Everyone Plays a Role…

Most all of us have interest in increasing the value of our own personal investments. Over the last several years there has been much concern with the economy, the market and how it affects our livelihood as it pertains to our investments. These same questions occur within Boards and management as they work to grow the value of the companies they manage and/or oversee.
One age old benchmark or metric that has been used by companies and individuals over the years is “Return on Investment” or ROI. A simple calculation of taking your year-end profits and dividing by the Stockholders Equity determines what your ROI was for the year (example: If you made $100,000 profit on an investment of $1,000,000 you would have a ROI of 10%. 100,000/1,000,000).
Within a company there are several ways to increase profits. The more successful a company is at driving these areas typically the better the ROI will be.

Increased Sales

Increased Gross Profit

Decreased Inventory

Decreased Receivables

Decreased Expenses

Marketing and Branding

Relationships, Service and Support

Now here is the challenge or opportunity for each and every employee within a company they work for. You as an individual or within a team can directly or indirectly have a positive effect on one of the processes above. Your own observation and/or creativity with effective communication can assist with being a “change agent” to improve the Return on Investment for your company. The results end up being a win/win situation with much gratification and feeling of accomplish for all!

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Looking Forward to 2012

With 2011 coming to an end, we have been busy; tying down loose ends and preparing for 2012. This time of year always sees us going through the customary budgeting process. This year it has been an even bigger challenge as we try to determine what the economy is going to do and how it will affect our clients.
There are signs that the economy is improving slightly and that 2012 will be a better year for the majority of the economy. However, some industries don’t share the same level of optimism and feel we may even slip back into a recession and worsening economy.
We understand that we cannot control what the economy will do – but our sole mission to “reduce our clients total cost of risk” remains firmly intact and will be even stronger in 2012.
We hope for all of our clients and the economy will prosper in 2012.
Happy New Year.

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Happy Holidays from Parker, Smith & Feek

Employee Spotlight: Susan Brock – MS Society

For unknown reasons, the Pacific Northwest has one of the highest incidence rates of multiple sclerosis in the entire world. In Washington, 180 per 100,000 people are known to live with the disease. In response to the high numbers, the Greater Northwest Chapter of the National MS Society is one of the most active groups […]

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Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Legal Challenges to the Affordable Care Act

On Monday, November 14th, the Supreme Court announced it will hear arguments on legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act. In the announcement, the court said it will consider the following questions involving the individual mandate:

Is the "individual mandate" constitutional?

If the individual mandate is struck down, is the entire law unconstitutional?

Should the decision be put off until 2015? (There is an argument that the case is not valid until taxpayers are actually required to pay a penalty.)

And on a separate issue:
Can the Federal government force states to pay extra costs related to expanding Medicaid? Arguments in the case will be heard in March 2012 with a decision expected in June.
Please contact the PS&F Benefits Team if you need more information

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We wish there was more we could do!

There are so many factors that affect employees outside of work. For the past couple of years, I have certainly noticed that a lot of my own family and friends have been impacted in some way by this worsening economy and our employees are also seeing the affects that this downturn brings.
As an organization we wish there was more to make our employees feel better while at work. What we try to do is relieve as much stress as possible, through our wellness initiatives.
Our wellness program ‘Your Choice, Your Future’ has had mixed results so far. Some of our employees have jumped on board and are taking advantage of the wellness challenges and the new healthier snack options we have provided for them. However, some are worried that we are might be intruding on their lifestyles.
We simply care about their health and their wellbeing. Our employees are Parker, Smith & Feek’s single greatest asset – to us it’s kind of like taking out an insurance policy on our employees.
So as we move into 2012, I will be sharing with you both our successes and failures as we try to improve the general wellbeing of our employees.

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A Minor League Player Making King County A Better Place To Live and Work.

