Add An Event Calendar To Your Website

Advisor Products made it easy today for advisors to add an event calendar to their websites.

If you want to conduct webinars about investing, for instance, you can advertise those events from your website. You can also list offline events, such as client appreciation dinners, picnics, and other events you want clients and prospects to attend.

The video below shows you how to create an event calendar page from the AdvisorSites BackOffice and how to add an event.

Advisors can couple the event calendar page with a GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar license to leverage the event calendar. You can use GoToWebinar or Advisor Products Email Newsletter feature to email invitations.

If you create a webinar in GoToWebinar, you insert the registration link on your event page. Anyone visiting your site can thus sign up for your webinar.

After you conduct a webinar, you can edit its description and link to a replay of the webinar. Adding a list of all your educational and marketing webinars to your event calendar is a powerful marketing and client communications tool.

The event calendar also makes it easy to charge for events and accept payments by credit card through PayPal. To charge a fee for a webinar, you’ll need a PayPal account. PayPal gives you a link and button that you can add when setting it up an event in your event calendar.

The event calendar page alone won’t bring people to your webinars. You need to advertise the event and send emails to get people to sign up. But the event calendar page is a great way to show prospects about activities at your firm. If you host an online monthly webinar or an offline monthly client seminar, listing the events in the event calendar shows prospects that your firm is involved with clients and making an effort to educate and keep in touch with them.

The event calendar is one of many different types of pages you can add to your website yourself from the AdvisorSites BackOffice. You can also call our help desk at (888) 274-5755 for assistance. There is no charge for adding the event calendar page to your website.

Please let us know what you think of the event calendar. Will it be something you add to your website? How can we improve it?

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Advisors Putting Client Data At Risk

To save money, some advisors are putting client data in jeopardy, and the trade press isn’t helping matters.

I’m talking about two incidents in the past few weeks, one involving Google Docs and the other involving a CRM called Zoho.

I was hosting a
webinar on February 12 about CRM systems for advisors when the Google Docs platform came up during the Q&A period, and I mentioned that Google Docs was not secure. An advisor chatted telling me it indeed was secure.

Without verifying it myself, I hesitated telling attendees at the webinar that Google Docs was secure. But I felt obliged to report what he said. So I told attendees an advisor had chatted in to say Google Docs was indeed secure.

After the webinar, I emailed the advisor and asked if he had any substantiation that Google Docs was secure, and I also did some research. Within minutes, I found a Google forum
post that said documents to Google Docs could not be protected with their own password. I sent another email to the advisor with that link. He never responded.

To get the facts, I asked two seasoned engineers from Advisor Products to check into Google Apps’ security.

Google Apps offers a Standard and Premier Edition. Their findings, which pertain to the Premier Edition targeted to businesses, show that it would be reckless for an advisor to store client data on Google Docs.

It may be okay for an advisor to use Google’s calendar and other features. But if you want secure document storage and sharing, be aware of the following limitations:

  • You can’t force users to create “strong passwords.” Google has a tool that rates the strength of a password when you create it. The tool’s requirements are not up to professional standards. A strong password requires using non-alphanumeric characters (i.e., !, @, #,$, etc.). It is also at least eight characters and preferably 12. By default, Google Docs requires only six-character passwords, and it allows you to create a password as short as four characters. As long as your password contains a combination of four letters and numbers, Google’s password-strength rating tool will tell you your password is “strong.”

  • Google does not automatically force expiration of passwords. Some broker/dealers now require that vendors automatically kill passwords after three months and require users to create new passwords.

  • The way Google Docs passes access to documents via email is inherently flawed. If you use Google Docs to share a document with a client or another professional, Google enables you to send the link by email. Email is not secure. Moreover, anyone who receives the email with the link can open the document—without a password.

  • Documents on Google’s servers are not stored encrypted. They’re encrypted when you upload them and when you download, but not stored encrypted. This could be an issue if a Google’s server storing your document is breached.

