PM's wrong policies responsible for financial crisis: BJP - Daily News and Analysis PM's wrong policies responsible for financial crisis: BJP - Daily News and Analysis

Saturday, May 19, 2012

PM's wrong policies responsible for financial crisis: BJP - Daily News and Analysis

PM's wrong policies responsible for financial crisis: BJP - Daily News and Analysis

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The financial crisis in the country was the result of wrong policies of Manmohan Singh government, the BJP alleged in Mumbai on Saturday. Stating that Dr Singh's economics was not working for the country, MP and BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain alleged ...

Financial cuts looming for Ga. Perimeter College - Gwinnett Daily Post

ATLANTA (AP) — The new leader of Georgia Perimeter College says he wants to have a rough plan to close a massive financial deficit by next week.

Interim President Rob Watts is working to find ways to bridge what could be a $25 million deficit by next year.

Watts told the college's faculty and staff during a Friday meeting that the school must protect teaching programs for its 27,000 students. But some reports are saying that Watts said that 90 percent of the college's budget is spent on personnel.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby disclosed the shortfall earlier this month and announced that the college's previous president, Anthony Tricoli, had stepped down. Watts said prosecutors are reviewing the situation because of allegations of fraud.

Stifel Financial Earnings Hindsight: Down 13.0% in Last 10 Days (SF) - Financial News Network Online

When Stifel Financial (NYSE:SF) reported earnings a week ago on May 9th, 2012, analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of $0.54 on sales of $382.2 million. Stifel Financial actually reported earnings of $0.55 per share on sales of $409.3 million, beating EPS estimates by $0.02 and beating revenue estimates by $27.2 million. Since the company's report, shares of Stifel Financial have fallen from $35.89 to $31.21, representing a loss of 13.0% in the past 10 days.

There is potential upside of 28.7% for shares of Stifel Financial based on a current price of $31.21 and an average consensus analyst price target of $40.17. Stifel Financial shares should first meet resistance at the 200-day moving average (MA) of $32.84 and find additional resistance at the 50-day MA of $36.34.

Stifel Financial share prices have moved between a 52-week high of $40.57 and a 52-week low of $23.09 and closed Thursday at 35% above that low price at $31.21 per share. In the last five trading sessions, the 50-day moving average (MA) has fallen 0.8% while the 200-day MA has slid 0.4%.

Stifel Financial Corp. is a financial services holding company whose subsidiaries provide general securities brokerage, investment banking, and money management. The Company operates locations primarily in the Midwest United States.

Broadridge Financial Solutions Earnings In Retrospect: Down 7.3% in the Last 11 Days (BR) - Financial News Network Online

A week ago on May 8th, 2012 Broadridge Financial Solutions (NYSE:BR) reported earnings and analysts, on average, expected earnings of $0.25 on sales of $564.0 million. The company actually reported EPS of $0.28 on sales of $547.0 million, beating EPS estimates by $0.03 and missing revenue estimates by $17.0 million. Shares of Broadridge Financial Solutions have slipped from $21.85 to $20.25, representing a loss of 7.3%, since the company reported earnings 11 days ago.

Over the past year, Broadridge Financial Solutions has traded in a range of $19.01 to $24.94 and closed Thursday at $20.25, 7% above that low. Over the last five market days, the 200-day moving average (MA) has gone down 0.2% while the 50-day MA has declined 1.3%.

Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc. provides technology-based outsourcing solutions to the financial services industry. The Company offers a broad range of solutions that help clients serve their retail and institutional customers across the entire investment lifecycle, including pre-trade, trade, and post-trade processing.

Broadridge Financial Solutions (NYSE:BR) has potential upside of 22.5% based on a current price of $20.25 and analysts' consensus price target of $24.80. The stock should run into initial resistance at its 200-day moving average (MA) of $22.38 and subsequent resistance at its 50-day MA of $23.13.

Biased financial advice is shockingly common, but investors don't take the unbiased stuff - Oregonian
In recent decades, research has shown what Wall Street's known all along: We are hazards to our own financial health.

We overestimate our abilities or chase the hottest trend. We fall prey to inaction, procrastination and information overload. Losses hurt a lot more than gains soothe.

