VA lender donates to help vets with spinal injuries

One of the largest independent mortgage lenders in the country has pitched in to help with the rehabilitation of disabled military veterans.

VA lender Guild Mortgage recently launched the Guild Giving Foundation to administrate its charitable and philanthropic initiatives. As its first major commitment, Guild donated $116,000 to the Infinite Hero Foundation, an organization that helps provide access to rehabilitation for disabled military veterans. At Guild’s request, the donation was used to purchase a wearable robotic exoskeleton from ReWalk Robotics. The device is designed for people with spinal cord injuries.

The ReWalk allows those with spinal cord injuries to stand, walk, and even climb up and down stairs. Guild’s exoskeleton was donated to the VA San Diego Healthcare System Spinal Cord Injury Center, according to a press release.

“Rather than directing this exoskeleton to one single individual, this unit will serve hundreds of patients who would otherwise be wheelchair-bound,” said Jeff Tarbell, regional vice president at Guild. “We wanted to honor those who made the biggest sacrifices for our country, by giving back with a gift that makes a huge difference in their lives.”

Guild offers a wide variety of residential loans. It also specializes in helping active duty and retired military personnel to secure VA loans, which provide 100% financing and flexible qualifying standards.

Robbins plots path to financial freedom

You might ask yourself why you would need a financial freedom playbook from Tony Robbins.

Yes, as a life success coach he is globally famous, but in the world of investments — not so much.

But hold on. In the opening pages of his new book Unshakeable, none other than Alan Greenspan, the former longstanding Fed Reserve chairman, refers to Mr Robbins as the best economic moderator he has ever worked with.

“His mission to bring insights from the world’s greatest financial minds to the average investor is truly inspiring,” he added, and he is not alone in his praise. There are similar words from some of today’s most famed investors and financial moguls, among them Steve Forbes, Paul Tudor Jones II, Carl Ichan, and Ray Dalio.

Unshakeable is hot property. It currently tops bestseller lists, including The New York Times.

Mr Robbins has previously written three books. The most recent was 2014’s million-selling Money Master the Game, his first fully focused tilt at the world of personal finance and investing. Stretching to a mighty 680 pages, in it he interviewed 50 of the world’s most successful investors, including Warren Buffett.

The aim of that book was to help readers secure financial freedom. With Unshakeable, Mr Robbins has essentially distilled the information into a more concise read — around 220 pages — and added key updates.

His mission is to help the average investor win the game of investing and gain financial freedom. The mechanics of doing so, as he explains, are surprisingly simple and largely intuitive.

Core advice includes avoiding excessive fees, investing in index funds, and diversifying assets in order to be in a position to pick up bargains when a market correction or crash occurs. Regarding the latter, this is where the book’s title springs; the ability to be unshakeable no matter what happens in the economy, stock market or real estate, and to have “unwavering confidence even in the midst of the storm” that you have financial security.

Mr Robbins highlights data that shows that trying to time the market, or even sit on the sidelines, are costly strategies compared to being an investor and sitting tight when stocks go south.

Unshakeable is an appealing read. It is written in an engaging style, a hallmark of Mr Robbins as a writer and as a life success coach. The concepts are explained well and pertinent data and background is provided where necessary.

The book features a segment written by Peter Mallouk, the only man to be ranked the number one financial adviser in the US for three consecutive years by Barron’s. Mr Mallouk and Mr Robbins are partners in Creative Planning, an SEC registered investment adviser, a disclosure helpfully stated at the beginning of Unshakeable, and repeated elsewhere.

Mr Robbins concludes on what is, for him, familiar territory — the psychology of wealth and a discussion on real wealth, the art of fulfilment, gratitude and how, as he puts it: “The secret to living is giving.”

During the next eight years, in partnership with Feeding America, Mr Robbins aims to provide a billion meals for those in need. All profits from Unshakeable are being donated to Feeding America.

Unshakeable is published by Simon amp; Schuster

UAE personal loans amount to AED349 billion in February

ABU DHABI, 21st March, 2017 (WAM) — Total volume of personal loans in the UAE increased to AED 349.9 billion in February 2017, according to a UAE Central Bank report issued on Tuesday, which affirmed the banks continual contribution to the overall wellbeing and growth of the economy.

By providing personal and corporate finance facilities, as well as creation of jobs, the UAE banks continue to play a dynamic role in establishing a robust economic development process through the mobilisation of financial resources, ensuring the required financing for the support of the national economy and creating the required investments, the report added.

The total bank reserves at the Central Bank have risen to AED258.4 billion, accordg to the report, which featured a detailed coverage of banking sector indices in the country.

Alt-Lending Reshuffles, Auto Loan Alarm Bells And HHGregg Goes Bust

For those who are fans of big twists, stunning reversals and spectacular admissions of defeat, last week’s news cycle came as a sort of Christmas in March.

No, we are not talking about healthcare, politics or whatever it is that happened on Capitol Hill.

