RIA Best Practices In Using Consumer File Sharing Apps

The ease of use of consumer file sharing apps like Dropbox and Box makes them so convenient, but advisors must be thoughtful about using consumer file-sharing apps in their practice.

Dropbox and Box are best-in-class file sharing apps, but they are not built expressly for investment advisors.

I recently interviewed Chris Winn, founder of AdvisorAssist, a leading operations and compliance consultancy, about use of Dropbox and other consumer file-sharing apps by RIAs and registered reps. I honestly did not know where Winn was going to come out on this issue. His response is important because investment advisors are obliged legally to take care with a client’s personally identifiable information. Liability and regulatory issues are involved, and Winn is an independent expert.

To hear Winn advise against using Dropbox and other file sharing consumer apps with clients in favor of a system like AdvisorVault validated my thoughts in creating a secure client communications portal to meet the specific needs of RIAs.

Informed by Winn's comments, here are a few of the issues advisors must consider as consumer file-sharing apps grow in popularity with consumers:

Compliance-Configuration. Dropbox, Google Docs, and other file sharing apps may have the features necessary to enable a configuration that forces prudent practices by clients. For example, clients sharing documents with you should be forced to create create password at least eight characters in length (preferably 10) and that use at least one non-alphanumeric and one upper-case character. But you must configure consumer apps to enforce such policies.

Internal Versus External. Winn says using Dropbox and other consumer file-sharing apps are okay for use with staff but not with other professionals or clients. If a client is using his own Dropbox account with you, you do not control the security policies of the client or outside professional.

Fast And Easy But Not Carefree. The near-instant access ease of file sharing apps makes it easy to give little thought to security. Yet people are posting personally identifiable data in many places more often.
Supporting Consumer Apps. Advisors who do not create their own dedicated client portal will find that their clients have done so and that it is scattered across the World Wide Web, which means advisors will often find themselves supporting an array of file-sharing apps. Instead of spending quality time with clients, you spend time time supporting clients with tech problems.

One Client Portal. Unless you do it for them, your clients over the next few years are probably going to create their own online vaults. You’ll have lost the opportunity to organize your clients’ personal financial information on your firm’s website.

Winn and I have collaborated together on A4A webinars and other projects for nearly three years, but he never brings up solutions made by Advisor Products and I’ve never asked him to do so. In this instance, however, the growing popularity of online file-sharing apps made the question inevitable and his answer important.
The three-minute video below is actually a short snippet from a longer interview with Winn posted to Advisors4Advisors. Because Winn spoke about Dropbox versus a solution from Advisor Products — AdvisorVault — I removed this portion of the video from A4A and  posted it here because it’s basically an endorsement of AdvisorVault. However, getting an endorsement from an independent  compliance consultant I really respect makes me proud.
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AdvisorVault For iPad

With more advisors and their clients using the iPad to access to the Web, it’s good to know the popular tablet is compatible with AdvisorVault.

With an iPad you touch any folder icon to drill into a folder or touch any document to pop it open.

AdvisorVault's dynamic HTML reports, which work with Schwab PortfolioCenter, Advent Axyx, AssetBook, Orion, Albridge, TD Ameritrade VEO, and other systems, look great on the iPad. Ticker symbols in performance reports can be opened by touching them and you can navigate across the reports.

Clients and collaboration partners, whether they're on an iPad, iPhone, or Android device can view files securely in AdvisorVault.

With clients increasingly using Web-based file storage systems like DropBox, establishing a client financial portal that you can brand and control is wise. It will be compliant, integrated with professional systems, and include the security features needed investment advisors. And it's compatible with the latest mobile devices used by you and your clients.

AdvisorVault For iPad
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Naysayers “Stunned” By Strengthening American Economy, Says Investment Strategist Fritz Meyer

Financial economist Fritz Meyer yesterday showed RIAs evidence that the American economy is showing surprising signs of strength. “The naysayers are stunned,”  Meyer said yesterday in his monthly economic research release.

About 30% of the investment advisors who attended yesterday’s session rated Meyer’s presentation with 4.56 on A4A’s five-star review system.

