Lloyds Bank buys MBNA credit card firm for £1.9bn

British banking group Lloyds has announced it’s intention to purchase credit card company MBNA. The deal which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2017 will see the UK banking group pay £1.9BN to MBMA’s current owners Bank of America.

This deal is seen as a good fit which should complement Lloyds existing credit card services. It will increase Lloyds market share of the UK credit card market from 15% to 26%.

Significant cost synergies are seen as being behind the deal. Initial estimates expect savings of over £100 million per year from the deal.

Lloyds chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio commented on the deal “The MBNA brand and portfolio are a good fit with our existing card business and we will focus on providing its customers with excellent service and value.”

Following the takeover MBNA will retain it’s own card branding and rates.

The deal is the first by Lloyds since the 2008 financial crisis. It is expected that the proposed acquisition will increase group revenues by around £650m per year.

The deal assumes £240m to cover claims against MBNA for PPI mis-selling claims. It is thought that the deadline set on claims by the FCA helped to underpin this latest deal. As recently as October Lloyds itself set aside a further £1BN to cover remaining PPI payments.

Lloyds has continued with an ongoing restructuring plan, revealing plans to shed a further 1,200 jobs in October. It’s most recent report showed that pre-tax profits had fallen 15% over the third quarter to £811m.

The latest deal is expected to boost revenues by £650m a year. It predicts an increase in earnings per share of 3% and 5% once the deal is completed.

Lloyds which remains part owned by the UK government is expected to become fully privatized in 2017. The sale of the remaining 7% government stake is expected to be completed early in the New Year. Proceeds from the sale will be returned to the treasury.

Shares in Lloyds Banking Group closed the day at 64.13 pence, up 1.58p on the day (2.52%)

lloyds share price


The shares have had a good run in recent months and the latest deal look set to add to the bottom line.

With the final sale of the remaining government holding scheduled for early next year, there is the potential for further deals.

Binary options traders who backed the latest news today would have profited from a Call position with their broker. With seasonal markets in play, further long trades could profit if the current momentum continues.

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EZ Binary Signals Review

In this EZ Binary Signals review we take a look at this latest signal service for Binary Options.

EZ Binary Signals is a trading service that provides binary options signals.

While this particular service is new, it is run by an experienced team of binary options traders with over 10 years market experience.

The service makes use of technical and fundamental analysis to identify low risk trading opportunities. Trading alerts are sent via email to members as they trade their own accounts.

Signals are provided across key Forex pairs. Expect to receive trading opportunities for EUR/USD, USD/JPY, GBP/USD, USD/CAD, AUD/USD etc.

There is no set time for the signals. Instead they are sent when the right conditions present themselves. Positions tend to run for 1 or more days.

How It Works

Many of the currently available alert services for Binary Options focus the volume of alerts generated.  This means that that you will sign up and get a huge number of signals sent around the clock. Typically most services will make use of short term, 1 hour trading opportunities that are generated through the use of an automated bot.

The problem with this approach is that the actual yield from these services can be very small. Who wants to sit around taking 100 trades and day and hope that you end in profit? This is where many of these signals fall down. You end up doing a lot of work for very little return. Don’t forget you are also paying for this privilege as well.

EZ Binary Signals approach this differently. The focus is on quality rather than quantity.  The service aims looks to identify 1-3 trading opportunities per week.

The signals types themselves are also different. They don’t use the higher or lower trades most commonly used. Instead they make use of the ‘Does Not Touch’ trade types. These are very much more like standard Call and Put option expiries but instead levels are set on the trades which are not expected to be touched over the duration of the contract. They allow for a more ‘trading’ style approach to be taken.

If there is a downside to this approach it is that there are few brokers who offer these types of trades. The traders behind the service make use of Binary.com and naturally it is this platform that they recommend you use.

Binary Signals

Signals are sent via email and provide the full details needed to place the trade.

A typical alert would be as below:

Asset: EUR/USD
Trade: Does Not Touch
Level: 1.0650 
Duration: 1 Days
Placed: 35%

Here you would trade on the EUR/USD and set the level 1.0650. You select the duration to run the trade for. Typically trades are open for a couple of days.

