Blog Entries in Practice management
When evaluating practice management areas, advisors tend to focus on each area as if it were a stand-alone component. Advisors also like to create their practice management list in order of importance or by the percentage of time they spend in each area...Read More »
Before embarking on a road trip, you need to know a few important facts – not only your point of origin and your desired destination but also a detailed map of the route you want to take. Your prospects go on a similar journey on their way to finding financial services. Their point of origin is the realization that they need sound financial advice from a professional. Their destination is opening an account at your office and transferring their assets to you...Read More »
The success of many of the top-earning financial advisors hinges on their ability to simply get more clients. Although exceptions to this rule exist, the advisors who outlast their peers and are nearing retirement with a big book of business are usually those who did more prospecting (and more effective prospecting) earlier in their career. They are also more likely to have maintained the practice even when other advisors stopped...Read More »
Demand for trust services is on the rise. One in two (57%) financial professionals recently polled in a Wealth Transfer, Estate Planning and Planned Giving Survey cited an increase in demand last year. And, 46% believe there will be a further increase of up to 20% this year...Read More »
We already established that there is life in a post-wirehouse world. Indeed, for most, the post-wirehouse world is the beginning of the better half of their careers. But what does that transition look like? What is involved? Most are unfamiliar with the transition process, so in this second chapter of the Primer for Breakaways, we are going to walk you through the transition process step-by-step. What you will learn is that the most difficult part of the process is overcoming your inhibitions. In a world full of outsourcing solutions, there are plenty of partners to facilitate a relatively straightforward process to establish your own independent RIA and begin the better half of your careers...Read More »
In case you missed the seismic shift in distribution (a.k.a. sales) that has occurred during the past decade let me repeat it -- power has shifted from sellers to buyers. As a consequence selling has become increasingly difficult...Read More »
As business people, we’ve had it drilled into us that we need to strive to be the best. Our firm must outshine all others. Even if we do the same things as other businesses in our space, we must differentiate ourselves by our sheer operational superiority...Read More »
Nary has a day gone by without an article about the burgeoning breakaway trend. And the data supports it whether you look at the shift in assets under management or the headcount of advisors themselves. With that said, I have personally been surprised by the number of wirehouse advisors that concede they know very little about the world of independence. In fact, a survey of breakaway brokers conducted by Fidelity last year concluded that the #1 obstacle to independence was a lack of understanding about how to do it...Read More »
Does this scenario sound familiar? There are particular asset classes you think could benefit your clients and firm—different types of alternative investments, for example—but the harsh reality is that you’re simply not prepared for the torrent of unstructured data that the custodians, asset managers or other keepers of the data for the funds in these categories are about to throw at you...Read More »
January is a great month to adapt your practice to meet the changing needs of today's investors and adjust your approach to a new era of deep client engagement. “What are you going to do differently to grow your business?” asks Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist in Montreal...Read More »
Financial advisors have travelled a long way from some of the very old marketing tools to the newest high-end techology-based tools. Today, your clients’ and prospects’ habits have evolved along with the marketing industry. They have access to millions of pages online and will not tolerate being treated as a number in your mailing list or continuing to be fed old snail-mail marketing pieces. They want to be recognized as individuals and be treated as such. Instead, they will look for the information online, whether it is on websites, blogs or social media sites. Your goal as a financial advisor is to get found on all these different platforms. This means having an updated website, creating value on your blog and engaging with your community on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn...Read More »
Advisors that view their back-office as an investment will structure the back-office to support their business plan. Advisors that view their back-office as a cost tend to invest in what they consider affordable – altering their business plan based on what the back-office can provide...Read More »
Year-end client reviews are around the corner, and so is your annual business review. As you evaluate your 2012 goals and objectives and start planning next year's, consider going back to basics: how do you position yourself to clients and prospective clients? “Verbalizing clearly who you are, what you do and who you do it for will paint a clear picture for your clients and lead to better qualifying prospective clients”, says Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist in Montreal...Read More »
Over the past few years, data aggregation solutions have become a key component of how RIA firms deliver better client service , provide holistic wealth management, and boost AUM and profits. But what’s been less well publicized—and what I’d like to talk about here—is how top custodians are now using aggregation services to deliver data to their RIA clients. In doing so, they’re providing their RIA clients with better service and turning the typical data delivery model on its head...Read More »
Mid-market asset managers drowning in compliance costs are reaching for better reconciliation systems in order to expand their AUM without collapsing their margins.
For many investment management firms, new channels of product distribution bring additional back-office operational burdens: new systems to learn, different ways to retrieve data and additional headaches...Read More »
Keeping wealthy families as multi-generational clients requires a window into the household’s financial arrangements as well as a human touch. The parents will appreciate your efforts and the kids will learn to rely on your expertise when Mom and Dad are gone.
Wealth managers work hard to protect their high-net-worth clients’ wealth for generations to come, but too many get a cold reward when the heirs take the fruits of their labor to competitors...Read More »
A prospect profile is the most important weapon you have when it comes to finding new assets. Use data mining techniques to map the DNA of your existing high-net-worth business first.
Generations of advisors have begged their clients to refer them to friends, family and professional colleagues, but that approach meant relying on the luck of the draw...Read More »
For the enterprising RIA firm that’s diversifying its asset management strategies—and is looking for outside expertise in its selected areas of specialization—it’s more essential than ever to choose the right asset management providers.
Sure, it’s a given that you want an asset manager who delivers superior historical performance, whether you’re relying on them for their expertise in fixed income, alternative investments, real estate, micro-caps, or any other of the innumerable investment options. But you also want to select a manager who offers something else—namely, operational advantages that not only enhance your client service, but boost your firm’s bottom line as well...Read More »
Stories form the basis of how we think, organize and remember information, so if you want others to remember you, the best strategy is to give them the information about yourself in the form of a story. Telling a story is a way to connect emotionally with prospects, especially when it contains moving content and it is told with feeling. Your prospect can then empathize or relate the story to an aspect of their lives.
