Flood Damage Update – Top 10 Mistakes When Buying Flood Damage Insurance

What do you mean I’m not covered for flood damage? Unfortunately that’s what millions of homeowners are saying each year with shock and sometimes horror.

Of course they never thought it could happen to them, after all they don’t live in a flood zone. But nevertheless they experienced a record rain storm, sewage backup or county flood control failure. The good news was know one was injured, the bad news is they didn’t purchase the right flood insurance policy or worse – they had no policy at all.

To help you avoid this fate, here’s the top 10 mistakes most people make when it comes to buying flood damage insurance.

1. Assuming you need to live near a large body of water, a flood zone or low lying areas to benefit from flood insurances.

Most floods are caused by several different causes aside from living near a large body of water. For example, rain, snow or ice storms, hurricanes, and water or sewage backup, in addition to dam or other flood control failure and more.

2. Assuming your standard home insurance policy covers flood damage.

This is one of the biggest reasons why it’s so important to stay educated and up-to-date on insurance matters. Why? Because most people assume they’re covered by flood or water damage in their standard insurance policy. Surprise! You’re not.

The fact is most standard policies don’t cover flood or most water damage. For this you’ll need a separate policy or rider.

3. Assuming you can’t buy flood insurance if you’ve been turned down by traditional insurance companies.

You can buy flood insurance as long as your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program.

4. Assuming all flood insurance is too expensive.

The average flood insurance policy costs as little as $353 a year for coverage.

5. Assuming Federal Disaster Assistance will pay for flood damages.

Federal disaster assistance doesn’t pay for flood damages. At best it can help to provide low interest loans if you qualify – and only if the President declares the area you live in a disaster.

6. Assuming you don’t need flood insurance if you live in a low to moderate risk area.

Almost 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas with low-to-moderate flood risk.

7. Assuming you must purchase a full flood insurance policy.

You may qualify for the Preferred Risk Policy (a lower-cost flood insurance policy) that provides contents coverage beginning at $39 per year.

8. Not finding out what’s covered by Replacement Cost and what’s covered by Actual Cash Value?

It’s important to find this out to make the best informed decision of what kind of policy to purchase and who to purchase it from.

9. Assuming you’re covered from flood damage if you rent.

Your landlords policy only insures the building not your personal property. However, you can purchase an insurance policy for your personal possessions.

10. Taking The First Policy You Come Across.

The best method of buying the most coverage for the best price is to comparison shop at least three different companies. You may be surprised at the price and/or service difference. By taking the time to follow and remember these 10 guidelines you’ll avoid the mistakes many people make when buying flood damage insurance.

Salary Negotiation: How To Earn More Money and Respect From Your Employer

Despite how important fair pay is to most of us, effective salary negotiation is an often misunderstood and avoided topic. Current research indicates the average duration of a position today is 3.8 years. Over the lifespan of your career, how well you negotiate raises or starting pay will have an enormous cumulative effect on the quality of your life.

So why does this skill remain elusive for many career professionals?

Most of us do thorough research and prepare extensively for a job interview. We create the perfect resume, slave over cover letter drafts, and rehearse answers to anticipated interview questions. We make sure we’re dressed right, have references, and are on time. But all too often, only cursory attention is given to thinking through how, when, and why we’ll end up being happy with the terms of our pay.

One problem is that cultural taboos in our society make talking about money a no-no. Many of us regard money negotiation as inherently unseemly, or we feel guilty about not accepting what’s been offered so nicely. Isn’t haggling supposed to take place if you’re buying hand-made rugs somewhere in Turkey?

We want to believe that the first offer we hear should be the highest dollar figure possible; moreover, we don’t want to “rock the boat” and potentially ruin our chances of landing that great job. That voice inside of us whispers “Everything in this interview has been going great! Don’t wreck it now!”.

Like it or not, though, you’re a negotiator. You can’t get off this ride. Negotiation routinely takes place in dozens of ways in our daily lives. Given the fact that you will make or lose several thousand dollars in the span of a few minutes, learning how to respectably negotiate your pay is vital! Notice I say respectably.

Unfortunately, I see countless candidates who either come off way too aggressively, or much too meekly, for their own good. This is often because of a lack of self-preparation and practice. Many candidates also fail to realize their position in the marketplace and the position of the employer. Not good!

The good news is that salary negotiation skills can be learned or improved upon. Here are seven key tips to being paid what you’re worth while maintaining a healthy respect others have for you:

o Don’t believe that effectively negotiating your salary means that you must have the mentality of a used-car salesperson! You aren’t being slippery, out of line or ungrateful to not accept the first figure that’s tossed out. Most employers value candidates who clearly possess self-respect and confidence in themselves; these qualities are revealed through the skill and poise in how you negotiate your pay–they are aso revealed if you do nothing.

Think about it: Doesn’t it make sense that if you demonstrate effective negotiation capabilities for yourself, that in turn you’ll negotiate smartly for your employer, too? Hiring managers pick up on this.

o Do remember that your value is far more important than a number somewhere on a spreadsheet. Yes, this is true despite common cries that “payroll budgets being fixed, this is the best we can do” or “in this economy, you must be realistic.” Employers by and large are not searching for “cheap bargains” but want value in their employees.

