Green Tax Break Syndicated Easements Face IRS Scrutiny

Jack Fisher has raised hundreds of millions of dollars pitching investors on real estate development projects that were never built. Fisher, an accountant-turned-developer, promoted projects such as the Preserve at Venice Harbor, near Hilton Head, S.C., where marketing illustrations showed houses on canals that evoked the famous Italian city. Instead of developing the land, he recruited investors to elaborate deals that provided them charitable tax deductions in return for donating easements for conservation.

The Internal Revenue Service, however, suspects the deals may amount to tax fraud. Fisher is at the center of a criminal probe related to these syndicated conservation easements, according to people familiar with the details, who requested anonymity to discuss a confidential matter. The investigation has already led to tax conspiracy charges against three accountants who worked with him.

A syndicated conservation easement gives dozens of investors in partnerships three choices: to build a specific development project; to hold on to the land and build later; or to donate an easement to a land trust or government, promising to forgo development. The third option entitles investors to charitable tax deductions, based on the appraised value of the land, that can be worth four or five times their investment.

Easements have been used—legitimately, and mostly by family partnerships and individuals like farmers—for decades as part of a federal push to preserve more than 30 million acres of land. Those aren’t the focus of an IRS crackdown. Instead, it’s going after promoters like Fisher who sell deals through brokers, accountants, lawyers, and tax preparers, and who market the projects that generate large tax deductions. The IRS has made these an enforcement priority, suing some promoters to shut them down and criminally investigating others.

California conservation lawyer Misti Schmidt says a typical syndicated easement used by wealthy investors is an “ugly tax-shelter scheme” that relies on grossly overvalued appraisals. “There’s so much money to be made, they just keep doing it,” says Schmidt, a partner at Conservation Partners.

Those appraisals are at the center of the legal fight around syndicated easements. Before an easement donation is made, an appraiser assigns it a value based on its highest and best use. That number is then used to calculate the tax deductions. The IRS often argues that those appraisals vastly inflate the development potential of a property, and that promoters use those valuations to market lucrative tax deductions.

Two of Fisher’s associates, the brothers Stein and Corey Agee, pleaded guilty in December to conspiring to promote fraudulent tax breaks and are cooperating with prosecutors. Although Fisher wasn’t charged or named in the Agee cases, he’s referred to as Promoter A in court documents, the people familiar with the details say. Documents reviewed by Bloomberg confirm Fisher’s role in the deals. Lawyers for Fisher didn’t respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.

In the Stein Agee case, prosecutors say the deals were “illegal tax shelters that allowed taxpayers to buy tax deductions,” according to the charges. Appraisals were “falsely inflated,” while the conservation option was “always a foregone conclusion.” Many investors signed up after the tax year in which easements were donated, prosecutors say, even though the IRS allows deductions only in the same year a donation is made. Promoter A and others had investors backdate checks and agreements, according to the charges.

“Promoter A’s tax shelters resulted in a massive evasion of taxes,” the charges state. In all, more than 1,500 investors received $1.2 billion in fraudulent tax deductions, prosecutors said. At one point, Promoter A told Stein Agee that he met with several co-conspirators to make sure they were on the “same page” about late investments, according to the charges. Promoter A proposed that Agee could falsely suggest that backdated checks weren’t deposited because they were “lost” on someone’s desk. Lawyers for the Agees declined to comment.

Nationwide, the IRS has challenged $21 billion in tax deductions claimed for syndicated easements from 2016 to 2018, saying it’s auditing 28,000 taxpayers. Former President Donald Trump has donated several easements, including two under scrutiny by New York state authorities.

“The IRS fully supports the benefit of legitimate conservation easements around this country,” IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told Congress in March. “It has done tremendous things for farmers and others. Our problem is with the abusive syndicated easements.”

The IRS crackdown comes amid a battle in Congress that pits conservation groups and national appraisal organizations against promoters of syndicated easements. Conservation groups want legislation that would bar investors from claiming deductions worth more than two and a half times their initial investment. Promoters have been blocking that fix for years.

“The IRS’s current take-no-prisoners litigation strategy is also going after minor technical flaws that arise in all easements, not just syndications,” says Schmidt, the conservation lawyer. “Legitimate easements are now getting disallowed.”

