There are soooooo many great insights in this "recorded live at a conference" episode. Listen in!
Transcripts of Conversations
Guest #1: Joel Bruckenstein on ... the T3 / Inside Information Technology Survey, the 'machine versus human' debate, and more
Marie Swift: Hello, we're here at the MarketCounsel Summit in Las Vegas. I'm joined now by Joel Bruckenstein of T3 and Joel, you and a panel just spoke about technology and what is right and wrong as far as the providers and what advisors need. So maybe give us a couple of highlights. What happened from the stage?
Joel Bruckenstein: Well, I think there were a couple of interesting points we made. One was this debate about machine versus human. You know, what things are advisors still going to be doing 10 years from now, and what things are going to get taken over by machines. There's a lot of talk about data and who owns the data, and I think a lot of advisors are frustrated that there's no standardization of data across the providers.
Some of them are optimistic that that's easy to fix. It's not a technology problem, quite frankly. It's an IP problem people want to control their own intellectual property and they don't want to share it with others, and I think a lot of the vendors believe that they have a competitive advantage by controlling data, but I think increasingly in the future, there's going to be more and more pushback from advisors.
Swift: In thinking about all of the panels yesterday, yours was one of the more controversial because some of the panelists begged to differ with one another and actually I remember somebody saying, Joel, you're wrong. Who were your panelists and what did you appreciate about the conversation?
Bruckenstein: Well, first of all, Craig was wrong, Craig Iskowitz. But yes, when I do a panel, I want to have a conversation. I feel the best panels are the ones where I feel like, it's in the evening and we're sitting down having a cocktail and having the same conversations. We're just trying to have it in front of an audience and when you have great panelists like I did, who are very accomplished and very experienced, you know, good things happen.
Swift: So, you had Craig Iskowitz from Ezra Group who were the other panelists?
Bruckenstein: Kartik Srinivasan of Schwab, and of course the one and only Oleg.
Swift: Oleg, he doesn't even have a last name because he is like Elvis.
Bruckenstein: He doesn't need a last name. Everybody knows who Oleg is. (Editor's note: Oleg's last name is Tishkevich.)
Swift: Okay, let's shift gears. The T3 / Inside Information technology survey is out now. It's in the field. What can we expect this year from the survey and also the conferences coming up in 2023?
Bruckenstein: So, as you know we run the survey every year. It is the most comprehensive survey in the industry.
Last year we had about 5,000 responses. Hopefully, if everybody looking at this participates, we'll have even more respondents this year and we release the results of the survey at the T3 conference every year. So, it'll be somewhere between five and six o'clock eastern time, I would suspect on March 13th at the T3 conference, and I don't know what to expect yet. That's why we're doing the survey.
Swift: It's at the JW Marriott, I think the dates are March 13th through 16th. There's a BOGO + Early Bird rate going on right now only till December 15th. Right?
Bruckenstein: Right. That's for advisors at this point. So, you know, advisors always ask why we don't tape the sessions, we don't tape the sessions because a lot of our speakers feel more comfortable speaking if they're not being taped and if you want to see two concurrent sessions, bring two people and we're making it as affordable as possible so between now and the 15th of December, you can go to the website www.T3conferences.com and you can get a two for the price of one. If you can have a second colleague who's either spending time in the exhibit hall, which we recommend you spend a lot of time in the exhibit hall, trying new technology or going to sessions.
Swift: And speaking of the exhibit hall, Bob Veres is one of the ones who keeps saying it's worth it to go to T3 for just the exhibit hall alone. Although there's great content, great sessions. The exhibit hall is like a pop-up city of all of the latest and greatest.
Talk a little bit about the exhibit hall experience and the content.
Bruckenstein: Well, I think one of the things that makes T3 different from just about any other conference is, from day one, we wanted the exhibit hall to be part of the center of the conference. So, what does that mean? It means if you want to buy technology, you should have some hands-on experience.
You should actually be able to touch it and feel it and demo it in person before you buy it. The other thing is we don't want salespeople there. We tend to have the principles of the firms in the booths to be able to answer questions, not just about the technology, but also about the culture of the firm and the roadmap of the firm for the future.
There's not a lot of conferences where you can see the developers and the presidents of the firm standing in booths and at T3 you can.
