Ed Sayres: Fiscal Developments

financesDespite the fact that America encountered a recession in the early part of the 21st century, Ed Sayres managed to turn things around for an organization in the non-profit world.  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) encountered a serious financial boom when Sayres took over as CEO and President.  In fact, with him at the helm, the ASPCA jumped from a net revenue of $43 to $116million.

Over the years, Sayres has developed a reputation for growing high-performing organizations positioned for growth.  As well as growing non-profit organizations, Sayres has counseled CEOs, directors, and other top executives on fiscal management, strategic planning, Board development, fundraising etc.  Sayres’ approach focuses on “innovation, collaboration, transparency and accountability.”  His philosophy has over the years – through both non-profit and for-profit companies – been proven effective.  As well, Sayres has combined his work in both sectors, having been at the forefront of developing strategic partnerships between the ASPCA and large business corporations including Walmart, Target and CVS.

Uber Rush Hits New York

In addition to their app-oriented car service called Uber, the company has recently announced its Uber Rush. They promise to let “your packages travel like a VIP.”

Starting in Manhattan, their plan is to be like a typical courier service. The user uses an app to call up the vehicle and to get a price quote. The courier then arrives and takes the item from one point to another. The service isn’t for the purchase of items, such as a lunch. Rather, it is to take items that have already been purchased from one location to the next.

The plan with Uber is to take 20% of the price that the drivers charge. And prices appear to be in the $20-$25 range. Drivers for Uber have to be at least 23, to be properly licensed and insured and to have had a background check. Uber says that Rush will expand to other areas of New York after confirming their success with the initial testing phase.

There are a few other companies that have had success in this realm such as Ebay Now that promises to deliver products from local stores in less than 2 hours for $5 and the Postmates app that offers food and goods that will be delivered starting at $5.

Time will tell how Uber Rush will do, but it’s worth keeping in eye on as it is rolled out in New York.

2014 Bond Market Strategies

stocks-bondsTrading firms develop different strategies when making investments. Some promote high yield in low risk situations as the most likely route to success.  Yet even with a developed strategy, as bond expert Thomas Kenny notes, a lot for the 2014 bond market is dependent on what happens with the Quantitative Easing Policy, a program created to “depress long-term bond yields in order to stimulate the economy.”  This program has actually benefited those firms that seek out low yields as it has kept yields under levels that they would be trading without QE.

According to Head of US Fixed Income, Wes Sparks, when investment firms were still trying to figure out what kind of strategies they would employ in 2014, it made sense to reflect on 2013 scenarios.  Last year, a total return of over 8 percent was produced by the global high yield index (which was an improvement on what most investors had predicted at the start of the year).

Experts at Rainer Investment Management believe that “the addition of high yield fixed income to an overall portfolio may provide a number of significant benefits, the most obvious being the possibility for increased income.”  As well, high yields can offer three main benefits:  lower sensitivity to interest rates, attractive risk-return profile and diversification.

The White Bay Group uses the high yield in low risk scenarios.  Founder Uriel Cohen, White Bay Group does not always repeat the same strategy over and over, just based on history.  The firm believes “just because a strategy has historically performed does not mean that success will continue in the future. [The firm] only invests with a full understanding of why a strategy should make money.”

At the end of the day, while investment firms may offer well-established strategies, the fiscal environment – that is constantly in flux – needs to be considered.


U.S. Credit Card Issuers Embrace Microchip Security

In the aftermath of several data hacks during the holiday season, credit card issuers throughout the United States are rushing to follow in the footsteps of most European countries. In the U.S., credit cards use a magnetic strip which is swiped by a machine; a process which poses a security threat to card owners. However, in the U.K. and Kenya, the microchip, or EMV, cards are equipped with smart chip security and are encrypted.

National Retail Federation general counsel Mallory Duncan explained: “Fraud is rising too quickly not to make progress. Banks are going to do the right thing. The risk has gone up.”

This is already proving true, with Virginia Credit Union announcing that it will be sending out MasterCard credit cards with microchips for increased security.

“Our plans have been underway since last summer to reissue cards,” said Deb Wreden, senior vice president of product and delivery strategy, adding that the decision was not the result of security compromises at retailers.”

Similarly, Bank of America began offering cards as early as 2012 and has recently updated its cards for customers who travel abroad. JP Morgan recently announced that it will be following suit this year.

New York Mortgage Rates Drop

Manos entregando una casaAt the end of last month, New York mortgage rates dropped for the fourth week in a row. According to a survey put out by Bankrate.com, this rendered the mortgage rate figure at 4.5 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage. In addition, the average 15-year fixed mortgage dropped to 3.56 percent, with the average 5 year adjustable rate mortgages plummeting to 3.37 percent.

When it comes to getting a mortgage, it is important to speak with a few financial institutions and banks before making a decision about how to proceed. Currently, for a 15-year conventional loan, Doral Bank is offering 2.625% annual interest and 3.21% APR. With Amerisave the figures are 2.875% and 3.179% APR. There are many others to research; anyone looking to get a mortgage should also realize that there are various factors that can slightly change the figures.

