IBM Latin America Executive Shares How She Developed Skills That Led Her To Success

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The Inspirational Executive Series consists of interviews with our executive IBMers to demonstrate how you can successfully build an executive career in this increasingly demanding market. Juggling work, life, and family commitments is a daunting challenge, but this series reveals how, with careful time management, flexible leadership, and a willingness to embrace challenge, IBM can support successful executives to succeed in every aspect of their careers.

Ana Paula has a 20-year international experience in the IT industry, and has devoted her career to strategic business development, operational excellence, change management of large and multicultural organizations and innovative leadership. Since joining IBM in 1996, Ana has held a series of leadership positions such as Services Director for Financial Services Industry for IBM Latin America, Vice President Software Group for IBM Brazil, and Vice President Software for IBM Greater China Group.

In 2017, she returned to Latin America as General Manager for the regional technology services organization. In July of the same year, Ana was appointed General Manager for IBM Latin America responsible for all the operations of the company in the major countries across South America and Mexico.

What skills and experience have you developed over your career to lead you to this position?

I started my career as a Sales Rep in IBM and have since done a number of roles which have enabled me to build on my skills and experience. Then I moved on to bigger accounts in the Financial Services Industry in our large office in São Paulo. I went from sales rep to business unit manager and after 10 years, I had an international assignment in the US as the Chief of Staff for our General Manager for the Americas. It was a great opportunity to see the company from a strategic perspective, develop relationships and a network that would help in in future roles and see how a senior executive of the company operates in their day-to-day.

15 months later, as the assignment finished, I returned to Latin America to our Services organization (Global Technology Services) running Strategic Outsourcing. This was my first job managing a full P&L with the mission to identify and develop new businesses, grow existing clients, approve investments, optimize cost structures. Certainly a very fascinating role given the breadth and complexity as well as the opportunity to manage a business end-to-end.

After that, I ran Software Group for Brazil with responsibility for all the software brands and services which opened the door for another assignment – Software in Greater China Group. Experiencing a whole different culture in a country so different from my own allowed me to significantly broaden my perspective, both professionally and personally. It expanded my horizons and made myself more resilient but also allowed me to develop something I have never experienced before…being vulnerable. Needing other people to accomplish the most basic things (like going to the bank), makes you humble and teaches you how to ask for help. I returned back to Latin America last year, first running GTS Latin America for a few months and then taking up the General Management role for the whole region.

What is your favorite thing about being an IBMer?

I love being part of a company that has had such an impact on the development and progress of humankind. IBM never stops doing amazing things, it is constantly evolving and defining the future.

Can you tell us about the work you do outside of your role as GM LA at IBM, for example the work with JA Americas?

I am a member of the board of JA Americas—a non-profit organization focused on the professional development of young students—which a very rewarding role I thoroughly enjoy. It is great to see the students develop as a result of our mentoring and advice which covers a range of topics such as the skills of the future and talent.

Continue onto IBM to read the complete article.

Financial Freedom for Millennials: A Bucket List

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millennials discussing finances

By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life

The 2007 movie “The Bucket List” told the story of two terminally ill men seeking to finish out all the things they’ve always wanted to do but never completed. The duo set out on their adventure with the intention to fulfill all their dreams before they “kicked the bucket.”

While most people associate bucket lists with experiences, you can apply the same concept to personal finance matters, as well. Essentially, you list all the things you need to accomplish in your financial life and then start making moves to get them done. According to financial experts, people should start to tick off money-matter items on their lists while they are still in their 20s and 30s. With this strategy, they’ll achieve financial freedom sooner than later because they’ve set themselves up for a less stressful future as they reach retirement age.

At this point, retirement probably seems a million years away, but now is the time to start thinking wisely when it comes to money. Check out our financial bucket list for millennials.

1. Live with roommates

Most millennials want to move out of their parents’ home but can’t always afford to do it. Why forego and miss out on the pleasures of autonomy you can enjoy living on your own? Get some roommates instead to help share housing costs.

When seeking roommates, always be smart and keep safety in mind during the selection process. Everyone, especially women, should stay away from listings on Craigslist and other platforms that don’t fully vet the people out who post these listings.

Once you’ve got your roommates in the house, aside from the financial savings you’ll enjoy by splitting the rent, you can make some great memories — or at least accumulate a few great stories to someday tell your family and friends.

2. Move to an affordable city

Sure, New York is the city that never sleeps, and Los Angeles sees a lot of action, too —but these cities are incredibly expensive to live in. Instead of struggling (even with the help of roommates) in an expensive city, consider relocating to a more affordable city with a lower cost of living. Kansas City, for example, is not only affordable, but it also offers plenty of great job opportunities and even boasts some of the shortest commuting times in the country.

3. Downsize and sell some stuff

We live at a time minimizing is en vogue, especially for millennials. Aside from being a trendy thing to do, selling off possessions you no longer need or want can net you some serious cash. Try selling clothes, unused gift cards, old electronics and gadgets, pretty much anything.