I've produced more than 200 webinars over the past three years. For any speaker month after month to receive such high ratings from our audience of curmudgeons is unprecedented. Below are all of the comments from advisors who attended yesterday’s session.

You can subscribe to Fritz Meyer’s monthly slide presentations for $300 a year. After hearing Fritz deliver the presentation, you can use the slides to create your own webinars, seminars blog posts, newsletters, Slidecasts, and social media content.(If you are an A4A member, you can replay Fritz’s webinar 24/7 and get CFP CE credit for it for free.)

Using Fritz Meyer’s research as the basis for your own content can be crucial to successful search engine optimization and social networking. By writing a blog, posting a webinar or tweeting about Fritz’s slides, you can personalize and put your own unique spin on economic and investment topics, demonstrating your expertise. And you can target the content to your niches—doctors in Jacksonville, Florida, airline pilots, or other clients that would be “ideal” for you.

However, if you’re too busy to create your own content consistently, Advisor Products provides you with a social media content stream.

Articles we write about the highlights of Fritz’s monthly presentation are posted to your website along with two-minute videos of Fritz making a point. Those timely articles and videos are FINRA-reviewed and can be shown to clients and prospects.  We also write three tweets about each article, and you use our Social Media Dashboard to rewrite the tweets, and personalize to your target market, and distribute the tweets to your social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You can schedule personalized tweets to go out daily for the next month based on our articles or automate the entire process.

You can add our content to any existing website for $1,337 annually, and that includes the social media content stream. If you want AdvisorVault for secure client portals, eight hours of service from our help desk, website archiving, and additional content, it costs $2,337 annually.

In addition to Fritz Meyer’s research about the economy, we are offering the same content services for advisors who need content about tax and estate planning and IRAs for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and ultra-HNWIs, via a partnership Keebler Tax And Wealth Education.


  • Excellent.  Will attend next month.

  • Good info, but lengthy.

  • Overall it was interesting and very worthwhile.  As a non-economist some of it made my head spin (just a little) but the content was something that we think we can use and adapt for our clients.

  • Some problems with the audio.

  • As usual; great data point checks from Fritz; puts economy in perspective

  • Fritz is incredible. Need to listen to again and again.

  • Good insights.  I like that Fritz shook it up a bit from the past few months. For the first time, I noticed some technical difficulties (besides the other voice on the call early on).  The audio froze for a second or two throughout the presentation, usually accompanied by a slight buzzing sound.  I don't think there was an issue on my end, so just an FYI.

  • great info as always; sound quality was a little iffy on this one (but may be an issue on my end)

  • Excellent as always.

  • As always: excellent. Very timely, pertinent and useful.

  • Thanks Andy.

  • Very glitchy this time around. Could just be my system, though.

  • Great timely information as usual!

  • Fritz is always on target and relevant. Thank you!

  • Another solid webinar. Paints an improving short term picture while cognizant of long term obstacles.

  • Excellent content for advisors.  I'm not sure that many clients would be interested in sitting through a one-hour presentation of this type, so it would clearly have to be condensed or, perhaps, broken into several 10 - 15 minute presentations.

  • Would like an expanded global orientation

  • Excellent presentation

  • Really great!  Confirms what we have been advising clients.

  • Very good.  Thank you.

  • My memory says I subscribed at a much higher price.  Can I receive a credit for this?  Thanks.  I will look up proof of purchase if needed.

  • Great update!

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Add Wealth Management Content And A Social Stream To Any Advisor Website

If you already have a website, you can now add Advisor Products articles and videos for high-net-worth individuals to it and get our stream of social media status updates for $1,337 annually, plus a set-up fee of $300.

Many advisors develop a website on WordPress or some other free or inexpensive content management and hosting service.

They do it figuring they don’t need wealth management content on their website or they are planning to create their own articles and videos. They learn that producing website content is not only important to a financial advisor but difficult to produce.

We provide a great solution.  Advisor Products content addresses issues that will help you retain clients and market to prospects. Here’s how:

Panic Protection. After the stock market declines by 10% or more, you receive a special edition of articles and videos. This content reinforces the need to retain a long-term investment perspective in times of market volatility.

