Showing posts from 2019


This time of year we can slow down and examine the many things that we are grateful for in our life. I’m very grateful for the acceptance and support regarding my MS diagnosis. No need to revisit that, but if you need to learn more read my blog on the subject.  This week I’ll share who and what I’m grateful for since it is easier for me to write to this group than talk to them in person. I need to work on that, but after 57 years I’m not optimistic about changing anytime soon. Sorry

I have great friends from my school and my job. Even though we might not talk daily, we can pick up easily where we left off. My friends’ spouses are great too. They love my wife and in many cases have led the generous efforts supporting my family. Boys will be boys so I’m very grateful for their love and support too. If any of us are doubting the power of diversity then my experience should blow that out of the water! I’m grateful.

I always complained about attending required family events. …


The impeachment hearings have dominated our news feeds. How will you feel if the decision doesn’t go your way?  Our blog this week will examine how we feel after we make a big decision like resigning our job or hiring a new wealth manager. Our experience and observations can help but unfortunately they leave us wanting more.


Making a change feels good until it doesn’t. Unfortunately our new job has many of the same problems that existed at our old job. I tell my colleagues when they resign that “the grass is brown everywhere”. The same buyers remorse is true for clients when they choose a new wealth advisory firm. Once the new firm smell has disappated. The way we can address this issue is to remind the person why they made the change.  Don’t assume everything is fine. Check-in and assure the person why they made the change and that you and your firm are happy they joined. Experience has shown that if we don’t support their decision their joy will be ephemeral.



Our in-boxes and social media feeds have been filled with the new streaming offerings from Disney and Apple et al.  If we haven’t already, we might be compelled to cut our cable. Our monthly podcast recommendations will hopefully cause you to also turn off your radio and stream one of our recommended podcasts.

I started my career on Wall Street. Our edge was research discussed on our morning call. I still need morning information and I turn to Robinhood Snacks. Informative and funny.

I scratch my desire to learn by listening to  Pivot. The hosts are a tech journalist and a NYU professor.

Real Life
I know we are adults, but I always learn something from Mr. Rogers.  Finding Fred will remind you why we need to love more.

The car companies are on board too. Linking your phone via Bluetooth is a required option.


Don’t worry this will not be another blog on The Schwab/TD “merger”.  I will link to several of my favorite posts on the deal, but my focus will be on the impact the deal will have on clients and independent wealth management firms. Hopefully this time will be different but looking at old playbooks can help. I’ll look at the most popular plays and close with how we can write a new playbook chapter.

Cost Cutting 

Corporate legacies are made through consolidation and the ensuing cost cuts that are identified in the ivory tower board rooms. The redundant costs seem too easy to reduce. I can still remember Chainsaw Al and the press’ love affair with his “genius’. The benefits were short-lived because the beneficiaries were narrow. There was definitely fat that needed to be cut. Time has shown the fat was the benefits of corporate executives. Since they were in charge of the cost cutting they didn’t cut their friends until it was too late. Sounds like income inequality. 




The public impeachment hearings have made me think. How will me make a final decision?  My blog this week will examine how we make big decisions. It isn’t easy but the old school titles confuse more than they help. This blog focuses on Wealth Advisory decisions we all need to make. Thankfully we are not making the impeachment decision but we can learn something from the process.   We will start our journey on the numerous business models and end with an opinion I learned from my children.

Business Models
Each business model requires different titles to work at their firm. A CPA or a CFP can be table stakes for wealth advisory firms. A degree from an elite university gets you in the door on Wall Street and firms like Facebook or Google. The degrees can open the door and agitate friends who don’t want to hear again that you went to HBS. Few successful firms make decisions exclusively on your title. They will require a face to face interview. Bad news for Singer and prep schools who base…


The California Fires have been brutal.  This month's Podcast review will look at what we can do with the helpful information we receive from Podcasts.  Will we listen and implement the ideas in our business or will we disregard the advice and keep doing business as usual?  My recommendations are broken into two categories.  Hopefully we will take the podcast host's advice and evacuate our old business models.

My favorite new free podcast is Creative Processing with the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  His questions could be applied to either Acting or Wealth Management.  I learn something new from the guests and the host that help me every week.


