Faster & Greener: The Advantages of Modular Construction

Modular construction today doesn’t resemble the temporary trailers and mobile homes of the past.  There are now countless applications for modular construction solutions, both for permanent housing and for commercial and industrial space.  Modular construction is fast becoming the construction method of choice in some regions and industries, and for good reason.  Here are the financial and environmental advantages of using this building method, whose popularity is taking hold around the globe.

Faster Construction Time

The way that we build homes hasn’t changed much in the past 40-50 years. Unfortunately, the construction industry has been reluctant to embrace and adopt some technology advances. There are a few companies, however, like ConXtech that are shaking up the industry with their new approach to modular construction, which is proven to save significant project time.

New modular construction technology allows architects to design a new building using software like AutoCAD or Revit, the auto-populate their design with steel framing sizes to create a “dimensionally accurate model of the frame early in the design phase.”

Once the structural design is ready, data files are exported to the CNC machines manufacture building components. The components are then assembled on site, with the entire process saving months over traditional construction methods. Multiple tradesmen can ready their parts and components simultaneously, using the dimensionally accurate model as a guide.

Lower Project Costs

These faster build times reduce overall labor costs on projects and make buildings ready for occupancy sooner, which becomes a revenue base for a commercial property.  Modular construction is also more precise, so there is less materials waste, which reduces the overall project cost.

Better Quality Control

One of the reasons that modular construction is gaining in popularity is the assurance of a quality product every time.  The manufacturing process itself is standardized with tight quality control to ensure the best product.  Unlike traditional construction projects that are exposed to the elements, modular construction takes place in a controlled environment, where problems like warped materials can be eliminated.

Customizable Designs

Increasingly, modular construction and design companies are able to customize projects to tailor the building to the client’s exact specifications.  The use of AutoCAD in design makes it simple for companies to make adjustments that require extra space or to customize a room for multipurpose use.

Durable Materials

Modular buildings are constructed with the most durable materials available, ensuring that each structure is built to last.  Materials are carefully selected to be economical, lightweight, safe, and durable.  Modular structures are also constructed to be airtight, which ensures their energy-efficiency.

Less Environmental Impact

There are several ways that modular construction benefits the environment.  Many modular construction buildings are built with eco-friendly materials, and this mode of construction is a market leader in the use of recycled materials.

Because modular buildings are constructed in an assembly line environment, the process uses less energy than traditional construction.  As we stated before, there is also less waste.  Many modular construction facilities also store their unused materials and recycle them for use in future projects.

Modular construction offers a more sustainable solution for both residential and commercial development.  These innovative designs are delivering environmentally-friendly projects that don’t sacrifice quality or style. Not only does this method of building bring projects to completion faster, but they will also come in at a lower price tag and last longer than those built with traditional construction methods.

Top Schools To Become A CFA

Are you considering pursuing your CFA alongside your bachelor’s or master’s degree? While CFA self-study materials are highly helpful, you may consider a school that will allow you to study for the CFA alongside your other degree. Here are some of the top schools for CFA certification:

Cornell University: Well known for its MBA program, Cornell University offers the opportunity for a CFA study program. Before attending, you should consider your options, CFA vs CPA certification. One may be a better fit than the other depending on your future career goals. Even with a university such as Cornell, you may still need to invest in CFA self-study materials.

IE Business School: Located in Madrid, Spain, this school gives you the opportunity to live abroad as you obtain your MBA and work through your CFA self-study materials. Madrid is a beautiful, historic city, and if you apply yourself, you can certainly pick up Spanish, and have a chance to network with the international business community.

Indiana University Bloomington: Located in Indiana, the university offers an MBA and a BS in Business along with the CFA study program. While pursuing multiple disciplines is challenging, it is certainly manageable.

Tulane University: Located in New Orleans, Tulane holds a strong reputation in the area of finance and can help you get connected with a variety of firms after graduation. You will still need to work hard to establish yourself, but having a well-connected network is always helpful.

There are many well rated schools both in the US and abroad that offer CFA certification alongside other areas of study. Websites like Crush The CFA Exam will help give you the training material to help pass your classes and the final CFA exam.  The school you choose will vary depending on your areas of study and other things that you may want to accomplish. The best course of action is to start with your specific list of goals and look for the top rated schools that meet your specific qualifications.

