2017 Sales & Marketing Leadership Summit

(Invitation Only)
March 21-22, 2017
 | Palm Beach, FL
Eau Palm Beach

John Brett, Managing Director, Head of Global Managed Investments, Pershing LLC
Steve DeAngelis, Executive Vice President, Head of Distribution, FS Investments

The most exclusive event on MMI’s conference calendar, the Summit annually brings together the advisory solutions industry’s most senior sales and marketing leaders for two days of networking and closed-door sessions focused on common challenges and opportunities. Attendees are generally Heads of Distribution, National Sales Managers, Product/Platform Executives, and CMOs.

Because this is such an extraordinary time in our industry, we are expanding participation this year to allow firms to send additional attendees beyond the traditional limit of two per firm. However, we ask you to bear in mind that the Summit is a senior executive-level meeting, and attendees are generally EVPs, SVPs, Managing Directors, and business unit leaders. 

Additional Information

The 2017 Program

Preparing to comply with the final DOL Fiduciary Rule has no doubt taken up the lion’s share of industry attention and resources this past year. Now the Presidential election results, coupled with Republican control of Congress and new incoming regimes at the DOL and SEC, have injected even more uncertainty into an unsettled situation. But regulatory change is, of course, just one of the major forces that have been converging to drive a period of sweeping change and transformation in the delivery of financial advice. Evolving client needs and expectations, the impact of technology, and major generational and cultural shifts are all creating ripple effects across the advisory space.

With our event scheduled just a few weeks ahead of the scheduled April 10 deadline for initial compliance with the DOL rule, we will, of course, discuss its then current status and business implications. However, we’ll also go in depth on the other important trends – and all through the lens of distribution and, specifically, how these forces are driving new paradigms in sales, marketing and business practices.

In line with this year’s theme of Embracing Change: New Models in Distribution, here is a sampling of the topics we’ll tackle:

  • Navigating in the post-DOL world – How are business and distribution models changing in response to the consequences – both intended and unintended – of the DOL rule?
  • Retooling your value proposition – Up and down the advice delivery chain, what are firms doing to align more closely with evolving client needs and successfully articulate the value they provide?
  • Driving distribution efficiency in a lower fee environment – How can firms make Manager-Sponsor-Advisor-Client interactions more effective and productive?
  • How technology is disrupting distribution – With distribution models shifting, is the traditional wholesaler model still relevant?
  • Serving the “Advisor of the Future” today – As digital tools revolutionize how leading Advisors structure and operate their practices, what do they in turn expect from Managers, Sponsors, and Solutions Providers?
  • Making sales and marketing teams more effective – It’s never been harder to get in front of Advisors. How are firms leveraging data and digital tools to improve sales and marketing productivity and execution?
  • Motivating your team to embrace change – Change is hard. What does it take to transform embedded thinking and processes within an organization?

2017 MMI Sales & Marketing Leadership Summit Registration Fee


Standard Registration Fee: $1,550

Volume discount for multiple attendees from the same firm
Starting February 1st, if two attendees from your firm have already registered for the Summit, any new attendees are eligible for a $100 discount from the standard registration fee. Contact MMI headquarters 
at (646) 868-8500 for details and the special code to use during registration.

Cancellations: No refunds will be granted for cancellations after 5:00pm ET on Friday, March 3rd. Substitutions are permitted. Please notify MMI at (646) 868-8500.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Several high-profile sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2017 Sales & Marketing Leadership Summit.

For additional information, please contact Joan Lensing at jlensing@mminst.org or (646) 868-8518.


