Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

Marketing & Technology For Independent Financial Advisors

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PortfolioCenter And Advent Reporting Integration With AdvisorVault Is Improved

AdvisorVault Desktop Connector makes it much easier for RIAs to post documents to client vaults and streamlines batch uploading of performance reports from Schwab PortfolioCenter or Advent Axys.

With AdvisorVault Desktop Connector, sharing documents securely with clients has never been so easy. There’s no need to open a browser, log in to a vault application, browse to a client’s vault, and browse to the file you want to upload. The drag and drop capability means advisors can routinely share documents with clients and outside professionals throughout the business day as part of their routine workflow.

In addition to enabling drag and drop, Desktop Connector makes it much easier to upload a batch of client performance reports generated in Schwab PortfolioCenter or Advent Axys.

Till now, now advisory firms using AdvisorVault’s integration of Schwab PortfolioCenter and Advent Axys could use an FTP process to upload a batch of client reports. Now, advisors can simply drag and drop the batch of reports and they will automatically be placed in the correct client folders.

Desktop connector is a desktop application that displays all of your client vaults on your desktop, and it is similar to accessing folders on your computer using Windows Explorer. Desktop Explorer comes free with AdvisorVault.

This two-minute video shows you how it works.

Data Show Advisors Deeply Integrating AdvisorVault’s Secure Document Sharing Into Their Daily Routine

An analysis of logins by advisors using AdvisorVault, a secure application for sharing documents with clients and allied professionals, shows that more than 100 advisors averaged two logins into AdvisorVault every business day over the past year.

 

The data show that 25 advisors have logged in an average of 12 times every business day in the past year, and 50 advisors have averaged five  logins every business day over the past year.

One advisor logged in about 8,000 times in the past year, according to the data.

About 700 independent advisory firms now use AdvisorVault to deliver documents securely to clients and other professionals, and a new advisory firm is signing up daily.

One firm is using AdvisorVault to distribute Advent Axys reports daily to 400 advisors, but most RIAs use it to distribute reports and other documents securely to retail clients.

AdviorVault is highly scalable and contains many features unavailable on other systems for secure document sharing with clients.

AdvisorVault Desktop Connector, which is now being beta tested and is expected to be released at the end of September, increases usability dramatically. It allows an advisor to drag and drop documents into a client’s vault without opening a browser. You  don’t have to open a browser log in, browse to a client vault, and then select the  document to be uploaded.

Desktop Connector, which works on Mac and Windows operating systems, provides a desktop interface for accessing a secure web-based drive in the cloud. It’s as easy to use as Box.net for secure document sharing but includes integrations with portfolio reporting and document management apps advisors need as well as specialized client communications tools and content.

 

Bug Fix Coming For Collaboration With Outside Professionals In AdvisorVault

A fix is on the way for a bug in AdvisorVault that will enable advisors to share a single file with an allied professional.

AdvisorVault was developed principally to enable financial advisors to securely store files they want to share with clients, but it also enables advisors to collaborate with professionals outside your firm–CPAs, attorneys, geriatric care managers, personal coaches, business consultants and other professionals with which clients work.

You can enable an allied professional to have permission to view and upload a client's entire vault or just a single folder in a client's vault. You can also enable an allied professional to access his or her own vault and only see what you post in that vault. These collaboration features are working fine.

However, we have discovered a bug in the app that is preventing advisors from sharing a single file in a vault. We expect that bug to be fixed in the next upgrade release at the end of July.

We've been releasing upgrades and bug fixes monthly and just last week issued the latest release. That last release cleaned up a problem with moving an advisor's clients.

Now, if an advisor leaves your firm or if you want to switch the advisor for a client, it works smoothly.

We also fixed sporadic problems with creating a folder structure for firms using our online reporting solution for Advent Axys and Schwab PortfolioCenter.

While these are minor bugs, we know they are annoying and we apologize for the inconvenience.

The collaboration feature in AdvisortVault is important and we want to give you the ability to share just a single file with an attorney or accountant as badly as you do.

