Building a Kingdom – Case Study of Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited

This article presents a case study of sustained entrepreneurial growth of Kingdom Financial Holdings. It is one of the entrepreneurial banks which survived the financial crisis that started in Zimbabwe in 2003. The bank was established in 1994 by four entrepreneurial young bankers. It has grown substantially over the years. The case examines the origins, growth and expansion of the bank. It concludes by summarizing lessons or principles that can be derived from this case that maybe applicable to entrepreneurs.

Profile of an Entrepreneur: Nigel Chanakira

Nigel Chanakira was raised in the Highfield suburb of Harare in an entrepreneurial family. His father and uncle operated a public transport company Modern Express and later diversified into retail shops. Nigel’s father later exited the family business. He bought out one of the shops and expanded it. During school holidays young Nigel, as the first born, would work in the shops. His parents, particularly his mother, insisted that he acquire an education first.

On completion of high school, Nigel failed to enter dental or medical school, which were his first passions. In fact his grades could only qualify him for the Bachelor of Arts degree programme at the University of Zimbabwe. However, he “sweet-talked his way into a transfer” to the Bachelor in Economics degree programme. Academically he worked hard, exploiting his strong competitive character that was developed during his sporting days. Nigel rigorously applied himself to his academic pursuits and passed his studies with excellent grades, which opened the door to employment as an economist with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

During his stint with the Reserve Bank, his economic mindset indicated to him that wealth creation was happening in the banking sector therefore he determined to understand banking and financial markets. While employed at RBZ, he read for a Master’s degree in Financial Economics and Financial Markets as preparation for his debut into banking. At the Reserve Bank under Dr Moyana, he was part of the research team that put together the policy framework for the liberalization of the financial services within the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme. Being at the right place at the right time, he became aware of the opportunities which were opening up. Nigel exploited his position to identify the most profitable banking institution to work for as preparation for his future. He headed to Bard Discount House and worked for five years under Charles Gurney.

A short while later the two black executives at Bard, Nick Vingirayi and Gibson Muringai, left to form Intermarket Discount House. Their departure inspired the young Nigel. If these two could establish a banking institution of their own so could he, given time. The departure also created an opportunity for him to rise to fill the vacancy. This gave the aspiring banker critical managerial experience. Subsequently he became a director for Bard Investment Services where he gained critical experience in portfolio management, client relationships and dealing within the dealing department. While there he met Franky Kufa, a young dealer who was making waves, who would later become a key co-entrepreneur with him.

Despite his professional business engagement his father enrolled Nigel in the Barclays Bank “Start Your Own Business” Programme. However what really made an impact on the young entrepreneur was the Empretec Entrepreneur Training programme (May 1994), to which he was introduced by Mrs Tsitsi Masiyiwa. The course demonstrated that he had the requisite entrepreneurial competences.

Nigel talked Charles Gurney into an attempted management buy-out of Bard from Anglo -American. This failed and the increasingly frustrated aspiring entrepreneur considered employment opportunities with Nick Vingirai’s Intermarket and Never Mhlanga’s National Discount House which was on the verge of being formed – hoping to join as a shareholder since he was acquainted with the promoters. He was denied this opportunity.

Being frustrated at Bard and having been denied entry into the club by pioneers, he resigned in October 1994 with the encouragement of Mrs Masiyiwa to pursue his entrepreneurial dream.

The Dream

Inspired by the messages of his pastor, Rev. Tom Deuschle, and frustrated at his inability to participate in the church’s massive building project, Nigel sought a way of generating huge financial resources. During a time of prayer he claims that he had a divine encounter where he obtained a mandate from God to start Kingdom Bank. He visited his pastor and told him of this encounter and the subsequent desire to start a bank. The godly pastor was amazed at the 26 year old with “big spectacles and wearing tennis shoes” who wanted to start a bank. The pastor prayed before counselling the young man. Having been convinced of the genuineness of Nigel’s dream, the pastor did something unusual. He asked him to give a testimony to the congregation of how God was leading him to start a bank. Though timid, the young man complied. That experience was a powerful vote of confidence from the godly pastor. It demonstrates the power of mentors to build a protégé.

Nigel teamed up with young Franky Kufa. Nigel Chanakira left Bard at the position of Chief Economist. They would build their own entrepreneurial venture. Their idea was to identify players who had specific competences and would each be able to generate financial resources from his activity. Their vision was to create a one – stop financial institution offering a discount house, an asset management company and a merchant bank. Nigel used his Empretec model to develop a business plan for their venture. They headhunted Solomon Mugavazi, a stockbroker from Edwards and Company and B. R. Purohit, a corporate banker from Stanbic. Kufa would provide money market expertise while Nigel provided income from government bond dealings as well as overall supervision of the team.

Each of the budding partners brought in an equal portion of the Z$120,000 as start-up capital. Nigel talked to his wife and they sold their recently acquired Eastlea home and vehicles to raise the equivalent of US$17,000 as their initial capital. Nigel, his wife and three kids headed back to Highfield to live in with his parents. The partners established Garmony Investments which started trading as an unregistered financial institution. The entrepreneurs agreed not to draw a salary in their first year of operations as a bootstrapping strategy.

Mugavazi introduced and recommended Lysias Sibanda, a chartered accountant, to join the team. Nigel was initially reluctant as each person had to bring in an earning capacity and it was not clear how an accountant would generate revenue at start up in a financial institution. Nigel initially retained a 26% share which assured him a blocking vote as well as giving him the position of controlling shareholder.

