October 1, 2013What Are You Telling Clients About the Government Shutdown?
The standoff between President Obama and House Republicans over health care reform came close to shutting Washington down. What does it mean for clients?
I don’t mention it — and if they bring it up, I tell them it’s irrelevant to their financial plan.15% I quote Raymond James’s Jeff Saut: After 11 of the 17 shutdowns since 1970, the market rose.55% Once this game of chicken ends, the market will refocus on economic recovery and other good news.0% I tell them it’s not great for bonds, but the bond market wasn’t exactly going gangbusters anyway.
September 24, 2013Is “Loss-Leader Pricing” a Smart Strategy?
According to a new PriceMetrix survey, 21% of advisors offer clients a discount on fee-based services, recouping the lost revenue with transactional business — and 21% do the exact opposite. Can that work?
No way; it’s much too risky. What if you can’t recoup the losses?20% Sure, when you’re just beginning to build up a client base.27% Yes, even established advisors can grow their practice this way.33% It’s better to make a decision and be all-discount or all-premium.
September 17, 2013Have Stock Investors Lost Touch With Reality?
Washington suffers a mass shooting, the White House and Congress play chicken over the debt ceiling — and the S&P 500 breaks 1,700. What’s behind the optimism?
Call it the Summers rally. A Yellen Fed will probably be more market friendly.20% Tapering is priced in, and Wall Street is publishing bullish forecasts.27% It’s all about fundamentals — many stocks are still a good buy.40% Where else is a smart investor going to park money? Bonds?
September 10, 2013Is Asset Management Totally Commoditized?
With more than 7,000 mutual funds and hundreds of ETFs, asset managers have to work hard to differentiate themselves. Are they all alike?
Of course not. Investment style and savvy make a huge difference to my clients’ success.70% Not totally, but there are literally hundreds of funds that are basically interchangeable.15% Yes, and at this point the only thing I really pay attention to is costs.
August 27, 2013How Vigorously Are You Managing Your Digital Brand?
Some say social networking is the biggest thing in marketing since the press release. How does your e-branding stack up?
My website looks great, I post frequently on social media and I even create online videos.0% I make sure my website’s in shape, but I don’t see much value in social media.33% My website is lame, and I’ve barely dabbled in social media.0% I’m old school, and I do just fine without any “digital brand” beyond a basic website, thanks.
August 20, 2013What’s the Best Way to Conduct a Cold Call?
For many in the advice industry, prospecting by phone is still de rigueur. Are some approaches more effective than others?
Get straight to the point and explain your services.15% Ask whether the prospect has ever considered getting financial advice.5% Target prospects who already have an advisor, and offer to compare services.10% I have my own technique that beats any of this.13% I never cold-call. It’s a waste of time and looks desperate.
August 13, 2013Does the Advice Business Set the Bar Too Low?
All it takes to call yourself a financial advisor is a Series 7 or Series 65. Is the profession’s barrier to entry too low?
Yes. Just because you can sell financial products doesn’t mean you should.6% No. People who earn those credentials are thoroughly trained about where products belong in an investment portfolio.29% It has nothing to do with licenses. All that matters is whether or not you’re a fiduciary — that’s where the industry should set the bar.
August 6, 2013Are Wealthier Clients More “Difficult”?
Rich people are often accused of having an outsize sense of entitlement. In your practice, do clients’ demands rise in proportion to their net worth?
Yes, and that’s fair. The more you have, the more you’ve got to lose.29% Yes, and it drives me nuts. The very rich tend to think they’re very smart.24% No, why should they be? I treat all my clients alike and give my best to each of them.24% No, and I sometimes wonder if they’re paying enough attention.
July 30, 2013How Do You Work With a Tax-Obsessed Client?
A new client with just over $1 million to invest seems obsessed with minimizing taxes. In fact, she worries more about taxes than about returns — a trait that didn’t emerge in your introductory interviews. How do you work with her?
Develop a tax-minimizing portfolio to suit her preferences, even though you know you could do better without those constraints.29% Explain that your job is preserving and growing her assets, and recommend a good CPA.29% Gradually teach her to focus on long-term gains, pointing out that paying zero taxes generally means making zero money.35% Manage her anxiety with a portfolio strategy that coordinates taxable and tax-deferred investments.
July 23, 2013Do You Feel Guilty About Taking a Vacation?
It’s high summer, prime time for many advisors to step away for a week or two and recharge — that's if they don’t feel too bad about leaving.
Yes, my clients are lost without me16% Somewhat, and I spend most of my time away worrying31% Sort of, but I feel the need to unplug and reconnect with loved ones44% No. A rest makes me sharper when I’m back, and that’s good for everyone concerned