Get 38 Hours Of CFP® Continuing Education Credit On Advisors4Advisors

You can get 38 hours of CFPâ continuing education credit on Advisors4Advisors, a practice management portal for advisors. And if you sign up for a free six-month membership to A4A, you get it for free!

Simply register for our next webinar and you’ll receive an email with six-month free trial of A4A after the webinar.

Already a member of A4A? Just click on one of the webinar titles below and sign in to A4A to view the session. Watch the session for at least 50 minutes and take a 10-question quiz when it’s over to receive CFP® CE credit.
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Advisor Products Implements Managed Intrusion Detection And Prevention

Advisor Products has implemented a unified threat management system to detect and prevent malicious activities on all of its web servers.

Adoption of the Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDPS) by Advisor Products had been requested by a large financial institution seeking to use AdvisorVault, a secure system that allows financial advisors to share documents with clients and allied professionals and that is integrated with several portfolio management software applications.

Hackers and malicious activities by rogue employees of tech vendors and advisory firms pose a growing risk, as more advisors are utilizing Web-based applications to communicate personal financial information to clients and improve efficiency.

Advisory firms are not only under pressure from cybercrime and insider abuse, but also face increasing compliance demands, as state and federal regulators tighten rules protecting client privacy and on establishing effective and measurable security.

The intrusion detection and prevention system implemented by Advisor Products adds a new layer to the company’s already elaborate security systems. The IDPS service monitors all Advisor Products servers 24/7 to identify malicious activity, log information about suspicious activity, attempt to block these activities, and automatically report them to technicians and engineers on the Advisor Products team. Some of the features include:

  • Enterprise Grade Firewall. A sophisticated enterprise-grade firewall managed by certified security experts.

  • Best In Class Intrusion Prevention. The system is carefully maintained and managed by a world leader in vulnerability and intrusion protection research and used by many of the world’s largest enterprise.

  • Best Practices Management. Change management, incident management and all aspects of the service are monitored for compliance with times-tested management practices.

  • 7x24 Incident Response. The service provider’s engineers monitor and respond to critical security events 7x24, 365 days per year and report critical issues to the Advisor Products tech team immediately.

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Bug Fix Allows Collaboration On A Single File In AdvisorVault

The bug fix to AdvisorVault that I mentioned in my blog entry on June 29  was made a couple of weeks ago, and I just realized I forgot to write an update about that.

Advisors who use AdvisorVault can now share a single file with an accountant or estate planning lawyer.

While you all along have been able to share a client entire vault or a single folder, the bug had prevented advisors from sharing a single file with an outside professional.  

For financial advisors, being able to share client documents securely with attorneys, accountants, consultants, and other allied professionals is an important feature in AdvisorVault.

It's one of those rare examples where a seemingly small technology feature  provides a big benefit.

Advisors say that collaboration with other professoinals is a natural way of creating a referral network of professionals.

In the course of sharing information about a client in AdvisorVault, allied professionals wind up communicating more efficiently and more frequently. And since secure file-sharing  in AdvisorVault is easy, the feedback I've gotten from advisors is that it's getting used a lot.
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Quarterly Market Summary Makes Performance Reporting Easier

Quarterly portfolio reporting can be stressful enough for financial advisors — dealing with delivery of the reports electronically or in the mail is a major hassle — but the task is even more difficult when you must write a market commentary to accompany your quarterly client reports.



Next time you need a quarterly market update to send with your portfolio reports to clients, take a
free trial of Quarterly Market Summary from Advisor Products.



Quarterly Portfolio Reporting

Quarterly portfolio reporting is a major hassle for RIAs. Printing, collating, and stuffing is time-consuming, and everything must be absolutely perfect.



When quarterly portfolio reporting is further complicated by having to research and write a quarterly commentary, the project becomes downright stressful.



Making matters worse, the trailing 10-year total return on the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index shows an annualized 1.6% loss! Long-term investors have been slammed!



Getting help with writing about what’s happening in the markets makes quarterly portfolio reporting easier.



Quarterly Market Update

There is no substitute for your own words in explaining portfolio performance to your clients. So Quarterly Market Summary enables you to personalize your message to your clients.



Most of the content you need to write to accompany your performance reports is comprised of facts about the economy and markets. Quarterly Market Summary provides you with that text. You simply personalize it.



Outsource To Financial Writers

Why reinvent the wheel? Is it smart to spend your time or assign staff to compile statistics summarizing performance of stocks, bonds, industries, interest rates, foreign markets, GDP, inflation, employment, currencies, and other key data? Are you professional writers? Will you proofread everything?



Quarterly Market Summary is written by a seasoned financial journalist. A financial editor with 30 years of experience re-works it. It’s then proofread by yet another financial writer and sent for review to several financial advisors.



Quarterly Market Summary is delivered in a Microsoft Word document so that you can rewrite and repurpose it easily.



Quarterly Market Summary Free Trial

To take advantage of our no risk, free trial offer,
register with Advisor Products. Registration also gives you access to replays of our educational webinars and our MarketingSmart e-newsletter for advisors.



If you are already registered with Advisor Products,
log in here for your free trial of Quarterly Market Summary.



