This special Swift Chat comes to you live from the Social/Digital Hub at the 2023 Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago - April 25-27. Hosts Marie Swift and Jonny Swift, along with Honorary Hubsters Shawna Ohm of Content 151 and Victor Gaxiola of TechGirl Financial, speak with some big names about why they love coming to the Morningstar Investment Conference, highlights from various presentations, as well as takeaways from the conversations happening in the exhibit hall.
Leslie Marshall of Mesmerise
Daniel Dusina of Blue Chip Partners
Jamie Hopkins of Carson Group
Brian Portnoy of Shaping Wealth
Dr. Preston Cherry of Concurrent Financial Planning
Tyrone Ross Jr. of Turnqey Labs
Shana Sissel of Banríon Capital Management
J. Alan Reid and Alex Thaler of Iconik
SwiftCams from the 2023 Morningstar Investment Conference
Transcript of the Conversations
MARIE SWIFT AND JONNY SWIFT SET THE STAGE
Marie Swift: Hey, we're here live at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago in the Social/Digital Hub, and we are doing a special conference compilation episode, just finding interesting people here in the exhibit hall.
I'm joined now by my co-host, Jonny Swift. Hey Jonny. What's going on?
Jonny Swift: Hello. We are here in the Social/Digital Hub, we're recording podcasts, as we are now. We're shooting videos. We have a bunch of cool equipment set up here to help advisors capture better video and record podcasts that can help with their digital media marketing.
We're also going to have some special presentations that we call HubTalks, here in the hub later this afternoon, and also a couple tomorrow as well. Marie, can you tell us what those HubTalks are about?
Marie Swift: Today we have Roger Wohlner and Shana Sissel, and they're going to be here talking about building authority through earned media attention.
Tomorrow we are going to be joined by Victor Gaxiola and Shawna Ohm, and of course, Jonny, you and I are going to be on all of these just because we want to converse with everybody and add our own 2 cents. Tomorrow, the first session is on modern marketing and personalization at scale. Then the afternoon session is going to be called Pro-Personal Marketing, where we're talking about voice authenticity and how to really stand out from your peers.
Jonny Swift: Yes, exactly. So obviously by the time this podcast comes out, you won't be able to come see them live in the Social/Digital Hub, but we will be recording these and putting them up on our Vimeo channel so you can watch the replay and get all the good content and information that way.
Marie Swift: All right, let's go find some interesting people to talk to and get them at the mic.
Jonny Swift: All right, thanks.
LESLIE MARSHAL OF MESMERIZE ON ... HOW AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY PLATFORMS ARE CHANGING THE WAY BUSINESS GETS DONE
Marie Swift: Okay, we are here at the Morningstar Conference, and I'm joined now by Leslie Marshall. Leslie, you and I go way back. We know each other from even before the time that you were working at Morningstar, back when you were in the book publishing world, and you and I worked together on a book.
Leslie Marshall: Yes. Sheryl Garrett's book.
Marie Swift: Here we are again. And now you actually have a brand-new role as CMO at Mesmerise. And so I'm mesmerized because I want to know all about virtual reality, and what you're doing to help businesses apply that to their businesses.
Marshall: Yes. Well, it's such an exciting space to work in. As you said, Mesmerise specializes in virtual reality. We also can help companies understand how to use augmented reality, mixed reality, AI. So, a wide range of new technologies that really help create new experiences. And even though the technologies are new, what's not new is the focus on your customer, the focus on the person for whom this experience should be all about.
When you think about what does a customer want, what are the problems they're trying to solve, whether it's a brand, you're trying to create brand experience for them, or you're trying to either create learning and development opportunities for a business, thinking through what that attendee experience or the customer experience is all about, and then using the technology is the right way to think about it. We like to say frame the experience, not the tech.
Marie Swift: Got it. Frame the experience, not the tech. I think that that's brilliant because I struggle a little bit about how to frame the experience with virtual reality, and I've tried some of it, and it's super fun, but help us understand how to apply that in a practical way to business.
Marshall: Sure. That's our whole mission at Mesmerise is all about making it practical for the business and thinking about how to use it. A good example again comes back to what does the business want to accomplish? Do they want to reduce their carbon footprint? Are they looking to reduce their travel costs? That's certainly been a big theme in the last few months as companies are looking to cut costs.
How could virtual reality, meetings in virtual reality, trainings in virtual reality, serve as a way to still get people together? And because of the immersive nature of the technology, you have that sense of co-presence. There's not the tiredness that you might feel on long Teams meetings, that you are together and you're engaged, and it also cuts out the distractions. There's no multitasking while you're in VR, you're really focused on training. Training outcomes are improved because people are able to focus on what they're learning and the information that they're receiving, and so that's better for the company as well.
