By Seth Ward, Co-founder of PYNK
Even before Covid-19 began its global rampage, businesses, investors and traders were exploring new ways to deliver investment. Driven by environmental and social concerns, and sceptical of banks’ fees and integrity following the global financial crash, investors wanted more direct access to investments and businesses wanted to minimise transaction fees.
Following a slight wobble in 2008/9, global alternative investments began growing at seven times that of traditional asset classes, with a number of crowdfunding sites launched around the same time. Crowdfunding and alternative investment markets have continued to grow, reaching market caps of nearly £800m and £104bn, respectively, by the end of 2019.
Ever since coronavirus reached pandemic status, however, the markets have tumbled. Reduced or stopped trading has obliterated profits for the quarter while government bailouts are all that have been keeping some industries, such as airlines, afloat. Fortunately, activity is expected to rebound quickly, with the anticipated transaction value for crowdfunding in 2021 topping £818m.
A recent survey of PYNK members found that 38% predicted that the Dow had already reached its lowest point and 31% predicted that the lowest point would come before August. As such, 45% said that they think now is the best time to invest in startups, providing an opportunity to rapidly grow as the world exits lockdown.
How has coronavirus impacted the investment market?
Diversification of markets, investment vehicles and investors is, in general, good for the economy. More people have access to investments leading to a more diversified shareholder base. A diverse shareholder base means more reliable and robust financing ‒ no longer do businesses need to bend to the will of a single large investor or risk a run on their shares.
That being said, the coronavirus lockdown has made everything a bit weird and surreal. Now there are anecdotal reports of a 10-year-old struggling to play Fortnite as half his squad are off day trading on Robinhood.
However, trading platforms, like the crowd-led Robinhood, are creating large markets of unsophisticated investors. These investors are then having the wool pulled over their eyes by less-than-scrupulous CFOs, such as the recent case of Hertz.
The car rental company recently declared bankruptcy due to a rapid fall in revenues, yet then sold $1bn in equity to independent investment bank Jefferies who in-turn began selling it on Robinhood, effectively transferring that money from daytraders to impaired debtors.
This led to a jump of over 100% in Hertz share price after the company declared bankruptcy. That means those shares may end up worth 35 cents on the dollar or even completely worthless, with unsophisticated investors bearing the brunt of the losses.
Where will the future of investments and trading take us?
Clearly, in a world where 10-year-olds are taking long positions on bankrupt stock, some strange bubbles are going to appear. Traditional investment intelligence is struggling to adapt, adding more hot air to the bubbles. So how can traders be confident in their investments?
Our answer at PYNK is to turn to the power of AI and Crowd Wisdom. For some years now, AI has been heralded as the answer to accurate investment analysis. The ability of AI to identify patterns in large data sets makes it good at anticipating future events/movements and at making decisions.
AI has already been used to provide automated insights, alternative datasets, growth opportunities, improve risk performance, generate reports and much more besides. This makes information gathering and analysis much quicker and more accurate, yet it lacks the human element.
That’s why, at PYNK, we combine our AI algorithm with the power of crowd wisdom. The idea behind crowd wisdom came about in 1907 when a statistician named Francis Galton asked people to guess the weight of an ox. Galton found that, while individual guesses varied wildly, the median guess was within 1% of the ox’s actual weight.
Since then, statisticians have been finding ways to minimise participant bias and improve the accuracy of crowd wisdom. We incorporate our learning into our AI algorithm, using machine learning to improve results over time.
The results have been startling. One market we’ve been tracking the longest ‒ Bitcoin ‒ is notoriously unreliable and tempestuous. Yet, using the power of crowd wisdom and AI, our platform anticipated every single major movement!
With that in mind, we decided to survey PYNK members to apply the power of crowd wisdom to broader market categories. Key results of the survey include:
- Energy (24%) and HealthTech (20%) are predicted to be the most promising sectors over the next 5 years
- 45% said that now was the best time to invest in startups
- 38% predicted that the Dow has already hit its lowest point
- 31% predicted that the Dow would hit its lowest point by July-August
- 34% said that Asia and Australasia was the most overvalued regional market
Source: Survey of 1,471 PYNK members between 27th March and 10th April
Combining the power of crowd wisdom and AI with the rise of a diversified investor base, it seems clear that the future of trading and investment will be much more globalised, democratised and personal. Individual day traders will end up having access to the same information and marketplaces as large banks and financial institutions, while social media and other digital communications platforms will organise traders into nebulous groups.
Ultimately, it will be these crowds which fund the future.
