Duran Duran

Learning from the 2019 innovators

Innovation in financial advice goes well beyond technology

May 3, 2019 @ 1:53 pm

By Joe Duran

In mid-April, InvestmentNews hosted its third annual Innovation Summit. I was honored to be the chairman of the event and facilitate a day of sharing, learning and celebrating this year's award winners.

On a lovely spring afternoon in New York City, a room full of industry leaders watched an action-packed lineup of TED-style talks and fireside chats with a galaxy of wealth management's most influential folks.

The summit's format encouraged everyone to share openly how they are adapting their firms to changing times and help each other to build the most competitive firms they can for the future. It was a uniquely collaborative environment.

There were more insights than could be reasonably shared in one article! However, I'm happy to offer three of my big takeaways from listening to all of these brilliant folks shaping our financial world.

1. The largest and most interesting market opportunities are not millennials! Almost all industry research and talk seems to focus on the millennial generation, but there was barely a word mentioned about them at the summit. Instead, there was a consensus about the major opportunities hiding in plain sight:

• Dealing with the impact of people living longer than ever,

Working with women in a way that is more inclusive and relevant to their concerns, and

• Making wealth management relevant beyond investing and planning.

2. Innovation goes well beyond technology. Even though it was an innovation summit, there was very little talk about fintech. I heard far more of a focus on how successful wealth management firms are adapting: new ways of expanding services to clients; discussions about how pricing will evolve (interesting thoughts about flat fees for planning and Schwab's subscription service that will be the subject of my next post); and a really fascinating discussion about the evolving role of business leaders in shaping innovation within their firms. Some of my favorite points are summarized below:

• Look beyond your four walls and beyond the industry for how clients' needs and habits are evolving.

• Bring in a diverse set of opinions. A broader mix of age, race, gender, religions, backgrounds, skills and even aptitudes and personalities on a team accelerate innovation and keep you competitive.

• Innovation requires some failures, so don't try to avoid them. Embrace them instead. Lots of small failures lead to big successes.

• Create a culture of never-ending improvement, and don't be the only source of it. Empower people to shape their work and improve the firm.

• Question everything, even your sacred cows, because they might be holding you back.

3. Our industry is increasingly being shaped by an ever-expanding set of brilliant women and younger leaders. I was encouraged to see over a third of the leaders on the panels and award recipients were women, and there was also an encouraging slate of younger folks sharing their insights. That's a big improvement from the first summit I attended just a few years ago.

Unfortunately, there is still not yet enough ethnic diversity, but it's encouraging sign that the industry profile is evolving and the new leaders aren't just paying lip service to progress. They believe that diversity is an asset. It is clearly a priority for every participant to have a broader set of perspectives shaping wealth management for years to come, one firm at a time.


If there was one overarching theme shared by all the speakers, it was an optimism about the future and the incredible advantages of evolving and innovating within your firm sooner than later. I felt an overwhelming sense that there has never been a more disruptive time, and so there has also never been a more rewarding time to innovate in almost any aspect of your wealth management practice.

The flip side of the coin is that staying with the status quo has never been more costly. I left feeling invigorated, excited about the future of our industry and already looking forward to next year's summit.

(More: When Envestnet and Apple pivoted)

Joe Duran is founder and CEO of United Capital. Follow him @DuranMoney.


What do you think?

View comments

Upcoming event

Sep 10


Denver Women Adviser Summit

The InvestmentNews Women Adviser Summit, a one-day workshop now held in six cities due to popular demand, is uniquely designed for the sophisticated female adviser who wants to take her personal and professional self to the next level.... Learn more

Most watched


Finding your edge from Tony Robbins

Guru Tony Robbins has helped a lot of people, but armed with his psychology Financial Advisor Josh Nelson has helped his practice soar.


Finding innovation in your firm

Adam Holt of AssetMap explains how advisers understand they need to grow, but great innovation may be lurking right under your nose.

Latest news & opinion

Redtail CRM data breach exposes personal client data

The information exposed includes names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

This strategy can double your estate-tax exemption

'Portability' allows a surviving spouse to tack the decedent's exemption on to his or her own. Despite the higher threshold for paying estate taxes in the 2017 tax law, experts recommend filing for the benefit.

Couple in Morgan Stanley advisory account wins $519,000 arb case over unsuitable investments

Plaintiff's lawyer says junk bonds, futures contracts and derivatives were inappropriate for his clients.

The growth of factor-based investing

Advisers are making decisions about clients' portfolios by using the same characteristics that govern factor-based ETFs.

Finra makes its list to target hundreds of rogue individuals

The regulator sees patterns in the behavior and disclosures of high-risk brokers.


Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting investmentnews.com? It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist investmentnews.com

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.


Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print