Archive for May, 2015

Career Almanac

On the Move

Bonnie Zelwak was hired as vice president for HomeTrust Bank’s Cleveland and Gaston County markets.

John Moravek of GCG Wealth Management qualified for the 2015 Million Dollar Round Table, the premier association of financial professionals.

David McPherson, a hydraulics specialist in large diameter pipeline and pump station design, joined the engineering firm of HDR as a principal conveyance project manager.

Sri Burugapalli was appointed CEO of Asia America Corporation Component Sourcing International, LLC, a global supply chain service provider.

Erin Wemple joined Cushman Wakefield / Thalhimer’s property services group as portfolio manager.

The Construction Professional Network of N.C., a statewide nonprofit organization of business and professional leaders in design, construction and related services, elected officers for 2015. Among them were Charlotteans Chuck Cardwell of SKA Consulting Engineers, secretary, and Jeanine Bachtel of University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Ron Leeper of R.L. Leeper Construction Co. and Erik Rosenwood of Hamilton, Stephens, Steel and Martin, directors.

Michael Vories, M.D., a hair transplant surgeon and medical director of Carolina Hair Surgery of Fort Mill, S.C., was accepted into the International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons.

Grant Thornton LLP hired Ann Marie Schmitz Williams as a partner and the Mid-South private wealth services practice leader, and Tom Joseph as managing director of the firm’s financial services advisory practice.

The Charlotte office of Frampton Construction added John Cunningham as site superintendent and Jason Anthony as assistant project manager.

Kimberly Kendall and Rett Turner were named vice presidents at Bissell, and Rhonda Walcott was appointed vice president and controller.

Johnston, Allison Hord, P.A., hired Jonathan Polking as an associate in the firm’s financial services and real estate groups, and attorney Patricia Koch to practice in trusts and estates.

Notable Items

The Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce awarded SD Coffee Tea its 2014 Environmental Excellence Sustainability Award for the company’s efforts in waste reduction.

The Construction Professional Network of N.C. (CPN) presented its 2015 Star Awards. In the category of Project under $20 million, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro won for its railroad pedestrian underpass, on whose team Max Richardson of Rutherford, Inc., and Keith Wayne of Wayne Brothers, both Charlotte firms, were key participants. CPN’s winning Project over $20 million was the Portal Building at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Team members, all of Charlotte, were Tod Creech of Edifice, Jeanine Bachtel of UNCC, Mike Link of Wells Fargo and Gary Welch of Johnson, Allison Hord, PA.

Mason G. Alexander, managing partner of the Charlotte office of the labor and employment law firm Fisher Phillips LLP, is one of the firm’s 44 attorneys nationwide featured in Chambers USA 2015.

Denise Chavanne, Carrie Brighton and Mary Ayers of Weichert, Realtors – Rebhan Associates achieved top closed volume honors for their first-quarter sales.

Church Watson Law, established in 2013 in Cornelius by Rush Watson and Kary Church Watson, opened a Charlotte office at 428 East Fourth St. The firm was also named by U.S. News – Best Lawyers as one of the nation’s best firms for family law for the second year in a row.

Allstate agent Alvin Green received the Allstate Agency Hands in the Community Award for his community service. On his behalf the Allstate Foundation awarded a $1,000 grant to Piedmont Adult Living Services, where Green volunteers.

Winston Strawn LLP’s Charlotte partners were recognized by Chambers USA 2015 as leaders in their fields: Jack Cobb, Tom Cottingham and Amanda Groves, general commercial litigation; Jack Knight, white collar crime and government investigations; Wood W. Lay, labor and employment; René LeBlanc-Allman, banking and finance; and Lisa Vaughn, nuclear energy.

Robert R. Marcus, Fred M. Wood, Jr., and Larry B. Sitton, litigators in the Charlotte law office of Smith Moore Leatherwood, earned recognition in the 2015 Chambers USA Guide. Sitton was also listed as a Senior Statesman.

