LinkedIn Ninja, Crystal Thies, Receives A 4.9-Star Rating -- Highest In Memory -- For A Webinar Packed With Social Networking Best Practices For Advisors edit
Monday, July 28, 2014 11:54

Tags: client acquisition | client referrals | LinkedIn | marketing | prospecting

Crystal Thies, also known as the LinkedIn Ninja, "crushed it" at a webinar last Friday. Attendees gave Ms. Thies the highest average rating to be awarded any speaker in memory at the six-year-old A4A Webinar Series -- a 4.9 star rating!


You can read all about Crystal's highly-rated presentation below, but first I want to tell you about an exciting collaboration

that Crystal and I began in February 2014.


Like those who attended Crystal's webinar, six months ago I found myself admiring Crystal's Ninja skills and eagerly sought to work with her. For the last few months, we worked together closely and we've developed a trusting relationship. That partnership now means A4A members get cheap and easy access to Crystal's social media wisdom 24/7.


In addition, Crystal and her team now write This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . We're making a LinkedIn Ninja version of an advisor website. It's great.


Collaborating with Fritz Meyer and Bob Keebler for the last four years taught me how to work with Crystal, how to structure a deal where everyone involved wins. Adding Crystal's social networking know-how to A4A's lineup ensures A4A members receive authoritative advice on social media inexpensively -- a great value for any advisor's budget.


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And, if you want to get more ideas from Crystal, A4A members get Crystal's seven-hour video plus new tips for utilizing LinkedIn every quarter.


Finally, if you want to put Crystal's Ninja tactics to work for your firm, she and her team of Ninjas, writers trained in Crystal's techniques and certified as genuine Ninjas by Crystal, will write your social profiles, bios and services descriptions, as well as make the decisions on all of the nitty-gritty details, like which widgets to use on your website to display streams with your status updates, photos, investment graphics, email campaigns, website content, blog posts, and calls-to-action! That's a lot of information -- sorry -- but basically we're collaborating to tap Crystal's strength in social, SEO and online marketing, to integrate it all into a single comprehensive solution for RIAs.   


Just as A4A allows an advisor to outsource research about taxation to Bob Keebler and about investing to Fritz Meyer, my collaboration with Crystal gives A4A members access to her research and analysis about social networking, SEO copywriting, and content marketing through webinars. And you have the optoin of subscribing to her quarterly training. Meanwhile, opening up the Advisor Products website platform to Crystal's Ninjas is a great way to give Advisor Products clients a comprehensive online marketing solution integrated into advisor websites.


At the webinar session, Crystal gave step-by-step demonstrations of changes to make to your LinkedIn profile to improve chances of getting found on search engines. Ideas came in rapid fire, as did practical tips about how to use LinkedIn to obtain new clients by expanding your social network and connecting with people -- genuinely. 


LinkedIn is a powerful tool for finding prospective clients, but few financial advisors have taken advantage of its power. Thies, a former advisor, sees LinkedIn as a “treasure map” to valuable prospects. The founder and CEO of Crystal Clear Buzz LLC, Thies has the audacity to market herself as The LinkedIn Ninja, but she also has the chops to live up to her billing.


Thies, coauthor of The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisors: How to Use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to Build and Grow Your Business, will be conributing to Advisors4Advisors regularly. 


Subscribing to Crystal's quarterly Ninja tactics for LinkedIn also gives you access to Crystal's seven-hour training course, which is filled with tips guaranteed to help you utilize LinkedIn to connect with people who share your interests and passions. If you're not totally satisfied, you have 30-days to get a full refund -- no questions asked.


To get a clear understanding of the value of Crystal's ideas, view Crystal's very first webinar o A4A, a highly rated session in which Thies lists key elements of using LinkedIn strategically to locate and attract high-quality clients.


Super-High Rating And Positive Comments
Webinar viewers gave Crystal a sky-high average rating of 4.9. Here are some of their comments:
“Great presentation. Crystal had good energy and knows her material.”
“Very relevant, thank you. How do we sign up?”
“Good practical information. I picked up some good pointers that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Not sure I would want to have a regular monthly presentation on LinkedIn as often as is being done currently for Fritz, Bob K. or Craig Israelsen.”
“Really fantastic! How do we subscribe to her product?”
“An excellent overview of LInkedIn for RIAs.  It gave me a lot to think about.”
“Great session.”
“Best targeted presentation to date.”
“Very useful info!”
“The best Linkedin presentation I have seen. I will be watching it again.”
“The presentation is excellent!”
“Excellent overview, I will very likely consider the training program.”
“This webinar just wasn’t long enough for such great content! Looking forward to exploring further opportunities for education with A4A’s partnership with Crystal and Constant Contact.”
“Loved the explanation about the effects of commenting/liking/posting on LinkedIn.”
That really was “drinking from a firehose.”


