Monthly Archives: December 2018

Keys To Good Accounting Practices

Keeping Good Records
One of the ingredients of good accounting practices is keeping proper records. No matter how small or large a business, it is essential to have a filing/storage system in place to store all financial records. Financial records include receipts, invoices, bank tellers, cheque stubs, withdrawal slips, bank statements etc. With the advent of online banking, emails and other forms of online communication, more businesses are storing their accounting information in virtual form. More invoices and receipts are now sent by emails to reduce carbon print, whilst more payments are been carried out online than ever before.

Despite the advancement in technology to aid accounting communication, it is essential that all form of records is kept safely for easy access. This is crucial for accurate financial reporting and business decision making. If a business stores more information on IT systems than files, then a back-up system is important for added security of data. Filing systems must be easily accessible preferable in chronological order. It might also be necessary to keep records of incoming paper-format financial information on a system as back-up.

For taxation purpose documents – paper or computer generated must be kept for a minimum of five years after the end of the accounting period of the business.

Accounting Systems
Accounting services vary from business to business; some companies prefer to outsource their accounting to an accounting firm or freelancer accountant. Another option is to hire staff to carry out all financial functions in-house whilst some small business owners choose to perform these accounting functions themselves.

The accounting system a business chooses must be able to meet the needs of the business. A small business might be better off hiring an accountant, rather than invest in a system there will be no time to operate. A large organisation might be able to afford a good accounting package, but the system will be of no use if there is no competent staff to operate it. For effective accounting, businesses must ensure they match their accounting needs with the appropriate system including outsourcing options.

Monitor Information
A business account is like the flip chart at the end of a patient’s bed which shows the vital signs of that business. To keep the business vitals in good condition, businesses should constantly appraise their financial status to ensure a good book balance.

Most medium to large organisations carry out a monthly, quarterly or regular form of management accounting exercise. These reports are for internal use and it enables the business to identify its financial position on a consistent basis. Though meant for internal purposes, it is an effective way to monitor performance and plan for the future.

Legal Requirements
Businesses must satisfy legal accounting requirements whilst in operation. It is also important that they meet the need of the various stakeholders in the company. These stakeholders have a legal requirement to certain financial information, which must be presented in an acceptable format.

Accounts Statements must also be prepared and filed with the relevant Government bodies – in the UK these are HM Revenue & Customs, Companies House and the Charity Commission. They must be in the right format and submitted by the deadlines set by the authority concerned. Failure to file accounts in the right format and at the right time may result in a financial penalty, except in extreme circumstances.

It is therefore essential that an appropriate book-keeping system is in place to ensure information is captured accurately and efficiently. It is also crucial that businesses have “best practice” policies in place to ensure accounts personnel complies with legal requirements.

Account Personnel
Competent accounting personnel are as valuable as the information they provide. Most businesses require the assistance of experienced accountants to collate and file their accounts. Medium to large companies generally recruit their own personnel to look after their company accounting processes. With the credit crunch hitting businesses profit margin, a lot of businesses are outsourcing their accounting services to external firms. Some of the main advantages of outsourcing are the reduction in staff related costs and the wide range of expertise gained from reputable accounting firms.

Whatever product or service a business provides, ethical accounting practices will ensure a business is able to identify its financial position and plan according to ensure its survival and longevity.

A Brief Guide to Online Finance Degrees

Online degrees are gaining popularity because they are flexible, accessible and convenient. However, if you plan on getting a finance degree online you need to make sure that Moreover they are also acknowledged by most of the employers provided they are pursued from accredited online universities. You can opt for various levels of degree programs as well as certification programs completely online without discontinuing your existing job.

Types of Online Finance Degrees

Different levels of degreesin finance can be pursued online; this includes undergraduate, bachelor’s, master’s as well as Doctorate Degree in Finance. You can even consider various types of specialization to develop niche careers. Some online colleges even offer a combination of accounting and finance degrees.

