Sep 18, 2017

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Simple Ways to Boost Performance of Your Financial Institution

  • Sep 18, 2017
  • Regardless of economic conditions or competitive position, every organization should always be seeking ways to improve. Given the intense competitive pressures they face, this is especially true for financial institutions. Following is a high-level overview of eight key areas where financial institutions can often make real and significant improvements to their operations.

    1. Technology – leveraging your investment
    The plain fact is that most financial institutions are not getting the ROI they should from their technology spend. Ask yourself these questions:
    • Do you suspect that the organization is not using the full functionality and capacity of your existing systems?
    • Are you struggling to get key systems integrated with each other?
    • Have you postponed implementing key functionalities due to lack of time and resources?
    • Do you continue to use manual processes that were originally meant as temporary stop-gap measures?
    • Are you running outdated versions?
    • Has it been more than a couple of years since you last explored outsourcing?
    If you answered YES to even one of the above questions, there is likely opportunity to improve system functionality and deliver greater ROI. The fact is that most financial institutions are only utilizing between 25 and 30 percent of the capabilities of their current technology for a variety of reasons. Many organizations suffer from phase 2 syndrome, in which systems with impressive potential capabilities are installed but the training and follow through necessary to fully exploit those tools isn't completed. And, it is difficult to keep up with the accelerating evolution of technology. Server consolidation, cloud computing, mobile technology – all of these can offer real advantages to financial institutions when strategically evaluated and implemented.
    Here are some ways to get started evaluating your current technology optimization quotient:
    • Compile a list of all of your key technology systems – both those managed in-house and those outsourced to a data center or purchased as a service
    • Determine the main purpose of each listed system and determine if there is any overlap among the capabilities of the systems
    • Survey system users to see if there is data that they have to re-enter into multiple systems
    2. Less is more - improving your expense management
    Financial institutions sometimes focus efforts to save money in the wrong areas and end up cutting activities important to the organization's mission or value proposition. This can happen for several reasons:
    • Unwillingness to address sacred cows because of internal politics
    • Looking at past successes instead of future opportunities
    • Following benchmarks without appropriate analysis
    Effective expense management starts with a more detailed understanding of your spend throughout the organization. By better understanding how your organization spends money and what is being purchased, you can more easily identify savings opportunities that will have a meaningful bottom line impact. To achieve this, consider these steps.
    • Collect and categorize spend data throughout your organization from sources such as accounts payable, procurement, payroll, contracts, procurement cards, and expense systems.
    • Identify specific categories of spend that could be reduced without significant customer-facing impacts
    • Define and implement specific savings strategies such as supplier consolidation or renegotiation, elimination of non-essential spending, demand or specification management, and tightening of expense policies.
    • Track and report hard dollar savings delivered from each strategy, showing the impact by business unit and service line.
    In addition, consider longer term expense management strategies to help ensure an objective evaluation and to guard against inefficient expense management based on precedent and inertia. Consider using the phase zero-based budget approach when performing annual budgeting and planning. Each department should start at $0 and will have to justify every FTE and dollar spent when creating their budget. This will help to ensure each department is committed to spend management.

