Banks are by nature conservative and slow to change, but judging by our cover story this month, and last, program managers are jumping on their somewhat higher profile in the business these days to take leaps forward in how they operate and what services they offer.

Advisor programs are focusing on building out retirement and financial planning services because they realize that financial products have become commoditized. It's client service and ongoing contact that makes the biggest difference in attracting and retaining clients. They are also aware that such a relationship-oriented approach could help them be compliant with any new fiduciary standard that requires advisors to put the interests of clients first.

That major banks are waking up to and supporting big changes in how they approach investment clients is both encouraging and inspiring news. What stands out to me about our PNC profile is Mike Mortensen's statement that PNC looks entirely different today than it did five years ago and should look completely different in another five years. Not all banks are investing as heavily in their broker-dealers, but where they are, they are starting to see significant results. Banks have long been afraid to try new ways of looking at and implementing the investment business. It's great to see so many of them getting on the ball.

To help you stay on top of your individual games, this issue is heavy on advice for how to manage the many pieces of a marketing campaign, burnish your web presence and deepen your relationships with clients.

Speaking of changes, I have some sad news for BIC. Howard J. Stock, the main face and voice of BIC for the past seven years, is leaving us for greener pastures. His intelligence, hard work, quick wit, equanimity, unflagging enthusiasm and good spirits will be sorely missed. I know we all wish him well, but are sorry to see him go.

Best of luck, Howard!


Pamela J. Black