Three law firms with Charlotte offices, Hunton Williams, King Spalding and Littler Mendelson, appear on the top 25 U.S. firms in “America’s Best Corporate Law Firms,” an annual survey of general counsels of U.S. corporations by NYSE Governance Services and FTI Consulting.

Patricia L. Blackburn was named to Northwestern University’s Medill Hall of Achievement. She had held senior leadership roles at multiple major global corporations, including McGladrey, Bank of America, Goodrich and Giddings Lewis. Most recently before retirement, she was vice president of communications, brand and public affairs for Ingersoll Rand.

JJ’s Red Hots made Fast Casual’s list of Top 75 restaurants for the second year in a row. The only Charlotte-based brand and only hot dog/sausage concept to make the list, JJ’s finished 36th in the publication’s 2015 Top 100 Movers and Shakers list, up seven spots from last year. Owner and founder Jonathan Luther accepted the award at the National Restaurant Association show with partner Melissa Luther and JJ’s director of marketing and brand development Brandy Newton.

Bill Allen and Tommy Williams of Weichert, Realtors – Rebhan Associates won top closed volume honors for first-quarter sales.

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Saturday, May 30th, 2015 EN No Comments

GFH named fastest growing bank in Bahrain


GFH named fastest growing bank in Bahrain

DUBAI, 8 hours, 35 minutes
ago

GFH, the Bahrain-based financial group, said it has been declared as the fastest growing bank in Bahrain and the best wealth management firm at a key industry event in Dubai.

The awards were announced by CPI Financial Banker Middle East, a leading provider of regional financial news, features and analysis.

GFH is one of the most recognized financial groups in the Gulf region playing a key role in the field of asset management, wealth management, commercial banking and real estate development.

Listed in Bahrain Bourse, Kuwait Stock Exchange and Dubai Financial Market, the group has its operations focused in the GCC, North Africa and India.

The awards recognise GFH’s ability to deliver solutions that showcase the group’s expertise and in-depth knowledge. They also highlight GFH’s commitment and success in developing and delivering   unique investment opportunities for clients, said the group in a statement.

“We are honoured to receive the awards for Fastest Growing Bank in Bahrain and for the Best Wealth Management Firm from CPI Financial,” said GFH’s chief executive officer Hisham Alrayes after receiving the awards on behalf of the group along with executive director (Wealth Management) Mohammed Khonji at the magazine’s annual awards in Dubai.

“At GFH, we seek to deliver world-class financial solutions and innovative customer service to keep us ahead of our competitors and ensure we remain the go-to-partner for clients seeking sound investments and returns,” he remarked.

“We do not take such recognition for granted. We know that year after year we must meet and exceed our own high standards. In doing so, we can continue to raise the bar and ensure we are innovating and creating value for all of our stakeholders,” he added.-TradeArabia News Service

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Saturday, May 30th, 2015 EN No Comments

GFH named fastest growing bank, best wealth management firm

Manama, May 30 (BNA): Gulf Finance House (GFH), the Bahrain-based financial group, today announced that it has received awards from CPI Financial Banker Middle East, a leading provider of regional financial news, features and analysis, for the Fastest Growing Bank in Bahrain and Best Wealth Management Firm.


The awards were accepted on behalf of the Group by GFH’s CEO Mr. Hisham Alrayes and Executive Director-Wealth Management Mr. Mohammed Khonji at the magazine’s annual awards in Dubai.


The awards acknowledge GFH’s ability to deliver solutions that showcase the Group’s expertise and in-depth knowledge. They also highlight GFH’s commitment and success in developing and delivering unique investment opportunities for clients.

Commenting, Mr. Alrayes said, “We are honoured to receive the awards for Fastest Growing Bank in Bahrain and for the Best Wealth Management Firm from CPI Financial. At GFH, we seek to deliver world-class financial solutions and innovative customer service to keep us ahead of our competitors and ensure we remain the go-to-partner for clients seeking sound investments and returns. We do not take such recognition for granted. We know that year after year we must meet and exceed our own high standards. In doing so, we can continue to raise the bar and ensure we are innovating and creating value for all of our stakeholders.”

