Joe Duran

Duran Duranblog

Joe Duran

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

Dec 26, 2014, 6:55 AM EST

How to evaluate and cope with the people who make mistakes

By Joe Duran

It's crunch time for the National Football League teams as they come down to the final games of the season and fight to make the playoffs. For teams on the bubble or fighting for post-season positioning, every play seems important, every mistake magnified. It's fascinating to see how each coach and leader on the field reacts to crucial mistakes.Not all mistakes are created equal. But we often react the same way when one occurs, and that can have some unintended consequences in a work environment. As kids, we probably all experienced that sinking feeling of dropping a glass on the kitchen floor; the initial shock and then the concern of a potential reprimand. When you are a leader in a company, understanding that there are different types of mistakes and that it's important to have a different reaction depending on the situation is vital to establishing the kind of firm you have. Mistakes can be something everyone runs from or they can... Read full post

Dec 4, 2014, 12:43 PM EST

Clash of the titans: Bionic advisers vs. robo-advisers

By Joe Duran

"Hello Robo, I'm nervous about my investments, I'm not sure they are OK. What should I do? No, I don't want another email telling me everything is fine with my strategy. I really need to know if there's some changes I should be considering, and while we are emailing back and forth, my wife and I have been thinking about whether we can afford a bigger home? I'd love a new car, too. Could I please speak to a person? Hello? Hello?”The third quarter saw another round of more than $100 million invested into robo-advisers by savvy investors hoping to change the world of wealth management. The core premise of every digital solution is that individuals can get educated, act rationally and do the right thing all by themselves. Of course there's nothing like a bull market, especially one that hasn't suffered a major setback for more than five years, to convince everyone that individuals don't need any help. But those of us who work with... Read full post

Older »