by Melissa Klein

Coral Gables, Fla. - After years of advising firms ad hoc, high-profile financial planners Deena Katz and Harold Evensky have made their consulting business official.

Capitalizing on their years of experience advising financial services firms, the well-known husband-and-wife planning team have formed “The Dynamic Duo” to offer institutional consulting services, as well as day-long and shorter-term educational programs.

The programs run the gamut from marketing and public relations to incorporating behavioral finance into your practice and managing client expectations, as well as institutional consulting services. Services will be rendered on a daily or project basis.

“We’ve been doing [consulting] ad hoc for years and we enjoy it,” said Evensky. “But it’s been difficult to coordinate our plan a lot of times. We decided if we formalize it, we’ll be able to plan our time better.”

“There has been tons of research on what people are looking for, but most of what’s out there is done by researchers, not planners. It’s good raw information, but transforming it into something meaningful isn’t necessarily being done,” Evensky continued. “We’re helping educate some financial services practitioners who are making the transition from other services, such as accounting, insurance or traditional brokerage, about what our world looks like.”

“There are all kinds of white papers and surveys on what clients are looking for, but nobody ever translates that into their practice. That’s what we do,” added Katz.

Evensky and Katz don’t just tell planners how to manage their practices - they walk the walk, continually adapting and evolving their own firm, Evensky, Brown & Katz. EBK adopted fee-only planning, asset allocation, wealth management, index funds, and core-and-satellite policy design long before they were in vogue. The firm follows the philosophy that financial planning is a process, not just a plan.

The couple’s passion for the financial planning profession comes across loud and clear. “We live, eat and breathe what we do,” said Katz, noting that they are the proud owners of four cats all named after Nobel Prize winning economists, including one named Bill Sharpe.

Evensky said that the demand from institutional players for the kind of advice the “Dynamic Duo” provides has increased “substantially” in the last six months.

Interest is coming from “broker/dealers, insurance companies, software companies, banks, accounting firms - those financial services firms getting involved in or interested in having a better understanding of our world, which is the traditional financial planning wealth management process,” he said.

While traditional financial services firms have been hurting as the market slumped during the last few years, he said, “We’ve not only survived it well, our business boomed. Our clients came through it reasonably well.”

“It’s good marketing, good business, as well as good planning,” Evensky continued. “The days of selling performance and hot stories are gone. I hope, gone for good. The big financial services firms have realized that’s not a good way to plan long-term business development.”

“What we do best is help people conceptualize, brainstorm,” Evensky said. “Our forte is working with people on deciding where they want to go, whether it’s practical, and how to get there. It’s not what a big consulting company would do.”

“We’ve been getting more and more queries from financial services groups and banks and people who want direction on where they should take their advisor group and how they should change how they work with their advisors,” noted Katz. “We’re doing this on two levels. One is to provide direction for educational programs, or the programs themselves, and the second is to spend time behind the scenes with the powers that be to give them direction.”

“A lot of large firms don’t know how to make their thinking a reality, and we do,” she added. For example, Katz said, many large firms have made the foray into financial planning over the years, but some haven’t been that successful.

“They don’t know where they want to go next, because they made this great initiative into planning, but they’re still in accounting mode,” she explained. “Accountants are historians. When they set up a planning practice, their system is usually based on historical grounding. We can say, ‘Here’s where you want to take your practice, and here’s what to do with your clients.’ We help them change their vision.”

“It’s generally the same thing with banks,” she continued. “They’re stuck in their own history. They don’t know how to get their arms around where they want to take their businesses.”

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