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Enjoy the current installment of "weekend reading for financial planners" - this week's edition highlights a few articles on advisor use of social media, an interesting look at whether promoting financial literacy is a red herring for real consumer protection in financial services, and a good technical article on planning issues for unmarried couples. Also included is a controversial discussion of how TIPS may not be quite as "safe" as we make them out to be, and a look at a new series of mutual funds that may attract increasing client attention in the coming years. We finish with a quick look at a Forbes article discussing the decision by a major firm with 80,000 employees to completely phase out email over the next 18 months in lieu of meetings, telephone calls, text messaging, and social media for communication; will this be a failed experiment, or a glimpse into the future of business communication? Enjoy the reading!

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Friday, December 30th, 2011 Posted by Michael Kitces in Weekend Reading | 2 Comments

Developing your skillset as a financial planner is complex. From learning the financial planning body of knowledge itself, to the analytical skills to apply it to specific client situations, to the written and verbal skills necessary to communicate recommendations to clients, to the interpersonal skills required to actually motivate and support clients on implementing those action items, there's a lot to learn. Not to mention the skillset necessary to find and attract new prospects to become clients in the first place. But if there is one skill that seems to have a bigger impact above all else for the success of a financial planner, it's the ability to listen. To REALLY listen. Continue Reading...

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 Posted by Michael Kitces in Client Trust & Communication | 7 Comments

Enjoy the current installment of "weekend reading for financial planners" - this week's edition highlights a number of articles on interesting industry trends, from the ongoing movement towards tactical asset allocation (now used by a majority of advisors), to the difficulties in the variable annuity marketplace suggesting that perhaps annuity expenses have not been too high but in fact were too low in recent years, to the rapid growth of independent advisors in recent years that threaten to overtake the wirehouses by 2013. In addition, we look at the latest from John Hussman on a looming US (and global) recession regardless of recent positive data "surprises", along with John Mauldin on US Federal deficits and the problems in Europe, another piece on Europe by PIMCO's Mohammed El-Erian, and a fascinating - albeit scary - piece about what's really been going on with the "missing" customer funds at MF Global. We wrap up with what is sure to be a controversial article by Bill Bachrach, suggesting that the primary reason financial planners lack trust with the public is because too many don't have the integrity to walk their own talk and use a financial planner themselves. Enjoy the reading! Continue Reading...

Friday, December 23rd, 2011 Posted by Michael Kitces in Weekend Reading | 5 Comments

For most, the question of "minimums" in financial planning is a practice management issue from the firm's perspective: how much in fees must a client generate to be economically feasible, based on the firm's particular service model? Yet as financial planning seeks to broaden its scope and serve more people, a question arises from the opposite side of the table: is there a certain amount of income or net worth necessary to even make financial planning advice useful to someone? Is there such thing as having too little money, income, or wealth, for financial planning to even be a worthwhile thing to pay for in the first place? In other words, is there a minimum for a financial planning relationship, from the client's point of view, below which the prospective client just doesn't have enough income or assets for a financial planner's advice to be relevant?

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Sunday, December 18th, 2011 Posted by Michael Kitces in Planning Profession | 14 Comments

Enjoy the current installment of "weekend reading for financial planners" - the major highlight this week is the release of the Financial-Planning-Coalition-sponsored study on the costs of various regulatory oversight options, with some pretty shocking costs for FINRA or a new SRO to take over. Other articles include a discussion of Schwab's first franchise branch opening, the emerging field of financial therapy, an analysis of annuity guaranteed withdrawal riders and their limitations due to ongoing inflation, and two great investment pieces on last week's European Summit by John Mauldin and GaveKal, along with a somewhat disturbing warning by John Hussman that the market may be in significant near-term danger. We wrap up with a brief article that was written for entrepreneurs, but translates in my opinion to virtually anyone in professional services, taking a hard look at what your time's really worth, and what you should - and shouldn't - be doing yourself versus outsourcing to others. Enjoy the reading!

