I know this is a bold, and possibly controversial title, but retirement planning is broken and leaving people broke.
The destructive narrative is, “work hard, save money in a retirement plan, wait and it will all work out in the long run.”
The reality is, without the ingredients of responsibility and accountability, there is no easy solution for retirement. Meaning, if we just work hard and set money aside, we are putting money into a market we have no control over.
The institutions are winning though. Taking fees along the way. Convincing us to separate ourselves from our hard earned money, encouraging us to take it out of the business we know and put it into investments we don’t.
Low interest rates are great for those borrowing money, but terrible for those wanting to take income from a retirement plan. Those low interest rates are not providing enough cash flow, so that even if you’re a millionaire on paper, you still may be living like a pauper. For example, if you could find 4% interest in a fixed income account, that is only 40,000 dollars a year per million in your retirement account. Oh, and that income is taxable if it isn’t coming from a Roth IRA.
The concept of retirement has robbed the public of the responsibility and accountability required with personal finance. It has become too easy to hand money over to so-called experts due to the busyness of business, kids, hobbies, and other obligations competing for our time.
Future-Proofing The Workforce: Why Digital Literacy Is Key
The reality is, we have more opportunity for time now than ever. For thousands of years people were limited and constrained with the monumental duty of providing for their family by having to hunt, farm or provide shelter with less technology, efficiency and access to resources. We have become addicted to saying yes to things less important than financial stability and freedom…..
PetSmart is moving forward with a plan to take public its fast-growing online pet business, Chewy, just two short years after acquiring the company.
Chewy filed for an initial public offering on Monday, according to documents filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The company is looking to raise $100 million, according to the filing, although this figure is commonly used as a placeholder and is likely to change.
The planned IPO comes just two years after PetSmart spent over $3 billion to acquire the e-commerce company. The move was billed as a way for PetSmart to establish a robust online presence that supplemented its sprawling brick-and-mortar footprint of 1,600 stores.
Last year, however, PetSmart spun off a portion of its equity in Chewy and set the stage for a potential public offering or sale. The move prompted legal action from several lenders who said they didn’t approve of such a transfer. The litigation came to an end in April, the company said in the filing. (PetSmart was acquired in an $8.7 billion leveraged buyout, led by investment firm BC Partners, in 2015.)
PetSmart will continue to be the company’s majority shareholder after the IPO, according to the filing. The company said it would use the proceeds for working capital and other general corporate purposes.
Chewy was launched in 2011 by Ryan Cohen and Michael Day, two college dropouts who met in a Java chat room. The online-only pet business quickly and quietly gained traction and today is responsible for selling 45% of the dog and cat food that is purchased online, which puts it on par with Amazon, according to market research firm 1010data.
While online purchases still represent a fraction of overall spending, that is changing. Pet food and supplies bought online accounted for 14% of total sales in 2017, but that is projected to grow to approximately 25% by 2022, according to the company.
In 2018, the company recorded a loss of $268 million on sales of $3.5 billion. It makes roughly two thirds of its revenue via a subscription program, in which customers sign up for automatic, recurring shipments of certain products. Despite surging sales, the company has never made a profit.
Cohen, who considers himself a “pet parent” to Tylee, his apricot-colored teacup poodle, capitalized on the big bucks that pet owners are willing to spend on their family pets. In the company’s regulatory documents, it describes a phenomenon of “pet humanization,” which helps to drive sales on items like grass-fed beef and orthopedic beds. “Pet parents increasingly view pets as part of the family and are willing to spend increasingly larger dollar amounts on higher-quality goods and services for those family members,” the filing reads.
Chewy offers free shipping on orders over $49 and says it can ship any of its 45,000 products to approximately 80% of the nation overnight and the rest of the population in two days. It sells its own private-label products under the name American Journey, as well as PetSmart’s Authority products.
The company plans to list its shares under the ticker symbol CHWY. The company has not yet announced the exchange it will use.
Challenge: Make a 60-year-old hamburger chain into something cool. Daniel Schwartz accepted that assignment six years ago after 3G Capital took over Burger King and named Schwartz chief executive. He was 32.
Burger King was a tired outfit, with a confusing menu and sales going sideways. Its restaurants averaged half the revenue of McDonald’s. But where there is underperformance, there is opportunity. Schwartz slashed overhead at the Miami headquarters. He streamlined food preparation. He dished out stock to middle managers. He shrank the payroll and the capital budget by selling company-owned stores to franchisees.
In the years since, Burger King has become Restaurant Brands International (following some more classic 3G dealmaking). Restaurant Brands is now a growth stock. Burger King opened up 1,000 restaurants around the globe last year, to 600 for McDonald’s. McDonald’s stores still have a bigger average volume, but Burger King’s are gaining on them; in the U.S., BK boosted its average volume per outlet by 30%, to $1.4 million, while McDonald’s had a gain of only 20%. All of Burger King’s success is, of course, in stark contrast to what’s going on at Kraft Heinz, another 3G turnaround that went the other way. In February, Kraft Heinz said it was taking a $15.4 billion write-down, a signal that its classic food brands were losing value.