GFH Financial Group aims to continually identify and structure investment opportunities that balance risk with reward and enable the Group to deliver strong, steady results for investors and shareholders.


W H Q

BNA 0849 GMT 2015/05/30

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Saturday, May 30th, 2015 EN No Comments

Practical Guidance: Aging Client Conflicts

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The aging client is a topic of significant concern. Today, one in four 65 year-olds will live past age 90, and one out of ten will live past age 95.  Most recently, FINRA and the SEC issued a report to help guide broker-dealers refine their policies and procedures as it relates to senior investors.  Regulators have focused their attention on the fact that unscrupulous financial representatives may take advantage of seniors. 

In 2011, FINRA issued a regulatory notice about the use of certifications and designations that imply an expertise in advising seniors. In 2013, the SEC published an Investor Bulletin on the same topic. In the same year, several government agencies issued guidance to financial institutions regarding the reporting of suspected financial exploitation of seniors. It brought to light the fact that firms have an obligation to protect the privacy of their clients from third party abuse.

The media is quick to report about cases of financial professionals selling unsuitable investments to seniors or preying on their weaknesses. However, those stories are often unusually sensational and shocking and, regrettably, leave the whole financial services sector with a black eye. 

However, the story less often told and perhaps more common, is that of a client not being directly exploited by an advisor, but merely pushed into making decisions he/she might not be prepared to implement. It is the story of the aging client who entrusts their child, friend or neighbor with their finances only to be duped into thinking these individuals had their best interests at heart. In many cases, the senior client is not in a diminished capacity but is simply pressured by her family into making financial choices against their better judgment. 

The following story—real names withheld—will provide a good example. I recently had a conversation with an advisor regarding Mr. Jones, his 82-year-old client. Mr. Jones lives independently in the house he shared with his wife of 57 years. Last year, after she passed away, Mr. Jones’ son, Jerry—who is 56—called the advisor to inform him that his father was a bit “lost” after his wife’s death. He argued that his father shouldn’t be managing finances. Furthermore, he contended that the investment account should be reinvested in growth stocks while bonds and other income oriented holdings be liquidated. 

The advisor explained that Jerry had no authorization to speak with him about his father’s account and that in his opinion Mr. Jones was quite sharp with his finances. Not surprisingly, Jerry was infuriated and within ten minutes Mr. Jones called the advisor to grant permission to speak with his son. The advisor clarified to Jerry that Mr. Jones had been his client for over twenty years and had always been a conservative income oriented investor, who enjoyed receiving monthly income checks he used as discretionary income. 

Soon after that conversation, the advisor learned that Jerry had taken over his dad’s finances, put him on an allowance, and instructed his father to call the advisor to change investment strategy. However, Mr. Jones never requested the advisor to straightforwardly change the asset allocation,. After two weeks of back and forth banter, Jerry threatened to file a complaint against the advisor with the regulators. Despite the advisor’s reiteration that changes to the account could be made only with specific approval of the account owner, a week later the client transferred the account to another firm.

This is a classic example of an unfortunate event that occurs far too often in our industry.  Because it does not fall within the industry’s “suspicious activity” definition, no Suspicious Activity Report [SAR] would be ever filed.   

As financial professionals we are encouraged to receive training to detect diminished capacity. Most financial advisors really know their clients well.  Although we are not doctors, we are amongst the first to recognize warning signs of cognitive decline, as math and financial-management skills are usually the first to decrease. Once an advisor detects that their aging client is no longer capable of safely managing financial decisions, then it is a good idea to engage in conversation to determine whether or not they have appointed a power of attorney. This conversation can segue into asking for an introduction to their authorized agent. No matter what the client and the advisor choose, there should be a clear plan when an advisor thinks a client is having difficulty recalling events or not able to handle finances properly.

