For most financial advisors, 2023 was a year of rebound and reinvestment, as markets bounced back from the turbulence of 2022, and expanded profit margins allowed advisory firms room to reinvest back into the services and value they're providing clients to make sure their retention stays strong in the future. Here at Kitces.com, we've similarly been in the midst of a reinvestment process in 2023, setting the foundation so that we can give even more back to the Financial Advicer community, as we continue to expand our "Team of Nerds" beyond just myself with more writers and more speakers, and develop and refine our Q-N-R standards to ensure that everything you get from Kitces.com is Quality, Nerdy, and Relevant… a standard for all Kitces content, even if it's not created by Michael.
And in the coming year, we're going to make sure that even more of that Kitces content is eligible for not only the full range of CE credit for CFP, CPA, and the other various professional designations, but also the ever-expanding IAR CE obligation. Which, thanks to the new rollouts in both California and Florida in 2024, will mean nearly half of all financial advisors who are IARs will need to fulfill the new IAR CE requirement in 2024… as once an advicer has half a dozen clients in any of the 17 states or the District of Columbia, they have to comply with the new IAR CE rules. And a lot of advicers have more than 5 clients in Florida!
In practice, this means that we'll be bringing back our popular IAR Ethics CE Day in 2024 (save the date for August 29th!), expanding IAR CE credits to apply to our monthly live webinars (in addition to our written blog content and recorded webinars), increasing the cadence of our webinars from monthly to offering 2 every month (on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month… with the recording still available for those who can't attend live), and continuing to cross-apply our Kitces content for all the other types of CE you may need as well (so you can check all the boxes at once!). Though we are implementing a small $20/year increase (from $169 to $189 per year) in the price of the Members Section to help manage the cost of rising staff salaries in the midst of inflation over the past 2 years, and to further reinvest into our Platform team to make site improvements so our content is faster to load and easier to navigate.
In the meantime, we remain committed to delivering the ongoing cadence of content that you've become accustomed to from Kitces. In 2024 we'll again feature our Marketing Summit (save the date for April 25th!) and our Financial Planning Value Summit, we'll be rolling out 2 new Advicer Research studies (on Marketing and on Productivity, as we wrap up the 2023 study on Wellbeing in the coming weeks), and we'll be building a new Kitces Course on Optimizing Roth Conversions (to complement our course on Optimizing Social Security) to be released in mid-2024.
If you (or anyone you know) wants to join our Team of Nerds, stay tuned for more openings in 2024 as well, as we anticipate hiring a new Associate Financial Planning Nerd, an Operations Associate, a new Director of Product and Platform, and a Director of Advisor Research. We'll be listing these as they become available on our Kitces Career Opportunities page, or you can sign up for our separate Career Opportunities mailing list (via that Opportunities page) to be notified when new positions open up!
Ultimately, though, the focus remains the same as it always has been – on our mission to "Make Financial Advicers Better, and More Successful" – through our 4 strategic pillars of creating Navigational resources, insightful Education, original Research, and skills Development for financial advisors (and yes, our organizational strategy really does spell out N-E-R-D 😊). I hope you'll continue to come along with us on the journey in 2024!
Developing The Q-N-R Standards For The Nerd's Eye View Blog
The Nerd's Eye View blog publishes a steady cadence of content, 5 days per week, 52 weeks per year. For which there's actually an Editorial Calendar of what we cover each day of the week – Mondays are for practice management, Tuesdays are our Financial Advisor Success podcast, Wednesdays are "technical" articles (eligible for CE credit in our Members Section), Thursdays are the Kitces & Carl podcast, and Fridays are our popular Weekend Reading column (where we round up a dozen of the most interesting industry news articles of the week).
In the 'early' days of the blog – for more than a decade(!) from 2008 through 2018 – I was the primary (and, for most of that time, the sole) writer producing our content. Fortunately, we were able to grow the readership of the blog, and the platform as a whole, from my ability to write articles (often on the road while also traveling to a full calendar of industry conferences to speak!). The challenge, though, was that it took all of my time to do so, which meant there was no time left to further expand the capabilities of the platform itself and what we offered to help the advicer community.
