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InsuranceNewsNet: How to build a better business model — with Dean Zayed

InsuranceNewsNet: How to build a better business model — with Dean Zayed


InsuranceNewsNet Magazine – Originally published September 1, 2022 by Paul Feldman

Dean Zayed had what he called “a lightbulb moment” when he realized how many successful advisors had their clients’ best interests in mind but focused only on providing insurance. As an attorney who specialized in estate planning, Zayed had the idea to merge legal advice with financial and insurance advice to form a one-stop shop for those needing help in planning their financial future.

Zayed is the founder and CEO of Brookstone Capital Management. Brookstone has gone through a number of changes in recent years, first partnering with AmeriLife in 2019 and, about a year later, with FormulaFolios, resulting in what is now a more than $8 billion company.

A self-professed lifelong learner, Zayed started out with a B.A. in economics from Northwestern University, then obtained his juris doctor degree from Northwestern School of Law. Zayed also obtained a master’s degree in taxation from Chicago-Kent College of Law and is a Certified Financial Planner.

Brookstone forged strategic relationships throughout the country with independent investment advisors who affiliate with Brookstone as investment advisor representatives. Brookstone provides a large array of investment options and vehicles to create model portfolios that span varying levels of risk. Through its network of IARs, Brookstone provides comprehensive financial planning, including asset allocation, retirement planning, education planning and portfolio management, and offers a one-source solution for the management, growth and preservation of its clients’ wealth.

In this interview with publisher Paul Feldman, Zayed describes how the vision he formed early in his legal career led to the founding of a financial planning powerhouse.

Paul Feldman: You started out as an attorney. How did you get into the insurance industry?

Dean Zayed: I had a vision early on as a young attorney to incorporate financial services side by side with an estate planning law firm. Essentially, I was an estate planning attorney and tax lawyer who dealt with high net worth clients. There’s a lot of overlap between estate planning and financial and retirement planning. The overlap of these disciplines really interested me and led me to think there’s probably a better business model out there to provide more coordinated and uniform advice across the disciplines with one common set of professionals.

I had this entrepreneurial idea that maybe lawyers and financial advisors could work together in what I called a “multidisciplinary practice.” That’s fancy language for saying let’s have a one-stop shop of professionals that can coordinate the most sophisticated advice that transcends different disciplines.

Feldman: You went from this idea of a “multidisciplinary practice” to becoming interested in the registered investment advisor side of the business. How did that transition occur?

Zayed: My personal practice really had the seeds of the Brookstone RIA world that came later. I built a personal practice within this one-stop-shop business model, side by side with the law firm, as an advisor who had access to the entire universe of vehicles.

It was really all about providing the most sophisticated advice and having access to the entire universe of financial services, products and vehicles in order to provide what would be in your client’s best interest — whether that was insurance products or managed money or broker-dealer products. Over the next six or seven years, I had a lot of success providing advice to clients. Our client retention rate was basically 100%.

When you blend insurance products with more traditional fee-based managed money — those vehicles that most clients are used to, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and so on — that is a powerful combination.

I came to know successful insurance agents in the industry by networking and going to conferences. These agents had their clients’ best interests at heart but were focusing only on insurance.

That was a lightbulb moment.

I thought “Boy, this whole side of the industry needs a partner, a platform. If I can help incorporate the RIA side of the business into their insurance-only practice, that would be a powerful combination, and everybody would win.”

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