  • Google Docs doesn’t accommodate the hierarchy of users with different permissions that advisors need. Document-sharing vendors in the financial services business enable different roles and rights for their staff, advisors, advisory firm staff, a B/D’s compliance department, outside professionals and advisor works with, and clients of advisors. Google Apps has just two levels of authorization.

  • Google Docs does not have bulk upload capabilities, enabling you to upload performance reports, financial plans, rebalancing reports, and other documents in batches.

  • Google Docs and Apps do not integrate with financial planning, portfolio management or other practice management apps used by advisors.

Google is a remarkable company and it could address these issues. But with its vast audience and potential, it has priorities other than serving the tiny independent financial advisor market.

Google Apps Marketplace enables third-party vendors to leverage web interfaces. Third-party apps are likely to address some of the security issues posed by Google Apps and provide features and integration needed by advisors. But it will take months—probably years—for an advisor to pull together an integrated suite of professional apps that leverages Google Apps. But it will require stitching together specialized components from different vendors in the App Store, which would complicate matters for advisors significantly. Anyone who tells you advisors can use Google Docs today is reckless.

Which brings me to Zoho CRM, the subject of a rave review in one of the trade magazines for independent advisors.

Zoho is a web-based CRM that is integrated with Outlook, Facebook, and several other popular consumer applications. In addition to CRM, Zoho also offers an extensive suite of web-based software for word processing, spreadsheets, invoicing, online meetings, calendaring, sharing documents and more.

“Combining Zoho CRM with Zoho email and Zoho Docs gives you robust CRM, integrated email that includes email storage, plus an integrated online entry-level document management solution at an unbeatable price,” the article says.

“Perhaps the greatest differentiator for many potential purchasers is security,” says the article. “Overall, the security capabilities of the application are impressive.”

Zoho is indeed an impressive application but documents are not stored in encrypted format. Zoho’s website says passwords are encrypted but says nothing about whether documents you save on its servers are stored encrypted.

Since the security information on Zoho’s site was vague, I called Zoho to ask about its encryption.

I could not understand everything the salesman said because of his thick Indian accent (despite the fact that I've grown pretty good at understanding Indian accents because my company outsources many development projects to India). Initially, the Zoho salesman told me all documents were indeed encrypted. But when I questioned him further, he suggested a security specialist call me back.

The security specialist called back the next day. While he was polite, I had difficulty understanding everything he, too, said because of his accent. He confirmed that documents stored on Zoho Docs are not encrypted.

An April 2007 post on a Zoho forum said the company “may consider encrypting the entire Zoho server.” Apparently, Zoho has not gotten to that yet.

Encrypting passwords is important but inadequate for most advisors who took the time to learn about security. Not encrypting the documents means a hacker who breaches Zoho’s servers would be unable to read the users’ passwords, but he could read the documents stored on its servers. It’s an obvious risk. In addition, some Zoho employees have access to the files stored on Zoho Docs and could read them. That would not meet the standard advisors should insist upon, standards that are now required in some states and that are likely to become federal law in the months ahead. Zoho Docs security may be fine for most businesses but not for financial advisors who are responsible for protecting client data.

Moreover, financial institutions are putting advisor vendors through security audits and requiring that they have documented security policies and procedures in place. One large B/D, for instance, requires documentation on 20 policies, and each policy is a multi-page document covering how a vendor handles passwords, back-ups, security incidents, and business continuity. Another requirement: All new hires at tech vendors must be given a criminal background check. Some B/Ds also now require vendor systems to detect and stop intrusions.

(Interestingly, RIAs shrewd enough to use the web-based apps approved by large BDs get all of these security benefits for free, while reps are paying for them.)

Like Google Apps, Zoho Docs doesn’t allow advisors the role-management and user hierarchy features that advisors need. Nor is it integrated with advisor systems. It would take months for Zoho to address these and other shortcomings, assuming Zoho wants to specialize in the independent advisor market.

To be sure, Zoho and Google Docs cost less than applications that are created for advisors. That’s because Google and Zoho are not specializing in advisors. If they did, you’d pay more for all the features. Advisors who move to these apps as they are constitute]d now are risking a lot more than they realize and are paying for it in the long run by not getting the right features to handle their needs.

