Industry columnist, speaker and newsletter publisher
It's nearly impossible to pick up a publication devoted to advisors or attend an industry conference without catching a glimpse of the white mane and beard of Bob Veres. Not a planner himself - "I'm completely unqualified in financial planning," he insists - Veres nonetheless has been telling advisors what's most interesting about their profession for close to 30 years. This year, his vast body of published works earned him our Lifetime Achievement Award.
The 60-year-old Veres was first drawn to financial planning in 1982 when he became editor of The Financial Planner, then a newsletter published by the International Association of Financial Planners, precursor to the Financial Planning Association. The publication later morphed into Financial Planning magazine.
Trained as a journalist, Veres applied an outsider's curiosity. He asked planners what they thought were the more important developments in their profession and reported the findings. "I found the phrase, 'Please help me cure my ignorance,' to be really powerful," he says.
He soon realized the emerging profession of financial planning attracted some of the most idealistic people in finance, people who really wanted to help ordinary citizens make sense of a complex world.
The 1980s was a time of big industry changes. In 1986, when President Ronald Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act, it reduced the tax shelter benefits of limited partnerships, which many financial services firms were peddling. "The entire profession was in a transition," Veres recalls. "What more can a writer ask for than to have a story like that to report?"
Veres' greatest contributions to the profession, however, came long after he stepped down as Financial Planning's editor in 1990. He wanted to be a freelance writer, but found his articles about practice management couldn't find a home. So he published them himself as a newsletter called Inside Information. Over the years, it's become an industry must-read. Each month, Veres brings his conversations with advisors to a broader audience. He discusses not just practice management, but also portfolio construction, marketing and client services.
"I write for the smartest people in the profession," he says of his audience. "They are people who don't have time to gather this information for themselves, but they really need someone who can be their eyes and ears."
Aside from the newsletter, Veres also shares insights in research papers, like last year's 100-page-plus treatise, The Future of the Financial Advisory Business: Opportunities, Challenges and Trends in the Second Decade of the 21st Century, or in books, such as The Cutting Edge in Financial Services, and at conferences.
He continues to keep close to the trends in the profession by maintaining his network of advisors. In a fast-changing regulatory and economic environment, there is more to write about than ever, Veres says. "I fill 16 pages of my newsletter each month and I despair at what I have to leave out," he says.