A Passage to London

A passage to London this Fall

Like many other big cities in the first world countries, London can be described as a global village with enormous influx of immigrants and attractions to blend of cultures. Perhaps the paramount description it may imply as one of the world’s leading financial centers, great railway systems and its global position to various disciplines is the flaming experience that makes the city of London a magnet to all peoples. It is, however, one of the defining reasons that provides a surge of pride and delight to anyone who finds a path around the regimen of British relationship with cultures they represent.

I came to London this mid of October 2009 with excitement and a sustained challenge from my continuing interest to see and experience life’s movements in the city. This was actually my second time to visit this place since I first came here in July 2001. It was as much a conclusion as a beginning, a significant holiday at fall and a tale of adventures suffused with color and learning experience.

The nursery rhyme song ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ was an enduring reminder for me as I always thought of England’s richness in history, culture, art, music, literature, and other disciplines. The local Briton accent with that fusion of Cockney Rhyming was something that really fascinated me as if they spoke with reverence in each word. Shakespearean plays portrayed in theaters catapulted be back on stage to reminisce how the performers articulated their lines. I also had the opportunity to visit anew some historical landmarks considered as major sights in the city. These are the following: Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Changing the Guard, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral. There are also other attractions such as Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace, Queen’s House, St James’s Palace, London Dungeon, London Planetarium, London Zoo, Madame Tussaud’s and other Museums and Art Galleries.

An English friend of mine who lives in London accompanied me to see other places like the Canary Wharf which is the tallest building in England, the Covent Garden Piazza, the Piccadilly Circus and of course, the Trafalgar Square where we took a score of pictures. Along with that, we also came to see the Bank of England, London Stock Exchange, and Lloyds of London insurance market. One thing that impressed me while traveling the city is the London Underground. I found it as the best public transport with extensive networks to other places nationwide. I also found that there was a high-speed Eurostar trains that link St Pancras International Station with Lille, Paris, and Brussels which only takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was really amazing to know how London Transport could draw tourists from across the world, along with those red double-decker buses, black cabs and the modern tram network known as Tramlink, based around Croydon in South London.

It was very convenient for us to go from one place to another as London Transport was like a split second and you are already there. Trains run every 15 minutes. I remember when I landed in Heathrow Airport, I took the Piccadilly Line tube, got off Hammersmith (District Line) and took Victoria Line that passed through Stockwell and got off Oval which was just a walking distance to Brixton Road where I stayed. Travel cards were necessary to get about in different parts of London. Ticket offices or self-service machines were available in most stations. Trains ran starting as early as 5:30 a.m. till 1:00 a.m. on week nights. The only choice beyond all-night transport was night bus or cab. Usually most buses passed through Trafalgar Square which was like the point of reference when one was not sure which bus to get. The traditional London black cabs reminded me of cars driven for funerals with a sign For Hire and a white license plate on the back.

Perhaps the climate for concerts and musical events in the Royal Albert Hall or Cadogan Hall was one of my regrets for not being able to see one of them, along with entertainment around Leicester Square or to the first and original Hard Rock Cafe and Abbey Road Studios where The Beatles recorded many of their songs. I did not have time though to watch and visit these places. However, I was able to walk through Chinatown district (in Soho) with my English friend and dined in one of the Chinese Buffet restaurants.

Lovely windows for shopping spree especially on Oxford Street where I found so many shops and department stores that somehow reminded me of signature products for fashion accessories and other stuffs that came from across the world.

The high-rise buildings like the 1980s skyscraper Tower 42, the Lloyd’s building, the “Gherkin”, One Canada Square and the BT Tower in Fitzrovia were characterized with certain architectural styles and for me they evoked another meaning to symbolize the height of anyone’s aspiration to reach his vertical mobility in life. As a visionary and drawn to stand up against injustice, I had that inner return to the power beyond – God. I was humbled with these buildings towering over me. I thought it was another world, another bustling city suffused with material wealth and luxury. I had a good time seeing these attractions but with a deep sense of sanctuary within, I came to recall the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001 when the Twin Towers in New York were attacked by terrorists. Yet it was still vivid for many Americans especially those families and friends of the victims.

While sightseeing was the driving rhythm in my mobility around the city, this statement somehow led me to further reflection: ‘if necessity is the mother of invention, then it would seem that a recession, when needs abound, might push people to embrace innovation.’ And it’s true as economy crawled into another episode to embrace the challenges ahead. At least the main thing that could be done was to envision the country’s great strength in certain areas as a source of power and inspiration to others. Like a book which is on the must-read list for anyone who appreciates history, culture, geography, or social development at any level in society, a rewarding account of public transport in London allowed me to go to places where I wanted to go. That was a positive response to my immediate need to explore the city. In this case though, I was able to take a giant step back and assess how I am reacting to places I had visited.

