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August 27, 2016

The 3 Keys to Landing Your First Accounting Job

business accountingGraduating from a prestigious educational institution with specialized certification in accountancy? You are all set to bag your first job in your field of interest—accounting.

Applying for that dream job might be a tedious process and waiting for a call back after an interview might take several months.

Here are three of the most important things you need to take care of so you can bag a job before your potential rivals.

1. Resume

The first—and sometimes only—thing that a HR manager looks at to decide if you are worth hiring is your resume and remember you have only 6 seconds to catch their attention. As a fresher with no experience, you might not have much on there. This means you need to figure out what content goes in your resume.

Choose an apt font and size that gives it a classic and clean-cut professional look. With some research, you can find good resume keywords online, including those that help catch the attention of the hiring committee. Avoid using capitalized, bold, and italicised terms in you bio, unless absolutely necessary.

Pick the perfect type of resume that allows you to highlight your skills and specializations. Chronological, functional, and combinational are three of the basic types of resumes among a list of many others.

Use catchy subtitles. Construct lines effectively. Do not write more than two lines for any description, and keep the language stylish yet simple. Watch carefully for grammatical errors.

Make sure you don’t go overboard with any of these tips. Your resume should portray effortless efficiency. Also, try to keep it within 2 pages.

2. Interview

Once your resume is selected, you’ll have to face the interview. Most people get nervous and anxious, and tend to mess up their interview despite their calibre and talent. This is mainly due to lack of preparation. Even though most interviewers expect you to be street-smart, a thorough knowledge in the field of your choice is also essential.

You are spoiled for choices when it comes to resources—be it online or offline—to help your prep for the interview. You can easily find blogs that give out frequently asked interview questions in a finance interview.

Apart from preparing for these questions and brushing up on your syllabi that was covered over the many semesters, you should also have a brief knowledge of software like ERP accounting software and business management software that are in trend, and are used by most organizations.

Knowledge about current affairs and the latest accounting standards is also an absolute necessity.

3. Confidence

To crack any interview, confidence is the most important factor. Your body language plays a significant role in cracking an interview. Even small signs of nervousness or uncertainty are caught during the interview. Stay confident right from when you send out your resume. The process might be a time-consuming one, but leads to success.

With some motivation, patience, and making smart choices while displaying your talents, landing your dream job is a piece of cake. Use these tips, and an accounting job is in the bag!

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August 10, 2016

Using an equity release calculator

calculating financeMany homeowners have a considerable amount of cash tied up in the equity of their homes – that is, the value of the amount of the home they own, less any outstanding mortgage or loan.

Not only is it possible to release that equity – to enjoy its present cash value – but more homeowners than ever before appear to be choosing to do so. This is a conclusion drawn in a story published in the Guardian newspaper on the 25th of January 2016.

During the course of 2015, a record 22,500 equity release agreements were made, representing a return to the nation’s homeowners of a total of some £1.61 billion.

How do I know if equity release is right for me?

Probably the single most informative source is an online equity release calculator. It might be the best step to gaining some idea of what equity there may be in your home that may be released, depending on the value of the property and your age (you need to be 55 or over to qualify for any equity release scheme).

Combine an equity release calculator with a comparison website which shows the various interest rates currently offered by equity release providers and you may get a pretty clear idea of whether to take things further. There is generally no limit on the number of times you may use the same calculator.

There are any number of such online calculators and it might be difficult knowing which one to choose. Some of the things to look out for when choosing one, therefore, might include:

  • how much equity you might be able to release, the interest rates governing the various schemes on offer and what the impact is likely to be upon your estate;
  • whether the provider is a member of the Equity Release Council – since this guarantees a certain number of safeguards built into any agreement; and
  • whether the site providing the calculator also offers a detailed guide on how equity release works and the arrangements that might be made to answer your queries and discuss your concerns directly with any provider.

Types of equity release

Using an equity release calculator is only the first step in what is invariably a complicated process, involving very serious decisions about the home in which you live, the funds it might unlock and the impact any agreement has on the estate you may pass on to your surviving dependents and relatives.

