Raffa Blog
Raffa Blog
Raffa Blog

News & Resources the do more blog​​

  • 7/17/2018 Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 14th

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market — courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC. US stocks rose over the week on strong earnings reports.  The S&P 500 gained 1.5% and the Dow rose 2.3% for the week. Internationally, Japan jumped 3.7% and Europe advanced 0.7% for the week. […]

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market — courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    US stocks rose over the week on strong earnings reports.  The S&P 500 gained 1.5% and the Dow rose 2.3% for the week. Internationally, Japan jumped 3.7% and Europe advanced 0.7% for the week. The yield on the 10-year Treasury finished the week unchanged at 2.83%.

    The CPI rose 0.1% in June over May, while core prices rose 0.2%. Prices are up 2.9% from a year earlier, the fastest pace since 2012.

    Fed Chairmen Powell said the central bank should continue to gradually raise the Fed Funds rate and it was too early to tell how protections trade policies would impact the economy.

    Corporate earnings are expected to post double digit growth for the second quarter with exceptions of 20% growth over a year earlier. Revenue is also expected to do well with an estimated 8.7% growth rate.

    Broadcom agreed to buy software giant CA Technologies for $18.9 billion.

    Wells Fargo’s profit fell 11% driven in part by its past scandals scandals. JP Morgan and Citigroup both posted double digit profit increases, driven by greater borrowing.

    There is no guarantee that any investment strategy, including those described here, will be successful. Any investment or investment strategy can lose money. Past performance does not guarantee or predict future results. You should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Raffa Wealth Management, LLC. This information was gathered from reliable sources but we cannot guarantee accuracy. Indexes do not reflect the fees associated with actual investments and such fees would reduce the performance illustrated.

     

     

     

  • 7/12/2018 Is Your To-Do List a Should-Already-Be-Doing List?

    We all have things we’d like to do but just can’t seem to get around to. Some of them are vague ideas. Some of them have made it all the way on the To-Do list.And then there are those pesky other items: The things we know we should already be doing— but aren’t.The list of […]

    man covered in sticky notesWe all have things we’d like to do but just can’t seem to get around to. Some of them are vague ideas. Some of them have made it all the way on the To-Do list.And then there are those pesky other items: The things we know we should already be doing— but aren’t.The list of reasons for not doing things can be as long as the list of things that need to be done. But often we keep running into the same old roadblock: Lack of time.

    The busy problem

    Ask a friend or coworker how they are. Chances are the answer will be “Busy!”

    We could all use an increase in the number of hours in the day, but because that’s not an option, we end up putting things off. Instead of doing them now, we let them slide down the priority list. Or maybe even ignore them all together.

    Here’s the thing. The excuse of being too busy can quickly disappear when a particular to-do item becomes an urgent priority.

    • That dentist appointment you haven’t scheduled becomes much more of a priority when you can no longer chew your food.
    • Those gym workouts you always plan to start next week become much more of a priority when your doctor says you have high blood pressure.
    • The rattle in your car you’ve been ignoring will become your top priority when smoke starts pouring out from under the hood.

    Unfortunately, the do-it-later mentality doesn’t just play out in our personal lives. It shows up in our work lives as well.

    Is finding the right employee benefits plan your next toothache?

    Is filling that open position feeling like an extra 20 pounds?

    Is that noise you keep ignoring the sound of unhappy employees?

    What is that thing (or list of things) that’s been nagging at you? You know, the important stuff you’d like to do for your business or your team, if only you could make more time in the day?

    Once you’ve identified these key items, you can take a deep breath and move them to the top of your list and commit to doing them.

    Maximize your time. And your results.

    Think about how you spent your precious (and limited!) amount of time last week. Did you get the big, important stuff done or did the little stuff take over?

    What would you feel like today if you had replaced some of those little things with one or two big items that would help move you closer to your goals?

    Would doing these things actually save you time or make your life easier in the long run?

    How would it feel to not have those things hanging over your head?

    You may not believe you have time to tackle the things you’ve been putting off, but the beautiful thing is that you can make time for the things that matter. Block off a few hours on your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself, or better yet, schedule time with someone who can help you accomplish one of your goals.

    Big things happen a little bit at a time. Carve out those little bits each day and see where they take you.

    At Raffa Financial, we provide long-lasting benefits strategies to take care of your business and your employees. Located in Rockville, Maryland, we identify and manage complex employee benefits challenges for businesses all over the greater Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC area.

    Photo by Andrea De Martin

  • 7/3/2018 Are Your Job Descriptions Doing Their Jobs?

    A great job description performs several important functions. It provides appropriate criteria for new hires, structure for current employees, and a basis for conducting performance reviews. And yet how many of us have worked in positions with ridiculously outdated, inadequate or non-existent job description? Yep. Pretty much all of us. Job descriptions are a key […]

    A great job description performs several important functions. It provides appropriate criteria for new hires, structure for current employees, and a basis for conducting performance reviews. And yet how many of us have worked in positions with ridiculously outdated, inadequate or non-existent job description?

    Yep. Pretty much all of us.

    Job descriptions are a key tool in your HR box. Why not sharpen them up and put them to work?

    The benefits

    Having solid job descriptions in place will perform several important functions:

    • Attract the right candidates
    • Define appropriate hiring criteria
    • Communicate roles and expectations
    • Identify areas for training and development
    • Provide structure for new hires and current employees
    • Build a framework for performance management and compensation

    If someone offered you an easy system for accomplishing all of these things, you’d probably jump at it. So why do so many of us let our job descriptions slide?

    The challenges

    One of the things that gets in the way of accurate job descriptions is actually something pretty exciting: growth. This can happen at the organizational and individual levels.

    When business is booming, we tend to focus on production over process. We expand our teams rapidly, convincing ourselves we don’t have time to document all of the details, and that we’ll get to it later.

    Meanwhile, when we hire awesome people, they tend to grow their positions as well. Once they have the basic job down, they want to start learning new skills and taking on more responsibilities. This kind of professional growth can keep the team happy, but it can leave individual job descriptions looking pretty sad.

    HR Managers may also be sad when the time comes to fill a position that no longer has an accurate description attached to it.

    Keeping up to date

    If regularly updating job descriptions isn’t making it to the top of your weekly to-do list, try conducting a yearly job analysis for each position in your organization.

    As a busy HR person, this idea might sound overwhelming. But don’t worry. By no means do you have to analyze all of your positions at once!

    A more manageable approach would be to use employee anniversary dates as a guide. With each passing year, ask each employee a few key questions about their job functions and how they may have changed.

    Examples of Job Analysis Questions:

    • What are your major job responsibilities?
    • Which of these things take up most of your time?
    • Has anything changed in the last year?
      • New tasks?
      • Tasks you are no longer responsible for?
    • Which of these responsibilities are most critical? Least critical?
    • What specific skills and tools do you need to be good at your job?
    • What education and/or personal qualities are necessary to be successful in this role?

    Instituting a regular job description review process will help you maintain an accurate record of each position in your organization, and establish the skills you need to look for when recruiting and hiring employees. The bonus here is that you can also tie this exercise in with any self-evaluation and/or performance management processes you have in place.

