Advisor Blog

Advisor Products Launching Open Source Content Management System For Advisor Websites

In 1997, when Advisor Products first started providing advisor websites (as AdvisorSites), there were no open-source content management software (CMS) systems. WordPress and Joomla were not founded until 2005. While Drupal was founded in 2001, it gained little traction until 2004.

Over the last few years, however, open-source CMS has flourished. WordPress, the most popular, is used by 16.7% of all websites, Drupal on 2.1%, and Joomla on 2.8%, according to W3Schools. Among the World Wide Web’s most visited one million sites, Drupal is the CMS reportedly used by 9.1%, Joomla by 11.1% and WordPress by 63.2%.

Open source CMS is popular because it’s free. Yes, free. These CMS apps are operated by not-for-profit organizations. The free software movement is an amazing phenomenon and books have been written about it. But the main thing most advisors probably care about is that, because they are free, Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress have spawned large communities of developers.

Tens of thousands of programmers around the world have built apps that extend WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.  Like add-ons for Firefox, apps in the Apple iOS App Store, and Play for Google’s Android operating system (formerly called Market), these extensions make it easy to make improvements to a website.

Say you want to add a rotating banner to your website, one that changes a graphic and text displayed in a big rectangular box across the top of your home page. In minutes, you can find a free or inexpensive extension on a CMS app store that does it for you. Web development is suddenly easier and you can come to market with the latest widgets and apps much more quickly by relying on open-source CMS.

Advisor Products chose Joomla because it is extremely versatile. While WordPress is simpler, it’s really a blog platform and is not as powerful as Drupal or Joomla. Drupal, while also more powerful than WordPress, is more complex and unwieldy than Joomla. Joomla is a happy medium.

Advisor Products has built a new “BackOffice” application that gives advisors control over their websites using Joomla’s powerful features. We’ve created components to add Advisor Products’ content to your Joomla-powered website. You can change text and graphics on any page, add new pages, and easily keep your site fresh with new content and tools. Because the system is so easy to use and renders beautifully designed Web pages with rich social, video and textual content, you are more likely to use the CMS system to keep your site fresh.

Many small independent Web developers use Joomla to develop websites for advisors, but they lack the support staff, content and industry knowledge necessary to create a successful financial advisor website.  Often these developers will not give you access to edit the site yourself.

We’ve come across one advisor who paid $27,000 for a Joomla site and branding that we charge $3000 for, and he was given now way to change his website himself. And just yesterday I spoke with an advisor who paid $14,000 for a WordPress site and had little choice but pay $100 an hour for his web developer to make simple changes to the site. We don't behave that way here.

We’re now able to add the most modern widgets and graphics to advisor websites and all of it is integrated with AdvisorVault, client portals, and our wealth management content.

Initially, the new CMS platform is available to RIAs only. It has not been integrated with our compliance tool for broker-dealer pre-approval of content. But that’s coming. We’ll keep you updated.

Please call us at 516 333-0066 if you would like to know how you can use this cutting-edge technology to improve your website marketing and client communications.
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Thinking Like Your Prospects Is Key To Advisors Succeeding In Search Engine Optimization

Advisor-Products-Webinar-Replay
Do you see things from your ideal client’s perspective? To succeed in using search engine optimization to market your firm, that mindset is required.

After last week’s Advisor Products webinar about marketing, I spoke with one of the attendees about his search engine optimization and content marketing strategy.

 



While this advisor is a licensed professional, he’s not an SEO expert, and he was having trouble with the notion that using social media to engage a very specific type of investor could be more rewarding than marketing to the broad masses. So I explained that writing a blog about financial problems of doctors in LA would indeed bring him a smaller readership than writing a blog for all small business owners in LA, but that the doctors who found his blog about their specific financial problems would be more likely to appreciate his specialized knowledge, he got that.

But what would be his best niches? Is it plastic surgeons in LA, Amgen senior managers, beauty salon owners? He would give that more thought, he said. But the exercise we went through was helpful.

By definition, until you understand that marketing to a specific group is more effective than marketing to everyone, you won’t be able see things from your ideal clients’ perspective, and, therefore, you won’t be able to identify the key words your ideal clients will use to search for you on the Web. You will fail at SEO.

However, once you commit to specializing in a specific client-type — lobstermen in Maine, chiropractors in Kansas City, or airplane pilots in Atlanta — you can speak to them directly over the Web.

I do it. That’s why you’re reading this! I’ve defined my niche and I am speaking to you because you are a professional financial advisor. You are probably credentialed and hungry for growth. I provide you information you value. So you might click on my tweets, read my blog and follow me on social networks.

You can do it, too. You can host webinars for dentists in Denver, and share financial ideas addressing their issues, and they will find you via search engines. You can post tweets for professors in Pittsburgh, Slidecasts for senior executives at a local tech company, and videos for owners of diners in Long Island. If you post content that diner owners in Long Island need to know, they will find and follow you.

For instance, say you tweet, blog, and make videos targeted to owners of owners of McDonald’s franchises about the new 3.8% federal surtax. A year from now, when an owner sells his franchise, he’ll want to shield his children’s passive gain on the sale, and he’ll think of you because you’ve been sending him ideas on this very topic to him.

If you can define your niches, then think like hem and imagine how they will find you. What would wealth management problems might cause an Amgen employee to go on the Web and search for help? If you know senior managers at GM have a deadline to decide on what to do about their pensions,  what search terms will they use to find help with making the decision?  If you use those search terms in your blogs, tweets, and other content on your website, they will find you and follow you. Over a year or two,  these people who are searching for a needle in a haystack will call you and become clients because you specialize in solving their financial problems.

Content marketing is utilized on the Internet by businesses, but few financial advisors implement an SEO program because it costs money or time. Doing it right requires knowledge of SEO and wealth management as well as the ability to write words people will want to read. It’s not easy and success depends on doing it right. But if you do it right, it works. The fact that you’re reading this proves it.

