How to Prepare for Funeral Costs

It is something that very few of us want to think about or even consider preparing for but the truth of life is that we all must die some day and as much as we can fight this inevitable fact, it is still a fact. After a friend or loved one passes away you will naturally want to give them the best possible send off and give them a funeral that they would be happy with, this can often mean high expenditure and tough decisions in a time of great grief.

It is for these reasons that you ought to start thinking about how you can prepare for your own funeral costs and planning how it will take place. It will certainly check one’s morality to think of such things but should you do so now, you can make the lives of your friends and loved ones much easier after you have passed away. Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can prepare.

Paying Up In Advance

If you are in a position to do so then you can prepare and pay for your funeral whilst you are still alive, this will not only ensure that your relations and friends will not be faced with the sadness of planning your funeral, it will also give you the peace of mind that it will be done in the right way. You can decide if you want to be buried or cremated, you can decide on the songs at the service and you could even find yourself buying a headstone which will sit above your grave. This is an option with benefits but it isn’t a nice idea to plan your funeral whilst you are still alive.

Life Insurance

As you get older you should ensure that you are paying into a life insurance plan that will cover the costs of your funeral expenses. Not only will a strong policy give you and your family the money that they need to pay for the funeral, they will also receive either a lump sum or a monthly amount based on your policy.

Establish a Trust

Many banks offer things like Totten Trust which is essentially a savings account that can be controlled by a chosen person should you die. You can start putting money into this trust as early as you want and it will usually have a strong interest rate attached to it. In terms of the Totten Trusts which are available, you which receive a much better interest rate from your bank than from a funeral service and you will also have far more control over your cash such are the complexities of the rules regarding funeral services.

As we mentioned before, nobody wants to think about these kind of things but if you imagine yourself in the position of someone who is grieving and then consider making decisions on things like funerals and planning their costs. You will see that it is much easier for you to prepare now then allow your family to do it in the future.

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When You Should and Shouldn’t Take Out a Loan

There are many reasons why people apply for a loan. Sometimes people apply for loans out of necessity. Sometimes people apply for loans to buy products or services that are not really needed. It is important for people to understand the cost of taking a loan. There are many factors affecting the cost of getting a loan, such as your credit score, your assets and your job. The size of a loan varies from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars. There are many reasons why someone should take a loan or should not take a loan.

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Why you should take a loan

1. Buying your first home

This is one of the good reasons for you to apply for a loan. A home loan allows you to own a home instead of renting an apartment. The loan can be repaid in 15 or 30 years and you will get the lowest interest rates if your credit history is good. A home loan also gives you tax benefits.

2. Student loan

If you are a student, then applying for a student loan is a good choice, as it allows you to get a degree in an area that offers good job opportunities. The government backs most of the student loans and the payment terms are very generous. The loan offers a way of funding your future.

3. Loans for Investments

If you are financially independent and responsible, then you can take loans to fund your investments. For example, you can borrow money to buy investment properties. These kind of loans are not suitable for regular folks. You must have the necessary financial knowledge and assets to apply for such loans.

Why you should not take out a loan

1. Bad credit history

If your credit history is not good, then you will not get the best loan terms. You must work on increasing your credit score before you applying for a loan. Typically, banks and lenders will charge you higher rates if your credit is not good. If you are someone with a poor credit history, then you should refrain from taking a loan.

2. Purchasing assets that are depreciating

If you are planning to buy assets such as automobiles, which are depreciating over periods of time, then you should not consider taking a loan. It is always recommended to take a loan to purchase items such as a home, which are appreciating in value and act as a hedge against inflation. Most people are in the habit of purchasing depreciating assets such as furniture, TV, smart phones, and automobiles by taking high interest loans. This is not a good idea.

3. Private loans

There are many private loans available today. These are very expensive. You will end up paying very high interest rates. It is always recommended to get a loan from major banking institutions and lenders. If your credit is not good, then you may be tempted to get private loans. You should not consider this option unless it is for an emergency situation.

4. Borrowing from credit cards

Credit card companies offer balance transfers. However, after the initial period of lower interest rates, the interest rates will increase drastically. Your monthly payments will go up. Do not fall for high interest balance transfer offers from credit card companies.

