How Some Savvy FAs are Overtaking ‘Basic’ Robos

Robo advice for mass-affluent investors keeps evolving. But brick-and-mortar advisors aren’t standing still. In fact, some traditional FAs are taking into their own hands ways to automate more sophisticated types of holistic planning – from philanthropy to tax strategies and healthcare issues.

“We’d all like to work with 200 families if possible and create more scale in our practices,” says David Edwards, president of Heron Financial Group in New York, which manages $300 million. “But most of our legacy technology platforms are only built to let us comfortably handle maybe 80-90 clients at a time.”

He’s now exploring different online tools to help expand his account aggregation and asset allocation processes. “There are many new off-the-shelf software packages that you can integrate together to take the busywork out of the comprehensive financial planning process,” Edwards says.

For instance, Heron Financial uses a mobile app, Mobile Assistant, that helps Edwards turn client meetings into easy-to-disseminate notes in Redtail, the firm’s CRM system.

It also feeds into Edwards' efforts to automate client report generation. “Previously if I had meetings at 9:30, 11:30 and 2:30, by end of day I couldn’t remember what I had agreed to do,” he says.

Read the entire article on Financial Advisor IQ


Advisers find summer slowdown has become a thing of the past

Advisers worry about burning out as demands come in 24/7 and 365 days a year

Summer isn't what it used to be, according to financial advisers.

June, July and August used to be slower months when clients vacationed and advisers would recharge themselves and their practices, completing long-term projects aimed at business development and other operational improvements.

But more and more, clients are hitting the beach and other destinations with iPads, laptops and mobile phones — and all of that out-of-office time gives them extra bandwidth to ponder their finances.

"Clients have been emailing all summer from their beach chairs, pounding us with questions about the markets and their accounts," said David Edwards, president of Heron Wealth.

While he welcomes all communications with clients, he said he's worried about burnout if summers don't offer advisers some catch-up time.

Read full article at InvestmentNews


Heron Wealth Recognized as One of Top 50 Fastest Growing Independent Financial Advisory Firms in the U.S.

Heron Wealth, a SEC Registered Investment Advisor based in New York City, was named to Financial Advisor magazine's 2017 Top 50 Fastest Growing Investment Advisors list. Heron Wealth provides financial planning, investment advice, and estate planning for individuals and families. The 2015-2016 growth rate of 30% was achieved organically through the addition of new families and assets, not through acquisitions or mergers with other independently owned and operated firms.

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Chasing HENRY, the Hottest New Prospect

Advisor David Edwards tells ThinkAdvisor how his firm attracts and serves clients who are "High Earners, Not Rich Yet"

Forget about “Where’s Waldo?” The search is on for HENRYs. That is, “High Earners, Not Rich Yet.” Forward-thinking advisors are pursuing this millennial subset, a young demographic packed with potential, as New York City-based advisor David Edwards, founder-president of Heron Wealth, told ThinkAdvisor in an interview.

Edwards, managing $295 million in assets, began prospecting for and cultivating HENRYs about four years ago. These clients now bring in 5% of revenue. Why pursue “High Earners, Not Rich Yet”? Because the vast majority of Edwards’ clients are aging baby boomers.

He realized that winning the accounts of folks 25 to 34 years old with lucrative jobs was a smart, necessary move to carry on his successful independent practice once the older generation dies off.

Edwards even has a young certified financial planner on his team who devotes her time exclusively to prospecting for and serving HENRYs.

These men and women comprise a distinct marketsegment — the term was originally defined with respect to families — whose advisory needs are different from those of their elders. For example, HENRYs are focused on financial planning, grappling with a load of student loan debt and how to save for a house or apartment.

Read the full article at ThinkAdvisor


David Edwards of Heron Wealth: On Evolving with the Times and Building a Platform for Success

Working with top advisors like David Edwards, founder and president of Heron Wealth (, is a real joy. Marie Swift of Impact Communications spoke with David to uncover some of his secrets to success. David provides some great insights for fellow financial advisors. There are lots of great ideas and much to emulate here.

