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Corliss Online Financial Mag: Japan, Australia May Join China-Led Bank

Japan signaled that it could join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) after all if certain conditions were met satisfactorily. 

This is despite the United States already expressing concerns regarding AIIB and its capability to pass social and environmental standards and China's already growing diplomatic influence in the region. Still, about 30 nations, including major EU members, participated in this economic project. 

Now, even the notable allies of the US -- South Korea, Australia and Japan -- are reportedly reconsidering.

Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso announced that they are considering joining the AIIB if they can confirm that it has a "credible mechanism for providing loans". However, other Japanese senior officials remain doubtful if participating in a China-led bank could be truly advantageous.

"We have been asking to ensure debt sustainability taking into account its impact on environment and society. We could (consider) if these issues are guaranteed. We'll give it careful consideration from diplomatic and economics viewpoints. There could be a chance that we would go inside and discuss. But so far we have not heard any responses," commented Aso.

AIIB is also seen as a competitor of ADB (Asian Development Bank) which is a regional financial institution based in the Philippines. It is basically dominated by the US and Japan, with its leader customarily coming from the latter's finance ministry or the Bank of Japan.

The former president of ADB and current BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda cautiously said, "There are huge needs, demands for infrastructure investment in Asia. On the other hand, the World Bank and ADB have been helping countries in Asia to improve infrastructure for the last 50 years."

Despite being a China-led financial institution that the US is warning against, AIIB got Tokyo concerned of missing out on opportunity for more regional participation, reports Corliss Online Financial Mag.

Meanwhile, Australia's Treasurer Joe Hockey said participating in AIIB has the potential to benefit local companies and should not adversely affect their relationship with the US. At any rate, he added that a final decision has yet to be made, although Corliss Online Financial Mag got reports that Australia could decide to formally join this week with as much as USD 2.3 billion in investment.

"There is a lot of merit in it, but we want to make sure there are proper governance procedures. That there's transparency, that no one country is able to control the entity. And because it's operating in our region, in our neighbourhood, it is important that Australia fully understand and look at participating in this Bank," said Hockey.

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Corliss Group Online Financial Mag is a stock-market education website designed to teach beginners how to trade shares. Corliss Group Online Financial Mag does this in a manner easy to understand and uses only relevant and essential information required to trade shares on the stock market.
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Financial Review Corliss Group Online Magazine: WealthyU – Keeping You And Your Money Safe This Holiday Season

Every two seconds someone has their identity stolen. The holiday shopping season is in full swing and the scammers, crooks and identity thieves are on the prowl.

Financial guru Deborah Owens joined Roland Martin on “NewsOne Now” to discuss what you can do to avoid becoming the next victim of fraud and how to keep you, your identity and your money safe from would be thieves this holiday season.

One thing people can do to avoid being taken advantage of online is to be aware of phising schemes. These schemes present fake web sites that look like real web sites of retailers, banks and other financial institutions.

Owens told Martin people can protect themselves by looking  at the URL and making sure that there is an “http” and an “s” in the address.

America’s wealth coach advises people to not “click on anything. Go to the actual website” of the online retailer you wish to purchase merchandise from.

“The reason why this is so important at this time of year is because our guards are down.” Owens added, when we’re on a mission “to get that perfect gift what you need to understand is that [you] don’t [want to] make yourself somebody else’s  gift.”

Part of protecting yourself from potential thieves involves “being aware of your surroundings” and being conscious of what you are carrying on your person when you go out shopping.

Owens cautioned us to not take all of our credit cards with us when we go shopping. She said, “one credit card and some cash is probably what you want to do so in the event, if something does happen” everything is not stolen and you don’t have to try to create all that information again.

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Financial Review Corliss Group Online Magazine: The Golden Rule of Startup Capital

The Golden Rule of Startup Capital: Don't Waste Money

Golden rule of business: Increase shareholder value.

Golden rule of investing: Buy low, sell high.

Most entrepreneurs know these golden rules( See: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/238365 
 ). To a great extent, they are (or should be) obvious and self evident. They are "rules" because they set the foundation for business mission statements, goals and decisions.

There is another important golden rule that many entrepreneurs overlook, specifically startup entrepreneurs. It was recently driven home to me in an email from Mike Schroll, the founder of Startup.SC, a South Carolina business incubator with which I am currently working to develop my own startup idea. Working late one evening last week, my computer inbox "pinged" with his single-sentence message:

"I challenge you to achieve what you are doing with less capital."

Granted, my first reaction was that this was obvious. Of course, all businesses should try to do more with less. But as I started to consider my proposal in its current iteration, I did notice that I had built a "perfect-world" scenario for my capital-raise ask, which was significantly high. I have an ambitious goal, or BHAG, but I was treading dangerously close to a trap that many entrepreneurs fall into.

I estimated exactly how much money I needed to succeed.

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The problem with this is that the "perfect" amount of money is a fallacy. Indeed, if you have a unique, revolutionary and proprietary idea, combined with the right amount of money it stands a significantly better chance of becoming a success. But most of us do not have this type of idea -- we just have an idea -- and investors have many investment choices and typically want to spread their risk around to many startups.

Ultimately, what investors want to see and what you need to consider is the amount of money needed to achieve two goals:

1. Getting your idea to market.

2. Growing your customer base as quickly as possible.

Because capital is scarce, startup capital that goes to anything else will be considered wasteful. For instance:

Personnel 

About the only thing that is critical for success is personnel needed to get the startup launched. Engineers and programmers are expensive, and they are well worth the money in terms of developing the right minimum viable product or prototype. What should not be considered is a founders’ lucrative salary.

Unless you are a well known and sought-after founder (most of you are not), investors do not want valuable startup capital going to line your pocket. Be prepared to put in time and sweat to show your commitment, for which you will be rewarded with an investment.

Marketing and advertising

Customer acquisition cost is a key consideration for investors. If your strategy is just to spend money on advertising for the sake of spending money, then revisit your strategy. Approximating your return on marketing budget is critical, and though there is no way to be exact, demonstrating your critical thinking and understanding of its importance will make you appear much more credible.

Overhead

Precious startup capital should not be wasted on things such as offices, furniture, foosball tables and coffee bars, unless these things are critical for retaining key talent. Unless you are a sought-after founder with existing partnership with established venture capitalists, however, be prepared to bootstrap your way through development and launch.

Everything else 

Everything else needed to get started, from legal to accounting to utilities to janitorial, needs to be kept at an absolute minimum. No founder is beyond sitting in a hot office or taking Clorox to the toilet bowl. If your dollars are not going to build your product and gain customers, then they are being wasted.

While this concept may be obvious, I personally have spoken to countless entrepreneurs who visualize the launch of their idea with a complete misunderstanding. Many mistakenly believe that they need a Google-esque office, unlimited vacation days and full benefits, when in reality a cinder block desk, Internet access and the unwavering commitment of an ambitious entrepreneur is really all you need.

For more Financial Reviews from Corliss Group Online Magazine( http://corlissonlinegroup.com/blog/ ), visit our facebook page( https://www.facebook.com/corlissonlinefinancialmag ) and follow us on twitter @CorlissGroupMag( https://twitter.com/CorlissGroupMag ). 
 
For ambitious entrepreneurs, keep this one rule in mind when preparing your pitch to investors.
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Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine on 4 Essential Money Mistakes Entrepreneurs Overlook

As I get rolling on a new startup with my partners at Startup.SC, a startup incubator in South Carolina, I am reminded of a few painful mistakes many entrepreneurs, myself included, make when starting a business.

Now, if you are starting a business, you probably have not put too much thought into how you are going to exit. There are, after all, countless considerations to make as you get started, from applying for business licenses, developing working prototypes to setting up your website. If you ever plan to sell your business or bring on investors to grow, how you run your business from the start is just as important. 

Fortunately, it is not difficult to get started properly. Simply consider these four tips( http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/237898 ), often overlooked by most startup entrepreneurs.

1. Prepare your general ledger.

Setting up your accounting books may seem bland and tedious, especially for entrepreneurs without experience. Many rely on off-the-shelf accounting software, which provides general guidelines and templates to get you started. These are fine and completely acceptable for most startups, but to fully understand the financials of your company and, in the future, provide the evidence of the value you have built, you should give your set up careful consideration. Although a little pricey, it would benefit you to hire a professional when getting started.

