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January 2017 E-Newsletter

 Business Corner: Ten Business Trends That Will Grow in 2017

If you haven't noticed, millennials have been on the rise. They are now the largest living group according to the Census Bureau.
 
Because so many millennials are in charge of buying decisions, the world is changing and business trends for the upcoming years will have to cater more to this generation.
For an audience that craves success and technology, here are 10 strategies you may want to consider revamping for 2017.
 
1. Tools for non-technical entrepreneurs to build tech products
There are so many people online who are not technically savvy, myself included. But the need to use technology is more than it has ever been before. Because of that, technicality in your business is more imperative than ever before. In 2017, technology will be a necessary staple for every business if it expects to compete in today's market. CMS platforms like WordPress allow easy management of a website with minimal technical know-how for people like me to build their businesses online.
 
2. Tools to help with personal brand
Personal branding has helped people like Anthony Robbins and Oprah Winfrey create world-renowned brands. The Internet opened up the playing field to make it much more even, so people who may have never succeeded at anything in life, such as myself, have a shot at making it big. So many people are releasing similar products that the competition in the market continues to grow. Personal branding tools will start trending even more, helping businesses gain individuality and reduce the number of direct competitors. Look into personal branding tools to increase business in 2017.
 
3. Focus on training remote employees
10 years ago, you may have never even heard of a remote employee. Nowadays, tech companies and startups are doing most of their hires remotely. IBM led this trend and many other companies have followed suit. Since meetings can be done over Skype and other video conferencing platforms, applying for customer service, social media and programming positions only require access to a computer and Internet. Talented millennials can be hired for positions no matter where they live.
 
4. Businesses embrace the millennials, instead of rejecting them
You may think millennials are materialistic, narrow-minded and selfish. But that isn't the case. They just don't work in the same way that baby boomers do. They look for creative ways to do their job better and are constantly looking for ways to improve the processes in the workforce. This leads to innovation and helps jump-start change within large organizations. Ian Altman sees a trend where businesses are starting to embrace millennials and cater to their needs. "This will be seen even more as the generation takes over more of the job force in 2017."
 
5. More businesses for sale
Baby Boomers started most of the brick and mortar businesses that we see. But there are a few components that are shifting the business landscape. Technology is becoming easier to use; Items you once could only find at specialty shops are now easily accessible online. Baby Boomers are entering retirement. These shifts, along with the economic recovery in recent years has made business sales more prominent. As Baby Boomers seek to retire in the next few years, you will see many businesses being sold, taken apart and reinvented by the millennials. In addition, many of these Baby Boomers will try to get ahead of their competitors by selling their businesses next year, before the market becomes too competitive and business buyouts decrease.
 
6. Products that track nutrition
I work at an academic medical center and get access to a lot of data in the world of health and nutrition. I also attended CES earlier this year and saw an entire portion of the conference dedicated to health and fitness wearables. From the data I have access to and through observation, millennials, especially women, are concerned with their health and nutrition more than any other past generation. With the addition of technology like integrated health systems, Fitbits and virtual reality, tracking nutrition and fitness levels is becoming even easier as people expand the market. In 2017, this trend will continue and fitness apps and software will grow the health and fitness market.
 
7. E-commerce will continue to rise
I started working with an entrepreneur who spent the last 10 years selling shears for hairstylists at conferences. He recently had a graphic designer put together a website and started to run social media ads. Within one month of running Facebook ads, he generated $140,000 in revenue, sold out nearly his entire inventory and had to hire four more staff members due to the unexpected volume that his Facebook campaign generated. Due to how much easier it is for businesses to target and access their core audiences, there is now an increased demand for online e-commerce tools. Recent studies have shown that 58 percent of shoppers are willing to add additional items to their virtual shopping carts to meet free-shipping quotas. As technology continues to expand in 2017, we should see an increase in e-commerce trends.
 
8. Businesses will focus on connecting customers rather than on selling to them
People are tired of being sold, and millennials can tell they are being sold from a mile away. This is an instant turn-off for these buyers and once they sense any type of selling, they move on to the next company. What is working though are apps and services that connect people to what they want. Companies like Postmates don't sell any products, but they allow you to get whatever you want delivered to wherever you are. According to Ian Altman, "We are in the connection economy. Uber is the largest taxi company, yet it has no physical assets and can still deliver rides easily to its customers. We should see more businesses like Uber on the rise."
 
