DISCLAIMER: This document has not been approved, disapproved, or otherwise acted upon by any senior technical committees, and does not represent an official position of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. It is distributed with the understanding that the contributing authors and editors, and the publisher, are not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.
Note: Access to Inside Information is a benefit of PFP/PFS membership, which is an individual membership. If your peers would like access to this newsletter service, they can either purchase directly from Bob Veres or sign up for PFP membership.
Return to News & Publications
May 10, 2013: The Fee Samples: A Report on Advisory Fee Structures in the Financial Planning/Advisor Profession
Responding to an Inside Information E-Column on advisory fees ("The Fee Conundrum") advisors from all over the U.S. marketplace provided information about their fee structures, including the amounts and how the fees were determined.
May 2013 - In This Issue
April 2013 - In This Issue
- The X Factors: A younger generation of clients has a very different financial outlook than their parents--and they're asking for very different services from their advisors.
- Successions of Last Resort: A lot of transactions are taking place under the radar. Here are three advisors who have made recent acquisitions.
- Model Valuations: Introducing a spreadsheet model that helps you value your practices and takes some of the emotion out of successor negotiations.
- Sorting Through the Clutter: What is a curator, and why is that role becoming increasingly important in the new information age?
March 2013 - In This Issue
- Point, Counterpoint: This may be the clearest view you've ever gotten into how the fiduciary debate is framed at the SEC and Congress.
- Storm of Opportunity: Advisors are looking at an extraordinary opportunity in the 401(k) market.
- Balancing Act: Stephanie Bogan is creating an entirely new practice management balance between autonomy, standardization and scale.
- Parting Thoughts: The (much) bigger picture that surrounds our debate over whether Wall Street should live under a fiduciary standard.
February 18, 2013 - In This Issue
Special Report: Making Sense of the New Tax Environment
This special report from Bob Veres covers some of the most important sessions and takeaways from the 2013 AICPA Advanced PFP Conference in Las Vegas in January. Bob notes “Year in, year out, the annual PFP meeting provides some of the best technical insights. This year it added the additional excitement of exploring a new and complex planning terrain. The combination produced a number of extraordinary sessions.” Read this 20 page report – a bonus issue for Inside Information readers – for key insights from the conference.
February 2013 In This Issue…
- Debt Revisited: It may actually be riskier to pay down a mortgage, if the money is coming from retirement investments. Debt restructuring may be more powerful than most of us have realized.
- Contract Planning: Here’s a quick ‘ho to’ on a variety of digital marketing topics—and how they all fit together in a package.
- Parting Thoughts: What are the essential personal qualities that you have to cultivate if you want to get the most out of the constant (and usually positive) forces of change?
January 2013 In This Issue...
- The Death of Alpha: Institutions are starting to replace their search for above-market returns with increasingly sophisticated beta exposures.
- Asset Class Act: The client portfolio tracking software companies have grown complacent. A strong new competitor might change that dynamic.
- The Next Wave: How can advisory firm owners do a better job of implementing the great ideas they are exposed to at conferences and in their peer interactions?
- Parting Thoughts: What 2012 should have taught us, and why we can say that about just about any year.
December 2012 In This Issue…
- Early Warning: Every year, some of the best conferences are held in the first couple of months – and thus are early to miss. One of the best is the [AICPA] Advanced Personal Financial Conference… which routinely features some of the best panel discussions on real-world topics.
- Contract Planning: How to provide wide-ranging financial advice to any of 6,000 middle-income employees who ask for it.
- Three Faces of Staff Management: Three interesting perspectives on how to manage your staff and leverage yourself.
- Fixing Group-Think: How to rescue your investment committees from group-think and analysis paralysis.
November 2012 In This Issue…
- Ensemble Consulting: The ensemble business model offers a variety of advantages: faster growth, optimal potential for client service, a better work environment for employees, distributed decision-making and succession planning options.
- Measuring Our Differences: How to actually use those psychological profile instruments in your
- practice--and understand why problems inevitably crop up among us
- Fast-Tracking Wealth Management: What is Tim Kochis up to now? If he's successful, you'll see a blossoming wealth management culture in emerging Asia.
- The Next 2008?: Are we moving toward another 2008? Or 1987? More importantly: are you prepared?
October 2012 In this issue...
- Mindshift In the Leadership Pipeline: Here's a supercharged version of the traditional organizational chart--plus how to reposition your role for a successful succession planning process.
- The Process-Centric Office: How to create a process-centric office and push right through your next ceiling of complexity.
