ETFs have come under criticism lately. Don Phillips of Morningstar says that as ETFs have proliferated, they have become more expensive and hazardous for FAs and their clients to use. The original ETFs were designed to provide low-cost exposure to broad market segments. But now many ETFs use leverage or aim at narrow sector/industry niches. These specialized ETFs are volatile and have higher expense ratios. Some analysts argue that ETFs are a chief cause of the increasing volatility of markets. The SEC is currently investigating the role of ETFs in making markets more volatile. ETFs are popular vehicles of high frequency traders. In the past, a rapid trader may have bought and sold a few stocks. Now with ETFs, the trader can buy hundreds of stocks with the click of one key. What do you think? I'm collecting thoughts on this topic.

Calling All Oustanding, Philanthropic Advisors

If you're a retail financial advisor (independent, RIA-affiliated, wirehouse employee — it doesn't matter where you sit) please visit RegisteredRep.com to offer a candidate (even yourself) for Registered Rep's 32nd Annual Advisors with Heart Awards. We used to call them the Outstanding Broker Awards, but changed the name to better fit our intent. Each year we pick 10 excellent, sophisticated FAs who do more than write checks to charitable organizations. We are looking for FAs who put sweat equity (and money) into a charity that means something to them. The special package will run in May and we may even resume our award giving in New York at the Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square. Please submit nominations on RegisteredRep.com, including a brief explanation of why the candidate should be considered.

Introducing Wealth Management Research Initiative

Registered Rep. and WealthManagement.com just completed one of the broadest and most comprehensive studies (1,500+ respondents) on advisors' use of, and firm policy on, social media — especially as it relates to prospecting, marketing, and communication. The study looks at all channels (RIA, Wirehouse, IBD, Insurance, etc.), as well as age, sex, etc. Highlights include: Half of advisors use social media for business purposes. Social media is most often used for networking with other professionals, keeping up with industry news and client prospecting. Wirehouse advisors are less likely than those from other channels to use social media for business purposes. Advisors from regional firms have an average understanding of FINRA regulations and are concerned with what kinds of opinions they can post. Independent advisors are most likely to know 100 percent of their Facebook and LinkedIn contacts. Lack of regulatory clarity and compliance/paperwork keep RIAs from using social media. Advisors from bank brokerages are least likely to use social media for business purposes. Advisors from insurance firms are most likely to have landed clients as a result of social media efforts. For more information, please contact William.oconor@penton.com.

Registered Rep. Has Gone App-nutty.

Financial advisors on the go can now download RegisteredRep.com via their iPhones and iPads; just go to the Apple app store to download for free. In addition, the RegisteredRep.com app is also available on the Android Marketplace and the Blackberry App World.

Introducing WealthManagement.com

WealthManagement.com is the premier new online community and marketing platform that allows you to profile your company's product and services to highly-targeted wealth management professionals. Highlight your company's news, events, white papers, videos and contact information — all in one place — and update your information 24/7. And because we'll promote your resources via all Registered Rep. and Trusts & Estates digital and print channels that reach in excess of 5,000 firms and over 200,000 wealth professionals, it's a highly efficient way to fortify your existing marketing programs with the critical decision makers you're trying to reach. For more see, RegisteredRep.com or hit WealthManagement.com directly.

(We thank you for your support. Drop us a line with your comments: 249 W. 17th St., New York, N.Y. 10011-5300. Or email us: dgeracioti@rrmag.com. Publisher Rich Santos can be reached at rich.santos@penton.com.)