If you have old toys, video games, or other nostalgic items you don’t necessarily want to hang onto anymore, try selling these too. You’d be surprised at how well nostalgia sells! Set up an account on eBay (or another preferred platform) and get selling. Then take that money and save it or invest it so it grows.

4. Learn thrifty shopping habits

Even if you’re aiming to downsize, there will still be stuff you need. Instead of paying full price for new items, learn the art of thrifting by shopping at places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity resale stores. You can find great deals on everything for the home from kitchen necessities to furniture, along with personal items, too, such as clothing and accessories.

Other ways to save on shopping are to watch for sales, try extreme couponing, and follow discount sites such as Groupon for deals on things you want to buy. Also check out Craigslist and Freecycle to find freebies in your neighborhood.

5. Make a few investments

While making habitual changes can go a long way toward achieving financial freedom, you’ll want to find other ways to increase your bank account. Why not try purchasing some stocks and seeing what happens? Some online brokerage sites let users start buying with as little as $100 and make trades for $5. You can buy small amounts and see if you can aggressively make them grow. “Playing the market” is a unique experience that not everybody gets in their lifetime — and watching your stock’s values go up is a thrill.

6. Launch a business

Even if you’re holding down a full-time job, you can launch a business on the side to generate some extra cash and help build your financial future. It could be something as straightforward as buying a property to use as a vacation rental. Or you can build a brand in your spare time, you can market your business by creating a presence on social media and cultivating helpful business relationships. Sign yourself up to attend some trade shows to help establish a name for yourself.

Depending on your line of work, you may need to obtain a license, insurance, or meet other local legal requirements. Be sure to have your ducks in a row and do everything legally. Also, remember that you’ll need to file taxes as a business. An online calculator can help you make the necessary tax calculations.

Achieving financial freedom is a wonderful feeling! The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be that much closer to your ultimate money goals … and then you’ll be able to afford the things on your “other” bucket list.

Understanding Insurance Benefits

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businesswoman looking in to camera with her hand on the right side of face

No matter where you are in life, whether you’re just starting your career or nearing retirement, it’s important to understand the voluntary benefits available to you that can complement traditional health insurance.

While health insurance can help cover medical costs in the event of injury or illness, sometimes there are additional expenses your health care plan doesn’t cover. Voluntary benefits, such as life insurance, disability insurance and dental insurance offered by your employer or as portable options through a company like Colonial Life can help bridge the gap should an unexpected event occur.

“Even if an employee has to pay a nominal sum for a voluntary benefit like disability insurance or dental coverage, it can be well worth it,” said Sharlyn Lauby, president of ITM Group Inc., creator of the HR Bartender blog and contributor to Colonial Life’s WorkLife blog. “Think of voluntary benefits as those specialized, personalized extras that make your overall benefits package exactly what you’d like it to be.”

Benefits can be complex, but with the right information about the options available, you can make choices that best fit your lifestyle and budget. Consider these common voluntary options.

Life Insurance

While almost nine out of ten Americans agree most people need life insurance, just 60 percent said they have it, according to LIMRA’s Trends in Life Insurance Ownership study. With benefits typically paid tax free to your beneficiary, life insurance can provide peace of mind and help loved ones pay for funeral costs, cover living expenses, pay off debt, finance future needs and protect retirement plans. Policies are often available through employers, but you may lose the coverage if you change jobs. However, portable policies are also available that allow you to maintain coverage even if you change jobs or retire. To learn how much life insurance protection your family needs, visit worklife.coloniallife.com/calculator.

Disability Insurance

No one usually expects to get sick or injured, however, disability insurance can help protect your income and maintain your lifestyle if a physician determines you’re unable to work due to a covered accident or illness. Common conditions, such as pregnancy and childbirth, heart attacks, strokes, cancer and accidents, make up the majority of disabilities that lead to an inability to work. With short-term disability benefits, you receive financial support for a predetermined amount of time to cover expenses like a mortgage or rent, car payments, utilities and more, so you can focus on recovery.

Dental Insurance

Daily brushing and flossing can help keep your mouth healthy, but that’s not always enough as dental problems can lead to other health problems if left unattended. When you see a dentist for routine appointments and necessary procedures, dental insurance can help reduce the out-of-pocket expense. In fact, among insurance benefits typically provided to employees, 61 percent of workers view dental benefits as important, ranking second after medical insurance, according to LIMRA. Dental insurance provides coverage for regular cleanings and more extensive procedures like fillings, crowns, dentures and tooth removal. Some plans even offer allowances for orthodontic work like braces and retainers.

Accident Insurance

When an accident happens, one of the last things many people want to think about is how they’re going to pay the bills. You can prepare for the unexpected with accident insurance, which provides a lump-sum benefit—based on the injury suffered and treatment received—that can be used to help pay for expenses following an accidental injury, such as doctor bills, co-pays, emergency room fees, transportation, lodging and follow-up care.

