Monday, December 28, 2009

New Year = Perfect Reinvention Time

Great article!
A "must read" as we enter the New Year:

Cover Story - Investment Advisor magazine: Reinvention Time
By Robert F. Keane

Scott Hanson and Pat McClain have built several successful advisory businesses. Now they’ve launched a new firm to serve low-net-worth clients. Pay attention.

You'll want to read the primary article (link above) as well as the 3 corresponding side bars. Why? I've worked with a lot of highly successful financial advisors over the past 23 years. Hanson and McClain are two of the smartest financial advisors I know. They treat their business like a business, outsource or hirer in expertise for anything they don't enjoy or do well, use time blocking and hold to personal time commitments, focus on first things first, are constantly in marketing mode - even when they don't need the business (which is, of course, the very best time to market) - and much more.

"A lot of financial advisors are just tradesmen," said Hanson in Keane's article. "They have a certain service that they provide and that’s what they do. As they get more successful they just work with bigger clients or more complicated clients to generate more revenue for the service that they provide. Most advisors don’t view themselves as a business. That’s why most advisory shops stay small, and I think it’s a mistake. Moving forward, it’s going to be even more of a challenge for these folks.

"We look at this as a business. We’re business people first and financial advisors second. Any decent businessperson would say, ‘How can I leverage the brand I have right now to bring in additional revenue?’"

Smart advisors everywhere will read Keane's article and take note. Hanson McClain are ones to watch in 2010 - and beyond.

Saturday, December 19, 2009 - Have Meaningful Dinner Conversations this Holiday Season, Win New Clients in 2010

Just in time for the holidays ...

LifeBio is offering a free Family and Friends Conversation Kit, available at through December 31, 2009. Company founder, Beth Sanders, guarantees the kit will make family dinner conversations richer and more meaningful. The holidays are one of the best opportunities families have to permanently capture family stories and make them last forever.

LifeBio's free Family and Friends Conversation Kit includes:
  1. Life story questions ideal for the holidays or anytime. These table tents can actually be printed and set right on the dinner table. Answer cards for recording memories are provided.
  2. LifeBio's 7 Tips for Interviewing
  3. Ideas for kids to draw or write the memories being discussed
  4. 5 good reasons to capture life stories NOW

Everyone has a story to tell, yet not everyone knows it, or knows quite how to tell it. That's where LifeBio comes in. Read more here: Free Download From Promises Meaningful Dinner Conversations this Holiday Season

Advisors: Learn how to use LifeBio Events to generate better conversations with current and future clients - Read my article, published by Research magazine, here:

LifeBio Events: A New Way for FAs to Bond with Clients
Tom McCarthy, affiliated with Commonwealth Financial, uses LifeBio system to build rapport with current clients and special guests – a great “next generation” strategy for smart advisors nationwide.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Missing Piece of the Portfolio Puzzle

Only recently have managed futures become accessible to individual investors. These assets – investments whose value varies with changes in market indexes, interest rates, currency exchange rates and commodity prices – have long been used by foundations and other institutional investors to diversify traditional portfolios of stocks and bonds.

Now investors who have total portfolios of $500,000 to $5 million can benefit from managed futures. These investments are often viewed as being a bit risky for individual investors, and it’s true that they’re not for the faint of heart.

Unlike many traditional investments, managed futures aren’t suited to long-term, buy-and-hold strategies; they must be closely monitored and managed. But when added to well-diversified portfolios of stocks and bonds and properly managed, they may help to protect individual investors against market declines.

Bob Lindner, CEO of Lindner Capital Advisors, provides more details in his article published by HCPlive in their Finance/Money section:

HCPlive | Finance/Money | The Missing Piece of the Portfolio Puzzle

Friday, November 20, 2009

EstateLogic - a Powerful Tool to Build Client Relationships

Just learned about EstateLogic, a wonderful new system that allows people to organize their lives online. It's a "virtual safe deposit vault" that can help you and your clients organize and archive critical information in the right way, across the Four Categories of Estate and Legacy Preparation:

Estate Documents: Wills, powers of attorney, trusts, medical directives, birth certificates, marriage licenses and other important papers
Financial Catalog: Financial assets, liabilities, properties, collectibles, contracts, preferences on planned giving, etc.
Family Legacy: Stories, pictures, videos, heirlooms, ancestry information, key family contact information, and other important aspects about your heritage
My Instructions: Your preferences for continued dependent care, pet care, funeral instructions, along with personal values, and messages to be passed on to your family

Executor's Resource was founded by long-time wealth manager and highly-respected financial planning practitioner Myra Salzer. Having taken the time to demo the system and try it out myself, all I can say is "wow!" Not only is this a great gift for loved ones (and for ourselves) but it is a great client conversation starter - and a great client gift. They even have a whole marketing program for financial advisors to use in their marketing communications plan. Do yourself a favor and go check it out -

Here are some ideas from the most recent edition of their "Smart Way" newsletter.

5 meaningful gifts for the holidays:

1. Trace your family tree and give copies to family members.

2. Create a family cook book of favorite recipes.

3. Get out old family photos and design a coffee table style picture book. Identify who is in each picture and provide captions and descriptions.

4. Write a short letter to your loved ones about why they make your life special.

5. Give a new, blank journal to each family member for use in 2010.

What will you pass on?

What will your legacy be? You needn't be famous to have one. Each of us has a story worth celebrating and preserving. The key is to start collecting memories and thoughts now. Executors Resource provides an actionable "how to" in "What will you pass on?". Login to access this and other unbiased, professionally written content in the EstateLogic Resource Center Library.

Record your legacy one memory at a time:

No more postponing! Here’s how to record your legacy one memory at a time.

