I'm moving this blog to a new web address.  I hope you will come visit me at Third System Blog

You will recognize some of my furniture but the new place has a few other bloggers that you will enjoy..

Hope to see you soon and Thanks for your continued support.

The 13-year Itch

Morgan Stanley finally left us.We all feared this would happen and we even thought about leaving too.How did we get here and what do we do now?We will take the role of a marriage counselor in this post and remind us why we married in the first place and what we can learn from our mistakes.
History of Protocol
When the Protocol began in 2004 there were three firms that believed the agreement would save them money and reduce lengthy legal battles.It did both but it also encouraged two established law firms to support advisors who wanted to use The Protocol and breakaway from Wall Street.One of the two firms published a good summary of The Protocol that is worth reading.
RIA Growth
Over the years more firms began to join The Protocol and as of today over 1,700 firms are Protocol members.Most are RIAs that are growing by winning new clients and advisors from the original three firms.We seem to have reached a tipping point that has demanded the attention of Mr. Gorman.My bet is it is more t…

Hot Dot

Cryptocurrencies are the new rage.  The sales vernacular for this is they are "The Hot Dot”.  Most of the time Hot Dots should be ignored and their glow will fade.  How can we tell if cryptocurrencies are here to stay or are they another Hot Dot?  There are a few experts on this subject, I am not one of them, but I have read some thoughtful and well-researched pieces on the subject and I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
It would be nice if there were just a few cryptocurrencies to choose from but there aren’t.  There are 1,182 and rising.  We have all heard of Bitcoin and my instinct is if I’m going to stick my toe in the crypto water Bitcoin is a good place to start.  My reasons start with liquidity and end with price transparency.  The downside to liquidity and price transparency is they promote volatility, but let’s be honest with ourselves; isn’t that why we are buying Bitcoin NOT IBM.
Big Wigs
Two big wigs in the financial services industry have shar…

Old Guard

When I started managing the PCS group at Montgomery Securities in 1999 John Straus and Greg Fleming were established leaders at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch.John joined the independent ranks in 2015 and the news this week that another icon of the Old Guard, Greg Fleming, was joining Rockefeller caught my attention.  The news made me want to reach out and offer my advice on how his new world was similar but also very different.
Good management skills are like riding a bike.Once you learn and perfect them you can take them anywhere.John and Greg were known as great managers because they understood the unique needs of the ultra high net worth client and they embraced the advisors that could meet these needs.This combination worked as the advisors established robust businesses and John and Greg were known as people who could guide them to this Promised Land.  Unfortunately Morgan Stanley and Merrill believed that their brands and products were a huge contributor too.

Robber B…

Different Script

Private equity has dabbled in the Independent Wealth Management (RIA) space over the last few years.Some of their initial investments are reaching their seven to ten year maturity and private equity investors are following a familiar script.Their script calls for a sale, but a few investors are doubling down. New investors have arrived with an optimistic outlook for the wealth management business model.I hope they have learned from the mistakes of their peers and they adjust their script.
Recent largePrivate Equity investments in RIAsgot our attention and caused us to ask why do Private Equity firms think that wealth management is such a great investment?In our opinion Wealth Management firms might not have the obvious inefficiencies that can be solved and drive Private Equity value. The comparison that helps me is how I buy a suit.When it’s time to buy a new suit for work, I have two clear choices.One option is to buy a custom suit from a master tailor near my office in downtown San …


My friend Carey Perloff, the long-standing artistic director of ACT, begins the MFA program every year with a question.What do you give an audience that doesn’t cost you anything – it is free!A provocative question to start your masters program and a question that every service providers should ask themselves too.If we don’t ask technology disruptors will.  Let's learn alongside ACT’s MFA students.
MFA Class
Carey Perloff is a legend in her field.Even if you don’t love live theater I would recommend reading or listening to Carey’s book Beautiful Chaos.It reads like an entrepreneurial journey with experiences and guidance that can benefit us all.In addition to the business similarities discussed in her book the training ACT provides actors can benefit anyone who needs help making presentations that will mesmerize and impact their audience.Several companies agree with me and have hired ACT’s trainers to help their professionals with presentation skills and improv.Don’t these firms …


This is my 100th blog post!While I don’t believe in milestone birthdays this milestone seems worth celebrating (no gifts please)Celebrating is important so I can recognize the many contributors to this blog and I hope it will be helpful to others who are considering joining the blogosphere as a positive contributor instead of a snarky anonymous commenter.

In retrospect everything looks obvious.When we started our new blog in 2008 blogs were not as mainstream as they are today.Getting an article published in the Wall Street Journal or your local newspaper was still the primary PR goal.With that in mind my blog partner, Randy Baum, and I created a team with publishing experience. Our first partner was Lori Marshall who is a professional ghostwriter with several best selling books.We also partnered with an ex-journalist turned PR and Marketing professional, Greg Berardi, from Blue Marlin.Randy also had some writing chops as an English major in college.I was the weakest link and po…