If I seem to be talking out of both sides of my mouth - I am!  Recently I decided to pay for the  Luminary podcast portal so I could listen to Making a Killing with Bethany McLean.  I LOVE the way Bethany thinks which makes me willing to pay to listen to her thoughts.  When my payment cleared I was surprised to find other great…

Life is Difficult

I was diagnosed with MS one and a half years ago.  The shocking news took a while to sink in, but the M Scott Peck quote has continued to reverberate in my head – “Life is Difficult”.  Our blog this week hopefully educates you on MS and the support that the million plus patents in the US need.  This is NOT a pity party, but it will share many items that I think we can use in our Wealth Management business as well.
Snowflake Disease
When my Dr. told me I had MS my initial reaction surprised her.  I shared that I regretted never contributing to The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.  She smiled and said that telethon is for Multiple Dystrophy not Multiple Sclerosis. I needed to do some research on MS.  I was frustrated and scared by what I found on the internet.  It seemed like everyone who had MS experienced different symptoms.  Some were in a wheelchair, but some appeared to be fine.  The internet search (SEO) put the negative symptoms at the top of our search.  My wife and family were c…

The Conch

Last week’s financial services industry news of Schwab and other brokerage firms cutting commission rates to zero reminded me of one of the two books I read in High School (no Cliff Notes).  The book, Lord of the Flies, described how a group of marooned kids organized themselves.  They utilized a shell, The Conch, to signify who could talk at their large gatherings.  The meetings were organized by Ralph who would limit the time each kid took.  This week I will discuss who has The Conch and what they are telling us to do.  I will play the role of Ralph and decide when its time to pass The Conch.
Wall Street
Wall Street has had the conch for years.  They created high margin products and “sold” them to their clients.  This structure was exposed during the Financial Crisis and opened the door for competitors to educate their clients about these conflicts of interest.  The other area Wall Street made money was supporting Hedge Funds through their Prime Brokerage unit.  This group provided …

Perfect Podcasts

Perfect conversations and Podcasts are in the eye of the beholder.  My podcasts and my children are perfect in my humble opinion.  I continue to simplify this monthly summary to organize the list and hopefully you will agree with me.  Apple has a head start with their star based rating system. Twitter followers and downloads matter too.  This month has some new items I hope you like too.

Business Podcasts
My new favorite is Naval - How to get Rich.  I've found that this podcast delivers ideas that will cause you to think and falls into my perfect podcast group.  My advice is to listen to each podcast numerous times.  Our first impression might be wrong.


We all need a break from our daily life and from academic content.  I love movies and live theater as an escape from daily life.  Drama podcasts with a good script and good actors are perfect.  My favorite is 1619.  This podcast is a double whammy.  It is moving and it educates us on the history of slavery. 

There are no perf…


Mr. Pickens, Boone to his friends, passed away on September 11, 2019.  This blog will summarize the numerous lessons that Boone lived and shared with us during his amazing life.  We hope you will reference and adopt them in your personal and professional lives.  Boone shared most of these beliefs with his co-workers, friends, investors and the traditional media.  Many of his beliefs are common to successful people, however, his generous heart is unique.
Great at Making Money
Boone was great at and enjoyed making money.  It was a challenge that he mastered first as a Wildcatter in the oil business. He understood that every deal wouldn’t work out as planed and he was able to evaluate where he could improve his results on subsequent deals.  He was self-aware.  Boone took his experience to his next ordeal in the public markets with Mesa and as a corporate raider.  Same risk reward profile but the results and prices were public. The mindset and discipline were the same.  Boone’s next ventu…

Pick on Someone Your Own Size

The financial press has been filled with articles about RIA transactions.  I’m happy for the industry but I think we need evaluate how we got here.  My blog this week will examine why RIAs are growing and selling at an unprecedented pace,  One of my RIA friends observed that we got here by positioning ourselves versus the ills of Wall Street.  I’m not as PC as my friend so I will take a hard look at how RIAs need to pick on somebody there own size.  RIAs have a stellar reputation of always doing the right thing for there clients.  We don’t need to be a bully to grow and ultimately sell our practice.  Here are some ways we are picking on our competition.

Wall Street
Clients and their advisors know that Wall Street has many conflicts of interest.  Selling against that fact seems to have run its course.  The breakaway advisors I follow after they realize that a fiduciary standard does NOT pay well start to adopt Wall Street conflicts to narrow the pay gap.  My April 2016 article is worth  …

No Free Lunch

As we have discussed in the past monthly summaries the number of Podcasts is exploding.  That is the good news but the bad news as discussed in the Wall Street Journal is that the free model with limited advertising is not working.  Specifically podcast listeners are not buying enough products from the sponsors of the shows to pay the bills.  Several popular podcast are signing up name brand (read wealthy) companies to sponsor the podcast and pay the bills.  This reality coupled with the fact that most podcasts hit the wall at 12 episodes has caused us to tweek our monthly categories to include monetary support and frequency.  This “pivot" should improve our summery. Please share your opinions through the comment field.  

