The Benefits of Brochure Printing for Real Estate

If they have an appealing look, contain useful and interesting information and respect quality standards, brochure printing for real estate is a powerful marketing tool in promoting your business. Its role is to promote the visual features of real estate properties and convince potential clients that they make good investment choices. Besides helping you sell more properties, there are other major benefits.

Improving Your Credibility

Brochures are required in almost every kind of business. They usually describe the services and products that the company provides; focusing on their uniqueness in order to attract and retain customers. This is why choosing professional brochure printing services can make the difference between a successful and popular brochure rather than one that reflects poorly on the business.

Saving Your Time

A similar option to brochure printing is to send individual letters to potential customers and individuals who have previously shown interest in benefiting from the services of your company and buying a property. Nevertheless, using brochures means saving time because all you have to do is to collect the necessary information and insert it into a single material. However, you should focus on making it appealing and make the business logo the central point of the front cover. Brochure printing for real estate is an effective tool because clients can take it with them and read it at a later time, without any pressure. Moreover, they can be available in different locations, making your real estate business more visible.

Reinforcing Advertising

Professional brochure printing for real estate transmits the essential features of your business to a targeted market. Thus, it represent the identity of your company and creates a bond between your business and its market. It also focuses on the uniqueness of your services. This persuades the customers to rely on your services in order to find the perfect real estate for their needs.

Reflecting the Professionalism of Your Business

Brochures for real estate companies and agents are similar to a resume. They reflect the professionalism and experience in the field. This is why it is important to rely on professional services for premium results. Even though they do not actually close the sale, they attract clients. A professional brochure will make the difference between higher or no sales.

What to Consider

When it comes to printing brochures for real estate, your vision should be incorporated in the brochure. The pictures you provide should have a resolution of at least 300 dpi in order to obtain the best results. Unless you adhere to the image requirements, the brochures will be blurry and unprofessional. Moreover, you should focus on the main features and include the best features of the properties for a quick sale. Follow these tips and your brochures will make your company will become highly known throughout the area.



Source by Aunindita Bhatia

Importance of Financial News in Our Daily Lives

Gone are the days when there was no concept of any money and people used to barter material things. However, the present day world is all about money which has become the prime mover of all aspects of life. Most people are either employed in a job or carry on some form of business in order to earn money. The stock market is another platform where individuals, as well as small and large entities, do stock trading, again with the intention of making money. Essential inputs for formulating a strategy for stock trading are latest stock market updates, knowledge of best stocks to buy in 2012, the latest financial news, stock analysts’ ratings and information regarding the most active stocks.

However, there are many people who are either not interested in stock trading or lack money, or they do not want to put whatever money they have at stake in the stock exchange. For such people, finance news and the latest stock market updates might seem to be superfluous and the happenings on Wall Street might seem to be of no use to them. But they must realize that our daily lives are deeply affected by what happens in the stock markets.

One of the most important areas in our lives is employment, which can be deeply impacted by the happenings in the market. If the stock market goes down, the employment scenario will be dim and if the market goes up, employment will also pick up. Keeping in touch with the latest finance news as available from any of the several media can be of great help in knowing which way the wind is blowing.

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs due to the current downturn in the economy. Many of them have had to withdraw whatever they had in the 401k in order to survive. Even those who have not withdrawn their money will find that the amount in this retirement fund today has shrunk, as compared to what was in the fund two years ago. The main reason for this is that the money was invested in the stock market and when the economy got into turbulent waters, the stock markets went down and so did their money. If they had been abreast of the finance news and kept track of the stock market, they could have withdrawn their money before any damage.

Finance news encompasses several aspects such as the movements of the stock market, the performances of companies and their stocks, the currency strength and its relations with other major currencies of the world and other company news. These aspects impact our lives as prices of commodities are governed by them. The decision to buy a house, a car or even a computer can be taken more judiciously after assessing the mortgage rates and other financial parameters.



Source by Baz Evans

Royal Entrepreneurship – The Case of Royal Bank Zimbabwe Ltd Formation

The deregulation of the financial services in the late 1990s resulted in an explosion of entrepreneurial activity leading to the formation of banking institutions. This chapter presents a case study of Royal Bank Zimbabwe, tracing its origins, establishment, and the challenges that the founders faced on the journey. The Bank was established in 2002 but compulsorily amalgamated into another financial institution at the behest of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in January 2005.

Entrepreneurial Origins

Any entrepreneurial venture originates in the mind of the entrepreneur. As Stephen Covey states in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, all things are created twice. Royal Bank was created first in the mind of Jeffrey Mzwimbi, the founder, and was thus shaped by his experiences and philosophy.

Jeff Mzwimbi grew up in the high density suburb of Highfield, Harare. On completion of his Advanced Level he secured a place at the University of Botswana. However he decided against the academic route at that time since his family faced financial challenges in terms of his tuition. He therefore opted to join the work force. In 1977 he was offered a job in Barclays Bank as one of the first blacks to penetrate that industry. At that time the banking industry, which had been the preserve of whites, was opening up to blacks. Barclays had a new General Manager, John Mudd, who had been involved in the Africanisation of Barclays Bank Nigeria. On his secondment to Zimbabwe he embarked on the inclusion of blacks into the bank. Mzwimbi’s first placement with Barclays was in the small farming town of Chegutu.

In 1981, a year after Independence, Jeff moved to Syfrets Merchant Bank. Mzwimbi, together with Simba Durajadi and Rindai Jaravaza, were the first black bankers to break into merchant banking department. He rose through the ranks until he was transferred to the head office of Zimbank – the principal shareholder of Syfrets – where he headed the international division until 1989.

The United Nations co-opted him as an advisor to the Reserve Bank in Burundi and thereafter, having been pleased by his performance, appointed him a consultant in 1990. In this capacity he advised on the launch of the PTA Bank travellers’ cheques. After the consultancy project the bank appointed him to head the implementation of the programme. He once again excelled and rose to become the Director of Trade Finance with a mandate of advising the bank on ways to improve trade among member states. The member states were considering issues of a common currency and common market in line with the European model. Because the IFC and World Bank had unsuccessfully sunk gigantic sums of funds into development in the region, they were advocating a move from development finance to trade finance. Consequently PTA Bank, though predominantly a development bank, created a trade finance department. To craft a strategy for trade finance at a regional level, Mzwimbi and his team visited Panama where the Central Americans had created a trade finance institution. They studied its models and used it as a basis to craft the PTA’s own strategy.

