In 2019, Matt invited Laura and David to discuss FlexShares’ research on high-net-worth primary breadwinners on Proudmouth’s Top Advisor Marketing podcast. He then suggested that they start their own podcast to share proprietary research from FlexShares and Northern Trust on an ongoing basis.
The initial episodes, focusing on FlexShares’ 2019 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) study, were recorded and scheduled to be released on March 20th, 2020 — the day that the world went home. “It was clear that we couldn't drop those episodes then,” Laura said. “We released the first of many episodes around the topic of DEI n May – advisors’ experiences, personal stories relayed by some of own senior management, and connecting clients of color with advisors of color. Our research looked at not only hiring a diverse staff, but also seeking a more diverse clientele. That led to discussions about racial and gender preferences among wealth management clients.”
“The Flexible Advisor proved to be an ideal vehicle to explore topics concerning financial advisors.” – Laura Gregg
Meanwhile, Laura said, “equipped with a new platform and seeing the world changing before our eyes, we started reaching out to people in the industry to find out how they were dealing with issues like going remote.” That inspired a series of episodes highlighting shared challenges, practical solutions, and best practices.
The Flexible Advisor soon proved to be an ideal vehicle to explore multiple aspects of topics concerning financial advisors and planners. Laura shared this example: “We spoke with leaders in the sustainable investing space, like Jon Hale formerly with Morningstar (episode 75), Jeff Gitterman of Gitterman Asset Management (episode 73) and Kylie Miller from Envestnet (episode 76). Hale framed the notion of sustainable investing as a tool rather than a cause. Gitterman emphasized the role of ESG as new, valuable data, likening it to GPS for a client’s investing journey. Miller addressed prevalent misconceptions among advisors.”
Asked to choose episodes that stand out in his memory, David said, “Being in a doctor's family, one of the big ones for me was talking with Lauren Oschman (episode 18) about serving medical professionals, her advisory niche, during COVID 19. We had a heated exchange about that word – niche -- and how specific she had gotten with her practice. I realized that this concept could impact advisors who are trying to differentiate their practice. Another is Dr. Chloe Carmichael (episode 68) and her insight about clients and emotional issues. Understanding the sources of anxiety and how that relates to money and investing is a great topic for advisors. We recently spoke with Brendan Frazier (episode 84) about the concept of a ‘satisfied’ client. He talked about taking that a step further by being emotionally connected to your clients. I thought that was really powerful.
Only 10% of all podcasts make it past 100 episodes.
The most impactful episodes have been those that align with big issues in the industry.
Sharing the results and practical applications of FlexShares’ research remains a priority.
Matt cites ‘Conquering Stress and Coming Back Strong’ with Dr. Jack Singer (episode 48) as one of his favorites. “I don't think people fully understand how powerful and important he is to our Olympic athletes, or how his experience can inspire financial professionals. I also loved the discussion with Michael Labos about Gen X (episode 67). Financial services professionals often seem fixated on baby boomers and millennials. The greatest wealth transfer in the world has happened with generation X. Let’s not forget about the forgotten generation.”
For Laura, the most impactful episodes have been those that align with big issues in the industry. “One that stands out is our talk with Yonhee Gordon (episode 62). We are an older industry. We need to find young, diverse talent and bring them into —and keep them —in this industry. Yonhee has been instrumental in growing her RIA firm to more than $5 billion in assets. She brings people into the organization early in their careers, and then helps them advance into positions of leadership. The continuity within her firm, along with its rapid AUM growth, is impressive.
Another topic that is near and dear to me is the growing wealth ownership by women. We've had the great fortune to speak with many formidable women in this industry, but one episode that stands out for me was Heather Ettinger (episode 45). Heather founded Luma Wealth, an RIA, in 2017 with the express purpose of serving women on their journey to financial wellness. Also, our Northern Trust colleague Steph Wagner joined us (episode 57) to talk about the help women in transition need as they navigate divorce or widowhood and become head of the household.”
David emphasized that the podcast’s original purpose —sharing the results and practical applications of FlexShares’ research —remains a priority. A recent example: “In conjunction with our 12th annual ‘Race to Scalability’ study, we spoke with Paul Binnion of Hanlon Investment Management (episode 46) to get that research out. In conjunction with our release of ‘The New Rules in Growing Wallet Share’ Barnaby Riedel, a Ph. D. from University of Chicago whose firm conducted this behavioral research introduced the five ‘personas’ within every advisor's book of business, and advisors can more effectively engage with them to grow wallet share (episode 85).
Access the complete archive of The Flexible Advisor episodes. “We hope to continue using this platform to help advisors deepen client relationships and grow their businesses,” said David. “We invite anyone with ideas for guests or specific topics reach out to Laura or me.”
You can access the full discussion on The Flexible Advisor, wherever you get your podcasts.