Monthly Archives: April 2017

Introduction to Close Corporations

Mention the corporate entity and most people start thinking about S or C designations. In some states, close corporations are another variable that are available.

First things first – a close corporation does not refer to a closing as with a door. It refers to a limited number of shareholders. It is a unique entity that is not available in all states, but is worth a look where it is.

The close corporation was originally designed to be a more user-friendly business entity than traditional corporations. It was the LLC before limited liability companies existed. Once LLCs received favorable tax designations in the late 1980s, the close corporation became the forgotten stepsister of business entities. That being said, it offers some unique advantages.

So, what advantages does the entity have over the LLC? The biggest advantage often has to do with state taxes. Many states have taken note of the popularity of the LLC and passed fees and taxes that make the LLC unattractive. In California, for instance, there is a gross revenue tax on the LLC. Yes, GROSS revenues. The close corporation faces no such tax.

Another advantage of a close corporation compared to an LLC is the protection from personal liability it provides. The protection is exactly the same as found in traditional corporations. LLCs are purported to offer such protection, but the truth is nobody is absolutely sure this is the case. The protection provided by the corporate entity has been hashed out over hundreds of years and is clear. The LLC is only 20 years old as a commonly used entity and the courts have not yet fully ruled on how the liability shield will work.

There are limits and downsides to the close corporation. First, the number of shareholders is restricted, often to 25 to 35 shareholders. Also, minority shareholders have a lot of power. A single shareholder, for instance, may be able to file a request for involuntary dissolution of the corporation with the relevant Secretary of State. This can, of course, lead to some interesting board meetings. Finally, close corporations run the real risk of being attacked through alter ego claims as they are often run shoddily by the limited number of shareholders and directors.

The close corporation is a business entity that provides an interesting and unique set of positives in states where it is available. The regulations applicable to it vary by state and you should investigate those in your jurisdiction before addressing them.

Corporate Governance and Small Businesses

Let’s start with some review of what types of companies primarily drive the US economy.   We know that there are about 16,000 publicly traded companies represented on the NASDAQ, NYSE and the AMEX.  The key economic driver in the US is the 27 million small businesses.  The Small Business Administration 2008 Presidential Report on The Small Business Economy clearly communicated “the economy generated 1.1 million net new jobs in 2007. In the first quarter of 2007, 74 percent of the net new jobs were in small firms with fewer than 500 employees and 22 percent were in firms with fewer than 20 employees.”   Yet, the gross amount of attention in the media and the federal bureaucracy is around what is happening in the Markets.  This is understandable with the volumes of dollars transitioning in this public environment. The economic recovery program is not addressing the core of the economy, small businesses.   More than ever the public market environment is being questioned about corporate governance.  The new legislation being considered for public companies has sections that may very well trickle down and require the small businesses to adhere to similar if not exact rules on Corporate Governance.

A simple definition of Corporate Governance for the small business:  

Corporate governance simply refers to the set of internal policies, rules, and procedures that a company follows on a regular basis to ensure that it operates in a fair, equitable, and appropriate manner for the benefit of the company, its management and its shareholders. A corporation usually has a board of directors and a senior “C” level management team.   Most small businesses do not have these organizational entities clearly defined and functional.  For private companies that are registered as a corporation and have investors, the various states require these entities to have a governing board.  Yet many small businesses incorporate for tax issues and do not necessarily pay attention to the concepts of corporate governance. 

How does Corporate Governance apply to small businesses?  

All businesses should look at their organizational structure and continually assess what will allow the company to perform in an optimal way.  The simplest way to implement this is to have an advisory board.  The advisory board is non-paid individuals that have business or industry specific backgrounds that can contribute ideas or mentor management.  In more formal and traditional cases a small corporation has a board of directors comprised of the founders, a spouse, an employee and maybe – just maybe an outside director.  The focal point of corporate governance within small businesses is that all businesses need to set company strategic goals, provide the leadership to put them into effect, supervise the management of the business, and if the company has stockholders, report to the stockholders on their stewardship.  For those small businesses that do not have the hierarchical structure in place to implement formal corporate governance plans, it is recommended that regular self assessment of the company will be the starting place for accountability, to enhance performance, grow the company and be a greater contributing force in the economy.  At the end of the day, if you follow some set of policies and procedures and are reporting your stewardship of the company to someone even if it is your dog, then you have accountability that is key to corporate governance practices.

Will the government impose its will and definition of Corporate Governance from the public markets into the small business environment?

This imposition of government from the public market companies to privately held companies is making its way through the halls of congress.  One idea being tagged onto present legislation is to extend Sarbanes-Oxley down to privately held companies.  Anyone that knows anything about SOX is aware of the high cost to implement the documentation processes and the reporting.   Pushing this down to the small business environment would be cost prohibitive and stunt economic growth.  The general politics of mandated corporate governance is to wait and see how new legislation will affect the small businesses driving the US economy.

As a final note, every company, no matter what size it is, will see the positive effects of implementing the principles of corporate governance.  The facts remain that there are 27 million plus small businesses in the US who are the job creators and the drivers of the economy.  The greatness of US business is that it performs the best when individuals come together in a free market environment to meet the needs of the economy and society.  In the end, best practices of corporate governance can be freely implemented to benefit the company or corporate governance can be instituted by the government, which can cost more in resources, planning and profit.  Take the time to assess how your small business views corporate governance and how this will enhance your growth in the market place.

Nature and Scope of Economics

Many writers of the early days defined economics as “a science of wealth”. Adam Smith commonly know as the father of modern economics, defined economics as “An enquiry into the nature and causes of wealth of nations.”

These definitions were defective because they gave much importance to wealth. As wealth is not everything, it only leads to achieve welfare of human. Therefore it is man an which is the aim all of the economic activities.

Professor Dr. Alfred Marshall was the first economist who gave a logical definition of economics. He defined economics as: “A study of mankind in ordinary business of life, it examine that part of individual and social actions which is closely related with attainment and use of material requisites”

CHARACTERISTICS OF DEFINITION:

This definition gave a new direction to the study of economics. Following are the important characteristics of definition.

1. A Social Science

This Definition makes economics a social science. It is a subject that is concerned with the people living in society. According to Marshall, as the behavior of human beings is not same all the time therefore principles of economics cannot be formulated like the laws of sciences. Further laws of economics are not as exact as the laws of natural sciences. For this reason it is a social science.

