Monday, November 21, 2016

THE DOL FIDUCIARY RULE IS HERE TO STAY. SO SAYS RIXTREMA’S DANIEL SATCHKOV. HERE’S WHY.



On November 11, 2016, just three days after the shock of the U.S. Presidential Election results were settling in, I had the opportunity to discuss with Daniel Satchkov, president of RiXtrema, the future of the DOL fiduciary rule and possible outcomes for the financial services industry. Click here to listen to the audio conversation.

A transcript of the interview is posted below.

MARIE SWIFT: Hello and welcome to Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry. This is your host, Marie Swift. I'm joined today by Daniel Satchkov. Daniel is the President of RiXtrema, a company that is known for providing DOL fiduciary software solutions to the financial services world. Daniel, welcome.

DANIEL SATCHKOV: Thank you, Marie.

SWIFT: Here we are three days after the Presidential election and all the things that are happening in the US. There is a lot of speculation about the DOL fiduciary rule. What do you think the election means for the DOL fiduciary rule?

Daniel Satchkov of RiXtremaSATCHKOV: That's a $100 million dollar question actually. Probably a few billion dollar question because so much spending has already been done around the rule and obviously we all know that one of Trump’s advisors, I don't know if he has an official role of an advisor, but the Head of SkyBridge Capital, Anthony Scaramucci, has stated he "hopes" that Trump will repeal or remove that rule completely. If you do a Google search you find a lot of articles on the fact that the DOL rule is likely going to be gutted or totally finished under the Trump administration. Now my opinion, and this is actually very close to a very good column that was written by Bob Powell, I think it was on MarketWatch.com, I do not think that the DOL fiduciary rule is finished under President Trump. There are many reasons.

[Click here to read Robert Powell’s excellent article on MarketWatch: The Fiduciary Rule Won't Change Under President Trump]

First, Trump himself has never stated any opposition to the DOL fiduciary rule. He talked about Obamacare a lot. But he hasn't talked about the DOL fiduciary rule and in fact today he announced his plan for his first 100 days the office – his first priorities. Among those priorities we see building “the wall” that he talked about during the campaign; we see repealing Dodd-Frank which I didn't think would be one of his top priorities right off the bat, but apparently it is. Apparently he's going to repeal Dodd-Frank. This is really important. There is no mention of the DOL rule right there and the DOL rule is actually a law. It's been a law since June of 2016, and I believe and it fully goes into effect April 2017. There is not enough time to stop it from going to effect. Does Trump really want to spend his political capital to remove that law when he is trying to do so many other things such as removing Obamacare and repealing Dodd-Frank? I really don't think he can fight all of those battles. And on top of that, he's positioned himself as defender of the little guy, whether it's true or not, and for him to take so many steps that are favorable to the large banks and large Wall Street institutions in the eyes of his voters, well, I think it would be suicide to repeal Dodd-Frank and at the same time kill or gut DOL fiduciary rule. I'm more inclined to believe what Bob Powell wrote, that he may use it as a bargaining chip, but it doesn't look at all like that's one of his main targets.

CHALLENGES IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY

SWIFT: These are very challenging times for the financial services industry. We had a lot of challenges before the Trump election and the leadership changes in Congress. So, how are you seeing things from where you sit at RiXtrema? I know you've been an observer and a participant in the industry for a long time. How do these challenges land for you?

SATCHKOV: Well I think one of the biggest challenges, if not the biggest of the whole industry, is trust. This trust was undermined following the 2008 crisis and it really hasn't returned. I think the DOL fiduciary rule is actually a net-positive for the industry. In general I myself am against regulation. I think it has to be proven to be necessary. But in this case, the DOL fiduciary rule actually helps the financial sector by establishing more trust. I think this trust starts with transparent communication. That is a huge issue in the industry. How do we communicate the fees to investors? How do we communicate how they actually get charged? Right now, it is very confusing for consumers. The types of disclosures they get – and the type of advice they get – can be very conflicted, very confusing, and ultimately quite unfair.

We just did a major research study where RiXtrema studied 9,000 retirement plans in the US. We actually took their holdings and ran some sophisticated quantitative models to see if those plan line ups were too expensive. We can use quantitative models to actually create a similarly line up from less expensive funds. What we found is just basic algorithms and basic transparency only the retirement plan industry, I'm not talking about IRAs, that part of the industry could save well in excess $12 billion per year for retirees.

