Monthly Archives: July 2014

Who Won The CEO of The Year at The UK Stock Market Awards?

Move over PayPal–there is a new player in the online banking and electric money game, and it’s Optimal Payments! More importantly, anyone hoping to endeavor in this line of work needs to keep their eye on this team’s CEO—the 2014 recipient of the UK Stock Market CEO of the Year Award. After reading several raving reviews regarding the wildly success Optimal Payments, it should come to no surprise that Joel Leonoff was bestowed with the 2014 UK Stock Market Award for CEO of the Year. The UK Stock Market Awards, which is run by MSM Media Group (the owner of Shares Magazine), claims that the CEO of the Year Award is a person that:

…will reflect not only delivery of strong fiscal results, the highest level of financial controls and corporate governance and expert communication with the market but also the successful development and implementation of a company’s strategy. All of these factors should have resulted in healthy share price increases and likely outperformance of both the peer sector and the FTSE All-Share.

After reviewing the finalist for this award—all of whom were worthy—Joel Leonoff’s record over the last year made him a surefire victor. He served as Co-Chief Executive Officer from February 1, 2011 to July 31, 2011, but what has been most impressive is what he has achieved since August 1st, while holding the reigns himself. Under Leonoff’s tenure, Optimal Payments has performed better than most of its competitors and, additionally, continues to outperform the FTSE All-Share Index. In the last year, Optimal Payments’ share price has risen by 150%.

Allowing a business, like Optimal Payments, to succeed as it has requires a leader with vision. His vast knowledge of the online gaming industry is not enough, its foresight and innovation that has allowed Leonoff to take Optimal Payments the distance. In a time when the world is becoming more and more technologically-dependent, and when money is worth less than the paper it’s printed on, it’s time to move into the realm of online payment solutions and electronic money/e-wallet stored-value services.

While investment options are numerous, especially when it comes to digital options, I’d say that Optimal Payments is a horse worth backing. As Leonoff noted in his acceptance speech, Optimal Payments provided 2013 investors with “strong growth revenue and profits, [while] at the same time as delivering real and sustainable value for shareholders.”

We all know that the investors love Joel Leonoff, but a CEO who gives all the credit to his team is a CEO that anyone would desire to work under. In Leonoff’s closing comments, he let it be known that it was the employees of Optimal Payments that has led to the company’s success; that “this could not have been achieved without the dedication of our management team and employees worldwide. This is an accolade for the Optimal family, well done, I graciously accept this award on behalf of everyone at Optimal who made this possible and look forward to our continued success in the future.”

Selling Your House: How to Balance Control and Speed

It’s no secret that the housing market is tough for both buyers and sellers right now. Those who want to buy are struggling to get the mortgage they need from the banks, and this means that sellers have fewer options. A successful sale requires planning, time and a considerable amount of effort, but it is certainly possible if you do things the right way.

One of the main things to think about is how you’re going to balance the speed of the sale, and how much control you’ll have over it. On the one hand, you could quickly sell to a house buying company, or you could choose an estate agent.

Working With an Estate Agent

There are many companies out there that offer to buy your house without you having to go through any of the hassle of chains, viewings, or anything like that. For some, they are a great choice, but the main problem is that they afford you little control over the final selling price. You are simply given an offer by the company and that is that – they decide what your house is worth to them. Ultimately, this means that you will almost certainly get a lower price than you would if you chose to sell via the traditional route.

The answer to this then, is that you need to choose the right estate agents and strategy to suite your needs and your timescale.

There are lots of different ways of marketing and ultimately selling a house; some of them will cost a lot, meaning you’ll need to achieve a higher selling price, and others will be cheaper, simpler marketing methods that take a longer time. It’s all about what works for you, and crucially, something that works for your buyers. The type of buyers in your area for instance, will have a major impact on how you approach them. What may appeal to first time buyers might not be great for the buy-to-let people.

In an ideal world, you should pick a flexible estate agent like House Network, which offers you a great deal of control over how your property is marketed with customisable selling packages. This means that you may be able to change your strategy if you feel something isn’t working, and you might not have to sink a lot of money into something that isn’t right. Get the balance of control and speed right, and you’ll get your home sold at the price you want.

Betting the Bills: Ideas to Make Your Health Care More Affordable

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made it legally mandatory for all U.S. citizens to have health insurance. Regardless of whose side you’re on about ACA, the bigger financial issue is being able to make health care more affordable. These three steps will help ease the transition and make your bills a bit more manageable.

Get Familiar with Medical Charges Beforehand
Health insurance isn’t like walking into a retail store where members are able to see all options and decide between prices. While this is the case for monthly health insurance memberships, when health insurance bills are calculated, even the slightest modification can make the difference in whether mental or dental health care is covered.

For example, dental insurance companies may offer two “free” cleanings every six months. However, say this same patient came into a dentist’s office for jaw or tooth pain, and it turned out to be temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). This would be categorized as a “limited” exam and would not be covered under a dental cleaning.

