Raffa Blog
Raffa Blog
Raffa Blog

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  • 9/6/2017 Hurricane Harvey, Jobs Report, Inflation, and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 2nd US stocks rose on a news heavy week driven by positive economic and corporate news and despite Hurricane Harvey and tensions with North Korea. The S&P 500 rose 1.4% and the Dow gained 0.8% for the week. The Nasdaq had its best week of the year […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 2nd

    US stocks rose on a news heavy week driven by positive economic and corporate news and despite Hurricane Harvey and tensions with North Korea. The S&P 500 rose 1.4% and the Dow gained 0.8% for the week. The Nasdaq had its best week of the year gaining 2.7%. Internationally, Europe gained 0.6% and Japan increased 1.2% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond was flat ending the week at 2.16%. Gas prices jumped 13% over the week, the largest surge in over 5 years, as a result of Harvey. Gold also jumped gaining 2.5% over the week to finish at $1,324.50 an ounce.

    The August jobs report missed expectations with 156,000 jobs added and the unemployment rate ticking up to 4.4%. June and July were revised down by 41,000 positions. Wage rates have not accelerated with earnings up 2.5% from a year ago.

    US auto sales fell 1.9% in August. The sales pace for the year is down from last year and below analysts’ expectations.

    Hurricane Harvey has severely crippled Texas’ oil output with taking offline roughly 30% of US refining capacity.

    US 2nd quarter GDP was revised up to 3.0%. It’s the highest growth rate in over two years.

    Inflation grew 0.1% in July from a month earlier and is up 1.4% over the past year, well below the Fed’s 2% target level.

    In July US personal spending rose at its fastest pace since April and personal income posted its biggest jump since February. uber

    Uber chose Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to be its new CEO.

    Gilead Sciences purchased Kite Pharma, a specialist in a new type of cancer therapy, for $11 billion.

    United Technologies agreed to buy aircraft equipment manufacturer Rockwell Collins for over $20 billion.

    Wells Fargo revealed that its sales practice scandal covered many more accounts than previously believed, increasing the total to 3.5 million accounts from the 2.1 million previously estimated.

    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 nytimes.com

  • 8/30/2017 Ep. 19 – Cloud Security: Extending Beyond 4 Walls

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Nate Solloway, Systems Engineer/Outsourced IT Manager at Raffa and Martin Nash, Senior Vice President and Director of Information Security at EagleBank, discuss cyber security in the cloud from multiple perspectives. These include (but are not limited to) the cloud’s definition, its positive components, as well as […]

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Nate Solloway, Systems Engineer/Outsourced IT Manager at Raffa and Martin Nash, Senior Vice President and Director of Information Security at EagleBank, discuss cyber security in the cloud from multiple perspectives. These include (but are not limited to) the cloud’s definition, its positive components, as well as potential risks it poses.

    podcast image with logo

    Nate Solloway and Martin Nash

    Solloway and Nash agree early on that the general understanding of the cloud is that “it is out there” somewhere and usually has an affiliation with the internet. However, no one can seem to agree on a singular definition. While this might be the case, our hosts indicate that more and more of the population is beginning to gain a general understanding of the cloud. It is recommended to sit down with your organization, agree upon how the cloud can help, and then to move forward with this in mind.

    Oftentimes an organization will use a provider to store information through cloud security. In this case, an organization must consider how much they trust this provider and do their due diligence to identify if this provider is reliable.

    Data breaches are discussed within this episode as well, and Solloway and Nash discuss how they can change as a result of cloud services. The hosts recognize that “everyone should have a data breach plan.”

    As the episode continues, vulnerabilities such as passwords and ransomware are discussed. The hosts identify potential ways to avoid conflict and to look out for suspicious behavior. Nash uses an interesting analogy relating to theft in houses in order to relate cyber threats to more commonly known ones.

    Finally, a large theme is presented throughout: while the cloud offers immense support, organizations should be aware of risks from players looking to gain information from weak targets who pose as the easiest opportunity.

    Want to hear more? Join Nate Solloway and Martin Nash for a complimentary seminar on October 5th, 2017 in Washington, DC entitled “Mitigating Cybersecurity and Cyber Fraud Risk in Your Organization.” Click here to register.

    Questions about anything mentioned in this podcast? Contact Nate Solloway at nsolloway@raffa.com.

    Listen Now

  • 8/29/2017 How Can A CIO Impact Your Organization?

    By Marisa Mancini, Raffa Technology Technology is always changing, always evolving. But many organizations struggle to keep up, preferring to use outdated systems that do not fully serve their needs. Information Technology (IT) staff are often hesitant to venture beyond the familiar and find themselves unable or unwilling to explore the always-expanding world of technology […]

    By Marisa Mancini, Raffa Technology

    Technology is always changing, always evolving. But many organizations struggle to keep up, preferring to use outdated systems that do not fully serve their needs. Information Technology (IT) staff are often hesitant to venture beyond the familiar and find themselves unable or unwilling to explore the always-expanding world of technology for solutions that more effectively and efficiently meet the organization’s driving mission. Do not let your organization get stuck in the past – a CIO may be able to help!

