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Workforce Management Platform Zira Notches $3.1M Investment – pymnts.com

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Cloud-based workforce management platform Zira Technologies Inc. has landed $3.1 million in its inaugural round of financing, according to a Wednesday (Oct. 7) announcement.

Lead investors General Catalyst and Abstract Ventures were accompanied by angel investors in the round, such as Lee Fixel, Jana Messerschmidt, Daniel Graf, Aaron Schildkrout and Joe Montana.

Zira is designed to maximize labor efficiency and staffer morale for shift-based teams. The platform automates the handling of everyday tasks, such as scheduling shifts or evaluating performance.

“After talking with hundreds of managers and employees across a variety of industries, we felt it was time to take the burden off of managers and their employees,” Zira Co-founder and CEO Tito Goldstein said in the announcement. “By providing a tool that makes these modern strategies a few clicks away, Zira can unlock the potential hidden in our world’s workforces.”

“With Zira, employees now have a voice in their work schedules, and our AI ensures that each voice is heard,” Zira Co-founder Arjun Vora said in the announcement. “By understanding preferences and past behaviors, Zira is able to create the best schedules and reward good performance.”

Zira’s technologies are available for companies throughout the U.S., Mexico, Canada and India, according to the announcement.

Goldstein was Uber’s head of product design foor Uber for Business in the past, while Vora previously served as Uber’s head of driver design. They are joined by engineering leads from tech firms such as Uber, Facebook, Slack and Thought Spot.

Last November, news surfaced that a group of past Uber employees had begun a cloud kitchen business, Virtual Kitchen Co. The Oakland, California upstart seeks to facilitate food deliveries for nearby eateries that get many orders from delivery firms such as Uber Eats. At the time, Virtual Kitchen Co. had recently unveiled a $15 million investment from notable names such as Base10 Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and others.

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Retirees: 3 Investment Mistakes You Must Avoid – The Motley Fool Canada

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There’s a good chance that the COVID-19 pandemic would have delayed retirement plans for several Canadian seniors. Though the stock market has made a stellar recovery since March, Canada is struggling with high unemployment rates, lower consumer spending, and rising healthcare costs.

These extraordinary times have resulted in a volatile stock market. No one is quite sure how things are going to unfold especially as COVID-19 cases are on the rise once again.

Investors might feel the need to guard against these market fluctuations. However, there are common mistakes that should be avoided right now.

Exiting the stock market

If you are closer to retirement age, you might be tempted to sell stocks in your portfolio and exit the equity markets entirely. The market recovery has surprised analysts and experts while some economists are of the view that the rebound is unsustainable given the structural issues impacting global economies.

However, it is better to think twice before withdrawing funds from your retirement account. While it’s ideal to buy the dip and sell when markets peak, it’s impossible to time the equity markets. Further, pulling out investments at the wrong time could cost you dearly; you need to focus on a strategy where you bet on quality companies with huge economic moats.

In the long term, quality companies are well poised to weather macro-downturns and emerge stronger from a crisis.

Retiring when you are not prepared

The ongoing uncertainty might be tempting for several Canadians to postpone their retirement plans. However, this means you will withdraw the money from your retirement account in a market downturn when stock valuations are depressed.

So if you decide to retire and the stock market undergoes another crash there is a chance to lose a significant amount of savings.

Putting investments on hold

Savings for your retirement is a long-term play where you need to disciplined and focused. So, it does not make sense to pause your investments at a time when markets are volatile, which might be counter-intuitive.

Consistently investing for retirement should remain a priority to benefit from compounded gains. You can in fact double down on your investment when the market undergoes a correction and pick up top stocks at a lower valuation.

Retirees can look to buy stocks such as Fortis (TSX:FTS)(NYSE:FTS), a utility company with an attractive dividend yield of 3.7%. Fortis is one of the largest utility companies in North America and over 80% of its annual sales are protected by regulatory mechanisms or from residential sales, largely insulating it from COVID-19 related headwinds.

Fortis managed to increase adjusted earnings by 2% to $0.56 in the second quarter. The company’s earnings were positively impacted by a strong rate base growth of its regulated utilities and higher retail sales at UNS Energy. This was offset by lower earnings in the Caribbean due to a drastic fall in tourism activities in the region.

Fortis is a Dividend Aristocrat and has increased its payouts for 46 consecutive years. With over 3.3 million customers in North America and a steady stream of cash flows, it remains a solid dividend bet.

The company aims to increase dividends at mid-single-digit rates in the upcoming years indicating its balance sheet strength and recession-proof business.