In running a technology company that has served independent advisors since 1996 and that provides a secure document sharing between advisors and their clients, I’ve been humbled in trying to meet the demands of the profession. (Writing about technology for advisors is easy; making technology for advisors is difficult.)

While you may want to believe that some inexpensive application is going to be a panacea, use your common sense.

Be as skeptical as you are when you read an article in a consumer personal finance magazine about an investment that promises returns of 10% annually through good and bad times.

If an app for advisors sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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401(k) Webinar Hits The Mark With Advisors

Last Friday’s webinar with Charles Epstein, the 401(k) Coach, was a big hit, as you can see from the comments from attendees shown below.

Epstein is a financial advisor who achieved success in the 401(k) business, so much success that he started a coaching program that has trained about 1,200 advisors. He’s also one of our featured bloggers on

Epstein is a pragmatist and offered real world wisdom that advisors appreciated. GoToWebinar, the tool we use for running these sessions, indicated that every single one of the attendees was “highly interested” in Epstein’s presentation. I can’t recall any other speaker who was able to hold the interst of the audience as well as Epstein.

Epstein’s session is available for replay at
Advisor Products and on Advisors4Advisors.

Epstein provided a handout that can be used by fiduciaries to conduct an meeting with a plan sponsor that is a prospect, and it can be downloaded by members of A4A in the Advisor Rewards section of your profile.

The Financial Advisor Webinar Series Friday, February 5 at 4 p.m. EST

Epstein will be doing another webinar in April or May.
What did you think of the webinar? How can we improve it?

  • Very good overview of the 401k market for advisors. I like it when speaker provides resources like he did. Would like to see more on how to market services to companies.

  • More events with Mr. Epstein

  • Outstanding. Short and to the point. Thank you for taking the questions.

  • I thought it to be great information

  • It was good. I am interested in hearing from someone experienced in fiduciary plans the top shelf plans where advisors take on ERISA 3-38.

  • Interesting topic and completely new to me

  • A transcript, available upon request by an attendee, would help a great deal.

  • Good

  • Excellent webinar.

  • Very good session...only complaint is he went a little fast, but the slides and a replay is available so it is no big deal. Thanks very much.

  • It was excellent, and I especially appreciated your allowing download of slides. I wish I had known throughout the presentation however, because I was feverishly writing down each slide!

  • I really like your webinars. If I could change anything, it would be to keep them to an hour. I don't know how you do this because I don't think there is a lot of wasted time, but I personally struggle with the dual desires of wanting to continue learning and also moving on to the next, scheduled thing. This is fairly minor but I would prefer they be a little shorter.

  • Make a CD of the audio

  • Great Information.

  • I think it was very good. Thanks for coordinating and brininging important topics to us RIA's.

  • Excellent topic. Presenter moved a little fast and glossed over a few complex topics.

  • Sensational amount of information packed into an hour. Great job with the questions at the end of the program, Andy. They were delivered clearly, and you moved the answers right along without letting the speaker get bogged down.

  • I liked it.

  • Very good webinar. Good topic!

  • I liked it. It was helpful.

  • Very informative. Discussion included many topics I was not aware of especially fiduciary responsibility issues for the advisor to a plan.

  • Very good. Always like more take away, actionable items to implement. Not always just a sales pitch to sign up for a new program.

  • I appreciated the information. I would be interested in hearing the additional portions of the 401k Coach program on A4A.

  • Great timing for me since I am entering this service area.

  • Very informative

  • Good info & resources. Would like to hear Part 2 from Charlie (the remaining 3 steps)

  • This was a great webinar. Moderation intro was a little too long and slow

  • Very good and any process template or handouts would be appreciated

  • Spectacular. Thank you so much.

  • Awesome good information. Sometimes it is helpful to identify those things that "you don't know you don't know" and then provide resources to fill in the gaps.

  • Bring back for steps 4,5,6

  • Charlie is terrific!

