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If you are a financial advisor, building your brand is critical to your future, especially if you are an independent advisor, Shirl Penney of OnWallStreet.com says.

So what does it mean to have a brand? Penney describes it as the “embodiment of your reputation, the overall emotive response when clients and prospects hear or see the name of your firm.”

In order to establish your brand, it is recommended that you do a variety of efforts, such as promotional effort s and the use of social media. Penney recommends hiring marketing and PR professionals to get your company’s name out there, and help your brand.

One of the branding efforts you can do is writing articles about topics your current clients, as well as potential clients, may be interested in. You can also participate in interviews in the media that could help promote your brand. And social media and a good web site are also important.

In all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Make sure that your brand is something customers will like.

Written by Lisa Swan



OnWallStreet.com took a look at how much top firms pay their $1 million producers. The businesses generally reward such financial advisors with a combination of cash and deferred awards.

 At No. 11 is Wells Fargo Advisors, with a total of $467,180. $459,680 is part of the cash grid, while $7,500 is deferred compensation.

 No. 10 is Morgan Stanley, with $440,000 in cash, and $40,000 in deferred money, for a total of $480,000.

 Merrill Lynch is No. 9, with $495,000 in compensation. Of that, $430,000 is the cash grid, and $65,000 is deferred.

 At No. 8 is Janney, with $450,000 in the cash grid, and $50,000 in deferred money, for a total of $500,000.

 No. 7 is RBC. Producers there get $501,800 in compensation, with $460,000 in cash grid, and $41,800 in deferred money.

 Ameriprise Financial is No. 6, with a total of $505,000. Of that, $460,000 is cash grid money, and $45,000 is deferred compensation.

 Two companies tie for No. 4 with $510,000 in compensation – Wedbush, with $500,000 in cash and $10,000 in deferred money, and Stifel, with $470,000 in cash, and $40,000 in deferred money.

 At No. 3 is Hilliard Lyons, at $512,750. Of that money, $467,750 is cash, and $45,000 is deferred compensation.

 No. 2 is Raymond James, with $522,500 in money. Of that, $455,000 is cash grid money, and $67,500 is deferred funds.

 At the top of the list is UBS, with $526,750 in compensation. That breaks down to $437,500 for the cash grid, and $89,250 in deferred money for the No. 1 company.

Written by Lisa Swan


Some sports fans laughed when controversial former NFL Terrell (T.O.) Owens recently said he was broke. But it turns out it wasn’t all his fault. OnWallStreet.com reports that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has banned Jeffrey Rubin, Owens’ financial advisor, from working in the securities industry anymore.

Owens and at least 30 other NFL players invested in an “Alabama casino project that went bankrupt,” the news site reports. This dubious deal lost $40 million of the players’ money, and Owens sued Rubin earlier in the year. Michael Simon, T.O.’s attorney, said that Rubin failed to tell Owens that the electronic bingo machines that were to be used at the casino were illegal in the state. “It should have never been promoted to any NFL player or any investor,” he said. “It was illegal.”

FINRA said that one of the advisor’s clients lost $3 million on it, although the agency did not specifically say who had invested in it. But OnWallStreet.com says that Jevon Kearse, the ex-Philadelphia Eagles player known as “The Freak,” also invested in the project.

“This case demonstrates how broker misconduct can target high-income, inexperienced, and vulnerable investors,” Brad Bennett, who serves as FINRA’s enforcement chief, said in a statement on the issue. “Jeffrey Rubin took advantage of professional athletes who placed their trust in him.”

The article says that Rubin has agreed to the securities ban, but has not admitted to the allegations.

Written by Lisa Swan


According to a new survey, millionaires’ confidence in the economy dropped considerably in February. OnWallStreet.com reports that the Spectrem Group, a research firm, revealed that millionaires who had $1 million or more in investable assets had their investment outlook drop 10 points in February, reaching the number 1, according to the Spectrem Affluent Investor Confidence Index. Those with $500,000 or more in investable assets dropped their investment outlook three points, going down to -7.

George Walper, Jr., president of the company, said that “The level of Millionaire investors who indicated they planned to stay on the sidelines and not invest was at its highest since September 2011.”

The company conducts 250 interviews a month “with financial decision-makers who have more than $500,000 of investable assets,” OnWallStreet.com says. The interviews range from bullish to neutral to bearish. A rating of 11 to 51 is bullish, 10 to -10 neutral, and -11 to -51 bearish.

OnWallStreet.com says that what investors expected their household income to be in the future dropped to -9.51, the lowest in nearly four years. Faith in the economy also dropped, to -6.95.

Written by Lisa Swan


How do you give financial advice to clients that deals with their emotions, and not just dollars and cents? OnWallStreet.com has some advice on how to do so, by using a Buddhist technique.

Kathleen Burns Kingsbury writes for the publication that The Wise Mind Theory explains that humans have two ways of thinking – “rational thought and emotional thought.”  She notes that rational thought is based on the intellect, while emotional thought is based on feelings. “The intersection of the two is called the Wise Mind,” she notes.

