NAPFA 2017 Fall Conference in Orlando was a Hit!

As you can tell by my smiling face above, we had a terrific time at this year’s NAPFA (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) Fall conference.

AssetBook’s COO, Neel Dattani and I convened with about 300 fee-only financial planners at the Omni Resort in Orlando for one of our most successful conferences to date.Neel

Thanks to Ric Haines, the conference coordinator, we had a prime location in the exhibit hall. We were amazed by the number of clients (at least a dozen) that came by to say hello. We also had a large number of prospective clients stop to see and learn about AssetBook.

It was really great when we had a mix of both current and prospective clients at the booth because our current clients were the ones selling AssetBook to the prospective clients.  It’s hard to beat these strong referrals, especially with this tight-knit group of advisors.


Featured presentation:

In light of the recent Equifax and other data breached, the topic that was trending the most was cybersecurity.  Identity theft expert John Sileo did a keynote presentation on “The Hacker’s Blacklist – Top Threats and Countermeasures for Data Security.”

John’s discussion helped advisors to:

  • Answer the critically important “WHY” of security training before explaining the “HOW TO”
  • Clarify answers to questions like “What is cyber security?” and “How does cybersecurity work?”
  • Convert “humans as your weakest link” into your greatest competitive advantage
  • Prioritize threat trends, such as ransomware, cyber blackmail, Internet of Things, and Denial of Service (DDoS)
  • Detect, reflect and react to social engineering & fraud tools from phishing to pre-texting
  • Build a tactical white-list of critical data, necessary computer security conversations, and next steps

HACKER@2x

One thing that I found fascinating was when he talked about setting up a network on his laptop while sitting in the lobby of the Omni resort the day prior to his presentation.  He named the network “Omni Free”, and in less than an hour dozens of users logged on to his phony network.  Once they logged in, he could read files, emails, etc.  It was a real eye-opener for everyone in the room.

For more information about expert speaker John Sileo, check out Sileo.com.


The conference was everything that we could have hoped for, from the content to the location and venue.  Most importantly, the quality of advisors attending the conference was as good as it gets.  Thanks to all NAPFA organizers for putting on a terrific conference.

 

AssetBook’s 2017 Power Up User’s Conference is slated for September 27-29

Be A Radar Power User!

We want to cordially invite you to attend this year’s Power Up User’s and Training conference.  The event will again be held on September 27-29 at Rocky Gap Resort and Casino which is nestled in the mystic mountains of Western Maryland.

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Our expert trainers will teach you everything you need to know to become a Radar Power User!  We will offer both basic training and advance breakout sessions.

Past attendees of our user’s conference have raved about the content of the our training sessions as well as the venue.  Check out the video below to hear what AssetBook users who attended our Power Up conference last year had to say…

Call us today to reserve your spot.  See you in September!

Announcing direct data feed from Utah Educational Savings Plans (USEP)

AssetBook is proud to formally introduce its newest integration partner, Utah Educational Savings Plans (USEP).  Many of our advisors have given high praise to USEP, so we wanted to share some information about their 529 platform.

Trend UESP

  • As of 2011, assets in direct-sold vs advisor-sold 529 plans were even—50 percent of the industry was with direct-sold plans, where the other 50 percent was with advisor-sold plans.
  • Since then, direct-sold plans have continued to see the largest growth in the industry.
  • As of the second quarter in 2016, direct-sold plans have $127 billion in assets versus $108 billion for advisor-sold plans.
  • More advisors are going toward direct-sold plans due to lower costs, simplicity, and age-based options.

Federal Tax Benefits

  • Earnings exempt from federal income tax if used
  • for qualified higher education expenses
  • Accounts held outside taxable estate
  • Treated as completed gift to the beneficiary
  • Five-year election (IRS Form 709)

Tax Bene

State Tax Benefits

State Benes

  • The rule of thumb regarding tax benefits and 529s is to tell people to look at their state’s plan first. If they have a state plan that offers tax benefits, they may want to invest in their state’s plan. It depends on their individual tax situation.
  • Looking at the graphic, the 16 states in blue either have no state income tax or no state tax incentives for residents. Residents of these states don’t have any enticement to stay within their state’s plan, so it affords them the opportunity to shop around and consider other states’ 529 plans.
  • The six states in green are tax parity states: Arizona, Montana, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Maine. Think about tax parity like the anti-home-court advantage—there’s a tax incentive for investing in that state’s 529 plan, but the state will offer the same incentive for any plan they choose, whether it’s the home plan or not.
  • The states in grey offer tax benefits. Some states might not have tax benefits that outweigh the fees or the tax benefit might not be an incentive. The account owner might also want to invest up to the maximum benefit for their state, and then invest anything beyond that amount in another state’s plan.
  • Each account owner must consider his or her individual tax situation.

