Choosing a custodian relationship is one of, if not THE single most important decision any new registered investment advisor must make. It should not be taken lightly. There are many custodians in the marketplace - not all will be the right fit for your business. To explore the process of choosing the best custodial relationship, I had the opportunity to catch up with industry experts and thought leaders Joel Bruckenstein and Craig Iskowitz to have them weigh in on the top questions they believe breakaways or new RIAs should consider asking potential custodians.
Everything nowadays is all about the “experience.” Why should wealth management be any different? It shouldn’t be. Advisors should strive to provide clients with exceptional financial experiences. Unfortunately, we find that within the realm of the wealth management industry, the financial experience process has been slow to catch up with 21st century standards.
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I’m a data quality specialist. I work with wealth management firms every day to ensure that their information is accurate and accessible on the AdvisorEngine platform. However, it’s not all about facts and figures. As any good financial advisor knows, success in wealth management requires ‘intangibles’ such as good leadership. Below is my perspective on what good leadership means, and how to know if your leadership is translating to the rest of your team. I apply these to our data quality team, but these ideas are applicable across a wide variety of organizations and goals. I hope you find it thought-provoking.
A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away) I was a financial advisor. I’m proud of many things that I achieved - but with the benefit of hindsight, I realize that there are some things I could have done differently. I’ll share with you now the biggest mistakes I made as a financial advisor and how to avoid them. My hope is that this will serve as valuable advice for those in the advisory role and also as a guide for those who are seeking financial advice.
This year the SEC provided a steady stream of guidance illustrating which compliance and governance programs worked and which ones fell short. To help you plan for 2020, we have distilled the highlights in this Regulatory Year in Review. As you study enforcement cases, rule proposals and risk alerts, you’ll see there are trends for RIAs to consider in the year ahead.
I feel fortunate to work with Carly de Diego. She brings positivity and intensity to her role as Chief Client Officer. Her leadership directly benefits the wealth management firms that use our technology every day. So it’s well-deserved that Carly is getting some industry attention. Just this week alone, she was interviewed by leadership publication Authority Magazine and received special recognition from a group called NYC Fintech Women.
Technology has entered every part of my life. At home, I am surrounded by it. In the kitchen cooking, throwing in a load of laundry or helping my kids with homework - everything requires something digital to function. At the office, my Macbook has replaced all my old tools - pen, paper, scanner, and fax. On the road, I’ve got something high-tech in my pocket, on my wrist, in my car - the list goes on and on. Everything has a screen and buttons to push. It’s no wonder that a new digital age has entered wealth management.
I’m a millennial. So it should come as no surprise that I like texting. But it’s not just millennials who prefer texting as their go-to form of communication. Did you know that 89% of all consumers prefer to use messaging to communicate with businesses? Texts have a 98% open rate and 90% of these are read within 3 minutes of receipt. These numbers are astonishing. It’s no wonder that financial advisors are thrilled with Junxure’s latest integration with MyRepChat. MyRepChat reports this new integration allows advisors to communicate with clients via text while fulfilling important compliance requirements.
Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to literally thousands of companies and financial advisory firms about technology - especially in my current role selling CRM software. Technology is powerful. Technology can make or break user experience. Technology can reduce costs associated with data capture and analysis. Technology can increase advisor productivity. Technology can free up time so you can focus on deepening client relationships. Who wouldn’t want that? While choosing new technology is one thing, implementing it is another. Neither should be done without careful consideration.
Saturdays are made for soccer. I’ve found myself looking forward to Saturdays all fall. It’s when I get to watch my seven year-old daughter take the pitch. It also doesn’t hurt that we have been fortunate with perfect, crisp, fall weather to go along with the play. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting a grandfather on the sidelines. He was in town visiting one of the other players. For the purpose of this article, I’ll call the grandfather “Sam.” After exchanging pleasantries, Sam asked, “What do you do?” I gave him my brief headline and quickly responded, “What do you do, Sam?” It turns out Sam is a florist. I found my conversation with Sam the florist enlightening and worth reflecting on.
Do you remember the last time you read an actual newspaper? Or printed out a map to get you where you needed to go? How about shopping? Did you go to the actual store or simply visit Amazon.com? Think about the now-enormous Amazon. Jeff Bezos launched it out of his garage 24 years ago. The website officially opened for business as an online bookseller but now functions as an e-commerce giant. It’s unbelievable to look back at changes this website has undergone over the years. We can all learn an important lesson from Amazon and its website; change can be good, change can be productive and most importantly, change can help us grow.