As a result, over the past 4 years, we've invested into a growing team of "Nerds" who have learned to write Kitces-style content, along with an amazing Technical Editor, Erica Mito, to ensure our technical accuracy and content consistency, and a Podcast Producer, Ian McNeny, to ensure that all our audio content is recorded, produced, and published in a timely manner. All led by Managing Editor Sydney Squires, to keep the whole team and system running smoothly! Which is why you don't see my byline on Nerd's Eye View blog articles quite as much as you used to. Not all Kitces content is necessarily Michael content anymore.
In other words, similar to how advisory firms eventually make a transition from the founder being the primary advisor to having multiple advisors, so too has Nerd's Eye View been in a transition from having me as the primary writer (the primary Nerd!?) to having multiple Nerd writers. Just as we've also added multiple Nerds to our team of Kitces Speakers, which originally was 'just' myself, then included Jeff Levine, Dr. Derek Tharp, and Dr. Meghaan Lurtz, and most recently added Ben Henry-Moreland (delving deeper into the tax topics he writes about), and Adam Van Deusen (on the marketing and differentiation topics you've seen him cover on Nerd's Eye View!).
But making this transition, as an organization, means setting standards for what constitutes "Kitces" content, to ensure that the advicer community continues to receive the kind of content they expect from Kitces, even if it wasn't created or delivered by me, Michael.
Internally at Kitces, these have become known as our Q-N-R standards – short for Quality, Nerdy, and Relevant – which we believe encapsulates what makes Kitces content unique. Which means you can continue to have confidence in the "Quality" of our content – that it's well-written, provides useful insights that build up to a key point to be gleaned, and has been fact- and detail-checked. And you can continue to expect that ongoing level of "Nerdiness" in our content, where we really delve deep and thoroughly research the issue, and convey all the relevant information you'd possibly want and need to know. And we remain focused on trying to create the most "Relevant" content that we can – that it's genuinely useful, and pertinent to what you're really dealing with in your own practice on a day-to-day and month-to-month basis.
And so as you continue to see more Nerd's Eye View content from a wider range of Nerds on the Kitces Team, I hope you'll agree that it's continuing to represent what the Kitces brand stands for. But please let us know what you think – as you may have noticed, we have a prompt at the end of each article to "Rate This Article", so we can get the feedback from you to let us know if we're on target with our QNR standards. And if you don't think we're covering the right topics that are most relevant, let us know what we should be covering with our recently added Suggest Topics area!
Expanding IAR CE Content In 2024 As (7 More) States Roll Out New IAR CE Requirements
Notwithstanding the fiduciary obligation of Registered Investment Advisers to meet not only the Duty of Loyalty (to provide advice in the best interests of the client) but also the Duty of Care (to take steps to ensure that the advice they're providing is the right advice), the bizarre reality is that for nearly 80 years since the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, investment adviser representatives had no continuing education requirements to ensure that they were actually staying up to speed on their financial knowledge to meet that Duty of Care. It was only in 2020 that the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) actually promulgated a new Model Rule that states could implement to require that Investment Adviser Representatives (IARs) providing services in their state fulfill an ongoing 12-hours-per-year CE requirement.
However, while NASAA has put forth a Model Rule for new regulations, it's up to states to actually implement them. Which happens individually for each state based on their own legislative or regulatory processes for implementing new investment adviser requirements. As a result, when the new IAR CE rule first went live in 2022, it applied in only 3 states – Maryland, Mississippi, and Vermont – with 8 more states (Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia) that activated the IAR CE requirement in 2023. Which meant that in practice, the IAR CE obligation applied to barely 20% of all states, and fewer than 20% of all investment adviser representatives (given that the early adopters were generally some of the less-populous states).
In 2024, though, the scope of IAR CE will expand significantly as 7 more states come online with the CE obligation, including not only Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, North Dakota, and Tennessee, but also, more importantly, California and Florida. Which is notable not only because those are 2 of the 4 most populous states by the number of RIA firms, but also because the IAR CE obligations apply based on any state that an investment adviser representative is registered (due to having more than the 5-client de minimis that trigger registration)… and almost 50% of all RIAs have enough clients to trigger registration in California and/or Florida even if it's not their home state!
To help financial advicers fulfill their new 12-hour IAR CE obligation – which includes 6 hours of "Products & Practice" and 6 hours of "Ethics & Professional Responsibility" – Kitces.com rolled out its own IAR CE programs in 2022, cross-applying IAR CE credits to all of our Nerd's Eye View written blog content and our pre-recorded webinars, allowing investment advisers to get their IAR CE done at the same time they fulfill their CFP, CPA, EA, and other various professional-designation CE as well.