    If your company is looking for ways to increase employee engagement, you may also want to consider integrating these yearly job analysis check-ins as part of a stay interview program. Stay interviews are a good way to have career conversations and get valuable feedback from employees while they are on staff— instead of waiting until an exit interview is needed.

    Help your job descriptions help you

    Now is the perfect time to ask yourself, “Are our job descriptions working for us or against us?”

    If they aren’t pulling their weight, it’s time to get to work. Once you develop job descriptions that are well-written, accurate, and up to date, they’ll deliver.

    There’s so much more to employee benefits than policies and premiums. A great benefits broker will make sure you, your employees, and your business are protected. Is your agent looking out for you?

    From Raffa Financial Services.

    Photo by DeGe

  • 6/23/2018 Ep. 29 – What do Maryland companies have to be excited about?

    Tami Howie, CEO, MD Tech Council has lots to share! In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Sharon Tiger, Director of Business Development at Raffa Financial Services talks with Tami Howie, CEO, MD Tech Council about the benefits of being a part of the council.

    Tami Howie, CEO, MD Tech Council has lots to share!

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Sharon Tiger, Director of Business Development at Raffa Financial Services talks with Tami Howie, CEO, MD Tech Council about the benefits of being a part of the council.

    Tami Howie and Sharon Tiger

    If you have any questions about how Raffa Financial Services can help your business, please contact Sharon Tiger at sharon@raffafinancial.com.

    Listen Now

  • 6/21/2018 Ep. 28 – Disaster Recovery vs. Business Continuity

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Nate Solloway, Director of Raffa’s Managed Technology Services and Kerry Mickelson, CIO for Hire, discuss the difference between something happened to my data and I have to stay in business versus something happened to my building and I have to stay in business.

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Nate Solloway, Director of Raffa’s Managed Technology Services and Kerry Mickelson, CIO for Hire, discuss the difference between something happened to my data and I have to stay in business versus something happened to my building and I have to stay in business.

    Listen Now

  • 6/18/2018 Tariffs, Fed’s June Meeting and more

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 16th US stocks were mixed over the week as trade war fears mounted.  The S&P 500 edged up less than 0.1% and the Dow fell 0.9% for the week.  Internationally, Europe gained 1.0% and Japan rose 0.7% for the week.  The yield on the 10-year Treasury remained […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 16th

    US stocks were mixed over the week as trade war fears mounted.  The S&P 500 edged up less than 0.1% and the Dow fell 0.9% for the week.  Internationally, Europe gained 1.0% and Japan rose 0.7% for the week.  The yield on the 10-year Treasury remained at 2.93%.  Oil fell to $65.06 a barrel for its fourth straight weekly decline.

    President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to discuss nuclear disarmament.

    The Trump administration is moving forward with tariffs on Chinese goods within the next week.  China is retaliating against US tariffs with tariffs of their own on US exports.  They will levy 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of US goods to equal the US move.

    At the Fed’s June meeting they voted to raise the fed funds rate a quarter percentage point to a range of 1.75%-2.0%.  It’s the second increase this year and at the meeting they signaled they expected to raise the rate two more times this year. Article

    The ECB said it would end its bond buying program by the end of the year, but that it wouldn’t consider raising rates until September 2019.

    Eurozone growth was 0.4% in the first quarter down from 0.7% in the fourth quarter.

    US retail spending jumped 0.8% in May, the largest increase in six months.

    The Bank of Japan elected to continue with ultra-easy monetary policies.

    A judge approved the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, a historic defeat for the justice department, and sets of the potential for a wave of merger activity in the media industry.

    Tesla announced it was cutting roughly 9% of its workforce.  Article

    In the wake of the AT&T Time Warner judgement Comcast made an unsolicited bid for most of 21st Century Fox’s assets for $65 billion kicking off a bidding war between it and Disney.  Article

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

  • 6/18/2018 Got Excuses? It’s Time to Toss Them Out

    How often have you stuck with the same dentist, bank, mechanic, or other provider because the thought of switching things up seemed more stressful or difficult than settling for the same okay-ish service you’ve been getting?What about your financial advisor? Or your insurance provider? These key consultants can do so much to help your business […]

    taking out the trashHow often have you stuck with the same dentist, bank, mechanic, or other provider because the thought of switching things up seemed more stressful or difficult than settling for the same okay-ish service you’ve been getting?What about your financial advisor? Or your insurance provider? These key consultants can do so much to help your business grow and thrive.

    Or so very little.

    If you’ve been rationalizing your decision to stay with your employee benefits broker, it’s time to get over the fear and drop the excuses.

    Your job is becoming increasingly challenging

    Not to mention critical. As an employer, you have unbelievable responsibilities:

    • You have to help make decisions about your benefit program.
    • You have to communicate details (and value!) to your employees.
    • It’s your responsibility to attract/retain those employees.
    • Often, it’s also your job to keep them engaged and productive.
    • Plus, you have an ever-increasing list of compliance issues to deal with.

    It’s enough to overwhelm even the most seasoned CEO, business owner, or HR professional.

    Deep down, you know there has to be a better way. You KNOW there has to be someone out there who can help make your responsibilities more manageable, your employees happier, and your business more efficient and profitable.

    Maybe you start thinking about all of those “value-added services” your current broker promised, and then it hits you: They haven’t actually delivered on the value they promised.

    You’re not imagining things

    There is a pattern. Lots of brokers out there are setting the performance bar really low. They want you to be satisfied with less steep increases. Or better yet, thrilled with the status quo. They promise to be more proactive, but then you don’t hear from them until it’s renewal time.

    And yet you probably have a few knee-jerk excuses for staying the course. Perhaps you’ve found yourself thinking, “I’d like to change brokers, but…”

    • I don’t want to rock the boat.
    • I’d feel guilty firing my current broker.
    • It would take too much effort to get buy-in.
    • I’m so busy with renewal I don’t have time to think about anything else.
    • I don’t want to waste a bunch of time researching who else might be out there.
    • All insurance people are the same, anyway.

    Your hesitations are understandable. You’re working to do more with less every day. Who has time to even look around, much less commit to one more meeting?

    But at the end of the day, you can’t afford not to be working with the right employee benefits partner.

    It has never been more difficult to create success through your HR/benefit program. And it has never been more critical for you to find the right broker partner to help you achieve the predictable success/results your business needs.

    There are better brokers out there

    And once you start working with one of them, you’ll never want to go back.

    The wrong broker:

    • Walks in assuming they know what you need
    • Wants to give you a free quote
    • Shows you a fancy spreadsheet
    • Brags about relationships with insurance carriers
    • Offers you a set list of “free” services you may not even need
    • Thinks one year at a time
    • Doesn’t tell you how they get paid

    The right broker:

    • Asks a ton of questions
    • Creates strategy for your HR/benefit programs
    • Offers creative benefits packages instead of one-size-fits-all plans
    • Looks for ways to have a positive financial impact on your business operations
    • Wants to make your life easier by streamlining HR administration and processes
    • Brings you specific solutions designed to address your unique business/industry needs
    • Helps you recruit and retain employees and become an employer of choice
    • Is committed to making sure you’re in compliance
    • Thinks long-term and sees the big picture
    • Offers complete transparency with regard to compensation

    If your broker isn’t the right one, it’s time to toss out the excuses and start expecting more.

