The tools that United Capital founder Joe Duran, now co-head of the Goldman Sachs PFM Group, and his team developed “help an advisor really understand where their client is coming from as it relates to money,” Schnoll said.
Those tools, including MoneyMind and Honest Conversations, made it easier for PFM advisors to “pivot from working” in their offices with their clients to working digitally, she noted.
Early this year, Goldman Sachs introduced Marcus Invest, a low-cost digital investing platform, that offers individual investors three different investment strategies populated by a varying mix of exchange-traded funds — core, impact and smart beta — adjusted for their risk profile, along with regular rebalancing.
A version of Marcus Invest was also in development for the 400 advisors at Goldman Sachs PFM, the company said.
Goldman also bought the fintech platform and custodian Folio Financial for an undisclosed amount last year. It was “too soon to tell” how that acquisition would help expand the reach of Goldman Sachs in the RIA market, Schnoll said.
The Significance of Life Planning
In addition to the growing importance of technology, the other major trend that Schnoll sees in the industry today is a growing shift to life planning by advisors, she said.
“I remember my grandfather talking to me in the ’90s and he said ‘I don’t know why, my stockbroker, he gave me, like, 50 stocks to own. Why do I need to own 50 stocks?’ He used to own 10 and he thought that was good,” she recalled.
That’s indicative of the shift from stockbrokers to investment advisors who provide more substantial, diversified portfolios and then the evolution to wealth managers and advisors doing “more and more financial planning, which was something that had really been the bastion of only independent financial planners” a few years ago, she said. “Now, even wirehouse firms are doing financial planning,” she noted.
What Duran and his team introduced at United Capital that “I think has been so earth-shattering is this idea of life planning,” she said. Life planning factors in what is important to not only the more financially oriented partner in a relationship but also the one who may be less financially oriented, she explained.
Duran realized that it was important to engage those less financially oriented clients by asking questions including what’s more important to them: spending more time with people they care about, making sure their child’s education is funded or living their lives without having to work, she noted. The advisor can then get into how to invest the clients’ money. It is “intended to be a relationship that lasts a lifetime,” Schnoll added.
Echoing what Duran has often stated, she said: “Every financial advisor helps you save money so you die rich. At PFM, we want you to live richly.”