Fisher, who’s in his late 60s, grew up on a small-town farm in Marshall, N.C., and still speaks in a soft Southern drawl. The son of a truck driver and homemaker, he graduated with a degree in accounting from nearby Mars Hill College in 1974 before joining the IRS. Fisher then became a certified public accountant, worked for Price Waterhouse, and joined a firm that moved him to Atlanta to work with the National Football League’s Falcons.

Later, he took a job at an accounting firm with the Agee brothers’ father, Edward Agee. “I got a lot of good experience,” Fisher testified at a trial after a real estate broker sued him, claiming the developer owed him a commission. Fisher said he met people who “could refer you to business: bankers and things like that.”

He got into development by auditing construction companies, and later began assembling his own investment deals, founding Preserve Communities about two decades ago.

Fisher was adept at raising money, says Anthony Antonino, a real estate consultant who helped with the sale of 800 acres in North Carolina for $14.75 million to entities controlled by Fisher and a wealthy investor. “Jack knows where the money’s at, and he knows how to get it,” Antonino says.

Some of Fisher’s wealthy investors were involved in equestrian events, say people familiar with the matter. His family owned a 40-acre show stable in Alpharetta, Ga., according to a 2013 story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His then-wife, Libba, and two of their children won several titles competing in elite hunter and jumper events, according to records maintained by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

He was a hands-on developer, says Mark Brooks, a civil engineer who helped Fisher build projects. “He was out there walking the roads and figuring out site lots,” Brooks says. “He was real proud when he did the developments. He felt he was doing things to help out Madison County, which was a pretty poor county.”

He also branched out to the Western U.S., buying a 1,088-acre ranch near Reno, Nev. In late 2018 a Georgia corporation Fisher formed donated an easement covering 812 acres to the North American Land Trust. Investors got $51.2 million in deductions, according to court filings. They put up $10 million, his partner told planners in Nevada’s Washoe County.

Months later, Fisher pursued permission to develop 38 homes on land not covered by the easement. He showed up at a rural advisory board meeting in July 2019 wearing a cowboy hat and flanked by ranch hands, according to a resident. When pressed, Fisher backed down.

“We have no plans to do anything with that property other than to make it part of the ranch,” Fisher said at the recorded meeting. In the face of stated opposition by planners, he withdrew his application.

The Agee brothers, whose father died in 2009, helped promote some of Fisher’s deals. At the proposed Preserve at Venice Harbor development, $179.8 million in tax deductions were claimed by the 390 investors who chose a conservation easement instead of building homes, court documents show. That was more than four times what they put in.

By 2018, less than two years after the IRS began targeting syndicated easements as tax shelters, Fisher was under investigation, the people with knowledge of the matter say. “You have to be very, very careful that these look like real estate investments as compared to, you know, basically a tax shelter,” Promoter A told an agent posing as an investor, according to the charges against Stein Agee.

Fisher continued to work with the Agees through last year, the people say. In November, Promoter A left a handwritten note for Stein Agee saying he’d been “cleaning up the books,” the charges state. About the same time, a video was uploaded to the Preserve Communities Vimeo account.

Fisher talks about his career while viewers see images of forests, mountains, and rivers, and of Fisher himself sitting on a deck, and then feeding a horse. “I hope the people who live in our communities gain a greater connection to nature, to slow down in life, to realize what’s really important,” he says. “We only have so many years here on the planet, and feeling good about what you’ve done with your life.”

— With assistance by Kaustuv Basu, Neil Weinberg, and Elise Young

By: David Voreacos

Source: Green Tax Break Syndicated Easements Face IRS Scrutiny – Bloomberg

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Four Ways to Build Influence at Work, No Matter Your Job Title

people around a table, brainstorming

Being influential has its benefits. People seek out your opinion and listen to you. Your words have power. Those around you believe what you say and give weight to your input. But you don’t have to be a member of the C-suite or a high-ranking employee for this to be true. It’s possible to expand your influence in virtually any role.

“Inside the workplace, there’s formal influence, which comes from your position—the responsibility and authority that you’ve been given,” says leadership consultant Ron Price, founder of Price Associates, and author of Growing Influence: A Story of How to Lead with Character, Expertise, and Impact. “But there’s also informal influence, which comes from who you are and how you show up.”

While the title you hold may not be imbued with power, there are steps you can take to increase the power you hold in virtually any role, he says. Here are four strategies to try:


Focus On What You Can Control

Influence starts with the areas within your control, says Melissa Drake, founder of Collaborative AF, a consultancy that helps companies unlock potential through collaboration. First off, focus simply on being good at your job.

