Future Proof Digital was thrilled to feature Michael Kitces, Penny Phillips, and Josh Brown for a discussion of all things advisor-related! We covered a variety of topics in a compelling discussion, including referrals, capacity, marketing, and technology – some of which they agreed on and some of which they didn’t.
I had the pleasure of engaging with not just friends, but these true industry titans for an electrifying 50-minute conversation on the future of our industry. The best part? I only had one job: sit back and absorb the conversation. Days like these make me realize I have the best job in the wealth management industry! The goal was to move swiftly and cover a multitude of topics, however, those plans quickly shifted when we launched our first poll.
We asked the audience which area of their practice they need to modernize, and I must admit I was somewhat surprised by the results. 44% responded Marketing, 31% responded Back Office, and 27% responded Tech Stack, and 24% responded Portfolio Management. This shows that this audience of RIAs and advisors are most concerned about their marketing efforts. While that wasn’t surprising, I expected more advisors to be concerned about their tech stack. Technology changes rapidly, and just as you get comfortable with one tool, it becomes obsolete.
Giving the audience what they wanted, we focused a significant portion of our conversation on marketing and how to think about it strategically. We started by discussing referrals and their role in the modern era. Michael shared insights from his yearly survey on how financial advisors market their services, revealing that referrals are not the fastest path to growth. He cited reasons such as the inability to “crank up” referrals, unlike a content machine or sending more emails. Josh chimed in, sharing that Ritholtz Wealth Management (RWM) sees a steady stream of referrals with real dollars, but it doesn’t match the size and scope of other channels. He was also quick to point out that it wasn’t until year five that referrals started impacting growth significantly.
Penny was more positive on referrals and said advisors need to rethink the process. She suggested creating a sense of exclusivity and reframing the conversation with clients: instead of asking if there are people like them who could use Journey Strategic Wealth services, share your vision of what you’re building and let clients know that you’re constructing something extraordinary with limited room to help other families like theirs. This approach makes clients feel like they’re part of the process.
From there, I posed a question about capacity and its importance for advisors to understand. While there was some debate around the use of technology and AI, two things became crystal clear in my mind.
- You need to know what you want to be – a rainmaker who meets with clients and brings in assets, or a business owner. These are two separate paths with different outcomes and skill sets.
- There’s capacity even within technology. Josh stated successful advisors will manage 200-300 households using excellent technology resources, but Michael pushed back on that number and challenged how invested and present you can truly be at that level. Both Josh and Penny agreed that the limit lies more in managing the human and the relationship, not the tasks – technology can handle those. Perhaps one of the most intriguing points made was about building a solid team. The concept of a strong team isn’t new, but the focus is more on whom to hire and how to help them grow. Josh was quick to emphasize the importance of finding complementary pieces; if everyone’s an alpha, nothing will get done. All agreed that you need workers, not just CEOs, for a successful business. They discussed finding people who may not want to be advisors but are more interested in serving clients and creating a fantastic experience for them as they grow with the firm.
As time was winding down, we shared a second poll asking the audience what their biggest hurdle was to getting started. Unsurprisingly, 44% of the audience responded with “not enough time in the day.” This perfectly highlights the point about capacity and the importance of knowing what role you want to play in your business.
We closed out with invaluable advice from our speakers. The final question: what advice would you give to someone two years into the business? Josh enthusiastically recommended reading Michael’s blog, Nerd’s Eye View, listening to his podcast, and watching Penny’s YouTube show, Practice Management. Michael chimed in, advising newbies to sit in on as many client meetings with experienced advisors as possible, offer to do follow-up tasks, and simply sit, listen, and learn. This sage advice is something we can all live by. We gave Penny the final word, and she did not disappoint. Her message emphasized having conviction and belief in oneself and feeling that you belong in the room. It’s not about faking it till you make it, but rather having a belief in what you want to build, why you want to build it, and staying true to yourself. These are indeed great words we can all live by.
This discussion genuinely sparked my excitement about Future Proof and the ongoing, dynamic conversations that will be happening throughout the event! Future Proof, The Largest Independent Gathering of Financial Advisors, is taking place in Huntington Beach, CA, from September 10th to the 13th. Secure your pass to be a part of these discussions!
Our next webinar will take place on Thursday, May 18 at 12pm PT/3pm ET. Secure your spot today using the link below!