Why Companies Should Consider Leasing Computers and Technology

Many companies are not aware of the significant benefits related to acquisition financing in computers and technology segments. The proper term for this type of financing is ‘ Technology lifecycle management ‘. Most business owners simply consider the following question: ‘Should I buy or lease my firms new computers and software and related products and services?’

Two old adages related to leasing still ring true when it comes to the technological aspect. That is that one should finance something and depreciates, and one should buy something that appreciates in value. Most business owners, and consumers as well know very well that computers depreciate in value. Systems we paid thousands of dollars for years ago are now hundreds of dollars. Walk into any ‘ big box ‘ retailer and see the dramatic moves in technology.

Business owners who finance technology demonstrate a higher level of cost effectiveness. The company wants to reap the benefits of the technology over the useful life of the asset, and, importantly, more evenly match the cash outflows with the benefits. Leasing and financing your technology allows you to stay ahead of the technology curve; that is to say you are always using the latest technology as it relates to your firms needs.

Businesses that lease and finance their technology needs are often working better within their capital budgets. Simply speaking they can buy more and buy smarter. Many companies that are larger in size have balance sheet issues and ROA (return on assets) issues that are compelling. They must stay within bank credit covenants and are measure often on their ability to generate income on the total level of assets being deployed in the company.

Lease financing allows those firms to address both of those issues. Companies can choose to employ an ‘ operating lease ‘ structure for their technology financing. This is more prevalent in larger firms, but works almost equally as well in small organizations. Operating leases are ‘ off balance sheet ‘. The firm adopts the stance of using technology, not owning technology. The lessor/lender owns the equipment, and has a stake in the residual value of the technology. The main benefit for the company is that the debt associated with the technology acquisition is not directly held on the balance sheet. This optimizes debt levels and profitability ratios.

At the end of those operating leases, which are usually 36 months long, the customer has the option of:

1. Returning the equipment
2. Buying the equipment ( not likely though )
3. Negotiating an extension of the financing for continued use of the computers, technology, etc.

Companies that have recently acquired computers and technology can in fact negotiate a’ sale leaseback ‘ on those same assets. This financing strategy brings cash back into the company, as the firm has employed a leasing and financing strategy building on our above noted them – using technology, not owning technology.

In summary, the key benefits of computer and technology lease financing are:

* The company can stay ahead of the technology curve
* Computer leasing and financing has significant balance sheet and income statement benefits
* The firm has flexibility with respect to buying new product, returning existing technology, and generating cash flow for purchases already made

Many of the benefits we have discussed relate to leasing in general. However, technology and lease financing are very perfectly suited to the business financing strategy of leasing.

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Technology Equipment and Software Financing

Technology equipment and software are very important for a business in today’s world. Technological or software equipment includes new computer system, routing software, safety equipment and so on. These types of equipment are generally very expensive and so the need for technology equipment and software financing arises. However most of the traditional lenders may not be ready to finance technological equipment or software. This is due to their inability to understand the purpose and type of this equipment. Therefore an expertise approach is required to understand the need for technological and software equipment. There are some genuine financing companies that offer help to acquire these types of equipment.

There are various categories of technology and software equipment. Therefore various options are allowed by financial institutions to get technology equipment and financing help. Audio visual equipment is one among them which includes cameras, sound equipment and so on. This equipment is really important for companies that specialize in audio video. Seeking the financial assistance of financing companies is required due to high price tags of this equipment.

Safety and security equipment is essential for certain companies. These types of equipment include metal detector, alarm equipment, closed circuit TV, digital video recording, motion detector, security gate, fire suppression and so on. These types are vitally important for maintaining the personal safety and security. Due to its highest price ranges, most of the companies could not afford to buy it. But technology equipment and software financing makes it possible for almost all companies to acquire safety and security equipment.

Telecommunication equipment helps in effective business communication. Thanks to these types of equipment, many companies are functioning properly without any communication gap. Latest telecommunication equipment is available now which helps in effective communication. Broadcasting equipment, multiplex equipment, telephone system, transmitting equipment etc are really important for a modern office. However their price ranges are extremely high making it impossible to afford for small and medium companies. Technology equipment and software financing is the only best option to meet all the essential requirements.

Computer hardware is essential for most of the companies. Since their prices come down, most of the companies can get it easily. The data storage equipment, server, work station, network etc are vitally important for any business in today’s world. But the computer hardware has undergone constant changes. When the existing hardware becomes old, you need to buy a new one. This situation calls for the help of technology equipment and software financing.

Software financing is required to acquire the latest software. The traditional lenders would not be willing to provide financial assistance to buy the software. However accounting software, ecommerce software, manufacturing software, CAD software etc are essential for the business operation of most of the companies. In fact, every company requires certain type of software. Some of the reliable financing companies recognize the need for software financing and they offer essential help.

Since there are no embarrassing procedures for getting the technology equipment and software financing help, any company can apply for the financial assistance from the valid financing company.

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Personal Finance Technology Trends For 2012

Hello and here’s wishing all of you the best of health, wealth, peace of mind and success with your financial goals in 2012.

I thought I’d start the year off with some trends; especially in technology, that might help you better meet your personal financial goals, because there are a host of personal finance services and applications, or apps as they’re called, that are going to change the way we Americans invest, bank, track our finances, shop, get coupons and so on.

Some of these apps use the web, but increasingly, many are available on mobile devices because more than a third of all American adults now carry “smartphones” with amazing amounts of display using processors that are as powerful as the ones in your laptop.

In fact, if you’re like many of my clients who’ve been holding out against the invasion of technology you might want to reconsider your decision in 2012. This might just be the year to allow the benefits of these innovations to help you gain better control over your finances.

Maybe now’s just the time to stop using a pen to write checks, paper to track your expenses, and scissors to clip coupons, to let technology streamline this process for you a little, and in so doing, to add to your savings and bottom line. Because, let’s face it, your best coupon deals or hotel and airfare discounts no longer come as inserts or advertisements in your newspaper but go to those who use the Internet.

So here are a few ideas for you to reflect on and consider opening yourself up to, and while I encourage you to listen to these with an open mind, adopt only those that you are 100% comfortable with, knowing full well that you could always revert to paper and pen if this turns out to not be your cup of tea, so here are some new ways to think:

1. Think “Mobile Money” How does that sound? Well, here’s the lowdown. With technology where it’s at today, you can now wave your smartphone in front of an intelligent device to make all sorts of payments, and this trend appears to be really catching on because it helps retailers, mass transit operators and others sell more while cutting down costs. With mobile money, your smartphone is securely linked to your bank or credit card account and saves you the hassle of carrying a card, swiping it, getting a bill, signing it, and so on: and it saves the seller money too. Moreover, I suspect merchants and service providers, such as Google Wallet, are going to make this more attractive by offering promotions and discounts to folks that adopt this mobile payment technology, much like they offered incentives in the early days of the Internet.

2. Think: Person to Person Payments. Remember how, when you’re at a restaurant with friends and it’s time to split the bill, you either ask for separate bills or fumble for cash to pay your share of the bill. Well, how about just clicking your smartphones against each other and you’re done? Companies like American Express, Mastercard, Visa and PayPal now offer a host of services that let you easily transfer money between friends using verified bank or credit card accounts. This makes sending money across the street, neighborhood or country faster, easier and less expensive, and remember, you are ALWAYS the bearer of any expense your bank or credit card company incurs in all the transactions you make, so if this technology reduces costs, chances are, some of these savings will flow through to you too.

3. Think: Money Management. There are new web sites that have also turned into apps on your smart phone, such as Manilla.com which I mentioned a few weeks ago in my interview with Terry Savage, and Pageonce which help you manage bills, payments, subscriptions, coupons and more; for free! So you never have to worry about a missed payment, late fees, trips to the post office, stamps, missed deals where you could’ve used a coupon to save big, and so on. What’s more, many of these services genuinely have an environmentally friendly agenda and want to help replace paper clutter with electronic account statements. Other, more specialized sites such as savvymoney.com help customers manage their debt: credit card payments, mortgages, car loans, and automatically give you tips on when to refinance or make extra payments to reduce your overall interest expenses, and so on. Others like betterment.com are designed to simplify investing and finally there is mint.com, whose CEO I interviewed about a year ago which was the first site like this out of the gate. And it’s a good site to bring all of your financial accounts together. So, with an open mind, check them out and sign up for the ones that make sense to you. And remember, you can always opt out if you don’t like ‘em.

