This is Greg Friedman’s third appearance on the IA 25. Read his 2008 and 2009 profiles here. Click here to view the complete list and Special Report schedule for extended profiles for each of the 2013 IA 25 honorees.
Greg Friedman began our interview by noting he didn’t have much prepared and would probably end up speaking in a stream of consciousness. If so, it’s the most succinct and well-organized stream of consciousness we’ve yet encountered.
“I think a lot about the incredible coming sea change that’s coming in the way clients work with advisors and how it will change the competitive landscape,” he said, before self-consciously adding, “I know that’s not really new, but I have a new way of looking at it.”
Friedman, who describes himself as the hardest working man in wealth management, is president of both advisor CRM-provider Junxure and Private Ocean, an innovative West Coast wealth management firm. He also describes himself as someone who never really believed that human interaction on a personal level would be superseded by technology and always said as much. He’s now beginning to change his mind.
“Think about psychiatrists, for example,” he noted. “They’re employing video conferencing and mobile chat. Situations that are considered very personal, and financial advice would certainly fall into that category, are increasingly making use of communication technology.”
It’s one thing for adults to be exposed to new technology to which they are then able to adapt, even though they might still like the “feel” of a book or magazine or a face-to-face meeting. It’s quite different for adults who are raised with said technology and don’t know of anything else. Friedman suggested that when the latter group comes of age, it could represent a tipping point.
“As you watch the proliferation online of advice dispensers of financial services, more and more are cheap and easy. We dismiss it by saying it’s not really customized to the client, but more and more it is. Is it completely the same as going to a financial advisor in person? No, of course not, but the space is getting more and more crowded.”
Naturally he’s thinking about not only the tech side with Junxure, but also how to integrate it into Private Ocean.
“I’m thinking about the technology and how to serve a younger generation, but also about how to do it affordably.”
He’s hit upon a sophisticated, scalable platform that would provide advice for clients who are just starting out. He would then “graduate” them to more personal advice once they acquire assets and the need. If they reach that point, great; if not, they stay on the tech platform.
“Up until a few years ago, something like this wouldn’t have crossed my mind. Now, with my 76-year-old mother who travels all the time and has had an online travel agent for 10 years who she’s never met in person, I’m thinking about the possibilities.”