2. Keep business business. 

It is completely acceptable for entrepreneurs to pay for a variety of expenses with company funds, so long as those expenses meet the generally acceptable accounting standards (GAAP) for business expenses. Too many entrepreneurs, however, use company funds for personal use, trying to justify it with very liberal interpretations of GAAP or simply improperly reporting.

Not only could this get you in hot water with the IRS and open you up to a great deal of liability, it will be difficult in the future to separate these expenses when valuing your company. From the onset, it is best to just keep all personal expenses out of the business.

3. Report all revenues. 

It is not difficult, and definitely enticing, to skim money from the business at the start, especially if you do most of your business in cash. Again, not only could this ultimately get you in trouble with the IRS, but it undervalues your business in the long run. It is going to be difficult to prove value and growth if you are not reporting real numbers from your business.

4. Keep careful records and receipts. 

OK, excluding personal expenses and reporting all of your revenue just means giving more of your hard-earned money to Uncle Sam in terms of taxes. Not necessarily true. If you understand the extent of what you can expense and, more importantly, you keep copious records of your activity (both for audits and due diligence of potential buyers and investors), you can ultimately work down your taxable income without hurting the value of your company.

Grab yourself a good book or, better yet, find yourself a trusted professional advisor( http://corlissonlinegroup.com/ ) to learn how to best run your business this way.

I was part of a business team that looked at investing in businesses a number of years ago. It was not uncommon to meet an entrepreneur of a small business whose only proof of success and value was a shoebox full of cash. A few would emphasize that the company was paying for personal utilities, auto expenses and even groceries and that we should consider these expenses as part of the value.

The problem was that they often could not prove these claims satisfactorily because they had not accounted for them properly. In the end, it hurt the valuation of their company and gave us tremendous leverage during the negotiations.

Most entrepreneurs are not thinking about an exit when they are in the startup stages of a business. If you ever have a goal to divest or grow through investment, how you run your business before you start is just as important as after.

For more Financial Tips from Corliss Group Online Magazine( http://corlissonlinegroup.com/blog/ ), visit our facebook page( https://www.facebook.com/corlissonlinefinancialmag ) and follow us on twitter @CorlissGroupMag( https://twitter.com/CorlissGroupMag ). 
How you set up and run your company from the beginning can have a significant affect on how you eventually exit.
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#CorlissOnlineFinancialMag Investing in small business ventures

What can an individual who lives on a small salary do to invest and augment his income somehow? Here are some tips to follow:

1. Invest in something close to your heart

Whether it is in music or cooking, investing in a small venture will have a greater chance of surviving and even achieving reasonable success if it involves doing something close to your heart or within your experience as a person or as a worker. If you work as a waiter, why not learn as much as you can about some way of improving a recipe or a drink and come up with your own sideline you, or with a partner, can run during weekends or after work?

We hear this advice often and yet not many take it to heart or are brave enough to actually do it. Many feel it takes too much effort and money to start a business. This is not true, in general. Making a single unique jacket or fashion accessory and selling it can be the one step you need to encourage yourself to make more. Even a used item such as a broken sofa, if repaired and furbished to look attractive might bring you some income you never thought you could have from what you already have.

Oftentimes, all it takes is a lot of imagination and a dose of courage to jump right ahead on a new venture you never tried before.

2. Learn the basic math

Any business, small or big, will depend largely on good and proper basic accounting. Learning the fundamental methods of bookkeeping will go a long way to controlling the flow of resources and understanding the nature of your business finance. We all knew about the Chinese who, for many centuries, used the abacus to make sure they got the entire math figured out. With the calculator or the PC today, the job has become even easier and more efficient as we can keep records as well of our transactions.

Still, there are other tricks we can avail of to make the task easy and more enjoyable. Finger-Math can be a tool one can learn and use during those hectic moments when technology Is not around to your aid. Mental math is a trick we can also develop to enhance our acuity in this area. Whatever suits your personality and style, make sure the math is a primary focus in your business. Remember, math is but a tool to make your work easier; but loving the work can make a lot of difference in how you conduct the business.

3. Know you product

Knowing your product is as important as how much you price it eventually. You may have a good round figure for your product’s price; but if you have not truly known your product (what it directly provides, what value it adds to its user, how it can be enhanced beyond its basic use), you will not fathom its true worth for you and for your customer.

Knowing your product goes beyond appreciating its innate value. Peanut butter is not just for making bread taste better or eating by itself. It can also be used for adding flavour to other recipes or with other food (try it with banana). And unless you tell people it can be used as so, they will never discover its other uses. Advertising or showing it in your packaging can be the step you need to do to enhance your product’s value and appeal as well as its price.

4. Know your customers

Not all people will want to buy your product or service. How to change their mind is the challenge you must never give up on. Changing your approach may allow you to capture certain customers you know patronize other brands. Price reduction, although it is not always the best thing to do or other come-ons, such as giveaways or freebies, may help promote your product in certain market locations you wish to capture.

Talking to people and being sensitive to their needs will help you get a clearer picture of your prospective customers.

5. Know your competitors

Knowing your customers will teach you how to appreciate and know your competitors indirectly as well. If you feel your product is better than your competitors and yet you cannot break into the bigger share of the market , then there must be something wrong with your product or your marketing approach.

Companies who have been in the business for many years have a lot to teach you how to go about your own venture. Get as much information from them directly through visiting their stores and factories or indirectly through reading books, magazines and websites.

6. No matter how many competitors you have, you can still join in if you are unique

Unless every corner in your area has a small variety store, you can still put up your own as long as you provide a unique feature in your business. Delivering your product while others wait for buyers can be your advantage in these busy times. Or, you can have orders picked up at certain times to encourage people to buy fresh vegetables, fruits or meat, for instance. The trick is to make your customers feel special and given a personal touch. Adding something nobody else provides may be the advantage you need to keep the competitors behind.

7. Find out what works for you and your product

Eventually, you will have to experiment and make a lot of mistakes as to how you can improve your product, your price and your style of operation. But things will change as economic and social realities also change ad adapting creatively will allow you to stay afloat. Being prepared for such eventualities ahead of others will help you reduce risks and manage your business well.

In the end, running a business may take more and more of your time and may lead you to give up your day-job. If you feel the time is right, then go ahead. Most business-people started that way. Make up your mind at the very start that the option is always present. It is just a matter of time when you will take the brave jump.

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What can an individual who lives on a small salary do to invest and augment his income somehow? Here are some tips to follow: 1. Invest in something close to your heart Whether it is in music or cooking, investing in a small venture will have a greater chance of surviving and even achieving reasonable
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Financial Blog Corliss Group Cybercrime Could Cost Global Economy Over $500 Billion


McAfee report paints grim picture of lucrative industry, despite incomplete data.

Cybercrime could be costing the global economy as much as $575 billion annually, according to a new report from McAfee.
 
The Intel-owned security company based its estimate on a range of sources, from government agencies to NGOs and academic institutions, counting both direct and indirect costs.
 
The report, Estimating the Global Cost of Cybercrime explained the methodology as follows:
 
“This study assumes that the cost of cybercrime is a constant share of national income, adjusted for levels of development. We calculated the likely global cost by looking at publically available data from individual countries, buttressed by interviews with government officials and experts. We looked for confirming evidence for these numbers by looking at data on IP theft, fraud, or recovery costs. In addition to a mass of anecdotes, we ultimately found aggregate data for 51 countries in all regions of the world who account for 80% of global income. We used this data to estimate the global cost, adjusting for differences among regions.”
 
However, the vendor cautioned that “differences in the thoroughness of national accounting”, as well as underreporting of incidents and the difficulty of valuing IP all make calculations an imprecise art.
 
High income countries lost more as a percentage of GDP, which could be because they have better accounting systems in place and/or that their IP is more valuable and therefore a bigger target for criminals.
 
The $575bn figure therefore comes from extrapolating a global total from high loss countries. It could be as low as $375bn if McAfee had extrapolated from “all countries where we could find open source data”.
 
On the other hand, the figure would be $445bn if the firm aggregated costs as a share of regional incomes, it said.
 
Whatever the final figure, it’s clear that richer countries in Europe, North America and Asia lost the most, because they are bigger targets and provide a better return on investment for the hacker. For example, G20 countries are said to have lost $200bn to cybercrime.
 
The UK, at 0.16%, had one of the lowest losses to cybercrime as a percentage of GDP, while the US (0.64%), came just ahead of China (0.63%) but trailed the most affected G20 nation: Germany (1.6%).
 
