Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

Marketing & Technology For Independent Financial Advisors

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Archive for November, 2009

Advisors Can Now Post Articles On Advisors4Advisors

Empowering independent advisors to share ideas, Advisors4Advisors (A4A) today started allowing advisors to post links to articles, videos, and other online content.

The three news sections on the A4A home pageMarket & Economy News, Industry News and Technology News—now accept advisor submissions.

To post news items, an advisor clicks on “Post An Article” and submits a headline, description, and link. The item must be approved by an editor before it is posted.

This is the latest integration on A4A of advisor-generated content. A4A recently enabled advisors to rate the industry’s practice management applications.

Advisors every day are adding new ratings and reviews of software applications for portfolio reporting, financial planning, and customer relationship management.

A4A also networks independent advisors who practice the same way. Advisors using the same three portfolio management, financial planning, and CRM applications they use in their practice are placed in groups.

In addition, A4A provides detailed reviews of dozens of advisor applications. All major vendors providing software to independent advisors have access to a site where they fill in matrixes detailing their specifications. The matrixes are displayed in the Review section of A4A and enable advisors to compare apps feature-by-feature, side-by-side. A4A is the first and only website to make this information easily accessible.

A4A has about 1,000 members and is in beta. Additional information and a 30-day trial membership are available at www.advisors4advisors.com. If you’re interested in becoming an A4A sponsor, please email admin@advisors4advisors.com.

What Advisors Said About Last Friday’s Privacy Law Webinar

The Financial Advisor Webinar Series has been a lot of fun for me and now I am going to start sharing the comments advisors make every week about each session.

The comments are not always flattering. In fact, they're often humbling for me. But I appreciate that you care enough about what we're doing to give us feedback.

Below you'll find the comments advisors gave us after last Friday's presentation, "Privacy Law, Data Security & Advisors," featuring Brendon Tavelli, a privacy law expert at Proshauer Rose LLP.

Before reading the comments advisors gave us, here's some background.

The Financial Advisor Webinar Series started in early October 2006 when advisors—along with just about everyone else—feared the world financial system might collapse.

Advisors were gracious in their thanks and we've kept doing it every Friday at 4 ET.

We've now produced about 55 sessions. Almost all of them are available for replay, and CFPs are eligible to receive CE credit for replays of many sessions.

The success of the series was a key factor in my decision to start Advisors4Advisors (A4A).

At the end of every webinar, I ask attendees to fill in a survey to give us feedback.

We plan to automatically feed the ratings and comments into the A4A Event Center but have not yet attacked that project. Until we do, I'll publish the comments from the exit surveys here in my blog every week.

You can view the replay of the session on privacy law and advisors and receive get CFP® CE credit for viewing this session if you’re a member of advisors4advisors.

If you don't care about the CE credit, you can see it for free at Advisor Products.

Please also join us for the next session on Secure Hardware For Advisors on Friday, Dec. 4 at 4 ET. Our presenters will be product managers from IronKey, LoJack For Laptops, and Seagate. Registering for that webinar lets you receive a free six-month membership in A4A.

  • Interesting topic with lots of information that was new to me.
  • Brendon was very knowledgeable and well prepared. Great presentation. I like the way Andrew approaches the seminars; he is easy going and professional. No sales here!
  • Excellent as always!
  • Very useful information.
  • Excellent presentation.
  • I found it very informative and the takeaway slides are completed in a manner that will allow me to remember what was said during the webinar as I reference them now and in the future.
  • This was a clear, articulate guy. Good delivery, good information, and willingness to disclose when not certain.
  • EXCELLENT – EXTREMELY WELL PRESENTED. VERY HELPFUL.
  • Excellent and timely information.
  • It was very informational. The changes in technology happen faster than any one person can keep track of them so the enforcement follows right behind.
  • I enjoyed this one. It didn't end "right on time" when there were questions & other items to discuss.
  • All good. Maybe include a few practical examples (in some detail) of actions firms are taking to comply with the new rules.
  • Very good. We have a good privacy program in place although the info on Nevada regs was new to me.
  • Audio sometimes fades out.
  • I found it had timely, relevant information and was able to take away some good bits to share with my office. It would be great to have those slides if they are available.
  • Very good.
  • Great webinar – thanks!
  • Recommendations for software solutions.
  • Need more live examples of how to implement these new laws. Being an attorney, Brandon went for the max. In the real world, there has to be a reasonable method.
  • Thank you – I had no idea about these requirements in Massachussetts and Nevada. Keep up the good work.
  • Great! Things we'd not thought of before.
  • Very good.
  • Good, but left with more questions than I had before the webinar. To some extent it sounds like it is still fluid in terms of the ongoing evolution of regulations.
  • More specific references on how implement security measures.
  • More specific actionable items for advisors, less overview, particularly first half of the call.
  • Very generic. I was hoping for more specific information and best practices advice.
  • More Q+A.
  • Too technical. Boring presentation.

