Frequently Asked Questions
individual investors use this site or your services?
issues do your tools address?
you audit prospectuses and online tools?
a CPA firm do the math-theory auditing work?
tools do you offer?
with the name Black Cat Decisions?
with the name Broker Village and the tag line?
the company start?
your corporate mission?
would a advisor or executive use a calculator?
do the calculators cost?
there potential compliance issues?
helps advisors if they need help?
does it take to get up and running?
information be saved?
produce custom software applications?
does your gear and cog logo represent?
individual investors use your tools?
capture client information?
capture fund company or security-specific info?
What is Broker Village?
Village is an analytics and consulting firm. It is a division of Black Cat
Decisions, our holding company. We create decision-making tools and offer
consulting services to the retail financial services industry. The tools
help to analyze a firm's pricing policies and a financial advisor's book of
business. Should a B/D allow legacy trades to move to wrap accounts or a
financial advisor hire a sales assistant? As better decisions are made,
profits and net worth may rise and liabilities may fall.
Our tools and services are for executives, advisors, and
regulators. Executive-level tools display account value, total cost of
ownership, revenue, and advisor pay. Advisor tools display assets, pay, and
practice value. All tools can be customized and include consulting
services, sales material, training, and support. Results are extremely
accurate and often are audited by independent CPAs, a securities lawyer,
CTO, and CFA.
Here's what our graphics look like:
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Can individual investors use this site or your services?
and no. Our products and services are for financial service executives,
financial advisors, and regulators. If a firm that licenses our tools wants
to make them available to individual investors, it's OK with us. We will
not do so, however. Individual investors should not contact us because we
are not licensed to provide investment advice.
What issues do your
Compliance & Product Dev. Tools: Trade & Compliance Analyzer, Share Class Analyzer
Model how various pricing
structures affect a fund's competitive profile
Evaluate financial impact of
launching, closing, or re-pricing a fund
Evaluate the potential for
liability by selling DoL-Friendly Shares
Quantify account value loss,
and added cost, due to clean and T-shares
Evaluate the economic merits
of moving any client to an advisory account
Evaluate the corporate prudence
of moving select clients to advisory accounts
Evaluate conflicts of
interest at the point of sale and over time (and at other times)
Equalize pay so that a client
is indifferent between any two shares
Equalize pay so that a client
is indifferent between brokerage and advisory?
Help investors choose the
proper share class and avoid undue fees
Ensure that prospectus
suitability text is consistent with the math
Identify more quickly issues
of reverse churning (and fix them)
Identify a ?prohibited transaction?and
assess if it actually makes sense to reverse
Create far more accurate
prospectus expense examples
Evaluate financial impact of
launching, closing, or re-pricing a fund
Create competitive advisor
pay scales without conflicts of interest
Create sales material more
quickly and accurately
for Recruiting Managers and Advisors: Recruiting and
Practice Valuation Tool
Create more competitive pay
packages to recruit advisors
Compare competing offers for the
Evaluate offering a fixed payout to
a guaranteed production level
Project impact of an offer on
practice value at any future time
Evaluate how an advisor's sales mix
affects a firm's revenue
Determine optimum loan repayment
Compare bonus options tied to assets,
retention, and production
Maximize the value of an
Forge an optimal earn-out
Evaluate how returns affect
pre- and post-tax income
differentials in payouts affect net income and practice value
for Advisors: Product Mix and Convert
Move new or existing dollars
Work the back of a book
Hire a sales assistant
Partner with another advisor
Value a practice to buy or
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Why do you audit prospectuses and online tools?
fund prospectuses often contain math errors. Expense examples and
suitability text are particularly vulnerable. Call us to discuss this issue
or for a quick check of your firm's prospectuses.
verify the accuracy of online tools and sales brochures. They cover mutual
funds, 401(k)s, IRAs, RMDs, and 529s. Commonly, returns and expenses are
improperly accrued, CDSCs are miscalculated, and textual rationales are in
error. In our opinion, most of them - particularly those offered by fund
firms and B/Ds - are in need of a serious review.
