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Posts tagged ‘Financial services’

Latest Obamacare Glitch: One-Third of Enrollees May Not Get Insurance.


Image: Latest Obamacare Glitch: One-Third of Enrollees May Not Get Insurance

By Melissa Clyne

Up to one-third of the 149,000 individuals who have been able to sign up for Obamacare — 44,700 people — may not have health insurance after all come Jan. 1, even though HealthCare.gov accepted their applications and confirmed coverage.

In yet another acknowledged blunder, administration officials have admitted that people “might not be officially signed up with their selected issuer, even if the website has told them they are,” ABC News reports.

Editor’s Note: New ‘Obamacare Survival Guide’ Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, policies are not considered in effect until purchasers have paid at least the first monthly premium.

The latest round of problems with the beleaguered website include a system glitch that fails to notify insurers about new customers, duplicate enrollments or cancellation notices for the same person, incorrect information about family members, and mistakes involving federal subsidies, The Washington Post reports.

The laundry list of failures has been growing since Oct. 1 launch of HealthCare.gov, even as administration officials repeatedly have promised that things were getting better.

It further underscores criticisms by Obamacare opponents and shatters the already fractured credibility of a president who has continued to over-promise and under-deliver.

The White House set a Nov. 30 deadline to have the site fully functional, and publicly congratulated itself early Sunday with assurances that the site was at least 90 percent effective. The latest revelation brings that statistic down to at least 66 percent.

The new glitches reveal problems with the system’s back end, where an applicant’s personal information is transferred to the insurance carrier. The White House lays the blame for many of the errors on users, who may have clicked twice on the confirmation button or toggled backward and forward on the site, according to The Washington Post.

Insurance companies, the Post reports, have been worried about problems with enrollment records for weeks and had voiced those concerns to government officials.

After weeks of trying, a 61-year-old Georgia man thought he finally had broken through the system and successfully enrolled through the federal marketplace, according to ABC News. But days later, Bob Shlora said, he learned the carrier, Humana, had no record of the transaction, even though Shlora received a policy ID number from HealthCare.gov.

“I feel like this: My application was taken … by a bureaucrat, it was put on a conveyor belt and it’s still going around, and it’s never going to leave the building,” he told ABC. “I’ve lost hope. If it happens, great.”

A spokeswoman for CMS, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, places the onus on consumers, recommending they contact the insurance company to make sure they have coverage.

CMS’ Julie Bataille said that a bug causing “about 80 percent” of the errors with transferring the information to insurance carriers has been fixed. Similar bugs, such as one that caused inaccurate coding of family relationships — a child showing up as a spouse, for example — also have been repaired, she said.

Despite watered-down promises that by Dec. 1 the improved site would be able to handle 50,000 simultaneous users, people were sent to virtual waiting rooms after that number reached just 35,000, according to National Public Radio. About 375,000 people visited the site on Cyber Monday, twice as many as on an average Monday.

In an effort to extinguish a firestorm on another issue, the administration has offered to compensate insurers as an incentive for them to extend individual policies that were to have been canceled Jan. 1.

“The administration said it could provide financial assistance to certain insurers through a program under which the government will share in (insurers’) losses and profits for the next three years,” The New York Times reports.

That financial boost would be on top of an estimated $1 trillion in federal subsidies the government already plans to pay insurance carriers to make coverage more affordable for low- and middle-income people.

The administration did not provide the Times with an estimate of the cost to assist insurers, explaining that it didn’t know how many people would stay on existing plans or enroll in new ones.

Constituents and politicians became enraged after learning President Barack Obama’s “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” mantra was inaccurate. In response, Obama allowed Americans to extend their individual policies for a year, though insurers maintain that doing so could collapse the industry.

Insurance companies fear they will be saddled with sicker, more-expensive customers via the federal healthcare marketplace because healthier Americans will keep their existing plans for another year.

Premiums were set based on the original Affordable Care Act guidelines, and now, supporters say, changing things could annihilate the market.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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Open Letter to Sanusi Lamido Sanusi By Dayo Coker.


Mr Governor,

The banks are ripping me off.

