(September 4, 2003) Is there any better way to celebrate a fifth birthday than by hosting a symposium of 35 top financial services industry professionals to debate the issues facing their industry?

“We hosted a symposium, featuring some of the movers and shakers in the industry — some top advisors, some industry leaders — and put them together in one room to get them to debate the issues facing the industry,” says managing editor Deanne Gage. “I hope readers find this issue helps to raise the key issues that are facing the industry right now.”

One of the hottest topics of debate was over the meaning and relevance of advisor “independence.” This debate is covered in Jennifer McLaughlin’s article “Independence Daze.”

“Independence is almost used as a marketing tool on an advisor’s business card. But what does it mean?” asks Gage. “It means different things to different people and that was one of our strongest debates.”

She points out that to an advisor like panelist David Christianson, who doesn’t sell any products, independence means strictly planning, with revenues derived from fees rather than sales commissions. But most advisors are paid by commission and might think that they can represent the best interests of their clients just as well.

R elated Links

  • For more on these issues, check out Advisor.ca’s online package honouring Advisor’s Edge’s anniversary by clicking here.
  • Comment on these hot-button topics in the Talvest Town Hall. Click here to go directly to the special 5th Anniversary Symposium forum.
  • Another topic discussed is “Life After Funds.” After the collapse of interest rate yields in the 1980s, the mutual fund industry grew from around 900 funds to over 4,500 today. But can mutual funds maintain their dominant position?

    “Now you hear a lot about alternative investments like hedge funds, private equity products, managed accounts — that’s what Scot Blythe’s article is about,” says Gage.

    There’s also an article entitled “The Dark Side” on the changing role of insurance in the industry, written by Sheila Avari. The panel discussed the evolution of insurance from a form of protection into an investment in and of itself.

    Finally, the panel and audience discussed the future of the industry, asking “what will the advisor of 2010 look like?”

    “Certainly 10 years ago it was a more sales-oriented industry, where the big push was on selling products with less focus on acting in your clients’ best interest, although there were people that did that,” says Gage. “Now it’s becoming more professional, but it still has a way to go. We asked our panel and the audience to look into their crystal ball and give us some predictions about what we can expect from the advisor in the year 2010. In 2010, we can look back and see if these people were right or wrong.”

    Advisor’s Edge also invited columnists to look back at how the world has changed over the past five years. In the September issue, Thane Stenner looks at what HNW clients wanted in 1998 and what they want now. Pierre Saint-Laurent looks at investment trends, comparing the markets of today to the state they were in five years ago. And popular author Nick Murray makes a special appearance to discuss what advisors could learn from the past five years.

    In the magazine’s Front End Load section, there’s a look at the books that were popular in 1998 and the investment books that are popular today. Advisor’s Edge looks back at stories that were popular when the magazine first launched, such as the growth of the CFP designation. There’s also a profile of Walter Boyd, an advisor celebrating his fifth anniversary in the industry.

    Filed by Steven Lamb, Advisor.ca, slamb@advisor.ca