Mzwimbi returned to Zimbabwe at the conclusion of his contract. He weighed his options. He could rejoin Barclays Bank, but recent developments presented another option. At that time Nick Vingirai had just returned home after successfully launching a discount house in Ghana. Vingirai, inspired by his Ghanaian experience, established Intermarket Discount House as the first indigenous financial institution. A few years later NMB was set up with William Nyemba, Francis Zimuto and James Mushore being on the ground while one of the major forces behind the bank, Julias Makoni, was still outside the country. Makoni had just moved from IFC to Bankers’ Trust, to facilitate his ownership of a financial institution. Inspired by fellow bankers, a dream took shape in Mzwimbi’s mind. Why become an employee when he could become a bank owner? After all by this time he had valuable international experience.

The above experience shows how the entrepreneurial dream can originate from viewing the successes of others like you. The valuable experiences acquired by Mzwimbi would be critical on the entrepreneurial journey. An entrepreneurial idea builds on the experiences of the entrepreneur.

First Attempts

In 1990 Jeff Mzwimbi was approached by Nick Vingirai, who was then Chairman of the newly resuscitated CBZ, for the CEO position. Mzwimbi turned down the offer since he still had some contractual obligations. The post was later offered to Gideon Gono, the current RBZ governor.

Around 1994, Julias Makoni (then with IFC), who was a close friend of Roger Boka, encouraged Boka to start a merchant bank. At this time Makoni was working at setting up his own NMB. It is possible that, by encouraging Boka to start, he was trying to test the waters. Then Mzwimbi was seeing out the last of his contract at PTA. Boka approached him at the recommendation of Julias Makoni and asked him to help set up United Merchant Bank (UMB). On careful consideration, the banker in Mzwimbi accepted the offer. He reasoned that it would be an interesting option and at the same time he did not want to turn down another opportunity. He worked on the project with a view to its licensing but quit three months down the line. Some of the methods used by the promoter of UMB were deemed less than ethical for the banking executive, which led to disagreement. He left and accepted an offer from Econet to help restructure its debt portfolio.

While still at Econet, he teamed up with the late minister Dr Swithun Mombeshora and others with the intent of setting up a commercial bank. The only commercial banks in the country at that point were Standard Chartered, Barclays Bank, Zimbank, Stanbic and an ailing CBZ. The project was audited by KPMG and had gained the interest of institutional investors like Zimnat and Mining Industry Pension Fund. However, the Registrar of Banks in the Ministry of Finance, made impossible demands. The timing of their application for a licence was unfortunate because it coincided with a saga at Prime Bank in which some politicians had been involved, leading to accusations of influence peddling. Mombeshora, after unsuccessfully trying to influence the Registrar, asked that they slow down on the project as he felt that he might be construed as putting unnecessary political pressure on her. Mzwimbi argues that the impossible stance of the Registrar was the reason for backing off that project.

However other sources indicate that when the project was about to be licensed, the late minister

demanded that his shareholding be increased to a point where he would be the majority shareholder. It is alleged that he contended this was due to his ability to leverage his political muscle for the issuance of the licence.

Entrepreneurs do not give up at the first sign of resistance but they view obstacles in starting up as learning experiences. Entrepreneurs develop a “don’t quit” mind-set. These experiences increase their self -efficacy. Perseverance is critical, as failure can occur at any time.

Econet Wireless

The aspiring banker was approached, in 1994 by a budding telecommunication entrepreneur, Strive Masiyiwa of Econet Wireless, to advise on financial matters and help restructure the company’s debt. At that time Mzwimbi thought that he would be with Econet probably for only four months and then return to his banking passion. While at Econet it became apparent that, once licensed, the major drawback for the telecommunication company’s growth would be the cost of cell phone handsets. This presented an opportunity for the banker, as he saw a strategic option of setting up a leasing finance division within Econet that would lease out handsets to subscribers. The anticipated four months to licensing of Econet dragged into four years, which encompassed a bruising legal struggle that finally enabled the licensing against the State’s will. Mzwimbi’s experience with merchant banking proved useful for his role in Econet’s formation. With the explosive growth of Econet after an IPO, Mzwimbi assisted in the launch of the Botswana operations in 1999. After that, Econet pursued the Morocco licence. At this stage, the dream of owning a bank proved stronger than the appeal of telecoms. The banker faced some tough decisions, as financially he was well covered in Econet with an assured executive position that would expand with the expansion of the network. However the dream prevailed and he resigned from Econet and headed back home from RSA, where he was then domiciled.

His Econet days bestowed on him a substantial shareholding in the company, expanded his worldview and taught him vital lessons in creating an entrepreneurial venture. The persistence of Masiyiwa against severe government resistance taught Mzwimbi critical lessons in pursuing his dream in spite of obstacles. No doubt he learnt a lot from the enterprising founder of Econet.

Debut Royal Bank

On his return in March 2000, Mzwimbi regrouped with some of his friends, Chakanyuka Karase and Simba Durajadi, with whom he had worked on the last attempt at launching a bank. In 1998 the Banking Act was updated and a new statutory instrument called the Banking Regulations had been enacted in the light of the UMB and Prime Bank failures.

These required that one should have the shareholders, the premises and equipment all in place before licensing. Previously one needed only to set up an office and hire a secretary to acquire a banking license. The licence would be the basis for approaching potential investors. In other words it was now required that one should incur the risk of setting up and purchasing the IT infrastructure, hire personnel and lease premises without any assurance that one would acquire the licence. Consequently it was virtually impossible to invite outside investors into the project at this stage.

Without recourse to outside shareholders injecting funds, and with minimal financial capacity on the part of his partners, Mzwimbi fortuitously benefited from his substantial Econet shares. He used them as collateral to access funds from Intermarket Discount House to finance the start up – acquired equipment like ATMs, hired staff, and leased premises. Mzwimbi recalls pleading with the Central Bank and the Registrar of Banks about the oddity of having to apply for a licence only when he had spent significant amounts on capital expenditure – but the Registrar was adamant.

Finally, Royal Bank was licensed in March 2002 and, after the prerequisite pre-opening inspections by the Central Bank, opened its doors to the public four months later.

