Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Survey: Highest-Performing Advisors Earn their Media Coverage and Bylines

It was great seeing so many of you last week at the NYC @AccountingShow. Here's a link to my presentation about the findings from the 2019 CPA/Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey™ with the one and only Rick Telberg @CPA_Trendlines. Click here for the presentation.

As shown below, the highest performing advisors tend to put the greatest value on public speaking, publishing under their byline and getting quoted in the press. Blake Christian (HCVT) and Kyle Walters (L&H CPAs) have long been regular monthly contributors to Accounting Today.

Guy Baker (Wealth Teams Alliance) was recently quoted in Forbes (New Retirement Bill Is Coming: The SECURE Act -Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement). Matt Topley was quoted in US News & World Report (8 Types of Passive Investment Risk) and James Nevers (Soundmark Wealth) was quoted in (Business Insurance: How to Safeguard Your Livelihood).

Anthony Glomski, author of the new book (Liquidity & You) also presented at the NYC @AccountingShow with a focus on habits of millionaire CPAs and CFOs.

Cecil Nazareth
, author of the new International Tax & Compliance Handbook was across town at the New York State Society of CPAs yesterday for a live presentation and webinar about international tax issues and changes post-Tax Reform. 

Meanwhile, Molly Grubb, author of the forthcoming book Build Your Dynasty will discuss Keys to Entrepreneurship at the LA Accounting & Finance Show next week.


Are you sensing a trend? These influencers make time in their busy schedules to speak, publish and share their knowledge regularly. Like going to the gym, they know that being consistent, working hard and having accountability partners is the only way to get results. They know there’s no secret formula, magic silver bullet or life hack for becoming an instant thought leader. Don’t let anyone tell you there is.

If you’re interested in building your thought leader muscles but don’t know where to start, reach out to us any time. We’re happy to provide you with some complimentary workouts.

# Public Speaking  #Practice Development #Wealth Advisor Confidence #Accounting & Finance Show

Monday, July 08, 2019

Survey: Highest-Performing Advisors Do the Most Public Speaking

As we compiled the results of our 2019 CPA/Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey™, we wondered if there were any data points separating the most optimistic advisors from all the rest.  Every type of advisor seems to be more concerned about the economy, the high value of the stock market, the inverted yield curve and Trump tariffs and retaliation than they were at this time a year ago. We also saw across-the-board increases in client outreach and marketing efforts beyond word-of-mouth referrals.

But, when it came to thought leadership tactics, that’s where we started to see some separation. Take public speaking, the highest rated of the 15 thought leadership tactics we asked our nearly 300 respondents about. Two-thirds (66%) of firms that were expecting to grow by 10 percent of more in 2019 found public speaking to be “very” or “extremely” valuable. By contrast, only 60 percent of firms expecting single-digit growth considered public speaking to by highly valuable and only 54 percent of firms expecting flat or negative growth put a high value on public speaking. A similar trend followed for most of the top thought leadership tactics including publishing articles and books, getting mentioned in the press, producing videos, blogging and holding client events and webinars.

It was not until we got into the bottom the rankings that the under-performing firms placed the same value (or more) on lowe-rated thought leadership tactics such as Facebook (15% vs. 12%), Twitter (7% vs. 5%) and Instagram/Snapchat (4% vs. 1%).
Survey co-author Rick Telberg (CPA Trendlines) and I will be presenting our findings at the NYC Accounting and Finance Show on Thursday afternoon at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Can’t make it to the show? Send me a note if you’d like a copy of the presentation.

If you’ll be at the show this week in NYC or in two weeks in Los Angeles, make sure to catch the presentations of our clients. Anthony Glomski, author of the new book (Liquidity & You) will discuss habits of millionaire CPAs and CFOs. Cecil Nazareth, author of the new International Tax & Compliance Handbook will discuss cross-border transactions post-Tax Reform and Molly Grubb, author of the forthcoming book Build Your Dynasty will discuss Keys to Entrepreneurship.
Are you sensing a trend? They make time in their busy schedules to speak, publish and share their knowledge regularly.

