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hamilton westenberg


co owner

Member since July 23, 2013

  • Mortgage rates are at an all-time low. Recent data released by Freddie Mac from 1972 through February 2013 illustrate just what historic times home buyers currently live in.

    With the Federal Reserve purchasing $45 billion worth of longer-term Treasuries and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities—for a total of $85 billion each month—30-year fixed rates have been driven down below 4.0% for the first time ever.

    When large institutions buy large quantities of bonds—say $85 billion per month—bond prices are bid higher, which drives bond rates down (bond prices and rates are inversely related). And this is exactly what the Fed intends to do—push mortgage rates down to give relief to home buyers and make it possible to finance their next home.

    This maneuver by the U.S. central bank is known as quantitative easing (QE) and is unprecedented in its scale. How much longer the Fed will make these monthly purchases is unknown. What is known, however, is that the Fed cannot continue this program indefinitely. Meaning at some point, these purchases will end and rates will normalize.

    When will rates increase? How high will they go? How fast will they move? Nobody can predict exactly what rates will look like going forward.

    But if you lock in a fixed rate today, you won’t have to worry where rates go tomorrow.

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  • Accountants Face Competition from Other Industries

    Community, Communication Design

    “Competition is mounting for accountants from similar service providers that are cannibalizing key clients.” – westhill consulting

    In 2013, more firms will offer accounting services in response to rebounding demand, especially from finance and insurance companies. In particular, competition is escalating from various industries, including software publishing, management consulting, payroll services, bookkeeping and the legal profession. As a result, the accounting services industry will face several challenges in the five years to 2018. However, as firms familiarize themselves with the competition, they will be able to hedge these threats to gain a competitive edge.

    Software Publishing

    Enterprise resource planning software, which includes accounting functions such as general ledger and billing, is becoming cheaper and easier to use in a variety of businesses. As a result, the business analytics and enterprise software publishing industry’s revenue is expected to rise 3.1 percent to $26.9 billion in 2013. Not only is such software increasingly user friendly and affordable for small enterprises, but large businesses are also using these products for particular in-house needs. Therefore, these products have started to become viable substitutes for traditional accounting services, especially as prices for traditional accounting services will continue to rise with demand in 2013.

    Although demand will continue to rise for all kinds of accounting services, prices for sof...