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The Must-Discuss Aspects of Downsizing During Retirement



The Must-Discuss Aspects of Downsizing During Retirement

One of the most critical aspects of the decision-making process for a retiree is deciding where to live once they retire. Choosing where you want to live and the way you want to live during your retirement requires careful consideration. Do you want to stay where you are or move?  What are the financial benefits to downsizing? Even though it appears to be a massive undertaking, downsizing and moving can result in a productive, life-enhancing venture.

From deciding to live in the same community, moving closer to friends and relatives, moving for a better climate, which is best? To decide you will need to consider the pros and cons of each. This will require a bit of research as you explore the cost of each avenue and if each will provide you with the type of lifestyle you are seeking to live.


Opting for downsizing can be a savvy financial move even though you might feel the undertaking to be a bit emotional and daunting. The time you decide to downsize is critically important. One advantage of downsizing during the early phase of retirement is that the mortgage payments and other similar expenditures such as real state and utility taxes could decrease. If you own you home currently selling and purchasing lower cost housing could allow you to increase your retirement fund However, you may wish to wait for a sellers’ market to get top dollar from your home.

Forming a Manageable and Organized System

Once you make the decision to downsize you will want to go begin the process of reducing your possessions. Decide what you will take, donate and pass on to family members and friends. You can use a color coded labeling system to streamline the process. For instance, use a white label for the items that you will be keeping with you while availing the blue ones that will be going to charity, green for family or friends.

Contact a Real-Estate Agent

Work with a real estate agent that is willing to help you downsize and aid you during the sale and relocation.

Packing All the Boxes

Employ smaller boxes and make sure that you are smartly detailed during the labeling procedure. Craft a complete description of what consists inside the box and securely attach the label to the box. Apart from that, be specific and strategic while creating labels for different rooms and put a large label for rooms such as the pantry, kitchen, guest room, master bedroom, home office, den, attic, and garage, etc. If you are hiring professional movers, many offer packing services and while there is an additional expense it can make the entire moving process smoother and less stressful.

Hiring the Movers

When looking for the best movers in your locality, keep in mind that cheaper is not always a reliable option. Be exact and detailed regarding your individual requirements and thoroughly comprehend exactly what you are paying for while hiring the movers. Ensure penning down all the details in the written contract, as the people at the moving firm making the basic arrangements will not be the same ones coming to the day of the actual move.

Finally, ensure that you are staying within your budget as downsizing is all about smartly organizing your finances. Follow these steps to enjoy hassle-free new beginnings as you embrace your retirement.


REIT Trends: Innovative Data Strategies for Better Investments



REIT Trends: Innovative Data Strategies for Better Investments 1

By Josh Miramant, CEO and founder of Blue Orange Digital

Data transformation is this decade’s differentiator for REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts). Predictive acquisition analytics, occupancy optimization, and rent retention are the dream, but, before that, you need to unify the disparate spreadsheets, one-off databases, and 3rd party apps that cut across the Real estate industry. Building the infrastructure to unify data enables real estate investment funds to find better investments and make better decisions.


In the past decade, data has been at the center of the digital revolution. It has enabled new applications, created new business opportunities, and has enabled innovation across the entire CRE sector. Leading organizations engage in data-driven problem solving on a daily basis. Data has become the compass that is guiding both operational and investment decisions.

However, in 2020, data is ubiquitous. Simply having access to data is not enough for an actual competitive advantage. Making sense of the vast amounts of data available today requires computing infrastructures, flexible processing architectures, and advanced algorithms. Without these, simply having data is useless. Moreover, data could turn into an expense if the appropriate tools are not used for handling it.

Below are some technologies and data strategies for investors to leverage while capitalizing on the opportunity of distressed commercial assets. The foundation of any successful predictive analytics model is a unified data storage solution and machine learning(ML) automation.

