In general, Registered Rep. tries to stay out of politics. But the 2008 presidential election has already captured my attention. Sensing a demoralized Republican party, the Democrats seem to be positioning themselves as eat-the-rich populists. Take John Edwards, the super-rich former tort lawyer who's fashioned himself the protector of the poor. He is a little scary to me, with his angry populist rhetoric whose tax prescriptions strike me as more punitive than progressive.

But, then, that's just me. Edwards may make sense to you — which is why we try to stay out of politics. Of course, the elections this fall, and in 2008, could hurt your clients. Most of the Democratic presidential candidates have said they'll let the Bush tax cuts sunset — even if many people acknowledge (however grudgingly) that they did in fact help stimulate the economy. Yet, as senior editor John Churchill details in his story, “Sell! The Democrats Are Coming,” (on page 50), a Democratic president might not be able to get away with all the tax hikes his party is promising on the campaign trail. In any case, as one financial advisor told us, from a financial planning standpoint it's best to think like it's 2009 (when the Bush cuts begin to go away). On that note, I'd love to hear some of the plans advisors are making to help clients face a potentially new fiscal landscape when a new president takes office in January 2009.

The Art Of The Deal (continued …)

I have received lots of mail about August's “Street Level” column in which I describe the problems my relation had in finding a financial advisor. (To make a long story short, my relative got fed up interviewing financial advisors, and has decided to keep his money in CDs and live off the interest. His gripes: In general, you are too expensive, and your fees are too confusing; oh, and charging a fee on assets held in cash? No thanks.) One angry Merrill Lynch advisor wrote to tell me that he perceived an anti-wirehouse bias in our magazine in general, and in last month's column in particular. (For refutation of his allegation, see our story on the Biggest Wirehouse Financial Advisors in America beginning on page 57. In that story, we note that most of the biggest reps work at giant national firms.)

To my friendly critic: The point of the note last month was merely to cajole Rep. readers to examine how they present their fees to prospects. Even I, who have followed this industry closely from my editor's chair for six years, got confused by some of the presentations. My relation kept asking for clarification: What is this going to cost each year in actual dollars? That was a question few seemed to want to answer directly.

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