What Stands Behind Capital One Credit Cards and Savings Products?

In the times since the global financial crisis, it has increasingly become a concern as to what the backing of the financial institution that issues your credit card or holds your saving account is. There are a number of laws which regulate the financial system and try to ensure that customers can rely on banks to honour their obligations which can be a particular concern in relation to savings products. Title 12 of the United States Code in part 325 specifies a number of ‘capital adequacy requirements’ in relation to all banks. The aim of these requirements is to force banks to adequately provision of a crisis and ensure that they will remain solvent even if there is a large crisis. Banks must report periodically on their arrangements to show regulators that they are meeting the capital adequacy requirements.

Capital One at the moment is, when measured by asset pool, the 8th largest bank in the United States with balance sheet assets of approximately USD$286bn in 2012. Amongst other distinctions, the company is also one of the largest customers of the United States postal service. Its head office is in Fairfax County Virginia and the current chairman, CEO and President of the company is Richard Fairbank. It is one of the fastest growing banks in American history having been founded in 1988 by the current CEO. Like many banks in the American financial system, Capital One was the recipient of a bail out during the sub prime mortgage crisis of 2007 when it received $3.56bn from the United States Government in exchange for 3,555,199 shares in the company. By the end of 2009, the company had managed to buy the government out of the business.

As well as being involved in credit cards, Capital One has an Auto Finance Division which is a substantial part of the company. An entity known as Capital One 360 is also now in existence having formerly been known as ING Direct on the idea that a bank could perform retail services entirely on the basis of an online model. This division of the company has no branches and only maintains a physical presence in the form of call centres and online processing maintenance facilities. The online bank model seems to achieved some success given that the lower overheads from rent and staff result in lower costs to consumers and therefore a better outcome.

One of the notable characteristic of Capital One is that it appears to have retained an ability to ride out the periodic financial storms which emerge in the world of consumer credit. It has grown consistently throughout good and bad times in consumer finance and continues to grow based on the analysis of its most recent financial data. This history of growth and the ability to ride out financial storms appears to bode well for the credit and savings products of Capital One.

Top 10 iPhone Apps for Personal Finance

There are many applications for the iPhone that give users the ability to make personal financing easier than ever. While solving one pain-in-the-neck issue, it creates another – which app to buy? Because of the popularity of these headache-reducing apps, there is an overwhelming amount of options available in the App Store. Deciphering which app is the best available is almost impossible. Add in the fact that so many aren’t free, and choosing the right one the first time around could save time and money. Before downloading anything, it’s important to know if the functionality of the app (money transferring, budget tracking, etc.) fits your needs. Provided is a list of ten apps including the price and primary function that can make tracking personal finances much easier.

Mint – There are tons of finance apps available that focus on budget tracking. Few are as popular as Mint, which allows users to manage multiple financial accounts from one simple user interface. With user-friendly features and no price tag, there is little wonder why this app has so many users.

Loan Shark – Dealing with loans is never a pleasant experience. The Loan Shark app helps ease some of the pain endured while handling loans without having to pay anything. It simplifies the process of calculating loans by a great deal and also has many features including a full amortization table, a one-tap extra payment option, and a “favorites” feature.

MoneyStrands – This app is another free option for tracking your budget. With features like alerts, analysis, security, and support, it is one to compare to Mint.

PageOnce – Planning long-term investments can be easy to put off. This app also assists in budgeting your current finances like MoneyStrands and Mint, but really excels in planning for the future. It gives you the ability to look at your 401k, IRA, and stocks all at the same time, while not costing you a cent.

Toshl – Toshl incorporates cloud computing into every day financing with this free app. The cloud feature allows users to automatically sync their mobile movements online. Additionally, there is a premium upgrade ($19.95/year) that allows users to export to Excel, PDF, or Google Docs among other features.

MoneyBook – MoneyBook is another addition to the long line of apps for budgeting. This one, however, comes at a price. Promoted as “Finance with Flair,” the app costs $2.99 and is loaded with features to make financing easier.

SplashMoney – At $4.99, what differentiates this from the free apps is its ability to connect wirelessly to most online bank accounts.

Square – The price is right for this free app that makes credit card purchases simpler than ever. By signing up, Square, Inc. will provide a credit card reader that can be attached directly to the iPhone. Once connected, users have the ability to swipe all major credit cards with only a 2.75% charge per swipe.

