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When Business and Social Good Intersects Communities Benefit

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Photo Credit: @ArupAccessible

Annually, London Borough hosts the Camden’s Business Awards where a range of local companies, large and small, were up for recognition for their contribution to innovation, the local economy, design and the creation of new job opportunities.

I was there to support the Accessible Environments team of the design and engineering company Arup who over several years have worked tirelessly to support our work as a small local charity – we were initially approached by this team because they were interested in doing some fundraising for a local charity that supported disabled people.

We soon found further common ground, and the relationship has since led to Arup training service users and staff to carry out access audits and providing placements for young people with a learning disability in their high-tech, high performance and yet awesomely inclusive work environment.

Our relationship with Arup really exemplifies a voluntary sector organisation and a business working together at its best. What I’ve learned is that when the corporate world engages with charities and voluntary sector organisations, some key elements determine the long-term value achieved. Below I identify 3 of them:

Shared values

One is around the importance of shared values, in this case focusing on a genuine commitment to pursuing inclusion and community participation.  The most effective outcomes come from working with businesses like Arup that embrace the same outcomes we care about and approach them with the same respect, rigour and commitment.

That attitude is also demonstrated by the staff of John Lewis, Oxford Street, when they take our students on work placements throughout the store. They have a genuine personal commitment to helping young people with a learning disability succeed. That’s shown wonderfully when we have events at the store to mark student achievements and staff from all departments flock to take part in the celebrations – not because they are told to or have to but because, like our supporters at Arup, they care about the lives and progress of the young people their company hosts.

Last year, I also spent an evening at the 15th birthday celebrations of The Front Yard Company a small social enterprise who share their beautifully designed building with a community of other makers and designers across the road from our offices. My invitation came about because, over the last few years, due to some wonderfully supportive and collaborative interactions with the Front Yard Company. They designed and supplied the plant lockers which decorate the road outside our building and provide places for cyclists to securely lock their bikes. Most importantly, they also worked with our students with a learning disability to place and fill them with bulbs and bushes.

The celebrations were a wonderfully warm and vibrant evening with the diverse guests and speakers showing how deeply embedded this little company is in their part of North London. The company chose to mark their place and story in the community by highlighting organisations nearby, including Elfrida Rathbone Camden (ERC). The company is so physically close to our location they see our young people, families, and staff coming in and out every single day. They value all our stakeholders as neighbours and contributors to the local community too.

Respect

Secondly, it is vital to have respect for the skills that exist on both sides of the relationship – the partnership has been about mutual learning and especially a recognition that we all learn from the experiences of service users. It’s important to state that this is a learning process that flows both ways too. Arup’s Accessible Environments team tell me that working with our service users have improved their understanding of some of the day-to-day barriers that the built environment presents.

Apparently, there is little in today’s building codes and standards which directly addresses the requirements of people with neuro-diverse needs. An added benefit of working with charities, it can help sharpen professional insights and skills on the side of the business partner too. Much as with the relationship with local authorities, it’s important that voluntary organisations and their service users are not just seen as absorbing resources. We want businesses to see their interactions with us as beneficialal opportunity as well.

Pragmatic support

Lastly, it has been really important for ERC that our corporate partners whose resources are so much greater understand the limitations and pressures on our side (such as having to prioritise the demands of service delivery over fundraising) to make sure the support offered is pragmatic and enables real change. Ongoing access to work placements like those described above has helped our learners build their self-esteem, and overcome barriers around access to academic qualifications, role models and confidence in the workplace.

Practical support can come in other ways too like that given to us by Bikes for Good Causes (BGC) a Wood Green social enterprise that sells good quality, donated bikes and also provides a full bicycle repair and maintenance service.

When I and 3 ERC colleagues committed to do the London to Brighton Bike Ride in 2016 the manager of BGC, Sue Wade kindly agreed to support ERC by making sure our bikes were in good condition ahead of the ride. What struck me when I contacted Sue was how quickly she had said yes (which is not to say that BGC can always do this – they have to raise income and be sustainable to meet their own objectives).