About UESP

  • The “all-in” asset-weighted fee includes the underlying expense ratio of the funds plus the UESP Administrative Asset Fee.
  • Highly ranked by Morningstar, Kiplinger’s, Money magazine, and consumer advocate Clark Howard. UESP is one of three gold-rated Morningstar plans, and UESP has received Morningstar’s top rating 11 of 13 years.
  • UESP offers both Vanguard and Dimensional funds.

For more information, contact UESP directly.

Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) 

Direct: 801.869.8926 | uesp.org

Toll Free: 800.418.2551 | Fax: 801.321.7299

Joel Bruckenstein’s 2017 T3 Conference was the Biggest to Date

This year’s T3 (Technology Tools for Today) conference attracted an impressive number of attendees.  With more than 600 in attendance, the conference has doubled in size the past several years.

The conference also seems to be THE venue for fin-tech firms to announce new ventures, software versions, and integrations.  There is no better conference for advisors keen on keeping up with cutting edge technology in the financial services sector.

T3

AssetBook exhibitors Jimmy Wilkes and Rob Major

Takeaways:

We noticed a couple of trends creating buzz at the show… most notably robo technology for advisors and truly seamless integration of advisor technology.

On the robo front, we noticed that in addition to established portals like Betterment and Oranj, systems new to the space like Advisor Engine not only showed up but sponsored the conference at the Platinum level.  Riskalyze announced its own new robo-esque platform as well.

It appears that advisors are continuing to embrace the technology that the robos are bringing to the table.  These platforms eliminate the need for human intervention to assist in client onboarding, risk profiling, model design and implementation.

Seamless integration of advisor facing apps may seem like a broken record at this point.  Some of you may remember the decade-old Silver Bullet campaign.  Until now, it really hasn’t evolved all that much as most integrations between advisor apps still use old-school “push-pull” techniques or old-school web services.

Modern APIs are the key to achieving rich and meaningful integration of your CRM, PMS, Planning and Trading systems.  It also seems like the custodians may play a role in connecting the APIs in a standard way.

Presentations:

As always, we enjoyed the speakers, especially Bob Veres.

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Bob was talking about “The One Solution”, which refers to his theory that the financial planning industry is basically “stalled” in terms of advisors attracting new clients.  In summary, Bob presented a viable solution to the problem that included employing younger succession advisors, improving your on-line presence including digital reporting, leveraging communication technology (like Skype and Facetime), and building niche communities of clients to serve.

The presentation was enlightening and Bob goes into detail on his theory, as well as many other revelations in his new book named The New Profession.  In our opinion, the book is excellent and is a must-read for financial professionals.

Finally, Rob Major spoke on the topic of identity fraud in a presentation named “The $100,000 Lesson Learned.”  He shared a true story about how a client of a well-established RIA firm was victimized by a fraudster, and how and why the RIA was responsible for paying the money back.

Again, we can’t say enough good things about the T3 conference and hope to see you next year in Ft. Lauderdale, FL for the 2018 conference.  It will be held February 6-9, 2018 at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Conference Center.

News about our client portal

Below is a summary of yesterday’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage that caused our InvestorView client portal to be offline for several hours yesterday.

Valued Customer –

We experienced a full outage this morning around 10:05am PST. This outage lasted until approx 2:55pm PST when full service was restored. At this time the app is fully operational and accessible. I’m writing to share some details around this event as we know it impacted your operations.

Around 9:40am PST we noticed site performance degredation & increased error rates. At this point we started monitoring the site closer to understand the scope/impact. At 10:08 we traced this to a significant outage event for Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS communicated to their customers around 10:15amthat they were experiencing “increased error rates” with their storage service (S3). S3 is not only heavily used by (and a critical component of) Modestspark, but it is widely used by other applications (Netflix, Slack.com, Trello, Quora, etc.) as vital “plumbing” for Internet services. In addition to S3 issues, other core Amazon services (CDN, emailer, etc.) were offline – this crippled our ability to communicate out the issue to you sooner.