What is best practice when confronted with family members/loved ones questioning the investment recommendations in a client account? Here are some key guidelines:

 

  • Set up a meeting with all parties
  • Take copious notes
  • Get written instruction regarding who you are authorized to speak with and who has trading authorization
  • Follow up with all parties shortly after the meeting
  • Try to set up another meeting within 3 months

 

Investment professionals wear many hats in today’s marketplace ranging from investment advisor to therapist. Those who are prepared to handle potential transitions of control can play an instrumental role in the life of their clients, ensuring that they are protected from the adverse impact of treacherous financial decisions consequence of cognitive impairment. A financial advisor who seeks to manage the entire relationship and not just the investments will likely have a long lasting bond with both the client and their family members. 

 

 

Wendy Lanton is Chief Compliance Officer at Melville, NY-based Lantern Investments.   

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Friday, May 29th, 2015 EN No Comments

Pictet keeping faith in Uncle Sam

Concerns are growing among investors that US stocks have started hitting excessive valuations after the sustained bull run, and could take a hit when the Federal Reserve starts raising rates.

Bonzon argues that investors should continue to favour US companies due to the effect of the rising dollar on global capital flows.

“Since the beginning of the decade, we have highlighted a rising dollar as one of the main structural trends,” he said. “Identifying a bullish or bearish regime for the dollar is crucial because it radically influences the hierarchy of asset class returns and hence their allocation. The dollar’s rise directly affects the balance sheets of those private and public entities that are exposed to dollar-related refinancing costs.”

“The most susceptible are high-yield US borrowers and emerging countries in deficit,” he continued. The hierarchy of markets should therefore favour US assets that benefit from the return of capital to America, at the expense of international markets, and especially emerging countries in which the adjustment to the changing trend of the dollar will be persistent and difficult.”

“We continue to favour developed equities, especially US and Japan. Emerging equities will continue their underperformance while long-term interest rates will remain low,” Bonzon added. “In this context, the search for yield will continue in the markets for shares and securitised real estate. The commodities sector and some emerging countries will also create interesting opportunities in distressed debt strategies.”

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Friday, May 29th, 2015 EN No Comments

WMA appoints three new board members

Adam Seale, Michael Morley, and David Loudon will join the trade association, which represents 186 wealth management firms and associate members, from this month. Seale is chief executive at execution only stockbroker Interactive Investor and was previously head of Lloyds UK’s high net worth business.

Morley is chief executive at Coutts Co and a director at Adam Company. Before joining Coutts he was head of international private banking at Barclays Wealth and chief executive at Barclays Switzerland.

Loudon is managing partner at Redmayne-Bentley and was previous operations manager at HFC Bank.

The WMA aims to advocate for the wealth management sector with governments, regulators, and the wider financial services community.

Last July, Tim May stepped down as its chief executive after four years in the role. He was replaced by Liz Field in September.

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Friday, May 29th, 2015 EN No Comments

AFP Capital addresses Chile’s ageing dilemma | World Finance

Life expectancy rates in Latin America, particularly in Chile, are steadily increasing; averaging around 80 years old. Pensions have become one of the first red flags for this demographic change, as current replacement rates are not meeting the needs and expectations of people.

Today, people over 60 years old represent 16.7 percent of the total population in Chile. This is expected to be 20 percent by 2025, surpassing the percentage of those under 15. By 2015, this cohort would practically represent 30 percent of the population. This is the reality under which the Chilean pension system should be analysed (see Fig. 1).

The good news is that Chileans are living longer. However, we see that individual savings are not enough to cover the pensions required when living a longer life, which is due to several reasons. Only 10 percent of a Chilean salary is contributed to a pension with a maximum taxable amount. There are contribution gaps along working life; income has steadily increased since the inception of the system; and there is still a lot to do about the formalisation of jobs.

The good news is that Chileans are living longer

Three pillar system
President Michelle Bachelet introduced a new pension reform within her government programme. Consequently, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Pension Systems was set up, which should be in charge of reviewing the current pension model in order to analyse changes and improvements required to address the present and future of this ageing population. In general, in Chile we understand that improving the system requires strengthening the harmony and complementing the three pillars: solidarity, mandatory and voluntary.

AFP Capital has actively participated in discussing the improvements the system requires, presenting 11 proposals (see box out) to the Presidential Advisory Committee, which include extending the subsidy on young workers’ contributions from the current two-year limit for the first 10 years of work, and for 100 percent of the contribution. It is important to note that contributions paid in along the first 10 years of working life account for about 40 percent of the pension.

