Sep 102014

While GICs bear certain similarities to other investment products like mutual funds, bonds, CDs, and time/term deposits, they remain distinct from other types of investment vehicles. So what is a GIC? A Guaranteed Investment Certificate is a financial product, usually presenting virtually no risk to the investor’s principle, with the potential for returns.

Minimum GIC investments usually start at $500. The money accrues interest for the period of time (usually 1 to 5 years) laid out in the GIC agreement. The key feature that makes GICs attractive to conservative investors is the principle protection. Even in the possible, but unlikely event of a bank collapse, the principle amount of a GIC held with that bank is still guaranteed by the government through CDIC insurance.

There are typically three types of GICs available to Canadian investors.

Regular GICs are set with a specific term and interest rate. This way the investor can be sure exactly how much money the account will be worth at any given time. Investors can often get access to their money and interest with 30 days notice, even if the agreed upon term has not run its course. But the investor may be motivated to let the account remain active until maturity if the interest rates increase annually, which is often the case with GICs, making the investment worth more as time goes by :)

14-09--rate-gic-graph gic

Interest linked GICs have better returns if the national Canadian interest rate increases. For periods of significant increase in interest rates, the investor can stand to profit substantially :) For periods with negative interest rate growth, the investor can cancel the account and reinvest the funds in a more fitting financial product.

Market Growth GICs behaves very similarly to index mutual funds, but without the risk of principle loss. Investors can invest their chosen principal at varied levels of risk in either the Canadian or United States indexes. Unlike standard mutual funds, the balance can never fall beneath the principle invested. Still other GICs can offer a guaranteed minimum return. Market growth GICs can also have maximum returns. Due of the rarity that this interest rate would be exceeded, most people don’t worry about it, but some may choose to put their money in other places, with no limits on growth :)

Most GICs today pay about 0.50% to 2.50% annual interest rate, depending on the duration. GICs aren’t for everyone. While there are more aggressive investment strategies with the potential for greater returns, the promise that the investor’s returns will never dip beneath a certain level gives GICs a fitting place in the portfolios of many investors.

Random Useless Fact:
The Volkwagen Group owns all of the following brands: Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Ducatti, Lamborghini, MAN, Porsche, Scania, SEAT, SKODA, and, of course, Volkswagen.

Jul 012014

The next time you’re sitting waiting for a bus or an elevator, take a look around you. Chances are the majority of the people you see are using a smartphone in one way or another. They may be making a phone call, browsing the Internet, checking email, sending a text, playing a video game, checking their bank account or any of the other hundreds of things a smartphone can do. The point is, they’re completely engrossed in what they’re doing and for the most part oblivious to the world around them. Pedestrians put themselves in danger all the time by walking off street corners while looking straight down at their phones. It’s enough to capture the attention of any business professional who will foam at the mouth thinking of the possibilities.

The Growing Smartphone Population

As these phones are designed to do more and more, smartphone sales are on the rise every day, and a population of children grow up in a world where they’ve never known a day without a pinch screen in front of them. When asked about their smartphones, according to The Huffington Post, over two-thirds of owners say they could not imagine life without their devices. Even though many of the smartphone users report that the most common task they use their phone for, other than making calls, is to check the weather, the phones are an essential part of modern culture. Businesses are tapping into this by providing even more apps and marketing ploys directed at the smartphone population. Any business without an edge to capture the attention of smartphone owners (more than half the people in the world) is going to fall severely behind. It’s all about knowing what the customers for a business use their phone for as well as what they prefer to do in their free time. This will allow any business to have the edge needed to succeed.

Having a Responsive Web Design is a Must

It used to be a lot simpler running a business when all you needed was something like the barcode printers Shopify sells and some good products to sell. These days, you need to have a website as well as an eCommerce solution to offer customers the solution they’re looking for when they’re trying to make a purchase. Of course, as the smartphone increases in popularity, businesses without a responsive design are going to fall behind. At its heart, a responsive design is a simple concept. Since practically every mobile device has a different resolution and screen size, according to Smashing Magazine, creating a one-size-fits-all site doesn’t make sense. Instead, it’s necessary to have a responsive design. With this, the website automatically adjusts to the size of the screen and the resolution it provides. Everything from graphics to navigation bars will alter slightly depending on how the page is being viewed. Even switching from landscape to portrait mode on your device causes the appearance of the website to alter slightly. The end goal is to provide all users the ability to see and interact with the website free of problems.

