Poetry in the Modern World

In the hearts of those who love poetry you can find quotes from great poets throughout history. There was a time the only place for poet lovers to converge were in coffee shops and one mic nights in dark quiet cafes. How do we share our poetry in the world today? There is a great world of poetry to be found in the social reaches of the internet. Search online and you will find there is a market for everything and each market is thriving in its own way. These markets pertain to poetry, a market that can be under represented in other places.

On the New York Times Best Seller list we find fiction and nonfiction books categorized in what feels like endless possibilities. However, the poetry best seller list is hard to find. One thing we can see is that not many poetry books, written by new authors, are purchased as much as other fiction in America. The question then becomes how do we know that people love poetry? That is where those social corners of the internet come in handy. There will always be exceptions in becoming a best-selling poet, but most people have found that releasing their poetry in the form of blogs is the best outlet. There are scores of writers who meet together online and share their craft. This free market of poetry has allowed not only poets, but those who love to read poetry to find a community. There are different communities that offer different things to the world of poetry. There are sites that share others poetry, organize poetry communities, and some personal blogs. There are even sites that can tell you the best poetry sites to discover.

Since we poets no longer stand in taverns sharing epic news stories in the form of poetry. We go online and lay it out for the world to see and to do with as they please. Often poets do this with little or no recognition, praise or compensation. The brave will create blogs that put their hearts out on their sleeves and self-publish wonderful works of art. The blog has become in its own way a book publication for many. Why not start your own blog today? I have found I have no reason to wait any longer.

To get started try these three steps:

1. Pick a blog site that will represent you.

There are many sites that you can start with today. Each will be different based on your level of skill Don’t worry if you aren’t an expert coder or internet guru.

2. Choose a theme.

Is your poetry all about love? Choose images and a name that reflect that. Even if your poetry has many different themes find a way to express that in the blog title.

3. Put your poetry out there.

Don’t worry if its perfect get the poem out there. Once the first poem is shared then the next will be easier. You’ll find yourself turning your blog into a book in no time.

Predictions for the Financial Advice Sector in the UK

It was late November, dark and the eighties. I knocked on the door and was immediately welcomed in, offered a cup of tea and sat on the sofa. I’d never met them before, although they were expecting me and I wore a suit. And that night they were happy to sign up a Standing Order for £120 a month for the next 25 years.

As a financial adviser at the famous Prudential Insurance Company, I advised and sold hundreds of financial products to a myriad of customers, both rich and poor and my company serviced the vast majority of the UK’s population without asking for a penny in return. We ran a commission based business with the provider paying this. All over the UK similar sales people were operating in the same model and UK consumers never lacked access to quality advice.

Naturally some of this advice was rather dubious, we know this and our regulators have slowly fixed this in a very painful but needed manner, a little bit like removing infected teeth. Witness T&C, pension scandals, PPI mis-selling, FOS.

The last wave of the flag was witnessed with the eradication of commission on wealth and pension advice which came about in 2013. The regulator’s argument was that commission drove mis-selling and that accepting a fee only for the actual time spent with the adviser would produce totally impartial advice.

It did. It also reduced the number of advisers, both independent and restricted, to just over 25,600 and drove these advisers to service only the wealthiest customers who both value advice and could afford it. The rest of the population was left to wither on the vine.

Thankfully our regulators have instigated some changes called the Financial Advice Market Report or FAMR which has pretty much concluded what I said in the paragraph just before this one. But progress is being made, particularly in encouraging robo advice models and removing the litigation hurdle many firms use to avoid dealing with the mass markets.

Add this to the apprenticeship levy on firms which will encourage training of new advisers, and I do believe we’re on the right roadmap. So here’s my predictions on how it’ll all look in 2020.

Low cost – low touch advice

Robo advice will become ubiquitous. Generation Y and older Zs, who have money to invest, will go online and enrol in advice systems that are controlled by computer algorithms. The algos will create an investment strategy based around risk issues and other needs. Investing will be mostly in passive funds – funds tracking indexes, exchange traded funds and other software based funds requiring no humans apart from coders.

Remember Gen Ys trust computers more than humans. At the dinner table last Sunday my son asked me when the Beatles released Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I said 1966, he immediately checked his phone and Google said 1967, Guess who he believed? And rightly so.

They will access their funds’ performance online, pay very low annual fees, a fraction of that charged by active fund managers. The Gen Ys won’t want to see an adviser unless they are willing to, and they value personal service.