Now, before I go further, I want to stress that I am not recommending these specific sites or validating what they offer but merely citing examples of technology advances in personal finance that are worth exploring further.

4. Think: Personalized Deals. We all heard about the promise of personalization, and while this has happened to some extent with the Internet, it hadn’t quite panned out in the personal finance space, until now. In fact, to understand personalization, consider trying this experiment. Take your laptop over to a friend’s house and type in the same search phrase: say, “top 10 deals in Miami” in google.com or any other search engine: your friend on his computer and you on your laptop using your friend’s Internet connection while sitting right next to him, I am almost 100% certain that your search results will differ because search engines personalize search results to your browsing history. The good news is that with smartphones and location-based services, stores can now know when you walk into them, what your purchase history and profiles is, and entice you with special offers just for you: personalized discounts and on the spot deals to customers willing to opt into these programs. And frankly, for the most part, you have little personal information to lose that you haven’t already lost by simply using the Internet, Facebook, email, search engines or smartphones at home!

I know it sounds a little scary: like an Orwellian universe, but it’s not as bad as all that. YOU have the right to opt in or opt out of any of these services.

5. And Finally, Think: Social commerce. The Internet spawns strange terms like this one, but what the heck! Apps now let you borrow or even legally take money from individuals across the world: who might want to give you a loan where they believe in you more than a bank, help you out in a crisis, lend you money to do up a kitchen or bathroom, or simply invest in a brilliant idea: private individuals reaching out to each other and opening their wallets in what’s called social commerce without borders. Check out sites like weemba.com or kickstarter.com if you have an idea you think others may want to fund. It’s actually pretty cool to think that banks will no longer control what you can and cannot do, financially. I love the free markets.

But don’t think large banks and corporations aren’t watching all of this very closely and actively stepping in where they sense success: so in 2012 you will likely see a lot more happening in the space of personal finance technology… and as we kick off the new year, I urge you to try and “get with it” if you like, and explore ways of saving time and money by using technology to your advantage.

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Zoom in the Fast Track of E-Financial Business by Choosing the Right Finance Website Templates

We love to have a solid finance back up at the sometimes it turns a headache to manage those finance affairs. I thank people who come forward to help us with online finance management solutions! Are you one of such helpful men? If so, my article is going to tell you how choosing one of the best finance website templates to give your financial business a boom!
There are two major factors when you want to develop a website for your online finance business. One is choosing a template shop and then finding one of the best finance web templates from the templates available in a template shop. There are some matters which help to find a good template shop and select one of the best finance website templates. I am here pointing you some features of finance web templates and how to know a template shop as best template shop.

A cool design in color application is must for finance website templates. Money matters are serious affairs so simple yet elegant color increases soothing effect in the visitors’ mind.
The first sight falls on the header of a site so it has to be attractive. The header portion of the finance website templates needs to keep provision for showing off the purpose of the site. It is like grabbing the opportunity at first sight.
A visitor will come to get your services. In the finance web templates the focus will have to be always on the services. So the service portion has to get maximized notice.
It is found that visitors want some live news. In the finance web templates there should be always a panel about keeping live report about finance markets. It will help to compare and understand your finance solutions against present market.
Anytime or every time a visitor lands on a site, wants to know what is special! Finance website templates need to keep a space to show the special finance services from the service providers.
With the space for other related and valuable finance content keep a block for finance success stories. In the finance web templates the place for successful finance related stories increases the chances for investment.
People like to keep them updated. So a direct like for accepting newsletter services has some importance. In the finance website templates there may be a place for subscribing newsletters. This part will let the service provider chance to remain in touch with the visitors who subscribe to the service.
Last but not the least is quick solution and quick support panel. In the finance web templates there has to be a panel for quick contact as it lets visitors chance to get finance solution fast. People are coming to get solution let them find support fast.

In the above points I have tried to show you what should be the standard features in finance website templates or the finance web templates. Other features like programming support to open source and hard core development, SEO friendliness, affordability are the primary factors for finance web templates. Now to find all these qualities in finance website templates you have to find out a template shop. But you have to search a template shop that emphasizes on all the above qualities in finance web templates. And of course you should look for a template shop that cares to provide affordable templates.

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Finance, Credit, Investments – Economical Categories

Scientific works in the theories of finances and credit, according to the specification of the research object, are characterized to be many-sided and many-leveled.

The definition of totality of the economical relations formed in the process of formation, distribution and usage of finances, as money sources is widely spread. For example, in “the general theory of finances” there are two definitions of finances:

1) “…Finances reflect economical relations, formation of the funds of money sources, in the process of distribution and redistribution of national receipts according to the distribution and usage”. This definition is given relatively to the conditions of Capitalism, when cash-commodity relations gain universal character;

2) “Finances represent the formation of centralized ad decentralized money sources, economical relations relatively with the distribution and usage, which serve for fulfillment of the state functions and obligations and also provision of the conditions of the widened further production”. This definition is brought without showing the environment of its action. We share partly such explanation of finances and think expedient to make some specification.

First, finances overcome the bounds of distribution and redistribution service of the national income, though it is a basic foundation of finances. Also, formation and usage of the depreciation fund which is the part of financial domain, belongs not to the distribution and redistribution of the national income (of newly formed value during a year), but to the distribution of already developed value.

This latest first appears to be a part of value of main industrial funds, later it is moved to the cost price of a ready product (that is to the value too) and after its realization, and it is set the depression fund. Its source is taken into account before hand as a depression kind in the consistence of the ready products cost price.

Second, main goal of finances is much wider then “fulfillment of the state functions and obligations and provision of conditions for the widened further production”. Finances exist on the state level and also on the manufactures and branches’ level too, and in such conditions, when the most part of the manufactures are not state.

V. M. Rodionova has a different position about this subject: “real formation of the financial resources begins on the stage of distribution, when the value is realized and concrete economical forms of the realized value are separated from the consistence of the profit”. V. M. Rodionova makes an accent of finances, as distributing relations, when D. S. Moliakov underlines industrial foundation of finances. Though both of them give quite substantiate discussion of finances, as a system of formation, distribution and usage of the funds of money sources, that comes out of the following definition of the finances: “financial cash relations, which forms in the process of distribution and redistribution of the partial value of the national wealth and total social product, is related with the subjects of the economy and formation and usage of the state cash incomes and savings in the widened further production, in the material stimulation of the workers for satisfaction of the society social and other requests”.

In the manuals of the political economy we meet with the following definitions of finances:
“Finances of the socialistic state represent economical (cash) relations, with the help of which, in the way of planned distribution of the incomes and savings the funds of money sources of the state and socialistic manufactures are formed for guaranteeing the growth of the production, rising the material and cultural level of the people and for satisfying other general society requests”.
“The system of creation and usage of necessary funds of cash resources for guarantying socialistic widened further production represent exactly the finances of the socialistic society. And the totality of economical relations arisen between state, manufactures and organizations, branches, regions and separate citizen according to the movement of cash funds make financial relations”.
As we’ve seen, definitions of finances made by financiers and political economists do not differ greatly.
In every discussed position there are:

1) expression of essence and phenomenon in the definition of finances;

2) the definition of finances, as the system of the creation and usage of funds of cash sources on the level of phenomenon.

3) Distribution of finances as social product and the value of national income, definition of the distributions planned character, main goals of the economy and economical relations, for servicing of which it is used.

If refuse the preposition “socialistic” in the definition of finances, we may say, that it still keeps actuality. We meet with such traditional definitions of finances, without an adjective “socialistic”, in the modern economical literature. We may give such an elucidation: “finances represent cash resources of production and usage, also cash relations appeared in the process of distributing values of formed economical product and national wealth for formation and further production of the cash incomes and savings of the economical subjects and state, rewarding of the workers and satisfaction of the social requests”. in this elucidation of finances like D. S. Moliakov and V. M. Rodionov’s definitions, following the traditional inheritance, we meet with the widening of the financial foundation. They concern “distribution and redistribution of the value of created economical product, also the partial distribution of the value of national wealth”. This latest is very actual, relatively to the process of privatization and the transition to privacy and is periodically used in practice in different countries, for example, Great Britain and France.

