As we approach the start of a new year, it’s customary to reflect on the past twelve months and give thanks for many things in our lives, and for all that we’ve achieved, both personally and professionally. Below are some of WFA’s highlights.
In early January 2022, we updated the employee side of the office to match the 2021 refresh of our conference room and lobby. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out pictures of the changes on our WFA Happenings webpage.
Julie and Nhi made sure to keep all of us abreast of technology enhancements at Schwab, especially as Schwab completed its acquisition of TD Ameritrade and transitioned even more of their onboarding and administrative paperwork to electronic signature. These enhanced features increase functionality, security, and efficiency for many tasks. One suggestion offered by Julie – be sure your contact information, including address and phone numbers, is accurate on your Schwab Alliance account. Because DocuSign will pull from this information, inaccuracies can result in delays. We expect even more enhancements to occur in 2023 and are excited about what is coming down the pike.
The SEC and Department of Labor implemented guidance and rules during 2022 that impact our internal policies and procedures, particularly around marketing, cybersecurity, and rollovers of retirement monies. Wendy and Nhi and Julie were instrumental in updating and creating WFA’s procedures and documents. One such document is the rollover acknowledgement form that must be signed by a client whenever a rollover from an employer retirement account or non-WFA IRA is requested/completed. Even for existing clients, this form must be completed when money is transferred.
Cybersecurity is on everyone’s mind, especially those with access to confidential information. We worked throughout 2022 to incorporate new IT solutions that strengthen our network and policies. In early 2023, we will add an encryption feature to emails containing private information. This feature will require you to validate yourself before accessing the information. While that may be seen as a nuisance, we are sure you will agree it is a necessity to ensure your data is transmitted securely. Regardless of this feature, we strongly encourage you to continue to use your WFA portal as a secure way to both transmit and store documents and information. If you would like to add Multifactor Authentication to your Schwab online account, WFA portal or eMoney financial plan, please contact us.
One of our core commitments to clients is education – a belief that a well-rounded financial plan is more likely when an individual understands its components and how the pieces intertwine, leading to a productive collaboration with an advisor. Therefore, we started 2022 with a continuation of work on our website and LinkedIn page that started in late 2021.
Sadie and Marilou met every month to curate content to post daily to WFA’s LinkedIn page. Typically, each month starts with a calendar of topics centered around one pillar of financial planning. Posts may include links to IRS and Schwab webpages as well as other professionals WFA turns to as subject matter experts. Some posts are simply reminders of deadlines and enrollment periods throughout the year. We encourage you to follow WFA and check the monthly calendar for topics of interest.
As an extension of our LinkedIn page, we spent much of this year adding educational content to the Resources page of our site. Users can use the magnifying glass in the top right corner of the website to search keywords, like I Bonds; which were a hot topic during the year. Looking ahead to 2023, we will continue to expand the content and work on sorting articles by importance and topic to increase usability.
To draw attention to topics of immediate concern, we regularly change the slider graphics on our homepage. Consider scrolling through the rotating graphics every week for pertinent information, particularly at the beginning of the month when we post a Monthly Market Catch-up.
For 2023, in addition to written content, we are excited to begin offering webinars to clients. For now, the webinars will be short in nature (less than 10 minutes) and will focus on one specific topic. The intent is to record these snippets and add them to our Resource page for future reference. Topics may include how to’s like navigating your WFA portal, reading your monthly report, and linking accounts within your eMoney financial plan. Topics may also be academic in nature, explaining the tax benefits of a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) and Donor Advised Fund (DAF) to accomplish your charitable goals. We are still testing different technology platforms and hope to launch during the first quarter. Once we are up and running, we will be sure to let you know.
Continuing education of our staff is also incredibly important. We are proud to announce that both Jake and Marilou completed additional learning courses and received new designations during 2022. Jake is now an Enrolled Agent recognized by the IRS and Marilou is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.
As a firm, we all strive for continuous improvement to ensure we provide the highest quality service to our clients. Aligned with our goals, certain staff are expecting to increase their industry credentials in 2023. We will be sure to announce new designations as they occur.