9. Strength-based training versus remedial leadership
You have probably heard the old adage, "do what you are good at, not what you love." The same goes for the workplace. Up until recently, people hired for the same position were all taught the same skill. Now, companies are hiring specialists to come in and focus on doing one particular task, until they perfect it. At my position at Keck Medicine of USC, I am not required to learn the in-depth details of all our marketing strategies. I just have to focus on what we are doing at a digital level, honed specifically in on social media. According to Ian Altman, Gallup Research shows that productivity increases 21% when employees are doing something they love. In 2017, businesses will invest more in training that focuses on a leader's natural talent than on remedial leadership training.
 
10. Products becoming green
Millennials are quite conscious of what types of products they buy. They turn off the sink when they brush their teeth. They shut off the water in the shower when they are shampooing their hair. They even go out there and actively look for socially conscious companies to purchase from. They care about the earth and want to make sure it's still here for when they are old and when their children grow old. "Going green" is a term that's been around for a while. However, it has only recently been taken more seriously as companies have developed more products to help push this mission forward. Already, over $500 million has been saved in energy efficiency and we should expect to see this grow in 2017 as these green products increase.
 
Look for these trends in 2017
These changes are going to happen. And because of that, you need to be ready for the drastic changes in the next few years as millennials make up more of the work force and become target customers. If you expect to survive as a business, you will want to modify your business in 2017 to follow these popular trends.
 
Source: http://www.inc.com/leonard-kim/10-business-trends-that-will-grow-in-2017.html

 Organize Your Finances for the New Year

A new year brings a chance to start fresh with just about anything. If your midnight toast includes a resolution to improve your financial health, here’s how to make it happen.
 
Get on a budget
To get ahead, it’s important to know where you stand and to create a plan with realistic goals such as a comfortable retirement, education and home ownership. Budgeting may sound old-school, but it’s still one of the best ways to accomplish this. Start by totaling your income and subtracting your monthly expenses for a quick financial snapshot. Then set goals, reduce unnecessary spending and, if the situation calls for it, explore ways to increase your income.

Budgeting doesn’t have be time consuming or complicated. Downloading a budgeting app to your smartphone lets you track spending and financial progress effortlessly in real time. To take the work out of saving toward your goals, you may also want to sign up for an automatic plan that electronically deposits an amount you choose from your paycheck or checking account into your savings account at regular intervals.
 
Prepare for the unexpected
Life can throw you some scary curveballs. Challenges like job loss, medical issues or property damage can leave you drowning in debt for years if you’re not prepared. That’s why it’s essential to build an emergency fund that can cover at least three to six months of living expenses. Even if you can save only a little each month, with consistent deposits and compound interest you can eventually grow a sizable protective cushion.
 
Break free of debt
Making just the minimum payments on major debts means you’re paying mostly interest and barely even chipping away at balances. One effective approach for eliminating debt is to concentrate your efforts on your highest-interest balance first, while still making timely smaller payments on all other obligations. Once this first debt is paid off, focus on the most expensive remaining balance, and continue this way until you’re debt free.

When multiple debts are truly out of control, debt consolidation may provide some relief. This makes it easier to pay off debt faster and more affordably by streamlining multiple debts into one single lower monthly payment. Debt consolidation options include home equity financing, personal loans and zero-interest credit card balance transfers.
 
Maximize tax deductions
Researching tax deductions and gathering appropriate documents can help you avoid paying more tax than absolutely necessary. You may qualify for tax breaks including:
  • Interest deductions for mortgages, home equity financing, business financing, student loans and loans for boats with living quarters.
  • Deductions for other taxes paid, including sales tax, foreign taxes and self-employment tax.
  • Home office and business insurance deductions.
  • Deductions for monetary and nonmonetary charitable gifts.
  • Pre-tax contributions to traditional IRAs and 401(k) plans.
  • Lifetime learning credit.
 
