Regulators have a difficult and thankless job. In the advisory industry, with thousands of people, regulators are tasked with creating a universal minimum threshold of service and competence. The good advisors feel, quite validly, that they are better-suited to decide how to interact with clients and what information clients can even understand.
But as is often the case, these rules are not there for the responsible and ethical individuals. Instead, they've become a necessary burden to weed out everyone from the incompetent to the outright fraudsters.
This, of course, leaves the good financial advisors stuck in the middle. They've made a business of being advocates for their clients and they've been entrusted with one of the most important things in their clients' lives: their money. And they have to manage a rising burden of compliance.
This is the environment that writer Dave Lindorff explores in this month's cover story on regulation. Some advisors were hesitant to talk, although he found chief compliance officers more willing to speaks their minds. The regulators have the necessary goal of ensuring investors get suitable advice. But there are still questions in the industry, especially regarding 401(k) rollovers, not to mention the sheer amount of information being requested.
Beyond that, we offer several articles this month that delve into the psychology of the advisory business in one way or another. We have specifics on getting more referrals from branch employees; how to get clients to talk honestly about money; and how to determine whether you're cut out for the bank channel in the first place and if not, there are many other models you might find more to your liking.
The issue of investor psychology is indeed front and center these days. It surfaced in a number of sessions at the recent BISA conference in Florida. After all, regardless of your stance on tougher regulation, you'll need a solid grasp of psychology to truly be an advocate for your clients.