Monthly Archives: June 2014

2014
06/30

Category:
Finance

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Eugene high school graduate to testify before US Senate Finance Committee …

Amber Lee was such a diligent student at Willamette High in Eugene that she has been admitted toPortland State Universitys honors program to major in biochemistry on her way to becoming a doctor.

But her mother barely earns enough to support the two of them and their savings is nil.

So how does Portland State expect a student like her to afford the $23,000 yearly cost of tuition, fees, room and board?

On top of $1,000 in scholarships shes won and the maximum $7,700 in federal and state financial aid, Portland State didnt award her a dime.

She is expected to pay the remaining $14,300 by taking out loans — just for freshman year.

So Lee is taking whatever actions she can. She is working 36 hours a week atDairy Queen and putting 90 percent of her $9.10 hourly pay toward college.

And, Tuesday morning, she is testifying beforethe Senate Finance Committee in hopes of helping prompt Congress to change policies to help low-income students like her better afford college without taking on crippling levels of debt.

Plenty of other incoming college freshmen could tell similar tales of scary college costs and loan amounts. But Lee lives in Oregon, home to new Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, who visited Willamette High in 2013.

And her situation stands out as one of the bleakest among Willamette students who knocked it out of the park during high school and are star college material.

Portland State simply doesnt have enough scholarship money to help all the deserving students who need it, says spokesman Scott Gallagher. The school is working hard, with some success, to get donors to endow more scholarships for students like Lee, he said.

Until she flew to Washington, DC, Monday to get ready to testify, Lee had never been on a plane. She found it amazing to fly into the nations capital and see the famous monuments and buildings from the air, she said.

The committee meeting begins at 7 am Pacific Time and can be watched via a livestream.

Lee said she mainly plans to share her story but will also suggest some steps she believes the federal government could take to help, including expanding loan forgiveness, limiting interest rates on student loans and expanding financial aid.

Wyden, the committee chair, has his own ideas, which including changing the tax code and better publicizing tax credits already available to help defer some families college costs.

According Lindsey Held Bolton, press secretary for the committee, Wyden wants Congress to:

  • Simplify the tax code: Its time to make education tax credits easier to understand and use, Wyden says. Theres an overgrown web of more than a dozen tax incentives that families and students have to navigate. The menu should be stronger and simpler.
  • Encourage, and limit barriers, to saving: Wyden wants to make it as easy as possible for low-income families to save, and be rewarded for saving.
  • Improve awareness: There is no simple college savings guide for new parents. And, Wyden says, student aid forms steer kids toward loans without even mentioning tax benefits that would lower their debt. As a result, families often leave tax benefits on the table. Wyden wants officials to do more to make sure college students and their parents know what is available.

— Betsy Hammond

2014
06/30

Category:
Revenue

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Jordan: Kansas tax revenue to stabilize by end of June

$310 MILLION BUDGET SHORTFALL

Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan said the state will turn the corner in June after a two-month revenue crash of $310 million.

He insists the primary culprit is investor reaction to federal tax policy — not Gov. Sam Brownbacks income tax cuts.

Jordan rejects speculation the state is delaying income tax refunds to temporarily boost the treasury.

2014
06/28

Category:
Secured Financing

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Wells Fargo Capital Finance Agents $150MM Ares’ Acquisition of Keltic Deal

Wells Fargo Capital Finance, part of Wells Fargo Company, announced its Lender Finance group was administrative agent and lead arranger for a $150 million senior revolver for ACF FinCo I LP, an affiliate of Ares Management, LP (“Ares”).

Ares is a leading global asset manager with approximately $74 billion of assets under management as of December 31, 2013.  Ares recently acquired the assets of Keltic Financial Services LLC and Keltic Financial Partners II, LP (together, “Keltic”), a privately-held commercial finance company that provides asset-based loans to small and middle market companies.  Ares plans to use the acquisition of Keltic as a platform to expand its commercial finance business. 

