Displaying items by tag: wealth management

In a blog post, Bill St. Louis, FINRA’s head of enforcement, said that more Reg BI cases are ‘in the pipeline’ and that ‘disciplinary actions have been increasing’. He added that these cases in the pipeline involve Form CSR, excessive trading, complex products, and variable annuities. 

Two recent enforcement actions involved the use of social media influencers for customer acquisition. FINRA fined Cobra Trading $200,000 for paying social media influencers with larger followings to promote the firm. According to the agency, these promotional posts made false claims and were not fair or balanced. Similarly, M1 Finance was fined $850,000 for social media posts made by influencers on the firm’s behalf that violated FINRA’s guidelines. 

Given that a growing share of the public now gets news and information about investments from social media, the agency is conducting regular sweeps. Firms are also required to conduct a consolidated audit trail. According to St. Louis, most firms are in compliance with these reporting obligations, but some audit cases are also in the pipeline. 


Finsum: FINRA is stepping up enforcement of Reg Bi. Two recent enforcement actions were due to firms improperly using social media for promotion.  

Published in Wealth Management

Herbers & Co. conducted a survey of investors with more than $250,000 in assets and advisors to identify whether advisors’ offerings are effectively meeting clients’ needs. Among the findings, the biggest takeaway is that there is some misalignment between advisors and clients in certain areas. 

One change from the survey, compared to previous years, is that 90% of clients said effective tax planning is their highest priority. Previously, clients cited retirement, investment management, and cash flow as top concerns. Currently, only 73% of wealth management firms offer tax planning services. For advisors, it’s an opportunity to offer more comprehensive planning solutions that encompass cash flow, education, estate planning, investments, retirement planning, and tax management. 

Many wealth management firms self-identify as offering comprehensive planning, yet only 31% actually do so. This means planning for a client’s specific needs, such as business planning for business owners. 

The survey also revealed that a portion of clients are interested in alternative investments, including cryptocurrencies. The challenge for advisors is that most firms currently don’t offer advice in these areas. However, they are likely to get questions from clients, especially with the introduction of crypto ETFs backed by asset managers like Blackrock and Fidelity. Advisors should proactively prepare for these conversations. 


Finsum: A survey of clients and wealth management firms found that there are some areas in which advisors can do a better job of understanding and meeting client needs.

Published in Wealth Management
Tuesday, 14 May 2024 10:20

How One RIA Tripled AUM in 4 Years

Summit Financial was founded in 1982 as an independent firm. Over the last 4 years, assets under management grew from $3 billion to over $10 billion as it aggressively recruited talent from wirehouses and other firms. Ed Friedman, the director of business development and growth at Summit, shared some insights on what has driven the firm’s recent success.

The biggest factor is creating a culture that allows advisors to be fiduciaries, grow their own businesses, and have a meaningful stake in the firm’s long-term success. Friedman stresses that clients are ultimately loyal to an advisor and not a company. 

Additionally, advisors at independent firms have more control over their destinies. In contrast, an advisor's fate at a wirehouse or larger institution can be affected by unrelated factors. For instance, many brokers at Merrill Lynch had their equity wiped out in 2008 when it had to be bailed out by Bank of America. Similarly, advisors at First Republic were impacted by the crisis last year, despite the wealth management unit’s strength. 

Friedman also attributes the acceleration in growth to bringing in professional management. This has allowed advisors to focus on clients, prospecting, and financial planning, while other matters such as compliance, backoffice tasks, and administration are handled by the firm. 


Finsum: Summit Financial is more than 40 years old. Yet, the RIA’s growth has exploded in recent years as it has brought in professional management and found success with its independent-hybrid model. 

Published in Wealth Management
Saturday, 11 May 2024 08:06

UBS Affirms Commitment to Wealth Management

There have been constant rumors swirling that UBS intends to sell its US wealth management unit. In part, it’s due to the bank’s North American wealth management unit delivering lower returns than its peers and UBS’ wealth management units in other geographies. 

Another factor is that European regulators are reportedly looking to impose increased capital requirements for banks with foreign subsidiaries. The unit has also been underperforming, with profit declining by 31% in Q1 and its cost-to-income ratio more than 20% above UBS’ other geographies. Advisor headcount also declined from 6,147 to 6,079. 

During UBS’ Q1 earnings report, CEO Sergio Ermotti dismissed reports that a sale was on the horizon despite these challenges. He sees a presence in North American wealth management as integral to UBS’ ambitions of being a global bank, adding that “shrinking back to greatness is not a strategy.”

Instead, UBS plans to keep investing in its North American wealth management business, identifying it as a ‘key… growth market’. It believes that over the next 3 years, UBS can shrink the profitability gap with its competitors. Part of its growth strategy is to more aggressively refer investment banking customers to wealth management. 


Finsum: Despite middling results from its North American wealth management unit, UBS dismissed speculation that the unit could be sold. Instead, it plans to invest in the unit and hopes to narrow the profitability gap with peers over the next 3 years.

Published in Wealth Management

Prudential conducted a survey of 198 financial advisors to gain insight on how they are investing and constructing portfolios for retirees. 80% use separate portfolios that are specifically designed for retirees. Additionally, the use of targeted portfolios was higher among advisors who were more knowledgeable about planning for retirement. 

Another takeaway from the survey is that 50% of retirees prefer to live off of income from their portfolios. Thus, advisors need to ensure that their portfolios generate income for clients while balancing other factors like total return and diversification.

In terms of asset classes for retirement portfolios, advisors favored long-term fixed income, US large-cap stocks, and TIPS. Advisors who were more knowledgeable about retirement planning favored long-term bonds and TIPS to a greater degree than less knowledgeable advisors. 

The survey also showed that most advisors are constructing retirement portfolios themselves or with the assistance of third-party recommendations or allocators. Advisors with less knowledge about the subject were more likely to outsource portfolio construction. 

Most advisors are helping clients plan for retirement by optimizing for goals such as flexibility in spending or timeframe. This is in contrast to other approaches, which include using a bucket strategy or segmenting the portfolio into different strategies for different purposes.


Finsum: Prudential conducted a survey of financial advisors. Those with more knowledge about retirement planning favored long-term bonds and tend to use differentiated strategies.

Published in Wealth Management
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