It’s an opportune time for younger financial advisors. Many older advisors are nearing retirement, and we are on the precipice of a generational wealth transfer from baby boomers to millennials. However, this doesn’t negate the significant challenges and obstacles faced by new advisors, given their high failure rates. Here are three tips from established advisors to increase the odds of success.

According to Timothy Smith, the founder and CEO of Aurora Private Wealth, rookie advisors need to get used to rejection. He believes that advisors need to develop intangible qualities like perseverance, determination, and discipline in order to successfully build a practice. Further, advisors should have a genuine desire to help people feel in control of their financial lives.

Tammy Haygood, a private wealth advisor at RBC, is an advocate for not using jargon and believes that advisors should be able to explain concepts in clear and simple language. This can only be achieved by having a comprehensive understanding of the material and concepts. She also insists that authenticity is key in order to build trust and form long-term relationships with clients.

Nate Lenz, the co-founder and CEO of Concurrent, believes that younger advisors should seek out mentors. He sees financial advice as an ‘apprenticeship’ business. With the right mentor, advisors can quickly become competent and knowledgeable in multiple areas, such as planning, investments, closing deals, and client service. In this vein, he strongly believes that younger advisors should prioritize experience over other factors like compensation.


Finsum: There’s a lot of difficulty and struggle for advisors at the beginning of their careers. Here are some tips from established, successful advisors on how rookie advisors can maximize their chances of success. 

Morgan Stanley expanded its ETF lineup with the introduction of the Eaton Vance Total Return Bond ETF (EVTR) and the Eaton Vance Short Duration Municipal Income ETF (EVSM). The bank is joining many of its peers in converting fixed income mutual funds into active fixed income ETFs. 

EVTR focuses on seeking total return through diversified investments in fixed-income securities, including corporate, municipal, U.S. government, and asset-backed securities. EVTR is actively managed and has an expense ratio of 0.32%. Its holdings have an average duration of 6.5 years and an average yield of 4.4%. 

EVSM aims to provide investors with tax-exempt current income by predominantly investing in municipal securities with a short-term focus. The fund has a net expense ratio of 0.19%. The average duration of its holdings is 1.75 years, with an average yield of 4.7%.  

Both funds were originally highly ranked mutual funds, with EVTR's predecessor, MSIFT Core Plus Fixed Income Portfolio, achieving a ten-year track record in the top decile, and EVSM's precursor, the MSIFT Short Duration Municipal Income Portfolio, ranking in the top third of its category over five years.

With these additions, Morgan Stanley now offers 14 ETFs in the U.S. and has more than $1 billion in total assets, despite introducing its first ETF early last year. Like many other asset managers, Morgan Stanley is looking to capitalize on increased demand for ETFs and active fixed-income strategies. 


Finsum: Morgan Stanley is joining many of its peers in converting mutual funds into active ETFs with the launch of the Eaton Vance Total Return Bond ETF and the Eaton Vance Short Duration Municipal Income ETF.

Nearly $68 trillion in assets are moving to a younger generations over the next 30 years, wealth management firms catering to high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) are urged to adapt by integrating digital solutions to complement their bespoke services, rather than replacing them outright. 

 

HNWIs, distinguished by their substantial asset portfolios, require a tailored approach from wealth managers, particularly given their demand for nuanced portfolio guidance across various asset classes, such as real estate and cryptocurrency. While digital tools are reshaping consumer expectations within financial services, HNWIs continue to prioritize the personal touch and customized service that comprehends their unique preferences and financial complexities. 

 

However, there exists a gap in consistently delivering such personalized service, with over half of surveyed HNWIs reporting a lack of proactive support from their providers. Despite the surge in digital engagement during the pandemic, HNW clients still value personalized experiences, indicating a need for wealth managers to strike a balance between digital convenience and maintaining a human touch.


Finsum: Most clients want a mix of digital and personal service which advisors can use to leverage further business. 

The last 40 years have been defined by lower inflation, creating a generous tailwind for fixed income. Now, AllianceBernstein believes that we are in the midst of a transition to a new regime that will feature lower growth and higher inflation. In this environment, the firm believes that fixed income investors need to make appropriate adjustments. 

It believes that inflation will be structurally higher in the coming decades due to deglobalization and demographics. Deglobalization means that supply chains will be reshored, undoing some of the deflationary trends of the last 40 years, and it will result in higher inflation due to greater manufacturing costs and wages. With an aging population, there is a smaller pool of available workers, which will also contribute to inflationary pressures. Both deglobalization and demographic trends will weigh on economic growth as well. 

Due to these factors, AllianceBernstein forecasts that 2% inflation is now the lower bound rather than a target. It believes that frequent spikes in inflation, as experienced from 2021 to 2022, will also become commonplace. This is a consequence of governments with large amounts of debt and future liabilities. Policymakers will be incentivized to ‘inflate’ away the debt rather than make painful cuts to spending. Additionally, lower rates will help contain financing costs.


Finsum: The last 40 years were great for fixed income due to inflation trending lower along with interest rates. AllianceBernstein believes this era is over, and we are moving into a new period defined by lower growth and higher inflation.

 

In today's interest rate climate, holding a significant cash reserve is a prudent strategy. While long-term investors may benefit from stock investments, individuals requiring immediate access to funds or building emergency savings find value in holding cash. With high-yield savings accounts offering rates of 5% or more, real returns on cash savings are attractive. However, for those seeking to optimize returns while maintaining liquidity, there are two fixed income ETFs that offer advantages. 

Two ETFs, iShares 0-3 Month Treasury Bond ETF (SGOV) and JPMorgan Ultra-Short Municipal Income ETF (JMST), offer different tax strategies to potentially enhance after-tax returns without significant additional risk.