Once happy it’s just a case of clicking on the trade type ‘Does Not Touch’ to place this in your account.


What is very impressive with the service is the level of performance.

At the time of writing the strike rate is well over 90% which puts gains from using the service firmly in profit. The performance of the last 10 days we can certainly attest to as we have received and placed these in our own account.

One of the issues that many people encounter when trading is signals is that it is very difficult to actually place them at the suggested levels in your account. If the signal suggests placing at say, ‘x’ and by the time you get to it the return is ‘y’ it can be difficult to know whether to act on it.

While markets move quickly the bonus of this service is that the trades can be placed any time up until the close on the day there are sent.

We placed the trades upon receipt and were able to get similar to returns to those suggested in the alert. On a couple of occasions we checked again later the same day. Due to the intervening movement of the markets in some cases the returns we could get were better and sometimes they were worse.

On balance we would suggest that the law of averages would even out any issues in this area over time. The service website suggests not taking a trade if the returns have dropped below 20%. In this instance it is suggested that the risk would not commensurate with the reward.

EZ Binary Signals Live Test

In reviewing any service it is important to test it to see how it actually performs. As with all our reviews we test out the signals to see if they can actually deliver.

We started trading the service in February. Since then we have received 10 trading alerts. Of these alerts we have had 9 winning traders and 1 losing trade. This gives the service a strike rate of 90%.

While this is quite a small sample size the results reported on the website show similar performance going back across the previous two months.

The full list of trades taken are listed below:-

EZ Binary Signals Live Trading Record
Date Asset Trade Level Expiry Return Result
24/02/2017 EUR/USD Does Not Touch 1.0633 1 Day 30% Win
28/02/2017 USD/JPY Does Not Touch 111.8 1 Day 35% Win
02/03/2017 USD/JPY Does Not Touch 113.65 1 Day 37% Win
06/03/2017 USD/JPY Does Not Touch 113.47 1 Day 30% Win
21/03/2017 AUD/USD Does Not Touch 0.7676 1 Day 53% Win
22/03/2017 USD/JPY Does Not Touch 1.1037 1 Day 33% Win
27/03/2017 EUR/JPY Does Not Touch 119.34 1 Day 32% Win
29/03/2017 USD/JPY Does Not Touch 110.34 1 Day 35% Win
31/03/2017 USD/JPY Does Not Touch 1.3190 1 Day 35% Loss
05/04/2017 USD/JPY Does Not Touch 1.3190 1 Day 30% Win

Read my final verdict and conclusion below.

Ultimately any signals have to be judged on two metrics. The first is the level of performance. The second is the effort required to achieve that performance.Unusually this service delivers on both these scores.

The performance is first rate. It delivers gains and it does this with very little work.  You won’t be trading for the sake of trading. If anything, you might feel a little underwhelmed as to how little trading is involved. However the results speak for themselves. Try it.

£1 a Day Trial! (14 days for £14)

Then service is priced at £87 per quarter (3 months).

EZ Binary Signals Review Verdict

  • Very simple trading method – takes minutes per week
  • Excellent long term record that delivers
  • Stands out from many of the ‘me too’ alert services
  • Signals are only available on Binary.com platform

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Content Marketing Tip for Small Biz Owners: Create Fresh Content Every Day in Less Than 30 Minutes

As the owner of an SEO content writing service, probably the number one reason clients say they use our services is that they don’t have time to create content regularly. This is why you see many small business blogs updated so erratically.

A Common Content Marketing Strategy for Small Business Owners

The trajectory usually goes something like this… content will be uploaded regularly for a week or two (maybe three), then nothing for a month or so, then a sporadic post or two over a few months, then — complete silence.

Does this sound like you?

Create Content in Less Than Half an Hour – Every Day!

If so, here’s an easy way to come up with fresh content for your blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn account, etc. And, you can do it all in less than 30 minutes a day – really!

Comment on a Posts from Your Social Media Accounts

If you use Twitter, for example, find relevant posts to comment on and post that on your blog, website and/or social media outlets.

