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News that impacts your business. Collected by biztips staff with you in mind.

The business road ahead

U.S. economy looks set to keep expanding

LEADING ECONOMIC INDICATORS suggest the U.S. economy will continue expanding at a solid pace for the remainder of this year.

That's the assessment of The Conference Board, a global, independent business membership and research association.

Its Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.6 percent in July to 110.7 (2016 = 100), following a 0.5 percent increase in June, and a 0.1 percent increase in May.

"The strengths among the components of the leading index were very widespread, with unemployment claims, the financial components, and the ISM New Orders Index making the largest positive contributions," said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board.

• The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.K. decreased 0.2 percent in June 2018 to 96.7 (2016=100).


Annual home sales up nearly 2 percent

JULY HOME SALES rose 1.8 percent year-over-year, making it the second month of 2018 to post a sales increase year-over-year, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report.

In the July 2018 report, 37 of the report's 54 metro areas posted sales increases over July 2017. April was the first month of 2018 where more homes were sold than the same month in 2017. The report also marks the 28th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases.

The Median Sales Price of $250,575 was up 4.4 percent from July 2017, and represents the third-highest price in report history—topped only by May and June of this year. Months Supply of Inventory was at 2.9 —the smallest total ever recorded for July.

"Because we've faced challenging inventories and increasing home prices for some time now, a seasonal slowdown that rebalances the market a bit might actually be a positive in the months ahead," said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. "It could level affordability to some extent and create more opportunity for buyers who've been priced out of hot markets.

New system significantly cuts check fraud

CHECK FRAUD is one of the most common forms of fraud, accounting for 35 percent of industry fraud losses. And with the growing popularity of new deposit channels – particularly mobile deposit – fraudulent deposits to exploit paper checks are on the rise again.

To combat check fraud across all deposit channels, Advanced Fraud Solutions (AFS) and payment processing provider Alogent formed a strategic partnership to provide a real-time, omnichannel check fraud solution for financial institutions.

As a result, two of the first credit unions to implement the solution experienced a significant reduction in check fraud losses as well as improved member experience associated with better check decisioning.

"When check fraud hits a credit union, it's the members who are ultimately defrauded," said Carol Nault, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Summit Credit Union (Greensboro, NC), who participated in the case study. "After implementing TrueChecks, the rate of checks returned due to NSF decreased nearly 50 percent. In our experience, adding additional fraud protection tools and applying the same standards across capture points can significantly reduce check fraud losses."

"Check fraud is a persistent threat to banks and credit unions," said Ted Kirk, Director of Industry Partnerships, Advanced Fraud Solution. "By partnering with Alogent, we were able to create significant fraud savings for our mutual customers, providing them with an integrated, real-time check fraud solution that addresses both in-branch and remote deposit capture points."

Click here to view the complete case study.

Medical services forecast to  reach $3.1 trillion in four years

US DEMAND for medical services is forecast to reach $3.1 trillion in 2021, according to Medical Services: United States, a report recently released by Freedonia Focus Reports.

Providers of medical services are expected to benefit from continued growth in consumer incomes, government healthcare spending, and the number of acute and chronic conditions, driven by an aging population. Faster gains in value terms will be limited by government and insurance company efforts to curb growth in healthcare costs.

Notably, spending for home healthcare services is projected to exhibit the most rapid growth among discrete segments to 2021. The lower costs associated with home healthcare services relative to nursing homes and the desire of many persons to remain in their homes are expected to drive spending. In addition, the growing elderly population is projected to boost demand.

More information.

Bad working conditions lead to unhappy workers, survey finds

ARE YOU causing stress and losing productivity among your workers because of inadequate working conditions?

Almost all American workers polled recently say an inadequate workplace can cause their mental well-being and productivity to suffer.

The study, conducted for National Business Furniture, found that 92 percent of American workers over 18 said that dissatisfaction with their physical workplace affected their mood, stress levels, performance and happiness.

The main complaints were:

  • Cluttered work area

    Nearly two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) say having a cluttered work area would make them unhappy; this is especially true among employed women (70 percent) compared with men (55 percent).
  • Outdated technology

    Having to use outdated technology is a close second (61 percent) in driving workplace discontent; in fact, more than one in four respondents (32 percent) say having multiple computer monitors is critical to workplace happiness.
  • Poor workspace ergonomics

    More than half of respondents (54 percent) say an uncomfortable workspace or chair would cause them displeasure.
  • Lack of privacy and flexibility

    Forty-three percent of employed Americans say not having a private space would affect their mental wellness; one in four (25 percent) value flexible areas to work away from their usual workspaces.

"Many of us who work full-time spend the majority of our day at our desk or work station, so it's not surprising that layout and design has a major effect on our mood," said Dean Stier, chief marketing officer for NBF.

Other findings:

Women are more likely than men (60 vs. 49 percent) to say an uncomfortable working environment would cause them to be unhappy.

Millennials are more likely to admit their physical workspace has an impact on their anxiety levels (47 vs. 38 percent).


Companies are failing to assess risks of new technology

WHILE COMPANIES are increasing their focus on emerging technologies to help transform their businesses, many are not assessing the risks that come with their adoption, according to KPMG LLP's Tech Risk Management Survey.

Nearly half of the 200 senior IT risk management executives surveyed whose companies have adopted mobile applications and devices have not included them in recent IT risk assessments.

"Change and disruption has never moved faster and the speed of technology deployment is critical, but it can't be at the enterprise's expense," said Phil Lageschulte, Leader of Global IT Advisory Services for KPMG.  "Tech risk management should anticipate changes while or before they happen and determine the associated risks. Accordingly, tech risk management should be involved in strategic business planning, embedding the risks and adding value upfront."

For more information: KPMG Tech Risk Management Survey Report: Disruption is the New Norm.



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