A Brief Introduction to Captive Insurance

Over the past 20 years, many small businesses have begun to insure their own risks through a product called "Captive Insurance." Small captives (also known as single-parent captives) are insurance companies established by the owners of closely held businesses looking to insure risks that are either too costly or too difficult to insure through the traditional insurance marketplace. Brad Barros, an expert in the field of captive insurance, explains how "all captives are treated as corporations and must be managed in a method consistent with rules established with both the IRS and the appropriate insurance regulator."

According to Barros, often single parent captives are owned by a trust, partnership or other structure established by the premium payer or his family. When properly designed and administered, a business can make tax-deductible premium payments to their related-party insurance company. Depending on circumstances, underwriting profits, if any, can be paid out to the owners as dividends, and profits from liquidation of the company may be taxed at capital gains.

Premium payers and their captives may garner tax benefits only when the captive operates as a real insurance company. Alternatively, advisers and business owners who use captives as estate planning tools, asset protection vehicles, tax deferral or other benefits not related to the true business purpose of an insurance company may face grave regulatory and tax consequences.

Many captive insurance companies are often formed by US businesses in jurisdictions outside of the United States. The reason for this is that foreign jurisdictions offer lower costs and greater flexibility than their US counterparts. As a rule, US businesses can use foreign-based insurance companies so long as the jurisdiction meets the insurance regulatory standards required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

There are several notable foreign jurisdictions whose insurance regulations are recognized as safe and effective. These include Bermuda and St. Lucia. Bermuda, while more expensive than other jurisdictions, is home to many of the largest insurance companies in the world. St. Lucia, a more reasonably priced location for smaller captives, is noteworthy for statutes that are both progressive and compliant. St. Lucia is also acclaimed for recently passing "Incorporated Cell" legislation, modeled after similar statutes in Washington, DC.

Common Captive Insurance Abuses; While captives remain highly beneficial to many businesses, some industry professionals have begun to improperly market and misuse these structures for purposes other than those intended by Congress. The abuses include the following:

1. Improper risk shifting and risk distribution, aka "Bogus Risk Pools"

2. High deductibles in captive-pooled arrangements; Re insuring captives through private placement variable life insurance schemes

3. Improper marketing

4. Inappropriate life insurance integration

Meeting the high standards imposed by the IRS and local insurance regulators can be a complex and expensive proposition and should only be done with the assistance of competent and experienced counsel. The ramifications of failing to be an insurance company can be devastating and may include the following penalties:

1. Loss of all deductions on premiums received by the insurance company

2. Loss of all deductions from the premium payer

3. Forced distribution or liquidation of all assets from the insurance company effectuating additional taxes for capital gains or dividends

4. Potential adverse tax treatment as a Controlled Foreign Corporation

5. Potential adverse tax treatment as a Personal Foreign Holding Company (PFHC)

6. Potential regulatory penalties imposed by the insuring jurisdiction

7. Potential penalties and interest imposed by the IRS.

All in all, the tax consequences may be greater than 100% of the premiums paid to the captive. In addition, attorneys, CPA's wealth advisors and their clients may be treated as tax shelter promoters by the IRS, causing fines as great as $ 100,000 or more per transaction.

Clearly, establishing a captive insurance company is not something that should be taken lightly. It is critical that businesses seeking to establish a captive work with competent attorneys and accountants who have the requisite knowledge and experience necessary to avoid the pitfalls associated with abusive or poorly designed insurance structures. A general rule of thumb is that a captive insurance product should have a legal opinion covering the essential elements of the program. It is well recognized that the opinion should be provided by an independent, regional or national law firm.

Risk Shifting and Risk Distribution Abuses; Two key elements of insurance are those of shifting risk from the insured party to others (risk shifting) and subsequently allocating risk amongst a large pool of insured's (risk distribution). After many years of litigation, in 2005 the IRS released a Revenue Ruling (2005-40) describing the essential elements required in order to meet risk shifting and distribution requirements.

For those who are self-insured, the use of the captive structure approved in Rev. Ruling 2005-40 has two advantages. First, the parent does not have to share risks with any other parties. In Ruling 2005-40, the IRS announced that the risks can be shared within the same economic family as long as the separate subsidiary companies (a minimum of 7 are required) are formed for non-tax business reasons, and that the separateness of these subsidiaries also has a business reason. Furthermore, "risk distribution" is afforded so long as no insured subsidiary has provided more than 15% or less than 5% of the premiums held by the captive. Second, the special provisions of insurance law allowing captives to take a current deduction for an estimate of future losses, and in some circumstances shelter the income earned on the investment of the reserves, reduces the cash flow needed to fund future claims from about 25% to nearly 50%. In other words, a well-designed captive that meets the requirements of 2005-40 can bring about a cost savings of 25% or more.

