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How the Recession Has Changed Retirement Planning

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Expert Offers 3 Tips for Baby Boomers

The economy may be recovering, but some of the changes wrought by the Great Recession may be long-lasting. Anyone planning for retirement, no matter what their age, needs to take those changes into account, says financial advisor Philip Rousseaux, a member of the esteemed Million Dollar Round Table association’s exclusive Top of the Table forum for the world’s most successful financial services professionals.

“People in their 40s and younger have some time to retooltheir plan, but Baby Boomers need to think with more urgency,” says Rousseaux, founder and president of Everest Wealth Management, Inc., www.everestwm.com.

“A lot of boomers had all of their retirement investments in the stock market and, if they didn’t lose their principal, it will take some time for them to recoup their gains. Others moved their money to short-term savings, like CDs. But with interest rates so low, they’re actually losing money when you factor in inflation.”

Those are the two most common mistakes people make in retirement planning – having everything in either stocks or short-term savings is a bad idea, he says.

“Space your investments so they’ll come due as they’re needed,” Rousseaux says. “Plan some that can be available in the short term, for emergencies, and others that will be available as you age.”

Only 14 percent of Americans are very confident they’ll have the money to live comfortably in retirement, according to a 2012 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Here are Rousseaux’s suggestions for ensuring you’re part of that 14 percent.

• Don’t take risks you can’t afford. This is another common mistake. “Don’t put the bulk of your assets into anything that makes your principal vulnerable. Gambling that you’re going to win big on the market, or any other investment, means you also risk losing big.” A portion of your investment should have a guaranteed return.

• Seek any guidance from independent financial advisors. This has two benefits: Advisors who aren’t marketing their own products have no conflicts of interest. “You wouldn’t go to a commissioned salesman for advice on buying a high-tech product. Instead, you’d probably turn to a trusted friend or an independent expert source, like Consumer Reports. Take the same care with something as important as your retirement.” The second benefit is that independent advisors can devise creative, innovative solutions to meet the needs of individual clients. Those working for companies like MetLife are not free to think outside the box. And that’s especially important In this new, post-recession economy.

• Consider alternatives to the stock market. One of the effects of the recession is that the public realizes Wall Street is not a safe retirement plan. Even if it can get you there, it’s not necessarily going to keep you there.“There are a number of great, safer alternatives,” Rousseaux says. One of those is fixed, indexed annuities. “You loan an insurance company money and it guarantees you payments over a specified length of time. It’s a contract between you and the company,” he explains. Fixed-rate indexed annuities have a minimum and maximum interest payment that’s linked to a common index, such as the Dow. When the Dow goes up or down, so does the interest rate, but it never go below the guaranteed minimum or above the guaranteed maximum. “Your principal is safe and you can ride an up market without the risk,” he says.

With pension plans a luxury of the past and Social Security not a guarantee for the future, Rousseaux says whatever your age, it’s important to start planning now for retirement by creating your own private pension.

“The good news is, our life expectancy grows every year,” he notes. “It’s up to you to ensure that you have a great quality of life when you decide you no longer want to work.”

About Philip Rousseaux

Philip Rousseaux is the founder and president of Everest Wealth Management and Everest Investment Advisors money management firm. A staunch advocate of objectivity in investment advice, he’s a member of the Million Dollar Round Table, the international association of independent advisors whose members are held to a rigid code of ethics. He is the co-author of “Climbing the Mountain to Financial Success.” Philip received his bachelor’s in economics from Towson University and completed the Wharton School of Business’s Investment Strategies and Portfolio Management Executive Education Program

 

 

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Ways to Show You Appreciate Your Customers

7650804342_9715bb425fYour business successes are the result of your own hard work, to be sure. But, you could not have built your business without the support of your customers.

Suppose you are already doing your part in your day-to-day business interactions with customers. You give them excellent service by proving that you are willing to make time for them. They feel important, knowing that you value their business. A customer who feels overlooked, rushed or senses that you would rather be doing something other than helping them is not likely to be among your loyal return customers. So, you treat all of your customers with respect, giving them the personal attention they need while they purchase your product or service.

However, your responsibility to your customers does not end with the completion of a business transaction. All individuals enjoy having their contributions acknowledged, and they will favor those who express awareness of their efforts. Recognizing how someone has supported your business and showing them that you appreciate them is crucial to your continued success. With the holidays fast approaching, your company has the opportunity to make a lasting, positive impression on your customers.

Here are a few simple ways to show your customers that you care about them:

  1. Give away materials with your company logo on them. Customers always love receiving free items. Order selections of small promotional materials such as pens, calendars and notepads. These materials are often inexpensive and will help to build your customers’ loyalty to you. You will also benefit from the added visibility to new potential customers.
  2. Send personalized holiday cards to your customers. Several companies offer attractive and professional designs that tell your customers you appreciate them. Sign the cards, or better yet, write a small note expressing your gratitude for their business. Customers will recognize the effort you put into mailing them the card, and they will be pleased that their loyalty is noticed and appreciated.

