MMI is Helping Advisors Talk Sustainable Investing
Source: FA-IQ, Sep. 7, 2017
BRUCE LOVE, MANAGING EDITOR, FINANCIAL ADVISOR IQ: Hi, this is Bruce Love with Financial Advisor IQ. And I’m here with Craig Pfeiffer, who is the president and CEO of the Money Management Institute. Craig, you’ve got some news about your organization and something you’re doing with Morningstar. What’s going on?
CRAIG PFEIFFER, CEO, MONEY MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE: Thanks, Bruce. Yeah, we’re very proud because we announced a partnership with Morningstar around sustainable investing. And obviously they as an organization have made a huge commitment, not only with their globes platform but just their engagement around it. They’re partnering around data and sustained analytics, et cetera.
And MMI — Money Management Institute — takes a real serious view around advisor education, which leads to investor education. And in the sustainable investing space, you actually have this demand element, right? You hear an increasing interest, whether it’s from the millennials, from the women investment owners and the women investment decision makers and women asset owners, and frankly a new phase around the baby boomers, and kind of leaving a legacy. So you have a demand element around principled investing.
On the supply side, all of the asset managers, in some form, are using it as part of portfolio construction broadly across products, and then products that are narrowly associated with both ESG, impact, socially responsible investing. So you’ve had these demand and supply elements. But the traction wasn’t meeting anybody’s expectations.
And it really had to do with the advisor in the intermediary feeling comfortable, feeling confident to be able to answer really two questions. My client brings it up. How do I respond? And, I’d like to bring it up with my clients. How do I do that? And they were kind of doing what advisors do best-- is deflecting, because they didn’t have that comfort level.
And so we’ve engaged together to create a whole spectrum of advisor education, from beginner to intermediate to advanced, around these topics. We’re very fortunate. We drew the interest and the financial support to create this coursework. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is involved, Calvert-- Calvert Research, now part of Eaton Vance, as well as Northern Trust. So they are our three underwriting sponsors. And our title and lead sponsor and presenting sponsor is Morningstar.
BRUCE LOVE: So how exactly does it work? I’m an advisor of — let’s say I’m a mid-career advisor. I’d like to know a little bit more about how I can explain this to my clients. What, in practice, are you offering?
CRAIG PFEIFFER: Yeah, so there’s, again, the spectrum from introductory — so think in terms of course content that gives you a flavor, gives you a sense. For that set of advisors that want to go deeper, then, there’s two parts. And this is really important. The first part is going to be more advanced academics, more deeper content, more rich content around the fundamentals and around the principles.
But importantly — and I’ve known this my whole career, we’ve all observed it -- if you spend a lot of time around financial advisors, they listen to other financial advisors first — long before they listen to a management structure, long before they listen to a home office. And so where we’re going to spend a lot of time is profiling those advisors who have already made the adoption. Now, there’s not a lot of them. But the ones that have are really good at it.
And so creating that profiling around those two questions, around — how do I raise this with my clients? What I do when my clients raise it with me? And having videos, panels, conversations like this featuring at our conferences and being able to capture that commentary around advisors who are already doing it and doing it successfully. We believe that’s very gravitational.
BRUCE LOVE: So you can look at these online. You can go to these sessions at your conferences.
CRAIG PFEIFFER: Yes, so we think there’s going to be at least three dimensions of delivery, or mediums, if you will. The first is going to be the courses. They’re going to be available online, on demand, at your convenience — so kind of the study at home at your own pace model. That’ll be an important part of receiving the content.
The second piece is a series of workshops, in-person forums that will be held — the first one’s November 7th in Chicago — where we’ll have anywhere from 50 to 100 to 150 advisors for the day, general sessions, breakouts, digging into topics, panels of these successful advisors who have already adopted for others to follow. And so we think the workshops and forums are a way to make it more personal and interactive.
And then the third is this kind of virtual library of content on demand. There are endless amounts of short videos and white papers and published case studies, et cetera, that we’ll actually provide a library format for that, as well as creating some kind of a social media chat structure that allows advisors to talk to other advisors, share success stories, and start to sift out best practices.
BRUCE LOVE: Besides Chicago, where else are you going with these?
CRAIG PFEIFFER: I think any place that you’ve been to an airport recently, right? So think about San Francisco and LA, Dallas, and hopefully, we can be supportive of the recovery of Houston. The Atlanta, Washington, New York, Boston, Chicago — the 10 or 20 major cities where there tend to be financial services events.
BRUCE LOVE: It sounds fantastic. Craig, thank you so much.
CRAIG PFEIFFER: Bruce, thank you.