Bob Keebler Says He Needs A Third 100-Minute Session To Explain 75 Ways To Generate Tax-Alpha edit
Friday, June 20, 2014 14:37

Bob Keebler called in today to say he needs a third 100-minute, two-CE credit session to explain how to generate tax-alpha. 

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Originally, Bob's session, "75 ways to Generate Tax Alpha," was going to be one session. Then, Bob told us he needed a lot more time, so we made it two sessions. A few days later, Bob said he would need to double the length of each session, so we did that and it meant the series would be worth a total of four continuing education credits. Now, Bob says he needs six hours and A4A members will get six credit for attending the series. 

You have to love Bob Keebler and what he is doing on Advisors4Advisors. He's not planning a session for an hour a month and making the content fit the allotted time; he is designing a professional education course to teach CFPs, CPAs, CIMAs, CPWAs, EAs, and state-licensed insurance professionals everything they need to know to advise clients competently on investing while applying a tax-efficient strategy.
Because A4A gives Bob total flexibility, he can expand the series by simply sending me an email. No corporate approval needed. It's Bob deciding. Moreover, Bob profits by making the sessions as useful to you as possible. It's win-win-win for him, A4A, and A4A members. This is evidence of divine inspiration. What we're doing is bigger than Bob or me.
Below is the invitation Bob and I wrote about next week's session.
Friday, June 27 at 4 p.m. Eastern
You must be a paying A4A member ($60 annually) to attend webinars, view replays 24/7, and receive CPA, CFP, EA, IMCA or state insurance department CE credit. Join


This is the second in a three-session series and each session qualifies for two CPE credits.
Tax increases underscore the importance of the bottom line for investors: It's not what you earn on your investments that counts; it's what you keep after taxes.
Tax is a bigger drag on investment performance than commissions or management fees. Left unchecked, taxes over the long haul can wreck client returns.
Five-star rankings and lists of "top mutual funds" teach investors to focus on achieving the highest possible returns pre-tax, leaving tax planning until after gains or losses are realized.
However, taxes can be source of "advisor alpha." In 2014, HNWIs and UHNWIs face for the first time must deal with a five-dimensional tax system, and it requires a change in long-term tax planning strategy. Many of the ways advisors optimize for after-tax returns under the new tax regime are explained in-depth in this second installment of "75 Ways To Generate Income Tax Alpha," which covers:
  • Specialized investment strategies
  • Strategic Tax-Alpha® strategies
  • Tactical tax strategies
  • Tactical tax strategies (cont.)
  • Trusts and estates strategies
Studies over the past 15 years showed that taxes reduced returns by an average of one- to three-percentage points annually. The recent tax increases raise these percentages significantly. Advisors who understand how to utilize statutory tax shelters provided within the Internal Revenue Code, and explain them to clients, can compete more effectively for UHNWI clients.
Robert S. Keebler, CPA, MST, AEP (Distinguished) is one of the nation’s leading educators of lawyers, accountants and financial planners. A partner at Keebler & Associates, he has been named by CPA Magazine as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Practitioners and one of the Top 40 Tax Advisors to Know During a Recession. Keebler contributes regularly to Advisors4Advisors and is an Advisor Products content partner.
Advisors4Advisors is a continuing education sponsor for CFP, CPA, CIMA, CIMC, and CPWA professionals. CFP® and IMCA-accredited professionals receive professional education credit on 24/7 replays as well as live sessions held Fridays at 4 p.m. ET.  CPAs must attend live sessions to receive CPE. View details.

This webinar is pending eligibility for two CFP®, IMCA®, and PACE credits toward CLU® and ChFC® designations, as well as IRS EA CE and CPA CPE credits.
Who Should Attend: Financial Advisors, CFPs, EAs, CFAs, CPA/PFSs, CIMAs, CLUs and ChFCs.
Cost: There is no fee to attend this course, if you are a member of Advisors4Advisors ($60/year).
CPE credit: 2 hours, in the Taxes field of study
Prerequisites: None
Advanced Preparation: None
Course Level: Overview
Course Delivery Method: Group Internet-Based
Program Policies:
For more information regarding administrative policies such as refund, cancellation and complaint please contact our offices at 516-333-0066 x219, or via email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Advisors4Advisors is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: Advisors4Advisors is also approved as a continuing education sponsor by IMCA, which administers the CIMA and CPWA designations, and CFP Board of Standards, which licenses the designation for CFP professionals.



