For BDs, Compliance Is Only A Start In Advisor Use Of Social Media

Erado, makers of social media compliance platform for independent BDs and investment advisors, today announced it has been tapped by Investacorp, Inc., an independent broker-dealer subsidiary of Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc.

Erado looks like it's a fine compliance app and I hope to get to work with Erado, but compliance apps do not get an advisor to change his behavior and suddenly become active on social media.

Maybe 1% of an independent broker/dealer’s advisors will actually figure out how to parlay a new social media compliance platform into client acquisition.

To it credit, Investacorp has now made it possible for its affiliated advisors to communicate and engage in business development using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Erado’s platform allows Investacorp to track and archive its advisors' social media activity. It's a good thing for sure.

FINRA regulatory notice 11-39 requires diligent record-keeping and supervision of social media content from mobile and other devices, and I’m sure Erado has a solution addressing that.

However, working with an app that ensures compliance when an advisor uses social media is totally different from getting an advisor to create his own engaging social media content that is consistent with a strategic marketing plan.

My guess is that the vast majority of advisors—probably 80%—will not in the next 12 months change their behavior enough to benefit from social media marketing. Maybe 20% of advisors will put in enough effort to benefit from social media in 2012, with an emphasis on “maybe.”

Advisor Products, which has been focused on helping advisors use social media for several years, is  launching an automated and integrated social media content stream for financial advisors in 2012. Details will be announced shortly. (If you’re responsible for helping groups of successful advisors market their services, give me a call to talk about this.)

Point is, for BDs, social media compliance is only part of the equation in helping advisors use social media for business development. I’m not sure BDs appreciate what’s needed beyond compliance.
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Advisors Can Share Any Document Securely With Clients With AdvisorVault Desktop Connector

Financial advisors can now drag and drop any file on their desktop to a client’s vault.

With the launch this week of AdvisorVault Desktop Connector, Sharing documents securely with clients has never been so easy.


There’s no need to open a browser, log in to a vault application, browse to a client's vault, and browse to the file you want to upload.


The drag and drop capability means advisors can routinely share documents with clients and outside professionals throughout the business day as part of their routine workflow.

DesktopConnector is the latest enhancement to AdvisorVault, which is a fully encrypted web-based system enabling secure sharing of personal financial documents with clients, estate planning attorneys, and accountants.

AdvisorVault Desktop Connector lets advisors view all of their clients’ vaults and drill down in each vault’s folders right on their desktop without opening a browser.

Compatible with Windows operating systems, is available at no additional charge to AdvisorVault users.

AdvisorVault integrations with Schwab PortfolioCenter, Advent Axys, Albridge Solutions, AssetBook, CabinetNG, MoneyGuide Pro, and other leading professional applications imports client reports in batches.

AdvisorVault is used by more than 400 advisory firms and offers features and workflows that make advisory firms more efficient and better able to communicate personal information to clients.

For more information, please contact us.
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Intermittent, Random Bug Affecting Some Sites; Testing And Maintenance Overnight

A recent upgrade of hardware and software is causing a random intermittent problem with websites.

We will be doing maintenance and testing overnight and your site may experience some down time.

Please email service@advisorproducts.com if your site's loading slowly tomorrow.

We apologize for the inconvenience and are working hard to fix the problem.



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Make A Marketing Video At Schwab Impact Next Week

Here is a chance to reach prospects in a direct and personal way.

I will be off camera interviewing you, the questions are then edited out, and what remains are 6 one- to threee-minute videos that give prospects a great sense of who you are and what is important in your practice.

The videos can be posted to your website, to your LinkedIn profile, and to YouTube and other social media sites. You can then send links to the videos to prospects.

The cost of the videos is $1,750 includes videotaping with professional equipment and all post-production editing.

See samples and sign up now.
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Fritz Meyer’s Research Now Comes With Client-Facing Presentations

Fritz Meyer’s monthly investment research now comes with client-facing content for your website, blog or social media pages.

Meyer’s research is currently available as a PowerPoint presentation. Meyer updates his research monthly and advisors can buy it for $50 monthly.

