The Hottest Perk of the Pandemic? Financial Wellness Tools

In the midst of the Great Resignation, with employers scrambling for ways to hang on to experienced staff, financial wellness programs might be an attractive addition to the benefits bag.

That was a key finding from PwC’s annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, which was conducted in January 2021 and released in April. Among those polled, 72 percent of workers who reported facing increased financial setbacks during the pandemic said they would be more attracted to another company that cared more about financial well-being than their current employer. About 57 percent of workers who hadn’t yet faced increased financial stress said the same thing.

Financial stress doesn’t just affect worker retention; it also has an impact on productivity. PwC’s survey showed that 45 percent of workers experiencing financial setbacks have been distracted at work by their money problems. The menu of financial wellness tools employers might elect include educational tools for personal finances, one-on-one financial coaching, and even access to rainy day funds.

It’s a growing business sector, too. HoneyBee, a B2B financial wellness startup, recently closed a round of funding with $5.7 million in equity, TechCrunch reported. The financial technology company grew 225 percent during the pandemic and saw a 175 percent increase in usage for its on-demand financial therapy tools. Origin also recently announced that it raised $56 million in its Series B funding round, which it will use for customer expansion, as it saw increased demand for financial planning services during the pandemic, Business Wire notes.

Although one in five workers waits until they experience a financial setback to seek guidance, when they are offered continual support, employees are more likely to be proactive with their finances. According to the PwC survey, 88 percent of workers who are provided financial wellness services by their employers take advantage of them.

By Rebecca Deczynski, Staff reporter, Inc.@rebecca_decz

Source: The Hottest Perk of the Pandemic? Financial Wellness Tools | Inc.com

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Critics:

Making money is definitely the cornerstone of financial wellness and increasing your income can help you obtain your goals. You do not need to be a millionaire, but it’s important to obtain some level of income stability. Being financially well starts with having a reliable income and knowing at a consistent time, you will expect to be paid a certain amount. Steady and reliable income is one of the cornerstones of financial wellness.

Even if you don’t like budgeting or planning, it’s good to set goals for yourself. You are more likely to stick with it when you have goals to reach and can see progress. By creating a plan, you are visualizing the what, why, and how you will get there. If you don’t already have a household budget, grab your most recent bank statement and look at the total amount of money you have coming into your household each month. Then, factor in fixed, required expenses – things like rent or mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, and more.

f you do not have an emergency fund, now is the time to start building it. The goal of an emergency fund is to have available funds for when you are dealing with unemployment or you have an unforeseen cost. You won’t stress about the money because you have a nice cash reserve that you can access quickly. Finance experts often say that you should have at least three to six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund. If you have nothing in savings, putting away just $25, $50, or $100 a month is an amazing start. Ultimately, it’s what you feel comfortable with. You can also consider putting it in a high savings investment such as CIT Bank’s Savings Builder, which helps put your savings to work with very little risk.

Once you get a handle on your finances, you can start to map out life events and large purchases, so you can begin saving! Planning ahead is always helpful, and once you get a handle on your current financial plan, set some goals for what comes next. By building a plan, you have a road map to help guide you through the rest of your story. Putting even a small amount into savings on a consistent basis is one of the best ways to get your savings to grow so you can meet your goals, small or large. Set your own personal savings rule to live by and make a plan on how to achieve it. Prepare for life events and large purchases by planning ahead.

Your credit score is another critical part of your financial health. Things like late payments, too much debt or high balances negatively affect your credit score. Keep watch over your credit report and credit score with a free credit report from places like Credit Karma. A higher credit score tells banks and lenders that you’re a reliable and less risky borrower. 

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How to Reduce Tech-Related Stress for Customers and Employees

How to Reduce Tech-Related Stress for Customers and Employees

Your ability to become a successful company of the future depends on developing a cultural mindset that is focused on creating value for the people inside and outside the organization. The myth that technology drives digital transformation has been an ongoing fairy tale because while technology is an important factor, there is another element to the equation that creates a strong dependency on the first — the people.