Swift: And I also know that T3 is known for solutions, hatching up mergers and innovation and just the exhibitors working amongst themselves, not just the advisors coming to give feedback. Talk about that dynamic.
Bruckenstein: Yeah. There's always a lot of collaboration between the exhibitors and the exhibit hall. So, sometimes it's finishing up a project, sometimes it's talking about new integration, sometimes it's about mergers and acquisitions. All those things happen at T3, and I think for most of the leading tech vendors, the time when they release all of their new stuff for the year is at T3.
I know there's going to be some major, major product announcements already coming in March.
Swift: And are you able to talk a little bit about any early information on speakers or anything new at T3 this year?
Bruckenstein: I can't say a lot at this point. You know, we have a bestselling author coming to tell a really interesting story who has his roots in our industry.
We have an expert from Harvard coming to talk about blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and I think that's very relevant given what's given what's in the news, right now. We have some other surprises in store that I'm just not at liberty to talk about yet, but I can guarantee we have some great speakers lined up.
Swift: All right, so be there Tampa in the middle of March 2023. Go to T3conferences.com to learn more. Joel, thanks for being here.
Guest #2: Craig Iskowitz on ... Artificial Intelligence, Predictive Analytics, the problem with integrations and more
Marie Swift: All right, we're back. We're here at the MarketCounsel Summit in Las Vegas, and I'm joined now by one of the panelists, Craig Iskowitz, and Craig, you're with the Ezra Group, correct? Tell us a little bit about the panel from the conference yesterday.
Craig Iskowitz: This was a panel I've been bugging Brian Hamburger to do for years. I said, we need more tech at the MarketCounsel Summit. He agreed. So, we got this panel. It was an all-star cast with me, Joel Bruckenstein, Oleg Tishkevich, and Kartik Srinivasan from Schwab. It was a really great panel talking about technology innovation in the advisory space.
Swift: So, one of the things I appreciated about the panel is it, it was lively, and you begged to differ. In fact, were you the guy who said, "Joel, you're wrong"?
Iskowitz: Oh, yeah, I tell Joel he is wrong all time. So, he's used to hearing that. But I think we're talking about data aggregation and it's something, as you know, at Ezra Group, we're a technology strategy firm, but we do a lot of research as well, and data aggregation is an area we research a lot and it's very hard to compare vendors and we do a lot of vendor comparisons, competitive analysis, but with data aggregation, you don't really know because it's all behind the scenes. There's nothing to see or to look at.
All the vendors have different strengths and weaknesses in the area, and we find that a lot of firms that are using these data aggregation tools will pick and choose, maybe work with multiple (tools) to make an aggregated solution, an aggregator of aggregators, if you will, because there's always gaps in those different products.
So, I think Joel was talking about how they're doing really well, but I was saying, well, they're not doing quite as well as you think, but as long as people get what they need eventually, then we're all good.
Swift: So, you talked about integration just briefly. Tell us a little bit about the innovation that you've come up with at Ezra Group, the Integration Score.
Iskowitz: At Ezra Group, in February of next year will be our 18th year in business, and all we do is wealth management, so we've seen a lot.
Half our clients are broker dealers, asset managers, RIAs, RIA aggregators and so on, who want us or help advising them on what software to use and how to use it better. The only half of our clients are the FinTech vendors themselves who want to know how they can sell more to these different firms and how their product can be better, what the gaps are, who they're competing against, go-to-market strategies and other things.
So, by seeing these two vendors and doing implementations of software and, and optimizing software, we see one of the big issues is integrations. They never work right. The vendors always overpromise. They'll throw a bunch of logos up on their website. We don't know what they do. It's hard to find out when you actually get there, they don't do what they say they did. It always costs more and takes longer.
We thought we need to do something about this so, one thing we we've done is create the Ezra Group WealthTech Integration Score, where we scored 300 of the vendors that are on the Kitces / Ezra Group tech map, which I do with Michael Kitces, we partner on the map, which shows sort the place map of the landscape of all the applications in our space.
We took 300 of them and scored their integrations on a one to 10. With the methodology, which is available on our website, EzraGroupLLC.com. You can see it's all open how we do our methodology.
