Depending on what you read or who you follow, the fate of the wholesaler is perilous.
With team structures and investment platforms becoming the preferred operating model for so many advisors, how does today’s wholesaler successfully harvest, deepen and retain key advisor relationships?
We’ve brought together two special guests to address just that.
Mark Spina is head of U.S. Private Client Services at Russell Investments.
In this role, he is the senior executive responsible for leading and expanding Russell Investments’ U.S. business with leading wealth management firms. Mark is a member of the firm’s global executive committee and global risk committee, tasked with overseeing the firm’s global business. He reports directly to the CEO and is based in New York City. Mark has extensive and diverse experience with business management, sales, marketing and product responsibilities.
Dave Maloney, formerly a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley, created a ten event athletic contest in 2008 to settle a friendly bet among friends. In 2009, Maloney converted the contest into a fundraising competition to pay homage to his mother’s battle with cancer.
Originally called The Wall Street Decathlon, the contest brought together advisors, asset managers and HNW investors to compete in a 10-event contest modeled after the popular NFL Scouting Combine. Now called The D10, it has expanded to 5 cities (NYC, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Houston), attracted participants from 1000+ broker-dealers, asset managers, professional services firms, technology, and energy companies, and is responsible for raising $9.3M+ to fund pediatric cancer research .
“You can learn more about a person in an hour of play, than a year of conversation.”
Software may be eating the world as stated by heralded venture capitalist, Marc Andreessen, but as the business of financial advisory increases its reliance on ‘big data’ to create efficiencies in the face of compressing margins, the wholesaler’s job becomes ever more challenging.
Enter The D10.
Created by former wirehouse advisor, Dave Maloney in 2009, The D10 brings together highly curated communities of advisors, asset managers and HNW investors to foster business relationships through a collective pursuit of health, wellness, and philanthropic impact.
Maloney’s background as an advisor shapes The D10’s customer acquisition strategy, one that pursues HNW investors in order to attract top-performing advisors and, therein, the keenest of wholesalers.
How can wholesalers benefit?
First, The D10 isn’t a 1-day experience.
Top-performing wirehouse and independent advisors spend months preparing, often at private athletic training sessions organized by The D10. Here’s a full slate of sessions offered by Equinox Fitness in Houston, TX for example. The frequency and intimacy of these training sessions offer wholesalers opportunities – for free – to build relationships outside of the office.
While personal screens may be driving an advisor’s investment decisions and, therein, the people the advisor interacts with in the office, the relevance of the personal screen is mitigated, or eliminated, when the advisor and wholesaler are sharing character-testing physical challenges like training together for The D10.
Are top-performing advisors really more accessible inside these gyms and are they devoting time to this style of athletic training?
Look no further than a front-page article from December 2016 in Crain’s Chicago Business titled, “Golf courses are out. Today’s execs bond at the gym” where Peter Lee, Founding Partner of $3.5B RIA Summit Trail Advisors is featured thanks to his role opening Chicago’s STRIVE Village gym.
Has this method worked for wholesalers to improve business?
Indeed. As Barron’s ranked teams from Merrill Lynch in New York successfully grew assets materially through relationships formed at The D10 with HNW investors, PIMCO’s NYC-based wholesaler (also a D10 participant) cultivated a relationship with the advisors. Examples involving Morgan Stanley advisors, RIAs and Lord Abbett wholesalers stand out too.
What happens to wholesalers who are unable to participate?
Participating in The D10 is not a requisite for a wholesaler to derive value from it.
Instead, The D10’s roster of participants is publicly available, therein offering the astute wholesaler a data point from which to bridge a relationship with specific, participating advisors.
Moreover, The D10’s online hub and weekly email blast showcases emerging health/wellness products and services. Once again, the astute wholesaler absorbing this knowledge is now positioned to offer insight into market-disrupting products, or new best-in-class services.
What does that say about the wholesaler’s acumen in the eyes of the advisor? ‘Tis better to be known for possessing knowledge than for a lack thereof.
Would an advisor care?
Whether the advisor is health conscious is irrelevant. The high-performing advisor is more likely to be aware of the wellness trend because of the category of investor it attracts.
In his book, Sweat Equity: Inside the New Economy of Mind & Body, Bloomberg’s New York Bureau Chief and best-selling author Jason Kelly substantiates the seismic shift in consumer behavior since the turn of the century that led to the emergence of brands such as Soul Cycle, Equinox, and IRONMAN.
This shift created, according to Kelly, “An emerging $3T economy of health and wellness” largely catering to the wealthiest demographic.
How does The D10’s philanthropic impact serve the wholesaler?
Socially responsible investing (SRI) continues to grow in popularity among investors, and this social consciousness is proving to motivate more purchasing decisions than ever before. Therefore, the advisor participating in The D10 is (likely) using it to build a platform to reflect his/her beliefs.
And why not? As Billions co-creator, Brian Koppelman, recently said on Tim Ferris’ podcast, “I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want to be understood.”
The best wholesalers take note of what’s important to the advisor and use it to create alignment.
As technology plays a greater role in our social and professional lives, and influences more decisions that ever before, let’s not forget there’s arguably no more fulfilling gift in life than sharing it with people we respect, people who inspire, and people who make us better.
We’ll see you on the starting line…
Written by Dave Maloney