Recommended Summer Reading for Advisors

Our 10 most popular Expert Team articles for the first half of 2014

By CEG’ Elite Advisor Report staff

Key Takeaways:

  • Readers tell us that their clients are highly concerned about protecting themselves, their reputations and their assets; expanding their tax deductions; and getting better organized.
  • Advisors are concerned about not only servicing clients effectively, but also improving the manner (and frequency) by which they have difficult and meaningful conversations.
  • Our most popular contributors have a unique ability to tackle complex financial advisory topics and explain them in a quick-read, actionable format that preserves their humor and folksy style.

For many years, we’ve known that elite advisors and their clients are highly concerned about wealth protection, wealth preservation, wealth enhancement, tax mitigation and charitable giving. But it never ceases to amaze us how many different ways there are to tackle these key concerns and how many tools and techniques advisors now have in their toolboxes.

Here’s a list of the 10 most popular stories written by our outside expert contributors so far this year. Please take a look when you get some quiet time on your next business trip or vacation, and feel free to share them with your colleagues and clients.

Top 10 Expert Team Stories of 2014
  1. The Perils of “Generation Text” by Peter Piotrowski
  2. Maximize Business Mileage Deductions by Using More Than One Personal Car for Business by Glenn Demby
  3. Taxation of Life Insurance by Guy Baker
  4. Staying Organized and Financial Planning Are Keys to Success by Valentino Sabuco
  5. Life Insurance as an Asset and a Hedge by Richard L. Harris
  6. Estate Planning Checklist by Lisa L. Halbert
  7. Protecting High-Value Jewelry by Katja Zigerlig
  8. Difficult Conversations for Advisors by Gary Shunk
  9. The Importance of Getting in Front of Clients by Dr. Glenn Freed
  10. Selling Collectible Cars Without Driving off the Tax Cliff by Randy Fox

Source: CEG Worldwide, LLC and Elite Advisor Report 2014

Advanced insurance

Many advisors don’t find the nuances of ownership beneficiary designation exciting, but as Guy Baker notes in Taxation of Life Insurance, “We are paid to do this right and doing so only enhances your status as a client’s most trusted advisor.” Baker, a longtime master of simplifying complex topics in a folksy quick-read form, shares the four common tax traps for advisors and their clients to avoid.

Speaking of insurance luminaries, Richard Harris, another of our most popular contributors over the years, found himself on our Top 10 list again with his insightful deconstruction of Life Insurance as an Asset and a Hedge. Learn how cash value life insurance can be used as a hedge against both premature death and a client’s other underperforming assets. Like Baker, Harris tackles complex mathematical, legal and technical strategies, boiling them down to their essence, so advisors can digest them easily and put them to work today.

Protecting yourself, your family and your assets

No discussion of insurance, of course, would be complete without protection and risk mitigation. Perhaps a sign of the times, Peter Piotrowski’s guide to helping HNW families protect themselves and their children from social media risk has been our most popular expert team column of 2014 so far. If you haven’t done so already, read Piotrowski’s The Perils of “Generation Text.” Piotrowski’s colleague, Katja Zigerlig, also cracked our Top 10 list with Protecting High-Value Jewelry. According to Zigerlig, many of your clients may have valuable jewelry collections that are woefully uninsured because their homeowners insurance policies specifically limit coverage for jewelry. Most of your HNW clients need private collections insurance policies, which are typically not available in the “direct” marketplace adds Zigerlig.

Planning and organization

No matter what time of year it is, our always readers are drawn to tools, tactics and strategies that can help them (and their clients) stay better organized. When it comes to financial planning, Val Sabuco, executive director of the Financial Awareness Foundation says that staying organized and planning your finances is a lifelong process, not a one-time exercise, and the key to reaching and maintaining financial success. “Sensible financial management is more than budgeting and saving for retirement. It’s about being ready to handle a lifetime of financial challenges, needs and changes,” he adds. Click here for Val’s 11-step plan for organizational and financial planning success.

If you and your clients like checklists, you’re not alone. Lisa Halbert’s Estate Planning Checklist story was among our most popular so far in 2014. According to Halbert, your clients’ estate planning documents should be updated approximately every five years or whenever they have major life events. Not only should your clients have a comprehensive list of assets, Halbert says they should also have “a last will and testament, beneficiary designations, and special provisions if they are divorced or in same-sex marriages.” Halbert also walks you through the importance of health care proxies, do-not-resuscitate orders, durable powers of attorney, and keeping a record of passwords and important papers.

If 2014 proved nothing else, it was that you and your clients really love cars. Not just for the automotive adrenaline rush they provide, but for the tax mitigation and asset-building opportunities they provide. Glenn Demby’s series about how to Maximize Business Mileage Deductions by Using More Than One Personal Car for Business was among our most popular of the year. According to Demby, “many advisors and clients overlook the fact that a car doesn’t have to be used solely for business to qualify for business vehicle tax deductions or depreciation.”

But when your clients sell their cars, especially if they’re vintage autos, they are likely to forget that collector cars are considered tangible personal property. That means when they are sold for a profit, the seller owes capital gains tax. As Randy Fox explains, “sellers are often so caught up in the fun part of collecting, they often don’t think about various planning methods they can use prior to the sale in order to reduce their taxes.” Read Selling Collectible Cars Without Driving off the Tax Cliff to learn more about how you can help clients use Flip-CRUTs and other techniques to minimize the tax bite and maximize their enjoyment of collecting vintage automobiles.

The art and science of effective client conversations

Finally, no advisor worth his or her salt can get through a day without having difficult and meaningful conversations with clients. Even in the best of times, many affluent families are uncomfortable talking about money and wealth transfer. According to Gary Shunk, “Every family meeting can be an unfolding drama about power, love, conflict, decision, ambivalence, disagreement, agreement, stalemate and more.” His popular article Difficult Conversations for Advisors offers great tactics for handling those touchy intergenerational discussions about money and wealth transfer.

As many advisors know, research from CEG Worldwide, LLC shows that regardless of portfolio returns, advisors who meet with clients on a regular basis earn at least three times as much as advisors who don’t meet with clients on a regular basis. According to Dr. Glenn Freed, “The frequency and quantity of contacts should not necessarily be fixed and predetermined for every one of your clients. The key is the quality of the client contacts. For example, a client in his or her 40s who is busy building wealth might not want to have three in-person meetings a year. That person might be okay with phone, email and Skype communication. By contrast, a retiree in his or her 70s and 80s might want more than three in-person meetings a year and not consider a phone or email exchange a “real” client meeting. The key is to know your clients.” Dr. Freed has more in The Importance of Getting in Front of Clients.

As many of you are taking some well-earned R&R right now, take a deep breath and look at what your peers are telling us they’re most concerned about today. Take a gander at our Top 10 list and you’ll come back to the office with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.