What’s your fiduciary responsibility?

September 26, 2013 by

The concept of fiduciary duty has received a lot of attention from financial publications, like Investment News, lately, due to the effort of the U.S. Department of Labor to set stricter standards on professionals providing advice on retirement plans.1

So it brings up a good question. What is the difference between fiduciary and suitability, and how do they affect you?

A fiduciary is a person or company that has the power and obligation to act for another under circumstances which require total trust, good faith, and honesty.2 FINRA suitability Rule 2111(a) states in part that a member or an associated person must have a reasonable basis to believe that a recommended transaction or investment strategy involving a security or securities is suitable for the customer, based on the information obtained through the reasonable diligence of the member or associated person to ascertain the customer’s investment profile.3

It’s a lot to understand, which is why you can download this informational graphic to see detailed differences between the two.

So why does this all matter?

Recently, it has been questioned whether there should be a separate fiduciary standard—implemented by the Labor Department—for financial professionals selling individual retirement accounts, as outlined in the Investment News article. And so what has commonly been a standard for those selling securities-related products is now under consideration for other financial and insurance professionals.

In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission is considering increasing the standards it imposes on broker dealers,4 which then might work its way to other areas of the financial services and insurance industries. This all comes under the guise of the 2010 Dodd- Frank Act Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, regulations developed after the economic collapse that began in 2008.

Unfortunately, there’s no crystal ball to say what, for sure, will be the fate for professionals working in insurance, retirement planning or financial planning. In an ideal world, the rules for financial professionals would be streamlined by the various regulatory bodies, and the expectations laid out in Dodd-Frank would be clearer.

In the meantime, go ahead and take a look at the infographic provided in this blog. And don’t be surprised if you see another blog post as the regulations change. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give me a call at 877.886.1939 or send me an email (


1 Investment News “Fiduciary duty boosts revenue, not compliance costs: FPC” July 8, 2013.



4 Investment News “White says SEC is moving on fiduciary but other rules to come first” July 30, 2013.




Kyle Pieper

Kyle Pieper is the Manager of Business Development for Brokers Financial. He joined the firm in March of 2013. Kyle is responsible for recruiting new advisors and representatives to the firm. He also assists with marketing and partner relationships. He has six years of insurance and investment-related experience as both an advisor and internal sales. When not at work he can be found on a golf course, hunting or in the gym. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Brokers International Financial Services, LLC, Member SIPC, Panora, IA. Brokers International Financial Services, LLC and Brokers International, Ltd are affiliated companies.

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5 social media post ideas — September

September 19, 2013 by

The social media post ideas series is intended to provide you with inspiration, so you can keep your social profiles (your blog, LinkedIn profile, company LinkedIn page, Facebook page, and Twitter feed) packed with content. You can always check out the previous social media post ideas on the blog.

This month’s focus is on the effectiveness of posts based on the length of the message. Level of engagement, the interactions your audience has with your content (likes, shares, comments, etc.), is typically found to be higher on shorter posts. For example, take a look at the level of engagement compared to post length on Facebook.1

If you think about it, shorter posts make sense because your audience only gives a few seconds to each post as they scroll through their newsfeeds. To make things shorter, you might have to get outside your comfort zone and try some new post techniques.

Ask for engagement on Facebook and LinkedIn: Encourage them to “like” a post for a specific reason.

On Twitter: Ask people to “Retweet.”

For blogs: Include a question at the end to get your audience to interact.

Now to the ideas—remember: Think short!

5 social media post ideas

1. Tips for staying motivated with budgeting: Some people find it difficult to stay on track. Provide a tip like one of the following to help keep your clients motivated:

    • Join a financial support group.
    • Reward yourself with a small indulgence when you meet/exceed your monthly goals.
    • Write out the dreams you’ll accomplish when you achieve larger goals.

2. Retirement dreams: Ask your audience what they dream of doing in their retirement. It’s a fun question, and people enjoy sharing their hopes for the future.

3. How much you could save if…: Everyone has a few budgeting weaknesses. Some people need an expensive cup of coffee every day. Some people need to buy lunch every day instead of bringing it. Help your audience of clients and prospects see the potential gains of skipping one of their pricey habits:

    • Week 1: Keep track of how much you could save by cutting out one of your budgeting weaknesses. You’d save $7 this week if you cut out two days of grabbing a cup of designer coffee. Watch the total add up each week in our coffee savings updates!
    • Week 4: Coffee savings update! If you’ve kept up with our goal to cut out one of your budgeting weaknesses, you could have saved $28 so far by cutting out two cups of designer coffee a week.
    • Week 52: Coffee savings update! You’ve made it a whole year, and you have $364 to show for it!

