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2018 IA 25 RIA/Advisory Winners

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The RIA channel is experiencing rapid change. Rock stars in the space, like Ron Carson, Michael Kitces, Ric Edelman and Angie Herbers, are helping to define the transformation.

For Ron Carson, there’s more change than meets the eye — though his recent beard has attracted plenty of attention. The Carson Group, which he leads and includes Carson Group Coaching, Carson Group Partners and Carson Wealth, switched its broker-dealer affiliation from LPL Financial to Cetera Financial about a year ago.

Carson regularly imparts his best practices on how advisory firms can grow. One of his top tips is “to have a simple message, [which] trumps ‘value proposition’ every day.” Rely on partnerships for important operations, like technology, rather than go it alone, he also says, and focus on being the disruptor and not the disrupted.

“If you’re not moving as fast as the outside world, you’re going to go away,” the wealth manager shared recently on Twitter. “Remember, the price of progress is the pain of change, but a little pain is good!”

Michael Kitces writes “The Nerd’s Eye View” blog, is a partner and research director of Pinnacle Advisory Group and a co-founder of XY Planning Network. Advisors turn to the popular blogger and speaker for everything from tech updates to tax analysis; they also count on him to push the envelope.

“Risk tolerance is about a heck of a lot more now than just ‘does your investment not grossly violate your time horizon and your willingness to take risk?’” Kitces said during a webinar last year.

Advisors should consider linking clients’ investment accounts with risk-tolerance software, for instance, which “gets us to the high-touch conversation faster than we did before,” he points out. They also should keep financial planning front, right and center: “There are too many very large, very scaled-up asset managers and direct-to-consumer companies.”

Technology can help advisors compete effectively across generations, since it is “as relevant to your old clients and your young clients. It’s [also] as relevant to your affluent clients as your small-account clients,” Kitces explained.

Ric Edelman, chairman and co-founder of Edelman Financial Services, also is adamant about the need for advisors to embrace technology. “Our value-add [for clients] is undergoing a major shift,” he said at TD Ameritrade’s LINC conference earlier this year. “That means adopting artificial intelligence … and showing clients how we will be their personal finance quarterback. If we do that, then clients will let us manage their assets.”

The author of “The Truth About Your Future,” says financial professionals must “become experts on [data] analytics and stay ahead of the machines. Being able to say, ‘Hey Siri, what’s the value of my portfolio?’ is only about a year away,” he explained, referring to Apple’s voice-activated virtual assistant. Plus, when it comes to integrating technology into their operations, advisors need to wade “knee deep.” “I’m so cutting edge, it’s down to my socks,” Edelman joked during the TD event.

Blending technology and human capital is the specialty of Angie Herbers, a monthly Investment Advisor columnist who also is the founder and CEO of Angie Herbers LLC and Beyond U Inc., which provide practice management consulting and training to financial advisory firms. Herbers pushes advisors to carefully think about the gamut of consequences tied to what they are and aren’t doing to grow their practices.

As she highlighted recently, the so-called “client experience” isn’t about what you do, it’s about “how you make your clients feel — the goal is to make your clients feel that they belong at your firm, and that you are grateful they are there.”

The consultant reminds advisors that one of the worst things they can do is to “make a client feel that they don’t have enough in investments to belong at your firm.” Instead, strive to make every client and prospect feel “that you are thrilled to see them and your firm was created to serve clients exactly like her or him.”

— Read the profiles of the 2018 IA 25 winners in the other five categories:


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