Improving training outcomes, reducing travel costs, reducing your carbon footprint. Our data science team has a whole calculation on how the events that we've hosted and the trainings that we've done with various organizations have had an impact on their carbon footprint as well as the cost savings for the company. So that's just one practical example.
Marie Swift: That's really fascinating, and I had not thought about cutting out the distractions, but I remember when I had my headset on and I was attending the Morningstar conference, virtually, it was during the pandemic. That was a unique experience for me, and there were no distractions because there couldn't be. I needed to interact with my environment in a different way. It was not a skill that I had at that time.
Marshall: And it's hard too, right? You're not tweeting during a session, you're not writing notes, you're really just listening and taking it all in. So yes, the immersive quality allows you to really be focused and present. That's a really important thing, especially in a world where there's so many distractions.
Marie Swift: Yes, we do have a lot of distractions, don't we? But one of the things I love about being live in a conference setting like this is seeing old friends, making new, that personal connectivity. I don't think you would ever give that up. You would just use virtual reality for one application, or would you?
Marshall: Think of it as a suite of tools on your desk. I have a Meta Quest for business, and it sits on my desk. It's got a docking station on my desk. We have weekly staff meetings where we all get together in VR to meet as a global company. I put my headset on, we have the meeting, I put my headset off and I go on about my day, because I've got other things to do. If I had a training session or another event or something else to do in VR, I'd get the headset out again and use it.
I've actually been using this headset, I use an app called FitXR, and I've been working out in VR. It has these 10, 15, 20-minute workouts. Sometimes I just, when sitting at home, working from home, I need to get up, stretch, be a little bit more active. I can fit in a quick workout session, cool off a little bit, and then get right back to work. For me, it's actually helping me maintain a healthier lifestyle because I can fit it in.
These headsets, these devices supplement your day and your work. They're not a replacement for what you're doing.
Marie Swift: It's really interesting because we hear about Zoom fatigue. And that became a buzz phrase during the pandemic because we all had to go to the virtual Zoom type settings. I love this idea that you could use it to supplement and have a better life, and also better business conversations.
Marshall: Absolutely. Yep. As all these other headsets come out, there's lots of buzz around the Apple headset. What is it going to look like? What are you going to be able to do?
These headsets are going to keep evolving and changing. Even when we started working with Mesmerise in 2018, the headset systems, you might recall, were with all the cords and the microphones and these huge laptops, the devices just like mobile phones are changing quickly. I do expect we're not going to be as focused on the device in the future.
That's just going to be a delivery mechanism for the content or the experience, and it's going to be much more portable, and easy to use in our day-to-day work and life.
Marie Swift: Well, I know you're here seeing old friends at the conference. And you have had roles at Morningstar over the years. I know that people are happy to see you back with your new role as CMO at Mesmerise.
Anything that's especially dear for you being back in the community here at Morningstar?
Marshall: Well, first of all, it's just so fun. Having worked on the conference for over 16 years and really been part of my day-to-day year and all the planning, I know all the hard work and planning.
When I started seeing the setup this weekend, when I started seeing social posts, I knew what was going on behind the scenes and how much work is involved. It's been really fun to see the work continue. I think any good manager, you want to set your team up for success and you want to set the future teams up for success.
While it's a little bit, for me, there's a little bit of feeling like, oh, I'm not part of the inside group anymore. Seeing the team pull off another great conference and experience and see them bring so many ideas that we had last year to life. Like the investor wall and the brand experience and talking through the different investor needs, the evolving investor, seeing all of that come to life has been really exciting.
I got to meet Mo today, Morningstar Mo, their AI empowered avatar. And I got to talk to Mo today. Again, the use of technology to help empower investors is such a great use case and it's really exciting to see Morningstar use that technology so well. Really proud of the team.
Marie Swift: Great to see you. Thanks for spending some time with me here at the mic.
Marshall: Thank you.
DANIEL DUSINA OF BLUE CHIP PARTNERS ON ... HIS FIRST EXPERIENCE BEING AN ADVISOR AT THE MORNINGSTAR INVESTMENT CONFERENCE
Jonny Swift: We are here at the Social/Digital Hub at the 2023 Morningstar Conference. I'm here with Daniel Dusina of Blue Chip Partners. How are you doing today?
Daniel Dusina: Fantastic, thanks Jonny.
Jonny Swift: Tell me a little bit about Blue Chip.
Dusina: Yeah. Blue Chip Partners is a Registered Investment Advisor based out of Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. We manage money for individuals and look to preserve and grow their wealth.
Jonny Swift: This is your first Morningstar conference, right? What brought you to the conferences here?