    3. More is more – boosting revenue
    Managing expenses is vital, but growth still depends on increasing revenue. What can your financial institution do to grow the top line? Here are some ideas:
    • Review all prices for products and services on a rolling three-year basis, reviewing a third of all products and services annually
    • Compare prices of all core products and services against your competitors at least annually. Increase prices on services prices below market while lowering prices and increasing sales activities on services prices above market.
    • Identify opportunities to create products and services that can drive new revenue streams.
    • Create revenue strategies that lead customers toward desired outcomes. For example, institutions want consumers to switch from paper statements to electronic statements. So announce a price increase for paper statements to cover postage costs. This will drive some consumers to use e-statements and generate additional revenue from those that don't.
    4. Quality – are your measures effective?
    Quality matters. But, as with any effort, so does ROI. In today's economically and competitively challenging environment, all financial institutions should ask themselves some hard questions about quality control efforts.
    Take the CAMELS rating system. Many financial institutions strive to maintain a CAMELS 1 rating. But can you afford to push for that rating in today's market? The right answer depends on your institution's specific circumstance and goals.
    It's important to be able to clearly articulate how your institution measures quality. What objective and subjective measures do you use? How do those measures support your goals? When these measures are laid out, it should be clear as to whether you are measuring the right things and measuring them accurately.
    In addition to quality measures, it's important to indicate where you are investing time and resources to ensure quality. If you are investing in services or activities that are already performing at the top end of the quality scale, you might want to consider diverting some of the investment to other, lower performing areas. Ultimately, it's about ensuring those investments are going where they will make the biggest difference.
    Here are some quality strategies to consider:
    • Focus on baking quality assurance measures into your processes instead of layering quality control steps at the end.
    • Create clear, ongoing channels for communicating quality issues throughout the organization and ensure they are raised to the appropriate level of leadership. Review quality measurements and results with leadership at least quarterly to ensure quality issues are addressed and those quality measurements are still relevant and effective.
    • Communicate quality success stories internally to employees and externally to shareholders and customers through channels like annual reports and newsletters to leverage the benefits of your quality efforts.
    5. Productivity – getting the most from your people
    Every organization preaches productivity, but only those with a culture that supports improving it with clear goals, transparent accountability and real rewards achieve the best results.
    Start by accurately defining current productivity levels at the workgroup and employee levels. Identify how well they are supporting the mission, goals and objectives of your institution and define the qualitative and quantitative measurements to rate them.
    Encourage a culture that questions the status quo in any process. Set clear standards so that all employees know that they must meet defined productivity standards and that they are being measured relative to their peers. For example, tellers can be rated for improved transaction levels, reduced outages and increase in simple sales.
    Set multi-year strategies for significant productivity increases for specific workgroups. Strategically target workgroups where re-engineering needs to occur and the highest potential for cost savings exists.

    6. Service – focusing on what matters
    Effective service is vital to retaining and building customer relationships. But are you focusing on the right services and the right customers? Consider these three questions.
    • Most financial institutions have service standards, but do your customers share your impression of your service? What have you done to find out?
    • How would an increased or decreased level of investment affect service levels – could you be over- or under-investing in service?
    • Are your services focused on the evolving needs of today's market or are they only focused on your historical customer base?
    Here are three strategies to help focus your service efforts:
    • Be sure that every employee understands the services expectations associated with their position and how they are measured. Those expectations must be communicated clearly and updated regularly.
    • Establish clear three- to five-year service improvement targets that directly support your institution's mission and goals by focusing on key markets and that have clear accountability at all levels. For example, set improvement targets for metrics like average products and services per customer, average revenue per customer and customer retention.
    • Use service strategies to drive customer behavior in desired directions in areas like e-statement adoption, ATM usage, and online and mobile banking.
    7. Business development – growing your future
    For many financial institutions, the key to business development is understanding the current market position. Only by understanding how well the current mix of products and services meets customer needs can you make appropriate decisions on where to focus development efforts. Ask yourself these three questions when looking to identify your business development opportunities.
    • Are you the primary financial services provider for your customers or a secondary player supporting their needs? What percentage of the financial services buy (aka "wallet share") do you own in your customer base?
    • Why are some customers choosing other financial institutions for certain needs?
    • How well-trained is your sales force – are they better trained at understanding your products, service and market or at filling out forms and screens?
    Develop sales training programs that enhance both product/services knowledge and general sales skills. At many financial institutions, sales people are not even aware of the full range of products and services offered. Consider developing product/service specialists to accompany sales people on calls involving more complex products and high-value targets. This will help ensure that prospects fully understand the features and benefits of your products and that their questions are answered completely and accurately. Create sales objectives and reward mechanisms for the sale of targeted products to boost penetration into key market segments, but be sure to guard against inappropriate responses to those reward systems, such as sales people steering prospects to the wrong product just to boost their numbers.
    By understanding your customer wants and your sales team needs, you can most effectively target your future business development efforts.

    8. Customer retention – keeping what you have
    Every financial institution is looking to increase business with existing customers. Every lost customer represents more than just the business they were already doing with you. They represent all the other business that you could have sold to them. And the cost and effort of securing new customers far exceeds that of building relationships with your current customer base.
    The BAI states that the average bank loses 13 percent of their customers each year. The first step in customer retention is to assess the size of the problem. Identify your loss rate and see how it compares to this average. Then dive into those customer losses. Identify the number of services they took advantage of and which services specifically. Ask them questions around why they left and what you could do to win them back.

