Be Alert and Cautious When Banking Online

Online banking has made it possible for the average person to have quick, convenient and round-the-clock access to his or her personal or business accounts, credit cards, savings accounts, and other financial products and services. With online banking services, financial institutions bring the process right to the customer’s hands, with everything done via computer or mobile device.

The advantages of doing your banking online can not be denied. While physical bank branches have limited hours of operation, which may make it difficult for those with hectic schedules, online banking is typically available at anytime of the day, so you can do what you need to do at your most convenient time. Whether it is paying bills, transferring funds to your savings account, or just to inquire about your balance, the information and transactions can be accomplished online when you want to.

With the rise of online banking also came new challenges to customer privacy and safety. As millions of customers now perform confidential financial transactions from their desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, criminal elements have also adjusted their tactics and are targeting unsuspecting users who do not take necessary precautions to safeguard their personal data.

Many of the basic precautions customers can take when using online banking services do not differ too much from the usual safety reminders for over-the-counter or ATM banking, such as regularly changing passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), and verification questions. But other safety procedures are unique to the online setting, such as looking for the “lock” icon on the bank website which signifies that it is secure, or ensuring that there is a “Verified” sign when making Web purchases or transactions.

Firewalls, security updates, and other software and apps should not be taken for granted when you do your banking online. The firewall protects your information from being accessed by people through your Internet connection. Without a firewall, your data is easily retrievable by any one with the knowledge to obtain it by attacking your Web connection.

Depending on what operating system you use, security updates are regularly sent by the manufacturers in order to keep your computer or device updated with the latest security patches or fixes. You can schedule these updates to run automatically, or you can accept the updates any time you get a prompt or notification. Usually, when manufacturers are able to identify security attacks or bugs, they release fixes via security updates so that the users are protected.

It is not advisable to access your online banking information from a public or shared computer, but if you must do so you should know how to clear the cache and history after use. Some data may remain to be easily accessible if you do not remove the cache or browser history. Experts also remind online banking customers not to leave or save passwords on public computer terminals or shared devices.

If you are careful about your activities when going to your bank, then you should also have that alert mindset when using online banking services, where the threats of identity theft and unauthorized data use are just as real and prevalent.

Should We Buy Apple’s Stocks?

Apple’s stock briefly broke the $100 barrier in previous trading session before falling back. Considering that its stock had reached more than $700 in 2012, this fact may not look too surprising. However, we should consider the fact that Apple implemented a “7 for 1” split this summer. The increase in price is fueled by a couple of products, the iWatch and iPhone 6 smartphone. The company hasn’t provided any confirmation about these devices and we can’t even be entirely sure that the company’s next flagship will be called iPhone 6.

Although less frequently mentioned, investors should also add the effect of iWatch into their calculation. However, some analysts say that the smatwatch won’t debut until 2015.

At the moment, experts advise investors to load up before Apple launches its new devices. It is believed that the stock could go until up to $120 sometime next year. Investors are clearly enthusiastic about this fact and Apple’s mojo is usually back on September each year, the most probable time of release for new iPhone model. By market cap, Apple is the largest company in the world and it still dominates the mobile market.

It’s clear that Apple’s investors will have a wonderful 2014 and probably a better than expected profit. Apple has shown itself as a fantastic opportunity again and again. Rumors say that there will be two iPhone 6 models released next month, a standard 4.7-inch model and a phablet-sized 5.5-inch model. The release of two premium models will potentially drive the company’s finances and ultimately its stock price at the latter months of the year. Here are things to consider before we purchase Apple’s stock:

  • Availability of higher tier model: The iPhone 6 with 5.5-inch display is likely a more expensive model than the smaller 4.7-inch version. The larger model will be more appropriate for multimedia consumption and playing games. It means, users would likely need to purchase variants with higher internal storage to store all the content and apps. iPhone units with higher internal storage are known for their higher margins and this contribute significantly to Apple’s profitability. It should also be noted that Apple finally has the ability to stand up against Android manufacturers that have released so many phablet models in the market. This fact should bode well for higher selling prices and increased unit shipments.
  •  iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C will be attractive low-cost models: With the release of two iPhone 6 models, Apple will designate the Apple iPhone 5S as a mid-range model. It will be available on-contract for $99 with a new 2-year contract agreement. The iPhone 5C will be a low-cost alternative of the other more powerful models and carriers may soon offer it for free also with 2 year contract. Regardless of its older design and smaller display, the Apple iPhone 5S is still attractive for consumers this holiday season with its Touch ID scanner and premium metal chassis.
  • Price reductions: Although Apple continues to sell high number of mobile devices, the company often drives sales growth through price cuts. In recent quarter, Apple made the iPhone 5S $20 cheaper at $561. This strategy may decelerate sales growth and this could be reflected by the slight reduction in stock price. For this reason, investors should be aware about when Apple will lower the price of both iPhone 6 models and this could take place on spring/summer 2015.

Throughout 2015, Apple will be able to consistently increase its iPhone, tablet and probably, smartwatch shipments. This will ensure near-consistent increase of stock price. It’s also interesting to know that Apple still offers a huge buyback program, so we should be rather enthusiastic for things that may lie ahead.