Dusina: Well, I think it's so many different things, but as the individual that oversees the investment department at Blue Chip, I think knowledge sharing and taking a step back from your day-to-day and not getting wrapped up with your high conviction ideals is incredibly important. So, to be able to bounce ideas off other professionals, try to understand the direction and the path forward for markets, but also how to deliver that message to a client base. That's the type of benefit that you get from a conference like Morningstar is putting on.
Jonny Swift: Have you seen any sessions yet? Are you looking at forward to any sessions that you think are going to provide those benefits for you?
Dusina: Absolutely. I can start by even just saying on the fixed income side of the equation, it's a little bit concerning how consensus and how much in agreement every fund manager that I've talked to is in consensus with the fact that we're heading into a recession in the back half of 2023.
You have to lean into duration, but do it in a high-quality manner. That's been the exact same message across the board. My takeaway there is, we've been positioned that way for the last six months. We should probably reassess to make sure we're not missing anything else.
Then on the equity side, we do operate in a framework that we build model portfolios in-house through single stocks. Talking to Morningstar about their wide moat methodology, which very much correlates with how we run our equity book, which is very high quality in nature, understanding different inputs, understanding how we can apply those inputs to our own framework. I thought that was very interesting.
Jonny Swift: Very interesting. I know also that Blue Chip does in-house portfolio management. Tell me why you think that sets your firm apart and why it's a differentiator.
Dusina: Yeah. Well, first and foremost, the client experience you get from an actual tailored methodology that we employ, it provides so many different benefits.
The first of which, is actually being able to have clients have visibility into what they own. Not just apply preferences, even though that is a benefit too, but the understanding, the tangible nature that we can apply, it resonates very well with clients because at the end of the day, we are there to keep people invested and do it in a prudent manner. Having a tangible portfolio is one great way to do that. It also allows us to be more nimble, more tax efficient, and cost effective.
Jonny Swift: All right, Daniel Dusina at Blue Chip Partners, thanks for joining me.
Dusina: Thanks for having me, Jonny.
JAMIE HOPKINS OF CARSON GROUP ON ... THE CONFERENE, PODCASTS, BOOKS, AI AND CONTENT CREATION
Marie Swift: All right, we are back. I'm at the mic now with Jamie Hopkins, who probably needs no introduction. Of course, he's with the Carson Group. Jamie, you're known as a thought leader, a mover and shaker in the industry, and you have a really popular podcast called Framework. Welcome to the show.
Jamie Hopkins: Yeah, thanks for having me on. I love Framework, and you know my co-host, Ana's amazing, and it's been a blast.
I think we just recorded episode 200, which is wild to think that we've been doing that since 2020 now. The world shut down, and I said, how am I going to interact with people? Podcasting was the next step then.
Marie Swift: Yeah. And you also have a new book?
Hopkins: I do. Find Your Freedom came out back in November.
I wrote most of it, Ron's interspaced throughout it because Ron's got a big impact, obviously on me. The whole notion of Find Your Freedom really is something Ron's pushed and it did well. We hit Wall Street Journal bestseller a little bit ago, but that's really about this convergence of financial planning and finding meaning in life that there's a movement happening out there around that for sure, that people really do care about the impact, how they feel, what their aspirations are.
It's not just investments, it's not just your returns, but it's that quality of life and what impact you're going to leave behind. It was fun to put a lot of my story into there, which has been super interesting post the book. I think my most interesting stories now are like how I've reacted with my mom and others since I've written the book, and put some of my dad's when he passed away, that's a big part of the start of the book. Then talking to my mom about how we experienced the same event, but in very different ways.
Marie Swift: Yeah, for sure. Well, I'm dealing with some family issues myself, so I hear you on that.
We're here at the Morningstar Investment Conference, and I know that you come here to connect with your partners who are here attending and advisors. Tell us a little bit more about how the conference is for you and what's happening in your experience.
Hopkins: Yes. As you know, I see you about every month at a conference. I spend a lot of time at conferences. I love the Morningstar conference. I think the first time I went to was maybe 2018, so I haven't been a forever Morningstar conference person, but I love this conference.
I think they have some of the best investment content out there, really, really good. And where are people's minds? Where is the industry? What are some of the movements occurring? We've got great investment partners here that Carson uses for a lot of our model portfolios. It's always good to spend time with them, see what they're working on, see how we can improve things.
Then a big part of my role now is I shifted a little bit this last year in oversight, Carson Wealth, our RIA offering. At Carson a big part of my is recruiting advisors, helping them find succession planning in a home. We've done a couple large acquisitions the first half of this year and we were not a big player in that a year ago.
Our first deal was really done in August of last year, and I think we've done four since then. And we'll probably do another four by the end of the year. Just hearing what's on advisor's minds so I can constantly go back and improve our offering and just be better for whatever that long-term partner might be for an advisory firm out there.
