Post-Monte Carlo Planning: A Modern Platform For Managing An RIA With A Revolutionary Planning App Based On Safe Savings Rates
Monday, March 10, 2014 17:39
inStream Wealth Solutions allows practitioners to advise clients based on a new approach to retirement planning, a methodology based on safe savings and withdrawal rates. But don’t think of inStream as merely a financial planning app.
In addition to enabling a modernized approach to retirement planning, inStream provides an RIA with a practice management system. It integrates alerts into its financial planning app, along with business intelligence (BI) data, a document management system, mind maps, online collaboration tools for teams, and features supporting other core functions for managing internal information at an RIA.
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(Across the bottom of the video, colorful text boxes indicate the topic discussed in each section of the video, allowing you to quickly scan.)
“Current systems have been in somewhat of a homeostasis from a goal-based Monte Carlo approach,” says Alex Murguia, the founder and CEO of inStream Solutions. “Really it was just a matter of time until…. And you’re beginning to see a signaling of new types of planning that are beyond cash-flow, beyond, frankly, goals-based Monte Carlo, that have to do with safe savings rates. This will lead to sustainable withdrawal rate planning that we’ll have coming out soon.”
“This is the foundation for all of that,” says Murguia, who built a successful RIA in McLean, Virginia before starting inStream in 2010. “But the time is right for this approach and we’re very proud to be the first ones to release this in this manner.
Post-Monte-Carlo Financial Planning. Research on safe retirement savings and withdrawal rates has fundamentally changed retirement planning. Meanwhile, demographics are driving financial professionals to craft plans for clients based on safe withdrawal rate assumptions and safe savings rates.
Murguia says financial planning software is about to enter a “post-Monte-Carlo period.” inStream supports this new approach to financial planning based on safe saving and withdrawals rates. To asnwer the crucial question in financial planning — will I outlive my money? — inStream applies a methodolgy that the current generation of planning apps does not now support.
“The safe savings rate is, one could argue, a more effective planning tool to guide someone in retirement because, for someone who is 20 or 30 years away from retirement, it’s very tough for them to say that two years into retirement they will want to buy a boat,” says Murguia, who with his wife’s uncle took McLean Asset Management from $30 million AUM 12 years ago to $600 million AUM today. “A better approach in advising them is by saying that saving at least 13% of your income has allowed people to spend a specific amount in retirement for the rest of their lives.”
Not Just A Planning App. Don’t think of inStream as just a financial planning software. Yes, it does a very capable job of planning based on safe savings rates and sustainable withdrawals as well as using Monte-Carlo/goals-based planning, but inStream’s loaded with additional features for running an RIA.
Business Intelligence (BI). BI is a popular software category in enterprise applications used by corporate managers, but no software aimed at financial advisors has ever offered extensive BI reports to managers at RIAs. inStream is improving the desktop used by practitioners and managers at RIAs by displaying business intelligence data about your practice in its dashboard for advisors. For instance, you’ll get snapshots reminding you that most of your clients do not have financial plans that are trackable. In addition to providing metrics on client engagement and other data based on your clients’ profiles, inStream feeds crowdsourced information about your practice versus other users. For instance, you can see that 15% of your plans are out of tolerance, while other advisors using inStream average 10% — and area where you need to improve your service.
Document Management. Instream allows you to store documents to a secure encrypted server and tag them for keywords. So you can tag all tax documents with terms like “1099” or “1040” and they will be indexed and searchable for those terms.
Alerts. A heads up at the moment of need for a client. Prioritizes what advisors need to do day to day. Tells you when a client’s plan is out of tolerance. Generate alerts when clients are not achieving a specific goal or not tracking against a calculator. “These are not the same kind of alerts you get from a CRM system, telling you to call someone or attend a meeting,” says Murguia. “These alerts are generate off each client’s financial plan.”
Mind Maps. The beauty of a mind map is that it organizes ideas. Using the mind map to show a client his financial profile allows an advisor to illustrate how elements of a plan are connected.
Document Management. Integrated document management. You can tag any document. Murguia says documents will be indexed and tagged automatically for keywords by the end of 2014.
Niche Analytics. See that 80% of clients are women or carpenters and discover new niches as well as to measure your depth of penetration in a particular niche. What’s the average
Alerts For Teams. You can set alerts for teams working on the same client and apply an establish workflow sequence across a team to create processes specific to different service levels. So you can segment clients and apply a set or workflows and processes that go along with a subset of clients.