The fact is, there so much money wasted in the industry – this means that there is not enough transparency in what is really going on. I think that's the main issue facing the financial sector and firms individually. I think the DOL rule actually helps in that regard. It sets the standard for transparency. It sets some fairly straight-forward rules for disclosing fees, for disclosing conflicts of interest within the best interest contract exemption, and so on and so forth.

In my worldview, the DOL rule is not a problem for the sector. The problem is lack of trust and unclear communication and the DOL rule is kind of an attempt to solve that.

SWIFT: So how can advisors and financial services firms address this problem? How do they build that trust and transparency?

SATCHKOV: I think in today's day-and-age, it all starts with technology – and technology has gotten less and less expensive. So without spending huge amounts of money, firms should think about how they present their data. The time of long winded confusing disclosures are gone. Now it's like a prisoner’s dilemma. Nobody is going to do it first because it's now profitable to do it but because of the fiduciary rule. I think it's a great push in that direction to bring everyone to a level playing field and start disclosing things in a clear matter. It lays the groundwork. And a lot of technology firms, ours included, are working to provide solutions. We at RiXtrema actually have a solution that has been already used by investors – it provides simple and clear reporting, something highly visual, something that isn't confusing, that doesn't have a lot of text or a lot of data tables. Our solution presents something that is like an app, something that people can read and understand about what they are actually spending in their retirement accounts.

This is what advisors and financial services firms should be doing around the DOL rule. It's documenting the client's best interest – that's a requirement in any rollover situation. The requirements for disclosure in the 401(k) space should be improved but ultimately with the DOL fiduciary rule it requires the firm document the best interest of the investor under a rollover. It also requires advisors to stick to reasonable fees. What does “reasonable” mean? Advisors or financial institutions should really think about data and benchmarking. We live in an age of big data. So you can gather large data sets and compare yourself to others and have adequate benchmarking to show that you are actually doing good things in terms of portfolio construction and that you are charging reasonable fees.

RIXTREMA SOLUTIONS FOR DOL FIDUCIARY RULE

SWIFT: Can you talk a little bit about the solutions that you have created and developed at RiXtrema?

SATCHKOV: We released a tool just over three weeks ago called IRAFiduciaryOptimizer. That tool does a number of things and it's based on some of the quantitatiive methodology we've built for large institutions that we've been doing for years. We build customized stress-testing and risk models, but it also has a lot of new components geared towards this new age of transparency. It satisfies DOL fiduciary rule requirements in that it creates clear, simple, visual reports to document the best interest of the investor in a rollover transaction or in any kind of transaction really. It also uses some of the benchmarking data that we've curated.

We've also used some technology breakthroughs to gather a database of advisory fees based on the Form ADV that advisors file with the SEC. There is something called Part 2 to that Form ADV where there is a lot of textural information. Again, that disclosure is not as good as it should be but we've used some advanced technology to extract the necessary information out of it to help financial institutions and advisors measure the reasonableness of their fees, benchmark, and so on. So beyond documenting client's best interest, the defending reasonable fees are a big aspect of the IRAFiduciaryOptimizer.

The third important thing we are doing is building a solution that is modular and integrated with other types of solutions. That's also a challenge in the industry right now. Technology is developing very quickly but what’s needed are solutions that are modular and open based around API. We built IRAFiduciaryOptimizer with that in mind, and we are working with some large organizations right now to actually embed it in a customized manner into their workflow. Pretty much you can think of these different applications like pieces of a puzzle that you can just put together. The puzzle is in gathering information and data in different ways depending on how you want to put it together – if that makes sense.

RESOURCES FOR THE FIDUCIARY ADVISOR

SWIFT:  It does make sense. I know you are always writing and speaking in the industry and I'm fascinated to know your thoughts on this Daniel. Don't you have some webinars and videos that would be helpful for our listeners? Could you talk a little bit about resources that you offer?

SATCHKOV:  Yes, on our website we have a ton of videos. It's www.Rixtrema.com. We are actually preparing a number of webinars, unfortunately I don't have dates for you today but we hope to release dates soon.

One webinar I’d like to spotlight: We are preparing a webinar with a partnership with a company called Larkspur Data. This is a very important piece of the IRAFiduciaryOptimizer DOL software solution. Larkspur Data has been around for a longtime and they run over a million retirement plans, pretty much every plan in the US. They have fee data and other various data sets that advisors can use when they run reports for investors. Quite frequently investors cannot really get the adequate disclosure from their planned sponsor about the fees that they pay. Now under the DOL fiduciary rule they are supposed to get it. The plan sponsor has that obligation but frequently the disclosure doesn't come.

