Countdown to Exchange: Re-Envision Wealth’s Anna N’Jie-Konte

In less than 2 weeks, advisors will flock to sunny Miami for the annual Exchange Conference. Content sessions this year offer advisors insight into growing their business models in unexpected ways, the macro and market environment of 2024, navigating the AI revolution, and more. Helming these sessions are some of the brightest and best minds in the business. I recently sat down with Exchange Advisor Council member and Re-Envision Wealth’s Anna N’Jie-Konte to talk about her session.

Karrie Gordon, staff writer, VettaFi: Anna, thank you so much for meeting with me. It’s full steam ahead for Exchange but I wanted to take a bit of time to talk about your session. You’re heading up Firm Foundations: Reimagining Your Business Model, which happens Tuesday morning at Exchange. I know that Chelsea Ransom-Cooper and George Acheampong will join you on stage for that one too. How would you summarize this session in a few sentences?

Anna N’Jie-Konte, MBA, CFP, President and Director of Financial Planning, Re-Envision Wealth

Anna N’Jie-Konte, MBA, CFP, President and Director of Financial Planning, Re-Envision Wealth: My session is going to be an invitation to think differently about the nature and future of your business. As an advisor, I recognize that we are at an inflection point in terms of the different generations of clients that we’re serving.

There is a huge demand for financial advisors and folks who work in wealth management to think differently. This means meeting people where they need us instead of where we think they should be. My goal is to give folks some very practical examples of advisors who are building very profitable, high-growth businesses in an atypical way.

Bringing Care, Detail, Empathy, and Humanity to Advising

Gordon: You’ve built your advisor firm’s business model to reach beyond the traditional boxes. What is one thing that you do differently that is remarked upon by advisors?

N’Jie-Konte: There are actually two things. One is not something that I think can be easily replicated and it’s that we genuinely care. We are so meticulous and detail-oriented in every single interaction that we have with clients. We recognize that many of our clients, either have not had a positive experience with folks in wealth management prior. That or they don’t have any experience with wealth management. And they really need someone to help guide them and show that we care.

I think that’s something that can be translated to a lot of different demographics in this industry. Advisors who work with folks in life transitions, whether that’s divorce, or the death of a spouse — that’s huge. When we think about special needs families, that’s huge. When we think about multigenerational planning and having family meetings all across the wealth spectrum, there are a lot of places where you have to show that level of care, detail, empathy, and humanity. And I think my team is excellent at that.

The second is that we have recognized that we can build a commercially viable practice by building a retainer and AUM business. Clients can come to us that are extremely high income — we have dozens of clients that are well over a million dollars in annual income — and they pay us a flat fee.

They don’t necessarily like a lot of their wealth tied up in a business, in restricted stock, or in privately held company stock. So, they don’t have large portfolios and they would not be a great candidate for an AUM-based business. We give them really high-level, caring, empathetic, proactive advice in a way that can be inaccessible for them in other business models, even though they’re great clients through and through.

Anna N’Jie-Konte on Her North Star

Gordon: I really appreciate that at the core of all that you do is empathy. And it’s something that not only works but is an incredibly successful way to make those connections with clients. Let me ask about you personally now; what is a favorite piece of advice that you’ve received and why?

N’Jie-Konte: From the youngest age, my father told me if I’m going to do something at all, to do it well. He was teaching me how to make my bed, so not high stakes. I was probably around nine years old. He told me to save my effort if I was going to do it sloppily. Those were not his exact words, but that was the sentiment. And I’ve taken that into most areas of my life — when it matters to me, I will really lean into that. And this business and doing right by my clients really matters to me. So that’s always my North Star when I think about what we’re doing with clients.

Recognizing the Limitations of Your Own Capabilities

Gordon: Let me flip that around now. What’s a piece of advice that you would give advisors looking to reach a broader client base?

N’Jie-Konte: I’m reading this book called “The Thought Leaders Practice” on the recommendation of my business coach. One of the things it drives home is that people can sense when you don’t have experience doing something. When you genuinely don’t have what it takes to help them in that area. As advisors are thinking about implementing some sort of change and becoming more future-focused with their business, they have to recognize the limitations of their own capabilities to serve different populations.

That means they have to bring on different staff — producing advisors or support staff — to support those people. They need people who know, from an intimate level, what the pain points are. I think there’s something very different when you are an advisor who works with women in transition, and you’ve been through a divorce yourself, versus it being an intellectual exercise for you.

The technical stuff, advisors can figure out. We can do CE, we can get a certification, we can Google it, that’s easy. It’s the deep human stuff that we talk about, like BeFi [behavioral finance], that you can’t fake. That’s not to say you need to have a whole set of staff that reflects every single client’s experience. But if you’re thinking about building a future-focused firm that is going to have some niches, and different advisors within the firm offering different business models, you have to have someone who understands the human side of that and why that matters.

Anna N’Jie-Konte: “AI Is Coming For All of Us”

Gordon: This is a recurring theme that I see come up when I talk with younger advisors or those advisors catering to diverse clients. It always comes back to the importance of authenticity. That and the importance of the human element in financial advising.

N’Jie-Konte: That’s the other thing about it all — AI is coming for all of us. It can help us create the most efficient portfolios, do the risk tolerance surveys, and do the rebalancing. It can do the tax loss harvesting. What it can’t do is sit and hold someone’s hand as they’re figuring out what to do with their special needs kid. It can’t help someone figuring out what to do about their divorce. That’s a different level of understanding and EQ [emotional intelligence] that a computer can’t provide.

Gordon: I agree. People are starting to realize that while AI brings disruption, the human element will always be needed. There’s an element of human connection that can’t be replicated by AI, at least not yet. I know we’ll have several sessions at Exchange that center around the impact and role of AI. What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

N’Jie-Konte: I am looking forward to talking to other industry folks who get that we cannot continue operating at the same level. I know that there are lots of people there who have bought into the need to make systemic changes in wealth management. I’m really excited to meet those people, whoever they are, when they’re there.

Don’t miss Anna N’Jie-Konte onstage at Exchange alongside Chelsea Ransom-Cooper of Zenith Wealth Partners and George Acheampong of CapitalWize and Melanin Money on Tuesday, February 13. Register for the conference here and see the agenda here.

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