PayPal – Ebay-owned PayPal provides users a secure, simple way to send or receive money wirelessly.

General Banking – The bulk of major banks have available apps for free. These provide easy-access to any and all bank accounts in a secure fashion.

This is only a small example of the many, many apps that can help make financing easier. With the continuous release of new applications and updates to old ones, banking from your iPhone will continue to simplify; finding the app for doing so may not. This list is a great place to start looking.

For more information about iPhone application development, visit Magenic Technologies who have been providing innovative custom software development to meet unique business challenges for some of the most recognized companies and organizations in the nation.

Top 5 iPad Finance Apps for Business

The past two years have been a whirlwind in mobile computing and people are embracing these new devices, like the iPad, at breakneck speeds. Apple’s Fourth Quarter revenues jumped 21 percent from a year ago, including the sale of over 11 million iPads. It’s clear that the huge advances in mobile devices are not only changing how we live our personal lives but also how we do business. For business, especially small business, some of the biggest advantages are coming from the app world. If you want to make your business finances a breeze, check out these apps:

1. Square: Credit card transactions have never been easier. The developers of this free app will send you an actual credit card reader that plugs into your iPad. It’s secure, easy, mobile, and even has built in analytics to track sales, collect tips and tax, and send electronic receipts via email or text. There is no need to delay the payment process anymore. Oh, and they only charge a 2.75% transaction fee: no contracts, fees, or merchant accounts necessary.

2. Expensify has the traveling business world in an uproar. The features of this app are impressive at the least: sync banking information to track purchases in real time, digitize receipts to reduce the chance of losing them (just snap a picture and the app will discern and note the necessary info), customize and email reports for approval, and be reimbursed to your checking account. You’ll be your accountant’s best friend with the organization and ease provided by this app.

3. Time Master + Billing: With a 4 star rating in the app store, this app sets the bar for time and expense tracking. The overall best feature is flexibility to be customized to fit how you work – rounding minutes, multiple running timers, billing rates, expenses, client project/tasks, and so many more options. There are even additional modules available to include invoicing, QuickBooks export, and wireless sync between mobile devices.

4. Intuit GoPayment Credit Card Terminal: Similar to Square but a little bit more involved. It’s also a free app, but you have to jump through a few more hoops (AKA a 15 minute application process) to be approved to use this service. However, if you’re looking for a proven brand name, this may be for you.

5. QuickBooks Connect: This is a great supplement to your QuickBooks Online subscription (QuickBooks 2011 users you’ll have to get a paid subscription to use this app past 30 days). Manage customer information and balances; create invoices and sales receipts; convert estimates to invoices; email estimates, invoices, and sales receipts and more with this handy app.

Mobile computing can make all the difference in the efficiency of your business. Look for the bottlenecks in your financial administration and ask yourself, is there an app for that?

Kristi Daeda is an online marketing strategist that works with companies nationwide to define and execute powerful online marketing strategies. Read more about her thoughts on online marketing at her website [http://www.powerhousestrategy.com] or as featured on Mobile Apps Designers.

Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As)

Mergers and Acquisitions are terms almost always used together in the business world to refer to two or more business entities joining to form one enterprise. More often than not a merger is where two enterprises of roughly equal size and strength come together to form a single entity. Both companies’ stocks are merged into one. An acquisition is usually a larger firm purchasing a smaller one. This takes the form of a takeover or a buyout, and could be either a friendly union or the result of a hostile bid where the smaller firm has very little say in the matter. The smaller, target company, ceases to exist while the acquiring company continues to trade its stock. An example is where a number of smaller British companies ceased to exist once they were taken over by the Spanish bank Santander. The exception to this is when both parties agree, irrespective of the relative strength and size, to present themselves as a merger rather than an acquisition. An example of a true merger would be the joining of Glaxo Wellcome with SmithKline Beecham in 1999 when both firms together became GlaxoSmithKline. An example of an acquisition posing as a merger for appearances sake was the takeover of Chrysler by Daimler-Benz in the same year. As already seen, since mergers and acquisitions are not easily categorised, it is no easy matter to analyse and explain the many variables underlying success or failure of M&As.

