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AT&T Reports $6.7 billion loss for Q4 2011

AT&T posted a disappointing $6.7 billion loss for last quarter, most of which was due to a large fee for the failed T-Mobile merger, which cost the company $4 billion. The major underlying concern, however, is the lower profit margin on smartphone sales, which exceeded 25 million units last year. While riding the wave of smartphone sales will be a profitable move in the long run, the AT&T needs to boost its margin on them to have any hope of capturing the number one wireless provider spot, currently held by Verizon Wireless.

As competition becomes fiercer and smaller carriers like Sprint redouble their efforts to take a piece of the smartphone pie, savvy financial advisors are critical to developing strong policies and goals to take AT&T to the lead. An online degree in finance can provide you with the skills and knowledge to advise small business and major companies alike.

AT&T really needs to look into providing value-added services to its members, above and beyond the status quo for wireless services. As it stands, there isn't a whole lot to distinguish the two major carriers from another, and a wise financial plan would include new innovations to bring in new customers who are looking for more from their wireless provider.

While capturing new subscribers comes at a high initial cost, AT&T needs to focus on winning over new smartphone customers to help attain that coveted number one position. At the same time, it needs to work on improving margins on smartphone sales to help with its goal of buying more wireless spectrum to provide greater access to data coverage.

AT&T is already doing well on obtaining new subscribers, adding 717,000 subscribers for the fourth quarter, a big improvement over the estimated 570,000 analysts predicted, but these subscribers appear to be doing little to boost profits for the company.

As a trained financial advisor with an online degree in finance, you could be poised to suggest breakthrough service offerings to help boost retailers' flagging profit margins. Smartphones are the future of wireless, so emphasizing services to boost sales of these devices can help improve AT&T's financial outlook far into the future, eventually boosting it to the top of American wireless sales.

Who's your wireless provider and why are you with them? What can they do to keep you as a happy customer?

It’s Time to Go Back to School

With job prospects looking bleaker for new college graduates, many are considering the wisdom of returning to school for a graduate degree instead of facing the daunting task of finding a career in their chosen field of study. In general, this makes excellent sense because those who start careers in a weak economy may face an uphill battle in terms of pay equality with peers who started in better times.

Typically, those with a graduate degree can expect to see a corresponding increase in wages to account for their additional expertise. Advanced education can only enhance your existing knowledge, and standard wisdom dictates that it can't hurt your finances, either.

With that being said, there are some degree programs that would be better left behind, such as meteorology, mass media, public relations, forestry and computer engineering. In each of these, Census data shows that the wage increase from a graduate degree is relatively small, leaving you with potentially high student loan bills without an accompanying increase in pay.

Pursuing higher education makes sense through an online college degree. Maybe in fields such as social sciences, public policy and physiology, all of which experience an impressive increase in wages over similar workers with a bachelor's degree.

While wage should certainly not be the only consideration in deciding whether or not to pursue a graduate degree, it can be a contributing factor in the decision. If your passion is meteorology, you may be better off weathering the economic storm and continuing to seek employment, but if you have a love for physiology, you could be leaving a staggering amount of money on the table by choosing not to pursue a graduate degree. What could be better than being able to pursue your passion and get a solid income at the same time?

No matter what your field of study or current student status is, an online college degree can help you achieve your goals and gain an edge in a competitive job environment where education is often what tips the scales in favor of a particular applicant.

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