InvestmentNews reporters offer their take on intriguing or controversial articles from around the web.
Dec 31, 2014
The biggest U.S. banks and the nation's top defenders are extremely concerned about cyberterrorists' shutting down operations or stealing sensitive information. Why aren't financial advisers more concerned? Only 30% of financial advisers said they plan to invest in cybersecurity next year, according to the InvestmentNews Outlook 2015 survey, the results of which will be released Monday. The topic of cybersecurity did not even make it onto the list of advisers' major concerns. Regulatory overload actually tops the list of adviser worries. However, if anyone is listening to the Securities and Exchange Commission, state regulators and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., all of them want financial firms to better arm themselves against cyberattacks. Even if one's broker-dealer handles overarching technology, an adviser's personal hardware (think mobile devices) must be secured, for example. (More: "10 ways advisers can... Read full post
Dec 9, 2014
On a scale of one to 10, what's your energy level? Six? Four? Two?Tony Robbins is hoping that with a little motivation, the investment advice business can hit at least an eight. As part of a three-hour presentation at MarketCounsel's annual summit in Las Vegas, Mr. Robbins offered advisers a taste of what they would get from the adviser mastery programs he plans to launch.The session, which resembled a church revival at many points, with chanting and exercises that had the roughly 400 attendees shaking hands and high-fiving their neighbors, mixed the self-empowerment message with talk of the importance of the fiduciary standard, better disclosure of fees, increasing investor education and improving the ratio of women to men in the securities industry. (More: Tony Robbins gets advisers talking at the 2014 MarketCounsel Summit)Most of the time was spent asking advisers to take an introspective look at their business, including... Read full post
Dec 3, 2014
The cobbler's children go unshod, and the estate planning reporter has no estate plan.Though estate planning has been a fun part of my coverage at InvestmentNews for about a year, I've always envisioned it as an esoteric practice for moneyed, older clients with lots of extended family. Take entrepreneur Dan Ashbach, who needed an estate plan to protect his $10,000 a month digital business. And don't forget the celebrities who've made their own estate planning errors, potentially saddling loved ones with multimillion dollar tax bills. As surprising as it seems, I — and undoubtedly, many of your young professional clients — have no estate plan whatsoever. The truth didn't hit me until after attending a seminar on Tuesday night with my accountant and an attorney he's brought in for a team approach to planning.It's never too early to begin sketching out the basic estate plan for your millennial financial planning clients.... Read full post
Nov 21, 2014
In the wake of accounting problems at American Realty Capital Properties Inc., the rest of Nicholas Schorsch's empire has drawn scrutiny for its complexity. And calling the Schorsch empire complex is putting it mildly. It includes dozens of nontraded real estate investment trusts and other illiquid alternative investment funds such as business development companies. Mr. Schorsch also controls traded REITs, mutual funds, broker-dealers and a giant real estate sponsor, American Realty Capital, which is the bedrock for his vast domain. Mr. Schorsch is chairman of American Realty Capital Properties Inc., or ARCP, which last month revealed a $23 million accounting error over the first six months of the year that was intentionally not corrected. Simply put, ARCP's admission to the accounting mistake has rocked Mr. Schorsch's world. Major broker dealers have temporarily halted sales of nontraded REITs he controls under the ARC or Cole brands. ... Read full post
Nov 7, 2014
As a record turnout of investment advisers gathered for Charles Schwab & Co.'s annual Impact conference in Denver, Colo., an uninvited guest lurked outside the gates. Refusing to let Schwab hoard all the attention of the nearly 3,600 advisers, industry executives, consultants and other attendees, Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, the RIA custody unit of Fidelity Investments, bombarded attendees with its own marketing assault. Giant ads for Fidelity, which competes with Schwab for client assets, and its new book, “Be Greater: Why Being Good Enough Is No Longer an Option,” were posted over a parking garage directly opposite the main entrance of the convention center. Fidelity also placed ads on local buses. The rival custodian also promoted its own tweet that appeared at the top of the feed whenever attendees searched for the #SchwabIMPACT hashtag. “What are you doing to build a great business?” the ad... Read full post
