Thursday, June 16, 2022

STC Consulting was invited to participate as an exhibitor at the JP Morgan Chase Wealth summit "Nuestro Futuro".

Thank you, Amanda Dietz, Melissa Vela, and all the team at Chase for inviting me and organizing an impressive event that was designed to promote conversations and resources about financial health and inclusion and provide resources to build generational wealth within the Hispanic & Latino communities in Houston.

It was an intentional and impactful event, with amazing speakers, networking, and workshop breakout sessions.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

2021 ESG Report Accelerating Sustainable and Inclusive Growth

Author Talks: How to build a damn good business


Written by: Author Talks

Business guidance can hinge on an assumption of existing financial access, making the advice irrelevant to budding entrepreneurs with less privilege. Kathryn Finney seeks to level the playing field.

In this edition of Author Talks, McKinsey Global Publishing’s Kathleen O’Leary chats with Kathryn Finney, founder and managing partner of Genius Guild—a venture capital firm investing in Black-owned start-ups—about her new book, Build the Damn Thing: How to Start a Successful Business If You’re Not a Rich White Guy (Portfolio, June 2022). Finney has done just that: in a business world historically geared toward upper-class, Caucasian men, she worked to become one of the first Black women to have a seven-figure start-up exit. After founding several successful companies, Finney is now sharing her entrepreneurial wisdom. An edited version of the conversation follows.

Why did you write this book?

I wrote Build the Damn Thing because I have read many, many, many business books, and they all made certain assumptions in terms of the type of resources a person has. They assume that we all have access to the same networks and that we can all go into a bank and get a loan. I had never read a book that was written for someone like me who comes from a diverse background, who is a Black woman, who historically couldn’t go into a bank and get a loan, and who had to figure out other ways in which to build businesses.

I wrote this book for the 99.9 percent of the world that aren’t rich White guys, but, ironically enough, I’ve had a number of very, very successful, rich White guys read the book. They love it, too, because they’re like, “We didn’t know that it was this hard. It’s opened our eyes to some things that we didn’t even know about, so when we work with our entrepreneurs, or friends, or our team members, we’re able to have a different perspective that we didn’t have before.”

Was there anything that surprised you in the process of researching and writing the book?

One of the things that surprised me in writing a book was the self-discovery that comes when you’re writing. When you’re putting together all the lessons you’ve learned when you’re doing really deep research on something, it changes you as well.

The importance of family was one of the things that I knew, but it came out even more so in writing the book—how, when you are a woman entrepreneur, a person-of-color entrepreneur, or an entrepreneur who comes from a disadvantaged background economically, you have to rely on your family, your friends, and your community to support you and help you do what you want to do.

Entrepreneurship is hard. It’s not easy. It is tough. It is exhausting. But knowing that you have people behind you who are there to support you, who can do things as little as cooking dinner on a night that you’re just so exhausted—little things like that are really crucial to our success and has been crucial to my own success.

How does your background in epidemiology inform your work as an entrepreneur?

Having the background as an epidemiologist has been really interesting and helpful. How it’s helped me as an entrepreneur is that I understand data—I understand it and I’m not afraid of it because I was trained to understand it, not be afraid of it, and translate it. That’s been really, really helpful for me. I like numbers, and I like spreadsheets, so it’s been really helpful in understanding data, understanding trends, and then translating it.

It has also been really helpful in dealing with people, because as an epidemiologist I’m looking at things at the population level. For example, how does this particular event—in the case of epidemiology it’s a disease, but in business it could be your company or a change in environmental or economic conditions—impact people, the way people move, and the way people react?

Having the epidemiological training has given me a very good foundation for understanding that, understanding people, and understanding their reactions to things. It’s been quite helpful over the past two years in having to explain, from a business perspective, the impact of diseases and other factors that are going to have a continuous impact on us as we build our businesses.

What advice do you have for people looking to bring their authentic selves to work?

One of the ways to bring your authentic self to work is by centering your humanity and other people’s humanity, too. At the end of the day we’re all human beings, right? We’re all human beings in this world, trying to live, and I honestly believe we all want to do our best. Even if we don’t always do our best, we want to do our best, so one of the ways to bring your authentic self is to find a point of connection that is true to you with that other person.

It could be a particular sport or something else, but it needs to be authentic to you. It’s not about them or finding what they like. If they like sailing and you hate water, that’s not what I’m talking about. At times, you have to speak truth to power, even when it’s difficult, even when it may not turn out great for you. I think that’s where having your core values, your personal core values—which I talk about in the book a lot—becomes very, very, very important.

How would you maintain your strength and sense of self-worth amid setbacks?

It really comes from my parents. I grew up with parents who took a risk. My parents left Milwaukee—where we knew everyone and had both sets of grandparents—and moved to Minneapolis. I was a young child at that point. They left everything they knew, took this risk, and it paid off. When you are a young child, particularly when you come from a family that has taken great risk—whether you’re a child of immigrants, whether your family has moved across the country, whether your mom was divorced and raised kids—and you see someone take a risk and then come out on the other side of it positively, it has a big impact on who you are.

For me, I know I can do whatever needs to be done because I was never told I couldn’t do what needed to be done. I saw my parents take a risk and then win. My parents never once told me I couldn’t do something, and as a young Black woman being brought up in a place with possibilities, I had a crazy imagination. I did the craziest things, but they never told me, “That’s stupid. No, you can’t do that,” so I grew up with this belief in infinite possibilities for myself.

