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How To Invest in Funds

Invest In Funds

Investing in funds is a great way to ensure that your portfolio is diversified, with minimal effort. Picking individual stocks to invest in is a time-consuming, research-heavy activity. It also puts a lot of pressure on the investor. It’s not easy, as a layperson, to understand all the machinations in the financial industry. Funds take the guesswork and pressure out of investing.

Funds can be organized in a number of different ways. Some funds are directed by a manager. These managers are typically finance professionals with years of experience. Their goal is to help investors beat the competition. Managers want to ensure that their fund outperforms other funds and the market in general.

Funds like this can be income-class or accumulation-class. Income-class funds are a good choice for people like retirees, who use the money to live on. Accumulation-class funds roll gains like dividends back into the fund, to buy additional shares. Funds typically have two types of fees. Firstly, there’s an initial fee, though this can often be avoided by purchasing through a broker. Secondly, there are annual fees for management. Between investments and fees, fund managers can do quite well, even when their funds do not beat the market.

Usually, these funds have a minimum investment for people to buy in. This could be $1000 or $1500. Alternatively, some funds become available as part of retirement plans. For example, some 401(k) and 403(b) plans offer funds that have a target maturity date. This makes it easy for employees to choose a fund based on when they will reach retirement age.

Investment trusts are another instrument that uses a fund-style setup. These are less commonly used. This is partly because managers do not earn commission on them. However, there are also disadvantages to investment trusts. For example, they are traded on stock exchanges themselves. They have a limited number of shares and raising new money means a process of issuing new shares.

Investment trusts can also fluctuate above or below their actual market value. Some investment trusts, however, perform very well. Known as dividend heroes, they increase their dividends annually. The City of London, for example, increased dividends for over 45 years in a row at one point. Some investors put money into both types of funds, to diversify their holdings.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) And Its Uses

Ai

Artificial Intelligence, sometimes abbreviated as AI, is a branch of science that many industries have employed for beneficial purposes. The following brief blog will examine what AI is and the subject’s practical usages.

AI Defined

Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science in which technological machines such as computers are programmed to think and react as human beings would. Specifically, said devices are designed to display humanistic traits such as thought, reasoning, reasoning, perception, and problem-solving. In some cases, said devices could also be programmed to move specific objects.

Specific Uses For AI

Artificial intelligence is gaining popularity in a wide array of traditional industries including:

Health Care

Devices programmed to utilize AI principles are being employed to perform various diagnostic tests like X-rays and other bodily scanning apparatuses.

Manufacturing

Computers utilizing AI principles have been used by the manufacturers of various products to analyze data that can help determine important factors like cost, productivity, and efficiency. Said concepts can help companies exhibit greater productivity and fiscal responsibility.

Finance/Banking

The financial services industry has embraced AI and employed machines demonstrating such capabilities to perform tasks including analyzing stock market trends, sorting through complex economic data, measure cost-effectiveness and execute various customer service functions.

Education

Academic institutions such as universities have employed Chatbots (computer-generated voices and programs) to interact with students regarding specific lessons and to answer various questions said individuals might have.

Transportation

Transportation entities have employed AI to help improve their logistical capabilities. Specifically, said devices have been used to establish a more cost-effective method of utilizing fuel and navigated the quickest, safest and most cost-effective shipping and flying routes. Representatives of some transportation organizations are confident self-operating transportation crafts like vehicles may eventually become commonplace.

Advertising
AI is gaining widespread use in advertising. Advertising and marketing firms utilize devices with said capabilities to analyze pertinent data such as prospective customer bases, the success rates of websites and other marketing tools and customer buying trends.

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What Is An Expense Ratio?

Expense Ratio

 

When a person invests money in a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund, the fund provider must charge fees to cover its costs. The expense ratio tells an investor how much a fund charges to offset its operating costs. It is essential that investors understand the expense ratio because this metric directly affects the amount of profit the investor will make.

Expense Ratio Definition

The expense ratio for a mutual fund or ETF is the sum of the fund’s annual operating expenses divided by the fund’s average assets for the year. For example. a fund with operating expenses of $4 million and average assets of $500 million has an expense ratio of 0.8 percent.

An individual investor can use the expense ratio to calculate an estimate of the fee he will be charged for operating expenses by multiplying his investment by the expense ratio. Suppose he has invested $10,000 and the fund’s expense ratio is 0.8 percent. Multiply $10,000 by 0.8 percent. The fee comes to $80.