This makes it important that you seek the advice and guidance of a specialist in the provision of equity release agreements and embark on a learning curve that might lead to your understanding of the two principal vehicles for equity release:

  • home reversion – this involves the sale of a proportion of your home to the equity release provider, so that you become a co-owner, but may continue to live in the dwelling until your share of the property is sold upon your death or when you move into long-term care; or
  • lifetime mortgage – this is probably a more popular arrangement than home reversion and allows you to make a more reliable calculation of the costs involved. A lifetime mortgage is similar to a regular mortgage, but you make no repayments on the advance, which continues to attract interest in the normal way. The mortgage is repaid from the sale proceeds of the property when you die or move into long-term care.

The use of an equity release calculator may be enough to set you off on the road to unlocking some of the wealth tied up in your home.

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March 28, 2016

When is the correct time to begin investing in mutual funds?

mutual fund investmentsPicking mutual funds for investment is easier than picking the right time to invest in them. We give you five hints to help you choose.

Every investor knows that in order to make money, he must put the money he currently has to good use. Simply letting the money sit in the bank or investing it in such instruments as real estate and gold do not always yield the best results. Besides, if the investor has both short term and long term goals, he may need to look at mutual fund investment.

But despite wishing to invest in mutual funds in India, many factors can hold an investor back. In terms of mutual funds, ‘how’ is often not as important as ‘when’. Consider these five pointers to help yourself decide when to invest in mutual funds:

1 When you do your research.

You must be willing to put in hours of study on both the fund you are interested in and the fund house. Choosing the best mutual funds cannot be a snap decision, and it cannot be based on the current favourite in the market. The fund you purchase must offer the potential for growth that you seek to realise your short term and long term financial goals. Apart from the fund, you must select the right fund manager as well. Conducting due diligence is the crucial first step to investing in the best mutual funds in India.

2 Study the fund manager’s record over three years.

Investors are often tempted to see short term results of the fund manager they wish to work with. However, experts will tell you that any amount of time short of three years is too less to analyse the manager’s performance. Analyse his track record over three to five years and discuss the various strategies he has adopted over the years vis-à-vis market fluctuations and asset allocation.

3 Choose a manager with the same investment style as yours.

A fund manager is not a magician who can convert your mutual fund investment into piles of money. Nor is he a mathematician who follows provable theorems with predictable outcomes. A fund manager studies the markets and interprets them every day, and bases his decisions on his understanding and skill. The gains may be slow in coming in some cases, while another of his decisions can fetch a windfall. However, his investment style must align with yours, or there may be conflict in reaching your fiscal goals.

4 Pick the fund of the best available ones.

Studying market forces every day and picking the right mutual fund is important for the proper realisation of your financial goals. Most people tend to go with the popular choice, or expect a long term fund to generate constant growth in the short term. Discussing the fund’s growth with your manager regularly, reading reports by financial companies and looking up the workings of the best mutual funds relays valuable information.

5 Be certain that it is the best way to create wealth.

Investing in mutual funds is a matter of faith and being open to a little risk. Sometimes, all calculations can go awry and mutual funds may show extremely low returns. Hence, it is important to be convinced about the decision to invest in a mutual fund. Only when the investor is certain that they will give the best returns will the investor be confident about putting in his money in them.

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March 15, 2016

Why Women Need To Be Involved In Family Finances

financial planning for single motherIn 2005, I began working with a new client. She just got divorced after over 30 years of marriage. Like many women, she had been content to allow her husband to take care of their finances. However, circumstances changed. In her late 50s, this woman found herself in uncharted waters: managing significant financial matters with zero prior experience.

While insurance, investments and financial planning have traditionally been “a man’s game,” there are many statistics that predict a different story. Women are living significantly longer than men and are more likely to become widows. Like it or not, it’s imperative for women stay on top of all things financial, for themselves and their families.

There are many aspects to financial planning: savings, retirement, day-to-day expenses, student loans, college savings, estate management, building a comprehensive stock market portfolio, life insurance, and more! It can get overwhelming trying to keeping track of every aspect of your broad financial plan. Here are four tips to get started:

1) Make it fun. Financial planning is not something that brings an immediate smile to one’s face. Try to take the stress out of it by making your conversations fun. Plan a “date night” where you cook together and go over one aspect of the finances over dinner. Don’t try to go out: restaurants are wonderful for romance, but not great for private financial conversations. Whatever it is you enjoy, try to mix that in so you can associate something positive with this new learning adventure.