Re-evaluate your investments
Life conditions change over time, so it only makes sense that investment and retirement accounts should be adjusted periodically. In early years, it’s beneficial to favor an aggressive mix of securities, but as retirement approaches, gradually shift toward more conservative choices like bonds, CDs and mutual funds. It’s also smart to examine your estate plan and make sure your will, insurance policies and beneficiaries are up to date.
Financial housecleaning kicks off the New Year just right. Over time, things that seemed out of reach become affordable, and every unexpected expense won’t seem like the end of the world. This change may be gradual, but by the next New Year’s Eve toast your improved financial wellness will be something to celebrate.
 
© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 How to Protect Your Money and Accounts Online

Being able to bank or shop online is a great convenience, but you want to be sure you’re protecting yourself before you hit “submit.” If the wrong people access your accounts, you might find yourself with a lot less money than you thought — and a lot of work to set things right. Here are six steps you can take to help make sure that doesn’t happen.
                                      
1. Do your online shopping/banking from home
You’ve probably taken steps to secure your home network, so it makes sense to do most of your online activity there. Public computers are convenient, but be careful about entering passwords and sensitive account information when using these machines. Many will keep your login data in the web browser history, so after you leave, the next person who uses the computer might be able to see what you typed and access your account.
 
If you’re on your own laptop or mobile device but using public Wi-Fi to access the Internet, you could run into similar issues. You can’t be sure the network you’re on is secure, and if it’s not, a lurking hacker could see any information you send. When you use public Wi-Fi, consider updating the settings on your device to make sure you don’t automatically join networks you won’t use regularly.
 
If you have to shop or bank online while away from home, consider using a virtual private network, or VPN, service to protect your account information.
 
2. Install antivirus software
Many antivirus companies will send security patches to your computer automatically, so you don’t have to be a tech genius to get the most up-to-date protection. In addition to installing an antivirus program, it’s a good idea to check your operating system, web browser and mobile devices to make sure they also have the latest software updates.
 
3. Be smart with account passwords
Strong passwords include both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols, and they can’t easily be guessed. Security experts recommend that you change your passwords at least every few months. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts, especially your online banking accounts.
 
4. Don’t skimp on mobile security
Sometimes you may need to shop or bank online while you’re on the go. When using smartphones, tablets and laptops, you can help protect your accounts by adding a password to lock your device screen. Also, install a “find your phone” tool to help locate your device if it’s misplaced. Many such tools give you the ability to disable your device remotely, in case it can’t be recovered.
 
5. Remember, ‘secure’ starts with an ‘s’
Before sending over account numbers or other sensitive information, check to see whether your browser address bar begins with “https” instead of “http”. The extra “s” literally stands for “secure,” because the page is encrypted. In addition to checking for the “s,” you can also look to see whether the webpage has a seal from such organizations as the Better Business Bureau, Truste or VeriSign, which means the site is more likely to be trustworthy.
 
6. Shop with a credit card, not a debit card
With a credit card, you’ll generally have better consumer protection. If someone makes unauthorized charges, you’re only responsible for up to $50.
 
But with a debit card, your maximum liability is capped at $50 only if you report the card’s loss or theft within two business days after learning of it. After two days, you could be out $500 if you report a loss or theft within 60 days of getting your account statement — and beyond 60 days, you could lose all the money in your account, plus money taken from linked accounts.
 
No matter which card you have, set up automatic alerts to notify you when your card is used, and regularly check your statements for any charges you don’t recognize.
When you’re banking or shopping online, you don’t want to leave an open door for hackers. It is best to secure your accounts and your devices to protect your hard-earned money.
 
© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 Coulee Bank's Q-Tip: Seasonal Scams Making the Rounds

The holiday season is a busy time for shoppers and scammers alike. Many Americans will see an increase of receipts, coupons and promotions coming into their inbox, and as a result spammers hope their malicious messages will blend in and catch shoppers unaware. In order to help protect you during the holiday season we wanted to highlight a couple of scams that have been seen frequently already this year.
 
Amazon Shipping Failure
Amazon is always a popular phishing email theme; however, this season a specific one is being called out by Amazon officials. Emails are going out stating that a package cannot be shipped due to a processing error. The email directs the user to click on a support link in order to confirm their name, address and credit card information. The link included in the email directs the use to a fake Amazon webpage set up to mimic the online retailer and harvest credit card information. After the bank information is harvested the user is then redirected back to the real Amazon website.
 
