SEC Appoints New Head of Advisor Examination Program

Ken Joseph has been tapped by the Securities and Exchange Commission to lead the Investment Advisors/Investment Company Examination Program in the New York regional office. Joseph, who succeeds James Capezzuto, has been with the SEC for 16 years as staff attorney, branch chief and assistant director of the SEC Division of Enforcement in Washington.


Managers Turn Attention to Alternatives

Wealth managers are making alternative investments more of a priority to meet client expectations, according to a McKinsey report. Researchers examined the popularity of alternative investments like hedge funds, private equity, commodities and real estate, and their use in seeking better returns while minimizing risks. By the end of 2011, alternative investments had reached $6.5 trillion in global assets under management; the sector's allocation is projected to increase to 28% of total portfolio assets by the end of next year.


Investing in Treasures: Profit or Pleasure?

Gaining access to the collectibles market is easier now than ever. Rather than investing in collectibles like art, many people are investing in their passions, like automobiles, wine and even furniture. A study by Barclays and Ledbury Research, "Investing in Treasures: Profit or Pleasure?", found that precious jewelry ranked in the top three popular treasures in all countries surveyed and that "enjoyment" ranked as a top motivator in 15 out of the 17 countries researched.


Some Men Stressed by Spouse's Financial Decision-Making

As long as currency has existed, money has been a source of tension between the sexes. A recent poll of wealthy individuals by SEI, an investment and fund-processing provider, found that men were thought to feel more stress if their wives were the primary financial decision-makers than women whose husbands directed the couple's finances.

Stress was reported by 20% of the 500-plus individuals polled. Almost a third of the female financial leads surveyed said they believed their partners feel stressed by their role in financial decision-making, while just 14% of the males polled said they felt tension from their partners, according to the survey.


Schwab Offers Advisor iphone App

Charles Schwab has rolled out the first version of the Schwab Advisor Center app for the iPhone for independent investment advisors who use Schwab Advisor Services as asset custodian. The Schwab Advisor Center app for the iPad is under development and is expected the end of the year.

"This first version of the new Schwab Advisor Center app for iPhone includes the features that advisors told us they wanted most," says Steve Hirsch, vice president of institutional web services for Schwab. "We have heard that the top priority is fast and convenient access to client account information so that advisors can stay informed and on top of their business no matter where they are."


Finra Reports Major Loss for 2011

For the third year in a row, FINRA reported a net loss, finishing $84 million in the red in 2011. With a $54 million increase in expenses over the previous year, FINRA said $16.1 million was spent on opening new data centers and $26.8 million on increasing cross-market coverage and surveillance across the NYSE and Nasdaq OMX Group. The largest share of the yearly expenses, $36.9 million, went toward an increase in compensation and benefits, although yearly salaries have decreased since 2009 for all but one of the 10 most-senior FINRA executives.


Dividend Stocks May Slide if Bush-era Tax Cuts Expire, Group Warns

As Congress and the White House head toward another battle over extending the Bush-era tax cuts, a trade association representing utility companies is warning that investors could be in for a major hit if the rates for qualified dividends revert to their pre-2003 levels, even if the only rates that move are those for the wealthiest Americans.

The Edison Electric Institute released a study analyzing the age, income level and investment goals of investors in dividend stocks, concluding that any rate increase could cause a major sell-off and drain value from the normally stable companies known for high yields and relative stability.

The current tax framework caps the rates for qualified-dividend income at 15%, but it will expire Dec. 31 without action by Congress and the White House. President Obama is calling for an extension of the cuts for those earning $250,000 or more annually. Republicans in Congress have been united in their calls for extending all of the cuts, inviting a replay of the showdown that occurred the last time tax rates came up for a vote in 2010.

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