Win-Win Solution Blog


A Call for Action Against Greedy Banks

Patience. Communication. Compassion. Efficiency. All virtues we hope to carry into our business practices and personal endeavors. But what happens when the standards we hold in our own business practices are not reciprocated from others?

Ashley Smith founded Parachute, a tech services company, on the basis of Win-Win Solutions but has been struggling to reach one in her personal life. She has been working since March 2009 to refinance a property she no longer lives in. To her frustration, the banks have been unresponsive in her attempts to refinance, even though it’s in their best interest as well. Each correspondence resulted in a 4-6 week lag before Ashley received a brush-off response.

How do we maintain the patience in the search for Win-Win Solutions in our own lives when we work helping others into creative solutions of their own?

Talk. It’s about getting people to share their frustrations and hopefully their solutions. The country will be able to start to dig itself out of its current economic slump on a person-by-person basis. Although the government may have the power to bail out banks, it’s up to us on an individual level to maintain strong channels of communication. By airing our concerns and creative solutions, the easier it will be to reach optimum solutions through networking.

Ashley found it shocking that more people aren’t talking about situations like hers. She feels it is greedy and a sad sign of capitalism that there aren’t more government regulations to protect consumers like herself, from getting the run-around when institutions are unwilling to search for a solution.

Ashley founded Parachute IT four years ago, a company dedicated to improving the effectiveness of technology systems in medium-sized businesses. She saves businesses anywhere from $100-$5,000 a month in technology costs. You can understand why someone who built a business around customer service is stumped when she’s not receiving any response in her search for a solution. If Ashley can’t refinance she will likely go through a Short Sale and is concerned the effects the process will have on her credit.

It’s up to our community to share solutions and network to help others when the large companies are unable to. I invite you to use our blog as a space to comment or write in to share your problems as well as your solutions to create a network to support each other during the frustrating moments of our search for a Win-Win Solution.

When the IRS Knocks

The current recession is certain to define this decade in American history. It will be read about in books and reflected upon during future times of economic struggle to serve as a learning example. But what defines an American during this decade? Elizabeth Shwiff, a CPA with Shwiff, Levy & Polo, LLP, specializing in international issues, discovered an American is not defined by their country of origin.

In 2008, UBS AG, a financial services company, was hit with a multi-million dollar tax evasion case that affected 20,000 US citizens with money in UBS banks. The IRS was after Americans that purposefully went offshore to hide funds. Elizabeth’s client was a French immigrant and green card holder who received a large investment payout in the 80s, which he deposited to UBS when he was living in Switzerland at the time.

Shwiff’s client was in a panic, not having ever known he was required to fill out an FBAR form to disclose his international bank or brokerage accounts. Watching the news, he didn’t know what to expect–to be taken away in handcuffs or put into jail–and he sought Elizabeth’s assistance for peace of mind.

Although Elizabeth and her client voluntarily disclosed his international account in the timeframe provided by the IRS, the client, now considered an American, was set to suffer a 20% penalty on the highest amount held in the account since it was opened.

Shwiff, a Jewish Russian immigrant herself, feels a deep responsibility and joy in helping other immigrants after witnessing the network of help her own family received in America. She listened to her client’s story for hours, a frugal retired professor who worked his entire life, and was able to put a creative spin on the issue. She stated her client’s initial deposit was never subject to US tax law because the investment payoff was accumulated during a period of time when the client was in Switzerland.

By serving as a hardcore advocate with a creative mind, she was able to create a Win-Win Solution and save her client $50,000. “Always give back. It’s our obligation to give back,” says Shwiff. If we all lived by that motto, it’s hard to not imagine an America with fewer issues–financial or otherwise.

Moral Dilemma: 401(k)s for all or just me?

One of the moral questions we face during a recession is: when is it okay to look out for ourselves instead of the needs of others? Do we still give to charities despite a pay cut or a layoff? How do we adapt to changes in business and personal relationships while maintaining the same level of care? In a time of self-help books topping the bestseller lists and self-improvement on our to-do list, it can be a struggle to keep costs low and still look out for those around us.

During a recent cold call, Suzanne Taylor, vice president of sales for California Investment Trust, made contact with the business owner of a company who struggled with this issue. He was very happy with his own 401(k) plan but recently hired a workforce and his current provider did not offer any additional investment options for employees. He struggled to find a balance between maintaining his own financial interests with those of his employees.

