The industry has been in a tizzy since the Department of Labor released its final rule last week mandating advisors act in the client’s best interest inside of retirement accounts. But the rule does little in the way of defining “best interest.” But researchers at Texas Tech University plan to do just that. The “Best Interest Initiative,” as it’s called, is lead by personal financial planning professor John Gilliam, who will study what best interest means and how advisors can practice under these rules. The research will also be used to come up with best practices for the industry. “No one has defined best interest,” Gilliam said. “The Department of Labor rule uses the term but doesn’t specify what the term means.”
Sounds like something only a conspiracy theorist would say. But what if it’s coming from the mouth of Bradley Birkenfeld, the former UBS banker who blew the whistle on the massive amounts of tax evasion by Americans with secret accounts on Switzerland? Birkenfeld told CNBC that he believes the U.S. intelligence agency is behind the leak of the 11 million documents because much of the political uproar it has caused has been in countries with tense relationships with the U.S. “The very fact that we see all these names surface that are the direct quote-unquote enemies of the United States—Russia, China, Pakistan, Argentina—and we don’t see one U.S. name. Why is that?” Birkenfeld said. “Quite frankly, my feeling is that this is certainly an intelligence agency operation.” He added that the damage being done to the reputation of British Prime Minister David Cameron could be considered no more than “collateral damage.” “If you’ve got NSA and CIA spying on foreign governments, they can certainly get into a law firm like this,” Birkenfeld said. “But they selectively bring the information to the public domain that doesn’t hurt the U.S. in any shape or form. That’s wrong. And there’s something seriously sinister here behind this.”
Envestnet Institute On Campus, Envestnet’s digital education portal, has created a new Women in Wealth Management program, aimed to attract college-aged females to the industry to boost gender diversity. The program will be headed by Fiserv’s President of Investment Services Cheryl Nash, who has been named to the Envestnet Institute’s advisory board, according to Finextra. The program will provide live streaming webinars and other learning modules for women seeking career guidance. The program is being developed for the fall semester and is expected to be available at more than 20 universities come September. “We can build a strong talent pipeline by giving young women access to more knowledge and to mentors who can help them launch careers in the industry,” Nash said. “I plan to bring other women leaders with varying backgrounds into this initiative to enhance the curriculum with real-life success stories, and further enrich the experience for students.”
Orion Advisor Services announced its latest integration on Tuesday, this time with FactSet, a financial data and analytics provider. Advisors can now import portfolios and models from Orion’s portfolio accounting software into FactSet to run performance attribution and analyze portfolio exposures on multi-asset-class portfolios. As with similar integrations, advisors can now just use FactSet to access portfolios, research and markets analysis rather than switching between multiple platforms.