When I do an online transaction with my debit cards, these banks charge me between 164 and 166 per USD.

The same banks will convert a USD remittance from a foreign country at 159 – 161.

What does this tell you about your new policy?

Why do you allow this kind of arbitrage to permeate the financial ecosystem?

Why did you not insist that all card-based FCY payments must be converted at the official rates and not the parallel market rates?

Sometimes I wonder if you and your advisers consider the consequences of some of your policy flip-flops.

RDAS to WDAS and back to RDAS.

Or is it naivete?

A form of elitism perhaps?

Everybody in your circle seems to be a blue blood, children of aristocrats reliving the lives of their progenitors.

You are fighting a system that has been destroyed by years of systemic corruption and yet you still employ the same old boys’ network of smooth operators. The Eton-educated, glib-tongued, Saville Row suited economic hit men who continue to pillage this country like their fathers before them.

Why should a discredited banker like Bolaji Balogun have so much influence in the Sanusi era?

I alighted on an old FCY bid from 1986 and guess who signed off the letter from NAL Merchant Bank.

Atedo Peterside and Dr Shamsideen Usman.

The same old folks.

Still here.

Still running the system

I am not a dollariser.

I am just a common man.

And you are letting the banks rip me off.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

You’ve Spoken And We Are Listening…GTB Responds.


By GTB Management

Dear Colleagues and Esteemed Stakeholders: We have been paying a lot of attention to your reactions to the post by Mr. Junaid Korede Agbabiaka (JKA), on work­ ing conditions at Guaranty Trust Bank PLC and are deeply humbled by the passion and intensity of your comments, which confirm your interest in the success of our great organization.

As always,we appreciate feedback from all our stakeholders regarding how we can improve our performance as an organization and continue to adhere to the values for which we have become known over the last 22 years; Excellence,Professionalism,Discipline and Integrity.

Our every action and decision as an institution,including those reached after our recent appraisal exercise are in line with the Bank’s corporate strategy, which was adopted in November 2011.

This operational approach requires that a defined percentage of the lowest performing employees be asked to leave annually to create room for new individuals and fresh ideas as part of an ongoing rejuvenating programme.

You are however our valued stakeholders and we are listening to your suggestions and advise.Kindly know that each comment you have taken time to post here is being given utmost attention, as we strive to truly further improve ourselves as individuals and as an institution.

We have therefore set up a dedicated URL www.youspokewelistened.org for you, to get responses to all grievances and enquiries,whilst calling on you to make suggestions on how best we can sustain Guaranty Trust Bank pic as a Proudly African andTruly international institution.

Once again, we thank you for your support and presently have people online to discuss areas of concern with you.
Thank you.

Yours Faithfully

Management

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Guaranty Trust Bank: Would You Rather Work With Them? (A Victimised Former Staff Tells It All).


By Junaid Korede Agbabiaka

Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) is a bank that prides itself as a foremost Nigerian financial institution that fosters a culture of openness in which healthy debate is encouraged. Over the last two decades, the bank has grown from strength to strength thus making it a preferred institution for young Nigerians who aspire to become seasoned bankers.

Why join GTBank?

On the bank’s website, it justifies the reason to work for the bank by stating that “We are, first and foremost, a Learning Organization. We understand that being an employer of choice goes beyond the regular pay package. It involves listening, training, mentoring, a genuine concern for what people really care about, and acting upon them. In essence, it involves connecting to people’s hearts.” Superb! No better way to introduce this great institution to an aspiring or established professional in Nigeria’s banking sector.

The bank doesn’t stop at that; it goes on to say that “a career at Guaranty Trust Bank offers you a chance to make a difference in your life and the lives of people in your immediate community. Throughout our history, we have continued to help our staff realize their dreams, whilst creating opportunities for them to fulfill their personal and professional potential.”