 
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How Is Advisor Products Different?

I was on the phone with an advisor today who asked me why he should not choose a less expensive advisor website vendor or hosting service.

I showed him AdvisorVault and how he could easily and securely provide clients information about their portfolios, financial plans, and estate plans — information about their future and the future of their families.

Then, I showed him an article that we posted to advisor websites and social content stream a day ago or two entitled, “Is Media Biased Toward Bad Financial News.” Here's a snippet:
Headlines about the economy in July sounded dire. “IMF Says Doubt Weighs On Economy,” reported The Wall Street Journal. “Economy Looks Weaker As Retail Sales Slump,” said The Boston Globe. “Fiscal Cliff Could Trigger U.S. Recession: IMF Economist,” according to a CNBC story.

“‎While the U.S. economy indeed was not growing briskly this summer, it was growing, and gloomy headlines belied reasons for optimism. Here are counterpoints to bad news and recession-mongering, reasons to expect that a slow-growth recovery will continue.”

The article, like all the stories we provide on advisor websites and for use on social media by advisors, reflects the perspective of an advisor. When you link to articles in the press, they don’t have your perspective. They want to sell papers and get eyeballs.

In addition, the article was submitted for expedited FINRA review, a process we go through every month so that we can post timely news for use on advisor websites and newsletters. Even if you’re an RIA with no BD, FINRA’s review helps ensure nothing promissory, unsubstantiated, or outlandish goes to clients.

The article, which provides details on seven pieces of good economic news, is based on authoritative sources, in this case, ideas from economist Fritz Meyer. The story presents a well-reasoned analysis based on data.

The Web has created an information explosion so loud that rising above the din is extremely difficult. The only way you can hope to get through is by providing real knowledge and valuable ideas. Imparting valuable information about your clients’ wealth is the kind of marketing to which advisors should aspire, and that’s what makes Advisor Products different.

 

 
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Batch Upload Invoices And Other Documents And Deliver Them Securely To Each Of Your Clients

RIAs can now batch process invoices and other documents using a new feature in AdvisorVault. The "batch upload" feature lets you process documents created in just about any application and deliver them securely to each individual client's vault.

RIAs usually produce some documents and reports en masse for all clients. Billing statements, tax analysis, and portfolio reports are often produced in a batch of 50, 100 or 500, for example. Being able to securely deliver such documents in a single upload streamlines your operations, saves time, and increases communication with clients about their personal financial data.

The new batch upload feature in AdvisorVault allows you to upload for all your clients in a single upload, and yet each document is automatically be posted to each client’s vault. In addition, AdvisorVault can automatically notify each client about the upload in a personalized email from you that also also sent en masse.

The batch upload feature works with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and other documents, including Adobe PDFs,and it also works with any professional software you use for performance reporting, financial planning, billing or other internal tasks.

The batch upload feature parses client files based on a unique identification number. AdvisorVault uses that unique identification number to drop each document into the corresponding client’s vault. After a batch upload is set up one time, you can upload use the batch process for that file again anytime. An AdvisorVault technician helps you set up your upload the first time.

You can batch upload to any folder in AdvisorVault that you designate and can set a deletion date for each batch.  For example, you can set invoices posted in batch today to be deleted on January 1, 2014.

While the batch upload feature allows an advisor to batch process reports from any application, this is not the same as using AdvisorVault’s XML batch process. AdvisorVault’s integration with Advent Axys, AssetBook, and PortfolioCenter batch processes client performance reports to create dynamic HTML reports, which provide a more interactive user experience in your performance reports.

With some RIAs telling us their state regulator is now requiring them to show proof that their clients have viewed their quarterly invoices, the batch uploading to  AdvisorVault could become more important. Please let us know if you would like us to develop a report allowing your firm to see which clients did not view their quarterly invoices. If there is heavy demand for this report, we’ll accelerate development of this feature.

AdvsorVault’s batch upload software costs $1,000 a year and setting up each batch process costs $300. Call us at 516-333-0066 ext. 224 for a demonstration.

 
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Social Media Content Stream For Advisors Doubled Unique Visitors To RIA's Website


Charles D. Jones Capital Management, an RIA in Waco, Texas, says Social Media Content Stream For Advisors from Advisor Products is doubling unique visitors to its website.

“The data is pretty compelling,” Jones said in an email to me last week. “It explains itself better than I can.” Jones sent data from his Google Analytics account showing that unique visitors to his website doubles on days when he uses the wealth management content stream provided by Advisor Products.


Advisor Products released Social Media Content Stream For Advisors to beta testers eight weeks ago. It automatically posts status updates (also called “tweets”) to an advisor’s social networks. The 140-character updates link to wealth management articles and videos created by Advisor Products and posted to an advisor’s website. When your social connections see a status update in which they’re interested, they can click on a link embedded in the status update and it takes them to your website to read the full article.

Social Media Content Stream For Advisors is administered using a social media dashboard. The dashboard lets you schedule your tweets. So you can long in once a week or once a month and schedule all your tweets to be posted once a day. You can also rewrite the tweets and target them to your local market or niches, which will help with search engine optimization. Alternatively, you can your dashboard settings can automatically post your status updates and run on “autopilot.”

If you are an Advisor Products Platinum client, Social Media Content Stream For Advisors is free. Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to turn on your social media dashboard. You can add archiving of all your social media content for $348 annually by taking advantage of our partnership with Erado.

 

 
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Making Your Client Portal Compelling And Easy For Clients


Advisor Products has nearly five years of experience in developing client portals and provides secure portals to more than 45,000 clients of RIAs.

The key to success, we’ve learned, is in making it easy on clients.

By automatically notifying a client whenever their advisor uploads a document, AdvisorVault puts an unprecedented amount of personal financial information at your clients’ fingertips.