Three tips for telling successful stories are:..Read More »
High-net-worth investors crave truly comprehensive wealth preservation advice. Wealth managers that can deliver on their 360-degree promises have the keys to become billion-dollar firms in the near future. Offer prospective clients the choice between an advisor who’s content to stick to the discretionary assets and a rival who offers input on every aspect of their finances, and the “holistic” advisor wins by an overwhelming margin...Read More »
Your goal as an advisor is to help your clients want to do what you want them to do, and for them to like doing it. The art of persuasion takes time and practice. It also means facing your fears and being willing to take full responsibility. Persuasion skills can be learned and mastered; they are about you and your talents and traits.
Five tips for mastering persuasion are:..Read More »
Acceleration! That’s the byword in today’s RIA marketplace, where the trend for large ‘consolidator’ firms to ‘roll up’ smaller RIA firms is rapidly picking up speed. That’s in contrast to a few years ago, when the financial downturn forced roll-up firms to slow down their activities and make fewer deals.
Why the change? First off, many RIA holding companies (rollups) are now flush with funds from large private equity firms, so the market is once again in acquisition mode. Secondly, with the rise of Gen X and Gen Y investors, who expect heightened levels of client service, many smaller RIA firms are seeking ways to upgrade their service offerings by rolling up into larger entities. And thirdly, regulatory changes such as Dodd-Frank are forcing these smaller RIA firms to reassess their abilities to meet compliance regulations on their own, and seek strategic partnerships or roll-up opportunities that mitigate the cost and risk...Read More »
Most financial advisors are already farming out non-core business functions to a third party. But how do you give up the reins if you’ve been doing it all yourself? Advisors who fought for their independence often start out with a do-it-yourself approach to every aspect of their business. That means running the client accounts from back to front, hiring and firing support staff, keeping the computers up and running — all in addition to the core task of keeping your clients happy and courting new ones...Read More »
There are times when people find out that you are an advisor and want a few hot tips, or feel the need to tell you how much they have lost in the market. Be sure to keep the conversation casual, and stay away from discussing historical rates of return or your market theories.
Five tips for talking business at social events are:..Read More »
In a perfect world, all investors would use the same process when they select financial advisors. The process would be based on complete objectivity so investors always selected the advisors with the best credentials, ethics, business practices, and services. But, that is not how the real world works. According to a survey conducted by Investor Watchdog (www.InvestorWatchdog.com), 74.2% of investors use subjective selection processes...Read More »
ByAllAccounts, Boston, Mass., published this finding in a national online survey of more than 390 financial advisors. The survey examines key traits and characteristics of successful advisors, including their views on defining success, personal strengths and values, top priorities, plus areas of focus and insights into how they spend their time.
The report reveals that 85% of advisors use investable assets to select prospective clients. Far fewer advisors base their selection according to the prospect’s life stage or geographic location (40%), occupation (20%) or age (18%)...Read More »
Being a good listener helps in establishing rapport. Focusing your attention on making your client feel important and understood requires you to talk less and listen more. Clients do not need information overload; they just want you to use your knowledge to solve their problem, or to tell them what they need to know.
Five ways to sharpen your listening skills are:..Read More »
What are the key traits of today’s successful financial advisors? What are their personal strengths? Top priorities? And what are a few of their personal preferences that round out the picture?
These are a few of the the questions ByAllAccounts asked when it recently took a national online survey of nearly 400 advisors. We looked at responses from firms with more than $100 million in AUM who have grown 16%+ during the past two years...Read More »
The middle class is toast. In the wake of the financial crisis, middle class families in the U.S. are burdened by too much debt, the rising cost of health care, fewer jobs and the ever-increasing price tag on retirement.
Financial advisors in the future who want to prosper need to hitch their star to high net worth clients, including , maybe even especially, those from outside the U.S. who are seeking a dynamic asset allocation approach designed to deal with rising global market and economic volatility...Read More »
Have you seen the statistics? A recent Advisor Brandscape report from Cogent Research states that 68% of advisors are using some sort of alternative investment product. Clearly, they’re finding that utilizing this asset class helps them provide better asset allocation for their clients. And yet the questions remain: Even with this adoption of alternative investments, are managers of large hedge funds and private equity firms doing all they can do to tap a growing RIA market? Or are they missing out on opportunities to expand into the retail advisor space by relying on inefficient, unsatisfactory modes of communication that stifle adoption and growth?..Read More »
The next time you’re in traffic, eyeing different makes and models of cars, you may also be getting a preview of the future of the wealth management industry. My meaning is this: I predict that over the next several years, the wealth management industry will radically transform itself so that two types of firms predominate—one type at the low end (“for the masses” if you will), and one at the high end. Or, to put it in the parlance of car-speak, one type that’s analogous to Toyota, and one type that’s a Lexus. And guess what—the types of firms in the middle, the ones that remain in the middle, I should say—will be crushed and disappear into oblivion...Read More »
Is it real? Yes. When will it happen? Could be months, maybe even years. But to survive, you’ve got to prepare. And the first step in preparation is to understand the virus that is the root of the apocalypse: internet technology...Read More »
The media calls them “alphabet soup”. These are the strings of letters that appear after some financial advisors’ names. I think my personal record is interviewing an advisor who had 32 letters after his name. The “soup” represents the certifications and designations that professionals have obtained to increase their knowledge and improve the quality of their advice and services.