Do you own a small business? Here are 10 questions you should be asking your insurance agent.

If you own a small business one of your largest expenses is commercial insurance.  In most states general liability and workers’ compensation are required by law.  Other coverages are dependent upon the industry you operate in and the amount of risk your business is willing to take on.  There are many aspects that go in to this decision and partnering with a trusted and experienced independent insurance agent can help you save immensely on commercial insurance.  Taking some extra time to speak with this agent about all aspects of your business is important as well.  Here are 10 questions you should ask any potential insurance agent.

What is your experience and do you have any credentials? 

Experience and credentials can be used not only as a litmus test, but they can tell you a little about the experience and the knowledge of your broker.  You should not discredit a young or inexperienced agent automatically.  An agent with limited experience can make up for that with enthusiasm and energy.  A more established agent might not be as hungry for your new business and as a result they may not give you the specialized attention you need. The main thing is to get to know your broker beyond the basic information on her card or website.

Do you personalize policies?

Depending upon your industry this can be extremely important.  Many insurance carriers offer cookie cutter business owner packages and they do not deviate from those packages.  This is good for some businesses because carriers have insight through their history of claims what policies each industry may or may not need.  If you are a start-up or you have no employees this may not be necessary.  For instance, if you are a photographer who works from home you may not have a need for workers compensation coverage.  If you are in another industry where you do not own or operate any vehicles you do not need commercial auto.  Some agencies and carriers are more flexible with you when it comes to adding or subtracting coverages.  This is important to know before you purchase coverages you do not need.

Are there flexible payment options?

Pay as You Go Workers Comp Insurance Coverage is one option that can help businesses pay for their coverage monthly based on payroll instead of in one lump sum.  Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation benefits businesses by freeing up cash for more immediate business needs, by preventing over or under paying and by drastically lowering the likelihood of a mid-term audit by your insurance carrier.  This is especially helpful for cash strapped or seasonal businesses.

How much does my policy cover?

What you are actually asking your agent is, “What are my policy limits?” A limit is the total amount your policy can pay out. For General Liability Policies there are two ways in which limits are paid:  Aggregate limit is the most your policy will pay in a single year for all claims.  Occurrence limit is the amount your policy can pay for any single claim.  Which type of policy you want for your business really depends on the types of risks you face and how much risk you are willing to take on.  Taking on more risk will help lower your premium, but will make you have to foot more of the bill when a claim does occur.  This is why it is important to take some extra time to speak long and honestly with your agent about your business and what types of risks you are comfortable with.

Can I get more coverage?

An Umbrella Insurance Policy is the best way to supplement your General Liability Coverage.  This policy will kick in when the limits of your other policies have been reached. You can purchase Umbrella coverage in increments of $1 million, and it’s often a cost-effective way to fulfill liability insurance requirements in client contracts.  It is crucial to understand that an umbrella policy only kicks in for a covered loss.  If you live somewhere with a common risk of natural disasters, like hurricanes or tornadoes, those disasters have to be covered separately. An umbrella policy will not kick if the claim is not covered by the initial policy.

Is it worth my time to implement an in-depth safety program?

The simple answer to this question is yes, it is always worth your time and effort to implement and effective safety program.  Having a safety program in place will cut down on the number and severity of injuries to your workforce.  The safety of your workforce should always be at the heart of your businesses mission.  A healthy workforce is a happy and productive workforce.  This program can also keep down what your business pays for workers compensation premium.   The program does not have to be excessively time consuming.  Including this in a weekly or monthly huddle can make a difference in the injury outcomes of your employees.

Do I really need Commercial Auto Insurance?

The answer to this question really depends on the operations of your business.  If you own and operate cars as a part of your daily business than yes, you absolutely need commercial auto coverage.  If you have employees who use their own cars for work or who drive rental cars from time to time you can cover them with a hired and non-owned auto policy.  If you have employees who drive their own car as part of their job duties, their personal auto policies will cover the damages to their car, but not the liability to other cars if the accident is there fault.  That liability falls on the business because the reason the car was at the location of the accident was because of an action of the business.

Do I really need Cyber Insurance?

