Survey says

Published October 15, 2006


Few words spoken about college money

Even as parents help their children prepare for college academically, many of them avoid in-depth discussion about college financing, says an online survey of 400 students and 400 parents by the First Marblehead Corp.

nWhile 79 percent of students and 85 percent of parents said they've talked about college financing as a family, these discussions don't last even 30 minutes, said three-fourths of students and 82 percent of parents.

nNearly half of each group said that these conversations occur in the car.

"Thoughtful and well-planned dialogue between parents and students is important to identifying the most appropriate financing options and limiting surprises," said Jack Kopnisky, First Marblehead's president and CEO.

Affluent children given strong values

To teach the value of money, affluent parents stress charity and hard work over material goods, says an American Express Co. survey of 1,170 parents with an average of two children and an average annual household income of $472,000:

- While just more than half of children receive a regular allowance - $7 for children ages 6 to 14 and $21 for ages 15 to 16 - 45 percent ages 15 to 17 have part-time jobs. More than two-thirds participate in charitable activities and 62 percent donate money to charity.

- However, affluent parents still spend more than the average on their children's clothes. For example, they shell out $42.50 for jeans, compared with the national average of $17.82.

- Affluent parents also spend big for special occasions. The average expenditure for holidays and birthdays was $738 for children 6 to 14 and $977 for children 15 to 17.

Insurance companies popular suit targets

Insurers are attracting the most litigation worldwide, fighting about 1,700 lawsuits each and spending $33-million a year on average defending themselves, says a international survey of 422 in-house legal teams by Houston law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP:

- Insurers, five times more likely to get sued than energy companies or retailers, top the list of targets in 2006 fending off everything from environmental lawsuits to director claims and coverage fights over hurricanes and terrorist attacks.

- Retailers and energy firms, next in line behind insurers, have average caseloads of more than 330 per company.

- Insurers again top the list for litigation spending. Of the average legal budget of $40.7-million, $33-million is spent on litigation - three times the survey average - and the larger the company, the bigger the litigation budget.

- The survey found that while there is a general perception that civil trials for companies are declining in favor of alternative dispute resolutions, the number of lawsuits is still rising.