It is unfortunate, but the letters themselves do not mean much to investors. They recognize CPA®, but have no idea what PFS (Personal Financial Specialist) stands for. That’s about it. Very few investors have any idea what CFP® stands for. Even fewer know the value or requirements of CFA® or CIMA® designations...Read More »
Another quarter in the books, here's a quick recap of some of our most popular educational content for financial advisors from the past three months in case you missed any. We hope you find them helpful, and look forward to seeing you in Q3!..Read More »
Many trust companies have more success marketing their services to the professionals who already have the ear of wealthy clients. Lawyers, investment advisors, accountants, even art appraisers are all worth adding to your network...Read More »
Everyone in the industry knows they need to bring in new assets and new accounts, but it takes more than bolted-on AUM to take a viable business to the next level. We asked thousands of financial advisors for the keys to success and you told us: efficiency is king.
According to ByAllAccounts data, firms of all sizes—whether they’re under $25 million in AUM or $1 billion or more—cite the need to grow AUM and strengthen client acquisition as their most important priorities.
No surprises there. But what’s striking is what’s cited next on the wish list: maximum operational efficiency and on the other side of the coin, an end to the headaches of manual data entry.
Our data tells us that on average, the bigger the firm, the greater the perceived need for operational efficiency...Read More »
Baby Boom clients still require active investment advice in the new retirement landscape. The challenges they face today still represent huge opportunities for advisors willing to work longer and harder.
Now that Baby Boomers are hitting retirement age at the rate of 10,000 people a day, the moment the industry pundits promised us a decade ago is here...Read More »
This article is the second installment of a two part series for financial advisors on building multi-generational relationships with clients. For steps 1-4, please click here to read Part I.
Step 5: Set your clients up with other like-minded clients.
If Client A has college-aged children and lives in Wealth-ville, set him and his wife up with Client B who has college-aged children and lives in Wealth-ville. They have lots in common and lots to discuss—and may even become friends. This is a great value-add that will enhance your status as a family advisor, and focus your clients on issues such as transferring wealth (and wealth management resources) to their offspring...Read More »
For me, it’s a given in life that nothing is more important than the happiness of my children. That’s the “big issue” that trumps all other concerns, including personal finances and wealth management. And yet…family and wealth are not mutually exclusive. The financial well-being of our loved ones is often an important component of their happiness and success—and we all strive to ensure that our children receive an inheritance that puts them in an advantageous position for the life challenges ahead.
But as wealth passes from one generation to the next, do today’s forward-thinking financial advisors recognize the opportunity that is at hand? And are they philosophically prepared to alter their business models to accommodate the needs of inter-generational wealth management?..Read More »
Studies have shown that successful people have high scores when tested for optimism and that it is their optimistic attitude that paves the way for their success. Optimists have resilience and do not let rejection alter their course. They believe that they have the skills necessary to be successful.
Five tips for gearing up for success are:..Read More »
Truly marquee-worthy clients like Lady Gaga add more than AUM. If you can figure out what makes them tick, the experts say you can parlay one household name into a high-powered referral machine.
It really boils down to the way fame works, the star trackers say...Read More »
How would you rate the effectiveness of the internal communications in your multi-family office or advisory firm? If you wouldn’t give it at least a “B” grade, it may be time to steer to a new course...Read More »
Ways to give back to community include volunteering, being on a board or supporting your local sports team. As advisors, it is common to be asked to be treasurer or on a finance committee, as your expertise lies with numbers. Community activities will benefit your business by developing solid, trusting relationships. Five tips on giving back to community and growing your business are:..Read More »
For financial advisors—as in most businesses—it’s easier to generate additional business with existing clients than to go out prospecting and cultivating new relationships. That holds true if your client is already satisfied with how you’re serving them and, as a result, agrees to entrust you with even more business. But the reverse also holds true: if your clients are not happy, you may lose them. This begs the question..Read More »
Although the beginning of a tough conversation can be stressful, it can also be the best opportunity for you to influence the direction of where it is going.
Conversations become interactive when you are listening, asking questions, sharing your view, solving problems and getting back on track when it goes a little haywire. Thinking like a mediator and describing the problem between the two of you in a way that works for both sides is something that takes practice.
The top ten checklist for tough conversations are:..Read More »
A burgeoning question these days seems to be surrounding gold and the worthiness a position the shiny metal would have in a balanced portfolio in today’s market. It seems like there are many opinions out there regarding this and I would offer one here that seems to be rarely brought up when the “experts” discuss this smoldering topic...Read More »
Last year was a watershed for the financial advisor community: it marked the year when philosophical prejudices about investment management acquiesced to the practical needs of advisors as small business owners. More plainly, after nearly twelve years of lackluster performance and a growing sensitivity among clients to downside risk after two market bubbles, it seems that many advisors are conceding the need for a more risk-managed investment solution to protect client assets, and, in so doing, protect their own businesses. We observe the following:..Read More »
The financial service industry is dominated by a sales culture that has flourished for more than 35 years. Wall Street companies protect this culture by spending more than $300 million per year on lobbyists who make sure industry regulations favor companies and not investors.
Two of the lobbyists’ biggest challenges are fighting fiduciary standards and mandatory disclosure requirements (transparency) for brokers. These activities are intertwined because fiduciaries are required to put investor interests first and withholding pertinent information violates this requirement...Read More »
Every advisor dreads the notion that his or her clients are looking to go elsewhere. And with 40% of investors thinking about making a move even though the market is nominally rising, nobody can afford to simply let them go. But by the time they’ve made up their minds to tell you, it’s usually too late to convince them to stay. Instead, the time to be alert for red flags is well before the formal relationship ends, forensic accountants say...Read More »
In a recent Investor Watchdog (www.InvestorWatchdog.com) survey, 93% of respondents said they wanted increased transparency from financial advisors when they sell investment advice, services, and products. In particular, they wanted transparency for: Compliance records, education, certifications, experience, and licensing. This first form of transparency is more about you and your competence, ethics, and business practices...Read More »
There is always going to be a client that leaves out of the blue that gets you wondering; why weren’t they happy? Why did they leave? Wasn’t I doing a good job for them?
