Those financialalert spoke to nominated a variety of issues for our annual "the good, the bad and the ugly" roundup - and for what advisers should be doing over the break to prepare for 2014.

It is that time of the year where practitioners think in detail about the year ahead - most are hoping for that big "break through" year. You just need to focus on the right TASKS.

Come Christmas, there will no longer be any annuity product providers in New Zealand. Fidelity is pulling out, citing lack of demand. But a new player is hoping to set up in 2014.

The Santa myth can teach financial advisers a lot about the three levels of trust in the adviser-client relationship.

There has been much talk about bubbles in recent months. But to work out whether an asset class is in a bubble, you first need to identify the talk you should ignore.

Across the ditch, Australia's Productivity Commission has recommended a jump in the entitlement age for superannuation to 70. We spoke to Kiwi academics and financial advisers about the likely future of NZ Super.

The export of inflation by the US can do far more damage to China's effort to become a self-sufficient superpower than almost anything else the US could have thought of.

Most advisers routinely cross paths with attractive prospects in day-to-day life. The challenge is to raise the possibility of working together without becoming known as someone who is always pitching.

Five years on from the GFC, we are witnessing in many countries a slow-motion replay of the last housing-market train wreck.

We are introducing three new investment scenarios for 2014 - our base case, Low for Longer; our bull case Growth Breakout, and our bear scenario, Imbalances Tip Over.

Today's long period of very easy money and very low yields has distorted the financial system. This will cause unintended consequences in the near future as QE ends.

Why bother to get your CFP designation when AFA is the regulator's standard? Simple - 68% of CFP professionals generate higher revenues than those without certification.

Is the simplest smart beta approach just repackaging old investment ideas in higher fee structures?

For some clients, even achieving their goals is unsatisfying. Research suggests that financial planners could go a long way in helping clients to really derive more happiness from their money.

We have not achieved visibility in professional standards - we have achieved obscurity. That must change if we are to achieve public confidence as a profession.

The Academy Spring Seminar 2013 featured four sessions: Mock FOMC meeting; The state of economics/investing and of long-term expectations; A global perspective to bottom-up fundamental research, an Insurance sector case study; and, Investing in property.

Even our positive expectations of the much anticipated Third Plenary session of the Communist Party of China were exceeded.

Most target-date funds have two shortcomings that can be improved.

If I only had a dollar for every time I've read the US is safe from recession as "the yield curve is positively sloped."

Predictability of asset returns is one of the most important issues in finance. This year's Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences was shared by three pioneers in the field.

Conference 2013 facilitated debate on the markets, strategies and investing with particular focus on how to better construct portfolios for the whole of an investor's life so that they are more likely to achieve their goals.

So you've read FMA's DIMS guidance note and decided it is all too hard? Hopefully not - non-corporate AFAs shouldn't be overwhelmed - and retaining DIMS may be good for business.

Failing to find outperformance amongst active managers may be more a problem of measurement than a failure of active management.

Advanced-country central banks are putting on the line their independence and credibility.

We've seen this movie before.Bubbles happen regularly - but why are we seeing so many bubbles now?

This article contends that some arguments used to validate alternative indexing can be easily proven false.

The Code Committee is currently reviewing final submissions on proposed changes to the Code of Professional Conduct for Authorised Financial Advisers. Structured Continuing Professional Development is shaping up as the hot potato, with the way in which advisers are accredited CPD hours set to change significantly.

As one of the winners of this year's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, I'm acutely aware of criticism of the prize by those who claim that economics is not a science.

The Australian equity market has lagged far behind the US this year. But the S&P/ASX200 is actually ahead since the GFC market lows.

Recently, I spent time reflecting carefully on how regulatory reform has worked thus far in New Zealand, and where things might head next.

The collapse from 2007 to 2009 of equity, credit, and housing bubbles led to severe financial crises and economic damage. Are we at risk of another financial boom and bust?

The term "smart beta" is comparatively new but the idea of using alternative methods to construct investable indices has been around a long time. Does it actually work?

One Fed exit has become clear. Chairman Ben Bernanke will hand over to Janet Yellen. The second - exiting an era of ultra-loose monetary policies - is fiendishly difficult.

These three insights will help cut through all the noise about the US debt ceiling debacle so you can understand whether it's something worth worrying about.

It is five years after the Financial Advisers Act (2008) was passed and two years since regulation came into force. A new survey reveals that adviser regulation has yet to deliver on its purpose.

For what types of funds are performance fees warranted, and what is a reasonable performance fee structure?

