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Time to Change How the Game is Played?

Time to Change How the Game is Played?

The industry needs a few good men (and women).

Almost three quarters of broker/dealer and RIA firm executives feel there is an advisor talent shortage, according to a recent poll by Fidelity Investments. But they’re not changing how they recruit. About 61 percent say they’re still relying on traditional methods such as word of mouth and referrals. And yet only 30 percent of new hires actually come from referral networks, according to data collected in Fidelity’s Recruiting Redefined study. Fidelity’s David Canter says better recruiting strategies are centered around firms finding ways to differentiate themselves from competitors.

The Next Gen Mutual Fund

Shop 'til you drop. | johavel/iStock/Thinkstock

A new study by Hearts & Wallets suggests that people ages 21 to 39 view robo-advisor platforms such as Wealthfront and Betterment as both a product and “store” (retail financial provider), rather than a substitute for the flesh-and-blood advisor. In other words, they’re investment products sold through an engaging and user-friendly storefront, said Laura Varas, co-founder and partner at Hearts & Wallets. “The new entrants are a substitute for plain vanilla investment products,” Varas said. “They’re so much more exciting than a single asset class mutual fund or target-date funds structured around an event that younger investors don’t even think is going to happen.”

Despite Warnings, There is No Bubble in Farmland Prices

This is your land / This is my land ... | Copyright Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Dire warnings about rapidly escalating prices for farmland as late as 2013 suggested the asset was being driven up by speculators and in bubble territory. Even the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank president sounded the alarm, saying “well-informed, concerned” voices were suggesting dangerous asset inflation. After all, Marketwatch reports, the credit-fueled rise in land prices in the 1970s led to the farm crisis of 1980s. But this time, the air appears to be coming out in a more orderly manner. Prices for Iowa cropland quintupled between 1999 and 2013, buoyed by equally exuberant prices for crops. They declined 9 percent last year following a bumper crop of soybeans and corn, and will likely all further this year. But that’s volatility, not a collapse. “The fundamentals were good. Now they’re less good and the market is behaving accordingly,” Brent Gloy, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, told the site.

Flash a Smile

All smiles. | Copyright Cameron Spencer, Getty Images

You've likely been told that it takes more muscles to smile than it does to frown. So work those muscles, because a smile also means you're more trustworthy. According to research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, subtle changes in facial musculature can alter your trustworthiness. In one of the four experiments that the researchers conducted, subjects chose which computer-generated faces they would want as their financial advisor, and which they thought would win a weightlifting competition. Subjects consistently chose positive or happy-looking faces to be their hypothetical advisor. When it came to judging a subject's ability? That, the researchers found, has more to do with facial structure, and it's a lot harder to change that.

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