The first place advisors look is how the client’s portfolio has been doing. Unfortunately, this is only a part of the measurement of the client’s satisfaction. The other part is their satisfaction with the relationship, which is trickier to measure.
The top four categories that clients use to determine how you measure up are:..Read More »
Is the value you believe you offer the same as the one the client perceives? I raise this question because I am meeting so many advisors who are confusing the idea that their clients trust them to manage their financial affairs with the idea that their clients trust only them to invest the money. As a consequence, they are trapped: their businesses are often not growing and they feel unable to change course, all because they misunderstand the fundamental value proposition that underlies their client relationships. In the past, this wrong turn was into the right neighborhood – asset management – which proved profitable regardless; but the neighborhood is changing and I argue that you should use this strategic planning season to reconsider your path and maybe even ask for directions...Read More »
The more you know about your clients, the easier it is to provide the products that best suit their needs. Be curious about their opinions and viewpoints, and make a habit of asking them what they think and what is important to them. Imagining yourself in your clients’ position is one way to figure out what they need. Five tips to improve client service are:..Read More »
Let’s start with a three-part definition.
Part I: Advisors who practice transparency provide accurate information to investors when they sell investment advice and services. The most important information documents the professionals’ education, experience, certifications, compliance record, fiduciary status, compensation, and services.
Part II: Transparency is synonymous with full disclosure. Advisors who practice transparency do not withhold any information that would impact investor decisions when they buy what financial professionals are selling.
Part III: The information is voluntary. Investors do not have to ask the right questions or go to FINRA BrokerCheck to obtain advisor information. Advisors make the process for obtaining information easy for investors...Read More »
Although Lindsay Lohan is supposedly in recovery from her various addictions, she reportedly owes the IRS over $140,000 for unpaid 2010 taxes. What could Lindsay's advisors have done differently to make sure the federal government didn't come so high on her list of people she's wronged?..Read More »
It’s one thing to divide the industry into advisors who give their clients a 360-degree view and those who don’t. Positioning yourself as one of the must-have relationships takes a little more work. At this point, everyone in the wealth management business is aware that investors would rather work with an advisor who exceeds the minimum expected level of service. As ByAllAccounts and the advisor benchmarking gurus at Paladin Registry discovered a few weeks ago in a national survey of investors, clients are increasingly inclined to move their assets if they find an advisor who goes an extra inch, much less an extra mile...Read More »
No estate-planning attorney works alone. Financial advisors are an irreplaceable resource that goes far beyond referrals. I rely on my clients’ financial advisors to provide accurate information regarding the tangible assets within an estate, but I also look to them to help me sift through and make sense of all that is less than tangible. It’s a team approach where financial advisors are invaluable to my process. And like any team, there are strategies that can help us work together more effectively. These strategies can also help financial advisors benefit from the estate planning process as a whole. Here are my top 5 tips for success:..Read More »
Spending a lot of time on radio and tv affords me the ability to not only get my thoughts and messages out, but more importantly, hear the musings and predictions of others who, like me, are trying to be the most informed and engaging personalities when it comes to the investment world. That’s why as I write this January update, I’m rather amazed about the strength of the equity markets around the globe and some of the new trends that have emerged out of nowhere that might be pointing to something different happening in 2012 that many originally thought would not be possible. Let’s take a look at several of the early “trends” that may make investors “friends” with their portfolios again in 2012…..Read More »
As an advisor, you probably have the acronym SMART (specific, measureable, actionable, realistic, time-bound) memorized. You have written down your goals and you’ve asked someone to hold you accountable. To add extra value and to boost your attainment you can add two more strategies: the goal superchargers—affirmations and visualization...Read More »
One of the key themes we discuss with advisors is the re-emergence of economies of scale as a driver of RIA business success. To date, we have discussed this theme in terms of an advisors inability to find the time and resources they need to “keep up” with day-to-day business demands or to focus on new business development to grow the business. Today, we want to explore what economies of scale look like to client prospects and what that means to the competitiveness of firms without it.