You’re not sending clients “canned” information. It’s about their accounts, their wealth. Clients care about that.

Your clients are not morons. They know AdvisorVault notifications provide important and personal financial information. Some clients check data daily, but most check it once a month or less.

Knowing the information is there is what’s important to clients.

Telling clients the information will always be there is good marketing for advisors.


Email Module


To notify clients when new personal information becomes available, AdvisorVault’s email communication module makes it easy to create “template emails.”

Template emails generated in AdvisorVault include your logo and come from your personal email address. They are captured by your email archive system.

The body of the text of template emails in AdvisorVault is personalized. John Smith gets a “Dear John Smith” email with a personalized URL to log into his personal portal.



The screenshot above shows 16 template emails included with AdvisorVault, covering the most common activities of advisors using client vaults. For example, when an advisor uploads a document, the email at the top of the list, “Advisor Document Upload,” can be sent automatically.



Setting up an automatic email notification is easy for an advisor. In the screenshot above, each of the email templates checked off will be sent automatically. Whenever you add a new client vault or reset a client’s password, for example, a template email can be sent automatically.

Template emails can be sent in batch or one at a time. If you change all of your clients’ passwords or upload a document for all of your clients, for instance, all of them can be sent an email notification.

Also you can create your own template emails. If you batch upload clients’ brokerage statements, for example, you can write an email and that will be automatically sent. The email is short but personal.

Marketing Advantage

While unbridled transparency may not fit your style currently, those who practice this way are likely to find the transparency a marketing advantage. Plus it’s the right thing to do.

This is where the world is headed. Full-disclosure is your friend. It’s what fiduciaries do.

You can be the guy who makes information available to clients over the Web. Or not.

If not, those who do embrace transparency this way will be happy to compete against you.

Client portals offered by advisors are not consumer apps. They’re made for advisor clients. Email templates is just one feature of many enabled by AdvisorVault that advisors won’t get from consumer apps like Dropbox and FileShare, which are being promoted by some consultants who don’t have our experience.

Data from portfolio management, CRM, and professional applications can’t be found in consumers apps. With 50 million users, integration with your PMS system is not a high priority to DropBox. It is a high priority in AdvisorVault.

Batch Process Any File

AdvisorVault recently launched an app that lets you batch process any file you get in a batch. If you get 1099s, brokerage statements, tax returns, or any other documents in batch, you can batch upload them to AdvisorVault.

For Methodical Advisors Only

AdvisorVault is not for everyone. Advisors who do not want to share information with clients won’t like it. Advisors who won’t follow through with setting up clients with vaults and using template emails are also not well suited for it. It’s only for advisors with an attention span long enough to facilitate following through with a plan.

Coming Soon

AdvisorVault is continuously evolving. New features we’re planning to deliver in the next 12 months will allow you to deliver clients your Form ADV, provide “star” reports on mutual funds, and enable clients to sign account documents digitally.  In addition, we plan to be enable delivery of personalized news in a client’s vault so you can address behavioral finance issues in times of volatility. We also plan to integrate with consumer vault systems like AdvisorVault so advisors can easily move documents from the most popular consumer apps to AdvisorVault’s app for professionals.
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How An RIA With $1.6 Billion AUM And Serving As A Multi-Family Office Uses Advisor Products Client Vault

After 25 years as a hand surgeon, Dr. Bob Tucker left his position as medical director of a large orthopedic group in St. Louis in 2006 to become a financial advisor. Tucker joined Plancorp, an RIA in St. Louis with $1.6 billion AUM founded by Jeff Buckner. Buckner, a co-founder of Zero Alpha Group, a network of nine RIAs managing about $9 billion, gave Tucker oversight of operations, drawing on his experience in running a medical practice.

In October 2010, Plancorp selected AdvisorVault as its client portal platform. Plancorp, which uses Schwab PortfolioCenter for portfolio management and reporting, uploads client data daily to AdvisorVault.

“There were some technology issues initially, but they’ve been resolved, says Tucker. “Our clients do like it and we like it.”

Tucker says it takes about 15 minutes a day for staffer to upload the portfolio data. “Every client’s vault is branded to Plancorp, and we like that,” says Tucker. “We also like the fact that we are presenting clients with HTML reports and not just PDFs.”

AdvisorVault, like many client portfolio reporting solutions, allows RIAs to prepare PDF reports. The HTML reports use the Web medium better, allowing an RIA to present links to securities with Podcasts, news and other data. In addition, HTML reports are interactive allowing clients to export tables to Excel, reorder a report by clicking on a column heading, drill down into links to individual tax lots, and more.

Plancorp inserts a disclosure that all its clients must view before accessing reports in AdvisorVault.

Tucker says the firm recently added AdvisorVault’s integration with TD Ameritrade Institutional, which is free with AdvisorVault. TD Ameritrade Institutional integration with AdvisorVault allows RIAs to provide their clients with access to TDAI account data daily from the RIA’s website instead of directing clients to the TDAI Veo advisor-client website.

RIAs can see reports on which clients are logging into AdvisorVault to check account values and which documents are viewed. In addition, RIAs can post content that all clients will see before accessing account statements, enabling advisors to address behavioral finance issues in times of volatility.

While an operations staffer is charged with uploads of daily performance data, Tucker says financial planning associates are responsible for uploading other wealth management documents for clients. As a service to clients, Plancorp offers to post estate documents, tax returns, health care proxies, passports and more. Tucker says that although not all clients “recognize the value of having those documents available from any internet connection, a number have posted their own documents.”

Tucker says use of the vault by client is not correlated with age. “It’s more highly correlated with how obsessive the client is and whether they see the value in having documents in a place where they are safe and accessible. I don’t know that they’re interested in technology as much as the benefit.”