Before my good fortune in coming across BGC I had been in contact with a national cycling chain with a Camden branch which two of us had actually bought our bikes from. That big company didn’t feel able to help us with our request which is, of course, their prerogative but I did think at the time that it was a slightly short-sighted decision on their part, bearing in mind all the local recognition and publicity we would have given them. But for BGC it was an automatic decision based on their community spirit and ethos regardless of whether it held any possible benefit for them.

I think there is something in our experiences about how voluntary organisations and businesses, whether either is big or small, that can create meaning and sustained relationships based simply on retaining a sense of generosity and respect in giving support and in working with each other. When that happens we all become community workers no matter who pays our wages.

Alexis Keir has been Director of Elfrida Rathbone Camden based in North London, UK for 10 years. Prior to that he has managed a range of family support projects and worked extensively with groups led by Disabled people and other groups of service users. His social work and community development foundations are in work with the Deaf community both in the UK and New Zealand.

          
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Three Mobile Marketing Strategies to Raise Awareness

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Today, mobile marketing is one of the most powerful forms of digital marketing. Social media, email and video marketing are other channels for digital marketing, but none of them is quite as efficient as mobile marketing. Mobile marketing entails providing mobile phone users with personalized info which promotes goods and services.

It has an extensive reach. Billions of people around the world actively use mobile devices. The audience is there to be harnessed. With mobile marketing, you can send time sensitive information and personalized deals via push notifications, mobile applications, text messages, QR codes, Bluetooth, and multimedia messages.

Mobile marketing can be vital for enhancing brand loyalty. It also increases the chances of gaining new customers while simultaneously making sure that existing ones return to patronize your business.

Like other forms of digital marketing, there are various mobile marketing strategies out there. The trick is to choose an approach that works with your audience; an approach that increases brand engagement, awareness, and customer participation.

Below is a list of mobile marketing strategies that are guaranteed to drive up engagement rates and conversions for your business:

Make the best use of micro-moments

Micro-moments is a term coined by Google. It primarily refers to moments in time when people use their phones to get advice or information. The unprecedented accessibility to the world wide web mobile devices grant conditions many users to seek immediate answers, as quickly as possible, preferably without extraneous data. Extraneous data includes charts, PDF files, and graphs.

There are four major micro-moments you should take advantage of repeatedly. They are:

  • “I want to know” moments, e.g., “Who invented the mobile phone?”
  • “I want to go” moments, e.g., “Where can I see a movie?”
  • “I want to do” moments, e.g., “How do I upgrade my personal computer?”
  • “I want to buy” moments, e.g., “Buy Samsung Galaxy S9.”

Optimizing these micro-moments can make all the difference for your business.

You have to research and anticipate the most common searches and needs of your target audience. The next step is to go on to create actionable content that addresses those needs.

Take proper care to make sure that your content is straight to the point.

Mobile marketing truly shines when you promote your brand while providing answers to these micro-moments.

Take for example a clothing company. While answering a query about tying a necktie knot, you could provide a hyperlink to a page on your website with a collection of ties for sale.

You can also get creative by including suggestions and information about shopping deals and discounts as a part of your content. Just makes sure that you include these links and deals without compromising the brevity and quality of the information you are providing.

Use QR codes to improve user experience

Most mobile phone users are now aware of the fact that scanning QR codes with smartphones is an accessible source of information. A considerable percentage of shoppers have confessed to using smartphones to scan QR codes to compare prices.

Use QR codes to provide a seamless information to your target audience.

Remember that everyone wants information as quickly and as directly as possible. When scanned, your QR codes should lead directly to a specific, valuable and useful information. View them as a shortcut for your customer base to get the answers they need.

Make sure that your QR codes do one of the following:

  • Take users to a page with detailed information about a product
  • Offer users deals, promos, or a coupon
  • Allow users to follow your brand on social media.

Utilize SMS to connect with your customers quickly and on the go

According to statistics gleaned from Venture Beat, the open rate for promotions and campaigns sent via text messages is 98%. This represents the highest open rate among the available forms of digital marketing.

On the other hand, the number of mobile coupons users is projected to reach 1.05 billion by 2019. Text messages are a great way to engage with your customers by offering special deals and personalized promotions, among other things.

Since text messages are almost always opened, you must make sure that your customers are ready to add their numbers to your messaging lists.

