Auto Insurance Does Not Mean The Same Things To People In The Financial Profession

It is amazing how much literature has been written about the car insurance business online. The main approach in use by the bulk of the writings is in the direction of selling car insurance, rather than offer it in the proper context of insurance product or ‘a product to protect your assets and wealth.’ That is why when searching for the phrase ‘auto insurance’ a large number of websites emerge with the ‘selling’ phrases like affordable auto insurance, or cheap auto insurance or low cost auto insurance.In the early part of 2011 and according to Google AdWords there were 8,100; 74,000; 9,900 monthly searches for the above key phrases, respectively. On the other hand, there were only 110 searches for the phrase ‘reliable auto insurance’, 170 searches for ‘quality auto insurance’, and 8,100 for ‘top auto insurance companies.’ It is rather easy to conclude that most of the searches on line are about price, not quality of insurance.A basic principle in marketing is to understand what people ‘want’ and design and package your product or service to meet what the folks want. Looking at those numbers we can tell that most people want cheap auto insurance. As a marketer, if you design any campaign without considering that analysis you may eventually flunk the marketing tests, close your website and go do something else.So what’s the difference between auto insurance polices? From a ‘financial planning viewpoint’ car insurance comparison should never be based on price only, and perhaps most people agree that cheap insurance is not necessarily the best car insurance. But what most people do not know is that an insurance policy with the best rated company may also be one of the most problematic contract. An auto insurance policy should be compared in reference with three factors:1. Price: of course the cheaper the better.2. Company Rating: Non standard companies are more flexible than their standard or preferred counterparts with regard to past violations found on the MVR activities of the drivers and the credit score of the car insurance applicants. However, non standard companies are harsher than others in customer service and paying claims. Most of complains come from non standard insurance companies. While preferred companies do not hesitate to quickly pay for smaller claims suck as seven or eight thousand dollars claim, or even little more; all companies from top to bottom will try to examine the application to see if they have to or do not have to pay a $100,000 claim.3. Liability Limits. This is the most ignored, least understood, but is the most important aspect of the policy which affect customers during time they need the insurance. It measures how much protection you have in the event you get sued. A professional financial advisor will never ever sell you an auto insurance policy at low limits if he/she has enough information that you and your spouse have enough wealth to be sued for in the event that you or a family household member cause a major auto accident and your car insurance pays the maximum on the policy which turns out not to be enough.There are many insurance policies sold with superior insurance companies at the lowest liability limits mandated by the state. In the State of Illinois these limits are 20/40/15, which means that in the event you cause an accident that is your fault and you get sued by others, then your company will pay to others on your behalf no more than $20,000 for bodily injury for one person, no more than $40,000 for bodily injury for all other people in the accident, and a maximum of $15,000 for any and all property damage you case in that accident. If you are a business owner and you cause a major accident resulting in a unbeaten lawsuit of $300,000 and your insurance company maxed the payment on the policy and paid $20,000, the difference of $280,000 will have to come from your own money!Financial Planners and Auto Insurance Marketers Are Not in HarmonyFinancial planners are not in harmony with insurance marketers about the weight that needs to be placed on limits of liability in auto insurance. Marketers like to stress the aspects of price and company rating, while financial planners like to stress the importance of liability limits first, then company rating second, and perhaps price at a later stage.Although financial planners and auto insurance marketers have the common goals of maximizing their earnings while providing their services, the scope of their operations is different. Auto insurance marketers make their money by selling as many polices as they can have. The marketer does his best to make as many sales as possible, hence making small amount of money on too many policies sold. Financial planners work differently as they try to make big money from each of the few number of customers they have. Selling an auto policy is not the primary concern of a financial planner, but for him or her auto insurance is one of the fundamental subjects of the financial planning process.Car insurance agents look at auto insurance as a way to protect the car itself in the event of theft, fire or another loss, besides the fact that it’s the law. Financial planners look at auto insurance as an integral part of their clients risk management process. To the financial planner an auto policy is not to repair the car in the event of loss, but is mainly about protecting the assets and wealth of the insured, especially against potential lawsuits.Some auto insurance marketers would even suggest to cut down on liability insurance as a way to save money. No sound financial planner will ever make such a suggestion. No way!When does height matter?How high your liability limits should be is the main issue that should prevail when you buy car insurance. You probably need only the minimum liability limits mandated by the states if /when(1) you shopped for higher limits and could not afford it, (2) your current assets or wealth is not big enough to expose you to further lawsuits in the event of at fault auto accident. (3) you are a high risk driver where no one else wants to insure you except at the minimum limits. But, if you have certain amounts of assets and wealth, or is expected to have sizable assets or wealth, then you need to worry about the height of your liability limits.What about if you are not wealthy with plenty of assets? Even for people with little or no wealth, the height of liability limits should be much of a concern to them. This is due to the fact that liability insurance contains certain coverages to pay for your bodily injuries in the event that you get hit by a vehicle that is legally uninsured, or is insured but the insurance on that vehicle was not enough to cover your bodily injuries. According to the Insurance Research Council, approximately 15% to 17% all drivers in the United States are uninsured. Coverages for Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) vary from states to states with regard to their mandatory status and limit amounts. In Illinois UM is mandatory at the limits of $20,000 for bodily injury per person and $40,000 for bodily injury per accident. Underinsured motorists coverage is not mandatory in Illinois but insurance companies must offer it to clients for policies issued with liability over the state limits. Clients can still reject to have higher uninsured/ underinsured motorists but it must be in writing. As you can see, your liability only policy provides coverage for your bodily injuries, and making sure that you have high limits on both liability, UM and UIM can have tremendous effect on your life.

