Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Educate! Inform! Communicate!

I wasn't taking notes at the Wealth Management and Trust Conference in Miami, but Ruthie Ackerman of Bank Investment Consultant was.

Joe Navarro, the guru of non-verbal communications, cited a study that found guys wearing three-button suits appeared "less honest" than those who wore two-button suits. Sorry about that, J. Press.

In another dispatch Ackerman reports that Alvi Abuaf of FIS criticized large institutions for their efforts to "rebuild trust" after the hit that the Great Recession delivered to the investment markets. Ploys like rebranding don't cut it, Abuaf advised. He urged institutions to deliver more faithful client service, and to "educate and inform … communicate and connect."

That sounds like good advice, although the description of the problem is a bit off. No wire house, no trust company and no family office can be "trusted" to prevent another market downturn. It can't be done. Even the great J. P. Morgan himself couldn't stop the stock market from fluctuating.

For trust departments and other investment advisers, the point of educating and informing is to help present and future clients gain a better understanding of the real investment world, together with the steps that can be taken to cope with unwelcome fluctuations.

Education and communication on taxes, retirement and estate planning helps, too. The broader an adviser's skills and knowledge appear, the more likely that clients won't judge his or her worth solely by what the market does.

Today the giant institutions of the wealth-management business post plenty of financial info and planning guidance on their web sites. Now community institutions can do the same, easily and at what I would describe as 1991 prices. See the Wealth Management Articles Library.

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