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ADVISOR CONNECT Insights and Growth Strategies | March 2018

How Do You Stack Up? Custom Advisory Dashboards Help Optimize Your Practice pg. 8

PR Campaign Positions ProEquities for Growth, pg. 30 Advisor Q&A with Danica Ansardi, pg. 18 Can Retirement Happiness Be Quantified?, pg. 16


Leveraging Technology to Optimize Your Practice Greater Access to Resources for You and Your Clients

As an industry, we experienced unprecedented change last year and a strong capital market with an almost nine-year bull run. At ProEquities, we experienced a significant shift toward the fiduciary standard of care evidenced by the double digit growth in advice and planning practices. To address the growing need for financial planning services, we have recently formalized our process with software recommendations to enhance and automate advice delivery — read more on page 6. Chris Flint President & CEO

We are committed to making incremental and continuous improvements to provide value for you and your clients. Some of these enhancements are described in this issue, including: • Advisory boards and networking groups to facilitate collaboration and ensure our efforts are aligned with your growth (page 24); • Our public relations campaign helps raise brand awareness about our unique company culture and position us for robust growth (page 32); • A custom ProEquities AMP® Dashboard was created to measure individual advisory business and compare it to peers at ProEquities and across the industry (page 8); and, • The new service segmentation strategy was introduced for ProElite Partners, including advisors with a minimum of $200K in commissions and advisory fees with added value levels to differentiate high performers (page 30). With operations and technology as key priorities for 2018, many projects are in motion to strengthen the advisor experience and the services you extend to your clients. Work is underway for a more efficient, end-to-end client onboarding upgrade, an online annuity processing solution rollout, an e-signature capability expansion, a companywide internal CRM integration, and the list continues. Change is difficult, and that isn’t lost on me or our team. Please use this publication as a way to stay informed about what’s happening at ProEquities and the many improvements we are making to support the optimization of your business and your clients’ financial freedom.

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Advisory Dashboard: How Do You Stack Up?

pg. 8

pg. 16

Advisor Q&A with Danica Ansardi

Can Retirement Happiness Be Quantified?

PR Campaign Helps Position ProEquities for Robust Growth pg. 18

pg. 30

Contents WEALTH MANAGEMENT Why 2018 Will be More of the Same in Bond Market Inertia Ask and Receive: A Formalized Financial Planning Approach

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RETIREMENT READINESS Boost Your Small Business Retirement Plan Knowledge

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CLIENT ACQUISITION Strengthen Your Digital Handshake 21 PRACTICE MANAGEMENT Advisory Boards Amplify Communication Opportunities 24 RESOURCES AND SUPPORT IBDs Can Protect Good Advisors from Bad Recruits 26 ProElite Expands to Elevate the Advisor Experience 28 APEX: March 18-21, 2018 in Nashville 29 Welcome New Advisors 32

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Why 2018 Will Be More of the Same in Bond Market Inertia by Rory Hartley

as seen in Wealth Management’s Year-End Trends and Outlook, December 2017 Despite the downward turn in the market already this year, keep in mind the federal fund rate still stands in the lower 1% range. The fiscal stimulus and a strengthening economy bode well for certain areas of the bond markets moving forward. Wall Street economists and regulators have overblown the risk of interest rate increases for over seven years. Indeed, as recently as March of 2017, FINRA has published Investor Alerts tailored to the risk of bond portfolio valuations in a rising rate environment. And despite the Investor Alerts, the bond markets remained essentially unchanged. It is my view that 2018 will continue to be a point in the market cycle where rates remain historically low.

RATES? WHAT RATES DO YOU MEAN?

Before further explaining this outlook, it’s worth first examining which interest rates we’re discussing. It’s true that the Federal Reserve has increased the federal funds rate four times over the past 22 months. But

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let’s not forget that the federal funds rate now stands around 1%, which is a pretty far cry from high rates. The most common instrument used when discussing rates in general is the 10 year Treasury note, which currently yields 2.35%. This rate falls directly in the middle of the trading range for this benchmark rate over the past 5 years.

Bonds remain an important asset class for investor allocations.

WHY INERTIA IN RATES IS THE NEW NORMAL

This state of inertia in interest rates is a result of multiple factors. First, longer- term rates reflect the market’s expectations of future inflation. Inflation has and will likely continue to remain below the Fed’s target. Easy monetary policy across the globe has created significant liquidity in the marketplace which further subdues rates, and to be clear,

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wealth management

this low rate environment is a truly global phenomenon. With US rates higher across the yield curve than most European and Japanese bonds, this should keep a lid on US rates moving higher from a relative value standpoint. Additionally, flattening yield curves traditionally signal a slowdown in economic activity. Should history repeat itself, future increases in short term rates will become even less likely.

EVENT RISK-DRIVEN FLIGHT TO QUALITY AN ADDED DRAG ON RATES

Of course, another important factor is that we now live in a world flush with an unusually high degree of event risk. The current domestic political environment is more polarized than ever. The risk of terrorism and foreign military actions is elevated. These risks can result in the ‘flight to quality’ trade, where money flows to the safest of assets, the US Treasury market. All of which means that the current state of the world in geopolitical terms acts as a further drag on any potential meaningful interest rates increases in the foreseeable future.

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EXPECT LOWER FOR LONGER

The key take away for firms, advisors, and their end clients is that the ‘new normal’ for the bond markets in terms of interest rate levels is to expect ‘lower for longer.’ Bonds remain an important asset class for investor allocations and any major moves to client portfolios could result in detrimental outcomes.

The key take away for firms, advisors, and their end clients is that the ‘new normal’ for the bond markets in terms of interest rate levels is to expect ‘lower for longer.’