As I talk about in a story in the book, a 26-year-old White dude who just graduated from Stanford isn’t going to tell me that I’m not great, because I’ve always been great. Your opinion is not going to change the belief in what I can do because I know I can do it—because it’s been done, and I’ve seen it be done. That’s where it comes from. For those who are questioning, “How do I show up? How do I maintain that?” I always think of a story a good friend of mine, Cheryl Contee, told me.

She said, “When you walk into the room, you’re the coolest person they’ve ever met.” Basically, you walk into a room where everybody’s the same. They’ve been seeing the same Patagonia vest, Bonobos khaki jeans, and Allbirds sneakers all week, and I show up being me. For them, this is refreshing. They get to look at someone different, breaking the monotony of everything else.

It’s about going into that room and making everyone believe you are the coolest person they met that day for the sheer fact that you are probably vastly different than what they see on a daily basis. For that reason alone, you are incredibly interesting to them. You come in with that, and it helps you maintain that strength and that belief in yourself.

Why is it important for entrepreneurs to perform a self-assessment of their core values and define what constitutes a violation of them?

It’s really important to do a self-assessment about who you are and what your core values are because, particularly as a diverse entrepreneur but really as any entrepreneur, you’re going to be challenged. You are going to be challenged. That is part of entrepreneurship, and that’s part of the journey.

You’re going to be challenged to make decisions on things that are questionable, things that may make you pause and go, “Eh, I don’t know about that,” things that may make you question your own integrity. It’s very hard to make a decision if you don’t know who you are and what you value. By knowing what you value, you’re able to see whether this thing that’s being asked of you or your company fits into who you are and your value. The hardest thing—and I know this for a fact because I’ve had to do it—is to say no to something that didn’t sit right.

Friday, June 3, 2022

5 steps to performing a midyear financial plan review


Written by: Shelly Gigante

Summer is the perfect time for barbeques and beach parties, but it’s also a good opportunity to take the pulse of your saving and spending plan with a midyear financial checkup.

With the first half of the year in the rearview mirror, a quick look at your monthly budget can yield valuable insight into whether you are still on track to meet your 2021 savings goals. It can also help identify areas of waste and provide motivation to set new goals. (Learn more: Setting savings goals)

“It is always a good idea to evaluate your financial situation at certain intervals,” said Greg Hammer, a financial professional with Hammer Financial in Schererville, Indiana, in an interview. “If you haven’t met with your professional since January, it’s good to check in midyear and take a deeper dive so we can assess whether your investments are still in line with your objectives.”

The midyear checkup serves another important function, as well: “If you’re in tune with your investments and in touch with your professional, you are less likely to panic when the market starts to correct,” said Hammer. “You are less likely to make emotional decisions that can negatively impact your returns.”

1. Check your retirement contributions

Hammer suggests savers start by taking stock of their retirement plan contributions.

Savers should, at minimum, contribute enough to collect any employer match to which they are entitled, he said. Not doing so leaves free money on the table.

Ideally, you should aim to max out your tax-favored retirement plans, such as a 401(k) plan, 403(b), or IRA, said Hammer, which not only helps to build your future nest egg, but also potentially yields a valuable current-year tax deduction. Take note that Roth IRA contributions provide no tax break for contributions, but your earnings and withdrawals in retirement are generally tax-free. (Learn more: Setting retirement goals )

The annual contribution limit for 401(k) plans is $19,500 in 2021, and the total annual contribution limit for Traditional and Roth IRAs this year is $6,000.1 (That limit is $26,000 and $7,000 respectively for participants age 50 and older.)2

If you don’t have the resources to meet the max, financial professionals often suggest looking for ways to reduce your current expenses. You can also potentially allocate any bonuses or raises you get going forward to your retirement fund. Or, some financial professionals suggest, consider increasing your contributions gradually by 1 percent of your salary per year until you reach your desired goal. (Retirement planning calculator)

Even an extra $200 per month starting at age 30 can amount to roughly $454,000 more in retirement savings by the time you reach age 65, assuming a 7 percent annual return.

2. Tackle debt

Next, review your debt, said Hammer. “The best way to save is by getting rid of debt,” he said. “Is your debt level going up, declining, or unchanged from the start of the year? If it’s on the rise, you need to understand what’s happening with your financial situation and correct your spending pattern.”

Some debt, said Hammer, including student loans and home mortgages, are common and necessary, but credit card balances with double digit interest rates can cripple your budget, especially in a rising interest rate environment. Indeed, most credit cards have a variable rate, which means the percentage they charge consumers who carry a balance is tied directly to the Federal Reserve’s benchmark rate.

“Debt is the worst possible thing to carry in a rising interest rate environment,” said Hammer. (Learn more: Handling debt)

Like most professionals, he suggests consumers with multiple credit card balances tackle the one with the highest interest rate first, while continuing to make minimum monthly payments on any others to avoid late fees. Once that debt is paid, move on to the next highest rate card until you are debt-free. Just be sure you don’t pay for any new purchases with plastic while you’re paying down your debt, he said.

Your debt level is an important metric in determining your “creditworthiness.”

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, most lenders like to see a debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent or less to qualify borrowers for their most favorable interest rates.3

To calculate your ratio, add up your monthly debt payments and divide that figure by your gross monthly income.

3. How’s your emergency fund?

The mid-year check-up is also an opportune time to be sure your rainy day fund is up to snuff, said Willie Schuette, a financial professional with JL Smith Group in Avon, Ohio, in an interview.

