Outside voices and views for advisers

May 28, 2015, 11:12 PM EST

Are newsletters worth the time and effort?

By Sheryl Rowling

Many advisers send out monthly, bimonthly or quarterly newsletters to clients. In these modern days, the newsletters are sent out electronically. But are they worth the time and expense?There are, essentially, two options for newsletters: “canned” products and “do it yourself.” The pros and cons of each are pretty obvious; one is less work and more polished, the other is more labor-intensive and more personal. Of course, you can always do a hybrid.In my practice, I spend about $1,300 per quarter and here's an idea of what I get.(More: 4 ways automation technology is changing the way RIAs invest)I have used Thomson Reuters' Planning for Prosperity/Wealth Management Advisor newsletters. I have the option to replace up to one article per newsletter with my own writing. It's a nice newsletter, very professional looking and the articles seem to be at the right level for my clients and prospects. For example, the... Read full post

May 28, 2015, 11:11 PM EST

How to help clients invest for college without sacrificing retirement

By Michael Conrath

One of the keys to successful investing is balance. Balance is also important when it comes to saving for life goals. For families, the question is often whether to save for college or retirement — or how to save for both, often at the same time, from the same pool of investible assets.This conundrum presents itself as we anticipate rising college costs, the likelihood of entitlement reform, tax increases and lower market returns. Striking a balance between saving for college and retirement is important, because emphasizing one over the other can ultimately jeopardize both. Parents who don't accumulate enough for college may have no other choice than to take on crushing debt that limits their ability to save for retirement. On the other hand, those who can't afford retirement run the risk of becoming the very financial burden they wanted their kids to avoid.(More: Saving for retirement should be advisers' top priority: Wharton's ... Read full post

May 27, 2015, 2:41 PM EST

5 ideas from RIA marketing mavens

By Steve Sanduski

“I grow my business through referrals.” I hear that all the time from financial advisers. And yes, referrals are a great way to grow your business — but only up to a point.Those of you who want to accelerate your growth rate and create a consistent stream of new clients have to move beyond referral marketing and become a marketing machine.On my latest podcast, I sat down with David Canter, head of Fidelity's Practice Management and Consulting Group, and discussed how top RIAs establish a growth engine through marketing and business development.After analyzing the results of a survey of more than 100 leading RIA firms, here are five key things the leading RIA marketers (dubbed Marketing Leaders) did to grow their client base 40% faster than non-marketing leaders (dubbed Other RIAs).1. Prioritize growthFirst of all, Mr. Canter said, “All firms that want to have lasting businesses start with growth as a priority.... Read full post

May 25, 2015, 10:55 AM EST

A diamond in the rough: Multi-tenant industrial properties

By Brian Malliet

As the economy continues to strengthen, and with the steady availability of capital, many investors are seeking new yield-generating investment avenues, especially in real estate. When counseling clients on real estate investments, many advisers look to multifamily and retail properties, based in part on a somewhat universal understanding of these property types. In short, people tend to be familiar with apartment communities and retail centers, and are thereby more apt to consider these properties as investments. However, it's important to note that these product types are not necessarily poised for optimal growth in the current market.Multifamily housing in particular has demonstrated such rapid growth since 2010 that its values are now quite high, which will greatly limit an investor's opportunity to achieve strong yields on these assets. (More: Real estate company seeks $20M for New York City mausoleum high-rise)In addition, e-... Read full post

May 24, 2015, 8:54 AM EST

Emerging-markets debt market offers more than yield

By Ricardo Adrogué and Brigitte Posch

In the wake of the global financial crisis, financial advisers have been faced with the unenviable task of generating income and attractive returns for their clients in a world where yields on many fixed-income securities have been at or near historical lows, some even offering negative yields. Financial advisers have, in many cases, grown more comfortable with “riskier” asset classes as they seek to find returns that satisfy their clients' needs. Emerging-markets debt, still a relatively new addition to the asset allocation toolbox of many advisers, is often lumped in with these. But such an all-encompassing view of EM debt fails to reflect the full range of opportunities offered by this growing and increasingly diverse asset class.The EM debt market has more than doubled in size since 2007 and at approximately $8 trillion exceeds both the $7.6 trillion global-investment-grade corporate-bond market and the $3.5 trillion... Read full post

