New Industry Tools That Could Change the Way You Do Business

Times have changed for financial advisors. The advent of new technology has made it possible for independent advisors and smaller houses to compete with larger firms, and for larger firms to have a global reach. Keeping up with that technology can be a challenge — but it’s vital for any financial advisor who wants to stay competitive. Today’s clients want savvy, responsive financial advisors who are comfortable with technology. Fortunately, new industry tools are easy to use and integrate to provide top-level customer service and performance. “You don’t have a shot if you’re not organized,” says Jason Lara, director of sales and strategy at Ebix. Here are some new industry tools that can change the way you do business. Client Management Being able to manage your clients through scheduling and CRM platforms, as well as provide them excellent advice through market research tools, are among the biggest benefits of using …

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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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What Does the Future Hold for the Fiduciary Rule?

The U.S. Labor Department’s so-called fiduciary rule, proposed during the Obama administration, would change the status of some financial professionals under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). It was originally supposed to be implemented in phases earlier this year but ran into delays and reviews. Now, Rep. Ann Wagner, a Republican from Missouri, has introduced a bill that would make some changes to the latest ruling, including giving the Securities and Exchange Commission the lead on fiduciary regulation, in place of the DOL. “The fiduciary rule in its current form renders all investment professionals who work with retirement plans or advise retirement plans [as] fiduciaries under the ERISA definition,” says Raphael Katz, a partner at the law firm Sadowski Katz. This results in a strict standard against self-dealing, he says — but that could change. Here’s what you need to know. The Proposed Change Wagner and financial industry proponents …

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What’s Next for Dodd-Frank?

The Treasury Department recently issued a proposal outlining changes to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank regulations were put into place after the 2008 financial crisis, and they changed existing regulatory structures in an attempt to streamline and strengthen them. The law led to stronger regulatory standards and rules about a wide range of financial interactions, such as credit card transaction fees and requiring smaller investment advisers to register with the SEC. The act established sweeping new regulatory rules but came to be seen as too heavy-handed. The House of Representatives recently passed the Financial CHOICE Act in an effort to weaken it, but passage by the Senate isn’t a given. “Many Democrats acknowledge that Dodd-Frank needs to be revisited, and Republicans certainly have enough votes to make sure that it is, but not enough votes to gut it completely,” says David Reiss, a professor at …

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What the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule Means for Financial Professionals Now

What the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule Means for Financial Professionals Now

The U.S. Labor Department’s so-called fiduciary rule has a long history, and it appears it’s not over. Proposed under the Obama administration, the rule would change the status of some financial professionals under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). It was originally supposed to be phased in in April but has been delayed until June, with a transition period for some exemptions extending through Jan. 1, 2018. In addition, the Trump administration may want to make more changes. For financial professionals, it’s vital to stay up-to-date on the changes. “Good faith is not enough,” says Ronald Surz, president of PPCA. Here’s what financial advisers, especially those who work on commission, need to know. It Establishes Broader Fiduciary Responsibility Under the rule, all financial professionals who work with retirement plans, ESOPs, IRAs and so on, or who provide advice about retirement plans, will have to act in a fiduciary capacity. …

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