A&A news

A&A

Treasury Department Seeks to Offer Tax-Free Investment

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is staying focused on tax-free investing for most Americans despite the controversy its original plan caused.This week the Treasury Department scaled back its original plan to allow all Americans to invest up to $7,500 per person per year and withdraw the money any time with no taxes on earnings, meaning a family of four could invest up to $30,000 and pay no taxes on anything they earned.
A&A

Merrill Lynch to Pay $11M to Overcharged Mutual Fund Buyers

Merrill Lynch & Co. plans to reimburse about $11 million to buyers of mutual funds it overcharged, The New York Times reported Thursday.Merrill spokesman Mark Herr told the newspaper that the average reimbursement for the overcharges, including interest, will be about $145. More than 20,000 overcharged customers will receive credits or checks by Dec. 20. The brokerage company was initially planning to ask investors to fill out a form if they thought they had been overcharged, but instead of waiting the hear from investors, Merrill decided to simply make the payments.
A&A

Customized Computers Often Cost Less Than Packaged Ones

A new study by comparison-shopping site ExactChoice found hidden price advantages in customized computers: models that manufacturers custom-build from a list of choices made by the consumer. In a sample of major manufacturers and retailers, 66% of new computers packaged for retail sale had customized equivalents -- often from the same manufacturer -- that cost less.
Practice

IMA Launches Sarbanes-Oxley Knowledge Network

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) announced this week the launch of its Sarbanes-Oxley Knowledge Network http://www.imaknowledge.org/sox. (Note: Registration is required.)The Network is a new and first-of-its-kind Web-based collaborative learning tool designed to aid financial professionals in understanding and implementing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the SOX Act).
A&A

FASB Close to New Pension Reporting Rule

Companies will be required to report their pension assets and investment strategies under a new rule being considered by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).One major change is that companies will be required to describe their pension holdings — reporting on the proportion of stocks, bonds, real estate, private equity and other investments, the FASB decided last Wednesday.
A&A

SEC Fee 'Just Another Tax'

In an effort to pump more money into the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), fund managers are demanding that the so-called "SEC fee" go entirely to the industry watchdog agency and not at all to the U.S. Treasury.The International Counsel Association of America is angry that a large part of the SEC fee has been appropriated in the past by the U.S.
A&A

Incorporations Surge Even in Unpredictable Economy

Economic indicators are showing that a sluggish economy and an uncertain world are not stopping Americans from starting their own businesses in record numbers. Over the last year, self-employment has increased by 400,000, according to a Labor Department survey, reported by the Wall Street Journal. In the state of Delaware, an incorporation center, there has been a big increase in start-up businesses.
A&A

Free Report: Get Computer Savvy: Managing Electronic Communications

This free report, "Get Computer Savvy: Managing Electronic Communications" will show you how to manage both the legal and practical risks of electronic communications, including the Internet, instant messaging, message boards, screen savers, and e-mail.In this free report you will learn:4 tips for promoting proper Internet use and reducing your organization's associated legal risks 3 ways other companies are restricting illegal downloads to avoid winding up like the Arizona employer that was ordered to pay $1 million for allegedly allowing employees to access and shar
A&A

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Raise Mortgage Loan Limit

Home buyers may find it easier to afford a home now that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have increased the size of home loans they buy from lenders.The two federally chartered companies announced last Tuesday that starting Jan. 1, they will increase the single-family mortgage loan limit to $333,700, which is 3.4 percent higher than the existing loan limit of $322,700. The 3.4 percent increase is the smallest since 1996, which is a sign that home prices are not rising as quickly as in past years.
A&A

Survey Finds Workers Coping With Financial Strain of Health Care Costs

American Express Financial Advisors Inc. today released results from a 2003 national survey measuring the impact of recent health care cost increases on workers’ financial health.The survey found a significant number of employees are concerned about the financial effect of health care increases on their retirement future. The majority (73 percent) of workers responded they were either somewhat or very concerned about how rising health care costs might impact their ability to fund their retirement and other financial goals.
A&A

