Enjoy the current installment of "weekend reading for financial planners" - this week's edition starts off with several articles looking at fiduciary and ethical challenges for financial services, from a discussion from the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard about how progress on fiduciary rulemaking has been lagging for several years (and what has to happen in the coming years to get it back on track again), to how hard it is for even an experienced financial planner to find a financial planner to recommend (and how a true license for financial planners could help resolve the issue), to a disturbing trend amongst ETF providers to create marketing materials showing questionable historical performance that may be legal with disclosures but is of questionable ethics. From there, we look at a few business and technology related articles, including a new platform that will allow advisors to create their own ETFs, a discussion of inStream financial planning software that may revolutionize how we use planning software in our practices, a nice discussion of Facebook and where/how it is useful for advisors, and a brief article about how the Social Security administration has expanded its online capabilities (which you can use with your clients to get useful client-specific benefits information). We also look at two more technical articles, one from Wade Pfau discussing the decision for those who want to partially annuitize about whether it's better to do so sooner or later, and an interesting exploration by Martin Shenkman of how estate planning is going to change in 2013 and beyond due to the fiscal cliff legislation.
We wrap up with three interesting articles: the first from Scott MacKillop about how the research that questions the value of active management as being too much "book smarts" and not enough "street smarts" to rely upon in the real world; the second providing a good overview of the recent discussions regarding the Trillion-Dollar Platinum Coin solution to address the debt ceiling; and the last taking a fresh look at the importance of financial planners finding a niche not just as a way to build business but because in the end having a niche is all about finding the intersection between what we love to do, what we're good at, and what people will pay for. Notably, we emphasize for clients the importance of trying to find the right balance to ensure that what they're doing is meaningful both personally and financially; maybe it's time we take the advice ourselves? Enjoy the reading!