You're A Financial Planner; Now What? http://financialplannerpodcast.com Exploring the world of financial planning Tue, 14 Aug 2018 13:14:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/cropped-Site_Icon-32x32.png You're A Financial Planner; Now What? http://financialplannerpodcast.com 32 32 Hannah Moore, CFP® interviews influential financial planners and explores topics relevant to those starting out as financial planners. From designations, to business models to the history of financial planning, find the resources and knowledge that you need to be a successful financial planner. Join Hannah as she explores the world of financial planning and finds resources and tools to help you become the best financial planner you can be. Hannah Moore clean Hannah Moore hannah@guidingwealth.com hannah@guidingwealth.com (Hannah Moore) 2016 - 2018 Exploring the world of financial planning You're A Financial Planner; Now What? http://fpaactivate.org/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/YAFPNW_2017_Album_Art_large-757.png http://financialplannerpodcast.com hannah@guidingwealth.com Weekly Starting an RIA Serving the Next Generation http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-starting-an-ria-serving-the-next-generation/ Tue, 14 Aug 2018 13:14:36 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11557 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-starting-an-ria-serving-the-next-generation/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-starting-an-ria-serving-the-next-generation/feed/ 0 Steven Fox, CFP®, founded his fee-only financial planning firm, Next Gen Financial Planning, in 2016. As a business owner, Steven has learned to serve a wide range of millennial clients. He practices on a unique model of wealth management that focuses on managing student loans, getting started with investing, and more. Steven Fox, CFP®, founded his fee-only financial planning firm, Next Gen Financial Planning, in 2016. As a business owner, Steven has learned to serve a wide range of millennial clients. He practices on a unique model of wealth management that focuses on managing student loans, getting started with investing, making employee benefit selections, negotiating salaries, combining finances with a new spouse, and more financial planning topics that resonate with his millennial audience.

Steven uses a simple, flat-fee monthly retainer for financial planning with additional investment management (at no additional charge). Many millennial-facing advisors have walked away from the traditional AUM method of charging – and Steven is here to attest to the benefits of flat-fee financial planning.

In this episode, Steven is going to cover everything from the mindset shift that took place when he became a business owner, how he markets a millennial-facing practice, and what he values as a financial planner.

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I don’t have a line script that I follow word-for-word. I just like to talk to people like they’re people. -Steven Fox, CFP®, EA on #YAFPNW

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What You’ll Learn:

      • What books to read as a new RIA owner
      • How to market your millennial-facing RIA
      • The difference between charging a flat-fee for financial planning, and how that looks in practice
      • How to “sell” through honest communication
      • How financial planning impacts younger clients

 

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Show Transcript

Ep111 Transcript


Hannah: Well thanks Steven for joining us today.

Steven: Thanks Hannah, I’m excited to be here.

Hannah: Yeah, you are the founder of Next Gen Financial Planning out in San Diego. What inspired you to get into financial planning and to really start your own firm?

Steven: To start financial planning in the first place. Like most people in our industry, I came from somewhere else. I was doing something else and I was a career changer into this. I think very few people start out with the intention of going into career and financial planning and so for me before doing financial planning it was the Marine Corps. I was in for about eight and a half years and I loved being a marine and doing that work. I had a lot of different jobs and different types of units that I was in. I got to travel around a lot. I loved all the guys I was in in my different units but I realized that I didn’t want to do it forever. I wanted more control over the direction of my own life which you don’t really have in the Marine Corps if you’re told to deploy somewhere you go deploy somewhere. If you’re told you’re going to go to this unit and do this type of work then that’s what you’re going to do. I wanted to have more control over what I’m doing in my own life.

I also wanted to, I knew that I wanted to start a family someday and be able to hang out with my wife and future kids so that was important to me. I ultimately decided to get out after about eight and a half years. My last duty station was at Camp Pendleton which is near San Diego and I loved the city, I knew that I probably wanted to stay here forever. My girlfriend at the time Michelle who’s now my wife she also loves San Diego and if I wanted to leave elsewhere she probably wouldn’t have gone with me so staying here was a pretty easy choice.

Ended up going to school at San Diego State University because their business college had a pretty good reputation and because they also had a pretty large veteran population there so I thought that I would fit in a little bit better than some other universities that didn’t have that element. I initially wanted to be a finance major just because I had always been interested in finance and economics and those types of topics and as I was going through their finance program, I was I think less than a year in when I was at a meeting for a student group, they’re called Finance Investment Society and they would bring in speakers that work in all different areas of finance and one time they brought in a guy who was a financial planner for a local firm.

Once I heard him talking about working with individual clients and the impact this his work had on their lives and the types of stuff he could help them with I realized that that was the career choice for me. I didn’t know that that was a thing that existed that you could do with helping individuals with personal finance stuff and I just loved the idea right from the start as soon as I heard him talking about that. I got really, really lucky in that SDAU actually has a really good financial planning program where I was able to switch my major over to that and then take the CFP exam right out of undergrad. They also had a student chapter of the FPA there that I got actively involved with right away. I got involved with our San Diego chapter of the FPA. Met a lot of awesome people there that helped bring me in and it was a pretty easy choice to go to that career field. I was lucky that I found it when I was in a year through of school.

Then as far as starting my own firm, I think the first time that that crossed my mind was probably only a few months after I heard from that guy I mentioned at the FIS meeting. I was at a meeting of the San Diego FPA and we had Bob Veres come in to talk to us about the future of the financial planning profession. I went up to talk to him afterward to ask him a couple questions and he mentioned that I would probably be interested in this new group that had just started up called the XY Funding Network. I went to their website, started reading what they were all about. I think they were only, I don’t know six months old or something at the time and when I was reading about the types of support that they offered and stories of other people that were starting their own firms, I decided again very quickly, very easily that this is something I wanted to do.

I started working at Met Life in their financial planning division to start getting some experience while I was in school but I knew right away that I wanted to start my own firm. I wanted to have the opportunity to work with people that I wanted to, to do things the way that I wanted to and using the tools that I wanted to use. I wanted to be responsible for my own success or failure so I didn’t even have to think about it very much, I just knew that I wanted to start my own firm instead of working for somebody else.

Hannah: There’s so much here that I want to ask you about and I will. Career changers, I especially like career changers because I think they bring such unique skill sets into the business and into financial planning because of what they did in the past. How did your military experience really influence, how does in influence your work as a planner? What did you learn from that experience that makes you a better planner that somebody without that experience maybe wouldn’t have?

Steven: I think the first one that comes to mind is my time in the military exposed me to a lot of people who came from very, very different backgrounds than what I did, had very different personality types and learning to work well with people who are very different from myself I think has been useful when I start dealing with clients who of course are not going to have the same personality or skills or interests that I do. Not that they don’t communicate in the same way. I think that’s the first thing that comes to mind that useful from the military.

The second would be I’ve lost some of it now but I did help develop some sense of personal discipline, of sticking to the things that I say I’m going to do and working hard and staying focused on the mission. There have been sometimes where I’ve definitely failed to do that but overall I think the Marine Corps had a big positive influence on me in that way as well.

Hannah: Yeah, I’m always interested to seeing how people use their first career to leverage their second career in financial planning.

Steven: Yeah, it’s not the kind of thing where I developed, there are no, none of the technical skills of financial planning came from the Marine Corps. I wasn’t when I’m in the field playing with machine guns or something I wasn’t learning about the tax code. That’s not how it worked. It didn’t help me at all in that way. It didn’t help me develop any contacts that have been useful in my career. I didn’t really get any direct experience but it helped develop me as a person. I left the Marine Corps being far more mature and thoughtful than I was when I went in, a lot more focused. I think it helped me in those ways even if they weren’t directly related to financial planning.

Hannah: Are you still involved in the military in any way through financial planning?

Steven: I am not active duty anymore and I’m not a reservist so I am completely out of uniform, have been for about five and a half years now. It was January of 2013 when I left and so officially I’m completely out of the military. The only way that I am involved now is through a non profit organization called Financial Independence Training which is a group that helps to improve this idea called readiness within the military. We have a lot of military bases here in San Diego and one really big problem among military personnel that most people aren’t aware of is the fact that they have tremendous personal financial issues. There’s this concept of readiness in the military which refers to your ability to deploy and do your job. Some of the most important components of readiness are things like do you have the equipment you need to do your job? Do you have the training? Are you physically fit? Do you have medical issues? Are there disciplinary issues? Those are the biggest components that people think of in terms of your readiness to deploy and do your job.

The number one cause for a lack of military readiness and the ability to deploy is actually personal financial issues and a lot of people even inside the military don’t realize that and it’s especially true for young military personnel but really it’s a problem all the way up and down the chain. What we’ve been doing with that organization last few years is doing one on one sessions at local military bases that we call financial readiness clinics or personal financial planning days which is where I’ll just get together, maybe one or two dozen CFP’s from our local FPA chapter and we will have one on one meetings with marines from a local unit at one of our bases here. Usually they’re about 20, 30 minutes and the financial planner will counsel that marine on whatever they have questions about and hopefully help to have an impact with solving their problems so that they have less stress in their life and they’re better able to deploy and do their job or they’re able to exit the military and return to civilian life being better financially prepared to do so.

Besides those one on one sessions, we also teach classes and we do some consulting with leaders of military units who create some educational materials from our website so we’re trying to help solve that problem to the extent that we’re able to have an impact on it, we’re trying to do so.

Hannah: That program existed before you came around or did you help create that program?

Steven: It was initially created by a guy named David Block who is a former army officer who retired and became a financial planner and then retired from that and now he’s the primary driver of everything that we’re doing with FIT here. He started it I think in 2013 or 14. I met him in early 2015 and I’ve been helping him out with it ever since.

Hannah: Well it’s so neat to see even just that giving back element. I know that’s a huge deal for a lot of new planners is how do we give back to where we came from. That’s exciting to hear.

Steven: Yeah, I think that’s one great way to do it. There are a lot of people out there that have needs in this area and military personnel are one example of a group that has a significant need there. We actually have a lot of support resources for our volunteers that we’re starting to try and expand to other FPA chapters and other military bases around the country so we can have a bigger impact in what we’re able to do with the few bases here in San Diego. Some of the things we do are we have handouts that we give. I’ve given classes to our volunteers. A lot of our volunteers are worried that they don’t know enough about military personal finance issues like the blended retirement system or the savings plan or the military benefits when you deploy, things like that. We try and give classes to our volunteers so that they’re able to have a little more confidence providing guidance to these marines during the one on one sessions.

Really most of the things that they have questions about are things that most CFP’s are way more than qualified to be able to talk to them about like basic stuff infesting and credit scores and managing cash flow. It’s generally pretty basic stuff that they need help with. Anything that financial planners think that they can help with, they’re probably able to have a much bigger impact than they think they can.

Hannah: We sometimes forget how much we know.

Steven: Yeah it’s usually very basic stuff they want help with.

Hannah: Your firm is Next Gen Financial Planning and you go on your website and you talk about how you differ from the traditional model of financial planning with how you work with your clients. Its always exciting to me when I hear somebody who discovers financial planning and then has this vision for what they want to do that’s maybe not influenced by people who’ve been in the industry for five or 10 years themselves. Did you initially have that vision for serving younger clients right away?

Steven: Yes, I wanted to do that from the start for sure. That’s a big part of why I started my own firm is because I wanted to work with people I could more closely relate to and I thought most of our industry tended to ignore and there was a significant need there. I thought it was more fun too just to be able to work with clients who have, they tend to have more dynamic lives. For most older clients, there really isn’t a whole lot changing in their life in any given year unless maybe they have some kind of big health issue or maybe in the year that they retire. For the most part from year to year there isn’t a whole lot going on in their life. When you’re dealing with somebody in their 20’s or 30’s, there tends to be a lot more going on. They’re getting married or divorced, they’re having kids, they’re starting businesses, they’re changing jobs, they’re moving across the country. There’s a lot more going on in their life and a lot more opportunity for us to provide guidance that can be meaningful, substantial to them. A lot more opportunities to have an impact. It’s also more fun to work with those people I think.

Hannah: When you started out, did you know how you wanted to serve them? Did you have an idea of how you charge, how you structure your business or was that a process of discovery for you?

Steven: I had an idea and it’s definitely changed along the way. I didn’t get it right from the start for sure. I’m not sure that I have it perfectly right now but I am definitely changing and learning as I go along.

Hannah: That’s a great part of being a business owner right?

Steven: Yep.

Hannah: There’s always an evolution of it. You talk about being different than the traditional model of financial planning. How do you define that for your clients? When you serve them, how is what you do different than the traditional wealth management firm besides answering their phone call or taking them on as a client.

Steven: Yeah, working with them in the first place is one thing but I think really the most important elements are exactly the same it’s not that millennials are some weird alien breed that nobody understands, they’re just people. It’s really mostly the same. It’s still about listening to the client, learning about what they’re trying to accomplish, what they’re excited about, what they’re afraid of, what’s most important to them and then you create and carry out a plan to help them. There’s the most important things are exactly the same regardless of who you’re working with. What is a little bit different about serving younger clients is the topic areas that they typically need help with.

I don’t really have any questions that I get about Social Security or pensions or Medicare or generating retirement income or managing a large portfolio or complex estate planning. That stuff is not really on my radar at all like it is for most financial planners. Instead, I’m helping with areas like managing student loans for medical school or law school or grad school. Getting started with investing, what type of account they should be contributing to. Making employee benefit selections, negotiating salaries or making career decisions. Combining finances with a new spouse, questions about managing cash flow or spending plan, improving credit scores, maybe starting a business. A lot of these areas, most financial planners tend to avoid them because they just haven’t been a major concern for their older and wealthier clients. For the folks that I’m working with who are maybe 30 years old it does matter a lot. These are the things that are absolutely top of their mind.

Hannah: For the older planners and traditional wealth management model it’s AUM is how you get paid. How do you get paid for your services?

Steven: I have a monthly retainer, a simple flat fee. For most folks, it ends up being around 3,000 per year and it’s split up into monthly payments and then we adjust up or down depending on the complexity of a person’s case and how much work I expect to be doing for them. Then for those folks who want it, investment management is also included at no additional charge. I have no minimum account size, no percentage based fees.

Hannah: What does your ideal client look like? What is a normal client for you?

Steven: I think median age is probably mid 30’s or so. They usually have almost no investible assets. They’re just getting started with that. They often times have big student loan debt from medical school or law school or grad school or something. Maybe they’ve recently been married or they’re considering getting married soon, they have no idea how to combine finances with a spouse, they’re scared of that. A lot of them are worried about things like maybe buying a house, starting a business-

Hannah: What’s their income range usually?

Steven: I think median income is probably around 150, 175, something in that range, median household income. Some are as low as zero, someone that’s starting a business right now, they have zero income. Some are as high as I think highest is maybe 400, 450 I think household income. There’s a fairly wide range and that’s one of the factors that I consider when I figure out how much I should charge them is I don’t want to exceed too high of portion of their income that it becomes burdensome to be able to pay me.

Hannah: When you look at the traditional wealth management clients, it very much one client has, you charge 1% AUM and they have $2 million, well you have $20,000 of revenue now. That’s a lot different than $3,000 of revenue a year for a client.

Steven: Sure.

Hannah: It seems that scale is really important and that marketing to try to bring people in is really important. Have you found that true with your business?

Steven: Yeah, the cost of acquiring each client is important to be aware of and to improve where you’re able to and then also having efficient ways of serving each client is important as well.

Hannah: Okay, let’s talk about cost of acquisition for clients because I don’t hear financial planners talk about that very often.

Steven: Right now my average cost of acquisition is around 400 to 450 per client. It’s gone up and down depending on different things I’ve done over different time frames but that’s about what it is.

Hannah: You’re able to measure all of your marketing. Is all of your marketing targeted to where you can measure it I’m assuming then?

Steven: I can’t always measure the difference between channels so the way I come up with that average cost of acquisition is I look at what’s my total marketing spend and the total number of people who end up signing. It’s tough to evaluate each individual channel. For example, one big channel for acquiring clients for me is referrals from other financial planners who I’ve gotten to know through FPA or elsewhere that they serve different target markets and when they come across someone who’s a good fit for me they send them over. I didn’t really spend any dollars to make that happen, it’s just that I spent time. It builds up on its own over time as I’ve developed those relationships.

Then other things are a little bit more able to be measured. For example Yelp advertising. I know I’m spending there each month and about how many prospects I get so it’s a little bit more clear on the cost of acquiring each client. Even then it’s still a little bit challenging because people don’t always know where they find me. I ask that every time someone schedules a meeting. It’s part of the form that they fill out when they schedule a meeting is where did you find us and sometimes people say, they’ll just write I don’t know or they’ll say internet. That’s not really very helpful when you’re trying to evaluate the effectiveness of different marketing channels but to the extent that I’m able to figure it out, I do.

Hannah: I’m fascinated by marketing. I’m just drawn to it. What stood out to me is that if you do marketing well almost everything can be measured. There’s things like you’re saying your time, you can’t but if you spend dollars on marketing you should be able to measure returns on those dollars. It’s really cool to hear you talking about that and in those terms.

Steven: Yeah, I don’t know that I’ve cracked the code and have a handle on it 100% but it’s definitely on my radar and something that I try to be aware of and I am planning on expanding some paid marketing channels including social media advertising and for that type of stuff it should be much easier to directly measure the impact. That’s one of the reasons I’m interested in that channel because I can measure the effectiveness very clearly.

Hannah: Right, and then you can scale it or not or one thing I know we talked at Next Gen gathering and one thing that just stood out to me when we were having this conversation is really how you viewed being a business owner. You’re obviously a planner but you also take a lot of pride in being that business owner. What does that transition look like for you?

Steven: You’re certainly right that I am taking two dual pathways at once right now of being a business owner and being a financial planner and I think there are pathways that have very different acquired skill sets, different mindsets, different daily activities that I should be doing each day and I’ve recognized for a while now that if I want to reach my full potential of being as good as I possibly can be at something, if I’m continuing down those two pathways at the same time I’m never going to reach that full potential. I’m only going to become moderately good at both of those areas at best. I’ve been starting to think more and more about which pathway do I want to focus on and how do I make that transition into focusing on that pathway. I’m realizing more and more that as much as I do enjoy meeting with individual clients and doing the work of financial planning, I think I would prefer to focus on the business management side and so the idea now is that I’m going to stop taking clients that I individually serve once I hit a certain cap and then past that point only send them over to, I’ve already brought on one financial planner to my team and I’m going to be bringing on others over the next couple years.

As future clients come on, send them over to those people to work with and that way I can focus on things like marketing or operations or compliance or recruiting and training employees or other aspects of managing the business because those are very different things than having client meetings every day. It’s totally different skill set and I don’t want to be mediocre at a lot things, I want to be really good at a few things and I think this is one step towards helping me get there.

Hannah: Did this surprise you?

Steven: I kind of knew ahead of time before I started my firm that I would ultimately run into this problem and that I would want to choose one path or the other. I did not know which path it was going to be and that’s what I’ve used the first two years of running my business to help figure out is which side I enjoy more and which one I think I have the higher potential for to be good at.

Hannah: You gave a couple examples in there of the business owner side versus the financial planner side of the business and when you start out on your own business you basically do everything. How is your time split especially in the first year of owning your own business?

Steven: Time is split between whatever feels most urgent that day. I did not do a very good job in the beginning of allocating a set number of hours towards specific areas depending on the importance. I felt like everything was on fire, I had no direction. I was terrible at managing that in the beginning. I’m still not great at it but I’ve come a long way. Yeah, you’re right you’re responsible for everything. I’m compliance, I’m marketing, I’m sales, I’m financial planning analysis, I’m meeting with clients. I’m the IT guy when the printer breaks, I’m the janitor. I have to do everything in the business and I think I’ve done a much better job now of keeping track of what are the most important things that I want to focus on. I have a weekly meeting with myself where I look over what went well or poorly over the last week and what are the key things that I have to accomplish next week.

Each day when I have my to do list, I have a couple things on there that are must dos, the first things that I do during the day and if those initial key things get done then I feel like I’ve had a successful day. Anything that I’m able to do after that is just icing on the cake. As long as I focus first on the things that are most important to my business or to my clients, then I feel like it’s a win. That took me a little while to learn. I would have to do list that was 60, 70, 80 things long. It just gets bigger and bigger and bigger and then I look down the list and it gets overwhelming and I would look at, okay well this list is crazy long. I need to get some stuff done so I would just go through the list. That looks easy, boom that one’s done 15 minutes later. Look down the list again, okay that one looks easy. Let’s do that. That would not result in the most important things getting done it would result in more things getting done. That’s not the idea approach. I need to focus on the most important things getting done first.

Hannah: Well gosh, there’s my takeaway from this podcast. That’s a great piece of just productivity advice.

Steven: Yeah. That’s been helpful for me so I feel like even if I’m not chugging along at full speed I’m at least heading in the right direction is how I think of that. Going full speed is important too. You need to be effective and efficient but doing the right things is more important than doing a lot of things.

Hannah: Do you have really clearly defined business goals that you’re shooting for?

Steven: Sometimes. Not always.

Hannah: How have you approached the idea of business goals?

Steven: I’ve tried setting goals in terms of number of client meetings or amount of revenue or trying to set different metrics and I don’t think that’s very effective for me. I try and track activity rather than results and I try and think of success as being in terms of activity rather than what happens as a result of that activity because I can’t always control the outcomes of what I do. I can control what I do and how well I do it but I can’t always control the outcomes. There are a lot of factors that are just not within my control. That’s the way that I think about how well I’m doing or how well I’m not doing and as far as specific business goals, no I don’t really think about it like that anymore. I know what I ultimately want to build and what it looks like but there aren’t really numbers attached to it of, I want to have X numbers of employees with X revenue serving X number of clients. I don’t think about it in terms of that. I think more about what are we actually doing and how are we doing it.

Hannah: Let’s go back to your career story and being a financial planner. You ended up graduating school, working at Met Life. How long were you at Met Life for before you started your own firm?

Steven: It was about a year and seven months. I think it was July of 2014 to December 2015.

Hannah: At what point did you feel confident that you had the skill set to be a great planner and run your own firm?

Steven: You know I’m still not sure that I have supreme confidence in that but-

Hannah: It’s always this catch 22 question.

Steven: Yeah. I think really from the start. I was never the type who was really worried about looking dumb in front of a client or that I didn’t know everything I needed to know. I knew from the beginning I was lucky enough that I worked for a guy who taught me this. I knew that I don’t have to know everything about everything to be able to provide a valuable service to a client. Really, the minimum that you have to know is just more that the client does to be able to provide some kind of value to them. Of course you want to know way more than they do and help as much as you can but you don’t have to be an expert on everything and besides that you can’t be an expert on anything. There’s just way too much to know.

I was never the type who was really nervous to deal with clients in the beginning. I know that’s a problem for a lot of young financial planners but I was just lucky enough that it wasn’t for me. I knew before I even started there that I wanted to start my own firm ultimately and because I knew that going in I tried to expose myself to as many different areas of their business as I could to just get some minimal level exposures that I’m aware that that exists, that that’s a thing you should be doing and looking at and being aware of. I think that was pretty helpful to me.

Hannah: One of the other things a lot of new planners struggle with is the idea of sales and bringing on new clients. Was that a struggle for you?

Steven: Oh yeah, I’m glad you brought that up. That was actually my biggest fear as I was starting my own firm is I had zero experience with sales at all. I know to an extent every conversation you have with everybody is a sales conversation to some degree. I understand that mentality but I had never been in a position where I had to convince somebody to pay me money for my product or service outside of some random online marketing stuff that had done on my own and wasn’t dealing with people one on one. I didn’t get any sales experience in the Marine Corps. When I was at Met Life I was not in a sales position there. I was doing financial planning support work. I didn’t even have a whole lot of opportunity to talk to clients one on one. That was my biggest fear as I was starting my own firm was even if I get technological good at doing financial planning you have to find people to do financial planning for and convince them to pay you for it. That was my biggest fear and probably my biggest limitation over the first year or so of running my business.

I had been hoping that I would grow by an average of maybe 1-1/2, 2 clients per month and let’s see, firm launched in June of 2016. At the end of that year, six months later I think I was at about four or five ongoing clients. There was some hourly work but it was only about four or five ongoing clients. Then at the one year mark, by June of 2017 I think I was at maybe about 10 or so, nine or 10 and then by the end of 2107 at one and a half years I was at 15 people and then in the seven months since then, I’m at like 34 or 35 people or something. It’s been way higher growth this year and at the tail end of last year and what turned it around for me was a couple different things.

One, I hired a sales coach, a local guy here in San Diego who was very good at what he does and helped me to develop a clear system to the way I approach sales conversations. Also changed the way I think about sales a little bit. It doesn’t necessarily need to be, it doesn’t need to feel slimy like you’re manipulating people’s emotions or thoughts. It’s really just having a conversation about what they need and you saying, “Okay, cool. This is what I can do for you and what I can’t do for you,” and letting them make a decision and learning how to address some of the objections they might have going into it and learning to identify different personality types and relate to those people more.

Working with that sales coach helped a lot. I read a few books that really helped a lot on that front and then I also went through a course, an online video course with a small group run by Nancy Bleeke called Genuine Sales. That was really helpful for me too. Going through those things really changed the way that I approached sales and gave me a lot more confidence that it is actually something I can do and now I feel fortunate that that’s not a concern at all for me in my business. I know I can get more clients whenever I need to and the concern has started to become am I taking on the right clients for me for the long run and how do I effectively serve these people and manage growth to not be too fast and create issues because a few months ago that was a big issue for me. I was taking on too many people per month. Four, five, six, seven and it was creating problems and I wasn’t giving the service that everyone deserved because I had too much on my plate at once.

Hannah: You talked about your working with that first sales coach. Do you have a script that you work on? How does that work preparing for sales conversations?

Steven: Yeah, he tried to get me to create a script and I didn’t really want to because I didn’t want the conversation to be about me. One thing that I had to learn is that I need to really just shut up and listen and see what it is that they need and talk about all the things that they want to hear from me. There are a few key things that you have to cover with every new prospect but for the most part I should only be addressing the things that they want to hear about and I need to make sure that I’m listening to, reading between the lines and understanding what it is that they’re really asking and what’s going through their head and what do they need from me. I think that’s been the biggest thing and having a script doesn’t really go along with that. I was never one to take that approach of having a script.

I do have a rough outline of the way I want to guide the conversation and I have a few specific lines that I like to use that tend to get pretty good conversations going with people but I don’t have a line by line script that I recite word for word. I just try to talk to people like they’re people.

Hannah: Right. Do you have an example of one the of the questions that you like to use?

Steven: Questions that I like during prospect meetings, sure. What’s the best decision you’ve ever made about money or what’s the worst financial decision you’ve ever made? That often leads to a pretty good conversation for them. If we’re sitting here together a year from now and you’re saying, “Steven this has been the best thing ever. I’m so happy I hired you. You’re an amazing financial planner,” I ask what has to happen between now and a year from now for you to be telling me that. That opens up some insight into what it is that they actually really need. Also sets the stage for the expectation that I do like to work with people over long periods of time, that it’s not a transactional thing where I give you this 200 page binder full of charts and graphs and that we’re done. It’s financial planning is an ongoing process and it helps reinforce in their mind that them being happy is my most important consideration so I like asking that question.

Hannah: You had mentioned a couple of books that were really helpful for you?

Steven: The single best sales book that I read was The Ultimate Sales Machine and then I’ll plug Nancy Blakey again. Her book, I think it’s called Conversations That Sell. That one was really helpful too especially in understanding the different personality types of people. She groups them into four categories and that was really helpful in helping me understand how to best relate to people and meet them where they are, communicate with them and in the way that they want to be communicated with instead of forcing my way of doing things onto them. Conversations That Sell and The Ultimate Sales Machine are two good ones on that topic.

Hannah: We’ve talked about working with younger clients, are there any stories that you’re comfortable with sharing with about your ideal clients and really the impact that financial planning can have on their lives?

Steven: When I think about the impact that financial planning can have on a client the first person that comes to mind is actually someone I took on who was not in my target market at all but I decided to work with her because she clearly needed a lot of help and I knew that there was a lot I could do to help her. I was willing to take her on even though she wasn’t exactly what I was looking to work with. Also, it was only something like seven months in my business so I needed really any client that I could get as long as I knew I could do what they needed me to do.

I took her on. She was a 65 year old woman who was, her husband died around 15 years prior and since that time she had been having a lot of personal struggles and financial struggles as well and one of the problems that she was having was she had an enormous fear of spending money on anything at all. She was letting bills go unpaid, she was scrimping every single place that she could and had tremendous fear around anything related to money. She was actually a millionaire. She has a net worth of something like 1.2 million but didn’t know that and was completely disorganized around money. Some of the things that we helped her with were finishing the paperwork to finish processing a payment from the state of California that they were holding onto from an insurance policy that her husband had had when he died around 15 years prior. It was several hundred thousand dollars that she didn’t even know she had coming to her she didn’t know how to go through that claims process. We finished that up for her.

We looked at investing some cash that she had just sitting there because she had no idea what to do with it. We looked at whether it made sense for her to get a reverse mortgage. What else? Insurance coverages, paying some past due bills, setting up automated transfers between accounts to make her life easier. Showing her some of the long term projections to realize that yes, even if we spend this much per month which is way more than you’re spending now you absolutely going to be okay unless an asteroid hits the planet or something. You have absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Getting her to talk more about what it was that she wanted to do with her life, the things that she most enjoyed and helping give her confidence that it is feasible to do those things. Taking things off of her hands whether it’s stuff that I can do for her or that we can automate or outsource to some other service provider, that’s been really helpful. She just had a tremendous emotional stress around this, around financial stuff and it’s been really rewarding to help her in that way.

Even though she’s not in my target market at all, I recognize that there was a valuable service I could do for her and she’s probably my most loyal client by now. Shed never leave me because what we’ve been able to do for her up to this point.

Hannah: Wow, that’s a really cool story and even just the power of financial planning.

Steven: Yeah. Because of her and a couple other examples, I don’t want to limit myself strictly to working with people in my target market but my target market absolutely is the predominant focus of who I’m serving and the focus of all marketing efforts. In the mean time especially in the early days, I’ve been taking on some other folks too as long as I know I can actually do what they need me to do.

Hannah: Do you have high turnover with clients?

Steven: Higher than I’d like. I’d like zero. I don’t think so high that it’s a big problem. Let’s see, I’ve lost a total of I think six or so recurring clients over the last couple years.

Hannah: It’s always an interesting, you don’t have the stickiness of the AUM for the assets.

Steven: That’s actually one reason why I do manage assets for people that want me to which is mostly people I work with. Even though I don’t charge for it it’s not additional revenue for me, it does help improve the stickiness of relationship and provide an additional service that they appreciate, that they don’t want to take care of themselves. That’s the primary reason I do it.

Hannah: What have you learned about yourself and our profession since you’ve been a planner?

Steven: I think probably the first one that comes to mind is that I’ve always thought of myself as being absolutely terrible at talking to people, very socially awkward. I’m not good at building connections or demonstrating empathy. I think I have a pretty poor level of emotional intelligence. I guess a few ex girlfriends could probably tell you that. I’ve realized through dealing with clients that this isn’t something you have to be born with, it’s a skill that can be learned and it’s incredibly important and also a lot of fun to do so, to put more focus on this. I’m finding that I really enjoy that aspect of dealing with clients even though I sometimes feel like an unqualified therapist when people are crying in my office. It is an area that I can get good at if I keep working at it, and it’s not something I enjoy a lot so that’s probably the biggest thing I’ve learned about myself is that I don’t have to be terribly emotionally stupid and unable to deal with people effectively.

Hannah: How do you get better at that?

Steven: By being aware of what I’m doing and how it’s impacting people. Just paying attention to it and actively thinking about it I think has made me a little bit better. Carefully observing other people who I think are very good at it and the body language that they use or the way that they phrase things or how they listen to people, just paying attention to it I think has been the best thing. I’m not sure that that’s something I could learn in a book or by watching videos, I think it’s just a matter of being aware of it. Knowing what you’re doing and how it impacts others and caring about getting better at it.

Hannah: What have you learned about our profession that you didn’t realize when you were in school learning about it?

Steven: I didn’t realize at first how many different ways there are to do financial planning and how many different meanings there are to the term financial planner. I think that’s probably the first thing is not all financial planners are the same. There’s a huge range out there not just in compensation models but in service models and who you serve what you’re doing for people as well.

Hannah: You talked about looking at the financial planning community, has that been an important element for your development as a planner and business owner?

Steven: Oh absolutely, yes. I mentioned that soon after I found out that financial planning was a thing that existed that you could do, I became involved with our SDSU student chapter of the FPA right away. I became the president of it as soon as I could and got involved with the San Diego chapter as well, went to all their meetings. Started bugging every person that would let me talk their ear off for a while about what they’re doing. That’s been tremendously impactful. We have an awesome financial planning community here in San Diego. Actually I noticed you’ve had a lot of San Diego people on your podcast too, at least four. Was it Taylor Schulte and Jon Luskin and Debra Fox and Mary Beth Storjohann. There are so many people here in San Diego that are really awesome financial planners and surrounding myself with people who are a lot smarter than I am has been really helpful to me as I’ve made this transition to this career field. I still try and do that to the extent that I’m able to all the time.

I’m involved with our FPA chapter now. It’s where I’ve made a lot of friends and learned a lot. I’ve been really involved with the chapter as a whole. I’m the president elect of it right now and I don’t plan on stopping that type of involvement anytime soon.

Hannah: It’s helped you build your business but it’s also helped you be a better planner. Is that fair to say?

Steven: Absolutely, yes. Sometimes it’s just hearing stories about what people do with clients like how they helped them or how they couldn’t help them with something. Sometimes it’s sharing specific problems that I have in my business and they say, “Oh dude all you’ve got to do is this,” and that’s problem solved. You’re like, oh yeah you’re right. That probably would work. Why am I overthinking this? It’s going to be fine. Yeah, it’s been very helpful to surround myself with other people. That was something you asked earlier about stuff I had carried forward from the Marine Corps, I think that’s probably another example of that is back then when I was in uniform too I’d always try to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am and try and learn from them. I’ve done the same thing here and in this career field.

Hannah: What do you wish you would’ve known before entering this profession?

Steven: Probably that I can’t do it all. I’m not Superman. I have limits to my capabilities, to my interests, my time and I can’t just charge through like a bull on a rampage and work my butt off and things magically happen. Maybe that mentality was a bit of a holdover from my time in the Marine Corps too of thinking I could just outwork any problem or outwork any person. Instead I’m realizing now that I need to be a lot more focused on the things that I’m better at or that I most enjoy and learn to count on others to fulfill the functions that I can’t do as well. Don’t do everything, don’t kill yourself trying to. That’s probably the biggest lesson that I’ve learned or the biggest thing that I had known before entering this profession is focus on the things I’m good at or enjoy and that it’s okay to not be Superman.

Hannah: Well as we wrap up are there any other thoughts or anything else that you want to be sure to point out for our listeners?

Steven: Going back to the Financial Independence Training Organization, I think if people are interested in getting involved with that and helping us accomplish that mission, there are a few things that they could do that would be really helpful for the organization as we’re trying to grow. Right now it’s just us with our San Diego chapter volunteers and we bring in some from Orange County and we’re working with local military bases here but we really want to start expanding it nationwide and dealing with the other FPA chapters and other bases around the country. If folks are interested in learning more about how they can help support that, they can go to the website, we have a volunteer page with a ton of info about what we’re doing. If they have any contacts at local military bases to help us get in, if they have interest in taking charge for their chapter of making this happen in your area, we can help them get it started, we can give them handouts that we’ve used and help share lessons about what we’ve learned and run the first event or two with them but it’d be great if we can have a leader and multiple FPA chapters taking charge and getting it done because I can’t just travel around the country and do everything everywhere. We need to have people that are involved in those local areas.

Hannah: That’s great. All that information is in the show notes for anybody who’s interested in knowing more. I think it’s just so powerful, just one conversation can change your life.

Steven: Yeah, we’ve been excited to see the impact that this work can have. We have limited ability to follow up with the marines that we provide counseling for because we don’t collect contact info. We have very strict rules about you’re not there to solicit business, you’re there to provide guidance and advice during your session together. We don’t even have contact info for the marines that we’ve counseled. We do know that we are having some impact because we look at things like the feedback we get from the unit commanders about some of the metrics that they track like number of people who are losing, I don’t know maybe losing security clearances because of credit debt issues or we hear from the personal financial management specialist on each base that they’re getting more appointments scheduled with them of marines trying to learn more about financial stuff. We know that we are having some impact and I want to do what we can to help increase that.

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Steven Fox, CFP®, founded his fee-only financial planning firm, Next Gen Financial Planning, in 2016. As a business owner, Steven has learned to serve a wide range of millennial clients. He practices on a unique model of wealth management that focuses ... Next Gen Financial Planning, in 2016. As a business owner, Steven has learned to serve a wide range of millennial clients. He practices on a unique model of wealth management that focuses on managing student loans, getting started with investing, making employee benefit selections, negotiating salaries, combining finances with a new spouse, and more financial planning topics that resonate with his millennial audience.
Steven uses a simple, flat-fee monthly retainer for financial planning with additional investment management (at no additional charge). Many millennial-facing advisors have walked away from the traditional AUM method of charging – and Steven is here to attest to the benefits of flat-fee financial planning.
In this episode, Steven is going to cover everything from the mindset shift that took place when he became a business owner, how he markets a millennial-facing practice, and what he values as a financial planner.

 

What You’ll Learn:





What books to read as a new RIA owner
How to market your millennial-facing RIA
The difference between charging a flat-fee for financial planning, and how that looks in practice
How to “sell” through honest communication
How financial planning impacts younger clients





 
Volunteer with Financial Independence Training
Conversations That Sell
The Ultimate Sales Machine
 

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Hannah Moore clean 46:20
Internal Succession Plans and a Culture of Success http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-internal-succession-plans-and-a-culture-of-success/ Tue, 07 Aug 2018 19:07:13 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11548 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-internal-succession-plans-and-a-culture-of-success/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-internal-succession-plans-and-a-culture-of-success/feed/ 0 As more established planners plan for their own futures many young professionals are offered a succession plan as part of their career path. In this episode, Connor Koppa, CFP® walks #YAFPNW listeners through what it’s like to be part of a succession plan, what his ownership arrangement looks like at Focus Financial, and more. Many young professionals will one day be offered a succession plan as part of their career path as more established planners plan for their own futures and put a succession plan in place. Only some of these succession plans are successful and many aren’t. Connor Koppa, CFP®, was incredibly fortunate that the financial planner who he worked with at Focus Financial, Kyle Watkins, CFP®, wanted to encourage his dream of owning a financial planning practice.

Together, Kyle and Connor worked through a unique ownership agreement that worked for them. Right now, Kyle is still the Executive Officer and a financial advisor at Focus Financial. Connor now owns 15% of the practice, and takes the lead on client relationships, business structure, and building a practice culture.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have an open, honest line of communication with with the lead advisor and owner of the financial planning practice where they work. In this episode, Connor walks #YAFPNW listeners through what it’s like to be part of a succession plan, what his ownership arrangement looks like at Focus Financial, and more. We hear about succession plans often in this profession, but we so rarely get to peek behind the curtain to see how an individual plan pans out – and this episode gives you that opportunity!

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If another talented individual can come in and improve my weaknesses, and provide something different, I think we’ll all be better off. We’ll have a better chance of growing this into something bigger. -Connor Koppa, CFP® on #YAFPNW

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What You’ll Learn:

      • How to set up a succession plan
      • The best ways to communicate with a firm owner about your desire to own part of the firm
      • How financing works when you buy into a financial planning practice
      • How ownership of clients, business decisions, and more work when there are more than one owner in a practice
      • How to potentially work in future owners into your plan
      • What being a part owner of a financial planning practice looks like in the day-to-day
      • The importance of creating a communicative culture and fostering innovation in your financial planning practice
      • How you can get involved and find fulfillment as a financial planner even if you aren’t interested in becoming an owner

 

How To Think Like An Owner

 

Show Transcript

Ep110 Transcript


Hannah: Well, thanks for joining us today, Connor.

Connor: Yeah. Thanks, Hannah. I appreciate you having me on.

Hannah: Your story is fascinating, because you are 28 right now and you’ve already bought into a practice. Did you ever imagine, when you started your financial planning career, that you would already be owner of a practice by the age of 28?

Connor: No. Not at all. It’s been kind of a fun, but wild journey. Truthfully, when I started with the firm that I’m currently with, I just wanted to be a good financial planner. I was fine just kind of being a part of the team and really didn’t have a concept of what elevating to financial advisor, having my CFP, being a part owner, what all that looked like.

But truthfully, I stumbled into a great opportunity and was provided just fantastic chances to kind of elevate in my own specific career path, and here I am now in my sixth year with this team. As of January 1st of this year, I’m now part owner. So yeah, to flashback half decade or so, no, I never thought I’d be in this situation.

Hannah: Time goes fast in this profession.

Connor: It does. Very much so, yeah. It doesn’t slow down, that’s for sure.

Hannah: When you were first hired, was anything ever positioned about ownership, or was it just, “Hey, I got a good job.”

Connor: It really was just the, “Hey, I got a good job.” Now, to be fair, my partner, whose name is Kyle, Kyle was really good from the outsets of kind of not just saying, “Look, here’s what’s expected of you in your initial role, but here’s effectively the future path that I see in front of you.”

He communicated that there was opportunity here, but it really wasn’t until I reached about the end of 2013, so I would have been on the job I think close to nine months at that point, where he kind of outlined his idea for the future. At the time, I think he was either maybe 52 or 51 and that was the first time that the idea of ownership became a little bit more of a concrete idea versus just something that he was thinking about how to communicate it.

Then shortly around that time, he had actually given me an article I think by Angie Herbers called How to Think Like An Owner. Stupidly, admittedly, I sat on it for a bit. It was just one of those things I was like, “Okay, great. Thanks, and I’ll get around to reading it.”

A couple of months passed and I was kind of stalling out a little bit and I decided to pick that up and that was really what changed kind of my focus. I think in the mid 2014, early 2015, we started having more serious talks about what does that path towards ownership look like?

Hannah: Okay, so I have so many questions for you.

Connor: Sure.

Hannah: Give me a landscape of like what does this firm look like? How big is it? How many clients, how many other advisors? Do you have other staff?

Connor: Right, yeah. Our practice is a team of five right now. We do close to about 120, 130 assets under our management, just depending on how any one advisor will quantify a client or a household. We’ve got anywhere from 150 to 175. How we were structured previously was Kyle owned 100% of this practice as an independent financial advisor, as a registered representative with Royal Alliance who’s our broker-dealer, but then also Focus Financial, which is the firm.

He is one of many different advisors inside the firm. I think there’s about 110 or so advisory practices inside this firm, and Focus as a whole I think manages north of five billion in assets under management. I don’t have the exact figures right in front of me, but we’re probably I would say easily in the top five to 10 as far as total practice size by assets under management.

A lot of the advisors here are kind of just sole practitioners. Us having a team of five, we’re probably in the minority in the sense of team size. It’s the five of us here, and the way that we’re structured right now is we basically have Kyle as the controlling partner, me as the minority partner, and then we have three staff members. One investment specialist, one individual in kind of a paraplanner client service role, and then another individual who’s kind of the Jack of all trades, kind of business operations, first face the clients see when they walk in, that kind of thing.

Hannah: Was anybody else interested in ownership?

Connor: The way that our team is structured, it’s kind of a nice setup with diversity of age. We have me at 28, the individual that works in our paraplanner role, she’s 25, and then the other three team members are north of age 50. Prior to me joining the team, it was Kyle and the investment specialist and then another individual who no longer works with our practice, and they were all right around the same age range.

So, bringing me on infused a little bit of youth and then we did the same with another recent hire. The way that it’s effectively structured here is you have Kyle and I yes as the advisors, then there’s the admins, and then whether or not those individuals were interested in ownership, truthfully, admittedly, I don’t really know.

The conversations never, I believe, occurred with them. From two ways, I don’t know if interest was ever expressed, and then I don’t know if that way in which Kyle has his vision set up for the long-term, those were the right individuals for that. I think it’s really just simply a product of I can be a little tenacious sometimes and I’m sure that maybe gets on his nerves, but I pushed and pushed to have that conversation because I really bought into his vision and what he wanted to do long-term.

He selflessly really gave me the opportunity. Whether other people had that conversation or not, I’m not sure. Whether people want to have into the future, we’re always open to any ideas that increase our talent quotient here at the firm.

Hannah: You keep mentioning Kyle’s vision. What was Kyle’s vision for the firm, or what is Kyle’s vision for the firm?

Connor: Sure. The way that I understand it is we see a lot of the changes that are occurring in the industry when you look at the demographics of the average age of the advisors and what’s changing in regards to how they’re transitioning out of the industry, what amount of talents coming in. But then at the same time, a lot of the pressures with things like topnotch client service, utilizing technology, streamlining investment management and focusing more on comprehensive holistic financial planning.

There’s a lot of just these different headwinds and tailwinds in the industry that’s I think for the first time in a long time and needed, causing some change and some disruption. He saw that really early on and he knows his weaknesses and his limitations, and I think that by him adding me onto the team, we were able to kind of create a nice yin and yang of younger and older experience versus inexperience.

But someone that whereas he can be of the next decade or so phasing into the twilight of his career, he’s now got someone that’s kind of tied to him at the hip to be focused on how do we combat those changes and make ourselves relevant.

His vision really ultimately is to create the one stop shop for topnotch client service and convenience, and to make our value proposition truthfully building of the relationships, understanding what’s best for the clients, and trying to move further and further away from having kind of a singular value proposition just strictly around whether it be investment management or one factor or thought facet of financial planning.

We really want to provide our clients more sticking points to understand the value that we create. You can’t automate trust and I think that that’s where our focus lies is how can we make everything around us more efficient and streamlined in order to provide the best overall experience for our clients.

Hannah: What’s striking to me about what you’re saying is Kyle recognized that he needed to bring in people around him in order to provide that experience for his clients.

Connor: Absolutely.

Hannah: That just seems very counter to what I hear a lot of people say like, “Well, I can build it.”

Connor: Right. I have to give him credit. He’s a fantastic leader and he’s also someone that has zero issue checking their ego at the door. That’s actually been a saying that we’ve kind of tossed around between the two of us for a long time. This isn’t hyperbole. I’ve never had a situation in the six years that I’ve been here where he’s had his door closed to an idea.

I mean, he’s got a very open door policy and he doesn’t want to surround himself around yes men and women. He wants to absolutely be challenged, be brought forth with new ideas. This took me a bit to learn, but he also wants those ideas to have some meat on the bone. If you’re going to present a challenge, present the solution.

Once I figured that out, I think that’s where we really started to gain a little bit of traction. I always joke with him, this whole structure that we’ve got set up, at some point it won’t be begging him to stick around. We’ll probably be forcing him out the door because he’s just looking for every way to make our clients feel more comfortable with us and ultimately have more peace of mind with their financials.

As a way of doing that, he really doesn’t know how to slow down or stop. He really always has kind of the pedal to the metal so to speak. With us, bringing me on and other individuals, he realizes that he needs that kind of counter balance so he doesn’t burn out, so he doesn’t have to feel like he does it all on his own, that he can maybe just be the guy where at the end of the day, he signs off on the idea but the people around him are the breeding ground of great ideas.

He’s leveraging us up to be able to do that and empowering us to do it. I’ve definitely bought into his methodology and he’s very much someone who doesn’t think he knows it all. Now, he also thinks his ideas are the best, but he’ll let himself be challenged on it, right?

Hannah: We all think our ideas are the best.

Connor: Right. I’m the same way. I can’t even fault him for it.

Hannah: That’s great. The advisors or the planners that I just admire the most are the ones who make decisions with the client at the center of that decision, whether that be in how they interact with their clients or how they run their business. That’s a lot of what I’m hearing you say is I want to serve my clients better, so therefore, I have to give up ownership.

Connor: Absolutely, absolutely. That was I think kind of what he maybe realized was he had this unstoppable force, so to speak, kind of brimming and bubbling underneath him saying, let me do more, let me do more, let me do more. But it was never selfishly designed. It was all things that I wanted to do as a way to improve our experience, not only for our clients, but also for our culture.

I’m really big on creating a great environment for a team, and that’s because I luckily was able to learn on somebody the same way. Yeah, you’re totally right. I mean, it’s definitely the client’s experience at the forefront of all of our thought.

Hannah: One of the things that you brought up earlier was this article, How to Think Like An Owner. When you read that article and kind of as you transitioned from just, “Hey, I have a great job,” to now a business owner, what have you learned about what it means to think like an owner?

Connor: Sure. The biggest lesson for me was, because when you’re not an owner, now that I am, it’s a totally different way of thinking. That way of thinking, that door being opened for me wouldn’t have happened had I done the process of trying to think like an owner even prior to having kind of my neck on the line or more for me on the table as far as ownership and control or whatever.

From 2015 on, it was having to kind of through deep practice train myself to literally view almost every decision that I was making, whether it be direct client facing decision in the meeting with the client or it was kind of back office related or tech related or whatever it might be. Every time that I was going through one of those decisions, I had to stop and say like how would Kyle handle this? How would an owner handle it?

Is this a decision that’s worth pursuing further, or is it one that we should stop? Is it costing me time? Is it costing me money? Is it impacting our clients? To do that is a really hard leap to make when you really can’t quantify or understand exactly what it’s like to be an owner. But now with all the operation stuff and understanding more of how to actually run a business, I’ve already got out of the way that methodology of just trying to feel like you actually have skin in the game.

If there was anybody else that would be going through this situation or looking to do so, the best thing you can do is just slowly train yourself to think like an owner, and even if you don’t get that opportunity in the specific job you’re at. I mean, I always reserved myself to saying nothing was guaranteed. What if this never matriculated and Kyle didn’t give me the opportunity or was open to the opportunity of having a partner?

For me, I said to myself, even if it doesn’t work here, all the stuff I’m doing right now is building a skillset for the future. So, that’s probably the biggest thing I learned is just to try to train yourself to literally save for being cheesy here, to follow Angie’s words and think like an owner.

Hannah: Was there any particular decision or aha moment that you had especially at the beginning of that process?

Connor: With like reading the article?

Hannah: Yeah, or thinking like an owner, what in your daily life were you like, “Oh my gosh, I need to think about what I’m doing right now differently.”

Connor: I found that emulation was a big part of success. Whenever I would struggle with something, or I was learning something new, a client calls in and they’re upset about something, or they call in and they’re not upset about anything. It’s even something as simple as wanting to thank us for something, instead of trying to forge my own path, and of course it’s key to be genuine and be your own individual, but I would oftentimes emulate the same things Kyle was saying.

Then before you know it, those were things that I started to believe in more or understand better. It became more of a habit, so to speak. That was probably the aha was when on individual things, where in that moment you felt it go from being something that had historically been a difficult challenge to feeling yourself having mastered that concept.

Emulation was a huge key to that. At 24, 25, 26, you just don’t … No matter how smart you are with this profession, there’s just whole things when it comes to beyond the personalities and personal management and then people management. It’s hard to know exactly the right way to handle stuff. So following someone who had done it and that I respected, I think really paved the path for me to kind of be able to create my own environment where I was able to do the same things but with my own spin, my own flair.

Hannah: One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is, is the goal to be right or is the goal to make progress? We can be right all day long, but that doesn’t mean that we’re actually helping our firm or our clients move forward.

Connor: Absolutely. Somebody once told me, and I hope I don’t butcher this, but that life was three parts, knowing where you came from, knowing where you are, and knowing where you have the potential to go. The reason why you say potential to go and knowing where you have the potential to go versus saying you know where you’re going is that if you already know where you’re going, you’re only going to stay where you are.

I remember that being a huge eye-opener for me at a young age that it doesn’t matter how much experience you have, how old you are, how young you are. None of that matters. It’s truthfully, every day is a learning process. I think that if you focus your direction every day to trying to accomplish something new or be better than the day before, it really humbles you as well because you figure out real quickly that you truthfully don’t know what being right is. I completely agree with you. I think the progress is exactly key.

Hannah: When you go in to buy a firm, can you talk a little bit about the logistics of that? Kyle started the conversation, did you guys use outside consultants to help with this?

Connor: We did. Here’s kind of looking back full circle here. I thought kind of stupidly that I could figure it all out on my own and present him the perfect win-win formula and all the research. You know what? I pursued that and what was actually great about that was I think it softened the beachhead, so to speak, where I presented all this data. I showed him the industry changes. I showed him what a win-win looked like for me.

I was reading every book that I could find on succession planning and listening to every podcast that I could find. I was doing everything. I finally just hit a wall and I told him I said, “I don’t think I can do this, and I don’t think we can do it on our own.” We actually reached out to a third party consulting firm heavily focused on succession planning for financial advisory industry.

We started with them in June of last year. They provided a valuation for Kyle’s business by the end of June I believe it was. Then we spent the remaining part of the year just kind of focused on all the logistics of what does the structure look like for full buyouts by the end of the plan? What are the financials of that? How are we going about obtaining financing?

Everything from writing down a memorandum of understanding, so we have kind of a soft contract between Kyle and I of what’s expected at different times throughout our relationship. Then doing all the legality behind it, setting up the different business entity.

So, all of that took a long time and then admittedly, our busy season because we do a lot of the year end tax planning for our clients, got super, super busy earlier than normal and we kind of stalled out a bit and then wrapped up everything early into 2018. I think it was by the end of March everything was signed and official. We had kind of already been acting in the capacity as partners, but the signatures were on the pages and we moved forward.

Hannah: So, you get the valuation of this firm. Was there a negotiation on the valuation, or did you just kind of take whatever number was handed to you?

Connor: That would maybe be a better question for Kyle, but from my memory, I don’t think there was much in a way of negotiation. I think we felt very comfortable with the valuation that was provided to us. If anything, the negotiation component, which was very minimal in our process, more or less resided in once that we had the valuation was when we had a suggestion from the succession consulting firm as far as what the initial buy-in looked like.

Because you’ve got to look at things like well, I have a lack of controlling interest and lack of marketability, so am I buying 100% of the value? Am I getting a discount? All those different things we wanted to take a look at. That was really where we negotiated, but it really wasn’t much in the way of negotiation. It was him expressing his thoughts and feelings, me doing the same, us using an expert to kind of guide us and meet in the middle.

Hannah: Did you have to put money upfront for the succession plan?

Connor: Yes. The way that we structured it was effectively, I’m utilizing instead of going through bank financing, we decided to do seller financing. Effectively the way that we structured it was there was an upfront down payment and then the remainder being financed over a 10 year period. Then for future business tranches, it just depends on do we utilize an outside form of financing or do we do seller financing again?

In the truest sense, the way that we had it structured was a win-win for both of us. Where it wasn’t all of a sudden overnight, I needed to come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars and then all of a sudden be over leveraged and really risking my own personal finances. It was structured in a way where there was minimal impact unnecessary to Kyle from the perspective of taxes, same for me. Then at the same time, just making sure that he gets full value and that it’s not him stringing me from a daily cash flow perspective.

The structure of all that was the end game. It was kind of us both having to be a little bit more honest and open and kind of vulnerable to say, what are we capable of handling individually, and how do we do this that it not only a win-win for us, but a win-win for the important people in our life, our spouses, our family, et cetera?

Hannah: You guys are at a broker-dealer, right?

Connor: Right.

Hannah: Are you guys doing reps on the accounts, or kind of how have you structured that from a logistic point on the ownership of the clients, if that makes sense?

Connor: Absolutely. That’s a great question. This is where for anyone that’s listening in a similar situation or for anyone interested in this, you know it’s a bit of a leap of faith on my end. What we strongly believe here in our team is kind of the lean methodology process of just more or less trying not to get too caught up in step 10 or 12 steps or whatever it might be, and really just focusing on what’s in front of us and seeing if we can master that.

Initially, admittedly, when there was the idea of okay, now I’m going to be partner, what does that look like for me? Like you said, kind of how the registration of the reps are with both the broker-dealer, accounts on statements, all that fun stuff. It was a bit of myself having to check the ego at the door, and what Kyle and I agreed on was for simplicity and then as I mentioned earlier, kind of keeping the clients in the forethought.

It was a big deal to just bring up the whole concept of a long-term business continuity plan and the succession plans for our clients, to all of a sudden shift them to where my name is showing up on everything and that I own them in the eyes of the broker-dealer just felt like an unnecessary burden potentially for the client. Right now, everything runs up through Kyle. Everything is in his rep code and my name is not tied to any one specific singular client.

From a registration perspective, when we reach, we all have a controlling interest of the firm. That will predictably change, but up until that point, I don’t need my name on anything or sole ownership or anything running up through me to justify what we’ve got going on here. In fact, I would argue that to do so would just be an unnecessary waste of time at this point, because I own the value in the business. Having my name tied to a client specifically wouldn’t …

Yes, you could make the argument that I’m taking a risk there in case anything ever went sour between Kyle and I, but I believe in what we’ve got going on here so much that that was an easy decision for me to make. Not everybody’s situation would be that way.

Hannah: How much of this has been communicated with clients and how did those conversations go?

Connor: Yeah. Another great question. We were really nervous. We thought like this was going to be something that clients, what was their response going to be? They’ve been used to Kyle for years. Older clients that we’ve had in terms of how long the relationship has been with our team, we thought would be a bigger push to kind of get them to understand what we’ve got going on, versus newer clients.

In fact, what we actually found out was a little bit of the opposite. Some of the clients that had been around for 30 years felt that they appreciated that Kyle was doing planning not just for himself, but also putting continuity in place for their relationship. How that started was in 2015, we started communicating with clients, not necessarily that Kyle and I were going through the process of these discussions, but that I would just be getting involved on a more one-on-one basis with them.

Maybe I was doing their client meeting upcoming or if they had a question on a specific topic, I was the leveraged expert on the team for that. Then through that time, I started beginning my own relationship with these individuals. By the time that it rolled around where we were able to communicate it in depth what we’ve got going on and what does that look like for their relationship, we’ve had minimal, if any, pushback from clients.

The only ones that have really had have actually been newer relationships that are still learning our process, so I think it’s less of a pushback of having a succession plan in place, but just more still getting comfortable with everything, that it all of a sudden as it would for anyone, hey I’ve joined on and I’ve got referred to meet with Kyle and he’s great. I’m working with him. Then oh by the way, here’s this communication about changes that could be occurring into the future.

We’ve limited that conversation a little bit, so some of these newer clients that have been referred directly to Kyle, I haven’t been as involved with. But we’ll get them on that same process of communication down the road. But clients that whether they’re our largest, smallest, newest clients, oldest, I mean it really runs the gamut of who they are, that we’ve explained everything to and most people I’d say 99% really have been extremely happy with what we’ve got planned.

Hannah: A lot of newer planners come in and there’s this expectation that they’re supposed to become the rainmaker if they want to buy into a firm, or have a career path within a firm that at some point they have to start bringing in assets.

Connor: Right.

Hannah: Bringing in client relationships. Is that an expectation for you?

Connor: Yes, and no. We don’t want traditional fracture lines in our business, where there’s this expectation of okay, I bring in X, Y, and Z, which again reinforces why everything runs up through Kyle’s rep code or whatever with our broker-dealer is because we didn’t want to have any sort of internal competition.

Now, that’s a great marketing strategy, Kyle, but that’s not for my clients. We didn’t want that. We wanted one team, one vision. Multiple layers of input, sure, but if we’re going to buy into something as a group, we all need to be on board.

So, while there’s an expectation absolutely to grow the business, that was more of a layered expectation I think the last two or so years where I wasn’t an owner and maybe those were different opportunities that were laid in front of me to maybe prove that worth, so to speak, of the ability to go out and gain more clients and build up our business.

But now, and this was I’d maybe referenced earlier, the idea of how to think like an owner changes when you’re an owner. That’s the big change, is that all of a sudden you realize that everything you’re doing, that you had been thinking about potentially impacting you, now is. So, every day you spend making sure that your client acquisition and client retention are at their highest.

Our expectation isn’t necessarily any sort of quota that you need to go out and meet. We don’t want to grow too fast at the expense of our current relationships, but at the same time, we recognize the need to grow and remain consistent in existence in this industry.

If anything, moving forward now as an owner, I think our focus is more or less going to be making ourselves as an attractive team for maybe potential other practice acquisition in the independent financial advisory space, versus going out and trying to develop any sort of method or marketing strategy to try to gain clients on a one-on-one basis, if that makes sense.

Hannah: Yeah, so there’s like no bonus or anything for any clients you bring on or any oddball structure like that?