Previous coverage of inStream:
I first wrote about inStream in March 2012
, and progress has been slow. Apart from a follow-up in January 2013
, I did not write about inStream for many months because the code powering the system was being rewritten. Murguia realized that the first iteration of his app was not strong enough tpo be used by enterprises and he re-coded the system so that it could be rolled out by a corporate RIA with hundreds of reps as wll as custodians, institutions and independent advisors. According to Murguia, inStream went from a free app to costing $1,200 a year in January 2014. As early as August 2014, when the rest of the platform is completed, the cost of the app will rise to $2,400 annually, he says.
For RIA Owners Thinking Of Upgrading To Office 365, An In-Depth Look At Upgrade Options And Hassles You Must Know About
Friday, February 14, 2014 13:54
If you own an RIA and you’re thinking of upgrading to Office 365, here are some important considerations. Upgrading my advisor marketing-technology company to Office 365 has been a nightmare for me personally, despite my doing it in stages. But it will be good in the long run. Below is an in-depth discussion of the most confusing aspects of my upgrade to Office 365, offered so that you might avoid some of the mistakes in adopting the latest technology in the Microsoft’s incredibly complicated system. My comments are intended for RIA owners who are not IT professionals.
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Let There Be Surface
In February 2013, I bought a Surface Pro and switched from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and immediately started using SkyDrive Pro (renamed OneDrive for Business on January 27, 2014). In October 2013, I moved up to Office 365, as part of a plan to move my company’s staff onto Microsoft’s latest technology.
Collaboration Is Worthwhile
Using the latest Microsoft technology — being an early adopter of Microsoft systems — isn’t easy. Microsoft is often criticized for making its paying customers its beta-testers. Early-adopters of Microsoft operating systems and Office upgrades have over the years faced a steep learning curve when upgrading, and Office 365 is the most difficult Microsoft platform that small business owners have ever been asked to understand. Getting up and running can be a major pain for a company with five, 10 or 20 employees. However, collaboration capabilities for employees of an RIA will increase dramatically by using Office 365. The exchange of ideas in a small business can improve significantly by adopting Office 365. If your firm wants to foster exchange of ideas, Office 365 will be worth the hassle of upgrading and training people. But it’s far from perfect. The rest of this article is devoted to helping small-business owners determine which of the seven versions of Office 365 to choose.
When I went to sign up for Microsoft Office 365 five or six months ago, I was overwhelmed by the array of seven choices
of plans for businesses, ranging in cost from $4 to $22 a month. So I did what any good business owner should: I asked an employee. Jason Fogelson, IT Manager at Advisor Products, the marketing-technology company I own, employs a fulltime IT professional who manages web servers and the company’s internal network. He researched the issue and told me to buy Office 365 for Mid-Size Business, which costs $15 a month per user. That turned out to be the wrong version. Microsoft’s complicated ecosystem confused even an IT professional. (I am indebted to Jason Fogelson for his contribution to this article.)
This is something an unscrupulous IT consultant may not tell you: If you're considering a move to Office 365, you should probably look to move your email there as well. Outsourcing your company email system to Microsoft’s hosted Exchange email solution will probably reduce costs significantly and be more reliable. The lowest-priced Office 365 business account costs $4 a month per email account. If your hardware, software, and consultant costs total more than $48 a year per email account, hosting Exchange on Office 365 will be less costly. Microsoft’s hosted Exchange solution will eliminate your local network administrator or IT consultant from having to maintain backups, install updates, and maintain hardware locally to support Exchange. How much are you paying your IT consultant annually to maintain your email system? Once you know, divide that sum by the number of email accounts your firm needs. You’ll need a license for each person you want to provide a mailbox. All of the Office 365 plans include hosted Exchange. The $4 version is for outsourcing Exchange only, however.
Office Productivity Suite
Now you’re ready to figure out whether, in addition to Exchange, whether you should buy the other apps in the Office suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, and others. The plans offered by Microsoft differ in that some provide only the browser-based version of Office, while others come with the latest version of the productivity suite, Office 2013. Whether you want new desktop software depends on what version of Office each user on your team is using currently and his or her needs. For an RIA, some advisors in your office might be using Word 2007, which won’t allow all collaboration features of Office 2013 or even Office 2010. That may be intolerable to you, and you perhaps want all your advisors to have full-sharing capabilities.