Nigel credits the Success Motivation Institute (SMI) course “The Dynamics of Successful Management” as the lethal weapon that enabled him to acquire managerial competences. Initially he insisted that all his key executives undertake this training programme.

Birth of the Kingdom

Kingdom Securities P/L commenced operations in November 1994 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Garmony Investments (Pvt) Ltd. It traded as a broker on both money and stock markets.

On 24th February 1995 Kingdom Securities Holding was born with the following subsidiaries: Kingdom Securities Ltd, Kingdom Stockbrokers (Pvt) Ltd and Kingdom Asset Managers (Pvt) Ltd. The flagship Kingdom Securities Ltd was registered as a Discount House under Banking Act Chapter 188 on 25th July 1995. Kingdom Stockbrokers was registered with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange under ZSE Chapter 195 on 1st August 1995. The pre-licensing trading had generated good revenue but they still had a 20% deficit of the required capital. Most institutional investors turned them down as they were a greenfield company promoted by people perceived to be “too young”. At this stage National Merchant Bank, Intermarket and others were on the market raising equity and these were run by seasoned and mature promoters. However Rachel Kupara, then MD for Zimnat, believed in the young entrepreneurs and took up the first equity portion for Zimnat at 5%.

Norman Sachikonye, then Financial Director and Investments Manager at First Mutual followed suit, taking up an equity share of 15%. These two institutional investors were inducted as shareholders of Kingdom Securities Holdings on 1st August 1995. Garmony Investments ceased operations and reversed itself into Kingdom Securities on 31st July 1995, thereby becoming an 80% shareholder.

The first year of operations was marked by intense competition as well as discrimination against new financial institutions by public organisations. All the other operating units performed well except for the corporate finance department with Kingdom Securities, led by Purohit. This monetary loss, differing spiritual and ethical values led to the forced departure of Purohit as an executive director and shareholder on 31st December 1995. From then the Kingdom started to grow exponentially.

Structural Growth

Nigel and his team pursued an aggressive growth strategy with the intention of increasing market share, profitability, and geographic spread while developing a strong brand. The growth strategy was built around a business philosophy of simplifying financial services and making them easily accessible to the general public. An IT strategy that created a low cost delivery channel exploiting ATMs and POS while providing a platform that was ready for Internet and web-based applications, was espoused.

On 1st April 1997, Kingdom Financial Services was licensed as an accepting house focusing on trading and distributing foreign currency, treasury activities, corporate finance, investment banking and advisory services. It was formed under the leadership of Victor Chando with the intention of becoming the merchant banking arm of the Group. In 1998, Kingdom Merchant Bank (KMB) was licensed and it took over the assets and liabilities of Kingdom Securities Limited. Its main focus was treasury related products, off-balance sheet finance, foreign currency and trade finance. Kingdom Research Institute was established as a support service to the other units.

The entrepreneurial bankers, cognisant of their limitations, sought to achieve critical mass quickly by actively seeking capital injection from equity investors. The aim was to broaden ownership while lending strategic support in areas of mutual interest. An attempt at equity uptake from Global Emerging Markets from London failed. However in 1997 the efforts of the bankers were rewarded when the following organisations took up some equity, reducing the shareholding of executive directors as shown below: ïEUR Ipcorn 0.7%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund Mauritius P/L 1.1%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund P/L 0.7%. ïEUR Kingdom Employee Share Trust 5%, ïEUR Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund – 8% redeemable preference shares amounting to US$1,5m as the first investee company in Southern Africa from the US Fund initiated by US President Bill Clinton, ïEUR Weiland Investments, a company belonging to Mr Richard Muirimi, a long standing friend of Nigel and associate in the fund management business took up 1.7%, Garmony Investments 71.7% -executive directors. ïEUR After a rights issue Zimnat fell to 4.8% while FML went down to 14.3%.

In 1998, Kingdom launched four Unit Trusts which proved very popular with the market. Initially these products were focused at individual clients of the discount house as well as private portfolios of Kingdom Stockbroking. Aggressive marketing and awareness campaigns established the Kingdom Unit Trust as the most popular retail brand of the group. The Kingdom brand was thus born.

Acquisition of Discount Company of Zimbabwe (DCZ)

After a spurt of organic growth, the Kingdom entrepreneurs decided to hasten the growth rate synergistically. They set out to acquire the oldest discount house in the country and the world, The Discount Company of Zimbabwe, which was a listed entity. With this acquisition Kingdom would acquire critical competences as well as achieve the much coveted ZSE listing inexpensively through a reverse listing. Initial efforts at a negotiated merger with DCZ were rebuffed by its executives who could not countenance a forty year old institution being swallowed up by a four year old business. The entrepreneurs were not deterred. Nigel approached his friend Greg Brackenridge at Stanbic to finance and effect the acquisition of the sixty percent shares which were in the hands of about ten shareholders, on behalf of Kingdom Financial Holdings but to be placed in the ownership of Stanbic Nominees. This strategy masked the identity of the acquirer. Claud Chonzi, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) GM and a friend to Lysias Sibanda (a Kingdom executive director), agreed to act as a front in the negotiations with the DCZ shareholders. NSSA is a well known institutional investor and hence these shareholders may have believed that they were dealing with an institutional investor. Once Kingdom controlled 60% of DCZ, it took over the company and reverse listed itself onto the Stock Exchange as Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited (KFHL). Because of the negative real interest rates, Kingdom successfully used debt finance to structure the acquisition. This acquisition and the subsequent listing gave the once despised young entrepreneurs confidence and credibility on the market.

