Free Portfolio Performance Reporting App With Board Members From Schwab, Yahoo! And WSJ Provides Investment Advice
Thursday, October 18, 2012 18:18

SigFig, a free online service that “makes it easy for everyday people to manage and improve their investments” is now powering a DIY portfolio performance reporting for USA Today’s website and just signed a deal with Yahoo Finance to provide technology for its portfolio tracker.

This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only


“Designed to work effortlessly, SigFig automatically pulls your 401k, IRA, trading, and advisor account data into one place—giving you a real-time view of all your investments across all your desktop and mobile devices—no manual data entry required,” according to the company’s fact sheet. “SigFig’s patent-pending technology then diagnoses your portfolio and gives you personalized investment advice to help you save and make more.”
You can sign up for free for the USA Today performance reporting app. TechCrunch has reported that SigFig is planning on working with advisors after somehow vetting them.
Among SigFig’s board members are executives from Charles Schwab, Yahoo!, Personal Capital,  and The Wall Street Journal.
For advisors who are not adopting new technology, improving efficiency, and expanding beyond investment advice, apps like this pose a growing threat.


Advisors Want Industry Publications To Stop Posting “Annoying” Slideshows; Threaten Not To Share/Retweet Slideshows
Tuesday, October 09, 2012 12:01

Tags: Boudreaux | financial planning | Gehring | Investment News | Kitces | slideshows | Winterberg

Financial advisors, or at least those who are social-media savvy, are this week expressing their displeasure with one of the most popular and ubiquitous types of features on the Internet: The slideshow.

"Dear Industry Publications," tweets Michael Kitces. "Slideshows are annoying, slow to load, & mobile unfriendly. Please stop. Sincerely, Busy Financial Advisors."

This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only

Kitces -- as part of an exchange on Twitter with Bill Winterberg, Nathan Gehring, Jude Boudreaux, myself, and others -- says slideshows are nothing more than a way for media sites to "juice their page view count to fool advertisers."

Plus, Kitces says slideshows adversely affect the user experience. "I find it very frustrating that sites drag down their user experience just to juice their page view count to fool advertisers," he tweets.

What’s more, media sites should not waste any time developing slideshows that are fast to load and mobile-friendly. "I'm a busy professional. If someone wants to show me a list, just put it on one darn page so I can read it. ;)," tweets Kitces.

Other advisors share Kitces’ point of view.

"Agree 100%," tweets Boudreaux. “I think it's fool’s gold, short-term gain in page views, but lose readers over time. “

That advisors are expressing their displeasure over slideshows could become a problem for industry publications. In fact, advisors are suggesting that media sites that post mobile-unfriendly and slow-to-load slideshows not only risk losing readers over time, but page views in the short term. “I don't share/retweet any ‘article’ that's just page view-grabbing nuisance slideshow,” tweets Kitces. “Heaven forbid someone actually makes it easy for me to read the article. Might accidentally share it!”

Abbie Pack also took issue with websites that post videos, as well. “Skimming text much faster,” she tweets.

To be sure, media sites have their reasons for posting slideshows that feature the “10 best this” or the “10 worst that.”

For one, slideshows are hard to scrape. The slideshow “prevents scraping programs like Pocket from functioning,” tweets Gehring. “I've read statements critical of Pocket and others because they deflate page views.”

But the bigger reason by far is this: Readers love ‘em, even when -- as in the case of such sites as the Bleacher Report -- they appeal (or shall we say pander) to the lowest common denominator. In fact, more often than not, slideshows featuring the best and worst of something are found at the top of any most-read list on any media company’s website.

(For what it’s worth, SF Weekly recently published an article about the Bleacher Report featuring this commentary: “High-trafficking Bleacher Report articles include "25 Wardrobe Malfunctions in Sports," "The 20 Biggest Criers in Sports," and "10 Possible Tiger Woods Porn Spin-offs: Mistress Edition." The site quickly earned a rep for expertly employing the Google search engine to inundate the web with horrible, lowest-common-denominator crap.”) Then again, who couldn’t resist taking a peak (using either Google Chrome’s incognito or Microsoft Internet Explorer’s InPrivate Browsing features, of course) at The Bleacher Report’s  “The 50 Sexiest Sports Twitter Accounts to Follow.”

The social-media savvy financial advisors who were tweeting about the subject of slideshows aimed much of their criticism at InvestmentNews and Financial Planning magazine.

Editors for those publications did not respond to my requests for comments before this article was posted, but we will post any and all comments if and when we get responses.  For the record, Financial Planning did post this tweet in response to Kitces: “I think there is a careful balancing act when it comes to slideshows. We want to provide great content in a lot of mediums.”

In response to Financial Planning magazine's tweet, Kitces offered this: “At the least, clearly indicate in tweets & emails which links are for slideshows, so they're easier to avoid!”

By way of background, InvestmentNews seemingly posts at least one slideshow per day. Earlier this week, for instance, InvestmentNews ran this slideshow: “The 10 B-Ds that rate highest with potential breakaways.”   That slideshow, not surprisingly, was ranked as the most-read story as of Oct. 9 on InvestmentNews’ website.

For his part, Kitces says the fact that that story was the most-read story means nothing to him. "I'll confess I was one of those clicks," he says. "It was an interesting headline. Until I saw it was a slide show, which ended the experience."

Kitces says if InvestmentNews' B-D slideshow was an an article or list he would have read it to the end. "I would have shared it," he says. "I might have even included it in weekend reading. Instead, I didn't read it, I didn't share it, and I won't tell anyone about it. If InvestmentNews gets enough slideshows in their content, I'll just stop clicking on their headlines altogether. Simply put, writing interesting headlines that deliver clicks and backing it with nuisance content that delivers no value is a self-destructive business model. Short-term clicks, long-term reader attrition."

Meanwhile, an editor for another financial trade publication had this to say about slideshows.

Lee Barney, who is now managing editor of Plan Adviser magazine and formerly an editor at SourceMedia, publisher of Financial Planning magazine, says her new employer, Asset International, does not run slideshows on its websites, as far as she can tell.

“SourceMedia uses them quite frequently,” she says. “They are very popular with readers” and yield “tremendous boosts in readership and page view numbers.”

To be fair, what’s popular with readers -- especially photographs of people from conferences -- aren’t necessarily popular with editors. From the editorial point of view, they are very time consuming to post, she says. “It still takes hours on even a streamlined content management system (to post),” Barney says.

Barney also took issue with the notion that slideshows are mobile unfriendly. “As most readers of trade publications spend the majority of their day in an office or with a handheld tablet, to date, I have never heard editors express concern over the inability to view slideshows on a smartphone,” she says.



What are your views about slideshows? Post your comments below.




Google Wallet Represents A New Way For Content Providers To Be Paid, And Some Advisors May Want To Become Content Providers
Wednesday, October 03, 2012 17:41

Tags: client education | google | intellectual property | Offbeat | productizing | prospecting

Google Wallet for content is an experiment to see if users will be prepared to pay for individual web pages if the buying process is easy enough. Should advisors participate in this experiment?

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Most financial advisors have no interest or talent for creating content, but a small number of you do. For those who do, check out what Google just started doing with Wallet.

Wallet is experimenting with allowing content providers to get paid for access to their content. It allows a content provider to offer partial access to a Web page and make people pay 50 cents, $5 or any other amount to access the full Web page.

How could advisors use this?

Say you want to create an investment advice service for DIY investors. You could post model portfolios on a Web page and make your methodology available and some research public, but require a payment for access to the full details about your recommendations.

I realize that what I am saying could be a compliance minefield. But this type of service is coming and Google Wallet may be an easy way for advisors to get paid for their knowledge.

The model portfolio idea could also be a loss leader, just a way to get people to let you manage their portfolios.

Model portfolios represent just one type of research piece you could provide. You could also provide special reports on 529 plans in your state, quarterly analysis of the investment choices offered by 401(k) plans of the biggest employers in your area, or other specialized knowledge.

You would probably want to produce research that requires little writing but does involve number crunching, tables of data that can be updated periodically. It would need to be repeatable. It would be best if it is research you are producing now for managing client money but that you do not get paid for -- tasks that you must do every month or every quarter. You would also want to produce content that is targeted locally. 

What do you think?






How To Run A Sales Presentation Over The Web Using A Free Web-Meeting App
Tuesday, October 02, 2012 07:38


An advisor yesterday asked me how I make presentations on the Web. So I wrote up the instructions below. These instructions assume you want to practice before actually doing a live presentation with a client, and they use Join.me, a free service that is excellent.

This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only

To use this technology effectively for the first time, you’ll need the help of an associate.
You (the presenter) will preferably be using two monitors and you both need a computer with Internet access.
Ideally you’re both in the same room or adjoining rooms, which makes it easier to communicate and see what you’re doing the first time you try this.
On separate computers, you go to and your associate should go to www.join.me
Next to the the box where it says "share," click on “Basic” and then on the orange circle button
That should start the download of a small file that you install, probably by double clicking on it.
After the installation you will be sharing your screen and a meeting dashboard containing nine numbers will appear.
Read those numbers to your associate and tell him to input them in the "join" box and click the green circle button.
Your associate will then see your screen.
Now open PowerPoint and go into Slide Show View.
If you previously set up Presenter View, your notes should appear on one monitor and the slide show seen by those in your Web meeting will see your slides and not your notes. Below is a short presentation about how you can set up presenter view for Web meetings.


Is Your Website Just An Online Business Card?
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 12:26

Tags: Search Engines | SEO | website optimization


In today’s competitive world having a stagnant website won’t bring in business. There are some important things you can do to change your web presence and attract more clients.

This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only

In August, Pew Research Center released a study showing that 85 percent of all Americans use the internet. According to Nielsen the average U.S. internet user will visit 105 web sites and view over 2,437 pages in just one month. 
So just exactly how do you keep your website ranking higher in the search engines? 
1. Use blogging and social media tools. Just be careful as financial advisors you must keep your content compliant. Partnering with third party company, such as Advisor Products, will provide you with compliant content that will keep your clients’ engaged.
2. Increase your website ranking using SEO, otherwise known as Search Engine Optimization. SEO is an internet marketing strategy that considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. By optimizing your website you will be more likely to attract new clients looking to use your services.
3. Consistent frequent communication. It is important to stay in touch with your clients by emailing them with useful content that will help keep you on top of their minds.

A prospect will most likely visit multiple financial advisor sites before deciding on one to go with. Increase your chances to be that company by optimizing your website, with the help of a third party company that specializes in compliant content for financial advisors.
Please read more on this topic:
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