Raffa Blog
Raffa Blog
Raffa Blog

News & Resources the do more blog​​

  • 10/17/2017 The IMF, the Fed’s September Meeting, Social Security Payments, and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through October 14th US stocks ended the week higher and hit records during the week on a positive outlook for third quarter earnings. The S&P 500 gained 0.2% and the Dow rose 0.4% for the week. Abroad, Japan surged 2.2% and Europe climbed 0.5% for the week. The yield […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through October 14th

    US stocks ended the week higher and hit records during the week on a positive outlook for third quarter earnings. The S&P 500 gained 0.2% and the Dow rose 0.4% for the week. Abroad, Japan surged 2.2% and Europe climbed 0.5% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond eased over the week ending at 2.28%.

    The IMF raised its estimate of international growth to 3.6% this year and 3.7% in 2018. imf

    Minutes from the Fed’s September meeting showed most officials agreed they would raise interest rates one more time this year, but weak inflation remained a concern.

    Social Security payments will rise by 2% starting in late December for the largest increase in six years. However, the rising costs of healthcare likely offset much of the increase.

    Banks began reporting earnings with JP Morgan, BofA and Citigroup topping expectations, while Wells Fargo disappointed.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of fortune.com

  • 10/10/2017 Gains, Jobs Report, and Updates

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through October 7th US stocks posted their fourth straight week of gains on generally solid economic news. The S&P 500 gained 1.2% and the Dow climbed 1.6% for the week. Internationally, Japan rose 1.4% and Europe edged up 0.3% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through October 7th

    US stocks posted their fourth straight week of gains on generally solid economic news. The S&P 500 gained 1.2% and the Dow climbed 1.6% for the week. Internationally, Japan rose 1.4% and Europe edged up 0.3% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury ticked up for the week ending at 2.37%.

    The September jobs report surprised to the downside with a loss of 33,000 jobs, the first decline in seven years. In addition, August and July were revised and resulted in a decline of 38,000 jobs. On the positive side the unemployment rate fell to 4.2% its lowest level since early 2001 while the labor force participation rate expanded 0.2% to 63.1%. Wage growth also jumped to 2.9%a breakout from the recent increases seen in recent months. However, all of the data was likely impacted significantly by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

    Manufacturing activity reached a 13 year high in September, well outpacing economists’ expectations.cars

    Auto sales hit their fastest pace of 2017 in September, climbing 6.1%, driven by replacing storm damaged vehicles.

    Berkshire Hathaway purchased approximately 40% of Pilot and Flying J truck stops in a bet on us economic growth.

    Yahoo’s hacking scandal was worse than originally let on with all 3 billion accounts with the firm impacted.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of forbes.com

  • 10/5/2017 Angela Merkel, US GDP, and Other News

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 30th US stocks had another positive week ending the quarter at record highs on optimism about tax reform. The S&P rose 0.7% and the Dow gained 0.2% for the week. Internationally, Japan edged up 0.2% and Europe increased 1.3% for the week. The yield on the 10 […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 30th

    US stocks had another positive week ending the quarter at record highs on optimism about tax reform. The S&P rose 0.7% and the Dow gained 0.2% for the week. Internationally, Japan edged up 0.2% and Europe increased 1.3% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury ended the month at 2.33% its highest level since late July.

    angelaAngela Merkel won a 4th term as chancellor of Germany however a surge from the right reduced her level of support.

    Fed chairwomen Yellen defended the Feds expectations to gradually raise rates despite recent weak inflation.

    US GDP rose 3.1% in the second quarter in the final revision, up from the previous estimate of 3.0%. It was the best quarter for growth in two years.

    Businesses and households were more upbeat in September about their prospects then at any time in the past decade.

    The German unemployment rate fell to a record low.

    Equifax announced the CEO was resigning in the firm’s latest response to the massive hack of the credit-reporting firm.

    Government officials decided to remove federal oversight over insurer AIG after the firm had been monitored since the financial crisis.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of reuters.com

  • 9/28/2017 Ep. 20 – How Boards Prepare for and Manage Executive Transition

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, executive transition is discussed in depth. To explore more deeply how board leaders are preparing for the inevitability of executive transition, this podcast features a discussion between Tom Adams and two board leaders who recently led their organization through an executive transition. Jean Hochron served as […]

    PodcastCoverArtIn this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, executive transition is discussed in depth. To explore more deeply how board leaders are preparing for the inevitability of executive transition, this podcast features a discussion between Tom Adams and two board leaders who recently led their organization through an executive transition. Jean Hochron served as the Search Committee Chair when the National Health Care for the Homeless Council completed its transition and search last year. Jean had also served as Board Chair. Jim Hastings is the current Board Chair for the Literacy Council of Montgomery County. As Chair, Jim served on the Transition and Search Committee during two executive transitions over the past four years.