Again this policy completely depends on the operations of your business.  It is important to speak long and honestly with your insurance agent about all of the electronic devices any of your employees use.  There may be risks hiding in places you might not realize.  The great thing about a good insurance agent is that they not only interact with small businesses when they purchase insurance for their business, but they also speak with business owners when bad things happen.  They can use those experiences to help you prepare for those times when bad things happen to your business. They should be able to prepare you for risks you do not even know you face.

Am I classified properly for workers’ compensation?

This is extremely important for your business cash flow. Especially, if you operate in an industry with several different areas of operation.  If you do, you need to ensure the agent classifies your business properly.  They are in the business of analyzing risk.  If you do not tell them all of your risks, then it is in their best interest to assume your business is taking on more risk.  If you do not give your agent enough information they may place your business in a riskier classification code.  This can have an enormous impact on what you pay for general liability and workers compensation insurance.   Taking just a few extra minutes to explain exactly what your business does and does not do, can save you immensely when it comes to premium.

How can I lower my premium?

If lowering your premium is a priority than tell that to your agent.  Agents interacting with a lot of people who operate in a lot of different industries and who have a lot of different priorities.  Some business owners just want their policy and they want it quickly so they can get back to running their business. To that business owner price may not be at the top of their priority list.  Other business owners may want to insure their business to the absolute largest limits possible, while other business owners are comfortable taking on more risk.  Where ever you are on this spectrum, tell that to your agent.  Let them know what is important to you and they can better serve your needs.

Bio

Mitchell Sharp is a Marketing Associate for Workers Compensation Shop.com. Mitchell is a Missouri Boy and a Carolina Man. He has a deep passion for social media and content marketing. Mitchell would like to use his knowledge of these subjects to benefit small business owners.

How to Decide Whether You Should Hire a Financial Advisor

With the onset of the New Year and tax season quickly approaching, you may be wondering to yourself whether you can handle your finances on your own this year.  You may feel like you are in a precarious financial situation, or perhaps you just want to reap the most benefit out of your finances this year.  No matter the position you are in there is a financial advisor can offer services that can turn your life around. With the help of a financial advisor, you may find yourself reaching goals you never dreamed you could achieve. Here are a few reasons you may want to hire a financial advisor:

You Need Help Establishing Goals

If you have difficulty establishing and keeping goals for yourself, you are not alone.  A financial advisor is essentially a coach who is schooled in helping reach your goals.  If you have an idea in mind, such as lowering your debt, a financial advisor can collect data on our accounts and create a feasible plan to help you get through it.  Likewise, if you are looking to create your own business or buy a house in the foreseeable future, an advisor will create a plan for you to make that happen.  Financial advisors see the “big picture.” They are able to project what you can achieve based on factors like your current status and even the state of the local or national market.

You Need Someone to Hold You Accountable

Let’s face it: some of us get a little more spend-happy than others.  Not everyone is money-minded, and that is okay.  If this sounds like you, using a financial advisor as a resource can help you with your monthly and yearly expenditure.  They will show you how to budget, how much you can and need to save, how to set up an emergency fund, and a whole host of other useful bits of knowledge that can keep your spending in check.  Some people may find that the presence of a financial advisor in their life is enough motivation to stay within spending boundaries and help with personal budgeting.

You’ve Experienced a Life-Changing Event

Whether you have lost your job, experienced the death of a spouse, have taken on elderly parents, or you or someone depends on you experiences health issues, there are times in your life where you will experience change.  Ease the burden of anxiety, depression, and frustration, by hiring an advisor to keep your budget in check.  No matter how complicated the situation, an advisor will be with you every step of the way to keep you motivated to push through to the other side in good financial shape.

You Can’t Navigate a Low Market

Markets rise and fall—for better or worse, it is a fact of life.  Do not feel overwhelmed that you do not understand the green and red numbers that tick across the New York Stock Exchange queue every day, a lot of people are right there with you!  Fortunately, a financial advisor’s forward-thinking skills can help devise a strategy to put you in a secure position should something happen.

Basic Education in Stocks, Bonds, and Investment

Maybe you are looking to expand and strengthen your assets.  You can go about it alone and educate yourself on the way, but some find it useful to consult with an expert.  As mentioned before, financial advisors are trained to see the big picture.  They can look beyond your budget and see big investment opportunities that you may be in the position to take advantage of.  If you are interested in buying real estate, owning stocks, or researching other investment opportunities, speak with an advisor to get expert advice on the topic to reap the most out of your endeavor.  On the other hand, you may not know all about the investments you already have.  For instance, you may not believe you pay into a 401(k) plan, but you certainly pay for the cost of the investments.  Sound confusing?  An advisor can put you at ease and lay everything out on the table for you so that you can understand.

