31December
2019
Minimizing Your Risk of Cyber Breach

  Concerns about cyber threats disrupting core operations are now a top operational risk. The Securities and Exchange Commission has called threats to cybersecurity “the biggest systematic risk we have facing us.” Given the impact that breaches can have and the level of sophistication shown by hackers in recent breaches, it’s not a matter of if a breach will occur, but when and how it will occur. Cyber data — including financial data, sensitive customer information and employee records stored on the cloud or on the company’s technology devices and networks — is one of the most valuable assets many companies own….

31December
2019
Stamp Out Bad Attitudes and Boost Profits

  A good attitude can work wonders at any organization. A cheerful receptionist, a friendly delivery person or a sales clerk with a winning smile can be money in the bank for your business. By the same token, a bad attitude on the part of your staff members can drag your organization down like a 500-pound anchor. Even under the best conditions, your company can’t afford to turn off customers. But when the economy is soft and you’re trying to attract business, Stinkin’ Thinkin’ just makes things worse. If you come across Stinkin’ Thinkin’ in your organization, gain control immediately…

31December
2019
Taking Advantage of Family Funds

Remember when you were a kid and your parents paid all the bills and told you what to do? Well, if the family business runs into a cash crunch and you need to borrow money, think carefully before borrowing from parents and other relatives — or you could find you stepped into a time warp. Weighing Equity Against a Loan Among family members, loans tend to be more popular than equity investments because they are cheaper, limit the lender from trying to get involved in the business and carry a lower risk of losing the entire investment. For example, let’s…

04December
2019
Don’t Undermine Internal Fraud Investigations

For even the largest and most sophisticated organizations, internal fraud inquiries can pose numerous challenges that can send a case off track, cause legal expenses to skyrocket, and put your enterprise on the losing side. Ranging from lax investigations to not knowing enough about local law, here are examples of six mistakes that turned victory into defeat: 1. Avoid rushing to judgment. The facts of a case may clearly seem to indicate guilt, but regardless of how compelling the evidence, your organization must conduct a rigorous investigation. In one case, a commercial builder’s internal audit department had evidence that the business’s controller had used corporate funds…

04December
2019
Consider Hosting a Family Meeting about Your Estate Plan

If you’re a business owner and a high-net-worth individual, you may want to gather your family members together to discuss the details of your estate plan. This can be especially important if you own a business that employs family members. These meetings are a little like the Scottish clan gatherings held hundreds of years ago by clan chiefs to discuss their succession and inheritance plans. The Purpose of Gatherings For centuries, some Scottish clans had a tradition of getting together periodically. When communication and travel were difficult, these gatherings provided a way to prepare for the future. Estate planning was…

04December
2019
Put Social Networking Sites to Work for Your Family Business

If you think that social media is just for teenagers, think again. More than half of those logging on to social media sites are in their mid-thirties or older.     The Benefits of Using Social Media Are Many If branding, communication and targeted marketing efforts are not compelling enough, consider the following social networking success story. One Texas business decided to tie its social networking to a fundraiser for Haiti relief. For every fan added during a specified time frame the company donated a dollar to the Haiti relief effort. Employees spread the word about the fundraiser through posts…

14November
2019
Estate Tax Planning Tips for Single People

  Estate planning is an important part of your overall wealth management strategy, especially if you’re unmarried. Single parents may worry about who will care for their minor children and whether their surviving kids’ financial needs will be met until adulthood. Likewise, wealthy single people have less flexibility when it comes to shielding transfers from gift and estate taxes. Fortunately, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), estate tax issues are less of a concern. The exemption amounts have been temporarily raised, so you’re less likely to be hit with the federal estate tax. But you may need to…

14November
2019
Handle Payroll Taxes With Kid Gloves

If you operate a business that collects payroll taxes from employees, here’s a warning: Regardless of what your corporate financial situation is, don’t borrow from the withholding tax fund. If that money isn’t there when it’s due, Uncle Sam will crack down hard. All businesses face downturns when cash flow dries up. It may be tempting to look at payroll tax money as an easy fix to a cash crunch. “I’ll send it in later,” you may think. But when it comes to bad ideas, this is one of the worst. How Hard Will an IRS Crackdown Be? The fine…