Entrepreneurial Challenges

The challenges of financing the new venture and the earlier disappointments did not deter Mzwimbi. The risk of using his own resources, whereas in other places one would fund a significant venture using institutional shareholders’ capital, has already been discussed. This section discusses other challenges that the entrepreneurial banker had to overcome.

Regulatory Challenges and Capital Structure

The new banking regulations placed shareholding restrictions on banks as follows:

*Individuals could hold a maximum of 25% of a financial institution’s equity

*Non-financial institutions could hold a maximum of 10% only

*A financial institution however could hold up to a maximum of 100%.

This posed a problem for the Royal Bank sponsors because they had envisaged Royal Financial Holdings (a non-financial corporate) as the major shareholder for the bank. Under the new regulations this could hold only 10% maximum. The sponsors argued with the Registrar of Banks about these regulations to no avail. If they needed to hold the shares as corporate bodies it meant that they needed at least ten companies, each holding 10% each. The argument for having financial institutions holding up to 100% was shocking as it meant that an asset manager with a required capitalisation of $1 million would be allowed by the new law to hold 100% shareholding in a bank which had a $100 million capitalisation yet a non-banking institution, which may have had a higher capitalisation, could not control more than 10%. Mzwimbi and team were advised by the Registrar of Banks to invest in their personal capacities. At this point the Reserve Bank (RBZ) was simply involved in the registration process on an advisory basis with the main responsibility resting with the Registrar of Banks. Although the RBZ agreed with Mzwimbi’s team on the need to have corporations as major shareholders due to the long term existence of a corporation as compared to individuals, the Registrar insisted on her terms. Finally, Royal Bank promoters chose the path of satisficing- and hence opted to invest as individuals, resulting in the following shareholding structure:

*Jeff Mzwimbi – 25%

*Victor Chando – 25%

*Simba Durajadi- 20%

*Hardwork Pemhiwa- 20%

*Intermarket Unit Trust – 2% (the only institutional investor)

*Other individuals – less than 2% each.

The challenge to acquire institutional investors was due to the restrictions cited above and the requirement to pump money into the project before the licence was issued. They negotiated with TA Holdings, which was prepared to take equity holding in Royal Bank.

So tentatively the sponsors had allocated 25% equity for Zimnat, a subsidiary to TA Holdings. Close to the registration date, the Zimnat negotiators were changed. The incoming negotiators changed the terms and conditions for their investment as follows:

*They wanted at least a 35% stake

*The Board chairmanship and chairmanship of key committees – in perpetuity.

The promoters read this to mean their project was being usurped and so turned TA Holdings down. However, in retrospect Mzwimbi feels that the decision to release the TA investment was emotional and believes that they should have compromised and found a way to accommodate them as institutional investors. This could have strengthened the capital base of Royal Bank.

Credibility Challenges

The main sponsors and senior managers of the bank were well known players in the industry. This reduced the credibility gap. However some corporate customers were concerned about the shareholding of the bank being entirely in the hands of individuals. They preferred the bank risk to be reduced by having institutional investors. The new licensing process adversely affected access to institutional investors. Consequently the bank had institutional shareholders in mind for the long term. They claim that even the then head of supervision and licensing at RBZ, agreed with the promoters’ concern about the need for institutional investors but the Registrar of Banks overruled her.

Challenges of Explosive Growth

The strategic plan of Royal Bank was to open ten branch offices within five years. They planned to open three branches in Harare in the first year, followed by branches in Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare and Gweru within the next year. This would have been followed by an increase in the number of Harare branches.

From their analysis they believed that there was room for at least four more commercial banks in Zimbabwe. A competitor analysis of the industry indicated that the government controlled Zimbank was the major competitor, CBZ was struggling and Stanbic was not likely to grow rapidly. The bigger banks, Barclays and Standard Chartered, were likely to scale down operations. The promoters of the bank project had observed in their extensive international experie nce that whenever the economy was indigenised in Africa, these multinational banks would dispose of their rural branches. They were therefore positioning themselves to exploit this scenario once it presented itself.

The anticipated opportunity presented itself earlier than expected. On an international flight with the Standard Chartered Bank CEO, Mzwimbi, confirmed his interest in a stake of the bank’s disinvestments which was making rounds on the rumour mill. Although surprised, the multinational banker agreed to give the two month old entrepreneurial bank the right of first refusal on the fifteen branches that were being disposed of.

The deal was negotiated on a lock, stock and barrel basis. When the announcement of the deal was made internally, some employees resisted and politicised the issue. The Standard Chartered CEO then offered to proceed on a phased basis with the first seven banks going through, followed by the others later. Due to Mzwimbi’s savvy negotiating skills and the determination by Standard Chartered to dispose of the branches, the deal was successfully concluded, resulting in Royal Bank growing from one branch to seven outlets within the first year of operation. It had exceeded their projected growth plan.

Due to what Mzwimbi calls divine favour, the deal included the real estate belonging to the bank. Interestingly, Standard Chartered had failed to get bank buildings on lease and so in all small towns they had built their own buildings. These were thus transferred within the deal to Royal Bank. Inherent in the deal was an inbuilt equity from the properties since the purchase price of $400 million was heavily discounted.

Shortly after that, Alex Jongwe, the CEO of Barclays Bank, approached Royal Bank to offer a similar deal to the Standard Chartered acquisition of rural branches. Barclays offered eight branches, of which Royal initially accepted six. Chegutu and Chipinge were excluded, since Royal already had a presence there.

However after failing to dispose of those two branches, Barclays came back and asked Royal “to take them for a song”. Mzwimbi accepted these for two strategic reasons, namely the acquisitions gave him physical assets (the buildings) that he could lease out to anyone who decided to expand into those areas and secondly, that created a monopoly in those towns. With time, the fortuitous inclusion of real estate into the deal increased the wealth of Royal Bank as the prices of properties skyrocketed with hyperinflation.

One of the major key drivers of the Zimbabwean economy is agriculture. After the failed Land Donors Conference in 1998 and the subsequent land reform programme, it was evident to the established banks that commercial farming would be significantly affected.

They sought to quit the small towns since their major clients were commercial farmers. Strategically to acquire these branches when the major source of their revenue was under threat would have required that Royal Bank should have put in place an alternative source of revenue from farming. It is not clear whether this had been considered during these acquisitions.

