2020 hasn’t gone exactly as planned. From the COVID-19 global pandemic and ensuing pivot to a work-and-school-from-home model, to the stunning market crash and (even-more-stunning?) subsequent rebound, and the civil unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd, this year has presented multiple challenges. Yet, those challenges have also presented opportunities for growth, not only personally and professionally, but also for our society. Here at Kitces.com, we’ve had to make several adjustments on the fly amid conference cancellations and the shifting needs of the advisor community, but throughout, we have continued to focus on growing our platform in order to provide you, our readers, an ever-increasing array of content and solutions to help you be better financial advisors!
With that, I am excited to announce that, as part of a new pilot program with the CFP Board, this month’s June articles on the Nerd’s Eye View Blog about the CFP Board’s new Standards of Conduct are now eligible for a full 2 hours of CFP Ethics CE! Similarly, we are also happy to share that we’ve expanded our CE credit offering to cross-apply a full 16 hours of CE credit for Enrolled Agents (on top of the CFP and IWI continuing education credits we offer) for our articles that – as specified by IRS guidelines – cover Federal taxation.
In addition, we have some exciting news around new (and existing) Kitces team members. Jeff Levine formally became a full-time member of the team, assuming the role of Lead Financial Planning Nerd and expanding his capacity as both a writer for the blog and a Kitces speaker (at both live and virtual events). Sarah Keese, our new External Engagements Manager, is now handling every aspect of our speaking and consulting engagements and has also become the main point of contact for our rapidly growing number of Members Section advisors. Finally, Hannah Collman is joining the team this month as our Associate Financial Planning Nerd and will be supporting Jeff Levine with financial planning research, crafting presentations for events, as well as many other endeavors on our platform.
As part of our mission to help real financial advisors become better and more successful, part of my efforts over the years have included helping various vendors and advisor platforms in the industry better understand macro trends and opportunities. Unfortunately, though, there are only so many hours in the day – which has led to a growing waiting list for my Consulting time – and as such, we are expanding our consulting capacity by launching the Kitces Consulting Consortium and partnering with Craig Iskowitz of the Ezra Group, who will be available to provide his consulting expertise and insights around FinTech with larger advisory enterprises, from large RIAs and broker-dealers looking to make strategic technology decisions, to FinTech vendors themselves trying to iterate their products and identify advisor market opportunities, and private equity and other investment firms looking for market research and insights into industry trends.
In the meantime, we’ve also spent much of the second quarter revamping our speaking services for a virtual world, and have participated in literally dozens of educational webinars (both for various industry organizations as well as on our own platform in our Members Section) and a growing number of virtual keynotes.
In fact, as the industry becomes more comfortable with virtual conferences, we are even kicking around the idea of hosting our own “Kitces Virtual Marketing Summit” to help advisors learn more about how to market and network in a world where the traditional methods aren’t practical (or even possible) anymore. If you’d be interested in participating as an attendee, please let us know and we’ll keep you posted as we develop the prospective agenda!
We’ve seen some tremendous growth here at Kitces.com over the past 12 years (and especially in the past two as our team has grown!), and while these are challenging times, I am more excited than ever for the opportunities that lie ahead to serve the advisor community, and to help Real Financial Advisors Be Better And More Successful. So, stay tuned for more announcements, more ways to interact with our platform… and more opportunities to join the growing Kitces Team!
Introducing CFP Ethics CE On Kitces.com
For nearly a decade, Kitces.com has offered CFP continuing education credits for reading The Kitces Report white papers and (the technical articles on) this Nerd’s Eye View blog. Which, given our cadence of content, has provided more than enough content for CFP professionals to earn their full 15 hours per year of CE credit (or rather, their 30 hours every 2 years).
But of course, renewing your CFP certification also requires 2 hours of CFP Ethics CE every cycle, which historically could cover ‘any’ type of Ethics professional education, but in recent years has been increasingly focused on specifically covering the CFP Board’s own Standards of Conduct and Code of Ethics (i.e., not just “ethics” but “CFP Ethics [and Standards]” in particular). And with the release in 2018 of the CFP Board’s new Standards of Conduct – due to take effect in October of 2019 and now being enforced starting June 30 of 2020 – the CFP Board in 2018 began to require that all CFP Ethics providers teach a templated Ethics presentation that had to be delivered as a live presentation or ‘voice-over-Powerpoint’ webinar. In other words, written CFP Ethics content wasn’t permitted… and therefore, Nerd’s Eye View couldn’t offer (written) CFP Ethics CE via this blog (nor provide our usual in-depth analysis and insight about the new rules).
But now, as part of a new pilot program with the CFP Board that we announced earlier this year, this month’s June articles on Nerd’s Eye View about the CFP Board’s new Standards of Conduct – covering all the guidance that CFP certificants need to be aware of to comply with the new Standards of Conduct that will be enforced starting June 30th – are eligible for a full 2 hours of CFP Ethics CE through the end of the year (at which point there will be a new cycle of required CFP Ethics content from the CFP Board)!