    Maybe you don’t need to change brokers. Maybe you just need to tell them you want to move beyond finding a policy and develop a true business partnership that will help you achieve the goals above. Invite your broker, and any others you might want to consider, to come in off-renewal to talk about ways to accomplish your critical goals and milestones.

    If your current broker hesitates, takes off running, or makes excuses of their own, you’ll have your answer. It’s time to establish a new normal.

    Tired of working with insurance salespeople who only think one year at a time? Wonder what it would be like to have a broker who looks beyond your annual policy? At Raffa Financial, we’ll provide a corporate employee benefits strategy to help you achieve your long-term your vision. Get in touch to find out how.

     

    Photo by  ljupco

  • 6/9/2018 More Job Openings than Job Seekers

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 9th US stocks rose over the week despite trade tensions.  The S&P 500 gained 1.6% and the Dow advanced 2.8%, for the week.  Abroad, Europe eased 0.5% and Japan surged 2.4%, for the week.  The yield on the 10-year Treasury edged up over the week to finish […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 9th

    US stocks rose over the week despite trade tensions.  The S&P 500 gained 1.6% and the Dow advanced 2.8%, for the week.  Abroad, Europe eased 0.5% and Japan surged 2.4%, for the week.  The yield on the 10-year Treasury edged up over the week to finish at 2.93%. Article

    Business activity in Europe reached its lowest level in a year and a half in May.

    China said it would buy $70 billion of US goods if the US dropped its threated tariffs.

    In April, for the first time since records were kept starting in 2000, there were more job openings than job seekers.  Article

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

  • 6/7/2018 How Are You, Really? Why Busy is a Bad Answer

    Remember when you used to ask someone how they were doing and they would say something like great, fine, or not-so-good? Ask the same thing today and you’re much more likely to hear how hectic everything has been. It seems as though “Busy!” has become the new knee-jerk response to the classic “How are you?” […]

    busy imageRemember when you used to ask someone how they were doing and they would say something like great, fine, or not-so-good?

    Ask the same thing today and you’re much more likely to hear how hectic everything has been. It seems as though “Busy!” has become the new knee-jerk response to the classic “How are you?” question.

    And that’s not a good thing.

    What are we really saying?

    Busy is nothing more than a socially acceptable way of saying “I’m not fine.” Which could mean one or all of the following:

    • I’m stressed
    • I’m exhausted
    • I’m overwhelmed
    • I’m overscheduled
    • I don’t know how I feel
    • I can’t even answer you
    • I’m barely holding it together

    And yet most of us are guilty of responding in this way. The “Busy!” reply pops out of our mouths before we even realize it’s happening. And we all too willingly accept the same answer from others.

    You’re busy? Sure. That makes sense.

    But does it?

    Busy is not fine

    Somewhere along the line, we jumped on the busy bandwagon, buying into the notion that the busier someone is, the more successful they are. And if you’re not busy? Well, you must just be lazy.

    But let’s consider the various definitions of busy, shall we? A quick Google search yields all of the following:

    • Having a great deal to do
    • Not at leisure; otherwise engaged
    • In use by a party or parties and not immediately accessible
    • Cluttered with small, unharmonious details
    • Foolishly or intrusively active
    • Full of distracting detail

    Now let’s stop for a moment and ask ourselves a few key questions:

    Are these the qualities you look for on others? Or aspire to have yourself?

    Does this sound like the kind of person who is able to think things through and make good decisions?

    Would a person with these characteristics make a good manager, leader or employee?

    Do you trust this person with your child, your business, your money, or your health?

    Let’s face it. Our obsession with being busy has gone too far. It’s time to stop confusing busy with productive and overworking with overachieving. These things are not synonymous.

    Reset your expectations

    So how do we go about retraining ourselves (and our teams) to recognize that busy shouldn’t be the new normal? It all starts with you.

    If you currently worship at the busy alter, it’s time to ask yourself why. Do you really perform at a higher level when you’re busier? Or is that when things start slipping through the cracks?

    Don’t fall for the busy-is-better hype. People who work 18 hours a day are not better people. Or more productive employees. In fact, research says they are less focused, less accurate, and more prone to mistakes. Plus, they may not have seen their loved ones in weeks.

    If this is your definition of better, you need come up with a new one.

    Find a new answer

    The next time someone asks you how you’re doing, don’t bust out the busy response. Take a few seconds to re-frame what you are really trying to say.

    • I’m stressed – “I’m taking up yoga to help me relax.”
    • I’m exhausted – “I’m trying to carve out more time for myself.”
    • I’m overwhelmed – “I got a promotion and I’m afraid I’m in over my head.”
    • I’m overscheduled – “I’m good, but I’ve missed our coffee dates!”
    • I don’t know how I feel – “I think I need a personal day.”
    • I can’t even answer you – “We should catch up over lunch.”
    • I’m barely holding it together – “Thanks for asking. I’m a work in progress.”

    Yes, this may take some effort. We’re all so well trained! But a simple self-check-in is the first step in getting back in touch with how you really feel, and how you really are.

    Get less busy

    It’s okay to cut things out of your schedule. The world will not stop spinning if you take some time for yourself. Decide what you are going to give up and let people know when and how it’s happening. You may run into some resistance, but don’t let that stop you. If you want to be less busy, you’ve got to give yourself (and others) permission to let go.

    Having a hard time doing this? Treat it like a very important task.

    • Schedule downtime on your calendar
    • Give it your full, undivided attention (no multi-tasking!)
    • Ask a supportive person to help hold you accountable
    • Reward yourself when you make progress
    • Encourage others to follow your lead

    Still not sure how to break out of the busy cycle? You can find more ideas here and here. After all, a little light reading never hurt anyone.

    So sit down, kick off your shoes, and don’t worry about being busy.

    Just be.

    At Raffa Financial, we provide long-lasting benefits strategies to take care of your business and your employees. Located in Rockville, Maryland, we identify and manage complex employee benefits challenges for businesses all over the greater Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC area.

    Photo by Gino Santa Maria

     

  • 6/4/2018 How Working at Raffa Made Me Healthier! (And Why You Should Care.)

    Imagine joining a company and pursuing a rewarding career— all while becoming the healthiest you! This is what’s happening at Raffa, and it can happen at your business, too. Because our business is so closely tuned into the insurance industry, we see first-hand the impact that employee health has on company insurance premiums. Not only […]

    Imagine joining a company and pursuing a rewarding career— all while becoming the healthiest you! This is what’s happening at Raffa, and it can happen at your business, too.

    Because our business is so closely tuned into the insurance industry, we see first-hand the impact that employee health has on company insurance premiums. Not only do we see this with our clients every day, we see it in our own business as well.

    With over 300 employees, 100% of our company’s medical/pharmacy claims costs drive 100% of our renewal premiums. At one point, the total paid amount of our claims, the number of large claimants, and employee absenteeism had begun to spiral out of control. To address these issues, we decided to change our organizational behaviors in hopes of creating more positive, healthy outcomes, both for our employees and our bottom line.