You can do this by offering compensation in the form of discounts for customers that sign up with their phone numbers. Furthermore, you can use text messages to publicize sales, send reminders for appointment-based businesses, conduct customer surveys, and check up on reluctant customers.

There are many other ways mobile marketing can empower a brand and increase its reach, but the strategies listed above are tested and work admirably if incorporated accurately.

Study your audience, understand their needs and play the strengths of your brand through some inobrtusive, yet engaging mobile marketing.

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Women Have Fundamentally Different Journeys to Financial Wellness, Merrill Lynch Study Reveals

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A new Merrill Lynch study conducted in partnership with Age Wave, “Women and Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line,” celebrates the progress made by women while examining the financial challenges women still face throughout their lives, and offers potential solutions. The study finds that 70 percent of women believe that men and women have a fundamentally different life journey, reinforcing the need to better understand women’s financial concerns and opportunities. The study is based on a nationally representative sample of 3,707 respondents, including 2,638 women and 1,069 men.

“Women’s life journeys are not only different than men’s, they’re different than the life journeys of our mothers and grandmothers.”

“Women have come a long way both personally and professionally, but when it comes to their finances, there is still a trail left to blaze,” said Lorna Sabbia, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “As women are at a tipping point to achieve greater financial empowerment and independence, it is even more essential that we support women in helping them pursue financial security for life. This includes encouraging women to invest more of their assets, save earlier for retirement, and pursue financial solutions that closely align to their personal values and life paths.”

Findings include:

Women look beyond the bottom line
While they definitely care about the performance of investments, women view money as a way to finance the lives they want. Seventy-seven percent say they see money in terms of what it can do for themselves and their families. Eighty-four percent say that understanding their finances is key to greater career flexibility. When it comes to investing, about two-thirds of women look to invest in causes that matter to them.1

Superior longevity
Longevity needs to be a factor in everyone’s financial strategy, but more so for women, who on average, live five years longer than men. Eighty-one percent of centenarians are women.2 While 64 percent of women say they would like to live to 100, few feel financially prepared, with 44 percent of women stating they worry they will run out of money by age 80.

Confidence in all but investing
The study finds that women are confident in most financial tasks, such as paying bills (90 percent) and budgeting (84 percent). However, when it comes to managing investments, their confidence drops significantly; only 52 percent of women say they are confident in managing investments, versus 68 percent of men. Millennial women were the least confident at 46 percent. Of women who do invest, their financial confidence soars; 77 percent of women who invest feel they will be able to accumulate enough money to support themselves for life.

A trail left to blaze
The study also finds how important understanding the gender wealth gap (as opposed to the wage gap) and wealth escalators are to women’s financial wellness. Women experience a gender wealth gap – the difference between men’s and women’s financial resources across their lifetimes, including earnings, investments, retirement savings and additional assets. This wealth gap can translate to a woman at retirement age having accumulated as much as $1,055,000 less than her male counterparts.3Contributing factors include:

  • Temporary interruption, permanent impact: Many women experience lasting effects when they take time away from the workforce to provide care, including for aging parents, their own spouses, and their own children. One in three mothers who returned to the workforce after caring for children says she took on less demanding work, which resulted in lower pay. Twenty-one percent say they were paid less for the same work they did previously.
  • Greater lifetime health and care costs: The average woman is likely to have higher health costs than the average man in retirement – paying an additional $195,000 on average4 – due to living longer and having to rely on formal long-term care in later years.

“Women’s life journeys are not only different than men’s, they’re different than the life journeys of our mothers and grandmothers,” said Maddy Dychtwald, co-founder and senior vice president of Age Wave. “We have more opportunities and choices when it comes to family, education and careers, but we’re so busy taking care of other people and other priorities, we often don’t take the time to invest in ourselves and our future financial wellness. If more women can actively take control of their financial future all along the way, it would not only benefit them, but also their families and our society overall.”

Doing more to promote financial wellness
Bank of America’s Global Wealth and Investment Management business serves affluent and wealthy clients through two leading brands in wealth management: Merrill Lynch and U.S. Trust. Advisors specialize in goals-based wealth management, including planning for retirement, education, legacy, and other life goals through investment, cash and credit management.

