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TD Ameritrade lifts profits, pushes back on high-frequency trading

Nearly three weeks after Charles R. Schwab signed a statement calling high-frequency trading a “cancer,” the executive that runs a major competitor is pushing back. “After and only after seeking best execution, we turn our focus to how we optimize where our flow is routed in order to maximize revenue opportunities or lower transaction costs — some of those opportunities come in the form of payment for order flow,” said TD Ameritrade chief executive and president Fredric J. Tomczyk. “We're not anticipating because a book's been written that all of a sudden payment for order flow is … [Read more...]

Financial industry groups oppose adding exam scores to BrokerCheck

Bloomberg, iStock, Gerardo Tabones As Finra considers ways to improve BrokerCheck, two industry groups said they will oppose efforts to expand the database by adding brokers' scores on securities licensing exams. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. board will take the first step toward strengthening its broker database when it meets on Thursday to consider a rule requiring brokerages to adopt written procedures to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information it submits on the Form U4 for brokers joining the firm. The U4 is the foundation of broker profiles on Finra's … [Read more...]

BXDB: Barclays Short Leveraged ETN+ Triggers Early Termination

April 23, 2014 by Ron Rowland  Filed under Commentary, ETF Closings Its official name was Barclays ETN+ Short B Leveraged Exchange Traded Notes Linked to the Performance of the S&P 500 Total Return Index (BXDB).  What the name didn’t tell you was the magnitude of the leverage, that the leverage was never reset, and early termination was practically inevitable.  However, these items were highlighted in my initial analysis when the product was launched in 2009. On April 4, 2014 BXDB’s indicative value dropped below $10, triggering an early termination stop loss.  Barclays issued a … [Read more...]

Is there a popup opt-in revolution under way?

For many of us who joined the online world in the 1990s during the birth of the publicly available World Wide Web, popup windows went from fascination to quickly become an annoyance and ultimately perhaps a plague in some users' eyes. Software emerged to allow us to block or filter popups, and still today now all major web browsers offer popup controls. Through many years, outside of business applications, we've grown accustomed to considering popup windows to be a sort of spam of the web. In more recent years, both the technology of building web site and web applications turned the popup … [Read more...]

Women aren’t getting equal shake from the advice industry: CFP Board

Financial advice firms recruit and hire women less often and pay them less than men, a new report from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. found. The study, which examined why only 23% of those holding the CFP mark are women and why females represent only about 31% of the financial advice business, found the culture to be less welcoming for women. It also concluded that women are more reluctant than men to take professional risks, such as accepting a job that pays on commission or is fee-based on assets under management. Most of the reasons as to why there aren't more … [Read more...]

Social Security to resume mailing paper statements to some workers

Paper Social Security benefit statements are making a comeback — sort of. In response to my query last week, Social Security Administration spokesman William Jarrett confirmed that the agency will resume mailing personalized estimated benefit statements to some American workers in September. But not everyone will receive a paper statement and the ones who do will receive it only every five years. “Social Security is finalizing a plan to increase the number of people receiving Social Security statements annually,” Mr. Jarrett wrote in an e-mail. “We will continue to promote the use of … [Read more...]

No longer able to blame winter weather, economists see real weakness in housing

Investment Insights: The Blogblog Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients. Archives » Contact » RSS Feed » As the winter weather melts away, economists are starting to see another problem behind a slowing housing market. The short answer is lackluster demand. Early-spring sales season “decidedly tepid” U.S. markets will hit the decks running Monday as earnings season picks up where it left off before the Easter weekend. On the docket, Netflix and Kimberly-Clark are scheduled to report. Later this week the market will be looking for the Alibaba IPO. Meanwhile, … [Read more...]

ETF Deathwatch for April 2014: Membership Count Drops Below 300

April 16, 2014 by Ron Rowland  Filed under Commentary, ETF Deathwatch ETF Deathwatch membership rolls dropped by 15 for April, and for the first time in 25 months the list contains fewer than 300 products.  Five names joined the list, eight came off due to improved health, and a dozen exited because they are no longer with us.  The ETF Deathwatch for April contains 299 products, consisting of 201 ETFs and 98 ETNs.  Among the ETFs on the list, 16 are categorized as actively managed funds. Unlike March, when a large percentage of ETPs joining the list had similar objectives, the five new … [Read more...]

ETF Stats for March 2014 – First ETF Conversion to Mutual Fund

April 10, 2014 by Ron Rowland  Filed under Commentary, ETF Statistics March was the only month of the past twelve that failed to produce a net increase in the number of ETP listings.  A dozen new ETFs and one ETN came to market, but those figures were offset by thirteen ETF closures.  The net change of zero leaves the overall count at 1,568 (consisting of 1,365 ETFs and 203 ETNs).  The actively managed fund count also held steady at 85 with one new introduction and one closure. One of the more interesting events occurring during the month was the conversion of an ETF to an old fashion … [Read more...]

Retirement plan diversification improving, women take the lead

Women are less likely to take full advantage of a workplace retirement plan, but when they do, their portfolios are often more diversified, according to data released Tuesday by Wells Fargo & Co. Only about half of employed men and 43% of employed women are enrolled in a workplace retirement plan, according to the data, which was based on 2,036 companies. Moreover, most men and women are failing to meet the recommended benchmark for annual retirement savings contributions of 10% of income, including any employer match. Only 43% of men contribute at this annual rate. Among women, the number … [Read more...]