Expense Ratio Components

The expense ratio of a fund represents the sum of a variety of costs. Some of these costs are expenses for fund management, the fund’s board of directors, fund distribution and custodial fees. Others include legal costs, accounting, investor advisory expenses and the cost of shareholder reports. The expense ratio does not include sales fees, commissions or loads. It also does not include brokerage fees or interest and dividends on borrowed securities.

The above describes a gross expense ratio. Funds may also report a net expense ratio. The net expense ratio differs from a gross expense ratio in that it includes interest and dividends paid on borrowed securities.

Typical Expense Ratios

The average expense ratio has ranged from 0.78 percent to 0.82 percent in recent years. Expense ratios vary depending on the type of fund. For example, actively managed funds tend to have higher expense ratios than index funds that seek to mirror the makeup and performance of an index such as the Standard and Poors 500. Investors should do some comparison shopping before investing. As a rule, a fund’s performance should be good enough to more than offset a higher-than-average expense ratio.

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The Most Popular Tools and Programming Languages for Machine Learning

Programmer

 

Advances in technology are causing a shift from traditional software programming to machine learning. Traditional programming entails a human developer inputting code in order for a computer to recognize the difference between two objects. Machine learning changes that task from telling the computer what to think, to teaching the system how to think. With these advances in artificial intelligence making such strides many tech companies are making the transition.

In a recent survey by O’Reilly Media, the top tools being utilized by today’s tech firms were compiled. As many companies are still examining the usefulness of this technology, most are in the evaluation phase of these products. The survey found that the most commonly utilized tools were for model visualization or automated model search and hyperparameter tuning. Therefore, it was not surprising to find that most of the tools noted are in the form of supervised learning, whereby large amounts of data are inputted in order to teach a system how to differentiate between items. For instance, in order to teach the system to tell a STOP sign apart from a YIELD sign, hundreds of images of each type of sign would be uploaded into the system.

In February 2019, an article was released with the results itemizing the top contending tools and their features. The following is a list of those tools and the percentage in which they are being utilized by businesses, out of the over 1300 people who participated in the survey. The survey consisted mainly of persons who work in the healthcare, technology, and finance industries.

 

  1. TensorFlow – 55%
  2. scikit-learn – 48%
  3. Keras – 34%
  4. PyTorch – 29%
  5. Azure ML Studio – 17%
  6. Google Cloud ML Engine – 16%
  7. Spark NLP – 16%
  8. Amazon SageMaker – 12 %
  9. H20 – 8%
  10. spaCy/Prodigy – 8%
  11. OpenAI Gym – 5%
  12. BigDL and Analytics Zoo – 8%
  13. AylienNLP – 1%
  14. RISE Lab Ray – 1%

 

Another forty-three percent were noted as utilizing other open source tools, as well as another 22% which utilized other cloud-based services.

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Smartphone Cameras Begin Using AI to Take Better Pictures

Smartphone Camera

Phone cameras have come a long way in the past decade, and one of the biggest shifts has been in the way that people capture photos. Unlike traditional cameras that use various lenses and other physical tools to create an ideal image, smartphones use digital manipulation to transform pictures caught with a very basic lens. Modern smartphone photography is now all about the phone’s software instead of the hardware.

For example, Apple’s recent models allow users to employ “bokeh” on their phone. In traditional photography, specially shaped lenses are used to make out of focus lighting blur into a pleasantly soft background. For Apple users, this effect is achieved by the phone’s software adjusting pixels after the picture is taken.

The reason that smartphones are changing photography is mostly due to advances in machine learning. Photo adjustments that once took hours of uploading pictures to a computer and carefully manipulating pixels in photo editing programs can now be done almost instantly. Algorithms that find a way to fine tune and speed up the process can have truly impressive results.

One of the most interesting modern applications has been in Google’s newfound ability to take pictures at night. With the smartphone’s capability to capture and refine dim details in the dark, people can take nighttime images that look almost like day. This sort of shot is almost impossible with normal photography techniques that would require extensive exposures and infrared sensors.

In the future, we can expect even more stunning applications of machine learning and photography. The next breakthrough is likely to be using machine learning to shift perceptions of space. Smartphone cameras have such small lens barrels that most images suffer from a subtle distortion. Usually, the only solution for this distortion is a tilt-shift lens that adjusts the angle between the photographer and the picture they want to capture. However, new machine learning may use 3D sensors to discern the angle of a phone camera and reduce distortion.

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What is Fintech?

