Archive for May, 2012


Move Over Entrepreneurs, Here Come The Intrapreneurs – Forbes

May 31, 2012

A section of DNA; the sequence of the plate-li...

An intrapreneur is someone who has an entrepreneurial streak in his or her DNA, but chooses to align his or her talents with a large organization in place of creating his or her own. To the classic entrepreneur this may be puzzling, but to what I think is a growing class of 21st Century “employees,” it may sound like the best of both worlds. I didn’t come up with the word “intrapreneur,” but several years ago when I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman at a train station and I described what I did for a living, he said something I’ll never forget: “Oh, you’re an intrapreneur–so was I.”

I prefer to call myself an “embedded entrepreneur”, but whatever…

You certainly don’t have to work at a start-up to be innovative and entrepreneurial!

Read the entire article:

Move Over Entrepreneurs, Here Come The Intrapreneurs – Forbes.


May 29, 2012

Great thoughts on Strengths-Based Leadership. Click on “Read more” to see the entire post.

Live & Learn

If your manager:

  1. ignores you — your chances of being actively disengaged are 40%
  2. focuses on your weaknesses — your chances of being actively disengaged are 22%
  3. focuses on your strengths — your chances of being actively disengaged are only 1%.

Post Source: Steve Roesler, All Things Workplace: “Strengths, Weaknesses, and Engagement” cites Gallup Management Findings

Image Source: Brad Nash

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May 28, 2012

I cannot possibly say it any better… Thank you Dale for your words and for your service to our country.

Command Performance Leadership

Throughout our Nation’s history, ordinary men and women have left the safe bounds of their normal lives to set out to do extraordinary deeds.  These sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers departed their families and the comforts of home to join something greater than themselves, in a noble tradition of patriotism and pride for the purpose of fighting to protect our way of life.

While most are being handed a burger or hot dog off the grill to enjoy on this solemn holiday, somewhere there is a family being handed a folded American flag being told, “On behalf of a grateful nation…”  While many in this Country are celebrating the homecoming of their college friends and family after a long year of study, there will be no homecoming for some who have fought and died in our Country’s battles.  They sacrificed their own homecoming so that others…

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Two Surefire Ways to Irritate Your Customers

May 24, 2012

This is my shortest post ever. I have sat in numerous financial services conference sessions over the past several days as I try to contemplate all of the ways that the megatrends of  social, mobile, analytics and cloud might impact the future of the client-advisor relationship. One of the biggest things for me is to figure out is how strongly Generation Y‘s current preference for self-service will prevail as they face new life stages and increasing financial complexity in the future.

There are lots of conflicting research, opinions and predictions, and I struggle to assimilate all of the data, but I think I can safely say that either of these two methods will irritate the wealth management clients of the future as much as they do today:

  1. Force your clients into self-service options when they want someone to help them.
  2. Force your clients into getting someone to help them when they want to do it themselves.

You’re welcome. My consulting bill is in the mail.


Social and Channels and Brands, Oh My!

May 23, 2012

Hopefully readers can forgive me if I sometimes seem a little disjointed in my writings.

I attend wealth management conferences and find myself the only person talking about digital marketing, social media and engaging clients across multiple delivery channels. Then I attend social media and financial technology events and find myself the only person talking about wealth management, at least in terms of the kind that involves financial advisors actually helping clients.

Then I read, as I have referenced before, Ron Shevlin‘s BS-busting work on his blog Snarketing 2.0 and he skewers the very notion that some of this stuff even matters:

And so what if banks do create a “consistent brand experience across all channels”? Do you think bank customers will be lulled into forgetting the other issues and problems with their <sic> that they face?

He is right, of course. But I’ll come back to that.

Last week I sat in a room in New York full of bright wealth management executives to discuss important ways that firms can improve client service and grow their businesses. Booz & Company showed research that wealth management was one of the bright spots (along with payments) for growth in a sluggish financial industry. Their research showed an expected growth in the wealth management business of 3x GNP growth. That sounds pretty good until you realize that GNP growth has averaged about 1.5% over the past ten quarters.

Voice of the client largely missing

There were lots of good discussions on lots of relevant topics, but what struck me the most was how internally focused our industry has become. Maybe we have always been this way. Aside from my friends at the VIP Forum and WISE Gateway, most of the discussion was about the firms, their people, the investment strategies and the sales and marketing, rather than the clients themselves.

I can’t count the number of surveys and studies that show the increasing expectations of integrated mobile and web offerings, and the affluent have higher adoption rates than the general population. Yet someone in the room actually said out loud that they haven’t done anything with mobile technology because their clients haven’t been asking for it.

Henry Ford famously said (or perhaps never said, according to Patrick Vlaskovits in the Harvard Business Review) “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Whether he said it or not, the apocryphal quote highlights both sides of the same coin for me.

Listen to your clients. But also use your own intuition to design something to solve their problems in a better, faster or cleaner way. That is the essence of innovation, and what is too often lacking in financial services. (See Five Things Banks Can Learn from Start-Ups.)

Don’t repaint when you need to fix a cracked foundation

Which brings me back to Ron Shevlin’s comments. In my mind, it’s not that financial firms shouldn’t strive to “create a consistent brand experience across all channels” (or engage in social media, or build their brand), it’s that too many firms are focused on the window dressing instead of addressing  the core issues that consumers want us to address. Shevlin’s closing comments are spot on:

If, however, the focus was on “fixing problems” or “redesigning” processes and interactions, then maybe funds would flow to the places where they’re really needed.