Marie Swift: I find it's always good to get out and see the people. Something good happens when you talk to other human beings. We're talking a lot about AI and how the bots are invading, or aiding, or however you see it, as a threat or an opportunity. What's on your mind as far as technology and artificial intelligence?
Hopkins: I wouldn't say I'm like super tech forward anymore. I'd say 10 years ago I felt that way, and now I feel like I'm like barely keeping up with technology, it's moving super-fast. When ChatGPT-4 came out, I was messing with it one day, and I didn't sleep that night, and I didn't sleep well the next night. Part of it was I was super impressed and not in the sense that I felt like it was ready to change the way that everybody operates overnight.
But I thought, man, like this is version one, version three will be here within a year. I'm being a little simplistic with that, but my meaning is it is evolving super-fast. Some of the AI that we use for podcasting, to cut audio, to remove background sounds, some of them actually duplicate your voice and then reproduce it. Which is super interesting tech that places like Disney would spend millions of dollars a year on for a very similar outcome that you can do for like $20 now yourself.
Literally the ability to replace what large studios did, what writers did, overnight, is to me super interesting. I'm sure people have views on this, I don't know yet how this is going to change our industry, but a hundred percent I think it's going to.
Even our marketing team has started to use different AI for it. We use the AI in our editing softwares now, and we've been doing that since last year, but they just keep getting better and better. That's a huge movement.
The other thing that I really think is going to happen in our space, is the digital front and experience for clients has to change. We have an awful, as an industry, digital experience for clients as we compare that to other industries. Ours is a decade behind. A little bit of this technology improvement, that's going to be the thing probably most visible over the next year and a half, next 18 months, is if you don't have a great client experience, people are starting to expect that in every aspect of their life.
Our industry is not delivering it. I'm not going to name names, but you can think of some of the biggest players out there, and you log into the portal and you're like, what is this experience? I see it in the 401K world a lot too. That's really antiquated, really terrible digital experience. Somebody's going to disrupt that in a major way in the next 18 months too.
Marie Swift: Yes. It's always so great to see you and I don't know where we'll see each other again, but maybe at the awards ceremony this fall for sure, because I'm sure Carson will be there. Hopefully you and I will be clinking a glass and saying congratulatory comments to one another.
Hopkins: Well, I hope so. I hope that you're winning some awards. I hope some of your clients, as you always help them just get their messages out there and do such a great job. Super impressed with everything you do and thanks for having me on, and I'm sure I will see you again soon.
Marie Swift: Thanks, Jamie.
VICTOR GAXIOLLA (TECHGIRL FINANCIAL), BRIAN PORTNOY (SHAPING WEALTH), AND DR. PRESTON CHERRY (CONCURRENT FINANCIAL PLANNING) ON ... STORYTELLING FOR ADVISORS
Victor Gaxiola: This is Victor Gaxiola with TechGirl Financial, and I'm excited to be here at the Social/Digital Hub at the Morningstar conference. And as an honorary Hubster, I get the privilege of being able to talk to two people who I just sat in on your session Storytelling for Advisors. Joining me today is Brian Portnoy of Shaping Wealth and Dr. Preston Cherry of Concurrent Financial Planning. Welcome gentlemen.
I am trying to compress what was in a standing session that was probably about an hour long, down to five to 10 minutes to share with you. But I wanted to get from your perspective, what was some of the driving messages you were hoping to get across in your panel session today?
Brian Portnoy: I think the overarching message is that the modern financial advisor helps people live a life well lived, and that we define our lives through the lens of story. Whether we know it or not, our brains are hardwired to tell stories about who we are and who we might become. And the financial planning process can be wonderfully illuminated when we embrace basic storytelling techniques.
Preston Cherry: Yes. People want to be heard. Very rarely do I get people to say, don't ask me that. They tend to say, nobody's ever asked me that, or I've been waiting to share, and people just want to be able to tell their story and be authentically listened to, and heard. And because that information that we learned from them informs the numbers.
Gaxiola: Yeah. Well, as an advisor myself, I have found that the storytelling technique and really trying to extract stories from our clients, and it's an exchange from a vulnerability standpoint and sharing our own stories. I'm kind of curious from your perspectives, how has the client experience changed in this industry?
Cherry: Right. Well, we are getting more human. The processes have always allowed for it, we just haven't done it very well. It's always been there and I'm glad we're maturing as an industry to do that, particularly with financial planning. Financial planning has always left that window open as far as the people are concerned. Attitudes, values, all these key words, but how do you do that? You just want to be able to have frameworks to do the work.
Portnoy: Yeah, I mentioned during the panel that we're on a 50-year arc from Gordon Gekko to Brené Brown.
