Sometimes, it’s hard to decide. Especially if you’re like me and you overthink every little thing. (Just ask my husband.)
Then there are the occasional no-brainers. For example, for some time, I’d been reading our local newspaper online, recycling the print versions untouched. One day, I finally inquired about changing from “Print + Digital” to “Digital Only.” Not only was the switch going to cut our monthly bill in half, it would save a ton of trees. Duh … and now done.
This summer, while attending a Dimensional Fund Advisors workshop in Portland, Oregon, I encountered another no-brainer decision that seemed just as obvious as my digital change-over. I’m talking about Dimensional’s annual Global Investor Insights Survey.
With three surveys under their belt and the next one just released, here are some of the reasons firms that are incorporating Dimensional’s fund line-up for the core of their clients’ portfolios should consider participating every time:
Data Points of Distinction. The survey results are helping advisors like you affix solid numbers to how differently you’re serving your own clients compared to the typical run-around most investors experience (which, hint hint, can be incorporated into your marketing materials).
Client Appreciation. The current survey is designed to be delivered as a tailored reach-out between you and your clients, letting you demonstrate how much you value their candid feedback.
Opportunity Identification. If there are weak spots worth tending to in your service offering, the survey may help you find those as well.
Breaking news. Each year, Dimensional has been refining and modifying its survey to explore new and different avenues. Even if you’ve already participated, each round should yield new insights.
Horse, Meet Water
Why would an evidence-based advisor not participate? Beats me. And yet, when our summer conference hosts asked the room of several hundred attendees who had participated in last year’s survey, I was surprised more hands weren’t raised.
Maybe it’s a matter of time. It’s easy to get so busy on the daily details, even excellent opportunities can slip through the cracks.
To learn more, I reached out to Dimensional’s Head of Advisor Communication Jake DeKinder, who shared with me some of the highlights from past surveys, as well as a preview of some of the newest concepts they’ll be rolling out soon.
Just when I thought cybercriminals and identity thieves couldn’t get any scummier than they already were, I’ve noticed a trickle of articles streaming in reporting a new low for them: child identity theft. Identity thieves are out to swipe your kid’s identifying information (such as a U.S. Social Security Number or Canadian Social Insurance Number) and link it to their own bad behaviors. The Wall Street Journal recently covered the growing crisis. My friends at the BAM ALLIANCE are on the beat as well, with this powerful video from Jared Hoffman.
To nip child identity theft in the bud, let’s turn that trickle of information into a deluge. Like it or not, parents around the world need to be on the look-out for the warning signs these days. That includes periodically checking to see whether your child has a credit history on file – or at least whether their identity does.
To help you share this important information with your community, I’ve created a pair of articles in my Content-Sharing Library, which you can download for free and use according to the Library’s terms of agreement. (In English, the terms essentially grant you licensing rights to remove my identifying information from the materials and brand them as your own; I retain copyright behind the scenes).
So, click on the link to the version of your choice to download it. Edit it to meet your particular needs. Help spread the word!
Especially for those of us who are artistically challenged, stock photos are the bomb. I use them in just about every post I publish, to help make my communications pop.
But there’s a trap to beware of, lest those photo bombs backfire on you. I’ll explain more in a moment, but watch out for stock photos marked “editorial use.”
First, congratulations if you’re using stock photography to begin with. That already puts you miles ahead of anyone who assumes that, just because you can download an image from the Internet, you may. By and large, you may not. If you don’t believe me, enter “photo copyright infringement penalties” into your favorite search engine and feast your eyes on the results.
You know the classic Catch-22 pun: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” Here are a few items I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on lately. As an evidence-based investment advisor, you may want to take a look at them too.
GDPR … It’s Growing on Me
GD-what? It’s not your fault if you’ve not even heard of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Set to go live May 25th, it’s a big deal in Europe, but I might not have heard of it either if I didn’t have a number of colleagues and clients based there. Even then, it only dawned on me a few weeks ago that I may need to comply with portions of it too, as described in this Forbes article.
If you are not collecting, processing or storing any personal information on anyone in the EU, you can probably remain blissfully ignorant about the details. But, I wanted to bring it to your attention anyway because I’m intrigued by its parallels to our would-be fiduciary standards. Think of the GDPR as having a similar mission, but it’s meant to protect people’s personal data instead of their financial well-being.
Note: If you’ve been reading my blog for years, this post may sound familiar. I originally posted a version in 2012. The subject came up again recently, so I decided a redux was in order …
“I know I probably should but …”
What’s your favorite excuse if you don’t routinely ask clients for referrals?
It feels pushy. It’s not my style. This isn’t the right time/place. I forgot. What if it isn’t a good fit? I’m not currently seeking new clients. I’m just no good at it. … Do I have to?
