Archive Search

Advanced Search

×

Warning

JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 2549

Search results
As homeowners across the United States continue to struggle to stay in their homes, lenders and investors have taken different approaches in response to the crisis. As of January 31, more than 1.3 million homeowners have received a permanent modification on their mortgage through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The U.S. Treasury Department reports these homeowners have saved an estimated $25.5 billion in their monthly mortgage payments since the program went into effect. Jorge Newbery’s view of the program’s accomplishments isn’t as rosy. “HAMP is (President) Obama’s plan to assist families,” says Newbery, founder and CEO of American Homeowner…
Interviewed by Dustin S. Klein If you take a tour of Life Fitness with Chris Clawson, you may find yourself answering questions that you wouldn’t expect to be asked on a tour of a company that makes exercise equipment. For instance, he’ll probably want to know if you have a favorite wine or if you’ve ever visited a winery. “I say, ‘How many of you think the wine tasted the same after you visited the winery?’” says Clawson, president at Life Fitness. “And they all shake their heads no because it tastes different. You get to meet the vintner, go…
Companies that have health insurance plans with low deductibles can save money by increasing the deductible, and then use some of the savings to ensure employees aren’t harmed by the change. “If you go from a fairly rich deductible of $250 to $2,500, the insurance carrier will provide you discounts of 25 to 35 percent in premium reductions,” says Dan Wilke, Vice President of Underwriting and Statistical Analysis at Benefitdecisions, Inc. “But if you tell employees their plan changed from a $250 to a $2,500 deductible, that’s a PR nightmare. Instead, you can create a health reimbursement account (HRA) or…
Businesses are familiar with the notion that written employment contracts can be a source of rights and liabilities in the event of a split with an executive employee. However, businesses are often not as familiar with other potential sources of employment liability in those situations, including the Wage Payment and Collections Act, sometimes called the Wage Payment Act. Smart Business spoke with John Haarlow Jr., an attorney at Novack and Macey LLP, to discuss the relationship between this statute and executive compensation. What is the act and why is it important? Generally speaking, the Wage Payment Act requires Illinois employers…
Business operations are subject to a number of internal and external risks, as are ownership interests in businesses. How organizations and their owners address these risks can have a significant impact on the value of businesses and interests therein. An enterprise risk management (ERM) process involves identifying risks relative to an organization’s objectives, assessing them for likelihood and impact, developing a response strategy and monitoring progress. A well-defined ERM process framework can protect and create value for organizations and their owners. Smart Business spoke with John T. Alfonsi, managing director at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC, about how ERM precesses can…
Rick Fezell gets it. Why else would he jump into the icy waters of Lake Michigan in the middle of January? As the new managing partner for EY’s Midwest Region, Fezell wanted to show everyone that there was another side to his personality than just being the boss. He was willing to step out of his comfort zone and do something that a lot of people think is completely crazy. But as much as his polar plunge got everyone talking, it’s the more subtle actions taken by Fezell that demonstrate his understanding of what it means to be a strong…
With margin pressures, cost reductions and ongoing economic uncertainty on most corporate agendas, a company’s supply chain has become a key driver of growth. The relationship between the supply chain and senior finance leaders is more important than ever as C-suite executives work to build a cost-effective operating model. Yet, in “Partnering for Performance: CFO and the Supply Chain,” a recent EY survey that looks at the impact on the business when the CFO and chief supply chain officers collaborate, only one-quarter of finance executives describe their relationship with their supply chain counterparts as a true business partnership. Worse, only…
Do these terms sound familiar? ■ Vision ■ Strategy ■ Quality ■ Mission ■ Commitment Come on, you can admit it. Aren’t there times when corporate-speak makes you nauseous? Don’t get me wrong; I live in the corporate world. It’s from there where my bread is buttered and bills are paid. Yet, those running the big businesses often forget what the keys for optimizing success are, thus garnering less than stellar results. The construction of a high-performance team needs to be centered on the how. Having worked intensely with executive teams in the last five years, we take an unconventional…
John Kalanik, Jim Chappell and Tony Maurer brought a lot of engineering experience to the table when they launched InStep Software in the mid-1990s. In those early days, the company’s co-founders focused on solving engineering problems with software solutions. “The Internet was really starting to take off,” says Kalanik, the company’s president. “We knew there was an underserved market for the development of engineering software. Initially, we focused on consulting projects for companies in the telecommunications, power and utility industries; many of these projects resulted in the development of a specific commercial software application. “This provided us with the experience…
