Demographics Are Dead: Long Live Event-Triggered Marketing

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“I do not care if you are 25 or 65, if you want to summon a car to go from A to B right now, you are still my target customer.”

Do you know who—and where—your target customer really is, right now?

Chances are good you have no idea.

Once upon a time, marketing was focused solely on demographics—age, gender, income level, ethnicity, geographic location, or a combination of these things. But that was in the era of passive marketing. Think about all those wheelchair and pain-reliever commercials that ran during late-night Matlock and Golden Girls reruns. Billboards for chocolate and soda on the subway platform. You get the picture.

But that model is from the pre-mobile, pre-digital economy. The passive marketing era is dying a slow death, if not over completely. Instead, we’ve moved into an on-demand economy, where people frequently make snap buying decisions in real time. But these aren’t the typical mindless impulse purchases—they’re made in the context of digital information. People choose which restaurant to go to in a specific neighborhood by checking apps on their phones. They play mobile games like Pokemon Go searching for PokeStops around town that often lead them into specific businesses. They use mobile apps for tracking everything from personal finance (like using Mint to track how much they spend on groceries versus dining out every week) to how many calories they’ve burned in the past hour. Many shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores use their phones to get product information and even digital coupons from QR codes displayed on the shelf next to products they might want to buy.

Long story short, effective marketing just isn’t passive anymore. Consumers are taking an active role in every purchasing decision they make, and marketers who don’t understand that are going to miss the boat. Therefore, thinking of your customer in the old way or even by demographics isn’t going to work most of the time. The market is far more complex and niche-driven nowadays.

What often drives purchases in an on-demand economy is something called atriggering event. In a nutshell, a triggering event is something that makes someone want to buy a specific thing, in a specific place, at a specific time. You have a very narrow window to capture this decision—often mere seconds. How do you do it?

Today’s app developers use proprietary algorithms to determine what functions or content users will see when using an app. These algorithms adapt automatically according to the mobile data collected from the apps. This same process can apply to marketers.

Think about how smartphones work. Mobile data, GPS signals, digital calendars/clocks, and even face-recognition technology in apps like Facebook can provide a plethora of contextual information than can trigger certain actions at certain times and in certain locations—regardless of what demographic the smartphone owner is a member of. This is key to understanding or even creating triggering events that consumers will respond to.

Examples of Event-Triggered Marketing Opportunities

Nearby restaurants. Create contextual ad campaigns that promote a specific nearby restaurant at lunch time. Think “It’s 11:55 and you’re craving sushi. Guess what? You’re only 2 blocks from Sushi Naru, a Zagat-rated sushi bar that’s hot on Yelp.” The ad includes a digital 2-for-1 coupon.

Music suggestions while exercising. Somebody turns on their RunKeeper app or the GPS detects that they’re moving along a bike path at cycling speed—those can be triggers showing that the smartphone user is exercising. You can create a contextual ad campaign that is programmed to suggest a workout playlist from a music app when these triggers are met: “Hey, I see you’re working out. Have you downloaded Taylor Swift’s rocking new single yet? Here’s a sample.”

Tying rideshare apps with driving directions (think Mapquest, Google Maps):When someone looks up driving directions on one of the many digital map apps, it’s a perfect time to target them for a ride-share. How about this: “Do you really want to deal with all of that traffic and those tricky on-off ramps yourself? Sit back, relax, and call an Uber.”

These are all common, everyday situations in consumers’ lives that can be monetized if you know how the technology (and the psychology) behind them works. Rethink your marketing strategies away from old-school, passive demographics and towards context-specific, event-triggered campaigns, and you’ll find that you can move the needle a lot faster.

The Rise of Argentina’s Startup Scene

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Right in the center of Buenos Aires, “Espacio Bitcoin” (Bitcoin Space) is a meeting Argentina’s Bitcoin community. It was started in early 2012 by Wenceslao Casares, an Argentinean entrepreneur who developed an online bank in the 90’s and today is the CEO of Xapo, a Bitcoin Bank.

At Espacio Bitcoin they organize developer meetups to share notes and information on this new technology. Franco Amanti, one of the leaders of the local Bitcoin community, set up shop there.  Franco is one of the founders of Bitcourt, a startup offering contract certifications in the blockchain, which is one of the tech infrastructure pieces supporting Bitcoin.

“Argentina and Venezuela are the two countries where Bitcoin is used the most”, Franco explains. It makes sense. Both Argentina and Venezuela have endured populist governments for years, closed economies and high inflation rates. However, winds of change are blowing these days. At least in Argentina. Mauricio Macri won the Presidential elections and became President in December 2015.  The son of an important Argentinean businessman, Mauricio is the former President of the Boca Juniors Soccer Athletic Club, one of the most important soccer teams in Argentina and former Mayor of Buenos Aires. Macri started his presidential term with measures to immediately open up the economy and insert Argentina once again in the global markets. These events have spiked interest in the Argentinean Startup scene, the only country in the region with companies that have IPOed in the NASDAQ. This article offers a glance into the who’s-who in the Argentinean Entrepreneurial Scene.