For RIAs, your intellectual property — ideas for how to help clients — is crucial; using technology that makes idea-sharing easy among professionals will pay off. You may not feel so strongly about whether a support staffer needs full collaboration features or about other users on your network that might only need access to documents using the browser-based version of Office, which is like running “Windows Lite” and is good for mobile access using a touchscreen. Buying some users on your network the browser-based version can save you money. However, you may decide that the $12 a month per user difference in cost for 10 non-professional staff and consultants amounts to just $1440 a year in recurring fees. Add another $500 or $1000 a year for additional storage costs and you have the full suite with all the collaboration capabilities. You may think that’s a no-brainer. Knowing the power of the collaboration tools, professional groups will have no trouble justifying the expense to support the advancd collaboration features in Microsoft’s latest technology.
OneDrive For Business (Formerly SkyDrive Pro)
If you and your staff collaborate on documents and two or more people frequently need to access a document simultaneously and make changes to it, OneDrive for Business and the Office 365 suite will boost efficiency. With OneDrive, you and others collaborating on a spreadsheet, slide presentation, or other Office document can all save your changes and work concurrently. This is a big improvement over collaborating on a document using your network file server, where sharing is far more difficult and concurrent live sharing cannot easily be done. The other advantage of OneDrive is that sharing documents with people outside your company network is also really easy, which can come in handy for secure document sharing with clients and other professionals, including attorneys and accountants.
This is where the different versions of Office 365 start to become really confusing. You can get the file-sharing capabilities for as little as $5 a month (Office 365 Small Business) or $8 per month for the enterprise version (Office 365 Enterprise E1
). These two versions of Office 365 will give you hosted Exchange plus the file sharing capabilities to be able to collaborate concurrently and share documents easily on a network in the cloud. However, there are some big caveats to buying either of these two plans. First, the version of Office that you get in these two plans works in your browser; you do not get the desktop version of Office. The Web-based version of Office is good if you’re working on a tablet or touch device but it’s not as full-featured as the desktop version of Office, but user will probably only use that when on the road and away from their desktop apps.
If you are currently using Office 2010 or 2013 on your desktop, it is compatible with OneDrive’s file sharing capabilities and the browser-based version of Office 365, and you do not have to buy the versions Office 365 that gives you the desktop apps in Office 2013 as well as the Web apps; all you need is the $8 Office 365 E1
version or $5 Small Business
version. Be forewarned: If you are using Office 2007 or an earlier version of Office, your desktop version of Office is incompatible with some of Office 365’s advanced file sharing and collaboration features. You will probably want to upgrade to a version of Office 365 giving you the desktop suite, Office 2013. To sum it up, a key difference between the various versions of Office 365 is whether you need a new version of the Office suite.
About That $4 Version
Let’s you do not need a new version of Office at all? The $4 a month Office 365 account is for businesses whose employees will use their existing desktop version of Outlook (2010 or 2013) to check their email and it also provides a browser-based app for employees to access their email. This $4 a month version, and all the Midsize Business and Enterprise plans, of Office 365 give you Microsoft “active directory” integration.
That’s the ability to (if you have it on site) manage users from your corporate active directory environment and provide a Single Sign-On (SSO) for your company network. However, the $4 a month version does not give you Microsoft’s Office productivity suite—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and other Office apps. It also does not give you the file-sharing capabilities of Office 365, including OneDrive. For that, you’ll need the $8 a month E1 version of Office 365. It will let your staff collaborate concurrently on documents on OneDrive for Business, but it does not include the desktop version of the Office apps. You use the browser-based version of the Office suite or your existing desktop Office suite.
Mid-Size Business Version
The least-expensive way to buy the Office productivity suite with Microsoft’s hosted Exchange solution is either $12.50 a month (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/business/redir/FX103037625.aspxOffice 365 Small Business Premium) or $15 a month (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/business/redir/FX103037683.aspxOffice 365 Midsize Business). Those two plans will get you the desktop version of the Office suite plus the browser-based version, as well as what's called "Office On Demand," a streaming version of office apps that allows full Desktop Office functionality from any machine. But those versions have some limitations: neither give you the advanced user information rights management on email and the Small Business is limited to 25 users with no active directory integration and Medium Sized Business is limited to 300 users. Moreover, all users of the organization must be on the same tier, so with either the $12.50 Small Business or $15 a month Mid-Size Business versions of Office 365, you cannot buy any of the Enterprise licenses for your users, such as the $4 month hosted-exchange account for some of your firm’s staff and the full productivity suite for others. All users on Mid-Size Business accounts must get the $15 a month version that includes the full Office suite.