May 22, 2015, 6:01 PM EST

If advisers don't have a defined brand, marketing efforts can fail

By Amy Zimmerman

Branding is an important prerequisite for advisers when creating marketing materials or programs. Without creating a strong brand, your marketing efforts run the risk of being disjointed or inconsistent, and lacking purpose and effectiveness. Your brand is your story and all the elements of how you communicate it: visually, verbally and written. It serves as the foundation of all outgoing marketing and communications for your firm, and it's important to define it on your own terms.A strong brand knows its target audience, and speaks directly to them in terms of what's important to them. It addresses market issues or problems head-on, and supports everything the firm does. Strong brands give careful consideration to tying their messages to perception, as well as to aesthetic look and feel. For too many firms, branding is an afterthought rather than a well-thought-out process that starts before any marketing activities are started.... Read full post

May 22, 2015, 2:14 PM EST

Retirement plan advisers' golden opportunity: IRS restatement requirements

By E. Thomas Foster, Jr.

Advisers have an enormous opportunity in the retirement plan market, but they must recognize it before the window closes. The opportunity comes in the form of an Internal Revenue Service requirement that employers who sponsor 401(k)s or similar defined contribution plans must amend and restate their plan documents by April 30, 2016. The restatement must incorporate the language and provisions from the Pension Protection Act (PPA), and various other required amendments that took effect between 2007 and 2011.On its face, this PPA restatement process appears to be a simple compliance exercise. The IRS generally requires employers with pre-approved retirement plans — those typically offered by most retirement plan providers — to review, update and refile their plan documents every five or six years to reflect any changes and conform to the latest tax laws. But there is more to this IRS requirement below the surface. The PPA... Read full post

May 21, 2015, 5:58 PM EST

Why you need to think like a technology company

By Eric Clarke

It is not uncommon to hear established advisers discussing the use of technology to attract the next generation of clients and younger advisers to their firms. Some have also discovered that today's successful advisers have a great opportunity to harness technology for the wave of retiring baby boomers. Some advisers want to use technology to grow; others, to improve. Some want it all.Regardless of where you fall upon this spectrum, there is one undeniable truth: a new digital age has arrived and there is no going backward. Smart advisers, whatever their objective, must think like technology companies to not only survive, but thrive. That makes this a perfect time for advisers to review the services they utilize and identify areas where those services could be used more effectively or upgraded to better suit the growing needs of their clients. Advisers should determine their technology hierarchy of needs and then make realistic plans... Read full post

May 20, 2015, 7:02 AM EST

7 signs the fiduciary movement is coming to an end

By Don Trone, Mary Lou Wattman and Steve Branham

The significant difference between the fiduciary movement past and present is that it was once a point of positive inspiration, but has now become a source of negativity. There are seven clear signs that the 30-year fiduciary movement is coming to an end. That is not to say that the work of defining new fiduciary standards is going to cease. To the contrary, it is highly likely that even more financial advisers will become subject to fiduciary standards. 1. Fatigue: Financial advisers and their fiduciary clients have grown tired of the subject. Elite advisers no longer consider “fiduciary” to be a meaningful point of differentiation in their businesses.2. Lack of thought leadership: For the past eight years, no new questions have been asked, nor answered. The movement has been reduced to a single sound bite: “The best interests of the client.” Though true, the mantra fails to capture the breadth, depth and... Read full post

May 20, 2015, 3:01 PM EST

How portfolio diversification can help deliver more income to clients

By Thomas Hoops

Is it just me, or has it gotten harder to build a decent investment portfolio?Equity markets are near all-time highs after a long and extended run. Much of fixed income has followed the Federal Reserve down close to zero. Europe's problems with deflation and defaults continue, and China's double-digit growth could take a nose dive, while many emerging markets remain as inscrutable as ever.Building portfolios that serve clients' needs has gotten harder because of two big changes: interest rates are persistently low globally, and demographic shifts have created aging populations, particularly in developed countries. This large and rapidly growing elderly cohort needs income, and yet the countries where most of these investors live have low interest rates due to low GDP growth — which stems in part from their aging populations. The circle of life.As a result, many asset managers talk about the need to look for broader sources of... Read full post

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