Social. Our $1,337 content-only package includes our social media dashboard, which lets you send, edit, and schedule status updates (tweets) to your social networks. Each tweet links back to the full aticle.

Fritz Meyer. Financial economist Fritz Meyer gets rave reviews from investment advisors for his analysis of fundamentals driving investment markets. We write articles monthly explaining the latest trends Meyer is focusing on.

Bob Keebler. Bob Keebler is one of the nation’s leading experts on IRA, estate, and income tax strategies and we write articles monthly to introduce his ideas concisely and simply to clients and prospects.

Videos. Meyer and Keebler provide monthly webinars offering you professional continuing education credit that you can attend for free. We edit their webinars into two-minute highlight clips that accompany our articles.

Automated. Once you are set up to display our content on your website, your website can be automatically updated with new content monthly. (Or you can select your stories monthly.) The social media can also automate sending tweets.

FINRA-Reviewed. All of our articles, tweets, and videos are FINRA-reviewed before they are posted for use on your website. (However, panic protection articles are sent to you via email before review by FINRA for timeliness.)

Setting up your website to include Advisor Products articles and videos is simple. We provide documentation for our application programming interface with example code. A web developer can add our content to any website in two and six hours, depending on your site and developer.

If you want us to host your site, you get AdvisorVault, six hours of service from our help desk, and much more for $2,377 with our AdvisorSites Platinum.
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Retain Clients And Market To Prospects Using The Latest Technology And Content Marketing Techniques

Don’t let the low price fool you. Advisor Products technology and content marketing system is cutting-edge and very powerful, and enables advisors to create a stream of status updates about wealth management that can easily be personalized and shared on social networks.

Our system and our content is different from anything else out there and helps wealth managers retain clients and market to prospects. Here’s how:

Panic Protection. After the stock market declines by 10% or more, you receive a special edition of articles and videos. This content reinforces the need to retain a long-term investment perspective in times of market volatility.

Investment News. Financial economist Fritz Meyer gets rave reviews from investment advisors for his analysis of fundamentals driving investment markets. We provide articles monthly explaining the latest trends Meyer is focusing on.

Wealth Management News. Bob Keebler is one of the nation’s leading experts on IRA, estate, and income tax strategies. Based on his research, we write articles monthly to introduce his ideas concisely and simply to clients and prospects.

Videos. Meyer and Keebler provide monthly webinars offering you professional continuing education credit that you can attend for free. We edit their webinars into two-minute highlight clips that accompany our articles.

Easy. Once you are set up to display our content on your website, your website can be automatically updated with new content monthly. (Or you can select your stories monthly.)

FINRA-Reviewed. All of our articles and videos are FINRA-reviewed before they are posted for use on your website. (However, panic protection articles are sent to you via email before review by FINRA for timeliness.)

Social. You get a social stream about wealth management — status updates that we write and you can edit and share with your social networks — that link back to articles and videos on your website.

All of the features described here -- plus a lot more -- are are part of AdvisorSites Platinum, which costs $2,337 and includes AdvisorVault.

I’m hosting a webinar Thursday, March 8 at 4 p.m. ET to explain how wealth managers can use our innovative system for content marketing and secure client communications.


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AdvisorVault Desktop Connector In General Release

AdvisorVault Desktop Connector has moved to general release. Advisors and support staff at the 750 firms using AdvisorVault for secure client communications are invited to download the app.

Download AdvisorVault Desktop ConnectorTo download AdvisorVault Desktop Connector, log in to the AdvisorSitesBackOffice and click on the “Get Desktop Connector” button on the left-side navigation menu.  You’ll find the download link as well as an FAQ and an AVDC manual.

AdvisorVault Desktop Connector puts all of your client vaults on your desktop in a familiar Windows Explorer-style interface.  You no longer need to open a browser, log in to AdvisorVault, and browse to client folders to upload documents to a client’s vault, enhancing usability significantly.