TAPPING INTO THE DATA GOLDMINE: THE FUTURE OF DATA-DRIVEN CREDIT MANAGEMENT
Willand Brienen, product owner at Onguard
Data, and the insights it reveals, can offer organisations a vast number of benefits. For example, data-driven credit management can help to reduce the days sales outstanding (DSO) and allow credit managers to create a better understanding of risk profiles. However, while the benefits that data insights can bring to a business are substantial, buying a credit management solution doesn’t automatically make a company data-driven.
As such, credit managers shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that simply implementing an off-the-shelf credit management solution will be the key to successfully harnessing data insights. First, they have to choose the right solution; and even then, there are still a number of important considerations to take into account in order to secure a successful outcome.
So, how can credit managers tap into their company’s data goldmine to glean insights – and better prepare for the future?
Lesson 1: Use the data you’ve got
Almost a third of organisations have a wealth of data to draw from – but they aren’t maximising its potential.
Despite this, many companies have a clear appetite to become more data-driven. Reducing costs and increasing efficiency are big factors in this, but according to our recent research, over 20% of businesses also hope to use their consumer data to personalise customer communications and improve overall satisfaction.
For maximum return on investment, it’s essential for businesses to utilise data from their own consumer base, such as customers’ risk profiles and payment behaviour. External data is not only expensive, but profiles based on your own customers will also tell you more about future customers than data from other companies. The risk profile scores that you draw up based on internal data will therefore have greater predictive value.
By leveraging this data to better effect, organisations can benefit from enhanced sales, improved products, better finances and targeted marketing – offering a better service, boosting customer satisfaction and improving relationships. Should they wish, businesses can then also proceed to take the step to combine both internal and external sources later down the line.
Lesson 2: Use AI to maximise your follow-up actions
Increasingly, businesses are starting to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to harness valuable insights – but perhaps more importantly, it can also be used to determine how best to follow up with customers. This, in turn, can help improve relationships – whilst also using predictive capabilities and a deeper understanding of customer behaviour to minimise non-payment risk.
Data-driven insights are vital in helping to improve the forecasting of cash flow. AI can both support this process and advise on the best follow-up action. For example, it can help determine which customers would respond better to a follow-up phone call, or when it might be necessary to start collection proceedings immediately. Using individual insights based on consumer history, AI can also help identify the best time to contact specific customers, preventing you from making unnecessary calls if the customer is known to be unavailable. Not only will this dramatically improve operational efficiency, but if customers are approached in the right way, at the right time, it will also serve to enhance customer relationships and bolster retention.
Lesson 3: Leverage existing interfaces
Many credit management solutions offer standard interfaces. These can be linked to other systems and applications to improve efficiency – saving time on development and eliminating the need to re-test. By using existing APIs, businesses can benefit from tried-and-tested solutions that have already undergone comprehensive testing, so they can be sure that it works with their existing software.
For maximum ROI, organisations should choose an order-to-cash solution that offers as many interfaces that are relevant to their credit management processes as possible.
Lesson 4: Start small
As a credit manager, becoming fully data-driven will come with its share of challenges – but in an increasingly data-centric world, it’s vital to embrace this changing landscape. From companies using their own data and existing APIs, to implementing AI tools for determining follow up steps, becoming data-driven is the clear future of business operations.
Agility is key, as is taking small steps and using tools that enable you to incrementally expand your data-driven capacity. By linking the two most relevant sources and then expanding this further, this will immediately identify whether what you are doing is adding value – and where improvements can be made. By first analysing your data and determining which parts are most relevant, you can ensure that you don’t include any unnecessary information that may hinder results.
More and more financial departments are becoming data-driven, and by adopting this approach, credit managers and businesses alike can become more successful and more efficient, both now and for the future.
COULD YOUR PET BE INVALIDATING YOUR CAR INSURANCE?
- Not securing your pets ahead of a long drive could void your policy
- 10 things you need to be aware of before you embark on a summer road trip
Driving with a pet not secured properly can void your car insurance policy and even mean a hefty fine of up to £5,0001. And with an increase in Brits buying new pets in lockdown, it’s even more important to make sure you’re sticking to the rules.
Car insurance is a legal requirement for motorists, and your insurer needs to have accurate information about you and your vehicle in order for it to be valid. Providing false information or failing to update it can mean that your insurer refuses to pay out for claims, or even cancels your policy.
With lockdown restrictions lifting across the country, many people Brits will be planning summer staycations, but before packing up the car for a long drive, it’s important to check that you’re not accidentally invalidating your insurance policy. That’s why CarParts4Less.co.uk has shared 10 easy-to-make mistakes that might be invalidating your car insurance.