Critical Illness Insurance

No matter your age or health status, a sudden illness could significantly impact your financial well-being, and health insurance may not cover everything. When a critical illness such as a heart attack, stroke or major organ failure occurs, major expenses often follow, and critical illness insurance can help off-set costs. In addition to your day-to-day bills, the lump-sum benefit can be used to pay for treatment- and recovery-related expenses including deductibles and co-pays, child care, travel and lodging, gym memberships and out-of-network treatment facilities and procedures.

Source: Family Features Editorial Syndicate

ALPFA’s Damian Rivera: The Power of Your Origin Story

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headshot of Damian Rivera, CEO of ALPHA

The journey from Spanish Harlem to the boardroom has been magical. I have the benefit of being able to look back at my 20+ years as a consultant for Accenture, along with my life growing up, to identify all of the “hard times” as a kid, which have made me successful in the boardroom.

As a Latino managing director in a global Fortune 500 company, I have always given back to my community, from serving on the board of non-profits to leading up Accenture’s Hispanic American ERG for six years. With all the experience I have gained, it is my mission to help others achieve their dreams.

With the opportunity of stepping into the role of CEO of ALPFA, I am honored and humbled to continue the legacy built by our members, countless volunteers, leadership teams from our professional and student chapters, and corporate partners that have made ALPFA what it is today. As I think back to my childhood growing up in Wagner Projects in Spanish Harlem, New York, in the 1980s, I can’t believe that in the same way the Latinx community helped give me opportunities in life, I am now in a position to do the same for others. What makes it even more exciting is I am not alone—I have an extended family of 80,000+ members focused on the same mission.

Everyone has an origin story, but the ability to really understand how your story gives you power is critical for Latinos as we strive to elevate in the corporate world. Hearing stories helps inspire, but knowing how your story gives you strength translates inspiration to action.

So, the question I usually get next is, “How can we learn to better understand our story?” There are four components/activities that I tell people to focus on: (1) Journey Line (2) Value Tree (3) Value Mantra (4) Purpose Framework. I’ll focus on the Journey Line and Value Tree here because they are the most critical. I recommend everyone develop their journey line, which is a drawing of your life, starting at any point going to present day. Your level of happiness is on the y-axis, and time is on the x-axis. As you think back on your life, you will plot out the highs and lows, and it’s in these moments that we learn our lessons of life. The high of highs and low of lows are where we build our character and grow the most. When people take time to develop the line, they start to see all they have accomplished and all they have persevered through to achieve success. Once you have done that, you begin to see the strength you have on paper. This is your origin story; it’s no different than a Marvel comic superhero. Once you have documented your journey line, you realize just as Superman had his hero’s journey, so did you. You may not be able to fly, but you definitely have developed your own version of superpowers in finance, accounting, or blockchain. When people work through this, they often have more confidence because it removes the impostor syndrome issues they encounter. They see their story and realize: I belong in the boardroom!

The second key piece is knowing your values. My values are legacy, opportunity, diversity, justice, courage, fortitude, energy, and industriousness. When people talk about being their authentic self at work, I believe that means sticking to your values. Through a person’s journey he or she will change. Everyone should be evolving as a person, and if you stay true to your value system, then you are being authentic as a leader. Know your origin story, enjoy your hero’s journey, and remember to help others along the way.

Wells Fargo Collaborates with Diverse Chambers of Commerce For Leadership Development Program

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Chamber-Leadership-Alliance-2019

Today an alliance of diverse chambers of commerce, in collaboration with Wells Fargo, launched a new Chamber Leadership  Development Program to support diverse entrepreneurs in the U.S.

The alliance includes the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Black Chambers Inc., the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation.

The diverse business communities represented by the alliance of chambers account for an annual estimated contribution of more than $3 trillion to the U.S. economy. The Chamber Leadership Development Program is aimed at educating and developing leaders of diverse state and local chambers of commerce to support diverse entrepreneurs. The program also will include university partners and will affect more than 400 chamber leaders through innovative programming designed to empower chamber leaders to better serve their local communities of diverse businesses.

“Diverse businesses are growing across the United States,” said Regina Heyward, senior vice president and head of supplier diversity at Wells Fargo. “Through the Chamber Leadership Development Program, Wells Fargo sees an opportunity to strengthen diverse leaders within the small business community and to support local chambers in capacity building.”

In 2019, the program will be offered to chamber leaders at the conferences of each of the alliance of diverse chambers organizations. The first session will be held at the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation CelebrASIAN Procurement + Business Conference in Houston, Tx, June 4–5. It will be followed by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce International Business and Leadership Conference in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 12–13; the U.S. Black Chambers National Conference in National Harbor, Md., Aug. 19–20; and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Convention in Los Angeles, Ca, Sept. 28–29.

