From Country Song to Holistic Tech

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David Edwards was a financial advisor in New York City who did enough business to take a few months off each summer to live on Nantucket with his wife and two children. Because he was the sole person in what Edwards called a lifestyle firm, he could leave work at 3 p.m., pick up his kids from school, spend time with them for after-school, homework, dinner, bath stories and bed.

After a couple of decades of this, things went bad in 2011. Country-song bad.

His wife divorced him, his children went off to college and his dog died. Edwards stumbled into in a lonely life he had never imagined.

He didn’t lie down and die as a classic country tune might have had him do. He dusted himself off, took a hard look at his life and turned the dial up to rock ’n’ roll!

“I have no responsibilities to any living creature,” Edwards remembered saying after the shock wore off.  “What do I want to do with the rest of my career? I decided to grow my firm from $75 million in assets to $1 billion.”

He has since expanded his practice to a seven-person agency with $325 million in assets under management and a map to reach $1 billion soon after 2020.

Edwards made it happen by quickly adopting new technology, not only to handle the growth but also to deliver Tiffany-grade service that his high-net-worth clients expect.

He sees that although circumstances inspired him to retune and get serious about his practice, no advisor can be complacent now. Clients are raising expectations and requiring more services. Technology is the lever to reach those higher standards.

“We’re based in New York City, where real estate and personnel are the highest possible cost. So, you have to use technology to deliver the same service with fewer people,” he said. “Also, it’s an Amazon world. The clients have very high expectations about how we’re going to serve them.”

How he does it

Edwards’ registered investment advisory, Heron Wealth, provides financial planning, investment advice and estate planning for “executive families” with $1 million to $10 million in investable assets. They are typically couples between the ages of 45 and 60, raising two children and worried about their parents. But they also want a second home and a dream retirement.

Not only do these clients have complex needs, but Edwards also wants to provide a luxurious level of service. Both of those endeavors require substantial attention from his firm.

In a move that shows how far he’s come, Edwards recently created a role to uphold that high standard online and in person — director of client experience. It is not a small job, Edwards said, because that level of service requires 30 to 40 touches per year.

That can be tricky with clients spread across the U.S. and Europe. He uses a combination of platforms, including an up-close-and-personal one.

“Some of those touches are in the form of an in-person meeting,” Edwards said. “I’ll do a loop through Southern California, a loop thorough Texas, through the Carolinas, through Georgia and Florida.”

Everybody keeps plugged in to the office through laptops or cellphones running remote desktop protocol (RDP) that taps in to a server in Ohio. It doesn’t matter if an advisor is in New York or New Mexico; they have the same access. “With that application and my cellphone — because there’s dual authentication on this — I can connect from a hotel room, a client’s office or an aircraft, and have all the resources of my firm right at hand,” he said.

He has met with clients on their yachts, in their ski houses, in their summer homes — wherever they are comfortable.

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“Because they’re relaxed,” he said. “They’ve got a margarita in their hand; they can think ‘big picture.’ The worst thing you can do to a client is make them sit in a waiting room with CNBC blaring in the corner. By the time they see you, they’ll be so amped up that they won’t hear a word you’re saying.”

And that is no condition or circumstance in which to talk about a subject that makes everybody anxious — money.

“Even people who have tens of millions of dollars are still terrified of money,” Edwards said of why advisors should assume the role of therapist. “You’ll tell your best friend more about your sex life than about your financial situation.  Money is the most intimate, difficult, shameful thing that most people confront.”

Clients can also dive into their accounts remotely, through the financial planning online platform, eMoney. They can get questions answered that in the past might have required a call to the office and a staffer’s time.

Through that application, clients can see their entire financial life broken down into cash, checking accounts and credit cards. They can dig into investment accounts, retirement accounts (even those the firm is not managing), real estate and insurance policies.

“Furthermore,” Edwards said. “We have all of their cash flows, like salary income, routine expenses, taxes, mortgage expense. We know what their savings rates are.”

The easily accessible data provides more than a convenience for clients; it was the fulcrum for an exponential leap for the practice.

Expanded client base

The system allowed the firm to expand the type of clients it could serve.

Edwards couldn’t really take clients with less than $1 million to invest because they couldn’t afford the service. All of the information used to be collected on paper.

A paper-based financial plan took 20 hours at $500 an hour, totaling $10,000. Now it takes two hours, costing $1,000.

“All of a sudden, we could take on clients who didn’t meet our historic $1 million minimum,” Edwards said, adding, “That was important for the HENRYs.”