In 2023, we expanded our IAR CE content offerings further to include our new "Kitces IAR Ethics CE Day" – a live 6-hour virtual event that allowed advicers to fulfill all of their Ethics & Professional Responsibility IAR CE obligations in a single day. Built for those who would rather see it than just read it (as we'll continue to provide at least 6 hours of new written IAR Ethics CE content on the Nerd's Eye View blog each year as well), our first IAR Ethics CE Day had more than 600 IARs participating in the live event, and due to its popularity, we're bringing it back for 2024! So Save the Date for August 29th of 2024!
We're also expanding our IAR CE offerings to include IAR CE credits for our monthly live webinars (in addition to the recorded webinars and Nerd's Eye View blog content), so advisors who prefer live presenters to written content will be able to fulfill 100% of their annual IAR CE obligations in 2024 with live-video-based content on Kitces!
Members Section Benefits And Pricing Updates
With the ongoing growth of Kitces.com, we've been heavily focused on reinvesting into the platform to provide even more CE content options for the advicer community, and making the learning experience better as well.
In 2024, this will start first and foremost with expanding our fastest growing content offering in 2023: our monthly webinars, which averaged more than 1,500 advicers participating in each webinar this past year! And so, starting in January, we'll now be offering 2 advanced educational webinars every month – on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month at 3 PM (EST/EDT) – with each granting 1.5 hours of CE credit (including the main speaker presentation and subsequent Q&A). And as noted earlier, each of the 2 webinars per month will provide IAR CE in 2024 (in addition to CFP, CPA, and all the other designations we provide CE credit for!).
Our Members Section will also continue to host our popular 3rd-Fridays practice management content, including our "Advisor Makeover" series, hosted by yours truly, on key challenges that advisory firm business owners face, and our new "Software Showcase" series, where we bring you a series of vendor demos and Q&A opportunities in popular AdvisorTech categories to make it easier for you to quickly compare key vendors side-by-side when you're shopping for new tech tools (now hosted by our Financial Planning Nerd, Adam Van Deusen!).
Beyond our expanding content, we're also making reinvestments into the back end of the platform. Hopefully, members have noticed a significant improvement in how quickly the Members Section navigation and quizzes are loading (since we deployed a major update in mid-November), and our development team is focused on making additional speed and performance improvements in the coming months. And in the second half of 2024, we'll be starting a project to re-design our entire Members Section itself – including the layout and navigation to the various content and CE offerings, which we recognize has gotten more complex as we've added more Members Section features over the years, and is in need of an overhaul to make it easier to use and find what you're looking for!
However, with the expanded content, and the ongoing impact of inflation, we are raising our own Members Section fees in the coming year by $20/year, from $169 to $189. Some may recall that we raised fees by $20/year at the end of 2022 as well, which was largely to pass through the nearly $20/hour reporting fees that CFP Board began to impose on CE providers. Now we're implementing one additional price increase to account for the impact of inflation on Kitces team salaries over the past few years. But we hope and anticipate that this price change, and the ongoing scaling of the Kitces platform, will slow the pace of further fee increases in the years to come.
New Kitces Course On Roth Conversions, Ongoing Summits, And More Advicer Research
In 2021 and 2022, we invested heavily into expanding the Kitces Editorial team to maintain and expand the ongoing Nerd's Eye View blog content while maintaining our QNR standards (and supporting resources like our AdvisorTech Map and our Master Conferences and CFP Scholarship lists, that are so popular with the advisor community). In 2023, our focus was expanding our Engagement team, so we have the team depth and breadth to provide support for our 15,000+ members and nearly 60,000 readers. And now, as we head into 2024, we're making big investments into our Education team, expanding our Live Events team (to support the additional flow of monthly webinars), and adding a new Instructional DesigNerd and Curriculum DesigNerd to develop more of our Kitces Courses.
Our Kitces Courses are unique in that their focus is not simply to provide more educational content – which we already do in spades via the Nerd's Eye View blog and monthly webinars – but specifically to provide opportunities for training and skills development. Where advicers don't just learn about the material, they get a chance to practice applying it, with hypothetical but realistic case studies and client scenarios.
First up in 2024 will be a new course on Roth Conversions – not just the technical rules, but best practices in how to analyze which clients need them, how to determine the optimal amount to convert to maximize a client's long-term wealth, how to efficiently execute them, and best practices in communicating them to clients. This complements our existing course on Optimizing Social Security Claiming Strategies as we expand into a series of courses on popular retirement planning strategies. We anticipate our new Roth Conversions course will be available in mid-2024, with a second Kitces Course coming towards the end of the year.