From the earliest days of my insertion to another culture since I left my home country in the late 80s to the events of today, my real goal has been to build bridges of opportunities for a continuing growth as a human person, to be open to the historical movements of various peoples across continents and nationalities, to give reason to hope and understand our sense of interconnectedness. And these generally require the ups and downs of life, human claims to acceptance and sacrifice. As Frederick Douglas once said, ‘if there is no struggle there can be no progress.’ And I think it could be better known for saying that life and traveling can be equated with this expression, ” you never know.”

Having gone through the ebbs and flows, the wefts and warps, and the prism of human needs, in my own little way, my mantra still remains the same. And that’s basically to think beyond mere platitudes for meaningful answers to what the future holds. My interactions with various cultures and the role that I have to play especially in times of difficulties draws me to find that constant need for discovery. Countless situations have given me the possibilities to discern and integrate my faith principles to that continuing pursuit of my life.

As a mental compass focused on my visit in London, I thought of a similar spark of human vulnerability and the great deal of having a vision and priorities at hand. It was clear, though, that the new wave of modern technology and the entry of moral values into the labor market are slowly changing our understanding of what is essential in this world and who we are as individuals in conversation with the world today. I came to brace for further failures in my life but still I continued to hope with a new eye for progress. And that was like a cyclical nature of being human trying to avoid chronology but allowing God’s time to lead me.

London’s many facets evoked some images of truth and beauty which enabled me to reflect on life’s legendary wisdom of pains and joys, successes and failures. Each of them was like a memorial marker with some spectacular past and poignant memories. My own life had that moral comparison, too. With history and story to tell, with values and traditions, with a sense of identity, purpose, and meaning, indeed, they were like my memorial markers defined in the mystery of being human. The depth it symbolized was a measure of a flaming heart. It was like a source of strengthening, an impetus to witness to others as life goes on. Samuel Johnson once said, ‘if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life.’ And I think he makes sense as he gave us his memory a jog.

Ten Tips to Choose the Right Credit Card

Have you decided to apply for a credit card? That’s nice. No doubt these cards are useful and convenient way to pay for services in daily life. It provides you finance flexibility if used sensibly. One can use it for daily purchases, for business dealings, for managing debt problems and even for charity purposes. It can also be used abroad in foreign currencies through online network facilities.

But before applying for a credit card you must consider certain factors particularly if you are living in UK. As UK has one of the most competitive credit card market in the world so searching a right card that best meets your needs could be a time consuming process. So must keep in mind some special tips while choosing a best credit card. Info policy available with each credit card can also serve as a guide to compare between different cards.

1- Status Of an Individual

Choosing a credit card depends upon individual status. It means whether he or she is a student, a businessman, a middle class man, a retired person or a widow. Different types suit different persons. Standard credit card is available for everyone over 18 years while premium credit card offers comparatively higher credit with lower interest rates and some extra benefits. So you can choose a credit card accordingly to your priorities.

2- Reason For Applying

Why are you applying for a credit card? This question matters a lot. Is it for managing your financial pressure or for business dealings. Do you want to enjoy special offers and incentives available with it or you want to use it for emergency situations. Whether you want to reduce interest payment on other existing credit card through balance transfer or want to donate for charity programs. Ask these questions to yourself before applying for a card. If you are able to clear the bill in full each month then annual fee and length of interest free period are more important factors than interest rate. But if you want some cash advances to manage financial burden then you must consider fees for cash advances and related interest rate (higher for cash advances).

3- Interest Rates And Interest Free Period

You must have a complete detail of interest rates alongwith additional information about length of interest free period, interest calculation method, introductory low rates offer and APR. APR is annual percentage rate which expresses the cost of using credit card. Interest rates can also be increased or reduced over time. Monthly statement shows the current interest rate for respective card. In case of an increase in interest rate advance warning is given while in case of decrease in interest rate customer is informed within thirty days.

4- Rewards And Incentives

Rewards and incentives can also be another attraction to apply for a credit card. It includes cash backs, voucher schemes, price promise deal, travel insurance and purchase protection insurance etc. In cash back offer minimum percentage of cash is given back to you on spending certain amount. In voucher schemes vouchers or certain number of points are given to you which can be redeemed for future rewards. Price promise cover ensures refund in case of difference in prices if you bought an item on higher price and but later you found it on cheaper rate elsewhere. Through travel insurance you will find assistance in case of flight delay, lost of luggage and personal injury during travelling. While purchase protection insurance covers purchases in case of damage or loss for certain time period.

5- Paymant Structure or Repayment Policy

Payment structure also matters a lot when taking final decision in this regard. You must be fully aware of specified ways to pay off balance on credit card account. Different ways of payment include cash payment, using cheques or debit cards, direct debit option, telephone or internet banking etc. Most of the companies set up monthly minimum repayment percentage on your total balance that you are required to pay. This percentage can be a fixed amount or 2% to 4% of total balance. Knowing payment structure is very important as it is not a free money and you have to repay it through specified procedure to avoid any complexity.

6- Annual Fees

You should also consider annual fees (if exists), as some companies charge annual fees for holding their card which can also be paid in twelve monthly installments.

7- Online Transaction Facility

Credit card network is another factor to ponder over. Card company must offer 24 hour online transactions facility and must have a strong credit dealing network in your own country and abroad as well so you would have no problem in using credit card when and where you need it.

