Financial news and advice — January/February 2015

Argentinian authorities are now using drones to pinpoint tax evaders. Plus, a new study shows that more than two-thirds of entrepreneurs are financially illiterate.


New technology drones in on tax cheats

Argentina is taking the war on tax evasion to the next level, using military- style unmanned aircraft to pinpoint luxury homes that have not been declared to the tax authorities. This past fall, the tax agency in Buenos Aires reported it had used drones in a tony area south of the city to find and photograph 200 mansions and 100 swimming pools located on lots that their wealthy owners had registered as vacant. The total tax evasion is estimated at US$2 million, and the owners face significant fines.


Entrepreneurs admit they’re no money mavens


You need only watch an episode of Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank to know that financial skills aren’t necessarily a given among those looking to launch a business. Indeed, more than 40% of small-business owners consider themselves to be financially illiterate, according to a US survey by software maker Intuit. Two-thirds (66%) of those polled wish they knew more about their finances, 39% do not follow financial news and 28% say their businesses are in debt. Nevertheless, 81% of the entrepreneurs surveyed handle the finances for their business themselves.


Raises on the way

Average starting salaries for accounting and finance professionals in Canada are forecast to rise 3.4% this year, according to the Robert Half 2015 Salary Guides. Staff accountants, senior financial analysts and business systems analysts are in strong demand, and can expect to see higher than average increases. Furthermore, the regulatory environment is driving hiring for risk, compliance and internal audit professionals.


How much rainy-day savings is enough?

The average Canadian thinks it would take $45,609 in savings to sustain them through the year if they were diagnosed with a critical illness and could not work, according to a poll on behalf of TD Insurance. Those with children say they’d need more ($53,438) on average than those without kids ($41,624). There were also regional differences: Albertans feel they would need nearly twice the national average ($82,437), while Atlantic Canadians say they could make do with far less ($26,179).


Cash transfers by Twitter

One of the largest banks in France, Groupe BPCE, has partnered with Twitter to allow payments to be made via tweets, the social network’s 140-character public text messages. Twitter users in France can send money transfers regardless of their financial institution and without having to enter the recipient’s account details. An authentication code is required before the money is sent and a confirmation tweet is posted.