Over the last 20 years, GTBank has been very successful with their people. The bank has been able to pass the vision of its founders down to every staff of the bank. Through their training consultants, Learners and Trainers and IBFC, new employees go through comprehensive entry training programs that span between 2-3 months getting fired up. They come out proud with their orange IDs, they believe so much in the bank’s vision, “we are a team driven to deliver the utmost in customer service.” While other bankers are hopping from one bank to the other seeking the next level, they strictly remain loyal. They strongly believe that a rolling stone gathers no moss. Ask anyone around about a GTBanker and they will tell you how they cherish and proudly defend the brand.

Exactly two years ago today, that story changed. GTBank lost its revered Managing Director and co-founder, Tayo Aderinokun. Tayo just like Fola Adeola was a leader who stood out in every aspect of the bank including the welfare of his staff. He was indeed the most respected CEO within and outside the bank. An award he later received from PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2008. Tayo’s demise ushered in a new leadership in the bank, one that appears determined to change what hitherto was a chance to make a difference in the lives of its people and that of those in their immediate community.

On Thursday 23rd May, 2013, GTBank reduced itself from an institution highly regarded in banking sector as the most respected corporate bank in Nigeria, renowned for both its professionalism and high ethical standards to a callous employer of labour. It decided to tow the path of ignominy by unjustly sacking over 100 staff of the bank.

The bank was quick to go to press to state that it had sacked 100 and promoted 500. What the bank did not tell was how it carried out its exercise and if it fulfilled all obligations as required by law. http://www.punchng.com/business/money/gtbank-sacks-100-workers-promotes-…

Reasonable Notice

To start with, where in the world do you notify people of your decision to sack them with their inability to log in to their various systems at work? Logging in to your computer system to commence the day’s operation at work was not a celebrated activity in GTBank until Segun Agbaje decided to change the face of banking that blessed Thursday. There couldn’t have been a more befitting and professional way of telling someone who had diligently and effectively worked in your institution for years that his/her services were no longer required. So many people who had saved personal items such as training materials and notes on their systems could not access their documents and files. Why? It was time to go. They were suddenly advised to contact the Human Resources (HR) department. An Assistant Manager in the head office wept. What brought tears to his eyes wasn’t the sack but the way they were dispersed from an institution they lived for like lepers. The bank was even kind enough to tell another lady who was bitter because her team met their budget for the financial year under review during her appraisal to put a new person through.

So much genuine concern for indeed helping their staff realize their dreams, whilst creating opportunities to fulfill their personal and professional potential. In the words of a Deputy General Manager who left GTBank some years back to join another top bank, “GTBank just cheapened its staff”.

The most pertinent question to then ask is why did GTBank decide to sack some staff? With the Lamido Sanusi tsunami that swept away some CEOs in the banking industry, came massive retrenchment of bankers. Thousands were laid off in defunct banks like Intercontinental and Oceanic with the new interim management teams claiming they had to downsize in order to put these banks back in healthy operation. Their reasons to some extent were valid. However, considering GTBank’s recently declared PBT of N100B, the issue had to be something else, may be performance.

The decision to sack was made after the bank’s appraisal of its staff where those who had low scores (B) were told to leave as directed by Segun during the appraisal meeting. What he failed to address was the lingering issue of victimisation and subjective appraisal by team leaders and bosses who have become tyrants in the bank. Most of these bosses hold on to personal grudges and flex their muscles only during the appraisal of their direct reports. While some of them use this as a tool to show superiority, others just do this to slow down the growth of their staff supposedly in line with Segun’s cost cutting strategy.

It was thus no surprise when some of these heads, having scored their staff so low, tried to reach out to the affected ones claiming they never expected the MD to instruct a sack of those with low scores. Now if you honestly know your team member does not deserve a B, why score him that low? If you knew Segun would erratically decide to sack, would you have honestly given the same scores? Would you consider the appraisal as fair and objective?

Most people in GTBank today grew under Tayo. There was instant reward for productivity and performance. Suddenly things changed, some employees have spent 5 years on a particular level and yet have high scores during their appraisals each year. The bank has resorted to quota system where a certain number of possible promotions (determined by the MD) is allotted to various groups within the bank. The Group Heads often claim their hands are tied, what about their mouths? They surely are following the Yoruba saying that once the mouth has tasted “dodo” (profit sharing), it certainly will reject “ododo” (the truth).