A common misconception is “I’ll have a better chance of getting the job if I don’t ask for much money–I won’t cost as much as other candidates.” Don’t go there! Concentrate on the value you bring, not how little you cost. By the way, if you do this properly, the question of “previous salary history” should be much less relevant. This means you will have a better chance at jumping to higher ranges faster in your career.

o Don’t (and I mean never) accept any form of benefits before you negotiate your salary. Why? Once some form of compensation other than salary is accepted by you, the employer has leverage in justifying why your salary should be lower. Remember to always get agreement on the starting salary first. Then negotiate non-salary benefits and special considerations afterwards.

o Do delay talking about compensation; try to discuss your value, and the specific benefits you can bring to the table, for as long as possible. The employer should perceive you as a valuable, one-of-a-kind resource–not an off-the-shelf good with a price tag.

Think of those high-end infomercials that delay revealing what the price of the offer is until the very end (if at all). The whole point of the infomercial is to draw your attention to the value of the good or service and its many different uses and applications.

Certainly something that clearly validates a gain or cost-savings of $25,000.00 would be attractively valued at $2,499.99. But would you really pay attention to an ad that immediately said its cost was $2,499.99? Probably not! The same psychology applies to salary negotiation. The longer the interview process continues, the more likely you will be regarded as a valuable resource obviously worthy of upper-range pay.

o Don’t accept any offer, no matter how lucrative, on the spot. Instead, express your continued interest in the position and how you clearly see yourself making contributions (specify them one more time again). Then always ask for 24 hours to consider the offer. Certainly a day will give the hiring manager time to find any necessary “wiggle room”, if need be.

Be passionate and excited, but don’t lose your objectivity–any position that will be the center of your daily professional life for years to come won’t melt in 24 hours. Right?

o Do remember the old axiom “he (or she) who speaks first loses.” Wait until an offer has been made–but don’t respond immediately. Remember that in many cases, what is initially offered to you may be the lowest figure the hiring manager dares to put forward.

This is mission critical territory: Often, even casual remarks made by you constitute implied acceptance of the offer…Which can quickly become explicit acceptance as the conversation moves on. Don’t let this happen! Instead, intentionally steer the conversation back to the responsibilities of the position. Who will you be supervising? What are some tangible, specific contributions you see yourself making? Where do you picture yourself in the organization in the future?

The greater long-term picture you create, the greater the likelihood you will negotiate more effectively. You can only really begin to negotiate after you have clearly brought to life realistic present and future scenarios.

o Don’t over-negotiate. How do you know when to recognize what is too little or too much? By researching your market ahead of time. Don’t just go to http://www.salary.com and think you “should” be earning a certain dollar figure without taking into consideration the unique opportunities every employer possesses. This is not really true research.

A salary is compensation paid for services performed. Your salary should be commensurate with your skills and experience built yesterday, but negotiated for the work you will be doing today and tomorrow. Remember, you don’t get what you deserve in life…You get what you negotiate!

Would you like more help? Check out this month’s HireWorks Recommends for some great resources.

Special Offer! This month we will review 10 Resumes at no charge. Find out what improvements you can make to get the attention of hiring managers and land that important first interview! Click Here to submit yourself to be among the first 10 people to respond!

Failed Corporate Leadership – Lessons in Corporate Greed

Corporate greed has recently dominated the headlines in the United States. The list of fallen and disgraced Chief Executive Officers and Chief Financial Officers is long and alarming, and the stories emerging from the rubble of major corporations are quite disturbing.

How did this all come to pass?

What were the causes?

Who failed to lead?

What happen to teaching ethics?

Ethics is now being taught in the classrooms in the Graduate Schools of Business throughout American and now the world. It is too little and a very late. The paradox is at those same Graduate Schools of Business, is that less than two decades ago the MBA classes were hearing and learning all the benefits, executive “perks,” tricks of the boardroom, and the tales of “big bucks”, war stories of corporate raiders, merger and acquisition mega-millionaire and billionaires, and king’s ransom “golden parachutes.”

It should not surprise anyone that having Ivan Bosky bragging about his lucrative deals that they were making a lack of morals virtue and coveting all the toys and “perks.” The world of the immoral world of greedy CEO is full of 100 foot yachts, 10,000 sq. ft homes with tennis courts, media rooms, and ten car garages, immorality and affairs, appropriate goal for a senior executive, expected behavior, and mandatory for all successful CEO’s.

For the Ivan Bosky to be invited to deliver a major lecture to all the MBA students of one of the most prestigious Graduate Schools of Business with the unbelievable message: “GREED IS GOOD!” is beyong belief in an institution of higher learning. Universities are supposed to develop are leaders, not our blunders.

It is as sad but telling comment on the state of our collective lack of moral integrity which the popular movie, WALL STREET, had actor Michael Douglas, as Corporate Raider Gordon Geeko, which he portraited as a rich tycoon of industry. In the movie, Gordon Geeko is presented as a powerful deal maker with no morals. Geeko in the movie uses actual quotes and close paraphrases the soon to be indicted, fined, and jailed Ivan Bosky message “GREED IS GOOD!” It is very sad comment that that same message was delivered to the world and all the hopeful employees who now knew that it was OK to steal, lie, and cheat!

The events of the last ten years reveal a material flaw in the moral fabric of some previously well-respected corporate leaders. The ever-present pressure of the next quarter’s profits, and the push to increase “earnings per share” and drive up the stock price have caused some senior executives of American firms to ignore the fundamental morals of honesty, especially if the news is bad. Unfortunately, some of the corporate executives began to believe their own press kits, lost their moral compasses, and fell victims to the disease of corporate greed. All of the executives whose behavior is described above have failed to demonstrate “moral virtue” or live a life consistent with basic honesty, the simple basic laws of the Old Testament’s, “Ten Commandments.”