This started out as a hard charging, investments-focused business in terms of “financial planning.” But it's broadened and deepened into something special where you can really understand where people are, and where they want to go. With Brené Brown and people like her, one of our heroes, the ability to be vulnerable, the ability to tell stories that are meaningful to you, that's what it's all about. It's not clear that even though many advisors embrace that approach or philosophy, it doesn't mean that they're getting training in doing that, and it's actually a skill.
Gaxiola: Right. And then that was one of the things, because when you mentioned up there in the panel, I took this note away, Brian, that you said that part of this exercise is getting to the client's why, and a lot of the discussion centered that that is an exercise and trying to get to the why and how do you get to the point where you can start getting to it without getting too invasive, are making the person uncomfortable about sharing more than they should. Because as you all said, you're not putting them on a couch, but you need this information.
Cherry: For sure. There are levels to it. Brian alluded to it many times during the session that we had, which is, we're not trying to take it there, so to speak. I'm doing air quotes right now. Because that's for other professionals.
However, that first level and that second level, yes. Those open-ended questions, those curious questions in order to encourage, we're trying to encourage the conversation, empower the conversation. I always say, if you open up the heart, you open up the mind.
That's when you get to receive stories, and then the other person gets to receive education, and then you’re uplifting the whole process after you've opened up the heart a little bit.
Portnoy: Yeah. I think it's relatively easy, and safe, to talk about goals, goals-based planning, and how goals drive then an actual financial plan. You've gone from the what to the how, but preceding all of that is the why. The goals end up being the bridge between your why, and the execution of the plan.
When you say to somebody, what is it that you want? We often rehearse, well-accepted scripts. Well, I want to retire at age 65. And okay, fine, nominally that's well understood and accepted. But if we're really trying to achieve financial wellbeing and a broader sense of flourishing, getting into what's truly motivating you, that is where the best financial planning really begins. That's the leverage point. We want to be able to accommodate that in the process of helping our clients.
Gaxiola: All really good. Let's talk about things that are actionable. If advisors are listening to this podcast right now and taking these nuggets and saying, yes, I want to get better at being able to either tell my own story or extract the story from my clients, what would be the process? What would be the best next steps for them?
Cherry: Best next steps are to do your own work. Go walk through some of these exercises that you're going to give assignment to your clients. Because once you feel how they are going to experience it, first of all, there's some advisors that have really never done it before.
When I walked through my own journey and did my own work, because one thing you don't want to do is there's a famous saying, counter transference. You don't want to just transfer all of your things over to the client. If you've done your work first and you experience that, then it's a sense of vulnerability. It's a sense of transparency. When you give that assignment to the client, you kind of know what they're going to expect. Then you can help them transform.
Portnoy: That's a great answer and I just put on top of that, we want to demonstrate empathy that to a large extent, empathy is the superpower of the modern advisor, but the fuel in the tank of empathy is self-awareness.
The storytelling exercise has multiple steps, or as a craft, it has multiple dimensions, and it starts with you as the advisor. Most advisors have not really come to terms with why they've chosen a career in financial services to begin with. Why is it, who are you and why is it that you're providing the services that you are? Why is it meaningful to you?
Different steps that you can take to tell your own money story. That builds out your self-awareness so that when you begin to listen to other stories on the other end of having experienced that, you're like, oh, okay, now I understand a little bit better because I've gone through this myself.
Then you can be asking a number of questions about early memories of money, or where they learned about things, or hard decisions that they've had to make, or certain life events that have been triggering. All of those now fit into a context.
Gaxiola: As an advisor myself, I learned and got so much out of your session and I really appreciate you sharing your insights. Thank you so much for joining me here in the Social/Digital Hub, and I hope to continue following you on social media and helping each other out.
Portnoy: Absolutely, we appreciate you. Thank you.
SHAWNA OHM (CONTENT 151) AND TYRONE ROSS (401 FINANCIAL & TURNQEY) ON ... INVESTING TRENDS, DIGITAL NATIVES, AND CRYPTO CURRENCY
Shawna Ohm: We are here at the Social/Digital Hub. This is Shawna Ohm. I am an honorary Hubster this year and pinch hitting here.
I'm here with Tyrone Ross, who I bribed to be here with cupcakes. It's the only way we can get him to a cold weather climate. He's here to tell us what he's been building the past year, the RIA, the tech side of things. For anyone who hasn't been paying attention, what's the latest venture?
Tyrone Ross: For ventures, we have been hard at work on two things. One is 401 Financial, which is a Registered Investment Advisor that is geared to serve the underserved, the 25 to 45 market. Those that are working with an advisor for the first time, young digital natives that are looking for a family office in their pocket. So that's essentially what we're building there.