HENRYs are high-earners, not rich yet and an important new group for the firm. They’re important enough that Edwards has an advisor devoted to them.

“These are individuals and couples who are making $200,000, $300,000 a year designing web apps, and they’re still paying off 80 grand of student debt,” he said. “If we say to them, ‘Hey, Billy. Hey, Jamie — we would love to work with you, come back when you have $1 million,’ we’re never going to hear from them again.”

The group is particularly important because they are younger, in their 30s rather than in their 50s.

“You have a significantly more valuable process, because now, your lifetime connection with that family is not from age 55 to age 75, it’s from age 35 to age 90,” Edwards said. “That is a very satisfying sense of protection on the client’s side. And it’s very valuable for the advisor because that’s a very long income stream.”

Courtesy Tiffany & Co.

Courtesy Tiffany & Co.

Sophisticated Advising

The firm can quickly play out scenarios so clients can decide what is really important for their future. They can even peel away the dollars to uncover true value.

“Because we can model all the clients’ cash flows for the next five, 10, 25 years, and because we know that things change, we can show clients not only the likely path that they have, but also alternatives.”

For an example, Edwards described a client family with about $10 million in assets. He’s a law firm partner and she is a managing director at a bank, both making $600,000 annually. But they hated their jobs. So, they wanted to retire now, at age 52.

The problem was that they owned two expensive properties. The advisors were able to show them that if they kept them both, they would run out of money by age 85.

But if they sold one and put the money in retirement accounts, they could retire today. If they worked for five more years, they could keep both.

“So now, it’s no longer a numbers question for the family,” Edwards said. “It’s a values question. Which do we value more? Retiring early or keeping the big country house?”

During the meeting, the advisors can instantly model any scenario the clients might imagine.

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Going paperless and building processes

Edwards began his career a little on the geeky side. He started with Morgan Stanley in the early 1980s in systems, bringing his math degree to bear. Although he had a head start in computers and had done programming until the early ’90s, he was relatively late to digitizing his practice.

His office went paperless three years ago, as he was adding staff and ramping up business. He instituted processes for new business and worked backward to digitize existing records.

Edwards’ early career at Morgan Stanley came in handy in figuring out how to systemize his processes. It also gave him an opportunity to assess the value of tasks and eliminate the unnecessary ones.

It was a heavy lift, as going paperless always is, but the work paid off exponentially in the freedom he gained to focus on clients and growing his business. The system and dependable staff made it so he doesn’t even have to go into the office to work.

“I’m not much of a manager — I hire only self-managing people,” Edwards said with a laugh. “We have two offices. I talk with the Midtown office once a day by phone. I don’t need to worry about what they’re doing, because I can see through the CRM, the task management system, exactly what’s going on.”

Now he can travel and still access the tools and data he needs. But even with high-tech support, he still can deal with clients just as he did in his analog days. He uses a paper agenda and writes notes as he goes along the process with clients.

“Then I walk out the door and around the corner or back to my office, or I sit in my car,” he said of his post-meeting process. “I take out my phone and use an application called Mobile Assistant, and dictate five or 10 bullet points into the phone. Eight hours later, I get a transcript prepared by a human being, not by Dragon, because I never was able to get that to work.”

He then edits the document before he uploads it into his CRM as a strategy note. If the list calls for tasks, he creates them in the system and assigns team members.

“Let’s say we decide in our client meeting that we’re going to change the asset allocation from 75 percent stocks to 70 percent. Well, I’ve written that down on a piece of paper, then documented it in Mobile Assistant, and uploaded that into the CRM and created specific tasks for our portfolio manager to change the asset allocation.”

Edwards knows not only that request will be an open item in his portfolio manager’s system the next morning, but also that he’ll get a notification when the manager has completed the task.

“Previously, all that work was contained on about eight to-do lists scattered across my desk,” Edwards said. “And I lived in permanent paranoia that something was overlooked.”

Now, instead of spending 80 percent of his time on administration and 20 percent on his clients, he has reversed that proportion.

Read the article at InsuranceNewsNet.

 

What's the next emerging technology for wealth advisers?

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The current and future states of adviser technology were the subjects of two hour-long sessions at the InvestmentNews Technology Think Tank held in September in New York. In each session, participants were asked to identify their firm's top tech-related challenges and opportunities — first tackling those issues they face now and then turning to future concerns.

