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An Epic Reunion

By Jeff Spears | November 27, 2015

Reunions are always an interesting experience, whether it’s with your family, schoolmates or former colleagues. 

The personal dynamics at play are at once fascinating and entertaining. 

I was reminded of that on November 4, when I attended a reunion of Montgomery Securities that commemorated its acquisition by NationsBank 18 years ago. 

I was looking forward to this epic gathering to see my colleagues, many of whom have gone on to achieve even greater accomplishments. It was going to be fun to relive the glory days – even momentarily – of when Montgomery was the big daddy investment bank in San Francisco. 

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Segmenting Your Life

By Jeff Spears | October 31, 2015

Segmentation is a very powerful strategy in the wealth management business, as it is in any industry. Numerous cases studies demonstrate the effectiveness of market segmentation to narrow your focus and achieve your goals.

The intriguing question is whether that same segmentation strategy can be applied to our personal life. 

Let’s try it out. 

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The Winding Road To Authenticity

By Jeff Spears | September 29, 2015

From an early age, our society promotes a very well-defined path to success in our personal lives and in our careers. 

Problem is that the well-defined path creates more problems than it solves. 

When we meet someone who appears to have taken a direct line to a perfect life, we have one of two immediate reactions: We either don’t trust them or we hate them. 

Keeping It Real
It’s taken me 53 years to realize that the straight-and-narrow path is more fiction than fact. More authentic is the road most of us take – one full of surprises, joy, disappointment and completely unpredictable outcomes. 

That’s the good news. Not taking the well-worn path – doing it your way – is incredibly liberating and ultimately satisfying. 

Sharing that idea with friends and family is also very liberating, and it is heartening for them as well. That’s because the cultural conversation about success is drowned out by the deafening chatter of people talking about the road successfully traveled. 

As I continue along my own path, now more than ever I want to share my authentic journey in the hope it will help others, as well as me. 

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Please Take Our Blind Taste Test

By Jeff Spears | August 27, 2015

In the 1970s, Pepsi was the disruptive agent in the soft drink business with big ambitions to grab market share from Coca-Cola. 

To take on the market leader, Pepsi adopted the “Pepsi Challenge,” a maverick approach: Show loyal Coke drinkers that Pepsi was better by conducting blind taste tests in the parking lot of their favorite supermarkets. 

The marketing geniuses at Pepsi got exactly what they wanted. 

More than 57% of the tasters chose Pepsi over Coke. It was a game-changer. 

Fast forward a few decades to today’s supermarket – the Internet. In the same spirit of Pepsi, I conducted my own blind test of wealth advisors by analyzing the websites of Wall Street firms, independent advisors and robo advisors.

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Let’s Solve This Together

By Jeff Spears | July 24, 2015

I attended a presentation last week about how to manage your online profile, and I was surprised by the average age of the audience. 

It was predominantly 20-somethings who also work in the tech industry. I was a bit confused. If anyone should understand social media, it’s this demographic. 

Their questions and concerns were both refreshing and enlightening. The experience left this 53-year-old Baby Boomer contemplating how our two generations can collaborate to create solutions that work for all of us. 

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Star Value vs. Franchise Value

By Jeff Spears | July 02, 2015

There’s a ton of money chasing wealth management firms these days, as recent blockbuster deals have once again demonstrated. 

The soaring prices paid for wealth management firms have caused many to ask what’s the best way to get the most for ourselves, our families and our long-term legacy. 

In fact, there are two clear paths a wealth manager can take. One is the Star Path and the other is the Franchise Path, as I like to call them. The Star Path is more immediate, and the Franchise Path is longer, riskier and requires more work. 

The question is which path is right for you. 

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Listen Up, People!

By Jeff Spears | May 29, 2015

It’s that time of year again.

People are graduating from high school and college, and our social media feeds are lighting up with links to memorable graduation speeches.

All of this is an opportunity for introspection, but it also calls to mind the wisdom of Mark Twain, who said: “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

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My Eulogy

By Jeff Spears | April 30, 2015


In 1965, a great book was written by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik called Lonely Man of Faith.

To summarize in a single sentence, the book emphasized the importance of living your life not for external recognition, your resume, but for internal wholeness, your eulogy. 

The two main personality types discussed in the book – Adam 1 and Adam 2 – illustrate the rabbi’s point well. They are a parable about how we might conduct our own lives before it’s too late. 

Adam 1 is a profile in self-absorption, an individual devoted to impressing others with his worldly accomplishments. Adam 2 is an enlightened soul who understood what mattered in life. He was a happy and wise man. 

Many years have passed since the rabbi shared his insight, but not much has changed with regard to Adam 1. There are far too many Adam 1s running around and too many books written on how to become an Adam 1. 

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Why Do So Many Baby Boomers Dismiss Social Media?

By Jeff Spears | March 26, 2015

I was born in 1962, which puts me at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation, defined as those who came into the world between 1946 and 1964. 

My adoption of social media also puts me at the far edge of my generation for another reason: I’m a fan of social media.

That’s not necessarily the case with my contemporaries. The common refrain I hear when I talk about social media: “I don’t do Facebook.” It’s said with the same disdain they have for illicit narcotics – “I don’t do drugs.”

Why does this trailblazing generation feel so antagonistic toward social media? Why do so many tech-savvy Boomers prefer not to share with their friends online? Why do they dislike a medium so popular with younger people?

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Making The Right Choice: RIA vs. Wirehouse Broker

By Jeff Spears | February 27, 2015


When it’s time to buy a new suit for work, I have two clear choices.

One option is to buy a custom suit from a master tailor near my office in downtown San Francisco. The other is buying an off-the-rack model from Joseph A. Bank or a department store.

As I was thinking about this recently, I was struck by the similarities between selecting a suit and choosing a wealth advisor – either an RIA or a wirehouse broker.

There actually is a lot more to that decision than meets the eye, so it’s worth comparing the two choices. Both types of suits – like both types of wealth managers – have their own merits. The key is ensuring that the buyer makes an informed decision.

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