McAfee warned that as more businesses and consumers move online and more devices connect to the internet of things, cybercrime will continue to grow. IP theft, a “tax on innovation” will also increase as those countries which acquire it become more adept at building a competitive advantage.
 
Aside from calling for improvements to technology and defences, the report urged governments to work harder on creating best practice cybersecurity standards and cross-border law enforcement agreements.
 
It added that they must do a better job on accounting for cybercrime losses to provide a more comprehensive picture on where deficiencies lie. 
 
For the record, McAfee's report last year estimated cybercrime losses of $100-500bn annually.

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Financial Blog Corliss Group Lenders Fear Spread of Chinese Commodities Fraud Case


Large banks and trading firms are frantically trying to determine whether they have fallen victim to a suspected commodities fraud emanating from the giant Qingdao Port in northeast China.

Citigroup and several other large Western banks are concerned that their loans may lack the appropriate collateral, big stockpiles of copper and aluminum at the port. The banks have inspectors on the ground who are trying to assess whether enough of the metals are there.

The worry stems from suspicions that a Chinese company pledged the same collateral for multiple loans. Chinese authorities are investigating the matter.

The case could have broad repercussions for the commodities market and the Chinese economy. Banks have funneled billions of dollars into the Chinese economy through these murky transactions, and commodities prices have been falling over concerns that such lending will dry up.

Western banks, including Citigroup, are bracing for any potential fallout.

Just months ago, Citigroup fell victim to a multimillion-dollar fraud in Mexico. If the Qingdao developments harm the bank, regulators and shareholders are likely to press it to explain why its controls had failed again.

Chinese companies are at risk, too.

Citic Resources, part of the state-controlled conglomerate Citic Group, plunged nearly 10 percent on Tuesday after it disclosed that it might be affected by an investigation into stockpiles of metals held at the port. Citic Resources said on Monday that it had asked the local Chinese courts to secure its metals stockpiles. The shares recovered on Wednesday.

The potential fraud is linked to an opaque corner of China’s financial system that has grown substantially in recent years, bringing huge amounts of capital into the country. Many Chinese companies and investors, struggling to secure traditional loans from the state-dominated banking sector, have instead turned to alternative, unregulated financing methods involving imports of materials like copper, aluminum and iron ore.

These commodities financing deals are part of a growing number of nontraditional lending activities that have pushed credit in China to levels that are raising fears among investors and analysts. Jonathan Cornish, the head of North Asia bank ratings at Fitch Ratings, estimates that total outstanding credit in China rose to more than 220 percent of gross domestic product last year, up from 130 percent in 2008.

A typical commodities financing deal works like this: Copper is imported using letters of credit, warehoused in duty-free zones and pledged as collateral for cheap bank loans. The loan proceeds are used by the importer to speculate in higher-yielding, short-term investments. The importer then either sells the commodity or the investment product after a few months when the original letter of credit falls due.

The problem in Qingdao appears to revolve around one such importer. Last Friday, Qingdao Port International, the biggest port operator in the Chinese city, announced that the authorities had begun investigating a suspected fraud related to the aluminum and copper stored in its warehouses. A day earlier, a report in The 21st Century Business Herald, a respected Chinese-language newspaper, identified the company under investigation as Qingdao Decheng Mining.

The report said Qingdao Decheng was suspected by the authorities of having pledged the same stocks of the metals — about 100,000 tons of aluminum and 2,000 to 3,000 tons of copper — as collateral for multiple loans, amassing bank debt exceeding 1 billion renminbi, or $160 million. Phone calls and emails to Qingdao Decheng’s parent company, Dezheng Resources, went unanswered on Wednesday.

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The authorities are investigating loans based on collateral of metals at a Chinese port, with implications for Western banks and the Chinese credit market.
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Financial Blog Corliss Group: 20 essential pre-flight checks for investors

The simple checklists used by pilots and doctors every day have saved countless lives. Use these investment checklists to avoid losing money. 

On October 30 1935 an early test flight of America's first four-engine bomber, the Boeing B-17, ended in disaster when it nose-dived into the ground just after takeoff.

Overwhelmed by the number of different tasks involved in flying what was one of the most complex aircraft of its time, the crew simply forgot to check that a lock on the controls had been disengaged. 

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The crash led to the development of the pre-flight checklist, which pilots around the world now use routinely to ensure that the plane is ready to fly in every respect before takeoff.

An American surgeon, Atul Gawande, realised that his profession also made mistakes by forgetting key tasks – mistakes that could be avoided by the use of checklists. The introduction of these simple but vital to-do lists has saved countless lives in aviation, medicine and many other fields.

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When it comes to investing, checklists could save you a lot of money.
"If checklists designed to focus on the most vital areas and cut out unnecessary distractions can help people stay alive, then they can surely be applied to the financial markets," said Russ Mould of AJ Bell, the investment shop.

Mr Mould has come up with two checklists – one of warning signs, the other of positive aspects of a potential investment.

First, check whether a company has any of these 10 attributes, Mr Mould said. Any should give investors cause for concern.
1. Is there a dominant chief executive or shareholder?
2. Have there been frequent or transformational acquisitions?
3. If there is a focus on growth, what exactly is the company trying to grow? Focusing on growth in "earnings per share" or EPS is a particularly worrying sign, Mr Mould said.
4. Are there management bonuses that are triggered easily (usually via a level of EPS)?
5. Do the accounts regularly feature "exceptionals" and unintelligible footnotes?
6. Is the profit figure significantly bigger than the amount of cash generated?
7. Is interest cover – the ratio of profits to debt interest – less than 2?
8. Is dividend cover (profits divided by dividends) less than 2?
9. Does the company have a "mix of high operational and financial gearing"? Operational gearing means profits heavily depend on a particular level of sales, while financial gearing is simply having a lot of debt.
10. Do returns on capital consistently fail to exceed the cost of capital?

Now, here are 10 aspects of a company that could make it worth considering.

1. Is there "share price momentum"? A steadily rising price can indicate that investors are gradually waking up to a company's strength.
2. Do the shares trade at a discount relative to the company's peers and the market?
3. Is the company's market share on a rising trend?
4. Is there a record of rising profits and dividends?
5. Have the company's directors been buying shares?
6. Is the consensus among stockbrokers' analysts a "buy" rating? Try to focus on research that is certified as "independent".
7. Are profit forecasts rising steadily?
8. Is interest cover sufficient?
9. Are there any activist investors or hedge funds on the shareholder register? This could indicate that the company is about to be shaken up, potentially freeing it from poor management or a record of operational mistakes.
10. Is there a good standard of corporate governance? The chairman and chief executive should be separate and there should be strong non-executive directors.

By Richard Evans

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The simple checklists used by pilots and doctors every day have saved countless lives. Use these investment checklists to avoid losing money
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FINANCIAL BLOG CORLISS GROUP: FROM CORPORATE GIANTS TO MAIN STREET, FRAUD IS ON THE RISE

Investors, analysts and corporate directors rely on external audits to keep companies honest. But a new study says audits are woefully ineffective at uncovering fraud. In fact, more than twice as many frauds are uncovered by accident.

This is a finding in the "Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse" study released Tuesday by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, which bills itself as the world's largest anti-fraud organization.

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"You can't put the onus on somebody else to keep your place clean," said ACFE faculty member Evy Poumpouras, a former U.S. Secret Service agent. She said internal controls can be much more effective in uncovering fraud—and preventing it in the first place.

The study examined 1,483 cases of fraud as reported by the Certified Fraud Examiners who investigated them.

"The analysis of these cases provides valuable lessons about how fraud is committed, how it is detected and how organizations can reduce their vulnerability to this risk," wrote ACFE President James Ratley in the report's introduction.

The report estimates the typical organization loses five percent of its revenue each year to fraud. That would work out to a global impact of $3.7 trillion, the report says. But as staggering as the figure might seem, Poumpouras says she is not surprised.

"There are so many more cases that we don't know of," she said.

Nearly half of the fraud cases studied were in the United States, where anti-fraud controls tend to be the strictest. But the biggest losses were in Eastern Europe and Western and Central Asia. The median loss in those regions was $383,000, compared to $100,000 in the U.S.

Employees and middle managers committed the lion's share of fraud, with owners and senior executives accounting for just 19 percent of the cases. But perhaps unsurprisingly, the study noted that the higher-ranking the fraudster was, the greater the losses.

