Five Marketing Non-Negotiables of Winning Firms – A Conversation with Kelly Waltrich

Fintech and financial services marketing has always been Kelly Waltrich’s playground. 

From her days as a CMO at major players eMoney and Orion to her new role as co-founder and CEO of the marketing and growth engine design firm,, Kelly has not only seen the evolution of marketing in the financial services space, she’s helped to drive it. 

And what she’s seeing now, working with over 35 financial services and financial technology firms to transform the role of marketing in their organizations, is that the miseducation about marketing in our industry is slowly being corrected.

Advisors, who have long been taught that marketing could be cookie-cutter or set it and forget it in order to be scalable, are learning that personalization is the key to success.

During her conversation with Beacon Strategies’ Managing Partner Chip Kispert on a recent Beacon Flash podcast episode, Kelly laid out the five non-negotiables for advisors and firms looking to leverage marketing to grow their businesses this year:

1. The appropriate resources and budget. The highest-functioning businesses think about marketing as a revenue-generating program, and allocate resources to it accordingly. 

2. A differentiated point of view. Whether firms are interested in attracting investors or recruiting advisors to their firms, one of the most important things they can do is develop and communicate a unique point of view. People want to work with people they relate to, and unfortunately, so much of the messaging we see today is too generic to be relatable.

3. An understanding of how people want to consume content. Especially when it comes to client experience, Kelly points out, advisors need to take the time to learn how to communicate with the investors they serve. Do they prefer video to the written word? Are they looking for weekly outreach, or is once a month perfectly sufficient? 

4. The marriage of personalization and automation. And when it comes to communication, Kelly says, firms can’t rely exclusively on automation. Setting up onboarding email workflows, for example, doesn’t relieve the advisor of the task of personalizing those emails for each new client.

5. A realistic view of the competitive landscape. Finally, firms need an understanding of what’s around them. Kelly points out that almost daily, she talks with the leadership team of a firm building what they believe is the next best thing in fintech – when in fact, that next best thing already exists and has captured the majority of market share.

Kelly’s best advice for firms looking to grow in 2023 is to take a fresh look at everything out in the market that represents them, from their website to Linkedin to blog articles to advertisements. Ask: “Does this truly represent who I am, or is there an opportunity for transformation?”

To learn more, tune into the full episode here!

Charitable Giving and a Personalized Client Experience – A Conversation with Niharika Shah, TIFIN Wealth

A recent Fidelity Charitable study indicates that advisors who have added charitable giving to their suite of services have experienced 3x growth (approximately 30% more assets) than advisory practices that don’t offer charitable giving.

In a recent conversation on the Beacon Flash Podcast, Niharikah Shah, EVP, Chief Growth Officer at TIFIN Wealth told host and managing partner of Beacon Strategies, Chip Kispert, why she believes this is the case. 

Charitable giving, Shah explained, gives advisors a unique opportunity to provide clients with a more personalized experience. Helping them put together a charitable giving strategy not only creates a more comprehensive approach to financial wellness, but it also enables advisors to better understand what their clients care about the most – which in turn, deepens relationships and can lead to consolidated assets, more referrals, and greater loyalty. 

That hyper-personalized client experience is key to advisors’ success, and Shah believes technology unlocks the ability to deliver it at scale.

Innovations in data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have accelerated the way the wealth management industry facilitates stronger long-term client relationships that are based on a foundation of client delight, trust in their advisor, and recommendations based on personal preferences, timelines, and goals. 

Tune in to the full Beacon Flash Podcast episode to learn more about advances in technology utilization and find out why using technology in a meaningful way to help both advisors and clients is what inspires Shah to get out of bed in the morning.

Click here to listen!

The Data Problem is an Octopus – A Conversation with Sid Yenamandra, Surge Ventures’ CEO and Founder

Sid Yenamandra is no stranger to data complexities.

As the CEO and founder of Entreda, he’s spent more than a decade focused on helping advisors and broker-dealers navigate what he calls the ‘Wild West’ of cybersecurity and compliance. But still, he believes, the wealth management industry is only scratching the surface of its data management problem.

