Weekend Reading for Financial Planners (August 3-4)

Enjoy the current installment of “weekend reading for financial planners” – this week’s edition kicks off with the big investigative journalism report from the Wall Street Journal this week that the CFP Board’s “Let’s Make A Plan” website was including thousands of CFP brokers who had a history of disciplinary misconduct and/or other material disclosures on the FINRA website that were not communicated on the CFP Board’s website… leading the CFP Board to immediately make changes to its site to link to BrokerCheck and IAPD, to increase its reviews of CFP professionals’ disciplinary records during the renewal process, and to appoint a new Task Force chaired by former Texas Securities Commissioner Denise Voigt Crawford to “strengthen and modernize” CFP Board’s enforcement.
Also in the news this week are several articles about the increasingly controversial 12b-1 fee, from a lawsuit from the SEC against Commonwealth Financial alleging that the firm received more than $100M in not-properly-disclosed 12b-1 fees as part of a revenue-sharing agreement with NFS (that may have directed investors towards higher-cost share classes that paid such 12b-1 fees to NFS and Commonwealth), and a look at how Vanguard itself competes by not paying 12b-1 fees to other platforms even as Vanguard’s own brokerage and Personal Advisor Services solution may be collecting 12b-1 fees from other mutual funds in order to fund their own platform costs.
From there, we have a few articles on cash flow and budgeting issues, from a look at the recent Equifax settlement for $125 cash or up to 10 years of credit monitoring (and how to claim them, and why the credit monitoring may be a far better deal than the cash), to a takedown of why consumers should ignore Suze Orman’s recent admonition that “wast[ing] money on coffee is like peeing $1M down the drain”, and an interesting framework to help figure out when it is a good idea to “go cheap” and when it’s better to still spend up for quality.
We also have a few articles on mergers and acquisitions in the advisor space, including the latest “Deal Book” report from M&A consultant David DeVoe that finds record highs in both the volume of RIAs selling and the valuations that advisory firm sellers are commanding in the marketplace, a breakdown of the common components of an advisory firm deal (from Deal Structure to Financing to Tax Treatment), and some “must-know” items to be mindful of when you receive an unsolicited inquiry to sell your advisory firm and now must suddenly decide whether to consider the buyer’s offer.
We wrap up with three interesting articles, all around the theme of maintaining a productive office workspace: the first looks at the increasingly popular rise of “phone booths” (but without the phones) as a form of ‘privacy pod’ in open floor office plans; the second explores the research on how having multiple monitors really does make us more productive at work; and the last looks at how the physical layout of an office space matters not only for its visual and aesthetic appeal, but because it can impact the sound of the space, which in turn can impact everything from our productivity to even our mood in the office.
Enjoy the “light” reading!
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