In addition to these in-person sessions, there will be two virtual sessions in 2019.

“The Chamber Leadership Development Program is an important step in strengthening our local diverse chambers across the U.S.,” said National LGBT Chamber of Commerce Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson. “With stronger diverse chambers in each city, we are able to provide more opportunity for local diverse business owners, concurrently strengthening local economies and increasing the ability for diverse business owners to scale their enterprises —underscoring our importance to the small business engine that makes the U.S. economy run.”

Ron Busby, U.S. Black Chambers president & CEO, noted, “The Chamber Leadership Alliance develops and empowers diverse chamber leaders while providing unique educational opportunities on how to grow and build their local organizations for the benefit of its small business community members.”

Susan Au Allen, National President and CEO of the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation, said, “We are proud to be a stakeholder in the Chamber Leadership Alliance, a collaboration spearheaded by Wells Fargo, that addresses critical nonprofit business organization leadership gaps in our diverse business communities. Our shared vision is to cultivate chamber leaders who will become innovators, beacons, and change agents — thus collectively building a framework for sustainable business growth and success for our respective constituents and the wider community.”

Ramiro Cavazos, U.S Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president and CEO said, “The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is proud of our intersectional partnership with other alliance members, and we are excited about the benefits this will bring to all of our members. With sponsors such as Wells Fargo, we reaffirm our its commitment to Hispanic- and diverse-owned businesses to provide resources for our community that are just as timely as they are innovative.”

About the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is the business voice of the LGBT community and is the largest global advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people. NGLCC is the exclusive certification body for LGBT-owned businesses, known as LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs). nglcc.org

About the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.
The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) provides committed, visionary leadership and advocacy in the realization of economic empowerment. Through the creation of resources and initiatives, we support African American Chambers of Commerce and business organizations in their work of developing and growing Black enterprises. usblackchambers.org

About the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
The USHCC actively promotes the economic growth, development, and interests of more than 4.37 million Hispanic-owned businesses, that combined, contribute over $700 billion to the American economy every year. It also advocates on behalf of 260 major American corporations and serves as the umbrella organization for more than 200 local chambers and business associations nationwide. ushcc.com

About the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation
Founded in 1984, USPAACC promotes, nurtures and propels economic growth by opening doors to procurement, educational and professional opportunities for Pan Asian Americans and their business partners in corporate America, the federal, state and local governments, and the small and minority business communities in the United States, and the Asia-Pacific and Indian Subcontinent regions. uspaacc.com

About Wells Fargo:
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,800 locations, more than 13,000 ATMs, the internet (wellsfargo.com) and mobile banking, and has offices in 37 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 259,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 26 on Fortune’s 2018 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

NGLCC

For additional information, please visit  nglcc.org.

Have You Considered a Career in Finance?

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Everyone knows there’s money to be made in the financial services field. But there are many more reasons to consider a career in finance.

The industry offers diverse opportunities, a fast-paced environment, and lots of room for advancement. Are you creative and do you like to learn? Professionals in finance are constantly innovating—quick thinking, rigorous analytical thought, and consistent results are what will get you promoted. If this sounds like a good fit for you, consider these job titles (and their salaries!).

Asset Manager

Annual salary: $125,000

Employment projected to grow 19 percent by 2026

Asset managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

Actuary

Annual salary: $101,560

Employment projected to grow 22 percent by 2026

Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. They use mathematics, statistics, and financial theory to assess the risk of potential events, and they help businesses and clients develop policies that minimize the cost of that risk.

Personal Financial Advisor

Annual salary: $90,640

Employment projected to grow 15 percent by 2026

Personal financial advisors provide advice on investments, insurance, mortgages, college savings, estate planning, taxes, and retirement to help individuals manage their finances.

Budget Analyst

Annual salary: $75,240

Employment projected to grow 7 percent by 2026

Budget analysts help public and private institutions organize their finances. They prepare budget reports and monitor institutional spending.

Accountant or Auditor

Annual salary: $69,350

Employment projected to grow 10 percent by 2026

Accountants and auditors prepare and examine financial records. They ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. Accountants and auditors assess financial operations and work to help ensure that organizations run efficiently.

Source: bls.gov

This new credit card helps build a credit score for people who don’t have one

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Petal looks at a person’s overall financial history to issue credit cards to people like immigrants and low-income Americans who often struggle to access them.

In his home country of Ecuador, Andres Mosquera felt pretty good about his finances. Mosquera, who has a master’s degree in business education, had two credit cards with a combined limit equal to around $20,000, and he never had any trouble paying them off. But around nine months ago, the 27-year-old moved to Long Island, New York, with his wife for a job in the insurance industry, and shortly after, they had their first child. Given his strong financial background in Ecuador, Mosquera figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to get a new credit card in the U.S.

