Protecting Your Practice from Cyber Fraud

As technology advances, so do the tools and schemes that cyber criminals use to steal from clients. Wire fraud, identity theft, and e-mail scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and continue to threaten data security for broker-dealers and financial advisors at a rapidly growing rate.

Last month, internal research conducted by Fidelity Investments® reported observing a five-fold increase in successful cyber fraud attempts on a year-to-year basis. This is a major concern for the entire financial industry. Therefore, if you have not yet performed a careful examination of whether your firm’s security policies and procedures are robust enough to withstand cyber attacks, you should strongly consider doing so now.

Over the past year, National Financial® has proactively pursued an awareness and education campaign on this topic to help accomplish two goals: communicating the increasing risk of cyber fraud, and empowering advisors with best practices to help protect their firm and their clients.

Please take this opportunity to click here and review the attached whitepaper from National Financial to help protect your firm and clients from cyber fraud. This guide includes valuable insights and actionable steps to consider and assist you with combating these threats.

If you have any questions, please contact Paul Edwards at pedwards@macg.com.

Getting to Know Mid Atlantic – Greg Bakke Mixes Business with Technology

GregBakkeMeet Greg Bakke, Co-Founder and President of Expand Financial. As a Mid Atlantic Capital Group business partner and registered representative of Mid Atlantic Capital Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC, Greg is an independent financial advisor who specializes in defined contribution and defined benefit retirement plan advisory services, including 401(k), 403(b), 457, and IRA accounts. His background in open architecture and technology led him to recently develop a comprehensive, cost efficient retirement plan solution called Ready Go! 401(k), which provides clients with a thorough portfolio review, a strong investment lineup, is fully transparent in terms of fees, and supports the plan sponsor in their fiduciary role.

Greg was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with an emphasis in finance and accounting. He also holds a Master’s of Science degree in computer information systems from the University of Denver.

Greg’s background includes over 20 years of experience in finance and technology. He has spent the past 15 years performing various functions for multiple institutional custodians servicing independent record keepers, third party administrators, and registered investment advisors. Greg previously held senior management positions as Chief Technology and Chief Information Officer at Fiserv Trust Services and Trust Company of America (TCA).

After having spent a number of years building and managing “back office” technology infrastructures to support the financial advisory and administration businesses of his employers, Greg formed Expand Revenue Management LLC in 2009. Through this firm, he focused on the ever increasing fee disclosure and transparency needs of the retirement plan industry. With the introduction of 408(b)(2) and other continued DOL ERISA regulation, Expand is uniquely ahead of the marketplace in helping assemble a solution to aid with compliance to the new regulations. Greg is also part of the advisory function behind eFiduciary Advisor, another technology-based solution, and acts as an Investment Consultant 3(21) or Investment Manager 3(38) to retirement plans.

We recently caught up with Greg Bakke to get an inside view regarding Ready Go! 401(k) and his partnership with Mid Atlantic:

What motivated you to create Ready Go! 401(k)?

Retirement plan sponsors need help, advisors need help, and participants need help, all to be successful optimizing the retirement plan. ReadyGo! makes it easy for all three to be successful. We felt, especially in the small to mid-plan market, that good solutions using open architecture exist but constructing the solution is complex if you are not a retirement plan expert. We wanted to make it easy for those to get access to the benefits of open architecture solutions, but with the ease of a bundled product.

What makes Ready Go! 401(k) unique from other retirement planning solutions on the market?

ReadyGo! aligns major open architecture experts into an easy to use turnkey solution. It addresses the issues often overlooked when constructing a plan. The features and benefits include top plan design, optimal investment options, favorable cost versus market, and investment fiduciary coverage. Advisors and plans can get access to top investment managers that they are familiar with, thus allowing the participant access to high end wealth management investments typically not available at the individual level.

Why did you choose Mid Atlantic over other broker-dealers?

Among others, Mid Atlantic specializes in retirement plans (advisory and custody). They get the space better than anyone else we considered. This understanding allows us to build an optimal and compliant retirement plan solution for each and every case we serve. Their access to top record keepers, top investment managers (very streamlined), and strong technology allows us to offer big plan solutions in the mid- to smaller plan market.

What questions should a financial advisor be asking before presenting Ready Go! 401(k)?

The ReadyGo! solution is designed to help all levels of advisors win new plans and improve current plans they are servicing. The main question is: “How does this make me, as the plan advisor, great in a world where I need stand out from the others?” ERISA and retirement plans are complex. We off-load that complexity from the plan advisor, create an amazing solution for their client (and for them), and provide the on-going support to ensure the plan solution remains best in breed. This protects the important client relationship for the advisor. Advisors appreciate that by using ReadyGo! they can quickly become more knowledgeable of the space. They also like that they aren’t ultimately responsible for this expertise.

What is the close ratio of those plans that propose Ready Go! as a solution?

We are closing approximately 75 percent of the proposals we send out.

What are your hobbies and interests?

ERISA. :-)  Truthfully, I enjoy doing anything outdoors and active. I run marathons, do triathlons, love golf, hockey, etc. Anything that involves my two boys who are also highly active! They keep me on my toes.

Granite Group Advisors Makes Worth Magazine’s 2014 Leading Wealth Advisor List

Congratulations to Granite Group Advisors for recently being selected by Worth Magazine as a 2014 Leading Wealth Advisor.  Granite Group partners with Mid Atlantic to utilize ModelxChange® for 401(k) plan management.

Below is a link to a published Worth article written by Granite Group’s Lyle B. Himebaugh III, Managing Partner, and Richard C. Zipkis, Chief Investment Officer and Partner:

Are the New Hedge Fund of Funds Mutual Funds Worth It?

Getting to Know Mid Atlantic – Meet John Wight!