Just as we hopefully raise our own children by those three great teachers, “example, example, and example,” we must demand that our leaders and other key role models provide the “right example.” Moral virtue has been sadly lacking in these top executives in major American publicly traded corporations. In order to build trust, Americans must require that our corporate and political leaders demonstrate by every action, thought, and deed that they stand for honesty and integrity. The leaders described above failed to be trustworthy. These fallen executive have demonstrated failed leadership.

Let’s stroll through the recent corporate crime scene and the results of preaching in the Ivy Halls in the MBA classrooms that in fact making money regardless of the cost to other and that “Greed is Good!” to the MBA students and entire the world that has unfolded from teaching the “Seeds of Greed.” The combined losses from corporate fraud, corporate greed, job losses, and Federal Government bailouts are climbing daily into the dozens of Trillions of Dollar.

The totals only continue to grow, and the economic problems they create materially adversely effect the stability of the stock market. The true tragedy is the devastation to millions of individual investors’ finances and the personal havoc to the employees who lose not only their jobs but their retirement all at the same time.

Even the watchdog New York Stock Exchange (NTSE) has had a scandal. Retiring Chairman Dick Grasso’s infamous multi-million dollar retirement package, approved by the NYSE Board of Directors, shocked everyone when the over $139.5 million payout package deal became public knowledge.

The senior executives at Enron have become an icon of corporate greed, massive fraud, dishonesty, unethical behavior, and failed leadership. Andrew and Lea Fastow have fallen from grace, plea bargained, and have been convicted. Andrew, Enron’s former CFO, will begin to start his 10-year sentence for securities and wire fraud as soon as his multi-millionaire heiress wife, Lea, completes her one-year prison term for insider trading of Enron stock in her family charity. Lea Fastow, along with Enron senior executives Kenneth Lay, the (now deceased) founder and former Chairman of Enron, Jeffery Skilling, the former President and CEO of Enron, and Richard Causey, Chief Accounting Officer of Enron, all denied any wrongdoing. The juries have tried them and found them guilty, guilty and guilty.

Enron’s Kenneth Lay, Jeffery Skilling, and Richard Causey all arrogantly refused to plea bargain with federal prosecutors, or admit their guilt. All three of them are now tried and convicted on a variety of criminal charges including securities fraud, bribery, collusion and conspiracy to commit fraud, wire fraud, filing false financial statements, and many more. In addition to the criminal charges pending, there are civil lawsuits from investors and employees who have lost billions in the fall of Enron.

The late Kenneth Lay continued to proclaim his innocence of any criminal acts at Enron, even after his conviction. He additionally claimed that he, the founder and former Chairman of Enron, was unaware of the Enron financial details. Yet before the United States Senate Committee Lay instead of testifying he took “the Fifth” The conclusion must be drawn that Lay knows he is guilty of multiple criminal acts. He was clearly not willing to admit his guilt before the United States Senate Committee.

Enron is, unfortunately, just part of the long list of corporate greed plaguing America in the 21st Century. Bernard Ebbers, former CEO of [MCI] WorldCom Inc., was indicted and convicted on charges of conspiracy, securities fraud, and making false regulatory filings. The Prosecutors allege and it was successfully proven to the jury that Ebber’s was the ring leader in an $11 billion accounting fraud.”

Flamboyant and extravagant former CEO of Tyco International Ltd. L. Dennis Kozlowski and his ex-Chief Financial Officer Mark Swartz are both about to head back to Federal Court for a retrial. Kozlowski has been dubbed the poster boy for corporate excess. He was convicted on a number of criminal charges including stealing $600 million from Tyco Corporation, and it’s shareholders..

Kozlowski’s exploits with women and wild spending are all detailed in the book, Testosterone Inc: Tales of CEOs Gone Wild (Byron, 2004). He portrays Kozlowski, along with Jack Welsh, former Chairman of General Electric, “Chainsaw” Al Dunlap of Sunbeam, and Revlon’s Ron Pearlman, as having feet of clay and the morality of rock stars – drunk on power and driven by sex, greed, extravagance, and glamour.

Richard Scrushy, founder and former Chief Executive Officer of HealthSouth Corp, is another in the list of CEOs who deny any wrongdoing. He was acquitted on the criminal charges of financial improprieties. But, William Owens, former Chief Financial Officer of HealthSouth, and four other HealthSouth former CFOs have all plead guilty.

Scrushy was accused of helping overstate the company’s earnings by nearly $3 billion from 1996 to 2003. Scrushy was indicted by a federal grand jury on 85 counts of fraud, money laundering, and other offenses. He faced 650 years in prison and $36 million in fines on those charges.

At Scrushy’s trial, Leif Murphy, a former HealthSouth Vice President, who worked in the firm’s treasury department and is not charged with a crime, provided damaging testimony about Scrushy. Murphy testified that Scrushy had gotten very angry and Scrushy had yelled at Murphy when Leif Murphy challenged Scrushy on the release of false financial information. Not withstanding the fact that Scrushy’s string of four Chief Financial Officers where convicted or plead guilt, Scrushy was found not guilt of all criminal charges.

The government also was seeking $278 million in forfeitures from Scrushy, who has proclaimed “I am an innocent man” many times, including in his interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on October 26, 2003. His lawyers somehow managed to get him off on these criminal charges related to major fraud at HealthSouth, only have Richard Scrushy get convicted on charges multiple counts of bribery and his now in prison.