Whether you're any wealth management firm, when you're looking for different vendors, you've got this score now, which is just one more criterion when you're picking a vendor that shows you, for example: these guys do integrations a little better maybe than this other firm does.
So, we did a lot of research doing a lot of calling, a lot of surveys to find out exactly what each vendor's integration capabilities were across breadth, depth, and technology support.
So, it's a very useful tool we found from everyone who seems to like it, helping them pick different vendors to understand more about their integrations.
Swift: You also have a popular blog and podcast. Talk a little bit about that.
Iskowitz: Oh, not as popular as your podcast here. I'm grateful to be on the Impact Swift Chat.
We do a blog and podcast. They're both called WealthTech Today, and it's available on www.WealthTechToday.com or on through our website, EzraGroupLLC.com.
It's just giving back to the industry, you know, talking about things you think are interesting. We do a lot of writing about different trends that are going on, and I like to interview people who have interesting things to say.
We have a bunch of different themes in our, in our podcast, whether it's different types of products or different categories of advisor tech. Now also different themes of trends we're seeing. So, we try to present that information in an easy to consume way that lets everyone know that we know what we're talking about and that helps them understand that better.
Swift: One of which I was thinking one of your blog posts was about artificial intelligence and machine learning. Is that a series that you're doing right now?
Iskowitz: It is we're doing a series on predictive analytics, and we were interviewing a leader in the space Henry Zelikovsky from Softlab360, and they are an outsource provider of predictive analytics capability so you can outsource that to them.
They will build software for you, or they'll manage these predictive analytics platforms for you, and we're seeing a lot more of that in our space. Driving next best action tools and driving other types of analytics and reporting. Henry works with a lot of other firms.
Firms like Envestnet and Orion are doing something similar, but they're really big. They can afford to hire people on staff to build out their predictive analytics, but lots of other firms can't.
They go to a firm like Henry's where they can outsource it and still gain the benefits of looking across their user base or across their advisor base and gathering data and coming up with results or next best actions, ideas of how to help advisors do the jobs better.
So, firms like that we're seeing playing a bigger role in our industry and making advisors lives easier and their jobs more effective and their advice more relevant to their clients.
Swift: Well, Craig, anything else in closing?
Iskowitz: I can talk all day if you have other questions.
Swift: No, but I do think we have a free evening tonight.What are you planning to do here in Las Vegas?
Iskowitz: I plan on being on a plane at 4:40 and flying to Denver, and I'm going snowboarding for the weekend.
Swift: Oh, there you go. That sounds lovely. Well, I'm going to see a Cirque du Soleil show - who can resist?
Iskowitz: I certainly would. If I was here, I'd be going with you.
Swift: All right. Craig Iskowitz, thank you for being here.
Guest #3: Shannon Rosic on ... Authenticity, digital communication, and other modern marketing techniques
Marie Swift: All right, we are back. We're here at the MarketCounsel Summit. I'm joined by Shannon Rosic, and Shannon, you are with Informa, right?
Shannon Rosic: Yes. I can't seem to sit still in this industry, so this is actually my first week on the new job. I'll be the director of WealthStack content and solutions for Informa.
So, I always say, Mark Bruno snagged me again.
Swift: Well, there you go. I know that I have known you over the years in a number of different iterations, but we always have such lovely conversations. And speaking of lovely, you had a great panel today on modern marketing. What were some of the key highlights?
Rosic: Absolutely. I was very lucky to have an all-star panel of Tony Stich, Candace Carlton, and Matt Middleton, who all bring very unique perspectives to that panel around modern marketing. The biggest thing that we discussed was around authenticity. Marketing is truly become digital, but as we know, our industry is still very human, and relationship based.
So, how do you ultimately marry those two things and still bring your authentic self? Because at the end of the day, people want to work with people. Knowing that marketing has become very scientific, you need to track the ROI, you need to be a sales enablement tool, and you need to be able to show how your efforts are ultimately driving business growth and revenue.
How do you bring your authentic self to the scientific aspect of marketing. It's no longer kind of that 'spray and pray' or 'nailing Jello to a wall.' Matt actually said something very interesting that I thought resonated. He said, you know, I'm at the point now where 70% of my budget for marketing I know that works, and then I set aside another 30% to just try things. If they don't work, that's okay. It's okay to fail. I think that's where a lot of people get tripped up is that fear of putting yourself out there is scary. We're in an industry where we've had to conform a lot, use the jargon, look a certain way, speak a certain way.
