Book Review: Wall Street Smarts: A Guide to Finding Your Inner Investor

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wall-street-smarts-miles-goodwinWall Street Smarts: A Guide to Finding Your Inner Investor, by Miles Goodwin, is masterful compilation of the best investment advice for the average person. The book does the seemingly impossible by pulling together the best investment advice from the best books out there. Mr. Goodwin has done the hard work so you don’t have to. He has taken decades of investment research and experience (as an average person just trying to manage his own money) and extracted the most relevant advice from some of the most knowledgeable authors. Added to this material is a wealth of information he has accumulated over the years.

Where does the average person begin when trying to learn about investments? There are lots of great articles and books out there, but how do you figure out which ones are relevant and accurate? And how do you find the time to read all of them? Simply put, most people can’t. And that’s why Wall Street Smarts is an invaluable tool for anyone who wants more control over their savings and investments. Continue reading

Book Review: Financial Advice for Blue Collar America

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financial-advice-for-blue-collar-americaI recently had an opportunity to read Financial Advice for Blue Collar America by Kathryn B. Hauer. The book is positioned as a practical guide for the average American who needs to get straight to the important topics, and the it definitely delivers on that promise.

The book starts out with the premise that being a blue collar worker actually CAN offer you an opportunity to gather wealth. Blue collar as used in this book means a job which doesn’t require a college degree, but requires a certain level of skill and training. This includes trades like carpenters, truck drivers, auto technicians, police, and skilled manufacturing workers. A sampling of current annual earnings for these jobs ranges from $40,000 to $82,000, which might be surprising to some.

Early on we learn about basic financial concepts such as net worth and cash flow, which are explained well. Also included are information on debt, budgets, saving, investing, the many types of insurance, taxes, and wills. These topics are covered briefly, but there is enough information for it to be valuable. Continue reading

Fraud Investigation For Small Firms: Selling the Services, Managing the Staff

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Firms of all sizes are interested in expanding their practices to include forensic accounting and fraud investigation. Experts agree: This practice area is growing and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

Yet adding forensic accounting to a firm’s portfolio of services might not be as easy as it sounds. While traditional audit staff might have a good foundational knowledge to branch out into fraud investigation, offering reliable service to clients in this area takes a little more work.

Focusing Services
While the decision to provide forensic accounting services may seem simple, the next step is deciding specifically which services to provide. There are many types of matters that may fall under the forensic accounting umbrella, and it is important to develop an appropriate focus.

A firm’s services could be geared toward a variety of fraud-related matters, including corporate embezzlement, financial statement fraud, and insurance claims fraud. The business could alternately be focused on litigation matters like contract disputes, shareholder lawsuits, business valuation, and bankruptcy consulting. There are many more types of cases that could fall under one or both of these headings, so it’s clear that there are a great deal of choices to be made. Continue reading

Collision of Expert Witnesses, Social Media

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Ask a random group of attorneys what they think of social media, and you’ll get some funny looks. Several of them will turn up their noses, while an equal number will have only a vague idea of what you’re talking about. Although more attorneys are participating in social media, there is still a good bit of reluctance to get involved.

The phenomenon called social media is simply a category of online resources used by people to communicate with one another, research topics of interest, stay on top of current events, and market their businesses. It includes blogs, which may be used by professionals to write about news affecting their industries, promote their businesses and expertise, and engage in dialogue with others in far away places.

Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are considered to be more pure social media than blogs. A blog can be created and maintained without interaction with other people, if that’s what the writer chooses. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites require interaction with others to make them worthwhile. On these sites, you will “connect” with people you know or are interested in, and you’ll be able to see updates they post about themselves and their companies, articles they’ve written, and articles they find interesting. You will be able to “like” or comment on their updates, and often engaging discussions follow. Continue reading

Marquette Doubling Down Against Dr. John McAdams

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In November 2014, Marquette University professor of political science Dr. John McAdams criticized the instructor of a philosophy class (graduate student Cheryl Abbate) for allegedly shutting down discussion of a student’s negative opinion of gay marriage. Dr. McAdams wrote:

Abbate explained that “some opinions are not appropriate, such as racist opinions, sexist opinions” and then went on to ask “do you know if anyone in your class is homosexual?” And further “don’t you think it would be offensive to them” if some student raised his hand and challenged gay marriage? The point being, apparently that any gay classmates should not be subjected to hearing any disagreement with their presumed policy views.

Dr. McAdams opined:

Abbate, of course, was just using a tactic typical among liberals now. Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed “offensive” and need to be shut up.

Abbate complained to the university and others, saying that the article written by Dr. McAdams was bullying. She apparently received offensive emails from third parties in reaction to the controversy. Continue reading

Nevada Anti-SLAPP Law Threatened

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In 2013, Nevada enacted an anti-SLAPP law… something all states should have, but only 28 do (and those laws vary in quality). SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” It’s basically the type of lawsuit that is filed in order to get people to shut up.

I am no stranger to such suits. I was sued in this fashion by Medifast Inc. (aka Take Shape for Life) in 2010, and it took over five years for me to be dismissed, have the dismissal affirmed, and have the court order Medifast to pay my attorneys’ fees. The whole point of the Medifast lawsuit was to make me stop saying unflattering things about the company. And to scare anyone else who might dare to say bad things about the company…. the cost of litigation is tremendous, and companies like Medifast use the threat of litigation to shut up their critics. Continue reading

The Case for Anti-SLAPP Legislation

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SLAPPFreedom of speech reigns in the United States. Unless you are criticizing a person or company with the funds to sue you into infinity. Then you could find yourself on the receiving end of an expensive lawsuit that has no aim other than to shut you up. (Case study: Medifast Inc.’s $270 million lawsuit against me and others; I have won and Medifast is now trying to get out of paying the $300k+ of legal fees they are required to pay.)

Attorney Eric Turkewitz writes about his experience with SLAPP suits in New York. (SLAPP = Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) Although the law protects people who write truthful things and/or state their opinions, the legal process of getting a case dismissed is onerous without anti-SLAPP laws. (Even with anti-SLAPP laws, it can still be expensive. Medifast sued in California, where there is good anti-SLAPP legislation, but it still took over $300k in attorneys fees — not counting the hundreds of thousands of dollars the other defendants spent on their attorneys — and over four years of litigation to get the suit against me dismissed.) Continue reading

For Aspiring Forensic Accountants and Fraud Investigators

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forensic-accountingI receive many requests for information on the field of forensic accounting, including questions on courses of study, certification, job opportunities, and preparing for a career. Over four years ago I wrote this article for students and job seekers, and I thought it was a good time to update the information.

The first three bullet points of the article still hold true. If you want to work in the area of fraud investigation and forensic accounting, make sure all of your education and job choices put you on that path. Even if you can’t get started as a forensic accountant right away, make sure you’re doing everything you can to at least get a little bit of experience in the area. The more experience you have, the more attractive a candidate you will be for future jobs. Continue reading

Forensic Accountants and the Private Investigator License

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magnifyprintRecently the AICPA published an article on its Journal of Accountancy website regarding private investigator licensing rules across the country. There is a concern that forensic accountants may be subject to private investigator regulations since they are doing investigative work. The AICPA has drafted a grid outlining the regulations by state, but you should do further research on your own because it does not tell the whole story.

The grid provides the following information on private investigators in Wisconsin: Continue reading