Download Agenda

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

11:30AM – 1:00PM
Registration and Executive Networking Luncheon

1:00PM – 1:15PM
Welcome and Opening Remarks
John Sweeney,
Chairperson of the Board of Governors, Money Management Institute, EVP, Retirement and Investing Strategies, Fidelity Investments
Craig Pfeiffer, President & CEO, Money Management Institute

Summit Co-Chairs:
John Brett
, Managing Director, Head of Global Managed Investments, Pershing LLC
Steve DeAngelis, Executive Vice President, FS Investments

1:15PM – 2:00PM
Thriving in the New Abnormal: North American Asset Management
In this keynote presentation, Ju-Hon Kwek will present the results of a new McKinsey report which finds that the North American asset management industry is on the brink of a once-in-a-generation shift in competitive dynamics – the result of the convergence of five trends whose joint impact may be unprecedented: 

  • the end of 30 years of exceptional investment returns,
  • a shake-up in active management,
  • an acceleration and shift in the stream of assets moving into alternatives,
  • the expansion of the digital revolution to the entire asset management value chain, and
  • an era of heightened asset management regulation.

These trends will fundamentally rewrite the rules for success in asset management. To thrive in the new environment, firms will need to transform their operating models across many dimensions. They will need value propositions that are more closely aligned with the evolving needs of clients, new technology-enabled investment and distribution capabilities, and new vectors of growth and productivity. In addition, asset managers will need to embrace the notion of “strategic agility,” retooling their organizations and changing internal mindsets, culture, and processes. Finally, successful asset managers will take a "bifocal" approach to resource allocation, combining a disciplined focus on traditional measures of productivity with a willingness to invest in a focused set of priorities that will deliver a disproportionate share of growth in the years ahead.

Ju-Hon Kwek, Partner, Head of North American Asset Management Practice, McKinsey & Company

2:00PM – 3:00PM
Washington Update: A 60-Day Reality Check
Exactly two months into the Trump administration, which has publicly signaled its intent to curtail regulatory expansion, this session will assess the extent of the “new reality.” With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and new regimes at the SEC and DOL, our experts will look at the changes that have occurred so far – both expected and unexpected – and what they portend for the future. Topics to be addressed:

  • To what extent is the Trump administration really good news for the financial industry?
  • Will the new administration follow through on its pledge to “dismantle” Dodd-Frank?
  • What should we expect from incoming DOL Secretary Alex Acosta with respect to the fiduciary rule and his overall stance toward the financial sector?
  • What are the likely marching orders for Jay Clayton at the SEC? How will his approach differ from his Obama administration predecessors?
  • What will be the Democrats’ push-back strategy against a seemingly “Wall Street friendly” regulatory environment?
  • What will be the impact of Senator Warren and other Democrats who serve on key Congressional committees?
  • What other legislation or regulatory initiatives might emerge and have an important impact on our industry?

Troy Thornton, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs

Eric Edwards, Senior Vice President, Head of Government Affairs, FS Investments
Andrew Oringer, Partner, Dechert, LLP

3:00PM – 3:30PM
Refreshment and Networking Break

3:30PM – 4:30PM
Marketing Moves Center Stage
The marketing function is clearly emerging from the background and taking a more central role in the overall distribution organization. While ten years ago, marketing was more often than not viewed as a sales support function, today marketers are assuming responsibility for engagement across the full life cycle of the client relationship – both with advisors and due diligence teams. The recent evolution in the role of marketing has led to a shared leadership position in developing prospects, implementing segmentation strategies and guiding the conversion process. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, successful firms will rely on their marketing teams to enhance the productivity of the salesforce and improve retention initiatives. This panel will deliver actionable insights in the following areas:

  • aligning sales resources with various market segments,
  • improving client retention through differentiated service models,
  • using sales analytics to improve sales alpha, and
  • the future direction of marketing campaigns.

Neil Bathon
, Managing Partner, FUSE Research Network

Karen McCafferty
, Chief Marketing Officer, John Hancock Investments
Neil Siegel, Managing Director, Chief Marketing Officer, Delaware Investments
Marty Willis, Chief Marketing Officer, Nuveen

4:30PM – 5:45PM
Breakout Sessions – Choose One:

Session A: A Ten Year View of the Investment Advisor Channel
The dramatic changes we have experienced in the retail advisor channel are projected to continue and accelerate in the decade ahead, led by the movements toward independence and fiduciary responsibility. Some of the major trends include a doubling of the independent retail RIA channel, a shrinking brokerage sector, increasingly sophisticated investment analytics software, and a barbell effect of over 150,000 branches with one to five advisors counter-balanced by a growing number of institution-like advisory firms and teams. Discussion will focus on how sales and marketing structures and strategies need to be adjusted to meet the diverse investment and product needs of the changing advisor channel.