“If you’re doing your thing well and passionately and you’re getting good results, it’s really hard to argue with that,” she says. Being good at your job is one of the basic elements of influence. It lets people know that you’re confident and capable. Failure to do so undermines influence and makes it more difficult for people to trust you.

At consulting and training company Franklin Covey, Scott Miller, executive vice president and author of Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, recommends focusing on your “circle of influence“—those factors you can control, including “your reputation; your ability to deliver on your promises; your ability to make wise, high-impact decisions; your ability to collaborate.” The more you focus on those essential elements, the more your influence will naturally grow.


Spend Your ‘Influence Currency’ Wisely

Understanding the areas in which you may most likely be influential is important, too. If you have special expertise or act as a facilitator or gatekeeper, the way you share and distribute knowledge or resources can make you influential, says Allan Cohen, global leadership professor at Babson College and co-author of Influence without Authority. The core of your influence may also lie in how well you understand the organization, relationships within the workplace, or other areas that aren’t generally known.

But there’s a fine line between being a fair guardian of that influence and blowing your own horn too much, he says. Cohen says you must figure out how to provide that value in a reasonable way. “It’s a fine art to be able to contribute without disappearing, but without saying, ‘See me? See me? Look. Look. Here I am. Look what I’m doing for you,’” he says.


Make Strong Connections With Others

“Everything comes down to relationships,” Drake says, so building a strong network is essential. She recommends getting to know people on a personal level, too. It’s easier to relate to and understand others when you have an idea of what’s important to them, what their personality traits are, and what’s going on in their lives. “[Allow] people to be seen and heard as individuals and who they are,” says Drake, who gave a TEDx talk on collaboration in which she emphasized how much more powerful successful collaborations can be compared to solo efforts. “Then it makes it easier to come together,” she says.

The ability to collaborate with others also helps build your influence because it strengthens relationships. “There’s the kind of influence that you build through collaboration, where you work with people, where you have shared interests, says Price. “You can combine your influence together to create something bigger than you could have done by yourself.”


Don’t Be a Jerk

Even if you don’t have a big title or wield a great deal of power, there is always a way you can help others, Price says. So find ways to give back to individuals and the organization before you try to use your influence for your own interests. “Who comes to you to get information or something that they need in order to do their daily work?” he says. “The more that you respond to that in a timely way and give them what they’re looking for, the better, stronger influence you’ll build with them.”

By building your expertise and relationships, and using your growing power wisely and fairly, your words and actions will likely have greater impact in the workplace. But, as your influence grows, so must your humility, Miller says. “The more you readily show vulnerability and admit your issues, [the more] people will gravitate around you and you’ll create a culture where people take risks. They’ll make bets. They’ll choose to stay because there’s no paranoia. There’s high trust,” he says.

By: Gwen Moran

Source: Pocket

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Critics:

Social influence comprises the ways in which individuals change their behavior to meet the demands of a social environment. It takes many forms and can be seen in conformity, socialization, peer pressure, obedience, leadership, persuasion, sales, and marketing. Typically social influence results from a specific action, command, or request, but people also alter their attitudes and behaviors in response to what they perceive others might do or think. In 1958, Harvard psychologist Herbert Kelman identified three broad varieties of social influence.

  1. Compliance is when people appear to agree with others but actually keep their dissenting opinions private.
  2. Identification is when people are influenced by someone who is liked and respected, such as a famous celebrity.
  3. Internalization is when people accept a belief or behavior and agree both publicly and privately.

Morton Deutsch and Harold Gerard described two psychological needs that lead humans to conform to the expectations of others. These include our need to be right (informational social influence) and our need to be liked (normative social influence). Informational influence (or social proof) is an influence to accept information from another as evidence about reality. Informational influence comes into play when people are uncertain, either because stimuli are intrinsically ambiguous or because there is social disagreement.

Normative influence is an influence to conform to the positive expectations of others. In terms of Kelman’s typology, normative influence leads to public compliance, whereas informational influence leads to private acceptance.

Robert Cialdini defines six “weapons of influence” that can contribute to an individual’s propensity to be influenced by a persuader:

  • Reciprocity: People tend to return a favor.
  • Commitment and consistency: People do not like to be self-contradictory. Once they commit to an idea or behavior, they are averse to changing their minds without good reason.
  • Social proof: People will be more open to things that they see others doing. For example, seeing others compost their organic waste after finishing a meal may influence the subject to do so as well.
  • Authority: People will tend to obey authority figures.
  • Liking: People are more easily swayed by people they like.
  • Scarcity: A perceived limitation of resources will generate demand.

