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Investing and trading in the financial markets can be an extremely rewarding and profitable activity, but it does come with varying degrees of risk. Generally speaking those investors that play it safe aren't usually the ones that end up making big money: greater risk often brings bigger rewards.

To make wise investment decisions you do need to know what you're doing. Understanding how the markets work, developing effective trading strategies, building up an in-depth knowledge of the market and staying on top of current trends are all essential. Nerves of steel can also be required if prices start to fall dramatically at times of national or global economic instability.

Obviously learning all of that takes time. Plus, all of the theory in the world is no guarantee of being able to hold your own in the real cut and thrust of the online markets. That is where social trading comes in.

Social trading

Social trading platforms are both trading sites and social networks that are focussed on the business of trading and investment. Traders can interact and discuss trades and markets, pooling their knowledge and instincts for mutual benefit. You can also observe each other's trades in real time, seeing exactly what makes a successful investor.

The benefits for anyone new to financial trading are obvious. You can pick up tips from successful traders, hearing how to do it direct from other investors. You can sit in on strategy sessions and gain understanding of the different approaches that can be taken.

What is copy trading?

Copy trading is one of the most popular aspects of social trading. It involves following traders that have a successful strategy and copying them, trade for trade. This makes it an ideal way for new investors to begin trading in forex, stocks, cryptocurrencies or other commodities. Making copy trades of the most profitable traders is the best way to learn the ropes. You'll be making trades and making money while picking up skills, strategies and insights that are essential for any successful trader.

Most platforms allow you to study the investments and track record of traders you might want to follow, narrowing them down according to the nature of their investments, their level of activity and other parameters that you can specify. That means you can copy those traders you most want to emulate, who are trading in commodities you are interested in or who have a level of risk tolerance that you are comfortable imitating.

It's perfectly reasonable to stick with copy trading as a long-term strategy. But you may also learn enough to strike out on your own, and have other traders begin to follow and copy you. If that is the case then you can often earn a bonus income, as many social trading sites pay a commission to their most successful traders in return for them attracting copy traders to their platform.

Using social trading to your advantage

It's always more effective to learn by doing. Copy trading and social trading generally is a far quicker way to find authentic trading information than searching through newspapers, books, magazines and websites, not all of which are reliable or trustworthy sources. On a social trading site, it's easy to see if a trader knows what they're talking about, or if a strategy is successful. Plus, you can ask them exactly what you need to know. In a way, it's the equivalent of having a one-on-one session with a skilled financial tutor.

As you become more experienced you'll benefit from being part of a wider investment community that can prove an invaluable support network. Collaborations, information sharing and mutual advice can all be accessed, and thanks to the wonders of the worldwide web you can easily have an international community of allies and advisors on hand at all times.

Popular social trading platforms include eToro, Spiking, Trading View, Covesting and others. All of these platforms have different advantages or disadvantages, depending on the markets you want to trade in and the methods you want to use.

If you are thinking of getting into investment trading in any form there's no doubt that social trading is the best way to begin. Not only will you benefit from the information sharing and advice of a dedicated trading community, but by using copy trading you'll be able to start trading and making a profit immediately, without having to spend years studying the process. Learn while you earn, and soon you too could be a successful trader that others will want to follow.

 

 

 

Achieving financial independence is a tough task.

The first thing you need is a vehicle to get you to that goal. There's no doubt that a lot of people have struck rich by entering the recruitment market. As knowledge workers have become more important the gap between success and failure in companies has become smaller, and companies have become willing to pay for the talent on the market. If you have personality, flair and a fantastic ability to build relationships then recruitment may be a mechanism whereby you can do some amazing things with your life. In this article we will take a look at some of the ways you can go about starting up a recruitment business. It takes hard work and commitment, but those in recruitment often love the process too.

Choose a sector

Recruitment is a massive field. You need to decide whether you want to do recruitment for permanent jobs or temporary jobs. You need to pick a niche or a geographical area to focus on. A place to start is to think about where you have the most experience. If you have connections, relationships and opportunities in a certain sector then that may be the place to build your business. It is also important to think about whether people are willing to pay for the kinds of people you want to recruit. If the job roles you want to recruit for are oversubscribed with talented people it's going to be difficult to charge for providing candidates.