- Driving with pets
Our pets have become more of a lifeline than ever during lockdown and what better way to reward them than a dog friendly getaway but if you’re planning on taking your pet on holiday with you, it’s important to remember that you are legally required to make sure they are secured. Unsecured pets can make a car more at risk of accidents, as they may distract the driver or even physically get in the way of driving. If you crash with an unsecured pet in the car, it’s likely that your insurance company will refuse to pay for your claim.
- Not informing your insurer about any car modifications
Before preparing for a staycation, it’s common to install roof or bike racks so everything that’s needed for the holiday can be packed. However, some drivers may be unaware that these additions can be counted as modifications by some insurers and this could require a change in your policy. Before installing, contact your insurer to let them know of your plans.
Car modifications can affect your insurance premium for two reasons; if they increase the likelihood of an accident, or if they increase the likelihood of theft. For brand new cars, optional add ons, including fitting a SatNav, can impact insurance so it’s important to ensure these options are noted when applying for a policy.
- Lying about your main address
Insurance premiums vary depending on the postcode, as some areas have higher rates of thefts and break ins. It can be tempting to put down your home address as somewhere different – your house when you’ve been staying at your partner’s over lockdown for example. However, doing so can mean your insurer can refuse to pay out, for example, if your car is broken into in the location it actually resides.
- Using more miles than you thought
If you’re planning on driving for a domestic holiday this year, it’s a good idea to consider whether the trip will fit into your insurance plan. Many policies use your annual mileage as one of the factors to calculate your insurance premium; the higher the mileage, the higher the cost. Accuracy is important when providing this figure, so even though many drivers won’t have driven much over lockdown, if a long trip will take you over your estimate it’s best to contact your insurer in advance to check that you’re covered for it.
- Ignoring your morning commute
There are three types of car usage that insurance covers; social only, social and commuting, and business. Social only insurance covers driving for social or leisure use, going to the supermarket, etc. The commute to and from work, or even to and from the train station, are not covered by this policy, so upgrading to social and commuting is necessary, even if you only commute a few times a month. Insurance companies may dispute or refuse claims made during a commute if the policy is social use only, even if it is claimed to be only a one off.
If you use your car for work purposes outside of commuting, for example using it to get to meetings, or carrying equipment, you will need to get business cover.
- Letting other people drive your car
Long journeys can be tough for the driver, and it may be tempting to swap drivers during the journey. If you are considering doing this on the way to your holiday destination, it’s vital that they are added as a named driver onto your policy.
While it’s possible for your friends or family to have insurance policies that allow them to drive other people’s cars, it is unlikely these policies cover damage to the vehicle in the event they are in an accident, and your policy may only cover damage caused when a named driver is behind the wheel. So while your friend can legally drive the car, you may not be able to claim for accidents.
- Not informing your insurance company of minor accidents
In the case of small bumps or minor accidents where only cosmetic damage occurs, it’s common for motorists to have their car fixed without making a claim. However, even if you intend not to claim, it is important to inform your insurer of any damage received, as not doing so is a breach of policy. This helps in the event that the other driver changes their mind and decides to claim, and also ensures damage is accounted for if you do need to claim after future incidents – damage which is inconsistent with a claim may mean that you are denied.
Insurance for young drivers often costs more than other groups, and one way some motorists try to get round these higher premiums is by having a low risk driver, such as a parent or partner, named as the main policy holder, and adding the real motorist as a named driver. If you get caught ‘fronting’, your policy will immediately be cancelled, and any claims denied. These cases are often taken to court and classed as insurance fraud, with outcomes including fines of up to £5,000 and six points on your license.
- You’ve recently changed jobs
Your current occupation is one of the factors used to determine your risk profile, so it’s important to update your insurer if you have changed jobs or occupations. This is especially true at a time when many people have unfortunately lost their jobs and moved on to new employment. Failure to do so may mean any claims made after a job change can be denied by your insurer.
- Charging for lifts
Some policies specifically exclude cover for car sharing, whether you make a profit or not. For those whose policies do allow lift sharing, it may be void if you charge people for journeys – many state that you may only make enough to cover petrol and driving costs. Earning money from giving lifts can identify you as a ‘taxi hire service’, voiding manya policies.
It’s important to always read the terms and conditions of your car insurance policy, to ensure that you have not accidentally invalidated it. Keep your insurance provider up to date with any change of circumstances, regardless of whether you think it’s relevant, as some seemingly unrelated life changes can impact your premium.
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