    And guess what? It worked!

    The Raffa wellness program was implemented in 2015. Through annual biometric evaluation, we quickly identified some of the drivers behind our increased risk.

    Over the last few years, we have seen tremendous success with the program through ongoing promotion, including:

    • Financial incentives for employees via health premium reductions
    • Company-paid weight loss program
    • Free flu shots
    • Onsite yoga
    • Rewards for taking a coworker to work out
    • Company sponsorship of various athletic events throughout the DC metro region

    The results of these efforts have been significant.

    “This focus on wellness over the past has provided many employees with significant weight loss success, has increased presenteeism, and reduced our health insurance premium increases to well below the medical trend.” 

    – Jon Z., VP Group Benefits, Raffa Financial Services

    From business to personal results, these healthy changes have positively affected the health of our organization. More than 75% of our staff indicated they have lost weight, maintained their healthy lifestyle, or are starting their own journey toward better health since becoming a Raffa employee.

    We’re doing more

    In order to get the most out of our efforts, we knew we needed to fully commit to our program. With that commitment in mind, we formed a  wellness committee to keep everyone informed and engaged, not just while we implemented the program or hired a new person, but on an ongoing and consistent basis.

    We promote healthy lifestyles and communities by organizing fun activities to get us moving and to raise awareness (and cash!) for causes we care about. To help keep our Raffa team members happy and energized, we provide an assortment of fruit on a weekly basis, putting employee health at the top of the priority list.

    Our employees are loving it!

    Here is a quick sample of what participating Raffa employees have to say:

    “I knew I needed to get healthier when I realized the way that I saw myself in my mind did not sync with the way I actually looked. I was going through old photos from a friend’s wedding and realized just how overweight I had become. At that point, I decided I had to lose the weight. I don’t think I would have succeeded if I wasn’t working here when I had this realization. Whether it’s fresh fruit days, my company sponsored stand-up desk, or the bevvy of healthy drink options available, Raffa gave me all the tools and support I needed to succeed.”

    – Josh P., IT, Raffa Financial Services (75 pounds lighter on his feet, happily taking the stairs and feeling like the Incredible Hulk!)

    “I decided it was important to take an active step in getting healthy so I could be a better, healthier version of myself, and take better care of my father. Working in an industry focused on health insurance and outcomes, I feel it’s especially important to get and stay healthy to help reduce overall healthcare costs to myself and the company, and ensure the most cost effective/friendly premiums for us in the future. Not to mention, the overall great feeling of being healthy!” 

    – Karyne G., Group Benefits Service Specialist, Raffa Financial Services (energetically making laps around the office to get her steps in each day!)

    And our clients benefit, too!

    Not only do we get to work in an environment of health-conscious employees, we’re also excited to bring healthy solutions to our Raffa clients.

    “We’ve helped facilitate health fairs and flu clinics, conducted educational seminars, and talked about building wellness programs into both insurance plans and company cultures. For example, some insurance carriers will even pay for a portion of your gym membership. Many of our clients are unaware of these things and the difference they can make.” 

    –Jeyalene B., Broker, Raffa Financial Services

    Workplace wellness is a win-win for employees and employers alike. We pride ourselves in providing the best employee benefit solutions while keeping cost down. I like to think we help increase corporate bottom lines while reducing spending— and waistlines!

    We’re living proof

    Wellness at work can start with anyone, and employers who support it by creating an environment that believes in and promotes healthy lifestyles will see an increase in productivity. After all, we are the products of our environment.

    At Raffa, we’ve created one that attracts and retains a healthier, more productive and engaged workforce.

    And we’d love to do the same for you.

    sherlyn-jeyasekeran

    Written by Sherlyn Jeyasekeran, Analyst at Raffa Financial Services

    Sherlyn loves putting together top-notch proposals, presentations and summaries for his clients. He also loves serving on the Raffa Wellness Committee, helping his coworkers achieve their wellness and fitness goals.

    Get in touch with Raffa Financial Services here.

    Reposted from the Raffa Financial Services Blog.  

  • 6/2/2018 May Jobs Report, US Imposed Tariffs and more

    US stocks were broadly higher driven by the strong jobs report and easing of concerns over Italy potentially heading down the path of leaving the euro.  The S&P 500 rose 0.5%, while the Dow was down 0.5% for the week.  Internationally, Europe fell 1.1% and Japan declined 1.2% for the week.  The yield on the […]

    US stocks were broadly higher driven by the strong jobs report and easing of concerns over Italy potentially heading down the path of leaving the euro.  The S&P 500 rose 0.5%, while the Dow was down 0.5% for the week.  Internationally, Europe fell 1.1% and Japan declined 1.2% for the week.  The yield on the 10-year treasury eased over the week ending at 2.90%.  Oil declined 3% to finish at $65.81 a barrel.

    The May jobs report showed 223,000 new employees were added, ahead of expectations.  The jobless rate dropped to 3.8%, the lowest level since April 2000. There were upward revision of 15,000 jobs over the past two months bringing the year to date pace to 207,000.  Wage growth picked up as well, rising a better than expected 2.7%.

    US auto sales rose in May compared to a year earlier, again aided by SUV and truck sales.

    The Trump administration announced it was moving forward with tariffs on Chinese goods surprising many after a deal appeared close.

    Two anti-establishment Italian political parties were able to strike a deal and form a coalition government.

    The US imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the EU.  Each ally threatened retaliation with their own tariffs on US goods.  The movers raise fears of an escalating trade war.

    The Fed designated Deutsche Bank’s US business as being in a “troubled condition.”  The designated had been applied a year ago but just recently came to light.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of wsaw.com

  • 5/31/2018 You Know When to Fire a Bad Employee. But What About a Bad Client?

    All employees are good employees, right? Wrong. As a business owner or HR professional, you can probably  recall plenty of instances when this wasn’t the case and you had to let staff members go.

    All employees are good employees, right? Wrong. As a business owner or HR professional, you can probably  recall plenty of instances when this wasn’t the case and you had to let staff members go.

    The same is true with your clients. Most of them are amazing and fantastic. And if you could simply clone those clients over and over again, things would be grand! But much like employees, not every client is the best fit, and not all of them are good for business.

    Wondering who those clients might be? Here are 4 common client traps to avoid:

    1. The takers

    Takers are high-maintenance clients who feel entitled to excess amounts of time, attention and/or product. These folks seem to think your business exists simply to deliver on their every desire. Nothing you do is ever quite enough for the takers, despite the amount of discounted merchandise or over-and-above service you may provide.

    A taker can come off as harsh and demanding or soft-spoken and sweet, but regardless of their demeanor, they are always asking for something extra. These clients can suck the hours out of the day, the life out of your customer service staff, and the profit out of your profit margin.

    2. The meanies

    Meanies are those clients who feel entitled to treat you and your staff however they like. As if by virtue of being a customer, they have the right to behave as though your employees work for them. These individuals firmly believe the customer is always right, and they aren’t afraid to scream it online or directly at your staff, along with various other unsavory things.

