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MarketCounsel texts like crazy to get and keep its white hot speakers, Priebus and Scaramucci, nailed down

The speaking time slots for these Trump power brokers are elusive but the boys are coming to Brian Hamburger's Florida event -- perhaps with knives drawn for the DOL rule

Friday, November 25, 2016 – 8:55 PM by Janice Kirkel
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[Brian Hamburger and] Marc Cohen: We nail people down by text message.

Brooke's Note: How do you get something really impressive and power-bending accomplished? You bear down like all holy hell but you do so in a spirit of friendship and flexibility but with all technology that can be brought to bear. We never thought it was an accident that Brian Hamburger and his secret weapon Marc Cohen got Tony Robbins and Mark Cuban to come to his RIA event two years ago. Tony Robbins walks past the close a bit but nonetheless delivers at MarketCounsel We also wondered whether he could ever pull off a similar coup. It could happen. Here is more of the story.

This much we know.

In 2014 it was Mark Cuban, Tony Robbins and Chris Cox. This year, with any luck at all, it’ll be Reince Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci causing seismic shifts at the MarketCounsel Summit in Miami Beach. The DOL rule is DOA -- and that's just the beginning, says RIA champion Brian Hamburger, law school chum of odds-on chief of staff Reince Priebus

Priebus, Brian Hamburger’s law school classmate at the University of Miami, was -- maybe -- the easy get. Scaramucci may have required more of the thumb typing by conference organizer and MarketCounsel chief operating office. “We nail people down by text message,” he says. “It’s a pretty interesting experience considering the power they wield.”

When asked how the back-and-forth went with the two newly minted heavy-hitters would work, Cohen, channeling his Kellyanne Conway, would only say, “These are private relationships. It’s not necessarily appropriate to talk about it. We’ve had regular and consistent contact.”

There are slots saved for the two on Tues. morning Dec. 6 and Wed. 7. But who will show up when? 

Few people know

“Very few people know the specific times,” Cohen said Wednesday. “There are still some potential developments in terms of additions to the conference, because of some recent developments in terms of the regulatory landscape, shifts in the industry and changes we’ve experienced as a country.”

The word was that by the time the turkey platter was bare on Thanksgiving night, the gravy boat emptied and the pumpkin pie just a sweet memory, “we’ll have the final agenda,” according to Cohen. A mobile app will be published Friday morning for all attendees, he says, with the full details of session times and speakers.

What Cohen did reveal is that “the time for any session has not changed since they were confirmed, the times have remained consistent since before the election. We have maintained close contact with them to insure what day it would be and what would be says.

Since the original publication of this article, the answers came clear via downloadable app sent in an email: Scaramucci: 9:45-1030 next Tuesday and then  Priebus and Hamburger: 2:30 p.m. -3:30 p.m. next Wednesday.

Intrusive bill

Cohen says nothing is now set in stone. “We are engaged in active discussions on a regular basis on possible additions to the agenda. If any of those are confirmed, times for some sessions may change. So we don’t want to commit and then change in 24 to 48 hours.

Speaking of change, the fate of the DOL rule likely rests in the hands of these two. Scaramucci, a member of the presidential transition team’s executive committee and the founder of SkyBridge Capital, has called the rule an example of government intrusion and has said it will send too much money pouring into low-cost passive investments like ETF’s. See: 401(k) industry howls as DOL lets state governments become DC providers with advantageous exemptions

SkyBridge Capital manages about $12.5 billion of mostly hedge funds of funds -- in other words the management of ultra-managed hedge funds. DOL rule is generally unfriendly to managers like SkyBridge because its fees tend to be many times higher than ETFs and other passive investments. SkyBridge charges .75% to 1.5% for its part but the hedge funds it manages can have much higher fees, which makes the all-in fee stratospheric by ETF standards.

Goodbye yellow brick road

Scaramucci said at an event in Washington in mid-October that the rule was the “dumbest decision to come out of the U.S. government in the last 50 to 60 years.” He even went so far as to compare it to the 1857 Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case, which held that African Americans were not U.S. citizens. Later on he explained that he had made that analogy because the rule, in his view, is discriminatory, since he feels it is an attempt to put financial advisors out of work.

Scaramucci is one of Donald Trump’s top Wall Street supporters but also involves himself in matters that have nothing to do with dollars and cents. As vice chair of the inaugural committee he recently said that Elton John would play at the inauguration.

John’s spokeswoman, though, said Wednesday that the singer would not be performing at the ceremonies. During the presidential campaign, John supported Hillary Clinton, and even appeared to call her GOP rival a “barbarian.” 

Priebus has already been appointed White House chief of staff. He is seen as a Washington insider whose friendship with House Speaker Paul Ryan will help the Trump agenda on Capitol Hill. He is also viewed as a calming, stabilizing presence for Trump. Priebus stayed neutral when Trump threatened to quit the party and run independently. He also coached the Donald in the art of presidential politics. While he found it difficult at times to defend some of the reality TV star’s more outrageous behavior, he stood by the candidate and urged leading Republicans to as well. See: Abby Johnson wins RIA respect by articulating her bold vision for Fidelity's future at the company's Executive Forum

To illustrate how fleet of foot MarketCounsel has had to be this year, the press release listing the summit participants was issued Nov. 7, listing Priebus as chairman of the Republican National Committee and Scaramucci simply as founder and co-managing partner of SkyBridge.

It says Priebus “will join the Summit to provide attendees with a private glimpse of his role, an after-action review of the recent presidential election, and discuss the polarized political climate.”

What a difference a 3:30 a.m. acceptance speech makes.

Ripeness of time

While the Trump administration takes shape at the top of Trump Tower on New York's Fifth Avenue, with Trump interviewing streams of possible Cabinet appointees, and on YouTube, with videos featuring the president-elect on how he will create jobs, MarketCounsel scurries around in Miami, trying to put the finishing touches on its four-day conference next month, but preparing for 11th-hour changes, and being short on specifics. The firm says this is by no means the latest the schedule has been published – it’s been even later some years, according to spokesman Jason Lahita.

“It’s hard to believe we started nine years ago in a small, nondescript hotel in Tenafly, New Jersey with 25 people, as a compliance workshop,” says Cohen, who then remembered 2014, when Mark Cuban and former SEC Chairman Christopher Cox duked it out in Las Vegas over the future of the agency. Merger and breakaway experts convene near Princeton at old Merrill Lynch lair

“We have gotten more nimble as the events of the year have transpired,” he says. When pressed for specifics as to what topics and guests were originally planned, and which may have been abandoned, Cohen would only say, “We plan two years in advance, plan our themes 10 to 11 months in advance. We pursue them through multiple channels. Most people never know what content falls to the floor. We select 20 sessions and announce the agenda 30 days before.”

The rest of us will only know by what we see.

“The conference itself has followed the path we laid out 24 months ago," says Cohen. "Some [topics] will be presented in a few weeks, others are not being presented. Some are no longer relevant, we’ve closed the door on them as an industry. Others, maybe we’ll bring them out next year if the fruit is ripe enough.”

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