Interesting (albeit straightforward) post by E.S. Browning in today’s WSJ:
“More Brokers Flee Big Firms, Taking Investors With Them”
“The ranks of brokers at major Wall Street firms have been shrinking, along with those firms’ share of the retail-investing market. At the same time, independent advisers are growing in number and market share.”
Nothing revolutionary or surprising here – banks reputations have taking a beating over the past year (a stock broker at the artist formerly known as Lehman Brothers doesn’t hold much gravitas). Save yourself 90 seconds and skip the article, yet note the the important theme that Nathan and I have been championing with Stik.com over the past year – the seismic transition from BRAND EQUITY to SOCIAL CAPITAL is upon us (I use “social capital” here liberally because its snappier – what I really mean is the shifting importance from “corporate brands” like Citigroup and State Farm to “personal brands” like Tom Smith, the financial planner who coaches your kid’s tee ball team and manages your 401k.)
We have already seen this shift in the media, aided by the blogosphere and technologies like Google Reader. I follow David Brooks religiously but don’t spend much time at all with the rest of the NYT. David Brooks personal brand means much more to me than the NYT.
Nathan and I see this same shift happening in consumer finance – as the credibility of “too big to fail” financial institutions has crumbled, consumers will (and should!) begin to rely more heavily on PEOPLE (and personal connections) for their financial advice. Citigroup has become a faceless institution half-way across the world that may go under at any minute -it no longer feels particularly safe or permanent. My local financial planner in the community has a house down the street and two kids at my neighborhood elementary school. In a business built on trust, which one of these seems more attractive?
We have built Stik.com to help facilitate this shift from corporate brands to personal brands and encourage both consumers and service providers to explore the human side of consumer finance. As today’s article highlights, real change is upon us.