There are many reasons why people take out loans. However, there are not many good reasons why people should take a loan or should not take a loan. Some of the reasons listed above are helpful if you are a would-be borrower planning to take a loan. Taking a loan is a financial burden and should be avoided unless it helps you to accumulate real assets, which are appreciating and lead to financial independence.

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How to Become a Top Financial Advisor

Today we are going to take a look at one of the World’s top financial advisors and what skills you are going to need if you wish to be a financial advisor. Being skilled with numbers and finance is a skill that you can of course learn but in order to be able to give advice to people you are going to need far more than this. Financial advisors need to have a firm understanding of the financial markets and how people can wisely invest their cash in stocks, shares, bonds, bank accounts and property. Let’s take a look at an example of a great financial advisor, Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch wealth manager and what skills you are going to need to replicate his success.

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Patrick Dwyer

Dwyer is currently managing over $2 billion worth of assets for wealth management giant Merrill Lynch and is considered one of their key advisors. After gaining his MBA from the University of Miami, Dwyer went straight into the MBA program with Merrill Lynch and has been with the company for over two decades. During his time with the financial services company he has been regularly featured in the Barron’s list of top 100 advisers as well as being featured as one of the best advisors in the World by the Financial Times In 1999 he joined Merrill Lynch’s elite group of professionals who would solely advise the ultra-rich in managing their finances which is where he currently plies his trade.

Here are Some of the Skills You Need

If you want to be a top advisor like Patrick then you are going to need to be an industry expert, this involves you constantly keeping an eye on market trends and global positions as well as new industries. You will never stop becoming a student of the financial world and the moment that you think you know all that there is to know, is the moment that the industry will pass you by.

Math and Computer Skills

Math and computer skills are the basic requirements for any financial advisor and the industry relies heavily on these skills. You cannot hope to achieve anything in the world of finance with poor math skills and your computer literacy should be high as you will be using them for a huge range of tasks on a daily basis.

Communication Skills

If you are going to be advising people on what they should do with their vast wealth then you need to have a good bedside manner. The wealth management industry is highly competitive and you need to ensure that, for the good of the company, that you can gain your client’s trust and loyalty. Your communication with your clients should be outstanding.

Salesman

When you are offering your advice to a client, you are essentially selling them an idea of yours and you need to be able to do so in such a way that will make the customer want to go ahead. In order to do this you need to be able to analyze complicated details and present in a way that your client will understand.

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How to Manage Your Money after Winning a Settlement

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When you win a big case and receive a large settlement or jury award, it’s best to practice wise fiscal management to reap the most benefit from your funds.

Unless you have a background in finance or have managed complex assets for yourself or others in the past, it’s not unusual to be unprepared to deal with large sums of money. Below are some considerations for those expecting or who have already received their settlement or award from the court.

Learn how the tax implications will affect you

Depending upon the nature of your settlement, you could wind up owing quite a bit to Uncle Sam come April 15. For instance, if you sued a former employer for back pay or sought punitive damages in your case, you’ll be on the hook for the federal income taxes that are due on those amounts.

However, an asbestos settlement for a mesothelioma diagnosis or, more broadly, a settlement dealing with most personal injury claims doesn’t carry a tax burden. Often, settlements and judgments include both tax-free and taxable portions. Because it can be difficult for a layperson to understand the complexities of our federal tax code on these types of financial windfalls, it is best to seek advice from a financial advisor to avoid running afoul of the IRS.

Structured settlements versus lump sums — which is better?

Not all plaintiffs will have the option of choosing to accept a lump sum or structured settlement, but those who do need to give serious thought to the decision. There are pros and cons to both, and your situation will dictate the better option to choose.

If your settlement comes from a career-ending workers’ comp lawsuit, a structured settlement can provide a reliable means of supporting yourself. The same is true for personal injury cases that result in long-term disability and a need for ongoing medical and personal care.

Structured settlements are often tendered in wrongful death cases where the breadwinner was killed and his or her spouse and minor children require financial support. If a plaintiff is worried about blowing through a lump sum settlement irresponsibly, selecting the structured settlement can offer some needed financial boundaries.

Hire a financial advisor you trust

Receiving a windfall can fundamentally alter the relationships you have with the people in your life. Friends, relatives and even total strangers may approach you with sad stories of financial woes designed to separate you from your money. Without a gatekeeper in charge who can filter these requests for support and turn them down, you could wind up broke and needing assistance yourself in only a couple of years.