Troubling That More Advisors Did Not Attend Webinar About Privacy Law & Data Security

Call me nerdy, but I was excited to get an attorney from a national law firm who specializes in privacy law to present an overview on this topic geared to advisors. So I’m a little troubled that more advisors did not attend yesterday’s privacy law webinar.

Since starting the Financial Advisor Webinar Series in October 2008, in the throes of a world economic calamity, attendance to the live sessions has held steady. We attract 150 to 225 attendees to each webinar (and another 250 or 300 view replays every week). But yesterday’s live session attracted only about 140 attendees.

Massachusetts and Nevada recently enacted new privacy laws and advisors face growing responsibilities to protect personal data about their clients. Meanwhile, security breaches now occur daily. (The New York Times featured a front-page story about a data breach today.)

Data security, or lack thereof, is a dirty little secret right now among independent advisors. My guess is the problem is already quietly stinging advisors. Hackers are rampant and employees can pretty easily steal client data to set up their own practices. But admitting you had a data breach is kind of like confessing you had an STD. You just don’t hear about it.

I’m not saying the sky is falling and don’t mean to sound alarmist. I’m just saying it’s an important issue that advisors need to learn about.

Advisors commonly carry laptops with client data and use unencrypted VPNs to connect to their offices from their homes. And these are just a couple of the obvious ways advisors are exposed.

I’ve been trying to include reports of security breaches in the Advisors4Advisors Daily Digest to keep members informed and will redouble my effort in the months ahead.

My disappointment that more attendees did not show up at yesterday’s webinar should not diminish the value of the information imparted by the presenter, Brendon Tavelli of Proskauer Rose LLP.

Please view the replay of this session. You can get CFP® CE credit for viewing this session if you’re a member of advisors4advisors. If not, you can see it for free at Advisor Products.

And sign up to attend the next session, which deals with a related issue–Secure Hardware Systems For Advisors, on Friday, Dec. 4 at 4 ET. Our presenters will be product managers from IronKey, LoJack For Laptops, and Seagate.

Organizing Marketing Copy On Financial Advisor Websites

David Lucs, a project manager here at Advisor Products, has worked with scores of advisors over the past two years to help build their websites.

David cares deeply about our clients and wants Advisor Products to be great. He’s great.

In talking with him recently about the challenges of his job, he told me that one of the most difficult areas advisors struggle with is organizing the marketing content on their sites.

So David and I wrote this post together about how advisors can organize their website marketing copy. We’ll collaborate again soon on some other areas that can help you in building your site.

Home Page Text. Two or three short paragraphs on your home page should present your services, ideal clients, and why people should trust you to manage their money. Add a link in the text where people can get more in-depth information about your services.

Detailing Your Services. Use the “Services” page to define your services in detail. Start with a one-paragraph summary about your firm’s overall client experience and all its services. Follow that information with a paragraph about each of your specific services.

· Use bold text lead-in text to make it easy for a reader to skim and find the service in which he or she is most interested.

· Add links so a prospect can drill down to more specific information about each service.

· Workflow diagrams that accompany descriptions about your services are vital. Use a tool like SlickPlan to create a graphic depicting your process for personalizing portfolios, for example.

· Composites of target clients. If you target college professors, doctors, or senior management in a particular company or sector, for instance, write brief cases study about the problems faced by each target client and how you solved them.


Your Team. Visitors want to know about you and your staff. A “Team” page with photos satisfies our natural curiosity and engages visitors. Moreover, sharing your team’s professional qualifications and talents establishes your credibility. Avoid jargon and don’t expect visitors to be familiar with the alphabet soup of financial services professional designations. Say that you’re a CFP® licensee or have a Series 24 and explain in a sentence what you did to earn those credentials. Provide an email address at the end of your bio, along with any social networking credentials as a way for people to follow you on twitter or a link to your blog.

Resources. Link to forms, questionnaires, and other materials clients often need. If you write a blog, you obviously want to link to it. At Advisor Products, we provide a constant stream of FINRA-reviewed educational articles and videos about wealth management. These resources inspire ideas about new ways you can serve clients and draw them into conversations. Having this content on your sites shows prospects the issues you can help them with.