Click here to listen to the audio recording.

A transcript of the interview is posted below.

MARIE SWIFT: Hello and welcome back to Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry. This is your host today, Marie Swift, and I'm joined today by David Edwards, who is the founder of Heron Wealth a New York-based fiduciary investment advisor and wealth management firm. Today we are going to be talking about how Dave has intentionally built a wealth management business that is growing in leaps and bounds. I would say, Dave, that you are a shining light for all the advisors that will be listening to this audio. Welcome to the show.

DAVID EDWARDS: Good afternoon Marie.

SWIFT: Thank you so much for your time today. I was reading the white paper that recently came out, of which you were the main focal point. It was put out by eMoney, and it focused on your client service model and how you've grown as an independent wealth management firm since your inception. It focused particularly on the last three or four years. So let's talk a little bit about your hyper-productive team – I love that phrase – and how you are building such a successful and enduring company. So, what would you like to share about your strategy?

EDWARDS: So, let me divide the last twenty years into two phases. For fifteen years, I ran a solo practice, taking care of maybe 50-60 families with about $75 million in total assets. That suited my life while raising two children. Well, those children went to college in 2011 and I was facing the next 15 to 20 years of my career and thinking about what I wanted to accomplish with all that spare time. I decided to build my firm to a billion dollars in assets. If you think about moving from $75 million to a billion dollars, you can't do that as a solo practitioner.

I spent some time trying to understand the form of a well-run wealth advisory firm: the structure is a pyramid. Not a pyramid scheme, that would be bad, but it is a pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid is your core foundation. It's technology, operations, cybersecurity and compliance. That has to be rock solid. On top of that, you build your service package. For us it's financial planning, investment advice and estate planning. That has to be rock solid, as well. On top of that you can build a marketing and business development process. And on top of that is management. If each of the lower layers is rock solid, management is not that big of a deal.

So, by understanding exactly the structure of my firm, I was able to hire very talented people to fill in the roles of compliance, training, portfolio management and financial planning. I was also able to hire outside vendors for compliance, cybersecurity, marketing, PR and technology. The transformation was that I no longer spent 80% of my time running the firm. I spent 80% of my time talking to clients and prospects, which is the fun part of my job. It's what I want to do every day.

Read the full interview at Impact Communications


Investing after the End of the Golden Age

Journal of Financial Planning contributor Daniel Kern, and investment adviser David Edwards, founder of the Heron Financial Group | Wealth Advisors, discussed the impact of the “golden age” of investing in the “new normal.” Find out why financial advisers and their clients will need to adapt a less favorable outlook for markets, and how lowering return expectations doesn’t mean that returns will be negative. Their discussion is followed by a live Q and A, moderated by FPA Knowledge Circle host Ray Benton.


Evolve or Dissolve: A Story of Wealth Management Transformation

David Edwards presented the story of how he evolved his wealth advisory practice from a solo practice managing $75 million to a team operation managing $300 million in 5 years.

The replay can be viewed here.

The presentation was sponsored by TrueLytics, a platform of tools that combine real industry experience and big data that allows Financial Advisors to strengthen, benchmark, and value their practice.

Fidelity: How eAdvisors Elevate the Client Journey and Outperform Peers

The gap between independent RIAs who are keeping up with evolving technologies and those who aren’t is widening. And that’s stunting growth for advisors who aren’t acting proactively to keep on top of a rapidly evolving marketplace.

At least that’s what Fidelity finds in a new study published Tuesday looking at industry trends in high-tech adoption. As part of its research into firms using the latest electronic tools – including everything from interactive website software to advanced CRM programs and integrated back-office systems – the custodian has developed a list of tech-savvy “eAdvisors.”