“Wells Fargo has strong relationships with Ares and Keltic so it was a pleasure to be able to provide the funding needed for this acquisition,” said Andrea Petro, executive vice president and division manager for Lender Finance at Wells Fargo Capital Finance “We look forward to working with them as their businesses continue to grow.”
 
Wells Fargo Capital Finance is the trade name for certain asset-based lending services, senior secured lending services, accounts receivable and purchase order finance services, and channel finance services of Wells Fargo Company and its subsidiaries, and provides traditional asset-based lending, specialized senior and junior secured financing, accounts receivable financing, purchase order financing and channel finance to companies across the United States and internationally.

See related story:  Ares Management Enters Commercial Finance With Keltic Financial Acquisition

2014
06/28

Category:
Finance

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Industrializing Finance Operations For Faster View Of Results

Financial firms such as banks, insurance companies and reinsurers will be able to close their books faster and deliver more reliable financial data earlier with Accenture’s Finance Transformation Solution developed for the SAP HANA platform.

At the end of a quarter, this will drastically reduce the effort, said Steve Culp, senior managing director of Accenture Finance and Risk Services.

“In many institutions, by the time of numbers get to sign-off, the amount of time left to really analyze and understand the [firm’s] direction is short. With Accenture’s Finance Transformation Solution, we have much more solid numbers earlier in the process, so the questions you can ask and analysis you can drive are much more robust.”

The modular solution contains accounting, sub-ledgers, reporting and controlling systems designed for banking, insurance and reinsurance firms.

Why would any firm need this when they have Excel spreadsheets, usually lots of them? Those multiple spreadsheets are part of the problem because organizing them and reconciling numbers is time-consuming. With the Accenture solution, said Culp, a lot less offline work will be needed and the close can be accomplished with a high level of straight-through processing. Time to close varies by firm, but it often can be weeks while with the Accenture solution it should be days.

The time required to close varies by institution, and each has its own definition of what constitutes the close, Culp added, regrettably not offering names of specific institutions.

“The value here for our clients is they are asking for more solid results before the final ticking and tying; they don’t want to see major changes in the final numbers. A number of big institutions that have gone through multiple acquisitions have multiple processes running and they have been waiting until very late in the process to have a true understanding, which puts a lot of pressure on them from investor relations to analysts. With this, you have clarity early in the process.”

SAP’s HANA with its in-memory processing, has the ability to do calculations around liquidity and analytics close to real-time, while Accenture offers rigor around the quality, timeliness and level of clean and reliable data coming in, he added.

When it comes to industrializing its processes, financial services is following other industries, Culp said.

By providing pre-configured technical solutions for re-use, the Accenture solution reduces the number of days required for configuration and integration by 20 to 30 percent.

“Industrializing is really simplifying the processes and making them more common, the way that you operate your finance risk processes across geographies and across business units.”

The goal should be the most simple process possible, with fewer moving parts and the entire process codified in technology so financial firms can get away from a multitude of reconciliations and asset allocations which skew performance measures, he added.

Anne-Cecile Hondeville, chief information officer at, Natixis Global Asset Management International, said the Accenture solution “brings common processes tailored for our industry, which we can leverage to get through the implementation more quickly and with more confidence.

2014
06/28

Category:
Finance

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Canada Consumer Confidence Falls on Finance Worries

Canadian consumer confidence fell
for a third week, as optimism about personal finances dimmed to
the lowest in almost a year.

The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index fell to 58.5
through June 20 from 58.7 the week before. The percentage of
respondents who said their personal finances had improved over
the past year fell to 17.0, the lowest since August.

Consumers are being pinched by increases in the costs of
gasoline, food and electricity this year, pushing inflation to a
two-year high. Crude oil costs have jumped because of fighting
in Iraq that has created concern about future supplies.

The slide in consumer confidence is “primarily related to
the state of personal finances,” said Nik Nanos, chairman of
Nanos Research Group. That gauge “is currently scraping a 12-month low and is also below the six-year average,” he said.