Compliance. Of course, all of what we’re saying here should be vetted by your compliance officer. Some compliance officers discourage the use of case studies or composites, and any marketing copy on your site is subject to rules governing advertising material.

People are not going to entrust you with their money based solely on your website. But people are likely to use your website to determine whether to meet with you and engage you. Unless your site is well organized and contains thoughtful content, you may never get that opportunity.

Advisors Feeling The Power Of The Internet

JasonV510 says Act! is “flexible for client tracking and management but not great for the true financial professional.”

TaylorF519 says MoneyGuide Pro “really takes its job seriously and wants to put the best and most innovative product out there!”

Of PortfolioCenter, TerryH770 says: “I was originally skeptical of Schwab owning the software, but to this point it has only been beneficial.

These comments aren’t quotes from a reporter’s interviews.

They’re comments from real advisors talking about software applications for advisors.

They’re not made up. They’re not filtered. And they’re as close you come to truth about an advisor’s practice management applications as you can get.

As a reporter who had to become an entrepreneur to do my job the way I wanted to, I’m excited to be living in the middle of the information revolution.

Most reporters aren’t so happy, however. With regular people reporting the news instead of professional reporters, man daily bites dogs and regular people cover it without journalists.

Sure journalists are still going to be needed to give us insight into big news stories. But much of the content once created by newspapers and magazines can be replaced and made better by empowering people to report the news.

JasonV510, TaylorF519, and TerryJ770 are more important than anything I can say as a reporter.

Sure, I’m pretty smart, and I write well. But what you say matters more, and the collective intelligence of a group of users of an advisor practice management application is more important than my assessment.

That’s what’s happening now at advisors4advisors.com. Advisors are logging in every day and rating the applications they use in their practices. That's why we called it advisors4advisors.

Members of advisors4advisors see the average rating of an advisor app from a group of advisors who use that app and they can also see each individual rating by an advisor for financial planning, customer relationship management (CRM) and portfolio management software (PMS) applications.

We cover just about every PMS, CRM and planning application, and we’re adding new categories of apps every week. Last week, we added rebalancing software and this week we’re adding account aggregation systems.

We also have asked all of the major providers of practice management apps to fill in detailed specifications checklists about their products in the advisors4advisors review section.

This allows advisors to compare different practice management apps feature-by-feature, side-by-side.

The independent advisory industry’s vendors have filled in their specifications on advisors4advisors so far, including EISI, E-Z Data, MoneyGuide Pro, Schwab Performance Technologies, SunGard, Morningstar, Orion and Redtail.

Just about every major vendor in the industry is participating or planning to do so in the next few weeks.

Please contribute to the discussion. Join us at advisors4advsors.com. Come feel the power of the Internet.

See Three CRM Workflow Engines Today At 4 ET

At this afternoon’s webinar at 4 p.m. ET, Blane Warrene, an operations consultant, is going to talk about how advisory firms can embed their processes in their CRM.

This is the single most important way to improve your efficiency, scalability, and client service.

To help Blane illustrate how you do this, I asked three of the leading CRM vendors specializing in the independent advisor market (Junxure, Redtail, and XLR8) to provide two-minute videos showing how you use theirn software to embed your workflows.

We’re going to show each of the two-minute videos at Blane’s presentation today and post them for members of advisors4advisors.

Register for today’s webinar here.

Advisors Sound Off On Financial Advisor Webinar Series

It's been just over a year since we started the Financial Advisor Webinar Series in the throes of the global financial crisis, and I have to say it's been one of the most fulfilling experiences in my career.

The Series started out as a way to support advisors at a time when it looked like the global economic system was about to collapse, and it was originally known as The Financial Crisis Webinar Series. Over the past year, as we backed away from the edge of the abyss, we've continued the webinars every Friday at 4 p.m.

We've been privileged to produce sessions that inform advisors about how to run their businesses better and cope with the upheaval of recent months. And advisors have responded.

About 200 advisors attend the live sessions and another 300 listen to replays every week. And more advisors steadily continue to participate.

Last week's session featured compliance specialist Chris Winn, of AdvisorAssist, offering tips on 2010 compliance planning for RIAs. He was great. (See comments from attendees below.)

We ask advisors to fill in a survey after each webinar. The average rating of attendees at this session was 4.4, putting it among the highest rated of the 49 sessions we've produced.

What amazes me is that from last February, when we started systematically tabulating the ratings of each session, through the end of August, only two sessions had better than a 4.4 average rating. However, five of the last eight sessions has a rating of 4.4 or better. (And we're getting these high scores despite my clumsy skills as a moderator!) Your feedback is genuinely appreciated.

