What the most successful Unicorn start-ups can teach budding entrepreneurs

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As rare as the mythical creature, the unicorn, successful business ventures termed as “unicorn startups” that made it to the over-a-billion value have been emerging in the recent decade. Their success stories are indeed worth-remembering, especially for investors and aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make it big in their respected industry. For asset management and offshore financial services firms like LOM Financial, such ventures may be important components of a well-diversified portfolio.

So what are the factors that helped unicorn start-ups build their billion-dollar companies? What did they do differently? For one, despite the high rate of failures when starting a business in the U.S., unicorn companies were once made of fearless and talented teams that have the gut and the motivation to stay afloat even in the deadliest waves battering business industry.

More importantly, the most successful companies were disruptors in the existing markets and innovators of new and flourishing markets. While they have the skills and the right attitude to succeed, the advantages of technology were the irreplaceable ingredients that completed the formula.

Airbnb, a unicorn that is worth at least $38 billion today, is a good example of how disrupting the traditional and creating an innovative and more convenient alternative through the help of technology can make a huge difference.

For these unicorn companies, it’s not just about putting together the right team of skilled and driven individuals, but it’s also about establishing a company focused on one particular mission that will guide them through the first stages of their ventures.

Toutiao, a Chinese unicorn start-up is one of the highest-valued companies today, offering information and data analyses services derived from recommendations using Artificial Intelligence technology.

While a consumer-facing strategy has put some unicorn companies to where they are right now, there are other entry points that entrepreneurs can focus on. Twilio, for instance, targeted other disruptors in the niche market like Netflix, Uber, and Lyft, and offered B2B technology services that helped them land their own place on the pedestal.

What happens to household finances in the event of Fed rate hikes?

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Any changes in the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate can be directly felt by ordinary consumers, and its far-reaching consequences can, directly or indirectly, affect every aspect of your personal and household finances: from your student loan tab, your credit card, mortgage, your savings account, to even the prices you pay for your groceries.

Fed rate hikes can be troublesome for individual consumers, but it’s the only way for the government to counter inflation and most importantly, secure the rate to the neutral 3% or 3.5%. In this event, the value of money becomes more expensive and at the same time, scarcer.

It’s true that how Fed rate hike affects household finances is a cause of concern – even for savers with a debt burden, because of a Fed hike’s corresponding increase in the cost of debt. Credit card holders, in particular, are the most susceptible, with short-term borrowers that will carry the heavier burden of higher rates compared to their long-term counterparts. In other words, credit card holders that have fixed-rate interests won’t be immediately affected by the Fed rate increase.

Higher interest rates can also cause a corresponding yet indirect increase in adjustable-rate mortgages – even for homeowners with adjustable-rate home equity lines of credit. Existing fixed-rate mortgages, on the other hand, won’t feel the effect of fed rate hikes.

With all these concerns and real-life effects of the fed rate hikes, experts point out that if wages don’t rise as the implementation of these rate hikes mount, it’s just a matter of time until they can cause a broader economic slowdown.

Read up financial articles on LOM Financial’s official website for more information.

Overview: WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report of 2017-2018

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Every year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) releases the Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) with the primary purpose of ranking nations based on their economic potential and overall ability to offer prosperity to their citizens, boost productivity, use of resources, and investing potential, among others. The ranking is based on the Global Competitive Index, focusing on twelve specific pillars of competitiveness that accurately ranks a country’s potential for a sustainable economy.

The latest report reveals the three nations that ranked top among other participating countries around the world: Switzerland gaining the first spot, followed by the United States, while securing the third position is Singapore.  Ranking first is not new to the Swiss country, since they’ve been holding the same title for nine consecutive years.

Aside from the economic rankings which are what The Global Competitiveness Report is known for, the entire paper also includes additional chapters that discuss specific economic profiles of participating nations. Included in these chapters are recommendations, major findings, as well as informative analyses that will aid these countries to perform better in the future.