Get some funds behind you

It is a good idea to enter a new business with plenty of money behind you. This isn't always possible, but you need to have enough posture to be able to make sales without coming across as desperate. This may mean looking for some recruitment funding from a specialist recruitment financier or going to your bank. It may also mean cutting your regular monthly expenses in order to free up money for your business. Cash flow kills businesses. Make sure that you have projected where you want to be in six months and that you have the money to get there.

Work on yourself constantly

As any entrepreneur will tell you it is crucial that you work on yourself in order to be successful in any field. When working in recruitment, where soft skills are pivotal, you need to wake up with a good attitude, talk with passion, and understand the field that you are recruiting for. If you don't have this triad of competencies then you are doomed to failure. Read leadership books, attend seminars, listen to audiobooks and build yourself up as a person so that you can stay positive amidst rejection. You need to have the attitude that every no is one step closer to a yes and that you need to keep on picking up the phone, booking meetings, and doing the activities that will lead to success.

Work on candidates CVs

Recruitment professionals normally love to be on the phones and talking to people. Where they let themselves down quite frequently is in the preparation of the marketing brochures that get the sales. The marketing brochures I speak of are candidates CVs. When you talk to a candidate get talking about their successes in previous jobs. Get specific numbers that they have achieved.

I implemented a review project that led to a system that saved the company 30% per annum in staff costs.

I changed the front desk processes saving us an hour a day per person.

I increased sales year-on-year by 45% and hit targets of 70,000 per month every month.

By getting CVs achievement focused you give candidates a much higher chance of getting hired, and you a significantly better opportunity of making placements. Don't neglect CVs; invest time in them.

Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become the recruiter's new favourite tool. You have just about every  recruiter and candidates at your disposal on the system, and accessible for free. It might be worth getting a premium subscription to access more filters, but use the tool regularly and take a laser approach to finding the right candidates for your job placements.

Recruitment businesses are a fantastic way to start out with very little and build a big business. When you have moved to the stage where you have several recruitment consultants under you, you are on the journey to financial freedom. Build your brand, build yourself, and build the people you interact with a positive mental attitude and you will succeed.

 

 

 

Challenges accessing bank finance and credit are hampering construction growth despite a buoyant market, say 75 percent of surveyors.

Cited development finance as the biggest obstacle in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors', RICS, construction and infrastructure market survey for the third quarter of 2018.

"When asked how credit conditions have changed over the past three months, 12 per cent more respondents reported a deterioration rather than an improvement," said the study.  And they added they expected this to get worse over the next three to 12 months.

RICS senior economist  Jeffrey Matsu said: "Lenders are exercising more prudence in evaluating the kind of risk they take onto to their balance sheets. Overall the market is at a mature cycle."

The news comes at a time when 20 percent of surveyors in the study reported their workloads had increased rather decreased compared with 15 per cent in the previous quarter.

A third or participants reported a rise in private housing workloads up from 25 per cent in the previous quarter. Private commercial workloads saw an increase of 18 per cent compared with a 12 per cent rise in the second quarter. Activity across the private industrial and public non-housing categories improved with net balances of nine and 11 per cent respectively.

Workloads increased across all regions with acceleration the highest in the Midlands and the East of England. The pace of private housing activity was strongest outside London and the South East.

New business enquiries rose and 42 per cent of respondents reported an increase in new hires in their company in the third quarter. A total of 237 surveying practices across the UK took part in the study which was weighted across five regions.

The construction industry is a sector that is increasingly vulnerable to emerging trends. Changes in consumer expectation and the increasing potential of technology have altered the sector in many ways, and continue to be the main drivers of the industry. For those builders and contractors hoping to keep up with the changes, knowing the latest trends allows them to keep ahead of the competition and offer a service that runs parallel with the expectations of those that utilize their businesses. These three key trends are fast becoming the primary motivators for those in the construction industry, and by integrating them into your business model, your company will be far better able to provide the service that will keep you ahead of the competition.

Contained and modular builds

Even as the demand for new homes continues to be a rising concern, so too does the need to keep costs down and offer something new. Modular buildings are not new ideas, but in recent years they have become one of the fastest growing trends in the construction industry. Modular builds are those constructions that are built in one place and then relocated as complete in the space that has been designated by the customer. In terms of homes, this offers a huge number of benefits, especially when it comes to cost. Modular homes can also play a big part in reducing any environmental damage, and for that reason alone it’s worth looking closer at the growth of modular construction and integrating options into your portfolio.