“In a period of remarkable advances for women in society, a remaining frontier is financial well-being,” said Andy Sieg, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. “It’s a basic component in the quality of life. This report lays out a blueprint for helping to achieve it – and we at Merrill Lynch relish the opportunity to provide women everywhere with advice and support that can make a meaningful difference at every stage of their lives.”

Through its advisors, educational offerings and other resources, Bank of America is positioned to help clients overcome the common challenges presented in the study by:

  • Addressing women’s top financial regret: not investing more. Forty-one percent of women say not investing more is their biggest regret. Women cite lack of knowledge (60 percent) and confidence (34 percent) as top barriers.
  • Focusing on disparities in wealth, not just income. Women’s financial security is about more than closing today’s pay gap. It’s about accumulating assets or wealth at all income levels, and increasing women’s access to wealth escalators (e.g., employee benefits such as paid time off and pretax savings opportunities).
  • Breaking the silence about money. Sixty-one percent of women say they would rather discuss details about their own death than talk about their money. Forty-five percent of women report they don’t have a financial role model.

To learn more about women’s financial wellness, read “Women and Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line.”

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Top Apps and Tools Recommended for Every Entrepreneur

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Running a small business takes a lot of work. Today there’s technology that will help you with this. This technology won’t only help you stay on top of what you’re doing but it will also help you free up time so you’re not always chained to your office.

Accounting and Expenses

One of the most important parts of your business has to do with accounting and expenses. When you don’t properly manage this area of your business you probably won’t be in business for long. Although you can clearly see how this could take up a lot of your time, PC Mag says it doesn’t have to be this way. Some apps that will help you stay in control in less time include:

NetSuite OneWorld is a completely scalable enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that helps you manage expense reports, purchase orders, business dashboards, and security records. Many business owners have made this their one-stop shop for managing their business when they’re away from their computer.

Acumatica is a general ledger accounting software. This is a browser-based tool that lets you access your accounting data from any device that has an internet connection – including a downloadable iOS or Android app. You can enter time cards, run expense reports, and enter purchase orders from the app.

Expensify is an expense report software for use on your mobile device. With its app, you can upload receipts through OCR SmartScan. It does a great job at accurately processing scanned data, which will save you and your employees time when it comes to inputting and processing expenses.

Tsheets is a mobile app that lets you clock in or out and track time even if you don’t have cell coverage. As a manager, you can clock team members individually or all at the same time. You can also see who’s at work and where they’re working from. Additionally, you can create, edit, and publish scheduled jobs or shifts, automate timesheet alerts, and track paid time off, sick days, and holidays.

QuickBooks is still a solid accounting tool that will help you track and manage your finances. While the app isn’t a fully featured, mobile version of the desktop application it still lets you track sales, send out invoices, and review recent payments while away from the office.

Collaboration and Communication

There are some other great communication and collaboration tools you should also check out. These include:

SurveyMonkey lets you see what’s going on with your customers and employees – something that’s crucial for a business of any size today. Simply create a survey that people can create and participate in from their mobile device. You can then analyze the data from your mobile device once the poll ends.

MailChimp is very helpful when it comes to email marketing, which is a 24/7 job. They’re on suite tools make it easy for you to launch a campaign from your mobile device. All it takes is a few taps and you can recreate the same campaign that you would have created from your desktop. From there you can also monitor the campaign’s progress, edit subscriber profiles, and run multivariate reports.

HubSpot is a marketing automation tool that provides you with a robust iOS and Android app. From there you can manage contacts between your marketing, sales, and service teams while on the go. You can also monitor leads as they move through your sales funnel, communicate with partners who are members of other teams and evaluate campaign metrics to decide if you need to make any wholesale changes.

Evernote Scannable is a great mobile scanning app that quickly and automatically scans business cards, documents, meeting notes, and other files for you. It also connects to LinkedIn and offers you a great text-parsing tool so that you can clean up any docs that turn out jumbled.

UberConference for online meetings. Another important area of your business lies in communicating with your customers and collaborating with your employees. It’s a solid video conferencing app that allows you to meet remotely with employees and clients. The platform is flexible, allowing you to connect with users on any device. This is a great way to virtually drop into a staff meeting while you’re away from the office.