The index has been a trusted resource for measuring a country’s competitiveness. The results of these yearly reports also guide leaders to formulate new economic policies that can help change their country’s economic strategies for the better. For instance, some ASEAN nations like Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines were able to rise above their previous rankings. On the other hand, other countries like South Africa considered their dramatic 14-position drop a big wake up call to its leaders and policymakers to take action.

The GCR is also an important reference for many international investment companies, including Bermuda-based offshore portfolio management firm LOM Financial, to determine which economies—both developed and emerging—to tap into.

Emerging industries with innovations set to transform the future

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The world is changing and you’re one of the lucky few who are starting to benefit from the decades of hard work of scientists and innovators who dreamed of a future where science fiction can finally be transformed into a real-life scenario. Thanks to these industries, the current and future generations are will be looking at a brighter and a more convenient future:

Virtual Reality

From home entertainment, gaming, human resource, medicine, business, to even design and engineering, the virtual reality technology has found its home in everyone’s day to day activities. By 2020, the virtual reality industry and its ability to create a full-immersive multimedia environment to its users are projected to bring in over $15 billion in total economic impact globally, making it a potential component in many investment accounts, including offshore discretionary portfolios.

Self-driving Cars

Forget first about flying cars and hover pods, and welcome the emerging industries that focus on the development of autonomous vehicles. The largest car and technology companies in the world are on a dash to launch a fleet of the vehicles of the future – minus the human drivers. While there are still a lot of challenges that this emerging industry has to face, innovators and investors know that the long road ahead will be worth the drive.

Artificial Intelligence

Creating intelligent machines that can achieve the greatest feats in learning, problem-solving, computation and planning is the main goal of the AI industry. As an emerging sector in technology, it has gathered massive interests from all over the world, with its promise of totally changing how humans live and work without compromising productivity and efficiency. AI is also a supplement to another leading sector in technology, robotics. Combining both creates a future straight out of a science fiction movie – but safer and more human-friendly.

The power of China’s middle class and their role in the global economy

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The global market has been long dominated by Western consumers, especially spenders from the United States. However, experts are seeing some major changes in the world’s global spending and recent forecasts are putting one of Asia’s population giants and a particular social group on top of the pedestal: China and the nation’s middle class.

China is currently transitioning from an investment-based economy to a consumption-led economy and in the process, a powerful middle class begins to emerge – but how powerful is the Chinese middle class, exactly?

Consider these numbers: China has an approximately 790 million of urban population (based on 2016 data). Considering the current population growth trend, analysts estimate that come 2030, the same population in the country’s urbanized community will hit a billion.  So why are these statistics significant?

According to a recent study conducted by McKinsey & Company, a consulting firm, China’s urban population will be composed of 76% of the country’s middle class by 2022 – and it’s a record-breaking number that could disrupt the global economy.

Several industries can benefit from China’s rising middle class. For instance, their changing buying patterns and consumer behavior have proven to benefit global e-commerce, thanks to the availability and access to the biggest online shopping platforms from around the world.

Chinese consumers have also disrupted other sectors with their active spending and consumption of both goods and services, domestic and international. The travel industry, particularly, is a direct beneficiary of China’s growing middle class. In 2016 alone, they have brought in over 3.9 billion Yuan in tourism revenues. Dubbed as the “new global travelers,” this social group is the major driver of the country’s outbound as well as inbound tourist market.

As they thrive and become more financially powerful, the Middle Kingdom’s middle class may also venture into overseas businesses. This can include an array of startups, as well as offshore investments in the likes of Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, or Bahamas.


Understanding market volatility and how it can make you a better investor

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Fluctuations in the market and the instability of the numbers related to major stocks basically describe stock market volatility. When the market goes up on a certain day and suddenly goes down the following week only to go up again the week after is a perfect definition of this financial phenomenon that has continued to challenge investors for many decades. One important question to ask when trying to understand volatility is, what fuels it? What are the factors that cause the market to drop, to recover and drop again just like that?