Why Businesses Do Not Sell

It would be nice to live in a world where every business-for-sale was sold at top dollar. While there is no such thing as a perfect business free from all defects, there are a number of problems that can hinder a sale that could be remedied, if given enough time. This article lists ten of the reasons which are often cited as contributing factors in an unsuccessful sale or a completed deal for less than potential value.Business intermediaries need to be up-front with their seller clients, educating them on the challenges faced, and the likely impact that one or more of these issues will have on completing a successful transaction.1. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONSa. Valuation/Listing Price:Arguably, the price a business is listed at is one of the critical elements to a successful sale. An owner’s emotional attachment to their business, coupled with an inexperienced business intermediary’s desire to obtain the listing and please the seller, can be a recipe for disaster. Overpricing a business will deter knowledgeable buyers from establishing communications. Additionally, it will be extremely difficult to defend the valuation when a business has been priced unrealistically. The typical outcome is that the listing will languish in the marketplace and recovery becomes more difficult. Once on the market for months on end at the wrong price, the process in re-pricing and re-listing creates a whole new set of challenges, the least of which is maintaining credibility.b. Unrealistic Terms and/or StructureDeal structure, asset allocation and tax management must be addressed proactively and early in the process. Often the Buyer and Seller place all of the focus on the sale price at the expense of the ‘net after-tax results’ of a business transaction. In most cases, a seller could achieve a deal that provides a greater economic benefit when an experienced Tax Attorney/CPA assists with structuring the transaction. In addition to structure there are a number of other issues that could be problematic, including:

Seller insists on all cash at closing and is inflexible in negotiating other terms.

The buyer’s unwillingness to sign a personal guarantee

The lack of consensus on the Asset Allocation

Seller insisting on only selling stock (typically with a C-Corp)

Inability to negotiate equitable seller financing, an earn-out, or terms for the non-compete