Regardless, financial fraud is particularly difficult to uncover, Poumpouras said, because the perpetrators have less of an emotional connection to what they are doing than they do for other types of crime.

"Usually you are not touching money. You're fudging documents. It feels less real," said Poumpouras, who has been involved in many financial fraud investigations.

"Getting people to confess to financial crime is more difficult than getting them to confess to murder," she said, which may help explain why audits can be so ineffective.

The study says auditors detected just 3 percent of the fraud cases reported last year, compared to 7 percent uncovered by accident.

"While independent audits serve a vital role in organizational governance," the report says, "our data indicates that they should not be relied upon as organizations' primary anti-fraud mechanism."

Instead, the study recommends what it calls "proactive detection measures" including internal hotlines that allow employees to report fraud anonymously and keep their co-workers honest.

"Most employees don't want to rat on someone," Poumpouras said. "They want to do it anonymously."

The study appears to bear that out.

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"Organizations with hotlines were much more likely to catch fraud by a tip, which our data shows is the most effective way to detect fraud," the study says. More than 42 percent of the cases in the report came to light as the result of a tip.

Yet only about half the organizations surveyed had a system for collecting tips, and fewer than 11 percent offered rewards to whistleblowers.

The study found small businesses were particularly vulnerable to fraud, yet they are least likely to protect themselves, often because don't perceive themselves to be at risk—or because they think fraud protection is too costly.

But the report says some of the most effective measures are not costly at all.

They include an anti-fraud policy that employees are required to acknowledge from time to time—"It lets them know what management is expecting," Poumpouras said.

Surprise audits and spot checks by management—rather than by an external auditor who might not know all the potential ways inside a company to hide fraud—can also be effective.

And training all employees to spot fraud not only creates more cops on the beat, it also puts everyone on notice.

"The more police officers you see on the street, the less likely people are to commit a crime," Poumpouras said.
BY SCOTT COHN

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Investors, analysts and corporate directors rely on external audits to keep companies honest. But a new study says audits are woefully ineffective at uncover...
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7 Tips Financial Advisors Wish You Knew

Getting help from a professional financial planner will not assure anyone fiscal security.

“So many people come to us undergoing financial trouble and believe they will be walk out absolutely problem-free,” says Deana Arnett, a certified financial planner and senior planning- expert at Rosenthal Wealth Management Group. “We can help them discover their needs and design the best financial and investment program; but the whole thing will only benefit then if they also become proactive.”

In terms of financial planning, Amanda Gift, a financial consultant working with Signature, advises her clients about the many variables that cannot be manipulated in the investment environment, although they can control their spending. “You cannot be in charge of what the economy will do or which direction the stock market is going to; but you can manage your expenses and what you buy and what you do not buy.”

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Getting help from a professional financial planner will not assure anyone fiscal security. “So many people come to us undergoing financial trouble and believe they will be walk out absolutely problem-free,” says Deana Arnett, a certified financial planner and senior planning- expert at Rosenthal Wealth Management Group. “We can help them discover their needs and design the best
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Corliss Online Financial Mag: P&G to Sell 100 Brands.

Consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble confirmed last week that they plan to sell off a total of 100 brands, suggesting deeper cuts than originally reported. 

P&G confirmed they have finalized deals for 35 brands out of 100 that they are expecting to sell by 2016. The troubled company is also expecting to sell those brands that have collected a total sales in the USD 10 billion mark, contrary to the USD 8 billion it has previously announced. 

According to Jon Moeller, P&G's Chief Financial Officer, the brand divestitures could reduce their annual sales by as much as 14% -- a pretty big difference from the original 10% estimate loss in total revenue. 

Meanwhile, other officials of the company confirmed that those decisions are already the 'refined' version of their original plans and that they are only trying to consolidate their brand portfolio. 

Most of the brands shortlisted in its divestiture plans have already been sold on account of their low performance. But Moeller is quick to point out though that the brands they are selling are not necessarily weak ones -- they are just underperforming in the eyes of the management.

P&G has previously sold its pet food brands along with a handful of laundry and beauty brands. According to experts, Wella salon and Braun appliances are next on the list. According to Corliss Online Financial Mag, the largest potential divestiture yet is the Duracell batteries to Berkshire Hathaway, owned by billionaire Warren Buffett. The battery maker reportedly generates USD 2.6 billion in revenue per year.

Procter & Gamble's CEO Alan Lafley said in a conference that they expect selloff to be completed in 5 months. He added, "We have had a lot of interest in the assets we want to dispose."

Corliss Online Financial Mag (http://www.corlissonlinegroup.com/) has previously reported Lafley announcing last year that P&G plans to concentrate on around 70 brands as a core group of the company.

Read for more related articles by visiting our blog @ http://corlissonlinegroup.com/blog/
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Financial Review Corliss Group Online Magazine: The five best money moves you can make in December

We all tend to get excited and go over budget amid holiday festivities but make a few smart moves now, and you won't get caught off guard by monetary misfortune this holiday season. 

Your halls are decked with tinsel and ornaments and your fridge is stocked with eggnog — and amid the holiday excitement, you haven’t looked at your bank account balance in weeks.

You’re not alone. It’s easy to get caught up in festivities and forget about budgeting. But make a few smart moves now, and you won’t be caught off guard by monetary misfortune.

Here are five money moves to add to your holiday to-do list.

1.) Invest in your future self: Contribute to your 401(k).

In 2013, 42% of middle-class Americans said that it was impossible for them to pay their bills and still save for retirement, according to a Wells Fargo study. But even if you can’t get anywhere near the annual 401(k) contribution limit of $17,500, try to put aside as much money as you can, says Ken Stanley, a NerdWallet advisor from Harper Stanley Financial Services.

“If you have the opportunity to contribute to a 401(k), especially if your employer is matching the contribution, please don’t leave any money on the table,” he says.

Jonathan DeYoe, NerdWallet advisor and principal at DeYoe Wealth Management, adds that it’s important to re-evaluate spending at the end of the year and see if you can afford to contribute more.

“Your future self is really going to appreciate your current self’s savings,” he says.

2. Protect your identity online.

About 28% of shoppers say they prefer doing holiday shopping online rather than in a store to avoid crowds, according to a 2013 study by global information firm Accenture. If you’re planning to skip the long lines this month, do your best to keep your online information safe.

Avoid looking at your online bank profile or making online purchases on public Wi-Fi. If you have lots of weak or duplicate passwords, now is a good time to change those. Monitor your credit card statements closely and report fraudulent transactions as soon as possible.

3. Give to charity – the smart way.

If you have some excess income at the end of the year and you want to give back, donating before Dec. 31 can help you benefit from tax incentives.

When donating, make sure your money is going to a worthy cause. Two-thirds of Americans don’t research the organizations they contribute to, according to a 2011 study by Hope Consulting. Check the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance to find out more about where your money is going.

4. Start thinking about taxes.

Don’t wait until April to start thinking about taxes. For new parents or recently married couples, filing a W-4 before the holiday season could mean less tax withheld from each paycheck. That could make a big difference during the holidays, says Harry Krampf, a NerdWallet advisor and a tax expert at TaxVigilante.net.

“It’s one of those things that people have direct control over,” he says.

If you’ve seen some big changes this year, ask your employer about filling out a W-4.

5. Accidents can happen at any time – get covered.

If you don’t have health insurance through your employer, now’s the time to enroll in coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Enroll by Dec. 15 for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2015. If you choose to forgo health insurance this year, remember that you’ll have to pay a penalty, and in 2015, that will be more costly.

What’s important

Getting your financial life in order can be stressful, but once you’re done, you’ll be able to focus on what really matters. That makes all the budgeting, planning and investment worth it.

“It’s really about family coming together,” DeYoe says. “It’s about thankfulness, gratitude and really appreciating what we have.”