Other Strategic Acquisitions

Within the same year Kingdom Merchant Bank acquired a strategic stake in CFX Bureau de Change owned by Sean Maloney as well as another stake in a greenfield microlending franchise, Pfihwa P/L. CFX was changed into KFX and used in most foreign currency trading activities. KFHL set as a strategic intention the acquisition of an additional 24.9% stake in CFX Holdings to safeguard the initial investment and ensure management control. This did not work out. Instead, Sean Maloney opted out and took over the failed Universal Merchant Bank licence to form CFX Merchant Bank. Although Kingdom executives contend that the alliance failed due to the abolition of bureau de change by government, it appears that Sean Maloney refused to give up control of the extra shareholding sought by Kingdom. It therefore would be reasonable that once Kingdom could not control KFX, a fall out ensued. The liquidation of this investment in 2002 resulted in a loss of Z$403 million on that investment. However this was manageable in light of the strong group profitability.

Pfihwa P/L financed the informal sector as a form of corporate social responsibility. However when the hyperinflationary environment and stringent regulatory environment encroached on the viability of the project, it was wound up in early 2004. Kingdom pursued its financing of the informal sector through MicroKing, which was established with international assistance. By 2002 MicroKing had eight branches located in the midst of, or near, micro-enterprise clusters.

In 2000, due to increased activity on the foreign currency front within the banking sector, Kingdom opened a private banking facility through the discount house to exploit revenue streams from this market. Following market trends, it engaged the insurance company AIG to enter the bancassurance market in 2003.

Meikles Strategic Alliance

In 1999 the entrepreneurial Chanakira on advice from his executives and the legendary corporate finance team from Barclays bank led by the affable Hugh Van Hoffen entered into a strategic alliance with Meikles Africa whereby it injected some Z$322 million into Kingdom for an equity shareholding of 25%. Interestingly, the deal nearly collapsed on pricing as Meikles only wanted to pay $250 million whilst KFHL valued themselves at Z$322 million which in real terms was the largest private sector deal done between an indigenous bank and a listed corporate. Nigel testifies that it was a walk through the incomplete Celebration Church site on the Saturday preceding the signing of the Meikles deal that led him to sign the deal which he saw as a means for him to sow a whopping seed into the church to boost the Building Fund. God was faithful! Kingdom’s share price shot up dramatically from $2,15 at the time he made the commitment to the Pastor all the way to $112,00 by the following October!

In return Kingdom acquired a powerful cash-rich shareholder that allowed it entrance into retail banking through an innovative in-store banking strategy. Meikles Africa opened its retail branches, namely TM Supermarkets, Clicks, Barbours, Medix Pharmacies and Greatermans, as distribution channels for Kingdom commercial bank or as account holders providing deposits and requiring banking services. This was a cheaper way of entering retail banking. It proved useful during the 2003 cash crisis because Meikles with its massive cash resources within its business units assisted Kingdom Bank, thus cushioning it from a liquidity crisis. The alliance also raised the reputation and credibility of Kingdom Bank and created an opportunity for Kingdom to finance Meikles Africa’s customers through the jointly owned Meikles Financial Services. Kingdom provided the funding for all lease and hire purchases from Meikles’ subsidiaries, thus driving sales for Meikles while providing easy lending opportunities for Kingdom. Meikles managed the relationship with the client.

Meikles Africa as a strategic shareholder assured Kingdom of success when recapitalisation was required and has enhanced Kingdom’s brand image. This strategic relationship has created powerful synergies for mutual benefit.

Commercial Banking

Exploiting the opportunities arising from the strategic relationship with Meikles Africa, Kingdom made its debut into retail banking in January 2001 with in-store branches at High Glen and Chitungwiza TM supermarkets. The target was principally the mass market. This rode on the strong brand Kingdom had created through the Unit Trusts. In-store banking offered low cost delivery channels with minimal investment in brick and mortar. By the end of 2001, thirteen branches were operational across the country. This followed a deliberate strategy for aggressive roll-out of the branches with two flagship branches ïEUR­ïEUR one in Bulawayo and the other in Harare. There was a huge emphasis on an IT driven strategy with significant cross-selling between the commercial bank and other SBUs.

However, it was further discovered that there was a market for the upmarket clients and hence Crown banking outlets were established to diversify the target market. In 2004, after closing three in-store branches in a rationalization exercise, there were 16 in-store branches and 9 Crown banking outlets.

The entrance into commercial banking was probably held at the wrong time, considering the imminent changes in the banking industry. Commercial banking does provide cheap deposits, however at the price of huge staff costs and human resource management complications. Nigel concedes that, with hindsight, this could have been delayed or done at a slower pace. However, the need for increased market share in a fiercely competitive industry necessitated this. Another reason for persisting with the commercial banking project was that of prior agreements with Meikles Africa. It is possible that Meikles Africa had been sold on the equity take-up deal on the back of promises to engage in in-store banking, which would increase revenue for its subsidiaries.

Innovative Products and Services

KFHL continued its aggressive pursuit of product innovation. After the failure of the KFX project, CurrencyKing was established to continue the work. However this was abolished in November 2002 by government ministerial intervention when bureau de change were prohibited in an effort to stamp out parallel market foreign currency trading.

Sadly this governmental decision was misguided for not only did it fail to banish foreign currency parallel trading but it drove underground, made it more lucrative and subsequently the government lost all control of the management of the exchange rate.

In October 2002, KFHL established Kingdom Leasing after being granted a finance house licence. Its mandate was to exploit opportunities to trade in financial leases, lease hire and short term financial products.

