Even though markets have been calm recently, the large equity selloff in the second half of 2015 and in the early portion of 2016 illustrates how quickly investor sentiment can sour. Robo-advisor Betterment has raised another $100 million in venture capital and plans to use the funding to build out additional advice products.
The registered investment advisor community is quickly growing as clients increasingly prefer working with advisors who comply with the fiduciary standard, says Bill Van Law, president of Raymond James’s Investment Advisors Division. Advisors with the Certified Financial Planner distinction tend to have higher levels of trust among clients and earn, on average, 20% more than other advisors, according to a study funded by the CFP Board of Standards and conducted by the Aite Group.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has created the office of Risk and Strategy to focus on examining investment advisors and mutual funds. Many Americans nearing retirement age are pursuing careers with a charitable or civic service nature, which is creating opportunities for financial planners. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision to shift resources from broker exams to advisor exams has been driven by necessity, says Marc Wyatt, director of the examinations office. Among black working-age households, 62% have no savings in retirement accounts, while only 37% of working-age white households lack such savings, according to a National Institute on Retirement study.
Individuals who are old enough to sneak past the recent termination deadline for using the file and suspend strategy that helps boost Social Security benefits are reportedly being told they are not allowed to use the strategy. A study of retirement assets during the 2000s has concluded that retirees in the top quintile of wealth have been spending substantially less than their savings allows for. Funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Futures Trading Commission would be doubled by 2021 under the budget recently proposed by President Obama.
President Obama’s proposed budget includes provisions that would increase the number of Americans covered by employer-sponsored retirement plans by expanding the use of multiple employer plans.
Bill McNabb, who is the chief of ETF giant The Vanguard Group is warning the industry that the large number of ETFs being launched could create problems for investors. The Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary standard could create a big increase in orphan accounts, which are accounts that end up being managed by home offices rather than by broker-dealers registered reps, says Paul Sankovich, chief compliance officer at Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is investigating how robo advisors manage risk, says Dawn Calonge, surveillance director at the organization. Deena Friedman, who skippered the Fidelity Select Retail Fund to an 18.59% return in 2015, has been selected by Bloomberg as the stock picker of the year. Only one out of every five advisor recruits stays in the industry, but firms can take various steps to improve retention. The Securities and Exchange Commission has fined Everhart Financial Group nearly $240,000 and ordered the advisory firm to appoint a chief compliance officer after the regulator determined that the company was inappropriately recommending funds with 12b-1 fees for retirement plans. With weakening economic growth in China and other concerns driving market volatility, billionaire investor George Soros says capital markets currently remind him of conditions that existed during the economic crisis of 2008. For financial advisory firms, implementing customer relationship management technology can be a high stakes and dicey undertaking. Galen Marsh, who as a Morgan Stanley advisor downloaded client data to his home computer without permission, has been sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $600,000 in restitution.
Retirement plan fees are falling as 401(k) participants increasingly embrace low-cost products.
The proposed Department of Labor fiduciary standard could cost the financial industry in excessive of $2.4 billion in lost transaction revenues, which is more than double most estimates, says Morningstar Analyst Stephen Ellis.
A small number of stocks including Amazon, General Electric, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Facebook drove market gains in 2015. Having $30,000 in student debt can cut as much as $325,000 from 401(k) balances by the time an individual reaches retirement. Only 64% of advisors responding to a recent Russell Investments Financial Professionals Outlook survey have a positive outlook for capital markets over the next three years. Online market gurus have been forecasting rapid growth of web surfers connecting to cyberspace with smartphones and tablets and a decrease in the use of desktops and laptops.