Collaborating with outside professionals is a key way for advisors to get referrals. We're seeing AdvisorVault users share folders and vaults with more and more outside professionals.

What we're hearing from advisors is that the collaboration feature widens their referral network.

A couple of advisory firms using AdvisorVault have actively encouraged their clients to enable file-sharing with their accountants and estate planning attorneys.

Clients logged into AdvisorVault have a link that lets them "Create a Professional." When a client clicks on that link, it prompts him to provide the name and email address of an allied professional who they want to grant access to their vault.

When clients fill in that professional's contact information, it sends their advisor a request to enable that outside professional's access to the client's vault.

What we're seeing is that advisors find those other professionals good referral sources.

Moreover, by just doing your routine work–sharing a spreadsheet with realized investment gains and losses–with an accountant, for example, advisors are building their referral network while improving their client service and abiding by security and privacy rules.

Yes, we have some bugs in AdvisorVault. But we're fixing them and advisors are getting important benefits by using the vault to securely share files with clients and allied professionals.

Our Commitment To Do What’s Best For You

Some advisory firms feel they must work face-to-face with a local designer to build their website instead of working over the phone with an Advisor Products project manager. They feel that their branding is too important to be managed by Advisor Products.

I don't agree. Our designers do a great job. But who am I to argue?

So we price our services so you can use a local graphic designer and still use Advisor Products for hosting. Hosting is where we add the most value.

When we host your site, you get our content management system, BackOffice. That’s built specifically for advisory firms and has oodles of features just for advisors. Compliance review workflow, website archiving, pre-formatted pages created specifically for advisors that you can easily add to your site, a secure client vault system, and integration with 16 apps used in advisor practices that convert data in your internal systems into client communications. Plus, we provide 10 or 15 wealth management articles monthly to aupdate your site and now we’ve started offering videos on personal finance topics.

Candidly, many advisors don’t value publishing wealth management content on their website. But your clients are getting bombarded with financial information from so many sources. Why forfeit the opportunity to be their trusted source of financial ideas?

Providing clients with authoritative educational information on a broad range of personal finance topics—even if you don’t agree with every word in every article we write—promotes meaningful conversation with clients. Moreover, with technology enabling you to select every article and video that appears on your website or e-newsletter, you control the content that your firm distributes. You can even customize the content for each individual cleint's personal interests!

Because we host sites for 1,300 advisory firms, Advisor Products can offer all these features at an afforable price. Local designers just cannot compete with us in providing these specialized services and we now get a lot of referrals from designers and agencies hired by advisory firms.

This is why Advisor Products doesn’t force you to work with our graphic designers. We’re happy to work with your design firm if you believe that will get you the best website.

You get a huge discount on a custom website by having your own artist design the graphical interface of your website.

We send your graphic designer everything needed to work with us—specifications of the size of graphics, what types of files to send and all other details they need to understand how to work with us. A project manager from Advisor Products coordinates deadlines for your team, the artist, and our technicians to construct your site on budget and on time.

Please don’t take any of this to mean that the design services offered by Advisor Products are anything less than great. The value we provide in design is fantastic. In fact, your local designer will probably charge you a lot more than what we charge for graphic design.

However, giving advisors the freedom to hire their own artist demonstrates Advisor Products’ commitment to serve your best interest and help you succeed.

Add An Event Calendar To Your Website

Advisor Products made it easy today for advisors to add an event calendar to their websites.

If you want to conduct webinars about investing, for instance, you can advertise those events from your website. You can also list offline events, such as client appreciation dinners, picnics, and other events you want clients and prospects to attend.

The video below shows you how to create an event calendar page from the AdvisorSites BackOffice and how to add an event.

Advisors can couple the event calendar page with a GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar license to leverage the event calendar. You can use GoToWebinar or Advisor Products Email Newsletter feature to email invitations.

If you create a webinar in GoToWebinar, you insert the registration link on your event page. Anyone visiting your site can thus sign up for your webinar.