In most industries, firms that achieve economies of scale are in a position of competitive advantage. Why? Because, by definition, a larger revenue base affords these firms a greater resource base with which to support front and back office efforts. These firms can afford to dedicate personnel and resources to specific efforts like marketing, technology, customer service and product (planning, investing, insurance, etc.). Smaller firms simply do not have the revenue base to do so. Principals must therefore operate as “jack of all trades” taxing their time and risking the perception that they are “master of none”. The table below illustrates how much additional resources are afforded by scale...Read More »
One of the up-and-coming advisor service organizations told me a few days back that one of their brokerage clients is using the relationship as a recruiting tool. Or more to the point, advisors who want to provide this service are actually calling the brokerage firm to see what it would take to get it for themselves. They’re lining up as qualified leads for this firm’s recruiters to prospect at their leisure. What’s pulling all these advisors into the net? Expertise that they don’t have...Read More »
RIAs and financial planners often provide a broad range of services and receive compensation in a number of different ways. Certain aspects of these services and compensation arrangements will dictate whether or not assets are counted as “regulatory assets under management” in an advisor’s regulatory filings. The SEC now defines “regulatory assets under management” as assets where the advisor provides “continuous and regular supervisory or management services.” Here are some guidelines to help advisors determine which of their clients’ assets should be counted towards AUM under this new definition...Read More »
Big opportunities for wealth managers looking to gain referrals and add to their assets -- as long as they can keep their current clients happy. Years of Wall Street scandals, fiduciary failures and a sagging market have gotten under the skin of wealthy Americans. According to a recent survey, a full 60% of investors are currently considering firing their advisor and 44.7% have already terminated a relationship with an advisor in the past -- interestingly enough, the exact proportion giving referrals. These numbers reveal that if advisors are looking for an average of 16 new clients this year, they’re going to get them from each other -- and that they’ll have to fight for every prospect...Read More »
The good news is that about 60% of advisors now have written succession plans in place. The bad news is that these plans are rarely more than the corporate equivalent of a last will and testament. Many advisors I work with only took the effort to write a succession plan in the first place because their clients were nervous about where their accounts would go in the event of a death, disability or sudden forced retirement. That’s definitely a minimum requirement. None of us are getting any younger and if you’re like most advisors, you’re skewing into your 50s if not beyond...Read More »
I think most financial advisors know businesses that generate fee revenue are worth a lot more than businesses that generate commission revenue. In fact, they may be four to eight times more valuable.Most commission businesses sell for 25% of revenue because new revenues have to be generated by sales activities. The buyer is purchasing a customer list and perhaps some goodwill, but there is no guarantee investors will purchase investment products from the buyer. Compare that to fee businesses that sell for one or two times revenue. The value is much greater because the buyer is purchasing a repeat revenue stream with no sales activity required. If the buyer provides the same services as the seller, there is good chance investors will stay with the buyer...Read More »
Your centres of influence (COIs) can be your more profitable sources of referral business, and by reciprocating the referral you create a positive working relationship. Lawyers, accountants, mortgage brokers and realtors are the top COIs, and some advisors even use other advisors with a specialized niche. You need to be proud and confident that when you are giving the name of your COI to your clients, they will be getting the best service possible...Read More »
Fresh news from some of the biggest brokerage networks around is posing a subtle but real challenge to a lot of advisors’ assumptions about how their careers should progress. I’m not going to name names, because the identity of these firms doesn’t really matter. What matters is that brokerage firm ABC just reported spectacular recruiting numbers -- up over 30% above last year -- and its rivals at firm XYZ kept pace by pulling around $500 million in client assets from the wirehouses...Read More »
A good whitepaper provides you with the opportunity to get detailed information on how to improve your practice, while still enjoying a “quick read” that can fit comfortably into your busy day. Here are five ByAllAccounts whitepapers that were especially popular with advisors in 2011—all written by our CEO, James Carney, and all part of our SMART DECISIONS series. Please feel to read (and/or re-read) any or all of them; we hope you find them informative...Read More »
At ByAllAccounts, we’d like to extend a special thanks to all our blog readers as we close out 2011. Here, at year’s end, we thought it would be a good idea to post our 10 most popular blogs over the previous 12 months. Please feel free to review any or all of these blogs; they were our “reader’s choice” for providing relevant, useful information that can help you grow your advisory firm...Read More »
Providing financial advisors with useful, actionable information is what our webinars at ByAllAccounts are all about. Here, at the conclusion of 2011, we’re pleased to provide you with on-demand replays of our five most widely-attended webinars over the course of the year—offered below for your review. Please feel free to check out any or all the webinars—they’re packed with pointers, guidance and observations that you may find very helpful...Read More »
Recently, I sat down with Linda Bready, Senior VP at Envestnet, to ask her about the best ways for advisors to find the right outsource partner for their needs. Linda brings a lot of experience in this area to the table: Envestnet serves as the outsource partner for many of advisory firms nationwide, and provides a wide array of services to these advisors, including ByAllAccounts’ data aggregation solutions. Here’s what Linda and I discussed:..Read More »
As the conversation around Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) develops, it’s important to note that a Baby Boomer turns 50 every 8.5 seconds, and there are now 77.6 million of us. Clearly, the number of Boomers who are looking at retirement is on the rise—and any discussion of their retirement goals and methods takes on added urgency.
Specifically, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about meeting the needs of Baby Boomers who still have some time until retirement (i.e. 46 – 55 yrs old) and are still very much in the accumulation stage of their financial lifecycle. As they look to transition to the Distribution phase, many will look for a new advisor. Or, if they elect to stay with their current advisor, they may be looking for an expanded or modified set of services to meet their new needs. Either way, whether you’re trying to attract new Baby Boomer investors or retain the ones you already have, there are several points to keep in mind:..Read More »
The numbers are very impressive. The demographic group known as Gen X and Gen Y —basically, your clients’ children—are projected to account for about $28 trillion in investable assets in the U.S. by 2018. That presents a huge opportunity for advisors, and means you’d be wise to develop a strategy for acquiring and serving these investors, if you haven’t started to do so already...Read More »
In today’s fast-paced world, we all feel the pressure to do more in the same 24-hour period, from going to work, closing new business and increasing communication with existing clients to making educated investment decisions, maximizing profitability, and networking with industry peers. And that’s just in our professional lives. After we leave the office, most of us have family responsibilities that are just as important as our professional ones. So how do we create a healthy balance between work and family? One way is with effective time management. But the reality is that time management can be a challenge for all of us—and I am no exception . But having said that, here are three things that help me organize my day and stay on track:..Read More »
I believe that the most important component of an RIA’s strategic planning process is identifying and fostering a genuine “sustainable competitive advantage.” Competitive advantage is simply how you do what you do in a way that distinguishes your firm from your competition. This alone is, of course, important and exists in some way if an RIA has successfully won business in competitive markets. A sustainable competitive advantage, however, is one that you can protect from replication by competitors. It represents the distinctive competencies that your clients value and that you can control. This ultimately becomes the core to your value proposition...Read More »
You may have heard from your peers that aggregating data on held-away accounts is an excellent way to increase AUM and revenue. Or perhaps you’ve seen its AUM-boosting capabilities for yourself. The questions are: How do you market data aggregation to your clients? How do you convince them of the many benefits it offers them that may not be available from competitive firms? There are four interrelated points you’ll want to make:..Read More »
Growing up in rural southern Indiana, I was always impressed with the wisdom of farmers. Even as a kid, I admired their ability to manage through many hardships. After hearing a story from a leader in the global IT industry, my admiration of farmers has increased – and it provides a terrific question we should all financial advisors should be asking in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace...Read More »
We’ve all seen a great deal written about the workings of today’s RIA firm, with a big focus on best practices, technology, client marketing and investment strategies. They’re all essential elements of a successful firm—no question about that. But I have not seen much press devoted to another essential element—the act of measuring the success itself—namely, the science of business analytics...Read More »
The following data is taken from an analysis that was developed by Paladin Registry (www.PaladinRegistry.com) in July, 2011.
