After we published our top 50 Bank Advisors list last month, a couple of advisors who didn't make the list pointed out that it was essentially based on "old" data. I noted that all data is old, otherwise it would be a projection, which I thought was somewhat meaningful. But based on the reaction, I realized that I should have said to wait until our Outlook issue in January because that would be, well, a look ahead into the new year and beyond.

Regular contributor Lauren Barack talked to a litany of experts to get their opinions on the market and the bank channel in the coming year. Here are a few of her conclusions: there will be a heightened focus on keeping clients as they grow wealthier instead of losing them to wirehouses; there will be a greater need than ever for bank advisors to segment their books; and advisors will look harder at the advent of their own retirement. As for the markets, the consensus was, first half not so good, second half not so bad. You can read the rest of her findings in greater detail.

We have other good offerings as well. Two articles take on the complexity of financial products commonly used by bank advisors: ETFs and variable annuities. Variable annuities have long been criticized for being complicated, and ETFs for getting more so. And then check out the Careers article  on how to plan and set goals. Regular contributor Rick Rummage gives a tutorial on how to set goals and become a winner at work and in life.

One of our more interesting articles this month comes from Associate Editor Margarida Correia on a new online tool called Face Retirement offered by Merrill Edge. It takes a photo of a person and then adds a few decades. It's the latest attempt to get mass-affluent consumers to save more for retirement and could have significant behavioral implications if it's the nudge that finally works.

Enjoy the lineup of articles and let us know your thoughts on any or all of them.

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