Advisors use the slides in client meetings, webinars, and as the basis for blogs and newsletter articles.

To make it even easier for advisor to use Meyer’s research in client communications, we’re now providing Meyer’s research as ready-to-go videos--at no additional cost.

Each month, we’re creating three two-minute videos that summarize Fritz’s most important ideas for long-term investors.

In addition, advisors also receive scripts of what Fritz says in each of three short videos, which can be used as a basis for writing your blog posts.

You can also use the script to narrate your own Slidecast.  Then, your voice is what clients and prospects will hear.

Finally, we’re providing subscribers MP3 audio files of each of the three short presentations, so you can use Fritz’s narration on a Slidecast branded to your firm.

Making Meyer’s research accessible in so many formats makes it easy for advisors to create their own content, which is necessary for effective social media marketing.

Meyer’s research supports advisors with a long-term investment horizon who utilize a broadly diversified asset allocation strategy.

Please keep in mind that because of the timeliness, we do not submit the Fritz Meyer slides shows (or the videos) to FINRA for advertising review. While all of our other content is submitted to FINRA, you will need to ensure they meet your firm’s compliance requirements if you are making them available to clients.

Fritz provides a free webinar on the second Wednesday of every explaining his latest research and advisors give Firtz rave reviews. Sign up for Fritz's next webinar.
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How Is Document Management Software For Advisors Different From Client Vaulting?

Document management systems for advisors, which enable advisors to create a paperless office, are crucial for record keeping and efficiency. They're legally required for Registered Investment Advisers.

But they are not designed for client access.

To be sure, Document Management Software (DMS) is crucial technology to operating a financial advice business efficiently.

The way you file documents--the software interface the staff uses to file documents--is created by your DMS system. The information stored on your DMS must be logically structured, searchable, and scalable. Of course, security, redundancy, and your service agreement are important factors to evaluate. DMS solutions are complex systems that enable a paperless office.

But they are not designed for client access.

That's why the integration of Cabinet NG's document management software for advisors with AdvisorVault's client vault system for advisors is a big deal.

 

 

By working together, Cabinet NG and Advisor Products have taken the paperless office concept a step further than any other tech vendors serving advisors.

We've made it easy for advisors to post documents to a client vault from document management software.

The integration of Cabinet NG's document management software with AdvisorVault turns documents stored internally into external client communications.

To satisfy books and records rules, investment advisors must retain all documents relevant to servicing clients. Cabinet NG fulfills that requirement, using write once, read many (WORM) disk drives to fulfill Securities and Exchange Commission requirements that your records are tamper-proof.

But, like all other document management systems for advisors, Cabinet NG is not meant to be shared with your clients. So Cabinet NG partnered with Advisor Products to streamline an advisor's work.

Not all vendors are as enlightened as Cabinet NG.

Just about every practice management software app used by wealth managers, financial planners and other investment advisors offers a client online access point. Ebix SmartOffice, for instance, offers a client portal. So do Junxure, MoneyGuide Pro, Finance Logix, Black Diamond, AssetBook, PortfolioCenter, and just about every other app made for advisors. They all offer a way for you to give clients a view of their data online.

But none of those apps used by advisors is dedicated to creating the best client interface that integrates information from other systems.

Those apps provide ways for advisors to create financial plans, manage and report portfolio performance, and manage customer relationships. But none is made expressly to promote client communications.

While the client interface is a secondary goal for these apps, that is AdvisorVault’s sole mission: helping you create a great client experience by making communication secure and easy.

Every tech vendor that integrates with AdvisorVault acknowledges that the client interface it may provide is different from AdvisorVault, a solution dedicated solely to client communications. Not every tech vendor is willing to concede that their app will not be the client portal.

In integrating with AdvisorVault, Cabinet NG shows a commitment to doing what's best for advisors. Together, we can do great things for advisors.

For example, you can set up client folders in Cabinet NG to automatically synch with a client’s vault. Anytime you put a document into a client’s folder in your document management system, it will be automatically uploaded the client’s vault. And if the client does not have a vault, Cabinet NG sets one up on AdvisorVault.

