One of the most interesting parts of this job is identifying the common factors, or the "connecting threads," between our articles. Sometimes that's planned. Other times, it's not. But when you cover a specific industry, you're bound to see topics overlap, although hopefully from different perspectives that offer new insights. And sometimes, those connecting threads come as a surprise.

This month, the issue that reared its head more than once was a question of whether advisors truly know enough to do their jobs effectively.

The first case was in our FrontLines story. Freelancer Dave Lindorff writes that many people aren't getting the full benefit they could from Social Security. And in many cases, their advisors aren't helping because they also don't know enough about how the program works. Or, they've dismissed it as being superfluous. But as Lindorff's reporting shows, it can be a key part of your clients' retirement plans.

The other time that advisors' knowledge came into question was in our cover story, "Annuities: Making the Tough Sell." In our reporting, the issue came up of whether some annuities were so complex that advisors did not understand them. Some program managers took the attitude that complexity was part of the advisors' job. If they can't convey the intricacies of annuities, they shouldn't be working as advisors.

Part of the problem we cover this month is that advisors don't like fielding questions when they don't know the answers. Join the club; neither do journalists. But most of us have gotten past it and know we're better off feeling foolish momentarily to get the answers we need.

We have a full lineup of other great offerings too. To call your attention to just a couple, "Getting Ahead By Standing Out," is a good example of using strategy in this business. And the Careers column highlights 10 common mistakes when hiring for a bank program.

Give us your feedback, especially on topics you feel you need to know better. That will help us shape our future coverage.

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