Monthly Archives: September 2016

Category: Client Forum, Conferences and Events, Industry Trends

Building & Sustaining an Effective Talent Pipeline: Hear how Clients are Tackling this Challenge #BFCF16


We can all agree that the quality and availability of talent is crucial to an organization’s success. Without the right mix of people, a firm may miss an opportunity, be forced to postpone a product launch, or lose its edge in the market.

The stakes for acquiring, engaging, and developing talent are higher than ever. This is not a revelation. But how firms are approaching this challenge and the strategies they’re employing can provide valuable insight, which is why it was a featured topic at the Boston Financial Client Forum.

Workforce trends and talent strategies took center stage during “Insights & Experiences from the Client Community,” a new segment introduced at the Forum this year. As part of the Client Forum team, I worked with the panel of industry leaders, helping develop the content for their discussion. Over the course of our planning, I gained a better sense and appreciation for the dynamics and challenges facing the industry, and the unique ways our clients are approaching them.

If you weren’t able to make it to the Forum and hear the engaging discussion that ensued, here are my top takeaways:


Expectations from new hires and expectations for new hires have changed. For instance, today’s new hires go beyond the traditional checklist of corporate benefits when considering a job. They want to make sure they’re working in an organization where there is a good fit between their core values and the organization’s values.

Likewise, organizations realize they can’t control their reputation, but they still possess tremendous power to cultivate and promote their culture. As one panelist noted, culture is first and foremost — “we always lead with culture in everything we do.”

CareerExpectations around career advancement have also changed, most notably among younger workers. They often expect to advance quickly and often; however, the importance of a strong foundation cannot be overlooked the panel noted. It’s also not enough for managers to outline job roles and expectations, including tenure. Managers need to check-in frequently to confirm alignment on both ends.


When it comes to sourcing and retaining talent, creativity is key. Peer learning across firms, a strong internal feeder system, pitch contests, networking night outs, partnerships with local colleges, four-day work weeks are some of the inventive ways asset managers are sourcing, developing, and Business People and Jigsaw Puzzle Piecesretaining talent.

On the service side, Boston Financial has had success in its sourcing and retaining initiatives by adopting a blended approach: a mix of age, backgrounds, and demographics.

Whether from the asset management or service side, the panelists cited the valuable role anchor associates (long-term employees) play in their organizations in helping retain institutional knowledge and managing turnover.


Succession Planning

Whether due to retirement, attrition, or another dynamic, people leave organizations. So it wasn’t surprising that the panelists stressed the importance of being proactive around succession planning. What was interesting was hearing how the process has become more formalized, transparent, and strategic within their companies.

Action plan

Trish Crockan, moderator for the panel and chief operations officer at Boston Financial, provided insight into Boston Financial’s succession planning, which includes a 3-step successor process. The process, which the firm undergoes routinely, identifies people in three distinct areas: 1) who is the emergency successor; 2) who is the immediate successor; and, 3) who can Boston Financial develop for the future and what are we doing to get them ready.

Another panelist highlighted how their succession planning at their firm goes beyond BCP/DR needs and plays a vital role in their talent management. Their program looks at how individuals line up by asking probing questions, such as: how is the person positioned to step into the role? What do they need exposure to? What skills are they lacking?

Across all industries today, companies are facing a limited supply of people — whether within their firm or the job market. The good news, firms are becoming more proactive and innovative in their talent strategies. And when done well, effective talent management can create a steady pipeline for skilled workers and tomorrow’s leaders, increase organizational agility, and ultimately provide lasting benefits to an organization. Our client panel was a case in point.

Category: Client Forum, Conferences and Events

That’s a Wrap! Takeaways from #BFCF16


It was another memorable experience at the Client Forum. Thank you to all our attendees. You make the event what it is. Over the course of two days, we participated in amazing sessions, engaged in meaningful conversations, and managed to have some fun too (it’s impossible not to have fun in Nashville). cf-post-collage1

We introduced a new client segment, “Insights & Experiences from the Client Community,” welcomed new speakers like Nancy Rapoport and José Reyes, as well as familiar faces like Greg Valliere. Our evening events didn’t disappoint either.

