The Benefits of Integrated Technology for Financial Advisors

The evolution of technology has made it possible for independent financial advisors to compete with large houses, but no matter the size of your operation, you’ll need to keep up with technology to improve. Understanding the benefits of the technology available will help you embrace innovation whether you’re an independent broker-dealer or part of a larger house. “If you don’t adapt, you’re gone,” says Jason Lara, director of sales and strategy at Ebix. Here are some of the benefits of having centralized, integrated technology at your organization. Improved Communication Whether it’s inside the office or directly with clients, communication can improve remarkably with integrated technology. “Intra-office communication is a big piece,” Lara says. “The ability for advisors, assistants and managers to access data on the fly and communicate wherever and whenever you need keeps everyone on the same page.” Integrated technology makes it possible for everyone to stay in touch …

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How Big Broker-Dealers Are Buying Small Broker-Dealers, and What That Means for the Advisor

The past few years have been a whirl for advisors at smaller broker-dealers. Consolidation in the industry is rampant — last year’s 138 mergers and acquisitions were a record, according to Echelon Partners, and were a 10 percent increase compared with 2015, which had also been a record year. “For owners of smaller broker-dealers, it provides a great opportunity to sell a business and earn an exit payout,” says Evan Tarver, investments editor at FitSmallBusiness.com, a New York City-based business service that provides advice to small businesses. “For the advisers employed by these broker-dealers, it might be negative as they may be losing their jobs.” Here’s the latest on M&As among broker-dealers. What’s Inspiring These Acquisitions? In many cases, the U.S. Labor Department’s proposed fiduciary rule and the corresponding increased cost of doing business has been inspiring smaller and independent broker-dealers to look for other options, experts say. While parts …

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Biometrics on the Rise

Fingerprint and retinal scans have moved from the realm of science fiction into everyday consumer and corporate security, and even more rigorous biometric options are on the way, experts say. Deloitte Global says more than a billion mobile devices will rely on fingerprint technology for access this year. New tech makes it possible to authenticate in less invasive ways, improving security across the board. “Behavioral and biometric authentication will make passwords obsolete, sooner than you might think,” says David Vergara, head of global product marketing at VASCO Data Security. “The death of static passwords is no surprise: They’re easily hacked or stolen, they’re hard to remember and they’re often reused from one site to another, maximizing the impact of breaches.” Here’s what you need to know about the role of biometrics. What Can It Be Used For? Biometrics can provide a high level of controlled access to physical places, such …

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U.S. Life and Health Direct Premiums Expected to Decline for First Time in 4 Years

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence’s U.S. Insurance Market Report: Life and Health, a variety of forces are expected to lead to a 1.2 percent decline in combined U.S. life, annuity, and accident and health direct premiums this year. Experts say uncertainty in the market is the main driver: As companies scramble to outmaneuver each other in the face of changing regulations, direct premiums are dropping. “Competition for market share between life insurance carriers is highly competitive at the moment,” says Anthony Martin, owner of Choice Mutual, a burial insurance agency based in Citrus Heights, California. “That’s caused a number of carriers to continue to reduce premiums, primarily on their term life insurance portfolios.” Here’s what you need to know. Life Insurance: Competition Drives Down Costs Life insurance rates are decreasing for three main reasons, Martin says: First, people are living longer, largely due to advances in health technology. Secondly, …

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U.S. Agency Moves to Allow Class Action Lawsuits Against Financial Firms

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which serves as a consumer watchdog, recently adopted a rule that would prohibit financial firms from forcing customers into arbitration when there are disputes. Legal experts say it’s likely to kill arbitration as a conflict-resolution practice in the financial industry and make it easier for consumers to bring class action suits. “If the rule survives congressional review and a likely court challenge, it would harm both consumers and financial institutions, and increase the burdens on an already underfunded court system,” says Stephen Newman, a partner at the law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. Here’s what you need to know. The Rule The rule got little attention between when it was proposed in May 2016 and now. As written, it would make it harder for companies to block groups of people from going to court to fight a business practice. “Allowing consumers to band together …

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