Connor: No. There was a little bit in the past when I was acting just in an employee role. There was incentives there, but in a strange way, and again, I get not everybody would be wired the exact same way, but for me, I guess I never really looked at it like that. I just looked at it as are these good clients? Are they kind of people that we want on board? Are they going to be fitting our niche? Let’s move forward.

To me, whether the bonus was met or not, it was all kind of that process of am I doing the right stuff for the day to put ourselves in the position to gain good clients? As a result, those bonus incentives luckily for me were met, which was always nice.

But now that I’m an owner, Kyle and I have not sat down and outlined some sort of incentive program or anything that I need to reach. It’s just basically every day coming in here and, as you had astutely pointed out earlier on, focusing on the process and progress more so than any sort of one specific measurement that we are attaining in kind of a tunneled vision.

Hannah: As you progress, is it six years that you’ll be the controlling interest?

Connor: I believe so, yes. It’s the start of 2024 will be when. That’s just the blueprint of the plan. Life may change, but that’s the plan is ultimately for me to switch over to a controlling interest ownership in the year 2024.

Hannah: Then is that every year you gain more shares?

Connor: Right now, I’m currently 15% owner. I stay at that for through 2021 and then in 2021 the plan is for me to acquire another 15% and then between 2021 and 2024 prepare myself to acquire in 2024 21%. It’s actually three tranche purchases versus any one kind of gradual uptake year over year. I’ll stay at 15% from now until 2021, and then switch up to 30% at that time, but it matches …

The reason why we structured it that way is it matches at that time my hours and time in the business will increase as Kyle’s decrease relatively. The idea was by that time, we’ll have been five years into the plan. I’ll now own 30%, but theoretically, he’ll be able to be in the office and involved a little bit less than he is right now.

Hannah: Then for the payment for those future tranches, is it still going to be owner financed or I mean will you do something with your salary?

Connor: That’s yet to be determined. Again, with that lean method where we’re kind of figuring out a lot of stuff that works right now. The processes in place here has worked great so far where it was important for Kyle and I both to not really take a huge reduction in overall gross pay from 2017 to 2018. The way that we structured our first tranche here worked out nicely for that.

When 2021 hits and there’s a reduction in his hours and an increase in mine, we’ll probably change the base compensation for both of us as well there. But then as far as the structure of will we choose to do seller financing or will we choose to use bank financing, I think it will just depend on where we’re at at that time. What we’ve found is a lot of institutions, they wanted us to have a higher amount of ownership for me on the upfront because they didn’t like the idea of underwriting an initial loan lower than $500,000.

When we got that pushback, we just figured yes, it’s different than Kyle getting a duffle bag of cash and instead he’s getting payments per month. But it just was more comfortable for the both of us, versus all set in me getting saddled with unnecessarily high closing costs and interest rates just to make me advantageous or attractive to a third party financier. For future acquisitions, will be a higher theoretical purchase price. I would imagine using some sort of outside financing.

Hannah: Has there been any talk of potential future owners as well?

Connor: Yeah, there has. I’ll be completely transparent here. Like I said, tenacious, but a bit of a control freak sometimes too. When we first set out with this, I was like, “No, I’m going to own the whole thing outright. It’s going to go one to one transition from Kyle to me long-term.”

As I’ve gotten more involved both at the process leading up to the succession and then actually being a partner, there’s a lack of I think really good talents in the industry that also is interested in being an owner. There’s a lot of people I think that are just very good financial advisors and financial planners that they’re in their lane and they’re good with that.

We haven’t really run into a whole lot of people, at least maybe in our sphere that are also interested in hiring and training and managing and focusing on our business bottom line and operations and being up to date on tech and all that other stuff.

If the right person comes along, I think I’d be a fool to not give them the chance to buy into what we’ve got going on here. Because ultimately, if another talented individual can come in and kind of improve on where my blinders are or improve on my weaknesses or provide something different, I think we’re all made better off and we’ll get an even better chance to have this grow into something bigger than if I try to do it all on my own.

I had to have my own process of getting to check my ego at the door, but we have talked about it because we realize there’s good individuals out there that want to do what I’m doing with Kyle and we’d be stupid to not have an open door policy to at least entertain the idea to have them potentially come in and get involved. What that looks like, how that would occur, I mean there’s just so many unknowns there at the time but I think we’re open to the idea if it’s the right fit.

Hannah: How has your day to day changed since being an owner or as you’ve transitioned into that ownership role?

Connor: Yeah. That’s a great question. A lot hasn’t changed, just because the last few years leveraging up to being more involved with clients one-on-one. From a client perspective, really nothing has truly changed from a day to day workflow. Where the change has occurred is I’m more heavily involved in our initiatives for marketing or our initiatives for a better streamline use of our systems internally.

More involved in making sure we’re up to date and always constantly evolving and refining our investment management philosophy. I’m more heavily involved in that stuff. Additionally, by adding more team members. We’ve brought on two new people that are here currently since November of 2016, which for our sized team was pretty rapid growth.

There’s a lot more delegation and delineation of tasks. What I’ve found has had to be the biggest change for me is a better focus on time management. I spend way more time now time blocking, specific time for emails, specific time for phone calls. I now use a planner to outline my day, which is something I’ve never done.

At the same time, I spend an active amount of time reading and educating myself not just in all the things that we need to know to be successful in this industry, but also to create a fantastic workplace environment and a great culture. Because this all is going to come crumbling down if I don’t have the team around me that’s buying into what we’ve got going on or wants to be here every day.

I spend more time now focused on big picture things, but if I had to be completely honest with you, it does not feel like it’s that much more time because I actually kind of from a nerdy perspective, I love that stuff. So, to take extra time to read it and be better and learn, it’s really not that much of a change. It’s just more of a time commitment.

Hannah: You’ve talked about the consultant that you worked with. You talked about how to think like an owner. For the planners who are listening to this who are really interested in the idea of becoming an owner, what are other resources or places that they can go to help get them up to speed?

Connor: Oh gosh, that’s a really, really good question. Yeah. Wow. One of the best resources I read, and it’s just a bit out of date now, but that’s less because of the information and just more of how the industry has changed over the last four to five years.

But there was a book by David Grau who works with a company called FP Transitions. We actually didn’t use them, but I really liked their stuff, the stuff that they were putting out. Not just currently through the form of blogs or whitepaper, their own form of media to kind of put the information out there about the industry changes and how advisors can take advantage of them.

David Grau actually wrote a book called Succession Planning for Financial Advisors, I think was the exact title. I read that front to back. It’s chockfull of a ton of information. It kind of reads like a textbook, but for this subject, you kind of have to treat it that way because it’s getting caught up to speed not just on the industry changes, but for someone that would be in a very similar role as I was in and a very similar career path that I was in.

It doesn’t really matter about age. But for me that was a big deal because I wanted to kind of approach this with the idea of it’s great to know every statistic about this. It’s great to know every potential avenue or opportunity, but what’s the psychology that I’m dealing with?

You have someone like Kyle who joined in the industry during the computerization. The overall change in the industry in the 1980s of your broker, your financial advisor, your trader being more readily available to the every man, and he was very successful at that. Then transitions out of more of a product pushing commissions, high sales role into really being kind of on the forefront of the idea of fee-based asset management in the early ’90s.

Like many people like him, there’s this career that has been extremely successful and it’s provided a tremendous amount of opportunities for him as an individual that maybe when he set out didn’t know where even he would be in 30 years. Those that have lasted for that time period, they really had to cut.

They ran a heavy sales culture and that’s just not what most individuals that are coming in the industry now have to deal with. Having not had dealt with that on my own where I came in and just learned that I need someone and kind of leveraged up over time into a different role.

What I wanted to do was provide myself more understanding of what was the individual I was trying to convince that a succession plan made sense for? Not the statistics that I was trying to use or anything else. What could I do to help convince them more? For me, it was understanding that psychology.

That book actually helped for that, because I think the first two chapters are explaining like how we got to now, which is great. I would recommend that. Then Michael Kitces did a podcast with a gentleman by the name of Eric Hehman out of Austin with a firm called Austin Assets. He was much younger when he bought in. I think he was like 22, 24, somewhere in there.

In his podcast with Michael, I’ve listened to multiple times because it helped me understand that psychology even better. Then he and two other authors actually co-authored a book that was also very helpful. Those are really outside of just kind of random things that are here, read here and there with different blogs or resources. Those were the three that I relied on the most.

Hannah: Can we have you talk just a little bit more about that psychology. How did that change your approach or what … How did that tangibly change the course of kind of what your succession plan and your track was?

Connor: No, that is a really good question. When I first started with that process, I’d mentioned thinking I could kind of tackle everything on my own. I was very data driven. If I just tell Kyle the best statistic or show him the best win-win formula, it’s a no-brainer. In a lot of ways, to give him credit, it wasn’t a hard sell.

I mean, he saw it. He got everything. I then realized with him that once I could get past that hurdle that it was going to be a challenge once we started really getting into the nitty-gritty of everything. You could talk about a succession plan, you can look at statistics, you can view all the pros and cons in a vacuum.

But it’s not until you really start to get into the process when the solo practitioner realizes they’re going to have to give up some value to grow, that we’re taking on a risk, especially during an upmarket, in a market that’s been nice for a considerable amount of time. For me, it was really important to kind of go with the art of war here, so to speak, is another literary reference and try to understand the individual that I was trying to, to use kind of the art of war terms, “conquer”, versus trying to just figure out my own methodology or my own path.

It was better to understand what were their blinders? What were their weaknesses? What were their issues, and how could I make them feel more at peace with it? That was really important to me because I never wanted a partnership with Kyle that he was ever 50/50 on or sitting on the fence with. I wanted him to be fully on board.

To kind of lay down my armor, so to speak, and kind of go into this with my ego checked at the door, it was best to understand what is it that he’s struggling with? There was a lot of times where we would have conversations that would be him and I just kind of opening up to each other and me asking him tough questions that had less to do with the numbers of everything and more to do with just how he felt about everything.

There really was no magic formula. It was literally just sitting him down and saying, “What’s on your mind? What’s your struggles with this? What’s the real challenge? How can I help? What can I do?” Then slowly over time, when things started to get very real for me, little did I know he was doing that right back and kind of offering me those same questions from him to me.

That made the whole process really smooth. The brain is a powerful thing. If you can tap into utilizing that to your advantage, not just your own, but understanding someone else’s, it makes everything way easier because then you truly do get to empathize with them and understand their challenges. It makes it more real to you as well.

Hannah: The irony of everything that you’re saying is that’s what makes great financial planners great financial planners.

Connor: Right. Yeah. That’s exactly it. It’s that obvious. It’s the best planners in the world are ones that really truly try to understand what is best for their clients. Even the idea of trying to “put yourself in their shoes”, that’s still a method that’s centered on you.

Hannah: Yeah.

Connor: It’s really putting yourself in a position to be open to understanding what’s making them tick. It’s easy to sit back in hindsight and make it sound like I’ve cracked the code on something, but honestly, throughout the entire time, I can quantify it to you now. But at the time, I really just wanted to check in with Kyle and make sure he was good with everything.

If I did that, then whether it went the route that I wanted to or whether it was as optimal as I wanted it to be, none of it mattered to me if he was going to be regretting his decision. That doesn’t make for any good outcome for either of us, which is also I guess like a financial planner, right?

Hannah: Right. This is just so great, Connor, and hearing your story. Are there any other pieces of advice or thoughts that you wish you would have known when you started out?

Connor: Yeah. It’s an industry that really I think the self-starters are the ones that cut it and make it. While it’s great to be where I’m at at 28, just something as simple as Kyle provided kind of the key to the kingdom by handing me an article by Angie Herbers that said How to Think Like An Owner and I sat on that for three months.

I can’t tell you why or if I was just busy or whatever it was, but my number one advice would be this industry is absolutely changing and we’re here to really take advantage of a huge transfer of wealth that’s going to occur. Then also just a transfer of opportunity between advisors that have been in for 30 years and those that are just now starting out, to prepare yourself to be able to handle that.

It’s not waiting, procrastinating saying that you’ll wait till tomorrow or the opportunity will present itself. You almost have to, without ruffling any feathers or stepping on any toes kind of have a move or get out of my way mentality. That didn’t really click for me right away, but once it did, it was that definite approach where I view it every moment as how am I not wasting my time? What is worth my time right now?

My number one advice for people would be figure out what works best for you. But just kind of I guess the overarching theme of our conversation here has been kind of trusting that process and the results will come and that just working towards progress every day is worth it. Don’t sit on anything, especially if someone that’s come before you nudges you in the right direction, don’t wait three months to tackle what they’ve given you.

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As more established planners plan for their own futures many young professionals are offered a succession plan as part of their career path. In this episode, Connor Koppa, CFP® walks #YAFPNW listeners through what it’s like to be part of a succession p... Focus Financial, Kyle Watkins, CFP®, wanted to encourage his dream of owning a financial planning practice.
Together, Kyle and Connor worked through a unique ownership agreement that worked for them. Right now, Kyle is still the Executive Officer and a financial advisor at Focus Financial. Connor now owns 15% of the practice, and takes the lead on client relationships, business structure, and building a practice culture.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have an open, honest line of communication with with the lead advisor and owner of the financial planning practice where they work. In this episode, Connor walks #YAFPNW listeners through what it’s like to be part of a succession plan, what his ownership arrangement looks like at Focus Financial, and more. We hear about succession plans often in this profession, but we so rarely get to peek behind the curtain to see how an individual plan pans out – and this episode gives you that opportunity!

 

What You’ll Learn:





How to set up a succession plan
The best ways to communicate with a firm owner about your desire to own part of the firm
How financing works when you buy into a financial planning practice
How ownership of clients, business decisions, and more work when there are more than one owner in a practice
How to potentially work in future owners into your plan
What being a part owner of a financial planning practice looks like in the day-to-day
The importance of creating a communicative culture and fostering innovation in your financial planning practice
How you can get involved and find fulfillment as a financial planner even if you aren’t interested in becoming an owner





 
How To Think Like An Owner
 

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Hannah Moore clean 50:16
Fighting for the Fiduciary Standard: FPA’s 2004 Lawsuit Against the SEC http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-fighting-for-the-fiduciary-standard-fpas-2004-lawsuit-against-the-sec/ Tue, 31 Jul 2018 20:40:28 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11543 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-fighting-for-the-fiduciary-standard-fpas-2004-lawsuit-against-the-sec/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-fighting-for-the-fiduciary-standard-fpas-2004-lawsuit-against-the-sec/feed/ 0 On March 30, 2007, the Financial Planning Association made history by winning a lawsuit that vacated SEC Rule 202(a)(11)-1. This forced brokers to become SEC-regulated advisors, and helped to create a division of the two hats in the financial services industry: fiduciary and suitability. On March 30, 2007, the Financial Planning Association made history by winning a lawsuit that vacated SEC Rule 202(a)(11)-1. This forced brokers to become SEC-regulated advisors, and helped to create a division of the two hats in the financial services industry: fiduciary and suitability. This was the one of the first times that the American public was exposed to a discussion that had long been brewing in the financial planning profession, and the fight to improve the fiduciary standard in the financial services industry continues on today. In this episode, we hear from Elizabeth Jeton, Dave Yeske, and Nick Nickolette about the importance of FPA’s lawsuit against the SEC, how FPA is continuing to push for regulation, and why all of this is truly at the heart of our profession.

FPA’s lawsuit against the SEC baffled many on Wall Street because there was little financial gain for FPA and its members. The lawsuit was backed by FPA because it directly protected and impacted the American public, and the organization’s leadership knew that having the best interest of consumers in mind was always their number one priority. Nobody knew, when FPA first started to pursue the SEC lawsuit, how people would react. So many questions bubbled to the surface.

How will the media respond? Do we need additional partners and resources to make this happen? Where will we get the support we need?

The lawsuit was undoubtedly a push to protect financial planning clients across the country, and FPA members felt strongly that their organization was taking a true stand for their core values. The lawsuit itself was often likened to a case of David and Goliath. FPA was fighting against corporate giants to force regulation for fee-based wealth managers – and it was an uphill battle.

But the lawsuit had a much larger impact than simply increasing regulation. It was the first time the debate between suitability and fiduciary had a public forum. The FPA was in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times making the case for a fiduciary standard. They were taking a stand against brokers giving advice without abiding by the fiduciary standard as outlined by the Investment Act of 1940.

To this day, the FPA pushes for public education and their advocacy positions center around the fiduciary standard because the fight isn’t over. Every member is courageously fighting to provide a place for clients to come where they know they’ll be taken care of, and where they never doubt that their financial planner puts their interests above his or her own.  

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It meant a lot to our members to know that we stood for something…To have your voice amplified, to feel confidence and conviction in our members that they were a part of something bigger that took a stand. #YAFPNW

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What You’ll Learn:

  • How the FPA’s lawsuit against the SEC came about
  • The full history of the SEC lawsuit, and what happened to cause FPA to win
  • Who was at the heart of the movement
  • How the FPA got involved
  • Ways that the FPA pushed for a more clear fiduciary standard, and promoted direct regulation of fee-based financial advice
  • What financial planners are still doing today to fight for the fiduciary standard, public education, and better SEC regulation

 

FINANCIAL PLANNING ASSOCIATION v. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

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On March 30, 2007, the Financial Planning Association made history by winning a lawsuit that vacated SEC Rule 202(a)(11)-1. This forced brokers to become SEC-regulated advisors, and helped to create a division of the two hats in the financial services ... Elizabeth Jeton, Dave Yeske, and Nick Nickolette about the importance of FPA’s lawsuit against the SEC, how FPA is continuing to push for regulation, and why all of this is truly at the heart of our profession.
FPA’s lawsuit against the SEC baffled many on Wall Street because there was little financial gain for FPA and its members. The lawsuit was backed by FPA because it directly protected and impacted the American public, and the organization’s leadership knew that having the best interest of consumers in mind was always their number one priority. Nobody knew, when FPA first started to pursue the SEC lawsuit, how people would react. So many questions bubbled to the surface.
How will the media respond? Do we need additional partners and resources to make this happen? Where will we get the support we need?
The lawsuit was undoubtedly a push to protect financial planning clients across the country, and FPA members felt strongly that their organization was taking a true stand for their core values. The lawsuit itself was often likened to a case of David and Goliath. FPA was fighting against corporate giants to force regulation for fee-based wealth managers – and it was an uphill battle.
But the lawsuit had a much larger impact than simply increasing regulation. It was the first time the debate between suitability and fiduciary had a public forum. The FPA was in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times making the case for a fiduciary standard. They were taking a stand against brokers giving advice without abiding by the fiduciary standard as outlined by the Investment Act of 1940.
To this day, the FPA pushes for public education and their advocacy positions center around the fiduciary standard because the fight isn’t over. Every member is courageously fighting to provide a place for clients to come where they know they’ll be taken care of, and where they never doubt that their financial planner puts their interests above his or her own.  

 

 
What You’ll Learn:

How the FPA’s lawsuit against the SEC came about
The full history of the SEC lawsuit, and what happened to cause FPA to win
Who was at the heart of the movement
How the FPA got involved
Ways that the FPA pushed for a more clear fiduciary standard, and promoted direct regulation of fee-based financial advice
What financial planners are still doing today to fight for the fiduciary standard, public education, and better SEC regulation

 
FINANCIAL PLANNING ASSOCIATION v. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
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Hannah Moore clean 50:29
Financial Coaching and Exceptional Planning http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-financial-coaching-and-exceptional-planning/ Tue, 24 Jul 2018 20:14:26 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11534 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-financial-coaching-and-exceptional-planning/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-financial-coaching-and-exceptional-planning/feed/ 0 Saundra Davis believes that financial coaching skills and financial planning go hand in hand. As a financial planner, you may be completely confident in the guidance you give to clients – but feel frustrated and lost time and again when they fail to follow your advice. This, according to Saundra, is where coaching comes in. […] Saundra Davis believes that financial coaching skills and financial planning go hand in hand. As a financial planner, you may be completely confident in the guidance you give to clients – but feel frustrated and lost time and again when they fail to follow your advice. This, according to Saundra, is where coaching comes in.

Coaching clients through financial decisions can inspire them to take action and pursue the financial life they desire. Evaluating how clients make decisions, and what could potentially stand in their way from making financial choices that serve them, can help financial planners to have a larger impact on the lives of their clients – and extend their impact for generations to come.

This conversation with Saundra will absolutely move you. As financial planners, we often focus on how we want to serve younger generations that often don’t fit the mold of “ideal client” for larger, established firms. Saundra’s take on financial coaching will inspire you to serve your existing clients better, extend yourself to be able to serve everyone, and grow the financial planning practice you’ve always dreamed about.

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Coaching is an opportunity for you to align what you know with what they do. @sagemoney on #YAFPNW

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What You’ll Learn:

  • Core financial coaching elements, such as how to get clear about what a client wants, the gap between what they want and where they are, and how to create a financial plan that can help them achieve their goals, regardless of their income or wealth
  • The importance of how we view our clients and the consequences if we don’t view them correctly
  • How financial coaching intersects with financial planning (hint: if you want to be a better financial planner, financial coaching skills are critical)
  • How to serve low income individuals through financial coaching in a way that focuses on asset building
  • How financial coaching connects us as financial planners to our deeper fiduciary duty
  • Where to “plug in” to conversations about financial coaching within the financial planning profession
  • The importance of bringing financial expertise to financial coaching
  • How to start coaching-based financial planning conversations with clients
  • How the financial planning profession can move forward into serving demographics that aren’t currently being served
  • How coaching can help you guide your clients to live the life they want
  • Motivation and inspiration – knowing what you provide and what the client provides
  • The power of motivational interviewing and how you can improve your client skill set

 

 

Show Transcript

Ep108 Transcript


Hannah: Thanks for joining us today, Saundra.

Saundra: Thank you. I’m glad to be with you.

Hannah: Okay, I am so excited to have you on this podcast, and I know it’s going to be so good. I want to talk about financial coaching. For the listeners, what is financial coaching?

Saundra: Financial coaching is a way of being with clients that supports them understanding what’s most important to them, how they live with their money, and how to align their financial choices with what matters most. Rather than be in the seat of their expert, I am actually their partner in excavating and designing a plan that is founded in their behavior choices.

Often, the role in my world is that I at any point in time of that engagement, we’re doing what’s called a dance, right? That client has an opportunity to explore more deeply. We call that discovery. Not discovery in the sense that you would as a financial planner, but the discovery is about the client’s reflection.

Not so much what they tell me about like this isn’t information gathering. It’s not the same. It discovery is a self-discovery about what really matters to you because as you know, I’m sure, is it’s very seldom about the money. My colleague, a very close colleague says, “People don’t have financial goals. They have life goals with financial implications,” and I really believe that to be true.

One of the things that we focused on as a financial coach is how do you align what you care about and what the money does for you with the plan and then your behavior? One of the reasons that financial coaching is a thing is that often you can create this amazing financial plan, all of the what fors, whys, all of the right stuff to do, and have a client that doesn’t follow it.

Often, that’s because it is not their plan and as a coach, I am not interested in being right or having the right plan for a client. I’m interested in that client reconciling, what they know and what they want, with what they do. When you think about the way of coaching, it is how am I going to be with that person as they go through this very iterative process, right?

It’s very seldom, if ever linear, how am I going to be with them as they claim their power around their financial choices, and then align their behavior with that power?

Hannah: One thing that stood out to me is it’s not about being right as a financial planner and that’s so countered to the training that we’ve got because we get tested on finding the best solution, but you’re really saying that maybe it’s not about the best solution. It’s about the client discovering what’s best for them?

Saundra: I’d say it’s both because I have to know what I’m talking about, right? This is one of the reasons that I have made such an impact on financial coaching as a profession is because I’m actually one of the first people, and actually maybe even the first, to say that a financial coach must be a financial expert. When you come from the life coaching field, which many people do, life coaching would say that you do not have to be an expert in the topic.

You coach the person not the topic. As a financial coach, I believe that that’s just flat out wrong. As a financial coach, you must coach the person and you must know the topic. It’s not that I don’t have to have the highest quality skillset, the highest knowledge level for my financial work. I have to know that because if not, I can actually coach someone into something that’s financially disastrous for them.

I have to know it’s what am I going to lead with. Am I going to lead with my knowledge or am I going to lead with my coaching skills? As a coach, I lead with the coaching skills and I apply my knowledge as appropriate based on where that client is. One of the challenges about comprehensive planning, which I believe is absolutely necessary is that we blurred out all of these things that client should take action on it.

Often, they get stuck because it’s just too much and it’s not that one thing is any more important than the other, but what coaching allows us to do is be in that relationship with the client to really figure out what is going to be a metaphor that Andrea White uses “the gas in the tank.”

What is going to be the gas in the tank that keeps that client moving even when they have competing financial goals, when they have financial struggles or things come up that they just don’t know how to cope with. Many people just give up and don’t execute their plan, but as the coach, I want to be able to bring the very best in my knowledge to bear in what moves them.

How does that client stay inspired? How do they set a target for themselves? Then carve out that pathway certainly with my expertise, but I have information they know themselves. How do I bring my information to bear with what they know about themselves to keep them moving in the direction that’s going to help them get where they want to go?

Hannah: Can you do financial planning outside of financial coaching like this financial coaching have to be an element of good financial planning?

Saundra: This is a rub because there are many financial planners who just want to crunch the numbers. They want to get the plan right. They want to get the numbers right and I believe that there is value in that. The challenge is if you’ve got the numbers right and your Monte Carlo simulations are right on and the client doesn’t execute the plan, what have you done?

The coaching is an opportunity for you to align what you know with what they do. I don’t think that everyone is going to be a coach nor do I think that that’s necessary. Many financial planners said I train either in my class at Golden Gate or at the Financial Fitness Coach certification, those planners are using the skills to support a higher level of discovery, a deeper level of discovery, a deeper level of action planning that the clients can actually own.

Notice I don’t use the words buy in that the client can own that come from them and then in that implementation piece, right, how do they actually do what they know to do? Now a lot of financial planners say, “Well, look the clients do that, they won’t need me anymore.” I actually see the opposite.

I believe that what happens is that you have such a trusted and deep relationship that you know them, and you understand them so well. You’re listening to them in a way that no one else does quite frankly, most it’s not even your spouses, right?

You have this engagement with them that they come to rely on you being able to help them see and reconcile their blind spots. Not only in the information but in their behavior, and rather being a shame face, though, yes, I know you told me to do this, not in the other, but I just couldn’t get to it, this happened or that happened.

They come with, “I got home, I tried to do it, and I just couldn’t get that done,” and then the coach will say, “Okay, so what’s up with that?” We are the accountability partner, not for shaming or blaming or judging, but for being there through the transitions and being there as you work through those parts of you that are ambivalent, right?

It’s like the example that I use in my classes is that I love being healthy, I love being strong. I know that I need to get up in the morning and I need to hit the pavement or get to the gym. My bed is so comfortable. I got one of these really cool pillows and like, what do I do when that ambivalence is there? How do I choose?

That’s what a coach does, right? It’ll help you to figure out how do you navigate those times when you’re not doing what you know to do. Many financial planners are using the skills along with their planning. It’s not an either/or. It’s a both and, and so learning those skills can certainly help with client communication.

It can certainly help with client inspiration. Again, I don’t use the word motivation because I don’t believe you can motivate another person. I believe motivation comes from within. I certainly inspire people and their motivation, I can help them tap into it, and then that’s my job, to help them tap into it, and then reflect back what I see.

If I’m working with a client that says, “Hey, yes, or I’m going to track my spending. I’m going to make sure that I’m doing this, that, or the other” and they’ve decided what they’re going to do. Then I say, “Okay, so what is our accountability plan? What support do you want from me?” What I want you to check in with me once a month and let’s take a look at where we are.

If they check in and they haven’t done what they said they were going to do, then my job kicks in, okay, so talk to me, what’s up? What do you want to do about this? Is this really something that’s important to you? If not, what’s the alternative?

We use techniques like motivational interviewing. We certainly look at the transtheoretical model of change around precontemplation and contemplation, and all the way through action. We use those skills and bring those skills to bear for the client’s benefit not so that I can be right, not so that I can have the best plan, but so that the client can honor their commitment to themselves, to create the financial life that they want.

Hannah: There’s a lot to talk about we do share this idea of client first and I feel like what you’re saying your client at the center. I feel like what you’re saying is taking that to a whole new level, but how do we keep the client at the center of everything that we do?

Saundra: Yeah. I think that that’s true. Here’s the thing, Hannah, most people join in this profession because they really want to do good work. They really want to help people live well with their money. They want people to have access to the highest quality financial planning that’s appropriate for them holding the fiduciary standard.

A lot of times helpers really think that we can change what someone else does and anybody that’s ever raised to teenager is really clear that you really can’t make anybody do anything that they don’t want to do. For me where the rubber meets the road around the coaching conversation is how do we get really, really clear about what you want.

Then how do we get clear about recognizing the gap between where you are and where you want to be, and building a plan that you are ready, willing and able to execute, and then be in your accountability support as you take those steps.

Hannah: Yeah, that’s a lot more than just saying here’s your list of recommendations going from that. Yeah, that’s kind of a thing. Maybe I know more about you than the listeners do right now, but one of the things that was fascinating to me about your answer on financial coaching was you didn’t put that to an income level.

Saundra: No. No.

Hannah: You had nothing in there about how much money you have to make and so much of what financial planning is right now is about serving high-net worth, high-income individuals. I know that’s not true with the work that you’re doing. Tell me more about your work. On your bio, it has you work with community-based organizations that focus on asset building for the working poor.

Saundra: Right, right. I am a career changer, I think you know that. I spent 25 years in the non-profit sector prior to becoming a financial planner and what that was about for me was I spent a lot of time helping non-profit agencies raise money. I was a grant writer so a grant writer and development director for 25 years.

I got to the point where I realized that it really didn’t matter what we did that unless people took charge of their financial choices irrespective of how little they had, nothing was going to change. It didn’t matter if we help them get a job, get a house, go to school, whatever, whatever we did. Nothing was going to change.

I was working with non-profit agencies that we had this revolving door of clients coming … The same clients coming back over and over again most often for the very same circumstance that they had been with us before. To be quite frank, I knew nothing about money, nothing. I did not know what a financial planner was. I cannot, honestly, say I had ever even heard the term.

I was noticing that I knew nothing about money. I was making every bad financial decision possible. My family was making every bad financial decision possible and I just woke up and just realized that, you know what, everybody I know needs this. Everybody I know needs to understand how people who are wealthy acquire, build, and transfer their wealth.

Everybody I know needs to know how to do that. I was talking with my partner one day and he says, “Well, why don’t you be a financial planner?” I’m like okay, you do realize that I’m the person who took bone-head math because I was afraid to take the placement exam.

Yeah, seriously, that’s no joke. That’s no joke. That’s a whole another story. I started reading about what a financial planner was and it’s just so strange. I graduated from my undergrad at Golden Gate and I looked at Golden Gate. It’s so funny how things happened.

I have gotten an e-mail from Golden Gate and I have looked at their masters programs, and there was a master’s in financial planning. I started looking into it and I decided, okay, I’m going to take a run at it, and I did. I was the 2006 Financial Planning Student of The Year and I was volunteering at an organization in San Francisco that did what you call “Individual Development Accounts.”

At that time, they were very, very popular because it would help people who are working poor save for an asset so rather than just … I tell people I’m not in the business of helping poor people be for comfortable being poor. This was about how do you build? How do you increase your resources to be able to change the trajectory of your family and even your community?

We built the practicum class at Golden Gate University with some persuasion and a really good lunch at a Japanese place in San Francisco, who we were very fortunate to get Dave Yeske to be our first instructor at the practicum back then. We had the class at Golden Gate. I was volunteering at EARN. We were building this program and the idea was to bring comprehensive financial planning to low-income people.

Back then no one was doing that, right. No one even felt it was necessary. Everybody felt that poor people just managed the budget and stop buying television and Nike shoes, everything would be fine. I had the belief then as I do now that unless people manage every dollar and every dime particularly if you are poor. Nothing will ever change, and so that’s what I started doing.

I became very involved with the Financial Planning Association’s pro-bono committee, built a pro-bono boot camp, and really went all in on being very active with making financial planning full service, comprehensive financial planning accessible for people who traditionally would not receive those services.

It was a very exciting time, a very challenging time, but I decided at that point to keep my focus on that population. Now, of course, that meant I was working for a long time, but I’ll tell you, I absolutely have no regrets. The way that I did that is I had bought a home in 2000, and I took out a home equity line of credit, put myself through school.

I had two years’ worth of income to survive on before I was able to start making a living, and that’s how I did it. Yeah, I still have a mortgage and I still have a couple of student loans, but I am living the life that makes my heart beat fast. I’m serving the people who need me the most and there are now financial coaching programs all over the country.

I have a lot to do with that and I am really proud of that work. The piece of it that I’m most proud of is that I refuse to accept a standard that says you can be a financial coach without being an expert. I believe that irrespective of how little you make, you deserve to have access to competent and ethical financial planning.

I’ve been really fortunate I’ve had mentors that Dave Yeske, Kacy Gott, Elissa Buie, Holly Gillian-Kindel has been right by my side as I have gone through this journey, and then I’ve gone to classes. Ted and Brad Clotch, Rick Keller, all of the work around the human side. Who we are and what we do?

I just have made a really strong commitment to make sure that low-income, moderate-income folks have access to that level of support. Now, the CFPB, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, has a financial coaching program that’s have 60 coaches all around the country serving this exact population, and I’m really proud of that.

There’s a lot of really experience financial planners and brand new financial planners who are volunteering to do work with that population. It’s necessary and one thing I do want to say before we go on to the next thing is that my very first client, I served her with a sliding scale. She was really broke, really, really broke.

She was the first person in her family to go to college. She actually became a physician and she had so much student loan debt. She was really, really in financial struggle. It literally took us a year, one full year to get budget. She kept having emergent season and tailor.

Yeah. It took us a really long time and after about a five-year engagement of just annual, quarterly check-ins, quarterly for check-ins but then annual goal setting. Now she’s a home owner and she has moved to another state. She’s a home owner, doing the work that she loves. She has a child now. She is living the life she wanted.

When we met, she literally was so upside down on student loan debt, a car that wasn’t reliable, living in a place that was not safe. When those things happen, you know that you are kind of in this sweet spot where you could help people bridge a gap that they felt they were always going to be on the wrong side of.

Those kinds of things just keep me inspired and motivated to keep doing what I’m doing, which is how I ended up talking up to you, I guess, right?

Hannah: We talk about financial planning being so powerful. You helped guide her, though, to a place in her life that she may not have ever gotten to.

Saundra: Thank you for noticing. That was a coaching moment you just had there, Hannah, because you were ready to say I changed her life and you’re right, I did not. She changed her life.

Hannah: Yeah.

Saundra: She changed her life because I saw her-

Hannah: Yeah.

Saundra: For who she was and I stayed with her through all of the bumps. I reflected back to her when she was not honoring her commitment to herself and I held her accountable based on what she said she wanted from me. Now we might talk once every couple of years. She doesn’t need me anymore.

Now, when she needs to talk … What I did because I’m not a CFP, what I did was connected her with someone who helps her manage her assets now. She doesn’t need the work she did with me anymore. Now she needs a CFP, and that’s what she has. She is doing her life now in a different way. Now she is going to pass this knowledge down to her child.

She has a different way of being with her parents and her siblings and her cousins, and all of the people who had this perpetual mindset of poverty before we met. Those are the things that I strive for. I am charged with, I believe, making sure that people know that they get to design their journey with money, and then I’m with them as they do that.

Hannah: How powerful of the courage where you said is? You are helping generations of families like it’s not just … Like what you what you said it’s not just her, it’s generations of families totally different.

Saundra: Yeah. That was what drew me to the profession. I choose to work mostly with low and moderate-income clients, but I’ll tell you, there are just regular, every day folks, that the Garrett Planning Networks serves well.

That many financial planners don’t seek out those plans because they don’t have assets to manage, but that’s the majority of the people. That’s the majority of the people in the world and I’ll tell you when you look at all of the robo advisers popping up and all of the ways that people are starting to engage with financial planning now, there’s a huge need.

There’s a huge need for work place financial planning. There is a huge need for how to do you plan your way out of student loan debt. All of those things are crucial, and I will not mislead people. I did not make big bucks doing this. I had to be very thoughtful about the life that I wanted and what I wanted that to look like.

I tell people all the time, I keep my needs small so that my wants can be outrageous. That’s how I do this. That’s how I’m able to do this, but that’s because I know what’s important to me. It’s important to me to live my work life in a way that’s satisfying. I’m sure I could work more and longer and harder and all of those things and make more money, but that’s not what I want for my life at this stage.

If I were younger, if I had joined this profession that in my 20s, maybe even 30s, I might feel differently, but I’ve joined this profession at 44. I had to look at what was my trajectory going to be. I joined this profession. I changed careers at 44 because I knew I was not going to have enough to retire.

I had to find something that I loved that I could do well into my 70s because I knew I would have to work that long. This has been just that for me. I am closer to 60 than not, right? I’m really, really clear that I can do this as long as my brain holds up. I really love what I do.  Every single day I love what I do.

It makes a huge difference whether I’m standing in front of a room of a hundred people who are doing their own planning because I do some client-facing workshops or whether I’m doing train the trainers where I’m training other people of how to use coaching skills for their clients.

It just doesn’t matter which one of those I’m doing. It’s a very satisfying way of being for me as a professional.

Hannah: How do we serve the working poor? How do we serve demographics that traditionally financial planning has not served well? Is that through that non-profit space or what is, for a lack of a better way of asking this, what’s the business model around that? That you found like- what works?

Saundra: Yeah. I can say what works for me and then I can say what I think works in general. I would hear the chatter about the Garrett model doesn’t work and you can’t make a living that way. I don’t think that that’s true.

I think that what happened happens a lot is that people don’t self-manage and that’s another core coaching skill, right? If I know that I’m only hired to do X, Y, Z, and I do A, B, C, D, and X, Y, Z, I know I’ve created the problem.

For me the business model is number one to be very, very clear about what I’m going to offer you and price it fairly. Now I have a sliding scale. I started out with one and I still have one today. People who make less pay less and they understand that as they make more and as they are in a better financial situation, they will pay more.

That client I described for you when we started out, she was paying me 25 bucks an hour. By the time we were finished, she was paying 250 bucks an hour. I believe that that is absolutely manageable. Now what that means is that I have to have enough clients at that high end of the scale to know how many I can do at the low end of the scale.

I keep that clear, right? I’m very clear with myself about that. What can I afford to do? Then there’s also one of our planning colleagues said to me, work doing high-net worth clients and do pro-bono for the clients who are working poor that you wanted or sliding scale that way.  That’s certainly an option.

This is one of the things that I just love about our work, I do believe that while we are not magicians, financial planners are magical. Financial planning is magical. We can change the trajectory of how people view money. I just don’t believe that there is anything more powerful in the financial space than being able to help people see themselves in a way that they never did before around how they live with their financial choices.

We can do small groups like I do a group … There’s a group of black women that I work with in the San Francisco Bay Area in the east bay. The reason that I hone in on the ethnicity of the group is I’m a black woman and it’s really important to me to stay connected to black women in particular having access to high quality support, right?

That’s fiduciary. That is accountable and that is accessible for them. There’s a group of 10 women and they get together and they check in quarterly. I provide the knowledge base and they provide the accountability support.

There are all kinds of ways that we can do this. Now, I don’t charge them because that’s part of my give back, but I know a lot of people that do. You can charge them a sliding scale and you can charge them a flat rate. There are all kind of ways to do this.

The ways are only as limited as our imaginations are. The reason that I do this specifically in the black community is that the black community is traditionally been left out of this conversation, the wealth conversation. When you look at closing the racial wealth gap in those kinds of things that’s a priority for me and so I make sure that I do that work in my community, which keeps me inspired even when it’s tough or even when people fall off and they do.

There are ways that we can do this for the working poor, but I would say that accountability and a commitment to excellence doesn’t change based on who you’re working with. I don’t care whether it’s someone who has a lot of money or someone who has no money. The way I treat them and the way I work with them is the same.

Hannah: Can you talk more about that? Because I know in our conversation before we started here to record, you had such wisdom on that point of how do we treat the person in front us, the client?

Saundra: Yeah. Yeah. The client is the expert in their own life and I treat them as such. I have information, but I don’t know them. They know themselves. When I’m spending time with them, when we’re in our discovery conversations, and we are in our visualizations or we’re looking at or exploring what they want for themselves, I honor them and hold them as the expert in their own lives.

I recognize that my role is to be their best advocate for what they say they want. Even if that sometimes advocating with them to stand up for themselves in what they want, but they are the leaders. They decide the topic. They decide the phase and there is no judgment.

It’s completely a no shame zone with me and I hear them and accept them exactly where they are. The very first time I heard this, I know it’s in the motivational interview, but the very first time I heard this was with Ed Jacobson, which really resonated with me.

He said to me, right, because it’s just so he was … I was the only one in the room. In this big whole room of people, he said, “If you cannot hold your clients in perfect positive regard, you have not earned the right to work with them.”

When he said that, that touched me so deeply because I believe that that’s where we missed out so much. We talked about clients being a non-compliant and all kinds of unflattering and I would even say degrading ways when they don’t do what they should do.

I think that we have to think about how do we hold them with empathy? If we are financial expert and we are good with money, that’s terrific, but what if there’s an area in your life that you are not as good as doing what you know you should do? Do you want someone to talk to you in a way that is demeaning or undermining?

I just think it’s so important that we are very thoughtful of holding them in perfect positive regard and if we can’t make a referral because it’s just not fair. It’s not fair to do that. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have an accountability. That’s what they come to me for.

They come to me because there is a gap between where they are and where they want to be. We work on that, but even in that I hold them as the expert in their own lives. I support them in honoring standing up for that part of themselves, that part of their children, their grandchildren that they want to show up for in how they live with their resources.

I listened. I do a lot of listening. I was telling people that when you’re coaching, you are actually listening 80% of the time and talking 20% of the time. I wonder how many financial planners would be able to meet that statement.

Again, like you said, it’s how we’re trained. We believe that people come to us for answers. I believe people come to us to ask them the questions that they don’t know the answers to so that they can figure out the answers with our help.

That’s how I view that someone I’m thinking about, how I work with a client. I’m their partner in the process. They are not accountable to me. They are accountable to themselves with me as their witness. They get to decide. They get to decide.

Hannah: In your meetings with the working poor, what are the issues that you are addressing? What are the common issues?

Saundra: Honestly, the most difficult is remembering what they really want. When you have felt thwarted in achieving what you want for whatever reason, external, your own limitations, whatever. It’s very easy to forget what your goals are. I tell people all the time that there are a lot of judgments around why people are poor and what they should be doing and what they shouldn’t be doing.

I say that it is not surprising that someone who believes that they will never get their goal, they’ll never be able to buy the home that they want or never be able to put their kids through college or never be able to do those things. It’s very easy to say, you know what? I’m going to drive through McDonald’s and we’re going to buy a little bit of happiness.

Hannah: Yeah.

Saundra: We are going to have a little bit of happy today. I want to see my kids smile.  I’m going to put these $100 Nikes on my child so that my child doesn’t have to feel as poor as I do. We make a whole lot of assumptions about people and what drives them. What I think we need more of is to have fewer assumptions and more listening, knowing how to be with people in their discomfort.

There’s a very high cost to being poor in this country. If you don’t have a bank account, you end up using check cashiers and pay their lenders and really predatory financial products and services. If you don’t have an emergency fund and you are one flat tire away from an emergency, you run the risk of not being able to get to work or go into debt to get to work.

There is just so many things that people who are experiencing poverty have to deal with and if they are on any kind of public benefits, if they have food stamps or SSI, or things that are supposed to help them have a safety net, and they save.

I think right now the asset limits are $2,250. If you can imagine being a family of four, but if you save more than $2,250, you lose your food stamps. With $2,000, have you feeling secure enough to give up food stamps?

Hannah: Not at all. Yeah.

Saundra: Yeah, exactly. They have what’s called an asset means test and those asset means test keep people in poverty because if I’m trying to help them save to stabilize themselves as soon as they hit that threshold, they lose the very things that help them stay stable.

Those are the really biggest challenges because then people have to either lie to me or run the risk of getting the stability they seek because they lose their benefits. It truly is a Catch 22. My job is to help them navigate these very tenuous situations.

That if they are on a path way to saving, if they are finally able to open a bank account and finally able to save a portion of what sometimes is a very decent sized tax return, are they in a position where they in a position where they can afford to give up those benefits?

Just so much goes into being able to help people navigate systems that are quite frankly designed to crush them. It’s called a safety net, but the fact is what … Think about it? If you look at the gift tax exclusion for wealthy people, how much can they transfer now without any consequence-

Hannah: Right.

Saundra: What is it?

Hannah: Fifteen thousand? Yeah.

Saundra: Fifteen now? Yeah, but some poor people can save too. My contention is, all right, let’s make the asset means test if we are going to have one, and I understand why we have them. You don’t want to be using public benefits for people who are wealthy. I get that, but at least make it match the gift tax exclusion.

Then that way people can actually build enough of a buffer. They can build that three to six-month worth of emergency fund. If they lose their job, they are not back on welfare. They are not back in public benefits, right? I’m saying if we’re going to have a system that to help people out of poverty, let’s make sure it’s really helping.

Then make sure that there is those of us who care about this that really can help people be wiser with their choices so that they have a path way. I really do believe that financial planning is a path way, but you’ve got to not only have access, you have to have assets.

How do you help people do that? I do believe that it is possible. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen at United. Look, if I were not seeing a change in people being able to do this, I wouldn’t be doing this for, what I’m going on … how many years, 12 years now? I wouldn’t keep beating my head against that wall if I didn’t see that it was possible.

I see kids who because of what we did they are often college now. I see parents find homes who were priced out of the rental market. I see magical things happen when people are able to connect their drive with the support of someone who cares and someone who is knowledgeable.

To me that’s what financial planning is all about, right? We … Financial planners bring something that just no other profession does. What we do, and I don’t really consider myself a financial planner at this stage. I strictly do coaching and I would not be doing financial planning without a CFP frankly.

This is the path I’ve chosen. For me I do everything from financial education to financial coaching and then I refer when there’s a need for planning and/or financial therapy. I’m a firm believer in that continuum, financial education, financial counseling, coaching, planning, and therapy.

I believe that is the continuum. That’s the one that I support. I do what I do. I stay in my lane. When someone needs a referral for investments and many people who come up through my ranks, clients who come up through the point where I’m a one person right here at Treasure Island.

They went through their programs, was homeless, went through some of their programs, and it’s now making 10k a month. Now, they need a financial planner. I’m really proud of that work. I’m proud to know so many financial planners who meet me there.

They will do a short-term engagement to get people started. They will do a package that is accessible and affordable for people. I’m really grateful for that. I’ve got several planners around the country who I can turn to when I’ve got clients who are ready for them.

I view financial coaches as getting the clients ready for planning and financial coaching as a skillset for financial planners who really want to fine tune their client communication and really want to fine tune their skillsets around helping clients actually implement their plans. Did I answer your question at all?

Hannah: I have more questions now.

Saundra: Okay, sorry.

Hannah: It’s something like I don’t even remember what the question now. I know we just had too many conversations with planners especially new planners who … Let’s say I got into this because I want to help people and I want to help people like back home where is this who want to help people who are like me, like my family? Not just million dollar plus or whatever that will be. What would be your advice to them?

Saundra: The first piece I would say is try to avoid treating it as either/or. You really can do both. Your expectations of yourself have to be in alignment with what your needs are. If you can carve out a niche for yourself that if kind of like what I did, sure, go all in. if you have to do both, don’t abuse yourself about it.

Be gentle with yourself particularly if you are a new planner. Everybody told me I was never going to make a living doing this. They were wrong. They were wrong. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you have to do to make a living. You get to decide and you might have to make some sacrifices.

You might have to go some places with your professional skills that you didn’t know you had to go but decide what you want to do for the people who are like you.  Build your skillset for them. Build the connections with the local community-based organizations.

That you can have good solid referrals when they need more help then you can offer. Be realistic about what you can offer. You will not change someone else’s behavior and I’ll tell you what team coaches told me.

It is not easy to turn need into demand because we look at our families and you look at our communities and we say, wow, everybody needs this. Then we do a class or we do something that we’re all excited about and two people show up. It’s like, wait, everybody, when I’m talking to them, they say, “I want it. I want it. I want it,” but you know what? Change can be challenging for people. You got to meet him where they are and you may not be ready that’s about you. That’s not about you saying, “Okay, well, I’m never doing that again,” that’s not okay.

What else? What else can I do to be there with my people as they travail, traverse this very bumpy road, right? Decide what you’re willing and able to do, and the do that thing. It might be pro-bono. It might be low cost. There are many, many ways to do it, but don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. That’s a personal decision.

If you decide not to, that’s a personal decision. There is nothing wrong with that either. I don’t begrudge people who choose to work with high-net worth clients, that’s where your inspired. It’s just now what I choose. There’s value on both sides. How do you do what makes your soul sing?

How do you do the work that makes your soul sing and not out of guilt or obligation or any of those things? Out of knowing that what you bring to your community has the power to turn things around in ways that truly nothing else can. Not even the lottery, right? What you can do as a financial planner in communities that are struggling is deeper and broader than what anybody else can do. You have to take good care of yourself because you’re an asset. You have to bring that part of yourself and be mindful to not burn out.

When you asked about, is a non-profit sector the way? Maybe. Maybe, but you just want to make sure that you don’t burn yourself out because you’re an asset. You’re offering your strengths and your commitment to them in a way that lifts you up and brings them with you.

Hannah: The other piece we talked about was coaching and if you aren’t you say called to working with the working poor or you aren’t making that decision to work with the working poor, but you want to be better a financial planner by being better at coaching. Where do you go or what would be your advice to that person who is listening?

Saundra: Yeah. There is a couple of things. There is a coaching class at Golden Gate, which I’m very, very proud of. My students have given amazing feedback about what it is meant for them. I’m not very good at getting that pollster, but I work on that. Yeah. I need a social media guru. There are classes you can take, but here’s the thing, reading about it is nice, but it’s coaching is better experienced than talked about. Either work with a coach where you have it someone coach you.

I’ve got a new thing that I’m doing now, executive coaching for financial planners and it’s for that very reason. They don’t … They’ve already got their CFP. They maybe already have their masters. They don’t necessarily want to take a class. I do that and then there is also the financial fitness coach as a certification. Now, if you don’t need another certification, you can take it as professional development. We’ve got a lot of CFPs that do it that way. Some of them go on and get the certification. Others have them take the training. The training as a practical approach. You have to do the work.

You don’t get the badge. You don’t get the certificate … the certification without doing the work. You actually do practice. That’s really what made me how I am as a coach. Reading about it is great but doing it is different and being able to truly dance in the moment is not something that you can read about and do. It’s something that you have to practice.

There are many ways to do it. There are a lot of coaching programs. The reason that I built what I built was that life coaching classes are not quite rigorous enough in my view for financial topics. I like what they do. It’s nice. It’s very feel good and I’m a San Francisco hippie. You might have picked up on that, but I don’t think it holds the level of rigor that I think is necessary for financial planning. For financial planners, who want to bring coaching, I think it’s a different skillset.

There are some things like motivational interviewing is a big deal. I think Ted and Brad Clotch have the financial behavior specialists that’s learning about it, but not the actual practice. There are many ways to learn how to bring these kinds of skills. Rick Keller does some work in this area as well. There are many ways to learn about it, but there are fewer ways to actually practice it. I would say that quite frankly that’s the reason I built what I built.

Hannah: It’s so good. What is the name of your program again?

Saundra: Yes. I do my program in partnership with the AFCPE and the program is called “Financial Fitness Coach” or FFC is the actual certification. It is a certification not a certificate. There is ongoing professional development and demonstration of the skills. It’s not just taking class and getting the thing. You actually have to demonstrate the skills.

There is Financial Fitness Coach. There is accredited personal finance coach, which is a higher level. It’s a deeper dive into coaching skills. For most financial planners to be honest doing the financial fitness coach work whether they choose to do the certification or not.

Usually it’s very helpful and then they can decide whether or not they want to go all the way. Many people just take module one, which is the coaching essentials. They take module one, decide whether or not it’s something that they want to go further in. Coaching has nothing to do with income. Coaching skills can be used at any aspect of your practice. The place that I find it most relevant are in discovery, implementation, and accountability for financial planners if you are going to advice.

It also helps you give advice in a way that is more accessible for the client. It doesn’t take away your role as the expert. It expands your ability to hold the client as the expert in their lives with you being the expert in financial planning and putting those two things together for the client’s highest invest.

Hannah: Any final thoughts, Saundra, as we wrap up?

Saundra: Yes. I have to say I have really been impressed with what I’m seeing with this next generation of planners coming through the work that x, y is doing, and Next Gen was new when I first joined. I’m so impressed with this generation of planners whether it’s not an age thing.

It’s coming into the field thing, the rigor and the standards that you’re holding yourselves to and the desire to help people of all financial situations is just really inspiring and gives me a lot of hope. I want to thank you for doing this and making sure that you’re giving people a way to find their way. I remember … I’m just glad I was as old as I was when I came into the profession because I didn’t let people tell me you can’t do it.

If people don’t get anything else from listening to me, what I hope you get is that you get to do it the way you want to. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t. You might have to fix it yourself. You might have to make it yourself. We might have to build it yourself. If you do, just make sure that is what you want. Make sure that every decision you make broadens rather than minimizes your options. Whether it’s getting that degree … It drives me nuts to see people say, “Don’t take out student loans, don’t do this.” You know what? Do what you have to do to get what you want.

I took out student loans at 44 years old to create the life that I want and I’m still paying them. You know what? I am not upset about paying those loans not one bit. I have the life I want. I would have not done that had I listen to what other people said that I should or should not be doing.

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Saundra Davis believes that financial coaching skills and financial planning go hand in hand. As a financial planner, you may be completely confident in the guidance you give to clients – but feel frustrated and lost time and again when they fail to fo... Coaching clients through financial decisions can inspire them to take action and pursue the financial life they desire. Evaluating how clients make decisions, and what could potentially stand in their way from making financial choices that serve them, can help financial planners to have a larger impact on the lives of their clients – and extend their impact for generations to come.
This conversation with Saundra will absolutely move you. As financial planners, we often focus on how we want to serve younger generations that often don’t fit the mold of “ideal client” for larger, established firms. Saundra’s take on financial coaching will inspire you to serve your existing clients better, extend yourself to be able to serve everyone, and grow the financial planning practice you’ve always dreamed about.

 

 
What You’ll Learn:

Core financial coaching elements, such as how to get clear about what a client wants, the gap between what they want and where they are, and how to create a financial plan that can help them achieve their goals, regardless of their income or wealth
The importance of how we view our clients and the consequences if we don’t view them correctly
How financial coaching intersects with financial planning (hint: if you want to be a better financial planner, financial coaching skills are critical)
How to serve low income individuals through financial coaching in a way that focuses on asset building
How financial coaching connects us as financial planners to our deeper fiduciary duty
Where to “plug in” to conversations about financial coaching within the financial planning profession
The importance of bringing financial expertise to financial coaching
How to start coaching-based financial planning conversations with clients
How the financial planning profession can move forward into serving demographics that aren’t currently being served
How coaching can help you guide your clients to live the life they want
Motivation and inspiration – knowing what you provide and what the client provides
The power of motivational interviewing and how you can improve your client skill set

 
 
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Hannah Moore clean 59:57
Navigating Workplace Dysfunction http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-navigating-workplace-dysfunction/ Tue, 17 Jul 2018 18:04:10 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11528 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-navigating-workplace-dysfunction/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-navigating-workplace-dysfunction/feed/ 0 Krista Sheets and Sarah Dale from FPA’s Coach’s Corner are here on this week’s episode of #YAFPNW to talk about how to combat a dysfunctional workplace and build a people-focused team. After experiencing dysfunctional workplaces throughout their career, Krista Sheets and Sarah Dale partnered to build Performance Insights. Together, they focus on helping financial planners increase results through practice management and people-focused decisions.

There are so many unhealthy work environments within the financial planning profession, and both Krista and Sarah agree that this largely is a result of poor communication. As a result, they help the planners they work with on developing well-structured team communication plans, amplifying everyone’s voice on a financial planning team, and creating an environment that fosters positive communication. Krista and Sarah discuss the importance of understanding team members and using various personality tests to identify strengths and what motivates each person on a team.

In this episode, Krista and Sarah are going to be discussing how to spot warning signs of a dysfunctional workplace, the best way to communicate efficiently, and how focusing on team development can lead to a more successful career in the financial planning profession.

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The only thing we have control over is what we say, what we do, and how we react to the things that are happening to us. We have to be our own advocate – even in the most desperate of work situations. #YAFPNW

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What You’ll Learn:

  • What creates workplace dysfunction
  • How to make people-focused workplace decisions
  • The best way that young planners can help their practice build a functional, healthy work space
  • How to effectively communicate to avoid dysfunction
  • Why words matter
  • How to communicate questions, challenges, and frustrations
  • Best practices to identify warning signs of a dysfunctional team
  • Why much of our dysfunction never gets addressed
  • How each individual can focus on their strengths and personality traits to contribute to their team effectively
  • Why team building matters for financial planners in our “people focused” profession
  • How to create a healthy succession plan
  • The best way to define roles in your practice and amongst your team
  • Why focusing on people is often a better investment than focusing on the numbers

 

 

Show Transcript

Ep107 Transcript


Hannah: Well thanks for joining us today Sarah and Krista.

Sarah: Thank you Hannah it’s nice to be here.

Hannah: Yes. You guy’s focus is team development. Can you tell a little bit about yourself and how you got into team development as really your focus.

Sarah: This is Sarah. And to give you just a little bit of background. I began in the industry in 1990 at a regional brokerage firm and I served both in a support role and an advice role and I spent some time on the product side of the business and I served as director of marketing and training and business development for a regional brokerage firm which was owned by a bank and I also served in a leadership role on the firm’s management committee. And then in 2003 I had that entrepreneurial bug bite me and I ended up starting my own business doing consulting and coaching and speaking and content development within the financial services industry. And then Krista and I met back in 2005 and started working together. So Krista do you want to give a bit of your background?

Krista: Sure Sarah thank you. I actually joined the industry in 1997 as a consultant to begin with. I didn’t come from a financial services industry so I kind of fell upon an industry after working in a family business that held a lot of dysfunction. I learned how not to manage and motivate people on that family business and I just couldn’t get along with my father and trying to lead that company to its next generation. So I decided to go elsewhere and I was hired by Paragon Resources the company that I now own to do team building. To do work with financial advisors because the gentleman that founded the company was a former advisor, former money manager and he saw the industry back in the late 90s is going in the direction of teams and making sure that in order to deliver the ultimate client experience there had to be a team of people serving the client’s needs.

Krista: So I got excited about learning a whole new industry and now that I have been 21 years in it, I think I have become a little bit of an expert of everything when it comes to financial planners, RIAs all different channels of this business to help them really put together their teams. Sarah and I collaborated on writing a book together, the Five Steps to Five Star Service. We released it in 2007 and we work with many of our corporate relationships as well individual advisors and planners on helping them build their own infrastructures and making sure that they can take care of those client deliverables in a good way for their clients.

Hannah: One thing I’m noticing just in hearing both of you talking, I know it’s a subtle difference but I think it’s a really important difference is that you’ve all talked about working with a team rather than working with your employees or having a manager work with their employers. I think those terms really matter. Can you guys expound on that. Is this intentional? First of all is it intentional?

Sarah: It is intentional.

Hannah: And why do you do that?

Sarah: Yes Hannah it really is intentional. I think words really matter and perception is a pretty powerful thing and so how individuals interpret words can affect their mindset, their behaviors, their actions and then subsequently their performance. A lot of people will perceive that old term employee sort of from the perspective of ownership like the company owns us, we have marching orders, it’s a one way street. Versus the term associate is definitely an improvement on employee but the term team creates that feeling of belonging, your voice in your work really matter and are all part of this sort of unified course, a singular movement, vision and goals where by sort of every team member on any given day it’s critical to the longterm success of that company, that firm.

Sarah: So the word team has connotations of togetherness and support and collaboration and comradery versus that employee term as more sort of feels like ownership and marching orders and it’s a one way street not a two way street. And Krista and I sort of believe that teaming has more of a we mentality mindset whereas employee has more of a sort of I mentality mindset. Does that make sense?

Hannah: Absolutely. And even when you were talking about the employee I was cringing as you were describing it, it was like, yeah. That doesn’t sit right.

Sarah: And feelings matter, right? So the way that that word makes you feel is going to affect what your attitude is and subsequently what your work is and how well you perform and how loyal you are to that firm. It just has so much more of a positive together collaborative connotation and it makes a big difference.

