For years, Dennis Gallant was a well-known director at Cerulli Associates, leading the firm’s consulting and new business development efforts. He was also responsible for generating key Cerulli Reports, covering financial industry trends and market intelligence. Not coincidentally, he was often quoted in the press — even elevated to something of a media darling.
But, over the last couple of years, the 44-year-old Gallant has assumed a low public profile while he quietly built his own research and consulting firm, GDC Research, and along with it a track record of assignments for key industry players. This fall, GDC Research and partner Practical Perspectives produced a comprehensive study on advisor best practices in the retirement income and longevity planning space that is likely to be much talked about. In January, Gallant and colleague Howard Schneider, president of Practical Perspectives, will launch a new monthly column here in Research magazine.
Suffice it to say Dennis Gallant is back doing what it is he does best: identifying emerging trends and evaluating their implications for the marketplace.
Gallant’s move to build his own firm comes at a compelling moment.
As he puts it: “This is not business as usual. This is a decade of transformation. I didn’t want to just provide insight from a research standpoint, but help clients build actionable solutions. I didn’t want to just talk about the trends, but help people retool and reposition their firms. There are enough trends here to create a revolution.”
Trends in the mix include the baby boomer wave; clients seeking more advice; heightened compliance issues; and a shortage of advisors. The outcome: a shift from an investment-oriented marketplace to one that is advice-oriented.
“Look at all these trends and there’s just this huge domino effect — and the role of the advisor is shifting as well. It’s much more complex. Clients are looking for more holistic solutions, fewer [advisor] relationships, peace of mind and broader capabilities and services,” says Gallant, whose firm — the GDC stands for Gallant Distribution Consulting — is based in Sherborn, Mass. “And they want their advice delivered in a different fashion.”
And, on an institutional level, such questions are beginning to arise as: How do I support and service this new-generation advisor? How do I train new recruits? What does it take to train a planner? What products do I need to develop?
And then there is the question Gallant asks himself daily: How do you help firms — asset managers, broker-dealers, clearing firms, technology providers, among them — deal with all of these transitions?
Over the years, Gallant has developed close relationships with financial advisors across the spectrum of channels and it is to them that he often turns as a source of research and insight. The new report, “Advisor Best Practices: Retirement Income & Transition Support,” is signature Gallant: loaded with research that’s bolstered by unfiltered opinion and insight from advisors themselves.