    Executive transitions are inevitable. Sometimes they are expected; sometimes not. Regardless of the circumstances, boards are asked to step up and lead in very unique and important ways when an executive transition occurs. Sometimes glibly, we say the board’s most important duty (or high up there) is to hire the executive. There is more to the story. What this really means is the board is responsible for ensuring great leadership for the organization over time.

    Ensuring great leadership means more than placing an ad, doing some interviews and hiring an executive. Boards tend to err in one of two extremes when faced with executive transition – either panic and act like the sky is falling because the beloved executive is leaving, or nonchalantly go about quickly picking a successor like this is just any ordinary hire. It is not an ordinary hire or process.

    TIPS FOR BOARD LEADERS

    Based on the experience of Jean and Jim as board leaders of a transition and search and on Raffa’s extensive experience working with boards, here are six tips for board leaders who want to be ready when executive transition happens:

    1. Start early and revisit annually – The National Health Care for the Homeless Council transition was of a long-tenured founder of the organization. The board and executive were in discussions about his plans many years before the transition occurred. Jean Hochron commented on how important it was that 3 years before the transition they had taken the time to develop a written succession policy which detailed who would be on the Transition and Search Committee, how staff would be involved, and who made what decisions. In addition, the executive and managers developed back-up plans and looked at what actions were needed to make the organization ready for the transition. Once you have a succession policy and emergency plans, revisit them and your organizational sustainability annually.

    2.Pay attention to the culture and guiding principles of the organization – For the Literacy Council, the Board and the interim executive recognized a need to move from an informal way of operating that worked for their previous executive to more defined operating procedures. Through the transition – from a long-tenured executive, to an internally promoted executive, to an interim executive, to the newly hired current executive – the Literacy Council has intentionally made much progress in shifting their culture. Over the years, the Health Care for the Homeless Council had developed a strong commitment to consensus decision making. It was important to honor this culture in how the new executive was selected and in establishing expectations for the new executive.

    3.Consider hiring an Interim Executive – The Literacy Council had an internal interim while the Board led its own search for the first successor. Unfortunately, the Board decided not to make an offer to any of the three finalists. Meanwhile, the internal interim had proven her ability, was approached, and agreed to take the position. After two years she received a great offer at another organization and left. A colleague suggested to Jim Hastings that they consider an interim executive and told him about a network of Interim Executives serving the Washington DC region. Jim explained: “Our interim was exactly what we needed. She built on the work of our departing executive and rapidly advanced our processes and systems. We were a stronger and more attractive organization to candidates as a result. And the cost was not significantly more than our normal executive salary. Prior to this experience, I did not know this service existed and I highly recommend it to boards with that need.”

    4.Consider retaining consulting assistance – Both the Literacy Council and the Health Care for the Homeless Council decided to hire a consulting firm to assist with the transition and search. For the Literacy Council, Hastings explains: “We spent hundreds of hours of volunteer time trying to do this ourselves the first time and were unsuccessful. Having an external consultant both to be a thought partner and to do the leg work of finding the candidates we needed was worth the cost.” Hochron added: “We are a national membership organization and operate primarily via conference call and email, which made the search process somewhat complicated.  I was preparing for my own retirement and stepped forward to chair the Search Committee.  But I had neither the time nor skills to manage all of the details of a national search.  Having a consultant who knew and understood the process and who supported our culture was critical and a wise use of our resources.”  The National Council tapped its reserves to pay for costs associated with the search.  The Literacy Council was able to secure a grant after it had hired the consultant so it had minimal out of pocket costs.

    5.Engage and communicate often with all stakeholders, especially the staff – Transitions make boards and staff anxious. The staff wonders if the board really understands enough to hire a successor. Some of the board wonders if the Search Committee has too much authority. Being clear about roles, as well as how and when the full Board and staff will be involved, is key to success. For the Health Care for the Homeless Council, Hochron had regularly scheduled calls with the retiring executive and management team to make sure staff were engaged and had real-time information about the status of the search. This investment in communication and engagement is key to both the board and staff having full confidence in the decision.