Providing Information and Marketing Where It Will Be Seen

As many as 57 percent of users say they would not recommend a company if it had a poor mobile site. This is a great example of the importance of creating material designed specifically for a smartphone. By targeting your audience where they spend a great deal of their time, you’re giving them something better to do with their time other than updating their Facebook status. Even though the average user spends more than 2 hours a day on a mobile phone, this doesn’t mean users want to spend all of that time looking at the materials you’re putting online. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. Utilize social media, the perfect vehicle for the smartphone, to provide information to your clients and they can learn while they stand waiting for the elevator.

Don’t Discount Marketing through Smartphone Apps

Businesses everywhere are starting to key into just how easy it is to market to individuals using free mobile games and text chat apps, according to Mobile Marketer. The developers of apps provide their apps for free and offer businesses the right to include banners on the pages. With the exploding frequency of ad-impressions for businesses utilizing this platform, it’s hard to ignore the possibilities available to you. This will require an upfront cost along the same lines as traditional marketing, but when you look at the numbers of people around the world utilizing these apps, the potential becomes staggering. Many of the developers have even incorporated tools in the apps whereby the location of the user is identified and the ads showing up on the platform are chosen based on what’s in that location. These are just a few of the ways that smartphones are changing the way the business world operates today, with even more changes on the horizon.



 Posted by at 11:49 pm
May 292014

If you are thinking about opening an online business, you may feel confused about the role of shopping cart applications and features in the e-commerce platform. You may have read that it was important and worth investing in, but may not know why. With the exponential growth of online stores, online shopping carts have become the cornerstone of a successful online business. This software may be the key to increased sales and higher conversion rates. This article explains why quality shopping cart features are essential to the health of your e-commerce venture.


How Do Online Shopping Cart Features Benefit Customers?

If you are an online customer rather than a seller, you may want to know how such applications can benefit your online shopping experience. explains that an online shopping cart acts a lot like a cart in a supermarket. Imagine yourself in a grocery store where there are no baskets or carts. If you have to buy food and other necessities for the entire week, you may have to collect a few items, check them out, then have to come back to the store and repeat the process a few more times. If there was no online shopping cart, customers would have to buy each item separately, which would be time consuming and inconvenient. Fortunately, shopping cart features enable you to choose several items, modify your order, and check them out all at once at the time of purchase. The shopping cart also plays the role of a cashier and automatically calculates your total and offers different methods of payment and shipping to choose from.

How Do Online Shopping Cart Features Benefit Sellers?

There are many benefits to using an online shopping cart for an online seller. Without an online shopping cart which has various features, you are without the ability to properly display your product and checkout the payments of your clients. Here are the main reasons why it is almost mandatory to use an online shopping cart for your online business to grow:

You Can Process Multiple Types of Payment

Payment processing features enable you to checkout purchases of customers using all major credit cards, echecks, money orders, PayPal, and other means of payment. In doing so, you are opening your business to a variety of clients, including those from out of the country. Such an application can help boost sales.

Giving You an Overview of Your Performance

Sometimes it is difficult for an online business owner to know exactly how the ecommerce venture is doing. Analytical online shopping features can help you know the numbers behind your online boutique. You can consult any type of data from the traffic on your website to your sales revenue per day, week, month or year, and compare it to competitors or to your sales at another time. You can also find out which product in your inventory sells the most, and which clients buy the most from you. Such data could not be used without the help of an online shopping cart. Similar options are also available for inventory and enable you to know when a specific item goes out of stock.

Delivery and Protection of Your Digital Products

If you are selling an online product or service, you will not have to worry about holding an inventory or delivering products to your clients. However, your content or services may be stolen or shared freely by fraudulent individuals. You also risk not being able to send the particular object to your customer quickly and efficiently after the purchase. Safety and data encryption features protect you from these risks. Such applications also ensure that your client’s payment data as well as your business information is safe from computer viruses and hackers.

Efficient Marketing Tools

If you don’t have time to market to your target audience and to each of your clients, most online shopping cart applications will do it for you. explains that you can set your online shopping cart to send automatic e-mails to your customers on a regular basis to tell them about seasonal sales or remind them about an abandoned cart. You can also create online discounts and enable customers to enter coupons code to lower their subtotal at the end of their purchase. Additionally, most online shopping carts offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools that will help your content be available to plenty of customers on search engine pages.

