Joe Duran

Duran Duranblog

Joe Duran

Jul 17, 2017, 4:15 PM EST

What we can learn from Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods

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By Joe Duran

For the past 20 years, organic food grocer Whole Foods has rethought the way consumers shop for groceries and brought the farmers' market to neighborhoods all over the country. While pricey, it succeeded in a crowded sector, and grew in a small niche market into a nationally dominant position, becoming part of the American fabric in the process. In the meantime, shareholders were rewarded handsomely, as the stock grew tenfold from around $4 per share on June 30, 1997, to about $42 per share today. During the same period, Amazon reimagined the entire consumer experience for all of retail and their stock grew from $2.50 per share 20 years ago to around $1,000 per share today, a staggering 40,000% return over the past two decades (split adjusted). Last month , Amazon announced the acquisition of Whole Foods for $14 billion. A drop in the bucket compared to Amazon's current $480 billion market cap. While most food retailer stocks swooned... Read full post

Jun 21, 2017, 4:45 PM EST

3 big ideas from the brightest minds in behavioral economics

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By Joe Duran

In 1987, two professors at UC Berkeley, Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist, and George Akerlof, an economist, offered a joint class called Psychology and Economics for the first time. They each went on to win the Nobel Prize for Economics in consecutive years in 2001 and 2002. Their groundbreaking work applying psychological insights into economic theory help us to understand why people make irrational choices. I was invited to the Haas School of Business campus at UC Berkeley to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of that first class. The alumni now leading these endeavors at prestigious institutions like Harvard, Princeton, Cornell and Berkeley shared research and recollections with each other, and I was one of the few non-academic guests. (More: 5 counseling steps to make better financial planning clients)Some of the content was a little too academic for me (hello, econometrics formulas). However, there were some concepts that are... Read full post

May 30, 2017, 4:44 PM EST

Vanguard to seize wealth management industry with its digital platform

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By Joe Duran

Robo-advisers have been around for over a decade, and throughout that time we've been hearing that they are a threat to established independent wealth advisers. While they might have attracted a lot of industry coverage, most robos have gathered a relatively small amount of market share over 10 years. Yet in two short years, Vanguard has quietly amassed over $65 billion in assets under management in its Personal Advisor Services offering and has built one of the largest wealth management firms in the nation. Robos as first constituted were never going to be a legitimate threat to replace the independent wealth manager, especially with wealthier clients. What Vanguard is building is a different threat altogether. There are two base requirements for a millionaire next door to entrust their money to a wealth manager: the first is that they trust the firm to deliver quality advice, the second is that the adviser can help solve financial... Read full post

May 10, 2017, 3:09 PM EST

What financial advisers can learn from Amazon

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By Joe Duran

Recently my phone's storage chip malfunctioned. Unfortunately, I had a full afternoon of meetings and an early morning flight the next day. Thanks to Amazon, I had a new chip in my mailbox by the time I arrived home a couple of hours later that afternoon. How in the world can any electronics store carry enough inventory or be more convenient in giving me exactly what I need so easily? Every retail store is struggling to compete with the geographic omnipotence of Amazon. Our own industry is in the midst of a similar geographic untethering. And it will happen faster than most advisory firms are prepared for. THE RETURN OF HOUSE CALLSThe internet, mobile devices and convenience service companies like Amazon, Netflix and Google have made our lives easier, but they are also altering consumers' expectations about service delivery. What happens when your biggest competitive advantage — your proximity to your clients — stops... Read full post

Apr 20, 2017, 5:20 PM EST

How technology will alter the role of human advisers in wealth management

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By Joe Duran

A small group of us spent a recent afternoon with the chief evangelist at Singularity University in Silicon Valley. The campus is fittingly housed on a NASA site under the shadow of a huge unused hangar once used to store blimps. Their classrooms contain every variety of technological gadget you might imagine, from 3D printers to various types of virtual reality goggles. It's all interesting, but far more fascinating is their perspective on how technology will alter the role of human work, especially in wealth management. THE INESCAPABLE FUTURE"The greatest shortcoming of humanity is our inability to understand the exponential function," renowned physicist Albert Allen Bartlett once said.It's easy for us to imagine how far 30 steps will take us (about 30 yards), but it's next to impossible for any of us to imagine how far 30 exponential steps will take us (25 times around the earth).Technology develops at an accelerating (or... Read full post