How to take advantage of third party data

Source: big2smart

Source: big2smart

Unified Data

Traditional data storage tools are built for department-specific data, aggregated in isolated warehouses. Such storage solutions have worked well in the past but only offer access to a limited section of data. To exemplify, the marketing warehouse may contain social media metrics, while the sales warehouse contains prospect company assessments. The lack of overlap of this information prohibits a better understanding of both sets of data.

Modern data storage tools (such as data lakes) work on the idea of unified data. They make it possible to store a large variety of data sources in the same location. This makes it easy to integrate both internal and external data sources and to use ALL data available for analytics.

Storage choices should no longer limit the ability to manage and make sense of your data.

Unified Data Benefits at a Glance:

  • Easier data access

Users with different access levels can access both structured and unstructured data across the entire organization

  • Faster data preparation

Adequate storage solutions translate to reduced data wrangling and preparation efforts

  • Enhanced agility

Query tools enable datasets to be assembled “on the fly”, resulting in datasets that can be repurposed

  • Streamlined data exploration and analysis

Larger, broader data sets are easily available for a variety of use cases: from advanced analytics models to basic business reports

Benefits of Unified Data in Commercial Real Estate

Unstructured data turns into more in-depth customer and market understanding

Unified data offers REITs access to a 360-degree market view, by providing access to a variety of real estate features. Rental values, sociodemographic data, and even geographic features of a location can be analyzed simultaneously. Traffic, area walkability, social media reviews of neighborhood amenities, and even IoT sensor data can also be integrated on top. All these different data sources offer the possibility to gain insights at a property-level. Such granular insights can only be gained from unstructured data and enable REITs to minimize risks and deploy capital in the right places.

ML speeds up processes to improve internal decision making

Unified data makes it possible for Machine Learning algorithms to tackle a variety of real-estate tasks: from property management applications to tedious back-office tasks. Remote property monitoring solutions and live tracking of public and private spaces are some common examples of ML-enabled applications. At the same time, automated

Josh Miramant

property valuation models are nowadays ubiquitous and configured to integrate a variety of data sources. Once in place, such ML-tools can either work autonomously or give suggestions to human decision-makers. Such man-algorithm cooperation ensures increased performance, minimized operational costs, and more efficient, streamlined internal processes.

Predictive analytics for increased ROI

Unified data enables predictive analytics on real-time data and thus enables REITs to identify investment opportunities ahead of their competition. Predictive technologies fill in the gaps where traditional BI tools and descriptive models fail to deliver. Instead of answering questions like “what is happening now?”, predictive analytics helps figure out “what could happen in the future?”. Quantitative evaluations with regards to investment opportunities, risk assessment, and market volatility give REITs a solid base for tackling operational efficiency. When data insights are replacing subjective interpretations, it is ensured that capital is spent in the appropriate places and unnecessary costs are cut to a minimum.

The IDC reports that investments in the new applications can pay for themselves in 9 months and achieve an ROI of 415% over 5 years.

REIT Trends: Innovative Data Strategies for Better Investments 2

Case Study – Increased Accuracy of Property Valuation Modeling

Research conducted in 2017 tackles “the effects of walkability on property values and investment returns.”. In order to model walkability and to assess its impact on real estate property values, they took into consideration a variety of features characterizing local activity.

“Several different physical and social attributes of the area around a property can affect walkability. As such, it is a multi-dimensional construct composed of different factors which together comprise a single theoretical concept. Contributing attributes include urban density, land use mixing, street connectivity (i.e. the directness of links and the density of connections), traffic volume, distance to destinations, sidewalk width and continuity, city block size, topographic slope, perceived safety, and aesthetics.”

That is an impressive list of features and we can assure you: such attributes would rarely be found in traditional, historical sales datasets. These are features that are known as “alternative” or “orthogonal.”

They originate in third-party data sources and were originally perceived to have little connection to the problem being tackled. However, through machine learning algorithms they were found to be quite influential when taken into consideration for investment properties. While humans may not be able to see all the factors impacting an outcome variable (e.g. property value), algorithms do a great job identifying complex patterns. For this reason, integrating “seemingly unrelated” third-party data for analytics has proven to be the best way to learn from data.

