ACTIONABLE ADVICE FOR FINANCIAL ADVISORS: Newsletters and Commentaries Focused on Investment Strategy

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2014-04-03 Fiduciary vs. Suitability Standards-Your Need to Know the Difference by H. William Wolfson of American Financial Advisors

Beth Banker, a successful business woman, has been having ongoing neck and back issues. She decided to access web based information as to obtain self treatment options. Upon her reading, she realized that her condition, although appearing musculoskeletal in nature may be more involved with underlying pathologies. Although her intent was to heal herself, in reality she became more concerned and stressed as to the amount of research and data that existed…which she didn’t understand.

2014-04-03 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

During the Great Recession, America laid off two million factory workers and factory output fell 20 percent. Before the Great Recession, of course, manufacturing jobs were headed overseas. As we have slowly emerged from the Great Recession, it’s a little surprising to some that manufacturing has led the way, outpacing overall GDP growth. This year it looks like manufacturing could add 3.5 percent in growth. Is this just a replacement of jobs that were lost during the Great Recession?

2014-03-15 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

Harold Evensky's quarterly letter to his readers.

2014-03-13 Investment Portfolios Need Someone to Take Fiduciary Responsibility by William Wolfson of American Financial Advisors

There is a protocol to follow after a new patient enters your office. Staff is expected to meet, greet, welcome and have a patient fill out forms. This allows the Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) to ascertain demographics, responsibility of payment, the patient’s primary complaint and reason for visiting the office. Similar to that of a Doctor of Chiropractic who cares for a patient and follows the oath to do no harm, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), parallels the doctor’s fiduciary responsibility.

2014-01-25 Wealth Services at Banks Come Under Central Bank\'s Scanner by Rajat Dhar of Cogent Advisory

RBI, the central bank of India, made critical observations of way in which wealth services were being practised at banks. Also, the clear note was made with respect to the rising cases of misselling at banks. This market commentary covers the draft guidelines issued by RBi and tries to uncover the reason for the same and the way forward for the clients. This has been the first time ever that separate guidelines have come for banks and independent financial advisors or advisory firms in India; and this article covers the wealth services being offered by banks in India.

2014-01-21 Superstition Ain\'t the Way by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.

2014-01-21 Turning Asset Allocation Upside Down by Roger Nusbaum of AdvisorShares

After the second 50% drawdown of the US equity market in one decade, the investment industry began to reassess the idea of what asset allocation should look like. Unlike the 1980’s and 1990’s, financial professionals can no longer rely on an almost static 60/40 or 70/30, watch the equity portion triple in 15 or 20 years and then flip the whole thing to fixed income for a safe 6%.

2014-01-06 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

To say that 2013 was an interesting year would be a bit of an understatement. We learned a long time ago not to make predictions about the stock market because no matter what is predicted, it is likely to be wrong. Even if we get lucky one year, we are not likely to even get close the following year. We do try to give guidance, however. Last year we suggested that, given the late run in the market in 2012 and its 15% return, investors should be happy with a return of 8 to 10% in 2013. Obviously, investors enjoyed much better returns.

2013-12-26 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

I admit it, I do occasionally pick on Money Magazine and other consumer financial publications, but as I’ve written in the past, for the most part, Money does a great job of educating consumers. Its story on Lessons from the Crash "Lehman Brothers’ collapse in September 2008 sent stocks on a terrifying ride. A year-by-year look back reveals five key takeaways you need to heed today" is an excellent example. Here are Money’s "Lessons."

2013-11-19 Thoughts from Top Advisors on Building a Physician Niche by Greg Stokes (Article)

Since most doctors are smart and wealthy, they are ideal candidates for a lifetime client-advisor relationship. Three prominent advisors told me how they built and grew a successful practice that catered to physicians.

2013-10-22 Recession-Proof Your Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)

The choices you make and actions you take today will influence how your business fares following the next market crash. Here are two marketing strategies you can implement now to prepare for the future.

2013-10-22 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Last month, a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of non-retired investors showed just how lingering the hangover is from the financial crisis five years ago. Much like the Great Depression financially scared their great grandparents and grandparents, the Great Recession is impacting investors’ expectations about the future.

2013-10-17 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Last month, a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of non-retired investors showed just how lingering the hangover is from the financial crisis five years ago. Much like the Great Depression financially scared their great grandparents and grandparents, the Great Recession is impacting investors’ expectations about the future. 41% indicated they were concerned about another global crisis during their retirement years, and 28% were convinced they would have a lower standard of living during retirement.

2013-10-15 A Better Way to Measure Risk Tolerance by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

In building financial plans, asset-allocation recommendations must recognize the client’s ability to absorb risk. To aid in this assessment, advisors often use risk-tolerance questionnaires, but these tools have shortcomings. The evolving field of brain science can help to design better questionnaires.

2013-10-08 When Your Succession Plan Is Derailed by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I hired a young guy in three years ago with the expectation I would give him ownership and have him eventually take over the business. I want to wind down and have been giving him a large percentage of my clients to manage. Lately he has been talking about moving back to where his wife’s parents live. He said he isn’t sure if this business is right for him. How do I get him to make a decision?

2013-10-02 Handing Down Your Legacy - A Special Gift For Readers by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

No one likes to talk about death. Many people put off planning for this contingency because it’s just not pleasant to think about. Additionally, most young people think that death is a long way off, so they have plenty of time to plan for it. But as we all know, accidents happen and no one knows exactly when their time will come.

2013-09-27 Achievement Awards Announced at the 2013 Insider’s Forum Conference and Leadership Forum by Bob Veres (Article)

The first annual Insider’s Forum conference attracted more than its share of industry leaders. But two of its more prominent attendees received special recognition for their contributions to the financial planning/investment advisory profession.

2013-09-24 Why Retirees Should Choose DIAs over SPIAs by Wade Pfau (Article)

Retirement portfolios can be constructed from a mix of asset classes, including stocks, bonds and annuities. In the past, I’ve shown that retirees achieve some of the best outcomes by allocating a portion of those assets to SPIAs. In this column, I extend my analysis to show that DIAs work even better than SPIAs, by providing more liquidity and better longevity protection at a lower cost.

2013-09-18 Newsletter September 2013 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

SAY IT ISN’T SO... Investment News headline “Ex-J.P. Morgan broker: Firm pushed house funds.” The story went on to report: “Claims reps didn’t get commission on trades of outside funds. A former J.P. Morgan broker has filed an arbitration claim alleging that the bank’s securities unit encouraged sales of proprietary funds by withholding commissions from brokers on trades of outside funds.

2013-09-17 How One Advisor Attracts HNW Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Recently, a California-based advisor explained how she shifted her practice to focus on affluent clients. Her success was the result of a simple but thoughtful five-step plan.

2013-09-10 A New Tool to Calculate Long-Term Care Needs by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Health-care crises can destroy retirement plans, yet advisors and clients often avoid discussing long-term care (LTC) insurance. Part of the reason – aside from a natural reluctance to contemplate such tragedies – is the lack of data needed to evaluate the LTC risk. That data deficiency can now be overcome, thanks to a pioneering product that provides customized projections for clients.

2013-09-03 How a Menu of Services Generates Revenue by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

Very few advisors do as good a job as possible articulating their value proposition and the ways they can be of service to their clients. If clients purchase products or services from competitors, it may be because they are unaware of the full range of your offerings.

2013-08-20 Target-Date Funds: Why Higher Equity Allocations Work by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Following the 2008 financial crisis, target-date funds (TDFs) were criticized for exposing investors nearing retirement to excessive equity allocations. Were those criticisms justified? How well do TDFs stack up against the venerable strategy of matching one’s bond allocation to one’s age? My research has yielded surprising answers to those questions and to the proper role of single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) alongside TDFs.

2013-08-20 How to Evaluate Event Marketing by Kristen Luke (Article)

If your firm uses event marketing, then it is critical to evaluate the success of your efforts. I recommend asking attendees to fill out an evaluation form at the conclusion of each event. This feedback will help you make necessary tweaks to improve future events and collect valuable contact information from attendees. The following tips will help you create a useful event evaluation form.

2013-08-20 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Bob Veres’ article, Envisioning the Planning Firm of the Future, which appeared last week. A reader responds to Dan Richards’ article, How to Fix the Flaws in Financial Planning, which appeared on July 30, and a reader responds to Bob Veres’ article, The Price You Pay for Poor Management, which appeared on July 23.

2013-08-13 Envisioning the Planning Firm of the Future by Bob Veres (Article)

Virtually all advisors operate with a value proposition built on bettering their clients’ financial future through management of their assets. But trends in the workforce and capital markets will force advisors to rethink those assumptions and, if Richie Lee is right, the planning firm of the future will adapt a four-factor service model that places much greater emphasis on helping clients maximize their human capital.

2013-07-30 How to Fix the Flaws in Financial Planning by Dan Richards (Article)

Four-in-five financial planning recommendations don’t lead to action, according to a Forbes column. Our industry needs a fundamental reappraisal of how to create plans that translate into action and positive outcomes.

2013-07-30 Five Web Metrics Advisors Should Be Tracking by Kristen Luke (Article)

Do you look at your website analytics report and have no idea what it means? Don’t worry. Unless you are a professional web marketer, most of the data you see on those reports won’t impact your business in any significant way. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your website statistics all together.

2013-07-23 The Price You Pay for Poor Management by Bob Veres (Article)

If you have 100 client meetings a year and could net an additional $65,000 to $70,000 out of them, how much effort would you be willing to put into achieving that?

2013-07-23 If Only Clients Came With Instruction Manuals by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

If you never have had a client relationship start off strong and then fizzle out, congratulations. For those of you who have, read on. I am going to help you put together a client instruction manual.

2013-07-09 Retirement Portfolios: Fears over Rising Rates are Overblown by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The second quarter saw increases in interest rates, losses in every category of bonds and investors abandoning fixed-income markets. The distress has been particularly acute among retirement investors who considered bond funds to be safe. But are fears of bond losses overblown? I will make the case that the rise in interest rates is actually good for retirement portfolios. To see this, one has to look beyond the quarterly statement losses and focus on overall retirement outcomes.

2013-07-09 Assessing Healthcare Expenses in Retirement by Dan McGrath, Paul Seidel and Josh Jackson, CAS, ALMI (Article)

In the wake of the Affordable Care Act and its accompanying deluge of regulation, advisors are helping baby boomers prepare for retirement in more ways than ever before. But our industry continues to overlook a significant threat to clients’ continued comfortable lifestyles: out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

2013-07-02 Insider’s Forum Conference Names Advisor Perspectives Exclusive Media Partner by Advisor Perspectives (Article)

The Insider’s Forum conference, to be held this year in Dallas, TX, September 17-19, has announced an exclusive media partnership with Advisor Perspectives.

2013-06-25 Strategies for the Retirement Red Zone by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The retirement red zone is the critical years immediately before and after retirement, when financial plans are highly vulnerable to adverse market movements. In many previous articles, I have examined strategies to reduce risk after retirement, but here I will focus on the decade before retirement. I’ll compare strategies that rely on traditional stock-bond portfolios with those using various types of annuity products.

2013-06-25 The Price Your Clients Pay for Using Safe Withdrawal Rates by David B. Loeper (Article)

Safe-withdrawal rates (SWRs) are perhaps the most extensively studied topic in financial planning literature. But applying a single SWR-driven methodology to all clients neglects their unique and individual needs. A better approach is for advisors to assist clients in defining their ideal and acceptable goals and the relative priorities among them. Then they can demonstrate through Monte Carlo simulation the likelihood of the recommended plan becoming over- or under-funded relative to those goals.

2013-06-25 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Adam Apt responds in the latest exchange of letters on the topic of socially responsible investing. A reader responds to Geoff Considine’s article, A Better Alternative to Cap-Weighted Bond Indices, which appeared June 11. A reader responds to Wade Pfau’s article, Retirement Income Designations – Which Should You Choose?, which appeared last week.

2013-06-18 Retirement Income Designations – Which Should You Choose? by Wade Pfau (Article)

With more than 50 certification programs based on the withdrawal phase of the planning lifecycle, advisors are faced with a paralyzing choice about which designation provides the most valuable curriculum. Here’s some guidance on choosing the right program for advisors.

2013-06-18 What Advisors Need to Know about Health-Care Planning by Dinesh Sharma (Article)

Guiding clients through the maze of the health-care choices retirees face is a way advisors can provide meaningful value. Here’s an overview of the Medicare and Medicaid programs to help advisors understand the key economic considerations that will impact their clients.

