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Keebler Kills At Roth Conversion Webinar And Proves Some Advisors Are Nuts

Bob Keebler killed at yesterday’s session of the Financial Advisor Webinar Series. Attendees who filled in our post-webinar survey with ratings and comments on the session raved.

Keebler over the past decade has established himself as the premier educator of financial professionals on IRAs.

While he lacks the showmanship of other IRA experts, Keebler is great at making IRA esoterica understandable. He does not try to make things simple but clearly explains the arcane.

Keebler received the highest rating of any speaker since we started the weekly webinar series in October 2008. With five being the best score, attendees gave the webinar overall a 4.7 rating, and that was dragged down ratings on my performance as moderator. Keebler’s rating, without mine factored in, was an astounding 4.8!

In fairness to all of the other presenters that have come before Keebler, advisors are incredibly critical. No matter what we do on these sessions, some attendees complain.

If we go beyond one hour to take questions, some attendees ream me out in the surveys for letting the sessions go long. If we don’t take many questions because we want to end on time, I get an earful from some attendees about that.

Even Keebler, who was obviously great, got some flak for speaking too fast, and several attendees several attendees actually gave him a rating of 1.

What this demonstrates is that some advisors are really nuts. They complain no matter what you do for them.

On the other hand, more than half of the advisors on the session took the time to fill our post-webinar survey and the vast majority gave us great ratings. And the fact that a small handful of advisors found something to give us poor ratings is not all bad. At least they care enough about what we’re doing to express an opinion.

If you’re a member of
Advisors4Advisors, you can get CFP Continuing Education by viewing a replay of the session. If you’re not a member, you can view it (with no CE credit) at the Advisor Products webinar page.

I’d ask one favor of you: We have plans to automate the attendee ratings from the post-webinar survey to feed the ratings module in A4A, but we’ve not gotten to it yet. If you’re one of the 1,500 members of the A4A community, please take a minute to go to the Events page on A4A and rate the Keebler webinar and any other sessions you’ve attended.

Below are comments attendees gave us on Keebler’s session, in answering the question, “What could we do to improve the webinar?

  • Good topic and good presentation - thanks!

  • Excellent

  • Excellent! Great info!

  • Excellent

  • The content was excellent, but you should have allowed more time & had Bob speak in more depth about various of the issues

  • Don't change a thing.

  • Very informative

  • Excellent. All excellent material that I can use to communicate with clients

  • Thank you

  • This particular webinar was very helpful. However, in other webinars (last week's) this survey form did not populate at the close. Therefore, in order to receive CE credit, I must call in or email advisors4advisors the following week. This has been frustrating since it has happened multiple times. Improvements here would be much appreciated!

  • Great seminar. The best one I have heard on this topic by far.

  • How to market this concept?

  • Very useful. This will be a bigger topic than many advisors realize this year.

  • Liked it, very helpful

  • I think it is really excellent. Perhaps being ab;e to access the slides as soon as the webinar begins would be great it was hard to keep up at times

  • I thought the webinar was great and there's nothing that comes to mind to improve it.

  • Great webinar, extremely useful, looking forward to receiving the two-pager.

  • Excellent!

  • I thought it was very good and put together well. My only issue is that it went by so fast. I will probably have to listen to it again once you get it online.

  • Great information!

  • Awesome. This helped me raise the bar on evaluating CPA quality!

  • Very in-depth discussion. I think the opportunity to print out the front/back handout in advance of the webinar might have helped. It would have been good to be able to read.

  • Very good...Bob is a little fast in delivery.

  • Absolutely, wonderfully informative.

  • Splendid. No suggestions.

  • Wow! May be the most relevant subject and best speaker possible. Excellent info. I have attended many of your webinars the past year and found this one and the Don Phillips webinar last Feb to be the best. Thanks for making this available.

  • This was one of if not the best webinar I have attended on advisors for advisors.

  • Bob did a great job of answering specific questions. He went well beyond the basics which have been outlined many times. Nice work!

  • Great job

  • Honestly....a little hard to keep up but I'll download the presentation....thanks.

  • You might consider posting the handout, in addition to the slides, prior to the start of the webinar. Overall, time well-spent! Thank you.

  • Every time I listen to a presentation on ROTH conversions I pick up new information

  • It was great, a real eye opener on Roth conversions.

  • Great speaker

  • This was the best ever. Bob Keebler was the sharpest, most knowledgeable presenter you have ever had. My head is still swimming.

  • Have Bob speak again-Great Webinar!!!

  • Very informative

  • Great presentation and useful material. More info on case studies will be handy as I visit with clients down the road.

  • Good topic. thanks.

  • Great Seminar. Thanks Andy!

  • I'm a CPA/PFS and not a CFP. Can I get CPE credit for these webinars?

  • One of the best yet, but too many questions..

  • Excellent, thank you for allowing it to run over for questons.

  • Awesome!

  • Very knowledgeable speaker

  • Difficult to cover it all on this topic. Nice job though.

  • I have heard several presentations on htis issue and this was the best in terms of being understandable and detailed at the same time.

  • It was a great overview of all concepts regarding the topic.

  • I thought it was great. One of the best sessions on ROTHs and conversions I've listened to. Bob is very knowledgeable and I'm sure I'll go listen to the replay when questions hit me in the middle of the night! Thanks again!

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Is This New Tool What Life Planning Needs?

Life planning has influenced financial planning enormously over the past decade but it is still in its infancy and not widely embraced by the independent advisory industry. I doubt the new tool I am about to tell you about will change that single-handedly, but it may be a step in the right direction.

While leading financial advisory firms have embraced life planning, the vast majority of financial planners do little or nothing to incorporate the “soft” side of planning in their practices.