Regional Expansion

Around 2000 it became evident that the domestic market was highly competitive, with limited prospects of future growth. A decision was made to diversify revenue streams and reduce country risk through penetration into the regional markets. This strategy would exploit the proven competences in securities trading, asset management and corporate advisory services from a small capital base. Therefore the entrance had low risk in terms of capital injection. Considering the foreign exchange control limitations and shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe, this was a prudent strategy but not without its downside, as will be seen in the Botswana venture.

In 2001, KFHL acquired a 25.1% stake in a greenfield banking enterprise in Malawi, First Discount House Ltd. To safeguard its investment and ensure managerial control, an executive director and dealer were seconded to the Malawi venture while Nigel Chanakira chaired the Board. This investment has continued to grow and yield positive returns. As of July 2006 Kingdom had finally managed to up its stake from 25,1% to 40% in this investment and may ultimately control it to the point of seeking a conversion of the license to a commercial bank.

KFHL also took up a 25% equity stake in Investrust Merchant Bank Zambia. Franky Kufa was seconded to it as an executive director while Nigel took a seat on the Board.

KFHL had been promised an option to gain a controlling stake. However when the bank stabilized, the Zambian shareholders entered into some questionable transactions and were not prepared to allow KFHL to up it’s stake and so KFHL decided to pull out as relationships turned frosty. The Zambian Central Bank intervened with a promise to grant KFHL its own banking license. This did not materialize as the Zambian Central Bank exploited the banking crisis in Zimbabwe to deny KHFL a licence. A reasonable premium of Z$2.5 billion was obtained at disinvestment.

In Botswana, a subsidiary called Kingdom Bank Africa Ltd (KBAL) was established as an offshore bank in the International Finance Centre. KBAL was intended to spearhead and manage regional initiatives for Kingdom. It was headed by Mrs Irene Chamney, seconded by Lysias Sibanda with the concurrence of Nigel after managerial challenges in Zimbabwe. Two other senior executives were seconded there. She successfully set up the KBAL’s banking infrastructure and had good relations with the Botswana authorities.

However, the business model chosen of an offshore bank ahead of a domestic Botswana merchant bank license turned out to be the Achilles heel of the bank more so when the Zimbabwe banking crisis set in between 2003 and 2005. There were fundamental differences in how Mrs Chamney and Chanakira saw the bank surviving and going forward.

Ultimately, it was deemed prudent for Mrs. Chamney to leave the bank in 2005. In 2001 KFHL acquired the mandate as the sole distributor of the American Express card in the whole of Africa except for RSA. This was handled through KBAL. Kingdom Private Bank was transferred from the discount house to become a subsidiary of KBAL due to the prevailing regulatory environment in Zimbabwe.

In 2004 KBAL was temporarily placed under curatorship due to undercapitalisation. At this stage the parent company had regulatory constraints that prevented foreign currency capital injection.

A solution was found in the sourcing of local partners and the transfer of US$1 million previously realised from the proceeds of the Investrust liquidation to Botswana. Nigel Chanakira took a more active management role in KBAL because of its huge strategic significance to the future of KFHL. Currently efforts are underway to acquire a local commercial bank licence in Botswana as well. Once this is acquired there are two possible scenarios, namely maintaining both licences or giving up the offshore licence.

The interviewees were divided in their opinion on this. However in my view, judging from the stakeholder power involved, KFHL is likely to give up the off shore banking licence and use the local Kingdom Bank Botswana (Pula Bank) licence for regional and domestic expansion.

Human Resources

The staff complement grew from the initial 23 in 1995 to more than 947 by 2003. The growth was consistent with the growing institution. It exploded, especially during the launch and expansion of the commercial bank. Kingdom from inception had a strong human resourcing strategy which entailed significant training both internally and externally. Before the foreign currency crisis, employees were sent for training in such countries as RSA, Sweden, India and the USA. In the person of Faith Ntabeni Bhebhe, Kingdom had an energetic HR driver who created powerful HR systems for the emerging behemoth.

As a sign of its commitment to building the human resource capability, in 1998 Kingdom Financial Services entered a management agreement with Holland based AMSCO for the provision of seasoned bankers. Through this strategic alliance Kingdom strengthened its skills base and increased opportunities for skills transfer to locals. This helped the entrepreneurial bankers create a solid managerial system for the bank while the seasoned bankers from Holland compensated for the youthfulness of the emerging bankers. What a foresight!

In-house self-paced interactive learning, team building exercises and mentoring were all part of the learning menu targeted at developing the human resource capacity of the group. Work and job profiling was introduced to best match employees to suitable posts. Career path and succession planning were embraced. Kingdom was the first entrepreneurial bank to have smooth unforced CEO transitions. The founding CEO passed on the baton to Lysias Sibanda in 1999 as he stepped into the role of Group CEO and board deputy chair. His role was now to pursue and spearhead global and regional niche financial markets. A few years later there was another change of the guard as

Franky Kufa stepped in as Group CEO to replace Sibanda, who resigned on medical grounds. One could argue that these smooth transitions were due to the fact that the baton was passing to founding directors.

With the explosive growth in staff complement due to the commercial bank project, culture issues emerged. Consequently, KFHL engaged in an enculturation programme resulting in a culture revolution dubbed “Team Kingdom”. This culture had to be reinforced due to dilutions through significant mergers and acquisitions, significant staff turnover because of increased competition, emigration to greener pastures and the age profile of the staff increased the risk of high mobility and fraudulent activities in collusion with members of the public. Culture changes are difficult to effect and their effectiveness even harder to assess.