2. Study Of Man

Economics is related to man; therefore it is living subject. It discusses economic problems and behavior of man. According to Marshall it studies the behavior of man In ordinary business of life.

3. Wealth As A Means Of Material Well Being

According to Marshall, wealth is not the ultimate objective of human activities and therefore we do not study wealth, for the sake of wealth. Therefore according to this definition we study wealth as a source of attainment of material welfare.

4. Economics And Welfare

This definition makes economics a welfare oriented subject. We are concerned only with those economic activities which do not promote material welfare of human beings are out of the scope of economics.

5. Materiality

Marshal stresses upon the concept of “material requisite of well being”. Therefore according to this definition all economic activities resolve around the acquisition and use of material goods like food, clothing etc. because they increase welfare of human beings. On the other hand non-material requisites of human life like education, recreation are ignored.

6. Normative Outlook

According to this definition economics should take care of good and bad aspects of economic activities and therefore involve itself in “what should be and what should not be”. This is called normative aspect of economics.

CRITICISM

“Robbins and other many economists severely criticized this definition on following grounds.”

1. Limited To Material Welfare

This definition limits the subject of economics to material welfare of people. But the subject of economics is not limited to the study of material welfare of human beings. In reality both material and non material aspects of wellbeing are studies in economics.

2. Vague Concept of Welfare

The concept of welfare used in this definition is also not clear. The welfare of human beings is not limited to the attainment of material requisites. There are many other factors which affect the human welfare. Further the word “welfare” has different meaning for different persons and different societies. Therefore we cannot define economics using an unclear concept of welfare.

3. Limited Scope

This definition has made the scope of economics limited. Only those activities are studied in economics which are aimed at the attainment of material requisites of well being. Further it ignores the economic activities of a person not living in society. Attainment of non material requisites of human well being fall out of the scope of economics. This division of material and non material aspects of human welfare is not correct.

4. Economics And Welfare

According to Robbins the study of economic activities on the basis of welfare is not good. It is not the duty of an economist to pass verdict that what is conducive to welfare and what is not. Thus according to Robbins “Whatever Economics is concerned with, it is not concerned with causes of material welfare as such.

5. Moral Judgment

In this definition Marshall makes economics a subject which considers the right and wrong aspect of economic activities. According to Robbins economics in neutral as regards ends and it is not the function of an economist to pass moral judgments and say what is good and what is bad.

6. Unrealistic

This definition appears to be unrealistic as we analyze it critically. The unclear concept of welfare, the division of ends into material and non material, the stress on good and bad, the concept of man living in society etc. all these concepts put unnecessary restrictions and make the scope of economics limited. These ideas make the definition unrealistic.

CONCLUSION

Although this definition gave a new direction to the subject of economics but it had many weaknesses. Some of the faults of definition are discussed above. For these reasons this definition was replaced by other new definitions of economics.

Keep Calm And Carry On! How To Manage Your Team Through A Crisis

Football, it’s a funny old game. For most of us, Christmas is a time for putting our feet up and forgetting about the stresses and strains of our work lives. Not for the humble football manager however. The UK is unique among European football leagues by not having a winter break, and the festive period is one of the most congested periods in the footballing calendar. That may well be great for the armchair fan, but for the unlucky manager whose team doesn’t have the best of Christmases it can mean an early bath.

Off the back of another eventful festive campaign there are a number of premier league managers who may fear a phone call this morning and in a highly competitive world with so much riding on each game, even the best managers can find themselves in trouble if the results don’t go their way.

Although not quite so public and open to scrutiny, managers in every industry face similar pressures to succeed in all walks of life. Everything can’t always go according to plan and even the best of us will face set backs, so what should you do if you find the wheels are starting to come off?

Hopefully you will have more time to rectify the situation than the average Premiership manager, so here’s a few hints to help you on your quest for disaster aversion:

Keep Calm & Carry On!

Nothing makes a bad situation worse than panicking about it. Be rational, clear thinking and assertive, running around and flapping about it isn’t going to help.

Analyse & Learn

It’s not the disaster that counts as much as the recovery, and being seen to take on board what has gone wrong and put it right is a huge part of your disaster recovery. Football managers may not get the time to do this but not every industry is as cutthroat as the average Premier League team.

Keep Your Staff Onside

When things go wrong you need everyone to pull together to get it right. Keeping your staff onside is vital if you are to overcome the bumps along the road, and motivational tools and incentives such as corporate gifts can be an effective way of making sure they are up for the challenge.

Luckily the management world doesn’t always have to run in the same way as it does in football, and if problems do crop up along the way then the chances are you will get more than enough time to sort them out.

Maslow on My Mind: How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Affects Business and Society

Introduction: Maslow in the Big Apple

Abraham Maslow was born in New York in 1908 to poor, uneducated Russian immigrants. He was the oldest of seven children, and therefore pushed by his parents to succeed in education where they had not. Originally studying to be a lawyer, he found it to be of little interest and eventually shifted over to psychology where he excelled. Maslow went on to receive his PhD in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, under the tutelage of Harry Harlow, famous for experimentation with rhesus monkeys and attachment behavior. After some time he returned to New York and began studying human sexuality. In addition to this study, during the years of teaching, he had the opportunity to meet many well-respected psychologists which further helped to shape his thoughts on the human needs. The final event which led Maslow to move in the humanistic direction came from the study of the development of the concept of “self-actualization”. It was this study that led Maslow to develop his famous Hierarchy of Needs Theory.[1]

Food for thought: What humans really need

Until Maslow began to develop his theories, most studies on human nature focused on biology, achievement or power to explain the forces that drive us.

Maslow postulated that there were five levels of basic needs that every human attempts to attain:

Externally-Satisfied Needs (basic needs that every individual must satisfy before they can progress).

1. Physiological – I’m hungry.

2. Safety – I’m scared.

Internally-Satisfied Needs (needs leading to enlightenment and understanding.

3. Social – I’m lonely.

4. Esteem – I can’t.

5. Self Actualization – I can!

In the 1970s, Maslow further split this hierarchy up into a total of eight levels:[2]

1) Physiological: hunger, thirst, bodily comforts, etc.;

2) Safety/security: out of danger;

3) Belonging and Love: affiliate with others, be accepted; and

4) Esteem: to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition.

