The World’s 3 Most Impenetrable Banks

As banking moves online and people worry about using cyber-secure passwords to protect their savings accounts, it’s easy to forget that all banks are physically secure. Some financial institutions are ridiculously secure, making the prospect of organizing a bank heist very daunting indeed. Of all the treasuries in the world, these three have gone to great lengths to ensure that their contents remain safe and sound.

1) Fort Knox – The United States

A US Army post located in Kentucky, Fort Knox is a fortified vault used to store the United States’ gold reserves. Thieves hoping to steal American gold bullion must scale four surrounding fences-two of which are electric-sneak past several armed patrols, and avoid video cameras to make it to the vault’s exterior wall. Once inside, the safe itself proves to be the largest obstacle. No one on the planet knows the entire combination to the Fort Knox safe. The only way in is to gather several staff members that know portions of the combination. Even after breaking in and gathering loot, 30,000 American soldiers will be waiting to meet thieves on their way out.

2) Svalbard Golden Seed Vault – Norway

Located 430 feet below sea level, the Svalbard Golden Seed vault is built to survive Armageddon. This facility houses 500,000 plant species in a temperature-controlled environment, which acts as a safety net in the event that the Earth loses vital plant species. Its location deep underground protects it from natural disaster, and its remoteness prevents any potential human saboteurs from reaching the facility, let alone breaking into it. Its concrete structure and four steel doors can even protect the facility from a direct nuclear strike. In addition to the armed patrols, air locks, and video cameras, the area around Svalbard is occupied by 3,000 polar bears-a natural defense against any intruders.

3) Bahnhof Underground Center – Sweden

Who knew that an Internet provider could construct and monitor one of the most impenetrable facilities in the world? Swedish Internet provider Bahnhof converted an old nuclear bomb shelter into a data bunker that now houses the servers for WikiLeaks and other important information. It’s located 100 feet below a mountain in Stockholm, and it boasts a 1.5-foot thick steel door to keep out any unwanted visitors. In the event of a power outage, the facility is equipped with enough backup generators to keep the bunker running for weeks.

It is unlikely that any local banks can boast the same security measures, but customers can rest assured that every financial institution is equipped with enhanced security.

Modern Financial Advising For Beginners

The Internet is a testament to the fact that there are DIY approaches to practically every need for which one might have traditionally requested another’s assistance. Financial planning is no exception. Those looking to start investing in careers often tend to believe they are capable of creating their own success. While individual success is not completely unheard of, it is rare. Services to expand financial gain are no longer exclusively for the wealthy. In fact, according to many experts, hiring help could drastically improve one’s chances of coming out on top financially in the long run. Still, many find it difficult to initiate the process. Here are some tips from a seasoned financial advisor for beginners.

Admitting It Is The First Step

Like with any significant self-improvement, determining whether or not you need assistance is the key to financial success. Unless you are a natural at portfolio management, you probably could benefit from the help of an expert. Deciding to allow someone to help create your monetary triumph is crucial. There is no shame in needing their expertise, especially when it has become so easy to do so affordably. Many modern companies have significantly lower minimum account requirements than previously held by traditional firms. Financial advisors have never been more accessible to new investors.

Decide to Invest

According to a seasoned financial advisor, the heart of financial planning can be summed up pretty simply: “You either have a plan, or you don’t.” Those without a specific approach often fail. After recruiting assistance, dedication to investment is crucial. Realize that attention to the status of your current portfolio is an investment into the status of your future portfolio. Decide that you are going to take a guided, methodical path to a more comfortable financial end. Sporadic, overly passive investment approaches are common pitfalls of individual investors who fail when attempting to go it alone. A solid strategist will encourage your desires by motivating you to remain dedicated to your plan. Remember-the sooner you begin planning, the longer your plan has to succeed.

Focus On The Future; Be Aware of The Present

The end goal of investment is the future increase. Trends in finance are constantly changing. A financial advisor can be of great assistance in this area, being more knowledgeable of these changes in a way that will increase the probability of multiplying your returns. Vigilant monitoring of the current climate is vital. Be sure that you have enlisted the assistance of someone who is dedicated to such surveillance. While your strategy might not necessarily always be comfortable, keep in mind that your future will be.

With the widened availability of financial advisors, it is more realistic than ever to begin investing. Regardless of the account size bracket into which you fall, there is undoubtedly a service for you. Realize that hiring a partner and having a plan are ways of presently managing your future. In the wise words of an experienced CFP, “The first step in planning is deciding to have one.”

5 Questions You Should Ask Your Financial Advisor

Managing your wealth, no matter how big or small, is a cumbersome task. Your financial advisor helps to keep your money safe while making it work for you. Before you start working with someone, ask them these important questions.

What Certifications Do You Have?

You need to know what licenses and certification your financial advisor has. Most of the top consultants are certified public accountants, fund specialists, consultants, or analysts. Some even carry a Juris doctorate and insurance licenses. While everyone has to start somewhere, you want to work with a firm that has extensive experience in the field.