That turned out to not be the case. Like many new immigrants, Mosquera quickly learned that his financial track record in Ecuador would not help him in the U.S.; from the perspective of the banks he applied to in New York, he had no credit history. “It was like starting all over again,” he says. To start building credit, Mosquera could only qualify for secured cards, which came with limits of around $200 or $300–nowhere near enough for a flight home, should he need one.

But his Facebook algorithm registered all his searching around on the internet about credit cards, and offered up an advertisement that proved useful: Petal, a new company that connects people with little to no credit history with a line of credit of up to $10,000. Instead of relying on the narrow criteria of U.S. credit scores, the company takes into account a person’s whole financial track record to determine creditworthiness. Mosquera signed up for the card last fall.

For Petal founder Jason Gross, launching the company last fall was all about extending credit to people who have previously been locked out of the system. For immigrants like Mosquera, lack of credit history in the U.S. makes it difficult to access a good line of credit (another company, Nova, is building out a product that would help immigrants bring their credit scores with them from their home country). Low-income people, especially those that are unbanked, often struggle to get approved, even for a low-limit credit card. A study from the U.S. Federal Reserve found that only 42% of people earning less than $25,000 per year have a credit card. Also, the fees attached to mainstream credit cards can be prohibitive: High interest rates on balances not paid off at the end of the month, as well as annual and overdraft fees, often end up adding to their financial pressures.To enable people to receive a line of credit without a traditional credit history, Petal analyzes a combination of factors: regular payments like rent (which New York State is working to incorporate into credit scoring), checking account cash flow, or history with prepaid debit cards or secure credit cards, like the ones Mosquera used when he first moved to the U.S. “People with no credit history in the U.S. are often treated like they have bad credit history,” Gross says. Petal’s approach aims to expand the criteria used to assess a person’s ability to manage a line of credit.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

November is National Scholarship Month NOW is the time to start applying for scholarships

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SALT LAKE CITY–TFS Scholarships is the most comprehensive free online resource for higher education funding connecting students to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in aid.

It was founded in 1987 after Richard Sorensen’s father, an inner-city high school principal, bemoaned the lack of good scholarship resources for his students.

High school seniors now applying for college should also be applying for scholarships, according to Richard Sorensen, an expert with more than 30 years experience helping students find scholarships.

“College bound students should spend four to five hours a week looking for scholarships, starting in the fall of their senior year,” says Sorensen, President of TFS Scholarships. “They should think about finding scholarships like it’s a part time job.”

A scholarship, unlike a student loan, is free money and should always be the first place students look for help in funding their college education. The majority of the scholarship opportunities featured on the TFS Scholarships website come directly from colleges and universities, rather than solely from competitive national pools, thereby increasing the chances of finding scholarships.

“There are new scholarships posted on the site every month, each with different deadlines and time frames,” says Sorensen. “There is plenty of aid out there and a lot of it goes untouched. If a student is diligent, they’ll find it.”

TFS Scholarships also posts a new scholarship opportunity every day on its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media accounts (@TFSscholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities. “We call it ‘The Scholarship of the Day,’” says Sorensen. “Most of the scholarships are available for all students so if a student or their parents follow us, they will have the opportunity to apply for more than 300 scholarships every year from this source alone.”

TFS takes it a step further, digging deeper into localized scholarships. “If you wanted to go to Arizona State, for example, we have scholarships specific to that school,” says Sorensen.

Each month TFS adds more than 5,000 new scholarships to its database in an effort to stay current with national scholarship growth rates – maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education.

Once students have their scholarships in hand, how they manage them can have important implications. It is up to the student to inform the school of the scholarship.

“The truth is, the money is going to be sent to the school in most cases,” says Sorensen. “If the money is going to tuition and books, it’s tax free. But it is taxable if they use it for living expenses. And if students get more money in scholarships than their direct expenses, they get the difference back from the school,” says Sorensen.

The TFS website also provides financial aid information, resources about federal and private student loan programs, and a Career Aptitude Quiz that helps students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

Thanks to the financial support of Wells Fargo, TFS has remained a free, online service that effectively connects students with college funding resources to fuel their academic future. “Students trust us with a lot of their personal information and we respect that,” says Sorensen. “With TFS, they never have to be worried about being bombarded by spam.”

For more information about Tuition Funding Sources visit tuitionfundingsources.com.

About TFS Scholarships

TFS Scholarships (TFS) is an independent service that provides free access to scholarship opportunities for aspiring and current undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Founded in 1987, TFS began as a passion project to help students and has grown into the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding. Today, TFS is a trusted place where students and families enjoy free access to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in college funding. In addition to its vast database that’s refreshed with 5,000 new scholarships every month, TFS also offers information about career planning, financial aid, and federal and private student loan programs as part of its commitment to helping students fund their future. Learn more at tuitionfundingsources.com.