    6.Invest in onboarding and the first years of a new executive – There are amazing opportunities to move an organization forward under new leadership. This is not a criticism of the past, but rather an acknowledgement of how quickly the environment and the needs of an organization change. A new executive working with an engaged board and staff can facilitate the needed changes without disrupting the secret sauce of what is working. This begins with the board paying attention to how it onboards the new executive and how the board, new executive, and staff intentionally advance their agreed upon change agenda over the first couple years of the executive’s tenure.

    Preparing for executive transition is a key and ongoing role for board leaders. The tips above are intended to help guide investment in that important duty.

    For more information on Raffa’s succession and executive transition services including this and other podcasts, a just-published case study on internal succession in Nonprofit Quarterly, click here. For more on these and related topics, read The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide by Tom Adams available on Amazon.com. To hear this and other Raffa podcasts, click here.

     

     

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  • 9/25/2017 Bonds, Debt, Bankruptcy and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 23rd US Stocks edged up over the week led by bank stocks who reacted positively to the potential for another Fed rate increase this year. The S&P 500 rose 0.1% and the Dow gained 0.4% for the week. Internationally, Europe climbed 0.7% and Japan jumped 2.0% for […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 23rd

    US Stocks edged up over the week led by bank stocks who reacted positively to the potential for another Fed rate increase this year. The S&P 500 rose 0.1% and the Dow gained 0.4% for the week. Internationally, Europe climbed 0.7% and Japan jumped 2.0% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury rose again for the week finishing at 2.26%.

    At the conclusion of its September meeting the Fed announced it would begin shrinking its balance sheet in October by letting bonds mature and not reinvesting the proceeds. It will let $10 billion in bonds it holds mature each month increasing the amount by $10 billion every quarter until it reaches $50 billion. It also signaled that another rate hike this year was on the table.

    Housing starts fell 0.8% in August driven by a large decline in multifamily housing.

    S&P dropped China’s credit rating to A+ from AA- due to high debt levels. The move now matches the two other credit rating agencies

    Northrop Grumman agreed to purchase Orbital ATK, for $7.8 billion in a bid to toysrus.JPGstrengthen its space focused defense capabilities.

    Toys ‘R’ Us filed for bankruptcy.

    HP Enterprise plans to cut 10% of its workforce.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of nytimes.com

  • 9/22/2017 International and US Stocks, Household Income, Apple and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 16th US stocks had one of their best weeks of the year, hitting record highs, with Hurricane Irma not as bad as feared. The S&P 500 rose 1.6% and the Dow jumped 2.2% for the week. Internationally, Japan soared 3.3% and Europe rose 1.4% for the week. […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 16th

    US stocks had one of their best weeks of the year, hitting record highs, with Hurricane Irma not as bad as feared. The S&P 500 rose 1.6% and the Dow jumped 2.2% for the week. Internationally, Japan soared 3.3% and Europe rose 1.4% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury rose over the week to finish at 2.20% up from 2.06% from the previous week.

    Median US household income hit the highest inflation adjusted level ever last year, and is up 3.2% from a year before.

    The CPI-U rose 0.4% in August, the largest increase since January, topping expectations. Core prices rose 0.2%. For the trailing year prices have risen 1.9%.

    The Bank of England announced that they are likely to increase interest rates from their current record low of 0.25% over the coming months. Inflation readings have been higher than expected. apple

    Apple released three new phones including the iPhone X which will retail for $1,000.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of forbes.com

  • 9/11/2017 Suspending Borrowing Limits, The ECB, and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 9th US stocks eased over the week on concerns over Hurricane Irma and North Korea tensions. The S&P 500 declined 0.6% and the Dow fell 0.9%, for the week. Abroad, Europe eased 0.2% and Japan sank 2.1%, for the week. Investors flocked to safe havens over the […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 9th

    US stocks eased over the week on concerns over Hurricane Irma and North Korea tensions. The S&P 500 declined 0.6% and the Dow fell 0.9%, for the week. Abroad, Europe eased 0.2% and Japan sank 2.1%, for the week. Investors flocked to safe havens over the week with the 10 year Treasury ending the week at 2.06% its lowest level since November.  trump and schumer

    President Trump and Democrats came to an agreement on Hurricane Harvey aid and to suspend borrowing limits for three months. The deal averts a potential government default that would have occurred without an agreement at the end of the month.

    The ECB will likely announce plans to begin to reduce their bond buying program at their meeting next month. They also upgraded their growth forecast for the region.

