Chase Inks Deal with C2B as Preferred Provider: JPMorgan Chase has signed an agreement to become the preferred provider of small business banking services through the American Institute of CPAs’ Business Solutions program, CPA2Biz Inc., the institute’s Internet portal.

Chase will be the preferred provider of banking services in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Texas — the four states where it has its branch distribution network, CPA2Biz said.

Chase’s CPA Advantage program includes a package of financial solutions for CPAs and for CPA-referred clients. Clients will have access to program benefits such as preferred deposit and credit product offerings, and special pricing on merchant card services. CPAs will also receive a small business relationship manager for dedicated service and support and expedited client credit decisions, as well as a direct CPA Hotline for assistance, and — with client authorization — access to client statements, checks and deposits.

CPA2Biz said that it plans to form relationships with additional U.S. banking providers over the coming months. For information, CPAs can e-mail bankingprogram@cpa2biz.com or visit www.cpa2biz.com/businesssolutions .

Affluent Investors Likely to Turn to Advisors Over the Next Year: Most affluent investors said that they are likely to work with a professional financial advisor during the next year, according to a survey by Chase.

Nearly half (49 percent) of affluent investors surveyed said that they are extremely or very likely to work with an advisor over the next 12 months, and another 18 percent are somewhat likely to do so, according to a poll of more than 450 investors by Chase Personal Financial Services. Participants had household income of $100,000 or more, a brokerage account, and from $250,000 to $10 million in liquid assets.

About half (49 percent) of those surveyed describe themselves as optimistic or confident (10 percent) about the current run-up in equity markets, while 13 percent are hesitant and 5 percent are pessimistic. Investors who are optimistic or confident about the market are more likely (56 percent) than hesitant or pessimistic investors (43 percent) to say that they’ll work with an advisor, Chase reported.

Of those surveyed, 52 percent currently have an advisor. Investors with more than $1 million in assets are more likely to have an advisor (59 percent) than those with under $500,000 (45 percent). Seventeen percent don’t have an advisor today, but have used one in the past. Of these, 47 percent decided that they could make better decisions on their own, and 42 percent said that the services provided weren’t worth the fees.

In response to the rocky investment climate, affluent investors have taken a more moderate investment approach. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) characterize their approach as moderate, while 14 percent are aggressive and 24 percent are conservative. Three years ago, 48 percent of investors characterized themselves as aggressive, while 44 percent were moderate and 9 percent were conservative, according to Chase’s report.

Poll says Shareholders See Gap Between Expectations and Board Performance: According to a survey by Lieberman Research Worldwide, a majority of respondents say that board functions should include improving product and service quality (59 percent say “very important”), ensuring the company’s competitiveness (71 percent), and critically assessing management performance (84 percent), according to the phone survey of 150 institutional investors and 150 individual investors.

Company boards will find themselves subject to intense scrutiny from shareholders in the Sarbanes-Oxley era, according to the poll, “American Corporate Governance: Restoring Investor Confidence.” Direct, relevant experience will be critical for board members, either as senior executives from other companies (cited by 73 percent as an essential criterion for board membership), or as “major shareholders who are officers of the company” (cited by 71 percent).

Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents say that boards should devote more time and effort to company operations. Eighty-one percent of those surveyed say that operational knowledge is important, while 36 percent say that it is “very important.” Only a third of investors (36 percent) feel that outside directors are well informed.

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