Most financial professionals recommend having three to six month's worth of living expenses set aside in a liquid, interest bearing account, such as a money market fund or savings account, for life’s little emergencies, but you may need up to a year’s worth of expenses socked away if you are self-employed, your job security is tenuous, or your family is dependent upon a single breadwinner, he said. (Learn more: Emergency fund basics)

If you don’t have a fund, or haven’t saved enough, no sweat. Set an attainable goal and start contributing monthly, while continuing to fund your retirement and pay down debt, until you reach your goal.

Depending on your circumstances, you might also consider using these sultry summer days to score a few income-earning gigs, such as housesitting, dog walking, helping people move, painting houses, having a garage sale, or selling bottled water (as permitted by local laws) at outdoor events. With a little creativity and hard work, you could potentially have a fully funded rainy day account before the cooler temperatures descend this fall.

4. Monitor your spending

If your debt level has been stagnant since January or you’re finding it tough to meet your savings goals, put the next lazy day to good use and get your budget under control.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling suggests consumers, regardless of their financial position, track their spending for at least 30 days to get a better sense of where their money is going, highlight areas of waste, and establish better saving habits.4

“Write down every cent you spend, and then put your spending into categories,” the NFCC suggested in its guidelines on mid-year financial planning. “At this point you can make conscious decisions regarding how you want to spend moving forward.” (Related: Budget basics)

Look for opportunities to liberate cash flow by halting memberships in clubs you don’t use, slashing your cable bill, and swapping one trip per year for a staycation.

Remember, too, that your disposable income (or spending money) is what’s left over after you fund your long-term financial goals, such as saving for a down payment on a house and saving for retirement.

Most financial professionals recommend saving 10 to 15 percent of your annual salary for retirement. That’s easiest done by “paying yourself first” through automated deferrals at work.

If you are consistently unable to save what you need to secure your future, you may be living beyond your means, which means more drastic measures may be in order, including downsizing to less expensive housing.

5. Tackle your taxes

Most of us only pay attention to taxes in December, when it’s too late to implement many of the most effective tax-saving strategies. If you meet with your tax professional now, however, you can potentially still maximize deductions and prevent future penalties.

Specifically, financial experts and tax professionals routinely suggest taxpayers check their withholding to be sure they’re on track to pay what they owe and nothing more. Withhold too much and you’ll get a refund when you file your return next year, but you will also miss out on an opportunity to invest that money for compounded growth or use it to reduce your debt. By overpaying monthly, you effectively give the government an interest-free loan.

By contrast, if you owed money in prior years, financial professionals commonly advise that you should consider reducing your withholding allowances now, which will result in a lower monthly paycheck but may result in either a slight refund or zero tax liability next spring. Ask your human resources department for a new W-4 form to facilitate the change.

Online calculators and tax preparation firms offer basic guidance on how many withholding allowances you may want to take to maximize your tax refund, or your take-home pay, but a tax or financial professional can provide personalized expertise.

Look, too, for opportunities to maximize charitable deductions, begin harvesting investment losses to offset current year capital gains, and spend down your Flexible Spending Account (FSA). FSAs are funded with pre-tax dollars and can be used to help pay for qualified medical and dependent care expenses, but any money not used by year-end gets forfeited.

“It’s a use it or lose it account so if you’re not about halfway through your account at this point in the year start looking for ways to ramp up your eligible spending by scheduling doctor’s visits and making vision appointments,” said Schuette.

Similarly, to avoid a current year penalty, self-employed individuals should be sure they’re making their required estimated quarterly tax payments, and are on track to pay either 90 percent of what they will owe for this year or at least as much as they owed last year, whichever is less.5

The year is still young for retirement savers, borrowers, and taxpayers who are serious about getting their financial house in order. By examining your finances or working closely with a financial professional, you can potentially use the remaining months of the year to maximize your 2019 tax deductions, eliminate debt, and develop a saving and spending plan that will help you meet both your short- and long-term financial goals.

This article was originally published in June 2018. It

Monday, May 23, 2022

Best 25 Small Business Ideas in Texas for 2022

Written by: Rupak Chakrabarty

Do you want to start a business in the state of Texas in the United States but are not sure about which one to start? If yes, read this article and check out our selected list of most profitable small business ideas in Texas.

The Intensive growth of eleven major industries has created a fantastic environment for franchise business opportunities in Texas. These major industries are mining, construction, manufacturing, trade, Transportation, Utilities, Financial Activities, Professional and Business Services, Education and Health Services, Leisure and Hospitality, and Other Services.

Travel is also an important industry in Texas, and the state is a favorite destination for both domestic and international visitors. Tourism revenues provide significant economic benefits for the Texas economy.

List of 25 Best Business Ideas in Texas

Here is a list of the best businesses to start in Texas with little money:

1. Start an Online Business

If you are looking to make money from the comfort of your home, an online business is a perfect fit. A lot of individuals in Texas make full-time decent earnings through certain online businesses. It can be running a blog, promoting products through affiliate marketing, tutoring, freelance writing, selling courses, and many more.

2. Fitness Center

There is a widespread problem of obesity in Texas. The problem is more observed in children. If you are already a fitness trainer, starting a fitness center is an obvious option. Even you are not, you can talk to the federal association of Professional Trainers and learn from them the requirements to be a fitness trainer.