Rory Hartley Managing Director of Protective Securities 205.268.3099 or Rory.Hartley@proequities.com

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Ask and Receive: A Formalized Financial Planning Approach by Mac Frasier, CFP®

We conducted a survey last year to understand how we can better support your financial planning practice. We found a number of advisors wanted a more formalized process with recommendations for software partners that enhance and automate advice delivery. We appreciate your feedback and have developed several improvements in our financial planning support services. At ProEquities, financial planning is considered the delivery of a comprehensive financial plan, or in other words, a strategy that reviews a client’s cash flow, net worth, insurance needs, estate needs, and one or more financial goals (i.e. retirement, education). Financial advice deals with recommendations for only one financial goal, instead of delivering an allencompassing plan with multiple considerations. Advisors who wish to provide financial planning or advice for a fee must be registered as an Investment Advisor Representative (IAR).

MULTIPLE PAYMENT METHODS INCREASE CONVENIENCE

Historically when advisors wanted to charge a fee for financial planning / advice services, the only option for payment was a check. It’s rare to meet anyone who is actually carrying a checkbook these days, so ProEquities has explored other payment methods. We are excited to say that we are working with our partners at For Advisor Use Only

Protective to setup a system that will accept credit card payments for financial planning services. Not only will this automate the payment process, it also elevates the client experience. Stay tuned for more information in Weekly Digest later this year.

MONTHLY BILLING BECOMING AN OPTION

We are excited to say that we are working with our partners at Protective to setup a system that will accept credit card payments for financial planning services.

The addition of credit card payments also makes it possible to charge recurring fees for financial planning and advice. We foresee this as a great service for younger clients who are looking for advice and are more comfortable with monthly payments. Capturing this younger generation and building trust early will likely pay off in the long run.

PRICING YOUR SERVICES COMPETITIVELY

One of the biggest questions posed by advisors who completed the survey was, “What should they be charging for financial planning services?” In response, we have created guides that show recommended JoinProEquities.com

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wealth management

ADVANCED PLANNING SUPPORT

Learn more about the formalized financial planning process at ProEquities by referencing the list of frequently asked questions on Advisor Portal > Advisory, Planning & Product > Financial Planning > Tools & Resources. We will continue to optimize our process and support services, based on your continued feedback. ranges for the different planning / advice services you may provide clients. This will help ensure that you are charging reasonable and competitive rates. Find this information on Advisor Portal > Advisory, Planning & Product > Financial Planning > Tools & Resources.

SHARED ASSUMPTIONS AS A FOUNDATION

A key element that goes into all financial planning and advice engagements is the assumptions used by the advisor to create a strategy. Because these assumptions are critical, we wanted to make sure that advisors had well defined ranges for each assumption that could be considered. Ranges were created using historical data to ensure they are realistic. Visit Advisor Portal > Advisory, For Advisor Use Only

Planning & Product > Financial ProEquities advisors that are Planning > Tools & Resources to new to planning or working on see the approved assumptions. a complicated case should take advantage of our PESolutions LEVERAGE SOFTWARE team. We have subject matter PROGRAMS FOR experts in a variety of fields, EFFICIENCY and some of our designations There are many systems include: CFP®, CIMA, CRPC, designed for financial planning, CFA, CPFA, and MBA. and we have researched Reach out to us anytime at numerous platforms to determine PESolutions@proequities.com. the most efficient, user-friendly programs available. ProEquities has approved the providers below for financial planning and financial advice, and other software vendors are currently under review. Technology platforms must be vetted by the home office for use with clients. • MoneyGuidePro Mac Frasier, CFP® • eMoney Senior Investment Analyst • NaviPlan • Financial Profiles 205.268.2056 or William.Frasier@proequities.com JoinProEquities.com

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Advisory Dashboards – How Do You Stack Up? In schools across the nation, students take annual standardized tests to measure their competency broken down into different subjects. The students’ scores are then measured against the classmates within their school and then compared against their peers nationwide. What if there was a form of standardized testing to show how you, as a financial advisor, measure up with your peers? This new technology will help you understand how to optimize your practice for long-term success. by Jeremy Beck, Platform Data Analyst This standardized form of testing was designed to give students a measurement of their educational success compared to other kids their age across America. Standardization helps define benchmarks to gauge success, identify opportunities for improvement, pinpoint mediocrity, etc. Translating this concept to our financial industry — understanding where your business decisions fall relative to your peers at your broker/dealer and across the industry provides valuable insight into what should come For Advisor Use Only

next. Knowing where you stack up gives you the ability to make data-driven decisions and helps identify where you can optimize.

MEASURING YOUR ADVISORY PRACTICE, COMPARATIVELY SPEAKING

ProEquities created this standardized report card, we call the Advisory Dashboard. Each quarter a custom report will be delivered to you through Advisor Portal, providing a breakdown of your Advisory business on ProEquities AMP®. You’ll JoinProEquities.com

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resources and support see an overview of your advisory business, how it compares with your peers at ProEquities, and how advisors across the industry are allocating investments and their average client fees.

BEST PRACTICE CONSIDERATIONS AND KEY TRENDS

Utilizing predictive analytics, as well as industry trends, key insights that we believe should be considered in your practice are also included. Our goal at ProEquities is to help you leverage technology to optimize your practice. As we see trends developing, this analysis can be crucial to the longevity of your practice, so we offer insight into potential industry shifts to facilitate informed business decisions. As the Advisory Dashboard is provided each quarter, be sure to consider the industry trends we have identified.

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THE ADDED BENEFIT OF CONSULTING RESOURCES

My wife is a first grade school teacher, and each year she receives the standardized test scores of her students. She has the opportunity to work with her students, based on their scores, in an effort to bring their educational success up to par at a minimum with their school peers. At ProEquities, we have the tools to measure your book of business. This technology will help you understand how to optimize your practice for long-term success.