At Fannie Mae, the career of well-respected CEO Franklin Raines came to an abrupt end when the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight forced a very resistant Fannie Mae Board of Directors to oust Raines. Raines, Fannie Mae’s Board, and his supporters insisted that he wasn’t culpable for the misuse of obscure accounting standards. But his friend thoughts were rejected and his testimony was not accepted as the full truth by the SEC, the U. S. Congress, or the public.

Raines rose from being a poor kid from Seattle to graduate from Harvard, earn a Rhodes scholarship, and becoming White House Budget Director, before being tapped to be the CEO of Fannie Mae. Now Raines’ lucrative severance package (“early retirement”) has become a new issue of contention. There have been well documented cases of massive fraud, mismanagement, and accounting mistakes at Fannie Mae during Raines’ tenure as CEO.

While Raines has never been convicted of perpetrating or approving the fraudulent accounting, there was a major uproar over his severance package when the news broke that he had apparently been negligent in overseeing accounting functions at Fannie Mae. Yet somehow amazingly, the then fallen and sacked Franklin Raines (after the US Government took over and bailed out Fannie Mae) became a “financial advisor” to then US Presidential Candidate, US Senator Barrack H. Obama,

In this post-Enron, post-WorldCom, and post-Tyco world, the rules are being enforced on the playing fields of corporate America. Even one of the largest and most profitable insurance companies in the world, American International Group Inc. (AIG), has had a serious bout with both the Securities & Exchange Commission and the U. S. Justice Department, starting back several years ago.

The financial problems and fraud at AIG really began in 2001 (or maybe even earlier), but took three years for SEC securities regulators to catch it. In 2004, the SEC informed AIG that it was exploring filing securities fraud charges against it for their non arms length relationship with PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and what the SEC call a pattern of helping PNC hide their underperforming loans, starting clear back in at least 2001.

The full impact of the seeds of greed sown earlier this decade and subsequent misdeeds have resulted in the major disaster at AIG, which has now been unveiled in 2008 and 2009. Now, the failing of AIG has resulted in the Federal Government Bailout is costing American’s Billions and Billions of Taxpayer Dollars.

The list of the indicted and fallen corporate leaders is long and growing. In August of 2003 it was reported that story of the misdeeds of Adlephia’s John Rigas, and two of his sons failed came to light. They were indicted and convicted of defrauding Adlephia Communications Corp. of $2.5 billion.

One of the lessons that these leaders should have learned and lived was basic ethics or morals. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 [H. R. 3763], passed by the United States Congress on January 23, 2003 and immediately signed into law by President George W. Bush.

From a basic moral, maybe even a religious perspective, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act would not have been necessary if corporate executives had just lived the “Ten Commandments,” or at least just three of them: “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not covet,” and “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”

Workplace Violence Assessment Tool Eases Bill 168 Compliance

Violence in the workplace is quickly becoming the buzz word of the time. Most governments are now considering legislation that will force companies to deal with these issues in order to improve workplace safety. Take Bill 168, in the province of Ontario Canada, that is about to take effect on June 15, 2010.

The Bill, under the Health and Safety Act, requires an employer to assess the risk of workplace violence that may arise from the nature of the workplace, and the type of work or the conditions of work. The assessment must take into account common risks at other similar workplaces and risks specific to the employer’s workspace. A copy of the risk assessment and its results must be provided to the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative. If there is no committee or representative, employees must be advised on how to obtain copies of the assessment and its results and it must be provided to workers on request.

A good strategy to stay ahead of any legislation should include the following:

– An overview and understanding of the legislation and or pending legislation that emphasize key components and legal duties of your organization.

– Recognized and approved best security practices for conducting workplace violence risk assessments.

– Putting workplace violence in perspective with other security issues in your organization.

– The categories of workplace violence and how each one requires different mitigation actions.

– Steps to creating a court defensible workplace violence program.

– Workplace Violence Risk Assessment – more than checklists.

– Written and implementation plan of effective policies and procedures that work.

– Training programs – what works and what doesn’t – getting buy-in from the beginning.

– Incident management – the multidisciplinary team approach.

– Mitigating the impact of incidents to minimize the impact on your operations.

– Case management – how proper recording and analyzing incident reports can enable you to take proactive preventive steps to prevent future incidents.

– Supporting the victims of workplace violence to minimize the effect on the workplace.

There is little doubt that given the current stresses we are all exposed to, employers need to create a safer workplace for its employees, and if it takes government intervention to do so, then count me in as a supporter.

Last week there was a news event about some young man in high school that took his own life after reportedly being the victim of ongoing bullying. The school board and high profile community members set up a task force to examine what can be done about this ongoing issue in schools today. All this, just on the heels of this new Bill 168 Workplace Violence and Harassment legislation that is to take effect June 15, 2010.

Rather than gather more adults and so-called experts to see what can be put in place to deal with these issues, the task force should be made up of mostly students and the primary focus should be on HOW do we empower students to resolve these sorts of conflicts themselves. As the old saying goes “Give the man (student) a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him/her how to fish you feed them for life”. The fact that Bill 168 and similar legislation has been needed, is evidence that students and young adults were never taught how to fish for themselves.

As a society that is more and more reliant on technology and less reliant on working with one another, schools should adopt mandatory effective communications skills. Books like Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or Dr. George Thompson’s “Verbal Judo” need to become part of the curriculum.