Consumer prices advanced 2.3 percent in May from a year
ago, the fastest pace since February 2012, Statistics Canada
reported June 20. Energy costs advanced at an annual 8.4 pace
for a second month.

The US, the world’s largest economy and consumer of about
three quarters of Canada’s exports, is starting to move “on the
road to reasonably solid recovery,” Finance Minister Joe Oliver
said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in London. Oliver
said he expects his country’s inflation rate to be around the 2
percent target set by the Bank of Canada.

Job Security

The survey-based Nanos index has two sub-indexes. The
Pocketbook Index, based on responses to questions about personal
finances and job security, fell to 58.9 last week from 59.3 in
the last survey, the lowest since the beginning of February. The
percentage of respondents who said they are “not at all
secure” in their jobs rose to a three-month high of 8.2
percent, from 7.4 percent the week before.

The Expectations Index rose slightly to 58.2. The share of
Canadians who expect the value of real estate to fall in their
neighborhood over the next six months climbed to 12.2 percent
last week from 11.1 percent, with the third straight increase
bringing the reading to its highest since the start of April.
Nineteen percent of people said the economy will be weaker over
the next six months, down from 19.2 percent the week before.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said June 12 that the
biggest domestic risk to the country’s financial system remains
households with stretched consumer finances after a period of
rapid homebuilding. Poloz also predicted a soft landing in the
housing market and progress in Europe’s effort to ease its debt
crisis.

Debt Perils

Other reports last week suggested that consumers are
heeding the message about the perils of debt while they continue
to spend. Statistics Canada said retail sales rose 1.1 percent
in April led by automobiles, the fourth straight increase. The
agency also reported the ratio of household debt to disposable
income fell in the first three months of 2014, the second
straight quarterly decline from last year’s record. Mortgage
borrowing increased at the slowest pace in five years.

“The resilience of Canadian consumers is impressive, more
so considering that elevated gas prices are squeezing household
budgets,” Krishen Rangasamy, senior economist at National Bank
Financial in Montreal, wrote in a client note.

Consumer sentiment may continue to decline as inflation
rises, said Joseph Brusuelas, senior economist at Bloomberg LP,
even with “Poloz’s insistence that the price rise is primarily
due to temporary factors.”

To contact the reporter on this story:
Greg Quinn in Ottawa at
gquinn1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Paul Badertscher at
pbadertscher@bloomberg.net
Chris Fournier

2014
06/27

Category:
Revenue

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9 Revenue Streams You Need to Offer – Now

By Raymond Vrabel

In my April blog post, I discussed several ways to optimize your MSP practice, such as adjusting your pricing model, managing automation and maximizing the best use of your employees. With this months installment, I provide guidance on specific revenue streams to focus on once you have optimized your MSP practice. When it comes to most of the offerings on this list, if you arent offering at least one of these, then one of your competitors will. Any one of these offerings (even if its just security or BDR) is a foot in the door to talk about their IT strategy.

1. 24×7 Proactive Monitoring and Maintenance of Desktops and Servers: This is really a no-brainer and something every MSP should be offering because break/fix isnt as stable, predictable or profitable. If your clients are running 24×7 shops, you need to have a system in place that is reliable and consistent, as standardization and optimization are key. I have spoken with MSPs who previously didnt have 24×7 monitoring because they didnt think their clients needed it. However, with more business being done remotely and after hours, there is really no such thing anymore as a traditional 9-5 operation. If you can only afford to add one of these revenue streams to your value stack, this should be the one. I dont think there is an SMB who has experienced an IT emergency in the middle of the night who wants to wait for the IT guy to show up to the office at 9 am while the dental office tries to figure out what appointments they have coming in and how theyll send patient information to the insurance agency.

2. Mobile Device Management: As BYOD becomes more prevalent within SMBs, MSPs need to manage these devices more so than ever, especially as people become more connected, and everyone is bringing their own PCs, smartphones and tablets into the workplace. For instance, do you have a plan in place to locate lost/stolen devices and to wipe their data once they are reported by the employee? Also, what about control policies and malicious programs entering your network? Do you have a protocol to deal with these types of attacks? This is happening more and more, particularly as malicious viruses and threats are on the rise. Because of compliance, particularly in highly sensitive verticals like healthcare and financial services, you need to manage those tablets and phones.