There is nothing wrong with taking care of your loved ones responsibly with some of the proceeds from your settlement or jury award. A financial advisor can set up trusts for the education of children or grandchildren, or provide for them in other ways, so that you won’t have to repeatedly deal with requests for loans or investment capital.

Eliminate the burden of debt

According to statistics from the Pew Charitable Trust, 80 percent of American adults are indebted to creditors. Shedding financial burdens is quite liberating, but it’s important to have a debt reduction plan in place.

  • Your first goal should be to pay off any debts that carry high interest rates, e.g., credit cards and some loans.
  • Then, check and see whether you have any outstanding medical bills that need to be paid and wipe those out.
  • Calculate how much you will need to live comfortably for a month, multiply that by six, and deposit that amount in an interest-bearing account that carries no penalties for withdrawal. Now you have an emergency fund to tap if necessary.
  • If you owe a mortgage on your home or need to pay off some auto loans, tackle those next.
  • Plan for a comfortable retirement. Your golden years should be the time of your life when you no longer have to worry about money woes. Make sure that you wisely invest enough to cover your future needs.
  • Draw up an estate plan. Depending upon the size of and manner in which your windfall is structured, your heirs may continue to reap the rewards after you’re gone. Your financial advisor can assist you with this as well.

Buy property or remodel your existing home

Those who have never been homeowners may find taking that leap to be daunting, but homeownership has many benefits. If you already own your property but it needs some refurbishments, now is the time to turn your home into your castle. You don’t have to make ostentatious improvements, but if you always wanted that man cave, in-ground swimming pool or spa bathroom, this is your chance to get it exactly as you like it.

Make charitable donations

One way to lighten your tax burden is by donating to qualified charities. If you have a special cause that’s dear to your heart (animal welfare, Alzheimer’s research, funding a scholarship, etc.), funnel some money in that direction. Establishing your own charitable trust is another possibility for you and your financial advisor to explore.

Enjoy your life

You are in the enviable position of no longer having to worry about making ends meet. This is what most people strive for their entire lives, so once you have covered all the basics, have fun with your money. Take the cruise or European vacation, buy the RV and tour North America, invest in collectibles that interest you or buy a few valuable pieces of jewelry or a hot sports car you’ve always dreamed of owning.

Money can indeed change people, but it does not have to be for the worst. By becoming a responsible steward of your finances, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that your responsibilities have all been met.

If you handle your settlement correctly, you should be able to enjoy the proceeds of your settlements for many years to come.

 

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How to Manage Money When You Start Earning

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Photo by CC user 401 (K) 2012 on Flickr.

When I first started working full time I was still living with my parents, I had bought a cheap car a couple of months beforehand and I had absolutely no responsibilities other than my road tax and my car insurance. Looking back, I now realize that this was a perfect opportunity for me to sensibly manage my money so that I could have a bright future.

Unfortunately at that time, I was 21 years old and pretty much blew my paycheck each month on partying and general recklessness, if only I had known then what I know now. If you are entering the world of work and want to avoid making the mistakes that I did then here are some things that I wish I’d done at that tender age.

Save Save Save

There is a huge temptation to spend all of your salary each month and not make any plans for the future, after all, you are young and probably think that things will stay the same for ever, they won’t. The far better option is to be smart and start saving some of your money as early as possible. Look to save a quarter of your monthly income, you will thank yourself for the decision to do this when the time comes along to buy a house. I have quite a hefty mortgage and had I saved better then I could’ve got a much better deal on my borrowing.

Consult Someone

People seem to have this notion that great financial advisors like Keith Springer are solely for the rich and famous in this World, that is not correct. In fact using financial advisors should be encouraged from an early age when we are less financially literate. They can offer you great advice on what to do with your money both now and going forward and they can even help you to find great bank accounts and help you make savings plans. You don’t need to meet with one on a weekly basis, just go and see one, lay out your financial situation to them and see what advice they can offer you when it comes to being smart with your money.