In addition to the ongoing addition of new Kitces Courses, we'll also be continuing our Kitces Research studies on advicers in 2024. First up will be our Advicer Marketing study, followed by our Advicer Productivity study in the 2nd half of 2024. And our recent Advicer Wellbeing study, which we ran in the second half of 2023, will be released to members in the coming weeks (and the rest of the advisor community later in Q1 of 2024). All are built to help advance the understanding and best practices of what 'real' financial advisors – who are actually in the business of giving and getting paid for their advice – actually do to deliver value to clients and run and grow efficient practices.
In the meantime, you'll also continue to see our Advicer Summits again in 2024! We just wrapped up our Financial Planning Value Summit last week, with nearly 1,000 participants, covering topics from first-year planning blueprints with prospects to creating personal website portals for clients to building and automating a meeting agenda process for client review meetings (and if you missed it, you can still purchase the full recording here!). And coming up next April 25th (Save The Date!), we will have our next Kitces Marketing Summit – where we offer advicers a behind-the-scenes look at the marketing and sales tactics of other advicers, and show (literally, with a screen share) what they're doing that's actually working to grow their practices. Stay tuned for early-bird registration in early 2024, and advicers who are having success in their marketing and have something they want to share (as a paid speaking opportunity!) can submit their prospective topic via our Summit submission page here.
Expanding The Kitces Team Of Nerds (And New Career Opportunities!)
The ongoing growth of 'Financial Advicers' who deliver (and really get paid for) financial planning has driven a significant increase in demand for more education, resources, and guidance on how to improve at the craft of advice delivery, which in turn has led to significant growth in the Kitces team over the past several years, which now numbers more than 20 people who work behind the scenes to make it all happen.
And it's been the growth of this team that has allowed us to expand our content, with more navigational resources like our AdvisorTech directory, more webinars and Office Hours, and the launch of Kitces Courses and our Marketing and Value Summits, as well as a host of behind-the-scenes platform improvements from the faster loading speed of our Member's Section to more advanced administrator features to manage group memberships.
All in pursuit of our mission: "Making Financial Advicers Better, and More Successful".
But that doesn't mean we're done yet! In fact, over the past several months, we've continued to invest into the team to support the ongoing growth of our members and offerings, including Manager of People and Culture Daniel Nowatnick, Podcast Producer Ian McNeny, Senior Events Specialist Lori Sherman, Instructional DesigNerd Apoorva Sehgal, and Curriculum DesigNerd Jonathan Dursteler.
And in the coming year, we'll be hiring more new positions to support the continued growth of our Team of Nerds! A few of the upcoming positions we expect to hire in 2024 include:
- Director of Product and Platform to lead, grow, and scale our Platform team as well as manage the Kitces.com technology platform and Kitces Advicer Database (KAD), as we enrich the reader and Member experience on the website!
- Associate Financial Planning Nerd for writing and supporting the creation of original Nerd's Eye View articles (and the associated research and analysis) and supporting the financial advicer community with the development of various deliverables!
- Operations Associate to help us maintain our 'nerdy' culture as the Kitces.com team grows and scales, and support the ongoing training, development, and internal engagement of the team!
- Director of Advisor Research to lead our expanding research work on Advicers across our 4 major studies (AdvisorTech, Pricing & Productivity, Marketing, and Wellbeing)!
So, if you or anyone you know might be interested, sign up for the Kitces Careers mailing list here to stay apprised when we begin the hiring process for these (or other future) openings on the Kitces team.
All of which is ultimately in pursuit of our mission at Kitces.com – to Make Financial Advicers Better, and More Successful, through our N-E-R-D-y organizational strategy: providing Navigational resources, delivering Educational Insights, conducting Research on Advicers, and supporting the Development of Advicer skills. (Yes, it's true; our strategic roadmap literally spells the word "NERD"! 😊)
And, of course, we still remain as committed as ever to creating high-quality, advicer-centric, insightful content through our Nerd's Eye View blog articles by our growing team of Nerds, with plenty of opportunities for Advicers themselves to get involved or become contributors – or to just keep following along the content journey with us!
And if there's anything else you think we should be working on that we've missed, please share your thoughts in the comments below!