Even Finer Print On Different Versions
I mentioned earlier that my IT manager, a bright guy, had told me to buy the Mid-Size Business version of Office 365. That was before he found out we’d be unable to add email accounts for some employees for just $4 month if we stayed on the $15 a month version for Mid-Side Business. We could not use the $15 license for some users in our company and a $4 or $8 license for others, since all licenses need to be on the same tier (Small, Midsize, or Enterprise). We would not be permitted to give a consultant an email account without buying him the full Office suite. All new users would cost $15 a month. In addition, we would learn that choosing the $15 version of Office 365 (Mid-Size) does not give a company the ability to add some additional functionality, such as advanced email. To be able to add users to Exchange without being required to buy them the full Office 365 package, your organization needs to be in the enterprise tier, and you need to buy the $20 a month E3 or $22 a month E4 version of Office 365 for any users that need the full package and full version of Office 365.
The Enterprise version of Office 365 is what an RIA needs to sync Office 365 with their on-premises network, a feature Microsoft calls “Active Directory” integration. You can get that Active Directory integration in the $15 a month Mid-Size Company version of Office 365 but that one lacks a bunch of features you may probably need grouped together by Microsoft as “Advanced Email” features, including Information Rights Management, email archiving, and legal hold capabilities. Legal hold means you can prevent email from being destroyed or purged automatically based on retention policies, and also protect messages from being deleted by the user, knowingly or inadvertently, and it can be in litigation to have this set up. With the Mid-Size tier, these advanced email features are not an option, even as an add-on.
My guess is most RIAs will need the E3 Enterprise version of Office 365. For most organizations, the Enterprise tier will save you money in the long run, since it goes you flexibility to scale down the services (and cost) at any time for certain users who don't need the full package. Advisor Products, for instance, gave some users email-only ($4 monthly) or E1 access ($8 monthly), which saves $11 and $7 monthly respectively versus the Mid-Size Business plan and we will begin to make up the $5 difference for the full package when a few users need email-only or file-sharing only.
Keep in mind, the $4 plan is email only (no file-sharing capabilities) and the E1 Enterprise version -- although it provides both email and file sharing -- only allows your firm to provide users with the browser-based version of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the rest of the Office productivity suite. The E1 version means you’ll need to continue to use the desktop software that you have been using. If you’re on Office 2007— and I suspect most advisors and their staff are still on Office 2007 and have not upgraded to Office 2010—then you might as well go for the extra $12 per user to upgrade to Office 2013.
While the amount of storage available with each plan is important, you probably already decided which version of Office 365 you need based on its features and not storage. Be sure the version of Office 365 you are thinking of using gives you the storage you need on SharePoint, which provides the file sharing feature of Office 365 and has storage limits.
SharePoint is a component of Office 365 that allows a small business to collaborate with ultimate flexibility. Your company can have “team sites” in which all of their documents are shared online and can be synched to your computer for editing when you’re offline. So if you have a team that handles a particular set of files and collaborates on them constantly, SharePoint is a powerful tool. However, each of the business plans come with different SharePoint storage limits
Your Personal OneDrive— that is, your OneDrive account provisioned by your company’s Office 365 account — is limited to 25GB per user on all SharePoint plans and shared space for the organization is provisioned as follows.
• Small-Business Plan. You get 10 GB of shared space across you entire firm plus 500MB per subscribed user up to a maximum of 100GB. Currently purchasing additional storage is not possible. In addition, you can have a single “team site” of shared files up to 100GB in size.
• Midsize Business Plan. You get 10GB plus 500MB per user up to a maximum of 2TB (with purchase of additional storage), and you can have up to 20 team sites (which Microsoft calls “site collections”), and each team site can be up to 100GB in size.
• Enterprise Plans. Give you 10GB of shared space for team sites plus 500MB per user up to 25TB (with purchase of additional storage) and up to 100GB per team sites with up to 10,000 team sites.
• All plans have a 2GB file-size limit.
When your looking at storage plans, consider not moving inactive network flres to the cloud. Only move what you and your staff use all the time. not moving inactive files can save you a lot of hassle and expense.
