Welcome back to the 300th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!
My guest on today's podcast is Joe Duran. Joe is a Partner and Head of Goldman Sachs Personal Financial Management, a national wealth management firm within Goldman Sachs which oversees more than $100 billion in assets under advisement for tens of thousands of client households.
What's unique about Joe, though, is how he founded United Capital, built it to become one of the largest independent wealth management firms in the country on a path to disrupt the established incumbents, but ultimately decided to sell the firm to Goldman Sachs in pursuit of the next level of national scale… and in the process has been able to witness firsthand the power that true economies of scale and a recognized national brand can bring to an advisory firm’s ability to grow.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about how Joe has witnessed firsthand as an advisory firm owner, and now a partner at a leading global investment management firm, how the financial services industry is evolving in real time as more banks and brokerage firms are truly adopting financial planning and implementing advisory services at national scale and reach, how Joe sees the strategic shift of national firms into the advisory business is leading them to engage in significant mergers and acquisitions into 401(k) plan providers and stock plan administrators as a way to reach the next generation of clients during their working years before independent advisors ever get a chance to work with them when they’re ready to retire, and why Joe feels that independent advisors are underestimating the power of a brand as when it is well known what a firm stands for and why they matter, it makes it easier to stand out, connect with and retain clients, and also to recruit talent.
We also talk about why, after nearly two decades, Joe decided it was best for his firm, United Capital, to be acquired by Goldman Sachs so that he could leverage their larger teams, technology, and brand power to expand services to more clients across the globe, why Joe feels that financial advisors are doing a disservice to themselves and their clients if they are not investing more in FinTech and utilizing it to develop more efficient processes as it is needed to compete with larger institutions and their service offerings, and why Joe believes that the real threat to advisory firms is not fee compression, per se, but the pressure of expanding the value of what they do to justify the fees they charge, and how as a result advisory firms will have to find new ways to differentiate themselves through more specialized service offerings and implementation (including tiered services) to be able to continue to scale and grow.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Joe shares how, in the early stages of United Capital and during the 2008 economic crisis, a private equity investor failed to fulfill their funding commitment and forced Joe to not only raise capital for his firm, but forced a decision to cut executive compensation by 70% so he could avoid instituting mass layoffs, why, even though many advisors fear robo-advisors will replace human advisors one day, Joe is confident that as long as complexity is high and the cost of being wrong is high, there will always be a place for humans in the advisory world, and why Joe believes that navigating a successful career path involves an equation of having expertise, discipline, and above all, self-awareness of what it takes to really create deeper, more intimate relationships with clients and those around us.
So, whether you’re interested in learning about how Joe is navigating his position now at Goldman Sachs after the acquisition of United Capital, why Joe feels it is important for advisors to establish a brand to remain competitive with banks and brokerage firms entering the advisory space, or why Joe believes that scaling and growing a firm begins with asking for the compensation that is directly related to the value of service offerings, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, with Joe Duran.