Advisors Feeling The Power Of The Internet


JasonV510 says Act! is “flexible for client tracking and management but not great for the true financial professional.”



TaylorF519 says MoneyGuide Pro “really takes its job seriously and wants to put the best and most innovative product out there!”



Of PortfolioCenter, TerryH770 says: “I was originally skeptical of Schwab owning the software, but to this point it has only been beneficial.



These comments aren’t quotes from a reporter’s interviews.



They’re comments from real advisors talking about software applications for advisors.



They’re not made up. They’re not filtered. And they’re as close you come to truth about an advisor’s practice management applications as you can get.



As a reporter who had to become an entrepreneur to do my job the way I wanted to, I’m excited to be living in the middle of the information revolution.



Most reporters aren’t so happy, however. With regular people reporting the news instead of professional reporters, man daily bites dogs and regular people cover it without journalists.



Sure journalists are still going to be needed to give us insight into big news stories. But much of the content once created by newspapers and magazines can be replaced and made better by empowering people to report the news.



JasonV510, TaylorF519, and TerryJ770 are more important than anything I can say as a reporter.



Sure, I’m pretty smart, and I write well. But what you say matters more, and the collective intelligence of a group of users of an advisor practice management application is more important than my assessment.



That’s what’s happening now at advisors4advisors.com. Advisors are logging in every day and rating the applications they use in their practices. That's why we called it advisors4advisors.



Members of advisors4advisors see the average rating of an advisor app from a group of advisors who use that app and they can also see each individual rating by an advisor for financial planning, customer relationship management (CRM) and portfolio management software (PMS) applications.



We cover just about every PMS, CRM and planning application, and we’re adding new categories of apps every week. Last week, we added rebalancing software and this week we’re adding account aggregation systems.



We also have asked all of the major providers of practice management apps to fill in detailed specifications checklists about their products in the advisors4advisors review section.



This allows advisors to compare different practice management apps feature-by-feature, side-by-side.



The independent advisory industry’s vendors have filled in their specifications on advisors4advisors so far, including EISI, E-Z Data, MoneyGuide Pro, Schwab Performance Technologies, SunGard, Morningstar, Orion and Redtail.



Just about every major vendor in the industry is participating or planning to do so in the next few weeks.



Please contribute to the discussion. Join us at
advisors4advsors.com. Come feel the power of the Internet.











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See Three CRM Workflow Engines Today At 4 ET


At this afternoon’s webinar at 4 p.m. ET, Blane Warrene, an operations consultant, is going to talk about how advisory firms can embed their processes in their CRM.



This is the single most important way to improve your efficiency, scalability, and client service.



To help Blane illustrate how you do this, I asked three of the leading CRM vendors specializing in the independent advisor market (Junxure, Redtail, and XLR8) to provide two-minute videos showing how you use theirn software to embed your workflows.



We’re going to show each of the two-minute videos at Blane’s presentation today and post them for members of advisors4advisors.



Register for today’s webinar here.


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Advisors Sound Off On Financial Advisor Webinar Series


It's been just over a year since we started the Financial Advisor Webinar Series in the throes of the global financial crisis, and I have to say it's been one of the most fulfilling experiences in my career.



The Series started out as a way to support advisors at a time when it looked like the global economic system was about to collapse, and it was originally known as The Financial Crisis Webinar Series. Over the past year, as we backed away from the edge of the abyss, we've continued the webinars every Friday at 4 p.m.



We've been privileged to produce sessions that inform advisors about how to run their businesses better and cope with the upheaval of recent months. And advisors have responded.



About 200 advisors attend the live sessions and another 300 listen to replays every week. And more advisors steadily continue to participate.



Last week's session featured compliance specialist Chris Winn, of AdvisorAssist, offering tips on 2010 compliance planning for RIAs. He was great. (See comments from attendees below.)



We ask advisors to fill in a survey after each webinar. The average rating of attendees at this session was 4.4, putting it among the highest rated of the 49 sessions we've produced.



What amazes me is that from last February, when we started systematically tabulating the ratings of each session, through the end of August, only two sessions had better than a 4.4 average rating. However, five of the last eight sessions has a rating of 4.4 or better. (And we're getting these high scores despite my clumsy skills as a moderator!) Your feedback is genuinely appreciated.