After you conduct a webinar, you can edit its description and link to a replay of the webinar. Adding a list of all your educational and marketing webinars to your event calendar is a powerful marketing and client communications tool.

The event calendar also makes it easy to charge for events and accept payments by credit card through PayPal. To charge a fee for a webinar, you’ll need a PayPal account. PayPal gives you a link and button that you can add when setting it up an event in your event calendar.

The event calendar page alone won’t bring people to your webinars. You need to advertise the event and send emails to get people to sign up. But the event calendar page is a great way to show prospects about activities at your firm. If you host an online monthly webinar or an offline monthly client seminar, listing the events in the event calendar shows prospects that your firm is involved with clients and making an effort to educate and keep in touch with them.

The event calendar is one of many different types of pages you can add to your website yourself from the AdvisorSites BackOffice. You can also call our help desk at (888) 274-5755 for assistance. There is no charge for adding the event calendar page to your website.

Please let us know what you think of the event calendar. Will it be something you add to your website? How can we improve it?

eventcalendar.mp4 (12.88 mb)

A Magazine For People Named Fred

When I was in graduate school in 1978, one of the members of Monty Python Flying Circus was a guest lecturer at journalism school. He was there to talk about a parody paper he published called Not The New York Times. It was an exact replica of the real newspaper, but it was all fake news.

That summer, Pope Paul VI died and was succeed by Pope John Paul I, who died 33 days after being elected. This led the faux paper to write a fake news story saying the third Pope that month, "John Paul John Paul," died 18 minutes after he was elected. "Pope Dies Yet Again," read the headline, "Reign is Briefest Ever," said the subtext, which added, "Cardinals Return From Airport."

I am not sure whether the speaker was Graham Chapman or John Cleese. But I do remember clearly that he told us that the fake New York Times was a new business idea called custom publishing. "Someday, there will be a magazine called 'Fred,'" he said, "dedicated solely to people named Fred."

That line about Fred magazine has always stuck in my mind. As ridiculous as it sounded, the idea of personalized publishing tantalized me.

Thirty-two years later, I can tell you that Advisor Products is making that prediction a reality.

Client Portals from Advisor Products lets an advisor create a personal electronic newsletter for each individual client. You can profile each client as retiree, pre-retiree, or business owner, and you can choose from a list of topics that would interest each client from our list of 100 wealth management topics.

Those two settings determine which stories from Advisor Products' proprietary content library of hundreds of articles will appear on the client's personal web page. Those settings also filter the topics of wealth management articles we do not write but that we allow into the client's personal portal.

In addition, you can bring in RSS feeds about entertainment, sports, health, food, and myriad other topics from other websites.

Personalizing financial articles is only one small part of the Client Portal platform. It also integrates with many CRM, financial planning, and performance reporting applications and includes a personal vault for each client. To learn more, call us at 516 333-0066 ext. 223.

Website Compliance System Upgraded For Broker/Dealers And Advisors

Advisor Products this week upgraded AdvisorSites Compliance Engine to streamline advertising compliance for independent advisors and broker/dealers.

Advisor Products hosts websites for 1,200 independent advisory firms, and provides them with AdvisorSites BackOffice, a content management system that enables technology novices to add new text, graphics, and pages to their websites.

AdvisorSites Compliance Engine (ACE) is a component of the BackOffice content management system. When an advisory firm changes tax, graphics, or pages on its website, ACE automatically notifies the advisory firm's compliance specialist, typically at an independent broker/dealer. ACE can be enabled on any firm’s website and provided to broker/dealer or compliance consultant.

With ACE, a compliance specialist can accept, reject, or require revisions to the content, and the changes made by the advisory firm must be submitted and then approved by the compliance specialist before they are displayed on the firm's website.

The upgrade to ACE eases the workflow and organizes information between the advisory firm and its compliance officer when changes are needed to the advisory firm’s website. Here's a summary of the new features.