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Latinos Feel the American Dream Could Be Disappearing

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Latino family

SPRINGFIELD, MA.–Financial security and homeownership are at the heart of the American Dream, but many Latinos feel the idea of the American Dream could be disappearing, according to the latest State of the American Family Study by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).

The new study examines American family attitudes towards finances and financial planning, and found that one-third (38 percent) of Latinos believe the American Dream is disappearing. When asked about the definition of the American Dream, not living paycheck to paycheck is more likely to be part of the American Dream for Latinos. Latino households are more likely to have a broader definition of family that includes extended family, and one in four (24 percent) worry about being able to care for their parents as well as their own nuclear family.

“With strong family and cultural values, Latino families are juggling multiple financial priorities, such as a future caregiver role for elderly parents,” says David Hufnagel, Latino market director at MassMutual. “We want to empower families with resources to help them achieve their long-term financial goals and prepare them to protect their loved ones from unexpected events.”

Juggling Financial Priorities

Latinos face some big challenges, including having the lowest household income of all segments surveyed and being among the least prepared for a financial emergency. With an average household income of $107,801 of those surveyed, it appears that Latinos have relatively lower accumulated wealth. Latinos have diverse financial priorities:

  • Having an emergency fund (81 percent)
  • Ensuring stable income for the family in case of an unexpected event (76 percent)
  • Not becoming a financial burden for family (74 percent)
  • Developing a comprehensive financial plan (65 percent)
  • Paying for college education (61 percent)

Interestingly, 75 percent of those who selected homeownership as part of their American Dream are confident that they will one day own a home if they do not already. However, although short-term needs such as building an emergency fund and ensuring stable family income if the unexpected happens are top priorities, they worry about meeting competing long-term goals as well as issues beyond their control.

Paying Down Debt

Paying for higher education and wanting to play an active role in preparing children for future success through financial education are especially important for Latinos. But as student debt levels continue to rise in the U.S., many families are worried about managing both day-to-day expenses and paying down debt. The majority of Latinos carry some type of debt in the form of mortgages, credit cards and student loans:

  • 63% have a mortgage. The average mortgage debt is $181,292.
  • 64% have credit card debt. The average credit card debt is $9,652.
  • 27% have student loan debt. The average student loan debt is $32,650.

Preparing for Financial Emergencies

Latinos are less prepared than other consumer populations surveyed for a financial emergency with 19 percent having less than a month of monthly expenses saved.

  • 28% of Latinos have 1-3 months of expenses saved if there was an emergency.
  • 23% of Latinos have 3-6 months of expenses saved if there was an emergency.
  • 21% of Latinos have more than 6 months of their monthly expenses if there was an emergency.

“We want to help mitigate worry and build confidence in attaining the American Dream,” says Hufnagel. Our financial advisors, many whom are bilingual, are committed to providing practical action steps to help families in their local communities meet both short-term financial goals and long-term financial security.”

MassMutual offers the following three financial tips to help address top financial concerns of Latinos:

  1. Pay down debt: The key is to find the proper balance between debt, income, savings, and retirement as part of an overall financial strategy. Start to find that balance by viewing the elimination of your debt as a long-term financial goal — one that is planned for, reviewed, and assessed regularly. Consider creating a debt management plan, or use MassMutual’s 5-10-15-20 calculator, which can help address your financial goals and concerns: income, savings, retirement and debt.
  1. Establish an emergency fund: An emergency fund is a reserve devoted to unplanned financial disasters such as sudden job loss, a house fire or a trip to the hospital. To play it safe, financial professionals recommend couples sock away between six to 12 months’ worth of living expenses in a liquid, interest bearing account – more if your job security is in question or you are self-employed.
  1. Save for college: Start saving as early as you can, even at birth for a child’s education.  Remember that time is on your side to have your money work for you through interest earned and compounded over the years.  With a comprehensive savings strategy, you can help reduce – or possibly eliminate – your child’s need for student loans.  To help you figure out how much you need to save, visit the MassMutual college savings calculator.

Other helpful financial tips and an overview of research findings from the Hispanic and other groups can be found at massmutual.com/familystudy

To find a local financial advisor near you, visit MassMutual.com.

Methodology

The State of the American Family survey was conducted for MassMutual by Isobar between January 19 and February 7, 2018 via a 20-minute online questionnaire. The survey comprised 3,235 interviews with American households with children under age 26 for whom they are financially responsible and polled 562 Americans who identified themselves as Hispanic with an annual household income equal to or greater than $50,000. Interviews were conducted among men and women aged 25-64. Respondents had to contribute at least 40% to decisions regarding financial matters in their household to qualify. Results were weighted to the 2017 CPS March Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the US Census for age, gender, income, ethnicity, region, and weighted to the 2016 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample for same sex married/partnered couples, to be representative of American families in this age and income bracket. This study includes trending data for the previous survey wave conducted in 2013. The sampling margin of error for this study is +/- 1.72 percentage points at the 95% confidence level when looking at the results for the total surveyed population.