“Finances – are cash sources, financial resources, their creation and movement, distribution and redistribution, usage, also economical relations, which are conditioned by intercalculations between the economical subjects, movement of cash sources, money circulation and usage”.
“Finances are the system of economical relations, which are connected with firm creation, distribution and usage of financial resources”.

We meet with absolutely innovational definitions of finances in Z. Body and R. Merton’s basis manuals. “Finance – it is the science about how the people lead spending `the deficit cash resources and incomes in the definite period of time. The financial decisions are characterized by the expenses and incomes which are 1) separated in time, and 2) as a rule, it is impossible to take them into account beforehand neither by those who get decisions nor any other person” . “Financial theory consists of numbers of the conceptions… which learns systematically the subjects of distribution of the cash resources relatively to the time factor; it also considers quantitative models, with the help of which the estimation, putting into practice and realization of the alternative variants of every financial decisions take place” .

These basic conceptions and quantitative models are used at every level of getting financial decisions, but in the latest definition of finances, we meet with the following doctrine of the financial foundation: main function of the finances is in the satisfaction of the people’s requests; the subjects of economical activities of any kind (firms, also state organs of every level) are directed towards fulfilling this basic function.

For the goals of our monograph, it is important to compare well-known definitions about finances, credit and investment, to decide how and how much it is possible to integrate the finances, investments and credit into the one total part.

Some researcher thing that credit is the consisting part of finances, if it is discussed from the position of essence and category. The other, more numerous group proves, that an economical category of credit exists parallel to the economical category of finances, by which it underlines impossibility of the credit’s existence in the consistence of finances.

N. K. Kuchukova underlined the independence of the category of credit and notes that it is only its “characteristic feature the turned movement of the value, which is not related with transmission of the loan opportunities together with the owners’ rights”.

N. D. Barkovski replies that functioning of money created an economical basis for apportioning finances and credit as an independent category and gave rise to the credit and financial relations. He noticed the Gnoseological roots of science in money and credit, as the science about finances has business with the research of such economical relations, which lean upon cash flow and credit.
Let’s discuss the most spread definitions of credit. in the modern publications credit appeared to be “luckier”, then finances. For example, we meet with the following definition of credit in the finance-economical dictionary: “credit is the loan in the form of cash and commodity with the conditions of returning, usually, by paying percent. Credit represents a form of movement of the loan capital and expresses economical relations between the creditor and borrower”.

This is the traditional definition of credit. In the earlier dictionary of the economy we read: “credit is the system of economical relations, which is formed while the transmission of cash and material means into the temporal usage, as a rule under the conditions of returning and paying percent”.
In the manual of the political economy published under reduction of V. A. Medvedev the following definition is given: “credit, as an economical category, expresses the created relations between the society, labour collective and workers during formation and usage of the loan funds, under the terms of paying present and returning, during transmission of sources for the temporal usage and accumulation”.

Credit is discussed in the following way in the earlier education-methodological manuals of political economy: “credit is the system of money relations, which is created in the process of using and mobilization of temporarily free cash means of the state budget, unions, manufactures, organizations and population. Credit has an objective character. It is used for providing widened further production of the state and other needs. Credit differs from finances by the returning character, while financing of manufactures and organizations by the state is fulfilled without this condition”.

We meet with the following definition if “the course of economy”: “credit is an economical category, which represents relations, while the separate industrial organizations or persons transmit money means to each-other for temporal usage under the conditions of returning. Creation of credit is conditioned by a historical process of fulfilling the economical and money relations, the form of which is the money relation”.

Following scientists give slightly different definitions of credit:
“Credit – is a loan in the form of money or commodity, which is given to the borrower by a creditor under the conditions of returning and paying the percentage rate by the borrower”.
Credit is giving the temporally free money sources or commodity as a debt for the defined terms by the price of fixed percentage. Thus, a credit is the loan in the form of money or commodity. In the process of this loan’s movement, a definite relations are formed between a creditor (the loan is given by a juridical of physical person, who gives certain cash as a debt) and the debtor.
Combining every definition named above, we come to an idea, that credit is giving money capital of commodity as a debt, for certain terms and material provision under the price of firm percentage rate. It expresses definite economical relations between the participants of the process of capital formation. Necessity of the credit relations is conditioned, from one side, by gathering solid quantity of temporarily free money sources, and from the second side, existence of requests of them.

Though, at the same time we must distinguish two resembling concepts: loan and credit. Loan is characterized by:

o Here, the discussion may touch upon transmission of money and also things form one side (loaner) to another (borrower): a)under the owning of the borrower and, at the same time, b) under the conditions of returning same amount or same quantity and quality of the things;

o The loaning of money may bear no interest;

o Any person may take part in it.
With the difference with loan, credit, which is somehow a private occasion of the loan, represents:

o One side (loaner) gives to the second one (borrower) only money, and _ for temporal usage;

o It may not bear no interest (if the assignment doesn’t foresee something);

o In it creditor is not any person, but a credit organization (at the first place, banks).
So, a credit is the bank credit. To our mind, it is not correct to use “credit” and “loan” as the synonyms.
Banking crediting is the union of relations between bank (as a creditor) and its borrower. These relations touch upon:

a) Giving a certain amount of money to the borrower for definite purpose (though, we meet with the so-called free credits, aims and objects of crediting are not appointed in the assignment);

b) Its opportune returning;

c) Getting percentage rate from the borrower for using the sources under his/her disposal.
The essential foundation of the credit essence and its important element is existence of trust between the two sides (in Latin “credo”, from which comes the word “credit”, means “trust”).
From the position of circulation of money forms (in the abstraction, historical process of formation economical relations and social budget and banking systems expressed by them) comparing different definitions of finances and credit, the paradox conclusion appears: credit is the private occasion of finances. And truly, from the position of movement of the money forms, finances represent the process of formation and usage of the funds of cash means. Very often such movements are fulfilled without returning, but sometimes, it is possible to give loans from the budget for the investment projects of other needs. Also, when a manufacture or corporations use their cash funds and we mean the finances of industrial subject, such usage may be realized as inside the manufacture or corporation (there is no subject about returning or not returning of the usage), so gratis under conditions of returning. This latest is called commercial form because of transmitting the sources to others, but even in this occasion, it is the element of financial system of the manufacture and corporation.

From the point of cash means movement, main character of credit is the process of formation and usage of the funds of cash means under the conditions of returning and, as a rule, taking the value-percentage. If gating the credit value doesn’t take place (even in the exceptional occasions), according to the movement form, credit becomes a private occasion of finances, as from the net financial funds (consequently from the state budget) the loans which bear no interests may be used. If gating credit value takes place, by the appearance form, credit is discussed to be financial modification.

From the historical point of view, finances (especially in the sort of the state budget) and credit (beginning with usury, later commercial and banking) were developing differently for considering credit to be the part of finances. Though, from the genetic-historical point of view, previous loaners, before giving loan, needed gathering the permanent capital not returning, that is the net financial foundation. The banks analogously needed concentration of the important own capital for influxing the consumers’ means and for getting higher percentage rate under the conditions of returning. Herewith, exactly on the financial basis, in the sort of financial fund (which later partially becomes loan fund) part of the bank capital appears to be the reservation (insurance) part of the fund, which by nature is financial and not loan. So notwithstanding the essential distinctions between finances and credit form the genetic-historical point of view, credit appears to be formed from finances and represent their modification.

