Joe Duran

Duran Duranblog

Joe Duran

Jun 12, 2018, 3:30 PM EST

Always be closing? The end of selling

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By Joe Duran

On a recent flight I watched a movie I'd seen decades earlier and marveled at how life has changed. The cult classic "Glengarry Glen Ross," based on David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, is the poster child for the ugly underbelly of selling. And no moment is more illustrative than when an intimidating Alec Baldwin berated a group of disheartened salesmen from his blackboard to "ABC. A Always, B Be, C Closing. Always Be Closing!"I started working in the investment business in the early '90s, the same time as the movie was released. I was taught that the rules for success were pretty simple: If you wanted to grow, you had to sell. Investment performance might matter a little, nice brochures could be helpful, but above all else, growth required the ability and willingness to sell. Cold calls, Saturday morning seminars, handing out business cards to strangers were all part of breaking into the industry back then. I... Read full post

May 22, 2018, 4:30 PM EST

What one thing would you do to assure your firm is competitive for the next decade?

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By Joe Duran

At the Icons & Innovators award ceremony held at the grand University Club in New York City I had the privilege of sharing a panel with lions of the industry: David Booth, founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors, Ken Fisher, founder of Fisher Investments, and Mark Tibergien, CEO of Pershing Advisor Solutions. The first question asked by Fred Gabriel, editor of InvestmentNews, has intrigued me for years and is worthy of a little extra reflection: "What one thing would you do to assure your firm is competitive for the next decade?"I believe that 100% of any firm's growth, and all of its future profitability, will be driven by only one thing: its client experience.... Read full post

May 3, 2018, 1:22 PM EST

3 insights on the Financial Engines-Edelman combination and how it might affect you

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By Joe Duran

On Monday, Financial Engines announced that it was being taken private by the respected private equity firm Hellman & Friedman for $3 billion in cash, a 30% premium over the pre-announcement closing price. Financial Engines will merge with Edelman Financial, the $21 billion national RIA that H&F acquired three years ago for what was then reported as a purchase price of over $850 million. I've written in the past about the rise of the mega firms. Clearly, the combined company is one of the wealth management firms likely to become a nationally dominant firm.​ ... Read full post

Apr 19, 2018, 2:45 PM EST

A visit to India and the world's largest startup

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By Joe Duran

I recently spent a week in four cities across India. The trip lived up to all my expectations: The Taj Mahal was stunning, Old Delhi chaotic, Jaipur majestic, and Mumbai vibrant. The highlight, however, was not geographic, but commercial. Our group spent an afternoon with the team at Jio, one of the fastest-growing companies ever. It was launched four years ago as a startup within one of the largest conglomerates in India, Reliance Industries, the country's largest oil company. Five years ago, its chairman had the brilliant insight that data was the new oil and set out on a mission to convert India into one of the most digital nations in the world. Jio's evolution is breathtaking and can provide lessons to any growth-oriented entrepreneur.... Read full post

Mar 13, 2018, 4:45 PM EST

How advisers can hold on to their clients despite Vanguard's broadening reach

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By Joe Duran

During a February speech, Vanguard CEO Tim Buckley said 58% of most advisers' work could eventually be done by computers. This would force a significant change in pricing for most in the industry. Shortly thereafter, Vanguard announced it would create factor-based index ETFs. These two events are directly linked and help explain why one of the bastions of low-cost, passive index investing is now launching ETFs that are more expensive and active than the products that made them so successful.Why the change?Just two years ago, Vanguard Group launched its Personal Advisor Services, which offered clients a personal planner at an incredibly low cost. It was one way to increase revenues from clients. The service rapidly ballooned into one of the largest wealth management offerings in the nation. Now that it has successfully climbed vertically in the service stack, it makes sense for Vanguard to broaden its product offerings. Such a move... Read full post

Feb 14, 2018, 3:19 PM EST

Flash crash: The value of advisers in coping with uncertainty

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By Joe Duran

A week ago Monday, the Dow fell 1,175 points. Although that was not anywhere near a record percentage decline, it turned out to be the biggest point decline in history. After 19 months without a 5% decline from the peaks (a record in itself), volatility came roaring back, with wild swings on a daily basis. Most professionals have been waiting for the return to "normal" levels of volatility for years. However, no matter how knowledgeable anyone is, nobody really knows exactly when or how extreme declines will come, or when they will be over. We use mathematics and accuracy when reviewing the past, but there is a blend of art, science and experience involved in looking into the future. It is impossible to have an exact or accurate answer when looking forward. No one knows what the market will do tomorrow, much less what might happen years from now. Yet entire financial lives are counting on our ability to anticipate the future. As I... Read full post

Jan 25, 2018, 5:14 PM EST

How bitcoin and blockchain will change the world

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By Joe Duran

Bitcoin climbed in value from less than $1,000 at the beginning of 2017 to $14,000 by the end of the year. A coin of Ethereum was worth $8 on Jan. 1, 2017, and $843 one year later. Who would not be intrigued with the idea of owning something that appreciated thirteenfold, or even a hundredfold, in one year? Even the least sophisticated investors are wondering if cryptocurrency is a real thing or just a bubble of speculation. The real revolution is not the currency but the system that supports it.... Read full post

Jan 2, 2018, 12:26 PM EST

The biggest losers and winners of 2017

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By Joe Duran

Politics and the presidency have seldom played a more dominant role in our popular culture as they did last year. Despite the wall to wall coverage of the White House, 2017 turned out to be a far calmer and less disruptive year in the financial markets and the wealth management industry than many anticipated. In the background, our world continues to shift and 2017 turned out to be an intriguing one in many ways. In thinking about the past year, we present our perspective of the biggest losers (and winners): 1. Loser: The DOL Rule. It's not clear where we sit with the Department of Labor rule that would have applied a fiduciary standard to all retirement plan participants. The implementation, which was meant to occur in April 2017, would have been a dagger in the heart of many independent broker-dealers, their brokers and the commission-based firms supporting them. It was at center stage as the major catalyst to change the industry... Read full post

Dec 13, 2017, 5:27 PM EST

Three big effects of the shifting broker protocol

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By Joe Duran

About a month ago, Morgan Stanley announced it was leaving the protocol. A few weeks later, UBS followed suit. The protocol is the mutual agreement that lays the ground rules for advisers to leave their existing brokerage firm and take specified client data with them. Launched in 2004 between Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch and UBS (Morgan Stanley joined a couple of years later), the protocol was intended to reduce litigation among member firms and to protect client information privacy. The list of participants has mushroomed to over 1,500 firms today.UNDERSTANDING THE DEPARTUREThe official line by Morgan Stanley is that they left the agreement to invest more in their existing advisers (and escape the other participants that are gaming the system). However, many in the industry suspect this was really about stemming the tide of departing advisers. The original intent was for the big three (later the big four) firms to reduce internal... Read full post

Nov 21, 2017, 4:41 PM EST

An American Thanksgiving

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By Joe Duran

Last week while I was at the Schwab Impact conference in Chicago, the country I grew up in had a revolt that placed 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe into military confinement. Until yesterday, he had led Zimbabwe since 1980, when I was a pimply faced 12-year-old student dreaming of coming to America. I lived through the civil war and the ensuing transition from white minority leadership to an emerging majority led democracy (or at least the African version of one).As a first generation American, I can't help but think about the differences between the country I grew up in and my adopted home and contrast why two countries, both with really good people who want the same things, can have such fundamentally different experiences. In those differences are principles that every one of us should seek to instill in our companies. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm going to highlight three unique traits that are the cornerstone of... Read full post

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