This InvestmentNews Technology Think Tank roundtable in New York on Sept. 13, began with an adviser taking aim at digital advice providers. The challenge of robo-advisers is a topic that's "completely boring and mundane," said Josh Brown, chief executive at Ritholtz Wealth Management.

The prolific blogger, who writes as The Reformed Broker, said robos are "essentially lifecycle mutual funds that have been disentangled from their wrapper and put into a new user interface."

Mr. Brown said robo-advisers' investment strategy — heavy on equity when the investor is young, with a shift to fixed income as the investor ages — is "nothing new," and if robos "get people who wouldn't otherwise be dollar-cost-averaging into the markets, it's great. But other than that, robos are just a tool that every adviser will have and use."

Perhaps the greatest impact robos have had on traditional providers of advice is that they have brought the "Amazon experience" to brokerage and financial planning, said David Edwards, founder of advisory firm Heron Wealth.

"They allow the investor to open and fund an account in five minutes, not in a few days," he said.

It's the technology-enabled user experience of having easy access when, where and how the client wants that is the hallmark of robos and that traditional advice firms will have to adopt and incorporate, participants said.

Read more at Investment News

Next participants discussed with their tablemates some of the problems that could be addressed or solved through the use of technology. After the discussions, a representative of each table presented their findings to the group.

Bitcoins

Bitcoin may or may not take off as an alternative currency, but the blockchain technology on which it is based is here to stay.

"Everybody has been looking into blockchain technology," said Pershing's Patrick Yip. "It's a huge disruptor for anyone who handles payments in our business, and some people are even wondering about the need for clearing firms if buyers and sellers could just transact and access a safe public ledger that everyone can verify."

Blockchain technology also may affect the industry's intellectual property, said Mr. Metzger of Dynasty, since ideas or content embedded in a blockchain of data become public.

Bitcoin itself, the most visible aspect of the blockchain, and other types of electronic currency, provoked speculation with some advisors taking a contrary position.

"I've told my clients they'd have to fire me if they wanted me to handle bitcoins for them," said David Edwards, founder of Heron Wealth.

Read the full article at Investment News

 

Subscriptions: A New Pricing Model for Financial Advice!

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As millennials get older and start to make more money, they are becoming an increasingly important client segment for financial advisors. This is especially true given that advisors’ bread and butter — baby boomers — continue to age. Not to mention that the $34 trillion wealth transfer is coming. Already underway is a shift in the way financial advice is priced, at least by many forward-thinking advisors who are focused on adding millennial clients to their books. Monthly subscription fees for financial advice, rather than fees based on AUM, are becoming more prevalent within the industry. The logic: Millennials are highly accustomed to paying subscriptions, from Netflix to Amazon Prime, and are less enthused to pay fees on assets, especially during downturns, than previous generations (why pay high fees for bad results?).

Financial Advice for a Monthly Fee

Heron Wealth, a NYC-based RIA, charges high earning, not rich yet clients (HENRYs — read “high earning millennials”) a $100 monthly subscription fee for and individual or $200/month for a couple/family to manage their assets. Once their assets reach $150,000/$300,000, they are switched to a more traditional annual asset-based fee of 0.75%.

Heron Wealth's business model reflects an emerging trend within the financial advice and planning industry. A growing number of millennial-aged advisors are providing financial consultation for a monthly fee. By focusing solely on advice and planning, and not actually managing assets, these advisors have the bandwidth to take on more clients than a traditional RIA could.

According to Angie Herbers, a consultant who has a mentorship program for millennial advisors, this new, less resource intensive RIA business model allows her mentees to service an average of 135 clients — considerably more than the 85 clients she says the most efficient of traditional RIAs can handle effectively. These low maintenance millennial clients pay an average monthly fee of $215, which when applied to 135 clients over the course of a year, yields $350,000 in revenue. Since these advisors don’t sell products or manage assets, they don’t have to pay custodian fees or share revenue, enabling them to operate leanly and with little overhead.

The real point in all of this is that there is great opportunity for financial advisors who are willing to think creatively about how they price and deliver their services. The emergence of robo-advisors, shifting demographics, and changing expectations will continue to impact wealth management. A reassessment of pricing structure, namely packaging services as a subscription, is an interesting way that many financial advisors are adapting to these changes.

Read the full article on the Quovo blog

 

What the battle over 401(k) plans means for your retirement

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Any changes to taxes on your 401(k) savings won't change two key tenets of planning for retirement: Save early and save as much as possible.