5) Cognitive: to know, to understand, and explore; (new)

6) Aesthetic: symmetry, order, and beauty; (new)

7) Self-actualization: to find self-fulfillment and realize one’s potential; and

8) Self-transcendence: to connect to something beyond the ego or to help others find self-fulfillment and realize their potential. (new) (This concept is relatively new and many authors such as Dr. Stephen covey express similar views.)[3]

Another way to look at the Needs is to break it into “D-Needs” (Deficiency) and “B-Needs” (Being). Maslow believed that the deficiency needs, once satisfied ceased to be a driving force for the individual, and they were then free to move upward to developing themselves.

If we follow the traditional hierarchical form, we can see that each need forms the basis of the next need above it in the pyramid. Without these previous foundations, Maslow believed that it is impossible to move on to the next stage in the hierarchy.[4]

In spite of the fact that it is very well-known and intrinsically comforting, there seems to be little hard evidence that the theory actually applies to people in general. Even Maslow admitted to this.[5]

A learning experience

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has had a dramatic influence on the field of education. Traditional beliefs regarding educational methodology have shifted to a more humanistic approach, with the focus on meeting the students’ basic needs in order to assist them to progress.

The most important goal in education is to learn, followed by developing an understanding of the material to retain it, and apply it in life. In order to do this, the students need to be motivated enough to work hard to achieve this goal. Without motivation to learn it is unlikely that the education will succeed to the extent that it is intended.

In order to maximize this motivational desire, the educators need to attend to the needs of the student. By understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, teachers can work toward realizing the basic needs that develop the foundation for higher learning, or actualization.

Here is an example of how the school can meet the basic needs of the students:

If the school understands that in order to function at school, students need the basic physiological needs satisfied before they can absorb their studies, they may consider providing lunches if a great deal of the students do not have their own. This would then propel the learners to the next level. By fostering a trusting, safe environment, with a classroom social network, and providing praise in the form of positive reinforcement from the teachers, the students will be able to focus on their learning.[6]

A real example that has come up near the end of the 20th century with respect to this is the problems that have arisen due to the beliefs on “special education”. During the 70s and 80s when where the traditional beliefs of segregating children with special needs (physical, intellectual, or emotional) was employed in the school system anomalies arose that called into question these beliefs. It was believed that by placing these students in separate learning atmospheres they would be able to learn at a pace more appropriate to their abilities, receive special attention and eventually progress through the system to receive the same education at the end of the program. As it turns out, this did not happen and the children’s learning was hampered.[7]

Managing expectations

Focusing on such human needs for successful motivation can very easily be ported over to the business world and applied in the field of Management. In fact, Maslow himself became fascinated with the field of management and attempted to explain the ability of good managers to motivate their employees using a solid understanding of the Hierarch of Needs. He even went so far as to regularly visit a high-tech company in California to study the management practices in the 1960s. Maslow discovered that managers who treat their subordinates with trust and respect created an environment that promoted a better work situation and improved productivity.

Peter Drucker, the famous management guru has said that “Maslow’s contribution to management was a big one. He pointed out hat you have to have different personnel policies for different people in different situations for them to be truly effective.”[8]

Why ‘Y’?

Theories X and Y, as developed by Douglas McGregor fit very nicely into the Needs Theory. If humans are intrinsically searching for something to help propel them to the next level, and have an internal desire to progress, and give back to society, as is believed by the followers of “Theory Y”, then it goes to reason that the humanistic approach, as laid out by Maslow would assist these individuals in reaching their goals. If we believe that human nature responds best to a positive, nurturing atmosphere, then managers that hold the following beliefs with respect to their staff should be able to raise them up higher in an attempt to improve productivity, and the individual goals of the worker:

1. Employees view work as natural.

2. Commitment to goals leads to self-direction and self-control.

3. People will look for situations where they can receive accountability for their work.

4. Decision-making on various levels can be spread among the company and not be the sole responsibility of upper management.[9]

What’s ‘Humanism’ got to do, got to do with it?

Humanism is the “third force” in psychology, following the traditional studies of behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Maslow, Carl Rogers, Rolly May and many others helped to advance this way of looking at the human condition.

Humanism has a long history going back to the times of the Greek philosophers of the 6th century BC. It has come forward in time and developed into three broad categories: religious, secular, educational humanism. When people discuss “humanism” they generally mean the understanding of secular humanism.

“Humanism is a broad category of active ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities— particularly rationality, common history, experience, and belief. Humanism is a component of a variety of more specific philosophical systems, and is also incorporated into some religious schools of thought.

Humanism entails a commitment to the search for truth and morality through human means in support of human interests. In focusing on the capacity for self-determination, humanism rejects transcendental justifications, such as a dependence on faith, the supernatural or divinely revealed texts. Humanists endorse universal morality based on the commonality of human nature, suggesting that solutions to our social and cultural problems cannot be parochial.”[10]

Humanists generally believe the following:[11]

1. Humanism is a philosophy focused upon human means for comprehending reality. Humanists make no claims to possess or have access to supposed transcendent knowledge.

2. Humanism is a philosophy of reason and science in the pursuit of knowledge. Therefore, when it comes to the question of the most valid means for acquiring knowledge of the world, Humanists reject arbitrary faith, authority, revelation, and altered states of consciousness.

3. Humanism is a philosophy of imagination. Humanists recognize that intuitive feelings, hunches, speculation, flashes of inspiration, emotion, altered states of consciousness, and even religious experience, while not valid means to acquire knowledge, remain useful sources of ideas that can lead us to new ways of looking at the world. These ideas, after they have been assessed rationally for their usefulness, can then be put to work, often as alternate approaches for solving problems.

4. Humanism is a philosophy for the here and now. Humanists regard human values as making sense only in the context of human life rather than in the promise of a supposed life after death.

5. Humanism is a philosophy of compassion. Humanist ethics is solely concerned with meeting human needs and answering human problems–for both the individual and society–and devotes no attention to the satisfaction of the desires of supposed theological entities.