Technology in most ways has a positive effect on business operations, especially in the automation of admin processes that come with communication with customers. While artificial intelligence is getting to know your customers by analyzing their wants and needs, it also means collecting huge amounts of customer insights. Some other digital tools such as chatbots are being used to interact with customers instead of a customer service agent and in some exceptional cases, this works just fine.

The belief that these digital tools can improve customer engagement like a miracle is just an illusion however, despite offering an effective and efficient way to speak to large audiences. The reality is that these technologies are greatly designed to replicate some sort of friendliness but are simply not able to offer the much-needed level of human connection customers need.

Covid-19 has been a wake-up call for businesses and has aggressively fast forwarded digital adoptions in working practices that most companies were not ready to take on. They were forced to send employees home who had to deal with the implementation and usage of new digital tools, something that should have progressively happened years ago.

According to research carried out by Mckinsey, it would have taken businesses more than a year to implement the level of remote working that was enforced as a result of the crisis. Despite the advantages of the nature of these digital technologies, the sudden change led to huge gaps of acceptance among the workforce and this is because employees have different needs, challenges and technical proficiency.

Employees and customers are often slow to adapt to new ways of doing things so now it’s time to ask yourself: What can I do to reduce the tech stress of my customers and employees and make their lives easier? I suggest two main things to consider:

1. Focus on the people.

Digitalization has many different positive aspects, but the more digital your business becomes the less human touch it can provide. Customers today expect more human interactions and less automated interactions. The role of new tech should make the life of your employees easier and ultimately highly complement their tasks so that they can focus on the emotional side of customer relationships.

The rush for easily monetizable consumer automated interactions makes it clear for customers that a brand is not authentically engaging with them. A Harvard Business Review study shows that companies are becoming increasingly impersonal by automating as many customer touchpoints as possible. In a highly digitalised world the human factor in customer experience gives your business a distinct competitive edge. The latest technology gets prioritised too often over authentic customer engagement.

First and foremost you should create an authentic and trusted customer relationship and then with the consent of your customers, use the technology available (predictive analytics and machine learning) to personalise the interactions with them. Not the other way around.

2. Reassess your digital initiatives.

As you’ve been experimenting with a huge number of virtual operations and interactions since before the pandemic started, you now have the opportunity to assess which technologies are extremely needed and which are not. The world of business is changing, some things will go back to previous ways, while others will remain changed forever.

You might think that using many different business tools to automate and improve processes will skyrocket productivity. However, switching between too many apps has some side effects such as lower productivity, higher costs and lack of collaboration in teams, to name a few. Developing a digital state of mind requires you to engage, educate and provide continuous support to your employees.

Low employee stress levels and making sure their experience remains positive throughout are as important as deciding which new technology to adopt. Digital transformation should have your people at the core because your people will be those who will make a successful transformation happen.

As I’m writing my book on customer-centricity, I find it imperative that companies find the right balance between the use of technology and human interactions. The challenge of the future is not whether artificial intelligence will replace people’s jobs but rather how to create a business culture in which technology and employees are able to walk hand-in-hand to provide human-driven customer experiences.

Ilenia Vidili

 

By: Ilenia Vidili / Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

 

Source: How to Reduce Tech-Related Stress for Customers and Employees

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Decentralized Finance Is on The Rise What You Need To Know in 2021

Few had heard much about decentralized finance (DeFi) in its early days in late 2017 and late 2019, beyond murmurs about Bitcoin and a mysterious new digital technology called blockchain

But a pandemic can change everything. 

Since May of this year, the total value locked (TVL)—the amount of any currency locked into tokens, the vehicle of holding and moving assets on blockchain, in smart contracts on a blockchain ecosystem—in decentralized finance projects rose a whopping 2,000 percent, according to DeFi Pulse. Many investors would be hard-pressed to find such an astronomical rise of any assets or expansion of any financial ecosystem, but DeFi app developers seemed to find success. So what’s the rage, and why does it matter going into the new year? 

