Despite the negative media attention Mitt Romney received for a secretly recorded video in which he talked about the 47% of Americans who do not pay taxes, there is one group of people who is still solidly supporting the Republican’s presidential bid: financial advisors.

 

Lorie Konish writes for OnWallStreet.com that a new survey by the SEI Advisor Network, some of which was done after the video was revealed, shows that 74% of financial advisors back Romney. These numbers are similar to an SEI survey from May. However, there is one difference in the poll’s results: in May, 63% thought that Barack Obama would win the election. Now, 52% of the advisors think that Romney has the edge.

 

The advisors in the survey each manage at least $100 million in client assets. Steve Onofrio, managing director for SEI, tells OnWallStreet.com: “Our sense is that it’s about the economy, it’s about entitlements and the tax fiscal cliff on Jan. 1,” he said. “I think that’s what we’re seeing.”

 

Other results from the survey: 85% said that Romney would make a better financial advisor than Obama, and 79% said that Romney would positively impact the economy. In addition, 86% of the advisors said that their political views were similar to those of their clients.

Written by Lisa Swan

 

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Grow a spine. That’s the blunt advice that Bob Auer, a former Morgan Stanley executive, has for financial advisors, AdvisorOne reports.

 

“Advisors have become spineless, and clients are leading the conversations,” Auer says. “After four years of bad markets, advisors are just in survival mode.”  Auer, an RIA who founded the Auer Growth Fund and SBAuer Funds LLC, says that it irritates him to see financial advisors who don’t show leadership, and instead give in to the clients’ every whim.

 

“Today, the pressure is so great to preserve the client’s capital,” Auer says, because ”the clients hear about the fiscal cliff, Europe and the Middle East, and they’re bombarded.” The RIA says that “advisors play along” because “they’ve been beaten into submission.”

 

Auer also warns that those advisors who don’t show leadership could still lose their clients. “When the market does turn around, advisors will be in passive mode, and they’ll lose their clients anyway,” he said.

Written by Lisa Swan

 

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A new survey reveals that financial advisors are none too pleased with the current financial advisor technology software available. OnWallStreet.com reports that Tiburon Strategic Advisors discovered that in some cases, financial advisors find the software available “downright unsatisfactory,” the publication says.

Chip Roame, who is the firm’s managing partner, told OnWallStreet that there are three main issues that advisors have with the software, as reflected in Tiburon’s report, Financial Advisor Technology: Leading Edge Financial Advisors Technology Strategies. The first issue is that “financial planning technology often is not integrated with one’s’ portfolio management system, which requires data to be re-keyed.” He suggested that the software instead have “better integration.”

The second issue is that the software doesn’t reflect the different types of planning that advisors do, with some involved with “comprehensive planning,” the article says, while others do “modular planning.” Roame says that “systems written one way or the other under-serve some financial advisors.”

The final issue is that some of the software is really investment planning or insurance sales tools, instead of working comprehensively. Roame said that “this can and should be solved.”

Written by Lisa Swan

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An author has advice for financial advisors when it comes to attracting and keeping female clients. Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, author of the book How To Give Financial Advice To Women: Attracting and Retaining High-Net-Worth Female Clients talks about the subject in this month’s Financial Advisor Magazine, and says that they have specific needs. She has six tips to help financial advisors to connect with female clients:

  • Let women explain their story: “To be effective attracting, connecting, and advising a woman, you need to listen to and understand her experience,” Kingsbury says. So be sure to listen, ask good questions, and empathize.
  • Understand that women connect with personal details: You will note when comparing men and women and the way they network that women tend to “talk about what you two have in common.” Keep that in mind, Kingsbury indicates.
  • Women may use “feeling words”: “Women connect through discussing their vulnerabilities and not through sharing activities the way men typically do,” Kingsbury says.  You don’t need to talk about your feelings with her; just listen and empathize.
  • Definition of success in a woman’s eyes? “Being indispensible”: Women want to be known as the go-to person, Kingsbury says, where men considerable being successful as doing things alone. “Make sure you mention how your female client is a valuable and an indispensable part of the financial planning team ,” she says, “because it is important in the female world for her to be seen as helpful.”
  • Women pay attention to body language and details: “A male client might not care if you follow up after each meeting with a note to say thank you, but doing so with a woman may mean the difference between keeping a client and losing one,” Kingsbury says. Women also notice body language.
  • Women “are loyal”: Kingsbury says that once there is a trust level, women are very loyal. And because of that, they will refer more friends and relatives to financial advisors than men do.

Written by Lisa Swan

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Would you end a contentious meeting with your supervisors by mooning them? And then expect to keep your job – and get a big bonus? That’s what happened with Bank of America broker Jason Selch. Here Is the City has the story.

Selch worked for Wagner Asset Management in Chicago. In 2005, the company merged with Columbia Asset Management, which is a subsidiary of BofA. Selch was reportedly concerned that his compensation package would change, and he was upset that his friend and co-worker Chris O’Dea was fired after balking at a change in his own compensation package. So Selch burst into the office where Columbia execs were meeting and asked if he had a non-compete clause, a query which indicated that he could go work for the competition. Then Selch dropped trou, mooned the executives, told them to never come back to Chicago, and left the room.

The second-most shocking thing about this case, besides the fact the Selch mooned the bigwigs, is that his immediate supervisor fought to keep him on with only a warning, and briefly succeeded.  But the boss was overruled by Brian Banks, CEO of Columbia, who said that what Selch did was too “egregious” to keep him on.

