My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

Florida's Bottom Line: Booming BusinessAs Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, I am pleased to keep you informed on the pulse of Florida’s economy. This edition of Florida's Bottom Line highlights middle-market companies, a vital segment of Florida’s economy, and illustrates many of the factors that have contributed to their success. While they often fly under the radar, they are a driving force in our state, employing one-in-every-five Floridians and representing nearly a quarter of total business revenues in Florida last year.

Defined as businesses with annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion, middle market companies can be found in many industries. In our state, they represent over 7,000 businesses that generate annual revenues of $275 billion. Florida’s middle-market companies are frequently the subject of the business success stories seen in communities and neighborhoods across our state. They are familiar names like City Furniture of South Florida, AVT Simulation of Central Florida, and Withers Worldwide Transportation Systems of Miami. Middle market companies are large enough to make significant capital investments, yet small enough to remain innovative and flexible in an ever-changing marketplace. Florida’s middle market has carved a unique niche into our economic landscape.

Also in the spring edition are updates on Florida’s Accountability and Contract System (FACTS), an analysis of Florida’s economy and an introduction to a growing trend in technology known as the Internet of Things.

I invite you to learn more about middle-market companies to gain a better understanding about the positive impact they have on our state. Florida’s commitment to fostering a competitive business climate through curbing taxes and reducing regulations provides the opportunity for all businesses in our state to grow and expand, creating jobs and prosperity for families across the state. By giving the middle market a voice in Florida, I hope that these companies will continue to grow and thrive.

Sincerely,

Jeff
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida


News of Interest

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Free financial tips on state website

Tampa Bay Business Journal: Private equity deals poised for takeoff in Florida

National Law Review: Manufacturing on the Rise in Florida

Panama City News Herald: State economic leader praises Florida ports

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Home prices rise as inventory stays low

Tampa Bay Business Journal: Florida small businesses optimistic about the economy

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: How will you celebrate Florida's 'Tax Freedom Day'

Orlando Business Journal: Orlando among top Southern cities for job creation, hiring demand

CalculatorFinancial Tip of the Week

Keep track of what you spend. A budget is an outline of your future income and expenditures that you use as a spending and saving guideline.

Keeping an eye on your money is the best way to make sure you aren’t spending more than you earn, which will increase your personal debt. By keeping track of how much and where you spend, you will be able to determine needs versus wants and adjust your budget accordingly.

CFO Atwater Kicks Off Financial Literacy Month

April begins Financial Literacy Month, and in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of personal financial management skills, CFO Atwater highlighted a set of alarming statistics about the current lack of financial management knowledge across Florida and the nation.

"To be financially literate is to understand the fundamentals of money management, to understand the necessity of balancing a budget and the value of a dollar," said CFO Atwater. "Financial literacy is vital to everyone’s financial success, and regardless of Your Money Matterswhat life stage you’re in, there are always opportunities to grow and to expand your financial education."

Did you know that…

  • 51 percent of Floridians do not have 'rainy day' funds.
  • 60 percent of Floridians did not compare offers or collect information from more than one company when shopping for credit cards.
  • As a nation, we spend approximately $2 per person on financial education, but spend $54 per person on financial services marketing in a year.
  • 61 percent of U.S. adults do not have a budget or keep close track of their spending.
  • Even though most people don’t budget, 71 percent of Americans stated that they have financial worries, and 44 percent of them worried most about not having enough savings.
  • One-in-five U.S. students do not meet a basic level of financial literacy.
  • In one study, U.S. 15-year-olds ranked 9th out of 13 countries participating−statistically tied with Russia.

In an effort to turn the tide on these statistics, CFO Atwater will share tools and educational materials available to all Floridians through the Department of Financial Services throughout the month of April. Through financial education efforts, all Floridians can empower themselves to make better financial choices and begin a path toward long-term financial success.

To learn more about the Department of Financial Services, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com. To learn more about the Department’s financial literacy initiatives, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/YMM.

Insurance Agent Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Policies to Elderly Division of Insurance Fraud badgeMilitary Families

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater recently announced the arrest of Patrice Sands of Pompano Beach for selling fraudulent insurance policies to elderly military veterans and their families at Make-A-Wish Veterans, Inc., a Miami-based company that provides assistance to veterans. An agency investigation discovered that Sands collected premiums from her victims and deposited the funds into bank accounts tied to her business, Universal Research Group Insurance Agency, but failed to secure policies through a company licensed to transact insurance in the state of Florida.Agent & Agency Services Badge

"All incidents of insurance fraud are harmful because they result in higher premiums for policyholders, but I am particularly troubled when seniors who have served our country valiantly are sought out by fraudsters," said CFO Atwater. "Thousands of veterans have chosen to call Florida home, and it's important to bring this issue to light so veterans can protect themselves from those who wish to target them."

One 84-year-old victim realized the $100,000 policy she purchased might be a scam when her husband passed away and no benefits were received. The victim told investigators that Sands told her that the insurance company had "gone under." Sands also asked for the victims’ life insurance certificate back, which she destroyed. Sands wrote the victim a refund check for the premiums she had paid, but the check was returned for insufficient funds.

Floridians trust that they are conducting business with a qualified and ethical individual when purchasing an insurance product or service from a person licensed by the Department of Financial Services. When those individuals betray the public’s trust, the Divisions of Insurance Fraud and Agent & Agency Services take the appropriate criminal and administrative action.

Since July 2014, the Division of Insurance Fraud has made 59 arrests of individuals who were licensed by the Department or who were required to be licensed but were operating without one. These arrests represent $4.47 million in fraud and involved insurance agents, bail bond agents and public adjusters.

Sands faces up to 25 years in prison. The Division of Agent & Agency Services will seek to suspend her insurance agent license. Sands’ case will be prosecuted by the office of Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

Consumers are encouraged to 'verify before they buy' insurance products in the state of Florida. The Department’s Insurance Consumer Helpline assists consumers with all insurance-related matters and can be reached by calling 1-877-693-5236.

Florida Economic Briefs

U.S. unemployment rate unchanged at 5.5 percent in March
The U.S. unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in March, unchanged from February (5.5 percent) and down 1.1 percentage points from March 2014 (6.6 percent). Florida’s unemployment rate for March will be released April 17. In February, Florida’s unemployment rate was 5.6 percent.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Florida outpaces U.S. in income growth
Personal income in Florida rose an estimated 4.6 percent in 2014, which is a rate of growth 0.7 percentage point higher than the national average of 3.9 percent. Florida’s total personal income rose from $811 billion in 2013 to $848 billion in 2014.
Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis