Bob McGinty, an 82-year old award-winning newspaper editor, posted on A4A today about his experience with the Web and computers. Bob recalls working in a newsroom in Birmingham, Alabama in the summer of 1953, an era when copy was “spiked” to prevent fans from blowing paper all over the newsroom.
Within a couple of paragraphs, Bob contrasts the era gone by with today's Internet age. Surprisingly, perhaps, he uses a laptop all the time now and would be lost without it.
Bob’s perspective is valuable because he’s probably like so many advisor clients. But it’s the genesis of Bob’s post that tells you why Bob and I are blessed.
Bob wrote that post because I’ve been thinking lately that advisors are missing a huge opportunity to help their older clients securely manage their digital lives. Helping clients securely manage life on the Web is an opportunity to educate older clients and to prepare them for a day when their loved ones will need to access their accounts or find their health care proxy.
Earlier this week, I wrote 12 tips for advisors to become their clients’ digital bodyguard. When that story was germinating, I asked Bob to write about how he and his wife use the Web. I had no idea where Bob would come out on this.I did not know if Bob liked the Web. Here’s what I wrote Bob after reading his last post, which coached advisors on writing.
"I would love for you to write about how you use the Internet to access financial information and accounts—if you do. If you don’t use the Internet, I would like you to write about why you don’t and why you’re friends do not. What are the obstacles? Do you know the benefits? What would it take to get you to do it?"
In responding to my request, Bob’s post shows that clients in their 60s, 70s, and 80s can be pretty savvy about the Internet. Bob’s obviously just one 82-year-old and your clients are bound not to be as good with technology, but Bob’s experience nonetheless should encourage you to help your clients manage their digital lives. Showing clients how to store documents securely, helping them enable their loved ones to find their last will, funeral preferences and trust documents is a role where a fiduciary adds great value.
Maybe next time I can ask Bob to tell us how he handles passwords and see if he would benefit from learning to use a password manager? Or maybe we’ll check his computer for malware and report back on what we find?
Which brings me back to why Bob and I are blessed.
Bob is writing what I am asking for and he’s earning a few bucks, which has got to feel great at 82. I’m getting copy that helps advisors understand how they can help their clients better. We’re helping you help people do something important and beneficial.
A4A has a new blogger, Bob McGinty, and he’s a great writing coach. Bob was my editor 30 years ago at The Clearwater Sun, and he taught me a lot about writing. He can do the same for advisors.
Bob was Sunday Editor of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans when he quit journalism to move to Clearwater to open an electronic arcade for kids. The arcade turned into a house of horrors financially and Bob was forced to take a job at The Sun, where I had started working a few months earlier as a reporter.
I had moved to Clearwater, a town of 60,000, about a year after graduating from NYU and Columbia. I was an aggressive New York-schooled reporter and could write concisely fast. Bob, only recently, told me that the editors at The Sun did not know what to do with me because I was such a go-getter. They hired Bob and I became his problem. Bob was the Night City Editor and I was the only reporter working every night.
Bob had worked at a big city newspaper for 20 years and had seen it all. He trained me as a writer and reporter. Bob was born with one arm that doesn’t work all that well, but is a speed typist. He commanded my respect and, man, he was a brilliant editor!
I pulled out a clip buried in the back of my closet showing how Bob transformed my really crappy story about Clearwater's annual Christmas parade in 1982 into a great story with just a few words. I’ll never forget it.
Clearwater’s annual Christmas parade was really big news in Clearwater. I covered it straight, writing in detail about the "bands and balloons" and "81 groups riding bicycles, unicycles, and mopeds," and other contraptions on wheels. I buried in the middle of the story the fact that Santa failed to show up.
Bob appended my laboriously detailed lead about goings-on at the parade with the phrase, “everything but Santa Claus.” All he did was insert four words saying Santa did not show up for the parade in the lead and repeat it twice as an ironic device. In minutes, Bob turned a terrible story into a fun read.
Bob and I stayed in touch for a few years after I left Clearwater but eventually lost touch. About two years ago, I hunted him down on the Web through his son, who’s a reporter at The Florida Times Union.
Bob's been editing the personal columns in advisor newsletters for Advisor Products since then. He’ll be writing about writing here on A4A occasionally. Please ask him questions. He’s a great writing coach and enjoys sharing what he knows.
Speaking at A4A’s Financial Advisor Webinar Series last Friday, Matt Pierce, a Camtasia Studio training manager at TechSmith, provided an overview of this powerful video editing software application. His session is meant to serve as a primer that can get just about any advisor started with video editing quickly.
TechSmith gave A4Amembers a discount good that’s good until July 31. To access the code, download the slides from Matt’s presentation and look at Slide 15. You must be a paying member of A4A ($60 a year) to access the discount code. (If you are a registered user of A4A but not a paying member, please email admin @ advisors4advisors.com and we'll help you upgrade your membership.)
Here are eight tips and 20 suggsted topics for videos for advisors, to build on Matt’s primer and jumpstart your effort at producing videos a jumpstart.
1. Just Do It. Using Pierce’s session as a primer on video editing basics, you should now be able to create a brief video about a financial idea, or about one fact that makes you different from your competition. Each one-minute or two-minute segment should cover one of the following 20 topics about you or your firm. Below is a list of suggested topics for marketing videos for advisors.
2. PowerPoint Before Camera. Camtastia Studio can be used to edit videos of you speaking before a camera and I posted a shopping list for advisors who want to create a good video studio. But Camtasia is really best at creating screen shares. That is, videos without a camcorder, that just capture your screen showing a spreadsheet, PowerPoint presentation, or other content on your computer and record your narratoin. Before getting into video cameras, try screen recording. Advisors should start off video marketing by producing a video based on a PowerPoint presentation.