Krista: I think the industry has some old mindsets that need to change and evolve. It’s not an individual context sport anymore. It used to be just go out for thrill of the hunt of the client, close it, skin it move on. Well, if a client never heard you talking about them like a hunt, which is how it used to be in the olden days, it wouldn’t go over too well, I’m sure. So this really is a team effort. Again to deliver everything that has to be done for a client, to do right by the client, it involves a collective collaborative group working together and being able to see value in all contributions in that team. It’s not just the planner that is the value in that organization or in that company. So I think the mindset is definitely evolving and moving forward hopefully. We’re dragging it forward.

Hannah: And that’s why we’re so excited to have you guys on this podcast. I talked to so many planners and the word that just keeps coming to mind is there’s so much dysfunction in the workplace, really unhealthy work environments. And so for the listeners, there are a lot of times younger or newer planners, how do you recommend that they kind of deal with this dysfunction in the workplace?

Sarah: First of all dysfunction can come from many places and be defined differently by different people in different generations and backgrounds and experience. Some of the things that create dysfunction are ego and pride and greed and lack of respect and poor communication or lack of processes and systems. Lack of clarity on what’s expected of each team member. No understanding on priorities. All these types of things greed, dysfunction in the workplace and the three of us could probably talk about dysfunction for the next two hours. But Krista and I would probably say in our experience wherever we go across the industry, most of the time, dysfunction is rooted in some sort of communication problem.

Sarah: If you think about sort of your life, not just work but if you think about any relationships in life, most disagreements or arguments stem from some sort of communication in our personal and our work lives. So it could be over communication or lack of communication, ineffective communication, poor non-verbals, lack of active listening, having preconceived notions of what someone is going to say. All of these things are tied to communication issues of one sort or another and most of the time these are the things that create that dysfunction in the workplace.

Sarah: So Krista and I are huge proponents of having really well structured team communication plans and making sure that every team member understands that they have a voice on that team and that their ideas and questions and thoughts and suggestions are all going to be heard. And we like to make sure that each firm or each advisory team has great in-person team meetings for communication as dealing with electronic communication in the form of everything from sort of email standards and voicemail and especially that CRM and expectations in and around that.

Sarah: I think what happened so often and sometimes this is generational as well is that the younger planner may not understand where the order or the more veteran or experienced advisor or planner is coming from and sometimes they don’t speak up. If we don’t communicate our questions or our challenges or our frustrations then we sometimes end up sort of leaving the firm which is a really bad thing if it could be solved through having a conversation. And so the biggest thing to remember advice-wise for younger planners and trying to confront your boss or something like that is making sure that your communication always come from a place of respect. And when you respectfully ask questions or respectfully challenge other people on the team regardless of length of service or title etc then starting that conversation and asking questions and answering them can lead to solving that particular communication problem.

Sarah: Think often Krista and I see sort of people try to put band-aids versus really going to the root cause of what that real communication problem is or what that real dysfunctional element that’s coming through in the workplace. What is really the root cause of that problem. And in any work environment, the things that we want to make sure that we eradicate or minimize dysfunction are things like trust, respect, fairness and that effective two-way open honest, transparent communication. I think when people become better listeners and become better communicators we can solve all kinds of dysfunctional problems in the workplace.

Krista: Much of the dysfunction never really gets addressed. There’s an avoidance characteristic of this industry. Often we know there’s a problem, we may not know exactly where the problem is coming from but we really don’t want to deal with it and then often why they don’t want to deal with it is that everyone is so darn busy. There’s so much in a reactive mode all day long. Responding to client’s needs, responding to the next prospect, looking for more leads, looking for what is going on in the markets and what we need to keep up with our training and our professional development. It’s just there is so much work that need to be done to do it right.

Krista: Again that’s why we focus on teams but then what happens is we might put people together, one body in a seat but we haven’t really taken the time to do the due diligence to make sure the right people are doing the right roles or that we’re having as Sarah said the communication fluid and we’re speaking our truth everyday and we’re making sure that we really care about our team members. So we just kind of just react to everything all day and we drink from that fire hose of activity when we really need to just stop the madness, take some time, a lot of times out of the office and really work on the issues and deal with them as a collective group. Don’t expect just one person to solve all the problems.

Krista: Si it’s quite interesting ’cause Sarah and I often feel that we have a sign over our heads that says dysfunction come here, we bring the fun into the dysfunction. We often get our clients because something is really problematic. Here is performance issues. There’s partnerships. There’s making sure that all the work can get done and there’s efficiencies and everything to get it done. We’re really much trying to make sure that people work well together and eliminate their issues as much as possible.

Hannah: As I’m hearing you guys talk about this and how important communication is, I keep thinking of this idea of managing app and I’m just thinking of the new planner who’s listening to this and is identifying with everything that you’re saying. If their bosses aren’t willing to change are they kind of in a hopeless situation?

Krista: Well, Sarah, you want to take that first and then I’ll give you my opinion.

Sarah: So my thoughts on that are, with anything in life, the only thing we have control over is what we say and what we do and how we react to things that are happening to us. I feel that we have to be our own advocate even in the most desperate of work situations. So you need to have your voice, you need to respectfully try to communicate with your boss and maybe it happens, you have to try several times. If the response is repeatedly back or that there isn’t going to be any kind of change on their part, then really you have two choices. Either there’s enough stuff in your work environment and satisfaction in your role that you learn to deal with it or you make a choice to leave and find a home where you are on a team that does, is more inclusive, where you have a voice where your boss will listen to you. They may not always agree with everything but they’ll at least hear you out and you’ll feel more supported and collaborative and all that good stuff.

Sarah: If you try once and you get no response, don’t give up yet, I would try it a couple of times. But at the end of the day if the boss isn’t going to change at all, then you have one of two choices; you stay and you make the best of it or you leave and find a different home.

Krista: I probably would say that there’s too many people staying in positions. To who’s fault it is, I don’t know, I don’t want to put blame or fall on somebody but I’ve just seen too many people stay in a situation way too long. And they start to realize or they start to accept this is just the way it is to be a financial planner or just that’s what this industry is about. And I would like to say it’s not. There are a lot of people that are evolving in this industry and making sure that we can continue into the next generation. We have to evolve. We have to make some changes. I am often in conversation with individuals whether they be partners, whether they be associates, whether they be a support member and making sure that they really are aligning their true talents and their needs for engagement in the work that they’re doing, are being fulfilled and really to make a decision.

Krista: Again it goes back to the dysfunction side of things that there’s so many times that people will not make a decision because they’re fearful of it, they may think that there’s no other jobs out there. Well in this marketplace since Sarah and I this year, we’ve been working with all of our advisory teams and I don’t know any team that’s not looking for any person, that’s not looking to expand their chain. This is a very gross … The economy is great right now but I would say this industry in particular because it is aging so quickly and there’s less people that are getting as interested and doing the planning and providing the advice, that I think you have a little more control over your destiny and really making sure that you get the right environment that’s going to be conducive for you.

Krista: If it’s not working where you are and you know you’ve tried and you’ve communicated to your boss or your supervisor or whatever title, it’s not working, it’s really time to do something about it because you should enjoy the work that you do, it shouldn’t be work. It should be a vocation. It should be a calling for you to do what you’ve been put in this earth for.

Hannah: It’s so true. I can tell you conversations I’ve had in the last several weeks of people who are scared to make that job that after they make the job, it’s so much better. I think there’s some quote about the best things in life are on the other side of fear. So it’s how do we break through that fear of putting ourselves out there, starting another job. That’s where some of the best things in life are.

Sarah: Hannah one of the things that we see all the time is that when someone joins a team, there is not enough clarity around expectations. So the leadership is not necessarily in many cases, not all obviously we have some great leaders in the industry but many are not very good at articulating what the expectations are of that new team member and the team member isn’t very good at articulating what their expectations are of the firm or asking exactly what is expected of them. So the trouble is when we don’t talk about expectations, we can’t really be surprised by people walking out the door or negative impact occurring. So we talk about this with clients all the time.

Sarah: We’ll ask an advisor or planner, “When was the last time you communicated with Mr. Smith.” They’ve just shared with us that Mr. Smith has left them.  He headed out to another firm. So we ask, “When was the last time you spoke to Mrs. Smith? And they say, “Well, two years ago.” Well if you’re not communicating, then how do you know what’s going on in their lives? How do they feel like they’re being serviced? And then when they find out that their expectations weren’t being met on the service side, we ask, “When did you talk to them about service expectations?” And the planner or the advisor goes, “We didn’t do that at all. We talked to them about performance expectations but not about service expectations.”

Sarah: And the same thing happens with teams. Here’s your job description that was written by some HR consultant 25 years ago. That’s not really pertinent anymore, that we don’t update and we don’t talk about everything that’s expected. So the new person doesn’t understand what’s expected of them and then when communication isn’t there either, then you end up with a poor result and the person either leaves or the employer, the firm is disappointed with them and it’s just negative, negative, negative. So expectations conversations are really important at the onset of the relationship as well as throughout the relationship and making sure that you’re giving feedback and you’re not blowing off or procrastinating doing performance reviews and things like that. It’s so important to always to be talking about expectations.

Hannah: That’s such a practical takeaway, I mean if you’re looking for a job and you’re interviewing firms or you’re being interviewed and you’re interviewing firms, what is your expectation of somebody in this position? It’s such a basic question, it seems like. And then if you’re working with somebody and you’re working for somebody, having the conversation of, I’m I meeting your expectations? I mean that feels vulnerable but, men that seems really powerful.

Sarah: But yet we avoid it.

Krista: And so often not done and that’s where I think there’s this hierarchy kind of perspective that I can’t ask these questions or I can’t dig deeper. They’re too busy, they don’t have time for me or do they really care about my development and the role that I’m doing. Do they look at my personal needs.

Sarah: It’s so very basic.

Krista: And eve in interviews there’s nothing wrong with the person applying for a position to ask questions, to dig deeper, to see if it’s going to be a good fit. The person hiring the individuals, they don’t want to make a bad hiring decision, they don’t want to be bad culture or bad fit in their culture, in their team. So the more that there is that dialogue, again communication comes up again that’s why we spend so much time understanding the nuances of people’s style of communication, their preferences, what drives them, what interests them. We’re not robots. We are humans and it’s very important to make sure there’s direct candid communication at all opportunities.

Hannah: I just love this idea of the communication and how important that is and it shows so much initiative for somebody, for an employee to come and drive those conversations. And so part of this communication is just defining roles, I know that you guys are … It’s really important to your work that you do it with clients. So can you talk more about that, of how defining roles is important and making sure that you get in the right role.

Sarah: One of the things that I think, human beings often like to believe is that were good at everything. And the fact is we’re just really aren’t. Now Krista and I would probably both say anyone can do anything but if we can identify our sweet spot, if we can really know what our natural talents are and find those roles where we can spend at least 80% of our time in that sweet spot, then we’re going to be better more productive, happier people at work and we’re going to be driving more results for the company with whom we work. And so in the old days, so much on the sole proprietorship, it was one person and half a support person and everybody was expected to everything but the business was a lot less complex, it was a lot more simplistic back then.

Sarah: Today the business is so much more complex and there’s so much more to do and because not everyone can be good at everything, again when we define the role, when we define the work, the actual responsibilities that have to be done and then think about the type of person who is going to be a good fit for that, then we’re going to win. A great example that Krista and see all the time is if we use the title Client Service Associate which is fairly prevalent throughout the industry. This person sort of in the old days, answered the phone, typed correspondents, it was very administrative. Whereas today, that person is expected to do those things and process paperwork and operational type stuff and lots of dotting of Is and crossing of Ts. But they’re also expected to make proactive courtesy calls to clients, be front facing, run the client communication plan or the client appreciation plan.

Sarah: And most people don’t have both those skillsets naturally so they have to stretch too far out of their comfort zone which means they often then lead to spending too much time doing things that not only are they not good at but they may not like, which again leads to disengagement. So if we can better define the role that’s needed as this is all operational, it’s more behind the scenes, it’s more tactical, it’s more rolling up the sleeves and digging into the minutia dotting Is, crossing Ts and we find the right person for that and then create a separate role for the front facing person who needs to be making courtesy calls and taking more initiative and driving appreciation events and all those sorts of things. Then we can find a person who is better, who has more people skills and is better at that front facing versus the CSA person who is doing all the operational paperwork type stuff.

Sarah: Today there’s so much more volume and there so much more to do that if we can divide the role and put two people who have those different skillsets, we’re going to be more productive, we’re going to drive productivity, we’re going to drive loyalty with our team members and all that good stuff. So figuring out the roles, defining the specific responsibilities and finding people with that natural skillset is going to help. One person or two people trying to do it all, just doesn’t work. You can’t retain clients that way.

Krista: So I’m going to say that when we look at working with people, we don’t really want to look at the title that you’re looking to fill for your organization but really looking at the function that you’re trying to fill in the organization. We like to look at any business that we work with as having kind of three core building blocks of the business. That there has to be folks in the business and technology and resources and knowledge on how to find new business. So looking at the key elements of bringing new business into the door. So the functions of marketing and selling to individuals.

Krista: The second core kind of building block of the business is grind. What we look at with grind is kind of making widget, is making sure that we’re addressing all the technical aspect of what needs to get done for the client relationship. Financial strategy, the product selections, the insurance needs the wealth management needs, the investment needs, all aspects. The administration operations, the very detailed work that Sarah was just talking about to make sure the Ts you’re crossing, the Is you hare dotted, we have to make sure we handle that function in the business.

Krista: And then lastly, what do we do to keep clients around? This ultimate client experience, the showing our appreciation, the proactive servicing of relationships, we call that minding. So finding, grinding and minding is a model that we have been using for a couple of decades now. We actually trademarked the terminology and how some assessments that look at people’s businesses and making sure that they have all the elements to do the finding, grinding and minding. If we look at it that way for role definition it’s a lot clear that everyone contributes to the overall solution for the client. That it’s not just the solopreneur as Sarah said earlier that is important. It’s everyone has value.

Hannah: Well, I really like that idea of the finding, minding and grinding in helping, where do you fit within a firm. So immediate question that came to mind was, are you one of those throughout your entire career or do people evolve and change into different roles? What have you guys thought in your experience?

Krista: Our experience has been that usually there’s some core traits to a person, or natural talents to that person that are inherent for a lifetime in that person. So it has nothing to do with what we’ve put in our head and we’ve learned in school by reading, by listening to podcasts, by doing webinars, by training events. It’s not something that we learn it’s just that it’s an inherent attributes that give a talent to someone in one of those areas. Now we’re not just one, we probably are one and maybe a little bit of something else. But one thing I do know is that we’re not all three of those. And that’s where again the industry has come from a mindset that you have to be able to find, grind and mind. It’s one person do it all, figure it out and then when you have your first heart attack then we’ll come and save you from the situation.

Krista: And that is what we see, we see there’s a lot of stress in this industry. So it is something that we have tendencies and we have elements or attributes to us that we have a natural desire to do, maybe we can’t define it but that’s why we spend the days helping our clients understand their team members better so that they can jumpstart that role definition. Sarah would you add any more from you experience in helping people understand their talents?

Sarah: No, I think that you said that really well. And it’s not Hannah that we’re saying that no people can’t evolve and have sort of a career path. But I think people do inherently have a natural skillset.

Hannah: So let’s talk about that. You guys do a lot with personality tests in the context of teams. Can you tell us more about how you do this and why this is so important to work with advisors I guess.

Krista: What we’re really proud of is we have a database now exclusively from the financial services industry of all different roles, management level, to ownership levels to advisors, to planners to technical analysts, to all different client service associate type roles, administration operations, sales managers, all different roles. Our database is about a hundred thousand reports and we call them assessments because we don’t like to use the word test you often. Because a test makes you go back to school and think you’re going to pass or fail the class. You can’t pass or fail yourself we like to say when you’re doing your assessments.

Krista: The DiSC model is one of the two assessments that we always use with all of our advisory teams. And it’s because I think there’s this misnomer that just because you have that title or just because you became a planner or you are in an administrative role, client, service associate that’s the only thing that you are. You can’t be anything else. We really want to understand what makes you tick, what gives you energy. Because if I put you in the right role that keeps you highly energized and doesn’t ask of you to play a different person, to be somebody different each day. You’re going to have the capacity to do more and more of that. And because we need so many different styles to get everything done for the client, that we need to make sure we understand how we can manage our capacity by managing our energy.

Krista: The assessments that we use, DiSC is a very common model out there, it’s been around for a very long time and it’s always been used for helping with communication and helping people kind of bring self-awareness. DiSC that we use is a private label, mapmystrengths.com assessment that we have generated because we think it’s really important to not generalize people. To not put people in a box. To not say they’re just one behavior type. But to really understand the nuances of them. So the report that we actually asked you Hannah to complete, the DiSC map report actually generates one of 2401 responses based on how you answered the questionnaire. So it’s really sensitive to how you answer the questionnaire.

Krista: We know by how you answered it that you’re an incredible talker, you can influence many people to your way of thinking. You’d do great in the sales process and telling a story about the impact that your business can have on a client’s relationship. And that we know you’re probably best not being in front of a computer or pile of paper because that’s stretching you away from what your talents are, which is to go talk to people, to introduce yourself to others. So as a planner, we want you out of the office more that in it. We want you meeting with people rather than sitting bend that desk. Now there’s great people that are really good at doing the analysis and making sure that the Ts and Is are crossed … The Ts are crossed and the Is are dotted but we want to make sure you’re out there with the people.

Krista: Have you learned how to do all the technical stuff and all the details? Of course you have. But it’s not where you’re energy should be placed all the time. So that’s why we’re created, we have this database, we’ve done this for a couple of decades now of collecting the information on these folks. And we can understand what your natural attribute for you Hannah because of your result you’d be a natural gifted finder, that person that’s really good at marketing and sales and making sure that we bring in new relationships as quickly as possible and make sure we tell those stories to them.

Krista: The other part of our database is looking at why you do what you do. Why did you get into this business? That the element that I’m seeing more and more changes in for the generation that we’re in right now. A lot of people kind of stereotype generations. I hate to do that, I like to look just at the people and use these two languages of DiSC and motivators. So DiSC telling us how you do what you do and motivators talks about the why of your behavior. And that why I think is changing for the industry.

Krista: It used to be an industry that was much more economically driven. They wanted to get into the business because they get a return, they sell, they make money. I think there’s a little bit more meaning behind the people that are coming into the planning world today that we can identify by using these assessments, that what’s really driving you? And making sure that there’s some elements of putting a team together that’s driven by the same thing. That sees the world the same way. Is what leads to really cohesive teams. Is the experience that Sarah and I have had.

Hannah: Thinking about what you guys had talked about before, going through my DiSC profile and it’s with every strength comes a weakness and it’s just recognizing that about yourself and it’s not a bad thing, it’s just reality.

Krista: Right and the thing is that we don’t want to spend so much time on ‘weaknesses’, we say let’s capitalize on those strengths. Let’s make sure we use most of your strengths most of the time as Sarah said. 80% of the time if I can be in my zone of who I am, I will highly be energized to do the work that I do and I need to surround myself with people that are more talented in elements that yeah, they’re my weaknesses, yeah I could do them. But if I surround myself with somebody who is excellent at it, we are a cool team. We are a team that is a force to be reckoned with, we can really address all of the needs to the community when it comes to being a great financial planner.

Hannah: It’s funny have a number of friends who have one employee and one of the biggest problems is in the interview process they end up hiring somebody like themselves. Then it doesn’t work out and you’re like, well from the outside of course it wasn’t going to work out. You hired somebody who wants your job.

Krista: Right Sarah said many examples of that working with the coaching clients that she’s had with … We get in the interview, I really like them, would have coffee with them every day then they realize when they get them in the job itself, they’re like, they want to have coffee all day, they want to talk with me all day. They don’t necessarily want to do the work that I need them to do.

Hannah: I remember my first admin … Well the first one that worked out, we did some personality tests … Caveats set everything. One of them was, she was really high follow through. And I was like, “Oh I need you.” And it turned out to be a great relationship.

Krista: Right and that’s referencing the Kolbe index which is one that’s been around for a very long time. That one are the ones that we choose to use but we have several of our clients that use it in conjunction with the assessments that we use. Just because that’s a great high level overview of the person and then when they come to us, as we said earlier, a lot of times we’re coming because of dysfunction, we go down with a much more fine tune result by looking at the DiSC and the motivators side of things.

Hannah: So what are the motivators? I know you talked about that a little bit. What are the motivators that are out there for people. Especially as newer planner are looking for jobs, they’re looking to partner with people, what should they be looking for?

Krista: There is no one answer. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to teaming and so that’s why the motivators assessment is really helpful for looking at how people can be compatible not combat-able, compatible of working together. We have what’s called six universal motivators. And this goes for anyone in any industry. It doesn’t just mean the planning world. But it just means that there’s six kind of subject areas or areas of interest that people will have a desire, will view the world in that kind of lens in which what’s important for them and we kind of prioritize them. And those six different motivators the first one that’s pretty predominant in the financial services industry is called the economic. Because the economic is a person who’s looking for a return on investment of time, money and resources.

Krista: They’re very resourceful, they want to make sure we’re getting the most bang for our buck. That we’re growing and preserving assets. So the business world in general and especially the financial services world has always been very strongly driven by that economic motivator. And so profitability, productivity is of utmost importance. Another motivator that we see also a lot in the industry but not necessarily for everybody, is a conceptual motivator. Conceptual is all about seeking knowledge. Gaining and giving that information. Being inquisitive in nature. So it has nothing to do with smartness, IQ. It just really has to do with, “Do I want to dig down deeper and discover the truth in things.

Krista: So these folks in the industry are really good at discovery, getting to know the client. They’re very good at staying and attune to different financial strategies, what’s going on in the market, what are the different approaches to solving client problems, they’re very much the puzzle figure out. They figure out the end of the book before they finished reading it.

Krista: Another motivator that we see especially with their leaders in organizations as well and mostly in the financial planning world as well as kind of the leader of the free world is our power motivator. These are the folks that have real strong desire to be competitively driven, strategic, to be a leader, to champion their course and really kind of control their destiny and the destiny of others. The power motivator is one that’s consistently a strong one for lead financial planners in this world because they want to kind of like control their destiny. I mean that’s just what they want to do. So they have a harder time working in organizations where they feel like they are low on the totem pole.

Krista: The fourth one is called aesthetic which we don’t see as often in this industry but you have this one Hannah.

Hannah: It was my top one. Yeah.

Krista: Yeah. It was. And we don’t usually get to see as many aesthetics. I have the aesthetic also, it’s my third priority out of these six. The aesthetic person is very much into a life-work balance, a lifestyle business in particular. What I mean by life-work, I always say life-work because it’s because work comes last. In others words, our life comes first and we’re living to fulfill our own personal development. So our own best life. We’re putting a stamp out there. We’re unique characters. We usually have some ability to have artistic expression, an art form. We’re very much into the experience of living. So money should be something that is fulfilling our lifestyle. So the aesthetic motivator is a lot of times in this industry, every building that you kind of go into is kind of corporate gray. It’s because most of the people that are leading those organizations are low aesthetic. They’re not looking at the experience as much as somebody like you and I would be.

Krista: The fifth one is regulatory. I mentioned that one a little bit earlier. We also call this our principle motivator. It’s where we often see folks that that very much look that they have been on this earth for a calling, for a purpose. And we’re seeing a little bit more of this coming out in the industry than we have in the past. It’s usually a lower priority one but I am seeing more of it where especially for the younger planners that are joining in, is that they really feel that they have principles that they need to uphold and what is right to do for the client. Making sure that we hold true to our faith, our family and making sure that we leave a legacy.

Krista: So that’s the fifth one and then the last one is humanitarian. Our altruistic person. That’s the person that really would prefer to do pro bono work, would prefer to do on charitable work. It’s giving back to society, seeing the potential in other people and helping them live that potential. You might have some elements of all six of those but we usually prioritize the top three as being the top three as being those things that drive us forward. And what we’ll find out is a lot of times birds of a feather will flock together. So Sarah and I will share this need for theoretical or in that more strong conceptual motivator, that knowledge. Or because we’re consultants we want to share our knowledge but we also keep on working our craft and continuing to get more professional development is a very important aspect to what we do. And you’ve got that one hight too Hannah. The three ladies here we could just talk all day long and learn more and more about one another and about other subjects.

Hannah: We really could. Then what I love about this is, I know we keep saying this, is that there’s no right one. They’re all good.

Krista: Yes.

Hannah: It’s just how they work together and it’s understanding like, hey if my boss is that economic utility hardwired, cost benefit, return on investment, type, that’s the language that I need to be speaking to them.

Sarah: That’s exactly right and I think the assessments that we utilize, the DiSC really helps with role definition and it really helps with communication so we better understand our boss’ style, our team members style, all those good things. And we can flex our own personal style to make that working relationship more effective. And with the motivators, we hopefully have synergy with our other team members. So we have things in common and there’s top three motivators on the team. And when we don’t, sometimes that can be cause for sort of lack of chemistry. But when we’re aware of our own motivators and other team members, if they are different, that awareness in itself can be helpful in working together in a more effective way and having a better understanding of each other.

Hannah: We’re talking about these personalities, the motivators, one other things that came to mind as we were talking about that is, it’s one thing to work with … To have a boss who is a different motivator but when we’re still looking at partnerships or succession plans. Think it’s likely more important that you guys are aligned on some of the motivators. I guess the bigger question here is do you see this playing out with succession planning? Or what are you seeing in that space especially as it relates to this personality test or personality assessments.

Krista: Sarah why don’t you take that one ’cause you do a lot of work with succession planning with your clients I know.

Sarah: As it relates with the assessment Hannah, we see those tools being unbelievably helpful regardless of where the team is on that journey. So we utile them with young teams that are on growth mode and we utilize them for succession as well. The thing with succession is as Krista said earlier, there’s an aging financial advisor population, an aging financial planner population. And the industry has changed a lot. And for those who are still in the sole practitioner mode, and they’re looking to find a successor, many times they are looking for someone who is exactly like them because all they are looking for is to have a transition to get out and they want to find someone who’s just exactly like them from a DiSC perspective and possibly a motivator perspective as well.

Sarah: However, if they are looking for a successor but they’re on a team already, then we may not be looking for someone who’s exactly like them. We maybe looking for someone who’s the opposite of them. So as it relates to succession planning there is no sort of one answer as it relates to the DiSC and motivators assessments but they are unbelievably helpful when we first get the senior advisor or senior planner to define what exactly they’re looking for, for their vision, for the future for the exit strategy, for their ultimate team, their ultimate practice. So it starts with them and then understanding who is already on the team and then figuring out where the gaps are to fit into that.

Sarah: But some of the problems that we see with succession planning are that people are waiting till the last minute. It’s funny that we do financial planning for a living but we’re not really doing our own plan if you will. And so a lot of times advisors are like, “Yeah. I think I want to get out in a year.” Well, a year is not enough time even if you’ve already built a team and your success is on that team. A year is not enough time to make all the transitions that need to occur. So Krista and I have found that as it relates to transitioning client relationships, it takes a minimum of three years.

Sarah: So when you bring on a successor planner and you endorse them with your clients, that’s great but endorsement is entirely different than trust. And so they may feel that that person is, “Oh I’ve trusted my financial planner and they’ve brought this new person on …” But it’s going to take them three years of working with that new financial planner to really build that trusted relationship with them like they had with you. And so the biggest mistake we see is people waiting too long. Ideally you want to have a seven year plan for succession to transition out of the industry but at a very minimum as it relates to clients transitions, you want to have three years.

Krista: A lot of times we think we need someone just like me to take the business into the next generation when in reality because the industry is evolving, the person that would be your successor may not be like you. They may have same principles of how to do the investments, what kind of plans to put together and the product selection and all of that. But they may not be a carbon copy of you. And I think too many people think it should be and so every situation is unique and that’s why using the assessments and having good due diligence and taking the time to objectively look at the relationship before getting into it I think is so helpful.

Krista: So many people just jump right in or they say, “You’re successful, I’m successful. Let’s work together. Let’s figure it out.” When in reality that’s one of the worst things to do because they’ll just compete with one another. They won’t really get synergy. They won’t really see or reap the benefits of complementing one another. That’s why using the assessments would be very helpful ’cause in a succession plan that they may have waited too long, if we can understand who we are, what makes each of us tick, we can go into the relationship with an understanding that we can at least work together for the next couple of years to make this work.

Krista: If I had to work with you everyday for the next 30 years, that would be whole another story. But we want to try to make it so that there’s more formation of succession plans than there are disillusions of them. Because right now again it’s an industry that’s having some challenges and making sure there is a plan. I will have to say a lot of my clients that come to me, the planners that come to me they’re a little scared before they have had their first client actually say, “Well hey, you’re getting a little old. We’ve been working together for a long time now. What’s you plan because I don’t know with my money when you’re not around.” That feels horrible to the planner that’s having to receive that message from their top client. And so it’s better off to put a plan together before you get that question asked from any of your clients. ‘Cause if they’re not actually verbalizing it, they may still be thinking about it and not saying anything. So that’s a little bit of a shock factor a lot of times for the advisors on our call today.

Hannah: And being a young advisor I’ve heard clients say that they work with me because I’m young, because they know they won’t have to find another advisor.

Krista: There you go.

Hannah: And it’s when I have prospects call they’re like, “Why should I work with you?” And I’m I’ll say that. “I’m young. I’m going to be here when you’re 90.”

Krista: I am committed to your investments, I am committed to your plan, yeah exactly for a lifetime. That’s good.

Hannah: Why does all of these people … Because you’re very focused on understanding people and this team stuff really matter.

Sarah: So Hannah I think that often in business we focus so much time and energy on the numbers, the numbers and we forget that it’s people who drive the numbers. And so if we don’t focus on people, the numbers aren’t going to happen so we might have a record month or a record year but that success is not sustainable unless we have the right people on our teams surrounding us, helping drive that success. Krista and I talk a lot about ROP, return on people where so many in the industry focus on ROI. We kind of believe that ROP will drive ROI. If you focus on the people first, on building the right team that can drive your client experience, then the numbers, the big numbers, the big successes will follow.

Sarah: But you need the right people and you need to create the right culture and environment and team experience where they can thrive and grow and have fun and avoid dysfunction and all of those things and when you focus on that team experience, have great communication, great appreciation, growth potential, feedback. All of those things are going to breed team members that are loyal and productive which will dive those numbers and that productivity. And I think the industry has changed so much and I bet 25 years ago if you asked a financial planner or a financial advisors what business are we in, they would not say, “We’re in the relationship business.”

Sarah: Whereas today that is true. We’re definitely in the relationship business and the industry has changed dramatically over the last two decades. We no longer sell products, we solve problems. What we do today is relational not transactional. We’ve gone from being reactive to being planning based. We’ve gone from me the sole practitioner to we, the team. We’ve transitioned from being more competitive to more collaborative. We’ve gone from serving the masses to serving a niche or a target audience. We’ve gone from low touch to high touch.

Sarah: All of these things are people oriented, are relational in nature. And so what Krista and I see so often is that people are focused on the business side, the marketing, the numbers. And they’re avoiding dealing with the people issues that they have which could be not enough people, it could be the wrong people, it could be the right people but in the wrong role. It could be communication. And when focus on all of those internal people issues … Where can we drive bigger numbers and greater success and be able to do more for our clients. So people to us is fundamental to the ultimate success of the business.

Krista: We do this business. We help planners and their team members and in reality anyone that comes up to me who’s not happy at what they do, who’s in a job that doesn’t fulfill them. I like to shake them. I like to tell them, “It doesn’t have to be this way.” I watched a TED Talk probably about a year ago now and I said, this is why I do what I do. It was a TED Talk on how to live to be a hundred plus. It was on National Geographic studying these incredible communities called the Blue Zones and talking about how they eat certain things or they do exercise or they take their medication. What is it that really keeps these unique communities in Italy and Greece and Costa Rica … Actually there’s one in California. It’s the one that’s closest for us. What is it about these folks that they last so long?

Krista: And it’s because of their relationship with other people. Their social integration, their ability to communicate and interact with people and smile and look at people on the face. Not look at your smartphone and send a text, because it doesn’t do the same thing to your brain of making your happy and making it feel like you’ve had a chocolate bar all day of putting some dopamine and some good oxytocin in your brain and making you feel good. It’s when you look at somebody and you talk to them and you see them face-to-face.

Krista: I think there’s so many people … I saw it when I was a kid. As I mentioned earlier I worked in my family business where my father and I just couldn’t get along and that was because of his style of leadership. He just would yell at people and if you didn’t like it, you got out of there and you quit. And I just saw the revolving door and the angst on people’s faces. I wanted to make a commitment to help people really find what their talent is, what their contribution is and let them have healthier relationships with the people that they’re working with. We spend so many hours at the office.

Krista: And why have a relationship that’s not the best? And so I really want our leaders, our planners that are building enterprises to really think about their environment. Is it one where you can be there for a hundred years that you really want to be there. Because it’s not the stuff we’re eating or the medication we’re taking or the exercise. It’s really the distinction. It’s really about the relationships we have with the everyday people that we spend our time with. So that’s why we spend so much time on ROP as Sarah called it, return on people.

Hannah: And if you do that right, your clients benefit and that’s really what this is all about in the end. It’s how do we help our clients.

Krista: Yes.

Hide Transcript

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Krista Sheets and Sarah Dale from FPA’s Coach’s Corner are here on this week’s episode of #YAFPNW to talk about how to combat a dysfunctional workplace and build a people-focused team. There are so many unhealthy work environments within the financial planning profession, and both Krista and Sarah agree that this largely is a result of poor communication. As a result, they help the planners they work with on developing well-structured team communication plans, amplifying everyone’s voice on a financial planning team, and creating an environment that fosters positive communication. Krista and Sarah discuss the importance of understanding team members and using various personality tests to identify strengths and what motivates each person on a team.
In this episode, Krista and Sarah are going to be discussing how to spot warning signs of a dysfunctional workplace, the best way to communicate efficiently, and how focusing on team development can lead to a more successful career in the financial planning profession.


 
What You’ll Learn:

What creates workplace dysfunction
How to make people-focused workplace decisions
The best way that young planners can help their practice build a functional, healthy work space
How to effectively communicate to avoid dysfunction
Why words matter
How to communicate questions, challenges, and frustrations
Best practices to identify warning signs of a dysfunctional team
Why much of our dysfunction never gets addressed
How each individual can focus on their strengths and personality traits to contribute to their team effectively
Why team building matters for financial planners in our “people focused” profession
How to create a healthy succession plan
The best way to define roles in your practice and amongst your team
Why focusing on people is often a better investment than focusing on the numbers

 
 
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Hannah Moore clean 1:00:14
Growing Together: Voices of Gathering 2018 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-growing-together-voices-of-gathering-2018/ Tue, 10 Jul 2018 20:19:16 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11494 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-growing-together-voices-of-gathering-2018/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-growing-together-voices-of-gathering-2018/feed/ 0 This episode is brought to you by the many incredible voices of NexGen Gathering 2018 attendees. Ian Harvey, the FPA NexGen President, also joins us to share about the theme of NexGen Gathering and how we can together, as a larger financial planning movement, grow together. Today, we bring you your peers! Members of our community at the 2018 NexGen Gathering were kind enough to share their biggest career struggles, what they have done to overcome them, and why they are passionate about financial planning. Each has their own story and perspective that gives us a better idea of the profession as a whole.

Ian Harvey, the FPA NexGen President also joins us to share about the theme of NexGen Gathering and how we can together, as a larger financial planning movement, grow together. He challenges new planners that this is our profession and the future of the profession is in our hands. New planners, like you, are being challenged to take your seat at the table and help move our profession forward.

NexGen Gathering is one of the biggest events for new financial planners in the country and we took the opportunity to interview many voices at Gathering to give you a taste of the energy and passion new planners have around the profession.

hannah's signature

What I love most about financial planning is helping people. -Bryce Snell on #YAFPNW

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What You’ll Learn:

  • Why NexGeners are passionate about financial planning
  • What the biggest challenges NexGeners have faced in their careers
  • What NexGeners have done to overcome those challenges
  • Why finding your community as a new planner is so important
  • How new planners are changing the landscape of our profession
  • How to find your community and other passionate financial planners like you
  • The important role that we, as new planners, have in moving our profession forward and taking a seat at the table

 

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This episode is brought to you by the many incredible voices of NexGen Gathering 2018 attendees. Ian Harvey, the FPA NexGen President, also joins us to share about the theme of NexGen Gathering and how we can together, Ian Harvey, the FPA NexGen President also joins us to share about the theme of NexGen Gathering and how we can together, as a larger financial planning movement, grow together. He challenges new planners that this is our profession and the future of the profession is in our hands. New planners, like you, are being challenged to take your seat at the table and help move our profession forward.
NexGen Gathering is one of the biggest events for new financial planners in the country and we took the opportunity to interview many voices at Gathering to give you a taste of the energy and passion new planners have around the profession.


 
What You’ll Learn:

Why NexGeners are passionate about financial planning
What the biggest challenges NexGeners have faced in their careers
What NexGeners have done to overcome those challenges
Why finding your community as a new planner is so important
How new planners are changing the landscape of our profession
How to find your community and other passionate financial planners like you
The important role that we, as new planners, have in moving our profession forward and taking a seat at the table

 
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Hannah Moore clean 36:49
Becoming a Marketing Advocate for Financial Planners http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-becoming-a-marketing-advocate-for-financial-planners/ Tue, 03 Jul 2018 16:38:27 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11369 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-becoming-a-marketing-advocate-for-financial-planners/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-becoming-a-marketing-advocate-for-financial-planners/feed/ 0 Patrick Brewer, CFA, CPA, founder of SurePath Wealth Management and Brewer Consulting, has found his passion in helping other planners learn to market themselves. Patrick helps other planners to find their voice, connect with their ideal clients, and advocating for young planners who are ready to make a name for themselves. Patrick Brewer, CFA, CPA, founder of SurePath Wealth Management and Brewer Consulting, has found his passion in helping other planners learn to market themselves. He started as many planners do – in a call-center type of roll fielding questions from people who were looking to close their retirement accounts because they were afraid of the markets. That roll inspired him to pursue a career as a financial planner.

He quickly realized that the financial services industry pushes planner marketing that creates a uniform planner “persona” across the board. He believes that this type of sales-driven, cookie cutter marketing is hurting solo financial planners who are good people and are trying to get client eyes on them.

Patrick still runs SurePath Wealth Management, his financial planning practice. But through Brewer Consulting, he’s also staying connected in the financial planning profession and helping other planners to find their voice, connect with their ideal clients, and advocating for young planners who are ready to make a name for themselves.

hannah's signature

A lot of (planners) are good humans looking to help other good humans, but they’re running into a lot of road blocks. Patrick Brewer, CFA, CPA on #YAFPNW

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What You’ll Learn:

  • How traditional sales methods and marketing limits new financial planners
  • How to recognize and then articulate your value to firm owners and clients
  • How to identify your client’s pain points to put together a marketing plan that accesses them
  • How to warm up your audience
  • Ways you can use funnels and video to target your ideal clients
  • How to keep marketing budgets low at the start of your business
  • The importance of growing niche affiliations.

 

Show Transcript

Ep105 Transcript


Hannah: Thanks for joining us today, Patrick.

Patrick: Happy to be here, Hannah. Thanks for having me on the show.

Hannah: Yes, absolutely. So, you are the founder of SurePath Wealth, a financial planning firm down in Austin, as well as Brewer Consulting. We’ll dive more into the Brewer Consulting and how your career has transitioned, but what I find so interesting about you is your career path and how you’ve navigated different roles, if you would. So, how did you first get into the area of financial planning?

Patrick: Well, we have to back up a few years if we’re going through the story. So it took me about, I want to say, eight years or so to make it into financial planning. I actually graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in finance and really had no idea what I wanted to do. Frankly, I didn’t really work that hard in school because I just didn’t know what I was working for. I would go to class and I would learn these things and be like, “How does this apply to the real world?” I didn’t really understand exactly how I was going to transition this head knowledge into anything meaningful.

Patrick: So When I graduated, it was 2008, and I learned the hard way that you should probably work hard in school if you want to get a job that you don’t want to stab yourself in the eye with a fork when you get it. I went to work for Vanguard, which is a great company and I learned a ton, and that was the turning point for me. I lived my life in a way that was more lackadaisical. I didn’t really have a strong sense of what I wanted to do, what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Patrick: And when I started working for Vanguard, the first two to three months were training. They would train you on the Series 65 and the Series 6 so that you could start taking phone calls. I was placed in the institutional services groups, where I would take … I didn’t know this at the time, but I would take about 100 phone calls a day from people that were looking to cash out their retirement accounts and do nothing. They were just scared of the market. And I was 22 years old at the time. I had no idea what I was doing, didn’t understand financial markets. Got probably a C in whatever class they taught that in at the university. The first call I got, it changed my entire life. The reason why is I picked up the phone and my trainer was sitting right next to me and he was supposed to be there to guide me on the calls.

Patrick: I pick up the phone and it was a guy from Mississippi. It was a plumbing and pipe fitter union and he goes, “I want to cash out my OK 401. Can you help me with this?” I just look over at the guy training me, and the only thing that was flashing through my mind is, “This is not my life. There’s no way this is my life right now.” So it flipped a switch in my mind where I realized that this was something that I needed to go through because I hadn’t really applied myself. I didn’t really do any of the hard work on the front end to get a job that I would enjoy doing, and it just changed me.

Patrick: I went nuts. I studied for the CPA after work after taking 100 phone calls a day until 7:00 p.m. because there was mandatory overtime. I would stay until 10:00 and study for the CPA because there was this one out. There was one out that I had and it was applying for this accelerated rotation program that Vanguard offered, and that was all that was on my mind. It was like, “I have to get this because I can’t take 100 phone calls a day. This can’t possibly be my life.”  As much as I wanted to help these people, I just didn’t feel like I had the skillset to do it at the time because honestly, people calling in with a million dollars in their account and wanting to cash it out at the time to me felt a little overwhelming with no real knowledge in financial markets or investments outside of what I had kind of remembered from school.

Patrick: I applied for that program while I was taking my CPA and I made it to the final round, then I didn’t get it. That was a tough year, because I then had to prepare for it again because they only offered it once a year, and by the second time, I was able to get through the CPA and had differentiated myself enough in that role that I was accepted into the program. And you would think that I would’ve just stayed at Vanguard and been like, “Oh, I achieved my goal and now I’m in this accelerated rotational program through corporate finance, fund accounting, and audit,” but that fire that was lit in me during that first call could not be extinguished.

Patrick: I was there for two months, did a rotation through corporate finance, a little bit through audit, and realized that I was not supposed to be in the mid office. I was the worst mid office person ever because it was too analytical. There was no interaction with people and the projects were very linear. My mom, who had also worked for Vanguard, I followed her there. Honestly, the only reason I got the job with Vanguard is because my mom worked there. She had moved to Austin, Texas about two and a half years after I started working … Or, sorry, while I started working at Vanguard, she moved to Austin, Texas and she had been there for about two and a half years while I had been working at Vanguard.

Patrick: And she started working for this company, and many of you will probably know that are listening, Dimensional Fund Advisors. She had called me one day and was like, “Hey, I’m working for this company, Dimensional. I think you’d really like it. There’s a lot of people that I think have your personality. They seemed to be wired similarly.” Sorry, guys, if you’re listening to this. I know you’re not a crazy person like me.

Patrick: She said, “You should come down here and interview. I think you’d really enjoy it.” I took her up on it. I flew to Austin, met with pretty much their entire sales team. It was a much smaller company at that time. If anyone is listening who’s familiar with Dimensional, really small, tight knit sales group. And I met with most of the senior leadership and I just loved it. I accepted the job offer as soon as they made it to me or gave it to me. And that was to become an associate in the financial advisor services group.

Patrick: So I flew to Austin, moved down there, and worked my way up over a couple years into a regional director role, got the CFA, because that’s what you needed to be cool at Dimensional. That was pretty brutal for me, because I’m not wired to be a CFA, but I got it. And after about a year and a half of being a front-facing regional director, working with advisors one on one and getting a really good look at the industry from the strategic relationships that they had, like Loring Ward multi-billion dollar firms, through the broker dealer home office to the individual RIAs, I felt like I had a really good understanding of the industry and how to build an advisory firm.

Patrick: That fire was still going, and I’m a pretty competitive person, so I decided that the corporate world wasn’t for me and I needed to do something a little bit more entrepreneurial. An opportunity presented itself. There was a gentlemen out in Sacramento. He was an advisor.

Hannah: So, wait, wait, wait. Before we get there, okay, so you just ran through a bunch of this. I’m like …

Patrick: Yeah.

Hannah: Let’s talk about, at Vanguard, you’re basically in a call center. And you keep talking about this first phone call that you had that really lit a fire under you. What about that call really lit that fire for you?

Patrick: I think it was just the idea of … I felt like I could do more. Having not really prepared myself in school and then getting on the phone and hearing someone who clearly didn’t understand what they were doing or how to interact with finances and being in their 50s, and this guy was in his mid 50s, to not understand, like he was in a 401(k) and did not understand that he was probably 5-10 years out from retirement, I was like, “How is this happening? How is this a real thing right now that this person doesn’t know that they need to retire in 10 years and they haven’t saved anything?” It was a combination of that, and then just the combination of taking 100 calls. As soon as I was told I needed to take 100 calls a day, that was a little overwhelming.

Hannah: Yes, 100 calls a day, how many is that an hour? That’s 10-15 an hour?

Patrick: It’s the worst thing ever. We were chained to the desk pretty much, and you’re trying to drink coffee to make it through, but they only had nondairy creamer because it’s Vanguard trying to cut costs. You weren’t getting Starbucks anytime soon.

Hannah: And so you moved to Dimensional Funds. How long were you at DFA?

Patrick: I was at DFA for about four years.

Hannah: For about four years.

Patrick: About four years at DFA.

Hannah: I always think it’s really interesting, especially when you start talking to wholesalers, because they get such an inside look at all the advisors that they talk with, all their practices. So you were … I’m using the wrong term, I know … the external wholesaler or relationship manager?

Patrick: Yes. Moved from internal to external. I know that wholesaler is kind of an evil word in Dimensional speak, but yes, that’s pretty much what I was doing.

Hannah: Yes, I know.

Patrick: Too bad.

Hannah: Sorry, guys. So you would just go around to different offices. Were you coaching advisors or just trying to help them integrate DFA into their practice, or what did those conversations with the advisory practices that you went out with, what were those like?

Patrick: It was a variety of conversations. I mean, I had a really good, I guess spread, as far as the types of advisors I was exposed to. When I first started, I was supporting people in the RA space. So it was anyone from $20 million up to let’s say, $300 million in assets and I was working on a team doing portfolio analytics, helping them understand the dimensional investment philosophy and all the things that go into how to build a portfolio that captures market rates and return at the least amount of cost. All the fun stuff that Dimensional talks about. And then I got promoted and started working the broker dealer space, and that was a really cool role, because I got to lead some of the initiatives with LPL’s MWP platform, and worked with one of my mentors, Hunt, on building all of the investment models for MWP on behalf of Dimensional, and just interfacing with the home office. So I got to see how the industry actually worked that supported the advisors on the broker-dealer side.

Patrick: And then I had a brief stay on the strategic side with Loring Ward and a couple of the other larger relationships that Dimensional has. Got to work with them, their advisors, see how they do things. Great firm there, and then transitioned back into a one-to-one advisor, let’s call it wholesaler, where I was flying out, covering the West Coast, and meeting with a lot of the larger advisors that were affiliated with Dimensional that maintained a broker-dealer affiliation. It was a good mix of responsibilities.

Hannah: One of the things that I’ve seen that’s really hard for people to wrap their head around, especially when they’re starting out, is the landscape of the financial services industry, or profession, or whatever you want to call it, and how many options there are to really do work in the RIA space, in the broker-dealer space. So to the people listening who don’t really have a firm idea of that landscape, how can they find out more? How can they learn more about what their options are as an advisor or a planner?

Patrick: When you say what their options are, do you mean how they decide whether they want to be part of a broker-dealer or an RIA or join a larger firm? What type of options do you mean?

Hannah: Yeah, kind of thinking through that … I guess what I’m seeing a lot of, and maybe this is just my biases come through, but I’m seeing people who are in the RIA space only being exposed to the RIA, or in the broker-dealer world only being exposed to the broker-dealer world. And there’s so much more out there. And so how do we break people out of that isolation, if you would?

Patrick: Yeah, it’s tough. A lot of people like to … They’re comfortable with what they know, and they feel like what they know is right, and they’re looking for confirmation bias, and they hang out only with people that know what they know and think of the world in the way that they do. So it’s tough to mix them together. It’s interesting, I have about 140 advisors in my marketing program, some of which are affiliated with a broker-dealer, some of which are fee-only RIAs, and what I’ve noticed is the advisors that are affiliated with a broker-dealer, they hustle, man. These guys, they get it, they understand that this is a marketing and sales game on the front end, and they’re willing to do what it takes to build a real business.

Patrick: And those people definitely exist on the RIA side, don’t get me wrong. Fee-only, fee-based, whatever you are. But I’ve just found that in the broker-dealer space, there’s a lot of even younger advisors who were homegrown in that environment, and they’re just open to the push, I like to call it. Working hard and building the business. And they have the mindset for it.

Patrick: So I think that the broker-dealer model, I’m not big on that. I think that maybe broken dealer can be a better term to describe a lot of the things that are happening right now in the broker-dealer space. But there are some progressive broker-dealers who do a good job for their advisors. It’s just, as with anything, you’re going to find some that are good and some that are bad. But I think the cool thing that I’ve seen with my group of individuals, advisors, is there is that cross-pollination, and when they start to see things from each other’s perspective, it’s kind of neat to watch how they interact and start to share more of a common vision. But yeah, I don’t think there’s any perfect way to break down those walls.

Hannah: Right. And it’s just one of the challenges that we have.

Patrick: Yeah.

Hannah: Yeah. So you’re at DFA, you’re flying to the West Coast to help basically coach financial planning firms. What were your biggest takeaways from that experience, especially working one-on-one with these firms?

Patrick: In general, it was a very positive experience. There’s a lot of advisors … What annoyed me the most, and the reason why I wanted to get, I think, out of Dimensional and into the advice business in some capacity, was how frustrated the advisors were about how they were really trying to help people, but everyone saw them as being exactly the same, because you’ve got the Northwestern Mutuals of the world and all these big boys that pump sales and marketing super hard and are selling products. And then you’ve got XYZ advisor who’s got $60 million in assets who’s fee-only, who’s an expert planner, he’s been doing it for 20 years.

Patrick: And I’m sitting there talking to him and he’s just super upset because he doesn’t have the ability to uniquely connect with people in a way that he’s comfortable with, that they’re comfortable with, and that was … The biggest takeaway that I really had from it was there’s a lot of good advisors out there that have a story to tell, and they have a message that would resonate with their audience, but they just … They became complacent because the industry just spends so much money and energy making them all look and feel the exact same.

Patrick: So that kind of bothered me, and I didn’t really know how to solve the problem at the time, but that was one of the big takeaways that I had, I think, from serving advisors out on the West Coast. A lot of them were just really good humans and looking to help other humans, but they were running into a lot of roadblocks.

Hannah: That’s interesting. You said that the industry puts a lot of money into making everybody look the same. Can you talk about that more?

Patrick: Oh, yeah. I don’t think there’s going to be anybody … Most people disagree with some of the things I say, but I think this one, this is pretty much a fact. But the goal of the industry is to sell product, for the most part. Most of the industry’s designed to sell product. And by making the good advisors look exactly like the sales people and annoying the consumer with bait-and-switch messaging, like, “Hey, you want a financial plan? Well, it looks like you need more life insurance or disability insurance.” It’s like, no, me and my wife are actually totally all set on that. We just don’t know how to spend and allocate our resources. “Well, let’s talk about this whole life insurance plan. This could be a really good thing for you.”

Patrick: So I just think there’s a lot of money and energy spent. I don’t think it’s the advisor’s fault, I think it’s the system’s fault for knowing that they can make a profit off these things, and then teaching people how to sell product versus becoming experts in advice. But I’m preaching to the choir here on that. I just think that the marketing machine that is the large financial services firms, the only way to stop them will be if they get fully regulated. But we saw what happened with that, so …

Hannah: That’s a whole ‘nother conversation.

Patrick: Oh, yeah. We could go down that rabbit hole for decades, so … skip that one.

Hannah: Oh my gosh, yeah. Okay, so are you the type who … You got the interview at DFA. You took the offer right away. So as you’re thinking about leaving DFA, is this something that you’ve put a lot of thought into, or was it more of an opportunity that arose and you just jumped on it?

Patrick: I was kind of brash, I think, especially in my 20s. I was probably 27 at the time when I decided to leave Dimensional, and I was super cocky, ’cause I had moved up quickly at DFA, and there were a lot of really talented people there. And I just had this weird idea in my mind that I can build this, I don’t need to be in a W2 role, and it was more driven out of pride and ego, I think, than anything else.

Patrick: But I definitely … I don’t think I fully evaluated the situation, and there were definitely some warning signs on the front end from my wife, from my family, saying, “Hey, I think you should slow down. Seems to be moving pretty fast.” So I would say that it was more of a gut-level decision than one that was fully researched, despite the fact that I had the CFA and I should’ve probably researched it a little bit more. But those habits didn’t take place.

Hannah: What was your next step after Dimensional?

Patrick: I ended up partnering with two advisors that I didn’t really know that well. They were good guys, and they were going to put up a substantial amount of capital, and we were going to buy a firm out in Sacramento, California. It was a larger firm, about $200-ish million in assets under their management. Fee-only, DFA, Vanguard. Awesome people that were at that firm. I really enjoyed my time there. The problem was I was a super charged up late 20-year-old who wanted to take over the world, and I entered into a suburban Sacramento firm that had three working typewriters. And it was mostly me just coming in and being a complete tornado. I wanted to redo the entire operating infrastructure, all the technology, all the marketing, the brand, I was just … It was like you could walk into a house, and it’s not your style of home, and you’re like, “I need to rip everything out. We need to refurnish the whole place in 10 seconds.” That’s kind of how I interacted with the opportunity.

Patrick: And it was really a shame, because had I had a little bit more self-awareness and a little bit more experience, I think I would’ve dealt with it differently. But there were some other things that happened throughout the time of me being in Sacramento. I was only there for about a year. Ended up selling my shares back to my partners that had put up the money to acquire the firm, and initially, the goal was to build a larger conglomerate of firms. A roll-up similar to, let’s say, United Capital or BAM or something like that. And in my naïve 27-year-old mind, I thought, “Yeah, I can compete with these guys at 27 with no knowledge outside of Dimensional.” So I needed to learn the hard way to stick my hand on the stove, get burned a few times, and that’s pretty much how that went down after I left DFA.

Hannah: I have so many questions about that experience, but you probably don’t want to-

Patrick: Go for it. It’s fun. Yeah, that could be a two-day … It’s a two-dayer. I do have, I guess whatever that clause is in the contract that says where you can’t say certain things. So I could probably talk a little bit, but …

Hannah: Yeah. Okay, so you’re there. You’re a bit of a bull in a china shop is what I’m hearing.

Patrick: There you go. Why don’t you talk for me? That’s so much faster.

Hannah: So what was the point where you realized that it wasn’t going to work out?

Patrick: I think about four months in. I had been out there for about four months, and the advisor that had sold us the practice, he was really reluctant to introduce me to clients. I think it was because I was changing things inside of the firm, as far as how we were doing things from a technology standpoint, from a workflow process standpoint. About four months in, I started to see the writing on the wall that there was going to be some issues between his personality and my personality, and that’s when everything started to move in the wrong direction, as far as being, I guess, negative versus positive. So it took about four months in, I would say.

Hannah: You work with a lot of advisors. So to the person who’s in that spot, who sees the writing on the wall, is it worth waiting it out?

Patrick: As far as building your own firm, or as far as actually waiting it out and waiting for the succession plan-

Hannah: Trying to make it work.

Patrick: … to fully be realized? Man, that is a tough question. It really depends on the team dynamic and the personalities that are at play. I’d say for me, now I might be able to do it in my early 30s, now that I’ve had some more life experience. Some people, I’ve noticed, are a lot more mild-mannered than me, and they’re more patient, and they’re going to be in a better position to have an effective transition in a succession planning environment. I still think that I’m more of the bull in the china shop. I don’t think, for me, I would ever try that strategy again. But I think for some people, it could be a really great way to enter the industry, especially if they find somebody who can mentor them into the profession, into relationships. It could be a really cool thing, it just never really turned out like that for me.

Hannah: I can’t imagine working for somebody else at this point in my life, and just from hearing so far your story, I can’t imagine that you would want to go work for somebody else at this point either.

Patrick: I can’t. I’m broken at this point. I know too much about a lot of different things, and I just feel like if I had to work for someone in a W-2 role, I would drive them completely insane. And I can definitely work with partners. Actually, I really enjoy working with other people and having partners, but if there’s someone … I can report to someone who moves super fast and is a visionary all day long. But what I’ve had trouble with, every time I get put behind someone, I always want to move faster, and they’re always uncomfortable with it. Not to say I’m always right, but I just have to make mistakes. If I feel like I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to make a mistake, and I just have to move. I just feel like I’m in a constant state of motion with that stuff.

Hannah: Did you know that you wanted to start your own business right away?

Patrick: Honestly, I didn’t. I went through this weird transition. I kind of felt like I was taken advantage of a little bit, I feel like, when I was in Sacramento. In hindsight that’s not true, but I had this chip on my shoulder, so I didn’t really know if I wanted to start my own business, go back to work for Dimensional, go find a job somewhere else. And I took a couple months off and just did some soul searching to figure out what was going to be the next step, and I decided that I was unemployable, like we talked about. There was no going back and working for someone, so I needed to figure out what type of business I wanted to be in.

Patrick: And frankly, I didn’t feel confident at that point that I was ready to start a wealth management firm from ground zero. If I’m completely honest, I think I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to grow the business, because I didn’t really have a sustainable process for getting in front of anyone, and I didn’t really know anybody that I could talk to about wealth management. All of my friends and family worked for Dimensional or Vanguard or some other place in the industry, so I couldn’t just call them and be like, “Hey, you know that Dimensional fund you own? Why don’t you just transfer it over to me and I’ll manage it for you?” That wasn’t going to happen.

Patrick: So I felt, I guess, a little bit hesitant to start my own firm right after that opportunity in Sacramento had fallen through.

Hannah: And so what did that time look like for you?

Patrick: It was a little bit of a dark time, honestly. It was one of those things where I had a six-figure job at Dimensional, I was doing really well, I was moving up the corporate ladder. My wife was super stoked about it. I had a lot of certainty in my life, and I decided to blow up the certainty, move to Sacramento against my family’s, probably, request, and ended up with that partnership blowing up in under 13 months. So I got some money out of the deal for the troubles and everything, but I spent a lot of time and mental and emotional energy in that engagement. I felt like I was working 100 hours a week for the 13 … I probably was. And I was flying every single week from Sacramento to Austin to get back home on the weekends to see my wife, who was still working in Austin.

Patrick: And I was burnt out. I was very emotionally fragile, I think, after that opportunity. So I needed some time to collect myself and really figure out what the next step was going to be. So it was not like a really fun time, I would say, for me in my life.

Hannah: And so what got you out of that? Or maybe you’re still in it, I don’t know. But what was the transition point for you? You obviously started … We’ve already prefaced this whole podcast, that you have your own firm. What led you down that path?

Patrick: It was a couple things. At first, I didn’t start the firm because I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to do it. I just didn’t think I had a good marketing strategy. I chatted with the guys over at XY Planning Network. Good folks. They had just started, I think, when I left … I probably would’ve been member number 50 or something, had I joined back then. And I just didn’t feel confident that there was any type of a marketing strategy that I could take up to be able to be successful.

Patrick: So I ended up doing something completely random. I’m not going to go into this in a lot of detail, just because it would sidetrack us, but I started an insurance company. An insurance agency, rather. It was a Medicare insurance agency that was initially designed to help people that were turning 65 find the right Medicare plan. And it was going to be a quoting tool backed by data. So I hired two developers, and we were going to build this tool where we could smart search all the plans, and based on the medications and the doctors that people saw, we’d be able to figure out which plan was going to be most appropriate, and it was going to revolutionize the Medicare industry.

Patrick: So long story short, what I realized after about seven months is I wasn’t in the technology space, I wasn’t in the insurance space. I was in the online marketing space, because healthcare is one of the most competitive lead generation markets in the entire world. So even if I built the best quoting tool ever, which I couldn’t do because there was one company that had a specific exclusive contract with medicare.gov for the price of the drug at the pharmacy level, so we couldn’t even build the tool. But had we been able to build the tool, we would’ve been a marketing company, and not an insurance or technology firm, because we need to drive eyeballs in order to get people to interact with the product.