While some businesses can meet the requirements of 2005-40 within their own pool of related entities, most privately held companies cannot. Therefore, it is common for captives to purchase "third party risk" from other insurance companies, often spending 4% to 8% per year on the amount of coverage necessary to meet the IRS requirements.

One of the essential elements of the purchased risk is that there is a reasonable likelihood of loss. Because of this exposure, some promoters have attempted to circumvent the intention of Revenue Ruling 2005-40 by directing their clients into "bogus risk pools." In this somewhat common scenario, an attorney or other promoter will have 10 or more of their clients' captives enter into a collective risk-sharing agreement. Included in the agreement is a written or unwritten agreement not to make claims on the pool. The clients like this arrangement because they get all of the tax benefits of owning a captive insurance company without the risk associated with insurance. Unfortunately for these businesses, the IRS views these types of arrangements as something other than insurance.

Risk sharing agreements such as these are considered without merit and should be avoided at all costs. They amount to nothing more than a glorified pretax savings account. If it can be shown that a risk pool is bogus, the protective tax status of the captive can be denied and the severe tax ramifications described above will be enforced.

It is well known that the IRS looks at arrangements between owners of captives with great suspicion. The gold standard in the industry is to purchase third party risk from an insurance company. Anything less opens the door to potentially catastrophic consequences.

Abusively High Deductibles; Some promoters sell captives, and then have their captives participate in a large risk pool with a high deductible. Most losses fall within the deductible and are paid by the captive, not the risk pool.

These promoters may advise their clients that since the deductible is so high, there is no real likelihood of third party claims. The problem with this type of arrangement is that the deductible is so high that the captive fails to meet the standards set forth by the IRS. The captive looks more like a sophisticated pre tax savings account: not an insurance company.

A separate concern is that the clients may be advised that they can deduct all their premiums paid into the risk pool. In the case where the risk pool has few or no claims (compared to the losses retained by the participating captives using a high deductible), the premiums allocated to the risk pool are simply too high. If claims don't occur, then premiums should be reduced. In this scenario, if challenged, the IRS will disallow the deduction made by the captive for unnecessary premiums ceded to the risk pool. The IRS may also treat the captive as something other than an insurance company because it did not meet the standards set forth in 2005-40 and previous related rulings.

Private Placement Variable Life Reinsurance Schemes; Over the years promoters have attempted to create captive solutions designed to provide abusive tax free benefits or "exit strategies" from captives. One of the more popular schemes is where a business establishes or works with a captive insurance company, and then remits to a Reinsurance Company that portion of the premium commensurate with the portion of the risk re-insured.

Typically, the Reinsurance Company is wholly-owned by a foreign life insurance company. The legal owner of the reinsurance cell is a foreign property and casualty insurance company that is not subject to US income taxation. Practically, ownership of the Reinsurance Company can be traced to the cash value of a life insurance policy a foreign life insurance company issued to the principal owner of the Business, or a related party, and which insures the principle owner or a related party.

1. The IRS may apply the sham-transaction doctrine.

2. The IRS may challenge the use of a reinsurance agreement as an improper attempt to divert income from a taxable entity to a tax-exempt entity and will reallocate income.

3. The life insurance policy issued to the Company may not qualify as life insurance for US Federal income tax purposes because it violates the investor control restrictions.

Investor Control; The IRS has reiterated in its published revenue rulings, its private letter rulings, and its other administrative pronouncements, that the owner of a life insurance policy will be considered the income tax owner of the assets legally owned by the life insurance policy if the policy owner possesses "incidents of ownership" in those assets. Generally, in order for the life insurance company to be considered the owner of the assets in a separate account, control over individual investment decisions must not be in the hands of the policy owner.

The IRS prohibits the policy owner, or a party related to the policy holder, from having any right, either directly or indirectly, to require the insurance company, or the separate account, to acquire any particular asset with the funds in the separate account. In effect, the policy owner cannot tell the life insurance company what particular assets to invest in. And, the IRS has announced that there cannot be any prearranged plan or oral understanding as to what specific assets can be invested in by the separate account (commonly referred to as "indirect investor control"). And, in a continuing series of private letter rulings, the IRS consistently applies a look-through approach with respect to investments made by separate accounts of life insurance policies to find indirect investor control. Recently, the IRS issued published guidelines on when the investor control restriction is violated. This guidance discusses reasonable and unreasonable levels of policy owner participation, thereby establishing safe harbors and impermissible levels of investor control.

