Technological advancement and mindset shifts point to wealth management evolution

Technological advancement and mindset shifts point to wealth management evolution

2022-11-23T14:10:49-05:00November 23rd, 2022|Jacksonville, Professional Services|

Writer: Liz Palmer

2 min read November 2022 — Consultants and advisors in wealth and investment management are evolving in response to changing economic conditions and business needs. Invest: spoke with sector leaders in Jacksonville about how their firms are adapting to technological advancement, talent pool challenges and mindset shifts to maintain relevance in the economy of the future. 



Peter Bower, President & CEO, Riverplace Capital Management

Peter Bower, president and CEO of Riverplace Capital Management, has seen a significant shift in his sector in response to technology. “We now have the ability to work remotely,” he said. “Communication is multichannel. Internal team meetings can be done externally if someone is working elsewhere. Client expectations haven’t really changed, however. Clients have financial goals that vary, but there are a lot of similarities. They are investing for retirement, nesting or education. Those things don’t change much over time.” 

While independent investing has become easier to do through robo-advisors, it doesn’t have a place at Riverplace Capital Management, he noted. “Apps are another channel for investment and service distribution. We are not going down that road. We are finding a big market for individual service, especially in times like we are seeing now. People with experience who have been through similar cycles are valued. They want to work with someone who has been there before. The robo-investment style has emerged but I think it is receding, although it appeals to some young people. Our clients are usually older and wealthier.”

Bower did remark that he sees a lot of potential in the investment sector in Jacksonville going forward. “A lot of hedge funds and other institutions have been moving down from the Northeast, including from Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, for the purpose of lower taxes,” he said. “Most of these have been going to South Florida, but Jacksonville can also play a role. It has gotten very crowded and expensive to operate in Southeast Florida. We are less expensive, have more room and are growing. South Florida will grow but is landlocked. I think growth is migrating north. We have a lot to offer culturally. We have other amenities, such as golf courses and beaches. Our industry can certainly be larger and more robust in our community.”

Kevin Driscoll, President & CEO, The Driscoll Group, Inc.

The increase in comfortability with technology due to the pandemic has proven useful for financial advisors, according to Kevin Driscoll, president and CEO of The Driscoll Group, Inc. “We’ve been doing Zoom-type meetings for about ten years, but usually it was just for clients that were out of town. With COVID, people became used to using this technology and now at least half the meetings that we used to do in person are now via Zoom. Of course, we prefer to meet in person. It is warmer and more personal, but we always go with our client’s preference,” he said. 

Economic volatility has also impacted the profession. “It is a difficult time for the industry and there are not a lot of safe havens out there for investors. The margins for running these kinds of practices have been shrinking for years and this contributes to the high barrier to entry for new advisors. Experienced planning firms in the Jacksonville area are well-positioned for growth with the influx of new people coming to our city,” he said.

Don Davey, Owner & Chief Wealth Engineer, Disciplined Equity Management

That economic volatility is one slice of wealth management today; the other key factor in its evolution has been the shift in priority toward higher quality of life. “I used to think that my only job was to deliver exceptional returns for my clients,” said Owner and Chief Wealth Engineer of Disciplined Equity Management Don Davey. “But as I’ve matured in my career, I have come to realize that helping clients decide what to do with those exceptional returns matters much more than the returns themselves. I call myself a Wealth Engineer, but I am gradually evolving into a Happiness Engineer. Every day I challenge myself to consider the question: How can I help my clients use their assets to improve the quality of their lives? We all have a finite amount of resources, so the name of the game is finding ways to maximize the utility of those resources to maximize happiness. That means different things to different people – investing in health, frequent travel, helping children, continuing education, donating to charity, starting a business, going back to school, etc. – whatever may be most important to you. My job is to customize a Lifetime Financial Plan that uses resources in a way that makes my clients’ lives as good as they can possibly be.”

For that reason, wealth management as a profession is diversifying. “Money by itself is just a number on a piece of paper. My challenge is finding real world solutions that improve the quality of my clients’ lives,” Davey said. “And to compete in the high-net-worth space, I believe financial services will need to join us in going far beyond traditional financial planning. We will always need to know taxes, estate planning, insurance and investing. But the truly superior firms will measure success as we do: by how happy and worry-free their clients’ lives are.”

Glenn Ullmann, President, Ullmann Wealth Partners

President of Ullmann Wealth Partners Glenn Ullmann sees untapped potential in wealth management going forward. “There is great talent in Jacksonville and if you enjoy helping people problem solve and grow their wealth, this is a parabolic growth industry. An enormous transfer of wealth from the World War II generation to the baby boom generation is well underway. From that generation there is going to be a further transfer to young people who are possibly unprepared. For great wealth management firms who are in the advice business, this is a great place to be. I think the next three to 20 years will be extraordinary,” he said. “And I would add this: Our country continues to be the place to create and implement new ideas and grow businesses and wealth. Millions of immigrants want to come to the United States. They are not trying to emigrate to China, they want to come here. And that also means there is not a better time to be in wealth management.”

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