Archive for December, 2015

Cheers to a Financially Productive New Year

Posted on December 31, 2015 by Saldutti

Looking to start your New Year with a bang?  Here are 7 simple things you can do to get 2016 off to a solid financial start. Use an online calculator to help you set the right financial goals. The end of the year is a fantastic time to take an assessment of where you stand in terms of your overall financial and retirement savings, and retirement income goals,” said Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies®, a division of the Transamerica Institute®, a nonprofit, private foundation. To help, transamerica.com offers a retirement calculator. Sanity check your investments. Starting a…

2016: What's Ahead for Small Business Lending

Posted on December 30, 2015 by Saldutti

When we look back at small business lending in 2015, bigger has been better for entrepreneurs in search of capital. Along those lines, higher interest rates could ultimately be even better news for business borrowers.  Higher rates will make is more attractive for big banks to ramp up their small business lending portfolio to an even greater extent. According to the latest Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index, the percentage of loan applications approved by big banks reached 22.8%, which marks a post-recession high. Now that the Fed approved an expected interest rate hike, the action would make small business lending more…

5 New Year's Resolutions for Your Finances

Posted on December 29, 2015 by Saldutti

Thanksgiving quickly flew by, Christmas was here and gone, and the next holiday is right around the corner: New Year’s. We typically spend this time contemplating some of the goals we’d like to achieve in the coming year and thinking back to whether or not we met last year’s goals. It’s never too early to start planning ahead to make drastic changes that will finally get your finances back in order. In fact, now is the perfect time to do so, because many of us should be receiving tax refunds and/or employment bonuses.  To help get 2016 off to a…

Consumers Buying Less Expensive Gifts This Year

Posted on December 23, 2015 by Saldutti

Cheap is the new chic for holiday gifts.  More holiday shoppers are expected to change their attitude about gift giving this holiday season – in the latest twist in a theme that has played out since the recession. For nearly a decade, shoppers have been more cautious and practical about their spending, doing more bargain shopping and hunting for deals. But recently, shoppers have taken that practice a step further. They’re becoming more open to buying gifts that in the past might have been considered downright cheap. So, they’re not just looking for big discounts on extravagant, expensive designer and…

Retailers Dreaming of a Late Christmas

Posted on December 22, 2015 by Saldutti

Retailers this week are wishing for a late Christmas – as in a holiday where everyone waits until the last minute to shop. Stores around the country need a strong finish to make up for weakness at the beginning of the shopping season. Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, typically a top shopping day, drew mixed reviews. Some analysts reported seeing strong sales during their weekend store visits, while others said the day, nicknamed Super Saturday, seemed to be just “so-so.” Ken Perkins, president of retail tracking firm Retail Metrics Inc., said in a report on the weekend’s results that…

Underwriting and Cyber Risk On the Rise

Posted on December 21, 2015 by Saldutti

Credit risk, interest rate risk and cybersecurity concerns pose growing risks, according to a semiannual risk report issued the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.  It found that institutions are continuing to loosen underwriting standards for a number of loan categories to search for yield in a low interest-rate environment. “In the area of credit risk, the warning lights are flashing yellow. Regulators and bank management need to act now to prevent those risks from becoming reality,” said Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry.  “We can’t afford to wait until the warning lights turn red.” The report found that…

Should Auld (Financial) Predictions Be Forgot?

Posted on December 18, 2015 by Saldutti

We all know the old saying: Time in the market, not market timing.  But as the year comes to an end, and the New Year financial predictions come rolling in, it could be a good time to remind clients: Nobody can predict the sometimes irrational financial markets. Stay the course. If clients start to make too much of the annual predictions parade in the financial press, it might help to take a look back at last year’s predictions. According to forecasters, interest rate hikes were overdue and coming as early as mid-year, and some were calling for advances in global…

EMV: The Chip Matters

Posted on December 17, 2015 by Saldutti

There have been numerous articles recently written on whether cards with newer EMV chip technology should be paired with a signature or PIN.  The articles always suggest that PINS are necessary for added security.  However, there is a key factor in the debate that is often overlooked:  neither is the most important defense against fraud. It’s the chip that matters. Whether a card with Europay MasterCard Visa technology is accompanied by a PIN or a signature, the new computer chips embedded in credit cards are an important security upgrade that better protect consumers’ financial data. The chip replaces the consumer’s…

Threats to Financial Stability on the Rise

Posted on December 16, 2015 by Saldutti

Risks on Wall Street and in the finance sector are rising, researchers for the federal government warned yesterday.  Among the problem areas are increasingly risky corporate bonds and unintended consequences of new regulations imposed on banks, according to a new report on financial markets by the Office of Financial Research. “Overall, threats to U.S. financial stability remain moderate, in other words, in a medium range, but they edged higher within that range over the past year,” Office of Financial Research Director Richard Berner said in announcing the report.  The report is the first of its kind but will be published…

What You'll Need to Earn to Buy a Home in These 27 Cities

Posted on December 15, 2015 by Saldutti

Mortgage information website HSH.com. recently released a list of salaries required to buy a home in the 27 largest metropolitan areas in the country. Of the cities, San Francisco was the priciest place to own a home, and Pittsburgh was the most affordable.  The survey uses the National Association of Realtors’ 2015 third-quarter data for median-home prices and HSH.com’s third-quarter average interest rate for 30-year, fixed rate mortgages to determine the salary needed to afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance necessary to buy a home. The figures are based on a 20% down payment. In cities like San Francisco, where the median-home price…