    If your business strategy is to force a smile and indulge the meanies, your employees will quickly internalize the message that you care more about a few caustic clients than you do your own team. Get ready to say goodbye to your best and brightest and hello to the high cost of turnover.

    3. The drama queens

    Who doesn’t love a good drama? Your accountant, that’s who. Drama queens always have a million reasons why they’re late for meetings, late on deadlines, and late on invoices. Drama queens have the most amazing stories. So amazing you may be tempted to ignore the fact that you’re not actually getting paid.

    It’s natural to want to help the drama queens, especially if you’re a good-hearted person or company. But as much as you may want to empathize, at the end of the day, you literally cannot afford to do business with people who aren’t paying you. Unless you can. In which case, feel free to give away as much of your time, product and services as you like!

    4. The big fish

    The big fish is that client who provides a disproportionately large chunk of your overall revenue. And knows it. And uses it against you.

    Big fish assume they have earned the right to special privileges, and will ask for and expect things that are well outside the norm. If you try to say no, your big fish will threaten to take their business elsewhere, setting your entire team into a panic.

    Big fish may seem great from a revenue perspective, but they can easily hold your business hostage, keeping you so wrapped up in meeting their demands that you don’t have the time, energy or resources to bring on additional clients who could add to (and help diversify!) your revenue stream. Which makes you even more dependent on the big fish. This is a dangerous game. If your revenue is largely dependent on a few key clients, one big fish can literally bring down your entire business.

    Additional warning signs

    Not all toxic clients will fall into neat little categories. If you’re wondering how to determine if a client is doing more harm than good, here are some things to look for:

    Client Toxicity Test: Do you have clients who…

    • Ignore your advice
    • Treat your staff poorly
    • Neglect to pay invoices
    • Fail to respond to requests
    • Seem incapable of listening
    • Make unreasonable demands
    • Suck the life out of your team
    • Continually argue about pricing
    • Refuse to appreciate your efforts
    • Consistently get sent to voice mail

    If the answer is yes to two or more of these questions for any one client, you’ve got potential for serious trouble.

    What now?

    Letting go of customers may seem completely counter-intuitive, but the simple truth is that toxic clients and behaviors will only hurt your business. Revenue gained from these kinds of accounts can be quickly offset by the costs associated with increased stress levels and reduced employee productivity, morale, and retention.

    When it comes to saying goodbye to most toxic clients, the formula is pretty straight forward:

    • Be professional (No bridge burning necessary)
    • Politely explain the situation (Cite specific examples)
    • State that you will no longer be working with them (Don’t leave it up for debate)
    • Set expectations of what happens next (Any refunds, expiration dates, etc.)
    • Make referrals as needed (Go ahead, send them to your competitors!)

    Firing a big fish may be considerably more difficult, as you will need to consider the following:

    • How will you operate without that revenue?
    • How will you replace that revenue moving forward?

    These are valid concerns, but they don’t necessarily need to prevent you from cutting your big fish loose. The harsh reality is that these clients can choose to sever the relationship at any time, for any reason. You need to be thinking about these things already.

    Firing clients is difficult, but sometimes it just needs to be done. Once you’ve identified who needs to go and let them down gently, you may be surprised at the enormous wave of relief you feel— and the amount of time you have to put back into improving your business.

    Get in touch with Raffa Financial Services here.

    Reposted from the Raffa Financial Services Blog.  

    Photo by alphaspirit

  • 5/30/2018 Ep. 27 – Navigating Change – Impact on Our Mission

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Karen Schuler, Managing Director at Raffa is joined once again by Tony Cancelosi, President and CEO of Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind. Change is ever present, we see it happening quickly.  Join Karen and Tony as they discuss how change impacts our organizations and our missions.

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Karen Schuler, Managing Director at Raffa is joined once again by Tony Cancelosi, President and CEO of Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind. Change is ever present, we see it happening quickly.  Join Karen and Tony as they discuss how change impacts our organizations and our missions.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you have any questions about how Raffa can help your organization with strategic or succession planning, please contact Karen Schuler at kschuler@raffa.com.

    Listen Now

  • 5/24/2018 Does Your Business Need Identity Theft Protection?

    Fraud. Identity theft. Data breaches. You hear about these things all the time, but what’s the real risk? And what are the consequences if it happens to you or your employees? Do identity protection plans prevent this from happening or just help you deal with the fallout?

    Fraud. Identity theft. Data breaches.

    You hear about these things all the time, but what’s the real risk? And what are the consequences if it happens to you or your employees? Do identity protection plans prevent this from happening or just help you deal with the fallout?

    About the risk…

    According to a study by Javelin Strategy & Research, approximately 15.4 million US consumers were victims of identity theft in 2016. The damage in dollars? About 16 billion. If you’re a person who likes to play the odds, that works out to roughly one in every 16 people, or just over 6%.

    If this sounds like a risk you’re willing to take, consider that the number of reported incidents jumped up more than 16% last year and is expected to keep rising. Also consider the size of your workforce. Do you have more than 16 employees?

    The harsh reality is that at some point, identity theft will very likely affect someone in your organization. Maybe even you.

    Okay. But is this really an issue for my company?

    If you’d like your employees to actually be able to show up and do their jobs, then yes.

    Having your identity stolen can be extremely draining, emotionally and physically. A 2016 study from the Identity Theft Resource Center reported these rather unsettling statistics:

    • 74% of identity theft victims experienced an increase in stress
    • 69% feared for their financial security
    • 41% were dealing with sleep disturbances
    • 39% reported an inability to focus or concentrate
    • 10% indicated they were unable to go to work due to physical symptoms
    • 8% of victims reported feeling suicidal

    But not only are employees more stressed out over their ID theft, they’re also spending large amounts of time trying to get things straightened out. And because many of the offices and agencies who assist with recovery keep regular business hours, much of it has to be done during the work day.

    What kind of time are we talking about here? Estimates range anywhere from 12 hours to well over 100. Depending on the severity of the case, it can take a few months or several years to clean up the mess.

    A few more stats from the Identity Theft Resource Center:

    • 28% of victims reported taking time off work to deal with identity fraud
      • That number jumped to 55% for victims of criminal identity theft
    • 60% of respondents said they had already spent over 40 hours trying to clear their cases
      • Even with all those hours logged, 50% said they still hadn’t completed the process

    That’s a lot of hours! And a whole lot of frustration, missed work, and lost productivity.

    How does identity theft happen?

    Let us count the ways…

    Data breaches are a huge issue. They can happen at home, at work, or at your favorite retail store. Hacking and phishing schemes still work, and they’re getting smarter.

    A stolen wallet. A lost phone or laptop. A shady friend or relative who has access to your information. The possibilities are endless.

    What are identity thieves after?

    Money, mostly. In a variety of forms. But also jobs, identification, and even healthcare!

    All of these things can be accessed using YOUR personal information. Once someone gets ahold of it, they can charge up your credit cards, empty your bank account, take out loans, and open new credit card accounts.

    Stolen social security numbers can be used to submit bogus tax returns, apply for jobs, or rack up large medical bills— using your benefits! In some cases, criminals have even given stolen information to police when being arrested. Imagine how that might mess with your day.