Patrick: So then I started really getting into online marketing, direct response, lead generation, and that shaped my path for the next three and a half, four years.

Hannah: And so is that what gave you the confidence to start your own firm, that you thought that you had a marketing strategy?

Patrick: Yeah, it did, because I started putting together a marketing strategy for the Medicare company. We basically pivoted off the quoting tool and just started doing lead generation to make money and to try and build something, ’cause frankly, I was running out of money. I was paying developers, I thought I was super cool working out of WeWork in Austin, and every month, the bills just kept coming in, and the revenue was flat-lined right at zero. And I was working probably 90-100 hours a week, trying to figure out, how do I build a client acquisition strategy that’s going to get eyeballs on this fricking website so I can sell a Medicare product?

Patrick: And after spending probably $30-40 grand in researching it and testing things, I was able to put together a sales funnel. Right now compared to what I do, it’s pretty basic, but it was this linear sales funnel on Facebook, basically driving people to a webinar that would drive them to a call center or a workshop, and then we would have them attend a workshop locally in Austin, San Antonio, or Dallas, or we would try and sell them over the phone if they were open to that. And we were able to get the business to about $25,000 in monthly recurring revenue selling mostly Medicare supplements.

Patrick: But I just got tired of Medicare. It’s a really shady industry. There’s just dealing with insurance companies and all the politics and BS that comes with that. I just had to get out, so we stopped doing that after about a year. And I say we, it was mostly me doing that, and I had a couple agents that were working part-time. But I stopped doing that after about a year into it.

Hannah: So, it’s funny. I haven’t … We’ve done over 100 podcast episodes. I’m trying to think back if there was anybody who’s ever done Medicare plans like that. And I think some people may have done them on the side, but nobody went full in on it. So that’s really interesting.

Patrick: I wouldn’t recommend it. I would not recommend going full boar into Medicare, I’ll tell you firsthand.

Hannah: Maybe there’s a reason you’re the only one to do that.

Patrick: Yeah, I’m the only weirdo. I needed to burn myself down before I was ready to get back up, and I feel like that’s what was going on here, so.

Hannah: So as you did that, were you still in touch with the financial planning community, that larger … Did you know that you wanted to go back to financial planning? Because at this point, you could go sell widgets online. What kept you in financial services?

Patrick: It was actually a meeting that I had with a guy who’s now one of my partners in the wealth management firm. His name is Tim Power. Awesome guy, we met through my stepdad. Tim and my stepdad were doing prison ministry at the same prison. They weren’t in prison, they were doing ministry there. And they met, and Tim had overheard my stepdad talk about how we were doing the stuff in Medicare. And Tim approached him and said, “Hey, you’re doing some stuff in Medicare. I’m a financial advisor.”

Patrick: So they started talking and my stepdad decided that it would make sense for me and Tim to meet up, so we met up about a week later at a Whole Foods north of Austin, and we just started talking. And within 30 minutes, Tim could … Based on my background, the CFA and everything, he’s like, “Dude, why are you selling Medicare? This makes no sense. It’s like death from a thousand paper cuts. Why are you doing this to yourself?” And I didn’t really have a good answer for him, and it caused me to really just step back and reflect on it. I’m like, “Why am I building a marketing agency selling Medicare? That doesn’t make any sense.”

Patrick: And Tim just hung around and we just kept talking, and his background … He worked at New York Life, Eagle Strategies, was definitely more on the insurance side, wanted to transition into more of a fee-based or fee-only role, but just didn’t have a good running mate because he’s more wired to connect with people emotionally. He’s a great sales guy, but just doesn’t have a strong interest in the complex aspect of financial planning and doing all the detailed work.

Patrick: And we just decided one night, we’re like, “You know what? Let’s just fricking start a wealth management firm and see where it goes. And I think for me … For Tim, that was awesome. He was like, “I just want to start a wealth management firm, it’s the best thing ever.” For me, I was still like, “I kind of want to see if I can build it. I don’t know if I necessarily want to be a financial advisor, I don’t know if I necessarily have a really strong interest in financial planning. But I really like the industry, and I’m almost more curious to see if I could do it.” It was like a test in a weird way. I know I’m a weird person.

Hannah: A challenge.

Patrick: Yeah, because I just saw a lot of people honestly struggling. I was looking at a lot of the advisors that I think are super talented. They’re phenomenal planners. A lot of them are now in my program on the marketing side, and they were struggling to acquire clients. And I’m like, I want to see if this is possible. I’m going to give it my best go for 12-13 months, and I’m going to see what happens and see if I can do it or not. And that’s pretty much what we set out to do.

Hannah: And is this the SurePath Wealth Management?

Patrick: This is SurePath Wealth Management, that’s what we created about two years ago now.

Hannah: And so you and Tim, were you 50/50 business partners on this, or …

Patrick: No, so I ended up funding the entire business. So right now, well, basically where we’re at now is I still own 100% of the firm, but I’m probably going to be diversifying the equity structure, ’cause I’m focused a lot more on market strategy and consulting and things now, and we need some other people to step in and carry some of the weight. So right now, I’m 100% owner.

Hannah: Oh, I just love that you say that knowing that you want to give up some of the ownership of it. It’s like, yes! You get how it works.

Patrick: Of course.

Hannah: Or how it should work.

Patrick: Oh, that’s my biggest point of frustration in the industry right now, is all these old cats hanging onto their equity for dear life, and making talented young people that could be empowered to be in a role of greater responsibility do it on their own from scratch. It pisses me off, frankly. And that’s part of my mission, if anyone listens to my message on the marketing side … For better or for worse, it’s kind of an against brand. I’m training the next generation of advisor to take market share aggressively so that when the tidal wave comes in 7-10 years and assets start to transition … Let’s just say my right capital software has $30-40 million in inheritances already modeled out, and that’s coming from somewhere.

Hannah: Absolutely. So you start this wealth management practice. So what was that experience, what was the first month of that like?

Patrick: It was all in the registration, honestly. I registered the firm in basically three weeks. I just went completely insane, registered it. I was driving down to the Texas State Securities Board every day and harassing them. I brought donuts and tacos in one day, like, “Hey, maybe push this file up to the top here?” ‘Cause we had some people that were ready to roll over some money that we had got from the Medicare webinars, so that’s initially what started getting us going, was we were running the webinars, and instead of just selling Medicare, we were upselling wealth management and financial planning and things like that.

Hannah: So you had already started building out that marketing pipeline through your Medicare business. Was the timing so that you shut down your Medicare business as soon as the wealth management got up and running?

Patrick: Pretty much. There was a little bit of a transition there. I would say two to three months where I basically transitioned all of the Medicare business over to my stepdad. So he runs the Medicare agency now. He’s got about 500 clients that he serves, and we helped him build that and we still are helping him build that out. But I’m not affiliated with it in any way anymore, ’cause I don’t have time or any interest in it. So, yeah, we pretty much rolled that up as soon as we started making progress with the RIA.

Hannah: Yeah. So you’re very much that serial entrepreneur, it sounds like.

Patrick: Yeah. It sucks. I wish I was normal, that’d be great. Being normal would be awesome.

Hannah: So you were able to … You’ve learned all this about marketing. Were you able to see results from that at SurePath right away?

Patrick: Yeah. Everything takes time, and every strategy’s a little bit different, depending on the goal of the campaign. Initially, I need to eat tomorrow. We needed to do hardcore lead generation, because if I wasn’t talking to people, then we weren’t going to be in business. And we took a multi-pronged approach. We expanded on the funnel for Medicare for the first couple months and were driving a lot of people to in-person workshops, mostly so that we could close and get some AUM on the books as fast as possible. And then we pivoted our strategy to basically focus a little bit more on doctors, and we were using LinkedIn, email, retargeting, and sales funnels to help people illuminate problems in their life.

Patrick: The way I think about marketing is you’ve got two types of individuals. And let’s say you had 100 people in a room. Two of those people are going to be open, to some degree, about what you have to say right now. Maybe they’re in pain about financial planning or tax or something like that. They’re going to be open, and you need to give that person a very quick and clear path to solve that problem, ’cause they’re in pain. It’s like if I was up on stage talking about how to reset people’s broken arms, and somebody in the audience has a broken arm, they’re not going to Google me, look up reviews, and read a bunch of stuff. They’re going to come up on stage and I’m going to reset their broken arm.

Patrick: Most of the audience is not open right now. So there needs to be a separate and distinct process for warming up the people that aren’t ready to work with an advisor right now. And the way that I’ve done that is a lot heavier on the video marketing, content retargeting, funnels, and I’m just trying to stay in front of people as much as possible, with the least amount of effort and energy, and for the least amount of money, because if you do this the wrong way you could potentially go broke.

Patrick: But the goal is instead of when that person comes across something in their life where they’re like, “Oh, I need help with taxes,” or they’re like, “Oh, I need help with financial planning,” what we don’t want them to do is go to Google and type in “financial planner fee-only”, “financial planner NAPFA”. I want them to say SurePath or Patrick Brewer or Tim Power, whoever it is, because I’ve spent the time and energy helping them illuminate and solve problems in their life, so that they’re now going to look to me as an authority instead of just going to Google and just finding whoever’s top of the list.

Hannah: And so that’s really … You hear a lot of people talk about paid market versus organic marketing. And I really heard you make that distinction there. Would you agree that that’s the distinction you were making?

Patrick: To a degree. I think lead generation is definitely paid marketing, but I think awareness and building an audience also requires some ad spend in today’s environment. The challenge that a lot of advisors face right now is they do need to focus and clarify their market. So they need to pick a “niche”. I call it an affiliation because I think it’s a better term based on how people affiliate with certain things, activities, companies. But they need to clarify their market.

Patrick: Once you’ve clarified your market, there’s a paid component and there’s an organic component. The challenge with organic is on Facebook, organic’s pretty much dead, based on the changes in the Facebook algorithm. On LinkedIn, the news feed works pretty well, but it takes some time to season out, because people aren’t as active on LinkedIn. And then Twitter is just a bunch of noise. Nobody’s building with relationships with 100-whatever characters.

Patrick: So I find that there is a very, very good organic strategy that you can leverage, using the combination of LinkedIn, Facebook, and email, but you have to do it in a very specific way. I’ve also found paid advertising to be incredibly effective with video marketing, because you have a lot more ability to control the psychological journey and the indoctrination of the person, of the prospect, once they’ve raise their hand and said, “Hey, I’m in a little bit of pain,” you can create a very specific sequence of events to get them to view you as someone who can help.

Hannah: So, I love this stuff, and I think I could talk to you for hours about this. But for the listeners-

Patrick: Sorry.

Hannah: When you say … No, I love it. So when you say raise your hand, they raise their hand and let you know that they’re in some sort of pain. What does that mean from your strategy standpoint? What does that actually look like? Who would raise their hand?

Patrick: Yeah, there’s a couple different ways. We use a multi-platform approach. So instead of just saying we do SEO, or we do content, or we do LinkedIn, it’s not enough. And the reason why it’s not enough is there’s too much noise in the world right now to where if you just focus on a singular service or strategy, you’re not going to be able to build the attention and relationship that’s required to get people to actually take action.

Patrick: And the challenge with our industry as it relates to marketing is it’s a non-linear cycle in order to build a relationship. I can’t just walk up to someone and say, “Let’s be friends.” They’re going to be like, “I don’t know who you are, and we’re not friends.” Whereas if I’m selling a product or a service, it’s a lot easier. Maybe I need a T-shirt. I’m going to go buy a T-shirt, I don’t need to build a relationship with the T-shirt maker. I just need to buy the T-shirt.

Patrick: So for our industry, it’s really specific in the way that you need to serve up content and get people to interact in order to build that connection and that human connection and get the trust part of it established because you introduce the solution. As far as how it works for illuminating problems, this is my content creation process. I’m going to share this right now, congratulations if you’re on the call. It’s pretty awesome. And it’s simple, it’s super simple. This is how I create content.

Patrick: So I figure out first, who is my market? I clarify my market. Who am I speaking to directly? What are their characteristics? Once I’ve figured that out, I write down the 10 mistakes that they’re making in their life, their business, and their finances right now. What are the 10 mistakes that they’re making that either they don’t know about, or maybe they do know about and they just don’t want to address yet? Then I write down the 10 desired results that they want financially, in their business, in their personal life, et cetera.

Patrick: So I’ve got 20 pieces. 20 things that are important to my ideal prospect. And then what I do is I fractionalize that content through the lens of what I call the seven pillars of content. And what that is is stories and experiences … Imagine if instead of just saying, “Here’s an article on the restricted application strategy for Social Security,” what if I had a market of people, let’s say 5,000 people, that were watching a video and I served it up to them, and instead of serving them up a piece of content on a very complex topic, I just said, “I had a client in my office the other day. Her name’s Mrs. Jones, and this is what we were talking about, these reservations around Social Security.” So you tell this story from the perspective of your life and the client’s life, and obviously you don’t share private information. But it allows the other person to insert themselves into the story and figure out what you do.

Patrick: And on top of that, you’ve got a couple others. You’ve got personal philosophy, which is why you do what you do, why it’s important. What do you stand for, what do you not stand for, what’s equally as important as what you do stand for, which is huge for advisors that are principled, fee-only DFA people. The community needs to hear about this. And you’ve got educational content, you’ve got other forms of content, like promotional, win-share. There’s seven different ways that I create content that allows me to build the human connection on the front end with the person, so I can get them to say, “Oh, that’s what Patrick does.” Or, “Oh, I’m in pain right now, and it’s interesting how they see the world.”

Patrick: So that’s a little bit about how we do it. But we use LinkedIn, we use Facebook, we use email marketing, we use YouTube, we use retargeting, we use Google. Everything. It’s gotta be an integrated approach or it really just doesn’t work.

Hannah: And so you’re talking about spending money on advertising for this. One of the things … I’ve said that I really enjoy this. One of the things that I’ve learned about marketing is that everything is trackable if you do it right. And so you spend $10, you can see, hey, what results did I get for that $10, or however much money you spend. What are you seeing with the advisors that you’re working for? What’s the ad spend that they’re spending each month?

Patrick: Yeah. Right now, we have two ways that we help advisors. The first way is for the people that, let’s say, I have a place in my heart for. It’s the entrepreneur, and where I was at three or four years ago. They don’t really know what they’re up against. They know they need a marketing and sales system, but they don’t know where to turn. And everybody’s telling them to blog and pick a niche, and it’s like, cool, I just put out my 40th blog and now I’m ready to drive my car into a lake. I’m over it.

Patrick: So my main product is to help those people and give them a path to the solution, which is getting clients sustainability for the least amount of money possible. And all of the clients that I’ve helped in that product, not one person has spent a dollar on advertising, because I have a very specific strategy that leverages LinkedIn, email, and some light funnels and the news feed to be able to create enough interaction to where you don’t have to get to paid advertising. And I’ve perfected that over the course of two and a half years. We’ve changed it, we’re still iterating, but that’s really where people start if they don’t have the money to go into paid ads, which is most people. They just can’t afford Facebook advertising and they can’t afford the content production and distribution process and everything else.

Patrick: And the cool thing about the product that we have right now is it allows people to test their offer or test their funnel. I don’t want to get too complicated, but they can test it without spending money. So they can see what the click through rates are, they can see how many people are opting in, and based on that, they can see what the strength of their offer is to their niche or clarified market. And once they do that and they have data, like you were talking about, the analytics around it, then it’s just a game of putting money in the slot machine. That’s when you go to paid advertising and you start boosting that to an audience on Facebook, on YouTube, on Google, and you drive as many people as you possibly can to it that are in that market. Then it’s all about distribution.

Patrick: So what I really focus on for most people is they come in and they have no idea who their target market is. They’re like, “I like helping people. I’m a financial advisor, and I think that I like young people and that’s what I want to do.” Okay, cool. So let’s start there, and let’s build a real target profile as far as who you’re going to serve. Let’s figure out the exact systems that you’re going to use to build an audience of those people. Let’s figure out the message that’s going to get them to raise their hand and say, “I’m in pain right now. I’d like to become a client.” But more importantly, let’s figure out the long-term communication strategy that gets people to opt in and say, “Yes, I’d like to learn a little bit more about this particular topic,” and then nurture them. Once we finish the nurture sequence, we know we have a sustainable offer. We’ve got a good market. Boost it. Go to paid traffic. Go nuts.

Hannah: So, okay. So I got a bit ahead of myself.

Patrick: Oh, you’re good.

Hannah: I’m just so excited to talk about marketing. So at SurePath, this is where you really started … You tested out a lot of this through your Medicare business that you did. But with SurePath, you’re really able to test this out for a wealth management practice. I guess the biggest question is, was that successful?

Patrick: Yeah. And one of the questions that I get that I think we should probably address, ’cause I get it all the time, it’s like, if this is so successful, why are you just scaling up a massive wealth management firm and doing this all on your own? Why are you giving this information away, because clearly people need this information. And I’ll answer your question first, and then I’ll answer that one.

Patrick: But to answer your question, it was successful. I had to actually stop marketing in my wealth management firm about six months ago because we were working on two things. One was creating leverage in Brewer Consulting, because we were getting too many people, and I could keep up. So I needed to divert time and attention and hire staff to be able to scale that business so that I could keep doing it. So we literally had to stop marketing to be able to make sure that business stayed on the rails.

Patrick: And in addition to that, I wanted to invest in the future of SurePath, so I created a tax and account division that’s going to be a carve out here probably within the next few months. We’re working on the brand right now, and that’s going to be called SurePath CPA group. So we brought on a tax partner, we’ve got two contractors doing books and tax returns, and we brought on about $50,000 in revenue the first tax season, which is not terrible. But that was really where my attention went about six to seven months ago, was maintaining Brewer Consulting, building out the CPA firm, and now we’re finally turning our energy back to the marketing side for the wealth management firm. But we have grown from zero to about $20 million in assets, $8 million in assets under advisement, a good amount of retainers with younger clients, plus the revenue coming in from tax and account services that’s ramping up.

Patrick: So I would say that we’ve definitely been successful. It’s just, unfortunately, there’s only so much time in a day, and I think the only way to know what you’re uniquely positioned to is to have competing interests for your time and for whatever reason, every time I have time to work on anything, I’m always like, I want to work on the marketing company. I just enjoy it more. So that’s just where I’ve been drawn.

Hannah: Yeah. That serial entrepreneur side.

Patrick: Yeah.

Hannah: So one of the things you talked about was the importance of building out a niche market, or, I’m sorry, affiliations.

Patrick: All good. You can use niche.

Hannah: So with your SurePath Wealth Management, what was the group you were really focusing your marketing on?

Patrick: So we started with doctors. I still have the site out there. It’s surepathmd.com, and we have a number of doctors and dentists that work with our firm. And we’re using the strategies without paid advertising to perfect that particular marketing campaign. We attracted about, I want to say 12-15 doctors, and that’s when you hit the wall. And we’re like, we gotta scale this business, we don’t have any more time to market.

Patrick: So we turned our attention to the marketing company, and over the past three months, I’d been building a marketing funnel that is focused on the retirement income space. So it’s mostly going to be leveraging Social Security as the pain point to drive people through a very automated experience, multi-platform, and we’re going to be running about $4,000-7,000 a month in advertising spend through that marketing funnel in Austin, because the way I think you could … Niche, to me, it doesn’t have to be doctor/dentist/lawyer. That’s what I’ve realized. It could be somebody who’s affiliated with a particular company, it could be a cultural affiliation, it could be an industry. It doesn’t have to be those three. It could be craft breweries, it could be e-commerce, it could be something that’s not as highly pursued. And it could also be a local focus.

Patrick: People affiliate very strongly with the problems or the results that they want in their life, so if you turn yourself into an expert for solving a particular problem, like Social Security or Medicare or taxes in retirement or whatever. You can take over the market with a very integrated approach if you know how, and that’s pretty much what we’re going to do, is take over the market in that space over the next couple of months. That’s the goal.

Hannah: Very interesting. Well, it’ll be really fun to watch and stay in touch and see what happens.

Patrick: Yeah. Well, we’ve gotta staff up too, that’s the issue. It’s like, if you’re constantly juggling resources, you’re like, okay. Three months, or three weeks, we’ll be done. Oh, wait, this thing just exploded, so we need to get this person to do that. So you know how it is being a business owner. But that’s the goal, that’s on the strategic plan.

Hannah: It’s funny, I was just talking to somebody else about how sometimes business problems, you feel like you’re back in business school, being like, okay, here’s the facts of your case and what do you do now? And it’s like, oh, this is real life. This isn’t just a case that I get a grade on.

Patrick: Yeah, yeah. It’s funny.

Hannah: So where can people find you?

Patrick: I pretty much stalk people all over the place, I think. I’ve got my videos that go out all the time, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn, YouTube. So you can pretty much find me on any social platform. As far as the way that we’ve structured our ability to work with folks, if you want to learn more, the website is a good place to schedule a call. You can opt into our funnel there. There’s a guide that we’ll walk you through, and once you opt into that, I’ll stalk you around the internet until you eventually die a cold death. So be careful about hitting my pages.

Patrick: But there’s a button on the site that says Talk To Us, you can book a time. We ask you to fill out a brief application, just so that we can get a sense if you’re going to be a fit. We only work with fiduciary advisors, we don’t work with anyone who’s not a fiduciary. That’s important to us. And most of the firms that we have had success helping … Just to be fully transparent, because I feel like a lot of people are like, who doesn’t have success with your program? So I’m going to mention that.

Patrick: The people that we haven’t been able to help are advisors that are over … And not to say that it’s an age thing, but for whatever reasons, advisors that are over 55, under $100 million in assets, we’ve had a really hard time helping those folks. I think it’s just a combination of technology, a change in strategy, a shift in mindset. Those are the folks that we’ve seen to really not be able to have that great of success for. Anyone who is building their business, who’s under $100 million, who wants to grow a business online, we can definitely help. Anyone who’s over $100 million, regardless of age, practice, it’s going to cost you more, but we basically have a marketing agency where we build out all the funnels, all the integrations and everything that you would need in order to take over whatever client profile you want.

Patrick: So I would say website’s definitely the best, and then fill out the application, and we just have a quick chat about the practice.

Hannah: That’s awesome. And we’ll have all the links for that in the show notes. Well, anything else, Patrick, before we jump off?

Patrick: No, I think we’re good, Hannah. Thank you so much for having me on here. It’s been a pleasure talking to you, I really appreciate what you’ve been doing for the industry. It’s much needed. I know that this is maybe a little bit of a thankless thing here, running this podcast, but hopefully it doesn’t go unnoticed. So thanks again for your contribution and your time.

Hannah: Absolutely. Thanks, Patrick.

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Patrick Brewer, CFA, CPA, founder of SurePath Wealth Management and Brewer Consulting, has found his passion in helping other planners learn to market themselves. Patrick helps other planners to find their voice, connect with their ideal clients, SurePath Wealth Management and Brewer Consulting, has found his passion in helping other planners learn to market themselves. He started as many planners do – in a call-center type of roll fielding questions from people who were looking to close their retirement accounts because they were afraid of the markets. That roll inspired him to pursue a career as a financial planner.
He quickly realized that the financial services industry pushes planner marketing that creates a uniform planner “persona” across the board. He believes that this type of sales-driven, cookie cutter marketing is hurting solo financial planners who are good people and are trying to get client eyes on them.
Patrick still runs SurePath Wealth Management, his financial planning practice. But through Brewer Consulting, he’s also staying connected in the financial planning profession and helping other planners to find their voice, connect with their ideal clients, and advocating for young planners who are ready to make a name for themselves.

 
What You’ll Learn:

How traditional sales methods and marketing limits new financial planners
How to recognize and then articulate your value to firm owners and clients
How to identify your client’s pain points to put together a marketing plan that accesses them
How to warm up your audience
Ways you can use funnels and video to target your ideal clients
How to keep marketing budgets low at the start of your business
The importance of growing niche affiliations.

 
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Hannah Moore clean 56:49
Demystifying the Financial Planning Profession http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-demystifying-the-financial-planning-profession/ Tue, 26 Jun 2018 16:48:11 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11364 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-demystifying-the-financial-planning-profession/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-demystifying-the-financial-planning-profession/feed/ 0 There are many technical terms flying around in the financial planning profession. This week, we’re decoding these technical terms - and going over why new planners need to know them. There’s a lot of terms within the financial planning profession and today’s episode looks to bring clarity to some commonly misunderstood terms. From the difference between an RIA and a Broker Dealer, to the different fee structures and even understanding what it means to be an investor, there are so many different terms thrown around. These terms can be confusing, but it’s critical that planners understand what each of them mean as they navigate the profession, their careers and most importantly capture who they are and what they do.

In this episode, Dan Moisand, former President of the FPA, sits down with your host Hannah Moore to talk through the technical definitions that comprise this profession. We’re really getting in the weeds with it here – and this episode will act as a primer for all new planners entering the financial services industry.

Dan also guides new planners in how they can move beyond these technical definitions to move our wonderful profession forward.

This is a must-listen for all new planners who are looking to decipher the difference between marketing terms and ways that the financial planning profession is actually regulated by our governing bodies!

hannah's signature

If you asked people on the street what ‘fiduciary’ is they’d likely say ‘to act in someone’s best interest’ – and that’s kind of the short cut. Dan Moisand, CFP® on #YAFPNW

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What You’ll Learn:

  • The difference between a RIA and a Broker Dealer  
  • What a “Wirehouse” is – and what you need to know about them as a new planner
  • What a “Custodian” is
  • The difference between a Financial Planner and an Advisor
  • The difference between an Agent and a Broker
  • Why “Wealth Management” is technically a marketing term
  • What “Financial Planning” actually is
  • The difference between Discretion and  Non-Discretion
  • What the Fiduciary vs. Suitability debate is all about, and what the difference is for consumers and planners
  • What the different career paths for new planners are (paraplanner vs. associate planner vs. junior planner), and how to know what you’re applying for
  • What the SEC proposed versus DOL fiduciary rules
  • What it means to be an investor
  • What the difference between a trader and a speculator is
  • How you, as a new planner, can help to move the profession forward in spite of the technical jargon
  • How to communicate with clients about the technical titles in the profession
  • Why you need to know these technical terms

 

Show Transcript

Ep104 Transcript


Hannah: Well, thanks for being here Dan.

Dan: Thanks for having me.

Hannah: I am so excited for this podcast because there are so many terms that get thrown around the financial planning profession that I’m just not sure everybody has a really clear understanding of what they mean. That’s why we brought you in.

Dan: Dan the answer man, great. I’ll do my best.

Hannah: No pressure right?

Dan: Right.

Hannah: Let’s start out with one of the big, everybody’s heard these terms, an RAA versus a broker-dealer. What are they and what the heck is the difference?

Dan: Well, RAA actually has a legal definition. Some of the things that I know we’re going to talk don’t, it’s just kind of an understanding but RAA is one that is actually defined in the law, the Investment Investor Act of 1940. It defined an advisement advisor as any person or firm that for compensation is engaged in the business of providing advice to others or issuing reports or analysis regarding securities.

Dan: There was a few terms in there that need further definition, and the Securities Exchange Commission has commented on it a number of times. One of the determinants for whether you’re engaged in the business of advice regarding securities is whether you’re holding yourself out as an investment advisor. That makes perfect sense to me. The staff has talked about what is advice about securities.

Dan: They’ve stated, this was just a few years ago, longtime staff member named Bob Plaze put out a thing about the SEC’s view of regulation of investment advisors. This is post 2008, Dodd–Frank, all that kind of stuff. The SEC staff has stated in this regard, that advise about market trends is advice about securities. Advice about the selection and retention of other advisors is advice about securities. Advice about the advantages of investing in securities versus other types of investments is advice about securities. Providing a selective list of securities is advice about securities, even if no advice is provided to any one security. And, asset allocation advice is advice about securities.

Dan: So, pretty clear. If you’re telling people what they should be in, you should be an investment advisor, which gets a little money because it seems like everybody in financial services is doing this.

Dan: A broker-dealer, a broker is basically an intermediary between a buyer and a seller. A dealer is acting as a principal in the securities transaction., so they are the sell side. Broker-dealers, therefore are int he business of transacting securities. They are either selling directly the securities or the products, or they’re acting as the intermediary between some other seller and a buyer. It’s a transactional thing.

Dan: The reason the broker-dealers are not investment advisors is because there’s a specific exemption under the law in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. They’re excluded from the 40 Act, the Advisor Act if the advice given is solely incidental to the conduct of its business as a broker-dealer and it does not receive any special compensation for providing the investment advice.

Dan: Broker-dealers have been hanging their hat on not being regulated as advisors on this incidental advice exemption. That’s why there’s been great debate about what’s been from a regulatory structure between advisors and broker-dealer worlds. When this whole thing was set up in the 1934, 1940 Acts, the broker-dealers was a transactional based business, investment advisors was the advice business.

Dan: So, the broker-dealers were facilitating the transaction, the advisors were figuring out what transactions needed to be facilitated. That’s the more plain English way to explain what’s supposed to be a difference between an RAA and a broker-dealer.

Hannah: We might need to dive into this a little bit more.

Dan: Sure, there might be a few wrinkles on there.

Hannah: I know right? You made it seems so black and white.

Dan: Ironically Hannah, it is black and white. It’s in print. It’s in these laws. Now, what has happened over the years is the brokerage firms have figured out quite clearly that people aren’t that interested in just facilitating transactions. They’re interested in what those transactions should be for themselves.

Dan: So over time, the broker-dealer registered representatives who were the ones going out, finding buyers to buy things from sellers, maybe even their own firm as a dealer, the registered representatives have gotten more and more into advice that in a lot of people’s opinion is not incidental to those transactions. And, as the SEC did not enforce in a hard line way that very clear distinction in my mind, it’s gotten more and more muddied and that’s why we’re where we are today.

Dan: It is in the best interest of the public that they get advice about securities, but the fight’s more about what standard needs to apply because there aren’t any brokers. Do you run into brokers anymore? Very rare, they’re all financial advisors.

Hannah: I know a lot of financial planners who call other people brokers, who don’t call themselves brokers, but … As you were talking through this, I was thinking back to when I took all of the regulatory exams. I took my Series 7 exam and then my 66 and the CFP, maybe not even in that order. Just how different that Series 7 exam was from the CFP exam. The Series 7 was very focused on options trading, what does the transaction of a bond look like? Who are the different players in having that bond issued? I’m seeing some correlation with just the exams that are required for the broker-dealer versus the RAA.

Dan: Right, now if you were a CFP you may not have sat for the Series 65, investment advisor representative exam. That materials about the rules and regulations that apply to investment advisors. It’s a very different exam than the Series 7 and it should be. Broker-dealers are supposed to be doing something very different from what investment advisors are doing.

Hannah: At the broker-dealer, I was listed as an IAR. It was an investment advisor representative.

Dan: Correct.

Hannah: How does that fit in with, because I was under a broker-dealer providing investment advice so therefore I was an IAR.

Dan: Yeah, and in fact today, most people who would describe themselves as a financial advisor are in fact operating in a world where they’re involved in a little bit of both broker-dealer activity and RIA activity. They’re either dually registered, which means that they’re operating under the … They’re working for the broker-dealer, and then they work for an RAA also set up by the broker-dealer or the ultimate entity there. It’s all FINRA regulated.

Dan: Then some are hybrids where they have a Series 7 license, they do the brokerage, and then they also have an RAA on their own as a separate entity away from the broker-dealer registered with the state or the SEC. It’s a hybrid. Most people who are involved in financial advice these days do have ability to be in both worlds, which is nice on the one end and it’s very confusing for consumers on the other if people aren’t careful or nefarious.

Hannah: For the people listening here who are part of a broker-dealer and they’re like, “Hey now, I have my friends in the RAA space. I know what they’re doing with clients, I know what we’re doing with clients and it actually is really similar.” Is that possible to have it be very similar?

Dan: Well, yeah. That’s pretty much the way it is these days. It wasn’t originally conceived to be that way in the long, but it has evolved that way. Particularly in the FPA community where people are in the same room because financial planning is important to them, you’re going to run into a lot of people who have brokerage licenses either as an employee with a wirehouse or they’re affiliated with an independent broker-dealer. They do wonderful financial planning for their clients, they behave as fiduciaries even in the circumstances where they wouldn’t be held to that standard if there was an issue. You’ll see that all over the FPA.

Dan: It’s certainly not anything evil by any stretch of the imagination to be a brokerage license. It’s just confusing to the public and the securities regulators have not done a very good job of making the people in the financial services business clear about their roles.

Hannah: It’s interesting, I hear this debate going on a lot with new planners about fee only, fee based, RAA, broker-dealer. All of this is going on and really the root of everything is coming down to regulation. Is that what I’m hearing?

Dan: Regulation’s important for a lot of reasons. To some degree, regulations can flat out prevent bad things from happening because good people don’t want to be in violation of the law. But the bigger reason that we need good regulations and we need them enforced properly is when the bad people, the bad guys do something.

Dan: Imagine that if drunk driving were not illegal. Personally I wouldn’t be driving drunk anyway, but if drunk driving weren’t illegal, the guy who does drive drunk, you can’t do anything about it. So regulation, it does have a certain preventive quality to it but the main thing is, it gives a mechanism to deal with behavior that’s not appropriate. It’s a huge deal, setting the standards of how we in the financial advice arena are supposed to behave.

Dan: It started with an erosion of the distinction, the blurring of the line, you’ll hear it called that often. Late 90s, the thing called the Tully Report came out. Tully was the chairman of Merrill Lynch. Shockingly it said if people aren’t paid strictly on transactions, they might not transact quite as much so they lobbied the SEC to put in a rule that allowed the brokerage services to be provided for a fee instead of a commission, an asset based fee, which on one level makes perfect sense.

Dan: The problem of course was that there was no fiduciary standard attached to that. It was the presentation of these fee based trading programs as advice that was particularly troublesome. Schwab had a version of it they actually called Advised Investing. The small print said it wasn’t investment advice, it was just brokerage, that the advice was incidental, which is kind of hard to understand when it’s called advised investing.

Dan: So, after a number of years and going back and forth, the FPA actually sued the Securities Exchange Commission and they ended up winning that suit. That really gave a big swift kick to the debate about fiduciary and shortly after that case result came down, we ended up with the financial crisis of ’08 and out of that Dodd–Frank. Part of that was the SEC’s ability to “harmonize broker and advisor regulation and post fiduciary duties” and all this other stuff.

Dan: The DOL decided it didn’t want to wait for the Securities Exchange Commission, so it came out with its rule, which just recently, yesterday I guess or a day before, deadline passed there so that thing looks dead. Now we have a new proposal from the Securities Exchange Commission. So, the regulation has devolved into something that’s not in my opinion helpful to the public, but the debate about what to do about it is definitely raging more so now than it has at any point on my 28 years.

Hannah: It’s very interesting just the context that you just gave of this idea of a fiduciary. This has been decades long. We’re not new to this fight. This has been going on for a long time.

Dan: Right, and most people in the FPA community and listeners to this podcast, which I assume are mostly FPA members, it almost induces an eye roll and a shrug because it’s such a basic underpinning of any profession that there be a fiduciary duty. Most of the dual registrants and hybrid folks out there that are involved with financial planning, they don’t have any problem being held to a fiduciary standard. They conduct themselves as if they’re going to be held to that standard every day. It’s just the proper way to deal with clients.

Dan: It’s a very good way to conduct your business. You don’t get into a whole lot of hassle if you’re constantly focused on what’s in the best interest of the client and act accordingly. From my perspective, it’s not a boots on the ground problem, it comes from a much higher level within the organizations that are lobbying to keep the waters as muddy as possible. That line as blurred as possible and it’s a shame.

Hannah: Let me see if I can summarize this. I may need help with doing this because there’s so much here. So, we have the registered investment advisors, and that is if you’re in the act of providing really any investment advice.

Dan: Yup.

Hannah: Then you have the broker-dealers who on the broker-dealer … The broker-dealer company is responsible for actually transacting buys and sells on investments. That could be individual stocks and bonds, it could be private placements, it could be a lot of things. For both of these, these are investment advisors that work for them and they can do a lot of the same things, it’s just really muddy to the public as to who does what because there is so much crossover between you can have a great financial planner in a broker-dealer and in an RAA. Or on the reverse side, you could have an RAA who does no financial planning.

Dan: Of course, absolutely. I mean, RAA in its purest form has nothing to do with financial planning at all. It’s simply investment advice.

Hannah: That was one of my questions when you gave that definition. I was like, “Where is financial planning in there?”

Dan: Yeah, it’s not in there at all. But financial planning as a pursuit is much younger than the Advisor Act of 1940. You’re talking about Loren Dunton and those guys, 1969 was really the genesis of it all. College of Financial Planning, that’s the early 70s. You did a wonderful, wonderful job at retreat talking to Ben Coombs and Mr. Blankenship and Mr. Hughes and Mr. Walker. I encourage all your listeners to go back and listen to that if they haven’t. It’s fascinating stuff.

Hannah: Let’s talk about another term that gets thrown out, wirehouses. How are wirehouses different than RAA or broker-dealers?

Dan: Originally wirehouses, they were national broker-dealer organizations that were linked together through dedicated phone and telegraph lines, thus the wirehouse, national organization. Today the main distinction between a wirehouse and other broker-dealer organizations, most of the time people will draw the line based on the type of employment that their representatives are involved in.

Dan: Wirehouse typically has W-2 statutory employees. Independent broker-dealers are typically employing registered representatives that are independent contractors who can very easily leave and go work for another independent contract or organization. That’s probably the leading definition.

Dan: If there was going to be another one somebody might talk about, it would be the scope and size of the organizations. Wirehouses, there’s only, I can’t remember, I think there’s maybe three or four left; Merrill Lynch, UBS, Morgan Stanley, those groups. They also nowadays have more of a global presence than a typical broker-dealer would. That would be a distinguishing factor as well. At its core, wirehouse is a broker-dealer organization first and foremost.

Hannah: Another term, custodian. Can you say what a custodian is?

Dan: A custodian is just somebody that hangs on to somebody else’s stuff. In a financial planning world, that’s almost always a, from investment accounts, it’s a broker-dealer firm; Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, Shareholder Services. They’re broker-dealer organizations. A custodian could be a bank, it could be an insurance company, but a custodian is basically an organization that holds on to somebody else’s belongings. They have custody of such.

Hannah: I always tell my clients whenever they write a check out for their accounts, I’m like, “You always write it to the custodian, never me.” It’s always very important who actually is responsible for holding that money.

Dan: I saw a thing somewhere, and it does happen every now and then somebody starts asking questions about making checks out to Charles Schwab.

Hannah: That’s funny. Another distinction or term that I hear thrown around if financial planner versus financial advisor. What’s the difference between these two terms?

Dan: Well, one way I describe the problem with titles, financial advisor in particular is when I come across somebody, meet somebody for the first time and they say, “Oh, my brother-in-law is a financial advisor.” I’ve been in the business for 28 years. I’ve been around a little bit. I don’t know what the person does for a little bit. I have my suspicions and I know the questions to ask to figure it out, but they could be working for a bank, brokerage, insurance company, a combination of those, all these different places.

Dan: So, financial advisor for most people doesn’t necessarily mean anything specific. It just has something to do with money. CFP Board’s been kind enough to change their definitions of things in their new standards and update of those. I’ll read those to you real quick. We joke that a financial planner is somebody that does financial planning, but what’s the definition of financial planning? It’s what a financial planner does. It’s kind of circular, doesn’t really get you anywhere.

Hannah: That’s not helpful.

Dan: Right. I am willing to use the CFP Board’s definition. It seems very reasonable that planning is a collaborative process that helps maximize the client’s potential for meeting life goals through in advice that integrates relevant elements of the client’s personal and financial circumstances. They are making a distinction here between planning and advice.

Dan: Then they actually talk about advice being a communication that based on its context and presentation would reasonably be viewed as a recommendation that the client take or refrain from taking a particular course of action with respect to the development or implementation of a plan, value of or the advice ability to invest in purchasing, holding or selling financial assets, investments policies, strategies, portfolio composition, management of assets or other financial matters. The selection and retention of other persons to provide financial or professional services to the client, or the exercise of discretionary authority over the financial assets of a client.

Dan: To put that more in plain English, some of the different factors between advice and planning is the scope. Planning is much broader. Planning relates to the integration of different elements of a family’s finances. Coordination of those interests, whereas financial advice is much more narrow.

Dan: My favorite definition though that I’ve ever heard, which doesn’t really explaining it to clients very well, but for people who have been involved with financial planning it resonates pretty well. That comes from my good friend Elissa Buie who says, “Financial advice is nice, but financial planning is magical.”

Hannah: You know, it’s so funny. I always say once people really experience financial planning, you can’t go back.

Dan: No, you can’t. One thing financial planning is not is, it’s not charts and graphs. It’s not a thing, it is a process. It is a decision making process that things in all of the relevant aspects of whatever’s going on in a person’s finances. It’s not a thing. It is a process. It’s the essential process to making decisions. If you want to make the best decisions you can, you do that with a competent and ethical financial planner.

Hannah: How do you identify yourself?

Dan: Our firm, underneath the name of the firm on the website it says financial planning and wealth management. Then under our names on the bios it says financial advisor. That’s a deliberate cop-out. To avoid having to explain to people why we’re this, that or the other, we just use all three. We’re not real proud of that, we just haven’t figured out what to do about it exactly. 99% of the time though I will describe myself as a financial planner. It’s at the core of what I do every day.

Hannah: The next term or terms that I’ve heard people throw out that there’s confusion around, what’s the difference between an agent and a broker?

Dan: In most venues, an agent is somebody that represents the seller. A broker can either represent a buyer or can serve as a middleman between seller and buyer. So, brokering a deal between two parties, you’re in the middle person, an agent though, almost every place I’ve ever heard that term used, agent represents the seller. Insurance is where you hear it most frequently.

Hannah: I was going to say most frequently hear like insurance agent. We’ve talked about RAAs, broker-dealers, wirehouse, can they sell insurance? Can they be an insurance agent on top of each one of those other elements?

Dan: Can who? An RAA or a broker-dealer? Sure, absolutely. Get licensed and go for it. Most states you have to get your insurance license, and then you also have to be appointed with the insurance companies or work through a general agent that has appointments with the insurance companies to sell their products. You’re an insurance agent of the selling companies.

Dan: Some states now have a thing called Unaffiliated Insurance License, where you can get licensed to give very specific advice about insurance without having to be in a sales position. There aren’t many of them. We do have that here in Florida. It’s a 215 Unaffiliated License because very similar to investment advice, as soon as you start getting very specific about the workings of a particular insurance policy, you’re probably crossing into the area of insurance advice, where a state regulator might want you to be appropriately licensed.

Dan: That doesn’t usually cover things like … You need insurance, if you need any more life insurance, you should probably get $2 or $3 million of it, that typically does not cross over into insurance advice. In fact in Florida, the needs assessment for how much life insurance a person needs isn’t even a part of the exam license to get licensed as an insurance agent, so it’s hard for a regulator to say that’s insurance advice when it’s not on the exam.

Hannah: Another term that we’ve already talked about a little bit is wealth management versus financial planning.

Dan: From what I see, most of the rimes there’s no difference whatsoever. Wealth management is just a term used to make it sound like it’s a higher net worth deal, but financial planning is a process. Start with the end in mind, what are the goals, what’s going on, analyze what’s going on, figure out what to do. Show up the weaknesses without undoing the strengths as much as possible. How does this integrate? What are the tradeoffs, all that. That all applies to wealth management as well, but it’s typically a higher net worth deal and sometimes it’s not.

Dan: Sometimes it just sounds cool so they use it for marketing. To me there’s no real … From what I can see functionally, the people who claim to be wealth managers have the same basic process as people who claim to be financial planners. Or there are people like me that claim to be both.

Hannah: Whatever you want, the marketing side of it. Another term that I hear thrown out a lot is discretion versus non-discretion, or discretion versus solicited. What is the difference between those terms?

Dan: That has to do with permission-ing to transact on a client’s behalf. If I have discretion over an account and I think that it’s time to sell X, Y, Z and buy A, B, C, I just do it. I’ve been granted the discretion to do that by the client. If it’s a non-discretionary relationship, I’ve got to call a client and get permission to make that change.

Dan: So, it’s really about where the permission comes to facilitate the transactions. Discretionary is going to be always, or should always be, at least that’s the SEC’s interpretation and that’s what’s pretty clear in the law to. Discretionary arrangement’s going to be an advisory arrangement, not a brokerage. Non-discretionary can be either.

Hannah: That can fit again, if you’re an RAA you can have discretion or non-discretion, if you’re in the broker-dealer, you can have discretion or non-discretion.

Dan: If you’re a broker-dealer and you have discretion, that account is going to be deemed advisory by the Securities Exchange Commission and should be operated under the advisory rules.

Hannah: Another two terms that we hear thrown out quite a bit lately are, and we’ve already talked about one of them, fiduciary versus suitability.

Dan: The way I explain that is somebody who is under a suitability standard, which I don’t have the exact definition in front of me. I can’t believe I didn’t write that down. But, it’s one of those circular definitions, the financial planner, financial planner thing that I was joking about earlier. Suitability is almost equally a joke. It basically says you have to … The definition is suitability is you have to provide recommendations that are suitable. It’s silly.

Dan: The way I try to describe it to people that they grasp pretty easy is, if I’m under a suitability standard, I’m allowed to recommend something that’s good enough. If I’m under a fiduciary standard, I have an obligation to at least seek what’s best.

Hannah: I like that definition.

Dan: If I’m working for a brokerage firm and they’ve come up with a list of 10 large cap value funds, this is a really simplistic example and we’ve determined that the client should have certain amount of money in large cap value, I can pick any of those 10 funds, including the one that pays me more because it’s suitable, it’s good enough. If I’m working for an RAA and they present to me, “These are the 10 large value finds that you could use,” I’m supposed to try to figure out which one’s actually best. Not that that’s necessarily easy.

Dan: That’s not a great example because a lot of large cap value funds look like other large cap value funds. It may not be anything that jumps out as a distinguishing feature, but there are differences and they need to be looked at and there needs to be a process to go through to try to assess what that is. It’s the difference between being able to just go with good enough and having some responsibility to at least seek what’s best.

Hannah: After leaving the broker-dealer, there was … On the new account applications there was a section of suitability that we had to fill out and it was like 12 to 15 questions. I know a couple of years ago more were added into that. I always tell clients suitability, we just had to check all these boxes and then if something bad happened with the investment, all they had to do was say, were these boxes … Did those boxes correspond with what this investment should be, yes or no? And if it was yes, I’m off the hook instead of that fiduciary standard of saying, was this the best option for the client?

Dan: I first got the Series 7 back in 1990, suitability was basically income and net worth. Those were the only two boxes you had to check. What’s the income? What’s their net worth? And if there was high enough on those things, it was deemed suitable. I guess that’s evolved now if you had 15 boxes to check instead of just two.

Hannah: You had to do account. Was it income? Was it growth? Time horizon, other outside assets, liquid net worth.

Dan: Yeah, and the suitability standard isn’t horrible.

Hannah: It’s something.

Dan: It should be suitable, it’s just not what I think people really are expecting when they hire a “advisor” or any type. Certainly not as sophisticated enough as it should be for a true fiduciary.

Hannah: Yeah, and the question comes down for the suitability. It seems to me to be, the advisor, the planner’s CYA versus the fiduciary, which is the client’s CYA. The focus is different like, who are you protecting?

Dan: Yeah, absolutely. That’s the fundamental difference between being a true fiduciary or not.

Hannah: Let’s jump into some other terms here. Specifically as it relates around career paths, especially for newer planners. We have a lot of different terms that get thrown around. paraplanner, associate planner, junior planner, what do those mean?

Dan: I don’t know.

Hannah: Touché. Who does know?

Dan: Unlike the definition of investment advice which is in the law somewhere if you dig it out, it seems to vary from firm to firm. The associate advisor., associate planner, junior planner, junior advisor, nine times out of 10 … That’s just a number I made up, but it’s a significant majority if the time when I see those types of titles. These are people who are supporting a lead planner, person responsible for the relationship with the client on behalf of that firm and they are on a career path to move into a lead role with clients at some point in time.

Dan: Paraplanner, sometimes that is true, it is the same, and sometimes the position remains more of administrative career path and job duties. All of those are extremely valuable to any firm but the of those three, the associate, the junior and the para, the one that is most likely not to be on a career track for being a lead planner from what I can see is the paraplanner.

Hannah: This just gets down to … If you’re interviewing, you need to be interviewing the firm that you’re applying for just as much as they need to be interviewing you.

Dan: Absolutely, it’s tough though, because I’m a dad and my daughter just graduated. She’s starting grad school for physical therapy. She just started up in Boston at Massachusetts General and my son is finishing his second year. As a dad, you want your kid to graduate and get a job right? So, there’s this whole interesting dance out there when looking for employment and as an employer, I’m on the other side of it.

Dan: I’m talking to Megan’s friends about what do I do at an interview? You hire people. What do I say, what do I do? You want to be authentic and you want to be genuine, but you also want to jump and as an employer, you want to be authentic and you want to be genuine because you want it to be a good fit and sometimes you’re not sure if you’re getting authenticity on the other side. You’re wondering if the person, are they after this job or are they after a job? There’s a big difference.

Dan: Luckily with people like Kayla Brown and other folks out there that have really ramped up the financial planning community’s ability to conduct thorough hiring and processes, I think we’re doing much better on that. But you do need to interview the firm that you’re applying to because if it’s not a good fit, it’s not going to be good for anybody.

Hannah: And it’s expensive for firms to go through people, I mean to have high turnover.

Dan: It is and it’s scary on our end as employers to. Our newest employee here with me here in Melbourne came out of the Western Kentucky Program run by Ryan Rhodes, a former advisor and another regulatory junky out there, a friend of mine. Ryan’s a great guy, but you got to worry about, is life in Melbourne, Florida going to be very different than life in Bowling Green, Kentucky? And it is.

Dan: It was pretty clear after enough conversation that that’s what he wants, he wants something different. He wants to live and work and develop in a new area. So, there’s a lot of risk on the employee side as well.

Hannah: Thanks for making these distinctions with these terms. We’ve talked about both of these. We have the DOL Fiduciary Rule versus the proposed SEC Fiduciary. I don’t even know if you call it SEC Fiduciary Rule, but the SEC’s-

Dan: Oh no, no Hanna, no. You can’t call it the Fiduciary Rule. The DOL Rule basically is dead from what I can see.

Hannah: And that was through the Department of Labor, so that was specifically for retirement accounts and only spoke to those.

Dan: Correct, correct. The SEC’s new proposal, it’s not a fiduciary rule. They went to great lengths not to call it that. Instead, the call it the Best interest Rule, or Regulation Best Interest. On one hand, they’re purporting to be raising these standards for advice given by broker-dealers, which is a fine thing I guess to be trying to do. But, they’re defining that new rule as … They’re not calling it suitability anymore, they’re calling it best interest.

Dan: I am not a big fan of it at all for a lot of reasons. Number one is, if you were to pull somebody off the street and ask them, “What’s the definition of fiduciary?” If they had an answer, it would probably be acting in somebody’s best interest. That’s the shortcut for what a fiduciary duty is. So, calling a non-fiduciary duty best interest and not fiduciary because you specifically don’t want it to be fiduciary seems a little confusing to me. I’m confused just saying it right now here I this podcast. I can only imagine what that does to the public.

Dan: Then you look at the samples they have for the customer relationship summary, their new form, a four pager that they’re proposing you give clients. It’s just loaded with weird stuff. There are statements in there that I can’t say because they’re simply not true. It goes to great length to present a brokerage account as very close to on par with an advisory account as far as the level of responsibility that the people have involved.

Dan: You have the fiduciary and then suitability, which are different, now renaming suitability best interest and they’re talking about it as if it’s very fiduciary-like. I think it’s extremely misleading. I think it’s going to be more confusing than anything rather than clarifying, so I’m working on it.

Dan: I’m working on it. I’d like a dutiful, I don’t want to complain without trying to help the situation and the SEC’s been kind enough to ask for our opinions about these things through August 9th or something like that so I will be working on my comment letter to them, to share that with them. But, it’s a proposed rule. It could take a long time for anything to become final. Who knows where it’ll go? But it’s the next iteration of this whole discussion about this whole discussion about fiduciary responsibility and regulation of financial services in general.

Hannah: I just want to make note, you are as Dan Moisand, CFP are writing a comment letter to the SEC about this rule?

Dan: Yes, anybody can. It’s public comment, you should to if you have an opinion about it. They’ve asked you for your opinion Hannah, give it to them.

Hannah: I’m pretty good at throwing my opinion out, but I think that’s really powerful. I’ve been talking with all these young advisors and Dan, we’re going to be together at the young gathering later this month. This-

Dan: Yes, can’t wait.

Hannah: It’s going to be so good. The topic has come up about, how do young planners become leaders in the field? This is such a great way to do it. Like you said, every person listening to this podcast, the SEC has asked for your opinion so you can give it.

Dan: That is correct.

Hannah: That’s really powerful.

Dan: Yes, and one of the great values of being involved with an association is advocacy. An association of any significant size is going to have members that disagree about a lot of subjects. From time to time the association may put out a position that a members disagrees with. The associations have put out positions on various things that I wasn’t really quite sure about, but you should never let that stop you from being involved with the association and active in formulating those policies.

Dan: If you have not already, there will be or is somewhere out there from FPA … I think I just saw the survey a couple weeks ago now that I think about it. What is your opinion about this SEC thing? What should we be telling the SEC? So, if you don’t want to take the time to craft your own comment letter, participate in that process and help the association do it. It’s one of the things that we simply can’t do on our own, which is come together as a group to advocate and Financial Planning Association is the one organization that is solely focused on financial planning as a protection and its advocacy. CFP Board does a little of that, but CFP Board’s a quasi-regulator. They’re not a membership organization.

Hannah: And if we’re really bought into this idea of financial planning as a profession, that’s what the FPA’s about. How can you be for the financial planning profession and not be a part of FPA? I just don’t … There’s a disconnect somewhere in there for me.

Dan: Yeah, I agree. For those non-members, I’m not saying you’re not part of the profession if you’re not a member. I’m just saying you should be a member, that’s all. Hannah, I have a hard time with this one because it never in 1 million years occurred to me not to join the association. Now, there was no FPA at the time. Another great podcast that you just did was about the merger of the ICFP and the IAFP. That was wonderful.

Dan: I got my CFP in ’94, so I immediately joined the ICFP. It wasn’t because I did any kind of analysis of ICFP versus IAFP, it was because I was a CFP and there was an institute for certified financial planners, so I’m going to join that. I didn’t even think about it. I kind of have a hard time sometimes relating to people that put a little bit too much thought into it. For me it’s not expensive, there’s so many ways to get many multiples of that little membership fee.

Dan: I started out with very little business and a lot of expenses and there’s a lot of members out there who don’t have a whole lot of money to throw around. I understand that. I don’t want to poo-poo the membership fee too much, but of all the things that you can spend money on, you should very easily with a little effort and a little bit of diligence get far more out of an FPA membership than what you’re paying in dues. There’s just a million ways to do it between the networking. The advocacy alone would keep me a member even if I never went to a meeting and talked to another member about anything in any way, shape, or form. That would be enough for me.

Hannah: It’s just like you said earlier in this podcast. You talked about there’s a lot of really good advisors that are working at broker-dealers and RAAs. It’s the next level up. It’s that higher level that’s really making things money for their consumers and that’s where the FPA’s advocacy is, “how do we make this clear? How do we advocate for the consumers? How do we advocate for the financial planning profession?”

Hannah: Because like you said, the FPA’s the only group where the end goal is financial planning. Everybody else has a different thing that they’re advocating for. There has to be a group advocating for financial planning and if you’re not part of the FPA, you’re not part of that larger conversation, things like the SEC proposal and things like that. It really does matter that you’re part of the group that’s advocating for financial planning.

Dan: Absolutely.

Hannah: One of the questions that we had come up with is, what does it mean to be an investor?

Dan: I guess that’s the one that we run into this definitional thing a lot with clients because they’re used to picking up the [inaudible 00:46:20] to the extent that anybody reads a newspaper any more. I’m going online or something and the headline will be: Investors Flee Market on … What’s the latest thing? Trade war, that’s a good one, trade war fears and the DOW’s down like 112 points or something, which is what? point nothing right?

Dan: But, investors are fleeing because they’re nervous today and then tomorrow tensions ease and they’re flooding back into the market. The media is really famous for using the term investor for anybody that owns a security or is thinking about it. You look up definitions in the dictionary, Merriam-Webster and all that kind of thing and you get things like long term, commitment, that kind of thing versus shorter term or quick profits, high risk. That’s all more speculative.

Dan: So, really what the media’s talking about more often than not are not investors. They’re talking about traders, which is to me a form of speculating, actively trading. It’s a common point of confusion for a lot of people when they first start to explore working with somebody to help them in financial planning that they don’t actually need to worry about whether some group of traders has fled the market today because of trader war fears and then flooded back in the next day.

Dan: There’s a difference between information and knowledge and wisdom, what’s relevant, what’s practical. That’s a part of what we do as financial planners, is help sift through all that to what’s really important to that particular client. I’m still amazed at how many people just almost audible sigh with relief that they don’t have to follow financial news to be financially successful. There is other ways to do it. They don’t need to torture themselves with not understanding why things are happening on a day-to-day basis.

Hannah: Well, it’s exhausting.

Dan: Yeah, we call it noise. Our firm motto, which we’ve federally registered trademark, a sanctuary from the noise. We git that from talking to clients and asking them, “What are the things that you find most valuable?” This is an example of where value comes from. You’ve had Vanguard and Morningstar with its Advisor Gamma. Advisors can add X percent by doing these different things and all that.

Dan: That’s true, we can add value there, but one of my favorite sayings I credit Elizabeth Jetton for. She got it from somebody, but she’s the one that said it over and over to me and God bless her, I repeat it all the time, which is not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that could be counted counts.

Dan: Our clients told us one thing they really appreciate is we don’t fill their inboxes with a lot of junk. It’s relevant, it’s timely. If you send it to us, we know it’s important. So, most of them actually read our stuff. It’s nice. But there’s a lot of noise out there and part of our role is sifting through that and focusing on what’s actually important to this particular family and their particular circumstances. That’s where that magic Elissa talks about really comes out.

Hannah: You know, as financial planners, we’ve talked about this idea of fiduciary being who are we protecting? we’re protecting the client. Are we always doing what’s in the best interest of the client? What do we as a profession need to do to make this clear for the client? What as a profession, our next steps?

Dan: I think it’s a continuation of what we’ve been doing, which is first and foremost, the true financial planning profession continues to actually deliver financial planning and we keep working to get better, and better, and better at that. I think that’s key to that continuing. You don’t need the lobbyist to of this. Each listener to this podcast in their own little corner of the world, in their cave sitting across table or the couch or whatever you’re doing, your beanbag chair, it’s likely that’s popular to do now, whatever.

Dan: Wherever you’re set up talking with your clients or online like we are now, that interaction, getting that family in a better financial situation where they know that they’re organized and they’re doing things to achieve their goals based on their resources, so very focused on them. By providing that service, you’re doing a wonderful, wonderful thing. That alone is very helpful to the development of the profession because that’s what the profession is all about. We have to deliver the goods. That’s all of us little foot soldiers out there with the boots on the ground. Got to produce there.

Dan: The second thing we have to do is, we have to continue to preach the importance of living by, and being accountable to a fiduciary standard. A value proposition that ends with, “But don’t hold me to that,” is not a value proposition, it has no value at all and so much of the financial services industry does that. “Come see us, trust us, we’re your advisor, we’re your helper. We’re going to help you build your plan,” all this kind of stuff and then the fine print is, but it’s just buyer beware or suitability, or some lower standard. We need to keep pressing that.

Dan: And, we need to keep pressing with the regulators that financial planning is in fact than investment advice, different than brokerage, different than insurance sales, different than banking, different than all that. It’s its own process. It’s its own profession. It is distinct.

Dan: What’s going to happen, which has happened over the last several decades and continues to happen, people will vote with their feet. I think ultimately that what changes the tide. The larger firms that are the corporate powers that be, as that business model continues to erode, they’ll adjust. I think they’ll eventually come around. Either that or some powerful center, his mom gets screwed over y somebody, it’s going to get personal and then you’ll see something happen.

Dan: But I think it’s more likely that the general erosion of the market place will ultimately be the arbiter of all these debates and the trend will continue. The people will be seeking true fiduciaries and real planning and all that type of stuff. But it all falls apart if we’re not doing a good job.