    Lily plans to cut 8% of its workforce.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of nytimes.com

  • 9/6/2017 Hurricane Harvey, Jobs Report, Inflation, and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 2nd US stocks rose on a news heavy week driven by positive economic and corporate news and despite Hurricane Harvey and tensions with North Korea. The S&P 500 rose 1.4% and the Dow gained 0.8% for the week. The Nasdaq had its best week of the year […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through September 2nd

    US stocks rose on a news heavy week driven by positive economic and corporate news and despite Hurricane Harvey and tensions with North Korea. The S&P 500 rose 1.4% and the Dow gained 0.8% for the week. The Nasdaq had its best week of the year gaining 2.7%. Internationally, Europe gained 0.6% and Japan increased 1.2% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond was flat ending the week at 2.16%. Gas prices jumped 13% over the week, the largest surge in over 5 years, as a result of Harvey. Gold also jumped gaining 2.5% over the week to finish at $1,324.50 an ounce.

    The August jobs report missed expectations with 156,000 jobs added and the unemployment rate ticking up to 4.4%. June and July were revised down by 41,000 positions. Wage rates have not accelerated with earnings up 2.5% from a year ago.

    US auto sales fell 1.9% in August. The sales pace for the year is down from last year and below analysts’ expectations.

    Hurricane Harvey has severely crippled Texas’ oil output with taking offline roughly 30% of US refining capacity.

    US 2nd quarter GDP was revised up to 3.0%. It’s the highest growth rate in over two years.

    Inflation grew 0.1% in July from a month earlier and is up 1.4% over the past year, well below the Fed’s 2% target level.

    In July US personal spending rose at its fastest pace since April and personal income posted its biggest jump since February. uber

    Uber chose Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to be its new CEO.

    Gilead Sciences purchased Kite Pharma, a specialist in a new type of cancer therapy, for $11 billion.

    United Technologies agreed to buy aircraft equipment manufacturer Rockwell Collins for over $20 billion.

    Wells Fargo revealed that its sales practice scandal covered many more accounts than previously believed, increasing the total to 3.5 million accounts from the 2.1 million previously estimated.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of nytimes.com

  • 8/30/2017 Ep. 19 – Cloud Security: Extending Beyond 4 Walls

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Nate Solloway, Systems Engineer/Outsourced IT Manager at Raffa and Martin Nash, Senior Vice President and Director of Information Security at EagleBank, discuss cyber security in the cloud from multiple perspectives. These include (but are not limited to) the cloud’s definition, its positive components, as well as […]

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Nate Solloway, Systems Engineer/Outsourced IT Manager at Raffa and Martin Nash, Senior Vice President and Director of Information Security at EagleBank, discuss cyber security in the cloud from multiple perspectives. These include (but are not limited to) the cloud’s definition, its positive components, as well as potential risks it poses.

    podcast image with logo

    Nate Solloway and Martin Nash

    Solloway and Nash agree early on that the general understanding of the cloud is that “it is out there” somewhere and usually has an affiliation with the internet. However, no one can seem to agree on a singular definition. While this might be the case, our hosts indicate that more and more of the population is beginning to gain a general understanding of the cloud. It is recommended to sit down with your organization, agree upon how the cloud can help, and then to move forward with this in mind.

    Oftentimes an organization will use a provider to store information through cloud security. In this case, an organization must consider how much they trust this provider and do their due diligence to identify if this provider is reliable.

    Data breaches are discussed within this episode as well, and Solloway and Nash discuss how they can change as a result of cloud services. The hosts recognize that “everyone should have a data breach plan.”

    As the episode continues, vulnerabilities such as passwords and ransomware are discussed. The hosts identify potential ways to avoid conflict and to look out for suspicious behavior. Nash uses an interesting analogy relating to theft in houses in order to relate cyber threats to more commonly known ones.

    Finally, a large theme is presented throughout: while the cloud offers immense support, organizations should be aware of risks from players looking to gain information from weak targets who pose as the easiest opportunity.

    Want to hear more? Join Nate Solloway and Martin Nash for a complimentary seminar on October 5th, 2017 in Washington, DC entitled “Mitigating Cybersecurity and Cyber Fraud Risk in Your Organization.” Click here to register.

    Questions about anything mentioned in this podcast? Contact Nate Solloway at nsolloway@raffa.com.

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  • 8/29/2017 How Can A CIO Impact Your Organization?