    To make matters worse, it might not just be your SSN that people are after. Kids make especially easy targets because their social security numbers are new and squeaky clean. Children’s social security numbers can also be used to open bank accounts and credit cards, apply for loans, rent properties, and obtain official documents like a driver’s license or passport.

    Imagine going with your son or daughter to apply for a driver’s license or school loan— only to be told they already have one. Yikes.

    Can identity protection really help?

    To be clear, there is no way to prevent the identity theft itself, but identity protection is one of the fastest growing voluntary benefits right now, and it does offer several valuable functions.

    Monitoring: Credit monitoring is a huge factor in minimizing loss from identity theft. Keeping on top of multiple credit bureaus and looking for suspicious activity is the key to early detection. Yes, with a little time and diligence, you can do this yourself for free. But will you? Will your employees?

    Alerts: Protection plans not only do the monitoring for you, they will let you know as soon as something changes on your report. If someone tries to open a new account or if something shows up in collections, you’ll know immediately.

    Resolution: This might be the most attractive benefit for those of us who hate phone calls, paperwork, and taking time off work for things that don’t involve a lounge chair and a fruity drink. If you experience an ID theft and have coverage, you will be assigned a case worker who will spend those arduous 40+ hours getting your case resolved. How’s that for stress reduction?

    Insurance: Some good news here! The Federal Government already includes protections for identity theft. If you report the theft within 2 days of discovery, your financial losses will be minimized. If you do opt for additional coverage, it will not cover stolen money or financial losses. It will cover out-of-pocket expenses such as postage, copying, notary costs, lost wages, or legal fees incurred while dealing with recovery.

    Making the decision

    Identity theft is a serious problem with significant negative fallout, both personally and professionally. And while there is no way to prevent it from happening, early detection can mitigate the damage and stress it causes.

    Some people are super on top of their finances and hyper-aware of the dangers, but many are not. At the very least, offering identity protection as a voluntary benefit will help raise awareness of the issue and perhaps encourage people to be more proactive about prevention.

    At best, choosing to provide identity protection for your staff will give you peace of mind, save your employees time, money, and heartache during a difficult time, and allow your business to continue running on all cylinders.

    Get in touch with Raffa Financial Services here.

    Reposted from the Raffa Financial Services Blog.  

  • 5/21/2018 Poor Communication: A Disaster Waiting to Happen

    There’s plenty of evidence that communication can make or break a company’s reputation. Social media storms can quickly turn into PR tornados, wiping out individuals, brands, and even entire businesses who post without thinking. Because of this real and present danger, many organizations are focusing on external messaging and ignoring the delicate web of in-house […]

    There’s plenty of evidence that communication can make or break a company’s reputation. Social media storms can quickly turn into PR tornados, wiping out individuals, brands, and even entire businesses who post without thinking. Because of this real and present danger, many organizations are focusing on external messaging and ignoring the delicate web of in-house communications.

    But if external communication mishaps are like tornados, internal communication problems can be downright volcanic. While they may not be as apparent, these issues can be burning and churning beneath the surface for quite some time— until that day when everything explodes.

    To avoid getting swept away by an internal communication disaster, let’s talk about why it’s so important for your employees to be in the know. Here’s are some workplace factors that make internal communication more critical than ever.

    1.) The squeeze

    Many employees are feeling overworked underappreciated these days. Corporate restructuring, increasing hours and expectations, stagnant wages, and constant understaffing are some of the coping mechanisms employed by businesses during the great recession. Over a decade later, many companies are still continuing with these tactics, and they have taken a toll on the workforce.

    Employees are desperately craving honesty, transparency, leadership, and recognition. Open lines of communication are the first step toward building employee trust and confidence, and when levels of employee trust are high, so are levels of employee engagement and retention.

    Note: You can’t communicate your way out of a one-sided relationship. If you’re not treating your employees well, no amount of messaging will convince them to stay. Restructure your business practices to be more employee friendly, then communicate them out.

    2.) Increasing transparency

    Gone are the days when you could successfully keep things on the down-low for a while. With so many forms of instant communication available, if you don’t tell employees what is going on, someone else will. And that won’t make them feel warm and fuzzy.

    Today’s employees expect to be updated in real time. Allowing your staff learn about company matters from social media, news outlets, or other outside sources will destroy any trust you’ve worked to build. Even if it’s only to report that you’ve won the Best Employer Ever award for the 12th year in a row, your employees want to hear it from you first.

    3.) A need for narrative

    Snapchat stories. Instagram stories. Facebook stories. There’s a reason these things have taken off. It’s what users want. It’s also what your employees want from you.

    If you don’t tell a clear and compelling story to your employees, they will construct that narrative themselves. Some may be kind with their storytelling, but others will spread nothing but negativity— whether it’s accurate or not.

    If your organization is all about great stuff, don’t be modest. Get the word out there so your employees have a full understanding of your culture and why you do what you do. The more they know, the more excited they can get about working for you, and the more community ambassadors you will create.

    If your organizational story isn’t so great and you think withholding communication will help, you’re in for a surprise. And not the fun kind.

    The big question

    Is poor communication better than no communication?

    This would be a fun thing to discuss at your next dinner party. But right now, you need to get back to work. And so does everybody else. The problem is, if your team doesn’t know what’s expected of them, how are they supposed to be successful?

    If you think time spent creating a solid communication plan isn’t a good investment, try handing someone a project with no guidance or parameters and see how long it takes them to complete it. Then count how many times it needs to be re-worked and re-done and do the math on your total investment. And try not to cry.

    The clear answer

    In today’s business environment, communication is king. If you’ve been focusing on the external aspects of it, that’s great! But you’re only halfway there.

    Yes, you’re busy. And revamping you company’s internal communication strategy might not be at the top of list. But if you’re trying to operate with an outdated or non-existent internal communications plan, you could be headed for disaster.

    Move this critical item to the top of your priority list, then come up with a plan that will foster high levels of communication and engagement. Your business just might depend on it.

    Get in touch with Raffa Financial Services here.

    Reposted from the Raffa Financial Services Blog.  

  • 5/21/2018 Retail Sales Rise, Mortgage Rates High, and more

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through May 19th US stocks fell over the week on concerns about global trade policies. The S&P 500 and Dow dropped 0.5% for the week. Internationally, Japan gained 0.8% and Europe rose 0.6% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury rose 0.10% to end the week […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through May 19th

    US stocks fell over the week on concerns about global trade policies. The S&P 500 and Dow dropped 0.5% for the week. Internationally, Japan gained 0.8% and Europe rose 0.6% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury rose 0.10% to end the week at 3.07%, near its highest level since 2011. Oil continued to gain, finishing the week at $71.28 a barrel and is now up 18% this year.

    Retail sales rose 0.3% in April and March’s reading was revised up.

    Growth in the Eurozone slowed over the first quarter to 0.4% from 0.7% in the fourth quarter.

    US firms have ramped up capital spending with a 24% increase in the first quarter over the prior year.

    Japan’s economy shrank 0.6% in the first quarter for the first time in two years. The contraction was greater than expected.

    The average US 30 year mortgage rate hit a 7 year high of 4.61%

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of houstonchronicle.com

  • 5/17/2018 Pets in the Office: Do They Work?