2013-06-18 Newsletter June 2013 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

Do you remember hiding under the sheets listening to radio when your parents thought you were asleep? If so, I have an unbelievable collection of all the old-time radio shows we listened to when we were kids, if you have about six months’ spare time. Find your favorite, click on it, and it lists literally hundreds of episodes you can re-live.

2013-06-04 Your Value Proposition: A Precursor to the Elevator Pitch by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

Every business should stand on four legs: values, a mission statement, a vision statement and a value proposition. This fourth item, a value proposition, must provide concrete data about your organization, why it exists and who you serve.

2013-05-28 Six Reasons You’re Charging the Wrong Fees by Bob Veres (Article)

My research has explored the spectrum of advisory fees in considerable detail, and has allowed advisors to compare their fee structures with professional norms, evolving trends and the input of advisors around the country. Here are the six biggest oddities I discovered – each of which is a clear sign that advisors are not charging as much as they should.

2013-05-21 Do Annuities Reduce Bequest Values? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The widely held view that annuities reduce bequest values is too narrow. Adjustments can be made in retirement portfolios to reduce retirement risk without sacrificing the value of one’s bequest. Here’s how retirees can purchase annuities, adjust allocations in remaining assets and achieve improved retirement outcomes.

2013-05-08 Is Your Investing One Dimensional? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

At the National Association of Active Investment Managers (NAAIM) Uncommon Knowledge Conference in Denver last week, a reporter from Financial Planning magazine asked us, “What is active investing’?” Many confuse the phrase with the simple act of running a mutual fund populated with stock picks within the strict guidelines of a prospectus, as opposed to running an index fund, where the manager simply buys and holds the shares making up a particular stock or bond index.

2013-05-07 Breakaway Brokers: What the Data Really Say by Bob Veres (Article)

For the past 15 years, and especially since 2008, few assumptions have been accepted as widely or confidently in the financial services world as the idea that brokers are leaving the wirehouse environment in increasing numbers – and taking their clients with them. Underlying that assumption is another: that the trend is accelerating, and will continue to do so until the brokerage industry’s retail footprint has been severely diminished. The more extreme projections see the entire brokerage asset gatherer/sales model following Lehman, E. F. Hutton and Bear Stearns into extinction.

2013-04-30 The Best Solution for Protecting Retirement Portfolios: Put and Call Options versus GLWBs by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Retirees cannot be exposed to severe – or even modest – market losses. They need to protect their savings in a cost-effective manner. I will compare the projected outcomes for two types of strategies: options, which can reduce volatility, and products that guarantee lifetime income, such as variable annuities with guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits.

2013-04-30 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

With the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, a lot of people felt that things were set as it related to estate taxes. Apparently everyone believed that except the President, who has proposed several changes to estate tax law in his fiscal 2014 budget.

2013-04-23 Create Mission and Vision Statements That Drive Your Business by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

We often hear that advisors should create mission and vision statements for their businesses. I agree, but with one caveat.

2013-04-09 Four Bold Innovations that will Revolutionize Financial Planning by Bob Veres (Article)

What it would be like for an advisor in the 1980s to be magically transported to our 21st century? The changes would be dazzling: the Internet and social media, exchange-traded funds and Morningstar data, Skype conferences and the virtual cloud, plus a few million mobile device apps that do everything but vacuum your house.

2013-04-09 Tips for Building a Compelling Web Site by Wendy Cook (Article)

Is your current website still living in the “online brochure” days or even non-existent? Don’t dwell on what’s been holding you up. Let’s move your site – and you along with it – into the 21st century.

2013-04-09 The “Big Lie” of COI Referrals by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Several weeks ago I responded to an advisor’s question about increasing center-of-influence (COI) referrals. The advisor was frustrated that seemingly good relationships with COIs were not translating into more referrals. I received a response to that column from Scott Johnson, director of sales and marketing for My Perfect Client, a provider of training programs for financial advisors. Scott shared some interesting insights about his approach to COI referrals and I thought readers could benefit from these ideas.

2013-04-02 Choosing an Actively Managed Fund: What Works and What Doesn’t by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Few topics have been studied as closely as selecting actively managed funds that will outperform the market. Advisors who use such funds need to be confident in their choices – and justify their methodology to clients. Here’s what the latest academic research says on this highly contentious issue.

2013-04-02 The Online Advantage: Findings from the Advisor Perspectives Mutual Fund-Site Survey by Nina Eisenman and Jeff Briskin (Article)

New research from Advisor Perspectives shows that offering outstanding online research and due-diligence capabilities is key for fund companies that wish to win the competitive battle for the time and attention of financial advisors.

2013-04-01 Plan Sponsors and Participants Need HELP by Jon Vogler of Invesco

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP Committee) held a hearing titled “Pension Savings: Are Workers Saving Enough for Retirement?” on Jan. 31, 2013. Witnesses shared successful initiatives and highlighted areas that need improvement to help workers achieve a financially secure retirement.

2013-03-27 RISE Survey Reveals Some Somber Retirement Realities by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

As numbers go, 1% and 99% have gotten more than their fair share of media attention, but if you’re one of the millions who hope to retire someday, you may want to pay attention to another figure: 21%. According to the 2013 Franklin Templeton Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations (RISE) survey, that’s the percentage of retirees who have no savings to speak of. So how do you avoid falling into this statistical group? That’s the $64,000 question that’s worth much more than thatit’s the price of your future.

2013-03-26 How to Invest Like Buffett by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Listen to Jim Cramer or his cohorts on CNBC and you’ll hear statements like, “Don’t settle for the mediocre returns of a market index!” and “It’s not that hard for investors to pick stocks that will beat the market!” Unless you possess the skills of Warren Buffett, that’s not true. But in the book Think, Act and Invest Like Warren Buffett, Larry Swedroe says you indeed can invest like Buffett – just not by stock-picking.

2013-03-22 Happy Clients; Terrified Prospects by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Four years ago, on March 9th, 2009, US stocks collapsed to a 12 year low. A financial crisis rooted in overleveraged purchases of junk (or even fraudulent) securities claimed, in quick succession, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brother, Merrill Lynch (forced into a shotgun marriage with Bank of America) and AIG. Investors panicked, selling good securities at deep discounts to fair value.

2013-03-19 How My Firm Hires Great Employees by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

Adding a team member is a big decision. If you are thinking the time is right to add to your roster, here are a few things to consider.

2013-03-14 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

In the latest edition of his client newsletter, Harold Evensky highlights a number of interesting bits of news, including a must-see destination for your friends, your kids and your grandkids, some advice from Warren Buffett, a tip from Albert Einstein and the latest data on hedge fund performance.

2013-03-12 Client Communication beyond the Newsletter by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

You have written about the importance of communicating with clients in a variety of ways. What are some examples of things that work best, other than the standard newsletter?

2013-03-05 Breaking Free from the Safe Withdrawal Rate Paradigm: Extending the Efficient Frontier for Retiremen by Wade Pfau (Article)

The traditional safe withdrawal rate approach that relies on a portfolio of only stocks and bonds produces among the worst possible outcomes for meeting spending needs and preserving financial assets for other uses. My research demonstrates there is a better approach.

2013-03-05 You’re The Cream of the Crop: Key Findings from the 2012 Advisor Perspectives Reader Survey by Jeff Briskin (Article)

Experienced. Results oriented. Focused on serving the needs of individuals and families. Confident in your abilities. Eager to expand your knowledge. If this sounds like you, you're not alone. These are the traits that stand out among Advisor Perspectives readers, based on the findings of our 2012 Reader Survey.

2013-02-26 Can Advisors Add Value Through Fund Selection? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Low-cost index funds will beat the average actively managed fund after expenses. But can advisors identify superior active funds to overcome this disadvantage? Advisors who believe they can choose those funds will be challenged by the results of two studies from the defined-contribution industry.

2013-02-12 Staying Active on Social Media: Ten Ways to Generate Relevant Content on a Frequent Basis by Kristen Luke (Article)

One of the most difficult aspects of social media marketing for financial advisors is staying active. For advisors who already have a hectic schedule, how do you generate relevant content and maintain an active presence? Here are 10 tips to help you get started.

2013-02-12 Manage Your Time More Effectively with a Model Week by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

We cannot manage time. The clock keeps ticking whether we want it to or not. What we can manage is our activity. Instead of time management, think activity management.

2013-02-12 Can a Salesperson Help – or Hurt? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I just hired a successful sales guy. He has been in the industry for 15 years and knows what to do. Our advisors will not allow him access to their clients; they prevent him from attending meetings and are generally usurping his role. How do I get him integrated into our practice?

2013-02-05 Comparing Advisors to Jim Cramer: Measuring your Professional Alpha by Bob Veres (Article)

Jim Cramer, Suze Orman and other so-called investment pundits and gurus are constantly telling consumers that they can do a great job of managing their portfolios on their own. Let's look at what the research has to say about the various investment performance benefits that advisors should be able to give their clients during the accumulation phase of their lives – excess returns above what do-it-yourself investors could obtain on their own. I call those excess returns 'professional alpha.'

2013-01-29 Predicting Asset Class Returns: Recommendations for Financial Planners by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Developing reasonable estimates for stock and bond returns requires more than just historical data or the assumptions provided in financial software packages. Inappropriate assumptions can doom retirees to outliving their savings or forgoing a life style they could otherwise afford. There are better ways to forecast, and in this article I'll suggest a few of them.

2013-01-29 Are Planners Worth the Fees they Charge? by Wade Pfau (Article)

Could financial advisors who offer comprehensive services be doing a better job? Two recent studies shed a positive light on the potential of the financial planning profession to do right by their clients.

2013-01-15 Demographics and the Decline of Equity Mutual Funds by Paul Franchi (Article)

Until the last few years, mutual fund flows followed performance. Recently, however, money has flowed disproportionately into bond funds and out of US equity funds despite a strong rally in the equity markets. Changing demographics explain this shift, which has important implications for advisors and the mutual fund industry.

2013-01-15 Five Key Marketing Trends for Advisors in 2013 by Kristen Luke (Article)

It is a new year and time to experiment with fresh marketing ideas. Keeping up with trends isn't just a way to tell your colleagues you are on the cutting edge of marketing. You need to understand how consumers are changing and how you can keep your message delivery relevant. If your marketing is getting stale, here are five marketing trends for 2013.

2013-01-04 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

As always I hope you will enjoy this issue, as much as I have enjoyed putting it together. Most important though I wish one and all a very happy, prosperous and healthy new year!

2013-01-02 Getting the Most from Your Investment Committee by Bob Veres (Article)

Investment committees are a little bit like fingerprints: they come in all shapes and sizes, and no two are exactly alike in form or function. So advisory firms that have investment committees – or are considering creating one – can learn a lot from one another. My research has identified some best practices for this flexible management tool, by comparing notes among advisors on how they are managing their IC teams.

2012-12-27 The Ten Most-Read Articles in 2012 by Robert Huebscher (Article)

As is our custom, we conclude the year by reflecting on the 10 most-read articles over the past 12 months. In decreasing order, based on the number of unique readers, those are…

2012-12-27 The Best Investment-Related Quotes by Glenn Frank (Article)

I've compiled a list of my favorite investment-related quotes. They come from a range of sources – including many outside the world of finance. I hope that they provide wisdom and inspiration for the year ahead.

2012-12-26 The Ten Key Benefits of Investment Committees by Bob Veres (Article)

In this first part of a two-part report, I'll identify ten core purposes that investment committees serve in different types of firms, ranking them in order of the number of responses I received. If your investment committee is serving all ten purposes, based on the survey, you're among a select minority - which means that many advisors may find new ways to use this versatile new tool in their RIA practices.

2012-12-18 Comparing Long-Term Care Alternatives by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Should clients buy expensive long-term care insurance they might never need, or go without insurance and risk a big hit to their life savings? For advisors whose clients face this critical dilemma, there's now a third option: life insurance and annuity products that also incorporate long-term care insurance.

2012-11-21 Meet Cliff by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Oh, we had heard about Cliff. We were warned about this nefarious character many months ago. We knew he was lurking and we knew he was not going to just go away. Cliff had invited himself into our lives, and unless we dealt with him, he was not going anywhere. You, the hard-working financial advisor, have probably been wondering when everyone else would notice him. That time came when the sun came up Wednesday after the election. There he was, casting his extraordinarily long and potentially costly shadow. Fiscal Cliff finally entered the national spotlight. It is time to meet him.

2012-11-20 Are Inflation-Adjusted Annuities Right for Clients? The Product and Its Prospects by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Many economists and retirement experts favor inflation-adjusted SPIAs, but advisors and the investing public have never shared their enthusiasm. Detractors contend that the product is fundamentally flawed and will never gain broad acceptance. My own view is more optimistic, but significant obstacles will, nonetheless, continue to impede wider adoption.