Please remember that many of the sessions are eligible for continuing education credit from the CFP Board of Standards. Also, keep in mind that you can receive free CE credit by attending any of the live sessions, and you can get CE credit on replays of many sessions by becoming a member of our new advisor practice management portal, Advisors4Advisors.com.



Below is feedback from attendees of last Friday's session about RIA compliance. Please join us at an upcoming session or log in to A4A to discuss any webinar with other advisors.



Comments and feedback from advisors who attended 2010 RIA Compliance Planning with Chris Winn of AdvisorAssist:




  • Thank you - just keep doing it.

  • Very informative. My first look at Advisors for Advisors.

  • Excellent

  • Great timing for a compliance webinar. Thank you for the presentation.

  • Good topic coverage

  • It is refreshing to have someone who can speak compliance language in easily understandable terms. Chris obviously knows his stuff.

  • Great session. One of your best yet.

  • Terrific content! Wish we had time for more questions.

  • Very informative, good supporting visuals, well presented.

  • Really great info...too much for one hour!

  • Great webinar. The best one that I've seen from Advisor Products

  • This one was fantastic

  • No complaints

  • Excellent, Chris made the subject matter very understandable. Thank you

  • Very informative

  • Great webinar! Gets you started thinking about the different issues to address.

  • This was truly a great webinar and I thank you so much for providing this to us. Great job!

  • Excellent presentation. Very helpful.

  • Excellent content

  • Considering the amount of potential info and the time available it was very well done.

  • I thought it was great, would love to get copies of the slides.

  • Well done and useful

  • Fantastic + extremely useful - one of the BEST you have ever hosted. full of very useful + actionable items.

  • Great Webinar. Can't think of anything you could have done to improve it.

  • Excellent - very good topic choice - obviously, a topic like this will have many basic components to it as well as some issue some just venturing into the fray may think are overwhelming, but the presenter did a nice job of balancing so there was something for everybody (more than likely) to take away

  • It was helpful. thank you.

  • Outstanding informative and very comforting.

  • I learned a few new things such as the potential for the SEC to raise the minimum assets under management to $100,000,000 to be registered with them

  • Important issues most advisors don't work with on a daily basis

  • Nice outline of issues.

  • Covered a lot of material I already knew but was good to be reminded anyway.

  • Good overview for office manager, though went fast and I'll need to review the replay

  • Good coverage of some of the basics of compliance. The idea of a Compliance Calendar is useful.

  • Good information. Condense and do more frequently.

  • I thought it was very well done. Chris is knowledgeable and shared that information well. I appreciated his willingness to spend extra time answering questions afterward.

  • It is a dry subject, but overall it was packed with important info.





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Advisor Products Responds To The Need For Speed

If we host your firm’s website and use our BackOffice content management system, you may have noticed a boost in speed.



That’s because we replaced the main server that powers Advisor Products’ websites and BackOffice last week.



Your website is loading faster for prospects and clients now.



In our drive for constant improvement, we’ve instituted a policy to replace aging web servers before they reach the end of their useful lives.



This means that if, Advisor Products hosts your website, the server housing your website gets replaced on a regular basis.



Your site, thus, is always running on the latest hardware and software.




We’ll keep you posted as we continue to upgrade hardware for other systems.
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2010 RIA Compliance Calendar At Advisors4Advisors.com

The 2010 RIA Compliance Calendar was posted for free distribution to members of Advisors4Advisors.com, a practice management portal site for independent financial advisors.



Advisors interested in getting a copy of the 2010 RIA Compliance Calendar can email me for a free six-month membership in advisors4advisors. It will take 10 minutes to register and fill in your profile and then you can download the 2010 RIA Compliance Calendar.



The RIA Compliance Calendar was created by Chris Winn of AdvisorAssist, a compliance consulting firm serving RIAs and B-Ds. It lists 27 key compliance activities for RIAs month-by-month, helping organize RIA compliance responsibilities on a timely basis.



Winn delivered a presentation entitled, “2010 Compliance Planning For RIAs” last Friday at the Financial Advisor Webinar Series. You can replay the session at advisorproducts.com. (Members of AdvisorsforAdvisors.com are eligible for free CFP CE credit on the replay.)