In 2004, with a high staff turnover of around 14%, a compensation strategy that ring fenced critical skills like IT and treasury was implemented. Due to the low margins and the financial stress experienced in 2004, KFHL lost more than 341 staff members due to retrenchment, natural attrition and emigration. This was acceptable as profitability fell while staff costs soared. At this stage, staff costs accounted for 58% of all expenses.

Despite the impressive growth, the financial performance when inflation adjusted was mediocre. Actually a loss position was reported in 2004. This growth was severely compromised by the hyperinflationary conditions and the restrictive regulatory environment.

Conclusion

This article shows the determination of entrepreneurs to push through to the realisation of their dreams despite significant odds. In a subsequent article we will tackle the challenges faced by Nigel Chanakira in solidifying his investments.

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What’s the Hype With Coin Collecting? It’s Fun

If you are ever wondering what the hype is about with coin collecting then this is the article for you. Coin collecting is a great hobby. It also turns into a business for some. Any variation from a coin that is in regular circulation is collectable. Some of the coins include Quarters and Dimes before 1965. They are made of 90% silver. An easy and very fast way to check for these coins in your wallet or from a bank coin roll is to just look at the side of the coins. If the side is all silver with no copper showing, then it is a silver coin. Be careful with nickels however, because only the 1942 to 1945 nickels are silver. They are 35% silver and checking the sides will not work because they do not have enough copper in them to begin with.

1944 Steal Penny

One of the best finds you could get would be a 1944 steal penny. These penny's are worth between $ 100,000 and $ 200,000. The same is true for the copper 1945 penny. The reason for this is because copper was used for the war to make bullets. They used steal for pennies during 1945 so they are supposedly to be steel. If they are copper when you find a 1945 penny then you have a very rare wheat penny worth a lot of money.

You can use the silver side trick for half dollars as well. Older half dollars are ninety percent silver and semi old Kennedy Half dollars are 30% silver.

You can also go on eBay or coin websites like heritage auctions.com. You can get US coins, International Coins, ancient coins, and more. When you bid on a coin in an auction site. Be sure to make sure that the coin is in at least fine condition. You do not want a coin that is in bad condition because it makes the coin worth less.

Coin Roll Hunting

If you really want something cool to get added to, try going to your local bank. Go to the bank where your checking account is. Ask for rolls of coins! I usually ask for a box of pennies, which is $ 25 worth of pennies or 50 rolls. I also ask for a few dime and nickel rolls. What you'll find will always be a ton of fun. I collect wheat pennies which I find in every other roll usually, Indian Head pennies which in great condition are worth at least $ 10 especially if the word "Liberty" on the headdress band is clear. The 1906 S Indian Head Penny is worth $ 600! It is rare. I've found buffalo nickels which when the dates are legitimate are worth $ 2.00 at least. I found Mercury dimes which show a winged liberty bust of lady liberty and are silver. Also, silver war nickels. Taking out a quarter roll is fun too. You'll find a few silver ones now and then. A 1932 Silver quarter is worth good money. Happy coin hunting!

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Welding Jobs: Ideas You Can Use At Home To Make Money Welding (No Boss While You Make $100,000)

What if you could make $100,000 a year welding from home?

What if you could make even an extra $500 a month from home, using your current skills? If you are a welder with basic welding skills and you are between jobs or you are being under paid in your current job, it might be worth your time to read this article – let’s think outside the box for just a minute on how you can make money welding from home.

From Home Welding # 1:

Teaching or tutoring any skill is a very profitable business. In any town of any size you’ll see at least one tutoring business in a strip mall brick and mortar location. In that same town will be at least a dozen other tutors working from home, making good money.

Yes, most of the time they are tutoring math and reading to students. Lean back and think about what skills you have that can also be used in a tutoring business you can set up and milk cash from, like milk from a cow.

Let’s say you are good enough with TIG to weld razor blades or pop can butts.

If you can teach a non welder to operate a TIG torch good enough to go on and practice on their own at their home in about 3 hours of your hands on theirs – they will pay up to $100 an hour for 3 hours of TIG instruction. Just 2 students a day would bring you $100,000 a year. If you think I’m kidding I’m NOT! There are many reasons why education is so valuable – and that includes intense, focused tutoring in welding.

6G pipe welding is the highest paid of all welding certifications – most 6G welders make $100k to $300k a year – and demand is crazy. However, if you are a 6G welder and you want to stay home, you can set up and teach 6G in your garage. Let’s say you do this with 7 students, each paying you $10,000 for a 3 month course. Yes, they will pay it – especially if you show them how they will have more time with your hand on theirs (the #1 secret to learning 6G fast).

From Home Welding # 2:

I was in Palm Springs the other day. I have been in and around the trades for 30 years… and when you see a tradesman’s truck and it is late model without dents or many scratches, clean, organized and well equipped, it means (99% of the time) that guy is making money.

I pulled up to a light behind just such a truck – “Joe’s BBQ Service and Repair.” That’s it – that is all Joe does. He will weld cast aluminum or steel. He’ll clean and polish. He’ll replace a burner or a control. OR he’ll buy your old unit and sell / or sell you a new one.

Yes, you need a town with a lot of high end BBQs. Other than that, go get it.

From Home Welding # 3:

Large steel cut outs. In art of all kinds, size matters. For example, 20 years ago we purchased two 4′ long coat racks – each is a piece of 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 1/8″ angle 4′ long with 6 horse shoes welded to the angle to hang the coats.