He then hired Suzanne, whose firm offers retirement plan services, including 401(k)s. She contacted California Plan Services, an affiliate of California Investment Trust and a third party administrator that would be able to hold the business owner’s company and add mutual funds from California Investment Trust. Together, the business owner formed a committee with three additional employees to hand select mutual funds from Suzanne’s company and five from other fund families.

The committee met regularly with the third party administrator and Suzanne until they found the perfect equation of mutual funds was met. The business owner was able to maintain a plan he was happy with while extending similar options to his valued employees to build their retirement. Suzanne and her company were able to add their mutual funds to this company’s plan and their affiliate who served as a third party administrator is now one of their clients, resulting in a clear Win-Win Solution.

Sometimes, it takes a committee or outside consultant to provide the necessary guidance for a Win-Win Solution, like Suzanne’s firm did, that suits both our own interests and that of our neighbors/co-workers/community. If not only to save money, but to at least take care of the people around us so we sleep at night.

Moving on After a Partnership Breakup

At first, it’s always difficult to see the good that can come out of a breakup of any kind, and then slowly, as time goes on, it becomes clear that what happened was necessary to move forward. In the following Win-Win Solution, my client faced the deterioration of a business partnership—another sour effect of a recession—and was able to stop foreclosure through a Short Sale transaction.

My client received a surprising phone call from her lender alerting that her income property faced foreclosure. She was shocked to learn that her trusted business partner had stopped making mortgage payments and revealed himself as a con man and a fraud. This left her in overwhelming debt to the bank that she was unable to carry on her on. She was devastated, having to pick up the pieces of her business and her once-perfect credit.

Her first thought was to refinance, but her mortgage broker informed her that was impossible since there was no equity left in the property. Her mortgage broker then referred her to me. I thoroughly assessed her situation and advised her that her best solution was a Short Sale. I like to bring a sense of calm into any transaction so I can clearly  identify the situation’s optimal outcome in the face of my client’s panic.

Through creative Short Sale negotiations, I was able to maneuver the complicated paper work and make sure the lender and my client reached an amicable solution. This allowed her to re-build her credit, protect her financial future and hold on to her personal home that she loved. She also gained financial freedom from her business partner and re-organized her finances.

My client was eventually able to retire in Sonoma and recently purchased property in Panama. The lender received all of their money since foreclosure was avoided and I developed a great relationship with my client and am welcome as a guest at both of her homes. Certainly, a win for all!  This was just one example from my own personal set of business transactions where I was able to show one of my clients that when you think you have no remaining options, there can still be hope for a happy future!

Welcome to your one-stop source for Win-Win Solutions!

The secret is out. San Francisco’s leading industry experts have spilled their Win-Win Solutions only here, in our tell-all blog! We give you an exclusive invitation to hear first-hand accounts of recession-related struggles—from real estate to personal health—and the creative ways these experts turned a difficult scenario into a positive outcome for all parties involved!

Many people in the Bay Area and across the country are still feeling the effects of the economic recession and are looking for refuge from lay-offs, foreclosure, divorce and a myriad of other common troubles. Our Win-Win Solutions blog is here to offer a positive spin and serve as a resource of inspiration for people in all industries, in all aspects of life, to read and share their own personal experiences with Win-Win Solutions. In doing so, we would like to spread hope and develop a network of innovative ideas and methods to address situations that may, at first glance, appear to only have a singular, one-sided solution.

My name is Ildiko Pali, broker/owner of Princeton Real Estate and Bay Area Short Sale Services in San Francisco. I’ve been working in the real estate industry for over 37 years and have trained hundreds of agents in the Bay Area in the complex Short Sale process to offer solutions to homeowners. I’ve found that the best we can offer our clients and community, especially during times of struggle, is to help solve their problems creatively with the “Win-Win” mantra in mind.

I invite you to read, comment, network, and hopefully use the Win-Win Solutions blog as a source of inspiration to help you achieve Win-Win situations for every part of YOUR life.  If you have particular question or problem in search of a Win-Win Solution contact us for assistance! I truly believe that in all areas of our lives, no matter the problem, there is ALWAYS a solution that can benefit all parties involved!

Ildiko Pali