1. Login to EstateLogic.

2. Click on the Family Legacy tab.

3. Under the Quick Links menu, click Add Family Story.

4. In the title, type "My favorite childhood holiday memory."

5. In the body, type in the first things that come to mind when you think of the holidays and growing up. Was there a specific tradition your family had? Are there favorite foods, people, special songs, or one holiday season in particular that takes you back? Simply write about it!

6. When you've completed your entry, click "Save". Remember, it doesn't have to be lengthy or perfect. The beauty of your EstateLogic account is that you can come back in and update your entry at any time. What's important is recording your memories - your legacy.

With EstateLogic, it's quick and easy to have a well-organized estate and a lasting legacy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Charles Schwab and Ken Fisher Share Spotlight, Receive Awards at Tiburon CEO Summit XVII

NEW YORK, Nov 19, 2009 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Tiburon Strategic Advisors, a market research & strategy consulting firm serving a wide variety of financial institutions and investment managers, recently awarded its inaugural Tiburon CEO Summit Awards to Charles Schwab (Chairman, The Charles Schwab Corporation) & Ken Fisher (CEO, Fisher Investments). This release highlights some of the key points made by both award recipients.

Tiburon's CEO Summits are built around two key themes:

-- Maintaining a focus on consumer needs

-- Challenging conventional wisdom

In the spirit of recognizing leaders in the financial services industry who have excelled at applying one or both of these concepts, Tiburon awarded its inaugural Tiburon CEO Summit Awards. Charles Schwab (Chairman, The Charles Schwab Corporation) received Tiburon's award for Maintaining a Focus on Consumer Needs. Ken Fisher (CEO, Fisher Investments) received Tiburon's award for Challenging Conventional Wisdom. Tiburon believes that maintaining a focus on consumer needs and challenging conventional wisdom are two of the keys to success in the rapidly evolving financial services industry.

These awards were presented at Tiburon CEO Summit XVII on October 7, 2009:

Charles Schwab (Chairman, The Charles Schwab Corporation) - Tiburon's Maintaining a Focus on Consumer Needs Award

Charles Schwab started the well-known San Francisco based brokerage firm that goes by his name in the early 1970s. Subsequently, Mr. Schwab has served as chairman of The Charles Schwab Corporation since incorporation of the firm in 1986. He also served as CEO or co-CEO from 1986 to 2008. Today, The Charles Schwab Corporation is one of the nation's leading providers of financial services, with 12,000 employees, more than 300 branches nationwide, approximately 10 million client accounts, & $1.2 trillion in client assets.

Mr. Schwab is the author of several books, was named chairman of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy in 2008, and, along with his wife Helen, is the co-founder & chairman of the Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping children with learning disabilities and supporting low income families through initiatives in poverty prevention, homelessness, & substance abuse.

Mr. Schwab was presented Tiburon's Maintaining a Focus on Consumer Needs award because of the numerous consumer-centric innovations of The Charles Schwab Corporation, including its discount brokerage, telephone-based services, branches, web based trading, mutual fund supermarket, and its custodial, operational, & trading support services for independent fee-based financial advisors.

Mr. Schwab sat down with Tiburon managing principal Chip Roame to discuss some of the factors that have contributed to his success as well as to discuss some of his opinions about the state of the financial services industry. Some of the highlights are included: When Mr. Roame asked how Mr. Schwab has been able to maintain a focus on consumer needs while also consistently introducing innovations to the industry, Mr. Schwab said that timing is everything. He went on to say that it is important not only to be in the right place at the right time, but to recognize and then act on opportunities as they present themselves. One of Mr. Schwab's key points was that he has always asked himself how a given situation will affect the common guy, and that this consideration, more than any other, caused him to rethink what a customer was and to reclassify customers as clients. Mr. Schwab referred to ETFs as Schwab's next big initiative.

When Mr. Roame asked about Mr. Schwab's insights into what might lead the recovery of the financial services industry, Mr. Schwab said that the basic fundamental values of middle America - family, saving, & college education - are still the leading factors in considering how to reach clients. He also went on to acknowledge the debate over how to move forward ideologically, and said that in any case, the financial services industry must evolve to inherently embrace high ethical standards.

When an audience member asked how Mr. Schwab has been able to consistently generate ideas that work, Mr. Schwab talked about the value of testing - starting small market and moving bigger as successful testing warranted. He specifically mentioned that he has oftentimes considered his own needs when considering the needs of the masses. In one case, as Mr. Schwab preferred no-load mutual funds in his IRA account, this may have led to the genesis of the mutual fund marketplace at The Charles Schwab Corporation.

Ken Fisher (CEO, Fisher Investments) - Tiburon's Challenging Conventional Wisdom Award

Ken Fisher has been CEO of Fisher Investments since founding the firm in 1979. His firm is the largest direct marketer in asset management and depending on one's definition, the largest fee-based financial advisor. Today, Fisher Investments has 950 employees, 85 professional sales people, tens of thousands of clients, and more than $30 billion assets under management.

Mr. Fisher's theoretical work in the early 1970s yielded a tool known as the price-to-sales ratio, now a core element of financial curriculum. Mr. Fisher is also known for his Portfolio Strategy financial investment column featured monthly in Forbes magazine, where his 25-year tenure makes him the fourth longest-running columnist in the magazine's 92-year history. His recent research, published in professional & scholarly journals, focuses on behavioral finance.

Mr. Fisher was presented Tiburon's Challenging Conventional Wisdom award because in almost every facet of his business he has challenged the trends of others, including his use of direct mail, web based advertising, & infomercials; the use of dedicated sales people and a separate dedicated service organization; aversion to hiring graduates of big name universities; telephone based service model; and well defined job descriptions with unparalleled levels of specialization of labor.