Shouldn't a CPA firm do the math-theory auditing work?
No. In our
opinion, CPA firms are not well-suited for this type of intense
mathematical analysis. A CFA or math PhD - with a background in mutual fund product
development - is required. We have
two such folks on staff.
have nothing to do with a fund's audited financials, such as the income
statement, balance sheet, capital transactions, etc. Those important
elements are the rightful purview of CPAs and the big accounting firms.
Discussions of risk and how a fund operates also are extremely important.
They are the purview of the legal and compliance departments.
Then there is
hardcore mutual fund math. That?s us. Understanding the economics and
implications of their nuanced pricing profiles is required. Very few fund
and B/D executives have the requisite acumen. As a result, fee and
performance tables often are wrong. Suitability text is often misleading.
Textural discussions are often incomplete. Conflicts of interest
inadvertently are created.
To be very
granular, consider share class suitability. It can be a function of the
characteristics of the securities owned at the portfolio level.
Buying Cisco (CSCO) over Chevron (CVX) can affect which share is best for
investors. (It also affects firm revenue.)
If you are a
senior executive at a fund firm or B/D, do you know why? If not, call us to
discuss this issue or for a quick check of the suitability profile of a
share class or wrap account. Due to the extreme sensitivity of these
issues, only a firm's senior executives should call us. Our number is
What tools do you offer?
There are five that we sell actively. They run on the web or
and/or HTML. We offer several boutique tools that are written in EXCEL.
Below are descriptions of the main HTML tools.
Trade and Compliance Analyzer
the economic merit and corporate prudence of a trade?
risk assessment tool is for senior executives and financial advisors. It
can help a firm limit the potential for liability. With extreme accuracy,
it models fund and ETF trades in terms of account value, total cost of
ownership, and advisor pay. It handles traditional and clean shares, and
any mix of investor benefits like LOI, ROA, and free exchanges. Results
reflect fund- and account-level costs, like wrap fees.
can view trades through the eyes of investors, advisors, and regulators.
Quickly identify issues like conflicts of interest, reverse churning, and
prohibited transactions. As never before, you have the optics to see
problems and the tools to fix them. Use the Analyzer to set policies and
monitor advisor compliance with firm-level guidance. This tool helps
satisfy SEC due diligence requirements and the DoL?s
Impartial Conduct Standards. Results are audited. The
Federal Regulators License our Algorithms.
Share Class Calculator
fund pricing affect suitability and firm revenue?
ultra accurate account values, fees, advisor pay, and revenue for any class
of a fund. Handles any investment, breakpoint, CDSC, return, expense ratio,
cost of capital, or B-A ?flip. Investors can pick the best share. Financial
advisors can evaluate their pay. CFOs can see how pricing affects revenue.
Compliance officers can spot conflicts-of-interest and create much more
accurate prospectus expense examples. Results are audited. The
Federal Regulators License our Algorithms and This Tool.
Recruiting and Practice Valuation Tool
How do competing offers compare?
competing offers or create the most compelling one. This tool is for
recruiters and sales managers. It?s also for reps who take a check, forge
an earn-out, or sell-out completely. The tool displays gross and net
commissions, net-deal-worth, client assets, and practice value. It
considers loan terms, interest rates, forfeiture clauses, returns, client
acquisition and attrition rates, pricing profiles, before and after
pay-outs, deferred comp gained/lost, and revenue mixes (e.g., wrap fees,
commissions, planning fees, and insurance premiums). It also considers the
costs for independent reps, like overhead, licenses, rent, and ticket
Convert Assets Calculator
advisor work the back-of-a-book?
impact of converting any part of the "back-of-a-book" assets to
fee- or load-based products. Handles any returns, payout, assets, valuation
factors, and most products. Displays assets, gross and net pay, and
practice value. For example, it evaluates converting 25% of such assets to
C-shares that pay 1%/yr.