2012-11-20 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers respond to our articles, The Downside to Socially Responsible Investing, which appeared last week, and, Lacy Hunt on Our Economic Future, which appeared on November 6.

2012-11-20 The Fallacies in Today’s Retirement Plan Assumptions: Putting the Hedonic Pleasure Index to Work by Bob Veres (Article)

Are you dramatically underestimating your clients' retirement lifestyle expenditures when you use Monte Carlo software? If you stop and look at a number of important assumptions hidden in the current models, you'll suddenly have a lot less confidence in the retirement plans you’re mapping out for your clients.

2012-11-07 Tax Implications of the Election by Timothy Steffen of Robert W. Baird & Co.

While the re-election of President Obama gives us a sense of what direction the country may head regarding tax policies, addressing the deficit and how to respond to the looming fiscal cliff, there is still a lot of work to be done before any of those issues can be considered "resolved".

2012-11-06 Asset Location: Nine Tips to Create “Tax Alpha” by Glenn Frank (Article)

With campaign season finally over, taxes are going to dominate the debate in Washington in the months ahead – however things shake out at the polls today. It's going to be confusing; it's going to be uncertain. But many of the most critical questions advisors will ask can be answered with an analytical approach to deciding where to 'house' assets – in taxable or tax-sheltered accounts.

2012-10-30 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to a discussion from last week, which was in response to Joe Tomlinson's article, We Need a Bold Solution to Fix the Retirement System, which appeared on October 9.

2012-10-25 October 2012 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz Wealth Management

Oh the joys of driving to a baseball game; sitting in endless traffic four miles from the stadium, inching past full lot after full lot, or not finding your car when it's time to go home (was it D-4 or 404 Green?). Now you can streamline your parking experience with ParkWhiz, a Chicago-based company that's recently gone national. This and other missives from Harold Evensky.

2012-10-23 How to Change the Regulatory Debate - Before it's Too Late by Bob Veres (Article)

After almost a decade of lobbying, arguing, and posturing, the long fight on Capitol Hill over who will regulate RIAs and how to define 'fiduciary' is approaching a close. Within the next six months, there will no longer be any real excuse to put off a decision, and new players, both in Congress and at the SEC, will be eager to start fresh.

2012-10-23 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Joe Tomlinson's article, We Need a Bold Solution to Fix the Retirement System, which appeared on October 9.

2012-10-09 We Need a Bold Solution to Fix the Retirement System by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Our retirement system is broken. The average American isn't saving enough to comfortably retire, and the fault lies in our reliance on defined-contribution (DC) plans, such as 401(k)s. Tinkering with DC plans won't solve the problem, and the other extreme - a federally mandated guarantee - isn't likely to gain support. But a number of compromises that lie between those approaches offer a better way forward for future generations.

2012-09-04 New Research - How to Help Clients Make Better Decisions by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Making decisions is not something human beings are very good at. We do a poor job of predicting what will make us happy in the future, we often misjudge our ability to handle risk, and our decisions are plagued by subtle biases that throw us unwittingly off course. Because the essence of financial planning is making decisions about the future, it's critical that clients and advisors understand how decision-making biases can be identified and overcome.

2012-08-28 Why Don't Your Female Clients Like You? by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury (Article)

Over the next 40 years, women will inherit 70% of the $41 trillion in intergenerational wealth transfers, and the first thing they will probably do after receiving the money is fire you. The reasons are not what you think: not poor investment performance, not lack of expertise.

2012-08-21 The Profession's Faulty Assumptions: A Top Ten List by Bob Veres (Article)

In the financial planning profession, we make a lot of assumptions about the world in order to run spreadsheet models, retirement projections and sufficiency analyses, and generally determine how much a client should save and invest for the future. But many of the industry-standard inputs into our models are (how can I say this delicately?) garbage. Here are my top ten garbage inputs, with an explanation of how we might possibly improve on them.

2012-08-14 How Safe are Annuities? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

For many advisors, the possibility that insurance companies will run into financial difficulties makes recommending annuities a nonstarter. But annuities are the best way to mitigate longevity risk, which may pose a greater danger, and advisors can take steps to help protect clients from insurers' financial problems.

2012-08-14 How One Advisor Adds Three Clients a Month by Dan Richards (Article)

I've had several emails in response to last week's article on how investors are using LinkedIn to help select advisors. Indeed, one advisor told me of a systematic approach that is consistently yielding new business. Let's look at how this advisor is capitalizing on his online presence to attract an average of three new clients per month.

2012-08-07 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Bob Veres' article, The Alternative to AUM-Based Fees: The Total Profitability Retainer Formula , which was published last week.

2012-07-31 The Alternative to AUM-Based Fees: The Total Profitability Retainer Formula by Bob Veres (Article)

Many - perhaps most - advisors are overcharging a few of their clients and undercharging the rest. In other words, a small number of investment advisor clients are subsidizing the services that the others are receiving. Here's a way to address that.

2012-07-24 Optimal Strategies for Secular Market Cycles by Michael Kitces (Article)

With alternative investments and active management strategies growing ever more popular, an advisor recently told me, 'It's just a fad and will end with heartache as all investment fads do. I've watched it play out over and over during my 30-year career.' But I am not persuaded. The secular market cycle today is different from the bear market 30 years ago, and not all market cycles favor the same investment strategies.

2012-07-22 How 5 Seriously Overworked Buzzwords Can Come Between You and Your Client by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In my experience, several investing buzzwords have done more harm than good for investors. While they are important concepts, they have been so commoditized by the financial planning industry that their true meaning has been misinterpreted. All the while, Wall Street firms have reaped the benefits by mass-customizing portfolio management. What started as a concerted effort to help investors has been reduced to a marketing pitch and investors keep falling for it.

2012-07-17 Should You Wait to Buy a SPIA? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Advisors may be reluctant to recommend single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) with interest rates currently so low. It may be better to wait for rates to rise, which will bring more attractive SPIA pricing. But that leaves the question about how long we will wait for better pricing. In this article, I'll show how the decision to delay can turn out well or poorly, depending on the timing and size of rate increases.

2012-07-17 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Two readers respond to Bob Veres' article, Why Are Advisory Fees Lower Than They Have To Be?, which appeared last week, and a reader responds to Larry Siegel's article, Benchmarking Your Retirement Portfolio With a Risk-Free Strategy, which also appeared last week.

2012-07-17 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

President Obamas Affordable Care Act was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court. This means that unless something happens between now and the end of the year, on January 1st, taxes will go up for certain taxpayers: A 3.8% Medicare contribution tax for single taxpayers making more than $200,000, and married couples filing jointly making more than $250,000. Interest, dividends, rents, and capital gains on these groups will see an additional 0.9% Medicare tax applied to income.

2012-07-10 Why Are Advisory Fees Lower Than They Have To Be? by Bob Veres (Article)

How much should you charge for your services? Is there any way to objectively calculate a fair price? Doctors, lawyers and accountants all charge relatively similar prices for their services. Why does the financial planning profession have fees that are all over the map?

2012-07-03 The Value of Planning by Bob Veres (Article)

How much do you charge for your services? When you look hard at the value you provide, the answer may be: 'not enough.'

2012-06-29 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Much has been said and written about the expiration of the Bush tax cuts at the end of 2012. The assumption is that capital gain rates will go back to 20% and that dividends will rise to 39.6% without consideration of the Obama Care surtaxes. Since tax law would revert to what it was before the Bush tax cuts, we would revert to a special provision in the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 that established a preferential 18% capital gains rate.

2012-06-19 Retirement Floors and Implications for Evensky's Cash-Reserve Strategy by Wade Pfau (Article)

Does sensible retirement planning call for funding basic needs with less volatile assets and investing more aggressively for aspirational goals? Or, with client goals clearly defined and prioritized, does sensible planning call for a total returns approach? Multiple schools of thought have emerged, but there is not yet any consensus about what constitutes a proper retirement income floor. These lingering unresolved disagreements reinforce the benefits of Harold Evensky’s and Deena Katz’ popular strategy.

2012-06-12 Investing for Retirement: SPIAs, TIPS, Stocks and the 4% Rule by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Relying only on stocks and bonds to fund a decumulation strategy may no longer be feasible, given today's low interest rate environment and the prospect of muted returns from the equities market. Investors should instead consider using single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) to fund at least a portion of retirement needs.

2012-06-05 Energy and the Wealth of Nations by Richard Vodra, JD, CFP (Article)

It is time for a new and different approach to understanding the economy, according to ecologist Charles Hall and economist Kent Klitgaard, who together are pioneering the discipline of biophysical economics. They advocate a novel methodology that properly accounts for the realities of global energy supplies and consumption.

2012-05-22 Life-cycle Finance and the Dimensional Managed DC® Pension by Wade Pfau (Article)

Pension plans are like cars, according to Nobel laureate Robert Merton. People want a car they can drive and a pension that will maintain their standard of living in retirement; they do not care about what goes on under the hood. Advisors, however, must care. So when a new pension-like option hits the market, as DFA's recently did, it's important to go beyond simply kicking the tires and carefully examine how it works as a retirement-saving vehicle.

2012-05-08 Annuities versus Systematic Withdrawals: Understanding Tax Effects by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Given the complexity of most annuities, analysis of them typically only considers pre-tax results. But taxes matter. As we will see, tax impacts vary by the specific type of annuity you're considering, and will make the difference between annuities being cost effective or a drain on cash flow.

2012-05-01 How to Respond to the Bachus-McCarthy Bill by Bob Veres (Article)

I recommend that everybody contact your elected representatives and tell them that the proposed Bachus-McCarthy legislation would be detrimental to the small businesses in their district or state. Below is a sample letter for you to send to your elected representatives, and a press release for you to send to your local paper and press contacts.

2012-05-01 The Asymmetric Value of Delaying Social Security Benefits by Michael Kitces (Article)

Despite a compelling body of research arguing that most retirees would benefit by delaying the onset of Social Security payments, the majority who are eligible still elect to begin receiving them as early as possible. But delaying Social Security benefits is one of the best triple-hedges available to any retiree - simultaneously protecting against poor returns, high inflation, and longevity.

2012-04-27 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: The Growth Index Slips Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 0.6 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 20. This is the second consecutive week-over-week decline since January 6th. However, the underlying WLI rose fractionally from an adjusted 123.8 to 124.1.

2012-04-20 ECRI Weekly Leading Indicator: The Growth Index Slip by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) growth indicator of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 1.2 as reported in today's public release of the data through April 13. This is the first week-over-week decline since January 6th, over three months ago. The underlying WLI contracted more dramatically from an adjusted 125.9 to 123.9 (see the fourth chart below). This is the largest decline, in percentage terms, since August 19th of last year.

2012-04-17 Rethinking Safe Withdrawal Rates: The Meaning of Failure by Wade Pfau (Article)

Merely knowing the probability that an investor's wealth will be depleted at some point is not enough to build a retirement strategy. That is the traditional measure of failure in safe withdrawal studies, and it's time to move beyond it.

2012-04-17 Two Words to Get in Front of Prospects by Dan Richards (Article)

Even advisors who are successful in every aspect of their business struggle when it comes to getting meetings with prospects. The key is to understand how prospective clients look at requests for action - and to frame anything you ask with two words in mind.

2012-04-12 Volatility Is Not Risk by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Rogers blog dealt with his feelings about a recurring theme in Barrons over the weekend referencing peoples complacency for risk. The first part of his writing dealt with the risks associated with the utilization of puts. On this subject, Roger and I are in agreement. However, the second part of his blog talked about what he felt was the great risk of using dividend paying equities as an alternative investment choice. The following analysis utilizing the F.A.S.T. Graphs earnings and price correlated research tool illuminates the important parts that I feel Roger left out.

2012-04-05 NewsLetter - April 2012 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

Although we continue to believe in the tenets of Modern Portfolio Theory, the concept is Buy-and-Manage not Buy-and-Forget. As a consequence, we made numerous adjustments to our strategic allocations over the years. And, consistent with our buy-and-manage philosophy, for the last few years weve been studying investment markets and have come to believe that long-term future returns are likely to be even lower then we estimated in 2002, market risk will be higher and the benefits from diversification less (i.e., correlations will be higher).

2012-03-22 Explaining the Stir over Recent Fed-Speak by Team of American Century Investments

The official statement from the Federal Reserves March 13 interest rate policy committee meeting was relatively ho-hum (no significant changes from Januarys statement), but other recent Fed communications have raised more of a stir. In particular, we explain what fiscal cliff and sterilized QE mean, and help put them into context. Its all part of a mixed, uncertain economic outlook in which slower mid-year growth, like last year, cant be ruled out, but higher inflation by next year is also a possibility.

