Weekend Reading for Financial Planners (Nov 30 – Dec 1)

Enjoy the current installment of “weekend reading for financial planners” – this week’s edition kicks off with the ongoing chatter about the fallout of the announced Schwab acquisition of TD Ameritrade, from Schwab relocating its headquarters to Dallas, the uncertain fate of TDA’s VEO, how Schwab will handle smaller RIAs that, in the past, may have joined TDA specifically because they didn’t meet Schwab minimums, and whether it will be necessary to repaper accounts as a part of the merger (which could put all the RIAs on TDA’s platform ‘in play’ for competing custodians).
Also in the news this week is a newly proposed rule from the SEC that would potentially limit the use of leveraged and inverse exchange-traded products as regulators grow increasingly concerned about inappropriate uses of such vehicles and whether investors (whether clients of a broker-dealer or an RIA) truly understand the risks involved.
From there, we have several tax planning articles, including new Final Regulations from the Treasury clarifying that there will not be a ‘clawback’ of gift and estate taxes even if the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lapses in 2025 and the current $11.4M estate tax exemption falls back to lower levels, a look at how states are becoming increasingly aggressive on “residency audits” to determine whether those claiming to have relocated (to avoid the state’s high income tax rates) really changed their state of residence or not, and a reminder from IRA guru Ed Slott that with the beginning of a new year fast approaching the once-per-year 60-day rollover rule for IRAs does not reset and is still based on a rolling-365-day blackout period (but trustee-to-trustee transfers remain safe either way!).
We also have a few articles on advisory firm mergers and acquisitions, including a reminder of the key levers that drive the valuation of an advisory firm beyond just its revenue (as two firms with the same revenue may still have a drastically different valuation based on the stability and profitability of that revenue), the rise of bank funding options for RIAs that want to sell internally but not seller-finance the transaction, tips from successful acquirers of what it takes to close on a transaction (and get the seller to pick your firm as the chosen buyer), and some interesting research on the realities of today’s M&A market for advisory firms that is increasingly driven by large firms that are paying ever-higher levels of upfront cash or in-kind stock exchanges as a part of the transaction.
We wrap up with three interesting articles, all around the theme of customer/client service and interacting with clients: the first explores the concept of “aesthetic intelligence”, and that how an advisory firm and its services are aesthetically staged can have a significant impact on the client experience; the second explores how, amongst the affluent, human contact that eschews screens and computers is becoming a form of ‘luxury good’; and the last is a powerful reminder that at some point spending money as a business on good customer service isn’t just an overhead expense but a ‘marketing’ expense that drives word of mouth (and that it’s important to be strategic in how you allocate resources to client service recognizing its potential marketing impact).
Enjoy the ‘light’ reading!
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