Financial Best Practices

Financial Best Practices

Don't Get Phished!
by Heather Kadavy, AVP, Risk and Information Security, Union Bank and Trust

What is a social engineering attack?
In a social engineering attack, an attacker uses human interaction (social skills) to obtain or compromise information about an organization or its computer systems. An attacker may seem unassuming and respectable, possibly claiming to be a new employee, repair person, or researcher and even offering credentials to support that identity. Read More

Business Succession Planning - Buy-Sell Agreement Basics
by Alex J. Wolf and Clark R. Youngman, Attorneys, Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O.

This is the final article in a three part series intended to demystify business succession planning and its implementation. The first article provided a high-level overview of the succession planning process. The second article outlined some foundational aspects of succession planning, including information about the “basic” estate plan documents and other considerations. This third article will provide an overview of buy-sell arrangements, including the types of buy-sell agreements, common provisions included in buy-sell agreements and the typical “trigger events” that they cover. Read More

Business Succession Planning - The Foundation
by Alex J. Wolf and Clark R. Youngman, Attorneys, Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O.

This is the second in a three part series of articles attempting to demystify business succession planning and its implementation. The first article provided a high-level overview of the succession planning process. This second article will outline some foundational aspects of succession planning, including information about the “basic” estate plan documents and other considerations. The third article will provide an overview of buy-sell arrangements. Read More

Business Succession Planning – The Process
by Alex J. Wolf and Clark R. Youngman, Attorneys, Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O.

Proper succession planning can often mean the difference between the success or failure of a business following the retirement, incapacity or death of the business’ founder. Yet, many businesses have not undertaken any efforts to implement a proper succession plan. Often, this is due to a business owner not wanting to think about his/her own mortality. Read More

Defend, Indemnify, and Hold Harmless? Is There Any Difference?
by Monica L. Freeman, Woods & Aitken LLP

Virtually all construction contracts contain indemnification provisions. While provisions may vary in length and complexity, one important thing to think about when drafting or reviewing an indemnification provision is the specific indemnity-related obligation you have been asked to undertake or you are expecting the other party to undertake. Read More

Business Succession Planning Blueprint
by David Dvorak and David Mayer, Attorneys, Koley Jessen

For a moment imagine that your business has accepted a contract for a highly profitable job. Successful completion of the job will ultimately involve allocating the work among employees and/or subcontractors, engaging in business with your suppliers, working closely with your bonding agent and communicating with the customer. Read More

Blame it on the Rain (or Snow or Ice . . . )
Understanding Your Contract's Weather Provisions

by Monica L. Freeman, Woods & Aitken LLP

For many people weather is a conversation starter in the elevator. For contractors, however, inclement weather can lead to costly delays and lost profits. Thus, it is essential for contractors to understand how to allocate and manage the risk of weather-related delay. Read More

Corporate Credit Cards — Are They Right for Your Business?
by Jan Sheridan, Vice President Treasury Management Services

If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably received numerous offers and applications for a corporate credit card. But should you consider getting one? How might a corporate credit card benefit your business? Read More

The Research and Development Tax Credit -- How It Applies to the Construction Industry
by Daniel Shepherd, CPA and Deyna Rouse, CPA; LUTZ

Businesses are continually seeking ways to improve their profits by providing new and improved products to compete in the economy, and this applied to the construction industry as much as any other. The Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit was created to encourage U.S. companies to conduct domestic research and development. Read More

How To Maximize Surety Capacity In An Uncontrollable Construction Economy
by Jake Buss, Gene Lilly Surety Bonds

There are many facets of the current construction climate that are out of the control of today’s contractors. In times like this it is even more critical to set yourself up for success in the areas that you can control. This discussion will highlight some of the aspects of a construction company that can control and some of the things contractors can do to take ownership of their surety program so they can support the work they need. Read More


Being Proactive Can Help Eliminate Overcharges on Your Premium Audits
by Clyde Wilberger, CLCS, Vice President, The Harry A Koch Co.

Many insured wait in fear to hear how much additional premium they owe once the auditor leaves their office. While carriers strive to be as accurate as possible, they don’t have the time or resources to investigate and resolve every possible error or ambiguity that presents itself. As a result, you may experience multiple, unintentional overcharges by the auditor such as placing employees in the incorrect class code, not calculating overtime correctly or not using the correct payroll figures. Read More

What to Do With a Financial Windfall
by Justin Vossen, Partner, Lutz Financial

A financial windfall can come at different times from different places. Some are emotional and unexpected like the death of a loved one and others may be planned like the sale of a business. Whatever the case, it may bring about a certain level of excitement and also a certain level of anxiety. Read More

Managing Growth With a Scalable Payment Platform
by Matt Scroggins, Textura Corporation

As the U.S. economy continues to recover from the 2008 financial panic and ensuing recession, nearly all U.S. businesses still face uncertainty over their future.

