As the owner and principal engineer of NWAN Consulting, Oke Nwaneshiudu heads a local professional services consulting firm that specializes in construction management of vehicle fuel storage and dispensing systems, vehicle maintenance facilities and sites.
December marked the grand opening of NWAN’s new offices, located at 53rd Street and Cedar Avenue in West Philadelphia.
“This is dream that I’ve always had. I’m just happy to see it come to fruition,” Nwaneshiudu, 34, said in regard to launching his business.
“There were a lot of challenges in starting the firm, and there still are. I feel like it’s a worthwhile venture.”
He’s had to face the challenge of being an African American in an industry that has few minorities.
While his business is located in an area not typical for professional services firms, Nwaneshiudu views the West Philadelphia community as an ideal fit.
Nwaneshiudu says NWAN is poised for significant growth. He’s gone from being a one-man operation to planning for the addition of 10 employees in the next six months.
Prior to officially incorporating NWAN in May, Nwaneshiudu worked at a local consulting firm for six years where he served as a project manager.
The firm assists municipalities and private companies that own a fleet of vehicles such as buses, planes and corporate vehicles.
NWAN’s services are geared toward clients such as state agencies, state fire marshals, major cities, major regional, international airport authorities, municipalities and townships.
Nwaneshiudu says that being a niche-based business and having repeat clients has been a critical aspect of his success during this down economy.
“For a small business it’s very important to have a niche area of service,” he said.
“A lot of the work we do is ongoing work. If you build a system for a client, they have to come back. You want them to come back to you.”
For instance, Nwaneshiudu gave an example of how his firm provides services for entities that have fueling stations.
“If you have a fueling dispenser, underneath that dispenser, you have a containment that prevents any spills from going into the earth and contaminating the environment,” he said.
“That containment by state law has to be kept clean at all times. Over time they get dirty, so (the client) comes to me and I will arrange the coordination of the cleaning, so it doesn’t matter if the economy is rough or the economy is great, they have to be cleaned.”
Nwaneshiudu credits organizations such as Widener University Small Business Development and the Partnership CDC with helping him to succeed.
In addition to running his firm, Nwaneshiudu is a praise and worship leader at his church, 2nd Baptist Church in Media, and co-founder of a local Christian contemporary band called the “One Sound Mission” Band.
Nwaneshiudu is a native of Nigeria, West Africa. He relocated to the United States at an early age and grew up in North Philadelphia.
Nwaneshiudu has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Temple University, and a master’s in civil engineering and doctorate in interdisciplinary civil engineering, water management and hydrology from Texas A&M University.
As the founder of Black MBA Women, Daria Burke is striving to build a strong network of professional women.
Burke, who is a graduate of the New York University Stern School of Business, left her position as director of makeup marketing for Estée Lauder to launch an organization that focused on connecting women who hailed from the nation’s top tier business schools.
While enrolled at NYU, Burke was one of nine Black women in a class of 411 students. Post-MBA, Burke built a marketing career in the beauty industry. Over the years, the Detroit native spent a significant amount of time interacting with young women and talking to them about the value of obtaining an MBA.
When Burke first formed Black MBA Women in April 2012, she tapped into her personal network of about 60 women and reached out MBA student organizations. Since its inception, Black MBA Women has grown to a network of 500 women from across the country, primarily through grassroots efforts and social media.
“Most of these women are coming to this organization because they want to connect with each other, and they want to swap stories about what their career experiences have been like,” said Burke who is based in New York.
Burke says about 65 percent of the women who are in the network are post-MBA, while the remaining 35 are currently enrolled in business school.
Burke says those who are pursuing their MBAs can tap into networking opportunities as they search for internships and jobs, while those who are post-MBA can use the network to help build their clientele base and business contacts.
Women have also turned to the network as a place where they can make new friends.
“For me it’s been really rewarding, because I initially launched into this thinking that it was going to be all career and professional development and I think the women in the network look for personal development and personal connections just as much as they want that career piece of it,” Burke said.
For spring 2013, Burke is launching a Web series titled “Conversations in the C-Suite” where women will share their stories about how they built a successful career.
“There are a lot of Black women out there who have incredible careers and they go unrecognized. No one is telling their stories. No one is putting the spotlight on them,” Burke said.
She wants to inspire the next generation of Black women business leaders.