For the past two years I have had the privilege to be a United Way King County (UWKC) Ambassador. Ambassadors are typically business people who believe in the work of UWKC and volunteer their time to speak at corporate campaigns. Last year I wasn’t able to speak at any events due to a challenging fall calendar. This year, however, I got my first chance – at Nordstrom’s kickoff for their annual giving campaign. I spoke to 200 employees from their marketing department.
As I told them, I felt a bit like a minor league baseball player who’s been called up to the majors and his first at bat is at the World Series. It was an honor to be at a company like Nordstrom, so well-known for quality, customer service, and a strong commitment to the community. Last year local Seattle Nordstrom employees raised more than $1,500,000 for UWKC, not counting the corporate contribution. This is a huge part of their mission and the culture that Nordstrom inspires and promotes.
As I told my audience, a fundamental value of PS&F, as well, has always been giving back to the community that has been so generous to us. We are proud to be a supporter of UWKC, and I can’t think of a better way to spend some of my time than to be an ambassador for such an effective organization doing critical work in our community.
UWKC has three major initiatives. First, meeting peoples’ basic needs – addressing those in crisis and immediately at risk. Over the last three years, unemployment in our area has doubled, reaching nearly 9%; home foreclosures are at a record high; and record numbers of people are visiting food banks. UWKC initiatives like Hunger Relief Now invests in programs that keep people housed, end hunger, and provide access to existing public benefits – helping people get back on their feet.
The second major initiative is ending homelessness. Since its inception several years ago over 1400 additional housing units have been created, getting individuals and families off the streets, out of their cars, and into stable housing.
The third initiative is giving every child a chance to succeed. This is the proactive part of UWKC – focused on addressing the root causes that lead to at risk adults and dependency on social services. Examples include the Summer Lunch Program which supplements the school lunch program to ensure that every child gets at least one nutritious meal a day, even when school is not in session. The Reading Program is another good example and is based on the understanding that many disadvantaged children are coming to kindergarten unprepared to begin to learn to read because they had not been read to. Trained volunteers read to children and teach parents how to read to their own kids and to be better Moms and Dads.
There is a cruel irony that has taken place since the economy began its downturn in 2008. Today there is more need and fewer resources. All the philanthropic organizations that I am proud to be associated with feel the pinch, stretched to the limits to help an increasing number of people in need with fewer dollars, from either budget cuts at the state and federal level, or from reduced giving that is a direct result of the recession.
When you hear the stories of the people in need in our community there is a natural emotional reaction. But from a business perspective, as well, I am drawn to the work of UWKC. It provides a framework and strategy for helping those in need and stitches together all the organizations doing great work in our community, maximizing existing resources. And it does it in a highly efficient, effective way, where 97 cents of every dollar goes directly to issues and not administration – relieving immediate suffering, and also focusing on solving the core issues that face people today. For instance – teaching parents how to be parents.
Parker, Smith & Feek is honored to join Nordstrom as part of an elite group – 66,000 donors that raised almost $120,000,000 to help those in crisis, to give every child a chance, and to take one step closer of ending homelessness. It’s easy to understand the emotional appeal – no child should suffer, no family should go hungry. But there’s the intellectual appeal for us in business. I know the people we are reaching are future employees, future customers, who are also going to be imbued with a sense of community, philanthropy, and are going to pay it forward. All this is going to create a community that we can be proud to live and work in.
Again, hats off to Nordstrom and to all the corporations making King County a better place to live and work.

