Joe Duran

Duran Duranblog

Joe Duran

Jan 20, 2016, 4:10 PM EST

Lessons in leadership for advisers from 'Game of Thrones'

By Joe Duran

Until the Middle Ages, warfare was primarily a battle of numbers. Those with the most men won the war. That changed as weaponry became more important than people in winning combat. The battle for market share in our industry is much the same. Flying to Hawaii over the holidays, my wife and I had a marathon viewing session of "Game of Thrones." The show is a medieval fantasy in which multiple kingdoms vie for control. There are endless conflicts, and those with the strongest strategy and best weapons invariably win, even if their enemies are vastly larger in size. It got me thinking about how technological advancements and their usage have really been good predictors of the eventual victors in any battle. In our industry there are various competitors of varying competence and resources trying to win the war for consumers. What is unusual is how quickly the weapons of competition are changing the landscape. The old ways of thinking about ... Read full post

Dec 21, 2015, 5:08 PM EST

4 steps to take to make sure you win with clients in 2016

By Joe Duran

As another unusually active year comes to a rapid end, let's look forward to 2016 and imagine what the industry should anticipate in the year ahead.In 2015, the stock market fluctuated along to a flat year. Indexing ruled, with a small group of stocks holding up the entire market. Yield continued to be scarce for investors. Transactions for large RIAs were rampant with two of the largest wealth managers in the country changing hands. The robo-world clearly gained traction, with Vanguard and Schwab entering the fray and capturing many billions in assets (far more than the independent robo-firms.) This has laid the groundwork for some interesting crosswinds in the year ahead:• Unhappier clients. Stagnant markets make for restless clients. This invariably leads folks to think about alternatives; a change in strategy (changing their adviser) or a change in pricing often leads their choices. We may likely continue to see extremely low ... Read full post

Dec 3, 2015, 6:50 AM EST

RIA deal mania and why you should care

By Joe Duran

The past several months have been fascinating if you are an independent adviser. Three large transactions have been announced that offer some telling signals about where the industry is headed. To wit:• Lightyear Capital bought a majority position in Wealth Enhancement Group (WEG) from Norwest Equity Partners. WEG is reported to have $4.7 billion in AUM and 13 offices around the Midwest.• Hellman & Friedman bought a majority position in Edelman Financial Services (EFS) from Lee Equity Partners. EFS reports over $14 billion in AUM and 41 offices around the country.• Financial Engines acquired The Mutual Fund Store (MFS) for $560 million. MFS reports $9.8 billion in AUM and 125 locations.WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?Since I help run one of the largest national RIA firms, I hear a lot of the industry scuttlebutt. If the information I've heard from several sources is to be believed, then both WEG and Edelman sold for... Read full post

Nov 17, 2015, 3:04 PM EST

3 quotes every adviser should remember

By Joe Duran

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaching, I thought I'd take a step away from my traditional observations on how to thrive in a digitized age, and take a slightly more reflective perspective. One of my odder hobbies is to study philosophy. Investigating our existence and what motivates human behavior is fascinating to me. Last month I had the rare opportunity to attend a four-day philosophy retreat at the lovely Miraval resort near Tucson, Ariz. The four days were filled with healthy living (organic food and lots of exercise) and discussions about being human, and why we make the choices we do. A large portion of the program involved round-table conversations about ideas that shaped our lives. (More from Joe: The scary truth: The struggle between who we are and what we want)The process is very helpful but more important, it helps to clearly articulate ideas that have changed you as a person. It made me think of the three... Read full post

Oct 29, 2015, 3:05 PM EST

The scary truth: The struggle between who we are and what we want

By Joe Duran

Halloween is a time of candy, costumes and trick or treating. But mostly it's a time for people to dress up and “become” someone else for a night. How many people are really happy with who they are the rest of their days?This is one of the central questions for most humans when they think about their financial life: What are we willing to give up to be the ideal version of ourselves and avoid a scary ending? We completed research that asked families to share their financial life stories and tell us about the lessons they learned at major turning points. There were many interesting facts but, by far, the most fascinating to me was that human financial life is an enduring struggle between the ideal life we want and the lives we end up living. Money and how we spend it is at the core of this conflict. (More: How to make better decisions for you and your clients)Let's illustrate with the story of Sam, an accomplished gentleman... Read full post

Oct 13, 2015, 6:52 AM EST

4 ways the Labor Department is about to rock our world

By Joe Duran

Every once in a while the government passes a regulation that completely alters the landscape. The new standards proposed by the Labor Department for ERISA participants and their advisers will have the biggest impact since the deregulation of the securities industry a few decades ago. That shift created independent brokerage firms, independent advisers and the custodians and platforms to serve them. This bill will change all of our lives.The smart money is betting that the new law will come to pass, though with some amendments. When it does pass, the bill will hold all advisers to ERISA participants (including IRAs) to the fiduciary standard. This means that the suitability standard (ensuring that individuals understand the investments they have been sold and that they are appropriate) will be replaced by the far more rigorous fiduciary standard (have advisers placed clients' interests ahead of their own.) Here are four predictions... Read full post

Sep 22, 2015, 2:48 PM EST

How clients really want advisers to earn fees

By Joe Duran

We all know that if a person makes bad financial life choices, their investment results are almost meaningless to the outcome of their financial lives. We now have research validating the fact that most people's financial lives really aren't influenced by their investing, and many advisers are focusing on all the wrong things. THE FALLACY OF THE EFFICIENT FRONTIEROur industry spends a fortune trying to build better, cheaper mousetraps to allow consumers to invest efficiently. Sadly, the impact is not important in the context of most people's lives. Why? Because the financial life arc of any person is not typically driven by their investment results (presuming they aren't investing in anything crazy), but rather by the financial life choices they face and how they make them. For investors and consumers, being on the efficient investment frontier is not as important as optimizing their life. How do we know? Because we asked. We conducted ... Read full post

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

Older »