Investors use two primary processes when they select financial planners and investment advisors.
57% of investors use a subjective approach that is based on the following criteria:..Read More »
Have you ever been in the middle of a fever-pitched project when a team member stops everyone in their tracks by saying “Can we take a step back and confirm what we are working on here?” I have always admired that person. It’s not easy for someone to stall a team’s progress by calling a “time out” like this. Sometimes it turns out that this person was the only one toiling away without a clear sense of purpose. More often though, the need for clarity and direction goes well beyond the one person that calls it out. Now, take this project-level scenario and apply it to a routine workday. Are there people on your advisory firm’s team performing their daily activities while harboring this urge to call a “time out”? Would your team’s day-to-day activities be more effective if everyone shared a “mutual purpose”?..Read More »
It’s no secret that a streamlined investment management process one of the keys to an investment firm’s overall operational performance. Numbers talk. And what they’re saying is that TAMPs have been very successful. Just look at the growth in TAMP assets: according to Tiburon Research, TAMP assets grew from $16 billion to $250 billion over the past 10 years during a market period when the S&P 500 drew flat returns. In our first installment in a multi-part series about streamlining the investment management process, from research to asset allocation, investment modeling to rebalancing and trading, we will focus on why TAMPs or Turnkey Asset Management Programs must maximize their efficiency and how these lessons can benefit your firm.
Specifically, there are five reasons a TAMP platform is a model for success:..Read More »
It felt like the old days at the AdventConnect 2011 Conference in Boston last week—with a charged, high energy atmosphere and attendance levels that broke all previous records. No doubt, the excitement created by the Advent purchase of.....Read More »
The last few weeks have been painful for all of us in the investment community to watch. The headlines seem to be fueling unrest in the markets, and uncertainty about the future seems pervasive. However, for advisors, the market turmoil can be an opportunity to strengthen client relationships. Almost every day, you’ll find an opportunity to increase your client retention and revenue. This can be accomplished in a couple of ways.....Read More »
For today’s financial advisor, it’s not necessarily a case of passing judgment on this type of investment vehicle. Rather, it’s a matter of processing our collective knowledge of how the markets reacted in the past, reappraising opportunities and risks, and where appropriate, incorporating alternative investments into investors’ portfolios. The fact is, even though the popularity of alternative investments declined after the financial meltdown, they have started to make a comeback—and high-net-worth investors are once again exploring how they fit into a forward-thinking investment strategy...Read More »
Trying to decide whether data aggregation is right for your firm? Not sure which solution is best for your needs? Need answers, but not sure where to start? Well, at the risk of promoting myself, that’s where I come in. At ByAllAccounts, it’s my job to answer the questions of those interested in data aggregation to help them understand exactly what we do and don’t do. It’s from the questions that these advisors most frequently ask—and from my knowledge of what they should ask (I always help them out by steering them to these questions)—that I’ve put together this list of five “must ask” questions that will make your search easier:..Read More »
Let’s face it: College costs are skyrocketing—and even clients with the healthiest portfolios are finding the cost of financing their children’s education to be substantial. That’s one reason 529 plans have become so popular, and why roughly 80% of advisors now offer them to clients.
