Enjoy the current installment of "weekend reading for financial planners" - this week's edition kicks off with the recent "Fiduciary Leadership Summit" in Washington DC, hosted by TD Ameritrade and the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard, highlighting "war stories" of consumers injured by gaps in the fiduciary duty for brokers and an interesting response by former regulator Robert Plaze that perhaps the best outcome is not a uniform fiduciary standard for all but simply that the brokerage industry needs its own standalone regulatory reforms. Also in the news this week is a new NASAA working group that will look at revising broker-dealer fee disclosures for consumers after acknowledging that today's fee disclosure documents are too long and confusing, and a recent survey by Gallup that finds "creating a financial plan" is one of the few financial issues that consumers consistently do
rely on professional advice more than friends and family.
From there, we have several practice management articles this week, including one from United Capital CEO Joe Duran that the golden age for (small independent) RIAs may soon be ending with rising competitive forces putting the big squeeze on profits and margins, a response to Duran's bleak outlook from RIABiz's Brooke Southall who suggests that many of these competitors (from robo-advisors to Vanguard's Personal Advisor Services) are still ultimately just a drop in the bucket compared to the sheer size of the consumer investor marketplace, and a discussion from Mark Tibergien about whether some advisors actually need to get better at having the conversation with clients about raising fees instead.
We also have several more technical articles this week, including: a discussion of what the "true diversifiers" in a portfolio really are, and whether they're even necessary if there's a risk-managed approach to the equities themselves; a review of a recent T. Rowe Price survey suggesting that retirees may actually be more flexible and adaptable in their retirement spending than is commonly believed; and the last looking at the current use of Monte Carlo analysis, suggesting that perhaps one of our greatest problems is not the limitations of the tool itself but that many of today's Monte Carlo software tools do not provide a sufficient range of reporting on the outcomes beyond just the (insufficient) probability of success/failure alone.
We wrap up with three interesting articles: the first looks at how much of the disagreement amongst even the true finance experts may stem from the fact that our experience with investing and the markets can be dramatically impacted by the year in which we happen to be born (and therefore the investment returns and volatility we witness during our early formative years), and that many finance disputes may simply be a representation of two experts whose views are heavily biased and colored by their own (birth-year-sensitive) personal history and experience; the second looks at how the real significance of the robo-advisor trend may not be their actual competitive threat, but simply that they highlight what quality technology and a great client user experience looks like, and how lacking today's tools for advisors really are; and the last is an analysis from Wealthfront about the behavior of investors in active mutual funds versus index funds during market volatility, finding that passive investors are less prone to portfolio turnover during market volatility and suggesting that despite their lack of human advisors to hand-hold clients, many of today's (passively-based) robo-advisors may experience witness less client churn during the next bear market, not more.
And be certain to check out Bill Winterberg's "Bits & Bytes" video on the latest in advisor tech news at the end, including a summary of the first (Orion-Advisor-Services-sponsored) "hackathon" which brought together programmers from numerous advisor tech companies to try and build the best new useful relevant technology tools and integrations for advisors in just 48 hours! Enjoy the reading!