Mr. Fisher sat down with Tiburon managing principal Chip Roame to discuss some of the factors that have contributed to his success as well as to discuss some of Mr. Fisher's opinions about the state of the financial services industry.

Some of the highlights are included: When Mr. Roame asked how Mr. Fisher has been able to challenge conventional wisdom, Mr. Fisher said that there are two ways to think about the question - internally & externally. Mr. Fisher said that externally, his only real contribution has been the price-to-sales ratio work that he did in prior decades, but that internally, at Fisher Investments, he continues to challenge conventional wisdom daily, saying that he prefers never-yet-done-practices over best-practices.

When Mr. Roame asked about Mr. Fisher's insights into what might lead the recovery of the financial services industry, Mr. Fisher said that financial services professionals must lead with innovations that are good for consumers.

He also said it is vital that the industry monitor itself, that there always be a sense of Am I Doing the Right Thing? driving any decision that is made.

When an audience member asked how Mr. Fisher maintains very high client retention at Fisher Investments despite the firm's unusual sales-oriented structure, Mr. Fisher explained the value of binding both employees & clients to his firm. In binding employees to his firm, Mr. Fisher discussed the necessity of each employee having a breadth & depth of experience in order for promotion.

In binding clients to his firm, Mr. Fisher discussed the importance of frequent client interactions and specifically about managing client expectations. He said that both considerations are important to maintaining a robust business.

Tiburon CEO Summit XVII was held on October 7-8, 2009 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, CA. Tiburon CEO Summit XVIII will be held April 14-15, 2010 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York, NY. To learn more about this unique forum for debate & networking among financial services CEOs, go to, or if you are a qualified Tiburon client and would like to attend the upcoming Tiburon CEO Summit XVIII, please contact Tiburon Managing Principal Chip Roame directly. Contact information can be found at


Thursday, November 12, 2009

An Amazing 43 Minutes: Sarano Kelley Serves as Accountability Coach to (Formerly) Broke & Famous TV Actor

As a young star on two of the then most popular shows on television, Willie Aames had both wealth and fame, and lived the good life -- he is now faced with the prospect of losing his house, his possessions, and his family, after making a series of bad financial choices and living beyond his means. With no acting roles in sight, Willie is in dire straits with no plan to pull himself out of his situation. Enter Sarano Kelley, a tough, no-nonsense life coach who will be tasked with giving Willie the wake-up call he needs and helping him to reshape his financial future...before it's too late.

Watch Willie Aames's life completely change as he goes from famous to broke to the person he never knew he had inside.

Air Date: 11/09/09:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Backing Up The Brokers

Regulators are requiring brokers who sell retirement savings plans to meet a fiduciary standard.

by Scott Revare
, CEO, Smart 401k

The last thing that most broker-dealers that sell and service 401(k) plans want is for regulators to classify their representatives as fiduciaries. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, brokers who give plans or participants advice on specific investments are considered to be acting as fiduciaries. As regulators step up enforcement of these rules and new layers of regulation are added, the likelihood that a broker may become a fiduciary inadvertently is increasing sharply.

Click here to learn how some brokers are handling this.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Watch a Sneak Peek of Broke and Famous - Then Download Free "Town Hall In A Box" to Host Your Own Financial Literacy Meeting

Watch a Sneak Peek of Broke and Famous: Preview the show now. Then tune-in Nov. 5th at 10pm to see if actor Willie Aames can dig himself out of his financial hole.

Financial advisors:

Download free Town Hall Materials (customizable flyers, post cards, news releases and more - all developed by my team of professionals at Impact Communications and free for the taking) and learn how you can use the first episode of Broke and Famous as a conversation starter at a financial literacy gathering hosted by you in your own community.

Go to now to get the entire turnkey plan.

Friday, October 23, 2009

IAFSCA Launches Largest Financial Literacy Campaign in History

The International Association of Financial, Sport and Celebrity Advisers (IAFSCA) will use a ground-breaking, one-hour television special to expose the horrors of financial illiteracy and launch the largest financial literacy awareness campaign in American history. Millions of Americans will tune in to VH1 on November 5, 2009 at 10:00 pm EST to watch or TiVo the first episode of "Broke and Famous," a one-hour docudrama that tells the heart-breaking story of former child-star Willie Aames.

As the docudrama begins, Mr. Aames -- who is best known for his roles in "Eight is Enough" and "Charles in Charge" -- is in deep trouble. Lack of financial knowledge and lack of trusted advisers leaves him with no home, no possessions, no family and nothing to show for his past entertainment success. With the help of world renowned Financial and Life Coach, Sarano Kelley (, widely known in Hollywood and Wall Street, Mr. Aames is given a second chance to regain not only financial stability but countless other blessings.

Using the "Broke and Famous" docudrama as a conversation starter, thousands of financial advisers across the country will lead Town Hall Meetings in their communities during November and December 2009. These professionally led Town Hall Meetings will help participants understand what they and other important people in their lives can do to become more financial literate and personally responsible in their roles as global citizens. "As we enter the season of Thanksgiving and other important winter holidays, what better conversation to have with your loved ones than financial literacy," says Mr. Kelley, who emphasizes that many of the world's problems could be solved if we as a society were more personally responsible and financially aware. Financial advisers can download free Town Hall Meeting materials and Fact Sheets at

According to U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents, Mr. Aames joined over 850,000 Americans who filed for business and/or non-business bankruptcy in 2007. As that figure rises with total filings reaching 1,117,771 at the end of 2008, the need for an American financial education lesson plan is crucial and immediate. "The IAFSCA is responding to these alarming numbers," says Mr. Kelley. "We will use Aames' 'Broke and Famous' story to reach millions nationwide on Nov. 5, 2009."