About MassMutual

MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. MassMutual offers a wide range of financial products and services, including life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, annuities, retirement plans and other employee benefits. For more information, visit massmutual.com.

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Why Women Should Invest and How to Get Started

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Women looking at computer

by Madison Blancaflor

Lately, women hear a lot about gaps: how to combat the gender pay gap, how to avoid a resumé gap when you take time off to raise children, whether or not a thigh gap matters (it doesn’t). One “gap” that isn’t discussed enough is the gender investing gap.

Women Are Less Likely to Invest Than Men, and That’s a Problem. According to Ellevest, an investment platform created by women for women, “of all the assets controlled by women, 71% is in cash – aka not invested.” Statistically, women are less likely to invest, and even those who do invest tend to wait until they are older to start.

Most women don’t think they know enough about investing to properly grow their savings; therefore, they wait to start investing until they feel they’re more financially stable and believe they can risk the possibility of losing money. A common misconception around investing is that you have to be an expert in the industry to succeed when the reality is that there are so many tools and resources that make easy to start investing with as little as your pocket change.

Why Should Every Woman Invest?

According to a study by Merrill Lynch, 41% of women wish they invested more of their money. But why is it such a necessary part of personal finance?

Financial Equality

First and foremost, it’s important for women to be able to achieve a sense of financial equality and independence. In the face of issues like the gender pay gap and the pink tax, investing is one of the best ways for women to ensure that they have the potential to accumulate the same amount of wealth as men.

“It’s important for women to be able to walk away from situations that are hurting or not serving them – whether that’s a bad job or a bad relationship,” comments Ellevest’s Susan Thompson. “You should be able to have your own financial power to make decisions that enable you to care for yourself.”

Reaching Financial Goals

Whether you are looking to go back to school, save up an emergency fund, send your kids to college, save up for a large spend like a house or wedding, or just grow your overall wealth, investing is arguably the best way to reach those goals.

Saving for Retirement

Women earn approximately 83 cents to every dollar a man earns, on average. That means that even if we’re saving the same percentage of our income as men, we’re not going to save the same amount. In addition, women also tend to live longer. Basically, less money has to last longer when women simply save their money without an investing strategy.

Many employers do a match on a 401(k) or similar retirement savings plan. If you’re unsure about whether or not investing is really a good option for you, enroll in your employer’s program and watch as your savings grow.

Why Is a Savings Account Alone Not Enough?

Cash that sits in a checking account, safety deposit box, or under the mattress is actually depreciating in value year-over-year because of inflation. That means you’re essentially losing money when you aren’t actively growing your savings.

Check out the chart below, and you can see that a solid investments strategy can help you grow your savings exponentially over the course of 10, 20, and 30 years.

Men are five times more likely to name investing as their number one financial goal, meaning that more men are achieving those exponential returns throughout their lifetime than women. Investing allows women to earn more money than a savings account alone, even with small monthly deposits.

How to “Invest Like A Woman”

Despite the stereotypical belief that we aren’t good investors, women actually tend to possess quite a few qualities that give us an edge in the market.

Kiplinger’s article on the secrets of women investors puts it perfectly: “Studies show that men are more inclined to behave like baseball sluggers, who swing for the fences, even if it means running the risk of striking out far more often. Women, by contrast, are more like contact hitters, who are satisfied with a string of singles.”

Because women approach risk differently, we’re less likely to see large swings in our portfolio values, meaning a steadier growth over time.

Studies have also found that women are:

  • Less likely to trade investments, which translates into almost a 1% higher increase in investment earnings per year than men (who trade 45% more frequently than women).
  • Long-term planners, meaning we focus on our specific growth goals rather than chasing risky returns that may end up costing us.
  • More likely to ask for financial help. Just because 60% of men think they are experts at investing does not mean they know everything there is to know about the market. Women being more willing to seek out trusted financial advice from experts in the industry give us more opportunities to grow our wealth.

So, how do you leverage these qualities in your investments strategy?

Choose a Strategy That Works for You

Not all investing strategies are created equal, and unfortunately, most of the “gender-neutral” investing tools available to the public ultimately hinder the potential earnings for women.

Ellevest released a side-by-side comparison of a retirement scenario where a man and a woman both started saving at 30 years old, earning $85,000, and investing 10% of their salaries over the course of 37 years.

The study found that because of the gender pay gap and the natural progression of women’s careers (our salaries tend to peak at 40 while men’s salaries tend to peak at 55, and women are much more likely to take long career breaks), the woman would have about $320,000 less by the time she retires based on average market returns. That means she’ll have less money to live off of even though she’s likely to live years longer than the man.

Take these differences into consideration when you’re defining your goals, retirement plan, and investment strategies.

Figure Out Budget Allocation

Experts suggest a 50/30/20 philosophy when allocating your budget. You should strive to keep your “needs” at 50 percent of your income – food, rent/mortgage, clothes, utilities, etc. Then, 30% should be dedicated to self-care. Have some fun, get a manicure, go out to eat with friends. Lastly, 20% should be saved or invested.