More tips or any economic issue that will help you? Corliss Group Online Financial Mag ( http://corlissonlinegroup.com/blog ) is here to help you. Corliss Group Online Financial Mag ( http://corlissonlinegroup.com ) is a stock-market education website designed to teach beginners how to trade shares. You can also visit our blog site @ http://corlissonlinefinancialmag.blogspot.co.uk for more update.
We all tend to get excited and go over budget amid holiday festivities but make a few smart moves now, and you won't get caught off guard by monetary misfortune this holiday season.
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Financial Review Corliss Group Online Magazine - Q&A: Foreign correspondence in China and Asia

Tracy Dahlby, former Tokyo bureau chief, National Geographic contributor and author of the new memoir Into the Field: A Foreign Correspondent’s Notebook, looks back on a life of reporting on Asia

You got your start as a reporter for a financial newswire in Japan during the 70s, back when it was still big on heavy industry, but had begun shifting toward a consumer economy. China stories often echo that narrative these days, but was Tokyo ever so polluted?

I’d say “not as” but it could be pretty grim. I remember being profoundly disappointed when, in 1976, I climbed Mount Fuji for the first time only to stumble upon slopes strewn with trash. I wondered how the Japanese, who had a reputation, in poetry and prose, as world-champion lovers of nature could let their iconic mountain go to hell like that. So Fuji was my reigning metaphor. And it’s true that Tokyo often choked under a blanket of industrial smog. I don’t think it ever reached what China is coping with today. But it pays to remember that Japan got its pollution problems under control and, with the right policies, China has a shot at doing so too. How China does that while maintaining economic growth and meeting rising popular expectations is, of course, the compelling mystery.

Much is still made of the apparent economic similarities between China now and Japan during the boom years. You write in your book about covering both during your career -- what comparisons hold up, and which strike you as misguided?

During my brief time at the financial news wire in Tokyo, I took the stock market closings in my shaky Japanese and wasn’t always sure I’d got the decimal point in the right place. Frankly, I’m still a little amazed that the global economy survived. In writing about those times today, however, I very much feel China looking over my shoulder because there are the obvious similarities between Japan then and China now—the active, pointed pioneering of overseas markets and the gobbling up of vast sources of raw materials, the frenetic building of roads, dams, bridges and airports and, above all, the psychological transformation that comes to a country with rapidly rising consumer expectations. The big difference, of course, is a matter of scale and scope. What China has undertaken dwarfs other models and that’s what makes it such a wonderful, wrenching, gripping story to behold. 

When and why did you first come to China as a journalist?

I made my first trip to China in January of 1978, about 14 months after the death of Mao Zedong. Beijing was a city of bicycles, Mao suits and, for foreigners, a Friendship Store that was not exactly consumer-friendly. It wasn’t easy for an American to get a visa back then. But a friend of a friend in Hong Kong, a wonderful local businesswoman, insisted that I apply and that I turn over my passport to her. It turns out she had been at school with a man who worked the other side of the fence for China travel and presided over the tourist visa stamp. So I found myself headed over the border by train to Guangzhou and then Beijing with a group of Japanese, American and Australian tourists. I somehow managed to report a story for The New York Times travel section on that jaunt at a time when China had become an alluring ticket for American travelers. So I guess you could say I started my China watching as half tourist, half hustling hack, and that’s pretty much the way I proceeded in my career, as a friend recently put it, letting myself “wander and wonder.”

There were earlier motivations, too. I was a typically restless undergrad in Seattle, Washington, living at home and eager to trade a ho-hum life for the excitement and adventure of the wider world. I’d heard reports of the Cultural Revolution on a radio in my bedroom that was ridiculously large—the size of a shoebox. Today, we can dial up tons of information about China on our smart phones or e-tablets. In those days, China was a black box, information was scarce, and what there was required strenuous decoding. That of course meant that China was a tremendous mystery that fired your imagination. You really wanted to get out to Asia and take a crack at trying to figure it out.

It's rare to go a week lately without a dust-up between China and any of the countries that ring the South China Sea. Did the region always seem destined for conflict, or did most seem to buy into China's "peaceful rise" sales pitch? 

It’s remarkable to me how little has changed in the fundamental terms of that dispute over the last two decades, despite today’s frenetic foreign press coverage of China’s new harder line. I open “Into the Field” by recounting a nearly three-month reporting swing I took through the South China Sea immediately after Handover in Hong Kong in 1997. With the help of friends in Manila, I managed to talk my way out to the Spratlys with a transport plane full of rifle-toting Filipino military men. It was starkly beautiful out there but blessedly little was going on, at least on the surface. Then as now, the billion- or maybe trillion-dollar question was the extent of resources that might rest on the sea floor. Such visions, part analysis, part ambitious national dreaming, will, I’d wager, continue to ratchet up tensions as China continues to rise, peacefully or not.

China is the clear center of attention for the financial press in Asia, but reporting long-term can create something like tunnel vision. Where in the region, if anywhere, do you see untapped economic potential on the level of a China or Japan?

That’s a good, tough question and journalists have a lousy track record when it comes to accurate prognostication, at least this one. I’d venture to say, however, that once investment and infrastructure gain even more traction in a place like India, China’s neighborhood becomes an even more competitive place. Add to that improvements in intra-regional trade and marketing ties between and among the countries of Southeast Asia and, barring the unfortunate and unforeseen, you have a recipe for sustained growth that will include China, perhaps be dominated by China, but will by no means rely on China alone.

In the mid-80's you were brought in from Tokyo to eventually serve as managing editor for Newsweek International. How did the view of Asia from NYC differ from your own when you returned?

It reminds you just how much times have changed. Back then America was focused on what was generally perceived as a Japanese economic juggernaut and the challenges posed by Japan’s ballooning trade advantages vis-à-vis the United States. Japan’s economic advance had energized a group of formidable “Japan-bashers” in business, government and the media that made the Japanese seem ten feet tall. The economic challenge was real enough but there was something else at work, too. By the end of the decade, the Soviet Union was into its final fizzle, and imploding, and America needed a new focus for its ambitions and anxieties, and Japan was “it.”

As time went on, of course, Japan proved a disappointing bogeyman. Its economy had bottomed out by the early 90s and lapsed into a marathon, years-long recession. China began to emerge as a new focus of concern. The 9/11 attacks and the aftermath shifted America’s central preoccupation to the war on terror, which may have deflected an even more intense focus on China as America’s new rival for superpower status. Today, of course,  bilateral relations with China have today become an intensely observed gauge of how and to what extent America will be able to maintain its pride of place in world leadership.

What we tried to do at Newsweek, back in the day, was to help provide readers with the context they could use to develop a clearer understanding of complications of U.S.-Japan relations—the historical, political and, I dare say, some of the psychological factors that not infrequently contributed to one of the two sides not really hearing what the other side was trying to say. Fast-forward 30 years, and the U.S. media faces a similar challenge in preparing Americans for China’s rise and how it will affect the way we live our lives and do business in this country.      

Freelance, especially in China, is the name of the game for many aspiring foreign correspondents these days. How did you make the jump from part-time to full-time reporting, and to what extent is the path you took still open to would-be journalists here?

My advice on that score never varies. As I say in my book, “Pick a part of the world you can fall in love with and plant yourself there for at least two years. Try your hand at freelancing. Teach English, tend bar, or give body modification classes—whatever it takes to ward off starvation. Meanwhile suck the place into your bones. Absorb its language and politics, its loves, hates, and idiosyncrasies, the alarming as well as the charming…. The place doesn’t have to love you back, at least not right away. But if doing journalism is your goal, make sure it’s somewhere the rest of the world wants to know about too.”

I think China admirably fills that bill. It’s both a place of endless fascination, big and small, and somewhere people who aren’t in China want and need to know about. In my case, in Japan, I used my freelance assignments to try to hone basic skills (and I had precisely none to start with), while I worked at the art of becoming pleasantly annoying until sources would agree to talk to me and somebody finally gave me a regular job. 

You want more economical related topic? Just visit Corliss Online Financial Mag ( http://corlissonlinegroup.com/blog ). Our site is a stock-market education website ( http://corlissonlinegroup.com ) designed to teach beginners how to trade shares. Follow us on Twitter @ https://twitter.com/CorlissGroupMag for more update.
Tracy Dahlby, former Tokyo bureau chief, National Geographic contributor and author of the new memoir Into the Field: A Foreign Correspondent's Notebook, looks back on a life of reporting on Asia. You got your start as a reporter for a financial newswire in Japan during the 70s, back when it was ...
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Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine: Trust Facebook for investing advice? Not Yet



Social media and financial advice aren’t such an easy match after all.

Sure, the initial attraction is obvious. With one stroke, advisers can woo clients with regular investment tips on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/corlissonlinefinancialmag) and Twitter(https://twitter.com/CorlissGroupMag), building an audience and drumming up business. Then, after establishing a rapport with their followers, they can follow up with one-on-one video conferencing to clients on Skype or FaceTime without leaving their screens.