2012-03-20 Hot Buttons that Motivate Prospects by Dan Richards (Article)

If you spend $12,000 to promote an event for prospects, you should expect results. That didn't happen for an advisor whose recent prospecting events failed. Here's how he could have created a successful event - by focusing on the hot buttons that motivate prospects.

2012-03-13 How Do Spending Needs Evolve During Retirement? by Wade Pfau (Article)

Most people's spending patterns change over the course of retirement - expenses look very different at 90 than they do at 65. Yet most research on retirement withdrawal rates relies on constant inflation-adjusted withdrawals to develop a client's forward-looking budget. Such an unrealistic, one-size-fits-all approach can be disastrous if a client inadvertently retires with insufficient savings. Is there a better way?

2012-03-13 Letter to the Editor - Tactical Asset Allocation v. Behavioral Finance by Various (Article)

Ken Solow, Michael Kitces and Sauro Locatelli respond to Christopher Sidoni's article, The Conflict between Tactical Asset Allocation and Behavioral Finance, which appeared on February 21.

2012-03-06 New Tools to Manage Longevity Risk by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

If you could guarantee yourself an inflation-protected stream of income for the rest of your life, would you take it? For many retirees, the answer is yes, and that is rightfully sparking new interest in deferred-income annuities (DIAs). By combining a DIA with a TIPS ladder or more aggressive equity-centric investments, retirees can obtain inflation-protected lifetime income. But they will face important tradeoffs, as I will explain.

2012-02-28 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers respond to Christopher Sidoni's article, The Conflict between Tactical Asset Allocation and Behavioral Finance, which appeared last week, and to Simon Johnson's commentary, Too Big to Jail, which appeared on February 21.

2012-02-21 The Conflict between Tactical Asset Allocation and Behavioral Finance by Christopher J. Sidoni, CFA, CFP (Article)

How’s this for irony? Certain investor behavior creates the conditions for a tactical asset allocation strategy to succeed – but the same behavior simultaneously Increases the likelihood that clients will not follow the strategy. Recent research by Ken Solow, Michael Kitces and Sauro Locatelli identified a promising approach to tactical portfolio strategy, but our firm’s experience indicates clients will be reluctant to follow this approach –particularly when the expected payoff is highest.

2012-02-14 The Safety-first, Goals-based Approach to Financial Planning by Wade Pfau (Article)

Little of what is taught in traditional investment textbooks is of value in personal financial planning. Risk is not standard deviation; it is the probability and consequences of not meeting one's goals. That real-world perspective animates a new book by Zvi Bodie and Rachelle Taqqu that implores advisors and their clients to lock in the funding of their essential expenses before worrying about their discretionary goals.

2012-02-07 Jeremy Siegel, Rob Arnott and Other Experts Forecast Equity Returns by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

A forecast of the equity risk premium (ERP) tells you how much to save, how to allocate assets between equities and fixed income, and how much you can consume. Given its great importance, the CFA Institute recently convened a group of top-level academics and practitioners to forecast future ERPs - and to reflect on similar predictions they had made a decade ago.

2012-02-07 An Innovative Solution to Retirement Income by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Generating lifetime income is the ultimate goal of retirement planning. Why is it, then, that two of the most compelling mechanisms for doing just that are shunned by the investing public, despite overwhelming support from experts? I'm talking about immediate annuities and delayed claiming of Social Security, both of which are remarkably effective at securing retirement needs.

2012-01-24 New Tools to Help Clients with Retirement Decisions by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Our clients face a range of financial planning issues, and the arrival of retirement typically involves making numerous decisions. Here is a set of tools that provide useful information to professionals who work with clients on the verge of retirement - especially financial advisors, accountants and lawyers.

2012-01-17 Income Annuities versus GLWBs: A Product Comparison by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The variable annuity with a guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit (VA/GLWB) has become the most popular form of annuity, as retirees seek income protection and equity-market participation. But VA/GLWBs are often costly, and the typical purchaser has few tools with which to assess the costs. Investors need a straightforward way to gauge the fees for VA/GLWBs versus other retirement income alternatives.

2012-01-10 Safe Withdrawal Rates: A Do-It-Yourself Approach by Wade Pfau (Article)

Reconciling the assumptions that underpin safe withdrawal rate studies with one's own capital market expectations and constraints is a daunting task, since those studies rarely reflect the practical realities of an advisory practice. But new research now provides a generalized framework for determining a safe withdrawal rate for a given retirement duration, acceptable failure probability, asset allocation and capital market expectations. Advisors no longer must be constrained by the assumptions and choices of others.

2012-01-04 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

The year 2012 is upon us and looms large for a number of different reasons. Within the next few days, the first of the Presidential primaries will begin and by early November we will know who our next President is and who controls Congress, along with many State Houses. Some astrologists believe this is the Age of Aquarius and according to the Mayan calendar, December 21st will be the end of time, or as some prefer to think of it (ourselves included) the beginning of a new age. Maybe the astrologists and Mayans have something going.

2011-12-27 The Ten Best Articles You Probably Missed by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Great articles don't always get the readership they deserve. Here are 10 articles that you might have missed, but I believe merit reading.

2011-12-27 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers respond to three recent articles and commentaries: Wade Pfau's article, GLWBs: Retiree Protection or Money Illusion?, which appeared on December 13; PIMCO's commentary, Hot Potato, which appeared on December 21; and Kay Conheady's commentary, Does the Trend Matter?, which appeared on December 20.

2011-12-20 Wall Street Journal: Three Words of Advice for Million-Dollar Producers by Dan Richards (Article)

The financial advisor careers section of Wall Street Journal asked 60 advisors from all over the U.S. for suggestions to new advisors starting in the business whose goals were to be million-dollar producers. Their advice came down to three words.

2011-12-20 Does the Trend Matter? by Kay Conheady of Apropos Financial Planning

More research into making asset allocation decisions based on the trend of the P/E10 ratio might prove worthwhile. Such future research might include statistical significance testing, calculating up and down trend Sortino ratios, measuring the Sharpe and Sortino ratios for tactically allocated stock+bond portfolios and studying how trend-sensitive asset allocation strategies would have fared in the past. Finally, Kitces recent JFP article also suggests that studying the P/E5 ratio may also have some value.

2011-12-13 Has Financial Planning Made Itself Appealing Only To Risk Takers? by Michael Kitces (Article)

Financial planning advice may be so equity-centric, that people who don't want equity-style investment risk forgo the use of a financial planner altogether, as a recent Journal of Personal Finance article revealed.

2011-11-22 A Bond-Based Financial Planning Framework by Stan and Hildy Richelson (Article)

Plain vanilla bonds have proven themselves to be the best investments available, and we wholeheartedly agree with Andrew Mellon's prescient late-1920s observation that 'gentlemen prefer bonds.' We believe that ladies should, too.

2011-11-15 Are TIPS Really Safe and Worry-Free? by Wade Pfau (Article)

The Fed's aggressive monetary easing has many investors considering TIPS as a cornerstone of their retirement strategy. While TIPS' unique ability to protect against CPI-based inflation is undeniable, many investors neglect to consider the risks they pose, particularly for those who have not yet reached retirement.

2011-11-15 Minimize Relationships at Your Peril: A Response to Dan Richards by Amy Florian (Article)

Salespeople who focus on interpersonal relationships are less successful, according to a recent article by Dan Richards, based on research published in the Harvard Business Review. This research is shortsighted and misguided, and its supposed implications for financial advisors deserve close scrutiny.

2011-11-08 An International Perspective on Safe Withdrawal Rates by Wade Pfau (Article)

Prospective retirees must consider whether they are comfortable basing retirement decisions on the impressive but perhaps anomalous numbers found in historical US data. What has been safe for US retirees in the past has been far less secure for their foreign counterparts.

2011-11-08 Is One Better than Three? by Dave Loeper, CIMA, CIMC (Article)

One way to 'juice' a portfolio is by increasing allocations to small- and mid-caps, as one recently published paper contends. But a careful analysis - properly adjusting for risk - shows how that seemingly appealing approach can destroy client wealth.

2011-11-01 A Better Way to do Financial Planning by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Simplicity is dangerous when it comes to financial planning. Easy-to-use tools that project your retirement savings based on minimal inputs such as your income and savings rate amount to a “bait-and-switch,” according to Larry Kotlikoff, a Boston University professor of economics. To properly prepare for retirement, one should focus on maintaining a constant standard of living throughout their life – what economists call consumption smoothing.

2011-11-01 Regulatory Armageddon by Bob Veres (Article)

Suppose you were somehow able to convince 40 advisors, who are all well-known thought leaders in the profession, to gather in the same room for a six-hour brainstorming session. The goal: to identify the single most important thing that the financial planning profession should be thinking about now. What do you think they'd come up with? Fasten your seat belts, because this may be the most important report you'll read all year.

2011-10-25 How to Create Presentations for an iPad by Kristen Luke (Article)

The iPad is an excellent presentation tool. It's light, portable, and clearly made for eye-catching visuals. Here are some tips for ensuring your presentations look their best when viewed on an iPad.

2011-10-18 How to Fix Our Dysfunctional Tax Code by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Give an economist a clean slate, unencumbered by political ideology or allegiance, and charge him or her with designing an ideal tax system. What emerges will look nothing like the dysfunctional personal and corporate tax codes now administered by the IRS. Instead, it could resemble Larry Kotlikoff's 'purple tax plan,' one of five economic reform plans he designed to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans alike.

2011-10-14 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

Low interest rates have certainly hurt savers, even more so those who live on a fixed income. The current bubble in bonds will eventually pop, and many people will be surprised. But this ProVise Bullet is not about the risk in bonds today. Its more about the fact there is some good news as it relates to interest rates. First, mortgage rates are near an all-time low. A 30 year mortgage loan is available at an interest rate slightly above 4% and 15 year mortgage loans have been quoted at just a little under 3.57%. Even the IRS is getting into the act.

2011-10-13 Boomer Demographics: The Shift Ahead by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

I looked at developments in U.S. demographics from 1980 to the present with a focus on the Boomer bulge. Then I examined current day demographics for several major countries around the globe. I've developed a set of population pyramids for the U.S. that start with 1981 and span7 decades at 10-year intervals using the U.S. Census Bureau data. Let's look at some comparative numbers for these seven snapshots. I've calculated the Elderly Dependency Ratios for each. As this ratio shifts higher, the productive population is increasingly burdened by the cost of entitlement programs.

2011-10-07 Rewriting the 4% Rule by Kevin Feldman of iShares Blog

Is there a safer and simpler way to plan retirement distributions? If youve saved more than you need for retirement and can live on 3% plus an inflation adjustment each year, you have the past century of data on your side suggesting that your nest egg will not outlast you. For most of us though, this is an unrealistic drawdown rate, so you will likely need some professional financial planning help to map out a withdrawal plan that meets your retirement goals. Like all rules that try to simplify complex questions, 4% is just thata number, which may or may not be your number.

2011-09-27 Top 10 Websites for Financial Advisors by Various (Article)

In a recent survey conducted in partnership with Cerulli Associates, we asked our audience to list the sources they frequent for investment commentary and content on a regular basis. Here is a list of the top ten.

2011-09-20 Own Your Brand by Kristen Luke (Article)

Your company's brand is too important to not have total control of your logo. Your designer may have created your logo, but you should have full control over these files. This means having appropriate versions for different applications and owning the rights to your logo.

2011-09-06 Predictably Incorrect by Bob Veres (Article)

I had to read through this commentary by behavioral economics researcher Dan Ariely twice before I was willing to draw the obvious conclusion. It's the biggest bunch of hooey I've ever read in the financial planning press.

2011-09-01 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

In the widely anticipated comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at Jackson Hole, WY, he acknowledged that, for a number of reasons, the recession was deeper than originally thought. The recovery has been more modest than he would like, notwithstanding the fact that we have had nine months of economic growth since the recession ended, albeit anemic growth. Unfortunately, the media focused on more of the negative parts of his comments. Fortunately, investors heard optimism. Why did investors see something different than the media?

2011-08-23 The Simplest, Safest Withdrawal Strategy by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Few financial planning topics have garnered as much attention as safe withdrawal rates, but a key question remains unanswered: Can retirees sustain a 4% withdrawal rate with minimal risk? With the recent introduction of 30-year TIPS, the answer is now yes.