ACCESS YOUR DASHBOARD

Ready to see how you stack up? If you have assets on the AMP platform, check out your custom Advisory Dashboard by accessing Advisor Portal > My Business Tools > ProEquities AMP Dashboard. If you’d like to discuss your stats or comparative analytics, please email PESolutions@proequities.com.

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35 Positive Returns Over 39 Years Institutional Real Estate Annual Total Return and Income Return vs. S&P 500 | 1978-2016

40.00% US DEBT DOWNGRADE

BLACK MONDAY

30.00%

OIL PRICE CRASH

20.00% 10.00% 0.00% -10.00%

EARLY 1980s RECESSION

-20.00%

SNL CRISIS GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS

TECH “DOT COM” BUST

-30.00%

Periods of Economic/Financial Distress

Institutiional Real Estate Total Return

NPI Income

2016

2014

2012

2010

2008

2006

2004

2002

2000

1998

1996

1994

1992

1990

1988

1986

1984

1982

1980

1978

-40.00%

Stocks

Institutional Real Estate: NCREIF Property Index (NPI) | NPI Income: NPI Annual Income Returns | Stocks: S&P 500 total return Chart data from 1/1/1978 to 12/31/2016

About Institutional Real Estate (NPI):

FOR INSTITUTIONAL USE ONLY

•Inception in 1978 with a 40 year track record •Includes over 7,000 institutional quality properties

The Bluerock Total Income+ Real Estate Fund is a non-diversified, closedend internal investment company that operates as an interval fund.

comprising over $500 billion in market value

•5%+ annual income return in 38 of 39 years •73% lower quarterly volatility than the S&P 500 Now you have access

Bluerock’s Total Income+ Real Estate Fund (the “TI+ Fund”) is a 1940 Act public, closed-end interval fund offering investors a comprehensive real estate holding which seeks to provide a combination of current income, long-term capital appreciation and enhanced portfolio diversification with low to moderate volatility and low correlation to the broader equity and fixed income markets.

NOT FDIC INSURED | NO BANK GUARANTEE | MAY LOSE VALUE PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT A GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS

Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the Total Income+ Real Estate Fund. This and other important information about the Fund is contained in the prospectus, which can be obtained online at: www.bluerockfunds.com. The prospectus should be read carefully before investing. The Total Income+ Real Estate Fund is distributed by ALPS Distributors, LLC (ALPS). Bluerock Fund Advisor, LLC is not affiliated with ALPS. Investing in the Total Income+ Real Estate Fund involves risks, including the loss of principal. The ability of the Fund to achieve its investment objective depends, in part, on the ability of the Advisor to allocate effectively the Fund’s assets in which it invests. The value of the Fund’s investments will increase or decrease based on changes in the prices of the investments it holds. There can be no assurance that the actual allocations will be effective in achieving the Fund’s investment objective or delivering positive returns.

LEARN MORE AT: www.bluerockfunds.com

You cannot invest in an index. Prior Performance is not a guarantee of future results. The index performance presented above is for informational purposes only and not meant to represent the Fund. For historical performance related to the Fund, please visit the Fund’s website at: www.bluerockfunds. com/performance

Source: National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries Property Index, Morningstar Direct. Securities offered through Bluerock Capital Markets, LLC | Member FINRA/SIPC Affiliated with Bluerock Real Estate, LLC | BLU000147 12/31/2018

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Private Credit Investment Opportunities

Owl Rock’s comprehensive direct lending platform was formed to provide loans to U.S. middle market companies. This private credit strategy is offered to investors through business development companies (BDCs), which have the potential to generate income and attractive risk-adjusted returns.

MAXIMUM OFFERING AMOUNT: $2.5 billion* COMMENCED OPERATIONS: April 4, 2017

* As of 9/30/17

This is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of an offer to buy the securities described herein. Only a prospectus for Owl Rock Capital Corporation II can make such an offer. Neither the SEC, the Attorney General of the State of New York nor any state securities commission has approved or disapproved of these securities or determined if the prospectus is truthful or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense. Securities are offered through Owl Rock Capital Securities LLC, member of FINRA/SIPC, as Dealer Manager.


Boost Your Small Business Retirement Plan Knowledge and Accelerate Growth by Beth Anderson

Most advisors meet not only with individual clients, but with clients who also own small businesses. An annual review of an existing account has the potential to develop into a subsequent discussion about your services as a retirement plan advisor. This adds growth to your business and provides enhanced offerings to your client.

Dr. David Kelly, Chief Global Strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds, shared his opportunity analysis in the Guide to the Markets for the first quarter of 2018. On an industry call, he emphasized that 2018 will be marked with continued low unemployment and an evershrinking work force. He believes this will result not only in wage growth, but the need for additional benefits to retain workers. Retirement plans are considered a strong incentive for job seekers.

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SEP/SIMPLE/SOLO(K) RETIREMENT PLANS HELP EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS MODEL

Since employers are optimistic about future economic expansion, even small companies need incentives to retain and attract employees. One solution is to provide employees with a retirement plan, so they can contribute to their retirement as well as receive contributions from the employer.

Small business retirement plans are inexpensive for employers to establish. With this in mind, advisors should consider growing their practice by increasing their knowledge of SEP, SIMPLE, and Solo(k) plans for small business owners.

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retirement readiness

5HWLUHPHQWplan accounts can impact your practice by: • Expanding your client base to employees of small businesses • Creating recurring revenue streamsthroughongoing employee contributions • Establishinglong-term relationships with new clients Often a tax professional has shared with the business owner that a retirement plan would be a beneficial tax shelter for their business, but business owners need a financial advisor to identify an appropriate investment platform. A recommended solution should involve a comprehensive understanding of how the platform works and the advantages of one plan over another.