That's really no longer the case. Again, people want to work with people, they're out there researching you. You need to meet them where they are. So, you know if they're watching video, if they're reading your blogs, it's that customer journey isn't linear anymore.
They want to be able to research you and, and when they ultimately come to you, they've pretty much already decided that they're probably going to work with you. Based on what your presence looks like online, because let's be honest, we spend majority of our time on our phones and our computers, and that's where the real world is now.
So, you need to be having that presence. By bringing your authentic self to all that.
Swift: You know, the other thing I thought was important is that when you are creating content, create it for your current clients, because that's going to attract prospective clients, it’s also a way to keep you from being poachable.
I mean, I guess poachable, is that a word? But you know, there are people out there all the time trying to poach our clients. So, if we're creating content for them to add value, then that does a double purpose, right? You can just put it on a publicly available channel.
Rosic: Oh, absolutely I think that gets lost in translation a little bit, that you still need to be marketing to people you've already brought on board.
They're not just this forgotten segment. Oh, you've joined like, great, now you're with me. Absolutely not. You need to be creating content for them as well, while also reaching out to your specific niche or, or whoever you're trying to go after. So completely agree with, with that, because I do think that gets lost a little bit.
Swift: You know, the other thing is you had different experts from different size companies, so they're either working with various size companies, but it tended to tilt large. I think Candace works more with the smaller firms in her coaching programs, marketing coaching for advisors. But you know, I think that in my work over the past 29, 30 years with advisors, you see that their perspective changes how the institutionalized marketing, and somebody said that the smaller scrappier entrepreneurial firms seem to be doing a better job at marketing in this new modern realm.
Rosic: I think it comes down to being nimble, especially in the beginning when you are smaller. Because, you know, at these larger firms, you can run into a lot of red tape and compliance. That's still a big struggle in this industry too, video continues to be a very popular platform, but how do you deliver that in a scalable and, and compliant way?
So, whoever, if you can figure that out, hopefully me (laughs), that somebody's going to take that and run with it so it. Again, it goes back to being your authentic self, whether you are a massive, multi-billion-dollar RIA or you're just starting out. Who are you? What is your value and how do you ultimately communicate that and what channels and what levers are you pulling to ultimately achieve that goal?
Swift: And I think the authenticity is easier if you're a smaller firm. As you grow, as Tony was saying, you need to have a brand book with the voice and the words and the colors, what everybody is going to adopt when they're out in the world embodying the brand, right?
I think that the smaller firms actually have a little bit easier because they can be nimbler, they can be a little bit more authentic within bounds of course, somebody said, don't be sloppy. Right?
Rosic: Yes, and I completely agree with that because you hear authentic and it's. Oh, bring your weekend version of yourself to your business.
Not necessarily you don't want to do that, but there is that fine line and people know right away whether or not if that’s actually your voice, that's actually you and not some generic nonsense, you're just spitting out there because you think you have to do it.
Swift: I love the way Candace said it. Something about we all know how to be authentic at a wedding and then authentic at the picnic or authentic in business. You change your attire, you're still authentic, but you don't wear what you wear to the gym. Tony said this, "I hope you change outing your gym clothes before you go to the wedding."
Rosic: Absolutely and I think, it's scary at the end of the day. People really just need to embrace that and find that line of where they're comfortable and also, lean into what they're comfortable with. Like, if you don't like to be on video, start a podcast. If you don't like podcasting, try video, try blogging and, and be contextual to each platform.
It can be very overwhelming and like I said, I see a lot of people, they'll take a LinkedIn post and then put that on Twitter, and all the other digital platforms out there. That's not how it works. Like you need to be very intentional and contextual to each platform.
I'm not saying you need to do a viral TikTok dance to create referrals or grow your business spaces. That's not you. Don't do it. Don't do it because somebody said you need all these different channels to reach people. No. Be true to yourself at the end of the day.
Swift: Yes, and be where your best clients are, that's where you need to be and be appropriate for them because that's going to resonate with them and it just becomes this wonderful, beautiful, effortless thing to extend.