The financial technology space is expanding. In 2018 alone, FinTech companies raised a record $39.6 billion in funding, up 120% from the previous year. Much of this funding went toward the development of new products and services. But how exactly does this FinTech product development process work? A common analogy for the product development process is operating an assembly line. Ideas go in one side and products come out the other. The shortcoming of this analogy is that it describes a very linear activity - whereas the actual product development process is fluid and iterative.
Are you maximizing the benefits of your Client Relationship Management (CRM) tools? CRM and the customer experience is arguably the most powerful tool in the advisor-client relationship. Advisors spend more minutes of the day on CRM than any other part of the value chain. There are several features every advisory firm should be maximizing for top return on investment (ROI). By utilizing the following key CRM components, you can deliver best-in-class service – most of these factors occasionally get overlooked:
These days everybody is talking about design thinking and user experience (UX) - but what does it really mean and why is it essential? More importantly, how can it be applied to wealth management and financial advice experiences? Design-driven organizations engage in a human-centered design methodology. As the name implies, human-centered design focuses on the human.
What a week. After reviewing the feedback on this year’s event, I feel confident saying that >drive2019 was our best yet. There are dozens of wealth management conferences out there, but this one ranks as my favorite industry event. Two essential elements make it stand out: The strength of the community 💪 The actionable information that attendees take back to their offices to implement 💡📝 Below is a rundown of the 2019 event. Don't miss out next year! Our >drive2020 event will take place October 7th through October 9th, 2020 at the Austin Marriott Downtown. Register TODAY!
How (and why) DHG Wealth Advisors shifted their focus from transactions to relationships. These days, wealth managers are always thinking about how to plan for and adapt to tomorrow’s realities and position for long-term growth. No matter how hard you plan and position, the work to achieve growth cannot be done without some help along the way. At the heart of most wealth management firms, an Operations Manager can be found working hard to establish efficiencies and consistency in service.
Back when I was a young investor, like most self-confident, burgeoning people, I felt I could choose my own stocks. Yes, yes, I know - you can’t expect old heads to rest on young shoulders, but nonetheless that’s my excuse. Like most stock pickers, I had a general record of mediocrity punctuated by occasional flashes of success, or more often, highly entertaining failure. My very first pick has haunted me for years. Being a beginner and a small-fry, I didn’t have a whole lot to diversify as I only had a small amount to invest. So I sank in my entire fortune of $1,000 into a UK stock that was trading on the New York exchange. Overall the stock had a solid record and great prospects. I watched it daily, awaiting imminent riches.
Every year, financial advisors have the opportunity to attend a multitude of industry conferences held across the country, and our choices seem to be growing every year. And no matter where your office is located, these conferences are an investment of time and money. If you’re sending multiple members of your staff, which I encourage, you’re looking at a potential impact on your day-to-day business. If those reasons are giving you pause to attend, you’re not alone. Among my friends and colleagues, I am always surprised by how many advisors never go to these events. The value of these cannot be overstated – the education component, combined with the incredible networking opportunities to talk to other advisors and business owners about their challenges and solutions are truly invaluable.
Growing up as a multiple sport athlete, I really never had an appreciation for the umpires and referees. That is, until I went to college, where I had the opportunity to work in the intramural department. All of a sudden, I was on the other side. I was the one calling the strikes, balls and fouls – making judgment calls. Wow! What an eye opener, I certainly gained a new level of respect for those that hold that position as a career. As I reflect back on that period of time, the stress of making the right calls and the added pressure of being a female in that role - I can’t help but think of Sarah Thomas. Sarah changed the game in the world’s most quintessential male-dominated sport – football - when she became the first female NFL official. Now she’s inspiring others to dream big and believe anything is possible.
Based in Penryn, California west of the lofty Sierra range, Karsten Dornseif makes up half of the two-man fee-only RIA shop of Bowers Wealth Management, Inc. While the firm’s office is based over the mountains and state line in Reno, Nevada, Mr. Dornseif finds himself working virtually much of the time from his California home office amidst five and a half idyllic rural acres. In working online he takes full advantage of cloud-based version of Junxure CRM—the only version of the venerable brand he has known. “I use it for everything that isn’t a number,” he said, noting that it was an indispensable repository for all the firm’s client data.
As the seasons change and holidays come and go, it's very important that you keep in touch with your clients in different ways. Newsletters can be an effective tool for doing so – allowing you to deepen relationships with your existing client base and connect with new prospects. By using your CRM (Client Relationship Management) system effectively, you can deliver newsletters in an organized and thoughtful way. One challenge of delivering quality newsletters is dealing with scattered information. Most financial advisory firms store data all over the place - within portfolio management systems, custodian portals, windows files folders, email systems. Wouldn’t it be great to collect this data all in one spot? Imagine if all of your client information could be found in one place - it sure would make sending any and all communications easier. Based on my experience serving financial advisors, below is my perspective on how to harness your CRM to deliver a great newsletter.
