Enjoy the current installment of "Weekend Reading For Financial Planners" – this week's edition kicks off with the news that comment letters submitted regarding the Department of Labor's (DoL) proposed Retirement Security Rule, which is intended to strengthen standards regarding the provision of certain retirement-related advice, reflect the contentious nature of the proposal, with brokerage and insurance industry groups arguing that existing regulations are sufficient to protect investors and questioning the legality of the measure and groups promoting a more consistent application of fiduciary standards writing in strong support of the proposal.
Also in industry news this week:
- Recent data show that RIAs are gaining on wirehouses in terms of advisor headcount and assets under management, with these trends expected to continue over the next several years
- The range of actions independent broker-dealers are taking to keep advisors under their umbrellas
From there, we have several articles on cash flow and spending:
- A framework for determining whether a particular financial decision can be made relatively quickly or deserves additional consideration
- Why "lifestyle creep", rather than inflation, might be more responsible for an individual's increased expenses and how to combat it
- Why the hunt for good deals can be costly in terms of both time and money
We also have a number of articles on retirement planning:
- Why the years immediately after retirement can be a particularly effective time to engage in (partial) Roth conversions
- An analysis shows that "buffer" Registered Index-Linked Annuities (RILAs), where the product absorbs a certain amount of loss in the underlying index, continue to offer a better value proposition than "floor" RILAs, which cap the amount of downside risk the investor will face
- Strategies that can help retirees get the most value out of of their Health Savings Account balances
We wrap up with 3 final articles, all about New Year's Resolutions:
- Potential New Year's Resolutions for financial advisors to consider implementing, from engaging in more targeted marketing to sharpening their technical skills
- How a pre-commitment strategy can increase the chances that an individual will follow through with their New Year's Resolution
- A range of tactics for creating and implementing a successful New Year's Resolution, from engaging in the "Minimum Viable Effort" to replacing, instead of trying to eliminate, bad habits
Enjoy the 'light' reading!
(Mark Schoeff | InvestmentNews)
The Department of Labor (DoL), in its role overseeing retirement plans governed by ERISA (e.g., employer-sponsored 401(k) and 403(b) plans), has gone through a multi-year process across 3 presidential administrations updating its "fiduciary rule" governing the provision of advice on these plans. The DoL fiduciary standard, first formally proposed in 2016 under the Obama administration, took a relatively stringent approach (where commission-based conflicts of interest had to be avoided altogether), but encountered numerous delays under the Trump administration and was ultimately vacated by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2018 (under the somewhat awkward auspices that brokerage firms and insurance companies themselves maintained that their own brokers and insurance agents are merely salespeople and therefore shouldn't be held to a fiduciary standard because they are not in a position of 'trust and confidence' with their customers), before in December 2020 being resurrected and adopted in a more permissive form (e.g., allowing broker-dealers to receive commission compensation for giving clients advice involving plans governed by ERISA, as long as the broker-dealer otherwise acts in the client's best interest when giving that advice).
Amid this backdrop the DoL released a new proposal in October 2023, dubbed the Retirement Security Rule (a.k.a. the Fiduciary Rule 2.0), which would again attempt to reset the line of what constitutes a relationship of trust and confidence between advisors and their clients regarding retirement investments and when a higher standard should apply to recommendations being provided to retirement plan participants. Notably the proposal would apply a fiduciary standard whenever a one-time rollover recommendation is made (not just as part of an ongoing relationship, as covered by PTE-2020), and would include those recommending rollovers out of a retirement plan, thereby covering a wide swath of investment advisers, brokers, and even insurance agents recommending annuities and insurance to prospective retirees' retirement assets) (that aren't currently covered by Regulation Best Interest because they're not securities).
As expected, the DoL's proposed rule has encountered strong opposition from brokerage and insurance industry groups, several of which testified against the proposed regulation in public hearings last month. Echoing their stance against the 2016 DoL Fiduciary Rule, the groups argued that in a transaction-based relationship, consumers understand that they're dealing with a salesperson who is paid on commission, meaning there is no implied relationship of trust and confidence that would justify a fiduciary standard. Which means, as the groups argue, that existing regulations such as Regulation Best Interest and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) 's Annuity Suitability & Best Interest model rule are sufficient to mitigate the worst conflicts of interest, while a more strict fiduciary standard would only serve to limit access to annuities and other financial products for retail consumers.