Business Management

Although collaboration, communication, and accounting lie at the heart of your business, there are other important work-related tasks you can probably think of as well. There are some business management tools that are helpful here, including:

Salesforce Sales Cloud Professional is a CRM software tool that gives you access to customer and sales data. You can then use this data to improve your business’ operations. This comprehensive and flexible platform helps you stay in step with your competition. Business News Daily also points out that there’s a free extension that you can add on to this app. It encompasses your service’s Chatter, CRM, apps, and processes within your Android smartphone. This allows you to customize these apps so that they’re more functional and you can stay up-to-date with any notifications and alerts.

Zoho CRM is just as functional as Salesforce, but it also ties in nicely with the rest of the Zoho software ecosystem – including your Zoho email, document management, and email marketing client.

Sprout Social offers you help in creating and maintaining a solid social media strategy. It also provides the best social media management and analytics tools that you can access directly from your mobile device without sacrificing any functionality. Through these apps, you can identify influencers, ideal moments for customer engagement, and have data that back all these things up.

HootSuite offers a mature, complete set of social media management and analytics tools in a nicely designed hub. This lets you conduct comprehensive monitoring, influencer identification, and publish to social media channels.

As you look through these tools, remember that your company is only as good as the tools it uses. With so many tools available, the selection process can become quite daunting. However, you can’t ignore the fact that you need these tools so your business can run 24/7 while you only work weekdays from 9 – 5.

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The One Question That Fuels My Approach to Life: What Can I Do For You

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Through my three battles with cancer, I can’t even count how many times I received this question. And with three young children at home, what was I going to say? “Sure. Can you make sure my kids get fed? Can you do a load of laundry for me?”

I was blessed to have such giving, selfless people in my life, but the truth was that my priorities had changed. Cooking, cleaning and chores like them weren’t at the top of my to-do list anymore; I was in survival mode. So when people asked what they could do for me, I usually responded with, “I don’t know.”

One of the human spirit’s most enduring traits is a desire to be useful during times of crisis. The people around me needed to do something, and so did I. Even as I fought to maintain my own health, finding even the smallest way to help someone in need filled me with strength and purpose.

I want every step I take and every move I make to count, for myself and others who are in need. That mantra informs everything I do, be it personal or professional, and is all a product of receiving the kindness I didn’t know I needed when I needed it most.

Putting gratitude into all we do.

It amazes me, the strength we gain from the smallest things. During one of my cancer stints, I bought my then-husband glass-blowing lessons for his birthday, and one night, he brought home a votive he’d made.

After I dropped a tea light inside, the combination of light and color draped me in this feeling of warmth and comfort that I’d never experienced before or even realized I wanted. And I immediately knew I wanted to give others the same solace I felt at that time.

That was the impetus for glassybaby, where we sell glass votives and drinking glasses. We made these pieces in specific colors and attached origin stories to them to help buyers feel more connected with the glass vessels and with our story. While we hope to recreate that same feeling I felt the first time I dropped that light in, we don’t want the glow to end there.

Ten percent of our pretax revenue goes to charitable organizations focused on healing people, the planet and animals. Before we had any kind of business objective, we had the simple desire to help people, to give them comfort. That’s how sustainable giving has worked so well in our company. It’s not an add-on; it’s 100 percent part of our mission, our core and our bottom line. It’s the embodiment of success to me.

When giving actions come from everyday personal interactions rather than some sense of obligation, they can become authentic gestures that transcend the professional, personal and recreational silos we put up in our lives. We compartmentalize our lives so rigorously, but if we take down some of those walls, that’s where we find the opportunities to reach out and help — because it’s the things we care about that inspire the most passion.

Building generosity into those passions is the best way to ensure we’re giving to worthwhile causes. I didn’t come from a traditional business background. Instead, my vision for glassybaby was inspired by my time in the chemo room. It gave me an insight into what people needed and wanted during that critical time. I came to understand their unique problems — the mother who missed a chemo session because she couldn’t find childcare, the woman who was late because she couldn’t afford the bus.