Attorneys, accountants, and other allied professionals are provided vault access, Tucker says. “We have created vaults for key professionals with whom we share a lot of data.” Tucker says Plancorp has relationships with several accounting firms with mutual clients, and professionals at those firms are given access to their clients’ documents.

“Another situation is a family office, where we give the outside professionals access to certain parts of the vault,” he says. “Plancorp provides the family office, but if the family has attorneys and accountants, we’ve structured vault access so that those professionals can get access to some documents.”

Tucker cited the case of a family matriarch who gets access to everything in her family vault, but her children get access that is “somewhat limited.” “Anything we can do to strengthen the relationship with next generation is done” using AdvisorVault, says Tucker.

Advisor Products is proud to have Plancorp using its secure client portal systems.

 

 

 
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How A Sole Practitioner Is Scaling His RIA With Client Portals

With a background as an industrial engineer, CFP® Rick Epple says he realized in December 2008 that he needed to radically shift the way he managed his practice. “After the market crash in October 2008, I thought to myself that I could not do this anymore,” says the founder of Epple Financial in Wayzata, Minn. “With all the time it took to reassure clients, the fact that my technology systems did not talk to each other made it difficult to quickly get information and communicate.”

“I took a step back and asked myself what my vision was for my practice, and it was clear that I had to automate more,” Epple says, “I needed a system where I did not have to spend as much time accessing client data, where information would be at my fingertips and my clients’ fingertips.”

In early 2009, Epple decided to make the Client Portal his platform for secure client communication. He made the decision because of Client Portal’s interface with Redtail CRM. After further research, Epple selected AssetBook as his firm’s portfolio management accounting application, largely because of its integration with the Advisor Products Client Portal. He chose MoneyGuide Pro as his financial planning solution because it, too, was integrated with the Client Portal from Advisor Products.

“Changing everything was not an easy process,” says Epple. “You don’t have to be an industrial engineer to do it, but you need to make the time and financial commitment to transfer to new systems. You must be able to handle change and follow through on your plans.”

By July 2010, Epple says all of his practice management systems were running smoothly and he was ready to start marketing and scaling up.  “The benefit were not evident until early 2011,” he says. That year, Epple says his fee-only firm’s assets under management rose more than 40% from $26 million to $37 million. By the end of the first quarter of 2012, Epple Financial Advisors was at $42 million in AUM.

“It took me from working in the business to working on the business,” says Epple, who added 13 new clients and is now focused more on working with dentists and business owners in the Lake Minnetonka area near Minneapolis, Minn.

According to Epple, once AssetBook, MoneyGuide Pro, and Redtail were set up to feed client data into each client’s portal, the benefits of the automation kicks in. “The difficult part of the shift is not the Client Portal,” says Epple, “It’s switching over client data and then learning use new tools for performance reporting, financial planning and client relationship management.”

Epple says a virtual assistant sets up a portal and vault for each new client. The portal automatically generates email notifications to clients and forces them to create “strong” passwords. “It’s a user-friendly system and it does not take a lot of work to implement,” Epple says.

Some clients log into their portals daily to check their performance of their portfolios, which Epple says “does make me a bit nervous.” However, he says they are also looking at the same time at performance of their financial plan’s performance, which puts portfolio performance in perspective. On average, Epple says his 37 clients check their portal once a month.

A feature in the client portal that Epple is using extensively allows him to assign to-dos to clients. Epple creates a to-do in Redtail’s CRM and checks a box to automatically push it into a client’s portal. Clients receive an email telling them to log into their portals whenever they are assigned a to-do.

“I love the fact that my notes ion my CRM regarding a to-do for a client is exactly the same as what the client sees,” Epple says. “I don’t have copy and paste and it’s really easy.”

Epple says he meets with three times in the first four months of every new client-relationship. In that period, a series of “standard” to-dos are assigned to clients, such as getting their latest tax returns from their accountants. Other to-dos are more personalized. “Right now I am looking at whether a client should refinance the mortgage on a vacation home and communicating the personal information involved using the client portal and vault,” he says.

Epple says clients must have a “comfort level with technology” to use the portal. “But I have clients who are retirees and barely know how to use a computer but love the client portal and think it’s cool,” Epple says.

 
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Tooting Your Own Horn Versus Telling Stories About How You Help People

Bob Powell, in his post today on A4A about advisors using social media, says he does not like advisors tweeting about calling the last market top correctly. I agree. Apart from raising compliance issues, most investors would doubt your ability to call every market turn. However, it is good to tell stories about clients you help. For example, let me tell you about a client of mine that I just spoke with.

His name is Adam Wright. After graduating from Penn State with a degree in supply chain management and working in the field for five years, Adam joined his mother, Kathleen Wright, and her partner, Greg Lintner at Wright Associates. Kathleen and Greg are both Chartered Financial Analysts and manage about $100 million for wealthy individuals.

Adam says he was referred to Advisor Products by a Schwab Institutional relationship manager. Advisor Products was one of several firms Schwab mentioned that builds sites for RIAs, and Adam narrowed the list down to Advisor Products because of our online portfolio reporting solution that is integrated with Schwab PortfolioCenter.

Adam, who says he enjoys technology, says he wanted to start with a simple site. Nothing too fancy.

“Because this was our first foray into the Web, we wanted something cost-effective,” he says. “Advisor Products had the simple template we wanted, while other companies we looked at were much more expensive and complicated. This was easy.”

Adam started the site development process with Advisor Products on April 18 and the RIA’s website went live on May 18.

“Your staff was proactive and energetic about getting our site built,” Adam says, adding that his calls and emails were returned promptly. “But the most important thing that I appreciated about working with Advisor Products was that we were able to delegate design decisions to you. We are process and finance people and did not want to have to make graphic design decisions.”

While I personally would like to see every one of our website clients get the snazziest graphics and get involved with their firm's graphic design, the Wright solution was a simple one and the firm is happy with it, which is what counts. They address search engine optimization and copywriting and incorporating their processes into AdvisorVault in the months ahead.