The US debt ceiling debacle sent a clear message to China. The US may have to pay a much steeper price for capital.

In this second of our two-part feature on ageing and how advisers need to adapt for this growing client base, we take a closer look at the personal and demographic effects.

Gold's disappointing performance has been a topic of discussion at GaveKal. Most of us come down on the side of one of four possible explanations.

With 80% of financial planning recommendations not leading to action, we need a fundamental reappraisal of how to create plans that translate into action.

Central banks are likely to dominate investment news for years to come. Most of it will be noise. However, some of it will be critically important.

This article, and DFA's silence, prompted a storm of response - and contributes to understanding the "science" of portfolio construction.

By 2031, 32% of the population will be 55 or over. Last month's second annual Finology Conference showed advisers just how complicated the ageing process is and how to adapt their service for this growing client base.

There are many benefits to having a clearly articulated financial planning philosophy for your firm including helping ensure clients will be a good match.

The new wave of jargon around financial planning should be a concern to us all. There is a very real risk that we will begin to lose sight of the good we do.

Significant demographic change is happening. To prepare the retirement readiness, the financial services industry needs to provide better advice and products.

The US debt debate cannot be blindly dismissed as a short-term issue. It will be navigated, but with no real solution - the ingredients are being put in place for higher bond yields.

Conventional wisdom is that retirees should reduce their equity exposure in retirement as their time horizon shortens - in reality, the ideal may actually be the exact opposite.

I'd bet these three ideas hold more valuable and implementable portfolio construction information than any short-term economic, political and market machinations.

Even the new LVR ratio restrictions introduced this week are successful, will it have other side effects that are good or bad? I am worried for three reasons.

A simple answer you might think. But, when we posed this question to the expert panel at the recent Finology Conference, it quickly became evident that they would struggle with who to recommend.

The history of good sovereigns defaulting is a rich one, going back to the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. What could replace US Treasuries as the risk free asset?

A myriad of firms, institutions and individuals took part in the recent Money Week 2013. We talked with some of those involved to see where Kiwis are at in terms of financial literacy, money management and seeking financial advice.

Deleveraging will leave a lasting impact - and meeting the challenges it presents investors will be critical to everyone operating in the new financial landscape.

"Forward PEs look attractive" is often offered as an astute observation. It's almost a truism. But does using forward PEs to assess market valuations work?

Financial planning's "third wave" may well be a four-factor service model that places much greater emphasis on helping clients maximise their human capital, not just their financial capital.

So it was all a storm in a teacup. Markets have been going through a series of "taper tantrums” since Bernanke first mentioned the idea of tapering.

With the deadline passed for submissions on the proposed changes to the Code of Professional Conduct for AFAs, we asked the Code Committee Chair and some of those who made submissions, what their view is of the proposed changes.

Rather than being an alternative, social media is just another way to do networking and referral marketing. If you're struggling to dip your toe in social media, here's how to get started.

As a NZ delegate at the recent PortfolioConstruction Forum Conference in Sydney, here are the key pointsfor NZ advisers to take on board from this year's Lifecycle Investing theme - which should raise the priority of financial advice in clients' minds.

As people get older and live longer, mature and elderly clients are starting to make up a larger part of advisers' client bases - and they bring a lot more issues than just their finances.

Of all the challenges for financial advisers, one of the most daunting is persuading clients to discuss their finances with family members.

The Fed will have to think of a new strategy to reopen the availability of credit - and that is a problem. At present, all routes of Bernanke's QE maze lead to the same exit - deflation.

The World Economic Forum released its Global Competitiveness Index last week - and NZ is up five places to 18th most competitive economy in the world, three places ahead of Australia.

Back in February, we published an expose on links between Phoenix Forex, OakFX, World Investor New Zealand magazine and various others. Over seven months later, the Financial Markets Authority has warned the public.

I’ve discovered scientific evidence of the value that good advice creates! The impact of good advice has been quantified in a 83-page study, with surprising findings.

In theory, investment advisory businesses should be booming but the reality is many are just limping along. Where is the disconnect and what needs to change?

The view is that advent of Big Data is a transformative event. But there are two arguments against the importance of Big Data to the economy and advancement of social welfare.

Now you should be long housing - but it is exposed to some regulatory risks and headwinds we should understand.

In a report that will no doubt be read closely by the Financial Markets Authority - and therefore should get the attention of New Zealand advisers - the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has made 12 recommendations for financial advisers.