You see, since the game boy generation, our kids have been taught that in order to win at “the game” you have no time to think; you simply need to react as quickly as possible and faster than the game. That has created a generation of society that goes through life reacting before thinking of what the consequences might be. We give our kids violence simulator and take away many of the social programs from our school curriculum and then act all shocked when they develop violent or aggressive behaviour.

There is no law, no matter how strict, that will ever resolve the issue or workplace violence and harassment. The only way to resolve the issue is to empower tomorrow’s generation with communication and social education skills they need to survive in this shrinking world.

Rene Beaulieu CPP, President, SECURaGLOBE Solutions Inc.


Turn $10k Into $1m in 3 Years – Vital Tips For ECommerce Success

The E-commerce world is one of the most profitable industries to be involved in, however the great rewards on offer have lead to immense competition. A quick search of online shops on Google reveals hundreds of stores selling the same thing. Some insider knowledge along with careful planning and dedication is all you’ll really need to become successful.

The best part of Ecommerce is the small capital needed to get going compared with the unlimited potential turnover. An initial investment of $10,000 can result in an annual turnover of $1,000,000 + in just 3 years. This may seem a difficult task, however this guide offers some handy tips that will help you reach this goal!

Website Design

You need a great looking website in order to be profitable. The competitive nature of E-commerce means that your website must stand out. All the successful online stores have functional and professional looking websites. They have spent years and mountains of money perfecting their sites so spend time going through the top online stores and incorporate their best features into your site.

Building a professional website for under $10,000

A premium Graphic design and Web development company will charge around $40,000 for a fully functional and professional site. You can get the same quality for under $10,000 if you follow these steps.

1. Find a local university which has IT courses and put an ad on their notice boards looking for people finishing their degrees. Post grad students have all the required technical skill and they charge a third of the going rate with major companies.

2. Use an existing open source shopping cart platform such as Magento, so most of the work will already have been done.

3. Spend time researching and designing the features of the site yourself. Have a clear vision of what you want, you will save thousands if you do it yourself rather than paying your designer for this.

Planning and preparation

One of the keys to success is to plan and prepare before you launch. Every minute detail of the business must be recognised and a course of action taken. Everything from dealing with enquiries, processing sales, through to organising returns must be planned out to the smallest details.

Strong relationships with suppliers

Once you join a distributor, make an effort to meet with them personally or at least spend time talking with your sales rep about your vision for your business. If you have a good relationship with your distributor, they will actively help you to succeed and achieve your goals. You can then ask for special pricing which will give you a competitive advantage in the market.

Repeat customers

As soon as a steady turnover begins to develop your focus should turn towards your customer base. The following tactics are a sold starting point in getting your customers to return.

o Weekly newsletters with discount coupons and specials

o Automatic emails sent 1 and 2 months after an order reminding the customer of your existence

o Referral programs which offer store credit to those who refer friends to your store.

By following these tips and by having a strong marketing campaign, you can turn an initial investment of under $10,000 into an annual turnover of $1,000,000 in just 3 years!

Offshore Online Brokerage Accounts – Are They Safe?

These days, we are all accustomed to doing almost everything online. There cannot be too many of us left who are nervous about using a credit card online, for example. Doing business online is a way to save time, money and headaches. Investing through online brokerage accounts promises much the same benefits.

However, when it comes to investing offshore, borders still pose a significant psychological barrier. There is no longer any real need to have your online brokerage account in the same country you live in, but it seems investors are still reticent about opening brokerage accounts in foreign countries.

An increasing number of financial service providers are offering cross-border online investment services. This trend has caught on more in Europe than in North America, with larger online brokerages like Saxo Bank and Swissquote offering services specifically tailored to investors from outside their home countries.

However North American investors are also becoming more adventurous, opening more and more accounts with foreign banks and brokerages. Such accounts may be opened as individual US citizens or, more commonly, through offshore corporations or trust structures designed to provide an additional level of privacy. However, the main reason for accessing these international markets is to benefit from more profitable cross-border investment opportunities, and diversify risk by spreading their portfolios across different institutions in different base currencies.

These sophisticated investors have potential access not just to a wider range of investment opportunities –  but to simplicity, tax savings, and greater control over their portfolios.  There is also the opportunity to save money, by gaining access through discount brokerage models to exchanges that would otherwise have to be traded by telephone through far-away correspondent brokerages. 

The current economic climate means a lot of investors love the idea of being able to keep a much closer eagle eye on their internationally-diversified portfolios. But, there remains a concern. Is investing through online offshore brokerage accounts safe?

Are Offshore Online Bank and Brokerage Accounts Safe?

In short, the answer is yes, provided you apply normal common sense precautions. The internet allows you to buy and sell foreign securities through overseas brokerage accounts with just as much ease and security as paying your home electricity bill – and in many cases, much greater security.

The first of these precautions is to invest via a reputable firm.  Do some due diligence on the company behind the service. Just as you should at home (but many people don’t) check references, make sure the broker is registered and in good standing with the relevant regulators, speak with them in person and find out what experience they have. You should also enquire about the security arrangements on their site, and what protection they offer in the case of DDOS and other types of hack attacks. Many offshore brokerages are actually fully licensed banks, which makes them more secure and makes due diligence easier.