Now, a flurry of research has emerged in the U.S. and Europe looking at whether financial advisers can help us overcome these pitfalls.

The results are not encouraging.

Advisers who get paid for the products they sell tend to harm their clients' portfolios, two studies suggest. These advisers appear to make our biases worse.

Unbiased financial advice exists. But investors who need it most don't seek it, a third study shows. Investors who do rarely follow it. And those who do follow it need the advice the least.

I'm not sure what to say about all this other than it's time we all woke up. Regulators, employers and advisers can do more to protect our savings from biased money managers. But a whole lot of our success hinges on us.

How bad is general financial advice? Fairly bad and widely available, according to a study published in March by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

In the study, researchers from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology sent secret shoppers to nearly 300 financial professionals around Boston. These trained financial auditors pretended to seek help improving their retirement portfolios.

Some of the mostly female shoppers told the advisers they wanted to invest in the best-performing funds. Others walked in with one-third of their investments in their own employer's stock, another no-no.

A third group already held a portfolio of well-diversified, low-cost index funds, which research consistently shows to be the best way for average consumers to save for retirement.

The study doesn't reveal where the advisers were employed other than to say banks, retail investment firms and independent shops. Most were paid on commission based on the fees and volumes they generate.

Initially, many advisers praised the shoppers' portfolios, possibly to butter them up. But when they made recommendations, they favored funds with higher fees and commissions. In only 21 cases, about 7.5 percent of the time, did the advisers suggest index funds.

Worse, 85 percent of the shoppers with efficient, low-cost, passively managed investments were discouraged by the adviser from continuing with the strategy. Most were steered into higher-cost, actively managed funds. This was particularly true if the client was wealthy, where the fee income that would be generated for the firm would be higher.

"Our evidence suggests that advisers' self-interest plays an important role in providing advice that is not in the best interests of their clients," the authors wrote, adding that "the market for advice works very imperfectly."

A 2009 study of German advisers found similar results.

Researchers from Goethe University got access to the performance of 37,000 investment accounts at a commercial bank and a brokerage. They compared the results of investors who made their choices with those who relied on advisers.

Advised clients had significantly lower annual returns: 8 percent versus 13 percent for those who invested on their own. They also owned riskier investments. And they traded more often, which generates more income for advisers and their employers but lower overall returns.

"Our findings imply that many financial advisers end up collecting more in fees and commissions than any monetary value they add to the account," the authors wrote.

Surprisingly, those who relied on advisers were more likely to be richer, older, more experienced, self-employed, female investors rather than poorer, younger, inexperienced and male ones.

That led authors to liken these advisers to baby sitters.

Baby sitters, they said, are hired by well-to-do parents to perform a service parents can do better. They charge for it. But a child's achievement is not boosted by baby sitters.

The investors, the authors concluded, were experienced but inattentive and failed to effectively monitor advisers and the outcome of their activities.

It's buyer beware, right? If we'd just seek out financial advisers or planners who take no commissions -- or turn a nanny cam on those who do -- we'd be able to retire early.

Unfortunately, many of us seem both ignorant of these conflicts or eager to peer past them.

Remember those mystery Harvard/MIT shoppers? They expressed willingness to go back, with their own money, to nearly 70 percent of the advisers they visited, researchers found.

And if investors aren't ignoring what they see, they seem tone-deaf to unbiased advice, if they seek it at all.

Don't believe me? Get a load of this study, published in January in Oxford University's The Review of Financial Studies.

Researchers worked with one of Germany's largest brokerages in 2009 to offer 8,200 customers free advice for their self-directed portfolios. A computer program would produce the recommendations, with no commissions or other incentives tied to them.

All, it turns out, could've used some help. The customers' returns, on average, significantly underperformed benchmark indexes.

Still, only 385 customers took advantage of the free offer. Of those, 260 failed to follow the advice. The 125 who did take the advice didn't follow it very closely, and no one followed it perfectly.

And the 385 who accepted the offer were less likely to need advice. They were older, wealthier and more financially sophisticated than those who spurned it.

Had they followed the advice, their investments would have gained nearly 25 percent in the following six months, researchers found. Instead, those who made some changes logged, on average, a 21 percent gain. Those who made none gained 18 percent. Those who didn't participate gained 17 percent.

