Archive for March, 2012

AGF first-quarter profit drops 11%

AGF Management Ltd. AGF.B-T
blamed slower mutual funds sales during the registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) season for an 11-per-cent drop in first-quarter profit.

Net redemptions from its mutual funds also grew to $680-million in the quarter ended Feb. 29 from $402-million a year ago, the Toronto-based wealth management company said Wednesday.

Investors were flocking to balanced and bond offerings during the RRSP-selling season, and were generally redeeming stock funds, AGF’s chief executive officer Blake Goldring told analysts during a conference call.

“As an equity-focused manager, this industry trend was a factor in [AGF’s] gross sales being down from last year.”

Asked what would AGF do if investors continued their risk-averse behaviour, Mr. Goldring said that his firm has some “innovative” product offerings and a new partner to help the firm increase assets. Those plans will be announced in the second quarter.

AGF’s institutional business, however, is doing well with $900-million of net sales expected in fiscal 2012 from existing and new global clients, he predicted.

First-quarter profit fell to $26.1-million, or 27 cents per fully diluted share, from $29.2-million, or 32 cents a share, a year ago.

Total assets under management slid 8.8 per cent to $47.8-billion in the quarter. Consolidated revenue dropped to $155.5-million because of a 4.8-per-cent decrease in investment management revenue.

During the quarter, AGF’s trust unit, which is involved in the mortgage and RRSP-loan business, paid a $20-million dividend to AGF Management.

“We will be looking to release more capital from AGF Trust through 2012 as it is overcapitalized from a regulatory and risk perspective,” he said, adding there will be “enough capital to fund the strong growth of loan originations.”

Barclays Capital analyst John Aiken said that the first quarter’s earnings “do little to assuage our concern that it will continue to underperform its peers on the back of lower new mutual funds sales.

“While we remain cautious on our outlook for equity valuations of the near term, a more positive outlook could merit a look at AGF, particularly for value investors,” Mr. Aiken wrote in a note to clients. He has a underweight-neutral rating on AGF with a one-year target $15 a share.


Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 EN No Comments

Regulator demands more tax transparency

by Matthew Allen,

The Swiss financial regulator has broken ranks with the financial community by calling for a greater exchange of tax and regulatory information with other countries.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) statement comes at a time when the government is trying to get around demands from the European Union for an automatic exchange of bank client data.

Finma director Patrick Raaflaub warned that Switzerland would lose its competitive edge unless the tax evasion row, that has been hanging over the sector for the last three years, is removed once and for all.
“I very much question if wealth management in Switzerland can remain a world market leader,” he said at Finma’s annual press conference in Bern on Tuesday. “Increased access to bank data is unavoidable.”
However, Raaflaub stopped short of calling for an automatic exchange of information.
Switzerland has already bowed to international demands for greater tax transparency by loosening its grip on client data, despite complaints that this has diluted banking secrecy laws.
Earlier this year the Swiss parliament conceded further ground by agreeing to pass on information to countries investigating tax evasion cases even if the client’s name could not be provided.

“Radical rethink” needed

But the government has stood firm on its principle of denying an automatic exchange of information when a foreign client opens an account in Switzerland regardless of whether they are under suspicion or not.
Instead, negotiators are attempting to sidestep the pressure by means of withholding tax deals with Britain and Germany. A revised treaty with Britain was unveiled last week that promised to swerve around legal objections from the European Commission.
The EC has yet to comment on the new treaty which has also to be voted on by the British parliament. German politicians have voiced dissent with a similar Rubik deal with that country.
Speaking on Tuesday, Raaflaub was clear that the proper way to solve the problem was with enhanced bank data exchanges. While recognising Swiss efforts to purge tax evasion assets, he nevertheless urged a “radical rethink” to address growing international demands for more data.
“Restricting administrative assistance as much as possible and only supplying the client details that are absolutely necessary to foreign partner authorities in both the tax and supervisory fields was a conscious and politically accepted decision enshrined in law for many decades,” he said.
“As regards the international collaboration between authorities especially, it is clear that Switzerland’s restrictive approach is no longer meeting international expectations.”

