marcfrey150According to Michael Porter (a Harvard business professor, capitalist and registered republican) it’s time to ditch the GDP per capita as the sole measure of well being for a country and pay more attention to the Social Progress Index that measures the livability of all its citizen and is a more comprehensive indicator of well being than the average income per person.

Before analyzing our disappointing ranking of 16th among 132 countries that were included in the study I want to point out why social progress is important: “Social well-being is the foundation of a peaceful, democratic, capitalist society. It is the philosophical foundation on which our nation was built: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all not a few.”

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moneyreport“Smart beta” has become A hot topic in the financial world. It has certainly captured the interest of investors, underwriters and brokers.

According to Morningstar, a quarter of all exchange-traded fund investments in the first 11 months of 2013, over $41 billion, went into funds using smart beta strategies.

So what exactly is “smart beta?” It’s a concept used rather broadly to describe alternate investment strategies, which, proponents claim, address the shortcomings of both traditional managed mutual funds, and unmanaged index fund investments. Not all smart beta strategies are alike, so here’s a brief overview.

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lori-musicMove over Eric Clapton. With my guitar, I just may hop on the next midnight train out of town. Forget mortgage payments, phone bills and job responsibilities — I’ve got places to go and blues to sing.

Just two problems. Problem 1: I’ve never seen a train on Hilton Head.

Problem 2: I have absolutely no idea of how to play this thing. For some people, music comes naturally. I’m not one of those people. In fact, one could argue I don’t have a musical bone in my body.

I took voice lessons when I was in grade school. My sister Debi could sing so I figured I should be able to sing as well. After my very first recital, my parents decided to replace the voice lessons with art lessons.

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marcfrey150Since I’m in a forecasting mood, I took a look at what the future may hold for our own region. It’s not just one thing that will cause the continuous expansion of our region but a number of things that will work in synchronicity.

1. Peace of mind

As the world around us seems to get more turbulent, there is something very reassuring about living in Bluffton, Hilton Head or anywhere in between Beaufort and Savannah. Our world in the Lowcountry seems pretty darn normal, and for once, that is a really good thing.

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lori-blog-apr14April is such a magical month in the Lowcountry. For me, it means I can plant my herb garden, take my beach chairs out of storage and get my deck ready for entertaining. Most of all, it means Heritage!

As always, Monthly celebrates Hilton Head Island’s biggest event with a special issue dedicated to all facets of this amazing local event.

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marcfrey150Can a company, which was started in 2009, has 55 employees and no revenues be worth $19 billion dollars? The answer is YES, and NO depending on how you look at it.

For traditional thinking investors, this valuation defies everything we thought we knew about how to value a company. As a comparison, companies with similar market valuation include: HJ Heinz, CBS, Yahoo!, PG&E, Charles Schwab, Marathon Oil, Allstate, Kellogg, T. Rowe Price, Sun Trust to name a few. Mostly companies with strong brands that have been around for a long time and have a proven track record.

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moneyreportAfter a gut wrenching recession, and the collapse of a property bubble that had concentrat ed the small county’s wealth into a highly leveraged real estate sector, Ireland, theCeltic Tiger, was forced to ask for a bailout in 2012, as well as to adopt a painful EU mandat ed austerity budget.

However, there are signs of a turnaround; in 2013 the Irish stock market gained 35.2%, making it the fifth best performing market in the world (the U.S. was ninth.) While it’s still early days, there may be worthwhile opportunity for investors to consider as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this month.

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lori-blog-mar14Each morning on my way to work I pass the life-size, bronze statue at Compass Rose Park called, “Walking the Alligator.” As many locals know, the statue is a reproduction of a 1962 photo of Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser that was published in the Saturday Evening Post.

The statue speaks to Fraser’s vision — how careful planning and strict covenants can create a livable community that time does not change. We live in a community where bike paths, homes, landscaping, development and landscaping all work in harmony to preserve natural beauty.

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marcfrey150As of January 2014, 20 million more people were on food stamps compared to 2007. The total number of recipients is now around 47 million, more than 15 percent of the population. The SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) is just one of many federal and state supported programs. I merely chose this one to drive home my point.

Granted, we lived through the second worst depression in modern U.S. economic history, but since then the economy has been making progress and unemployment figues have come down. Unfortunately, the amount of money spent on social welfare keeps climbing. The cost of the SNAP program is now 2 1/2 times higher ($74 billion) compared to 2007 ($30 billion). How can this be fied?

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moneyreportIt’s important to check out the background of your broker or financial advisor, just like you would any profes sional. Unfortunately, there are a number of different regulatory agencies that oversee brokers, advisors and insurance agents, and it’s not always easy to be sure you’re going to the right place, or getting the relevant information. Here’s a short primer.

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lori-blog-feb14Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and the surrounding Lowcountry are known for many things. The beauty, the beach, the weather, the golf, the culture, the food, the lifestyle … the list goes on and on.

We also happen to be a world-class wedding destination. Each year, couples from all over come to the island and mainland to exchange their vows and begin the rest of their lives together. The beauty of the Lowcountry makes the perfect backdrop for a fairy tale wedding.

Monthly has always recognized the impact the local wedding industry has on our economy.

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marcfrey150If your life is perfect, skip this column. Send me an e-mail sharing your secrets to a fulfilled life. If by chance you are one of the 100 million Americans that makes a New Year’s resolution or helps to fuel the 2.5 billion self-help industry, read on.

First know that according to surveys, a very high percentage of resolutions remain unfulfilled. If you are a cynic you might rightfully conclude that given the odds, it makes no sense to bother making one in the first place … unless you read this column, which is aimed at improving your chances of resolution success.

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lori-blog-jan14Here at Monthly, we have our “Intriguing People of the Lowcountry” each January.

It’s not a list of the most successful, though one could argue all of the people on this year’s list are.

It’s not a collection of the richest people, though all of them happen to be — rich with talent, rich with experience or rich with life.

It’s not the most beautiful, though this is an attractive bunch.

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marcfrey150The news that Amazon, the largest Internet retailer, and the U.S. post office are collaborating to make Sunday delivery of packages a reality in an attempt to forever paint every Friday black (order on Friday, deliver on Sunday) might in itself seem trivial. Just another spoke in the wheel to make it possible to always shop, always consume, always be inundated with marketing plots, in a never-ending quest to squeeze out the last ounce of profit and the titanic fight for market share taking shamelessly advantage of our conveniencedriven habits.

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