    A Chief Information Officer (CIO) is an executive in charge of Information Technology (IT) strategy and computer systems, who will ensure that your business is using the best technology available to support your unique objectives. When you bring a CIO onto your executive team, you bring invaluable expertise to the table, vital to maximizing your organization’s success. This expertise includes understanding of legal obligations surrounding your organization’s collection of data, cybersecurity threats and disaster recovery, and cost-benefit analyses of your organization’s software systems. A CIO knows the technology market, and will use this knowledge to establish strategic partnerships with the right service providers.

    Your CIO is an expert in your organization’s IT systems and staff, able to establish service frameworks, set security policies, and manage your IT team. But he/she is also a business manager, proficient in project management, budget management, and customer engagement analysis. This means that your CIO acts as a bridge between your Executive Team and IT staff, while connecting the dots between Business Objectives and Technology Systems. Without a CIO, your organization’s executives are left in the dark when it comes to their IT staff: unaware of what IT does, what IT should be doing, and what IT is capable of doing. The result is a disconnect between IT personnel and executive leadership, leaving your organization operating below full capacity, stuck using software that does not match your business objectives and perhaps unaware of what technological alternatives are available.

    As technology evolves and grows, the role of a CIO naturally expands and shifts. Join the Raffa Technology department for our next seminar, “The Changing Role of Today’s CIO,” on September 6th, 2017 where we discuss this ever-changing role, and give you the information you need to get the most out of your CIO, your IT staff, and your technology systems. Kerry Mickelson, Raffa’s CIO for Hire, will share his experiences as a CIO for various organizations and speak about the various jobs a CIO can do for your organization and the world of technology that a CIO can introduce you to. You will also learn about the many ways Raffa can help you with your CIO needs, including our CIO for Hire program.

    We look forward to speaking with you, and working with you to ensure your organization’s success!

  • 8/28/2017 US Stocks, Home Sales, Unemployment, and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 26th US stocks rose for the first time in three weeks on advances across a board swath of sectors. The S&P 500 gained 0.7% and the Dow rose 0.6% for the week. Internationally, Europe was flat and Japan posted its sixth straight weekly decline edging down 0.1%. […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 26th

    US stocks rose for the first time in three weeks on advances across a board swath of sectors. The S&P 500 gained 0.7% and the Dow rose 0.6% for the week. Internationally, Europe was flat and Japan posted its sixth straight weekly decline edging down 0.1%. The yield on the 10 year Treasury ended the week at 2.17% down slightly from the previous week.

    New home sales plunged 9.4% in July as a lack of inventory has come on the market.

    Unemployment has fallen to an 8 year low of 9.1% in the Eurozone.

    Japan’s economy grew by 4% in the second quarter.

    In speeches at the Jackson Hole economic Symposium Fed Chair Janet Yellen and ECB president Draghi offered few clues on the future moves by their central banks but gave a strong defense for the regulations put in place to ensure increased financial market stability and condemned protectionist trade policies.

    Sempra reached a deal to buy power transition company Oncor for $9.45 billion outbidding Berkshire.nytimes

    Total agreed to buy Maersk’s oil group for $5 billion.

    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 nytimes.com

  • 8/22/2017 US Stocks, Earnings, Retail, and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 19th US stocks ended the week down on political turmoil, weak corporate earnings and terrorist attacks. The S&P 500 was down 0.7% and Dow fell 0.8% for the week. Abroad, Europe rose 0.6% and Japan sank 1.3% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 19th

    US stocks ended the week down on political turmoil, weak corporate earnings and terrorist attacks. The S&P 500 was down 0.7% and Dow fell 0.8% for the week. Abroad, Europe rose 0.6% and Japan sank 1.3% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury was flat for the week ending at 2.20%.  

    Weak earnings from retailers and declines in energy prices drove both sectors down and both were primary drivers in the decline in US Stocks for the week.

    The pace of growth slowed in China in July as industrial output, retail and housing sales and fixed asset investment all ticked down from June and were lower than forecast.

    US retail sales rose 0.6% in July, more than expected, and June’s rate was revised higher, but debt levels have increased and savings rates have fallen.

    Minutes from the Fed’s July meeting showed that concerns over weak inflation is rwm 822bringing reservations about the timing of the next interest rate increase. They originally expected to make another interest rate increase later this year. However, they were in agreement about beginning to unwind their balance sheet, perhaps as soon as September.

    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 businessinsider.com

  • 8/15/2017 Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace Matters

    By John-Anthony Meza, Senior Director Human Resources & Office Employees who come from a wide variety of backgrounds help us serve our clients better.

    By John-Anthony Meza, Senior Director Human Resources & Office

    Employees who come from a wide variety of backgrounds help us serve our clients better.

