Welcome to Difference Makers, a webinar series spotlighting people and organizations driving a culture of innovation across the country.
In this webinar, Aviture’s own Steve Miller, Director of Government Solutions, chats with Andrew Rogers, Director of Product Strategy at Carson, about how Carson provides holistic financial planning, disciplined investment strategies, and proactive personal service through prioritizing innovative and client-focused technology.
Catch some of the highlights from our conversation with Andrew, or watch the full webinar, below.
On the History of the Carson Partnership
Andrew Rogers, Carson:
Ron Carson, our founder and CEO, started Carson as a student at the University of Nebraska Lincoln in 1983. He started as your typical financial advisor: meeting and working with clients to help them meet their financial goals. If you fast forward to 1993, he was actually at a conference and met a handful of advisors and they said, "Great, you built the successful business. Have you ever thought about coaching or giving some advice to people who are looking to build businesses like the one that you've built yourself?" In true entrepreneurial fashion, Ron turns around and says to them, "Actually, we have our inaugural coaching program going on in Omaha later this year. You should come out!" And so was born at the time, Peak Advisor Alliance, now called Carson Coaching as our coaching business, which coaches a little over 2,000 financial advisors across the country.
Fast forward again to about late 2011, early 2012, and this idea of the Carson Partnership was born. It came out of those coaching members that started coming to us and saying, "It's great for you to coach us on best practices, to tell us about how to do all these things. It would be even better if maybe you just did a lot of that for us."
Advisors are really good at some core things. They're usually really good at relationship management, spending time with their clients. They might be really good at prospecting, finding new clients, helping people meet their financial goals. But what Carson Partners and really what the innovation behind Carson Partners is is that advisors are the epitome of the American small business. They're mostly four to seven person shops that have a few people working for them. They manage maybe 150 to 300 families' wealth, but all of a sudden, they become the Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, and the Chief Operations Officer! They start wearing all of these different hats in their roles, and most advisors just want to give good financial advice to their clients. They don't want to do all of those other things. So the beauty behind the partnership is it allows advisors to give up some of those things that maybe they don't love doing and allows us to really focus on those core competencies and be really good at those things. That allows advisors to just spend time with their clients and better serve the families that they serve every single day.
On the partnership side, we do operations, compliance, marketing, technology, investments — all of those back-office type things for financial advisors to help them grow their businesses and ultimately meet their goals.
On Becoming Technology-Focused
Andrew Rogers, Carson:
Then you get to really where we were about four or five years ago, which is the integration point, where wouldn't it be great if all these different pieces of technology came together? Every technology provider will tell you they're integratable. Every single one! I've yet to meet one that tells you, "Nope, we don't integrate with that." Everyone loves to tell you that, but what they don't tell you is the time, effort, energy, money, resources, manpower, etc. that goes into that integration. And you end up building this incredibly brittle system.
About four or five years ago, Quinn and Ben and others that were a part of our team, when something broke, it fell to one of the three of us to fix it. It was a Saturday at two o'clock, I got a client coming in Monday morning. "What are you doing? We got to get this fixed because it's not working." That's where that brittleness of trying to solve an operational or a business need appears. So, back then, we would just go grab a piece of technology and try to duct tape them together and make them work.
We then made a decision to really become focused on innovating technology, and decided to say, "We're going to have a department and we're going to have teams. We're going to have development teams that work with Aviture and other development shops across the country to build technology. We're going to wake up every single day, and that's what our focus is."
I say this to advisors, "I don't get up and think about how am I going to allocate a client's portfolio this week?" My job is to wake up and say, "What new technology is out there that we should be looking at? What are the things that we're trying to integrate and innovate on together? What's the client/advisor experience look like?" That's our focus every single day. And that allows advisors to focus on the things that are most important to them.
On the Idea of Innovation and How It Applies to the Carson Coaching Program
Andrew Rogers, Carson:
I think we often jump straight to technology and think technology is the way that we're going to innovate. I challenge us internally all the time to come back to, "What's the problem statement? What are we trying to solve?" If we can define what we're trying to solve, innovation could come in the form of a new process, it could come in the form of a new business, it could come in the form of new technology. Innovation doesn't necessarily have to be the next Apple or the next Google or the next Tesla or anything like that.
Our coaching business, I think, is just that. It's identifying the pain of the advisors at the time. Most advisors are small business owners — they are dealing with the challenges of being a small business owner. They have a coach that helps to focus them on "What's the next best thing I can be doing because I could do anything, I could do all of these things. But if I try to do all of them, I'm not going to do any of them very well." I think that's the beauty of coaching — coming alongside somebody and focusing on "What is the thing that you're trying to get better at right now and how can we drive you to that next step?"
Thank you, Andrew!
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