Our job in the Data Dive is to take you through last week’s high drama outings –of which, remarkably, there were many in payments and financial services. Alt lending, particularly marketplace lending, looks like it is about to become a much smaller neighborhood. The auto-lending market continues to kill canaries in those coal mines at an alarming rate. And the retail death cycle mows on with HHGregg officially declaring bankruptcy and Sears more or less admitting to its shareholders that the same fate may soon befall them.

So how did the stormy weather set in so quick?

The Marketplace Lending Meltdown

Prosper Marketplace had some grim news to share with the world this week: net losses for 2016 have more than quadrupled.

All in all, Prosper lost $118.7 million last year, up from $26 million in 2015. According to the in-house explanation, those losses are primarily derived from lower loan volumes, higher costs that are also attributed to legal settlements and restructuring efforts.

In other words, the trifecta of doom, if you are lender.

Loan volume seems to have taken the biggest hit, falling a full 41 percent to $2.2 billion. That slowdown did not come from lack of borrower interest, but from money managers “pausing or significantly reducing their purchases of the company’s credits,” according to the filing.

Since Prosper makes its money charging fees for the unsecured personal loans it arranges, revenue has suffered, falling by one third to $132.9 million.

And Prosper isn’t alone in losing money in marketplace lending — OnDeck reported $85.5 million in annual losses for 2016, and LendingClub is looking at $146 million.

OnDeck also made the news this week through speculation that it has become an acquisition target for rival non-bank (but not primarily marketplace) SMB lender Kabbage.

OnDeck Capital has a market capitalization of $321 million at present, meaning it is a whole lot less expensive than it once was.

OnDeck has seen its share price drop 80 percent since first going public in 2014, and, as of February of this year, had posted five straight quarters of losses. Unfortunately more losses are widely expected to come. OnDeck has already publicly noted that it has been forced to set aside additional funds for future losses after determining its calculations in its internal models were off.

The rumor now circulating is that Atlanta-based Kabbage is looking to raise equity funding for the express purpose of taking on OnDeck’s baggage. As of yet, no official word has come down from either firm –sources that requested anonymity have told themedia that the negotiations are ongoing and confidential.

Auto Lending Alarm Bells

Auto lending could be heading for a breakdown.

The latest data out of Ally Financial indicates that growth in the auto lending segment will come in between 5 percent and 15 percent of adjusted earnings in 2017.

That is not quite a full downgrade –their January estimate was targeting 15 percent –but the soft downgrade was certainly eye-catching.

Particularly when combined with the drop-off in the price of used-cars, which drives down the profitability of auto leases since cars turned over at the end of a lease period now have less residual value to offer.

The National Automobile Dealers Association indicates that its used-car price index has dropped 8 percent from a year ago and now sits at its lowest level in seven years.

Also adding to general feelings of unease was Ally’s data that subprime and near prime loans are showing the most weakness and the highest level of defaults –and that those levels continue to climb.

As this is one of several concern reports out of the auto-lending and sub-prime lending segment in the last six months, it is a market segment worth watching.

So Many Retailers, so Many Plugs to Pull

As Queen sang, another one bit the dust this week in the world of retail.

Appliance and electronics retail giant HHGregg publically revealed its decision to end a non-binding term sheet agreement with an unnamed organization to buy out all assets via a Chapter 11 reorganization under the United States Bankruptcy Code.

Back on March 6, HHGregg filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and, without a buyer in line, it has no choice but to move forward with the filing.

In the meantime, HHGregg has interim approval for the company’s $80 million debtor-in-possession loan facility to help continue to run business as usual through the sale and bankruptcy filing process.

“We have received strong interest from third parties interested in buying some or all of the company’s assets. We and our advisors continue to work with potential acquirers to help them understand our business model for future growth and our value proposition,” noted HHGregg’s CEO, Robert J. Riesbeck.

Sears, as of this week, is still around, but its most recent regulatory filing indicates strongly that it is warming up for its final aria.

“Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” Sears said in the annual report for the fiscal year that ended Jan. 28.

Sears fall off retail’s cliff in recent years has been steep, although firms have certainly worked hard to keep the ship afloat. It has already spun off some its more high-value stores into a real estate investment trust and sold off some of its still-valuable brands like Craftsman to Stanley Black amp; Decker for $900 million earlier this year.

Sears has also raised debt from its CEO Edward Lampert’s hedge fund to deal with the slump and to cut costs by $1 billion and reduce debt and pension obligations by at least $1.5 billion over the course of 2017. It also has said it plans to find ways to unlock value across a range of assets.

But Sears’ current debt load is $4.16 billion, and it so far has not managed to find a solution to drive consumers back into their stores. The reality of the potential dead endof that situation is beginning to really sink in.

So, to recap: alt lending is re-organizing, auto lending is having an ever-proliferating series of issues and retail is quickly shifting into the quickly adapting and the no-longer-around.