Small and midsize companies are increasingly looking to outsource HR functions in order to focus on core operations and growing the business. “Companies have been moving that way as HR has become more complex — it’s no longer an HR person sitting in an office planning parties. There are complicated employee and compliance issues to address,” says Liz Howe, Director of Business Development at Benefitdecisions, Inc. “There are so many different laws being passed at the state and federal level that it can be a challenge for any HR team to keep up,” Howe says. Smart Business spoke with Howe …
When you’re looking to build your team in business, it’s only natural to look toward your friends and family for both money and time. Friends and family are the ones who stick with you through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship — from that first customer to the cash crunch. Fortunately, when starting cleverbridge, I didn’t need my friends’ money. I did, however, need their time, and I decided to hire a few of them early on in our company’s journey. There are some obvious dangers that come into play when hiring people you know: You risk ruining personal friendships…
The goal of any incident response is to minimize the impact of a negative event on an organization’s objectives. This involves responding to an incident as quickly and efficiently as possible, making good decisions to limit further damage and repair any damage that has been done. In order to accomplish this, an organization should have a corporate response plan (CRP) in place that is ready to go at a moment’s notice. A CRP typically includes an oversight committee that will design the CRP and oversee the work of the corporate response teams. Smart Business spoke with James Martin, managing director…
Restaurants, hotels and other hospitality companies that have not traditionally offered health insurance benefits to employees are struggling to meet the mandate to provide a plan or face penalties starting in 2015 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That need has prompted the insurance industry to respond with cost-effective strategies to help companies with low-wage employees avoid some of the penalties for not providing health insurance coverage. “There are gaps in the regulations that have allowed the insurance industry to create products to address this issue,” said Daniel L. Meracle, a partner at Benefitdecisions, Inc. Smart Business spoke with Meracle…
Leaders who execute well are more likely to add to the bottom line, be on the fast track to success and earn additional growth opportunities. One particular cohort of leaders I worked with recently identified experts across their company, interviewed them and summarized the critical skills of execution that emerged from the discussions. These critical skills of execution include: Know the vision and strategy Successful execution begins with knowing the end goal and establishing a clear strategy to achieve it. Planning and preparation are key factors, but take care to not overcommit, which may lead to discouragement and burnout among…
Strategic succession is essential in every work group within an organization, not just CEOs. It touches all aspects of the business: family ownership responsibilities, boards, executive teams, management teams, work groups and even new employee on-boarding. Here are six key areas that make up a complete and successful succession at any level. The transfer of knowledge, skills and abilities The first step in succession is to systematically move competency to the next generation of owners, leaders, managers and workers. This is done through targeted education, new work experiences, exposure to positive and negative results, individual coaching and thoughtful mentoring. Keep…
Ohio is now viewed as one of the leading states in the asset protection arena, thanks to the passage of the Ohio Legacy Trust Act, says Marcia Kendle, Senior Vice President and Chief Fiduciary Officer at FirstMerit Bank. The law, which went into effect March 27, 2013, as part of Ohio House Bill 479, allows for the creation of self-settled irrevocable trusts – also known as domestic asset protection trusts (DAPTs). These trusts permit the transferor of assets to also be the beneficiary of the trust. An Ohio DAPT provides a high level of protection from creditors dependent upon certain…
When trying to learn about an individual, many companies turn to online background checks. However, this could be a mistake as much of the available information may not be fully verified, which is why many businesses turn to a licensed investigator to help provide a more complete and accurate picture. Smart Business spoke with Theresa Mack, CPA, CFF, CAMS, CFCI, PI, a senior manager at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC, about working with a licensed investigator to help your business uncover the information you need.Why hire a licensed investigator? Most online or database-driven background checks are actually ‘record checks.’ In other…
Problems with the launch of the federal health insurance exchange website are removing it as an option for many employers and employees this year. “How can I advise someone whether to enroll in an employer plan or buy from the exchange when I can’t get on the exchange to make a comparison before the employer’s open enrollment period is up? For the 33 states with a federal hand in operating the exchange, it’s nearly impossible to get any data,” says Paul J. Baranowski, CLU, ChFC, team leader in Account Management at Benefitdecisions, Inc. Smart Business spoke with Baranowski about strategies…