“No tax mandate”

Raaflaub declined to comment on exactly how much more ground Switzerland should concede, saying only that Finma had a “considerable interest” in a reciprocal exchange of information from other countries.
Nor would Raaflaub give his view on the Rubik treaty route or the ongoing negotiations with the United States about implementing the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Fatca, that is due to come into force next year, would compel any foreign bank to automatically hand over details of US clients that deposit money overseas.
Five major European countries appear to be setting a global Fatca template by negotiating a future reciprocal exchange of information with the US.
The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) rejected Raaflaub’s concerns, arguing that the regulator has no authority to intervene in such matters.
“Banks are contributing to a stable and well supervised financial centre by providing complete and high quality information on their business and by fully co-operating with the concerned authorities,” the SBA said in a statement. “Finma has no mandate in tax policy, we do not understand its call for further international co-operation in this field.”

Controversial decision

Finma does not have any direct role in tax evasion negotiations, but the body does have authority to intervene if it believes the financial sector is at risk.
In 2009, Finma controversially ordered  the release of data relating to hundreds of UBS clients when the Swiss bank faced charges of aiding and abetting tax evasion in the US.
A year later the Federal Administrative Court ruled that Finma had overstepped its authority. But the decision was reversed in 2011 by the Supreme Court on the grounds that the charges threatened the stability of the Swiss economy.
With the government now acting vigorously to douse the tax evasion fire, the chances of Finma stepping in again with the same force are limited.
But the regulator said it was still duty bound to report to politicians its concerns that a lack of tax transparency could continue to undermine the financial sector.
“Facilitating or quietly tolerating tax evasion by foreign clients cannot be a viable business model,” Raaflaub said. “A legal framework that permits tax evasion has nothing more to do with quality [of wealth management services] in today’s world.”

Matthew Allen,


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Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 EN No Comments

Women Are a $12 Trillion Market Advisors Cannot Ignore: Pershing – Financial


Women are not a niche market as far as planning goes, and advisors should actively seek to develop and improve relationships with them, according to panelists at a recent Pershing presentation.

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Females control roughly two-thirds of annual spending in the U.S., amounting to about $12 trillion, and 80% of women will be solely responsible for household financial decisions at some point in their lives, the panelists said, citing findings from a recent Sullivan Trust Study. Pershing unveiled a new guidebook “Women Are Not a ‘Niche’ Market. They Are a Significant Business Opportunity,” at the event.

Spending by women is likely to continue on an upward trajectory, considering that women comprise two-thirds of the working population, and are expected to dominate the legal and medical professions in 25 years, according to Pershing.

“Advisors should focus on the needs of women,” Kim Dellarocca, head of practice management at Pershing, said during the presentation. “Women who are single, professional and the breadwinners of the family have a need for wealth management and financial advice.”

Despite their educational and professional strides, women are less satisfied than men with the performance of their investment professionals. About 46% of women said their advisors focused on “making me a smarter investor,” compared with 60% of men. Although a majority of women, 57%, said their advisors “clearly articulate downside risks of investments,” they still lagged the percentage of men, 66%, who said the same. 

Also, an overwhelming 92% of women retirees have not done the financial planning necessary to live comfortably for their full life spans, Pershing found. About 70% of widowed women stop working with their financial advisors shortly after the death of their spouses.

“Women will leave an advisor of there is no trust in that relationship,” Dellarocca, says.

Financial advisors, regardless of gender, can change that dynamic by communicating differently with women. Mind the body language, like the pats on the back associated with male camaraderie, Dellarocca says. Set up follow-up meetings with the family, especially considering that women tend to be very concerned about their family’s well being. 

Advisors don’t have to do all of the heavy lifting, and women can take four simple steps to master their financial situations, according to Susan L. Hirshman, president of SHE Ltd., a consulting firm specializing in increasing women’s financial literacy. Hirshman, who also spoke at the Pershing event, is also author of “Does This Make My Assets Look Fat?”

Women should assess their present situations, identify goals for the future, ask themselves what the plan is to meet those goals and understand how they are doing.

“This is about education and not leaving [their] future up to chance,” Dellarocca says.

Donna Mitchell writes for Financial Planning.




















Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 EN No Comments

Adams Hall Asset Management Opens Dallas Office

/PRNewswire/ — Adams Hall Asset Management – an independent wealth management firm – today announced that it is expanding its wealth advisory service by opening an office in Dallas. The firm has hired Scott Mills, formerly with UBS Wealth Management, to lead the expansion. 

“We are confident that the new Dallas office will allow us to better serve the needs of our clients, providing them with the opportunity to meet with our teams when and where they need to,” said Jana Shoulders, chief executive officer of Adams Hall. “We have client relationships in the Dallas area and look forward to expanding our footprint by establishing a permanent local presence.”

