An early afternoon interview on an outdoor patio adjacent to the Chicago Hilton brought welcome relief for Brian Hamburger from the hustle and bustle of the Envestnet Advisor Summit 2016.
The compliance giant and president and CEO of MarketCounsel was a panelist for (what else?) a panel on the DOL’s fiduciary rule earlier Thursday. Moderated by Lincoln Ross, executive vice president and head of product strategy and marketing for Envestnet, the lively conversation also included Clarke Camper, senior vice president of government relations with American Funds, as well as Pam Krueger, founder and CEO of WealthRamp. The topic was still top of mid for Hamburger.
“We’re not unhappy about it,” Hamburger said, when asked for his initial reaction. “But we can aspire to do it a better way.”
He noted that the rule set out to accomplish two goals; better investor protection and to help cure market confusion they might have.
“The DOL was adequate on the first part, but went in the opposite direction on the second part,” he bluntly stated.
“It’s good for short-term business, as there is a flight to quality counsel as they try to figure it all out. But we ultimately benefit when the industry is successful, and in that regard, it’s not good for long-term business. The lawsuits will have a greater impact in changing behavior than the DOL ever could.”
Inquires surrounding the fiduciary rule and coming from think tanks and similar organizations, as well as broker-dealers “who are finally getting real about how they handle RIAs.”
“Mark Hurley tapped into something with his whitepaper a few years ago, which is that for whatever reason, advisors want to read about their demise. No matter the disruptor, whether it’s robos or fiduciary, they want to hear about it. But I just don’t see it. At the end of the day, technology has little value without humans, and vice-versa.”
As for MarketCounsel’s overall growth in the wake of these issues, Hamburger said it’s 20 percent to 30 percent annually.
“We continue to grow, but not past our capabilities where we can’t fully service our existing clients. Right now we’re spending a lot of time sharpening our tools.”
MarketCounsel has also made a splash in the conference space, landing such controversial speakers as Tony Robbins, Eliot Spitzer, and even an onstage meeting between Mark Cuban and former SEC chairman Chris Cox, who once sued Cuban for insider trading.
As for this year’s lineup in Miami in December, Hamburger is understandably mum, as it’s still early on in the planning process.
MarketCounsel, founded in 2000, describes itself as a “leading business and regulatory consultancy to some of the country’s preeminent independent investment [advisors] throughout their lifecycle.”