Historically, a distinction has been made between congeneric and conglomerate mergers. Roughly speaking, congeneric firms are those in the same industry and at a similar level of economic activity, while conglomerates are mergers from unrelated industries or businesses. Congeneric could also be seen as (a) horizontal mergers and (b) vertical mergers depending on whether the products and services are of the same type or of a mutually supportive nature. Horizontal mergers may come under the scrutiny of anti-trust legislation if the result is seen as turning into a monopoly. An example is the British Competition Commission preventing the country’s largest supermarket chains buying up the retailer Safeway. Vertical mergers occur when a customer of a company and that company merges, or when a supplier to a company and that company merges. The classic example given is that of an ice cream cone supplier merging with an ice cream manufacturer.

The ‘first wave’ of horizontal mergers took place in the United States between 1899 and 1904 during a period referred to as the Great Merger Movement. Between 1916 and 1929, the ‘second wave’ was more of vertical mergers. After the great depression and World War II the ‘third wave’ of conglomerate mergers took place between 1965 and 1989. The ‘fourth wave’ between 1992 and 1998 saw congeneric mergers and even more hostile takeovers. Since the year 2000 globalisation encouraging cross-border mergers has resulted in a ‘fifth wave’. The total worldwide value of mergers and acquisitions in 1998 alone was $2.4 trillion, up by 50% from the previous year (andrewgray.com). The entry of developing countries in Asia into the M&A scene has resulted in what is described as the ‘sixth wave’. The number of mergers and acquisitions in the US alone numbered 376 in 2004 at a cost of $22.64 billion, while the previous year (2003) the cost was a mere $12.92 billion. The growth of M&As worldwide appears to be unstoppable.

What is the raison d’etre for the proliferation of mergers and acquisitions? In a nutshell, the intention is to increase the shareholder value over and above that of the sum of two companies. The main objective of any firm is to grow profitably. The term used to denote the process by which this is accomplished is ‘synergy’. Most analysts come up with a list of synergies like, economies of scale, eliminating duplicate functions, in this case often resulting in staff reductions, acquiring new technology, extending market reach, greater industry visibility, and an enhanced capacity to raise capital. Others have stressed, even more ambitiously, the importance of M&As as being “indispensable…for expanding product portfolios, entering new markets, acquiring new technologies and building a new generation organization with power and resources to compete on a global basis” (Virani). However, as Hughes (1989) observed “the predicted efficiency gains often fail to materialise”. Statistics reveal that the failure rate for M&As are somewhere between 40-80%. Even more damning is the observation that “If one were to define ‘failure’ as failure to increase shareholder value then statistics show these to be at the higher end of the scale at 83%”.

In spite of the reported high incidence of its failure rate “Corporate mergers and acquisitions (M&As) (continue to be) popular… during the last two decades thanks to globalization, liberalization, technological developments and (an) intensely competitive business environment” (Virani 2009). Even after the ‘credit crunch’, Europe (both Western and Eastern) attract strategic and financial investors according to a recent M&A study (Deloitte 2007). The reasons for the few successes and the many failures remain obscure (Stahl, Mendenhall and Weber, 2005). King, Dalton, Daily and Covin (2004) made a meta-analysis of M&A performance research and concluded that “despite decades of research, what impacts the financial performance of firms engaging in M&A activity remains largely unexplained” (p.198). Mercer Management Consulting (1997) concluded that “an alarming 48% of mergers underperform their industry after three years”, and Business Week recently reported that in 61% of acquisitions “buyers destroyed their own shareholders’ wealth”. It is impossible to view such comments either as an explanation or an endorsement of the continuing popularity of M&As.

Traditionally, explanations of M&A performance has been analysed within the theoretical framework of financial and strategic factors. For example, there is the so-called ‘winner’s curse’ where the parent company is supposed to have paid over the odds for the company that was acquired. Even when the deal is financially sound, it may fail due to ‘human factors’. Job losses, and the attendant uncertainty, anxiety and resentment among employees at all levels may demoralise the workforce to such an extent that a firm’s productivity could drop between 25 to 50 percent (Tetenbaum 1999). Personality clashes resulting in senior executives quitting acquired firms (’50% within one year’) is not a healthy outcome. A paper entitled ‘Mergers and Acquisitions Lead to Long-Term Management Turmoil’ in the Journal of Business Strategy (July/August 2008) suggests that M&As ‘destroy leadership continuity’ with target companies losing 21% of their executives each year for at least 10 years, which is double the turnover of other firms.