What are your favorite highlights? Here are a few takeaways from some of my colleagues at Boston Financial:

Fran Corcoran: Expectations for new hires have changed, and expectations from new hires have also changed. While career path and opportunity have always had a place, employers are looking for different skill sets and applicants are asking about timeframe for advancement, volunteer opportunities, and community involvement as primary considerations. –Talent Matters: Building & Sustaining a Talent Pipeline (client panel).

Nick Darsch: I continue to think about the unique intersection of developing solutions for current day issues / process headaches while pushing forward technologies that may not have a current day utility —timing, design, and organizational agility ultimately determine when they meet. It will be exciting to see how the blockchain technology example will play out.

Madeline FitzGerald: I was struck by José Reyes’ information around design — the importance of it in our financial services industry. The concept, “Useful…Useable…Enjoyable,” really is transferrable and relatable to every industry. — Design at the Dinner Table; Speaker: José Reyes, Executive Creative Director, PwC Experience Center.

Anne Hebard: My key takeaway from the Forum is a better understanding and appreciation of DST’s evolving technology infrastructure under Maria Mann’s leadership to meet regulatory and cybersecurity requirements.

Sharon James: The desire for data continues to grow. If you are collecting data, make sure you know what you have and you know what you’re doing with it –Managing Oversight: Staying Ahead of the Curve (client panel).

Steve LaRonde: Each year, attendees of the Boston Financial Client Forum can generally expect to hear presentations on upcoming regulatory and technology changes. The 2016 Forum was no different in that regard. What was different in 2016 was the potential impact of these changes on our industry. Whether the topic was the DOL Fiduciary Rule or blockchain (or even Starbucks as a “Banker”), topics at this year’s Forum provided insight on the potential transformational changes coming to our industry.

Lisa Light: “What’s interesting about cyber is that it’s going to make us better. It gets us to look holistically. By extension, we solve other issues and identify new opportunities.” ─ quote from Maria Mann, CIO at DST, during Under Pressure: Inside the Mind of a CIO session.

Dave Madden: It was good to witness how our clients have become a community of engaged participants. Each year our clients get more actively involved in the Forum by participating in panel discussions and connecting with their peers, which is an indication of how important this event has become. The Forum sessions create an atmosphere of collaboration that is a value not just to the seasoned attendee, but also to anyone joining for the first time.

Jessica Perkins: You have to build strong relationships, know the motivators, and get to know people on a personal level to create strong oversight and mitigate risk. –Managing Oversight: Staying Ahead of the Curve (client panel).

For more takeaways from the Forum, check out our recap from Day 1. Thanks to everyone who followed #BFCF16 on Twitter and was part of the conversation! Missed what people were sharing on Twitter? We have you covered. Check out our collection of #BFCF16 tweets.

bfcf-tweetsThe Forum may be over, but we’re still talking about it. If you have a takeaway from the Forum you’d like to share, post a comment below or tweet it. Thanks for another great Forum! #BFCF16

Category: Client Forum, Conferences and Events

2016 Client Forum – Day 1 Recap


Boston Financial’s annual Client Forum, a learning and networking event exclusively for our clients, opened Thursday, September 15 at the Omni Nashville Hotel in the heart of the Music City.2016client-forum-post-1The 120 people in attendance started their full day of information sharing and insight gathering with a presentation by UNLV’s Nancy Rapoport speaking on “Why Ethics and Culture Matter in Today’s Regulatory Environment.” With the title of her discussion as a backdrop, Rapoport led with the question “What would you change about your work if you could change something?”


This question has been percolating for her as a result of her work as a fee examiner, where, over and over again, she has observed the negative consequences of good people doing bad things. This, Rapoport suggested, is largely the result of (a) performance incentives that operate in opposition to an organization’s stated culture, and (b) human cognitive errors. Using the 2001 collapse of Enron as an example, Rapoport went on to say that when an asset management firm, or any business, experiences an ethical lapse, the first step is to examine the culture and incentives that created the questionable ethical behaviors. Like a good professor, Rapoport wrapped up her presentation by offering participants additional resources for analyzing where behavior and culture are out of alignment in your business, and developing strategies for nudging better behavior at work.