By upping his tech game, New York-based advisor David Edwards says he’s seen asset growth at his indie RIA jump more than 360% in the past six years. “The single biggest transition for me was going from doing everything myself to using technology to empower my staff to operate without me,” says the president of Heron Financial Group, which manages $295 million.

With a team of five support staffers, he’s making "a 100% commitment” to delegating responsibilities through greater use of a Redtail CRM suite.

For example, the veteran FA says he can now take notes on client orders and send them directly to his operations manager. After transactions are complete, Edwards and his crew automatically have a paper trail documenting their moves. So does the investor.

“I’m easily saving 10 hours a week by more effectively integrating this type of technology across our entire operations,” Edwards says. “And that’s giving me more time to talk to clients.”

Another productivity enhancer he’s implementing is greater use of his main financial planning software, eMoney, to aggregate data for new clients who might hold their assets at different brokerages. “We used to spend anywhere from two to four hours just entering various portfolio data – much of which could be obsolete a month later,” Edwards says.

Clients are telling him they really appreciate such a high-tech system. “What they’re judging us against these days,” Edwards says, “are the online experiences they’ve become used to at interactive service providers like Uber and Amazon.”

Read the full article at Financial Advisor IQ


Heron Wealth President David Edwards participates in Expert Robo Advisory Panel

Sponsored by the Quantitative Work Alliance for Applied Finance & Education

David Edwards of Heron Wealth joined Adam Grealish, Quantitative Analyst at Betterment,  Dan diBartolomeo, President, Northfield Information Services and Kevin R. Kelly, Chief Investment Officer, Portfolio Manager, Recon Capital Partners on a recent panel (June 20th) moderated by Jesse J Noel, MS, CFA on the subject of Robo Investment Platforms.

The topics included:

  • The current clients of RoboAdvisors and the primary areas for expansion
  • To what extent are RoboAdvisors too impersonal, uncomfortable or inflexible for many retirement investors?
  • A discussion of methods, algorithms, and ongoing research to derive the best mix for each customer at the asset allocation and fund selection levels.
  • New frontiers for RoboAdvisor technology.

Quantitative Work Alliance for Applied Finance & Education website


What You Should Know About 3 Major U.S. Indexes

The size, number of companies and how they're weighted sets each index apart.

As the second-longest bull market in history rages on and many indexes keep breaking records, it's fair to wonder if U.S. stocks are overvalued and when this run will end. This is particularly important given how difficult it is for investors to outperform the major stock indexes.

New investors should not worry that stocks are overvalued now but instead systematically invest the same amount of money each month, says David Edwards, president of Heron Wealth in New York.

But investors should understand how the three major stock market indexes – the Nasdaq composite, Dow Jones industrial average and Standard and Poor's 500 index – operate. All are based on different stock pools and vary greatly in the size and number of companies as well as how they are weighted.

Don't confuse these indexes with the New York Stock Exchange, the largest in the world, with a trading floor in Lower Manhattan, or the Nasdaq Stock Market, the first electronic exchange.

Stocks in the S&P 500 index are weighted by market capitalization – the stock price multiplied by the number of outstanding shares – with a higher weight given to larger companies. The higher the market cap, the greater percentage a company will have in the S&P 500,

That means a 1 percent move in Apple (ticker: APPL), which is the world's largest tech company and accounts for 3.89 percent of the S&P 500, affects the index far more than a 1 percent move in News Corp. (NWSA), which is a mere 0.007 percent of the index, Edwards says.

The Nasdaq composite includes more than 2,500 stocks traded on the Nasdaq exchange. "Historically the Nasdaq has listed more speculative companies, but many have turned out to be high performers," Edwards says. Examples include technology companies such as (AMZN) and Facebook (FB) or biotech firms like Genzyme, now Sanofi (SNY), and Amgen (AMGN). "Over time, the Nasdaq composite tends to grow faster than the S&P 500, though it can be more volatile."

Read the full article at US News and World Report


Financial Services Casting Nets For Younger Pros as Advisors Age Out

It’s no secret the investment industry has a choppy record in attracting young financial talent.