So…now that we’ve reached the time of year when students are headed back to school, I’d like to spend a moment taking a closer look at 529 plans and what they can mean for today’s advisor. Here are 5 things you need to know:..Read More »
Sometimes, it pays to go by the numbers. In this instance, it certainly does—because we’ve assembled all of the “numbers” blogs we’ve posted over the previous few months, and are giving you the opportunity to catch up on any of the ones you missed, or re-read any that you found memorable and helpful. And yes—if you add up all “tips,” “takeaways,” “keys,” and “reasons” etc. in the titles, it totals up to 106. Good reading!..Read More »
Every day, I talk to advisors about their business. One of the most popular subjects we discuss is succession planning. It’s a hot topic these days, and as a result of my conversations, I’ve decided to do a bit of research into it. Now, just to be clear, I’m not someone who plans on ever owning my own advisory firm, but I find the topic to be very intriguing nonetheless. After reading many articles and even sitting in on a succession planning seminar at the TD Ameritrade conference, I’ve come to realize just how complicated it can be to successfully pass the torch from one advisor to another...Read More »
Back in April, my colleague Barbara Kotlyar, wrote a blog entitled “Change the Nature of Your Relationship (Nurture Your Clients).” It touched on the advantages of segmenting your client base, and suggested that one good starting point for a segmentation strategy was to divvy up your clients by household profitability/ revenue generated. (There are, of course, many other criteria you can use, such as age bracket, level of influence in the community, length of the client relationship, and so on.) I’d like to follow up on Barbara’s blog by outlining a 4-step process that can help you successfully implement a segmentation strategy...Read More »
Okay, so I am not a CFA, CFP, IMCA…but I have been in the financial industry for 20 years, including 15 years at Financial Advisory firms. During this time, I’ve seen what every investor and member of the financial services industry has seen: the market in all of its ups and downs. Yet in spite of the constant fluctuation, and the fact that the fluctuation is the one constant in the market’s behavior, we still hear a common refrain when the market takes a significant dip: “The market is taking a plunge,” the journalists and pundits say. “We are in the midst of an economic crisis.” And more ominously, they imply “If there ever were a time to press the panic button, this is it!” Somehow, the market always comes back.....Read More »
Today's news coverage says it all: words like "plunging stocks," "massive volatility," "lowest levels," "looming recession," "double dip," and "rout" are liberally peppered throughout much of the media. In this environment, it doesn't take long for the pundits and talking heads to start discussing what an advisor should be saying to his or her clients. It comes with the turf, and is certainly no surprise. Because the fact is, as your clients struggle to make sense of a situation they can't control or comprehend, they will increasingly turn to you for context, calm and comfort. You need to communicate with them clearly and unequivocally. That's why I recommend that you make the following five pointers the guideposts of your "crisis mode" communications (they're good everyday pointers, too, regardless of a "meltdown")...Read More »
After giving the Treasury advance notice around 1:30 yesterday, S&P officially downgraded US debt from AAA to AA+ at 8:00PM (Eastern) last night. S&P said the downgrade “reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics.” It also blamed the weakened “effectiveness, stability, and predictability” of U.S. policy making and......Read More »
Many client relationships follow the same sequence of events: You have your initial meeting with your client. You discuss the client’s financial hopes and dreams. You establish long-term goals to accumulate wealth for the client’s retirement. You generate positive investment performance. You meet your goals. The client retires—and then, poof, he or she is gone to another investment firm. Just like that. What happened?..Read More »
Recently, my husband and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into our family. After counting all her fingers and toes, we breathed a sigh of relief to know that she was healthy. As far as I could tell, all the disciplined planning that I did during the nine months of my pregnancy had paid off. I had been very conscientious in carefully mapping out my diet in order to give my daughter the best chance for a healthy start.....Read More »
Sometimes, when you’re a financial advisor, you can end up feeling more like a therapist than a financial specialist. As a trusted advisor, you not only have access to the client’s financial picture, but to his or her private life as well. That’s especially true when a life altering event changes one of your client’s lives, such as a divorce, death, marriage, or any other momentous event. This will be the first in a series of blogs about what to do when life altering events change your clients’ lives—and in the process, alter your relationship with them, too. In this case, we’ll look at do’s and don’ts for advisors when your clients go through a divorce.....Read More »
When it comes to advising clients on their investments, you’re a pro. It’s what you do for a living, and the expertise you possess and advice you dispense are valuable commodities. But when you’re building client relationships, are they enough to sustain and grow the relationships? Good question—with a simple answer. You’ll find that your client relationships can be greatly improved—from establishing trust to increasing the frequency of client contact—when you go from financial advisor to “life advisor”......Read More »
Summer is here – and internship season is in full swing! As the authors of this blog, we write from an intern’s perspective. We’re both currently interns at ByAllAccounts – and based on our experiences at the firm (as well as other internships during our brief careers), we are both convinced of the benefits of being an intern and hiring an intern. So…we’d like to pass along some insights on why it makes sense for you to bring interns on board. Or if you’ve already gone ahead and hired interns, we have some tips on how to get the most out of them...Read More »
It’s approaching 9:00 in the evening and I’m waiting to board my delayed flight to Seattle for a long weekend. I’ve been looking forward to this mini-getaway and it’s finally here. Other travelers at the gate are continuing on to Asia, hitting the seas for an Alaskan cruise, or heading up to beautiful British Columbia. The end of June is upon us and both the Summer and vacation seasons are in full swing.....Read More »
In my last blog, I mentioned how I'd been listening to advisors talk about what they considered the top three challenges they faced. However, in spite of these challenges, I got the sense from the advisors' remarks that they felt positive about where things are headed in the industry. According to them (and many industry watchers), the advisory market is showing stability and RIA firms are growing. That’s good news, right? Well, hold off on the champagne and caviar for now.....Read More »
Here at ByAllAccounts, we run a fair number of webinars, and like most business initiatives, they require a bit of preparation. Most recently, we ran a webinar on June 8th in conjunction with Jefferson National that showed how we worked with them to help our mutual client—Kenjol Capital Management—significantly increase AUM. During these preparations, I had a chance to speak to some of the key players at Kenjol. I found that they had some interesting things to say that not only reflect how they managed to capture a greater share of wallet, but that also serve as guideposts to other advisors seeking to build their businesses.....Read More »
I would like to advance a new idea; introducing a HECM Reverse Mortgage as one component of a holistic financial plan. By definition, home equity should be included for the plan to be considered truly holistic. Here are specific ideas for Financial Planners on how a reverse mortgage might function in this capacity:..Read More »
I recently traveled to beautiful Salt Lake City, UT for the 2011 NAPFA National Conference. Though there were many interesting observations to be shared and made over the course of the two day event—both at the ByAllAccounts booth and in various break outs—on the plane ride home to Boston, I found myself thinking about only two...Read More »
I recently had the opportunity to speak with two advisory firms and learn about the challenges they have encountered while trying to move their firms to the next level of success. The major challenge both firms seemed to be facing was getting started (and making progress) on projects they identified as being crucial to reaching this higher level, such as creating efficient processes and building scale into their business.