Within Advisor Portal, click on Small Plan Comparison Chart to view the custom comparison. As you navigate an employer through their options, it’s helpful to explain the advantages of each plan using a side by side comparison chart of each plan type. Click on Small Plan Guide and Fact Sheets to access the Fact Sheets for Advisors to increase your knowledge of small business retirement plans. Download the Fact Sheets for Plan Participants for clients that have already decided they need a specific type plan. Whether it’s a SEP, SIMPLE, or Solo(k) plan, there are many resources within your reach. These materials can help accelerate your retirement plan opportunities.

Since these plans provide potential tax savings to business owners and employees, plan advisors should proactively demonstrate their small plan knowledge.

UTILIZE NETX360 ACCESS ADVISOR PORTAL FOR CUSTOMIZED INFORMATION FOR RESOURCES Advisor Portal has links to help educate potential small plan advisors. These links provide access to information like the Small Plan Comparison Chart and Small Plan Guide and Fact Sheets. Find these resources on Advisor Portal > Advisory, Planning & Product > Products > Retirement Resources > NonERISA Plans > Plan Types. For Advisor Use Only

Advisors can create a customized chart and client report in NETX360. Login to NETX360 and select Menu > Tools > Retirement Center. Then select Small Business Planning and Retirement and click Use the Calculator to answer the appropriate questions and customize the report for a specific small business.

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PROACTIVELY DEMONSTRATE YOUR SMALL PLAN KNOWLEDGE

retirement readiness

Since these plans provide potential tax savings to business owners and employees, plan advisors should proactively demonstrate their small plan knowledge. SEP, SIMPLE, or Solo(k) plans are perfect for start-up firms, while a growing business should consider an omnibus and more robust platform, like a 401k or profit sharing plan. Recommend the product that fits the current need, and when appropriate convert the plan to a more applicable solution.  The PESolutions team can assist you with questions, help you find client-facing material, or navigate the next steps to help business owners establish a new benefit for their employees. Email us anytime at PESolutions@proequities.com.

Beth Anderson Director of Retirement Accounts 205.268.8316 or Beth.Anderson@proequities.com For Advisor Use Only

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IN-HOUSE CONSULTANTS FOR ADVISORY, PLANNING & PRODUCT

PESolutions @proequities.com

Our dedicated PESolutions crew is . . . Your go-to investment research and due diligence team Your one-stop shop for advisory, planning, and product questions Your AMP geek squad Your annuity consultant Your retirement plan consultant

Email us at PESolutions@proequities.com, and we’ll match your question with the right expert.

WHO WE ARE Our Experts Include:

CFAs, CIMAs, CPFAs, CRPCs, CFPs, MBAs

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Subject Matter Experts Dedicated to Serving You

160 65+

Years Combined

Combined Years of Financial Industry Experience

For Advisor Use Only. Not for public distribution. Rev 2.2018

Spent Practicing as Financial Advisors


Can Retirement Happiness Be Quantified? by Barry LaValley, Founder of The Retirement Lifestyle

Much of the discussion between advisor and client is how to use financial resources to create happiness in retirement. Read on for a map you can use as the foundation for your retirement discussions.

Many people are under the assumption that the concepts of happiness and financial security are inextricably combined. There is a relationship between happiness and feeling in control. Retirees who believe that they are responsible for their own positions and decisions generally feel more life satisfaction than those who do not.

life. Instead, a far better predictor are our beliefs and attitudes. Our happiness is inextricably bound to the things in life that we value. Too often, however, we base our dreams of our future on activities or events that we would like to have happen without really understanding the real reason why those dreams would make us happy.

Our happiness is inextricably bound to the things in life that we value. Too often, however, we base our dreams of our future on activities or events that we would like to have happen without really understanding the real reason why those dreams would make us happy.

Let’s look at some of the latest We all strive to be happy, but research done in positive do we all really know what lies psychology. at the root of our happiness? It’s not the events that make us A FORMULA FOR happy; it’s how they make us RETIREMENT HAPPINESS feel — the emotions they create Scientists have had a very inside us. And our emotions are hard time predicting levels of stirred the most when we engage happiness based on the good or in activities directly linked to our bad experiences in someone’s core values. For Advisor Use Only

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retirement readiness

Achievement: Self-image has a significant impact on our mental outlook, our relationships with others, and our desire to continually feel good about ourselves. In retirement, it is easy to look in the mirror and to consider our physical age and the chronic physical conditions. It is also easy to reflect on our work success that has disappeared now that we are retired. We need to win small and large victories, no matter how old we are.

Relationships: Human beings RETIREMENT HAPPINESS VALUES: THE CONCEPT OF are not meant to be on their own. PERMA In retirement, the strength of our Remember, the PERMA model PERMA is an acronym that describes five conditions said to lead to ‘authentic happiness’ at any age1:

social network will be a major determinant in life satisfaction. However, relationships need to be positive to have the most impact on our overall retirement Positive Emotion: We know that happiness. While men may have optimists do better in retirement more relationships, women tend than pessimists. As you look at to have deeper relationships, and your retirement, are you excited it is those nurturing, supporting or are you apprehensive? As relationships that matter. someone once said, happiness is the way you live your life and not Meaning: There is a big difference a desired state of being! between fulfilling activities in retirement and time-filling ones. Engagement: In retirement, it is Maslow said that the peak of the easy to become disengaged if needs pyramid is our need for selfyour concept of ‘being involved’ actualization. Retirement is the comes from your day-to-day time to look at the meaning of life work. Those who are more likely and to focus on living a life of value. to go out with friends, undertake That is why we have adopted the activities, and remain mentally concept of Retirement Transition active feel more alive and enjoy rather than treating retirement as more successful retirements. perpetual leisure. For Advisor Use Only

isn’t just for client discovery or rediscovery for those in or nearing retirement. Share these ideas with anyone to bring a little more happiness to their lives. “Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being,” Mark Seligman, PhD, 2011.