But with 100,000 brokers retiring in the next ten years, and half the industry talent age 55 or higher, according to a report from Cerulli Associates, some industry titans have had enough, and are actively recruiting much younger advisors.

Unfortunately, that may be an uphill climb, experts say.

“Young people don’t want to work in financial services because advisors’ websites mostly feature older white men – they see it as boring,” said David Edwards, president of Heron Wealth, a registered investment advisory firm based in New York City. “Or, they’ve seen ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ and think that financial advising is just ‘pumping and dumping.’”

'Grow With Your Clients'

Edwards points to companies like Oxygen Financial and his own firm as rare examples of investment companies that “get it” when it comes to landing younger advisors.

“While our bread-and-butter clients today are boomers and our oldest advisor is 55, much of our marketing is directed to GenXers or even Millennials,” he explained. “Our two youngest advisors are in their 30s. We give them mentoring and support, but we get them in front of clients right away. Right now, our training process is built around ‘grow with your clients.’”

Read full article at


How one financial adviser lands seven-figure accounts

5 steps that goosed wealth advisor David Edwards’ growth to 30%-40% a year

Do you know the “three-foot rule”? Wealth adviser David Edwards, president and founder of Heron Wealth, which provides financial planning, investment advice and estate planning to individuals and families across the U.S. and in Europe, cites it as one key element of his success.

In a nutshell, the rule says that whenever you’re within three feet of someone, you should talk to them about your business and the services you provide. Being able to network is a skill that can help any adviser thrive — and in Edwards’ case, the three-foot rule has landed him a handful of multimillion-dollar accounts.

Previously a one-man shop growing assets at a 5% annual rate, Edwards transformed his fiduciary wealth management firm by adopting a “hyper-productive” team approach that has been growing assets under management 30%-40% annually. Heron Wealth grew from $122 million in assets in January 2013 to $285 million through February 2017.

Here’s how he does it.

Read the full article at MarketWatch


8 Things Not to Hide From Your Investment Professional

Silent or sneaky investors can sabotage their most valuable financial relationship.

Some adult shame amounts to little more than a grown-up version of hiding an empty cookie jar. But too often, the adult piggy bank is at stake. For financial managers, that can set the stage for disaster. "You cannot have trust if the client is withholding information or not telling the truth," says Mark Astrinos, a Palo Alto, California-based memver of the American Institute of CPA's Personal Financial Specialist Credential Committee. "Sometimes clients are embarrassed by their behavior," Astrinos adds. "Other times they don't want to share this information in front of a spouse." Here are eight details never to keep secret from your financial team.

Secret stashes can mean double trouble for advisors. David Edwards, president of Heron Wealth in New York City, relates this story:

"We had a situation last year where we routinely made the minimum required distribution from a client's retirement assets - only to learn he had a 'secret' retirement account from which he'd already calculated and drawn the funds."

Edwards scrambled to return the unnecessary distribution to the account as a 60-day rollover. "Even then, the client had to do extra work to report the rollover for tax filings."

Read all 8 tips at US News & World Report


To Build Assets Fast, Don’t Be Timid

Being gregarious can go a long way in growing your business, as MarketWatch columnist Marie Swift explains.

She cites the example of David Edwards, president and founder of Heron Wealth, in New York. The $285-million firm has grown assets 30% to 40% annually since 2013, largely because Edwards goes to prospects rather than waiting for them to come to him.

Edwards has landed multiple seven-figure clients by following the “three-foot rule,” which dictates that whenever you’re within that distance of someone, you should talk to them about your business and the services you provide.

The advisor makes a point of going where ideal clients are likely to be. That means on the water — Edwards sails competitively — or on the ski slopes, for instance.

He’s careful not to talk shop right away. Instead, he asks good questions and listens for a need to be articulated. Edward converses with about 100 potential clients a month, but is focused on those who have a financial issue or pain point that needs to be resolved soon or that they see coming down the road.