The situation is different at Burger King. At the parent-company level, where revenue consists mostly of franchise fees, Restaurant Brands took in $5.4 billion last year, up 17% from 2017. McDonald’s revenue was off 8%.
“How many companies that have been around since the 1950s grow the top line at 10%?” says Schwartz, 38.
For a fast-food conglomerate that oversees 26,000 locations with combined sales of $32 billion, Restaurant Brands is quite agile. Three months ago the company introduced the Whopper Detour promotion, in which Burger King offered its signature item for a cent if the customer ordered food on the BK phone app within 600 feet of a McDonald’s location. In February came the 45-second Super Bowl ad featuring historic footage of Andy Warhol slowly unwrapping and methodically eating a Whopper. The BK app topped the charts in Apple’s App Store during the campaign; throughout the Super Bowl, “Andy Warhol” was the most searched term on Google.
Maybe Schwartz can even make his hamburger chain cool enough for New Age customers. Plans are under way to introduce a plant-protein patty from Impossible Foods, the startup backed by investors like Bill Gates and the venture capital arm of Alphabet. This is a big deal for Impossible, with an expected rollout in 7,000 Burger Kings soon.
The past decade has been a whirlwind for Schwartz, who combined a certain amount of luck—in the right place at the right time—with a large amount of energy. A lanky guy who has a big smile and a tendency to speak with his hands, Schwartz left Cornell in 2001 with a degree in applied economics. Four years later, he landed a job at 3G Capital, the private equity firm that became famous for engineering the Anheuser-Busch InBev merger (and later infamous for the sickly Kraft Heinz merger).
Schwartz became a 3G partner at 27. “The group believes in investing in young people and giving them opportunities,” he says. “I worked hard and proved that I really cared. More so than anything else, I put the business and the firm ahead of myself.” His wife tolerated the long hours, perhaps because, as a physician in residency, she worked late too.
Schwartz went hunting for deals. Burger King looked intriguing. “I’d ask my wife or my mom, ‘If McDonald’s is worth $70 billion, what do you think Burger King is worth?’ They’d say, ‘$30 billion?’ ” Schwartz recalls.
Paying a 46% premium for the publicly traded shares, 3G acquired the chain for $4 billion, including debt. Schwartz then raised his hand to help run it. “I wanted to be part of this. And I didn’t want to just sit in an office and get monthly reports.”
At 29, Schwartz became BK’s chief financial officer. He sold the corporate jet. He told employees to use Skype to make free international calls. And to get a feel for the whole business, he worked shifts off and on at Miami Burger Kings, cleaning toilets, cooking burgers and manning the drive-thru.
Focused as he was on selling hamburgers, he hadn’t left behind his deal-making instincts. Rechristened Restaurant Brands, his company acquired Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons in 2014. In 2017 it spent $1.8 billion in cash to get the Popeyes chicken chain.
Warren Buffett is a fan, having put up $3 billion in equity to help finance the Hortons deal. So is Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square hedge fund owns 5% of the stock; 3G owns 41%.
The second-largest shareholder: the employees, with more than 5% of stock. Thanks to a match for those who invest their bonuses in RBI shares, nearly all 300 middle managers (average age: 37) own shares; at least 100 have become millionaires. Schwartz is sitting on about $100 million in stock and options.
“I’m comforted as an owner when all of the key employees own a lot of stock,” Ackman says. “It makes them much less focused on short-term things. They’re much more focused on ‘Will this make the business more valuable in five years, ten years?’ ”
Recently, Schwartz was moved up to executive chairman, and longtime Burger King exec Jose Cil, 49, became CEO. “We take bets on people,” Cil says. “When they are ambitious and willing to work harder than anybody because they’re driven by something beyond a paycheck, they want to do something big.”
Schwartz lives in Florida with his wife and three kids. He has been working out of RBI offices in Miami and Toronto, but now he’s going to be spending more time at the 3G office in New York, with assignments that range beyond the restaurant chains. “I’m not gonna be CEO at another company,” he says. “But we aspire to do more, and over time we can buy another business down the road.”
Or perhaps repair some of the businesses that 3G already owns. Could someone who has engineered a turnaround at Burger King work some magic on old ketchup and cheese brands? His diplomatic answer: “Maybe you could ask me that question in six months, when I hopefully get a little bit closer to the business of Kraft Heinz.”
3G’s business is as much about building as buying and selling. Schwartz says: “Most traditional investment firms, if they were in our shoes, probably would have sold [RBI] many years ago. Not only did we not sell, we bought more brands along the way. We are building this into a big company with a long-term mindset.”