Once we start understanding the problems and basic needs around us, we’ll be able to put that insight into your business plans and personal endeavors. Let our own personal structure and value sets organically tie to people’s needs, and a model of sustainable giving will follow.

“What can I do for you?” is one of the most fundamental human questions in times of need and has helped mold my personal and professional life approaches. Where will it take you?

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Fearless: How One Financial Expert Faced Her Fear Of Public Speaking

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Pamela Yellen and Richard Branson

When you are on a collision course to face your fears in order to achieve your future career goals, what will you do? Do you run and hide, drag your feet and hope things will blow over, or will you dawn your Super Woman cape and address the elephant in the room?

Today’s woman wears many hats and it should come as no surprise that with all of the role-changes, fear and anxiety can be a bit challenging for some. Add to that a career path that is rooted in public speaking and you could have a recipe for disaster as the challenges faced with respect to public speaking are high. Communication, in general, tends to be challenging for women on both a personal and professional level for various reasons, but why do we seem to struggle a bit more with public speaking?

Sweaty palms, a racing heart, or feeling like a frog is lodged in your throat. Those psychosomatic symptoms can be a real bummer and for many women, they never achieve their full potential due to their overwhelming fear of public speaking. To shed light on this common problem, we turned to financial expert and two-time New York Times bestseller, Pamela Yellen, who knows all too well about overcoming the fear of public speaking.

We wanted to know how someone who had garnered enough support to raise $25,000 in funds for the American Cancer Society and was fearless enough to dawn a gold-sequined leotard while riding on an elephant struggled with fear and anxiety that almost halted her career pursuits. “You can be a risk taker and still be afraid to get up in front of more than a couple of people.”

Despite the risks Pamela has taken in her life, it wasn’t until she decided to go in a different direction and develop a more professional career as a financial services consultant and public speaker that she was prompted to deal with her “paralyzing stage fright.” Once she conquered her fears, she went on to help others face their fears relating to financial security and grace us with Bank on Yourself: The Life-Changing Secret to Growing and Protecting Your Financial Future and The Bank On Yourself Revolution: Fire Your Banker, Bypass Wall Street, and Take Control of Your Own Financial Future.

To help quell her fears and set her on the path to success, Pamela got busy and ushered in the help of a mentor. When asked if she felt like the mentoring approach and feedback would have set her on a different path had her mentor been a female, she chuckled, “I guess we’ll never know, but I will tell you that I was a bit intimidated by him and he was a very strong, demanding, no-nonsense kind of guy. I think maybe I needed that [approach] at that time.” She also acknowledges her abilities to develop and lead people to reach their potential, developing strategies to avoid foreseeable obstacles, and her natural curiosity to challenge conventional wisdom as key strengths that have contributed to her success.

So what do you do when all eyes are on you and it seems as if the world is judging you? According to Pamela, “You can choose are you gonna sit there and stand there and worry about what they’re gonna think about you or are you going to focus on the fact that you have value to give them.”

Having a clear focus is important when taking on any task, especially something as intimidating as public speaking.Once you choose to change your focus to the value that you bring to your client or an audience, you can begin to approach public speaking differently. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you will never have a nervous moment again. Pamela stated she “still gets plagued by a lack of confidence every now and then” but despite a few hang-ups, she has still persisted and has been quite successful in pursuing her goals.

Speaking of womanhood, we would be remiss not to address the obstacles faced by women in addition to the generalized fear many have regarding public speaking. How does one persist when it seems like odds are stacked against women? Being a woman has made her somewhat of an easier target to negative criticism and has been a cause of hesitancy along her journey.

Given many of the patriarchal norms and stereotypes assigned to women that continue to shape much of society, it’s easy to see how despite all of her success, remnants of fear and anxiety can still rear their ugly head. There is little doubt that being a woman presents its own set of problems when speaking out and sometimes against the status quo.

When asked about her thoughts on being a woman in such a male-dominated field, Pamela stated, “people attack me regularly because I go against the conventional financial wisdom.” She also offered an inspiring quote from her mentor, Dan Kennedy, “It’s been so profoundly powerful for me ‘If you’re not offending someone by noon every day then you’re not doing much.'” Despite her critics, like a true superhero, Pamela still persists and we are thankful for it.