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There are many technical terms flying around in the financial planning profession. This week, we’re decoding these technical terms - and going over why new planners need to know them. In this episode, Dan Moisand, former President of the FPA, sits down with your host Hannah Moore to talk through the technical definitions that comprise this profession. We’re really getting in the weeds with it here – and this episode will act as a primer for all new planners entering the financial services industry.
Dan also guides new planners in how they can move beyond these technical definitions to move our wonderful profession forward.
This is a must-listen for all new planners who are looking to decipher the difference between marketing terms and ways that the financial planning profession is actually regulated by our governing bodies!


 
What You’ll Learn:

The difference between a RIA and a Broker Dealer  
What a “Wirehouse” is – and what you need to know about them as a new planner
What a “Custodian” is
The difference between a Financial Planner and an Advisor
The difference between an Agent and a Broker
Why “Wealth Management” is technically a marketing term
What “Financial Planning” actually is
The difference between Discretion and  Non-Discretion
What the Fiduciary vs. Suitability debate is all about, and what the difference is for consumers and planners
What the different career paths for new planners are (paraplanner vs. associate planner vs. junior planner), and how to know what you’re applying for
What the SEC proposed versus DOL fiduciary rules
What it means to be an investor
What the difference between a trader and a speculator is
How you, as a new planner, can help to move the profession forward in spite of the technical jargon
How to communicate with clients about the technical titles in the profession
Why you need to know these technical terms

 
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Hannah Moore clean 54:29
Unlocking Your Greatest Asset http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-unlocking-your-greatest-asset/ Tue, 19 Jun 2018 18:30:49 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11356 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-unlocking-your-greatest-asset/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-unlocking-your-greatest-asset/feed/ 0 Stephanie Bogan thinks it’s time for a breakthrough. Through Educe Inc., Stephanie works with countless successful advisors on elevating their career, focusing on their personal fulfillment, and changing the way they approach financial planning. Stephanie Bogan thinks it’s time for a breakthrough and through her experience working with some of the most successful planners, shares tips that will help new planners excel in their careers.

Through Educe Inc., Stephanie works with countless successful advisors on elevating their career, focusing on their personal fulfillment, and changing the way they approach financial planning. Before she was a coach, Stephanie ran a successful startup, sold a Fortune 200 company, and held roles on senior executive boards. Finally, she decided it was time for a change. She pursued her true passion – helping financial planners run their businesses with a virtual coaching practice while moving her life to sunny Costa Rica.

Stephanie helps financial planners through both group and private coaching. As an advisor coach, she’s truly seen it all – and she’s ready to start solving the problems that new financial planners are facing in this profession.

In this episode, we’re talking about how up and coming advisors can find a position with a firm owner – and what they should look for when forming a partnership. We’re talking about work life balance. We’re talking about commitment both to your career, your firm, and this profession.

By the end of this episode you’re going to be ready to tackle your biggest goal as a new advisor. Stephanie has some fantastic insights on getting clarity, and you’ll leave the episode inspired to pursue your purpose as a financial planner.

hannah's signature

We’re going from fear to here. From confusion to clarity. From complexity to certainty…They want the value of your advice, not information. Stephanie Bogan from Educe, Inc. on #YAFPNW

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What You’ll Learn:

  • What makes financial planners successful and what you can start doing today to put yourself on that path
  • How to approach a founder about a potential partnership or succession plan
  • How both founders and new planners can talk to each other and understand one another’s experience and validate emotions
  • How young planners can engage with clients in a way that is meaningful right now
  • How to know why clients come to you for financial planning services
  • The best ways to dig deeper and grow personally as a young planner
  • Knowing how to approach clients about money – because it’s not always a happy topic in their household
  • How to get clarity

Stephanie Bogan: Are you building a wildly successful business and a life that you love?

Show Transcript

Ep103 Transcript


Hannah: Well, thanks for joining us today Stephanie.

Stephanie: Oh, it’s my pleasure, Hannah. Thank you for having me.

Hannah: For people who don’t know you, you work with a lot of very successful financial planners. We’ll just jump right in. What do new planners need to know in order to really be wildly successful like the planners that you coach?

Stephanie: Well, there’s a lot. There’s a lot that goes into success. But I think one of the things that’s most often overlooked is sort of what are the key variables to success? So, one of the things that I talk a lot with my clients about, are what are the three contributing factors to success? And behavioral psychology and neuroscience have basically determined they are environment, skills and mindset. Now that makes perfect sense to most people, but what is most shocking to most people, and it blew my mind to be honest the first time I read it, is that 80 percent of success is driven by mindset, sort of by our behavioral psychology, how we intake, process and respond to the world and the information around us.

Stephanie: One of the things that I’ve really noted about some of the most successful advisors, entrepreneurs, CEOs that I work with is that they tend to be very, very focused on what it is they want whether it’s revenue growth, building a firm, right? So this concept of what you focus on it what expands and so the sooner that you’re very clear about what your endgame, or your outcome is and I don’t mean, right, “Hey, I’m gonna build a firm and sell it in 30 years” but even in the next best step of your career. When I talk to younger planners or what I’ll call emerging planners, right? They have a number of years of experience, They likely have their CFP. They have an established role in a firm and they’re trying to figure out, “Do I continue on in that path? Is there a path to partnership? Do I just want to stay what I’ll call an employee advisor? Do I want to take that path to ownership?”

Stephanie: There’s no right or wrong answer. What really matters is that you have clarity about what you want to accomplish and why you want to accomplish it. So, I would say that clarity is really important. But with that construct of mindset behind it, which is, “How am I thinking about things?” When I talk about very senior planners or I talk about with emerging or even younger planners, often times there’s not that sort of sense of what that perspective is going into it. So, mindset and clarity are really, really important.

Stephanie: The second variable is what I’ll call personal growth and I don’t mean go out and read every self-help book although there’s no downside to some of that. It’s really about investing in yourself. What are the skills, capabilities, mindsets that you need to be more successful in your career and your life? This goes back to that first point around focus and clarity. What is it that you think that you want and why do you want it? And if it’s right, “I want to be on a career path to becoming a partner” you’re gonna in one of probably three situations. You’re either in a firm where that career path is set. That’s not the most common, but they certainly exist now more than they used to. You’re gonna be in a firm that sort of has something in place, maybe written, maybe not, but sort of a general path or maybe someone else has done it. But it’s not necessarily formal or documented.

Stephanie: And the third option is you’re in a firm where that’s not necessarily an obvious option. It hasn’t been put out; it’s not on the table. You really don’t know. And so, if you have an idea of what career path you want, understanding that environment is really important. Where the skills that you need to succeed in any one of those paths, and they’re different, right? Moving up a career ladder to becoming a partner in a firm is a different path than staying an employee advisor, which is a very different path than becoming a business owner, right? Lots of similar skills, but they’re still really different.

Hannah: So let me ask you, a lot of, especially new planners, I’m talking to people who just graduated school, are in their first job and still trying to figure out which way is up, how often, at what point do you see people gain that clarity. Do they have that at 22, first job in financial planning? Or is this something that people progress into?

Stephanie: I would say you definitely progress into it, right? If you’re in your early to mid-twenties, you probably don’t know yet and that’s okay. To be honest, even if you think you know, that can change. So for people who are, let’s call it, under thirty and how aren’t certain, A. Just know that that’s okay. So this is where that mindset piece becomes really important, which is, you don’t necessarily have to know, when I said you don’t have to know the exact outcome, what you do need to know is what you want for yourself and your career. So for me, because as many people know, I sold my firm, I retired to Costa Rica four years ago and now I work part-time and my clients are in the US and I’m in Costa Rica. For me, one of my non-negotiables is that my work needs to be location independent. I need to be able to work from anywhere. So when someone calls me up and says, “Hey, will you come be the CEO of this company?” And I say, “No because I know I’m going to have to go into that office every day and be in that location. That’s just not going to work for me.” Right?

Stephanie: So I’ve talked with younger planners, for example, who really want a more flexible work life balance, or they want the ability to work from home. Those people aren’t going to necessarily pick a path in a firm where that structure is not in place. So what you do need to know is what your next best step is. And so when I’m asking myself about big things I want to accomplish, right? Most people will say they want a successful career, they want to do work that they love with people that they enjoy, they want to be financially successful, and they want to live a happy life, right? When people come to me in some form or fashion, they want solutions to problems that will help them have one or all of those things. And so I presume that, that’s what everyone on your podcast for the most part wants too, right? No one calls up and says, “Hey, I want to do mediocre work with people I don’t really enjoy, for crap money and be miserable in the process.”

Hannah: Right.

Stephanie: Right? We all chose this career and this profession for a reason. And that reason is it has immense value, and it can be just incredibly fulfilling work and it can also be very financially rewarding. And so you don’t have to decide if you want to be a partner or an owner. If you’re going to be an employee advisor for the rest of your life between the ages of 20 and 30, you don’t have to make those decisions.

Stephanie: What I think you should know in terms of always looking at how you can be the most successful is, one, keep yourself in a success state, which is focus on what you want and where you want to go and ask yourself what the next best step is, right? “What’s the next best step to advance my career, to put me in a position to serve the kinds of clients I really enjoy, to have the kind of financial success that I want. To be happy and fulfilled in my work and my life. What’s the next best step?” Because sometimes you know, I’ll have the heads of multi-billion dollar firms come to me, these huge problems and, and the answer almost always is, “How do I solve this problem?” Is you eat the elephant one bite at a time, right? You’re 25. You’re not going to decide where you’re going to be at 35 and even if you did, it would change. You can always ask yourself what your next best step is.

Hannah: You know, as you’re saying this, I’m loving it, and I’m also just imagining in my mind of being, always asking yourself these questions, and a lot of job hopping. And I know that’s maybe not necessarily what you’re implying on that, but what are your thoughts on continuing to explore a job hop, if that makes sense?

Stephanie: Are you asking in terms of in general or am I asking from a business owner’s perspective or am I asking, are you asking me from the right of, if I’m in any of those scenarios, you’re probably going to end up in one place, which is the phrase job hop by itself has a negative connotation.

Hannah: Yep.

Stephanie: So even when we, when we phrase it in those words, right? We’re saying that’s probably not a good idea. Does that mean that you have to be at a job seven to ten years before you can reasonably leave? Absolutely not. Now I can tell you I have helped dozens and dozens of firms hire advisors and I have helped dozens and dozens of firms build the partnership tracks and make the decisions about who makes partner and who doesn’t. So I’m absolutely able to give you some insight into how it looks from that perspective. And I can tell you that when I look at a resume where someone has moved three times in three years or four times in seven years, you really have to dig very carefully into why, because it sort of creates the impression that someone’s going to be there a year or two and they’re going to leave. And what I want everyone listening to this podcast to understand. There’s always two sides to every equation and I explore both of them fully anytime I’m doing consulting work.

Stephanie: But for people on this side of the equation, what’s really important to understand is when you’re asking someone to make an investment in hiring you, they’re making an investment in you and the development of your skills and your capabilities, your experience, teaching you what they know, introducing you to and integrating clients, which is the biggest risk from a firm’s and an owner’s perspective. It’s a significant investment, so what they want to know is that you have the capability technically the commitment, right? In terms of the kind of work and being able to stick to it if you will, and sort of the character and cultural fit that are going to align with them and that you’re going to be around long enough for them to have some safety and security and continuity that when they give you work, when they transition clients, that you’re going to be a reliable resource for them hopefully for years to come. That’s not to say that you are not well within your right to pick up and change jobs if the environment isn’t right, if another opportunity comes along right? There’s a whole list of reasons where it makes perfect sense to move, but just be cautious about how frequently you move relative to how that’s going to be viewed by the person looking, that you’re asking to make that investment in you the next time that you ask someone to hire you.

Hannah: You know, one of the things that you said that I think it’s a really interesting idea, is this idea of like commitment and how firm owners are looking for a level of commitment, what does that look like? What is a healthy level of commitment?

Stephanie: Well again, this is where one of the phrases I use so often working with, what I’m going to call up and coming advisors and founder advisors, right? The people who own the firms and who are looking at hiring or doing succession or maybe even selling at some point, is I’ll tell you what I hear all too often is this difference in perspective. So that phrase that I use all the time is, “The problem is you’re both right, and you’re both wrong.” And here’s what I mean by that is, I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard, I just wrote this in my investment news article that actually turned in the other day, so it’s funny that you ask it. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have heard firm owners or partners in a firm say, “They just don’t understand. You know, when we started out, we had to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week. We filled out our own applications. If somebody wanted to see us at 10:00 at night, we did. We worked, we sweat, you know, blood, sweat, tears; we went to work uphill in the snow both ways. Right? All of that they don’t understand.”

Stephanie: And there’s sort of this feeling and perception that there’s an element of entitlement that all that they worked for looked so easy now that, that next generation of advisors is just expecting it to sort of easily and effortlessly flow to them. That is, whether you agree or not.

Stephanie: I’m just going to be honest and say that is so frustrating to owners and partners because it always takes so much more than the next generation sees because obviously they haven’t been around for all of it. At the same time, I’m just as direct with the other side of the coin, which is most people at this point who aren’t in that founder or senior generation have grown up in a different time and place, it’s an entirely different world, where it used to be a sales culture where you were dialing for dollars now, right? We’re coming out of school, we’ve got degrees, we’ve got CFPs. We’re expecting to have a professional career like a law firm, or an accounting firm where you go in, and you have a job, and you have a salary and clients are assigned to you and you move your way up the ladder and if you develop rainmaking skills, great. And, and so this idea that they’re going to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week, you know, blood, sweat, and tears. There’s generations of people saying that was great for you and we respect that, but that’s not the way we want to live. Right? We want our work life balance to be a little bit something more.

Stephanie: And so there’s always two sides the equation and it’s about how you reconcile those sides. So when I talk about commitment, it’s in the sense as what firm owners want to see, they want to see initiative. When I talk to firm owners I use, I use these stories all the time. You sometimes have to imagine like you’re laying down a trail of breadcrumbs, so they know where to go next and what the next step is and what you want of them. And then the owners will say to me, “Why do I have to do that? When I started out, I just got up every day and I looked around, I saw what needed to be done and I did it. Why do I have to spell it out in black and white? I don’t understand.” Right? So, and that’s not, you know, there’s a little bit of sort of generalizing and stereotyping, but that’s a theme that I see all the time.

Stephanie: And so what I think they want in terms of commitment, they want initiative. They want someone with an owner mentality that looks around, sees what needs to be done, steps in and says, “I’ll take care of it.” And it has authenticity, accountability, and ownership. “Hey, this went wrong, it was my responsibility, here’s what I’m going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” And I think if they saw a lot more of that, it would make the conversation easier and of course there are a lot of things that they could do to make it easier on the next generation, which I tell them all the time, I promise I do. I really am like, “That’s not, that’s not going to play, that’s just not gonna work.”

Hannah: Well, and you know, it’s building a business versus just building a book of business.

Stephanie: Exactly.

Hannah: There’s huge differences. You know, one of the things you said just a little bit earlier was about the mindset and the psychology behind it and almost that behavioral psychology. And it was really interesting because we talk about clients and behavioral psychology, but really like you’re really applying it to us as the advisors and how we approach our career and in our career growth. Is that right?

Stephanie: Absolutely. In fact, while I’ve done the consulting work for the last, what, 20, 21 years now, really, the last couple of years, I’ve sort of always done it, but now it’s a very intentional focus is around sort of this executive and leadership coaching and it’s because of what, I mean I spent a number of years when I first moved to Costa Rica, I literally spent like three solid years just studying performance psychology, behavioral psychology and neuroscience. What makes us tick? What’s the difference between people who are really wildly successful and people who are not? What’s the difference between people who are really happy and who are not? And for me, what I was seeking was the ability to have what I now call, ready wildly successful business and a life that I love. I wanted both and I wanted to know how those two worlds can play really well together. And what I learned is it’s 100 percent mindset. I say 80 percent because that’s what the Cambridge study said. I was actually sitting down with the neuroscience a couple of weeks ago and he said, “Stephanie, you know, it’s 95 percent, right?” I said, “I know, but I don’t want to freak people out.” Eighty percent, 80 percent.

Stephanie: And so here’s what I mean by that, and if you, if anyone’s interested, they can, I think if you Google me and investment news, my articles really always layer in this concept of mindset and it shows up in every single thing we do. How we hire advisors, right? The process through which we screen and filter them. We tend to hire people just like us. That’s not necessarily what a firm needs. How we define our client services. Do we have service segments? Do we have tiers, right? Are we actually servicing clients in a profitable way? Right? How many of you have, are in firms where there’s sort of this mass of clients from, you know, somebody with almost nothing to really wealthy people and everyone in between and there’s no service model and it’s not organized. That’s really, really common. There’s no business case for that.

Stephanie: There’s no business case for waiving your minimum. There’s no business case for taking a client that’s below your minimum just because they were referred. There is no business case for discounting fees. There’s no business case for not having open, honest conversation with your advisors about what your expectations are. There is no business case for not having a good marketing plan in place and not asking for client referrals. When 85 percent of the industry’s growth comes from client and centers of influence referrals, right? So most of the problems in firms, there’s no business case for and look, I’m not the first person to talk about practice management. It’s been around for decades. Everybody’s heard the big stuff. Everybody’s heard that you should have a career path. Everybody’s heard that you should have a model for segmenting and tiering your clients so they’re fairly serviced and profitable. Everybody’s heard about marketing and branding. There’s nothing new. What is new is how we approach it. It’s no different than what advisors are doing in the context of how they work with clients.

Stephanie: It has really evolved over the last few decades and so what we’re really learning is that mindset is what drives ultimately everything that we experience in our lives, our businesses, our bodies, our bank accounts, right? Wanting better relationships. All of it’s driven by sort of this state that we’re in, and when I talked earlier about having a success state, that’s what I mean is most of us, most of the time are in a stress state. So just a little geeky neuroscience. Each of us has between 12 and 60,000 thoughts per day. Eighty percent of those thoughts are unconscious, right? Because we can’t process that much information. Our brains are actually processing 11 million bits of information a minute. It’s not possible without shortcuts, and so there’s a whole lot of brain biology that goes into, you’re not really processing 80 percent of your thoughts. Your subconscious is doing that for you and it’s doing that through the lens of your mental model. Your internal representations, or your belief systems.

Stephanie: So you guys see this all the time with clients. If you’ve seen people come in and they grew up with no money, what’s their mindset around money?

Hannah: Right, there’s never gonna be enough, yeah.

Stephanie: “I can’t buy a new car, ever.” Even though there’s a million and a half dollars in the bank and the pension covers everything. It’s like, “No, I can’t buy a new car.” There is no logical reason for that. That is behavioral psychology. That’s a mindset issue. Their mindset around money is scarcity. It’s conservation. It’s you never know if it’s going to go away, so you have to protect and guard that resource to the utmost.

Stephanie: Now, the interesting thing about mindset that neuroscientists have figured out is they’re not fixed. There’s a concept called neuroplasticity. You can actually change your mindset. You can grow your brain, so those 80 percent of thoughts that we have or that are unconscious, it gets better. Hannah, are you ready?

Hannah: I’m ready.

Stephanie: Eighty percent of those are negative. Negative. So listen to those voices in your head. They’re not your friends, right? Do you get up every day? And they’re like, “Hannah, you look so amazing. Your work was so perfect. That meeting you couldn’t have said anything better. Wow. That was the, you’ve organized the best podcast of anyone ever.” Are those the things that the voices in your head say to you? Most of the time?

Hannah: Oh, of course not.

Stephanie: No, it’s. “Well that outfit wasn’t, maybe we had one too many burritos last weekend.” I mean, this isn’t just you, this is every single one of us and the way that I know it’s every one of us is everyone listening as a human being, nobody is exempt. So 80 percent of our thoughts we’re not even aware of, we’re operating on autopilot and 80 percent of those are negative and then frame everything that you’re talking about through that lens. “I have to hire an advisor.” Well, what if I have a fear mindset? What if the last advisor didn’t work out? What’s the thought process that I’m going to approach that process with? Is it going to be open and optimistic and objective or am I going to go into it worried, fearful and conservative. Right?

Stephanie: If I believe that my identity is wrapped up in my firm and I have financial security issues, I mean I literally have a client right now that has millions of dollars, millions, he could, he doesn’t have to work another day in his life and every time that there’s an investment to be made in the firm, it’s an event. It’s an event. Which is really frustrating to his team. There is no business case for that. It’s all about his money mindset, right? What his thoughts and feelings and views on money are, and in his mind, it’s something to be conserved, not necessarily an investment to be made in a firm for a ROI. Now that doesn’t mean he can’t get there, right?

Stephanie: That’s what coaching is for and that’s the path he’s on and right? He’s made probably $100,000 worth of investments in the last year. But that required coaching to give him a different perspective and so that’s the value of mindset as your listeners are approaching their careers and they’re looking at any issue in their firm, the best advice I can give them is understand the frame. What’s the frame that you’re viewing the situation through and what’s the frame that the people that you’re interacting with, right? In this case, maybe your managers or the firm owners, what’s the lens that they’re looking through? And that commitment issue is a really good one, right? We’re saying “We want a career, we want a job, we want the path to be laid out” and they’re saying, “Hey, if you want to get ahead, you have to put in some extra effort and we want to see that extra effort.” Right? And somewhere in there is a balancing point that works for everyone, but there’s almost never communication around it. And that’s the biggest breakdown that I see in firms, no matter who you are working in them.

Hannah: So I have two questions from this. The first one is, as younger advisors or newer planners who are interviewing at firms, how can we interview firm owners as whether or not this is a place to work based on their mindset?

Stephanie: I feel like I should write an article on this or it should be a White Paper or even a book, right? I think this is the opposite. And it’s a really valid viewpoint, it’s not the viewpoint that people talk about a lot. And what I would do personally is I would, this goes back to that first question of, you know, sort of what are the things that you can do in one is have some level of clarity if you don’t know what that is in terms of a long-term career path and as we talked about, you don’t have to. What is it that you’re looking for in your next job? Right? So if you were going to write a glowing review of your next job, what would it be? Right? So what I always tell clients, no matter what work we’re doing is begin with the end in mind because when your vision is clear, your decisions are easy.

Stephanie: Now the execution may take some work, a little elbow grease, but your vision, when your vision is clear, decisions are easy. If, for example, you decide that you want to have a flex schedule and the ability to work at home some time that would be a question that I would ask of a firm. “Do you have a flex work at home schedule?” And if they say no, then if that is a non-negotiable, right? So I will generally put in a list of wants and a list of needs, wants are things I’d like to have needs are non-negotiables, right? So I’d always have my needs and my wants and then I would ask questions around those. The flex schedule is one example.

Stephanie: If you think you would like to have the opportunity to advance in the firm and at least have the opportunity to become a partner someday. Then of course it’s totally reasonable to ask a question in that regard. Be thoughtful about how you ask the question, don’t say, “How do I become partner someday?” Right? Do say, “You know, I really want to join a firm where I can make a long-term commitment, really invest myself, make a significant contribution, advance the firm, while also advancing my career and I’d love to be able to do that in a place where in exchange for that, I had the opportunity to participate at a partnership level at some point when I’ve obviously just determined that I, you know, that my contribution had merited that being a serious conversation.” Right? If you say it like that, someone’s going to be like, “Oh my God, can I please hire you?” But if I’m being honest, that’s not how most people ask the question.

Stephanie: That’s what I mean by frame. Frame is, “I want to be partner. How can I be a partner?” Not a great way to ask the question ’cause it’s a me-centric frame. What’s the other person’s frame? “I’m a firm owner. What kind of person do I want to hire? I want to hire somebody who is going to show up, do a great job, demonstrate initiative, contribute and make everything better and make this place easier for me to be in.” Right? So frame the question from that standpoint. “I want to be in a place where I’m doing this, this, this, and this. If I’m able to demonstrate that, is there an opportunity for partnership here?” You win points just by asking the question.

Hannah: There’s so much research on behavioral finance and there’s so much, I mean, every conference you go to there are sessions on how to help our clients get a better mindset around through behavioral finance and you know, there’s all the techniques and everything like that. Is it possible for an employee to come into a firm and help their firm owner with their behavioral issues around running a business?

Stephanie: Absolutely.

Hannah: So what does that look like?

Stephanie: Well, remember, so one of the conversations I have all the time with clients and we all joke about it ’cause it comes up all the time, is what it’s what I call framing, right? Framing is everything. So how many of you listening have observed things in your firm that you think should not be that way? And if we were all in a room, every single one of you would be raising your hand. Right? And I’d raise all my hands because this is what I do for a living. Like there’s so much going on in firms that makes no sense whatsoever. Like none. Like we all know how to run a business. We know we need systems, we know we need scale. We need it to be efficient, right? We kind of get that and then we all sit around scratching your heads going, “Well, what’s so difficult?” And what’s so difficult is everything has to go through the mindset and so you can absolutely, you don’t have to be an owner in a firm to be, to have an impact and to be an incredible contributor in a firm. And part of how you can do that is understand that everyone is evaluating everything through their frame and then approach everything from that perspective.

Stephanie: I audit firms. I’ll go and I just delivered a report this morning. We go into a firm and we assess everything, right? It’s a three month process. We look at literally everything in the firm and then it’s my job to sit down with the principal or partners at the end of that process and explain to them what’s working and what’s not and you can imagine which list is usually longer. I have to tell them really difficult things. I don’t sit them down and go, “You’re not doing this, you’re not doing this, you’re not doing this. You really start doing this and this and this. It’s all framing, right? You’ve got a really good base here in order to take this to the next level. Here are the three things that are going to sort of allow you to get through the strains, the capacity constraints that you’re facing, one, two and three.” Framing.

Stephanie: So if you see something in your firm or there’s an opportunity you want to create, I’m working with two, I don’t know what you call them, mid-gen advisors, right? They’re in their mid to late thirties and they’re bringing financial planning into an investment firm. They’re bringing in the CRM, we’re building out the automated processes. We’re defining services and segments and fees and who’s going to do the planning and how we’re going to do it. And so every time that there’s a conversation with the founder about what we’re doing or how we’re doing it, we don’t walk in and say, “Hey, here’s what we’re doing.” Or “Hey, we want X” or “Hey, we want to spend Y.” Right? So I’m coaching them on how to better engage themselves in the firms so that they can be change agents and contributors that are viewed very positively by the partner as opposed to them, him perceiving that they’re just coming in and asking for stuff or complaining. Right?

Stephanie: So one of the things I teach my kids that I would say to any human being is don’t complain, contribute. So if you see a problem like, “Hey, you know, the service tiers aren’t organized, it would be a lot easier if we knew who the A’s B’s and C’s were and we knew how to schedule that.” Think about the frame. Ask Yourself, this is common sense at this point. So basic question number one is, “Has my owner or partner heard this? I’m going to assume yes, unless they’ve been hiding in a cave for the last 20 years. Okay. So, but let’s ask ourselves the question.” Two, “What’s their position and view on it?” Either they’ve never spoken a word of it or they’ve said something, right? If they’ve given you some inclination like, “Yeah, it’d be good to do that at some point” then you know that you’re working with maybe fertile ground if they’ve never uttered a word, you don’t know what you’re dealing with, which means that you need to do a little probing before you just go in and say, “Hey, we need to create a service model and we need to do this and we need to do that.” That’s overwhelming to someone who’s been doing it this way for 20 or 30 years.

Stephanie: And so the framing is what becomes really important is, how can you frame it in a way that respects and validates what’s been done, always because all firm owners and partners are humans and that’s what people want, to be respected, validated? And that identifies the problem in a constructive view. I’ve noticed, you know, “Bob, do you have a few minutes to sit down and talk with me on Friday?” Do it thoughtfully. By the way, don’t just be like, “Hey, by the way” just be like, “Hey Bob. There’s a couple of things that I’ve been noticing. I’d love to get your feedback on could I meet with you tomorrow?” And then you sit down and you say, “Hey, you know what? I keep, you know, I’ve heard you say a number of times now” right? Something positive. “You really want to take the firm to the next level. You’ve been wanting to spend more free time out of the office.” Whatever it is, tie that back into your what I call a point of contribution that’s code for the problem you want to solve.

Stephanie: Point of contribution is a lot nicer and then you look at it through the lens of, “How can I help? How can I be a facilitator and what’s the frame?” So if you know that Bob is a diehard on not wanting to change anything, that’s going to be harder than if you just don’t know why it hasn’t been done yet. Right? And you can change your languaging to address any of those scenarios. So what I always tell my clients when there’s any kind of meaningful or significant interaction that you’re going to have with another human being, that the outcome is important to you, sit down and do the following. Ask yourself what outcome you want. Two, ask yourself, what the frames are, yours and theirs. How is Bob likely to perceive your issue based on what you know of Bob? You can’t be in Bob’s head, but Bob may or may not have said some things, come back from a conference, etcetera. Right? So you should have some kind of a read or you need to do some probing. And then ultimately how are you going to frame the conversation as a point of contribution?

Stephanie: And then what you really want to make sure of is that you really think through for yourself, what the options are, so I will always ask my clients, “Well, what are the possible outcomes? All options of what could happen?” So you have this conversation with Bob. He might be like, “Wow, Hannah, that’s a great idea. Let’s do it.” Okay, so it’s a sure yes. He might say, “Heck no Hannah, that’s the worst idea ever. I don’t ever want to hear you say that again. Walk out of my office.” That’s a hard no. And then probably some variation of in the middle. Right? And so if you know that, how are you going to handle the yes. How are you going to handle the no, and how are you going to handle that, maybe in the middle.

Stephanie: And if you know that going in, it fundamentally changes the conversation. I do this in terms of “Hey, you keep telling me I’m going to be a partner.” I’ve coached so many younger advisors on how to have those difficult conversations. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a phone call. “He keeps saying I’m going to be, I’m the heir apparent, I’m going to be the partner someday, but there’s nothing in writing. And he keeps saying not to worry about it and I’m, you know, now I’m 32 and my wife’s had a baby and you know, I got to know like, is this my future or do I need to be going someplace where I’m actually going to get to be a partner someday?”

Stephanie: And so it’s all about how you frame that conversation. If you say, “You know, you’ve been saying this to me for years and it hasn’t happened.” How do you think that conversation is going to go?

Hannah: They’re immediately defensive. Yeah.

Stephanie: And by the way, and I’m guessing that this will be spot on for many of you, depending on the types of people that you work with, but many advisors are conflict avoidant. And what I mean by that is they’re usually people who are kind of, they’re louder and they’ll get in there and they’ll have the conflict, and then there are people who won’t. And the people who won’t are actually harder to deal with when you want things, because anytime it’s uncomfortable, they withdraw and retreat.

Stephanie: So I’ve got a client right now, multimillion dollar firm, two advisors and literally the comp conversation has been so difficult that they, that was ultimately the impetus for them calling me. There’s a lot more broad we’re going on ’cause they had other needs, but it was, this is, like people are gonna leave and then it was like, “Well we need to have a comp plan. Why don’t we have a comp plan?” And he’s like, “Well, you know, we haven’t really gotten around to it.” Okay, that makes sense. Then I talked to the two advisors. Not only had they talked about it, Hannah, they talked about it multiple times and put together a PowerPoint deck with a proposed compensation model, talked to him about it and left it on his desk and he said, “Okay, let me look at that and get back to you.” And that was where it left, literally. But when he explained it, it was, “Well, you know, we’ve talked about, we haven’t really gotten around to it. Totally different perspective and it’s because that’s an uncomfortable conversation for him.

Stephanie: It’s a mindset issue. There’s a lot, and this is what I mean by framing and I say this with all due respect, but if you haven’t been in their shoes and you don’t have their mindset, it’s really hard to understand. So if you really want to know what your prospects at a firm are, look at the mindset of your owner. Is it positive and abundant? Things are good for everyone, positive culture or is it, I’m avoiding doing the things I need to do. I’m avoiding putting plans in place, I’m avoiding documenting. That will tell you a lot about the future of a firm and what the possibilities in that firm can be.

Hannah: So I have to go back to the succession plan analogy that you just gave because I’m like, I need to know the answer. You left me hanging.

Stephanie: You and 5,000 other people, yeah.

Hannah: I know. It’s like, okay, let’s get back to this. So you talked about the succession plan owner, you know going into the conversation, there’s going to be one of three. It’s a hard yes, it’s a hard no or somewhere in the middle. What do you do when it’s somewhere in the middle? It’s still that ambiguous state?

Stephanie: Well, and let’s also not negate the no. Now here’s the trick. They probably won’t tell you straight out no.

Hannah: Yeah.

Stephanie: Right? Most people don’t go, “Nope. You’re never going to be a partner someday. So just be good with being an employee and you got to be okay with that.” I would prefer that sometimes just so people knew what they were dealing with.

Hannah: Right.

Stephanie: But let’s just talk a little bit about the, what I call the maybe in the middle, right? That gray area where you don’t even exactly know where it got left, right? The, “Oh yeah, I’ll take a look at that and get back to you” or “Yeah, I’m working on that.” So the yes is easy. “Great. How can I help move this forward?” So you always want to take responsibility for that next step. “What can I do to help move this forward?” “Oh, nothing. I need to meet with the accountant to talk about X, Y, or Z.” “Great. So why don’t we get together and you know, would it be okay if we got together in two weeks to kind of circle up on that?” Right? So that’s just in a yes scenario, that’s option.

Stephanie: In the no scenario, what you want to do is make sure that you’re asking them to think about why and then be able to articulate that back to you. Not right now. “Bob, I totally respect your view. It was really important to me to kind of get a sense of where you were on this. I’d love to better understand what about creating a partnership opportunity is really uncomfortable for you. Is it something about my individual performance? Is it the construct in general? I’d really appreciate having a better understanding so that I can understand what my future role in the firm will look like. Would it be okay if we got back together in a week or two to just kind of download on this?” Ninety-nine percent of the time, the person’s not going to say, “No. No. I will not explain to you the rationale for my thinking.”

Stephanie: But what happens is many times when we get the no or we get an answer, we don’t like making that transition to the maybe in the middle is we don’t frame it in a way that still allows for resolution. Right? When they turned in that comp plan or when that senior founder said, “You’ll be the partner someday. Don’t worry, I’m working on it.” The junior person in this scenario didn’t frame it and say, “I understand that these things take time and you might be working on that. How can I best help move this forward? Can we get together next month to talk about our progress?”

Stephanie: And so that’s kinda that maybe in the middle gray area is depending on how soft a yes or no it is, right? It’s usually somewhere in that spectrum, is you want to be asking what can I do? Because what is that demonstrating?

Hannah: That commitment initiative.

Stephanie: Commitment and initiative, right? Critical, critical, critical. And if you can start with validation and belonging, affirmation, “I understand that this is a big topic for you. It’s a big topic for a lot of people. I know it’s confusing and complicated for me; it’s probably even harder for you. I just want you to know that I really want to have a constructive, open and positive dialogue around this and I want you to be really comfortable and I want us to have that conversation together in a way that feels good to you and me.” Affirmation, right? This is hard. I get that it’s hard. I want it to be a nice, hard, not a hard, hard. And then it’s, “I appreciate that.” Right? So this is sort of the, maybe we’re not exactly sure. I’ll get back to that or I’ll think about it and then it’s, “I appreciate that. As you can imagine, this is an important topic for me. What can I do to help move this forward?” And if they say something, then great, go do that, like lickety split be all over it. And if they’re like, “Oh well, you know, I need to ask the account about equity structures and taxes” or “I just need to talk to so and so” or “You know, give me a couple of weeks to think of, get back to me.” Absolutely make sure that you’re going back and doing that.

Stephanie: “Totally understand these things take time and thought, and we need to give it attention. How can I best help move this forward? And if it sounds like you need to meet with the accountant great.” Would it be okay? So two phrases that are really easy ways to ask for anything are, would it be okay if? Or would it be alright if? “Would it be all right if I came back in a couple of weeks to just touch base with you about the progress and sit down with you about some of the questions that I have?” Right? It would be weird for them to say no.

Hannah: Yep.

Stephanie: Right? So it’s all in the framing and the framing is really understanding the mindset of the stakeholders in the conversation and where they may be coming from. And then under, like if you know that, that person is in the mindset of having built a firm from scratch, then you’ve got to put yourself in that mindset of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the uphill in the snow both ways kind of thing. If that sort of where your founder’s mindset is at, and you can usually get sort of a general idea. And if they have like this, you know, it’s open and it’s abundant, everything’s wonder and positive culture, well then we probably aren’t even having this conversation because they’ve probably done the things they need to do.

Hannah: We’ve talked a lot about career growth and personal growth, but you coach a lot of people on like client skills and even looking at young advisors, there’s a point where if they want to advance to a certain point, they have to be able to find clients. So can I have you talk about just that client skills and how do we engage with a client? How can we as young planners engage with clients in a way that is meaningful right now?  

Stephanie: From a prospecting perspective or just as in terms of actually serving as an advisor servicing them?

Hannah: Let’s just about servicing them right now and then we can talk about finding clients in a minute.

Stephanie: Well, I think at the end of the day it’s knowing why clients come to you and I think there are quite honestly a lot of firm owners and firms out there that don’t go through this exercise. And when we all know why from a functional perspective, right? They want their investments managed; they want financial plans so they know when they can retire, right? The big five questions. But at the end of the day, the real question is, nobody wakes up in the morning and goes, “Oh my God, I’m going to go do some investment management. I think I’ll go hire a financial planner.” That’s not usually how it happens. It’s sort of a need, and then it presses and when you think about it, is money a really happy conversation in most people’s homes or does it tend to come with a little bit of stress?

Hannah: It’s a lot a bit of stress.

Stephanie: It’s, it’s a lot of a distress, right? Most people don’t come into your offices because they don’t have that stress or they wouldn’t be walking into your office. Right? So what they’re coming is with uncertainty, confusion, big burning questions, you know, a lack of clarity. They don’t know what the next steps are. They’re usually, remember I talked about states, success state, positive, abundance, feeling empowered, can do anything. Stress state is literally a different state, not just from a mindset perspective but from a physiology, right? So if our thoughts are going on in the background and they’re largely negative, and then we get on the topic of money, that usually triggers a lot of fears and pain points for people. When they’re coming into your office for the first time and even on an ongoing basis, what you have to ask yourself is, “What do they really want?” They want advice, not information. They don’t need 40 page financial plans. Doesn’t mean you can’t give them one, but they don’t need them. I’ve proven this dozens of times when people promise me that their clients had to have them.

Stephanie: A really simple way to solve that problem, by the way, is just at the end of a meeting tell the client, “We’ve covered a lot and there’s a lot of documentation that goes into this, but I know there’s probably only a few pages that are really important to you. If you want to pick out a couple of pages that you’d like to take with you, I’ll make a quick copy and you can take them away.” And I promise you they’ll never take more than a few pages and then you know which pages actually mattered to them and then you can stop killing trees. But I’m sorry I got on a sidetrack there, but that’s one of those things that come up a lot.

Stephanie: So I think what we really want to think about as clients is where they’re coming from, right? What need do they have and how can we fill it and what they usually want in some form, One, to get out of the stress state, what I call relief. They want relief from their big burning questions, from the lack of clarity, whatever it is, right? And then because they’re human beings, I guarantee you the next thing they want is what? To move into the success state. They want to move out of the stress state. They want to find relief, make the pain stop, and then, can we focus on the possibility? Success state, “When can I retire? What kind of income will I have?” Now, it doesn’t mean that those are always easy conversations, but that’s the journey that your clients are on at a behavioral level. “Move me from here at the pain point, to here to something that feels a lot better.” Right? “From relief to peace of mind.” Right? “From confusion, to clarity, from complexity to certainty.”

Stephanie: And so if you know that, the question becomes how do you approach those client engagements? So one of the things we talk about in our coaching program is, clients want, the value, is advice, not information. And the biggest mistake that I see financial planners make as a whole is they grossly undervalued the work that they do. I’m not saying everyone should run out and double their fees, some people probably should, but what I’m saying is the actual value of the work. If people truly understood the value of the work, they would never discount a fee. They would never waive a minimum; they would never take a client under that minimum because they need there to be a fair exchange.

Stephanie: But at the end of the day, if you understand what clients need, you can serve them so much better. It changes everything. It changes the questions that you ask, right? A lot of questions are very functional, but when I design sales processes and advice processes, we have a lot of different kinds of questions. So one of the fun questions, when people are sitting down, if you want to get a couple talking early on in a meeting about themselves, which is a good way for them to like the meeting, ask them great questions, like I don’t know, you guys have lots of great questions out there, but one of my favorite questions after you’ve done a sort of the warm-up is asking things like, “So tell me where the two of you agree about money and tell me where you disagree about money.” You won’t have to say anything for the next 45 minutes. Now you should because that should not be allowed to go on for 45 minutes.

Stephanie: But the point is if you asked that question, what are you gonna hear? You’re gonna hear where the pain point is around money for them and that’s the big value. If you can ease that pain point it’s a no brainer. Right? If you ask people, “What are the big burning questions that are keeping, do you have any big burning questions that are keeping you up at night?” Most people have a question or two. “Do we have enough to put the kids in college right now or do we need to save more?” That’s a big question if you have a child. Right?

Stephanie: So we tend to view meetings whether they’re on-boarding and what I call enrollment meetings ’cause I don’t really like the word sales process, I don’t think we’re selling anything at this point. I think we’re persuasive educators that give people the opportunity to improve their lives through planning and if they do, great, and if not, then okay, great, they’ll go on and do something else.

Stephanie: But at the end of the day, if you know what the need that you’re really filling is, it fundamentally changes the meeting and we have this tendency to focus on the functional and technical. “Here are the investment reports. Here’s the Morning Star report. Here’s your net worth statement.” And that’s all great. I’m not taking away from the merit of those things, but that’s not why people sit down with an advisor. They sit down with an advisor for all those other reasons that I mentioned. They’ve got questions that are important to them and you’re the source of answers and if you frame every interaction with the client from that perspective, you will have the best client relationships, right? Yes, you should have a service model. Yes, you should have a clear process. You should have great deliverables. It should be simple and elegant. You don’t need to overwhelm people. It should be advice driven, irrespective of kind of what that advice is, but if you can frame all of that in the context of “I’m getting people from here to there behaviorally, emotionally, and you view your interactions and frame them with the kind of questions and dialogue that are considerate of that, you will have powerful, deep, engaging client relationships.

Hannah: You know we mentioned extending this to finding clients that people get that to get to that point in their career where they want to, if they want the extra income, you kind of have to be able to find clients at that point. How does this extend to prospecting and bringing in new clients?

Stephanie: It’s exactly the same ’cause a prospect is just a person that hasn’t said they need you yet. Right? So rule number one is, and we all know this, you’ve got to be able to talk about what you do. You just have to. Now, that’s one of the other big things that I hear from partners and owners, is “She’s not doing any rainmaking. She’s not going out. He’s not doing any rainmaking. He’s not bringing in any clients.” Now, I’ll be really honest, there’s a lot of conversation that can be had around this because that isn’t always the expectation. That’s not always the advisor’s skillset. There’s not necessarily any training, right? They’re like, “Just go off and do it.” “Well okay, I didn’t go to go off and do at school. I went to CFP school, so they didn’t cover that part.” Right?

Stephanie: So there’s a lot, that’s a really complicated conversation. You have to really unpack it. But at the end of the day, what you need to be able to do is talk about what you do competently and confidently. And this is a huge problem, not just for the people on this podcast, but I promise you for really successful people, like most of them are just not that great at really articulating what they do in a clear, concise and compelling manner. So there’s a couple of really easy ways to do that. One of them is what I call my as a result of. If you say, “I do financial planning” people go, “Okay, thanks, that’s great.” But look, I also, you know, this concept of the elevator speech, I just, when was the last time that you got into an elevator, had that awkward pause and had them ask you what you did?

Hannah: Yep.

Stephanie: It doesn’t exist. That scenario doesn’t exist, right? What happens is you might be at a networking mixer or you might be meeting new people and someone will say, “What do you do?” You are not, I’m just so sorry. You’re just not going to say to them, “I am a wealth architect and I” that just sounds so weird. I mean, right? It’s like you’re trying just too, too hard and some people can pull it off and God bless them, but if you just say, you know, I’m a financial advisor, that kind of ends the conversation. Right? And so again, time and place for everything, but anytime you get the opportunity you want to talk about what you do, all you really want to talk about, and this is all that matters are the results of what you do. If I say to you, if you say, “Hey Stephanie, tell me a little bit about what you do.” And I say, “Oh, I’m a business consultant and CEO coach.” Well, that’s a boring conversation. That’s a period, we’re done. If I say “Hannah, I’m really, I’m glad that you asked, I’m actually a business consultant and CEO coach. I really love what I do because as a result of working with me, my clients see radical growth in their revenue with the owners gain back their time and freedom and they’re finally able to build a wildly successful business and life that they love.”

Stephanie: And if you’re really prospecting, then you could say, “Who do you know that sounds like that?” Right? “Who do you know?” So there’s these really simple ways to just, it’s what I call seeding. And I think that’s one of the big misnomers in the sales conversation. I say that in quotes in this profession is you’re not going to walk up to someone, tell them what you do when they’re not going to say, “Oh my God, can I please come into your office tomorrow?” I mean, that might happen like once every thousand times. What you’re doing is seeding. Seeding is you’re, you’re planting a seed, so when the time and place come that that person is someone or knows someone that might have a need for this work that you’re going to come to mind. And so that’s what you always want to be doing is always be seeding, right?

Stephanie: So if you’ve got a friend that’s a business owner, and even if they’re not your target client profile, right? Maybe they’re just not big enough yet, and you’re talking about what you can do, you could just say, “Wow, I really love the firm that I work at. We do an amazing job of helping people, you know, plan, protect and grow their wealth. We answer their burning questions and they go from not being able to sleep at night to being able to sleep on it and feel really good knowing that they don’t have to do the work and worry because we’re doing it for them.” Now, that person, again, might not even need you, not going to run out and call you, but are they going to remember you when they’re talking to someone who’s like, “Dang, I just can’t even get to sleep. I’m so stressed out about work.

Hannah: Yep.

Stephanie: Right? You’re always wanting to be seeding. Always. And that is, I think one of the biggest challenges for advisors sort of in the, you know, not founder or senior generations, is it is a different environment. So how do you develop this rainmaking skill because we aren’t dialing for dollars anymore. And quite honestly, I don’t know anyone that wants to.

Hannah: Yep.

Stephanie: Right? We’re professionals. We want to hold ourselves with a level of character and integrity and ethics, right? Accustomed to doctors and lawyers, and we could laugh about the lawyers and tell a joke, but we’ll skip that. But the idea is, right? That we want to operate at this real level of professionalism, which means that we’re not ambulance chasing. And so what we do want to do is find, really informed and appropriate ways, it’s what I call making a dignified offer. We don’t sell. You’re not a salesman, you’re a persuasive educator and you don’t sell, you make a dignified offer. Your job is to give people the information they need to make a good choice about their financial future and to give them the opportunity to make one.

Hannah: Right.

Stephanie: That’s your job. If they don’t choose to work with you, you’ve done your part. Sleep well. Go find someone who is ready to work with you. Don’t worry about the person who isn’t.

Stephanie: So I think the biggest, the best advice I would give anyone really wanting to advance their career is, develop that skillset. And if you don’t know how, and you have a firm manager, partner or owner that you can approach, I would find it to be really odd if someone called me up and said, “You know, someone at my firm came to me and asked me to help them develop rainmaking skills.” I think my clients would love it if people came to them and had those conversations “Hey, you know what? You know, rainmaking isn’t really a part of my role, but I can see the success that you’ve achieved. And rainmaking is clearly a big part of it. It’s not a skillset that I really developed and I’m not super comfortable, but this is a muscle I know I need to develop. Is this something that we could work on together?”

Stephanie: I mean, I can promise you that half the people that heard that will just be floored because that’s not what’s happening in most cases. Now, in fairness, they should be going to the advisors that they’re sometimes complaining about taking the initiative and saying, “Hey, if you want to advance and achieve this level of success, rainmaking is a skill that you’re going to need to develop. I’m happy to help you with that. Is that something you’d like to do?” Right? It’s a two way conversation. It’s just that most firms aren’t having it.

Hannah: And you know it’s on younger planners to be the initiator sometimes. It’s not an excuse just because your boss isn’t doing it.

Stephanie: Well here’s a really good way for anyone listening to determine if they should take more initiative in this regard or in any other. If the point has ever been discussed and nothing has happened, that’s your clue. That’s your clue. Because if there were going, if you had a conversation and they were going to do something about it, they would have done it. So that’s when you really want to establish that, so here’s the real truth of it. There’s only one of three reasons that these “things we’re talking about” whatever they are or aren’t getting done, it’s because an advisor can’t, doesn’t want to or doesn’t know how. Can’t is not even an option in any of these conversations. Of course, you can do any of these things don’t want to, that’s a tricky one because sometimes they say they want to, but at a mindset and a behavioral level, they really don’t. Right? They’ve got some fears or some concerns that they’re not even always consciously aware of that are really holding them back. I see that all the time by the way. So it’s kind of a very passive aggressive thing. “Yes, you’re going to be a partner someday.” No game plan, no path, no documentation. “Yes, you’re going to get that raise.” No game plan, no path, no documentation. “Yes, I’m going to transition more clients to you.” No game plan, right?

Stephanie: So it’s either they don’t want to, consciously or unconsciously or and this is true in a lot of the cases, they just don’t know how. And what is really incredible, you guys will get a real kick out of this. I do every single time. It’s not what people would think Hannah, but I can’t tell you how many times advisors just freeze because they don’t know how to approach something. They don’t know how to design the comp plan. They don’t know how to design the partnership path. They don’t know how to design a process to transition clients from them to that right up and coming advisor. They literally don’t know how. And so again, what does your brain do when you have a problem you don’t know how to solve and you’re already busy? Your brain just goes, “We’re fine. We’ll deal with that later. We’ll deal with it later. We’ll deal with it later.”

Hannah: Right.

Stephanie: And so it’s not that they’re doing it in 95 percent of the cases. I promise you they are not doing it on purpose. They don’t know why they’re not doing it unless they are just intentionally, but that’s not usually the case. At least not the firms that I get called into. Those people may exist. They don’t call me for help. And so it’s really important for anyone listening as they’re looking at their firm and their environment and their opportunities, right?

Stephanie: We’ve talked about a lot. I’m sorry if that wasn’t the intent. I get excited about this stuff. What you really want to understand is what’s the environment that you’re operating in. If there are problems or challenges or things that you want to see change or happen that aren’t, and you’ve had a conversation about them. If you haven’t, then take everything you heard in this call, listen to it a couple of times and write out, write bullet point how you want that conversation to go ’cause there’s some really good advice in here about how to make that a better conversation. But if you’ve had any kind of conversation, go back to it with that new frame because we can always do it better and then apply that, “What can I do to move this forward? Would it be okay if we touch base in two weeks?” And then in that process, really try to establish is, if it’s an “I don’t want to, or I don’t know how.”

Stephanie: And that’s where the acknowledgement and the affirmation can be so valuable. “You know, Frank, we’ve talked about this” I’m now mocking up a real conversation that I taught someone to have, “Frank, I’ve been here seven years, I love the firm. I have the utmost of respect for you. I think I’ve made a really significant contribution and I really enjoy being here. As you know, we’ve talked about this path to partnership over the last three years a number of times and I’m really trying to understand what I can do to help bring some clarity to that process. I know it’s important to you. It’s really important to me and I have to say as important as it is to me, I know that it’s probably a lot harder for you, right? You’ve never had to do this before. There’s lots of, you know, it’s probably not as easy as I think it is, but I just want you to know that I’m happy to participate in that process in any way that I can that’s going to help move that conversation along.”

Stephanie: That’s very different than going home and saying to your boyfriend or your girlfriend or your parents or your spouse, “Oh, he just told me I’ll be there someday, but nothing’s happening.” Right? That’s not an empowered state. Right? So one of the things that, I just say one of the things like seven times, right? So there’s obviously a lot of things I would love for people to know about mindset. But the most important thing is everything that you’re experiencing is a function of your mindset and sort of the reality that you create. ‘Cause if someone says to you seven times, “You’re going to be a partner someday, don’t worry” and they don’t take any action and you’re still there 10 years later, are they the only one to blame?

Hannah: Right.

Stephanie: Right? There’s two parties in every interaction. So it’s a function of looking at your environment, right? What’s working, what’s not working, and then even though you don’t know where you might want to be long term, in terms of what you think you want for the next three to five years, does that environment exist in a way that you think that, that’s possible and how can you take responsibility and show commitment and initiative for helping that take place as opposed to just looking at the owners for that direction? Right? So creating a collaborative process. If they’re open to that, at least by starting that dialogue. Or, we cannot say anything and let time pass, in which case we’re sort of doing the same thing that they’re doing and that’s where these big chasms occur in firms around client transitions, compensation changes, partnership pass, is that everybody just sort of knows that it’s there but doesn’t really know how to approach it and then just doesn’t discuss it or we sort of have these spotty conversations here and there, but we never really get something concrete moving. And that’s a pain point and a source of frustration for everybody involved. That’s not the goal.

Hannah: Such good stuff. Oh my gosh, I’m like, I want to go, I need to go back and re-listen to this.

Stephanie: I promised we’d only do 45 minutes. I told you it happens. I can’t help myself.

Hannah: Well, for the people who want to find you, where are the best places where they can go and read more of your work?

Stephanie: They can certainly, I write a monthly column for Investment News, so they can just Google Stephanie Bogan Investment News. I’m actually getting a new website done, but for right now they can go to limitlessadviser.com. There’s information there just in general on our coaching program. But there’s always, I think we’re giving away the Five Freedoms of Limitless Advisers White Paper right now, so if you put your email in, you’ll get a copy of that and then you’ll be on the communication list for just interesting things that we send out from time to time. And if anyone wants to talk to me directly in terms of maybe working with their firm or like, hey, you want to email me a question? You can reach me at learn more at learnmore@educeinc.com.

Hannah: Great. Well thank you so much, Stephanie.

Stephanie: It’s been a pleasure Hannah. Thank you for having me.

Hide Transcript

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Stephanie Bogan thinks it’s time for a breakthrough. Through Educe Inc., Stephanie works with countless successful advisors on elevating their career, focusing on their personal fulfillment, and changing the way they approach financial planning. Through Educe Inc., Stephanie works with countless successful advisors on elevating their career, focusing on their personal fulfillment, and changing the way they approach financial planning. Before she was a coach, Stephanie ran a successful startup, sold a Fortune 200 company, and held roles on senior executive boards. Finally, she decided it was time for a change. She pursued her true passion – helping financial planners run their businesses with a virtual coaching practice while moving her life to sunny Costa Rica.
Stephanie helps financial planners through both group and private coaching. As an advisor coach, she’s truly seen it all – and she’s ready to start solving the problems that new financial planners are facing in this profession.
In this episode, we’re talking about how up and coming advisors can find a position with a firm owner – and what they should look for when forming a partnership. We’re talking about work life balance. We’re talking about commitment both to your career, your firm, and this profession.
By the end of this episode you’re going to be ready to tackle your biggest goal as a new advisor. Stephanie has some fantastic insights on getting clarity, and you’ll leave the episode inspired to pursue your purpose as a financial planner.


 
What You’ll Learn:

What makes financial planners successful and what you can start doing today to put yourself on that path
How to approach a founder about a potential partnership or succession plan
How both founders and new planners can talk to each other and understand one another’s experience and validate emotions
How young planners can engage with clients in a way that is meaningful right now
How to know why clients come to you for financial planning services
The best ways to dig deeper and grow personally as a young planner
Knowing how to approach clients about money – because it’s not always a happy topic in their household
How to get clarity

Stephanie Bogan: Are you building a wildly successful business and a life that you love?
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Hannah Moore clean 1:01:53
Growing With Your Tribe in the Financial Planning Profession http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-growing-with-your-tribe-in-the-financial-planning-profession/ Tue, 12 Jun 2018 18:05:40 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11347 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-growing-with-your-tribe-in-the-financial-planning-profession/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-growing-with-your-tribe-in-the-financial-planning-profession/feed/ 0 In this week’s unique episode of #YAFPNW, Hannah Moore, CFP® steps into the hot seat and is interviewed by the one and only Rianka Dorsainvil, CFP®. Tune in to hear Hannah’s story, and to learn how she came to be so incredibly passionate about the financial planning profession. Your host, Hannah Moore CFP®, steps into the hot seat this week to be interviewed by Rianka Dorsainvil, CFP®! Hannah is incredibly passionate about the financial planning profession. In this exclusive interview, Hannah is talking about her struggles early on in her career, how she discovered the difference between financial advice and financial planning, and how she found her tribe within the financial planning profession.

Hannah’s career launched in an incredibly unique way. She bought a financial planning practice when she was 26 years old, and was effectively thrown into the deep end of the financial planning world. She learned in the most hands-on way possible, and she quickly realized that isolation as a young planner was not only detrimental to her career, but to her clients.

When Hannah attended her first FPA NexGen Gathering, she quickly realized she had found her people. She was sitting next to pioneers of the profession, and new planners alike – and they were all there for one reason: to spread the gospel of financial planning and to focus on making themselves into the best planners they could be. This was game changing for Hannah, and inspired her involvement in the financial planning profession with the #YAFPNW podcast and, ultimately, the launch of the FPA Activate community.

 

What we do with planning is so powerful. It changes people’s lives. It changes generations of families. That’s what I get to be a part of… This is about financial planning, and this is about changing people’s lives, and I can get behind that and I can get excited about that. @GuidingWealth on #YAFPNW

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What You’ll Learn:

  • What makes an exceptional planner
  • How to “show up” in the financial planning profession
  • How to find your people in this profession
  • Where to connect with other planners
  • How to power through insecurities when you’re a new planner
  • Revelations Hannah has had as a planner, entrepreneur, and business owner
  • How you can combine your creative side with a career in financial planning

 

 

The 2050 TrailBlazers Podcast

NexGen Gathering

FPA Activate on Facebook

 

Show Transcript

Ep102 Transcript


Rianka: Well, this is going to be fun today, Hannah.

Hannah: It is. It’s a lot more comfortable on your side of the table I think.

Rianka: Right. So today, we are actually, well, you’re switching hats. You’re actually going to be the interviewee, and I’m going to interview you. How are you feeling?

Hannah: I’m feeling good. I’m feeling a little nervous because I feel like this isn’t going to be the normal podcast where it’s just, you know, “What’s your advice for new planners?” I know you well enough. You’re going to dig.

Rianka: Oh yeah. Well, you know, since I have my own syndicated podcast, 2050 Trailblazers. Just joking, it’s not syndicated yet, but-

Hannah: But everyone should listen to it.

Rianka: Yes, I agree. I have honed in on my skills of being a Oprah-type interviewer, so, yeah, I think you should … I know you’re over there sipping some hot tea, so I think that should soothe you as we start this interview. I’m really excited, and thank you for choosing me to interview you. This is really cool.

Hannah: Yes, absolutely. Well, we were talking about it and it’s like people don’t really know all of my story.

Rianka: Right.

Hannah: You know? I really try to make it a point not, these podcasts aren’t about me, they’re about who I’m interviewing, and I was like, “Okay. Well, let’s turn the tables.”

Rianka: Yes, and you definitely have a story to tell. So, just for the listeners’ sake, our relationship goes way back. We actually met in 2014 at, we were joking before we started recording because it feels like we’ve known each other for like ten years, but it’s really been like, four? Like that doesn’t sound right.

Hannah: I know, right? It feels like forever.

Rianka: It feels like we’ve known each other for a decade, and we actually met at my very first gathering. So gathering is, FPA NexGen Gathering is not like any other conference that you go to. You go there one person and you come out a completely totally better version of yourself, and that’s exactly what happened when I met you. We met, we chatted, but it was during closing circle where you said something very touching to me and we’ve stayed connected ever since is that you found your people. So let’s start there. So, Hannah, how did you find your people and what did that mean to you?

Hannah: Well, so I went back, we were talking about this a little bit beforehand, and I was like, “What was happening in my life at that point?” Because I think that informs a couple of things. So I had already been to a gathering or two at that point, and they were so transformational for a variety of reasons, but at this one I had bought a practice, and so I believe it was my first gathering after buying a practice, maybe my second, and by every measure of success, like people always told me how great it was that I bought a practice and how successful I must be and how…

Rianka: Right. You’re under 30, you’re buying a practice. Like what? It’s kind of like a, “You go, girl.”