HBS has the dough and they are releasing numerous podcasts that I have found very helpful.  My current favorite is Cold Call.  I know we hate that term but the podcast covers case studies from HBS and the presenters are actual HBS professors.  I might have …


Last week’s tumultuous market moves caused me to revisit an old economics concept of elasticity of demand. Don’t worry there won’t be a test at the end of our post, but we want to examine several real world concepts that impact the wealth advisory world.  Unfortunately the academic concepts and other rules of thumb aren’t helpful in the real world.

Most business relationships start and continue with a fee analysis.  The only guaranteed fee reduction is to cut out the middleman.  Once the client identifies the Middleman we can start focussing on the fees that matter.  ETFs and The Internet have been effective disrupters of the Middleman.  The challenge for clients and advisors is that indiscriminately cutting fees can leave us with a poor solution.  We need to understand what is provided for each fee so we don’t end up driving a car that runs but is embarrassing.

The trade war with China was one of the many reasons for the market selloff.  Whether the President is correct or …


Technlogy is a double edged sword.  Technology has made our lives easier but as we bought more smart phones we also became more vulnerable to being hacked.  The Russians and other hackers have attacked our elections and recently have attacked our businesses.  These hacks are news worthy but until we are personally hacked it is someone else’s problem.  I have been hacked but the credit card monitoring software caught the hacker before they could buy a car using my identity.  While it scared me it confirmed Jamie Dimond’s statement that hacking is our country's greatest risk.  Banks will contunue to invest in solutions to combat hackers and we will need to trust but monitor our accounts.  Our monthly  review of our favorite podcats will continue.  Hackers be damned!

First Person
We are moved by the real world podcasts that summarize the experiences of real people from the first peson perspective.  Real trumps fiction and actual stories move us.  Our favorite is Room 20.  First pers…


We recently celebrated the Fiftieth anniversary of our “Giant Leap” trip to the moon.  Watching the CBS coverage of the event was informative but the commentators, while they were impressed by the accomplishment, they were also asking what is next?  Mars was the logical answer.  Fifty years later we have not been back to The Moon and Mars is only referenced in movies and John Gray books. Our country also pays lip service to other important items like gender equality.   This week we will examine why these struggles continue and hopefully break the glass ceiling once and for all.  The solution seems obvious but we must be missing something.  The items we have identified will be discussed and hopefully they can solve this issue and we can move on!  It should be easier than going to Mars.
I recently spent time with a family friend who has recently retired from teaching.  I asked her how we could improve our education system and she did not hesitate to answer.  She believes we need …

Person in the Mirror

Michael Jackson's song Man in the Mirror still plays in my head eventhough it was released in 2007.  This week we will examine what we can learn from The King of Pop as we create our social media profile.  We won't be writing about how to write a hit song, but we will examine some tools that we have at our disposal.  There are a few warnings, but we also list some best practices.  We will start with the warnings and end with best practices.

Echo Chamber
WARNING!  Social Media can become an echo chamber that sends our ideas back to us creating a false sense of agreement.  Followers and Likes feel good but they can create an echo chamber of feedback and a false sence of importance.  Statistics show that most people who like your posts don't even read them!  Software that tracks time spent on your post is money well spent.  We use Hub Spot.  Don't use these facts as a reason to NOT use social media.  Use it and complement it with tools to evaluate its impact.  We ALL beli…

The New Podcasts are Coming

When compiling my monthly list of podcasts I was surprised to read that there are 540,000 podcasts!  At last count there are only 114,131 mutual funds.  The large number of podcasts has caused us to adjust our ranking to look at Established Authors and First Person Accounts.  We and our clients have adopted podcasts for our commutes and our walks. Advisors  need to be aware of what they are listening to and not rely on Apple.

It's not surpriing that jornalists and authors have found their way to the podcast neighborhood.  Both professionals are expert at research and writing.  Two skills that many bloggers and podcasters lack.  Our favorite, this month is Bethany McLean best selling author and Forbes columnist.  Her podcast Making a Killing is worth a listen.
First Person
Nobody can tell an emotional story better than an interview with the person who experienced the event.  Podcasts are perfect for this reality.  Our favorite is Man in the Window.  Warning this podast will …

New Leader

Most of the topics covered on this blog reference breakaway advisors.  That story is getting tired so this week we will examine breakaway leaders.  The two that stand out because of their success are the leaders at Dynasty and Rockefeller. We have written about the old guard leaders before.  This week we will examine that there is more than the person in charge it is what they provide clients and advisors.  We have more questions that we all need to consider before changing jobs.  
Legacy Business
Many leaders in the independent wealth advisory business made their mark on Wall Street in a dated business model.  I resemble that remark and welcome the questions on how I can transition my Wall Street “success” to an independent and un-conflicted business.  Advisors and clients should ask the question of how you will change.  We need to be careful to not take the political approach of changing everything the past administration accomplished.  We can’t be that clueless but every replacement …