A Little Bit of History

In order to understand the Argentinean entrepreneurial ecosystem we need to start by looking at the 90’s when, after years of high inflation rates and a closed economy, Carlos Menem’s government propelled economic reforms to open up the country. This period coincided with the “Internet bubble” and Buenos Aires became the regional “dot com” hub . During that time, about 70% Latin America’s venture capital was concentrated in Buenos Aires. It was then that the equivalent of Silicon Valley’s “PayPal Mafia” was formed in Argentina.

A young group of entrepreneurs started the first “dot coms” in Argentina. Wenceslao Casares was one of them. Others include Marcos Galperin and Hernan Kazah, founders of MercadoLibre.com, eBay’s regional equivalent (where eBay is also a stakeholder) which IPO’d in the NASDAQ in 2007. Andy Freire and Santiago Bilinkis founded OfficeNet, which was acquired by Staples in 2004. All of them became inspirational entrepreneurial leaders in a country where, until then, people viewed the typical corporate managerial ladder as the only way for the middle class to move forward.

Silvia Torres Carbonell is the renowned Dean of the Argentinean Enterprise Institute (IAE) Business School, one of the most recognized schools in the region. She had a front-row seat overlooking  the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region. “20 years ago people rarely talked about entrepreneurship” She comments. “But by the end of the 90’s  and the internet boom, becoming an entrepreneur became the path of choice”.

The 90’s did not end up well for Argentina. After a steep economic crisis, the country suffered a severe currency devaluation and defaulted on its public debts in 2001. In this traumatic context, Nestor Kirchner arrived to power, with a populist discourse aligned with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Kirchner was succeeded by his wife, Cristina Fernandez. In a hostile environment towards private enterprise, business  froze. Even during this difficult business environment, an entrepreneurial group led by Martin Migoya, Guilbert Englebienne, Martin Umaran and Nestor Nocetti started the tech outsourcing company Globant, which IPOed in the NASDAQ in 2014.

Throughout this decade, the Argentinean entrepreneurial ecosystem has been propelled by its entrepreneurs’ creativity, the quality of the local universities and the difficulty in raising capital; mostly due to public policies working against foreign capital investment in the country. In this context of foreign investment capital scarcity, the successful entrepreneurs from the 90’s “dot com” era became the main suppliers of capital to Argentina’s startup ecosystem  

Accelerator & Investors

Santiago Bilinkis, Andy Freire and Pablo Simon have spent a lifetime as an entrepreneurial group. During the 90’s they founded OfficeNet, and office supplies retailer, which they sold to Staples in 2004. In 2013, they starter Quasar Ventures, working under the “startup studio” format. Quasar looks for high potential entrepreneurial ideas and then chooses a team to execute them and bring them to fruition. They take 45% of the equity and the entrepreneurs take 55%. Their offices overlook the River Plate soccer stadium one of the most popular soccer teams in Argentina. Some of the most successful Argentinean startups in the most recent years were born and incubated there.

“Avenida.com” is the local adaptation of Amazon.com. They raised a Series C round in November 2015. Overall they have raised over U$D 50 million to date. Restorando, a restaurant table-booking platform similar to OpenTable in the US has raised U$D 24 million. One of Quasar’s latest creations is Rodati, which aspires to revolutionize the way car are bought and sold in Latin America.

“Argentina has a very good talent pool and a much lower cost than Silicon Valley” says Santiago Bilinkis. “That is why it is a great place to set up a platform to develop new projects aiming at both the regional and global markets”.

Quasar’s strategy is regional. It usually takes an idea or business model that works somewhere else and adapts it to the Latin American reality. They start in Argentina and then scale regionally. If they achieve traction in Brazil, with a 200 million people market, they can aim for a strategic buyer acquisition.

Quasar shows a typical strategy followed by many Argentinean startups. In general, they try to replicate the success seen in other geographies. Very few try to innovate globally. However, we find these cases too! The most salient one in Satellogic, a nanosatellites company founded by Emiliano Kargieman.

Satellogic, Running the Space Race from Argentina

Emiliano Kargieman is a serial entrepreneur in cybersecurity as well as a Venture Capitalist. While attending Singularity University in Silicon Valley in 2010, he came up with the idea for Satellogic. It is Headquartered in Buenos Aires’ Palermo neighborhood, where half a dozen scientists wearing bunny suits similar to the ones you can find at Intel’s manufacturing facilities assemble satellites as small as a soccer ball.

“Developing and launching a traditional satellite takes about 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars” Explains Kargieman. “We plan to launch a constellation of small satellites at a much lower cost, connect them and make them work as a network”. Over 100 satellites will continuously orbit Earth while taking High Resolution images. This way we will be able to take pictures of our planet in almost real time, for applications from marine routes optimization to oil pipes control and harvest yield computations.