1

Barry LaValley is the Founder of The Retirement Lifestyle Center, and a leading educator and authority on the lifestyle transition to retirement for North Americans. This content is sponsored by Loring Ward. JoinProEquities.com

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Danica at the ProEquities 2017 business development conference in Chicago.

Candid Conversation with Danica Ansardi This financial advisor never settles into complacence and understands the value of pairing technology with strong, personal relationships to run her business efficiently. Learning from the school of hard knocks, she realizes the importance of mentorship to sustain her practice for future growth. It’s clear that a personal approach is important to your practice. What does this mean to you and how does Ansardi Financial Services deliver personal guidance? The personal approach is the thing that separates us from the competition. We all have the same products and have access to the same stocks and bonds, but the client experience is what differentiates us. And I spend a lot of time during the interviewing process when I look to bring someone new to our team. It’s not only about me interviewing them, I have each of my staff members talk to candidates without me present to speak very candidly about what it’s like to work for Ansardi Financial Services (AFS). It’s critical to set the expectations upfront of efficiencies, effectiveness, and attitude.

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practice management What do you want Ansardi Financial Services nightmare. I had a couple of younger team to accomplish in 2018? Is there a tool that will members that encouraged me to get on social help you achieve these goals? media, since I did a lot of marketing and advertising in the community, but I needed to We had a pretty good year last year, and the market take it to the next level. So I spoke to my branch obviously helped a lot. But we are not complacent manager and found out what’s required from a at all here, and we want to always continue to grow compliance standpoint. and service more clientele. It’s become very apparent that Redtail has become such a valuable part of our daily operations here. Everyone at AFS is in Redtail throughout the day making client notes and preparing for client meetings. It’s also helpful to create activities in the calendar system that prompt notifications for certain annual reporting, etc., and staff also input different assignments that are captured in the software and are held accountable for completion. It allows clients to get service at an optimum level. Your website is packed with useful client resources from checklists for newlyweds to tax planning guides. How do you decide what content should be created? We always look at whatever is relevant and timely, taking advantage of opportunities for new client capture based on current need and who on her staff can reach new markets, based on where they are in their lifespan. Taxes are always an obvious topic, since it’s applicable across the board. And many of my younger staff are getting married and starting families, and they have friends doing the same thing. It’s all about what will resonate with our growing client base.

Social media has been great for my business, and it’s given AFS the exposure that I wanted — showing that we’ve got a huge presence in the community. I tried to ignore social media for the longest time, but my staff inspired me to be more open-minded, and it has certainly paid off. It gives us the attention and prominence that we needed. Have you used technology to elevate the client experience?

You lead an active social media presence. If I had a client moving a lot of money from Vanguard advisors are considering this platform, what over to ProEquities AMP®, and she was used to advice would you offer? accessing her accounts through an app on her cellphone. She was able to download the mobile I resisted social media for the longest time, Envestnet app and can check on her investments because I thought it would be a compliance at ProEquities daily, tracking her assets and For Advisor Use Only

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practice management seeing stats in real time. She really appreciated being able to monitor her account daily, and loved working with a practice that embraced technology and client convenience.

We’re always looking to fine-tune the practice, so it’s helpful to make the annual investment in our growth.

Your son Tray earned his MBA and is now working at AFS fulltime. How important is mentorship in the financial services business? Mentorship is critical today, and the foundation that young advisors can build in an established practice will put them light years above what I was able to accomplish. Because Tray is walking into an established operation, there isn’t the pressure of where to get his next client and make his commission, so he’s able to focus on the client relationship. Being able to mentor young advisors from the ground up, as far as our belief system and how to interact with clients, is critical to the long-term success of my practice. We always do what’s right for the client first, and ultimately, it will be paid out in dividends. You attended the ProEquities business development conference in Chicago last September. As a top advisor, did you learn anything about growing your practice? The value is really being able to talk to ProEquities leadership and current colleagues to understand their vision and where we’re headed. Attending the annual conference is generally a wonderful reinforcement that AFS is on the right track, and I generally takeaway some valuable nuggets.

Tray Ansardi with proud mother, Danica

Danica Ansardi, CLU, ChFC, MBA, is an independent financial advisor affiliated with ProEquities. She can be reached at 504-393Last year, I came away with a pretty profound 2228 or danica@ansardifinancial.com. realization that AFS didn’t have a vision statement, so it took us about three or four months to put on paper a vision statement that really identified us. And now we’re fine-tuning the mission, vision and values statements to make sure everyone understands what our company is all about. For Advisor Use Only

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Strengthen Your Digital Handshake by Melanie Thompson

Our experienced in-house marketing team supports your practice by providing strategy and branding expertise. We assist with project-scoping approach, advertising concepts, brand identity, logo development, and custom client brochures. We’re consistently evaluating new partners and looking for appropriate marketing platforms and tools that help our advisors take their practice to the next level.  Our new digital marketing partners represented below have been identified to help build your brand, nurture existing client relationships, and generate leads to grow your business. Keep in mind, the checkmarks indicate available features, so check with individual vendors for pricing details.

Melanie Thompson eCommerce Manager 205.268.5889 or Melanie.Thompson@proequities.com

PREFERRED DIGITAL MARKETING VENDORS

Click the image above to enlarge. Revised 2.2018 For Advisor Use Only

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Fixed Indexed Annuity Case Study Protective® Asset Builder You may be very familiar with Fixed Indexed Annuity (FIA) products and use them frequently in your practice. Or you may need a little more information about the three FIA products that Protective Life Insurance Company provides and when each might be an appropriate fit. This case study demonstrates a real-life scenario when the Protective Asset Builder indexed annuity helped support a client’s financial freedom. Names have been changed to preserve privacy.

