Written Industry Knowledge

Tiburon begins every client engagement with a broad understanding of the industry in written form. Through its own previous research efforts, Tiburon has documented the key trends in dozens of product and market segments throughout the financial services industry; this written documentation allows Tiburon to deliver timely market seminars for clients which need a quick understanding of a segment, and this same research allows Tiburon principals to get off to a fast start in developing customized strategies for the firm's strategic consulting clients.

HD Vest Financial Services founder Herb Vest and Tiburon Managing Principal Chip Roame

At Tiburon, clients will not be subject to Tiburon principals & research managers learning on the client's time; instead, Tiburon principals & research managers quickly move to tackling the research assignments necessary to help develop custom strategies based on the client's capabilities, their competitors' strategies, and their clients' needs.

State of the Industry: Industry Views

Historically, the areas of banking and insurance dominated the financial services industry. However, growing consumer wealth, the decline of defined benefit plans, and the growth of 401K plans, mutual funds, and online investing led to rapidly expanding consumer-oriented brokerage and investment management markets in the 1990s. At the same time, the brokerage and investment management markets were evolving rapidly; a landscape once dominated by stocks and bonds at full-service brokerage firms was giving way to way to a financial planning and mutual funds-oriented environment led by discount brokers, independent reps, and fee-based financial advisors.

However, the market slow down of 2000-2003 called many of these trends into question and has led financial services executives to question their strategies. Will consumers continue to take ownership of their financial affairs or will they drift back towards using financial advisors? Will consumers even stay in the market or will some head for the exits and stash their money back in banks and real estate? Will defined contribution plans roar ahead or will the trend reverse itself and lead to growth in defined benefit plans? How will technology fit in; is it a channel unto itself or an enabler of other channels? And how about new entrants; will CPA firms, insurance companies, or some other channel become the next big group of financial advisors? The fundamental question for all financial services executives is which of these trends are sustaining and how can one's firm participate in these new markets?

Tiburon believes that for a progressive financial institution, possibly the four most profound changes have been:

  • The emergence of consumer involvement and knowledge which has manifested itself in online investing and account management
  • The evolution towards a fee-accounts environment, and more recently the growth of separately managed accounts, which may become the dominant product for the emerging affluent
  • The emergence and rapid growth of alternative investments such as hedge funds, venture capital, and real estate, as well as market-linked investment vehicles such as index funds, leveraged funds, and exchange traded funds
  • The evolution of the source of high net worth households, with more earning their wealth through corporate employment or small business ownership, and the resulting evolution in their financial needs and the growth in wealth management services

Tiburon views the brokerage and investments markets as being comprised of financial and non-financial product companies, or those which manufacture products; distribution companies, or those firms which primarily distribute products and serve clients through various types of financial advisors; and finally the financial advisors themselves who serve the consumers. Two additional segments include the institutional channels and the international markets.

Across all segments of the brokerage & investment management markets, there are three concepts that are critical in this time of rapid industry evolution:

  • Consolidation is inevitable. Tiburon believes that industry silos have been created in the US due to regulation. The evolution in other countries would suggest substantial consolidation is to come. Strategic alliances and co-opetition will be much more common going forward
  • Technology is the great enabler. Originally software and now the web offer impressive possibilities in both customer service and cost savings. Multi-channel offers will be required. Many industry executives fell into a trap in comparing the likely success of online channels versus face-to-face channels; consumers across all product lines will demand both going forward
  • Internationalism is a given. The world is getting smaller. European firms are acquiring substantial firms in the US and US firms are slowly moving to distribute their products offshore

Tiburon Consulting Fellow Kevin Malone of Greenrock Research describes opportunities in the investment management market at Tiburon CEO Summit VII

All of these changes create great opportunities in the marketplace. Research is required to separate the real opportunities from the apparent changes. However, the financial services industry has traditionally been weak at research; the industry has grown up pushing products to its customers, instead of assessing their needs. Very few financial services companies conduct substantial amounts of consumer or competitor research. Tiburon believes that research is the key foundation upon which smart strategy is built; the firm has extensive experience in doing this research.

Tiburon's written industry knowledge is complimented by its Consulting Skills, Research Capabilities, and Industry Experience which allow it to provide a unique offering of strategy consulting, market research, and other related services to financial institutions and investment managers.