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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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I Promise

By Jeff Spears | January 29, 2015

In our professional lives, it’s likely we’ll all face at least two to three crises.

When I was getting out of college in Texas, I experienced my first crisis – the implosion of the oil and gas industry. The crash in the oil patch, similar in severity to the industry’s current debacle, produced bumper stickers that summed the sentiment of the times: “Dear Lord: Give Me Another Boom and I Promise I Won’t Screw It Up.”

Boom Times Today

In the wealth management business, we’re currently enjoying a pretty good run. The market is near all-time highs, and the gloom of the financial crisis has worn off. Many people are feeling better than they have in a long while. Animal spirits are running free. 

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Case Closed?

By Jeff Spears | December 23, 2014

Case Closed?

I have been one of the 5 million people who have been fascinated by Serial, the phenomenal podcast that captured the imagination of America.

If you haven’t heard of Serial, you should download it now, listen to all 12 episodes and then read this post. Go ahead we will wait for you.

Many Lessons

In listening to the podcast over the past few months, I came away with three thoughts that are especially relevant to wealth managers, their clients and our communication gap with millineals.

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Tony, I've Missed You

By Jeff Spears | November 25, 2014


Welcome Back Tony - I Missed You

When I read that Tony Robbins had written a new book – his first in 20 years – it was like an old friend had suddenly resurfaced.

I hadn’t thought of Tony in a while, but I missed his guidance more than I realized.

Tony Robbins, a life coach and best-selling self-help author, made a name for himself by studying top performers and identifying common characteristics that made them happy and successful. Tony’s genius was translating that insight into a practical roadmap for exceptional achievement.

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