Adams Hall is an independent wealth management firm with significant experience creating custom, holistic wealth planning solutions for a wide range of clients.

As part of the Mariner Wealth Advisors family of companies, Adams Hall’s wealth professionals have access to a wide range of innovative tools and resources to help them meet clients’ needs. Mariner Wealth Advisors is an independent wealth management firm led by chief executive officer Martin C. Bicknell, who was recognized by Barron’s as a Top Ten Independent Wealth Advisor in the United States in 2010 and 2011.

To support the new location, Scott Mills has joined Adams Hall as a senior wealth advisor responsible for providing wealth management services to Dallas-area clients as well as bringing on a team of experienced professionals. In addition to the time he spent at UBS, Scott’s professional experience includes wealth management roles at Barclays Wealth and with Credit Suisse First Boston’s Private Client Group. He served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, and earned an MBA from Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin. Scott is a native Texan who has resided in Dallas for more than thirty years.

“Over the last decade, I’ve witnessed an evolution in the financial services industry,” said Scott Mills. “Clients want holistic wealth planning that is designed to meet their goals, incorporating every aspect of their financial picture. I am excited to be joining Adams Hall, as I believe the firm’s focus on maintaining strong, personal relationships and providing an individualized wealth management experience allows me to bring this type of custom, unbiased advice to the Dallas community.”

According to Jana Shoulders, “Scott has a diverse background in the financial services industry that spans more than 20 years. His client-first philosophy fits perfectly with our firm’s focus. He is a straight talking, no-nonsense entrepreneur and a graduate of the Air Force’s Officer Training School who understands the meaning of integrity. That is why I’m confident he is the right person to lead our new Dallas team toward providing the best possible service to our clients.”

About Adams Hall Asset Management

Adams Hall offers a wide range of services aimed at producing and preserving financial gains. Adams Hall’s experienced wealth professionals focus on building strong, secure client-advisor relationships, using their financial expertise to help their clients achieve financial security. The firm’s disciplined investing and comprehensive wealth management services include:

  • Family office services
  • Financial planning
  • Asset allocation
  • Fiduciary oversight services
  • Cash flow analysis
  • Tax-sensitive investing


About Mariner Wealth Advisors

Mariner Wealth Advisors is an independent wealth management firm that, together with its affiliates, manages $13 billion in collective assets and employs a staff of more than 300 experienced wealth and investment professionals across the United States. The firm is led by chief executive officer Martin C. Bicknell, who was recognized by Barron’s as a Top Ten Independent Wealth Advisor in the United States in 2010 and 2011. Mariner supports Adams Hall with a wide range of industry-leading resources, providing Adams Hall’s professionals with the freedom to focus on spending time with their clients, identifying opportunities and delivering innovative solutions to help those clients arrive at their personal financial destinations.


The Barron’s recognitions are based upon information compiled using data for Mariner Holdings, a global financial services firm that owns and manages both Mariner Wealth Advisors and its affiliate, Montage Investments, an independent asset management firm.

SOURCE Adams Hall Asset Management


Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 EN No Comments

UK regulator fines queen’s bank Coutts $13.8M

Britain’s financial regulator has fined the queen’s bank, Coutts Bank, 8.75 million pounds ($13.8 million) for failing to maintain effective controls on accounts of high-risk customers and to prevent money laundering.

The Financial Services Authority said Monday that the failures were “serious, systemic and allowed to persist for almost three years.”

Coutts, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, specializes in private banking and wealth management. Known as the queen’s banker, Coutts offers free current accounts to customers who invest at least 250,000 pounds.

Coutts is part of the Wealth division of Royal Bank of Scotland. The division reported an operating profit of 321 million pounds in 2011.


Monday, March 26th, 2012 EN No Comments

Sameer Kaul is private banking head at Citi

Citi India today appointed Sameer Kaul as the head of its private banking business.


on the appointment, Citi India chief executive Pramit Jhaveri said, “We are pleased to appoint Kaul as the new head of our private banking here. His expertise in client servicing, product management and experience will further strengthen the business and prove to be an asset in growing our business here”.

Most recently, Kaul was the head of retail branch banking business here where he ran Citi India’s 42 branches spanning 30 cities and was responsible for commercial banking and wealth management distribution business originating from the branches.

Kaul has 17 years experience with Citi having joined as a management associate in 1995 and has held various roles in operations, product management, insurance distribution, mortgages and commercial banking.