AdvisorVault Desktop Connector is similar to desktop apps from web-based document storage apps like DropBox. The big difference is AdvisorVault is created exclusively for financial advisors. It is integrated with popular portfolio management systems used by advisors and contains communication features and workflows advisors need to support communication with clients and collaboration with accountants and attorneys. Plus, it meets security and compliance requirements of major broker-dealers and custodians.

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Advisor Products Partners With Keebler & Associates

Bob Keebler’s explanation and analysis of income and estate tax law and IRA rules is now available to advisors in a monthly slide presentation series for $300 annually.

Advisors can use the slides to create webinars, seminars, blog posts, videos, or other content.

Using the slides as a basis for creating your own content should improve your search engine ranking and social media profile. Plus, you and your team will become more conversant in income and estate tax and IRA rules affecting high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and ultra-HNWIs.

In addition, Keebler's monthly tax presentation series for HNWIs is summarized in articles and videos available on advisor websites with AdvisorSites Platinum, which includes a social media content stream.

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Panic Protection For Investment Advisors

Remember the week of August 8, 2011? It was the week after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. Government. Worries about European sovereign debt added to uncertainty. Stock prices convulsed, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average swung up and down 400-points four days in a row.

Advisor Products during that wild week in August 2011 provided 12 articles to help advisors calm clients. Now we've formalized that service.

Panic Protection combines Advisor Products content with AdvisorVault.

When your clients log in to AdvisorVault, the first page they always see is a list of unread documents, those posted since they last logged in.

During the next market panic, we'll again post panic-protection content. On a day when the market plunges, it will take a few minutes to pick a Panic Protection article and post it to a "Shared" folder. That will go into all of your client vaults. When nervous clients log in to view their accounts, they'll see the unread article first.

Panic Protection is educational content -- articles and videos -- about economic news and trends. Produced by Advisor Products, three articles a month are based on research from financial economist Fritz Meyer.

The content and delivery system ensure your clients are reminded that economic fundamentals drive investments. This educational content will be your ballast amid turbulence.

When the S&P 500 declines by 10%, Advisor Products provides a special edition of articles and videos.

In addition, when stocks  plunge, you can check a log-in report in AdvisorVault to see which clients viewed accounts in TD Ameritrade, PortfolioCenter, Advent Axys, Orion Advisor Services, or AssetBook. You can identity nervous clients and call them.

Panic Protection comes with Advisor Products Platinum, which costs $2,337 annually and includes AdvisorVault, wealth management content, a social media content stream, website archiving and eight hours of service from our website technicians. Call 516 333 0066  x224 for more information.
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Social Media Adoption By RIAs and Broker/Dealers

Investment advisers and independent broker/dealers are adopting social media as I expected they would: B/Ds are using crappy content and automation technology, while the large majority of RIAs mostly ignore social media marketing.

Broker-Dealer Social Media Adoption

The BD executives making the decisions have not themselves used social marketing successfully. Moreover, they are outsourcing to vendors that likewise have no record of success in social marketing.

Broker-dealers re striking enterprise deals with social media vendors for low-cost solutions. Little attention is paid to the quality of the content. Content is treated like a commodity, as if one vendor’s content is no different from another’s.

Broker-dealers made the same mistakes 15 years ago in adopting registered representative websites. They approached it as a compliance- technology issue. The BDs struck deals with vendors with almost no regard for content. To this day, most financial advisor websites read like reference books.

Just as they did in adopting websites 15 years ago, BDs now are ignoring the marketing needs of their advisors as they adopt social media solutions. No effort is being made by BDs to help their advisors differentiate themselves. It’s canned content and a cookie-cutter approach and it will fail.

Seeing the mistakes of the past repeated by broker-dealers does not surprise me. BDs generally have little interest in educating clients because they don’t see how anyone makes money from it. Meanwhile, marketing executives at most independent BDs have little clout in making decisions and business executives as well as compliance executives make the calls on social media adoption by reps, even though neither is truly qualified make these decisions.

Registered Investment Adviser Social Media Adoption

RIAs meanwhile are also behaving as expected. A large majority of RIAs are making no serious effort at social marketing.  RIAs are always very slow to adopt new ideas.