6. Humanism is a realistic philosophy. Humanists recognize the existence of moral dilemmas and the need for careful consideration of immediate and future consequences in moral decision making.

7. Humanism is in tune with the science of today. Humanists therefore recognize that we live in a natural universe of great size and age that we evolved on this planet over a long period of time, that there is no compelling evidence for a separable “soul,” and that human beings have certain built-in needs that effectively form the basis for any human-oriented value system.

8. Humanism is in tune with today’s enlightened social thought. Humanists are committed to civil liberties, human rights, church-state separation, the extension of participatory democracy not only in government but in the workplace and education, an expansion of global consciousness and exchange of products and ideas internationally, and an open-ended approach to solving social problems, an approach that allows for the testing of new alternatives.

9. Humanism is in tune with new technological developments. Humanists are willing to take part in emerging scientific and technological discoveries in order to exercise their moral influence on these revolutions as they come about, especially in the interest of protecting the environment.

10. Humanism is, in sum, a philosophy for those in love with life. Humanists take responsibility for their own lives and relish the adventure of being part of new discoveries, seeking new knowledge, exploring new options. Instead of finding solace in prefabricated answers to the great questions of life, Humanists enjoy the open-endedness of a quest and the freedom of discovery that this entails.

What is holding us back?

If reaching the summit of the mountain of self-actualization were easy, everyone would be enlightened, happy, hard-working, creative, and wealthy. We would all strive to take responsibility for our actions, and attempt to improve the situation around us by developing new and unique ideas. Unfortunately, this is not happening. What is holding us back from reaching our “fully functional, healthy personality”?

I concur with Maslow that society and the education system are preventing individuals from reaching their full potential. Here is what Maslow has to say on the matter:

“The state of being without a system of values is psychopathogenic, we are learning. The human being needs a framework of values, a philosophy of life, a religion or religion-surrogate to live by and understand by, in about the same sense he needs sunlight, calcium or love. This I have called the “cognitive need to understand.” The value- illnesses which result from valuelessness are called variously anhedonia, anomie, apathy, amorality, hopelessness, cynicism, etc., and can become somatic illness as well. Historically, we are in a value interregnum in which all externally given value systems have proven failures (political, economic, religious, etc.) e.g., nothing is worth dying for. What man needs but doesn’t have, he seeks for unceasingly, and he becomes dangerously ready to jump at any hope, good or bad. The cure for this disease is obvious. We need a validated, usable system of human values that we can believe in and devote ourselves to (be willing to die for), because they are true rather than because we are exhorted to “believe and have faith.” Such an empirically based Weltanschauung seems now to be a real possibility, at least in theoretical outline.” [12]

If society is not instilling the proper values into the youth of today, they are unable to develop a healthy outlook on life. This will hamper their journey to self-actualization. The education system is also currently not providing the proper morals, and positive, nurturing environment for students in order for them to grow. The schools need to focus on the areas of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs that are deficient in the student body, nurture them, and help their students to excel in ways that go deeper than just good grades.

Summary: Change Your Socks, Change Your Attitude

In the contemporary business world, a product-centered business style is no longer successful. Companies must now, more than ever before, develop a consumer-centric approach to business. The market is demassifying, and this means that individual needs must be met.

In order for the education system to produce individuals that can reach the peak of Maslow’s pyramid, the schools should also take a similar approach and rather than focus on the product (education), they should instead focus on meeting the needs of the client (student). This will by no means be an easy task for it requires a tremendous amount of time and energy on the part of the supplier (schools), but the end results will produce a much more satisfied customer who is able to benefit from the interaction.

Maslow lists 10 points that educators and teachers ought to consider in order to change their style so as to move toward the self-actualization of the individual. A summary of these points can be found below:

1. Be true to yourself.

2. Do not be bound by your culture.

3. Discover your calling.

4. Life is precious.

5. Do not judge people.

6. See to the satisfaction of basic needs.

7. Take time to smell the roses.

8. Learn self-control.

9. Don’t sweat the little things.

10. Make the right decisions.

These can and should be applied to all aspects of life, from your private time, through education and even in the work environment in order to work toward improving yourself and society.

References

1. C. George Boeree, ‘Abraham Maslow, 1908-1970’, http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/maslow.html

2. Huitt, W. (2004). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved [date] from, http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/regsys/maslow.html.

3. Stephen R. Covey, ‘The 8th Habit, From Effectiveness to Greatness’, FranklinCovey Co., Free Press, 2004.

4. Wikipedia, ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

5. Educational Psychology Interactive

6. Jones, Michael. “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Can Lower Recidivism.” Corrections Today 66.4 (2004): 18–22.

7. Norman Kunc, ‘The Need to Belong: Rediscovering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’, Axis Consultation and Training Ltd,, [http://www.normemma.com/armaslow.htm], 1998.

8. Excerpted from Maslow on Management, by Abraham H. Maslow, with Deborah Stephens and Gary Heil, 1998.

9. Robbins, Stephen P., ‘Essentials of organizational behavior, eighth edition’, Pearson Education Inc., 2005, p50

10. Wikipedia definition for ‘humanism’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism

11. Frederick Edwards, ‘What is Humanism?’, American Humanist Association, 1989, [http://www.jcn.com/humanism.php4]

12. Maslow, A., & Lowery, R. (Ed.). (1998). ‘Toward a psychology of being (3rd ed.)’, New York: Wiley & Sons.

Italian Shoes Made in China

Most of us do not associate “Made in China” with luxury or designer brands but more and more of those fancy Italian shoes you like so much are actually made in China. You just may not find a tag inside the shoe saying so.

Especially in the current economic market, the sales of luxury items have decreased significantly and some designer brands are suffering. One of the most effective ways to cut costs is to move the base of operation overseas, and China provides one of the most appealing markets to set up shop.

The fact that “American” or “European” shoes are made in China is no secret. Nike has long been associated with “Made in China” shoes; in fact, approximately one in three of Nike’s sneakers come with a “Made in China” sticker. This compromise is trickier for designer brands such as Chanel, Prada and Armani that have built the success of their brand on “European craftsmanship” through and through. One of the reasons that someone might spend an extra 300 dollars on a Prada shoe is that they want a piece of artisanal Europe. They want to believe that what they are purchasing is the real deal – an Italian leather shoe built by someone who knows and loves the art of shoemaking, not by a factory worker in China.