3. Barber Shop

If you are in the hairstyling industry, consider starting a barbershop in Texas. There is a good demand for professional barber professionals here.
4. Hardware Store

A Hardware store can be a profitable business in Texas. This business requires low startup capital and can be started by anyone as it requires no specific skills. You can also open an online store in order to scale up.

5. Mobile Food Truck

If you enjoy cooking, the mobile truck business can be an ideal business for you. You can hire a vehicle and start selling your food items in the busy commercial areas in various cities of Texas.
6. Coffee Shop

Though a number of coffee shops are seen in plenty in cities like Houston, Dallas, and Austin, there is still a wide scope of establishing a profitable coffee shop business. You need to create an innovative theme-based coffee shop to attract local people in Texas.

7. Beauty Salon

The salon industry has progressed in Texas manifold in recent years. There are many types of salons you can start with. It can be a beauty salon, hair salon, day spa, etc.

8. Electronic Gadget Repairing

If you are good at repairing electronic gadgets like smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc starting a gadget repairing shop is surely going to make decent profits in Texas.

9. Cleaning & Maintenance

A lot many people look for cleaning services in Texas. There are many services you can provide to customers like home cleaning, carpet cleaning, window cleaning, garbage removal, etc.

10. Day Care

There is a good demand for professional daycare centers here in this state. If you enjoy spending time with kids, starting a daycare business will not only give you satisfaction but also a good income opportunity.

11. Tutoring

If you are a teacher or specialized in certain subjects or subjects, parents in Texas will not mind paying more for your services to their child. You can start a tutoring business right from your home.

12. Pet Store

The pet store business has grown in Texas in recent years. You can provide services like pet daycare, pet raining, etc.

13. Open a Fast Food Restaurant in Texas

Fast Food restaurant in Texas is perhaps the most happening food-related business in this state. If you have a retail space with good footfall, starting a fast food restaurant is always a profitable business opportunity here.

14. Recycling Business

There is a good demand for recycling services in Texas. You can start a small recycling plant and process used waste materials like plastic, scrap metals, paper, glass, and many more.

After processing, you can sell those usable materials to manufacturers and other buyers. This is not only a very profitable business but also a rewarding one as you contribute to cleaning the environment at large.

15. Gift Shop

If you go around the state of Texas, you will find a lot of gift shops in cities like Houston, Dallas, and Austin. There is still a wide scope for new gift shops as the demand is much more than the supply.

16. Appliance Repairing Business

Appliance repairing is another inflation-free business you can start in Texas. If you have some experience in repairing certain kinds of appliances, this business can surely fetch you good returns as there will be no dearth of customers.

17. Small Construction Company

If you have some experience in the construction field, Texas is a good place to launch a small-scale construction company. However, you will need a reasonable investment to start this business.

18. Open a Real Estate Business in Texas

People in most cities in Texas, always look for good and affordable accommodation facilities. People having good communication skills can consider starting a real estate brokerage firm.

19. Legal Consultancy Services

Legal professionals are in high demand in Texas. If you have experience in law, starting a legal consultancy firm is a good option.

20. Digital Marketing Agency

Like any other place in the United States, almost every company in Texas takes a lot of interest in promoting products or services online. People having experience in the digital industry can start a digital marketing agency here in this part of the world.
21. Open a Laundromat Business in Texas

Laundry is an all-season business all across the globe. And so is in Texas. Furthermore, one does not need much investment to open a laundromat business.

22. Pool Cleaning & Maintenance

There is a big demand for pool cleaning professionals in Texas. However, unless you have previous experience in the industry, it would be difficult to be successful.

23. Recruitment Service

As the city is a hub of many small and big companies, there is always a demand for recruiting employees. It is without saying, People having past experience in the industry will have added advantage in the recruitment business.

24. Provide Assisted Living Facility Services in Texas

The demand for facilities for elderly and disabled people is growing in Texas. As a matter of fact, the US Census estimates 20% of the population in 2050 to be aged 65 and more. It is therefore, we can easily say that the business of assisted living facilities has a bright future.

25. Medical Billing

Everybody knows that medical centers, hospitals, and practitioners bill patients for a wide range of services. It can be health check-ups, testing, surgeries, and many more. The job of a medical biller is to process those bills and follow up with insurance companies for claim settlement. If you have some experience in medical billing processes, it is no doubt a profitable business to start in Texas.

How to Start a Business in Texas

  • If you are looking forward to starting a business in Texas, there are certain legal steps you need to follow.Decide on a Business Structure – It can be a DBA, LLC, or a Corporation.
  • Appoint a Registered Agent for company formation and filing purposes.
  • Pick a Business Name – Check the name with US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and also search whether a relevant business domain name is available or not.
  • Register the Business – Check top LLC service providers in the United States.
  • Obtain your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN or “EIN”)
  • Register for Taxes – The Comptroller of Public Accounts handles state tax filings.
  • Create a Business Bank Account.
  • Get licenses and permits required to conduct the chosen business.

As per the latest report from the official report from U.S Small Business Administration(SBA), at present, there are 2,627,724 small businesses operating in Texas. Furthermore, the percentage of small business companies out of the total business establishments is 99.78.

We therefore can easily conclude that the city of Texas is one of the places to start and run a business across the globe. We hope, this list of best business ideas and opportunities and startup guide will help you in launching your own company in Texas.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

American Leadership Forum Brochure (2022)


American Leadership Forum (ALF): Donation Opportunity

I’m thrilled to share that I’ve been accepted into the 2022 Class 56 of the American Leadership Forum Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter, and I need your help to participate. My application was chosen from more than 230 applicants to fill one of the 26 slots open this year.