2. PROFESSIONAL ADVISORSFor a successful sale to occur, a business owner must have the right team of advisors in place. An experienced mergers & acquisitions intermediary will play the most critical role – from the business valuation to negotiating the terms, conditions, and price of the sale as well as everything in between (confidential marketing, buyer qualification, etc). Aside from the M&A advisor, a business attorney who specializes in business transactions is critical. Once again, “who specializes in business transactions”. Any professional who has been in the industry for more than a year will be able to point to a transaction that has failed because the lawyer that was chosen did not have the specialized expertise in handling business transactions. Additionally, a competent CPA who is knowledgeable about structuring business transactions will be the third key role. While a business owner’s current legal and tax advisors may have the best of intentions in assisting their client with the business sale, if they are not experienced with mergers and acquisitions it would be highly recommended to evaluate alternatives. In some cases, there is one shot when an offer has been received and it is therefore imperative not to attempt to make a deal that is out of reach and impossible to complete.3. DECREASING REVENUES/PROFITSThe majority of buyers are seeking profitable businesses with year-over-year increasing revenue and profits. When a business has a less stellar track record with varied results or possibly declining revenue and/or profits, complications with the business sale are likely to occur. Not only will decreasing profits and revenue impact the availability of third party funding but it will have a material impact on the business valuation. While buyers traditionally purchase businesses based on anticipated future performance, they will value the business on its historical earnings with the major focus on the prior 12-36 months. For those businesses which have deteriorating financials, the seller should be able to articulate accurate reasons for the decline. Both the lender and the buyer will need to obtain a realistic understanding of the underperformance to assess the impact it is likely to have on future results. In cases where the seller is confident that the decline was an anomaly and is not likely to repeat itself, structuring a component of the purchase price in the form of an earn-out would probably be necessary. In other circumstances, when there are two or more years of declines, the buyer and lender will question “where is the bottom?” and what is the new normal. In this situation, a decrease in valuation will be inevitable. Cash flow is the driver behind business valuations and business acquisitions. The consistency and quality of revenue and income will be one of the key focal points when assessing an acquisition. It all relates to risk. Those businesses with dependable recurring revenue generated from contractual arrangements will generally be in greater demand than businesses who produce income based on a project based model.4. INACCURATE OR INCOMPLETE BOOKSOne of the most critical components to a successful business sale is for the business to maintain accurate, detailed, and clean financial statements that match the filed tax returns. Not only will these financial statements be the basis for the business valuation but they will also be the criteria for whether the business will qualify for bank transaction funding. Too often the business is managed as purely a lifestyle business that is focused only on short term owner compensation, without regard to building long term value. In these cases, the owner has taken very liberal personal expenses that may not be able to be added back when deriving the adjusted earnings. Given the importance these documents represent, a business owner should ensure that the books are professionally managed and up to date. Records that are messy, incomplete, out-of-date or containing too many personal expenses will only give prospective buyers and lenders reasons to question the accuracy of the books. Last but not least, businesses that have a ‘cash component’ will need to report 100% of this income for it to be incorporated in the valuation.5. CUSTOMER CONCENTRATIONBusinesses that have a handful of customers that produce a large percentage of the company’s revenues, will probably have customer concentration issues, especially if one client represents greater than 10% of sales. It is important for a business owner to recognize that a business which lacks a broad and diverse base of customers possesses a higher degree of risk for a buyer as the loss of any one of these large clients could have a material impact on the future earnings. As a result, customer concentration will have an effect on the valuation, deal structure, and salability of the business. Vendor and industry concentration can also pose complications when selling a business. Specialization can be a competitive advantage for a business and assist in winning contracts. However, this same narrow industry focus could be a detriment if it is perceived that the business does possess a broad supply chain and ample options to source products and materials.6. THE OWNER IS THE BUSINESSIt is not uncommon for the owner to play a significant role in the operation and management of the business. This is particularly true with smaller enterprises. Where this situation can present a problem is when the owner is not only the face of the business but also deeply involved with all facets of the company – sales, marketing, operations, management, marketing, and financial. If there are no key employees and there are few written processes and procedures, the business lacks a dependable and repeatable work flow. When it becomes evident that the business cannot operate effectively without the owner’s hands on involvement and personal know-how, it becomes problematic. Of equal concern is the relationship the owner may have with the customers of the business. If the customer does business with the firm largely in part of the relationship with the owner, this situation will create customer retention concerns and possible transition problems when the business is being sold. In summary, buyers want a business that can operate independently from the current business owner.7. THE OWNER(S) IS AGING AND HAS SLOWED-DOWNIt is not uncommon for a business owner to become complacent after running the company for an extended period of time. Becoming tired and lacking the previous ‘fire in the belly’ has a way of spilling over into the business fundamentals. The number of trade shows that the business participates in decreases, the travel and new customer sales calls that routinely took place on a daily basis in the early years, have been paired down. The investment spending on equipment upgrades, vehicle replacement or marketing programs have been cut back. Innovation has come to a grinding halt and the business is on auto pilot. The financials have luckily held steady but for how long? An owner who has become burnt out almost unavoidably transmits their lack of zeal and drive to their staff and clients in a number of subtle ways. The net result is the company’s performance slowly begins to deteriorate. Unfortunately, this situation can become even more pronounced when the owner finally makes the decision to sell the business and mentally checks out at the worst possible time. Transferring ownership can be viewed by some as a highly emotional process, and the decision to sell at the right time is often ignored until the issue is forced upon the owner (failing health, divorce, disability, etc.) and usually at a fraction of the former valuation.8. INDUSTRY IS DIMINISHING OR THREATENED Over the last two centuries there have been a number of industries that have developed and grown significantly. In this same time frame, many new industries have been created while others have become extinct. The future outlook for a given industry will have a direct impact on the valuation and marketability of the business during a sale. Businesses facing obsolescence or mired in a shrinking industry will face an uphill battle when it comes time to transitioning or selling the company. Maintaining a diverse offering of products and services that are relevant to the market, not just today, but also with an eye to the future, will enable a business owner to avoid this situation. Not only will this assist in mitigating the impact from declining sales but also demonstrate to a prospective buyer that the business has a clear path to grow in the future.9. CHOOSING THE WRONG LENDERFrom loan application approval to transaction funding is a process in business transactions that can take six weeks or more, that is with an ‘experienced’ business acquisition financier. Many deals have fallen apart during this time frame because the buyer became aligned with the wrong financial institution. There is nothing worse, for all parties involved, to find out four weeks into the process that either the loan terms previously promised were not correct or worse, that the bank underwriter declined the loan.In the field of business acquisitions, not all banks/lenders are the same. There are conventional loans, SBA backed loans, and there are lenders that provide cash-flow based financing and others that only provide asset based funding. One bank may turn down a borrower for an SBA 7a loan while another institution will readily accept it. Every lender has its own unique and frequently modified lending criteria. Therefore, buyers need to ensure they are working with the right lender from day one, or valuable time is wasted causing the deal to be compromised, or lost to another, better prepared candidate. Buyers should consult with the business intermediary representing the sale to determine which lenders have reviewed and/or pre-approved the transaction for funding. Obviously, buyers who are prequalified from the start and verify that the bank’s lending criteria conforms to the type of businesses they are evaluating, will be the best positioned for a successful acquisition.10. COMMERCIAL PROPERTY ISSUESFor some businesses the saying “location, location, location” cannot be more important to the value of the company. Typically, this will pertain to retail businesses. If the physical location is of major importance, the business buyer will seek assurances that they can either purchase the real estate or be able to sign a long term lease. On the flip side, the business could be located in a part of town that has fallen on hard times or could be located on the owner’s personal property, both situations necessitating that the business be relocated. Also, some businesses are not easily relocatable without affecting the current customer base. All of these circumstances add another layer of complexity to the transaction.Additionally, the type and size of facility can also have a material impact on the sale. If the facility is not large enough to provide the enterprise a sustained growth path, a buyer could become disinterested. Another situation could be the value of the property. If the current owner purchased the land/building a decade or two earlier and the financials or recast do not reflect a current FMV rent/lease payment, valuation problems will occur.Business transactions involving the sale of commercial real estate can be hampered by the Environmental Site Assessments (ESA’s) – Phase 1 and Phase 2. Property that is contaminated can be very costly to clean up and will have an impact on the closing. When this situation arises, it will be important for the buyer and seller to have a clear understanding of the costs to resolve the issue, which party is responsible, and whether a price offset will be warranted.Other complicating factors involving commercial real estate include zoning changes that require a property to be brought up to new codes, and clear definition of who bears responsibility and the cost of this process. Last but not least, the agreement by the landlord with either a lease assignment or offering a new lease at comparable rates.SUMMARYMost small business owners have spent the majority of their life building their business. It is not uncommon for a business seller to become so emotionally attached to the company that they look past some rather glaring problems that a business intermediary, a lender, or prospective buyer will immediately recognize. It is natural for a seller to want to obtain the highest price possible for their business. There is so much bad information on the web related to multiples and business valuations that this should not come as a surprise. M&A Advisors need to be honest and direct in educating a business seller on the challenges faced in a potential sale, the range for a realistic transaction price, as well as creative terms and structuring options that might be utilized. Being a people pleaser and ignoring any potential problems will only provide the seller with unrealistic expectations. In the arena of business negotiations there are few if any “pleasant surprises”. Dealing with issues up front rather than late in the sales cycle process should be the golden rule.