What is DeFi?

DeFi, many fintech leaders argue, is the world’s answer to the 2008 financial crisis. Thanks to poor decision making and a lack of proper financial regulation, legacy financial institutions brought the world’s economy to its knees in the most major financial crisis since the Great Depression. The knee-jerk reaction was to create an ecosystem dependent on every link in the chain, rather than centralized authorities—hence the term “decentralized finance.”

The concept of blockchain, a decentralized ledger, was designed to ensure financial transactions would be transparent. Moreover, transaction approval would come from network individuals incentivized to approve them by solving complex mathematical equations or by network consensus voting. 

Later, the idea of operating a decentralized financial system on a decentralized ledger, independent of legacy institutions, grew into a thriving, albeit relatively small, ecosystem. Now, users can find financial services on the distributed ledger for loans, insurance, margin trading, exchanges, and yield farming (yielding rewards from staking digital assets on a network to help facilitate network liquidity).

But there is still a way to go. Not enough consumers are comfortable with DeFi quite yet, because platform accessibility and blockchain tribalism remain a problem. Nevertheless, now the world is experiencing another economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and DeFi is finally getting its day in the sun.

Related: Getting Drawn Into DeFi? Here Are Three Major Considerations

E-wallets are leveling up

For companies and individuals already active in the space, navigating the ecosystem remains impeded by technical limitations. In order to access certain markets and execute transactions on the blockchain—whether it’s borrowing or lending, staking assets in liquidity pools, or trading on an exchange—users need to own an e-wallet that’s properly connected to the ecosystem. 

E-wallets are the backbone of transactions on blockchain. Just as the digital assets they help transact and store, these wallets are secure, transparent, and easily accessible to users. At least, that’s the idea behind them, though there are various degrees of security and transparency. For DeFi to attract more users, the wallets must be compatible with multiple blockchains running financial dApps (decentralized apps that operate on a blockchain system). One of the first wallets, created by Ethereum and called “MyEtherWallet” (MEW), lacked a user-friendly interface and was challenging to grasp for people outside the hardcore crypto crowd.

Since then, a number of blockchain developers have created alternative e-wallet solutions. Most recently, Spielworks, a blockchain gaming startup, reached an agreement with Equilibrium and DeFiBox to integrate its e-wallet “Wombat,” which is currently available on the Telos and EOS blockchain mainnet (a blockchain network that is fully developed, deployed, and operational).

The Wombat wallet provides users with access to several DeFi platforms that offer token exchanges, yield farming, borrowing, and lending. Wombat recently also integrated with Bitfinex’s new EOS exchange, Eosfinex, as well as 8 other DeFi networks. Rather impressively, the wallet also offers free and fast account creation, automatic key backup, and free blockchain resources. 

Related: Cryptocurrency Innovators Need to Simplify User Experience

Developments in blockchain wallets, such as Wombat’s, will be pivotal in the next few years in the growth of DeFi applications and the movement of users toward decentralized finance and away from traditional finance. While wallets are important, so are the underlying mechanisms to piece the entire ecosystem together, because one a DeFi ecosystem is not enough if confined to just one blockchain mainnet.

Piecing it all together

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” President Lincoln’s famous quote referred to the Civil War that ravaged the United States at the time, but his historically renowned words can apply very well to the blockchain community today. 

For DeFi to reach its maximum potential, as a decentralized ecosystem that doesn’t answer to a central authority, blockchain platforms must stand united and interoperate. Could anyone imagine if payment transfers between regular banks were not possible? How could an economy function? This is the sort of technical problem plaguing the DeFi world: Each blockchain platform has its own benefits, but each remains largely separated from the others in its own silo. The root of the problem is attitude, the other part is technical limitations.

Related: 15 Crazy and Surprising Ways People Are Using Blockchain

Ethereum and EOS are primary examples of this sort of rivalry, both of which have their own technical benefits for dApp developers. If the two ecosystems could be connected to one another, EOS-based and Ethereum-based developers alike, for example, could benefit from each other’s platform’s strengths. Users could also benefit, via financial opportunities without having to sacrifice shifting their base from one blockchain to another.