    By Marisa Mancini, Raffa Technology Technology is always changing, always evolving. But many organizations struggle to keep up, preferring to use outdated systems that do not fully serve their needs. Information Technology (IT) staff are often hesitant to venture beyond the familiar and find themselves unable or unwilling to explore the always-expanding world of technology […]

    By Marisa Mancini, Raffa Technology

    Technology is always changing, always evolving. But many organizations struggle to keep up, preferring to use outdated systems that do not fully serve their needs. Information Technology (IT) staff are often hesitant to venture beyond the familiar and find themselves unable or unwilling to explore the always-expanding world of technology for solutions that more effectively and efficiently meet the organization’s driving mission. Do not let your organization get stuck in the past – a CIO may be able to help!

    A Chief Information Officer (CIO) is an executive in charge of Information Technology (IT) strategy and computer systems, who will ensure that your business is using the best technology available to support your unique objectives. When you bring a CIO onto your executive team, you bring invaluable expertise to the table, vital to maximizing your organization’s success. This expertise includes understanding of legal obligations surrounding your organization’s collection of data, cybersecurity threats and disaster recovery, and cost-benefit analyses of your organization’s software systems. A CIO knows the technology market, and will use this knowledge to establish strategic partnerships with the right service providers.

    Your CIO is an expert in your organization’s IT systems and staff, able to establish service frameworks, set security policies, and manage your IT team. But he/she is also a business manager, proficient in project management, budget management, and customer engagement analysis. This means that your CIO acts as a bridge between your Executive Team and IT staff, while connecting the dots between Business Objectives and Technology Systems. Without a CIO, your organization’s executives are left in the dark when it comes to their IT staff: unaware of what IT does, what IT should be doing, and what IT is capable of doing. The result is a disconnect between IT personnel and executive leadership, leaving your organization operating below full capacity, stuck using software that does not match your business objectives and perhaps unaware of what technological alternatives are available.

    As technology evolves and grows, the role of a CIO naturally expands and shifts. Join the Raffa Technology department for our next seminar, “The Changing Role of Today’s CIO,” on September 6th, 2017 where we discuss this ever-changing role, and give you the information you need to get the most out of your CIO, your IT staff, and your technology systems. Kerry Mickelson, Raffa’s CIO for Hire, will share his experiences as a CIO for various organizations and speak about the various jobs a CIO can do for your organization and the world of technology that a CIO can introduce you to. You will also learn about the many ways Raffa can help you with your CIO needs, including our CIO for Hire program.

    We look forward to speaking with you, and working with you to ensure your organization’s success!

  • 8/28/2017 US Stocks, Home Sales, Unemployment, and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 26th US stocks rose for the first time in three weeks on advances across a board swath of sectors. The S&P 500 gained 0.7% and the Dow rose 0.6% for the week. Internationally, Europe was flat and Japan posted its sixth straight weekly decline edging down 0.1%. […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 26th

    US stocks rose for the first time in three weeks on advances across a board swath of sectors. The S&P 500 gained 0.7% and the Dow rose 0.6% for the week. Internationally, Europe was flat and Japan posted its sixth straight weekly decline edging down 0.1%. The yield on the 10 year Treasury ended the week at 2.17% down slightly from the previous week.

    New home sales plunged 9.4% in July as a lack of inventory has come on the market.

    Unemployment has fallen to an 8 year low of 9.1% in the Eurozone.

    Japan’s economy grew by 4% in the second quarter.

    In speeches at the Jackson Hole economic Symposium Fed Chair Janet Yellen and ECB president Draghi offered few clues on the future moves by their central banks but gave a strong defense for the regulations put in place to ensure increased financial market stability and condemned protectionist trade policies.

    Sempra reached a deal to buy power transition company Oncor for $9.45 billion outbidding Berkshire.nytimes

    Total agreed to buy Maersk’s oil group for $5 billion.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of nytimes.com

  • 8/22/2017 US Stocks, Earnings, Retail, and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 19th US stocks ended the week down on political turmoil, weak corporate earnings and terrorist attacks. The S&P 500 was down 0.7% and Dow fell 0.8% for the week. Abroad, Europe rose 0.6% and Japan sank 1.3% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 19th

    US stocks ended the week down on political turmoil, weak corporate earnings and terrorist attacks. The S&P 500 was down 0.7% and Dow fell 0.8% for the week. Abroad, Europe rose 0.6% and Japan sank 1.3% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury was flat for the week ending at 2.20%.  