    An organization’s success and competitiveness depends upon its ability to embrace diversity and realize those benefits in the workplace. In a recent article in HR Executive Online that 150 global CEOs from some of the world’s leading companies signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion initiative, pledging to take action. I found this interesting, that we at Raffa, P.C. have always striven to provide an inclusive environment that attracts and retains a values-and purpose-driven diverse workforce from our founding over 30 years ago. We feel what makes us different is what brings us together, enhancing our respect and appreciation for each other and allowing us to provide even better service to our clients. A short time ago I spoke on just this point at the B Corp Impact of Diversity, Inclusion & Equity in the Workplace event.

    Unlike my background in other firms where we had to build committees, resource groups, or other entities to allow individuals from underrepresented groups to move up through our ranks – it has always been part of Raffa’s DNA.

    • Raffa is the 16th largest women-owned company in the Washington D.C. metro area (Washington Business Journal)
    • The only top 100 nationally-ranked, woman-owned CPA and advisory firm.
    • Over 60% of partners are women with over 30% of partners being people of color, LGBT, or non-US born.
    • Over 70% of partners, managers and employees are women, people of color, LGBT, disabled, or non-US born.

    Here at Raffa, we understand that this is not enough. We want our people to thrive and be happy in their careers. Our mission is to do more and work toward a world that is more just, caring and sustainable through social impact, partnership, and diversity. We will continue to build relationships to encourage individuals from all groups to grow and become leaders in our firm and in our community. These are organic outgrowths of the firm’s culture vs. a top down approach.

    We launched a mentoring program with Vital Voices to empower women leading change around the globe. Our young women employees join programs like the annual speed-mentoring event hosted by Washington Business Journal & BizWomen. We are involved with NABA and ALPFA, the African American and Hispanic/Latino accounting associations. We had a Pride committee that planned our participation in our local Pride event this year – with a strong support from the firm and a focus on our allies including our founder Tom Raffa. In addition to these recent initiatives, a recent group is now meeting to find their purpose at work through their faith.

    Our partners have always thought these efforts made good business sense. With so many of our clients being non-profits, associations and socially conscious businesses, a recent report on associations and diversity pointed to why we work with the types of select clients that we do. Employees from diverse backgrounds bring individual talents and experiences that can be adapted to our client needs and allows Raffa to better provide service to them at different points in their organizational life. Together, our diversity allows us to achieve our goal of being the most helpful and caring professional services partner in the world. #HR #diversity #WorkLifeWins #DoMore

  • 8/14/2017 US Stocks, Worker Productivity, US Inflation, and Worldpay

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 12th US stocks posted their worst week since May on weak earnings from retailers and North Korea tensions. The S&P 500 fell 1.4% and the Dow dropped 1.1% for the week. Abroad, Japan eased 1.1% and Europe sank 2.7% for the week. The yield on the 10 […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 12th

    US stocks posted their worst week since May on weak earnings from retailers and North Korea tensions. The S&P 500 fell 1.4% and the Dow dropped 1.1% for the week. Abroad, Japan eased 1.1% and Europe sank 2.7% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury fell as investors moved to safe havens ending the week at 2.19%, its lowest level since June. The VIX hit the highest level of the year during the week.

    Worker productivity picked up in the second quarter rising 0.9% up from 0.1% in the first quarter. However, the pace remains well below the level required to see GDP growth accelerate.

    US inflation continued to be subdued in July. The CPI rose 0.1% from the prior month and is up 1.7% over the trailing year, below the Fed’s target.

    Vantiv agreed to buy Worldpay for $10.4 billion in a tie up of payment processing giants.

    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 cnbc.com

  • 8/7/2017 US Stocks, Jobs Report, Auto Sales, and Additional Information

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 5th US stocks rose higher over the week on corporate earnings and another solid jobs report. The S&P 500 gained 0.2% and the Dow gained 1.2% and ended the week at a fresh all-time high. It also surged past the 22,000 level. Internationally, Europe % and Japan […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 5th

    US stocks rose higher over the week on corporate earnings and another solid jobs report. The S&P 500 gained 0.2% and the Dow gained 1.2% and ended the week at a fresh all-time high. It also surged past the 22,000 level. Internationally, Europe % and Japan % for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond ended the week at 2.27%, down slightly from the previous week. 

    The July jobs report topped estimates by showing 209,000 new hires and the unemployment rate fell to 4.3%, a 16 year low. It was the 82nd straight month of job creation. Average hourly earnings continued to increase at 2.5%.

    The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation was flat in June and is up 1.4% from the prior year, far below its 2% target and down from 2.2% in February.

    Auto sales dropped significantly in July.

    Eurozone inflation rose 1.2% in July slightly faster than expected.

    Eurozone growth rose at a 2.3% pace in the second quarter and has outpaced the US over the past 18 months. Unemployment has steadily declined over the first half of the year as well.

    Discovery agreed to buy Scripps Networks for $11.9 billion.

    Of the 58% of firms in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings 72% topped analyst estimates.