See also

How Exactly Does Content Marketing Help in Building Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is more than people simply recognizing your business name or your logo.True brand awareness entails your audience getting to know the personality behind your brand and what makes you different from your competitors.

It’s vital to build brand awareness because consumers are much more likely to buy from a brand they know and trust than one that’s new to them.A research study found that over 80% of people searching for a product on Google chose to click on websites they were already familiar with, regardless of their position in the results.

Content marketing can be a highly effective way to build brand awareness. With every piece of branded content an individual sees, they become more familiar with your brand. But while exposure is important, it’s not the only factor at play. Content can help to build your brand in several different ways.

Quick Takeaways

  • Content marketing is an excellent way to demonstrate knowledge and expertise and build trust with your audience.
  • The more content you publish, the more exposure you give your brand. Every piece of content has the potential to widen your audience.
  • Your content is an important part of your overall brand and can be used to amplify your brand voice and reinforce your commitment to your brand values.

1. Demonstrating Authority and Expertise

By regularly publishing informative and educational content that helps to solve your audience’s problems, you demonstrate the fact that you know what you’re talking about as an expert in your industry.

For example, take a look at the blog published by marketing and CRM software company, HubSpot. HubSpot publishes a lot of detailed and useful articles on subjects such as content marketing, web design, email marketing, SEO, and customer experience.

Most of these articles are not written with the aim of selling more software licenses. Nor, indeed do they even mention the products and services that the company sells.

This informational content is not published with the aim of making more sales, but rather to share knowledge and cement HubSpot’s position as an authority in the area of digital marketing.

The audience reading HubSpot’s blog may not immediately be looking for a marketing software solution. However, with each piece of content they read, they’ll build a stronger association between the HubSpot brand and marketing knowledge.

If at some point in the future they are in the market for a CRM or marketing automation software, they’ll already have HubSpot in mind and be confident in the brand’s experience and knowledge.

2. Building Trust

Consistently publishing helpful information for your audience not only helps to demonstrate your expertise and authority but is also vital for gaining the trust of your target audience.

People don’t like to feel like they’re being sold to or that brands only have an interest in gaining their business.

Content marketing means publishing content that’s not sales focused and demonstrates you care about your audience and their problems, rather than just making the sale.

The more content your audience reads and the better they get to know your brand, the more likely they will be to trust you. The more they trust you, the more likely they are to spend money with you in the future.

Source: Marketing Charts

3. Fleshing Out Your Brand Personality

Many brands offer very similar products and services, often at similar prices. Your brand personality is what distinguishes you from your competitors and builds relationships and loyalty with your customers.

Your content should reflect your brand values and mission. It should demonstrate what you offer beyond the products and services you sell.

Every piece of content you publish should also reflect your brand tone and voice. Whether this is fun and friendly, creative and quirky, or confident and informative depends on your audience, the industry you’re in, and how you want to position your brand.

Source: EndeavorCreative

To get this all right, it’s important to have a clear and defined brand, mission, value, voice, and content strategy that pulls it all together. Skipping over any of these steps will result in content that doesn’t have a clear voice or personality, and your brand will be weakened as a result.

4. Increasing Brand Exposure and Mentions

Every piece of content you publish gives you a new opportunity to expand your audience and reach more eyes.

Publishing content around the topics that your audience and customers are interested in is a highly effective way to boost your SEO. This means your site is more likely to come up in searches for keywords related to your business. The more content you publish, the more chances you have of showing up in search results.

Source: Oracle Modern Marketing Blog

Good content can help you to attract traffic from many other sources apart from search engines.

People share high-quality content on social media. Social media mentions are doubly effective because they not only help you to reach a wider audience, but a social share acts as a vote of confidence and demonstrates that others trust in your brand too.

This is increasingly important these days where 83% of consumers say they are more likely to buy a product or service if it is recommended by a friend or family member.

5. Building Customer Loyalty

Content marketing is not only important for attracting new customers but also to keep the customers you already have.

Strengthening relationships with your customers is also important for building your brand. When customers are loyal to your brand, they are more likely to recommend it to others.

Consistently publishing new content is a great way to stay in touch with your existing customers, keep your brand on their mind, and give them more opportunities to share your content and products with others.

