• Briefly Noted
  • Briefly Noted

    Surviving a Layoff

    The California Society of CPAs offers five strategies workers can use to make sure that they come out of a layoff in good shape. The steps include:

    Strategy 1: Look for clues to a possible layoff.

    Layoff warning signs in your own company include expense reductions, hiring freezes, management resignations, travel cutbacks and your competitors cutting jobs. You may want to update your resume and check in with members of your network with a quick phone call or E-mail. You may also want to schedule medical or dental work while you still have health insurance.

    Strategy 2: Try to negotiate a better package from your employer.

    Many separation packages have outplacement services that will help polish your resume and find you a new position. If you want to start your own business, you may want to ask for a cash award in lieu of outplacement support. The trick to getting what you want is making sure you are respectful, your requests are reasonable and you give the reason behind your request. The worst they can say is no.

    Strategy 3: Collect what you’re owed—keep your health coverage.

    COBRA is a federal law that allows you to continue your health care coverage for up to a year and a half after you leave your employment. You generally have 60 days to decide if you want this coverage. If you have a pre-existing condition or you’re going to be traveling overseas, you’ll want to take advantage. But remember COBRA isn’t cheap—you’ll be required to pay full premiums and administration fees of 2%. You also have a right to whatever money you’ve collected in your 401(k) and your pension benefit plan. If you have a flexible spending account you’ll generally want to use your allotment before you leave the company. And don’t forget those stock options. If you have vested stock options, check the price and decide if you should exercise them. If it makes sense, you’ll typically have 90 days to do this, otherwise you’ll lose them.

    Strategy 4: Put your credit cards away. Minimize expenses.

    Put your credit cards away, at least until you’ve paid them off and you have a new job.

    Strategy 5: Leave on good terms.

    Before you leave, get a recommendation. Even if you’re not parting on the best terms, remember that this job is going to be on your resume so you may as well get a good review (or at least a neutral one if your company allows this).

    Source: The California Society of CPAs.

    Redemption Offers on Auction Rate Securities: Not Open-Ended

    As state securities regulators continue their efforts to provide relief to investors who have had their funds frozen in the auction rate securities (ARS) market, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) reminds ARS investors of their redemption opportunities, which were reached as part of the settlements between securities regulators and several prominent Wall Street firms.

    “While some repurchases have been made, many more are to come in the months ahead. Investors should be aware that the offers to repurchase their auction rate securities are not open indefinitely,” said NASAA President and Colorado Securities Commissioner Fred Joseph. “We urge any investor with questions about the repurchase program to contact the firm from which they originally purchased their auction rate securities.”

    Joseph noted that a number of firms have established hotlines to respond to questions from customers concerning the terms of the settlements. Those firms and their ARS hotlines are: Bank of America (866-638-4183), Citigroup Global Markets (now part of Smith Barney, 866-720-4802), Deutsche Bank (866-926-1437), Goldman Sachs (888-350-2857), Merrill Lynch (888-706-1381), Morgan Stanley (800-566-2273), and UBS (800-253-1974).

    In settlements reached with state and federal securities regulators, 11 firms have agreed in principle to repurchase more than $50 billion of auction rate securities. In consideration of the settlements, securities regulators agreed to terminate their investigations into the marketing and sale of auction rate securities to individual investors.

    Source: The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), the national association of securities administrators in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, and Mexico.


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