    Once you have evaluated your organization's situation you can better gauge how to improve your customer retention.
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    Sep 15, 2017

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    The TOP 10 Luxury Cars Available Today

  • Sep 15, 2017
  • 1. Jaguar F-type Coupe

    Whether you begin with the Jaguar F-type coupe’s proportions, its muscular shape, or its amazingly purposeful stance, this is a seriously pretty kitty. What about the roadster, you say? It, too, is gorgeous, but the coupe’s plunging roofline and more-defined rear haunches give it the edge. And the experience isn’t merely visual—the F-type R Coupe’s supercharged V-8 soundtrack is pure aural ecstasy.

    2. Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

    Sure, few Alfa Romeos are born ugly, but the mid-engine 4C sprung into this world like an 18-year-old Kate Upton: fully formed and capable of holding your eyeballs in a vice grip. Just stare at its curves, taut lines, and athletic posture, and before long you’ll be mentally transported to a twisty road somewhere in northern Italy. Bellissima. The Spider’s better-resolved, less-arachnidan headlight units give it the nod here, but the same pieces will soon be offered on the coupe, so you can’t really go wrong either way.

    3. Ferrari 458 Italia

    We like the 458 Italia because it’s exactly what a Ferrari should be: race-car tech wrapped in stunning sheetmetal. In this case, the Pininfarina-penned, mid-engine sports car’s aggressive and almost brutally low body suits its knife-edged personality perfectly. We could spend hours poring over the 458’s numerous, carefully designed details—and we have.

    4. Mercedes-Benz S-class Coupe

    In the ultra-luxury realm, size matters—and it’s one of the reasons why the 2015 S-class coupe places so highly in our beauty rankings. This plus-size pinup’s use of proportion and its pervasive, tapering-arc design theme accentuate both its size and grace. The hood seems unbelievably long (a neat visual trick, courtesy of the upright and forward grille), and the three body-side lines add length and catch light like Tinker Bell scooping fairy dust. Did Germans really design this thing?

    5. Aston Martin V8 Vantage

    Wheels pushed to the absolute corners; classic long-hood, short-deck proportions; and clean, graceful sheetmetal: We can only be talking about Aston Martin’s V8 Vantage, a proper sports car through and through. This fifth-place showing comes as Aston continues to introduce special-edition models, which typically signify a car’s impending doom. But as with Jennifer Aniston, this hot car shows age is just a number.

    6. Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4

    We can practically hear your fingers hovering over those keyboards—yes, the Huracán isn’t as outrageous as bulls past, but that’s why it’s on this list. Even ignoring the badge on the stubby hood, this is an exceptionally clean yet exotic shape. Call it the High-Art Doorstop or Subtle Surfacing Perfected—either way, it’s a wonderful thing to behold.

    7. Cadillac ELR

    The ELR plug-in’s non-traditional path to beauty—it possesses far more straight lines than curved—landed it on our list. In spite of its cab-forward, front-drive proportions, the ELR wears perhaps the most finely tuned iteration of Cadillac’s crisp, Art & Science design language. And the shape, classicism be damned, is dramatic, while the jeweled detailing and trim exude class, wealth, and style.

    8. Porsche 911

    Even as the latest Porsche 911 has grown larger and pushed even further upmarket, there’s no denying the iconic sports car looks better for it. The new 911’s longer wheelbase and re-contoured tail lend it a wonderful stance, and the overall proportions still work well with Porsche’s classically curvy design language and the 911’s unique, tail-heavy profile. And we can’t talk about the 911 without mentioning those hips—they practically beg you to grab hold and . . . okay, we’ll stop.

    9. Land Rover Range Rover

    The Range Rover makes this list because of its pure surfaces. The previous-generation Range Rover was a rectilinear ode to the T-square, and while it was quite handsome, the new one makes it look blocky and cheap by comparison. We like the way Land Rover introduced a subtle curve to the door sections, not to mention the body’s more pronounced rearward taper. The more dynamic surfacing elevates the signature look to a new, even classier level.

    10. Audi R8

    The aging, soon-to-be-replaced R8 among today’s most beautiful cars? Probably controversial. But the R8 remains every bit the design icon it was when it debuted nearly a decade ago. It’s telling that the car still looks like nothing else out there, with a semi-rounded surface theme that would probably look ridiculous on anything else. But paired with Audi’s delicate headlights and taillights, simple grille work, and that roofline, it makes for one gorgeous soon-to-be-retiree.