But back up a minute.

Old-fashioned, face-to-face communication is still key, advisers say, even for those who use social media extensively. In-person meetings are a must to glean nuances about risk tolerance and financial needs that clients may not even realize about themselves, let alone be able to communicate. Worse, pat advice on Facebook and Twitter can run the risk of looking like a hot tip and other worthless advice littering some investment websites.

So, how best to proceed on social media? Here are some things to consider:

1. Set the right tone

Being on social media is about “being where the people are. It’s about being engaged, sincere, genuine and contributing something of value. And over time, you build relationships,” said Will Britton, a financial adviser in Kingston.

For him, social media is a place to begin a conversation. For instance, he hopes to open dialogues with his regular roundup of stories from financial media, acting as a mini news service for people following him on Twitter. By linking to these stories and affixing his Twitter tag, he’s effectively handing out electronic business cards to the world.

“My presence [on social media] is enough for people to know what I do professionally. There’s certainly some professional content (http://corlissonlinegroup.com/blog/), whether it’s sharing links to worthwhile articles or videos or stuff that I come across.”

It’s a faux pas, though, to look like someone selling something, he said.

“I try to stay away from overt marketing, A) because we get into compliance issues from an industry point of view, and B) I just don’t think that that’s what the people on those platforms want anyway. They’re looking for connections and conversations and engagement. They’re not looking for spam and ads and ‘Come buy this from me,’” he said.


2. Differentiate between public and private

Investment professionals need to draw a clear line between public and private, a line that’s not always clear in social media, nor in real life.

Take this easy scenario: a conversation at a children’s hockey game. In the stands, parents inevitably get to talking. Often the topic will turn to money and, sooner or later, an investment pro such as Mr. Britton will have to mention that he’s a financial adviser.

That’s when another parent may get serious and ask a direct question about the family’s finances. That’s when the informal conversation needs to stop and continue in private. It’s best to think of social media as a giant referral service for investment advisers, he said.

“I think a lot of the time, people definitely aren’t going to the Yellow Pages [to find advisers], and I don’t even know if they’re going to Google any more,” he said. “They are crowdsourcing that information. They’re going to their community, wherever it is, whether it’s online or off, and saying, ‘Hey, does anyone know a good financial planner?’”


3. Social media still isn’t seen as a replacement for traditional financial news sources

There’s skepticism surrounding social media as an information source in the investment community.

Institutional investors remain particularly wary, according to a global poll by communications network AMO conducted in January this year. Their survey of 105 institutional investors in 12 countries found that 85 per cent feel that social media sites are generally not reliable for financial news.

Yet, at the same time, they also indicate a future for it, with 82 per cent saying that social media is growing in importance in financial communications. Thirty-nine per cent of these are prone to looking at investment forums for work regularly or occasionally, and 28 per cent consult them under exceptional circumstances. LinkedIn was the most popular of the social media sites, with 59 per cent consulting it at some point, although a large 41-per-cent segment reported never using it professionally. About 46 per cent reported ever consulting Twitter professionally.

Similarly for retail investors, an online survey in August of 2013 for BMO InvestorLine found that social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, were still slow to be seen as reliable investment-news vehicles. Only a third of the 1,020 Canadian investors surveyed said they use social media for investment insights.

In comparison, 69 per cent of those investors surveyed said they found TV current events and business news trustworthy, and 55 per cent said the same for newspapers and magazines. So linking to more traditional news sources may still be a good habit for advisers online, rather than linking to blogs, forums or other social media.

All of this suggests that social media continues to make inroads, but it still has a way to go.


4. Organize online advising more effectively

Victor Godinho, a financial planner in Toronto and still in his early twenties, sees social media as perfectly suited to the 20- to 40-year-old crowd he caters to. Every Friday, he posts a financial tip on his social media sites, from Instagram and Facebook to Twitter and Pinterest. He has a client in Ottawa with whom he conferences on Skype.

Yet he adds that Skype and social media require a more effective use of time, rather than just chatting for an hour in his office. “You need to keep their attention [online], or you need to make sure they’re on the same page as you, considering you’re in two different locations.”

It’s a supplement to in-person meetings. “Every year when we do our annual review, we’ll meet in person,” he said, and “when you’re in-person, you’re inclined to talk more than just business.”

But for a video conference, advisers need to send clients documents ahead of time. Time onscreen needs to be managed more efficiently, and the meeting needs to move along at a faster speed. More pre-planning is required to make the meeting more effective. It requires a different communication skill, with a focus on not wasting time.

“If you can make that easier on your client, that’s the best thing you can do,” Mr. Godinho said.




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Corliss Group Online Financial Mag was formed because of the lack of stock-market-related websites that impart the steps required to begin trading safely; thus, our step-by-step guide to buying shares.
Financial advisers say social media not quite ready to usurp traditional sources for news and information
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Saving Money: Tips everyone in their 20s should know by Financial Tips Corliss Group Online Magazine

Financial advisers stress that there are several money lessons everyone in their 20s should know. For example, start saving at least 10 percent of your monthly income.

Changing your financial state requires a kind of time travel to commune with your future self. Where do you want to be in 10, 20 years? Are you on the right path, or heading in the wrong direction?

The time value of money—that is, how savings, investments and debt levels compound with the passing of years—means that money habits, good or bad, created when we start to earn cash echo into the decades that follow. And a whispered bit of wisdom up front can keep you from howling over your mistakes later in life.

We polled our NerdWallet network of Ask an Advisor certified financial planners about the greatest regrets and lessons you should learn in your 20s, 30s and 40s. Taken together, these could be considered 12 steps toward securing your financial future. And they all hinge on two keys skills we must learn—and often relearn—in our money lives: prepare and stick to a budget, and establish good savings habits.

We’ll address the 30s and 40s later this week, but first: your 20s.

“Understand that the world has changed. You will be more responsible for your financial future in regard to earning a living, retirement planning, funding and investing, health insurance coverage and costs and less coverage through government programs,” says Jerome Deutsch, managing director of U.S. Institutional Markets for Index Strategy Advisors in Decatur, Georgia.

“Learn, plan and live mindfully and with a long-term perspective. It may not sound like fun, but you have a long life ahead of you.”

Pay yourself first

Save at least 10 percent of your monthly income. “The earlier you start this, the easier it becomes,” says Michael Keeler, president of GFS & Association in Las Vegas. “If you can learn to live without 10 percent of your income, you’ll do great in retirement.”

Use the savings to set aside the  equivalent of six months’ gross income. “This money shouldn’t be subject to market whims and shouldn’t have the goal of making a lot of interest,” says Larry R. Frank Sr. of Better Financial Education. “The objective is to develop the war chest for unexpected expenses and to develop the habit of keeping your standard of living within your means”—to spend less than you earn.

After you’ve built your emergency fund, focus on paying down debts or begin to invest.

“Student loan debt comes next,” says Sara I. Seasholtz, president of Preferred Financial Strategies in Mooresville, North Carolina. “Then they should participate in the 401(k) where they work and contribute whatever is necessary to get the match from their employer. This figure seems to be 6 percent in most cases.”

Don’t go crazy with credit

Live within your means and resist the new spending power that comes with having income and a few credit cards. Otherwise you will spend your 30s paying for your 20s—and your future self will hate you for it.

“My number one piece of advice for those in their 20s is—beware of debt and credit! So many of us have made the mistake of bankrolling our 20s with credit cards, and spent our 30s digging ourselves out,” says Carrie Houchins-Witt, owner of Carrie Houchins-Witt Tax and Financial Services.

“As tempting as going out and buying that new car may be, I would advise against it. Now is the time to start building up emergency funds and a strong foundation to invest in assets that appreciate,” says Jeremy S. Office, principal of Maclendon Wealth Management in Delray Beach, Florida. “The pleasure of not having debt or paying it down will last much longer than that new car or luxury item.”

Marriage? Think again

The heart rules, but if the head were in charge you wouldn’t think of marrying in your 20s. Why? Roughly half of all Americans get divorced in their lifetime, true, but those who marry before the age of 30 are especially likely to.