2011-08-15 Are We There Yet? The Value Restoration Project Resumes by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

The declines in the stock market over the last three weeks have done a lot of damage to most investors portfolios. This would merely be an inconvenience if it meant that future returns could be expected to be robust enough to compensate for the losses. Investors in the stock market may rightly be viewing this recent decline of about 12% over the last 16 trading days as a painful, but necessary, correction in prices which will once again bring value back to the market.

2011-08-09 America's Tarnished Credit Rating by Bob Veres (Article)

In this letter designed to be sent to clients, Bob Veres explains the impact of S&P's downgrade of the US sovereign debt rating.

2011-08-02 Hitting a Moving Target: Matching Portfolio Risk to Client Expectations by Scott Smith (Article)

Much of the angst faced by investors and advisors over the last several years was caused by mismatched perceptions regarding investors' appetite for portfolio risk. Advisors overestimated the amount of risk investors were comfortable being exposed to within portfolios.

2011-08-02 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

Recently, the Tax Court affirmed a tax deduction a family had taken for the 24 hour supervision needed for an elderly family member. Caregivers were hired-even though they were not licensed healthcare providers-and the family took a tax deduction for the cost of these caregivers. The IRS denied the deduction, but the Tax Court affirmed it. The Court went further by stating that the costs of maintenance and personal care services could qualify as a medical expense if a healthcare professional certifies that at least two of the six activities of daily living cannot be done without assistance.

2011-07-19 Sorting Out the Annuity Puzzle by Joseph A. Tomlinson (Article)

Why do so few people buy annuities? Economic theory would predict robust demand for this financial product, especially as the workforce ages, but the reality is quite the reverse. Most efforts to explain this have focused on buyer behavior. But to better understand the annuity puzzle, we need to study the sellers.

2011-07-19 Retirement Planning and Worst-Case Scenarios by Wade Pfau (Article)

New research suggests that skepticism in a 4% safe withdrawal rate (SWR) is well justified. It is perhaps due to good luck that American retirees have not yet experienced a withdrawal rate below 4%. But a better approach than worrying about SWRs is to focus on the savings rate needed to meet your retirement spending goals, not on what the safe withdrawal rate is.

2011-07-12 Harold Evensky on the New Rules for Wealth Management by Robert Huebscher (Article)

If you don't have a copy of The New Wealth Management on your bookshelf, you should. From gauging the risk tolerance of your clients to measuring the performance of their portfolios, this book provides comprehensive guidance for virtually every aspect of a financial advisory practice. Harold Evensky, the lead author, spoke with me last week and highlighted some key themes in the newly released second edition.

2011-07-08 Golub Group Quarterly Commentary by Michael Golub of The Golub Group

What does it take to achieve a secure retirement?  We all have many goals, financial and otherwise, but securing a comfortable retirement is one we all share. It doesn’t matter if we are in our twenties and just beginning our professional lives or if we have already been enjoying retirement for 20 years.  What does matter is, have you defined what is important to you, what you will need, what you want it to look like?  Have you done a thorough assessment of your current situation and what you’re doing to improve it?  The time to start thinking, planning, and acting on this is NOW.

2011-07-05 The Chinese Black Swan by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Party rulers in China are trapped in a position that chess players deeply fear - zugzwang - where any move make puts you at disadvantage. In China, the cost of both action and inaction is potential economic collapse.

2011-06-28 How to Get in Front of High-net Worth Prospects by Dan Richards (Article)

Last week, I got a call from an advisor who used a simple idea to set up meetings with three $2 million prospects. This advisor used some research from one of my recent columns to jumpstart conversations about critical issues for the wealthy.

2011-06-28 Letter to the Editor: Equity-Indexed Annuities by Various (Article)

A reader responds to our article, Fantasy-world Returns for Equity Indexed Annuities, which appeared May 31.

2011-06-07 Letters to the Editor - Equity-Indexed Annuities by Various (Article)

A number of readers responded to Robert Huebscher's article, Fantasy-world Returns for Equity Indexed Annuities, which appeared last week.

2011-05-31 Fantasy-world Returns for Equity Indexed Annuities by Robert Huebscher (Article)

When research fails to meet the basic standards of academic rigor, its conclusions should be questioned. One such case is a recent paper, Real-World Index Annuity Returns, whose conclusions you should trust at your own risk.

2011-05-25 Making Sense of Gold by Frank Wei of FundQuest

After being neglected, gold has been on a spectacular run since the beginning of the new century. As compared to the struggling stock market of the past decade, the run looks even more impressive. Meanwhile, with its popularity as an investment on the rise, many investment vehicles such as gold ETFs have been created and introduced to the investor public. Formerly dealt with by central banks and large institutional investors exclusively, gold is now more available as an investment for average retail investors. The following commentary will examine several key aspects of gold as an investment.

2011-05-03 P/E: Future on the Horizon by Ed Easterling (Article)

Most people expect P/E to measure current valuation and to show historical patterns. But more features are available from some versions of P/E. The methodology behind the Crestmont P/E enables investors to anticipate the future. It may not precisely predict the market ten years away, but it frames within a relatively tight range the likely outcome. One component from determining the Crestmont P/E is a means to assess the future trend line for EPS using estimates of future economic growth (GDP).

2011-04-26 How to Take Advantage of the CFP Awareness Campaign by Kristen Luke (Article)

If you are a CFP, you will be directly affected by the Let's Make a Plan campaign, even if you take a passive role. Those who take a more active role can use the toolkit provided by the CFP Board to promote themselves in local markets. Here's what's entailed and what you can personally do to take advantage of the campaign.

2011-04-26 When is a Fiduciary not a Fiduciary? by Jeffrey Briskin (Article)

You would think every investment professional who claims to be acting in a fiduciary capacity for his or her clients understands exactly what that entails. But the results of a recent survey of brokers and RIAs indicates that many apply their own personal 'fiduciary litmus test' when determining where these responsibilities start and end.

2011-04-20 Understanding Your Capital by Doug Short of Doug Short

For many years financial planners embraced the image of a three-legged stool to explain sources of retirement income: Social Security, Pensions, Personal Savings. Of course, as we all know, for most people the stool now has only two legs, making it a rather wobbly support. Over the past few decades, private pensions have essentially disappeared. They may still be available for government and some union employees, but pensions in the world of private business are generally available only to a shrinking number of older workers who were grandfathered into a now closed system.

2011-04-12 What Facebook's New Features Mean for your Business by Kristen Luke (Article)

In March, Facebook changed how business pages can interact with other Facebook users. Most notably, a new feature called 'Use Facebook as a Page' allows business to 'like' and comment on other users.

2011-03-22 No Shortcuts to Greatness by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Nothing defined Alan Greenspan's tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank more than his wholehearted embrace of capitalism. According to a current Fed governor, however, both Greenspan's Fed and the Fed today have not been the stalwarts of capitalism that the Maestro believed them to be.

2011-03-22 Japan Update by Bob Veres (Article)

This letter, suitable for sending to clients, explains the consequences of the tragedy in Japan and how investors should gauge its economic impact.

2011-03-18 The Southern Classic IRC, A Reason for Ben Graham to Smile & Can Share Prices Diverge from Value? by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The belief that share prices can at times diverge from underlying business value is the driving force behind security analysis as practiced by active investment managers. My example is not to lay out a case to buy or sell shares of IBM. Instead, it is to look at the value the market has placed on IBM over many years and let you decide if the price has diverged from the value of IBM as a business. To be fair, and to honor the many professional investors and students of investing who do not believe in active management, I at least need to give you their beliefs.

2011-03-15 Margin Shrinkage - It Can Happen to You by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Profit margins are a tick away from all-time highs and are creating the impression of cheap equity valuations. But that impression is a mirage, because today's generous margins are destined to shrink.

2011-03-01 Understanding Variable Annuities with GMWBs by Robert Huebscher (Article)

It's very tempting: a variable annuity with minimum lifetime payout that can increase - but never decrease - based on market performance. That temptation comes in the form of an increasingly popular variable annuity rider known as a guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefit. We explain the flaws in a widely publicized study by Morningstar/Ibbotson, and provide our own analysis of the product.

2011-03-01 The Real Flaws – A response to 'Understanding Variable Annuities with GMWBs' by Peng Chen (Article)

Peng Chen challenges our analysis of variable annuities with guaranteed minimum withdrawal benefits.

2011-02-22 Toward an Understanding of Risk - Part 2 by Robert Huebscher (Article)

How should clients think about risk in their portfolios? Advisor Perspectives put that question to a cross-section of prominent advisors and academics. Their answers encompassed diverse opinions and underscored how crucial that question is to the investment process. In part one of this series, which appeared last week, we heard from seven practitioners in the financial planning community. This week, we hear from seven well-known academics, including two Nobel Prize winners.

2011-02-15 Toward an Understanding of Risk by Robert Huebscher (Article)

How should clients think about risk in their portfolios? Advisor Perspectives put that question to a cross-section of prominent advisors and academics. Their answers encompassed diverse opinions and underscored how crucial that question is to the investment process.

2011-02-15 David Laibson on the Hidden Challenges of Aging Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

In this interview, Harvard economist David Laibson discusses his research into the challenges of helping elderly clients with their financial planning. He also discusses how to overcome the procrastination and laziness that often result in inferior investment decisions. This is a transcript of the interview.

2011-02-14 Bernanke on the Hot Seat by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Why is the Fed taking so much flak? Is this a subtle way to criticize the Administration indirectly? If so, the critics will get their due, since the Fed's policies appear to be helping the economy gather some momentum. The inflation outlook remains benign, while growth is picking up. The critics will be the ones with some explaining to do, while Bernanke is working to earn a reputation for the history books for dealing with the credit crisis and promoting recovery.

2011-02-07 Inflation Noise by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Investors are being distracted by the rise in commodity prices, which is being taken as an indication that inflation pressures are building. Unfortunately, that's just not the case. Some rise in inflation would be welcomed by the Fed, but it remains somewhere off beyond the visible horizon, even as economic growth prospects continue to brighten.

2011-01-24 Weapons of Mass Poverty by Mark Elliott of Elliott Asset Management

Modern financial management dogmas may be fundamentally, terminally, and irreparably flawed – and may be key ingredients in modern asset bubbles. I believe what could be the most serious catastrophe to face retirees and other investors since The Great Depression may be currently underway and, as in past recent financial catastrophes, most investors and financial “professionals” will fail to act – despite what appears to be clear writing on the wall.

2011-01-11 Tactical Asset Allocation and Market Timing: What's the Difference? by Nancy Opiela (Article)

Why is it that the industry dismisses significant changes to portfolio allocations as "market timing" transactions but embraces the subtler "tactical shifts" many advisors are making in the current, transitional market? As advisors debate the nuances of that question, the more relevant question may be: How would you respond if a client asked you to explain the difference between market timing and tactical asset allocation?

2010-12-28 The Squam Lake Report: Reforming the Financial System by Dougal Williams (Article)

Ken French and Robert Shiller were among a group of leading economists who, in the fall of 2008, convened what was to become known as the Squam Lake Group. Their recently released and much-talked about book offers its authors' collective best answer to a defining question of our day.

2010-12-14 What the Music Business Taught Me about Selling by Justin Locke (Article)

You provide a service to each of your clients, some of whom may have similar needs but all of whom are unique. Asking your clients what more you could be doing for them is the only way to make sure you're offering the advice they truly want.

2010-12-14 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to our article, Black Gold, Texas Tea, which appeared on November 30.

2010-11-30 QE2: Beware the Perils of its Success by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

QE2 is like a drug prescription that comes with a list of side effects that are often worse than the disease it was supposed to cure. It is difficult to know the unintended consequences of QE2, but it may result in a substantial decline in the dollar, stagflation, lower economic growth and much higher interest rates.

2010-11-16 A Reading List for 2010: Part 2 by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Updated for 2010 and in time for the holidays, here is the latest installment of my recommended books. I originally wrote this list in 2008 and again last year. I intend to keep adding to and revising it every year. It contains seven sections: Selling, Think Like an Investor, Behavioral Investing, Economics, Stock Market History, Risk and Books for the Soul. The first three sections were presented last week and the remaining four are presented here.

2010-11-12 Analyzing China's Banking Sector Reform by Richard Gao of Matthews Asia

China's banking reform has effectively transformed its state-owned banks into commercial banks running under international practices.

2010-11-09 A Reading List for 2010 by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Updated for 2010 and in time for the holidays, here is the latest installment of my recommended books. I originally wrote this list in 2008 and again last year. I intend to keep adding to and revising it every year. It contains seven sections: Selling, Think Like an Investor, Behavioral Investing, Economics, Stock Market History, Risk and Books for the Soul. The first three sections are presented below and the remaining four will be presented next week.

