AssetMark Introduces Business Assessment Tool
Concord, Calif.-based AssetMark has rolled out a free online business assessment tool for financial advisory practices.

The new tool will help advisors estimate the value of their businesses, identify areas of strength and find opportunities for improvement. The tool uses AssetMark’s Value Maximization Index to assess business risk factors and compare them to industry benchmarks.

“We wanted to offer a tool that would let advisors go in and look at the quality of their business versus top-performing firms and also get a valuation,” says Matt Matrisian, senior vice president for strategic initiatives at AssetMark. “We’re ideally serving those who are looking at improving their business and transitioning to a more efficient, scalable business, or to those who are looking at transitioning out of the business.”

Using the Value Maximization Index’s comparisons, the tool can shed light on areas of an advisory firm that need attention, including practice management, marketing, operations and staffing. The tool also gives advisors an overall valuation score relative to industry benchmarks.

As revenues are pressured by compliance requirements and fee compression, the tool can provide suggestions to help advisors scale and expand their business, says Matrisian.

“All advisors are going to have to consider how to scale their business and work more efficiently to be able to serve clients of different sizes and needs,” Matrisian says.

The business assessment tool also links advisors to downloadable resources that can help implement suggested improvements, including tips on how to market their business, optimize their operations and empower staff.


Fidelity Launches RMD-Oriented Funds
Fidelity has introduced a series of mutual funds built to simplify retirees’ required minimum distribution process.

The Fidelity Simplicity RMD Funds invest in equity, fixed-income and short-term Fidelity mutual funds with a glide path that creates a more conservative allocation as investors age. Like target-date funds, each fund includes a date intended to align with the year the investor turns 70, as initial required withdrawals begin at age 70 1/2.

The firm is launching five Simplicity RMD funds: Fidelity Simplicity RMD Income, Fidelity Simplicity RMD 2005, Fidelity Simplicity RMD 2010, Fidelity Simplicity RMD 2015 and Fidelity Simplicity RMD 2020.


IRI Creates Fiduciary Rule Tool
The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) has rolled out a website to help advisors navigate fiduciary regulations.

The site, ClientsFirstPro.org, offers financial professionals practice management tools and information, including fiduciary rule FAQs, news, compliance training videos, webinars, planning calculators and continuing education opportunities.

ClientsFirstPro.org will also house content to help advisors educate clients and prospects about the partial implementation of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule.

In addition to DOL rule-oriented resources, the site will also host Finra-approved materials, videos and webinars designed for advisors.


Finally, A Standard For Green Bonds
Four groups have cooperated to create the “Carbon Yield,” a new standard for assessing green bonds.

Introduced by London-based Lion’s Head Global Partners, in cooperation with South Pole Group, Affirmative Investment Management and the Rockefeller Foundation, Carbon Yield quantifies the “greenness” of a “green” bond, a security used to finance carbon mitigation.

The new measure is intended to bring transparency to the green bond market, as investors can use Carbon Yield to determine the level of carbon mitigation of each bond they hold. The measure can also be used on the portfolio level to see the total annual emissions avoided via a client’s fixed-income allocation.


Probe Into Risk Assessment With Behavioral IQ
Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Advisor Software has launched Behavioral IQ, a new financial risk assessment tool.

Attempting to move beyond the traditional risk tolerance questionnaire, Behavioral IQ uses six separate modules to measure characteristics influencing risk and financial decision-making.

Behavioral IQ offers a Myers-Briggs type assessment for finance, in an attempt to offer a more accurate look at the way clients reach decisions and to examine their psychological appetite for risk.

In addition to risk tolerance and appetite, the tool’s modules also measure a client’s financial knowledge, a client’s comfort level with gains and losses and his or her financial confidence and decision-making preferences. The result in a more holistic model of a client’s financial personality.


T. Rowe Price Rolls Out Retirement Income Fund
T. Rowe Price has created a new fund designed to help retirees generate income from their retirement savings.

The T. Rowe Price Retirement Income 2020 fund uses a managed payout structure to offer investors monthly dividends based on an annual distribution rate. Annual distributions are calculated as 5% of the monthly net asset value over the trailing five years.

The fund, which is designed to complement target-date funds, will invest in other T. Rowe Price funds across asset classes and sectors, and carries an expense ratio of 74 basis points.

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