Microsoft's Office 365 platform is Byzantine. With all the variables imposed by Microsoft's limitations on different plans overlaying each user's personal needs as well as the company's needs, it's way too complicated for a small business owner to know what to do. No wonder why Microsoft's not seeing great adoptoin of its new software.
I'm a smart guy and I'm really into this stuff, and I still don't fully understand all of the ins and uts of every plan, and I have spent many hours trying to understand it and I have had the benefit of the knowledge of an IT professional who migrated my company to Office 365. It's hard to believe people who work at Microsoft's kiosk at the local mall understand it. However, in fairness, Microsoft support is excellent and was there to help with difficult aspects of the migration.
If you made it this far down into this story, you probably learned a lot about what you need to do, and the collaboration Mcirosoft enables with its latest technology fuel growth of your RIA's intellectual capital.
Confessions Of A Tech Junkie, And The Latest Computer Monitors For Making Effective Client Presentations
Thursday, February 06, 2014 12:35
About a week after I purchased an $860 27” a WQHD 2560X1440 touchscreen monitor, Lenovo announced a plan to release a UHD 3840x2160 touchscreen “smart” monitor in July 2014. My wife is going to kill me because I’ll probably buy the new one, too. Here’s why.
At the end of the year, I blogged about (and could not resist buying) the Acer T272HUL bmidpcz 27-Inch WQHD Touch Screen Widescreen Monitor. WQHD is the newest thing, and this is the only affordable WQHD touchscreen monitor you can find. It sells for just $160 over the price of a 27”-inch Dell touchscreen with a mere HD 1080p resolution. Put another way, a 2560x1440 monitor from (Dell U2713hm) sells for $700. So I was paying $160 for touch-sensitivity.
For me, that $160 was well-spent because I can write about my experience with this monitor and telling you about the latest technology for making great presentations is so iimportant to your sucess. You need to know to avoid
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WQHD monitors and wait until the Lenovo ThinkVision Pro 2840 debuts in July 2014. If you're a financial advisor, you need to know that, if you're looking for a new monitor, the best monotor for advisors to use for making presnetations in their office is going to be this 4K touch screen Lenovo monitor that will serve as a desktop touch-controlled diplsay for use with Windows 8.1 and also be a fantatsic display for making presentations in-person or over the Web.
Do Not Buy A WQHD Monitor.
For advisors upgrading hardware, it's no longer the Acer 27" WQHD touchscreen is no longer a great deal. Don't do what I did and buy the Acer touchscreen monitor with the 14440p resolution. I’ve been using it for over a month now and I’m satisfied, kind of. It’s a decent display and 1440P is a big improvement over 1080p high definition panels. But just a week after taking delivery of my WQHD touchscreen monitor, Lenovo announced a plan to launch in July 2014 the UltraHD Lenovo ThinkVision Pro2840m
— boosting resolution by about 50% over my now-obsolete 1440p Acer T27HUL and doiubling the resolution over a 1080P HD monitor.
And the shortcomings of this Acer monitor do not end there. The display is too shiny and reflections are hard to avoid in a bright room. Light sources emanating from behind you will be reflected onscreen. I have to draw my blinds behind me and cannot use certain spotlights in my office. You can work around these peccadiloes but a less shiny display is sensible. Also, its ergonomics are not quite perfect, as mentoined in detail below. But enough complaining.
Lenovo's ThinkVision Pro2840. This new Lenovo monitor isn’t just a 2160p touchscreen but it also comes with an NVIDIA® Tegra® processor that runs Google’s Android operating system (OS) for serving up movies, music, and other content on-demand. Think not of the Lenovo ThinkVision Pro2840 as a mere Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) touchscreen monitor, but as an all-in-one computer serving up content from the Web running the Android OS, which powers more cell phones than any other OS being sold today.
Why touchscreens are good for advisors. A big part of your job is explaining complicated charts and graphs to people, client education. Using a touchscreen for live and online meetings will make you a more effective communicator. The unique characteristics of ltouchscreens enhance financial advisor-client communications.
A big reason why iPads are popular with financial advisors is because iPads are great for making presentations and sharing information. Now imagine making a presentation on a 27-inch monitor, which is about six times the size of your iPad.
A touchscreen enhances the ability of most people to consume information. You can ask the client or prospect to circle important numbers on screen in your spreadsheet as you deliver your advice. The client engages in an overt act to consume the information you are presenting, and you can rest assured your ideas are understood. This is especially effective with that large part of the population who consider themselves math-challenged.
