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.