Interview with The Suit Magazine

1. Gary Duell, you are the Owner and Founder of Duell Wealth Preservation. What sparked your interest in this line of work and what were you doing professionally prior to this firm? What is the history of this firm?
* I began my career as an agent for Farmers Insurance.
*After 15 years I was bored with selling house and car insurance.  I enjoyed learning about my clients and wanted to provide more value to them.
*So, I got all the licenses needed in order to give financial advice.  But after working through several broker-dealers I found intolerable their restrictions on what I could say to my clients.  For example, we were forbidden to send follow-up letters to clients after a meeting to summarize what we discussed
*So I formed my own RIA firm in 2007.

2. What qualities do you seek in your potential clients and on the flip side, what qualities do you and the firm possess that prompts potential clients to select your services?
*Lifetime students
*Sense of humor, affability
*Financially successful but not convinced of their success
*Open minded
*Connected- good referral sources
*Also a lifetime student & generous teacher/consultant/collaborator
*Legal fiduciary
*Totally transparent
*Clean conduct

3. The paradigm suggests that the conversation has shifted away from the alpha approach [supposedly measurable gains attributable to the adviser] to a more conservative approach which provides a more customized solution. Do you agree with the premise?
*Alpha is problematic- 2 reasons:  Can you trust their past measurement of it?  And how do you justify projecting that into the future?
*Sheer computing power makes the latter approach- customized solutions -not only possible but necessary in order to claim to be a true fiduciary.
*Avoiding mistakes & losses is more important than chasing alpha.  This is something that can be promised.

4. Financial literacy among clients remains to be a problem. Planners say kids who grew up watching their parents go into debt want to avoid the same fate. Will we see more online tools to help “gamify” that financial planning experience while creating a more savvy relationship? 
*Absolutely.  So-called roboadvisers are appearing all over the place.
*Initially these struck fear into the hearts of advisers but now most of us realize such software frees us to do the most important task:  connecting with and guiding our clients.
*These tools will most certainly become more prolific and powerful.

5. What does being a fiduciary mean to you and to your clients?
*I’m not sure it means much of anything to my clients until after I define it for them.  And even then the looks are skeptical.  We all know that legal obligations don’t guarantee good behavior.
*What I hope it means to my clients is that there are resources for verifying the fiduciary history of their advisers.
*Which there are:, for example, and each state’s regulatory agencies. 

6. Communicating with clients can be a challenging task, how do you insure plans stay on track, level set client expectations and most importantly handle unforeseen circumstances?
*We contact all clients no less than quarterly by phone or email.
*We issue a quarterly newsletter
*Annual review appointments are set a year in advance
*Special notices go out as need for topical or timely advice

7. With Americans enjoying increased longevity, what methods are you using to help clients create enough savings to last through what could be a retirement lasting as long as their working years while still maintaining their desired standard of living? What methods are you using to combat the potentially draining effects of long-term care?
*Virtually all of my clients are at or near the end of their asset accumulation phases.
*The moving parts that are available to work with at this point are Social Security benefits, pension timing & options, when to retire.
*Avoiding sequence of returns risk is task #1
*For long term care risk- which is substantial for couples -we explore three options, depending on level of assets:  LTCi insurance, asset-based solutions, Medicaid planning.

8. Do you think the current 401(k) fee disclosures are enough to fully inform savers or retirees of what they are paying for their accounts?

9. What has been your greatest success in this industry and what has been the failure or challenge that you learned the most from?
*My greatest personal success has been to teach classes and seminars.  Like the average person, I was more afraid of public speaking than death.  This has changed the quality of clients I acquire and also made my practice more fun and challenging.
*Biggest failure was dinner seminars.  It was hard to admit that I just don’t have the bright, magnetic personality for that to work for me.  Plus I think they have kind of a sleazy reputation. 

10. Goals for 2016 / 2017?
*Triple my business volume
*Settle on a roboadviser and asset custodian
*Figure out how to fairly charge for AUM
*Ramp up social media exposure
*Begin podcasting

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