The ultimate factual determination is straight-forward. Any court will ask whether there was an understanding, be it orally communicated or tacitly understood, that the separate account of the life insurance policy will invest its funds in a reinsurance company that issued reinsurance for a property and casualty policy that insured the risks of a business where the life insurance policy owner and the person insured under the life insurance policy are related to or are the same person as the owner of the business deducting the payment of the property and casualty insurance premiums?

If this can be answered in the affirmative, then the IRS should be able to successfully convince the Tax Court that the investor control restriction is violated. It then follows that the income earned by the life insurance policy is taxable to the life insurance policy owner as it is earned.

The investor control restriction is violated in the structure described above as these schemes generally provide that the Reinsurance Company will be owned by the segregated account of a life insurance policy insuring the life of the owner of the Business related to the owner of the Business. If one draws a circle, all of the monies paid as premiums by the Business cannot become available for unrelated, third-parties. Therefore, any court looking at this structure could easily conclude that each step in the structure was prearranged, and that the investor control restriction is violated.

Suffice it to say that the IRS announced in Notice 2002-70, 2002-2 CB 765, that it would apply both the sham transaction doctrine and ยงยง 482 or 845 to reallocate income from a non-taxable entity to a taxable entity to situations involving property and casualty reinsurance arrangements similar to the described reinsurance structure.

Even if the property and casualty premiums are reasonable and satisfy the risk sharing and risk distribution requirements so that the payment of these premiums is deductible in full for US income tax purposes, the ability of the Business to currently deduct its premium payments on its US income tax returns is entirely separate from the question of whether the life insurance policy qualifies as life insurance for US income tax purposes.

Inappropriate Marketing; One of the ways in which captives are sold is through aggressive marketing designed to highlight benefits other than real business purpose. Captives are corporations. As such, they can offer valuable planning opportunities to shareholders. However, any potential benefits, including asset protection, estate planning, tax advantaged investing, etc., must be secondary to the real business purpose of the insurance company.

Recently, a large regional bank began offering "business and estate planning captives" to customers of their trust department. Again, a rule of thumb with captives is that they must operate as real insurance companies. Real insurance companies sell insurance, not "estate planning" benefits. The IRS may use abusive sales promotion materials from a promoter to deny the compliance and subsequent deductions related to a captive. Given the substantial risks associated with improper promotion, a safe bet is to only work with captive promoters whose sales materials focus on captive insurance company ownership; not estate, asset protection and investment planning benefits. Better still would be for a promoter to have a large and independent regional or national law firm review their materials for compliance and confirm in writing that the materials meet the standards set forth by the IRS.

The IRS can look back several years to abusive materials, and then suspecting that a promoter is marketing an abusive tax shelter, begin a costly and potentially devastating examination of the insured's and marketers.

Abusive Life Insurance Arrangements; A recent concern is the integration of small captives with life insurance policies. Small captives treated under section 831 (b) have no statutory authority to deduct life premiums. Also, if a small captive uses life insurance as an investment, the cash value of the life policy can be taxable to the captive, and then be taxable again when distributed to the ultimate beneficial owner. The consequence of this double taxation is to devastate the efficacy of the life insurance and, it extends serious levels of liability to any accountant recommends the plan or even signs the tax return of the business that pays premiums to the captive.

The IRS is aware that several large insurance companies are promoting their life insurance policies as investments with small captives. The outcome looks eerily like that of the thousands of 419 and 412 (I) plans that are currently under audit.

All in all Captive insurance arrangements can be tremendously beneficial. Unlike in the past, there are now clear rules and case histories defining what constitutes a properly designed, marketed and managed insurance company. Unfortunately, some promoters abuse, bend and twist the rules in order to sell more captives. Often, the business owner who is purchasing a captive is unaware of the enormous risk he or she faces because the promoter acted improperly. Sadly, it is the insured and the beneficial owner of the captive who face painful consequences when their insurance company is deemed to be abusive or non-compliant. The captive industry has skilled professionals providing compliant services. Better to use an expert supported by a major law firm than a slick promoter who sells something that sounds too good to be true.

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Looking for Musical Instruments for Sale

If your kid clearly has a talent for music and wants to pursue it, it’s time you thought about his music education. Before you start looking for musical instruments for sale, consider the following points before making the purchase.

