Enjoy the current installment of “Weekend Reading For Financial Planners” – this week’s edition kicks off with the industry news that the CFP Board is reversing its prior decision to remove compensation disclosures (e.g., “fee-only”) from its Let’s Make A Plan website and soon will begin to include even more information to consumers about how they will be charged for the advice they receive (e.g., commissions, AUM fees, hourly fees, subscription fees, etc.), after an internal consumer research study affirms that the most important factors for prospective clients evaluating an advisor are how they pay, whether they can afford it, and what the value will be (i.e., whether the service is worth the cost).
Also in the news this week is the unfortunate announcement that the SEC is tabling its long-anticipated proposed changes to RIA advertising rules that would have expanded guidance around the use of social media and (finally!) permitted advisors to use at least limited client testimonials (pushing any potential changes to a future yet-to-be-determined SEC Commissioner under Biden?), and the release of the Department of Labor’s final new fiduciary rule that would for the first time allow ERISA fiduciaries to receive commissions (but has been issued so late that it will not take effect until after Biden’s inauguration, raising the possibility that the controversial new fiduciary rule will be delayed and killed before it can be fully enacted).
From there, we have several articles around investment trends, including a look at the rise of “custom” direct indexing as an alternative to ETFs and mutual funds, an announcement that mega insurer Transamerica is halting all sales of fixed indexed annuities and variable annuities with living and death benefit riders due to the limited opportunity to offer compelling products to consumers in a low-interest-rate environment, and a fascinating look at the emerging work of Ole Peters who is challenging the traditional view of economics by taking a hard look at the “ergodicity” assumption and suggesting that perhaps investors aren’t actually irrational but simply using a different framework to evaluate decisions than what economics has long presumed.
We’ve also included some articles on client retention, from a look at how clients may actually want to connect with each other through their advisor (from in-person social events to the virtual world of online networking or even message forums for clients), how driving client retention often isn’t about having all the answers for clients but being able to ask better questions that engage them and make them feel understood, and some research on what really drives client retention that shows even very small increases in retention can have an outsized impact on the economics of an advisory firm (and suggests that advisors may still be “under”-investing in retaining existing clients over trying to get new ones?).
We wrap up with three interesting articles, all around the theme of advisor burnout and taking time off to rejuvenate (as we enter the holiday season!): the first looks at how often advisors can only recover from burnout by making a substantive change in their work (from taking on an entirely new role at the advisory firm, to leaving altogether and starting their own firm to better control their own time and focus); the second explores the rising phenomenon of employees not even using all of their vacation (and the potential ramifications of trying to “force” employees to take more time off in a busy work environment); and the last explores some of the data-driven research into the impact of taking vacation on the ongoing productivity of a firm’s top employees.
Enjoy the ‘light’ reading!