Fintech

Ask most entrepreneurial experts, and they would agree that starting and running a business is not always easy when money comes into play. For years, businesspeople could only rely on their financial institutions to obtain products and services through areas like lending, personal finance, retail and institutional investments, equity financing, consumer banking, etc. Today, Fintech has leveled the playing field around the globe by providing individuals and businesses with digital tools to conduct money transfers, loans, mobile payments, asset management, and fundraising.

FinTech stands for Financial Technologies. In today’s world, people are seeking convenience, speed, and easy access, and Fintech allows for a company from the small to large level to handle important matters quickly. For example, PayPal is a Fintech company that focuses on mobile commerce and now considered to be the largest online payment system in the world.

Fintech is making business start-ups a lot easier. No longer does an entrepreneur have to walk into the bank to ask for a loan or worry about accepting credit cards for their business and all the hassles and bulky equipment that go with it. With Fintech solutions like mobile payments and money transfer services, those obstacles can be quickly overcome.

If one needs an investor to help realize their big entrepreneurial dream, they can go online and seek out crowdfunding in the Fintech way. One can gain access to people around the world who will fund the startup capital quickly and inexpensively.

Even a small hot dog stand can accept payments from customers through online tools like PayPal and Square. It’s safe, simple to use, and fees are low.

Yes, Fintech is spoiling the customer; people expect the perfect mobile experience as they’d get from their local bank. The customer wants to use their credit card and have the process go through seamlessly.

The financial industry is morphing. Businesses need to stay ahead of the curve, and Fintech is a rising star.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Stock Investing

A Guide To Stocks

Investing in stocks is known as one of the easiest and most profitable ways to grow wealth over time. There is quite a lot to learn before you start investing in stock, so here is a brief beginner’s guide to help you with the basics.

Where to Begin?

To begin, you’ll need to open an investment account. If you’re more hands-on, this means opening a brokerage account, but if you feel like you will need some help, opening an account through a robo-advisor, which is a service that offers investment management at a low-cost. Opening an online brokerage account yourself is the quickest and the least expensive path.

The Basics

So what is stock? The stock market is made up of exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. They are listed on a specific exchange, that brings buyers and sellers together and serves as a market for the shares of those stocks. The thing about stocks is that it’s not like you’re typical grocery store experience where you select your shares off of a shelf. In the stock market, you have individual traders who are typically represented by a stockbroker and you place your trades through the broker who then deals with the exchange on your behalf.

Understanding the Stock Market

When you hear about the stock market being up or down, this generally is referring to one of the major market indexes. A market index tracks the performance of a group of stocks, which represents the market either as a whole or as a specific sector such as technology or retail companies.

Setting a Budget

The amount of money you need depends on how expensive the shares are. Shares can range anywhere from a few dollars to a few thousand. If individual stocks are the most appealing to you, research which stocks are going to be worth your time and have the most potential for long-term growth and start there.

Stock Trading

Not everyone who buys and sells stocks is considered a stock trader. Depending upon the frequency in which they transact and the strategies driving their actions, they are either traders or investors. Stock traders frequently buy and sell stocks to capitalize on their daily price fluctuations. These stock traders have a goal to make extra money in the short-run, whether it’s in the next hour, days, or months rather than purchasing shares in a large company to pass onto their grandchildren.

Bear vs Bull Markets

A bear market means stock prices are falling. The opposite, bull market is when prices rise, which is what we’ve been in since the beginning of 2009. The good news is that the average bull market outlasts the average bear market, which means you can grow your money in the long run by investing in stocks.

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Best Programming Languages to Learn

Computer Programming

It’s widely understood that learning a new language is one of the most effective ways to expand your cognitive functionality in a number of ways, and that’s as true for programming languages as it is for traditional linguistics. While a programmer may specialize in a given language, learning new ones can help them prevent from falling into ruts and engage more readily with the logic that underpins coding. That allows programmers to write leaner code that incorporates the unique eccentricities of different languages and minimize the need for using libraries. If you’re looking to bolster your acumen with a new language, here are some of the best options.

TypeScript (for JavaScript)

JavaScript is one of the most flexible languages around, especially in terms of web development, but that doesn’t mean that it needs to stand on its own. The big advantage of TypeScript is that it’s a superset of JS, so you can expect seamless compatibility when you incorporate it into your existing JavaScript code. That means that instead of flooding your modules with library imports, you can incorporate new functionality directly into your language. A big selling point for TypeScript is how easily it allows you to debug your code, but it also offers easier integration for manipulating classes and modules.