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Friday, December 16th, 2011 Posted by Michael Kitces in Weekend Reading | 0 Comments

In the nebulous space where financial services firms decide what to call themselves and how to hold themselves out to the public, there's not necessarily a very clear distinction between a "financial planning" firm and a "private wealth management" firm. Often, the difference is little more than the perceived marketing distinction of the labels to certain target clients. Nonetheless, there is some evidence to suggest that the services delivered to very high net worth clients can be quite different than those provided to the average American, and accordingly may require a different set of knowledge and skills to deliver effectively. As a result, there is an effort underway to try to study the real differences between financial planning and private wealth management, in order to develop certification that is unique and appropriate to the distinct specialization. Continue Reading...

Sunday, December 11th, 2011 Posted by Michael Kitces in Planning Profession | 8 Comments

Enjoy the current installment of "weekend reading for financial planners" - highlights this week include two great year-end wrap-up articles on technology, including an overview of Financial Planning magazine's huge annual tech survey, and technology highlights from consultant Bill Winterberg in MorningstarAdvisor. Also included in a striking interview with research and planning pioneer Bill Bengen, who suggests that safe withdrawal rates are still valid, but that buy and hold isn't, and an interesting article from Angie Herbers in Investment Advisor about some owners who may be experiencing "owner's guilt" over the profitability of their business, and making some bad decisions as a result. Then there's a quick look at some thoughts about the new cost basis reporting rules that are being implemented by the IRS, and two somewhat non-traditional investment and economic pieces from some industry stalwarts, Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital and Jeremy Grantham of GMO. Enjoy the reading! Continue Reading...

Friday, December 9th, 2011 Posted by Michael Kitces in Weekend Reading | 1 Comment

Notwithstanding its risk and the painful volatility of the past decade, stock investing is still a cornerstone of financial planning advice. However, investing in equities - even just a little bit - is not for everyone. Some aren't interested in the risk; the trade-off just isn't worth it to them. Of course, financial planning advice has much value to offer beyond just how to allocate an equity-centric portfolio. There's just one problem... financial planning advice may still be so equity-centric, that people who don't want to take investment risk just don't use a financial planner at all, as a recent Journal of Personal Finance revealed! Continue Reading...

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 Posted by Michael Kitces in Planning Profession | 19 Comments

As a country, our national savings rate is among the lowest in the world, and in practice the average American struggles to save much of anything. A recent survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling indicated that 64% of Americans don't even have enough cash on hand to handle a $1,000 emergency expense. The standard advice of financial health to address these problems is to "Spend Less, and Save More" or its extended version, "Spend Less Than You Make, And Save The Rest." Yet notwithstanding the nearly universal nature of this advice, it doesn't seem to be having much of an impact. Perhaps the problem is because in reality, the advice just isn't specific enough to be actionable, and as a result it's ineffective. In other words, if we really want people to spend less and have more money left at the end of the month, what we need to do is not just tell people to "Spend Less, and Save More" - we actually need to tell them HOW to spend! We need to create the "food pyramid" of recommended spending!

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Monday, December 5th, 2011 Posted by Michael Kitces in General Planning | 15 Comments

Enjoy the current installment of "weekend reading for financial planners" - highlights this week include a new pieces about tactical asset allocation by yours-truly in the Journal of Financial Planning, an interesting article about the correlation between use of financial planners and willingness to invest in risky assets, a number of great articles about the unfolding debt crisis in Europe and its economic and investment implications, and a nice discussion about the importance of establishing a work environment that's right for you. We also look at a great piece from Angie Herbers discussing how different today's new financial planners are compared to those of 10, 20, or 30 years ago - and the ways firms need to adjust to maximize on the opportunity. Enjoy the reading! Continue Reading...

Friday, December 2nd, 2011 Posted by Michael Kitces in Weekend Reading | 2 Comments

Michael E. Kitces

I write about financial planning strategies and practice management ideas, and have created several businesses to help people implement them.

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Out and About

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

*Understanding Longevity Annuities and their Potential Role in Retirement *Generating Tax Alpha with Effective Asset Location @ FPA Southern Wisconsin

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

*Future of Financial Planning in the Digital Age *Cutting Edge Tax Planning Developments & Opportunities @ FPA Mid-Tennessee

Monday, October 19th, 2015

*Cutting Edge Tax Planning Developments & Opportunities @ IMCA Advanced Wealth Management Conference