You are really lucky if your child is sure about which instrument to play. But before you go to a store and buy that instrument, think – should you buy musical instruments on your own? Or is it better to consult a music teacher before buying?

There are so many things to consider before simply going to a store that offers musical instruments for sale. Should you buy a used instrument or should you go for a new one? Let’s discuss some important matters in this article.

If money is not a problem for you, then I certainly advise you to buy a new musical instrument for your talented kid. There is a wide variety of instruments available, but make an informed choice by gathering the knowledge you need for selecting one.

If you go and see the range of pianos, you’ll find that all of them look similar from the inside, like clones of each other. They only look different on the outside with various colours and shapes. But there are differences in the sounds they produce, and only someone with a good musical ear is able to distinguish those.

Moreover, the keyboard has various degrees of softness. The hammer mechanism that strikes on the strings doesn’t have the same softness in all pianos. Only a piano professional can determine which piano is most suitable for the tender fingers of your little kid. Sometimes an adjuster can help make the decision, but all adjusters by rule are former violinists and cellists.

You should never buy a guitar, violin or cello from any store offering musical instruments for sale, unless you take a music teacher along. Only a teacher knows the best manufacturers, brands and the right size for your kid. There are just so many subtleties in instrument selection that it is best left to a professional.

For example, a piano may be something that anyone regardless of age can play, but it’s not the same with a violin. A violin meant for adults will be too much of a burden for kids! Also, you need to closely identify the subtleties in sound. The sound of the instrument needs to be consistent for a long duration; else you will end up needing to adjust it often. For adjusting, you must know everything about the instrument neck and string length.

Even when selecting brass or woodwind instruments, you need the keen ear of a music teacher.

If you have limited amount of money to spare, you can surely consider the used musical instruments for sale, provided you consult a music teacher.

Good luck with your purchase and I wish your child a successful music education!

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Freakiest Events In College Football 2011

As the year comes to a close, let’s take a look at the freakiest events that occurred related to the game we all love. In no particular order, these are some of the most memorable happenings in football throughout the past year.

The Demise of Ohio State and Jim Tressel

The block “O” which stood for so much in the Jim Tressel-led Ohio State program began to crumble as the Buckeyes were preparing for last year’s Sugar Bowl. It was reported that several players, including star QB Terrelle Pryor, received improper benefits from a local tattoo parlor owner in December. The players were then suspended, not for the bowl game, but for the first five games of the 2011 season.

Later, it was found that Tressel was aware of the improprieties but did not report them. On May 29th, Tressel resigned amidst pressure from the Ohio State administration. Interim coach Luke Fickell went 6-6, just 3-5 in the Big Ten, and the Buckeyes hired Ohio-native Urban Meyer to lead the program. Meyer was “rewarded” with a 2012 bowl ban thanks to the Sweater Vest.

Jumping Ship: Conference Realignment Continued

With Nebraska in the Big Ten and Colorado and Utah both part of the new PAC-12, 2011 continued the trend of conference shuffles as Texas A&M decided it had enough of the Longhorn Network and Texas and skedaddled to the SEC. A few weeks later Missouri was on the radar as the next team that would make the jump from the Big 12 to the SEC. Pittsburgh and Syracuse, plank owners in the Big East, will become part of the ACC, and TCU, which was scheduled to become a Big East member, peaced out and joined the Big 12. West Virginia has decided to do the same, that is, leave the Big East and join the Big 12 even as a lawsuit threatens the move. San Diego State, Boise State, Houston, SMU, UCF and Navy decided that they would all join the Big East. Get all of that? There will be a test before next season.

Robert Griffin III Wins the Heisman

The most interesting man in college football, and also the freakiest, was awarded the Heisman Trophy in a season to remember for Baylor fans. RG III was always on the grid, but Baylor is hardly a household name in college football. robert griffin iiiThe 6-2, 225-pound junior, who has graduated already, put the Bears on the map quickly. The first Friday night of the college football season saw RGIII lead his Bears to a five touchdown, 50-48 upset of TCU in front of a nationally televised audience. Later he threw for 551 yards and threw a last-minute TD to defeat Oklahoma. He capped off Baylor’s 10-3 season this week leading the Bears to a 67-56 win in the Alamo Bowl. Great arm, superb knowledge of the game, incredible speed… the freakiest player in the game!

Freaky High School Performances

Several high school football records were broken this season with some freakish numbers. Jonathan Gray, a senior at Aledo (TX) HS, set a national record for career touchdowns with… 205! That’s an average of over 50 per year! Gray also finished second in career points scored with 1,232.