Attach Notes. An advisory firm can attach a note to any new content it submits for approval and the note is visible to the compliance analyst reviewing the content. An advisor can attach a note to a submission telling the compliance analyst that the content was previously approved and providing a reference number for the earlier submission, or an advisor can simply attach a note to a submission for his own reference.

A compliance analyst can also attach notes to a submission. If, for instance, content submitted by an advisory firm is rejected and requires changes, the compliance officer in rejecting the content can attach a note about changes required for approval.

Compliance History. The entire compliance history of each page of the advisor's website is saved and available to the advisor and so are all notes attached to each submission. The Compliance History Report lists dates of all content submissions and their results. An advisor and B/D can go back and see when a page on the website was last changed, or how long it takes for a compliance analyst to review submissions.

The Compliance History Report creates an ongoing record that the advisor and B/D compliance officer can make available in the event of an audit by FINRA, or state or federal securities regulators. The report displays the compliance history an advisory firm's entire website or the history of a particular page.

ACE has been used by scores of independent broker dealers for over a decade. It also automatically creates archives of advisory firm websites whenever changes are made to a site.

While ACE is used predominantly by independent broker/dealers to streamline compliance workflow, it can also be used by Registered Investment Advisers to outsource advertising review to a compliance consultant.

Advisor Products added the new features to ACE after a compliance analyst at a broker/dealer suggested ways to ease his workflow. If you are an independent broker/dealer or RIA and have suggestions for improving Advisor Products systems, please let me know.

A Powerful Search Engine For Advisors

A4A aggregates news for advisors. Every business morning by 8:30 a.m., we post the major news stories advisors need to read and email it to members. Now all of that, along with our own content, is searchable.

Essentially, Advisors4advisors' news aggregation is a searchable database for advisor information.

The power of that is big. We're reading all of the trade magazines, and many sites that are off the beaten path, to create a reading list for advisors every business day. It's the best of the best articles for advisors, a huge time saver.

Mary Rowland, who wrote a personal finance column every Sunday in The New York Times for about a decade, aggregates the market and economy news. Bob Casey, former Editor of Bloomberg Wealth Manager, aggregates the industry news each morning, and I aggregate technology news.

All of the news we aggregate is indexed by our site’s search engine. So when you run a search on A4A, you're searching our collective database of major stories from many trade publications and industry-related websites.

For instance, A search of the term "rebalancing" turns up 16 results from a range of websites frequented by advisors plus a few that advisors probably don't read, like the SEC's website.

If you compare A4A's search results to other sites frequented by advisors, you'll also see how our tight focus on practice management provides information not available anywhere else.

Of course, the search feature is only one small part of what Advisors4Advisors delivers. Among the many other benefits you get by joining Advisors4Advisors:

  • Reviews by advisors of all software products used in the industry—like product reviews on Amazon.
  • Blogs by experts on compliance, technology, operations, document management, and other topics.
  • A social network of advisors using the same CRM, financial planning, and portfolio reporting systems as you.
  • A way to compare advisor software applications feature-by-feature, side-by-side.
  • Free CFP CE credit 24/7 for replays of the weekly Financial Advisor Webinar Series.


At $60 a year, we're providing a lot of value. But don't take my word for it.

Check it out yourself. Register now for a free one-month trial.

Hardware For Protecting Client Data: A Highly Rated And Fun Webinar

Advisors who attended last Friday’s webinar on secure hardware generally gave the session very high ratings.

We managed to have some fun with this very serious topic when we raffled products provided by each of the vendors. Before the session, I wrote down a series of numbers between 1 and 100 and attendees chatted in guesses. (Though I momentarily feared the chat surge might crash the webinar, we averted disaster.)

Seagate donated a Dell Latitude D620 Notebook with a self-encrypting hard drive, which was won by Ross Heart of Heart Capital.

IronKey provided three of it 4 GB USB drives, which were won by Linda Cordoba of John Lyman Wealth Advisors, Mary Rose Sanger of Legacy Capital Partners, and Art Papale of QS, Inc.