From the essential position of expressing economical relations of finances and credit, we meet with cardinal distinctions between these two categories. Which mostly expressed by the distinction of the movement forms notwithstanding they are returnable or not. Finances express relations in the aspects of distribution and redistribution of social product and part of the national wealth. Credit expresses distribution of the appropriate value only in the section of percentage given for loan, while according to the loan itself, a only a temporal distribution of money sources takes place.
Herewith, there is a lot of common between the finances and credit as from the essential point of view, so according to the form of movement. At the same time, there is a significant distinction between finances and credit as in the essence, so in the form too. According to this, there must be a kind of generally economical category, which will consider finances and credit as a total unity, and in the bounds of this category itself, the separation of the specific essence of the finances and credit would take place.

Funding of the cash means is common to the researched economical categories. It takes place in any separate system of finances and credit, which have been touched upon during the analyses of defining finances and credit. Word combination “funding of the cash sources (fund formation)” reflects and defines exactly essence and form of economical category of more general character, those of finances and credit categories. Though in the in economical texts and practice, it is very uncomfortable to use a termini, which consists of three words. Also, “unloading” with an information hardens greatly its influxing into the circulation even in the conditions of its strict substantiation and thoroughness.
In the discussing context we consider:

1) wide and narrow understanding of economical category of the finances;

2) discussing finances in narrow understanding under general traditional meaning;

3) discussing finances, as funding of the cash means, in wide understanding, which concerns finances – in narrow meaning and credit – in complete meaning.
Termini “funding” and its equivalent “fund formation” are used by us as the purposeful structuring of cash means, which is based on two poles – accumulation of money sources (gathering) and its usage for definite purpose in the way of financing and crediting.
We have established a new termini – “finance-investment sphere” (FIS). Analyses about interrelation of finances and credit made by us give us an opportunity of proving, that in the given termini, the word “financial” is used with the meaning of funding cash sources, its purposeful structuring. In this process we consider at the same time financial, credit and investments’ economical categories.

Let’s sum up middle results of discussing new concept – “finance-investment sphere” and discuss its investment consisting parts.

The concept “investments” was brought into the native economical science from the West. In the Soviet economical science they for a long time used in the place “investments” the termini “capital placement”, which expressed the usage of the industrial factors in the sphere of real industrial activities during realization of capital projects. From one glance, this termini in its concept is identical to the “investments”, consequently it is possible to use them as synonyms. Though the termini “investments” and “investing” have the advantage towards the termini “capital placement” from linguistic and philological points of view, because they are expressed with one word. This is not only economical and comfortable in the process of working with the termini “investment” itself, but also it gives an opportunity of termini formation. More concretely: “investment process”, “investment domain”, “finance-investment sphere” – all these termini are much more acceptable.
Changing native economical termini with foreign ones is purposeful, if it really matters (by keeping parallel usage of the native termini for the inheritance). Though we must not change native economical termini into foreign ones all together, when by ordinal traditional language easy to explain private and narrow concrete processes and elements get their own termini. The “movement” of these termini is approved in the narrow professional bounds, but their “spitting out” into the economical science may turn economical language into the tangled slang.

Let’s discuss termini – “investment” and “capital placement’s” usage in the economical literature.
Investments are placement of funds into the main and circulation capital for the purpose of getting profit. “Investments in material assets – are the placements of funds into the mobile and real estate (land, buildings, furniture and so on). Investments in financial assets are the placements of funds into the securities bank accounts and other financial instruments”.

We don’t meet with the termini “investments” in the earlier economical dictionary, but we meet the combined termini “investment policy” – the union of the industrial decisions, which guarantee main directions of the capital investments, the activities of their concentration in the determinant suburbs, on which the reaching of planned rates of development of the society production is depended, balancing and effectiveness, getting more and more production and profit of the national income for every lost Ruble”. For today, in the most actual definitions, the capital investments are bounded only by financial means, when not only financial, but also the investment of natural, material-technical and informational resources takes place. Labour resources take an actual place in the investment process. They themselves fulfill this or that investment process.

A positive side of the discussed definitions is that they connect investment policy and capital placements (investments):

- economical development according to the key directions to the concentration;

- providing high rates of economical growth;

- raising an economical effectiveness, which is expressed:

a) by growing the throw off of the production and national income for every lost Ruble;

b) by fulfilling the branch structure of the investments;

c) by improving their technological structure;

d) by optimization of their further production structure.

Compared with such definition of the investments (capital placement) the definition of investments in the dictionary attaching the “Economics” seems to be unimproved: “investments – the expenses of gathering production and industrial means and increasing material reserve”. In this definition current expenses (production expenses) are mixed with the investment (capital) expense. Also, not the investment expenses but (though the investments are followed by the appropriate expenses) exactly advancing. It differs from the expenses by that the means (means) are put by returning the advanced values, also, under the conditions of growth, to which the concept-advanced capital is corresponding. the advancing may be realized in the money, natural-material and informational forms.

Except the termini “investments”, there are two more termini related with the investment. They are shown below.

“Human capital investment” – any activity provided for rising the workers labour productivity (in the way of growing their qualification and developing their abilities); at the expenses of improving the workers’ education, health and raising the mobility of the working forces”. It is very useful to use the mentioned termini, though it needs one correction: the human capital investments do not concern only workers, but also the servants, representatives of every kind of labour.
“Investment commodity, capital goods – a capital.”

In the official manuals of political economy of the reformation time the capital investments are discussed as “expenses for creating new main funds and widening, reconstruction and renewing the active ones”. In this definition the investments (capital placements) during separation of the forms (types) of further production of the main funds are bounded only by main funds (without increases of the circulation funds and insurance reserves):

a) creating new ones;

b) widening;

c) reconstruction;

d) renewing.

Also, the concept of the industrial gathering appears, at the expenses of widening of basic, circulation funds and also insurance reserves takes place”.

You’ll meet below the definitions of investments from “the course of economy”: the investments are called “placements of fund into the basic capital (basic means of production), reserves, also other economical objects and processes, which request long-termed influxing of material and cash means. “According to the division of capital into physical and money forms, the investments too must be divided into material and cash investments”.

They apportion investment commodity, to which belong industrial and nonindustrial building objects, vehicles purposed for changing or widened technical park and the furniture, increasing reserves and others.

“They call the total investments of production an investment product, which is directed towards keeping and increasing the basic capital (basic means) and reserve. Total investments consist of two parts. One of them is called the depreciation; it represents important investment resources for compensation of renewal till the level of before industrial usage, wearing out and repairing of the basic means. Second consisting part of the total investments is represented by net investments – capital investments for the purpose of increasing basic means”. Depreciation is not a compensation resource of wearing the basic funds out, but it is the purposeful financial source of such resources.
Human capital investment is “a specific kind of investments, mostly in education and health protection”.

“Real investments are the investments in the economical branches and also, they are kinds of economical activities, which provide influxing the increases of real capital, that is increasing material values of the industrial means”. We can agree with such definition with one specification that material and nonmaterial values too belong to the real capital (wealth), consequently science-researching experimental-construction results, various information, education of he workers and others. Such service as organization of the excitable games, also the service of redistribution social wealth from one private person to another (except charity).

“Financial investments represent placement of funds into the shares, obligations, promissory notes, other securities and instruments. Such investments, of course, do not give increases of the real material capital, but they help getting profit, consequently at the expenses of changing the course of the securities in the time of speculation, or distinguishing the course in different places of sell and purchasing”. We share wholly such definition, hence it follows that financial investments (if it is not followed by real investments as a result) do not increase real material wealth and real nonmaterial wealth. According to this context, the expression below is very important: “we must distinguish financial investments, which represent placement of the funds in the ways of selling and purchasing the securities for the purpose of getting profit and financial investments, which become cash and real, moved to real physical capital.”

In the “economical course” quoted before long and short-termed investments are separated. Recognizing the existence of the bounds between them, the authors ascribe short-termed investments to “one month or more” investments. If we get such conditioned criteria, that we can call the investments which overcome the terms of some months, long-termed ones, which is very doubtful and we don’t agree with it. A long-termed character of the fund placement is a significant feature of the investments (short-term doesn’t combine with the concept of investments). Principally, it would be better to point out quick compensative, middle termed compensative and long-termed compensative investments:

- less then 6 months – quick compensative;

- from 6 months up to the year and a half – middle termed compensative;

- more then the year and a half – long termed compensative.