At AFP Capital, we also promote alternative fund investments in order to improve pensions by up to 15 percent. These assets include private equity, hedge funds, real estate, infrastructure and commodities, among others. It also encourages establishing a state-supported insurance, intended to guarantee a minimum replacement rate, and implemented for a number of contributing years. It has also suggested developing an insurance that guarantees a certain replacement rate based on the years paid in and the actual contribution payable in respect of the contributable income. Replacement rates guaranteed for 10, 15 and 20 years could be defined.

For middle-income people, there’s the development of the Strengthen Voluntary Pension Savings. With this, there are two ways to enable massive voluntary pension savings (APVC) for middle-income segments. The first is to strengthen the APVC, and secondly, to improve subsidies to APV – known as Scheme A. By moving towards a policy of continued employment, this would allow for the cultural changes required for this new workforce.

Getting the calculations right
This last point is significantly important, as the minimum retirement age in Chile is 65 for men and 60 for women, who, in return, have a longer life expectancy and lower pensions. While it is not a popular course of action, it is clear that with or without a law, the fact is that today Chileans must work longer in order to get better pensions. The calculation is clear: an eight percent pension increase over a working year.

Likewise, AFP Capital’s 30-year experience and knowhow in the financial asset management sector has helped to build public policies that are intended to improve the coverage, density and savings incentives for affiliates.

Therefore, this year SURA Asset Management, of which AFP Capital is a subsidiary, presented the study How to Strengthen Latin American Pension Systems: Experiences, lessons and propositions. The survey focuses on the six regional countries that made reforms in the 1980s and 1990s, introducing individual capitalisation defined contribution schemes, and where SURA Asset Management is present – Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, El Salvador and Uruguay.

This document confirms that it is necessary to move towards a proper integration and complement within the pillars of the system, each meeting the objective they were created for, and strengthening the potential of the mandatory and voluntary individual capitalisation programmes.

A distinctive component of AFP Capital is its mission to be a savings guide for its affiliates, being with them to build their pensions along their life cycle through personalised and specialised advice.

The company has focused its efforts on explaining that building a good pension means saving every month, paying contributions for the total earnings, bridging the contribution gaps and considering a voluntary savings plan that will always help improve pensions and balance potential contribution gaps that one affiliate may have.

At AFP Capital we support our clients to build their ‘number’, which is the total amount of money they must have at the end of their working life in order to enjoy the future they want. Then, we analyse their risk profile and support them in defining a savings plan.

Thanks to this constant relationship, 442,200 customers have already built their number. Additionally, 548,616 clients have performed their Pension Scan, which is an innovative tool that is intended to inform our clients about their real situation and potential contribution gaps, and also foster voluntary savings.

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Thursday, May 28th, 2015 EN No Comments

Matthews Joins Andrew Hill Investment Advisors Inc.

 Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, Inc. (AHIA), a Naples-based investment and wealth management advisory firm, today announced the appointment of Noelle Matthews as Investment Management Associate. In this position, Matthews will be responsible for supporting client relations, marketing and event management.

Matthews brings several years of professional experience to AHIA. Most recently, she served as Office Manager at Naples Equestrian Challenge, where she gained significant experience in non-profit fundraising, marketing and accounting. Matthews also previously worked as Legal Assistant for a local law firm specializing in estate planning.

Originally from Chicago, Matthews earned her Bachelor of Arts in Marketing Communications at Columbia College. She is actively involved in the local community with a number of organizations, including the Shy Wolf Sanctuary, Rookery Bay Natural Estuary, and Naples Equestrian Challenge and its Friends of Foster Children EFL program. Matthews is currently working on obtaining her series 65 securities license

Andrew Hill Investment Advisors, Inc. (AHIA) is an investment advisory firm registered with the State of Florida and manages funds for individuals, trusts, small business pension plans and captive insurance companies. AHIA is boutique firm providing highly personalized investment management and financial concierge services for its clients. Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services is the primary custodian of client assets.