Ohm: What do you say to the folks, by the way, who say that that audience is not profitable? That we have to go after folks who already have money. You're obviously going to want to build a profitable business model, so clearly there's some potential there.
Ross: I say we launched in September and we're already profitable. That's what I say. That's the first thing.
I think that's an easy way to bow out of serving a market that you have no experience or community with. It's easy to dismiss them, because you realize you have to break what you've always known to be able to serve them. I'm from that, so it's easy for me to serve those folks. We're 500 bucks a month, all in, there's no other fees. We're non-discretionary AUM, we don't trade, we don't custody on behalf of clients. The goal will be to get that to 500 bucks a quarter and then to make it 500 bucks a year.
And it can scale, there's another thing. We only agreed to take on 25, but it looks like we'll be able to take on 50 clients and it'll eventually be able to scale that. The goal is from what we built, what makes it possible is one, our tech stack is very lean. Two, access to capital. We took in investor capital. It makes it easy for us to build and innovate, and offset some of those costs. It was really cool, Simon Taylor, for those who read his newsletter, Fintech Brain Food, I believe it’s called. He wrote up, I read this newsletter every week, and I didn't know 401 was in it.
One of the founders I work with sent it to me was like, did you pay to be in Simon's newsletter? I'm like, what? And he sent it to me and he wrote this really nice piece on 401. He mentioned it was an RIA, but almost mentioned it like a betterment or a wealth front, and broke down our business model exactly how we did it. It shows that we could be extremely profitable.
Ohm: I think there's a misunderstanding as to why you named it 401, and that's a good story. Will you fill everyone in on why you named it that?
Ross: Absolutely. My junior year of high school, I ran track in high school, and my junior year was June before the state meet, and I was in the 400-meter final. I'm super nervous. I'm trying to get out of it the whole time. My track coach also was a biology teacher, so I went to his classroom that day, like three or four times. Take me out, put me in something else. I don't want to run this. And he's like, “nope, you're running it. Nope, you're running it.”
We go to the back of the school, get on the bus, and he stops me and he's like, relax. He goes, “everyone is coming to this meet today to run 400. You're going to run 401.” And I won. Literally by like leaning and running one meter more than my teammate, who I beat. From that moment on, I was 16 years old, I lived my life by that mantra. One more. One more of everything. So that's where the name originated, where it came from. One more.
Ohm: The extra meter. Well, let's talk about the tech side of things, because I think some people were surprised when you launched the RIA, only because you were going around and having meetings with a lot of these big firms and people were speculating, but it turns out there was a very good reason for that.
Ross: Turnqey came about when I was at my previous building, my previous company, and I just started taking these notes in my phone. Somewhat out of frustration, but mainly because when you're a visionary and you're a dreamer, you constantly have ideas. The notes in my phone are full of ideas and it's just kind of just there.
When I resigned and I started, I was in Omaha actually. I was meeting with Carson, I'm sure folks in the industry know it was all types of articles and everything about me being at Carson. I can say it now, but I was going to Carson to possibly think about launching my RIA there. This meeting was already set up though, prior to me leaving.
It was like a dual thing. This is two days after I resigned. What was interesting about that is I go to meet with Carson. I get there, the PR department is going nuts because there's all these articles about whatever, about me meeting with Ron, Ron wasn't even there.
I have to borrow a conference room while I'm there. I have to stop the meetings because I have to give a presentation to BlackRock. I get done as I go back into a meeting. Eric Clarke from Orion DMs me on LinkedIn. He was like, I heard you're in town, come see me. I finished meetings with Carson. I go around the corner, Jamie Hopkins, shout out to Jamie Hopkins, who drove me over.
Ohm: I was just going to say, is he going to get in trouble for not finding you at Carson now?
Ross: Yeah, Jamie and Craig Lemoine drove me over to meet with Eric Clarke. The first time I was meeting him, incredible human being, and he was like, I feel for you what you're going through, but what's next?
I read him the notes out of my phone and he's like, go build that, and I'm like, all right, there's something here. I teased it a little bit with Carson, and then I went through a bunch of other places after that. We’re at the Morningstar conference, so I'll use this obligatory reference.
Think of Turnqey like the ByAllAccounts of crypto. Basically, we're allowing the end client of the advisor to go to a Coinbase or Gemini or whatever it is, pulling their data into the advisor's platform for the advisor just to see it. Can't transact, can't do anything but just read only data on the client's holdings, the transfers, and all these other things.
That's what Turnqey Labs is. Two co-founders there. The cool thing is, between Amber, who's my niece, she works at both companies, Erik Smith, who's the CIO, CFP at 401, and other ex-OnRamp folks. They came over and keen eye on what needed to be built. So that's essentially what we're doing with Turnqey.