They were impressed with why I started STC Consulting: to increase business financial literacy among the Latino community. The higher the financial expertise, the higher the chances to thrive and impact the community.

This Leadership Forum is a prestigious opportunity for me to grow my mission to promote financial literacy and support Latino and other diverse small business owners in Houston.

How does it work?

The American Leadership Forum (ALF) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to join and strengthen diverse leaders to serve the common good.” Link:

This is a transformative 12-month leadership program designed to develop skills and knowledge in transformation dialogue, adaptive and collaborative leadership, emotional intelligence, and social change. The program also emphasizes inner reflection and personal growth as essential components of effective servant-focused leadership.

ALF provides the opportunity to broaden and strengthen my leadership so I can make a bigger impact by sharing my knowledge and expertise as an immigrant, woman, entrepreneur, executive, financial public speaker, role model, and more.

How can you help?

I have been awarded a partial scholarship, but I still must cover the balance of the tuition, which is: $5,000.00. So, I am asking you to make a tax-deductible donation toward this fundraising goal by Friday, June 24th, 2022. Choose the tier of giving that works best for you:

  • Platinum Donors of $500.00 or more will receive a 2-hr hour Financial Management Consultation (*).

  • Gold Donors of at least $250.00 will receive a 1-hr Financial Management Consultation (*).

  • Silver Donors of at least $100.00 will be invited to a 1-hr Zoom call for Questions & Answers on topics related to Financial Management and Business.

  • If you cannot give in these amounts, any amount will mean the world to me.

  • (*) In your consultations, we can work on budgets, financial goals for 2022, profit and loss forecasts, financial literacy, how to start a business, and many other key business financial topics.

How to donate?

  • You can go to the ALF donations form and be sure to include in the Special Instructions that you’re supporting me, Soledad Tanner. (**). This is a tax-deductible donation. If you donate directly to ALF, please send me a copy of your donation confirmation to thank you personally.

  • If you prefer to send the donation directly to me, that will work too. You can transfer using Zelle (You can find me with my mobile number (832) 998-2136 or my email address: or mail a check mail to: Soledad Tanner at 2503 Robinhood Dr. Suite # 150, Houston, TX 77005. This is not a tax-deductible donation.

You’ll support me in helping me share +30 years of experience helping small, medium, and large businesses start and scale widely—significantly to uplift minority communities.

Thank you in advance for your generosity! I sincerely appreciate it!! Muchas gracias,

Soledad Tanner, MIB

The future of finance is sustainable—and profitable

The finance ecosystem—clients and employees, shareholders and stakeholders—is striving for purpose and sustainability. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations are at the forefront of financial decisions, supported by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and increased awareness of the climate emergency.

Sustainable finance is sometimes referred to as green finance, but it’s not just about reducing emissions or preventing environmental damage.

  • Environmental concerns include air and water pollution, deforestation and biodiversity. More generally, they relate to how a company performs as a steward of nature.
  • Social factors reveal how well a company manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers and the communities with which it engages. Social issues vary from diversity in the workplace to human rights and labor standards across the supply chain.

The importance of sustainable finance was explained succinctly last year by James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley: “If we don’t have a planet, we’re not going to have a very good financial system.”

There is a sense of inevitability in the transition to green finance. Brian Deese, global head of sustainable investing at BlackRock, said the move to sustainable finance was out of “necessity” as well as “preference”. Mark Carney stated, “Companies that don’t adapt will go bankrupt without question.”

Recently, attitudes have started to change, and the private sector is beginning to take its commitment to the environment seriously. Even oil major Royal Dutch Shell Plc and mining giant Glencore Plc have set environmental targets for the first time.

Sustainability is now a global concern:

  • Thirty-one percent of American consumers say they have rewarded companies that are taking steps to reduce global warming by purchasing their products in the last year.
  • Twenty-one percent of American consumers say they have punished companies for opposing climate action by avoiding their products.
  • In a Unilever study, 21 percent of the people surveyed across five countries said they would actively choose brands if they made their sustainability credentials clearer on their packaging or in their marketing.
  • Shoppers say they feel better when they buy products that are sustainably produced (53 percent in UK, 78 percent in US, 88 percent in India).

Fjord crowdsources the trends that will shape the business and technology landscape over the next year. The 2020 trends identified ‘The Many Faces of Growth.’

Financial growth is no longer a firm’s sole performance metric. Non-financial objectives, particularly ESG criteria, are gaining traction. Consumers want companies to be mission-driven as well as focused on generating shareholder value.

This may explain the success of Patagonia. Since 1973, the outdoor-clothing retail chain estimated by Forbes to be worth $750 million in 2015 has donated over $185 million to environmental groups and conservation efforts, and invested a further $38 million in socially responsible companies.

“It’s time for a new capitalism—a more fair, equal and sustainable capitalism that actually works for everyone, and where businesses don’t just take from society, but truly give back and have a positive impact.”

–Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce

Investors want sustainability and financial performance

Banks and investment management companies are following the trend. BlackRock has launched a circular economy fund in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, with the goal of mitigating climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. The actively managed fund started with $20 million seed capital in October 2019, investing in companies that are adopters, enablers or beneficiaries of circular economy activities. Among them is Adidas, which is tackling the issue of plastic waste with a closed-loop production model.

“To be well-positioned for the future, businesses are acknowledging that their long-term value is increasingly linked to their principles, practices and impact on society.”