So which companies have jumped continents? Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Bally and Prada, to name a few brands. But not all of these companies are willing to publicize this new base of operation. In fact, in some of these shoes you will find a “Made in Italy” label where perhaps a “Made in China” label should be instead. This is possible thanks to some very flexible labeling laws which base a product’s label on the final point of production. So shoes made in China will have a leather sole attached in Italy and Voila! The shoes are legally “Made in Italy”.

That is not to say that these shoes are worse quality now than when they were manufactured in Europe. The claim is that workers in China are fast and precise. That is, they are capable of making equally high-quality shoes just in less time and for less money.

According to Giorgio Bonacarso – a chemical supplier who sells products to Chinese factories that manufacture Italian shoes – nine out of 10 of the high-end Italian shoe companies are now making at least part of their shoes in China. You, the consumer, may not be aware of it, and that is because the designer brands are afraid of backlash and losing the image that made them stand out from the pack in the first place.

Used Mobile Homes – A Checklist for Inspection Before Buying

When buying a used mobile home, there are several things to keep in mind. This useful checklist can help ensure you end up with a structurally sound manufactured home to call your own.

Avoid Aluminum Wiring

Used mobile homes, particularly those originally built in the 1970’s, might be equipped with aluminum wiring. Aluminum wire can be a fire hazard; it expands when it warms and contracts when it cools, causing the wiring to loosen over time. Also, aluminum oxidizes or corrodes when it contacts certain metals. This combination can lead to sparking in the walls. To check the wiring, first shut off the electricity. Then, remove an electrical outlet or switch cover and look inside. If the bare ends of the wires are silver in color, they are more than likely aluminum. If you find a home you love with aluminum wiring, you may want to have a professional evaluate it.

Gaps around Door and Window Frames

When mobile homes are purchased and set up, they are placed on cinder blocks to meet the frame. Over time, the home settles and can shift and move. Gaps on the top and bottom of the door frames and windows, as well as wavy interior walls, can be an indication of a home that needs to be re-leveled. A manufactured home dealer or contractor can do this inexpensively. Be wary of any mobile home that has settled too much; it probably won’t be a good purchase, even if re-leveled.

Check Ceilings for Stains and Exterior of Roof for Sagging

If you notice stains on the ceiling of the mobile home, it can indicate a roof leak. If it has rained recently and the stains are dry, leaks have likely been repaired. But if they’re wet, that’s another story. Additionally, if the stains have multiple rings, this likely means that the roof has leaked on several occasions which may be a sign of larger issues.

Check Exterior for Wavy Shingles or Sagging Roof Lines

When you buy a mobile home, be sure to check that the shingles don’t appear wavy, brittle or curled. All of these can be an indication of heat build up in an attic with poor ventilation, which is fairly common in older mobile homes. If you see this on a used mobile home you’re considering buying, you’ll probably need to replace the shingles. Also, be sure to check the roof for sagging, as this may indicate that there is rotten wood in the roof support.

Got a Metal Roof? Check for Rust

Just like the famous “Love Shack” song by the B52’s, if the “tin roof rusted,” this means the mobile home has a metal roof that was not properly sealed. Sealing on a metal manufactured home roof should be done every twelve to eighteen months.

Step on Floors to Check for Soft Spots

Many used mobile homes, particularly older ones, have particle-board flooring. When these floors sustain significant water damage, they become soft and sponge-like. This can cause them to warp or even rot. Step on the floors throughout the home to look for any soft spots, especially in the bathrooms. Pay particular attention to the floor around a toilet; that area can be problematic because of condensation and toilet clogs.

Avoid Polybutylene Piping

If the plumbing in the home is gray, blue or black and 1/2″ to 1″ in diameter, have a licensed plumber confirm whether or not it is polybutylene piping. Many older mobile homes have poly piping, which was once used extensively because of its low cost and easy installation. However, the piping has been the source of many leaks (and lawsuits). Not only does the piping itself break down over time, the clamps that are used as tees, elbows and couplings tend to leak as well. You will want to have this plumbing replaced as the home will be difficult to sell or insure with such a high risk.

Check Window Sealant

Check the plastic beading around the windows. UV rays cause the beading to become brittle over time, allowing moisture to come into the mobile home. Hail or a small tree falling near the window can also crack the beading. If the beading is worn or cracked, you will likely need to reseal the windows.

If you’re in the market for a used mobile home, print this helpful guide and bring it with you as a reminder of what to watch out for. Keep in mind this checklist should not replace a professional’s evaluation.

Copyright © 2010, American Modern Insurance Group, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

Business Analyst Finance Domain Sample Resume

This is just a sample Business Analyst resume for freshers as well as for experienced job seekers in Finance domain of business analyst or system analyst. While this is only a sample resume, please use this only for reference purpose, do not copy the same client names or job duties for your own purpose. Always make your own resume with genuine experience.

Name: Justin Megha

Ph no: XXXXXXX

your email here.

Business Analyst, Business Systems Analyst

SUMMARY

  • Accomplished in Business Analysis, System Analysis, Quality Analysis and Project Management with extensive experience in business products, operations and Information Technology on the capital markets space specializing in Finance such as Trading, Fixed Income, Equities, Bonds, Derivatives(Swaps, Options, etc) and Mortgage with sound knowledge of broad range of financial instruments.
  • Over 11+ Years of proven track record as value-adding, delivery-loaded project hardened professional with hands-on expertise spanning in System Analysis, Architecting Financial applications, Data warehousing, Data Migrations, Data Processing, ERP applications, SOX Implementation and Process Compliance Projects.
  • Accomplishments in analysis of large-scale business systems, Project Charters, Business Requirement Documents, Business Overview Documents, Authoring Narrative Use Cases, Functional Specifications, and Technical Specifications, data warehousing, reporting and testing plans.
  • Expertise in creating UML based Modelling views like Activity/ Use Case/Data Flow/Business Flow /Navigational Flow/Wire Frame diagrams using Rational Products & MS Visio.
  • Proficient as long time liaison between business and technology with competence in Full Life Cycle of System (SLC) development with Waterfall, Agile, RUP methodology, IT Auditing and SOX Concepts as well as broad cross-functional experiences leveraging multiple frameworks.
  • Extensively worked with the On-site and Off-shore Quality Assurance Groups by assisting the QA team to perform Black Box /GUI testing/ Functionality /Regression /System /Unit/Stress /Performance/ UAT’s.
  • Facilitated change management across entire process from project conceptualization to testing through project delivery, Software Development & Implementation Management in diverse business & technical environments, with demonstrated leadership abilities.