- Valuing Value Investing: Three legendary fund managers let you look over their shoulders at the anomalies and inefficiencies in the investment markets.
- Rethinking Testimonials: It's long past time for the SEC to rethink its restrictive testimonial rules for RIAs.
September 2012 In this issue...
- Feedback Loop: How do you create a culture of continuous improvement in your service model? Here's the formula created by one of the major custodians.
- Integrated Compliance: Is it possible to transition your compliance work into a practice management asset?
- The Outsource CIO: Should you consider bringing in an outside professional to help you create and manage client portfolios?
- Holistic Monetizing: The next new service for advisors could be helping clients monetize their illiquid assets.
August 2012 In this issue….
- The Unwrapped Guarantee: Here’s a way to slap a lifetime withdrawal benefit guarantee on any part of a client’s portfolio—without a commission, without a VA, and without locking up your client’s money.
- Exciting Adventures In Performance Reporting: A few new ideas in how to structure your quarterly performance reports – and also what to benchmark against.
- Distracting or Relevant? You know whether clients can afford your services. Should that affect what you charge them?
July 2012 In this issue…
- Transition Life Planning: Tools to help clients with stressful changes in their money situations - and their lives.
- A Trillion Here, A Trillion There: Eight major economic themes each could potentially add $1 trillion to global GDP by 2020.
- One-Page Career: How to supercharge your professional evolution--and do the same for your clients.
- The Optimized Retirement: Giving sophisticated advice on Social Security could significantly boost client retirement income.
- Where’s the Problem? Do we really need the SEC to conduct on-site RIA inspections?
NOTE: With respect to Bob’s “Early Warning” on page 1, the PFP Division offers networking opportunities for PFP/PFS members based on region or special interests (see aicpa.org/PFP/networking). Further, we support a uniform, elevated standard of care for broker-dealers and RIAs, so long as the fiduciary standard is no less stringent than the standard currently applied to investment advisers under the Investment Advisers Act. Our positions on a variety of legislative and regulatory issues can be found our website (see aicpa.org/PFP/advocacy). Finally, the discount referenced is valid only until July 31st and applies to NEW AICPA members (both non-CPA associates and regular members). This special 50% off promotion is valid for the first year of membership and also applies to PFP Section membership. Encourage your peers to join while this limited-time discount is available! Use the promo code NNCPA1 to get 50% off the first year of membership, 50% off Section memberships and no enrollment fee (regularly $65).
June 2012 In this issue...
- Harnessing the Power of Trust: Here are some of the best insights you're likely to find anywhere in the most important, least-visible component of your advisory business.
- Recapitalization, Recovery and Owl Economics: The economic morass in Europe may be deeper than we think. Also: is there a better way to approach our government debt issues?
- Decumulation Demystified: New insights into decumulation and how to build retirement-oriented portfolios
- Filling In the Blanks: A fast, inex¬pensive way to find the cost basis of a current holding
- Parting Thoughts -The Wrong Side of History: Why is the Financial Services Institute fighting the fiduciary concept and embracing FINRA?
May 2012 In this issue...
- Long Term Care: Once again, you're hearing about a lot of turmoil in the long-term care marketplace. Here's some analysis you probably haven't seen before.
- Portfolio Management: Hedge fund replication is an interesting diversifying tool for client portfolios. But how do you measure the benefits?
- The Profession: If you could start your practice all over from scratch, would it start to resemble this one?
- Parting Thoughts: If we really want to protect consumers, why not look at a much broader spectrum of bad advice providers?
April 2012 In this issue….
- Practice Management: To maximize referrals, select a target market and define it in terms of the outcomes they want you to bring to them. Then creatively rehearse with clients your niche and value proposition.
- Practice Management: An entirely new way to structure your succession plan--if you're willing to look beyond the simple transfer of stock.
- The Profession: Three great breakouts from the SSG Conference in San Diego.
- Parting Thoughts: The fiduciary model is on the right side of history, and brokers are starting to realize it.
March 2012 In this issue….
- Practice Marketing: Demystifying the Social Media phenomenon for advisors.
- The Profession: A chart shows the growth rates of various professional organizations and service providers.
- Client Services: Your guide to planning for special-needs families.
- Practice Management: What we learned at the T3 Conference in Dallas.
- Parting Thoughts: Why it makes sense to explore more sophisticated investment strategies- -and why it doesn't.
February 2012 This issue includes in-depth write-ups of some of the best sessions from last month’s AICPA PFP Conference, including...