After participating in several meetings and events sponsored by Protective, Janet better understood their three FIA offerings and realized the Asset Builder product would be an appropriate fit for a current client. At her next client meeting, she was comfortable telling both the Asset Builder and the Protective stories. After recommending the Asset Builder product, Janet expanded her book of business to include indexed annuities, since she hadn’t yet written an indexed annuity case. Her 62-year-old client cited his reasons for purchasing the six-year-term Asset Builder annuity were principal preservation and future income. RETIREMENT PLANNING IN TODAY’S ENVIRONMENT Watch the quick video about how indexed annuities can help grow and protect your clients’ assets, regardless of rising interest rates. Feel free to share with your clients.

CLIENT FACTS — Asset Builder • • • •

Male, age 62 $75,000 - IRA rollover Gross income: $25,000 to $75,000 Liquid net worth: $300,000

SCENARIO New financial advisor Janet Doe wasn’t very familiar with indexed annuity products. She reached out to an account development manager at Protective Life Insurance Company to learn more about the FIA options available to her clients.

LEARN MORE Contact your Protective Annuity Wholesaling Team or the Annuity Sales Desk at 888.340.3428. ProEquities.com


Embrace Digital. Grow Your Practice. Investors today are actively engaged. They want to know more about their investing options and better understand their personal finances. They want control, transparency, and access. In this 24/7 information driven environment, advisors need to embrace digital solutions. They need to connect with investors on different levels and demonstrate that their advice is essential.

Leverage Envestnet’s Client Portal It’s a digital platform with configurable modules that aggregates personal finances with investment accounts, all white-labeled for the advisor.

A set of online tools gives end-investors greater insight and control to chart their expenses and income, monitor cash flow and determine net worth—all while providing a holistic view of their wealth.

And, a digital storefront allows end-investors to experience a personalized approach to investing and to open an account on their own.

Join the digital revolution. Learn more at envestnet.com/clientportal. ENVESTNET RESERVES THE RIGHT TO ADD TO, CHANGE OR ELIMINATE ANY OF ITS SERVICES WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE. APPROVED FOR INVESTMENT PROFESSIONALS ONLY. IT IS NOT INTENDED FOR PRIVATE INVESTORS. © 2017 Envestnet, Inc. All rights reserved.


Advisory Boards Amplify Communication Opportunities by Holly Bell and Cristi Meyers

As your new Practice Management team at ProEquities, we are committed to bringing you resources that will add value to your business. We will be a regular contributor of growth and development best practice articles in Advisor Connect and the Weekly Digest newsletter. Make sure to click through and read! We always welcome feedback on topics that interest you. The leadership at ProEquities is strongly committed to providing additional resources for its advisors. This is the primary reason the Practice Management team was formed. This year, we are particularly excited about the creation and implementation of two advisory boards.

FOSTERING COLLABORATION FOR LONG-TERM SUCCESS

Soliciting feedback and collaborating with advisors is vital to the long-term success of ProEquities advisors and the

broker/dealer-RIA as a whole. A group comprised of advisors and another of sales assistants will serve as a key to tap into valuable feedback used to direct initiatives and add resources. These boards have been established to provide a forum for dialogue on strategic initiatives to maintain clear and open communication between ProEquities and its advisors and sales assistants. This creates a mechanism to obtain feedback from advisors on what matters most. Discussions will focus on

The leadership at ProEquities is strongly committed to generating committed to providing additional resources for its advisors. For Advisor Use Only

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practice management ProElite Advisory Board Members

Danica Ansardi

Kim HellermanHersman

Robin Lawson

Eric Watson

Discussions will focus on ProEquities’ strategy, tactics, technology, marketing message, operations, and services.

Sales Assistant Advisory Board Members

Jennifer Harris

Logan Hiatt

ProEquities’ strategy, tactics, technology, marketing message, operations, and services. Board members will serve as advocates for ProEquities advisors and sales assistants nationwide.

WHO, WHAT, WHEN?

Each board was formed with four members initially and will expand to eight members by the end of 2018. Members will be involved for 30 months where the rolling

For Advisor Use Only

Kelly Scott

Cindy Tipton

participation ensures continuity of thought leadership. Boards will meet four times a year and are governed by an Advisory Board Charter.

Holly Bell Practice Management Consultant 615.589.3069 or Holly.Bell@proequities.com

Please join us in congratulating our initial Advisory Board members. Cristi Meyers Practice Management Consultant 618.570.8831 or Cristi.Meyers@proequities.com JoinProEquities.com

25


IBDs Can Protect Good Advisors from Bad Recruits by Steve Youhn

as seen in InvestmentNews, November 2017 As consolidation – and fears of potential consolidation – begins driving waves of advisors into the marketplace, compliance teams must rigorously vet the records of new advisors in order to limit the risks that come with consolidation-driven recruits.

Although FINRA and the SEC have been taking steps to provide further regulatory guidance on the recruiting and supervision of ‘high risk and recidivist’ reps, firms across the industry owe it to their existing advisors to take these steps to block recruits with checkered compliance histories.

COMPLIANCE PROTECTIONS AGAINST HIGH-RISK ADVISORS

Step 1: Drive closer alignment between the business development and compliance supervision teams in identifying and vetting recruits. It’s essential For Advisor Use Only

to provide the compliance and supervision functions of a firm with a seat at the new-advisor selection committee table. This maximizes the chances of flagging, from the outset, potential track-record issues. Step 2: Establish a uniform cap on the number of compliance disclosures allowable for new recruits. It’s not unheard of for firms to adopt a case-bycase approach in determining the upper limit of compliance disclosures. While this may work when prospective new recruits can be very carefully vetted on an

Each firm should have a clearly articulated list of ‘no fly zone’ disclosures that are an absolute block against allowing a prospective recruit to join the firm.

