Protecting You from Email Fraud

We are all aware of the many email scams out there—the Nigerian prince seeking to reclaim his fortune; the relative stuck in London needing money to get home; and, the poorly-spelled, urgent alert from "Banc of Amerika." You should be aware, however, of a new fraud that you won't even know is happening to you. It turns out that we stopped one such scam artist ourselves.

My assistant Jessica received an email, allegedly from a client, asking for the balance of his account and requesting us to wire the money to a bank in North Carolina. My client claimed to be unable to speak to us because he was heading out to a funeral. Even though the email address was accurate, the ever-vigilant (and skeptical) Jessica thought something was up and called the client, who said this was a scam—somebody had hijacked his email address. We quickly got Schwab's fraud unit involved.

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Hanging on to the Fiscal Cliff

At the annual Schwab conference a couple of weeks ago, many of the expert speakers and panelists offered a similar take on our precarious financial situation. The good news is that, while a number of difficult decisions have to be made, a political consensus can lead us to a reasonable fix of what ails us. The bad news, of course, is that we are reliant on politicians to make the necessary hard choices. We are also reliant upon a public willing to accept them.

The most impressive presentation came from Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who warned of the dangers of our country's tremendous deficit. While you may not agree with their plan for fiscal responsibility, they do offer a sobering perspective.

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Business Coaches — Addressing the Myths

In an interview with Jeff Miller, a business coach at Action Coach, we discuss how business owners and executives can benefit from independent guidance.  Click the video to hear a discussion that busts some of the myths surrounding coaches.

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The Problem with Low Interest Rates

While economists and politicians hotly debate the efficacy of the Federal Reserve targeting low interest rates to boost the economy, less attention is being paid to the impact on investors. Don Phillips at Morningstar calls such interest rate policies a "War on Savers." He boldly asserts:

"These policies represent a massive transfer of wealth from savers to debtors. To cushion the blow for the millions of Americans who lived beyond their means over the past decade, the Fed continues to penalize those Americans who kept to a budget and set money aside for the future. The cost of these subsidies is in the billions of dollars and puts the retirement security for millions of prudent Americans unfairly in jeopardy."

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Find the Cost of Freedom — Notes from St. Petersburg

The city of St. Petersburg is quite impressive—the canals, the architecture, and the history make it a wonderful place to visit.  The city is also economically vibrant, which is a far cry from the Russia of old, with long lines for a limited supply of food and necessities.  But economic success has not translated into political freedom. Disdain for the government has not overcome the fear of being jailed for protesting.

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