Next up were DST’s President of Fund, Advisor, and Investor Solutions, Scott Chelton and Chief Information Officer (CIO) Maria Mann, who offered participants a look inside the mind of a CIO by exploring questions like:

  • Why Mann left her position as Chief Technology Officer at JP Morgan to join DST (she’s excited about the opportunity to drive strategic, technological change)
  • The most pressing issues facing her in her new role (audit and compliance, building structures to improve alignment between business unit goals and the technology roadmap, escalating demands of vendor oversight, and the twin challenges of cybersecurity and data management)


Chelton and Mann were followed by political strategist Greg Valliere in which he examined the potential impact of the 2016 race for the White House on the financial services industry. His non-partisan presentation explored the strengths and faults of each of the major candidates for the role of President of the United States in relation to Fed policy, tax reform, global trade, and the markets. He also invited participants to consider the important national issues that haven’t yet been discussed in election 2016.


Valliere suggested the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will become clear after the first presidential debate scheduled for Monday, September 26. And if you can’t wait until then, he offered his favorite website for keeping his finger on the pulse of the race,

The afternoon turned to more practical issues, with discussions on digital innovation and a panel presentation on the DOL Fiduciary Rule.

Phil Goffin of International Financial Data Services (IFDS) kicked off the afternoon with a thoughtful presentation about the relationship between technological advancement and the financial services industry.

Goffin opened his presentation with a quote from Anne Richards, Chief Executive Officer of M&G Investments, “A successful company 10 years from now will be the one who has been the quickest to radically change the operational base it runs under.” But what will this look like?

Jose Reyes, Executive Creative Director of PwC’s Experience Center, suggested that one strategy for long term success is great design, which is about more than the colors and layout of your website. We learned that design-driven companies outperform Standard & Poors 500 Index by 228% over the last 10 years. Reyes told the story of Starbucks, whose 12 million mobile customers have deposited $1.2 billion in their mobile wallets; the result is tremendous profits for the coffee company, as well as a 12 million person focus group to help them understand what products and services to offer in the future.

Our technology presentations wrapped up with a rapid fire presentation by Paul Ives and Nicholas Doyle of DST, talking about the innovative capabilities being developed by the technology company that drives our back office solutions.

General Counsel for DST Brokerage and DST Market Solutions, Kevin Armstrong, had the unenviable position of closing the day with a panel discussion on the DOL Fiduciary Rule. While not intended as legal advice, the assembled group of regulatory and legal experts focused on strategies and considerations to help position your firm for compliance by 2017.


We ended the day coming out of the DOLdrums, fully energized, and ready for a little rest and relaxation. Day 2 of the Client Forum will explore the operational side of back office solutions – talent development, managing compliance challenges, and staying ahead of the oversight curve. Follow us on Twitter, @BFClients, to watch the morning unfold in real time.


Category: Financial Intermediary Administration, Industry Trends

Financial Intermediary Oversight: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities


financial-intermediaryadministration-survey-image_blogIn recent years, our industry has faced two constants – volatile markets and active regulators. While the equity markets are now up year-to-date, it has been a bumpy ride along the way. On the fixed income side, US Treasury yields are lower than a year ago and money market fund yields continue at historic lows. Alongside these market challenges, we have seen what feels like an acceleration of regulatory activity across multiple fronts, including SEC Money Market Reform, DOL Fiduciary Rule and FINRA actions against firms for improper application of sales charge waivers.

One area that is particularly challenging to fund companies is intermediary oversight. Recent SEC rulemaking and the concept release that accompanied the proposed Transfer Agent Rules demonstrate that the SEC is acutely aware of how the mutual fund industry has changed and the increased role that financial intermediaries play in shareholder servicing and transaction processing. However, funds are faced with an environment where the responsibilities for oversight of this activity are not clearly defined.

Boston Financial’s annual intermediary oversight survey can help by providing information about industry practices to support intermediary oversight. In the six years that we have conducted the survey, we’ve seen intermediary oversight programs evolve from the ground up. Today 91% of the fund companies have an intermediary oversight program in place.