3. Camtasia Studio 8. This software costs $299, and A4A members can get $30 off through July 31, 2013. Before buying the software, you may want to download it for a 30-day trial and make sure video editing is for you. It’s a full version of Camtasia Studio but it’s only good for 30 days. You can put that on two computers. Camtasia Studio offers excellent training videos. Remember to use the discount code when you actually purchase the software. If you own a previous versioj, upgrade to the latest, which is a huge improvement in useability over previous versions.
4. Hardware. If possible, load Camtasia Studio on a computer with anything less than a third-generation Intel i7 processor. Preferably, you’ll use a quad-core process or better. Dual core is acceptable but not ideal.
5. First Cut Is The Deepest. Try one of the techniques mentioned by Matt in the webinar, like zooming, adding a callout, inserting bullets. If it’s your first time using Camtasia Studio, even after watching Matt’s webinar, expect the editing to be a pain in the neck. It took me six or eight hours of experience before I understood Camtasia’s features for video production. Your two-minute first video production might take you three hours or four. But you’ll get it down to an hour or two after doing it a few times.
6. Keep It Short. Only spend a minute or two on each topic. People have no time or patience to hear you drone on about the fiduciary standard. Respecting other people’s time is crucial to success. Most advisor marketing stinks at this.
7. Produce At 720p. When you click the button to produce your video, render it as a “MP4 (up to 720p).” That will be one of the choices in the pull-down menu. That’s good for HD viewing on YouTube. Vimeo other video sharing sites. Just mentioning this because the first time you do it, you may get stumped.
8. Share. Please share your thoughts. If you are giving Camtasia a try to produce a video for your firm, please post a comment about your experience here, good or bad, so other advisors can benefit from your knowledge.
20 Suggested Topics For Videos For Financial Advisors
1. Your compensation scheme
2. Role as a fiduciary
3. Investment strategy
4. A service level your firm provides
5. Why you became an advisor
6. Your community
7. A niche you service
8. The financial crisis
9. Your favorite client of all time
10. Corporate earnings
11. The 3.8% surtax
12. Asset allocation
13. Last quarter’s investment and economic data
14. Why you hold a professional credential(s)
15. Helping people with retirement problems
16. Retirement income planning
17. Data security at your firm
18. Your client portal
19. Reports clients receive
20. Your Form ADV
The March 28 story was about a new, radically different approach to delivering financial advice devised by Alex Murguia in a platform called inStream. Murguia recently raised several million dollars.
In 2001, right after earning a Ph.D. in psychology, Murguia joined McLean Asset Management, an RIA founded by his wife’s father, and he has since taken the firm from $25 million to $600 million in AUM. Creating a successful RIA is an impressive accomplishment, but inStream reveals Murguia as a visionary in the financial advice field.
inStream reinvents a professional’s approach to wealth management and, in doing so, aligns what you do for clients with your value proposition. Murguia says most clients need an advisor to do about 20 tasks—find me a new mortgage, buy life insurance, find a long-term care insurance policy. These mundane tasks are the glue that binds deeper, stickier client relationships.
Murguia says the current service model for advisors—embraced by CFPs—is to update a financial plan once a year, put it on a shelf, and take it out a year from now once again to see how your client is doing. That process does not make an advisor sticky, though it is the way financial planning is commonly practiced. (I’ve previously argued that the business model for financial planning is broken.)
Instead, inStream enables a new model, wherein advisors are monitoring financial plans all the time and updating them proactively. Instead of waiting for a client to come to you because he needs a new mortgage or insurance, InStream alerts an advisor that the client’s mortgage should be refinance or that he’s at a stage and station in life where insurance is needed. The inStream platform represents a first attempt at what will become the way to practice in the future.
The fact that this was the No. 1 story of the year gives me new respect for A4A’s readership. I often criticize advisors—my readers— for being incredibly cheap, lacking an attention span, and having a provincial, holier-than-thou attitude toward other professionals. However, in making inStream the top financial advisor story of 2012 on A4A, the intelligence of A4A’s is praiseworthy.
In fact, the entire list of A4A’s 10 most-read stories of 2012 proves the notion that the masses indeed do have wisdom. After all, you never know what crowd-sourced data is going to show. For example, the most popular YouTube video of all-time is Psy’s Gangnam Style, and “Charlie Bit My Finger” makes it to No. 6.
Instead of the scandal stories, readers made A4A’s most substantive stories the most popular for the past year. Three stories about the most popular financial planning, portfolio management and CRM apps used by RIAs made it to the top 10 list. Also making the list is my post saying that CFP Board’s suggested disclosure on Form ADV misleads consumers about whether their advisor is a fiduciary. (It's especially impressive that this story made it to the top 10 because it was written only a few weeks ago!)
You can access the full list of the most important stories of the past year anytime on the A4A Trending page, if you’re an A4A member ($60 a year).
As the end of the year closes in, I am truly grateful to have such smart readers. Thank you for caring about what we’re doing here on A4A.
By now, everyone knows that the Democrats retained control of the Senate and the Republicans retained control of the House.
There were eleven committees—six Senate and five House—that were highlighted for you to keep an eye on after Congress reconvened after the last recess before the election. Those committees were:
Senate Appropriations Committee
Senate Banking Committee
Senate Budget Committee
Senate Finance Committee
Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee
Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee
House Appropriations Committee
House Budget Committee
House Energy and Commerce Committee
House Small Business Committee
House Financial Services Committee
Several of today’s articles will be an update on activities in these committees since Congress reconvened for its last session of the year. We’ll keep you updated as news comes in on any of them so that you can have the guidance you need in advising your clients.