Some of the most popularOnline Finance Degrees are:

* Online Finance MBA Programs
* Online Finance Certificate Programs
* Bachelor of Science Finance
* Bachelor of Business Administration Finance
* Master of Science in Finance
* Master of Science in International Finance

Choosing an Online Finance Degree

If you are interested in a specific career in the field of finance, you can consider different levels and types of Online Degrees in Finance. They can help you to develop lucrative careers like finance analyst, finance manager or budget manager. However, while choosing an Online Finance Degree at any level, you should look for credible degree programs. You should conduct adequate research and develop a list of accredited online colleges which ensures quality online education.

You can find out about its accreditation from various accredited agencies which are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. With these accredited degree programs, you can develop a lucrative career in the field of finance. This can enable you to get jobs in various work settings like private banking, financial planning, insurance or investment management.

Curriculum for Online Finance Degrees

The curriculum for an Online Finance Degree is one that can help you to develop a strong foundation in the field by gaining business skills along with gaining knowledge about different areas related to the field like finance, marketing, management, economics and statistics. You can also get in-depth understanding about various aspects of the field like risk management, related concepts, different strategies, investment and banking and financial markets.

The basic curriculum for different types of Online Degrees in Finance includes subjects like:

* Financial and Intermediate Accounting
* Cost Management
* Business and Finance
* Mathematics and Statistics
* Money Markets
* Commercial Finance
* Fiscal Accounting
* Financial Administration
* Insurance
* Global and Domestic Business Finance
* Introduction to Economics
* Investment Banking

An Online Finance Degree offers a lot of benefits and can help you to get experience as well as pursue higher education without leaving your existing jobs or compromising on other family commitments. You can pursue it at your own schedule and pace and can take it up from anywhere and at anytime.

In these times of uncertainty, a finance degree pursued from a top university is one of those few careers that still promise a good salary and a prestigious job.

Where to Get Your Online Finance Degree

An online finance degree is a wonderful option for individuals who want to go to college, but for whatever reason prefer an online forum as opposed to a traditional classroom. Frequently, those who opt for an online finance degree have busy schedules already because of family and work commitments, and juggling a typical class schedule is nearly impossible. Also, individuals who have disabilities often times opt for an online finance degree simply because it is easier to work straight from home. No matter why you want an online finance degree, there are many options out there for you to choose from.

The online finance degree is a very popular major, and because of this almost all of the online universities offer the online finance degree. In addition to this, the online finance degree is not only available in bachelors, but also in masters and in some cases PhD. So, no matter if you want just a bachelor’s online finance degree or want to get an online finance degree at ever level, the choice is totally yours.

Paying for your online finance degree is not as difficult as it ahs been in the past, either, because now you can get student loans and choose different payment plans for your online finance degree. Paying for your online finance degree has never been easier.

In addition to this, you will need to decide exactly what you are looking for in the university where you will obtain your online finance degree. The reason for this is because there are so many online university options that range in popularity, accreditation and cost, that you will need to find out which ones offer the best online finance degree for your budget.

Be sure, however, before you begin studying for your online finance degree that you know your university is accredited and has many successful graduates with their online finance degree.

minha Casa, Minha Vida’ (my House, My Life) Programme

The Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My House, My Life) campaign was launched by the Federal Government in March 2009 as one of the means of eliminating the inequality gap and housing deficit in Brazil (of over 10 million houses).

With an initial governmental investment of over $64 BRL billion, 1 million houses are in the process of being built and allocated to families on a means tested basis (with more expected):
– Households with a total income of up to 3 times the minimum wage (currently at $465 BRL per month) can access the full allowance without any insurance and notary registration costs to pay;
– Households with a total income between 3 and 6 times the minimum wage can gain income supplements for loans; a discount on the cost of insurance; a 90% reduction of the notary registration cost and access to the guaranteed’ fund (which will cover in the case of unemployment, death or other specified circumstances);
– Households with a total income of between 6 and 10 the minimum wage can receive lower costs of insurance, an 80% reduction of the notary registration cost and access to the guaranteed’ fund.

The Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My House, My Life) campaign was announced by the Federal Government in March 2009 as one of the means of reducing the inequality gap and housing deficit in Brazil (of over 10 million houses).

