Douglas Boneparth’s financial advisor dad counseled him at the start that an FA needs to have “the heart of a social worker and the mind of a capitalist.”
The younger Boneparth, now 36, would take that a bit farther to add a third vital: the nerve of a relentless marketer. Or else how would pandemic-lacerated 2020 turn out to be the RIA’s very best year? He tells all in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.
In 2021, Boneparth’s flourishing New York City-based practice, Bone Fide Wealth, has had an equally super start.
Managing client assets of nearly $90 million, he attributes the good news to hammering away at marketing and promotion ever since he founded the firm four years ago.
Those efforts paved the way for prospects to connect with him when, amid the pandemic and economic decline, they realized it would be wise to have a financial plan.
High-earning millennials are the advisor’s niche, and right now, he says, these young professionals are seeking “greater peace of mind,” despite the security of annual income between $400,000 and $1.2 million. In the interview, he offers an explanation for their angst.
Specializing in the millennial cohort from his firm’s inception, Boneparth is now focusing on the upper part of that age group and a bit beyond: high earners in their late 20s to early 40s.
In concert with that, he is starting to provide some sophisticated investment vehicles in addition to his core model portfolios. The expansion will include creation of an alternative investment platform for direct indexing and limited partnerships. To begin with, in 2019 he launched a tactical portfolio.
To differentiate his practice from others, Boneparth’s branding and marketing thrust kicks off with an attention-getting logo. Admittedly kooky, it is his own Elvis-pompadour hairdo, sans the rest of his face.
The advisor — a naturally funny guy — can also be relied on for witty tweets. The day Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced he would step over to become executive chairman this summer, Boneparth tweeted: “Congrats to Jeff Bezos for achieving FIRE. Can’t wait to read his blog.”
Though now focusing on older millennials, the CFP, whose practice is smack in the middle of New York’s financial district at 7 World Trade Center (a location that, to be sure, helps promote his brand), is by no means forsaking America’s youth: He has already begun to connect with Generation Z about financial planning.
It’s never too early to rev up the marketing engine for people on the ascendancy, he believes: Gen Z are those who were born between 1997 and 2012.
In the interview, maintaining that “demand for financial advisors is the highest it’s ever been,” Boneparth warns FAs: “If you’re not focusing on how you can bring in new clients, that could be a really big problem for you this year.”
His marketing strategies embrace a book that he authored, “The Millennial Money Fix” (Career Press 2017), co-written with his wife, attorney Heather J. Boneparth, as well as exposure as the millennial voice of the CNBC Digital Financial Advisor Council. He is also a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards ambassador for New York.
Boneparth grew up in Boca Raton, Florida, and had an early start while in college, working part time in his father’s Ameriprise Financial practice. By age 25, he was already a CFP.
In 2008, he relocated to New York City, handling operations and administration for another Ameriprise advisor. On the side, he began building his own book. He also enrolled in NYU Stern School of Business to earn a master’s degree. (His undergraduate degree is in public relations.)
At NYU, he networked with and indeed prospected classmates his own age. It took little time to choose fellow millennials as his client niche.
Boneparth went independent in 2012, partnering with an FA, exiting at the same time, that he’d worked with at the firm. In 2014, he completed his master’s and two years later went solo to open Bone Fide.
ThinkAdvisor recently held a phone interview with the RIA, who was speaking from his home in New Jersey. Looking ahead, he sees financial planning as an FA’s key strength. “You can’t computerize a human relationship,” he argues.
Here are highlights of our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: You write that investment management has been commoditized. What are the implications?
DOUGLAS BONEPARTH: The future of the profession is to lead with financial planning, because that isn’t a commodity. It’s tied to the [FA-client] relationship and the specific advice you give. People have the tools to do a lot of things on their own. That’s why there’s fee compression in investment vehicles and in what advisors are charging. But you can’t computerize a human relationship.
And, of course, there are ways of working with individuals that are more than just buy-and-hold low-cost indexing. Your thoughts?
Yes. At some point, clients are going to want access to other ways of investing for limited portions of their portfolio or their net worth. [Many millennials] are really interested in going above and beyond that, and can afford to. There are plenty of strategies that can provide access.
Are you offering any?
Yes. Over the last year, we’ve been working on creating our own alternative investment platform. So, to run alongside the core strategic investment models we’ve always run, we’re going to open the door to a whole universe of alternative-style investments, including direct indexing platforms and limited partnerships.
Is the tactical portfolio that you introduced in 2019 one of the new strategies?
It’s a start. It’s a simple timing model that a handful of clients take advantage of. It’s just one [additional] way we can provide more value in investment management.
To what extent are you paying attention to next-gen investors — Generation Z — born between 1997 and 2012?