April 14, 2015Are the Days of the Star Stock Picker Over?
A six-year bull market has made it tough for portfolio managers to shine. Have they been permanently eclipsed?
Yes. Investors today have learned that indexing is the best way to get rich.69% No. As soon as the market turns, active management will be back in favor.
April 7, 2015Is the Strong Dollar Hurting Your Clients’ Returns?
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has warned that the U.S. currency’s steep rise will hurt big American overseas sales, potentially denting domestic growth and threatening stock gains. Are you worried about clients’ exposure?
Yes. Globalization means even a so-called U.S. equity allocation is packed with companies that depend on foreign sales.75% No. My clients are diversified enough that they’re effectively hedged.
March 31, 2015How Much Do You Care About Your Website?
Although compliance constraints can get in the way, some advisors say a distinctive, user-friendly website is an important piece of their marketing strategy. How much effort do you invest in yours?
I don’t give it much thought. My site is basic, but it’s enough to convey the information prospects need.15% We hired a Web designer to build our site a few years ago and will probably do a redesign at some point.45% I post new content frequently to keep it fresh, and we upgrade our site’s features regularly.
March 24, 2015Should the SEC Outsource Exams?
The SEC examines only about 10% of RIAs each year, because of budgetary and manpower constraints. Should the agency outsource exams to third parties to improve oversight?
Yes. There’s no way the SEC can do its job otherwise, and better compliance would make clients feel safer.8% Only if RIAs can select the third-party examiner from several trusted candidates.15% Only if Finra becomes the third-party examiner. The industry-funded regulator of broker-dealers is the most qualified entity.62% No. The likeliest candidates are Finra and for-profit companies. I don’t trust either option and I don’t want to pay for it.
March 17, 2015Are All-Cash Emergency Funds Passé?
Some advisors are rethinking the classic cash emergency fund, arguing it’s a poor use of client assets. Do you think it’s old-fashioned to keep a pile of cash on hand?
No. Every client needs at least a year’s worth of expenses in ultra-liquid funds.11% Yes. The opportunity cost of sidelining assets outweighs the risk of having to liquidate them.67% It depends on the client’s profile, including job security, tax bracket and age.
March 10, 2015Should Wirehouses Pay Trainees for Overtime?
A lawsuit by two ex-Merrill trainees raises the question of what’s fair treatment for these greenhorns.
Sure, they should be paid for the hours they put in.40% No, they should pay their dues as beginners.30% Maybe not, but neither should firms take advantage of eager rookies.
March 3, 2015Are You Working to Improve Your Firm’s Diversity?
Consultants often say the industry needs more women and minority advisors to serve a rapidly changing client demographic. Are you hiring with diversity in mind?
Yes. A firm with an all-white, all-male profile is poorly positioned to compete for the next generation’s assets.33% Our firm already has a gender and racial mix that reflects the broad U.S. population.22% We take diversity into account when hiring, but it’s not a priority.33% No. Affirmative action doesn’t work, period.
February 24, 2015Would You Help Clients Sell Their Life Insurance?
Like viatical agreements for the terminally ill, life settlements let clients buy or sell life insurance policies. The sooner the seller dies, the higher the buyer’s rate of return. Would you help a client sell his or her policy?
No way. These agreements are legal, but they’re so distasteful they shouldn’t be.10% Yes, I’ve used them and it has worked out well for my clients.65% I’ve never used them but would consider it under the right circumstances.10% I’ve never heard of this practice before.
February 17, 2015What Would Cause You to Leave Your Firm?
Lots of broker-retention deals expire this year. Meanwhile, indies have more and more options for supporting their businesses. What would tempt you to leave your current situation?
A better comp offer from a similar employer.58% Similar pay at a firm whose culture is more advisor-friendly.16% The chance to work independently as part of an established network with a good reputation.16% A juicy offer to buy my independent practice.
February 10, 2015How Much Vacation Are You Comfortable Taking?
It’s midwinter, and you may be yearning for a little vacation — perhaps in a warm clime. But no matter what channel you work in, vacation for advisors generally comes with an opportunity cost. How much time off do you feel you can afford?
I take every day that’s due me. Life’s too short for workaholism.2% I don’t take time off until I’m near exhaustion — advisors don’t get paid unless they’re working.35% I need two or three weeks of vacation a year to stay energetic and give clients my best.19% I take a day off here and there, but it’s almost impossible to get away for longer.37% My team gives me excellent backup, so I go away when I want — guilt-free.