Fast Facts: Financial Executive Economic Outlook Report

The Financial Services Roundtable recently released another iteration of it’s Fast Facts, reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services industry. This series is the The Financial Services Roundtable’s first bi-annual Financial Executive Economic Outlook Report, which shows positive expectations for company profitability and capital reserves, despite an increase in compliance costs.

FACT: In a survey of Roundtable member leadership, ninety percent of financial services executives expect their companies’ profitability to increase (58%) or stay the same (32%) during the next six months.

  • 10% expect their companies’ profitability to decrease.

FACT: Roundtable executives are optimistic about employment: nearly three-quarters of executives expect employment to stay the same (36%) or increase (38%) during the next six months, while one-quarter (26%) expect employment at their firms to decrease.

FACT: Capital reserves are at historic highs, and are expected to continue rising.

  • Nearly all financial services executives expect capital reserves to increase (72%) or stay the same (25%) during the next six months.
  • Banks’ average Tier 1 capital ratio set a new record of 13.25% in the third quarter of 2012, according to FDIC data, and bank capital is at $1.6 trillion – the highest level in history.

FACT: Overwhelmingly, financial services executives expect compliance costs to increase during the next six months.

  • 84% of industry executives expect compliance costs to increase during the next six months; 15% expect compliance costs to stay the same; and only 1.6% expect compliance costs to decrease.

FACT:  Government regulation and fiscal uncertainty are the largest challenges hindering company growth.

  • Top policy issues are split between capital and liquidity rules (30%) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (28%).
Copyright © 2013 The Financial Services Roundtable, All rights reserved.

Fast Facts: Student Loans

The Financial Services Roundtable recently released another iteration of its Fast Facts, reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services industry. Topics span TARP, Dodd-Frank, insurance, lending, retirement savings and more.  Below are some updated Fast Facts on student loans, which are  the largest form of consumer debt outside of home mortgages.

FACT:  More Americans are attending college at a time when college is getting more expensive.

  • Total college enrollment has increased 50% in the last 15 years.
  • College costs are increasing at double the rate of inflation.  Last year, tuition and fees grew 8.3% for in-state students at 4-year public schools, whereas the Consumer Price Index increased 3.6% between July 2010-July 2011.

FACT:  Many students borrow money to pay for a college degree.

FACT:  Student loans are now the largest form of consumer debt outside of home mortgages, eclipsing both auto loans and credit cards, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

FACT:  The vast majority of student loans are federal loans.

FACT: Private student loans often supplement federal borrowing to help families pay for the higher cost college of their choice.

FACT:  Private student loans have a significantly lower default rate than federal student loans.

FACT:  The federal government can recover defaulted student loans through administrative wage garnishment, offsetting federal tax refunds, and even part of Social Security checks.

  • In contrast, private lenders may not use these methods to collect on education loans.  Further, collections on private education loans are subject to statute of limitations; there is no statute of limitation on the collection of defaulted federal loans.

FACT:  Seventy-two percent of college students who graduated between 2006 and 2011 report that they have paid off one-quarter or more of their college loans, according to the Center for Workforce Development.

FACT:  On average, Americans with a college degree are twice as likely to be employed as the national average.

  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment for those with a bachelor’s degree and higher is 3.9%, compared the national average of 7.8%.
  • An American with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn more than $1 million more over their lifetime than someone who never went to college.

Copyright © 2013 The Financial Services Roundtable, All rights reserved.

 

Fast Facts: Economic Impact of the Fiscal Cliff

The Financial Services Roundtable recently released another iteration of it’s Fast Facts, reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services industry. Topics span TARP, Dodd-Frank, insurance, lending, retirement savings and more.  Below are some updated Fast Facts on the economic impact of the fiscal cliff.

FACT: The fiscal cliff consists of dramatic tax increases and automatic spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2013.

FACT:  The fiscal cliff would remove approximately $600 billion from the economy in 2013 (twice the projected growth in U.S. GDP this year) and more than $8 trillion over the next ten years.