Hannah: So I had all this, and like I literally had somebody be like, “You have your career handed to you on a silver platter,” and none of that resonated with me. None of that like spoke to me on a deep level. So that was 2014, so it’s kind of mapping out the year. So 2013 I bought the practice, and soon after I ended up buying like these processes that really showed you how to do financial planning. So I had been working with this woman, and she did financial planning. I’ll give her like, yes, she did, and I learned so much for her and I have so much respect for her and everything that she did with her clients, but I would say that she definitely fell into the financial advice category, and so I got these processes and I had just started putting clients through it and these clients were just like, “Oh my god, I’ve been working with this other adviser for 30 years and I’ve never been able to articulate what it is that I wanted but this is it.”

Rianka: Wow.

Hannah: Like when I would describe what financial planning was to them, and I’m like, “Wow. Okay, that’s really cool.” I got the courage to ask for $500 for six meetings for a financial plan from some of these people, so that was a big deal for me.

Rianka: Hold on. Hold up. $500 for six meetings?

Hannah: Yep.

Rianka: Oh, wow.

Hannah: Confidence is always an issue.

Rianka: Okay. We’re going to talk about that.

Hannah: So I had taken several clients through this financial planning process, and I think I had realized, like I think it was intuitively understanding the difference between: What is financial advice and what is financial planning? And the power that’s in financial planning. It’s a different game. I don’t even know how to put words around it. I struggle with that. I often ask people on the podcast that question, like, “What is financial planning?” Because I’m like, “Give me the words.”

Rianka: Yes.

Hannah: But it was such a night and day difference between the relationships that I had with clients that I took through planning and the clients that I didn’t. Everybody around me was saying, “You know, you’re so successful because you have all these clients, you have this big AUM number,” which my revenue did not match my AUM number, but to me the success wasn’t in that I had bought a practice. The success was in what I was seeing through this financial planning that I was doing, and nobody where I was at really understood that on the deep level, and so I think about going to gathering. So the story that pops into mind there was that is where I met Dick Wagner.

Rianka: Oh, Dick Wagner.

Hannah: I don’t think I understood how powerful what I had or what I was seeing or what I was feeling was, because I’m very, I feel things. I care very deeply. I don’t know. People make decisions in a variety of ways, that’s how I am. But somebody had told me there, “If you get the chance, if you haven’t experienced Dick Wagner, you have to go experience him.”

Rianka: Right.

Hannah: And so I spent this lunch hour whatever with him, and so he has these grandiose ideas and it’s all great. Like go read his books all day long. So there’s only like four of us sitting there, and so he looks at me and he was like, “Do you have anything to say? Or like what are your thoughts?” And I didn’t have any thoughts, but I was like, I told him, I was like, “I have a story. I just have a story about a conversation that I had.” It was with my dad. So I walked through the story, and it was about: What does it mean to be wealthy? He sat there. He’s kind of this like gruff guy that’s kind of like a cranky old man. That was kind of his demeanor a little bit, but he sat there and cried as I told this story, and he just looked at me and he goes, “You get it. You really get this.”

Rianka: Wow.

Hannah: And I think it was that and there were several other moments at that gathering where I was just … So I’m seeing all this in my practice, I’m seeing just these handful of clients that I’ve taken through financial planning, I’m seeing like … That was his experience to that story. I go, “All of my clients can have that.” The fact like what we do with planning is so powerful it changes people’s lives. It changes generations of families. That’s what I get to be a part of, and it was just this profound like, “That’s my calling. This is what I’m about. This is not about buying a practice. This is not about AUM numbers. This is not about how many clients can I serve. This is about financial planning, and this is about changing people’s lives, and I can get behind that and I can get excited about that.”

Hannah: So I think for me at that gathering it was this realization of like, “Oh my god, this is what I have to offer the world. This is what we as a profession have to offer the world.” And it was just this moment of like, “These are the people that get it.” At my broker-dealer, they don’t get this, but they do at gathering. They do here. These are the conversations that I can have where I’m not the crazy person that people are kind of like rolling their eyes, “Oh, she’s just naïve. She doesn’t understand the real world.” I mean, I got all that crap, but that’s I think really when I found my people. It was I found the people that get the power of financial planning and the power of what we have to offer.

Rianka: I definitely agree with you on that, and there’s going to be some listeners, some younger planners, or maybe someone who is transitioning into the profession who may be experiencing what you experienced as far as just like the eye rolling and it’s just like, “Oh, give it some more time, you’ll see what we’re talking about,” and they may not have been able to truly experience that transformational moment of what it means to truly be a financial planner. What advice would you or do you have? Like how did you kind of stick with it so that the Hannah, the CFP that you are today you kind of grew into? What did that look like for you? What advice can you give the listeners?

Hannah: Well, my career path was so different. I was thrown in the deep end, and it was like, “Can you swim? Yes or no? And if it’s yes, we’re going to throw you in a deeper end.” Four years into my career, I bought a practice, and so I feel like my career path isn’t necessarily like the traditional one, or not at all like the traditional one.

Rianka: Right.

Hannah: Or what I would hope people would do for the traditional one. But I would just say like keep looking. We’re out there. I don’t know how to say this. I talk to so many new planners now through the podcast and everything that we’re doing, and the most common thing I hear is, “We bought into this idea of financial planning,” which is just so exciting to me, “And what I’m seeing at my firm isn’t there,” and I just want to be like, “Keep looking. It is so worth it to find it.” It is so worth it. I can’t imagine a better career, a more impactful career than what I have. So if you don’t see it at your firm, get out, not get out of your … I know switching jobs isn’t that easy.

Rianka: I know, yeah.

Hannah: So I’m not saying, like … Fully appreciate how difficult some of this is, but you can stay in that job but get connected, get connected, listen to this podcast, get in the Activate group, find people. Isolation is what kills us, and so it’s: How do we break out of that isolation as young planners? And we do that from hearing other people. My gosh, I got to talk to freaking Dick Wagner. You go to any FPA national event, you are going to be able to sit next to some of the pioneers who literally gave everything for this-

Rianka: Paved the way, yeah.

Hannah: Gave everything for this profession, and so they’re out there. You just have to look, and unfortunately like sometimes it’s not that easy, but I promise you we’re out there. Just keep looking. Just keep going.

Rianka: Right. And you mentioned the Activate group. So for if there’s any new listeners where this may be their first brush at you’re a financial planner, now we’ll make sure we put those in the show notes.

Hannah: Absolutely.

Rianka: So you can get involved. You mentioned that we’re out there. I have some of the same conversations with new planners and those who are transitioning as well who may have their first firm or organization may not just be a good fit for them for whatever reason, and I say that’s the gift and a curse about our profession is that not one firm is alike, not one career path is alike. So the curse in that is that if you do have a bad experience, you think all firms or organizations are that way, and that’s not it. That’s not the truth. So the gift is there is a firm waiting for someone specifically like you, and where it’s kind of like church. You come as you are, and they want you for you, you know?

Hannah: Yep. Well, and you have so much to offer. That’s the thing is you look at what makes exceptional financial planners is how they show up, and how you show up it’s, you know, I’m a small town girl, grew up in a really, really small town in South Dakota, but that’s part of my story. That’s part of what I bring to my client meetings, and they sense that, and that’s really valuable. Like your story is what makes … What makes you different is what makes you really valuable.

Rianka: And makes you unique. So I think one of the beautiful things about our profession is that we can truly share our stories. You can share the story about your dad and talking about what it means to be wealthy or what is that definitely of wealth and talk about your upbringing and just everything, and it’s appreciated because there are going to be some clients that connect with you and just form that sense of attachment and trust because it’s just like, “Okay. Wow, Hannah gets me, and she’s just like me. She’s no different.”

Hannah: Well, and I think being in touch with your story. So like I wrote … I felt like one of my weaknesses, and it still is one of my weaknesses, is I don’t feel as strong of a writer as other people, and so I started working with a writing coach, and she was like, “Okay. Well, the first thing we need to do is you need to be able to write your story.” And I’m like, “Okay, this is dumb. I need writing for business. I want to know how to write about that.” Anyway, several meetings and it was probably like two months for me to write my story, my why I do what I do, so that’ll be … It’s on the website. It’s on my Guiding Wealth website. So I talk about growing up without a whole lot of money, things like that, and I think what it does with being able to articulate that and getting, understanding my story, like I have … When you’re able to reflect on yourself, you have so much more compassion for other people’s stories. You show up differently.

Hannah: I hear my clients who say things like, “This whole money scripts, I love it,” and I can just see their money scripts, and instead of it being this, “Okay, like how do we solve this problem?” Because, you know, that works really well. It’s more of a like, “Okay, I’ve seen my own money scripts. I know how hard this is. I don’t maybe understand the specific challenges that you have, but I care and I’m so much more compassionate and patient.” I’m there with them through that, and I don’t think I would be able to do that unless I had really examined my own story.

Rianka: That’s pretty powerful. Pretty, pretty powerful. And so you’ve found your people, you purchased this firm, and I’m pretty sure there’s been some bumps in the road since then. It’s been-

Hannah: That’s a nice way to put it.

Rianka: There’s been, well, it has been about four years. What are some of the biggest I guess revelations as far as like owning a business, some of the surprises that you’ve come across?

Hannah: I think one of the things … Okay, let me think about this.

Rianka: Told you. That’s my Oprah moment.

Hannah: So I think I’ve learned that I’m an entrepreneur, like it’s in my blood. I love being a business owner. I love financial planning, but I also love being a business owner, and I would say financial planners are terrible business owners, and I had a mentor, Patrick Dougherty. He’s local. He’s here in Dallas. And he came from a business management background. He was a career changer, and so he always just stressed how important that was to be a good business owner.

Rianka: Yes.

Hannah: And so I think what I’ve learned, I’ve learned more of what that means, so I think there’s been some natural maturing on my side of: What does it mean to be a business owner? What does it mean to have employees? What does it mean to manage my time and my schedule? What does it mean to work from home? All of those things, like I can see how I’ve grown in that, but a couple other things that, since we’re really pulling back the curtain here.

Rianka: Oh, yeah. No holds barred here.

Hannah: So I made the transition from the broker-dealer. I had like 250 to 300 clients. I shrunk my client list down to 18. Like it was crazy. Best thing I’ve ever done, but I came out of that and it was, I just needed to rest. It was such an important part of my story, but in that I started doing the book The Artist’s Way, and I think one of the things that I’ve realized about myself is that I’m really creative. Okay, like my house is not decorated at all. I can’t pick out a paint color to save my life, but business is where I can show, that’s where my artist comes out. Financial planning is where my artist side comes out, and it’s, again, that idea of: How do you bring your full self to your work? I mean, that’s all part of it. Yeah, so I think I’ve learned that I’m creative, and I think I’ve learned how to be creative in my business.

Rianka: So that creative side, and you touched on something about there’s a difference between being a financial planner and a business owner, and one of the first books that I read prior to launching my firm, and I know it’s a book that we both hold dearly that we’ve reread multiple times is The E-Myth, or The Entrepreneur Myth, by Michael Gerber, and he talks about how we wear three hats as a business owner: the entrepreneur hat, the manager hat, and a technician hat. The first piece of advice someone gave to me is that, “Rianka, you’re no longer a financial planner. You are a business owner who owns a financial planning firm.”

Hannah: Absolutely.

Rianka: So talk to me about that realization for you, and what did that transition look like for you?

Hannah: You know, again, like now I can, five years, it feels like forever that I’ve had this business. So when I started the business or I bought the practice, I did everything, because that’s what I was doing before. Like I was the assistant and then now I’m just the adviser, and you just take on the extra roles. I used to tell people it’s so hard for me to switch, to go from paperwork. I mean, I could run circles around people on paperwork. Like I was really good at it. To go from that, very core competency to being an adviser to being a business owner, like I couldn’t describe it other than like that transition, that shifting gears in the middle of my day was one of the most training things that I would do. How I thought before I was like, “I’m crazy. I have my to-do list, just get down on your list and do it.”

Hannah: And I think a lot of it is kind of what you’re talking about. It’s like there’s different roles, and so for me when I hired my assistant, it was to get rid of some of that admin work. And could I have still done it all? Yeah, absolutely. I can do a lot of things. Is that the best decision? Is that the best use of my time? And so for me that was a huge piece of letting go, of saying like, “Okay, just because I’m better than everybody else at paperwork in my office doesn’t mean that that’s what I should be doing. That’s not the best use of my time.” That was a really big revelation on the E-Myth side of it.

Rianka: I think it’s really cool, especially with the E-Myth, how we learn not only to wear our technician hat, which is the hat that we have been most comfortable wearing, the technician hat meaning the financial planner hat, but now you’re wearing the entrepreneur/manager hat because you’ve hired someone. You have an assistant, and what did that process look like for you hiring someone? And how did you find them?

Hannah: Yeah. Craigslist.

Rianka: You know, Hannah, that is crazy. You’re the second person that has told me they found a gold mine or a gem or a diamond on Craigslist.

Hannah: And what was great, so I was looking for somebody who wasn’t from financial services because I think we’re all so tainted with how we talk about things, and I wanted somebody who could give me that perspective. I can train somebody on paperwork, but what I needed, I needed somebody to teach me how to have an assistant, because I’m not good at that, and that’s what she did. Her background was she had worked, she had been a business owner in the past, and she hated the business owner side of the business, and so she was like, “I loved what I did, but I hated the business owner side, and so I decided that I didn’t want to be a business owner.” And so I was like, “Okay. Well, that’s cool. You get me.”

Rianka: Right.

Hannah: Where a lot of people wouldn’t get that, and she worked for a solo architect for like seven years. She got like the solo professional. She got all of that side of it. It was really valuable to me. Man, I looked at her resume and I was like … you just knew. I’m just like, “Okay, there’s something special.” Again, that gut intuition that, you know, because when you put stuff on Craigslist, like oh my gosh, you get so many resumes back, and a lot of people can, you can weed out pretty fast, but I don’t know. It was just kind of the stars aligned again and it was what it was supposed to be.

Rianka: The universe conspiring with you.

Hannah: The E-Myth talks about like they give a story of a baker throughout it to like illustrate, or I guess like the latest version of it, it wasn’t in the original, and one of the things they talk about is how you hire this rockstar person who basically does everything because they’re responsible, they’re high-achievers, they’re good at what they do, and it’s like the business owner is like, “You’re the most amazing thing ever because I can just give you stuff and you do it.” That’s what my assistant, she’s like, oh my gosh, like I adore her. I think she’s crazy talented on so many levels, but the E-Myth was like, “Okay, that’s not enough though for a business. You have to have the processes built out, you have to have the accountability built out, you have to have all this other stuff.”

Hannah: And so when I went back and reread it, I was like, “Wow, okay. I can’t be the person who has one great hire and then they leave.” I mean, my gosh, this is the story of so many financial planners I know. They find a great new person, they think they found their succession plan, and then this person leaves, and it’s like, that’s almost like the script of E-Myth is you didn’t provide the structure for them. And so it’s, you know, I brought her on. She’s really taught me how to have an assistant, how to delegate, kind of operate in that space, and then now my latest takeaway with E-Myth is, “Okay, I need to grow up professionally. I need to grow up as a business owner.”

Hannah: If I ever want to, and I don’t know that I ever want to, scale this business, I need to develop a different skillset. I need to run my business differently than I am right now, and so that’s kind of been, you know, an ah ha moment, especially with a baby now.

Rianka: Oh, yeah.

Hannah: Oh, my god.

Rianka: Having a baby will change a lot of things.

Hannah: Oh, I have like an operations manual that’s almost done now.

Rianka: That is awesome.

Hannah: So it’s kind of whipped me into shape on that, which is great.

Rianka: And that’s something that you don’t have to do. That’s something that you can get your assistant to do.

Hannah: Yep.

Rianka: You are speaking to me because I did the same exact thing. I have an executive assistant, and I didn’t want someone who was in financial planning. I wanted someone who had no idea what financial planning is. One, so I can spread the good gospel of personal finance to this person, but to also just bring a new lens, a new perspective to how I’m doing things, and she’s been a fantastic hire as well. She’s been with me since January, and she’s been phenomenal, and I’m having her track the processes too that everything that you do write it down, and she’s doing it, so.

Hannah: Well, and that is just, you know, “What do you need?” And so like I was looking at, “Okay, what do I need?” I look at my to-do list right now and I’m like, “What’s not getting done, or what’s sitting on there too long?” And it’s all been planning work, and so I’m having my first paraplanner, working with my first paraplanner ever on Monday, like a week from today.

Rianka: Wow.

Hannah: Yeah, and so that’s been something I’m like, “Okay. Well, this is what I need.” In order for him to do the work that I need him to do, I have to be able to tell him what I need.

Rianka: Yes, and that’s truly important.

Hannah: Yeah, and so it’s not about, “Hey, what do you want to do today?” It’s like, “No, I need this done.”

Rianka: Yeah, this is what needs to get done. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we can have a whole podcast about that. I mean, podcast episode about what it means to be a delegator, like true delegation versus abdication, and I think the best business owners, the best planners, the best leaders learn the craft of delegation versus abdication, and I think that you have honed in on that skill of true delegation.

Hannah: Yep. Well, trying to. My thing is like I refuse, there’s so many bad business owners. I refuse to be that bad business owner. I will own up to where I’m being a bad business owner and make what I need to do like change, because it matters. That’s the thing, it matters that you’re a good business owner.

Rianka: I mean, it matters, and I think just because you’re a business owner, just because you’re the lead financial planner or senior financial planner you don’t know everything as far as just like how to train, and so for the folks that are on my team, so I have kind of like two teams, my YGC team with my RIA, with my financial planning, and then my 2050 Trailblazers team, and I explain to both of my teams I’m like, “I’m only as good to you as a trainer, as a leader as you tell me. So if there are any blind spots that you see that I have, I give you full permission to let me know, because if you don’t let me know, I can’t change.” I think that’s why I have a rockstar team and why I can do what I do.

Hannah: We did a podcast with Cheryl Holland at the beginning of the year, and they have these like 360-evaluations, and like I was shocked. She said, I can’t remember if it’s her whole team, but like people every 18 months evaluate her and her leadership team anonymously, so they can say whatever they want.

Rianka: Wow.

Hannah: I know, and I was like, “Whoa, that’s just mind-blowing to me.” I would be scared. I would be scared if I was in a position, and I kind of made that comment to her, and she was just like, “You know, if I’m going to run a world-class business, I have to be on my A-game, and the only way I can be on my A-game is if people actually give me real feedback.” And I was like, “Dang. Okay.”

Rianka: That is so true.

Hannah: “Yes, ma’am.” Like, “I’m going to be like you.” Flipping gears back to the E-Myth, I just reread it like three months ago, and so what was so cool to me was what I picked up the first time, I picked up completely different aspects of it the second time, and what was really exciting to me was there was part, like the last part of the book I read and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t quite understand what he’s saying. I can’t wait for a couple years to come back and read this again and I bet understand it in a different light.”

Rianka: Wow.

Hannah: So it was really exciting to me to be like, “Oh, there’s just a natural progression that happens.”

Rianka: Yes.

Hannah: One other big business kind of aha moment I had, I think it was last year. I lose track of time now, but the book Traction is another great one. It’s the EOS system, Entrepreneur Operating System.

Rianka: Oh, Traction. That’s what the book is called. Oh, I haven’t heard of that one.

Hannah: Yeah. No, this is definitely one that’s been a game-changer for me. Great book. Everybody who wants to be a business owner should do it. If you’re even at a firm and you’re managing people or you need to manage up, it’s a great book to read. But one of the things that they talked about in the book was quarterly rocks. So you have a one-page business plan and then you put quarterly rocks, and so I’m the type who just, I’m naturally just, I just go. I never feel like I’m doing enough, right? That’s always been one of my things where it’s like, “Oh, you bought these businesses,” and I’m like, “Yeah, but you know what I haven’t done?”

Rianka: Right. We don’t take time to stop and smell the roses as the saying goes. I’m with you there, girlfriend.

Hannah: But the Traction, so you write out a one-page business plan, and then you do quarterly goals. Okay, let’s be honest. My husband is editing this, so he’ll call me on this if I’m not telling truth. I’m not the best at implementing all of it. Maybe hopefully I’ll grow into that soon, but just the idea of quarterly goals has been really powerful for me. So like before every quarter, and not every quarter, like now … I’m sure we’ll get to this in a little bit, in a different phase of life right now, but before every quarter I’d say, “Okay, what’s going to make this quarter successful?” And I would write it down, and so I would get in these points where I was just so frustrated, like, “Why can’t we move this faster? Why isn’t this happening?” Just putting all this pressure on myself, and I was like, “Okay, no. You said January 1st this would be a successful quarter if these four things got done, and you know what? Three and a half are done, so chill out.”

Rianka: Right. Take a chill pill as my mom would say.

Hannah: Yep. So that’s been a good like balancing. We just put such unrealistic expectations on ourselves. I’m really chatty. We have a friend…

Rianka: You have a lot to say.

Hannah: I do.

Rianka: You have a lot to share. This is, what, the 100th episode of You’re a Financial Planner … Now What?

Hannah: Yes.

Rianka: So, I mean, you-

Hannah: I’ve been sitting on my hands.

Rianka: You’ve been sitting on your hands for 99 episodes. I want everything this episode, girlfriend. Everything.

Hannah: Well, I had this friend who, he did coaching with, Ed Jacobson, and so he does all of this appreciative inquiry. He’s like this psychologist. It wouldn’t be a good idea if you’re like high-strung and like trying to like rain blot through a lot of, like he’ll calm me down quickly if you know him. Great, great stuff, but my friend went to him with all of this like yearlong to-do list, and Ed’s comment to him was, “That sounds like a lifetime achievement. What you’re trying to do sounds like something that most people do in their lifetime, and you’re trying to do it in a year.”

Rianka: Wow.

Hannah: And I was like, “Wow. Okay.” So like a lot of stuff now I’m like, “Okay, is this a lifetime goal, or is this … Do I have proper expectations of myself?” Too often I’m trying to get a lifetime goal done in six months.

Rianka: Wow. That’s a great perspective because, I mean, you have achieved a lot in your, it’s been, what, a decade that you’ve been a financial planner? Less than a decade?

Hannah: Yeah. I graduated December 2018 from college, so, yeah, so-

Rianka: ’08 or 2018?

Hannah: ’08, yeah. Sorry. 2008.

Rianka: 2008. So it has been a decade, and so with that, I mean, we’re friends and I follow you and cheering you on, and so I know about Investment News 40 under 40 and the Dallas Young Guns awards, and so you’ve done a lot that most people don’t do within the first 10 years of their career, and so where do you think this ambition comes from?

Hannah: Money has never been my motivator. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. It’s probably part of my money scripts of growing up without money, but it was like this idea of like, “I want to do what I’m passionate about. I want to solve big problems.” I don’t know how to do small things. Loading the dishwasher at home, that feels like a mountain sometimes, but big problems, that’s what I want to solve. I think really been my motivation has been, and again it’s different on various things, but it’s: How can I positively affect other people? Very millennial side of me I guess if you would.

Rianka: I’m with it. I always say that we’re the generation that cares too much, but I think that’s a good quality.

Hannah: Yep. We did the podcast and I’m being pretty positive right now, my story, but when I’m feeling a little cynical, it’s: Why did I do it? Because I’ll be damned if somebody else has to go through what I did when I started. It’s like, “No, this stops.” There were so few resources out there when I started, and we can talk about the podcast story more, but it started in my local FPA, so like they were already doing some of this, but I was just like, “No, this is unacceptable. This isn’t about money. This isn’t about fame.” I had no idea what would be happening today would happen, but it was like, “If I can help one other person, if I can help 10 other people, that’s why I’m doing this,” and it was more that’s the motivation of it.

Hannah: With my financial planning clients, so like my big thing, you know, we’re doing the one-page business plan, like, “What’s the one thing?” I want to change the way people think and talk about money. So when my clients come in, I want this to be a transformational experience for them. I want them to come in and looking for financial advice and I want them to think and talk about money differently. I want the power of money to work for them instead of always holding them back, and that’s my motivation. Charlie and I were talking and it was if I retired tomorrow, I think I’d still want to do exactly what I’m doing today.

Rianka: Yeah, and that’s pretty powerful right there because I think what you do and I see this and everyone else in the profession sees this that knows Hannah Moore is that you care and that you’re very passionate about the profession, and so on top of running your firm, on top of everything that you’re doing, on top of some more exciting news that we’ll share, we’re holding the listeners hostage to hear this big, exciting news, but on top of everything you decided to launch a podcast, You’re a Financial Planner … Now What?, so that you can help other financial planners. It’s just like … wow.

Hannah: Yeah. So my local chapter, I have to give so much credit to them. Patrick Dougherty and Trudy Turner started this, they started You’re a Financial Planner … Now What? through my local FPA chapter, so Dallas-Fort Worth. They would have the seminar series in the evening, and that’s … I can’t even describe it. It felt like a lifeline. It felt like, you know, I was learning how to do Morningstar reports, I was learning how to do meetings with clients, I was learning the paperwork, the technical part of our job, but I wasn’t learning about financial planning and the power of financial planning, and so I went to the seminar series for it was two or three years, and it was just like if I couldn’t attend one of those, it was like soul-crushing, because it was just like I just had to be around people who were seeing this thing that I was seeing, and that was the only, I mean, that, and my local chapter as well. Those were the places where I could go for it.

Hannah: After I made the switch from broker-dealer to the RIA, that’s a huge lifestyle change going from 250,-

Rianka: Big, yeah.

Hannah: … 300 clients to 18.

Rianka: One, eight. One, eight.

Hannah: One, eight. So the crazy part is throwing away the year that I moved, my revenue stayed the same.

Rianka: What?

Hannah: Yeah. So follow the money, people. Follow the money. I had so much time on my hands. So after I moved I took six months where I just didn’t do anything. I was like, “Okay, Hannah, all pressure off. You maintain 18 client relationships. You do not look for business. You do not market. You do not put pressure on yourself to do anything that you normally do, and your job is just to chill out,” because I realized I had never slowed down since I started working when I was like 13 or 14 or 12 or something when I started a paper route, you know? And not that I was taking a break from work, but 18 clients usually don’t fill up 40 hours, if you do it right.

Hannah: So when Patrick and Trudy retired if you would from doing that, she asked if I would take it over, and so Lynn McIntire, who’s also local, and I started taking those over, and Charlie, his background was media, and I just kept telling him, I’d come home from the seminar series and I’d be like, “This is just the most amazing content in the entire world. Why aren’t there more people showing up? What the heck is wrong?” He was just like, I mean, he lives and breathes media. He was like, “Well, why don’t you just put some microphones on them and throw it on the Internet and just see what happens?” That’s how it got started is we started just throwing a microphone on me and Lynn, and I was like, “You know what? I have some really interesting people I know, and I’d like to get an hour of their time, so let me just interview them.”

Hannah: All the technical side, he just works his magic, like that is his area. So that’s kind of how it got started, and I had the time to do it. That’s the thing is that that was really coming out of I have this new business, not new business, it was still Guiding Wealth, but really radically transformed my business, and I had time to commit to it, and so I just did it.

Rianka: Yeah, and so I say I’m all about this there’s two sides to every coin. The gift and the curse about being an entrepreneur is that, I mean, we get to use our creative side whereas, and I always say this about myself, like I’m a bird that cannot be caged. I will die, like internally die, if you try to put a box around me or just slap a title. Don’t hold me hostage to my title. I’m more than a financial planner, kind of like You’re a Financial Planner … Now What? as far as this podcast goes. We have so much to give to the profession, and you are just a shining example of just that. You’re a financial planner, and then you started going to these meetings and seeing like, “Wow, people need to listen to this who are outside of this room, but what is a way for us to get it to them?” From, you know, your words, from your lips to our ears, and here birthed You’re a Financial Planner … Now What? podcast.

Hannah: Well, and my secret weapon is Charlie.

Rianka: Yes.

Hannah: So that’s my unfair advantage, my unfair competitive advantage.

Rianka: Charlie. So for those who do not know, and, Charlie, you cannot edit this out, okay? So Charlie is the wonderful husband of Hannah, and Charlie Moore is just a fantastic entrepreneur as well who helps out with this podcast, also helps out with 2050 Trailblazers as far as the editing goes, and just a fantastic person overall. I actually had another question about that too, because besides Charlie being an awesome guy like … You know how you have this expectation of someone? It’s like, “Oh, okay.” It’s just like, “Oh,” and then you meet them and you hope they hold up to the expectation? That was Charlie. I’m like, “Charlie is so cool. I want to hang with Charlie, too.”

Hannah: Oh, he’s so much like cooler than I am.

Rianka: You’re cool, Hannah, and Charlie is cool, too. Yeah. So what is it like having two entrepreneurs in one household? How is that … Maybe there’s some financial planners out there where their spouse or their significant other is just like, “Hey, you’re having all the fun being an entrepreneur. I want to do it, too.” How did you two manage to make this work?

Hannah: Okay, so here’s a crazy story. So we started dating like 10 or 11 years ago. So we started dating. We’re like a month dating, and he’s just like very like, “You know, my dream is to one day own a business with my wife,” and I looked at him. I’m like, “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard come out of anybody’s mouth. Are you joking? Are you not in touch with the real world? Do you not understand how relationships work? Do you not understand like … “

Rianka: Oh, my goodness.

Hannah: And so he’s always kind of hung onto this, that like that’s his dream is to own a business with his wife, and I’m like, “No. Like no.” So at that point, I think I had already changed my major, but I had no idea what my career was going to be. I’m like, “This is just insane.” So we always, yeah. Anyway, so then I ended up buying a business, like getting in the position where I was like, “Oh, I’m going to own this business,” and then I buy this business and I own this business and I’m like … and he was smart enough. He’s usually a step or two ahead of me on some of these things, even if I don’t want to admit it. He was smart enough not to say too much, but as we, I bought this business, and when I really shifted gears from so many clients to really doing like deep financial planning work with my clients, I was like, “Okay.”

Hannah: So this creative side was me coming out. I’m like, “So what would it look like for a financial planner to have a media arm?” I still don’t know. That’s the thing, I don’t know. We’re still figuring this out, and I was like, “Okay. Okay, like maybe that could work.” Then we started looking at like, “What do we want our lives to be like? What’s our lifestyle?” We want to someday have kids. How do we manage that? How do all these pieces fit together? He was signed up 11 years ago. It took me a lot longer. And I was like, “Okay, maybe this could work.” So once the business, I felt comfortable with where we were with the business, it was just like, “Why not? Why not just give it a go and see what happens?”

Hannah: At that point we had the podcast going, so he was going to quit and work on that, and that, you know, one podcast isn’t a full-time job, and so we were like, “Okay. Well, we’re going to … ” Yeah, really we were going to start exploring some different options.

Rianka: Other opportunities.

Hannah: Other opportunities.

Rianka: Yeah.

Hannah: And so we were looking at direct-to-consumer. That’s definitely a place we want to go. We’ve held on to that for quite a while. It’s great talking to other advisers and I love, like you’re my people, but what could I do if I went and talked to consumers? And so, I don’t know, we’ve just been playing around with these ideas, and so we were going to really push pedal to the metal last year on that, and then other opportunities came up.

Rianka: Yeah. So let’s talk about those opportunities. So from what I understand, You’re a Financial Planner … Now What? is under the umbrella of the Financial Planning Association, FPA.

Hannah: Yes. So it started out under FPA, and it’s like still there. So it’s really kind of a cool story. So at this point we had been doing the podcast, this was like beginning, middle of last year. So we’re doing this podcast, and it’s really been like … I don’t know how to say. My gift to the profession, my like … There was no expectation. There were no strings attached. It was just like, “Somebody needs to be doing this, so I’m going to do it.”

Rianka: I think this is why we get along, Hannah, is because we’re almost the same person. We’re like, you know, ebony and ivory of … because it’s just like I’m such the same way as far as just like I can’t wait for someone else to do something. I’m just going to do it, because if I do it, I know I’m going to do it right, or at least have a team around me that’s going to help me do it and execute really, really well.

Hannah: So what’s so cool about the podcast and what has been so just enriching to my life is I’ve had all these new planners reach out to me. So I was getting two to three phone calls a week from people who were listening to the podcast, and they were like, “Hey, I’m a new planner. Help.” It was a really cool thing, and Charlie and I, we would just, like every week we were like, “Gosh, I just wish we could start a Facebook group and have all these people jump in and join it,” and we’re like, “But we can’t do that alone. We can’t do this alone. There’s no endgame here for us. This could be a full-time business. This isn’t … ” I still want to be direct to consumers. I’m an adviser at heart. There are consultants and people who go directly to advisers and make a ton of money and all that, and that’s great, love it, but that’s not who I am. We did this for the profession. I don’t know.

Hannah: We keep saying that or like, “If only we could do this for this group of people.” I had a coaching call with one of my long-time mentors who I met at gathering, and her feedback to me was, “This doesn’t fit in. You have to let it go.” It was like a grieving process.

Rianka: What doesn’t fit in? What? What? The podcast?

Hannah: Oh just the podcast, yeah.

Rianka: This podcast?

Hannah: This podcast, because it was … This is for new planners. I’m getting older. I recognize, and I hate, like one of the things, not to give spoilers, or, hey, anybody interested? That could be another way of pushing this.

Rianka: I was just going to say, are you looking for someone to potentially take over and like host this You’re a Financial Planner … Now What?

Hannah: Yeah. Do like guess podcasting or get a different lineup. I mean, one of the things I’m so aware of is we talked about like your perspective. This, everything is through the filter of Hannah Moore. I hope it’s a good filter, I like to think it is, but I could be foolish. There’s so much more to the world that I can’t see because I’m just one person. So I’ve always been really aware of like this podcast is always going to be limited because it’s just me. So, yeah, anyway. Getting a little soap box there.

Rianka: That’s very … No, I mean, that’s very selfless of you, because you could-

Hannah: Well, none of this is about me. This is about the profession. This is: How do we move our profession forward? And we cannot move our profession forward unless new planners figure out how to operate in this new profession, and that’s what this is all about. That’s what I go back to, like I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t matter professionally. Yeah, so I get this advice from my mentor who was like, “You need to shut it down,” and it was just one of those, like it was, I was so sad and I was just like, “But that’s the right thing for us to do.” I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m 31 right now, and I’m still young. I’m still young.

Rianka: But your first career was, is, financial planning, so you have 10 years under your belt.

Hannah: Yeah. That’s my day job.

Rianka: Yeah. You have 10 years under your belt.

Hannah: And like nobody wants, I mean, what’s the plan? What’s the endgame? I’m going to be 40 and still doing this? I’m going to be 50? I mean, there’s hard decisions sometimes. Like what’s the purpose? And so I was really just like, “You know what? This is just my gift to the profession, and if we shut it down, we shut it down, and we’ll pay the hosting fees indefinitely so it’ll always be up for new planners to go listen to.” So, anyway. That was kind of where I was at, and so we gave it a June 30th deadline of saying, “If something doesn’t change, this is it,” and we had some sponsors like, we had some people reach out to us and say, “Hey, would you want to partner up with us on this or that product or whatever?” And it always just felt wrong, because our motivation, like this was about the profession. This isn’t about selling a product. This isn’t about a business model. This is not about one specific career path. I don’t think everybody should own their own firm.

Rianka: No.

Hannah: I don’t think everybody … like, right?

Rianka: No.

Hannah: It was really this like pure this is about the profession. I’m selling out if I go with these other sponsors. I’m selling out if I try just to make everybody an entrepreneur when they’re not an entrepreneur. I couldn’t do it, and so anyway. A connection was made with the national FPA, and they were like, “Okay, so let’s not … Can you just not shut down the podcast right now?” It worked out right on the timeline of June 30th. It was very, very soon after Charlie and I were in Denver talking to them about what would a partnership look like, and one of the things that I was just so passionate about was this isn’t about the status quo. Again, I only do big things.

Rianka: Right. Go big or go home, right? You’re from Texas.

Hannah: Right. So it was if we’re going to do this, these planners need a place to meet. There’s no place for them to meet online right now. Nothing is about true financial planning, so they really opened the door and they said, “Hey, what would you do for new planners?” There’s already a lot that they’re doing. NexGen is already doing a lot of really, really great work, and it was so cool because I had talked to so many of these young planners. I was like, “I know these, these are my people. These are the people that like, like I know them. Like I know their stories. I know what to do to serve them.”

Hannah: It’s been such a cool partnership. I always say FPA, they had the same purity about them because they’re a nonprofit. They’re our membership organization, so they’re like, they’re in the same like IRS category as a nonprofit, but they’re the only place where new planners, or any planner for that matter, can go where it’s all about financial planning. The end goal is just financial planning. So it’s not, I love all these sponsors and vendors and I use them and all of that, but it’s all financial planning is a means to an end. Financial planning is a means to a business model. Financial planning is never just the end, except with the FPA, and I could get behind that. I could say, “FPA,” like I can tell you ever step of the way how they’ve impacted my career, and so to me it was just like, “Oh my god, this is not just the perfect, this is the only fit I would have ever done to really partner up with them.”

Hannah: They were so respectful of like, “You’ve been doing this podcast. We don’t want to take it from you.” And I was like, “No, this is it. We’re sold.” We actually approached them and were like, “Hey, can we just fold this whole podcast under your umbrella? Because it needs to be bigger than me.” That’s the thing, it has to be bigger than me. And what happens when somebody graduates from You’re a Financial Planner … Now What? There’s experienced planners who aren’t the market of this podcast. What happens hopefully when all the people who are listening to right now are like, “Hey, this was great, this helped me a lot, and I’m just in a different place now”? Where do they go? And to me it was so cool because the FPA can pick, they have that whole career arc. That’s their job is to help us be the best financial planners that we can be, so it just was this like the skies parted, the stars aligned, and it just … I don’t know. It was meant to be. I don’t have another way of saying that.

Rianka: I’m a true believer of when you put it out there in the universe, the universe conspires with you, not against you, and I think this is just one of those moments where you just have to sometimes walk by faith and not by sight and just truly trust the process. I mean, you’ve had, I mean, such an awesome career thus far. You started off with a broker-dealer. You purchased a firm. You’ve made some hires within your practice, which we haven’t even discussed. Maybe there will be a part two to this about what that process looked like, and now you have a podcast. You’ve transitioned that a little bit into FPA, and now you’re about to start another new chapter. You’re about to add another title to your name. Can you do us the honors of telling us what that is?

Hannah: Gosh, this is like so uncomfortable. No, so we’re having a baby. We’re due August 10th.

Rianka: Yay.

Hannah: Yes.

Rianka: Congratulations, Hannah. And I would like to say, I can hold a secret because I was probably one of the first ones-

Hannah: You were, yeah.

Rianka: Yeah. And I held the secret. Oh my gosh, I’m so excited for you guys. I am so excited.

Hannah: Thank you. No, it’s really exciting. It feels very surreal. Like, “Is this for real?” And I can feel a kicking now, so I’m like, “Okay, so like I really-

Rianka: What?

Hannah: ” … do think there’s something inside of me,” but it’s … I don’t think I’ve fully processed everything, but, yeah, here I am. So six months pregnant right now.

Rianka: It’s six months, and you’re looking good just FYI. I mean-

Hannah: Thank you.

Rianka: I saw you a couple weeks ago, and I was just like, “Wow, you are just glowing.” Everyone has a different experience with pregnancy, but you are definitely growing, so. Not growing, glowing.

Hannah: Doing both.

Rianka: I mean, you’re growing, too. Oh, my gosh. And so with that so many questions come to mind. It’s like you want to celebrate, get excited, start nesting or nesting your house, whatever it’s called. I don’t have any children yet, so I’m not sure of the official term so excuse me moms out there if I’m using the wrong terminology, but it’s something that we’ve talked about offline, which I’m pretty sure there’s going to be some other planners who are asking the question, too. It’s just like, “All right, well, I’m excited that this baby is coming. What about my business?”

Hannah: Oh, my gosh. Yeah, I’ve been saying I’ve been nesting in my business more so than in my home.

Rianka: Let’s talk about that.

Hannah: Gosh, there’s so much, and there’s so much I don’t know. So I feel like giving advice, I’m really like in the thick of it right now, so everything with a grain of salt. But I was, man, we’ve been talking about this for a while and that was part of why Charlie quit his job and worked with me was we will likely use some form of childcare, but I wanted it to be my choice. That was a really big deal for me was my mom was a stay-at-home mom, and I’m clearly not going to be able to do that. I always said that mom guilt is going to be my big thing, but Charlie quit his job, so now we’re looking at flexibility on: What does it look like with two entrepreneurs working from home? How do you balance this? You know? How do you do this?

Hannah: It’s just so cool because it feels like we’re not being trapped in a corner. That’s what’s so great. I’m a planner by nature. I mean, that’s my field, and so with my clients … Like, okay. So all of y’all listening to this, I’m going to tell you I always had emergencies back when I was at the broker-dealer. People would call and they would be panicked, “I need money tomorrow.” That doesn’t happen anymore because we plan for emergencies, and so from a business standpoint, I’m in such a better position. So I was like terrified to start telling my clients that I’m pregnant because I’m like, “Well, what does this mean? I’m their adviser.” I’m like, “Okay, well, I’m going to be available by phone. I’m not going to meet in person for six weeks, but if you need something, I can meet with you.” Whatever, having all these qualifications on it.

Hannah: My clients are so thrilled for me. It’s so touching. They just can hardly contain their excitement. I’ve had like, this one woman, oh, I adore her. She like almost fell out of her chair she was so excited. What’s been cool is I have, several of my clients have made a comments on, you know, that, “You kind of have the perfect job for this, to have a kid, don’t you?” And I’m like, “Yeah, I kind of do.” I don’t know how I could have scripted this out better, if that makes sense. I was really, really fearful about it before I got pregnant, and then when I found out I was pregnant, it was more like, “Okay, now it’s business time. I’m going to figure this out, and I’m going to solve this problem.”

Hannah: There’s this, a lot of things I read about, you know, how do we help our clients navigate change and all of that, all the unexpected things in life? They talk about resiliency, and so I look at all of the hard parts of my career and I’m like, “That’s built resiliency in me.” So this, I’m just like, “You know what? It’s going to be challenging, but I know I got this.”

Rianka: Yeah. I have no doubt, Hannah. I have no doubt.

Hannah: I say this now.

Rianka: Well, I mean, you have a track record of resiliency, so I think this is just going to … If anything, what I’ve seen with the new moms is it makes you so much more efficient because it’s like, “All right. Well, I have this window of time. I just want to work for six hours, and the rest of the time is for my family.” The things that used to take 10 hours in a day to get done is now taking six, and it’s just like, “Wow. Where was all that time before?” is the feedback that I’m getting, because I’m asking a ton of questions. My husband, Reggie, and I, we’re talking about it, and I’m scared out of my mind, just like you probably were when you and Charlie started first having the discussion, but it’s all going to work out.

Hannah: Yeah, it’s just such a cool thing. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, so I’ve always … worried isn’t the right term, but it’s always been like, “I’m going to want to be a stay-at-home mom.” And I think I’m definitely like pulled that way. I think that’s the most amazing thing if that’s what you want to do and are able to do it. I absolutely love that, and maybe a little part of me is jealous, but I just … The day after I found out I was pregnant, I just remember having this sense of like, “I don’t want my daughter to say, ‘My mom had a great career until I was born.'”

Hannah: And, again, that’s my story, so I want to be so sensitive. If that is not your story, I will be your biggest cheerleader on staying home. Call me up, I’ll help make a financial plan to make this happen for you. Like there’s no … But I was really surprised. I guess the moral of that story is I thought I was going to respond one way, and I found that I didn’t respond that way, and so that’s been surprising is just seeing how I’ve been responding internally, because it was different. It’s different than what I thought. I was legitimately thought that I’d want to sell my business and stay at home, and now that thought is just like, I can’t even stomach that thought. That’s not in the world of possibilities right now, so I guess some of it you just have to go through it. That’s what I’m telling myself.

Rianka: Yeah. Yeah. And you have definitely a big support group here, including myself, that’s here to kind of like be a thought partner with you. I mean, this is something new, and as much support that I can lend to you I would love to.

Hannah: Well, thank you, and so much of it like we have the Internet now. We’re like two and a half months ahead of our podcast schedule right now, so the podcast is still going to go on every week, even though I’m not going to be here. That’s what’s so cool is we’re able to put in the work, and with my clients I’m like, “Okay, so the baby is due in August, so I want to meet with you again one time before. Would you like to meet in July or would you like to meet in September, October?” They just get to pick and-

Rianka: And they’re okay with it.

Hannah: They’re totally fine with it. Yeah. They’re just so excited, and so it’s just like, “Okay, so we’re just going to line this up and get this moving.”

Rianka: And prepare for it. I think we make these assumptions in our heads, especially for those who own businesses, about what our clients may think or what they may do. I remember, this is definitely not on the same playing field as having a baby, but I went out of the country last year for two and a half weeks. This was the longest I’ve ever taken off since I started my business almost three years ago. Two weeks to go to Santiago, Chile, and I thought my clients were going to fire me, and they said, “Rianka, if you need email me one time while you’re out there, we’re going to have some problems.” I’m like, “What? You actually want me to have a break?” So weird.

Hannah: If I help my clients live their best life and I’m not living my best life, that doesn’t make sense.

Rianka: Yeah, you just hit it. You hit the nail on the head, Hannah. Yeah.

Hannah: I wouldn’t go to a financial planner who wasn’t living their best life. You have to live it out.

Rianka: Questionable. Questionable.

Hannah: And there are seasons, and sometimes we have it together and sometimes we don’t, and a lot of times we don’t.

Rianka: So for any new or expecting moms out there, what are some of the things that you have learned over the past couple of months, anything that you want to share with them?

Hannah: Oh, gosh. I don’t know. I feel like I’m such a newbie. To me I guess what I’ve learned is I have to just give it time and let it settle with me first, and that’s just, again, how I process things. We didn’t tell anybody until, I mean, longer than they say you should wait, because I had to process it myself, and so it’s, I think we’re all just so different. Yeah, that’s okay. That’s the great thing. I looked at the Enneagram, and one of the things that they had on there, you know, your Enneagram type or whatever and, because I always thought of-

Rianka: What is that? Okay, I’m showing my ignorance right now. Like what’s the Enneagram?

Hannah: Enneagram, it’s like this personality profile thing. It’s like super in depth. It’s actually really cool if you look at it. It’s like the Myers-Briggs on steroids. It’s been around for like hundreds and hundreds of years.

Rianka: Oh, okay.

Hannah: So I’m probably not giving it complete credit, but it really talks to like: What is your motivation behind things? It really goes deep. They talk about like the seven deadly sins, that came out of the Enneagram.

Rianka: Oh, wow.

Hannah: Yeah, like it’s like deep stuff. It’s really rooted in deep stuff. But one of the things that I realized after reading this book about it was I always was like, “The ideal mom is what my mom was,” right? She was amazing. I love my mom, but I’m a different person than my mom, and the best thing that I can do is offer, like we were talking about offering your full self to your clients, and I’m coming to terms with I’m going to be different than my mom. I’m going to be different than most moms out there just because of our situation, and we’re probably going to make choices that are different, but that’s okay. The thing that my daughter needs is for me to show up just the way I am, just like we’re supposed to show up for our clients that way, fully there. And so I don’t know, it was just this really big aha moment where they … Everybody else probably gets that, but it just takes me a while sometimes.

Rianka: No. Yeah, yeah. And you said daughter, so you’re having a baby girl.

Hannah: Yes, a baby girl.

Rianka: A baby girl, whose name is going nameless until-

Hannah: It’s a secret. Until August.

Rianka: Until August. Until August 10th when she is set to come out and be introduced to the world.

Hannah: Hopefully won’t be longer than that.

Rianka: Yeah. Sometimes babies make their own decisions. They’re like, “You know what? I’ve had it. I’m ready to make my appearance.”

Hannah: Oh, my gosh, and we’re in Texas August. It’ll all be good.

Rianka: Ooh, it’s hot.

Hannah: Yeah.

Rianka: It is hot, but it is … I’m pretty sure Charlie is going to have some ice for you.

Hannah: Oh, yes. But I can’t imagine a better career to be a mom in than with financial planning. Like I just can’t imagine it. That’s the thing that’s so cool, and I wish I could just shout that from a rooftop, and I’m not quite there yet because I’m not actually like, I haven’t had the sleepless nights yet, but I can’t imagine any better career.

Rianka: I think it would be cool if we did maybe like six months in, six months after your daughter is born or like a year and just talk about your experience of because you’re a financial planner and you and Charlie have a new baby girl and what your experience has been. I think that would be a good followup.

Hannah: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a whole new chapter in life. It’s, yeah.

Rianka: So, I mean, we’ve talked about a ton today, and I’m pretty sure … We’ve already said a part two and potentially a part three, but what I want to ask you and what I want to leave the listeners with is a conversation that we always have with each other, but now I want you to share with everyone, the listeners, is the question of, you know, what is our responsibility to our profession?

Hannah: You know, I’ve been thinking about this so much, and I think people are going to step into different roles. So I’m going to say what I’m going to say, but I just want to put the disclaimer on there that you give what you can, and not everybody is going to have their own business, not everybody can give the time that I’ve given, not everybody can do that. Bringing it full circle back to Dick, we did a podcast interview. So he wrote the paper, To Think Like a CFP, transformational, of what if financial planning was a profession. That’s what it’s all about, and in the paper he quotes a movie. The movie is terrible. We went and watched the movie because we’re like, “We want to see where this quote came from.”

Hannah: So in Dick Wagner, in his paper, and we have this like incredible audio of him like less than a month and a half before he died. This was right after Charlie quit his job, so I’m so thankful for that, and Charlie really, he has a really good editor’s eye and like storytelling eye, and so I was like, “How do we do this podcast, like how do we take a legend like Dick Wagner and do this justice?” We looked at his To Think Like a CFP, and so we actually had him read this, and so we did a video, or Charlie did a video I should be clear, of-

Rianka: Thanks, Charlie.

Hannah: He edited it together. Oh, it is like, every new planner needs to watch it. It’s so powerful, but we had Dick read a line from his paper, and the setup is it’s from this movie, and it’s all of these law students who are coming in and these law students are first day of law school and this professor is coming in. Reading the first part, the students file past the ivory into the oak and dust of the ancient classroom. On this first day of class, they anticipate their initial steps on a professional journey that will lift in the pinnacle of prestige, power, and authority. So it’s all of this, and the professor, his words, and I have this in Dick’s voice, and I just hear it all the time, and so I’m going to read it.

Hannah: It says, “Ladies and gentlemen, you’re embarking upon a journey of epic proportions. It will require all that you have to give and all that you are. You come here with a brain full of mush, and if you survive, you will leave thinking like a CFP.”

Hannah: And I think about this profession and I think about: What is my responsibility? And, again, I don’t want to put this on everybody, but if we’re really going to make this a profession, it could require all that we have to give and all that we are. We have to give everything we can, and we have to give everything of who we are, every ounce of creative energy, every ounce of fight sometimes, every ounce of compassion. It will require all that you have to give and all that you are, and so we’re a place in history where we have such a profound responsibility. There’s just such a small fraction of Americans who get what financial planning is. We can quite literally change the world if we together, and it can’t be just me, it can’t just be new planners, it can’t just be old planners. If we as a profession say, “This is the line in the sand, it’s about financial planning,” we can quite literally change the world, and I think that is just enormous. And so what’s our responsibility? I think it’s to give it everything we have.

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In this week’s unique episode of #YAFPNW, Hannah Moore, CFP® steps into the hot seat and is interviewed by the one and only Rianka Dorsainvil, CFP®. Tune in to hear Hannah’s story, and to learn how she came to be so incredibly passionate about the fina... Rianka Dorsainvil, CFP®! Hannah is incredibly passionate about the financial planning profession. In this exclusive interview, Hannah is talking about her struggles early on in her career, how she discovered the difference between financial advice and financial planning, and how she found her tribe within the financial planning profession.
Hannah’s career launched in an incredibly unique way. She bought a financial planning practice when she was 26 years old, and was effectively thrown into the deep end of the financial planning world. She learned in the most hands-on way possible, and she quickly realized that isolation as a young planner was not only detrimental to her career, but to her clients.
When Hannah attended her first FPA NexGen Gathering, she quickly realized she had found her people. She was sitting next to pioneers of the profession, and new planners alike – and they were all there for one reason: to spread the gospel of financial planning and to focus on making themselves into the best planners they could be. This was game changing for Hannah, and inspired her involvement in the financial planning profession with the #YAFPNW podcast and, ultimately, the launch of the FPA Activate community.
 

 
What You’ll Learn:

What makes an exceptional planner
How to “show up” in the financial planning profession
How to find your people in this profession
Where to connect with other planners
How to power through insecurities when you’re a new planner
Revelations Hannah has had as a planner, entrepreneur, and business owner
How you can combine your creative side with a career in financial planning

 
 
The 2050 TrailBlazers Podcast
NexGen Gathering
FPA Activate on Facebook
 
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Hannah Moore clean 1:15:31
Getting Honest About Community Within Our Profession http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-getting-honest-about-community-within-our-profession/ Tue, 05 Jun 2018 20:00:57 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11295 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-getting-honest-about-community-within-our-profession/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-getting-honest-about-community-within-our-profession/feed/ 0 Alex is a great example of what it means to step outside of your comfort zone, get involved and see the benefits of being involved within the financial planning profession. From networking, mentors, peers and finding job opportunities, Alexandria has discovered new opportunities for herself and better ways to serve clients. Alexandria Cole is three years in the profession and shares what it’s like to be “in the middle” of her career story. While working at an insurance company, Alexandria attended a financial planning mixer and discovered the world of financial planning and what it had to offer. She shares her journey to find what she’s been looking for – how to help clients in a meaningful way. Alex is a great example of what it means to step outside of your comfort zone, get involved and see the benefits of being involved within the financial planning profession. From networking, mentors, peers and finding job opportunities, Alexandria has discovered new opportunities for herself and better ways to serve clients.

Many of the career stories you hear share the beginning, end and skip the middle, but Alexandria shares where she is at in her career story – the middle. She is in a paraplanning role and shares her journey in deciding if she wants to be a lead planner and how she would design her idea role, if given the opportunity.

Alexandria understands something critical about the financial planning profession: our strength lies in our community. The passion and the willingness to support each other is infectious and Alexandria found this to continue to hold true when she failed her first attempt at the CFP Exam. Instead of judgment and embarrassment, she found a community that encouraged he, is her champion and wants her to be successful. Through community, Alexandria found her passion for financial planning.

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You still have something to provide, even if you can only go to local chapter meetings every other month. @coleae2015 on #YAFPNW

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What You’ll Learn:

  • The importance of the financial planning community and how you can get involved
  • How one person can make a difference in the financial planning profession
  • Ways you can get involved as an individual – even if you don’t want to go so far as to launch your own NexGen chapter
  • How to continue to push forward with purpose if you fail the CFP® exam the first time
  • How to decide what career path you want to take in financial planning
  • How to get involved with NexGen
  • That it’s okay to forge your own path

 

Show Transcript

Ep101 Transcript


Hannah: Well, thanks so much for joining us, Alexandria.

Alexandria: Thank you.

Hannah: I feel like I’ve known you forever, even though I know that’s not true. You’ve been in the industry about three years, but I’ve seen you in quite a few places. So I’ve seen you, you know, I’m involved with NexGen, so you’re running the Northern California NexGen program. I’ve seen you at NexGen Gathering. I’ve seen you two years at FPA Retreat. Is that right?

Alexandria: Yeah, yes! Two years in a row.

Hannah: So you’ve been so involved in the profession, getting involved with the FPA and with other financial planners. Did you know to do that when you first started in or how did you get introduced to that?

Alexandria: So it’s kind of interesting. I feel like I stumbled upon FPA in a very weird way. I was in the insurance business out of college. They were recruiting students to become agents and I thought that that would be a way to get my foot into the door, and so I ended up at an insurance company and I thought that that was financial planning or being in the industry, so I was like, wow, I got my job right out of college like I said I would. And then I was reading a newspaper, ironically, and I was noticing that the article was about Debbie Gross, which was a past president of our chapter, and it said that she was a part of FPA and I had never heard of it before, so I just Googled it and noticed that they had a mixer coming up for kind of like, not new recruitment, but just getting more people interested in the area. And so I just signed up and it was free. At the time, I was still in college and I saw that you got, like, free drinks and food, and that was still very important to me, so I was like I’m there!

Alexandria: So I ended up going to this mixer and I got there and, at first, it was all older people and I kind of was like “Am I at the right place?” The lady there was, like, “Yeah, you’re here for the mixer?” And I was like “Yeah, my name’s Alexandria.” So I’m walking around, I have this name tag on that says student, and so I’m thinking maybe there’s other students here. And I’m meeting all these financial planners in the area and I haven’t met any of them before, but they’re like “You’re a student? What school do you go to?” And I’m telling them Sac State, but we didn’t have a program back then, so I just was a student in general inquiring about FPA, and so it started with me just going to a mixer and after I left the mixer, I was just so amazed from all the conversations I had with people, and I was like, “So what is financial planning again?” Because I wasn’t sure where I ended up at.

Alexandria: So that’s when I kind of started my research about what it is that I was really in and being at FPA’s mixer and then meeting with people after is what kind of started the journey of what did I stumble upon and what am I currently in at my job at MetLife, was the company at the time, it’s no longer called that, with the Snoopy. It’s MassMutual.

Alexandria: It was just interesting because I thought I was already in the industry, but until I met other financial planners that I go, “Wow, I don’t think I’m doing any of what you’re talking about.” So it kind of was an interesting start that I had to research my way into what financial planning was, even though I had showed up at a mixer.

Hannah: So many questions.

Alexandria: Yeah.

Hannah: Okay, so let’s … Okay, so you just found this mixer on the internet and then showed up, like, can you walk through what that was like? Were people welcoming? I mean that’s a pretty big step for a lot of people to take.

Alexandria: Yeah. So this is kind of, I think, a skill I would call that I have of naturally finding events and attending them.

Hannah: Just do it.

Alexandria: Just doing it and honestly because I’ve noticed that with growth, it comes from putting yourself out there and so I just signed up to go and because it was free, it was even more enticing, but once I got there, I just didn’t know what to expect. So it’s kind of faking it ’til I made it, you know, where I’m asking people, oh, what’s a financial planner and they’re like, oh, you work at MetLife? And I’m like, yeah, I’m a financial planner too, right? And that’s what I’m saying to them, and they’re kind of looking at me, like, oh really? And so that’s when I started hearing terms like CFP and fiduciary, and I’m just like, okay, I’ve never heard of any of this, you know?

Alexandria: And so it just was really interesting to be welcomed into something that I really had no idea what it was I was getting into, but I was being educated on it by just attending a mixer, so it’s like when you have a chapter or a community that’s so open to educating someone no matter what span they’re in, you never know where they’re at in their space where they may leave going home, like, wow, I want to join what they’re doing, even though I thought that was what I was doing.

Alexandria: So, it was really interesting, but it was just very welcoming and I got to learn a lot about the terminology that I didn’t know before, because from what I was learning at work, I thought that was the way financial planning was, so it was like redefining what that meant to me and then also what it means to other professionals. And that’s very interesting in itself, that everybody kind of defines it differently.

Hannah: So you go to this mixer and I loved how you said it’s almost redefining what financial planning was to you. What was it like to go back to your job then and see kind of the contrast?

Alexandria: So I’d say probably the first day in the structure of at least working at this company, you know, I had a manager that I reported to. So I went back to next day and was just raving to the manager, “Oh my gosh, have you heard of FPA?” And he’s like, yeah, how did you find out about it? And I just was like, overwhelmed, spilling all this information, “I met this person and this person and they do this and have you heard of this word, ‘fiduciary’?” I’m just like probably scaring the manager at this point, because he’s like “What? Last week, we’re just studying for your insurance licensing and now you have all this new knowledge.” And so it’s like what do we do with it? And at the time at the company I was at, I was the young person there, so everybody was very much already in their business and so my mentoring came from the manager at the time, and so I kind of struggled with how we do things at work and how I was hearing things being said at the mixer.

Alexandria: And then it kind of fast forward to when I went to the next event, which was … Gosh, what was the name of it? The fall expo is what they used to call it. It was like a mini conference that they held here in Sacramento and at that time, that was a bigger scale of financial planners in one room, but I got the information to go back to that event and kind of shared, like, “Hey, this is what I’m dealing with at my firm. Is that what you guys are going through?” And it was kind of like I was teeter-tottering on this fence line of, like, so what I’m doing, is it right or wrong? And I struggled with it at this firm because I learned so much at FPA and then go to work and try to implement it, but it didn’t have the structure to do that. We weren’t charging fees to climb, so I was like, “Okay, well, how do I do that the right way?” And they didn’t have an answer, but it didn’t math in line with what I believed to be correct because I was learning something different at FPA.