2010-11-09 The Most Neglected Marketing Principle by Kristen Luke (Article)

Often, advisors lack a strategy for following up with prospects if they are not immediately interested in hiring your firm. As the authors of a recent book state, "81% of sales that close, close on or after the fifth contact." It is imperative that you integrate a follow-up strategy in your marketing plan.

2010-11-02 Four New Ways to Beef Up Your LinkedIn Profile by Kristen Luke (Article)

If you have logged into LinkedIn in the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed some new changes. The professional networking site has new sections for individual profiles, and Kristen Luke explains how to use them.

2010-11-01 Big Happenings by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Interest rates are at historically low levels because households are still pouring cash into bond funds, while stock market valuations are low because retail investors can't handle the volatility and they keep pulling cash out of equities. So despite all the uncertainty, much of which is normal anyway, stocks offer value, while bonds have very limited investment potential. While uncertainty remains, the bet seems highly asymmetric in favor of equities.

2010-10-26 Hope is Not a Strategy by John West of Research Affiliates

Most pension funds and 401(k) calculators assume total returns in the 7-8 percent range. Is this assumption realistic, however, with a mature economy saddled with unprecedented debt levels and an aging workforce? This commentary examines retirement plan assumptions and calculates that we can reach this return level only if we assume top quartile results for stocks, bonds, and alternatives over the next 10 years. That's like expecting a decade of sunshine in the markets.

2010-10-25 Strategies for Low Interest Rates by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Investors continue to buy bonds, today's hot product, while companies continue to satisfy this frenzy by selling new issues at every opportunity. One side of this trade must be wrong. Since such borrowing is so extraordinarily attractive for companies, investors must be accepting far more risk than they appreciate. Despite the litany of issues that anyone can provide on the economy's travails, corporate earnings continue to beat estimates and the equity market's valuation remains cheap.

2010-10-19 Developed Markets and Capitalism in Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)

We are not in a globalized world today, according to Ian Bremmer. "The state is back," said the 40-year old president and founder of Eurasia Group, a political consulting firm. Both in the U.S. and throughout the world, governments are exerting their influence through regulation, trade restriction, subsidies, and bailouts, and are threatening the nature of free markets.

2010-10-19 Bernanke's Impossible Dilemma by Robert Huebscher (Article)

David Wessel, economics editor of the Wall Street Journal, examines the challenge Ben Bernanke faces. His goal is to provide full employment and price stability. Yet he faces a slowly growing economy, unemployment close to 10%, consumers deleveraging and spending frugally, renewed fears of banking system instability, and the threat of an asset bubble is growing somewhere in the markets. Monetary and fiscal policy options have been seemingly exhausted, and the public is losing confidence in all aspects of government.

2010-10-18 Thoughts About Bernanke and the Fed by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Conditions for stock market gains remain intact, even if the pace of recovery remains below preferred levels. Growth at a moderate pace will be sufficient for corporate profits to remain on a solid upward trajectory. Interest rates and inflation remain very low and are likely to remain so for an 'extended period of time,' so the pricing of bonds implies a meaningfully higher equilibrium valuation for equities. And if policy proves successful in increasing growth, fears of a double-dip would be vanquished and forecasts of rising profits would become more believable.

2010-10-12 Does Your Marketing Match Your Business Structure? by Kristen Luke (Article)

Marketing strategies differ depending on the structure of a firm, writes Kristen Luke. Solos and silos focus on marketing the individual advisor while ensembles market the firm. Ensembles also tend to have more sophisticated marketing campaigns since they generally have larger marketing budgets and higher revenue streams.

2010-10-12 The Perfect Storm: Threat or Opportunity by Dinesh Sharma and Michelle Goldstein (Article)

Our primary client base, baby-boomers, is quickly sliding into retirement, leaving us to question where our growth will come from. And now we have the uncertainty surrounding the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the anxiety that comes with it. Financial advisors can choose to see the convergence of these factors as a threat to their well-being or as an opportunity to prosper.

2010-10-11 Don't Fight the Fed, II by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The economic expansion remains disappointing, but stocks continue to rally. Why? Corporate profits remain on a strong upward trajectory, while financial conditions remain extraordinarily supportive, courtesy of a Fed committed to insuring a stronger economy. Both factors should contribute to continued gains over the coming months.

2010-10-04 Stocks Get No Respect by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The ink is hardly dry on September and discussions are already turning to the poor historical performance of October. As billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper notes, however, forces are strongly aligned to move stock prices higher. Valuations remain low, policy remains focused on ensuring a solid recovery, corporate balance sheets have been repaired and are now flush with cash that continues to expand at a rapid pace, and key sectors are still operating below replacement rates.

2010-10-01 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

A variety of topics are discussed, including market performance during September, the competition to be recognized as the top-rated college, Larry Summers' resignation, and the reaction to France's proposed austerity plan.

2010-09-28 Unraveling the 12b-1 Debate by Robert Huebscher (Article)

The SEC has proposed sweeping changes to the way commission-based advisors will be compensated for the services they provide. Those changes will rename and modify the 12b-1 fees that many mutual funds now charge. To understand their impact, we spoke with Avi Nachmany of NY-based Strategic Insight, whose clients include the largest mutual funds.

2010-09-27 Want People to Save? Force Them by Dan Ariely of Predictably Irrational

Institutionally, Chile has cracked an age-old problem with annuities. By law, 11 percent of every Chilean employee's salary is automatically transferred into a retirement account. When employees retire, their savings are converted into annuities. By pooling risk, the Chilean government makes annuities an attractive business with more competition and better prices. And since everyone is forced to annuitize, the adverse selection problem that normally afflicts insurance providers simply disappears.

2010-09-27 The Bubble in Bonds by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Bonds can play an important role in diversifying a portfolio. The current bubble in bond values, however, places excessive stress on that benefit. Today's yields don't make sense to investors. While the Fed needs to keep interest rates at low levels to strengthen the pace of recovery, investors who flee stocks for the 'safety' of bonds will get hammered. Those who are not distracted by the equity market's volatility and focus on its exceptional current value relative to its long-term prospects will be handsomely rewarded.

2010-09-20 Stay in the Pocket by John Petrides (Article)

Those with a long-term investment time horizon should be considering stocks right now, due to the market's long-term capital appreciation potential. With regard to fixed income, investors should first consider active management versus passive (bond funds), and should consider income sources from other areas, such as REITs and MLPs, rather than just bonds for income, as well as diversifying their holdings among corporate, high yield, convertible and floating rate bonds.

2010-09-14 What the Taylor Rule Says about Interest Rates by Charlie Curnow (Article)

The Taylor Rule, a widely cited forecasting tool, predicts that the current inflation rate of 1.2 percent and the unemployment rate of 9.6 percent will keep the target federal funds rate in the range of -3.5 to -4.5 percent. We report on a presentation last week by an official at the Boston Federal Reserve Bank.

2010-09-13 It's Time for Tax Cuts, Not Tax Hikes by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The Obama Administration is considering extending the Bush tax cuts except for families with income above $250,000, as well as offering some tax cuts for business to spur investment spending. The Administration's proposed extensions of the Bush tax cuts, especially if augmented by more favorable depreciation allowances to encourage capital spending, are pro-growth. It is therefore surprising that the Administration would undermine the benefits of such proposals by failing to extend the Bush tax cuts for all households.

2010-09-07 It's the Economy, Stupid by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Stocks are so totally out of favor, any excuse will suffice to justify investing elsewhere. Such rationalizations can overcome depressed equity valuations and record low bond yields, at least until the market rallies and investors suddenly confront that new reality. But the key is the economy. If growth is sustained, stocks have enormous upside.

2010-08-31 Double ‘Bubble,’ Toil and Trouble by Sam Bass (Article)

The latest economic prophecy, which has gripped investors' fears for the past three years and counting, is that a 'bubble' in US Treasury bonds is about to burst. Hyperinflation is just around the corner, the prediction goes, and US Treasury bonds, driven up in price to record levels by unprecedented policy measures, are about to crash. In this guest contribution, Sam Bass writes that advisors shouldn't follow the advice of these "seers."

2010-08-30 In Need of Reassurance by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Fed Chairman Bernanke's statement at the FRB Kansas City Jackson Hole conference didn't reveal anything new, or suggest any change in monetary policy, but it was nonetheless reassuring to a market fearful of a double-dip recession. Most importantly, Bernanke stated quite clearly that he remains committed to insuring an economic recovery, which should hardly be a surprise. And yet, this was taken as good news. Investors anticipate economic problems, despite the fundamentally stronger state of business and financial market conditions.

2010-08-24 What Investors Really Want by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Using a mean-variance optimizer to construct a retirement portfolio that sits on the efficient frontier is tantamount to dining on a well-prepared meal that was pureed in a blender, believes Meir Statman, a professor of finance at Santa Clara University. Statman's research focuses on behavioral finance, and how advisors can help investors make smarter decisions.

2010-08-17 A Proven Path to Gaining Client Assets by Dan Richards (Article)

When Dan Richards talks to successful advisors about their business objectives, for most increasing assets is at the top of their list. Some advisors mistakenly believe, though, that winning a greater share of assets from existing clients is driven by performance.

2010-08-17 Letters to the Editor: Harold Evensky, et. al. by Various (Article)

Our letters to the Editor include three responses to articles in last week's issue from Harold Evensky of Florida-based Evensky & Katz.

2010-08-10 Zvi Bodie on Stocks and Annuities in Retirement by Dan Richards (Article)

In this interview, retirement expert Zvi Bodie discusses the role of stocks and annuities in a retirement portfolio, and how advisors and clients should think about risk. This is the transcript of the interview.

2010-07-30 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

The two most important aspects of the financial reform bill: (1) Congress told the SEC to come up with rules for a common version for a standard of care when providing personalized investment advice to individuals; making everyone (financial planners, stockbrokers, insurance agents, etc.) who provide these types of services do so with a fiduciary standard of care; (2) a mandate from Congress to the GAO to do a six month study about the regulation of financial planning as a distinct business. Recent data on retirement readiness is summarized and several other topics are covered.

2010-07-26 Back to Even and Still Bullish by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The equity market has recovered to being even for the year to date, overcoming a possible credit crisis in Greece and Europe, as well as fears of a double-dip recession at home. While the economic outlook is 'unusually uncertain,' it is the pace of the recovery that is most subject to question, more than its sustainability. Notwithstanding these concerns, corporate profits continue to increase at a solid pace, cash is accumulating, and stocks have become cheap. This offers an excellent entry point for investors, who are able to hang in despite the market's volatility.

2010-07-20 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 5 – Become an Expert by Kristen Luke (Article)

In her series on low-budget marketing for startup RIA firms, Kristen Luke discusses how to become an expert in your market niche.

2010-07-19 Sovereign Risks by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Fitch upgraded Argentina's bonds to B (stable) from Default last week, a rather questionable decision. Argentina and a few others belong in a special class, recidivist sovereign borrowers who default on a regular basis after they've lured new lenders to provide them with fresh money. It makes little sense to upgrade Argentina and downgrade Greece because the latter country's budget cutbacks are not politically popular. It is doubtful Argentina will act responsibly any time soon.

2010-07-13 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 2 – Craft Your Message by Kristen Luke (Article)

As part of her series on low-budget marketing for startup RIA firms, Kristen Luke discusses how to craft your message.

2010-07-13 A Marketing Guide for RIAs: Part 3 – Build a Website by Kristen Luke (Article)

Kristen Luke discusses the steps to take to build your website.

2010-07-12 It's a Slow Grind by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Economic growth in the U.S. is only moderate, which is inadequate to bring down unemployment at a satisfactory pace, even as a double-dip recession remains highly unlikely. It's easy to recognize the problems with the economy, while overlooking the positives. But there's a critical distinction often lost between the unsatisfactory current state of economic affairs and the improving direction. Given time, economic growth should accelerate and lift the economy to a solid state of health.

2010-07-09 July 2010 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

Evensky & Katz president Harold Evensky doesn't know about you, but he's getting tired of living in interesting times. Unfortunately the market gods don't much care for his opinion. So, given the reality that the markets have been a tad exciting lately, in addition to his regular meandering tidbits, he's included a number of items that he thought might provide a little perspective on the ranting of the financial talking heads.

2010-07-07 Lebron James and Earnings Season by Charles Lieberman (Article)

It appears that everyone is reducing their expectations for the economy. The stock market, a discounting mechanism, is responding accordingly and suggesting that analyst's 2011 earnings expectations are too high. However, the market is now trading at a price-to-earnings multiple near that of March 2009 market lows, when the structure of the global economy was in question, the credit markets were still frozen, and corporate balance sheets had not yet begun being repaired, a far cry from where we are today. This does not seem appropriate.