Five one-year licenses to Lo-Jack For Laptops were awarded to Gene Gurley of Miller Equity Capital Advisors, Jason Kley of Vector Wealth Management, Susan Burns of Hall & Burns Wealth Management, Cheryl Morhauser of Cheryl Morhauser & Associates, and Adam Mosely of Charles Schwab.

While we normally try to avoid product pitches at the Financial Advisor Webinar Series, presenters were asked to talk about their products because that was the best way to tackle a topic so far afield from wealth management. Judging from the attendee comments, the direct approach worked just fine.

The three presenters each had a different security solution for advisors, but advisory firms probably need all three to begin to create a secure environment for client data.

Seagate’s Joni Clark talked about self-encrypting hard drives that come built into Dell, Lenovo, HP and other PCs and provide encryption without degrading performance. Hardware-based encryption is very different from drives secured by adding software and it is widely regarded as the strongest protection from traditional software attacks because the full drive is always encrypted and the encryption keys never leave the drive.

IronKey’s John Jefferies talked about his company’s secure USB drive that essentially self destructs if someone incorrectly enters a password repeatedly, and it also has a password management program, is waterproof, scans for malware, provides protection against key loggers, and other features.

Absolute Software’s Pam Seale spoke about LoJack for Laptops, a product that can be found at Best Buy and other retail outlets and that is an add-on option for many new computers. If your computer is lost or stolen, not only can police track it down but you can disable the drive remotely.

Join us this Friday, December 11 at 4 ET for our next webinar, when our presenter will be Ben Norquist of Convergent Retirement Plan Solutions. Ben specializes in teaching and training advisors about all aspects of the qualified retirement plan business and is focusing this session on how advisors can talk with clients and prospects about the Roth IRA conversion opportunity. This is the biggest strategic financial decision clients have had to make since the financial crisis. Norquist says that if you do not by the first of the year have a strategy for approaching and advising on a Roth conversion, you’ve probably missed the chance to get it right.

Below are the unedited comments submitted by attendees who were kind enough to fill in our survey and provide feedback about last week's session. Apart from one person who thought the session was “boring” and a couple of advisors who thought it was too technical, attendees appreciated our deep dive into a technology topic that does not get much attention in the trade press because it is so technical.

Here are the comments we received.

· Very good except for audio on the first speaker.

· Excellent. I will be purchasing each presenter's products in the near future.

· Improve it……make me a door prize winner :-)

· Very practical solutions to an important problem.

· It was great. Thanks for the opportunity to win things we can use in the office.

· Please create a compliance security checklist and the appropriate devices/software to implement compliance. Also cover using and securing Blackberrys and netbooks.

· Great information!

· Very Good

· Very good and informative to the risk and solutions in insurance and advisor maket.

· Very good, Needed more time to address all questions. Thanks

· Very timely info and very key to my needs of secure devices.

· Too long of commercial at the beginning.

· Good overview of a complicated subject. I didn't realize how much we were missing

· Would not accept access code when called in by phone.

· It was great!

· How can I think of any improvement when I hear my name winning a new laptop?! Fantastic! Seriously, it was a great topic that I have very little knowledge in but concerns with. (Guessing many other advisors as well.)

· Good but too technical. Not sure how the USB drive works. Do you put all your data on it? Just your secure data? Isn't that then easier to lose? Was really looking for a way to secure my existing data. The Seagate drive seemed to be the only automatic option.

· Great overview of three relevant products. I appreciate that the presenters offered lots of info while sticking to their allotted times.

· Improvement: put slides on AP website, not just a bit.ly link

· Lots of great information.

· Would have given 5s had there been more advisor-centric security discussions, such as responsibilities and notification requirements after security breaches and/or lost/stolen equipment.

· This was a great one. Highly relevant. Thank you.

· It was great, even though a lot of it went over my head. I'm not a techy.

· This was a very useful and informative webinar. Safety of client information is a top concern and this gave me some good info for follow-up

· This webinar seemed to be for IT folks who serve our industry or for advisors that really enjoy diving into the tech stuff. It was for the average advisor as I hoped it would be.