For those wanting the human touch, or those who are willing to pay a little more for their advice, the paraplanner model will work well. An online meeting with a suitably qualified individual starts the process. The video meeting or virtual reality equipment will simulate the face to face meeting as well as technology will allow. The adviser would be less expensive, a paraplanner, a new adviser with less experience, maybe someone training. The key here is that they are cheaper than a fully qualified adviser. They would carry out the factfind and engage with the customer. Specific and soft needs would develop in a similar manner to a factfind carried out by a fully qualified adviser.

The planner would then transfer the results into a robo system which would then create the advice. The advice would then be delivered to the customer. An alternative model would involve the advice being vetted by a qualified adviser, and then it would be delivered.

Regular reviews would occur automatically using the same process and the qualified adviser would only be involved as and when needed.

High cost – high touch

Available to those who are willing to pay fees in a similar manner to legal and accountancy advice. Ostensibly the same model as we’ve seen before; a series of face to face or virtual reality meetings would evolve into personalised advice being provided. The best advisers would still use robo systems to augment their advice, these systems would do much of the crunching and administration but they would still be involved in advising and vetting the results.

Increasingly fund management would be conducted using passive methods, i.e. no active fund managers, as robo systems and algo based programmes become more and more reliable and effective. Humans will be moved on from this role except for the high end hedge funds.

The end of the face to face advising era will soon become apparent as communication via virtual and augmented reality gradually replaces personal interactions. I’ll still appear in my customer’s front room and be able to build rapport and trust, but I won’t be able to drink a cup of tea provided by the customer, that might be around in 10 years further on.

A Peek Into 2030

2030, we’re talking about a completely different model for receiving financial advice. Here’s a peek.

The IFA that we know today will be doing another job. What kind of job we don’t know, since it hasn’t yet been created. She will be doing something mentally demanding that automated intelligent computer systems can’t yet do.

Financial advice of any sort will be recognised by your personal digital assistant. This is the conduit we will all use that accesses what we currently call “Big Data”; data held in the cloud that has been collected about you since the early part of the century. Your assistant, which we’ll call Lola, knows you and everything about you from the myriad of sensors that have been gaining data.

Government computer systems covering your education results, tax returns, the car you drive, your visits abroad. Retailer systems showing everything you’ve ever bought. Tesco showing everything you’ve ever eaten. Banks displaying all of your financial transactions since you were born. Bear in mind cash was abolished in 2020.

Your wearable technology screening every signal from your body – exercise routines, blood pressure, illnesses. Your car data showing every journey you’ve taken. Social media streams with enormous amounts of data on your life.

The list goes on. Lola knows everything about you and you rely on her as your life coach. So when you need financial advice, Lola has already picked this up and will offer it to you without you asking. She recognised the inheritance in your bank account and understands your risk attitude and your goals for the future, so she’ll link to some algorithms in the cloud and provide the advice automatically. It’ll just happen, you’ve allowed it.

She’ll know when you need a mortgage from your email and social media steams and will just find one that is suitable and arrange it. No humans, just algos.

Life insurance. There’ll be no such thing because Big Data will know from your genetics, wearables and DNA, how long you’re going to live for anyway, so accidental life assurance will be offered at individual rates direct from the cloud. Motor insurance? No need, you won’t be driving the car anymore and accidents stopped in 2022.

We’ll look back at the days of individual IFA practices in the High Street, bank branches, football pitch sized call centres and the Man from the Pru with a sense of nostalgia, as the replicator makes you a cup of tea.

Tech Support For Business – Software Support For WordPress, Shopify + More

Tech Support has been a calling card of millions of contractors for well over 20 years now.

Like car mechanics in the 20th century, they exist to provide support to the millions of users of IT systems – many of which have very little to no support provided by the manufacturer.

Whilst a number of services have existed for many years, with the likes of GeekSquad providing 24/7 support, there is one issue with which most of these providers will not help – software.

Lack Of Software Support

Everything from web hosting, DNS, cloud email and even the systems running web infrastructure (WordPress etc) require constant maintenance, assistance and support.

This is generally not covered by the large tech support providers, leading a number of “smaller” providers to fill the gap.

The scope is simple – if you have a problem with WordPress, Microsoft Azure, Exchange, Office, Photoshop or any other software service provider, there are a number of ways to get the fixes provided by a support company.

