in a patient because it does not involve any of the pain associated with traditional biopsies, and it might even end up being more affordable. This year, liquid biopsies could be taking center stage as a new way to locate tumor DNA that is in the blood, urine, and spinal fluid. These types of biopsies might even be able to help physicians better understand the ways in which tumors will change to overcome treatments, and it can also help them identify the disease in its earliest stages.

An HPV Test That Patients Can Take Themselves

With nearly 13,000 new cervical cancer cases diagnosed in a year, it is vitally important that women test themselves for HPV, which is one of the leading causes of the disease. Now there is an HPV test that patients can take themselves. It is designed for women over 30 years of age, and it will detect the presence of the virus within cells in the cervix by using a vaginal swab. Women can take the test at home, use the appropriate packaging to send their sample to the lab, and receive the results via email, text, or postal mail.

As more and more innovations are released in the coming year and beyond, it will be very exciting to see where the healthcare industry goes. It will also be great to see how much more effective the industry will be when it comes to how it can deliver the best care to patients all over the globe.

Will Mobile Payment Systems Replace Banks?

Mobile payments are poised to become the new standard over the next few years. Use of mobile payment platforms such as Android Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay will triple this year, predicts eMarketer. The average amount spent per user will rise from $376 to $721.47 a year, and total spending will rise from $8.71 billion to $27.05 billion annually. By 2019, this will rise to $3,017.02 per user for a total of $210.45 billion annually. This will not only have a dramatic impact on the retail industry, but it will also mean repercussions for the financial system. Here’s a look at how mobile payment systems will affect the role of brick-and-mortar banks in the near future.

The Rise of Mobile Banking and Mobile Payments

Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to perform tasks that formerly required traveling to a bank. A 2015 Federal Reserve survey found that 43 percent of cell phone owners had used their phone for mobile banking over the past 12 months, an increase from 39 percent in 2014 and 33 percent in 2013; among smartphone owners, this rose to 53 percent.

Mobile banking currently remains more popular than mobile payments among cell phone owners. Only 24 percent of mobile phone owners used their phone for mobile payments in 2015, a number that rose to 28 percent among smartphone owners. Newer smartphones such as the iPhone 7 Plus make mobile payments easy by providing built-in compatibility with payment platforms such as Apple Pay, which lets users make payments at contactless points of sale and in iOS apps while using dynamic security codes and Touch ID fingerprinting to prevent identity theft.

What Consumers Use Mobile Banking and Payments For

A survey conducted by the Federal Reserve found that 94 percent of mobile banking users have used their phones to check account balances or recent transactions over the past 12 months. 62 percent have used their phone to check their account balance; 58 percent of mobile banking users have used their devices to transfer funds between accounts; and 56 percent have used them to receive alerts from banks such as texts, push notifications or emails.

When it comes to mobile payments, the most common type of mobile payment activity among smartphone users is using a mobile phone app or browser to pay a bill, carried out by 65 percent of those surveyed over the past year; 42 percent have used a mobile phone to make a remote online purchase of digital content or a physical item; 33 percent have used their mobile phone to buy something in a store.

The Changing Role of Brick-and-mortar Banks

Currently, mobile banking and payment patterns indicate that mobile financial management is supplementing the role of physical banks rather than replacing them. Most consumers who own bank accounts use a mix of physical and mobile methods to interact with their bank. Among all consumers who own bank accounts, the number that have visited a bank teller, used an ATM or done online banking is higher than those doing mobile banking. Among smartphone owners who do mobile banking, the number who say their mobile device is one of the three most important ways they interact with their bank has risen to 54 percent, slightly higher than the 51 percent who cited bank tellers but below the 65 percent who cited online banking and the 62 percent who cited ATMs.

When consumers were asked why they use mobile banking, the most popular reason was convenience, followed by recently getting a smartphone or their bank recently offering mobile services. Among those who have mobile phones and bank accounts but don’t do mobile banking, approximately three quarters say their needs are being met without mobile banking, that they don’t see a need for mobile banking or that they have security concerns. Security remains a major concern deterring mobile banking adoption, with a MyBankTracker survey finding that only 6 percent of consumers trust mobile banking for financial transactions.

Indian financial provider Janalakshmi Financial Services, which services “unbanked” poor customers lacking bank accounts, indicates how mobile banking may change the way physical banking is done. Rather than using branches and ATMs, JFS sends field employees with handheld devices to customers, providing prepaid cards that can be refilled rather than checking accounts or debit cards. Banks may move in this direction, with fewer on-site staff and more mobile services, while still providing on-location services for other financial services.

Facing up to a disruptive future

By Peter Veash, CEO at The BIO Agency

With start-ups, retail and even government embracing disruptive finance technologies, Peter Veash, CEO at The BIO Agency discusses how high-street banks must adapt for the digital age.

Disruption across sectors from retail to travel has given people more control over how they choose to interact with brands. Pioneers from Amazon to Uber have set the pace while legacy players have all had to innovate and improve their offering in order to remain competitive.