The acquisition increased Royal’s branch network to 20 and the staff complement by 50. Incidentally, the growth created problems of managing the system as well as cultural issues. The highly unionised Standard Chartered employees were antagonistic to management as compared to the trusting Royal culture. This acquisition resulted in potential culture challenges. Management controlled this by introducing Norton and Kaplan’s Balanced Scorecard system in an effort to manage the cultural clashes of the three systems.

The Challenge of Financing Acquisition

A major challenge in acquisitions is the financing structure. During licensing the Registrar of Banks refused to accept the nearly $200 million that had been spent by the promoters of Royal Bank as capital. She insisted that this be recognised as pre-operating expenses and therefore wanted to see fresh capital amounting to $100 million. The change of rules posed a challenge for Mzwimbi’s team. However, being an astute deal maker he strategically conceptualised an arrangement whereby the $170 million worth of equipment purchased be accounted for as belonging to Royal Financial Holdings and made available to Royal Bank on a lease basis. This would then be sold to the bank as it grew. The RBZ was appraised of this decision and accepted it, and even noted in the inspection report the amount of expenditure spent pre-operatively by the promoters. The remainder of the pre-operative expenses were converted into nonvoting non-convertible preference shares of Royal Bank.

In January 2003 commercial bank capitalisation was increased to $500 million by the regulator and hence there was a need for recapitalisation. This coincided with the branch acquisition deals. At this stage the Royal Bank team decided to partially fund the acquisition through a conversion of the preference shares into ordinary shares and partially from fresh capital injected by the shareholders. Since the bank was now performing well, it purchased the capital equipment, owned by Royal Financial Holdings, which it had been leasing. This deal included the redistribution and balancing of shareholdings in Royal Bank to conform to the statutory requirements. Retrospectively it may be viewed as a strategic blunder to have moved the equipment into the bank ownership. Considering the “sale” of Royal Bank assets to ZABG, if these and the real estate had been warehoused into RFH the take-over may have been difficult. This highlights the failure sometimes by entrepreneurs to appreciate the importance of asset protection mechanisms while still small.

However the RBZ accused the shareholders of using depositors’ funds for the recapitalisation of the bank. Partly this is due to a misunderstanding that RFH is the holding company of Royal Bank and so sometimes accounts flowing from Royal Financial Holdings were accounted by RBZ investigators as Royal Bank funds. These allegations formed part of the allegations of fraud against Mzwimbi and Durajadi when they were arrested in September 2004. Subsequently the courts cleared them of any fraudulent activities in January 2007.

Managerial Challenges

Retrospectively, Mzwimbi views his managerial team as being excellent apart from some “weaknesses in the finance department”. He assembled a solid team from various banking backgrounds. The most significant ones became founding shareholders like Durajadi Simba at treasury, the late Sibanda in charge of the lending department. Faith Ngwabi-Bhebhe, then with Kingdom, helped lay a solid foundation of human resource systems for the bank.

However, they had a challenge finding a financial director. The new statutory instrument required that CVs of all corporate officers be made available for vetting when the licence was applied for. Without a licence one could not promise someone in current employment a job and submit his CV as this would reflect badly on the promoters. Eventually they hired a chartered accountant without banking experience. Initially they thought this was a stop-gap measure.

With the unanticipated growth, they forgot to revisit this department to strengthen it. Because of these weaknesses the bank continued to face challenges in the treasury department, despite the gallant efforts of the financial director. Strangely, when other executive directors were arrested the FD was left untouched and yet all the issues at stake arose from treasury activities. It would appear in retrospect that the FD was intimidated into providing incriminating evidence for the others. She too was threatened with arrest.

Successful entrepreneurial ventures in a growth phase need both strong leaders and strong managers. It’s not enough to have strong leadership skills. As Ed Cole said, “It’s easier to obtain than to maintain.” The role of strong managers is to create the capacity to maintain what strong entrepreneurial leaders acquire. Interestingly a new field of research, Strategic Entrepreneurship now recognises the need for both entrepreneurial and strategic management competences for successful ventures.

Strategic Growth Plans

Royal Bank’s strategic intent was to create a full house of financial services. The plan included a commercial bank, a discount house, an insurance company, a building society and an asset management service. However the vision was later refined and the plans for a discount house were dropped, since a strong commercial bank with a powerful dealing room would serve the same purpose. A strong asset manager would also relieve the need for a discount house.

With the significant branch network, the commercial bank was solid but needed a presence in a few major centres e.g. Masvingo and Gweru. In Gweru they could not locate suitable premises.

In Masvingo, after a struggle they were offered premises which had previously been earmarked for Trust Bank. With Trust Bank facing challenges, it abandoned Masvingo. However, Royal was placed under a curator when it was about to move in.

Royal Bank courted Finsreal Asset Managers for a potential acquisition since there were synergies and shared beliefs. It had a solid corporate customer base and very good growth prospects since an astute entrepreneur led it. Unfortunately the deal was aborted at the last minute when the owner opted out. After the Finsreal flop, Mzwimbi and his team pursued the asset manager through organic growth. They developed their own company -Regal Asset Managers – during the last quarter of 2003. At this stage the capital requirements and licensing process of asset managers was fairly easy. Asset managers were quite profitable, with minimal regulatory controls. Regal Asset Managers completed two good deals, namely: a management buyout of Screen Litho, a printing concern, and a big deal for First Mutual at its demutualisation.

The Screen Litho deal had been offered to venture capitalists but their demands were excessive. That is when Regal Asset Managers was set up and concluded a funding deal through Royal Financial Holdings (RFH), resulting in RFH holding 99% of Screen Litho which was to be off- loaded once management was in a solid financial position. Screen Litho is performing very well and hence this investment has proven successful. The entrepreneurial Mzwimbi thus diversified his financial portfolio through this deal.

For the building society, Royal eyed First National Building Society (FNBS) and almost signed a memorandum of agreement. Royal Bank was almost ready to transfer its staff mortgage facility to FNBS, when a close friend with a powerful position in the Society discouraged it from committing to the deal without divulging the reasons. A short while later FNBS was placed under a curator, with the RBZ citing cases of fraud by the top executives. The increasingly acquisitive Royal Bank entrepreneurs shifted and trained their guns at Beverly Building Society. Intermarket had already failed to consummate a deal with Beverley. Royal Bank was now competing with African Banking Corporation (ABC), which beat it to an agreement but was denied shareholder authority to complete the deal. Royal Bank then went back to wooing Shingai Mutasa of TA Holdings in an effort to increase its institutional shareholder base. He was keen on the deal.