We stopped at the definition of the investments in the capital work “economical course” for the special purpose, as, in it the author tried to discuss the concept of investments systemically and quite completely, herewith the book is published just now.

We’ll return to the discussion the definition economical category of “investments” in different publications in the following chapter. The definitions given here are quite enough for having a notion of the level of lighting up the given category in the economical literature.
What conclusions may be made according the definition of the mentioned economical category in the published works, except the made notions and specifications?

There is quite deeply, concretely and thoroughly defined the concept of “investments”, different definitions in the economical literature; but mostly in every works about the investments discussed by us until now, there is not opened the essence of investments as an economical category. In every monograph , even if it has a title investment, as an economical category , there is given only the definition, concept of investments. But, as the Academician Vasil Chantladze explains, “a concept is a discussion, which proves something about the distinguishing feature of the researched object. A concept out of much essential characteristic features represents only one, and essential in it is only – definition”.

But the categories are much wider; it is “a key, the most fundamental concept of every science”. Economical categories theoretically represent real, objectively existed productive relations. A category is the defining of occasions of existed characters, connections, relations of the objective world. Generally, any educational process is fulfilled by the categories, which give opportunities for dividing the processes and occasions semantically, for expressing the definitions of a subject and realize their specific peculiarities and economical relations of a material world.
Our goal is exactly to substantiate investments – as an economical category and also, as a financial category in the narrow understanding.

Here we apply for another manual thesis made by the academician Vasil Chantladze: “every financial relation is an economical one and every financial category is and economical one, but not every economical relation and economical category is financial relation and financial category”.
In the process of defining the investments, it is important to take in mind the sides of resources, expenses and incomes, because investment, from one side, is the result of the manufacture’s activity, and, from another one, – a part of income, which, in this case, is not used for usage.
Another occasion: it is advisable to discuss investments in two aspects: as a category of reserve and flow, which will reflect exactly the connection between “placement of funds” and “investments”.

As we’ve mentioned above, not long ago, in the well-known Soviet literature the concepts of “the placement of funds” and “investments” were accepted to be the synonyms and concerned to be investment of sources for further production of the main funds and formation of the turnover funds. We meet with such understanding of the concept of “investment” (here, they separate three types of the investment expenses: investments in the basic capital of investments, investments in the house building and investments in the reserves) in the modern economical publications and it is mostly used on the macro level during a statistical analyze of economical processes. In this concrete occasion investment is the category of reserve.

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Car Finance – What You Should Know About Dealer Finance

Car finance has become big business. A huge number of new and used car buyers in the UK are making their vehicle purchase on finance of some sort. It might be in the form of a bank loan, finance from the dealership, leasing, credit card, the trusty ‘Bank of Mum & Dad’, or myriad other forms of finance, but relatively few people actually buy a car with their own cash anymore.

A generation ago, a private car buyer with, say, £8,000 cash to spend would usually have bought a car up to the value of £8,000. Today, that same £8,000 is more likely to be used as a deposit on a car which could be worth many tens of thousands, followed by up to five years of monthly payments.

With various manufacturers and dealers claiming that anywhere between 40% and 87% of car purchases are today being made on finance of some sort, it is not surprising that there are lots of people jumping on the car finance bandwagon to profit from buyers’ desires to have the newest, flashiest car available within their monthly cashflow limits.

The appeal of financing a car is very straightforward; you can buy a car which costs a lot more than you can afford up-front, but can (hopefully) manage in small monthly chunks of cash over a period of time. The problem with car finance is that many buyers don’t realise that they usually end up paying far more than the face value of the car, and they don’t read the fine print of car finance agreements to understand the implications of what they’re signing up for.

For clarification, this author is neither pro- or anti-finance when buying a car. What you must be wary of, however, are the full implications of financing a car – not just when you buy the car, but over the full term of the finance and even afterwards. The industry is heavily regulated in the UK, but a regulator can’t make you read documents carefully or force you to make prudent car finance decisions.

Financing through the dealership

For many people, financing the car through the dealership where you are buying the car is very convenient. There are also often national offers and programs which can make financing the car through the dealer an attractive option.

This blog will focus on the two main types of car finance offered by car dealers for private car buyers: the Hire Purchase (HP) and the Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), with a brief mention of a third, the Lease Purchase (LP). Leasing contracts will be discussed in another blog coming soon.

What is a Hire Purchase?

An HP is quite like a mortgage on your house; you pay a deposit up-front and then pay the rest off over an agreed period (usually 18-60 months). Once you have made your final payment, the car is officially yours. This is the way that car finance has operated for many years, but is now starting to lose favour against the PCP option below.

There are several benefits to a Hire Purchase. It is simple to understand (deposit plus a number of fixed monthly payments), and the buyer can choose the deposit and the term (number of payments) to suit their needs. You can choose a term of up to five years (60 months), which is longer than most other finance options. You can usually cancel the agreement at any time if your circumstances change without massive penalties (although the amount owing may be more than your car is worth early on in the agreement term). Usually you will end up paying less in total with an HP than a PCP if you plan to keep the car after the finance is paid off.

The main disadvantage of an HP compared to a PCP is higher monthly payments, meaning the value of the car you can usually afford is less.

An HP is usually best for buyers who; plan to keep their cars for a long time (ie – longer than the finance term), have a large deposit, or want a simple car finance plan with no sting in the tail at the end of the agreement.

What is a Personal Contract Purchase?

A PCP is often given other names by manufacturer finance companies (eg – BMW Select, Volkswagen Solutions, Toyota Access, etc.), and is very popular but more complicated than an HP. Most new car finance offers advertised these days are PCPs, and usually a dealer will try and push you towards a PCP over an HP because it is more likely to be better for them.

Like the HP above, you pay a deposit and have monthly payments over a term. However, the monthly payments are lower and/or the term is shorter (usually a max. of 48 months), because you are not paying off the whole car. At the end of the term, there is still a large chunk of the finance unpaid. This is usually called a GMFV (Guaranteed Minimum Future Value). The car finance company guarantees that, within certain conditions, the car will be worth at least as much as the remaining finance owed. This gives you three options:

1) Give the car back. You won’t get any money back, but you won’t have to pay out the remainder. This means that you have effectively been renting the car for the whole time.

2) Pay out the remaining amount owed (the GMFV) and keep the car. Given that this amount could be many thousands of pounds, it is not usually a viable option for most people (which is why they were financing the car in the first place), which usually leads to…

3) Part-exchange the car for a new (or newer) one. The dealer will assess your car’s value and take care of the finance payout. If your car is worth more than the GMFV, you can use the difference (equity) as a deposit on your next car.

The PCP is best suited for people who want a new or near-new car and fully intend to change it at the end of the agreement (or possibly even sooner). For a private buyer, it usually works out cheaper than a lease or contract hire finance product. You are not tied into going back to the same manufacturer or dealership for your next car, as any dealer can pay out the finance for your car and conclude the agreement on your behalf. It is also good for buyers who want a more expensive car with a lower cashflow than is usually possible with an HP.

The disadvantage of a PCP is that it tends to lock you into a cycle of changing your car every few years to avoid a large payout at the end of the agreement (the GMFV). Borrowing money to pay out the GMFV and keep the car usually gives you a monthly payment that is very little cheaper than starting again on a new PCP with a new car, so it nearly always sways the owner into replacing it with another car. For this reason, manufacturers and dealers love PCPs because it keeps you coming back every 3 years rather than keeping your car for 5-10 years!

What is a Lease Purchase?

An LP is a bit of a hybrid between an HP and a PCP. You have a deposit and low monthly payments like a PCP, with a large final payment at the end of the agreement. However, unlike a PCP, this final payment (often called a balloon) is not guaranteed. This means that if your car is worth less than the amount owing and you want to sell/part-exchange it, you would have to pay out any difference (called negative equity) before even thinking about paying a deposit on your next car.

Read the fine print

What is absolutely essential for anyone buying a car on finance is to read the contract and consider it carefully before signing anything. Plenty of people make the mistake of buying a car on finance and then end up being unable to make their monthly payments. Given that your finance period may last for the next five years, it is critical that you carefully consider what may happen in your life over those next five years. Many heavily-financed sports cars have had to be returned, often with serious financial consequences for the owners, because of unexpected pregnancies!

