A&A news

A&A

SEC Halts $800 Million Investment Fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the filing of charges to halt a fraudulent scheme in which over 5,200 investor accounts purportedly hold investments of over $813 million through an Orange County, CA, business known as Financial Advisory Consultants (FAC). The SEC's complaint, filed last week in federal district court, names James P. Lewis, Jr., of Laguna Niguel, Calif., who allegedly has sold securities in two funds, known as the Income Fund, Ltd.
A&A

New Year's Resolution: Ten Tips For Organizing Your Finances

The American Bankers Association Education Foundation offers the following suggestions for getting financiallyfit in 2004: Order a copy of your credit report. Start off the New Year by reviewing your credit history for mistakes or signs of identity theft. For a thorough review, check with all three credit reporting agencies since there may be some variations in each file. This should be done at least once a year. Pay yourself first. Determine in advance how much money you plan to keep on deposit each month.
Tax

Financial Planning Too Often Hung Out to Dry

Oil changes, vacations take priority over portfolio planning, says Schwab survey.Taking the car in for service ranks higher on the "to-do" list of American investors as they prepare for 2004 than meeting with their financial advisor, according to a new survey released this week by Charles Schwab & Co., Inc."This survey is interesting because it confirms that most investors still need to take their finances much more seriously," said Rande Spiegelman, vice president of financial planning, Schwab Center for Investment Research.
A&A

FASB Revises Accounting Guidance For Variable Interest Entities

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has published a revision to Interpretation 46 ("46R") to clarify some of the provisions of FASB Interpretation No. 46, Consolidation of Variable Interest Entities, and to exempt certain entities from its requirements.
Community News

FASB Issues Accounting Standard to Improve Disclosures About Pension And Other Postretirement Benefit Plans

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued FASB Statement No. 132 (revised 2003), Employers’ Disclosures about Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits, that improves financial statement disclosures for defined benefit plans. The project was initiated by the FASB earlier this year in response to concerns raised by investors and other users of financial statements about the need for greater transparency of pension information.
Community News

Cause-Related Marketing: Embracing a Cause Just Makes Good Business Sense

Submitted by Steven Van Yoder Copyright 2003, Steven Van Yoder Altruism. Corporate responsibility. Philanthropy. These are often used to describe cause-related marketing, an activity in which businesses join with charities or causes to market an image, product, or service for mutual benefit. Embracing a cause makes good business sense. Nothing builds brand loyalty among today's increasingly hard-to-please consumers like a company's proven commitment to a worthy cause.
A&A

Grant Thornton Proclaims Its Innocence in Parmalat Scandal

Grant Thornton’s Italian unit contends it is the victim of fraud in the multi-billion-euro scandal surrounding Parmalat, Italy’s biggest food maker.Parmalat, a household name in Europe and the No. 3 cookie maker in the U.S., filed for bankruptcy protection last week as a fraud investigation widened and the hole in Parmalat’s accounts is reported to be more than 10 billion euros, according to Reuters. One key figure is founder Calisto Tanzi, who was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of market rigging and false auditing.
A&A

PwC to Settle Travel Expenses Lawsuit for $54.5 Million

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP has agreed to pay $54.5 million to settle its part of a class-action lawsuit that contends the accounting firm overcharged its clients for travel-related expenses.The lawsuit also names Ernst & Young LLP, KPMG LLP and two other defendants for fraudulently overbilling clients by millions of dollars collectively, the Wall Street Journal reported. PwC’s preliminary agreement is the first settlement in the case, which was filed in state court in Texarkana, AR. A separate investigation by the U.S.
A&A

America's New Breed of Millionaire: How to Find and Sell to Them

By Kerry L. Johnson, MBA, PH.D. He probably wears a $50 watch. You won't see him on a yacht. But you would find him in his office commonly until 7:00 p.m. (even on Saturdays). He is more interested in his local rotary club than the polo matches.She uses her bank more for making investments than for borrowing. She would have been Robin Leach's last choice for a spot on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." She is more interested in her family and coupon clipping than in champagne and caviar dreams. Sound pretty average, right?
Technology

Microsoft Office 2003 – Is It Worth the Upgrade?

By John D. McCall, MCPIn October, Microsoft released the latest in their long line of Office suites – The Office 2003 System. In this new release, you will find several major additions to old favorites, as well as several new programs that have been added to Microsoft’s business productivity line. With all these new features and programs, you may start wondering – is this something we should think about upgrading soon?
A&A

Restatements: Differentiating Between Bad and Necessary

Regulators are trying to help investors understand the difference between "bad restatements" and ones issued simply due to accounting policy changes.The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is undertaking a public relations effort to show that not all restatements are bad. The SEC believes that the education may be necessary in light of a possible accounting rule change that would require restatements, according to the Wall Street Journal.The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the private-sector body that writes U.S.
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.

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