Entrepreneurs Expect Modest Startup Costs For Most New Ventures

Entrepreneurs project modest startup costs for most new ventures, according to a study released today by the Office of Advocacy. Solo entrepreneurs expect median startup costs of $6,000, while the median cost expected by team ventures is $20,000. More than 80 percent of the entrepreneurs studied expected to cover their startup costs without bank loans, although on average they had saved only $2,000 towards that goal."Not all new ventures require large infusions of capital," said Dr. Chad Moutray, Advocacy’s Chief Economist .
A&A

SEC Adopts Stricter Rules to Improve Disclosure to Investors

At an open meeting last week the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted rules that will improve disclosure to investors regarding the nominating committee processes of public companies and the ways by which security holders may communicate with directors at the companies in which they invest. The disclosure requirements adopted will enhance significantly the transparency of the nominations and communications processes of public companies and are the next step in the implementation of the recommendations in the Staff Report.
A&A

SEC Chairman Calls For Tighter Regulation of Mutual Funds

The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission outlined a plan for tighter regulation of mutual funds before Congress Tuesday, and responded to criticism that the SEC failed to find problems in the industry early enough.SEC Chairman William H. Donaldson told Congress that he supported a plan to force mutual fund chairmen and three-quarters of the directors to be independent. Half of the board is required to be independent now, the New York Times reported. Under the proposals, fund directors would be required to perform annual evaluations of their effectiveness.
A&A

S&P Launches New Online Tools to Assist Investors

Standard & Poor's, a leading provider of independent investment research, ratings and indices, announced today that is has launched a comprehensive set of global online information and analysis on mutual funds aimed at helping individual investors make more informed investment decisions.The new products are available on http://www.funds-sp.com Standard & Poor's dedicated funds Web site.
Community News

Small Businesses Most Vulnerable to Payroll Fraud, Five Tips to Avoid Costly Fraud Schemes

Small businesses are often the most vulnerable and easiest targets for occupational fraud and abuse, and particularly payroll fraud, according to Fiducial, an international provider of professional business outsourcing for tax, financial and business services to small businesses.
Practice Management

Key to Foiling Financial Fraud: Protect Honest Employees

Re-published with permission from White-Collar Crime Fighter, www.wccfighter.comAs the "Enron pattern" shows no signs of abating, it is clearer than ever that corporate book-cooking will remain a stubborn blemish on America's corporate image for, well, a very long time. For corporate, regulatory and law enforcement fraud-fighters, the question therefore is, "How can we at least reduce the number of Enron-type cases?"One obvious, yet often unpalatable answer is, let employees tell the truth...
A&A

Overcharged Investors May Receive Refunds, January 2004 Deadline

About 450 securities firms will contact mutual fund investors over the next three months about possible refunds totaling at least $85 million.Brokerage companies under scrutiny have until the end of January, 2004 to notify millions of investors that they may have been overcharged for their mutual fund investments, National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc.
A&A

Is Your Cash-Value Insurance Policy in Danger?

Billions of dollars of life insurance cash values may be in big trouble, and most consumers don't know it because they don't check their policies like they do their stocks and bonds.Most owners of cash value life insurance polices don't really understand what effect low interest rates have had on their policies, according to the top insurance consultants at Herz Financial."Customers may be losing money with a policy that was once valuable, but now with the extended drop in interest rates, it may be on a collision course to self-destruct and become worthless," said Matthew Herz, one of t
A&A

Insurance Associations Concerned About IASB Standard

Seven major insurance trade associations have asked the International Accounting Association (IASB) to take another look at its Exposure Draft 5, Insurance Contracts, which is also referred to as Phase I of the Insurance Contract Accounting project.The London-based IASB hopes to eventually standardize global accounting rules for publicly held companies. The standards would include financial accounting standards for insurance companies.
A&A

Trend Setters, Company to Format & Release Own Earnings in XBRL

Bowne & Co., Inc., the world's largest financial printer and leading EDGAR filer, today announced it will participate in a major industry financial reporting demonstration utilizing Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL).

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