Short-term market drops, for example, Is one of the drivers of a high volatility. History teaches us some of the best examples of the causes and effects of market volatility. For instance, during the turn of the century when the tech bubble finally collapses, the event caused a dramatic burst of volatility. Another example of a major volatility-stimulating circumstance is after the 9/11 attacks when fear and uncertainty loomed in the U.S.

Fear can be one of the most effective drivers of volatility and its influence on market insecurities can be fully observed in every financial crisis that the global economy experiences. Usually, investors and financial analysts can see a rise in volatility coming, because of the existence of volatility-related notes and funds.

The VIX (Cboe Volatility Index) for instance, is a well-known volatility index. The product, attached to the S&P 500 options, is dubbed as the “fear gauge” that measures market risk. The gauge is a useful indicator that helps investors make the best decision especially given the state of today’s global economy.

REPOST: Singapore tops quality of living index for expatriates in Asia

A healthy and conducive working environment is key to a successful career in almost any field. Especially for expatriates, such criterion is a crucial element to thrive. In Singapore, foreign workers enjoy one of the world’s highest living standards. Channel NewsAsia has the report:

FILE PHOTO: A view of the skyline of Singapore March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Woo Yiming/File Photo

Singapore retained its top position as the city with the highest quality of living in Asia for expatriates according to an annual Mercer index that was released on Tuesday (Mar 20).

Globally, Singapore ranked 25th, after cities like Vienna – that topped the list for the ninth year running – and Amsterdam, which was ranked 12th in the Mercer Quality of Living survey.

The findings are based on individual reports from each city that were largely analysed between September and November last year. The index is normally used to enable multinational companies and other organisations to compensate employees fairly when placing them on international assignments.

“An increasingly diverse workforce is both more mobile and digital with highly diverging requirements and aspirations in terms of career, lifestyle and ultimately where and how they want to work.

“Companies need to consider these factors in their value proposition to both their local and their expatriate employees,” said senior partner and president of Mercer’s career business, Ilya Bonic.

Singapore’s quality of living and infrastructure have consistently outperformed the other cities in Asia, even though the index shows that other Asian cities have seen an “exponential increase in living standards” due to a “rapidly expanding middle class and more affluent populations”.

Other Asian cities like Tokyo and Kobe tied at the 50th spot, and Shanghai came in at the 103rd spot. Singapore ranked higher than Hong Kong (71st), Seoul (79th) and Taipei (84th).

Shanghai had the highest increase in quality of living and its standard grew by 15.7 per cent. New Delhi and Guangzhou also showed significant increases at 13.8 per cent and 11.4 per cent respectively.

In Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur was ranked 85th, Bangkok was in the 132nd spot and Jakarta ranked 142nd.

Dubai ranked the highest for quality of living across the Middle East and Africa, while Vancouver took the top spot among the Americas.

The top five cities on Mercer’s index are Vienna, Zurich, Auckland, Munich and Vancouver.

In a separate index by Mercer, cities’ sanitation was also analysed as they are deemed to be “important aspects of a city’s attractiveness for both talent and businesses”, according to Mercer.

Honolulu topped the sanitation index globally and Singapore ranked 57th. Regionally in Asia, Singapore came in fourth place for sanitation after Japanese cities Kobe, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo.

Global Industries with the largest employment

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There are different companies emerging every day, contributing to an already dynamic international market and serving billions of customers around the globe. These activities do not only contribute their home country’s growing economy, but they also create more jobs and employment opportunities for people worldwide.

Here are the biggest international industries that boost the largest employment.

Sales and Retail Industry

The retail industry offers a huge range of employment from business posts, administration staff, finance and I.T. support, to sales and customer service. Every country has their own retail giants but other American companies like Walmart have surpassed the best and the brightest when it comes to retail chains. In the U.S. alone, it has over 2 million employees, and plus hundreds of thousands in their other locations in selected countries.

