Joe Duran

Duran Duranblog

Joe Duran

Jun 22, 2015, 5:11 PM EST

The dinosaur in the room – coping with change

By Joe Duran

"It's not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change." — Charles Darwin“Jurassic World” is making a killing at the box office. Interesting to think about how such powerful and dynamic creatures simply died, while a mammal as seemingly unimpressive as the duck-billed platypus continues to thrive. What was it that allowed one species to live through massive global disruptions and others to perish? This is important to all of us because the business world is going through one of the most profound periods of change and disruption since the Industrial Revolution. The consumer revolution and the digitization movement that is empowering it are forcing us all to rethink how we work. However, not all of us have the same perspective when it comes to change. When any industry is going through major disruption there are four strategies you can follow in order to... Read full post

Jun 4, 2015, 2:49 PM EST

Surviving change at warp speed

By Joe Duran

"The speed of disruption will be brutal. Probably 40% of global enterprises won't exist 10 years from now. Probably half the major players in high tech won't exist in a meaningful way in 10 years."— John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, on CNBCMr. Chambers calmly made these comments while being interviewed by the folks at CNBC early on tax day. Their discussion about how technology is creating massive disruptions in every industry and business highlighted a concern that has been keeping me up at night for months. Why? Because the digitization effect Mr. Chambers talked about has passed the tipping point in our industry recently with a flurry of important developments: • eMoney acquired by Fidelity for a rumored $200 million plus • LearnVest acquired by Northwestern Mutual for a rumored $250 million • Schwab launching a robo-adviser with no fee (and rumored to already have surpassed several billion in assets) • Vanguard ... Read full post

May 13, 2015, 2:37 PM EST

Lessons from Duke's Coach K: 3 keys to leading an exceptional team

By Joe Duran

When Fidelity Investments scheduled Mike Krzyzewski, the men's basketball coach at Duke University and the U.S. national team, to give the keynote address at their executive summit earlier this year, I doubt they foresaw that Coach K would just have won his fifth national championship. Serendipity aside, he delivered one of the most memorable speeches in a conference filled with great insights. The first thing I was struck by is that this 68-year-old coach is not at all what you expect, if you have watched him on the sidelines during a TV broadcast. He still looks ridiculously young, but his energy, enthusiasm and humanness were a far cry from the impression I had of him as a mercurial, calculating, “take no prisoners” coach. While his delivery was straightforward, humble and often funny, his authenticity and passion was incredibly engaging. While they seem very different, he reminded me of John Wooden (another stellar... Read full post

Apr 28, 2015, 7:03 AM EST

Secrets to growth: The difference between a racehorse and a pack mule

By Joe Duran

Most firms in our industry start their race like racehorses: dynamic, exciting and growing rapidly. But after a couple of decades, many firms begin to resemble a pack mule: stodgy, predictable and relatively stagnant. We have the unique perspective, having conducted analytical benchmarking reports for hundreds of independent firms of varying sizes and backgrounds over the past decade, about how things are evolving. We see why some firms are stuck and will likely stay that way, and why others are likely to burst to new levels with a little help. That's really important to us because it lets us know whether we are likely to have a modest success or an exceptional success in any new partnership.DEGREES OF SEPARATIONMost firms start with a person (or a partnership) — with strong people skills and work ethic — delivering some form of financial advice to people just like them. These firms typically plateau after 20 years because... Read full post

Apr 8, 2015, 2:51 PM EST

Are your clients as wealthy as they are rich?

By Joe Duran

What is the difference between being wealthy and rich? It's one of the biggest questions our industry has wrestled with for many years. That's why I was quite excited to read “The Thin Green Line,” Paul Sullivan's new book. Paul writes the “Wealth Matters” column at The New York Times, and I enjoy his perspective that usually features individuals sharing a personal story that then connects with how our industry is solving their challenge. Several years ago he interviewed my mother-in-law, Jeannie, as a background story for how our firm came to apply behavioral tools to helping people with their financial life. (Even though I was nervous at the time, I still get major kudos from Jeannie, mostly because they took a really good photo of her.) I was quite intrigued to see how a reporter (albeit one well versed in our industry) would write a self-help book about investing and wealth. I am not going to review the book,... Read full post

