Digital Wealth News is pleased to bring you our “Fintech Luminaries” series – featuring thought leaders within the digital wealth and blockchain ecosystems. For the next feature in this series, we’d like you to meet Conor Delaney, CEO of Good Life Companies (www.goodlifeco.com), who runs one of the largest and fastest-growing independent hybrid Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) firms in the country.
With $6 billion in total client assets, Mr. Delaney and his leadership team at their Reading, PA-based firm have a singular focus on recruiting, retaining and growing the businesses of experienced and successful independent financial advisors across the country.
Mr. Delaney and his colleagues launched Good Life Companies in 2012, as a team of three financial advisors one staff member, with a total of $100 million in client assets, and the firm has surged in growth each year since its founding.
Today, Good Life Companies encompasses an RIA with nearly 200 affiliated financial advisors as well as 250-plus insurance professionals on the firm’s Good Life Insurance Associates platform.
Central to the firm’s differentiated approach is its emphasis on supporting the professional success of its financial advisors, while helping them live a healthier life in every respect.
Digital Wealth News caught up with Conor Delaney recently to understand both broader strategy, and the crucial role technology has played in his firm’s ongoing expansion.
NAME: Conor Delaney
COMPANY: Good Life Companies
You’ve been covered by the industry media frequently this year as an advocate for the intersection of health and wealth, and the concept is clearly reflected in your firm’s name (Good Life Companies). Why?
Well, it’s because physical and financial health are inextricably connected. Financial advisors today are very different from how they were in the past. Advisors increasingly appreciate that they are being asked to do much more than just manage an investment portfolio. More and more, financial advisors are expected to manage the clients’ life and lifestyle. This means it’s impossible to ignore the correlation between health and wealth.
The personal inspiration for all this can be found in my own life story. My parents worked hard and loved my siblings and me, but they struggled financially. And financial hardship can have a clear impact on our physical health and well-being. Put simply, when money is scarce, fast food becomes the necessary default meal, because it’s the cheapest way to feed everyone.
After a lifetime of unhealthy eating and not being able to take better care of his body, my father died. He was just 52. At that point, I pledged to live healthier, never wanting my own kids to experience the pain that comes with losing a parent at an early age.
At Good Life Companies, we’re passionate about helping financial advisors grow their businesses by giving them the resources and tools they need to deliver a truly holistic advice experience to their clients.
And we’re also big believers in supporting the ability of our financial advisors to both succeed professionally while living an all-around healthier life.
In short, it’s all about how to have a good life. This is reflected in everything our firm does for its employees and affiliated financial advisors and insurance professionals.
What role does technology play in Good Life’s efforts to recruit and retain financial advisors?
Technology can either be a partner or an adversary. At Good Life, we absolutely do not believe we can beat technology, we must partner with it.
Technology can deliver value to the client and separation between us and our competitors. It also creates ways for smaller practices and firms to bridge a gap between their value proposition and those who compete with much bigger balance sheets.
We’re thinking differently about technology in 2021, launching solutions that our advisors can implement in an impactful way for their clients.
When we can launch successful advisor tools – and that includes tools for the advisors’ clients – the following happens: The client wins, the advisor creates staying power in the client’s mind, and Good Life Companies has an opportunity to continuously earn our partnerships with financial advisors in a meaningful way.
How has your firm’s use of technology changed during this pandemic? What tech-enabled tools have you used more of, or adopted recently – And what kinds of technologies have proven to be less useful this year?
Our advisors have been engaging technology to interact with their clients well before COVID but it definitely helped advance the behavioral change necessary to get greater adoption from clients.
These days, we’re looking at utilizing artificial intelligence in conjunction with new technology that is on our project board to track client spending in accordance with their financial plan, while reinforcing positive spending behaviors… all the while capturing part of their spend.
Think “rewards points” from other merchant service companies and banks – But with a focus on getting that money invested so it continues to work for them. This is just one example of what we are doing with technology to keep our advisors relevant in the changing needs and demands of the clients we serve.
Our theme has been change happens slow, and then it happens fast. I think 2021 will be the year for financial services providers to do much more than just function as a conduit to investment products like it has for over 50 years now. Financial advisors and their clients increasingly recognize that it’s all about offering a truly exceptional service and advice experience.
What words of advice about must-have technology tools would you offer to an experienced financial advisor who is thinking of switching firms right now?
You hear the industry pundits talking all the time about price compression, as if it’s somehow an unavoidable and inevitable fact of life in our industry. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Price compression happens in the absence of value. If you are bringing value to your clients, they’ll never leave you.
That’s why it’s important to think about technology that can bring you closer to your client, and in ways that aren’t easily replicated or replaceable by anybody.
If your ecosystem of technology-enabled tools brings real value to your clients’ financial lives and cannot be replicated without you, then you can build a much wider moat between your competition and your valued clients.