Published April 4, 2018
Words like “invitation only” and “exclusive” make us wake up and pay attention. That means there is something special and set apart about a group we can all learn from because they’re the best. That’s exactly what was going through my mind as I attended the Barron’s Top Advisors Summit just a few weeks ago in Orlando, FL. What makes these elite advisors stand out? How do they tackle the industry issues we all face? What challenges have they overcome? With more than 500 of the crème de la crème of independent financial advisors present, we had ample opportunity to learn, observe, and network with some of the most successful advisors today.
As usual, the conference boasted an impressive schedule with a number of sessions covering thought-provoking topics and hot-button issues we all face in 2018.
Diversity in the Workplace is (still) an Issue
This topic came under scrutiny when the heads of the largest custodians took the stage. Jon Beatty, Charles Schwab & Co.; David Canter, Fidelity; Tom Nally, TD Ameritrade; and Mark Tibergien, Pershing Advisor Solutions engaged in meaningful dialog over this critical topic. Culture shifts for any organization are difficult and the financial industry is no exception. While each agreed there is a lack of diversity in their own respective advisor bases, It’s going to take some time and a commitment to intentionally implementing new practices to embrace true diversity. Each has promising, strategic initiatives to influence change in this arena.
Leveraging Technology and Powerful Digital Solutions
Of course, no conference would be complete without a hearty discussion around digital platforms and where they fit into the elite advisors’ world. Some large advisors like Adrew Altfest, with Altfest Personal Wealth Management; and Michael Yoshikami, Destination Wealth Management; explained how they are using technology solutions to enhance the client experience and to increase engagement with the younger generation of investors. Their viewpoint? There is no need to fear new technology; instead, we should learn to embrace it and harness it to draw clients into a collaborative conversation.
The Old Adage “It’s Not What You Say…”
A very intriguing presentation was delivered on body language and how and why it is important. Body language communicates volumes and can help draw your audience in. Some key tips for delivering presentations that keep your audience engaged included: Keeping an open posture (palms open to the room), move around (but don’t pace), use hand gestures only on keywords (but don’t point your finger), make an OK sign with your thumb and pointer finger, and create a finger tent to showcase you are comfortable and pleased with the audience. Who knew?
Digital Marketing for Financial Advisors
I was honored to have the opportunity to moderate two esteemed advisors and discuss how to market in a digital age. Joined by David Kudla, Mainstay Capital Management; and Jordan Waxman, HighTower; we went through some of the integrated tactics each of the firms uses to stay top of mind and increase brand awareness. We uncovered ways to increase online presence utilizing Search Engine Optimization strategies and deliver quality content to advisors and prospects on a regular basis.
ScratchWorks (a.k.a. Shark Tank for Advisors)
The pinnacle of the Barron’s conference was the closing session on Day 2. ScratchWorks, sponsored by Fidelity, was a reality show created and executed live at the conference. With 3 finalists presenting their ideas to a panel of “barracudas” in the hopes one of them will agree to invest their own real money to help the company expand its efforts, it was fun, entertaining and incredibly intense. Ultimately, the “winner” of ScratchWorks, was Robert Sofia, the inventor of Snappy Kraken, a turnkey marketing solution for advisors.
Overall, the Barron’s Summit was a place to mix and mingle with the upper echelon of the profession while learning the tricks of the trade and key insights into where the industry is heading. Next up for Barron’s is their Top Women’s event to be held in May. Be sure to check out the full report of top advisor rankings by state on the Barron’s website or view upcoming conferences.