On a recent Beacon Flash Podcast episode, Beacon Strategies’ Managing Partner Chip Kispert sat down with Yenamandra for a conversation about cybersecurity, compliance, and data management, as well as Yenamandra’s latest entrepreneurial initiative, Surge Ventures, a new kind of venture platform built specifically to enable companies to test ideas more quickly, solve problems at an accelerated pace and ultimately get to market faster.

When it comes to data management, Yenamandra explains, organizations are amassing data at an exponential, non-linear rate. And particularly for broker-dealers, whose offices have become more dispersed than ever as a result of the pandemic, managing ownership of and responsibility for all of that data has become even more challenging.

Data organization, governance, privacy, and compliance complications are plaguing the industry, and multiple stakeholders – advisors, broker-dealers, custodians, tech vendors, CRM players – only compound the problem by making it more difficult to visualize exactly how much data any one organization has. 

“The data problem is an octopus in my opinion,” Yenamandra says. 

Solving it will require focusing on one facet at a time. One area he believes is ripe with opportunity is the permissioning of data ownership and data rights.

“How do you dole out ownership and manage the ownership of that data in an effective way, and how do you do that continuously as you’re growing data at an exponential rate?”

Every organization, he explains, is focused on more data. More data equals more insights equals better business decisions – but as more data is being amassed, they’re losing sight of how it’s being organized and governed. 

“That keeps me up at night,” he says. “But I’m also excited because I feel like it’s an opportunity.”

For more on what Yenamandra believes will be the future of data management in the wealth space, tune in to the full episode here!

Cowboy Ethics and Creating Cultures of Compliance: A Conversation with Aaron Spradlin

With SEC and FINRA regulations constantly evolving and new, more sophisticated cyber threats emerging every day, cybersecurity and compliance are becoming increasingly top of mind for financial advisory firms.

On a recent Beacon Flash Podcast episode, Beacon Strategies’ Managing Partner Chip Kispert sat down with Aaron Spradlin, Chief Information Officer at United Planners, for a conversation about what it means to create a ‘culture of compliance,’ why it’s so important, and how United Planners has done so at their firm.

First, Spradlin defined culture of compliance as organizational buy-in to the importance of compliance and improving change management, as opposed to resisting new controls or looking at compliance as the ‘business killing division.’

Spradlin brought up the idea of ‘Cowboy Ethics’ as it applies to financial services and compliance, meaning that just because regulations don’t explicitly prohibit something, doesn’t mean you should do it. We shouldn’t be trying to skirt the edges, Spradlin explained. We should always be acting in the best interests of those we serve.

To that point, Spradlin believes it’s wealth management and investment advisory firms making the most significant advancements towards building cultures of compliance, while technology vendors are slower to understand and adopt their compliance obligations. Most vendors tend to believe they’ve found a silver bullet compliance technology or that a SOC II audit covers all their cybersecurity needs.

At United Planners, Spradlin and his team have turned cybersecurity into a recruitment tool by providing innovative solutions to advisors’ problems that also align with what’s best for the firm. For example, providing a private network removes data from the open internet, which is great for cybersecurity, but it also increases network performance and speed, which improves the advisor experience. 

Over the next three years, Spradlin says, moving data infrastructures off the open internet will become the norm. Firms that don’t keep pace with cybersecurity and compliance trends by requiring authentication, offering IP restriction, managing known devices and segmenting data will no longer be in business. 

For more on Spradlin’s predictions for the future of compliance and cybersecurity, tune into the full Beacon Flash Podcast episode by clicking here!

Check out our 2023 Roundtable Schedule

Are the Regulators asking for more and more information about your vendors and how you are managing that risk?  As the industry outsources systems to the cloud, regulators are demanding a robust annual review of your mission critical vendors that host your client’s personal and private information. 

At Beacon, we have developed a Vendor Management Toolkit to help address these and other issues. Automated questionnaires and scoring of submissions couple with a repository to house the responses can assist in your next audit or exam. Click here to learn more.