I am not equating the use of a touchscreen in client meetings with showing up with a gun at a knife fight. But you would be sporting nunchuks.
Involving clients or prospects in your presentations to them by asking them to circle a number on a spreadhseet onscreen that best illsutrates what your are speaking about assures clients will understand what you are saying. Asking a client to circle a number or bullet point you covered that they do not undersand assures people learn the what your are presenting. When you show a client how much they must save monthly to retire at age 65, they will understand it if you have made them circle that number five times in a three minute presentation. Epic Pen
, a free drawing program covered previously, enables you to draw circles or arrows on any touchscreen in any program anytime. It’s always available on your screen. When you activate pen mode, you can use your finger or a stylus to draw anywhere onscreen. That’s a big idea for financial communications.
I’m not saying that buying a 27-inch touchscreen is going to double your fee-income, but it will make your presentations more engaging. And there iis the “cool factor.” PowerPoint presentations are beautiful when delivered live using a touchscreen. When you are presenting, waving your hand across a screen to advance to the next slide is so much better for a presenter than the undemonstrative mouse click. Different energy. When you're in front of a 27" monitor contolled by your touch, you're performing and not just clicking a moiuse.
Let’s Get Physical: The Touchscreen’s Ergonomics
When I bought my 1440p touchscreen, I was excited because using a touchscreen on your desktop computer requires the screen be situated just 12 or 15 inches away from your eyes. When you want to touch the screen, that’s about how close it needs to be. You must comfortably be able position the display no more than 15 to 20 inches away from your eyes when you are typing and then lean forward toward the monitor when you want to use touch controls. When sitting, you will naturally want the monitor just 12 inches away from you when you are touching the screen. At that point in yor physical relationship with your touchscreen, because the monitor is so close to your eyes, you need, at a minimum a 1440p resolution to use a 27” touchscreen comfortably on your desktop. WQHD is the minimum acceptable resolution for using a 27” touchscreen monitor as a desktop as well as a presentation tool. Put another way, the touchscreen controls with WQHD resolution will leave you feeling a little too close to use them routinely on a desktop computer. Touch control boosts effectiveness of presentations for practitioners, but touch control at a 1440p resolution situates a user just a little too close for touch controls to be used routinely throughout the day in desktop navigation. However, the new UltraHD Lenovo ThinkVision Pro2840m could change that. Its 50% boost in resolution from 1440p to 2160p, should be just about the perfect resolution for a 27-inch multi-touch desktop monitor using Windows 8.1 to make you want to use the touch controls routinely as a desktop tool. The desktop, at 4K resolution, should be small enough so a user can be just 12 inches away and see the whole desktop without feeling like it’s “Land of The Giants.” Reading and writing documents and viewing Web pages as well as content you create in PowerPoint will not strain your eyes and also not feel too large at close range.
How Practitioners And Business Users Might Use An Android All-In-One
Lenovo points out that the Android OS and Tegra processor makes the Lenovo Pro 2840m a practical family computer and entertainment device. This monitor can serve as home entertainment hub. On-demand content can be streamed. Meanwhile, its 10-point multi-touch screen ensures a fully interactive experience for the family when looking at photos, playing games, and surfing the Web. Those features are not the applications an advisor would likely find useful — unless….
An RIA could use this monitor in a self-service reception area that greets clients and gives them Internet access while in your waiting room. Marketing and educational presentations about your firm could be looped in your reception room and they would be touch-driven. For instance, give an intern a 10-question financial management IQ test to insert into PowerPoint. Ask the intern to make it a touch-driven quiz, with all the answers at the end. When clients come to your office, they sometimes are driven by younger family members and other people who wind up waiting in your reception area. Why not market your services there?
Bottom line: Touch-control is an excellent tool for making presentations and the Lenovo Thinkvision Pro 2840 is worth waiting until July for because I have been using the next best thing, a WQHD touch monitor that is still ergonomicallly off-kilter for Windows 8.1 desktop use. Though the Lenovo Pro 2840mis being marketed as a monitor for graphic design professionals, financial advice professionals should be able to use it make more artful presentations.
How To Use Your Touchscreen To Draw Anywhere On Your Desktop; Free App Will Make You A Better Presenter
Friday, January 24, 2014 13:44
I just could not get a colleague to understand what I meant yesterday when I asked him to center horizontally two elements on a Web page.
