A new platform for alternative assets, plus the regulatory moves expected this year also make the list

January 17, 2011 — 4:18 PM UTC by Elizabeth MacBride


We hope you are enjoying the Marin Luther King Day holiday/day of service. I’m going over to a food drive at my daughter’s school in a few hours.

Because the markets are closed, we’re taking it easy at RIABiz today, with a guest column on ETF trading. I also took a look at the traffic on RIABiz over the past few weeks to see what topics are catching advisors’ attention of late.

As usual, stories about big custodians drew big readership. Lately, our stories have been touching on new complexities facing the custodians who are part of big, diverse financial services companies – that’s one of the key themes in the top story for the month (written by a newcomer to the RIABiz team, Lisa Shidler, who is freelancing for us).

1. How Schwab failed to block one broker’s breakaway and what the legal battle may mean for the future

Number two was about the person who may be the only man ever to lead the advisory arms of the two largest custodians:

2. Charles Goldman is seeking his game after tumult and a year of decompression

Advisors hit the ground running in the new year with a focus on technology, as illustrated by the third most popular story. This column is one of a new series on RIABiz – watch for the second one, on LinkedIn, during the first week of February.

Illustrating advisors keen interest in alternative assets, a story I wrote about a new platform that the DTCC is working on was at number five. Watch for more on this platform in the next week or two with a story I’m working on about Pershing’s role in working on the platform.

4. Schwab leads effort to create industrywide solution for alternative assets

The next chapter in the incredible story of the DFA advisor who is sharing his knowledge of the basics of investing as he fights terminal brain cancer landed at number five.

Advisors treat government stories like the medicine they have to swallow. They rarely rank among the top stories on RIABiz. This one was an exception – probably because advisors know this will be a year of big news for them, as Dodd-Frank financial reform continues.

6. The 7 government actions that could reshape the advisory business in 2011

The end of 2009 also meant that a spate of deals closed, giving us plenty of news to break – and plenty of big stories to draw advisors attention.

Another technology story hits number eight. Mobile apps are overtaking the Internet – and the advisory world is no exception.

8. Fidelity, Schwab and TD Ameritrade prep for arms race in mobile technology for advisors

The smaller custodians are sometimes overshadowed by the industry’s big players, but interest in niche alternatives is high, as the story at number nine shows.

This gives me an opportunity to point out that we’ve done a small reorganization of our RIA Custodians section, making it easier to find profiles on the major (and minor) asset custodians. Check it out here: http://www.riabiz.com/section/asset-custody.

I consider the last story a harbinger of major hiring in our business. Watch for more on that with tomorrow’s coverage of the employment market in the advisory world.

10. U.S. Trust seeks to add hundreds of wealth managers with West Coast-facing poaching campaign

And, finally, one random note. Traffic on one of our old stories surged on Friday. Brooke went looking for why. It seems a crash in Bank of America’s online banking system was leading readers to this story about how Merrill’s entrance into the online brokerage world is important to advisors:

Why the launch of Merrill Edge may be a shrewder move by BoA than it first appears

An Associated Press story reported that “the Charlotte, N.C., bank would not say exactly how many of its 29 million online banking customers were unable to access their accounts during the outage. The problem appeared at around 7 a.m. Eastern time, and was resolved about 5:15 p.m., according to spokeswoman Tara Murphy Burke.”

Thanks for reading!

Mentioned in this article:

TD Ameritrade
Asset Custodian
Top Executive: Tom Nally

United Capital Financial Advisers
Consolidator/Roll-up Firm, RIA Welcoming Breakaways
Top Executive: Joe Duran

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