In the face of Segun’s high-handedness, the head of HR’s meekness and the absence of unions in the bank, where does an aggrieved GTBanker get able and due representation for fairness and justice assuming he or she is a victim of harassment, bullying and victimisation? The National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees should ensure that all bankers join the union with emphasis placed on the need for support in the face of such unlawful dismissals. How can you sack without notice in writing? “At common law, it is implied that that either party may terminate the contract by giving reasonable notice to the other” Omehia (2011) “Dismissal in Nigeria Labour Law” pp 55.

The principal legislation on employment matters in Nigeria is the Labour Act which was enacted in 1971. The most common method of terminating a contract of employment is by the delivery of a written notice of termination of the contract on the opposite party. While the bank may claim that monetary compensation was made in lieu of notice, it came 8 days after the termination of contract. The bank failed to write to affected staff stating their severance package. Besides the narration that comes with SMS notifications for credits into account, no affected staff has a letter stating what s/he is entitled to after several years of diligence and commitment. On what grounds were those calculations made? Did it consider the length of service? Did it include benefits up to the last day of employment? Is it enough to advise them to resign voluntarily? Preposterous!

The Nigerian Court of Appeal has held that “in the absence of any definite agreement between an employer and his employee stipulating the period of notice for employee’s employment, the Court will proceed to consider what period of notice is reasonable”. Certainly not between 1-24 hours! There have been so many cases of similar dismissals arising from the MD’s spontaneous reaction to matters beyond the control of employees in question.

One of such was the unjust dismissal of a Deputy Manager, whose 10 year GTBank career was cut short few days to his wedding due to the inability of the bank’s customer to pay down on a loan that was presented to the bank’s Management Credit Committee (MCC). Be informed that the MCC is responsible for reviewing and approving all credits that are above the approval limit of the MD as determined by the Board. Its members include the MD who is the Chairman while the secretary is the head of the bank’s Credit Administration Unit, other members include all Divisional and Group Heads. This fellow was just a victim of power play or how else do you explain his dismissal from the bank for a credit that was approved by the MCC. The fact that his team was highly profitable was discounted for such erratic decisions that now characterise the Criticized Asset Committee (CAC) which is responsible for the assessment of the risk asset portfolio of the Bank. This and many cases have become the norm in GTBank. But who will come to their rescue? HR or NUBIFIE? A notification on the bank’s intranet that a staff’s customer has been listed on the CAC list sends fear down the spine of such staff. He simply doesn’t know if that will be his last day at work.

In all of these, let it be known that government is a reflection of the society. While most Nigerians blame and attack government assuming they are totally different people from the rest of us, so much injustice occur around us every day by people in positions of authority. Some of these people eventually find their ways into government. Will the situation change? It will be no surprise if GTBank does respond with a well written orange article to refute what has been stated here but there are over a 100 people willing to share their stories of subjective appraisals.

Rest in peace Tayo Aderinokun, we all miss you.

Junaid Korede Agbabiaka (JKA)

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Why You’re In Debt and What You Can Do About It.


Jason Cabler

Most Americans are in debt. Maybe you’re one of them.

Being in debt has gotten to be so normal that many people never question it. So many of us believe that debt is just a normal part of life and there is not much you can do about it.

In fact, some people even believe that having debt is a good thing.

Seriously, do you really need a ton of debt weighing you down to have everything you need in life?

No, you don’t.

In fact, I think it’s ridiculous to believe that debt is just a necessary part of life.

Being In Debt Drains You

Think about it. What does debt actually do to you financially? It unnecessarily drains away your hard earned money by making you pay much more for those things you buy with it.

When you’re in debt, you are paying money in interest and fees that could be used for things that are much more useful. Debt causes you to spend much more than you otherwise would on the things you want and need (read about how we overpaid for our car).

Ultimately, it sucks you dry financially while giving you a false sense of prosperity.

Being In Debt is a Choice, Not a Necessity

Most Americans, if given the choice, would probably tell you that it’s better to have no debt.

So why is it that the majority of Americans are swimming in debt?

