The hyper-partisan nature of this last Presidential election was guaranteed to create a long, unhappy hangover for half of the American population, and it created a particular challenge for financial planners and investment advisors. Billions of dollars were spent to tell investors and clients that America is going to hell in a handbasket. People were emotionally invested in the outcome

While the recent FPA Convention provided some new and very interesting presentations and introduced some pretty high-brow concepts, Financial Planning columnist Bob Veres felt far too many of the presentations were bogged down by speakers who decided -- or were compelled -- to “dumb down” the material to appeal to the lowest common denominator. What did you think?

Ahead of next month’s Business & Wealth Management Forum in Chicago, it’s time to start asking some big-picture questions. For example, how could our profession have a bigger political impact than we do today and if there are better ways to add value than simply tending client portfolios?

I think we all know that the financial planning profession is drowning in paperwork and the problem is only going to get worse. This vexing -- and increasing -- compliance hassle is generating a certain amount of frustration in the profession, and most of the people I talk with don't know where to turn. So who speaks for the planner?

Make no mistake. We are going to sail through a lot of these volatile periods over the next five to 10 years and the profession needs to brainstorm better ways to deal with them that won't harm clients and their investment goals. We need to better understand what's going on. And consumers deserve to be told more than just which way the wind is blowing today.

How do you talk to your clients about the debt ceiling and budget battles when so many people are strongly -- perhaps not always rationally -- on one side or the other of the political divide? Suddenly, loss of confidence in our country's legislative and executive leadership is driving loss of confidence in the markets and it seems the two are now linked in ways that we may never have seen before.

I think we as advisors are going about our lobbying effort all wrong. More to the point: does it make sense for us to keep lobbying on behalf of the consumer or should we act like everybody else in the universe and lobby for things that would better serve our own interests?

Lately, I've seen more and better thinking about asset management than you could find in the previous 20 years in the profession and I think it may be time to give modern portfolio theory a makeover. In fact, I think this fits a long-standing historical pattern.

I may be opening up an old wound here, and if I am, I hope you'll forgive me. But I find myself wondering about all the ways that the interests of a broker-dealer differ from the interests of its affiliated advisors. I've never seen this explored anywhere.

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