Social Security Wise: Content is King.

As Bill Gates said, “Content is king.” If you’re content isn’t
good, your online image is actually damaged. Typical
financial advisor websites feature content that is both
uninspiring and unemotional. At Wealth2k we refer to such
websites as online sedatives. No advisor’s economic future
is well served by a website that’s a sleep aid.

Lots of research addresses the importance of good content:

“Content makes your business shine over Internet.”
“Content originality must not be ignored.”
“High quality, original content will help you to reach
out to those people who want to gain knowledge.”

Source: www.visual.ly

Financial Advisors no longer have to tolerate sub-par websites. Visit www.sswise.com. Click here:

A website that isn’t seen can’t generate leads

A website that isn’t seen can’t generate leads.

This is why Wealth2k has developed a simple and effective strategy that financial advisors
may use to tap the power of online marketing using Google AdWords.

To get their websites in front of potential customers, companies representing every sector of the U.S. economy commit advertising dollars to AdWords. But at a combined $4 Billion in 2012, no industries spend more than insurance and finance. This should be a clear message to independent financial advisors about the importance of online marketing. No advisor’s economic future is well served by a website that’s a sleep aid.

Social Security Wise reinvents financial advisors’ ability to market successfully online.

Social Security Wise Reinvents Client Prospecting for Financial Advisors

Advisors: The Biggest ROI

3 out of 4 middle market and semi-affluent households actually prefer to work with an independent financial advisor. So, if you get your online experience right, you stand to acquire new clients. Given the low cost of licensing Social Security Wise™, and considering the importance of the income planning business opportunity to your future success, attracting even one new client with Social Security Wise™ will provide you a stratospheric ROI.

Social Security Wise™ isn’t an ordinarily business investment Rather, it’s a strategic investment with long-range, positive implications for your future business success. Visit Social Security Wise.

* Source: “Is there Magic in the Middle Market?” LIMRA, 2009

Wealth2k Introduces Social Security Wise: Breathhrough Prospecting Solution for Financial Advisors

Remember the hamburger commercial with the famous line, “Where’s the beef?” That reminds us of Social Security income planning: Where’s the prospecting?

The financial services industry has recognized the importance of Social Security. The energy being applied to the issue is off the charts! However, while enormous effort has been expended on developing strategy analyzer software, there’s been almost no effort committed to addressing advisors’ biggest need: PROSPECTING.

Wealth2k has spent one-year developing Social Security Wise™. We know that you’ll be amazed by how such a high-quality, high-tech and highly-impressive PROSPECTING SOLUTION can be acquired for such a small amount of money. See Social Security Wise-

The “Bucket War” of 2009: Now that everyone seems to have discovered “Buckets,” what’s next?

You may not have noticed, but over the summer a “Buckets” war broke out in the retirement income business. It seems that everyone has discovered “Buckets,” a reference to time-segmented asset allocation or “laddered” income-generation strategies.

In June of this year the non-profit National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) launched a retirement income-focused website called Decumulation.org. The website highlights a strategy to, “to split your money into three buckets. Each “bucket” covers a certain period of years and holds different types of investments, depending on the time period covered.”

In July, both Russell Investments and Nationwide unveiled their versions of “Buckets.” Russell based it’s version on a four-Bucket strategy, naming them the “Endowment Bucket,” the “Kids’ and Bequest Bucket,” the “Lifestyle Bucket” and the “Essentials Bucket.”

Not to be outdone, Nationwide’s program, known as RetireSense, is based upon five, five year “Buckets” that Nationwide has called “Life Segments.” With it’s program it appears that Nationwide has copied Wealth2k’s program, The Income for Life Model. “Buckets” of five-years’ duration not to mention expropriating the “Segment” nomenclature seems like a copy to me. Where did Nationwide get these ideas?

In August, a group called Sequent introduced a program called “Better Buckets” that is based upon a three-Bucket design. I suspect that Raymond Lucia, CFP, author of the book entitled Buckets of Money may object to all this “Bucketizing!” He owns a trademark on the term buckets.