Mutasa was acquainted with the two British owners of Beverley and one of his board members sat on the Beverley Building Society board. His support would have been crucial in the deal. However this process was overtaken by events, as the incoming RBZ governor superintended a monetary policy which led the financial sector into a tailspin.

Some young entrepreneurs approached Royal Bank seeking for support to establish an insurance company. Since this was in line with Royal’s strategic plan it consented and helped start Regal Insurance Company. Royal Bank originated the name Regal Insurance.

Once the licence was acquired there were some shareholder disputes and Royal Bank distanced itself from the deal. The young entrepreneurs who had been supported by Royal Bank lost the company to the other shareholders.

The final thrust in the strategic plan was establishing a stock broking firm. An idiosyncrasy with stock broking licences is that they are not issued to an institution but to a person. Intermarket had the highest number of stock broking licences. Mzwimbi approached the Intermarket stock broking CEO, who was a friend, about the prospects of acquiring one of the stockbrokers and he did not seem to have a problem with that. At the same time Victor Chando, a major shareholder in Royal Bank, brought to the table his interest in acquiring Barnfords Securities. He was encouraged to pursue the deal with the help of Royal Bank with the plan of bringing it in-house as soon as possible. All Royal Bank deals would now be channelled through Barnfords.

It appears that Royal bank developed a strong appetite for deals. One wonders what it would have been like if it had taken time to develop strong systems and capacity before attempting so many deals. What could have been avoided if the appetite for deals had been controlled? Entrepreneurs may need to exercise restrain in their expansion in order to create capacities to absorb and consolidate the growth.



Source by Dr Tawafadza A. Makoni

Bringing Your New Finches Home

The fun part is buying your finches and then bringing them home; the part that can be a bit tough, according to breeders, is getting your birds comfortable in their new environment. To ensure good health and vitality you need to take steps to acclimated your new birds to their new home as quickly and stress free as possible.

You should have already prepared a temporary environment for you birds before you even visit the breeder and buy your finches. A large cage will do, remember even though the birds are small, they need plenty of room. Place a bowl of water and a dish of millet seeds along with some bird biscuits in the cage so that nourishments are readily available to your finches as soon as they are introduced to their new home.

It would be ideal for you to ask the breeder for a cup of the birds’ regular food so that you can mix it with the new foods you will be feeding the finches. This way the will eat as soon as they are introduced to their new home. Fresh seeds are the best choice, grasses rich with seed stalks would be a wonderful homecoming meal for you finches.

For those who already have an aviary population at home, don’t add your new birds to the aviary right away. You will need a separate cage to quarantine you new finches for at about five days which allows them to acclimate to their new environment before being introduced to the existing bird population.

Finches are shy, timid birds and excessive stimulus is not good for them. They will become very active once they have adapted to their new home, but when you first bring them home they need a calm, quite area. If your home is full of noise and activity, you will need to find a quiet area to place their cage against a wall at face level. Make sure the cage is not exposed to drafts, direct sunlight or air vents as this could be dangerous for your birds. You may also wish to place a thin cloth over the cage to help them adapt by giving them their own ‘space’.

Whether you us an outdoor aviary, an indoor aviary or a large cage; the method you choose to house your birds has a direct effect on their health. An outdoor aviary is ideal, if you have the budget for it. If you don’t have the budget for an outdoor aviary, consider getting an indoor aviary. An aviary that is at least forty inches high is perfect for a pair of finches.

Free plans to construct an aviary can be found by searching the internet. Almost any sturdy materials can be used to construct the main framework for your aviary. Some people like using inexpensive plastic pipes while others choose varnished wood.

If an aviary is not within your budget, you birds can be temporarily housed in a cage that is at least 20 X 20 X 20; this size is ideal for two birds. If you put too many birds in one cage congestion can occur and this is very stressful to your finches. Stress in finches can lead to illness, disease and death.

Large enclosures keep your finches healthy and happy, which allows their natural behavior to shine through. When provided with good housing, your finches will naturally pair up, mate and produce young; jut as they would in the wild. If you plan to breed your finches, you absolutely must have a large enough enclosure to keep them from getting over crowded.



Source by Brandon Sharp

Useful Tips And Ideas For Landscaping Along The Fence Line

Having a beautiful, manicured, and healthy lawn means not just working on certain areas of your yard. Your outdoor space will look more appealing and organized if every area looks designed, tidy, and nothing is barren or disregarded.

As such, if you want to have the perfect lawn, you also have to work on beautifying some areas that you normally wouldn’t pay attention to such as the fence line. Many property owners think that their fence would be enough as an additional enhancing outdoor feature. But with the right plants and some landscaping tips, you can have an even lovelier fence line.

Below are some landscaping tips and ideas you can consider for improving your fence line:

• Before starting to plant along fence the line, make sure you remove any brush and debris on the area. This means removing weeds growing along the privacy fence. You can use a weed trimmer to cut down weeds and grass next to the fence.

• Aside from planting ornamental plants, the area along the fence is the ideal location to grow long, narrow vegetable garden beds. The edible garden will decorate and improve the look of the area while making the space functional to produce your own food.

• If you want to cover some of the wooden fence’s parts (especially the old, rotten ones) plant vines, like bougainvillea or trumpet vine along the base of the fence. These vines will naturally grow up the fence to add color to your fence and at the same time, soften the look of the wood.

• If you want to grow plants along the fence line, grow tall ornamental grasses, such as cape thatching reed or muhly grass, along the area. When they grow, they will fill out to cover a large area of the fence while adding movement and texture to your outdoor space.

• To have blooming flowers near your fence, plant ornamental grasses with flowering perennials such as poppies or hydrangeas. You can also consider growing flowering herbs like chives and lavender since they work great for different types of border gardens.

• You can also consider planting pots. Place large, decorative pots along the fence line. Make sure you pace the pots evenly along the privacy structure. To add color and boost visual interest to the area, grow a variety of plants in one pot.

• Lastly, to improve the look of your fence and outdoor space, you can also hang decorative garden fixtures such as metal lanterns as accent pieces. However, make sure you choose only lightweight garden decorations that won’t cause the fence to sag or lean and screw the pieces into the wood securely.