“It’s so important for young girls to see the bigger range of our stories. When you look at us in the portrayal of the media our stories are so underrepresented,” she says.
To that end, the network’s website blackmbawomen.com highlights women executives such as Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO, Xerox; Rosalind Brewer, president and CEO of Sam’s Club and Pamela Edwards, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Victoria’s Secret.
The women who are a part of the network must be alumni of/or enrolled in one the nation’s top 25 business schools.
One question that Burke often hears is why membership in Black MBA Women is currently open to only those who were educated in top-tier schools.
“I want to challenge our definition and our idea of excellence. I think that we need to be willing to challenge ourselves and think about what it means to be excellent,” Burke said.
“So when I’m looking to inspire the next generation of Black women who are going to business school, I want them to go to the best school they can,” she said noting that Fortune 100 and 500 companies often recruit from top-tier institutions.
“I want them to have access to the best career opportunities, the best network and the most influential network and be poised to have the highest salaries. Whether people like it or not, you have to go to a top school to be able to achieve that. I’m not excluding or eliminating people but I want to challenge our definition of what it means to be excellent and strive for that.
Burke has worked in brand management at L’Oreal USA on the Lancome and Yves Saint Laurent Beauté brands, developing and implementing strategic brand positioning of the beauty and fragrance categories. She sits on the Stern Alumni Council and serves as chair of the Association of Hispanic and Black Business Students (AHBBS) Alumni Group. She is a member of Cosmetic Executive Women and the Step Up Women’s Network in New York.
Mayor sees ‘game-changer’ as major investment firm move to Philadelphia
Philadelphia will soon be home to a leading venture capital firm.
First Round Capital, led by venture investor Josh Kopelman, is moving its headquarters to the city.
First Round is one of the most active early-stage venture capital firms in the country, having helped to fund and start more than 200 companies since it was founded in 2004. First Round will officially open its 10,000-square-foot facility at 40th and Locust streets on Sept. 19.
“The arrival of Josh Kopelman in Philadelphia is a game changer,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.
“When one of America’s leading entrepreneurs and investors sees Philly as a place of ideas and innovation, a place where those ideas can be transformed into successful businesses and jobs, and feels the need to be part of it, he sends an incredibly powerful message about what is going on in our city.”
First Round Capital, currently headquartered in West Conshohocken, will initially employ approximately 10 people in the Philadelphia office. The facility will have space to host five startup companies including, initially, Uber Philadelphia, Curalate and Technically Philly. In addition, there will be space for 24 entrepreneurs to develop their concepts, and event space to host educational and community events.
Philadelphia’s thriving tech startup community was a draw for Kopelman.
“We’ve begun to see more really exciting companies get their start in Philadelphia, and more entrepreneurial activity at Philadelphia’s universities,” said Kopelman.
“For me this is more than just an office move. It’s a way for me to get more involved in helping local entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, and I’m looking forward to playing a more active role in helping the current generation of Philadelphia entrepreneurs make their mark.”
Earlier this year, Kopelman was named as one of the top ten ‘angel investors’ in the United States by Newsweek magazine, and was ranked sixth on Forbes 2012 “Midas List” of the top 100 tech investors. He has been an active entrepreneur and investor for more than 20 years, co-founding the company, Infonautics Corporation, while still a student at the University of Pennsylvania in 1992.
Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for Economic Development, says First Round’s arrival sends a strong signal.
“Philadelphia is starting to establish itself as a player in the world of startups and innovation,” said Greenberger.
“We have no shortage of ideas in this city, due to the incredible talent emerging from our colleges and universities, but too often those ideas leave in search of early-stage funding. First Round Capital’s arrival in Philadelphia is a strong signal that this city, which has led this country in innovation since its founding, will continue to be a America’s home for ideas, entrepreneurship and business creation.”
Latoya Scott wants to help aspiring models put their best feet forward.
Scott is the CEO of Final Touch Models, a model management agency that offers instruction in runway technique, makeup application, styling and camera etiquette.
“My vision was to inspire confidence and self-esteem while developing individual creative skills within the fashion industry,” says Scott, a native of Philadelphia.
Scott is a former Miss Philadelphia contestant who began honing her skills during her childhood years at the John Casablanca Agency in Langhorne. She has appeared in feature films including “Annapolis” directed by Justin Lin, as well as a various music videos and commercial shoots for major department stores.
Scott and her team of professionals help prepare models for the high-paced, competitive industry.