Bob Herrmann, President & CEO, Discovery Data

Frances Cashman, Co-Head of Sales, Legg Mason & Co.
Julie McConnell, Head of Intermediary Sales & Business Management, Diamond Hill Capital Management
Kirk Strawn, National Director of Intermediary Sales, Altegris

Session B: A Shifting Playing Field for Asset Manager Distribution Teams
At a time when traditional wealth management firms are trying to determine how to navigate regulatory changes and the current market environment, there is a significant power shift taking place.

With the flow of new money into traditional defined benefit plans drying up and funds moving out as participants retire and take distributions, individuals – as opposed to institutional investors – are controlling more and more retirement assets.  This dynamic, coupled with the impending regulatory changes, presents both challenges and opportunities for asset managers.

One clear result is a new set of marketing demands from end investors, third-party consultants, financial advisors, and home office staff to which asset manager distribution teams must adjust.  In this session, executives from leading consultants will share insights and perspective on industry trends and what they are advising clients about:

  • the institutional perspective through a sales and marketing lens,
  • how the trend towards fiduciary responsibility, transparency and minimizing conflict will impact retail distribution,
  • how the platform gatekeeper role is evolving, and who the ultimate decision maker is for asset managers, and
  • the rumored convergence of retail and institutional sales – is it actually going to occur, and will these efforts partner or compete?

Marie Dzanis
, Senior Vice President, Head of Intermediary Distribution, Northern Trust

David Hyman
, Partner, Mercer Investments
John Thompson, Partner and Head of Investment Solutions, Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting 

Reception & Networking

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

7:00AM – 8:00AM
Networking Breakfast

8:00AM – 8:15AM
Co-Chair Review of Day One

8:15AM – 9:15AM
Keynote Presentation
Frank Cooper III is Senior Managing Director & Global Chief Marketing Officer at BlackRock. He previously was Chief Marketing and Creative Officer at BuzzFeed, where he was charged with defining a new content creation and distribution model for brands, as well as leading BuzzFeed’s marketing, creative services, and research and insights departments. Acknowledged by Fast Company magazine as one of the ‘100 Most Creative People in Business’ and a four times recipient of Billboard magazine’s ‘Power 100’, Mr. Cooper is widely recognized as one of the leading progressive brand marketers in the world. His career ranges from serving as a senior executive at iconic music labels Motown and Def Jam, to working as an entrepreneur and executive in the digital space, to serving as Chief Marketing Officer of Global Consumer Engagement for PepsiCo’s Global Beverage Group. Mr. Cooper’s work spans television, short-form video, feature film, sports, and music. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and is the former chairman of the American Advertising Federation.

Frank Cooper, Senior Managing Director & Global Chief Marketing Officer, BlackRock 

9:15AM – 9:30AM
Refreshment and Networking Break

9:30AM – 10:30AM
Executive Spotlight: The Future of Advisory Solutions
Craig Pfeiffer and prominent industry executives provide a C-suite view of the converging forces that are transforming financial advice delivery, offering perspective and a look ahead. As these leaders work to position their firms for long-term success and sustainability, what do they view as the greatest opportunities and most significant threats? How are they evolving their operating models, business processes, and value propositions to remain relevant in a changing wealth management landscape? What are the most valuable leadership lessons they have learned and how are they motivating their teams to embrace change, think positively, and focus on solutions?