In 2012, 80.6 percent of all American women who had a divorce and 72.8 percent of all men were below the age of 30 when they married. “I started family before settling in on long-term career plans [and that] made it difficult to transition back to career later after 10 years and divorce,” says Jean Schwarz, managing director of Lumina Financial Consultants in Vienna, Virginia.

“Experience shows [that] all of us change so much between 20 and 30. Looking back, we wouldn’t recognize or want to be ourselves at 23-to-25 when we are 30,” adds Seasholtz. “To be a good mate and partner one needs to know themselves well. They need to be established and have some successes in life.”

Maybe settle for a long engagement.

Know and build your FICO score

Your FICO score is a measure of your creditworthiness, and is based on your payment history, credit utilization and length of credit history, with scores ranging from 300 to 850.

Tracy Becker, president of North Shore Advisory Inc., a national credit repair company, cites an example when suggesting  how to building a strong credit rating in your 20s: First, have your parents add you as an authorized user to one of their credit cards. Then open a secured credit card, which usually requires a cash deposit roughly equivalent to your credit line. Six months later, the woman in the example had a FICO score of 660.

“The reason her score was this high without much credit is due to her Mom’s old Visa card being reported. The Visa card aged her average age of credit substantially, giving her extra points,” Becker says.

This opens the door for future credit lines and securing bank loans when you want to buy a house. Key, of course, is keeping your balance low and paying on time.

Ultimately, you are young and you have time to make mistakes and recover. But you’ll be far better off if you get off to a good start now.

“I never considered the impact that waiting to build savings and investments would have on my long-term financial security,” Schwarz says. “I didn’t think about time value of money until my mid-30s.”

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Financial advisers stress that there are several money lessons everyone in their 20s should know. For example, start saving at least 10 percent of your monthly income.
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Global Economy to Grow Less Than Expected by Financial Blog Corliss Group


By Maria Gallucci - Global economic growth is expected to dip this year, following the fiercely cold winter that plagued the United States and turbulence in Ukraine and the world’s financial markets.

The World Bank on Tuesday said it reduced its global growth forecast to 2.8 percent this year, down from a January projection of 3.2 percent, Bloomberg News reported.

The U.S. forecast was cut to 2.1 percent from 2.8 percent, and outlooks for Brazil, Russia, India and China also fell -- a sign that emerging economies aren’t moving fast enough or investing sufficiently in domestic structural reforms, which are needed to accelerate economic expansion, according to the Washington-based institution. It recommended smaller budget deficits, higher interest rates and productivity-boosting measures to stave off future financial unrest, Bloomberg said.

The growth setbacks, however, might be short-lived. The 2015 projection for global economic growth held steady at 3.4 percent, Bloomberg noted, and growth is expected to regain speed this year despite earlier weaknesses, the World Bank said in its Global Economic Prospects report.

"The financial health of economies has improved. ... But we are not totally out of the woods yet," Kaushik Basu, the lender's chief economist, said. "A gradual tightening of fiscal policy and structural reforms are desirable to restore fiscal space depleted by the 2008 financial crisis. In brief, now is the time to prepare for the next crisis."

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Financial Blog Corliss Group Economic growth to accelerate around the world


The World Bank's most recent Global Economic Prospects (GEP) report, released this week, says a global economic recovery is underway, underpinned by strengthening output and demand in high-income countries.

Global GDP growth in 2014 will be 2.8 percent and it is expected to rise to about 4.2 percent by 2016, according to the report, which the World Bank publishes twice a year.

Average GDP growth in developing countries has reached 4.8 percent in 2014, faster than in high-income countries but slower than in the boom period before the global financial and economic crisis of 2008.

Demand side stimulus or supply side reforms?

The global economic slowdown that struck in 2008 was caused by a financial crisis that resulted in large part from the bursting of an enormous, fraud-ridden mortgage lending bubble in the US.

The crisis led to varying responses in different countries. The GEP report's authors said that in general, developing countries privileged demand stimulus policies over structural reforms during the past several years.

For example, in 2008 to 2009, China implemented a four trillion-renminbi ($586 billion) stimulus program as a direct response to the slowdown in global trade caused by the global financial crisis.

Critics pointed to over-investment in China as a risk to continued fast growth. The country is now struggling to contain a real estate bubble of its own.

The World Bank wants China and other emerging countries to refocus on structural reforms.

"A gradual tightening of fiscal policy and structural reforms are desirable to restore fiscal space depleted by the 2008 financial crisis," the bank's chief economist, Kaushik Basu, has said. "In brief, now is the time to prepare for the next crisis."

The World Bank's mantra: Fiscal discipline and structural reforms

Yet the World Bank is well known for nearly always prescribing fiscal "tightening" - or cutbacks to government expenditures - and "structural reforms."

What is the rationale for public expenditure cutbacks? And what does the World Bank mean by "structural reforms?"

The World Bank consistently urges policymakers to prevent annual deficits from growing faster than the rate of GDP growth. Rising debt-to-GDP ratios mean that an increasing share of the public budget is devoted to servicing debt, leaving proportionately less money available to pay for government-provided infrastructure and services.

However, sometimes countries fall into recession when households, in aggregate, attempt to pay back previously incurred debt faster than they take up new debt. In the jargon of economists, this is called "deleveraging."

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The World Bank's latest Global Economic Prospects report says global economic growth will rise in the next two years, yet it recommends public budget cutbacks and structural reforms. Deutsche Welle examines why.
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Financial Blog Corliss Group: 3 Financial Tips for Engaged Couples

Planning a wedding comes with excitement -- not to mention arguments and compromise. Many couples spend a lot of time securing the right caterer, venue, and honeymoon location. But merging two people's finances is no small feat, either, and it's even more important to plan how they will handle money together after the honeymoon is over.

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By implementing these three financial tips, you'll keep the marital arguments to a minimum and the newlywed bliss alive and well.

1. Honestly discuss your financial pasts
The goal of this discussion is to truthfully disclose everything. Tell your significant other about your income, assets, and all of your debts. This is the time to air your financial secrets; it shouldn't be a lecture about whose money management methods are better.

Use these conversations to listen without judgment and learn more about your spouse-to-be. No decisions have to be made about how to handle any of these issues. First, it's most important to disclose your past, understand your partner's, and open up the lines of communication.

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2. Talk about what type of person you are when it comes to money
It's likely that one person is a spender, the other a saver. These "permitter" and "restrictor" archetypes will appear hundreds, maybe thousands, of times over the course of your marriage. But for a much more harmonious union, both partners will have to compromise when it comes to money matters. Through that compromise you'll be able to develop a game plan for how much to save, how much to spend, and how much to contribute toward goals like traveling, buying a home, and securing your retirements.

3. Craft your road map
Talk about your financial goals. Discuss how you'll construct, manage, and monitor your household budget. Determine whether you want to commingle your assets and incomes or keep them separate. Many couples choose to keep individual accounts and create one joint account for shared household expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries. Other couples commingle all of their income and have separate "fun money" accounts where they receive a certain monthly "allowance" -- say, $100 per month, to save or spend however they'd like.

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Consider a prenuptial agreement, especially if one partner comes to the marriage with significant assets or debts. Even though this can be an awkward discussion to have with your betrothed, a mutually agreed-upon plan will quash any misunderstandings or nasty situations later on. Draft the agreement, sign it, put it away, and hope you never need to use it.

Congratulations are in order
Having these conversations before you walk down the aisle will make life much easier once you're married. So carve out the time to focus on your finances now. It certainly isn't as exciting as planning your honeymoon, but your marriage will be much better off for it.

Your credit card may soon be completely worthless
The plastic in your wallet is about to go the way of the typewriter, the VCR, and the 8-track tape player. When it does, a handful of investors could stand to get very rich. You can join them -- but you must act now. An eye-opening new presentation reveals the full story on why your credit card is about to be worthless -- and highlights one little-known company sitting at the epicenter of an earth-shaking movement that could hand early investors the kind of profits we haven't seen since the dot-com days.

By Nicole Seghetti
This article is from The Motley Fool
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Nike Polster

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Financial Blog Corliss Group - Here’s a tip: rubbish can be a dirty word

Call him Matt Black, which is not his real name. He looks like a clean-cut junior executive, but he has a dirty little secret.

These days Black is a regular lilywhite. He’s a husband and father and hides behind a glossy front: clean finger nails, Hollywood teeth, $40 haircut, mauve business shirts with matching ties.