Monthly Budget

Remember that you are in it for the long-haul when you approach your finances, of course you could die tomorrow but let’s assume that you aren’t going to and work out how best to set yourself up for the future. A solid monthly budget can help you to stay within your financial goals, budget for everything even if it is alcohol and party money or gadget-buying money, the point of the budget is to control your spends. If you sit at the beginning of each month, take a look at your salary, remove the amount that you wish to save and any other costs which you cannot avoid paying (car insurance etc.) you will be left with your spends for the month, try and split this up into weeks until you get paid again and stick to your plan. Doing this early on will really help you out in the future when you start paying bills.

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New Records Expected in the U.S. Economy and Stocks with President-elect Donald Trump

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Photo by CC user Opus Moreschi on Flickr.

With market volatility rising, spread betting could see major winners in the coming weeks and months as analysts believe that Trump could cause U.S. stocks and the economy to set new highs according to the Deutsche Bank.

The news and reactions seem to points to Trump being a positive influence over the U.S. stock market and economy. It is believed by analysts such as Chief U.S. Equity Strategist David Bianco that by the time Trump is sworn in as President of the United States of America, the S&P 500 index will rise over 2,250.

Investors are getting behind the idea that there is a much higher chance of a continued and long-lasting expansion in the economy that could match or beat the 10 year U.S. record. Investors believe that by the year 2018, the S&P 500 could reach as high as 2,500.

If the American economy can make it to 2019 without suffering another recession, it could break the last 10-year record set from 1991 to 2001.

The largest component of the GDP is dampened by the consumption of the growing retirees on Social Security, lowering variability while the structural decline in the growth potential equates to smaller shocks to the market needed to cause a downturn in U.S. market activity.

Bianco does not ignore the risk of a rising dollar on the Corporate America’s bottom line, the possible trade policies that can be seen as protectionist under the new Trump presidency and rises in the Treasury yields, they still think that the most important aspects for investors will be the increases in profitability in banks and the lower taxes.

An estimate from the Deutsche Bank sees the U.S. corporate taxes to drop by as much as 25% bringing it closer to the current OECD average. This suggests that earnings per share on the S&P 500 could see a $5.00 increase with every 5% tax cut. Bianco has therefore increased their earnings per share to at least $130 in 2017 for the S&P 500. This constitutes an annual growth rate of 9%, assuming they hit their 2016 mark of $116. Bianco is unsure of the exact amount the corporate tax rate will be cut but are sure that it will be significant.

If people do not convert their financial holdings from foreign currencies to their country’s currency, the tax reduction that is expected for corporates would provide various benefits to the domestically-orientated organizations. Since November, the Russell 2000 Index has performed vastly better than the S&P 500.

Financial asset prices could be kept afloat by a special repatriation tax holiday, especially if the funds were used for dividend boosts, M&A or buybacks. Bonds will still not be enough of an alternative to shrinking stock valuations or make businesses turn to higher interest expenses. Bianco went on to say that as the Fed continues to the current tightening cycle, it will help to keep the labour market from becoming too volatile as well as help to put a cap on the longer term U.S. Treasury yield curve. Because the utilities stocks have been battered since the election, Bianco has recommended that investors should turn to it as a source of income.

Historically, utilities have seen benefit from lower U.S. corporation tax rates since it gives all the profits back to the U.S. and there is then little foreign exchange risk. It also benefits from a continued the 15% tax rates on dividends as opposed to income tax rates and 3.8% the Affordable Care Act tax that will likely be dropped. Furthermore, utilities will benefit from Federal loans and infrastructure grants as well as benefiting from safe-havens for retirees and other institutions that are looking to lower their fixed income exposure.

Spread betting on sites such as CMC Markets could therefore see some major winners in the coming weeks and months as Trump becomes sworn in and does what most analysts expect him to do. Americans are the most hopeful they have been in a long time based on reports by a Bloomberg sentiment index from the University of Michigan. It showed a broad increase in confidence across incomes, ages and religions. While this might be a post-election honeymoon period for some, confidence is much higher than expected pre-election results.

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Philanthropy Does Not have To Be A Slow And Painful Slog

It is truly unfortunate that many people tend to shy away or ignore altogether the issue of global poverty alleviation. Their reasons are justified by the fact that poverty is a stubborn social issue that has complex and multiple causes. Many of those who are fighting global poverty lament that the process is indeed very slow and painful. However, the website 170 Exchange has a solution that is not tedious and actually benefits all parties. In the United States, commercial real estate companies can receive a tax deduction if they choose to do what is called the 170 Exchange or Bargain Sales. The way it works is that the owner of a property donates the property to a non-profit entity for a charitable contribution based tax deduction. This allows the commercial real estate company to immediately save money on paying taxes, as opposed to saving taxes in the future.