As part of purchasing a car on finance, you should consider and discuss all of the various finance options available and make yourself aware of the pros and cons of different car finance products to ensure you are making informed decisions about your money.

Stuart Masson is founder and owner of The Car Expert, a London-based independent and impartial car buying agency for anyone looking to buy a new or used car.

Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for nearly thirty years, and has spent the last seven years working in the automotive retail industry, both in Australia and in London.

Stuart has combined his extensive knowledge of all things car-related with his own experience of selling cars and delivering high levels of customer satisfaction to bring a unique and personal car buying agency to London. The Car Expert offers specific and tailored advice for anyone looking for a new or used car in London.

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Alternative Sources of Business Growth Finance: There Is More Than One Way to Fund Growth

Talk to any business owner or read the business section of any newspaper and you’re likely to come across stories of struggles to access sufficient finance to grow or maintain their business. But we are beginning to witness a change in how business owners access finance with many now actively seeking out alternative sources.

A survey carried out by the UK’s Forum of Private Business found that 26% of businesses were hunting out alternative financial products, with 21% seeking them outside of the traditional main High Street lenders. In fact, in another survey undertaken by the Federation of Small Businesses, it was discovered that only 35% of respondents used a traditional overdraft facility in 2011.

So, if banks are continually reluctant to lend to all but the lowest risk businesses, how can the remainder of the UK’s business population finance growth? Here are some of the increasingly popular alternative sources of finance to investigate.

Better Management of Working Capital

This may appear to be an odd source of finance but very often businesses are sitting on undiscovered cash reserves which can be used to finance growth. A report issued by Deloitte in 2011 revealed that the UK’s largest businesses were sitting on £60 billion of unproductive working capital. Inefficiencies in how working capital (debtors, stock and creditors) is handled can unnecessarily tie up your cash. Cash can be unlocked and released back in to the system thereby allowing self-financed growth plans by taking a close look at credit procedures, how credit terms are granted and how outstanding payments are chased.

Ensuring that stock is kept at an optimum level via better inventory management is another area where cash can be released to support and finance growth. Take a good look at your inventory management process and identify areas where cash is trapped.

Good management of working capital is not just about better control of debtors and stock, it is also about maximising the terms given by creditors. Are you too eager to maintain a first class relationship with your suppliers by paying well before the due date? You can positively impact your cash position by taking full advantage of terms offered by your suppliers. Have you fully leveraged your position by seeking an extensive of terms from say 30 days to 45 days?

Being more efficient in how working capital is managed can release sufficient funds to self-finance growth plans.

Personal Resources

With traditional avenues of funding being more difficult to access business owners are now looking to their personal resources to fund growth. Whether it be drawing on cash savings, using personal credit cards or taking additional mortgages on residential properties, such sources are an instant solution. A survey by the Federation of Small Businesses found that 33% of respondents had utilised their savings to fund growth. As well as being more immediately accessible using personal resources is often a cheaper source of finance.

Family and Friends

Sometimes referred to as the three F’s – family, friends and fools – this can appear to be a less stressful way of raising finance. In some ways it can but it can also be a journey fraught with danger. Tapping into their personal network business owners source finance by either seeking a loan and offering to pay an interest rate higher than that on offer on a High Street savings account, or offering a slice of equity in the business in return for investment.

Raising finance in this way can be relatively easy because the request and fulfilment is very much based on personal trust. Typically a Business Plan would be presented highlighting both the investment opportunity and the risks but at the end of the day success is down to the depth of the relationship and level of trust.

The danger in raising funds this way is that the nature of the relationship will change from that of a personal nature to a business transaction. Failure to regularly pay as per agreed terms, or even total failure to pay, can irreparably damage the relationship so tread with care.

Asset Finance

The Asset Finance industry is based on the concept of either preserving cash or speeding up access to it. Asset finance, which consists of invoice discounting, factoring and funding of asset purchases, has been available as a source of finance for many years, yet it’s only now gaining more recognition. Figures released by the Asset Based Finance Association, a trade association representing the industry, show that to the third quarter of 2011 the amount financed by the Association’s members increased by 9% compared to the same period in the previous year. Whilst the increase may not seem significant it is against the backdrop of a fall in traditional bank lending.

In a world where ‘cash is king’ asset financiers help preserve cash by financing the purchase of assets such as vehicles, machinery and equipment. Because the financier is looking to the underlying asset as security there is usually no requirement for additional collateral. According to the Asset Finance and Leasing Association one in three UK businesses that have external finance now utilise asset finance.

Asset financiers can help speed up the flow of cash within a business by allowing quicker access to cash tied up in the debtor book. An invoice discounting and factoring facility gives businesses the ability to immediately access up to 80% of an invoice instead of waiting for the agreed credit terms to run their course. Such finance facilities will speed up the velocity of cash within the business thereby allowing the business to fund a high rate of growth.

New players such as Market Invoice are entering the market to allow businesses to raise finance against selected invoices. Tapping into high net worth individuals and funds Market Invoice acts as an auction house with funders ‘bidding’ to advance against certain invoices.

Crowfunding and Peer-to-Peer

A relatively new phenomenon is the concept of raising finance by tapping into the power of the crowd. The historically low rates of interest payable on savings have led to depositors seeking out new ways to increase their returns. With business owners struggling to raise the funding they need it’s only natural that a market would be created to bring these two parties together.

CrowdCube entered the market in 2010 to match private investors seeking to be Dragons with those businesses looking to raise capital. Once a business passes the initial review stage their proposal is posted on the site and potential investors indicate the level of investment they wish to make with the minimum amount being as low as £10.

Businesses looking for a more traditional loan should consider Funding Circle. Established in 2010 Funding Circle also matches individual investors looking for a better return with those businesses seeking additional finance. Businesses can apply for funding between £5,000 and £250,000 for a period of 1, 3 or 5 years. As a minimum the business has to have submitted two years Accounts with Companies House and be assessed in order to arrive at a risk rating which guides potential investors.

As the crowd sourcing concept matures we are likely to see more players enter this market to capitalise on the need for better investor returns and easier access to business finance.

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Sources of Business Finance

Sources of business finance can be studied under the following heads:

(1) Short Term Finance:

Short-term finance is needed to fulfill the current needs of business. The current needs may include payment of taxes, salaries or wages, repair expenses, payment to creditor etc. The need for short term finance arises because sales revenues and purchase payments are not perfectly same at all the time. Sometimes sales can be low as compared to purchases. Further sales may be on credit while purchases are on cash. So short term finance is needed to match these disequilibrium.

Sources of short term finance are as follows:

(i) Bank Overdraft: Bank overdraft is very widely used source of business finance. Under this client can draw certain sum of money over and above his original account balance. Thus it is easier for the businessman to meet short term unexpected expenses.

(ii) Bill Discounting: Bills of exchange can be discounted at the banks. This provides cash to the holder of the bill which can be used to finance immediate needs.

(iii) Advances from Customers: Advances are primarily demanded and received for the confirmation of orders However, these are also used as source of financing the operations necessary to execute the job order.

(iv) Installment Purchases: Purchasing on installment gives more time to make payments. The deferred payments are used as a source of financing small expenses which are to be paid immediately.

(v) Bill of Lading: Bill of lading and other export and import documents are used as a guarantee to take loan from banks and that loan amount can be used as finance for a short time period.

(vi) Financial Institutions: Different financial institutions also help businessmen to get out of financial difficulties by providing short-term loans. Certain co-operative societies can arrange short term financial assistance for businessmen.

(vii) Trade Credit: It is the usual practice of the businessmen to buy raw material, store and spares on credit. Such transactions result in increasing accounts payable of the business which are to be paid after a certain time period. Goods are sold on cash and payment is made after 30, 60, or 90 days. This allows some freedom to businessmen in meeting financial difficulties.

(2) Medium Term Finance:

This finance is required to meet the medium term (1-5 years) requirements of the business. Such finances are basically required for the balancing, modernization and replacement of machinery and plant. These are also needed for re-engineering of the organization. They aid the management in completing medium term capital projects within planned time. Following are the sources of medium term finance:

(i) Commercial Banks: Commercial banks are the major source of medium term finance. They provide loans for different time-period against appropriate securities. At the termination of terms the loan can be re-negotiated, if required.

