Star Power

Some pics from my birthday party

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I had lunch a few months back with Alex Steger, the Editor in Chief of Citywire USA and we got to talking about some of the difficult aspects of putting on great live events for the wealth management industry. There are a bunch of them.

Giving people a reason to want to pick up and leave their families for two or three days is one of those difficulties - especially for thirtysomething moms and dads with toddlers at home. The trip is going to be an escape for one spouse and a burden on the other.

Putting on panels where someone actually says something that generates a little heat - also not easy to do. Especially when the event’s economics are forcing you to load a panel up with polite, buttoned-up, non-objectionable representatives of the sponsoring companies. That’s why so much of the typical event’s on-stage content seems like filler. Because it is.

But of all the difficulties inherent to the live wealth event, perhaps the one least discussed is that there’s a lack of star power in our industry. The reality is that there are only a few names that might move the needle in terms of attendee registrations and online engagement during and after their session. Most industry event speakers, regardless of how successful they’ve been or how many insights they have to share, just don’t rise to the level of being considered an audience magnet. There just aren’t that many names that make people want to click, submit and start booking travel plans.

Which is a shame because the current crop of thought leaders is so loaded with expertise and wisdom that I almost can’t believe how muted their star power seems to be. When I look at the lists of so-called “influential” advisors or “people to watch” from around the industry, I am amazed at how few of them I’ve actually heard of. And then I’ll click on their social media profiles and see almost zero engagement. It’s actually sort of depressing. If these are the influential people to watch why isn’t anyone being influenced by them? Why isn’t anyone actually watching? I don’t fault anyone on these lists for not living up to the billing of the listmakers. I think the problem is structural. We haven’t done enough to promote the folks who ought to serve as the exemplars of our profession. And they tend not to be highly promotional people themselves.

It’s not that we don’t have people with the potential to become stars. We have hundreds of them. I think the problem (like most problems) is that they just haven’t been marketed correctly. The wealth industry doesn’t know how to create its own stars. The potential stars in our industry are people who studied finance, people coming from backgrounds in insurance and banking and accounting. They aren’t natural born marketers to begin with, which is why they’re at RIA firms and not creating million-dollar advertising campaigns on Madison Avenue. We don’t have a dearth of talent, we have a failure to showcase and support it.

This is something I aim to change. I have some pretty big plans in the works to do something about this and build some star power throughout the advisory space. We are surrounded by incredible entrepreneurs, executives, founders, builders, speakers, creators and leaders every day. They should be bigger “name brands” and much more visible, both within the industry and among the public. Stay tuned for more on this front in the coming weeks. We’ve been in the lab…


Speaking of Star Power, the stars of the New York financial media scene came out to celebrate at the joint happy hour birthday extravaganza JC Parets and I hosted this Thursday night.

It was an awesome mix of CNBC, Fox Business, Wall Street Journal and Yahoo Finance on-air people hanging out for the first time in what seems like forever. Back before the pandemic, we used to do these happy hours all the time in NYC, albeit on a much more informal basis. Reporters mingled with traders, show producers met with analysts and portfolio managers, TV anchors got to hear from people who actually work on The Street over drinks and bloggers got to talk their shit to people face to face instead of from behind a MacBook Pro. It was a beautiful era of financial news and networking and I miss it. I miss the people. I miss the introductions and the cross-pollination these events used to facilitate. I’m planning to bring this back on a more regular basis.

Anyway, special thanks to Hunt & Fish for hosting us all and to everyone who came out to celebrate! We're not going to wait another year before we do this again.

Here are some pics from the party if you’re interested…

Speaking of Citywire, here’s Arielle Shternfeld, head of RIA audience engagement and Amelia Garland, whose just been named the publisher’s country head for the United States region. That’s fintech legend Anthony Stich to my right, also known as Mr. Purple.

My partner and Ritholtz Wealth co-founder Kris Venne with Matt Middleton, the creator of the Future Proof Festival and Tom Lydon, who recently sold his media and communications business to the Toronto Stock Exchange in a massive deal. These are some of the very best people I’ve ever known and worked with.

