These are trying times for advisors and clients alike. Investor and consumer sentiment surveys paint a pessimistic picture. Yet companies, at least big companies, are still churning out big profits. With 97% of the firms in the S&P 500 reporting third quarter earnings by press time, profits are on track to set a record. What's more, the old record was set in the second quarter.

This creates an unusual situation, says Jim Swanson, chief investment strategist at MFS Investment Management. He says that big companies have become efficient enough that they don't need a robust economy anymore.

If true, this carries huge implications to investors and advisors, which we plan to explore in future issues. For now, though, Swanson counsels advisors to keep clients focused on meeting their goals rather than worrying about the apparent inequalities of big business marching ahead of the overall economy. Those are valid concerns, he says, but advisors and investors should vote with their hearts and invest with their heads.

The advisors highlighted in this issue, our annual Top 50 Bank Reps, are likely to do just that. They are attuned to doing whatever is in the best interest of clients. (It's all they seem to want to talk about). We conducted a much broader analysis this year to determine our Top-50 and we feel we have a great representation of the best the industry has to offer.

We didn't stop at the top-50, though. We end the year with a stocking full of good tips for you. Two of our departments explore various issues related to your self-marketing. For some steps to take when your bank isn't embracing your work, take a look at "Support In A Bank Program Is a Two-Way Street." And for more concrete advice on how to make clients loyal to you as opposed to your bank, go to "Are You A Trusted Advisor."

And if it's an investment article you crave, we have that too. Once again, we feature an article from BlackRock. Two of its portfolio managers wrote our Outlook piece this month with a fresh take on the benefits of dividends.

As always, give us your feedback and have a safe and happy holiday season.