8- Default Charges

Default charges include extra payment in case of violating terms and conditions. Any kind of violation including late payments or exceeding credit limit can lead to the imposition of default charges.

9- Requisites for Card Qualification

Qualifying for a credit card depends upon certain factors including verification of your personal information provided in application form, previous credit history or credit rating (if exists), your overall ability to pay off the balance and above all your credit limit. If you get qualified then better otherwise some companies also offer appeal procedure in case of disqualification. So you can avail this opportunity as well for becoming qualified for a credit card.

10- Responsibility And Protection

Final and most important thing to remember is that credit money is a responsibility not a right. Credit card offers many potential benefits. It’s a flexible way of borrowing money in short time to manage any financial pressure. But if you use it as free money without moderating your spending habits it can also become a liability for you. It can damage your credit rating and can cost you much more than the actual balance. So be responsible in your spending ways instead of ending up in serious debt complexities. In case of additional card holder, the main account holder who signed the agreement will be responsible for paying off. Protect your card against any fraud or theft and take benefit of Pin or Chip facility which is available around the world to ensure balance security. In fact UK is one of the first countries to provide this facility. In case of disable persons chip is provided with signature card. So safe your PIN and always use secure websites while shopping online. Visit http://www.pinandchip.co.uk for further detail on pin and chip.

Debit Cards

But unfortunately if you don’t get qualified for a credit card then debit card could be another better choice. Popularity of debit card can be gauged by the fact that about 41 million (about 84%) people in UK are debit card holders while the number of credit or other charge card holders is around 31 million (about 66%). Debit card is considered the best option for cash withdrawal with no additional charges while credit card issuers charge withdrawal fees of about 2.5%. Most of the credit cards don’t provide any interest-free period for cash transactions and incur additional interest and fees which gives debit cards an edge over credit card in such circumstances.

The Importance Of Financial Accounting In A Latin Country Environment

Financial Accounting, as it is commonly described, focuses on organizing the financial information of an entity into financial statements to help the decision making of people outside the organization, such as stockholders or suppliers, among others. Its objective is to historically record the economic life of an entity so that its operational development can be analyzed and interpreted by third parties. This is the international accepted definition of Financial Accounting, but one thing is its definition, and another very different one how it is applied to different economic environments.

In some countries with non-stable economies, such as the majority of Latin countries, Financial Accounting becomes essential for a company’s survival and is the most important aspect of business decisions. In the country of Colombia, for example, business decisions (supplying, investing, borrowing, lending) are made after analyzing the financial statements of the companies involved. In a country where assets are guarded thoroughly, organizations take extreme precautions before making any decisions that will affect those assets in any way.

Financial Statements become the most important source of information about companies involved in a business deal. Since they are of public use by law, they’re the first documents requested in any type of negotiation. To become a new supplier for another entity, for example, a company would have to present documents such as bank and clients or suppliers recommendation letters, but the most essential ones would be the Balance Sheet and the Income Statement of the fiscal year immediately prior to the date. Without these two documents, the entity would not be accepted as a supplier, even if the recommendation letters show it to be a very profitable and stable organization.

The main reason for financial statements to be so valued in the business environments of these types of economy countries is because they provide a very trustworthy source of information about an entity’s financial performance. It may not be a very different reason for why they are valued in every other economy, but especially in these ones, where investing has so many risks, and where procedures may take double the time of an average international company, resulting in time expenses, it helps make decisions easier.

Having the financial statements ready in time is also a priority of every President or General Manager of a company. Even though they’re not the ones directly involved in the process of elaborating these documents, they have a close supervision of the task. They’re responsible for making sure the Accounting Department is doing its work correctly and with the honesty and ethics required to be able to present accurate and true financial information. In Colombia, Financial Statements need to be signed by the Legal Representative of the company, who in the majority of the cases is the same General Manager or President or CEO; by the Statutory Auditor (or Company Auditor), and by the Comptroller. By signing them, they are confirming that the financial information recorded in the Balance Sheet and in the Income Statement, as well as the explanatory notes, is true and real and hasn’t been tampered with in any way.

Being a country where corruption sometimes messes up the flow of businesses, having the assurance that the financial information of a company is backed up by these three significant signatures, makes it easier to be able to trust an organization when business decisions need to be made. It also helps the company maintain its place in the industry and be recognized as profitable and stable.

Since Financial Statements play such an important role in the decision making of every type of organization, almost every administrative employee understands the basics of financial accounting, and know how to interpret a Balance Sheet. Even if they may not understand what every account means, they are instructed in what a good and acceptable Balance Sheet should look like and the importance of its information, related to their line of work. They also know how an Income Statement and its content is very important when preparing future budgets.

Even though the general importance of Financial Accounting is the same in every country, it plays a very significant and primordial role in Latin economic environments. That is why serious measures are taken to make sure that Financial Statements are done in the most ethical and transparent way, allowing Financial Accounting in non stable economies, to continue being a source of reliability and trust in the process of business decision making.