The idea behind the theory is that the best decisions are made when both ways of thinking are taken into account.  Kingsbury recommends that you tap into it with your clients this way:

“Draw two large, overlapping circles on a blank piece of paper,” she says. Name one “emotional mind” and the other “rational mind.”  Color the area that intersects with the circles and call it the Wise Mind. Then explain the Wise Mind theory to your clients, and ask them to explain their financial thinking, and how they would classify their thoughts.

Finally, come up with an analysis using this Wise Mind theory. “Ask how her current thinking
helps her deal with her financial dilemma and how it impedes her,” Kingsbury says, and then “ask your client what would need to change to tap into her Wise Mind.”  After doing so, they should be thinking more clearly.

Written by Lisa Swan


What makes a great team? Ken Haman looks into the subject for OnWallStreet.com.

He says that many business use personality tests and assessments to see whether possible team members will fit in with the rest of the group. However, the executive says that he disagrees with the assumption that team harmony is needed for team success, and that such harmony is built by having people with “complementary personality styles.”

He says that conflict actually usually comes from people thinking that there is unfairness in the team, which especially happens when times are tough. Harmony, he says comes from when teams are successful and distribute rewards on a fairer basis. Thus, he writes, “harmony is evidence of a satisfying experience among team members and within the team as a whole,” while “conflict is a symptom of unfairness.”

Haman says that he believes that “harmony doesn’t create success” but that “success tends to create harmony.” He notes that professional athletes are chosen for teams not for the way their personalities mesh with others, but for their skills. “The quarterback doesn’t care if the wide receiver is an introvert or an extrovert;” he says. “He just cares that the receiver can catch the ball.”

Instead, Haman recommends that executives find people who have the right skills for their team, instead of focusing on the personalities. This involves coming up with a business plan that works, defining what skills are needed, finding the staff that has those skills, and tracking how people fulfill the goals for the team.

Written by Lisa Swan


President Barack Obama recently named former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. OnWallStreet.com takes a look as what the appointment means for financial advisors, especially how this will affect the reported establishment of a “uniform fiduciary standard for advisors and broker-dealers.”

White recently said that she plans on continuing to do what ex-SEC head Mary Schapiro did. That includes implementing that uniform fiduciary standard, which is required under the Dodd-Frank Congressional financial reform legislation.

Schapiro wanted to expand the present fiduciary standard, which means that advisors must recommend things which are in the best interest of their customers, to cover broker-dealers. With Schapiro’s resignation from the commission, the agency is currently deadlocked along partisan lines regarding expanding it, but White’s confirmation would add a vote to allow expansion of the standard.

When announcing the nomination, President Obama praised White’s experience. “Over a decade as a U.S. attorney in New York, she helped prosecute white-collar criminals and money launderers,” he noted, as well as prosecuting John Gotti and those who bombed the World Trade Center in 2003.

White said that if she is confirmed, she looks forward “to committing all of my energies to working with” the SEC “to fulfill the agency’s mission to protect investors and to ensure the strength efficiency and the transparency of our capital markets.”

Written by Lisa Swan


Did you know that there are some words you may use with clients when talking about retirement planning that are a turnoff? OnWallStreet.com explains the words you should never use.

The business site covered a media roundtable last week, where Timothy Noonan of Russell Investments, whose company did a study of advisor markets, explained which phrases will get a negative reaction from your customers.

Noonan said to never use the phrases “financial planning” or “retirement income.” That’s because some think that “retirement income” means that they are going to get a sales pitch for some sort of insurance product. They also may be reminded of their own retirement “sins,” like not saving enough for it. In addition, “financial planning” is a phrase that comes across as boring, Noonan says.

So what phrase should be used instead? He suggests “lifestyle design.” Noonan told the gathering that “if you want a get a disengaged person to re-engage maybe you should try talking to them about what you can do to help them design a lifestyle that’s sustainable.”

Written by Lisa Swan


While the stock market did recently rise after Washington politicians made a fiscal cliff deal, financial advisors tell OnWallStreet.com that there are still some big concerns about taxes and government spending, and clients are a little “frustrated” right now.

Seth Kaplan, who is a vice president with Baird’s, says “I work with a lot of business owners and a lot them are just kind of feeling like that government keeps getting deeper and deeper in their back pocket.” He also said that there are “still a lot of questions and/or unknowns for how the ultimate fiscal cliff issue will settle out.”  Tim Steffen of Baird’s said some fear that there could be some additional tax increases in the future.

Ken Meyers of Baird notes that those couples making $450,000 a year or more and singles making over $400,000 a year now face 39.6% federal taxes. He says that such high-income clients are going to delay hiring for their companies and may slow down spending due to the issue.

Kaplan said that his own clients are “frustrated” not by having to pay more taxes per se, but that they “don’t think this is will make a difference to address fundamental issues,” due to government spending still increasing.  Steffen noted that additional tax increases are “clearly on the President’s agenda.”

In all, Kaplan says that despite the fiscal cliff deal, “I still get this feeling from a lot of my clients that people are still waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Written by Lisa Swan