The other thing that I've noted in speaking over the course of the last couple three years is more and more advisory firms are seeing that they need to become their own media production company, they need to master this stuff.
So, they're setting up little studios, sometimes big studios right in their office where they can just go in and do a podcast, or if they have a client who they want to get on camera talking about their great client experience, they can do that now with the SEC marketing rule, loosening up, all of that good stuff.
The, the whole idea of becoming your own media production company and then turning out content that it makes you a better person, I think right?
Rosic: Yes, it can be overwhelming to hear all of that. Oh my gosh. I am an advisor now. I need to be a production and distribution company as well.
But again, it's, it's just leaning in, in, into you and, and what works, right? And I'm very encouraged to see that because, you know, not even 10 years ago we would not be talking about this or seeing advisors creating production studios. I think folks are really starting to understand that you need to build it into your workflow now, and that's what it's about.
Swift: Yes, absolutely. Well, Shannon, I've loved every minute of our conversation and look forward to the rest of the day.
Rosic: Aw, thank you so much Marie. It is fun being on this side of things for once.
Swift: Indeed. Thank you.
Guest #4: Robert Steinberg on ... Attracting and retaining clients, improving the value proposition, building an RIA to $1B AUM and more
Marie Swift: All right, and we're back. We're at the MarketCounsel Summit in Las Vegas at the Four Seasons, and I'm joined now by Robert Steinberg. And Robert, you're an RIA, a registered investment advisory firm, in Michigan. Is that right?
Robert Steinberg: That is correct. We're based out of Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Swift: So, tell us a little bit about the firm.
Steinberg: Well, we've had a nice growth rate recently, we're now passed a billion dollars last year. We have 24 employees and we run primarily a dividend growth investment strategy from the investment side and do full-fledged financial planning on the other side. So, it's a full package for clients, but we manage the money in house, which is a little bit different.
Swift: It is a little bit different. So, talk a little bit about why your clients like that and why you think it's a good value proposition.
Steinberg: From a value proposition, that's the easier way of looking at it. The internal cost of owning Lockheed Martin, Apple, or Home Depot is zero compared to if you're using a mutual fund.
So, it makes the overall cost for the client less expensive and the clients like the idea of owning the individual securities. When they look at their statement, they see Home Depot, they may see Lockheed Martin, they may see all different blue chip type businesses, and that gives them comfort because they know these companies are very likely to stay in business.
The way we describe our investment strategies is, we're on the freeway, but we're in the right-hand lane and most people that have accumulated wealth aren't looking to get there too fast and too much in a hurry, although they'd like to, they don't want to put their assets at risk.
Swift: And then what were you saying? I thought you said you send letters to clients saying ‘Hey, you just got a raise.’ What's that all about?
Steinberg: Oh, so pretty much, probably 95% of the companies that we own in our portfolio raise their dividend every year. That's something we screen for, we monitor for, and so when the company announces its dividend increase, we send out an email to clients that own the positions.
I think it gives them the confidence that our investments, the types of businesses we invest in, are doing what we led them to believe that they would be doing. It gives them confidence because they're getting a pay raise. And so generally the increases are above inflation, although in the most recent year it's been a little bit more challenging.
But generally, they would increase every year, and that increase would help them to continue to keep their standard of living during retirement.
Swift: The other thing we heard about this morning was the war for talent and how competitive it is for firms like yours to get good talent. But I think you have a pretty good track record.
Talk a little bit about how you recruit talent and how you keep talent.
Steinberg: Yeah, I mean, the way I view recruiting talent is you have to have your, your ears open at all times looking. We use a lot of professionals we know. I personally, as the founder of the company, kind of oddly, I'm out there on LinkedIn finding good candidates, reaching out to them, trying to build conversations.
Over the last 18 months, we have actually gone from 12 to 24 employees, and last year I was really proud that we had made 12 offers and had 12 people accept. So, the good thing about having the growth that our firm has is it's easy to create a career. For people to see how their career can continue to develop.
Because if you go to work for a financial advising firm and the firm isn't growing, it's hard for you to continue to grow and take on leadership responsibility for clients unless you're developing a full book of business on your own.
Swift: So, you folks run on the EOS system, right? Which is entrepreneurial operating system.