Short-term Treasury bonds provide state tax exemption on interest earnings, making them appealing for residents of high-tax states, while municipal bonds offer federal tax exemption and may also be exempt from state and local taxes. Investors should assess the trade-offs between tax advantages and lower yields to determine the best fit for their financial situation.


Finsum; When accounting for tax advantages, fixed income ETFs could provide a more secure and efficient outlet for mitigating risk. 

Investors grappling with market uncertainty are exploring ways to manage risk effectively while staying invested; utilizing buffer strategies, which employ options to provide targeted downside protection, offers a solution by mitigating losses during market downturns while limiting upside potential.

 

 Accessing buffer strategies through ETFs simplifies the process, avoiding the complexities of managing options directly or the expense of structured notes. Buffer ETFs, managed by experienced professionals and offering intraday liquidity at a low expense ratio, present an accessible option for investors. 

 

Designed for long-term strategic allocation, these ETFs can be utilized by investors looking to reduce equity drawdown risk, seeking moderate growth, or exploring outcome-oriented strategies within their portfolios, thereby providing a flexible approach to risk management in uncertain markets.


Finsum: Buffer strategies seem to make the most sense when there is overall upside but potential for volatility, similar to our current macro landscape.

 

Commonwealth Financial Network has forged a strategic alliance with Succession Link, a specialized fintech platform focusing on M&A and succession planning, to revolutionize practice management. Through the integration of Succession Link's bespoke solution, advisors can now seamlessly identify compatible continuity and succession partners. 

 

The imperative for advisor succession planning is underscored by Cerulli Associates, forecasting the retirement of 100,000 advisors overseeing $10 trillion in client assets within the next decade.

 

Commonwealth's consolidated platform not only streamlines access to practices for sale but also furnishes advisors with valuation tools, fostering succession planning activity. Succession Link's suite of features, including compatibility scoring and advanced messaging functionalities, aligns with the overarching goal of empowering financial professionals to navigate succession challenges adeptly.


Finsum: Technology tools will be changing the game in advisor recruiting as demographic shifts begin to hit the industry.

 

Bonds and stocks were higher following the Federal Reserve’s decision to hold interest rates steady. The rally was a result of Fed Chair Powell reaffirming that rate cuts were still on track for later this year. He also added that the ‘policy rate is likely at its peak’. 

The dot-plot also showed that FOMC members are forecasting 3 rate cuts by the end of the year, which is in line with the market’s consensus and a reduction from their previous forecast of 4 rate cuts. Committee members also upped their forecast for GDP growth to 2.1% from 1.4%, while modestly lowering their forecast for the unemployment rate to below 4%. 

According to Fed futures, there is a 75% chance that the first rate cut will be at the June meeting. However, the larger message from Powell is that the Fed can afford to be patient given that the economy remains in a healthy place despite restrictive monetary conditions. 

Another catalyst for equities and fixed income was Powell’s comments on the balance sheet runoff. So far, the Fed has reduced its balance sheet by about $1.4 trillion since June 2022 by letting proceeds from maturing Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities roll off the balance sheet instead of being reinvested. Powell indicated that this round of quantitative tightening was nearing an end and that discussions were ongoing about when it would be ‘appropriate to slow the pace of the runoff fairly soon’.


Finsum: Stocks and bonds were higher following the Fed’s decision to hold rates steady. Two particular catalysts were Chair Powell’s affirmation that the Fed’s next move would be to cut rates and comments about slowing the pace of quantitative tightening.  

Apollo Global Management Inc. has launched a new private credit fund, initially offering no fees for the first year and halving fees for the subsequent year, with investments coming from Mubadala Investment Co. and other institutional investors. 

 

Structured as a business development company, it diverges from the norm by providing fee breaks, unlike many similar vehicles catering to retail and high net worth investors. Contributions from Mubadala and Apollo's affiliate amount to over $290 million, while the fund's assets total over $790 million, predominantly acquired through leverage. 

 

Named Middle Market Apollo Institutional Private Lending, the fund is an extension of the collaboration between Apollo and Mubadala, established in 2020, focusing on investments in US middle market companies, with a target allocation of 70% to 80% in loans. The fund's filing also stipulates a provision where Apollo would redistribute cash from sales or loan repayments to investors if it fails to double its investment commitments to $900 million within five years.


Finsum: Private credit could provide an uncorrelated return as macro uncertainty permeates markets.

Bond yields modestly rose following the February consumer price index (CPI) report which came in slightly hotter than expected. Overall, it confirms the status quo of the Fed continuing to hold rates ‘higher for longer’. Yields on the 10-year Treasury rose by 5.1 basis points to close at 4.16%, while the 2-Year note yield was up 5 basis points to close at 4.58%. 

 

The report showed that the CPI rose by 0.4% on a monthly basis and 3.2% annually. Economists were looking for a 0.4% monthly increase and 3.1% annual. While the headline figure was mostly in-line with expectations, Core CPI was hotter than expected at 3.8% vs 3.6% and 0.4% vs 0.3%. The largest contributors were energy which was up 2.6% and shelter at 0.4% which comprised 60% of the gain.

 

Based on recent comments by Chair Powell and other FOMC members, the Fed is unlikely to begin cutting unless inflation resumes dropping or there are signs of the labor market starting to crack. Current probabilities indicate that the Federal Reserve is likely to hold rates steady at the upcoming FOMC meeting, especially with no major economic data expected that could shift their thinking. 


 

Finsum: The February jobs report resulted in a slight rally for bonds as it increased the odds of a rate cut in June. Most strength was concentrated on the short-end of the curve.

 

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