Painters and Decorators

Outsourcing to independent contractors has always been a simple option for those businesses that are looking for ways to keep their costs down. Ongoing wage bills are always a concern, and outsourcing to professional independent contractors is a simple way of keeping those ongoing payments at a minimum. However, more than ever there’s a need to provide quality assurance, and that will mean specialty insurance policies. Always check that your painters have the required level of painters insurance, and ensure that you see the paperwork from them. Professional contractors will have procured their painters insurance at Next-Insurance.com and should be happy to produce the required paperwork when asked. Outsourcing is growing in popularity, but if you want to take advantage of this trend then you need to ensure that you make the right hires.

Drone technology

Despite the growing number of legal requirements, drone technology is changing the way that construction projects are handled. Drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles) are being increasingly used by construction companies because they cannot only access remote areas easily, they are also equipped to collect any required data, carry out safety inspections, allow management to oversee progress, and even help to create 3D images that can help with the blueprint stage. You should expect the see the use of drone technology continues its rise as the tech of choice for the cutting-edge construction company.

As government legislation continues to play a major role in the evolution of the construction sector, it's up to every business to keep one step ahead of those changes. Keeping up with trends and making sure that you have the ability to take advantage of them could be the key to keeping your contracts coming in and your business thriving.

The buy to let second charge market place provides a range of solutions for borrowers who have perhaps been refused a mortgage by their current lender or high street bank.

Popular second charge lenders like Together Money, Step One Finance and Shawbrook Bank are often more flexible in their application criteria and can step in where applicants don’t meet the normal main stream lenders criteria. Landlords can borrow up to 75% loan to value against their buy to let investments with loan repayment terms from 3 – 30 years from a wide range of lenders in this space.

With the help of Simon Nicholson and the second charge loan brokers at Lending Expert here we can take a look at some buy to let case studies, key facts, and features of these types of loans on the market today:

 

For further key facts and application criteria on these products see: Secured Loans against buy to let rental property – what you need to know from Lending Expert published on Landlord Today.

What lenders are available?

There are a wide selection of lenders who offer secured loans on buy to let properties, many of which however only accept applications via their approved brokers and intermediaries. Below is an example of some of the most popular and widely known lenders on the market today:


Buy to let case study example:

Mortgage Enquiry Which Completed in 5 Working Days

Problem – Our client wanted to borrow £60,000 on his unencumbered buy to let terraced property so he could carry out refurbishments to a number of his other buy to let investment properties. He had only been self-employed for just over 12 months and had no proof of income other than a copy of the assured hold tenancy agreement. He also had been recently bereaved and as a result he had some late and missed credit card payments too. He had searched the internet and could not be helped until he approached one of our directly authorised brokers who introduced the enquiry to Lending Expert.

Solution – After carrying out research including a soft quotation credit search the enquiry was referred to one of our buy to let lenders based upon the merits of the case. The lender approved the referral within 30 minutes for the amount requested. Lending Expert paid for the valuation fee so the client did not have to pay any upfront fees as a mortgage deed was signed which meant no conveyancing costs were incurred.

Outcome – The client completed within 5 working days and could now carry out his refurbishment programme immediately ensuring that he could let out a couple of his properties sooner rather than later generating extra rental income for his business.

 

 

 

Buying a house as a first-time buyer is notoriously tricky. What’s more, it has been getting even more difficult as of late. A range of factors, from stagnating wages to increased credit risks, can make it harder for many would-be homeowners to get their plans off the ground. However, the family could be an answer to your troubles.

Here with the help Jason Bailey mortgage broker at comparison website Lending Expert we’re going to take a look at why first-time homebuyers are having trouble and how a little help from their parents could be the solution that they need.

First-time buyer woes

Until this year, there were more people moving home than buying houses for the first time since 1995. Despite the ongoing recovery of the British economy, slow wage growth is considered one of the major reasons that the past twenty years have seen a decline in first-time homeowners. The average price of a home has raised by 35% in the past five years, with deposits at an all-time high. It’s raising money for the deposit that proves the biggest hurdle of all, but it’s not the only one.