6. Engaging Your Audience with Brand Storytelling

Everyone loves a good story. So it’s no surprise that much of the most successful content on the web involves some element of storytelling.

Likewise, some of the world’s most successful brands have a great story behind them. Just look at Apple (founded by college dropouts out of a garage) or Toms shoes (inspired by the travels of the founder and the barefoot children he met along the way).

If you can use content to tell the story of your brand in an engaging way, you’ll build an emotional connection with your audience that will make them want to read more, interact more, and buy more from your brand.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today–and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

By Michael Brenner

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Marketing Insider Group

The Marketing Insider Group provides content marketing workshops and content development services. Scale your content and start showing Content Marketing ROI today. Free Consultation

Services

Hinge

The number one criteria prospective clients use when they’re selecting a firm is expertise. In this video, Liz Harr shares the top 3 ways to demonstrate your expertise for greater visibility and marketplace reputation. For more content just like this, connect with Liz & Hinge: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eharr/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElizHarr LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/153024/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/HingeMarketing Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HingeMarketing Professional Services Executive Forum: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/3828540

The Perseverance Of Resilient Leadership: Sustaining Impact On The Road To Thrive

A few months ago, we imagined “thriving” as leading our organizations to a better normal after the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet our responsibilities as leaders now are further compounded by concurrent challenges of racial injustices, climate change, and economic uncertainties. Getting to “Thrive” appears more arduous and lengthier than many of us imagined… or hoped for.

The first wave and recurrences of COVID-19 continue to plague many parts of the world. Seventy-six percent of companies and many geographies in our most recent analysis are still in the Respond and Recover phases of the crisis[i]. Even companies and geographies that have entered the Thrive phase realize that we are all in this long journey together, because our prospects are inextricably linked.

The future of each of our organizations, though, is not preordained. As resilient leaders, one of our most critical roles right now is to sustain: to sustain our people, many of whom are experiencing not only fatigue but more stresses than they ever have; to sustain our organizations in continuing to create value for all stakeholders; and to sustain society as it experiences multiple existential threats. But just as important, we must also sustain our own ability to lead so that we can continue to serve over the long journey ahead.

Sustaining our people

Our people are undergoing unprecedented levels of stress and uncertainty: workers who have suffered deep personal losses from COVID-19 and/or racial injustices; parents stretching to navigate childcare and major uncertainties over schooling responsibilities while still meeting work commitments; even the loss of basic grandchild-grandparent physical connections. It requires both empathy and courage on our part to lead them forward.

As leaders, we need to empathize with and acknowledge the myriad challenges our people are currently coping with, including feelings of ambiguous loss and toxic stress.

With both ambiguous loss and toxic stress, the better definition of an endpoint and a reduction in uncertainty are important ways we can support our teams. For example, Deloitte has hosted Zoom-based workshops where a cross-section of our people helped to inform return-to-the workplace programs—giving them a greater sense of control. Likewise, sponsoring projects that have a defined endpoint and outcome—where teams can declare that they are “done”—also helps to counter both ambiguous loss and toxic stress.

Additionally, having courageous conversations is at the heart of taking decisive, bold leadership actions, which are even more critical now to sustaining our people. Such conversations enable us to deliver truthful messages and real-time feedback amid the crisis, and require courage:

  • To address difficult situations such as business closures, layoffs, and furloughs rather than ignoring them and hoping they go away
  •  To decide and implement a course of action, even when unpopular
  • To speak the truth about the situation, why each decision was made, and acknowledge the implications

Sustaining our organizations

In the Respond phase of the crisis, most organizations’ leaders found they needed to play defense: keeping their values, their people, their customers, and their business at the forefront. But to thrive in the next normal, we will have to play both defense and offense, working to protect our people and our business, but also taking the longer view. We need to lean into the wind and make contrarian moves now so we can come out of the crisis with momentum and a competitive edge. Many companies will play defense, not offense. Winners will do both[ii].

Crises typically prompt major opportunities such as accelerating innovations, expanding ecosystem relationships, anticipating changing market structures, and creating new business models. Many of us watched silos crumble almost overnight in the rush to respond to COVID-19: Teams became more cross-functional, while ideas, experiences, resources, and expertise were quickly shared in ways that enabled organizations to take more informed, holistic actions. Leaders should consider which of those barriers can be permanently removed.

Sustaining society

Sustaining society requires us as resilient leaders to take an even more active role in influencing social systems and structures for the greater good. Leadership for the greater good requires followership, and followership is engendered by trust.