Why are most people not making the choice that they know is best for them in the long run?

There are plenty of reasons why, a few of which I’ll cover here:

  • Marketing. Every one of us is barraged with over 3,000 marketing messages every day, and that number is growing.  Most of those messages are trying to get you to spend money by turning wants into needs.
  • Wanting to Fit In. You want what other people have in order to be like them or to fit in with a group. So you spend money you don’t have to be part of the crowd.
  • Lack of Control. Some people just don’t know how to control themselves well. They don’t know how to say “no” when it comes to spending. So they spend on whatever they want, whenever they want it, which results in a lot of debt and the consequences that come along with it.
  • Lack of Education. Some people think that having debt is just as normal as breathing. Some even think it’s good to have debt so they can maintain a good credit score or get tax breaks. Those numbers just don’t add up.

Here’s the deal: when you have debt, you are wasting hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year in interest and fees.

In the long run you are poorer because of it. You could use that wasted money for other things that create much more value in your life than helping to keep a finance company or credit card company in business.

Being In Debt Stresses You Out

When you have debt, you also have more stress and worry in your life.

You worry about making the payments. You need to make more money to meet your obligations. You’re having trouble saving for the future because your present debt is eating you alive.

Life is stressful enough without having to worry about debt and the emotional unrest it brings to your life.

If you can’t sleep at night and have that constant gnawing in the pit of your stomach because of stress, it’s very likely that at least some of that stress is being caused by debt if you sit down and take an honest look at your situation.

Don’t let debt rob you of your present, your future, or your peace of mind.

It’s just not worth it!

Debt Freedom Is Achievable

I’ve been out of debt (except for my house) for 7 years now. I can honestly tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that debt freedom is achievable, and that life is exponentially better without that bondage tying you down.

Debt is called “bondage” for a reason.

I can help you do that same thing I’ve done to get out of debt and stay debt free for life.

It’s not an extraordinarily complicated process, but it does take time and dedication.

I can show you how to do it in my soon to be released “Celebrating Financial Freedom” online course. If you would like to keep tabs on the course’s progress and get a special deal when it becomes available, sign up here and I’ll keep you informed.

Has debt had any bad effects on your life? Did you recognize yourself in any of the bullet points above? Tell me about it by leaving a comment.

Article originally published on Celebrating Financial Freedom. Used with permission.

Dr. Jason Cabler is a Christian personal finance blogger, author, and speaker. He teaches how to get out of debt and live a debt free lifestyle through his Celebrating Financial Freedom blog and self study course. His book How to Budget: The Quick and Easy Guide to Making a Budget That Works is now available (more info here). He can be reached for interviews or speaking engagements byemail, and can be found on TwitterFacebook, and Google +.

Publication date: May 22, 2013

Cyprus eases citizenship to soothe investors.


Cyprus is now bracing itself for record unemployment and at least a 12 percent drop in output this year [Reuters]
Cyprus has announced it will relax citizen requirements for foreigners, including bank depositors who lost large amounts of money in the deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

President says foreign depositors who lost at least $3.9m due to EU-IMF bailout are eligible to apply for citizenship.

“Non-resident investors who held deposits prior” to the bailout and lost “at least 3 million euros [$3.9m] will be eligible to apply for Cypriot citizenship,” President Nicos Anastasiades told a Russian business conference in the coastal resort of Limassol on Sunday.

Cyprus was forced to wind down one major bank and impose considerable losses on large depositors in a second bank in return for $13bn in aid from the IMF and EU in a move that was devastating to both Cypriots and foreign investors.

Eurozone finance ministers approved the aid on Friday.

‘Mitigating damage’

Anastasiades said on Sunday his cabinet would this week approve the relaxation of restrictions on citizenship in Cyprus, an EU member since 2004.

Non-resident investors who held deposits prior to March 15, when the plan to impose losses on savers was first formulated, and who lost at least three million euros would be eligible to apply for Cypriot citizenship, he said.

“We believe that a number of measures to be adopted could on the one hand mitigate to some extent the damage the Russian business community has endured,” Anastasiades said.