ChFCs And CLUs Now Can Receive Unlimited Continuing Professional Education Credit On Advisors4Advisors Webinars Plus A Life Lesson About Doing Good edit
Saturday, April 26, 2014 11:17

ChFCs and CLUs now can receive unlimited continuing professional education credit for attending live weekly webinars held Fridays at 4 p.m. ET or 24/7 replays of the sessions.


CFPs, CIMAs, CPWAs, CIMCs, EAs, and CPAs also receive continuing professional education credit for attending most Advisors4Advisors webinars. Adding insurance professionals with the CLU and ChFC designation extends A4A's embrace across all segments of the financial advice profession. Having reported on personal finance for 30 years, I've come to believe that all segments of the financial advice business will make a valuable contribution toward unifying professional standards across the different fiefdoms that now characterize the financial advice profession. So I want to invite CLU and ChFC certificants to the A4A professional community and welcome your participation in A4A.

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Here's some history about the A4A continuing education programs, just so you understand what you have stumbled into.    



A4A webinars started in early October 2008. Lehman Bros. had collapsed, AIG's was breaking news, and the world financial system was coming undone. About 325 advisors showed up to the first session on October 6, 2008 -- a session that was not recorded because I didn't know it was the start of a series. While I cannot find comments I received from advisors after that session, I did find a post with comments from attendees after our second session, which I am sharing with you so you understand how I got suckered into producing a professional educational webinar series for advisors every week:


-- "Very helpful in this most difficult time in my career. I called many of my clients over the weekend and used a lot of the tools that were discussed. You have been an extremely big help."

-- “The practical down to earth ‘what to do’ advice was just what we need to hear. We had already implemented some of the suggestions, but it was so important to have that validated.The new insights and tactics were "priceless,” a fantastic way to end a horrible week. You are meeting a huge need. We appreciate every minute of that meeting. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

-- “I commend you and your co-presenters; well-chosen trio, vital information, useful redundancy/overlap, and good (plain) slides. Very valuable.

-- "I’ve been in this business for 25 years and the temptation is always there to say I’ve seen it before. This meeting, however, was timely and had some outstanding content. This was truly a valuable service. I’ll be sure to mention how your firm has handled these trying times as I talk with my peers."

-- “I commend you on putting together this program.”

-- “Thank you! This was very helpful and I really appreciate the effort and your good intentions.”

-- “Nice work! Very good job on putting this one together.”

-- “Geat webinar. We're new to your company and your capabilities have been a blessing in this difficult market, making it much easier to “touch” clients--and the response has been favorable. The webinar was like a cherry on the cake."

Point is, I did that first webinar to do something good for other people. While I guess cynics might assume I produced the webinars for purely self-promotional reasons, they'd be wrong. I did it because I could and it would help people. Initially, the series was called, "The Financial Crisis Webinar Series." I had no idea it would be a great business idea. I was just doing the right thing. Now, five and a half years after that first webinar, the thought leadership derived from conducting the sessions weekly has become a major benefit to my main business. What started as an attempt to do something good has somehow turned into a huge blessing for me.


That is a really important lesson. If you try to do something good for other people, it almost always comes around to benefit you. Try it. It works. To continue to reap the benefit of sowing good seeds, it's crucial to remain true to your original motivation. Guard that by erecting a wall around it so no one can come near tainting your original motivation.   



Incident With U.S. Marshals At Spangler Sentencing Was Simply A Misunderstanding edit
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 13:27

You may already have read reports about my recent arrest in Seattle. In the spirit of transparency, I want to share with you my side of the story in my failed effort at getting a jailhouse interview with disgraced former NAPFA chairman, Mark Spangler. The whole thing was actually just an embarrassing  misunderstanding.