Hillcrest (MO) HS senior WR Dorial Green-Beckham broke the career receiving yards record with 6,356. Maty Mauk, a senior QB at Kenton (OH) HS finished his career by breaking the national records in passing yards, TD passes, completions, attempts, and total yards. Here’s a breakdown of his freakish numbers:

Passing yards 18,932

TD passes 219

Completions 1,353

Attempts 2,110

Total yards 22,681

The Year of the Pack

The Green Bay Packers backed into the 2011 playoffs, then went 4-0 in the post-season capped by a Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The winning continued as the Packers won the first 13 games of the new season led by likely NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers. It would be the NFL’s second-longest winning streak, 19 games, before an upset loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14.

Case Keenum Rewrites Record Books

Granted a sixth year of eligibility, Case Keenum made it count. He led Houston to a magical 11-1 season in which the Cougars led the nation in total offense and scoring. Keenum finishes his career with 18,685 passing yards, 152 touchdowns, and the career leader in completions with 1,501.

Tim Tebow

That’s probably all that needs said, but for those who may not be tuned in, Tebow was toiling as a #3 QB with the Broncos as they started this season 1-4. The former Florida star and Heisman Trophy winner was inserted into the lineup as the starter and led Denver to an improbable 7-1 record as the Broncos captured first place in the AFC West. In the process, he has converted many into believing that a spread-type QB with a college-type spread offense can succeed in the NFL.

NFL Lockout

After 136 days the NFL owners and players came to a new labor agreement, one that benefits both sides tremendously, and the season proceeded without interruption. As fans, we knew it would get done. We just didn’t know when. Now, we hardly remember it went down.

Freakish NFL Numbers

Entering the final week of the NFL season, Drew Brees has already broken Dan Marino’s record for most passing yards in a season. Brees has 5,087 yards and he is not the only one on schedule to surpass 5,000. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Eli Manning each hit 4,000 yards with three weeks to go. Brady is on pace to hit 5,223. Some freaky numbers and it may continue as all four QBs plus the likes of Philip Rivers and Ben Rothliesberger and others are leading us into another golden age of passing in the NFL.

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A Willful Approach To Safe Weight Loss: Healthy Foods And A Daily Diet Plan For Success

When we’ve decided to transform our eating habits, we generally set out on a daily diet chart to lose weight.

Often we may have health problems, such as high cholesterol and the LDL’s getting out of whack, which is what leads us to eat much healthier.

Since as we are overweight and realize that our eating habits might have gotten in this circumstance to start with, typically times we eat healthier foods to find fitness success.

As you read on keep in the back of your mind this spiritual metaphysical principle of the Course in Miracles: “Without a cause there can be no effects, and yet without effects there is no cause.”

It is possible to simply lose weight, but eventually the person will not see success without changing eating practices to healthy foods.

Healthier Food Consumption

The majority of the time it is the other way around where people start a daily diet plan and begin counting carbohydrates, fat grams, or calories, in some way limiting their food consumption to reach objectives.

Every source you keep reading encourages integrating the daily diet plan strategy with working out or even light exercise, yet not everyone does this right away.

Of course, it is perfect to diet and workout from the beginning some individuals may feel overloaded by taking on too much modification at once, if working out has not been a part of their life.

There are many online support sites to check out, that have a plethora of details for anybody seeking successful results.

Metabolism Burn

Previously I discussed some free information on the net to help you learn more about healthy metabolism burn.

Some daily diet plans work much better for some than others, for example, some plans suggest certain fruits for metabolism burn and quite a drastic cut in carbs, which might not be a suitable for everybody.

There are likewise systems such as all those TV products offering you to eat six times a day and have the meals delivered to your to your home, which can get quite expensive.

On the other hand, some people like the idea of prepared meals delivered to your home and ready for the microwave, especially if on a busy schedule.

All these programs are excellent and provide a good deal of assistance for anybody who wishes get true results, but with a particular amount of commitment invested.

Including Mindfulness

Exercise is motivated, and using Yoga practices to enhance a diet is a mind, body, spirit routine that many are totally thrilled over.

When you do decide to set forth on a plan for safe weight loss, be sure you go to with your healthcare provider first before beginning your program, specifically if you have quite a bit of work ahead of you.

This is also so if you have health concerns that might be on your mind and feeling you should be cautious about.

Exercise should not be contraindicated for anyone and can be customized for each private dieter’s specific requirements.

Your plan should be a commitment to yourself and you need to also integrate even some light exercise into your strategy.