- Client Services: A rich smorgasbord of estate planning strategies
- Client Services: Hidden risks in your clients’ retirement projections
- Client Services: How to review your clients’ life insurance policies
- The Profession: Surveying your political and economic landscape
- Portfolio Management: Is MPT still valid?
- Client Services: The origins of happiness
January 2012 In this issue...
- Regulatory Landscape: It's time to consider an alternative SRO in case Congress grants FINRA's regulatory desires. As it happens, we already have something to work with.
- Practice Management: What will be your next major decision about your career and your prac-tice?
- Practice Management: Ad¬visors who have been dually-registered might recognize the value proposition and culture of TradePMR.
- Parting Thoughts: An apology to our readers. Also: A call for at least a SEMBLANCE of fairness in our regulatory oversight and enforcement.
December 2011 In this issue...
- Practice Management: The AICPA PFP Division is making it much easier for CPAs to get into the financial plan¬ning business with a partnership with Fox Financial Planning Network.
- Portfolio Management: Maggie Carpenter questions all the assumptions on which we've built our long-term equity return estimates, and then offers an interesting solution.
- Practice Management: The good news is that the top-quartile planning practices aren't running their firms much differently from the way you are. The better news is that small changes can lead to dramatic results.
November 2011 In this issue...
- Portfolio Management: A panel discussion offered remarkable insights into the investment markets and the current state of the economy.
- Practice Management: A deep look at succession planning that could have you rethinking your own plans.
- The Profession: Check out the AICPA's PFP conference--if you dare.
- Practice Management: How two advisors are using iPads in their practices.
- Portfolio Management: What does Morningstar's Don Phillips think about gold and dividend investing?
- Parting Thoughts: The difference between SEC enforcement against independent RIAs and Wall Street has become too obvious to ignore.
October 2011 In this issue...
- Practice Management: Interesting insights from the FPA’s annual convention - Is your experience getting in the way of your innovation? Borrow the best ideas of other industries. If we project future returns based on U.S. historical averages, are we overstating the future? The bond markets are dictating to European policymakers, and being dictated to by the Fed.
- Portfolio Management: Two trends are coming together to cre¬ate another one: Investing is get-ting more complicated, and more advisors are looking at smoothing returns with tactical management. The new trend? Larger advisory firms managing client portfolios for their peers.
- Parting Thoughts: What is the biggest challenge facing the advisory profession today? More importantly, what can we do about it?
September 2011 In this issue....
- Industry News: David Loeper and his companies have been granted two patents on some processes which might look an awful lot like what you do as a matter of professional routine. Be prepared for a bit of a shock when you see the scope of the patents and the language in the first lawsuit filed to protect them.
- Portfolio Management: Here's how the rules seem to be changing in the investment marketplace--which helps explain the recent volatility.
- Portfolio Management: We hear a lot about innovative investment concepts and a new MPT. Gary Miller is pioneering how to put those ideas into actual client portfolios.
- Parting Thoughts: Some universal lessons about client service suggest that the advisor profession has a long way to go.
August 2011 In this issue….
- Client Services: How to help your clients get the most of their career asset.
- Portfolio Management: ERM is what MPT might have become if the advisory community had supported real debate on portfolio management issues.
- Client Services: It's time to start providing advice on your clients' health insurance coverage- which is increasingly linked to their financial lives.
- Parting Thoughts: What's the real bias in the media, and how did it interfere with your recent budget and debt debate?
July 2011 In this issue….
- Coming Soon: Schwab's new Independent Branch Services division will begin opening up new offices all over the country-- staffed by advisors and breakaway brokers.
- Practice Management: After you read this article, the succession planning dynamic will never look quite the same again.
- Investing: Would you like to know how a Greek default would affect client portfolios? Or a new revolution in Saudi Arabia? Introducing the Bloomberg Terminal of the future--at a surprisingly affordable price.
- Parting Thoughts: Should we stop lobbying for a universal fiduciary standard, and let Wall Street melt down capitalism all over again?
June 2011 In this issue….
- Practice Management: What's the best way to facilitate staff development and internal delegation? Start by creating clear checklists of what you expect.
- The Profession: David Gergen expresses his disappointment with our political culture, and outlines three immediate problems the U.S. needs to solve.
- The Profession: What can we do about preventing the brokerage firms from running amok again?
- Practice Management: Management lessons from Disney, a tour of your clients' minds, and how to stay resilient.
- Parting Thoughts: Hidden conflicts buried in our asset man¬agement debates.
May 2011 In this issue...
- Practice Management: A detailed look at how to address potentially the most complicated challenge facing many advisors today – succession planning.
- The Profession: How one firm will put on more than 100 local conferences this year—and improve the exhibitor/advisor connection.
