John G. Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth Management, just published a collection of essays from financial luminaries called A Force for Good: How Enlightened Finance Can Restore Faith in Capitalism.
Meeting with the editors of REP. magazine and its website, Wealthmanagement.com, Taft made the case that the book was the beginning of what he hoped would be a fruitful discussion on how the financial services industry needs to pivot towards serving society and creating sustainable, long-term goals for the improvement of all, not just those set to profit in the short-term; in other words, a 180-degree turn from the forces that brought us to the brink of disaster in 2008. It is, Taft argues, a matter of self-interest and survival as much as it is a moral calling.
At REP. and Wealthmanagement.com, we have seen this play out in the retail arena. Power in finance has shifted toward the retail financial advisor, and that’s a good thing.
No longer just salespeople at the tail end of Wall Street, advisors have come into their own as professionals. They’ve created independent businesses, and moved away from the sales-based model and towards holistic financial planning. Those in the national brokerages are gaining more power to call their own shots and run their offices the way they see fit. All want to use the tools of financial services firms to achieve the best outcomes for their clients.
In survey after survey, consumers will express low levels of trust for financial firms, but high trust in their financial advisor, even if that advisor works for an “untrusted” firm. That kind of relationship is increasingly recognized as one of the most valuable assets on Wall Street; whoever is closest to the end client ultimately wins.
So while there are dozens of award programs aimed at financial advisors, there are few that recognize advisors sit at the center of a growing ecosystem of businesses—custodians, asset managers, technology providers, TAMPs, marketers—all with programs helping that advisor meet the objective of providing the best service to their clients.
To fill that gap we are launching our first Wealthmanagement.com Industry Awards this year. It will be held Sept. 24 at a dinner at the Mandarin Oriental in New York. We’re looking for the programs or initiatives that help advisors build successful businesses. It could be a custodial service, a brokerage, a practice management program or advisor-distributed fund from an asset manager, a thought leadership piece, a new plug-in to a customer relationship management platform, a social-media marketing initiative, etc. … If it’s meant to help our core audience do their jobs better, we want to highlight it.
We are taking nominations directly from firms on our website. (Advisors can’t nominate a firm, but I’d encourage you to urge the service providers you feel strongly positive about to do so.) It’s free to enter. We have an excellent panel of independent judges with diverse areas of expertise to help us find nominees and, ultimately, a winner to be announced in September.
Our judges include:
Tim Welsh – President and Founder, Nexus Strategy
Sean Walters – Executive Director and CEO, Investment Management Consultants Association
Martine Weinhold – Chief Operating Officer, Sullivan, Bruyette, Speros & Blayney
Craig D. Pfeiffer – Founder and CEO, Advisors Ahead
Philip Palaveev – CEO, The Ensemble Practice
Tom Lydon – Editor and Publisher, ETF Trends
Julie Littlechild – President, If Not Now Research
Darrin Courtney – Research Director, Wealth Management, CEB TowerGroup
T. Neil Bathon – Founder and Managing Partner, Fuse Research
My thanks to all of them in advance for helping us highlight the best firms supporting financial advisors. Stay tuned for more announcements about the program.
As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.