Mar 27, 2017, 4:12 PM EST

When machinery makes financial advisers' work obsolete

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By Joe Duran

A few weeks ago I travelled with some fellow entrepreneurs to spend six days in Vietnam and Cambodia. It was everything you'd imagine: exotic, beautiful and fascinating. The highlight for me was visiting the twelfth century temple at Angkor Wat, near Siem Reap in Cambodia. It's the largest religious monument in the world on a site exceeding 400 acres. The temple took more than 30 years to build, and according to our guide, more than 350,000 people (mostly slaves) worked on it. (More: Winners and losers in the murky DOL rule implementation)That's an awful lot of manpower. It's interesting that the rate of construction hadn't evolved much from the building of the pyramids in Egypt 3,500 years prior. And yet today we build skyscrapers and entire cities like Dubai in a fraction of the time. Man's productivity has surged with the use of machinery and technology. EVER EXPANDING ROLE OF MACHINERYThis got me thinking about how machinery has... Read full post

Feb 21, 2017, 8:27 AM EST

Winners and losers in the murky DOL fiduciary rule implementation

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By Joe Duran

There's plenty of speculation as to what will happen with the implementation of the Department of Labor rule that holds advisers for retirement plan participants to the fiduciary standard. Whether the rule is delayed, amended or implemented, only time will tell. In the meantime, let's discuss the new uncertainty and its impact on the wealth management industry. We should all understand that the rule is well past the tipping point and the industry is forever changed regardless of the rule change. Let's review the three key areas of impact.1. How we deliver our services. The transition of advisers to the fiduciary standard has been occurring for well over a decade and most firms have been on a fast track to adapt over the past year and a half. While the DOL rule expands the application of the standard, the vast majority of brokers, even at the big brokerage firms, already have a growing plurality of their clients and assets being held to ... Read full post

Feb 1, 2017, 5:04 PM EST

Time for financial advisers to reimagine their offices

By Joe Duran

A slew of articles in several media outlets from CNN to TechCrunch have recently highlighted a medical disruptor called Forward that opened its first “doctor's office” in San Francisco in mid-January. I think it holds an important perspective into what is in store for all of us and how our offices operate. The flagship location completely reimagines the patient experience. Unlike the uncomfortable, stuffy waiting rooms most of us are accustomed to, the space is designed with an open, inviting floor plan with interactive gadgets and six private consulting rooms. It is a highly digitized, interactive experience in which patients design their own health plans and have monitors to track their health. This data is measured on their mobile devices and shared with a dedicated team of doctors and nurses 24/7. As if that is not disruptive enough, they charge a flat $149 fee per month to give the patient an initial screening, as well ... Read full post

Jan 17, 2017, 5:58 PM EST

Facebook challenge 2017: Moving beyond money

By Joe Duran

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, publicly shared his personal challenge for 2017. He intends to meet people from all 50 states. His stated goal is to use technology to “change the game so it works for everyone.” In order to do that, he is spending the year learning from the customer how his firm can help improve their lives. What improvements would clients of the wealth management industry want from their advisers to improve their experience? As ironic as it sounds, what I've found from my own direct conversations with clients is that they want us to spend less time talking about money and more time discussing their lives.We have built an entire profession reinforcing the importance of building a certain size nest egg and focusing individuals on getting to a magic number. People are encouraged to make personal sacrifices today to provide for a future promise of security. Along the way, no one really knows what the... Read full post

Dec 12, 2016, 9:25 AM EST

Lessons from Google: How advisers can maintain relevance in a changing world

By Joe Duran

Recently I had a fascinating visit to the Google headquarters to spend the morning with their marketing and ideation folks. Google's perspective on how mankind gathers and shares information is illuminating and can teach us all something about how to maintain relevance in a changing world.THE EVOLUTION OF INFORMATIONSince Google has the lofty mission of informing the world, it makes sense that they obsess over how we all consume information. Here is how they view the shifts in consumer behavior over the past few decades:• From the Broadcast Age: Powered by TV, radio and newspapers. Big media created content and we consumed it on their timetable. All communication was one sided and on the timetable of the content providers.• To the Information Age: Powered by the expansion of fast internet access. This era allowed for a massive expansion in reach and scope of information. Consumers have access to more information at their... Read full post

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