Weekend Reading for Financial Planners (Oct 12-13)

Enjoy the current installment of “weekend reading for financial planners” – this week’s edition kicks off with the news that Fidelity has not only decided after all to match competing custodians with zero-commission trades on US stocks and ETFs, but is further accentuating how it provides better default money market options and eschews payments for order flow in an even further amplification of the competitive pressures of the RIA custody model.
From there, we have several more articles beginning to explore the implications of the industry’s rapid shift to zero-ticket-charge RIA custodians, including how the collapse of trading commission revenue could force RIA custodians to assess new custody fees (or else have to cut services given the lost revenue?), the way zero-commission trading may further accentuate the differences between broker-dealer platforms and RIA custodians (and further accelerate the breakaway broker trend), and the compliance issues that suddenly have emerged for RIAs that previously negotiated asset-based pricing on trades and especially those that bundled their asset-based trade pricing into a holistic wrap fee that may no longer be priced appropriately in a zero-trading-fee world.
We also have a number of articles on RIA and broker-dealer industry trends, from a look at the latest FINRA data showing that the number of brokers changing broker-dealers or switching to the RIA channel is actually declining (at least for now?), to the challenges of large broker-dealers that aren’t always leveraging their economies of scale for better service to their brokers (and sometimes use their scale to negotiate better distribution agreements for themselves instead), whether the industry is starting to shift away from revenue-based compensation for advisors (and how the rise of Merrill Edge could drive the shift in large firms), and how advisory firms learning to bring in their own clients (whether by centralized marketing or inorganic acquisitions) are leading to a rise of restrictive non-compete and non-solicit agreements in the RIA channel that may even be more limiting than the wirehouse channel those independent firms criticized just a few years ago.
We wrap up with three interesting articles, all around the theme of how we find and consume good news and other content in an increasingly complex (and algorithm-driven) world: the first provides some recommendations on less-commonly-known blogs and news sites to help advisors who want to try and figure out what the market ‘consensus’ is (in order to identify potentially-market-moving news); the second offers up another series of blog and media site recommendations for content that will challenge you to think differently; and the last takes a fascinating look at how after nearly a decade of increasingly-algorithm-driven content recommendations, companies from Netflix to Apple are bringing back human curation to provide the contextually relevant suggestions for readers/viewers that algorithms just haven’t seemed to be able to master (or at least, haven’t yet?).
Enjoy the ‘light’ reading!
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