EDUCATION

  • Post Graduate Diploma (in Business Administration), USA
  • Master’s Degree (in Computer Applications),
  • Bachelor’s Degree (in Commerce),

TECHNICAL SKILLS

Documentation Tools UML, MS Office (Word, Excel, Power Point, Project), MS Visio, Erwin

SDLC Methodologies Waterfall, Iterative, Rational Unified Process (RUP), Spiral, Agile

Modeling Tools UML, MS Visio, Erwin, Power Designer, Metastrom Provision

Reporting Tools Business Objects X IR2, Crystal Reports, MS Office Suite

QA Tools Quality Center, Test Director, Win Runner, Load Runner, QTP, Rational Requisite Pro, Bugzilla, Clear Quest

Languages Java, VB, SQL, HTML, XML, UML, ASP, JSP

Databases & OS MS SQL Server, Oracle 10g, DB2, MS Access on Windows XP / 2000, Unix

Version Control Rational Clear Case, Visual Source Safe

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

SERVICE MASTER, Memphis, TN June 08 – Till Date

Senior Business Analyst

Terminix has approximately 800 customer service agents that reside in our branches in addition to approximately 150 agents in a centralized call center in Memphis, TN. Terminix customer service agents receive approximately 25 million calls from customers each year. Many of these customer’s questions are not answered or their problems are not resolved on the first call. Currently these agents use an AS/400 based custom developed system called Mission to answer customer inquiries into branches and the Customer Communication Center. Mission – Terminix’s operation system – provides functionality for sales, field service (routing & scheduling, work order management), accounts receivable, and payroll. This system is designed modularly and is difficult to navigate for customer service agents needing to assist the customer quickly and knowledgeably. The amount of effort and time needed to train a customer service representative using the Mission system is high. This combined with low agent and customer retention is costly.

Customer Service Console enables Customer Service Associates to provide consistent, enhanced service experience, support to the Customers across the Organization. CSC is aimed at providing easy navigation, easy learning process, reduced call time and first call resolution.

Responsibilities

  • Assisted in creating Project Plan, Road Map. Designed Requirements Planning and Management document.
  • Performed Enterprise Analysis and actively participated in buying Tool Licenses.
  • Identified subject-matter experts and drove the requirements gathering process through approval of the documents that convey their needs to management, developers, and quality assurance team.
  • Performed technical project consultation, initiation, collection and documentation of client business and functional requirements, solution alternatives, functional design, testing and implementation support.
  • Requirements Elicitation, Analysis, Communication, and Validation according to Six Sigma Standards.
  • Captured Business Process Flows and Reengineered Process to achieve maximum outputs.
  • Captured As-Is Process, designed TO-BE Process and performed Gap Analysis
  • Developed and updated functional use cases and conducted business process modeling (PROVISION) to explain business requirements to development and QA teams.
  • Created Business Requirements Documents, Functional and Software Requirements Specification Documents.
  • Performed Requirements Elicitation through Use Cases, one to one meetings, Affinity Exercises, SIPOC’s.
  • Gathered and documented Use Cases, Business Rules, created and maintained Requirements/Test Traceability Matrices.

Client: The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation, Parsippany, NJ May’ 2007 – Oct’ 2007

Profile: Sr. Financial Business Analyst/ Systems Analyst.

Project Profile (1): D&B is the world’s leading source of commercial information and insight on businesses. The Point of Arrival Project and the Data Maintenance (DM) Project are the future applications of the company that the company would transit into, providing an effective method & efficient report generation system for D&B’s clients to be able purchase reports about companies they are trying to do business.

Project Profile (2): The overall purpose of this project was building a Self Awareness System(SAS) for the business community for buying SAS products and a Payment system was built for SAS. The system would provide certain combination of products (reports) for Self Monitoring report as a foundation for managing a company’s credit.

Responsibilities:

  • Conducted GAP Analysis and documented the current state and future state, after understanding the Vision from the Business Group and the Technology Group.
  • Conducted interviews with Process Owners, Administrators and Functional Heads to gather audit-related information and facilitated meetings to explain the impacts and effects of SOX compliance.
  • Played an active and lead role in gathering, analyzing and documenting the Business Requirements, the business rules and Technical Requirements from the Business Group and the Technological Group.
  • Co – Authored and prepared Graphical depictions of Narrative Use Cases, created UML Models such as Use Case Diagrams, Activity Diagrams and Flow Diagrams using MS Visio throughout the Agile methodology
  • Documented the Business Requirement Document to get a better understanding of client’s business processes of both the projects using the Agile methodology.
  • Facilitating JRP and JAD sessions, brain storming sessions with the Business Group and the Technology Group.
  • Documented the Requirement traceability matrix (RTM) and conducted UML Modelling such as creating Activity Diagrams, Flow Diagrams using MS Visio. Analysed test data to detect significant findings and recommended corrective measures
  • Co-Managed the Change Control process for the entire project as a whole by facilitating group meetings, one-on-one interview sessions and email correspondence with work stream owners to discuss the impact of Change Request on the project.
  • Worked with the Project Lead in setting realistic project expectations and in evaluating the impact of changes on the organization and plans accordingly and conducted project related presentations.
  • Co-oordinated with the off shore QA Team members to explain and develop the Test Plans, Test cases, Test and Evaluation strategy and methods for unit testing, functional testing and usability testing

Environment: Windows XP/2000, SOX, Sharepoint, SQL, MS Visio, Oracle, MS Office Suite, Mercury ITG, Mercury Quality Center, XML, XHTML, Java, J2EE.