- Portfolio Management: One of the newest mutual funds on the market is also one of the most unusual: it focuses almost exclusively on downside protection.
- Parting Thoughts: Do advisors have a responsibility, as fiduciaries, to shine some light on shelfspace arrangements?
April 2011 In this issue...
- Client Services: How client services are evolving, and how to offer pre-financial planning service.
- Practice Management: New Planner Recruiting will take all the chores of hiring your next advisor off your desk--and guarantee the results.
- Practice Management: A new software program hunts through your PortfolioCenter client files to cleanse it of errors.
March 2011 In this issue....
- Tech Trends: Look for more dimensions of software integration, dramatically easier user interfaces, mobile devices used for business purposes--and be prepared to collaborate with your clients on the planning work.
- Practice Management: How to evaluate and build portfolios from an econometric perspec¬tive--and some new measures of risk.
- Portfolio Management: Here's a portfolio manager whose new fund goes three interesting steps beyond traditional value investing.
- Parting Thoughts: Share your most ridiculous SEC examination citations, and together, let's make an important point.
February 2011 In this issue....
- Portfolio Theory: What's wrong with Modern Portfolio Theory? It could be the way we derive our inputs.
- Client Services: A list of today's hottest planning topics, and what some national experts are saying about them.
- Practice Management: Why the old management techniques won't work in the future.
- Parting Thoughts: A critical summary of the SEC's regulatory harmonization proposals to Congress.
- Parting Thoughts: Why is the FPA offering tips on cold calling--and what message that sends to the membership and the outside communities.
January 2011 In this issue...
- The Profession: The AICPA's PFP meeting in Las Vegas will remind the profession that we're moving along two designation tracks.
- Practice Marketing: Instead of creating your service menu and marketing package in isolation, get and use actual client feedback--via focus groups and a client advisory board.
- Practice Marketing: Forget everything you think you know about referrals, and then read this new report.
- Portfolio Management: Here's a quick peek at what might replace Modern Portfolio Theory in client portfolios.
- Parting Thoughts: When we reflect on ourselves and the world around us this New Year's, it may be time to think bigger.
December 2010 In this issue...
- Early Warning: AICPA Advanced PFP Conference
- Practice Management: Solo practices have the hardest time with their succession plans. Here are two that worked.
- Practice Management: Here's a succession plan that succeeded in spite of itself.
- Practice Management: How to successfully delegate tasks--and streamline your firm.
- Practice Management: How to actually use turn-key life planning tools and systems in your practice.
- Parting Thoughts: Wall Street has us convinced that it is somehow necessary to our economic lives. I think it's time to examine that assumption.
November 2010 In this issue...
- Practice Management: Principals at two of the profession's largest firms talk about the trials and pitfalls of growth.
- Practice Management: A step-by-step process for becoming one of the elite 15% in the advisory profession.
- Client Services: Each year, eight or nine percent of your clients will relocate away from your market area. Do you have a method or a plan for servicing them in their new location?
October 2010 In this issue...
- Investing: Actionable lessons learned at the NAPFA Practice Management & Investments Conference that can be applied to our investment processes.
- Investing: Economist Todd Buchholz offers a cautiously optimistic view of the U.S. and global economy.
- Parting Thoughts: Isn't it time we all recognized FINRA arbitration for what it really is—a great way to protect brokerage firms?
September 2010 In this issue...
- Practice Management: As the advisory business changes and evolves, it will create new operational challenges. Here's a preview, and some advice on how to address them.
- Client Services: Can one person really "fix" the insurance industry? If not, he might be able to fix some problems in your clients' coverage.
- Practice Management: How study groups are helping their advisors address succession planning and issues.
- Parting Thoughts: Here's a single (potential) solution for our financial illiteracy rate, and a lot of other costly social problems as well.
August 2010 In this issue...
- Practice Management: Build transferable value, a new way of assessing the nature of that value, and how future (larger) advisory firms may encounter similar challenges that the wirehouses face today.
- Parting Thoughts: What, exactly, is the POINT of fiduciary responsibility?
- Parting Thoughts: A modest proposal on how to fix the SEC- without giving it the keys to our checkbooks
July 2010 In this issue...
- Conferences: David Laibson on behavioral finance
- Portfolio Management: Barry Ritholtz on the aftermath of the crash
- Practice Management: Pat Lencioni on the strategic benefits of vulnerability
- Portfolio Management: Marci Rossell on the two-tier economic recovery
- Client Services: Dan Ariely on behavioral finance
- The Future: Michael Kitces responds to the Future of the Profession white paper
- Parting Thoughts: Our profession's next (last?) lobbying
June 2010 In this issue...