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26


practice management individual basis, when it comes to high-volume advisor transitions that are part of a consolidationdriven event, a more uniform upper limit must be established as a basic selection tool. Whatever the number of maximum allowable disclosures for new recruits, the upper limit must be transparently communicated and enforced without exceptions.

When onboarding advisors with a disclosed lien, it’s crucial that firms not assume the Form U4 is current and up to date. Firms should conduct credit and background checks before allowing a new recruit that fits this description to join their platforms, and keep doing this at least once a year for the next two to three years thereafter.

Step 3: Clarify your compliance risk ‘no fly zones.’ Beyond establishing an upper limit of allowable compliance disclosures for new recruits, also remember that not all disclosures are created equally. Each firm should have a clearly articulated list of ‘no fly zone’ disclosures that are an absolute block against allowing a prospective recruit to join the firm, regardless of whether the total number of disclosures has reached the allowable upper limit or not.

Unfortunately, the first disclosed lien is frequently followed by a second and third. Firms should be particularly wary of new recruits with disclosed liens who fail to disclose subsequently received liens, as this suggests a willful attempt to evade disclosure.

Examples of this could be prior terminations for undisclosed Outside Business Activities (OBAs) or selling away. What constitutes an absolute block may vary by firm, but there must be a clearly communicated list of non-negotiable compliance issues. Step 4: Never assume the first disclosed lien is the only one.

For Advisor Use Only

BALANCING GROWTH WITH DUE DILIGENCE

Whenever the consolidation drums start to beat across the industry, firms can lose sight of certain critical risk management protocols as the competitive quest to grow through largevolume recruiting of displaced or acquired advisors takes center stage. WhilHFonsolidation-driven recruiting growth can represent an opportunity that should be captured aggressively, this should be carefully balanced with an embrace of the obligations owed to existing advisors by

ensuring waves of new recruits don’t jeopardize other aspects of the business over the long term.

While consolidationdriven recruiting growth can represent an opportunity that should be captured aggressively, this should be carefully balanced with an embrace of the obligations owed to existing advisors by ensuring waves of new recruits don’t jeopardize other aspects of the business over the long term.

Steve Youhn Chief Compliance Officer 205.268.3369 or Steve.Youhn@proequities.com

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ProElite Expands to Enhance Your Experience

ProElite to Enhance Experience In response Expands to your feedback about more Your meaningful service levels, the ProElite program has been reimagined to strengthen and deepen the relationship we share with you. In response to your feedback about more meaningful service levels, the ProElite program has been reimagined to ProElite includes three distinct service levels, based on 2017 advisory fees. strengthennow and deepen the relationship we share with you. ProElite now includes threeGDC distinctand service levels, based on 2017 GDC and advisory fees.

The grid below outlines each ProElite 3artner status and the associated benefits. ProEquities will The grid below outlines each partner status the associated benefits. willAdvisory continually continually reevaluate theProElite program, based onand feedback from you and ProEquities the ProElite Board. reevaluate the program, based on feedback from you and the ProElite Advisory Board.

Plus

ProElite Partner Benefits

$200K-$399K GDC

Concierge Access

ü

Dedicated team for ProElite advisors.

ProLytics Software

Online, self-service business intelligence tool that calculates practice valuation powered by Truelytics.

ü

ü

$750

$1,000

$1,500

ü

ü

ü

The Elite Summit Eligibility

ü

Annual recognition trip for advisors.

APEX Conference Incentive

ProEquities national conference designed around achieving practice excellence.

GDC > $800K

ü

Paperwork is placed in an expedited queue and processed faster than the 48-hour standard. Small-business consulting services and ongoing accountability coaching.

Platinum

ü

Priority Processing

Practice Management Consulting

Premier

$400K-$799K GDC

1 hotel night

2 hotel nights

extra amenities

3 hotel nights

CONTACT YOUR CONCIERGE TEAM

Contact Your Concierge Team

Call 800.421.2317 to speak with your ProElite concierge or connect with them directly² Call 800.421.2317 to speak with your ProElite concierge or connect with them directly —

Paulette Farquhar

205.268.3410 Paulette Farquhar Paulette.Farquhar@proequities.com

205.268.3410 Paulette.Farquhar@proequities.com

Leslie Isbell

205.268.3945 Leslie Isbell Leslie.Isbell@proequities.com

205.268.3945 Leslie.Isbell@proequities.com

Jonathan Paramore 205.268.2011

Jonathan Paramore Jonathan.Paramore@proequities.com

205.268.2011 Jonathan.Paramore@proequities.com

For ProEquities advisor use only. Not for distribution. Rev 2.28.2018

For Advisor Use Only

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achieving practice excellence

See You Soon MARCH 18-21, 2018

THE WESTIN NASHVILLE Fine-tune your practice and gain actionable insights to help deliver a better client experience, increase profitability, and improve effectiveness. APEX is designed for advisors, support staff, and branch managers. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN THE MUSIC CITY!


PR Campaign Helps Position ProEquities and Branch Partners for Robust Growth by Ellen Michael

Early last year, Chris Flint, our President & CEO, announced that ProEquities would embark on a strategic public relations campaign to help accelerate the firm’s growth by elevating our brand across the financial services sector and by promoting the significant value-add we deliver to the independent financial advisors we serve across the country. From the outset of our PR agency search, we sought a partner with a thorough understanding of the independent retail financial advice space, extensive contacts across relevant media outlets, and a reputation for high quality work, strategic thinking, and impactful results. We also wanted to compound our effectiveness by actively repurposing such coverage via our corporate social media platforms on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

For Advisor Use Only

By mid-year, Haven Tower Group emerged as a clear front-runner. Offering a boutique service model combined with large agency expertise, Haven Tower hit the ground running September 2017. They created opportunities for ProEquities to showcase its expertise in leading industry publications, such as Investment News, Wealth Management, and Financial Advisor, with more press coverage to come — see pages 4 and 26 in this issue for examples of positive press.