At the session, Winn answered about 15 questions from attendees. But we ran out of time and could not answer many questions chatted in by attendees. Winn, who writes a blog about RIA, B-D, and Registered Rep compliance issues at Advisors4Advisors.com, will be answering many questions that we did not have time to answer at the webinar.



Please join us at advisors4advisors.com to access Winn’s blog, obtain CE credit for the webinar, and download the 2010 RIA Compliance Calendar.




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Business Development Conference Next Week


Advisors seeking to capitalize on post-financial crisis business development opportunities may want to attend a three-day conference produced by Advisor Solutions Network starting Thursday, November 5 and running through Sunday, November 8.



I'm one of the speakers along with PR guru Marie Swift, business devleopment coach Steve Saenz, and many others. You can listen to brief interviews of each of the speakers.

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Account Aggregation For Advisors

An Advisor Products client emailed us yesterday asking about our account aggregation capabilities. Specifically, the question was about CashEdge.



Since we receive a lot of questions from advisors who would like to provide aggregated account information to their clients, I am going to answer some questions here.



The aggregation interface offered by Advisor Products comes with our Client Portal system.



Feeds from two account aggregation companies currently are integrated into Client Portal: ByAllAccounts and Advisor Exchange. CashEdge is not currently integrated with Client Portal.



ByAllAccounts is a Woburn, Mass. company founded by James Carney along with Martin and Ellen Dickau in 1999. Carney is the President and CEO. An entrepreneur who had succeeded in two previous tech start-ups—a systems integration firm sold for $50 million in 1992 and an engineering technology software company that went public in 1996—Carney was not involved day-to-day in the early years of BAA. The company, along with just about all of the aggregation vendors, foundered for a few years after the tech bubble burst in 2002.



About six years ago, Carney became more involved in day-to-day operations at BAA and it was purchased by State Street Bank in August 2004 at a time when State Street was considering opportunities in the wealth management business. But BAA was not a good fit for State Street after it backed away from the wealth management backoffice support business and in 2008 Carney and his partners bought back BAA.



Since then, BAA has grown by focusing on feeding reconciliation-ready data from held-away accounts into portfolio management software (PMS) systems, including Schwab PortfolioCenter and Advent Axys. By focusing on aggregating data clean enough for a PMS system, BAA has gained traction with about 475 advisory firms and is currently bringing in about 15 new advisory firms monthly.



Advisor Exchange of Glenview, Ill. was founded in 2006 by D. Keith Ross, a successful options trader. Ross
began his career as an options analyst in 1976 after graduating from Princeton University. In 1979, he became a member of the American Stock Exchange and a registered options trader on the floor of the exchange. In 1983, Ross formed Ceres Partners, specializing in risk arbitrage and options market making. In 1988, he became a member of the CBOE and was a market maker until 1999.



With a background in electronic trading, Ross was drawn to the account aggregation business by its potential for growth. Ross struck a deal to license aggregation interfaces from Cash Edge, an account aggregation vendor, and has been building a platform for advisors leveraging CashEdge interfaces with about 7,000 banks, brokerages, credit card companies, qualified plans, and other sources.



Ventures like Advisor Exchange always take longer than expected, however. Advisor Exchange has been building its advisor platform for the last three years and is expected to release a new version over the next three months. About 125 firms now use AE’s aggregation system.



CashEdge, meanwhile, is showing renewed interest in the advisor market. In 2006, when it licensed its feeds to Advisor Exchange, CashEdge displayed little interest in the independent advisor market. CashEdge had been almost singularly focused on a successful system it built for cash management at banks. However, about 18 months ago, CashEdge hired Tom Roberts as a senior VP of its wealth management business and Roberts has expressed renewed interest in developing better systems for advisors.



The Client Portal system enables a revolutionary new way to manage clients: straight-through processing of client-associated tasks from your CRM, financial planning, and portfolio management software to your clients’ portals.




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Email Templates For AdvisorVault Released


Advisor Products today released Email Templates For AdvisorVault, enabling automatic email notifications to clients when portfolio reports and other documents are posted.



You can customize and save these template emails in AdvisorVault, and they'll be branded with your firm logo and each client's name merged into the salutation. This enterprise-wide console for communicating to clients en masse streamlines required recordkeeping for financial advisors.



