Talent Spotting – The Importance of Identifying Key Qualities in Your Existing Employees

There’s no denying that a strong product or service is an essential part of any successful business, but the deciding factor when it comes to success is the staff. From product design to customer relations, a great team of staff members can pave the pay to success for years to come.

No matter how extensive an employee’s qualifications and experience, however, it’s not always the case that their key qualities will be on show from the very beginning. Here, we consider the possibilities available to managers when it comes to unlocking their employees’ full potential.


The expression ‘two heads are better than one’ is not merely relevant to numbers, but also to the qualities present within your office. If you’re looking for innovation to allow your business to grow and succeed, you’ll want to be sure that you’re getting the most from each of your employees.

Whether or not your employees are aware of their key qualities, it’s the job of a good boss to create the sort of environment which is able to bring them to the fore. Any business which refuses to focus on the development of its staff members is one which refuses to grow as a company. 

Allow Them A Longer Leash 

If your employees are encouraged to work in accordance with strict rules when they’re in the office, you’re unlikely to see them flourish. Setting specific goals and guidelines can be a great way to meet targets, but it’s certainly not a great way to unlock potential.

By allowing your employees a longer leash and encouraging them to do things in their own way, you will be giving yourself the opportunity to identify their key qualities. Left to their own devices, you will notice that each of your employees works differently, ultimately putting on display their own strengths and working preferences.

Seeing Results 

Strong members of staff are something which all business leaders look for, but what is particularly effective is to have a diverse team of strong staff members. A team which shares aspirations but which is varied in the specific areas of expertise is every manager’s dream.

Encourage your employees to develop independently of one another, as well as being part of a team. In this way, you can be sure to have all of your bases covered when it comes to dealing with clients, customers and the everyday challenges of business.

Is Gold On its Way Back Down?

For the past 12 years in a row, gold has enjoyed rising prices, which is an extremely uncommon occurrence. Not a single year has seen a decline, which has brought many analysts to the conclusion that a correction must be due soon, meaning that we could see a steady decline in the value of gold in the coming months and years.

In a normal scenario, you’d expect an asset to correct around a third of its value every 18 months or so, but clearly gold hasn’t done this, which seems too good to be true. You should ask yourself: “do I need to sell my gold?”

One thing that’s preventing people from selling their gold is that the precious metal markets are now very volatile. Both gold and silver have been up and down considerable amounts this year already, with huge swings of 14 percent back in April. With volatility comes uncertainty, and many people may yet be hoping an upward gold trend will continue, and that they should hold on to any physical gold that they have.

There are also others however, that are getting out of physical gold because it’s too volatile, though some high profile names, including former US congressman Ron Paul have come out to say that gold is traditionally volatile, and always will be. He goes on to insist that holding gold is always a good idea to some extent, to protect against currency crashes. In reality however, most people will not factor this in to their trading, because it isn’t something they’re concerned about.

So which direction are things going to move in, and what should you do?

In the short term, there are always going to be ups and downs, because that’s simply what gold does. In the longer term however, the short upward spikes should not influence strategies; it certainly looks as though gold will be declining, because correction seems inevitable. It’s already down 17 percent this year as traders jump ship for high yield stocks.

This will draw many to the conclusion that physical gold should be sold now before prices drop. This includes both gold held through banks and brokers, and actual gold reserves that people might have in their own homes. Gold might be good to have in the event of a severe commodity crisis, but with many economies on the way up, it looks as though there are better places to hold investments.

A Guide to Reclaiming Overpaid Tax

Rough estimates indicate that over 4.3 million people will be eligible for a tax rebate this year, and the BBC estimates that her majesty’s revenue and customs will have to reimburse approximately £1.8 billion in overpaid taxes. In part, this is because people have moved jobs, stopped working or become self-employed mid-way through the financial year, which confuses the complicated system employed by HMRC to calculate tax returns, and results in the government taxing people for money that they haven’t actually earned.

There are a number of other reasons that people over pay their taxes though; sometimes they don’t realize that they can claim money back from special tax allowances, and sometimes they forget to update their PAYE tax code, which HRMC use to calculate your estimated income.

Anybody that’s paid too much tax because they’ve swapped jobs part way through the financial year can claim for a tax rebate immediately. You might also be eligible for a rebate if you work in a profession that benefits from specific tax relief schemes.

