Welcome to the first edition of my new blog Fiduciary Bytes. I want to start out by telling you a little about myself and what I hope to accomplish with this blog. I started my professional career after graduating from Capital University Law School way back in 1974 (Yes, I’m really that old and I enjoy cheering for other old people like Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson!). I practiced law in Ohio for a few years then joined the trust department of a regional bank where I worked exclusively on the retirement plan side of the department for about 20 years before joining Mercer Human Resource Consulting as a Defined Contribution Plan Advisor.
When I retired from Mercer, I started my own company, Fiduciary Guidance, LLC to provide fiduciary consulting services to investment fiduciaries (organizations responsible for handling other people’s money) such as retirement plans, investment advisors and non-profit organizations. At Mercer, I became familiar with Fi360, the Center for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) and earned the Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation. After I started Fiduciary Guidance, I earned the additional designation of Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst which allows me to conduct Fiduciary Assessments using the Fiduciary Global Best Practices and criteria established by Fi360. Organizations that successfully complete the Assessment are awarded Fiduciary Certification by CEFEX.
With this blog, I plan to cover all things fiduciary related. The fiduciary standard is important to clients and prospects of investment advisors, donors to nonprofits and retirement plan participants. Following Fi360’s Global Fiduciary Standard, is the way Investment Fiduciaries can distinguish themselves in the market place. This blog will be dedicated to teaching about the fiduciary standard and helping investment fiduciaries become more successful. I’ll also write about anything else I feel like writing about; it is my blog after all!
Being Unique in a Plain Vanilla World
I want to start this first issue talking a little bit about business strategy and strategic planning. From my experience, most people do a poor job of thinking and acting strategically, both in their business and their personal lives. At Mercer I conducted many vendor searches for clients and sat through multiple vendor presentations. If I closed my eyes during these presentations, I could hardly tell which vendor was speaking; they all provided the same services, at competitive prices and pretty much said the same things, even after they knew the needs and the concerns of my client. They were all competing at the same level, not providing anything unique nor distinguishing themselves from the competition. Harvard business professor Michael Porter, an expert in business strategy, calls this competing on a Zero-Sum level rather that a Positive-Sum level.
In my current work with Investment Fiduciaries, I am finding pretty much the same thing; in a crowded market place Investment Advisory Firms are all competing on the same level and non-profit organizations are doing the same thing when competing for donor dollars. Professor Porter points out that this is the worst error in strategy. The goal should be to compete to be unique.
Below you will find a link to a video of a Strategy Lecture by Professor Porter that I highly recommend. After you listen to it, give some thought to how it applies to your situation. In my next issue, we’ll take up here and discuss how you can avoid this trap as an investment fiduciary.
Thanks for checking out Fiduciary Bytes. I invite you to subscribe to this blog so you get every issue delived to your inbox. Watch for the next issue coming out in October. In the meantime, feel free to email me at email@example.com with any questions or comments