To see a sample and get more information about Quarterly Market Summary, visit
our site.








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Bug Fix Coming For Collaboration With Outside Professionals In AdvisorVault


A fix is on the way for a bug in AdvisorVault that will enable advisors to share a single file with an allied professional.



AdvisorVault was developed principally to enable financial advisors to securely store files they want to share with clients, but it also enables advisors to collaborate with professionals outside your firm--CPAs, attorneys, geriatric care managers, personal coaches, business consultants and other professionals with which clients work.



You can enable an allied professional to have permission to view and upload a client's entire vault or just a single folder in a client's vault. You can also enable an allied professional to access his or her own vault and only see what you post in that vault. These collaboration features are working fine.



However, we have discovered a bug in the app that is preventing advisors from sharing a single file in a vault. We expect that bug to be fixed in the next upgrade release at the end of July.



We've been releasing upgrades and bug fixes monthly and just last week issued the latest release. That last release cleaned up a problem with moving an advisor's clients.



Now, if an advisor leaves your firm or if you want to switch the advisor for a client, it works smoothly.



We also fixed sporadic problems with creating a folder structure for firms using our online reporting solution for Advent Axys and Schwab PortfolioCenter.



While these are minor bugs, we know they are annoying and we apologize for the inconvenience.

...
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Just Got This Angry Email Message Firing My Company

“Please cancel my subscription immediately,” said the email message. “I am requesting a one-month refund due to the very poor service that I received. In fact, I sent emails and phone messages with no response and a one week delayed response to a phone call message that I sent.”



Advisor Products is not perfect. We can always do better. But this was over the top! What did we do?



Even though it was 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night, I had to get to the bottom of this right away.



I checked our CRM and could find no notes about her calls this past week or anything about her company.



I called her right away and left a voicemail message.



“Whatever we did, I'm sorry,” I said on the voicemail. “I can’t find any record about this project we’re doing for you. So please call me back and let me know what happened.”



She called back thirty-minutes later.



“I’m sorry,” she said, “You don’t host my website. It’s a competitor of yours but I called you back because you sounded upset about my complaint.”



I thanked her for calling back and couldn’t resist:



“You can see the difference between us and our competitors," I said. "On a Friday night at 8 p.m., you have the owner of the company calling you back to respond to you.”



Advisor Products service is good. We're not perfect, but we return your calls promptly--almost always the same day that you call us.



We're the No. 1 choice for financial advisor websites and secure client communications that is integrated with your CRM, portfolio management and financial planning software.










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Content Management System Passwords Expired


To improve security, Advisor Products today killed passwords advisors use to access our content management system.



The next time your firm logs in, you'll be required to create a new password.



The new password requires a combination upper and lower case letters, numbers, and non-alphanumeric characters. Such passwords are harder to remember, but they’re also harder to hack.



This change was not made in response to any incident. It is one of numerous new policies we have implemented company-wide.



When you log in, please read the new password requirements carefully. They’re just a few lines but you need to read them to understand what to do.



Here’s a post I wrote about
creating strong passwords and another post about the password app I use. Chrome users may also want to consider LastPass.



Please call our help desk if you have any problems at (888) 274-5755.



We apologize for any inconvenience.







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Why Do Many Advisors Fear Niches?


Advisors are poor marketers in general, and one of the silliest things they do is fear targeting a niche. What are you thinking?



If I went into the website business in 1996 by making websites for any schnook, I would not have been able to compete with Intuit, Google, WordPress, and other giant technology companies aiming for a mass clientele. By specializing in advisors, I’m able to add content and technology tools that my niche group needs and values. I can provide solutions that the giants cannot afford to create because serving my niche is too much work for them.



To me, the case for specializing is so easy to see, and I just can’t understand why advisors have so much trouble with it. Yet over the years, advisors’ fear of niches has come up again and again.



Once, and I promise this is true, I was working with an advisor on the phone, reviewing marketing copy I had written that would move him into a niche. He yelled at me. “I don’t want to be different! I just want to sound like everyone else!”



Another time, I was on a conference call with a very high-powered firm whose chief investment officer told me in front of the firm’s executive leadership that he didn’t want to describe his process in detail to me. “You know a lot about the investment business and that’s why we hired you!” he barked. ”We do what everyone else does. Just write about that.”



Just this past Friday, at a webinar entitled,
Successful Marketing For Advisors, John Anderson, of SEI this past Friday did an excellent job of telling advisors how to market their practices.



Sure enough, during the Q&A period, an advisor chatted in a question raising her fear that marketing to a small niche like divorcees might scare away other potential prospects. Such fear is totally misplaced.



Having marketing copy on your website that emphasizes your niche will gain you clients in the long run, assuming you are good at working with that niche. Here are some reasons why.



Commoditization Of Investment Advice. The Web is relentlessly commoditizing investment advice. Online brokers are better at serving the mass affluent. Segmenting the investor market to differentiate your services can be a source of competitive advantage. Specialized advice will command a premium price and make your clients more loyal.