If you’re a mechanic, for example, you will be able to claim a rebate for any tools, boots or overalls that you are required to purchase in order to work, but not reimbursed for by your employer. Educational professionals will also be entitled to claim teacher tax rebate on any union fees paid over the course of a financial year, and any sporting equipment bought to facilitate the teaching of P.E. lessons.

People that have been working under an emergency PAYE code can also reclaim any overpaid taxes, as can anyone that was made redundant mid-way through the financial year.

How Do I Begin Reclaiming Overpaid Tax?

If you think you might have overpaid your taxes, and you suspect that you might be eligible for a rebate, the first step is to properly calculate your taxable earnings, and deduct the cost of any expenses covered by relevant tax relief schemes.

Once you know how much tax you should have paid over the course of the financial year, you can compare this number to the amount listed on your p60. If you haven’t been issued with a p60, or the information that it contains is incorrect, you can contact HRMC to find out how much tax you’ve paid in a given financial year.

Once you’ve worked out how much tax you’re owed, you can write to Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenue to file a claim, and begin properly reclaiming your tax. As long as you make a claim within 4 years of the relevant tax year, you should be reimbursed.

What’s the Buzz Around Binary Options?

If you’ve taken an interest in financial trading recently, then there’s a very good chance that you’ve heard about binary options. They aren’t a very common product, but they are becoming more popular as people enjoy their fast paced and all-or-nothing style. Let’s take a look at what people are saying about them.

“Binary options are flexible” – If flexibility is your thing, then binary options are likely to be a good choice for you. They can be used with just about any financial instrument that you can think of, whether forex or stocks, and can also take advantage of prices moving up or down. If there’s a signal you want to take advantage of, then there’s a very good chance you can do it with a binary option. You can find out more information about signals at http://www.masterbinaryoptionstrading.com/category/binary-options-blog.

“Binary options are fast” – Traditional options often have a maturity date set well into the future, but binary options are far less. They can be closed at the end of the trading day, in just sixty seconds, or an interval in-between. There’s no waiting around, which is great if you’re looking to make money quickly, or prefer to make high volumes of smaller trades. Some brokers are offering smartphone apps that mean you can trade quickly on the go.

“Binary options are like gambling” – Some people claim that because there are only two outcomes to a binary option – a loss or a win of a specific amount, the product is tantamount to gambling. In reality however, you still have to look at signals just as with anything else, and a seasoned trading expert will be a lot more successful than someone making trades without direction.

“Binary options favour the broker” – While it’s true that the broker wins when you lose a binary option trade, they still give you the very best chance of returns that they can, because they’ll get more custom this way. Binary options are just as valid as any other financial trading product.

“Binary options have no unknowns” – Many people enjoy the fact that there are only two possible outcomes of a binary options trade. It means that the markets don’t need to be monitored at all, because there’s nothing that you can change before the maturity time. It’s also very easy to calculate the risk and reward, because you know exactly what is going to happen.

Who Is Eligible for a Secured Loan?

Secured loans are a popular form of borrowing because they usually offer competitive interest rates and long repayment periods. This will leave many people wondering whether they are eligible or not. Fortunately, secured loans are not exclusively available to those with excellent credit history and who own a very valuable property.

To be eligible for a secured loan, you need to be a homeowner with an existing mortgage. The whole point of this type of borrowing is that the lender has the security of your home if you fail to make the necessary repayments, so this is essential. If you jointly own the property, then you’ll have to make a joint application, which is also true if you’re married.

Lenders want to know that you can afford the repayments, which is why being in employment is also very important. The amount of your wage is also likely to impact the overall amount you are able to borrow. Those who are self-employed may find it difficult to get a loan but some secured lenders offer loans to self-employed borrowers.

The house you own also plays a part in a secured loan. Many lenders will have a minimum property value with which you can secure a loan against. This is to ensure that they will receive something of sufficient value if you default on the loan. Often this minimum is around £80,000 which the majority of UK homes fall [over?]. The more the house is worth, the more you’ll be able to borrow, and potentially the lower your interest will be.

The final thing to think about is what the loan is being used for. Many lenders are very wary of money which is going to be used for business purposes, and as such they will not lend to those looking to use it for this. Similarly, you can’t usually use the money to fund the purchase of a new property. It’s always best to ask the lender before making an application, so that you know where you stand.

Secured homeowner loans are very useful for a variety of large purchases, and more people are likely to be eligible than you might think. You should bear in mind that borrowing over a longer term will increase the amount you repay overall, but if you’re looking for a competitive interest rate and a long time in which you can pay off the loan, then this could be something to consider. Click here to find out more information.