    If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that everyone loves an adorable puppy. Admit it. You’re only reading this because that doggie pic is just so darn cute! But is bringing Mr. Wiggles to work taking it a bit too far? Can pets in the office be too much of a fluffy, […]

    If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that everyone loves an adorable puppy. Admit it. You’re only reading this because that doggie pic is just so darn cute!

    But is bringing Mr. Wiggles to work taking it a bit too far? Can pets in the office be too much of a fluffy, adorable thing?

    Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

    Reasons to wag

    If the thought of having pets at work has you jumping with excitement, you’re not alone. Many employees under 35 list a pet-friendly office as their most desired workplace perk. This could give pro-pet workplaces an edge when it comes to recruiting talent.

    And there are lots of other reasons a pet-friendly workplace policy may have you drooling.

    Pets at work have been shown to:

    • Increase employee engagement, morale, and retention
    • Enhance personal interaction and professional collaboration
    • Encourage healthy habits via daily walks and activity
    • Add levity and create a more relaxed atmosphere for staff and clients

    Permitting pets at work also gives many employees more flexibility with their time, which allows them to be in the office more often.

    The stress of pet care is real. Think of how many people you know who are constantly grabbing their keys and running home to care for their pets. Lunch meetings? Out. After work functions? No can do. Staying a few minutes late to finish a project? Only if there’s someone else who can let Mr. Wiggles out.

    In addition to providing workplace joy and flexibility, allowing furry friends in the office can be a huge financial benefit to pet owners. After all, doggie daycare isn’t cheap. Neither is replacing the couch your lonely, anxious pup chewed to death while you were gone.

    But it’s not necessarily for everyone.

    Reasons to bark

    If the thought of adding animals into the Human Resources mix rubs you the wrong way, you may be justified.

    It’s hard enough to make sure all of your employees get along. Now you have to manage the relationships between people and their pets? Plus any legal and liability issues that may arise? It’s enough to make you want to curl up on the floor and take a nap.

    Potential issues here include:

    Increased distractions

    Bringing a pet to work requires caring for it during the day. This can be good if your employees tend not to take their much needed breaks, but bad if they add pet care on top of them. Sometimes, it’s the dogs themselves who are the distraction, and not just for their cuteness. It can be pretty hard to concentrate or take a business call if there’s an anxious, aggressive, loud, or overly-friendly dog nearby.

    Workplace conflict

    Differences in pet parenting styles and what behavior is acceptable has caused many an argument on the internet. A pet-friendly policy could easily bring these same discussions to the workplace, causing both dogs and employees to bark angrily at each other.

    Accidents

    Yep. Those kind. The ones that involve copious amounts of stain remover, air freshener, and carpet cleaning. But there can be other accidents as well. Chewed cords. Spilled coffee. And the potential for a confused or unhappy pup to lash out.

    Liability

    If someone does get bitten at work, it can quickly escalate into angry words and even lawsuits. Legal action can also arise from employees with allergies or fear of animals who feel like they are not being adequately accommodated.

    Unintended Consequences

    You may love the idea of a pet-friendly office, but it’s not for everyone— including those who suffer from allergies or asthma. A workplace full of pets could be a deal-breaker for many job seekers, making finding that perfect candidate even more difficult (Or shall we say ruff?).

    Unwanted visitors

    “If Joe can bring his dog, why can’t I bring my python?” This is a question you may need to address, so make sure your workplace pet policy covers it. Also, be aware that even the sweetest, most adorable cat or dog can bring unwanted guests with it. Treating a flea outbreak at home is hard enough, but once it hits the office, look out.

    Walking the line

     Thinking of dipping your toes into the pet-friendly waters, but not sure you want to go all in? Try starting off small.

    Consider getting an office dog, cat, or other animal instead of instituting a bring-your-own policy. You could also participate in Bring Your Dog to Work day to see how it goes, or establish one day per month when pets are allowed. If you have particularly slow or stressful times during the year, look into hosting animals on-site for a few hours at a time for a little fun and/or workplace stress relief.

    If you want to support employees and their pets without actually bringing furry friends into the office, there are other ways to offer pet-related perks:

    • Create flexible paid time off programs that include room for veterinarian visits, and pet emergencies, adoption, or bereavement
    • Allow for work-at-home options when pets are sick or injured
    • Offer discounted pet insurance as a voluntary benefit
    • Support employees who adopt animals with recognition, a pet-related gift, or a company donation to a pet-related charity.

    Other ideas for animal-loving businesses include getting involved with your local humane society or animal shelter by sponsoring events, matching funds donated by employees, or offering time off for staff members who want to volunteer.

    That way, whether or not you allow animals on-site, Mr. Wiggles will feel the love. And so will your employees.

    Get in touch with Raffa Financial Services here.

    Reposted from the Raffa Financial Services Blog.  

  • 5/14/2018 Why Should We Plan for Extended health Care?

    Guest blog content provided to Raffa Financial Services by Jeff Merwin at Capitol Metro Financial Services, Inc.   You may have noticed that we’re all living longer than ever before. By 2030, people age 66-84 will comprise 20% of the total U.S. population. At age 65, a baby boomer can expect to live another 20 years. And […]

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    Guest blog content provided to Raffa Financial Services by Jeff Merwin at Capitol Metro Financial Services, Inc.

     

    You may have noticed that we’re all living longer than ever before. By 2030, people age 66-84 will comprise 20% of the total U.S. population. At age 65, a baby boomer can expect to live another 20 years. And as we age, it’s possible that we may become frail and need some kind of extended care over a period of years.

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    Things to consider

    At same point in the aging process, we may face physical and cognitive roadblocks to our independence, generating several questions:

    • Who would take care of you if you were to need care over a period of years? A spouse? An adult child?
    • Would you (or they) even want to enter into that kind of relationship?
    • Would care be received at home or in a place like an assisted living facility?

    Asking these kinds of questions far in advance helps avoid the crisis management many face at a time of great stress. At this juncture, families experience significant consequences, which are typically 3-fold:

    Emotionally, there is a big difference between providing care and supervising care. The nature of the relationship between care provider and care recipient changes dramatically, becoming a significant drain on the caregiver’s mental health.

    Physically, some family members are simply not capable of caring for an aging loved one. The stress on a family caregiver builds over time and contributes to his or her own slow decline. As the saying goes, caring for chronically ill people makes healthy caregivers chronically ill.

    Financially, most retirement portfolios can’t pay for BOTH extended health care AND a retirement income at the same time, which often results in the invasion of principal and compromises the financial viability of the healthy spouse.

    The cost of extended health care is already high, especially in the MD, DC, NOVA area and inflation will continue to impact the cost of care. Often, we assume that health insurance and government programs will pay for this kind of expense but that would be a mistaken assumption. Health insurance and Medicare pay for skilled health care services for acute conditions that have an expectation of recovery. Long term care services, on the other hand, are unskilled and custodial in nature, such as helping someone take a shower, transfer out of a bed or chair, get dressed, etc.

    The best leverage value of insurance is still traditional long term care insurance, meaning it has the most amount of protection for the least amount of money.