Monday, March 26th, 2012 EN No Comments

RMG Wealth introduces offshore global macro fund

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Monday, March 26th, 2012 EN No Comments

Making the case for annuities

Making the case for annuities

They’re less attractive but still deserve a place in some retirement plans, advisers argue

Darla Mercado

March 25, 2012 6:01 am ET

Harsh economic realities have led insurers to get stingy with returns and benefits on annuities, but financial advisers think that there still is a place for these products in clients’ portfolios.


Related to this story

Ever since the 2008 crisis, slumping interest rates and rampant volatility in the equity markets have wrought havoc on life insurers, raising the cost of hedging for variable annuities with living benefits and reducing rates of return on fixed annuities.

As a result, variable annuities this year are more likely to have limited investment menus and use portfolios that “self-hedge” against market risk. Guaranteed living benefits, which provide income or withdrawals over a lifetime, have also been ratcheted down to 5%, from levels as high as 7% just before the crisis.

By comparison, fixed annuities, including fixed indexed annuities, are growing, but at a slower pace. They are casualties of the lengthy low-interest-rate environment, which has hurt life insurers’ returns on fixed-income investments and lowered the amount that carriers can credit toward the annuities.


But changes aside, consumer demand still is strong. Net VA sales, which exclude transfers into variable annuities, were $27.7 billion last year, up 28% from 2010, according to Morningstar Inc.

Meanwhile, fixed-annuity sales last year were $75.6 billion, down 1.1% from a year earlier, according to Beacon Research Publications Inc.

“Annuities create ballast in the clients’ account,” said Michael R. Suttle, a financial adviser at Suttle Financial Group. “They’re like the keel on a boat; they keep you from going too far over to one side.”

Advisers and clients are finding that the products may be less generous but still are valuable. In the case of variable annuities, the emphasis is falling on income protection and tax deferral.

Meanwhile, fixed annuities still are providing attractive returns, at least when compared with certificates of deposit.

Advisers who use variable annuities are finding that the conversation with clients has changed to securing an income stream that clients can count on, from generating as much alpha as possible. As a result, having unlimited access to the most aggressive subaccount options is taking a back seat.


Some advisers are willing to put up with restrictions on investments, as long as the income features are attractive enough.

“The risks to retirees’ capital are as great as they’ve ever been, so to have that protection for the income is key,” said Susan Moore, founder and president of Moore Wealth Management.

Her tool kit includes guaranteed-minimum-income benefits from MetLife Inc.’s GMIB Max III, which provides a 5% growth rate to the benefit base and 5% income withdrawals, and Axa Equitable Life Insurance Co.’s Accumulator 11, which offers a 5.5% compounded annual growth rate.

Products that foster “stacking and resetting” — the opportunity to build the income benefit base through strong market performance, lock-ins at market level highs and compounded growth — are especially valuable.

“Because of stacking and resetting, we were able to get two good years of outperformance from 2006 to … 2008,” Ms. Moore said. “The guarantee of the income for life in a treacherous environment for the next five years and the ability to protect against inflation are huge.”

Some insurers are banking on advisers’ looking at variable annuities as a tax shelter, as opposed to seeing them as an income vehicle.

For instance, Jackson National Life Insurance Co. recently released Elite Access, a variable annuity that emphasizes investments in alternative assets but doesn’t provide any living benefits. The Jefferson National Life Insurance Co. also employs the same investment philosophy, targeting fee-only advisers with a flat fee for the VA.

David D’Amico, president of Braver Wealth Management, prefers to manage the holdings within a VA actively to hedge against risk tied to traditional equities and fixed income. He uses a tactical strategy to take advantage of the structure of VAs, which permits trading without adverse tax consequences.

“You pay a small fee per year, and you’re just sheltering from taxes and letting your money grow, maximizing your estate over time,” Mr. D’Amico said. “We’re talking these up to our ultrahigh-net worth clients.”

Meanwhile, other advisers concentrate on exposure to alternatives within the VA to act as a diversifier against other assets a client may hold. “We use it purely for alternative asset exposure,” Tyler Denholm, director of investment research at ValMark Securities Inc., said of Jackson’s Elite Access VA. “The benefit for the small client with only a $100,000 account is that they can put a percentage of those assets into alternatives, and the other benefit is the tax deferral.”

On the fixed- and indexed-annuity side, advisers are aware that reduced crediting rates to annuities make them look less attractive, but they still do well against safe-money options, such as certificates of deposit.