Right now, workers who have access to 401(k) plans will be able to invest up to $18,500 next year, while participants age 50 and over will be able to put away $6,000 more. Under current rules, investors will not pay taxes on those contributions until a later date.

That could all change if some lawmakers have their way. Limits for pretax contributions to 401(k) plans could be lowered to $2,400 as Congress looks to make up for other tax cuts.

Financial advisers who work with individual investors said they are concerned about how such changes to 401(k)s could negatively impact people.

"They would stop saving for retirement," said David Edwards, president and wealth advisor at Heron Wealth, a financial planning firm in New York.

Behavior plays a part

The reason has to do with behavioral finance, he said. When saving for retirement with pretax money, it feels like someone else is paying for it. Take away that benefit, and saving becomes less appealing.

"You'll get a huge tax benefit when you retire, but it won't feel the same way," Edwards said.

The fact that only certain individuals have access to these retirement plans is unfair, Edwards said. A more beneficial change for legislators to consider would be opening up the Thrift Savings Plan, available to federal workers, for everyone, he said.

Read the entire commentary at CNBC.

 

Putting a Freeze on Credit Thieves: A Look at Your Protection Options

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Following the Equifax hack, consumers can protect their credit lines by requesting a fraud alert, a security freeze or credit monitoring

Consumers who have been affected by the Equifax Inc. EFX -9.73% data breach and seek to protect their credit lines may find themselves navigating a confusing maze of new terms, costs and responsibilities.

Security Freezes

A credit freeze will prevent a new creditor from accessing a consumer’s credit report. This move prevents anyone from opening a new line of credit in the name of the consumer who enacted the freeze.

David Edwards, president and wealth adviser at Heron Wealth in New York, says those who are past the stage where they’re job hunting, applying for a mortgage or opening new credit lines for other reasons should consider putting a freeze on their credit. He’s advising his clients, most of whom are past that stage, to do so, he says.

Those who may need a credit check to open a new line of credit can always ask the potential lender which credit firm they plan to check the credit history with, then unfreeze their credit with just that credit firm to allow the check, then replace it afterward, Mr. Edwards says. He recently froze his credit with just three five-minute telephone calls, he says.

Credit Monitoring

Even if other steps are taken, experts say consumers may want to consider having their credit monitored for suspicious activity. Such a service will generally alert consumers to credit inquiries, new credit lines and other important changes to one’s credit profile.

But consumers who want credit monitoring shouldn’t sign up for it with one of the credit firms, Mr. Edwards says. He suggests they go to a service such as Identity Guard, LifeLock or myFICO instead.

“I would never get credit monitoring from the credit bureaus. Consumers are not their customers; banks, credit cards and auto lenders are their customers,” he says.

Read the entire article on Wall Street Journal.

 

Want to Know How Your Clients Value You? Ask Them!

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This time we hear from David Edwards, president of New York City-based Heron Wealth. He explains how a client survey transformed how he thought of his work.

When I started my career as a financial advisor 25 years ago, I was very focused on stock performance. I thought of myself as a stock picker and I defined my value using a very specific mandate: I was an expert in U.S. mid-cap stock picking and growth.

Around 2000 my clients began asking me personal questions that had nothing to do with stock picking. They wanted to talk about their retirement plan, or saving up to send a grandchild to medical school, or buying a vacation home, or even their divorce.

At first, I would tell them to call their financial planner, their trusts & estates attorney or their accountant. But that wasn’t the answer my clients were looking for. I was the guy with my hands on their money, and they wanted answers from me. I began doing financial planning and estate planning for my clients, but still considered my true value to be my work as an investment manager.

Then in 2007 I surveyed my clients to find out how they valued the firm. As part of the survey we asked clients to rank 10 reasons why they liked working with us. When we tabulated the results, investment performance came in sixth place overall. The number one reason was trust. As one client wrote, “Good news or bad, you will always hear it first from Dave.”

These results completely surprised me. Up to that point I had assumed my job was to beat benchmarks. But the survey showed me I wasn’t in the U.S. mid-cap stock-picking business anymore — I was in the “good advice” business.

Read the full column at Financial Advisor IQ

 

IRA Rollovers Are No ‘Slam Dunk’ Under DOL Rule

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No matter what politicians in Washington, D.C., decide to do next with the Department of Labor’s new fiduciary rule, planning experts see at least one legal wrinkle as likely to survive.