Source: McKinsey & Company

Source: McKinsey & Company

Alternative data completes the image that the traditional data sets are painting. It brings in a fresh perspective, with the possibility of discovering unexpected patterns. Most importantly, orthogonal data is usually data generated by humans and their day-to-day activity. Since this is much closer to how humans make decisions, it only makes sense to look at this data in order to discover buying patterns and real estate trends.

The benefits of alternative data can be seen well beyond this example. With a variety of data sources that are emitting data, state-of-the-art CRE applications have used anything from social media feeds, to geolocation information, and IoT sensor data.

Source: McKinsey & Company

Source: McKinsey & Company


A unified data infrastructure plays a critical role in data transformation strategies. Not only does it bring agility and flexibility to existing data architectures, but also opens up new opportunities for data access and management.

Unified data tools are an investment in the future. As real estate data is becoming more and more diverse, investment decisions will also become more complex. REITs that invest in data processing expertise and modern tools will see their benefits for years to come.

Blue Orange Digital works closely with organizations to identify, plan, and implement data transformation strategies. Our team of Ph.D. data scientists anad engineers has vast experience setting up data-centric architectures and implementing modern analytics solutions.

Blue Orange Digital makes it possible to use the right tools and the right people for your data transformation strategy. REITs now have a chance to not let data turn into waste and actually transform it into a useful asset, that drives strategies and optimizes their investment decisions.

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Northern Trust: Outsourcing Accelerates Through Pandemic as Investment Managers Seek to Improve Margins, Enhance Business Resilience, and Future-Proof Operations



Northern Trust: Outsourcing Accelerates Through Pandemic as Investment Managers Seek to Improve Margins, Enhance Business Resilience, and Future-Proof Operations 3

White Paper Sees Increase in Managers Outsourcing Middle and Front Office Functions to Achieve Optimal Business Structures

According to a white paper published today by Northern Trust (Nasdaq: NTRS), investment managers of all sizes and strategies have been prompted to undertake a comprehensive review of their operating models as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which has accelerated existing trends that are compounding cost pressures. This has led increasing numbers of managers to outsource in-house dealing and other functions, such as foreign exchange and transition management, hitherto seen as core.

While cost savings remain a core driver, and indeed are one outcome of outsourcing, costs are no longer the only focus. Far from being solely a defensive reaction to increased pressure on margins, the white paper (‘From Niche to Norm’) describes outsourcing as part of the target operating model, or moving toward the ‘Optimal State’ for many investment managers, and  explains how the focus “has expanded to the variety of other potential benefits offered – enhanced capabilities, improved governance and operational resilience.”

Gary Paulin, global head of Integrated Trading Solutions at Northern Trust Capital Markets said: “The pandemic has challenged a range of operational assumptions. Working from home has, for example, questioned the need for a portfolio manager to be in close proximity with the dealing desk. Previously considered essential, the pandemic has effectively forced firms to ‘outsource‘ their trading desks to remote working setups and the effectiveness of this process has disproved the requirement for proximity, in turn, easing the path to third-party outsourcing. Many investment managers are actively considering outsourcing to a hyper-scale, expert provider as a potential, cost efficient solution – one that maintains service quality and, hopefully, improves it whilst adding resiliency.”

Northern Trust’s white paper compares outsourced trading to software-as-a-service stating: “instead of carrying the cost and complexity of running an in-house solution, firms move to an outsourced one, free up capital to invest in strategic growth and move costs from a fixed to a variable basis in line with the direction of travel for revenues.” 

Guy Gibson, global head of Institutional Brokerage at Northern Trust Capital Markets said: “The opportunity to deploy capital to build new fund structures, develop new offerings, focus on distribution and enhance in-house research has been taken up by several of our clients to the benefit of their investment approach, and to the benefit of their investors.  Additionally, in the last two months alone, many firms have recognized that outsourcing to a well-capitalized, global platform has enabled them to take advantage of cost-contained growth opportunities in new markets.”