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The Welfont Group Uses the 170 Exchange to Fund the Mercy Foundation

The Welfont Group is a commercial real estate company that specializes in acquiring under-utilized or distressed properties. It can also connect other commercial real estate companies with non-profit organizations so both can benefit from the 170 Exchange. This is truly a unique service that not many other companies can offer.

Industry Veterans Sound Off on the Welfont Group’s Expertise on 170 Exchange

Robert W. Wood, a contributor of Forbes Magazine reiterated the niche service offering of the Welfont Group. “While you can make a simple swap of one property for another, the odds are slim you will find someone with the exact property you want who wants the exact property you have.” This is why the Welfont Group is well known for its ability to create suitable matches between commercial real estate firms and non-profit entities that can legally take advantage of the 170 Exchange because as Gary Keller, author of “The Millionaire Real Estate Investor” confirmed, “It’s a very straightforward procedure, but it take some planning. This program in the IRS tax code allows you to sell and buy properties without having to declare capital gains or pay those taxes.” Those words certainly sound like music to the ears of many commercial real estate brokers!

From 170 Exchange to Micro Loans Funding Philanthropic Causes

The Welfont Group disburses micro loans through the Mercy Foundation in order to help those who are less fortunate all around the world. These micro loans are usually used by small businesses, usually family managed, to expand so that they could make small but effective changes that help them get out of debilitating poverty. One example is a family in Georgia that uses the micro loan to buy more milk cows so that the family can make and sell more cheese products. The extra income is then used to renovate their dilapidated house, repay the micro loan and reinvested into the family dairy business. Instead of relying on donations, this family pulls itself out of poverty. What a beautiful thing to see.

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Save Money by Refinancing Your Loan

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Did you know that you could save a whole lot of money by refinancing your auto loan? You may, for instance, have had bad credit when you took the loan out, which meant your interest rate was really high. If your credit rating has since improved, your rate could also be lowered, meaning you save a great deal of money overall. Even just half a percentage drop can equate to several hundred dollars. This also means that you could pay your loan back quicker – if you continue to make the same repayments, which means you save even more money. While an excellent idea, you do have to make sure you know how to actually secure the best deal.

Using the Internet for Refinancing

Thanks to the internet, it is now easier than ever to find the best deals on just about everything. This includes auto refinancing deal. By using these tools, you are able to check exactly what the difference is going to be to your overall disposable income.

How to Save Money by Refinancing

  1. Find out whether there is a lender out there that is able to offer you a loan at a lower rate than what you currently have.
  2. Do you have a W2 paycheck? If not, you will need two years of tax returns to prove income.
  3. If you refinance as soon as possible, you will save the most money overall on interest. However, you may also end up having to pay an expensive early redemption fee, which means it will be more expensive overall. Make your calculations properly, therefore.
  4. Keep your eye on the financial market. Even a small drop in interest can make a huge difference on how much you pay overall. Every drop in point is a dollar in your pocket, at the end of the day.
  5. Spend some time researching the companies that are out there before you apply. Find out how easy it was for others to make the application and to get approved, and how long it took for the entire process to be completed. Make sure you particularly look at their level of customer service.
  6. Try to negotiate on the interest rate. You could also do this with your existing lender. They want to keep you on their books, after all, so they may be willing to make a concession.
  7. Never borrow more than the current value of your vehicle, so check out how much it is worth right now.

When it comes to your finances, you have to do a lot of research so that you always have the best possible deal, and this is doubly true for refinancing. You should be able to find some good refinancing calculators online, particularly through companies that offer these types of loans, which should tell you exactly how much you can save overall. You could actually save several thousand dollars over the lifetime of your loan, so it is certainly worth looking into.

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Investing In a New House

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Buying a new house is a major decision for anyone to make and it suffices to say that homebuyers really need to do their homework before deciding on a house to purchase.

Having said that, there are many advantages to owning property and investing in a new house is an excellent idea for most people, especially those who are looking to be financially secure in retirement. Here’s a quick look at the benefits of investing in a new house.