Product Mix Calculator
a sales mix affect assets, pay, and practice value?
how changing a future sales mix affects assets and pay. Handles any
returns, fee schedule, payout, book of business, and most products.
Displays assets, gross and net pay. Practice value is derived from the
results. For example, it compares moving $5 million in sales from A-shares
to C-shares and annuities.
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What's with the name Black Cat Decisions?
On the day the three founding families met to name the
company, we realized that we all had black cats as pets. (Is that a good
sign or a bad sign?) We wanted the word "decision" in the name.
That's because our software helped people make better decisions. Hence, the
name of our holding company was born: Black Cat Decisions.
Blackcomb (named after the ski mountain), was black cat number one. Mike
and Sandra's black cat was number two. Eric and Debbie's black cat was
What's with the name Broker Village and the tag line?
Fittingly, a high
producing Prudential Securities Financial Advisor suggested the name. Our
name aptly conveys this sentiment: Full-service advisors (or
"brokers") help families in very meaningful ways. With an advisor
by their side, clients are more likely to achieve their financial goals:
retiring earlier, sending a child to the school of their choice, buying a
nicer house, increasing their wealth, protecting that wealth, or leaving
more to charity.
Our tag line
is "Broker Village: When the math matters." Applying solid math
to business issues allows firms and individuals to make better decisions.
Our math is very solid. Therefore, if an issue is of import, accuracy
matters, and our firm can help. As a friend of the firm once said: ?Better
to be in command of the math than a victim of it.?
Who are your clients?
mainly are broker/dealers, federal regulators, and investment firms, like
mutual fund, annuity, insurance, and managed money firms. To a small degree
we work with law firms, CPA firms, and other entities. Most contracts
prohibit us from listing the names on our site. Our clients are brand name
Wall Street firms. Advisors are the ultimate users of about half of our
tools. In rare cases they purchase tools from us directly. Currently, our
tools and services are most popular with senior executives at B/Ds and
When did the company start?
company, Black Cat Decisions, incorporated in June 2000.
Who runs the company?
people associate with us on a full-time, part-time, or investment basis.
Several of us come out of senior positions on Wall Street. We are all
professionals with a lot of experience in our respective industries. Those
industries cover financial services, banking, consumer packaged goods,
programming, systems architecture, and consulting.
Decisions at Broker Village are made with the explicit understanding of
what it is like to be a financial advisor and/or travel in the field as a
wholesaler. In fact, several Management Committee members were advisors,
wholesalers, and/or senior executives on Wall Street. Several owners and
financial backers were, and are, successful money managers, on the mutual
fund, private investor, and hedge fund sides
What is your corporate mission?
Our mission is to be the premier provider of decision-making
tools to the retail financial services industry. Our approach is to help investment
firms work more efficiently and objectively. Users of our tools may be
financial advisors, executives at fund firms and B/Ds, and federal and
state regulators. By using our tools, our clients should see an increase in
their sales and/or a reduction in the potential for liability.
What is your philosophy?
underlying philosophy is that financial executives, advisors, and investors
can make decisions that are more objective and, thus, more profitable. With
no easy way to evaluate the long-term results of a decision, they often do
what comes easy. As the calculators demonstrate, a small change can lead to
big results. For example, with a small change to their business model,
pricing, or sales mix, an advisor can easily increase their annual
compensation by 25-50%. All they need is the "proof" to convince
them to take the required course of action.
With respect to full-service advisors, we totally support their
efforts. Moreover, the name Broker Village aptly conveys this sentiment:
full-service advisors help families in very meaningful ways. With an
advisor by their side, clients are more likely to achieve their financial
goals: retiring earlier, sending a child to the school of their choice,
buying a nicer house, increasing their wealth, protecting that wealth, or
leaving more to charity.
