Enjoy the current installment of "weekend reading for financial planners" – this week’s edition starts off with a review of the recent legislative shift on investment adviser oversight, suggesting that RIA lobbying was the successful driver that staved off the Baucus bill, and an article from the Journal of Financial Planning examining how the fiduciary standard should be properly applied by financial planners. From there, we look at two articles that challenge the traditional planning world, one suggesting that the next stage of financial planning may shift away from AUM to standalone planning fees (and highlighting a firm that is pushing this trend), and another focusing on some of the ways that financial planning in practice diverges from the theory. We also look at a few practice management articles, one about how young planners are being integrated into firms, another about how firms are getting creative in the benefits they provide to build employee morale and connections, and a third about how older clients and older staff members can diminish the value of a financial planning practice. This week’s summary also includes a few technical articles, including one suggesting that HSAs may become less popular starting in 2014 with the new Obamacare-mandated insurance plans, how advisors may start getting questions from clients soon about crowdfunding investment opportunities, and how using a reverse mortgage as a part of a "cash reserve" strategy can boost retirement income sustainability. We wrap up with two recent controversial articles – one from Bill Gross suggesting that "the cult of equities" is dying and exploring the ramifications of a low-return environment, and the other from the Harvard Business Review suggesting that you should never hire an employee who makes grammar mistakes. Enjoy the reading!
Under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Federal tax law only affords treatment to married couples when the marriage is between a man and a woman, and denies marital treatment for same-sex couples, regardless of whether the couple is recognized as married under state law. However, in the recent Windsor v. United States court case, a New York District Court declared the applicable Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional, and ruled that a same-sex couple should be eligible for the marital deduction for Federal estate taxes, resulting in a $363,000 estate tax refund. The case will likely end up in the Supreme Court, and in fact appears to be on the fast track to get there soon. If DOMA is ultimately declared unconstitutional, it will result in a dramatic shift in planning for same-sex couples, opening the door for marital treatment for estate tax marital deduction, intra-couple gifts, and numerous income tax deductions, credits, and other benefits afforded to married couples. At this point, DOMA is still the law of the land, but same-sex couples may wish to begin filing protective refund claims in case DOMA is ultimately struck down in the coming year.Read More…
The assets-under-management model for financial planning firms has become increasingly popular in recent years. However, its rising popularity has also brought a great deal of criticism, especially regarding the volatility of revenues as markets cycle up and down. As a result, some firms have begun to shift to a retainer-style model in an attempt to smooth out fees, rather than pricing on a strictly AUM basis.
Unfortunately, though, an annual retainer model where clients have to write a check for services makes the fee significantly more “salient” and can actually force firms to either cut prices or work harder to generate the same income, and may result in worse client attrition during down markets as fee-sensitive clients choose not to renew during difficult times.
As a result, some firms that shift to annual retainers are even shifting away from retainers and back to AUM pricing after a few years of business pain! Of course, the reality is that the AUM model can’t serve all clients, and retainers may be necessary in some segments of the marketplace; nonetheless, in situations where there is a choice, the AUM model may have far more longevity than some expect.
Enjoy the current installment of “weekend reading for financial planners” – this week’s edition starts off with a recent survey by the CFP Board and the Consumer Federation of America, showing that financial planning helps people to have more successful financial outcomes, and that the results hold regardless of income or wealth levels. We also look at some of the breaking legislative news this week, including new legislation to authorize the SEC to assess user fees to step up examinations (rather than delegate it to FINRA), and the indefinite tabling of the Baucus legislation due to lack of a clear consensus for support. From there, we look at a nice article about how inbound marketing can help advisors grow, and an advance peek at a new iPhone app to help advisors get a handle on the ever-growing contact list (especially given the explosion of social media). There’s also an interesting article exploring some of the math behind whether it’s really a good idea to wait to annuitize or not (given today’s interest rates), and a consumer article with a great series of estate planning questions everyone should consider for themselves that is equally relevant to planners and their clients. This week’s investment articles include a good discussion of long-term secular market cycles, some of the risks of exchange-traded notes, an evaluation by Morningstar of their new stewardship ratings for funds and how it impacts fund performance (and even survival), and the latest Mauldin missive discussing some of the economic surprises that may be coming in a few years. We finish with an interesting article by Aspiriant former CEO Tim Kochis, who shares what it was like as he transitioned from being a leader in one of the largest independent wealth management firms in the country to becoming a client – the outcome is some interesting insights, but Kochis’ article also raises the question about what kinds of experiences other planners might have if they became consumers of their own service. Enjoy the reading!
Identifying centers of influence has been useful and effective for businesses and advertisers as long as people of influence have wielded power in their communities. Historically, though, the challenge has been that it’s not always clear who is influential, especially in relatively narrow niches. However, as the use of social media continues to grow and evolve, quantifying influence, at least through social media channels, is becoming possible for the first time – and companies are jumping quickly to fill the void.
The current leader in this space is a company called Klout, which seeks to make itself the standard of measuring (online) influence. While thus far the company is relatively new and its impact is limited, it is growing fast. In fact, in some industries, an individual’s Klout score is already impacting their ability to get a job, or their opportunity to receive discounts and perks from advertisers. While the time hasn’t arrived yet, Klout may soon become relevant in the world of financial planning as well, for everything from increasing the visibility of an influential planner, to identifying centers of influence to contact in a target niche market. Which raises the question: do you have Klout?