Once you have decided where to open your brokerage account, it is important that you you’re your own precautions to ensure that nobody else will be able to access your account without your permission.  Make sure that your security software, like anti-virus and firewalls, are properly installed, functioning and up to date. Consider using an encrypted VPN solution, especially if you are partial to doing your trading from a laptop connected via wifi, which is notoriously insecure. Also remember that just like those anti-phishing warnings from online banking at home, offshore brokerages will not email asking for you to confirm your details. If you receive any correspondence via email, confirm it by phoning the company directly before clicking on any links or taking any action. Try to get to know a single executive in the brokerage who will recognize your voice over the telephone.

What Services Do You Need?

Just like at home, overseas investing services can vary wildly in terms of costs and features. Even within the same brokerage, there are often different packages available.  Fees may differ significantly depending what features, information and access you request.

If you are considering investing in European bonds, unit trusts, ISAs or funds then you probably will not need access to the type of ‘offshore day trading’ account that permits you to buy and sell individual stocks in real time. A so-called ‘fund supermarket’ type account offered by a European bank would suit you in this case. But be sure to check which products of which fund managers are available, and whether the broker is prepared to negotiate fees or rebate  commissions they receive from fund managers (many will, especially on larger amounts, but only if you ask them)

Other banks and brokerages will offer discretionary management of your portfolio. This is suitable for investors who don’t want to have to watch their accounts every day, and who are looking for more of a Swiss-style ‘private banking’ feel in their brokerage. Having  access to quality investment advice is of great importance in this case – so ask what kind of management skills the bank has access to in-house. Larger banks have more expertise, but they may be busy chasing bigger fish. Smaller boutique private banks and investment managers often offer a much higher level of personal service.

In turn these various institutions will often target different types of investor. The more questions you ask your broker or banker before you get started, the more benefits you will obtain from the account you finally choose. It’s called KYB (“Know Your Banker”) and is equally important to investors as KYC (“Know Your Customer”) is to bankers.

If you take the time to do your homework, investing offshore and online is not only safe but it can be very profitable, cutting costs, diversifying risk, and taking charge of your own future. Are you ready for the challenge?

New And Easy Amazing Ways To Get Better Traffic For FREE

Traffic is the lifeblood of your online business. It doesn’t matter whether you are involved in niche marketing, affiliate marketing, sell physical product or digital goods, or you are simply interested in building brand awareness; without traffic, your website will starve and dry up as will your ability to build a successful online business.

The truth is, when it involves jump starting an internet biz, finding and luring targeted traffic in, is really quite simple if you’re taking the time to carefully structure your campaigns before your launch.

You need to create a system based on longevity, so that you can continue to generate traffic to your website long after the initial rush.

So, let’s get right to the heart of the matter; creating a rock solid, powerful traffic campaign that will skyrocket your sales and boost your brand awareness!

Where To Get Instant And Better Traffic

There’re tons of way to generate traffic to your website in order that you’ll instantly maximize your income and automate your online business. The trouble is, there are actually many traffic sources to settle on. But knowing which of them will ultimately generate the very best volume (and the best quality traffic) isn’t always easy.

Throughout the years, there are two main ‘blocks’ of traffic:

Free Traffic

Paid Traffic

It won’t to be that so as to get fast and straightforward traffic to your website, you had to line up advertising campaigns with pay-per-click marketplaces like Google AdWords. While these campaigns would send instant traffic to your website, they often came at a hefty price, requiring constant monitoring so as to make sure that advertising dollars weren’t wasted.

Then came free traffic.

It was slower, often from multiple sources and sometimes tedious to manage. The results could be worthwhile but most marketers and business owners would give up too soon, unsatisfied with the time and effort required.

Thankfully, things have changed across the marketing landscape and lately there are ways to siphon high-quality traffic to any website or landing page you select without spending a fortune on advertising channels and without having to endure the slow and tedious process often related to free traffic campaigns.

In fact, using just a few of the FREE traffic resources that I’m going to share with you, will ultimately flood your website with more traffic than ever before, instantly increasing your profits while solidifying your home as an authority in your online marketing success

Are y.ou ready to get started? Let’s dive in…

Social Media Traffic

Those who haven’t seized the power of social marketing are missing out on what is one of the easiest strategies of generating fresh, targeted traffic, at absolutely no cost.

One of the most popular social networks, carrying remarkable branding power is – Twitter!

Twitter’s interface is simple to navigate, and it’s popularity is unbeatable in comparison with any other social community, including Facebook.

The trick to generating traffic with information portals like Twitter is to be as active as possible and to post a mixture of both free and informative messages (referred to as ‘tweets’) as well as promotional messages that will send people through your affiliate links off to the merchants website.

With social media platforms like Twitter, you’re ready to connect together with your audience easily just by sending out short updates, notices and news of interest. Instead of marketing heavily within your social communities, always specialize in offering value within the sort of useful information, hard to seek out material, freebies, discounts and other benefit-driven offers that will help you stand out while nurturing relationships within your online marketing success.

Always try to think of ways of being entertaining, as the majority of people on Twitter are interested in networking and communicating with new friends, and are reluctant to click on links or visit websites that they believe are promotional based. This means that you need to take a very different approach when promoting through these networks.

Social marketing is all about directly connecting with your customer base, engaging them in conversation and building relationships with your target audience. One of the easiest ways of building a customer-based marketing campaign is to exploit the popularity of social media like Twitter.com, Ning, LinkedIn and Facebook.com.

When it involves social media there are countless ways to the touch down and connect together with your audience.