    Weak earnings from retailers and declines in energy prices drove both sectors down and both were primary drivers in the decline in US Stocks for the week.

    The pace of growth slowed in China in July as industrial output, retail and housing sales and fixed asset investment all ticked down from June and were lower than forecast.

    US retail sales rose 0.6% in July, more than expected, and June’s rate was revised higher, but debt levels have increased and savings rates have fallen.

    Minutes from the Fed’s July meeting showed that concerns over weak inflation is rwm 822bringing reservations about the timing of the next interest rate increase. They originally expected to make another interest rate increase later this year. However, they were in agreement about beginning to unwind their balance sheet, perhaps as soon as September.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of businessinsider.com

  • 8/15/2017 Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace Matters

    By John-Anthony Meza, Senior Director Human Resources & Office Employees who come from a wide variety of backgrounds help us serve our clients better.

    By John-Anthony Meza, Senior Director Human Resources & Office

    Employees who come from a wide variety of backgrounds help us serve our clients better.

    An organization’s success and competitiveness depends upon its ability to embrace diversity and realize those benefits in the workplace. In a recent article in HR Executive Online that 150 global CEOs from some of the world’s leading companies signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion initiative, pledging to take action. I found this interesting, that we at Raffa, P.C. have always striven to provide an inclusive environment that attracts and retains a values-and purpose-driven diverse workforce from our founding over 30 years ago. We feel what makes us different is what brings us together, enhancing our respect and appreciation for each other and allowing us to provide even better service to our clients. A short time ago I spoke on just this point at the B Corp Impact of Diversity, Inclusion & Equity in the Workplace event.

    Unlike my background in other firms where we had to build committees, resource groups, or other entities to allow individuals from underrepresented groups to move up through our ranks – it has always been part of Raffa’s DNA.

    • Raffa is the 16th largest women-owned company in the Washington D.C. metro area (Washington Business Journal)
    • The only top 100 nationally-ranked, woman-owned CPA and advisory firm.
    • Over 60% of partners are women with over 30% of partners being people of color, LGBT, or non-US born.
    • Over 70% of partners, managers and employees are women, people of color, LGBT, disabled, or non-US born.

    Here at Raffa, we understand that this is not enough. We want our people to thrive and be happy in their careers. Our mission is to do more and work toward a world that is more just, caring and sustainable through social impact, partnership, and diversity. We will continue to build relationships to encourage individuals from all groups to grow and become leaders in our firm and in our community. These are organic outgrowths of the firm’s culture vs. a top down approach.

    We launched a mentoring program with Vital Voices to empower women leading change around the globe. Our young women employees join programs like the annual speed-mentoring event hosted by Washington Business Journal & BizWomen. We are involved with NABA and ALPFA, the African American and Hispanic/Latino accounting associations. We had a Pride committee that planned our participation in our local Pride event this year – with a strong support from the firm and a focus on our allies including our founder Tom Raffa. In addition to these recent initiatives, a recent group is now meeting to find their purpose at work through their faith.

    Our partners have always thought these efforts made good business sense. With so many of our clients being non-profits, associations and socially conscious businesses, a recent report on associations and diversity pointed to why we work with the types of select clients that we do. Employees from diverse backgrounds bring individual talents and experiences that can be adapted to our client needs and allows Raffa to better provide service to them at different points in their organizational life. Together, our diversity allows us to achieve our goal of being the most helpful and caring professional services partner in the world. #HR #diversity #WorkLifeWins #DoMore

  • 8/14/2017 US Stocks, Worker Productivity, US Inflation, and Worldpay

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 12th US stocks posted their worst week since May on weak earnings from retailers and North Korea tensions. The S&P 500 fell 1.4% and the Dow dropped 1.1% for the week. Abroad, Japan eased 1.1% and Europe sank 2.7% for the week. The yield on the 10 […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 12th

    US stocks posted their worst week since May on weak earnings from retailers and North Korea tensions. The S&P 500 fell 1.4% and the Dow dropped 1.1% for the week. Abroad, Japan eased 1.1% and Europe sank 2.7% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury fell as investors moved to safe havens ending the week at 2.19%, its lowest level since June. The VIX hit the highest level of the year during the week.

    Worker productivity picked up in the second quarter rising 0.9% up from 0.1% in the first quarter. However, the pace remains well below the level required to see GDP growth accelerate.