It's just crypto data that we piped into the existing workflows of the advisor. And I was just telling you before we were recording, I always use this example, advisors don't want to pay $2 million for a condo and go across the street to use the bathroom. And I knew that was the missing link.
It's just that advisors are, love them and I'm one now again, lazy. Right, the easy button. And if you look at it here, all the exhibitors here and the folks, there's a movement in wealth management platforms from tools to actual all in one. If you look at all of the pieces that are coming together and the portfolio management software, which is essentially like the heart.
You're putting CRMs on top of that, they're pulling in financial planning. Say all that to say, the goal for Turnqey is just to pipe into an Orion, an Addepar, a Black Diamond, and then just kind of land and expand throughout the platform so the advisor can see. Crypto is just like any other asset that's a part of the platform.
Ohm: Before we wrap it up, one final thing. We're just talking about storytelling and I feel like Crypto is a story that's been written about it by maybe not the best folks to write that story. You've got the SBFs and then even John Oliver just did a whole big segment on it. For the people who are not afraid to call out the industry, but who still believe in the technology, who are rewriting that story for the advisor community, I feel that's a big part of what you're doing. So what story are you telling with Turnqey? What narrative do advisors need to know?
Ross: I love that question and there are a lot of things that we are working on. Another side project that I'm working on now with some ex-AQR folks that I'm excited about is risk scores, for every individual asset.
There's just no risk scoring. Everyone wants it, everyone needs it. I think the story that we're telling with Turnqey in general is that this is not a new novel technology that you should be afraid of. It's just at the end of the day data, and it’s access to information. It's essentially a data layer.
Again, for me, my bigger fight is that this helps the underserved. It provides financial access to people that have never had it before. But I think what advisors and wealth managers will start to see is how many people that are doing it away from them, that if they were just to have some guidance on a client with 14,000 transactions. That's a lot of transactions to reconcile.
We're telling the story of accessibility, of ease. It's in the name Turnqey to make it very easy. And I think if we can just sit it right next to stocks, bonds, cash, whatever else, it'll just be easy for an advisor to model, plan and bill and they won't even think about it being crypto. It's just there.
Ohm: I feel like we've talked about this for forever. I mean, we were, before we hopped on here, so I'll leave it there, but where can people go to find out more information or learn more or reach out?
Ross: I'll make this quick, but I always end this the same way. I'm at Twitter at TR401. You can email me. hello@TyroneRoss.io, but mainly NoKidHungry.org. If you listen to this and found some value, go feed a hungry child.
Ohm: Love it.
Ross: Thank you.
SHANA SISSEL OF BANRION CAPITAL MANAGEMENT ON ... WORKING WITH THE MEDIA, MORNINGSTAR'S INVESTMENT RESEARCH, AND HER FIRST #MICUS EVENT
Jonny Swift: All right. We're back in the Social/Digital Hub at the 2023 Morningstar Conference. I'm here with Shana Sissel of Banríon Capital Management. Thanks for joining me. We just got done with our HubTalk on earned media. Give me a brief recap of what you spoke on.
Shana Sissel: Well, I talked about how I personally have used media and opportunities in media to sort of build my brand personally and professionally, and how that's really helped me in my business, in my networking and being here today. And just tips and tricks of how to be successful in that respect.
Jonny Swift: You said you were walking around the exhibit hall and people were stopping you and recognizing you. So that's kind of a cool feeling, isn't it?
Sissel: It's a very odd feeling because in normal life I am a nobody, and I go about my business and then I come to financial conferences and I am inevitably stopped. People will say, oh my God, you're Shana Sissel. And it's kind of weird, but I guess if you're going to be finance famous, as I like to say, it's best to have it in a limited setting.
Jonny Swift: This is your first Morningstar Conference, right? What have you enjoyed about it so far? Have you gone to any interesting sessions? Anything else you're looking forward to?
Sissel: Well, I sat in traffic for two hours on my way here, so I missed some of my favorite sessions.
What I like here is just the variety of different types of speakers and opportunities. They have the ‘Meet the Manager’ function, which is really interesting to get some of the most famous investors on stage to talk about the nitty gritty of what they do as investors. We have the Social/Digital Hub. There's a fintech setup. There's lots of different opportunities from here, from lots of different experts depending on what your business and focus is.
If you're someone like me, the ‘Meet the Manager’ makes a lot of sense, because we're investors. We help advisors invest their money. We build their portfolio, specifically in the alternative investment world. But there's also been some really good panels that are related to that. But there's also been, if you're an advisor, wanting to know how to look at funds and do your own research.
There was a panel earlier today from Morningstar talking about manager research and how that goes. I think for me, it's really about having that variety. Whether you're an advisor, an investor, an allocator, or just a finance nerd, there's something for you here.