The process of applying is often considered another hurdle, as well. Under-30s have the lowest credit score on average out of every age range, with younger people at a natural disadvantage because of the weight that the length of your credit history has in your score. Furthermore, a steady employment history is another key factor for traditional lenders. Fewer people are staying employed at any one position, moving from role to role and employer to employer instead.

A little help from my family

More and more young people are relying on the help of mum and dad, and even grandma and grandad, to pass the first and greatest hurdle of attaining a mortgage: saving for a deposit. Gifted deposits are becoming much more common, with many older family members raiding their savings to either give the money or to lend it.

While a gifted deposit is rather straightforward, borrowing the money for a deposit can have an impact on the mortgage application process. If the loan is formalised with a written and signed agreement, it still counts as a loan in the eyes of lenders like banks. This means that it can affect the affordability assessment. With a loan on an application, the buyer may not be able to borrow as much or may find themselves facing higher repayment rates.

However, lenders are fast recognising both the difficulty that first-time buyers have, as well as the growing role that parents and grandparents have in supporting the current housing market and have a few solutions of their own to offer beyond taking out a second mortgage.

The guarantor mortgage

One of the options offered is that of the guarantor mortgage. With this kind of loan, first-time homebuyers can take on larger loans than they might otherwise be allowed to. This is because they have a guarantor, often a parent or grandparent, offering some security for the debt. In most cases, a family member will offer up collateral, such as their own property, to make the option available. 25% equity on that property is the usual minimum requirement, and the lender puts a charge on that.

The security of a guarantor allows first-time homebuyers to buy with a smaller deposit without having to cope with huge mortgage repayments. If the borrower can keep up with the repayments, their guarantor has to pay nothing. However, should the borrower default on the loan, the responsibility is shared by the guarantor. They may have to remortgage the home or, in dire situations, may face repossession.

 Family springboard mortgages

Another option is the family springboard mortgage, which works a little differently. In this case, parents or grandparents will link their savings account to the borrower’s mortgage. The money isn’t accessible to the children, but acts as the deposit, allowing the borrower to skip the step of raising more money while contributing to the overall repayment lowering repayment interest. During most of the repayment period, this money is locked away, inaccessible to the parents.

When the borrower pays off a significant chunk of the mortgage and the remaining amount matches the amount in the savings account, the money will be freed up again and the borrower will continue to pay off the rest of the loan that was once covered by the savings account.

Making mortgages more accessible

Parents are playing a larger role in the growth of first-time buyers, leading to 2018 being the first year in twenty that new homeowners account for more than half of all home purchases. Talk to your lender about which of these options are available if you think you could use a little help from the family.

 

The second charge mortgage marketplace has come a long way in recent years with lower fixed rates and no early repayment charges. Second charge lenders like Together Money and Masthaven have been offering borrowers a lifeline where they may not have meet the requirements of many the high street lenders and banks.

Here with the help of finance broker Simon Nicholson at Lending Expert Finance Monthly looks at 3 real life examples of where a second charge has proved to be an alternative solution for introducing mortgage brokers and their clients.

Case Study 1: A Buy to Let Re - Mortgage Enquiry Which Completed In 5 Working Days

Case Study 2: A Second Charge Mortgage Enquiry – Re Mortgage Down Valuation & A £19,500 Consolidation at 101% LTV

Case Study 3: A Second Charge Mortgage Enquiry – £26,700 Consolidation Secured Loan To Reduce Client’s Monthly Outgoings By £800 per month

Case Study - A Second Charge Mortgage Enquiry – Remortgage Affordability Decline & a £19,000 Consolidation To Make Monthly Savings

The opportunity to grow your ecommerce store is exciting—increasing customer demand means you’re doing something right in terms of branding, marketing and selling. Scaling your ecommerce store will give you the opportunity to take your operations to the next level and boost your revenue intake. What seemed like only a goal when you started your store is now becoming reality, which is something to celebrate.

But it’s important to understand how to avoid growing pains when scaling an ecommerce store, otherwise your dream of expansion can quickly turn into a logistical nightmare. Today’s online shoppers expect a smooth, hassle-free, personalized shopping experience whether you’re a small boutique website serving hundreds or an ecommerce powerhouse serving hundreds of thousands.

As you scale up, you’re still responsible for providing an optimal user experience. This means ensuring your online store avoids hiccups, glitches and diminished customer service as it grows. Here are a few key areas on which to concentrate when you’re expanding your online retail business. 