The DOL recently released an FAQ where they explicitly said if advisors have proven they were trying to get this data and couldn't, then they can use the other types of data from benchmarking or data curated from reporting. So the Larkspur database is a huge value added to our system where advisors, let's say the prospect comes to them from a retirement plan XYZ, if they don't have the fee data through Larkspur already, they can just pull that into our application with just a couple of clicks. So we are going to be doing a webinar on that right after Thanksgiving.

SWIFT: As always Daniel I really appreciate your comments today. Listeners, you can learn more about Daniel and the good work they are doing at RiXtrema at www.RiXtrema.com. Thanks again and have a great day.

SATCHKOV: Thanks for having me, as always, Marie.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Technology, Business Growth and DOL: New Insights from Industry Insightfuls


These three subject matter experts spent some time conversing with me about the challenges and opportunities they see in the financial services profession. It is a real honor to speak with tenured professionals such as Brian Stimpfl, Mark Klein and financial advisor Tony D’Amico, who impressed me with his passion, perspective and purpose. Please take the time to listen to these three audio interviews – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

In this trilogy:
Industry veteran Brian Stimpfl (www.Advisor.Scottrade.com) talks about the digitalization of financial services and what advisors should be thinking about now.

Recovering ERISA attorney Mark Klein (www.TheAdvisorLab.com) tells us how to use the new DOL fiduciary rule to win new business.
Download link | Stream online

Independent financial advisor Tony D’Amico (www.TheFidatoGroup.com) shares how he built his “elite advisory firm” from scratch and what’s next on his roadmap.

Take a few minutes and listen now!

As seen in NAPFA Advisor magazine
September 2016 print edition
 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Three great new audio interviews you won’t want to miss on the Best Practices blog

If you are serious about building a great financial services firm in today’s fast-paced digital environment, listening to these informative conversations can help. I am always looking for the best and brightest people in the profession to share their insights and advice. These three conversations are sure to spark an idea or two.

In this trilogy:

Fintech veteran Rich Cancro (www.Vanare.com) talks about the digital advice revolution and how financial firms can stay relevant, attract new business and become more profitable. Download link | Stream online

Marketing and branding expert Sean Farrow (www.HorizonInvestments.com) tells us how to think about branding and why it is more important than ever for financial advisors to have a good marketing / brand strategy. Download link | Stream online

Software innovator William Meyer (www.IncomeSolver.com) shares how advisors can help their clients get and keep more retirement income through an optimized claiming and withdrawal strategy. Download link | Stream online

Take a few minutes and listen now!

As seen in NAPFA Advisor magazine
June 2016 print edition



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Here’s Why Fiduciary Advisors Should be Cheering the Robbins / Mallouk Announcement

Brooke Southall at RIABiz.com asked me to send him some comments on the “Mallouk mega deal” a couple weeks ago. Brooke’s article published the next day – you can read it here: Tiger By the Tail: What to Make of Peter Mallouk's Deal with Tony Robbins and Where the Unlikely Pairing Might Go from Here.

Here are my comments in their entirety:

I have to admit that at first I scratched my head when I read that Tony Robbins had joined Creative Planning's board of directors and assumed the role of Chief of Investor Psychology at the firm. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense that of course Robbins could leverage his Six Human Needs principles to help advisors do a better job working with their clients.

One of the biggest complaints clients have is they do not feel their financial advisors really listen to or care about them. So any advisor who is fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of Robbin’s training and advice will surely be in a better position to not only attract new clients but to retain the ones they have and, more importantly, move clients from being simply content to being totally enthralled by their client experience.

It was also great to see Peter Mallouk’s post on LinkedIn about the firm’s decision to as of April 1st 2016 start giving 100% of the profits derived from its private client insurance practice, which includes all term and permanent life insurance, disability insurance and long term care insurance, to charity. He acknowledged “the perception and reality of conflict” that has until now existed and said that the firm felt so strongly about removing it that 100% of the profits going will now be going to charities. 

