The Zika virus is the latest health crisis to strike, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a public health alert for travel to places where the virus is spreading. But the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an alert of its own this week, warning investors about investment scams around Zika. Some companies claim to be developing products or services related to Zika when they are not. The agency says investors and advisors should be on the lookout for red flags such as unregistered investment professionals, promises of high returns with little or no risk, unsolicited offers—sometimes on social media—pump-and-dump schemes and microcap stocks. “Before investing in a company that claims its products or services relate to the Zika virus, carefully review all information you receive about the investment,” the SEC said.
Small and mid-sized businesses, particularly financial firms, will be the most targeted for cyberattacks this year. Why? While many cyber protections, such as employee training against phishing attacks, are relatively inexpensive, few companies actually hire outside experts, and most do not consider themselves a target. Cybersecurity company TruShield Security Solutions predicts that organizations with approximately 150 to 1,200 employees are the most vulnerable to attacks in the form of ransomware, banking trojans, phishing schemes and distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) outages. Of the over 400 confirmed attacks the company investigated in 2015, almost half were from companies within financial services.
Online advisory firm Personal Capital analyzed 150 million anonymous transactions made in bank accounts synced with its platform to create a new study on how Americans are spending and saving. Bill Harris, the CEO of Personal Capital, said the good news is that customers in 42 of the 50 states are prioritizing saving for retirement over spending on hobbies, but there's still room for improvement on retirement. For example, millennials are spending nearly 60 percent of their food budget on restaurants, and people are spending nearly 137 percent more per transaction on coffee by going to Starbucks instead of Dunkin’ Donuts or Peet’s Coffee. “Our goal is to help more Americans understand how small, repeat spending decisions affect their financial standing down the road,” Harris said. “Whether it’s the choice to shop at Costco over Whole Foods, or the decision to prioritize spending on hobbies over saving for retirement, it all adds up.”
Millennials are in far too much debt right now to be able to look 40 (or more) years down the road to retirement, writes Steven Butler on Ozy.com. Butler talked with Laura Varas, founder of Hearts & Wallets, a financial industry research firm, who found that financial services is smartly creating new products not aimed at end-of-life retirement planning, but instead on "financial wellness and smart investment." That's because, unlike generations before them, millennials are starting their adult life heavily indebted; they also marry and prepare to buy homes later. So instead of focusing on the golden years, they're looking at paying down debt, saving for a down payment on a house and building an emergency fund.