“Tom Nally has big shoes to fill,” said Susan John as she introduced Nally as lunchtime keynote speaker at the NAPFA national conference in Chicago on Thursday, referring to his recent succession of Tom Bradley as president of TD Ameritrade Institutional. Not to worry, though, said the president of the fee-only planners group in her introduction of Nally, “because he has big feet.”
After the laughter subsided, Nally got serious in his first keynote address as TDAI president, first lauding the growing might of RIAs at the expense, mostly, of the wirehouses, but then urging his listeners not to miss the opportunities afforded by Generations X and Y as clients, and women. He also encouraged advisors to “focus on running a business rather than a practice,” defining what he meant by both terms. Nally finished by addressing the elephants in the RIA room: the SEC’s implementation of a fiduciary standard under Section 913 of Dodd-Frank and who will regulate advisors under Section 914.
As for the competitive status of RIAs, Nally (left) pointed out that while RIAs currently manage more than $2 trillion, “we can increase that tenfold if we start now,” partly by becoming better businesspeople. RIAs, he said, are “better positioned for growth now than at any other time,” encouraging planners to turn their practices into businesses by implementing a strategic growth plan, building a formal succession plan and focusing on branding. “Set one or two achievable goals,” he counseled, and “take advantage of your custodians’ resources” in building those businesses.
Getting to the meat of his presentation, he argued that the wirehouses “have shot themselves in the foot” by focusing on short-term profitability and by ignoring “the Gen X-Gen Y opportunity” of 75-80 million younger investors who will be the recipients of $18 trillion in wealth transfers from their boomer parents.
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To market to those younger investors, however, Nally said advisors must create new offerings and educate the children of their current clients. Since, he said, the research shows that “every generation likes to work with their peers,” he also urged veteran advisors to hire younger advisors.
Acknowledging that some boomer advisors might have strong opinions about the “entitled” younger advisors, he nevertheless said that “junior advisors can help you attract younger investors, using their skills, especially in electronic communications. As for the future viability of their practices/businesses, he asked the crowd, “Wouldn’t you rather leave your clients in the hands of someone you trained yourself?”