From left: Michael David of Carson Group, Tom Ruggie of Ruggie Wealth Management, Teri Shepherd and Ron Carson of Carson Group. (Photo: Jeff Berman/ALM) From left: Michael David of Carson Group, Tom Ruggie of Ruggie Wealth Management, Teri Shepherd and Ron Carson of Carson Group. (Photo: Jeff Berman/ALM)

Executives from Omaha, Nebraska-based Carson Group used TD Ameritrade’s National LINC 2020 conference in Orlando, Florida, to provide tips to RIAs on what they can do to maximize value and transform their firms’ futures.

It’s important to “not only deliver value” to clients but to communicate that value to them, Michael David, managing director, partner and wealth advisor at the firm’s Carson Wealth division, said during a conference session Thursday.

Pointing to an 80-year-old client of his who each quarter asks to see a statement of advisor fees, David said, “if you’re adding value then you can defend” those fees, but “if you’re not adding value,” you stand to lose the client.

What advisors need to keep in mind also is that the “most important thing is the client experience,” so they should make sure they’re providing “differentiated value” for them, according to Teri Shepherd, Carson Group president.

Similarly, Tom Ruggie, president of Central Florida-based RIA Ruggie Wealth Management, which joined Carson Group last year, bringing its $566 million in assets, warned advisors: “If you’re not creating value for your clients, you’re not going to keep your clients,” especially as the industry “continues to move more and more towards commoditization.”

Ruggie tries to focus 60-80% of his time working on three key areas that “I’m most passionate about,” he said.

“Those three areas also happen to be areas that are important to build business value for me,” Ruggie said, noting they include: meeting with his top clients and top prospective clients; doing fun and entertaining things with top clients; and mentoring other advisors.

Another topic discussed by the panelists was the continued consolidation that’s been seen in the industry. “We’ve all been talking about consolidation in the industry for a long time,” Shepherd pointed out. But she asked rhetorically: “What are we really doing to prepare for it? And how can we help advisors when that happens and to be prepared for it?” One thing that’s in the best interest of firms amid consolidation is owning their own data, she said.

One “huge benefit to having a data warehouse and data is being able to apply artificial intelligence in the future,” Ron Carson, founder and CEO of Carson Group, told attendees.

The “biggest risk” to an advisor’s clients “always has been and always will be” making the wrong investment at the wrong time, he pointed out. Using AI can help an advisor better serve clients because the technology makes it possible for customers to get 24-hour “proactive” service, he said, predicting this capability will be a “game changer in our profession.”

The growing importance of fintech in the advisor sector is a sign of just how much the industry is changing. With that in mind, David told advisors they don’t have to necessarily be proponents of change, “but you better be an agent of change.”

David also encouraged advisors to invest in the younger generation because “less than 5% of our industry is millennial and I think that’s just a massive problem.”

One clear sign of that problem, Carson pointed out: “We have more advisors over the age of 80 than under the age of 30 today.”

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