The Web Favors Niche Marketers. If the keywords used in marketing copy on your website are terms like “financial planning” or fee-only financial advisors,” you stand little chance of gaining high rankings in search engines. However, if your marketing copy contains keywords like “financial advisors serving Indian hotel owners” or “estate planning for shopping center developers,” you have a far better chance of gaining favorable natural search results. If you want to learn more about this topic, see this recent
webinar on Search Engine Optimization conducted by Advisor Products.



Professional Satisfaction. Serving a niche enables you to help people in more meaningful ways. If you are an expert in understanding the wealth management needs of layers, doctors, owners of bakeries, car dealers or other small business, or some other market segment, you will find yourself going far deeper into their financial lives and advising them on business issues as well as personal finance. Your advice becomes more meaningful because it is so targeted. The professional satisfaction you’ll gain can make your job more satisfying.



If you need some help thinking about a niche, start by considering whether the answer is obvious.



Three weeks ago, I was speaking with an advisor I’ve known for many years. When I asked him to tell me about his firm, he never mentioned that he had a niche. In an elevator speech that sounded a lot like many other wealth management firms, he told me he uses DFA Funds and provides financial planning.



He is from India, and I felt I was treading on delicate ground, but I asked him if he targeted Indian immigrants. That’s when he told me that 60% of his clients are doctors of Indian descent.



This advisor is not marketing to Indian doctors currently and did not realize that he can probably get a lot more Indian doctors as clients by sharing the specialized knowledge he has gained by working with this niche.



Many Indian doctors are first-generation Americans or emigrated here from India. They have common experiences and financial issues. For instance, they almost all had little money during their residency and are tempted to spend crazily when they start making money. Many of them have parents and siblings still living in India that they need to assist financially. Many accumulate great wealth and fear raising spoiled kids. The expertise of this advisor in dealing with financial issues of Indian doctors is valuable.



To me, creating marketing materials for this niche is a no brainer. Yet this advisor and others like, I suspect, don’t realize they already have a niche and can capitalize on it with just a bit of strategic marketing and planning.



To figure out your possible niches, download the market segmentation worksheet we have made available on A4A. In segmenting your clients, you may find some obvious commonalities among them. Are a few of your clients:



  • working for the same local company?

  • working in the same industry?

  • of the same ethnic group?

  • in the same profession?

  • in the same socio-economic group?






In a story that will be published in the upcoming issue of Financial Advisor, I interviewed several firms that only serve doctors or that specialize in doctors. I realize that pointing to a few firms won’t convince you. But it is such a clear example of how niche marketing works. When it’s released on the Web around June 1, please take a look at that story.



Though I hope I am helping you, maybe I am missing something. Maybe there’s a good reason why advisors avoid niches. If so, please let me know by posting a comment.



And if you have had success in working on a niche market, please also post a comment and share your ideas.










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Our Commitment To Do What's Best For You


Some advisory firms feel they must work face-to-face with a local designer to build their website instead of working over the phone with an Advisor Products project manager. They feel that their branding is too important to be managed by Advisor Products.



I don't agree. Our designers do a great job. But who am I to argue?



So we price our services so you can use a local graphic designer and still use Advisor Products for hosting. Hosting is where we add the most value.



When we host your site, you get our content management system, BackOffice. That’s built specifically for advisory firms and has oodles of features just for advisors. Compliance review workflow, website archiving, pre-formatted pages created specifically for advisors that you can easily add to your site, a secure client vault system, and integration with 16 apps used in advisor practices that convert data in your internal systems into client communications. Plus, we provide 10 or 15 wealth management articles monthly to aupdate your site and now we’ve started offering videos on personal finance topics.



Candidly, many advisors don’t value publishing wealth management content on their website. But your clients are getting bombarded with financial information from so many sources. Why forfeit the opportunity to be their trusted source of financial ideas?



Providing clients with authoritative educational information on a broad range of personal finance topics—even if you don’t agree with every word in every article we write—promotes meaningful conversation with clients. Moreover, with technology enabling you to select every article and video that appears on your website or e-newsletter, you control the content that your firm distributes. You can even customize the content for each individual cleint's personal interests!

...
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Mysteries Of Search Engine Optimization Revealed

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a mysterious thing. There’s technical mumbo to know and it seems really powerful.



So I was really proud earlier this week when our Operations Director, Jim Voss, in a 45-minute presentation, made SEO pretty simple for advisors to understand and execute.



The point of the webinar was to show you how you can use the Advisor Products content management system, BackOffice, to help optimize your website for search engines. But the webinar contains so much information about SEO basics that the self-promotional part of the session is only incidental.



What makes me so happy is that this webinar demonstrates that Advisor Products is really trying to do the right thing. We’re not trying to hide behind technical complexity and charge you for SEO. We’re creating realistic expectations about SEO, educating you about it, and giving you the tools to do it yourself. (Of course, you can hire us to help you if you need it.)



Attendees on average rated this webinar with four out of five stars. Among the many favorable comments we received from attendees was this:



“Need to see it twice a year, every year. Best damn webinar you've ever done. We advisors forget this stuff. We don't work on our sites but once a year or so. Keep doing this one, we need it more than we can tell you.”



Check out the webinar.




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