Alexandria: I just went back and forth and it kind of built up this frustration, like, “Oh my god, I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t know how to handle it.” So I consider FPA like this equivalent of helping me find what I truly was searching for in helping clients with, because before starting out, it really wasn’t a good fit, but I didn’t know that when I started. FPA wasn’t necessarily sharing with me that, oh, I need to only be going this direction, but it helped me sort out that I should be at least exploring many options since I was so young and just starting out.

Hannah: And so were you able to find people who had different business models and were implementing financial planning maybe slightly different from each other? Is that really where you went to learn about financial planning?

Alexandria: Yeah. Definitely. I’d say probably just in the first couple months of being at FPA, I was meeting so many planners there that had small firms, large firms, support staff, and just hearing what financial planning meant to them, so that also got confusing. Because I was, like, there’s so many ways to do it!

Alexandria: So this isn’t like a profession where you’re like, okay, I’m going into a law firm that charges a certain way and you’re going to go up the ranks a certain way. It’s not a direct path because of so many paths and that kind of actually is what landed me into doing NexGen, because I was frustrated, like, gosh, if there’s other young people doing the same thing I’m struggling with or learning about, it could be difficult to navigate your first year, six months in the industry because you just don’t know what other ways are out there, so you think there’s only one way.

Alexandria: And so that’s kind of what birthed NexGen, because I was like, well, if I could get more financial planners to come talk to the group, talk to myself and share that there are different ways, then people can make educated decisions on what works best for them and where they see themselves in financial planning, where can I contribute at, and it be a passion for me.

Hannah: And so did you actually start your NexGen chapter in Northern California?

Alexandria: Yes, I did. It’s a very kind of actually funny story because, so, right after that mixer that I went to at FPA, I was really excited about that and then I found out that they were having Seattle be the national conference, so that was in Seattle and I was like, oh, it’s a hundred dollars for students to go and, once again, Alex doing that skill of just going.

Alexandria: I went to the conference and, actually, I have family out there, so it wasn’t terrible in cost, but I went to the conference and they were having NexGen voting and picking the next presidency, and so I went and I’m like hearing all this stuff about NexGen. I was, like, oh wow, this community exists. I was like, oh, this is great. Then I found out that they’re, like, yeah, local chapters have NexGen and I was like, awesome! Well, I’m going to go back to the chapter, Northern California, and ask them about where this NexGen meets.

Alexandria: So I get back from the conference and I’m asking the board, hey, when does your NexGen chapter and what days? And they’re like, we don’t have a NexGen chapter, and I was like, “Well why not? I just came from a conference where there’s plenty of NexGen and we should have one.” And that’s actually how I ended up on the board, because I brought this up as something that should be there and that’s kind of how I started the chapter, is that I brought the idea up. Little did I know that they were going to ask me to do that.

Hannah: What blows my mind about all of this is that you’re three years in.

Alexandria: Yes.

Hannah: Like I feel like I’m talking to somebody who has so much more experience. We’re talking specifically about FPA, but I think the financial planning community, it sounds like it’s fast-tracked your career. It sounds like it’s given you such a bigger perspective. Would you agree with that?

Alexandria: Yes, I definitely would and, honestly, I say this to several people when they come and ask me questions or NexGen asks me questions about how I got to at least the point that I’m at now and I give a big shout-out to all of just the financial planning community, but, like I said before, it’s really being able to go outside your comfort zone and call that financial planner that you know that is in your area, or meet up with the business owner or talk to other students amongst the FPA student chapters to just learn about what they’re doing so that way you can, one, be aware of roadblocks, but also be aware of how do I get to where they’re at if that’s what you want to do.

Alexandria: That community has helped definitely spearhead things forward because I’ve been willing to reach out and maybe take the extra step of being open and kind of vulnerable to the fact of you’re new, but you’re so interested and wanting to know more.

Alexandria: I mean, I feel like it does not hurt to ask somebody how do you do it, and it’s interesting to them because they’re like, “Oh, you’re curious about what I do?” And you are, and then at the same time, not forgetting to let them know what it is you can do to help them with what they have going on, whether that’s business related or just some type of venture that they’re working on in the financial planning industry, but it helps spearhead you because now they’re like, “Okay, Alexandria. I met you, you’re doing great. Oh, you’re looking for a job?” Or “Oh, you’re looking for an internship?” Or you know, “You just need an opportunity to help? Oh, I know who to put you in contact with.” Or “I see that you’re doing this in the community.”

Alexandria: It just drives what you’re doing in leadership and helps move your career along. I don’t know if I would use the word faster, but it definitely helps spearhead you for new opportunities and being open to new opportunities, especially in a space where, financial planning, as you’ve seen, people are able to create new things. Now, people are able to just go start a business and all virtually, or just be support staff and be virtually. This is all new stuff that the old school way would be like, you’re in an office. You’re working for somebody, 9 to 5, right? That seems very … That’s how things used to be, but now people can try something else if they want to, but it’s just the opportunity and being a part of this community helps move that along.

Alexandria: Not just that community, but the study group aspect. I have an amazing study group. How it got formed was through FPA, so another point to FPA where study groups became involved. My mentorship came from FPA, like, if I just went back and tried to trace where all my opportunities came from, it always ended up in the community of some sort. And not just in the financial planning community, but I felt like in my personal community, I did the same thing so it helped you keep involved with what’s going on in your personal life and things that you enjoy in hobby and life, but I definitely feel like it’s helped open up a lot more opportunities being involved in the community, rather than just maybe showing up.

Hannah: Absolutely. I look back to when I started my career and I think I networked pretty well and I never realized the value of it until I could look back and see, oh, those are the opportunities that I had because I was in a network, because I was involved in a community, because I really did put myself out there. And it’s just like you really open doors, maybe not even right now. Maybe in five or ten years from now.

Alexandria: And it’s also scary too. Let me not pretend like I just was out there doing all this stuff, but it’s scary too because when I started, when I went to that mixer I was 22 years old and you don’t know what you’re going to say. You don’t want to embarrass yourself. You’re the only one that looks like you. I mean, that is all very scary, but when you go and you talk and you just kind of like, okay, the jitters are a little bit gone, and then you leave the event, you always go, “Wow, that was so great” and you call up your friend and you go “You won’t believe what opportunity just happened to me just because I showed up.” You know?

Alexandria: You get points for showing up, so I think that that’s a big deal, but it also is very nerve-wracking too. It’s like bypassing that peace in order to expose yourself is huge.

Hannah: Well, and we’ll let everybody in on a secret, especially when you’re at these networking events, people love to talk about themselves. So it’s always an easy in just to be, like, tell me about your business, how did you get started? People will talk your ear off, so if you’re not sure what to talk about, just ask them about themselves or what they wish they would’ve known at your point in their career and I promise you, you will have lots to talk about.

Alexandria: Yes. Keep those two questions in your back pocket. Keep those two questions.

Hannah: So I’m assuming, I mean I know, but for the audience, so you’re no longer with MetLife.

Alexandria: Correct.

Hannah: So you’re working as a paraplanner now, is that correct?

Alexandria: Yes. So I work at a financial planning firm and I support one of the partners of the firm in a paraplanning role and I should probably give the caveat – because it will explain some of like where my stories come from – of what paraplanning means because another thing that means something different to each firm, but it’s not sitting in in meetings and it’s not sitting and doing notes or building out financial planning software. So that is a different space, but kind of how we’ve described it, it’s more the trading desk and the service and the concierge world of the clients, and helping them complete transactions and a lot of business strategy is more of what my role is, even though it’s called paraplanning.

Alexandria: I just wanted to give that caveat because I notice that that does mean something different for each person when they hear it.

Hannah: Yeah, well, and it’s also really interesting because it just kind of opens up the world of how much there is to service a client and how many different roles there are. You know, we’re in the FPA Activate group and we just had somebody ask about the different career paths and what are the ways to serve clients and it’s like there are so many different ways to do it and what you’re doing is absolutely critical to a client’s wellbeing.

Alexandria: Yeah. Yes, it is.

Hannah: I mean, it is.

Alexandria: It is.

Hannah: And it might not be that you’re in the client meeting, but that’s an important piece. That’s a really, really foundational piece that you need to know if you want to be a lead advisor or lead planner someday.

Alexandria: Exactly. And so I know a lot of people are going, “Well, that’s a lot of” – like you said – “good experience” to be able to get that information and so as I work with clients, yeah I’m not sitting in the meeting, but it’s just as impactful to be able to dissect information that’s given to you that you didn’t hear directly from the client. That’s a skill. You’re just building skills, all these things are skills and how you come up with them is, you know, a completely different topic, but …

Alexandria: There’s not a wrong way to be learning is kind of how I look at it.

Hannah: Oh my gosh, I love that so much. I did my internship and I had, like, I love the firm that I did the internship on but I scanned the entire summer, like I took two full walls of paper files and scanned them and it was awful.

Alexandria: Yeah.

Hannah: It was rough.

Alexandria: Yes.

Hannah: But, kind of what you’re saying, is I learned so much from that because I read all the client notes. I got to see how did the client relationship progress over 15 years and that was so incredibly valuable, like, I had never read a divorce decree before.

Alexandria: Yeah.

Hannah: I got to read all these things. I got to see what was in these client files and I know that’s … There were other interns who had such a better experience, but I’m like, like you were saying, you still learn how you learn.

Alexandria: Yeah.

Hannah: And it’s important to take advantage of those opportunities.

Alexandria: Correct. Correct.

Hannah: And then the best part was when I got my first full-time job, I put on my list, I put scanning or something like that and when I got the interview, she was like “Everything is perfect, even down to the scanning.” So …

Alexandria: They’re like, yes, we got another one.

Hannah: Yes. Okay, so your title as a paraplanner, you’re doing more of the client service work. Maybe not the direct planning work. Is that something you want to get into someday? Do you see your role as wanting to stay more operational? Or do you know?

Alexandria: You know, it’s funny because now that you say “Do I know”, I actually was struggling with that and I felt like I think just recently I shared with one financial planner at retreat and I was like, you know, I really want to be a financial planner. And, at first, I was hesitant to say it because I wasn’t sure because I’ve been doing client service and I like it.

Alexandria: It’s not that I don’t want to do it, but at the same time, it’s kind of scary to hear, like, “Oh, well, if you become a financial planner, you kind of miss out on doing this piece” or you end up passing that on to another resource. And so I think now after three years, I can say that that’s exactly what I want to do, so that way, I can still be held accountable and still want to learn in different ways that still keeps me on track with becoming that.

Alexandria: And so even though I’m in a client service role right now, I told somebody “If I could build out my own position, it would be half client service, half financial planner” [inaudible 00:23:31] and just be like a hybrid of both where I’m like okay, there’s some meetings where I sit in and run on my own, but then there’s still this side of intrigue that happens after the meeting that still is required of me. And I would love to do both and so I’m still doing things now that, obviously, is more in line with being a financial planner. I mean, my role currently now does not require me, you know, if we’re looking on paper, to go to, let’s say, an FPA meeting and learn about our government pension plans and if they’re failing or not. That’s not necessarily something I need to know in client service, but it’s intriguing me to know because one day, when I do come across that client and I’m helping the client later on in life, I want to be able to do that.

Alexandria: And so I still prepare myself as if, like, the opportunity came tomorrow to do it, that I’d be open to doing it because I still engage myself in that way and I also think that if I was going to do client service more intensely, that I’d still need a higher level of knowledge to get to a more critical period of not just maybe going through the flow of, okay, I’m prepping meetings, like I want to be very skilled at being the best client service person, so that’s why I’m so intrigued in getting my CFP and working towards that and other designations even though it’s not necessarily required for a paraplanner to have those types of things.

Hannah: Yeah, I just love this, like, what are you naturally drawn to and what are you naturally curious about and stay interested and show up to those things because you don’t know what your career path is going to be.

Alexandria: Exactly. Exactly.

Hannah: So, let’s talk about the CFP exam.

Alexandria: Yeah. Yeah, let’s talk about it.

Hannah: That beast of an exam.

Alexandria: Yes. How dare they.

Hannah: Okay, so you start out. You’re at this insurance company. You’re like, “Hey, I just found out what the CFP is.” So, was a there a point when you decided that you needed to get your CFP?

Alexandria: Yes. And I think I honestly started doing it just because I was, at that time when I was just starting to be a part of FPA, I’d noticed that everybody had it, so it seemed like, okay, well if you want to be doing what they’re doing, that’s the natural thing next, right? It just seemed that way because everyone had it, so that’s how I started on it and I realized that you need an education to get into it. So I was like, oh, that’s no problem, so I did research to figure out what was going to be my best point of getting through the education.

Alexandria: At the time, we had a UC Davis extension program. It’s no longer here because the university has a CFP program now, but I took the classes there and it was in the evening, so after work, once a week, very like slow crawl to getting it all done, but I just started with going through the education piece and signing up for that process and then I was like, well, by the time I get done with education, I’ll have some experience under my belt and I’ll know a little bit more so when it comes time for the CFP, I’ll just be ready. This is how my thought process is, you know, of what’s the CFP? I’m like, okay, it’s a test. You got to study for it. All right. I got this. You know, I still have the college mentality of how I handled all the rest of my tests in my mind about how I was going to be taking the CFP.

Hannah: And so you take these courses and you’re working at the time. Did you see a lot of crossover from what you were learning and your job, or was it not … there wasn’t … What was that like as you applied it?

Hannah: Maybe you didn’t?

Alexandria: Yeah. You know, it’s kind of interesting. Starting out in that role, I helped a lot of clients that weren’t dealing with estate planning issues, so, you know, it wasn’t necessarily something I can go back and apply the next day, but I knew now what a trust was, right? Or trustee, co-trustee. Like I knew the basics and that helped me enough with general information of clients when they maybe asked a question or if I saw something that it would red-flag me into doing more research.

Alexandria: So I wouldn’t necessarily say I had a lot of application thereafter when I was working at the insurance company, but since I started working at my new firm that I’m currently with, there was a lot more opportunity of application, so I was taking courses and then coming back and the partner that I work with, he’s great in the fact that I could go back to him and say, hey, which client does this apply to? I know we recently did this strategy and we were talking about it, and could you actually explain it a little more and maybe apply it to them, so I can really understand what it is I’m learning and not just read it out of the book. And that was super helpful, that maybe I wasn’t able to sit in the meeting and go through the process, but I was able to use him as a resource of being taught this education course in a more applicable way and that’s what I felt like was great.

Alexandria: And I was like, oh wow, they’re probably going to find that very impressive. I’m able to learn at school and then apply it to what I’m doing. It was really enriching to be able to go to class and then, the next day, have this new wealth of knowledge and, not to like toot your own horn, but like look what I learned, you know? And so it was great and it made you feel like you were really growing, you know, in your role because you had this education that, honestly, I feel like at this point at my firm, you know, how else was I going to get that information if I didn’t go to school? Or go through the education course and learn, you know? I’d have to stumble upon it through a client experience or I just wouldn’t know about it.

Hannah: And so you take these courses and you said that you were going to, after you took the courses, then you would decide if you were going to take the CFP exam. So you did decide to take the CFP exam at that point?

Alexandria: Yes, so that failed last November. I got a study plan, I was in it. I signed up for a live review, which I use [Zon 00:30:14] which was an amazing review course and I prepared in every way possible that I knew and I had asked so many other CFPs how they did it and, you know, what was their study habits, because the CFP is like this mystery test in a way. It’s like you have this wealth of knowledge you know, but it’s mysterious because when you actually take it, it’s a whole ‘nother beast and everything you just learned prior to besides the knowledge is like out the door as far as the actual test itself.

Alexandria: So, I got in there and I was ready to take the test and I took it in November and I was like, okay, Part 1, I got through it and I was like, wow, that was a lot of information. And I’m not sure how I’m feeling about the test and it wasn’t a feeling of, yeah, I’m completely rocking it and it wasn’t a feeling of I was completely failing it either and so I just was like all right, well, let’s just get through the second part and I got through that second part and I … You know, you’re clicking the next screen to get your results and then they have the nerve to ask you if you’ll take a survey before you get your results. And that’s the worst feeling, honestly.

Alexandria: And then you have to click again and when I clicked again and I saw “failed”, I just felt crushed because I was like, how? How could I have failed the CFP? I studied. I did everything you asked, you know. What happened? You know? And, oh, I was hurt. I was so hurt and I had to take the test in San Francisco which is, like, an hour and a half for me, so I had a long drive home of just me and my feelings, you know. And I kind of took the next day or two kind of off. I didn’t even want to tell anybody that I failed the test because, you know, it’s pass or fail. You don’t get to be, like, well, I felt like I was good in these areas, you know. It’s hard to even talk about it like that when you try to analyze what you did wrong because the results and feedback of the test aren’t a hundred percent clear either, so it’s like, well, where do I need to work on?

Alexandria: And it’s very broad as far as, like, well, retirement, you were in the middle, and you’re like, the middle, like I was about to pass it or middle like you really weren’t that great? You know? So it was just like a lot of emotion and feeling after the test when I didn’t pass. I mean, it even came down to where I was, like, blaming outside roles, where I was like, gosh, my job, they worked me too hard. I could’ve spent more time. You know, I was mad at my job because it was like, “Oh, if they gave me this day off, I could’ve studied more”, right? Like or, “Oh, my family, they were always asking me to do stuff and they knew I had to study.” Like, I was getting frustrated.

Alexandria: I was so upset with myself. I was beating myself up inside because I did not pass the first time, but I’ll tell you, Hannah: the one thing that really shocked me was after I publicly said that I didn’t pass the test, the amount of people who have their CFPs that told me, “Oh, don’t worry about it, I didn’t pass the first time either.” And I was shocked. I was like, “What do you mean you didn’t pass the first time?”

Alexandria: I mean, there’s this layer of pressure from the CFP test and obviously we all want to pass the first time, but we also read the statistics on the CFP Board of how many people pass the first time and we can’t all do it, and so do you beat yourself up and go “All right, I’m not taking it again” or do you beat yourself up and go “All right, well, you know, I don’t think I’m supposed to be a financial planner” because that’s exactly how I was feeling, like all right, this wasn’t for me. But I had a really good talk with a great friend, mentor of mine I would say, [Bianca Dorsonville 00:34:14], and I was sharing with her that this test, I failed it, and there was purpose to why I failed it because now I have to overcome a level of growth that I’ve never gotten to before, you know. Especially if you grow up like on average always attaining things and passing things on the first time. You never really deal with failure probably until later in your adult years, and this is that point where the CFP is.

Alexandria: Okay, yeah, I didn’t pass the first time, but there’s a new level of adversity to going back at it again, you know, standing up and, like, hey, I’m going to pass the second time and still being okay with that. And so that’s where I’m at now. We’re almost to July’s testing time and I’m not taking it in July, but I’m taking it in November of this year and being okay with, all right, here comes second round and I’ve got it this time. That’s been probably the biggest piece of my journey so far that hasn’t always been very happy moments.

Hannah: Yeah, well, I just love that you’re so open about this and sharing this because I feel like so many people really do fall in this camp of that frustration and so what I so admire about what I’m hearing from you is that you’re still so committed to financial planning.

Alexandria: Oh, yeah. Definitely. I mean, it’s weird because it’s like, all right, I think at the time I had failed the test, I think that was Monday or Tuesday, and CLC, the Chapter Leaders Conference for FPA, was that weekend and I had to go and I was, like, oh my gosh, I’m going to have to go to this conference and be around other financial planners and everybody will ask me did I pass? [inaudible 00:36:11] on repeat, be like, no, not this time.

Alexandria: But it was weird because, yeah, I had to do that, but the passion of other people wanting to increase the amount of NexGen in their chapter or just bring on pro bono work and the leadership around FPA made me go, wow, they’re still here supporting me even though I didn’t pass. And that might sound weird, but it’s like they’re not giving up on just because you didn’t pass the first time and that makes you feel like, wow, I’m a part of a community that really wants you to succeed because there used to be a time in the finance industry where if you didn’t pass your Series 7 the first time, you got the boot if you didn’t pass, and so it’s like that’s not the level that you feel here, being a part of a community, and that’s why it’s important to have such around you, so that when you do have these hiccups, that there’s people around you to be like, don’t worry, this is how you’re going to be able to beat it next time.

Hannah: Somebody coming new into this profession, what would you want them to know about financial planning?

Alexandria: You don’t have to be a financial planner if you don’t want to. There’s still space for you here and you’re able to create that space if you want to. That’s how open financial planning is. That’s probably my first thing.

Alexandria: We’re not all the same and we’re not all meant to be financial planners. We all have different strengths. So I think that would probably be my first thing to say.

Alexandria: And the second one is staying involved in the community of the financial planning profession. I know that, you know, we get wrapped up in work and wrapped up in our personal lives, but what your local chapter’s doing to offer resource and offer speakers, they’re all volunteering their time as well, and so it’s like still staying engaged with that, because you have something to provide even if you can only go to local chapter meetings every other month. You know? And so sharing that and being able to volunteer. I mean, volunteering doesn’t mean necessarily you have to join the board. You can help work registration one morning, you know? You can introduce a new member one morning at a local meeting.

Alexandria: There’s so many places to be involved when you’re new and it doesn’t have to be in such a large capacity. I’m going to share this about our conversation that we had at retreat, because this is kind of my new thing and I shared this also at retreat in open circle, or closing circle, huh?

Alexandria: That being okay with going up to people and asking them what they need help with. I love this podcast and what it’s doing for NexGen and so I know it takes time and your volunteer hours, so it was like, okay, I’m seeing Hannah at retreat this time. Oh, I’m going to tell her, if she needs help in any way that I have my hand raised because it takes a community to do these things.

Alexandria: Those are probably my two big points for NexGen about financial planning and it’s more about how to help grow and maybe not so client-centric, which is maybe not the norm, but I’m coming from a space where I’m still navigating becoming a financial planner, so I’m not yet in the space of clients, in serving a group of people yet, so my role is kind of feeling like how do I keep going in this profession so that it’s around when I am a planner, you know? That’s probably my first two points for NexGen community.

Hannah: Well, what I like so much about our conversation, we were talking about this before we started recording, is so many of these podcasts, we talk about the middle and this grand ending of where they … Or, sorry, we talk about the beginning and this grand ending of where people end up and kind of gloss over that middle and you’re right there. I mean, you’re studying for your CFP exam right now.

Alexandria: Yes.

Hannah: And that’s huge.

Alexandria: It’s really nice and I am a huge podcast junkie, Hannah. I mean I listen to podcasts probably two or three a day, like I’m going through them-

Hannah: Wow.

Alexandria: Yeah, and it’s really because I’m at work so I have time there. I have a commute. You know, I have a good amount of quiet time to be listening to this stuff, but I’m starting to notice that where I’m like, okay, this is awesome. I’m so glad to hear how you started into the profession. Then we miss this middle part of, like, hoops you had to jump through, what was difficult, what was hard, what was a happy moment, because when we skip over that, someone who’s coming up new, they’re like, so what should I be looking forward to? Or what are some flags along the way that makes me feel like I’m at least going in the right direction? Because when you’re navigating, it’s just like, oh, well, here’s the endpoint, how do we get there, you know?

Alexandria: And so it feels good having some type of conversation about those talks so that younger people can go, oh yeah, I completely relate with that because I’m going through it right now and now I feel like I can reach out to them and that’s something that I’ve been trying to do a little bit more as I have time of listening to a podcast and providing feedback to that person that’s sharing their story because it’s like, well, I’m going through that too, or hey, can you share a little bit more about that because that’s something that I’m struggling with now and I don’t know how to approach my boss about it, you know?

Alexandria: And I love the meat of the podcast when it talks about the middle part, just because it … I don’t want people to gloss over it because you had to put a lot of work into it. It took you a lot of time and so I think it’s something we should definitely praise and also go, like, yeah, you are the bomb for doing that and then the bomb for sharing it, but sometimes, yeah, I do feel like we jump to our ending because we want to – I call it, because I’m a big, you know, make boxes and check it because it’s complete, but that’s where I feel like it happens, is that we want to get to end so you know that you completed it.

Alexandria: Okay, yeah, I became a planner. Check. Now I know that it can be done. But there’s going to be always this middle part that is always changing for each planner, but even more so for myself as I’m in this space.

Hannah: I’m just going to speak for the listeners who listen to this podcast, that we are all rooting you on for this November exam.

Alexandria: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Hannah: And so glad that you decided to stay in financial planning and decided to take the test again. I mean, because that alone is a huge win of resilience and really admirable.

Alexandria: I’m still nervous now. If you could see all the CFP books I have staring at me in the office, like, all right. November is your time.

Hannah: Oh, that’s great. So do you have a plan to celebrate? Do you know what you’re going to do if you pass?

Alexandria: You know, I probably will cry. It’s going to be a really emotional probably, but I haven’t even figured out a celebration move for what happens.

Hannah: Oh, that’s great. Well, thank you so much for doing this, Alexandria. I am so excited to share this episode with the listeners. I think you have such a great story, even three years in.

Alexandria: Yes, thank you.

Hannah: And I can’t wait to see what’s next for you.

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Alex is a great example of what it means to step outside of your comfort zone, get involved and see the benefits of being involved within the financial planning profession. From networking, mentors, peers and finding job opportunities, Alexandria Cole is three years in the profession and shares what it’s like to be “in the middle” of her career story. While working at an insurance company, Alexandria attended a financial planning mixer and discovered the world of financial planning and what it had to offer. She shares her journey to find what she’s been looking for – how to help clients in a meaningful way. Alex is a great example of what it means to step outside of your comfort zone, get involved and see the benefits of being involved within the financial planning profession. From networking, mentors, peers and finding job opportunities, Alexandria has discovered new opportunities for herself and better ways to serve clients.
Many of the career stories you hear share the beginning, end and skip the middle, but Alexandria shares where she is at in her career story – the middle. She is in a paraplanning role and shares her journey in deciding if she wants to be a lead planner and how she would design her idea role, if given the opportunity.
Alexandria understands something critical about the financial planning profession: our strength lies in our community. The passion and the willingness to support each other is infectious and Alexandria found this to continue to hold true when she failed her first attempt at the CFP Exam. Instead of judgment and embarrassment, she found a community that encouraged he, is her champion and wants her to be successful. Through community, Alexandria found her passion for financial planning.


 
What You’ll Learn:

The importance of the financial planning community and how you can get involved
How one person can make a difference in the financial planning profession
Ways you can get involved as an individual – even if you don’t want to go so far as to launch your own NexGen chapter
How to continue to push forward with purpose if you fail the CFP® exam the first time
How to decide what career path you want to take in financial planning
How to get involved with NexGen
That it’s okay to forge your own path

 
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Hannah Moore clean 46:02
Hybrid Vigor: The ICFP + IAFP Merger http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-hybrid-vigor-the-icfp-iafp-merger/ Tue, 29 May 2018 23:12:24 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11285 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-hybrid-vigor-the-icfp-iafp-merger/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-hybrid-vigor-the-icfp-iafp-merger/feed/ 0 Join us for a story based podcast where we go back in time to the late 90s when the financial planning profession was abuzz with the possibility of something great (and at times unthinkable) that was about to happen. - the merging of professional organizations to create one professional membership organization. Join us for a story based podcast where we go back in time to the late 90s when the financial planning profession was abuzz with the possibility of something great (and at times unthinkable) – the merging of two professional organizations to create one: ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Financial Planning AssociationFor this episode, we’re continuing our series on the history of financial planning by bringing together Elissa Buie, David Brand, Dave Yeske, Scott Kahan, Guy Cumbie, Roy Diliberto, and Joe Votava to share their stories on what is simply known by some as “The Merger”.  

I think it’s important to note that this is about much more than just the FPA as a professional organization. As you listen to this episode, I want you to know that we are all part of the same movement to make financial planning a profession. For some, their part is working towards the CFP marks and being counted among the ranks of financial planners with the “one designation.” For others, it is their focus on clients and serving beyond the fiduciary standard – to keep moving our profession forward. And for others, still, it is about taking a stand and being willing to sacrifice things held dear for our profession.

We’re all part of this greater movement and that is extremely exciting to me!

hannah's signature

 

What You’ll Learn:

  • The progression of our profession and how key groups came together for the profession.
  • How passion and purpose around financial planning helped propel our profession forward.
  • Importance of the CFP(R) Mark to the financial planning profession.
  • The importance of the FPA to the financial planning profession.
  • The challenges both organizations faced throughout the merger
  • How the two organizations put their differences aside to align their vision for the future of the profession
  • What we can take away from the history of the FPA to better understand the evolution of financial planning as a profession and serve our clients

 

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Join us for a story based podcast where we go back in time to the late 90s when the financial planning profession was abuzz with the possibility of something great (and at times unthinkable) that was about to happen. Financial Planning Association. For this episode, we’re continuing our series on the history of financial planning by bringing together Elissa Buie, David Brand, Dave Yeske, Scott Kahan, Guy Cumbie, Roy Diliberto, and Joe Votava to share their stories on what is simply known by some as “The Merger”.  
I think it’s important to note that this is about much more than just the FPA as a professional organization. As you listen to this episode, I want you to know that we are all part of the same movement to make financial planning a profession. For some, their part is working towards the CFP marks and being counted among the ranks of financial planners with the “one designation.” For others, it is their focus on clients and serving beyond the fiduciary standard – to keep moving our profession forward. And for others, still, it is about taking a stand and being willing to sacrifice things held dear for our profession.
We’re all part of this greater movement and that is extremely exciting to me!

 
What You’ll Learn:

The progression of our profession and how key groups came together for the profession.
How passion and purpose around financial planning helped propel our profession forward.
Importance of the CFP(R) Mark to the financial planning profession.
The importance of the FPA to the financial planning profession.
The challenges both organizations faced throughout the merger
How the two organizations put their differences aside to align their vision for the future of the profession
What we can take away from the history of the FPA to better understand the evolution of financial planning as a profession and serve our clients

 
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Hannah Moore clean 1:14:44
Building Successful Practices and Careers Through Authentic Relationships http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-building-successful-practices-and-careers-through-authentic-relationships/ Tue, 22 May 2018 21:47:27 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11276 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-building-successful-practices-and-careers-through-authentic-relationships/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-building-successful-practices-and-careers-through-authentic-relationships/feed/ 0 Do you have a strategy for growing your practice based on human connections? Humans want to work with humans. That’s why Mike Byrnes promotes the idea of building a business growth strategy on a foundation of rock-solid relationships both with clients and with your fellow financial planners. Do you have a strategy for growing your practice based on human connections? Humans want to work with humans. That’s why Mike Byrnes promotes the idea of building a business growth strategy on a foundation of rock-solid relationships both with clients and with your fellow financial planners.

This concept, in Mike’s opinion, applies to all aspects of your business from asking for referrals to building relationships with influencers in your network. Building out your media presence, networking with your colleagues in the financial planning profession, and maintaining a sense of authenticity is key to create real human connections that will transform your practice.

Mike has some incredible insights on how to re-purpose your media for improved engagement, the best methods for networking with your colleagues and helping one another grow, and how to ask for referrals from clients without damaging your relationship.

This episode is a must-listen for anyone who is working to blaze a trail for themselves in the financial planning profession!

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It’s the eagerness, the willingness to learn, and the right attitude. The right person can be taught. @ByrnesConsultin on #YAFPNW

Click to share

 

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to embrace different skills that take time to develop – like being on camera, speaking at events, and reading off of a script
  • How multiple forms of media can help to build your relationships with clients, prospects, and your network
  • The best ways to avoid sounding “stiff” in videos or podcast recordings
  • Ways to navigate asking for referrals from clients
  • How to create authentic connections with new clients walking in the door
  • What companies are looking for in a new hire
  • How to position yourself for success in your financial planning job search
  • How to create positive relationships across generations within the financial planning profession
  • How a succession plan can work successfully for all parties
  • The best way to improve your professional relationships

 

Byrnes Consulting on Youtube

> This episode recorded live for Youtube <

 

 

Show Transcript

Ep99 Transcript


Hannah: Thanks for joining us, Mike.

Mike: I’m so happy to be here.

Hannah: For the listeners, we’re doing kind of a fun experiment. We’re actually going on YouTube with the video. So we’re videoing this, so if you want to see what we look like in person checkout Byrnes Consulting’s YouTube channel and you can see us actually doing this live.

Mike: Yeah. That’s great. Actually, because of the FBA Coach’s Corner thing, we got connected to do the podcast and I happen to be speaking in Dallas today. That’s why we have the benefit of doing it together.

Hannah: So trying all these new media forms. I’m going to dive into that in a little bit. But I love that you’re part of the Coach’s program. You’re writing a lot of content on business growth strategies. So what advice do you have on our listeners on that huge broad topic of business growth strategies.

Mike: Well, it’s too big, as you know. Hannah had to suffer through seeing me present today. So I’m sorry you had to twice in one day, but today we focused just on client referrals. That’s one main way. The other way is strategic alliances. It’s really nice to have a great alliance. It gives you a steady stream of leads year after year after year.

The other thing is any kind of lead that is marketing or sales related but there’s no referral. Those are organic growth. And then the fourth one, I always call it the “fist of growth,” but that’s mergers and acquisitions. So tucking in somebody or acquiring a firm and buying just the book. Then the fifth one is just a slush of a whole bunch of other stuff.

Hannah: What I like about what you’re talking about … Because this podcast is for newer planners. So there definitely are firm owners, but there’s also a lot of people that work for somebody else, and a lot of these skills apply to everybody. You talked about building solid centers of influence. If you’re in your 20s and you’re building solid centers of influence, that’s going to stay with you regardless of what you do for a career.

So can you talk a little bit about how do you build those centers of influence relationships?

Mike: Great. Not to be nitpicky, but I call them “strategic alliances” because I really want to reinforce that it’s like a partnership, even though they don’t officially have an agreement. Maybe they do, but most of them don’t. But they really work to help each other’s businesses.

A center of influence could just be someone that just throws leads at you and there’s no two-way relationship. I’m rambling a little bit, but the reason that I’m trying to say that is if they invest in the right relationships, let’s say $1 million in AUM leads a year times 10 years or 15, that’s huge. And when we talk to firms that are really, really big and ask them how do they get so successful, a lot of times strategic alliances is it.

Can I tell you a little bit more about it?

Hannah: Please do.

Mike: The big fault that we see in the industry, it’s diversification. Advisors get that. So they try to diversify. “I’m going to give the leads to whoever gives me the most leads.”

Now, imagine just one type, like a CPA. If you have 10 CPAs that you’re working with, guess what? They maybe have 10 advisers. It takes a lot of time to work those relationships, and they’re always competitor situations. It’s like dating 12 people, or 10 people. It doesn’t work. So the real strong relationships are the one-on-one.

That’s a little different if you’re a billion dollar firm and you have multiple teams but each advisor can kind of have their own relationship, but most of the time it should be firm to firm.

Hannah: And how long do centers of influence relationships usually take before they get to that point where you’re getting a lot of good referrals?

Mike: That is a great question. I always give the analogy “You don’t get married on the first date.” Rarely do you do that. So they do take a little time to set the foundation.

I use the analogy of plants. You need to put the seeds down and then give them some attention. But when they grow, that’s where you want to spend a lot of time maintaining them too so that they grow stronger and stronger and stronger. We oftentimes see that the relationships just fizzle out because the person didn’t invest enough time to keep them going.

One other thing I’ll say in moving forward to switch topics too is advisors or financial planners can be really creative. There’s an amazing amount. There’s over a hundred, probably thousands, of lead sources out there where you can create an alliance. It doesn’t have to be the traditional accountant and attorney. I think we talked a little on the ride over here about how charities can be a lead source.

Hannah: Yeah. I love this idea of building relationships, because at the end of the day it’s a human-to-human relationship that you’re building with whoever that person may be.

Locally, I’m in Dallas. They have NexGen events that are actually partnered with the Young CPA Society and Young Attorney Society. So that’s a great way to meet other young planners or young attorneys or young centers of influence who might not be able to give you the business now, but, in 20 years, hopefully you’re both more established in your firm.

Mike: Right. And a younger person that’s newer, or even a person that’s come into the industry, one of the ways to exchange and make the relationships really work is “you scratch my back, I scratch yours.” But the challenge for someone brand new to the industry is they don’t have that. They can’t give a lot of leads.

One really good recommendation I have is to go out there and get press. Building up your own credibility. So you carry more weight. You’re a future rock star. You’re already there. You have your own podcast show. They would maybe want to work with you more than a regular planner. But then take it even one more step and interview them for your piece. If you’re doing a video or an article, get them the press.

And what happens is they really are excited. For example, a CPA firm, they’re really bad at marketing, traditionally. You’re doing something that they don’t have. They’re really appreciative. So they’re actually going to reward you even though they’re not getting leads.

The other interesting thing too is once you have great press, you interview them or you have them on your podcast or you have them in your article or whatever it is, not only are you sharing it with your audience, whether it’s your clients, prospects, et cetera, but they’re doing it too. So your stuff gets twice as many eyeballs.

Hannah: That’s such a good point. I’ve seen a couple firms, actually local, who have done that really well, where they bring on their CPA or attorney and … Go to the YouTube channel. You can see what we’re doing right now. They do something similar, and they post it on their blog. So they’re getting a piece of content for their blog. It’s a young person in their firm who’s doing it. So that’s a really great … I need to steal that idea.

Mike: (laughs) Well, being creative too, whatever’s in the moment, you might think of a strategic alliance just because of the news idea. What’s the hot topic that … For example, IRS text scams are going on now. Maybe that was a cool thing you could have interviewed a CPA for. The rental season is coming or ending. That could be going out to a commercial real estate, or even a real estate person that’s residential.

There’s kind of a seasonality about these creative things you can do for content. Or you can just kind of have generic, evergreen content that goes on forever, and you can do it whenever you want.

Hannah: That’s great. I just was at your presentation, Proven Ways to Get Client Referrals. So I had a couple questions after that. So we won’t make you rehearse your whole presentation, but I really liked it. But one of the things that you were talking about: how people make a mistake in asking for referrals. So specifically you were saying basically advisors make it all about them. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Mike: Yeah. Just the term “asking for referrals” really means “Help me.” And it is a sales approach. And the person that is on the other side, I said it in the presentation today, they feel like they’re painted in a corner. They’re there to hire you for your services. They’re not there to be your sales force.

I don’t know if you remember, but I offered … Better advice is to tap into why you’re in the industry. And that is, one, to make money. So that’s kind of the first part of asking for referrals. But the second part is you’re a nice person. You like to help people, and that is a much easier conversation to have.

I don’t know if you remember, but the wording could be totally different. Rather than say “Can you help me grow my business? I really count on you to grow my business,” which puts all the pressure on them, you could say “I would love to help people like you going through the same situation.”

We gave a better example than that today, but the reality is you start to offer assistance to help their contacts. So their family members, their friends, their coworkers. Whoever it is. By offering to assist them, you’re actually helping your client who’s sitting across from you, because you’re giving them the benefit.

Hannah: So many people, especially young planners, are like “That’s why we came into the business is to help people.” They’re so turned off by the idea of sales because it just feels, like you’re saying, that painting in the corner. I think we all kind of intuitively get that.

But I love what you’re saying because it’s not just on sales. It’s just a whole nother way to approach your client, where everything is about the client, even getting you business. It’s still about “How do I help the client or help their friends?” I love that mindset shift that you were really advocating in that.

Mike: I will say the word “sales” is a bad four letter word. People hate it. But Charlie, who’s not on the camera, he’s our tech expert behind the scenes, is your husband. If you have a debate on where to go to a movie this weekend … I don’t know if you care or even go to movies, but that’s sales, when you’re working with somebody and you’re trying to convince them to do something. Sales is all throughout our lives.

So when people just say “I’m not a salesperson,” I’m like “You have to be to a certain extent.” It’s just part of being human.

Hannah: Right. And it’s “Are you authentically showing up in those places?” versus the slimy salesman, which none of us really want to be.

Mike: Right.

Hannah: I hope. (laughs)

Mike: Yeah. The poor used car salesman mentality. And I think that’s a nice approach too. There’s a term called “solution selling.” If you’re really helping people and trying to help them, it doesn’t feel like you’re pushing your own agenda, you’re going to be better at it. So if you tap into that, helping people, you’ll be more successful at whatever you do.

Hannah: Yeah.

Mike: I’m going to get a glass of water because I’m talking too much today. I’m reaching over here.

So can I ask you a couple questions?

Hannah: Yeah! Absolutely.

Mike: Because we’re going to do the video for the Coach’s Corner video too. This is so exciting, having a podcast.

Hannah: Yes.

Mike: Tell us, how did you get started and why do you do it?

Hannah: So I got started … Man, it was probably five or six years ago. I was in the process of buying a practice, and my local FPA, my Dallas-Fort Worth FPA chapter, had a seminar series called “You’re a Financial Planner. Now What?”

It felt like a lifeline. It was where I learned about financial planning, what it was. It was where I could talk about financial planning. It was really where I saw financial planning in practice.

So a couple years after that Patrick Daugherty decided to retire, and I was like “You can’t leave! This can’t stop.”

So they were like “Well we’re retiring. Would you like to take over?”

So I did, with Wynn McEntire. So, Charlie … If you listen to the podcast you know Charlie’s voice. His background is media and doing all this. So he was always like “Why don’t you just throw it on the Internet? Just see what happens.”

So we started doing that. He would edit them and throw them on the Internet. I was like “Well, heck. I got some interesting people I’d love to get” … You know. Start. That’s just kind of how it started, and it just really built off of that.

Mike: So your advice is you have to marry a tech genius? (laughs)

Hannah: You got to marry well. That’s the secret to all of it.

Mike: So you started it. Maybe share some of the lessons you learned early on.

Hannah: Yeah! You just do it. You know? Put the work in. There were several times when I was like “Is this even worth it?”

You don’t see the end. I remember when we got to the point where we got our first like hundred downloads. I was like “A hundred people have listened to us? That’s crazy!”

That was like over a couple episodes. I remember when we got our first hundred people listened to an episode. I’m like “A hundred people?”

It just doesn’t resonate. You can see my setup here if you’re on the YouTube channel. Here’s my mic that I use. But so much of it is I’m sitting at my desk, at my home office, and it’s just me. I have a tree outside. You know? It just feels so small, what I do. But at the same time, technology’s allowed us to have this big impact. I think that’s what I’ve learned, that consistency. Even the episode … You’re in the 20s, or in the teens and the 20s and the 30s, you’re just kind of like “Do people hear?”

And then people start reaching out. And then you’re like “Oh, wow. There’s actually a person on the other side of that number.”

We talked about a hundred downloads an episode. Imagine having a roomful of a hundred advisors or a hundred people that you’re talking to. Those are a hundred people that you’re speaking to. I’d be thrilled to get a hundred people in a room.

I don’t know. I’ve kind of learned that compounding interest, if you would, online.

Mike: Before I forget, and this would be a great time, after the video, if people are watching the video, how would they find out where to find the podcast?

Hannah: Yeah. If we put this in the video, it’s “You’re a Financial Planner. Now what?” So you can go to iTunes. You can go to Stitcher. Whatever your favorite podcast player is. Search for that. You can search for my name. That’ll be there too. And you can just subscribe there or … We’ve actually partnered up since then with FPA. So you can go to fpaactivate.org and find all the podcasts, all the show notes, and all the links to everything we talk about there.

Mike: And hopefully this is good enough that they’ll blast this out too to all the members.

Hannah: Absolutely.

Mike: So back on the podcast, has it helped your business at all or is it just to help the planners? What’s your strategy?

Hannah: Strategy is an interesting word. My plan originally was just to help new planners. It was a way to give back. I had bought two practices. I had left my broker-dealer. I had started my RAA. So I had some time on my hands, just being honest, to do it. It was just like there’s such a need for new planners. I wasn’t seeing what I thought needed to be out there so just do it.

So that’s kind of how it got started. How it’s helped my business, I don’t know that I would say I’ve gotten any clients from it. I have gotten recognition in the industry. You know. InvestmentNews 40 Under 40. Young Advisor To Watch. I’ve built up a resume that I think gives some more credibility to clients.

Mike: Right?

Hannah: I remember I had just switched my broker-dealer. I switched a broker-dealer to an RAA. I’m in my 20s, late 20s at this point, when I did that. And clients came with me but you could kind of sense there was like “Is she real? Is she legitimate?”

It was D Magazine here in Dallas … Which is, again, through my local FPA chapter, how I got that. When that email sent out I could tell there was a difference with my clients. My clients were like “Okay. She’s legitimate.”

Like, “Okay. We can trust her.”

That’s kind of how we’ve seen it, inadvertently.

Mike: To be honest, if you ever expand this … I know you have some news coming up. I don’t know if you want to share that on the video. Do you want to or no?

Hannah: We can, yeah.

Mike: She’s having a baby. Woo!

Hannah: Yep. August. We’re expecting a baby.

Mike: So you might not have time for the second idea of the podcast, but eventually you might want to go for more of the investor audience and expand it. But if you do, or if other people are thinking about getting into a podcast, how can that help them grow? Does it give them a competitive advantage? You talked a little bit about it, but can you expand on it?

Hannah: Yeah. I think so. What’s crazy to me about doing this podcast is people feel like they know me. I’ve had people come up to me and I’m like “Oh, my gosh. You’ve heard my story.”

It’s so cool. You know? That’s what videos does. That’s what audio does. That’s the name of the game now, right? How do they know me?

One of the things you mentioned in your presentation was … I can’t remember how you said it, but it was something about the humans.

Mike: Humans want to work with humans?

Hannah: Yeah. Humans want to work with humans. I know when I write blogs sometimes it can sound a little corporate. You know? I try not to do that. But hearing my voice, hearing my story, hearing my perspective, it’s showing the clients what it’s going to be like to work with me.

They say you want to eliminate surprises, right? You want them to know what that’s like. So they know what meetings are going to be like with me because they know kind of how I talk. They know what I have to say. They kind of can buy into my philosophy before they get there.

I think it’s just like any form of content. It’s not blog posts. It’s not video. It’s just a podcast.

Mike: But I will say that advisors are starting to get that they’re … I always say they’re in the publishing business, because you now have a website and you have social media sites. So you can be a publisher. You don’t have to go through traditional press. But they’re better at the text piece. They’re terrible at podcasts and the videos. If they do do videos it’s like the standard welcome video.

Hannah: That’s what’s so great about podcasts. It’s 10 times easier for me to talk into a microphone than it is for me to write a blog.

Mike: And what about videos?

Hannah: (laughs)

Mike: So we talked about it today. I always say the enemy of marketing is perfection. But when it comes to videos people hate the way they sound, they look. Like, look at that goofy guy up there talking. You look great. Definitely make me look bad.

But the reality is that they just want it to be perfect. What they have to learn is some video is better than others. We could bore the listeners and the viewers with statistics about videos, but just trust me. If you do some searches on YouTube and find out what the viewership is, and podcasts too, it’s booming. And it’s not going to slow down. It’s only going to continue to increase.

Hannah: I started noticing this trend maybe a year ago. Maybe more. I look at where do my clients get their news from, right? A lot of my clients read the Wall Street Journal. They subscribe to national news. Newsline, The New York Times. Things like that. I know this because they send me those articles. The questions they ask are rooted in that. I’m subscribed to the same places because if a client asks a question I better be able to read the article.

But what I started noticing is on most of those big pieces that they do, it’s not just one form of media. There’s a second form of media on there. So it’s not just the blog post, or it’s not just their article. They have the reporter talking about it, or they have a video that summarizes what it’s saying. That’s a really interesting idea. How do you build out multiple forms of media on every page and you reach a different audience? You know?

You can take something stale … Not stale. You can take the written words and make them come alive.

Mike: Actually, I saw a really … It’s kind of a non-related statistic. I forget the exact number, but an amazing amount of people watch videos online without sound. It kind of shows that you need both, because they’re in a work setting or they can’t have the noise for some reason. You can’t just have video. Podcasts, it’s tough to have the words over it.

But the reality is if you can have a video or a podcast embedded on your website with the text that goes with it, or vice versa … And it shouldn’t be a transcript. I don’t think it should be apples to apples, because that’s kind of boring, but complimentary.

Hannah: Absolutely. And there’s just so much. I’ve done this on a couple of my posts where I do have two forms of media on my Guiding Wealth website. But you can literally just take the bullet points, the outline for your blog, and then just talk through it. Because you’re going to have a different inflection. You’re going to have a different take. It’s not going to be as cleanly edited, but sometimes it’s kind of cool to hear somebody … Not stumble through it, but the human side of it.

Mike: Two things. We have really impressive notes here. Here’s our bullet points that she could show you.

Hannah: I got my notebook here.

Mike: It’s here on the podcast. It’s not impressive. Just like a sticky. But if you type that up and you prepare, the videos and the podcasts are that much better because you put a little effort in. And like you said, then you have the idea of how to summarize it later. What I found, not just your website, but YouTube is a search engine. So you should have all the text bullet points that the YouTube search engine, and Google too, can go and index these things to help them come up.

Hannah: Yeah! And I love that. We’re talking about new planners, right? So people who are newer to the business. This is a skillset. In our FPA Activate group, I’m going live every week on Facebook Live. I was terrified. I still kind of am, of doing those. But I’m getting so much more used to it.

Now, instead of running through it three or four times before I go live, I can just go live.

Mike: Nice!

Hannah: And again, a lot of this is just me getting over myself, but it’s a skillset that you build and that you get better over time. Even if you’re at a firm that you’re like “I don’t really want to help them with their marketing” or you’re just playing around, if you develop that skillset, that’s a marketable skillset that you’re going to be able to fine tune.

And what I’m realizing is a lot of advisers who … I’ve asked the people to do Facebook Lives for me in there, and people are afraid of it. It’s like “Wow.”

So I’ve gotten over that fear, so now I’m comfortable going live. That opens up a lot more opportunities. I don’t know. Building up these media sources, it’s me building a skill in myself. That could be a very different form five years from now.

Mike: How about a pat around the back here. So the reason that it’s really such a competitive advantage is, one, just personality-wise and talent-wise, you have it, which is great. But there are some channels advisors aren’t allowed to do these types of things. They can’t go live. Everything has to be a pre-written script. Sorry if you’re in the FINRA world, which you-

Hannah: I’m not.

Mike: We don’t want to talk about compliance and getting anybody in trouble. But the people that read the scripts, even if they have really good teleprompters … They’ll look like they’re looking in the camera but the teleprompter is right there. You can tell.

Hannah: Well, there’s a reason why newscasters go to school for it. It’s an actual developed skill on how to read it. So you know, there are some classes out there to help you with the teleprompter side of it.

Mike: It wouldn’t help me. I can’t read. (laughs)

Hannah: We’ve done some teleprompter videos, and I’ll tell you: it is hard. It is not as easy as you like to think it is.

Mike: Right. And my eyes are going too. They’d have the font so big I would be-

Hannah: You can change the fonts on them!

Mike: Yeah, yeah. I’d read it so slow though, like one word at a time.

Hannah: There’s a college student in New York. He does Instagram. He’s a college student, and he is giving tips for his friends. And I’m like “Wow. What a competitive advantage when he’s looking for a job.”

His employers are going to be able to go through and see not just what’s on one sheet of paper like a one time interview. They’re going to be able to go and see two years of work that he’s done on video. Just like a client gets a good sense of who I am, an employer is going to get a really good sense of who he is.

Mike: Right.

Hannah: Way impressed with that.

Mike: My advice for people starting a podcast or the video is to think of content that has that long shelf life. It might be something they create three years ago that it’s searchable and people find you because you didn’t have to take it down.

Hannah: So you mean market commentary isn’t? (laughs)

Mike: Yeah. We talked about that a little bit today. Market commentary can be really good. It can go viral in the short term, but it can be dated a month from now, a week from now. Even tomorrow it could be out of date. The problem is if some advisors are pure investment management they feel limited. That’s all they have to do. That’s where some basic education on investing or some principles behind it, that stuff can still have a lot of shelf life.

But, yeah. If you’re getting into what this stoke did and why it’s going to perform well or not, the other things that’s an issue there is that you’re on record kind of making a prediction.

Hannah: Compliance issues!

Mike: Yeah. You’re like “Oh, man. I tanked on that one.”

It’s not like Jim Cramer. That can be wrong. And he’s doing the next thing the next day. So advisors need to be a little careful about that.

Hannah: Absolutely.

Mike: My other question for you is, if there are some other people new into the industry, in the financial planning side, what are some of those hurdles that maybe we should talk about to make them more successful?

Hannah: Oh, my goodness. There’s so much. Firsts of all, passing the CFP is a huge deal, but everybody kind of has to do that. But it’s hard to land a good job. I know you work with a lot of really successful companies. So what are companies looking for with their new hires? What are their expectations? What do new hires need to know?

Mike: The interesting thing is that a lot of advisers … I’m kind of being stereotypical, thinking of the older male, the “I came up in the old Waterhouse regime. I was a salesperson. I had to walk to school up hill, in a snow storm. Both ways.”

They think of their past as the way that the new people have to come into the world and be in the industry. It’s evolved a lot. There’s a lot of best practices. We had a little side conversation about a lot of the content out there is now really for the older generation financial planner. It’s not for the younger person. So hats off to you for having this podcast about how to make them more successful. We can cover whatever you want on this podcast.

Hannah: So people get in these jobs. Your part of the Coach’s Corner is on business growth.

Mike: Yeah.

Hannah: And the business isn’t growing. I was reading a Facebook post from somebody who was a wholesaler. He said basically that he would go around and everybody says they’re in business growth mode. He’s like “Maybe 5% are who say they are.”

When the business isn’t growing, what are the red flags for you, especially from the young advisor perspective?

Mike: It’s really funny. I’ll go off on a tangent and we could go back to the general thing. I just wrote an article for Barrons They’ve had me do a lot of case. I have to change some of the details so I’m not giving away any client info. We had one relationship we got in and they were at odds. The next generation advisors and the senior, owner, principle. They couldn’t stand each other. Things were just about to explode.

Really, the older person was really, really cranky. What happened was he expected all these sales things to happen, but they had what I call a “overflow model.” So he would bring in business and then drown them. They were just basically service associates because they didn’t have time to do their own business development.

So what we did with that was we recognized that is an issue. We talked about how to improve that. We broke it down. We gave them each their own goal that they could attain. They actually plugged into something bigger and then they all knew their part. And the relationships, because we got them to communicate better and not to be a consultant with over adjusting, so we’re all rowing in the same direction, things were way better.

So they liked to show up to work and they weren’t hating each other anymore. I don’t know if that answers your question but there’s a lot to that. I don’t know if that one case study makes sense.

Hannah: I think what you’re saying is it’s about communication and it’s about having those clear lines as young planners. One of my first questions when you were talking was do they have to bring in a consultant? Sometimes the answer is yes, right?

Mike: Yes, yes. (laughs)

Hannah: That kind of goes to this idea of managing up. We haven’t talked about that a whole lot, but I think it’s a really interesting idea. So in the situation that you feel like you’re banging your head against a wall as a young planner, how can you start having more productive conversations with older advisers in your room?

Mike: The communication is a secret. A facility like a consultant … Plug. Sorry. Byrnes Consulting. But that helps because a third party can recognize stuff. But if they’re people open to talking, a really common thing that we see is that … I’ll do both sides of the coin. Sometimes the person that comes in with very little experience demands the world.

On the other side we see the same thing. The senior person demands the world, doesn’t give them time to grow. Another real common one is the senior person starts to phase into retirement. That’s not really fair that everyone else is doing the work. So there’s all kinds of those conflicts, a real solid business plan so everyone knows their part and is on the same page, and one that’s not dictated.

When I talk about how the younger generation should have ownership, it’s not always that they have equity in the first, but they have ownership in where it’s heading and the vision. So that’s why doing that business plan part together is so important.

Hannah: Right. So if your firm is not that way, if you’re not in one of the fortunate firms where they really are engaging the new planners, so many times the option is just to leave. From your perspective, is that the best option for people?

Mike: Yeah. The extreme is you leave, or you at least see it as a threat and that creates some issues. That’s kind of that poker hand. You want to kind of keep those cards back until they’re needed. And sometimes they’re not even worth that much. I always warn people not to sign non-competes.

Hannah: Yes!

Mike: But if you have that, that power move is gone. You’re going to have to restart.

When you first start, you should say “How am I going to be successful at this?” and work with it together. “This is what I think. This is what you think.”

Have a plan, and then make sure they’re held accountable to it. Not in a whiny way, but a “This is going to benefit the firm, not just you and I.”

Once you get that kind of consensus it can work. If it’s really damaged you do kind of need a third party, whether it’s someone in the firm or someone that knows or paying a professional.

Hannah: So one of my favorite podcast episodes is … I forget what episode it is. We’ll have it in our show notes. It’s what we wish we knew before we left. So we talk all about the non-competes, non-solicitation. All the different forms that they have sign at the beginning or middle. Sometimes at the end of your employment with them. And why that’s so important, especially with new planners, knowing what you’re signing and what your limitations are.

Mike: Yeah. I’m not the legal compliance person so be careful with listening to me on this, but push back one that whenever you can. I think it’s fair if the person is teaching you everything you know, and they’re getting you to be successful, that they have some ownership in the clients. But it’s also fair, if someone really works hard, that’s their clients. There’s probably some buyout potential there rather than just stealing the clients.

We’ve seen some really bad altercations where people just battle. The owner is very, very strong and they end up taking the clients. They end up damaging the company from both sides. If they were really, again, rowing their ores all together the same way, they would have not had those issues.

People get divorced in real life, and they do as partners too. Sometimes it’s just really putting in the quality time up front to know them. A one hour interview is not enough to know you’re working with the right person forever. So the interview process for both sides should be a little bit more intensive.

You probably have heard from your other connections in the industry that it’s just a constant battle. But with 0% unemployment, there’s probably more opportunities for people. The planners that are coming in this industry, there’s a need for them. The industry needs more. So they do have a bit of a competitive advantage there.

Hannah: And it’s so hard to find good people. I talk to these firm owners now. We talk about their business struggles, and it’s retaining talent. It’s a huge issue because, if you’ve been at a firm for two or three years, you’ve built relationships with those clients. You know their systems. You know their processes. They’ve put a lot of money into you. They’re incentivized to try to keep you to stay there.

Mike: Yeah. It’s totally interesting to see, if people are smart about making these decisions, how much more successful the firms are. But the people that are unrealistic or over-demanding, they tend to shoot themselves in the foot.

One of the things too is, as you become more valuable to the firm, you have a stronger bargaining chip. Maybe we could talk a little bit about that, how the younger planners could be more successful.

Hannah: Absolutely.

Mike: I do love that you’re doing a podcast. We talked about how I’ve written a lot of articles before. If you create this whole library of whatever the content is, you’re just that much more competitive. You’re that much more credible and things become easier for you.

For me, things come out of the woodwork. I have no idea sometimes where the next client is coming. When I first started this … We just hit our 10 year anniversary. I had no idea where my next client would come from and I was scared it wouldn’t come. Now I can almost count on it to be automatic. Clients come out of nowhere. New clients, that is.

But that takes a lot of hard work. You got to hustle. Rather than have your DVR maxed out and you got to watch every show because the old ones are falling off, cut half of that out and spend a night dedicating it to improving your personal brand and be a content machine.

Hannah: Let’s talk about that: being a content machine.

Mike: Okay.

Hannah: You, I think in your presentation today, said you had 350 published articles.

Mike: Uh-huh (affirmative)

Hannah: So how do you do this? Besides just grinding it out.

Mike: There is so much content and there are so many great ideas out there. What I learned, and I’ll give this advice to anybody, is that I started a website and there wasn’t a ton of traffic there. I started writing some articles for that and I realized why get a distribution of less than a thousand people a month in the very beginning … Not like we’re higher than that now. But I could go write for Financial Advisor Magazine and 100,000 is the distribution. It’s built in and it gives you more credibility and all that.

Getting published somewhere is nice. You just got to make yourself into an expert. When you were talking on the ride here … I’m going to credit her. Top 40 Under 40. What’s the-

Hannah: InvestmentNews 40 Under 40.

Mike: So that is great industry press, but on the retail side you can now spin that because the press will say “Wow. She’s really credible and she’s got her own podcast.”

Hannah: And I say, becoming an expert … Granted, I took my own path. God help us.

Mike: (laughs)

Hannah: But it’s not all that difficult to become an expert. We’ve been really involved with FPA. I’ll tell you, I’m talking with their journal staff and they’re like “We want next-gen talent. Where is it? Where are those upcoming experts? Who are those people we can highlight?”

Gosh. These college students. There was a college student I was talking to and he was getting mentored by a pretty big name in the industry. She’s like “Why don’t you just do some research and publish an article?”