Then, AdvisorVault notifies the client, who comes to your website to view the document. The clients sees that document along with others stored in his vault—portfolio reports, financial plans, brokerage statements as well as wills and trust documents, copies of passports, a medical proxy, and other personal information.

 
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Hurricane Recovery Of Advisor Products Can Serve As A Model For Advisory Firms

Advisor Products staff worked from their homes Monday, accessing company systems online, after Hurricane Irene knocked out power throughout Long Island and at the company's Jericho, N.Y. office.

Though Advisor Products is not an advisory firm, its recovery from the hurricane provides a model for advisory firms to prepare for a disaster.


An estimated half million Long Island residents—270,264 homes and businesses, according to Long Island Power Authority—remained without power as of noon Tuesday.  Advisor Products operations, however, were back to normal.

Advisor Products websites were unaffected by Hurricane Irene. Advisor Products hosts about 1,100 financial advisor websites as well as secure client communications systems, like AdvisorVault, at an SAS 70 datacenter. The hosting facility never lost power and did not even need to resort to using its backup power systems.

However, internal systems for managing the staff and tracking client service requests had to be reconfigured Monday morning as the company implemented its disaster recovery plan and went virtual to service customers.

The professionalism and dedication of the Advisor Products staff has been remarkable:

  • Nipun Manglik, an engineer on the advisor websites Help Desk, says that despite the disruption in power he has ensured all customer services requests made by Advisor Products are responded to within 24-hours by phone.

  • IT Manager Jason Fogelson, whose wife is expecting a baby imminently, provided a desk and electric power to three Advisor Products staffers who do not have power in their homes.


 


While Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it struck Long Island overnight Saturday, it hit the 125- by 25-mile swath of land in its power grid. By the time the wind and rain stopped on Sunday afternoon, widespread power outages had befallen the dense- populated suburban towns across the Island. Trees weakened by a rain-soaked August fell throughout Nassau and Suffolk County.

At 9 a.m., Monday, the company’s phone and email systems had been restored, enabling staff to answer client calls and emails, and the company’s CRM system was back online at 5 p.m., allowing project managers, HTML specialists, and technical support staff access notes about open cases and track client website development projects.

I’m proud of the way our team has performed.
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Hurricane Irene Battered East Coast, But Advisor Websites Hosted By Advisor Products Stayed Live

Hurricane Irene, the biggest storm to hit the New York metropolitan area in 25 years, battered Long Island with 65 mile an hour winds and gusts of 85, but service to Advisor Products websites and customers was uninterrupted.

Long Island, a peninsula-shaped stretch of land jutting east 125 miles from Manhattan into the Atlantic and the home of Advisor Products in Jericho, N.Y., was hit right in its power grid. On Monday morning, 24 hours after the rain and winded ended, a half-million Long Islanders reportedly remained without electric power (including the CEO’s home.)

At Advisor Products headquarters, where no advisor websites are hosted but internal management information systems are maintained, IT managers Steve Gordonson and Jason Fogelson elected late Saturday night in preparation for the hurricane to shut down all internal operations systems. The decision proved wise. Power to the Jericho area turned off and on many times overnight Saturday but by 9 a.m. power outages in the suburban hamlet of 13,045 were widespread.

Fallen trees and power poles can be seen all over Long Island  Monday morning. A map on the website of the local utility, Long Island Power Authority, on Monday morning showed widespread power-outages still affected almost every town on Long Island.

By 7 a.m. Monday, when it was clear the power would not be restored in time for business by 9.m., Advisor Products went virtual, relying solely on web-based apps to service advisory firms. By 9 a.m., Advisor Products VOIP phone system was relocated and restored, enabling customers to call the company.

Advisor Products’ 14 employees were all able to run internal company systems from their homes using the Internet and were available to help customers.

A senior member of the service staff  located in Florida and another staffer in California were unaffected by the hurricane. In addition, contractors worldwide work for the company by accessing Advisor Product’s internal applications online. For Advisor Products, "going virtual" and shutting down its Jericho office, takes a few hours.

