We're wrapping up our reviews of 2011, drinking egg nog and occupying an RIA

December 23, 2011 — 2:02 AM UTC by Brooke Southall

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Brooke’s Note: Merry Christmas to RIABiz readers from Brussels to Boise. You keep us in the spirit all year long.

Over the holidays I actually draw physically closer to the RIA business as I seat myself at a spare desk at a friend’s advisory firm in Portland, Maine and get to observe the everyday rhythms that usually just exist for me in surveys and quoted comments.

I am always struck by how few clients call in during any type of market conditions; but that the ones who do really make their point. I am also struck by the nature of the conversations. The fellows working in my midst have high-level Wall Street experience, top educations and a long tenure as financial advisors. They invest on a sophisticated level and their clients are all high net worth.

RIA life

But the advisors don’t often get to flex these master-of-universe muscles in client conversations. It’s all about the basics — staying conservatively invested, but staying invested. It’s a mantra that can never be repeated too much. In other words, it’s work. It makes me realize how much of their being as well as knowledge needs to get invested to keep a roster of clients sleeping over their holiday break.

To write this article in a holiday atmosphere and edit some articles for next week, I have found a coffee shop on Exchange Street with a French name but which — true to its Maine roots — serves potato doughnuts.

A couple of blocks away from here, there are some Occupy Portland men and women who are probably glad that this Dec. 22 is bringing a nearly tropical temperatures to the East Coast. There was a minor ruckus when one Occupier yesterday put a sign on the local Morgan Stanley branch that said: “Time for you to go.” Yes, Wall Streeters (even ones with traces of Maine accents) and people who sleep on Portland streets are not yet sharing the holiday love.

On another Portland street note, an anonymous Santa Claus walked the line of a local soup kitchen handing out envelopes with $100 bills enclosed. A common reaction of the poor people in the line was to burst into tears, according to The Portland Press Herald. The benefactor makes these rounds annually in the Greater Portland area and gave out about $20,000 last year.

L.L. Bean

A few other signs of Christmas here in Maine: some Christmas trees that would make Charlie Brown proud. It’s because some people tend to chop balsam firs on their own land and they haven’t been pruned to a fine plumpness. Yesterday we got a dousing of freezing rain and cars were sliding into every ditch. During this weather, my mother took a shopping trip to nearby L.L. Bean and it was quiet as an Ames store on a February Tuesday.

On another note, I’ve been woken by gunshots every morning — the product of duck hunters’ shotgun detonations on Lane’s Island just offshore where my family lives.

Meanwhile, Nevin has headed up to Ashland, Ore., to be with his parents; Dina is celebrating the holiday in New York; Frank is with his family in San Anselmo and holding down the RIABiz fort in Mill Valley; and Lisa is getting very rural in Indiana. Heather is planning a bit of a comeback as our tech reviewer and she’s at home in Seattle right now after a semester in Boulder, Colo. She used her Seattle time to look at Tamarac’s software upgrade so stay tuned for her written thoughts. We’re all gearing down a bit for the coming days.

Dina just visited the RIABiz office in California last week and she will write up her thoughts. Besides her usual editing chores, she was working on creating a list of the 10 most influential people in the RIA business. Final touches are being applied.

Shadow business

As I sit here, I realize I keep looking out at the sidewalk of this cafe. It’s a habit. I typically have my black lab, Shadow, with me and tied to a parking meter when I work in a cafe but he stayed back in California. He’s also a big part of RIABiz (he’s on our Tweet photo) and If you live near Sausalito and like walking on beaches with 120-pound dogs, let me know.

Happy holidays to all.

Final Note: Think you have Christmas gift issues? One of the advisors here is working on buying his dad pre-season Red Sox tickets for a Fort Meyers, Fla. game at 11,000-seat JetBlue park. Listed prices are $10 for a lawn seat and $46 for a box seat. They just went on sale Saturday. They’re already sold out and lawn seats are going for $45 and box seats $125 and up on Stubhub.

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Chris Whitney said:

December 23, 2011 — 4:19 PM UTC

Glad you are in Maine…just wish we had some snow for you! Happy Holidays!

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