Satellogic was incubated at INVAP, a state enterprise focused on space technology located in the Patagonia region. It has a distributed workforce in Argentina, the United States, Israel, France and the UK.

“This kind of infrastructure will change the way we related to our planet” states an excited Kargieman, a big fan of Stanislaw Lem, the Polish science fiction writer. “Space is going through a revolutionary phase. This industry is becoming much more competitive. A new space race”.

Venture Capital

Many startups in the Argentinean ecosystem start their journey applying to NXTP Labs or Wayra, Accelerator and Incubators that function with a similar format to Y Combinator. They take teams with some kind of prototypes or proofs of concept and invest U$D 20K to 50K in the venture. However, getting into one of these programs that not guarantee success. Problems arise later, when the need to raise a seed investment round of capital.

Mario Tapia, a specialist in the mobile market in Silicon Valley states: “a significant disadvantage for a startup located in Argentina is the lack of access to seed and angel investment financing”. Carlos Esnal, CEO of LugLoc, a company focus on luggage tracking comments: “in Silicon Valley, an idea written on a napkin can easily raise a million dollars. In Argentina, to get a million dollars the product needs to be much more advanced and show a lot more traction”.

These kinds of companies look for a seed investment round of about U$D400K to 600K. These amounts are usually raised from angel investment rounds in which each angle ponies up between U$D 50K to U$D 100K. The situation gets a little trickier if the company keeps growing to the point of needing venture funding.

“After the internet boom, when many funds from abroad came to invest, there was practically no venture funding in Argentina” comments Carolina Dams, Dean of Austral University’s School of Management Sciences and venture capital researcher. The VC funds did not trust Argentina which was nationalizing private pension funds and enterprises. One of the first post dot com bubble funds was CAP, which was formed by both private investors and the IADB.

“In 2007, when the CAP fund was launched, it was very hard to build a pipeline and deal flow because there were very few companies that fit the investment criteria for venture capital” points Manuel Mauer, CAP’s fund manager. “Today the ecosystem is much more developed, but still has its limitations. A traditional fund investment cycle of 6 to 7 years it’s usually too short for the timelines of a typical Argentinean startup. Moreover, there are very few potential buyers within the country to consider a strategic purchase of a company a viable investment exit”.

As opposed to many Silicon Valley funds, the CAP fund is a general fund, not specialized in any specific industry vertical. It holds investments in food, Telemedicine, Internet, and eCommerce. The CAP Fund participated in these investments with amounts from U$D 300K to 3 million. The ecosystem does not offer a big enough deal flow to justify specialization. The “Smart Money” and the experience to build companies with global ambition and not as abundant in Buenos Aires.

NXTP Labs

NXTP Labs is an accelerator created in 2011 by Marta Cruz, Ariel Arrieta, Francisco Coronel and Gonzalo Costa, following the Y Combinator format. They are Argentina’s most active early stage fund  and an important player in Latin America.

They have a portfolio of about 160 companies with founders from 15 different countries, with offices in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and the US. NXTP lab invests in a wide range of tech companies, such a eCommerce, mobile, gaming, new media and digital marketing. They invest U$D 25K in exchange for 2% to 10% of the company. Fintech is one of NXTP’s latest vertical focus.

NXTP Labs is raising a U$D 120 million fund. “It will help us invest additional money (between U$D 1 to 5 million) in about 32 companies, of which 70% are coming from our current portfolio” Explains Ariel Arrieta, NXTP partner.

Wayra

Wayra started in 2011 as an initiative from Telefonica Group. It has offices in 14 cities in Latin America and Europe. One of them is in Buenos Aires.

Wayra invests U$D 50K in each startup that makes it to their acceleration program, in exchange for 7% to 10% of the company. It offers entrepreneurs a great channel to commercialize their products through Telefonica’s mobile platform.

Wayra’s program is smaller than NXTP’s. They have invested in about 36 companies, in batches of 8 to 10.

Within Wayra’s investment portfolio we can find companies related to Internet of Things (IoT), education platforms and Big Data eCommerce solutions.

Kaszek Ventues

Kaszek was started in 2011 by Hernan Kazah and Nicolas Szekasy, cofounder and ex CFO of MercadoLibre. While founded by Argentineans and having an office in Buenos Aires, Kaszek’s investment activity in Argentina is small. They raised a U$D 95 million fund mostly from capital from the US, which they investment in 23 companies. They raised an additional U$D 135 million in January 2014 which they are still deploying today.

Some of their investments in Argentinean companies include Eventioz (ticket booking platform for events and shows, similar to Eventbrite in the US), Restorando and GoIntegro (Corporate HR platform) Kaszek focuses on Series A rounds investing amounts in the order of U$D 3 million.