Source by Reeze Martin

Hiring a Property Management Firm Checklist

There are some basic steps you really need to follow when trying to pick a property management firm. Whether you are a renter looking for a residence to lease or a property owner or investor seeking someone to help you manage the day-to-day, this checklist will help you make the right decision:

  1. Check the Better Business Bureau: By visiting the website for the BBB, you can enter a company’s name and see whether any complaints have been filed and view the rating the company has been given. It is in your best interest to deal only with companies that are BBB members. Only then are they liable for complying with the BBB’s regulations that protect you and keep them accountable.
  2. Verify its Certification: You of course only want to do business with a company that has the proper certification. A great resource that will allow you to verify this information is the website of the Institute for Real Estate Management. The link is provided below.
  3. Perform General Searches: In general, people want to talk about their experiences. They want a forum to share their news and to have other people listen. The Internet has provided a wonderful outlet for this sort of information sharing. All you need to do is Google the name and location of the company you are considering and see what sort of results appear. If the company has a questionable reputation with unhappy past clients, you will likely see forums and posts to this effect.
  4. Ask a Friend: Just like people want a place to post their experiences online, your friends and even friends of friends, are going to be happy to share both good and bad company experiences with you. If you know someone who rents, then ask if they deal with a property management company, and if so, what there experience has been.
  5. Take a Drive: There is very little that will give you better idea of how a property management company handles their business than to visit their current properties. Take an unannounced drive around to their apartments and/or houses to evaluate neighborhoods, building condition, lawn maintenance, and other features you view important.
  6. Get the Contract: Yet another great way for you to tell how a company represents its owners and investors, and handles business with its renters is to take a look at its rental contract. Remember to consider the required rental term, deposit amount, pet regulations, guest restrictions, etc.

For access to the Better Business Bureau’s site, you can visit http://bbb.org. For access to the Institute for Real Estate Management, visit http://irem.org.



Source by Cathy Fontana

Real Estate Submarkets and Their Characteristics

The Jamaica real estate submarket

The general market for goods and service is made up of many submarkets. When left free to operate without private or governmental interference, each submarket and the general market as a whole should theoretically regulate itself by the laws of supply and demand.

One of the submarkets of the general market for goods and service is the Jamaica real estate market. While the real estate market differs in a number of distinctive ways from other markets, it acts much like all markets with respect to changes in supply and demand, but with a slower response time. It has the appearance of being a single, simple entity when in fact the real estate market is itself composed of many complex sub markets. This would include Jamaica homes for rent as well. This would be known as a parent category.

Real estate is a commodity just as wheat, gold and sugar. By combining the other factors of production with land we can produce wheat, gold and sugar or buildings.

Major sub markets of Jamaica Real Estate

Most authorities agree that the five major submarkets of Jamaican real estate are:

1. Residential homes for rent in Jamaica;

2. Commercial;

3. Industrial;

4. Agricultural;

5. Governmental and special – purpose properties

Each of these five categories is further divided into minor submarkets. For example, “residential” as a major submarket can itself be divided into minor submarkets as follows:

1. Urban;

2. Suburban; and

3. Rural

Each of the minor submarkets can be divided further into single-family and multifamily, which could then each be classified as owner-occupied and rental. The point is what appears to be one big, but simple real estate market is in reality, a complex structure of many individual submarkets, each of which contributes to the overall market.

The characteristics of the real estate market

If the real estate market were allowed to operate without any interference or restraint whatsoever, each person could use his or her property in any way that would produce the greatest return. This could result in one person’s use of Jamaican property causing a loss in value to another person’s property. Obviously, we cannot permit land to be used for whatever purpose the owner thinks best for his or her private gain.

For example, if you lived in a very fashionable up-market residential subdivision and your neighbor bought two undeveloped lots adjoining your property for use as a pig farm or for a paper mill with its offensive odors, the social costs to you and the rest of the subdivision would far outweigh the private gain to your neighbor. Therefore, the real estate market cannot be permitted to operate free of all controls and restraints.

Listed below are five primary characteristics affecting ownership and sale that set real estate apart from other markets.

1. The market is local in nature; the product is immoveable.

2. It is slow to respond to change in supply and demand.

3. There is relative permanence of improvements; land is durable and fixed in location.

4. The market is not organized and is without central control; there is no standard product and no central information.

5. Governmental controls influence the market through zoning, building codes, taxes, etc

Local in Nature – The market for real estate is uncommonly local in nature compared with other markets. The reason, of course, is that land and the improvements thereon are immoveable. For example, we cannot transport sugar cane lands from Westmoreland to Kingston. If we were in the market for tomatoes we could haul our produce to the place where demand might be greatest. However, despite the demand for housing in Area A, we cannot produce an apartment complex or single-family subdivisions on land located in Area B and take it to where there is greater demand.

Slow Response – The property market is unusually slow to respond to changes in supply and demand. Very often the number of houses (supply) in an area begins to fall behind the demand, however, since the design, land acquisition, site preparation and construction phases of real estate are so time consuming by the time demand responds the market becomes flooded. The equilibrium between supply and demand is thus destroyed because the supply of the town houses exceeds the demand at the time.

Permanence of improvements – The characteristic referred to as permanence of improvements is also closely related to the above characteristics. The typical bungalow-housing unit has a long economic life compared to other commodities. Once we have built a block of offices we are stuck with it when perhaps we could have invested our time and money in a hotel. Therefore, the permanence of the improvements created eliminates many alternatives available to markets.

Decentralized nature – Another characteristic of the real estate market is the lack of a single, central exchange for dealing with the real estate island wide. If one wishes to buy 100 shares in General Motors, California, the product will be the same as General Motors, Florida. However, if one wishes to buy 100 hectares of beachfront property in Westmoreland, Jamaica the product will be different in many respects from beachfront property in Portland. This focuses the attention on the two main reasons why there is not a central exchange for real estate.

First, the product cannot be standardized. No two tracts of land are the same. Even two lots side by side on a street have different geographical locations on this earth. This concept is referred to as heterogeneity or non-homogeneity.

Second, no central data bank or information source tells about all real property in Jamaica. Also, one needs to be careful when using information about properties in one area to assess properties in another. If one wants to know about real property in any location, it is best to go to that particular place and seek local information.

Governmental Controls – The fifth and last of the primary characteristics of the real estate market, governmental controls, plays an inordinately important role when compared to other markets. Most people are familiar with direct controls such as zoning and building codes which govern construction and use of property.