    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 reuters.com

  • 7/31/2017 US stocks, Fed’s bond holdings, Jimmy Choo, and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 29th US stocks edged down over the week on weakness from tech companies. The S&P 500 ticked down 0.1%, while the Dow, driven by a few firms reporting earnings, gained 1.2% for the week. Internationally, Europe fell 0.5% and Japan dropped 0.7% for the week. Oil surged […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 29th

    US stocks edged down over the week on weakness from tech companies. The S&P 500 ticked down 0.1%, while the Dow, driven by a few firms reporting earnings, gained 1.2% for the week. Internationally, Europe fell 0.5% and Japan dropped 0.7% for the week. Oil surged over the week over concern of supply disruptions from Venezuela. Oil rose 8.6% to $49.71 a barrel. The yield on the 10 year Treasury ended the week at 2.29%, up from the previous week.

    The Fed announced after its July meeting that it would begin reducing its balance sheet of bond holdings “relatively soon.” Investors believe this could mean the September meeting. The Fed Funds rate remained in the 1% to 1.25% range.

    US GDP rose 2.6% in the second quarter as the country entered its ninth year of economic expansion.  jimmy choo

    Michael Kors agreed to buy Jimmy Choo for $1.2 billion.

    Foxconn announced it would build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that would lead to 3,000 jobs.

    With over half of companies in the S&P 500 reporting earnings, they are on track to grow 9.1% from a year earlier.

    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 nytimes.com

  • 7/27/2017 Ep. 18 – Effective Leadership: How to Achieve and Maintain It

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Managing Director of Raffa’s Search, Transition and Planning Department, Karen Schuler speaks again with CEO of Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, Tony Cancelosi about leadership effectiveness and what it takes to achieve it.

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Managing Director of Raffa’s Search, Transition and Planning Department, Karen Schuler speaks again with CEO of Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, Tony Cancelosi about leadership effectiveness and what it takes to achieve it.

    Karen Schuler and Tony Cancelosi

    Cancelosi indicates a number of key aspects that have proven to make a successful leader. He identifies that leaders must recognize the “things you have to fix” within an organization from an early stage in one’s leadership role.

    A common misconception that CEOs tend to make is that one must make all changes at the same time. Through a profound analogy to Lego toys, Cancelosi indicates that it is necessary to analyze and build, rather than to change everything in one go-around.

    Image and reputation building is also addressed within this episode. Cancelosi notes that internal infrastructure is imperative to growth as well as effective communication with all staff members. Overall commitment to the organization is essential.

    For further questions or concerns, please email ecrowley@raffa.com.

    Want more from Karen and Tony? Catch up on their previous podacsts, “Sustaining Mission Impact: How Do Great Organizations Stay Great?” and “So, What Makes Great Organizations “Great” Anyway?”.

    Listen Now

  • 7/25/2017 Stocks Break Records, Firms Post Strong Earnings, and Financial News

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 22nd US stocks reached new record highs during the week on strong corporate earnings. The S&P 500 rose 0.5%, but the Dow eased 0.3% for the week. Internationally, Europe sank 1.7% and Japan ticked down 0.1% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury fell […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 22nd

    US stocks reached new record highs during the week on strong corporate earnings. The S&P 500 rose 0.5%, but the Dow eased 0.3% for the week. Internationally, Europe sank 1.7% and Japan ticked down 0.1% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury fell to 2.23% posting its largest two week decline since March.

    nasdaqJapan’s central bank pushed back its estimate on when it will reach 2% inflation and kept its current policy on hold.

    The ECB delayed discussion on whether it should wind down its bod buying program over weakening global inflation.

    Firms posting strong earnings include Netflix, United, Johnson and Johnson, UnitedHealth, American Express and Microsoft. All six of the biggest US banks topped expectations.

    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 fortune.com

     

  • 7/13/2017 Recent Oil Prices, Unemployment, and Acquisitions

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 8th US stocks edged up over the week aided by bank stocks. The S&P 500 ticked up just under 0.1% and the Dow gained 0.3% for the week. Internationally, Europe rose 0.2%, while Japan was down 0.5% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 8th

    US stocks edged up over the week aided by bank stocks. The S&P 500 ticked up just under 0.1% and the Dow gained 0.3% for the week. Internationally, Europe rose 0.2%, while Japan was down 0.5% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond continued its recent rise ending the week at 2.39%. Oil prices sagged with a barrel ending the week at $44.23 down 3.9% on the week.

    US employers added 222,000 workers in June well ahead of expectations. The unemployment rate rose to 4.4% as more people entered the workforce. Average hourly earnings rose 2.5% in June much lower than historical levels. In addition, April and May were revised higher.

    US auto sales fell 2% over the first half of the year and 3% in June.

    At the Fed’s June meeting they began planning for reducing their balance sheet and the debate moved to when that process would begin. September was considered likely.

    QVC and the Home Shopping Network are merging in a $2.1 billion deal.