This is precisely what LiquidApps’s latest development—its DAPP Network bridging—has solved. LiquidApps’s technology provides the technical mechanisms to connect separate blockchain mainnets and recently provided its tools to EOS-based developers to successfully deploy a bridge between EOS and Ethereum.

This was shortly followed by decentralized social media app Yup’s deployment that demonstrated the possibility of moving tokens easily between different once-separate blockchain mainnets. It still remains to be seen how long it will take before blockchain platforms themselves integrate built-in cross-chain technologies, but LiquidApps is starting the next crucial step to DeFi development.

Whether it’s cross-chain technology or the e-wallets that grant access to dApps, tech developments and attitudes in the DeFi space over the next few years will determine its success. The latest developments suggest the future of DeFi looks promising. Time to go decentralized.

By: Ariel Shapira Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

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Paris Fintech Forum

by O. Bussmann, CEO, Bussmann Advisory (CH) Speakers *M. Froehler, CEO, Morpher (AT) *H. Gebbing, Managing Director, Finoa (DE) *U. Shtybel, Vice president, HighCastle (UK) *N. Filali, Head of Blockchain Program, Caisse des Dépôts (FR) more on http://www.parisfintechforum.com/videos2020

99Bitcoins

Start trading Bitcoin and cryptocurrency here: http://bit.ly/2Vptr2X DeFi applications – https://defipulse.com/defi-list/ DeFi is becoming more and more popular as the main use case for cryptocurrencies. This video explains in detail what DeFi is and what you should know about before getting involved. 0:38 Bitcoin and Our Financial System 1:24 Our Centralized Financial System 1:59 What is DeFi? 2:22 DeFi Components 4:16 – DAI explained 5:51 – DEXs explained 6:33 – Decentralized money markets 8:06 Money Legos 8:56 DeFi Advantages and Risks 10:02 Conclusion For the complete text guide visit: https://bit.ly/2R35g6Z Join our 7-day Bitcoin crash course absolutely free: http://bit.ly/2pB4X5B Learn ANYTHING about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies on our YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/2BVbxeF Get the latest news and prices on your phone: iOS – https://apple.co/2yf02LJ Android – http://bit.ly/2NrMVw2

Implementing These 2 Strategies Can Help Entrepreneurs Reduce Financial Stress

When you think about the sheer number of components it takes to build a business, your mind starts to race. There are the structural elements, such as the type of business, products and services, the marketing, client fulfillment and more.

As an entrepreneur, your focus might tend to be on what you need the most right now. An informal poll of entrepreneurs would probably point toward a discussion of prospecting and closing new business. It would center around getting more sales and the filling of pipelines. 

While the here-and-now are essential, successful entrepreneurs think strategically. They focus on long-term moves they can make, because they understand that’s the most powerful way to scale a business.

Related: 5 Personal-Finance Habits of Wealthy Entrepreneurs

Improve your relationship with money.

Too many of us start our adult life having to figure it out when it comes to money and wealth creation. The beginning years of adulthood tend to leave marks, and we carry those into entrepreneurship. This can mean pricing what we offer lower than the value we provide. It often manifests in taking on clients that an entrepreneur knows will not be a good fit, or failing to think about money as something that provides freedom. 

Finances don’t have to be a constant source of stress if you understand their purpose. You don’t have to compromise on what you offer for consumers that aren’t your ideal client. The stats tell us that there were 4.3 billion internet users, 5.1 billion mobile users, 3.4 billion social media users daily, according to We Are Social. That means we don’t lack opportunities to get new clients and build our business in this hyper-connected digital information age. The issue becomes how you show your ideal target client that you can help them.

Working on and creating a healthier relationship with money will reduce stress, beat fear and allow your mind to focus on what will bring in more revenue. Some things you can do are:

  • Educate yourself about finances through books, courses, videos and other forms of available content. 
  • Hire professionals who can help you organize your finances right now and plan for the future. 

