A RISE IN HOME BUYING
Existing home sales were up 2.4% in December and 3.5% for 2014. In its latest report, the National Association of Realtors noted a median sale price of $208,500, 5.8% above a year before. The sales pace in the last half of 2014 was 8% better than in the first half, with cheaper mortgages certainly a factor. (Last week, a 30-year FRM averaged just 3.66% interest.) December saw a 1.9% dip in building permits, but the Census Bureau also noted a 4.4% boost for housing starts. Starts for 2014 totaled 1.01 million, a 9-year high. Last year, groundbreaking increased 8.8%.1,2 Continue reading
Business experts and authors commonly advise entrepreneurs and business owners to delegate tasks which do not directly generate revenue or contribute to the business. Administrative work is the first and biggest thing which should be delegated.
Is it time for you to hire an administrative assistant? If business is booming and important contacts are slipping through the cracks, or that networking function you’ve been wanting to host just doesn’t seem to materialize, it’s time to think about hiring an administrative assistant. Continue reading
A recently released industry white paper authored by Fox Financial Planning Network entitled The Rise of Automated Workflows in Financial Advisory Practices: Why Developing a “Starbucks” Client Experience is the Key to Sustainability, Profitability and Growth urges independent financial advisors to systematize their practices through automated workflows to create a consistent and outstanding client experience. Continue reading
Summit Brokerage Services, the #1 independent broker dealer in the country*, is pleased to announce that a record number of financial advisors have qualified for Summit’s 2014 Leader’s, Chairman’s and President’s Club. Membership in these exclusive clubs is awarded to the Firm’s top financial advisors based on their previous calendar year production. Overall, the total number of financial advisor members among all three clubs increased by 25% over the previous year. Continue reading
In the digital age, user experience (UX) has become the most important face of your brand. The strength of brand loyalty begins with ease of use, particularly the UX. UX is so important that MIT recently sponsored a summit and gave out awards for the best UX. Venture capitalists too are realizing the value of UX, more than ever, backing startups that are co-founded by designers. Continue reading
WHAT HAPPENED TO RETAIL SALES?
Wall Street was surprised by the news of December’s 0.9% retreat, especially given November’s (revised) 0.4% advance. Minus auto buying, the decline was 1.0%. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a gain of 0.1%. The plunge came even with holiday sales, cheap gas, strong hiring and increasing optimism about household economic prospects (see below). This disappointment raises concerns about the strength of Q4 consumer spending.1,2 Continue reading
ANOTHER GOOD JOBS REPORT
America’s best year for hiring since 2000 wrapped up with 252,000 more people finding work in December. Labor Department data showed the jobless rate declining to 5.6% last month (the U-6 rate tracking the unemployed and underemployed decreased to 11.2%). The economy added 2.53 million non-farm payroll jobs in 2014, representing 1.9% net employment growth. October and November hiring totals were respectively revised up to 261,000 and 353,000. December did see wages slip 0.2%; private sector average hourly earnings increased just 1.7% during 2014.1 Continue reading
THE MONTH IN BRIEF
December certainly looked like it was going to be a trying month for the market, but then Wall Street got a little help from the Federal Reserve. In its December 17 policy statement, the central bank told the world that it would be “patient in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy.” That declaration helped turn stocks around. Oil prices (and retail gas prices) declined further in December; readings on fall consumer spending and Q3 GDP improved. When 2014 ended, the S&P 500 had posted another double-digit yearly gain – and while some foreign economies seemed to be slowing or sputtering, ours looked quite healthy.1 Continue reading