With Facebook, you’ll found out paid advertising campaigns that are set to deliver supported user activity. It’s a highly targeted sort of advertising and a really cost effective strategy for those that want to check the waters while generating quick and steady traffic to their website.

You can also make your own marketing campaigns at no cost, just by creating a Facebook page for your business and connecting with potential customers. You can enhance your Facebook pages by offering discounts, special coupons and savings available only to those that join your Facebook group, like your page or connect with you in another way.

And don’t forget other leading social networks like LinkedIn.com and Ning.com, both viable social media platforms which will assist you further extend your marketing outreach. LinkedIn is taken into account the “professionals social media community” where you’ll create a live portfolio and resume that lists your achievements, connections, business information and contacts.

With Ning, you’re ready to create your very own customized social media community, providing your customers, members and subscribers with a fun and straightforward way to interact with one another and with you.

With social networking sites you can:

1: Direct contacts to a squeeze page where you offer them a free download/product to encourage sign ups to build a targeted mailing list.

2: Direct contacts to your blog where they can learn more about you and your company.

3: Creating brand awareness and an increased follower army by using this alternative to thank them

for following you, while easily including your website URL within your own automated message.

Additional social networking sites worth joining:








Getting Traffic With Video

You can quickly generate nonstop traffic from video submissions. To begin, create a short video clip and then upload to the popular video directories, including YouTube.com and Video.Google.com

Another easy way of creating video presentations is by using the article content you’ve already created to quickly develop “article videos”.

The best service for this is found at ArticleVideoRobot.com

Article Video Bot will take your existing articles and create live, talking videos! All you have to do is copy and paste your article content into an online form, and Article Video Robot will convert the material into a high quality video within seconds!

The traffic you will be able to generate just by leveraging your article content this way will start generating traffic through your affiliate links almost instantly!

Another powerful strategy forgetting your videos distributed quickly, while maximizing circulation is by creating an account with TrafficGeyser.com

Traffic Geyser will automatically upload and promote your videos across dozens of popular video communities, with a click of the mouse!

Here are the top video distribution sites to include in your video marketing campaigns:








How to Drive Traffic to Your Site Using Newspapers

This is an incredible way for generating low cost, high converting traffic to any website…

What I am about to reveal to you is something so little used and so effective that you are going to get extremely excited at the new possibilities for your business.

This isn’t anything to do with online advertising or some “new trend” that is going to crash and burn just a month or two after it comes out.

This has worked for years for the very few people who have used it and will continue to do so if you follow the simple system I am going to share with you.

The secret is advertising your website in newspapers all over the nation and directing them to your website to collect their e-mails.

I know, you’re probably thinking that’s an extremely simple breakdown but it’s the simplest explanation for what you’re going to learn today. You will discover all of the hidden secrets and steps you need to take to get the maximum return from your investment without any trial and error.

Newspaper advertising works like crazy if you know how to do it right and combining it with an online lead generation method makes it produce results that you never thought possible.

Think about it. There are only a few businesses advertising their online business in newspapers and if you take notice, you’ll see that it’s the same businesses doing it over and over again. If they are continually running that ad, you know that it is producing profits for them.

Another point to ponder is the fact that there is far less competition for the advertising than there is online because in this high technological age, many are forgetting about newspaper advertising and getting caught up trying to advertise online. This means that you can get better advertising at cheaper rates and with far less competition in front of those potential customers!

I’ve also found that you’re going to get prospects of much higher quality from a newspaper because they have to exert much more effort than your regular Internet visitor. You see a visitor sees your ad in an e-mail or on a web page and clicks the link and they are in front of your offer.

An offline lead has to read your ad in the paper, go to the computer, turn it on, load their web browser and type in your web address. Only after all that do they actually arrive at your offer. This means that they are putting much more time and effort into viewing your offer and will give it much more attention than just an ad they clicked on.

One thing you might not know about is that when an ad it in the newspaper, most people associate it with news and with being “official”. Anyone can go post an ad on a free message board online but if you are writing an ad, paying for it and submitting it to the newspaper, you have more credibility because you are a real person advertising in the paper, not someone hiding behind a keyboard.

I’m sure that you’re probably itching to get started with advertising your own online business or website in the newspaper so you can start seeing the financial rewards the few who know about this strategy are seeing.

Please take note that you need to read everything all the way through. There are specific steps that, if missed, could make your ad bomb miserably which will result in you losing money. Advertising your business in the paper has to be done a very specific way to be profitable which is another reason people don’t do it; they have tried and lost money.

Just by reading this system all the way through, you will know the bullet proof way to making the newspaper your most profitable advertising medium yet. The best part is that it’s easy, fast and doesn’t require a huge investment.

There is much more to this system than just putting an ad in the newspaper that says “Go To My Website http://www.mywebsite.com

You need to know the best way to pull maximum eyes to your ad and even further, to get the maximum amount of them to actually visit your website. And after that, the job still isn’t done because you need to convince them to take action on your website whether it be making a purchase or giving you a way to follow-up with them. I prefer and recommend the latter.

Taking your online advertising offline and using newspapers for generating traffic is an incredibly effective way to finding highly targeted prospects that you wouldn’t normally have access to. This is literally an untapped barrel of prospects that you can grab and profit from.

A great benefit of advertising in newspapers is that very few people are using the newspaper to effectively promote their website which means that you have much more opportunity to make a sizeable profit. With less competition for the prospects you have a bigger share of the real estate in the newspaper pages.