Within society more broadly, trust is needed now more urgently than ever, particularly amid the uncertainties of social disruption and the changing role of institutions. As we consider the organizational and institutional changes in systems and structures, building trust will be essential to successfully guiding society.

Additionally, influence is one of the most impactful and lasting contributions. Where there is racial or economic injustice, it is often ossified systems and entrenched institutions that perpetuate the unfair status quo. Given each of our organizations’ vast web of relationships—with customers, vendors, ecosystem partners, governments, communities—how do we connect and leverage the full potential of these networks to reform social systems and structures?

Sustaining our ability to lead

We owe it to our people, our organizations, and society to be personally fit in mind, body, and purpose to serve them over the long haul. Facing what may be the most extraordinary leadership challenge in our lifetimes, the risk is that we will cross the depletion point before we recognize it. We must not only sustain others—we must sustain ourselves.

None of us know how long the COVID-19 crisis will last or the path the virus will take. Likewise, the major disruptions stemming from racial injustices, social inequality, climate change, and economic stress may further lengthen the path to a “better” normal. As CEOs, we are called upon to sustain through the crisis.

These sustaining responsibilities are akin to a stone dropped in a pond: The stone drops deep into the water, sustaining our ability to lead by looking inward; the ripples reach out to sustain our employees by walking alongside them, our organizations by courageously refining the strategy and playing offense, and society by investing in trust to make positive social change in institutions and systems.

To learn more about what it takes to be a resilient leader on the road to Thrive, please click here.

[i] Based on survey of Deloitte client service leaders, July 16–20, 2020.

[ii] The tension between defense and offense is similar to the tension within “ambidexterity” between optimization and exploration in Benjamin Finzi, Vincent Firth, and Mark Lipton’s Ambidextrous leadership: Keystone of the undisruptable CEO, Deloitte Insights, October 18, 2018.

Punit Renjen

Punit Renjen

Punit is in his 33rd year with Deloitte and became CEO of Deloitte Global in June 2015. Deloitte operates in more than 150 countries, with approximately 300,000 professionals. Punit is also a member of the Deloitte Global Board of Directors.

As Deloitte Global CEO, Punit set in motion a global strategy to achieve undisputed leadership in professional services. In his first term, he led efforts that resulted in double-digit aggregate revenue growth globally, with Deloitte becoming the largest of the professional services organizations. Currently Deloitte is recognized as the strongest and most valuable commercial services brand. Also, during his tenure, Deloitte advanced audit quality through significant investments and focus.

As a tangible expression of Deloitte’s commitment to its purpose of making an impact that matters, Punit launched Deloitte’s signature corporate responsibility program, WorldClass, to empower 50 million people to succeed in a rapidly changing global economy. Punit is also committed to advancing diversity and inclusion at Deloitte, including through measurable actions toward gender balance across Deloitte and within its leadership ranks.

In June 2019, he started serving his second elected term.

Punit has held several leadership roles within Deloitte, including serving as the chairman of Deloitte LLP (US) from 2011-2015 and before that, as CEO of Deloitte Consulting LLP (US). During his tenure as CEO of Deloitte Consulting, the practice experienced tremendous growth despite an ongoing recession, helping it become one of the largest consulting organizations according to leading analysts’ rankings.

Outside of Deloitte, Punit is a member of The Business Roundtable, The International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, and serves as the member of several not for profit boards including at the United Way Worldwide (chairman) and the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (vice chairman). He was named an honoree to the 2012, 2013 and 2014 National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) “Directorship 100.”

Punit was born and raised in India. He moved to the United States after receiving a Rotary Foundation Scholarship to Willamette University. He has served on the board of trustees of Willamette University and was named among the 100 most influential business leaders who have graduated from schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. In the spring of 2019, Willamette University conferred upon Punit an honorary doctorate. He is married and has a son.

6 Tips for Building Trust With Your Child’s Doctors – Beth Arky

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Find clinicians who get your kid.

“We have an exceptional relationship with our OT and a solid one with our developmental pediatrician,” Dana W. writes. “They value our kiddo in ways the regular world doesn’t. [The OT] had one 90-minute session with him and she spoke our language. In so many other situations, I feel like I’m my child’s translator. [The doctor] has ‘Great minds don’t all think alike’ on his business cards. Our child never feels broken or different to them. They make him laugh and work hard.”