For example, George Kinder, a founding father of the life planning movement, and his organization, The Kinder Institute of Life Planning, the leader in the training life planners has trained only about 1,000 of the nation’s 60,000 CFP licensees. Why has this style of planning, which has been embraced by many leaders of the industry, not achieved deeper penetration?

Largely because it takes a significant effort to enter life planning. For instance, Kinder Insitute’s program involves an intense five-day training program and six-month mentorship, which can earn a practitioner a Registered Life Planner designation. Money Quotient, a relative newcomer to training advisors in life planning, offers a three-day training program that incorporates practical tools and processes that can be implemented by its licensees. These programs require a major commitment.

It's difficult to change your business model and invest the time and resources to revamp your practice in even the best of times. Doing so in the wake of the financial crisis is even more difficult.

Now, in a move that is likely to be derided by advisors who have been trained as life planners by one of the established educational programs, let me introduce you to a new life planning solution for advisors who want to dip their toe in life planning without making a huge commitment in time and money.

To read my full article, please join Advisors4Advisors.

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Financial Planning Coalition Gets It Right

The Financial Planning Coalition (FPC) released a statement this morning clarifying its position on the Obama Administration regulatory reform proposal.

The FPC applauded the Obama Administration proposal to require a fiduciary standard of care to brokers, repeating a position first articulated in its release of June 18, the day after the Obama Administration’s white paper on regulatory reform was released. However, the FPC now also expressed concern that the fiduciary standard would be “watered down” by the proposal.

The FPC is a recently created group comprised of the Financial Planning Association, National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and the CFP Board of Standards. Please note that my blog of June 18 swiped at FPC for not mentioning that the fiduciary standard could be watered down by the Obama proposal.

Apart from qualifying its support for the Obama Administration proposal, today’s FPC statement, which I’ve highlighted for quick scanning, clears up an important part of the Obama Administration’s June 17 white paper. The 88-page white paper called for establishment of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) to help protect consumers from bad financial advice. Some observers interpreted this to mean an entirely new regulatory regime would replace the current regulatory framework. Not so.

FPC explained that the CFPA’s jurisdiction “would cover consumer financial products such as credit cards, savings accounts, and mortgages, and possibly insurance, but notably leaving securities transactions and investment advice to the SEC.”

This makes a lot of sense. While coverage in the trade press would have led you to believe that the CFPA was taking over responsibility for regulation and enforcement of advisors, it’s clearly not. Point is, wrangling over regulatory reform is going on behind closed doors and we know little about the structure of what’s to come, much less who the winners and losers will be.

With that qualification, I’ll speculate that our government bodies and existing institutions are likely to be relied on more heavily as reform is implemented. My guess is FINRA will gain power to regulate RIAs advising consumers.

FPC’s effort to prevent the watering down of the fiduciary standard of care for clients is important. If brokers are fiduciaries but can continue to be compensated on commissions, then the fiduciary standard of care has no teeth. And if the U.S. government bans commission compensation of independent financial advisors, as was done last week by Great Britain’s Financial Services Authority, an extremely unlikely reform, then telling the difference between fiduciaries will be difficult.

Clearly, once the fiduciary standard of care is defined under a new regulatory regime, it could be watered down as to be almost meaningless. The reform measures may not make it easier for a consumer to know the difference between an advisor who puts a client’s interest above his own and one who does not.

The FPC’s release today is laudable for pointing this out and for giving advisors tools to speak out. The bottom of the FPC release contains “message points” advisors can borrow to write letters to legislators.

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How Will RIA Regulation Change?

As the number of Ponzi schemes and investment frauds prosecuted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission soared in recent months, so did the odds for change in the way small RIAs are regulated.

You don’t have to be a math genius to understand the calculus. In the last six weeks, the SEC issued press releases about prosecuting 18 fraud cases involving registered investment advisers, hedge funds, and Ponzi schemes. During the same period a year ago, the agency brought just six such cases. It prosecuted one such case during the same period in 2007.

Add to these grim statistics the Obama Administration’s vow to clean up Wall Street, massive mistrust in Wall Street, and the announced intention of the SEC chairwoman Mary Schaprio to “harmonize” RIA and broker regulations. The equation logically leads to one solution: RIAs are likely to be regulated by FINRA.

The coalition announced earlier this year of the Financial Planning Association, National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards is likely too little, too late. The coalition proposes creation of a new regulatory body to regulate financial planners. However, Congress is unlikely to complicate the regulatory framework further by supporting any effort to create yet another regulatory body that is new and has little history of regulating other than the 60,000 or so CFP designees.

I’m not an expert on Washington affairs but a proposal to create a new regulatory body to oversee financial planners would look wasteful, since a statutorily-empowered self-regulatory organization that regulates retail financial advisors already exists. While FINRA’s bureaucracy and history of being dominated by large Wall Street firms is likely to put RIAs in a bad position, it’s hard to imagine any entity other than FINRA taking the reins in regulating RIAs.

So it’s time to start wondering aloud about what it will mean if indeed FINRA becomes the regulator of RIAs. What will the new regulatory regime mean to RIAs and financial planning firms? Here are my guesses:

  • Compliance expenses for RIAs are likely to rise sharply once FINRA is in charge.

  • RIAs will be required to pay some additional fees to FINRA to help defray the cost of a FINRA examination program.

  • Instead of naming a junior-level employee your chief compliance officer (CCO), your CCO may have to pass an exam as is required by FINRA.

  • IA reps will have to pass a competency exam akin to the Series 7.

  • RIAs will be required to submit for review to FINRA client communications touching on certain subjects, such as limited partnerships, recommendations of stocks, mutual funds or derivatives, or that describe your performance history.

What do you think? Let the speculation begin.

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