If it sounds like a lot to keep up with –and a little bit worrisome –it could be worse. It could be healthcare.

Meet three women who have turned their Instagram into financial freedom

There was a time when the word businesswoman conjured up images of power dressing, corporate lunches and dull offices. But thanks to social media, successful businesswomen these days are just as likely to be snapping selfies, drinking green smoothies and travelling the world.

Instagram has 600 million monthly users and around 60 per cent of those are female. One in five Australians use the powerful image-sharing platform, and this reach means many brands pay popular users, or influencers, big bucks to endorse products. Some influencers have thousands or even millions of followers.

Influencer marketing has exploded because [influencers] have a very intimate relationship with their audiences, says Anthony Svirskis, chief executive of Tribe, a company that brings influencers and brands together. That [relationship] is hugely valuable for brands that want to tap into these conversations.

While celebrities tend to be the most followed people on Instagram, a 2017 study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior found non-traditional celebrities such as bloggers, YouTube personalities and the Instafamous have more influence on young females when it comes to purchasing decisions.

Influencers must clearly identify sponsored content, according to a new provision in the Australian Association of National Advertisers Code of Ethics, but Svirskis doesnt think this will have a big impact.

Theyre just guidelines that require #ad to be placed on influencer posts which are paid for by brands, Svirskis says. The reality is the best influencers have been doing this for a while. Our data shows it makes very little difference to engagement or audience sentiment when an influencer discloses a sponsored post.

If a sponsored post can earn an influencer anywhere from $200 to $15,000, who could blame them for ditching the corporate dream and going after #Instasuccess?

We meet three business-minded Australian women whose Instagram accounts have given them financial freedom beyond their wildest dreams.

SJANA EARP Yogi, digital influencer, 22 1.2 million Instagram followers @sjanaelise???

EMIR Exemptions for Central Banks in Six Countries

The European Commission published a report on the international treatment of Central Banks and public entities managing public debt with regard to OTC derivatives transactions. The European Market Infrastructure Regulation imposes clearing, reporting and risk mitigation obligations for derivatives. EU central banks and EU public bodies managing public debt are exempt from EMIR. The European Commission may exempt central banks and public bodies managing public debt from other countries following analysis of the international treatment of the relevant entities in a particular country. In the first of these reviews conducted in 2013, the Commission added central banks and public bodies responsible for the management of debt in the United States and Japan to the list of exempted bodies through a Commission Delegated Regulation.

The Commission has concluded in its second report that central banks and public bodies managing debt in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, Singapore and Switzerland should also be exempt from certain parts of EMIR. These new exemptions will come into effect once the new Commission Delegated Regulation is published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Commission will continue to monitor the progress of other countries in implementing similar requirements for OTC derivatives.

View the Commissions report.

Fintech startup Qbera launches operations

Qbera founder and CEO Aditya Kumar said, The challenges faced by salaried individuals in availing unsecured personal loans are highly unwarranted. Borrowers not only face an arduous process and long approval and disbursal time, but their loan applications are often rejected on arbitrary grounds, such as if their employers are not listed with the bank, or if they live in shared accommodation. With this partnership with RBL Bank, we intend to include segments which have been excluded from unsecured lending by a majority of the existing players, while providing all our customers a transparent and seamless experience.

HDFC Bank says personal loan portfolio clipping at 30%

HDFC Bank’s personal loans are growing by 30 per cent, courtesy a quick disbursement product launched recently, and delinquencies are also trending down, a senior official said today.

“Personal loans are growing at 30 per cent and there is a downward trend in delinquencies,” its head for unsecured loans Arvind Kapil told reporters, after launching an online loans against securities product.

Credy looks to digitize personal lending in India

Lending platformCredyis looking to change the way people gain access to personal loans in India. The company, which is currently a part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2017 batch, is digitizing the process and improving access to capital for residents by opening up peer-to-peer loans to a wider group of borrowers and lenders.

Credy is riding the wave of a few major reforms in India that will makeit easier to identify applicants, determine their creditworthiness and increase digital banking. The first was the establishment and adoption of the Aadhaar ID system, which is the world’s largest biometric ID system with more than a billion Indian residents enrolled.

The second major change was India’sdemonetization plan, which was enacted late last year and took more than 85 percent of the country’s currency out of circulation. While there are still questions about the effectiveness or implementation of the plan, it is undoubtedly moving India from a cash-based society to one that relies on digital banking and money transfer.

With all that in mind, Credy has emerged to improve personal lending ina market that is worth $50 billion and is growing at a 30 percent rate. Thatmight sound like a huge opportunity, but it could be even bigger — according to co-founder and CEO Pratish Gandhi, only one in seven India residents currently have access to credit.

The team at Credybelieves it can expand that number dramatically with an application process that is entirely digital and linked to a user’s digital ID. Unlikethe current lending system, which reliesheavily on paperwork and can take several days or weeks to process, Credycan give instant approval on a loanafter the applicant provides some initial information.