While some in the financial advisory world will throw darts at this partnership (after all, haters will always hate), it is hard to argue with the star power in this constellation.
A quick look at the Creative Planning Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/creativeplanninginc/) reveals a stunning array of recent media attention – Good Morning America, The Today Show, The Street, Bloomberg, and more. Robbins and Mallouk must have had a blast on their New York Media Tour in early April. And you can’t put a price tag on the 13-minute video in which Robbins and Mallouk talk about the Four Deadly Horsemen (https://vimeo.com/160298589) that investors must avoid – that video clip alone is priceless.
The icing on the cake is that Robbin’s new edition of his New York Times best selling book, Money: Master the Game, which was just released in paperback form, features fresh insights from Mallouk. I doubt that it’s a coincidence that the paperback was timed to come out in tandem with the Creative Planning announcement – and it was total synchronicity that the DOL finally signed into law the new fiduciary rule at approximately the same time as the Robbins / Mallouk fiduciary PR blitz.
But here’s the bottom line: The Robbins / Mallouk announcement and public awareness campaign provides benefits for the entire fiduciary advisor community.
While the business benefits for Robbins, Mallouk and Gupta are clearly evident, they appear to be doing it for the right reasons – and all true fiduciaries should be cheering from the sidelines. Better yet, fiduciary advisors everywhere should see this as a great wave to ride.

My advice: Put some extra energy in now to ramp up your consumer education efforts. Amplify your own voice and applaud your fiduciary peers while working to enhance your own unique value proposition.

April is Financial Literacy month and with all the DOL news coverage it’s the perfect time to join the fiduciary chorus.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Insights from Financial Services Consultants You Won't Want to Miss

These three subject matter experts shared some pretty awesome insights and observations with me last month. They all talk about where they see challenges and opportunities within the financial services profession.

Stop what you're doing now and listen to one or more of these audio clips. You'll be glad you did.

Khalid Usmani on marketing your financial advisory services in a noisy digital world Download link | Stream online

Vikas Oswal on managing client emotions and expectations in turbulent investment times Download link | Stream online

Neal Quon
on selecting the right technology and creating a solid spending plan for your financial services firm
Download link | Stream online

As seen in NAPFA Advisor magazine
April 2016 print edition



Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Digitization of Financial Planning - March 1 Webinar with Neal Quon and Abby Schneiderman

Join Everplans co-founder Abby Schneiderman on March 1, 2016 at 4PM EDT as she explores the "digitalization" of financial planning with Neal Quon co-Founder of QuonWarrene. 


This brief and informative discussion will focus on the digitalization of planning and how Everplans can position you to take full advantage of the new paradigm. Abby will demonstrate the ins and outs of Everplans Professional and provide creative ways financial professionals can incorporate the Everplans platform into client relationships.

This live webinar is a perfect opportunity to ask questions and get answers from fintech expert Neal Quon. You'll also get to see a demo of the Everplans Professional platform and get a sneak preview of upcoming features and benefits.

Date:  March 1, 2016 
Time: 4:00 PM EDT 
  • Learn how to bridge the generational gap in planning using technology
  • Learn how to expand your role as a financial pro through comprehensive planning
  • Learn how to manage your clients' planning from a new collaborative perspective
Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how Everplans can help you enhance your practiceRegister today! 

Can't attend the live webinar on March 1? 

  • Watch www.Everplans.com/professional for a link to the recording. Review the other ideas and blog posts while there -- and request a demo if this digital end-of-life planning tool and secure cloud-based platform looks good to you.
  • Watch this Bloomberg News video in which Abby shares insights with the general public about the need to plan now for the digital afterlife.  
Click to watch video now


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Three Awesome Audio Interviews with Industry Innovators

These three subject matter experts were kind enough to spend some time educating me on where they see challenges and opportunities within the financial services profession. You'll see a common thread running through each of these ten-minute audios: New and innovative technology is playing a major role in helping advisors (a) solve problems for their clients and (b) thrive as business professionals.

Stop what you're doing now and listen to one or more of these audio clips. You'll be glad you did.

Dan Santner on creating a collaborative retirement planning process to win client hearts and minds
Download link  |  Stream online

Daniel Satchkov on using the right technology to compete and win in the robo-age    Download link  |  Stream online

Abby Schneiderman on building better relationships with current and prospective clients   
Download link 
Stream online

As seen in Financial Planning magazine
December 2015 print edition

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

FPA / UMKC "Career Day" in Kansas City November 6, 2015

I was pleased to hear from my local FPA chapter and the instructors at UMKC who are partnering with the KC chapter to put on Career Day 2015. If you are in the area, please join us for the afternoon, November 6, 2015, on the UMKC campus.

This is an important conversation and I hope to learn as much from those attending as they will learn from me. If attending is out of the question for you, please post your questions on this blog and I will respond here. Details about my presentations and how to RSVP are shown below.

