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4 reasons your company, no matter how small, should hire a financial advisor

(FINANCE NEWS) Small business owners and self-employed professionals alike all too rarely take advantage of a resource tailor-made to avoid both Chapter 11 and being conquered by Persia: expert financial advisor help.

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financial advisor

Rollin’ in it

Money! That’s what I want.

Ever since Croesus of Lydia went wading in the Pactolus, we humans have been rolling with the root of all evil. And ever since he lost it all, got his country stomped out and died a cautionary tale, we’ve worried ourselves sick over same. Entrepreneurs and business owners above all live with the possibility of a single financial misstep ending their careers with a whimper.

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Why you need a financial advisor

Ain’t necessarily so. Small business owners and self-employed professionals alike all too rarely take advantage of a resource tailor-made to avoid both Chapter 11 and being conquered by Persia: expert financial help. A financial advisor may sound like a luxury for the super-rich, but in practice, having a team member tasked to manage the money and make it work is smart for the wealthy, but indispensable for the up-and-coming.

Here follow four ways a dedicated financial advisor can enhance the prospects of startups, small business owners, and even self-employed professionals like your humble narrator.

One

They know what they’re doing (and you may not).
Let’s be real: entrepreneurship takes ego. Nobody hats up and starts a business unless they believe they’re smarter, tougher, and more capable than their cube-comfortable peers. We know what we’re doing. We don’t like to admit there are things we can’t handle. But the plain fact is, when small businesses fail, and 4 out of 5 do, it’s usually about money management, or more accurately lack of same.

I guarantee that 4 out of 5 thought they knew what they were doing too, up to the exact moment they found out they didn’t. It’s not about lack of experience, either: per the Corporation For Enterprise Development 37 percent of experienced business owners fall short of expenses. Hiring a financial advisor means an extra expert eye on the thorniest, most treacherous aspect of small business ownership.

Two

They’ll plug you in.
Networking is everything. Everybody knows that. Running a business always comes down to how well you work with your fellow h. sapiens. But even if you’ve got your people skills on lock, how do you get past your threshold? You can be as pleasant and personable as the day is long, but unless you’re God – you’re not God; you’re probably aware of that, but I did mention entrepreneurs and ego – you don’t actually know everybody.

Financial advisors do. Like other consultants, financial advisors invariably have a phonebook’s worth of leads and contacts in their area of expertise. Want to expand the scope of your business? Knowing what everybody is doing at all times is literally a financial advisor’s job. They have an in with everybody. They have to. That knowledge alone is worth the money.

Three

They cross-pollinate.
“Cross-pollinate” is the term used by Barry Glassman of Forbes in his superb article on the value of advice to small business owners. The huge list of contacts maintained by financial advisors doesn’t just mean new business opportunities. It means new ideas from the whole scope of your industry, a chance at ground-floor involvement with… pretty much everything worth your time.

Four

You succeed, they succeed.
There are several compensation models for financial advisors in the United States, but they all have one thing in common: they get paid better when you get paid better. For fee-only advisors, that rule is absolute: they are compensated solely by the client, usually as a percentage of assets under management, and have a fiduciary duty to act only in the client’s best interest.

Fee-only is comparatively new: financial advisors have traditionally been compensated with commission on the sale of financial instruments. But commission-based advisors aren’t Snidely Whiplash twirling his mustache either. For one thing, they’re by definition cheaper: no fee, just commission on what you personally choose to buy. The lower price makes the commission model well suited to accounts that require comparatively little oversight, either because they’re not particularly active or because you have the financial expertise to handle most management tasks yourself (but refer to entry 1!). Dubious doings aren’t unknown, particularly the dread “churn“, but no more so than in other financial professions.

As with money itself, the question of advice comes down to poor old Croesus of Lydia. Remember him? King of Turkey, literally invented money, and he ended up set on fire and only extinguished because he screamed something interesting. Know how he got there?

Didn’t listen to the right advice.

No reason to fail

Expertise matters. Specialty matters. Having enough hours in the day to get the work done most definitely matters. Every one of those things gets better with the service of a reliable advisor. That’s how you conquer the world.

#FinancialAdvisor

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Tech News

Tired of Zoom? NVIDIA announces AI-powered contender

(TECH NEWS) NVIDIA’s AI-based video technology offers helpful features like face alignment, gaze correction, and noise cancellation to optimize video calls.

