Leadership Perspectives | 12.28.21
12 Top Successes and Takeaways From 2021
While many are planning their holiday celebrations and preparing for extended family to visit and celebrate, there are many that are incredibly stressed about COVID and are unable to regain their lifestyle, which seemed so normal just 18 months ago. Ask your friends and associates if they or someone they know may be alone and you may be able to help spread some cheer this Christmas. I was able to find a local children’s charity that has been overwhelmed with issues surrounding depression. Yes, I’ll be playing Santa and reliving my youth! In our own individual way, we can all have a meaningful impact to our communities during this special time of the year.
As we enter 2022, let’s take a look at all the accomplishments and positive impacts this community achieved this past year.
1. Business and Market Success – As I think of the 12 days of Christmas and reflect on the past year, the one item that should be on all of our lists is a sigh of relief and thanks for such a tremendous year. We have had a year of incredible success in our businesses and in the markets. Regardless of asset class, everything is positive for 2021. Double digit returns in the major indexes, record prices in real estate, stocks, bonds, commodities (unfortunately), private equity, hedge funds, etc. So, if you aren’t having fun and enjoying the actual business of advising clients now, it is likely you may be scrooge or in the wrong business! That’s number one on my list.
2. Membership in BISA – We continue to build our value proposition and work toward being the go-to industry association, creating value for members and providing information, insight and timely research that can help all of us lead exceptional bank brokerage and wealth programs. This is a community to be proud of.
3. 2021 Regulatory and Compliance Summit – Our first hybrid event held this year at the BISA offices in D.C. proved to be of incredible value. Our speakers were highly engaged and provided real-time information relating to our industry and the future regulatory focus and concerns. A special thank you to the government officials that were at the Fireside Chat.
4. July 2021 Board Meeting/Leadership Advisory Board Meeting in DC – This was our first time coming together in person since the 2020 BISA Annual Convention (March 3-6, 2020), and it reinvigorated discussions on the future of the industry and BISA – and how each of us can make a meaningful impact. You can see photos of this event on page 18 of Portfolio Magazine.
5. Shift From the D&I Committee to the DEI Committee – We continue to highlight the need to embrace diversity in its many forms, including thought, race, gender and religion. We had Martin Powell, a fellow Philadelphia Man, highlighted in Portfolio discussing this topic. We continue to elevate this topic at all levels, and Black Voices Unmuted is the latest example of our goal to listen to our members and lead the way for change within this organization. You will continue to see more diverse voices in future BISA content. You can also find the DEI Committee’s updated mission statement and goals on the BISA website.
6. New Website Launch – Many of you have likely seen BISA’s new online graphics, as well as utilized the enhanced search capabilities and online membership platform! The site has a great feel, and we will continue to upgrade, add more industry information and work to make this a bookmark favorite for industry professionals.
7. Aite Research Project – We have all been in meetings where we are asked to provide actual data to show the value of a wealth business in a bank – or the need to compare your bank to your peer group. This project gave insight and actual data that can be shared with bank partners to demonstrate the value of a bank brokerage business and how you are doing compared to the industry. Aite is a well-known and established company that conducted the survey and research. If you haven’t reviewed this, put this on your Xmas list as it is free to members! Here’s a sneak peek of some of the insights shared, and you can read more on pages 28-30 in Portfolio Magazine.
8. Year of Podcasts – Technology and digital solutions are everywhere. I have personally found several new podcasts I follow and, while traveling, spend my time trying to broaden my horizon. We reestablished the BISA Portfolio Podcast in 2021 and continued with the monthly BISA Industry TrendWatch podcast to raise the voice of members on timely issues and updates. There are regular podcasts featuring industry personnel in all areas discussing the wealth management business. Every topic imaginable is covered, and there is great insight and dialogue. Just another item for that Santa list!
9. Sponsorship Support – Our Platinum Members have been tremendous in their continued support of BISA, and we can’t say thank you enough for their willingness to help provide solutions in every area imaginable. They have provided thought leadership, product ideas and client solutions, training opportunities, and engagement during some very difficult times the past 24 months. I personally appreciate their dedication to BISA and our members, and the willingness to help make our industry stronger and more client focused.