(Please note I also suggest searching the net on topics like trying far too hard to lose weight only to set you back, thus keeping you from succeeding at your fitness objectives.)

To success in your health and fitness goals!

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What Does an Architect Do Versus an Interior Design Firm?

Many people who are considering doing some redecoration are forced to make the decision whether to hire an architect or an interior design firm. The truth is, these two careers can overlap in many ways, but there are some important differences. Before making a decision which type of professional to hire you should determine your needs and do some research to find out what kind of professional would serve you best.

Architect

An architect is an individual who is trained and licensed in the planning and designing of buildings who also supervises the construction. Architects are responsible for adhering to public safety and building codes, so a license is required to practice architecture. Generally, architects award their building projects to general contractors who complete the building process under the supervision of the architect.

Interior Design Firm

Interior design involves applying creative and technical solutions to a building or structure to achieve the desired interior environment. These solutions are both functional and aesthetic serving to enhance the quality of life of the inhabitants and to be aesthetically attractive. The design process involves research and planning in addition to the integration of design knowledge in order to satisfy the needs of a client. Interior designers draw upon the concepts of product design, architecture, and environmental psychology in order to create the atmosphere and design the client wishes to achieve.

The difference between an architect and an interior design firm can be simplified so much as to say that architects work with building structure and interior designers work with building decoration. The lines are not always so well-defined, however. Many architects also possess design degrees and many interior designers are also trained in the disciplines of architecture. Depending on the project, hiring a professional who possesses both qualifications may be exceedingly useful. Projects which involve extensive redecorating or construction may require the license and legal knowledge of an architect in addition to the design knowledge of an interior design firm. The answer to the question of what an architect does versus what an interior design firm does cannot always be answered simply because in many cases, these professionals are capable of the same things.

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Data Science: The Bankable Career Option of the Era

And why not? Making a career in data science will not just be fruitful but also challenging. Challenging because there is a lot to discover in this field and every project will be an adventure ready to be unfolded.

Data science already has market revenue of $2.71 billion and it is expected to touch $20 billion marks by 2025. And if this rate of progress continues, one can only imagine the number of opportunities in near future.

DATA SCIENCE IN A GIST

Whenever there is a lot of data, humans try to make sense out of them. Before it used to be looking at them and derives relationships and patterns out of it, just like observing a graph. Now it is about using several tools and techniques to poke around the data and find meaningful insights which can be proven. These insights help in understanding past trends, analyze the present and predict the future.

Data science includes several areas of expertise:

  • Data engineering and warehousing: These steps often include sourcing, managing and storing of the data into an accessible form.
  • Data mining and statistical analysis: Here the data is explored and visualized using statistical models. This makes it easy to understand the patterns hidden in the data and where and how it is relevant in decision making.
  • Machine learning: This is the most important step in analytics. That is to create algorithms using the combed data, using programming and data models. This helps in creating systems which can understand a problem and give predictions based on it.
  • Data interpretation and presentation: This part involves using business acumen and industry knowledge. So that one can explain when and where the data inferences can be used and how it can help in strategic decision making.

CAREER IN DATA SCIENCE:

Data scientists are professionals who are responsible for collecting and analyzing raw data, which helps in taking a decision and predictive modeling. Data scientists need to have mathematical, statistical, programming and analytical problem-solving skills. And along with technical skills, one should have business skills too, to understand problems and find a solution to it.

One of the most important components of one’s behavior should be of inquisitiveness. If one is curious enough, then one can see problems that no one else can comprehend and will be determined to find a solution to it like a detective.

Responsibilities of a data scientist:

  • Conduct open-ended research.
  • Frame relative questions on the matter.
  • Collect the massive amount of data and clean the data of all its gaps.
  • Explore the data from all its angles to understand its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Analyze the data using algorithms and statistical models to answer the asked questions.
  • Build tools and algorithms for automation.
  • Communicate the results and recommend a useful and effective solution.

HOW TO BE A DATA SCIENTIST:

You can pursue data science, even if you are a student or an experienced professional. Like it is said it’s never too late for anything. You can be a mathematics graduate, a software engineer, a statistician or even masters in economics; you can enter data science as an analyst, programmer, data engineer or architect etc.

One needs to take up data science as their master’s discipline or do a certification course, learn all technical and business skills. And most importantly have a researching and analytical outlook.

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Student Motivation

Student motivation refers to a student's interest, desire, compulsion, and need to participate in and be successful in the learning process. It is generally accepted that student motivation plays a key role in academic learning.