Fast Food Industry

According to a recent research, the value of the global fast food market could grow to up to $645 billion by 2020. McDonald’s, an international fast food chain, for instance, has 1.5 million employees from over 100 countries. In fact, it’s the second largest employer not just in the U.S. where it was founded but around the world.

Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry is the largest employer globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are approximately 9.2 million doctors, 19.4 million registered nurse and midwives, over 1.9 million dentists and staff, and almost 2.6 million pharmacists in the world. In addition, there are over 1.3 health workers across the globe. These staggering numbers of employees in the industry could grow in the near future as the baby boomers reach their golden years and enter retirement.


REPOST: Saudi Arabia bans expatriates from 12 job types

KSA’s unemployment rate surpassed 12 percent last year. In an attempt to grant locals more job opportunities in the private sector, the Saudi labour minister has banned expatriates from working in 12 key sectors, including sales. Read more on Al Jazeera:

The moves comes amid nationwide changes to revamp the economy by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [File: Amr Nabil/AP]

Saudi Arabia has banned the kingdom’s expatriates from working in 12 occupational domains, making them available to Saudi nationals only.

The decision by Minister of Labour Ali bin Nasser al-Ghafis will take effect starting September 2018, SPA news agency reported on Sunday.


The ministerial decree’s objective is to grant Saudi men and women more job opportunities in the private sector, SPA said.


Labour ministry spokesman Khalid Abalkhail, said the jobs were mostly in sales: sales in watches, eyewear, medical equipment and devices, electrical and electronic appliances, auto parts, building materials, automobiles, furniture stores, and more.


He also noted that a committee would be formed to facilitate the project.


The unemployment rate in Saudi Arabia surpassed 12 percent last year as the economy grappled with the fallout from low oil prices.


The move comes amid nationwide changes to revamp the economy by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


On Tuesday, a high-profile “anti-corruption purge” appeared to be winding down as Saudi authorities released all remaining detainees from the Ritz-Carlton hotel, after more than two months of detention on allegations of corruption.


Dozens of royal family members, ministers, and top businessmen were arrested in early November during an “anti-corruption crackdown” launched by Bin Salman. Allegations against those detained included money laundering, bribery and extorting officials.


Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said that the kingdom had seized more than $100bn in anti-corruption settlements.


The amount – 400bn Saudi riyals ($106.7bn) – represented various types of assets, including real estate, commercial entities, cash and more.


The government’s Vision 2030 plan to revitalise and diversify Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy has seen the kingdom introduce a value-added tax (VAT), which applies to a wide range of commodities, including food, clothes, entertainment, electronics, and utility bills.


Saudi Arabia also halted state payments of water and electricity bills for royal family members.

What first-time investors should know about Stock Market Indices

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Needless to say, learning the basics when it comes to investing in the stock market can make a huge difference, especially if your goal is to go big and all out in this financial venture. One of the things that new investors should pay attention to first is in understanding the definition of the stock market index and how knowing your way around it can help you make the most strategic investment decisions.

Basically, a stock market index is a statistical measure of performance for specific stock portfolios, representing a portion of the actual, overall market. Here are the things that you should know about today’s stock market indices.

  1. An index serves as a market performance tracker.

A stock market index provides investors and market participants with important and updated information about the performance of the entire stock market. For instance, a change in the price of a specific index reflects a corresponding change in the stocks belonging to the index.

  1. Stock indices can be constructed through different methods.

Global indices often use market capitalization weighted (also known market cap) method. Basically, this construction uses a company’s market cap to determine how much of the index it will cover. In other words, big companies mean larger weighting in the index. Another less popular but highly effective way to build a market index is the equal-weighted method. Here, market caps don’t matter, creating equal weighting for both large and small companies.

  1. Anyone can create a stock market index.

Since a stock market index is simply a list of stocks, anyone who has the right knowledge and expertise can create an index. The difficult part is, building the index’s reputation and competing among well-down indices such as the S&P 500 and the Dow.

For more about stock indices or stock investing in general (including offshore investing), consult with an expert at LOM Financial. Click HERE to know more.