Per our standard approach for educational content that is critical to the financial planner community, the CFP Ethics content itself has been openly published on the Nerd’s Eye View blog for all. However, to actually receive CFP Ethics CE credits with the CFP Board, blog readers who are not already current Basic or Premier members will need to join the Members Section, where we provide our access to all of our CE quizzes as part of our Premier membership (currently $149/year).
As one of our most requested enhancements, we’re incredibly excited to finally bring full CFP Ethics CE credits to the Nerd’s Eye View community!
New Crossover CE Credits For Enrolled Agents
As we’ve produced more and more CE content over the years, one of our big focal points has been to expand the types of CE credit that we offer on Nerd’s Eye View. After all, if you’re going to put in the hours to read and learn the material, you want to get credit for as many of your designations and licenses as possible!
Consequently, in recent years we’ve expanded our CFP CE credit offering to include CE credits for the Investments & Wealth Institute designations (CIMA and CPWA, as well as CIMC), and went through the stringent accreditation process to get approved by the NASBA Registry to offer CPE credit for CPAs.
And now, we’re excited to announce that some Kitces.com content will also be eligible for CE credit for Enrolled Agents (EAs)!
Notably, to get EA credits – per IRS guidelines – continuing education content must specifically be on Federal taxation… and much of our Kitces.com content on financial planning is broader than ‘just’ Federal taxation. Consequently, not all of our CE-eligible content will specifically be eligible for EA credit as well.
Nonetheless, our current Kitces content does offer a full 16 hours of CE credit for Enrolled Agents, between our blog articles, The Kitces Report white papers, and certain EA-CE-eligible webinars. And as always, we’re continuously creating more (potentially-CE-eligible) content every week throughout the year! (All available CE quizzes in the Members Section are individually marked for the CFP, IWI, CPA, EA, and other types of CE credit they’re eligible for.)
In addition, of course, we still provide CE pass certificates for all of our content, that can be used for other designations or programs that have the means to self-report credits. And in the coming year, we’re looking to work further with organizations like the American College and NAPFA that have required CE to automate that CE reporting on behalf of our members (as we do with the CFP Board and IWI).
In the meantime, if you want to see more types of CE reporting, please let us know in the comments below! (And if you want to expedite our integrations with the aforementioned organizations like NAPFA and the American College, feel free to let them know that they should prioritize working with Kitces.com as they develop their own automated CE reporting systems! 😊 )
Expanding Our Consulting Services With The Kitces Consulting Consortium
With the expertise I’ve developed over the years in the industry, I’ve increasingly consulted with a wide range of organizations to share my expertise, including fellow advisors and their firms, FinTech providers that are seeking to serve more advisors, and advisor platforms trying to better understand industry trends and the strategic opportunities in the advisor community.
The caveat, however, is that I am just myself, and there’s only so much time in the day and week! As a result, I’ve had a multi-month waiting list for the past two years for our Consulting Services, as the demand has outstripped the supply of available time.
And so now, to expand the available consultants who work with Kitces.com, and bring our same ‘nerdy’ approach to analyzing the industry and its opportunities, we’re introducing the Kitces Consulting Consortium, with launch partner Craig Iskowitz of the Ezra Group.
Regular readers of the Nerd’s Eye View blog may already recognize Craig’s name, as he’s contributed a number of popular Guest Posts in the past, from his comparisons of advisor rebalancing software to his popular recaps of T3 Advisor Technology (and other FinTech) conferences, and increasingly sharing his expertise and perspective as part of our monthly FinTech recaps.
Going forward, Craig will be contributing a growing volume of AdvisorTech and FinTech content on Nerd’s Eye View itself. But with his especially deep background in working with large enterprises (from major RIAs to broker-dealers to asset managers), covering everything from running RFPs to platform design and execution, as well as market research and business and product strategy for FinTech firms themselves, Craig’s expertise significantly expands both our breadth of services and capacity to consult with the industry.
Going forward, our Kitces Consulting Consortium services will include:
Notably, though, our Kitces Consulting services will remain primarily focused on large advisor enterprises, and AdvisorTech platforms themselves, as well as the private equity and similar firms looking to invest into them. We do not have consulting services available for individual advisory firms. At least, not yet. But we’re continuing to look at ways we can delve further into this area to support even more advisors directly in the future! Stay tuned! 😊
Expanding Kitces.com: New Team Members And New Opportunities
As the Nerd’s Eye View blog and our Kitces.com Members Section continues to expand, from the creation of the Financial Advisor Success and Kitces & Carl podcasts, to our growing numbers of resources for financial advisors to better run their businesses (including our popular Advisor FinTech Map, and our recent Advisor’s Guide to PPP Loans), our original advisor research on “How Financial Advisors Really Do Financial Planning” and “How Financial Planners Actually Market Their Services”, and a growing number of CE opportunities… so too is the Kitces team that makes it all happen also growing rapidly.
In the first half of this year, Jeff Levine formally became a full-time member of the Kitces Team as our Lead Financial Planning Nerd, increasingly both his ongoing writing for the Nerd’s Eye View blog (including his incredibly popular coverage of the SECURE Act and also the CARES Act within days of their passage by Congress!), and serving as a Kitces Team speaker for both live in-person events (at least before the coronavirus pandemic shut down most conferences!) and a growing number of webinars.