Anything about that that you'd like to share?
Steinberg: I think what the EOS system does more than anything is it brings a discipline to your organization.
When I was out here, we have a meeting normally on Eastern standard time, 7:00am, to 8:30am every Tuesday and so when we were out here, I got them to push it back. We're three hours off, timezone wise, so I was on the conference call at 5:00 AM.
By having that call every week, you go over your issues, your things that you're looking from a business perspective that you're trying to advance and by doing it on a weekly basis, it really helps the company stay on track. In this business you're so busy that oftentimes it's very easy for something that you thought you were going to get done to just carry on and not get taken care of from the overall organization standpoint, because you're prioritizing your clients.
Swift: So, the last thing I want to touch on is we hear a lot about culture, right? It almost seems like a jargon buzzword anymore, but I had the opportunity to be with your team in your office, and there's just it's culpable.
You can actually feel the, the people enjoy being together. How do you think about building that team spirit or culture?
Steinberg: Yeah, that's a great question. It's, it's an innate thing when we're interviewing somebody, when we're talking with somebody. The first, really the first bar is, do I think this person will fit our culture?
Once I feel comfortable that they'll fit our culture, then we'll kind of proceed and really determine what they know, and whether they're the right fit for the organization. But finding people that are team oriented, you know, have the ability to laugh at themselves are, are self-driven, is just so, so crucial. It’s what we focus in on identifying.
As a firm, we've been very blessed and I always joke that I'm not going to be able to say this forever, but we've never had an employee leave our firm and go to a local competitor. We've got some people move out of state and switched, but you know, and we've got 24 employees.
So, I think internally we're probably doing something right. But like I said, hopefully we'll be able to continue to say that for an extended period of time.
Swift: All right. Robert Steinberg, thank you for being here.
Guest #5: Jonathan Ainsley on ... Challenges in the industry, creating greater client engagement across generations, and driving organic growth
Marie Swift: And we're live again, we're here at the MarketCounsel Summit in Las Vegas at the beautiful Four Seasons Resort and Hotel. I'm joined now by Jonathan Ainsley. Jonathan, you're with InvestInU and you've got something interesting and fresh, I think. I've just been learning about it. So, tell us a little bit about InvestInU.
Jonathan Ainsley: Well thanks, Marie.
The origin of InvestinU: My background is in consulting, primarily both at Schwab and at Merrill Lynch. And as we were looking at advisor/rep technology and developing the practice of the advisor, we had to stop and ask where is the value of the human advisor going forward? As a result of my work at Merrill, we kind of stumbled into putting the focus on the value of the advisor, through the lens of longevity.
With more and more people living longer than they expected, we've got this tidal wave of aging, yet advisors aren't really being trained to look at the changing dynamics that's really going on. So, in helping advisors initially, by putting together an advisory panel to discuss the topic of longevity with their clients, the feedback we then got from doing that over the last five years has been to put together in a training program to really help advisors elevate their advice and leverage technology effectively and efficiently in what they're doing.
But ultimately, it's that connection with the client, as we discussed yesterday in the CX, the client experience. It's the ultimate deliverable of the client experience that we help advisors.
Swift: And that's so important. I think Stephanie Bogan was the presenter that talked about the wedding cake, right? And the basic layer is the nuts and bolts, that CFP® type of stuff, right? That's kind of table stakes. But what you're talking about is something up on the layer cake a little bit higher. It might be the icing on the cake or somewhere in there.
But I like the way Stephanie talked about the client experience, and it seems to me like you're providing a new way for advisors to create a bond. Extra stickiness where they become fans and want to talk about the experience.
Ainsley: Yes, you just covered all of those points very well. So, the CFP is table stakes. I'd rather liken it to Paul McCartney, who is singing about when I'm 64, and that's the traditional conversation of financial planning and retirement planning.
Yet, McCartney just celebrated his 80th with a four-hour set. Those conversations of what is really possible when we rethink what aging now looks like in the 21st century. We're not really looking at that or haven't been, and advisors aren't being trained in how to effectively deliver that conversation.
But then to your point, it's incredible the energy that we get through these hour-long workshops, both from the clients who are participating, the advisors experience their clients in a new way. Then we frame this training program to help the advisor bring that experience to all their clients and the effect of that is look at the challenges in the industry, greater engagement across generations, and driving organic growth.
