Enjoy the current installment of "weekend reading for financial planners" - this week's edition kicks off with the big announcement that Charles Schwab is entering the "robo-advisor" fray, with an offering called "Schwab Intelligent Portfolios" that will be available for consumers (and shortly thereafter as a white-labeled version for RIAs on the Schwab platform), and will be free to use with only a $5,000 minimum (and automated tax-loss harvesting starting at $50,000).
From there, we have a number of practice management and technology articles this week, including a discussion of what to look for when merging smaller advisory practices into your own firm (from the perspective of someone who's done several such deals, both successful and not), tips for advisors who want to get "cyber liability" insurance to protect against the risk of cyber attacks and wire fraud, guidance on how to form a client advisory board, and a look at how an online chat tool on your website can help engage visitors and turn them into genuine client prospects.
We also have a few more technical articles this week, from a Morningstar analysis of the rise of passive investing that finds predictions that consumers are abandoning active management for low-cost indexing may be overstated, to a look at why it's so significant that the Treasury and IRS gave the green light to deferred income annuities inside target-date funds, an analysis of consumer borrowing options that find borrowing from a 401(k) loan may be quite underrated (at least relative to the other borrowing options typically available to consumers), and a good summary of basic strategies and resources to families who haven't saved enough (or anything) for college and are now trying to figure out what to do as the kids prepare to apply.
We wrap up with three interesting articles: the first looks at how not only do many advisors have a problem branding themselves, but that the entire financial planning profession has a "branding problem" due to a lack of clear vision about its fundamental role and purpose in society; the second is a critique by GMO's James Montier of the whole concept of managing companies by trying to "maximize shareholder value" and how the incentives that have been created are actually damaging (long-term) shareholder value; and the last is a fascinating look at how too much positive thinking can actually be damaging to achieving goals, and that balancing optimism with realism is crucial to obtain the motivation necessary to pursue the goal... which has some notable implications for how we as financial planners guide our clients towards retirement! Enjoy the reading!