Here is a six step process advisory firms can follow to move past initial obstacles and to the next level of success.....Read More »
I talk to financial advisors all day, every day. Of the hundreds of conversations I have with advisors each week, the large majority are about data aggregation and how it can be utilized to help scale and grow their businesses. However, though data aggregation is by far the most common thing we talk about, it is by no means the only...I hear a lot about advisors' everyday headaches, frustrations and anxieties—problems that they're having, and issues that they wish to resolve. Obviously it's nicer to hear about peoples' pleasures than it is their pains, but I'm just as interested in listening to the latter as I am the former, because it fascinates me to see the ways in which these obstacles are overcome in the long run, and how by sharing these challenges with others in similar situations, common solutions can sometimes be found...Read More »
Words to the wise from our elite team of experts and executives with knowledge and experience from all corners of the financial services industry...Read More »
Guest Speaker: Blaine Aikin, CEO, fi360..Read More »
Words to the wise from our elite team of experts and executives with knowledge and experience from all corners of the financial services industry...Read More »
Pending the congressional decision on the establishment of a common fiduciary standard for all financial advisors, at least for now, being a financial advisor does not necessarily mean being a fiduciary. From an industry standpoint, that is. I did an ad hoc survey last weekend at a group gathering with friends outside the financial services industry, and it was interesting to find that, by description, what we in the industry would refer to as "adhering to the fiduciary standard", many investors would simply call "being a financial advisor". With this discrepancy in books between advisors and investors where the definition of "fiduciary" in ours appears next to the word "financial advisor" in theirs, from the investor's point-of-view, anyone with the title "Financial Advisor" on their business card is inherently expected of the following.....Read More »
ByAllAccounts' new study, Advisor Perceptions of Fiduciary Responsibility, offers a fascinating snapshot of how RIAs and brokers are demonstrating their commitment to serving in their clients' best interests, while also illustrating, however, that many apply their own litmus test to determine where this responsibility begins and ends...Read More »
The discussion regarding the implementation of a common fiduciary standard for anyone giving financial advice may be shelved far back in the minds of congress, but for an investor making a decision on whom to trust as their financial advisor it is still very important...Read More »
Each year, industry professionals flock from all over for the T3 conference--the altar at which the marriage of technology and financial planning is honored in an annual renewal of vows. With so many new innovations and changes in the marketplace occurring this past year, the 2011 conference was like a boiling pot for practice management and technological integration. The following are what I consider the top 3 standouts stirred from the conference:..Read More »
I recently had the pleasure to escape the ravages of winter in Boston and visit sunny San Diego to participate in the annual TD Ameritrade Conference. While at the show, I enjoyed a number of very powerful sessions addressing an array of issues in realms of practice management, custody, compliance, technology and more, including Colin Powell's enthralling speech on leadership (which I'm sure many of you have already been reading about). Returning to Boston, though I was unable to bring the warm weather back with me, I did manage to salvage some valuable souvenirs to share with you all, in what I deem the top three takeaways from the 2011 TD Ameritrade National Conference for an RIA to consider...Read More »
An interview with Nancy Hradsky, Special Projects Manager, NAPFA
"Fiduciary" is one of the industry's hot topics. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) has been a champion of the fiduciary standard since the mid 1990s, well before it became popular. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Nancy Hradsky, Special Projects Manager for NAPFA, and get her perspective on the fiduciary standard...Read More »
It seems fitting to conclude the year by reflecting on the five most popular webinars over the past 12 months. In decreasing order, based on the number of registrations for the live webinar and the on-demand replays combined, those are:..Read More »
You've gone through months - possibly years - of manual data entry, and now you're down to the final stages of streamlining your financial data into your portfolio management system. You know well that there is time and money at stake in such an undertaking, and you want to do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition from your legacy system to your new system. Here are a few tips to ensure a smooth implementation of the Custodial Integrator...Read More »
Communication with clients was initiated today concerning the opportunity to have their 401(k) and 403(b) assets managed professionally in the same way as the assets that are custodied at Schwab. As part of my quarterly mailing, I send a one page (front and back) newsletter of sorts. It usually includes a brief market commentary as well as covering several other topics. This time I included management of held-away assets, so I'm anticipating having at least a few clients respond. For the benefit of those reading this blog, here is the way I introduced the topic:..Read More »
Outsource it or keep it in-house? When you become an independent advisor, the responsibilities of running a business and meeting your clients' needs are now on your shoulders. With so many different areas that need to be addressed, how do you want to spend your time? If you don't want to hire staff to make sure it's all covered, outsourcing is an option. A number of well-established companies provide outsourcing for portfolio data management, reporting, human resources, compliance, billing and investment strategy. Some combine multiple services, like portfolio reporting and billing...Read More »
I worked through the daily process myself for the first time today. In the Setup area, there was a message, "Not all updates". I wasn't sure what that meant, though I think it might mean that there was no new information available from my custodian since the last data I posted and accepted.....Read More »
Custodial Integrator was installed on my computer today. Matt logged in and took over my PC, so I didn't have to do anything but watch. I asked several questions during the installation, and Matt was patient to answer them as he worked. We also set up the ByAllAccounts interface in PortfolioCenter. Both the installation and setup occurred without a hitch, and the technology used to accomplish this worked flawlessly. It was a very easy process for me...Read More »
Today was my introduction to the ByAllAccounts platform, starting with WebPortfolio. Les Sutton and I connected using GoToMeeting and a phone call. He was able to view my desktop, allowing me to operate the application as he provided instructions. This was an excellent way to allow me to get hands-on experience with an application I had literally never seen before. Prior to our session, Les provided an invitation to the web meeting. Everything was clear and easy to understand, and all links worked as expected. I had no problem with the technology used to link us up...Read More »
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