Human Capital

In November 24th, 1960, the first computer in Latin America arrives to Buenos Aires, where it was used for simulation processing. It was 18 meters long and was installed at the University of Buenos Aires. They named it Clementina, because each time it processed a program it chimed the tones of the popular Clementine song. Manuel Sadosky, the mathematician leading the team, is considered one of the fathers of Computer Science in Latin America.

Argentina was always an advanced country in terms of science in Latin America. Argentina is the only country in Latin America with 4 Nobel Prizes in science categories. Universities like ITBA and UTN train very good software engineers. Many of them end up working in Silicon Valley, where salaries are more than three times the U$D 30K per year usually earned in the Argentinean market.

If Argentina is to keep its engineers, its needs to set up enabling policies for startups and attract foreign capital for investment. This is the large task ahead for Mariano Mayer, a startup attorney. Mayer has led many city government entrepreneurial initiatives in Buenos Aires, which former Mayor is the current Argentinean president Mauricio Macri. Today Mayer is the leader and responsible for all federal policy related to entrepreneurship.

“Argentina currently ranks very low on the World Bank’s Doing Business index.” Says Mayer. “The first phase involves changing the norm to enable and make entrepreneurship easier”.

This is the work being tackled by the new Entrepreneurial Law, supported by the Argentinean Entrepreneurs’ Association. The Law aims to simplify the paperwork needed to incorporate a business and boost seed investments in particular and venture capital in general. We can refer to Chile’s success case to see that this is possible and the kind of benefits it can bring. In 2010, Chile launched “Startup Chile”, a program that offers companies U$D 40K without taking any equity in return for companies to set up shot in Chile for at least a year. Many Argentinean entrepreneurs are heading over to Chile to start their companies, taking advantage of the seed investment in a country open to capital markets, with a clear legal framework and economic stability.

Startups Future in Buenos Aires

In the movie The Third Man (1949), the character played by Orson Welles says: “Italy, for 30 years under Borgia ruling, it went through war, terror, murders and blood baths, but it also produced Michelangelo, Da Vinci and the Renaissance. Switzerland, on the other hand, enjoyed a lovely time, with 500 years of peace and democracy, and what did they produce? The Cuckoo clock”.

Argentina’s history seems more similar to that of Italy than Switzerland, both because of the origins of its immigrant population as well as a recent past marked by blood and terror from a dictatorship ruling the country between 1976 and 1983.

Argentina provides contrast. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Argentina was the 8th richest country on Earth. After that it suffered decades of economic stagnation and political instability since the 1940s with Peron coming to power. After the steep crisis of 2001, it went through Kirchner’s populist ruling. Now, Mauricio Macri’s new government promises a new alignment with the West and an open economy to help boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In their book Startup Nation, Dan Senor and Saul Singer study Israel’s success case in entrepreneurship, a country that has massively developed its entrepreneurial ecosystem in the last 20 years. The authors note that one of the key elements of Israel’s success is Chutzpah, the Hebrew word for a concept that could be translated as the “creative energy to overcome obstacles”.

Pablo Brenner is a Uruguayan engineer who lived in Israel during the time the entrepreneurial ecosystem was forming there. Today Pablo is  the General Manager for Globant Uruguay: “There are some similarities and differences between Israel in the 90’s and Argentina in 2015” Pablo notes. “Both Israel and Argentina have good scientists and universities. “Chutzpah allowed Israeli companies to attain goals that seemed impossible to reach. Argentina is, without a doubt the country with most chutzpah in the region”.

Argentina’s history is one of individual’s success and collective failure. The land of Messi, Pope Francis and Jorge Luis Borges. While its citizens and venerated around the globe, Argentina has lived through decades of economic stagnation since mid-20th century. The new government promises economic integration with the rest of the world as well as setup the conditions for a country of 40 million entrepreneurs. This promise gives hope to many in this land known for its lands and beef, but which has much more to offer to the tech world.

AUTHORS

Federico Ast. Studied Economics and Philosophy at the University of Buenos Aires. Enterprise Management PhD Candidate at the Argentinean Enterprise Institute (IAE) Business School. Entrepreneur, consultant, investigator and journalist specialized in tech companies. @federicoast

Leandro Margulis. Industrial & Systems Engineer. Yale MBA. Entrepreneur, investor, consultant and business accelerator in Silicon Valley and emerging markets. @leanmarg

How Advertising is Evolving: From “In Your Face Ads” to Sponsored Experiences

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What is a sponsored experience?
One of the examples that comes to mind from the “real” world, is the Sephora makeup session: When a customer walks into the store to get a free makeup session using the products from brands Sephora want to promote, that’s a sponsored experience.

How can we create sponsored experiences in the mobile world?
Advertising needs to evolve. Smartphone screens are very small (even though they have grown into phablets), and display ads take too much of that screen real estate. Hersh Choksi, VP Products & Strategy at Flightly, an exclusive Twitter advertising partner, agrees: “Mobile has been much faster to adopt native advertising, which aligns more with the idea of a sponsored experience rather than an interruptive ad.”

