InvestmentNews INsider

The INsiderblog

InvestmentNews reporters offer their take on intriguing or controversial articles from around the web.

May 15, 2015

Question for advisers: Why did Verizon buy dial-up dinosaur AOL?

By Alessandra Malito

Advisers can learn a thing or two from Verizon Inc., which last week said it would spend $4.4 billion to acquire AOL. It seems strange, given that AOL is known for its archaic dial-up system and the scratchy tone that comes with it, but Verizon saw value in the company. Why? Because its sights are set on mobile. Maybe this story might sound familiar to financial advisers, given that they have heard time and time again about the inevitability of a mobile-centric mentality. But the Verizon-AOL deal is yet another confirmation that any antiquated system is going to have to get a mobile makeover or it won't survive. “It does make a great example for financial advisers,” said Walter Lis, a digital marketing strategist who works with financial advisers, referring to the big deal. “The percentage of mobile traffic is increasing exponentially every month.” It's true. In a memo from AOL chairman and chief executive Tim... Read full post

May 7, 2015

Time may have come to eliminate sales incentives in the annuities business

By Darla Mercado

Even as fiduciary duty becomes a common phrase in the parlance of financial advisers, insurance agents are still offered gold watches and other incentives for annuity sales. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., brought the issue of incentives in exchange for annuity sales to the fore in late April, when she sent letters to senior executives at the largest sellers of fixed, indexed and variable annuities. In those letters, she pointed out the industry's use of incentives to reward agents for selling annuities. For the most part, it's the field marketing organization (annuity distributors that work with independent agents) that are offering cruises, gold watches, and iPads. Though Ms. Warren's findings were enough to make headlines at major media outlets, it's hardly news to those of us who've been covering the industry for years. I myself have been on the insurance beat for close to nine years, since I was fresh out of graduate school.The... Read full post

Mar 20, 2015

Where are they now?

By Christina Nelson

Our second annual 40 Under 40 project is underway, and we are asking readers to help us uncover top young talent in financial advice to illuminate the industry's future. The people who ultimately make the list will be instrumental in moving this profession to the next level, and only by hearing their ideas can we take that step together.Last year we began this project not knowing what exactly we'd end up with. We knew great people with inspiring stories to tell were out there, we just weren't sure how many of them we'd be introduced to via nominations. That depended a lot on reader participation. Well, you came through! We ended up with 1,200 nominations from which to select 40. With such a rich field to consider, the final group was impressive, and, yes, inspiring. I heard from many readers who said learning about the 40 winners through their profiles and video was like a breath of fresh air. Readers also took away innovative ideas to ... Read full post

Feb 23, 2015

Getting decked out in camo to help tell a succession planning story

By Matt Ackermann

Its 8:30 on a Monday morning. I'm decked in head-to-toe camouflage, hiding behind a tree on a rocky bluff in Montana. And I'm fairly certain I'm about to get shot.No, this isn't the beginning of a Brian Williams joke, it's just the middle of our third, and most adventurous, season of Practice Makeover, InvestmentNews' practice management reality series.From Salisbury, N.C., to Bala Cynwyd, Pa., to Billings, Mont., each installment has been more exciting than the next as we work with advisers and coaches to provide critical practice management tips to the financial services industry.For season three, we wanted to take a closer look at succession planning. According to Cerulli Associates, less than a third of advisers have a succession plan. And, with the Securities and Exchange Commission considering new rules requiring advisers to have a succession plan, we wanted to find a practice that was tackling this issue.We also wanted to find a ... Read full post

Dec 31, 2014

Cybersecurity needs to be a spending priority for advisers in 2015

By Liz Skinner

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

Tony Robbins pumps up advisers

By Mason Braswell

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

Don't ignore estate planning for millennial clients

By Darla Mercado

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

Accounting fiasco highlights tangled web behind Nicholas Schorsch's empire

By Bruce Kelly

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

Rival Fidelity shows up uninvited at Schwab Impact

By Mason Braswell

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

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