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Summer Reading

Money Without Matrimony: The Unmarried Couple's Guide to Financial Security Sheryl Garrett and Debra NeimanDearborn Trade Publishing ($21.95)288 pages In the United States, there are 5.5 million cohabitating, unmarried couples that's 11 million people, or more than 5 percent of the country's population and their ranks continue to swell. It's no secret that most of these people are living different

Money Without Matrimony: The Unmarried Couple's Guide to Financial Security

Sheryl Garrett and Debra Neiman
Dearborn Trade Publishing ($21.95)
288 pages

In the United States, there are 5.5 million cohabitating, unmarried couples — that's 11 million people, or more than 5 percent of the country's population — and their ranks continue to swell.

It's no secret that most of these people are living different financial lives than those of married couples. For every positive associated with “living together” — such as avoiding the so-called marriage tax — there are several minuses. Primary among them are access to health care and retirement benefits.

Garrett and Neiman, longtime financial planners, look at the challenges facing nonmarried couples and give advisors — and their clients — a guide to maximizing benefits for these nontraditional couples. The book is service-oriented, with checklists at the end of each chapter, detailing how to deal with issues like insurance, retirement planning, estate planning and trusts for children. The book is easy to read, well laid out and has its heart in the right place. With an increasing number of Americans finding that marriage isn't — or can't be — for them, it's a book pitched at any advisor who knows that the bonds of wedded bliss aren't the only way that a couple can be attached for life.

Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West

James P. Owen
Stoecklein Publishing ($25)
98 pages

Owen is the owner/partner of Austin Capital Management in Austin, Texas, and lives in Santa Barbara, Calif. The traditionally liberal enclaves of Austin and Santa Barbara might not seem like the ideal places for a cowboy Wall Streeter to ply his trade, but Owen is referring more to the cowboys of the movies — specifically Kevin Costner in Open Range — and explaining how the scandal-plagued securities industry can learn from the code of the West.

Aided by some beautiful photography from Idaho cowboy David Stoecklein, Owen dives into the Code of the West — the 10 principles he says cowboys live by and that Wall Street and the brokerage industry should take to heart as well.

Unfortunately, the codes tend to be heavy on the sap and light on the real-world advice: “Live Each Day With Courage.” “Ride for the Brand.” “Talk Less and Say More.” “Be Tough, But Fair.” The codes sound more at home in a Hallmark store than on the range. Owen also has a tough time explaining how the codes apply to the securities industry — a problem since this undermines the basic premise of the book.

“The classic Western hero is the man who stands up for what is right — who rectifies injustice whenever he sees it and exacts retribution when it's done,” might sound nice, but it's not hard to imagine an advisor sitting at his workstation and scratching his head while wondering what exactly that calls for in a regular workday.

The photography, however, is worth the price of admission — even if the book occasionally looks like a cigarette ad.

In the end, this coffee table book about Wall Street cowboys is an uncomfortable fit.

Tested in the Trenches: A 9-Step Plan for Building and Sustaining a Million-Dollar Financial Services Practice

Ron Carson and Steve Sanduski
Dearborn Trade Publishing ($35)
288 pages

Carson, a $5 million-plus producer and president of the Carson Wealth Management Group in Omaha, Neb., is a charitable sort (when it comes to his business focus, anyway), and his book is an attempt to explain to reps how they can be as successful as he is.

Carson, along with his co-writer Steve Sanduski (an advisor coach at Peak Productions), outlines a plan that he has refined over 20 years in the business. The key, he writes, is striking a balance between your professional life and your personal life; an unhappy rep will not be productive, no matter how much time he spends in (or away from) the office.

He orchestrates the plan with three major principles: “Burning Desire,” which attempts to quantify motivation; “Love-Affair Marketing,” which is a look at the vital nature of referrals; and “Systemization,” which basically addresses the need to stay organized. Carson is clearly a smart man and a successful producer, and he and Sanduski succeed in mapping out a systematic program (complete with high school textbook-like worksheets) for a rep to build his business in a way that has proven to work — for Carson, anyway.

Practice Makes Perfect: The Discipline of Business Management for Financial Advisors

Mark C. Tibergien and Rebecca Pomering
Bloomberg Press ($65)
256 pages

Most advisors have to wear at least two hats in their practices — one for managing clients' portfolios and one for managing their office operations.

This book, written by a pair of executives at Seattle-based Moss Adams, posits that the second hat sits on the rack far too long for most advisors.

The key to managing office operations effectively, the authors write, involve setting up your practice correctly from the beginning and then making necessary adjustments as time goes along. The authors delve into staffing issues, client management, marketing campaigns and even address softer issues, such as how to make sure everyone in the office feels valuable and wanted.

Most interestingly, the book discusses the importance of brand identity. One of the most important steps to running an office smoothly is making sure everyone — clients, advisors, even competitors — understands the nature of the firm's business and reputation. Such an understanding can then be used to guide how the office is managed.

Of course, there's more to effective office management than branding. But the book's point is that a single, well-communicated message can go a long way to helping organize an office.

Get More Referrals Now! The Four Cornerstones That Turn Business Relationships Into Gold

Bill Cates
McGraw-Hill ($14.95)
224 pages

In a world of holistic wealth management and at a time when advisors are so scared by scandal that they're almost afraid to admit they get paid at all, it's almost refreshing to see a book released that's 100 percent about salesmanship.

The notion behind this quickie, easy-to-understand book: You have to put yourself in a position to meet wealthy clients and get them to talk about you. Drop by country clubs. Hang out in expensive restaurants. Get yourself invited to parties held by your wealthy clients. And every time you get a referral, the book says, make sure to thank the person who did the referring. And then ask if they'll do it again.

All told, the book says nothing that experienced advisors don't already know. But then it's probably not aimed at them anyway.

On the cover, the book advertises that it will help advisors “eliminate cold calling forever!” Never mind that many of the most successful brokers in the industry say they still cold call every week.

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