–Rachel Lord, Head of EMEA, BlackRock

NatWest Group’s corporate strategy is focused on purpose-led banking. New CEO Alison Rose has committed to environmental measures, such as becoming carbon net neutral in 2020 and carbon positive by 2025, as part of a wider initiative to become a more sustainable business. The not-for-profit A Blueprint for Better Business has co-created a framework, which sets out NatWest’s commitment to be a good corporate citizen and a “responsible and responsive employer.

”Sustainability makes business sense and lowers operational risk

Since the 1960s, the economist Milton Friedman argued that regulation and interference from “big government” would always damage the macro economy.1 Classical economic theory stated that the valuation of a company or asset should be predicated almost exclusively on the bottom line.

However, adherence to ESG criteria allows investors to avoid companies whose practices could signal a risk factor. BP’s 2010 oil spill and Volkswagen’s emissions scandal are just two examples of ESG failures that caused stock prices to plummet and resulted in billions of dollars in associated losses.

A 2014 study by Eccles et al. showed that companies that adopted ESG policies in the 1990s have outperformed those that did not. Using a matched sample of 180 US-based companies, 90 of which were classified as high-sustainability and another 90 as low-sustainability, the study showed that over an 18-year period the high-sustainability companies dramatically outperformed the low-sustainability ones in terms of both stock market and accounting performance.

This is corroborated by an Oxford University study, which finds a “remarkable correlation between diligent sustainability business practices and economic performance.” There seems to be little doubt that environmental, social and corporate governance responsibility is complementary to profitability and return on investment.

Sustainable firms attract and keep better skilled and more committed employees and have more loyal customers. Their stronger relationships with stakeholders mean, in turn, that their social license to operate is more secure.

In my next post, I’ll explore how companies can leverage data and technology to become more sustainable and profitable.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

You Just Turned 40: Here's Why Now Is The Time To Start A Company

Written by: Stephen Dalby

When we think of high-growth, venture-backed founders, we often think of young founders who weren’t a day over 22 when they started their companies. We think of people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

However, findings published by MIT have found that the average age of startup founders is actually 45. So, while some people may not realize it, those older than 40 can have great success starting their own companies. Rather than thinking it’s too late, here’s why 40 is a great time to start your business:

You have access to capital, both human and financial.

Normally when one thinks of capital, they automatically think of financial. While this is true, there are other forms of capital that are essential for starting a company, one being human capital.

This type of capital involves a deep network and long-standing partnerships that can help add structure, credibility and resources to the company you want to create. Younger entrepreneurs are less likely to have had the time to network and develop these important business relationships.

Time brings the ability to store up a greater amount of capital compared to someone in their 20s who has lived half as long. By capital, I don’t just mean financial capital, though you likely have managed to create more significant assets and have a better chance of bootstrapping your startup.

You know who you are and make good decisions because of it.

Much of our lives are spent trying to figure out who we are and what we want. As a midpoint in your life, your 40s often clarify some of those questions. A strong sense of self is valuable for business owners because it becomes much easier to determine what to delegate, how you can use your skills appropriately and how you can identify and select the right talent that fits your values and goals.

Just because I was older didn’t mean I had all the answers, so I found it extremely valuable to lean on others who had specific expertise that I may have been lacking. Being older and not having the fear of asking for help was extremely valuable for me.

You’re good at prioritizing work and life.

This is one of Clayton Christianson’s main points in his book How Will You Measure Your Life? He saw hundreds of people coming back with degrees from Harvard divorced and unhappy because they lacked the ability to prioritize well. Learning how to balance life takes time, and if you’re over 40, you’ve had some practice.

At 40, you probably have more responsibilities and demands. Depending on your own situation, you may have a family and numerous tasks outside of work that put more demands on your time than if you were in your 20s.

However, you also may have the wisdom, patience and maturity to better understand how to balance those tasks and responsibilities. For me, having a family as a support unit is a tremendous asset, not a hindrance to business success. They have given me the motivation, assistance and confidence to see my startup through and continue growing it into a flourishing business.

If you’re older than 40, now may be the right time to take the leap.

You may be the ideal candidate to become a startup founder if you are in your 40s. Remember, age is mostly just a number. No matter what age you are, you will need to consider those impacted by this decision, your financial position and your life goals. That’s why your mindset, as opposed to just your physical age, becomes a big part of how you approach the idea of starting a business.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Married mothers take on more housework even when they out-earn their husbands


Good morning, Broadsheet readers! President Biden chooses a nominee to serve as ambassador to Ukraine, Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter could affect the future of content moderation on the platform, and becoming a breadwinner comes with a caveat. Have a great Tuesday.

– Double duty. Changing gender norms around parenthood and work have allowed women to become breadwinners for their families. But some gender norms are particularly stubborn, as Joanna Syrda, a professor at the U.K.-based University of Bath School of Management recently discovered.

In her research, analyzing the relationship between spousal income and the division of housework between partners, Syrda examined more than 6,000 North American dual-earner, mixed-gender couples between 1999 and 2017. She found that as the gender pay gap closes between a husband and wife, the gender housework gap rises—with the woman taking on even more housework as she begins to outearn her husband. The surprising inverse correlation reflects deeply held beliefs about who should be a breadwinner and who should take care of the home, Syrda argues.