With an initial governmental investment of over $64 BRL billion, 1 million houses are planned to be built and allocated to families on a means tested basis:

– Households with a total income of up to 3 times the minimum wage (currently at $465 BRL per month) can access the full allowance without any insurance and notary registration costs to pay;

– Households with a total income between 3 and 6 times the minimum wage can gain income supplements for loans; a discount on the cost of insurance; a 90% reduction of the notary registration cost and access to the guaranteed fund (which will cover in the case of unemployment, death or other specified circumstances);

– Households with a total income of between 6 and 10 the minimum wage can receive lower costs of insurance, an 80% reduction of the notary registration cost and access to the guaranteed fund.

*** ADMINISTRATION ***

Under the program (administered and governed by the Caixa Econmica Federal), households are able to purchase a house with a close to zero interest rate and refinance it over 36 months. As an example, those households that are earning up to 3 times the minimum wage will be allowed to purchase a house up to the value of $BRL 52,000, for which the scheme will contribute $BRL 46,000 leaving the buyer to provide the remainder $BRL 6,000 this would (usually) be borrowed from the Caixa Econmica Federal. Those in the higher income brackets are able to access smaller subsidies and finance packages. The maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is 90 percent (80 percent for higher-income brackets) with interest rates ranging between 5 and 8 percent.

A number of incentives have also been granted to the Brazilian construction industry including loans at 1% above the TJLP (the long-term interest rate); reduced or completely eliminated tax structures; and extended repayment / grace periods. The Caixa Econmica Federal approves each housing development in conjunction with state or municipal governments.

Homebuyers only have to make their first payments after they move in (whereas most developments would require payments pre-construction and usually a down-payment of some sort).

*** CRITICISMS ***

Minha Casa, Minha Vida has received some criticism from academics, the media and the Brazilian public themselves. One accusation is that the government developed the programme to attract voters; there is the fear that placing political interests above the financial practicality of sustaining the scheme is a dangerous game. Effectively giving loans to poor families has also been looked at as risky, particularly as this was the root cause of the US financial crisis. However, those managing the programme are firm that the Brazils orthodox banking system necessitates for sufficient precautions to be in place where lending decisions are made (only after the thorough checking of earnings declarations and credit records, for example).

Many middle class citizens express their frustration with the fact that they continue to pay high rates of interest with no comparable breaks.

*** MINHA CASA, MINHA VIDA’S FUTURE ***

The employment benefits of the increased construction workers required to meet the ever rising demand of the program has been noted and it has been one of the contributory factors of Brazil’s withstanding of the effects of the global financial crisis.

Furthermore, with a massive under supply of housing throughout the country, the building of new residential developments has long been called for – particularly amongst the lower-working classes.

Perhaps most importantly, the breakthrough in the ability of the poorer end of Brazilian society to better their lives cannot be underestimated and the majority see it as a long-overdue national project which will assist the countrys long-term growth. According to Milton Goldfarb, of Goldfarb Developments Brazil: this is a revolution … Brazil has never had a policy so clearly designed to provide housing for the poor and the lower middle classes.

First Time Buyer Mortgage Application Guide

Buying a home and arranging a mortgage is said to be one of the most stressful experiences we can have in live, yet it doesn’t need to be. No matter whether you are a First Time Buyer or moving home, the step by step guide that follows will help ensure that your mortgage application runs smoothly.

Step 1 – Contact an independent mortgage adviser

Buying a home can be one of the most exciting experiences as well as one of the most daunting. With thousands of fixed, tracker, discount and variable rate mortgage products in the market, and so many different factors to take into consideration, how do you now which is the best mortgage product to meet your needs both now and in the future. Making a mistake can proof to be costly and so seeking professional independent mortgage advice is one of the most important steps you can take.

An independent mortgage adviser will complete a detailed fact find of your current circumstances and future expectations, and will analyse what mortgage products are available based on your income, age, credit history and attitude to risk. This analysis will highlight the most suitable products for which Key Facts illustrations will be provided.

Independent mortgage advice need not cost a fortune either. In most cases a broker fee will be good value for money, and will often be offset by the exclusive rates normally available via brokers. In a growing number of cases, Independent Mortgage Advice is provided free of charge with the mortgage adviser being paid for the introduction by the lender on completion of the mortgage.