Kelley and an army of financial advisers will continue their financial literacy campaign by creating a "Stand Up for Financial Literacy" petition that concerned citizens can sign online. Updates will be issued via Twitter (sign up to follow @STAND4FL), Facebook and via the IAFSCA's website

April 1, 2010 marks the start of U.S. Financial Literacy Month, where the "Stand Up for Financial Literacy" Campaign will take 100,000 advisers, educators, athletes, celebrities and business coaches into the country's classrooms to establish financial literacy awareness all across America.


Headquartered in Washington, DC, the IAFSCA is a cross-section of professional coaches, financial and business advisers dedicated to establishing a new generation of financially literate and purpose driven individuals who serve as fiscal role models. For more information, visit


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Twitter Live! with Thought Leaders at FPA Anaheim 2009

Eric Rasmussen, a reporter for Financial Advisor magazine, called me the other day to find out about the session I hosted at FPA Anaheim 2009 called Twitter Live! with 20 Industry Thought Leaders.

Here is the part of his article that relates to the Twitter Live! session:

During the conference itself, the FPA also tried to keep its members up to date on social and technology trends with a presentation called “Twitter Live!” in which industry stars twittered their key thoughts about advising for 2010.

“They wanted to create a sense of connectedness with those who could not be at the conference and/or those who could not attend every session,” said Marie Swift, a communications specialist and president of Impact Communications in Leawood, Kan., who hosted the “Twitter Live!” event.

Read the rest of the article here:

New to Twitter? Set up a free account at If your compliance department does not allow you to use Twitter to conduct outbound communications, keep in mind that you don't have to post (or "tweet" as it's called) to "follow" people and organizations.

When you sign up, search for people you know using the "people search" function, then click "follow". Twitter will consolidate all of their Twitter feeds onto your Twitter personal page. You can "protect" your Twitter page so only certain people (or no one) can follow you (and there wouldn't be any Twitter feeds from you if you don't post any).

If you want to follow me, type in marie swift. My Twitter "handle" is @marieswift (

Friday, October 16, 2009

Twitter Digest - Did you Miss These Tweets?

I will be one of 18 "world class presenters" in a virtual summit next week. FREE. No travel involved! Register:

Highlights from Invest In Others gala Impact Communications proud to represent top advisor / industry thought leader Brett Ellen.

Great article by Tara Siegel Bernard in the New York Times - To Retire in This Weak Market, the Magic Word Is ‘Focus’.
An added bonus: several of Impact Communications' clients are quoted - smart people, all.

Interesting 7 minute podcast with New York Times reporter Tara Siegel Bernard and editor Jane Bornemeier - how to plan for and think about retirement:

Julie Littlechild of Advisor Impact / Client Audit system - Watch Twitter Live! vblog: How advisors should be thinking about defining/articulating their value

Mary Zimmerman of Kinder Institute / Path Financial - Watch Twitter Live! vblog: Thoughts on achieving success in 2010 and beyond:

Advisors - how to Create a Five Touch Campaign. Read my articles on

Financial planning dean - Deena Katz - says more regulation on the way - Watch Twitter Live! vblog
Liz Weston says credit will be the big story for 2010. View Twitter Live! video blog. Follow @lizweston
the Industry Thought Leaders at booth at FPA Anaheim 2009. Wonderful seeing everyone there!

Great conversations w/ old friends and new at FPA Anaheim. Beth Sanders offering cool services for advisors.

Impact Communications coordinated a new and exciting session at FPA Anaheim 2009 -- Twitter Live! with Industry Thought Leaders. Watch video clips at

Follow all the FPA Thought Leader tweets @fpassociation and/or use hash tag #FPA2009 to pull up consolidated my name "swift" and save 30% off ASN360 Practice Mgt Summit. I am speaking Nov 7. Enter SWIFT in discount box - early bird ends10/5 - register at www.asn360.comRead George Kinder's article in Bank Investment Consultant magazine. Help your clients achieve their dream of freedom.

Gave away over $10,000 in prizes at FPA Anaheim 2009. Fun hanging out with dozens of industry thought leaders.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Securities America Congratulates Brett. S. Ellen - Invest in Others Award

Brett S. Ellen, CFP, president of American Financial Network of Calabasas, Calif., founder of TKO Helping Hands, has been named winner of this year's Community Leadership Awards Mentoring Excellence Award. A top advisor and registered representative with Securities America, Ellen is a great example for financial advisors across the globe. His family foundation, TKO Helping Hands, will receive $12,500 from the 503(c) Invest in Others organization.

In photo: Brett Ellen accepts his award from Robert DeChellis of Allianz Life Financial.

Read article about Brett Ellen's charitable activities in Investment News: Teaching Children to Help Others

Hear podcast with Janine Wertheim, CMO, Securities America, Inc. - great ideas for companies who wish to give back to the community: Securities America Celebrates 25th Anniversary with 25 Weeks of Caring, Giving and Sharing.

Read related article:

Five-Touch Campaigns - Advisor Success Stories Here

In my last article for Morningstar Advisor, I provided thoughts and detailed instructions on how financial advisors could create an effective Five-Touch Marketing Campaign.

Be sure to read Power Up Your Marketing Plan - a companion article - too.

Please post your comments and success stories on this blog. We can create a dialog here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tiburon Strategic Advisors Honors Charles Schwab and Ken Fisher -

As a Tiburon Consulting Fellow, I am proud to share the following news item with you. For those of you attending the Tiburon CEO Summit XVII in San Francisco next week, I look forward to seeing you there.