(ii) Hire Purchase: Hire purchase means buying on installments. It allows the business house to have the required goods with payments to be made in future in agreed installment. Needless to say that some interest is always charged on outstanding amount.

(iii) Financial Institutions: Several financial institutions such as SME Bank, Industrial Development Bank, etc., also provide medium and long-term finances. Besides providing finance they also provide technical and managerial assistance on different matters.

(iv) Debentures and TFCs: Debentures and TFCs (Terms Finance Certificates) are also used as a source of medium term finances. Debentures is an acknowledgement of loan from the company. It can be of any duration as agreed among the parties. The debenture holder enjoys return at a fixed rate of interest. Under Islamic mode of financing debentures has been replaced by TFCs.

(v) Insurance Companies: Insurance companies have a large pool of funds contributed by their policy holders. Insurance companies grant loans and make investments out of this pool. Such loans are the source of medium term financing for various businesses.

(3) Long Term Finance:

Long term finances are those that are required on permanent basis or for more than five years tenure. They are basically desired to meet structural changes in business or for heavy modernization expenses. These are also needed to initiate a new business plan or for a long term developmental projects. Following are its sources:

(i) Equity Shares: This method is most widely used all over the world to raise long term finance. Equity shares are subscribed by public to generate the capital base of a large scale business. The equity share holders shares the profit and loss of the business. This method is safe and secured, in a sense that amount once received is only paid back at the time of wounding up of the company.

(ii) Retained Earnings: Retained earnings are the reserves which are generated from the excess profits. In times of need they can be used to finance the business project. This is also called ploughing back of profits.

(iii) Leasing: Leasing is also a source of long term finance. With the help of leasing, new equipment can be acquired without any heavy outflow of cash.

(iv) Financial Institutions: Different financial institutions such as former PICIC also provide long term loans to business houses.

(v) Debentures: Debentures and Participation Term Certificates are also used as a source of long term financing.

Conclusion:

These are various sources of finance. In fact there is no hard and fast rule to differentiate among short and medium term sources or medium and long term sources. A source for example commercial bank can provide both a short term or a long term loan according to the needs of client. However, all these sources are frequently used in the modern business world for raising finances.

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Best in Class Finance Functions For Police Forces

Police funding has risen by £4.8 billion and 77 per cent (39 per cent in real terms) since 1997. However the days where forces have enjoyed such levels of funding are over.

Chief Constables and senior management recognize that the annual cycle of looking for efficiencies year-on-year is not sustainable, and will not address the cash shortfall in years to come.
Facing slower funding growth and real cash deficits in their budgets, the Police Service must adopt innovative strategies which generate the productivity and efficiency gains needed to deliver high quality policing to the public.

The step-change in performance required to meet this challenge will only be achieved if the police service fully embraces effective resource management and makes efficient and productive use of its technology, partnerships and people.

The finance function has an essential role to play in addressing these challenges and supporting Forces’ objectives economically and efficiently.

Challenge

Police Forces tend to nurture a divisional and departmental culture rather than a corporate one, with individual procurement activities that do not exploit economies of scale. This is in part the result of over a decade of devolving functions from the center to the.divisions.

In order to reduce costs, improve efficiency and mitigate against the threat of “top down” mandatory, centrally-driven initiatives, Police Forces need to set up a corporate back office and induce behavioral change. This change must involve compliance with a corporate culture rather than a series of silos running through the organization.

Developing a Best in Class Finance Function

Traditionally finance functions within Police Forces have focused on transactional processing with only limited support for management information and business decision support. With a renewed focus on efficiencies, there is now a pressing need for finance departments to transform in order to add greater value to the force but with minimal costs.

1) Aligning to Force Strategy

As Police Forces need finance to function, it is imperative that finance and operations are closely aligned. This collaboration can be very powerful and help deliver significant improvements to a Force, but in order to achieve this model, there are many barriers to overcome. Finance Directors must look at whether their Force is ready for this collaboration, but more importantly, they must consider whether the Force itself can survive without it.

Finance requires a clear vision that centers around its role as a balanced business partner. However to achieve this vision a huge effort is required from the bottom up to understand the significant complexity in underlying systems and processes and to devise a way forward that can work for that particular organization.

The success of any change management program is dependent on its execution. Change is difficult and costly to execute correctly, and often, Police Forces lack the relevant experience to achieve such change. Although finance directors are required to hold appropriate professional qualifications (as opposed to being former police officers as was the case a few years ago) many have progressed within the Public Sector with limited opportunities for learning from and interaction with best in class methodologies. In addition cultural issues around self-preservation can present barriers to change.

Whilst it is relatively easy to get the message of finance transformation across, securing commitment to embark on bold change can be tough. Business cases often lack the quality required to drive through change and even where they are of exceptional quality senior police officers often lack the commercial awareness to trust them.

2) Supporting Force Decisions

Many Finance Directors are keen to develop their finance functions. The challenge they face is convincing the rest of the Force that the finance function can add value – by devoting more time and effort to financial analysis and providing senior management with the tools to understand the financial implications of major strategic decisions.

Maintaining Financial Controls and Managing Risk

Sarbanes Oxley, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Basel II and Individual Capital Assessments (ICA) have all put financial controls and reporting under the spotlight in the private sector. This in turn is increasing the spotlight on financial controls in the public sector.

A ‘Best in Class’ Police Force finance function will not just have the minimum controls to meet the regulatory requirements but will evaluate how the legislation and regulations that the finance function are required to comply with, can be leveraged to provide value to the organization. Providing strategic information that will enable the force to meet its objectives is a key task for a leading finance function.

3) Value to the Force

The drive for development over the last decade or so, has moved decision making to the Divisions and has led to an increase in costs in the finance function. Through utilizing a number of initiatives in a program of transformation, a Force can leverage up to 40% of savings on the cost of finance together with improving the responsiveness of finance teams and the quality of financial information. These initiatives include:

Centralization

By centralizing the finance function, a Police Force can create centers of excellence where industry best practice can be developed and shared. This will not only re-empower the department, creating greater independence and objectivity in assessing projects and performance, but also lead to more consistent management information and a higher degree of control. A Police Force can also develop a business partner group to act as strategic liaisons to departments and divisions. The business partners would, for example, advise on how the departmental and divisional commanders can meet the budget in future months instead of merely advising that the budget has been missed for the previous month.

With the mundane number crunching being performed in a shared service center, finance professionals will find they now have time to act as business partners to divisions and departments and focus on the strategic issues.

The cultural impact on the departments and divisional commanders should not be underestimated. Commanders will be concerned that:

o Their budgets will be centralized
o Workloads would increase
o There will be limited access to finance individuals
o There will not be on site support

However, if the centralized shared service center is designed appropriately none of the above should apply. In fact from centralization under a best practice model, leaders should accrue the following benefits:

o Strategic advice provided by business partners
o Increased flexibility
o Improved management information
o Faster transactions
o Reduced number of unresolved queries
o Greater clarity on service and cost of provision
o Forum for finance to be strategically aligned to the needs of the Force

A Force that moves from a de-centralized to a centralized system should try and ensure that the finance function does not lose touch with the Chief Constable and Divisional Commanders. Forces need to have a robust business case for finance transformation combined with a governance structure that spans operational, tactical and strategic requirements. There is a risk that potential benefits of implementing such a change may not be realized if the program is not carefully managed. Investment is needed to create a successful centralized finance function. Typically the future potential benefits of greater visibility and control, consistent processes, standardized management information, economies of scale, long-term cost savings and an empowered group of proud finance professionals, should outweigh those initial costs.

To reduce the commercial, operational and capability risks, the finance functions can be completely outsourced or partially outsourced to third parties. This will provide guaranteed cost benefits and may provide the opportunity to leverage relationships with vendors that provide best practice processes.

