The launch of advisorsforadvisors this month is moving ahead and our growing list of bloggers began providing important content for advisors. Some of the posts:
Last Friday, at the Financial Advisor Webinar Series, economist-turned-money-manager Rob Stein, predicted a "W-shaped" recession.
Forecasts of a W-shaped recession are drawing attention. See the Carlos Lozada commentary in The Washington Post on April 19, FT Columnist John Authers’ on May 17, or economist Nouriel Roubini on July 16.
Stein, who heads Astor Financial LLC, predicted that technology will be among the sectors that gain disproportionately from the coming economic rebound. Stein’s also bullish on China.
Stein, who began his career at the Federal Reserve in 1983, believes The Great Recession of 2008-2009 has combined two recessions in one: a traditional V-shaped recession and a credit-bubble recession. While the US economy is now slowly coming out of the traditional recession and economic growth starting up, a second downturn is likely to follow in the next couple of years because of continuing losses from the credit crisis.
Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I cover a mix of news for independent advisors—technology, compliance, marketing and a wide range of other topics. I also write about what's new at my company, Advisor Products, which makes websites, newsletters, and brochures for about 1,800 advisory firms.
Apropos of my schizophrenic role as reporter and service provider to advisors, I am splitting this blog in two.
This blog will now only cover what's new at Advisor Products. Articles I write about industry issues will now be posted in my blog at advisorsforadvisors.
advisorsforadvisors is a new practice management website. It's in beta, but you can sign up now for a 30-day free trial. (Advisor Products clients will receive an email next week about how to sign up for a free one-year subscription.)
Two veteran financial journalists have teamed up with me to create advisorsforadvisors. Mary Rowland is a former columnist at The New York Times who now writes a monthly column for Financial Advisor, and Bob Casey started up and ran Bloomberg Wealth Manager and is now a managing director of the Family Wealth Alliance.
advisorsforadvisors has strong social networking and provides crucial information to run an advisory business, including:
· Links to all important market and economic news stories by 8:30 a.m. EDT every business day
· A way to objectively compare advisor software applications feature-by-feature, side-by-side
· Social networking features that connect advisors who practice the same way as each other
· Advisor reviews of software applications
· User groups for software applications
· Daily analysis of industry and financial news by veteran reporters and industry experts
· Free access to weekly webinars with CE credit for many sessions and replays of all webinars 24/7
In a hilarious double-play, comedian Jon Stewart last night hammered Lenny “Nails” Dykstra, a former Mets centerfielder turned financial-advisor-in-bankruptcy, and then tagged TV financial personality Jim Cramer with a jarring comedic blast.
Stewart began a segment on last night’s show by focusing on the irony of the bankruptcy filing by Dykstra, who touted himself in recent years as a successful investment advisor and was profiled in 2008 as a “financial whiz kid” on the HBO program Real Sports. Dykstra, who told a Real Sports reporter that he did not read books because it was bad for his eyes, reportedly was sued by 20 creditors by the time he filed for bankruptcy on July 7.
Stewart revived his public humiliation of Cramer by playing an interview of Cramer on the HBO show in which he hails former Mets hero Dykstra’s as a brilliant financial advisor, “one of the great ones in this business.”
The irony of the baseball legend turned stock-guru’s misfortune provided Stewart with great material. Dykstra, 46, became a New York Mets hero for hitting a walk-off home run in Game 3 of the 1986 World Series, when the Mets defeated the Boston Red Sox in seven games to win one of baseball’s most memorable World Championship Series.
Cramer, the extremely energetic host of CNBC’s “Mad Money” and founder of TheStreet.com, is a former hedge fund manager. Prone to hyperbolic rants, Cramer was the subject on March 4 and March 9 of scathingly funny blasts by Stewart. Stewart, the popular host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” assembled a string of video clips in which the self-proclaimed “infotainer” of finance made glaringly wrong investment predictions. Stewart wrecked any credibility Cramer might have had in the financial media by showing Cramer urging stock investors to “be buying things and accept that they’re overvalued, but accept that they’re going to keep going higher” a few months before the global financial crisis caused a stock market collapse. Stewart and Cramer’s public showdown became famous and then faded—until last night.
This important new feature in the Advisor Products Client Portal is integrated with Redtail Technology’s CRM. So when you input an Activity in Redtail, it shows up automatically in a client’s portal.
With advisory firms under financial pressure because asset values have plunged in the past year, showing each client a list of tasks you’ve completed is a way of building loyalty. In light of the bear market and advisor Ponzi-scheme scandals, it is critical to regularly include this information in client communciations.
Way back on page 72 of the regulatory reform white paper released yesterday by the U.S. Treasury is some pretty big news for financial advisors.
“We propose the following initiatives to empower the SEC to increase fairness for investors,” says the Treasury white paper. “Establish a fiduciary duty for broker-dealers offering investment advice and harmonize the regulation of investment advisers and broker-dealers.”
Entitled, Financial Regulatory Reform: A New Foundation, the white paper makes official the Obama Administration’s intention to put registered reps and advisors at RIAs under the same set of regulatory rules. That’s not a surprise to anyone.
“Retail investors are often confused about the differences between investment advisers and broker-dealers,” according to the white paper. “Meanwhile, the distinction is no longer meaningful between a disinterested investment advisor and a broker who acts as an agent for an investor; the current laws and regulations are based on antiquated distinctions between the two types of financial professionals that date back to the early 20th century. “
What is a surprise is that the Administration is asking to impose a fiduciary obligation on brokers. Of course, only advisors at RIAs are now fiduciaries, and thus obliged always to do what is in a client’s best interest. That is a much higher standard of care for clients than is imposed on registered reps, who must only ensure they are giving advice suitable for their clients.
