The financial environment…then and now….

On Friday, September 10th, the Ted Spread closed with a value of 16.03 bps. Two years ago, on September 10th, 2008, the Ted Spread closed at 117.97 bps, and just five days later, after Lehman Brothers collapsed into bankruptcy, the spread closed at 201.38 bps.

On October 13th 2008, then Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulsen and Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernake and their consortium took dramatic action. Nine major domestic bank CEO’s were called to meet that weekend and all were asked to sign on to the ‘solutions’ term sheet with no CEO allowed to leave until all had penned their names to the ‘agreement’. The markets swayed and strained- Merrill Lynch, Wachovia, Countrywide, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were deemed unsinkable and ‘life boated’ by Bank of America, Wells Fargo and the U.S. Congress. A few weeks after the 2008 November general election General Motors and Chrysler were deemed too unionized to fail and transformed into Government Motors, auto executives were dismissed and company bond holders were considered forfeitable capital providers.

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The secret to insurance

We in the insurance industry always wonder if our clients actually read their insurance policies. I realize this is not something that appeals to most normal people, but for most of us it is a necessity, whether it is in our personal or professional lives.

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Looking for the positive.

This week saw an abrupt change in the weather here in Seattle. Long gone are the 90-degree temperatures of summer and we have now settled down into the low 60’s that indicate that winter is just around the corner.

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Every company is different

One thing that I have seen over the last 18 months is that when it comes to wellness, every company is different. One wellness challenge or initiative may work for one company, but not achieve the desired results for another.

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10 Years – So What?

Among the daily emails that urge you to act, there is the occasional message that causes you to think. I had this experience when I read the invitation for the annual potluck luncheon for employees that have been with our firm for 10 years or more.

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The secret to our success

I just finished reading Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short”, which deals with the fascinating and ultimately devastating details of the subprime mortgage trading industry and how it brought our financial system to its knees.

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Cloud Computing

If you follow technology trends you have probably heard how “cloud computing” is going to take over the world.

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No Quick Fix

In this Podcast Doug Pullman, a member of the Parker, Smith & Feek marketing team, describes the planning and process this top 100 broker went through to prepare for their launch into the world of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and blogging.

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What makes you happy?

I was having lunch with a client recently and we were talking about how tough the economy is today. Given all these challenges, I asked, “ What makes you happy, what gives you a sense of fulfillment?”

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Passport to Wellness

Late last week we finished our latest Wellness challenge. Employees were challenged to complete 6 out of 14 activities such as, losing 5% body weight; lowering our BMI to 25 or lower; participating in one of the local community walking/running events; having our annual physical or dental exam.

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Compliance Alert – No COBRA Subsidy Extension

Yesterday (Thursday 7/22/2010) Congress passed, and the President has signed, The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010 (H.R.4213). The Act does not include an extension of the COBRA subsidy.

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…let’s take the rest of the summer off to read the Dodd-Frank Act!

Mid July saw BP’s runaway oil well in the Gulf finally capped, but with clear warnings that the mounting drill pipe pressure poses new challenges, the Dodd-Frank Act (2,500 pages of financial reform) that was recently passed in the senate also poses some new challenges – reading it first, and then implementing it!

The legislation requires regulators to write hundreds of new rules and conduct numerous studies which could itself launch a new job creation program and help lower unemployment, at least in DC.

The 2Q10 earnings season arrived with some banks reporting higher earnings mostly due to revenues from higher credit card fees and revised downward estimates on problem mortgage loans.

Major Banks are estimating that this new legislation will reduce its future earnings by 11%. One bank, Bank of America, has even started using a five letter acronym “GUEST” for G ’genuine welcome’, U ‘undivided attention’, E ‘empowered’, S solutions and T for ‘thank you’. Is this the new regulatory climate which apparently requires treating customers differently as it seeks to pass thru new fees to offset the loss in revenue?

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