“We try to give them all the fundamentals that they will need — and the main one is marketing. What we do is get them in front of the people that they need to market to,” says Scott, who just opened a new office in the city’s Fishtown section.
While learning the fundamentals of runway techniques is important for models, Scott says marketing is an important aspect of being successful.
“In this industry it’s all about marketing. The bottom line is marketing, and that’s what you really need to learn how to do.”
Scott says that tapping into a modeling career is not all about having the right look, shape, size and height. A big key is having the dedication and patience to tap into the industry.
“It’s really all about dedication. How much effort and how much dedication are you going to put into your career? A lot of people misjudge that. A lot of people think that modeling or getting into acting is easy. It’s dedication. It’s a process — and if you’re not ready for that, then you’re not going to make it far in this industry,” says Scott, who is a former instructor at the Barbizon School of Modeling.
Scott often finds that she has to debunk various myths that people have about becoming a model.
“Everything about modeling is about marketing and a lot of models don’t know that. That’s one of the things that models misinterpret. They think it’s all about them. That’s a big misconception that a lot of people have — and the fact that it’s harder than it looks,” says Scott.
It’s not about the model says Scott, it’s about how they market the clothing or item they are wearing or carrying.
Final Touch is currently managing about 10 models. The agency hosts open model calls on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. at its office at 2424 Studios at York and Gaul streets. During the model calls, prospective models have the opportunity to interact with Final Touch staff and share their aspirations for entering the industry.
Even though Final Touch is geared toward grooming new talent, the agency offers workshops for the everyday person who wants to learn runway or fashion techniques.
In addition to classes for adults, Final Touch features workshop packages for children. Scott says the classes are offered with the dual purpose of building children’s confidence and self-esteem and giving them extracurricular activities.
Through the financial support of some non-profit agencies and the Philadelphia Police Department’s 25th District, Final Touch Models is able to offer classes to some students who otherwise would not be able to afford them.
The proposed merger between Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions, Inc. has led to concerns that the deal will cause an increase in drug prices and decrease competition.
Express Scripts and Medco are two of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs). As PBMs, the companies broker prescription drug contracts for employers, unions and health plans.
Last July, Missouri-based Express Scripts announced that it would purchase Medco for $29 billion. If the merger is approved, the combined company would administer 1.14 billion prescriptions annually and handle 40 percent of all drugs administered by PBMs. The merged company would control the majority of the market place in several key areas, including mail order and specialty pharmacy drugs.
“We will lower drug costs that are far too high and improve health outcomes for consumers. As the big drug companies merge, as large chain drug stores buy up their competition and demand higher prices, we must become more effective representing the interests of plan sponsors and consumers. Patients — not profits — must come first,” said George Paz, chairman, president and CEO, Express Scripts.
While Express Scripts and Medco say the combined company’s scale would give it substantial buying power to drive down drug prices and lead to lower costs for consumers, some consumer advocates are questioning whether the projected savings will be passed on to consumers.
The merger is being reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission, which will determine whether it will approve the deal.
Various politicians, supermarket associations, consumer groups, chain drug stores and community pharmacists have lobbied against the merger.
“I’m opposed to this merger for these reasons — it would increase costs. It would reduce access to quality health care and it would impact independent pharmacists and community pharmacists by reducing their business opportunities and their employment,” said Eva Clayton, a former member of Congress and chair of the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access Now, a national coalition of consumers, businesses and community-based pharmacists who oppose the merger.
Clayton noted that the proposed deal could cause increased costs for community pharmacies which would adversely impact minorities and poor people in urban areas who rely on them for access to medications, health screenings and prescription counseling.
“Access to that health care is threatened if these community pharmacists aren’t able to make enough profit to stay in business,” Clayton said during a Tribune editorial board meeting.
FTC Spokesperson Mark Block would not comment about when the commission is expected to vote on the deal.
In an opinion column opposing the merger, Harry Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, said the stakes are higher for African Americans than the average American consumer.
“If prices go up, as expected under this merger, and community pharmacies are no longer able to compete in the hostile climate created by the PBMs, African Americans throughout the country will lose access to needed medications and other pharmacy services,” Alford wrote.
“This is disturbing in light of existing health disparities. African Americans are more likely to be afflicted with life-threatening diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer than whites. Infant mortality is higher. We are less likely to be immunized against common, easily-preventable illnesses. So the convenient, localized services provided by community pharmacies in our neighborhoods are especially important.”