· Volume of the first presenter was very low. Everyone else was fine.

· I did not know that there were so many options for encryption

· Keep it simple -without the long speeches.

· It was not interesting – very boring.

· Excellent information, very eye-opening. Nice touch with the giveaways.

· Great info, rapidly communicated. Good speakers. Nice to have several speakers to fill the time!
These webinars are constantly improving. Many thanks.

· It was very good, but honestly over my head. I am going to share the information with our IT Manager.

Alliance Builder From Advisor Products Increases Referrals And Link Popularity On Advisor Websites

Using the Advisor Products BackOffice, financial advisors can now add a new type of page to their sites that’s preconfigured for exchanging links with allied professionals.

Alliance Builder is a great way for a financial advisor to build referral relationships with other professionals and also increases an advisory firm website’s “link popularity,” an important factor in boosting search engine rankings.

“Your site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you,” according to Google’s guidelines for webmasters. “The quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity.”

Alliance Builder makes it easy to add an “Alliances” or “Partners” page to your site in minutes.

A lot of firms would probably want to exchange links with your firm, including:

· Estate planners · CPAs
· Business valuation experts · Bankers
· Mortgage lenders · Geriatric care specialists
· Life insurance agents · Health benefit consultants
· Business consultants · Divorce lawyers
· Labor attorneys · Psychologists
· Elder care attorneys · Architects
· Contractors · Auto insurance brokers


Alliance Builder not only lists the names of companies and colleagues who refer business to you, but it also enables them to submit the information that they want posted on your site.

You simply email or call your referral sources with the URL for the “Alliances” page on your website.

Your alliance partners come to the “Alliances” page and can input their company’s name, a brief description of their firm, and their website URL.

You are notified by email whenever an alliance partner submits a request to create a link on your site’s Alliances page. You can edit the text they wrote, approve it as is, or reject it.

This makes it really easy for referral sources to be listed on your site.

While Advisor Products wants to make it easy for you to gain link popularity, some important caveats must be mentioned.

Just because you post a link to your colleague’s firm on your website’s Alliances page, doesn’t mean he or she will reciprocate. For you to gain link popularity, your alliance partner must follow through and link to your website.

Moreover, you don’t want to abuse a link exchange program by allowing just anyone to post a link on your site.

Like most search engine optimization techniques, link popularity is not as simple as exchanging links with just anyone on the Internet. In fact, Google, the dominant search engine on the Web, penalizes you if you engage in “link schemes” and you could actually hurt your search engine visibility by engaging in gimmickry.

“Some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites,” ,” according to Google’s guidelines for webmasters. “This is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site's ranking in search results.”

We’ve seen some advisors create link exchanges with other advisory firms and we do not want to encourage this.

While linking to other financial advisory firms—even if they’re a few hundred miles away and don’t compete with you—you may sound like a clever way to gain link popularity, excessive use of such a gimmick is bound to catch up with you. Such search engine optimization tricks have been around for years and eventually the search engines get wise to it.

Also, don’t think you can link to the local barber shop, dress designer, or auto mechanic and benefit from it. Google is smarter than that.

Instead of gimmickry, keep it real. Exchange links with referral sources and other professionals with which you do business or want to do business. Look for firms that have content on their sites that is related to what you do, even if it may not be directly related to your financial advisory practice.

For instance, a local builder may not seem to be directly related to a wealth manager like you. But builders know that people doing construction need loans and financial advice and they may be interested to add a page to their site about the personal financial aspects of constructing a new home or office building even if they do not link to any advisory firms now.

Please also keep in mind that search engine optimization is a complicated field. Search engine algorithms are complicated and take many factors into consideration in ranking your site and link popularity is just one them.

Advisor Products hosts websites for about 1,200 independent advisory firms and Alliance Builder is just our latest innovative feature. For more information about our services, go to www.advisorproducts.com or call us at (888) 274-5755.

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