The key findings from the 2016 survey are as follows:

  • Fund companies have made significant progress with their intermediary oversight programs as evidenced by the fact that nearly all have a program in place and satisfaction with the current program is on the rise. (61% are satisfied with their current program)
  • Asset managers continue to see legal/regulatory risk as the primary risk related to intermediary-based shareholder processing.
  • Fund board focus on intermediary oversight continues to increase, particularly around fund paid intermediary fees.
  • Fund boards have made headway on the implementation of the recommendations from the SEC’s guidance on distribution fees.

In spite of this progress, we see evidence of frustration around the lack of guidance from the regulators on intermediary oversight. While no one can predict when we will get clearer guidance, there are practical steps you can take. Whatever kind of intermediary oversight program you decide to implement, make sure you can document your program’s objectives and how you arrived at them. Document your process; record and maintain records for any issues uncovered and any actions taken. In this way, you can demonstrate that you “did what you said you were going to do.”

You can read more on the key findings from the survey here. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.


Category: Client Forum, Conferences and Events

The Nashville Experience #BFCF16: Five Reasons to Love Nashville


I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Nashville is hosting the Boston Financial Client Forum. You may be wondering, “Why Nashville?” to hold this year’s Client Forum. There are lots of reasons. In fact too many to list, but here are five.

nashville experience(2)

#1. Top Destination. One of the most dynamic, vibrant cities in the South, Nashville recently beat out Australia, Cuba, and Korea as destination of the year by Travel + Leisure. The city also made Forbes list of 16 top destinations for 2016, Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2016,” and TripAdvisor cited Nashville as the U.S. city seeing the greatest increase in popularity among international travelers. With more and more people from around the world visiting Nashville, it’s no surprise the city is surpassing tourism goals.iStock_25071115_LARGE

#2. Flourishing Food Scene. If you’re a foodie, Nashville is fast becoming a must visit city, just ask Jimmy Kimmel. Whether you crave traditional Nashville food like hot chicken, modern fare, tasty-ethic cuisine, or celebrity chef-owned restaurants, you’ll be able to find something for every appetite in Nashville.


#3. Creative Culture. Nashville was ranked the #2 Most Vibrant Arts Community in the SMU National Center for Arts Research Arts Vibrancy Index. The city’s art scene includes contemporary art, performing art, children’s theatre, visual arts, museums, the Nashville symphony, and a wide range of special art events, such as a monthly “First Saturday Art Crawl” where you can visit over 20 art venues.Country Wall

#4. Steeped in History. Nashville can trace its roots back more than 200 years to the pioneers who first settled there. Being the site of a major Civil War battle, Nashville boosts several Civil War landmarks. The city is home to President Jackson whose house, which sits on 1,100 acres, you can visit. You can also take a tour of the Jack Daniel Distillery, the oldest registered distillery in the U.S. Take a guided tour of the city’s many Greek-Revival mansions and end your day with a visit to the Parthenon, the world’s only exact replica of the ancient Greek temple.istock_8902212_xlarge2

#5. Best Music Scene. Known throughout the world as the Music City and songwriting capital of the world, Nashville’s music scene is rich and deep. The city’s musical roots go back to the late 1700s. Today, Nashville has more than 130 music venues ranging from honky tonks, small clubs, bars, and arenas that feature blues, country, rock ‘n roll, classical, and plenty of other genres. Free, live music pulses through the city 24/7. Whether you take a stroll down the famous Honky Tonk Highway or another one of Nashville’s music neighborhoods, there is no shortage of music joints. To keep up with all the live music happening in Nashville, download Nashville’s free live music guide app.Beale Street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee

If you’re at the Client Forum this September, I hope you take some time to soak in Nashville. Whether it’s food, history, music, culture – the city has a lot to offer! And to get the most out of your Nashville visit, join us for all the special events we have planned. This year’s lineup won’t disappoint. If you’re in town on Wednesday afternoon, don’t miss the RCA Studio B tour followed by dinner that night at Acme Feed and Seed. Thursday’s evening event will take place at one of Nashville’s most prestigious estates. Great music from local bands and musicians will be at all of our events!




See you in Nashville!




If joining us for this exclusive event is not on your radar screen but you want to hear more, look for our wrap-up of Day One of the Client Forum here on Perspectives. Or follow #BFCF16 hashtag on Twitter.