    Berkshire Hathaway is buying Energy Future Holdings, one of the largest power transmission companies in the US, for $9 billion.

    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 nytimes.com

  • 7/7/2017 Durable Goods Orders Fell in May for 2nd Straight Month

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 1st US stocks ended the first half of the year on a down note as stocks declined on hawkish comments from global central bankers. The S&P 500 fell 0.6% and the Dow ticked down 0.2% for the week. Abroad, Japan sank 0.5% and Europe dropped 2.1% for […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 1st

    US stocks ended the first half of the year on a down note as stocks declined on hawkish comments from global central bankers. The S&P 500 fell 0.6% and the Dow ticked down 0.2% for the week. Abroad, Japan sank 0.5% and Europe dropped 2.1% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury rose over the week to 2.30% posting its largest weekly yield increase since March. Oil prices recovered to a degree rising 7% to finish at $46.04 a barrel.

    ECB president Draghi alluded to the ECB cutting back its stimulus in response to improving growth in Europe.  On the news the euro surged 1.4%, its largest one day gain against the dollar and Eurozone bonds fell.

    The chiefs of the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada said they would be pairing back stimulus in the future.

    Italy said it was prepared to spend as much as $19 billion to shut down two regional banks.

    Durable goods orders fell in May for the second straight monthly declining 1.1%, more than expected. However for the year to date orders have gained over 2016.

    National US banks all passed the Fed stress tests and their capital plans were approved by the Fed. As a result, big banks will increase share repurchases and dividend payouts to their highest levels in years.

    The US grew at a 1.4% rate in the first quarter, in the final revision to GDP growth.

    Economic confidence in the Eurozone reached its highest level since 2007.

    Inflation eased for the third consecutive month in May to 1.4% from a year earlier. It’s the lowest level in six months and well below the fed’s target of 2%.

    The EU gave Google a record fine of $2.7 billion saying the search engine favored its own online shopping service over others.

    Office supply store Staples was bought by private equity fund Sycamore for $6.9 billion.

    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 nytimes.com

  • 6/26/2017 New Home Sales Rose in May; Prices Hit a Record High

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 24th US stocks edged up over the week aided by healthcare and pharmaceutical stocks. The S&P 500 rose 0.2% and the Dow ticked up less than 0.1% for the week. Abroad, Japan gained 1.0% and Europe declined 0.3% for the week. Oil fell 4.4% for the week […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 24th

    US stocks edged up over the week aided by healthcare and pharmaceutical stocks. The S&P 500 rose 0.2% and the Dow ticked up less than 0.1% for the week. Abroad, Japan gained 1.0% and Europe declined 0.3% for the week. Oil fell 4.4% for the week to $43.01 a barrel entering bear market territory. The yield on the 10 year Treasury fell slightly to finish the week at 2.15%. 

    The largest US banks passed the Fed’s stress tests providing more ammunition for calls of reduced regulations.

    New home sales rose 2.9% in May and prices hit a record high.

    Travis Kalanick, the embattled founder and CEO of Uber was forced to resign.

    Oracle posted earnings that well outpaced expectations.

    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.

  • 6/26/2017 Ep 17. – Leader Development and Succession Planning: Building to Last

    In this Lead. Learn. Thrive. podcast episode, Tom Adams discusses how leader development and succession planning go together. With Julie Meyer, the Executive Director of the Next Step Public Charter School in Washington DC and Rachael Gibson, a senior consultant with Raffa, you will learn the benefits of both.

    In this Lead. Learn. Thrive. podcast episode, Tom Adams discusses how leader development and succession planning go together. With Julie Meyer, the Executive Director of the Next Step Public Charter School in Washington DC and Rachael Gibson, a senior consultant with Raffa, you will learn the benefits of both.

    Rachael Gibson, Tom Adams, and Julie Meyer

    Some boards and management teams are ready when a major leadership transition occurs. Some are not.  The difference has huge consequences for the organization. Boards and staff who are surprised by leadership transitions face both potential disruptions to the organization and unnecessary anxiety for board and staff. Services and mission usually suffer.

    Boards and staff who prepare for leadership transition are poised to adjust and adapt so there is minimal to no negative consequence for mission work. To the contrary, for organizations who prepare well, leadership transition often advances mission capacity. And prepared organizations have leaders with less anxiety and are less likely to experience undesired resignations and turnover.

    Ongoing and intentional attention to succession planning and leadership continuity is key for nonprofits and for-profits to succeed and be better prepared for leadership transitions. Succession planning can mean different things to different leaders. It is helpful to agree on what your organization means. It also works best, as noted by last month’s podcast guest Vince Keane of Unity Health Services, when the focus of succession planning is the organization and not exclusively about the executive (click here).

    What can boards and managers do to prepare for leadership transitions? Drawing from experience with many organizations and transitions, we have identified three paths that seem to work. Our June podcast with Julie Meyer, Executive Director of The Next Step Public Charter School in Washington, DC, and Rachael Gibson, a senior consultant with Raffa who supported the Next Step Board and managers in succession planning, illustrates these three paths.