Point is, advisors don’t need to claim to have called every market turn in their status updates or blog posts. Just tell stories  in your blog about how you help people in your practice every day.

 
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SlideShare Remains The No. 1 Content Marketing App For RIAs; Brainshark Overpriced

Brainshark Pro Prices
SlideShare is still the best slideshow app for small businesses. Brainshark has more features but it's too expensive for most RIAs.

If you’re an advisor and you want to generate sales leads online, the content marketing apps you use for posting should meet the following requirements:

  • Shareable. You want to post your content so it will be easy for people who see your ideas to share them with their social networks on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

  • Embeddable. You (and your connections) must be able to embed your content on their websites.

  • Displayed On All Devices. You want to post so can it to be viewed on all types of devices — smartphones, desktops, and tablets — and on all operating systems, iOS, Android, and Windows.

  • Trackable. You must be able to see how many hits you get.

  • Lead-Generating. You want to be able to generate sales leads from your content.


Before I tell you what to do with your marketing, please allow me to introduce myself. Unlike many “social media experts” giving advice to advisors on the Internet, I actually do this stuff. Advisor Products over the past three years posted 90 videos to its YouTube Channel and 25 “slidecasts” to its SlideShare channel. (Slidecasting is when you upload a PowerPoint slideshow and then an MP3 narration. SlideShare and Brainshark allow you to synchronize a narration with a slideshow.)

Amazingly, slidecasts have generated nine times as many views for Advisor Products as YouTube videos.

In fairness to YouTube, I put a lot more thought into the slidecasts than most of those videos. But I do believe slidecasting is a better online communication medium than video for advisors, or any business for that matter.

That’s because the focus of creating a slidecast is not lights, camera, and your actions. Slidecasting entails a deliberate act of communication of solely focused on explaining ideas — substance not form. To be sure, you could make a video that’s as compelling as a slidecast. In fact, video is a more personal medium because it shows you speaking into a camera and the camera doesn’t lie about you. However, making video that’s as effective as a slidecast requires expending the same effort at researching and explaining ideas, but it then adds the complexity of making a video, which is more complicated than making a narration.

Slidecasts are also better than video on the Web because the slides can contain links. As Marshal McLuhan would say, it is a “hot” medium — arguably hotter on the Internet than video.

SlideShare is not the only app for sharing PowerPoint presentations, of course. It’s biggest competitor in slidecasting is Brainshark.

Brainshark has more features. Brainshark’s main advantage over SlideShare is that you can view Brainshark presentations on the iPad. You can’t view slidecasts on an iPad or other mobile devices, which really is bad. But when you look at the cost of Brainshark, you’ll probably find the price difference unacceptable -- especially since its main advantage will be short-lived.

Aptly named, Brainshark shrewdly hides its pricing plans to sucker you into trying the app. You cannot see Brainshark’s pricing until after you sign up for a trial version. For a social media marketing tool to use such old school, hide-the-facts marketing indicates something is wrong at Brainshark. I posted a screenshot of Brainshark's pricing below.


Brainshark Pro lures you with by advertising a price plan starting at $9.99 monthly. But sign up for the demo, you learn that that’s $9.99 monthly per slideshow. In other words, if I posted my 25 slidecasts on SlideShare at Brainshark, it would cost $7.99 each per month — $199.75 monthly. With a price plan that’s paid once a year, Brainshark would cost me $1400 a year. At SlideShare, a Gold annual plan for $432.58 a year allows upload up to 20 presentations per month. Bottom line: SlideShare costs me $967.32 a year less than Brainshark!

In addition, HTML5 enables slidecasts to be played on iPads, so it’s only a matter of months before Slideshare crushes Brainshark  by converting all of its slidecasts to HTML5 to make them viewable on any mobile device. Slideshare was purchased recently by LinkedIn.

By the way, I tried contacting Brainshark's CEO and founder, Joe Gustafson, and Andy Zimmerman, Brainshark's CMO, two weeks before writing this post by connecting with  them on LinkedIn. Gustafson looked at my profile but never accepted the connection. Neither did Zimmerman. Again, not impressive for a social marketing company.

What's the bottom line?  Here are some practical tips, including a slidecast:


  • The Advisor Products BackOffice content management system allows you to embed any slide show you create on these platforms on your blog. In fact, you don’t need to write anything except a title for your slidecast and you can make one of these presentations a blog entry. Just call the service desk if you need help (888-274-5755).



  • For search engine optimization and niche marketing, it’s wise to target slidecasts to your ideal clients: doctors in Duluth, IBM employees Westchester, N.Y. with deferred compensation plans, retired professors at Arizona State University.



  • Keep slidecasts short, no more than three minutes. Write three to six sentences, five to 20 words in length, about each slide. I made a slidecast showing how you can use PowerPoint’s “Presenter View” to write your script for each slide.




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Timely Technology Questions And Answers For RIAs


  • Do you have a reliable way to archive and retrieve emails if you’re inspected?

  • Do you systematically archive all your firm’s social media content?

  • Is your practice using cloud-based vesions of Microsoft Office or Google Apps?

  • Can you batch process and deliver any type of document to clients securely?

  • Can you stream financial news to your social networks?


If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” please join us Thursday at 4 p.m. EST for a webinar with better answers.

Advisor Products has been in business since 1996 but solutions we’re launching now are more helpful than ever.

Our unrelenting focus on client communications for RIAs makes us unique and more valuable than ever to investment advisors.

What we are doing is high quality, priced well, and  good for RIAs.

Feedback from our clients is very positive these days because our service team is stronger, but these new solutions will add to our already-strong platform.
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4329 Hits

Two Minute Video Shows Social Media Content Stream For Financial Advisors

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4370 Hits

Erado, An Advisor Products Compliance Partner, Named To Gartner's "Cool Vendor" List


You just don’t see vendors to advisors get named to Gartner’s list of “cool vendors.” Sorry, I know RIAs think they are really a big deal but in the enterprise world covered by Gartner, the RIA segment of the financial services industry just does not matter much.