In today’s digital world, we see a shift towards convenience and instant gratification. Sponsored experiences can be part of this mobile content, and would provide users a convenient experience on their smartphones without having to leave the mobile app or browser experience they are currently in. So how can we provide meaningful experiences for brands that relate with users?

Here are some examples and use cases for sponsored experiences in the mobile world:

1. Meeting Locations
Many of us use our smartphones to coordinate when and where we are going to meet with colleagues and friends. When we are searching for that cool restaurant or bar, wouldn’t it make sense for either the location apps or restaurants themselves to pay for placement right there, at your fingertips?

2. Transportation
Once we decide on the place and time, we need to get there! Why couldn’t there be a sponsored transportation experience at this time to take an Uber or a Lyft? This could be sponsored or subsidized by the transportation company, or for the transportation company could pay for the opportunity to surface at this time in the user’s screen.

3. Music for Fitness
Let’s assume you are one of those people that track their physical activity while exercising; using apps to track your ride or map your run, etc. Let’s also assume you like to listen to some music to “pump you up” and energize you while exercising. Today you need to open your fitness apps and then go and open another music app to find that music. What if Pandora or Spotify would offer you a sponsored “Work out music” option within the fitness app itself?

I wanted to show you through the examples above how sponsored experiences can be meaningful to users and not be considered interruptive.

How would you prefer to have Sponsored Ads served up to you?

 

Keeping Financially Fit

 

Keeping Financially Fit:

There’s much more to getting and staying ahead financially than earning a good salary.  This article offers tips and best practices on ways to help improve one’s financial well-being.

Achieving financial success is no simple matter.  It takes hard work, perseverance and adherence to strategies of saving, investing and managing your finances. Just as there are good habits associated with staying physically fit, there are also best practices involved with keeping financially fit.  Simple strategies such as using debt wisely, taking advantage of tax- advantaged investment vehicles, and monitoring spending habits all go a long way toward helping you achieve your personal, business and financial goals.

Consider the “financially fit” best practices below.  If you are not already doing them, consider how they could improve your financial picture.

Reduce and manage debt.

  • Consider how much you spend on debt service for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, and student or other loans. Lenders typically look at two metrics when deciding whether or not to extend credit: the front-end and back-end ratios. The front-end ratio shows what percentage of your income goes toward housing expenses, including mortgage payments, real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance and association dues. The back-end ratio shows what portion of your income is needed to cover all of your monthly debt obligations, including housing, credit card bills, car loans, student loans and other debt service. Most lenders look for a front-end ratio of no more than 28% and a back-end ratio of 36% or less.1
  • Develop a plan for eliminating credit card debt. Credit card debt is one of the most expensive debts you can carry. Interest rates often top 18% on existing balances. Paying off just $100 more per month on a $5,000 balance could pay off the entire balance in 32 months instead of 94 months, saving almost $3,000 in interest (assuming an interest rate of 18% and a 2% minimum monthly payment).2
  • Check your credit report. Credit reports offer a snapshot of how the world views your “creditability.” Credit scores range between 300 points and 850 points, and most fall between 600 and 750. A score above 700 usually suggests good credit management.3 You can request a free copy of your credit report once each year from each of three major credit reporting agencies–Equifax, Experian and TransUnion–at AnnualCreditReport.com.

 

Manage your income and expenses.