Smart Beta exchange traded funds captured $3 billion in assets in October and $53.7 billion during the first ten months of this year, according to London-based research firm ETFGI. Despite occasional articles about advisors stealing from clients, only 2% of individual advisors have reported criminal charges such as felony convictions or investment related misdemeanors, according to an analysis of industry data by Big Crunch. Morgan Stanley advisors who land clients that need cash management services next year can receive bonuses up to $50,000. Susan Elizabeth Walker, 51, of Plymouth, Minnesota, has been sentenced to more than seven years in the slammer after being found guilty of stealing $1.1 million from at least 24 clients.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a warning regarding outsourced compliance programs based on deficiencies that it has uncovered during examinations. Providing low-cost tax return preparation to generate financial planning prospects is just one of a variety of successful strategies. During the past year, daily equity market declines and gains exceeding 1% have been common, with investor sentiment quickly changing based on the prevailing outlook for the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy.
File and suspend, which allows one member of a couple to receive a spousal benefit from Social Security while both spouses’ benefits continue to accrue, would be terminated under the budget bill that was recently passed by the House of Representatives. Mounting levels of student debt and declining home ownership among younger people means that many recent college grads will have to work to age 75 before retiring. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards should be raising the requirements to become a certified financial planning.
Periodically adjusting asset allocations based on expected returns of different asset classes can generate better returns than traditional target date funds, according to back testing completed by Grantham, May, van Otterloo.
Boston-based startup firm Gradifi has launched the Student Loan Paydown Plan, which allows business to make payments toward their employees’ student debt. Impact investors, or those investors seeking to invest in a socially responsible manner, don’t have to sacrifice returns to stay true to their calling, according to a new Wharton School study. In the next five years, private wealth is estimated to grow from approximately $14 trillion to $22 trillion.
Traditional advisors can compete with robo-advisors by being prepared to answer tough questions about fees, understanding what services clients value, expanding their referral networks, and clearly articulating the range of services they provide. Advisors should ensure that female clients can find financial planning documents, such as life insurance policies in the event that they outlive their husbands.
Advisors need to address frequently overlooked aspects of their digital branding to ensure that their reputation and marketing are assets rather than liabilities.
The Department of Labor is moving forward with a rule change intended to help states start retirement plans without running afoul of regulations included in the Employee Retirement Income and Security Act. Financial services firms are awaiting a list of products that the Department of Labor may restrict from being used in IRAs as part of its fiduciary standard rule.
Investors younger than 40 ramped up stock purchases on August 24 when the market tanked 1,000 points at the open, according to Robinhood, which is a stock trading app that is frequently used by Millennials. The Social Security Administration says it will provide retroactive spousal benefits to same-sex couples that were married in states that previously didn’t recognize such matrimonial unions, according to attorneys for plaintiffs. Many advisors may cringe when conversations suffer from akward silence, but such moments can lead to more productive conversations. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says he will continue to push for a fiduciary standard for retirement plan advisors even though Republicans and moderate Democrats are concerned that the rule could harm low-income individuals. Advisors need to understand the complex emotions that can accompany sudden wealth in order to best serve their clients. While blissful couples pledge to stay married until death, the reality is that approximately 50% of marriages inthe U.S.
Collecting Social Security early can help retirees assess how much they can spend because the payments are consistent. The annual household savings rate climbed to 5.5% last year, up nearly a full percentage point from 2013.


Advisors can engage their clients and strengthen relationships by using appropriate teaching styles for each investor’s preferred method of learning.
May and June have been tough months for Bill Gross and his Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund with investors withdrawing $50 million from the portfolio during the period, according to Morningstar. The Securities and Exchange Commission recently awarded a whistleblower $3 million for information that helped the regulator crack a complex case of fraud. Advocates of the fiduciary requirement for retirement investment advisors have delivered a petition with 230,000 signatures to the Department of Labor to urge the regulator to support the proposed standard.
Industry trade groups are proposing legislation that would require retirement planning advisors to serve in the best interest of clients rather than comply with the Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary standard, says Steve Saxon, chairman of Groom Law Group.
With the recent Supreme Court ruling shooting down state bans on same sex couples, financial planners should be ready to take a variety of estate planning actions with gay clients. In a lawsuit, San Antonio player Tim Duncan is alleging that his former financial advisors, Charles Banks, failed to disclose his own interest in investments that eventually lost $20 million for the superstar. Some advisors—including those who use funds from the Vanguard Group—say they can’t compete with the fund company’s financial planning services that charge only 30 basis points and serve clients with as little as $50,000 in assets. Only 30% of charitable donors have had conversations with their advisors about make gifts in a more strategic and long-term manner. The discovery process, or the act of interviewing prospects and clients to assess their goals, concerns, fears and assets, is a challenging, yet crucial component of the financial planning process. In a recent study by Edward Jones, 66% of Americans were unable to describe 529 plans at a time when college tuition costs are increasing at a rate that exceeds inflation. A study by the Journal of Financial Planning and the FPA Research and Practice Institute has determined that exchange-traded funds are now more popular among advisors than are mutual funds.
A recent study by Judy Diamond Associates has found that more than 54,000 401(k) plans had to make corrective distributions totaling $820 million in 2013.
Adopting a fiduciary standard for retirement advisors could cause investment professionals to fear legal liability and abandon the market, which could result in a loss of services to low- and middle-income investors, says FINRA Chairman and CEO Richard Ketchum. New research by Luke Delorme, who is a research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, confirms the results of a prior study by Wade Pfau and Michael Kitces that maintains that retirees may be well served by gradually increasing their equity allocations over time. Your browser does not support inline frames or is currently configured not to display inline frames. Those include services on its 401(k) platform and additional features for use by financial advisors. Now, recent data suggests the use of such portable devices has exploded, which underscores the need for advisors to ensure that their websites are well equipped to handle smartphone and tablet traffic. Instead, it is making it easier to obtain the credentials, writes Rick Kahler, who is president of financial planning firm Kahler Financial Group. During that period, furthermore, women are expected to control two-thirds of private wealth.
La Placa and a handful of other team members that collectively manage $3 billion in assets have left the San Francisco office of Deutsche Bank to start their own firm. The news is being celebrated by PC users who are hoping that the operating system will eradicate many of the frustrating issues with Windows 8 that have led to sharp criticism of Microsoft. If you throw into the mix the occasional premature death of a spouse, then it becomes clear that a substantial portion of advisors’ married clients are likely to become single.



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