Do not limit your appreciations to the holidays. You may also want to send a card on other occasions to show your customers that they truly are important to you.

  1.  Offer special discounts to your customers. Sending a coupon or promotion along with a short note telling them you are grateful for their business is a great way to acknowledge your customers while simultaneously giving them an incentive to return.
  2.   Following up with your customers by sending them a personalized letter or e-mail after a transaction is complete is the best time to show your appreciation. Your customer will see no underlying motive for the letter other than you want to show your appreciation to them. A simple note or acknowledgement of their contribution to your business will certainly catch their attention and set you apart from other, more impersonal businesses.
  3. If you have the time or resources and it makes financial sense based on the dollar amount of products or services you offer, a brief “thank-you” phone call to your customers is very effective, especially directly following a transaction. The world of business has become very impersonal in many ways, so a human voice, even if heard merely in a voicemail or answering machine is very effective. In fact, some very successful companies hire customer service reps who have the single task of following up and thanking their customers. They also use this time to briefly survey each customer to find out how the company can improve.

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. You must first earn their support by providing great initial service. But, do not make the mistake of passing by the chance to tell your customers that you appreciate them. Take the time to communicate with those who have supported you and reward their business with a personal note, phone call or gift. Your efforts to recognize them will be noticed, and they will be much more likely to return and recommend your business to others.

Mikkie Mills is a Chicago native and mother of two.  She occasionally blogs about DIY crafts and business. Show your customers you care through gifts by Vistaprint products.  Connect with her on Google + or on Twitter (@DollarHacks).

 

 

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6 Ways to Better Motivate Your Employees

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As an employer it can sometimes feel like you are fighting an uphill battle to get your employees motivated. But employees are the driving force of any company, so you will not get much done with employees who do not pull their weight. Whether you find it a struggle to motivate your employees on a daily basis, or you are simply looking for ways to increase productivity, here are some suggestions that could help you out.

Reward Programs

Nothing motivates people like a reward. Whether it is something monetary, such as a bonus or raise, or something else, such as a paid vacation, a gift basket etc. if your employees know what they will receive as a result of their work, they are more likely to work harder. Additionally, it is always motivating to know that your hard work is appreciated and will be rewarded.

Friendly Competition

Workplace competitions can get everyone excited and motivated to do better work. The most important thing to remember however, is that it should not be a competition with high stakes and a professional reward (such as a promotion). You do not want to create tension in your workplace, and damaging the atmosphere of the workplace can cause damage to overall productivity.

Mission Statements and Goals

It helps employees to know what exactly they are working for. If your company does not have a mission statement or motto, create one. This will not only help people to understand the vision of your company, but it will also give them something to work towards. Once you have a broad vision in mind, create smaller, short term goals together with your employees that can help you to fulfill the mission.

Give Them Time Off

This goes along with rewards, in that it is a way to show employees that they are appreciated. But time off is unique in that it gives people time away from work to refresh and recharge their batteries. If they get the chance to do this, they will come back to work more motivated and enthusiastic.

Get-togethers outside of Work

Another good idea is to have events outside of work that will allow people to get to know each other outside of the office. Whether it is a paid-for dinner, party, or something else, it is also a good way to reward employees for productivity. Holding such events allows people to get to know each other better, creating an all around better work environment, which often increases productivity.

Get to Know Them On a Personal Level

It is incredibly hard to motivate people that you do not even know. Likewise, it is hard for employees to motivate themselves if they only see you as a distant boss. Get to know your employees and their personalities. Everyone is different, and they will be motivated in different ways, so get to know who they are and what makes them tick. It also helps if you can give them personal praise every once in awhile.

About the Author: Robert Cordray is a freelance writer and expert in business and finances. He has received many accolades for his work in teaching employee rewards programs.