Express Scripts and Medco have delayed closing the merger, which gives the FTC more time to finish assessing the deal. In previous statements, Express Scripts said it expected the merger to close by the end of the first half of the year. Express Scripts provided the new timeframe in a regulatory filing last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Medco and Express Scripts continue to work with the FTC and expect that the mergers will be completed by the earlier part of the second quarter of 2012,” said the Express Scripts filing.
Minority business owners were briefed on the importance of forming strategic partnerships during the “Position to Win” business forum.
The forum, presented last Wednesday by the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware Minority Supplier Diversity Council (MSDC), Radio One Philadelphia and Comcast served to facilitate a conversation with Fortune 100 representatives and minority business enterprises (MBEs) on using a go-to-market partnership strategy that leads to growth opportunities.
“This series of forums is one way that we can both promote minority-owned businesses and stimulate the expansion of Black-owned business,” said E. Stevens Collins, director of Urban Marketing and External Affairs, Radio One, who served as the moderator for the panel discussion.
During the discussion, Theresa Harrison, director of Supplier Diversity for Ernst & Young and Frederick E. Davis Jr., tax partner in the New York office of Mitchell & Titus, LLP highlighted the successful relationship between the two accounting firms.
In 2006, Mitchell & Titus became a member firm of Ernst & Young Limited, becoming the only minority owned firm in the U.S. to align with a “Big Four” firm. By aligning with Ernst & Young, Mitchell & Titus have access to the firm’s technology platform and training opportunities. The affiliation allows Mitchell & Titus to maintain its brand, while building its business capacity.
“This is unique in our profession,” Davis said in regard to the partnership between the two accounting firms.
“It’s fantastic for Fortune 500 companies who are looking for a way to increase their diversity spend with a diverse supplier who has the competency to do the work that they want them to do.”
The panel discussion also featured, Wade Colclough, president and CEO of PA-NJ-DE MSDC; Michael Maloney, vice president for Business Services, Freedom Region, Comcast and Ajamu Johnson, senior director of Supplier Diversity and Strategic Procurement for Comcast and David Groomes, senior vice president of Business Services for U.S. Facilities.
Some of the panelists provided insight on how firms can determine how to choose the best business to partner with in forming a go-to-market strategy. The panelists said it was important for companies to conduct homework on the firm they are interested in partnering with before they enter into a relationship to seek out contracting opportunities.
During the event, Colclough addressed the role that the PA-NJ-DE MSDC plays in providing a connection between corporate America and minority-owned businesses. The council represents more than 135 corporate members and 400 MBEs with total revenues of $14 billion.
The year 2012 may be prime time for a Northwest Philadelphian with an enterprising and philanthropic mind to start a non-profit.
With the upcoming welfare reforms, more and more of those recipients may have to volunteer for a non-profit to receive benefits if they cannot secure a paying job.
Or, one may have an idea for a community or church project to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods such as Mount Airy, West Oak Lane, Germantown and East Falls.
Help is on the way.
The Mount Airy Learning Tree, or MALT, is introducing a new course called, “How to Obtain 501(c)(3) Tax-Exemption and Keep It.” The course will be held at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia’s Hagan Hall Amphitheater, 7301 Germantown Ave. beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Registration is now open for the four-session course that will be held every Wednesday until Feb. 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“This course is for representatives of community and faith-based organizations, incorporated or unincorporated,” said Jonna Naylor, executive director of MALT. “Ari Merretazon has over 30 years in organizational development, program development, resource development, project management and acquisition of tax-exempt status for faith-based and community organizations.
“He is a community economic development practitioner offering specialized services and technical assistance in fundraising, proposal writing, project management and faith-based community economic development,” she added.
The course will address many questions. Among them are: what does it mean to be a tax-exempt organization? How does one complete the IRS Form 1023? What supporting documents and attachments does one need to comply with federal non-profit regulations?
Those who register for the course are expected to engage in hands-on projects. This means that each participant is expected to work on an actual application for non-profit tax-exemption for an organization during the class.
MALT is a community service organization founded in 1980. It boasts of celebrating the diversity of Northwest Philadelphia by bringing together neighbors to share a variety of ideas, information and skills in informal learning environments throughout the Mount Airy area. The non-profit group offers more than 250 courses three times a year in the fall, winter and spring.