Craig Pfeiffer
, President & Chief Executive Officer, Money Management Institute

Scott A. Curtis
, President, Raymond James Financial Services
Robert Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Cetera Financial Group
Mark Tibergien, Chief Executive Officer, Pershing Advisor Solutions

10:30AM - 11:30AM
Asset Manager Spotlight
This panel of senior investment professionals will tackle the outlook for the equity and debt markets in 2017 and beyond and examine the key factors likely to impact returns. Discussion topics will include:

  • Measures of political uncertainty remain remarkably high, but markets so far seem resilient. How should we view and prepare for external portfolio risks coming from policy or geopolitics?
  • What are the prospects for economic growth, interest rates, and employment?
  • What is the expected impact of the new administration’s fiscal and monetary policies?
  • What are the expectations and concerns about inflation – and how can “reflation” affect investor portfolios?
  • How should we view the ongoing active-passive conundrum?

John Brett
, Managing Director, Head of Global Managed Investments, Pershing LLC

Maria Karahalis
, Investment Specialist, Capital Group
David Lebovitz, Vice President, Global Market Strategist, J.P. Morgan Asset Management
Edward Perks, Executive Vice President, Chief Investment Officer, Franklin Templeton Investments 

11:30AM – 12:30PM
Distributor Spotlight Panel
A panel of executives from sponsor firms provide perspective on the opportunities and challenges in their respective channels given the unprecedented changes and reconfiguration in our industry. Among the topics to be discussed:

  • the different approaches firms are taking on the road to increased advisory business,
  • how the advisory model can compete effectively with lowest-cost delivery,
  • how widespread is product consolidation and where will the greatest impact be felt,
  • financial arrangements with respect to revenue sharing and partnership models, and  
  • how sales distribution and marketing are likely to change as the rules of engagement continue to evolve.

Steve DeAngelis
, Executive Vice President, Head of Distribution, FS Investments

Jeff Dowdle
, President, Asset Management Group, Raymond James
Keith Glenfield, Managing Director, Head of Managed Solutions, Bank of America
John Rooney, Managing Principal, Commonwealth Financial Network

Closing Remarks and Adjournment

Craig Pfeiffer, President & CEO, Money Management Institute


Attendee Registration:

Nia Edwards - nedwards@mminst.org

(646) 868-8506

Speaker Registration:

Laura Payne- lpayne@mminst.org

(646) 868-8510

Fees & Billing:


(646) 868-8500

Opening Keynote

MMI is pleased to announce that McKinsey & Company will be joining us at the 2017 MMI Sales & Marketing Leadership Summit to deliver the opening keynote address.

Embracing Change and Thriving in the New Abnormal
Ju-Hon Kwek, Head of McKinsey's North American Asset Management Practice, will present results and recommendations from their new report, Thriving in the New Abnormal. The report finds that the North American asset management industry is on the brink of a once-in-a-generation shift in competitive dynamics - the result of the convergence of five trends whose joint impact may be unprecedented: 

  • the end of 30 years of exceptional investment returns,
  • a shake-up in active management,
  • an acceleration and shift in the stream of assets moving into alternatives,
  • the expansion of the digital revolution to the entire asset management value chain, and
  • an era of heightened asset management regulation.

These trends will fundamentally rewrite the rules for success in asset management, requiring firms to transform their operating models across many dimensions. The McKinsey presentation will help frame our conversations for the balance of the Summit. In line with this year's theme of Embracing Change: New Models in Distribution, we will be drilling down on these transformative trends through the lens of distribution and, specifically, how these forces are driving new paradigms in sales, marketing and business practices. 

Recap: 2017 MMI Sales & Marketing Leadership Summit

Summit Header

The sold-out 2017 MMI Sales & Marketing Leadership Summit drew 245 attendees to West Palm Beach on March 21-22. Widely recognized as a “must-attend” event for the investment advisory solutions industry’s most senior sales and marketing executives, the theme of this year’s Summit was Embracing Change: New Models in Distribution. Program sessions focused on the major trends reshaping the delivery of financial advice and how they are driving new paradigms in sales, marketing and business practices.