It's a wonderful onramp for the next generation advisor. But also, the more tenured advisors get better clarity for their own longevity and what do they want to do with it. So you are right. It's like an unexplored territory that we've discovered and it's fun, it's inspirational, and it's energizing.
How many people have fun with the sort of the fair-and-frailty side of the equation, which is important? But there's a whole other opportunity that we are discovering and bringing to advisors with the training.
Swift: So, I think I heard you say that clients participate in your training. Talk a little bit about your training. Did I get that right?
Ainsley: You got it absolutely right. So again, my background in the RIA space, one of the best practices is having an advisory panel. When I was talking to teams at Merrill, they'd worked with Ken Dychtwald from Age Wave and when I was talking to the teams about their financial planning they'd say, well, we planned for clients to age 95 or 100, but they all say that's not going to be me I don't want to be old and decrepit, and that's been a consistent theme.
I realized, my own grandmother spent 30 years promising me each year would be her last because she was too old and frail to go on, but she made it to just shy of 101. So, I realized, there's this sort of untapped thing going on out there around longevity.
My initial idea with the teams of Merrill was, let's bring in a select, number of clients and run the topic of longevity past them and see what we get back. So, I started doing that before I left Merrill, even did it in The Villages. The advisor selects their own clients -- about 10. They're given some pre-work to do. And then we run this hour-long workshop, which we can now do virtually or live, and just for instance, I mean, in The Villages, one of the best places in the country for aging, one of the clients when he walked in, looked at me and said, are you going to help us make more money?
Well, not unreasonable. At the end of the workshop, an hour later, he wrote, "it's more than just the dollars -- this is about the next 40 years." So, think of the paradigm shift he'd experienced. And it's taking that energy, it's creating that paradigm shift. The advisor said to me, "I've known these people a long time but their way of being changed right in front of me."
So, when you create that, you've them. Again, we've built this training. To help the advisors take that to all their clients.
Swift: It's marvelous, and it sounds like you're training the trainer with the advisor experiencing what the clients do but with the professional trainers involved. You, I think, are doing some of this and maybe with some colleagues, but then do the advisors take it back and do it on their own or do you keep coming back, via Zoom or in person?
Ainsley: Well, great question. My focus from consulting has always been how do you create a sustained outcome? For instance, one of the RIAs who I'd worked with when I was Schwab, he brought me in to do the workshop with his clients, and he said afterwards, okay, come back and do some more.
I said to him, well, my goal is to give it over to you, and I left it for a short while, and within a couple of days I thought, okay, I'll go back and relent, and he said to me, well, I've already put one on my calendar. Let me see how I do and after his third one, he said, wow this is so much fun.
Part of the balance though, I've had a CFP capstone trainer say after they'd experienced the workshop, we as advisors think we're having this conversation, but we're really not.
That's part of the thing of actually facilitating the workshop, being a third party coming in is the advisors get to experience that for themselves.
But you are right. Ultimately, it's about the advisor and empowering them. Train the trainer so they're elevating the quality of their advice and their competency in delivering that experience to their clients.
Swift: Well, marvelous. So how do people learn more? What's your website?
Ainsley: Best place to go is www.longevityplanning.me
Swift: All right. You heard it here at the MarketCounsel Summit, Marie Swift and Jonathan Ainsley.
Guest #6: Martin Tarlie on ... Understanding the advisor ecosystem more fully
Marie Swift: And we're back. We're live at the MarketCounsel Summit right here at the beautiful Four Seasons in Las Vegas. I'm joined now by Martin Tarlie and Martin, you're here talking about Nebo, which I think has ties to GMO. Talk a little bit about what you're doing here.
Martin Tarlie: We're here at MarketCounsel Summit to try to understand the advisor ecosystem a little bit more. We've built what we think is a compelling new asset allocation platform built around a big idea. The big idea is that risk is not volatility, but risk is that you don't have the money that you need when you need it. So, we have an asset allocation platform that builds portfolios on that basis.
We're here specifically at MarketCounsel because in addition to building a platform that has really interesting investment ideas, it’s also really important that we understand the needs of the advisory firms themselves, how they run their businesses, what their economics are, what they value, what they need, and integrating that into the platform is extremely important to us as well.