With advisory firms battered by the global financial crisis, increasing efficiency is a central focus and Email Templates For AdvisorVault saves time and money.



With Email Templates for AdvisorVault, an advisory firm sets up a mass email to its clients one time and then uses it over and over again. This streamlines notifications when posting a batch of documents or reports. For example, if an advisory firm uploads all of its clients’ reports from Schwab PortfolioCenter or Advent Axys to AdvisorVault, a template email can be sent in seconds to all clients at once. The same branded email also can be sent when a single client’s report is posted.



AdvisorVault is integrated with Advent Axys and Schwab PortfolioCenter, the two most popular portfolio management software applications used by independent advisory firms. When an advisory firm using Advent Axys or Schwab PortfolioCenter batch prints all of its clients’ reports to Adobe PDFs, the resulting file can be uploaded using AdvisorVault’s 256-bit high encryption. Based on an identification code unique to each client, each report automatically posts to each client’s vault. In addition to PortfolioCenter and Axys, many other applications used by advisors can leverage AdvisorVault’s batch-document capability.



Advisory firms can also batch upload a custom report in Axys or PortfolioCenter and AdvisorVault converts that data into HTML reports that contain links and are more dynamic than PDF reports. Email templates can also be set up to notify clients en masse whenever these reports are uploaded.



In addition saving the template text and firm logo, an advisory firm can set up a disclosure that will automatically be inserted into the bottom of every template email as well as an introduction. An advisory firm can define the “reply to” and “from” addresses that are displayed in each template email. In addition, all template emails can be previewed before they are sent and all mass template emails must be confirmed and approved before they are sent.



Email Templates For AdvisorVault includes text for common client communications associated with AdvisorVault, such as resetting a client’s password, enabling a vault for a new client, and provisioning an outside professional, such as an accountant or attorney, to access specified folders of a client’s vault. The dashboard for Email Templates For AdvisorVault allows an advisory firm to associate specific workflows or tasks with a specified email template. Features in Email Templates For AdvisorVault are explained in a 2½-minute help video.



AdvisorVault can be added to any advisory firm’s website for $1,000 a year. It is also bundled with a marketing website that includes a database of wealth management news articles, 10 email accounts, eight hours of support, and a website content management system for $2,100 a year. Online Portfolio Reporting for Axys or PortfolioCenter is an additional $1,500 annually.

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Visit Us At Schwab IMPACT


Please stop by the Advisor Products booth (No. 145) at the Schwab IMPACT® Conference next week to say hello.



We'll be talking about advisor marketing and practice management and showing demos of new features in AdvisorVault, Online Reporting For PortfolioCenter® and Axys®, and our Video Library System.

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Schwab PorfolioCenter On A4A


Schwab PortfollioCenter, a leading portfolio accounting and reporting application used by about 3,500 independent advisory firms, has posted its specifications to the Advisor Software Database at advisorsforadvisors (A4A).



A4A is a new practice management portal for independent advisors. A4A features an Advisor Software Database that allows advisors to compare the most popular professional software applications side-by-side and feature-by-feature. Just about all of the major software vendors in the industry are now participating in the Advisor Software Database by posting detailed specifications of their products. Advisors can write reviews and rate all of the software packages.



I’ve wanted to create the Advisor Software Database for about 10 years. It’s a totally unique tool that is not available anywhere else. It summarizes in minutes everything you need to know about different practice management applications. Basically, If you like my magazine column or this blog, you’ll find A4A helpful.



PortfolioCenter, a desktop application, owns a major share of the portfolio management software market among advisors serving high-net-worth individuals. According to the specifications Schwab filled in the Advisor Software Database, PortfolioCenter has 70 reports, including 10 graphical reports. You can run a report showing a client’s current asset allocation versus the target allocation, and you can report on Treasurys, corporates, zeroes, and mortgage-backs but not TIPS.



Schwab executives are going to be showing enhanced client reporting tools at the upcoming Schwab conference. We’ll keep you updated on details.



If you click on the screen shots in this post you’ll see an enlarged view of the Advisor Software Database showing you a comparison of PortfolioCenter, InterActive Advisory Software, and Portfolio Director. A4A is still in beta and we’re giving advisors a 30-day free trial right now.





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