Following Carson Group’s busy 2018, with predictions of $10 billion in AUM, the acquisition of Jud Mackrill’s marketing firm, Mineral Interactive, and its announcement of an equity model that allows partner firms to exchange equity for Carson capital, the company is signaling a focus on retirement planning with the addition of Jamie Hopkins. Hopkins, formerly a professor in The American College of Financial Services’ retirement income program and a director at the New York Life Center for Retirement Income, has been working with the firm as VP of private client services and director of retirement research, effective January 1.

In an exclusive interview with WealthManagement.com, Hopkins said that his first few months will be focused on investor education. “By being investor focused, I think that helps the profession,” he said. He’ll be doing some research, writing articles, providing input on investor-facing calculators and technology and doing webinars, highlighting the intellectual know-how of Carson’s advisors as they deal with clients entering the “decumulation” side of their financial plan. 

“I’ve been watching what Carson is doing here for a number of years and I’ve been so impressed by the level of professionalism and impact they’re having,” said Hopkins. “It is a movement.”

Hopkins contribution to that movement is starting with his own “grassroots campaign,” according to Aaron Schaben, EVP and managing partner. He’s scheduled to visit partner locations and present research to the communities there, particularly small business owners. Hopkins roadshow will be an educational opportunity, and also a marketing one, where he can help clients and would-be clients understand the benefits and need for financial advice. Hopkins has already written one book, Rewirement, and momentum from the trip could build into a follow-up consumer-focused book or some podcasts, said Schaben.

Hopkins’ background in education will also serve advisors in the Carson network. When advisors “hear something from the very trenches they live in, they let us know and within a couple of days Jamie can have written up an article, we can get it compliance approved and posted to all of our partner websites,” said Schaben.

“You’re never done educating,” added Hopkins. “Now I’m a resource in the retirement area.”

Hopkins has also looking at how to contribute to Carson’s partnership with Omaha-based Creighton University, where the firm is working to encourage students to enter the advisory profession, through education and internships. “I’m not 100 percent sure, yet, what that relationship with me is going to look like,” he said. He said he will continue to push for a certain level of formal proficiency in the profession. “We do need standard education” for advisors so all financial advisors share a baseline of expertise, he noted. “Having a clear commitment to [professional designations and education programs] moving forward is something I’m going to be championing,” he said.

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