Highly motivated students actively engage more in the learning process than less motivated students. Motivated students have a positive impact on learning. They take advantage of a given opportunity and show intense effort and concentration in the implementation of learning process. Also, they reveal positive emotions such as excitement, enthusiasm, interest, and optimism during learning.

On the other side, the less motivated were found to be less interested in participating in the learning process. Most of them were physically present in the class room but were mentally absent. They often failed to actively engage themselves in the learning tasks. Such students were more likely to stop learning. Less motivated students should be guided so as to develop a favorable attitude towards the learning process.

A teacher or an instructor has a significant role in guiding less motivated students. A technique called attribution retraining, which includes modeling, socialization, and practice exercises, is used to restructure less motivated students. Its aim is to help students to concentrate on the learning task without the fear of failure.

There are two types of student motivation such as extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is defined as the motivation to engage in an activity in order to obtain rewards or to avoid punishments from an external source. Extrinsically motivated students undertake an activity for the sake of getting good grades or a teacher's approval. Extrinsic motivation is again divided into two such as social motivation and material motivation. Social motivations include approval of teachers, parents, and friends. Good grades, future education, or job security come under material motivations.

Intrinsic motivation refers to engaging in an activity for its own sake, for the pleasure and enjoyment it provides. To be more precise, a student who is intrinsically motivated carries out an action for the learning it permits. Compared to extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation is more desirable as it is the motivation to engage in the learning process for the enjoyment of learning without considering its consequences.

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New Book Offers Practical Tips for Achieving Financial Security

In Your Money and You: How to Increase Your Chances of Achieving Financial Security, Deborah Ellis, a longtime Certified Financial Planner (CFP), offers readers a plethora of information about stocks, bonds, saving, investing, allocating your investments, and even individual advice for people in different industries. While the book is full of information, it’s also written in a highly accessible manner. Ellis shares her personal stories of how she began saving money as a child and young woman, how her aunt taught her how to invest and buy stocks, and how things have changed in the decades since she began saving. Her personal experiences then branch into her professional experiences with clients and with years of investing in the market.

I know investing can be scary and confusing, but that’s usually due to a lack of information or the fear that we won’t understand the information. As Ellis shows us, investing is really not that difficult. In fact, anyone who passed middle school math classes can figure it out. What is harder is to learn to save and to break some negative beliefs we may have about money so that we can quit solely working for money and learn to make it work for us. The book opens with a quote from Napoleon Hill, author of the classic book Think and Grow Rich, that states, “If you let it, you will be surprised at how money attracts money.” Nothing could be truer, and Ellis shows us how it can be true for all of us. She states, “I believe that today the stock market is a gateway to opportunity in America. I believe it is a way for almost anyone from any walk of life to build wealth and partake in the American Dream.” Your Money and You shows you just how to pass through that gate.

The book’s opening chapters teach us how to take on a leadership role with our money. Ellis helps us learn how to plan for retirement and what to expect. She walks us through the elements of a financial plan. Then she has us take a financial inventory of where we currently are so we know what we have to work with and what is required to reach our goals. She teaches us how to develop a saving and a spending plan, and finally, how to assemble a team to help us, a team that may include an accountant, a financial advisor, maybe a lawyer, etc. We do not hand over our financial affairs to these people, but rather, we learn to lead them so they can help us achieve our goals. Ellis warns us “if one of your team members has different priorities, a bias, or wants you to go in a direction you don’t agree with, you need to find another team member!” That’s just one example of how Ellis tells it like it is. Another example I love and know is very true is that “If you want to charge something you cannot pay off in full, you cannot afford it.”

Next, Your Money and You gets into all the meat of investing. Ellis walks us through the power of compounded interest and how investing over time can benefit us. She explains to us the differences between stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. She clarifies just exactly what the stock exchange and market indices are, and she teaches us how to understand how different companies and their stocks are rated.

Once Ellis makes sure we understand the market, she gets into the more personal aspects of investing. She helps us understand our risk tolerance for investing, how to diversify our assets, and all the various scenarios we might encounter from inheriting money to winning the lottery and, ultimately, how to go about retiring.

The book closes with some chapters for people in special situations, including those in the military, those in industries like film and television where you may go from feast to famine at different times, and those who are self-employed. A bonus section includes several articles on how to achieve financial security.

Your Money and You is the perfect book to get you started with saving and investing your money. Don’t put off reading it; it’s time to invest in yourself. As Ellis warns us, “money is not static. If you nurture it, it will grow. If you neglect it, you will end up with very little. It is up to you.” Furthermore, Ellis tells us “Investing is not difficult. Developing an investing mindset might take a little more effort.” Your Money and You can help you develop that mindset, and once you do, your money will begin to work for you so that, ultimately, you will not have to work.

