Personal Finance

Investment adviser accused of impersonating clients, stealing from accounts

The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed fraud charges against an Arcadia, CA, investment adviser who misappropriated millions of dollars from investors to whom he had promised huge returns through "no risk" options trading.According to the Commission, investment adviser Charles Trigilio withdrew more than $3.4 million from his clients' accounts for his personal use, transferred money from one client to another in a classic Ponzi scheme tactic, and gave clients false information about their investments to hide the losses from his spectacularly unsuccessful trading strategy.

It's National Payroll Week: Get more from your paycheck

Labor Day is a perfect time for employees to bulk up their bank accounts. Flexible spending accounts and other free services available through company payroll departments can save workers up to 35 percent on things like medical, dental, even dependent care costs. September 3-7 is National Payroll Week and there's no better time for workers to "flex" their paycheck.One savings tool, flexible spending accounts, can save employees up to 35 percent on qualified medical and dependent care expenses because of the tax advantage of the accounts.

September is National Preparedness Month – are your financial records in order?

September is National Preparedness Month and the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) has some tips to help individuals put their banking and financial documents in order to prepare for an emergency or unexpected event."While the first priority is the physical safety and well-being of you and your family, having your banking and financial papers in order can lighten your burden during a time of duress," said James P. Ghiglieri, Jr., ICBA chairman and president of Toluca, IL-based Alpha Community Bank.

SEC files action to halt $25 million Ponzi scheme

Continuing its crackdown on financial fraud against senior citizens, the Securities and Exchange Commission has filed an emergency action to shut down a $25 million Ponzi scheme that victimized hundreds of senior and other investors nationwide who bought fractional ownership interests in life insurance policies.The SEC asked a federal district court in Sacramento, CA, to grant the SEC's request for an order temporarily prohibiting further sales of the products, freezing the assets, and appointing a receiver to take control of operations in order to manage and preserve remaining investor fun

Study: Corporate analysts take favors

A recent joint study prepared by two professors at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas shows that nearly two-thirds of surveyed investment firm analysts received favors from company executives in exchange for preferential treatment when rating stocks. UT accounting associate professor Michael Clement and UM management professor James Westphal sent 4,500 questionnaires to financial analysts between 2001 and 2003 and sent follow up surveys to hundreds of executives at the large and mid-size public companies covered by the analysts.

Reverse mortgages are gaining ground

Advertising for reverse mortgages featuring well known actors like James Garner and Robert Wagner and aimed at the over-62 viewer is publicizing a product that as yet has achieved only 1 percent market penetration, according to a report in the Philadelphia Enquirer, but analysts suggest that this product may become a major source of money for retirees in the coming years.
Education & Careers

Who's teaching today's kids to balance their bank account?

Summer is almost over and parents should be worried, not about back-to-school shopping, but whether or not their children are learning how to budget, save and invest in their futures. A survey released by Visa showed that only 5 percent of adults learned about the vital life skill of money management in elementary or high school - a surprisingly low number.The Visa survey of 1,000 cardholders also found that less than half of people (48 percent) learned about money management from their parents while 41 percent were self-taught or learned the hard way.

Wealth trends highlight taxation and the 30-plus-year retirement

Planning for the 30-year retirement and keeping taxes at bay are two leading issues that will shape wealth management in the years ahead.These are two key results of the latest WealthTrends survey from the Dow Jones Wealth Management Advisory Council, a group of top wealth managers dedicated to promoting the practice of wealth management, facilitating industry discussion and representing the needs and concerns of the profession."Given the changes we will be seeing in areas such as taxation and longer retirements, wealth managers must take a more comprehensive approach to addressing their

Adding annuities may be next frontier in 401(k) plans

Faced with the possibility that a growing number of employees will outlive their income in retirement, companies will likely consider offering annuities as a new investment option in their 401(k) plans, say experts at Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a leading global consulting firm. "With the baby boomers beginning to retire, we will soon see how the first generation to be more reliant on 401(k) plans than traditional pensions makes do," said Robyn Credico, national director of Watson Wyatt's defined contribution practice.