Governments also exercise indirect controls, such as the monetary policies of Central Government. For example, if Government reduces the overall money supply to slow the inflation rate, higher rates for mortgage bans turn, drives many potential buyers out of the real estate market in Jamaica. This does impact heavily on the drafting of a rent agreement in Jamaica.



Source by Colin Scott

Real Estate Expired And For Sale By Owner Letters

One of the most difficult things for real estate agents to do would be to put a pen to paper and create a letter that they can mail to homeowners that have an expired listing, or perhaps are selling on their own. Expired listings and for sale by owner (FSBO) is an essential part of becoming a successful real estate agent. So exactly what do you say within your letter which will spark the interest with the homeowner. Would it be the old worn-out line saying you have buyers for their house.

With that being said, would there be some additional interesting information for them? If not your letter goes into that famous circular file. All of your hard work, crumpled up and gone. Not only that, it is a well-known fact that one letter on its own will not produce any results. Homeowners are certainly not running for their phone to call you pleading, that you should come over and list their property.

Here Are Some Topic Ideas Of What Can Be Sent

  • So your house didn’t sell, but here’s how I can help you
  • I specialize in getting homes that have failed to sell
  • You shouldn’t Give Up
  • Pinpoint the reasons your house didn’t sell
  • I can put MORE money in your pocket than you could Selling on your own
  • Have many real estate agents been calling you?

It generally requires a number of letters in sequential order so you can get yourself recognized. Which means that now it’s more than one letter that you have to compose, it becomes a number of letters. This also means a number of good ideas that have to come together becoming a well thought out marketing campaign. Writing one letter is without a doubt hard enough, writing a series of letters is a struggle.

Try sitting down with a blank sheet of paper and begin a letter. Do you find yourself just staring at that blank sheet searching your mind for an idea? Just one good idea! Not so easy is it? Just how much time and effort are you going to have to put into getting all those letters written? Another task is proof reading all those letters. Possibly the worst thing you can do is send out a letter that is full of spelling and grammar errors. This is best done by another person or perhaps by a computer program. Do you have the time for all of this.

As soon as you start the composing process you will quickly conclude that the amount of time spent can cost you more money than actually buying letters. Well there’s some good news, you can buy letters by a professional and ready to go. There is a big advantage to purchasing real estate letters, they can cost a dollar or less per letter. A tremendous bargain if I may say so.

When you finish your letters you will have to do the mailing. It is best that you send them out systematically so that your name is frequently viewed by the homeowner. You will have to keep track of what letters you mailed out to who. You don’t want to send the same letter to someone twice. There are contact management programs available that can do that for you. All you have to do is to search contact management programs using the web to find them. I would recommend a follow-up phone call to the owners or perhaps a face-to-face visit to further form a relationship. What you want is to create the opportunity for a consideration to list their property. Good luck!



Source by John Allegro

Are Your Loan Officers Employees or Independent Contractors

Many mortgage lenders/brokers treat their loan officers (who are their salespersons) as independent contractors. Those loan officers are paid on a commission based on the successful funding of a loan. The mortgage lenders/brokers pay the loan officers either as each transaction closes or on a periodic basis. The amount paid to the loan officer contains no deduction for federal, state or local taxes. Frequently, the loan officer does not receive any benefits, such as company-paid health insurance or paid sick or vacation time. At the end of each year, the mortgage lenders/brokers issue IRS Form 1099s to their loan officers.

As a mortgage lender/broker, you cannot classify whether your loan officers are independent contractors or employees. That task has been given to the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Labor, your state unemployment insurance agency, your state department of labor and your state workers compensation insurance agency. Although each agency has its own guidelines, typically the determination turns on the degree of control that the mortgage lender/broker exercises and the degree of independence that the loan officer enjoys. When the mortgage lender/broker has the right to dictate what will be done and how it will be done, then the loan officer is an employee. The government agencies look at facts concerning the behavioral control of the loan officer, the financial control of the loan officer and the relationship between the mortgage lender/broker and the loan officer. The Internal Revenue Service has a 20 factor test to determine whether an employer/employee relationship exists. Such factors include whether the loan officer has to comply with instructions, gets training from the mortgage lender/broker, works exclusively for the mortgage lender/broker, whether the loan officer can independently hire assistants, whether the loan officer has set hours of work, whether there is a continuing relationship, and whether regular reports must be given to a supervisor. The IRS seems to have a bias towards finding an employer-employee relationship. Even if the mortgage lender/broker has a written agreement with the loan officer classifying him/her as an independent contractor, that is not binding on any federal or state agency.

If you have been treating your loan officers as independent contractors, when in reality, they pass the 20 factor test as employees, what are the ramifications? If the Internal Revenue Service or Department of Labor find you have misclassified employees, they will require you to pay back withholding taxes plus interest, or they can assess fines that can bankrupt a company, or even file criminal charges against the owners. Once the IRS has come in, other federal and state agencies follow right behind them and assess their fines and penalties as well. If there is anything left, the loan officer can sue for unemployment compensation, retirement benefits, profit sharing, vacation pay, disability or any other benefit that he/she would have received as an employee. Many mortgage companies have gone out of business because they treated many of their loan officers as independent contractors and did not comply with wage-and-hour laws

How does the Internal Revenue Service or Department of Labor find out about you? Usually, a dismissed loan officer will file for unemployment benefits or a disgruntled loan officer will make a telephone call to the agency. And the agency will always follow up.

You should also be aware that the agency that approved your lender/broker license considers the loan officers to be employees because you have responsibility for their actions. Although some states do not require that the loan officers be W-2 employees, they will not care how you classify the loan officer who is in regulatory hot water. The Banking Departments are concerned that your company supervises the people operating under the auspices of your license. This requires that you supervise the activities of your loan officers regardless of whether you pay them as employees or as independent contractors. After all, you are responsible for any violations of the mortgage lender/broker law, rules and policies committed by anyone, including a loan originator, operating under your license. Therefore, it’s in your best interests to supervise them.

This Article is designed to be of general interest. The specific information discussed may not apply to you. Before acting on any matter contained herein, you should consult with your personal legal and accounting adviser.



Source by Robin Gronsky

Your New Cat: Why Are the First 24 Hours So Important?