Here’s a quick recap of some of the highlights:

Summit photos

Two Generations of MMI Leadership
The evening before the Summit, 32 participants from the first two classes of Leadership Pathway, MMI’s leadership development program for next-generation advisory solutions professionals, joined members of the MMI Board of Governors for a networking reception. The next morning – before the official kickoff of the conference – the Board had a very productive and engaged meeting, and the Leadership Pathway group enjoyed a working session with comments and insights from industry veterans Lori Hardwick, Cheryl Nash, and Steve Plump.

Opening Remarks: The Pillars of MMI Membership
MMI President and CEO Craig Pfeiffer opened the Summit with a review of the five key pillars of MMI member benefits and services – membership experience, data and analytics, education and professional development, next generation initiatives, and industry developments and advocacy. He also welcomed BNY Mellon as MMI’s exclusive Titanium Partner for 2017 and Fiserv as a Platinum Partner, noting that MMI looks forward to leveraging the resources and expertise of both firms on behalf of members during MMI’s 20th Anniversary year. Next MMI Chairman John Sweeney spoke passionately about the importance of finding ways to help shape the next generation of investors, and Summit Co-Chairs John Brett of Pershing LLC and Steve DeAngelis of FS Investments welcomed the audience and reviewed the program of events.

Leadership Pathway and Leadership

Thriving in the New Abnormal: North American Asset Management
In his opening keynote presentation, Ju-Hon Kwek, Head of McKinsey’s North American Asset Management Practice, struck both optimistic and cautionary notes about where the asset management industry is headed. He presented a snapshot of the industry’s growth over the last ten years and made some intriguing predictions about what tomorrow’s financial services industry will look like.

Although the last decade was a period in which assets rose steadily, there exists a quandary: asset levels are at new historical highs, but flows turned negative in 2015 for the first time in five years. Price compression of 4% to 5% has occurred over the last five years, half attributable to the significant growth in passive investments and half to price cutting. Over the same period, average flows to the market have been steadily declining while a flood of new products has been adding a vast amount of operational complexity. Simultaneously, industry consolidation has been increasing as the advantages of scale continue to play out. The net result: average profit margins for North America asset managers took a turn for the worse in 2015 as revenue and cost margins deteriorated and total costs continued to grow, raising questions about whether the industry is at a turning point.

Ju-Hon Kwek

Mr. Kwek described “the new normal,” which he sees driven by five secular trends: the end of the era of supernormal returns, the reshaping of active management, sustained demand for alternative investments, digital disruption across the value chain, and the resurgence of regulation. In his closing remarks, he offered three predictions for what tomorrow’s asset management industry will look like. In summary, he concluded, “There will be winners and losers. I think 2017 and onwards will be the best of times and the worst of times – but I don’t see it as all gloom and doom. These trends are going to create money in motion, create discontinuities, and that is actually rather exciting to me. If you are well positioned as a manager, there is tremendous opportunity.” Read full McKinsey & Company report.

Washington Update: A 60-Day Reality Check
Just two months into the Trump administration, this panel discussion – moderated by Troy Thornton of Goldman Sachs – revolved around the administration’s slow start in gaining Congressional confirmation for key positions and the inventory of critical items on the Trump to-do list.

“Let’s step back for a second,” suggested one panel member. “In eight years, how many big legislative packages did the Obama administration get through Congress? Two – Dodd Frank and the ACA. We now have a White House talking about six to 12 major legislative issues. The reality is that we should already have a Labor Secretary and an SEC Chair – they are just now, in late March, getting their first hearings. If they are not confirmed by the Easter recess, it will not happen until late April or early May. So, no major legislative initiatives would move through those offices until the year is half over.”

On the Trump agenda are tax reform, trade deals, a big infrastructure plan, and those are ahead of getting to financial regulation and Dodd-Frank reform. Much of the conversation was devoted to the importance of understanding the “extreme animosity” that the Trump administration has toward big government and complex regulation. That hostility is specifically directed, it was argued, toward Dodd-Frank and the DOL fiduciary rule. “I see clear paths,” one panelist said, “toward the Trump administration making strong efforts to really unwind a lot of these complex regulations, and if they do replace them, it will be with something substantially less complex.”