It’s rumoured he has a Golden Retriever (not actual dog breed), test-drives Volvo station wagons on Sundays and is saving to send his pair of short Blacks (Jett and Koko) to the private school he went to himself.

But he wasn’t always such a cleanskin. He has hinted he used to “work in recycling management” but it’s odds-on his partner Ebony has no idea what that really means.

The truth is that the young Black was a teenage “tip rat” and lived with other tearaways who furnished their grubby share house with stuff hoisted from the Reservoir tip … including the fridge. Worse, they defrauded honest ratepayers by “recycling” goods straight into the boot and selling them for cash on the black market.

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These scavengers justified the tip-skimming rort by claiming it paid for their education. In fact, they spent most of it on beer, bourbon and home-delivered pizza. “The rest we just wasted,” Black admits.

He eventually got out and went legit. Black is now just a media middle-management type with a shady past he hopes won’t come back to spoil a shiny future. But his story is disturbingly common: Many outwardly normal men are powerfully tempted to collect other people’s cast-offs.

“Even now,” Black confesses shamefacedly, “sometimes I bring home more than I take to the tip.”

At least he regrets a misspent youth as a junk junkie. Some never kick the habit and are drawn steadily deeper into the garbage caper’s rotten core. And clean-living folks are fascinated by dirty work on the dark side. Art imitates life — it’s no coincidence that everyone in Tony Soprano’s family claims he is in the “waste disposal business”.

Like abattoirs, knackeries and motor wreckers, bins can hide a multitude of sins. And tips are literally the pits — huge open cuts, filled to overflowing with the refuse of a throwaway society.

This separately brings us to the smell hanging over Bulla, right on Melbourne’s doorstep on the road past the airport.

Locals are kicking up a stink because the tip has one. A group of residents has got together to tackle the effects of what they see as a blight on the neighbourhood.

What was once a huge quarry is now filled to the brim with garbage — which legally includes asbestos, let alone any other noxious substances that might have been dumped there in the past.

Anyone who drives through Bulla will know the spot by smell and sight.

As an angry local writes on behalf of a posse of residents: “The tip … is an eyesore passed daily by thousands of commuters travelling to the airport and city from Sunbury, Diggers Rest, Gisborne, Lancefield, Romsey, Macedon and beyond.

“Of greatest concern to motorists are the dust clouds that blow out of the asbestos dump and the litter and mud strewn across the busy road. Does the dust contain asbestos particles? Are thousands of motorists being exposed as they drive past with vents open or windows down? Who knows? Who cares? Certainly not Hume City Council.”

The anti-tip people say the tip emits “nauseating odours” and thousands of pieces of litter, exceeds its legal height and generally shows an unhealthy disregard for the “health, amenity and wellbeing” of those nearby.

Now they are outraged because the council has just granted a permit extension to extend the tip’s life by two years. Apparently the council (and the Environment Protection Authority) believes the tip owners’ assurances they can “pulverise” the garbage and jam it into a smaller space so they can fit more in.

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No one wants a tip in their backyard but some people want to own one. “Where there’s muck there’s brass,” the saying goes. As with nightclubs and massage parlours, some people see a huge potential for profit in businesses that straitlaced folk avoid.

The people who run Bulla tip are an interesting lot, especially to those who live nearby. So interesting that last year the Australian Securities and Investment Commission deregistered Bulla Tip and Quarry Pty Ltd.

Certain identities associated with the company had previously been investigated over allegations of money laundering and fraud.

The tip operation was also examined by the Senate Inquiry into Liquidators and Administrators in 2010.

The tip is now operated by Bulla Quarry Developments, which just happens to be another company with ties to the previous owner. This might not be a coincidence.

In December 2007 diners at Melbourne’s Society restaurant pretended not to overhear a testy meeting between “Mick” Gatto and his financial adviser Tom Karas and share trader Leo “The Gun” Khouri.

Khouri accused Karas of costing him “$2 million” in a deal involving the purchase of the Bulla tip. Khouri later dismissed the confrontation with Karas over the tip deal as a misunderstanding — and Karas said the deal also left him out of pocket at least $100,000.

It was just one deal of several that led authorities to investigate an official liquidator that had brought in a company to manage the tip.

One man connected with that company was described at the time as a “Sydney bikie” and had earlier been named in court as an associate of so-called Sydney “boss” Karl “The Godfather” Bonnette.

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Not everyone at Bulla is reassured by this. One of many gripes is that a fire has been burning non-stop in the tip for more than 15 years.

The Bulla CFA can’t get keys to the tip from the management and is so angry about it that firefighters recently called in special cutting gear to cut the hardened lock.

Whatever it is that goes on at the tip, someone doesn’t want outsiders wandering around in there.

The council says the Environment Protection Authority has the authority to police the site but the EPA shrugs it off, saying tips have to go somewhere. Meanwhile, the tip produces licence fees for both the council and the EPA.

Something stinks at the Bulla tip but the unspoken policy seems to be “Nothing to see here, folks, so move right along”.

As for Matt Black, I’ll be seeing him at the next meeting of Tip Scavengers Anonymous. It’s our dirty little secret.
CALL him Matt Black, which is not his real name. He looks like a clean-cut junior executive, but he has a dirty little secret.
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Gerald Hussen
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Financial Blog Corliss Group|The Motley Fool: Every Sunday, Useful Tips on Investing

Q: What’s a leveraged buyout?

A: A leveraged buyout (LBO) is when a company is bought out by another entity (or entities), using a lot of debt.

Private-equity investors are typically involved, borrowing gobs of money without using much of their own, and often using the acquiree’s assets as collateral. 

The acquired company is generally taken private (i.e., it will not trade publicly on the stock market), only to go public again after some changes have been made (such as layoffs, the selling of assets, or dividend increases or decreases).

While some LBOs are executed by members of management, others are hostile, executed by outsiders and not welcomed by their targets.

Many LBOs don’t end well for the company or its shareholders (there are substantial interest payments due, after all), though the acquirers often do well. 

Q: What’s a golden parachute?

A: A golden parachute is when a company gives a hefty payout to a departing CEO or top executive.

It’s often required via a clause in the exec’s contract, and can be triggered if the company is sold or the exec is dismissed.

Many are quite generous and might even seem reasonable given the performance of the executive and the company.

But others are rather outlandish, and sometimes go to folks who haven’t done stellar jobs or been in their positions long.

A classic example is Bob Nardelli, who left Home Depot after an unimpressive six years with a reward that topped $200 million.

Golden parachutes can involve a large cash payout, a generous severance package, stock options and all kinds of perks, such as continued travel allowances, health-care coverage and more.

As you might imagine, shareholders don’t love golden parachutes.

Dear Fool: A certain stock I owned in the mid-1990s spent much of a year bouncing between $23 and $31 per share, while not paying any dividends.

My mutual-fund representative said that I should sell the stock and buy more of a mutual fund I was invested in — which he, conveniently, sold. I did, and shortly after, the stock started climbing, hitting $100 within about two years.

That advice cost me $8,000, but the guy made his 5 percent commission.

The Fool responds: Ouch. There are lots of lessons here, such as how important patience can be for investors.

If you still believed in the company’s long-term growth prospects and found it to be healthy, hanging on would have been reasonable. Even the best stocks can falter for a while.

The commission you paid is a reminder that many financial professionals have conflicts of interest and may not be serving you well.

It’s worth asking an advice giver how he’s compensated and if he will reap a commission. 

Try to research investment options on your own and make your own decisions. Put your money in your best, most promising ideas.

Your parents and grandparents may have invested in General Electric (NYSE: GE), and you should consider it, too.

For starters, it offers a dividend that recently yielded 3.3 percent, and it has paid a dividend every quarter since 1899.

General Electric’s operational diversification and its ability to adapt to changing times have kept it going over many decades.

It’s a huge conglomerate, offering turbines, light bulbs, medical-imaging equipment, locomotives, home appliances, financial services, jet engines and much more.

It’s spinning off its retail-finance business and becoming more of an energy company, with oil and gas now its fourth-largest revenue generator. Its industrial businesses are gaining momentum.

In late April, General Electric offered about $13 billion for the power business of French industrial giant Alstom.

With its whopping order backlog of $245 billion, General Electric has a promising future.

It can be hard for such a huge company to be nimble, but it has been thinking outside the box, investing in alternative energies such as wind power, partnering with smaller companies on new technologies, and sponsoring competitions to develop innovative solutions.

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