During one of my free telephone seminars, a caller asked the smartest question: What is the next big thing we have to worry about?
When most people think about asset protection, if they think at all, they think about a risk from some nameless evil lurking just beyond their view. In fact most risks to your wealth come from much closer: family, friends, business partners, long-time associates, etc. Those are the guys who end up sticking the knife in your back. Those are the folks you have to protect yourself from. Sad but true.
However, I was asked the above question, and I must admit it stumped me a bit. I had to think a bit, and what I came up with was this:
Governmental Shakedowns in the form of enforcement actions.
With the Federal, State and Local governments all facing budget crises new forms of revenue are desperately being sought after. New taxes are political suicide, and possibly counter-productive. So the scuttle-butt that I have heard is that government agencies are looking to beef up enforcement of various little-known rules and regulations with the sole intention of obtaining increased revenue through fines.
There are so many regulations out there it is not funny. Most contain terms that allow for the government to charge punitive fines to non-compliant businesses. In the past the various agencies have decided against fines in favor of providing helpful information and warnings.
Not any more!
An example that I was told about involves the various consumer protection rules that have been instituted to protect the private financial data of consumers. The laws were aimed at banks, credit reporting agencies, loan companies, etc. However, the terms are much broader than that and include virtually all companies with employees, and thus employee data. The rules require each company to perform various evaluations, reporting, preparation, appointment of special employee contact officer, etc. Most businesses I have talked to do not even know about these rules let alone how to meet the requirements they impose upon them. Failure to comply can result in stiff fines.
So I guess the next big thing is the growing Leviathon of government. Unable to feed itself from taxes, it will start fining companies to cover budget holes. Beware.