    1. The executive and board have decided they need each other and are committed to being effective partners to lead the organization together. The Next Step Charter School grew over 12 years with Julie as executive from serving 75 students to a day and evening program serving 400 students. Over those years, the Board’s role evolved from minimal functioning to a governing board fully engaged and co-leading the development of the school with Julie and the management team.

    The development of an effective board-executive partnership is not an accident. Success requires an executive who believes a strong board is in both the organizations and her best interest. It also requires board leaders who are willing to learn about their roles, adhere to boundaries and agreements about roles, and be open to change in the board-executive relationship as the organization matures.

    2.  The executive and the board are deliberate about leader development and the investments required to fully engage and develop both the management team and the board. Successful businesses, large and small, invest heavily in leader development because it is profitable. For example, of the last few CEOs of UPS, one started his career there as a truck driver and another as a part-time employee in the warehouse. As nonprofits, we sometimes struggle to decide to invest time and money in leader development.

    The Next Step executive and board decided five years ago to expand the management team from the executive and two principals to a group of six. Meyer explains the reason for this investment this way: “We had grown rapidly and the siloed approach of each principal paying attention only to their school was limiting our programming and administrative capacity. To serve our students well, we needed a leadership team with additional and different skills and a commitment to the whole school. Besides increasing the team through hires and promotions, the board supported me in engaging an external coach to work with us individually and as a team. This paid great dividends in helping us shape our culture around leadership and how we led the school. The Board leaders took similar actions to add needed skills and connections to the Board and in paying attention to nurturing and development of board leadership for the future.”

    3.  Succession planning is ongoing. Leadership transition planning starts early. Meyer comments: “Our Board and I began talking about succession planning three years ago.  I attended Raffa’s Next Steps workshop (not related to Charter School) (OR “name coincidental”) where my thinking about succession, sustainability and transition was broadened. As I debriefed with the Board, we agreed we ought to make succession planning a priority. I had no imminent plan to leave my position, but also knew I would not stay there for 20 years. I knew the school would need fresh leadership not too far in the future. I was glad the Board saw succession planning as important for the organization and not solely about me. We considered doing this planning on our own without help. Wisely, I think, we decided not to do it alone. We got a much richer and more useful product as a result.”

    Succession planning in this situation involved both the Board and the management team. Rachael Gibson, lead consultant explains: “We started with the management team. We asked each member to identify their key functions and relationships and who might carry them out if they were out for an unplanned absence. The managers found this very helpful in thinking about their jobs and the people who reported to them. In a school where absences directly impact students, the managers quickly saw the benefits from this work and embraced it. Similarly, the Board was pleased to see the results from the work of the managers and did their own work to spell out processes for a planned or unplanned departure of the executive.”

    Meyer added: “These conversations about how we handle my planned departure when it occurs gave the Board a great opportunity to begin thinking about their choices when the time came to fill my position. So earlier this year when I advised the Board I would be exiting my position in 2018, they had these earlier discussions and a written succession policy to guide them in planning my transition with me.”

    There are no guarantees in any transition. From a risk management perspective, leaders and organizations who consistently pay attention to leadership transitions increase the odds of smoother transitions and reduce the likelihood of drama and trauma for the board, staff and those served.

    For more information on Raffa’s succession and executive transition services including this and other podcasts, a just-published case study on internal succession in Nonprofit Quarterly, click here. For more on these and related topics, read The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide by Tom Adams available on Amazon.com. To hear this and other Raffa podcasts, click here.


    The Lead. Learn. Thrive podcast series grew out of our Raffa Learning Community effort and features interviews with interesting nonprofit and private sector leaders and those who help them Do More. If you would like to suggest a topic or a guest for an upcoming episode, please email jimena@raffa.com and include “podcast” in the email subject line.

    ituneslogoSubscribe now via iTunes!

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  • 6/21/2017 Fed Funds Raised Rate a Quarter Percent

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 17th US stocks rose slightly over the week as the outcome of the Fed meeting was in line with expectations. The S&P 500 edged up 0.1% and the Dow rose 0.5% for the week. Internationally, Japan ticked down 0.3% and Europe eased 0.5% for the week. The […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 17th

    US stocks rose slightly over the week as the outcome of the Fed meeting was in line with expectations. The S&P 500 edged up 0.1% and the Dow rose 0.5% for the week. Internationally, Japan ticked down 0.3% and Europe eased 0.5% for the week. The yield on the 10 Year Treasury edged up to 2.16% near its lowest level of the year. Oil prices fell to $44.73 a barrel its lowest level of 2017 on news of still high levels of inventory. For the year oil is down 17%. The price decline show the limitations of OPEC production cuts.