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The ongoing flap over tax refunds has once again highlighted a serious issue: Americans use tax withholding from their paychecks as a major savings tool. They give the government more than they owe in income tax throughout the year just so they can get a check the following spring. For many low-income filers, overwithholding has become their preferred, and perhaps their only, way to save. They ought to have a better option. Traditional economists say deliberately having too much tax withheld throughout the year is, not to put too fine a point on it………..
Wall Street closed out a dismal, turbulent year for stocks on a bright note Monday, but still finished 2018 with the worst showing in a decade.After setting a series of records through the late summer and early fall, major U.S. indexes fell sharply after early October, leaving them all in the red for the year.…
To make an impact at the enterprise level, the data science group can’t work in isolation, said Ian Swanson, Oracle vice president of machine learning and artificial intelligence product development, during a presentation at the recent Oracle OpenWorld conference. “In order to do data science right, it has to be a team sport,” said Swanson, former CEO of DataScience.com, which Oracle acquired earlier this year.
One of the data science group’s most valuable teammates is the IT organization, for multiple reasons, he said. The DS group relies on IT to manage and secure the data it uses; support the needed analytics tools; and deliver ready access to scalable bandwidth, compute, and storage capacity to build and train production-oriented analytic models.
Another important ally is the application development team. Developers must incorporate the models DS builds into their “ecosystem” as regular features among the many they use to build production applications, Swanson said.
That points to a significant attribute of production-oriented models: reusability. An ecommerce recommendation engine, for instance, might be reused for forecasting an item’s revenue stream, he said. A key performance indicator for one technology company Swanson worked with on a DS project was “how often that model was used by other parts of the business,” he said.
Line-of-business managers are a valuable constituency as well, because they’re tasked with performing the actions—and getting the results—from applications that use analytic models. An underestimated advantage line-of-business managers bring to the analytics model-building process, Swanson said, is their domain expertise—their experiences working with customers.
As for the top brass, they don’t need “to be involved in every step of the model, but they need to understand how it will be used, the opportunities it offers, the things it can achieve,” Swanson said. “If you’re not involving the top, if they’re not part of the team, data science is not affecting the heart of the business.”
Awash in Tools
Because data science is the new darling of the technology marketplace, the number and variety of analytics tools are staggering. Swanson said he worked with a company whose DS team had accumulated 682 different tools. “How is IT managing 682 different tools?” he wondered.
Still, building predictive analytics models is complicated, requiring a “full stack” of tools, libraries, and languages—preferably open source, which encourages standards and self-service, Swanson said. As DS matures, its practitioners will have to comply with enterprise programming standards, in particular version control. “If you’re writing production code, you should be using some sort of system that encourages working together to follow best engineering practices, such as checking in code and making sure its reproducible,” he said.
But enterprise data science goes beyond programming. “It requires a platform that removes barriers to production, improves collaboration, manages the tool sprawl, provides self-service access to data, and helps with model planning and retention,” Swanson said.
Calling data scientists “the architects and engineers of digital transformation,” Swanson noted that there are DS use cases “in every industry and function,” providing the means to generate “new business channels and new business models.” But achieving those goals requires the will—and a strategy—for extending the work data scientists can do as widely across the enterprise as resources will allow.
“It’s about creating a process that delivers reliable outputs to drive business outcomes,” Swanson said. “You need to put it into action—that’s real DS.”
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has a terrible human rights record. But the average Filipino is doing better under Duterte. When it comes to per-capita gross domestic product (GDP), that is. That’s a measure of the total output of a country divided by the number of people in that country. The Philippines’ per-capita GDP was last recorded at an all-time high of 2,891.36 U.S. dollars in 2017, according to Tradingeconomics.com. That’s well above the average of 1,627.98 USD for the period 1960-2017. Also, Filipinos are doing better under Duterte when per-capita GDP is adjusted by purchasing power parity (PPP). That measure, too, reached a record 7,599.19 U.S. dollars in 2017, well above the average of 4969.71 USD……………..
Nigerian-born serial entrepreneur John Orajiaka, 43, is the founder of Adnol Multimedia a $14 million (annual revenues) Pan-African value-added telecommunication service provider. Active in more than ten African countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Liberia, Cameroon, Rwanda and Swaziland, Adnol Multimedia provides everything from basic messaging and voice applications to digital lifestyle solutions using short codes for subscription services such as caller ring-back tunes, mobile advertising, mobile health, coupon services and mobile games to more than 7 million customers……….
I do weekly sales training with my sales team to keep all my employees in sync with the mission. To help others reach success. But that doesn’t exclude my employees. I want my company not only to serve others, and help them reach financial freedom, but to also give that to my staff.
This week we talked about the 5 steps to becoming a millionaire. It is important to me that my employees are doing well, because it sells them even more on the idea of helping others reach the sales levels of success I have had in my career. If you’re ready to take that next step and become a millionaire yourself,