Most investment advisors know social media isn’t a fad but have other ideas about how to spend marketing dollars. Most IA reps laugh at the idea that anyone would give you $1 million to manage after meeting you on LinkedIn.

Perhaps 20% of RIAs have a social media marketing strategy and are executing on it. Maybe 5% of CEOs of private wealth advisory firms would say they have benefited from social media marketing.

Solutions For Social Media Marketing For RIAs And Broker-Dealers

For social media marketing to be effective, private wealth advisors and registered reps must create their own content. Your clients and referral sources need to hear from you.

Investment advisors need content that explains how they size up the investment markets. The content can be articles, videos, webinars, blog posts, slideshows, tweets or some other medium.

The content must be optimized for search engines. It must contain keywords that target clients would use to find you using a search engine. And those keywords must spring from your strategic marketing plan.

Creating your own content is not easy, however.

An excellent vehicle that can be the basis for creating content that explains your world-view is financial economist Fritz Meyer's research. Meyer's monthly analysis is contained in 70 PowerPoint slides advisors can utilize in seminars, webinars, and client meetings.

The monthly presentations contain dozens of tables and charts guiding an illustrated analysis of key economic data.

When the stock market drops 10% or more,  special editions are published.

IA reps have an advantage over FINRA-licensed reps  in social marketing because their content approval process is simpler.

Targeted to investment advisors utilizing strategic asset allocation, you can purchase Fritz Meyer's Slide Shows For Advisors for $300 a year.

While there is no replacing your own original content, the Social Media Content Stream For Financial Advisors comes closer than most "canned content" solutions. With the content stream, Advisor Products provides:

  • Article and video content for high-net-worth individuals

  • A dashboard to manage the content on your website

  • Tweets about the linking to your website

  • A dashboard to send or schedule tweets to social networks

Advisors can also get help with executing on strategic marketing plans. If you know who your target clients and if it is a true niche — retirees are not a niche, but retired professors are — Advisor products can write search engine optimized copy for you and write social media profiles and a social marketing campaign content for advisors.


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Intelligent Content Suddenly Matters In An Age Of Social Networking

“Canned content” — that’s how investment advisors often refer to articles Advisor Products posts on advisor websites. In an age of social networking, however, that’s changing.

The content Advisor Products makes available on over 1,100 investment advisor websites is valuable in a social media stream.

If you’ve been too preoccupied with client relations and investment research since 2008 to notice, social networking has become a useful way to communicate with clients and allied professionals. It’s a way for prospects to find out about you.

For example, let's take Bill, the owner of a small company that makes force-measurement gauges. You meet Bill through a friend.

Before giving you money to manage, Bill naturally would like to get to know you.

How can he do that?

The best way is to connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

Social networking makes it easy for Bill to stay in touch, but it’s impersonal enough so that Bill won’t feel obligated to hire you or even respond to you. It’s safe socially.

One day two or three years from now, Bill gets an offer to sell his company. Bill needs professional advice.

The content you've been posting on LinkedIn about succession planning for business owners suddenly matters.

Social Media Content Stream For Financial Advisors, a new solution from Advisor Products, uses videos and articles created by Advisor Products and posted to your website as the basis for a social media content stream about wealth management.

Advisor Products writes 12 articles a month that you can post to your website and three tweets about each article. We make that accessible in the AdvisorSites BackOffice.

You can copy any tweet from the BackOffice and send it out to your connections, linking them back your your website.  (In March, we’re launching a dashboard to automate and schedule the tweets.)

Keep in mind, content written by Advisor Products won’t replace your own original tweets. Nothing replaces your ideas, your voice.

However, since creating content about wealth management is time consuming, it’s nice to be able to rely on the Social Media Content Stream For Advisors to augment content that you create.

I’ve written about wealth management for 29 years. I quit consumer journalism and founded Advisor Products in 1996, and I’ve been leading our effort to produce news about wealth management since then. Calling what Advisor Products content “canned” has bugged me for many years. But I’m feeling pretty good about the way things have changed.

Suddenly, the content Advisor Products produces about wealth management is valuable to advisors serving high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and ultra-HNWIs. Suddenly, intelligent content about best practices in wealth management for HNWIs is important.
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