  • Terrific very informative insightful and useful

  • Sometimes Charles moved onto a slide before giving the audience time to process what was on the slide. Being able to download the slides before the presentation would have been helpful

  • It moved very fast for me since I'm not active in this part of the business now, but it was a great presentation.

  • There was a lot to cover. Better to sometimes just commit to a 90 minute program. Thanks.

  • I thought it was informative. He had to fly through his slides, so I feel like I need to go back and look at them again.

  • Give and take questions

  • The audio was in and out and when I called the # the password was invalid it said.

  • Great questions Andy

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Advisor Products Has A New Address

Advisor Products has moved. Our new address is:

333 Jericho Turnpike

Suite 333

Jericho, NY 11753

Our phone number remains the same at (516) 333-0066 or (888) 274-5755.

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Performance Reporting For Advisors Going Independent

For advisors going independent, producing monthly or quarterly performance reports is unfamiliar ground.

Without a documenting the process and choosing a technology platform to implement a system, performance reporting can be overwhelming.

Advisors4Advisors, a practice management portal for independent advisors that I started about six month ago, recently produced a webinar to help brokers making the transition to independence and who have never before had to use portfolio-reporting software and manage the delivery of performance reports to clients.

Two seasoned executives from Orion Advisor Services were our guest presenters for the session. Orion is a portfolio reporting services that is used by about 200 independent advisory firms. The firm got its start in 1999. Originally the system was built by CLS Investments, which manages about $3 billion in assets, to produce client performance reports and then it was offered as a product that could be used by other RIAs.

Bill Wostoupal, the head of business development, and Randy Lambert, who runs operations at Orion, did a great job of explaining the performance reporting process RIAs must go through without making it sound like a commercial for Orion.

They also came up with a template process and worksheet that new RIAs can use to develop reporting procedures internally. The template process and worksheet is useful to RIAs no matter what portfolio reporting system you use.

The process Orion provides is a template that you can adapt to your needs, and the worksheet makes it easy for you to document the process and embed it in your CRM system. If you embed your firm’s performance reporting process in your CRM system and assign staff to each step in the workflow, then your firm will be more efficient. Staff will be held accountable and reporting tasks will not be dropped or handled improperly.

Members of Advisors4Advisors can down download the Performance Reporting Workflow Worksheet for free.

You can view a replay of the session here.

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Keebler Kills At Roth Conversion Webinar And Proves Some Advisors Are Nuts

Bob Keebler killed at yesterday’s session of the Financial Advisor Webinar Series. Attendees who filled in our post-webinar survey with ratings and comments on the session raved.

Keebler over the past decade has established himself as the premier educator of financial professionals on IRAs.

While he lacks the showmanship of other IRA experts, Keebler is great at making IRA esoterica understandable. He does not try to make things simple but clearly explains the arcane.

Keebler received the highest rating of any speaker since we started the weekly webinar series in October 2008. With five being the best score, attendees gave the webinar overall a 4.7 rating, and that was dragged down ratings on my performance as moderator. Keebler’s rating, without mine factored in, was an astounding 4.8!

In fairness to all of the other presenters that have come before Keebler, advisors are incredibly critical. No matter what we do on these sessions, some attendees complain.

If we go beyond one hour to take questions, some attendees ream me out in the surveys for letting the sessions go long. If we don’t take many questions because we want to end on time, I get an earful from some attendees about that.

Even Keebler, who was obviously great, got some flak for speaking too fast, and several attendees several attendees actually gave him a rating of 1.

What this demonstrates is that some advisors are really nuts. They complain no matter what you do for them.

On the other hand, more than half of the advisors on the session took the time to fill our post-webinar survey and the vast majority gave us great ratings. And the fact that a small handful of advisors found something to give us poor ratings is not all bad. At least they care enough about what we’re doing to express an opinion.

If you’re a member of
Advisors4Advisors, you can get CFP Continuing Education by viewing a replay of the session. If you’re not a member, you can view it (with no CE credit) at the Advisor Products webinar page.

