Joe Duran

Duran Duranblog

Joe Duran

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

Nov 20, 2014, 2:44 PM EST

Hard truths for bosses: When you're the problem, not the solution

By Joe Duran

About a year ago, I realized that our company had grown bigger and more complex than anything I'd ever been involved with. While that should have been cause for celebration, I was feeling frustrated and so maxed out that I could barely sleep at night. It was clear to me that I had hit my ceiling. The way I had been working for the past 20 years was simply not going to be effective if I wanted to help our firm continue the exponential growth that had been part of our DNA since our founding a decade ago. I suspect that my plight is not that different than many folks have felt at the midpoint of their careers or at key inflection points in their businesses. It's remarkably easy when you see things not working to point fingers and find excuses. However, it's important to remember that if there is frustration at the top, there is even more anxiety for the people who work with you. It was clear that in order for us to continue growing, I... Read full post

Oct 30, 2014, 4:08 PM EST

Big 3 business catastrophes: How to cope with a shock to the system

By Joe Duran

Last Saturday morning, I was making a quick breakfast for my 6-year-old daughter prior to running out to coach her 8 a.m. soccer match. As we ran out the door, I noticed I had six text messages on my cell phone. They'd arrived at 2 in the morning and were all from Matt Stewart — a dear friend who co-founded College Works, the country's largest residential and commercial painting company. He is a brilliant entrepreneur and a lovely family man.He was in Cancun, Mexico, with several hundred people from his team at their annual recognition awards and had fallen down a steep flight of slippery stairs. The fall had snapped three of his ribs and punctured a lung, which was bleeding. He had also torn his shoulder muscles while trying to catch himself on the railing.He was laid out in a hospital bed in a foreign country coping with excruciating pain, with no food or water, and worried about how he'd get home, whether he'd be OK and how... Read full post

Oct 10, 2014, 2:45 PM EST

A client's bill of rights: Being prepared to deliver what your customers want

By Joe Duran

I've had the pleasure of working as an adviser for over two decades and while I don't feel that different, other than the undeniable evidence every time I look in the mirror, there is no doubt that what people really want from our industry — and the advisers who serve them — has really changed over that time.As is often true, buyers progress more quickly than the market that serves them. I think that is the case for many advisory firms. While many clients have been looking for something different from their financial adviser, and forward-leaning advisers are evolving to meet their needs, many firms are staying with what has worked in the past. Many successful advisers are choosing to stay the same, not adjusting their services or the positioning of their firms to reflect the change in the marketplace and clients' expectations. Truth is, we unwittingly deliver the service we think our clients want. Sometimes it's important... Read full post

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