Enjoy the current installment of "weekend reading for financial planners" - this week's edition kicks off with the big news that the Department of Labor has released the latest update to its proposed fiduciary rule, which would expand the scope of ERISA fiduciary rules to IRA rollovers and require advisors (including brokers acting as such) to act in the best interests of their clients, but does not necessarily limit the nature of the compensation those advisors can receive and permits commissions to continue as long as they are paid pursuant to implementing best-interest advice. Perhaps not surprisingly, fiduciary advocates are saying the new rules may be too weak, while the brokerage industry is already objecting the new rules would be too stringent.
From there, we have a number of technical planning articles this week, including a look at the latest rules for income-based repayment (IBR) and public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) options for those with significant (Federally-based) student loan debt, a look at the new once-per-year IRA rollover rules that took effect at the beginning of January, a review of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) rules that can reduce Social Security benefits for those who receive a pension based on "non-covered" earnings (i.e., wages not taxed under the Social Security FICA system), and some of the compliance and practical issues that advisors must consider as clients age and potentially face cognitive decline and diminished (financial and other) mental capacity.
We also have a couple of technology-related articles, including a look at Orion Advisor Services and some of its recent initiatives, a discussion of the latest research on cybersecurity risks in financial services and how safe client assets really are, and a broader overview of the major trends currently underway in technology providers for financial advisors (from M&A activity to an explosion of robo-advisor-for-advisors solutions).
We wrap up with three interesting articles: the first looks at some recent market research on how advisors advertise their services, suggesting that the "traditional" views like lighthouses and walks on the beach may feel nice and comforting to consumers, but are failing to differentiate advisors or generate much interest for consumers to explore further; the second is a somewhat amusing look at the "bubble in bubbles" as the "bubble" label is increasingly applied to everything from actual potential bubbles (which are rare) to anything that might just be overvalued or is even just a short-term fad; and the last is a look at how regardless of the ongoing potential for regulatory reform about the standards to which advisors are held, that perhaps the primary elephant in the room to address is simply the confusing ways that (genuine) advisors, insurance agents, and registered representatives all hold out to consumers as "advisors" instead of requiring them to use more accurate titles and labels to describe what they actually do.
And be certain to check out Bill Winterberg's "Bits & Bytes" video on the latest in advisor tech news at the end, including major new updates to the Grendel CRM the announcement by Schwab that its "robo-advisor" platform Schwab Intelligent Portfolios already has $500M of AUM, highlights of a recent review of Orion Advisor Services, and the LinkedIn acquisition of popular app Refresh.
Enjoy the reading!