Media coverage provides a platform to more broadly articulate who we are, how we add value, and why the ProEquities brand is unique. JoinProEquities.com

30


resources and support WHY INVEST IN PUBLIC RELATIONS?

Here are just a few key reasons why ProEquities partnered with Haven Tower: Engage with our advisors on a deeper level As we continue to raise the bar for the service experience you receive at ProEquities, we also want to deepen our level of engagement with all our advisors. Having ProEquities covered more extensively in the industry press provides valuable context for our advisors about what we are doing and – more importantly – how we think about advisor service and the future of retail financial advice. Drive an enhanced understanding of our brand, our culture, and our value Beyond existing advisors, we’re mindful of engaging with a wider industry audience, encompassing prospective recruits, relevant industry associations, industry influencers, and partner companies to ProEquities. Media coverage provides a platform to more broadly articulate who we are, how we add value, and why the ProEquities brand is unique. Help recruiting-based growth, which fuels the ability to add resources for our advisors  For Advisor Use Only

By successfully disseminating our unique narrative to a wider industry audience, we can attract more experienced and successful advisors who are a strong fit with our culture. More recruiting of this nature, in turn, helps to create the scale and resources any firm needs to continuously reinvest in the tools and support platforms advisors need to effectively grow their businesses. Add reputational value to support business growth Our decision to invest with Haven Tower was guided by one key question: Can more awareness and a favorable public perception of ProEquities support the recruiting efforts of our branch affiliates?

Media exposure will be included in the Weekly Digest newsletter and posted to social media. Please share this positive coverage, as we all benefit from increased brand awareness.

PR BENEFITS EXTEND TO YOUR CLIENTS

The far-reaching benefits of increased brand exposure extend beyond recruiting and retention efforts to support client acquisition. Building greater external brand awareness for ProEquities helps facilitate conversations with your clients about our value proposition and why you decided to partner with us. Having name recognition in the marketplace is very valuable, and we will continue to improve our brand equity through strategic media coverage.

Ellen Michael Managing Director of Communications & Marketing 205.268.3106 or Ellen.Michael@proequities.com JoinProEquities.com

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Welcome New Advisors:

NAME

PREVIOUS FIRM

LOCATION

Mark Ashford

Lincoln Financial Securities

Morristown, TN

Bill Bergner

Lincoln Financial Securities

Knoxville, TN

Michael Burnette

Lincoln Financial Securities

Knoxville, TN

William Clifton

New to Industry

Milledgeville, GA

Roger Davis

Lincoln Financial Securities

Ooltewah, TN

Elizabeth Dewan

Lincoln Financial Securities

Knoxville, TN

Lucas Fox

The Huntington Investment Company

Kidron, OH

Sy Giles

Lincoln Financial Securities

Fort Payne, AL

Nathan Green

New to Industry

Longwood, FL

Al Grier

Lincoln Financial Securities

Strongville, OH

Kristina Groff

RBC Capital Markets

Lancaster, PA

Denise Haulk Davis

Lincoln Financial Securities

Ooltewah, TN

Patsy House

Lincoln Financial Securities

Cookeville, TN

LuAnn Jarnagin

Lincoln Financial Securities

Knoxville, TN

Bruce Jones

MML Investors Services

Saint Marys, OH

David Lewitas

CitiGroup Global Markets

Chicago, IL

Henry Levine

Principal Securities

Marietta, GA

Jenny Matthews

Lincoln Financial Securities

Knoxville, TN

Jen McCoy

New to Industry

Lancaster, PA

Derek McDilda

Lincoln Financial Securities

Bristol, TN

Patrick Murphy

New to Industry

Conway, AR

Eric Peyton

MetLife

Edina, MN

Aaron Redding

OneAmerica Securities

Spring, TX

Steven Schwendy

T. Rowe Price

Souderton, PA

Charles Sells

Lincoln Financial Securities

Knoxville, TN

David Whitten

HD Vest Financial Services

Lawrenceville, GA

Tom Wilder

Investment Centers of America

Red Wing, MN

Ronda Wilson

Waddell & Reed

Longwood, FL

Robert Young

Principal Securities

The Woodlands, TX

For Advisor Use Only

JoinProEquities.com 321


Talk to a Business Development Consultant about joining us. Call us at 866-933-2163, or email Join.Us@proequities.com.

Speak to a service associate or reach a specific ProEquities team member.

Call 800.288.3035, or email by using this general rule: Firstname.Lastname@proequities.com.

About ProEquities Founded in 1985, ProEquities, member FINRA/ SIPC, is an independent RIA with a broker/ dealer and headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. This wholly owned subsidiary of Protective Life Insurance Company supports more than 700 independent advisors nationwide in serving their clients. ProEquities and its partner firms help you maximize your effectiveness as an independent financial advisor. Learn more about our advisor-centric financial services and find out how we can help optimize your business.

ProEquities, Inc. 2801 Hwy 280 South Birmingham, AL 35223

We Listen. We take the time to listen so we can work with you to develop a solution for your financial needs. We Think. We consider what you tell us and ask clarifying questions so that we truly understand your overall objectives and the unique challenges that stand between you and your dreams. We Respond. Only then do we reply...not with a cookie cutter answer but with a personalized action plan...a roadmap that will help lead you in the direction you want to go.

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ADVISOR CONNECT | March 2018  

Designed to support leading independent financial advisors, this publication provides industry trends, practice management insights, and bus...

ADVISOR CONNECT | March 2018  

Designed to support leading independent financial advisors, this publication provides industry trends, practice management insights, and bus...