Unfortunately, as we learned today, built in redundancies that we thought were available from AWS did NOT work as advertised and their outage caused our site to become unavailable. To top things off, Amazon did a horrible job of communicating this outage to their customers – this kept us in the dark for longer than we would have liked and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Amazon does a better job in the future communicating outages/issues like this so we can act accordingly.

As you’ll see below, our biggest takeaways from this incident will be relying less on 3rd party providers like Amazon for our communication serivces. Not being able to get the message out was frustrating for us as I’m sure it was for you not knowing what was going on!

We’ve experienced 99.98% (or greater) uptime consistently over the past 4 years and when an incident like this happens, we take it serious. We’re going to learn from it, do better and take steps to ensure that we don’t have a situation like this in the future.

What we plan to do:

  • Develop a status page that does NOT rely on AWS in any way. We have one built but unfortuntely we discovered it had a tight coupling with certain S3 assets
  • Develop a mass emailer (for Admin notification) that does NOT rely on Amazon S3 or AWS email services. we have one built but discovered it also has a dependency with AWS services (S3, SES)
  • Use Twitter to communicate outages (@modestspark) . Most of you have never checked our Twitter feed, but I’d recommend following @modestspark for this reason. We’ll use it as a channel to communicate events like this in the future should they occur.

We take outages like this seriously as we know that you’ve put your confidence in us to deliver an great Client Experience that needs to be availble when your Client’s want access. You have our commitment that, while we can’t eliminate events like this, we will work to minimize any occurance in the future.

Again, our apologies for this disruption in service.

TD Ameritrade LINC National Conference Recap

This year’s TD National LINC 2017 conference was our best ever!  This conference gets better every year, so if you missed it consider going next year.

Highlights from the conference:

A major focus of the conference was the roll out of Veo One, TD’s new integrated advisor desktop.  This could be the best platform for integration we’ve seen so far. We’ll join the new platform as an integration partner in the near future.

We were also impressed with the advancements to iRebal. Advisors using standard models could benefit heavily from the new automation features that are built into the trading system.

Thanks to everyone that came by to see us in Veo Village. David Robertson and Frank Taylor enjoyed speaking to each of you.

Congratulations to Todd Resnick, CFP®, who won our giveaway, a GoPro.

GoProWinner

Todd Resnick, CFP® of OneSeven (left) and Frank Taylor of AssetBook.

Great job TD Ameritrade for a great conference!

Winter Conference Update

TD Ameritrade Link 2017 National Conference

Conference Dates: February 1-3, San Diego, CA

Please come and see David Robertson and Frank Taylor at our kiosk in Veo Village at the TD Ameritrade Link national conference in San Diego, CA.

We’ll be demonstrating everything new at AssetBook at the kiosk.

T3 (Technology Tools for Today) Conference

Conference Dates: February 14-17, Orange County, CA

Later this month, Rob Major and Jimmy Wilkes will be manning the AssetBook booth at the T3 conference in Orange County, CA.

If you are attending the show, please come by our booth in the exhibit hall.

Rob Major will also be speaking about identity fraud on Friday, February 17th at 8:40 am.  Please join him for his presentation, “The $100,000 lesson learned”.

AssetBook is YOUR Partner in Regulatory Audits

When the regulators come knocking, will you have the tools necessary to efficiently meet the specific requests that they require?

audit

When you experience the pressure associated with a regulatory audit, you’ll quickly understand the value in having a partner like AssetBook.  We help you produce the incredibly specific reports and lists they require, with minimal interruption to your business. Partnering with AssetBook will give you peace of mind because you’ll be ready when they come knocking.

Our custom approach to audit support streamlines the process because we’re able to produce these custom requests timely and efficiently, such as:

  • Trade Blotters for all investment types for any date range
  • AUM reports by household, account, or portfolio for any date range
  • Global performance reporting by household, account, portfolio or class for any date range including quarterly, monthly or daily intervals
  • Global management fee billing support including detailed breakdown of fee calculation for your entire client base
  • Security and trading analysis reports including 13F reporting requirements

AssetBook has more than 15 years experience in supporting advisors when the auditors call.

Pass

We’ve learned that providing auditors with the exact reports they ask for, no more, no less, drastically speeds up the examination process. Send them happily on their way, satisfied with their findings.