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The Motley Fool recommends FORTIS INC. Fool contributor Aditya Raghunath has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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Iveson says $17.3-million federal housing investment puts Edmonton on the right track to end homelessness – Edmonton Journal

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Article content continued

“The goal was to create urgency around accommodation for everybody this winter and urgency around bringing the right kind of units online in a matter of months rather than years and so I think we’ve accomplished that with the federal government’s announcement,” he said. “I think we’ve made considerable progress within the last eight or nine weeks and anyone who wants to come in from the cold will have a place to do it within that 10-week timeframe. So I’m pleased with how it’s come together.”

Now that the funding is secured, Iveson said the city will work with social agencies over the next few weeks to “go shopping” for the right sites.

“We’ve been in discussions with a number of hoteliers and also looking at some of the modular sites that the city had previously approved so the money will move quickly and as soon as we have a decision point on that we’ll bring that forward, but our goal will be to move that within weeks,” he said.

Iveson said the city will also be aggressively pushing for a portion of the other $500 million that will be granted to specific projects. A few projects are already in the works, Iveson said, pointing to four planned supportive housing complexes that will provide 150 units. Projects under this stream must be completed within one year of a signed agreement.

The city is working to open up a 24-7 temporary shelter at the Edmonton Convention Centre by Friday, which will accommodate up to 300 residents overnight. The Mustard Seed and Hope Mission are also looking to expand their overnight shelters in order to serve more people at larger spaces while maintaining appropriate physical distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Investment approaches to continued uncertainty – Investment Executive

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“The average client portfolio is riskier today than it has been historically because you’re not getting the natural diversification” that bonds provide, said panellist Luke Ellis, CEO with London, U.K.–based Man Group plc, a global investment management firm with offerings that include quantitative portfolios. As a result, asset allocation must be reconsidered, he said.

Ellis also warned of the challenge of identifying winners and losers in a world of massive government spending. The market is not efficient when fiscal policy helps support weak companies, he said.

Neil Cunningham, president and CEO with Ottawa-based PSP Investments, one of Canada’s largest pension investment managers, said PSP is reducing government bonds in portfolios in favour of emerging market debt, private credit and high inflation–linked infrastructure projects with little operating or credit risk. Adding in these assets increases risk, so the firm reduces equities to stay within risk limits, he said.

More generally, as a long-term investor, Cunningham aims to distinguish between noise and longer-term trends. The U.S. election, he said, is noise: “We’re much more concerned with the trends that get accelerated by Covid,” such as de-globalization, greater e-commerce adoption and working from home.

Cunningham also suggested investors follow the long-term trends of ESG and diversity and inclusion because governments, employees and customers will consider these factors as they legislate, work and shop.

Mohammed Alardhi, executive chairman with Manama, Bahrain–based Investcorp, a global manager of alternatives, highlighted the need to diversify within sectors and geographies, noting that investors in oil-producing regions were particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

Cunningham described investing in a U.K. pub business just months before the economic shutdown. No one expected a business that stayed open during the Blitz to close, he said. The lesson: “Unless you diversify both geographically and by sector, you’re bound to get hit by something you didn’t expect.” Unexpected downturns also require investors to ensure they have sufficient liquidity, he said.

Panellists also considered trends arising from geopolitics.

The outcome of U.S.-China tensions will be key for many portfolios over the next decade, depending on the position investors take, Ellis said.

For example, should China be a small part of a portfolio because of the country’s restrictions on foreign businesses, or should it be a large part as the eventual largest economy in the world?

As U.S.-China tensions put pressure on other governments to pick a side, investors will face an increasingly challenging environment, Ellis said.

Cunningham said his firm was increasing allocations to Australasia and emerging markets based on long-term geopolitical trends that will see those economies benefit.

The outlook for investment in Canada

Ian McKay, CEO with Ottawa-based Invest in Canada, also spoke at the session and provided a positive outlook for foreign investment in this country despite an overall negative forecast for foreign investment flows.

Global foreign direct investment (FDI) is expected to decrease by up to 40% this year and by a further 5–10% in 2021, according to the World Investment Report 2020 from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

This would bring FDI flows to “the lowest levels we’ve seen in over 20 years,” McKay said, which will motivate governments, investment funds and agencies to reassess their strategic plans and investing criteria.

As they do so, Canada is proving attractive.

Since the pandemic, Invest in Canada has experienced a spike in interest from global investors in three sectors in Canada: life sciences, associated with a vaccine for Covid-19; the digital economy, in which Canada is a leader in artificial intelligence; and clean technology, such as hydrogen or electric cars and renewable energy.

“In Canada, we have the right ingredients for that — the raw materials, highly skilled workforce, innovative ecosystems and global market access,” McKay said.

Fundamental factors also favour Canada when it comes to attracting investment, such as political and economic stability, an open mindset to free and rules-based trade, and a global supply of workforce talent, McKay said.

Despite the forecast for foreign investment flows, “we are certain that the future is bright for those investors who continue to build and expand their operations in Canada,” McKay said.

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