The quickest way to do this is to search for content via hashtag. For example, as a company that provides (SEO) content writing services, I frequently search for #ContentMarketing. Then, I’ll see what pops up. I may skim through a few articles, then pick something that I think can help my clients to comment on.

Note: Be sure to choose content that benefits your customers/prospects. Remember, content marketing is about sharing; not selling.

Here’s a recent example. I ran across the following article in my Twitter stream on Business2Community, 6 Tips For Repurposing Content To Make It Work Harder. I posted the link and title on my Facebook page, along with the following comment:

One of the biggest mistakes I see clients making is NOT making the most of their content. Here are some great tips for stretching one piece out — and getting maximum mileage out of it.

#3 is the easiest and quickest tip of all, especially for your social media interactions.

Hope your Wednesday is going well. As usual, we’re snowed under over here, but loving every second.:-)

This took me all of 15 minutes – the longest part was actually reading the article, which was very informative.

If you don’t have time to create content on a regular basis – but want to stay top of mind with your target audience – this is an excellent “content marketing shortcut.” It keeps you in the know, your audience in the know, gives you a chance to share some of your knowledge – and most importantly it keeps you top of mind with your customers and prospective customers.

The Importance of Content from You

While this content marketing tip is great and can be used regularly, at least once per week (more depending on your niche), you should write — or hire a content writing service to provide — some original, in-depth content to share. Because if you’re not, you can bet your competition is.

10 Survival Tips for Small Business Owners

The reality for many small business owners is that they were forced into starting something of their own. Perhaps they were retrenched, fired or unable to find a job.

What this means is that often small business owners really haven’t even had time to obtain some training in basic small business practices such as finance, human resources management and marketing.

The other real danger is that the small business owner works so hard in the business, trying to push for more sales, handling negotiations with suppliers, making month-end payroll and trying to get big customers to pay on time that they don’t catch major problems in their business before they become a threat to their businesses survival.

Newspaper reports recently indicated that about 4,000 businesses went insolvent in 2013. The causes for these business failures were not reported on but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure the usual fatal mistakes: bad business decisions, running out of cash, a market that has dried up or even an employee when employees who have embezzled the company.

Here are 10 practical survival tips for small business owners:

1. Stay inside your “circle of competence”: the investor Warren Buffett avoids making investments outside his “circle of competence”. Starting something new, venturing into a new market requires competence that the existing small business owner may not have. Stick to the knitting in bad times.

2. Keep focused on cash flow: When the cash dries up, the game is over. In hard economic times its important to monitor cash flow more frequently, if not daily. Set up a simple system and watch your cash like a hawk. Big customers want to take ever forever to pay and suppliers want their money now. This makes it vital to manage cash carefully.

3. Don’t sign sureties: when cash runs out, the temptation is to go to the bank to increase your overdraft. Don’t sign sureties that for a small loan require confiscation of all your business and personal assets. Enough said.

4. Temptation: Act ethically at all times: even what may seem harmless will become a major issue if it involves and an unethical business practice. Ensure you have a clear red line where you will not cross over. In this economy with people desperate, unethical, explotative small business are on the rise. Detect them early and avoid them at all costs. Some are not paying their taxes, operating illegally and not complying with health regulations and should be shut down by the relevant authorities.

5. Take time to work on your business: Working in your business gives you very little time to work on your business. Make time each week to review where your business is going and how you can improve your operations and increase your market.

6. Insurance cover: Have insurance cover in place for fire, theft and personal liability: It sounds like a no-brainer but how many small business owners have adequate insurance? Don’t be wiped out because of this.

7. Business advice: The biggest risk that a business often faces is poor business advice. Airlines and utilities are virtually bankrupt because of bad business decisions and have to be bailed out. Double check business advice and rely on your own common sense and savvy.

8. Avoid the dangerous number 1: there is a danger in having one big customer or one key supplier. Check your business for this kind of risk and make backup plans.

9. Keep a watchful eye out for unusual employee behaviour: One of your employees could be handling too many critical tasks, employees could be taking out stock without you knowing it and finance or bookkeeping employees could be involved in an invoicing scam. Watch out for suspicious behaviour.