Problems described as ‘ego clashes’ within top management have been seen more often in mergers between equals. The Dunlop – Pirelli merger in 1964 which became the world’s second largest tyre company ended in an expensive splitting-up. There is also the merger of two weak or underperforming companies which drag each other down. An example is the 1955 merger of car makers Studebaker and Packard. By 1964 they had ceased to exist. There is also the ever present danger of CEOs wanting to build an empire acquiring assets willy-nilly. This often is the case when the top managers’ remuneration is tied to the size of the enterprise. The remuneration of corporate lawyers and the greed of investment bankers are also factors which influence the proliferation of M&As. Some firms may aim for tax advantages from a merger or acquisition, but this could be seen as a secondary benefit. Another reason for M&A failure has been identified as ‘over leverage’ when the principal firm pays cash for the subsidiary assuming too much debt to service in the future.

M&As are usually unique events, perhaps once in a lifetime for most top mangers. There is therefore hardly any opportunity to learn by experience and improve one’s performance, the next time round. However, there are a few exceptions, like the financial-services conglomerate GE Capital services with over 100 acquisitions over a five-year period. As Virani (2009) says “…serial acquirers who possess the in house skills necessary to promote acquisition success as (a) well trained and competent implementation team, are more likely to make successful acquisitions”. What GE Capital has learned over the years is summarised below.

1. Well before the deal is struck, the integration strategy and process should be initiated between the two sets of top managers. If incompatibilities are detected at this early stage, such as differences in management style and culture, either a compromise could be achieved or the deal abandoned.

2. The integration process is recognised as a distinct management function, ascribed to a hand-picked individual selected for his/her interpersonal and cross-cultural sensitivity between the parent firm and the subsidiary.

3. If there are to be lay-offs due to restructuring, these must be announced at the earliest possible stage with exit remuneration packages, if any.

4. People and not just procedures are important. As early as possible, it is necessary to form problem solving groups with members from both firms resulting, hopefully, in a bonding process.

These measures are not without their critics. Problems could still surface long after the merger or acquisition. Whether to aim for total integration between two very different cultures is possible or desirable is questioned. That there could be an optimal strategy out of four possible states of: integration, assimilation, separation or deculturation.

A paper by Robert Heller and Edward de Bono entitled ‘Mergers and acquisitions and takeovers: Buying another business is easy but making the merger a success is full of pitfalls’ (08/07/2006) looks at examples of unsuccessful mergers from the relatively recent past and makes recommendations for avoiding their mistakes. Their findings could be generalised to other M&As and therefore is worth paying attention to.

They begin with the BMW – Rover merger where they have identified strategic failings. BMW invested £2.8 billion in acquiring Rover and kept losing £360,000 annually. The strategic objective had been to broaden the buyer’s product line. However, the first combined product was the Rover 75, which competed directly with existing BMW mid-range models. The other, existing Rover cars were out of date and uncompetitive, and the job of replacing them was left far too late.

Another fly in the ointment was that the stated profits that Rover had supposedly enjoyed were subsequently seen as illusory. Subjected to BMWs accounting principles, they were turned into losses. Obviously, BMW had failed in the exercise of ‘due diligence’. (Due diligence is described as the detailed analysis of all important features like finance, management capability, physical assets and other less tangible assets (Virani 2009). Interestingly, the authors allude to instances of demergers being more successful than mergers. For example, Vodafone, the mobile telephone dealer, which was owned by Racal, is now valued at $33.6 billion, 33 times greater in value than the parent company Racal. The other instance is that of ICI and Zeneca where the spin-off is worth £25 billion as against the parent company being valued at £4 billion.

The authors refer to the fact that after a merger, the management span at the top becomes wider, and this could impose new strains. Due to difficulties in adjustment to the new realities, the need for positive action tends to get put on the back burner. Delay is dangerous as the BMW managers realised. While BMW set targets and expected 100% acquiescence, Rover was in the habit of reaching only 80% of the targets set. Walter Hasselkus, the German manager of Rover after the merger, was respectful of the Rover’s existing culture that he failed to impose the much stricter BMW ethos, and, ultimately lost his position.

