Looking more broadly at the industry, were you surprised at TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey’s recent announcement that he will depart?
Amy Webber, Cambridge: I was. At these [institutional] platforms, it’s a pretty consistent positioning statement that they have to take between serving the advisors and serving the investors, and … that’s unlike our industry.
As they come out with things that may appear to be competitive to some of their constituency, … it could be that he was being asked to do something he wasn’t fully comfortable with or vice-versa. It’s hard to tell. Did it come down to some sort of a difference of opinion between him and the board about who the actual client of the company was? Interesting.
We would like to get your “quick take” on a few issues, like ESG/SRI/impact investing. Thoughts?
David Stringer, Prospera: We just haven’t had a lot of demand for it.
Ralph DeVito, The Investment Center: Not much interest in it so far.
Webber: Huge demand. We are about to roll out our impact investing digital platform at our national conference, Ignite, in the fall.
The markets/market cycle?
Webber: Challenging, but isn’t that the time where advisors can show their value to investors?
DeVito: I’d be cautious at these levels, especially with the international political turmoil.
Stringer: These markets almost feel like a public utility to me, being driven more by interest rates, Federal Reserve policy than actual performance and stock buybacks.
How about Federal Reserve independence?
Stringer: Post-financial crisis, some moves that were made were unprecedented. We don’t know how we’re going to unpack [them], when it’s all said and done.
Lon Dolber, American Portfolios: The Fed must remain independent. They are getting pressured.
Webber: More independent.
DeVito: Is the Fed really independent?
Negative interest rate?
DeVito: Not good.
Stringer: The are trillions of dollars with negative interest rates over in Europe. That’s going to come home to roost someday.
Trade wars, tariffs?