No, the headline above is not a joke, though it may look like one to some. While it is easy to joke about people leaving millions to their dogs, the reality is that setting aside a portion of inheritance to take care of a pet is increasingly common, and advisors need to be aware. 44% of pet owners have some financial plan in their will for the care of pets, with the structure usually being that money would go to a designated caregiver. One advisor in Boca Raton who handles pet planning says “If you care about them and you want to make sure they’re taken care of, you have to have a contingency plan for them or else they end up at the Humane Society”.
FINSUM: 44% is a huge number, but it does make a lot of sense. Pets are valued family members and it seems irresponsible to many to leave them without care.
Goldman Sachs has been working hard to build up its advisor business. While the firm already has very strong revenue per advisor, it is trying to build up its advisor base and boost its securities lending business. However, it has a problem—many of it advisors are jumping ship. Goldman used to be a place where advisors stuck around for years, but in the last 12 months no less than five big, high quality teams have left the firm. Two have gone to other wirehouses, three became independent. Those in the industry say more are likely to leave.
FINSUM: It looks like Goldman is experiencing the same issues as everyone else.
Advisors large and small need to worry about this next bear market, as the latter may not survive, according to Barron’s. The reality is that there are many small RIAs who have kept their business alive because of the long bull market. However, “The smaller you are, the more vulnerable you are, because if the market goes down 15%, it gets harder and harder to run a business”, says Fidelity’s clearing division. Margins are already quite slim for small RIAs and lower AUM from market losses would likely kill many businesses. “When the stock market drops, revenues drop, and no expenses immediately come out of the system”.
FINSUM: The big question is whether RIAs who feel vulnerable should perhaps try to sell to larger players now instead of risking a bear market.
Morgan Stanley advisors look out, it appears the firm is sending a warning out to its wealth management force. According to Wealth Management, “Morgan Stanley in February filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against a breakaway team in Farmington Hills, Mich. It was recently withdrawn. A lawyer for the breakaway team suggests that Morgan Stanley lawyers deliberately used the court filing, and prolonged the case, to make the conflict public and deter other breakaways”. One lawyer commenting on the moves says that Morgan Stanley is likely doing it to intimidate their current advisors into not jumping ship.
FINSUM: The end of the broker protocol made what was a tenuous environment into an all-out battlefield. This definitely seems like an intimidation tactic.
A couple of weeks ago we ran a piece quoting the SEC saying that it was trying to get advisors who had violated client disclosure rules to come forward themselves. The promise was that if they voluntarily came forward they would be treated with a much lighter hand. Well, the SEC has showed the other side of that coin this week, saying “Those of you who counsel investment advisors, we hope you will counsel them to participate in the program … If not, we promise that if we find them later we will punish them more severely”.
FINSUM: The SEC is really going to throw its weight around on this issue and it seems like advisors who have broken the rules would be well advised to come forward.