How Advisors Managing for Taxes Can Shine in 2014

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

For many people, this invocation may seem apropos to today’s discussion topic. With April 15 rapidly approaching, the mere mention of taxes can bring to mind that feeling of frustration that comes with spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about things we really have no control over.

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Hitting the Ground Running: Advice for New Advisors

Mar 25, 2014

Late last week, I had a conversation with a newly minted financial advisor. “John” recently started working for a large insurance/investment firm and had just completed his series 6, 63, and 65 licenses. Doing as he had been instructed to do by his manager John called my wife (whom he knows from church), trying to build his network of prospects. As soon as my wife heard what he was doing, she suggested that he and I talk.

I’m not sure what John was expecting when we connected, but you could tell that he was a bit uncomfortable. After a few minutes, I told him about my position at SEI and how I have spent almost 30 years working with advisors. At this point, I am not sure if he was happy that he could talk about building a business, or disappointed that he was not going to get a sale. Either way, we began to discuss how it was going for him as he was beginning to build a business. As you would expect, it’s been tough and he is struggling in his new career.

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Engineering Smart Strategy: Your Roadmap to Growth

Mar 20, 2014

As I travel around the country – or when I am on the phone, most advisors that I speak with want to discuss the growth of their businesses. “What are the best firms doing? How much are they spending? What are their definitions of success?” These are all questions that advisors frequently ask. For many, it is difficult to really put this in perspective because they haven’t done benchmarking first.

Below is the second in a series of guest blog posts from FAInsight. Today’s post by Eliza DePardo, Principal and Director of Consulting at FA Insight, discusses not only growth and their “Growth by Design” survey, but also answers some of the questions on “Why would i want to grow?”

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What One Wisconsin Town Can Teach Advisors About Tough Client Conversations

Mar 18, 2014

The story, “The Town Where Everyone Talks About Death,” from NPR’s Planet Money team, was about La Crosse, WI. About 96% of townspeople who have died had an advanced directive or documentation on how they would like to die, compared to only about 30% nationally. The reporter traced the incredible statistic to one person, a medical ethicist, who got nurses and administrators to discuss the difficult subject with patients before decisions had to be made, rather than later and by the family. Now the whole community can discuss death openly and neighbors even know who does and doesn’t have a medical directive.

I realized as I was listening to the story, that one person had created a message (and a brand) in the community that really set him and the community apart. It was the power of the message — and the ability to do something about it — that makes this a teachable moment for us, as well.

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Shock and Aw No!: What Advisors Should Do If Their Twitter Account Is Compromised

Mar 13, 2014

This is not the blog post that I was going to publish today.

I had a great article ready to rock, recapping questions that advisors have asked me recently regarding LinkedIn – how to go beyond just having a personal profile, and how to use LinkedIn for branding, networking, and business development.

However, at 4:00 a.m., I realized that I had a problem. After getting my crying two-year old settled back to sleep (in his own bed!), I checked my phone and saw a message from a Twitter connection, asking if my account had been hacked – my worst nightmare.

Once I logged in, I literally saw hundreds of direct messages, apparently sent by me (agh!) to my followers containing somewhat believable text and a hyperlink to who-knows-where. The nightmare settled right in my stomach. What should I do? How could I fix the situation at hand?

After a frantic morning, I think that I have it sorted out, and thankfully, it wasn’t a hacker after all. However, this experience led me to ask – would you know what to do in this situation?

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My Bum Knee: A Lesson in Non-Linear Thinking

Mar 11, 2014

When I started physical therapy, I was told I could not run for six weeks. I thought my goals of running races were unattainable. My wife
asked me to look at the interruption and rather than think linearly (i.e.; prep for race + race = be in shape) and think of alternatives that will still get me to my goal. What she was really saying was: Don’t throw away the year, just because the first quarter didn’t work out the way you expected.

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Diversification…It’s Alive!

Diversification: In finance, diversification means reducing risk by investing in a variety of assets. If the asset values do not move up and down in perfect synchrony, a diversified portfolio will have less risk than the weighted average risk of its constituent assets, and often less risk than the least risky of its constituent. (Wikipedia, 2014)

Thank you, Wikipedia! By now, most of the industry has realized that accusations that diversification died a painful death in 2008 were highly exaggerated. That noted, diversification does take breaks from time to time, as I referenced in my previous blog “Diversification Works Over Time, Not Every Time.” In that entry, I highlighted how unusual 2013 asset class returns were, with the S&P 500 being a clear driver of returns throughout the year.

SEI just held a well-attended diversification webinar in which a number of advisors voiced questions about or sought reinforcement for the idea that diversification does, in fact, still have value.

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Ellen Rogin on Working with Female Investors [VIDEO]

Today’s blog post is a video blog (“vlog”). I sat down with financial advisor Ellen Rogin to discuss a popular topic: developing relationships with female investors.

You’ll hear Ellen’s perspective on:
• How financial planning differs for women vs. men
•What qualities women investors typically look for when choosing a financial advisor
•What lead sources have been the most fruitful in attracting women investors

If you have any requests for future video topics, please let us know in the comments section.

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Going for Growth: What We Know About How to Grow and Why There Is More to Learn

Feb 27, 2014

The following is a guest blog post by Dan Inveen, Principal and Director of Research for FA Insight, a consulting firm that helps financial advisory firms with growth planning, organizational design and more. FA Insight is now fielding the 2014 FA Insight Study of Advisory Firms; participate by visiting their website.

At its core, our work with advisory firms centers on helping them become more valuable enterprises. Building value predicates on improving the firm’s ability to profitably sustain growth. In other words, valuable firms don’t simply grow—they grow in a sustained and profitable manner.

One way our firm, FA Insight, provides guidance for advisors is through its industry research. Many of you may be familiar with the annual FA Insight of Advisory Firms, which for five years now has served to benchmark industry performance and identify best practices. In even numbered years the research coverage tilts toward the topic of advisory firm growth. Our 2014 Growth by Design study is currently open for fielding, with all advisory firms encouraged to participate.

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How One Advisor Got Closer to His Clients by Moving Away

Feb 25, 2014

A few weeks ago, I was able to sit in on an advisor “open mic” session and hear some great stories. I’d like to share how one advisor grew his assets under management by 30% and received more referrals than he had gotten in years. All he had to do was to move 600 miles away!

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