Peace of Mind about Your Business

Online shopping cart applications help you have a peace of mind about your online venture on a day-to-day basis. You may not have time to check on your business every single day, and finding out that one of the software you installed isn’t working may seriously impact the reputation and well-being of your venture. Some online shopping carts features are completely included in a hosted e-commerce platform, which means that a provider takes care of everything: the codes are already pre-written, templates are established and all you will need to do is enter in your product information. Such services also update your online shopping cart features for you. If you are a young online business owner, this may be the best option for you. Keep in mind that self-hosted as well as hosted shopping cart applications also have support systems you can call or email in case you have a problem or a question.

When thinking about opening an online store, online shopping carts don’t always come to mind. However, it is critical for the well-being of your e-commerce venture to find a high-quality, reliable online shopping cart application. Doing so may drive up your sales, help you with collecting your business data, take care of some basic marketing tasks, process your payments and even protect your online products and services. Such software also benefits your clients by helping them navigate through your site, create an order and easily purchase the items they are interested in. Online reviews and public forums are great resources to start looking for online shopping cart providers and identify the services that are best for your venture.


Apr 092014

Last Fall I made some bold predictions that low interest rates are staying until 2016, which will keep the housing market stable. I also suggested that investing in parts manufacturers like Magna International would be a profitable venture due to the consumer’s love for cars :D

Fast forward to today and it looks like events are unfolding thus far :) The Prime lending rate is still at 3%, unchanged from last year. Mortgage rates have not moved higher. Home prices have not corrected. And Magna International’s stock price is now 25% higher since last year’s post.

14-04-magnaint Low Interest Rates

Anyway, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently published their growth projections for countries in 2014. Canada’s economy is expected to grow at 2.3% this year, lower than that of the U.S. at 2.8%, and the U.K. at 2.9%.

So we must create a plan to make the best of this current economic situation, because if we fail to plan – then we plan to fail ;) The following image demonstrates the importance of planning ahead. Can you figure out what’s wrong with this sandwich?

14-04-sandwichmayo Low Interest Rates

Today I will make some more predictions :) I think the overnight lending rate in Canada, currently at 1%, will increase to 1.25% in 2015. And by 2018, it would only be at 1.75%. Since rates are going up so slowly I would continue to own instead of rent, because I think the national average real estate price will move higher in the next few years :D

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Apr 032014

The following is an article written by Scott, who works in financial services.

The world of finance is one of the most sophisticated markets of them all. Today’s consumers expect far more from a wide-range of financial institutions than they did in the past, and this means that services have to make use of cutting-edge techniques and technologies.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) oversees the workings of companies offering different financial products and services in the country. Under the auspices of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act, it has a wide remit for the administration and enforcement of all relevant federal laws and regulations.

As well as ensuring that companies comply with federal consumer protection measures for the protection of customers, the FCAC also promotes the adoption by financial institutions of methods designed to strengthen the financial literacy of Canadians.

Companies such as Amex Canada play an important role in moving the whole industry forward, whether by offering 24/7 Customer Service facilities to deal with concerns or ensuring swift solutions for customers who need replacement credit cards for whatever reason. However, there are many other areas which are also benefiting from innovative approaches.

Fraud protection

One of the most important ways in which financial services can protect customers is by offering up-to-date protection against fraud or unauthorized usage with bank accounts or credit cards. As long as reasonable care has been taken to protect account and PIN details, fraudulent charges are no longer anything to worry about.

Digital commerce

A great deal of the most cutting-edge innovation at work in the financial sector is actually done away from the limelight. The ever-expanding network of both Card Members and merchants around the world means that a truly global overview is needed to ensure that the newest technologies are implemented to enable transactions on new platforms across multiple channels.

Mobile payments are playing an ever-increasing role in day-to-day activities across the board and Canadian consumers and businesses are leading the way in the uptake of new systems.

Financial innovation

With major multinationals seeking to constantly improve financial services for their clients, demographic changes and aspirational attitudes means that new ways of accessing capital and offering personal financial management and savings tools are constantly coming onstream.

With official figures showing that real gross domestic product rose 0.5% in January, after a 0.5% decline in December followed five previous consecutive monthly increases, Canada’s Finance Services are certainly playing their part in moving the country’s overall economy forward.