In April, we hired Sarah Keese, who came to us as the client of a financial advisor who reads the Nerd’s Eye View blog. (So while she wasn’t ‘from’ the industry, she certainly understands and appreciates the value of financial planning!) Sarah joins us with a long history of Operations Management and Customer Service roles, and now handles all of our speaking events and consulting engagements, supports our Members Section advisors, and manages our on-site live events including our increasingly popular monthly Office Hours for members.
This month (in fact, starting today!) we hired Hannah Collman as our Associate Financial Planning Nerd. Hannah joins the team after spending years of both providing financial planning advice and doing individual and trust tax returns for clients at a large independent advisory firm. On the Kitces Team, Hannah will primarily work with Lead Financial Planning Nerd Jeff Levine to support the research for his article writing and speaking engagements, in addition to other on-platform endeavors as we continue to expand our content offerings.
And we’re not done growing yet! In fact, the Kitces Team currently has 3(!) more open positions:
– A Lead Developer/System Architect to help us (re-)build the back end of Kitces.com for the next stage of growth, as we go even deeper into Advisor Research, and want to develop tools that will make it easier and faster for readers to participate in our research surveys, and be able to see the results and how their firm compares to others.
– An Executive Assistant to work with me directly, because I’ve seen for myself, in a number of advisory firms, the powerful impact that a great Executive Assistant can have and can appreciate – especially as someone who still struggles with ADHD myself – that it’s incredibly important to have someone who can both help to support you… and keep you focused on doing what most positively impacts the business!
– We are also hiring an Editorial Associate to support Deputy Editor Jim Koford and Senior Technical Editor Erica Crane, ensuring that our content continues to go out consistently and smoothly, especially as we look to expand to more ways to serve the advisor community in the coming years.
For those who are interested in applying for one of these opportunities – or want to stay apprised of our future openings – check out our Career Opportunities page!
Shifting To Virtual Events, More Kitces Webinars, And A Potential Kitces Virtual Marketing Summit!?
The coronavirus pandemic has been disruptive for a wide range of industries. Some, like restaurants, airlines, and hospitality, have been almost completely shut down. Others, like the advisor industry, were more ‘modestly’ impacted, but still faced both a severe potential revenue decline from the drop in the markets (at least if they had stayed at mid-March levels!), a sometimes bumpy transition to working remotely with their team and virtually with clients, and a significant challenge in growing their firms as most ‘traditional’ advisor marketing strategies – from client events to networking events and building relationships with Centers Of Influence – relied heavily on in-person meetings that have been impossible for the past several months.
As someone who’s been speaking at 50 – 70+ conferences per year for more than 10 years, the total shutdown of events – including all the major financial advisor industry conferences – has certainly been a dramatic and abrupt adjustment, as I’ve spent more time at home in the past 3 months that any 3-month stint in the past decade! However, that doesn’t mean we’ve taken the disruption lying down.
Instead, we’ve revamped our speaking services for events large and small, upgraded internet connections, bought new video equipment, and rolled out new pricing for virtual events from educational webinars to virtual keynotes. In fact, Kitces team speakers have participated in more than 30 virtual events in just the past few months during the pandemic outbreak, and will be doing even more in the second half of the year! (Though I still hope to be, and anticipate being, back out on the road for speaking engagements again in 2021!)
In addition, we’ve begun to offer more webinars directly on the Kitces platform as well, both in our Members Section, and our ‘breaking news’ webinars back in March on how to talk to clients to calm their coronavirus fears, and on the CARES Act as it was signed into law. And to create more flexibility for those who want to consume our content as webinars (rather than in the form of articles) but don’t want to join the full Members Section, we will soon be rolling out “Special Access Passes” that will allow blog readers to access one-off webinars, with live Speaker Q&A, at a lower price point.
We’re also beginning to explore the possibility of hosting a “Kitces Virtual Marketing Summit” – a live half-day virtual event with the Kitces team and a hand-picked list of outside guest experts, specifically on the topic of ‘virtual marketing’, exploring best practices and what advisors are doing that actually works when it comes to marketing for clients in a digital world where so many traditional ‘analog’ marketing strategies (from in-person networking meetings to client events) don’t work very well (or at all!) anymore in a work-from-home or socially-distanced environment.
Earlier this year, we announced our new and expanded mission at Kitces.com, from ‘just’ Advancing Knowledge in Financial Planning, to Helping Real Financial Advisors Be Better and More Successful. And while the unexpected pandemic means the year hasn’t quite started as we anticipated, we’re more excited than ever about the opportunities to do more to serve the advisor community, and continuing to grow the team to fulfill that vision.
So whether it’s seeing us speaking at a virtual event, joining one of our webinars (or participating in the potential Kitces Virtual Marketing Summit), engaging our expanded Kitces Consulting Consortium, using our new Enrolled Agent and CFP Ethics CE content… or simply continuing to read the Nerd’s Eye View blog content we continue to (and are committed to) keep putting out for free… I hope we’re able to do even more to serve you in the second half of 2020 and the years to come!