Using Of Traditional Executive Office Furniture

Traditional executive office furniture has been in use for quite a long time and it can give your office the feel of fresh and rich existence. With this type of furniture, you can transform any ordinary looking office into a truly rich looking posh work space. This will help to increase the value of the office. This is the reason why most business owners choose traditional executive furniture for decorating their offices. By using this type of furniture, you will feel like the head of a company even if you are not one.The traditional appearance of this kind of furniture is what helps to differentiate it from other types of office furnishing items. The traditional look gives it a unique feel, which in turn offers a rich and elegant look. Today there is absolutely no shortage of highly fashionable and extremely functional furnishing items, but then it does not have that traditional look; hence, the popularity of traditional executive office furniture.Traditional executive office furniture looks elegant, since it is handcrafted with great designs. The manufacturers of this type of furniture put in a lot of time and effort while manufacturing the items. Though these furnishing items are usually costly, they are worth the expense. You should always consider the look and feel of this furniture while purchasing it rather than lamenting about its cost. The materials used are usually of solid wood, which makes it look heavy. The heavy look and the quality of the solid wood make the furniture durable enough to last for decades.Traditional executive office furniture scores a point over modern office designs. This is more so as because of the durability of traditional furniture can not be challenged by these modern designs. Although the modern furniture is extremely functional, the lifespan of this type of furniture would not go beyond five to six years. Moreover, traditional furniture does not require a lot of maintenance and they can easily sustain for almost 20 years. Because of this, the high cost of traditional executive office furniture does not really seem a lot since they can last for a very long time. The longevity of the items, make up for their cost.Traditional executive office furniture is available for a number of requirements like wall hangings, chairs, wall furniture, etc. This enables traditional furniture enthusiasts to purchase an item of their choice without much difficulty. Traditional furniture is used often because of its uniqueness. Since most people use modern furniture, using traditional furniture can be used as a statement of fashion. Due to this demand for this type of traditional furniture, the popularity of the furniture has greatly increased. Since this type of furniture enables people to depict a unique feel of their own, this furniture is highly preferable. Browse through the different collections in order to select a furnishing set of your choice.