He’s a really smart guy, but his mind’s eye just could not picture the concept.
I had sent him the picture below illustrating how the two Web page elements should be positioned horizontally centered, but he just did not get.
So we did a screen sharing session to literally “get on the same page.”
It was during that session -- the very first time I used Epic Pen -- that I saw the power of this free open-source app. Epic Pen enables users to draw anywhere across the desktop. You can download Epic Pen at
How Epic Pen Works
Epic Pen's interface is dead simple. With the “Hide Ink” box unchecked, simply choose a color from a large palette.
The pen icon on the left turns off the pen. The second pen from left writes like a pen; the middle icon draws
like a highlighter; and clicking the circles changes the width of your pen-line.
Perhaps the coolest feature is how Epic Pen turns on and off.
When you check “Hide Ink,” your line drawings disappear from the screen and Epic Pen is turned off. Howveer, when you uncheck the box, you Epic Pen turns on, you go into drawing mode, and your drawings reappear on screen.
When the box is checked and Epic Pen is turned on, and your mouse pointer can only be used for drawing in Epic Pen. This takes some getting used to. When I am in drawing mode, I found myself feeling helpless without the mouse to countrol actions. But this merely takes some getting used to.
Making A Point
For a financial advisor and other business communicators, drawing on your dektop is helpful when sharing your desktop when meeting online or in-person.
When you show a prospect a financial planning report, being able to circle numbers on a chart helps the client understand what you're saying.
Being able to circile, underline, and scribble words to empasize a point engages your audience.
Watching someone drawing on-screenis is live TV. Its spontaneity is compelling to watch.
With my colleague yesterday, I scribbled on the screen to show the relationship between the two elments on the web page. Seeing my scribbles made it easier for my colleague to understand what I meant about horizontally centering objects on Web page. He finally got it when I scribbled on the screen to show him the precise points where the two elements were to be horizontally centered.
Epic Pen is a great little app.
Tech-Industry Pundit Eviscerates Evernote For Losing His Intellectual Property, But Why Is A Tech Expert Trusting Evernote With His Ideas Without A Backup?
Sunday, January 05, 2014 18:48
Jason Kincaid, a former TechCrunch writer with a reputation for his clever commentary, analysis, and wit yesterday published an eviscerating critique of the world’s most popular note-taking app, Evernote
Entitled, “Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant,” it was perhaps the most damning story ever about a tech company screwup, and it went viral.
While Kincaid is a popular tech writer, his bio says that what he really wants to be is a standup comic, and his latest passion is playing guitar and songwriting, and this very creative guy has saved years of ideas for jokes, columns, and songs on Evernote only to learn that some of his best ideas may have been lost forever by Evernote's cloud-based app.
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“I’ve long held a deep-seated fear that perhaps some of my data has not been saved, that through a syncing error, an accidental overwrite — some of these ideas have been forgotten,” reports Kincaid. “As of last month, I am all but sure of it.” Kincaid goes on to say that he is certain some guitar riffs he recorded are missing, but he fears the extent of Evernote’s failures is far larger than that.
“Evernote’s applications are glitchy to the extreme,” Kincaid says. “They often feel as if they’re held together by the engineering equivalent of duct tape.”
Kincaid’s review of Evernote caused the company’s CEO to contact him and write an overly lengthy reply promising to do better in 2014. Indeed we can be sure Evernote will try to do better.
However, Kincaid should have known better than to entrust a consumer app with his most important asset, his intellectual property.
Evernote has used the freemium pricing model to build a popular consumer app that's great because it is free, but Evernote makes most of its money on a premium service that cost just $45 a year. Companies using a freemium price plan have proven unreliable for professional use.
Kincaid an experienced tech writer and a reallt smart guy who I'd love to have a drkink with, but he should have known that massively popular apps like Evernote have experienced massive failures unacceptable to professoinals.
Kincaid should not be trusting a consumer app to store his ideas without having a reliable backup.
If you make your living on your ideas and trust an app like Evernote, Dropbox, or even Google to store your ideas, you're taking a huge business risk.
This reminds me of the story I wrote about two weeks ago about an advisor who used Gmail's archiving app to meet his RIA's regulatory requirements only to receive an email from Google apologizing for deleting an unknown number of emails that it was supposed to have saved.
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