On the horizontal surface of the angle is welded a scene made of 7 horse and 7 tree cut-outs. We paid $185 for each of these 20 years ago… that would be about $300 a piece in today’s dollars.

The problem with you making these is that the 14 cut outs on each unit are too small too many to cut by hand – you need a computerized plasma table to make these.

Here is where the magic of size makes all the difference.

The artist who drew the cut outs on our coat rack was good. Each of the 7 horses is different and beautiful, as well as the trees. Any – or all of these – cut outs can be scaled up with chalk onto a sheet of say 4′ x 8′ x 3/16″ steel. Now, all you need is a plasma or an oxy torch to create the large version.

What would a horse cut from a 4′ x 8′ sheet sell for?

$300 to $700. It would depend on where you are and how you market it. Marketing is a large part of any business. Good marketing is not hard – you can do it.

You can see, if you could get a “business pipe” full of inventory and sales and you were delivering 2 horses a day, you could easily make $100k. The other major opportunity with big cut outs is gates. The key to all of this stuff in the art category is beautiful line drawings. If you are not an artist, hire one on the condition that they sign the copyright to you.

There are endless ideas to utilize even your most basic welding skills from home to make an excellent living or just extra money. The trick is:

Step A:

Find what will work best for you.

Step B:

Write out a simple plan of attack. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Many small businesses fail because the owner gets all wrapped up in the details and loses site of what is important. Here is what is important: Don’t spend money – MAKE MONEY!

Step C:

The first rule of business is to GET NOTICED. That is also the end goal of all marketing – once you have enough eyeballs on you, you will succeed. The common mistake is to leave marketing for last while concentrating on every little rule and piece of paper. A business license will do you no good if you don’t make money! Save your money and get it (if you really need one) when you make some money. Towns and cities will simply say, “do you have a business license?” When they ask, say: “I’m getting one now.”

Conclusion:

You are blessed to live in a country where you can go from nothing to something in a hurry. However, to get anywhere in a hurry requires running hard. You’ll never regret it.

What should you do next?

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VT Nonprofit Lender Mulls Life After End of Student Loan Program

The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) was established in 1965 as a public nonprofit agency designed to oversee the issuing of federal education loans to Vermont students. But with the sweeping reforms to the federal student loan program that were passed in 2009, bundled in with the national health care reform bill, VSAC and agencies like it were stripped of their ability to originate new federal education loans.

As of July 1, 2010, all federal parent and college loans are now provided to borrowers directly by the U.S. Department of Education, and VSAC is now facing a staff reduction of nearly two-thirds as it tries to find ways to survive in the age of the Federal Direct Student Loan Program.

The agency had been a lender in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), which was discontinued as part of the federal college loan reforms. As part of its lending functions under the FFEL program, VSAC acted as both a lender and servicer of federal college loans.

Under the new world order, with FFELP disbanded, VSAC can still manage (i.e., “service”) all the college loans it had issued in the past, but the agency is no longer able to issue new loans.

Revenues from the repayment of issued loans were used to fund new student loans as well as ongoing financial aid and student loan education programs, so the agency faces a revenue reduction of about 90 percent as its existing loans are repaid.

VSAC still issues a small number of private student loans, non-federal loans funded by VSAC rather than by the Department of Education, but the agency is looking for a new role with the Direct Loan program.

VSAC recently submitted a proposal to the Education Department to service more than the current statutory maximum of 100,000 federal education loans. Under the proposal, the agency is seeking permission to service the student loans of all Vermont students and all non-resident students enrolled at Vermont colleges and universities. Under the new Direct Loan program rules, only four organizations have been authorized so far by the Education Department to service more than the allotted 100,000 federal student loans.

Even if VSAC’s proposal is approved, however, the revenue from servicing the federal direct loans would bring in only a fraction of the revenue the agency once earned as a lender in the FFEL program.

VSAC is also asking the Vermont state legislature to help underwrite its administrative costs by allowing the agency to divert about 7 percent of its $21 million state appropriation from need-based grants and scholarships for students to the agency itself. VSAC is also asking legislators to allow its private student loan borrowers to deduct up to $500 of the interest on its private student loans from their state taxes.

The agency’s future role is unclear and is likely to remain that way until at least April, while it waits for a determination on the expanded servicing of federal college loans made through the Direct Loan program. The state legislature is likely to render a decision more quickly.

But even with its private student loan portfolio, a favorable decision on student loan servicing from Washington, and additional support from the Vermont legislature, VSAC will still need to reduce its budget by about 10 percent a year for the next three years in order to remain solvent.

The agency, which currently employs about 300 people, has already cut about 60 positions through attrition. If the added student loan servicing work doesn’t materialize and legislators don’t agree to support the agency’s administrative costs and financial aid counseling and outreach work, the agency will likely reduce its staff by an additional 200 positions before the start of the next fiscal year.

college loans

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Forex Robots – The Sales Copy Says Huge Profits But the Truth? Most Destroy Equity Quickly

Every forex robot promotes a track record of gains and yet well over 95% failure to deliver so here is the sales copy translated so you can find out the ones that will not make money and find the minority which do …

Here is the sales copy and translation

1. A track record of spectral gains

On paper yes, in real trading not at all. Try and find a track record which does not have the worlds "simulated" and in "hindsight" on it in the risk warning – a word from experience, you will have a long search. The track records you see of $ 100,000 a year are not real dollars there paper dollars done looking back with all the facts and price data to hand. The reality of trading forex though is you do not have that luxury of knowing the closing prices.

