By Staff | July 16, 2010 | Last updated on July 16, 2010
3 min read
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Financial planners in Hungary, Russia and, soon, Bulgaria, are now able to use Canadian-made planning software from PlanPlus. The expansion into Eastern Europe comes on the heels of tighter compliance standards in the region.

“We were able to translate the software and work with PlanPlus to ensure the asset allocation, taxes and other rules for Hungary were proper,” said Zoltan Luttenberger, president of the Hungarian Association of Qualified Financial Planners (HAQFP). “No other tool would have been this flexible, and few companies other than PlanPlus would have considered this effort for a small market like Hungary.”

Translating the software into Hungarian – a unique language unto itself – and Russian – which uses the Cyrillic alphabet – were among the obvious challenges to be overcome. But in Russia, training will be especially important.

“Russia is currently lagging countries like Hungary as we do not yet have a certification program,” said Natalia Smirnova, director of Personal Advisor ltd. and head of the Research & Education Centre at the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP) in Russia. “One other financial planner and I are currently qualified to teach financial planning and involved in the development and education of future planners through the Institute.”

PlanPlus president Shawn Brayman says that the software itself is just a small component of the initiative, with training and support being critical.

“It is exciting to be working with the financial planners that are passionate about creating a profession of financial planning in their countries,” he said. “PlanPlus hopes that by working with these pioneers in the early days we can help accelerate the process of making financial planning commercially viable and rewarding for consumers and planners alike.”

At this point, the software is being used for educational purposes only in Bulgaria, but it will be made available to practitioners there once a national Financial Planning certification system is put in place, according to Lubomir Christoff, chairman, Institute of Certified Financial Consultants (ICFC) Bulgaria.

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Brokerage statements fail to impress

Brokerage industry has a lot of catching up to do. A recent survey found the industry woefully out of step with consumer expectations with regards to the value of account statements.

In a startling result of the Dalbar’s 2010 Trends and Best Practices in Brokerage Statements study half of the 16 firms evaluated failed to achieve 50 out of a possible 100 points, with the industry average at 50.98 points, a decline of 13.28 points from the previous study conducted.

The need for improvement is clear, says Anita Lo, Dalbar’s vice-president of Canadian strategy. “It may be a daunting task, but firms need to keep up with the changing expectations of clients who deserve to have a clear and informative statement about their financial health.”

At a time when clients expect high levels of value, financial and brokerage statements from these companies failed to measure up, many have remained unchanged since 2005. This contrast in statement quality is especially apparent in comparison to other industry segments, such as the mutual fund industry, which has continually strived to provide innovation in its statements.

The study asked investors to prioritize statement features and found those of particular value included overall rate of return, summary of fees charged, sections that track investment goals and account growth, sections that summarize account details and asset allocation of accounts.

The top five ranked firms from this year’s study:

1. Edward Jones 2. ATB Securities 3. RBC Direct Investing 4. TD Private Investment Advice 5. Scotia iTrade

(07/16/10) staff


The staff of have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.