While downsizing is largely a thing of the past and optimism is rising, there is little incentive to invest in new hiring even when backlogs and new business pipelines start to improve. Read More


Financial Planning: Helping You See The Big Picture
by: Stacy Gutschenritter, Education Manager & Trust Officer, Retirement Plan Services, Union Bank & Trust Company

Whether you are just starting your career or 20 years into it, we all have one common goal: we hope to retire someday. When that “someday” happens is up to you. With so many financial obligations in our lives, many people delay saving for retirement until it’s too late to make up for lost time. Read More

Dispute Resolution Options
by Monica L. Freeman, Woods & Aitken LLP

It is important when drafting or negotiating any contract to give consideration to the dispute resolution options that will be available or required and to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each should a dispute arise on a project. This article will touch on some of the dispute resolution options that are available, particularly in the construction industry. Read More


Start the Year with a Plan
by Josh Weiss, Lutz & Co.

Most companies go into a year filled with optimism and are eager to achieve their goals. Often times, those goals are loosely defined and while they give general direction to the company, they are hard to measure if they are not specific. This is also frequently the case with the budget for the year. Read More

You Don't Have to be a Rockefeller to Need a Trust
by Doug Koening and Leslie Gibbens, Personal Trust Department at Union Bank & Trust Company

Marcie called the other day and said her friends think she needs a trust. Marcie said, “I’m not a Rockefeller, why do I need a trust?” Marcie explained that she is widowed and has three grown children and five grandchildren. Read More

Property and Equipment Changes Loom in the New Year
by Josh Weiss, CPA/ABV Shareholder, LUTZ

Capitalization Requirements
Recently, the IRS issued long-awaited guidance that was intended to clarify the appropriate tax treatment for items surrounding capitalization of fixed assets. In many instances, prior guidance was unclear with regard to when certain expenditures were required to be capitalized versus expensed (perhaps as repairs and maintenance). Read More

The Current State of Forum Selection Clauses and Possible Changes on the Horizon
by Monica L. Freeman, Woods & Aitken LLP

Most proprietary construction contracts, subcontracts and purchase orders contain forum selection clauses in which the parties agree that if a dispute arises on the project, litigation or arbitration will occur in a specified location. Read More

Tax Increment Financing 101
by Derek C. Zimmerman, Baylor, Evnen, Curtiss, Grimit & Witt, LLP and Bryan Shank, Union Bank & Trust Company

Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is a tool cities or municipalities use to incentivize redevelopment. If eligible, the private developer may use TIF funds for the public benefits of the private redevelopment project based on the estimated increase in property tax valuation of the property resulting from the project. The funds are made available through a bond, and are generally funded over 15 years. Read More


Climbing the Ladder to Financial Freedom
by Stacy Gutschenritter, Union Bank & Trust

In one’s “early years,” 20s-30s, you are at the start of your working career and have a list full of firsts. This may be your first real job, your first apartment, and your first steps toward financial freedom. You are finally in the workforce and earning more money than ever before! The flip side—you may also have more expenses than you’ve ever had. Juggling student loans, car payments, credit card bills and living expenses can be a real challenge. By learning how to manage your money early in your career, you can develop skills that will pay off for the rest of your life. Read More

The Impact of Late Claim Reporting
by John Conway, President, Midwest Builders' Casualty

The late reporting of a work-related accident negatively impacts everyone involved – the employee, the employer, and the insurance carrier. The damages can be financial, physical and emotional. Avoiding or postponing the notification of a work-related accident can cause delays in accident investigation, proper medical attention and payment of benefits. The consequences of such delays may lead to potential litigation, state fines, and significant increases in the ultimate cost of the claim. Read More

Doing More With Less
by Josh Weiss, Partner, Lutz & Co

The past several years have been called “the Great Recession.” The economy has been on an extended downturn and very few businesses have been immune to the effects of the slowdown. It is possible that no industry experienced a more difficult period than the construction industry. From coast to coast, firms were struggling, going out of business or fighting for what little work there was available. The stimulus packages came and went, but unemployment in the industry remained high as the work did not return as fast as some had hoped. Read More