As of 1 July, anyone who has permanently immigrated between Australia and New Zealand can transfer their retirement savings to their new homeland. But it's not a simple like-for-like swap and it's already had its problems.

For the past nine months, China has had a very new type of leader.

Investing during bear markets is like dynamite fishing. We're starting to see fairly large fish float to the surface.

Contrarian investment ideas are hard to find. After a 20-year bear market and with the Nikkei still 60% below its 1989 high, Japanese equities are an attractive contrarian investment.

The DIPPIE population is sizeable, growing, and affluent - and, they have a number of pressing needs including finding a financial adviser they can trust...

This paper examines the empirical relation between risk and return in emerging equity markets and finds that this relation is flat, or even negative.

Looking beyond the immediate risk of Fonterra's product safety issues, over the medium-term, we continue to see sufficient global and domestic economic momentum to support higher bond yields.

In this bigger picture stuff, I think you'll find some valuable seeds to help you think about - and change or reconfirm - your practice's current approach to investment.

There are valuable lessons in this paper by an adviser who embraced the lifecycle investing approach.

Australia faces big economic challenges - meaning superannuation will inevitably feel pressure for reform which will encompass four key changes.

Frequently adjusting portfolios is counterproductive even if costs are cheap, according to a new study.

Two years since inception, the FMA's CEO will leave after he finishes his minimum contract period in October. We asked industry bodies, advisers and the FMA for their views on how the regulator has done its job over the period.

Regulatory reform of financial advisers is still taking shape around the world. As advisers, we remain (just!) in the time of creation and opportunity – but there is no time to waste.

Increasing FUM brings the risk of detrimental effects on performance, some obvious, others less so.

Defining failure of a retirement investment strategy as the chance of running out of money in retirement leads us to try to minimise this risk. Is it the right approach?

The younger generation of clients who are now in their 30s and 40s has a very different financial outlook than their Baby Boomer parents. Advisers need to retool their client service and advice models to appeal.

Lifecycle investing considers the whole of a person's life to ensure acceptable standards of living are achieved consistently. It differs from more traditional approaches to financial planning in a number of important ways.

Are investors better off taking higher dividend yields offered on stocks than investing in a new breed ASX-listed hybrid?

According to a recent survey, 37% of retirees cannot tolerate any portfolio losses in any one year. Even conservative portfolios would have failed that test over the past 25 years.

Finding the right person to join your financial advisory business can be tough. financialalert spoke with various sized advisory firms about their approach to taking on new advisers.

It's not enough to say the right things or have the right credentials. Advisers have to be able to translate what they do for clients from the abstract to the concrete, to set themselves apart.

If "The Power of Zero" were a movie, we've just watched the end. The great rotation out of bonds has begun and the beneficiaries will be cash, property, and equities.

One of the few studies on sequencing risk that is based on Australian data, it finds that the widely accepted retirement risk zone rule of thumb is quite wrong for local conditions.

While it is hard to quantify the benefits of investment risk management, it should not be discounted. Risk management is far more than just reporting volatility.

Is it more important for a fund manager to have strong investment team stability, or to have some turnover of investment team staff to allow for new ideas?

Many objectives-based investors have tilted their portfolios to high-yield Australian stocks, to achieve income and growth. But there are inherent problems with this.

Napoleon famously wanted his generals to be lucky. But in funds management, skill is more dependable. Batting average gives some good insights.

Maybe the huge list of problems equity markets must work through is the usual wall of worry - but a simpler explanation would be a rising tide of bad omens.

This paper is a valuable addition to research on safe withdrawal rates for retirement portfolios, finding the 4% safe withdrawal rate may not be so safe in today's conditions.

We're not experiencing, as everybody thinks, a near-bursting bubble environment in bonds - and nor will the Fed trigger an uncontrollable rise in inflation when it ends its QE.

The findings of this paper suggest that legislated minimum pension withdrawal rates may be too high and lead retirees to run out of money sooner than planned.

By 2031, the number of Kiwis aged 55-plus will grow to around 32% of the total population. Advisers need to develop different skills needed to really understand and help clients as they approach and enter retirement.

A Floor/Upside strategy should form the foundation of an investor's approach to retirement - and the good news is, many advisers already use a variation without realising it.

Growth indicators improved in June, despite equity markets being rattled. In the absence of an inflationary shock, we think equity markets will trend higher.

The EU faces another stomach-churching Summer and Autumn, while the Euro correction has started. At least Australian velocity of money is painting a pretty positive picture.