Know the Risks When It Comes to Building Projects

Ready to tackle that home extension? Or take on building a new shed? No matter what kind of DIY job you’re facing, large or small, it’s important to keep safety first. You could always choose to seek representation from a firm like Irwin Mitchell if something goes awry, but it’s much wiser to protect yourself from the outset by being aware of the building risks you may face. Here’s what you need to know.

DIY doesn’t literally mean “do it yourself”.

Even if you feel that the building project that you’re starting is a one-person job, always call for at least one more person to back you up. It’s dangerous to try to lift or carry big and bulky parts by yourself, so at least recruit a family member or friend to help you get started.

Using appropriate tools is more important than you think.

Making sure not to take shortcuts when it comes to gathering your tools is also a matter of safety. Never try to use tools that are too bulky, too small or not the right shape for the project that you’re doing. And when you use power tools, make sure to secure the electrical cords so that no one trips over them. When you’re done, turn off the tools and unplug them to avoid accidents.

You should get an inspection before disturbing hidden materials.

Products like insulation could possibly carry mould that can make you and your family sick. Or, even more seriously, your home could have asbestos insulation, which can cause long-term health problems if inhaled. Once you decide which area of your home you want to build in, make sure to get it professionally checked so that your DIY project doesn’t turn into a disaster.

Your clothing is the most important tool you have.

Before you start, it’s a good idea to cover as much skin as possible. Wear denim trousers that are loose enough to move in yet not too baggy are standard building wear. You can also keep covered by wearing a shirt with sleeves and boots or thick tennis shoes to cover your feet.

Your timeline will shift.

As you progress through your building project, you’ll find that your schedule changes. Maybe you didn’t get a permit in time or you had to order extra materials, for example. Your project costs could also increase, so it’s good to give yourself a 20 percent buffer when you are calculating how much time and money it will take for you to finish. It’s important to remain flexible instead of rushing through your DIY job. This turns out to be the ultimate risk because it affects not only the quality of your project but also your commitment to safety.

Everything You Need To Know About Contesting A Will

It’s no secret that contesting a will can be difficult, costly and time consuming. Exorbitant legal fees, time-consuming hearings and a plethora of stressful technicalities can turn even the most cut-and-dry appeals into an arduous ordeal.

The key to successfully contesting a will is definitely preparation. Read on for more information. 

What Are The Grounds On Which a Will Can Be Contested?

Normally, a will can only be contested if there’s reason to think that it is in some way invalid because:

  • It does not properly provide for the challenger
  • It was written under the undue influence of a third party
  • It was written while the deceased was not of sound mind.

Demonstrating that a will is invalid because it was written under the undue influence of a third party is certainly the most difficult way of challenging a will. To challenge a will on the basis that it was the result of coercion, you have to be able to prove that there’s reason to believe that a third party had enough power to properly pressure the deceased into acting in a certain way, as well as properly demonstrating that there’s clearly motive for coercion, and showing that the facts of the will are inconsistent with any other theory.

Challenging a will on the grounds that it was written while the testator was not of sound mind is also difficult. Again the burden of proof lies with you, and it’s difficult to properly demonstrate that the deceased have acted irrationally because:

  • The mental state of the deceased is particularly difficult to determine post-mortem
  • Perfectly rational people can often make seemingly irrational decisions while of completely sound mind.

Most successful challenges rely instead on demonstrating that the claimant is not properly provided for under the original terms of the will. Thanks to the inheritance act, claims of this nature are much easier to win, and far quicker to resolve.

Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About Challenging A Will? 

Once you know the terms under which you intend to challenge a will, it’s important to move fast. There’s no time limit for filing a claim, but courts expect claimants to act fast, and it’s unlikely that a case will be heard after a 6 month delay. Anyone hoping to make a successful claim should click here for help challenging a will, or think about contacting a trustworthy solicitor capable of filing claims and orchestrating an appeal.

What Are The Different Ways of Financial Trading?

When faced with this question, most people will tend to think about the different things that financial traders might like to invest in, whether that’s foreign exchange (forex), commodities like gold and silver, or stocks and shares. What’s not often thought about, are the different ways of trading them; it’s not all about simply buying and selling set amounts of things.

Here are some of the most common:

Spot Trades – Spot trades refer to forex or commodity trades in which currency or commodities are bought or sold at an agreed price, with the settlement occurring on the spot date, which is usually two days in the future. These are very widespread, and more than a third of all forex transactions are spot trades.