I’d ask one favor of you: We have plans to automate the attendee ratings from the post-webinar survey to feed the ratings module in A4A, but we’ve not gotten to it yet. If you’re one of the 1,500 members of the A4A community, please take a minute to go to the Events page on A4A and rate the Keebler webinar and any other sessions you’ve attended.

Below are comments attendees gave us on Keebler’s session, in answering the question, “What could we do to improve the webinar?

  • Good topic and good presentation - thanks!

  • Excellent

  • Excellent! Great info!

  • Excellent

  • The content was excellent, but you should have allowed more time & had Bob speak in more depth about various of the issues

  • Don't change a thing.

  • Very informative

  • Excellent. All excellent material that I can use to communicate with clients

  • Thank you

  • This particular webinar was very helpful. However, in other webinars (last week's) this survey form did not populate at the close. Therefore, in order to receive CE credit, I must call in or email advisors4advisors the following week. This has been frustrating since it has happened multiple times. Improvements here would be much appreciated!

  • Great seminar. The best one I have heard on this topic by far.

  • How to market this concept?

  • Very useful. This will be a bigger topic than many advisors realize this year.

  • Liked it, very helpful

  • I think it is really excellent. Perhaps being ab;e to access the slides as soon as the webinar begins would be great it was hard to keep up at times

  • I thought the webinar was great and there's nothing that comes to mind to improve it.

  • Great webinar, extremely useful, looking forward to receiving the two-pager.

  • Excellent!

  • I thought it was very good and put together well. My only issue is that it went by so fast. I will probably have to listen to it again once you get it online.

  • Great information!

  • Awesome. This helped me raise the bar on evaluating CPA quality!

  • Very in-depth discussion. I think the opportunity to print out the front/back handout in advance of the webinar might have helped. It would have been good to be able to read.

  • Very good...Bob is a little fast in delivery.

  • Absolutely, wonderfully informative.

  • Splendid. No suggestions.

  • Wow! May be the most relevant subject and best speaker possible. Excellent info. I have attended many of your webinars the past year and found this one and the Don Phillips webinar last Feb to be the best. Thanks for making this available.

  • This was one of if not the best webinar I have attended on advisors for advisors.

  • Bob did a great job of answering specific questions. He went well beyond the basics which have been outlined many times. Nice work!

  • Great job

  • Honestly....a little hard to keep up but I'll download the presentation....thanks.

  • You might consider posting the handout, in addition to the slides, prior to the start of the webinar. Overall, time well-spent! Thank you.

  • Every time I listen to a presentation on ROTH conversions I pick up new information

  • It was great, a real eye opener on Roth conversions.

  • Great speaker

  • This was the best ever. Bob Keebler was the sharpest, most knowledgeable presenter you have ever had. My head is still swimming.

  • Have Bob speak again-Great Webinar!!!

  • Very informative

  • Great presentation and useful material. More info on case studies will be handy as I visit with clients down the road.

  • Good topic. thanks.

  • Great Seminar. Thanks Andy!

  • I'm a CPA/PFS and not a CFP. Can I get CPE credit for these webinars?

  • One of the best yet, but too many questions..

  • Excellent, thank you for allowing it to run over for questons.

  • Awesome!

  • Very knowledgeable speaker

  • Difficult to cover it all on this topic. Nice job though.

  • I have heard several presentations on htis issue and this was the best in terms of being understandable and detailed at the same time.

  • It was a great overview of all concepts regarding the topic.

  • I thought it was great. One of the best sessions on ROTHs and conversions I've listened to. Bob is very knowledgeable and I'm sure I'll go listen to the replay when questions hit me in the middle of the night! Thanks again!

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Schwab Performance Technologies Q&A

At a recent session of the Financial Advisor Webinar Series, Mike Williams of Schwab Performance Technologies (SPT) talked about what developments in PortfolioCenter and PortfolioServices.

While we usually don’t invite vendors to talk about their products at our webinars, we made an exception because Schwab is so influential; SPT is used by 3,300 advisory firms and its parent provides custodial services to 6,000 RIAs.