A range of brokerage and insurance industry groups also issued letters opposing the measures during the DoL's public comment period on the proposal. In its letter, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) argued that the proposed rule includes an "overly broad new definition of fiduciary", while the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI, echoing arguments that Regulation Best Interest and other current rules are sufficient to protect investors) suggested in its feedback that the proposal be withdrawn "unless and until there is objective data and evidence of actual harm to retirement savers that cannot be effectively addressed under current rules". The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) went even further in its comment, arguing that retirement savers themselves would be hurt by the new rule by placing a "barrier between low- and moderate-income savers and financial professionals".
For its part, the Investment Adviser Association (IAA), which advocates on behalf of Registered Investment Advisers, who are already bound by a fiduciary duty, offered a series of recommendations for adjusting particular proposed measures given their potential impact on RIAs. These include confirming that a request by an adviser to a prospect to hire them (including discussions of the adviser's service offerings and general investment philosophies) where a specific "recommendation" is not otherwise given is not fiduciary investment advice, a limited exception for an adviser's engagement with certain independent retirement plan fiduciaries, and, more broadly, to consider the compliance burden of the regulation on smaller RIAs in particular.
The DoL's proposals found support among those promoting stronger fiduciary standards in the financial services industry. In addition, the Institute for the Fiduciary Standard said in its comment letter that the DoL proposal is "essential to fill a regulatory gap", noting the need for title reform, where brokers and insurance agents acting in a product sales capacity could be required to refer to themselves in such a way instead of as a "financial advisor" or similar title that suggests an advice relationship and obfuscates their role as a salesperson of financial products.
Between the recent public hearings and comment period, both brokerage and insurance industry groups, as well as those promoting stronger fiduciary protections, have laid out their arguments, leaving it up to the DoL to decide whether to adopt its Retirement Security Rule as proposed or to adjust the measure before adoption. Nonetheless, given the brokerage and insurance industries' legal actions against the previous iteration of the "fiduciary rule" (and their not-so-veiled suggestion that they could pursue legal recourse against the latest measures), even if the DoL does move forward with its current proposal, its final disposition will almost certainly be determined by the courts as to whether the DoL is "overreaching" or appropriate in its expansion of fiduciary duty (in particular as it pertains to brokers and insurance agents recommending product sales in IRA rollover transactions).
(Brooke Southall | RIABiz)
Historically, broker-dealers, and large wirehouses in particular, have led the way in terms of advisor headcount and Assets Under Management (AUM). Nevertheless, recent years have seen a shift toward the RIA model, both among advisors (as brokers break away to start their own independent firms and aspiring advisors seek positions that don't rely on an 'eat what you kill' approach) and consumers (who might be attracted to the differentiated service proposition they can experience working with an RIA that isn't manufacturing its own financial services products for sale).
Recent data from research and consulting firm Cerulli Associates confirm this trend, with independent and "hybrid" RIAs expected to see an increase in AUM and headcount over the coming years, largely at the expense of the wirehouses. By 2027, Cerulli expects advisors at these firms to manage 31.2% of industry assets (with a 17.2% market share for independent RIAs and 14.0% for hybrids), up from 26.7% today, while wirehouse assets are expected to fall to 27.7% from 34.1% of total industry assets under management. This is due in part to the continued flow of advisors from the wirehouse channel to RIAs. When asked by Cerulli about factors that would attract them to independent models, advisors were most likely to note the potential for a higher payout (cited by 95% of respondents), greater autonomy (89%) and the ability to build financial value in an independent business (88%).
Together, Cerulli's findings suggest that RIAs are in a good place to attract advisor talent and consumer assets going forward given the level of independence as well as the income-earning and wealth-building potential they can offer breakaway brokers and a more advice-centric, rather than product-centric approach to the advisor-client relationship. Nonetheless, given the scale and brand awareness of the wirehouses, and as their own use of fee-based models increases (as opposed to primarily relying on commissions from selling products), competition for clients (and advisors) will likely remain stiff going forward, even amidst the favorable trends for RIAs.
(Diana Britton | Wealth Management)
As an increasing number of advisors are choosing the RIA model (in part due to the level of independence it offers, even compared to the independent broker-dealer model), many broker-dealers are looking for ways to keep their advisors (and the assets they manage) under their umbrella and to remain attractive to newer advisors.
