RIA Rising

HighTower’s Whiteboard Is Ready for Its Closeup

With more than 3,500 hits on YouTube, it’s not quite a viral sensation. But a new video posted on the website by national RIA HighTower is getting some attention over its plainspoken take on the fiduciary issue.

The two-and-a-half minute video is simple enough. Chief Executive Elliot Weissbluth, speaking off-screen, likens the difference between brokers and fiduciaries to that of butchers and dieticians. Butchers will sell you delicious meat, and dieticians will sell you advice about what kind of diet is good for your health.

“Brokers are butchers selling product, and fiduciaries are dieticians looking after your health,” Weissbluth says. “The problem is, most people think their butcher is a dietician.”

The visual in the video is a disembodied arm (not Weissbluth’s) drawing crisp sketches on a whiteboard of butchers and dietitians and, for emphasis, some of Weissbluth’s dialogue. The whiteboard is a standard tool that Weissbluth uses in his pitches to wirehouse advisors to join HighTower; the idea of brokers-as-butchers was one he came up with two years ago.

Produced by Jennifer Connelly’s JCPR, HighTower’s public relations agency, the video is one of about a half-dozen that the RIA has prepared to illustrate various financial issues. Weissbluth told me today they completed the whiteboard video about a month ago and had it in the can. It was after Greg Smith’s now-infamous resignation from Goldman Sachs in an op-ed piece in The New York Times that they decided its time had come.

“Jennifer and I said, ‘Gee, I think this is a really good time for us to join the conversation,’ ” Weissbluth said. The video went up two days after Smith's op-ed piece.

Expect more YouTube postings in the future, he added.

“We’re using video aggressively to carry the message out because this is the modern age. Video is clearly the way that a lot of people communicate. I think it’s effective. It’s certainly persuasive.

"People chuckle. They laugh. A lot of people say, 'Finally, now I get it. It makes sense to me.' "

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