  • Set a budget and track monthly spending. This is one of the most effective ways to control your costs. The simple act of recording expenses forces you to think about them and to see exactly how much you are spending on a given item on a monthly or annual basis. A $5 latte at the local coffee shop may seem insignificant on its own, but if you buy one five days a week, that adds up to over $100 per month and $1,200 per year.
  • Pay bills on time using online recurring services. Online bill payment saves time and postage, and lets you avoid late fees by automating payments for many services. Timely bill payment also factors in your credit score. According to FICO, credit history accounts for about 35% of your credit score.4
  • Cancel recurring expenses you don’t use. Many services today are purchased on a subscription basis, with monthly charges and automated annual renewals. That includes club memberships, gyms, newspapers, magazines or online publications, not to mention cable TV and phone service. Taken individually, none of these expenses may amount to a lot, but when looked at collectively over the course of a year, they can be surprisingly high. Consider how often you use these services or if they can be renegotiated with the provider by reducing elective options. 
Save more by taking advantage of tax-deferred accounts.
  • Contribute the maximum to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. Your company retirement savings plan offers one of the best ways to save for retirement. Contributions to traditional plans are tax deductible, and earnings are tax-deferred. And in many plans, employers will match a portion of your contributions. In a 401(k) plan, employees can contribute up to $17,500 in 2013. Individuals aged 50 or older can contribute an additional $5,500. 5
  • Contribute to an IRA. Contributions to a traditional IRA may be deductible, so they may reduce your taxable income. Contributions to a Roth IRA are after tax, but distributions are tax free when you retire. Whether or not you can contribute to a Roth is based on your Adjusted Gross Income. Traditional and Roth IRA contribution limits for the 2013 tax year–which may be made up until April 15, 2014–are $5,500 per individual and $6,500 for those aged 50 or older. 6 Note that deductibility of traditional IRA contributions phases out above certain income levels, depending upon your filing status and if you or your spouse are covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
  • Look into a Health Savings Account (HSA). If you have a high-deductible health plan, you may be able to contribute to a HSA. These accounts let you set aside pre-tax money to pay for health care costs not covered under your plan. The maximum contribution to an HSA for 2013 is $3,250 if you have single coverage, or $6,450 if you have family coverage. No income limits apply to HSAs, and funds do not have to be used in a given year. HSAs are offered through banks or other financial services companies, and may be available as part of your employer benefits package. For more information, see IRS publication 969 Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans.7 
Plan for the future.
  • Set aside money for emergencies and retirement. Whether through contributions to an employer plan or automated payroll deductions to a savings or investment account, making regular, systematic contributions is the easiest and most effective way to save over time. And when it comes to saving, time is your ally because of the power of compounding; so the earlier you start, the more you’ll save.
  • Create a will. Especially if you have children, a will serves not only to specify executors and beneficiaries of your estate, but also to designate guardians for minors. If you die without a will and have minor children, the probate court will appoint a guardian for them, and there is no guarantee that the court’s appointment of a guardian will coincide with your own wishes.
  • Review your beneficiaries annually. This includes your will, insurance policies and retirement accounts. Keep in mind that an account with a designated beneficiary is not included in your estate for distribution purposes. It is distributed to the designated beneficiary. So you will want to make sure your account beneficiaries are coordinated with named heirs in your will.

Footnotes/Disclaimers

1Source: Bankrate.com, http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/why-debt-to-income-matters-in-mortgages-1.aspx. 2Source: S&P Capital IQ. Example is hypothetical. Your results will differ.
3Source: Experian, http://www.experian.com/credit-education/what-is-a-good-credit-score.html.
4Source: Fair Isaac Corporation, 2013, http://www.myfico.com/crediteducation/whatsinyourscore.aspx.

5Source: Internal Revenue Service, http://www.irs.gov/uac/2013-Pension-Plan-Limitations.
6Source: Internal Revenue Service, http://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Retirement-Topics- IRA-Contribution-Limits.
7Source: Internal Revenue Service. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p969.pdf.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact [Angel Chavez 415-984-6008].
Article by Wealth Management Systems, Inc. and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor.

The author(s) are not employees of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”). The opinions expressed by the authors are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Morgan Stanley. The information and data in the article or publication has been obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley and Morgan Stanley makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of information or data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. Neither the information provided nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation by Morgan Stanley with respect to the purchase or sale of any security, investment, strategy or product that may be mentioned.

Tax laws are complex and subject to change. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”), its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice and are not “fiduciaries” (under ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code or otherwise) with respect to the services or activities described herein except as otherwise agreed to in writing by Morgan Stanley. This material was not intended or written to be used for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. Individuals are encouraged to consult their tax and legal advisors (a) before establishing a retirement plan or account, and (b) regarding any potential tax, ERISA and related consequences of any investments made under such plan or account.

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may only transact business in states where is registered or excluded or exempted from registration [Insert URL link to FA website or FINRA . Transacting business, follow-up and individualized responses involving either effecting or

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Omar Aguilar- On being a Corporate Partner with SVL

Chief Investment Officer, Equities, for Charles Schwab Investment Management, Inc expresses his thoughts on partnering with Silicon Valley Latino and their Signature Leadership Recognition Events. Last of an eight part interview.

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Omar Aguilar on Business Relationships

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Financing Real Estate Using Securities-Based Lending

This article discusses how an investment portfolio can help finance a real estate transaction via securities-based lending.

Deciding how to finance a real estate transaction can be as important as deciding which property to select. Most people think of mortgages as the way to finance real estate, but that might not always be the right solution. Liquidating financial assets to cover a large purchase such as real estate is another approach, but it can involve costs that are not immediately apparent, including potential tax consequences,1 the loss of future asset growth and/or an imbalance in your portfolio’s asset allocation.2

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A Different Way to Borrow
If one takes an integrated approach to their financial needs, there are various potential solutions for credit and liquidity needs. One strategy is securities-based lending.

When you establish a securities-based loan, you in essence unlock the value of your assets, allowing you quick and efficient access to funds (as long as there is adequate eligible collateral in the investment account). This may help you achieve a variety of real estate investment objectives, such as purchasing or constructing a primary or secondary home, financing a bridge loan to be used between selling one home and buying another, financing an investment in commercial or rental property or renovating your existing property.