One way some broker-dealers are doing so is by taking ownership stakes in advisor practices. For instance, Osaic (formerly Advisor Group) announced its first M&A deal in 2022, making a minority investment in a hybrid RIA, while Cetera bought minority stakes in two firms and made its first acquisition of a 'pure' RIA. In addition, LPL Financial expanded its liquidity and succession offering to unaffiliated advisors, under which LPL acquires practices with principals nearing retirement. Further, broker-dealers are trying to retain and attract advisors by launching affiliation options that give advisors more alternatives for structuring their business. For example, LPL offers a W-2 model, an RIA option, and a new W-2 model for advisors focused on high-net-worth clients, while Commonwealth also offers its advisors an RIA-only (no broker-dealer affiliation at all) option.
Another area where some broker-dealers are making changes is in how they support advisors under their umbrella. While many broker-dealers previously offered their advisors proprietary technology solutions, the challenge (and expense) of keeping these competitive amid an increasingly robust AdvisorTech marketplace has led many to outsource their tech stacks. Though, given that many broker-dealer tech stacks look similar to each other (reducing their value as a differentiator for advisors), those firms that offer better tech-related service for their advisors (e.g., in training or help desk support), or more broadly offer a wider range of middle- and back-office support services to their advisors (e.g., compliance, client service administration, paraplanning, etc.) could have an advantage in retaining and attracting advisors in the years ahead. Further, broker-dealers could be pressured to reduce, or possibly eliminate, some practice-related fees to remain competitive with the independent RIA model.
In sum, while advisors are increasingly attracted to the increased level of independence offered by the RIA model, many independent broker-dealers are taking steps to leverage their advantages (e.g., in scale and marketing budgets) as broker-dealers, or outright reinvent themselves as RIA support services platforms, to make their platforms more attractive to current and prospective advisors. Which could ultimately provide more options for advisors looking to maintain an advice-centric approach and a relatively high level of independence for their practices!
(Harry Sit | The Finance Buff)
When it comes to personal finance, there is a seemingly endless number of potential decisions to make, from deciding on the right investments to choosing an appropriate retirement income strategy. Which together could create significant stress for individuals if they feel pressured to make the 'right' decision every time. However, Sit suggests that while it is important to take the time to get certain financial choices 'right' the first time, it's possible to 'wing it' with other decisions and not threaten one's financial outlook.
One way to decide whether to be careful with a decision or to make a choice and move on is whether the decision is one-time or recurring. For instance, one-time decisions (e.g., choosing between 2 job opportunities) usually call for more care as an individual will have a harder time adjusting course compared to a recurring activity. In addition, when an individual is choosing between 2 options, considering whether they can split the difference and do both can reduce the pressure on the decision (e.g., choosing how to deploy a cash allocation). Finally, decisions that are hard to reverse (e.g., buying a particular home) tend to require more careful deliberation than those that do not.
With this framework in mind, financial decisions can be divided into "be careful" and "wing it" buckets. Sit suggests that decisions that require additional care include buying a certain type of life insurance (as it can be costly to get out of certain policies if the individual decides to change course), deciding when to claim Social Security (as it can impact one's income throughout retirement and because there are limited options to those who want to change their decision), and deciding whether to make a large one-time Roth conversion (as it can have significant tax ramifications). On the other hand, situations where an individual might "wing it" include choosing an investment custodian (as they could fairly easily change custodians later), using a particular tax software (as an individual could use a different provider the following year), or deciding whether make traditional or Roth contributions to their retirement account in a particular year (as they could make adjustments to this decision for contributions in future years).
Ultimately, the key point is that not every decision has a large and irreversible impact on an individual's financial future. And notably, this framework suggests a potentially valuable role for financial advisors, not only in helping clients determine which financial decisions require additional care, but also in running the numbers to help them make the best choice for their given circumstances!
(Julia Carpenter | The Wall Street Journal)
For many individuals, the end of the year represents a convenient time to look back on their spending during the past 12 months to ensure that it matches their expectations (and the assumptions in their financial plan). For those who conduct this exercise and find that their spending significantly exceeded their targets, an easy villain to blame could be the elevated inflation levels experienced during the past two years.
However, for many individuals, the effects of inflation do not fully explain their increased spending. For some, "lifestyle creep" (i.e., increasing one's spending beyond the rate of inflation over time, for example, by living in a nicer house or buying a fancier car) can play a major role in influencing their total expenses (both this year and into the future). For instance, individuals who saw their income rise over the past couple years might have increased their spending commensurately (leading them to have similar savings despite their increased income), while others might have turned pandemic-era splurges (e.g., ordering restaurant delivery) into regular habits.