Process Efficiencies

Typically for Police Forces the focus on development has developed a silo based culture with disparate processes. As a result significant opportunities exist for standardization and simplification of processes which provide scalability, reduce manual effort and deliver business benefit. From simply rationalizing processes, a force can typically accrue a 40% reduction in the number of processes. An example of this is the use of electronic bank statements instead of using the manual bank statement for bank reconciliation and accounts receivable processes. This would save considerable effort that is involved in analyzing the data, moving the data onto different spreadsheet and inputting the data into the financial systems.

Organizations that possess a silo operating model tend to have significant inefficiencies and duplication in their processes, for example in HR and Payroll. This is largely due to the teams involved meeting their own goals but not aligning to the corporate objectives of an organization. Police Forces have a number of independent teams that are reliant on one another for data with finance in departments, divisions and headquarters sending and receiving information from each other as well as from the rest of the Force. The silo model leads to ineffective data being received by the teams that then have to carry out additional work to obtain the information required.

Whilst the argument for development has been well made in the context of moving decision making closer to operational service delivery, the added cost in terms of resources, duplication and misaligned processes has rarely featured in the debate. In the current financial climate these costs need to be recognized.

Culture

Within transactional processes, a leading finance function will set up targets for staff members on a daily basis. This target setting is an element of the metric based culture that leading finance functions develop. If the appropriate metrics of productivity and quality are applied and when these targets are challenging but not impossible, this is proven to result in improvements to productivity and quality.

A ‘Best in Class’ finance function in Police Forces will have a service focused culture, with the primary objectives of providing a high level of satisfaction for its customers (departments, divisions, employees & suppliers). A ‘Best in Class’ finance function will measure customer satisfaction on a timely basis through a metric based approach. This will be combined with a team wide focus on process improvement, with process owners, that will not necessarily be the team leads, owning force-wide improvement to each of the finance processes.

Organizational Improvements

Organizational structures within Police Forces are typically made up of supervisors leading teams of one to four team members. Through centralizing and consolidating the finance function, an opportunity exists to increase the span of control to best practice levels of 6 to 8 team members to one team lead / supervisor. By adjusting the organizational structure and increasing the span of control, Police Forces can accrue significant cashable benefit from a reduction in the number of team leads and team leads can accrue better management experience from managing larger teams.

Technology Enabled Improvements

There are a significant number of technology improvements that a Police Force could implement to help develop a ‘Best in Class’ finance function.

These include:

A) Scanning and workflow

Through adopting a scanning and workflow solution to replace manual processes, improved visibility, transparency and efficiencies can be reaped.

B) Call logging, tracking and workflow tool

Police Forces generally have a number of individuals responding to internal and supplier queries. These queries are neither logged nor tracked. The consequence of this is dual:

o Queries consume considerable effort within a particular finance team. There is a high risk of duplicated effort from the lack of logging of queries. For example, a query could be responded to for 30 minutes by person A in the finance team. Due to this query not being logged, if the individual that raised the query called up again and spoke to a different person then just for one additional question, this could take up to 20 minutes to ensure that the background was appropriately explained.

o Queries can have numerous interfaces with the business. An unresolved query can be responded against by up to four separate teams with considerable delay in providing a clear answer for the supplier.

The implementation of a call logging, tracking and workflow tool to document, measure and close internal and supplier queries combined with the set up of a central queries team, would significantly reduce the effort involved in responding to queries within the finance departments and divisions, as well as within the actual divisions and departments, and procurement.

C) Database solution

Throughout finance departments there are a significant number of spreadsheets utilized prior to input into the financial system. There is a tendency to transfer information manually from one spreadsheet to another to meet the needs of different teams.

Replacing the spreadsheets with a database solution would rationalize the number of inputs and lead to effort savings for the front line Police Officers as well as Police Staff.

D) Customize reports

In obtaining management information from the financial systems, police staff run a series of reports, import these into excel, use lookups to match the data and implement pivots to illustrate the data as required. There is significant manual effort that is involved in carrying out this work. Through customizing reports the outputs from the financial system can be set up to provide the data in the formats required through the click of a button. This would have the benefit of reduced effort and improved motivation for team members that previously carried out these mundane tasks.

In designing, procuring and implementing new technology enabling tools, a Police Force will face a number of challenges including investment approval; IT capacity; capability; and procurement.

These challenges can be mitigated through partnering with a third party service company with whom the investment can be shared, the skills can be provided and the procurement cycle can be minimized.

Conclusion

It is clear that cultural, process and technology change is required if police forces are to deliver both sustainable efficiencies and high quality services. In an environment where for the first time forces face real cash deficits and face having to reduce police officer and support staff numbers whilst maintaining current performance levels the current finance delivery models requires new thinking.

While there a number of barriers to be overcome in achieving a best in class finance function, it won’t be long before such a decision becomes mandatory. Those who are ahead of the curve will inevitably find themselves in a stronger position.

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Purchase Order Financing Tips and Secrets for Canadian Firms Seeking Trade Finance

Your worst business nightmare just occurred. You got the order/contract! Now what?!

Purchase order financing is a great tool for firms that have unusual purchase order and contract sales financing needs but are potentially unable to access traditional financing via banks or their own capital resources within their firm. How does trade finance P O financing work, does your firm qualify, what are the costs, and how does it work? Great questions, now let’s explore some answers!

Typically Canadian firms looking for this type of financing are distributors, manufacturers, or perhaps wholesalers. A variety of industries in Canada have access to this type of financing, but those certainly tend to be the typical firms needing assistance.

Your need for purchase order financing arises out of what we call the classic working capital gap. What do we mean by that? It’s a case of your suppliers requiring payment either up front or within 30 days, with your firm unable to generate those funds for payment and therefore unable to fill large purchase order and contracts in your favor. Your supplier is asking your for payment in advance or 30 days, and you wont receive payment for at least 60-90 days, perhaps more depending on your build cycle, etc.

Naturally you don’t want to turn down orders or lose competitive market position.

The obvious solution for low cost large amounts of funds are Canadian chartered banks, but our observation is that many firms simply cant satisfy the banks requirements for this type of financing to occur. If your firm is growing, profitable, has a clean balance sheet and strong historical cash flows and history you of course have a solid chance of meeting bank requirements, however that typically is not the case, certainly in the amount of clients we talk to who are looking for alternatives to their growth challenge!

When you access p o financing you can have comfort that your suppliers will be paid, and at the same time you generally have access to all the funds you need. Typical purchase order financing applications take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to complete and involve basic financial due diligence on your firms ability to fulfill the order, who your customer is (they must be credit worthy), and your proper supplier sources must be identified and vetted. It’s as simple as that.

So what are the basic pre requisites for a solid P.O. Financing deal? Naturally your company must be in possession of a contract or order that is not cancelable by your client. The P O finance firm arranges to pay your suppliers directly, that alleviates all you cash flow and working capital concerns. The transaction is completed when you ship the goods and your receivables are generated on the sale. It is at this time the purchase order finance firm expects to be paid, and this is traditionally handled by your firms monetizing of its receivable via a bank or factoring facility. Factoring facilities are great partners to the P O financing strategy, because use of them guarantees payment to your P O firm.

Let’s cover off a couple tips and secrets around the cost of purchase order financing – It generally is in the 2-3% per month range in Canada, and that means you have to have solid gross profit margins in order to be able to sustain the finance charges. But let’s be honest, let’s say your firm has been doing 750k of revenue for the last couple years and you finally get the large order from a major customer for 1 Million dollars. Wouldn’t you give up 2-3 % of your profit margin in order to make one sale which is the equivalent of your entire year’s business? We think you should positively consider that! Clearly the higher cost of this type of financing covers off the complexity and risk that the P O finance firm takes in paying for goods, waiting to get paid, and having the belief that your firm will fulfill the contract order.

It has been our observation with certain clients that your successful completion of a purchase order finance deal typically significantly enhances your relationship with your major suppliers and of course customers, that’s a secret benefit that is intangible but invaluable at the same time.

Is P O financing for everyone. Maybe not. Could it be possibly the solution to major working capital needs if your business is growing and can’t be financed traditionally – we certainly think so? Speak to a trusted, credible and experienced purchase order finance expert to explore your options.

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