GATEWAY COMPUTERS, Irvine, CA, Jan 06 – Mar 07

Business Analyst

At Gateway, a Leading Computer, Laptop and Accessory Manufacturer, was involved in two projects,

Order Capture Application: Objective of this Project is to Develop Various Mediums of Sales with a Centralized Catalog. This project involves wide exposure towards Requirement Analysis, Creating, Executing and Maintaining of Test plans and Test Cases. Mentored and trained staff about Tech Guide & Company Standards; Gateway reporting system: was developed with Business Objects running against Oracle data warehouse with Sales, Inventory, and HR Data Marts. This DW serves the different needs of Sales Personnel and Management. Involved in the development of it utilized Full Client reports and Web Intelligence to deliver analytics to the Contract Administration group and Pricing groups. Reporting data mart included Wholesaler Sales, Contract Sales and Rebates data.

Responsibilities:

  • Product Manager for Enterprise Level Order Entry Systems – Phone, B2B, Gateway.com and Cataloging System.
  • Modeled the Sales Order Entry process to eliminate bottleneck process steps using ERWIN.
  • Adhered and practiced RUP for implementing software development life cycle.
  • Gathered Requirements from different sources like Stakeholders, Documentation, Corporate Goals, Existing Systems, and Subject Matter Experts by conducting Workshops, Interviews, Use Cases, Prototypes, Reading Documents, Market Analysis, Observations
  • Created Functional Requirement Specification documents – which include UMLUse case diagrams, Scenarios, activity, work Flow diagrams and data mapping. Process and Data modeling with MS VISIO.
  • Worked with Technical Team to create Business Services (Web Services) that Application could leverage using SOA, to create System Architecture and CDM for common order platform.
  • Designed Payment Authorization (Credit Card, Net Terms, and Pay Pal) for the transaction/order entry systems.
  • Implemented A/B Testing, Customer Feedback Functionality to Gateway.com
  • Worked with the DW, ETL teams to create Order entry systems Business Objects reports. (Full Client, Web I)
  • Worked in a cross functional team of Business, Architects and Developers to implement new features.
  • Program Managed Enterprise Order Entry Systems – Development and Deployment Schedule.
  • Developed and maintained User Manuals, Application Documentation Manual, on Share Point tool.
  • Created Test Plansand Test Strategies to define the Objective and Approach of testing.
  • Used Quality Center to track and report system defects and bug fixes. Written modification requests for the bugs in the application and helped developers to track and resolve the problems.
  • Developed and Executed Manual, Automated Functional, GUI, Regression, UAT Test cases using QTP.
  • Gathered, documented and executed Requirements-based, Business process (workflow/user scenario), Data driven test cases for User Acceptance Testing.
  • Created Test Matrix, Used Quality Center for Test Management, track & report system defects and bug fixes.
  • Performed Load, stress Testing’s & Analyzed Performance, Response Times. Designed approach, developed visual scripts in order to test client & server side performance under various conditions to identify bottlenecks.
  • Created / developed SQL Queries (TOAD) with several parameters for Backend/DB testing
  • Conducted meetings for project status, issue identification, and parent task review, Progress Reporting.

AMC MORTGAGE SERVICES, CA, USA Oct 04 – Dec 05

Business Analyst

The primary objective of this project is to replace the existing Internal Facing Client / Server Applications with a Web enabled Application System, which can be used across all the Business Channels. This project involves wide exposure towards Requirement Analysis, Creating, Executing and Maintaining of Test plans and Test Cases. Demands understanding and testing of Data Warehouse and Data Marts, thorough knowledge of ETL and Reporting, Enhancement of the Legacy System covered all of the business requirements related to Valuations from maintaining the panel of appraisers to ordering, receiving, and reviewing the valuations.

Responsibilities:

  • Gathered Analyzed, Validated, and Managed and documented the stated Requirements. Interacted with users for verifying requirements, managing change control process, updating existing documentation.
  • Created Functional Requirement Specification documents – that include UML Use case diagrams, scenarios, activity diagrams and data mapping. Provided End User Consulting on Functionality and Business Process.
  • Acted as a client liaison to review priorities and manage the overall client queue. Provided consultation services to clients, technicians and internal departments on basic to intricate functions of the applications.
  • Identified business directions & objectives that may influence the required data and application architectures.
  • Defined, prioritized business requirements, Determine which business subject areas provide the most needed information; prioritize and sequence implementation projects accordingly.
  • Provide relevant test scenarios for the testing team. Work with test team to develop system integration test scripts and ensure the testing results correspond to the business expectations.
  • Used Test Director, QTP, Load Runner for Test management, Functional, GUI, Performance, Stress Testing
  • Perform Data Validation, Data Integration and Backend/DB testing using SQL Queries manually.
  • Created Test input requirements and prepared the test data for data driven testing.
  • Mentored, trained staff about Tech Guide & Company Standards. Set-up and Coordinate Onsite offshore teams, Conduct Knowledge Transfer sessions to the offshore team.

Lloyds Bank, UK Aug 03 – Sept 04

Business Analyst

Lloyds TSB is leader in Business, Personal and Corporate Banking. Noted financial provider for millions of customers with the financial resources to meet and manage their credit needs and to achieve their financial goals. The Project involves an applicant Information System, Loan Appraisal and Loan Sanction, Legal, Disbursements, Accounts, MIS and Report Modules of a Housing Finance System and Enhancements for their Internet Banking.

Responsibilities:

  • Translated stakeholder requirements into various documentation deliverables such as functional specifications, use cases, workflow / process diagrams, data flow / data model diagrams.
  • Produced functional specifications and led weekly meetings with developers and business units to discuss outstanding technical issues and deadlines that had to be met.
  • Coordinated project activities between clients and internal groups and information technology, including project portfolio management and project pipeline planning.
  • Provided functional expertise to developers during the technical design and construction phases of the project.
    • Documented and analyzed business workflows and processes. Present the studies to the client for approval
    • Participated in Universe development – planning, designing, Building, distribution, and maintenance phases.
    • Designed and developed Universes by defining Joins, Cardinalities between the tables.
      • Created UML use case, activity diagrams for the interaction between report analyst and the reporting systems.
      • Successfully implemented BPR and achieved improved Performance, Reduced Time and Cost.
      • Developed test plans and scripts; performed client testing for routine to complex processes to ensure proper system functioning.
      • Worked closely with UAT Testers and End Users during system validation, User Acceptance Testing to expose functionality/business logic problems that unit testing and system testing have missed out.
        • Participated in Integration, System, Regression, Performance, and UAT – Using TD, WR, Load Runner
        • Participated in defect review meetings with the team members. Worked closely with the project manager to record, track, prioritize and close bugs. Used CVS to maintain versions between various stages of SDLC.