This week, the FMA announced that three advisers are being brought before the Financial Advisers Disciplinary Committee (FADC). We asked what happens with disputes and what PI cover is appropriate.

It is one of those ideas that come up again and again without ever being properly scrutinised – that a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) like Norway's is a fantastic idea that deserves to be copied elsewhere, even in New Zealand...

Consumers have a minimum level of expectation of a profession - requiring fundamental shifts in the ethical, educational and protection of public interest standards of some representative financial adviser organisations.

Symposium facilitated debate on the three pillars of portfolio construction – markets, strategies and investing - to help delegates build better quality portfolios. This CPD Quiz is for delegates to complete, to receive Structured CPD Hours.

From today, advisers must comply with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act of 2009. We spoke to the regulators and advisers about what that really entails.

Cyberspace is the new frontier and just like the old Wild West, bullets (albeit electronic ones) are flying. It is a big learning curve for investors.

The challenge for most advisers is that they've built practices as generalists and aren't sure how to make the transition to become specialists. There are three basic steps.

The Academy Winter Seminar 2013 features four sessions: Get micro about the macro - looking at big risks through the microscope; The Equity Risk Premium; A focus on Australian equities strategies in an objectives-based investing world; and, Equities and Inflation.

The Academy Autumn Seminar 2013 featured five sessions: Market risk; Is Chinese growth a ponzi scheme?; Risk profiling; The approach to risk profiling for retirees; and Using risk factors to evaluate investments and build portfolios.

The Academy Summer Seminar 2013 featured three sessions: Making sense of the noise; Making sense of macroeconomic data; and, measurement and mis-measurement of risk.

In 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected President of South Africa. His capacity for forgiveness and sense of humility is a shining example for all humanity.

Churning of KiwiSaver accounts has many financial advisers up in arms over alleged unethical and potentially illegal tactics by large financial institutions.

After years of talking with clients coming to his firm from other advisers, one adviser compiled a list of reasons they left. I suspect these practices are widespread.

This recent research paper challenges the usual risk parity approach to asset allocation.

We asked delegates from the recent PortfolioConstruction Forum Symposium 2013 in Auckland for their key takeouts from the jam-packed, two-day program.

New research suggests that advisers should stop telling Gen X and Gen Y clients to save more now and, instead, simply help them to save more tomorrow.

Investment is often compromised by the quest for easy answers to difficult and involved issues. Risk is one.

When the GFC started, governments increased spending and hoped for multiplier effects. Six years on, it appears the critics have been right all along.

Increasingly, financial advisers operating in the investment space are reassessing their fee structures. Strategi has identified some remuneration trends.

Everyone knows what alpha is - right? Yet even experienced practitioners fall into the trap of talking about alpha as being purely outperformance.

The reaction of bond and equity markets in May highlights the almost impossible balancing act faced by the US Fed now the amount of monetary stimulus is so extreme.

As the US economy continues to recover from the GFC, the US Fed faces an almost impossible balancing act. Closer to home, the RBNZ faces an almost impossible balancing act of its own.

This paper may provide the missing theoretical basis to why risk parity works - a key step forward to it being accepted as a valid approach to asset allocation.

This is one of those times when investors should not expect to complacently buy what has worked well recently and achieve good returns.

A superb snapshot of the NZ advice industry has been provided by The Skills Organisation (formerly ETITO), that confirms some widely held views - and should change some of our other perceptions of the industry at large.

Symposium facilitates debate on the three pillars of portfolio construction – markets, strategies and investing. Established in 2011, it is THE New Zealand investment conference of the year.

The Institute of Financial Advisers presented its highest honour, the Outstanding Contribution to the Profession Award, at its annual conference last week.

Last week I spoke to an adviser about how he turns one of his favourite recreational activity into new clients. It's simple and has paid big dividends.

Recent research shows that bucket strategies can result in less optimal retirement outcomes. So rather than invest that way, why don't we just report that way?

A new research paper finds that there is very little difference between the cost of a FoHF and investing directly.

Clients who buy insurance accept they may never see any benefit. Annuities offer more value per dollar spent than common general insurance products.

Nearly six years after KiwiSaver launched, there are now more than 2.1 million people contributing with $14.5 billion in the scheme. But many advisers are shunning KiwiSaver-only clients as large institutional advisers reel them in.

Investors became more risk-on early in 2013 and ASEAN equity markets were among the biggest beneficiaries.
However, some headwinds have appeared in the form of heightened political risk and pockets of overheating.