Having been “on the street” with a laddered income generation strategy (The Income for Life Model) since 2003,I’m thrilled that so many others have joined the party. It’s a positive development. Time-segmentation offers very real economic advantages as well as psychological and behavioral benefits that are just as important. Look no further than the experiences over the course of the market breakdown of advisors who had recommended The Income for Life Model. They and their clients are in much better shape than most. I’ve “lived the difference” with these advisors. It’s quite real.

So we have a bevy of “Buckets” but do we have a winning strategy? Maybe. Wealth2k’s focus is not to force a predetermined number of “Buckets” on an investor. Rather it is to craft n income-generation plan that utilizes precisely the number of “Buckets” that best meets the investor’s needs. Doesn’t that make more sense? Moreover, the Wealth2k approach begins with assessing the investor’s need for guaranteed retirement income and then proceeds to “build a floor” of guaranteed retirement income undet the time-segmented strategy.

More and more people are learnng about outcome-focused retirement income investing strategies including time-segmentation. You may enjoy visiting the first website Wealth2k has built for investors. It’s IFLMMovie.com. I would appreciate your thoughts about it.

The “Facebook-ing” of Retirement Income

What factors stand in the way of independent advisors and broker-dealers maximizing their success in the retirement income and Rollover IRA markets? It’s a complicated question with multiple answers including the impact of potentially disruptive changes in the regulatory landscape.

One area that I am convinced will really matter is the quality of advisor-client communications. Financial advisors, like most business people, are being affected by customers’ preferences and habits when it comes to evaluating products and services. The nature of the evaluating process is changing, with online research and validation becoming ever more important.

I recently wrote an article for Kerry Pechter’s Retirement Income Journal that addresses how the behavior of high-quality, Web savvy prospects for retirement income services may impact advisors’ future success. If you would like to read the article, click here.

The Coming “Framework Culture” and the Adoption of a Blanket Fiduciary Standard; Forces for Regulatory Reform, Boomer Retirement Income Security Needs Will Level the Regulatory Playing Field

With so much upheaval in the economy one wonders about what changes may arise in the not too distant future. In that context let me offer two predictions:

Prediction Number One: All advisors will be deemed to be fiduciaries within 1-2 years.

There could be no development more disruptive to today’s financial products distribution landscape than the leveling of the regulatory playing field and the categorizing of all advisors as fiduciaries. It’s coming. Inevitable, in my judgment. RIAs, brokers and insurance agents will all operate on a level playing field and the results will be spectacularly disruptive. Start planning now.

In the Post Madoff, post-Lehman, post-AIG world of financial services, the investing customer- especially the Boomer investing customer- will not tolerate anything less than a fiduciary standard of care. What Boomer customer (when he or she understands the difference, and they will) won’t prefer to have his/her financial interests placed first?

Different industries will look at and respond differently to the forces pushing us toward the adoption of a blanket fiduciary standard.” How will industries react? Look for a bifurcated response between the investment management and insurance industries.

Life Insurers

This is a true inflection point for insurers. Will they opt to embrace transparency and retool their distribution models? My guess is that many insurers will be late to react and then do whatever possible to delay (defeat) the adoption of the blanket fiduciary standard. There is also the issue of distraction. Those insurers seeking to invalidate SEC rule 151(a) through a legal challenge will continue to expend energy on this effort. But whether that are or are not successful may not matter much in the final analysis. The regulatory environment is shifting under the insurers and unless they grasp the magnitude of the coming disruption they will be caught flatfooted and unprepared.

Investment Managers

How will the investment management industry respond? In a recent InvestmentNews article the Investment Company Institute’s President & CEO, Paul Schott Stevens, was quoted as backing adoption of a blanket fiduciary standard. He stated that a fiduciary standard, “…does provide a higher standard of responsibility and accountability,” and he asked, “Isn’t that something that all of our recent experience suggests is important?” After Madoff and company, who could reasonably argue that the answer to that question should be answered “yes?” Not the Boomers, I’m betting.

After suffering $Trillions in investment losses the Boomers will demand a fiduciary standard of care from every advisor they engage with.