2010-07-02 Employment Report: Just Fair by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Job growth continued in June, but not enough to support the idea that the economy is still gathering speed, but also not weak enough to indicate a double dip recession. One month’s data is insufficient to suggest the trend of accelerating growth is truly broken, but the economy ought to be getting stronger and this payroll employment doesn't show that.

2010-06-29 Timber as an Asset Class: If a Tree Falls in the Forest, Should you Buy It? by Charlie Curnow (Article)

"If the sun shines and it rains, the trees grow about on schedule," wrote Jeremy Grantham, chairman of Boston-based investment firm GMO, in his quarterly newsletter in April 2007. Grantham's enthusiasm for timber, which remains true to this day, may be excessive, despite the fact that, on the surface, historical data seems to support his optimism. If a tree falls in the forest, should you buy it?

2010-06-28 Are We Greece or Are We Japan? by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Does the US economy have more in common with Japan, whose longstanding economic troubles have had disastrous results, or with Greece, whose lack of fiscal responsibility is causing the country to face an economic Judgment Day? Dr. Charles Lieberman argues that our situation is not as dire as either of these nations, as long as we continue to rein in the budget and see increasing job growth.

2010-06-22 Inexpensive Protection Against Rising Rates by Geoff Considine, Ph.D. (Article)

As is too often the case, the biggest risks are those that we discount. The possibility of a surge in interest rates appears to be today's ignored risk, despite the warnings of many experts, including David Einhorn, Bill Gross, and Seth Klarman. We discuss an inexpensive strategy to protect your portfolios from the tail risk of rising rates.

2010-06-21 Why Own Gold? by John Petrides (Article)

Buyers of gold assume that a buyer will materialize who is willing to pay more for their shiny rock than they did. For this reason, buying gold is the epitome of a speculative investment. How does one value gold, from a fundamental standpoint? The conceptual answer is to match supply with demand and an equilibrium price is created, but how does one measure supply? Well, gold is mined, so that is one part of the equation, but what about holders such as central banks and investors, who keep the shiny rock in their vaults? How is that level of supply factored into the equation?

2010-06-15 Strategy Advice from Apple and Google by Dan Richards (Article)

Last week Dan Richards conducted a webinar focused on the key decision that will drive advisors' long term success. Richards talks about what advisors can learn from the success of Apple, Google, Coke and Walmart.

2010-06-14 The Wisdom of Peter Lynch by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Peter Lynch once recounted how he was forced to stop reading the papers over the weekend because the doom and gloom depressed him so much that he was unable to make any investments on Monday. Charles Lieberman of Advisors Capital Management knows how he felt. If we believe the news, Greece will default and the euro is at risk of falling apart, while the housing market is about to weaken once again. Fortunately, none of these popular views holds up to scrutiny. Our recovery may be weak relative to prior recoveries following deep recessions, but it is still gathering momentum.

2010-06-08 What’s Driving Investment Management Outsourcing? by Northern Trust Investments (Article)

Advisors who fully outsource their investment management want to free time for clients and grow their practice. But, as Northern Trust Investments' research explores, not all advisors are comfortable with full outsourcing. We thank Northern Trust for their sponsorship.

2010-06-07 Decoupling by John Petrides (Article)

The investment community is fixated on the tangled fiscal and monetary web within the European Union and losing sight of the recovery underway in the U.S. economy. One might say the U.S. and Asian economies are decoupling from European markets. In 2007 and 2008, decoupling allowed the global economy, led by Brazil, Russia, India, and China, to grow without the U.S. Now it appears that the European economy has decoupled and is mired in its own recession apart from the rest of the world.

2010-05-17 Why Be Bullish? by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Investors are nervous that Greece and Europe's need to restrain fiscal policy could spill over and cause a double dip recession in the United States. While that isn't impossible, it is highly unlikely. The U.S. economy is building momentum and derailing the expansion is quickly becoming difficult. Fundamentals also strongly suggest an improving economy. Thus, rather than weakness in Europe undermining domestic growth, it is far more likely that a healthier economy in the U.S. and in Asia will spill over to help the Europeans.

2010-05-11 Talking to Clients about Expected Returns by Dan Richards (Article)

Of all the assumptions that go into clients' retirement plans, none has a bigger impact than the expected return on their investments, says Dan Richards. That number determines how much investors need to save, when they can afford to retire and the kind of lifestyle they can anticipate. Richards provides a context for discussing expected returns with clients.

2010-05-10 Europe Fires the Bazooka by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Greece's risk of default has the potential to disrupt markets globally, depressing stock and most commodity markets, while pushing the safest bonds, Treasuries, to artificially high values. With Greece as a possible disruptive force to global capital markets, the Fed will be hesitant to raise rates. Moreover, restrictive fiscal policies in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the U.K. will weaken U.S. exports to Europe. While a less expansion oriented monetary policy will still be needed in the U.S., it will come later given the disruptive forces from Europe that will restrain global growth.

2010-05-07 Greece and Possible Contagion by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The equity market melted down yesterday, partly due to a trading error, but also out of fear of contagion from Greece to Spain and Portugal. Europeans will need to draw a line in the sand to prevent the possibility of contagion, or risk a broad loss of liquidity across Europe. A strong policy response, possibly including a European Union guarantee on the sovereign debt of all its members, as well as support for the European credit markets from the European Central Bank, should calm the markets. Markets will remain quite volatile until these key players take strong policy action.

2010-05-03 Is the Economic Recovery for Real? by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Friday's employment report will help shed light on whether the economic recovery is sustainable. The pickup in consumer spending and business investment so far is very good news, but unless that spending translates into job growth, the gains in GDP will not last. Without job growth, households will lack the income to increase spending and business will soon find that sales are weakening again. The early signs are excellent. But until we see a number of months of job gains, it is inappropriate to think the expansion is well-established.

2010-04-28 Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Fiduciary Duty by Michael J. Schussele of Michael J. Schussele, CPA

While the campaign to establish a fiduciary standard is commendable in that it could establish fiduciary responsibility for advisors, the fiduciary standard is not the same as professional fiduciary duty. Fiduciary responsibility assumes unavoidable conflicts of interest, while professional fiduciary duty does not tolerate any conflicts of interest at all. It is time to clearly delineate who is who, to have salesmen and advisory salesmen regulated by the SEC and FINRA, and to have true fee-only professional advisors regulated by an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

2010-04-27 The Four Horsemen of Growth: David Kelly’s Guide to Markets by Katie Southwick (Article)

With unprecedented volatility now largely behind us, J.P. Morgan's Chief Investment Strategist David Kelly believes that the economy is entering a period of recovery. To move forward, we must abandon our negative mindsets and focus on opportunities for expansion.

2010-04-26 Stocks Still Have Limited Downside by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Stock valuations are still reasonable and they are getting cheaper, despite the market rally. Profits are rebounding strongly and economic growth is still in the early stages of an expansion. With unemployment still at 9.7 percent, the economy and corporate profits have considerable upside and it will take some years for the economy to revert to a normal level. Any slide in stock prices would provide an opportunity for investors who have missed the rally a chance to get in, which implies only limited downside for stocks at this time.

2010-04-20 The Random Walk Spoiled: A Flawed Assumption for Long-term Equity Portfolio Simulation by Manish Malhotra (Article)

To optimize portfolios, the investment and wealth management industry still assumes a random walk of prices when running long-term simulations of equity portfolios, despite plenty of existing research pointing to serial dependency in returns, writes Manish Malhorta in this guest contribution. The random walk assumption for equities gives results that are counterintuitive and unobservable in practice. He recommends against using it.

2010-04-19 Goldman, as Scapegoat by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Goldman's crime, which appears to be more of a technicality than the kind of truly nasty crimes that were being committed by some financial market players, seems to be targeting the name, not the crime. This suggests it is more of a show event, perhaps in anticipation of the elections, than a real effort to punish miscreants, such as lenders at Countrywide or New Century. This show may fill the media over the coming months and quarters, but fortunately, it will not derail the economic recovery.

2010-04-05 Houston, We Have Ignition by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The final and most important missing link in the economic recovery is now falling into place. Job growth has resumed. While we should not jump to strong conclusions based on a single economic report, the underlying trends and supporting data all reinforce the same inference that the economy is back on a growth track. The economic recovery trajectory is likely to further improve in the coming months as job growth feeds into household income and confidence in order to support more spending. This month we have ignition. Next month, we may have liftoff.

2010-03-29 I'm Entitled by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Greece's budget problems reflect the willingness of the government to pay workers wages and benefits that exceed the willingness of citizens to pay taxes. The simple lesson is that governments cannot promise benefits without considering their cost. It is therefore disappointing that the U.S. government chose to create a new healthcare entitlement program at a time when it is already running high budget deficits. Markets are not ready to stop financing U.S. budget deficits right now, but this may become a problem down the road.

2010-03-23 The Best Books on Passive Investing by Indudeep Chhachhi & Edward R. Wolfe (Article)

Two finance professors, Edward Wolfe and Indu Chhachhi, survey the literature on passive investing and offer their recommendations for authors and books. Whichever side of the active-passive debate you take, these books should be required reading. The evolution through which the literature on passive investing has gone is striking. Early writers started out with a point to prove: that passive investing is the only way to invest that makes sense. Today, the writing in this area has moved beyond "proving a point" to expanding on what is a settled issue.

2010-03-22 Sex Sells... And So Does Fear by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Household confidence remains low, despite evidence that the economy has been growing for three quarters. Negative interpretations of data are given too much credibility and attention, and investors continue to pour money into bonds while avoiding stocks. Markets, however, tend to move ahead of perceptions. Just as the stock market began to recover in March 2009 before the economic recovery was evident, the market will now continue to recover in anticipation of the resumption of job growth and a self-sustaining expansion. Confidence surveys will follow suit.

2010-03-16 The New Investment Paradigm: Graham Meets Markowitz by Bob Veres (Article)

Broadly speaking, the financial services industry has been divided into two competing paradigms since roughly 1950. One, articulated by Harry Markowitz, suggests advisors add value through diversified portfolios optimized along the efficient frontier. The other, advocated by Benjamin Graham, says advisors add value by purchasing assets at prices less than their fair value. Bob Veres reconciles those views and describes the New Paradigm that has emerged.

2010-03-15 Getting Healthy by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Investors expect a slow recovery, partly because they believe that households and firms must rebuild finances and improve their financial health before they can spend once again. Main Street is getting healthier, as household wealth recovers and people pay down debt. Corporate America is far ahead and has already greatly improved its condition. And soon, companies will start hiring, which will enable households to reinforce the economic recovery.

2010-03-08 What a Difference a Year Makes by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Many investors are dismayed they missed out on the dramatic market rebound off the lows of March 9, 2009. Many investors are now looking to sell their stocks, if they hadn't already bailed out a year ago. Equity valuations seem quite reasonable, however, despite the sharp rise in stock prices over the past 12 months. Lieberman predicts GDP growth of 3.5 to 4 percent in 2010, implying profits of more than $80 for the S&P, and possibly as high as $85, compared to the consensus estimates of 2.5 percent growth and $75 in earnings.

2010-03-01 M&A is Back by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Mergers and acquisitions are back, but unlike the wave of deals in 2005 and 2006, these new M&As are strategic rather than financial. They are initiated by companies within the same industry that seek complementary businesses or overlapping activity where cost-cutting can significantly increase competitiveness. Implicit in these new deals is that stocks are cheap and firms have enough confidence in their outlooks to proceed with acquisitions.

2010-02-22 Getting Back to Normal by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The Federal Reserve's hike of the discount rate was a message that economic and financial conditions are returning to normal, and that interest rates must follow suit. Real rate hikes will not occur for another few quarters, and policy should remain accommodative for a long time. Economic growth should continue to build, and the outlook for stocks remains very positive. Bond yields should also rise gradually over time.

2010-02-16 It's the Budget, Not the European Union at Risk by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The Greek government will likely use continued membership in the European monetary union as an excuse to raise taxes or cut spending, while the rest of Europe will help Greece stay in the common currency. Restrictive fiscal policies in Greece, as well as Ireland, Portugal and Spain will lead Europe to lag behind the global economic recovery.

2010-02-09 6 Ways to Make the Most of your Web Site by Nancy Opiela (Article)

Whether your web site is an online brochure to attract prospects or tool to enhance client communication, small changes can generate big returns. Even if your site already has the right look and feel, here are six ways it can still be improved.

