In this issue, we bring you our annual list of 10 individuals we think are going to make a big difference in the wealth management industry in the year ahead.
It’s a subjective list, of course. In years past, the list skewed pretty heavily toward young technology types, and for good reason. The financial-services industry is being transformed, and many of the players doing the transforming are more Silicon Valley than Wall Street.
But this year, through no calculation on our part, we seem to tilt more toward people who have been in the industry awhile, and by any definition have accomplished plenty of things that make them not ones to watch, but already watched. What drew us to them is that while they may be industry veterans, it’s the new projects they are working on that we are betting will resonate.
As an example, Doug Ketterer had a long career at Morgan Stanley. But he has ambitions to bring a new business model to the independent broker/dealer (IBD) space that is worth keeping an eye on. Smaller IBDs are having an increasingly harder time, given all the reasons we know about: increasing regulatory burdens, technology changes, etc… As we’ve written about, several small IBDs have been deregistering, and joining larger firms, sometimes as an OSJ.
But it’s not certain the future is in ever-larger networks of independent reps, either. Independent b/d's need a different model other than one that is primarily facilitating transactions, with a bit of practice management, thought leadership or investment research thrown in for good measure. They need to become the bedrock of an independent advisor's practice, providing the kind of services that an independent advisor needs to build a practice, including perhaps giving advisors the means to come together in teams and recruit other advisors for growth and succession. That seems to be what Ketterer is trying to build with Atria Wealth Solutions, and that’s why it’s on our list of Ten to Watch.
Likewise, Mark Hoffman—a longtime fintech entrepreneur who has sold companies to State Street and what is now FiServ. But what we think is exciting is the work he’s doing now with LifeYield—bringing the power of algorithms and rules-based decision making to the part of financial planning that gets little attention: how to manage a portfolio of assets across, on average, eight accounts in a tax-efficient way. “It’s not rocket science,” he says, but it is a messy problem, and one that responds well to automation.
More to the point, he and his business partners have been in the wealth management space for some time, and know more than most what will really help advisors. They are making the tool available direct to advisors this year.
Too often we think of disruption coming from outside the industry. It’s interesting to see wealth management start to reinvent itself from the inside.