Even if the prospect of a microphone, video camera or podium makes you break out in a cold sweat, you’ve probably got more of a story to tell than you think. As with so many things in life, the more you practice public speaking the better you get. Like many of your peers, over time you may actually start to like it. Speaking is certainly one of the very best way to get yourself noticed and to attract new prospects, strategic partners and talent. What’s not to like about that?

# Public Speaking  #Practice Development #Wealth Advisor Confidence #Accounting & Finance Show

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Generalists in an Age of Specialization

In today’s hyper-competitive, Amazon-customized world, it’s tempting to think you need to be super specialized in everything you do in order to carve out your niche and build your personal brand.

We live in an age of 13-year-old professional soccer players, 17-year-old Nobel laureates, perfect SAT scores and eight-way ties for the national spelling bee championship because the folks at Scripps who run the bee ran out of challenging words.
Conventional wisdom is that to attain genuine excellence in any area — sports, music, science, whatever — you have to specialize, and specialize early: That’s the message. If you don’t, others will have a head start on you.

In a world that increasingly believes you need 10,000 hours of “deliberate practiceto become competent in any type of endeavor, the last thing you want to be is a generalist who’s a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none.”
But wait. David Epstein’s highly acclaimed new book, “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” takes the opposite view. Epstein argues that “breadth is the ally of depth, not its enemy” and that in many areas of life, generalists are better positioned than specialists to excel.

From sports science and business, to the arts and even the space program, Epstein believes the advantage is increasingly shifting to generalists who have broad integrative skills. These are people who become experts at pattern recognition—recognizing common challenges between industries or disciplines and bringing innovative solutions to bear.
Epstein is an accomplished researcher and storyteller who has ample data and case studies to support his views. Range is not always an easy read, but Epstein provides readers with two important reasons for thinking generalists might have an edge over specialists:

(1) Generalists are better at navigating “wicked” learning environments in which the rules and the playing field are constantly changing and not constrained by narrow boundaries.

(2) Generalists end up with better “match quality” -- the degree of fit between who they are and what they do for a career.

He argues that students who take an interdisciplinary array of science courses are better at thinking analogically; researchers with offbeat knowledge combinations score more “hit” papers; Nobel laureates in science are more likely than their less-recognized peers — 22 times as likely! — to have artistic pursuits outside their field.

Matt Topley, chief investment officer of Fortis Wealth and author of the daily blog View from the Top told me the other day that he has held the following jobs: Newspaper route, YMCA janitor, landscaper, bartender, uniform salesman, hair salon owner, bar owner, stock trader, chief investment officer, partner, chair of endowment committee, chairman of charity board and real estate investor. “Each one of these jobs brought more experience than personal wealth,” recalled Topley. “This wide disparity of occupations has given me an eclectic lens into the working world. More importantly, each and every one of these jobs I held, starting at age 10, gave me important experience dealing with, and managing, people from widely unrelated backgrounds.”

My 85-year-old father is finally pursuing the art career he started in high school. While his canvases sell for a fraction of what he earned during his “career detours” as a chemical engineer and later as a vascular surgeon, it’s the same pattern recognition, spatial relationships and endless curiosity about how things work, that keep him going strong.

We tend to look at the world in black and white terms, but the truth is somewhere in between. Most introverts have some extroverted traits and vice versa. Most generalists have some specialist tendencies and vice versa. What successful people seem to have in common regardless of age, gender, educational background or career path is a commitment to lifelong learning and the courage to get out of their comfort zones time and time again.

# David Epstein #Matt Topley #Henry Berkowitz, MD

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Lending Money to Adult Children?

With a three-day holiday weekend upon us, millions of Americans will be fleeing to their beach houses, lake retreats or mountain cabins to kick off the official start to summer. Parades, barbecues and traffic will be the main topics of conversation, but the subject of money (or lack thereof) inevitably surfaces whenever extended families spend time together.

Most parents of means want their adult children to start grown-up life on solid financial footing. They’ll gladly help them with a down payment on a first house, startup capital for a new business, tuition for grad school or assistance with major medical expenses. But, the lines between a loans, gifts and investments are always tricky when the funds are coming from the First National Bank of Mom & Dad.