Tiburon Strategic Advisors Honors Charles Schwab and Ken Fisher

Inaugural Awards Ceremony to Take Place October 7-8, 2009 at Tiburon CEO Summit XVII

Tiburon Strategic Advisors, a market research & strategy consulting firm serving a wide variety of financial institutions and investment managers, has announced the recipients of its inaugural Tiburon CEO Summit Awards: Charles Schwab (Chairman, The Charles Schwab Corporation) and Ken Fisher (CEO, Fisher Investments). These awards will be presented at Tiburon CEO Summit XVII to be held at the Ritz Carlton San Francisco October 7-8, 2009.

Read full article now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Fundamentals Never Change

Economic indicators suggest the global economy is stabilizing. The financial dark cloud of the Great Recession may indeed be lifting. It’s given investors some renewed optimism. I’m reminded by this improving economic climate that no matter how dynamic markets are, the core principles of providing quality client-centered financial advice never really change.

I spoke with Roger R. Bell, president of Roger R. Bell & Company, Inc. in Dublin, Va., to get his thoughts on the immutability of financial planning. Here are four timeless tips that can help deliver long-term client relationships.

As published by Research magazine, August 29, 2009 - read:

The Fundamentals Never Change

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Going Independent? Great Webcast!

5 Industry Experts share their views and insights:

1. Marie Swift, President and CEO, Impact Communications
2. Gregg Johnson, Senior VP, Branch Office Development, Securities America
3. Clyde Wyatt, Managing Director, Navigation Financial
4. Arthur Cooper, Co-Founder, Cooper McManus
5. Don Patrick, Managing Partner, Integrated Financial Group

In this 50 minute webcast, the panelists share over 100 years of experience in the independent financial advisory world - including practical considerations about setting up your office, selecting a broker/dealer, building a team and much more!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Smart Advisors Embrace Collaborative Services Platform

Listen to this 5 minute podcast from:

#1 Top Advisor Brett S. Ellen, CFP

speaking on the Collaborative Services Platform

To request your invitation to the September Training Class in Santa Monica:

American Financial Network Hires Impact Communications to Promote Business Services -

American Financial Network Hires Impact Communications to Promote Business Services -

Posted using ShareThis

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Friendly Persuasion ...

Smart business people are getting the hang of "the basics" now - blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, webinars, podcasts, digital multimedia recordings, wikis, intranets, You Tube, Flickr ...

Are you keeping pace?

A little friendly persuasion:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Axis of Influence:One book you must read this year!

Two of my favorite authors are also people you probably know - Michael Lovas and his wife Pam Holloway. They are true thought leaders, and their new book is insightful - Axis of Influence: How Credibility and Likeability Intersect to Drive Success.

Michael and Pam are smart and extremely good at the psychology of making advisors more likeable and more credible. In their book, they teach you how to systematically improve both credibility and likeability.

In an era when so many books are filled with opinion and conjecture, Michael and Pam give you the psychology, the processes and the skills. And, thy they give you the research to substantiate their advice.

I believe Michael and Pam have written an essential book for every advisor who wants to achieve greater success, in personal life and professional life.

In addition, they are giving away $2,300 in Bonuses. You can get the details at: And, be sure to tell them I said Hello!

Buy this book! Your business needs it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Risk Tolerance, Psychometrics and You

Geoff Davey, founder of FinaMetrica (, talks with me about the differences between risk tolerance, risk assessment and risk capacity. He talks about "psychometrics" and how to get a true measure for the clients' risk tolerance.

Davey's firm is also doing some interesting research. They are surveying investors to find out if their risk tolerance has changed due to the economic downturn and market turbulence. The people they are contacting had worked with an advisor who in the past had used the Finametrica Risk Profiling system. They are asking them to use the same Finametrica Risk Profiling system again to see if their risk tolerance has indeed changed. Stay tuned to this blog and I will post a summary of their research findings as soon as they become available.

For now, do listen to this very interesting and insightful interview:

Impact Communications’ Marie Swift interviews FinaMetrica cofounder, Geoff Davey, about the FinaMetrica system, psychometric testing, the four aspects of risk, marketing opportunities and current research (23 mins.)

MP3 File

Friday, July 31, 2009

How to Beat Your Competition as a Small Business Owner or Service Professional

Do It Yourself PR Tips

Based on a question I received on an association discussion board, I thought I would share this information here as well. The question was essentially: how can IFAs can post news releases online "for journalists to 'pick up'" and/or target specific media outlets and journalists.


There are many different vendors that offer online news release distribution / posting services. Some are free. Some are low cost. Some are pricey. There's some wisdom to the old adage, "you get what you pay for."

Most of the online free and low cost options, such as, are meant to be online visibility tools. In my experience, most "real journalists" don't pay much attention to online postings and RSS feeds from services like PR Web. The real value of something like PR Web is that you can create an online news room and bank of permanent online news releases. This can boost search engine ratings and create happy "just stumbled upon your news release online" type of business results.

Other free services (some with a premium / paid upgrade option) include: – Free release distribution with ad-support – Free distribution, paid services gives you better placement and permanent archiving. – Distributs to sites like Google News and, Gold level will also get you to sites like LexisNexis. – Focuses on ecommerece and requires you include an image, 3 keywords and links. – Free distribution company with offices in 12 states. – Easy press release distribution for free, more features for paid accounts. – Distributes your release, offers a web page with one keyword link to your site. Pro upgrade will give you three links, permanent archiving and more. – Allows for free distribution to sites and search engines, premium membership differs only slightly in adding in graphics. – All the usual free distribution tools, premium service includes logo, product picture and more. – Not only will they distribute your press releases, but you can also set up a full company profile. – Ad supported press distribution site. – European-based free press release distribution site. – Completely free distribution to search engines, news sites, and blogs. – Distribute your press release with a free or paid version, others can vote it up ala Digg (Digg) style. – Not only distributes your release, but attempts to teach you how to write one, and even offers downloadbale samples for you to work with. – Submit your release for free and get on their front page and the category of your choice. – A free press release service formatted as a blog. – Free press release distribution no matter what, but extra services based on the size of your contribution. – Free distribution to search engines, newswires, and RSS feeds. Fee based bumps get you better placement. – Free distribution to Google News and other other search engines. – Gives free distribution for plain formatted releases, fees for HTML-coded releases.