If any or all of these sound familiar, I challenge you to shift your mindset: Asking for referrals doesn’t have to be a chore or an embarrassment, and trust me, the more you do it, the easier and more natural it will become. Once you become comfortable with it, it can become a three-way win for you, your clients and those being referred to you. Here’s how:
Have you ever ended up with so many subjects to write about that you seize up and skip writing anything at all? It happens. Time to get caught up on some of my blogging backlog …
Twenty Over Ten Offers Content Assist
A few weeks ago, I attended one of Twenty Over Ten’s webinars, introducing Content Assist. The new offering struck me as one more reason to consider turning to this firm for your next website build. I especially liked the fact that it provides you with “starter” content, but you can edit it as much or as little as you please to personalize it for your own use. That’s not unlike my own Content-Sharing Library, except theirs is integrated tightly into their website service.
Will there be a content creation alliance between us at some point? Hey, stranger things have happened. No promises, but let me know if that’s of interest to you. Either way, I’d like to think Twenty Over Ten and I go together like Forrest Gump’s peas and carrots. Way to go, Twenty Over Ten!
Good news! This April, the Content-Sharing Library will be five years old. We’re just under 140 worldwide subscribers, with approximately 140 pieces available for download … and growing. Here’s a quick take on some recent updates I’ve made to celebrate and liven up the Library. (ALSO, don’t miss the UPDATED CONTENT announcement bundled into this post.)
Preview the Library Before You Join
Non-members can now preview the Library before subscribing. In preview mode, you’ll be able to browse everything that’s available for members to download. Click on Free Samples, to see how the download process works. When you’re ready to gain full access to the Library, Become a Member, and you’re on your way.
NEW: Updated Material from the Archives
Some of the material in the Library is now several years old, and yet still useful. To make best use of still-relevant material, I’ll be refreshing and re-releasing key content in updated form. You’ll find these updated materials featured in a new category, UPDATED Content.
To launch this initiative, I’ve just loaded an updated version of “The Vital Role of Rebalancing.” Originally released in June 2013, it’s still a timely discussion today.
Easier Access After You Join
Library members can now download content straight from “new content” email announcements or blog posts:
If you’re already logged into the Library, clicking on an email or blog post link (like this updated “Vital Role of Rebalancing” link)– will instantly download the referenced content.
If you’re not yet logged in when you click on a new content link, you’ll be prompted to log in, and then the material will immediately download.
When viewing the Library, members can now also click on the title of the content to download a single piece, or check multiple selection boxes to download several pieces at once.
More Good Content to Come
It’s been a fun ride so far building the Content-Sharing Library. I look forward to adding new materials and continued updates for many more years to come!
As we mad-dash toward another new year, it’s a good time to reflect on fitting friends, old and new.
Take Joe Goldberg, for example, who I met when we both worked at BAM Advisor Services. I went independent back in 2009, while he remained on board as director of retirement plan services until earlier this year. Like me, Joe became his own boss … with a much wider break from past job descriptions. Joe is now in charge of trimming bodies instead of 401(k) accounts at his new fitness studio, TruFusion St. Louis.
I could not be happier for Joe; even back in the day, health & fitness were core to him, as he cajoled BAM conference attendees to get up in the wee hours of the morning to join him for a morning spin. The more sweat, the wider his grin got.
One thing we both took from our years at BAM was a deep appreciation for the “do unto others” mindset you get when you combine dedicated fiduciary advice with rational evidence-based investing. Pair the two together, and you inherently end up with a powerful perspective you can’t ever fully legislate or regulate into being – and that we may too often take for granted.
I realized that when Joe recently posted as follows on Facebook:
Isn’t that just such an “evidence-based advisor” thing to say?
On the threshold of Thanksgiving (here in the U.S. anyway), I pause from my regularly scheduled project list to post some ponderings on the power of a single word.
What’s the Word?
Recently, I was privileged to attend the BAM ALLIANCE 2017 National Conference. Returning to my roots is always part educational, part sentimental, and entirely inspirational; this year was no exception.
I could blather on for pages about some of the insights gained by networking with my peeps. Maybe I will in a future post. But if I were tasked with condensing the entire event into one word, it would be this:
Events ranged from deep dives into academic financial theory, to business development workshops, to helping the local food bank with an outreach program, to pondering the true meaning of happiness. Throughout, I couldn’t help but notice a silver thread of empathy connecting all of us attendees, fund managers, financial service providers and keynote speakers alike.
Did you catch Jason Zweig’s recent post, “It’s the Little Things That Can Color an Investor’s Outlook”? In it, he shared the results of a recent study on how strongly we behaviorally biased humanoids can be swayed simply by the color in which our investment choices are displayed. When participants saw financial losses in fire-alarm red instead of benign black and white, their responses were more frequently stained with the telltale fingerprints of fear and risk aversion … unless, unsurprisingly, they were colorblind.
So that’s one interesting data point suggesting that the colors in your communications may matter more than you realize, and not always as you might expect from a financial accounting point of view.
This important message, often overlooked, reminds me of an article I stumbled across recently by software developer Nick Babich, entitled “Red, White, and Blue.” Babich is a self-described “UI/UX lover,” which may sound nefarious but it means he concentrates on how to improve websites’ user interface (UI) and user experience (UE).
In other words, colors are his bag, baby. He offers several other reasons you should be more in touch with your and your clients’ inner rainbow than you may currently be.