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Parker, Smith & Feek Named “Agency of the Year” by National Underwriter Magazine

Parker, Smith & Feek inc., One of the top 50 independently owned Property & Casualty insurance agencies in the U.S., has been named "Agency of the Year" by National Underwriter Magazine.
President and CEO Greg Collins said: "We're very flattered by the recognition. As the only Insurance Broker in the Northwest to have ever won the award, it reaffirms our belief that we are amongst the very best in the industry."
"We do great work every day and have weathered a lot of different storms. It is something the entire company can feel really good about in what is still a very, very tough economy."
The Agency of the Year award recognizes agencies that serve as role models for their peers. This prestigious award evaluates agencies on growth and development, management of client relationships, technology aptitude and efficiency, innovative solutions to sales challenges, and maintenance of brand identity.
For the entire article from National Underwriter – click here

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2012 Workers’ Compensation Rate Proposal

Against the recommendations of Washington business groups, L&I is requesting a 2.5% rate increase effective January 1, 2012 in order to increase their contingence reserve.
Below is a copy of the release published by L&I:

TUMWATER – The Department of Labor & Industries has proposed a 2.5 average workers’ compensation rate increase in 2012 – its lowest rate increase in five years. L&I said the proposed increase is a small step toward rebuilding the workers’ compensation reserves without harming the state economic recovery, something the State Auditor and many businesses and workers have said needed to be done. Without the recent reforms, a 10-14 percent rate increase would have been needed to cover costs and begin restoring the reserves. The public is invited to comment on the proposed rate increase at one of six public hearings around the state in October. The final rate decision will be announced in early December. Complete information is online at www dot rates dot wa dot gov.
For the full release visit – The Labor and Industries Website

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Parker, Smith & Feek hosts third annual Employee Olympics

Sergeant Major Todd Syvrud on the 3k walk course.
Last Friday saw Parker, Smith & Feek host the third annual Employee Olympics. Fifty-five employees participated in our program designed for fitness, fun, and teamwork. Events included a 5K run, 3K walk, hoops ,and a number of games that required just a bit more luck than actual skill—such as the mouse pad discus throw, pool noodle javelin throw, and the ever popular game of ladder golf.
Medals—gold, silver, and bronze—were awarded to individuals in each event, as well as to the overall top three teams. Todd Syvrud of our Benefits department, who is currently on a tour of duty with the US Army, didn't want to miss out on the fun. He completed the 3K walk in on base while decked out in his 100-pound combat dress and gear. His incredible 79 foot mouse pad discus throw not only earned him a gold medal (it’s in mail, Todd), but also led his team to a silver medal.
The annual Olympics are a part of our Workplace Wellness program, Your Choice, Your Future. Parker, Smith & Feek is committed to supporting and encouraging positive, healthy choices for all employees. Our Olympic tradition gives us an opportunity to take a little time to compete and play together.

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2012 Workers’ Compensation Rate Indication

Earlier this week, the Department of Labor & Industries presented their actuarial review of the proposed 2012 rates at the Workers' Compensation Advisory Committee meeting. Due to the reforms that were passed last year in the legislative process, the indicated rate for 2012 is, on average, a .3% decrease from the 2011 rates.
However, L&I is proposing to use this opportunity to increase 2012 accident fund rates, ranging from 4.5% to 8%. This increase would make it possible to start rebuilding the combined contingency reserve from its current $563 million level to $1 billion, the minimum level recommended in the department's guidelines for contingency reserves.
Here is a link to L&I's presentation on "Restoring the Contingency Reserve"
L&I will publicize their proposed rate filing for 2012 on September 20, 2011 and public hearings will be held later in October.

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Final Rule for Notification of Employee Rights

The National Labor Relations Board has issued a Final Rule requiring most private-sector employers to notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act by posting a notice. The rule is scheduled to be posted in the Federal Register on August 30, 2011, and will take effect 75 days later on November 14.
The 11-by-17-inch notice is similar in content and design to a notice of NLRA rights that must be posted by federal contractors under a Department of Labor rule.
The notice of rights will be provided at no charge by NLRB regional offices or can be downloaded from the Board website and printed in color or black-and-white. Translated versions will be available and in some instances will be mandatory.
Employers must also post the notice on an intranet or an internet site if personnel rules and policies are customarily posted there.
Copies of the notice will be available on the NLRB website and from NLRB regional offices by November 1.
For more information on this rule, visit the National Labor Relations Board website.

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