If an organization or individual had a more specific goal of getting a news release in front of a select group of journalists, the best options are to work with a professional PR firm.

Working with a professional PR firm has the following advantages:

1. Relationships with real journalists. Any good PR firm will have cultivated and will constantly be cultivating relationships with a targeted group of media outlets and specific journalists.

2. Access to comprehensive media databases. Any good PR firm will subscribe to a media database so that they can quickly build targeted media distribution lists and glean specific pitching tips for specific journalists. For instance, at my firm, we subscribe to Media Atlas / PR Newswire.

3. Proprietary media lists. Any good PR firm will have developed their own proprietary distribution lists. They won't share this information with you at any cost.

4. Insights about when to use a news release, when to do a virtual or in-person media tour, when to do email or phone pitching, mass blasts or personal outreach, etc.

5. Strong ability to write a compelling news release that will get the attention of the targeted media list or news wire service.

6. Insights on when to use direct distribution to their proprietary list versus a news wire service versus a satellite feed (or a combination thereof).

- Most PR firms use a professional news wire service to supplement their direct email and fax distributions -- for instance BusinessWire or PRNewsWire. We use PRNewsWire and can thus target specific media distribution areas in the US, select the entire US, or opt for global distribution.

- A professionally written news release put out on a good news wire service will get picked up by news aggregation sites such as Yahoo! news, Google news, etc. and various online publications such as,,, etc. Real journalists watch and search these sites for items of interest and resources that pertain to their "beat." In addition, there is a credibility factor that occurs when a company/advisor links to what looks like a "news article" on a credible outlet such as versus

- Sometimes PR firms will also use an Associated Press satellite feed to ensure it goes right into media outlets and has a higher chance of hitting editors/producers desks.

7. Integration of Web 2.0 and viral marketing strategies with traditional PR tactics.

- For instance, submitting a news release in the most appropriate way(s) as described above. Then finding the top 10 bloggers on the topic and sending them an e-mail, linking to the release somewhere it was published.

- Another example: Blogging, tweeting, participating on social and business networking sites like Facebook, various Ning and/or subscriber-based communities, LinkedIn, etc.

- One last example: Using multi-media news releases and/or an electronic media blitz.

8. Ability track and measure results.

More tips and insights on why PR should be a big part of every independent financial advisor's marketing plan is available here: - check the Advisor Resources tab and the In the News tab, which houses almost all of the past articles I've written.


1. Get some media training. If you are a member of FPA, NAPFA, IAFSCA, GPN or other professional associations you are probably offered live and virtual media training opportunities. Another option is Media Mastery University:

2. Practice small before you leap large. Talk to peers about what they have done and how they have been successful. Get into a PR Training and Empowerment group lead by a PR professional.

3. Build one success on another on another on another. Leverage your media successes so that you to become a "slightly famous" planner with your clients and strategic partners. Enjoy the crebility and take the next step as you improve your media skills (e.g., go from a local newspaper bylined column or TV appearances to national outlets and TV appearances, write a white paper then a book, etc.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

AdvisorPod - Fast, Fun and Informative Practice Management Tips for Financial Advisors

Since it's recent launch, has provided podcasts and tools to hundreds of subscribers. Check out a few of the latest podcasts available:

- Client Segmentation and Analysis,
- Structuring Your Client Communications

- The Number One Non-Investment Service is an exciting new podcast subscription service for financial services professionals that provides relevant best practices for running an efficient, profitable and enjoyable practice.Advisorpod podcasts have been featured as "New and Notable" in the Podcasts/ Business/Management & Marketing section of iTunes. Find out why!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tips for Controlling Costs in Recession

Small Businesses Struggle to Remain Competitive in the Recession: Financial Advisors Offer Tips for Controlling Costs

From corporate board rooms to the kitchen table, Americans are at work cutting the fat from over-extended budgets. This switch into survival mode is equally imperative in the small business arena where tight credit and the nation's newly adopted frugality have combined to create unprecedented financial challenges.

Listen to this helpful podcast now.

Financial Planning Gets Personal

Just wondering what the financial planning community thinks about some of the concerns posed in this article:

Financial Planning Gets Personal

More financial advisers are moving beyond money matters and playing counselor with their clients. Not everyone thinks that's a good idea.

Please "comment" here in this blog. Should consumers be wary if their financial planner takes a more personal approach? What types of "best practices" to you embrace?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Guest Contribution from Dr. Edward A. Jacobson

Dr. Edward A. Jacobson is one of the most thoughtful and inspiring coaches I know. His insights and approach continually impress me.

This morning - as I was (once again) working the weekend shift to catch up with past due work - I took the time to slowly read and reflect on Ed's emailed communication below.

I hope you will slowly read and reflect in it too.

This Appreciative Hour

By Edward A. Jacobson, Ph.D.
August 13, 2009

© 2009 Edward Jacobson, Ph.D.