Perhaps as important, the recommended portfolios would have been much less volatile, or risky. That's a characteristic that gives investors more peace of mind.

When I asked this of the study's lead-author, Utpal Bhattacharya, an associate professor of finance at Indiana University, he spoke bluntly: "I don't know that I can say anything positive."

Bottom line, he said, the government's efforts to regulate biased advisers aren't enough. We need to better educate consumers, too, to rid them of their biases.

Some of Bhattacharya's colleagues in Germany are now researching the best ways to get investors to follow good financial advice.

Let's hope they come up with something.

Until then, it's time we bucked Wall Street and examined our own behavior. What kind of advice are we getting? How do we know it's good? Are we willing to seek out, and pay, for unbiased advice? Will we follow it?

-- Brent Hunsberger welcomes questions about his column or blog. Reach him at 503-221-8359. Follow It's Only Money on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.

Simple financial help for insuring your home - Surrey Leader

A recent Ernst & Young survey of 24,000 policy holders found price to be an important consideration for homeowners when deciding which insurance package to buy. Other factors are brand, product features, access to information and personal interaction with their insurance broker, to name a few. Ultimately, the choice you make for your home insurance has to factor in all these considerations as well as your personal situation. That way you can ensure your coverage comes at a cost you can afford and also delivers value by meeting your needs.

Below is some simple financial help to guide you through the decision-making process, whether you rent a one-bedroom pad or own a sprawling mansion.

Get the best coverage for you

All insurance plans are not created equal. Your focus should be on getting the best coverage for you.

You may opt for a “comprehensive” plan, for example. This provides the widest ranging coverage possible by insuring both the building and contents from all risks, except those specifically excluded. While premiums may be higher, it provides the most peace of mind. On the other hand, “basic” coverage insures the homeowner only against “named perils” indicated in the policy – that means you have to ensure every type of damage you want coverage for is specifically identified. This allows you to reduce your premium by carrying the financial risks of some losses yourself.

When choosing a coverage plan, pay particular attention to extensions of coverage. These are the little extras insurers add to their policies to differentiate them from the competition. They often provide the latest, no-cost add-ons to a policy and may include identity theft insurance or coverage of the personal property of family members who are away from home, including seniors residing in an assisted-living or retirement facility.

Regardless of the plan you chose, earthquake insurance is a vital component of complete property insurance coverage, since we live in a seismically active region. In fact, many lenders require this before they’ll give you a mortgage.

Take advantage of ways to save

Insurance plans and costs can vary widely, so do your research. Talk to a few brokers and get quotes so you can compare premium costs. There are various ways to reduce your insurance payments. For example, insurers save administrative costs by bundling several products into a comprehensive plan and then pass on these savings to customers. Generally, these comprehensive bundles cover building, personal property and liability insurance, reducing any potential gaps in coverage. Also, a bundle package policy with one provider simplifies the claims handling and ensures there is only one deductible per claim.

Chatting with your insurance broker is key to getting all possible discounts. For example, you may be able to negotiate a premium discount if you’ve had a claims-free track record; if your home is new; if you are mortgage-free; or if you can show added security such as alarm systems or a neighbourhood watch program. Mature citizens may also receive a discount. And of course, you can save on premiums costs by increasing your deductible, but use this wisely to ensure you don’t carry a heavier financial burden than you can reasonably manage.

Be careful to do it right

Your property insurance policy is a legally-binding contract based on your statements and representations. Take the time to understand it and ensure the information provided is accurate. Be clear about what’s covered in your policy and what isn’t. Is your grandmother’s porcelain tea cup collection covered? What about your rare African masks and Louis XVI boudoir? Ask as many questions as you need to ensure items that are important to you are not missed. Equally, be sure you have a firm understanding of which items have special payment limits. These can include stamp collections, bicycles and jewelry. You should also find out what hazards your property isn’t insured against, which may include flooding or vacancy.

To avoid surprises, make sure you accurately declare the description, ownership, occupancy and any non-residential use of the property, such as incidental business activity. For example, if your mother is on the title, it’s wise to include her in the insurance policy so that she’s covered in any potential legal action regarding the use or ownership of the property.