The first step to combating lifestyle creep is to go back into one's transactions over the past year and determine the areas where spending increased and why. For instance, some spending increases (e.g., electricity bills or insurance costs) could largely be attributed to inflation, while others (e.g., going out with friends) might be most accurately attributed to lifestyle choices rather than rising prices. Then, once areas of lifestyle creep have been identified, an individual can determine areas where they might want to cut back and where they want to prioritize increased spending (given that a bit of lifestyle creep can fit well within a healthy financial life, particularly if one's income is increasing at a faster pace). For example, someone doing this exercise might choose to maintain their elevated budget on concert tickets while cutting back on rideshare expenses.
Altogether, while it might be easy to blame inflation for one's increased expenses, rising prices are unlikely to be the only cause. By taking a closer look at how spending has changed across different categories (and how each were affected by inflation), individuals (and their advisors) can determine whether they might need to make changes to align their spending with their broader financial goals!
(Katie Gatti Tassin | Money With Katie)
Consumers today are bombarded with advertisements, not only for actual goods and services, but also for the 'limited time' sales offered by various companies. For those looking to stretch their dollars, such entreaties can be tempting, but, in reality, they can come with hidden (and not-so-hidden) costs.
First, the desire to search for the best deals could be characterized as "choresumption", or the time cost of searching for the 'best' deal for a certain good or service. Because for many individuals, an hour of free time is worth significantly more than the amount of money, they might save searching for the best price for certain items. In addition, 'sale' culture can cover up a second issue: if an individual does not actually need a certain item, the amount of the discount should not make a difference in their decision to (not) buy it. For example, it might be tempting to buy a new pair of earbuds that usually cost $200 but are on sale for $75 (what a deal!). But if an individual currently has a pair of earbuds that work well, eschewing the new ones is an even better deal (because spending nothing on them is essentially a 100% discount!).
Ultimately, the key point is that while it can be hard to resist the temptation of buying items on sale, these goods and services can come with hidden costs, whether in the form of purchases one might not have made otherwise or in the time it takes to find the 'best' deal. For those with the financial means, this situation can be remedied by worrying less about the cost of what they buy (reducing the stress and time costs of finding a better deal), while finding ways to desire less (even if it's a 'good' deal!) could help everyone cut back on their consumption (and the spending required to pay for it).
(William Byrnes and Robert Bloink | ThinkAdvisor)
Roth conversions are, in essence, a way to pay income taxes on pre-tax retirement funds in exchange for future tax-free growth and withdrawals. The decision of whether or not to convert pre-tax assets to Roth is, on its surface, a simple one: If the assets in question would be taxed at a lower rate by converting them to Roth and paying tax on them today, versus waiting to pay the tax in the future when they are eventually withdrawn, then the Roth conversion makes sense. Conversely, if the opposite is true and the converted funds would be taxed at a lower rate upon withdrawal in the future, then it makes more sense not to convert.
Typically, this means that an individual will wait for lower-earning years to engage in (partial) Roth conversions. While these years could occur during one's career (e.g., if they took a sabbatical or experienced a period of unemployment), they can also happen after they retire. For instance, an individual who retires at age 62 (and has sufficient assets or income streams to support their spending) might have several years of very low taxable income (perhaps until they claim Social Security or have to take Required Minimum Distributions from their pre-tax retirement accounts). This could present a prime opportunity for (partial) Roth conversions that not only could provide them with a more secure retirement (as converted funds can grow and be withdrawn tax-free as long as certain rules are followed), but also benefit their heirs as well (particularly if the tax rate paid on the conversion is less than the rate a beneficiary would pay on an inherited traditional IRA)!
Notably, financial advisors have several valuable roles to play when it comes to supporting clients with Roth conversions, from determining the periods in which Roth conversions might be most effective to the optimal amount to convert to considering whether alternate strategies (e.g., capital gains harvesting) might have a bigger payoff in a given year. Which can lead to significant tax savings for clients (and their heirs) and offer another opportunity for advisors to further demonstrate their value.
(David Blanchett | Advisor Perspectives)
To meet the needs of consumers looking for annuity products that offer more potential upside than traditional fixed index annuities (which track an investment index but cap the investor's upside potential in exchange for guaranteeing the initial premium), in recent years insurance companies have begun to create more flexible products. For instance, the Registered Index-Linked Annuity (RILA), 'relaxes' the traditional principal guarantee of the fixed indexed annuity by allowing at least some limited downside potential in exchange for introducing significantly more upside opportunity (e.g., higher participation rates and/or higher caps than traditional fixed indexed annuities).
