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Category: Bob Veres’ Blog

How the SEC Has Strayed From Its Mission

In case you missed it, the XY Planning Network—Michael Kitces and Alan Moore—have filed two petitions with the SEC, and they’re far more ambitious in what they’re asking for than anything I’ve seen from our trade or professional organizations.  In fact, they make the case that the SEC has totally perverted its consumer protection mission, which is clearly spelled out in the law, for at least the past 20 years.  If the petitions get traction, it could bring about huge shifts in the regulatory playing field for fiduciary advisors and Wall Street—and benefit financial consumers perhaps most of all. One…

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New Voice at the SEC

You may have missed it, but Barbara Roper, who was the financial services face of the Consumer Federation of America—a tireless advocate for a fiduciary standard and consumer protection generally—has a new role to play.  She is now working at the SEC, as senior advisor to SEC chair Gary Gensler. Roper’s best work at the CFA came when she would call out the hypocrisy of the brokerage firms, who would advertise that they worked diligently for the best interests of their customers, and then lobby vigorously against having to be held to anything like that standard by the regulators.  When…

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The Misreading of ESG

I’ve been reviewing a lot more articles about the SRI and ESG investment movements lately than I ever did before, and I think that’s a sign that more people are interested in owning shares of companies that are behaving responsibly—however one might define that.  I’m not surprised; the very first time I was exposed to the concept, I viewed the filters as a logical part of the equity research process.  They were a way to identify what many of us believe are harmful aspects of our currently barely-regulated capitalist system.  But often the articles I’m reviewing are telling us about…

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Cultural Fit?

I have to confess that I’m worried.  I started worrying the minute I heard that the Schwab organization was acquiring TD Ameritrade, not on the consumer side (two entities that basically encourage people to trade themselves into bankruptcy, but not nearly as bad as newer entities like Robinhood).  My worries are on the custody side, where thousands of advisors are being swept into a culture they probably know little about.  I worry that Schwab’s internal culture is not completely compatible with the idealistic mindset of the planning profession—which is why we have never invited Schwab Advisor Services to exhibit at our…

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Inside Information E-Column: Permanent Changes Due to the Pandemic

In a recent group email, I asked the Inside Information community to tell me what they think has changed permanently—in their lives and in our profession—as a result of the ongoing pandemic. There were a lot of responses, which again tells me how lucky I am to be able to ask these questions and receive back the wisdom of the crowds.  As to the “permanently changed” question, there seems to be broad agreement that remote client meetings are here to stay—but there were some interesting differences in interpretation as to what, exactly, that means going forward. Virtual is replacing in-person…

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The Next Investment

If you’re looking for a new trend in the investment landscape that could totally change the way advisors build portfolios for clients, then start with a look backwards.  In the 1990s, advisors were focused on actively-managed mutual funds, poring over increasingly sophisticated Morningstar screens to identify the “best” funds, or the funds that would outperform the market over the next three to five years. Then the popularity of passive investing changed the way advisors spent their time and the contents of their portfolios.  That was followed by the rise of ETFs as the building blocks of client portfolios, and once…

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Over the Next Hill

Perhaps because I’m genetically predisposed to be a futurist, I can’t help trying to peer over the next hill in our professional timeline.  And a surprising number of possible shifts are contained right here in this issue. Start with the idea of professional specialties, board certification and peer review self-regulation.  The lead article in this issue outlines an intriguing initiative that is broader than the planning profession, which could become the model for a more focused initiative in the financial planning world.  I’m co-author of an upcoming white paper on the financial planning firm of the future (with practice management…

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Conference Evolution

One of the most interesting questions facing the advisor/planner ecosystem this year is when and how in-person conferences will resume.  National meetings have traditionally been important venues for creating relationships and networking, and building a common culture among like-minded attendees who, in the hours after the sessions have passed, talk about the profession’s next evolution and how to embrace it.  I have commented elsewhere that the fastest track toward becoming a leader in the profession is serially attending national conferences and interacting with people who are already leaders.  And many of those existing leaders got there by the same route.…

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The Lessons of GameStop

I’m sure many of you were watching with some fascination (or horror) as the markets for three unprofitable companies—GameStop, AMC and Blackberry—drove their share prices up nearly 1,000 percent, collectively.  You may also have noticed that Bitcoin has exploded in the last year. The story may be the best illustration yet of the difference between gambling and investing—even though you can do both in the investment markets.  Hedge funds, which engage in very sophisticated forms of gambling, made very logical bets that the prices of these three companies—one of them seemingly outmoded the way Blockbuster was some years back, another…

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