10. 2022 BISA Annual Convention – Coming back together – is there anything better than looking forward to Florida in February to see old friends and not be in front of a computer? Our goal is to navigate the future together at our NEW location, the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. I can assure you that you do not want to miss the 2022 BISA Annual Convention! We have five keynote speakers, and one is a rock legend! I am truly excited about what we have planned and the many partners we have participating. A special thanks to our Platinum Members who are always there supporting the members and our respective programs. It will also be a great time to recognize and welcome our 2022 Rising Stars. Register by January 18 to save.
11. Ingenuity and Creativity – The past year has provided many challenges, but also many solutions. In each problem we have encountered, our society has been creative. One example are the restaurants in NYC that now have taken over the sidewalks and streets in front of their locations. The idea was outdoor dining to stay open during the worst of COVID. This will likely never change back and has provided the owners with much more capacity. There is also less parking so more people are using mass transit – who thought this could lead to a green solution? There is definitely a feeling of being in Europe on a nice warm, sunny day if you are walking around NYC. Walking through many neighborhoods creates a vibrant feeling of community and a real buzz of energy and excitement. I never thought I could find so many Italian restaurants that are so amazing! You will be surprised if you haven’t been to NYC the past 24 months. There is creativity in the buildings, with several new restaurants actually building igloos for the winter as you eat outside in the 20 degree weather. There is ingenuity and creativity in all industries due to the COVID pandemic. My mom used to say when God closes a door, He opens a window. Looks like lots of windows have been opened!
12. Flexibility Through Technology and Schedule – At Citi, we have implemented DocuSign in multiple areas that has made signing contracts and conducting business easy for both the clients and our Advisors. In addition to the ease, it has dramatically improved the time in issuing contracts to clients and having accurate and complete information from the client. Our industry is now embracing a more flexible working schedule which will certainly help working parents – especially moms that are doing double duty. This can only help our diversity efforts in attracting more women to our industry that have family responsibilities and have been forced to choose in the past. I doubt many executives would have chosen this option prior to COVID. We have all learned that much work can be done timely, and efficiently, from home. I have definitely been one who has changed his mind completely. This hybrid model is likely here to stay as more companies are listening to what their associates want and need in a changing and competitive work environment. We have been working hybrid at Citi, and given vaccine mandates and the new variant, it is likely to continue.
As we head into 2022 there will continue to be more mergers, the need for scale as digital solutions will get faster, cheaper and better. More clients will be looking for solutions to plan for retirement, fund a child’s education or create a legacy for future generations. In all of these scenarios, the need for practical advice that helps people meet these goals and live out their dreams is not optional. Providing guidance, insight and perspective for life is something that cannot be taken for granted, and no app on a phone will help solve. It’s the Trusted Advisor for life that cannot be replaced by machines or apps on your phone. These are tools that make our jobs easier and better but will not replace the ability to hold someone’s hand when they have a death in the family or sit next to an elderly spouse who is making decisions around long-term care, a hug at the funeral of a client’s spouse who now has to make tough decisions that were made easier due to a trust and will put together at your insistence. Or how about being at the graduation of your clients eldest daughter who is debt free due to proper planning 20 years prior and the many times that you, the Advisor helped a client just “ stay the course.” That seems so easy but, in reality, is so difficult.
This may be a highly regulated industry, but with the right tools – and most importantly the right people – we will continue to thrive and help society meet their financial goals and dreams through prudent and actionable planning combined with a focus toward building lifetime client relationships – much like the relationships we have had with each other these past 20 years that I have been associated with BISA. To all of you that I have worked with and become friends, thank you for allowing me to be your President the past two years.
I am very proud of our industry and how we have met the challenges the past 24 months. There were some incredibly sleepless nights as we all worked on PPP. Some really stressful mornings with markets in free fall. Friends and family sick and some who are no longer with us because of a terrible virus. To everyone, I say take a test, once its negative – hug everyone you can and let them know they are appreciated and that you value their friendship and relationship. Then, like the three words on every bottle of “Head and Shoulders” – Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat. Find lots of people to hug and let them know how much you appreciate their friendship!
I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, and here’s to a very BULLISH and Happy New Year!