2010-02-09 Transforming Your Business with an Integrated Solution by Marie Swift (Article)

Marie Swift evaluates the various systems and processes that are kicked-off at a typical firm from one of the most common client interactions - an inbound call. Many firms work with disparate software systems and utilize far too many manual tasks - resulting in duplicate data entry and poor customer service. Conversely, Marie evaluates this same scenario utilizing an integrated software and services solution, Tamarac Advisor 9, and finds dramatic gains in efficiency, accuracy and overall firm profitability. We thank Tamarac for their sponsorship.

2010-02-09 China’s Quest for a Shortcut to Greatness by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

The Chinese economy must be getting out of control, because the Chinese government is doing the unthinkable: It is desperately trying to put the brakes on its economy. Author and fund manager Vitaliy Katsenelson looks back at how China got into this trouble and looks forward to China's prospects.

2010-02-08 Another (Half) Step Forward by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The economy continues to gain momentum as GDP grows and inflation stays low, says Charles Lieberman of Advisors Capital. Households will resume spending as real incomes rise and businesses will hire to meet rising demand, but turmoil in Greek markets could signal trouble ahead in Europe.

2010-02-02 Return Distributions and the Shiller P/E Ratio by Keith C. Goddard, CFA (Article)

Keith Goddard expands on ideas developed by Joe Tomlinson in a series of recent articles on the topic of the Shiller P/E Ratio as a predictor of future returns in the stock market. Specifically, this article looks at the distribution of three-year returns in the stock market following different starting points for the Shiller P/E ratio to illustrate that the historical distribution of rolling three-year returns in the stock market is not random.

2010-02-02 Who will Pay for the Burlington Acquisition? by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

According to investment manager Vitaliy Katsenelson, Warren Buffett overpaid in Berkshire's acquisition of Burlington Northern. He states, "Though I agree with Buffett's assessment of the Kraft-Cadbury deal, I fear that investors and media are completely ignoring Berkshire's own, $30-billion-plus acquisition of a very cyclical, capital-intensive, not terrifically high-return-on-capital business - Burlington Northern."

2010-02-02 More Government in the Financial Sector to Save Capitalism by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

In this article, Vitaliy Katsenelson argues that, despite his free market bias, the "too big to fail" banks will benefit from tighter regulation.

2010-02-01 Well, Better Late than Never by John Petrides (Article)

The author supports the reconfirmation of Bernanke as Fed Chairman, but warns that investor unease about policy decisions is justified.

2010-01-30 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

This client-oriented letter comments on a number of financial planning topics: the benefits of marriage (men now benefit more than women), the rise in scams due to low interest rates, the implications of volatility and how individual investors should view the market, new proposals for 401(k) plans, and a few others.

2010-01-25 Keep Focus on the Recovery by Charles Lieberman (Article)

“... we must keep close tabs on the machinations in Washington to see if the political turmoil undermines the economic recovery or investor confidence in the market. It is distressing that we must do

2010-01-22 Policy Incompetence by Charles Lieberman (Article)

While the objective [of President Obama's proposed bank regulatory policy] is laudable and the financial system is in need of new regulations to protect it more effectively, the proposed approach i

2010-01-11 Low Expectations Are Made to be Exceeded by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Is the equity market overpriced and vulnerable after its sharp rally off the March 2009 lows, as suggested by the bears? While the economy has many problems to overcome, equity valuations are actually

2010-01-05 Another Sample End-of-Year Letter by Bob Veres (Article)

Bob Veres provides another of his sample end-of-year letters as part of the new client service he is introducing.

2009-12-29 End-of-Year Letter Templates by Bob Veres (Article)

Bob Veres is the editor and publisher of Inside Information, a publication focused on practice management and related issues for the financial planning profession. He just introduced a new monthly service, Client Articles, which will contain articles (and cartoons) that can be sent to clients, for example as part of your quarterly newsletters. He provides two sample letters.

2009-12-28 I'll Get Back in When the Market Corrects by John Petrides (Article)

2009-12-22 Six Words that Open the Door to Accountant Referrals by Dan Richards (Article)

Put together a list of the things that frustrate advisors targeting high-end clients and roadblocks to referrals from accountants are sure to be close to the top. Successful advisors recognize the power of a recommendation from a HNW prospect's most trusted advisor, and Dan Richards reveals the six words that facilitate those referrals.

2009-12-21 Looking Backwards to Move Forward by Charles Lieberman (Article)

2009-12-08 The 529 Dilemma by Mary Ann Lambert (Article)

The recent market decline coupled with, tax, custodial, management fees and estate planning issues make the decision to use a 529 plan less than straightforward. In this guest contribution, advisor Mary Ann Lambert briefly reviews the history of college savings plans and shows how the current landscape favors 529s for some clients but not for others.

2009-12-01 Ten Ways to Connect with Your Clients’ Children by Nancy Opiela (Article)

When you work with a top client throughout his or her life, you have an opportunity to ensure that the client's family stays with your firm beyond the current generation. Financial legacies are often lost when wealth passes from generation to generation, so building intergenerational connections can ensure both a successful transfer of assets - and an advisory relationship that endures after your original client passes on.

2009-12-01 To Roth or not to Roth, That is the Question by David B. Loeper, CIMA, CIMC (Article)

With the new Roth conversion rules about to be lifted next year and a "one-time special offer" available to allow investors to spread the tax bite of conversion over two years, more and more Roth conversion calculators are showing up every day. Be wary, says Dave Loeper of Wealthcare Capital. If you use one of these calculators, don't say he didn't warn you about how misleading the results can be.

2009-11-24 Tapping into Today’s Number One Client Concern by Dan Richards (Article)

Larry Porcelli, the head of the private client group for US fund giant BlackRock said that their research shows that 70% of Americans are willing to move their accounts if another firm or advisor offered expertise on constructing portfolios to avoid running out of money. Dan Richards identifies two things advisors need to do to capitalize on this opportunity.

2009-11-17 Our Steroidally Challenged Economy by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

Vitaliy Katsenelson writes that the US economy is like a marathon runner who, after suffering an injury, takes steroids in order to return to racing. His performance is fine, but what don't see are the risks, just as our economy is now "steroidally challenged."

2009-11-03 I am a Fiduciary Financial Advisor by Ron A. Rhoades, J.D., CFP (Article)

The fiduciary standard of conduct is necessary to properly align investors' interests with those of the advisors who serve them, says Ron Rhoades in this guest contribution. Moreover, the fiduciary standard of conduct is not onerous and should not be feared. Advisors who embrace a fiduciary standard of conduct must simply follow the guidelines he sets forth.

2009-11-03 Alpha or Wealth? by Sam Bass (Article)

It is widely accepted that ETFs offer significant advantages over mutual funds, especially lower costs and taxes. But, as advisor Sam Bass argues in this guest contribution, the mutual fund industry may be all the more concerned that increasing numbers of investors are accepting the view that ETFs, and passive strategies in general, are better for wealth accumulation than active management - even if one assumes active strategies can generate positive alpha over extended periods of time.

2009-10-20 Life in and after the NBA Financial Planning for Professional Athletes by Robert Huebscher (Article)

During a 13-year career that began in 1987, Chris Dudley was called on to defend some of the greatest centers in NBA history - among them Shaquille O'Neal, Robert Parish, and David Robinson. While developing a reputation as an exceptional shot-blocker and rebounder, Dudley also devoted time to preparing for his post-basketball career - as a financial advisor - and he shares with us his thoughts about financial planning for the professional athlete.

2009-10-20 Three Ways to Inspire Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Given the beating their portfolios have taken and the general mood of skepticism, often your goal when meeting with clients is to have them leave feeling more optimistic and upbeat about their future prospects and in particular about your role as their advisor. Dan Richards offers three ways to uplift your clients' spirits, while confronting today's crucial issues and building your credibility.

2009-09-29 A Tale of Two Investors by Brian Murphy (Article)

Just as Dickens contrasted the fortunes and misfortunes in England and France in his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, today the divergence is painfully apparent in those who plan to accumulate wealth for their retirement and those who seek excess returns in their portfolios. In this guest contribution, advisor Brian Murphy tells the tale of two clients - one who aggressively sought alpha and the other who passively built retirement wealth.

2009-09-22 Three Ways to Market Your Business Using Facebook by Kristen Luke (Article)

Kristen Luke explains three ways advisors can promote their practice through Facebook: utilizing a basic personal profile, creating a business page and creating a group page.

2009-09-08 Advisor Survey Shows Best Ways to Business Growth by Michael Slemmer, CFA (Article)

Many investment advisory and wealth management firms have struggled to increase assets in the recent difficult markets. In order to understand how advisors feel they are faring - and the keys, and obstacles, to success - we partnered with Advisors Trusted Advisor to survey advisors on the state of their business-building efforts.

2009-09-08 Make the Most of your Networking after the Event by Kristen Luke (Article)

After a networking event, the standard practice for most advisors is to send an email, make a phone call or mail a handwritten note. But what happens after the initial contact? Is there a system in place to continue following-up in the coming weeks, months and years, even if there is not an immediate fit? This is where most advisors fail in their networking strategy, according to Kristen Luke.

2009-09-08 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

We have two letters to the Editor, commenting on our articles about Politics and Fund Mangers and Jim Cramer.

2009-09-01 Shiller P/E's and Predicting Returns by Joseph A. Tomlinson, FSA, CFP (Article)

It becomes clearer every day that the stock market does not follow a random walk and that there may be some predictability in long-term returns. But there's little agreement on how best to make such predictions. In this guest contribution, advisor Joe Tomlinson takes a look at using price/earnings ratios to predict future stock market performance.

2009-09-01 The Levers to Financial Freedom by Russ Thornton (Article)

Virtually the entire financial services industry is built upon spending vast amounts of time, money and other resources on things over which we have absolutely no control - like attempting to manage investment returns. In this guest contribution, advisor Russ Thornton shows that, by focusing on those things you can control, you as a financial planner can build better, more resilient plans for your clients.

2009-08-25 Building a Practice in America’s Fastest Dying City by Robert Huebscher (Article)

While many - perhaps most - advisors use client appreciation programs as part of their marketing efforts, Mo Young has embraced this idea and made it his sole marketing focus. Young's practice is based in Youngstown, Ohio - which has the distinction of losing population more rapidly than any other city in the US - yet Young has added several hundred new clients over the last four years with his strategy.

2009-08-18 A Crash Course in Investing Six Lessons from the Market Meltdown by Dougal Williams, CFA (Article)

The market decline from October 2007 to early March 2009 was the worst since the late 1930's. Stocks dropped 60%, investor uncertainty skyrocketed, and trust and confidence were shattered. The age-old rules for personal investing are now being questioned: Is Buy-and-Hold dead? Has Asset Allocation outlived its usefulness? Does Diversification still work? In this guest contribution, Dougal Williams provides answers to these questions that can serve as a guide for long-term investment success.

2009-08-04 A Wakeup Call for Advisors: Turmoil at the Top of the Market by Dan Richards (Article)

Recent articles in Business Week, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal describe turmoil among high-net worth investors and have profound implications for financial advisors. Dan Richards offers a five-point response for advisors to counteract investor disillusionment with their current relationship.

2009-07-28 Moving Average: Holy Grail or Fairy Tale - Part 3 by Theodore Wang (Article)

Buy-and-hold remains deeply entrenched in the financial planning community, despite many of the flaws Ted Wong's previous articles have illustrated. Although many financial advisors suffer dearly from their buy-and-hold practices, they are reluctant to change their approach. Who dares to challenge investment sages like Bogle, Siegel, and Malkiel who emphatically support this long-standing investment principle? Academic research studies overwhelmingly endorse buy-and-hold. How can they all be wrong?

2009-07-28 Which Social Media Tool is Right for You? by Kristen Luke (Article)

Kristen Luke's philosophy is that the best marketing activities are the ones that are in line with the advisor's preferences and interests. Social media offers a rich array of tools - all you have to do is choose the one that best fits your personality and preferences.

2009-07-21 SIFMA’s Proposed by Ron Rhoades (Article)

On July 17, 2009, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association ("SIFMA") announced that its Private Client Group Steering Committee unanimously supports a new federal fiduciary standard for broker-dealers and investment advisors, embracing a proposal advanced by the Obama administration a week earlier in a draft of the "Investor Protection Act of 2009." Ron Rhoades looks at whether this shift in direction by SIFMA poses a radical change in business models, or whether the "new federal fiduciary standard" is something else in disguise.

2009-06-16 What Separates Great from Ordinary CRM Systems by Gary Kinghorn (Article)

In this guest contribution, Gary Kinghorn of AdviceAmerica says that effective CRM system must be centralized applications where all team members can view, share and update information, such as client tasks, documents, data and portfolios. This ensures everyone has current and accurate information at a glance.


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