That's why you can get financial freedom for $ 100.00 or so – its not real life though!

2. A formula that occurs and re occurs for consistent gains

The formula works once on paper and never works again and the system takes a bath. The vendor simply bends the system to fit the data (a concept known as curve fitting) and curve fitting is always the death of a trading system in real time trading, as the data never replicates itself exactly again the system fails.

3. Designed By a Boffin

Usually an ex banker, mathematician or other boffin. Why does that ensure success? Trading systems that tend to work tend to be simple and being clever or having an education mean nothing in forex trading – its results and that's it and I know plenty of simple traders who make money and plenty of clever ones that do not.

4. Earn Money Without knowing anything

You can try and earn money but if the systems worked as the vendors say, ie there is no work involved, begs the question – Why bother selling the system, why not trade it and keep quite you could make yourself a millionaire or better and not worry about a few hundred bucks from a sale.

You do not get anything in life for nothing and it's the same in forex trading

5. You have nothing to lose

On the fee maybe not, on the account probably yes!

Demo accounts (unless you want to trade them for a long time) are no real use, as you need a year to judge a system and also there is no pressure, so its not a real trading experience and after reading this article why bother, you know the facts.

Forex robots sell in there thousands and very few work and most simply fail miserably in the market and its no wonder when they have never been traded. The hypothetical track record simply is not questioned by buyers – but why not? That's the acid test and keep in mind you cant spend paper money.

If you want to make money at forex trading understand, it's not easy and you do not achieve success with no effort.

You can make gains but you need to get a solid forex education, a simple system, that's robust, logical and you understand and can trade with discipline. You are then on the road to currency trading success.

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Online Forex Trading Tools – Understand the Various Options Available

Online forex trading tools are of great help to new forex traders. Even experienced traders often rely on some of these tools to confirm their trading decisions. Due to global connectivity and telecom revolution, forex trading is no longer restricted to large corporations alone. Retail investors too are entering the forex market in a big way with the intention of making money.

Forex market is the largest financial market in the world both in terms of size and volume of transactions handled. It can be risky to start trading forex on your own without any formal forex education or without the help of a reliable forex trading tool.

The major disadvantage of any online product is the possibility of it being a scam. It is very easy to make up false product performance statistics and post them on the Internet. Therefore beware of online scams. Ensure that you carry out proper research to establish the authenticity of information and claims made by the product developers online.

The various options available for you to choose your online forex trading tools are

1. Trading platforms of existing professional traders

A number of successful professional forex traders market their own trading systems online. Check out the reputation of the trader to begin with. If possible verify his / her background over phone with other traders known to you.  Being backed by an existing successful trader, such systems normally deliver whatever promised.

2. Expert advisor

Expert advisor is another online forex trading tool which is very reliable in analyzing charts and making automatic trading decisions. Automated forex trading robots are particularly useful to new forex traders. Robots are programmed to make trading decisions on its own without any human intervention.

3. Forex forums

By participating in popular forex forums, you can get a lot of information on online forex trading. With the help of these forums you can seek advice from experienced traders who are already making use of reliable online tools for trading forex. Information regarding new products launched is also exchanged amongst users of forex forums.

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Why Day Trading is Not a Risky Investment?

Day traders are people who buy and sell stocks of various companies all day long. There are mainly two types of day traders – scalpers and momentum traders, Scalpers buys and sells very quickly whereas momentum traders buy stock that is moving up or down during the day.

The main objective of day trader is to maximize profit with minimum risk. As an active day trader, I am sharing with you the benefits of earning within a single market day – and the potential challenges with day trading.

You perhaps warned by your friends, relatives or stock market consultants that day trading is risky. However, from my personal experience, I found it is no more risky than long-term investment in volatile stock or futures.

I would rather say investment in equity is always risky because of erratic and sometimes unpredictable nature of market forces. On the contrary, investments in banks allow money to grow at a small rate, while that rate is guaranteed, and the local government generally protects the money. However, you need to invest some portion of your capital in capital market for wealth building.

Let us examine why short term and long-term investment pose the same risk in terms of capital loss. We will consider a hypothetical scenario to explain the point.

Let’s assume you are a value investor and invested in a company A. On 25 th July’07, company A is opened at $27 in the morning, and then plummets to $24 within a few hours due to a large class action lawsuit being filed against them. If the company A goes to bankrupt because of said lawsuit, share of company A will fall drastically. In this situation, all kinds of share market investors will loose their capital because the stock is worthless now.

Even in the above case, day trader might protect their capital well because they are normally very cautious and open to all kinds of market news. Day trader mainly works based on market intelligence.

To be successful as day trader, you need to do many practices and most important you need to learn from your mistakes. You need to work with an experienced day trader, need to learn latest techniques, use latest stock market investment software and need to devise your own trading plan.

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Data Entry Online Jobs Without Investment

One of the most popular jobs that many people do nowdays is data entry online jobs. With this job, there are many people who have helped raise their family's income despite the global recession. It will give you the opportunity to have income while staying at home. The things that you need are a computer and a reliable internet connection. It does not matter what profession you are in as long as you know how to do some writing jobs and data entry.

These kinds of jobs are not always permanent jobs. Thus, the work does not come with benefits like health insurance, paid vacation and the like. When you work online, you are considered an independent contract worker. This means that you are a free agent. You will be hired based on a project and your contract will last until the project is finished. When the required job is done, it's time for you to find another job.