Today, the retail banking sector faces similar digital disruption from challenger brands using technology and mobile-first strategies to create financial services and tools that are more attractive to the ‘connected consumer’. Even the Government has recently announced it’s experimenting with using blockchain, the underlying technology that Bitcoin is built upon, as a possible means to manage and track welfare finance.

As a society, we are happy to adopt disruptive change so long as it makes our lives easier – whether that’s booking overnight accommodation via Airbnb or ordering our groceries from Ocado.

Finance providers who remove complexity and offer the ability to shift money around in real-time, or compare bank rates with ease will therefore grow ever-more appealing.

These ‘challenger’ brands include digital-only, technology-led banks called names like Atom and Starling. They also include hybrids pursuing successful omni-channel strategies such as Metro and Virgin Money, plus supermarket and retail brands such as Tesco Bank and M&S.
They’re winning because they’re prepared to give people the same level of control, real-time interaction and transparency they find in other sectors.

Soon they’ll also be empowered by legislative reform, designed to give people better banking experiences by increasing competition among financial services brands.

Recent recommendations by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) include, as part of a wider package of banking reform, that technology should be used to empower those customers looking to compare and switch accounts.

The CMA says banks should move swiftly to introduce an Open API banking standard. This would enable personal and SME customers to safely and securely share their unique transaction history with other banks and trusted third parties.

This would enable bank customers to click on an app, for instance, and get comparisons tailored to their individual circumstances, directing them to the bank account which offers them the best deal.

The CMAs package of banking reforms will help new challenger brands get a stronger foothold in a market, which is of vital importance to the whole economy. So how should the legacy banking brands respond?

In a fiercely competitive banking sector, customers are looking for a seamless, consistent experience across all platforms and devices. They also expect real-time information at their fingertips.

For traditional banks, this means providing up-to-the-minute data on customer account balances, visual ‘how to’ guides for opening accounts and basic details like branch opening hours and 24-hour customer support.

Tools and services now have to be mobile-first and best-in-class to meet customer expectations. A single customer view of interactions across all touch-points will provide valuable data to guide decisions on where to focus innovation.

Banks must also invest in the right technology and work with the right tech partners to gather data and mine useful insights. Well-designed digital interfaces and simple-to-execute online interactions need to become the norm.

The challenge of how to make the best use of physical space is a tricky one, but the in-branch experience is already evolving – Barclays has been trialling the use of its network of physical branches as click & collect points to increase footfall and make visiting their local bank branch a more useful experience for the customer.

Banks need to improve functions such as user identification, inputting of account details and setting-up of regular payments.

By using digital capabilities to put the focus not just on efficiencies but on personalised customer experiences, it’s not too late for legacy banks – they can still differentiate their brand.

But they need to act now. Disruption and reform are calling and it’s time to go big on change or risk not going forward at all.

Fintech, the dawn of financial control for consumers

By Giovanni Daprá, CEO of MoneyFarm

The rise of all things digital is widely documented and it has altered the way all individuals live their lives. From entertainment to shopping to keeping in touch with friends, the way consumers behave and what they expect from the companies they engage with has changed. They expect their lives to be simple and hassle-free, if it can be done online at a convenient time then even better.

Yet many individuals still have the bank account they have had for decades and put up with a service designed for profit making rather than for individual financial needs.

The financial crisis gave way to the rise of fintechs. In the wake of the mis-selling scandals and global financial market crash, trust in financial services and the banks in particular was at an all-time low. Fintech emerged and worked to democratise finance, lowering costs, introducing new ways of managing money and putting the power back into the hands of consumers.

These agile digital organisations are focussed on making financial services stronger, better and more suited to the digital ages. The fintechs started by disrupting payments, loans and currency exchange. They are changing asset management, banking and insurance, altering the way the regulators view services and reshaping the industry from the outside in.

In 2016 financial services is all about the individual again. How can they get the most out of their money, their insurance, how can they save time and money so they can focus on living? These are the questions that fintechs are answering.

At the touch of a button individuals can transfer money across the world, their bank sends them notifications on their spending habits and they can have a fully diversified investment portfolio in just five minutes. All these services exist and are removing hidden costs.

Fintech is not just about providing a better service in a digital way, it is about creating a financial services industry that individuals understand. Investing was once the preserve of the wealthy few but with the introduction of fintech providers it is far more accessible, the veil can be lifted and more and more people can and should access the market.

The issue we now face is changing habits, not just of individuals but of generations. Earlier this year we conducted some research with Explain the Market and found that 11 million Brits will be looking for some sort of financial advice this year. But when you look into this you find that almost 50% of young adults look for that advice from their parents who have grown up in a world of rising interest rates where cash really is king. The challenge for fintechs is getting individuals to change the habits of the generations before them.
Peer to peer lending and crowd funding has managed to work its way into British rhetoric. These businesses have grown rapidly and have given individuals an alternative when bank lending has been low. The challenge for fintechs now is to move individuals away from their bank for the day to day services into something more flexible and at a lower cost.