Switching gears, the interview would not have been complete without garnering some financial advice from the guru herself. Money and financial security or lack thereof can be a great cause of fear and anxiety for anybody. Understanding that a large part of overcoming fear or anxiety involves doing something different, rather it be challenging yourself or learning something new. Pamela’s book encourages you to do both.

With no regard to socio-economic status, age, or income, Bank On Yourself allows consumers to achieve their goals and take control of their financial situation by avoiding Wall Street while challenging financial institutions and their tactics.

While different groups have benefited from Pamela’s books, advice, and financial expertise; by far the group that has benefited the most have been the baby-boomer generation. “I think a lot of baby boomers and women have benefited from my books because the baby-boomers are the ones or the group that no longer has guaranteed pensions from their companies and their basically on their own to save for their own retirement.” For those still reeling from the Recession, looking to recover from slow economic growth, or gain financial freedom Pamela advises “if you’re not comfortable with the idea of never being sure that you’ll have you know a certain amount of money for retirement you need to look at safe and guaranteed methods of saving for retirement.”

Rather it is public speaking, finances, or career guidance; no matter how successful, when it comes to certain things, fear and doubt can set in and if left unaddressed will find a permanent home in our lives. To learn more about some of these safe financial methods and get a free and safe wealth building report, you can visit www.bankonyourself.com.

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Ninety-Two Percent of Caregivers Are Financial Caregivers

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A Merrill Lynch study, conducted in partnership with Age Wave, finds that the 40 million family caregivers in the U.S. spend $190 billion per year on their adult care recipients. Despite the financial, emotional and functional challenges in this life stage, preserving the dignity of their loved one is their primary goal. The vast majority of caregivers (91 percent) are grateful they could be there to provide care, and 77 percent say they “would gladly do so again.”

“As tens of millions of people take on caregiving responsibilities each year, supporting those caring for our aging population has become one of the most pressing financial issues of our lifetime”

Family caregivers are America’s other social security, providing the bulk of long-term care today. The aging of the baby boomers will result in unprecedented numbers of people in America needing care. As a caregiving crunch is upon us, “The Journey of Caregiving: Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity” offers an in-depth look at Americans’ financial and emotional journeys during this life stage. This study marks the beginning of a new, multiyear research series from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave that will examine five distinct life stages: early adulthood, parenting, caregiving, widowhood, and end of life.

As the first of the series, this study examines the responsibilities, sacrifices, and rewards of caregiving – a life stage that nearly all Americans will participate in, as a caregiver, care recipient or both. This study comprehensively explores the topic of financial caregivers – a role largely unexamined, yet held by 92 percent of caregivers. Financial caregiving involves contributing to the costs of care and/or coordinating or managing finances for a care recipient.

The study is based on a nationwide sample of more than 2,200 respondents, including 2,010 caregivers. Key findings about their caregiving journey include: Paying bills from their recipient’s account (65 percent), Monitoring bank accounts (53 percent), Handling insurance claims (47 percent), Filing taxes (41 percent), Managing invested assets (21 percent).

  • Much more than hands-on care. Providing emotional support (98 percent), financial caregiving (92 percent), household support (92 percent) and care coordination (79 percent) far outweigh physical care (64 percent).
  • Financial costs – with little discussion of their ramifications. Seventy-five percent of financial contributors and their care recipients have not discussed the financial impacts of these contributions.
  • Caregiving for a spouse vs. for a parent. A spouse is 3.5 times more likely to be the sole caregiver looking after a care recipient and is more likely to spend more out of pocket on care-related costs. Their caregiving journey is also different in terms of the obligations and financial interdependencies they hold with their loved one.
  • Caregiving gender gap. Both for cultural and biological reasons, women are more commonly caregivers for spouses and parents, averaging six years of caregiving in their lifetime versus four years for men. As a result, women are disproportionately impacted by the challenges of caregiving, including struggling to balance responsibilities and making career sacrifices. And then, more find themselves alone and without someone to care for them when needed.
  • Responsibilities extend beyond the care recipient’s life. Sixty-one percent of the time, caregivers expect their role will end with the death of their loved one. However, the complexities of financial, legal, and other aspects of caregiving often continue for months or even years.