Recently, several of our clients were interviewed about this topic in the national media. Here are excerpts of the advice they shared:

Blake Christian, CPA, a tax partner at HCVT, LLP in Park City, UT said intra-family gifts can be an excellent way for parents to test their kids’ financial capabilities before they give them larger sums to control.  Even better, Christian said the tax code has many family-friendly provisions. For example, interest-free loans can be made to a family member for the purchase of a personal residence for up to $106,000. Christian also said direct medical payments to doctors, hospitals and insurance companies are unlimited and not subject to gift taxes. Further, “below-market loans can be made to family members – or others provided the rates fall under the IRS’s ‘Applicable Federal Rates’ which are published monthly,” said Christian. For April, annual rates were 2.52 percent for “demand loans” (no specified due date) and loans up to three years and 2.89 percent for loans greater than seven years.

“These types of loans are an excellent way to shift economic benefit to other family members without triggering gift taxes,” added Christian.

Instead of just giving the money away no-strings-attached, Dr. Guy Baker, founder of Wealth Teams Alliance (Irvine, CA) said the family can give or sell assets to a special trust that is set up for the benefit of children. “The trust removes assets from the estate but allows the family members to access the funds for homes, investments and even living expenses,” explained Baker. “The family patriarch can sell assets income tax free or give assets to the trust. Once the trust owns the assets, the income can be distributed to beneficiaries in either cash as income or as loans,” Baker added.
Christian said that loaning funds to kids the right way can enable parents to invest directly in family businesses or family real estate projects while shifting future appreciation to the next generation and avoid triggering gift tax or incurring more future estate tax. For example, a wealthy client recently loaned his daughter $500,000 to invest in a brewery. This allows the daughter to assist with marketing, sit on the board and develop her business skills (and allows her father to oversee the investment).

“If a properly documented loan is made to a family member and the family members ends up not paying the funds back, the lender can claim a business (ordinary loss) or non-business (capital loss) when the loan goes bad,” explained Christian. “Collection efforts must be documented, and the IRS will take a hard look, but the lender will generally be allowed a deduction if their facts are right.”


Remind your clients that making gifts and loans to adult children is always a tricky dance. Just make sure the money transfer has grown-up terms and obligations built in. That way, if the gift, loan or investment goes bad from the Bank of Mom & Dad, it doesn’t disrupt family harmony for years to come.

Enjoy your Holiday weekend. Get some R&R and take a moment to thank those who serve our country.

# Guy Baker #Blake Christian #loans to adult children

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

HB Clients in the National (and International) Media

While our President may not have a high regard for the conventional media, high performing financial advisors are using it to their advantage. In fact, our annual survey of nearly 300 wealth advisors and CPAs revealed that being quoted in the press is one of the three most effective thought leadership tactics being used today.

Nearly half (46%) of respondents to our 2019 CPA/Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey said being quoted in the press was “Very” or “Extremely” effective for building thought leadership. What’s more, 48 percent of advisors who expected double-digit revenue growth in 2019 told us that media coverage was “Very” or “Extremely” effective for them. Only public speaking and writing articles for publication rated higher.

Top 3 Tactics for Building Thought Leadership
Firms Expecting
> 10% growth
Expecting single-digit growth
Expecting flat or declining growth

Public speaking and presentations

Writing articles for publication

Being quoted in the press

Source: CPA Trendlines, The Financial Awareness Foundation and HB Publishing & Marketing Company, LLC, 2019
Here are some of the latest wins for HB clients participating in our PR Light program:


You might also notice from the stats above that firms expecting to grow in 2019 were more likely than firms expecting a flat year to find value in media coverage. You can tweet, post and like till you’re blue in the face, but it’s hard to beat the impact of honest to goodness “earned media” coverage. Contact Us today if you’d like to learn more about our economical media placement service. Remember three of the most powerful words in the English language: “As seen in”!

# Guy Baker #Mark Rioboli #Matt Topley  #Press Coverage  #Thought Leadership

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Are Target Date Funds Missing the Mark?

