I’m not sure I’ve ever given out this many “high” relevance ratings for a single issue of any of the industry’s trade magazines before, but this issue earned every one of them. Charles Paikert did a little digging and found that Focus Financial was dramatically overstating its overall AUM, which makes some of us question its credibility. Dave Grant offers great marketing advice when he suggests that you tell actual client outcome stories (positive ones, of course) when you describe the value of your services. Joel Bruckenstein reviews Morningstar’s flashy new iPad app for advisors who use Morningstar Office and Advisor Workstation, there’s a cautionary article on giving Social Security advice, and Allan Roth does a terrific job of uncovering some misleading sales pitches that are so common in the profession that they’re practically industry standard. He thinks they should be illegal.
Plus, Bob Veres wants to perform on-site audits for the SEC at a reduced rate. Read his column, and you may want in on this action.
Meanwhile, I am not exactly floored by the assertion in this month’s cover article that the SEC and FINRA are lumping together RIAs with brokerage offices then they list this year’s high priority enforcement issues, since FINRA seems to want us to think there is no difference, and the SEC appears to be increasingly confused about the actual distinction. We are experiencing de-facto regulatory harmonization, even as the debate rages about whether it make sense from a consumer protection standpoint. The remainder of the article explains the hot-button regulatory topics (whether rollovers are described fairly and in the client’s best interest; cybersecurity; asset gathering rather than actual management of client assets; supervision at branch locations; and recruiting reps or advisors with repeated compliance violations), and suggests that you get those bases covered if they are not already.
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Investment Advisor does the profession a great service by asking, forthrightly, whether there really is an examination problem in the RIA space, and why we assume that the frequency of exams has to go up. Isn’t it time to ask whether this is a valid assumption in the first place?
Meanwhile, Bob Clark passes on an interesting proposal (Thank you, David Maurice) for distinguishing between fiduciaries and salespeople, Mark Tibergien offers a guide to evaluating the potential growth of your firm, and Angie Herbers identifies some of the mistakes that advisory firm leaders make that hold them back in the evolution of their businesses.
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I’m not actually sure that fundamental indexing creates an “existential crisis” for the indexing concept, as the cover of this month’s issue of Financial Advisor claims, but the subject is interesting. I actually prefer Roy Diliberto’s column which opens the door to providing safer, less logical but more emotionally appropriate investment structures for clients. And I think bond managers are certainly right that risk is rising in fixed income investments—but what do you do about it?
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