In last month’s column, I mentioned that a new component of FOCALweb, Fusion, will soon replace the account opening, data gathering and document creation parts of FOCALweb. At the same time, we will be deploying another new feature of FOCALweb called Connect, which essentially replaces the remaining elements of FOCALweb. Connect includes commission statements, password reset, home office directory, news, alerts and Resource Hub just to name a few. Fusion and Connect, along with new login and landing pages will begin testing in mid-August and wave rollouts will begin in October. All offices will be deployed on the new system by the end of the year. We recently created a new position, Corporate Trainer, and Aida Dillman filled the role. Aida’s responsibilities for the first six months will be training reps and corporate office staff on Fusion and Connect.
Also on the technology front, parts of our Encompass platform will undergo a face lift sometime in September. This change was the direct result of advisor feedback that indicated the system, while extremely powerful, could stand to be more intuitive. We have a plan in place to ensure all users of the Encompass platform are prepared for this enhancement including informative emails, training materials, and live/recorded webinars. I have seen the screens and know that you will be pleased with the enhancements.
Our friends at Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management (LTAM) recently announced a partnership with American Funds to create a group of managed portfolios. American Funds is our largest fund partner and is known for their unique portfolio management committee structure. American Funds have historically performed well in up markets but LTAM, on the other hand, has a more tactical approach and excels during periods when the market has fallen. We believe that combining the two approaches in a best of both worlds portfolio will prove to be a winning formula, especially considering that the two providers share a philosophy of low costs for the client. If you have American Fund accounts and are looking for an easy, cost effective way to shift to fee-based accounts, this solution will provide a DOL compliant solution. For more information, please contact Bob Lavoie, SSN’s Product Specialist at email@example.com or extension 211.
Speaking of DOL, we have made a great deal of progress vetting acceptable paths to DOL compliance for the advisory business and we will soon be faced with making some difficult decisions. We will soon be engaging with the SSN Advisory Council to discuss our ideas. We still have a great deal of work left to do on the commission business. Fortunately, we have until the end of 2017 to address the commission side of the house.
Please join me in welcoming Madelyn Scarlett Matthews to the SSN family. Madelyn’s father, Jon Matthews, has been an OSJ Manager in SSN’s Compliance Department for 16 years. Madelyn was born July 12th weighing 7lbs 6oz and measuring 19 inches in length. In addition to his work at SSN, Jon is also a very talented photographer, as proved by the quality of Madelyn’s photo (above). Of course it helps when you have such a lovely model. Congratulations Jon and Amy.