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    Getting Electricity in Cambodia

  • Below is a detailed summary of the procedures, time and cost required for a business to obtain an electricity connection for a newly constructed building in Cambodia.
    This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 190 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2016.
    Procedure
    1 Submit application to Electricite Du Cambodge and await estimate
    Agency: Electricite Du Cambodge (EDC)
    The application should be submitted in person to the Distribution Department of Electricite Du Cambodge. The application should include the following documents: a certificate of property title (a photocopy is sufficient and there is no need for notarization) and a certificate of company registration. The client has to fill a form specifying the power needed and the list of equipment in the warehouse.

    There are no official fees for the application. The time for this procedure includes an estimate for negotiation
    2 Receive site inspection by Electricite Du Cambodge
    Agency: Electricite Du Cambodge (EDC)
    The Distribution Department of EDC sends an inspector to check the site and the area. After the inspection the EDC will do the assessment and quotation of the prices.
    3 Await clearance from Electricite Du Cambodge and sign contract
    Agency: Distribution Department Electricite Du Cambodge (EDC)
    The consumer should obtain a clearance from the Distribution Department which has to assess whether EDC has enough capacity. The clearance is issued by the Managing Director of the Distribution Department. Once the clearance is issued the applicant signs a contract and pays fees
    4 Await completion of external works, meter installation and final connection
    Agency: Electricite Du Cambodge (EDC) and Electrical Contractor
    For an additional load of 140kVA installation of a transformer for 160 kVA will be required. The external connection works are carried out by EDC. The meter gets installed at the same time as when the connection is done. If there is a road crossing it takes EDC additional 2 weeks to obtain an excavation permit
    The security deposit has to be paid and is returned upon the termination of the power consumption. 

    There is no supervision / inspection of the internal wiring before the final connection. EDC is responsible only for the external connection. The customer's private electrical engineer is in charge of the internal wiring. There is no requirement that the electrician must be licensed, so they can practice without a license. However, EDC is de facto the licencor of electrical engineers because they provide training courses. Attendees of this training receive a certificate that EDC recognizes. There is no other agency that provides the courses
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    1

    Universities implementing their own scholarship programs for developing countries »

  • A notable number of Universities have their own scholarship schemes intended for developing regions/countries aside from the ones they administer in behalf of donor institutions.   You can find a handful of these Universities in this list.

