Acordia name change shifts focus to insurance

Filed under: Banking & Finance |

Acordia Inc. is now Wells Fargo Insurance Services.

The fifth-largest insurance brokerage and largest bank-owned insurance brokerage in the United States acquired Acordia in May 2001, but this week announced the name change.

According to Dave Zuercher, Wells Fargo Insurance Services’ chairman, president and CEO, the name was changed to ensure current and potential customers that insurance is the business and to make known the company’s affiliation with Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo Insurance Services has more than 150 offices in 38 states.

Free tax help available for elderly, military

Free tax help is available for taxpayers 60 and older through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program.

As part of TCE, AARP will offer counseling to low- and middle-income seniors at nearly 8,000 sites nationwide. To locate the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call (888) 227-7669 or visit www.aarp.org.

Free filing assistance for military personnel and their families also is available. Supported by the IRS, Armed Forces Tax Council volunteers are trained and equipped to address military-specific tax issues.

Soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, guardsmen and their families are eligible for assistance. Free tax preparation will be available at military installations.

Congresswoman proposes 401Kids savings accounts

Rep. Judy Biggert, an Illinois Republican, has introduced a bill that would create savings accounts for children, allowing a $2,000 after-tax contribution to accounts that could help finance a college education, a house or retirement.

HR 87, called the 401Kids Family Savings Account of 2007, would allow interest to accumulate tax free. Qualified withdrawals also would be tax free.

Shred those identity-theft worries away

Customers at New Frontier Bank can eliminate some of the worries about identity theft by using the Self-Service Shredder.

The self-serve shredding kiosks, which were developed by RealTime Shredding Inc. of Colorado Springs, will be available in the banks’ Greeley, Longmont and Windsor locations.

There is no charge for the service.

IRS selects chief whistleblower

The Internal Revenue Service has hired a new director for its Whistleblower Office.

Stephen A. Whitlock has worked for the federal government for 27 years, including helping run anti-fraud and abuse programs for the Defense Department and leading the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.

The Whistleblower Office, which was established in 2006, processes tips about tax problems in the workplace.

BofA offers reimbursement for hybrid vehicles

Bank of America announced that it will reimburse its associates up to $3,000 for the purchase of a hybrid vehicle.

This program will affect 185,000 workers.

Last June, only employees near the company’s three pilot cities — Boston, Los Angeles and Charlotte — could participate in the program.

Since the program was initiated, sales of hybrid vehicles among Bank of America employees have quadrupled.

This program is one of several environment-friendly programs that Bank of America has created.

Concerns about ‘negative’ savings rate

Concerns have been expressed about the negative savings rate in the United States, which hasn’t been in the red since the Great Depression.

The rate was negative 0.1 percent in 2006 and negative 0.4 percent in 2005. However, many argue that the numbers don’t necessarily mean there is a negative balance in Americans’ accounts. It could mean Americans are just spending more than they’re making during a certain period of time.

There are also arguments about the “outdated” way the rate is calculated. Economists criticize the fact that stocks and bonds and capital gains, realized or unrealized, are not added into the equation.

With a negative current savings rate, the United States joins Finland, Denmark and Australia, which all have experienced negative rates.

BofA launches program for franchise owners

Bank of America has launched Franchise Banking, a program that will help franchise owners with total revenue of less than $20 million by providing them access to specialized loan products, deposit, cash management, merchant card processing and employee banking services.

Because of an established relationship with large-scale franchise operators, Bank of America Franchise Banking executive Doug Woodruff said that he believes the focus will help his bank win market share, drive additional revenue and help position it as a business bank.

Bank of America also has aligned its Eagle Franchise Funding team, which provides financing to more than 500 McDonald’s franchise owners and operators, with Franchise Banking.

Lorna Gutierrez covers banking and finance for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.