- Conferences: Recap of the NAPFA National Conference
- Practice Management: Beatrice Berry on client focus
- Portfolio Management: Chris Davis on jittery clients
- Practice Management: Living benefit riders demystified in detail
- Client Services: Everything you wanted to know about health care reform.
- Parting Thoughts: How the SEC could toughen standards ahead of Congress
May 2010 In this issue...
- Conferences: The FPA Retreat in San Antonio included some big picture and econometric information, practice management sessions, and sessions focusing on managing career assets in and out of retirement.
- Practice Management: The ingredients to making positive change in your practice in a time of rapid evolution. The Profession: A former U.S. Treasury Secretary offers some thoughts on how to fix our economy and government debt problems.
- Parting Thoughts: Thoughts on the Goldman testimony and the rightful economic role of brokerage firms.
April 2010 In this issue…
- Marketing: Demystify some best marketing practices for advisors--at a time when people are most interested in hearing about your services.
- Client Services: Is it really possible to make budgeting and cash management the easiest service you provide.
- The Profession: If the SEC were to do an honest, detailed assessment of regulatory issues and financial advice, what would it look like?
- Parting Thoughts: If we're looking at conflicts of interest, let's not focus exclusively on financial professionals.
March 2010 In this issue….
- Conferences: The TD Ameritrade national conference featured two former presidents, plus excellent sessions on creating effective management structures, good compliance habits and our slow, painful economic recovery.
- Client Services: What makes women different as financial planning clients--and how can you better serve their needs?
- Investing: Tips on using a Monte Carlo system, and how to better communicate the chances of unpleasant investment scenarios to your clients.
- Parting Thoughts: If the brokerage industry wins the fiduciary battle in Congress, what are the consequences for us and for consumers?
February 2010 In this issue, Bob Veres examines...
- Conferences: A complete recap of the AICPA PFP conference in Orlando, including everything you need to know about Roth conversions.
- Practice Management: The Middle Market Model, how one planner has created a sustainable practice that isn’t purely focused on growth.
- Client Services: How many of your clients are really at risk to leave you for another advisor – and why
- Parting Thoughts: We’ve come through a lot in the past ten years. What achievements and failures will we look back on ten years down the road?
January 2010 In this issue…
- The Profession: New Thinking About Conferences
- Practice Management: Achieving Operational Excellence in a Planning Office
- Practice Management: A Surprising Number of Efficiencies from One Decision (the UMA Office)
- Practice Management: Where to Find Collaborative Coaching Services for Your Clients--and Also for Yourself
- Parting thoughts: The Promise Ahead
- Bonus Addendum: A bonus listing of the significant conferences in calendar 2010--plus scouting reports (includes Advanced PFP Conference this January!)
December 2009 In this issue…
- Practice Management: The remarkable power of appreciative inquiry.
- Client Services: How to move a few steps beyond traditional estate planning.
- Practice Management: When you and your coach have decided to make some changes, here are the people who can make them happen.
- Client Services: How to offer mortgage planning services to your clients.
- Parting thoughts: Unclear sailing.
November 2009 In this issue...
- The Profession: The FPA convention in Anaheim, and the power of optimism.
- The Profession: NAPFA's Western LFA/AP meeting featured plenty of star power.
- Practice Management: Dennis Stearns offers a peek into some possible futures you may not have considered--and some real-world experience hiring one of his clients.
- Parting Thoughts: Can the press help us where lobbyists cannot?
October 2009 In this issue...
- Marketing: How to use psychology to calm client fears during down markets and how to market to centers of influence who may be just as nervous?
- Client services: Here's a coaching program that could change the way you offer your planninng services, and put some more glue into your client relationships.
- Parting Thoughts: SEC chairperson Mary Schapiro makes it abundantly clear that brokerage firms are sales organizations after all.
September 2009 In this issue...
- The mechanics of moving your practice forward at a level of detail you may not have seen before.
- The problem with marketing a PFP practice and its services: most of the marketing advice you get comes from the sales side of the business. Get marketing advice more suited to a service-oriented advisor.
- A new innovation in financial services software, and at the end you have my thoughts, as a 25-year observer of the profession, on how well the planning/PFP world has sailed through the recent financial crisis.
DISCLAIMER: This document has not been approved, disapproved, or otherwise acted upon by any senior technical committees of, and does not represent an official position of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. It is distributed with the understanding that the contributing authors and editors, and the publisher, are not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.