    A quick example

    Let’s say Bill (age 60) and Susan (age 58) buy an $8,000/month benefit and a $400K pool of dollars, which are linked together by adding the “shared care” rider. The benefits would be available after a 90-day elimination period after qualifying for coverage (cognitive or functional impairment). In this example, there is no inflation COLA, but it is an option to consider. Bill pays $1,918/year and Susan pays $2,828/year (women live longer and claim more often). The combined premium of $4,746 purchases a combined pool of $800K, resulting in a leverage ratio of .006 (4746 divided by 800,000).

    At the end of the day, 6/10 of 1% is an impressive unit cost when we think of different kinds of insurance we may purchase as consumers.

    Start planning now

    Purchasing long term care insurance through the workplace may also result in group discounts, easier underwriting, unisex pricing, and the convenience of a list bill.

    With proper planning in your working years, you can help preserve family relationships and safeguard your financial future.

     

    Jeff Merwin

    Written by Jeffrey V. Merwin, CLTC, CLU, RHU, Senior Director of Brokerage, Capitol Metro Financial Services

    Jeff Merwin has over 31 years in the financial services industry and consults with financial advisors and insurance professionals to assist them with implementing long term care plans for their individual and group clients. A featured speaker and CE instructor, he has provided training and consultation to over a thousand agents and advisors.

    Get in touch with Raffa Financial Services here.

    Reposted from the Raffa Financial Services Blog.  

    Photo by stevepb

     

  • 5/10/2018 Do You Need to Change Your Meeting Habits?

    A habit is an acquired behavior that, over time, becomes nearly or completely involuntary. And no, it doesn’t happen overnight.

    A habit is an acquired behavior that, over time, becomes nearly or completely involuntary. And no, it doesn’t happen overnight.

    meeting habits

    Some habits are good. Like looking both ways before crossing the street, and calling your mom on Mother’s Day. Other habits are bad. Like being perpetually late, and not calling your mom on Mother’s Day.

    And then there are those habits that are, well, just kind of hanging around. Perhaps they started off as good habits but have outlived their usefulness and aren’t serving anyone well.

    When it comes to your business, it’s important to constantly examine key behaviors to see which ones are purposeful and which are merely old habits. Ritualized routines may keep you busy, but intentional behaviors are what will get you where you need to go.

    Every industry and organization follows procedures that make perfect sense in one context but might seem silly if implemented across the board. Take safety glasses, for instance. If you’re in manufacturing, wearing them is a necessary habit. But if you’re heading into a sales meeting with them on, we’re worried.

    The key is to define your purpose and goals and continuously re-evaluate your practices until every single thing you do is aligned. Getting rid of extraneous behaviors and habits will free you up to concentrate on the things that matter most. If you’re looking for an easy place to start, here is one bad habit you can kick today.

    Meeting for the sake of meeting

    Employees are having more meetings than ever before. But are they really necessary?

    • According to research by Ovum, 91% of employees surveyed said the number of meetings they’re having is either static or rising.
    • Plus, a shocking 67% of employees reported that more than half the meetings they attend are not of value.

    Whoa! That’s a lot of wasted time and energy. So how can you make everyone’s time more pleasant and effective?

    Start thinking differently

    Just because you’ve held a department meeting every Tuesday afternoon for as long as you can remember doesn’t mean you need to continue doing so. If your entire meeting schedule is on reoccurrence, it’s time to think about whether or not you could make better use of all those hours— and employees.

    Before you schedule a meeting and ask for someone’s time, stop and ask yourself:

    • Is this meeting truly necessary?
    • Will it be productive?
    • Is it designed to result in new ideas, specific outcomes, and/or significant progress?
    • Will it convey critical updates and information that can’t be found elsewhere?
    • Is this the quickest, most effective way to communicate this info with your team?
    • Does it have educational value? Will it help your employees grow and improve?
    • When you think about all of the things your team needs to accomplish, does sitting in this meeting still seem like a good use of time for everyone involved?

    If you answered yes to all of these questions, congratulations! Your meetings are an intentional good habit and very likely helping you reach your goals. If you’re unsure whether or not your meetings are productive, here’s a quick litmus test:

    If your meetings have no particular agenda, no defined end time, and no specific takeaways, it’s definitely time to re-think your strategy.

    Ways to kick your meeting habits

    There are several things you can do to cut down on the number of non-critical meetings in your organization.

    • Resist defaulting to an hour-long session. Schedule the actual time you need.
    • Consider extending the time between meetings. Do you really have to meet weekly?
    • ALWAYS have an agenda. (A general round-robin doesn’t count!)
    • Only invite those who are critically necessary to move the agenda forward.
    • Think about other ways you might be able to effectively communicate as a group.
    • Try some new technology! There are lots of instant messaging and project management platforms to facilitate quick, easy, and efficient group conversations.

    If you’re still feeling nervous about changing your organizational process and cutting back on the number of meetings you’re having, relax. They key lies in the quality of the sessions, not the quantity or frequency.

    When you do need to have meetings, make them count— and give yourself and your team the gift of time well spent. Whether it’s a staff meeting, project discussion, or training session, make sure your employees leave the room smarter and better prepared to do their jobs.

     

    Tired of meeting with brokers who are just bringing you the same old stuff? Wonder what it would be like to look forward to those appointments? Get in touch here to find out what working with a true employee benefits consultant feels like.

    Reposted from the Raffa Financial Services Blog.  

    Photo by Andriy Popov

     

  • 5/9/2018 Jobs Report, Fed Funds Rate, Apple, and more

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through May 7th US stocks ended the week down slightly on weaker earnings and mixed economic data. The S&P 500 and Dow ended the week down 0.2%. Abroad, Japan was flat and Europe gained 0.6% for the week. The yield on the 10-year Treasury finished at 2.95%, down slightly […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through May 7th

    US stocks ended the week down slightly on weaker earnings and mixed economic data. The S&P 500 and Dow ended the week down 0.2%. Abroad, Japan was flat and Europe gained 0.6% for the week. The yield on the 10-year Treasury finished at 2.95%, down slightly from the prior week. Oil continued its climb to finish the week at $69.72 a barrel.

    The April jobs report showed 164,000 new hires, below expectations. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, the lowest level since December 2000. The labor force participation rate fell to 62.8%, near the lowest level since the 70s. March and February were revised to show an additional 30,000 jobs created. Wage grow grew 2.6% over the past year, below estimates.

    The Fed held the Fed Funds rate steady at its May meeting and stated they remain on track to raise the Fed funds rate gradually. Investors expect the Fed to raise the Fed Funds rate a quarter percent at its next meeting in June and are split on whether they will raise the Fed Funds rate two or three more times in 2018.

    Auto sales fell in April roughly 5% on weakening demand for sedans and compact cars.

    Apple posted strong profit and revenue for the quarter and announced a $100 billion stock buyback.

    Trump pushed the effective date back a month for steel and aluminum tariffs for the EU, Mexico and Canada allowing more time to negotiate.

    Personal-consumption expenditures index, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, reached the Fed’s target of 2% in March.

    Sprint and T-Mobile agreed to merge in a $26 billion deal to create the third largest wireless carrier.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of washingtonpost.com