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Category: Bob Veres’ Blog

My Humble, Unregulated Profession

Angie Herbers (our keynote presenter at this year’s Insider’s Forum conference) recently told me in passing, during a longer conversation, that she thinks that journalism in America has become dysfunctional or broken.  As a journalist, I had to process that a bit. The interesting thing about the journalism ‘profession’ (it’s really more of an avocation) is that we aren’t bound by any formal ethical rules or guidelines.  No SEC examiners ever come into my office to check my books and records, go over my reports or see if I’m treating my audience fairly.  I’ve never had a journalist mentor, so,…

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The Point

What is the point of it all?   This is the sort of question that you find yourself asking in a moment of deep depression, when you’ve been wondering if there IS a point.  But in reality, asking yourself this question every so often creates a path to identifying the core of what you do professionally, on behalf of your clients, and on behalf of the world.   Something that deep, something that fundamental, is usually very difficult to articulate, which is why you see so many people sleepwalking through their lives.  But if you CAN answer that question in…

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Deja Vu

Oscar Wilde once remarked that “A fool is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”  I think that lesson is being played out before our eyes in the financial planning profession, only instead of ‘fool’ in that quote, you can substitute ‘private equity firm,’ or ‘bean counter.’ Ever since I wrote the article telling stories about firms that were acquired, and the issues that the acquired advisors faced in their new workplaces, I’ve been looking a bit harder at the current consolidation, driven by an ever-growing flow of private equity money.   The more stories…

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Cracking Open the Fiduciary Door 

This is really none of my business, but I can’t help saying that I hate the new policy at the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors regarding trail commissions. ‘Hate’ is a pretty strong word, but here I think it fits.  For those of you who haven’t gotten the news (basically everybody who is not a NAPFA member), the organization that has consistently, often bravely championed no-commission advice to consumers, that has enacted tough, strict membership policies to ensure that all of its members are compensated strictly by fees paid by clients (in other words, not paid by a product…

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The Lobbying ‘Tell’

This is the time of year when the various industry magazines come out with their broker-dealer surveys, listing the ‘top’ BD rankings based on total revenues or the number of ‘producing’ reps.  In the accompanying articles, you will read how the ‘top’ broker-dealers are not really in the sales business anymore; they are now becoming national advisory firms. I completely get why they would tell this to credulous writers; the public has increasingly shifted away from any taint of ‘sales’ in an advisor relationship, and the concept of hiring an advisor who puts their clients’ interests first (even if most…

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Conflicted Rankings 

We all like to know who are the real up-and-comers in our profession, the younger career financial planners who are exhibiting strong professional leadership skills and extraordinary talents.  Every so often one or the other of the professional magazines will give us a ’40 under 40’ list of candidates to watch for in the future, and I have to admit that I can’t resist looking at the list.   And it turns out that all of the future leaders of the financial planning profession are wirehouse brokers. Wait; what?!? I no longer summarize the articles in Financial Planning magazine, because…

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No Fear

This newsletter issue is mostly about technology and new fintech solutions, which is something I’ve followed for (believe it or not) roughly 41 years.  I go back so far that I wrote about the very first financial planning software programs: Financial Profiles, Leonard Systems, IFDS, PLANMAN, etc.  I wrote the very first tech survey when Barry Vinocur, then editor of Investment Advisor magazine, discovered that I was keeping a running spreadsheet of the various tech solutions in the 1990s—because so many people were asking me about this or that program.  I think back then the article included just a couple…

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Toward a (Much) Better World

You never hear anyone talk (or write) about this, but it’s really stunning how often the financial planning profession has been, and is, ahead of the curve in the evolution of our social environment. For example?  Some of us remember that the consumer revolution, which phased out salespeople and put the consumer in charge of selecting purchases based on price and quality, was very slow to enter the financial services world.  The leading tip of the spear was the first fee-only financial planners, who publicly and even defiantly sat on the same side of the table with their clients.  Instead…

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Defusing Political Emotions

As you know, I read the trade magazines (including online sources like Advisor Perspectives and kitces.com) and report on the various articles,.  This gives me some insight not only into trends in the profession, but into the reporting on them.   Recently, I’ve noticed an area where there is a huge trend but the reporting has been unusually timid: clients are increasingly politically polarized, and increasingly strident and insistent on their political beliefs.  Many advisors don’t know what to do when the conversation keeps being pulled away from planning into politics.  There are now, for the first time in my…

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