After two consecutive years of decline, the number of penta-millionaires in the U.S. increased by 16% as of mid-year 2010, according to research released September 17 by Rhinebeck, N.Y.-based Phoenix Affluent Marketing Service. At the same time, the company's annual market sizing analysis and aggregate wealth rankings show that the overall number of affluent households increased by only 4% from mid-year 2009 to mid-year 2010. Phoenix defines "affluent" as households with $250,000 or more in liquid wealth, or $150,000 or more in annual income, and ultra high-net-worth as households with $5 million or more in liquid assets.
Data released September 16 by the U.S. Census Bureau show that almost 43.6 million Americans now live in poverty, the highest number since record-keeping began in 1959. This is an increase of 3.7 million Americans in 2009. For children younger than 18, the poverty rate increased from 18% in 2007 to 20.7% in 2009, bringing the number to nearly 15.5 million. According to the government's Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, these figures somewhat overstate the overall rise in poverty because they do not count the bulk of direct assistance that the 2009 Recovery Act provided to households.
The storm has ebbed, but the U.S. economic forecast remains overcast, according to a report released on September 16 by TD Economics, an affiliate of Toronto-based TD Bank. While no miracles are expected over the coming months, the report notes that private domestic demand-the key ingredient to a sustained expansion-has seen a strong burst of activity of late, fueled by a 17.6% annualized increase in business investments. Signs that credit conditions are easing, especially for small businesses, are also encouraging, as they suggest that monetary stimulus is getting through to the real economy. TD's overall take? Look for a gradual unwind of imbalances and a continued slow pick-up in economic activity-and not another descent into recession.
The NFF Capital Partners' Portfolio Performance Report, released September 21 by the Nonprofit Finance Fund, which analyzes the role of philanthropic equity in the nonprofit sector, found that philanthropic equity has, on average, more than tripled program delivery, and doubled revenue for nonprofit organizations that have conducted comprehensive philanthropic equity campaigns. The report notes that while representing a small percentage of charitable giving, interest in philanthropic equity is increasing as forward-thinking funders and social change entrepreneurs strive for new models of addressing critical issues. Visit www.nonprofitfinancefund.org for more information.
The creation of the Global Impact 50-touted as the first-ever index of the top 50 impact investment fund managers that deliver social and environmental value in addition to financial returns-was announced in New York on September 21 at The Clinton Global Initiative. The index is the first step in a new partnership between The Cordes Foundation, Calvert Foundation, and Giving Assets to convene a consortium of philanthropic and financial services leaders to create an impact investment platform. The objective will be to unleash $2 billion of new capital by 2016, an initiative supported by The Rockefeller Foundation. According to a 2010 study, there is $120 billion of U.S. market demand for impact investments. This new index will serve as a gateway into the world of impact investing for investors and their financial advisors.
Today's corporate tax function faces substantial challenges, including lower risk tolerance, a shortage of tax talent, higher expectations for transparency, and more stringent regulations. With all this in mind, WTP Advisors, White Plains, N.Y., a tax and business advisory consultancy, on September 13 launched a new tax service line called "Optimized Tax Operations." The service weds business operations with tax functions by combining operations management and operations research, process optimization, and technological expertise with federal, state and local, and international tax consulting service offerings. Visit www.wtpadvisors.com for more information.
Foresters, a life insurance provider based in Toronto, Canada, announced on September 21 its intent to acquire a 100% ownership interest in First Investors Consolidated Corporation and its U.S. asset management and life insurance operations. (The value of the transaction has not yet been disclosed.) Founded in 1930 and headquartered in New York, FICC is a privately-held financial services organization with about 400 home office employees and assets under management of US$6.6 billion. The transaction is expected to strengthen Foresters' market position in the U.S., and provide the company with entry into an asset-management market currently estimated at US$18 trillion for more information.
A survey conducted by Weber Shandwick with KRC Research and released September 13 found that despite the economy's sluggish recovery, nearly seven in 10 Americans has an optimistic outlook about their finances for the next two years, and nearly one quarter is very optimistic. But few Americans relied on the help of an expert over the last two years. The survey found that only a small segment leaned more than usual on financial advisors (19%) or their banks (17%) to help manage their finances, begging the question of what can be done differently by financial institutions, advisors and others to effectively promote their services. Visit www.webershandwick.com for more information.
With the Asian banks in better shape than their Western counterparts, Singapore remains on track to be among the world's fastest-growing economies in 2010, according to Tessa Dickman, manager of the new Huxley Associates office in Singapore. Statistics from recent research by Pensions & Investments and Towers Watson show that five of the Top 10 countries in the sovereign funds rankings are Asian countries, she noted. In addition, the benchmark Singapore stock index has climbed 29% in the past year, and Singapore's strengthening economy has added to an Asian rebound that prompted central banks to raise interest rates. Huxley Associates, an international consultancy specializing in banking and finance, has seen placements of senior banking & finance professionals in the Far East increase by 43% in the last six months. Visit www.huxley.com for more information.
World-Check, which assesses, manages, and remediates financial, regulatory, and reputational risks (for individuals and entities) in over 240 countries and territories worldwide, will hold its 6th World Compliance Leadership Forum in London at Brocket Hall, September 30 - October 1. The forum will feature special addresses from Peter Clarke, former head of the Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) and currently a non-executive director of the Serious Organised Crime Agency; Frederick Lord, assistant director INTERPOL Anti-Corruption Office, and James M. Lord, assistant United States Attorney in Washington, D.C., along with experts on compliance and the prevention of financial crime. For information go to www.complianceleadershipforum.com.