 

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Attorney Offers Tips for Safeguarding Your Wealth in 2013

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Litigation is America’s fastest growing business because plaintiffs have everything to gain and nothing but a few hours’ time to lose, says Hillel Presser, author of “Financial Self-Defense (Revised Edition),” http://www.assetprotectionattorneys.com.
“Even if a case seems utterly ridiculous — like the man who struck and killed a teenager with his luxury car and then sued the boy’s family for damage to his bumper — defendants are encouraged to settle. It’s sometimes the only way to avoid potentially astronomical legal fees,” he says.
If you haven’t already taken steps to protect your assets, that’s one New Year’s resolution you’ll be glad you made and followed up on, Presser says. And while it helps to have the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in asset protection, there are many things you can do yourself.
“You shouldn’t have any non-exempt assets in your name,” Presser says. “The goal is to ‘own’ nothing but control everything.”
Presser suggests these resolutions for safeguarding your wealth in the event of a lawsuit:
• Inventory your wealth. Figure out how much assets you really have (most people have more than they think). Take stock of valuable domain names, telephone numbers, intellectual property, potential inheritances, and other liquid and non-liquid assets. That way you can then work on actions to cost effectively keep them safe.
• Set your goal. Setting your 2013 asset protection goal is your first step to becoming protected in the New Year! For instance, you could plan to execute an estate plan or set up a trust for your children in 2013. Decide what assets you want to protect in the New Year and a realistic timeline for implementation. Then — and most importantly — stick to your plan. Asset protection works only if you follow through.
• Protect your home. Find out how much of your home is protected by your state’s homestead laws and then encumber the remaining equity. Encumbering a home’s equity can be accomplished by recording a mortgage against it, re-financing a current mortgage or even taking out a lien of credit using your home as collateral! Another great strategy to protect your home is to transfer its title to a protective entity such as a limited liability company (LLC), trust, limited partnership, etc.
• Get everything out of your name. The worst thing you can do as far as exposure is titling all of your assets to your personal name. That doesn’t mean you have to lose control of them – the goal of asset protection is to “own nothing, but control everything.” In 2013, work on moving your assets out of your personal name and into the name of protective entities such as limited liability companies (LLC’s), trusts, limited partnerships, etc.
• Buy adequate insurance. Protect your loved ones. Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage in the event a job loss, natural disaster, or even a tragic loss of life. Those include — but are not limited to — your car, home, and other valuables.
About Hillel L. Presser, Esq., MBA
Hillel L. Presser’s law firm, The Presser Law Firm, P.A., represents individuals and businesses in establishing comprehensive asset protection plans. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s School of Management and Nova Southeastern University’s law school, and serves on Nova’s President’s Advisory Council. He also serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations for his professional athlete clients. He is a former adjunct faculty member for law at Lynn University. Complimentary copies of his best-selling book, “Financial Self-Defense (Revised Edition)” are available through assetprotectionattorneys.com.

 

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Standard Partitions or Glass Wall Panels in the Office?

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There have been hundreds of studies done by psychologists and business strategists in order to find out how they can optimise office space/decor with productivity in the staff. A small but significant part of the atmosphere created in an office comes down to the partitions by which it is divided.

 Listed below are the advantages of using wooden boards and glass screens as office partitions with regards to working environment and employee productivity.

 

Standard Partitions  

  • There is a defined area in which staff can call their own.
  • If the material is made out of chip board or a thick cloth, staff can spruce up their work space by pinning personal items on there. This gives them an identity rather than just another username and login number.
  • You’re less exposed and, when you need to, can get your head down and finish by those important deadlines.
  • There are far less distractions around the staff that will sway them from their tasks.
  • There is also more privacy for those days when you just want to be left alone and not get involved in other activities around you.

 

Glass Panels

  • Firstly, glass panels give a more open-plan feel to the office, making staff feel less stuffy and enclosed.
  • They can lead to a brighter working area, ensuring any tired eyes early in the morning can properly wake up.
  • There can be a more social vibe to the office which can lead to better working relationships, although this comes with the caveat that staff may socialise too much!
  • There is a sense of belonging in that staff may feel more involved on tasks which they may not necessarily be assigned to, but are aware of its presence. Stops any feeling of isolation.
  • Finally, the glass wall panels look stylish. A vibrant, interesting and modern office helps to perk up the spirits of its staff, even if it’s just a little.

Research has suggested that office design greatly influences productivity. For example the colour scheme of an office can dictate the mood of staff i.e. reds make staff more tense and alert whereas blues make them feel calmer and more serene.

If there is less interaction between staff, through standard partitions dividing the office, then productivity will increase. However, motivation and job satisfaction tends to decrease which, in the long run, is bad for productivity.

 If there are glass partitions, coupled with a more open plan office design, then there will be more interaction between staff for problem solving and an emphasis on team work. Of course, this could lead to the staff having more social conversations rather than work problem solving.

If you work in an office with either of these partitions, feel free to comment below to share your thoughts on how productivity is affected by it!

James Duval is an IT Support Manager during the day and an Applied Workplace blogger in his spare time.

 

 

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The Dynamics Of Customer Relationship Management

financial-advisor-CRM-1The customer relationship management system is the most updated and highly rated system mostly used for strategy formulation in marketing. This dynamic system of marketing and business deals with mutual relationship with customers and clients and is compactly titled as the automated CRM system. It is a widely spread tactic and the most reputable procedure for reducing the cost of a product placed within the market. This system of customer relationship management provokes and stimulates the factors or indicators of satisfaction and increased profits in favor of customers and clients across the globe as well as within the market place. CRM system allows for development of strong relationships within the business world and market.