A discussion followed about the DOL rule and the range of possible dates of its enforcement – if it is enforced at all – and whether it may be rewritten or replaced. It was pointed out that the lack of senior personnel at the DOL for an extended period could have an impact on the way the DOL behaves during that period, thus adding even more uncertainty to the way in which things may unfold.

Marketing Moves Center Stage
This panel of CMOs focused on the evolution of the marketing function with a spotlight on how marketing teams are being repositioned, how they are forming tighter relationships with sales teams, and the new – and old – tools they are using.

In his opening remarks, moderator Neil Bathon, Managing Partner of FUSE Research Network, observed, “Marketing as a key contributor to the distribution effort – making it more efficient, more productive – is something that has really emerged in the last few years. When I started in the industry, marketing was primarily a sales support function, and today it’s much more leading-edge in terms of engagement in advisor lifecycle relationships, and branding and positioning are much more important today as they will continue to be in the future.” The panel covered a number of common themes – making certain that the marketing teams really understand and are aligned with their firms’ businesses, creating a rational structure around the marketing effort with better defined roles and responsibilities, the importance of establishing real relationships and trust with sales teams, and the critical role a well-defined, rigorously followed marketing plan can play.

One panelist described how strategic investments were made in three areas: investment content creation and getting the message out there, digitizing the client experience with the goal of creating an Amazon-like online environment, and building a brand around what you want to be known for. And, if a firm is selling solutions, it was stressed, branding is tremendously important. The panel also explored the role of value-added solutions and thought leadership as a means of bolstering brand perception and differentiation, the relationship between quantitative and qualitative measurement of outcomes, and the challenge in selecting which messages and products to emphasize at a particular firm where literally hundreds of products compete for marketing attention. It was agreed that broad scale advertising and brochure-ware are essentially dead, and a well-constructed digital program will be the key to message dissemination and building meaningful brand awareness going forward. In closing the session, Mr. Bathon asked the panelists what they see as the biggest change in their firms’ marketing efforts over the next three years. The short-form answers were technology investment, brand and sales enablement, and creating a digital environment which directly serves up what clients want rather than compelling them to search for it on a website.

A Ten-Year View of the Investment Advisor Channel
With the stage set in terms of evolving client needs and expectations, the broadening impact of technology, movement toward independence and fiduciary responsibility, and major generational and cultural shifts, this panel, moderated by Bob Herrmann of Discovery Data, explored the dramatic changes under way in the retail advisor channel – changes that are projected to continue and accelerate in the decade ahead.

Among the major trends examined were a doubling of the independent retail RIA channel, a shrinking brokerage sector, increasingly sophisticated investment analytics software, and a barbell effect of over 150,000 branches with one to five advisors counter-balanced by a growing number of institution-like advisory firms and teams. Discussion focused on retooling value propositions, driving distribution efficiency in a lower fee environment, and adjusting sales and marketing structures and strategies to meet the diverse investment and product needs of an evolving advisor channel.

A Shifting Playing Field for Asset Manager Distribution Teams
This panel’s task, as moderator Marie Dzanis, Head of Intermediary Distribution at Northern Trust, explained at the outset, “is to examine the shifting asset management distribution structure – a hot topic and something we talk about all the time.”

There is, she noted, over $25 trillion in the retirement space right now, and what is changing is how the end investor is accessing the market. With fewer defined benefit plans being offered by employers and defined contribution plans in decline, the real challenge becomes, “Who has control of the money? How do we serve our end clients in a changing marketplace?” Looking at how the roles of traditional institutional investors and individual investors have evolved, the panel agreed that both the advisor and the individual investor are much better informed, and there is much more data available, new tools for robust portfolio construction, and a greater openness – especially among individual investors – to take risk on new investment ideas.