Another failure of strategy implementation by BMW recognised by the authors was that of investing in the wrong assets. BMW paid only £800 million for Rover, but invested £2 billion in factories and outlets, but not in developing products. BMW hitherto had concentrated quite successfully on executive cars produced in smaller numbers. They obviously felt vulnerable in an industry dominated by large, volume producers of cars. It is not always the case that bigger is better. In fragmenting markets, even transnational corporations lose their customers to niche, more attractive, small players.

There was an earlier reference in this essay to the success of giant pharmaceuticals like SmithKline Beecham. However, they are now losing large sums of money to divest themselves of drug distribution companies they acquired at great cost; clearly a strategic mistake, which the authors’ label ‘jumping on the bandwagon’. They quote a top American manager bidding for a smaller financial services company in 1998 being asked why, as saying ‘Aw, shucks, fellers, all the other kids have got one…’ The correct strategy, they imply, is to reorganise around core businesses disposing of irrelevancies and strengthening the core. They give the example of Nokia who disposed of paper, tyres, metals, electronics, cables and TVs to concentrate on mobile telephones. Here’s a case of successful reverse merging. On the other hand, top managers should have the vision to transform a business by imaginatively blending disparate activities to appeal to the market.

Ultimately it is down to the visionary chief executive to steer the course for the new merged enterprise. The authors give the example of Silicon Valley, where ‘new ideas are the key currency and visionaries dominate’. They say that the Silicon Valley mergers succeeded because the targets were small and were bought while the existing businesses themselves were experiencing dynamic growth.

What has so far not being addressed in this essay is the phenomenon of cross-border or cross-cultural mergers and acquisitions, which are of increasing importance in the 21st century. This fact is recognised as the ‘sixth wave’, with China, India, and Brazil emerging as global players in trade and industry. Cross-cultural negotiation skills are central to success in cross-border M&As. Transnational corporations (TNCs) are very actively engaged in these negotiations, with their annual value-added business performance exceeding that of some nation states. A detailed exposition of the dynamics of cross-cultural negotiations in M&As is found in Jayasinghe 2009 (pp. 169 – 176). The ‘cultural dynamics of M&A’ has been explored by Cartwright and Schoenberg, 2006. Other researchers in this area use terms such as ‘cultural distance’ ‘cultural compatibility’, ‘cultural fit’, and ‘sociocultural integration’ as determinants of M&A success.

There is general agreement that M&A activity is at its height following an economic downturn. All five historical ‘waves’ of M&A dealings testify to this. One of the main reasons for this could be the rapid drop in the stock value of target companies. A major factor in the increase in global outward foreign direct investment (FDI) stock which was $14 billion in 1970, to $2,000 billion in 2007, was ‘due to mergers and acquisitions (M&As) of existing entities, as opposed to establishing an entirely new entity ( that is, ‘Greenfield’ investment’)’ (Rajan and Hattari 2009). Increased global economic activity alone may have accounted for this increase. In the early 1990s M&A deals were worth $150 billion, while in the year 2000 it had peaked to $1,200 billion, most of it due to cross-border deals. However, by 2006 it had dropped to $880 billion. Rajan and Hattari (op cit) ascribe this growth to the growing significance of the cross-border integration of Asian economies.

During 2003-06, the share of developed economies (EU, Japan and USA) in M&A purchases had declined. From 96.5 percent in 1987 it had fallen to 87 percent by 2006. This is said to be due to the ascendancy of developing economies of Asia both in terms of value as well as the number of M&As. Substantiating the thesis that economic downturns appear to boost M&A activity, sales jumped following the Asian crisis of 1997-98. While in 1994-96 the sales were put at $7 billion, it had increased three-fold to $21 billion between1997-99. Rajan and Hittari (2009) attribute this increase to the ‘depressed asset values compared to the pre-crisis period’. Indonesia, Korea and Thailand affected most by the crisis reported the highest M&A activity.

China is one of those countries not suffering from the effects of global recession to the same extent as most Western economies. China has been buying assets from Hong Kong, and in 2007 the purchases amounted to 17 percent of the total M&A deals in Asia (excluding Japan). Rajan and Hattari looked at investors from Singapore, Malaysia, India, Korea and Taiwan. This led to the hypothesis that the greater size of the host country and its distance from the target country is a determinant of cross-border M&A activity. They also found that exchange rate variability and availability of credit are factors impacting on M&As, and have generalised this to conclude that ‘financial variables (liquidity and risk) impact global M&A transactions… especially intra-Asian ones’.

