Happy Friday!

I’m writing to you while on my way home from Las Vegas after a busy few days at T3.

On my flight home, I can’t stop thinking about the common denominators from my conversations over the past four days and the palpable desire that firms have for change in the year ahead.

Here are the main highlights of what I’m talking about in this week’s edition of The Connected Advisor.

The Three Factors that Determine if You Will Become an Exceptional Advisory Firm

Tech Woes that Cost You Clients

Modernizing Your Firm’s Reporting to Simplify Your Client Experience – Scott Klaassen 🎧

Milemarker on the Road

Let’s dive in.

The Three Factors that Determine if You Will Become an Exceptional Advisory Firm

Everybody has at least one.

Everybody has that album that you press play, track one, and you glide through every song in order and enjoy the complete journey.

It’s an exceptional album.

It truly stands out from the rest. It makes a lasting impact on us, and for the artists, it often transforms their lives and careers.

Foo Fighters Colour and Shape

Coldplay Parachutes

Radiohead OK Computer

This past week, I was at the T3 conference in Las Vegas.

This conference is always an exciting mix of tech vendors, consultants, and various media members interspersed with operational leaders from wealth management firms nationwide.

This event has continued to evolve over the years, and it serves as a good opportunity to get together and see the progress that’s happening and, oftentimes, to see the lack of progress that may be happening as well – often due to M&A or changes in leadership.

It was interesting to look at the progression occurring inside organizations serving advisors.

As I meet with the leaders of these firms, it is evident that they all have technology they are not happy with.

Less than half of advisors say they find value in their current tech stack
— Natalie Wolfson @orion#t32024

— Craig Iskowitz (@craigiskowitz)
Jan 23, 2024

Less than half.

And I think that’s probably an overestimate.

So, most people are dissatisfied, or at least half are dissatisfied.

And that’s just talking about technology. What are they doing for the processes? What are they doing for the rest of their business?

Are they being led from triaging dissatisfaction, or can they start leading from what truly makes them exceptional?

Fighting For Exceptionalism

I met with one of our Milemarker clients while at T3. They are very dialed in with who they serve and how they serve them, and they understand the need for technology that aligns with their vision and amplifies it.

They have done the work to understand what their current technology can do for them, and they have identified how the unique nature of their firm has to transcend their obstacles.

This mindset to fight for their exceptional firm identity is what has made them exceptional.

After all, ideas are cheap. Execution is everything.

It’s executing in a whole way built around serving our internal and external customers, forming a personality that leads you to an unrivaled exceptional state when given continued focus and iteration.

Firms like this live in rare air in a land of consolidation, compromise, and technological disillusionment.

If I can sum up all my twenty or so meetings this week in one theme, it’s this: Advisors are tired of compromising.

Utilizing technology can ultimately add a layer that unlocks the exceptional nature of their firm that already lives but needs more and more air to breathe.

So, my question to you is, what does it mean to be exceptional?

In Seth Godin’s, “The Dip” he provides this simple quote: “Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.”

Amid all our challenges, we ultimately have three choices based on Seth’s quote.

Quit. There are tons of people who call you all the time, trying to buy your business. Sell it, punch out.

Be Average. Concede to mediocrity. Become a slightly better version of the places you left on your journey to independence, but take the smooth road governed by boring people terrified by creativity.

Be Exceptional. Lean in on who you are and how you serve, and stop putting up with the shortcomings of those you pay to provide you with technology and service. Inspire and lead your team and battle to build a transcendent firm.

Being exceptional is the most difficult choice. It’s also the most rewarding.

Believe it or not, we’re not born to build businesses that command the highest multiple, sell, retire, and die slowly somewhere in Florida.

We are all unique businesses serving unique people.

Embrace the unique way you serve them. Professionalize the processes that got you here.

Stop giving your clients a technology experience that you’re embarrassed by.

Become that version of yourself that is authentic and special and delivers the value that inspires you every day.

On the Pod

Modernizing Your Firm’s Reporting to Simplify Your Client Experience with Scott Klaassen

Episode 028: In this week’s episode of Milemarker’s The Connected Advisor Podcast, we’re sharing a conversation I had with Scott Klaassen, Managing Director at Milemarker, around reporting during our last Innovation Officer Hours Workshop.

Scott and I answer advisors’ top questions about reporting. We explore the challenges of ensuring accurate, transparent reporting and the complexities involved with alternative investments and multiple custodians.

Get answers to these questions and more:

What measures can be implemented to improve the accuracy of financial transactions?

What are the implications of having multiple custodians?

How do I get the entire firm aligned on data management?

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.

Milemarker on the Road

Catch our team on the road at the following events or cities:

January 29-30 — NYC

February 8-9 — San Diego, CA

February 12-14 — Orlando, FL

February 26 – NYC

February 26-28 — Scottsdale, AZ

March 11-12 — Naples, FL

March 12-15 — San Diego, CA

If you’re in any of those cities and want to arrange a meeting time, reply to this email, and we’ll get something on the calendar.


Have a great weekend!

Written by Jud Mackrill

Edited by Amy Simpson