The Treasury says in the 89-page paper that RIAs and Registered Reps are the same to retail investors. “In the retail context, the legal distinction between the two is no longer meaningful,” says the Treasury white paper. “Retail customers repose the same degree of trust in their brokers as they do in investment advisers, but the legal responsibilities of the intermediaries may not be the same. The SEC should be permitted to align duties for intermediaries across financial products. “
“Standards of care for all broker-dealers when providing investment advice about securities to retail investors should be raised to the fiduciary standard to align the legal framework with investment advisers,” according to the Treasury Department. “In addition, the SEC should be empowered to examine and ban forms of compensation that encourage intermediaries to put investors into products that are profitable to the intermediary, but are not in the investors’ best interest.”
The Administration is calling for new legislation:
• requiring that broker-dealers who provide investment advice about securities to investors have the same fiduciary obligations as registered investment advisers
• providing simple and clear disclosure to investors regarding the scope of the terms of their relationships with investment professionals
• prohibiting certain conflict of interests and sales practices that are contrary to the interests of investors.
When the U.S. economy seemed like it might collapse last October, Advisor Products hosted a webinar for advisors in an effort to help to help them cope.
Attendees were so grateful, we did it the following week.
Pretty soon, it became clear that advisors wanted us to bring them this information regularly. Thus was born the Financial Crisis Webinar Series, which brings advisors leading thinkers from the financial advisory profession every Friday at 4 p.m. EDT
We’ve now hosted 32 webinars , replays are always available, and since January we have offered continuing edcuation credit for Certified Financial Planner® licensees.
Last week, we upgraded our registration platform. As a result, you are now be able to receive continuing education credit when viewing webinar replays.
With the new registration system, you register just once. We’ll drop a “cookie” into your browser—a short line of text—on your computer's hard drive—and you’ll be recognized without registering the next time you return. If you use a different computer, you’ll need to log in again, however. Before this upgrade, you had register your information each time you wanted to view a webinar replay.
The new registration system also allows you to access videos and request more information about our services from the Advisor Products website. Videos explain our client portal system, newsletters, AdvisorVault, and Online Reporting for Advent Axys or PortfolioCenter.
Advisor Products clients will continue to use their existing log-in credentials for accessing the BackOffice for managing your website, email newsletter, and newsletter. That is unaffected by these changes.
It is our privilege to be able to bring you The Financial Crisis Webinar Series. Join us this week to hear Mark Tibergien, CEO of Pershing Advisor Solutions, speak about the link between operational efficiency and human capital.
How would you like to be able to show clients a list of all of the things you’ve done for them lately?
What if you could automatically feed that list of achieved tasks from your CRM system to a secure personal website for each client?
Or how would you like to be able to assign clients tasks from your firm’s CRM system, and feed these To-Dos automatically to each client’s secure personal website?
This is all totally doable right now.
In fact, these are just a couple of the many powerful features in the new Advisor Products integration with Redtail Technology.
Integration between Advisor Products and Redtail extends one of the advisory profession's most powerful customer relationship management (CRM) software applications to a client-facing application.
Redtail’s easy-to-use web-based CRM system helps you manage your internal staff; Advisor Products' secure Client Portal system helps you communicate with clients effectively.
Redtail CRM tracks and organizes all your client activities. Featuring online calendaring as well as task management, Redtail is easy to use and offers a low cost of ownership.
The Advisor Products Client Portal lets you provide each of your clients with a secure financial home page. Information is fed from your firm's applications for performance management, financial planning, and client relationship management. Client Portals also feature a vault and newsletters written by Advisor Products that are personalized to each client’s profile, making a great presentation of all the information clients need from you.
Utilizing eXtensible Markup Language (XML) feeds, data flows automatically from Redtail to Client Portals and vice versa. The XML feeds save you time and money because you don’t need to re-key data from one application to another.
Using the Advisor Products-Redtail integration is simple. In Redtail, which is a web-based CRM, there’s a page where you fill in details about an Activity your firm is performing for a client.
At the bottom of every Activity page is a checkbox to “Share with Advisor Products.” Checking that box automatically sends that activity to your clients' portals.
Whenever your firm completes an activity for a client, you can insert a note about the completed task in the Activity page in Redtail and it will flow automatically into the corresponding client's portal.
Clients, thus, can see all of the work you do on their behalf. That's important since most of the work advisors do is unknown to clients.
The Advisor Products Client Portal system features a “To Do Manager.” The To Do Manager is where all Achieved Tasks are displayed to your clients.
When you click the “Share With Advisor Products” checkbox in Redtail, that activity is displayed in your client’s secure personal portal as an “Achieved Task.”
In addition to showing clients all of the work your firm does for them, you can also assign clients tasks in Redtail that will automatically be fed for display in To Do Manager.
From the Activity page in Redtail, just pull down the Category menu and choose “Portal Client To-Do.”
That Activity in Redtail, as well as any updates to it, will be fed into the client’s portal.
The integration of these two applications means nothing falls through the cracks with clients anymore.
The integration of Advisor Products with Redtail also makes it easy to provision new client portals, as the demographic information from Redtail can be automatically fed into the Client Portal Platform.