“As tens of millions of people take on caregiving responsibilities each year, supporting those caring for our aging population has become one of the most pressing financial issues of our lifetime,” said Lorna Sabbia, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Greater longevity is going to have a profound impact on the caregiving landscape and calls for earlier, more comprehensive planning and innovative solutions to address the health and long-term care needs of our loved ones.”

Financial caregiving: Navigating complexity and responsibility
The study finds that 92 percent of caregivers are also financial caregivers, and are contributing to and/or coordinating finances for their loved one. In fact, after two years of receiving care, 88 percent of care recipients are no longer managing their finances independently.

Financial caregiving is often far more complex than simply contributing to the recipient’s care. Financial caregivers are responsible for a wide variety of tasks, including:

  • Health care rises as top challenge. Respondents find that navigating health insurance expenses is the top challenge of financial caregiving (57 percent).
  • Uncharted territory. An estimated 49 percent of financial caregivers don’t have the legal authorization to perform their role.
  • Guidance and resources lacking. Sixty-six percent of caregivers feel they could benefit from financial advice.

Costs and compensations of caregiving
While some aspects of caregiving may feel like a burden, those surveyed also tell us it is a blessing. Contrary to all we hear about the stress and sacrifices of caregiving, for many caregivers, the role is also often associated with a range of positive experiences and rewards. Caregivers describe a complex, demanding yet often nourishing journey – defined by honor, gratitude, fulfillment, purpose, and strong family bonds.

Costs:

  • Nearly three quarters of respondents say they’ve made numerous sacrifices as a caregiver – whether familial or professional.
  • Fifty-three percent have made financial sacrifices to compensate for caregiving expenses. Thirty percent of caregivers say that they have had to cut back on expenses, and 21 percent have had to dip into personal savings.
  • Two in five caregivers under the age of 64 have made sacrifices at work due to caregiving responsibilities, including reducing their hours (17 percent) and leaving the workforce (16 percent).

Compensations:

  • Caregivers feel rewarded knowing they are doing something good for someone they love – 61 percent say the greatest benefit of providing care is the sense that they have “done the right thing.”
  • Seventy-seven percent say they would gladly take on being a caregiver for a loved one again.
  • Forty percent report a strengthened bond between themselves and the care recipient, and 24 percent say caregiving brought their family closer together.
  • Eighty-six percent say watching their loved one’s health struggle was a motivator that caused them to place more value on taking care of their own health.

“Caregiving is one of today’s most complex life stages, throughout which hard work, high stress and heavy obligations intertwine with honor, meaning and resilience,” said Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., CEO and founder of Age Wave. “This experience becomes even more emotionally complex and financially challenging when caring for loved ones suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. Even with that added burden, this study reveals that 65 percent say that being a caregiver brought purpose and meaning to their life.”

The crucial role of employers
Employers can play an integral role in supporting caregiving employees during this demanding life stage. While 84 percent of employers say caregiving will become an increasingly important issue in the next five years, only 18 percent strongly agree that their workplace is currently “caregiving-friendly”– underscoring the need for new approaches and solutions across the workforce.

“Meaningful, well-designed employer benefits can make a crucial difference in helping caregivers navigate the high stress of caring for a loved one and help them balance these responsibilities with the rest of their working and financial lives. Just as child care has been an issue in the past that led to revolutionizing HR benefits, the aging of the population means we need to consider how caregiving is becoming an increasingly important issue for employers and employees,” said Kevin Crain, head of Workplace Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “These should include resources and programs focused on addressing caregiving complexities and employee networks that facilitate support from experts and peers.”

According to Crain, “Bank of America Corporation is committed to meeting the needs of caregivers in today’s transforming world. Companywide initiatives dedicated to addressing the needs of our country’s aging population and those of their caregivers include combatting elder financial fraud, increased awareness of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, and implementing caregiving best practices through training and resources for its financial advisors and corporate clients. The company supports our employees who are caregivers through a variety of resources including access to emergency back-up care for adults and children, professional elder care assessments, elder care law services, and an internal Parents and Caregivers employee network.”

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