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Hello, Again

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The more things change, they more they remain the same. The last time my name perched at the top of the Investment Advisor masthead, I was temporarily running the editorial operations here during the interregnum in the summer of 2000 that followed the purchase of the magazine from Dow Jones by Wicks Business Information, our current benevolent owners. Recalling that heady time–it was 2000 after all–and looking back over the issues that I shepherded along to publication back then, two truths came to mind.

The first can be summed up in that old French adage, Plus ??a change, plus c’est la m??me chose. The issues that energized, motivated, and bedeviled independent advisors back then were in many ways the same as they are today. In the May 2000 IA, for instance, we wrote about broker/dealers “lining up to provide you with fee-based services”; in this issue, our cover story starting on page 64 reveals who you, our readers, picked as the 15th annual Broker/Dealers of the Year. In an interview in that same issue in 2000, the great Peter Bernstein expounded on the importance of diversification in a portfolio; this month on page 84, Icon Advisers’ founder Craig Callahan cites the numbers to support his argument that the use of style boxes to pick investments militates against that very diversification in a client’s portfolio. He goes on to suggest that advisors let money managers act “outside the boxes” to find the best investing opportunities. Five years ago, columnist Olivia Mellan proffered lessons learned from her therapist experience to help clients avoid their naturally dysfunctional behavior; in a fascinating article this month beginning on page 122, Olivia relates the latest findings in brain physiology and chemistry to explore why women and men think and act differently about money matters. Olivia’s article is the first in a series of three scheduled this fall that will explore the nuances surrounding gender and financial planning.

Truth number two is that change does happen, as shown by several features in this month’s issue. For one thing, advisors must do a better job of planning for their retirement just as the very notion of retirement is undergoing a sea change–see page 134. The expectations of clients are changing as well, as the findings of a Moss Adams–Schwab Institutional survey show on page 102.

One of the modest changes I instituted five years ago was to place a telephone number or e-mail address in the bio paragraph that ends each column and feature story. That’s worked quite well–our staff and freelance contributors report that they often hear from you seeking clarification or voicing disagreement with their writing. That’s great, even if an unintended consequence is that fewer readers send letters to the editor, because we’re in the business of communications. We serve as a forum for your concerns, and that means you should be able to influence what appears in these pages, on our Web site, and in our electronic newsletters. We’ll be stepping up that communications effort in the months ahead. We’ll be surveying you by e-mail to find out what you want from us, and we’ll reserve the final page of each month’s magazine for your comments on the IA Soapbox (see page 204).

As with any great organization, the person at the top is less important than the people who support the structure. Without that foundational support, after all, any edifice could easily topple. The professional talents of the IA editorial staff–Bob Keane, Melanie Waddell, Liana Roberts, Kate McBride, and Scott Valenzano–will insure that we continue to provide you with the news, information, opinion, and insight that you need to better do your jobs.

Just as you overlay your own judgment over the data you gather on behalf of picking your clients’ portfolios and writing their financial plans, we’ll also exercise our own judgment. But we want and value your input. Feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]