2) Don’t get defensive. Your goal is to become more educated and involved in your family’s finances. This doesn’t have to be a cause for alarm or fighting! Remind whoever is currently in charge that this is not a criticism of what they have been doing. You are not going to change things overnight or perhaps even at all, so do not start out on the defensive.

3) Start with cash flow. In terms of where to start, I recommend beginning with the basics: cash flow. Where are funds currently being spent and allocated? How are new expenses prioritized? This is a good time to analyze expenses both from a high level and then more detailed. We get busy with our daily lives and while a $100/year item may not be significant—how many of them are there? Those can really add up.

4) Meet and engage with your team. Do you personally know your CPA, attorney, and financial professionals? Start to build a relationship with them. Make sure you understand how they make decisions, how they bill, and how they can help you and your partner reach your goals.

Starting the process is half the battle,and there is no wrong answer when deciding which area to approach first. Remember that this is a team effort between you and your family, spouse, or partner, so don’t try to go it alone. By following these steps,I believe you will become more empowered to make smart financial decisions in good times and in bad.

Meghann McKenna is Owner & Financial Adviser at McKenna Financial in Bozeman MT, a family owned financial firm serving clients since 1949. She also is a Registered Representative offering securities through NYLIFE Securities LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC a Licensed Insurance Agency, and a Financial Adviser offering investment advisory services through Eagle Strategies LLC, a Registered Investment Adviser. McKenna Financial is not owned or operated by Eagle Strategies LLC or its affiliates. This article is offered for general information purposes only. It does not set forth solutions to individual situations. Consult your professional advisor(s) before implementing any planning strategies. SMRU 1683868 (exp. 2.18.2018)

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November 13, 2015

Why You Should Reevaluate Your Mutual Funds Each Year

mutual investment fundsOverview

Mutual funds are one of the best ways for people to enjoy a high rate of return over the long term. A mutual fund is generally a collection of stocks that are chosen by the fund manager. There are some fees associated with investing in a mutual fund, but generally the rate of return that is offered will offset the higher fees. One of the most important things for any investors to do is to reevaluate the mutual funds that are owned every year. Over the long term, this can be a great way to take a look at the overall strategy that is in place with your investments. Here are several reasons why this is so important.

Diversification

Having a diversified portfolio is one of the most important aspects of earning a solid return over time. There are many people who have too much of their portfolio invested in one type of mutual fund. Spreading out the capital that is invested in various mutual funds is a great way to diversify the funds that a person owns. Over the long term, a diversified portfolio generally has lower rates of risk than portfolios that are not diversified.

Better Selection

Over time, an investor can have a better selection of funds by looking at them every year. Although the past is the best way to gauge the future, there are some funds that have performed well in the past that are not performing well now. This would only be noticed by taking a hard look at the funds that are owned by a person. By taking an unbiased look, an investor can decide to reallocate his or her funds into different sectors of the market. This can make a huge difference over time in the rate of return that is offered by the investments.

Rate of Return

The rate of return that an investor earns on his or her portfolio is one of the most important metrics to follow. There are many different ways in which the rate of return can be increased. Always make sure that a portfolio is diversified over the long term. In addition, there is a correlation between risk and return. Younger investors can afford to take on a higher level of risk because they have more time to recover from the risk. This is important to keep in mind for those who are just starting out investing. By looking at all of your funds every year, this is a great opportunity to invest in those funds that will go up more in the future. Over the long term, this will help to boost the rate of return that is earned.

Final Thoughts

Mutual funds are a great way to have a diversified portfolio that has a proven track record of success. However, it is important to choose the correct mutual funds to invest in. There are many different sectors and funds for investors to choose from. One of the best ways to keep a portfolio working over time is to constantly reevaluate the investments that are made. This is one of the best things that any investor can do in order to have a high rate of return over the long term.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who focuses on personal finance and other money matters. She currently writes for Checkworks.com, a leading supplier of personal and business checks.

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