10. Be frugal: keep costs down and avoid unnecessary purchase of new assets. Set your small business a cost reduction percentage target and stick to it.

These 10 tips for small business survival are just a few that any small business owner should keep in mind during these economic times.

If you are in any way concerned that there could be un-seen or hidden risks in your business, get in the right professionals or a business adviser before it’s too late.

You may be grudge them a professional fee but when you consider it is really a pittance compared to the cost of closing your doors.

SEO Website Tips For Small Business Owners

If you have a small business, then you know that there is much that is rewarding about it. You get to call the shots and run the business the way you want to run it. You can also enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that this business is something that you built yourself from the bottom up. On the other hand, when you have a small business, you are going to have to work extra hard to get noticed. In other words, there are a lot of larger businesses with more funding and more resources who are going to dominate the internet landscape. This means that you are going to have to be savvy when it comes to getting your name out there on the internet. Here you will find a few SEO tips for small business owners.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is a way of talking about strategies for getting your website to appear high on the list when people do relevant search engine searches online. You are first going to want to make sure that you are getting your effective keywords out there. In other words, you are going to need to do more than just have a pretty website. You should choose some strategies, such as putting up articles in article directories and starting blogs. These are free services that anyone on the internet can use and which will help to direct visitors to your site.

When you are using these SEO strategies, you are going to want to make sure that your titles, tags, and keywords are effective. This is how your articles and blogs will come up in general searches. In other words, you are going to want to make sure that you are hitting the right markets. What’s tricky about this is that you can’t use a search term that is too obvious, since there are other businesses that are using these same terms. If you sell garden supplies in Los Angeles, don’t make your keywords simply “garden supplies.” Try something more particular, such as “Los Angeles hand shovels.” The key is to be specific and get the most out of all the potential search terms.

You are probably going to want some help when it comes to website optimization. The good news is that there are online businesses that will help your small business get the recognition it deserves. In the online community, where consumers have more options than ever before, you really need to work to get your name out there. With a few simple tips and a specialist by your side, you are on your way to the top of the list.

Local Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

When it comes to the art of marketing many people seem to know random tips and have opinions about it but the people who really knows what works and what are the steps to take a small business from zero to success are not going to hand over all of their years of hard work to just any newbie or competitor who enters a similar market.

Today’s business world is quite complex and competitive markets seem to get tighter by the day, as a small business owner you need strategies, organization, creativity and you need to make a lot of “friends” as you develop your marketing plan. The first step is to always have some sort of flow chart which can be made from putting random ideas on a piece of paper, you can write down your budget, your options, costs and target markets you want to reach within your local community. Whether you are in a big or small town within the UK or anywhere in the world for that matter, knowing your potential customers and competitors should be one of the highest priorities.

If you are in business, you should have realized by now that your product is not “unique”, if it was you’d be monopolizing the niche you are in but since this is not the case you need to come up with a way to spin your marketing campaign to make your product sound and look unique to your prospects. You can offer a special guarantee, a trial, samples, free merchandise, discounts or any other kind of “incentive” which is going to add value to your product or service setting you apart from the competition.

After developing a good marketing idea and positive spin for your business products and services you need find a medium to advertise what you have to offer, this is where your networking skills will come in handy, many people love the “business card” approach but if it not done correctly you will be throwing away your fancy piece of paper. The number one mistake is to pay someone to distribute your cards on the streets or placing them on phone booths, etc. This practice will only degrade the look of your business and will drive people to your competitors who might be advertising through more professional mediums.

Always advertise to your target audience, for instance, it would be futile to advertise Real Estate deals on a high school football field, why? simply because the ones who will be looking at those ads will be teenagers who still have a lot of work to do before buying a house of their own, so consider places where your average customer would be exposed to your advertising

Another good way to get the word out is to use the web. As a smart business owner is your responsibility to learn new ways to advertise to your clients cheaply and effectively. Major search engines such as Google and Yahoo are excellent for this type of advertising since they are able to deliver “geo-targeted” visitors according to their “IP addresses” this only means that if you are operating in Whales, you will be able to target potential customers using these “geo-targeting” capabilities. Also if you advertise online try to avoid advertising through mailing lists unless the people you send emails to have opted to get your newsletter.