Intuitive Navigation

Shoppers must be able to navigate your ecommerce website smoothly, no matter how many landing pages or product pages you add as you grow. Always keep in mind consumers’ goals as they navigate forward and backward through your sales funnel. Regardless of the current size of your product catalogue, it must always be two things: “up-to-date at all times and easy to navigate.” A website with convoluted navigation risks frustrating customers, possibly even causing them to abandon their shopping journey before checkout.

Think of your site navigation in a hierarchical fashion. The fundamental structure should descend from broad to specific; from your home page down through your categories and finally to individual product pages. Think about how people actually shop: They click, go back, click on something else, go forward, go back to the home page, explore a different category and perhaps even start the process all over again. The simpler you can make navigation, the more easily people will find what they’re seeking in a timely manner.

Flexible Customer Service

You can rest assured website visitors will have questions along the way. As you grow, it’s important to consider how well you’re equipped to handle an influx of inquiries through various channels. Doing more sales means helping more customers through their purchasing journeys. Failure to provide flexible, responsive customer service can result in missed sales opportunities and customer annoyance.

As one Forbes contributor notes, more than 70 percent of U.S. consumers now “expect personalization” from online businesses. Here are a few key examples:

Another cornerstone of flexible customer service is providing a variety of channels through which customers can get in touch with your store. As you grow, it’s more imperative to offer more than just email-based customer service.

Consider the difference: In one scenario, you respond to customer inquiries via email, generally within 24 to 36 hours. This means by the time you respond, potential customers will have already exited your website and moved on with their lives—bringing them back into your sales funnel requires them to jump through more hoops. Now imagine you’re able to address customer inquiries in real time using a live chat system, either staffed by humans or featuring a hybrid of artificial intelligence and human input. The latter tool allows you to answer customers’ most pressing questions and listen to their concerns on the spot, allowing you to influence their purchasing decisions without interruption.

Customers are increasingly turning to social media to connect with brands, both publicly and privately. As you grow, it’s important not to let customer comments and questions slip through the cracks across social media platforms. You never want your customer base to feel that you’ve become “too big to care” about them, so emphasized helpful and timely responses on social media for best results. 

Seamless Checkout

As you grow, remember the basics: What is an ecommerce store? At its core, an ecommerce store is a place to facilitate the buying and selling of products via the internet. At the heart of these transactions lies a speedy, seamless checkout process. Baymard Institute calculated the average shopping cart abandonment rate across 40 different studies: 69.89 percent. Knowing this, it becomes apparent how important it is to minimize customer churn toward the end of your sales funnel.

So, what might be causing customers to exit your store before making a purchase? Here are a few possibilities:

Scaling up your ecommerce store does not mean shifting your focus from quality to quantity to keep up with demand. Rather, it means growing in a sustainable way and making sure you can still serve your customers well. Navigation, customer service and checkout are all key areas in which people expect top-notch service. This fact remains true throughout the duration of an ecommerce store’s lifespan, from its first days to its future expansion.

 

 

Emerging market (EMs) currencies have been particularly volatile in 2018 due to the rise of the dollar, which has increased the cost of dollar-denominated debt and contributed to crises in Argentina, Turkey and Venezuela. These effects could soon spread to other EM currencies such as those used by Chile, Poland and Hungary, which all have a large amount of US debt. Meanwhile the future looks uncertain for the Chinese renminbi and Russian ruble, which are at risk from the effects of Trump’s ‘trade war’ and international sanctions respectively.

With so much potential for volatility, forex trading provider IG is taking a look at what the next 12 months could hold for currency pairs including USD/CNH, EUR/RUB and USD/TRY. The firm’s presenter Sara Walker will be speaking with professional trader Paul Bratby to discuss a broad range of related topics, including:

There will be a live Q&A during the session, so viewers can put forward any topics they’d like Paul to discuss, or any questions they want answered. They can post questions to the #IGForexChat Community page, or by using #IGForexChat on Twitter or Facebook.

To watch the live video stream, tune in at 6.30pm (UK time) on Thursday 1 November via IG’s trading platform, or the company’s YouTube, Facebook or Twitter pages. For more information, please contact Irene Castaneda (irene.castaneda@ig.com).