Determine Your Needs

Before hiring a financial advisor, consider whether you need an analyst or accountant’s help. Financial advisors are well-suited for situations of investment options and money analysis. If you’re looking for help with tax resolution, a CPA might be the best bet. These individuals are well-versed in accounting practices and record keeping; they’ve taken rigorous CPA prep courses, passed the difficult CPA exam, and received their designation to practice accounting for the general public. Consider your needs before investing in financial assistance to ensure you make the right selection.

You need not feel at a loss to secure your finances, so invest in assistance to give you the confidence to move forward.

Surviving the Sandwich Years: Smart and Secure Financial Steps to Take in Your 40’s and 50’s

In the normal scheme of things, when you reach your 40’s or 50’s and have a family, you are most likely going to be looking at funding some college expenses for your children, and that need will be immediate or not so very far away.

Add in medical bills, helping them onto the housing ladder and funding a wedding, and you can soon see why this life period is often referred to as the sandwich years.

Developing a survival strategy

Different periods in your life will present changing financial challenges along with milestones in your career and personal life, so it makes sense to try and anticipate these events well in advance.

None of us ever knows exactly what the future holds, but if you have children for example, you can at least map out some financial events that are going to happen along the way.

There will always be some unexpected expenses, which is why resources like www.kingofkash.com/payday-loans are there to offer a short-term solution. One of the best strategies to employ if you can, is to have access to some cash reserves. In an ideal world, having access to anywhere between three and six months of monthly cash needs, should help you ride out most financial storms, but with everything else to pay, it is not always that easy to accumulate that sort of spare cash.

Another key point to remember that is often used in business, but applies to your personal financial planning too, is that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Not having some sort of financial plan and a list of priorities, could leave you exposed at key points in your life.

Every little helps

It is often surprising to see how even a small amount of money put away on a regular basis, can build into a decent pot of cash, before you know it.

One of the reasons why a lot of people don’t start building up their cash reserves and saving for the future, is that they don’t think they can put enough money aside to make it worthwhile.

Any amount of money put away regularly is going to help. Never think that you don’t have enough spare cash to justify starting some savings. Skipping on your regular coffee on the way to work each day for example, is one way of generating some extra cash. Simply put what you would have spent each week aside instead, and see how quickly that small sum can add up.

Make clearing debt a priority

The vast majority of us have some sort of debt obligations, some more than others of course.

Credit card debts, student loans and medical bills can all eat away at your financial stability and it would be a good idea to make clearing debt a priority, so that you can then put that monthly money to good use, by saving and making some investments that should help you to secure a better future.

A good strategy would be to work out exactly how much debt you currently have and how much spare cash each month to work with. Allocating some of that spare cash to paying down debt and the rest to savings, will help put you in a stronger financial position quicker than if you just keep making the normal payments.

Make the most of your employee benefits

As your career develops, there is a good chance that not only will your salary increase, but you will most likely also be offered some increasingly attractive employee options.

It can often pay to take full advantage of these employee benefits. Retirement plans are a clear example of why it may be rewarding to max out your employee benefits, as the amount your employer contributes to your 401 (k) each month is a tax efficient- way of saving for when you retire.

It is often worth looking at matching their contribution with your own money, and you may want to find out what the maximum contribution you can make is, so that you can make the most of the opportunity.

It often pays to get professional advice when you think you need it. If you want to see what options you have or what you need to do to make the most of your money, spending some cash to get an educated opinion, can often be justified if it saves you making mistakes and boosts your earning potential.

Molly Peters writes about personal finance. She is a personal finance advisor with years of experience and enjoys helping people to master their money.

 

Here’s why it is important to document your finances for your family

Life is unpredictable and being healthy today does not guarantee you the same tomorrow. Death and incapacitation are common occurrences that take place on a daily basis and thus one needs to have a plan. Documenting your finances does not mean that you are predicting own death as many people tend to think. It just shows that you are smart and responsible enough to direct others how to use your estates when you are gone. The following are reasons why you should document your finances.