Edwards admits that his exuberant personality helps. In a day and age where so many advisers sit in their offices pushing paper or social media posts, the adage “always be social” — both in person and in digital forums — has special meaning for Edwards. “You won’t catch any fish if you don’t go to the fishing hole,” he concludes.

Read full article at Barron's


Trump tax proposal leaves advisers in the dark on estate tax repeal

The broad-brush tax proposal released Wednesday by President Donald J. Trump repeated his campaign pledge to repeal the estate tax, but failed to provide financial advisers with any additional detail regarding its form.

That leaves advisers in estate-tax limbo, which they've largely been in ever since the prospect of a broad tax-reform package gained steam following November's presidential election.

The estate tax is a federal 40% tax levied on estates exceeding $5.49 million for individuals and roughly $11 million for married couples. Estates receive a step-up in tax basis at death, which dilutes the impact of paying capital-gains tax on inherited assets.

The federal tax raised $17.1 billion for the government in 2015. Many states also levy their own taxes, the asset thresholds and percentages of which vary.

A wealthy, elderly client of David Edwards, president of Heron Financial Group, passed away in January this year, and her estate is on the hook for a few millions dollars in tax. If the federal estate tax is repealed this year, that bill could disappear.

"I told them so far, 'Don't count on it,'" Mr. Edwards said.

Many observers expect an estate-tax repeal as part of any tax-reform package — which in and of itself isn't guaranteed, due to Democratic opposition and potential opposition from hardline conservatives who are loath to balloon the federal deficit.

Mr. Trump is, among other things, calling for a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 15%, a lowering of the top marginal income tax rate to 35%, and doing away with the alternative minimum tax.

An estate-tax repeal could take a variety of forms that would have different planning implications.

Observers note, though, that the estate tax would likely reappear in 10 years' time, even if it is repealed.

This is because Republicans would need several Democrats to support tax legislation in order to achieve a supermajority — 60 votes — and avoid a filibuster, something observers believe is unlikely due to philosophical disparity between both parties regarding taxes.

"The Democrats are dead set against it. It's dead on arrival as far as they're concerned," Mr. Edwards said.

Read full article at InvestmentNews


Use the "3 foot rule" to land seven-figure accounts

Do you know the "three-foot rule"? Wealth adviser David Edwards, president and founder of Heron Wealth, which provides financial planning, investment advice and estate planning to individuals and families across the U.S. and in Europe, cites it as one key element of his success.

In a nutshell, the rule says that whenever you're within three feet of someone, you MUST introduce yourself and get a conversation started. Being able to network is a skill that can help any adviser thrive -- and in Edwards' case, the three-foot rule has landed him a handful of multi-million-dollar accounts.

Here's how he does it.

"I had the best vodka and soda of my life at a high-end bar in London last year" Edwards says as he recalls how, using the three-foot rule, he began a conversation with a man from North Carolina who was enjoying a cold beverage in that same bar.

"I introduced myself asking what brought him to London," Edwards said. "We chatted about various topics, eventually talking about what I do. He told me that he was looking to change financial advisors but that it might be a while since he was going through a nasty divorce. We exchanged business cards and I followed up with him a month later. Long story short, he ended up investing $2 million with my firm."

Go where ideal clients gather or are likely to be: Edwards makes sure he has "outposts" in places he loves and would be frequenting anyway -- even if he weren't a wealth manager always seeking new clients for his growing New York City-based business. For instance, Edwards competes in sailing regattas from New England to the Caribbean and coaches a hometown team in New York Harbor. "I hang out in places where my ideal clients are likely to be -- the ski slopes in Utah, polo matches in the Hamptons, sailing regattas in the Caribbean," Edwards said.

