Overhauling the US government's tax laws has been a priority for the Republican Party for years, but despite GOP control of the White House, the Senate and the House, not much progress has been made. The House is still debating a border tax, and some Republican senators are working on proposals to rewrite the tax code.
While the Labor Department's fiduciary rule is in the spotlight nationally, adoption of a fiduciary standard for financial professionals is being embraced at the state level. Nevada has passed a law strengthening its fiduciary standard, while other states, including California and New York, are considering laws to establish a fiduciary standard.
Millennials are driving a trend toward socially responsible investment from robo-advisors. "There is a fair amount of evidence from investor surveys that millennials and women are especially interested in sustainable and impact investing," said Jon Hale of Morningstar, adding that millennials are robo-advisors' target market.
Email has become a popular tool of cybercriminals, particularly those targeting financial professionals such as advisors and agents working with annuities and life insurance. John Harris, chief technology officer of SIGNiX, offers six tips to help combat email security threats.
AdvisorBid, a free online marketplace for financial advisors, has already been described by some users as "the Facebook of wealth management." Launched two years ago, the platform has 1,300 active advisors from 90 companies who use it for things such as finding job opportunities or developing a succession plan.
The proprietors of Girls Who Invest, a nonprofit that aims to encourage women to work in the asset management industry, say they have been surprised by the enthusiastic response to their program. With minimal marketing this year, the group has received more than 1,500 applications to take one of its courses and, as a result, is now seeking ways to expand its offering.
United Technologies offers a wide range of flexible retirement options to its employees. For instance, its Lifetime Income Strategy transitions from a traditional investment portfolio to a strategy that utilizes annuities when the employee turns 48.
The US Treasury Department has recommended that Congress convert the Office of Financial Research from an independent agency to an entity under direct control of the treasury secretary. Richard Berner, the office's director, called that a bad idea, saying Congress made the office independent to guarantee objective advice.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he thinks Congress, not the Fed, should handle funding of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and that it may eventually be rolled in under another agency. "Right now, it needs proper oversight and it needs to be an independent regulator like other independent regulators; the budget's gone way out of control, the bureaucracy has gotten out of control, and this is something that we are going to have to work with Congress on."
Two factors will combine to transform the way advisory firms work with clients, according to a report from The Boston Consulting Group. Technically savvy and more sophisticated clients will demand that financial professionals "match their 24/7 online lifestyle," while technology and interactive devices will make giving clients the kind of service they want possible, the report says.
Millennials place a high value on financial security and are willing to make sacrifices to achieve it, a survey from Voya Financial found. Among millennials responding, 56% said they would save to achieve financial security rather than spend the money on vacations, cars and smartphones.