Highlights of the 8-13-09 Open Mic Call

A pleasant, meandering, yet substantial OM hour: just the kind of swinging-in-a-hammock time that you might spend on a steamy, August, Dog Day afternoon. We meditated for one minute to center ourselves, recalled summer High Points, said what we feel proud about as we looked back on The Year of Living Dangerously, listened to my recollections of NexGen in Moline and Garrett Planning Network Retreat in KC, and used a "Clearness Committee" to address a planner's dilemma about his next career move. That's quite a lot, actually.

Get the story below, and then read "Ed's Further Reflections" on the benefits of being in community. It takes a village, you know, to raise and support a planner.

NOTE: Open Mic will be on vacation until September 2nd, 2009. Catch the next Open Mic on Wednesday, September 2nd, Noon eastern. Call 1-219-509-8322, passcode 202779#. It's free and we always have a good conversation.

The Path of Appreciation and Positivity© group

Thank you for your response to my Department of Shameless Self-Promotion notices about the Path group. The September group is full, but if you're interested in the next one (which could begin before end of the year), let me know and I'll send info.

August 13 Open Mic Re-cap

Centering Practice: I created an impromptu meditation by focusing and building on strengths (areas of the body which are already relaxed and spacious), rather than fixing what's "broken" (trying directly to relax the tight, tense areas). I invited participants to make themselves comfortable (feet on floor, hand off computer mouse, eyes closed), and:

"Take a series of natural breaths; just let the breath enter your nose, go through the lungs and into the belly, and then out. Repeat this rhythm: in-breath, out-breath.

As you continue with this rhythm, locate an area in your body which is relaxed and calm. Focus on this area, get to know the sensations of calm and relaxation, and enjoy them.

As you do so, allow the area of relaxation and calm to expand slowly outward to other areas of your body. Enjoy watching this area spread outward, like ripples on a pond, til the sensation occupies your entire body.

If you encounter areas which remain tight, let them be, and watch the rest of the body slowly relax. The tight areas will catch up, at their own pace."

Several commented on how quickly they relaxed (and how beneficial, given how focused they have been on project deadlines).

I beat my usual drum about the value of such "One-Minute Drills" before (or between) appointments. From a business-case perspective, it allows us to bring our entire self to the conversation -- and our clients and collaborators have every right to expect our full presence. From a personal perspective, it allows the interaction to be more enjoyable and fuller, and allows us to use our creativity and skills more completely. It's a true Win-All-Around, but one that we often don't avail ourselves of. What can you do today, to give yourself a One-Minute-Drill between appointments?

"What's been a High Point of your summer, thus far?"

Several participants cited their summer high points, including: a recent, overdue Mexican vacation; a week on a windjammer in New England, during which a participant became an expert in photographing through fog (making lemons from lemonade, as it were); a weekend-with-wife-minus-the-kids in the Smokies (including seeing a rattlesnake up close, but not too personal); and finally getting a study group of six planners together in person, following NexGen in Moline.

I offered my own summer high point, feeling a little awkward at its lack of grandeur; it took place on the morning of the Open Mic, and consisted simply of our street's getting paved. Here's the back story: beginning on April 17 our street has been subject to an occupying army of construction equipment, piles of new water and sewer pipes, guys (and one woman) in bright yellow shirts, and a seven-foot berm of dirt spanning the entire length of our block. It got pretty old, long about July 10. Then suddenly -- in a matter of three hours -- a beautiful new street, and the occupiers and their materiel were gone! You could hear the denizens of Fox Avenue heave a collective sigh of relief: Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

What's one thing you've done that you're proud of, in handling an aspect of your business or your personal life during this past year?"

  • One participant's pride in facilitating the NexGen gathering in Moline. (Her pride is justified. I was there, shared some of the facilitation, and watched her do a wonderful job.)
  • For another participant, it was the Art of Hosting event in Gold Lake six weeks before, as a great way to be immersed in important conversations. He was one of four planners who birthed the event, and so any pride he might feel in that role is fully justified, in my eyes.
  • A planner offered his tale of adversity and resilience. "I let go my planner during the downturn, which led me to be closer to the 'actual work,' and got me more involved and directly accountable to the clients... It's been a blessing. My three biggest clients have all come in this year, far and away bigger than anything before. It must have something to do with how I am holding myself out." Since I know that he reads these Recaps, I'll take this opportunity to ask him a question: "Can you ask each of these clients, at the right time, their decision to retain you was based upon? It could be very informative, and could set the stage for you to request that they refer 'people like you, who I so enjoy serving.' "
  • A fourth person noted his successful completion of the 18-month journey to become a Certified Life Coach. (Bravo, Sam!)
  • Another planner noted, with pride, that he had actually taken a lunch break on a recent workday, for the first time in five or six years. (He must have been famished by the time he lunched, after all that time going without!) He sat under a large tree, ate his sandwich, and read a book: a rare indulgence for him, and one which I hope he will repeat often -- perhaps daily.

"Any Burning Questions?"

A planner has been on the fence about staying with his current firm, saying that "Clearly, I'm not in the right environment as a planner. What can I do to change my situation?" He feels somewhat 'trapped' by a comfortable level of salary and benefits, and would like to make a gradual transition to a new environment, rather than "jumping off the cliff" (his phrase). He would like an environment which supports his personal mission, "to help people live their lives on purpose."

Given the short amount of time available to us, and the complexity of his situation (which I have some knowledge of, from prior conversations), I explained the "Clearness Committee" process (which you may recall from a recent Open Mic recap) and offered him that option. He was game, and we offered him the following questions for his reflection. (Note that sometimes the Clearness Committee has the person respond to each question and sometimes, as in the Open Mic examples, the Qs are offered for internal consumption).

Clearness Committee Questions:

1. "What would be your ideal work week, when you're doing work you are meant to do?"

