Real Assets Adviser

June 1, 2016; Vol. 3, Number 6

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From the Current Issue

Distributed Generation: America’s electric grid is growing cleaner, cheaper and stronger

The once static utility industry is becoming a dynamic and transformative opportunity for the nation’s economic, environmental and energy future. An array of technological, competitive and market forces are changing how the United States generates power and the ways that Americans interact with the electric grid. A century-old centralized system is yielding to advanced, distributed-energy generation capabilities — in which power is produced at or near the place where it is consumed — that allow the industry to respond to new market opportunities and evolving consumer desires.

The Digital Farm: Can technology deliver on its agricultural promise?

Precision Ag has been the hot topic in the AgTech sector, particularly with the acquisition of the first “ag unicorn” (Climate Corp. acquired Monsanto) and the subsequent gold rush of new Digital Ag startups. As farmers face lower commodity prices and thinning profit margins, a plethora of startups are now attempting to persuade farmers they can deliver more value per acre. 

Revisiting the ‘Wealth Effect’: Some theories go boom, but this one goes bust

Here’s a back-and-forth you might have seen recently:

“Don’t fret stock market volatility — stocks have predicted 10 of the last three recessions.”

“Yeah, but falling stocks can cause a recession because the negative wealth effect kills consumer spending!”

One outfit took it a step further, arguing the world is about to get sucked into a “self-fulfilling” negative feedback loop of falling stocks and spending. Folks, this is a ghost story with zero factual support.

The Sustainable Edge: Nine nuggets of wisdom for advisers who want to be smarter leaders

Let’s be honest. Building a sustainable business as a financial adviser isn’t easy. There’s no question you need to be exceptional at what you do. But, are you exceptional inhow you do it? Do you run your business like a true CEO? Are you a respected, inspiring leader to your team? Or, do these aspects of your business suffer because you are stuck in a one-dimensional mindset?

The Missing Money: When is a 7 percent return not a 7 percent return? Answer: Most of the time

Let’s say you make a $100,000 investment in stocks that compounds at 7 percent per year (which is not far from what U.S. equities have historically returned), and you hold onto that portfolio for 25 years without adding or withdrawing funds. For the sake of argument, let’s assume the return is constant, never deviating from 7 percent per year. A constant 7 percent line scenario demonstrates that, at the end of a quarter-century holding period, the value of that $100,000 sum would have more than quintupled to $542,700. For most investors, this would be a very satisfying outcome.

The Millennial Workforce: Five ways to attract and retain top, young talent

Any investment advisory firm knows that there is only one opportunity for a sustainable advantage over the plethora of rivals. That would be to hire and retain superior talent. Many organizations are discovering that hiring sharp, young talent and keeping it engaged is more difficult than with previous generations.

Who’s In, Who’s Out: A look at access to employer-based retirement plans

With the aging of the nation’s population, a continuing decline in the availability of traditional pensions, and concerns about the future of Social Security, many workers in the United States worry that they won’t have enough money set aside for their retirements. The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2014 annual Retirement Confidence Survey found that only 22 percent of Americans are very confident that they will have enough money for a comfortable retirement, while 36 percent are somewhat confident. Twenty-four percent are not at all confident.

And Then There Was One: Jim Steiner, the man in charge of $38 billion Abbot Downing

Nothing is so characteristic of American business as its instinct to consolidate. Some of the greatest brand names have ceased to exist because they have turned into amalgams.

As an example, take PwC, which used to be PricewaterhouseCoopers, which used to be Price Waterhouse and Coopers and Lybrand. Then there is EY, which used to be Ernst & Young, which used to be Ernst & Ernst and Arthur Young & Co. Or take the wealth advisory business, where amalgamation has been happening at a furious pace.

It is the M&A way.

The Wisdom and Whimsy of Crowds: There are opportunities and hazards surrounding regulated crowdfunding platforms

Since the passage of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act in 2012, various online crowdfunding platforms have emerged. At first, they allowed accredited investors to finance commercial and residential real estate deals. But as of May 16, Title III of the JOBS Act, Regulation Crowdfunding, will permit individual nonaccredited investors to put money into securities-based crowdfunding transactions, subject to various investment limits.  Opinions vary about how much of a game-changer regulation crowdfunding is likely to be, but at least in theory it will open up many new opportunities for small to medium enterprises to finance projects that large lenders would ordinarily not consider. It will also give the individual retail investor more options, particularly with regard to real estate.

Women and Mentorship: Three women’s stories about a career development strategy that can make all the difference, yet is underused

One of the career development relationships stressed by many business people as a means for women to advance in professions and workplaces that have traditionally been male strongholds is mentorship. Although many successful executives of both genders point to mentoring as among the seminal events in their professional lives, mentorship is sorely underutilized despite its obvious and demonstrative benefits.

Mentorship and Sponsorship: A question-and-answer session on the subject with attorney and advocate Deborah Froling

Tell me why you are such a strong advocate of mentorship?

For women of my generation, and I’m technically a baby boomer, there weren’t a lot of women in the legal field when I joined. There certainly aren’t a lot of women in the financial services industry in positions of power, and one of the only ways that we are going to increase those numbers is by reaching behind us and pulling along the next generation. There were women who did that for me when I first started, and I feel it is extraordinarily important for me to do that for the next generation. I have two daughters, neither one of them will be a lawyer, nor a financial services professional, but they are also entering fields that are low participation from women. I want to give them a guide to live by and to advance professionally in a field that is not as always as welcoming to them as it should be.

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