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Spangler was sentenced March 12 to 16 years in federal prison for diverting about half of the approximately $100 million in assets his financial planning firm managed into two risky startups he controlled, TeraHop Networks, a Spangler venture that went belly-up, and Tamarac Software, a successful venture that makes portfolio rebalancing, client reporting, and CRM software used by hundreds of RIAs.
The events leading up to my arrest in the U.S. District Court building in Seattle unfolded quickly, just seconds after U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez threw the book at Spangler.
When Spangler exited the courtroom in handcuffs, I followed him and the two U.S. Marshals escorting him. Spangler was taken into the men’s room to compose himself and I approached the two U.S. Marshals blocking entry to the men’s room. This is where the misunderstanding occurred.
When I approached the two federal agents, I had no intention of offering them a bribe to let me into the men’s room. I was holding two $50 bills  because I was about to leave for the airport and was checking to see if I had enough cash on hand to pay the cab fare.

Please read my attorney's response to the federal charges, which won't hold up in court.

Why Is A4A Providing An Audience Of CFPs With Ideas From CFA Institute? edit
Thursday, March 20, 2014 13:25

Tags: investment fiduciaries | portfolio management | Portfolio Management Software | practice management | profession

It was 1998 and I was standing in my old office, talking on the phone with Tom Connelly, a CFP with a Master’s Degree in Financial Planning, a CFA charterholder, and founder of an $800 AUM RIA, Versant Capital Management.

Tom told me something that has influenced my work ever since. He said the financial planning world was a “small pond” in the ocean of knowledge that a professional needs to manage other people’s financial affairs properly.

This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only

At that point in my career, I had been writing about financial planning daily for 15 years, and Tom was telling me there was a whole other universe that I needed to learn about.
I knew that the financial services universe was separated by advisors who specialized in insurance, tax, investment, or financial planning. However, Tom’s words made me see that all of these worlds were drawing closer together and would eventually become one solar system. He specifically raved about the CFA Institute’s educational programs.

In 1998, CFA Institute was a world apart from the financial planning world I knew so well. It was dominated by research analysts at brokerages and institutional investors, and it was driven by a global vision for the CFA designation. Then the mutual fund scandals of the 2000’s led to a fundamental change.
Wall Street’s legion of analysts were suddenly unwanted because Wall Street research was a joke, larded with undisclosed conflicts of interests. Wall Street was forced to lay off a lot of CFAs serving as research analysts on Wall Street. Seemingly overnight, CFA Institute and CFA charterholders around the country had to figure out what to do for a living. The answer: advise wealthy individuals.  
CFA Institute has reinvented itself over the past 10 or 12 years. CFA Institute’s Private Wealth section — 15 years ago a stepchild in an organization dominated by Wall Street and institutional investors — is now far more influential among CFA charterholders. The educational curriculum has changed to ensure CFA charterholders are qualified to advise individuals.
However, because CFA Institute’s knowledge base is largely derived from large institutions with virtually unlimited resources, the quality of its research, data, and best practice ideas for professionals is very advanced.
So there you have it. That’s why A4A is inviting CFPs to hear about their distant cousins, CFAs. I have come to see that the CFP world is provincial in thinking that it owns the higher moral ground or best ideas in financial advising. And the CFP world's provincial outlook is rivalled in its myopia by the worlds of CPAs, CIMAs, ChFCs and other serious professional designations. They all seemingly pretend the others do not exist. They fail to capitalize on each other's strengths because they are competing with each other. So A4A is doing things a bit differently by bringing you voices from all of these different spheres.     
And Horan happens to a brilliant guy. He's one of the top executives in CFA Institute and previously ran the private wealth section. He holds a Ph.D. in Finance and Economics from SUNY at Buffalo, and Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement as well a CFA designation.
I wrote about the CIPM recently because I believe transparency will come to be more important to RIAs serving UHNWIs in the years ahead, and CIPMs can help RIAs create a track record compliant with the Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS). Steve Horan will talk about how CIPMs can help RIAs create a GIPS-compliant track record that can be used in marketing and advertising materials.
Point is, connecting A4A members, who are predominantly financial planners, with best practices from outside the CFP world, makes me happy. Let me know if it has the same effect on you.
Stephen Horan’s webinar on Friday will be eligible for continuing professional education credit for CPAs, CFPs, CIMAs, and other financial advice designations. If you’re an A4A member ($60 annually), you can see all sessions 24/7 and receive many other benefits.
Because of the glowing praise I have lavished on CFA Institute, I want to point out that CFA Institute is not perfect. CFAs have no annual professional education requirement and that’s something CFPs will want to ask Horan about at the session Friday. He will also be speaking about CFA Institute initiatives for all kinds of advisors—including those who are not CFA charterholders.


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