    At the Fed’s June meeting, as expected, it raised the Fed Funds rate a quarter percent to a range between 1% and 1.25%. They still expect to raise interest rates one more time this year. It also spelled out how it would begin to unwind its $4.5 trillion bond portfolio later this year. It will start by letting $6 billion in Treasury securities and $4 billion in mortgage bonds mature without being reinvested and let that increase until a maximum of $30 billion in Treasuries and $20 billion in mortgages a month mature.

    Amazon agreed to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion upending the grocery business.

    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.

    Photo courtesy of CNN.money.com

  • 6/12/2017 World Bank Estimates Global Growth to Reach 7-year High

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 10th US Stocks were mixed over several market moving events and a sharp drop in tech company shares to end the week. The S&P 500 eased 0.3% and the Dow rose 0.3% for the week. Internationally, Europe was off 0.6% and Japan fell 1.3% for the week. […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 10th

    US Stocks were mixed over several market moving events and a sharp drop in tech company shares to end the week. The S&P 500 eased 0.3% and the Dow rose 0.3% for the week. Internationally, Europe was off 0.6% and Japan fell 1.3% for the week. The yield on the 10 Year Treasury edged up to 2.20%. Oil prices have continued to slide ending the week at $45.83 a barrel down 3.8% for the week. 

    The World Bank estimates that global growth will reach a seven year high of 2.9% next year.

    The UK election surprised pundits again with the ruling Conservative Party losing its majority. The election was called to strengthen the Theresa May and her parties hand, but instead weakened it heading into negotiations to exit the EU.

    US worker productivity was revised upwards to be flat in the first quarter. Compared to a year ago it gained 1.2%.

    After an ECB meeting President Draghi revealed a more upbeat outlook and stated they probably would not need to cut rates again, but did not reduce any of the simulative actions its taking.

    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.

    Photo courtesy of wsj.com

  • 6/5/2017 Global Stocks Hit Fresh Record Highs

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 3rd Global stocks hit fresh record highs to end a strong week for world markets. Stock price gains were driven by corporate profits and signs of economic strength. The US, South Korea and Germany all posted records on Friday. The S&P 500 gained 1.0% and the Dow […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through June 3rd

    Global stocks hit fresh record highs to end a strong week for world markets. Stock price gains were driven by corporate profits and signs of economic strength. The US, South Korea and Germany all posted records on Friday. The S&P 500 gained 1.0% and the Dow rose 0.6% for the week. Internationally, Japan jumped 2.5% and Europe edged up 0.3% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury fell to 2.16% the lowest level since just after the presidential election as investors believe the Fed will take a slow and steady pace with interest rate increases.

    The US added 138,000 jobs in May, well below estimates. Hiring numbers were revised down for the previous two months by 66,000. The unemployment rate fell to 4.3% its lowest level in 16 years.

    US manufacturing remained in expansion territory in May and picked up pace from April.

    Illinois was downgraded by both S&P and Moody’s and is now on the verge of being the first US state with junk rated bonds.

    ECB President Draghi said that despite the improving economic picture in Europe the bank is not ready to cut back on its stimulus.

    Personal consumption expenditures rose 0.4% in April the largest one month increase since December.

    The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation ticked up 0.2% in April, but year over year prices rose 1.7% compared to 1.9% in March.

    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.

  • 6/2/2017 US GDP Rose 1.2% in First Quarter

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through May 27th US stocks ended the week at fresh all time highs driven by the Fed meeting minutes and strong corporate earnings. The S&P 500 rose 1.4% and the Dow gained 1.3% for the week.  Internationally, Japan was up 0.5% and Europe was flat for the week.  The […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through May 27th

    US stocks ended the week at fresh all time highs driven by the Fed meeting minutes and strong corporate earnings. The S&P 500 rose 1.4% and the Dow gained 1.3% for the week.  Internationally, Japan was up 0.5% and Europe was flat for the week.  The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond was flat for the week ending at 2.25%. Oil prices fell 1.7% over the week on disappointment from the results of the OPEC meeting.

    China’s credit rating was downgraded by Moody’s who cited concerns over the countries financial strength over the coming years. It downgraded it from Aa3 to A1.

    Minutes from the Fed’s May meeting were released and showed that the Fed felt it would “soon be appropriate” to raise short term interest rates. The statement confirmed investors’ expectations that an interest rate increase at the June meeting was on the table.

    US GDP rose 1.2% in the first quarter. It was revised up from the 0.7% originally estimated.

    Huntsman Corp and Clariant are close to an agreement to merge that would create a chemicals giant worth approximately $14 billion.

    Jim Hackett was tapped to replace Mark fields as CEO of Ford.

    Earnings in the first quarter grew at the fastest pace in six years. Earnings of firms in the S&P 500 grew 13.6% from the year earlier period.

    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.

    Photo courtesy of SFgate.com

  • 5/24/2017 Ep 16. – Overcoming Resistance to Succession Planning: Broadening the Lens

    In this Lead. Learn. Thrive. podcast episode Tom Adams speaks with Vince Keane, President and CEO of Unity Health Care about overcoming resistance to succession planning.