Unintended Consequences:
What does your Buy-Sell Agreement say and What does that do to your Surety Support??
– Gene Lilly Surety Bonds, Inc. and the Ash Johnson Company
In our introductory article in February, we discussed some of the most common mistakes that are made in the business succession planning arena. Lack of collaboration/communication among your advisory team can be detrimental on many fronts. (Hint: Every advisory team needs a QB) The following is a “real-life” example of what can happen when the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Read More

IRS Employment Exam--Will Your Construction Compnay Pass the Test?? – Lutz & Company CPA
The IRS continues to utilize an audit program that focuses on employment tax issues. As part of a National Research Project (NRP), the IRS will randomly select approximately 6,000 employers over the next three years for detailed employment tax examinations. Read More

Building a Church Means Building a Team – Union Bank and Trust Company
Financing church construction can be a source of frustration and anxiety for the church and for you as the builder. Each and every construction project is unique in its own regard. Church constructions can be especially unique for many reasons. Often the building project is the one and only project this type of client has ever done. Read More

Introduction to succession Planning for Contractors – Gene Lilly Surety Bonds, Inc. and the Ash Johnson Company
Continuity and Succession Planning is an important part of any business. It is especially important in the context of the closely held, family-run construction company. This article will serve as an introductory look at this topic and will be followed up by three in depth looks at different case studies on the matter. The next articles will deal with specific situations that shall serve as examples of how contractors have transferred ownership of the firm. They will address specific hurdles in the process and possible solutions to overcome those hurdles. Read More

Planning for a Disaster – The Harry A. Koch Co.
According to the Institute for Businesses and Home Safety, one in four businesses does not reopen after a major disaster. An essential part of your overall workplace emergency plan is a business continuity plan to identify your response and recovery to impacts on your business from potential internal and external threats. Read More

How Did Your Year Stack Up? – Lutz & Company PC
The end of one year and the beginning of the next is a good time to check on the financial health of your company. It gives the company a break for the busier months, but also is time when banks or bonding companies look for the annual financial statements to help assess the ability of the company to perform in the coming year. Owners and managers can use the financial statements and related information to gain a better understanding what went well, what did not, and how to improve going forward. Read More

Control Overhead Through Risk Management – Midwest Builders' Casualty
Commercial contractors understand the need to control overhead expenses to maintain a competitive advantage over the competition. Unfortunately, the lack of attention to risk management and safety can cause a company's workers compensation insurance expense to increase dramatically and can make finding coverage difficult. As losses increase, the Experience Modification Rating (EMR) factor can go above a 1.00, which may prevent them from getting work. Contractors with an EMR above a 1.00 are often prohibited to bid on projects by certain owners due to concerns over risk management and safety. Read More

The Impact of Indecision--Possible Tax Planning Ideas in the Face of Uncertainty – Lutz & Company PC
On one side of the “Fiscal Cliff”, that is dominating the news and our governmental stagnation is the revenue side of the equation. The revenue is generated by income taxes and for as long as most can remember, there have been polarizing views on what to do with rates at which both corporations and individuals are taxed. For business owners, when the indecision and lack of compromise within Congress as well as between Congress and the President persists into late December, it is very difficult to plan for year-end and for the coming year. There are a few strategies business owners and individuals can employ at the end of 2012 to hedge against some of the uncertainty. Read More

Corporate Account Takeovers
Criminals are set to Invade your Company’s Computer Network
– Union Bank
Criminals around the world are targeting U.S. businesses to steal online banking credentials and confidential information. These criminals target businesses of all sizes…no matter how large, small or where they are located. Read More

Use Year End to check the Financial Pulse of Your Company – Lutz & Company
Many contractors know exactly where a job stands from the bid to the final punch list. However, several may not understand or realize how that translates to the company’s overall financial condition. The end of the fiscal year provides a prime opportunity to step back and take a look at the financial health of the company and offers a time to reflect on the highs and lows of the year as well as provides an opportunity to see how the company measures up in the industry.Read More

Tax Changes are on the Horizon – Lutz & Company
A lot of speculation exists about the future of the country during an election year. The speculation is amplified thanks to the fact that the news and updates are accessible anywhere at any time via smartphones, over the internet or from 24-hour television news. While the issues seem to change daily, one overriding theme in any campaign or presidential election is taxes. What should be done with the current laws? Some say taxes are too high, others say tax more. It is a divisive argument and one that will likely dominate the campaigns, but actual change will likely not take place until the end of 2012 at the earliest. Read More

2012 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook