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Smartleaf Blog Greatest Hits

Six months after starting our blog, we look back at our most popular posts.


We send out weekly emails containing short essays on wealth management and collect those essays in a blog on our website. We were curious about which topics most interested our readers. So we looked at the essays that attracted the most visits to our website. Here they are  a “greatest hits” collection  as well as a few that we think may have fallen through the cracks.

We invite your feedback. Tell us your favorites. Criticize the clunkers. And let us know if you think there are topics we missed.

These were our most popular posts:

  1. Differentiate Or Die: Advisors are in trouble if they base their value proposition solely on services that robos can provide just as well, like asset allocation, security selection and rebalancing. This piece grew out of a conversation we had with Wealthfront at a conference.
  2. Ultimate Guide To Sleeves Part 1 & Part 2: A surprise hit. A decision maker’s guide to the pros and cons of sleeve-level accounting, rebalancing and reporting. The topic is “wonkish”, but the sleeve vs. sleeveless (holistic) decision is central to your practice. Sleeves help you provide sleeve-level performance. A sleeveless approach helps you control dispersion and tax. Which is more important?
  3. Client Spotlight: INTRUST Bank: We highlight a client who last year saved their clients, on average, over 4% of portfolio value. We’re pretty sure this makes INTRUST a national leader in tax-efficient investing.
  4. Fee Compression Is Exaggerated: We don’t doubt pressure on fees is real, but the pressure doesn’t yet appear to be showing up in the form of lower fees. Instead, firms are resisting the pressure by improving services.  
  5. Direct Indexes Are Better than ETFs: ETFs outperform 80% to 90% of actively managed vehicles. That's great, but on an after-tax basis, ETFs underperform Direct Indexes.

And here are a few that weren’t hits the first time around, but which we think are worth a second look:

  1. Channel Your Inner Five-Year-Old: It turns out that a lot of wealth management practices, especially for rebalancing and customization, are there not because it’s the way advisors really want to manage portfolios, but because of practical constraints that no longer exist. We encourage advisors to step back and examine why they do things the way they do.
  2. The Art of Centralized Rebalancing: We offer a guide to creating an efficient central trading group. Centralizing rebalancing is more efficient than having every advisor rebalance their own book. It frees up advisors to spend more time with clients and prospects. And it supports higher (yes, higher) levels of customization and tax management.  
  3. You're Not Demanding Enough of Your Vendors: Go beyond features and service levels. Challenge your vendors to help you achieve your goals. It’s a win-win.  
  4. Compliance Like It’s 1959: In manufacturing, “lean producers” build quality directly into the manufacturing process rather than rely on “quality inspectors” at the end of the assembly line to catch errors. Wealth management can take a cue from manufacturing by building compliance directly into its processes rather than relying on after-the-fact compliance reports.
  5. Excuse Us While We Brag About Our Clients: Our clients did a remarkable job of tax management in 2016, saving an average of 1.57% of their tax-managed book. And they have the ability to document this value to investors.

What have we missed?

Think we got something wrong or missed an interesting topic? Let us know. Email us at We’d love to hear from you.


For more on this topic, check out An Index to Smartleaf's Top Blog Posts.


President, Co-Founder