FACT:  The Congressional Budget Office projects that the U.S. economy will go into a recession in 2013 (including real GDP contracting by 2.9% in the first quarter of 2013 and an unemployment rate over 9%) if Congress and the Administration do not address the fiscal cliff before the end of the year.

FACT:  Many independent groups are speaking out about the negative economic impacts if the fiscal cliff occurs.  Moreover, businesses are saying that uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff is negatively impacting their lending, hiring, and company growth right now.

  • Failure to reach even a temporary arrangement to prevent the fiscal cliff and a repeat of the August 2011 debt ceiling episode would mean that the general election had not resolved the political gridlock in Washington and would probably result in a sovereign rating downgrade by Fitch. Fitch Ratings.  November 7, 2012.
  • If <fiscal> negotiations fail to produce policies that lead to debt stabilization and ultimately reduction, then we expect to lower the rating, probably to Aa1.  Moody’s Investors Service.  November 7, 2012.
  • If the U.S. falls off the fiscal cliff, it will take most of the decade for economic activity and employment levels to recover from the fiscal shock.  There will be a recession in 2013 and dramatically slowed growth in 2014.  More than 6 million jobs will be lost; the unemployment rate will be more than 11 percent; and there will be a cumulative 12.8 percent drop in GDP.  National Association of Manufacturers.  October 26, 2012.
  • Economists from member companies of The Financial Services Roundtable convened on October 25th and unanimously agreed the fiscal cliff is imposing a negative drag on business lending, hiring, spending, and investment right now. The Financial Services Roundtable. October 25, 2012.
  • Chief executives from 80 big-name U.S. corporations have banded together in the “Campaign to Fix the Debt,” ringing the opening bell at the NYSE and urging policymakers to deal with America’s out-of-control national debt by forging a comprehensive, bipartisan deal, not by going over the fiscal cliff.  Campaign to Fix the Debt.October 25, 2012.
  • At the end of the day, the United States is the biggest economy in the world and the dollar is the reserve currency in the world. I think it behooves us to act in a much more responsible way <with respect to the fiscal cliff.> Lloyd Blankfein, CEO Goldman Sachs. October 24, 2012.
  • General Electric refinanced $5 billion of bonds reaching maturity early next year to avoid any market downturn ahead of the looming fiscal cliff. General Electric. October 22, 2012.
  • Fifteen CEOs of the largest banks in the U.S. sent a letter to the President and to Congress, saying, “The consequences of inaction – for stability in global financial markets, for economic growth, for millions of Americans still without work and for the financial circumstances of American businesses and households – would be very grave.” The Financial Services Forum. October 18, 2012.
  • 42% of fund managers report that the fiscal cliff is their number one investment risk– up from 35% in September and 26% in August. Bank of America Merrill Lynch. October 16, 2012.
  • U.S. Bancorp in Minneapolis lowered its loan-growth expectations for the fourth quarter to reflect borrower uncertainty about the election, the fiscal cliff and the overall economic environment. Richard Davis, CEO U.S. Bank. October 17, 2012.
  • 61% of American clients say the fiscal cliff is affecting their hiring plans. J.P. Morgan.  October 6, 2012.
  • Macro Risk Advisors October survey of market uncertainty factors shows the risk most cited by U.S. investors as relevant to market conditions is the fiscal cliff and upcoming elections. Macro Risk Advisors. October 2012.
  • It would be smart to at least temporarily stop the full implementation of spending cuts, which would cause a lot of angst. Blackrock Investment Institute. October 2012.
  • We expect that the S&P 500 will fall sharply following the election when investors finally recognize the serious possibility that the ‘fiscal cliff’ problem will not be solved in a smooth fashion.  Goldman Sachs Global Economics, Commodities and Strategy Research team, September 25, 2012.
  • In our view, the U.S. economy is being hit with an uncertainty shock because of the looming fiscal cliff. Our forecast assumes that the uncertainty shock slows growth to 1.0 percent in the fourth quarter of this year.” Bank of America Merrill Lynch,  September 24, 2012.
  • Despite individual bank improvements, outlook for bank stocks is negative, predominately due to “a challenging domestic operating environment, characterized by low interest rates, high unemployment, weak economic growth and uncertainty over US fiscal policy.” Moody’s Investment Outlook for Banks. September 13, 2012.
  • More than 40% of companies cite the fiscal cliff as a major reason for their spending restraint.  Morgan Stanley. August 5, 2012.
  • Small business owners rated the severity of 75 business issues. Uncertainty about the economy ranked second while uncertainty about government policy ranked fourth, followed by unreasonable government regulations (fifth); federal taxes on business income (sixth); tax complexity (seventh), and; frequent changes in federal tax laws and rules (eighth). For perspective, securing long term funding was 56thNational Federation of Independent Business.  August 2012.
  • Nine out of ten small businesses are concerned about Congress’ ability to reach consensus on the fiscal cliff; 59% say failure to address the fiscal cliff will have a direct impact on their company’s growth.  U.S.  Chamber of Commerce.  July 16, 2012.