A Potential Viable Alternative to Home Equity Lines of Credit
Prior to the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent housing market crash, some banks offered clients home equity lines of credit at 100% financing with low introductory interest rates and fees lower than mortgage costs.2 It was an inexpensive way to tap the equity in your home without refinancing your first mortgage. Then, when the real estate bubble burst and banks closed most home equity lines, those lines of credit disappeared along with the equity in the home. Some home equity lines of credit have a draw period, but once that period is up you can’t borrow more money and you must repay whatever you borrowed within the “repayment period.” Other home equity lines charge interest for a set period of time, but then charge an additional fee due at the end of the loan’s terms which may be so large that borrowers call it a “balloon amount.”3

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By comparison, securities-based loans or lines of credit typically offer competitive interest rates that tend to be lower than traditional bank financing options such as such as mortgages and home-equity lines of credit and other forms of borrowing.4
With no origination, maintenance or facility fees paid to the Bank and no down payment required, securities-based loans may be a cost-effective alternative to traditional bank financing.

Securities-Based Loan vs. Traditional Real Estate Loan—Illustrative Example*
What does it look like to purchase real estate with a securities-based loan instead of a traditional real estate loan? This example highlights some of the potential key advantages to this approach for a buying a $5MM property.

Securities-Based Loan Traditional Mortgage Loan*
Purchase Price $5,000,000 $5,000,000
Down Payment $0 $1,000,000**
Loan Amount $5,000,000 $4,000,000
Interest Rate*** 2.70% (L + 2.50%) 3.20% (L + 3.00%)
Annual Interest $135,000 $128,000
Origination Fee $0 varies

Funds Needed to Close $135,000**** $1,128,000*****

*The chart is for educational purposes only. All client situations are unique and all loans are subject to application and approval. For this example, the Traditional Mortgage Loan represents a 1 Month LIBOR adjustable rate mortgage.
**Assumes 20% down payment for bank financing, which is not necessary for securities-based loans.
***The interest calculation for a Securities-Based Loan is based on a LIBOR rate, which changes daily, plus an incremental percentage, which is determined by the approved loan amount. For this example, the LIBOR rate was 0.20% (as of April 3, 2013). The interest rate calculation for the Traditional Mortgage Loan depends not only on the interest rate, but also the outstanding principal balance from the month prior and the term. The calculation illustrated is a simplified estimate. LIBOR rates may be found at http://www.bankrate.com/rates/interest-rates/libor.aspx
****For letters of credit, there may be outside counsel costs for items such as the review of complicated trust agreements.
*****Real estate fees required for traditional bank financing are not included in the example. Real estate fees include real estate report fees and outside legal fees. The origination fee represents an upfront facility fee. The specific size of the fee may vary depending on the transaction, and it may also fluctuate. Underwriting requirements may include appraisal, survey and title search fees. Total costs will vary depending on the specific transaction. Some or all fees may not be refundable.

In addition to the benefits illustrated above, securities-based lending may offer other perks:

The process of applying for and closing a securities-based line of credit can be faster than the process for a traditional loan and relatively simple. The applicant can be an individual or a legal entity, such as a family trust, LLC, LLP or General Partnership.

There are flexible repayment options, including capitalizing the interest if you are borrowing for short term needs, paying interest only, or making payments to principal as desired. Many business owners find this helpful in managing seasonal cash flow for their business.

Perhaps the most important benefit is that since your investments are not liquidated, you preserve your potential for the growth of your assets.

There are risks associated with using your assets as collateral in a securities-based loan, and doing so is not beneficial for all clients. Sufficient collateral must be maintained and you may need to deposit additional eligible securities on short notice.2

For more information on these lending strategies and others, please contact Angel Chan, Private Banker with the El Camino Group for Morgan Stanley.
415-984-6006

1 Morgan Stanley and its Financial Advisors do not offer tax advice. Individuals should consult their personal tax advisor before making any tax-related investment decisions.

2 Securities-based Lending Risks: Borrowing against securities may not be suitable for everyone. You should be aware that securities-based loans involve a high degree of risk and that market conditions can magnify any potential for loss. Most importantly, you need to understand that: (1) Sufficient collateral must be maintained to support your loan(s) and to take future advances; (2) You may have to deposit additional cash or eligible securities on short notice; (3) Some or all of your securities may be sold without prior notice in order to maintain account equity at required collateral maintenance levels. You will not be entitled to choose the securities that will be sold. These actions may interrupt your long-term investment strategy and may result in adverse tax consequences or in additional fees being assessed; (4) Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC or its affiliates (the “Firm”) reserves the right not to fund any advance request due to insufficient collateral or for any other reason except for any portion of a securities-based loan that is identified as a committed facility; (5) The Firm reserves the right to increase your collateral maintenance requirements at any time without notice; and (6) The Firm reserves the right to call your securities-based loan at any time and for any reason.

Asset allocation does not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining financial markets.