In this age of Amazon and Uber convenience, it’s tempting for many investors to take the “set it and forget it route” when it comes to retirement planning or tuition financing. In fact, defined contribution money managers reported a large jump in target-date assets under management to $1.44 trillion as of Dec. 31, up nearly 31 percent from the end of 2016, according to Pensions & Investments' annual survey.
Whether you call them Target date funds (TDFs), life-cycle funds or age-based funds, the idea is simply to pick a fund that most closely matches your planned retirement date (say 2030), sock away as much as you possibly can while working and let the fund managers do the rest. Sounds nice in theory, but in reality it’s not so easy, as several of our clients have explained recently to the national media.

Dr. Guy Baker, founder of Wealth Teams Alliance (Irvine, CA) said TDFs have been especially impacted by low bond returns. Since the investor or manager has no ability to adjust the funds, a passive investor has been the victim of what is essentially an unmanaged market. “Over time,” said Baker, “the problem should sort itself out, but for older investors, investors counting on return to retire, the eventual recovery may be too late.”

James Nevers, CFP
an advisor with our client Soundmark Wealth Management (Kirkland, WA), said a TDF is a great option for most young investors whose savings are nearly entirely in their companies’ 401(k) or other retirement plan. “The issues arise when other assets are factored in due to the non-static nature of the target date funds. For instance, if an investor is trying to maintain a 70/30 stock/bond allocation and has assets in multiple accounts (other IRA’s, taxable brokerage accounts, Roth IRAs, etc.) then the ever-changing allocation in the target date fund is not going to make it easier to maintain their level of risk,” added Nevers. He said TDFs do not make it easy to adjust your level of risk as your unique situation changes. “As long as you are invested in the fund, you are subject to the fund managers discretion on the allocation,” explained Nevers.

Dr. Baker agreed: “TDFs are best utilized by rank and file investors who are unwilling to engage the services of a financial advisor. The TDFs provide a reasonable substitute. For investors who are willing to work with an advisor, it is likely the advisor will provide value over the returns achieved by a passive strategy like TDFs,” added Baker.


If you are going to use TDFs, Nevers said it is your responsibility “to keep an eye on the underlying allocation and ensure that the allocation is specifically what you are looking for.“ Baker said investors can duplicate a TDF fund with a calibrated assortment of equity and fixed. “The problem is percentage allocation. How much should go into which funds? When do you recalibrate? What methodology is used to make these decisions? How much risk are you willing to buy in your portfolio?” posited Baker. That’s where a good advisor comes in.

# Target date funds # James Nevers #Guy Baker #asset allocation  #risk tolerance

Sunday, April 14, 2019

HB clients rock the national media in April

Results of our annual CPA Wealth Advisor Confidence Survey™ showed that once again, public speaking, bylined articles and press coverage were the top three thought leadership tactics among high performing advisors. Firms expecting double digit growth in 2019 were significantly more likely to utilize these tactics, than firms expecting single-digit growth or declining growth.

Contact us
anytime if you would like a complimentary executive summary of the findings. Here are some recent wins for our clients:

Todd Flynn, (Soundmark Wealth Management) was quoted in US News & World Report about How to Protect and Grow College Investments.

·         Randy Hubschmidt (Fortis Wealth), Anthony Glomski (AG Asset Advisory) and Blake Christian and Alejandra Lopez (HCVT, LLP) were quoted numerous times in the Resources section of a new Northeast Corridor Opportunity Zone investing site.

·         Kyle Walters (L&H CPAs) is a regular guest columnist in Accounting Today. Here’s his latest Managing Your Gunpowder.

·         Blake Christian was published in Accounting Today about Opportunity Zone Investing.

·         Anthony Glomski published a series of articles about business exit planning in CPA Trendlines.


Calling yourself a thought leader is easy. But doing the mental heavy lifting to write, speak and interview with confidence and relevance takes some work. There are ways to make the process easier and actually enjoyable, but just like a diet or exercise routine you need to be willing to commit.

Contact us anytime if you’d like more information about our introductory PR Light program. Let’s have a great week.