Why buy a new house?

There are many advantages to purchasing a new house over one that has been lived in. Moreover, as there are a number of fantastic house designs in the Aveling Homes range for homebuyers to select from, regardless of preference for a particular style, everyone is sure to find the house of their dreams in a location a commutable distance from the Perth CBD.

  • New homes attract better tenants. Homebuyers who are purchasing a house as an investment will find that new homes tend to attract better tenants, by which is meant tenants who will respect the property by taking care of it and residing there for years.
  • New homes offer stamp duty savings. Homebuyers can save tens of thousands of dollars by purchasing a new house and land package over a secondhand home, or even buying a plot of land and building on it.
  • New homes require little maintenance. Because the house is new and has been built to the most modern building standards, new houses are easy to maintain, offering homeowners minimal costs over the first five years when the property is covered by a builder’s warranty.

Additionally, new houses are available in a wide range of styles. As there is such a fantastic range of house design styles to select from, homebuyers investing in one of the new house and land packages in Perth will find that they may have their work cut out for them when making a selection. Whether it’s an ultra-modern design or something more traditional, yet still offering all the modern conveniences one would expect, homebuyers are spoiled for choice.

Depreciation and tax

Another advantage to purchasing a new home for those who are planning to rent their property to tenants is the opportunity to capitalise upon the forces of depreciation. In a new investment home purchased for $250,000 with fixtures totalling around 10% of that amount (approximately $25,000), around $15,000 in tax deductions can be created every year. That’s something for investors to think about when looking into their property buying options.

Important considerations

There are, of course, a number of important considerations that must be taken into account when purchasing a new house as an investment, including the location of the property, the infrastructure surrounding it (also take into account infrastructure planned for the area), and the fiscal health of the region. These are all very important considerations for investors.

Purchasing a new house and land package is an ideal option for property investors and there are many benefits to take advantage of when they purchase a suitable investment property.

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Cash Access in the Casino: How Competitive Edges are Gained

In the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas or Atlantic City, it’s quite easy to forget the basic principles that make the big casinos tick. We’re talking about cash access and how, amongst all of the gaming, few of us quite comprehend how so much money enters these facilities.

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There are actually few companies responsible for the billions of dollars that goes in and out of these doors. One of the big players who have been involved in the game for the last few years have been Everi Holdings. They operate the majority of cash access terminals through the casinos and were served for a long time by Ram Chary.

Of course, it’s not by luck that they are the market leader in this space. Chary has commented on several occasions that Everi’s grip on the market wasn’t necessarily due to them throwing obscene amounts of money at casinos, but rather due to the fact that they could offer competitive edges in other forms.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which they managed to do this.

Reliability

With so few companies responsible for cash access systems, the consequences of systems going down are unthinkable. In other words, they simply must be reliable and up every second of the day.

This is where the infrastructure of the company really comes into play. If these systems are struck down, casinos can potentially lose hundreds of thousands of dollars with their patrons unable to access cash.

It means that there are a whole host of infrastructure considerations; ranging from the amount of storage space that their systems have, right the way down to backup systems in case the original falls.

Due to the vast scale of the operation, all sorts of other considerations come into play such as the cooling costs and other issues which can impact the bottom line.

If a company can prove that their systems will never fall – it’s one of the biggest assurances that a casino can hear.

Security

This is one of those factors that probably goes without saying. Again, we’ll reference the “billions of dollars” line that can be frequently used in any article that mentions casinos.

With so much money involved in these cash access systems, it means security has to be the best in the business. If patrons experience any security concerns whatsoever, the casino in question will be targeted immediately. Their reputation will be tarnished and again, this means that security is another huge assurance factor when these cash access companies approach casinos.

Efficiency

Even if a system incorporates both reliability and security, if it takes an age to process each request it’s not going to do any favors to the casino’s bottom line.

Patrons need access to money in record speeds; it’s what makes the gambling industry spin around. If they are having to wait, there’s a good chance that the urge to spend will soon evaporate, or they will merely go to a different establishment.

Again, it’s further proof that having deep pockets isn’t necessarily going to give a cash access company a contract with casinos – there are plenty of other issues that can provide that elusive competitive advantage.

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