With Obama atop the Federal government we are likely to see a return to a Carter-like strengthening of Federal regulation, generally. In terms of financial services, following $8Trillion of accumulated bailouts/guarantees and back-stops, the forces for intense regulation cannot be stopped. This probably means, among other things, Federal takeover of insurance regulation (to prevent the next AIG).

Prediction Number Two: The traditional product-centric/asset allocation culture will be supplanted by a new “Framework Culture” that is better equipped to recognize and manage the full spectrum of a retiree’s risks.

In the framework culture investing (financial capital) doesn’t go away but it does change. The investing strategies employed in the framework culture will be far more outcome-focused and funded by complimentary products that are mixed strategically in order to optimize overall performance.

In the framework culture “performance” isn’t defined by investing alpha as much as it is by “psychological alpha,” the investor’s ability to persist with the overall retirement security strategy through even the bleakest periods of investment performance.

“Psychological alpha” can be delivered by time-segmentation of assets and the inclusion of a lifetime “income floor” that collectively provide predictable retirement income and appropriate exposure to upside investment opportunity in accordance with the investor’s preferences and risk tolerance. Importantly, “risk tolerance” in this context focuses on evaluation of retirement income risk tolerance.

Products will come and go over time, but the framework endures. Products will be tweaked with innovation in order to match performance with objectives. But the enduring framework provides an understandable, monitorable roadmap.

Other forms of capital such as Social Capital and Human Capital are critically important in the framework culture. In fact, one could argue that these types of capital have taken on more importance than at any time since the introduction of Social Security. Outsized losses in qualified and non-qualified investment accounts, low personal savings and few defined benefit plans are only some of the factors that accelerate the need for a re-definition of retirement income planning. Significantly, this is already taking place. At the Retirement Income Industry Association the next-generation advisory process is being developed, and it can’t arrive quickly enough. (See March 2009 Research Magazine article by RIIA Chairman, Francois Gadenne).

The movement toward blanket adoption of the fiduciary standard and the arrival of the framework culture are disruptive developments that will ultimately serve the best interests of investors. They are developments that will also serve the interest of companies that demonstrate their ability to successfully adapt to a new way of doing business.

Please let me know if you agree with these predictions.

©Copyright 2009 David A. Macchia. All rights reserved.

The SEC Rules Indexed Annuities Are Indeed Securities; Which Companies Will Now Leverage the Obama Success Model?

Nothing happens in a vacuum. If it weren’t for Dateline NBC it’s very likely that the SEC wouldn’t have voted today to characterize indexed annuities as securities. You’ll recall Dateline’s “sting” operation featuring hidden cameras and shills posing as annuity prospects. In the post-Dateline environment the SEC apparently could not fail to act. Chairman Cox, after all, kicked-off the Commission’s June 25 open meeting by playing excerpts from the Dateline program. For all practical purposes the mass media exposure of annuity sales practices sealed the fate of indexed annuities as fixed contracts- death by video.

On June 26 I stated that the indexed annuity business would grow in spite of the SEC’s action. I still see it the same. Once again, today’s events are not taking place in a vacuum. The meltdown in the equity markets has driven investors to seek safe money alternatives. The big question for the future of indexed annuities is how product providers choose to respond. Will their worldview change?

Product providers that embrace consumer-oriented contract designs, transparency, innovative marketing technology and quality investor education will be nicely positioned for growth. Such companies will capitalize on the demographically-driven movement of money that craves principal protection combined with upside growth potential. Talk about a perfect context for sales!

Make no mistake; it will take more than a “tweak” to the insurer’s business model. Companies that lead in the next months and years will have seen the need to offer new types of value to both investors and distributors. They’ll race ahead of competitors who cling to the tactics and strategies of the past. They’ll tailor their value proposition to appeal to distributors they never before needed.

Technology, which has historically unleashed so much instability in the annuity industry, is the key to helping the industry reach its full potential. One need only to look at the election of Barack Obama to see the technological /communications model the annuity industry needs to duplicate: succinct expression of its value proposition delivered to a mass audience via technology. Life by video.

What worked for Obama can work for annuities.

©Copyright 2008 David A. Macchia. All rights reserved.