These days, financial advisors have options - new technologies that provide competitive advantages. Tools that enable online, automated investment management services that are key to attracting the next generation of investors. Smart advisors realize this paradigm change in the wealth management industry. An industry traditionally operated through face-to-face interactions - now quickly shifting toward digital tools where real-time algorithms provide customers with financial advice and manage investment portfolios. When launching a successful digital strategy from the ground up, there are many things you must consider. By aligning your team and focusing on client experience, you can maximize your chances of success. If you are considering a digital offering strategy, here are some ideas that you can take and implement into your financial advisory practice:
For every advisor, technology plays an increasingly important role in how we run our businesses. Whether you have someone in-house or you outsource your IT support, investing in your technology tools should be a key part of your business plan. That includes choosing the right systems, implementing them efficiently, training for your team, and last but not least, regularly assessing your tools to determine if they are still serving you as your business evolves. At the pace technology moves today, advisors can’t afford to get behind the times. Similarly to how we review a financial plan for a client on an annual basis, making sure their objectives still align with their plan, I recommend shutting your door once a year and really taking a close look at your technology plan to ensure you’re still on the best path to success. New generations of investors, whose expectations and preferences are shaped by new technologies, have brought new standards to the industry in terms of how advice and investment products are being delivered. When wealth management technology is used to power modern growth, it has a potential boom for investors and advisors alike. When reviewing your technology plan, ask yourself these 5 questions:
A recent visit to the doctor's office made me think about the importance of technology in creating great client experiences. From my appointment confirmation to meeting with several doctors, it was almost seamless. It should be no different in wealth management. Financial advisory firms need to embrace technology in order to deliver a great client experience. Here are my top five reasons why your firm should digitize:
Compliance norms change constantly. They change as business innovates and regulatory priorities and leadership shifts. Summer 2019 was rife with developments advisors should understand and then consider the 3 action steps below:
“What’s dangerous is not to evolve.” Jeff Bezos Over the past few years, my perspective on serving smaller balance relationships has changed. Whereas I once saw them as cumbersome and expensive to serve, I now view them as a high potential growth area for wealth managers. Over the last 20+ years, many advisors moved upmarket in large part by raising account minimums and pushing off smaller balance accounts. I myself subscribed to this strategy - it was a smart, disciplined way to achieve profitable growth. But the marketplace has changed. Now, by using smart segmentation and digital wealth technology, advisors can profitably cultivate smaller balance relationships..
You know the prospects you want, kids of good clients or spouses with a 401(k); you don’t want to turn them away but how can you serve them cost-effectively? Sophisticated wealth management firms on a growth trajectory—or those seeking to hit a growth stride—are taking a hard look at ways technology can both cut costs and increase efficiency.
We live in a knowledge economy. Now more than ever, it’s important to cultivate a culture of knowledge sharing at your wealth management firm.
If you’re an operations leader at a wealth management firm looking to modernize your trading and rebalancing - you’re in luck. AdvisorEngine has gone live with a new and ambitious trading integration: an end-to-end trade support cycle that leverages Smartleaf’s model-driven rebalancing capabilities with BNY Mellon’s Pershing technology - combined with AdvisorEngine know-how. AdvisorEngine integrates across multiple custodians, enabling advisors to embrace innovation without disrupting their business.
It’s no surprise that the most successful financial planners are lifelong learners. But given the rapid pace of change in the industry – and the sheer amount of content out there – keeping up can feel overwhelming at times. I’ve found plenty of suggestions out there about what to read (for example: check here, or here or here) …but I haven’t read anything written recently about how to learn – especially when you feel intimidated or behind-the-curve. Here are my suggestions on how to conquer learning anxiety.
Here’s a secret - most financial advisors do not use digital marketing effectively. They say things like:
This operations and compliance coordinator started running during her lunch breaks. 11 marathons and 75 half-marathons later, Christy Rogers has hit her stride as a leader🏃
Financial advisors face countless challenges in their daily practices – especially in this day and age. In order to implement a broader technology strategy at your firm, you must approach it from a technology as well as a business standpoint. Analyze how your business can benefit from the use of technology.
You know that you want to modernize your firm’s technology. But how much does wealth management technology cost? Knowledge is power: after reading this guide, you’ll be a smart buyer – and understand the true ‘all-in’ cost of advisor technology. 10 Factors to Consider Beyond ‘Standard Pricing’ By considering the following ten factors, you’ll make your next technology purchase with your eyes wide open: