23March
2017
Non-Compete Agreements: What Can They Accomplish?

It may seem ironic that companies encourage innovation and brilliance while employees are on the payroll, but pull the plug on that ambition if they dare to leave. But non-compete agreements attempt to do just that to control damage. Whether signed when staff members come on board, or as part of a ream of paper presented as they leave, non-compete agreements have similar restrictions. An employer lays claim to any products, intellectual property and ideas developed while on the job. And customers or clients handled while a staff member was employed by the company are also generally off-limits. Courts have…

23March
2017
Build Teams for Growth and Success

Teamwork. It’s a common enough term these days, and well-known companies such as General Electric, 3M, Texas Instruments and Federal Express have been using it to their advantage for decades. Now an increasing number of businesses have taken up team building for growth, efficiency and competition. Cohesion in Japan It begins early in childhood. Japanese children are taught to complement each other’s skills in school. By the time they reach the work world, they feel a deep sense of commitment to their companies and their colleagues. They also feel a shared sense of responsibility for failure. With teamwork ingrained in…

23March
2017
Survivors: Family Businesses That Last

The phrase “family business” makes some people automatically think of mom-and-pop stores in small towns. But as you probably know, family-operated companies include everything from husband-and-wife sole proprietorships to companies like Mars Inc., the candy bar and food product company that employs about 70,000 people. For a perspective of just where family business fits into the landscape of commerce and employment in America, look at these facts from a study at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. The Oldest Businesses The oldest American business on record was the C.P. Washburn Grain Co., of Middleborough, Mass., which began in 1632, more than…

09March
2017
Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy

One of the most well-known investors of the 20th Century, Benjamin Graham, said that “the investor’s chief problem — and even his worst enemy — is likely to be himself.” ¹ What Graham understood — and modern research is catching up to — is the idea that we all have emotions and biases that affect our decision-making. The innate wiring built to survive pre-modern times can be counterproductive in our modern world, especially when it comes to investing. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the human emotions and biases that can adversely impact sound investment decision-making. Fear…

09March
2017
The Burden of Proof for Employers

Section 806 — it’s the critical, often overlooked, whistleblower provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). In recent years the provision has generated a host of litigation, redefined the burden of proof in employment cases and extended criminal liability against companies and individuals. An example of the significance of this provision was illustrated in one ruling against Atlantic Coast Airlines, in which a Labor Department administrative law judge ruled that a whistleblower’s suspicions of fraud were reasonable and she had grounds to believe that a fraud was being perpetuated on the airline, as well as its stockholders. (See right-hand box for…

09March
2017
Building Block: Understanding the Alternate Valuation Date

When an individual dies, the executor is faced with an important decision that has the potential to impact the taxes owed by the estate and its heirs.1 The executor will have the option of valuing the estate on the date of death, or on the six-month anniversary of death — the “Alternate Valuation Date.” Pick a Date For estates with substantial holdings in stocks, the use of the Alternate Valuation Date may be an appropriate approach if the executor believes stock prices will be lower than they were on the date of death. It may seem like an obvious decision…