See the statistical analysis below from her study “Gendered Housework: Spousal Relative Income, Parenthood and Traditional Gender Identity Norms” published in the journal Work, Employment, and Society. The chart shows a mother’s housework decreasing from 18 to 14 hours a week as she goes from earning no income to about half the household income—and then ticking back up again to almost 16 hours as she exceeds her partner’s salary. The husband’s housework starts around six hours a week when he’s a father and the sole breadwinner, reaching a maximum of just under eight hours before declining as his wife takes on additional housework with her rising income.

It might sound counterintuitive that women breadwinners spend more time on household chores when they earn significantly more than their husbands—and worse still, the data doesn’t even account for gender gaps between time spent by mothers and fathers on childcare. Syrda speculates that heterosexual couples are, perhaps subconsciously, compensating for deviating from the male breadwinner norm. (Past research has shown that men are more likely to exhibit signs of “psychological distress” when their wife earns more money.)
“This is a non-traditional outcome in that she is earning more money than him,” Syrda says. “So to compensate for that, they [follow the norm] traditionally for housework.”

Syrda’s analysis brings to mind a 2019 study I covered for Fortune. Researchers found that married women did more housework than single moms—despite theoretically having a partner at home to share the load. They also found that “marriage remains a gendered institution that ratchets up the demand for housework and childcare through essentialist beliefs that women are naturally focused on home and hearth.”

The question, as Syrda frames it today, is what housework means to us. “Is housework just a sequence of tasks we perform?” she asks. “Or is it a way of constituting and enacting a gender?”

The combination of parenthood and marriage seems to be the defining element here: Syrda didn’t measure the same uptick in household chores for high-earning women who are not mothers. Similarly, the 2019 study focused on motherhood, measuring the difference in household chores for married and single mothers. Parenthood can have a “traditionalizing effect,” Syrda argues, causing even the most progressive of women to adjust their adherence to gender norms as they feel internal and external pressure to excel at motherhood.

By one measure, Syrda’s study could denote progress; there are enough women breadwinners in the dataset to come to these statistically significant conclusions. But it’s hard to celebrate women as their household’s primary financial provider when doing so comes with a performative obligation to do the dishes.

Emma Hinchliffe

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

What is sustainable finance and how it is changing the world

Written by: Douglas BroomSenior Writer, Formative Content

Sustainable finance offers higher returns for investors.
Image: UNSPLASH/Towfiqu Barbhuiya

  • Investors no longer face a choice between profit and saving the planet.
  • Sustainable finance is prioritizing businesses that help the environment.
  • But it also focuses on inclusion and ethical business standards.

The drive to sustainability is transforming the way we live. But what is the impact on the way our savings and pensions are invested? Welcome to the world of sustainable finance.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations have come to dominate many investment decisions in recent years. Put simply, this means investing your money where it will make the world a better place.
What is sustainable finance

Sustainable investing covers a range of activities, from putting cash into green energy projects to investing in companies that demonstrate social values such as social inclusion or good governance by having, for example, more women on their boards.

Sustainable finance has a key role to play in the world’s transition to net zero by channelling private money into carbon-neutral projects, says the European Union, whose Green Deal Investment Plan aims to raise $1.14 trillion to help pay the cost of making Europe net zero climate change emissions by 2050.

To ensure that sustainable investments deliver on their promises, global accounting body the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation has just set up the International Sustainability Standards Board to come up with new rules to validate sustainability claims.
Sustainable finance provides better returns

As well as helping the planet and making society fairer and more inclusive, evidence is mounting that sustainable businesses actually offer higher returns for investors.

Companies with sustainable practices are now proving better stock market picks.
Image: Fidelity

A study conducted for asset manager Fidelity tracked the performance of a range of ESG investments worldwide between 1970 and 2014 and found that half of them outperformed the market. Only 11% showed negative performance.

Analysis by BlackRock – the world’s biggest asset management company – found that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, more than eight out of 10 sustainable investment funds performed better than share portfolios not based on ESG criteria.

Investment funds built on ESG principles are bringing in the best returns.
Image: BlackRock

As well as paying higher dividends to shareholders, companies with high ESG ratings have also enjoyed stronger increases in their share price in the past five years, according to research by financial website Morningstar.

This matters because most stock market investments are made by financial institutions such as pension funds. In the United States, 80% of listed equity in leading companies is held by organizations that are looking after other people’s money.

While individuals may choose to earn a lower rate of return to save the planet, institutional investors and pension fund trustees don’t have that luxury. They must abide by what is known as a fiduciary duty to act in the best financial interest of investors.

But rising returns on sustainable assets mean trustees no longer have to sacrifice sustainability for profit. The World Economic Forum’s Transformational Investment report cites the example of New Zealand’s state pension fund, the trustees of which argued that climate change posed a risk to their ability to fund pensions and switched to a sustainable finance strategy. The fund has outperformed comparable investments by 1.24% a year since its inception in 2003 – a total difference of $7.24 billion (NZD10.65 billion).

But why do ESG-friendly investments do better than conventional investments?
Outperformance explained

One factor is changing customer attitudes. A study in the US found that two-thirds of consumers of all ages prefer to buy from companies that share their values. Among millennials – people aged between 18 and 34 – that figure rises to 83%.

Consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from a brand with a corporate purpose they endorse, according to a global survey. But if a company does something they disagree with, three-quarters said they stopped buying from that brand and encouraged others to do the same.

Carbon-intensive industries such as coal, oil and gas are also finding it harder and more expensive to raise capital as leading lenders refuse to do business with them.