FACT: Economic output would be greater and unemployment lower in 2013 if the fiscal cliff were addressed before the end of the year, according to analysis from the Congressional Budget Office.

 

For additional resources and examples of member programs, visit http://www.fsround.org/fsr/financial_literacy/financial_literacy_corner.asp.

Fast Facts: Recent Cyber Attacks

The Financial Services Roundtable released its 2012 Fast Facts Book in September, which contains Fast Facts from January 2012 through July 2012. We shared  information on preventing financial exploitation of of the elderly in a recent post. Below are some updated Fast Facts on recent cyber attacks.

FACT:  Since late September 2012, large financial institutions have been the subject of (or threatened to be the subject of) attacks intended to disrupt the availability of their Web sites.  A group that calls itself the Cyber Fighters of Izz ad-din Al Qassam has claimed credit for these attacks.

FACT:  The attacks have flooded certain bank Web sites with an extremely high volume of electronic traffic from thousands of locations around the world.  This flood of traffic, called “a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack,” is intended to slow down or disable the bank’s Web site.

FACT:  The attacks are not designed to be – and have not resulted in – a data breach, hacking, or unauthorized access to consumer information.

  • Consumers can access their accounts through alternative means, including bank branch offices and call centers.

FACT:  The financial services industry has robust cyber protections in place.

  • Banks collaborate with other banks, federal regulators such as Treasury, law enforcement officials, other government agencies such as the FBI and DHS, Internet Service Providers, and Internet security experts to fully analyze and deflect online attacks and deliver safe and consistent online service.
  • Financial services institutions use sophisticated online security strategies to protect customer accounts and continue to invest in technology to increase capacity and defend against potential attacks.
  • Financial services institutions are regularly examined by their primary federal regulator to ensure their compliance with cybersecurity regulations and information standards, including standards set in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and FFIEC Information Technology Examination Handbooks.
  • Financial services institutions collaborate with the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) which is an industry forum for collaboration on critical security threats facing the financial services sector.

FACT:  While there is nothing in particular that customers can do in response to the DDoS attacks, consumers can improve the general security of their private information by using the following tips:

  • Install on your computer—and keep updated—anti-virus software, firewall and anti-spyware software.
  • Set your computer’s operating system and browser to “automatic download” to ensure your operating system and browser include the latest security updates.
  • Don’t get hooked by phishing.  Do not respond to unsolicited emails requesting personal information and do not download attachments on unsolicited emails.
  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly.  The best passwords are long—a minimum of 8 characters—and complex. Not your birthday or the name of a child or pet.  Use a combination of numbers, symbols and letter; something meaningful to you like an acronym or batting averages, but not easily guessed.

For additional resources and examples of member programs, visithttp://www.fsround.org/fsr/financial_literacy/financial_literacy_corner.asp.

Preventing Financial Exploitation Of The Elderly

The Financial Services Roundtable released its 2012 Fast Facts Book in September, which contains Fast Facts from January 2012 through July 2012. Fast Facts provides reliable, bullet-point research about issues facing the financial services industry. Below are a section of Fast Facts on preventing financial exploitation of the elderly.

