10 Advisor Takeaways From the 2013 Raymond James Conference
Thousands of Raymond James financial advisors gathered in Dallas this week for the firm's annual national conference -- here's what they picked up.
An armadillo race. Mechanical bull riding. A poolside BBQ. A host of country singers. Former President George W. Bush. More than 1800 advisors. What do they all have in common?
Answer: They were all features of Raymond James' annual national conference this week in Dallas. It wasn't all fun and games, however. The thousands of advisors and other professionals gathered to discuss everything from how to help their clients avoid cyber threats to iPad basics and time management.
Here are 10 Raymond James financial advisors from around the country who told me the most helpful piece(s) of information they learned at the four-day event.
Photo above: Raymond James President Scott Curtis
"I felt George Bush's talk to the thousands of attendees at the conference really showcased the character of the American spirit. Most of my clients feel as though the government is headed in a direction they're unhappy with -- Americans inherently are resilient and they need to believe in America and the economy. A lot of them feel the good ol' days are behind us. If the good ol' days were so good why strive for anything tomorrow? By and large two-thirds of my clients feel the US economy is going down a road we will not be able to recover from. The talk gave people hope."
"We focus the majority of our business on financial planning for families with special needs. Two of our three boys have autism. We had a nice chat with Phil Orlando, chief equity-market strategist at Federated Investors on the topic. "It's a lot more complex when you're planning financially for special need children -- it's sometimes the reverse of what you would do with regular families. For families with kids of special needs you need finances to last your lifetime and theirs. One thing to look out for: If you leave them assets in their own name, then that could disqualify them for a lot of government benefits that they would otherwise be eligible for."
"Raymond James' brand new software program called Goal Planning and Monitoring (GPM) is helpful. It allows you to integrate all client assets and sit down with them to come up with their goals. For example, do they want to travel when they retire? It gives a speedometer on their competence zone -- have they saved enough to retire when they want to? It's a reality check and gives us greater ability to look at all of their accounts, even if they're outside of Raymond James. It also helps bring accountants and attorneys together to help manage the overall plan for clients."
Iowa City, Iowa
"One panel helped us think about how to learn from Steve Jobs and the way he ran his business to help expand our practices as advisors. Like Apple's Steve Jobs, advisors need to think 'would you be a client of your firm?' I don't suggest anything to my clients I wouldn't invest in. That also allows you to relate with clients more and understand what they're feeling when markets are good and when they're bad."
"I learned a lot from the market updates from economists. They said things should be getting slowly better. The housing market is improving and on an upswing and unemployment should decrease. I've also learned a lot from a best practices standpoint when it comes to better compensating employees, figuring out how to encourage team growth, with bonuses and other incentives. We recently hired a fashion consultant to come in and meet with employees within our branch on a one-on-one basis -- she went through wardrobes at home and then each advisor got $500 to go shopping with her. It worked fabulously well -- it encouraged our team to feel better about ourselves and the company. Everybody came in dressing better. I suggest that idea to all companies if they can do it."
"There was one session I especially valued where someone spoke about same-sex couples. It was helpful to listen and learn about what that community needs, which is different from other couples because of current state and tax laws. We also spoke about how to advise clients who are living together as a couple but are not married -- that also entails different tax laws."
"I've been at Raymond James for 13 years. The consensus among portfolio managers here is largely that European equities may remain out of favor yet are unquestionably cheap by any valuation metric that most investors are looking at. This is the precise time to be buying European stocks but people are scared because the news there is so bad. For investors, this is a once in a generation opportunity. For medium to long-term investors, the time to buy is when everyone knows the news is bad. With that said, finding the bottom is impossible but I expect European stocks will start moving up within the next year."
"Here's what I plan to do in the next 30 days: The thing i think that will make the most difference in my business is keeping better track of my time. If I spend a certain percentage talking with clients and prospects, then that percentage will translate to growing the business. I need to track my time and see what I spend my time doing. Also, a book I want to read is E-Myth. I already ordered a hardcopy on Amazon so I can make notes in it and so I have it when I get back to the office."
"The health session at Raymond James said I need to drink one tablespoon of Carlsons cod liver oil everyday. Apparently I should also drink wheatgrass. I learned this from a presentation by Chris Johnson, a nationally recognized wellness speaker and the founder of www.ontargetliving.com, who spoke at one session. I should also avoid processed food. After certain ages you loose energy, and being more healthy will help better ensure the longevity of my profession -- from both a mental and physical perspective."
"Some of the best advice I learned is to be diligent in your paperwork -- I just came out of a compliance workshop. If you don't know your clients and their habits well enough, you will more likely have issues with compliance when it comes to FINRA regulations and corporate regulations. You need to review clients' accounts and make sure you run all questions back to your compliance officer -- be proactive. A question like 'can I put this on my advertising?' is a good question."