Selch then sued to get his job back, and to get a bonus he missed out on that would have vested if he has survived at the job, arguing that firing him after giving him a warning was a break of contract. A federal appeals panel recently dismissed Selch’s claim, saying that his mooning was “insubordinate, disruptive, unruly and abusive.”

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Even though Congress will be in a lame-duck session this fall, with elections looming in November, that doesn’t mean that it will be a completely quiet time. OnWallStreet.com writes about what financial advisors can expect to see this fall.

Some of the looming financial issues include renewing the Bush tax cuts, which will end at the end of the year if Congress doesn’t take action. In addition, the House and Senate need to come up with a deficit reduction plan, or face $2.1 trillion in cuts which will kick in.

“Congress is not going to pass any legislation this year before the election,” Tax expert Andy Friedman tells the publication. “We should have just turned out the lights on Capitol Hill.”  And OnWallStreet.com notes that “a favorite maxim in Washington holds that Congress seems only to respond to a deadline — they’ll be facing a couple when they do return — and it might not matter much how the election breaks.”

Friedman also says that he thinks that the markets will be “exceedingly volatile for the rest of the year.” However, he does not think that Congress will fail forever to do something about the budget cuts and tax issues. He does say that the risk of not doing something could get the legislative body to act. “Maybe it is that risk that actually forces Congress to forge a compromise during the lame-duck session, but it’s not going to be easy,” Friedman said.

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Are you ready to start your own independent financial advisory practice? Read what Sanjeev Sardana has to say on the subject. Sardana writes for Forbes.com that although he “always had a “rebellious streak,” he did work for other companies like Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Credit Suisse. 

However, he says that he found that when working for a big brokerage firm, he “did not have the freedom to always act first in my clients’ best interests,” and had to instead put his employer’s interests first. So in 2006, Sardana founded his own company, BluePointe Capital Management, and did what his industry refers to as “breaking away.” That means that instead of signing up with another brokerage house, he became a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA.)

While there are some big advantages to working for a brokerage house, being an RIA also has some benefits as well. Sardana says that he no longer has to deal with those conflicts regarding what is good for his employer, as opposed to what is good for his clients.

In addition, Sardana says that he and his team “make all the decisions when it comes to investing strategy and how we implement it,” which takes out the middle man. Of course, going it alone isn’t for everyone, and it depends on your own temperament.

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If you want to get ahead and to make it, you have to not fake it, writes Steve Sanduski for the Prosperous Advisor column at OnWallStreet.com. “Authenticity is a critical component of being a successful financial advisor,” he writes. “Unfortunately, not all advisors fit that description.”

Here are Sanduski’s three keys to being an “authentic advisor”:

  1. Look at what your motivation is: Are you a financial advisor to make a heap of money, or are you in the business to help your clients? Being authentic is the latter, and if you are real, chances are you will not only help those clients succeed, you will indeed make money, too.
  2. Make sure you like your clients: Sanduski says that you should interview potential clients to see if they are a good fit for you, much like they are interviewing you to see if you’re a good fit for them. He says that “authentic advisors work with clients where there’s mutual like, trust and respect,” so “if you have a client or two that does not fit that description, then it’s time to fire them.”
  3. Keep on learning and improving: Sanduski says that authentic advisors are always willing to learn. He says he has been in the financial advisor business for almost 20 years, and is still learning.
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It’s official. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney is cutting the number of offices, OnWallStreet.com reports. The business is slashing its number of “brokerage complexes” to 86 from 118 and cutting the number of branch managers from 150 to a total of 85. These changes are part of consolidation for the Morgan Stanley brokerage business.

These changes were rumored earlier this month, and were confirmed by Morgan Stanley late last week. The cuts also came shortly after Morgan Stanley revealed that it would cut its regional offices from 16 down to 12. There could be further cuts and changes in the works.

The most recent changes “will create larger complexes representing $150 million to $250 million in revenue,” OnWallStreet.com reports.

Morgan Stanley is tied with Citibank in a joint brokerage business venture, where Morgan Stanley owns 51 percent of the brokerage. This venture began in 2009.

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What are the keys to running a successful financial advisor business? Financial Advisor Magazine says that there are five important things advisors should follow. While “there are no easy steps, and there is no one path to achievement,” notes financial advisor Todd Rhine, there are indeed some things that advisors need to know and do:

Know yourself:  You should know what kind of financial advisor services you want to provide, suggests James Hansberger of Morgan Stanley. He says you should “have a clear and original vision that is well-communicated and understood.” From that, you can grow your business.

Provide great customer service: Financial advisor Brian Parker of EP Wealth Advisors says to “be available.” He advises to “stay engaged through market cycles” with clients “because we have a friendship and they know I care about them as people.” It’s also important to pay attention to your clients’ body language, and not just their words, the article notes.

Have great support staff and technology:  Financial advisor Arthur Cooper of Cooper McManus says hiring support staff as soon as possible is critical. “The advisor’s time in front of clients is worth maybe $100 to $300 an hour,” he says, while “you can pay somebody $15 or $20 an hour to handle the paperwork, scheduling and follow-up.” It’s also important to have great software, not some clunky program that last worked well a decade ago.

Market and promote your business:  Make your existing clients your marketing partners,” says David Hubbard, president of Exemplar Financial Network. “Make them want to brag about you or at least speak highly of you.” After all, many people choose financial advisors via referrals. Other advice is to get yourself known in the community, such as to CPAs and attorneys. In addition, you might want to offer pro bono services to local charities.

Continue to gain knowledge and expertise: Never stop growing.  Financial advisor Michael Kay of Financial Focus tells the magazine: “We are all works in process,” he says, “and therefore, if we’re not growing, we are moving backwards.” So keep on continuing your education, and to learn as much as you can about your field.

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