A Recap of the 2022 Invest in Women Conference
The Invest in Women conference in Atlanta returned after a three-year hiatus and Beyond AUM was happy to represent. The financial advisory industry has sometimes lagged in building representation within the female demographic. That’s despite the largest wealth transfer currently in motion, with women set to control $30 trillion dollars by the end of the decade and female breadwinner status growing every day.
That’s only one reason why this conference is so important. FA Magazine not only showcased topics that are important to women, but they created an environment of learning and sharing that women could thrive in.
What do I mean by that? There’s a lot of data out there that show women are more likely to participate in conversations and share information when they are surrounded by other women. With over 200 women attending the conference, this was no exception. The conference’s main stage included accomplished women like Donna Brazile, a veteran Democratic political strategist, and Liz Ann Sonders, Managing Director and Chief Investment Strategist at Charles Schwab, while the breakout sessions dug deep into practice management, growth, financial planning and investment topics.
Let’s dive into some of the highlights.
Longevity and the New Retirement
Maddy Dychtwald of Edward Jones laid out the fact that the retirement of old is no more. While we tend to think that retirement has evolved from rocking chairs to rock climbing, active retirement isn’t the only change and advisors need to note and understand the four pillars of retirement. Based on a study by Edward Jones, we traveled through the four pillars (or stages) of pre- and post- retirement. Not too long ago, a person who entered retirement was only in retirement for about 10 years. Today’s retirees are spending up to 30 years in retirement, which takes a whole new type of planning. This is where the four stages of retirement come in. Each stage (anticipation, liberation, reinvention, and reflection) represents a time of transformation, and each transformation represents a need for a different type of planning. The study can be found here.
Key Takeaways: With retirement lasting up to 30 years now, financial advisors need to consider more than the longevity of clients’ wealth. Clients now expect advisors to explore not only how to afford the next act but possibilities of what the next act could look like. The three-legged stool is not enough.
Buying and Selling Advisory Firms
The M&A landscape has changed and with multiples ranging from 5x to 20x EBITDA, financial advisory firms need to understand the nuances of a transaction. This panel discussion focused on the pros and cons of buying or selling an advisory firm. John Langston of Republic Capital Group stressed that advisors should not go at this alone. His firm follows a process that not only helps advisors uncover their “why” but also prepares and guides them down the transaction road. The panel also included Teri Grubb, Senior Director at CAPTRUST, and Kay Lynn Mayhue of Merit Financial, an acquirer. Each expressed their “whys” — Merit, utilizing M&A as a growth strategy, whereas Teri’s firm was looking for efficiencies, redundancies, and career paths for her team.
Key Takeaways: Whichever side of the transaction you find yourself on, have a plan. Know your why. Do a valuation. Get a team of advisors. Follow a process. Don’t assume the outcome.
The Fragile Decade
Jeanie Underwood-Kotner led the discussion on the four pillars of happiness during retirement and how advisors can lead conversations with their clients to guide them to and through our many life phases. This can be accomplished by meeting your clients where they are through empathy and understanding, which can in turn create opportunities for deeper conversations about what they really want. Whether they’re leaving a corporate job, planning for their family’s lifestyle, or exiting or reimagining a career, having a process to guide these conversations will create an experience that your clients can’t resist.
Key Takeaways: Whether you’re serving retirees, career Gen-Xers, or educated, stay-at-home Millennial Moms, you should have tools, resources, and processes that help guide your clients through understanding how their wealth can impact the decisions they make in their lives. This can’t be done without a true understanding of your clients’ goals, so that you can bring focus to opportunities they may not have even considered.
Market and Economic Outlook
Liz Ann Sonders took the stage virtually with a summary of the labor market, recession outlook, corporate earnings, and the market. Liz Ann impressed with a detailed navigation of the questions presented by Evan Simonoff of FA Magazine.
