The Intersection of Money and Music: An Interview with David Canter
David Canter is trading his laptop for a guitar—at least for part of the inaugural Future Proof Festival in Huntington Beach, California. The executive vice president and head of the registered investment advisor (RIA) segment at Fidelity Institutional’s Clearing & Custody Solutions is slated to join his bandmates onstage, where they will perform as the group Hi-Fidelity.
The group, started in 2011, covers a range of rock, reggae and jam band hits. I sat down with David and between riffs of some of his favorite tunes (yes, he was playing guitar and singing during the interview), he shared how to connect with an audience, what he’s learned from blending his personal and professional pursuits and how the Grateful Dead inspires better leadership.
Future Proof: Most attendees at Future Proof will know you from your work at Fidelity, but you’re really making your appearance at the festival as a musician.
David Canter: It’s funny you say that. I haven’t been quiet about my musicality. I love music.
Live music provides such a great chance to commune with people. It’s really a way of bringing people together.
That’s why I’m so excited about Future Proof. This event is about more than just the function of wealth management. It’s about bringing community to it all. Offering live music and other creative outlets fosters a sense of community and culture.
FP: You’ve been playing music since you picked up a clarinet at age 9, which you later swapped for a guitar when you were a teenager. What are the risks and rewards of performing at Future Proof?
David: I deeply appreciate the team aspect of playing in a band and other members of the band have all achieved a level of mastery. I view myself as a credible musician, but I’d say that what I bring to the band is a sense of cohesion. A band is a collection of individuals, just like any team, any business, any company. What I love about our band is that we all gel.
The easy risk to cite is that you worry you aren’t very good. You always worry that you’re not going to satisfy the audience. But I think we’ve gotten to a place where we feel that we’re a credible act. We probably have at least 50 songs we could just pull out of a hat, immediately.
[At this point David broke into a few bars of the song “867-5309 / Jenny” by Tommy Tutone.]
We also want to be good participants at the broader festival. We love the feeling of helping to make events more successful.
FP: If you need a vote of confidence, you’re booked to perform at a four-day festival in Huntington Beach, California, that’s already drawing comparisons to SXSW. Would you say you’re booked more for music than for speaking?
David: Not quite. They’re almost equal, with the edge going to speaking. I’ve done a heck of a lot of speaking, because people want to hear about our business perspective. But it seems like they really get more enjoyment out of hearing the music.
By the way, you should know we play all original songs—made famous by other artists.
[David laughed and played a few bars of the song “Deal” by the Grateful Dead.]
I’m excited about the chance to surprise and delight the audience and stretch creatively. I’m also excited about seeing these Wall Street-type, wealth management people rock out.
FP: One of the aspects I see advisors continually trying to balance is the intersection of their personal and professional personalities. Do you see Hi-Fidelity blurring the lines between who you are professionally and who you are personally? How do you navigate that intersection?
David: It goes right back to traveling up the value stack. It goes back to authenticity.
If you can find a way to connect with others that’s broader and more emotional than just the functional elements of your profession, you’ll have better outcomes. The best advisors, the best business professionals, can carefully integrate their personal life and their charitable life into their professional life.
FP: You’re a huge fan of the Grateful Dead. What do you think the band’s guitarist and singer, Jerry Garcia, would like about Future Proof?
David: Jerry wasn’t exactly a perfect person, but he had this mindset that you shouldn’t strive to just be the best at what you’re doing; you should strive to be the only ones that do what you do.
I think that’s what he would like about Future Proof. It’s about creativity. It’s about imagination, specialization, doing something no one else is really doing.
To my knowledge, no one else is doing a wealth management event that infuses creativity, the arts and music. It’s a crossover event and I think that’s awesome.
You know what else I think he would love? Even though the Grateful Dead was not a surf band, he’d love that it is happening in Surf City, USA.
FP: What album does every advisor need on their playlist? And what’s your favorite song?
David: This is an easy one. The Beatles’ album “Revolver” is perhaps one of the greatest albums ever made.
My favorite song of all time and one that inspires me is the Grateful Dead’s “Ripple.” It’s such a beautiful song with so many instructive lyrics. It’s a leadership ballad: not everyone’s going to follow you, because the path might be yours alone.
FP: I can’t wait for more later this year! What should attendees expect to hear when you hit the stage in September?
David: The rock hits are fun. I love crowd pleasers. We’ll probably play some Prince and Red Hot Chili Peppers. We might do some reggae. We’ve been known to play some Bob Marley. And you know, it wouldn’t surprise me if you heard a song from The Beach Boys, too.
John Swolfs is the Chief Content Officer at Advisor Circle, a product studio for growth-oriented financial professionals. John is responsible for creating dynamic programs for Advisor Circle’s world-class events which include Future Proof festival and Exchange, the world’s leading ETF event.
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