2. "What is your idea of 'comfortable'? What's that about?"

3. "How else might your life have to change, in order for you to have the desired focus of your work?"

4. "What's working well in your current life, that you want to keep in the act? What's working not-so-well, that you'd be up for trading in?"

5. "If you could put your fears in a leak-proof box so they wouldn't influence you, what would you then be free to do?"

6. "What are the specific fears?" (Someone added, "You can name each as you put it in the box.")

7. "What would you do, if you knew you couldn't fail at it?"

8. "What would be your advice to someone in your situation?"

9. "What's your objection to being uncomfortable?" (i.e., "You seem afraid to venture out past your comfort zone. Could you look at that fear more closely?")

10. "What question have we not asked you, that you want to ask?"

11. "What would someone who is fearless do in your situation?"

Following our question-asking, our planner-with-a-dilemma said that all the questions seem useful, adding that "some made me uncomfortable - not knowing the answer." In particular, some Qs introduced new thoughts and perspectives: "What's working well? What would I trade in?" "What's my thing about 'comfort' about?" Sounds like a typical Clearness Committee process, in which some questions penetrate more deeply (at first) than others. I urged him to let the questions work their magic with him, and see where it takes him.

One-word Checkouts: I asked participants to volunteer a one word description of how today's Open Mic was for them. Here's what came out:

"calming, curious, fruitful"

Ed's Further Reflections: It Takes a Village (to Raise a Planner)

This has been a summer of bountiful community for me. First there was the Art of Hosting event in Gold Lake, CO at the end of June. Then there was the NexGen gathering in Moline several weekends ago, followed by the Garrett Planning Network Retreat in KC the next weekend. (There's also Open Mic, a kind of revolving community conversation with a shifting group composition every time.) Each setting was very different in some respects, yet with much in common, especially in the gifts they confer and some of the factors behind those gifts. This "veritable plethora" (to quote the late Howard Cosell) of community involvement has prompted me to reflect on (a) how important it is for each of us to have our own communities (I use the plural intentionally) to support our sanity, our personal and occupational effectiveness, and our continued development, and (b) how the lack of appropriate, supportive communities puts us at risk, both personally and professionally.

I have noticed some themes across these community gatherings. One is the degree of exhaustion and stress that attendees expressed at the beginning of each event. This was most pronounced and frequent during the initial months of Open Mic (which began on January 6). I heard the exhaustion theme at each of the other events, as planners came together to share experiences, raise questions and issues, move towards innovative answers -- and mainly commune, commiserate, and celebrate together. As each of these events has unfolded, the fatigue dissipated, often replaced with raucous laughter and joy; inevitably, creativity replaced stuckness. That has been my own experience as well, during these events. I have experienced a sense of renewed excitement, commitment, and engagement in my work, as each community event wound its way to a satisfying conclusion. "I have to (do X)" has been replaced by "I get to do X...and I can't wait!" I sense a similar outcome in other attendees, if our prolific email exchanges are a reliable gauge.

What makes my own experience of NexGen and the Garrett Retreat so striking is that in each event, I was in a facilitator, presenter, and/or workshop leader role - and I still reaped the same benefits as "real" community members did. Apparently it's contagious, which is very good news.

If, as I suspect, this summer's community gatherings are a fair sample, there's a similar recipe that leads to gratifying and often surprising outcomes. In each instance, the ingredients of (a) good will, (b) shared purpose in gathering together, (c) a skilled and experienced facilitator team, (d) a willingness to suspend judgment, and (e) allowing "answers" to arise at their own pace, result in a profound sense of connection between people, a renewed sense of individual and group purpose, a shared feeling that the world makes more sense and is more navigable, and a sense of being deeply replenished and newly fortified for the road ahead.

There was something else remarkable, especially at NexGen and the Garrett Retreat. In each of these two events, most of the attendees knew each other from prior meetings and hadn't seen each other since the last gathering. There was a palpable sense of sheer happiness and joy in each other's company, as though everyone had been waiting the entire year to re-convene, share stories of what a long strange trip it's been (thank you for the lyric, Grateful Dead), and celebrate that they'd all made it through. It was the adult version of kids frolicking with their favorite playmates in the park, and it was lovely to behold.

In terms of specific future directions, one stands out for me. There was a lot of talk about forming "accountability partnerships" between pairs or groups of people. I love the idea, though I think it's mislabeled. Perhaps they should be called something else, such as mutual support groups, because "holding each other accountable" can be best done in context of mutual respect, understanding, and caringly offering information, advice, and feedback. Only in such circumstances do we earn the right to "hold each other accountable." Without such a context, accountability becomes a feared obligation which stifles rather than promotes growth. As for myself, I've become involved in several such mutual support groupings following these gatherings, and I feel energized and excited about their prospects for all of us.

I hope my musings about community provide a useful backdrop for me to pose several questions for you to ponder, about your own communities:

  • What kinds of communities have seen you through this past year? Family? Friends? A church group? A study group? An accountability partnership? Other forms of community?
  • What have been your best experiences in community, prior to this last year? What kinds of lasting effects have they had, for you?
  • What, if anything, has been missing for you this year, in your array of communities? What has been the cost to you, of not having what you have needed? How can you fill that gap?
  • With summer winding down, and as you think about the year ahead: what are your needs for being in community, and how can you get these important needs met?

Once you answer these questions for yourself - especially the last one - I hope you'll go for it.

Appreciatively, Ed

Ed Jacobson, Ph.D.
Author of Appreciative Moments

Need an engaging speaker for your event? A skilled guide for a staff retreat, client appreciation event, or family meeting? Ready to join a group on The Path of Appreciation™? If so, please contact me to discuss the possibilities, or visit

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