“Rates are lower, but it’s all relative,” Mr. Suttle said. “Can you find a CD with a 1% rate of return?”

When shopping for fixed in-dexed annuities, Mr. Suttle prefers using companies with consistent cap rates — which set a ceiling on the amount of gains a client can capture — as opposed to going for insurers that may start their cap rates high but cut them later, curbing returns for the client.

“We’re not rate chasers; I would take a 3% or 3.5% cap now and know that that’s going to be the cap going forward,” Mr. Suttle said. “We like consistency. If you see a 5% cap rate now, the insurer probably won’t keep that rate, because they can’t maintain the integrity of their portfolio.”


Sunday, March 25th, 2012 EN No Comments

Lenox in it for long haul

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Jay Hummel says Lenox Wealth Management, a Sycamore Township-based financial services firm, is changing the way its clients think about financial planning. Hummel, who was named the company’s president and chief operating officer in November at age 32, uses himself as an example.

Clients new to Lenox often are surprised by his age. But Hummel believes it makes a statement about the firm’s viability and unique nature.

“A lot of times their day-to-day financial planning is being handled by someone who’s four to five years from retirement, so there can be questions about succession planning,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of gray hair, but I make up for it by making a statement to clients and their families … we’re going to serve their needs for multiple decades.”

Hummel, who previously worked for Deloitte Touche and Ward Group, earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in the Carl H. Lindner Honors PLUS program at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Business.

John Lame, chief executive officer at Lenox, has known Hummel for 10 years.

“During the time I’ve seen him assume leadership roles in organizations and have great success,” said Lame. “We watched his leadership and operating style, and we thought he’d be the right guy for the job.”

Lenox, which currently has 15 full-time employees, has $600 million under direct management, and provides financial assistance for more than $1.1 billion when including indirect assets such as stock options and retirement plans.

Lenox helps clients manage “life transitions” such as retirement, funding college tuition for a child, helping with the financial impact of a death in the family, or facilitating the purchase of a new home or car.

“We will run the analysis, and negotiate the price with the dealership,” said Hummel.

Lenox also provides tax, bill-paying and other concierge services. It is a fee-only registered investment adviser, meaning it does not receive compensation based on referral of a client or business.

“If their account value decreases, so do our revenues,” said Hummel. “Clients are the only people who pay Lenox.”

Around 60 percent of clients are current or retired Procter Gamble executives and their families, and mostly high-net worth individuals. Lame said PG employees do not receive discounts or benefits Lenox doesn’t provide other clients.

“But we frequently find that we know the PG plans and benefits about as well as anybody at PG,” he said.

Mark Jahnke is an attorney at Katz Teller Brant Hild, which has served as legal counsel for Lenox. Jahnke’s known Lame for 10 years.

“We have a number of mutual clients,” Jahnke said. “Lenox does an excellent job … providing solid investment advice along with a full offering of family office services. They have particularly strong talent in designing plans to help corporate executives manage stock option strategies.”


Sunday, March 25th, 2012 EN No Comments

George J. Ernst Jr. Receives Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor Designation

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Mount Laurel, NJ (PRWEB) March 25, 2012

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney announced today that Mr. George J. Ernst Jr., a Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor and Investment Management Consultant, Financial Planning Specialist in the firm’s Wealth Management office in Mount Laurel, has earned the Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM (CRPC®) designation from the College for Financial Planning. Mr. Ernst has worked at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and its predecessor firms, since 2008.

The CRPC program focuses on the pre- and post- retirement needs of individuals, enabling the Financial Advisor to provide clients with information about the retirement planning process from start to finish. Recipients of the CRPC® designation have successfully completed a self-study or online mentor program curriculum and passed an examination covering topics such as: sources of retirement income, employer-sponsored retirement plans, retirement plan distributions, and estate planning.

The College for Financial Planning educates financial advisors through the CRPC curriculum and examination program to expand their planning skills to help clients prepare for their retirement. The CRPC program carries continuing education (CE) credit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional designation.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, a global leader in wealth management, provides access to a wide range of products and services to individuals, businesses and institutions, including brokerage and investment advisory services, financial and wealth planning, credit and lending, cash management, annuities and insurance, retirement and trust services. For more information, call 856-222-4505.

Morgan Stanley is a leading global financial services firm providing a wide range of investment banking, securities, investment management and wealth management services. The Firm’s employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals from more than 1,300 offices in 43 countries. For further information about Morgan Stanley, please visit

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Sunday, March 25th, 2012 EN No Comments