Client: A.G. Edwards, St. Louis, MO May’ 2005 – Feb’ 2006

Profile: Sr. Business Analyst/System Analyst

Project Profile: A.G. Edwards is a full service Trading based brokerage firm in Internet-based futures, options and forex brokerage. This site allows Users (Financial Representative) to trade online. The main features of this site were: Users can open new account online to trade equitiies, bonds, derivatives and forex with the Trading system using DTCC’s applications as a Clearing House agent. The user will get real-time streaming quotes for the currency pairs they selected, their current position in the forex market, summary of work orders, payments and current money balances, P & L Accounts and available trading power, all continuously updating in real time via live quotes. The site also facilitates users to Place, Change and Cancel an Entry Order, Placing a Market Order, Place/Modify/Delete/Close a Stop Loss Limit on an Open Position.

Responsibilities:

  • Gathered Business requirements pertaining to Trading, equities and Fixed Incomes like bonds, converted the same into functional requirements by implementing the RUP methodology and authored the same in Business Requirement Document (BRD).
  • Designed and developed all Narrative Use Cases and conducted UML modeling like created Use Case Diagrams, Process Flow Diagrams and Activity Diagrams using MS Visio.
  • Implemented the entire Rational Unified Process (RUP) methodology of application development with its various workflows, artifacts and activities. Developed business process models in RUP to document existing and future business processes. Established a business Analysis methodology around the Rational Unified Process.
  • Analyzed user requirements, attended Change Request meetings to document changes and implemented procedures to test changes.
  • Assisted in developing project timelines/deliverables/strategies for effective project management.
  • Evaluated existing practices of storing and handling important financial data for compliance.
  • Involved in developing the test strategy and assisted in developed Test scenarios, test conditions and test cases
  • Partnered with the technical areas in the research, resolution of system and User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

Environment: Windows XP/2000/NT, SOX, MS Office Suite, SQL, MS SQL Server, XML, HTML, Java, J2EE, JSP, Oracle, WinRunner, Test Director

A Short Article on Technology

The world has undergone enormous changes over the past decade. We now live in a world where communication is paramount. It seems that everyone and everything is connected in some way.

For school students this has made things much more efficient. Research papers that used to involve hours of laborious effort, can now be researched and documented without ever touching a card catalog or a periodical index. Worlds of information are now available at the click of a mouse.

Questions that people pondered without any answer previously can now simply be typed into any convenient search engine and answered almost immediately. There are countless sites filled with informative short articles all over the Internet. Videos and music can now be seen on demand and news from across the world can be delivered in an instant.

There are some people who worry that the technological revolution and evolution we are experiencing today is moving too fast. There seems to be a loss of privacy in some respects and the specter of a Big Brother society looms larger than it has since 1984. Whether their fears are well founded or not will remain to be seen, but it is unlikely that people will ever willingly give up the almost instant connections to our wired world.

Flying in the face of these fears are individuals who share their worlds through their blogs. What used to be shared with only close friends is now put online for millions of people to see if they should happen upon the blogger’s website. Individuals are learning to take advantage of this by using their well placed blogs to sell products and services. The internet has allowed individuals an opportunity to step on to the same playing field as the big boys of business. With the right information and the ability to get it seen, anyone can now reach the masses and share their thoughts, feelings and even sales pitches.

Businesses as well as individuals have come to rely on the Internet as a source of advertising and actual sales. Entire business models have been constructed and thriving based solely on using Internet websites. It is rare today to find a traditional brick and mortar establishment that does not have some type of online presence. Any business that does not adapt and grow to keep up with the newest technology seriously risks being left behind in the wake of their competitors who choose to ride technology’s leading edge.

Time will tell where this all will lead. We should make the most of the positive possibilities technology promises, but we should also keep a careful watch on where we are going.

Know Everything About Drones

At times, you might have encountered a bouncing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle hovering in the aerospace swaying to and fro, left and ride and what not! The researchers may still identify the device but the people totally unaware might have an extremely agile pulse accelerating curio as to what the gadget is and how does it work. Let us introduce you to Drones!

What is a Drone?

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle also called as a drone is a battery-powered gadget which is designed to fly through a remote controller. The device can hover; flight high and far as per the limitations of the range. Also a drone is capable of clicking pictures, generating mesmerizing aerial videos and a lot more!

Military personnel named them as UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or RPAS (subsets of Unmanned Aircraft Systems) ie Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems. Though they are primarily used in military services, still the emergence of drones for recreational and commercial purposes is a landmark. They have successfully presented themselves as a utility device which may be used for a variety of agendas.

Drone-producing companies have Parrot, DJI and similar ones at the top who are all committed to manufacture these robotic toys lasting in vast variety of pricing categories. The prices may differ from a few dollars to thousands of dollar as per your choice. However it is advised to be a pro on a budgeted one before investing grand bucks.

Drone History

The inchoation of drones began in early 1900s and was originally planned to be restricted to military usage and none others. Later, an agency named CIA initiated the usage in 2002 during a military operation held somewhere in Afghanistan.

Nevertheless the circumscriptions somehow widened with time and the acceptance stretched to commercial and even recreational concepts.

The 4-rotor design to these quad copters enhances its reliability. As of 2012, USAF has put to use a number of 7494 UAVs. Also 50 countries in the world are reported to be active drone users. The commercial usage of the drones marks USA as the leading enthusiast. There have also been certain development measures and countermeasures incorporated by FAA for the use of drones in commercial aspects.

The progressive decline of manufacturing cost of the drones has allowed the manufacturers to lower the prices and make it quite affordable for the users.

Henceforth, drones have also fascinated media and news houses to use them for optimum purposes.

Conclusion

UAVs are the all new trend-setters that tend to administer the techno-era by eliminating complexities. Despite of the regulations as prescribed by FAA, the statistics of the drone using hobbyists have agreeably increased. In fact, the hobbyists, commercial users have popularized it to the extent where all age groups are into the deed of buying one, nurturing their passion of aerial photography and enjoying the pleasing experience of flying drones.