Joe Duran

Duran Duranblog

Joe Duran

Sep 1, 2015, 2:53 PM EST

Why a big market decline won't kill the robo

By Joe Duran

After four years of remarkably calm markets, we are finally experiencing meaningful turbulence. In that period of relative calm, robo-advisers blossomed from an interesting idea into a potential threat to the status quo for advisers. One of the most common perspectives I hear is that a declining market will reveal the underlying weakness of the robo-solutions: they have no real people to help clients. The hope is that clients will abandon digital advisers in a tough market. But is this an accurate assumption? What if market weakness also reveals the frailty of many human advisory firms?(More: Technology can help keep clients calm amid market chaos)My belief is that just as the 2000 tech bubble collapse did not end the expansion of online travel sites, a bear market will not kill the digital-adviser revolution. Let me share why I believe we are in the midst of a structural change that is unavoidable and why a market decline might in... Read full post

Aug 17, 2015, 2:42 PM EST

Uber versus yellow cabs: A fight advisers should watch

By Joe Duran

Big cities around the globe are participating in a battle between the incumbent cab industry and upstart ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. After rowdy protests, Paris and Madrid have successfully limited ride-sharing services for the time being. In New York, the mayor is being pressured to slow the rapid expansion of ride-sharing services as the value of medallions (the license one needs to operate a cab in New York City) has dropped approximately 30% in the past year. Despite our empathy with cab drivers, history has shown that while progress might wait patiently for a little while, it won't be stopped. There are some important lessons from this loud battle for financial advisers who want to avoid going the way of the cab driver. 1. Better is better, and the market knows it. Anyone who has been in New York City and has used a cab knows what a dreadful experience it can be. Filthy cars, rude and noisy drivers screaming on... Read full post

Jul 16, 2015, 3:35 PM EST

No bull: Why it's a good idea to risk everything

By Joe Duran

I was 18 when I first went to Pamplona, Spain, and ran with the bulls during the San Fermin festival. The weeklong festival in the northern Spanish town has been one of the largest street parties in the world for centuries. Endless nights of singing, street bands, parades, dancing and bullfighting — and everyone wearing a uniform of all white with red accents. For seven days, the cycle is the same: Streets barricaded at seven in the morning, bulls released at eight, much celebration and rejoicing followed by the bullfights in the evening (in which the bulls that just that very morning were marauding on the streets face a cruel but somewhat artistic end). Then follows a night of buildup to the next morning with ever-increasing tension building as each hour passes and the next run approaches.I ran several times on that first visit, sleeping at the public pool to recover during the sunny afternoons. While studying abroad in Madrid a ... Read full post

Jul 9, 2015, 2:48 PM EST

How to make better decisions for you and your clients

By Joe Duran

Watching the calamity and emotional upheaval in Greece, and the tough decision people had to make in their referendum, is a lesson to all of us about the importance of optimizing the choices we make. The country that developed Western philosophy and democracy is rocked at its core by a series of bad choices made over many decades. As business leaders, we each face tough choices every day, and as advisers we help our clients deal with big financial decisions that could completely change the path of their lives. There is no doubt that optimizing decision making is one of the most powerful secrets to success. The Greeks were one of the first Western civilizations to note that humans' impulsive and emotional nature often overwhelms the rational judgment we all need at important decision-making moments. This is an important insight for our effectiveness as guides of our clients' decisions, and as leaders of our enterprises. DECISIONS UNDER... Read full post

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

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