Do you have an emergency fund?

Taking care of yourself and your family involves more than keeping your door locked, letting the dog outside frequently, and setting curfew hours for your children. For some, protection comes in the form of a shotgun or a Rottweiler. But this kind of protection only goes so far.

Future travelers will be seeing green in hotels

Would Al Gore forget to turn off the lights before running out the door? Maybe, if that door led to a hotel room. Travel can turn even the most Prius-like consumer into a gas-guzzling SUV, according to a survey of frequent travelers commissioned by Element Hotels, a new extended-stay brand from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. In fact, a majority of frequent travelers (59%) admit to letting their “green routines” slip when on the road. Even consumers who make an effort to be green forget to pack their good habits when they hit the road.

CFPs face new ethics standards

On May 31, 2007, the Board of Directors of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) announced the adoption of an updated Standards of Professional Conduct, which sets forth the ethical standards for CFP professionals. CFP professionals found in violation of CFP Board's ethical standards may be subject to public discipline, up to a permanent revocation of the right to use the CFP® marks.The updated Standards will become effective July 1, 2008.
Tax

New Mazda vehicles certified as qualified hybrids

The Internal Revenue Service has acknowledged the certification by Mazda Motor of America, Inc., that several of its Model Year 2008 vehicles meet the requirements of the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit as qualified hybrid motor vehicles.The credit amount for the certified 2008 model year hybrid vehicles are:Mazda Tribute 2WD Hybrid — $3,000 Mazda Tribute 4WD Hybrid — $2,200 The Tribute is Mazda's first gasoline-electric model.

Recommended strategy: Steer clients into new AMT-free funds

The alternative minimum tax (AMT) continues to hit hard at taxpayers from all walks of life. Approximately 23.4 million people, representing 26% of all individual taxpayers, are expected to be subject to the AMT in 2007, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. No real relief from Congress is in sight. And Wall Street is finally sitting up and taking notice.

Quiz: Check your financial IQ

The Florida State University Center for Professional Development offers some quick quizzes as part of its Financial Planning Fundamentals course.
Tax

Blackstone ruling would close loophole, raise taxes

U.S. House and Senate committee members are scrambling to enact legislation that would close what some call a loophole in the Tax Code, a provision that provides tax breaks to partnerships that engage primarily in passive activities and that are publicly traded.

Fair Isaac to close loophole and reduce FICO credit scores

There's a provision in the FICO credit scoring process that allows a person who is added as an authorized user on someone else's credit card to essentially piggyback that person's credit activity, thus possibly improving his or her own credit score. Fair Isaac's FICO scores range from 300 to 850. The scores are calculated by a complex and confidential formula.
A&A

A Conversation with Marcus Scholes: Poor Asset Management Risks Business Integrity

Growing risk awareness and recent natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, may have prompted an increasing number of companies to invest in disaster recovery (DR) as part of the business continuity program – but how safe is that investment?Just what, indeed, is being recovered? Few organizations have any real insight into the true extent of their corporate assets. In fact, on average, upwards of 50 percent of assets on the register cannot be located.Not only does this challenge the validity of the DR solution but it also raises huge questions in the event of an insurance claim.
Community News

California Legislative Staff Takes Financial Wellbeing Class

California legislative staff members recently received briefings on how to improve their money management abilities.Conducted by the California Society of CPAs (CalCPA) and CalCPA Institute, the program covered debt and credit management, retirement planning, home mortgages and saving for college.Assembly members Fiona Ma and Roger Niello, themselves CPAs, sponsored the program, which was held at the Capitol.The program was part of a CalCPA community outreach effort designed to improve Californians' financial literacy.
Technology

CFP Offers Draft Ethics Webcast

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.

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