Advisor Blog

Video Explosion



Everyone knows that TV and the Web are melding. Videos are increasingly being used on the Web. comScore.com yesterday reported that U.S. Internet users viewed 12.7 billion online videos in November 2008, a 34% increase over the same time a year earlier. On YouTube this past November, 5.1 billion videos were viewed; more than 146 million U.S. Internet users watched an average of 87 videos each, and the average online video viewer watched 273 minutes of video.



What’s really scary is that in my lifetime, we’ll probably be able to click on the couch that Oprah sits on and see its manufacturer and lowest price vendor. (My wife will bankrupt me!)

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Looking Back On 2008


2008 was not a good year for a lot people. For Advisor Products, however, it was a great year.



While the Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 32% and the Dow Jones Industrials fell 37%, Advisor Products showed double digit sales growth. Moreover, we streamlined processes and dramatically improved our client service. I hope you can learn about how to improve your business by looking back at our key accomplishments in 2008.

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Improving Efficiency Of Client Intake



The first time I saw a ticket kiosk at the airport, I was indignant. “How dare they make me ticket myself,” I thought. “Next thing you know, they’ll ask me to fly the damn plane!"



Soon enough, however, I tried the self-service ticketing machine. And guess what? I loved it! Now, when I walk into an airport without a self-service kiosk, I’m indignant. How dare they make me wait on a long line just to be ticketed!

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Putting The Macarena, Charles Barkley & 10-Year Stock Returns In Perspective

Hey Macarena!


Ten years ago, Will Smith was a rapper, Wikipedia did not exist, Charles Barkley—now running for Governor of Alabama—pleaded no-contest after allegedly throwing a bar patron through a plate-glass door, and many of us were still dancing the Macarena. A lot can happen in 10 years.



That’s why, in financial circles, 10 years means a lot. Ten-year returns have a ring of authority, bestowing an imprimatur of long-term success or failure on an investment manager or strategy. Ten years would seem to be long enough to smooth market bumps. It would seem to be long enough to include all kinds of weird market events. It would seem to be long enough to use as a predictor of future events.

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Surprise! Account Aggregation Works!



I’m shocked that it works so well, surprised it was not more complicated to set up, and amazed at how useful it is. I’ve got to admit that account aggregation from Advisor Exchange is good! It may even be on the way to becoming great!



The reason why I was so surprised is that account aggregation has taken so long to come of age that I began to think it might never really work. You see, when account aggregation first appeared a little over a decade ago, I was one of the first people to write about how great it was. I never thought it would take 10 years to get it right!

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5088 Hits

AdvisorVault 2.0 Is Hot

AdvisorVault Video


While the economy and stock market has been tanking, we have been experiencing one of the strongest growth spurts in our 12-year history. Much of the increased demand for our products can be traced to AdvisorVault 2.0, our new secure online vault platform that allows advisors to share documents with clients.



AdvisorVault is pretty much a no-brainer for advisors. AdvisorVault is less expensive than standalone online vault platforms marketed to advisory firms. Such standalone vaults are not integrated with a marketing website, website content, email newsletters system, and other features that we offer to help advisors market and communicate. Some standalone vault systems do offer many features that are valuable to advisors, but they don't provide the same value as AdvisorVault. They cost about the same or more than what we charge for a website packaged with AdvisorVault, and AdvisorVault offers all the same features or more than the standalone vault systems. Point is, even though other companies may specialize and sell nothing but an online vault, AdvisorVault works as well or better.

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5182 Hits

Thank You For Making My Life More Meaningful


In running Advisor Products Inc. for over 12 years, I’ve seen some wild market cycles. There was the roaring bull market of the mid-1990s, when large-cap growth stocks led the way for so long and by so much that some professional investors declared small-cap value stocks forever dead. Then, there was the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, followed by the dot-com bust of 2000, and the post-9/11 bear market. Then came the Bush bull market, which gave way in recent months to a collapse of confidence in America’s financial institutions and triggered a global economic crisis.



While I much prefer the ups to the downs, I have to admit to gaining some special satisfaction from this most recent flight from equities. It’s perhaps borne of the maturity that comes to us all in our 50s. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been through so many market crises since I began covering Wall Street in the mid-1980s at The New York Daily News that this meltdown is somehow easier to bear. For whatever the reason, Advisor Products was better prepared than ever to help advisors manage the financial crisis.

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4985 Hits

When A Rose Is Not A Rose



When writer Gertrude Stein said that “a rose is a rose is a rose,” she meant that things are what they are.



But sometimes that’s just plain untrue, as in the case of technology companies marketing client portals to advisors.

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4797 Hits

Reporting Performance Daily


An article in today's issue of Investment News, entitled "Performance Reporting Isn't Cutting It For Clients," contains some good points but also contains some confusing information.



The story is about how important it’s been for advisors to be able to post performance reports online daily. Since the market crisis erupted in early October, the need has become acute.

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4866 Hits

Advisors Eschewing Conventional Wisdom



During last Friday’s webinar with guest speakers Bill Bengen and Greg Brousseau, we conducted a series of polls. The results are surprising.



Based on answers to our polls, advisors are sticking with the traditional buy-and-hold asset allocation doctrine that has dominated the profession for two decades. Advisors say they have not reduced equity allocations. But they are looking for a less dogmatic approach. Here are the results of the poll from the webinar attended by about 120 advisors.

