When motorcycle gangs in Michigan are lining up to give blood and four little Virginia girls can raise $10,000 for the Red Cross by holding a couple of car washes, you begin to realize just how much everyone wants to find some way, any way, to help the victims and families of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Planner Rosanne Grande was driving to work through a small village on Long Island, home to many of New York City’s firefighters and policemen, when she passed a church where a memorial service for a firefighter had just ended. The steps and sidewalks outside the church were jammed with men in blue uniforms as they poured out of the church–big men holding tightly to the tiny hands of their children. “It was heartbreaking,” says Grande, managing director of R.W. Rog? and Company in Bohemia, New York.
Grande is now putting her emotions into action, using her professional skills to help families maintain their financial footing even as the whole world seems to have shifted beneath their feet. Through efforts organized by the CFP Board, NAPFA, the FPA, and Worth magazine, among others, Grande and other planners will be providing free financial planning assistance to families directly affected by the terrorist attacks. “If we can help anyone even in the smallest way,” says Grande, “I’ll feel like I did something.”
Along with other firms on the Worth list of the “top 250 advisors in the nation,” Grande’s firm will be participating in the Worth Task Force, an effort that will collaborate with the Uniformed Fire Officers Assoc-iation to provide free financial planning services to the families of firefighters killed on September 11. Information about firms and planners will be distributed to the firefighters’ unions so that it is available to families when they are emotionally ready to think about financial matters. “More than likely, we will try to help the widows or widowers gather the required documentation, and help them sort through the paperwork that survivors need to complete to apply for life insurance benefits and Social Security survivor benefits. And we’ll be there for them,” says Grande.
More than 50 planners have volunteered to help out through the CFP Board’s pro bono effort (www.cfp-board.org/financialhelp.html). Families of victims can call or e-mail the CFP Board with questions, and receive within one business day a list of planners with expertise in their areas of concern. “They can then e-mail or call the planners to get answers to their questions, or set up an appointment,” says CFP Board spokesman Doug Nogami.
The New York State Society of CPAs and NAPFA are setting up referral lines for families affected by the terrorist attacks. “We’re very anxious to help, but many of these people are still in shock and not quite ready to focus on financial matters,” says NAPFA Chairman Steve Kanaly. “So we’re taking a little more time to make sure that we’ve got the right people in the right place at the right time.” Planners wishing to volunteer can contact Doug Nogami at the CFP Board at 303-839-0667; contact the New York Society of CPAs at 212-719-8356; or contact Ellen Turfe at NAPFA at 800-366-2732.
FPA President Guy Cumbie has encouraged members to offer as much free financial planning assistance to victims’ families as they can. “If the goal of our organization is to help people achieve their goals and dreams, we must also be willing to help them overcome their fears and concerns at a time of national crisis,” he wrote in a mid-September missive.–Karen Hansen Weese
Terror’s Paper Trail
As part of the war against terrorism, the SEC asks advisors to check their records
T he Sec is urging advisors and other securities-related entities to rummage through their records to find possible relationships or transactions they may have had with the individuals and groups named in President Bush’s executive order on terrorism.
The SEC is also asking securities-related firms to alert any foreign subsidiaries and affiliates of the request. Information can be e-mailed to the SEC at [email protected].
John Baker, a securities lawyer with Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young in Washington, doubts terrorists would have used an advisor. But while the request is voluntary, Baker counsels advisors to check their records nonetheless because if they ignore the SEC request now, and then discover later that they did have such a relationship, “there could be repercussions in the court of public opinion, or in relationships with regulators.”
But even if a relationship surfaced, the suspected terrorist could freeze access to his records under the Right to Financial Privacy Act (RFPA), Baker says. The RFPA says customers must receive notice prior to the release of financial information so they can challenge the release. However, there are several important exceptions, three of which are pertinent.
First is “voluntary disclosure by a financial institution,” or section 3403(c). This section states that a financial institution may notify a government authority of the existence of such information, but the released information can only contain the name of the individual, corporation, or account and the nature of the activity.
Second is section 3414(a), “Disclosure pursuant to request by a government authority conducting foreign intelligence activities.” This allows you to show customer records to a government authority authorized to conduct foreign intelligence activities. So an advisor could turn over the information to the FBI, for instance, without complying with the notice provision of the RFPA. However, the advisor should get a certificate of compliance with the RFPA from the government authority.
And section 3414(b), “disclosure required due to imminent danger,” allows a federal government authority to obtain financial records if a delay in obtaining them would cause physical injury to any person, serious property damage, or flight to avoid prosecution.–Melanie Waddell
Although the FPA cancelled its annual convention due to the events of September 11, financial planners from the New York metropolitan area gathered recently in Mahwah, New Jersey, to attend the FPA Members Forum 2001.
Keynote speaker Jonathan Clements of The Wall Street Journal spoke on investor psychology, noting that a sense of excitement and a need to feel involved in a larger community drives the majority of investors. This dynamic, Clements says, will keep the market strong.
When asked to give his prediction for the near future of the stock market, Clements joked that in the past he has said it will either go up or down, though he believes the market is somewhat undervalued at the moment. “We’re still at very high multiples of earnings, very low dividend yields, and very low multiples of book value,” he says.
Attendee Paula Kennedy, a senior manager at Deloitte & Touche in New York, attended a session moderated by Bob Veres that addressed how advisors were dealing with clients in the post-September 11 atmosphere.
“What came out of the Veres session is that planners realize that they are not always trained to handle intense emotions in clients,” said Kennedy. “It seemed most planners wished they’d had more training in how to handle emotions.”–Josh LeBaron
Online Advs: The Experience Could Be Better
The SEC’s Form ADV Web site is up and running at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. But while the site boasts a clean design, it has a way to go before it can be termed truly user-friendly.
The site lets anyone search for your electronic ADV form. But once the firm’s name pops up, the process bogs down. The site displays an advisor’s full ADV form, which for those with slow dial-up Net connections can yield a snail’s-pace download. Displaying the ADV for Leuthold Weeden Capital Management, the Minneapolis-based advisory firm, took two and a half minutes on my Apple G3 PowerBook with a DSL hookup.
The Adviserinfo database is not complete yet. Currently, only investment advisor firms are listed; the SEC says it will list individual investment advisor firm reps “in the future.” Nor does the site contain the names of advisors who haven’t filed electronically.
Adviserinfo’s searchability also needs improvement. The site features a list of predetermined searches, but some categories are not that clear. And it would be nice if users could also search the entire database for firms of a certain size, those with clean disciplinary records, or ones licensed only in particular states. For those features, we’ll either have to wait for a new release, or until a commercial database vendor figures out how to make a buck off slicing and dicing the ADV filings a better way.–William Glasgall
Doctors, Lawyers . . .
In a major shift, a ruling allows attorneys in New York to set up shop with other professionals
Going back to a time when lawyers on American soil were still referred to in the English tradition as barristers, the legal profession has zealously guarded the notion that its participants must remain absolutely independent from any contractual or financial relationships with non-lawyers.