Figuring out how much you should invest vs. set aside in a short-term savings account comes down to how much risk you’re willing to undertake. Year over year, the market has been steadily rising, but that doesn’t mean that a return is guaranteed. The golden rule is to never invest more than you’re willing to lose, especially if you’re going after aggressive or volatile markets.

Once you decide, Susan Thompson suggests setting up automatic withdrawals each month, even if it’s only $20 a month.

“In our mind, investing should be a ritual like any other that we undertake,” said Thompson. “Make a habit of putting money back towards your future, even if it’s a small amount.”

Know the Basics

Even though you don’t have to be a stock market expert, knowing the basics can help you communicate your goals and understand what’s happening with your money.

Some of the different types of assets you can invest in:

Stocks. They represent a part ownership in a company or corporation, also known as business equity. Basically, when a company performs well, the stock tends to increase in value. Stocks tend to be more volatile investments, meaning they can give you a high return on your investment long-term but tend to have larger swings in value in the short-term.

Bonds. Also known as fixed-income investments, bonds are one of the most popular assets for conservative portfolios. While they tend to be more stable than stocks or other volatile investments, they also have a lower return potential.

Money Market Accounts. When investing in these types of accounts, you’re allowing the bank to make low-risk investments into certificates of deposit (CDs) or government securities. The best money market accounts are low-return, yet stable investment assets.

Real Estate. Property has a tendency to rise in value over time, and there is a subset of investors who specialize in transforming real estate investments into high returns.
Cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and blockchain technologies are continuing to grow in popularity.

Conservative vs. Aggressive Investment Strategies

Investing and portfolio strategies are typically broken down into two main categories: aggressive and conservative. Aggressive strategies will put more money into stocks or other volatile markets such as cryptocurrencies. Conservative strategies will put more into bonds and money market accounts.

Aggressive investments typically get you a much higher return over time, but they’re also riskier. By contrast, conservative investments are more stable, but without the opportunity for the maximum return.

Your personal strategy can be a mix of both, and your strategy should ultimately be based on your financial goals, timeline, and risk tolerance.

If you’re looking at short-term financial goals such as saving up for a wedding or looking to pull together an emergency fund, a more conservative route will work best. This limits the risk of you losing money while still promising a good return.

However, if you’re looking to save for retirement over the course of 20 or 30 years, an aggressive strategy is going to get you the best return possible. While aggressive markets tend to fluctuate widely in the short term, the overall market trends upward an average of 10% each year. When you can afford to be patient in the market (something women are proven to be better at than men), an aggressive strategy can definitely pay off in your favor.

Also, remember that your investment strategy is not set in stone. As your financial goals change and as you get closer to when you plan on pulling money out of your investment accounts, it’s important to readjust your priorities and risk tolerance.

Choose the Right Investment Platform

If you don’t consider yourself an investment expert (and frankly, even if you do), getting professional help is a good idea. There are a lot of options out there for both the DIY-er and someone looking for one-on-one help. However, be careful about who you choose to trust with your money.

  1. Choose a fiduciary.

A fiduciary is a company or organization that is legally bound to do the right thing by their clients. Not all brokers or investment firms classify as a fiduciary, so make sure to ask before officially signing with anyone. If you find a great firm that isn’t a fiduciary, just make sure that they put client security and well-being above personal gain.

  1. Know their strategy.

Talk to any potential firms about their strategy for investments. Some firms craft personalized portfolios that you have a heavy hand in selecting. Others use a formula and automated system for choosing your investments. Every firm and platform is different, so make sure that the firm you choose uses a strategy that will work best for you.

For example, most robo-investment platforms use an investment algorithm that is based on a man’s salary projections and career lifetime, so they aren’t always the best choices for a personalized approach to fit a woman’s financial goals for the long-term.

  1. Consider your budget.

Take a serious look at the minimum balance requirements and fees for each platform or firm you’re considering. If you have a tighter budget, it will be worth it to find a platform or firm structured like Ellevest, where you can choose an account

  1. Trust your gut.

If you get an “off” feeling about a firm or platform that you’re considering, trust it. You are trusting a company with your financial future, and in order to do that, you have to trust that they are acting in your best interest. Take the time to find a platform or firm that serves you and your financial goals.

  1. Look for firms that support women.

While women investors are on the rise, there is still a gap between the number of men and women are in the investments market. Make sure you’re choosing a firm that will support your financial goals and understand the unique challenges that women face in the industry. Also take a look at the companies that these firms and platforms invest in. Are any of them led by women? Do they support women? While it may not immediately affect the return you get, choosing a firm or platform with a pro-women mindset will help us gain financial equality in the long-run.

Continue on to The Simple Dollar for the complete article

The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

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iGen

Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting, ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.