On the other hand, it is reported that overall M&As were hit by the global recession and had lost valuation by 76% by 2009. While 54 deals worth $15.5 billion occurred in 2008 between April and August, during the same period 72 M&A deals were worth only $3.73 billion in 2009. The industries dominating the M&A sectors were IT, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and power. There were also deals involving metal, banking/finance, chemical, petrochemical, construction, engineering, healthcare, manufacturing, media, real estate and textiles.

The influential Chinese consulting firm, China Center for Information Industry Development (CCID) has concluded that although some enterprises are on the brink of bankruptcy during the global recession, it has ‘greatly reduced M&A costs for enterprise’. As industry investment opportunities fall, investment uncertainties increase, M&As show bigger values…. As proven in the 5 previous high tide of global industry capital M&As, every recession period resulting from (a) global financial crisis has been a period of active M&As’.

Most commentators believe that in addition to the empirical research as quoted above, research from a wider perspective to encompass the disciplines of psychology, sociology, anthropology, organisational behaviour, and international management, is needed to make continual improvements to our understanding of the dynamics for the success or failure of mergers and acquisitions, which are increasingly becoming the most popular form of industrial and economic growth across the globe. The evidence regarding how the current global financial crisis affects the proliferation of M&As has not been straightforwardly negative or positive. Many intervening variables have been hinted at in this essay but more systematic work is required for an exhaustive analysis.

The Best Free Android Finance Apps

Obviously many people will be skeptical as to how good free apps actually are, with many consumers actually purposefully not downloading free apps due to fears that they will crash or being infected with various ways of stealing your money. However these fears are totally unfounded and without evidence so do not let this put you off. Now to the apps:


If you have been on the internet at some point then you will have undoubtedly heard of PayPal. The service facilitates payments between people via a simple email address, avoiding the complexities usually associated with bank transfers and the like. The PayPal Android app allows users to manage their PayPal account just as they would through the official website. The app is totally secure and allows you to make purchases or deposits also amongst other activities on the move, a very useful addition to the marketplace.

Quote Pro

Quote Pro is also an incredibly useful app, used by many on a daily basis it has fast become one of the most downloaded in its range. Not only can you obtain extremely detailed and accurate information about the range of stocks you have an interest in, but you can also keep an eye on your portfolio of stocks and shares.

Tip Calculator by TradeFields

Tip Calculator is perhaps one of the most imaginative apps I have personally seen on the app marketplace. It is incredibly useful for an aspect you will have probably have struggled with every time you’ve been out for a meal, the tip. Not only will the app inform you of the total tip you should be leaving behind, but will also divide the total tip amount between the number of people at the dinner, saving much embarrassment, delays and napkin calculations!

Currency Converter

How many times have you been in a foreign country or at the airport and have been wondering how much you will actually get in return for your dollars? Numerous times in all probability. The currency converter provided by Pocketools will enable you to be provided with an accurate, up to date and independent currency exchange valuation allowing you to shop around to find the best exchange rate. Not only does this app provide you with the current exchange rate, it will also give you data on the currency of your choice over the last 5 year period through the use of many easy to read graphs.


This is without doubt one of the best apps I have personally seen. With the rising prices of gas which look set to continue for the foreseeable future it is a great way of ensuring that you are driving as economically as possible and therefore saving as much gas as possible. I haven’t an idea about how it works but it does, the interface is also extremely slick, simple to navigate through and to understand.


Finance, whilst the name of the app may not excite you or conjure up ideas that this app is going to change the world it certainly fills a gap in the market which needed a simple app. It’s similar to Google search in many aspects, it provides a very basic user interface, but one that is incredibly effective and performs its job excellently. If you already use Google Finance or are considering starting to use it then this app is vital, it synchronizes everything meaning it’s like being on your main PC.


Financisto is another great money manager. The ability to create long and short term budgets for holidays, short breaks or just a simple shopping trip is a real plus point for this app and one which has seen it rocket in terms of popularity. In addition to this the app has the capability to check your recurring payments amongst many other essential financial activities; this has left many users of the marketplace wondering why there is no charge.