Key Takeaways: The labor market is a key indicator of a looming recession: Not the unemployment numbers, but rather the data on hiring freezes, job postings, and layoffs. Often these data come in long before unemployment numbers do. Covid has stimulated an investment-driven economy versus a consumption-driven economy, which has caused an increase in weight for the GDP at the expense of consumption.
Are we in a bubble? Liz sees micro-bubbles in narrative-driven stuff like crypto. She put a fine point on it by quoting Warren Buffet: “When the liquidity tide goes out, you can see who’s swimming naked.” During the discussion on corporate earnings, she stressed that keeping an eye on profit margins is more important than the profit number itself. Bottom line, get in or get out is a drunk question and not an investment strategy. Disciplined investing with a long-term outlook that accounts for time horizon and risk tolerance is the way to go. While most advisors don’t evaluate a client’s emotional risk tolerance, they should. And a sale is always a time to buy when it’s appropriate to your client’s overall plan. “Add low, and trim high”.
Navigating the Evolving Media Landscape
Full disclosure – I was on this panel so there might be some bias. But we were awesome! Chris Cherry of J. Connelly, Inc. led the discussion on whether and how advisors should be pursuing media as a growth tactic. Media maven Kimberly Foss shared her personal story of her accidental call to media and how that built momentum and awareness of her expertise in investments and financial planning. We discussed the changes in digital media and how technology and digital channels allow advisors to pursue opportunities without a studio or fancy equipment. However, media is not a one-and-done. Advisors should approach media with clear desired outcomes, a strategic plan that connects media to their overall marketing plan, and an understanding of what success looks like.
Key Takeaways: Media can build brand awareness both locally and nationally. There are strategy and marketing agencies like Beyond AUM and pure media agencies like J.Connelly, Inc. that can help, but before you make that call, be sure you have a high-level understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish and be prepared for an investment in time and money for the long-term. While that may seem daunting, the results can prove invaluable for your business and open opportunities that otherwise might never have been.
The Great Resignation and Unretirement
Panelists Susan Bradley, Founder of Sudden Money Institute, and Lisa Brown, a partner at CI Brightworth Private Wealth, explored the unprecedented departure and career pivots of so many men and women. Understanding how these career changes affect your clients’ lives should not be a simple check-in on their financial plan. These events can have implications on even the best laid retirement plans. Compensation package mistakes need to be avoided and lifestyle pivots should be explored beyond finances.
Key Takeaways: Early retirement, change in careers…these transitions have emotional and financial implications on your clients. So, what should be done? Talk to your client about these types of transitions prior to the event. Dig deep to understand why they are making employment decisions. What might be triggering a change? How do they want and expect to live their lives post change? If advisors are proactive about including education and discussions on career change topics, clients will be more likely to open up and allow guidance along the way.
Confidence and Women
Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Kahne Krause and Ashley Ilardo guided a discussion on women and confidence with Katty Kay, Lead Anchor at BBC World News and best-selling author of The Confidence Code, which includes a study on women and confidence. The science behind this suggests that biological and environmental factors affect confidence and that women are less confident than men. Advisors Sarah Charles (FORVIS Private Client) and Emi Umezawa (Mercer Advisors) shared how they build confidence by being authentically themselves and using their female superpowers of empathy and compassion to help lead client relationships into life-long connections.
Key Takeaways: Women may be less naturally confident than men, but confidence can be built through internal validation and external reinforcement. As confidence is developed, action is more easily achieved. Since success comes from confidence, women should own their competencies instead of making excuses for them. Women should also lift other women up and amplify others’ success through external validation. The Confidence Code is a fascinating book that both men and women should be reading.
These were just a selection of all of the fantastic sessions that took place. This is a testament to the fact that women are not only helping to shape the future of the financial services industry, but leading the way. If you were at the conference, thank you for being a part of such a great event. And if you missed it, there’s always next year! Be sure to follow Beyond AUM on LinkedIn, where we post regularly about upcoming conferences and other events, and contact us if you have any questions!