Make your needs known.

“I vented about the initial pediatrician (who was very judgmental and rigid) and let the new pediatrician know what I needed from her so that my anxiety would be lower,” writes Dede W.

Keep your pediatrician in the loop.

Interview doctors before establishing a relationship,” Sonya S. writes. “Keep the pediatrician in the loop with all the other specialists. Visits are inherently rushed, but [keep] the conversation … focused and effective.”

Use your pediatrician as a resource.

“I love my children’s pediatrician,” Julie C. writes. “She trusts what mom says and will give great referrals. She and I have both learned over the years that she can help best by referring out to a specialist!”

Find someone you and your child trust.

“I’ve found that many doctors in the same area can be very opinionated [about] one another and have different methods and ideas [about] treatment,” Jenny K. writes. “You really need to shop around and find someone you and your child can trust.”

Collaboration is key.

“While stimulants can be helpful for focus, the side effects … can make the benefit not worth it,” Marilyn L. writes. “Luckily, there are different options. Find a doctor who can work with you to find a combination of behavioral, therapeutic, nutritional and pharmacologic interventions.” Kristin T adds, “It’s important to create a team that listens and works together. We connect with each provider and make sure [they all connect] in a collaborative space.”

Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

What Do Customers Want in Life Insurance – Tony Vidler

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In the life insurance area of financial services the answer is even tougher to find than usual, because insurance is for virtually all consumers an absolute grudge purchase.  When we think about it logically every person who buys insurance (especially life or disability insurance) hopes that they are wasting their money…the last thing they want is a claim, isn’t it?

Simplistically it seems obvious enough that customers want money to turn up quickly and painlessly to help a surviving family or business adjust to the loss of a person.  That’s the end result that customers are looking for of course, but the more vexing question at the front end of the process is what do customers want when trying to determine which insurer should be chosen?

The research that I have seen during the last 5 years shows that there are common themes globally, regardless of cultural or geographic or demographic issues.  The primary areas of concern for consumers are:

  • simplicity
  • transparency
  • trust
  • loyalty

Each of these areas can be considered from two different perspectives: Product, and, People.

Product

Generally consumers want to be able to make good choices through comparison, to determine relative value.  An ongoing issue in life insurance is the difficulty for consumers to easily compare different options and products, despite the prevalence of online pricing comparators that have evolved in recent years.  Comparing price of the products remains relatively meaningless if the consumer is unable to differentiate the products themselves from each other in terms of how they work, or might be expected to perform.

The terminology that the industry uses contributes to the lack of simplicity for consumers, but so too does the inability to explain in clear terms why a particular product might be superior or unique, or why the pricing is what it is.

This lack of simplicity and transparency in product undermines the general desire to establish a commercial relationship based upon trust, as the complexity actually generates levels of distrust. The majority of consumers know full well that the life insurance is likely to be something which they hold for many years, so establishing trust in the insurer and the product at the outset is a major factor.

So too is the expectation of loyalty from consumers according to the research.  The customers expect largely to have some form of loyalty recognition built into the insurance-customer relationship that rewards the years of patient premium payment.  This is an area where generally the product manufacturers perform pretty poorly.

People

The second key area where these core consumer needs must be met if the industry (and its products) wants greater support and participation from consumers is from the people representing the industry and its products.

Without doubt there has been significant focus upon the “transparency” issues for advisers in recent years, largely as a result of evolving professionalism across the industry globally, supported by regulatory reform.  Yet, the research suggests that consumers feel that the industry is not yet transparent enough.  And that extends well beyond just the advisers these days.

  There is a growing public perception that the people inside institutions, and indeed the institutions themselves, are not transparent enough.  Of course many on the distribution side of the fence (the advisers) actually agree with the consumer here.

The complexity that remains within product and pricing presents opportunity for industry professionals to demonstrate value and meet a core customer need, thought to do that successfully requires establishing the required levels of trust.  Higher levels of transparency from all parties in the product design, implementation and servicing chain will assist with establishing higher levels of trust, but so too will greater simplicity in terminology and improved communications with the market at large as well as individual clients.

For all the technical excellence which has been created, it seems apparent that consumers are not giving the industry a pass mark on simplicity.  Or transparency.  Or communications.  And we certainly do not appear to be on loyalty to long-standing customers either.  One can only conclude that the pace of change and the use of technology to increase financial literacy and place information together with control of personal data into the consumers hands will escalate.

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