The gist of the story: He was rich as hell at 34 years old after selling a company to GE and he realized it didn't solve much

February 18, 2013 — 9:50 PM UTC by Brooke Southall


Brooke’s Note: For most writers getting on The New York Times bestseller list is the goal and a lifetime. After interviewing Joe Duran for this article, I realized that getting on that list was not the United Capital CEO’s goal per se but an element of a plan that is part of a larger goal of inventing a new kind of national RIA based on branded financial planning. See: Joe Duran tries out novel financial planning strategy on himself and his wife. But it is this kind of think-it-through planning that is at the heart of who Joe Duran is and why he was able to hit bestseller lists — the second time in recent history an RIA has pulled this off. See: Two DFA advisors win big book contract after 'Dying banker’ article in NYTimes. It is a financial self-help book for consumers. For those of us in the RIA business, it doubles as a rare look into the life of someone we are all watching to see whether his pioneering ways deliver us to a new way of doing business. See: Why Joe Duran believes that classic RIA firms face extinction. Joe grew up in South Africa under Apartheid and had a childhood with, to say the least, tough obstacles. Joe tells about those experiences — like trips with his father to a pawn shop to sell what few possessions they owned — in “Money Code.” It not only adds weight and poignancy to the book but augments the most important quality of any person who is eager to serve as our financial advisor — trust.

We learn from mistakes and misfortune, not success.

Joe Duran has written a terrific book, “The Money Code: Improve Your Entire Financial Life Right” (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2013) Marketed brilliantly, it hit The New York Times and USA Today best-seller lists on week one by playing off his failure gain to psychic rewards from his new-found riches more than how he got rich in the first place.

In the case of the CEO and founder of United Capital Financial Advisers LLC, one of the biggest RIAs and serial buyers out there, the mistakes made were not the kind you and I make that seem to keep us on financial tenterhooks our whole lives. See: United Capital scoops up a $1.6 billion wealth manager from M&T.

In Duran’s case, he made the mistake of believing that he would wake up the next day after becoming a millionaire a few times over at 34 years old (He sold a company to General Electric that is now part of Genworth’s TAMP) and feel like a million bucks. He didn’t.

It’s not that he thought the pursuit of wealth was a bad idea, because he is very much on a quest to become much, much richer by pulling off a successful IPO of United Capital — with “Money Code” as part of the plan. See: United Capital eyes 'Paragon’ brand for the $10-million-plus set after nabbing $1 billion RIA in Seattle.

Mommy-blog network

It’s just that it’s only a single piece of the puzzle. Sounds like a parable? Indeed, in this short book, Duran uses a parable rather than a Suze Orman-style lecture to try to help us navigate the paradox of how money is everything and nothing all at the same time.

The bad news for Duran, he says, is that the book comes too late for a 39-year-old sister who badly needed its message when recently she went through personal turmoil. Duran felt there was not a book out there that could really speak to the admixture of intellectual and emotional issues she faced, and this perception of a void sparked his most recent literary effort.

The good news is that the book is catching fire with thousands of women who fit his sister’s profile — women who are 35 to 50 years of age, largely. Duran has published what he believes are about 20,000 paperback copies thus far on the strength of advanced orders. Those orders, he says, were generated largely by promotions in advance of publication on so-called mommy blogs. Besides addressing some of their concerns in the book, Duran gave the blogs exclusive content to encourage them to spread news of his book virally. See: Advisor Spotlight: Diane Pearson is building Legend Financial with sensitivity to women.

Write your own preface

The next wave of “Money Code” readership is expected to come from a roll-out of the books in 35 of the nation’s largest airports during March, April and May.

Duran is also distributing books with customized forwards: Financial advisors who work for United Capital can write a forward to the book and then give the books to clients or prospects. He is even supplying writers to the advisors to help them craft their contributions. The idea is that it looks pretty good for an advisor to be the writer of a forward in a New York Times best-seller.

The book’s fast start has already produced a CNN interview for Duran that resulted in 5,000 people coming to United Capital’s Money Mind exercise on its website. And then hundreds of those people requested information about United Capital, Duran says.

“It’s just brand reinforcement for United Capital,” Duran says. See: United Capital’s Joe Duran throttles back on deals as he opens an RIA version of Hamburger University.

Short, sweet

This is Duran’s third book. He got much help with the first book, “wrote very word” of the second book and poured himself into this one — with big help from Lawrence Ineno.

Duran is a one-finger typist, so he laid out carefully by outline what he wanted to say for a co-writer

“I didn’t want to sit down and hand-type,” he says.

Duran says he’d log 60 to 90 minutes each evening — and on weekends — editing the book to get the right voice. The project began last February.

The book is only 129 pages and never got published in hardback. The idea, Duran says, was to make a reading of the book accessible to the most on-the-go person. “I wanted someone to be able to pick it up and read on the plane from San Francisco to L.A.”

Final Note: Coincidentally, today’s other article gives us another valuable insight into the life of Joe Duran from a former right-hand man, Jason Lahita. See: How my experiences with RIA pioneers, and the love of my mother, inspired me to a different breakaway story.

Mentioned in this article:

United Capital Financial Advisers
RIA Welcoming Breakaways
Top Executive: Joe Duran

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