Enjoy the current installment of “weekend reading for financial planners” – this week’s edition kicks off with a big cover story from Investment News about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the financial planning profession from its humble beginning in December of 1969, and the ways that both the delivery and regulation of financial planning have evolved over the years. Also in the news this week is the announcement that Vanguard is preparing to launch a new “Digital Advisor” service, which will be a ‘true’ no-humans robo-advisor offering (as distinguished from its Personal Advisor Services solution with hundreds of human CFP professionals) charging just 15 basis points with a $3,000 account minimum.
From there, we have several articles around the ever-growing buzz of advisory firm mergers and acquisitions, including a look at the recent “Deals and Dealmakers Summit” that finds there are still far more interested buyers than there are prospective sellers, a recent DeVoe & Company study finding that as many as 50% of advisory firms may be willing to sell a stake in their firm (but for many, it’s only so they can raise capital to become buyers themselves), an analysis finding that so many of the largest RIAs have already been bought in recent years that advisor M&A is now moving ‘downmarket’ to mid-sized firms with $100M to $500M of AUM, and what to be aware of if you’re considering whether to sell to an RIA consolidator.
We also have a number of marketing articles this week, from a look at the factors to consider to avoid picking the ‘wrong’ niche when choosing to better focus the firm’s target clientele, tips on how to turn the ephemeral differentiation of “we provide better service” into something more tangible for prospects, tips about what it takes to actually grow successfully with online/digital marketing, and how some advisory firms that are cutting fees in the face of fee pressure may just be negotiating against themselves.
We wrap up with three interesting articles, all around the theme of understanding and quantifying the value of financial planning: the first examines a recent Russell Investments study finding that the value of financial planning is a combination of A (Annual rebalancing) + B (Behavioral mistakes) + C (Cost of getting it wrong with asset allocation) + P (Planning advice) + T (Tax-smart investing) and may add up to as much as 4.4%/year; the second covers a recent consumer study in the UK finding that the primary value of an advisor is derived from trust in the advisor themselves; and the last is a new Vanguard study further affirming the value of a financial advisor, and finding that, based on direct consumer surveys, nearly half of the perceived value of a financial advisor specifically comes from the non-financial ’emotional’ benefits of having someone the client can trust, who understands them, and can reassure them during difficult times.
Enjoy the ‘light’ reading!