Kelley Mavros is a partner in Strategy&’s Digital Business & Technology practice with expertise in the financial services industry. Her work includes lean operating model, cost transformations, IT effectiveness and post-merger integration programs. The successes of today’s financial services firms require taking on a more strategic approach to costs. In this post, sponsored by Strategy&, Kelley Mavros talks about how companies can adopt a Fit for Growth approach to cut costs and grow stronger.

Question: What is the concept behind the “Fit for Growth” strategy and how can it help financial-services firms in particular?

Answer: The financial-services industry faces a unique set of challenges in the wake of the financial crisis. New regulations and capital adequacy requirements, changing client behavior, the rapid advance of digitization, and a fluid competitive landscape have permanently altered the rules of the game and raised the cost of doing business. In short, there’s a lot of pressure to remain profitable in an environment where a lot of obstacles stand in the way of doing so. (read more…)

When do you advise clients to start thinking about death planning? Have you broached this subject with your own loved ones? Not easy questions to process, are they?

As with many things, understanding the appropriate time to have these discussions with clients is both personal and widely varied depending on client preferences and generational differences. A recent Bloomberg article got me thinking about this topic specifically as it highlighted that many millennials aren’t currently purchasing life insurance, nor do they consider it a priority. Of course, this is partially due to younger generations marrying and starting families later in life; however, it also serves as a reminder of the role social media plays in helping financial professionals educate and advise certain consumer segments, particularly those who that may not be actively looking to make a purchase.

A new viewpoint for a new generation

What if firms viewed social media not as a chance to sell to younger prospects, but instead an opportunity to educate and build a relationship with them? (read more…)

Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, discussed Sec. 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, which deals with carbon emission reductions, at a webinar hosted by the American Sustainable Business Council on Sept. 4.

McCarthy said the rules proposed in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan are part of President Barack Obama’s climate action plan. “Climate change is a risk to health, business and economic growth,” she said, adding that small business owners overwhelming want action taken on the issue. And she’s proud of what the EPA is doing by developing standards to control air pollution, much of which comes from plants that generate power by coal, natural gas and petroleum.

McCarthy explained that the rule-making process took into account views from industry, unions, state officials and others. The EPA’s goal, in addition to cutting carbon emission was to make sure that the rules “can change climate economic risks into opportunities,” she said. (read more…)

Advisers need to proactively review clients’ annuities that are within individual retirement accounts to avoid “traps” by ensuring required minimum distributions are being taken properly, said Jeffrey Levine of Ed Slott and Co.

IRA or Roth rules trump annuity rules when an annuity is within an IRA, Levine explained Monday at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors’ Career Conference and Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Roth conversions and required minimum distributions, or RMDs, are based on an annuity’s fair market value, which is a complex, “don’t-try-this-at-home” calculation, but an adviser can ask the provider to perform it, Levine said. (read more…)