It’s important to work with a good broker who can help you dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s of the insurance process. A good broker will take the time to listen to your needs and educate you on the products available. You may also want to ask your broker about their track record for responding to claims in a timely fashion – you hope you never need to file a claim but if you do, you want to be sure it will be processed in a prompt and professional manner.

Kathy McGarrigle is chief operating officer for Coast Capital Savings.


Why Social Learning Benefits Your Business -

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Classroom training isn’t dead, but it also isn’t the answer for every training need. Social tools are changing the game when it comes to employee learning. Organizations can create collaborative workplaces where employees can learn from each other instead of only learning in a formal setting or from the proverbial “company expert.”

For training programs to be effective, companies must use the right methods and medium for their training sessions and their audience. Given the popularity of social media, it only seems logical to explore how social media tools can have a positive impact on the learning experience.

What It Means

Tony Bingham, president and CEO of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), defines social learning as “learning that happens outside a formal structure or classroom and is really the way people have always learned from each other. Social learning centers on information sharing, collaboration and co-creation.”

While the practice of social learning has been around for ages, we need a better definition of it for today’s workplace. Most of us have a vision for what formal classroom training looks like, so here’s one way to view the basic difference between informal learning and social learning:

  • Informal learning is a term used to describe anything not learned in a formal program or class. It can take place within groups or alone using activities such as reading or search.
  • Social learning is learning with and from others. It happens at conferences, cafes or online — with or without social media tools.

In the book Social Media at Work, written by Arthur L. Jue, Jackie Alcalde Marr and Mary Ellen Kassotakis, the authors share case studies of companies using social and informal learning for business success. For example, Oracle uses a key tool called Connect to give employees the information they need at the moment they need it. The tool is about more than just answering questions -– it’s teaching people how to make smart decisions about the business.

One thing is certain about social learning: It’s not a replacement for traditional classroom training. “There will always be some kinds of training that must be done in a classroom setting because of the requirements of the training or skill mastery demands,” Bingham explains. “Examples include certification, compliance, and deep learning -– this is happening in the classroom.”

Social Learning Benefits

Surveys of CEOs continue to report that recruiting and developing talent are their top concerns. In addition, ASTD Research notes that by 2020, nearly half (46%) of all U.S. workers will be Millennials.

Organizations have to gain an understanding of how a new generation of workers likes to learn, how they use technology and their preferred means of communication. This will be essential in creating training curriculum, development programs and succession plans.

Bingham says it’s possible to calculate the return on social learning, but it’s not the traditional return-on-investment (ROI) formula: “It requires alignment to what’s important to the organization, and often that includes retaining institutional knowledge, solving complex problems collaboratively and attracting people to your organization.”

Maria Ogneva, director of community at Yammer, says, “If your goal is to increase customer satisfaction, perhaps the impact metric you are looking for is the increase of speed of a response to a customer, and how collaboration helps you do that. For any social effort to be successful, it has to tie to a business objective.”

Barriers to Social Learning

Business leaders need to realize that employees are already using social tools -– whether it’s approved or not. Instead of prohibiting the use of social media, savvy business leaders should harness its power to drive business results. Bingham notes, “It’s important to make the distinction between a management problem and a technology problem. Most often, problems that occur with the use of social media are management problems.”

Bingham adds that he sees a concern that the use of social media tools may compromise proprietary informaion, or that issues related to intellectual property, company secrets or business strategy may be divulged by a workforce given social media tools. His recommendation?

“Organizations should have an intellectual property policy in place that outlines clear expectations -– and consequences for inappropriate activity. This policy should consider the multitude of possibilities for the use of an organization’s intellectual property.”

Once guidelines are in place, clearly communicate those throughout the entire organization. The goal isn’t to create obstacles to learning but a respectful, effective means to using social tools.

Implementing Social Learning within Your Organization

Before rolling-out a social learning strategy, take a good look at your company culture. Determine if the company is ready to incorporate social learning into its training and development strategy. Adding social just because it sounds cool isn’t productive for the workforce.