    Universities in Europe

    Belgium: Ghent University Scholarships
    Ghent University offers a wide array of scholarships specifically for developing countries. It offers scholarships for
    Training, Masters, PhD, and Post Doctoral programmes for developing country students.
    Ireland: Dublin Institute of Technology Scholarships
    The Dublin Institute of Technology currently provides  international scholarships for international students from 
    selected agencies in Mexico, Oman, UAE, Tanzania, Kazakhstan, and Kuwait.
    Netherlands: Maastricht University Scholarships
    Maastricht University sponsors a number of international scholarships for student from the following regions:
    Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America.
    Netherlands: University of Groningen Scholarships
    Several scholarships are available for international students who are motivated to study Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programmes, as well as for exchanges, short courses at the university. Besides scholarships awarded by the University of Groningen, a number of grants awarded by the Dutch government, the EU and (inter)national organizations, such as World Bank or the Ford Foundation, can be used for study or research at the University of Groningen as well.
    Netherlands: University of Twente Scholarships
    University of Twente administers a number of international scholarships for students from Asia, South America, and Central America.
    Italy: University of Pavia Scholarships
    The University of Pavia (UNIPV), in order to promote international cooperation with the Developing Countries, offers scholarships for selected Masters Studies at the University of Pavia or at the Institute for Advanced Study of Pavia (IUSS).
    UK: Cardiff University Scholarships
    Cardiff University offers scholarships for international students from  Africa, Arabic Countries, Australia, Bermuda/Cayman Islands, Canada, China (P.R.), Colombia, India/Indian Subcontinent, Japan, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, USA, Vietnam.
    UK: London South Bank University Scholarships
    London South Bank University offers full scholarships for students from commonwealth countries including African commonwealth countries. It also offers partial scholarships for students from priority countries (Bangladesh, China, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, and Vietnam).
    UK: London Met Scholarships
    The ISH/London Met Scholarships is jointly run by International Students House (ISH) and London Metropolitan University. The scholarships are awarded to outstanding students from selected developing countries who wish to pursue an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at the University.
    UK: Roehampton University Scholarships
    The University has a number of scholarships available for international students on full-time, taught undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.  Scholarships are specifically available for students from China, South Korea, India, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey, Malaysia, USA, Norway, Singapore, US, and UK-based international students  in their first year of study.
    UK: Sheffield Hallam University Scholarships
    Sheffield Hallam University offers international scholarships for Non-EU students and specific scholarships for ASEAN member countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam).
    UK: University of Bedforshire Scholarships
    University of Bedforshire offers scholarships to international Non-EU students from different countries.
    UK: University of Birmingham Scholarships
    University of Birmingham has scholarships available for students from the following regions:
    Africa, Asia Pacific, Indian Subcontinent, Middle East, Russia, South America.
    UK: University of Cambridge Scholarships
    The University of Cambridge has special scholarships schemes for students from developing countries.  The schemes include
    Cambridge Shared Scholarships, Shell Centenary Chevening Cambridge Scholarships, Shell Centenary Cambridge Scholarships, and Developing World Education Fund Scholarships.
    UK: University of East Anglia Scholarships
    The University of East Anglia offers a number of full and partial scholarships in international development courses for students from low-income countries.
    UK: University of Edinburgh Scholarships
    The University of Edinburgh offers a number of international scholarships for students from
    Africa, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, Middle East, Myanmar, Russia, Southern Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, and Vietnam.
    UK: University of Nottingham Scholarships
    Through the Developing Solutions Scholarship Fund, The University of Nottingham is offering one of the largest international scholarship programmes in the world for developing countries of the Commonwealth and to non-Commonwealth Africa.  The Countries outside Africa and India also covered by the Developing Solutions international scholarship scheme are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Kiribati, Malaysia, Maldives,Montserrat, Nauru, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, St Helena, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tristan da Cunha, Turks and Caicos, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Western Samoa
    UK: University of Salford Scholarships
    University of Salford offers various scholarship programs for  students from
    Sub-saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Middle East & North Africa, Latin America, and East Asia.
    UK: University of Oxford Scholarships
    University of Westminster offers a variety of scholarships for students from Africa and Asia.
    UK: University of Westminster Scholarships
    The University of Westminster offers full international scholarships and full tuition wavers for students from developing countries  in undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Aside from this, they administer various scholarships for students from selected regions (Eastern Europe, South Asia, Central America, Latin America, Carribean Region, Middle East, North Africa) and/or countries  (Gambia, Suriname, Guyana, Tanzania, China, India, East Timor, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala, Panama, Bulgaria, Croatia, Russia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania or Turkey, Former Soviet Union States) .
    UK: University of West England Scholarships
    The University of the West of England, Bristol offers more than £100,000 worth of scholarships for international students  each year.  For developing country students, they have 3 scholarship programs: Global Student Scholarship, Millennium Development Scholarship and Professor Arthur Li Development Scholarships.

    Universities in United States & Canada

    USA: East-West Center Scholarships
    East-west Center offers international graduate degree scholarships for students from Asia, Pacific Islands,  and Russia.
    USA: Harvard University Scholarships
    Harvard University offers specific scholarships for international students from Argentina, Brazil, China, Columbia, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Pacific Islands.
    USA: NYU Wagner Scholarships
    NYU Wagner has special scholarship programs for Africa, Kazakhstan and Soviet Union’s 15 Newly Independent State (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan)
    Canada: University of Alberta Scholarships
    The University of Alberta International administers specific scholarship programs for students from 
    ChileChinaIndiaMexico, and Vietnam.

    Universities in Australia & New Zealand

    Australia: Griffith University Scholarships
    Griffith University offers international scholarships for students from China, India, Indonesia, Iran, and Malaysia.
    Australia: Macquarie University Scholarships
    Macquarie University implements scholarships for postgraduate coursework for students from Columbia and Mexico.
    Australia: University of Western Australia Scholarships
    University of Western Australia has special scholarship schemes for China and India for postgraduate research studies.
    New Zealand: University of Auckland Scholarships
    The University of Auckland administer country-specific scholarships for students from Tonga, Chile, and Pakistan.
    New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington Scholarships
    Victoria University of Wellington offers International Undergraduate Fees Scholarships to students from Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
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