This is just part of our process of really beginning to learn and understand more about how advisors operate their businesses and what's important to them.
Swift: It's a pretty great environment to be up close and personal talking to advisors and the entrepreneurs that support individual advisors. Talk a little bit about the famous person who's a part of GMO.
Tarlie: Jeremy Grantham is the G in GMO, and really, I would say the defining characteristic of GMO is something that he relates to us all the time, and that is the mantra. If you do right by the client, everything else takes care of itself. So that's how we've operated GMO for 45 years plus, and that's how we're operating Nebo, which is really a new innovation, a startup within GMO.
Swift: And I believe I saw you all at the Wealthies, the wealthmanagement.com gala, and you were the winner of the disruptor category. Is that right? Talk a little bit about that.
Tarlie: Well, we were really honored to be nominated for industry disruptor, and then we were even more honored to actually win the award as the industry disruptor, and we really hope we can live up to that award.
Swift: Well, I'm sure you will. Is there anything else on the horizon for you this year or turning the corner into 2023?
Tarlie: Well, we're at the point now where we're really trying to figure out what we're going to look like when we actually grow up (laughs). We've reached some very significant milestones this year in terms of usage, in terms of capacity, and so we're really poised, we think, to expand and bring this new innovation to the market.
Swift: I'm curious, do you know the reason that the product is called Nebo? What does that stand for?
Tarlie: It's a couple of things. Part of it is needs-based optimization. Plus Mount Nebo is actually where Moses stood as he surveyed the Promised Land. So, we sort of have a multi-dimensional view of where the name comes.
Swift: Interesting. I thought I knew Nebo sounded familiar. Well, it's been great talking with you, and I look forward to spending the next couple of days here at MarketCounsel Summit together.
Tarlie: Oh, thank you for having me.
Guest #7: Eric Showalter on ... Working with MarketCounsel to create a family business
Marie Swift: All right, and we're back. We're at the MarketCounsel Summit, right here in Las Vegas at the beautiful Four Seasons Resort, and one of the things that we've been doing is talking to interesting people, and I just sat next to this lovely gentleman at lunch. This is Eric Showalter; did I get that right?
Okay, so tell me your story. You've worked with MarketCounsel to go independent. How did that go?
Eric Showalter: I did, and it went really well. I started Arbor Private on October 1st, 2021. During the months leading up to that, I worked with Sharon Ash to review the agreements that I had with my prior employer to make sure I was following all the rules in every way.
After starting Arbor Private Wealth, I signed up for the MarketCounsel Compliance Program and I work with Daniel Bernstein for regulatory issues.
Swift: And so now your firm is in Virginia, correct?
Showalter: The firm is in Ashburn, Virginia, about six miles from Dulles Airport.
Initially I was the only employee. I worked with a subcontractor, a virtual CA firm, who helped me with client administration. Six months later, I hired my wife, so it became a true family business. Then on Monday I hired a third employee who will be working out of New York.
Swift: So, talk a little bit about the kind of work you do and the kind of clients you serve.
Showalter: Thanks. I work with about a hundred families in Northern Virginia and the other states. The typical new client will be an executive. They will likely both be employed, with kids’ college age. But then I also work with a lot of folks who are older because they were at that stage of life when I brought them on board 20 years ago.
So, I've got a nice client demographic in the, in the 40-to-80-year range and other family members of those folks.
Swift: What sets your firm apart? I noticed you have portfolio manager on your card as well as founder.
Showalter: Yes, that's right. What sets us apart is every client gets a plan and we have a very close personal relationship with every client.
We don't plug clients into an institutional model that's traded, you know, centrally. Every client has investment strategy directly overseen by me, and I can manage those portfolios to their level of risk, and I can be tax conscious using the tools that I've invested in and with close collaboration with their CPA.
Swift: Wonderful. So, what's next for you?
Showalter: Year one was about integrating all these great components of technology. I'm about 80% of the way through that. Year two is going to be about getting the processes streamlined and repeatable so I can bring more people to benefit from those repeatable processes.
Swift: Well, wonderful. We wish you well and thank you for spending a few minutes with me at the mic.
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