Do you currently invest in Apple Stocks? Do You plan to invest? Answer the poll below:

An essential component of becoming successful sales leaders is to provide constructive feedback to the marketing team. Leaders are charged with daily counselling, motivating and training tasks. Members look to leaders to gain professional development through necessary knowledge, guidance and resources to achieve success. One effective ways to interact with the sales team is through feedback.

By asking for feedback, team leaders can build trust with members. By soliciting for advices, the team can get constructive advices to make improvements. New members could be surprised by our asking for continuous feedback, but this could eventually create a commitment and a circle of trust among the members. Communication is critical to the success of our marketing team and without it, we can’t get verification that members have executed our best practices. Here are five things leaders could do to improve their marketing team:

  1. Start the day with positivity: There are many good reasons to start the day with the positive. Leaders can start by asking for things that salespeople did well the previous day and things that need to be improved. Feedback leaders get should further improve the positive experience. When members actively seek out constructive criticism, we know that the team has already progressed well.
  2. Let members say things they want: Leaders should allow members to go first. This will make the team to really think about positive aspects they can get today. Normally, people are very critical of their own achievements. When people start with positive things, they can get beneficial conversations. Leaders with conversationally active team can feel that the pressure has been taken off their shoulder. Often times, members end up touching on things leaders want to say in the first place.
  3. Use the SMART principle: During the briefing session, team leaders should use the SMART principle, which is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
  4. Use proper coaching model: We could tie our leadership style to proper coaching model. As an example, leaders can show and tell employees things they should do. When we provide the necessary feedback, it is important to draw connection to previous activities where we applied proper sales techniques successfully.
  5. Be consistent: Leaders need to be consistent in their feedback. Members are accountable with specific sales activities, so leaders should be responsible for delivering actionable and valuable feedback. How leaders provide feedback can make huge difference between leading an effective marketing team and one that inevitably flounders.

Do you have anything to add to this list?  Let us know what you think leaders need in order to boost sales.

Buying Gold

I’ve written about gold prices plenty of times here on Stocksicity. At one point, the price of gold was sky-high and it seemed like that the price would only get higher because of the amount of gold that everyone was purchasing. Everyone wanted to get in the gold bubble before it maxed out and popped. Over the past few years, gold prices have steadily increased and then slowly decreased. Right now is an almost perfect time to buy gold and other precious metals. The economy has been slowly bouncing back to what it was years before the collapse due to the banking industry going down the toilet. That resulted in gold prices to sky-rocket because like most other precious metals, gold increases in price in times of crisis. And for thousands of years, gold has been a favorite investment for almost everyone, from the Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs to my co-worker who purchases gold bullion and gold bars with her tax refunds almost every year. I think that it is a great investment because gold prices have been increasing for thousands of years and they have a very bright future.

Many places allow you to buy gold easily. Places like Bullion Vault allow easy access to online resources which allow you to trade gold as if it was a stock. If you have gold lying around and need money, selling gold would be very lucrative because of its worth. And if you have money lying around and need a fairly steady investment, look into buying gold because no other investment can be as steady as gold. Gold is a natural element and will retain its value over time, unlike stocks which can plummet to the ground tomorrow. Gold will always be valuable. Even if it loses some value tomorrow, it will go back up the day after.

The gold bubble that started to expand a few years ago seems to have diminished. However, I believe that in the future, sooner than later, the gold bubble will expand again. Every time the bubble expands, it sets a new floor for the price of gold. Right now, gold prices are just under $1,400 at the time of this post, , years ago, it was half that and because of the way gold prices go up, it isn’t likely to hit $700, the floor will only go up. And with current technology, selling and buying gold has never been easier. If you don’t take advantage then you may end up losing a lot more profit than you think.

How to Research a Company Before Investing

When you’re considering putting your money into the stock market, it’s important to fully research your potential investment. If you’re serious about playing the stock market, you no doubt have an investment strategy in place, so now it’s a case of finding a company or companies that fit your requirements.

The search can often be the most interesting part of the investment process. Finding that hidden gem among the many businesses that are out there can really get your adrenaline pumping. However, there are literally thousands of companies listed for trade on the stock market, so we have a few pointers on how to make the most of your research before you bite the bullet and invest your money.

Having watched the stock market, you may notice a company’s assets rising very rapidly and feel like you too ought to dive in on the up so you can ride out the wave. But don’t be too hasty. Make sure you understand why this company is gaining and whether or not it is likely to last. The most important principle to hold in mind is that what goes up must, in almost all cases, come down. Look closely at what the company sells; who their CEO is; how their industry is performing in the general market and most importantly, what their competition is doing.

To get your hands on all of this information, there are plenty of resources online to perform a company check, including Duedil, which has a very user-friendly interface and allows you to see all the details about a company that are held at Companies House, for free. For a small charge, you can download certain documents so that you can dig that little bit deeper.

Most companies, whether they’re established or not, tend to have their own website these days so don’t ignore that. If you’re interested in them, it’s definitely worth visiting their site to check out their business model. Are they easily accessible in a web format? Do you understand what they’re trying to achieve? If they don’t have a website, why? These are all questions you ought to be asking. It may also be worth calling or emailing the company directly. If you never receive a human response, are they really what they appear to be?

You should avoid empty pitches, or business outlooks that appear too good to be true – they probably are. Check out their financial statements for the year preceding your investment, as well as new release forecasts, that way you can be sure that growth is solid and sustainable.