The difference is that the majority of support companies do NOT deal with code – only surface-level issues which are generally fixable by looking at tutorials online. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find companies just relying other [third party] information to help resolve clients’ problems.

To this end, if you have issues installing & customizing WordPress themes, managing inventory in Shopify, fixing Javascript errors, ensuring that web servers are set up properly, fixing issues with domain names, etc – there are presently *no* providers to provide this level of granularity, even for a cost.

This is where a number of “software” centric support providers started to provide services – giving companies & people the opportunity to get their entire digital infrastructure running as smoothly as possible with the provision of underlying software-level support.

How It Works

The underpin to all of this is that there’s a “grey area” between where many “support” companies operate, and what clients end up needing.

This grey area has only grown in the past 5+ years, due to the increased importance of different “cloud” centric technologies, most notably Microsoft’s move forward with Azure and its accompanying services.

The “technology” business is undergoing a period of change. Soon, “software” will ALL be considered “services” – meaning that you’ll have apps for the likes of Amazon, YouTube and Evernote directly on your desktop – reducing the necessity of the web browser from a “do all” tool to simply an information consumption device.

Whilst this doesn’t matter, what it shows is that the “market” is moving towards a completely software/service centric model.

Thus, we get a number of businesses who end up in a curious position.

They may need their digital infrastructure managed, maintained and supported… but presently have no provider in a position to help.

It might sound trivial… but things such as how to get Evernote set up in the most effective way, designing & implementing effective systems with Zapier, or building out a strong spreadsheet for new businesses on Google Docs… no provider has the ability to go to such lengths to ensure that companies are running their digital infrastructure as smoothly or effectively in the “new” cloud era.

The “older” providers are too focused on hardware implementation / “infrastructure” level problems… new providers typically focus on menial issues with the likes of iPhones, Android and other tools.
The “software” centric provider gives users the ability to maintain this infrastructure as effectively as possible – essentially providing a shoulder for many businesses / consumers to lean on if they have *any* issues with their systems.

Both providers work in a similar way (providing “online” support staff, contactable via email, livechat or phone – and “offline” support dealing with localized fixes) – the difference lies in the effectiveness they bring to the work.

Software centric providers generally have much more experience of the different software tools for users. For example, they may have a particular way that WordPress is set up – or some Photoshop trick to ensure the best work.

This is what has lead many companies to begin looking at them as a means to ensure their growth.

What It Means

Ultimately, “software” support companies provide a more cost-effective method to receive code-centric fixes for many different errors that both “traditional” providers will not fix, and “software developers” will not want to get involved with.

The main competition for many of these service providers are actually software developers themselves… many of whom would happily provide fixes for $40 on the likes of Upwork or Freelancer.

I personally have many clients who need a HUGE number of fixes, but these fixes we ended up just doing for free (because they weren’t that big of a deal). Adding Google Analytics conversion tags, removing menu items in WordPress, automatically adding products in Shopify, managing CRM issues etc.

The point is that the “software” support provider typically charges a monthly, quarterly or yearly fee to provide users with the ability to contact them at any time of the day/night and have either an answer provided directly, or the request passed onto an expert who has specific expertise in the area of concern.

Whilst many companies don’t need the service immediately, it’s a HUGE timesaver, and great safety net for people who may rely on their website to operate – but don’t have anyone to provide immediate support if it goes down.

For example, a “WordPress blog” that receives 50,000+ visitors per day may have ZERO support infrastructure in place in case it went down, or had problems with speed etc. Who would you pay in a situation like that?

Coders generally charge by the hour and most of them don’t really have much expertise with high-traffic websites. This is the type of situation in which software-level support excels.

Which Providers Exist

In terms of “software” support provision, there are several providers who’ve come onto the scene in the past few years…

Bask (.) com – NOT software centric – services provided to consumers + business. Recurring revenue model which actually works relatively well. Unfortunately, very little software support
GeekSquad – NOT software centric – attached to BestBuy, GeekSquad are renowned for a decent quality of service. Unfortunately, they are not very well versed when it comes to software based issues
PCFixes (.) com – software centric – new service launched in 2018 to provide software-centric support – provides users with the ability to get specific fixes/help for the likes of WordPress, Shopify, Photoshop, Office, Outlook and more

The present state of the industry is that it’s growing rapidly, and that several of the above providers are in a very strong position to help a number of companies remain operational.