Enjoy the current installment of "weekend reading for financial planners" - this week's edition kicks off with the big announcement that traditional insurer Northwestern Mutual has bought out "robo-advisor" LearnVest for a sum reported to be more than $250M in cash, though it's not entirely clear whether Northwestern is looking to grow and adapt LearnVest's fee-only financial planning business model, or simply adopt LearnVest's unique technology, including a consumer Personal Financial Management (PFM) app and financial planning software, internally for Northwestern's own agents and brokers. Also in the news this week were new details about Schwab's Institutional Intelligent Portfolios, its "robo-advisor-for-advisors" offering that appears to have more flexibility than the direct-to-consumer solution, but will still entail some indirect and possibly direct costs for advisors and their clients.
From there, we have a number of additional technology-related articles this week, from a discussion of why it's important to "own" and not "lease" your website from a packaged template provider, to a review of the latest "3.0" edition of the FinaMetrica risk tolerance software, to a review of the latest in rebalancing software tools, and also a discussion of some important caveats and exclusions to be aware of when considering cybersecurity insurance for your advisory firm.
We also have several more technical articles this week, including: recent new research into how retirees spend on health care as they age, showing that medical expenses are actually far more stable than most believe (but long-term care remains a big wildcard); a discussion of sequence of return risk and what it really means; and a look at how, even in times of volatility, only a portion of a diversified portfolio is really at risk for retirees, which has implications for both how funds should be invested in retirement, and how to manage that risk with dynamic spending policies.
We wrap up with three interesting articles: the first looks at the rising trend of RIA custodial platforms moving into more and more direct competitor with the independent RIAs they serve (from growing their own wealth management offerings to giving consumers money-back guarantees that independent RIAs can't match); the second is a review of the ways that broker-dealers make money off their own advisors, in both transparent and not-so-transparent ways; and the last is a discussion of how the nature of client review meetings is evolving, as information that once had to be discussed in a meeting can now be easily accessed from a smartphone, raising interesting questions of just how often it's really necessary to meet with clients in person and what role shorter virtual meetings could play in the process.
And be certain to check out Bill Winterberg's "Bits & Bytes" video on the latest in advisor tech news at the end, including his own discussion of the new Schwab Institutional Intelligent Portfolios for advisors, and the Northwestern Mutual acquisition of LearnVest.
Enjoy the reading!