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Online Reporting For PortfolioCenter Moves Forward

Click For Large Screenshot of Online Reporting For PortfolioCenter


Beta testing of the Advisor Products Inc.'s (API) application for Online Reporting For PortfolioCenter has been a great success and we are now focused on improving web reporting for advisory firms using PortfolioCenter.



Beta testers gave API Online Reporting For PortfolioCenter rave reviews and some great suggestions for improving the application. Seven advisory firms participated in the beta test by uploading their client reports to our server, which successfully parsed client reports and deposited them into secure folders accessible to clients.

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Free Client Updates On Financial Crisis Daily


When the stock market plunged last week—bottoming with a loss of 40% from the all-time high reached October 9, 2007—we began a free service to help financial advisors manage client communications: a daily market update that you can copy, paste, and email to your clients.



The daily updates contain a summary of thoughtful stories covering the day’s events. These short takes on the financial tumult are intended to be used as a daily reminder to clients that you are in touch with them and on top of the situation.

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Why Do We Charge Less? Because We Can!




We recently found ourselves in a peculiar position. It happened when we launched dynamic online performance reporting for PortfolioCenter and a new online vault. Ironically, offering more features at lower prices than our competitors inspired skepticism. While advisors were thrilled to hear that we can save them money—especially since financial crisis has pummeled asset prices and, thus, advisory fees—their enthusiasm is tempered by suspicion.



Charging low prices raised a question in the minds of some advisors: If their firm for years had been paying twice as much for online reporting, why is Advisor Products charging so much less?

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Online Reporting For PortfolioCenter™ In Beta Test



If you’re one of the 3,400 advisory firms using Schwab PortfolioCenter™, we have some good news about sharing performance reports with your clients online. Online Reporting for PortfolioCenter, a new system now being beta tested by Advisor Products Inc. (API), is less costly, better designed, and easier to use than previous solutions for providing PortfolioCenter reports to clients online.



Online Reporting for PortfolioCenter costs about half as much as other such offerings, is built using a .NET framework with 256-bit encryption, and allows you to upload reports daily in just minutes. Online Reporting is simple:

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Tell Vendors What You Think About Integration





Financial advisors for years have clamored for an all-in-one solution combining portfolio management, customer relationship management, and financial planning software into a single platform. Combining these three functions, which are essential to any advisory firm that wants to adhere to best industry practices, has been an elusive goal. Years ago, I branded the long-sought breakthrough application “The Silver Bullet,” evoking the legendary powers of the only weapon capable of killing a werewolf.



But the all-in-one application has proved elusive. So persnickety is the typical independent advisor (IA), he couldn’t work for anyone but himself. That’s why he chose to be an independent advisor. No single application incorporating portfolio management software (PMS), financial planning software (FPS), and customer relationship management (CRM) could ever be widely adopted. Uncompromising entrepreneurs don’t want a Veg-O-Matic—the kitchen appliance that sliced, diced, broiled, and boiled. A Swiss-Army-knife approach would be unacceptable.

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5323 Hits

Albridge-Portals Alliance May Transform Financial Planning

Personal Portal Tour


The recent integration of Albridge Solutions’ portfolio performance reporting application and Advisor Products Inc.’s Personal Client Portals™ system makes any advisory firm more scalable, efficient, and client-centric. But what’s more exciting is that it will promote financial planning to millions of American households by making it easier for them to understand, measure, and manage their progress toward achieving long-term financial goals.



Since the early 1980s, thought leaders, professional membership associations, and governing bodies have strived to professionalize personal financial planning so it can be embraced by the mass affluent. The elusive but irresistible goal has been to deliver financial planning advice within a prescribed, systematic, and ethical framework to the masses. The challenge has been that providing financial planning services while adhering to best practices articulated by the FPA, CFP Board, NAPFA, Fiduciary 360, and other such groups is extremely labor intensive.

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Advisor Products Releases Interface For Black Diamond Reporting



Advisor Products added an interface for Black Diamond Reporting to its Personal Client Portal platform this past week, allowing financial advisors to securely stream holdings, asset allocation, and performance data to individual clients automatically daily. Using the latest technology for integration, an XML Web Service, the interface between Black Diamond and Advisor Products feeds each client of an advisor continuously updated performance reports with no work required by the advisor.



The Black Diamond report displayed on your clients’ Personal Client Portals has three tabs.

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An Entirely New Software Category For Advisors


If you’ve been yearning for a way to use the Internet more effectively with clients, check out our new Personal Client Portal platform. It fills a gap between your firm’s existing software applications and your clients. This is a new type of application, and there is nothing else like it.



Your financial planning, performance reporting, and customer relationship management applications are disconnected from your clients right now. Our new portal system bridges the gap between your applications and your clients.

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Why You’ll Want To Read This Blog


Writing The Gluck Report in Financial Advisor Magazine, I get to research topics I’ve been covering in for most of my 25 years as a reporter—wealth management strategies, financial planning software, advisor marketing, and just about anything else involving advisors. But what’s frustrating is that I don’t get to write about my company. And that’s why I’m hoping you’re going to want to read this blog.



Advisor Products, which I founded in 1996, has been pretty damn innovative. In 1996, we offered the first client newsletter that allowed advisors to pick every story. In 2001, we launched the first email-newsletter marketing system targeted to advisors. Last year, we rolled out the first 12-page template brochure ever offered to financial advisors. But not enough advisors ever get to know about most of our innovative work.

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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
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