So when Craig Brauff, founder and CEO of Erado Message Control Solutions, an email and social media compliance solution, sent me a copy of Gartner’s research naming his company a “cool vendor” today, I was thrilled.

Erado was on my radar screen for the last few years but did not get on my personal list of “cool vendors” until about three months ago, when Brauff came to visit me here in Long Island.

Brauff is an economist who taught himself programming. In his early 50s now, he’s an entrepreneur with a track record of success.  He’s a hands on guy, totally obsessed with doing great work. For instance, Brauff built his own data center because he decided that was a requirement for building a world-class advisor compliance business.

With an intensity that matches my own, Brauff and I are kindred spirits. When we sat down together in my home office after dinner one evening and got to know each other, we almost immediately became excited about one another’s work.

Erado was making technology simpler for advisors. For example, other social media compliance vendors had created proxies for logging into social networks. Big social media vendors have been requiring that advisors log into a compliant version of Linkedin, Facebook, or Twitter and use that to post content to their social networks. That means those other vendors have to support software proxies for smartphones, desktops , tablets, Androids, Macs, and PCs. I have learned from personal experience that ths is a bad approach.

Erado’s approach is different. It does not create a proxy to log into social networks in order to enforce compliance. It rids advisors of the need to use a proxy. Erado capture what is posted and turns it into an email where it can be reviewed by compliance officers and archived. Brauff went in a different direction from most vendors gaining momentum with enterprises. And it has paid off.

Gartner’s recognition is fantastic but the real recognition that Erado is doing something better it that its systems are getting adopted by large institutions. Erado now provides email and social media archiving for tens of thousands of advisors, and it is the compliance vendor chosen by many large BDs, including LPL Financial.

When Brauff told me about his ideas for advisor email and social media compliance three months ago, I knew right away that Erado was a cool vendor. But what was really cool is that Brauff felt the same way about Advisor Products!

I showed Brauff how the Financial Advisor Social Media Content Stream from Advisor Products would work. (It just went live recently and we are looking for beta testers.) Brauff got it. While other vendors offered content, Brauff on the spot that evening validated that what Advisor Products is doing would be better.  Advisor Products, Brauff understood, was dong something really cool!

It was at that moment when we decided Erado and Advisor Products would work together.

In a few days, Advisor Products and Erado will start providing RIAs with Erado compliance solutions — email archiving and encryption as well as social media archiving.

The price will be 20% below what Erado charges RIAs for its compliance solutions. Erado is treating Advisor Products like a large enterprise buyer and Advisor Products is passing on the savings to RIAs.

RIAs will be able to buy cloud solutions for Office 365 and Google Apps bundled with email and social media compliance.

Advisor Products has been in search of a compliance vendor that could meet the needs of RIAs for about five years. But Erado really is a cool vendor and that’s why we chose Erado.

Congratulations Craig!
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Seeking Beta Testers For Financial Advisor Social Media Content Stream

Tonight, at long last, we’re going live with a financial advisor social media dashboard (SMD.

People who have seen SMD say it’s like HooteSuite for advisors.

We create content — articles and videos — and we write three status updates (tweets) about each topic. You use SMD to send your tweets.

SMD is an ingenuous way for a wealth manager to post updates to social networks once a day on topics high-net-worth individuals need to know about: how the improving financial condition of state governments might affect muni bonds, utilizing “stretch” IRAs, how not to spoil their kids, and asset protection strategies for doctors.

The beauty of the SMD is that Advisor Products does the heavy lifting by writing about these strategies authoritatively. All you do is rewrite the tweets we provide to target it to you social networks.

The SMD is included free with all Platinum-licensed websites. You can add the social media content stream and our content to any website for $1337 annually.

If you’re interested in becoming a beta tester, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let us know.

 
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4385 Hits

RIA Best Practices In Using Consumer File Sharing Apps

The ease of use of consumer file sharing apps like Dropbox and Box makes them so convenient, but advisors must be thoughtful about using consumer file-sharing apps in their practice.

Dropbox and Box are best-in-class file sharing apps, but they are not built expressly for investment advisors.

I recently interviewed Chris Winn, founder of AdvisorAssist, a leading operations and compliance consultancy, about use of Dropbox and other consumer file-sharing apps by RIAs and registered reps. I honestly did not know where Winn was going to come out on this issue. His response is important because investment advisors are obliged legally to take care with a client’s personally identifiable information. Liability and regulatory issues are involved, and Winn is an independent expert.

To hear Winn advise against using Dropbox and other file sharing consumer apps with clients in favor of a system like AdvisorVault validated my thoughts in creating a secure client communications portal to meet the specific needs of RIAs.

Informed by Winn's comments, here are a few of the issues advisors must consider as consumer file-sharing apps grow in popularity with consumers:

Compliance-Configuration. Dropbox, Google Docs, and other file sharing apps may have the features necessary to enable a configuration that forces prudent practices by clients. For example, clients sharing documents with you should be forced to create create password at least eight characters in length (preferably 10) and that use at least one non-alphanumeric and one upper-case character. But you must configure consumer apps to enforce such policies.

Internal Versus External. Winn says using Dropbox and other consumer file-sharing apps are okay for use with staff but not with other professionals or clients. If a client is using his own Dropbox account with you, you do not control the security policies of the client or outside professional.

Fast And Easy But Not Carefree. The near-instant access ease of file sharing apps makes it easy to give little thought to security. Yet people are posting personally identifiable data in many places more often.
Supporting Consumer Apps. Advisors who do not create their own dedicated client portal will find that their clients have done so and that it is scattered across the World Wide Web, which means advisors will often find themselves supporting an array of file-sharing apps. Instead of spending quality time with clients, you spend time time supporting clients with tech problems.