A further development, which has echoes of the journey the technology industry has already undertaken, is the move towards ‘whole office’ solutions, which represent the next potential wave in outsourcing.

According to Paulin; “recently we have observed a growing number of managers wanting to outsource to a single, hyper-scale professional service provider who can do everything, everywhere. This aligns with Northern Trust’s strategy to deliver platform solutions for the whole office, serving our clients’ needs across the entire investment lifecycle.”

The white paper can be downloaded here.

Integrated Trading Solutions is Northern Trust’s outsourced trading capability that combines worldwide locations and trading expertise in equities and fixed income and derivatives with access to global markets, high-quality liquidity and an integrated middle and back office service as well as other services, such as FX. It helps asset owners and asset managers to meaningfully lower costs, reduce risk, manage regulatory compliance and enhance transparency and operational efficiency.

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How are investors traversing the UK’s transition out of lockdown?



How are investors traversing the UK’s transition out of lockdown? 4

By Giles Coghlan, Chief Currency Analyst, HYCM

Just when we thought we had overcome the initial health challenges posed by COVID-19, the UK Government has once again introduced lockdown measures in certain regions to curb a rise in new cases. This is happening at a time when the government is trying to bring about the country’s post-pandemic recovery and prevent a prolonged economic downturn.

This is the reality of the “new normal” – a constant battle to both contain the spread of the virus but also avoid extended economic stagnation.

Of course, no matter how many policies are introduced to spur on investment, traders and investors are likely to act with caution for the foreseeable future. There are simply too many unknowns to content with at the moment.

To try and measure investor sentiment towards different asset classes at present, HYCM recently commissioned research to uncover which assets investors are planning to invest in over the coming 12 months. After surveying over 900 UK-based investors, our figures show just how COVID-19 has affected different investor portfolios. I have analysed the key findings below.

Cash retreat

At present, it seems that by far the most common asset class for investors is cash savings, with 78% of investors identifying as having some form of savings in a bank account. Other popular assets were stocks and shares (48%) and property (38%). While not surprising, when viewed in the context of investor’s future plans for investment, it becomes evident that security, above all else, is what investors are currently seeking.

A third of those surveyed (32%) said that they intended to put more of their wealth into their savings account, the most common strategy by far among those surveyed. This was followed by stocks and shares (21%), property (17%), and fixed interest securities (17%).

When asked about what impact COVID-19 has had on their portfolios throughout 2020, 43% stated that their portfolio had decreased in value as a consequence of the pandemic. This has evidently had an effect on investors’ mindsets, with 73% stating that they were not planning on making any major investment decisions for the rest of the year.

Looking at the road ahead

So, it seems that many investors are adopting a wait-and-see approach; hoping that the promise of a V-shaped recovery comes to fruition. The issue, however, is that this exact type of hesitancy when it comes to investing may well slow the pace of economic recovery. Financial markets need stimulus in order to help facilitate a post-pandemic economic resurgence, but if said financial stimulation only arrives once the recovery has already begun, the economy risks extended stagnation.

It seems, then, that there are two possible set outcomes on the path ahead. The first is a steady decline in COVID-19 cases, then an economic downturn as the markets correct themselves, followed by a return to relative economic stability. The second potential outcome is a second spike of COVID-19 cases which incurs a second nationwide lockdown – delaying an economic revival for the foreseeable future. At present, the former of these two scenarios is seemingly playing out with economic growth and GDP steadily increasing; but recent COVID-19 case upticks show that it’s still too soon to be certain of either scenario.

A cautious approach, therefore, will evidently remain the most common investment strategy looking ahead. But investors must remember that, even in the most uncertain times, there are always opportunities for returns on investment. Merely transforming a varied portfolio into cash savings risks a long-term decline in value.

High Risk Investment Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 73% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. For more information please refer to HYCM’s Risk Disclosure.

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