Step 2 – Mortgage Promise or Initial Agreement in Principle

Once you have selected the best mortgage deal for your requirements, it is well worth applying for the lenders initial agreement in principle, also known as a mortgage promise. This is something that can be arranged on-line or over the phone by your mortgage adviser, with the lenders acceptance decision being available within minutes of submission. The initial agreement in principle will produce a certificate of confirmation that can be shown to prospective sellers to reassure them that mortgage finance is agreed, and that you are serious about buying.

A mortgage agreement in principle can always be arranged prior to knowing what property you will be purchasing or even before you have decided on the best type of mortgage product. The certificate will normally remain valid for 3 months, and speed up the process later when you make a formal application.

Applying for an initial mortgage agreement from several lenders is absolutely fine, but unless you expect the lender to have a problem in agreeing to the mortgage amount required, you are best advised to restrict the number of credit checks that you authorize to be carried out, as too many credit checks in a short period of time can adversely affect your eventual credit score.

What if your initial application is refused?

Agreements in principle are often declined and in most cases for one of the following reasons.

– An adverse credit history has been picked up when the lender has undertaken their credit checks and credit scoring.

– Lending criteria has rejected the application on the basis of insufficient time in employment or being too old.

When these circumstances arise your mortgage adviser is ideally placed to discuss matters with the lender, and where no resolution can be found, to advise you of other lenders and their products where the criteria does fit.

Step 3 – Complete the mortgage application

Once you have received notification that your mortgage is agreed in principle, the full application can then be submitted. To submit the full application, full details about your circumstances will be required by the lender. These details will include the details of the property, how much you want to borrow and where the rest of the money (your deposit) is coming from. It is important to be as open and honest as possible when completing this form as this will help to avoid delays with your application later on.

There are many benefits of using a mortgage advisers services when submitting the full mortgage application, with the main benefit being that the adviser will have years of experience of the individual lenders underwriting practices, and can advise you of the best way to package and submit the application.

Bear in mind that mortgage advisers frequently have exclusive mortgage rates available to them which can not be obtained direct from the lender.

As well as completing the application form, some documentation will be required to back up the details given. Exactly what, will depend on the type of mortgage applied for and the lender involved. In the case of a self certification mortgage, the documents required can be as little as proof of your identity and proof of residence.

Typically when borrowing 75% – 90% of the property value, the lender will require the following:

– Pay slips (often for the last three months)
– P60
– Copies of accounts for the last 2 or 3 years if self employed.
– Bank details for the Direct Debit mandate.
– Proof of identity such as a passport.
– Proof of address such as a recent utilities bill. or bank statement.
– Proof of the last 12 months mortgage payments or a tenancy reference if renting.

Where documentation is required in support of the application, any delay in providing it will delay the lender issuing the mortgage offer. Dealing with an independent mortgage adviser ensures that you will be informed about any documentary requirements quicker than if dealing direct with the lenders.

Step 4 – Instruction of the property valuation

Once the mortgage application is submitted and agreed, the lender will instruct a valuer to inspect the property. The cost of the valuation is born by you unless the mortgage you are applying for includes an incentive such as a free valuation fee.

The mortgage valuation allows the lender to confirm the value of the property and agree to the lending required. In addition to the basic valuation for mortgage purposes, you can ask the lender to carry out a more detailed survey of the property (which is advisable) such as a homebuyer’s report.

The homebuyer report is in a standard format and is designed specifically as an economical survey and an effective way to minimize risk. The homebuyer report ensures that any defects or problems that could effect the value of the property, are picked up highlighting any that are urgent. As part of the Homebuyer’s report an integrated valuation for mortgage purposes is included, unlike a structural survey.

Step 5 – Instruct a Solicitor

It’s the solicitor’s job to review the Home Information Pack (HIP) which includes an Energy Performance Certificate, an index of contents, a sale statement, evidence of title, searches and leasehold documents, when you are buying.As well as negotiating and exchanging contracts the solicitor’s job is also to receive funds from the lender for transfer to the sellers solicitor as well as updating the title deeds. Once contracts have been signed and returned the solicitor will agree a date for completion. On the day of completion, funds will be exchanged between solicitors at which point keys can be collected to your new home.

If using an independent mortgage adviser, check to see if a fixed legal fee package is available, as this can often save time and money, and can result in using a solicitor where the adviser has some leverage to make things happen quickly.