The Evolution of the Financial Planning Industry: 3rd Wave Trends, Threats and Realities

A presentation focused on the past, present and future of the financial planning profession followed by conversation on the topic or secrets of branding in the robo age presentation

WHO:             Marie Swift presenting at FPA Career Day

                       Sponsored by FPA Kansas City Chapter
                       In Partnership with University of Missouri, Kansas City

WHEN:           Friday, November 6, 2015

11:10 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.
Swift Presentation on Evolution of the Profession

12:10 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Group Dialog or Swift Breakout Session on Branding

1:00 -->
Other speakers and activities

WHERE:       University of Missouri - Kansas City
                     Henry W. Bloch School of Management
                     5110 Cherry St.
                     Kansas City, MO 64110-2499

HOW:           To RSVP contact Brandy Johnson at brandy@fpakc.org

DESCRIPTION:

The overlapping influences of social media, robo advisors, Skype, changing attitudes of baby boomers, expectations of new generations, and a raft of other social and technological upheavals have brought the financial services industry to an inflection point. Change has been a constant in the financial advice business but a fundamental shift has occurred due to factors such as the following:

·      Clients have better access to information and think they are better informed

·      It is as easy to find an advisor across the country as it is to find one down the street

·      Advisors service clients hundreds of miles away

·      Practitioners have direct access to potential clients through the web Investors can make their praise and criticism known to everyone online and via apps of their mobile devices

·      Clients can get up-to-the-minute portfolio information on their phones

·      Independent advisors can run a successful practice in the cloud with virtual staff

·      Investment management firms can hire a robo and fire their research and trading staff

We are witnessing the beginning of a third wave in financial services. The first wave was about product. The second wave was about advice. What will define the third wave? Changes taking place today will act synergistically to affect the very nature of the relationship between advisor and client -- and we are starting to see how all of that will play out.

At this FPA sponsored event, 3rd Wave Collaborative co-founder Marie Swift will talk about service models over the years and how today’s best technology-enabled advisors, supported by allied institutions, are building out their firms with an eye to the future.

After Swift's main presentation, attendees may chose to dialog over lunch with FPA members and UMKC faculty and students about Swift's session or join Swift in a breakout room to talk branding in the robo age.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Save the date! T3 Technology Conference for Financial Advisors - Feb 10-12, 2016 - Florida



See You at FPA B.E. in Boston? Here's How to Find Marie Swift.

I'll be at the FPA B.E. Conference in Boston. Find me and say hello!


I'll be hanging around these booths -- all of which are Impact friends and clients, all of which offer some pretty fantastic solutions for independent advisors and allied institutions:


  • Vanare | NestEgg - Table #17
  • Client Driven Practice - Table #15
  • Scottrade Advisor Services - Booth 308
  • Strategy and Resources - Booth 302
  • Entreda - Table # TBD
  • GuideVine.com - Table #TBD
  • Everplans Pro - Table #TBD


See the interactive map of the exhibit hall for visual of the booths and tables.

I will also be live tweeting some of the sessions including:

Retirement Roundtable - Sept 26 at 2:20 pm ET
Robert Powell, respected journalist

Cutting College Costs - Sept 26 at 4:30 pm ET
Lynn O'Shaughnessy, respected columnist

New Rules of Marketing and PR - Sept 26 at 8:00 am ET
Jill Schlesinger, respect journalist

Robo-Advisors Point / Counter Point - Sept 27 at 2:20 pm ET
Michael Kitces (Nerds Eye View), Rich Ellinger (Wealthminder), and Lex Sokolin (Vanare | NestEgg)

Investing Roundtable - Sept 27 at 3:55 pm ET
Advisor Partners CEO - Dan Kern

M&A and Succession Planning / Financing - Sept 27 at 5:00 pm ET
Marion Asnes (Idea Refinery) + Folks from Live Oak Bank and FP Transitions


Unfortunately, I have a flight on Monday September 28 -- I am heading right to Phoenix so I don't miss too much of the Bob Veres' Insider's Forum (and I am also speaking there alongside with my strategic partner Marion Asnes) -- or I would have loved to attend the Women and Investing session sponsored by Money Magazine and staffed by a host of awesome women I know (sorry ladies, alas a different duty calls). 

If you haven't signed up yet for the Insider's Forum, you can save $75 off your first registration with this code:


2015IMPACTCOMM

If you want to find me at FPA B.E. and prefer not to look for a "chance encounter" please stop by the Strategy and Resources booth #320 and leave a message with whoever is there. If you leave your cell phone number or mobile email, I will be in touch and we can meet up!