3. Cloud: Last months blog written by colleague Paiman Nodoushani (Continuums CTO amp; vice president of engineering) discussed why cloud is an evolution and not a revolution. I agree with Paimans assessment and would add that the cloud has arrived and is here to stay. As a competitive MSP, have a strategy and the talent, as well as a vendor partner, to help you deliver this technology. Even if your clients arent using cloud, you should be discussing it with them and getting them familiar with this alternative. A good time to discuss this is when warranties are up for renewal and/or when its time for a hardware refresh. Its also a good topic to bring up during regular business reviews.

Other thoughts regarding the cloud include: hosted servers, hosted desktops and hosted apps; for instance Office 365, which houses all of your apps (Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel) in the cloud for easy retrieval, as well as document sharing and collaboration. Have an in when it comes to the cloud, accomplished by partnering with the right vendor that can help you define this offering.

4. Service Desk/Help Desk: Another revenue stream is 365x24x7 service desk support for clients PCs, tablets and other mobile devices. Every end user needs some type of support, and if you give them the best experience, they help sell your value to the CFO/CEO on why the company needs to utilize your IT services. This translates back to mobile device management; if you arent monitoring your devices, then it becomes hard to help someone if you dont have control over their other devices. Its very hard to troubleshoot email problems when you only support the email client or phone.

5. Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR): This is a no-brainer and in my top 3 on this list. As an MSP, lead with BDR as your foot in the door because its self-explanatory you need to backup and protect your data its something that all SMBs (as business owners) understand and are concerned about. Data is sacred, and so is protecting it. Uptime allows you to make money, while downtime causes you to lose money. BDR also offers solid margins, making it easy to sell and justify, especially as data continues to grow and as seasonal occurrences such as hurricanes and tornadoes become more prevalent. This is a very sensitive area, and most people dont realize how important it is to have a BDR plan until its too late. Educate your clients, and get them a BDR solution. I have seen some partners make this standard practice and part of their core offering because it also saves the MSP time and money in disaster situations.

6. Security: The recent Heartbleed Bug and CryptoLocker viruses are reinforcing why security management and protection is another revenue stream I would recommend you have. Similar to BDR, lead with security solutions, particularly if clients are in data-sensitive verticals like health care or financial services. Your clients are seeing security threats everywhere from their email companies, to financial institutions getting hacked, to their favorite department stores being compromised. They are aware of the threats, and they know they are real. Spam protection, email encryption and HDD encryption are all relatable and have a high-value offering. Security is also a topic that everyone needs to be aware of not just those in the SMB world especially as they hear of new threats cropping up every week. This is another item that should be mandatory in your value stack.

7. File Sync and Share: With BYOD, compliance measures and corporate IP, advise your clients to use a business-grade file sync and share platform. It doesnt have to be complicated clients want something that works, is easy to use, allows them to collaborate, is secure and manageable easy like their BDR offering. There should be one, centralized system that employees can access. You dont want a situation where employees are storing and accessing company data from a personal online storage platform. Similar to BYOD, there is no way of controlling the environment after they leave, or if a device is lost or stolen. Email is not the way to transfer important and secure files. It really needs to be done via a regular file sync and share platform thats encrypted and safe, and where users are not mixing in their personal accounts.

8. Managed Print/Managed VoIP: New opportunities for a fully managed services platform are becoming more prevalent, mainly because with this type of offering, you can provide on-time delivery, notifications and assistance with printers because its all part of your managed IT packages. Most managed print and VoIP providers are moving into managed services, or (as they call it) managed network services, as hardware sales and profits dwindle. Partner with a vendor that allows on-time deliverables of consumables like paper and toner, which maybe you werent able to charge for before. This is important to remember, especially because you cant rely on hardware sales alone anymore.