What Safeguards Are in Place to Protect Assets from Fraud?

Your assets need to be protected by a reputable custodian. When you ask about safeguards, you should also ask about any infractions he or she has received in the past both with the firm and as an individual. To provide you with the best service, your financial advisor should be a fiduciary.

Consultants with a strict code of ethics have standards that they share with their clients. However, no matter their standards, they should be in compliance with Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, state and regulatory agencies, and the Security’s and Exchange Commission.

What Are Your Fees?

When it comes to fees, your counselor should be 100 percent transparent. He or she needs to explain his or her exact fee structure, so you understand how you are paying. Some are fee-only, meaning they provide a flat rate for services rendered.

Some investment consultants charge a commission fee. That means they make money off each product you purchase to help your investments grow. It is important to know which one you are working with, or if you are with someone who charges a fee in addition to earning commissions.

What Access Do You Have to Earning Reports?

As your financial advisor, he or she should have direct access to the top holdings of where your investments are. He or she needs to be able to tell you immediately what the earnings report is anytime you call.

At the very least, he or she should be able to educate you on your holdings before any investment of assets. By educating you on available options and what assets are invested, you can better understand what the consultant suggests.

How Often Do You Communicate

When it comes to letting you know how your money is doing, the counselor should be open to communication. He or she should send out weekly announcements about the market. Also, you must be informed of trade notifications immediately and receive an explanation on every buy and sell option. Most firms also send out information about their monthly investment outlook as well as a quarterly outlook. Brokers also offer to keep their customers informed with educational information and fact sheets.

Why the Federal Reserve Matters to You

The Federal Reserve (the Fed) has been highly prominent in the news media over the last few months as they debate when to begin raising interest rates. Federal Reserve decisions can have a significant impact on the economy, but the impact on individuals is not always as clear.

By law, the Fed has two primary objectives: To maximize employment and keep inflation under control. Of course, the Fed does not have a magic wand to control economic activity, but it seeks to influence economic trends through what is called monetary policy, or the ability to push interest rates higher or lower.

Higher interest rates typically ease the pace of economic expansion by making loans for everything from homes to automobiles more expensive. The slower pace of economic growth should subsequently ease inflation pressures. Conversely, lower interest rates should encourage borrowing, which should lead to higher spending and as a result, greater demand for employees. For individuals, this can mean better job prospects or higher wages.

How do they do it?

Technically speaking, the Fed does not directly raise or lower the interest rates that individuals or corporations pay for loans or receive on savings. Such interest rates are called “market-based” rates, as ultimately they are determined by the demand for loans and the supply of savings. However, the Fed does have considerable influence over what is called the “Fed Funds” rate. This is the interest rate that banks are charged on overnight loans.

Raising or lowering the rate at which banks themselves must pay to borrow typically influences the rate that banks charge their customers for loans, or what they are willing to pay their depositors. The relationship, however, is not direct. For instance, the Fed may seek to raise interest rates, but if there is not strong enough demand for loans, banks may find it difficult or impossible to pass along the higher rates to customers.

How interest rates affect the economy

During the financial crisis in 2008, as the economy fell into a deep recession, the Fed took the drastic action of cutting the Fed Funds target rate to near zero percent. It has maintained this position since that time. Some believe the economy has recovered sufficiently and the Fed can now afford to raise rates, at least modestly. Others are concerned that if rates rise too quickly, it will dampen the rate of economic growth and potentially have a negative impact on economic growth.

What a change in rates could mean

Ultimately, any Fed decisions that affect credit markets can have an impact on us as savers or borrowers. Over time, if the economy continues to slowly strengthen, inflation pressures could become more prevalent, thus prompting Fed officials to push interest rates higher. That could mean higher mortgage rates, which might translate into having to buy a lower-priced home to afford the payments. It also may make it more expensive to obtain an automobile loan. Of course, you don’t want to make a major purchase – such as a home or car – simply because the Fed may raise rates. Ensure that any big expenditure fits within the context of your long-term financial plan.

For savers, the implications are a bit more complicated. You have savings that you want to lend (to generate interest income), but if there are few potential borrowers, or a lot of savers with funds to lend, the return on those savings could remain low regardless of Federal Reserve actions.

What’s ahead?

To this point, speculation regarding the Fed policy has had limited impact on the economy itself. Growth has remained modest but steady. By contrast, the investment markets have been much more volatile in recent months as investors tried to predict the Fed’s moves. Be prepared for continued ups-and-downs in the market, due at least in part to ongoing efforts to try to predict potential changes in direction of the Federal Reserve’s policies.

Finally, keep in mind that there a wide range of factors outside of the Fed’s control that can significantly impact the economic situation. So although the Fed’s tools can be a powerful influence over the economy, they are by no means absolute.

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