With respect to our advisor tools, we assume that advisors always
recommend the appropriate products and services to clients. Once determined
to be suitable, several pricing options may be available. A financial
advisor should know how their practice will be affected by the different
options. Several calculators provide that ability. Broker Village, and our
licensing firms, never suggest that an improper product or service be sold
to any client for any reason. Also, we assume that advisors ALWAYS effect
transactions that are in concert with state and federal regulatory guidance
and rules. A client?s best interests always should come first. Period.
What is a Calculator?
are unique software tools. Advisor tools display assets and pay for any
sales mix, returns, fee schedule, or payout. Executive tools can compare
current and proposed business models. Results print, save, and display in
graph and table form. These customized tools include sales ideas,
PowerPoints, training, and support.
Advisors can determine the effects of a decision before committing to a
course of action. With better decision-making abilities, their productivity
should improve. Firms can make better decisions about the products
they offer and markets they enter. Profitability could rise and the
potential for liabilities fall.?
Why would an advisor or executive use a calculator?
The calculators make their life easier. They can model the
financial results of a business decision (like an advisor converting from
commissions to fees or a firm re-pricing a share class) before committing
to a particular course of action. Hence, an advisor's productivity (i.e.,
commissions) should increase as should a firm's revenue.
How much do the calculators cost?
They are very
affordable and available only on a master license basis. A license allows a
fund firm or B/D to customize the calculators so they reflect their brand:
default values, sales ideas, logo, colors, fonts, etc. Generally, we do not
sell to individual advisors. To discuss a license, call us at 203-259-6700
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are there potential compliance issues?
Any firm that licenses a calculator should ensure that they
meet the requirements of their legal departments. Broker Village will make
any reasonable changes to the software, and to the associated marketing and
training material, to accommodate the legal needs of a client firm.
Our feeling is that the calculators are best used in conjunction with a
training module or educational presentation. By themselves, the calculators
do not convey the proper perspective. An advisor never should make an
investment recommendation to a client based solely on their compensation.
Hence, Broker Village strongly urges all client firms to make the
calculators part of an overall campaign that supports the efforts of
full-service advisors and helps them work with clients more effectively.
Who helps advisors if they need help?
Once a firm licenses a calculator, they "own" it.
They are responsible for training and support of the financial advisors if
the tool is meant for advisors. In this regard, Broker Village would prefer
not to speak with advisors directly. Broker Village will "train the
trainer" at XYZ fund company or PDQ broker/dealer. It is XYZ's or
PDQ's responsibility to support the advisors that access the calculators.
However, if an XYZ or PDQ person has a question, they can call or email us,
especially if there is technology concern.
How long does it take to get up and running?
It depends on the tool. Consider
the new Trade and Compliance Analyzer. You can go live almost immediately
with the BV-branded version. Your branded version and other deliverables
take a few weeks. One client went live one day after contract approval. We
provide onsite and online training to ensure that you?re fully versed in
how to use the tool.
the information be saved?
and no. Some tools have a save feature and others do not. For those that
do, while a session is live, information is saved. There is a save button,
but it must be clicked; nothing saves automatically. Further, some
calculators transfer information to other ones. For example, if you enter
$500,000 for Gross Commissions in the Convert Assets Calculator, when you
open the Product Mix Calculator, that $500,000 already is there. If you do
not click save, once you close out of the calculators, the information is
lost. Once the tools reopen, the default values appear, not your personal
Do you produce custom software applications?
can, but we usually don't. Please contact us at 203-259-6700 or email us at
What does your gear and cog logo represent?
logo is a rendition of the mechanism that was a central component of the
very first calculators. Thus, it represents our product line: the
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Can individual investors use your tools?
No and yes. Our products are for
financial advisors and financial service executives. If an advisor or firm
that licenses our tools wants to make them available to individual
investors, it's OK with us. We will not do so because we are not licensed
to provide investment advice. All risk and liability is on the shoulders of
the firm or investment advisor, not us.
Do you capture client
No. No client information of any
type is ever captured by our products.
capture company specific info?
company-specific information is ever captured by Broker Village. For
example, if an advisor sells XYZ Funds, Broker Village never knows.