About IG: IG empowers informed, decisive, adventurous people to access opportunities in over 15,000 financial markets. With a strong focus on innovation and technology, the company puts client needs at the heart of everything it does.

IG’s vision is to be a global leader in retail trading and investments. Established in 1974 as the world’s first financial spread betting firm, it continued leading the way by launching the world’s first online and iPhone trading services.

IG is now an award-winning, multi-platform trading company, the world’s No.1 provider of CFDs* and a global leader in forex. It provides leveraged services with negative balance protection, and offers an execution-only share dealing service in the UK, Australia, Germany, France, Ireland, Austria and the Netherlands. IG has recently launched a range of affordable, fully managed investment portfolios, to provide a comprehensive offering to investors and active traders.

It is a member of the FTSE 250, with offices across Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East – plus the US, where it offers on-exchange limited risk derivatives via the Nadex brand.

Risk warning: Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

* Based on revenue excluding FX (published financial statements, February 2018).

Halloween has become the third-biggest retail event in the UK, with businesses of all kinds taking advantage of the trend by adapting current products or introducing new offerings for eager customers.

Take a walk along any high street or browse the net at this time of year and you’ll find it almost impossible to avoid the tell-tale signs of an annual event lurking just around the corner.

Whether it be a window display or a hero website banner, you’ll be left in no doubt that Halloween is upon us. Yes, you might hear people grumble that the seasonal products seem to be launched earlier every year, but those of us in business know that a timely marketing campaign with sufficient runtime behind it makes complete sense.

Not so long ago, Halloween in the UK was largely overlooked. Certainly, children would pester their parents to go out trick or treating, but that was solely so they could collect free sweets or money from their neighbours — I’m sure they’d be happy to do so on any given day of the year. Nowadays though, it seems that a greater number of British adults are adopting the undoubtedly Americanised spirit of All Hallows Eve too (see www.marketingweek.com/2017/10/27/why-halloween-is-now-crucial-to-some-uk-brands), which opens up new revenue streams for savvy businesses.

There has been a significant rise in sales of adult Halloween costumes, while companies both traditional and contemporary tailor or introduce new services to cater for the growing popularity. One space that has truly taken advantage of the October occasion is online gaming, which has a strong tradition of developing topical products. Developers never miss a trick with their themes, treating their customers to games they return to time and time again — one of the most popular this year comes in the form of 'Halloween Fortune' from Paddy Power at casino.paddypower.com/game/halloween-fortune-cptn, which sees players take on witches, potions, skulls and black cats in the name of seeking the jackpot (or should that be jack-o-lantern-pot?).

Another adult-only arena that has linked sales growth directly with Halloween is the alcohol industry. Sascha Cordes, a senior brand manager with Budweiser UK, had this to say: "The fact we’ve seen such strong sales growth for beer on Halloween proves it isn’t just an occasion for kids."

"People of all ages want to have a unique experience and adults will spend big on great experiences," he added. "This isn’t just a US trend anymore either – we’re now activating major campaigns in China and all across Europe. Brand affinity is key for us. Moving forward, we want Budweiser to be the brand that’s associated with Halloween parties.”

Statistics provider Statista’s own data, which can be viewed at www.statista.com/statistics/330279/halloween-products-expenditure-in-the-united-kingdom-uk-forecast, also points to strong growth for Halloween-themed products in the UK, with figures leaping from £230 million in 2013 to a predicted £419 million for the 2018 period.

Love it or loathe it, Halloween has quickly gone from minority player to the third-biggest retail event in the UK and its popularity shows no signs of waning any time soon: a scary thought for businesses reluctant to move with the trend.

Whether you are new to financial investing or simply considering an alternative investment angle, you may have seen adverts promoting “CFDs” online. The term stands for contracts for difference – an arrangement between a broker and a financial trader to exchange the difference between the opening price of a contract and the closing price of a contract. The use of CFDs allows traders to profit from the movement of thousands of global markets without having to actually own the underlying instrument, which can be fiat currency or commodities such as gold.

Rather than making a physical acquisition of a stock, commodity, foreign currency or government bond, CFD brokers allow financial traders to open a contract designed to replicate the profit and loss they’d make on a physical trade. A CFD is open with a broker until a closing order has been placed – the profit or loss is calculated as the difference between the underlying instrument’s value from the opening and closing order. CFDs have helped people to trade from home, as the BBC’s Millions by the Minute show testifies.