  1. Appoint your beneficiaries

The government shares property among the immediate family members according to the laws and regulations regarding inheritance if there is no valid will. Such property is not given to charity or friends unless there is a will that directs so. You can distribute your finances among family, friends and other noble courses through writing.

  1. Avoid conflicts among family members

Family feuds and fights over property often happen due to lack of documentation. The government in such a case appoints a lawyer to handle the sharing. Inheritance disagreements can lead to enmity and mistrust among family members. The only way to ensure that family members protect and respect your decisions is putting it in writing.

  1. To cater for emergencies

Accidents are inevitable, and you can become ill or incapacitated such that you cannot make logical decisions. You can designate someone to handle your finances in such instances for smooth running. You can draft a Power Of Attorney to deal with all your legal and financial matters. You can also prepare a living will that dictates how to handle your medical health when you cannot speak for yourself.

  1. Avoid losing property to the government

The crown takes all the assets when someone dies with no valid will or family. The process of inheriting unclaimed assets is tedious because one has to prove that he/she is an entitled relative. Friends can also fraud your loved ones after your demise.

  1. Plan ahead for a decent send-off

You can direct the family members on how to conduct your funeral service, particularly if you want specific things to happen. Funeral plan companies like Golden Charter are also worth checking out, considering the considerable cost of a funeral. The last thing you want is to lumber your family with debt. Paying into a plan will stop that problem from happening.

A proper documentation gives your inheritors an easy time when managing your estates. It is only through writing that you can direct your loved ones on how to use the property.

How Volvo is Doing Their Part to Promote Sustainability

In recent years, Volvo has been breaking its own sales records, with more than a half-million cars sold in 2015 alone. As the brand expands its automobile and parts manufacturing and distribution efforts, many are wondering what steps the automotive giant is taking to reduce their carbon footprint and limit pollution. The Volvo Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department is in charge of handling the company’s efforts to have a positive impact on the environment and the global economy. Here are a few ways the Swedish automobile manufacturer is doing its part to promote sustainability:

volvo

Photo by Karl Baron

Producing Even Longer Lasting Volvo Parts

In addition to focusing on lower emissions and responsible manufacturing, Volvo is also reducing automotive waste by designing, producing and offering genuine Volvo parts with longer lifecycles. Volvo parts already have a strong reputation for being some of the most durable and well-designed, so even third-party (aka aftermarket) parts – designed to simply mimic OEM Volvo parts – actually last longer than those same aftermarket parts made for many other brands. In fact, on average Volvo has the second-longest lifespan of any brand, behind only Mercedes Benz. There are a number of Volvo cars that have lasted for more than 1 million miles, and one is even registered with more than 2.6 million miles on the odometer and still running.

Publishing Annual Sustainability Report

Every year since 2007, the Volvo Group has released an annual sustainability report. By maintaining such a high level of accountability and transparency, they’re motivating other automobile and parts manufacturers to follow suit. The report outlines the company’s effort to develop sustainable infrastructure, highlighting key statistics that illustrate the ongoing efforts put forth by its CSR team. Each year, between February and April, the report is released to the public in PDF form, outlining key goals and achievements that do and will contribute to a cleaner and brighter future for society and the planet.

Spearheading the Sustainable Transport Movement

Volvo is also known to invest a great deal of research and innovation into developing more sustainable global transport systems. The Volvo Group currently co-chairs the United Nations High Level Advisory Group, partnering with policy makers to ensure the entire automotive industry is on board with striving for more socially-responsible business practices. Facing the challenge of transporting its genuine OEM Volvo parts and automobiles around the world has led the automaker to develop some of the best policies regarding low emissions for transport vehicles and tracking fleet performance.

Societal Engagement Program and Other Efforts

Volvo is also running a program called Moving Business and Society Forward, which focuses on promoting societal engagement with and awareness of the ongoing push for sustainability in the auto industry. These efforts are intended to be mutually beneficial, creating value for shareholders while also motivating consumers to get more involved in the smart and strategic environmental initiatives. Volvo is facilitating important changes in a sector that has the potential to have profound environmental impacts. As we inch closer to 2020, and every major car brand and parts manufacturer starts feeling more pressure to participate in the eco-friendly movement, Volvo has not shown any reluctance to being a leader in the field.