Today’s business world is complex and competitive so when it comes to marketing your business you must always think outside the box.

Newsletter Marketing Tips For Small Business

If you own and operate a small business and would like the BEST way to get new customers, add an abundance of referrals and ultimately drive your sales, then you must use a client newsletter. In fact newsletter marketing is something every small business can do no matter what they sell, how stiff their competition, or how far the economy falls.

But the best part of the whole equation is the simple fact that newsletter marketing is as close to a magic bullet as you’ll find.

Here’s a question and answer session to help you put the power of newsletter marketing to work in your small business.

Newsletter Marketing Tips:

What’s the most important part of a client newsletter?

I get this question all the time. And the answer I’m going to give you may shock and surprise you. But it’s the truth. So here goes: Get a newsletter out the door every month. Even if you have all the parts wrong, you’re better off doing something then waiting around until your newsletter marketing skills are ‘perfect’.

Why should you write and mail a client newsletter?

It’s an under the radar (and ridiculously fun) way to promote your business. Nobody expects to get a marketing message when they read a newsletter. And for this reason it becomes a great way to subtlety promote your products and services while also delivering a ton of extra value for your audience.

What is the best way to get a client newsletter mailed out?

Simply set aside time (about 4 hours per month) to write and mail a client newsletter. This takes some discipline in the beginning. But the more you do it, the easier and faster you’ll get.

Is there something that makes this easier?

Another great question. And like anything else practice makes perfect. So don’t beat yourself up if you’re not the king of newsletter marketing in the beginning. Go easy on yourself. Give yourself a chance to hone your chops, until you do become a rip roaring newsletter samurai.

Is there anything that must be in a client newsletter?

There are a host of things that must be in an effective client newsletter. But since it’s your newsletter you get to make the rules. Sure, my client newsletter would be different than yours. But then again, you and I are different people.

Who should get your client newsletter?

Every person that has bought from you, even if they haven’t purchased anything in a long time is a perfect candidate to receive your client newsletter.

So there you have it.

Six questions you can ask yourself to use the power of newsletter marketing to drive new customers, referrals and repeat sales into your small business.

Most Effective SEO Tips for Small Business Owners

Today, the internet has become a very dynamic marketing tool and with proper SEO; even the smallest businesses can be accelerated with opportunities. Internet opens you to a larger world and SEO, in form of the best marketing strategy, guides you through it. So, here are some of the most effective SEO tips for small business.

1. Keywords – This word is the key to successful business marketing. Initially, when internet marketing was the latest trend, single keywords were used and yielded results too. But today people use phrases to make a search. Watch out the trends in the analytics to find the popular ones.

2. Matter – Or as it is popularly known as- content. Content has to be catchy and convincing because it is this content that will make the visitors to buy your products or services. Avoid fluff and frills with keywords induced at any cost as that does not work anymore.

3. Mobile friendly interface – Cite this as most important of all SEO tips for small business. A good percentage of your potential customer may access internet on their phones. In order to cater them, make sure your website loads in mobile with equal ease.

4. Broken links – It is important to repair the broken links on time. Search engine does not rank the sites that have broken links or the one that do not work. However, if you work on WordPress, install the plugin that keeps a check on broken links and informs you so that you can take care of them on time.

5. Indexing – As you service your car periodically, you should index your webpage too. At the same time, updating and upgrading of the site is important as well.

6. Speed of the site – When discussing SEO tips for small business, speed of the website needs special mention. Traffic towards your page is directly proportional to the speed. Faster the site loads, more traffic visits the page.

7. Local search – Even before we could notice, we have started using local search. Thanks to Google Places and other sites of sort, local search is ‘the’ word today.

8. Personal correspondence – To rank your page, search engine must find other websites linked to yours. Since you cannot go on and start spamming your page, it is better to contact the vendors of related business and ask them to link their sites with yours while you place your link to their page.