In contrast, sustainable companies are more likely to win contracts, save costs by using fewer resources, have less regulation, retain the best people and avoid losing money on old carbon-intensive processes, according to research by McKinsey.

Global companies took in a record $859 billion in sustainable investments in 2021, Reuters reported, including $481.8 billion in green bonds that raised money for specific environmental projects.

And the level of sustainable finance is only set to grow. The total value of ESG investments is on track to exceed $53 trillion by 2025, accounting for more than a third of all global investments, according to analysis by Bloomberg.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

STC Financial Management & Business Consulting. 6th Anniversary

STC 6th Anniversary!

As we celebrate our 6th anniversary, we want to THANK our favorite clients and friends for your support and business. We truly enjoy working with you and feel honored to be your chosen Financial Management & Business Consulting firm. Your business is much appreciated, and we will do our very best to continue to meet and exceed your Financial needs. WE ARE HERE FOR YOU!

If you know someone who needs the expertise we provide, we'd love to meet them. Thank you for being part of our journey.

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Friday, April 1, 2022

The 3 Things Employees Really Want: Career, Community, Cause

Writen by Lori Goler, Janelle Gale, Brynn Harrington, and Adam Grant (Harvard Business Review)

Strike up a conversation about work values, and it won’t be long before someone brings up a pyramid — a famous psychologist’s best-known theory. Abraham Maslow’s big idea was that we all have a hierarchy of needs: once our basic physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, we seek love and belongingness, then self-esteem and prestige, and finally self-actualization. But that pyramid was built more than half a century ago, and psychologists have recently concluded that it’s in need of renovation.

When you review the evidence from the past few decades of social science, it’s hard to argue with Maslow’s starting point. If your basic needs aren’t met, it’s hard to focus on anything else. If you have a job that doesn’t pay enough, and you’re up all night worrying about survival, chances are you won’t spend much time dwelling on self-actualization.

But Maslow built his pyramid at the dawn of the human relations movement, when so many workplaces in the manufacturing economy didn’t have basic physiological and safety needs covered. Today more companies are operating in knowledge and service economies. They’re not just fulfilling basic needs; they’re aiming to fulfill every need, providing conveniences like meals and gyms, and competing to be the best places to work (from 1984 through 2011, those that won outperformed their peers on stock returns by 2.3% to 3.8% per year). In those environments, survival isn’t in question.

And once you get past that layer of the pyramid, the rest of it falls apart. People don’t need to be loved before they strive for prestige and achievement. And they don’t wait for those needs to be fulfilled before pursuing personal growth and self-expression.

If Maslow were designing his pyramid from scratch today to explain what motivates people at work, beyond the basics, what would it look like? That’s a question we set out to answer at Facebook, in collaboration with our people analytics team.

We survey our workforce twice a year, asking what employees value most. After examining hundreds of thousands of answers over and over again, we identified three big buckets of motivators: career, community, and cause.

Career is about work: having a job that provides autonomy, allows you to use your strengths, and promotes your learning and development. It’s at the heart of intrinsic motivation.

Community is about people: feeling respected, cared about, and recognized by others. It drives our sense of connection and belongingness.

Cause is about purpose: feeling that you make a meaningful impact, identifying with the organization’s mission, and believing that it does some good in the world. It’s a source of pride.

These three buckets make up what’s called the psychological contract — the unwritten expectations and obligations between employees and employers. When that contract is fulfilled, people bring their whole selves to work. But when it’s breached, people become less satisfied and committed. They contribute less. They perform worse.

In the past, organizations built entire cultures around just one aspect of the psychological contract. You could recruit, motivate, and retain people by promising a great career or a close-knit community or a meaningful cause. But we’ve found that many people want more. In our most recent survey, more than a quarter of Facebook employees rated all three buckets as important. They wanted a career and a community and a cause. And 90% of our people had a tie in importance between at least two of the three buckets.

Wondering whether certain motivators would jump out for particular people or places, we broke the data down by categories. We started with age.

There’s a lot of talk about how different Millennials are from everyone else, but we found that priorities were strikingly similar across age groups.

Contrary to the belief that Millennials are more concerned with meaning and purpose, we found that younger people cared slightly less about cause — and slightly more about career — than older people. In fact, people ages 55 and above are the only group at Facebook who care significantly more about cause than about career and community. This tracks with evidence that around mid-life, people become more concerned about contributing to society and less focused on individual career enhancement.

But overall, the differences between age groups were tiny. And that’s not just true at Facebook. In a nationally representative study of Americans across generations, Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Gen Xers had the same core work values — and tended to rank them in the same order of importance. As we’ve said before, Millennials want essentially the same things as the rest of us.

We also didn’t see any major differences by level, or by performance reviews: people valued these three motivators whether they were exceeding, meeting, or falling short of expectations. And when we compared office locations, it was clear that career, community, and cause were all prized around the globe.

Finally, we turned to function. “If it weren’t for the people,” Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “the world would be an engineer’s paradise.” Survey says: false. Our engineers care a lot about community, giving it an average rating of 4.18 on a 1-5 scale. And just as we saw with age and location, across functions people rated career, community, and cause as similarly important.

“To know what one really wants,” Maslow argued, “is a considerable psychological achievement.” Our data suggest that people are very clear on what they want at work — and they fundamentally want the same things. When it comes to an ideal job, most of us are looking for a career, a community, and a cause. These are important motivators whether you’re 20 or 60, working in engineering or sales, in Luleå or São Paulo or Singapore or Detroit. We’re all hoping to find a what, a who, and a why.