Marie DzanisOne critical shortfall, it was pointed out, is that advisors and individual investors typically do not have the same corporate governance due diligence structure that is a hallmark of the institutional investment process. A distribution team has to determine what level of investment due diligence is really being sought at the advisor/investor level – true due diligence or just fact sheets? Where is that due diligence sourced from, who has control, who should the distribution team reach out to? To home office, third party consultants, the advisors, or the investors themselves? Long detailed research reports don’t work in the retail channel, where a one- or two-page quick fact sheet decision has become the norm. It was also noted that more and more attention has been focused on operational due diligence in the last few years – what goes on behind the scenes, the wiring and plumbing.

Turning to the idea that there will be a convergence of institutional and retail sales, a panel member pointed out that for a firm like his, a leading institutional consulting firm, the research process for every investment product is the same regardless of the channel through which delivery to the investor is made. There is growing interest among retail investors in illiquid products such as private equity, traditionally an institutional investment arena. That, in turn, translates into individual investors moving toward adopting longer time horizons in their investment outlook. Multi-asset programs – packaged solutions with everything one needs already baked in – it was predicted, will continue to grow in popularity.

Technology, Brands and the Future of Financial Services
In his keynote address to open Day 2, Frank Cooper, the new Global Chief Marketing Officer of BlackRock, treated Summit attendees to a very different perspective on financial services sales and marketing – essentially an outsider’s view informed by broad experience across several industries. Before joining BlackRock, Mr. Cooper held high-level positions in entertainment, technology and packaged goods. “On the surface, that experience may seem completely disconnected from financial services, but there are lessons and common themes. I have seen the disruption we are experiencing in financial services in those other industries. There are two faces of disruption. One side sees it as destruction and fights it tooth and nail. The other side views it as opportunity and will try to understand and leverage it, which plays out in a very good way.”

By way of example, Mr. Cooper described the transformation of the recording industry. “During the golden era we were printing money. At the top were the companies with the scale to control manufacturing and distribution, but then software started eating the world. Someone in their basement with a computer could record an entire album of high quality, and, as distribution costs started to decline, the whole paradigm shifted.” Distributors like Tower Records went under, albums all but disappeared, and iTunes was born. The traditional music industry fought it through litigation and innovation. The innovation was using ecommerce but it was based on maintaining the traditional core business model, and in 15 years U.S. music sales dropped from $40 billion to $15 billion. “The lesson in this is that fighting inevitable change is not an effective strategy.”

Frank Cooper

Mr. Cooper went on to explain Buzzfeed’s new content creation strategy and the building of the PepsiCo brand. “Across all this experience, there is a consistent theme. The best way to respond to disruption is to lead it, and the best way to lead it is to understand the undercurrents, what is actually driving the change.” He then went on to describe four macro shifts driving change across multiple industries, including financial services – the dominance of mobile, the do-it-yourself (DIY) ethic, the era of empathy, and human machine intelligence.

Mobile is universal – more widespread than desktops – and it’s an ecosystem – you can do virtually anything you want on a cellphone. It’s virtually a remote control to your world. It’s visual, short, intuitive and simple, and it is counter to what a lot of financial service brands stand for, particularly those involving an advisory role. Turning to DIY, it used to be that passive consumption of content was the norm – you read the paper, watched TV. What changed is that people now want to participate, have some role in shaping the experiences they have. That means advisor/client relationships will be more collaborative going forward. The era of empathy refers to eliciting highly personal responses through marketing programs as a means of segmenting clients. While human-machine intelligence – automation – will affect jobs across every industry, its marriage with human intuition will determine the real winners. “Marketing will become central to all operating models that succeed in financial services. The critical shift that marketing has to make is moving from sales support to creating demand. The brand is the critical element, it’s shorthand for something that is meaningful to people, and it simplifies choices.”

Executive Spotlight: The Future of Advisory Solutions
MMI President & CEO Craig Pfeiffer led a wide-ranging conversation with Scott Curtis, President of Raymond James Financial Services, Robert Moore, CEO of Cetera Financial Group, and Mark Tibergien, CEO of Pershing Advisor Solutions, on the converging forces reshaping the investment advisory solutions industry.