14November
2019
A Measured Approach To Selecting the Right Trustee(s)

A trust is often only as good as the person selected to manage it. It may a daunting process, but selecting the right trustee and having fail-safes in place are crucial to ensuring the complexities of a trust are handled appropriately. Here are some of the pros and cons of choosing different trustees. Advantages of Relative Trustees Many experts agree that a relative is a logical trustee choice for trusts designed to transfer wealth within the family. When underage children are involved, it’s important to select a trustee that is familiar with the needs and circumstances of the family. You…

31October
2019
Do You Understand Copyright Law?

One of the major challenges facing your business is likely maintaining a website — and at the top of that list is protecting content, along with other published work your company may produced. A Copyright Prevents Others From: Reproducing a work in copies or sound recordings. Creating spin-off or “derivative” material. Distributing copies to the public by sale, rental, lease or transfer of ownership. Performing literary, musical, dramatic and motion picture works. Displaying copyrighted pictures, graphics or sculptured works. As you probably are aware, copying material is a snap on the Internet. The answer to protecting your online material lies…

31October
2019
Pick the Right Trademark

When you create a brand name, the relative strength of the words you choose directly affects how well you will be able to protect the goodwill your brand builds. Choose a unique trademark to protect your company. The more distinctive it is, the easier it will be to exclude similar trademarks from the marketplace. When The Home Depot was getting off the ground in 1979, its founders searched for just the right name. They rejected choices like MB’s Warehouse, Homeplace and Bad Bernie’s Buildall in favor of the name that is now synonymous with home improvement. How did they do…

31October
2019
From Counting Transactions to Cultivating Relationships

With technology at the forefront of modern communication, more and more people are turning to the Internet to stay abreast of the latest news and information. Likewise, many of today’s consumers use the Internet to find the best prices and to conduct research when they’re planning their next purchase. What does this trend mean for your company? The right technology can transition any business from the outmoded idea of counting transactions to the modern strategy of cultivating relationships. If you haven’t yet embraced modern communication as a significant part of your company’s overall marketing strategy, it may be time to…

21October
2019
A Living Trust Primer

A living trust is a popular consideration in many estate strategy conversations, but its appropriateness will depend upon your individual needs and objectives. What is a Living Trust? A living trust is created while you are alive and funded with the assets you choose to transfer into it. The trustee (typically you) has full power to manage these assets.1 A living trust will also designate a beneficiary, or beneficiaries, much like a will, to whom the assets are structured to automatically pass upon your death. If you create a revocable living trust, you may change the terms of the trust,…

21October
2019
Get Ready for Due Diligence Long Before a Sale or Merger

It may seem odd, but as soon as you start up a business, you should begin preparing the documentation needed to sell or merge with another enterprise. It may be years down the road but the records often required in today’s M&A environment can be overwhelming. If your recordkeeping has been shoddy, it can be difficult or impossible to compile the information wanted by a potential buyer or partner. You don’t want to forgo opportunities just because you didn’t have the necessary paperwork in order. So what kind of information will you be asked for in the due diligence process?…

21October
2019
A House Divided

The latest research suggests that divorce rates in the U.S. have been falling in recent decades. Still, many people face the difficult crossroads that comes when their marriage ends. Or For Worse Studies show that fewer people get divorced during times of recession. University of Maryland Getting a divorce is a painful, emotional process. Don’t be in such a hurry to reach a settlement that you make poor decisions that can have life-long consequences. If divorce is a possibility, here are a few financial ideas that may help you prepare. The most important task you can do is getting your…

19September
2019
Leaving a Legacy for Your Heirs

Despite its name, the term “dynasty trust” has nothing to do with aristocracy. It involves preserving wealth for your heirs. Basic premise: With a dynasty trust, you transfer the assets of a business, real estate or other income-producing property to a trust. Gift tax, estate tax and the generation skipping transfer tax may be avoided on transfers if they are handled properly. Typically, a dynasty trust is set up as an “inter vivos” trust during your lifetime, but it can also be triggered by a provision in your will upon your death. Depending on the exact terms, the income accumulates…

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