One Client Portal. Unless you do it for them, your clients over the next few years are probably going to create their own online vaults. You’ll have lost the opportunity to organize your clients’ personal financial information on your firm’s website.

Winn and I have collaborated together on A4A webinars and other projects for nearly three years, but he never brings up solutions made by Advisor Products and I’ve never asked him to do so. In this instance, however, the growing popularity of online file-sharing apps made the question inevitable and his answer important.
The three-minute video below is actually a short snippet from a longer interview with Winn posted to Advisors4Advisors. Because Winn spoke about Dropbox versus a solution from Advisor Products — AdvisorVault — I removed this portion of the video from A4A and  posted it here because it’s basically an endorsement of AdvisorVault. However, getting an endorsement from an independent  compliance consultant I really respect makes me proud.
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4684 Hits

AdvisorVault For iPad

With more advisors and their clients using the iPad to access to the Web, it’s good to know the popular tablet is compatible with AdvisorVault.

With an iPad you touch any folder icon to drill into a folder or touch any document to pop it open.

AdvisorVault's dynamic HTML reports, which work with Schwab PortfolioCenter, Advent Axyx, AssetBook, Orion, Albridge, TD Ameritrade VEO, and other systems, look great on the iPad. Ticker symbols in performance reports can be opened by touching them and you can navigate across the reports.

Clients and collaboration partners, whether they're on an iPad, iPhone, or Android device can view files securely in AdvisorVault.

With clients increasingly using Web-based file storage systems like DropBox, establishing a client financial portal that you can brand and control is wise. It will be compliant, integrated with professional systems, and include the security features needed investment advisors. And it's compatible with the latest mobile devices used by you and your clients.

AdvisorVault For iPad
View more presentations from Advisor Products


 

 
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4613 Hits

Naysayers “Stunned” By Strengthening American Economy, Says Investment Strategist Fritz Meyer


Financial economist Fritz Meyer yesterday showed RIAs evidence that the American economy is showing surprising signs of strength. “The naysayers are stunned,”  Meyer said yesterday in his monthly economic research release.

About 30% of the investment advisors who attended yesterday’s session rated Meyer’s presentation with 4.56 on A4A’s five-star review system.

I've produced more than 200 webinars over the past three years. For any speaker month after month to receive such high ratings from our audience of curmudgeons is unprecedented. Below are all of the comments from advisors who attended yesterday’s session.

You can subscribe to Fritz Meyer’s monthly slide presentations for $300 a year. After hearing Fritz deliver the presentation, you can use the slides to create your own webinars, seminars blog posts, newsletters, Slidecasts, and social media content.(If you are an A4A member, you can replay Fritz’s webinar 24/7 and get CFP CE credit for it for free.)

Using Fritz Meyer’s research as the basis for your own content can be crucial to successful search engine optimization and social networking. By writing a blog, posting a webinar or tweeting about Fritz’s slides, you can personalize and put your own unique spin on economic and investment topics, demonstrating your expertise. And you can target the content to your niches—doctors in Jacksonville, Florida, airline pilots, or other clients that would be “ideal” for you.

However, if you’re too busy to create your own content consistently, Advisor Products provides you with a social media content stream.

Articles we write about the highlights of Fritz’s monthly presentation are posted to your website along with two-minute videos of Fritz making a point. Those timely articles and videos are FINRA-reviewed and can be shown to clients and prospects.  We also write three tweets about each article, and you use our Social Media Dashboard to rewrite the tweets, and personalize to your target market, and distribute the tweets to your social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You can schedule personalized tweets to go out daily for the next month based on our articles or automate the entire process.

You can add our content to any existing website for $1,337 annually, and that includes the social media content stream. If you want AdvisorVault for secure client portals, eight hours of service from our help desk, website archiving, and additional content, it costs $2,337 annually.

In addition to Fritz Meyer’s research about the economy, we are offering the same content services for advisors who need content about tax and estate planning and IRAs for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and ultra-HNWIs, via a partnership Keebler Tax And Wealth Education.

 

  • Excellent.  Will attend next month.

  • Good info, but lengthy.

  • Overall it was interesting and very worthwhile.  As a non-economist some of it made my head spin (just a little) but the content was something that we think we can use and adapt for our clients.

  • Some problems with the audio.

  • As usual; great data point checks from Fritz; puts economy in perspective

  • Fritz is incredible. Need to listen to again and again.

  • Good insights.  I like that Fritz shook it up a bit from the past few months. For the first time, I noticed some technical difficulties (besides the other voice on the call early on).  The audio froze for a second or two throughout the presentation, usually accompanied by a slight buzzing sound.  I don't think there was an issue on my end, so just an FYI.

  • great info as always; sound quality was a little iffy on this one (but may be an issue on my end)

  • Excellent as always.

  • As always: excellent. Very timely, pertinent and useful.

  • Thanks Andy.

  • Very glitchy this time around. Could just be my system, though.

  • Great timely information as usual!

  • Fritz is always on target and relevant. Thank you!

  • Another solid webinar. Paints an improving short term picture while cognizant of long term obstacles.

  • Excellent content for advisors.  I'm not sure that many clients would be interested in sitting through a one-hour presentation of this type, so it would clearly have to be condensed or, perhaps, broken into several 10 - 15 minute presentations.

  • Would like an expanded global orientation

  • Excellent presentation

  • Really great!  Confirms what we have been advising clients.

  • Very good.  Thank you.

  • My memory says I subscribed at a much higher price.  Can I receive a credit for this?  Thanks.  I will look up proof of purchase if needed.

  • Great update!


 
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Add Wealth Management Content And A Social Stream To Any Advisor Website

If you already have a website, you can now add Advisor Products articles and videos for high-net-worth individuals to it and get our stream of social media status updates for $1,337 annually, plus a set-up fee of $300.

