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Archive for February, 2011

Contributed by Todd Morris, Vice President Commercial Lines, CB Insurance

I had every intention of posting on a different topic than my last blog until I read this article.  To summarize, a couple in Colorado was in the process of refinancing their dream home and, as most of us would have, they expected everything to work smoothly.  However, when a cyber criminal stole the funds intended to pay off their existing mortgage, the couple was left facing the battle of fixing their credit and keeping their home. This situation makes it painfully clear that cyber crime is a real problem.

Our own president recently commented on the issue of cyber security.  The growing number of attacks on our cyber networks has become, in President Obama’s words, “one of the most serious economic and national security threats our nation faces.”  Long gone are the days when hackers would brag about the fact they were able to gain access to your systems or deface your website.  Today’s hackers are sophisticated criminals who want your money.

The Department of Homeland Security plays an important role in countering these threats.  Check out DHS tips on cyber security  so you can become more aware of how serious these threats are and can begin taking steps to protect yourself, your identity, and your hard-earned assets.

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Contributed by Steve Condon, President, CB&T Wealth Management

This Sunday we will witness the NFL Championship game as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers take on Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

With the 4th quarter of 2010 now in the rear view mirror and four quarters of what looks to be some pretty super football on the horizon, I thought it appropriate to talk quarters.

Quarters:

  • Since 1990 the best performing quarter for the S&P 500 each year is the 4th quarter, which generated a positive average return of 4.9%.
  • Likewise, ratings for the Super Bowl increase each quarter with the highest number of viewers hitting in the 4th.
  • Earnings for S&P 500 companies were projected to be up 25% in the 4th quarter of 2010 vs. the 4th quarter of 2009.
  • The Dallas Cowboys, in Super Bowl XXVII, set a record for 4th quarter points with 21 to close out a crushing 52-17 win over Buffalo.

The 4th quarter can be critical.

The last Super Bowl appearance by the Steelers in 2009 required a 4th quarter miracle.  The Steelers were up 20-3 late in the 3rd quarter when the Cardinals staged a comeback and jumped ahead 23-20.  With 35 seconds left Roethlisberger threw a game-winning touchdown pass to give the Steelers the victory. After the game head coach Mike Tomlin stated it simply: “Steeler football is sixty minutes”.

Investing is the same way; the best results come when you are in it for the long-term. And with sound strategy you won’t have to rely on a last-minute Hail Mary play to pay for retirement. Focus on the good old-fashioned basics of offense and defense by creating a diversified asset allocation considerate of your time horizon and risk tolerance. Once you’ve got that squared away, you can enjoy the game and let Mr. Roethlisberger worry about 4th quarter miracles.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

For the first time in two years, we are seeing some improving trends with the sales and payrolls reported by our clients.  That’s good news after several quarters of severe declines.  While some clients continue their downsize, many we talk with are now planning for at least some growth in their business in 2011, while still keeping a strong eye on expenses.  We think the hiring of new employees on average will be limited, due to continued economic risk (and increasing health care costs), but expect some upward pressure on salaries for key employees who have weathered the storm.

Indeed, Travelers Insurance just reported sales and payroll growth over their small and mid-sized business insurance portfolio for the fourth quarter of 2010.  There is no doubt that chronic high unemployment will continue to be a drag on this recovery, but trends seem to indicate improvement from the low points of late 2009 and early 2010.

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