Scala (for Java)

Scala runs on JVM, and that means it runs tightly in conjunction with your existing Java code. Scala knowledge is at a premium for development, but there are fewer jobs looking for it, making it an ideal secondary language for a developer to possess. Despite the fact that Java is catching up to Scala in terms of versatility, it’s still head and shoulders above its parent language for developers looking to manipulate big data: an incredibly valuable skill set to possess in this day and age.

Kotlin (for Java)

Kotlin also runs on the Java Virtual Machine, and it essentially folds the best features of other languages into the Java framework. If you want to do more without having to learn a whole host of new languages, Kotlin can pack a lot of the essential features into one learning experience that coordinates naturally with your Java acumen. It’s gaining a lot of traction too. It’s been announced as the official language for building Android apps.

Rust (for C)

C is notorious for being a difficult language, but it’s also known for its wide range of usage. Rust allows you to accomplish many of the important functions of C in a format that’s not nearly so complicated. And that doesn’t make it just a good choice for new developers. It makes it an optimal language for veterans looking to streamline their C code.

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Keeping AI and Big Data in Check

What Is Ai

It’s an exciting time to watch technology grow and advance. Yet, as President Theodore Roosevelt once said in a letter addressing his reason for not pursuing a third presidential term, “I believe in power; but I believe that responsibility should go with power…”

With each new technological advancement, the benefits are considered in the process. But many believe the potential negative impacts on the people it’s supposed to benefit should be considered as well.

While Google just announced a new artificial intelligence (AI) ethics panel to keep its new AI projects under control, little is known about the original AI ethics board established during the acquisition of DeepMind in 2014.

Just Because You Can, Should You?

It was the subject of much discussion at a recent Big Data World event in London earlier in March. Experts discussed the ethical applications of AI, many agreeing companies developing AI projects should strongly consider not only the reasons why but also the possible consequences to the end users.

A public ethics board was also discussed by experts who believe the implementation of such would be an effective way to ensure the focus remains on the correct objectives for AI and data gathering. Just as large corporations have executive boards that oversee decisions, the public ethics panel could be of great help to companies developing AI and advancing technology wishing to make decisions in the best interests of the public.

Such an ethics board would need to consist of a diverse group of people from a variety of backgrounds and with differing experiences. The board would also when possible publish their results to engage the public in debates about how big data should be used. Most importantly, it’s believed that companies should constantly review their ethics and not become complacent. What passes for an acceptable data-policy at one point in time might not be as viable or ethical over time and should be revisited.

Ensuring The Unthinkable Doesn’t Happen

Measures must also be taken to make sure any such ethics panel be free of influence from outside entities like legislators, shareholders, or special interest groups. Governance is also vital in the assessment of the impact of AI. At this time, there’s no established global standard pertaining to acceptable AI and data use.

Progress towards having such standards, however, is being made. Analyzing the risks and opportunities of data-directed technology, the Centre for Data and Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) recently published its 19/20 Work Programme and a two-year strategy. The report outlines the need for prioritization and a defined working structure for the first year.

Many are hopeful that if a framework and a set of standards could be put in place, they might be flexible enough to keep up with the technology’s development and the public’s perception.

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Tips For Long-Term Investing

Long Term Investing

Building wealth requires an investing strategy that can outlast a fluctuating market. This means developing a strategy that can help you take advantage of a rising market, while also protecting yourself in a poorly performing market. The tips listed below can ensure you’ll be able to grow your wealth while reducing your risk of loss over the long term.

Stick with the Winners

If you buy a stock that performs as well as you expect, selling it at a predetermined price might not be the best idea. Instead, consider riding it out for a while longer. As the stock price rises, look at its potential for continued performance. If you think it will continue to do well, hang onto it.

Dump the Losers

Sometimes, your research and your intuition just won’t pan out and you’ll be stuck with a poorly performing stock. Instead of hanging onto it in the hopes that its performance will turn around, it may be a better idea to get rid of it. Cut your losses and look for a more promising investment.

Dismiss “Hot” Tips

You’ll get hot tips on up and coming stocks fairly regularly, but you should take all of them with a grain of salt. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, do your own research into the company and the value of the stock. If it seems like a promising investment, go for it. However, if your research doesn’t inspire you, it’s better to walk away and look for a better alternative.

Focus on Long-Term Performance

Any stock can appear volatile in looking at its short-term performance, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good long-term investment. Instead of judging a stock by its most recent performance, take an in-depth look at the stock’s long-term growth. You may find a stock worth your investment.

In choosing stocks, doing your due diligence is essential. This isn’t important just to weed out bad investments, but also to find stocks that show the promise of long-term growth. This will help you build a portfolio of strong investments that you can rely on to help you build your wealth.

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