Please remember that many of the sessions are eligible for continuing education credit from the CFP Board of Standards. Also, keep in mind that you can receive free CE credit by attending any of the live sessions, and you can get CE credit on replays of many sessions by becoming a member of our new advisor practice management portal, Advisors4Advisors.com.

Below is feedback from attendees of last Friday's session about RIA compliance. Please join us at an upcoming session or log in to A4A to discuss any webinar with other advisors.

Comments and feedback from advisors who attended 2010 RIA Compliance Planning with Chris Winn of AdvisorAssist:

  • Thank you – just keep doing it.
  • Very informative. My first look at Advisors for Advisors.
  • Excellent
  • Great timing for a compliance webinar. Thank you for the presentation.
  • Good topic coverage
  • It is refreshing to have someone who can speak compliance language in easily understandable terms. Chris obviously knows his stuff.
  • Great session. One of your best yet.
  • Terrific content! Wish we had time for more questions.
  • Very informative, good supporting visuals, well presented.
  • Really great info…too much for one hour!
  • Great webinar. The best one that I've seen from Advisor Products
  • This one was fantastic
  • No complaints
  • Excellent, Chris made the subject matter very understandable. Thank you
  • Very informative
  • Great webinar! Gets you started thinking about the different issues to address.
  • This was truly a great webinar and I thank you so much for providing this to us. Great job!
  • Excellent presentation. Very helpful.
  • Excellent content
  • Considering the amount of potential info and the time available it was very well done.
  • I thought it was great, would love to get copies of the slides.
  • Well done and useful
  • Fantastic + extremely useful – one of the BEST you have ever hosted. full of very useful + actionable items.
  • Great Webinar. Can't think of anything you could have done to improve it.
  • Excellent – very good topic choice – obviously, a topic like this will have many basic components to it as well as some issue some just venturing into the fray may think are overwhelming, but the presenter did a nice job of balancing so there was something for everybody (more than likely) to take away
  • It was helpful. thank you.
  • Outstanding informative and very comforting.
  • I learned a few new things such as the potential for the SEC to raise the minimum assets under management to $100,000,000 to be registered with them
  • Important issues most advisors don't work with on a daily basis
  • Nice outline of issues.
  • Covered a lot of material I already knew but was good to be reminded anyway.
  • Good overview for office manager, though went fast and I'll need to review the replay
  • Good coverage of some of the basics of compliance. The idea of a Compliance Calendar is useful.
  • Good information. Condense and do more frequently.
  • I thought it was very well done. Chris is knowledgeable and shared that information well. I appreciated his willingness to spend extra time answering questions afterward.
  • It is a dry subject, but overall it was packed with important info.

Advisor Products Responds To The Need For Speed

If we host your firm’s website and use our BackOffice content management system, you may have noticed a boost in speed.

That’s because we replaced the main server that powers Advisor Products’ websites and BackOffice last week.

Your website is loading faster for prospects and clients now.

In our drive for constant improvement, we’ve instituted a policy to replace aging web servers before they reach the end of their useful lives.

This means that if, Advisor Products hosts your website, the server housing your website gets replaced on a regular basis.

Your site, thus, is always running on the latest hardware and software.

We’ll keep you posted as we continue to upgrade hardware for other systems.

2010 RIA Compliance Calendar At Advisors4Advisors.com

The 2010 RIA Compliance Calendar was posted for free distribution to members of Advisors4Advisors.com, a practice management portal site for independent financial advisors.

Advisors interested in getting a copy of the 2010 RIA Compliance Calendar can email me for a free six-month membership in advisors4advisors. It will take 10 minutes to register and fill in your profile and then you can download the 2010 RIA Compliance Calendar.

The RIA Compliance Calendar was created by Chris Winn of AdvisorAssist, a compliance consulting firm serving RIAs and B-Ds. It lists 27 key compliance activities for RIAs month-by-month, helping organize RIA compliance responsibilities on a timely basis.

Winn delivered a presentation entitled, “2010 Compliance Planning For RIAs” last Friday at the Financial Advisor Webinar Series. You can replay the session at advisorproducts.com. (Members of AdvisorsforAdvisors.com are eligible for free CFP CE credit on the replay.)

At the session, Winn answered about 15 questions from attendees. But we ran out of time and could not answer many questions chatted in by attendees. Winn, who writes a blog about RIA, B-D, and Registered Rep compliance issues at Advisors4Advisors.com, will be answering many questions that we did not have time to answer at the webinar.

Please join us at advisors4advisors.com to access Winn’s blog, obtain CE credit for the webinar, and download the 2010 RIA Compliance Calendar.

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