But you’re not going to effectively prioritize those investment alternatives by asking consumers about their channel preferences.

I am now in Boston and off to another conference, surely filled with bright people. Let’s see who’s really focused on the clients…

More here next week.


Finovate Spring 2012 Recap

May 14, 2012

Sorry to take a little while to get this posted, but I had an important Mothers Day post to write.

Last week I attended the fifth annual Finovate financial technology conference in San Francisco. This year’s event was the largest yet, with nearly 1200 entrepreneurs, bankers, investors, analysts and FinTech fans experiencing 63 product demos in 2 days. A few trends I noted:

SoMoLo+Big Data= Deals

As usual, there were lots of innovative companies in the payments space, displaying all kinds of creative ways to move dollars and data from wherever they are to wherever you want them to be. The SoMoLo (social, mobile, local) trend is very evident here, and increasingly being mashed up with Big Data to create specialized Deals– merchant funded rewards, targeted offers, digital coupons, customer loyalty programs, geo-rewards, geo-offers, card-linked offers, offer wallets, etc.

Perhaps one of the most customizable is Giftly, which allows you to gift just about anything from anywhere to anyone– your gift becomes a credit on the recipient’s credit card for a place and amount of your choosing. For instance, you can respond to a friend’s check-in at the local pub with a round on you from across the globe. Pretty cool.

Another very customizable card product is the GlobalVCard, which allows you to issue single or limited use MasterCard numbers for ultra-secure payments. Users can even positively or negatively restrict the types of merchant codes allowed (airlines, restaurants, etc.) and/or limited dollar amounts. Simple and effective user interfaces for iPhone and iPad too. Right now it is only available for CSI MasterCard Corporate Card customers.

Crowdsourcing and White Labeling

There were quite a few white label apps, and as my friend and discerning technologist Bradley Leimer noted on his Twitter feed, it underscores the need for a better user experience in online and mobile banking. Some will leverage their handsome design to help asset hungry banks source new loans, with new social criteria mixed into the underwriting, including OnDeck Capital and Best Of Show winner SoMoLend.

The Gamification of Personal Finance

I have written about my tendency to overuse sports analogies before, but Portfolio Football takes it to a whole new level as personal finance and portfolio management principals are gamified, fantasy football style.

Wall Street Survivor takes a more straight-forward approach, and focuses more on stock trading.

PFM and more for the “Overbanked”

There were lots of great solutions to help empower the “underbanked” (even though analyst and Snarketing 2.0 blogger Ron Shevlin says it’s time to retire that term. As readers of this site know, for better or worse, I have spent most of my career working with the other end of the spectrum. I guess I should call them the “overbanked”.

I am usually somewhat rare at events like this, but I actually heard the term “wealth management” uttered from the stage, not once, but twice. Three of the seven Best Of Show winners involved some form of more sophisticated Personal Financial Management (PFM) tools, including impressive offerings from Personal CapitalMoneyDesktop and iQuantifi.

Also relevant for innovative wealth managers were investor insights from DCisions, a social, communications and collaboration platform manager from Actiance, and a very nice client engagement and management platform “designed by financial advisors for financial advisors” by inStream.

If this trend continues, I won’t be as lonely at future events. That will be good for the wealth management business. I’ve often said that our industry too often makes clients choose between great technology or great people. (Actually, Ron Shevlin would probably approve of the much snarkier way I describe it in person, but I won’t write it here.)

We need to deliver both to be truly excellent.


My Mom has a PhD in Common Sense

May 11, 2012

“I need a new Skype headset, do you know if they take PayPal?”

That was a text I received from my then 72-year old Mom a couple of years ago.

From her iPhone 3G.

Before she upgraded to the 4S.

She also had a Twitter handle and a Kindle before I did.

The ‘Figure it out’ Gene

It’s not that she’s necessarily tech savvy. I sent her my old wireless router so she could have finally have WiFi at home after she bought an iPad. She had no idea how to insert it between her cable modem and her Dell desktop, so she placed a call into her personal help desk (me), while I was walking through O’Hare airport. After a confusing round robin of misunderstood explanations on both ends, I finally said (lovingly, of course) “You will have a time to speak, but this is not that time” and then I dictated a diagram for her to sketch out for herself. It was kind of like trying to play Draw Something through Siri.

But she is naturally curious. She once described herself as having the ‘figure it out’ gene, and I quickly realized that was a trait present in most of my favorite people. Neither of us is very patient with helpless types.

“At work they ask me how I know how to fix copy machines” she once told me. “I just open the cover and look for things that look like they’re broken or disconnected. How hard is that?”

Sadly, it’s apparently too hard for too many.

A PhD in Common Sense

Mom doesn’t have a ton of formal education, but she is a voracious reader of nearly anything  that she can get her hands on (on paper or in pixels), and I always say she has a PhD in Common Sense. She grew up working with my small business-owner grandfather, and I’ve heard her give advice on marketing and management to the successful entrepreneur who has entrusted her for the past 30+ years.

And believe me, you don’t want to come up against her on Words with Friends. She hold about a .700 record against me, mainly due to her maddening penchant for tucking multiple words into random gaps (usually with Triple Word Scores) and leaving me nothing to work with.

It’s not that she doesn’t appreciate formal education. She grew up in a different era in a blue collar family that worked early and often, but she made sure that I was the first person in the family to go to college. “When you go to college…” I always remember saying to me when I was young. Never “If“.

She instilled in me my love of reading, learning and traveling, and she encouraged me to explore, take risks and be an early adopter. I wouldn’t be who I am without her.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom.


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