This week I had a fantastic opportunity to listen to some of the next generation’s up-and-coming business minds while I judged a DECA competition.

For four hours, hundreds of students, dressed in business garb they otherwise wouldn’t be caught dead in, filed in front of business leaders to solve problems, offer innovation, and lean in to make business better. With just ten minutes of prep time, the vast majority of the students did a great job.

And then there were the outliers.

First, there were the ones who were more uncomfortable than they’d ever been in their lives. They didn’t sit long, didn’t have a lot to say, and when they did speak, the business vocabulary didn’t sound smooth. They showed up. They’re trying something new. I’m sure they wish they could get those ten minutes back later, but I tried to offer constructive notes about how to prepare for next time.

Then, there were the ones who got it. It was truly invigorating to hear students bring their creativity and get excited about how to solve a business problem. The best one, who received the highest score from me, had a level of calm that permeated his enthusiasm. He was right to be calm because he had a mastery of the subject and fresh ideas.

As we all walk through our mini versions of this each day – coming up with innovative solutions to the problems our teams face, I hope we keep carving out some time to invest in the lives of the next generation.

Here’s what I’m covering in this week’s Connected.

The Power of User Stories in Wealth Management

Onboarding New Clients Made Easy – Lacey Shrum 🎧

Innovation Office Hours: Alternatives

Sports Illustrated’s AI Authors Exposed

Milemarker on the Road

Let’s go.

The Power of User Stories in Wealth Management

We’re officially in the thick of the holiday season.

While things change from year to year and the people we spend each particular holiday with fluctuate depending on who’s in town, one thing stays pretty constant regardless – sharing stories.

From watching beloved holiday movie classics (We’ve already streamed Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, and Elf at our house) to the memories we share around the table as we piece together the past, stories bind us.

This has made me think about the stories we write inside our businesses and how we feel about our customers.

In the agile framework, a user story represents the smallest unit of work, defining an end goal from the user’s perspective rather than detailing features. It is an informal, customer-oriented explanation of a software feature, emphasizing its value.

User stories also serve as foundational elements for larger agile structures, such as epics and initiatives, ensuring alignment with organizational goals and fostering agility in development teams.

Creating user stories helps your team stop making features you think a user wants and instead walk through a clear goal for a client to enhance their experiences and deploy effective workflows.

What are user stories?

User stories are informal, natural language descriptions of software features, requests, and faults from the end-user perspective. End-users don’t write them, but they are often sourced from their feedback. This perspective highlights overlooked or initially unthought-of aspects by your internal team.

Why use user stories?

User-Centric Focus: User stories capture requirements from a client’s perspective, promoting a deep understanding of their needs and enabling prioritization based on their value.

Communication and Collaboration: User stories foster collaboration across diverse team roles, ensuring a shared understanding of project goals and facilitating effective communication.

Flexibility and Adaptability: User stories support incremental development, allowing for the delivery of a minimum viable product and easy adaptation to changing requirements through manageable adjustments.

Here’s a start on how you write user stories:

Define “Done”: Clearly articulate what constitutes a “done” or “complete” user story, emphasizing error-free task completion from start to finish.

Outline Subtasks: Identify and prioritize subtasks or steps needed for resolution, assigning responsibility for each.

User Personas: Conduct thorough research to define user personas, recognizing the importance of understanding the diverse variables influencing user experiences.

Ordered Steps: Structure user stories as the minor units of tasks or processes, ensuring each story represents a singular step toward completion.

Listen to Feedback: Acknowledge the value of user feedback as a crucial information source, leveraging user insights to enhance and refine user stories.

Time Considerations: It’s important to balance efficient story gathering and meaningful conversations. Clarification through conversation is essential to the success of the user story development process.

If you’re interested in learning more, this guide provides a great detailed overview:

Agile User Story Example: How to Write User Stories (+ Template)

What is a user story & how do you write user stories that work? 5 Agile user story examples & sample template to write stories for dev work & project management


As we wrap up 2023 and head into 2024, let’s prioritize really understanding where our clients are in their story.

On the Pod

Onboarding New Clients Made Easy with Lacey Shrum

Episode 022: In this week’s Connected Podcast episode, Kyle sits down with with Lacey Shrum, Founder of Smart Kx.

Lacey explains how Smart Kx streamlines the client onboarding process, optimizes fee schedules, and ensures accurate billing. She also touches on the importance of providing a seamless client experience and how automation can help advisors grow organically.

A few key takeaways from this week’s ep:

Smart Kx helps financial advisors optimize client onboarding, draft fee schedules, and automate the billing process.

Customizable fee schedules are a common challenge for advisors, and Smart Kx ensures that the fees in the contract match the fees calculated in the system.

Automating the client onboarding process and reducing friction can help advisors grow organically and provide a better client experience.

The episode is available now on your favorite podcast platform as well as a video version on YouTube. While there, please don’t forget to Download, Like, and Subscribe.

You’re Invited: Navigating Alternative Investments as a Strategy for Growth

Here’s your reminder to sign up for our workshop next Wednesday, December 6th at 12pm EST: Navigating Alternative Investments as a Strategy for Growth.

Shana Sissel, Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer at Banrion Capital Management, Steve Zuschin, Chief Revenue Officer at Mammoth Technology, and I will answer your top questions about how and why advisors should consider integrating alts into their investing strategies.

Save your seat now.

November 28, 2023   |   Read Online

Sports Illustrated’s AI Authors Exposed

We’re all aware by now that you can’t trust everything you read on the internet (or at least I’d hope so).

But AI is taking skepticism to a new level.

Sports Illustrated is now under scrutiny for allegations of publishing articles credited to nonexistent authors—mere pseudonyms accompanied by generic headshots identified as available for purchase on an AI-generated website.

This is but one of so many future examples where organizations are trying to use AI to generate scale but are facing both ethical and existential questions.

As we look at implementing AI into the future of our firms, we need to formulate our internal policies and guardrails with how it is managed, how we communicate with clients when it is in use, and how we handle its inaccuracies, mistakes, and false assumptions.

Read more about the scandal here:

Sports Illustrated Published Articles by Fake, AI-Generated Writers

Sports Illustrated was publishing articles under seemingly fake bylines. We asked their owner about it — and they deleted everything.


Milemarker on the Road

While travel is slowing down with the holidays and the end of 2023, our team has one final official trip before we call it a wrap. Catch us in Dallas, Texas next Thursday, December 7.

If you’re around DFW and want to arrange a meeting time, reply to this email, and we’ll get something on the calendar.


Thanks for taking the time to read this week’s Connected! See you next week.

Written by Jud Mackrill

Edited by Amy Simpson & Kim Mackrill