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Merrill Reinvents Training; Clearing Firms Get Social: April Research—Slideshow

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The cover story of the April issue of Research magazine takes an in-depth look at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s revamped training program. Wholesale revisions began in 2011, aimed at creating what Dwight Mathis, Merrill’s chief of new advisor strategy, calls “the Ivy League of financial advisor training.”

“Clearing Firms Gain a Human Touch,” a feature article in the issue, examines the clearing industry’s ongoing efforts to move beyond its traditional transaction focus. High on the agenda: helping advisors appeal to women clients and navigate social media.

In the latest “Finke on Finance” feature, Michael Finke examines “The Disclosure Paradox,” which is that too much information can be as harmful to retirement plan decisions as too little. Prof. Finke has some thoughts on what kind of information makes for the most helpful disclosures.

There’s much more in the issue, including Bill Good’s “Sales Seminar” column and Alexei Bayer’s latest look at “ The Global Economy.”

To preview this month’s cover story and feature articles, click through the following slides.

Merrill Bulks Up Training

The April cover story by Ellen Uzelac examines an effort to remake advisor preparation, spearheaded by Dwight Mathis (pictured). Excerpt:

In a bold bid to boost performance, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management has re-engineered its iconic training program—adding a national curriculum, compensated mentors and even “breathing breaks.”

The move is likely to be watched closely by industry insiders. As the recruiter Rick Peterson, who heads Houston-based Rick Peterson & Associates, frames it: “I’m not sure any training program has been judged to be good, not when historically only two out of 13 trainees make it in this industry after five years. Any new approach is better than anything that’s been tried in the past. The fact of the matter is we desperately need new financial advisors.”

Read the full article.

Clearing Firms Gain a Human Touch

Jane Wollman Rusoff reports on the clearing industry’s latest moves to broaden its horizons. Excerpt:

One smart way clearing firms are fostering client growth is making broker-dealers aware of the nation’s changing demographics and how this affects their very livelihood. Some clearers have even become founts of knowledge on how to embrace the female investor and the tremendous opportunities therein.

These firms have funded white papers detailing how FAs can better tap into this fertile market by trying to psych out the female psyche.

Read the full article.

The Disclosure Paradox

In the latest “Finke on Finance” feature, Prof. Michael Finke analyzes the effects of retirement plan disclosure requirements. Excerpt:

The defined contribution revolution saw employers shift responsibility for funding retirement to employees who weren’t well equipped to become their own pension manager. One easy solution would seem to be information. Give people the right tools and they’ll be better able to select the right investments, the right advisors, and save the right amount of money. But is more information the key to improving retirement security?

New research provides insight into the promise and perils of disclosure as a policy tool.

Read the full article.

See the contents of the April issue.