You’re going to be grabbing the attention of people that aren’t at their computer so they aren’t in “point and click” mode, which means that your ad will get more attentive review. You of course need to catch the eyes of your visitors first so you can get them to your website.

Create The Ad

The first step in the process of creating loads of profits from advertising your website in newspapers is essential to your success.

What is this first step you might ask?

An effective, curiosity provoking advertisement that gets people reading the paper to take action and visit your website.

To clarify, we are going to be using short, concise classified advertisements to generate leads. Yes, you will learn about using space advertising and longer ads in a later section but this is where you need to start.

Industrial and Economic Espionage

Industrial espionage became almost a necessity for most modern countries. This type of espionage is sometimes referred to as mild or low-profile espionage activity.

However, it is often not less dangerous than other field operative activities. To get results, agencies usually have to invest in unique people for long periods of time.

This type of activity has to be played very carefully as an information leak from an organization may reveal the mere existence of a mole and terminate his or her activity permanently.

It is a very complicated and sophisticated long-term espionage activity that requires diverse skills to get to the right position in the organization, access to the appropriate information and the ability transfer it.

There are many types, forms and ways to perform such espionage. Industrial espionage usually is referred to as economic or corporate espionage.

The main target is for commercial purposes. However, there are other targets such as those for national security purposes and this type of espionage is conducted by governments worldwide.

In such cases, the targets are corporations, mainly those based on sophisticated technology such as: aerospace, telecommunications, biotechnology and others.

Post war era industrial espionage has taken on additional forms such as sabotage. This act is performed in cases where the target is to cause delays in certain developments, such as industries developing advanced military weapons.

Recruiting agents has many forms. A good and simple way is to identify a dissatisfied employee who is willing to cooperate for financial benefits in conjunction with revenge.

An inside-job is considered one of the best ways to get the information needed.

In certain cases some convincing may be required to get the level of cooperation needed, which may include blackmail, bribes or benefits.

Although recruiting an insider is a favorable way, there is no comparison to the well-trained dedicated home agent. The use of inside agents or home agents may be at corporate level, government level or both.

In order to hide the original source ordering or requiring that data or process, there are often levels of operatives or organizations in between.

In certain cases governments prefer to do this type of spying rather than make use of their own intelligence agencies. Governments use their business delegates, students and academics for information gathering.

Industrial espionage during the period of 1960-1980 was very difficult. However, with the introduction of super fast computers and the Internet, it has become much easier to transfer data. Accordingly, new measures of counter-espionage have been developed, but they still have not eliminated the possibilities for copying and stealing information.

The U.S. National Counter Intelligence Center (NACIC), in their reports to Congress, has indicated the existence of foreign industrial espionage activities.

They reported that the main targeted industries are information systems, aeronautics, biotechnology, electronics, sensors, armaments, energy related materials, nuclear systems, telecommunications, space systems and weapons.

The methods of espionage include surveillance and specialized technical operations such as signal intelligence. The foreign students studying in the U.S. and foreign employees of U.S. firms and agencies are very common sources for recruitment.

There are similar activities during international conferences and trade fairs. Other sources are sponsorship of research projects in the U.S. and assigning foreign commercial or science officers to joint research and development projects. In addition, a vast range of disinformation is used in many areas. There is an extensive range of free or open information that can be and is exploited. There are many publicly accessed databases that are available to all. In addition, anyone can ask for information directly or via email, communicating with scientists and discussion groups.

Actually, these days it is almost impossible to hermetically close and protect information from leaking.

As long as data is kept digitally and online and humans or betraying humans are involved, guarding and saving information is very difficult.

According to the FBI, economic spying by countries considered friends or adversaries of the U.S. is increasing each year. They have confirmed that hundreds of foreign counterintelligence investigations involving economic espionage are pending before the Bureau.

Such espionage can make an enormous contribution to the national security of the spying country.

How to Write a Press Release Fast

Do you want to learn how to write compelling press releases in as little time as possible? Then, follow these steps:

1. Have an in-depth understanding about press releases. It is very important to know that press releases are not advertising vehicles and that they should sound very objective all the time. They must carry newsworthy information and they must adhere to the universal guidelines set for news releases. You cannot just deliver the information you have using your preferred writing format as there is a standard format that you need to follow that is quite different from other written materials. Knowing the elements that you need to use in writing your press releases will increase the chances of your copies being picked up by media organizations.

2. Universal guidelines. You must write your press releases using the third person. You must sound like a news reporter delivering an important information to your audience in a very objective and easy to understand manner. Your press releases must contain a compelling headline, a very descriptive lead paragraph, the date of publication, company information, and contact information. In addition, your news releases must be brief, to the point, and relatively short (about 500 words). They must also be able to answer the who, what, why, when, where, and how questions of your readers. Knowing what you need to include in your press releases can surely make the writing process a lot quicker.

3. Proofread. So as not to ruin your train of thoughts, ensure that you proofread your press releases once you are done writing your content. Ensure that your information are factual and that your content is free from any type of errors that can be easily taken against you. Also, check the overall flow of your content. Make sure that you use the inverted pyramid technique when sharing the information you have so you can keep your readers interested all throughout. Also, tie your ideas together to promote better understanding.

4. Practice makes perfect. You’ll be able to write press releases much faster if you practice on a regular basis. Try to write at least one press release per day. You may opt to solicit feedback from other expert news release writer so you can easily figure out your areas of opportunity. If you do this regularly, you’ll soon be able to empower yourself to write compelling copies in as little time as possible.

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