Classes are held in local churches, schools, businesses, homes or even outdoors in the Wissahickon park area. The group operates with a small, part-time staff and volunteer board. For registration information for the non-profit class, visit http:www.mtairylearningtree.org/RegistrationForm.pdf. For more information about MALT drop by 6601 Greene St., call (215) 843-6333 or visit www.mtairylearningtree.org.
More than a dozen local restaurants remodeled
Red Lobster restaurants throughout the country are getting a facelift.
As the executive vice president of operations for Red Lobster, Chip Wade collaborates with the restaurant company’s marketing, design and construction teams to oversee the remodeling.
Nearly 700 Red Lobster restaurants across the U.S. and Canada are expected to be remodeled by 2014.
The company has remodeled 17 restaurants in the greater Philadelphia market, which includes Delaware and Southern New Jersey. Red Lobster has invested more than $350,000 per restaurant for the renovations.
“We believe that it is an investment that is right for the various communities where we operate. Our guests are giving us two thumbs up on the look. It allows more guests to see Red Lobster differently and when we have more guests coming into our restaurants, it means that we can employ more team members to do the work,” said Wade, who is a native of Chester, Pa.
The remodeling — which resulted from community feedback, focus groups and surveys — is a part of the company’s effort to reposition its brand.
“We’re a restaurant operating company that has operated over 42 years and we thought that now was a good time to continue this repositioning of the Red Lobster brand,” says Wade.
In addition to its remodeling efforts, Red Lobster is also repositioning the brand by launching a new advertising campaign which features actual restaurant employees.
In addition to offering its guests an updated dining atmosphere, Red Lobster is making changes to its core menu. Effective October 15, the seafood eatery will roll out a menu with an affordable and broader selection of items.
Wade has been with Red Lobster’s parent company Darden Restaurants for 11 years. He was promoted to his position as vice president of operations in July. He oversees operations at the chain’s restaurants across North America.
“I partner with the senior team to ensure that we are creating a sound and very strong vision, that we are operating our restaurants with excellence and that we are delivering on the growth targets that we have for the organization,” Wade says of his role.
He previously served Darden’s senior vice president of enterprise operations. Prior to that, Wade was divisional senior vice president of enterprise operations for Red Lobster, where he oversaw about 100 restaurants in seven Mid-Atlantic states.
After being raised in Media, Pa., Wade received a culinary degree from Johnson and Wales University and later earned his bachelor’s degree from Widener University. Before he joined Darden’s team in 1999, he served as chief operating officer for Legal Sea Foods, Inc. and spent 12 years with the T.G.I. Friday’s brand.
Wade says he was compelled to join the Darden because of the company’s strong brands and commitment to diversity.
“It’s an organization with really strong brands. They are trusted brands, brands that are respected so that was the number one factor in me joining Darden,” says Wade.
“The second factor was Darden’s commitment to diversity. I knew that Darden had long had a rich history around diversity and inclusion and as a person of color that appealed to me. We are committed to making sure that our workforce at the management level, at the multi-unit level looks like the consumers that dine with us,” he added.
Based in Orlando, Darden Restaurants has more than 2,000 restaurants with the brands Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden and The Capital Grille.
NEW YORK — Bank of America Corp. is scrapping its plan to charge a $5 monthly debit card fee.
The bank's decision to drop the fee came after a roar of customer outrage in recent weeks over the fee. Other major banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., already canceled tests of similar debit card fees last week.
SunTrust Banks and Regions Financial Corp. followed suit on Monday.
Anne Pace, a spokeswoman for Bank of America, declined to say whether the company experienced a spike in account closures since announcing the $5 debit card fee in September.
But in a statement Tuesday, Bank of America's co-Chief Operating Officer David Darnell said the decision was based on customer feedback. "Our customers' voices are most important to us. As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so," he said.
Pace added that a "changing competitive marketplace" also played a role.
The about-face by the banking industry comes amid growing public anger over higher bank fees. A movement to get bank customers switch to credit unions — started by a Bank of America customer — had marked this Saturday as "Bank Transfer Day."
A separate online petition asking Bank of America to cancel the $5 fee also had gathered more than 306,000 supporters this week.
"Consumers have the power to make the big banks back down from unfair practices if they raise their voices and vote with their feet and their dollars," Norma Garcia of Consumers Union said in a release Tuesday. In the end, she said Bank of America understood that it risked losing too many customers.