Options – An option is a contract which allows a trader to buy or sell an asset at an agreed price, on or before a future date, which is also specified. Again, this is a very popular way of trading, and is used with a huge range of instruments.

Futures – Futures are similar to options in that a future transaction is agreed, but the major difference is that the contract is binding. Rather than having the option to buy or sell, it is an obligation; the contract must be fulfilled as it is set out.

CFDs – Contracts for difference are an agreement whereby the seller will pay the buyer the difference between an asset’s current value, and the value at the time the contract position is closed. They are available on numerous instruments and underlying assets, but they are not available in all countries. CFDs are also traded over the counter (OTC), which means that they are exchanged between a trader and a broker, rather than through the supervision of an exchange. There can be various types of CFD because of this.

Spread Betting – Spread betting is similar to the use of CFDs in that it is not available everywhere, and it’s done OTC, but otherwise it is a unique way of trading. A spread bet involves wagering money on each percentage point that the price of an asset moves up or down by.

There are many other ways of trading financial assets, but these are the main ones that you’re likely to encounter. Each one can be suited to a different situation, asset or preference for risk and reward.

How to Manage Your Finances

With many people having to tighten their belts, as the cost of living rises but wages stay the same, it’s becoming increasingly important to manage finances properly. Some people are great at it, but others struggle to get the most out of their money. Here are 5 quick tips that you can use to manage your finances better.

  1. Set Goals

It’s always important to have something to work towards, so before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to set some goals for yourself. This will help you to be motivated. Some of the things that you might want to target are the clearing of debts, saving up for something, or tidying up your outgoings. Yourwealth.co.uk is a great resource for finding out about financial products such as mortgages and pensions.

  1. Make a Budget

Budgeting is very important indeed. Without one, you don’t fully know where your money is going, and what’s coming in. Failing to understand this is one of the main reasons for people getting into debt and spending more than they should. A basic spreadsheet is all you need, and it’ll help you work out exactly where you stand each month.

  1. Save

Saving some money is always a good idea, whether there’s something large you need to be able to pay for, or to have an emergency fund. There’s no need to save more than you can afford, and anything that you’ve got tucked away will help. Many people recommend having enough money to live on for three months in the event of an emergency. Don’t be tempted to dip into savings unless you really do need them.

  1. Manage Debts

Debts can be costly, which why it is imperative that you manage them properly. Avoid paying interest where possible, by paying things off early. You should also endeavour to find the lowest interest rates for the debts that you do need. Consider changing credit card providers if one offers a more favourable rate, and always ensure you’re using the cheapest line of credit.

  1. Don’t Overspend

It’s all to easy to spend a lot more money than you really need to. Consider whether or not you really need something before you buy it, and shop around to make sure that you’re getting the best deal on anything you buy, whether it’s a laptop or insurance policy.

What Exactly is A Fixed Term Annuity?

A fixed term annuity is a type of pension product that offers an alternative to the usual method of obtaining an income during your retirement. It’s actually a more flexible option, which is ideal for those people who are looking to keep their options open, because they think that their personal circumstances could change further into their retirement. If you think you might need more money as your health deteriorates, you could be stuck with a fixed income for the rest of your life with other annuities.

The concept is quite simple; you invest a sum from your pension scheme, and then the provider pays you a guaranteed income for a set amount of time, which is generally five or more years. It’s important to note that the government does impose limits on the amount that a pension scheme can pay out per month, though you are generally able to choose what you’d like to be paid within those limits. There may also be benefits to take, should you not live out the full term. If you do reach the end of the agreement, you are eligible to receive a lump sum. Many people choose to reinvest this in a future plan.

It is important to be aware that not all plans are the same. For example, some policies offer the chance for you to convert to an enhanced annuity if your health deteriorates during the term of the annuity, but this is not always the case. If you didn’t have the benefit, you’d have to wait until the scheme had ended to choose a new income product. For this reason, you should always seek advice before buying any product, and you should make sure that you fully understand all of the details.

To conclude, fixed term annuities are a product that will be ideal fro some people, but are not suitable for others. If you want to ensure that your options are open, and don’t want to have to worry about investment performance, then a fixed term annuity could be a very good decision. If however, you want a guaranteed income for the rest of your life, and would prefer not to have to think about buying a pension product in the future, then you may want to look into traditional annuities. You can visit www.nononsenseannuities.co.uk for more information on different types of annuities.