For additional information on Andrew Hill Investment Advisers, including the firm’s ADV filing, visit www.ResponsibleAdvisors.com or call 239-777-3129 or 239-777-3188.

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Thursday, May 28th, 2015 EN No Comments

Technology replaces schmoozing: the future of private banking

No longer is schmoozing over long lunches and fine wines enough; Swiss private bankers are turning to video games and virtual reality to attract a new generation of sceptical clients and see off digital rivals.

Technology is likely to appeal to multi-tasking millionaires with little time to spare. However, wealth managers must also win the trust of younger investors who have experienced two downturns during their formative years plus a furore over Swiss banks’ involvement in tax evasion.

In a fifth floor office just off Zurich’s main shopping street, researchers at UBS are testing dozens of technologies to see what could make the world’s biggest wealth manager more appealing as fortunes pass to the next generation.

“How do you get under the skin of clients today, because they often work on their mobiles and they manage their wealth in their spare time,” said Dave Bruno, head of UBS’s innovation lab. “It might be in the bathroom, it might be waiting for a flight.”

Bruno and his team are designing video games, including a prototype puzzle for iPads and smartphones, and looking at virtual reality simulations to help people visualise what are often complex investment portfolios.

They are also working on technologies that allow clients to log into their accounts using their voice patterns and facial features, doing away with the time consuming and frustrating need to answer security questions.

UBS has opened a second research lab in London and plans another for Singapore later this year. It is also exchanging ideas with financial technology start-ups as well as Google and Amazon.

FACEBOOK, NOT FERRARI

UBS Chief Operating Officer for wealth management Dirk Klee said clients need investment advice and performance. “It’s not just being a ‘concierge service’,” he said.

Many millionaire and billionaire customers, whose ages average more than 65, still welcome the concierge service – such as sorting out the paperwork on their new Ferrari.

But in the next few years private banks must deal increasingly with clients who are perhaps 30 years younger as what is often family wealth passes down to the next generation. These people grew up with the tech bubble bursting around the turn of the century, followed by the 2008 financial crisis.

This is shaking things up at Switzerland’s private banks, which are already reeling from a U.S.-led campaign against tax cheats. This has effectively ended the industry’s secrecy rules and encouraged publicity-shy customers to withdraw hundreds of billions of francs from Swiss accounts.

Meetings are increasingly held over video links instead of in banks’ wood-panelled rooms overlooking Lake Geneva, while clients will look to social networks for investment advice and to compare portfolio performance.

Some of the technology being investigated is less familiar than simple video conferencing. It includes Facebook-owned (FB.O) virtual reality goggles Oculus Rift, which can present clients’ portfolios as a city.

“Which pieces of your city are missing? You don’t have a water system in place, which might be your investments into a certain area in the alternates market,” UBS’s Bruno said.

“Your skyscrapers are too tall, you’re invested too high here. There are ways to use the new technology to do things in finance that are quite cool and interesting for our business model.”

Cool technology notwithstanding, banks still need to get the basics right, according to Felix Wenger, a director at the Zurich office of the McKinsey consulting firm.

“The industry is still in the process of making sure things run smoothly and don’t break down,” said Wenger, who compared the technology wave in private banking today with the motor industry in the 1950s when it needed to ensure cars ran safely and reliably.

New digital wealth managers, such as British-based Nutmeg and U.S.-based Wealthfront, are keen to play up the trust issue. “Almost universally, every study is showing that investors under 35 have grave mistrust of existing banks and brokerages, and are seeking a solution from the technology industry,” Wealthfront Chief Executive Adam Nash said.

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Thursday, May 28th, 2015 EN No Comments

Bank of Montreal’s Results Top Expectations

Bank of Montreal, Canada’s fourth-largest lender by assets, raised its quarterly dividend on Wednesday and reported better-than-expected fiscal second-quarter results on stronger contributions from its personal and commercial banking operations and wealth management.

Toronto-based BMO, which kicked off earnings season for Canada’s biggest banks, said earnings from its capital-markets division also rebounded strongly from the first…

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Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 EN No Comments