John_WightMeet John Wight, Sales Executive for Mid Atlantic Capital Group, Inc. (Mid Atlantic). John works with financial advisors seeking to operate an independent practice on an open architecture platform. Through ongoing consultation and collaboration with the advisor, John coordinates with the Mid Atlantic team to offer tailored solutions for the advisor’s needs.

John was born and raised in Baltimore, MD, and later attended Denison University in Granville, OH. After graduation, he and his wife moved back to Baltimore where John embarked on his career working for T. Rowe Price and then Legg Mason Wood Walker.

As John’s wife over time yearned to be closer to her family, the couple packed up the car and moved to a suburb of Pittsburgh where they eventually started a family. John immediately went to work with Federated Investors where he specialized in helping advisors become experts in 401(k) planning and servicing. In addition, he presented Federated’s myriad of financial products to numerous broker-dealers and RIAs.

We recently caught up with John to gain some additional insight regarding his wealth of experience working with independent advisors:

What sparked your interest in finance and business?

It probably starts with my father who was a broker for an investment banking firm in Baltimore. I’ve always been interested in how the equity markets worked and how people accumulate wealth.

What do you like most about working for Mid Atlantic?

Without a doubt, the culture and our sandbox. Everyone is approachable and focused on delivering the best service for our customers and their clients. There is transparency and accountability at every level. Mid Atlantic takes the time to understand our customer’s business and is flexible in presenting customized solutions.

What makes for an effective transition from one brokerage firm to another?

Our transition team would suggest, first and foremost, that you know your clients. Know what products they have and where they are located, and be sure to prepare for their needs before you make the change.

Secondly, be methodical in your approach and be prepared to meet with each and every client to explain why you are moving from one broker-dealer to another. Most transitioning reps are afraid that change will impact their client relationship but in reality we see the opposite… Most clients are so supportive of their rep finding the best home that will serve that rep and their account the best.

What are your hobbies and interests?

Investing, golfing, skiing, mountain and road biking, and whatever activities my wife and our three children have going on at that time.

 

It goes without saying that the success of any business starts with qualified employees who care and want to help others be successful.

Are you a financial professional looking to become a part of something greater? Then come meet John and the entire Mid Atlantic family!

For more information, please contact John Wight at 1-800-693-7800, ext. 286 or by emailing him at jwight@macg.com.

Mid Atlantic Welcomes Financial Consulting Group

Mid Atlantic is pleased to announce its new business partnership with Financial Consulting Group. Established in 1996 and headquartered in Germantown, Tennessee, FCG serves professional practices, private businesses, individuals, and the banking community.  Led by its co-founders and partners Dennis Plyler and Lloyd Crawford, FCG offers retirement planning and consulting, deferred compensation and executive benefits programs, investment fiduciary consulting services, community bank services, and individual financial planning.

“Our strength is the fact that our firm and personnel [all have] a lot of experience in the retirement plan area, from . . . a legal, accounting, and investment perspective,” says Plyler.   “So we bring pretty much a turn-key approach to retirement plans.”

In addition to being staffed with seasoned financial professionals, Plyler credits FCG’s lower fee structure in helping attract and retain clients.  “They know we’ll bring value at a good cost,” he says.

Due to the acquisition of its previous broker-dealer, FCG decided to seek out a new broker-dealer better able to understand and support its practice.  It was quickly determined that Mid Atlantic’s expertise in the retirement planning field offered the most practical solutions and is what primarily led FCG to come aboard.  FCG will function mainly as 401(k), ESOP, and KSOP consultants and conduct 3(21) consulting business through MAFM.

Mid Atlantic’s Erin Fischer Selected as 40 Under 40 Honoree

Mid Atlantic would like to heartily congratulate Erin Fischer, Vice President and General Counsel, for her outstanding achievement in being named as a 2014 40 Under 40 honoree by Pittsburgh Magazine and the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP).  Since its inception 16 years ago, the 40 Under 40 program annually recognizes 40 individuals under the age of 40 who utilize their creativity, vision, and passion to enrich the Pittsburgh region.

“I am thrilled and humbled to be part of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40″, said Ms. Fischer.  “Since returning to Pittsburgh about ten years ago, I’ve seen a marked change in the vibrancy and development of the city.  It has been and continues to be my goal to contribute to that.”

This year’s honorees were selected by an independent panel of judges from a nomination pool of more than 225 candidates comprised of former winners, business professionals, and civic leaders.  Winners get chosen based on a demonstrated record of outstanding professional achievement, community impact, and volunteer leadership.

As a city resident, one of Ms. Fischer’s main passions is mentoring Pittsburgh youth.  She has been involved in programs working with groups ranging from students at the downtown Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) School, to law students through the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, to young lawyers in practice.  Ms. Fischer is also on the board of Our Clubhouse, an organization in Pittsburgh’s Strip District dedicated to providing support to families and friends of those affected by cancer.

Ms. Fischer came to Mid Atlantic this past August after 10 years with McGuireWoods LLP, a large regional law firm with an office in Pittsburgh.  Though her career with Mid Atlantic is just getting started, she views the company as a great fit for her.

“I’m excited to have recently joined MACG”, said Ms. Fischer, “not only because of the career challenge, but also because it is a company dedicated to changing the community for the better.”

Group CEO Tim Friday Featured in CLS Investments’ Advisor Insight Series

Tim Friday, Group CEO and President of Mid Atlantic Trust Company, was recently featured in an Advisor Insight profile video produced by CLS Investments, an MATC money management business partner since 2010.  During the video, Tim talks about how and why forging strong partnerships with firms like CLS have been central to Mid Atlantic’s success.  Tim also shares three key pieces of helpful advice for any financial advisor looking to get into the retirement planning field.

To view this four minute video, please click the link below:

CLS Investments – Advisor Insight Interview with Tim Friday