While some disruption to daily operations was expected Monday morning, all systems supporting service to Advisor Products clients--including the company's CRM--are expected to be fully operational  by mid-afternoon Monday afternoon.

While the company’s engineering team was well-prepared and responded quickly to Hurricane Irene, Advisor Products recently made a significant new investment in new hardware configuration enabling virtual server technology. It's expected to be launched by the end of 2011 and will make disaster recovery simpler.
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Data Show Advisors Deeply Integrating AdvisorVault's Secure Document Sharing Into Their Daily Routine

An analysis of logins by advisors using AdvisorVault, a secure application for sharing documents with clients and allied professionals, shows that more than 100 advisors averaged two logins into AdvisorVault every business day over the past year.

 

The data show that 25 advisors have logged in an average of 12 times every business day in the past year, and 50 advisors have averaged five  logins every business day over the past year.

One advisor logged in about 8,000 times in the past year, according to the data.

About 700 independent advisory firms now use AdvisorVault to deliver documents securely to clients and other professionals, and a new advisory firm is signing up daily.

One firm is using AdvisorVault to distribute Advent Axys reports daily to 400 advisors, but most RIAs use it to distribute reports and other documents securely to retail clients.

AdviorVault is highly scalable and contains many features unavailable on other systems for secure document sharing with clients.

AdvisorVault Desktop Connector, which is now being beta tested and is expected to be released at the end of September, increases usability dramatically. It allows an advisor to drag and drop documents into a client’s vault without opening a browser. You  don't have to open a browser log in, browse to a client vault, and then select the  document to be uploaded.

Desktop Connector, which works on Mac and Windows operating systems, provides a desktop interface for accessing a secure web-based drive in the cloud. It's as easy to use as Box.net for secure document sharing but includes integrations with portfolio reporting and document management apps advisors need as well as specialized client communications tools and content.

 
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With Market Swinging Wildly, Advisor Products Releases Articles For Advisors To Email Clients

With markets swooning, Advisor Products last week released nine articles for immediate use by advisors who subscribing to our website and client newsletter services. Breaking news coverage from our team of experienced financial reporters, along with interviews with investment strategist Fritz Meyer, were included in the special content release.

It was a week in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average swung 400-points up or down four days in a row. Whipsawed advisors began emailing us Wednesday requesting articles to distribute to their clients. The downgrade of the U.S. Government by Standard & Poor’s and worries about the debt crisis spreading to Europe had sparked uncertainty and panic selling.

Wednesday night, Advisor Products responded by providing an article based on research from investment strategist Fritz Meyer entitled, “Focus On Economic Fundamentals That Drive Securities Prices Long Term, And Don’t Succumb To The Hysteria In The Markets.”

On Friday evening, we released another eight articles:

  • The U.S. Downgrade Was Bad, But Default Would’ve Been Worse

  • Money Market Funds Should Shrug Off U.S. Downgrade

  • Economic Measures Signal Solid Rebound Even As Stocks Fall

  • Take Advantage Of Fed’s Low-Rate Pledge

  • Don’t Panic: The Economy Is Signaling A Recovery

  • European Politicians Can Still Come Back From Vacation And Save The Euro

  • What Does The Downgrade Of U.S. Debt Really Mean?

  • Short-Term Correction Creates Long-Term Buying Opportunity


The content release contained a note disclosing that the articles were not FINRA reviewed and advising advisors to consult their compliance officers before sending them to clients. The articles were for use in emails. They are now being submitted to FINRA.

Sending out breaking news articles is a departure from our usual editorial process. Advisor Products, which has produced client newsletters for advisors since 1996, has a team of financial editors and writers that produce our content. In addition, an Editorial Advisory Board comprised of leading financial advisors review content for technical accuracy, and then the articles are submitted to FINRA for regulatory review. With markets so erratic, however, we truncated our editorial process and released copy without FINRA review.

Would appreciate any feedback on how we did.
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