Sam Ro is pretty much everyone’s favorite financial blogger. He writes TKer and you’ve been reading his bylines at Yahoo Finance and Business Insider forever. On his left, that’s Dion Rabouin of the Wall Street Journal. You’ll see both of them back on The Compound and Friends this spring. Jay Woods is in the background. If he looks familiar, it’s because Jay has become the face of the New York Stock Exchange this winter. Every time I look up he’s on television lately.

Whenever people ask me who’s the smartest person I am on the air with for CNBC’s the Halftime Report, without hesitation I tell them Stephanie Link. No one does more homework on their stocks than she does. No one cares more about getting it right. Stephanie is the Chief Investment Strategist and a portfolio manager at Hightower Advisors these days. They’re lucky to have her, she’s amazing.

On the far left is Jimmy Moock of StreetCred PR. I’m telling you right now Jimmy is the best in the business. He handles things for us we didn’t even know needed handling. If you’re looking for representation, StreetCred should be your first call. Barry was all smiles - he’s watched JC and I grow up in this business over the last fifteen or so years. I think it makes him feel great to know how instrumental he’s been in that process.

That’s young Rachel Lindzon, daughter and emissary of Howard Lindzon who was sidelined from the party by a leak in his roof on the other side of the country (true story). She’s with Heather Boneparth, wife and business partner of frequent compound guest Doug Boneparth. Cameron Rufus is one of my rising star financial planners at Ritholtz Wealth and he writes a blog for us called Wealth Found Me. He brought a friend along to celebrate our birthdays and his own! Happy birthday, Cam!

With trader and research analyst Steve Strazza, JC Parets of All Star Charts and my old friend Bhargav Shivarthy, a serial founder and investment technology entrepreneur.

Jessica Menton of Bloomberg News talking with Sam. Nick Maggiulli, whose book Just Keep Buying has now sold over 200,000 copies, is not only an awesome blogger at our firm, he’s also our Chief Operating Officer. We’re one of the fastest growing, highest onboarding volume firms in the industry. Nick’s work is like the circulatory system keeping our heartbeat steady.

It wouldn’t be a party without my pal Joe Fahmy in the house. Joe’s a successful independent trader and frequent market commentator. He’s also one of the nicest guys I know, he’d give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. A very rare combination of market savvy, empathy and soul.

Who doesn’t love Jenn Ablan, EIC at Pensions & Investments? Nobody. Jenn lights up every room she walks into. I met her fifteen years ago or so at Reuters and consider myself very lucky to have her as a friend. I bet all her friends feel exactly the same way.

Dr. Phil Pearlman (of StockTwits fame), Steve Liesman (CNBC), Nelson Braff (Hunt & Fish Club), Jimmy Lebenthal (Cerity Partners), Joe Terranova (Virtus Investments), Dan McMurtrie (Tyro Partners) and so many other awesome people in one place!

If you’re wondering who took at these awesome pictures, it was our chief creative Duncan Hill of course. Except for the ones taken by Nicole Samoroukova! Flanking Duncan is Alex Kantrowitz on the left, a CNBC contributor and the host of the Big Technology podcast. The big guy is Sean Russo who works at Ritholtz Wealth Management on the research side under Michael Batnick. Sean makes me sound much smarter than I actually am on TV everyday. That’s our CFO and tax expert Bill Sweet in the background.

Speaking of Nicole, in the relatively short time she’s been at Ritholtz Wealth Management, she’s made a huge impact. Nicole is executive producing our shows, running logistics for our live podcast events, handling audience engagement and creating official Compound merchandise. Every passing month her talents and abilities seem to multiply. We couldn’t do most of the stuff you see on the screen without her.

I love this shot because it really sums up the kind of night it was - Doug Boneparth, Jay Woods, Ryan Detrick (Carson Wealth), Katie Stockton (Fairlead Strategies) and Dan Ives (Wedbush) all in one place. What a moment.

Anyway, I’m having fun and enjoying the moments like these as much as possible. I turned 47 today with a full head of steam, feeling happy, healthy and fulfilled by family, friends and career.

What more could I ask for?

These are the good old days I’ll think back on sometime when I’m old and gray. The challenge is to not lose sight of that day by day, regardless of the problems that arise. This is the good part.

Okay, gotta go blow out my candles. Talk soon! - Josh