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Mid Atlantic Acquires Institutional Trading Services LLC

Mid Atlantic Capital Group has acquired Institutional Trading Service, effective in May 2015, in what appears to be a logical addition to its already existing line of services offered to financial professionals and organizations.  ITS currently offers fixed income and equity trading services to over 300 asset management and bank trust company accounts.  The company’s interests are focused solely on providing the most cost-effective, best execution services available, combined with the state-of-the-art technology and personalized services that will maximize the clients’ back room integration and efficiencies.

Mid Atlantic offers independent broker-dealer services to a host of registered representatives from around the country and an institutional fund trading platform for 401(k) record keepers, trust and insurance companies, and other broker-dealers.  Collectively, the Mid Atlantic companies service over 500 financial professional organizations and over $60 billion in customer assets represented by millions of security transactions on an annual basis.

Charlie Friday, ITS’s founding partner and CEO, described the merger into the Mid Atlantic family as “a perfect opportunity to provide ITS’s customer base with expanded technology and service from a company that truly understands what our users need to be competitive and streamlined.  Additionally, there will be no material change to our customer’s trading counterparty today as MACC was ITS’s broker/dealer and back office partner prior to the acquisition.”

Mid Atlantic, as one of the pioneers in automating mutual fund trade processing for U.S. financial intermediaries, can now check off its list the ability to provide equity and fixed income processing as one of its direct core offerings.

For more information, please contact Paul Edwards at (800) 693-7800, ext. 367 or via e-mail at: pedwards@macg.com.

ITS is a professional service organization dedicated to providing agency order execution and technology solutions exclusively to the trust and asset manager marketplace.  ITS is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.  Additional information may be found by visiting www.tradeserv.net.

Mid Atlantic Welcomes Wagner Financial

We are pleased to announce that Wagner Financial has recently joined the Mid Atlantic family.  Formerly with LPL Financial, Joe Wagner is operating his firm independently as a sole proprietor in North Canton, Ohio.  He is registered with MACC and MAFM and will primarily be utilizing Advisor Custody to build and manage models of ETFs and mutual funds.  Joe has over 22 years of experience as a financial professional and holds Series 6, 7, 24, 63, and 65 licenses.

Mid Atlantic to Host 2015 National Conference in Ojai, California

Mid Atlantic will be hosting its annual National Partner Conference this year at the beautiful Ojai Valley Inn and Spa in Ojai, California from May 18-20.  We are excited to once again be presenting a full slate of valuable educational sessions and networking opportunities for our attendees.

Please click here for more information, or contact us at 1-800-693-7800 regarding attendance, sponsorship, and speaking engagements.

Financial Advisors Are Finding Success with Social Media

Financial advisors are now making greater use of social media than ever before, even compared to just one year ago.  This is the underlying finding of an in-depth 2014 study conducted by Putnam Investments of financial advisors’ social media practices nationwide.

Among the more than 700 financial advisors surveyed across the United States, 66% of those using social media for business indicated that social media network initiatives have helped them gain new clients, up sharply from 49% in the previous edition of the research.  Advisors who have acquired new clients through social media are reporting a median gain of almost $2 million in new assets in the past year, close to triple the level of last year’s respondents!

LinkedIn remains the number one business site of choice as 55% of advisors regard it as a primary network.  Meanwhile, Facebook usage has surged on a year-over-year basis to 24%, while Google+ and Twitter are also gaining significantly in popularity.  Overall, a typical financial advisor employing social media for business is active on an average of three social networks.

Some additional statistics revealed through the study:

  • 75% of all advisors are using social media in some capacity for business.
  • Female advisors report higher usage of social media for business than male advisors (82% versus 73%).
  • Smartphones are the access device of choice for advisors under age 30, about even with stationary or docked computers which are strongly preferred by the age 50+ set.

In identifying a need among financial advisors to understand the emerging importance of social media as a business-building tool, Putnam has developed key practice management offerings in this area, including: providing best practice seminars to advisors on use of LinkedIn and other social platforms; a series of online resources and tools; one-on-one training and continuing discussions; creation of a community discussion via the firm’s LinkedIn group; and video vignettes on Putnam’s Advisor Tech Tips blog.

Full results of Putnam’s 2014 social media survey can be accessed by clicking here.  For more information about social media and to inquire about social media training, please visit Putnam’s Social Media Center.

Meanwhile, Mid Atlantic registered reps are also encouraged to visit the Rep Neighborhood website for more information on our social media policy.

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?