3 The Wall Street Journal, “Home Equity Lines and HELOCS – Getting a Good Deal” December 17, 2008

4The Wall Street Journal, “Putting Stocks in Hock: Securities Are Backing for More Big Loans” March 4, 2013.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC is a registered Broker/Dealer, not a bank. Where appropriate, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC has entered into arrangements with banks and other third parties to assist in offering certain banking related products and services. Banking and credit products and services are provided by Morgan Stanley Private Bank, National Association or Morgan Stanley Bank, N.A., members FDIC (the “Banks”). The Banks and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC are affiliates. Investment products and services are offered through Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, member SIPC. Unless specifically disclosed in writing, investments and services offered through Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC are not insured by the FDIC, are not deposits or other obligations of, or guaranteed by, the Banks and involve investment risks, including possible loss of principal amount invested.

Article by McGraw Hill and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor.

The author(s) are not employees of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”). The opinions expressed by the authors are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Morgan Stanley. The information and data in the article or publication has been obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley and Morgan Stanley makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of information or data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. Neither the information provided nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation by Morgan Stanley with respect to the purchase or sale of any security, investment, strategy or product that may be mentioned.

Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor(s) engaged Silicon Valley Latino to feature this article.

Angel Chavez, CIMA® may only transact business in states where he is registered or excluded or exempted from registration www.morganstanleyfa.com/elcaminogroup/ Transacting business, follow-up and individualized responses involving either effecting or attempting to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, will not be made to persons in states where Angel Chavez, CIMA® is not registered or excluded or exempt from registration.

© 2013 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.

CRC 648831 4/2013

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Choosing the Right Financial Advisor Can Make or Break Your Retirement Goals

While many investors may not realize it, choosing the right financial advisor could quite possibly be the most important decision you ever make. Yet, there are some who will spend more time planning and researching a yearly vacation or automobile purchase than in analyzing the person who will be the driver of their retirement savings plan.

Some compare the process of picking a financial professional with that of hiring a key employee for a business – because the individual that is chosen will essentially be tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that assets continue to grow and that losses are minimized.

The advisor that you ultimately choose will play a big role in how – or if – your financial goals are achieved so that you can live the retirement lifestyle that you’ve dreamed of. With this in mind, there are several criteria that you should consider before turning your nest egg over.

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Determine Your Goals

Although most people dream of enjoying a relaxing retirement, doing so requires that you first determine specific goals that you would like to achieve. This includes having a good idea of what your future expenses will be, where you would like to live, and what activities you intend to participate in such as travel or hobbies. In coming up with an approximate expense figure, you can then “back in” to how much you will need in savings at a particular time in the future.

Seek Out Compatible Professionals

Once you have an idea of your investment goals, you should start researching financial professionals that may best fit with your specific financial needs, as well as with your risk tolerance and style.

Remember, you are choosing your advisor for a long-term relationship and with the intent of achieving very specific goals. Therefore, simply looking through ads or moving money to your best friend’s cousin won’t do.

Interview the Candidates

Once you have determined your short list of potential candidates, you should interview each one in order to determine whether or not they would be a good fit. While doing so over the phone can help you to get answers, oftentimes making a personal visit to the advisor’s office will give you a better feel as to how he or she runs their business.

Some important questions that should be asked of the advisor should include:

  • What is your background and experience in financial services? When inquiring about the advisor’s experience, you should ask him or her about the licenses that they hold, as well as any other qualifications such as industry designations. This will help you in sorting out the advisors who just view their position as a “job” and those who are career professionals.

 

  • What is your track record with other clients? There are several ways that a financial advisor’s track record can be evaluated. Certainly, a key component is how other clients’ portfolios have performed in relation to their goals. Another is whether or not the advisor has been involved in certain unethical or unlawful actions. In this instance, you can obtain information on any disciplinary actions from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s website if the advisor is registered with this entity.

 

  • How are you compensated? Knowing how an advisor gets paid is also an important factor. This is because there are several different types of compensation structures that are used in the financial industry. For example, advisors may be paid a flat fee for their services, they may be paid a commission based on the products that they sell to their clients, or their pay may constitute a combination of both.

 

  • Can we put it in writing? Once you have chosen an advisor to work with, the next step should be to get a written agreement that will outline the services they will provide you, as well as with the ways in which compensation will be paid for such services. Information in this document should also include details regarding the advisor’s investment strategies and certain benchmarks for the performance of your portfolio.

Stay Involved in All Decisions

Although you may find the perfect advisor and trust their judgment, it is imperative that you stay involved in all of the decisions regarding your portfolio. While your advisor will ultimately be the one transacting the purchase and sale of financial products, it is up to you to ensure that your advisor is working in your best interests.

*****

Adri1 Adriana Hammond is a Financial Advisor with CONCERT Wealth Management in San Jose, California where she specializes in working with Canadian and Latin immigrants. She advises on issues of immigration as they relate to taxes, inheritances and retirement. As a Colombo-Canadian, she possesses a unique understanding of the international markets and is fluent in both written and spoken Spanish.

CONCERT Wealth Management can be found at www.ConcertGlobal.com and Adriana.Hammond@ConcertGlobal.com