9.Sell Yourself! The bottom line is to promote not only what you offer your clients from a technology perspective, but also to promote yourself and your expertise as the MSP. Present yourself as the CIO, CTO or as some often use, trusted business technology adviser on all technology issues. As Michael George, CEO of Continuum, recently pointed out on a Power Panel at Autotask Community Live, Trust is something you earn, not something you sell. This includes helping your clients to incorporate technology plans that support your overall business strategy and goals, as well as ensuring they are getting the best bang for their buck, and the best technology investments for their business. Be the one whos responsible for helping them to achieve and maintain high ROIs as well as regulatory compliance, document SOPs and workflows. Strive to be all things IT; own it, manage it and it will create a strong relationship and profitable client.

Raymond Vrabel is Continuums director of Technical Account Management and participates in product and service growth initiatives. He manages Continuums Technical Account Management team which supports more than 3,300 partners worldwide. Vrabel has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in managed IT services, disaster recovery and cloud solutions. Follow him on Twitter: @rayvrabel.

2014
06/27

Category:
Revenue

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Biotech R&D spending outpaces revenue growth-report

June 24 (Reuters) – For the first time since the global financial crisis began in mid-2007, spending by biotechnology companies on research and development grew at a faster rate than revenue, according to consulting firm Ernst Young.

Revenue at companies in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia rose 10 percent last year from 2012, the report said. It noted that nearly all of that growth came from 17 US-based companies with annual revenue of over $500 million.

The analysis, timed to coincide with the annual BIO International Convention in San Diego, found that 2013 spending on research and development of biotech drugs rebounded by 14 percent from 2012, mainly due to a 20 percent rise in US spending.

That RD uptick hurt net income, which dropped by $8 million to an industry-wide $791.8 billion year over year.

A soaring stock market – the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index rose 65 percent in 2013 – helped secure a sharp rise in funding for biotech companies in North America and Europe. EY reports that $31.6 billion was raised in 2013, compared with $28.7 billion in 2012. Fifty biotechs debuted on the public markets last year.

The total value of mergers and acquisitions involving US or European biotechs reached $55.7 billion last year, more than double 2012s total. But two of the biggest deals involved nontraditional buyers: laboratory equipment maker Thermo Fisher Scientific Incs $13.6 billion acquisition of Life Technologies and privately-held Perrigos $8.6 billion buyout of Elan Pharmaceuticals.

To unlock additional value from their drug development pipelines, EY said biotech companies need a better return on RD spending. The consultancy suggested more collaboration between companies, designing clinical trials to adapt to early findings and a greater focus on drugs that target specific biomarkers or genetic mutations.

(Reporting By Deena Beasley)

2014
06/27

Category:
Revenue

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Khata faked to change status of hundreds of revenue sites

BANGALORE: In 2009, P Hanume Gowda who worked as a manager with a private company purchased a 1,250 sq ft revenue site for Rs 10 lakh from a realtor at Vidyaranyapuram, near Yelahanka, north Bangalore. Post retirement, Gowda decided to pool in all his savings and build his dream home but fell short of Rs 5 lakh.

He desperately tried to raise loans from various banks. But his application was rejected on the ground that his revenue site didnt have the required clearances. Gowda didnt lose heart. Instead, with the help of a tout, he approached a BBMP officer in the revenue wing and sealed a murky deal.

The deal was to upgrade his B Khata (certificate without title deeds and deviations) to A Khata (certificate issued for no deviations and property ownership), provided he paid a betterment fee of Rs 2 lakh and service charge (read bribe) of Rs 3 lakh. An elated Gowda agreed to the deal but on the condition that he would pay the money only after raising the bank loan and after the BBMP issues him an A Khata. Gowdas decision was worth the money he spent as the value of the property has increased by about four times since.

2014
06/26

Category:
Finance

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Congress urged to finance earthquake warning system

Congress urged to finance earthquake warning system

They say even such short notice will save countless lives and prevent billions in losses.

2014
06/25

Category:
Finance

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