By the rule’s very definition of what it means to be a fiduciary, advisors are going to need to closely review how they treat rollover IRAs when clients leave an employer’s 401(k) plan or retire.

At Heron Financial Group in New York, which manages $300 million, president David Edwards says he expects implementation of the DOL rule to raise awareness by investors of their rollover options.

As a result, he’s exploring a host of new software services coming to market promising to automate his indie RIA’s longstanding rollover review process.

“We think that taking advantage of new technology in this area is going to be increasingly important for a growing firm like ours – it’s going to help us remain in a strong position to keep up with the rising demand for rollover advice,” Edwards says.

One of the software service providers he’s checking out is FeeX. Last month, the New York-based tech developer rolled out an advisor-enhanced service platform to review IRA transfers and 401(k) rollovers. “It’s certainly true that the DOL rule now requires advisors to offer prudent analysis of fees and services involved in rollover decisions,” says David Goldman, a FeeX executive.

Read the full article at Financial Advisor IQ

 

How Some Savvy FAs are Overtaking ‘Basic’ Robos

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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

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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.

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Smart Fiduciary Strategy Results in 30% Annual Growth at Fee-Only Wealth Management Firm

NEWS PROVIDED BY Heron Wealth - July 25, 2017, 07:55 ET

NEW YORK, July 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- 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.

The overall ranking in the annual survey is based on assets under management. To be eligible, firms must be Registered Investment Advisors and provide financial planning services to individual clients.

NOTEWORTHY GROWTH

Heron Wealth grew from $72 million in assets as of January 2013 to $295 million through July 2017. "We plan to double assets over the next three years, and double again within seven years to $1 billion," Edwards said. "We will continue to deliver the high touch experience our clients expect, but also derive the revenues necessary to support our continued investment in human capital, technology, cyber security, compliance, and operations," added Edwards. "In an environment of rapid industry evolution, our goal it is to lead peer firms by 18 months."

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE

"The future is bright for Heron Wealth, but more importantly, we are now positioned to serve younger individuals as they move through the early accumulation years into their peak earning years. These clients can approach such goals as saving for a child's education or enjoying a fabulous retirement with confidence thanks to proper planning, saving and investing over the course of time," Edwards noted.

"Much of our marketing is directed to GenXers and Millennials," Edwards explained. "We have two advisors who are in their 30s. We give them support and mentoring, and get them in front of prospects as quickly as possible. Our training process is built around 'grow with your clients."

ABOUT HERON WEALTH AND DAVID EDWARDS

David Edwards is president and founder of Heron Wealth, which provides financial planning, investment advice, and estate planning to individuals and families across the United States and overseas in Europe and South America. Review Heron's video Plan, Grow, Keep!

Edwards is a member of the Investment Adviser Association, serving on the Legislation and Technology committees. Edwards was selected to serve on the eMoney Advisory Board in March 2016. Serving on the Advisory Board allows Edwards to contribute to the ongoing success and development of eMoney's financial planning and digital wealth management technology while keeping him in the loop on future developments and innovations within the financial services industry.

Prior to founding Heron Wealth, Edwards was associated with Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Nomura Securities where he developed investment products and quantitative trading models. For fun, Edwards competes frequently in sailing regattas from New England to the Caribbean and coaches a home town team in New York Harbor.

Chasing HENRY, the Hottest New Prospect

investment-advice-planning

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

heron-wealth-new-york

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

financial-planning-nyc

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.

The seminar can be heard here.

 

Evolve or Dissolve: A Story of Wealth Management Transformation

wealth-management-new-york

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

investment-advisor-nyc

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

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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

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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 Amazon.com (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

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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 InsuranceNewsNet.com

 

Heron Wealth selected by Expertise as one of the 15 Best New York City Financial Advisors

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Expertise Looked at 1,944 Financial Advisors in New York City and Picked the Top 15. They scored financial advisors on more than 25 variables across five categories, and analysed the results to give you a hand-picked list of the best financial advisors in New York, NY.

Says Expertise: Heron Wealth of New York City helps clients plan for their financial futures, grow their assets via investment strategies, and secure a strong financial future for family members who will outlive them. The firm gets to know its clients on a personal level and offers continuous education and guidance when it comes to budgeting for life’s transitional periods such as having a child, changing careers, or setting up an inheritance. The firm offers financial planning services that can help clients save money for short-term needs, invest with long-term goals in mind, budget for large purchases such as a home, and enjoy life while also planning for retirement.

Read the entire article here.

 

How one financial adviser lands seven-figure accounts

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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