The pay for data entry job is based on per data sheet completed. The cost per sheet usually ranges from 10 to 20 cents. However, this varies heavily on the type of employer you have. It is expected that as data entry workers, you will also do some other tasks like data collection, change documents into new formats or edit images.

The most important thing when you try to work for online jobs is to watch out for scams. There are so many of them online (especially for data entry jobs) because lots of people are into them due to the fact that they are easier to do. Do your own research and find out the company's legitimacy before you give out personal information. Do not be fooled and unknowingly subject yourself to identity theft.

Be very suspicious when a prospective employer asks you for your financial information. Do not give out your credit card numbers or any forms of financial information when an employer asks you. This should be a red flag signaling you that the company is a hoax. Other scam propaganda requests you to send them a certain amount in exchange for a starter kit so that you may be able to start working for them. When you come across these frauds, run away from them.

It is important that in all your online jobs, you only get those legitimate ones so that you will not be taken advantage of. Check the name of the company first if they are genuine or not. Once you establish your work online, success is within your reach. Data entry jobs will no longer be your only option but you can also get a good position online. Keep looking.

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Fancy A Dream Home Get A Home Improvement Loan

Guess where most people spend their time well it's their home. No wonder that people would like it to be perfect. So would most of the people as well. A perfect home depends on how an individual wants it to be. Perfection varies from individual to the other.

Most people love their home that's why it should be perfect in fact it should be reflection of perfection. If you love your home as well than it should be as you want it to be not as it is. If that is the case with you and you want your home to be your paradise but you can not afford it then a home improvement loan can help you in your quest.

A home improvement loan is basically a loan offered to people who want to make major or minor changes to their home. The changes can be major or minor. Examples of the changes are

o Adding or renovations of new rooms

o Central heating

o Landscaping

o Adding of luxuries like fireplaces or swimming pool

o Plumbing roofing or safety repairs

It could be a minor change or a major change which can completely turn around your home. A home improvement loan offers you an opportunity to make that improvement to turn your home into a dream home.

There are various ways by which an individual can go for a home improvement loan.

Secured home improvement loan in this loan the borrower provides a security to the borrower. The security could be any thing either a car or any other asset of the borrower.

Home equity is another type of secured home improvement loan where the security provided by the borrower can only be his home for which the loan has been taken.

Home improvement is basically an equity loan where the security is essential for the borrowing of the loan. However if the loan amount is under £ 10000 then an unsecured home improvement loan can be borrowed. An unsecured home improvement loan does not require the borrower to provide any kind of collateral to lender. These loans therefore carry a little higher rate of interest (about 1% – 2%) then the secured loans. This is the result of lender covering up for his risk factor. The usual interest rate is around 11.4% (variable)

Everyone in this world has home even people with bad credit history,
People like, CCJ's, defaults, arrears, late payments or people who have previously filled for bankruptcy. A credit score is given to all UK people who have previously taken loans. A score of below 600 is the one which causes the bad credit history. A home improvement loan is now available to these people as well.

Applying for loans is easy all the people who want to get the home improvement loan need to do is go online and fill in their requirements after they have found themselves a lender. If approved they will get the loan very quickly.

There are other benefits of home improvement as well which many people do not know about.

o If you go for home improvement it increases the value of the home which helps the owners when the owner wants to sell the house. It often helps in getting a better deal for the home as a furnished home would fetch a better price then an unfurnished one.

o For most people pride is the most important thing and a dream home would be the thing that provides that pride.

o For people with bad credit history it is an opportunity to improve their credit score if they follow the repayment plan as it should be

A home can be the best place to be once you come from your work if it is properly maintained. A poorly maintained house is no good to anyone so a home improvement is an absolute necessity. A home improvement loan is designed for people who are not financially capable of going for home improvement with several benefits by keeping the borrowers financial capabilities in mind.

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A Tour of Forex Trading Tools

In foreign exchange (forex) trading, brokerage companies offer their clients different types of tools to help them succeed. Also referred to as FX, foreign exchange markets are unique and complex. The brokerage company provides our clients with essential forex tools such as margin and pip calculators as well as a currency converter to ensure people trading in forex have a safe and secure trading experience.

Each of the brokerage company's FX tools has been specifically designed to enable customers to have the most efficient resources available, providing the most recent precise information. As a result, data streams and live prices are delivered to the broker's FX tools in real time. As a result, people trading are able to make informed trading transactions.

Calculating Margin
This FX calculator helps the person trading currency to decide on the selling price for currency pairs to attain the preferred profit margin. Depending on the specific tool provided, the trader would simply enter the trade size and select the currency pair in the preferred account currency.

Next, the person planning a trade would then enter the leakage necessary and click on the calculate button which, by design, generates the required selling price and gross margin.

Calculating Currency
The brokerage company currency converter is a simple FX tool to convert a set amount of one currency to another. It features twenty three different contexts.

The trader chooses the desired amount and the appropriate currency from the list provided. The prices are updated in real time by the brokerage company.

Next, the person trading should choose the currency that they want to convert. The next step is to use the calculate feature. The FX currency calculator then gives the value based upon the live market pricing.

Calculating Pip
A pip is the least change that can be made in a given exchange. The FX pip calculator provides the value per pip in the trader's account currency for all major currency pairs. All values ​​are based on real-time brokerage company currency rates.

A pip calculator can be an important tool in the preparation and creation of an assessment of forex trades.

The individual punches in the preferred trading amount in units, then chooses the desired currency pair. The trader then chooses the currency they wish to have the figure converted into.

Activating the calculation button obtains the pip value for the currency chosen using market prices from live forex trading.

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