"I even talk to younger prospects - HENRYs -- high earners, not yet rich -- at Heron's cooperative workspace in Manhattan where, with just a little bit of conversation and chutzpah, I identified two very good potential clients for one of my younger wealth managers. It's amazing what just rubbing elbows can do. While most people are sitting in the corner looking at their phones and tablets, I reach out and engage people as they refill their water bottles and grab a fresh cup of coffee."

Read the full article at Morningstar


Spark growth by adopting top-to-bottom segmentation strategies

Advisory firms are trying to figure out how to leverage their networks and technology to profitably expand their client bases.

Client segmentation strategies can provide that opportunity when firms align their resources properly.

David Edwards, president of and wealth adviser at Heron Financial Group in New York, is a proponent of segmentation, or dividing the client base into different market segments and deploying different service models to serve each market.

“Our bread-and-butter clients today are baby boomers,” he says. “But if our client base is only people 55 and older, 10 or 15 years from now, we won’t have a very valuable firm as those clients spend down their assets in retirement.”

Consequently, Heron Financial Group is signing on Generation Xers and millennials to widen its client base, Edwards says.

The firm is also trying to bring in African-American clients and same-sex couples and trying to recruit advisers to specifically serve these markets.

Based on income, the demographics at Heron Financial break down this way: Executive families and business owners with $1 million to $10 million in assets generally work with Edwards. The next two segments include high-earning but not yet rich clients -- dubbed “HENRYs” -- who are 25 to 39, and female professional clients, ranging from 35 to 60.

“You cannot be all things to all people. Firms must decide whether to focus on individual or institutional clients and target asset levels,” Edwards says.

“We don’t go after client families with $25 million because our service package is not equipped for the needs of families at that level,” he says.

See the full article at Financial Planning


Student Loan Debt and How It Affects Young Workers

Some students take drastic steps to avoid student loan debt. For example, GoFundMe college campaigns solicit funds from friends, family members and perfect strangers, while income share agreements allow students to attend school for free if they commit to pay a percentage of their post-graduate income to investors.

Despite all that, federal student loan defaults topped 1.1 million in 2016, and according to a new survey by American Student Assistance, student loan debt is a heavy weight on young workers. The survey – which includes responses from workers between the ages of 22 and 33 as well as responses from human resources managers – reveals the following:

The negative effects of student loan debt on young workers:

  • 56% worry about repaying their loan either all the time (26%) or often (30%).
  • 40% report that worrying about their student loans has impacted their health.
  • 55% would like to go to grad school but couldn’t take on any additional student loans.
  • 61% have considered getting a second job to help pay off their student loans.
  • 54% of young workers report that right now, paying off student loans comes first, and they will put off saving for retirement until later.

Read the entire article at


Advisors Need To Do Due Diligence Before Buying New Technology For Firm

In the old days, before the iPhone, a financial advisory firms could get away without updating their technology every year, but not anymore. As consumers go mobile, they expect advisors to be up-to-the-minute with the latest technology. Almost everyone uses the web or mobile technology and expects to get info on a 24/7 basis. If an advisor isn't providing that service, they can be sure their competitors are.

But with all the tech tools out there, how do advisors sift through the clutter to determine which tech products and systems help financial advisors compete and which ones don't?

"Before you buy a new technology make sure the process is sound and that you're not automating something stupid," said David Edwards, president of Heron Wealth, an RIA in New York City. "If you have a bad operations set up or a bad marketing set up, bringing in technology won't make it better."

Is It Better, Faster or Cheaper?

Edwards makes a commitment to replace his technology every four years, and attends the Technology Tools for Today conference every February to keep up to date. He also has three criteria for purchasing new technology. First, is it better, faster and cheaper than something he already has. Second, does it integrate with his current system and current custody platform and financial planning platform, which are all tied together. The final criterion is security.

"We've had vendors that were not maintaining their platforms with current standards for cybersecurity, which is so important," said Edwards. "All the data that a bad guy needs is neatly packaged inside our systems. We need the highest level of encryption with duel factor authentication."

Read the full article at Investor's Business Daily.