Other measures were also under consideration, he said, including offering tax incentives for existing or new companies doing business in Cyprus.

Anastasiades, whose centre-right government has been in power for less than two months, said countries who accused Cyprus of being a money laundering hub for businesses from countries such as Russia were being hypocrites, since those same countries were now trying to lure foreign businesses away.

Used to robust growth and a thriving financial services sector, Cyprus is now bracing itself for record unemployment and at least a 12 percent drop in output this year.

Model crumbles

Cyprus, one of the eurozone’s smallest economies, modelled itself as a competitively taxed financial services centre with a network of treaties to avoid double taxation.

That model is now threatened by the fact that bailout conditions have left its two main banks crippled, but also forced Cyprus to increase its corporate tax to 12.5 percent from 10, which had been the lowest in the eurozone.

The bailout, first requested in June 2012, was delayed partly because of concerns expressed by eurozone states, notably Germany, that its financial sector was opaque, thus aiding money laundering.

But Cyprus was neither a money laundering hub or a tax haven, Anastasiades said.

“What saddens, I refrain from using the word angers, me deeply is that since the euro group agreement was reached, some EU partners’ businesses involved in the financial services industry have been preying upon our financial services sector, in order to encourage a relocation of funds into their economies,” he said.

He said it was an irony and an “absurd paradox” that the governments of those businesses claimed those funds were deposited and invested in Cyprus through illicit means.

“I am a firm believer in the rules of the free market, but allow me to comment on the hypocrisy of such methods,” Anastasiades said.

Source: ALJAZEERA Agencies.

Rodriguez Valladares: Don’t Break Up Big Banks out of Revenge.


Mega-banks are frequently called a threat to financial stability, and breaking them up is pushed as a solution to our economic worries.

But breaking up the mega-banks to score a post-crisis pound of flesh could result in higher unemployment, increased credit costs and a transfer of risk from banks to lightly regulated shadow financial institutions, cautions one financial expert.

“The desire for revenge may be strong, but we should not lose sight of what should be our key goal: to make the global financial sector safer,” Mayra Rodriguez Valladares, managing principal at New York-based MRV Associates, which trains bank examiners and executives at financial firms, writes in an article for the American Banker.

Forbes Columnist: 
‘Who the Hell Cleared This?’

The “too big to fail” banks have become a scapegoat for the financial crisis, yet all types of financial sector players, including securities firms, hedge funds, private equity firms, insurance companies and mutual and pension funds, can cause systemic risk, points out Valladares, a faculty member of The New York Institute of Finance.

Splitting up banks would prompt a large number of layoffs, she says, noting that most people working at banks are not bankers or traders and don’t get big bonuses. Instead, they’re analysts, back-office personnel, janitors and other small fry.

“Adding these people to the unemployment line neither helps the global economy nor punishes the true perpetrators of the crisis.”

Lower borrowing costs for mega-banks means lower borrowing costs for individuals and corporations, Valladares adds. If banks were to shrink, consumers and businesses would pay higher interest rates.

New banking regulations have not been finalized due to lobbyists and legislators blocking regulators. If those rules are completed, implemented and properly enforced, she explains, they could shrink financial risks or at least stop them from getting larger.

But bank critics should think through the impact of breaking up banks, she warns. For instance, after banks are split up, who would regulate the new entities?

“If securities firms were to end up out of the jurisdiction of bank supervisors,” she notes, “we would add more risk to the global financial sector by pushing the non-bank components to a practically unregulated shadow market.”

Mega-bank critics say that once investment houses are walled off from commercial banks and they do not receive government support, market discipline would encourage them to reduce risks.

“Where was market discipline in the mid-2000s?” she asks.

With an implicit government guarantee, mega-banks do not fear failure and can take excessive risks, argued Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard W. Fisher and Harvey Rosenblum, the bank’s executive vice president and director of research, in an editorial in The Wall Street Journal.

It emboldens their sense of immunity from the law and lets them raise capital more cheaply than smaller banks can.

“This is patently unfair,” they argue.

Forbes Columnist: ‘Who the Hell Cleared This?’

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By Michael Kling

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