Portions of dynamical aspects of CRM system:

The portions and areas of CRM which deals with the dynamics of marketing and skills are as follows:

  • The system of marketing is the most consistent and delicate of areas in the customer relationship management system.
  • The most non constant and variable aspect of the market lies within the interaction with customers and clients.
  • Appointments should be made after consideration of analytical dexterity for business. It aids in the removal of obstacles and hindrances present in the way of marketing and enactment of business strategies.

Basically a system of marketing is all dynamic in nature. It keeps on changing due to the introduction of constantly changing trends in the area of workplace, products, loss and profit.

Scenario of marketing relationships:

The CRM system is the most helpful of tools for the purpose of identifying and subsequently targeting the skills and points that are prevalent in the market and its various businesses. Generation of conducive and effective marketing skills leads to an escalation in the potency of the whole venture and eventually, spawns great reforms in both the mobile and static aspects of business strategies that are to be. The scenario of marketing relationships should be dynamic. They should be based upon responses of a marketing client that should entail the procession of the intrinsic principles and concepts found in the CRM system. Marketing revenue for customers should also be dynamic in nature and should reflect the best deals for a client and customer. This strategy creates an active track which allows for the proceedings and workings of a sales process to remain neutral when embedded in the CRM system. Ability for holding and supporting the services of customers is composed of a most unique mixture or blend of cooperation and mutual binding forces. Appointments in a CRM system are focused and centralized courses of action that are based solely on the consumers of a market. The advertised product and the projects of static market should be integrated in the most appropriate and effective of manners before bringing it forward onto the platform of the global market. Segmentation, legal campaigns and targeting should affect the dynamics of an analytic CRM system. This will reflect the quality and high performance of a business and skills of marketing and assist in designing the iconic elements of operation and components of a market with all dynamic systems and terms completely accounted for.

Robert Green works for one of the leading CRM agencies in Europe and is an expert in online and offline CRM systems (interesting to know is that the Spanish term is CRM sistema).

 

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How Writing a Book can Help Your Business and Other Vampires

SYEP-Logo-Banner-SiteSome of the most prolific books written today are paranormal romances. There are thousands of them, all trying to be the next Twilight. There are other vampires also, those that haunt the Internet and pop up regularly, like bar girls who steal or kidneys or how sending a chain letter to Bill Gates will make you rich. One of those vampires is the one about business ebooks. According to many experts, if you write an ebook for your business customers will beat a path to your door. Let’s hope that they are not there for your kidneys!

Nobody may to ready your business ebook. Have you ever read one? Did you download it before that long airplane ride to have something to read on the trip? There were 200,000 books published in 2011. According to Fast Company, the following were the best selling business books of 2012:

1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

2. How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon

3. Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, by Robert Pozen

4. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don’t, by Nate Silver

5. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown

6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg

7. Renegades Write the Rules: How the Digital Royalty Use Social Media to Innovate, by Amy Jo Martin

8. Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck: What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business, by Anthony K. Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, Tsun-Yan Hsieh

9. The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World, by Frans Johansson

10. Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, by Frank Partnoy

11. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

12. 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era, by Nilofer Merchant

How many of these have you read? Do your customers read them? What products did you buy because you read one of these books?

Writing a book is about telling the world a story and why it is important. You write because you have a story to tell and because you love to write. You write to entertain your readers.

Your story about your business and what it took to start it and how you keep it going may become a bestseller. But, not if you write it, or have a cheap ghostwriter hack it out to help visitors to your website buy new lawn furniture. But, if the lawn furniture is haunted and the garden gnomes are wise gurus of life in the suburbs, then maybe people will read it.

The Staples Easy Button is a great marketing idea. The story about how it was created, and how American pop culture seized on it might very well make a great chapter in a business book about advertising. If you can write that story, then write it and promote that book on your web site.

Writing a bad, throw-away ebook to sell your business may do more harm than good. Vampires are like that. The writing quality, story quality, format quality, and grammar quality of the book reflect your business.

Write your business book because you have to write it and are willing to spend the months and months needed to write, edit, rewrite, package, and promote the book as something more than your business, not to just sell lawn furniture. The gnomes know when you are faking it. Just remember that.

About Mike Macartney

Mike Macartney is the publisher at Shoot Your Eye out Publishing. SYEO Publishing is a new book publishing company for writers who wish to publish their work today, in a very different publishing world than was the case even a few years ago. You can follow the world of books and publishing at SYEO on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shoot-Your-Eye-Out-Publishing/164919843554977

 

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