Most people don't understand money - they understand what it does for them. Once you realise this, it is much easier to build a relationship with clients in a productive, less stressful and more holistic way.

PortfolioConstruction Forum's publisher sat down for an exclusive one-on-one with PIMCO CEO and co-CIO, Mohamed El-Erian to what he calls a "fluid, unpredictable and artificial world".

The essence of lifecycle theory is that portfolio outcomes should contribute to the attainment of an individual's goals and desires in life.

Australia is looking at enshrining the term "financial planner/adviser" into law. New Zealand is already a step ahead. We look at the titles advisers are using, what the law allows, and what advisers may call themselves in the future.

Make sure you think about how choices are delivered to your clients - choice architecture can help nudge them in the right direction.

Global growth cannot tell you the best countries to invest in - but if 2011-2020 continues broadly as assumed, ERP is unlikely to stay at its current high.

The vexed issue of replacement business is bubbling up again. An adviser's obligations under the Code essentially pitches adviser against product supplier.

Whenever clients are thinking about putting money that would have been invested into paying back their mortgage, they may be disadvantaging themselves.

Gold has traditionally been seen as a safe haven to provide insurance to portfolios - but on 11 April its price began to free fall. Why? And does gold have a place in portfolios?

Are low volatility equity funds something investors should be including in their portfolios? There are a range of issues to consider.

The Australian economy is affected only tangentially by fiscal problems elsewhere, but there are strong effects on markets. Currency is the lynchpin.

If Africa could behave more together economically, by 2050, BRICs would become BRICA. Plus, the $A is more and more on my radar,

Should you have a minimum asset threshold for new clients? Should there be other factors that you look at beyond just assets? How do you communicate your criteria to prospective clients?

It is unfortunate that most people spend much more time considering investment risk than mortality risk.

China is in the throes of a classic credit bubble, showing all three key signs of any classic bubble. This is a big theme for markets.

What Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda announced last week was quite dramatic. It is the first time I can remember Japanese policymakers truly and positively surprising markets.

With interest rates at historic lows, and likelyrate rises ahead, what are the implications for building the fixed income part of portfolios?

A sizeable number of the Disclosure Statements we've reviewed are unnecessarily complicated and are turning a straight forward process into a nightmare.

There are any number of ways to approach and discuss the issue of valuing financial advice. Perhaps, though, it is time to consider it from a slightly different perspective. Could it be that financial advice is worthless because of the client?

It's time we financial planners stopped viewing clients who don't implement as "bad clients" and instead develop the skills to motivate them to do it.

With 440,000 pre-registered to buy Mighty River Power, we asked some advisers about their view on the role of direct equities in investor's portfolios.

Exchange rate adjustments are likely to help the global recovery but the situation bears monitoring.

With cash no longer providing the same high returns and income required for investors approaching or already in retirement, Global Investments Forum 2013 brought together selected senior investment professionals spanning the major sectors, strategies and regions of the world.

What we really need from the coming review is policy that addresses retirement income for young New Zealanders.

This CPD Quiz is only open to those who attended Global Investments Forum 2013. Each question is compulsory and must be completed to receive your CPD accreditation.

How can a $22bn economy be the dominant global topic of conversation? Cyprus is the epicentre of strategic issues.

EU ministers understand the law but they totally miss the behavioural economic consequences of their actions.

Is the bull market over for gold? I doubt it. The next phase could be quite explosive, particularly for the gold mining stocks.

Signs of a cyclical re-acceleration are emerging, but the upswing in China's economy is not firing on all cylinders.

On a 1-10 scale for irrationality, US credit and high yield bond prices are probably a 6 and moving up.

The talked-of Bank could have important implications for how economics and finance is changing.

Price is an issue only in the absence of value. Advisers who want to ensure future success need to adopt the credo: "Value isn't everything, it's the only thing".

Just because starting conditions are suboptimal does not guarantee that safe withdrawal rates will fail today's retirees.

Are the policy proposals of Prime Minister Abe a signal to re-orient portfolios to Japan?

Without some major shake-up, the Euro will fail. A monetary union between countries with no growth, rising unemployment and decreasing levels of trade with each other is just not credible.

A few weeks ago, a small contingent of Kiwi advisers travelled to Sydney to join around 500 practitioners for the annual PortfolioConstruction Forum Markets Summit. We asked the Kiwi delegates how what they heard is shaping the way they construct portfolios.

Could financial advisers who offer comprehensive services be doing a better job? Two recent studies shed a positive light on the potential of the financial planning profession to do right by clients.