Jonny Swift: There is something for everyone. All right, well, thank you for joining us in the Hub today.
Sissel: Thank you so much for having me.
ALAN REID AND ALEX THALER OF ICONIK ON ... BEING A PART OF THE MORNINGSTAR FINTEC SHOWCASE, ESG TRENDS AND CONSIDERATIONS FOR ADVISORS
Marie Swift: All right. We are back here at the Social/Digital Hub at the Morningstar Conference. I'm Marie Swift. I'm joined now by Alan Reid, who is the president and co-founder along with the CEO Alex Thaler from a company called Iconik. Gentlemen, you were here participating in the Morningstar Fintech Showcase. Tell us about that.
J. Alan Reid: Well, it's really cool. Morningstar has really identified all sorts of great companies that are growing and focusing on just innovation. Probably the big thing I walked away from was today and really focused on personalization and these wild times that we're seeing where there's trillions, they're saying over $70 trillion of money moving wealth transfer from the baby boomers to millennials.
As we start to think about it, I've got 35 years of industry experience, and the reality is there's never been a time like that. And for advisors, the best opportunity is when what we call money’s in motion. There's no time like right now to actually attract new assets for advisors. So really exciting to see all the different technology implications there.
Alex Thaler: Thanks for having us, Marie. I just want to echo what Alan's been saying about personalization and scale. I think that's the buzzword of the conference and most of the companies presenting had some element of that. Also, some interesting new technologies, generative AI among them. And then of course, our company Iconik, doing something new in the space.
Marie Swift: Well, tell us about Iconik. What is new? What are you doing in the space?
Reid: We're empowering investors and their advisors. When I say that, I really mean empowering. We're giving them impact, we've automated proxy voting. Proxy voting was something that nobody really knew about until a couple of years ago. But, basically when you buy a stock, you get an ownership of a company, and with that comes a vote and a voice, an agency.
Yet, it was very difficult for people, what many academics have said was the cost was too high for individuals. When they say that, they mean that the amount of time and education needed to go through these proxies and feel meaningful was difficult. So, with technology, we've automated that functionality to set it and forget it. Thereby allowing advisors to have conversations with clients about something other than just performance or fees.
As a friend of mine says, those are two dogs. And really, if you're thinking about you're building a relationship, you want to be talking about trust, you want to be talking about people's values, you want to be talking about personalization. Well, there's nothing in my mind in this industry that allows that as talking about automation of their proxy, voting with their values, with their own customized values, total personalization.
Thaler: I'll add a very concise summary here. We're the first platform built around the transformative power of choice in proxy voting.
Marie Swift: Interesting. I worked with a woman (financial advisor Haleh Moddasser) who did some research on ESG, and there's been a lot of publicity around the idea of divesting from certain things that you may not support for political or socio reasons, socioeconomics. One of the points she made is that you can use your proxy voting opportunity to stay invested in companies and have a voice at the table. Is this something that you think about?
Reid: That's exactly what we do. We allow people to have that voice and easy examples, popular examples would be diversity.
So even though you may own an ESG fund, that fund likely isn't going to mandate a 40% gender diversity. You can do that on our platform. Same thing with ethnic diversity. You can go through and think about, a lot of people are worried about animal testing. Different areas that are specific hot issues for individuals they can focus on, on soul issues or go through the whole gamut.
But we allow ultimate customization. And to your point, that's why I said true impact, where you actually have a voice. I was somebody who ran funds for the Sierra Club in my former life, and I really feel like I was giving away teddy bears because I was making people feel good, by not investing in a certain asset.
But ultimately, could I show impact? I really couldn't show impact. Today we can show impact and we report that back in a customized feature to each individual shareholder based on their own values. So, it's a custom benchmark.
Thaler: Yeah, agree a hundred percent. If you look at the data and what's happening in the space and you sort of dig a little bit deeper, it's not that investors necessarily are asking for ESG.
What they're asking for is that their investments are aligned with their values. We think of ourselves as just a separate way to do that. And we can do that with any portfolio that includes public equities. We can basically transform any portfolio that includes public equities into a values-aligned portfolio by automatically voting to match each investor's values.
Marie Swift: Fascinating. Well, gentlemen, I know that you have a lot of contacts here, that you're making more contacts through the Morningstar community. Do you have a booth here for people to visit?
Reid: We don't. We are free spirits. We are here next year.
Thaler: Maybe next year. We will come back with a booth.
Marie Swift: How can our listeners learn more about Iconik?
Thaler: They can go to the website. It's IconikApp.com. We have a page for advisors, for retail, and also for funds.
Marie Swift: Fabulous. Thanks for spending time with me here.
Reid: Thank you so much. Have fun.
Thaler: Thank you.