    US inflation continued to be subdued in July. The CPI rose 0.1% from the prior month and is up 1.7% over the trailing year, below the Fed’s target.

    Vantiv agreed to buy Worldpay for $10.4 billion in a tie up of payment processing giants.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of cnbc.com

  • 8/7/2017 US Stocks, Jobs Report, Auto Sales, and Additional Information

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 5th US stocks rose higher over the week on corporate earnings and another solid jobs report. The S&P 500 gained 0.2% and the Dow gained 1.2% and ended the week at a fresh all-time high. It also surged past the 22,000 level. Internationally, Europe % and Japan […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through August 5th

    US stocks rose higher over the week on corporate earnings and another solid jobs report. The S&P 500 gained 0.2% and the Dow gained 1.2% and ended the week at a fresh all-time high. It also surged past the 22,000 level. Internationally, Europe % and Japan % for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond ended the week at 2.27%, down slightly from the previous week. 

    The July jobs report topped estimates by showing 209,000 new hires and the unemployment rate fell to 4.3%, a 16 year low. It was the 82nd straight month of job creation. Average hourly earnings continued to increase at 2.5%.

    The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation was flat in June and is up 1.4% from the prior year, far below its 2% target and down from 2.2% in February.

    Auto sales dropped significantly in July.

    Eurozone inflation rose 1.2% in July slightly faster than expected.

    Eurozone growth rose at a 2.3% pace in the second quarter and has outpaced the US over the past 18 months. Unemployment has steadily declined over the first half of the year as well.

    Discovery agreed to buy Scripps Networks for $11.9 billion.

    Of the 58% of firms in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings 72% topped analyst estimates.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of reuters.com

  • 7/31/2017 US stocks, Fed’s bond holdings, Jimmy Choo, and More

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 29th US stocks edged down over the week on weakness from tech companies. The S&P 500 ticked down 0.1%, while the Dow, driven by a few firms reporting earnings, gained 1.2% for the week. Internationally, Europe fell 0.5% and Japan dropped 0.7% for the week. Oil surged […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 29th

    US stocks edged down over the week on weakness from tech companies. The S&P 500 ticked down 0.1%, while the Dow, driven by a few firms reporting earnings, gained 1.2% for the week. Internationally, Europe fell 0.5% and Japan dropped 0.7% for the week. Oil surged over the week over concern of supply disruptions from Venezuela. Oil rose 8.6% to $49.71 a barrel. The yield on the 10 year Treasury ended the week at 2.29%, up from the previous week.

    The Fed announced after its July meeting that it would begin reducing its balance sheet of bond holdings “relatively soon.” Investors believe this could mean the September meeting. The Fed Funds rate remained in the 1% to 1.25% range.

    US GDP rose 2.6% in the second quarter as the country entered its ninth year of economic expansion.  jimmy choo

    Michael Kors agreed to buy Jimmy Choo for $1.2 billion.

    Foxconn announced it would build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that would lead to 3,000 jobs.

    With over half of companies in the S&P 500 reporting earnings, they are on track to grow 9.1% from a year earlier.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of nytimes.com

  • 7/27/2017 Ep. 18 – Effective Leadership: How to Achieve and Maintain It

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Managing Director of Raffa’s Search, Transition and Planning Department, Karen Schuler speaks again with CEO of Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, Tony Cancelosi about leadership effectiveness and what it takes to achieve it.

    In this episode of the Lead. Learn. Thrive. Podcast, Managing Director of Raffa’s Search, Transition and Planning Department, Karen Schuler speaks again with CEO of Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, Tony Cancelosi about leadership effectiveness and what it takes to achieve it.

    Karen Schuler and Tony Cancelosi

    Cancelosi indicates a number of key aspects that have proven to make a successful leader. He identifies that leaders must recognize the “things you have to fix” within an organization from an early stage in one’s leadership role.

    A common misconception that CEOs tend to make is that one must make all changes at the same time. Through a profound analogy to Lego toys, Cancelosi indicates that it is necessary to analyze and build, rather than to change everything in one go-around.

    Image and reputation building is also addressed within this episode. Cancelosi notes that internal infrastructure is imperative to growth as well as effective communication with all staff members. Overall commitment to the organization is essential.

    For further questions or concerns, please email ecrowley@raffa.com.

    Want more from Karen and Tony? Catch up on their previous podacsts, “Sustaining Mission Impact: How Do Great Organizations Stay Great?” and “So, What Makes Great Organizations “Great” Anyway?”.