Bonds are negatively correlated to equities – so they make a great portfolio diversifier despite their low yields, right?. Wrong.

A recent study confirms that expert financial advice does change consumer behaviour - and consumers see it as more valuable.

Sherlock Holmes would've been intrigued – there were critical things that didn't happen in markets in 2012. Will they, in 2013?

Is the consensus is correct in its assumption that equities are a good place to be right now?

This time Italy's political crisis really matters - and not just to Italy. For the troubled Eurozone, this means its crisis is not only back but worse than before.

Reform doesn't equate to austerity, as Italian voters have shown. US reform does not equate to austerity either.

Most planners struggle to reach and effectively serve Gen X and Gen Y, tending instead to focus their on baby boomers. But it's quite possible serve at least a fairly wide swath of Gen X and Gen Y.

A new study of using brain imaging technology suggests investors second-guess non-CFP advisers more than those with the credential.

Markets Summit 2013 debated and identified the key investment market and asset class opportunities (and risks) ahead, to help in the search for return and in building better quality investor portfolios.

What is an appropriate track record for a fund before it should be used?

Every policy maker in the world is joining in the chorus of "Start Me Up." Woe to the investor who doesn't listen.

When looking at Australian stocks, it is important to look at how they're being impacted by shifts within the Australian and global economies.

When I transverse the latest data and policy issues, the prospects for so many countries are either worrying or exciting or perhaps both, depending on your state of mind.

The main areas of risk and contagion that investors may wish to consider in 2013.

Five themes define the opportunity set for asset classes and markets for the coming five years.

The catalyst for improved sentiment for commodity-based equities will be a return of confidence and more stable political and economic environment.

We are relatively optimistic about the outlook for global growth, and the US in particular. We see four main reasons why the market could become more worried about inflation.

Amidst the volatility and doomsday talk in China, Asia ex-Japan equities ended up as the best performing region in 2012. For 2013, the outlook for Asia continues to be positive.

Investing in yourself is worthwhile for financial advisers – but that message doesn't seem to have got through. Now hard evidence is starting to emerge from overseas that higher education pays for financial advisers.

Consistently higher commodity prices are a thing of the past. There are two paths the economy can now follow.

The growing yield-seeking flood of money is causing a growing divide between real and perceived values in the private equity market.

World Investor New Zealand magazine gives the appearance of serious quality. What's interesting is what's not said as much as what IS said. Transparency and disclosure should be as stringent for investment publications as for investment advisers.

Major foreign policy issues face China's new leaders in regards the US, Japan, SE Asia, and North Korea.

What happens after 10% growth? History shows few economies last the distance.

I never quite expected to be asking this question. But at some point, the question is going to become very real.

In a first, an AFA has had his license cancelled by the FMA just weeks after it was granted, and while the FMA and the SFO are still only investigating a complaint against him. Not even David Ross has had his license completely revoked by the FMA. financialalert asked some industry insiders what the case means for other AFAs.

Here's one adviser who has mastered social media and how it fits together, to stand out in the profession's "sea of sameness".

We were very pleased to kick off the new calendar year with our Learning Partners at our PortfolioConstruction Forum Learning Partner Briefing 2013.

The reality is that saying "You can trust me" is actually a terrible way to establish trust, especially when it's done using complex jargon that most consumers don't understand.

For better or worse, 2013 is likely to be another year when the market's fate will rest largely with politicians and policy makers. For now, we remain cautiously optimistic.

It is shaping up for a period where the FX market is back, front and centre. An aspect at the forefront is the notion of so-called "currency wars". I'm dismissive of such accusations.

"The Hedge Fund Mirage" shows investors would've been much better off in US T-Bills over the past decade. We look at hedge fund association AIMA's "comprehensive rebuttal".

When Lance Armstrong finally confessed to doping, he received widespread condemnation. If only there was similar outrage over doping in monetary policy.

It's an regrettable reality that financial advice remains out of the reach of most people. financialalert looked at when it might be practical to advise someone without charging them a fee and the implications...

As a result of the findings of its latest AFA Monitoring Report, the Financial Markets Authority says it expects all Authorised Financial Advisers to review their processes...

The FMA's latest AFA Monitoring Report makes interesting reading. The findings support our conclusion after our review of over 500 client files in the previous 12 months - that is, that many AFAs need to do a better job with Statements of Advice.

If you cannot answer that question clearly and quickly, you have a serious marketing problem. Frankly, if you can't answer that question in a meaningful way for a customer, then you probably don't deserve their business.