By 2030, seniors will make up over one-sixth of the U.S. population. As our population grows older, it is essential to educate people about how to protect themselves from financial exploitation.

FACT: The annual financial loss for victims of elder abuse is around $2.9 billion, which is a 12% increase from 2008, according to a 2011 MetLife study of Elder Financial Abuse.

FACT: The elderly are a target for financial abuse because they may be more likely to depend on others for help, have predictable patterns, and have little understanding of modern management of finances. Additionally, they often have accumulated savings. Persons over the age of 50 control over 70% of the nation’s wealth, according to one survey.

FACT: Men and women of any race, economic level, or health status can become victims of elder financial abuse.

  • Women are twice as likely to become victims
  • Most victims are between the ages of 80 and 89
  • Most victims live alone and require help with health issues and home maintenance

FACT: The most common perpetrators of financial abuse are family members, who commit nearly 75% of crimes.

FACT: Signs of exploitation of the elderly include: unpaid bills, changes in banks or attorneys, changes in spending patterns, missing property, unfamiliar signatures, and a lack of personal amenities.

FACT: Many Roundtable member companies are coordinating to protect elderly customers from financial abuse. Examples include:

  • Capital One has partnered with the Consumer Action advocacy group to create MoneyWi$e. MoneyWi$e is a national personal financial education program offering free materials and community-based training opportunities on various topics including elder fraud, identity theft, and money management. In Canada, Capitol One partnered with SeniorBusters to raise awareness about the prevalence of elder abuse and fraud.
  • City National Bank has published various materials regarding elder abuse. Such materials include a facts bulletin regarding the actions and consequences of elder abuse, examples of common identity theft methods, and what to look for when elder financial abuse is suspected.
  • Comerica Bank provides publications on how to be aware of the signs of abuse and how the bank can help. They make an effort to partner with law enforcement to conduct community seminars open to all regarding various fraud topics. They have also created county taskforces to address the issues of elder abuse to provide a response plan for elder abuse and develop a network of contacts for the members.
  • Fifth Third Bank conducts a program which informs and offers protection from elder financial abuse. Fifth Third works regularly to protect assets, prevent losses, and safeguard information through customer interaction. By getting to know their customers, they are able to watch out for unusual activities. They also pay close attention when seniors come into a banking center for service by observing if they have someone with them, noticing if they seem uneasy, and noting if the transaction is unusual in nature. They will then take immediate action to safeguard the customer.
  • First Horizon is kicking off a program to prevent identity theft in their headquarters city of Memphis. In partnership with the Memphis Police Department, County Sheriff’s Office, and the District Attorney General’s Office, employees will make presentations at retirement communities and other groups regarding how to protect their finances. These presentations will also be made free to any organization interested in identity theft prevention.
  • Regions Financial is providing communication and instructor led training to all associates focusing on elder financial abuse prevention. By September 30, 2012, every Regions associate will complete training on how to prevent, detect and report elder financial abuse. Regions has a long standing commitment to elder protection efforts. Since 2003, Regions has invested in the Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to protect vulnerable seniors in housing facilities in various locations across our footprint and to provide ongoing crime prevention programs for senior housing residents.
  • The Principal Financial Group has provided grants to support WesleyLife Community Services’ Money Management program since 2007. This no-cost program promotes independent living for low to moderate income older adults and persons with disabilities who are at risk of victimization because they cannot manage their own finances. WLCS-Money Management program curriculum was designed by AARP which provides training, evaluation and technical support. Nationally, this program helped 6,000 adults in 2010 with a 98% satisfaction with service rate.
  • Wells Fargo has developed training and informational content for distribution. This includes periodic articles which are distributed via internal channels. Additionally, their Regulatory Affairs group has coordinated and hosted regional Elder Financial Abuse Symposiums in various cities around the country. This group will also conduct ongoing meetings with regulars such as FINRA, SEC and State, and is in regular contact with State APS.

For additional resources and examples of member programs, visit http://www.fsround.org/fsr/financial_literacy/financial_literacy_corner.asp.