Sep 26, 2014
The age old question of what a bond is really worth was raised again this week when it was reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission is asking serious questions about how the world's largest bond shop, Pimco, valued some securities in its Total Return Bond ETF. Some markets for bonds can be notoriously opaque and illiquid, leaving advisers and investors with plenty of questions about the true value for a bond. And any news regarding Pimco and its eccentric, superstar co-founder — and now former fund manager — Bill Gross, will grab the investment advice industry's attention. The investment advice industry should expect regulators to continue their scrutiny of bond values, noted one industry executive. “Transparency in bond pricing is very much on the front burner for the SEC,” said Alexandra Lebenthal, president and chief executive of Lebenthal Holdings. “Bear in mind that there are tens of... Read full post
Sep 12, 2014
State securities regulators are making noise about implementing changes to policies that would limit how much a client's net worth could be invested in nontraded real estate investment trusts.As my colleague Mark Schoeff Jr. recently reported, the North American Securities Administrators Association Inc. has been circulating to industry regulators and representatives a list of 33 proposed changes to its REIT policy, with the intent to better protect investors. One of the recommendations on the list focuses on how much of a client's net worth can be allocated to nontraded REITs. And it's no wonder. Such REITs are in regulators' sights because of questions about their fees, transparency and performance during the credit crisis. Some registered reps who sold illiquid REITs before the real estate collapse of 2007 and 2008 have vowed never again to touch the product. Some of the most notable REITs of that era saw dividends slashed and... Read full post
Aug 8, 2014
The CFP Board of Standards Inc. is digging around to try and figure out why many financial planning program graduates don't go on to attain the certified financial planner mark. Early results are telling.A recent study showed that 69%, or 351 out of 506 graduates, had not taken the two-day comprehensive exam in the five years since they had completed their bachelor's or master's degree in financial planning. Hoping to enhance the pathway to the designation it grants, the CFP Board over the past two months had researchers sit down with graduates of five different financial planning programs and ask them what they've been up to since graduating up to six years ago.Of the 16 graduates interviewed, six had secured the mark, three had passed the exam but were still working on completing the two to three years of work experience needed before the board awards the certification, four planned to take the exam in the future and three said they... Read full post
Jul 23, 2014
There's a dog-eared copy of last year's copy of InvestmentNews' “most popular tech products” survey sitting on my desk, and it's finally time to retire it. The 2014 Technology Usage and Satisfaction Survey is in — all shiny and new and full of useful information. It publishes Monday, but I can give you a sneak peek.In taking a closer look at the rich data that respondents submitted, I came away with a picture of a typical tech-savvy adopter/buyer/user in the adviser space. That adviser is more likely to be an independent registered investment adviser than a registered rep at a broker-dealer. Assets under management range from $10 million to $99.9 million. The primary custodian is most likely to be Schwab Advisor Services or Pershing Advisor Solutions, and the top products used are Redtail Technologies Inc.'s customer relationship management platform, MoneyGuidePro's financial-planning system and Albridge Wealth... Read full post
Jul 16, 2014
Liquidity events of nontraded real estate investment trusts are heating up during the dog days of summer. This month already has seen one liquidity event — meaning a merger or a listing on an exchange; while a significant nontraded health care REIT is reportedly in talks to be acquired.July has also witnessed the announcement of an acquisition of a traded REIT that was composed of former nontraded REITs and a spinoff of a nontraded REIT asset manager from its traded REIT parent. The flurry in activity comes after the first half of the year saw only two liquidity events: the listings in April of the $2 billion American Realty Capital Healthcare Trust Inc. on Nasdaq and the $1.9 billion American Realty Capital New York Recovery REIT Inc., which changed its name to New York REIT Inc., on the New York Stock Exchange.In June, a giant health care REIT, Ventas Inc., said it agreed to acquire the ARC Healthcare Trust for $2.6 billion in... Read full post
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