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The 2013 IA 25 Slideshow: Thought Leaders

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Among the most influential people in the industry are the researchers, economists and consultants whose work shapes the way advisors do business these days. Whether shattering long-held beliefs like the 4% withdrawal rule or breaking new ground with behavioral finance and the next generation of advisors, the people featured here are supporting advisors with vital research to improve their practices.

Others, like Elliot Weissbluth and Mohamed El-Erian, are leading firms with unique business models and that interpret behavioral finance to understand how it applies to investment strategy and client relationships.

aRIAThe Alliance for Registered Investment Advisors

Clockwise from top left: John Furey, principal, Advisor Growth Strategies; John Burns, principal, Exencial Wealth Management; Jeff Concepcion, CEO, Stratos Wealth Partners; Ron Carson, CEO, Carson Wealth Management Group; Brent Brodeski, CEO, Savant Capital; Neal Simon, CEO of Highline Wealth Management; Matt Cooper, president, Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors

Individually, the names that make up the Alliance for Registered Investment Advisors (aRIA) are impressive; together they form a powerhouse of industry thinkers bringing valuable practice management research to independent and wirehouse advisors.

“As an industry, we don’t talk enough about who’s doing transactions and deals,” Furey, aRIA’s managing member, told Investment Advisor. “Our group is doing deals, and then we’re sharing our knowledge for free with the industry. We’re walking our talk because transactions are happening, and we’re proud of that.”

Read more about aRIA here.

Angie Herbers, Angie Herbers Inc.Angie Herbers

Founder, Angie Herbers, Inc.

When she started her company 12 years ago, Angie Herbers envisioned a research firm that provided some consultative work. Today, it’s a prominent consulting firm with a distinct research division that supports the solutions developed by Herbers and her team at Angie Herbers Inc.

One of those solutions is to a problem Herbers has been describing for some time. “I have been talking about a coming talent shortage in the industry for years,” she told Investment Advisor. “Now, we are at a serious crisis stage of the talent shortage. In order for any advisory firm to keep their growth momentum, they absolutely have to be able to attract talent to serve the clients they add.”

Read more about Angie Herbers here.

Elliot Weissbluth, HighTower AdvisorsElliot Weissbluth

Co-Founder/CEO, HighTower Advisors

HighTower Advisors’ unique business model is just one aspect of what sets the firm apart. Elliot Weissbluth, the firm’s co-founder and CEO, compared the future prospects of wirehouse firms and independent firms like his. “Do the incumbent firms servicing the majority of investors have the prescience and the commitment to invest and change their businesses” to meet the needs of the next generation of investors? “No,” he told Investment Advisor, because the independent firms “are significantly ahead in innovative technology and solutions, and the big firms are playing catch-up and may never catch up.”

Read more about Elliot Weissbluth here.

Mark Tibergien, Pershing Advisor SolutionsMark Tibergien

CEO, Pershing Advisor Solutions

In 2003, when Tibergien first began writing for Investment Advisor, he wrote, “I’ve found that like most professionals, financial advisors are well-trained to help their clients, but receive no formal education about how to make a living doing it.” Since then, he has urged advisors to become more than just good planners to be successful. He has challenged them to be not just good business people but true leaders as well.

Read more about Mark Tibergien here.

Michael Finke, Texas TechMichael Finke

Professor, Texas Tech University

Withdrawing just 4% of a retirement account each year has long been considered a safe way to take distributions in retirement without exhausting the account too quickly. Michael Finke challenged that idea earlier this year, calling the success of the 4% rule an “anomaly.”

“The supposedly safe methodology isn’t as safe as it was in the past,” he told Investment Advisor. “Withdrawal rates will need to be modified and more dynamic to coincide with expected longevity and provide protection and income should retirees live for longer than 30 years.”

Read more about Michael Finke here.

Mohamed El-Erian, PIMCOMohamed El-Erian


As a leader of the firm that brought the phrase “new normal” into the popular investing lexicon, El-Erian understands that the investing environment today is far more volatile than it was pre crisis.

“For this reason, I believe it is important to invest for the long-term within clear risk parameters, seeking to maximize an investor’s potential without being held hostage to tactical traps and harmful unconscious biases,” he told Investment Advisor. “To this end, and in addition to our work on unconscious biases, we have incorporated for quite a while now insights from behavioral finance. This speaks not only to investment strategies, but also product design, client interactions and the manner in which we organize our firm.”

Read more about Mohamed El-Erian here.

Olivia Mellan, Money HarmonyOlivia Mellan


Olivia Mellan is a well-known speaker and couples therapist whose “money harmony” concept explains that everyone has a money personality. When the relationship individuals have with money is out of balance, according to Mellan, the amount they have will do nothing to get them back in shape.

“Advisors need help,” Mellan told Investment Advisor, in learning “how to listen to clients with patience and empathy and to help them lighten the emotional charge” around money. “When people come into therapy, I ask them, ‘How do you feel about being here? What do you hope to get out of it?’ I think advisors should ask these same questions” because the answers will help set up the expectations for success for the planning relationship.

Read more about Olivia Mellan here.