Many advisors develop a website on WordPress or some other free or inexpensive content management and hosting service.

They do it figuring they don’t need wealth management content on their website or they are planning to create their own articles and videos. They learn that producing website content is not only important to a financial advisor but difficult to produce.

We provide a great solution.  Advisor Products content addresses issues that will help you retain clients and market to prospects. Here’s how:

Panic Protection. After the stock market declines by 10% or more, you receive a special edition of articles and videos. This content reinforces the need to retain a long-term investment perspective in times of market volatility.

Social. Our $1,337 content-only package includes our social media dashboard, which lets you send, edit, and schedule status updates (tweets) to your social networks. Each tweet links back to the full aticle.

Fritz Meyer. Financial economist Fritz Meyer gets rave reviews from investment advisors for his analysis of fundamentals driving investment markets. We write articles monthly explaining the latest trends Meyer is focusing on.

Bob Keebler. Bob Keebler is one of the nation’s leading experts on IRA, estate, and income tax strategies and we write articles monthly to introduce his ideas concisely and simply to clients and prospects.

Videos. Meyer and Keebler provide monthly webinars offering you professional continuing education credit that you can attend for free. We edit their webinars into two-minute highlight clips that accompany our articles.

Automated. Once you are set up to display our content on your website, your website can be automatically updated with new content monthly. (Or you can select your stories monthly.) The social media can also automate sending tweets.

FINRA-Reviewed. All of our articles, tweets, and videos are FINRA-reviewed before they are posted for use on your website. (However, panic protection articles are sent to you via email before review by FINRA for timeliness.)

Setting up your website to include Advisor Products articles and videos is simple. We provide documentation for our application programming interface with example code. A web developer can add our content to any website in two and six hours, depending on your site and developer.

If you want us to host your site, you get AdvisorVault, six hours of service from our help desk, and much more for $2,377 with our AdvisorSites Platinum.
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Retain Clients And Market To Prospects Using The Latest Technology And Content Marketing Techniques

Don’t let the low price fool you. Advisor Products technology and content marketing system is cutting-edge and very powerful, and enables advisors to create a stream of status updates about wealth management that can easily be personalized and shared on social networks.

Our system and our content is different from anything else out there and helps wealth managers retain clients and market to prospects. Here’s how:

Panic Protection. After the stock market declines by 10% or more, you receive a special edition of articles and videos. This content reinforces the need to retain a long-term investment perspective in times of market volatility.

Investment News. Financial economist Fritz Meyer gets rave reviews from investment advisors for his analysis of fundamentals driving investment markets. We provide articles monthly explaining the latest trends Meyer is focusing on.

Wealth Management News. Bob Keebler is one of the nation’s leading experts on IRA, estate, and income tax strategies. Based on his research, we write articles monthly to introduce his ideas concisely and simply to clients and prospects.

Videos. Meyer and Keebler provide monthly webinars offering you professional continuing education credit that you can attend for free. We edit their webinars into two-minute highlight clips that accompany our articles.

Easy. Once you are set up to display our content on your website, your website can be automatically updated with new content monthly. (Or you can select your stories monthly.)

FINRA-Reviewed. All of our articles and videos are FINRA-reviewed before they are posted for use on your website. (However, panic protection articles are sent to you via email before review by FINRA for timeliness.)

Social. You get a social stream about wealth management — status updates that we write and you can edit and share with your social networks — that link back to articles and videos on your website.

All of the features described here -- plus a lot more -- are are part of AdvisorSites Platinum, which costs $2,337 and includes AdvisorVault.

I’m hosting a webinar Thursday, March 8 at 4 p.m. ET to explain how wealth managers can use our innovative system for content marketing and secure client communications.

 

 
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4254 Hits

AdvisorVault Desktop Connector In General Release

Download AdvisorVault Desktop Connector
AdvisorVault Desktop Connector has moved to general release. Advisors and support staff at the 750 firms using AdvisorVault for secure client communications are invited to download the app.

To download AdvisorVault Desktop Connector, log in to the AdvisorSitesBackOffice and click on the “Get Desktop Connector” button on the left-side navigation menu.  You’ll find the download link as well as an FAQ and an AVDC manual.

AdvisorVault Desktop Connector puts all of your client vaults on your desktop in a familiar Windows Explorer-style interface.  You no longer need to open a browser, log in to AdvisorVault, and browse to client folders to upload documents to a client’s vault, enhancing usability significantly.

AdvisorVault Desktop Connector is similar to desktop apps from web-based document storage apps like DropBox. The big difference is AdvisorVault is created exclusively for financial advisors. It is integrated with popular portfolio management systems used by advisors and contains communication features and workflows advisors need to support communication with clients and collaboration with accountants and attorneys. Plus, it meets security and compliance requirements of major broker-dealers and custodians.

 
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Archive

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Questions?

How and why does the Advisor Products system work?

In today’s times, when consumers have become more demanding and tech-savvy, financial advisors must use content marketing to attract, inspire, engage, and convert their prospective customers.

A good content strategy is focused on developing and distributing consistent, valuable content to engage and retain prospective customers and target audience, via your website. Our content library provides financial advisors with fresh, high-quality financial content that is updated regularly, improving SEO along the way. And our automated e-newsletter and social media tools allow advisors to reach out to clients and prospects in an easy-to-use manner, providing frequent touch points for optimal brand building.

  • Differentiate you from competitors
  • Expose clients and prospects to your brand message more frequently
  • Build an ongoing relationship with customers
  • Increase your follows and fans on social media
  • Drive more prospects to your website
  • Help convert prospects into leads
  • Increase number of pages indexed in Google
Please fill the required field.
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Seeing is Believing.

See how easy it is to get started with our all-in-one digital marketing platform that drives leads, encourages referrals and increases client engagement.

 

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