How many markets can you trade with CFDs?

Part of the appeal of CFDs is that you can have direct access to literally thousands of markets, from single stocks, index trackers and forex pairs through to commodities index options and much more. So, whether you’ve heard some news about a company that’s thriving or struggling, or you believe a nation’s economy is facing a turbulent time, opening a CFD order on a stock or currency can be done within a matter of minutes, allowing you to speculate on its value.

What are the costs incurred with CFD trading?

When you choose to trade CFDs, you’ll be required to pay a spread". This is the difference between the "buy" and "sell" price of an underlying instrument. The smaller the spread, the less the price needs to trend in your favour before you begin to profit from your trade. On the other side of the coin, tighter spreads can also help mitigate losses if a trend moves against you. CFD brokers will also charge holding costs for CFDs open at the end of every trading day. Some CFD brokers will also charge commission on each trade, although some prefer to factor their commission into the size of their spreads.

Typical CFD trading strategies

CFDs are growing in popularity as they allow investors to profit on rising and falling markets. If the value of an underlying instrument is trending upwards, CFD traders can open "long" positions in the hope that the price will continue to rise; meanwhile, underlying instruments trending down give CFD traders an opportunity to "short" it and close the position when the price bottoms out. Generally, CFDs are held for only a matter of days or weeks as opposed to long-term periods. They can also be a useful hedge against other trades to mitigate losses in other areas of your trading portfolio.

In the UK, CFD trading is proving particularly successful as investors do not pay stamp duty on their profits at the time of writing. Put simply, if you’re looking for an easy way to diversify your investment portfolio – with the ability to implement stop losses and take-profit orders too – CFDs can help investors get the most from their trades, with broker leverage allowing traders to maximise their investments on underlying assets.

Of course, with market leverage brings risk, with the chance to significantly increase your losses as well as your gains – something to be aware of before diving in head-first.

In a world of central banks and international monetary funds, it can be difficult to believe that the gargantuan world of finance was once in the hands of a few small and highly influential families. Before the modern financial era, the only groups with access to the power and capital to become banking titans were wealthy families, often members of the aristocracy with deep connections to the ruling governments of their day.

The legacies of some of these banking families are still visible today, as the financial operations they established are still going strong and continue to provide services to millions of people. Here's a round-up of the most powerful banking families of all time.

The Baring Family

The Baring family are today an English and German family with strong business presences in both countries. Originally founded by Peter Baring, the chief burgher of the city of Groningen, the descendants of this wealthy merchant went on to establish one of the most influential banking operations in Europe. The Baring Bank's peak was during the height of the industrial revolution when they provided credit to the rapidly growing corporations that were driving technological advancement. The bank is no more, following their spectacular and unexpected collapse in 1995, as detailed at www.theguardian.com/business, but the family lives on in the aristocratic circles of both England and Germany.

The House of Medici

The Medici family was probably one of the most powerful dynasties in human history, having produced several popes, world leaders and politicians. The bank of Medici was first founded in Renaissance Florence and the wealthy shareholders of the Medici family funded many of the fantastic architectural icons that grace the city to this day. The Renaissance culture that they were so instrumental in developing is still celebrated in the form of modern media and entertainment, with one of the more popular examples being the Da Vinci Diamonds slot game at http://games.paddypower.com/game/da-vinci-diamonds-gig, named after the very artist to whom the Medici family awarded so much patronage. Alas, unlike the casino game, the Medici bank collapsed in the 18th century, when the family was destroyed by the Austrians.

The Morgan Family

The Morgan family is likely to be one that rings a bell to most readers given that their most enduring legacy, www.morganstanley.com, is one of the largest investment banks on Earth. Originally descending from Wales, the Morgan family rose to prominence during an explosive period of growth during the American gilded age, with their New York banking outfit being the premier financier in the country. At one point the head of the family, J.P. Morgan, had a staggering estimated worth of staggering $119 billion, making him one of the richest human beings ever to have lived. Despite a series of mergers and name changes, the legacy of the Morgans lives on, and members of the family still occupy prominent positions in the upper crust of American society.

While it may seem inconceivable that single families could amass so much power and influence today, their enduring impact is a testament to how much individuals have the ability to change the world around them.

 

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