New York - CPAs who also hold the American Institute of CPAs' Personal Financial Specialist credential are advising many of their high-net-worth clients to rebalance their portfolios, re-assess their tax planning, and control their expenses and cash flow, according to a new survey.

Eighty percent of the 529 CPA financial advisors surveyed by the AICPA in an online poll are strongly recommending that their clients move toward a mix of growth and income securities. Sixty-five percent are also recommending more fixed-income securities. Forty percent are strongly recommending that their clients hold larger cash positions, while 30 percent are recommending commodities such as gold and precious metals.

In anticipation of future tax increases, 67 percent of the CPA financial advisors surveyed said that their clients are accelerating capital gains. Half of their clients are increasing contributions to qualified retirement plans. When asked about wealth transfer, nearly 60 percent of CPA financial planners are recommending paying medical or education bills directly for family members, while 50 percent are recommending gifting devalued assets.

Ninety-one percent of survey respondents serve individual clients with a net worth valued up to $5 million. Sixty-four percent of PFS holders foresee a small increase in the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 over the next six months. About 53 percent expect a small increase in bond yields, while 62 percent anticipate a small decrease or no change in commercial real estate values.


Cheshire Software has expanded the estate planning features in its wealth management software product, Cheshire Wealth Manager. In addition to entering credit shelter trusts, gifting and irrevocable life insurance trusts, the updated version allows users to model various estate planning strategies, including a variety of trusts. The Cheshire Wealth Manager also enables users to apply probate costs.

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Washington, D.C. - The Obama administration has proposed legislation to Congress that would establish consistent standards for anybody who provides investment advice.

The Securities and Exchange Commission would have the authority to require a fiduciary duty for any broker, dealer or investment advisor who gives investment advice about securities, aligning the standards based on activity. In addition, the SEC would be empowered to examine and ban forms of compensation that encourage financial intermediaries to steer investors toward products that are profitable to the intermediary, but not in the investors' best interest.

The legislation would also give the SEC the authority to prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses in broker/dealer, municipal securities dealer and investment advisory agreements. The SEC would also have the authority to regulate the quality and timing of disclosures.

Also included in the bill are expanded protections for whistleblowers.


San Francisco - A new survey shows backing for 401(k) plans by senior finance and human resources executives, even though many of the plans have performed poorly during the financial crisis.

In the survey by Charles Schwab and CFO Research, 56 percent of the 219 senior executives polled gave the current 401(k) system a "B" grade. However, 80 percent said that greater access to 401(k) investment advice is more important for employees now than a year ago. Sixty-six percent believe that making broader financial education available in the workplace is more important than a year ago.

Despite negative performance, 51 percent of executives report no change in their 401(k) plan participation rate. However, 63 percent admitted that employee concerns over personal finances are creating a more difficult work environment.

Eighty-eight percent of the executives report that employees within five years of retirement are very concerned about the adequacy of their retirement planning, while 58 percent believe that employees losing confidence in the 401(k) plan is one of the most significant challenges their company will face in the coming year relative to retirement planning.

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