While RILAs introduce downside potential (compared to fixed income annuities), this downside can be mitigated by using either a 'buffer' or a 'floor' product. With buffer RILAs, the product absorbs a certain amount of loss in the underlying index; for example, if the price of the underlying index decreases by 5%, an investor with a 10% buffer RILA would not incur any losses. However, the investor is not protected from losses beyond the buffer level; for instance, if the underlying index declined by 30%, the investor would experience a 20% loss (the difference between the total decline and the buffer level). Given the potential for significant losses (and the fact that many advisors and their clients use RILAs to mitigate against downside risk), 'floor' RILAs offer an alternative approach, capping the amount of downside risk the investor will face. For instance, if an investor has a RILA with a 10% floor and the underlying index declines by 30%, the investors will 'only' incur a 10% loss.
However, the tradeoff for this protection (compared to buffer RILAs) can come in the form of both worse performance when there is a smaller negative return on the underlying index (e.g., using the product examples above, a 5% decline in the underlying index would result in no loss for an investor with a 10% buffer RILA but a 5% loss for one with a 10% floor) as well as more limited upside potential (as floor RILAs tend to come with lower cap rates). In fact, using certain capital market assumptions, the features of RILA products available today, and a risk aversion function, Blanchett's analysis found that investors typically would come out better with allocations to buffer RILAs compared to floor RILAs.
In sum, financial advisors and their clients today have a range of available products (and features within them) to mitigate (or eliminate) downside risk while offering upside potential, which provides advisors an opportunity to add value by recommending the most appropriate option for their client's needs. And when it comes to RILAs, the relative benefits between floor and buffer options appear to skew heavily in the latter's favor!
(Elliott Appel | Kindness Financial Planning)
Although numerous tax-advantaged vehicles are available for retirement savings, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have particular benefits for individuals saving for retirement. Specifically, HSAs offer a "Triple Tax Benefit" that includes tax-deductible contributions, tax-deferred growth, and tax-free withdrawals for qualified medical expenses. This can allow individuals to save a significant amount that can be withdrawn tax-free for medical expenses later in retirement.
Given these benefits, many individuals pay out-of-pocket medical expenses during their working years from their ongoing cash flow, allowing the full amount of their HSA to be invested and grow into the future. Which can lead to a larger HSA balance when the individual reaches retirement and their medical expenses are likely to increase. Notably, qualified medical expenses for HSA distributions not only include 'regular' medical expenses (e.g., doctor's visits or prescriptions), but also for Medicare premiums, Part B and Part D deductibles, copays, and coinsurance, as well as a certain amount of long-term care insurance (once an individual reaches age 65 they can withdraw HSA funds for any purpose penalty-free, though they will owe ordinary income tax on the distribution).
Retirees have a few options to leverage the dollars in their HSA. The simplest strategy might be to pay for qualified medical expenses directly from the HSA (account holders typically receive a debit card that they can use to pay medical bills). However, an alternate approach (for retirees with the means to do so) is to pay for medical expenses from other income sources (perhaps using a points-earning credit card that is then paid off with available cash flow) and then save the receipts from the medical expense, as individuals with HSAs can make tax-free distributions for qualified expenses at any time (i.e., not necessarily in the year the expense occurred) as long as the expense was incurred after the HSA was established (though this requires some recordkeeping to be able to justify the expenses to the IRS if requested). Importantly, retirees generally will want to empty their HSA before their deaths, as they are a relatively tax-inefficient way to bequeath wealth (though surviving spouses can maintain the HSA status).
Ultimately, the key point is that HSAs represent one of the most tax-efficient savings vehicles available to investors and can be used for a variety of health-related expenses in retirement. And given the range of potential drawdown strategies, financial advisors can add value to their clients by helping them choose the optimal approach based on their unique situation!
(Bryce Sanders | Financial Advisor)
While individuals often make New Year's Resolutions in their personal lives (whether to work out more, learn a new language, or something else), professional resolutions can be a valuable practice as well. And for financial advisors, there are no shortage of potential ways to grow one's skills and/or practice.