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Woman on video call with coffee, NVIDIA video conference tech coming soon

For the most part, Zoom has dominated video conferencing, but it might soon face competition thanks to NVIDIA. Recently, NVIDIA announced its new GPU-Accelerated AI Platform, NVIDIA Maxine, that it says will “vastly improve streaming quality” and offer incredible AI-powered features.

NVIDIA Maxine is a cloud-native video-streaming AI platform so data doesn’t need to be processed on local servers. Instead, NVIDIA’s servers process the information so users can use the cool AI features without having to purchase any new specialized hardware.

“NVIDIA Maxine integrates our most advanced video, audio, and conversational AI capabilities to bring breakthrough efficiency and new capabilities to the platforms that are keeping us all connected,” said Ian Buck, vice president and general manager of Accelerated Computing at NVIDIA, in a press release.

Maxine’s “breakthrough efficiency” can be seen in its AI-based video compression technology. The AI tech reduces the bandwidth used on a call to one-tenth of the H.264 video compression standard without compromising video quality. In doing so, less data is transmitted back and forth so slow internet connection and limited bandwidth won’t be a problem anymore. Hopefully, this helps bring an end to the dreaded “you have a poor connection, blah, blah, blah” message.

Some of the features that make NVIDIA Maxine standout are face alignment and gaze correction. These two features allow for a better face-to-face conversation. For instance, people will no longer appear to be staring off into outer space. With face alignment, the software will automatically adjust people so it looks like they are facing each other. And, with gaze correction, it will help simulate eye contact. According to NVIDIA, “These features help people stay engaged in the conversation rather than looking at their camera.”

Also, if developers choose to do so, they can allow users to choose an animated avatar. These avatars offer a realistic feel because they are driven by a person’s “voice and emotional tone in real-time.” Plus, the auto frame feature automatically follows the person in the frame so they are always in view. This is great when you’re doing a presentation or demo.

The feature that stands out to me is the noise cancellation filter that removes background noise. Anyone with a toddler or dog will be a big fan of that one! Continually pressing the mute and unmute button could finally become a thing of the past.

Maxine also has a “conversational AI”. With NVIDIA Jarvis (not to be confused with Iron Man’s Just A Rather Very Intelligent System), developers can integrate virtual assistants to take notes, set action items, and answer questions in human-like voices. Additionally, this AI offers translations and closed captions all in real-time.

By taking a look at what NVIDIA Maxine has to offer, there is no denying Zoom has a lot of work to do if it wants to stay on top. Although it did dabble with real-time captioning back in June, Zoom’s offering was very limited. And, Maxine is on its way up.

Early access to the NVIDIA Maxine platform is available to Computer vision AI developers, software partners, startups, and computer manufacturers creating audio and video apps and services.

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Tech News

How psychologists are using VR to profile your personality

(TECH NEWS) VR isn’t just for gamers. Psychologists are using it to research how people emotionally respond to threats. But does it come at the cost of privacy?

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Man using VR in personality test.

When you put on a VR headset for the first time, most people have that ‘whoa’ moment. You’ve entered an enchanting otherworldly place that seems real, but you know it isn’t. You slowly tilt your head up to see a nicely lit blue sky. You turn your head around to see mountains and trees that weren’t there before. And, you finally look down to stare at your hands. Replaced by bright-colored gloves, you flex your hands to form a fist, then jazz hands, and back.

Playing VR games is exciting and interesting for a lot of gamers, and you would (or maybe wouldn’t) be surprised to know that psychologists think so, too. According to The Conversation, psychologists have started researching how people emotionally respond to potential threats using VR.

Do you think this is weird or cool? I’ll let the following help you decide.

So, why did psychologists think using VR would help them in their research?

In earlier studies, psychologists tested “human approach-avoidance behavior”. By mixing real and virtual world elements, they “observed participants’ anxiety on a behavioral, physiological, and subjective level.” Through their research, they found that anxiety could be measured, and “VR provokes strong feelings of fear and anxiety”.

In this case, how did they test emotional responses to potential threats?

For the study, 34 participants were recruited to assess how people have a “tendency to respond strongly to negative stimuli.” Using a room-scaled virtual environment, participants were asked to walk across a grid of translucent ice blocks suspended 200 meters above the ground. Participants wore head-mounted VR displays and used handheld controllers.