Mar 23, 2015, 12:35 PM EST

Don't be left behind by robo revolution

By Joe Duran

If you think the current battle between Schwab and the robos is just an amusing distraction, think again. If you don't adapt, you might become collateral damage to a battle that is just picking up steam.I have been watching this clash with some surprise at the independent robo-adviser's strong reaction to Schwab's new robo offering. Frankly, the public conflict has started sooner than I expected. First, there was the open letter from the chief executive of Wealthfront, attacking Schwab's offering. Then, on March 13, Jon Stein, CEO of Betterment, went on CNBC and continued the attack, nonchalantly stating that Schwab was “too late” to the game. I know Jon well and he is a lovely and brilliant guy, but the idea that the participants in this market have already established and taken all available ground is not rational.The collective size of all the robos together is still miniscule, and the market is still rapidly evolving.... Read full post

Mar 10, 2015, 2:31 PM EST

Goodbye wealth management, hello financial life management

By Joe Duran

Remember when the financial world was really simple? Not that long ago there were brokerage firms, banks, insurance companies and independent financial planners with clearly defined roles and descriptions. How the world has changed. Last year when I received our firm's valuation from Lazard, I spent a little extra time looking at the different segments of financial firms they had used to form an opinion on our valuation. As most institutional teams do, they had categorized firms in the industry into one of three sectors: 1. The platform companies: Technology-enabled firms like Envestnet, Financial Engines and Advent — all of which have the loftiest valuations, as high as seven times revenue (many lose money so you can't calculate a PE).2. The asset managers: Firms like AMG, AllianceBernstein and SEI fell into this section. These firms have recurring revenue and scalable investment distribution and valuations between three and... Read full post

Feb 9, 2015, 3:10 PM EST

Fidelity's acquisition of eMoney Advisor could be a watershed moment for the advice industry

By Joe Duran

I have written at length about the changing landscape created by robo-advisers and mega direct-to-consumer brands like the fund companies, banks and custodians. And while I don't have a crystal ball, I think the acquisition of eMoney by Fidelity — for a rumored $250 million — might be a real canary in the coal mine moment for every independent adviser.First, some important disclosures: We have had a very deep and good relationship with both Fidelity and eMoney and they have been an important part of our business for many years. Secondly, I have no inside information, so all of the following is pure conjecture on my part. It is my imagining of what might be compelling Fidelity to make this purchase, and how they might maximize the value of their purchase. However, it should be noted that strategic acquisitions are often as much about avoiding future risks as maximizing future opportunities. So with that, here are some... Read full post

Feb 3, 2015, 3:10 PM EST

The Super Bowl ending and what you can learn from it

By Joe Duran

I was as dumbfounded as anyone at the end of the game. With a minute left and three timeouts still to use, with the game's best running back (who had just pounded out four yards) in the backfield and one yard to Super Bowl victory, the coach decided to let the clock run, then elected to heave a pass into the crowded end zone. We all know what happened next, and I care too much about our partners in Seattle to bring it up again. But the obvious question was “Why?” And, more importantly, is there anything we can learn from this epic end of Super Bowl XLIX? None of us can get into Pete Carroll's head at that particular moment — no doubt he'd take back that play call if he could. But why would an outstanding and wildly successful coach make a call that almost no one watching could imagine? And what lessons does that provide for all of us about decision-making under pressure?(More: How to evaluate and cope with the people... Read full post

Jan 13, 2015, 2:46 PM EST

A New Year's resolution that really works

By Joe Duran

Every year starts with millions of resolutions that are often broken before Valentine's Day. However, there is one resolution that can significantly change your life and it's remarkably easy to put to work: I promise to make no new resolutions until I figure out how to make them stick.The star-studded Market Counsel Summit in Las Vegas at the end of last year kicked off with a high octane presentation by mega coach Tony Robbins riling up the crowd of industry leaders. About half way through he asked the audience of hundreds to write down what three new things they would do differently to grow their business by 30% or more in the New Year.Unfortunately, I suspect many of the declarations written a few weeks ago have already been collecting cobwebs. Why is it that so many resolutions fail? I sincerely believe that it's because we seldom have a disciplined approach to making change stick, and more importantly, we seldom make the... Read full post

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