Given that financial advisors are often more interested in providing high-quality service for their clients than they are in prospecting for new clients, it can be easy to let marketing efforts fall into the background. But even for advisors who are happy with the size of their client base, potential attrition can lead to a shrinking client base, necessitating at least some effort to gain new clients. For these advisors, potential resolutions could include a renewed push for client referrals (perhaps after reviewing what the client and the advisor accomplished together over the past year) or selecting a single marketing strategy (perhaps after reviewing how the advisor acquired their favorite and/or highest-value clients) and digging deep into it (potentially using the "time blocking" technique and dedicating certain hours of the week to it) rather than taking a more scattershot approach.
Another category of potential resolutions for advisors is to seek educational opportunities that not only can increase the level of service they provide to their clients, but also to spice up their normal routine by adding expertise in a new planning or practice management area. For instance, an advisor might choose to dig deeper into investment planning, estate planning, or client communication techniques to sharpen their skills in these areas. Whether in the form of formal designations, online courses, or educational conferences, there are a range of educational media available for advisors with different learning style preferences.
In the end, New Year's Resolutions don't just have to be about personal improvement, but can also lead to professional development as well, whether by improving one's skills as an advisor or by finding new ways (or committing more fully to current tactics) to grow one's business!
(Jack Raines | Young Money)
While New Year's Resolutions are easy to make, they tend to be much harder to keep (at least for an extended period). One reason that this happens is that it can be difficult to make changes to one's established routine. For instance, a resolution to go to the gym more often requires finding dedicated time (in what might already be a busy weekly calendar) to go work out and actually sticking to the new schedule (which could be hard if it is competing with other priorities) for an extended period, as author James Clear has found that it takes approximately 66 days for a new habit to form.
Given the challenge of adjusting one's routine for an extended period, those looking to keep their resolutions often have to find ways to overcome this friction. One strategy is "pre-commitment", or making a commitment in the present to take some action in the future. For instance, a pre-commitment strategy for exercising more often might be to book (and pay for) several personal training sessions in advance. By pre-committing (in the form of paying for training), the individual has made an agreement with their future self to actually follow through with the resolution (because even if their future self is 'too tired' to go to the gym, the fact that they already paid the money for the training sessions can incentivize them to go). Another pre-commitment strategy is to partner with another individual to achieve a mutual goal; in the previous example, the goal-setter might be more incentivized to go to the gym if they knew they'd be letting their partner down by skipping a day when they were planning to work out together.
In sum, while keeping a New Year's Resolution over the course of the year (and beyond) is challenging, leveraging pre-commitment strategies can help encourage your future self to follow through with the goals your current self sets today!
(Eric Barker | Barking Up The Wrong Tree)
While no one makes a New Year's Resolution intending for it to fail, research from psychology professor Richard Wiseman found that 88% of people do not achieve their resolutions. Nonetheless, this does not mean that resolutions are doomed to be broken; rather, implementing a series of research-backed best practices can improve the odds that a resolution will succeed.
The first key to following through on resolutions (New Year's or otherwise) is to focus on one thing at a time. For example, it's easier to focus just on walking more steps each day than it is to try to walk more, eat better, and talk to one's parents more often. The next step is to focus on the obstacles that one will face pursuing the resolution (e.g., finding time in the week to get it done) rather than fantasizing about the end results; doing so can help one create a specific plan to achieve the goal rather than think in generalities (i.e., committing to eating at least 2 vegetables at lunch and dinner each day is likely to be more effective than just committing to eating vegetables more often). Notably, each step of the plan does not have to be a major challenge; rather, engaging in what Stanford researcher BJ Fogg calls the "Minimum Viable Effort", or doing small tasks consistently, can increase the chances that the resolution will become an ingrained habit.
Many individuals make a New Year's Resolution to break a 'bad' habit (e.g., wanting to spend less time mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds). In the latter case, one way to break these habits is to replace them instead of trying to eliminate them. For instance, someone who scrolls through social media when they're bored could replace the habit by instead reading a book on their phone when boredom strikes. Relatedly, individuals can manipulate the context of their habit to discourage themselves from doing it. In the above case, deleting the relevant social media apps from their phone (thus requiring them to go to the website and log in each time they want to use it) could discourage them from checking them each time they are tempted to do so.
Ultimately, the key point is that while it can be challenging to follow through on a New Year's Resolution for the long haul, leveraging these tactics (and others, such as commitment devices and leveraging friends) can increase the chances of successfully doing so!
We hope you enjoyed the reading! Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts, or make a suggestion of any articles you think we should highlight in a future column!
In the meantime, if you're interested in more news and information regarding advisor technology, we'd highly recommend checking out Craig Iskowitz's "Wealth Management Today" blog.