When all the dollars and cents were added up for 2012, cleverbridge’s revenue topped $363.5 million — and co-founder Craig Vodnik realized the company had come a long way from when he answered phone calls in his Chicago basement. “I was also out prospecting for new leads and new business, so I would do that when I wasn’t answering the phone,” Vodnik says. “We didn’t have venture capital or angel investors, so we bootstrapped it ourselves.” Cleverbridge is a full-service e-commerce provider for companies that sell software and software as a service. “Cleverbridge was launched because my partners and I…
The greatest impediment to the successful resolution of a commercial dispute is the failure of both clients and attorneys to understand and think adequately about the extent, nature and amount of damages at issue in the dispute, says Eric N. Macey, partner at Novack and Macey LLP. “While clients will invest huge amounts of time and money to focus on the merits of a case to prove they are ‘right,’ they either ignore or fail to give the same consideration to damages issues,” he says. Yet, in order to resolve the dispute, management needs to properly evaluate damages so they…
Challenging times present opportunities for organizations to perform detailed assessments of their operations. Performing operational assessments can help organizations identify, mitigate and take advantage of the risks that they face. These assessments focus on process design and execution risks. “When properly performed, operational assessments identify areas where process design and execution risks are not aligned with an organization’s risk tolerance,” says James P. Martin, a managing director at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC. Smart Business spoke with Martin to learn more about operational assessments.How can operational assessments help? Organizations must achieve a diverse set of strategic objectives. This is accomplished by…
Facebook recently rolled out its Graph Search feature to all users of its English version in the U.S. The feature is designed to allow individual users to access Facebook’s “graph,” an enormous store of user information previously available only to paid advertisers. Graph Search allows users to query Facebook for users who match specific criteria, such as “people who like dogs and live in Houston” or “companies whose employees like hiking.” Search results are displayed as a list, including profile photos/images of people and companies. The results screen also provides suggestions to enhance the results. Graph Search results are based…
Approximately 60 percent of the U.S. commercial population is self-funded today, and as health care premiums continue to rise under fully insured plans, self-funding looks to become even more attractive. However, many employers don’t realize how much self-funded health insurance has evolved with strategies and plans designed to help control costs. “Self-funding does not look the same as it did just a few years ago,” says Mark Haegele, director of sales and account management at HealthLink. Smart Business spoke with Haegele about how self-funding fits into health care today. What’s driving the increase in self-funded health insurance? Health insurance premiums…
On Aug. 13 the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) exposed proposed changes to the standard auditor’s report that have the potential to impact the relationship between auditors and their clients. “Practitioners, issuer entities and attorneys dealing with accountants’ liability matters should all understand the implications of the proposed changes,” says Barry Jay Epstein, Ph.D., CPA, CFF, a principal at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC. Smart Business spoke with Epstein about the changes and their impact.What are the main proposed changes to the auditor’s report? The proposal most likely to generate controversy is that which requires identification of what the auditors…
Is the confidential information on your network safe? That’s a question every organization should ask itself because network security breaches are common and becoming even more prevalent. Kristen Werries Collier, a partner with Novack and Macey LLP, says organizations must acknowledge this risk and vigilantly monitor and evaluate their cybersecurity safeguards and protocols to minimize it. Smart Business spoke with Collier about network security breaches and the steps companies can take to mitigate or eliminate them. How common are enterprise security breaches? Most large and midsize companies have confronted a cyberattack at some point. Network security attacks are a reality…
With increased regulatory demands and constant threats of fraud and misconduct, businesses have to watch their backs, especially when it comes to finances. In many cases, having a traditional accountant is not enough. Instead, you may need someone who has not only accounting skills, but investigative and analytical skills as well. In other words, you need a forensic accountant. “Forensic accounting enables business owners to get control over possible financial fraud and mismanagement and, more importantly, to deter it before it occurs,” says James P. Martin, CMA, CIA, CFE, managing director at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC. He says forensic accountants…
How can your company improve its business results? One way is by optimizing your firm’s use of patents. The right strategies for leveraging patent properties can provide long-term advantages and a leg up on the competition. The following strategies are useful starting points for enhancing business outcomes through patents: Consider patents’ financial qualities The same analytical constructs that apply to financial asset management can be applied to patent management. When managing financial assets, it is prudent to consider things like expected future cash flows, return on investment and relative risk profile. Understanding this information helps businesses with limited resources to…
Page 1 of 4