9. URL structure – If your URL explains your content, search engines would prefer your page over the one which does not.

10. 404 files – Creating these files ensure that the users will come back to the home page even when they click on a broken link.

These are the most effective SEO tips for small business that can boost up the page ranks and eventually bring more business for you.

Top 6 Tips for Small Business Looking To Embrace Social Media Marketing

For small businesses, social media marketing is essential. It can be the difference between having a successful enterprise or a struggling trade. This is due to the large potential that social media marketing presents.

Unlike multinational organisations, small sized businesses do not have huge marketing budgets to conduct sufficient market research. As a result, social media offers the opportunity for small businesses to directly communicate with customers and discuss all aspects of the business. Businesses can gain vital information relating to their services, and in return, market products and see where improvements can be made.

However, using social media marketing is not as simple as logging into Facebook or Twitter and posting comments. Utilising these websites from a business prospective requires a careful balance of time and strategy. Here are six tips for small businesses looking to embrace social media marketing.

Plan an effective strategy– Before you create a website that bundles all social media websites that you’re planning to sign up to, outline key targets and the ways needed to employ them. Decide which social media websites to use, who within the company will carry it out and what method will be used to assess the progress of the campaign.

Locate your customers– Conduct market research to establish which social media websites your customers predominantly use. For potential customers, search keywords and topics relating to your business to find out relevant blogs and forums to join and communicate.

Time management – As social media marketing can be very time consuming, it is important to find enough time during the business day to communicate with customers and build effective relationships. Customers who see regular activity or have their queries and questions answered are more likely to follow the business and recommend their services. Remember though; don’t just market your business, listen to what your customers have to say.

Be the specialist– Pass on useful information and give solutions that will help customers. This will not only show you’re an expert in your industry, but it will also help build a rapport between you and your customers.

Integrate personality – The best way to maintain relationships is to write honestly and openly. Customers are more willing to communicate with people they like as opposed to business representatives. Another way of incorporating personality is to display a ‘human’ picture and not just the business logo. You should use the same personality when you create a website for your business, so people will recognise the brand.

Offer incentives– Make online customers feel as though they are valuable by offering exclusive discounts and promotions. This will help sustain interest and ensure customers feel integrated in the business.

By implementing these tips, small businesses can effectively promote and expand their online brand, and in the long run, gain more customer awareness. Well planned social media marketing will leave customers talking and consequently; they will be more likely to buy into the brand. Ultimately the key to success is hard work. Posting comments now and again, will only lead to customers disregarding the business, whereas, active weekly posts will result in an online presence that customers can trust and depend on.

Great Online Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

Online marketing has come to save small business owners who feel limited when it comes to dealing with large forms of advertising yet they have to work on a budget that is mostly very tight. With online marketing the business owners are able to market their products and services using only a small amount of money which is very convenient.

However, it all takes evaluation and analyzing to make sure that the particular method you choose to use will work for you and the message you include will attract enough attention especially from potential customers. There are a few things a business owner can do to make sure his business attracts more people using online marketing.

Local online directories
Getting a business listed in the local directories is a great way of getting your business noticed. This is especially helpful when you dealing with unique products and services. There are hundreds of business directories and so it is important to get the one you are sure is popular increasing your chances of getting noticed.

Another simple way of marketing your business online is starting a blog. This enhances customer connection because of the quality content you share on your website. If you want to connect the site to other essential links, you can easily do that to make finding you easy. People pay attention to blogs, especially when looking for particular products and services therefore make your site as attractive and direct as possible.

This involves the use of search engines such as Yahoo and Google to pull small adverts on their sites. You are charged according to the clicks your advert receives but then this is not expensive at all. As you pay the clicks, you will actually feel happy that more and more people are aware of your business. Using AdWords calls for punchy keyword inclusion to attract every person who sees the ad hence you will be attracting potential customers to your store.

Feedback monitoring
When using online marketing, it is very important to give a keen interest on the customer feedback that you receive. Feedback is very important as you will be in a position to know where to improve on and what to get rid of. You can also ask questions, monitor statistics, conduct polls and get to see the different responses. Listening to wants and needs will help you in coming up with a good approach.