Last month, Great Valley Advisor Group held the Valley Advisor Summit (VAST) in Austin, Texas, for our network of advisors to connect and explore innovative ways to better their businesses. VAST was designed to support advisors by providing seminars and roundtable discussions, each focused on educating attendees about trends in the industry and how to improve their operations.
Staged at Hotel ZaZa in the heart of downtown, VAST also included a brewery tour so attendees could enjoy some great local beers while networking. Though the tour earned high marks, many advisors noted the education provided at the conference was their favorite part of VAST. In fact, advisors were so engaged during the presentations that many felt hesitant to leave the room because they didn’t want to miss anything important.
“An amazing job — the conference was not just fun, but incredibly useful,” said attendee Ann Alsina, CFP, CPWA, from CovingtonAlsina in Annapolis, Maryland.
“It was a wonderful and valuable time,” added attendee Robert Schmauk of Doylestown Wealth Management in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
The educational component of VAST included four presentations, detailed below:
The EOS Model
Presenter Brian White, a certified EOS implementer, noted that advisors are often so involved in their business, it’s hard for them to look objectively at what’s working. An efficient, strong business requires a clearly defined vision. When an attendee asked White about the difference between a “business message” and core value, he answered that a business message is for marketing materials, but core values are what define your internal culture.
Passion and vision alone aren’t enough to make a good business, White added. A functional and aligned team is also necessary. To optimize your business, you should ask yourself pertinent questions such as: 1) “What is the thing your business does better every time it’s done?” 2) “What recharges you emotionally?” 3) “What recharges your piggy bank?” and 4) “Why does your business exist?”
The After-Tax Advisor and Working With the Wealthy
Sponsored by Eaton Vance and presented by Dave Gordon, CFA, CPWA, from the Eaton Vance Advisor Institute, this session outlined six stressors for the wealthy that advisors should keep in mind when building their financial plan:
- Affluent clients need their risk and return expectations to at least be met, if not exceeded.
- Leveraging and optimizing tax relief is another important consideration. Taxes can be the easiest “fee” to reduce. Questions that might be helpful conversation starters with clients include: “What do you think detracts more from investment performance: fees or taxes?” and “If you received a large tax refund, would you be more likely to spend it or invest it?”
- Concentrated exposure is also a risk for the wealthy, especially when clients feel overconfident about their ability to pick stocks. Advisors need to handle these conversations carefully, keeping aware of the emotional aspect involved.
- Another emotionally charged stressor for many affluent clients is their legacy and what will happen to their wealth after they’re gone.
- Retirement income represents an additional concern. Determining how to replace W-2 income, especially given the lower-than-inflation yield of the 10-year bond, is a challenge advisors need to address.
- Finally, many wealthy clients have non-qualified stock options through their companies, and may have questions about when would be best to exercise them.
Presented by Mannik S. Dhillon, CFA, CAIA, president of VictoryShares and Solutions, this session helped demystify cryptocurrency for advisors so they would be better equipped to discuss the hot topic with their clients. Cryptocurrency is a “democracy of ownership” designed to put commerce in the hands of the people, as opposed to a centralized government, said Dhillon.
Crypto transactions happen on the blockchain, which are blocks of data similar to the internet. The blockchain is public data, keeping a record of all the transactions that occur. Miners verify the transactions and receive a fraction of cryptocurrency for their work. The ledger isn’t held by one person or government, and the data it contains is indisputable.
Many VAST attendees appreciated the education about cryptocurrency, as it can be hard to understand how the value increases or decreases due to its intangibility. Dhillon made an analogy to gold and silver to help attendees better understand the concept. He noted that similar to crypto, there’s no inherent value to precious metals. Rather, you just hold them and hope they increase in worth.
The Predictive Index
This interactive session led by Steve Hopkins, VP of client development at FS Investments, taught advisors more about their leadership style, self-perception, strengths and weaknesses. The predictive index (PI) is a five-minute assessment taken by advisors that assigns them one of 17 different profiles, which are split into four categories: analytical, social, stabilizing and persistent.
The PI is meant to objectively identify your core operating style. Having this knowledge helps advisors reach the next level in running their business by improving aspects such as hiring, onboarding, speed of success, self-awareness, employee development and team performance. There are four traits that factor into workplace behavior: dominance, extraversion, patience and formality. When advisors understand their unique mix of these traits and the impact of them on other people, they’re better equipped to lead their businesses.
Overall, VAST was a resounding success, proving larger events are not always better, and that a smaller setting packed with good information and good people can be much more impactful. GVA is thankful we were able to gather with some of our top-notch advisors to learn, connect and grow together as a team, and we look forward to even greater success in 2022 and beyond.