Related: 5 Personal-Finance Mistakes That Kill Promising Companies

2. Plan for more than right now.

Many entrepreneurs choose this lifestyle because we would do what we love, even if it were for free. That is great, but it also sets us up to work in our business and not run it as a CEO. It creates a familiar situation where entrepreneurs aren’t planning for the future. 

You may want to work until your body and mind can no longer handle it, but you should have a financial plan in place that takes care of you and your family, whether or not you’re running your business. 

Financial planning for retirement is not a popular topic with entrepreneurs, but it’s one that needs to be addressed. Building a legacy is about more than accolades — it’s creating financial security through a business that aligns with your values.

Successful entrepreneurs plan strategically. Part of that planning includes setting aside money for emergencies, and using funds to build the kind of wealth that allows an entrepreneur to retire in comfort. This includes investments, assets, savings, and other financial management strategies. 

You don’t have to go through life feeling stressed, worried or unsure of finances and their impact on your business. You can create wealth that allows you the freedom to work, whether you want to or now. 

This starts with acknowledging your current beliefs around money and doing the work to make any necessary changes. We live in the information age, which means many solid resources that can bring clarity, help you plan and beat any fear. 

Plan for all possibilities and take control of your financial future. 

Beau Henderson

By: Beau Henderson – Entrepreneur Leadership Network / Writer CEO of RichLife Advisors

How Owners and Entrepreneurs Can Deal With Financial Stress

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Millions of Americans have been left unemployed over the past half-year and are subsequently struggling to cover their bills and keep a roof over their heads. And for business owners, the situation is even more precarious. Unfortunately, despite fewer (if any) customers coming through the doors, businesses still have overhead that needs to be covered. Even those able to move some operations online likely still have had to contend with rent, utility and insurance costs and other financial obligations.

Additionally, some businesses may be obliged to cover the costs of supplier contracts even though they may not be able to use the items. For example, according to Reuters, the international clothing store Primark has committed to pay its suppliers $461 million for orders, despite all of its stores closing their doors in March.

Even though there have been provisions for businesses to defer payments, once they start trading again, these payments will need to be made. All of this adds up to a massive amount of financial stress for any business.

Related: Currency Exchange Tips for Entrepreneurs

The Signs of Financial Stress

There are a number of signs of financial stress, and many of these have been exacerbated by economic shutdowns. These include:

Managing Other People Amid Financial Stress

In addition to dealing with the financial pressures, you will also need to ensure that you are managing your team. Whether you have had to furlough staff or have made arrangements for them to work from home, you will need to maintain a working relationship, so you can call them back once things start to return to normal.

There are a number of strategies to manage other people during this period of financial stress. These include:

How to Identify The Necessary Adjustments

There is no doubt this is a challenging time. In fact, according to the Business West Chamber of Commerce in the UK, just 16 percent of the businesses questioned believe they can cope should these circumstances last for more than six months. That’s why it’s crucial that you can identify the necessary adjustments you should perform. This should include:

Most SMEs appreciate that the market is never stagnant, so they are often prepared to make adjustments to plans. However, the current situation has highlighted the importance of identifying where you can make changes now.

Strategies to Deal With Financial Stress

Fortunately, there are some strategies to help you to deal with financial stress:

Related: Invest or Trade Cryptocurrency Without Identity Confirmation

Bottom Line

It seems like no business is immune to present economic conditions, as even global companies have lost a significant percentage of their turnover. According to Visual Capitalist data, the Disney Corporation has lost 31 percent in its value, while Delta Airlines has dropped from a value of $37.5 billion to $17.8 billion.

So it is crucial for SMEs to take action to deal with this financial stress and weather the current economic storm. There is no point in sticking your head in the sand. Now is the time to take an honest look at your business to work out where you can make changes to streamline your operation.

By: Baruch Silvermann– Entrepreneur, Investor, Analyst

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