Despite allotting 25 minutes for questions, attendees at the session had more questions than Williams could answer. So we passed along to Williams the unanswered questions chatted in by attendees. In this post, Williams answers those questions.

Do you use ByAll Accounts to connect to custodians that you do not have direct interfaces with?

Yes. Both our PortfolioCenter and PortfolioServices products can leverage ByAllAccounts to acquire account information from financial institutions with which there is no available direct data feed.

When will the custom report enhancements you talked about at the webinar be available?

The first general release of the new report presentations will be in mid-2010. Subsequent releases will occur later this year and throughout 2011.

For the new graphical reporting: will a PortfolioCenter user need the Enhanced Reporting Module (ERM), and what is the cost of the ERM for a current PC user?

Yes, the new report presentations require a PortfolioCenter Enhanced license. The Enhanced Reporting Module is $1,500 year one and carries an annual maintenance fee of $500. Please contact SPT Sales at (800) 528-9595, option 2 for further information.

To see answers to 12 other questions, please sign into

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FINRA Notice On Social Media Reveals Regulators’ Struggle

Guidelines issued by FINRA yesterday governing how registered reps use social media websites are constructive but highlight the challenge regulators face in structuring advertising rules that keep up with technology.

One can only cheer the suddenly enlightened view of FINRA in releasing the Notice. FINRA has stood silent for several years while social networking exploded. As the FINRA release points out, 46% of American internet users logged on to a social networking site in 2009.

With FINRA issuing no guidance as social media exploded in popularity in recent years, registered reps were absent from the online scene out of fear that they would break undefined rules. So FINRA in to be commended for finally bringing some clarity to this issue.

Where the guidelines go wrong and muddle the rules, however, is in an effort to distinguish “static” and “non-static” content.

To read the rest of my post, please sign up for membership at Advisors4Advisors.

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A Magazine For People Named Fred

When I was in graduate school in 1978, one of the members of Monty Python Flying Circus was a guest lecturer at journalism school. He was there to talk about a parody paper he published called Not The New York Times. It was an exact replica of the real newspaper, but it was all fake news.

That summer, Pope Paul VI died and was succeed by Pope John Paul I, who died 33 days after being elected. This led the faux paper to write a fake news story saying the third Pope that month, "John Paul John Paul," died 18 minutes after he was elected. "Pope Dies Yet Again," read the headline, "Reign is Briefest Ever," said the subtext, which added, "Cardinals Return From Airport."

I am not sure whether the speaker was Graham Chapman or John Cleese. But I do remember clearly that he told us that the fake New York Times was a new business idea called custom publishing. "Someday, there will be a magazine called 'Fred,'" he said, "dedicated solely to people named Fred."

That line about Fred magazine has always stuck in my mind. As ridiculous as it sounded, the idea of personalized publishing tantalized me.

Thirty-two years later, I can tell you that Advisor Products is making that prediction a reality.

Client Portals from Advisor Products lets an advisor create a personal electronic newsletter for each individual client. You can profile each client as retiree, pre-retiree, or business owner, and you can choose from a list of topics that would interest each client from our list of 100 wealth management topics.

Those two settings determine which stories from Advisor Products' proprietary content library of hundreds of articles will appear on the client's personal web page. Those settings also filter the topics of wealth management articles we do not write but that we allow into the client's personal portal.

In addition, you can bring in RSS feeds about entertainment, sports, health, food, and myriad other topics from other websites.

Personalizing financial articles is only one small part of the Client Portal platform. It also integrates with many CRM, financial planning, and performance reporting applications and includes a personal vault for each client. To learn more, call us at 516 333-0066 ext. 223.

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Power Of Social Media Seen In Haiti Earthquake

The tragic events in Haiti are being recorded and reacted to live on Twitter. To see the live feed, click here.

Text YELE to 501501 to give $5 for earthquake relief in haiti. Your cell phone will be charged $5.

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Company Info

333 Jericho Tpke

Suite 119

Jericho, NY 11753

Phone: (888) 274-5755

Direct: (516) 333-0066

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