4. Promote community events: Stay active in your community, and show that you care by sharing events going on in your community. Plus, if you hold a financial event, you’re more likely to get support from the community if you’re already helping to spread the word about others’ events.

5. Gather some data: You might have some quick questions that you’d like to ask your audience to learn more about them. You can try the following example, or come up some that apply most to what you’d like to know:

    • “Like” this post if you don’t have a retirement strategy.


1 Track Social. “Optimizing Facebook Engagement – Part 3: The Effect Of Post Length.” Track Social Blog. Track Social, 25 Jun 2012. Web. 5 Sep 2013. <>.




Bring your brand elements together

September 12, 2013 by

Take three of your marketing materials and lay them on a table. Can you tell they are from the same brand?

If so, you’re doing well with blending your brand into your marketing and promotions.

If not, don’t worry: You’ve got an opportunity.

This installment of our branding series is about promoting your brand; specifically, how to weave your brand identity into your marketing materials and campaigns. Promoting your brand is the proverbial cherry on top of your branding strategy sundae. It’s your final step of execution. If you’ve missed the previous brand steps, click here to read them now.

If you’ve been with me for my previous posts, you’ve probably taken the time to develop your brand, and ascribe characteristics like color and logos. A successful brand—like Starbucks—puts it together all the time to create a coherent message. The idea is that each time you touch a customer, you reflect your brand.

My colleague Courtney Redfern wrote about this in her recent blog about consumer touchpoints. In it, she points out that your clients expect to receive a consistent experience from you and your business in every interaction.

Promoting your brand is the same concept.

Every marketing piece needs a consistent use of logos, colors, fonts and tone of voice. When it’s all tied together, it creates visual shorthand or instant recognition for your reader. For example, when you see a yellow M on a red background, you immediately know that it is McDonald’s. That’s because McDonald’s has been successful at creating a visual identity.

If you’re having a hard time using your brand elements consistently, develop guidelines using these tips. Brand guidelines outline how and where to use your colors, fonts, logos and other elements. Just like the saying goes with goals, amazing things happen when you put actual pen to paper, and write them out.

The goal is to stay on message. Create consistency and your brand will become more recognizable over time.




Rebecca Prescott

Rebecca Prescott joined Brokers International in March 2013 as a Marketing Project Manager. Before joining Brokers, she worked extensively on branding and product marketing. She also has a strong writing and graphic design background. Rebecca loves branding, grammar, swatchbooks, live music and her family and friends.

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Ready for your close up?

September 5, 2013 by

Kristi Piehl Media Minefield Founder and CEO

By Kristi Piehl
Founder/CEO Media Minefield, Inc.

“When can I be quoted in the Wall Street Journal?”

It’s a pretty typical question that we are asked at Media Minefield.

Before you determine that a framed Wall Street Journal article featuring a quote from you is the next “must have” for your office lobby, ask yourself: Why?

National financial publications certainly carry a significant amount of credibility. When a client walks into the office and sees a framed article with a quote from their financial professional, it is impressive. The majority of financial professionals I talk with are quite good at working with clients who visit their office. But they have a bigger problem getting new prospective clients to actually walk in their front door.

If your goal is to get your message in front of prospective clients, then it is important to spend your time, energy, and money focusing on the media they utilize. If they are like many people in or nearing retirement, then they likely are getting information from local news, and are connecting with friends and relatives on social media. Your message can be targeted to a local audience (by local I mean people who could get in the car and drive to your office) via local news and/or by targeted social media posts.

National news placements can sometimes do more harm than good. I recently heard a story from a financial professional who acquired a new client from a competitor, because the client felt the competitor only communicated to tell him about his next national news appearance. The client had the perception that the financial professional was spending too much time on national television and not enough time managing accounts. This is a problem. However, if you appear on local news talking about issues that are of concern to your target demographic, then you are positioning yourself as someone who cares enough about his or her clients to help them by utilizing media.

Don’t misunderstand. This blog does not discourage seeking national coverage. In fact, we frequently have clients quoted in national publications including Wall Street Journal.  However, if the purpose of engaging media is to attract new local clients, then any national media strategy should be paired with a sound local media strategy.

Think about your own news consumption habits. When you are watching or reading national news, do you think that the person being interviewed lives in your area? Probably not. However, if you see someone quoted in local news, you may be inclined to make an appointment or get more information from a website or social media.

Before you get ready for your close up, consider this: You might get more prospective clients through the doors of your office by meeting them first in their living rooms on the local news.