Clients and partners of Blueprint know how much we value communication and transparency. We are not shy about being transparent (some would say to a fault), from putting our exact investment rules on our website to explaining in detail how these rules work. One thing that we (and the world) are learning in 2020 is that despite how we miss interacting with our clients, friends, and partners in person, we can still add value and communicate effectively through a variety of other, tech-driven mediums. Case in point: as of December 2019, the number of free and paid Zoom meeting participants was 10 million; today, it's 300 million!
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When something happens that has never happened before, do we assert it was unpredictable? On Monday the front month contract for WTI crude oil went negative in price and traded there, as holders were attempting to get rid of the obligation to take delivery. How much can I pay you to take my oil? Amazing. Times like this challenge everything we think we know about the financial world and beg the question, ‘can anyone really predict the future value of any asset?’ What is the truth? I think the answer is up to the reader, but we believe that no one really can.
When I first joined the team here at Blueprint, there were several "Ah ha" moments that stood out. Coming in, I considered my role as National Sales Director to be leading the effort to broadcast the power of Blueprint’s sophisticated, yet simple story. As I reviewed our existing marketing materials, I noticed a chart comparing our Growth strategy (an 80/20 stock/bond model at its baseline) to a traditionally allocated Balanced portfolio.
A study published in October by Cerulli Associates, a Boston-based research and consulting firm, found that only 7% of financial advisory practices were suited to do their own research and portfolio construction/management. Yet, according to the same study, 62% of advisors are in fact performing these functions on behalf of their clients. We do not necessarily agree with the assertion and prefer to frame this conversation in the context of fiduciary responsibility and best practice.
The Impact on Advisors (Does Free = Free?)
A frequent topic in our writing is the changing landscape for advisors and investors in terms of the cost of doing business and the impact of technology. With so much rapid change taking place in the industry, there has not been a shortage of material. In fact, it was only a few years ago that things like trading commissions were a major consideration when developing investment strategies. What are now mainstream approaches, like passive investing, robo-advising, and low to no commissions, were once either obscure or did not exist. We are now simultaneously experiencing peak passive and a new low in the race to the bottom on fees.