Any time a company is testing the new territory, it’s beneficial to start small. Find a program or an initiative that would be well-served by employing social technologies and let the people involved with it experiment and find what works. “Social learning has an organic nature to it, it can’t be forced,” Bingham says.

After using a new technology, evaluate the success of the program. Get feedback on three levels:

  • From the participants who used the social tool. How did it help or hinder the learning experience?
  • From the administrators of the social tool. Was it easy or difficult to use, explain to others and get participant involvement?
  • From the management team. What was their perception of the results gained from using a social tool within their work teams?

This feedback will help refine the best social learning methods to incorporate for future activities.

Social media platforms will continue to develop and evolve. More and more individuals will start using them for their personal brands and professional lives. Employees will demand simplicity and expect workplace training to incorporate the tools they use on a regular basis.

Would you like to see more social in your training programs? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

More Small Business Resources From OPEN Forum:

- Should Small Businesses Follow Everyone Back on Twitter?
- Are You Falling into the Pricing Trap?
- How to Take Your PR Pitches to the Next Level

Sweepstakes business continues to operate - Boston Herald

SEABROOK -- Despite a cease and desist order, 3D Business Center, whose owner is alleged to be running a sweepstakes gambling parlor on New Zealand Road, was still in operation yesterday.

Building and Code Enforcement officer Paul Garand on Tuesday ordered the company at 14 New Zealand Road to stop any gambling activities not because they were illegal, but because they violated the terms of the Planning Board’s approval for the site. In November, the Planning Board approved a business center, fax, photocopy and Internet center at the property,

Garand said yesterday he has been back to inspect the company after it reopened.

"The town is aware of the situation, and it’s in the hands of our attorney," he said.

According to Garand, neither company owner Cindy Loring of Revere nor her attorney, Mark Puffer, have contacted the town in writing to appeal the cease and desist order since it was served.

Under the order, Loring must reapply to the Planning Board for a "change of use" approval to continue running the sweepstakes at the location.

The cease and desist order was issued following Garand’s inspection of the business, during which he found evidence it was being used as a cafe and for sweepstakes gambling. The inspection found 60 sweepstakes gambling machines on site.

The order allows for all lawful activities consistent with the Planning Board’s approval to continue at the site. But failure to take corrective action on any alleged nonlicensed activity will result in the initiation of legal proceedings, the order says. Fines of up to $275 a day are possible.

Town Manager Barry Brenner has said the town is not opposed to gambling in general. The town has actually testified in favor of state legislation that would legalize casino gambling and bring a casino with slot machines to Yankee Greyhound Park in Seabrook. Officials said they see legalizing casino gambling as a way to generate local jobs, as well as augment state and local revenues and possibly lower taxes.

The issue at 3D Business Center involves a code violation, Brenner said. He said the Planning Board was told the company was a business center and not what many term a "slot-machine parlor."

Seabrook Selectman Aboul Khan, who was the selectmen’s representative on the Planning Board when 3D’s application was approved, said the owners never mentioned sweepstakes gambling -- legal or not -- would be conducted at the site, which is zoned for business and professional office space.

"One of the Planning Board members asked the owner if the business would be like a Kinko’s," Khan said. "And the owners said, ’Yes, it would be just like a Kinko’s.’ But it isn’t."

According to those who have been there, customers at 3D purchase phone cards, then have the money transferred to one of the sweepstakes video gambling machines that pay off in cash if points are won. If players win, the points are worth a penny each. If players lose games, they lose points and could continue playing by putting more money on their phone cards.

According to Seabrook site plan regulations, even locating a restaurant in the multi-office building complex would require the Planning Board’s approval for a change of use.

In response to a letter from Garand in March informing Loring about the use violation, her attorney wrote in an April 27 letter that the sweepstakes gambling did not qualify as gambling according to the state’s current definition. Puffer did not address the change of use issue in his letter, saying only that the state doesn’t allow towns to prohibit amusement devices, which is what he calls the sweepstakes gambling machines.

"First, no gambling or wagering takes place at 3D Business Center," Puffer wrote. "Sweepstakes are not gambling, because they lack the essential element of consideration. 3D Business Center provides various services, including the sale of phone cards. The sweepstakes are used to promote the sale of these services."

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