Inside the Minds of Barron’s Top Financial Advisors

This is a summary of a panel from the Fiserv Client Conference Spring 2012, which was held in Las Vegas, NV.

Moderator:

Sterling Shea, Managing Director, Head of Advisory & Wealth Management Programs, Barron’s.

Panelists:

Ed Dollinger, Edward Jones, 26 years – manages $500 mm

Theresa Chicopolos, CFP, Wells Fargo, Scottsdale, AZ, 26 years – manages $1.16 bil in Ultra-HNW and Institutional assets, she was the #1 ranked advisor in Arizona in both 2010 and 2011.

John Waldron, CFP, Founder and CEO of Waldron Investments, $2.2 bil AUM, HNW individual and institutional clients, #1 ranked advisor in Pennsylvania.

What functions are you allocating more time to now than you did five years ago?

net new flow of money is concentrated in a small number of advisors, these advisors adapted their methods of communication and internal processes to the evolving consumer needs.

Chicopolos has been steadily reducing the number of client relationships over the past ten years in order to concentrate the firm’s focus on fewer while still increasing the overall AUM. 10 years ago, she had 3,500 clients and it was mostly transactional business. 5 years ago she was down to 280 clients, and today she has just 75. She spends more time now looking at her client’s entire balance sheet and making sure that they execute the plans as they are designed.

Waldron Investments is a consulting firm with 26 employees that has an independent asset management offering that integrates with the other seven financial disciplines. Five years ago they were mostly doing the same things as today, which is understanding the client’s entire balance sheet and implementing financial strategies. What has changed significantly is their client’s psyche, he said. More clients are doing due diligence on them than five years ago.

Previously, Dollinger’s firm focused more on portfolio construction, but now they’re focusing more on strengthening client relationships. Over the past five years they’ve been trying to reduce the number of client relationships and increase the amount of assets at the ones they have, he said.

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iPad App Review: goalGetter

This is a review of the goalGetter iPad app from ASI Advisor Software.

goalGetter is a personal financial planning app targeted at the end investor.  It is a very simple tool designed to help plan for large financial events.  It’s easy to use with a clean, intuitive layout that allows you to drag and drop to create goals.

The available goals include Retirement, Home & Property, Education, Big Toys (cars, boats, etc.), Life’s Milestones (weddings, babies, etc.), Vacations, Charity and Medical Bills.  You can set an unlimited number of goals, but the interface gets cluttered when you have more than a ten or so.

The app’s single screen consists of a bar graph with dollars on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal. To create a goal, just select an icon from the list at the bottom and drag it onto the graph.  Dragging the icon up down changes the estimate cost and left and right changes the year the goal needs to be funded by.  This function is quite simple to use.

There is an icon of a piggy bank that is stuck on the first year of the graph.  You can drag this icon up and down to change the amount of money you current have in savings.  The bar chart instantly changes to show how much you will have saved going forward (green bars) and whether you will have a funding deficit (red bars) when it comes time to pay for your goals.

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Empowering Consumers in the Digital Age – Part 2

This is a summary of a panel session from the Fiserv Spring 2012 Client Conference and is part 2 of a two part series.  You can read Part 1 here.

Moderator:
Don MacDonald, Executive VP & Chief Marketing Officer, Fiserv

Panelists:
Benny Higgins, CEO, Tesco Bank
Jonathan Carson, CEO Digital Nielsen – leads their digital business since they acquired his company, BuzzMetrics, in 2007.
Debra Hopkins, Chief Innovation Officer, Citi – has been CIO since 2008.

What can the financial industry learn from the transformational changes driven by the Internet?

The big thing that drives success in transformations is a relentless focus on the consumer, Carson argued.  Industry leaders that subsequently failed ignored this concept.  For example, the music industry was in love with their business model that relied on consumers having to repurchase their music with each change in media format.  They used technological innovation to extract more money from their customers without corresponding improvements in the quality of their products, he noted.

The digital age taught consumers that they could have any music they wanted on any of their devices through peer-to-peer networks, Carson reminded us.  It became a valid distribution model in their eyes because the industry didn’t provide a viable alternative.  The television industry learned from these mistakes and decided not to be greedy.  Instead they are experimenting with multiple distribution models in order to provide the “dream” scenario to the consumer, which is “I want to access any content, in any format, on any of my devices, at any time I choose”. Continue reading

Empowering Consumers in the Digital Age – Part 1

This is a summary of a panel session from the Fiserv Spring 2012 Client Conference and is part 1 of a two part series.

Moderator:
Don MacDonald, Executive VP & Chief Marketing Officer, Fiserv

Panelists:
Benny Higgins, CEO, Tesco Bank
Jonathan Carson, CEO Digital Nielsen – leads their digital business since they acquired his company, BuzzMetrics, in 2007.
Debra Hopkins, Chief Innovation Officer, Citi – has been CIO since 2008.

How is your company dealing with the changes happening in the industry?

The panel started off with Higgins reciting a line from Echoes of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which was written in 1931 about the Great Depression:

It ended two years ago, because the utter confidence which was its essential prop received an enormous jolt, and it didn’t take long for the flimsy structure to settle earthward.

He related how he thought this quote could have easily been written in 2010 about the Financial Meltdown.  People think that the change they’re experiencing in their lives is unique, but the concept of change has been with us since the beginning of human civilization.

A company is defined by the decisions made by its leaders, Higgins continued.  Unfortunately, the financial industry in the United Kingdom tends to punish customers for their loyalty, rather than rewarding them, he said.  This statement is validated in a 2011 study of the UK banking system by Bain & Co:

Retail banks have long been more preoccupied, appropriately, with countering threats of fraud and satisfying regulators than focusing on the damage that their me-too products, hidden fees and indifferent service have done to undermine consumer trust. They now face unprecedented customer unrest at a time when regulatory scrutiny is ramping up under the aegis of the newly created Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

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