In addition to current mortgage rates in New York, Bankrate Inc. reported factors that may have affected these lowered mortgage rates. Stock market volatility, for instant, can have an influence as mortgage rates are very much linked to long-term government bond yields. Furthermore, the fact that there has been this plummet is exciting given the fact that the Federal Reserve continues to taper bond purchases. This is unlikely to last forever, however, since the economy will start to stabilize and the Fed will keep tapering; and these aspects are likely to push up mortgage rates.

For now, New York homeowners should make the most of their lowered rates and those looking into getting a foot on the property ladder should consider mortgage options.

Daniel Straus, HealthBridge Exec., Announces Medical Mission to Southern Haiti

CareOne, LLC employees recently set off on a mission to provide free supplies and medical examinations to residents of southern Haiti. CEO Daniel Straus, HealthBridge Management executive, explained that the project was launched alongside the International Humanitarian Aid Foundation, a New Jersey-based organization which runs a school for more than 300 children in Les Cayes, Haiti. Launched in 2010, the education program helps many underprivileged children and orphans acquire a real education.

Straus said: “CareOne is proud to be the primary sponsor of this medical mission. CareOne has long prided itself on being a member of the 29 New Jersey communities we serve, and it is in recognition of both the Oradell connection with the Haitian school and the CareOne employees of Haitian descent that brought about our enthusiastic participation in this most needed work. The need for medical assistance in Haiti is extreme, and our CareOne employees wanted to reach out and help. We are pleased to support them in their efforts.”

Jeff Hoffman, Administrator of the CareOne Oradell Healthcare Center, added: “The team making this trip is committed to making a difference. The support of our corporate parents has been superb, and we look forward to trying to meet the needs of some of those in Haiti who so desperately need medical care.”

“We could not be more pleased at the response of these caring individuals from CareOne,” said Oradell Rotary Chapter President Tom Kelly. “We are proud of the work we have done in helping to establish the Les Cayes school, and we know this medical mission will be of great assistance to these children in need as well as those in surrounding communities.”


New Year’s Advice from the Chief Executive of Morningstar

Sometimes, good advice can make all the difference. It can help a person make one right decision that will impact the future of their career and change their financial life forever. In honor of the holidays, the Wall Street Journal asked several experts to share the best advice they ever received, or gave.

Morningstar chief executive Joe Mansueto said:

“An investor should think like a business owner, not a renter. Most businesspeople don’t get up in the morning and ask whether they should sell their business that day. If they own a pizza shop, they don’t think about whether what they really should own is a shoe store instead. They show patience and persistence and try to understand their underlying business better so they can earn the greatest return for the longest period of time.”

“So investors are in many ways misled by stock-market volatility”, he continued. “The values of the underlying businesses just don’t change as quickly as stock prices do. You really don’t have to watch those changes hawklike day after day.

It is in a lot of people’s interests to get you to do something. Advisers and brokers earn commissions, fund companies want you to bring your assets to them. There are a lot of forces at work in the investment industry to get people to move, and there’s not really a countervailing force to encourage you to do nothing. But you should.”

BillGuard Launches New iPhone App Update

BillGuard, a personal finance startup aimed at helping users save money and protect their finances, recently announced that it will be updating its iPhone app. The update is intended to help users defend against fraudulent charges on their credit cards, as well as to become more proactive with their money. The updates will also help users by updating them about available discounts.

Tech Crunch explains that “by connecting their accounts to its big data platform, the company provided a way for its users to track and dispute fraudulent charges or billing errors on their credit and debit cards. Soon after it moved to tackle the problem of so-called “gray charges”- that is, monthly or yearly subscription charges that users either unknowingly signed up for or signed up for and forgot about.”

In other words, the company has provided users with a reactive approach to personal finance. Now they are hoping to help users make money proactively with its two new app features ‘Spend Analytics’ and ‘Smart Savings’.

“Our core mission is to use data to save people money,” BillGuard CEO Yaron Samid said. “We’re really good at saving people from the bad stuff, and now we want to find the good stuff… The app is like the perfect accountant running in the background and trying to find ways to save money.”


A Step by Step Guide to Buying Gold

Some investors believe it is a complicated process to purchase gold as an investment, but this does not have to be true. Here is a step by step process to make buying gold easy.

1.     Understand the role you want gold to play in your investment portfolio. Knowing what you want gold to do for you can save time and prevent mistakes.

2.     Decide what percentage of your portfolio you would like gold to have. There is an old saying which goes, “Put 10% of your money in gold and hope you never need it.” Some experts that depending on an investor’s confidence in the economy, up to 30% invested in gold can be a smart move.

3.     Choose the correct gold firm. Check ratings, the Better Business Bureau, and APMEX customer reviews. The company you deal with can make a large difference in your experience of owning gold.

4.     When you have done the research you will be able to make an informed decision.
Gold is a traditional hedge for investors. By following these simple steps gold can work its magic for you, too.