    Listen Now

  • 7/25/2017 Stocks Break Records, Firms Post Strong Earnings, and Financial News

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 22nd US stocks reached new record highs during the week on strong corporate earnings. The S&P 500 rose 0.5%, but the Dow eased 0.3% for the week. Internationally, Europe sank 1.7% and Japan ticked down 0.1% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury fell […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 22nd

    US stocks reached new record highs during the week on strong corporate earnings. The S&P 500 rose 0.5%, but the Dow eased 0.3% for the week. Internationally, Europe sank 1.7% and Japan ticked down 0.1% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury fell to 2.23% posting its largest two week decline since March.

    nasdaqJapan’s central bank pushed back its estimate on when it will reach 2% inflation and kept its current policy on hold.

    The ECB delayed discussion on whether it should wind down its bod buying program over weakening global inflation.

    Firms posting strong earnings include Netflix, United, Johnson and Johnson, UnitedHealth, American Express and Microsoft. All six of the biggest US banks topped expectations.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of fortune.com

     

  • 7/13/2017 Recent Oil Prices, Unemployment, and Acquisitions

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 8th US stocks edged up over the week aided by bank stocks. The S&P 500 ticked up just under 0.1% and the Dow gained 0.3% for the week. Internationally, Europe rose 0.2%, while Japan was down 0.5% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 8th

    US stocks edged up over the week aided by bank stocks. The S&P 500 ticked up just under 0.1% and the Dow gained 0.3% for the week. Internationally, Europe rose 0.2%, while Japan was down 0.5% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury bond continued its recent rise ending the week at 2.39%. Oil prices sagged with a barrel ending the week at $44.23 down 3.9% on the week.

    US employers added 222,000 workers in June well ahead of expectations. The unemployment rate rose to 4.4% as more people entered the workforce. Average hourly earnings rose 2.5% in June much lower than historical levels. In addition, April and May were revised higher.

    US auto sales fell 2% over the first half of the year and 3% in June.

    At the Fed’s June meeting they began planning for reducing their balance sheet and the debate moved to when that process would begin. September was considered likely.

    QVC and the Home Shopping Network are merging in a $2.1 billion deal.

    Berkshire Hathaway is buying Energy Future Holdings, one of the largest power transmission companies in the US, for $9 billion.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of nytimes.com

  • 7/7/2017 Durable Goods Orders Fell in May for 2nd Straight Month

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 1st US stocks ended the first half of the year on a down note as stocks declined on hawkish comments from global central bankers. The S&P 500 fell 0.6% and the Dow ticked down 0.2% for the week. Abroad, Japan sank 0.5% and Europe dropped 2.1% for […]

    Financial News and Portfolio Management Discussion through July 1st

    US stocks ended the first half of the year on a down note as stocks declined on hawkish comments from global central bankers. The S&P 500 fell 0.6% and the Dow ticked down 0.2% for the week. Abroad, Japan sank 0.5% and Europe dropped 2.1% for the week. The yield on the 10 year Treasury rose over the week to 2.30% posting its largest weekly yield increase since March. Oil prices recovered to a degree rising 7% to finish at $46.04 a barrel.

    ECB president Draghi alluded to the ECB cutting back its stimulus in response to improving growth in Europe.  On the news the euro surged 1.4%, its largest one day gain against the dollar and Eurozone bonds fell.

    The chiefs of the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada said they would be pairing back stimulus in the future.

    Italy said it was prepared to spend as much as $19 billion to shut down two regional banks.

    Durable goods orders fell in May for the second straight monthly declining 1.1%, more than expected. However for the year to date orders have gained over 2016.

    National US banks all passed the Fed stress tests and their capital plans were approved by the Fed. As a result, big banks will increase share repurchases and dividend payouts to their highest levels in years.

    The US grew at a 1.4% rate in the first quarter, in the final revision to GDP growth.

    Economic confidence in the Eurozone reached its highest level since 2007.

    Inflation eased for the third consecutive month in May to 1.4% from a year earlier. It’s the lowest level in six months and well below the fed’s target of 2%.

    The EU gave Google a record fine of $2.7 billion saying the search engine favored its own online shopping service over others.

    Office supply store Staples was bought by private equity fund Sycamore for $6.9 billion.

    Reposted from the Raffa Wealth Management Blog.

    All the news you need to stay informed about what’s currently driving the market – courtesy of Raffa Wealth Management, LLC.

    Image courtesy of nytimes.com