August 10, 2011

Look at GOP Candidates; Markowitz Defends MPT; 10 Team Building Mistakes: August Research—Slideshow

The August issue of Research considers economic issues, storyselling, social media and more

In August's Research cover story (“Does Anyone Have a Real Economic Plan?”), financial analyst and author Nicole Gelinas laments the absence of meaningful debate on the one key issue in today’s economy: the houses of debt Americans are living in. She proposes a possible solution, but warns that failure to address the problem will cast a long pall on the economy.

Global Economy columnist Alexei Bayer calls for a balanced-budget amendment along with tax hikes sufficient to fund our current spending as a means of bringing voters to the polls to once and for all make choices about the size and scope of government we have.

Looking at advisors’ practices, this issue has Bill Good’s rendition of the top 10 biggest mistakes advisors make in building teams –based on his decades-long experience with some 5,000 teams. And we speak with Nancy Duarte, a leading practitioner in the field of storyselling sharing tips with advisors on how to emotionally connect with clients and prospects.

Click through the following slides to preview other content in the August issue of Research.

August Research slideshow cover story image

Does Anyone Have a Real Economic Plan?

The conventional wisdom is that Barack Obama, presiding over a sinking economy, is in a heap of trouble come the next election. Yet author and financial analyst Nicole Gelinas argues the conventional wisdom may work about as well as it has elsewhere over the past decade. Remember, home prices can never fall nationwide. The financial system can easily withstand what will be a “soft landing” in housing. After such a sudden, severe recession, job growth will be quick.

In other words, Gelinas holds the conventional wisdom may be completely unreliable — including the notion that any president who can’t deliver on the economy will be, as Obama put it a month after taking office, a “one-term proposition.” A key reason for this is the failure so far of the president’s challengers to understand why the collapse of the housing market is far more devastating than a stock market crash. Gelinas explains what kind of policy might effectively address the fact that at least a quarter of homeowners are “underwater” on their mortgages.

August Research slideshow Duarte

The Presenter as Mentor

For speaking to large groups or presenting one-on-one, there’s no more compelling way to package your message than in a story framework. Indeed, two of the most powerful presentations in history, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, used storytelling as a structural device.

In her most recent book, Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences (Wiley 2010), Nancy Duarte reveals how to emotionally connect and make presentations memorable experiences by employing story techniques typically used only for screenwriting and novels.

Duarte Design, her Silicon Valley design firm, has created some 250,000 presentations for the world’s top brands. Its clients include Adobe, American Express, E*Trade, General Electric, Google, Microsoft and Wells Fargo Wealth Management, to name a few. In this interview, she shares ideas on how to build trust through storytelling with financial advisors.

August Research slideshow Markowitz

Nobelist, Updated

As the father of modern portfolio theory, Dr. Harry Markowitz needs no introduction. His first published article in 1952 provided a framework for how investors could most effectively face uncertainty. Seven years later, his groundbreaking book Portfolio Selection: Efficient Diversification of Investments expanded on the relationship of risk and return — a concept ubiquitous in investing today.

But Markowitz, a Nobel laureate honored in 1990 for his pioneering work, is not resting on his laurels or indeed his laureate.

Markowitz, who turns 84 this month, is working in collaboration with Dallas-based 1st Global on a new book that refines his earlier thinking about risk and return. Its goal: to provide investors with even better information about what they should expect from their portfolio selections over the long haul.

Says Markowitz: “While it is true that the well-advised investor may encounter unanticipated hardships, the ill-advised investor courts almost certain disaster.”

August Research slideshow Bill Good teambuilding

Ten Mistakes in Team Building

Sales Seminar columnist Bill Good has been involved in some 5,000 financial advisor teams over the years. He knows their strengths and their weaknesses. In this article, he explains the 10 biggest mistakes advisors make in the team building process.

Here is a small sample of Bill’s wit and wisdom: “There is a huge difference between a bunch of people doing stuff, and a team. Think about a baseball team. When it’s time to pitch the ball, the team members know to throw it to the pitcher. The catcher does not even think for a second of throwing it to the shortstop who will then pitch to the batter. Every one of the nine positions has a precisely defined role.

“Imagine a baseball team with no job descriptions. Nine people go on the field. The umpire throws out a ball. What do they do? Most likely bicker and argue over who is going to do what. Ditto for a financial services team with no job descriptions.”

Democracy’s Price

Early Americans were finely attuned to the connection between taxation and self-rule. They had to be: the new nation effectively grew out of the Boston Tea Party with its battle cry “No Taxation without Representation.” Even earlier, British constitutional law was shaped by English monarchs’ need for a steady tax flow to pay for the Royal Navy (rather than relying mainly on manpower as Europe’s continental powers did). This required the crown to cooperate with wealthy barons and ultimately devolve power. That’s why Britain had the Magna Carta back in the 13th century, whereas France stayed absolutist.

In our own day, Bayer calls for a balanced budget amendment and across-the-board tax hikes on everyone – the rich, the poor and corporations — sufficient to fund the current level of government spending.

Says Bayer: “You’d be surprised how taxpayers would swamp the polls in the next election to kick the bums out and elect a president and Congress that will institute genuine public finance reform.”

August Research slideshow social media

Mastering Social Media

In a sign of the times, 600 advisors at an Investment Management Consultants Association conference recently crammed into a training session called “Get Linked In, Not Left Out: Compliance Friendly Ways to Harness Social Media’s Power in Your Practice.” That’s no typo: 600.

As presenter Kip Gregory, a social media expert, puts it: “It points to the level of interest people have — and the desire for clarity and background. It encapsulates the single issue that most advisors are centering on: How do I use this in a way that (A) is relevant to my business and (B) doesn’t get me in trouble?”

The good news for the advisor: Regulatory compliance, a chief concern, should become clearer when FINRA expands upon its social media guidance later this year. Also, firms such as Socialware, Erado, Arkovi and Actiance are rolling out new and improved technology solutions to help advisors stay compliant as they tweet, blog and connect.

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