Also, sensors placed on the participants’ feet would allow them to interact with the ice blocks in 2 ways. By using one foot, they could test the block and decide if they wanted to step on it. This tested risk assessment. By using both feet, the participants would commit to standing on that block. This tested the risk decision.

The study used 3 types of ice blocks. Solid blocks could support the participant’s weight and would not change in appearance. Crack blocks could also support the participant’s weight, but interacting with it would change its color. Lastly, Fall blocks would behave like Crack blocks, but would shatter completely when stepped on with 2 feet. And, it would lead to a “virtual fall”.

So what did they find?

After looking at the data, researchers found out that by increasing how likely an ice block would disintegrate, the “threat” for the participant also increased. And, of course, participants’ behavior was more calculated as more cracks appeared along the way. As a result, participants opted to test more blocks before stepping on the next block completely.

But, what else did they find?

They found that data about a person’s personality trait could also be determined. Before the study, each participant completed a personality questionnaire. Based on the questionnaire and the participants’ behavior displayed in the study researchers were able to profile personality.

During the study, their main focus was neuroticism. And, neuroticism is one of the five major personality traits used to profile people. In other words, someone’s personality could now also be profiled in a virtual world.

So, it all comes down to data and privacy. And yes, this isn’t anything new. Data collection through VR has been a concern for a long while. Starting this month, Facebook is requiring all new Oculus VR owners to link their Facebook account to the hardware. Existing users will be grandfathered in until 2023.

All in all, VR in the medical field isn’t new, and it has come a long way. The question is whether the risk of our personality privacy is worth the cost.

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Tech News

Failure to launch: Quibi’s short-form platform is short-lived

(TECH NEWS) Despite receiving major funding from big players, Quibi is shutting down only 6 months after launch. What led to their downfall?

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A mobile phone open to Quibi in feminine hands with decorated nails.

Only 6 short months after launching its platform, Quibi has decided to pull the plug.

The mobile-only streaming service’s vision was to create short-form videos with higher production value than that of competitors like YouTube or TikTok. Having enlisted big names such as Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Jennifer Lopez, and Lebron James, Quibi had high hopes for what the service could accomplish. In an open letter posted to Medium, founding company executives Jeffery Katzenberg and Meg Whitman cited timing and the idea of mobile-first premium storytelling not being strong enough as the primary reasons for shuttering.

“As entrepreneurs our instinct is to always pivot, to leave no stone unturned — especially when there is some cash runway left — but we feel that we’ve exhausted all our options.” The letter stated, “As a result we have reluctantly come to the difficult decision to wind down the business, return cash to our shareholders, and say goodbye to our colleagues with grace. We want you to know we did not give up on this idea without a fight.”

The move is somewhat surprising considering that back in March the service managed to raise an additional $750 million in funding, bringing its total fundraising to $1.75 billion. At the time, Quibi CFO Ambereen Toubassy had touted that the second-round of cash had provided the organization with “a strong cash runway,” that would give Quibi “the financial wherewithal to build content and technology that consumers embrace.”

Originally called “New TV”, the initial investors of the service included Hollywood titans Disney, NBCUniversal, and Sony Pictures Entertainment just to name a few. While the amount of money raised was minuscule compared to services like Netflix, it was still an impressive start for an untested idea.

The service did itself no favors, however, in trying to gain new subscribers. Along with being mobile-only, the service started at $4.99 per month for an ad-supported subscription, only slightly cheaper from more robust offerings like Hulu and ESPN+. While you could pay $7.99 per month to get rid of ads, you were also forbidden from taking screenshots, limiting the ability of content on the service to go viral.

Quibi was also financing content, meaning that ownership would revert back to creators after just a few short years. This means building a growing library of content owned by the service was an uphill battle from the start.

“This was flawed from the start, down to the idea of financing content and then giving it back to the creators after a few years.” Said a veteran producer who refused to work with the company, “There is anger in town right now, because it just makes it harder to raise money.”

Quibi is set to be inaccessible starting around the beginning of December, according to a post on the company’s support site. While much of the service’s content will not be missed, one still wonders what might have been had the company managed to gain some traction, or the COVID-19 pandemic had not come to pass. Either way, Quibi’s business partners may want to read up on some of these tips as they discuss where things should go from here.

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