    In this Lead. Learn. Thrive. podcast episode Tom Adams speaks with Vince Keane, President and CEO of Unity Health Care about overcoming resistance to succession planning.

    Tom Adams and Vince Keane

    Vince Keane has led Unity Health Center in Washington DC for almost twenty-eight years. From an initial focus on health care for homeless individuals and families, Unity has grown from a $4m operation to $100m. Three years ago, Vince and his Board and the executive team began succession planning.

    Vince observed about this process: “As a federally qualified health center, I knew we were expected to have a succession plan. Yet the topic made both my executive team and Board very anxious. Over time we all got more comfortable talking about the need for leader development and continuity. The biggest contributor to feeling more comfortable was the shift of focus from CEO leadership succession to organizational leadership succession.”

    A retired CEO in the community development field recently led a workshop for peer executives on succession planning. He encouraged them all to get started early – 3 to 5 years before departure – on succession planning. He admitted being unable to do that during his retirement because he was reluctant to let go and trust the Board with something that impacted him so personally.

    Shifting the focus to organizational succession does not remove an executive’s concern about planning for retirement or moving on. What it does do, when done well, is to broaden the conversation and make it about how the mission of the organization will continue. When focusing on the board leaders, executive team and staff for sustained success it is a much different discussion than how we keep our CEO here as long as possible or encourage them to plan for succession. If there are performance concerns about a CEO or other leader or a factor that makes concern about premature departure real, these concerns are best addressed before succession planning is launched.

    There are numerous reasons why organizations working for change and a better world are moving away from relying on a single hero leader or small core team to get everything done. Too many organizations have felt the pain of over-reliance on one or two leaders and had shocking wake-up calls when they departed. The case for building a leadership team among the board and staff is quite compelling. Seasoned leaders know it makes sense because they are tired and want to lighten their load. Millennial age leaders embrace shared leadership because it is the air they grew up in and what they expect. It is more fun and supports the balanced life they seek.

    Our words sometimes trigger emotions that block progress. Conversations about household finances and budgets can cause a host of other issues. Succession planning is like that. Some leaders never get beyond the word. Esther Newman, the former executive of Leadership Montgomery, committed to developing an emergency backup plan for herself and her team at a succession planning workshop. Two years later she called to say she was stuck and needed help getting her emergency plan done. After a couple of hours of discussion and the plan was mostly completed, she smiled and observed: “My goodness, I don’t know why I waited so long to get to this.”

    Esther, like many of us, can get distracted when a task looks overwhelming or might involve something we would rather avoid. When all the leaders of an organization decide together to focus on how to prepare for planned and unplanned leader transitions, this work is not about any individual. Success becomes a shared goal.

    Here are five actions that will help your organization advance organizational succession planning and get beyond some of the barriers most organizations face:

    1. Do a “trust check” to make sure the relationships among the Board, CEO, and management team are working. If there are performance or communications issues or a culture that does not support the focus on organizational succession, call time out and address these issues before launching succession planning.
    2. Enroll a core team of champions for expanding the leader development culture and the attention to leader continuity for the organization. Consider learning more about organizational succession planning or getting some coaching on the topic for the CEO, involved board leaders and managers if needed to make the commitment to this process more solid.
    3. Review what is already in place and decide what will deepen the roots and impact of your succession planning. If this is the first effort, set limited goals and look for an experienced guide to support the process. Commit to completing the first phase in three to four months so it does not drag on and become an energy drain. If follow-up to past efforts, decide how to best make leader development and succession planning part of your annual schedule.
    4. Pay attention to what is considered the basics of organizational succession planning:
      • Written emergency backup plans for the CEO and managers which prepare for unplanned absences by appointing a temporary stand-in;
      • Written succession policy that lays out the organization’s commitment and philosophy of leader development and how planned CEO transitions will occur;
      • Expand attention to leader and talent development for board and staff, with emphasis on positions that are critical to mission and organizational sustainability;
      • If a leadership transition is imminent in next few years, make sure there is agreement on timing and process for filling the position and completing a successful hand-off.
    5. Make attention to organizational leader succession part of your annual strategic and sustainability planning, so it is natural and expected.

    Vince Keane added: “Everyone working in a nonprofit gives generously of themselves to get the mission done. We owe it to each other to make sure the mission and work we have been doing continues. Attention to organizational succession and sustainability makes that more likely.”

    For more information on Raffa’s succession and executive transition services including this and other podcasts, a just-published case study on internal succession in Nonprofit Quarterly, click here. For more on these and related topics, read The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide by Tom Adams available on Amazon.com. To hear this and other Raffa podcasts, click here.


    The Lead. Learn. Thrive podcast series grew out of our Raffa Learning Community effort and features interviews with interesting nonprofit and private sector leaders and those who help them Do More. If you would like to suggest a topic or a guest for an upcoming episode, please email jimena@raffa.com and include “podcast” in the email subject line.

    ituneslogoSubscribe now via iTunes!

    Listen Now