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The SEC’s proposed rule requiring registered investment advisers to demonstrate a high standard of due diligence and oversight when selecting and retaining third-party providers for certain tasks, such as investment management, has not been finalized. Yet, it offers RIAs a glimpse into the future compliance landscape, one that many may not have anticipated.


RIAs may delegate investment management to external firms for various reasons, such as freeing time to focus on client relationships, improving portfolio quality, or reducing internal operational tasks.


And while the new rule may appear to be an additional burden, it has a silver lining. RIAs that meticulously select top-tier firms for outsourcing and transparently communicate their rigorous due diligence and oversight procedures to their clientele can use this as a demonstration to their clients of their high standard of care.


Even though all such firms will be held to these same standards, how an RIA firm communicates its process to its clients can be a differentiator. Rather than viewing this solely as a regulatory hurdle, RIAs can capitalize on compliance with the new rule as a means to strengthen client trust.

Finsum: Discover how the SEC's proposed “know your third-party” rule can be a unique opportunity for RIAs to enhance client trust.


The era of employee-funded retirement began decades ago with the rise of 401(k) plans. Ever since, employers and service providers have been looking for ways to increase participant savings rates within these plans. Research conducted by Empower sheds light on a key to making this happen.


The study found that "engaged 401(k) plan participants are saving at significantly higher rates than that of unengaged participants, demonstrating that getting people involved in their retirement planning is a key component of driving better outcomes."


One way to engage participants is to provide them with access to in-person advice. Yet, not all plan advisors are equipped to deliver advice to all the participants within the plans they advise. Here's where fiduciary support from the plan's recordkeeper can be invaluable.


While partnering with recordkeepers capable of participant-level advice, plan advisors can selectively choose which participants for whom they are best suited to provide advice. The recordkeeper's advice program is an ideal solution for the remaining participants – usually those with smaller account balances or less complex questions.


Fiduciary services such as participant advice are integral to engaging participants, boosting savings rates, and helping them invest wisely. By partnering with the right recordkeepers, plan advisors can enhance the quality and efficiency of these services, benefiting all involved parties.


Finsum: An Empower study shows that engaged 401(k) plan participants save at a higher rate than unengaged participants underscoring the importance of finding ways to get involved in their retirement planning.


According to a study of retirement accounts by Fidelity, most older Americans are too heavily invested in the stock market. This is a potential risk especially in the event of a market downturn. 


One posssible solution is for investors to increase their allocation to fixed indexed annuities. These are annuities that guarantee the principal but offer more growth potential than traditional fixed-rate annuities. They are best suited for investors with a time horizon of longer than 5 years. They are less risky than equities but offer higher returns than most types of annuities.


Fixed indexed annuities follow a market index such as the S&P 500 or Dow Jones Industrial Average and interest is deposited based on annual gains of the underlying index. However when the index declines, there is no loss of principal or of previously accrued interest. 


Of course, there is no free lunch. The drawback is that most fixed indexed annuities have some sort of formula which limits the amount of gains that are captured. There is also a maximum rate of interest which limits the amount of total gains that can be captured. For instance, some have a maximum rate of interest of 12% which means that the annuity would only see a gain of 12% even if the underlying index was up 20%.  

Finsum: Fixed indexed annuities are one potential way that older investors can reduce portfolio risk and boost diversification. 


Blackrock is one of the leading providers of model portfolios. Currently, the asset manager is overweight megacap tech stocks. It sees strong earnings momentum and growth upside in addition to resilient balance sheets. These companies are more insulated from high rates as they aren’t reliant on bond markets for financing. 


The stock market rally in 2023 has been defined by a handful of stocks, powering the indexes higher. In contrast, smaller stocks and the broader market have struggled. Many analysts have cited this divergence as one reason to question the durability of recent stock market gains. 


YTD, the Nasdaq 100 is nearly 40% higher due to strong gains from companies like Nvidia, Meta, and Tesla. In contrast, the S&P 500 is up 14%. Currently, Blackrock’s model portfolios have about $100 billion tracking these stocks. This is particularly significant as the entire model portfolio asset base is estimated to be $4.2 billion. 


According to Tushar Yadava, a strategist with Blackrock’s Multi-Asset Strategies & Solutions group, Blackrock has been mostly overweight equities this year, although the firm did briefly go underweight in the spring of this year, following the regional banking crisis. Earlier in the year, it anticipated that the stock market rally would eventually broaden out, but this hasn’t happened yet.

Finsum: Blackrock is overweight megacap tech in its model portfolios as it favors companies with earnings momentum and strong balance sheets. 


Wednesday, 08 November 2023 16:06

Challenges for Rookie Financial Advisors

New financial advisors face some daunting challenges such as learning the industry, getting their licenses, and building a book of business. Last year, headcount in the industry only grew by 2,579 advisors with a failure rate of more than 72% for rookie advisors. 


This highlights the succession crisis that is facing the industry. Over the next decade, it’s estimated that 37% of all advisors, representing 39% of total assets, will be retiring. And among this group, 26% have no succession plan in place. While this is a major challenge for the industry, it’s an opportunity for savvy advisors.


For firms, some strategies to improve rookie advisor retention is through a structured training program. Firms will have to invest in developing and retaining their own in-house talent rather than the previous growth model of recruiting advisors from competitors. 


Another constraint for firms looking to boost their recruitment efforts is that currently most new advisor recruiting is through word-of-mouth referrals. However, these types of informal methods will certainly overlook many qualified candidates outside of these networks. Therefore, firms must be more proactive in educating young people about this potential career path. 

Finsum: The financial advisor industry is facing a challenge as many senior advisors are nearing retirement, while recruitment of new advisors has been lacking.


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