The cage was small, but the people were nice and Tiger felt safe. He was fed, petted and regularly groomed. Still, it wasn’t home. Tiger had been ‘home’, and still had vague memories of the woman who had cared for him and the other cats who lived with her.

Then he had been taken to this place, and had been here so long he had almost forgotten ‘home’, and the woman.

There was uneasiness here, though, and Tiger felt it. Something was about to happen. Something bad.

Then two humans came in. He was put in a cage with them. He jumped up in the woman’s lap. He was put in a dark place that bumped and jostled him. He heard strange, scary noises. He howled, and a male voice answered with noises he couldn’t understand.

Then there was light. And TERROR!

A small hand reached for him and tried to grab him. There were people he didn’t know; they all approached him. There was another cat that arched and spat.

Then, horror of horrors…

There was a dog!

Tiger fled. He fled down a long corridor and bolted through the first open door he found. He hid in the darkest place he could find…among soft and hard things he didn’t recognized. He heard voices. He heard the dog bark, and he shuddered. He heard the child’s high pitched voice, and a woman’s voice…which were easier to bear.

He hunkered down and remained as invisible and silent as he could.

Adoption in Haste

The staff of animal shelters greet people looking for new pets with both joy and misgiving. People walk between the cages, looking over each cat, and the staff hope they will select a cat that has been there for a long time.

But they know what the people are looking for; they are looking for kittens, not adult cats.

If there are no kittens, the customers will sometimes reluctantly choose an adult cat as a “consolation prize”, pay the adoption fees and cart him or her off…

Only to return the cat two or three days later.

“I’m sorry, but this cat just didn’t work out. We couldn’t fit it into the family.”

Or…

“This cat is just too wild. We need something tamer, something that will fit in.”

“What happened?” The staff member asks.

“The cat bolted and hid. It took us three days to find it, and when we finally did, we had to chase it all over the house before we caught it. We need something tamer; something that will fit in better.”

So go the sad tales of the returnees… but wait, it can be worse for cats adopted in other ways.

“The landlord won’t let me keep her, could you please take her in?”

People who adopt strays off the street, or a friend’s cat, many times don’t realize the full extent of the things they need to do for their new cat:

o Prepare their house to receive their cat

o Take care of their cat’s medical needs

o Make sure their other cats have protection from disease

o Take care of their cat’s physical needs

o Properly introduce their cat to their live-in companions, children and other pets

And perhaps most importantly:

o Prepare themselves for a good relationship with their new cat

People who have never owned cats before don’t really realize what a cat is: A highly intelligent, independent animal which needs love and affection daily – but is not a dog.

Cats will bond with people, just as dogs do, but they don’t always bond with the person who has adopted them. They will choose whom they like, much to the consternation of the person who “picked them up” hoping to have acquired a new friend.

This is one very good reason why the first 24 hours is so important. It is in during that period that your cat will decide whom she wants to bond with.

Unless you know what you are doing, it might not be with you.

Time

A cat needs time spent with her. One of the big mistakes busy people make is to fail to realize that they have busy schedules that don’t allow them to spend enough time with their newly adopted cat.

This could ultimately result in your cat running off. If you have no time to spend with your cat, she will not choose your house as “her den”. She will go out searching for another one, and you could be soon reporting a “lost cat”.

Or, to your consternation, you will find that the cat you thought would be a loving companion has bonded with another member of your household…somebody who did have the time to spend.

Money

A lot of people don’t count the cost of pet ownership. In their exuberance to adopt a cat, they forget that they don’t have the budget to keep her. Belatedly, they discover they don’t have the cash on hand to buy their new feline’s basic necessities or give her the medical attention she is most certainly going to need.

Many people shun pet medical insurance, not realizing that the same things that happen to people happen to cats, and can cost large sums of money to cure. This can result in losing their beloved pet because the price to save her is “just too high”.

Medical Needs

Some people who adopt strays or cats owned by friends don’t realize the full extent of the medical attention their new cat needs:

o A complete physical examination

o A complete vaccination regimen

o Spaying or neutering

In particular, that cute kitten you brought home from a friend’s litter will need a long series of vaccinations (along with boosters) that will extend over a period of a couple of years. You can’t do it all in one day.

To fail in this will almost assuredly mean tragedy down the line. I know. I failed to give one of my kittens its vaccinations. I made it an outdoor cat, and it died of feline leukemia. The story definitely had a very sad ending…

Your cat’s physical needs

When your cat climbs out of the carrier box for the first time, will you be equipped with the essentials?

Or, will you discover that you need these things later…and bring them in one at a time, after your cat has defecated in the corner, started scratching the furniture, or begun some other unauthorized behavior you are not prepared for? (And, be advised, a cat is a very obsessed animal…once she starts doing something, it is very hard to change it).

Making sure you have what you need to receive your new cat is vital…and you must have the basics on hand before you bring her home.

First introductions

So, when your cat first climbs out of her carrier, is she going to be set upon by every member of your household all at once? And when she does, will she flee in terror, trying to find the safest and darkest corner she can find?

Or will you introduce her gradually… to try to reduce the trauma as much as possible so she can adapt to and feel at home in her new situation?

Your technique for doing that can be a deciding factor in whether or not your cat adapts to your home immediately, by the next day or the next month, or flees the house altogether.

The days to follow

Do you know how to take care of your new cat in the days to come, assuming you handled your first introductions well? Do you know about allergies, special foods, bathing, grooming, hair balls, removing urine, training and teaching without frightening and alienating her, and a multitude of other situations cat owners wrestle with on a daily basis? Do you know the hazards involved in letting her become an outdoor cat?

Be prepared

As you’ve often heard, ‘preparation is the key to success’, and nowhere does that apply more appropriately than to cat ownership. If you are prepared, your adoption will probably go very smoothly.

I say probably because every cat is different. Even with the best preparation by a knowledgeable owner, a cat may still want to hide for awhile. And if you discover that’s the case…

You need to know what to do.

The Key

So, that’s why I wrote my book, “Your New Cat’s First 24 Hours”, http://www.yourcatsecrets.com, to give you everything you need to know and have, not only to get ready for your new cat and introduce her to your household, but to understand and care for her in the days to follow.

I’ve got to say it again: preparation…and knowledge… is the key. When you decide to adopt, I hope you won’t do it in haste.

I hope you will do it knowledgeably and with understanding.



Source by John Young