Executive Spotlight

The session opened with each panelist giving an overview of the trends affecting his firm’s strategies. Mr. Curtis noted that there has been an accelerating shift in the broker-dealer channel to less expensive investment products. “How do you continue to provide support and service to financial advisors when the economics of the business model are changing? Also, given the utilization of mobile devices and social media, how are our firms going to support that usage and do so in a compliant manner?” Mr. Tibergien cited the industry’s talent shortage and lack of diversity as major concerns. “We have to recognize that there are more CFPs over the age of 70 than under the age of 30 – clearly, we have not made this a very attractive profession for young people.” Turning to the DOL rule, Mr. Moore said, “I’m a big optimist about the net effects of the dialogue around the rule. It’s really at the heart of transparency, and we should all embrace it.” He went on to say that the industry must have a more empathetic view of what it is like for clients to interact with financial services and work on improving client relationships by helping advisors as they move from selling products to giving advice.

Other topics discussed included how the industry can teach advisors to run a business rather than just conduct business, the future of the broker-dealer, the value of “reverse mentoring,” coping with personal career changes, and the sheer volume of regulatory changes.  

Asset Manager Spotlight
To open a discussion moderated by Summit Co-Chair John Brett, Head of Global Managed Investments at Pershing, this panel of investment experts focused on the impact of external portfolio risk factors stemming from policy or political events. While the markets are resilient, concern was expressed about fallout from the upcoming elections in Germany and France and the fact that there are three out of seven open seats on the Federal Reserve Board with two additional open seats also on the horizon as terms expire.

It was generally agreed that interest rates would move upward at a very gradual pace with the Fed continuing to make the market aware of its intentions. One unintended consequence of an “easy” Fed policy over this business cycle has been an inflation in asset prices in both the fixed income and equity markets leading to the dilemma for advisors of what to tell clients when both stocks and bonds are expensive. The solution will, one panel member suggested, require embracing less traditional investments – essentially thinking outside of the style box. The discussion then turned to the impact the financial media have and how they are – for better or worse – reflective of investor sentiment, short-term and event-driven in their orientation with a preference for bad news over good. Other topics explored included shortfalls in the composition of the labor force and the effect on the healthcare industry if Obamacare were to be repealed or significantly modified. Looking forward, it was thought that financial institutions could be among the top performers if interest rates move higher or there is meaningful deregulation.  

Distributor Spotlight Panel
Summit Co-Chair Steve DeAngelis, Head of Distribution at FS Investments, served as moderator of the meeting’s closing session devoted to a discussion of the shifting distribution landscape.

By way of introduction, the panel members described their business models and their firms’ stances vis-à-vis the DOL rule. It was noted that organic growth – “the holy grail” – is difficult to achieve, especially in a period of price compression. Managing transitions such as advisor retirements is, of course, important to client retention as is the formation of advisor teams to better manage complex relationships. “I think,” one panelist commented, “that a lot of this industry turbulence is actually helpful because it causes people to go home and reflect and essentially look at their business and how it can be bettered.” It was predicted that the independent channel is going to be radically different in the next ten to 15 years. “People are not getting into this business as sole practitioners – they are joining established practices. The world doesn’t need five $150,000 producers. It needs one $750,000 producer with a good staff and infrastructure behind him.”

Summit Photos

In Conclusion
It was a jam-packed two days. If you were able to join us, we hope you left the 2017 Summit feeling energized and optimistic about opportunities to Embrace Change and drive new models in distribution. If you weren’t able to attend, please contact us with questions on any of the topics or resources discussed.

In either case, check the MMI calendar for upcoming events – and make plans now to join us for the three-day 2017 MMI Annual Conference in Chicago on October 2-4. We will be debuting specialized conference tracks and the Industry Awards Recognition Dinner on the evening of October 3rd will be the official celebration of MMI’s 20th Anniversary. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind conference and gala dinner!

2017 Titanium Partner

  • BNY Mellon

2017 Platinum Partner

  • Fiserv