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Understanding Healthcare Exchanges: The Basics

Healthcare exchanges are a hot topic in the news today, but many people don’t have an adequate understanding of what these organizations are, what they offer, and how to use them effectively. This guide will help the layperson gain a deeper, practical understanding of the process and their purposes.

Healthcare exchanges are also known as health exchanges and health insurance marketplaces. These organizations help those who use them to purchase health insurance in their local region. Typically, when people refer to a healthcare exchange, they are describing the organizations particular to each state in the United States. These organizations were formed due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This help citizens by consolidating health care plans from various insurance companies which meet government regulations and standards in one place for easy comparison. They also help citizens to identify which plans are available with the assistance of government subsidies.

Healthcare exchanges are an important part of the Affordable Care Act (sometimes called Obama Care). They create a one-stop marketplace for Americans, allowing them to compare and contrast different plans in terms of coverage, cost, benefits, and financial aid. All insurance policies that part of a government regulated healthcare exchange must offer certain features. For example, they can’t deny individuals or families coverage based on pre-existing conditions. They must also offer a benefits package which includes basic coverage for health related emergencies as well as adequate coverage for preventative healthcare.

Insurance companies that participate in a healthcare exchange also can’t discriminate based on gender. This is an important consideration because of the different healthcare needs of men and women; insurance companies can’t charge either gender more under these regulations. Also, insurance companies that participate in these marketplaces are not allowed to enforce spending caps on a yearly basis when it comes to basic benefits. These benefits include all emergency services, necessary hospitalization (in the event of surgery, for example), maternity services like maternal care and newborn services, substance abuse treatment, psychological and psychiatric counseling and medical services, and prescription drugs. In addition, they must cover rehabilitation and habilitation for those who have disabilities, chronic illnesses or conditions, or injuries as part of their basic coverage. Laboratory tests, pediatric medicine, and wellness medical services are also required coverage. These basic benefits are considered to be essential benefits by the healthcare exchange.

Individuals in the United States are required to have health insurance coverage, due to the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act. This provision is sometimes referred to by different names, including the mandatory minimum coverage requirement or the shared responsibility requirement. However, regardless of name, it indicates that those who are not covered will be subject to a fine or fee which starts at about a hundred dollars annually. It can cost up to one percent of an individual’s income if they choose not to get health insurance which fits the government’s minimum requirements. Choosing healthcare through a healthcare exchange is often the best and simplest way to avoid this fee.

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Musical Instrument

Musical instruments are devices that are used to generate music. Musical instruments are generally controlled by the player or the musician to produce the desired sound effects.

Musical instruments are as old as music, and there are still some traditional instruments that date back to centuries before. Each musical instrument has its own melody, pitch, rhythm, timbre, loudness, and duration, as well as the notes and chords.

There are many kinds of musical instruments. The main categories are: chordophones (strings), aerophones (woodwinds and brasses), idiophones (percussion), and membranophones (drums). Stringed instruments produce a sound when a string is plucked or strummed. The sound depends on the mass of the string, length of the vibrating portion of the string, its tension, and the point at which the string is plucked or strummed. It also depends on the kind of resonating cavity in the instrument. Viola, violin, cello, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, harp, lute, banjo, etc, are some of the string instruments.

Woodwinds and brasses generate music when air is made to enter and vibrate within the instrument. The kind of music depends on the shape of the instrument, the length of the column of air, the method of tone production and the construction of the instrument. Flute, piccolo, clarinet, oboe, horn, mouth organ, saxophone, and bassoon are some of the winds instruments, while the French horn, tuba, trumpet, and trombone are brass instruments. Percussion instruments, on the other hand, are those that produce sounds when struck. The shape of the resonating cavity and the size of the instrument determine the sound created. Some percussion musical instruments include the cymbals, the snare drum, bells, gong chime, xylophone, and the timpani. Drums include the frame drum, the tambourine, the goblet drums, the barrel drum, and the friction drum.

Other kinds of musical instruments are the keyboards and electronic instruments. These include the piano, organ, harpsichord, and the Glockenspiel. Each of these musical instruments has sub-categories within them.

Musical instruments can also be categorized on the basis of their playing levels. Some are suitable for all kinds of players while some are for novices. Expert players have their own preferences for musical instruments.

There are many professional dealers of musical instruments who would be able to provide all types information about each instrument in particular. There are also online stores for musical instruments.

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