The benefit of fintech on the consumer is huge; lower rates, increased flexibility, 24 hour access and the technology platforms designed to suit the modern consumer. MoneyFarm have just published the Fintech Bible to help consumers navigate the new world and take control of their finances. In 2016 you do not need to rely on your bank for everything.

What does the future hold for robo?

By Dr Richard Theo, CEO at Wealthify

Robo-investing and robo-advice are on the verge of a major breakthrough in the UK. Consulting firm A. T. Kearney estimates the rapidly-expanding sector is set to grow 68 per cent annually, and could be worth $2.2 trillion globally by 2020. Around half of this is expected to come from assets already invested with traditional managers, which is why big brands are looking to get in on the act – InvestTec Wealth, Brewin Dolphin, Hargreaves Lansdown and Barclays are all believed to be launching robo services in the UK this year. And they are not likely to be the only ones.

‘Robo’ has been adopted as a loose, catch-all term for removing humans from various parts of the investment process and replacing them with automation, algorithms and slick digital platforms. It covers a spectrum of different models, from robo-advice, which recommends investment based on information about lifestyle, goals, risk levels and savings, to robo-investing, which usually refers to cases where algorithms select and potentially trade a portfolio on someone’s behalf.

There is every reason to welcome this concept, not as a fad, but as a viable, mainstream investing channel for everyone. Why? Because the vast majority of ordinary savers are priced-out of traditional wealth management services, their cash rotting away in high street accounts earning record low interest rates averaging 0.25 per cent a year.

In short, there’s a desperate need to make investing easy and convenient, to help the typical saver to grow their money and shore up their financial future. And with a quarter of Britons having less than £3,000 saved (according to data from Wealthify) the solution must also be low cost and affordable for the mass market who aren’t willing to pay £150* per hour for financial advice. Robo-investing, with its far cheaper operating model holds great promise as a way to achieve this overdue democratisation of savings and investments.

But it’s not just cost that is driving accessibility. Robo changes how people access investment services. Anyone, anywhere with an internet connection can sign up and start investing in minutes, check their investments and withdraw them any time they like. It’s exactly this kind of instant, agile service that appeals to the younger generation, and it’s leaving many banks and traditional providers scratching their heads as they try to work out how to compete. Robo appeals to the iPhone generation – those accustomed to polished online services – and crucially, to those who aren’t wedded to the big, and in some cases damaged, financial brands.

So robo ticks a number of boxes, and certainly machines are a lot better than humans at some tasks. But even so, the question is will people be comfortable handing over their money to a machine?

Being successful in today’s complex financial markets is a matter of processing and analysing tremendous amounts of data as quickly as possible – a task to which computers, with their superior precision and computational power are perfectly suited. Successful investing also requires discipline and consistency; humans are prone to bias, panic and emotional decision-making, all of which can spell disaster for a portfolio. Many of today’s top institutional investors know this and are increasingly adopting algorithms and automation to avoid losing competitive edge. Across financial services technology is taking centre-stage, driving huge improvements in customer experience, security, risk management and operational efficiency.

But, when it comes to money, savers will need reassurance that their life savings aren’t totally at the mercy of an equation and the success of robo may ultimately depend on there being the right balance of human and machine. Technology may take the starring role, but there’s a comfort in knowing humans are there in the background, designing, building, and tweaking the algorithms, and ultimately keeping a watchful, reassuringly human eye on the money.

So, in short, the future of robo looks bright, as long as it’s a blend of artificial and human intelligence. And if the industry meets its phenomenal growth potential, robots could become the servants of human-kind, financially at least, a lot sooner than we think.

*According to research carried out by Unbiased.co.uk

20 milliseconds can save your life, or ruin you financially

Harald Helnwein, CEO of Novofina

If you crash your car into a tree, it only takes 20ms for the airbag to save your life! The blink of an eye takes 5 times longer and still is nothing, try it out yourself.

On the stock markets nowadays, fortunes are made or lost in 20 ms. Millions of orders are sent, cancelled and executed in an instant, over and over again. Not by shouting floor brokers or floor traders but by super-fast, super-smart machines. The days of shooting from the hip at a stock exchange, those days are over.

Real wealth management is done fact driven and it is executed precisely. Trading algorithms, like ours at Novofina, can analyze the single best stock out of 5000 to buy with your money in less than 20ms. And it can do it in the next 20ms again, and again, and again, 24/7, 365 days a year. It never gets greedy, it never panics, it never comes late to work, it never goes on vacation, it never suffers from burn out, it never gets divorced, it never guesses wildly with your hard earned money. Can your human financial advisor, your fund manager do the same?

P.S.: See you on Tuesday, June 19th, when I speak at “Meet the Innovators”.

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