If possible, contact the health or dental insurance beforehand to get an estimate on what will be covered and what won’t. Many insurance billing departments will demand either a medical or dental code in order to give an exact amount. Stand firm. Ask for an estimate. Even if the amount is higher later, at least the member will have a general idea. This also helps if a member gets a surprise co-pay or additional pay by the end of the visit. Just as dental and medical companies can call health insurance companies to verify what’s covered, the paying member has those same rights.

Sign Up for a Health Savings Account (HSA)
Health insurance may be expensive when it’s directly taken out of a paycheck, but opting for a health savings account may be the better option for members who don’t need to see medical professionals on a regular basis. Some companies will give their employees the option to do one or the other. If HSAs are chosen, then the employee can pay a smaller monthly health insurance bill. Use the remaining amount and deposit it into an HSA account. HSAs cover all valid medical, dental and vision charges as long as they can be traced to a legitimate health care company. This way, employees don’t have to reach into their own wallets to pay the difference. Take advantage of the savings plans and stay within your budget.

Embrace Digital Technology
Not every medical professional is thrilled with the idea of patients sending secure messages through their hospital or office. But for the more tech savvy medical professionals, this is incredibly useful. Up to a certain extent, patients can describe their symptoms and the doctor can give advice back electronically. This is a useful way to eliminate extra visits to the doctor’s office for non-medical emergencies, and beats getting misinformation online from non-licensed experts. And keep in mind, if patients opt for incorrect medical advice from non-professionals and a medical emergency happens, that makes it equally difficult for a SBMB Law office to pursue a health claim. It also helps free up the responsibility of the doctor from a medical malpractice lawsuit in Toronto if advice was taken from a non-professional first.

While health insurance members can’t totally control their payments or billing, having a better understanding of what can and cannot be controlled within medical expenses is a step in the right direction. Having a better understanding of rates, saving accordingly, and using technology to skip unnecessary co-pays may help to make every day medical spending more bearable.

Renting vs. Owning: 3 Key Factors to Consider

The choice to rent a home or buy is a complex one, made more complex because the benefits may change according to your circumstances. If you are living in a location for a short amount of time, renting is probably the better option. However, owning a home may be a better long-term investment, even if “long-term” is only a few years. Here are three key factors to consider when deciding which option is right for you.

Cost

In the short term, owning a home and renting are fairly similar. Both investments incur the one-time, initial costs of a down payment or security deposit, utilities setup, and property management fees. Even month-to-month, you may pay about the same for utilities and rent or a mortgage payment. However, the cost of owning a home is significantly less than renting property over time.

Depending on the terms of your mortgage, you will make monthly payments on your home anywhere from 10 to 30 years. If you have a fixed rate mortgage, the amount of your monthly payment will stay the same for the life of the loan. In the case of a variable rate, your interest may increase without very much warning.

You may be able to get a lower rate on your mortgage if you have a healthy credit history and stable income. Even when you have bad credit, lenders like Performance Mortgage & Financial Services Ltd., which provides mortgages in Edmonton, may be able to help you become eligible for a lower interest rate.

When renting, you will have to make a monthly payment to your landlord for the duration of your stay. Like variable interest rate mortgages, rent costs may change unexpectedly, making it difficult to accurately estimate your cost over time.

Many property management firms do not negotiate monthly rent costs. That doesn’t mean, however, that your credit health isn’t important. You may be denied tenancy if you do not have an adequate credit score, have a history of late payments and overdrafts, or do not have a steady source of income.

Taxes

One advantage of owning a home is the potential income tax breaks it provides. Whether you own a townhouse, mobile home, or cozy house in the suburbs, you may be eligible for these tax breaks:

  • Mortgage Interest: All of your mortgage loan interest (the bulk of most homeowner’s monthly bill) is deductible unless your loan is for $1 million or more.
  • Real Estate Taxes: Your property taxes are also deductible.
  • Home Office: If you use a home office as your principle place of business, you will be able to deduct a portion of your utilities, home insurance, and home repairs.
  • Accidental Damage and Loss: Uninsured loss that does not come to more than 10% of your gross annual income are also deductible.

As far as renting goes: while there are deductions available for landlords, there are no specific tax breaks for tenants.

Maintenance

Owning your dream home comes with the added burden of responsibility for home upkeep, from new paint to septic system maintenance. In some cases, your homeowners insurance will cover the costs of accidents, but most renovations and improvements will come out of your own pocket. The upside is that you can renovate.

When you rent a home, most of your maintenance costs are billed to your landlord. This means when the sink faucet breaks, you can just make a call to have it fixed instead of hiring a technician yourself. You might not be allowed to change the appearance of your rental to fit your own taste or comfort, however.

 

No two situations are the same. Many people choose to rent for years before they purchase their first home. This allows them to spend time finding the perfect home for their family, but may cost more than they would be spending on a mortgage payment in the meantime. If you are not sure whether renting or buying is right for you, consider discussing your situation with a mortgage lender or financial advisor.