An easy way to prevent this type of fraud is by logging into your Amazon account. From your account summary you can verify the same notification or message is showing up.
 
When logging into your account make sure not to use any links in the email and instead navigate directly to Amazon.com.
 
Department Store Gift Card Text Messages:
People are receiving text messages saying they can claim a $100 (or more) gift card to places like Walmart or Target.  The message comes with a link that looks to be legitimate, but isn’t.  The user is prompted to enter a lot of personal information (name, DOB, telephone number, address, etc), perhaps share the offer on Facebook, and complete a survey.  The intention of the perpetrators is to obtain as much information about you as they can to steal your identity.
 
To avoid falling for this, just remember that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Delete the text and move on.
 
Q-Tips are provided by Coulee Bank's IT Network Risk Manager, Quentin Fisher. He is always on the lookout for ways to keep our customers' information safe, here at the bank, at work and home.
 
Source:  https://www.10dsecurity.com
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Coulee Investment Corner: Tips for Retooling Your Portfolio


Like a closet that isn't reorganized from time to time, a portfolio that isn't reviewed regularly can leave you feeling like the pieces no longer fit. Last year, for example, stocks, as measured by the S&P 500 had annualized returns of 13.69%.1 U.S. investment grade bonds gained 5.97%, while international stocks declined -4.49%.1 Given this diverse composite of returns, a portfolio than began in 2014 carefully allocated between stocks and bonds could now have shifted away from your intended asset allocation.2

Getting your portfolio back on track is critical because studies have confirmed that asset allocation is the single most important determinant of investment success.
 
Restoring Balance
Restoring your portfolio to its original (and intended) mix can be done in a number of ways:
  • Simply shift money from your over-allocated funds to other assets.
  • Direct any new investment money into under-allocated assets.
  • Sell shares of an over-allocated asset to help restore balance.
Investment performance is just one factor that might prompt you to adjust your portfolio. When undertaking your "rebalancing act," ask yourself the following questions to determine whether your portfolio needs a nip and a tuck or, perhaps, a major overhaul:
 
Has my life situation changed significantly during the past year? A change in marital status, the birth of a child, the last child leaving home, retirement, purchase or sale of a home, or a job change all signal that your portfolio may need retooling.
 
Has the value of my home or business changed? A sudden appreciation or drop in value can leave you in the position of being over- or underexposed to one asset class.
 
Will my spending decrease in the near future? If mortgage or college tuition payments are winding down, this could be the ideal time to "pay yourself" by stepping up investments.
 
When was the last time I rebalanced my portfolio? If you can't remember, or if your last portfolio review took place more than a year ago, it is definitely time for a checkup.
 
An Easy Fix for "Portfolio Drift"
One of the easiest ways to keep your portfolio on track is to enroll in an automatic investment plan. By putting aside a set amount of money at regular intervals, you buy more shares when prices drop and fewer when prices rise. Over time, this disciplined approach to investing may make you better able to maintain your portfolio's balance through the market's short-term ups and downs.3
 
Source/Disclaimer:
1DST Systems, Inc.; Standard & Poor's; Barclays Capital; Morgan Stanley Capital International MSCI EAFE®Index. U.S. stocks are represented by the S&P 500, an unmanaged index that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. Bonds are represented by the Barclays Aggregate Bond Index, a broad-based benchmark that measures the general performance of the investment grade U.S. bond market. Foreign stocks are represented by the MSCI EAFE®(Europe, Australia, and Far East) index, an unmanaged index generally considered representative of developed international markets. Performance is for the one-year period ended December 31, 2014. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. It is not possible to invest directly in any index. Investing in stocks involves risks, including loss of principal. Bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and are subject to availability and change in price. Foreign investments involve greater risks than U.S. investments, including political and economic risks and the risk of currency fluctuations, and may not be suitable for all investors.
2Asset allocation does not assure a profit or protect against a loss.
3Periodic investment plans do not assure a profit nor protect against loss in any markets. You should consider your financial ability to continue purchasing shares through periods of high and low prices.

Required Attribution
Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management Systems Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.
© 2016 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.
 

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