Unlike Chase and Wells Fargo, Bank of America's announcement that it would start charging customers a monthly debit card fee early next year had come without any testing in the marketplace.
Pace said the bank had made the decision based on internal surveys with customers. She declined to detail the nature of those surveys but said that in the past couple of weeks, "customer sentiment changed."
The banking industry's retreat from a debit card fee doesn't mean customers aren't seeing higher fees elsewhere.
This past spring, for example, Bank of America raised the monthly fee on its basic checking account to $12, from $8.95.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank is also testing a new menu of checking accounts with monthly fees ranging from $6 to $25 in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts. Pace said the pilot program is seeing "good results" and that the bank plans to move ahead with its rollout sometime next year.
Other smaller fees may be nicking away at customer wallets as well. In September, the bank instituted a $5 fee to replace debit cards, with overnight rush delivery costing $20. Both services had previously been free. Bank of America isn't alone either.
Chase this year also doubled the fee on its basic checking account to $12 a month. But the bank says it will end a test in Georgia of a basic checking account that charged a $15 monthly fee.
And like many other banks, Wells Fargo ended its debit rewards program earlier this year.
The wave of fee hikes comes as the industry adjusts to new regulations. A rule that went into effect last month caps the fees banks can collect from merchants whenever customers swipe their debit cards.
Banks in the past year have blamed their fee hikes and pullback on perks on a new federal law championed by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. The law, which went into effect last month, caps the amount banks can charge merchants whenever customers swipe their debit cards.
JPMorgan has said it would lose $300 million each quarter as a result of the regulation; Wells Fargo said it would lose $250 million a quarter. -- (AP)
The need for personal financial planning was highlighted during a women’s summit hosted by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown and the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
The summit comes at a time of local and national conversations about equal pay for women and the overall strength of their decision making and buying power.
During the “How to Maintain Financial Health in Difficult Economic Times” summit, Reynolds Brown says women in the United States still earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
However, the tide is slowly beginning to turn.
Reynolds Brown cited a Time magazine article titled, “Women, Money and Power,” which stated some experts are predicting that in 25 years, law and medicine will be female-dominated professions. According to Census Bureau data crunched by Reach Advisors, a market-research firm, single, childless women ages 22 to 30 in the majority of large U.S. cities now have a higher median income than their male peers.
“If we are poised to earn the lion’s share of wealth in future generations, it means we must be better equipped and educated on how to manage that wealth,” Reynolds Brown said.
Summit attendees were briefed on saving and investing for retirement and life insurance options by panelists, Antoinette C. Robbins, senior compliance officer, Delaware Investments and Myra E. Parker, financial professional associate, Prudential Insurance Company of America.
Robbins says it’s important that consumers consider factors such as their age, income, financial situation and financial goals when they seek to save and invest their funds.
“A timeline is important and who you’re growing this money for. Is it for a child, is it for yourself, or a spouse or partner? Is it for your elder care, is it to help you buy that first home? All these things are goals,” says Robbins.
Robbins offered tips on selecting a financial services professional by checking the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for information on licensed brokers and professional designations.
Robbins says people can start off with the concept of “paying yourself first” by saving 10 percent of their paycheck.
While Robbins offered tips for gearing up for investments, her fellow panelist addressed the importance of having life insurance.
“My particular focus right now is helping people with life insurance and financial planning because I feel that the foundation for most families is life insurance,” says Parker, who noted there are products that can be used for death expenses, investment purposes and long-term care expenses.
One of the most important investment tools that that can be used towards retirement expenses is the 401(k) plan.
“For those of you who are being entrepreneurs while you are working at a regular job, if you have an opportunity to participate in 401ks, please do so, particularly if your company is still offering you a match, because you’re leaving money on the table if you’re not taking advantage of that match,” Parker stressed.
Parker highlighted the “Financial Experience and Behaviors Among Women” 2010–2011 Prudential Research Study which assessed the landscape of women’s financial security and preparedness. Based on a poll of 1,250 American women, the study found that just one-third of those surveyed had a detailed financial plan in place and among the youngest segment ages 25–34, only one in 10 had a plan in place.
According to the study, many women still lack confidence in their ability to make sound financial decisions and lack knowledge about sophisticated financial products.
The study also indicated that 55 percent of the women polled believe they would have to work longer than they expected and thereby postpone their retirement.