So he did. He went to the state of Texas. He pulled up all of this information that’s all available to the public. Now he’s doing research and now he’s going to publish a paper and get press off of that. It’s like wow. What a cool way to differentiate yourself. If there’s a certain type of client you work well with … There’s people out there who are hungry for next-gen talent and next-gen content.

Mike: So there’s a term called “webutation.” It’s your reputation on the web. A lot of people coming out of school, it actually works against them. The keg-stand picture. Inappropriateness.

Hannah: Use the privacy settings.

Mike: (laughs) Yeah. Or tell your friends not tag you in the wrong pictures. That type of thing. But you could build that up for good. There should be a strategy. They should teach that even in high school so that people are preparing so they can be that much more competitive. It’s not longer just a resume game. It’s not just that one or two-page resume that gets you hired. It’s this whole encompassing thing.

I remember when I went to college I got wait-listed. I was a rolling admission and I submitted it kind of late and I got wait-listed. I had a guidance counselor that was actually my baseball coach and he had me put a stack of stuff like this together. For the podcast people, sorry. It was a thick stack.

So what happened was I put everything from baseball stats to papers I wrote to the charity stuff I did, and I got in. The reason way is because I really showed that I wanted to go to the school and I had this huge effort. That’s the same thing. If people are looking to find the right position, just show that you want to be a little bit more hungry and prove that you’re one of the best.

Hannah: I was talking to an employer who had somebody come in with a completed financial plan and said “Here’s an example of my work.”

Mike: Really?

Hannah: I’m like “Wow.” Baste it out. That’s impressive stuff to do.

Mike: Yeah. When I give advice for hiring managers or owners, it’s not always they know exactly what they know. It’s the eagerness, the willingness to learn, and the right attitude to it all. The right person you can teach up. Even if that financial plan wasn’t perfect, the fact that they put the extra effort to do that is so cool.

Hannah: It says a lot.

Mike: Yeah.

Hannah: Again, the world is changing. We’re not in the 1990s anymore, where it’s the same resume. It’s just kind of crazy to think how … Gosh. What’s it going to be like in 10 years. Instagram stories or something will be what separates people. Very cool.

Mike: Too bad it’s not live and we can be answering real questions. But some of the things that I often hear from financial planners, do you want me to talk about that?

Hannah: Absolutely.

Mike: So when you have a brand new financial planner, the struggle is they don’t know where to start. As the RAA segment has grown so much, there’s a lot of great companies out there, but they’re not brand name. The Waterhouses are well known, but the Waterhouses don’t seem to want to be the feeder program anymore, for good and bad reasons. So these young people have to go find these firms that they don’t know anything about.

We talked a little bit about today the environment of distrust in the industry, Bernie Madoff’s and all the other stuff. No fault of hopefully anybody watching or listening. But that is stuff that the planners have to get over. When they start to look at how to differentiate themselves, they really got to figure out how to build those relationships and how to be stronger.

One futuristic piece of advice I’ll give you, the whole industry, why advisors or planners are better is the relationship side of things. That is the competitive piece that will never be at risk of robo advisors, because we have that relationship. And I agree. It’s so important.

However, 10 years from now, when you say “Hey, Alexa. How’s my morning looking?”

“Oh, the weather’s great. You got this such such meeting. By the way, your financial planning is on track and you’re investments are here. Here’s three things you need to do.”

There’s a lot of things that build relationship trust and likability and all of that, but communication is a big one. That is going to be much, much more competitive. Again, going back to the advice for financial planners, how do you be an unbelievable communicator? How do you really find the best ways to wow them, the best ways to keep them updated and such?

Hannah: So our competitive advantage is being human and connecting with … How do you market that?

Mike: It’s really, really hard to do. Actually, in today’s presentation we talked about … Social business is something I write about. It’s a regular piece I do for financial advisors. And the reason I coined it that was because advisors are wonderful at the professional side of things, but they’re not always good at showing the actual personal side of it.

To be a little complicated or show you the case studies, if you do A/B testing in your email marketing blast or whatever, do something that’s work related. A/B testing is you test topic A versus topic B. You look at a work related topic, a market update, or something from an economist, et cetera. Then the next one could be something personal. Someone just had a baby in the office, you could have the baby come in.

We have a bunch of nor’easters in New England, or whatever it might be, every, every, every single time we’ve done that test the personal one is off the charts. I guarantee this. If you put a market update versus the day your baby’s born, and you say which one is going to be clicked on more, it won’t even be close. Your baby is going to blow that away. That’s just a warning.

So if you know that one little test … And don’t trust me. Go test this yourself. But if you start to see that that is really something that can help your business, how do you double down on that? How do you learn from your audience, your clients and your prospects?

Hannah: Absolutely. Well, one of the things I’ve learned about marketing, even in the past year, is everything is measurable. I always felt, like when we talked about marketing before, it was throw things up against the wall and hopefully something works. Really, what you’re saying is get the numbers behind it. You know?

Mike: Yeah. Digital especially is very, very … If you do something in print, like advertising or something, have a unique 800 number or a unique landing page or something that you can digitally track it, at least through the phone. But online there’s all kinds of things. That’s where the industry is really bad. It’s kind of fun for a consultant like me. I like to stay one notch above them. I’m always trying to keep the pace and stay that way.

They don’t know any metrics to follow. It’s not just likes on Facebook. It’s engagement. It’s actual click-through rates. It’s conversion rates. It’s how much business you spend. And I’m really, really big on ROI. You heard me talk about that today. There’s many ways that you can spend dollars, but you got to make sure that you’re getting that positive return on investment. It’s an opportunity lost if you’re doing it on something that’s not as potentially successful as something else.

Hannah: Yeah. The gaming side of it.

Mike: (laughs) And then that’s nice as a consultant to prove your worth because you’re able to show that they take good advice and then they implement it and it works. Actually, bad consultants would die by that. If they’re ever working with an outside marketing agency, or whatever it is, have those metrics of success that plug into your bigger business plan, and then make sure that the advice is working. There are some duds out there, I should say. (laughs)

Hannah: Just like there are dud financial planners out there.

Mike: Oh, probably. Yeah, yeah. But they wouldn’t be tuning in to this.

Hannah: Yeah. Of course not.

Mike: No, no, no.

Hannah: We’re above average here.

Mike: (laughs)

Hannah: That’s great. I’m so used to podcasts because I can just kind of pause. And with the video too. It’s kind of a change for me.

Mike: I could tell jokes in between while you’re thinking about it. The reality with the podcast is that you’re catching the audio piece of things. There are times where I would say podcasts aren’t good because about 2/3 of all people are visual learners. So I’m encouraging her to figure out how to do this on a regular basis. So you don’t need me here, but to try to capture it on a video perspective.

“Is Charlie going to shoot me?”

Say “No, no! We don’t want to complicate things too much.”

But, from a technology side, sometimes it’s easy to do both. I’ve actually had people that have radio programs, so very similar to a podcast. Actually, we got them to video record the program. The thing is we have short attention spans, so you don’t have to put the whole show up. It’s really just the best 2 minutes or the best 10 minutes or maybe it’s a playlist of 5 of the best 2 minutes.

What’s really interesting there is, that content, people digest it however they want. So you have the podcast, you have the video, et cetera, and you start to share it in all the different mediums too.

Hannah: Absolutely. Repurposing content.

Mike: Yeah. I need to listen to my own advice too. I haven’t done a podcast, so I should be looking at trying to do that too.

Hannah: Yeah. Well, podcasts are fun.

Mike: (laughs)

Hannah: But I may be a little bit bias on that. Awesome.

So one question that came up today … You’re talking about business growth. There’s a lot of sales cycles that go through that. It’s interesting because the world is just different than it was 10 years ago, with technology and social media and everything like that.

In your experience, how have you seen that sales cycle for prospective clients change?

Mike: Sure. I love it. The industry as a whole is still referral driven. That part of the sales cycle is still very much the same. It doesn’t have to be but it is. But online reputation and websites, social media and other things, play a much bigger role, because we’re now this research society.

I’ve said it before that libraries … Sorry, any librarians on the line. They’re on the endangered species list because we don’t have to go to a library to do research. It’s so easy now. We have the cellphone. You have to hold that up for the people watching.

There’s statistics that say what we have is more powerful than what NASA had to put the first man on the moon. We’re just tapping into it. We can research anything.

In a referral driven industry, people are now going online. So the sales cycle, like you said, they’re doing all this research. Sometimes the sale decision happens before they ever encounter a planner, before they ever email, phone call them, or visit their office. They’ve almost made a decision, but to do that you have to have a great, great online presence. That’s where videos and really good content is so, so important. Just a nice website that’s mobile friendly and all the right things.

One little side note there is, if you don’t have a mobile friendly website, I’m going to kick you through the YouTube video, give you a kick in the pants that is. You have to have one. Even a referral driven industry, if they do that research and have to move the screen and pull and pinch all that stuff, they’re just going to get frustrated and they’ll go to get the next referral. If they can’t do that research really easily, you might lose something.

Keep going or is that-

Hannah: No, no. That’s great. Keep going.

Mike: The other part on the sales cycle is … Google calls it the “moment of truth,” where they purchase a product or a service online before they ever encounter the product or service. When they show up, they’re just kicking the tires. What happens there is that you have to start to sell to them and how do you sell to them?

People don’t like to be sold to. My advice in the sale process is get out online and demonstrate your expertise. A example might be, outside the industry, a plumber might do a how to replace your toilet video. I need the toilet replaced. Well, I’m not going to do it myself. Oh, that guys an expert. I’m going to use him even though he showed me how to do it and that was really cool that he knew what he was doing. Same thing with financial advice and financial planning.

Other things I can give you on the sales cycle is there will be leads that come from referrals or not, that come and check you out, but you never know about them. It’s that they’re not in the right spot to make the decision, or they’re not in the right spot to … Picking a financial planner, it’s not a snap decision.

Hannah: No. A lot of my clients, they’re overcoming huge barriers to even doing it. Kind of like my guys. “He’s kind of good enough” or “Do I really want the help from somebody?”

It’s almost like this huge emotional point of saying “I need help” and it’s a huge deal for a lot of my clients to reach out to … Prospect of my clients to reach out to me.

Mike: Yeah. So, thinking that through, any advice for the people listening? What do you think?

Hannah: On how to help those people?

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

Hannah: Oh, man. I don’t know. I think knowing that it’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of handholding. So I just brought on a client and the first thing that he told me after he signed up, he goes “The thing that stood out to me about you versus everybody else I talked to is you listen to me. I called. We had a 45 minute conversation and you actually listened.”

It wasn’t me saying “Here’s our process.”

I did talk about that at the end, but it was more of hearing about him and his wife and what are they doing and where do they want to go. It was much more focused on that: listening and engaging him right where he was at. I feel like sometimes we get so caught up in where we want to take clients instead of meeting them where they are.

Mike: Right. On a side note, throw away the pitch book. If you go in with your own agenda, you could ruin the whole conversation. You need to be just as good of a listener than that speaker, you would think. Right?

Hannah: Yeah. There was a paper that came out about how to integrate a lot of the behavior finance stuff, and there was a line in it that just struck me so much. We don’t know how to listen as a society today. Somebody walking into a planners office and having the planner just listen can be a transformational experience. It’s like “Wow.” It’s a sad indictment on our society, but it’s also the power of listening.

Mike: Right. I 100% agree. But before you get to meet them, some advice I would have, some things we shared in the lunch presentation today, is that RAAs especially do really good at getting referrals from clients. At least the clients say they give referrals, but they don’t always see them. So how do you tab into those people that are coming?

Tricks of the trade are pay attention to LinkedIn. If they put in a search in Google, and they put your name in or your company name, your LinkedIn profile can show up. LinkedIn has a cool tool that shows you other profiles that are visiting. Sometimes you can backtrack. “How do I know that second connection and where would they maybe have came from?”

I’ve actually had people reverse engineer why someone’s checking them out. They didn’t know the client was giving them a referral, but they were able to figure it out, and they made that referral real. Otherwise, they maybe never would have heard from them.

Hannah: How do you reach out to that person without being really creepy?

Mike: That’s great. Being online, you can definitely be creepy. What I would say is, in that case, we didn’t think about it, but we should have had that mutual connection. The advisor should have gone to him and then said “Hey. Can you introduce me?”

What we did was we went off of LinkedIn. We did the regular search and found that it was an executive and the person had a lot, like over 10 million in assets. So this person that the planner or advisor really wanted as a client, we were able to get their email off their company website. We customized three bullets.

“Hey. I saw that you’re on my LinkedIn profile. I just wanted to let you know, if I can ever help you, these are my three specialties. Please let me know. I’d be glad to reach out to you.”

So that is borderline creepy, but the person was there. He was doing that Google “moment of truth.” He was doing the research. He just wasn’t ready to take the next step. So it was really cool. What happened was he said “Yeah. I got a referral from such and such. I heard great things about you and I would like to talk with you.”

It took something that maybe never would have been a connection. So Linked In could be a source. Another way is when leads come to your website … We talked about Freemiums today, which is marketing lingo for a giveaway. Have something that is so enticing that when that prospect’s there they might bounce off your site.

There’s a thing called “bounce rates,” when they see one page and they leave you. You don’t want to do that. You want them to stay in the site. Also, you want to have them fill out some form. So what’s that one thing that speaks to them? Their target market should be really specific.

We do not want anymore emails. I don’t know. I can’t keep up. I don’t know if everyone tuned in-

Hannah: Oh, it’s bad.

Mike: Yeah. It’s only going to get worse. So what would you trade your email for? What do you have to have as a prospect of a financial planner? This is where we talked today about knowing your target market better than anyone else and tapping into those things that keep them up at night, or the things that they really want financial advice for.

Lastly, I would just say make them a little bit sensational. I’ve learned from doing all the articles. I’ve learned from the editors … Sometimes I hate the titles they come up with, but they change them on purpose because they want the clicks if they’re online. They want the readership in paper. Whatever it might be.

Same thing with your Freemium. The example I always give is “Here’s advice for you in for retirement.” Or be more sensational. “Here’s five things you have to know before you retire.”

Which one are you more likely to trade your email for? The one that creates that urgency. That’s the second piece, I would say. There are referrals coming to you that you don’t know. Use LinkedIn or use your website to capture them. There’s other tricks of the trade but those are two good ones.

Hannah: Yeah. That’s great. So speaking to young planners, what other pieces of advice would you have for them?

Mike: Oh, my goodness. That’s so broad I talked about plugging into the overall business plan, but I would have your own personal plan of what you want to accomplish and actually hold yourself accountable to it. That’s nice to develop.

It doesn’t have to be a paid consultant. You can create a mini study group of other people like you. It’s better if they’re not competitors. But even if you’re in the same region, sometimes you’re not bumping up against each other. But if you can share great ideas and all the things you’re going through, that can be really good.

We had a client that they do their business plan. Every year they post it. They share it with a group. It is a little dangerous with their competitors, but they share it with a group, and then the group rips it apart. Then if six months later they don’t follow through on the business plan, they’re like “What’s wrong with you? Why do you do this? This is your business plan.”

Not every study group is like that, but that can be really helpful. So build that network, whether it’s free or paid. That can just make you so much better. A mentor is really good too. You’re lucky if you can find it in your own firm. But if you don’t have one in the firm, you go on a mission to these conferences or just network through LinkedIn or other different ways, to find someone that would be open to giving you advice.

The real cool thing about mentors … And I was lucky to have some younger in my life that helped me with my marketing career. If you go to them and say “I really want to learn from you,” people like to talk about themselves.

Hannah: It’s true. (laughs)

Mike: In that first meeting I had … Oh, my goodness. “Did any of that help me? That guy was just talking about his whole career?” Blah, blah.

But after that, that person had such a vested interest in my success, because I cared about what made him successful, that he went above and beyond to help me throughout my career and still is someone that I can talk with and bounce things off of. So a mentorship is wonderful.

Hannah: It’s funny. A lot of people, they’re like “Well, I have the Internet. Do I really need a mentor? I can see how businesses are structured. I can learn everything I can learn from a mentor online.”

Patrick Daugherty talked about him. He led the “You’re a Financial Planner. Now What?”

I’d say he’s probably my biggest business influence and business mentor, in that my business is modeled so much after his. And if you put together a 500, 2,000, whatever word blog, I would have learned a lot from that, but I learned even more because I got to ask him all the questions. I got to take my situation and apply it. He got to filter that. I got to see how his business has slightly changed over the years.

You learn so much more depth and nuances that make you so much better than just reading an article on the Internet.

Mike: And the other thing too about mentors is sometimes you’re paying for a mentor and you don’t even realize it. If you’re related to a custodian, a broker-deal, a wire house, they have resources to help. Don’t be afraid to pick up the line. They’re usually focusing for the top moneymakers, but the squeaky wheel gets that oil. If those resources are there, are you making sure you’re taking advantage of them? It’s part of the deal. That’s part of your service.

Hannah: And it goes back to what you were talking about with how you hire people. You want the eager people. If you’re at TD Ameritrade or Custodian or whatever, they see that you’re eager and you’re going above and beyond. It’s likely that you are going to be that top producer some day.

Mike: Yeah. Big, big piece of advice for young people and old is don’t be a know it all. Any person, it’s so arrogant if you think … I’m not insulting anybody. I’m just saying in general.

Hannah: We won’t use examples. (laughs)

Mike: If you think that you know all the answers then you’re not going to be as successful. I see a really good correlation in that, where there are kind of very smart people … I say the industry as a whole is really smart. Getting your CFP, your CFA, your licenses. Whatever it is, it weeds out people that maybe don’t have as much brain power. But that can actually be a weakness, because when they’re smart. They think they know all the answers.

I think the most successful people are going to be the ones that are in a constant state of learning. They always want to be challenged. The Polaroids went out of business because of the digital camera. Blockbuster went out of business because of other things, Netflix and such.

Our industry is going to change. What we learned in college, 20 years from now … You’re going to be in the industry for a long time. It’s going to look really, really different. You can have the podcast people come on and share all their expertise.

Hannah: I would so much, you guys.

Mike: Hopefully this is helpful and we’re not wasting our podcast listeners and video listeners too.

Hannah: Yeah. And staying curious. That’s always what I say, this attitude of curiosity. One of my pet peeves is older planners who tell younger planners “That’s a terrible business idea. That’s never going to work.”

What if instead you said “Tell me more” and you approached it with a curiosity? How much more those older planners would learn, and it would really be helping bridge that generation gap as well. But younger planners can do that too. Again, it’s that know-it-all. It’s “Tell me more. What am I missing?”

Mike: Again, that willingness to learn will just take you a lot of places that you’re not going to think about before. The other thing too is, in that process, be aware of not just what has been successful and what’s been the advice in the past, but look for those things that are new that are going to be a little bit different. They’re the differentiators that are going to set people apart.

So if you’re trying to climb the ladder within a firm, or if you’re creating own business and you want to kind of look for a new niche or a new exciting service. There are lot of things that are going to be developed, especially technology, and that can bore people on the podcast. Moore’s law is basically about transistors and circuits, but every 18 months or every 2 years it doubles in capacity.

For the video people, we’re seeing a hockey stick ramp up of change. It’s going to blow us away. What’s coming at us … So not just learn, but learn fast. It’s going to come at us at a much faster pace than anyone’s ever experienced in the past.

Hannah: And what if we as advisors really embraced that and said “We’re going to help our clients with that.” There’s a lot of power in that.

Mike: Listening to a podcast like this is fantastic. Reading articles, watching videos is helpful. Hopefully, this video too. Attending conferences. Making calls. Checking out different things. Always looking for kind of the brightest minds.

What I would also say is, advice for new planners, it’s okay to make a mistake. You don’t want to mess up a client portfolio and definitely don’t want to wire something without permission. I’m not talking about those type of mistakes. I’m talking about trying new things. If you don’t ever try anything new, you’re not going to go to that … What’s that saying? You can’t find a new ocean if you don’t lose sight of the shore. So you do have to take some chances.

That’s tough as a younger person. It’s being dictated on you what the service model is or what you need to do every day you come into the office. You want to find some wiggle room there to do some experimentation.

Hannah: Ask a client a question you’ve never asked before. You know?

Mike: Do you have a good example?

Hannah: Well, no. I’m just thinking we talk a lot about life planning and some of those things out there. Open that door. Just ask a client.

My personal story: for six months I asked clients “What was helpful to you in this meeting to you?”

Completely changed the way I do business. Just open that door for that feedback. That’s just one way to kind of do what you’re saying.

Mike: I love that. I actually have something similar to ask. Was this meeting helpful?

Hannah: Yeah.

Mike: I think that’s even better because then you get the grain or thing that they really liked from the meeting.

Hannah: And everything that I thought was helpful was not helpful.

Mike: Oh, really?

Hannah: Yeah. I thought “I’m doing these great reports!”

And clients were like “No. No.”

So it completely flipped my meetings. My clients taught it to me. That’s what’s so cool about it.

Mike: I’ll give you an example of learning something that is new. It wasn’t around 20 years ago. So if you’re listening to the experts that are still talking about the 20 year old business model, they’re going to miss things like this. One of them is doing research on your clients. I went into it too long today, but social media. Connect with your clients and find out what’s going on in their lives.

This didn’t exist 5, 10 years ago. Maybe 10 years ago. Do the 5 minute research when you meet with them and find out what’s going on in their lives. I give the analogy, because this was a real case, where somebody saw that their client’s grand-kid hit a home run. They talked about that in the client meeting. That whole meeting was a home run.

What the client care about or why do they want to work with you is because they like you and that you showed you cared. Wow. Something that simple. Humans wanting to work with humans. How do you use technology to better that?

Hannah: Yeah.

Mike: So client research online through social media. A lot of people are afraid to connect with their clients. Again, it’s the person that’s doing the kickstand.

A real serious one is some advisors have done really well and they go on trips all the time. They don’t want everyone to see that they’re asleep at the switch or away from the switch. Just be cautious. Don’t post everything. Wealthy people go on trips too. They’ll connect with that. Just don’t do it too much. It works both ways. You don’t just do the research on them. They’re going to want to know you.

One funny example, and I don’t know how we’re doing on time, was someone that actually … Kids come into the business and they become interns and a lot of times they push their social media agenda. And the older generation, not in love with it. But some success stories come out of that.

One was a little old lady of client. The advisor got onto Facebook and connected with all those clients that were using it. This lady was 15 years older than this person. I think he was about 58. You can imagine her age. She came in the next meeting and said this exact quote, said “Now I feel like I finally know you.”

And they had a relationship over 10 years. He, just in that one little phrase, was like “Wow. That is how important Facebook is to this whole client relationship thing that I have going here.”

That’s not going to be that case with every client. But with that one person, wow. How significant was that?

Hannah: Yeah. That’s great stuff. Well, thanks so much for joining us.

Mike: It’s over? No way.

Hannah: I know. We could talk for hours I think.

Mike: It went too fast. Just to wrap up the video part, we’ll promote somewhere Hannah’s podcast and we’ll get you that information. And the YouTube channel, I’ll definitely put it down in the description. So click down and check that. Do you want to just share it all one more time?

Hannah: Yeah. Absolutely. Where you’re going to find the podcast?

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

Hannah: Go to iTunes, Stitcher. Your favorite podcast player. You can just search and find “You’re a Financial Planner. Now What?” Or you can go to fpaactivate.org.

Mike: And if you’re listening to the podcast and you want to watch the video, because it was so great and you want to see it and hear it, Byrnes Consulting is spelled … Burn is B-Y-R-N-E-S. If you got on YouTube and search Byrnes Consulting, it’ll come up. Hopefully, that’ll be the top video there. (laughs)

We’ll get that and we’ll cross-promote this and maybe we’ll get our two audiences checking them out. And hopefully the FPA will promote it too.

Hannah: Yeah. Great. Well thanks, Mike.

Mike: Thank you very much. I really appreciate it. Bye, guys.

Hannah: Bye, everyone.

 

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Do you have a strategy for growing your practice based on human connections? Humans want to work with humans. That’s why Mike Byrnes promotes the idea of building a business growth strategy on a foundation of rock-solid relationships both with clients ... Mike Byrnes promotes the idea of building a business growth strategy on a foundation of rock-solid relationships both with clients and with your fellow financial planners.
This concept, in Mike’s opinion, applies to all aspects of your business from asking for referrals to building relationships with influencers in your network. Building out your media presence, networking with your colleagues in the financial planning profession, and maintaining a sense of authenticity is key to create real human connections that will transform your practice.
Mike has some incredible insights on how to re-purpose your media for improved engagement, the best methods for networking with your colleagues and helping one another grow, and how to ask for referrals from clients without damaging your relationship.
This episode is a must-listen for anyone who is working to blaze a trail for themselves in the financial planning profession!


 
What You’ll Learn:

How to embrace different skills that take time to develop – like being on camera, speaking at events, and reading off of a script
How multiple forms of media can help to build your relationships with clients, prospects, and your network
The best ways to avoid sounding “stiff” in videos or podcast recordings
Ways to navigate asking for referrals from clients
How to create authentic connections with new clients walking in the door
What companies are looking for in a new hire
How to position yourself for success in your financial planning job search
How to create positive relationships across generations within the financial planning profession
How a succession plan can work successfully for all parties
The best way to improve your professional relationships

 
Byrnes Consulting on Youtube
> This episode recorded live for Youtube <
 
 
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Hannah Moore clean 1:09:30
How and Why We Should Address Gender Inequality in our Profession – Live at FPA Retreat http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-how-and-why-we-should-address-gender-inequality-in-our-profession-live-at-fpa-retreat/ Tue, 15 May 2018 15:30:34 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11268 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-how-and-why-we-should-address-gender-inequality-in-our-profession-live-at-fpa-retreat/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-how-and-why-we-should-address-gender-inequality-in-our-profession-live-at-fpa-retreat/feed/ 0 How would we be better off if we addressed the gender equality in our profession? In this episode, we’ll be exploring this, and many other questions about how we can address the gender gap in financial planning together. How would we be better off if we addressed the gender equality in our profession? In this episode, we’ll be exploring this, and many other questions about how we can address the gender gap in financial planning together.

Diverse teams perform better across industries, and yet the financial planning profession is struggling to bring in and retain diverse talent. During this discussion, we’re tackling the idea that building diverse teams needs to be the way all financial planning practices do business – always.

We’re also going to go over the inevitable uncomfortable conversations that come with growing pains and tackling diversity initiatives. We’re all going to trip sometimes, and perfection is not the point. The point is that everyone, regardless of gender or race, continues to push ahead and focus on improvement.

I hope you enjoy!

hannah's signature

I’m proud of the initiatives that are happening to promote gender diversity in this profession, but it should just be how we do business. #Retreat18

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What You’ll Learn:

  • Why this profession isn’t necessarily female-friendly
  • The “assumptions” that hurt diversity in our profession
  • How unconscious bias holds everyone back in some ways
  • How to address uncomfortable conversations around diversity in the profession
  • The importance of listening to someone else’s viewpoint
  • Embracing different communication styles so that everyone gets the space they need to say how they feel
  • How to communicate in an assertive but respectful way
  • What “sharing stories” looks like – and how we can build a space for that in big and small ways
  • Ways that the #MeToo movement is impacting the financial planning industry
  • How to address a company culture that doesn’t support diversity, inclusion, and equality

 

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How would we be better off if we addressed the gender equality in our profession? In this episode, we’ll be exploring this, and many other questions about how we can address the gender gap in financial planning together. Diverse teams perform better across industries, and yet the financial planning profession is struggling to bring in and retain diverse talent. During this discussion, we’re tackling the idea that building diverse teams needs to be the way all financial planning practices do business – always.
We’re also going to go over the inevitable uncomfortable conversations that come with growing pains and tackling diversity initiatives. We’re all going to trip sometimes, and perfection is not the point. The point is that everyone, regardless of gender or race, continues to push ahead and focus on improvement.
I hope you enjoy!


 
What You’ll Learn:

Why this profession isn’t necessarily female-friendly
The “assumptions” that hurt diversity in our profession
How unconscious bias holds everyone back in some ways
How to address uncomfortable conversations around diversity in the profession
The importance of listening to someone else’s viewpoint
Embracing different communication styles so that everyone gets the space they need to say how they feel
How to communicate in an assertive but respectful way
What “sharing stories” looks like – and how we can build a space for that in big and small ways
Ways that the #MeToo movement is impacting the financial planning industry
How to address a company culture that doesn’t support diversity, inclusion, and equality

 
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Hannah Moore clean 55:17
45 Years of Building a Profession – Live at FPA Retreat http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-45-years-of-building-a-profession-live-at-fpa-retreat/ Tue, 08 May 2018 20:36:24 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11223 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-45-years-of-building-a-profession-live-at-fpa-retreat/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-45-years-of-building-a-profession-live-at-fpa-retreat/feed/ 0 LIVE at FPA Retreat 2018, we’re sitting down with a few of the industry’s most influential leaders to talk about the past, present, and future of the financial planning profession. Today’s episode was one of the keynote sessions at FPA Retreat 2018 and in this session Jack Blankinship, Ben Coombs, Charlie Hughes, and Lew Walker came together to discuss the topic: 45 Years of Building a Profession. These industry leaders walk us through what financial planning looked like many years ago, the changes they’ve seen, and what they’ve learned as a result.

2018 marks the 45th anniversary of the CFP marks and our profession has come a long way in that time. We are encouraged that this profession will continue to grow and evolve, and that you are all a part of it. Together, we need to know we’ve been to understand where we can go! So, here at #YAFPNW, we are excited to bring you several more episodes throughout 2018 on the topic of our shared history – as told by the planning professionals who where there!

I hope you enjoy!

hannah's signature

Make sure the marks stay worthy.. and the best way to do that is make sure that you stay worthy of the marks – Ben Coombs

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What You’ll Learn:

  • How “the movement” started 45 years ago to provide true financial planning to clients.
  • How the term “fiduciary” came to be – and what industry leaders did to push for that kind of clarification among financial professionals.
  • How leadership builds leadership – and how that helps us grow.
  • The importance of embracing change in our profession.
  • What people experienced while building this profession from scratch.
  • How we can continue to search for answers in our push to serve clients better, grow our profession, and become better advisors

 

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LIVE at FPA Retreat 2018, we’re sitting down with a few of the industry’s most influential leaders to talk about the past, present, and future of the financial planning profession. 2018 marks the 45th anniversary of the CFP marks and our profession has come a long way in that time. We are encouraged that this profession will continue to grow and evolve, and that you are all a part of it. Together, we need to know we’ve been to understand where we can go! So, here at #YAFPNW, we are excited to bring you several more episodes throughout 2018 on the topic of our shared history – as told by the planning professionals who where there!
I hope you enjoy!


 
What You’ll Learn:

How “the movement” started 45 years ago to provide true financial planning to clients.
How the term “fiduciary” came to be – and what industry leaders did to push for that kind of clarification among financial professionals.
How leadership builds leadership – and how that helps us grow.
The importance of embracing change in our profession.
What people experienced while building this profession from scratch.
How we can continue to search for answers in our push to serve clients better, grow our profession, and become better advisors

 
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Hannah Moore clean 53:14
Supporting the Next Generation of Financial Planners http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-supporting-the-next-generation-of-financial-planners/ Tue, 01 May 2018 14:05:59 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11205 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-supporting-the-next-generation-of-financial-planners/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-supporting-the-next-generation-of-financial-planners/feed/ 0 Kate Healy is a wonder woman whose life’s work has furthered the financial planning profession and served advisors in countless ways. It’s safe to say - she’s one of the leading voices in the world of finance, and she’s here to talk about advocating for new and diverse planners. Kate Healy is a wonder woman whose life’s work has furthered the financial planning profession and served advisors in countless ways. She was nominated as one of Investment Advisor magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential People in the Industry and one of Investment News’s inaugural “Women to Watch.” It’s safe to say – she’s one of the leading voices in the world of finance, and she’s an incredible advocate for new planners in this profession.

Through TD Ameritrade’s NextGen program, Kate is helping to build a support system for new planners who are already engaged with the financial profession, as well as financial planning students who represent the next generation of planning.

In this episode, Kate talks about the importance of supporting diversity in our profession, encouraging young planners, and communicating the value of financial planning to every generation.

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We’ve got to work together to figure out how we can all work together to raise each other up. @katehealy_tda

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What You’ll Learn:

  • How young planners are getting involved, creating awareness, and changing the industry
  • How Kate Healy supports the financial planning profession
  • The ways that a financial planner’s passion can make a difference both in the profession and in the lives of their clients
  • How seasoned advisors can look ahead, connect with program directors, and always be searching for next generation talent

 

TD Ameritrade Institutional Welcomes Applications for 2018 NextGen Financial Planning Scholarships & Grants

RIA NextGen Career Exchange

 

Show Transcript

Ep96 Transcript


Hannah: You have this long resume as one of the most influential women, one of the most influential people in the financial services field. How did somebody get to be in your position?
Kate: You know, it’s funny because you don’t think when you start out, “I’m going to be that person.” You think, “okay, I’m going to get the first job and I want a raise, I want a title.” Your mindset’s much different when you start out. But the one thing I think I always did was I liked to do something until I mastered it and then I was curious about the next thing. It wasn’t necessarily what’s the next thing that’s going to get me to that position, it’s, “What’s the next thing that I think I’m going to learn that’s going to be really interesting and that I’m interested in?”
I started out in accounting and finance and went into marketing because they told me that my finance job was communications. It wasn’t, but I’m like, “Okay.” And then I was like, “well, marketing’s kind of fun.” So I was with the marketing people, but then my company merged with another company, we all lost our jobs and I trained as a financial planner. I’ve taken on a lot of different steps to get me.
I think trying to train as a financial planner is what has really sparked my passion for … This was the early 90s. I was one of two women in the office training for the job. I hated the selling part. I was actually studying for the CFP and the company made me stop studying. I had taken two parts to the test and they made me stop because it was interfering with cold calling. It was just a whole different environment then. I was like, this just isn’t for me but I love what financial planners are doing. I love the help that they’re giving. How can I be connected to it in some way?
Probably the second half of my career almost was always in support of a financial advisor, financial planner role through many different business models as I evolved myself into first it was the insurance financial planner, then it was the broker-dealer model, independent maybe… wire-house and then the RA model where I felt like that’s the place where I really feel like this all fits together and it’s holistic and we’re doing what’s right for the client, so whatever I could do to support that was something that was my passion.
Hannah: There’s a lot of talk about career paths in financial planning-
Kate: Yeah.
Hannah: And you know, this thing that everybody talks about, just a straight career path to be the lead advisor, but you’re in financial planning. You’re one of the most influential people in financial planning and you’re really supporting financial planners.
Kate: Right.
Hannah: I bet that’s a really interesting case study.
Kate: That’s interesting, I never thought about it that way but you’re right because it’s not all about being the advisor and bringing in clients. There are people who do that and are fantastic at it. But financial planning has grown as such a professional and there is a need for so many different roles. We need financial advisors, we need paraplanners, we need compliance people, we need risk people, you need operations people. Those are fantastic career paths in and of themselves.
I went down a marketing path for a lot of time and that also, just from a content perspective I learned so much about planning and planning techniques. I used to do advanced marketing for some of the insurance companies, and so it just brought concepts to bare. It really kept every day interesting. I was always learning something new, and that was part of it as I talked about my own career progression. I never said, “I want to be that person up there.” I want to be up there somehow, but I don’t know what it’s going to look like. I want to learn things that make me interested and hopefully more valuable.
And so I did that lateral career. I sometimes took maybe not so much a step back but a step sideways and learned something and a new skill and maybe did some operational work for a while. I had my finance and accounting in the background and then went into marketing, all these different areas, just to kind of, looking back, round out my skill set. I can’t say that I had a big strategy of saying, “Okay, you need to fill in all these different buckets before you’re going to be a well-rounded individual. I was looking for things that looked interesting that I thought could continue to help me learn and build on my curiosity about the profession, how people deal with money and all things like that.
Hannah: So your curiosity was your career path, not this ambition to get to the next level?
Kate: Yeah. I think so, I really think it was curiosity. How do I learn? That looks cool. What are those people that sit over in that department doing? Why don’t I try that out? I think it’s interesting, back to career paths, a lot of it is networking in the office. Obviously I’ve worked for larger firms but it’s getting to meet people through extra-curricular work activities maybe. It was a networking group or a charitable group, something like that that got me exposed to different areas.
I was in one of my roles and I was in a marketing role but I was really fascinated by something we were doing to help advisors get smarter about providing the right solutions to clients. So they had this casting call for someone to do and I did almost a second job to do this, with my first job, and I was writing cases for practice management almost for people. They chose me over one of the attorneys on the team so I was like, “All right. This is cool. I can do this.” This is something extra, but I put in the effort. I was actually doing two full-time jobs to be able to have them recognize me and say, “Now there’s a new role for you because you’ve proven yourself and we see that you can do this and maybe something we didn’t think of before, but now let’s start to create a role around this.”
Hannah: And this was in the 90s you’re saying, right?
Kate: Yeah. I’m old.
Hannah: We’ll talk more about women in the profession in a bit but you’re 90s a woman in finance. What was that like?
Kate: It’s funny. I actually started in finance in the 80s and I didn’t notice that there was, in my group, in my department, I started out in accounting and it probably wasn’t 50/50 but there were women there. I had peers and it never seemed like we were isolated but what I noticed was, and this was one of the things that I think the reason why I focused on this is as I went up in my career, I started to lose my peers. The friends that I started with were no longer in the business. Some had families and through other circumstances but they weren’t coming back into the workforce. It didn’t seem like a friendly place for them and some of them now, they’re totally out of financial services. They became teachers or they just went another route. I thought what’s going on? What’s different? Why aren’t people being supported?
I think that’s why I have a passion on how do we help support people in this profession and what are doing to help them stay here? Because women’s lives take a different path than men’s, a lot of times. If you’re going to get married and have a family, sorry, the woman’s having the baby. It’s going to happen, it’s going to be different, so what are we doing to support them? How can we do that and how could I have kept the friends I had from the 80s if you will and have them still be in this profession today, 30-something years later? I think as I eventually went through my career, that’s when I noticed it was getting thinner and thinner at the top or places I was where would go in to …
I remember being in place and I was speaking at a conference but I was also, because I was marketing, I was running the conference. A woman who worked at the hotel said to me, “Wow, you’re the only women in this room. You must be really smart.” I looked at her and said, “Or really stupid for being here.” Why am I the only woman in the room? Something’s not right here. In financial services that I am the only woman in the room out of 50 advisors and home office management. That’s not right.
Hannah: And we’ll talk more about what … I know you guys’ have done a lot of research on this and you’re a really big advocate for this, we’ll talk about that in a minute. But what’s your official title at TD Ameritrade now?
Kate: My official title is managing director of generation next. I was not the cool one to come up with the title. It’s pretty much a play on next generation but it’s kind of … because when I talk about the next generation, it encompasses different things for us. When I speak of next generation, I don’t just mean millennials, I mean anyone who’s not here today because that’s what we’re looking for. That includes millennials, it includes women, it includes men who still need to become CFP’s, it includes career changers, former military, people returning to work, diverse populations that aren’t in this profession. We look around, we’re getting better but we still have a long way to go. Whoever is not at the table today is our next generation.
Hannah: I love that. So good. What’s the average day, week or month look like for you?
Kate: That’s funny. I was thinking about that when you sent over that question, I thought what does the average day for me look like? I would say there’s probably seasonality to it. Right now, we’re in spring time conference season so my average day looks a lot different. I’ve been on the road for a couple weeks and I will be for a few more weeks, so the average day is really early calls, going to the airport early, getting on a plane and coming here to retreat. I’ll be heading to two women’s conferences next week. I’m flying out tomorrow morning to go to the American College with Jocelyn Wright. She’s hosting a round table. There’s a lot of different things that happen in the spring and the fall from a speaking perspective.
Then there’s a lot of prep calls. I think I did four prep calls for speaking engagements of the next month last week. On one day. I’m like, I’m starting to get confused. I’ve got to keep this all straight now. But, I also just came from our own TD Ameritrade leadership session, so we’re getting ready for our 2019 planning and we just had a fantastic offsite where we really challenged ourselves to think of new ideas. We had a great session with our advanced tech team and how can we take technology and really use that to advance us to the next level and change advisors and clients lives?
Then there’s a lot of coming up with content. I do a monthly blog, Advocate, another name I did not come up with. I have very creative teams back at TD Ameritrade. Social media. And then trying to do more internally to let everyone know what we’re doing. Then I sit on a couple of boards. I’m a trustee for the Foundation for Financial Planning. They’re here today. As well as Invest in Others, which is a foundation that provides award grants to advisors that are doing well, who are doing a lot of great work with charities. We just finished the nomination period for the 2018 awards, so there’s usually quarterly board meetings with that. I sit on the TD Ameritrade’s diversity inclusion steering committee. We have monthly steering committee meetings. We’ll have an annual conference coming up in about a month or so, but I also sit on the recruiter pillar. We meet more frequently and figure out what can we do to help attract more people into financial services? More women, more people of color, what are the things that are holding them back?
We’ve done some things like we write our jobs descriptions. We’ve got experience requirement are different if you’re in the military. We’re not going to ask you for things that might be on a regular job description because you’ve been in the military. You’ve done so many more things that are probably more relevant and going to make you a great employee. One of the words that we think we can make sure are not going to turn someone off from a job. We know that women are less confident when they apply to jobs, so how do we change the wording or the way we list our jobs so that people feel more empowered to apply for them, and then finally how do we train our hiring managers to really look for potential, not experience? Because if we look for experience, we’re going to have the same people in the seats. We have to give people a chance and start to look for the potential for someone to do a job to start to bring in the more diverse populations that we want.
Hannah: That’s interesting you talked about how the job description is worded. This may be an obvious dumb question, but does that really make a difference?
Kate: It does, right? Think about how you’ve looked at a job. I know myself. I have looked at jobs in the past and said, “Oh, I can do maybe a third of that. There’s no way that job is for me.” But maybe it is. I’ve had great bosses who sometimes have said, “There’s a position open.” I’m like, “Okay but I can’t do that. I’ve never done that before.” I remember a woman hiring me at a company. I had come out of a marketing role and I was moving into a product management role, and I was going through all the interviews great and I finally was sitting with the lead boss and I just said to her, “You know I’ve never done this before, right? I just want to make sure no one’s pulling the wool over your eyes.” And she said, “I knew that but I can tell by your skill set that you can do it.”
Those are the kinds of things that we’ve got to make sure that we’re taking away the barriers of someone having less confidence in themselves to do it. So yeah, it is simple things like that. But sometimes the words you use. College degree required, 10 years of experience. Nice to have. Well, is it nice to have or do I have to have 10 years? Or, is two years but on a trajectory, does that help? All these different nuances that can happen, so we really got to look at how do we do that and is it a job description? Do we start to use social media to differentiate how the jobs go or to show what a job is. We’re trying to do things like what’s a day in the life of a job at TD Ameritrade looks like so that people can get more empowered, to see what it looks like to be in the office, talk to associates, whether it’s Instagram or Facebook and get their stories out there.
Hannah: Oh, that’s great. Let’s talk about new planners and the incredible town that’s coming into our profession right now.
Kate: It’s amazing.
Hannah: I’m blown away when I talk to them.
Kate: Seriously.
Hannah: It’s absolutely incredible.
Kate: And I love how you don’t consider yourself a new planner anymore.
Hannah: Oh, gosh.
Kate: It’s just a few years ago.
Hannah: Oh my gosh, I know. As you’ve been traveling around the country and feeling your role with TD Ameritrade and meet all these new planners, what have you been most impressed by?
Kate: You know, they’re so bright. They’re so bright and they’re so passionate. What I love is the passion that they have for financial planning but more importantly for their clients. That is what drives. We’re here at FPA Retreat and you think about the passion that is encapsulated in this place here. They have that 10-fold. They’re so passionate about helping their clients in the way that applies to them now. Not just, “How do I manage your assets?” It’s “How do I help you get to a point where you’ll have assets? How do we get you through the student debt problems, the worrying about how you pick your retirement plans, is this the right time for you to move across the country to take that job?” They’re coming up with new service offerings that we’ve probably needed in this profession for years to be able to deal with more people.
So many people don’t go to a financial advisor because they don’t have money. They think, “I can’t afford to pay for them.” Or, “They’re going to laugh at me if I walk into their office with the tiny amount of assets or retirement plan assets that I have.” New planners, the fact that they have a degree in financial planning has put them at the forefront from a knowledge perspective. I think so many of them are doing a great job of being mentored or finding mentors or mentoring other people to learn more about it. I’ve been coming to retreat for seven or eight years now and the past two or three years really seeing so many more young advisors here, it’s fantastic.
That shows me that not only are they passionate about it but they know they need to learn and they’re learning from the best. I think that they’re elevating this profession. They’re doing the right things and their feelings on the inclusion part of who should be in this profession and who this profession should provide for is going to be a hallmark of how we finally break through and create much more awareness about not only what a great career this is but what a need this is and how important this is for all Americans to have some financial planning to help them with their financial futures.
Hannah: Yeah, the innovation. Has anything surprised you?
Kate: Yeah. Tons of things. I think the students. I spend a lot of time with students. How quickly the financial planning programs are growing I think is fantastic. We’ve been bringing students to our conference for nine years now and the first year we brought 10 students. This year we had 56 students and it never ceased to amaze me how smart they are.
One of the things that surprises me still is that advisors aren’t engaging with them as much as they should. We had all these advisors at our conference last year and we provide opportunities for advisors to network with them. All their resumes are on our, we have a resume portal, Ranextgen.com. I had an advisor call me a week after the conference say, “Kate, I know you had all the students there but I really didn’t talk to them and I need a next gen financial advisor.” I was like, “Are you kidding? There were 55 of them in a room that you were invited to.” He was like, “I know, I just didn’t think.”
It surprises me that advisors aren’t thinking ahead from a strategic perspective. There should always be a pipeline of talent. You should always be looking for talent and you should always be talking to someone. Not enough of them are going to the universities and forming relationships with the program directors, because the program directors are fantastic. They know all the students. The programs aren’t that big. They know all the students, what their strengths are, what kind of firms they’re going to do well in and provide. It’s your personal pipeline of talent. So, it surprises me that advisors aren’t as far ahead as I would love them to be in hiring that talent.
Hannah: And those program directors, they give the best of the best.
Kate: They do, they really do.
Hannah: When you have those relationships.
Kate: They do. Yeah. Absolutely.
Hannah: What are the industry trends or professional trends that new planners need to know or need to be aware of?
Kate: There’s so much going on. The regulatory world is never going to go away. We have DOL, we don’t have DOL. It’s fiduciary, it’s SCC fiduciary now. I’m not an expert on it but that’s something that you have to keep in contact with whether it’s your custodian, your broker dealer, whoever it is you work with to make sure you’re on the right side of that. The associations, I know FPA and NAPFA have a coalition and do so much around advocacy. That is not going away and it’s not going to get any less complicated.
But technology is really interesting. There’s so much technology, there’s so many ways to use it. I mentioned we were at this off-site and we were actually talking a lot of artificial intelligence, augmented reality and how we can use hta.t I think that there’s such a way for financial planners to be able to work with so many more people and in a much more relevant way. I just came from a panel session where we talked about financial advice isn’t a quarterly meeting. It has to be integrated in someone’s life in all the moments that are going to matter for them. I think that really paying attention to what’s going on in the technology front and not being afraid of it.
It is frightening, some of it. What do you mean, are all our jobs going to go away? It’s not. We’re always going to have a need for humans. Jobs are going to evolve. I think technology is going to help us get to more people and be able to democratize financial planning in many ways. I think that there is so much going on. It’s important for advisors to not be afraid of that. I know sometimes you’re in your office and you’re overwhelmed. You’re running your business, you’re managing your employees and all of that and then there’s this big world out there where things are happening. We’ve got self-driving cars and Amazon’s going to drop your packages off in your car trunk and all of these different things. It’s how do you take a look at that and think about, “How can I take the technology out there to enhance my client experience and to make sure that my clients are getting the best holistic financial planning they can?”
Hannah: It’s that same innovation and curiosity that’s been a hallmark of your career. That’s really going to help new planners as they navigate this.
Kate: Yeah, absolutely.
Hannah: We’ve talked about this a little, but how do you see new planners shaping the profession?
Kate: I think just by the sheer demographics that are going to happen, which is exciting because I think there’s so many efforts going on to create a more diverse financial planning workforce. We need to do all of those. By no means do I mean that demographics is going to fix it because it’s not, but it’s going to help. It’s funny, one of the things we talked about yesterday. We were just talking about there’s some apps that will help you age to see what you look like at 60 and 70 and it makes it easier for people to visualize why they should save for retirement because it’s a hard concept. If you’re 25 years old, the money that you need at age 70 isn’t a real concept. Showing you what you would look like then makes you start to think about if I’m 70, I’m going to need money. How do I get that?
I started to think, God, I would love to take that app and instead show people what the world is going to look in 2045 because it’s going to look so vastly different, even America, then it does today. By 2045, there will be no majority of race in this country. There will be all minorities. We will al become a minority. There will be no majority. So think about that. Think about what your neighborhood is going to look like, your financial planning business is going to look like. The world, your clients, your neighbors, everyone is going to look so different. Do you really want to miss out on that because you don’t want to take some of the pain right now to hire more diverse people into your business? You’re giving up. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s an imperative for your business because the world is going to look so different. It’s important to think about what your world is going to look like. It’s not that far away. Five, 10, 15, 20 years. That’s less than a generation. It’s really important for advisors to think about how different the world is going to look.
Hannah: We’ve been doing a history of financial planning series-
Kate: That’s so cool.
Hannah: Yeah. We’ll air them on the podcast. It’s so interesting to hear all these older planners talk about how much change they’ve seen in their career.
Kate: Yeah.
Hannah: It’s like, oh my God, these new planners are coming out. The change that they’re going to see in their career is going to be possibly just as much or even more.
Kate: I feel like at the rate of change even more so. I think about my career from the mid-80s to now. Okay, God, I’m dating myself but I was one of the few people in my company to have a computer in 1986. They sent the board of directors to watch us because we had our own computers. There weren’t a lot of innovations. Okay, then we got email, then we got somethings. But the speed of which change has happened in I would say even the last five years is so incrementally outrages compared to what it was for the first 20 years. I think that is just going to continue.
I don’t know if you follow singularity concept at all or things about that. It’s the expansion of Moore’s law and how fast things are going to go and the architecture and the integration of technology and medical, all of that. Why we’re going to live to 140 years and all those kinds of things. This rate of change is no longer progressing at 1X, 2X. It is 10X, it’s 100X. People have to be prepared for change because that is not going away and it’s something that we all have to get used to.
Hannah: In the context of new planners, what do say new planners need to know today?
Kate: They need to know that they have a great skillset but that there’s a lot that they can still learn from the advisors who came about this a different way. We might have learned on the job, they probably learned in a sales role, but there’s some great relationship management and business management that they can continue to learn from them. I think it’s imperative. When we’re young, we all get frustrated with anyone who’s blocking our path to the top or someone who might be trying to school us on some things. We need to also be a little patient. It’s smart to be patient, to say there is a value to advisors who we can learn from.
The world is different. The world now is such a different world than the one that they started in, so change might be a bit slower for them but advisors will get there. It can be imperative for the younger advisors to help advisors that they may be working for and show them. It’s not easy. Think about when you show your parents the iPhone or how to text, how to get on social media, all those kinds of things. There might be a bit of a longer learning curve, but it’s going to be beneficial for everyone. I think there’s a lot of synergies between the maturity and the business and having seen cycles and human emotions through all different stages of someone’s life that can be really helpful and having a younger advisor help bring in other aspects and their point of view to that is useful.
Hannah: You’re not only an advocate for young planners but you’re also very much for people who are outside of where we are today. That includes women and a lot of the diversity inclusion.
Kate: Yeah.
Hannah: And so this topic unfortunately can be really divisive and it’s one where I’ve heard people say that the inclusion feels like exclusion.
Kate: Yeah.
Hannah: I’ve heard that several times from people. “I’m not a woman, this doesn’t apply to me. Why do you keep harping about women? I’m important too.” What would you say to people who don’t fall into those categories of women or larger diversity?
Kate: It’s hard. It’s not that we don’t want them. I always tell people I want women in this profession, I want men in this profession. We need more people in this profession. We’re going to be short 10,000 advisors by 2020. The financial planning programs alone are not enough to graduate enough students to come into financial planning so we need a large scale. But when you think about the different diverse audiences and that women control so much wealth, we have to have people with different points of view. It’s important. We don’t want to be exclusionary to anyone.
I spoke last year and I asked all the men in the audience to ask permission but to join the women’s initiatives at their firm because it’s not fair for us as women to say we’re going to do this, we need your help. A lot of times men are in leadership roles, but a lot of times they don’t know what the issues are because we haven’t told them, so it’s not fair to say there’s this help that we need. One of the things that I do, TD Ameritrade is the lead founding sponsor for the Center for Financial Planning and we do a lot with the women’s counsel, the diversity counsel and the workforce development counsel. Last year, there were 1,250 new women CFP’s. It’s an incredible number. It’s something to be proud of.
But, it didn’t move the percentage. Some people were a little disappointed that there wasn’t growth and I said, “Are you kidding? That means there were just as many new male, and more male from a percentage perspective, advisors. That’s awesome. Think of all the new CFP’s we got. We want women, we want men, we want folks of diversity. We’ve got to work together and figure out how do we all help each other to raise each other up? We’re nowhere near a point where we’re taking jobs away from anybody to give it to anyone else. I think most people believe in meritocracy but there are things that … There are gaps from a people perspective that we’ve got to fill in the numbers and I think we can all learn from each other.
I talked a little about that fear of missing out, but you really need to have all diverse points of view to help you build out a financial planning practice. I hear people say that. A couple times I’ve actually asked people to change the title of some of our sessions to say it’s not a women’s session or it’s not this because men need to hear the message too. We shouldn’t be exclusionary. We can’t shut people out. We’re doing a session here after this on diversity in this business and I would love to have the room filled with men and hear their thoughts. We’re all in this together, right? How do we help each other deal with this and make sure that we’re getting the right diversity in here.
Really, diversity is one piece of it but how are we making sure that they feel included and that we’re hearing their voices and they have a seat at the table? Because that’s really where you shift the power and the balance of power. We all get smarter. Harvard has done studies on teams with high IQ’s actually perform less well than teams that have women on them. That probably sounded bad the way I just said it, but adding women to a team makes a team collectively smarter. That’s just science, so why wouldn’t we do that? Why wouldn’t we have women on a team to make it smarter? We probably need to do that same research around people of color, minorities, folks coming in from other careers. All of those different viewpoints are adding to the viewpoints of all your clients and matching that.
Hannah: You have more points to make a better decision.
Kate: Yes, exactly.
Hannah: There’s been a lot of talk. Women in finance has been an ongoing, many year conversation-
Kate: Yes.
Hannah: What can we do, or rather, what have you found that other professionals are doing that’s really help move the needle in this regard?
Kate: You know, I think one of the most important things that we need to do as women is to talk about it. Tell your story. I say this, I stole it from Cathleen McGuigan. I think she stole it from someone else, but you can’t be what you don’t see. So if you don’t know that you could be a financial planner as a woman, it’s never going to be a career that you’re going to look for. I’m really gratified by … There were 400 WIN advocates who, it’s over 400 now I think, who are mentoring women taking the CFP exam. It’s a much great number.
We’re actually going out and speaking to groups of women, girl scouts, school programs, to talk about what they do and to talk about that professional to raise that awareness level. Right now, there’s a great session going on at the University of Akron. Barry Mulholland is doing diversity summit. What I love is he’s brought in the people who are the decision makers, who help students figure out what their career should be. He’s gotten guidance counselors, he has girl scout leaders, he has all the people in there who can help influence someone in the career that they have.
I think the more that we all talk about this career that it’s phenomenal for women and showcase women. You know, the CFP pro campaign where we’re showing diverse millennial women and men in this career so people can visualize themselves and say, “This could be something I could do.” Because if you don’t see it, if you don’t see someone in your world, if you don’t have a financial planner, if your parents don’t have one, if your neighbor isn’t a financial planner, you have no knowledge that this exists. It’s never going to be something that you’re going to look and aspire to.
Hannah: Well, the population of how many clients are served by financial planners right now is so small.
Kate: It’s so small. That’s why I believe that none of this is competition. There’s such room for so many more people in this profession: for women, for men, for minorities, for people coming back to work. It’s a great place for people.
Hannah: You mentioned WIN advocates. Can you talk about that program and what it is?
Kate: Yeah. The WIN advocates, it’s part of the CFP Board’s, the Center for Financial Planning, and they actually equip the advocates with presentations, talking points, things like that so if they want to go out and talk to somebody, they don’t have to think, “I want to do this but what do I say?” Here’s a presentation that you can do. The CFP board put it together and it’s slides that talk about what you do, this profession, why it’s so advantageous to women, how you can do well.
We find that so many people who enter this profession think about it because they want to help people. They go into sociology or they go into psychology or some other field because they didn’t know about this. Once they learn about it then they realize they can do well, help people and make money. It’s a way for them to raise awareness at their local level because we’re doing a lot of efforts at the Center for Financial Planning, at TD Ameritrade, each company is doing things collectively, which is awesome, but this still needs to be a grassroots effort.
Each one of us has to talk to our daughters, our nieces, our clients daughters and sons and folks of color, people that are not in this profession and don’t know about it to just share the story because they don’t know about it. The more that we can each do and tell people … I’m trying to convince my hairdresser right now to become a financial planner because I’ve watched her do this and help out her parents. She has such a caring … She wants to help people and she’s really upped her game on financial concepts and all of that. I’m like, “You could start to take some classes and study for this. You’re still going to have to do my hair, but you can be a financial advisor.”
Hannah: You know, I heard somebody say that if we all brought one person in, we’d have 80,000 more CFP’s.
Kate: Oh, Hannah. It seems so easy, doesn’t it? Why don’t we all just do that? Probably won’t fit here at Wigwam, but why don’t we all just do that? One more person. Everybody just bring one and then they bring one and they bring one. That’s really what we have to do.
Hannah: Is there anything else with the Center for Financial Planning that you want to highlight or any other work that you’re doing right now that you want to focus and showcase?
Kate: Yeah. At the Center for Financial Planning, we started out with doing the women’s initiative. That probably started three or four years ago, even before the center had really taken shape. We started with research. I think it’s so important. We did the research and we sponsored a white paper and a lot of it was like, yeah, no kidding. We know women don’t come in the professional and we know some of the reasons why. They don’t like the commission sales structure. They’re not aware of the profession. They think there’s a bias to them. But we laid it all out and that enabled us to start to develop these programs like the WIN advocates and the WIN mentoring program. Doing that gives you a pathway.
What I’m excited about is I’m on the diversity committee as well and over the past year, we’ve been doing research on the lack of diverse CFP’s in the profession. Next month, the CFP board will be releasing some of that data to talk about the research that we found in why there are not more people of color in this profession, why they’re not coming into the profession. Very similar to that, what are those things? I’m sure when we see the research findings, we’re going to say, “That’s not a big surprise.” But what it’s going to do is help us build out a road map to say, “While it’s not a surprise, now we know this is really what it is and we can start to quantify it and then start to develop programs to mitigate it. Whether it’s mentorship or whatever the things that we decide we need to do are, we now have a path that we can start to create. We can start to see that.
Four years ago, that’s what we did and last year we had 1,250 new women CFP’s. I am excited for what we’ll do from a diversity perspective. A lot of people working on this but I think just getting it out there because there hasn’t been a lot of research. There’s not a lot of transparency into that. We use the CFP as the conduit to say, “Okay, this is the number of financial planners.” But there isn’t a lot of research around it. Kudos to them for doing this. We’re really glad to support it but I think it’s going to help us all. There’s going to be some hard discussions. It’s not an easy task that we have. It’s hard. There’s a lot of reasons that are probably not good as to why there aren’t more folks of color in this profession. But we need to get past that and then start to create programs to change that going forward.
Hannah: You know, we have all these conversations and it’s all very much that there’s so much work to do-
Kate: There is.
Hannah: Going forward. But could I have you reflect on the work, on the progress that we have made?
Kate: Yeah. It’s hard. I often said this is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. It’s going to take a long time and it’s hard work. It’s movement, right? This is something and we’re seeing it throughout this country. It’s happening all around, but it is hard work and it takes courage, it takes guts, it takes emotions, you know? You have to figure out how to have the right conversations, how to do the right thing and do it in the right way. We sometimes talk about getting into a room and saying, “Look, I want to have a conversation and I don’t want to offend anyone so let’s just put it out there right now. I may say some things that might offend you and I don’t mean to do that, but let’s have that honest dialogue to go forward.”
Because Hannah, you hit it. This is hard. It’s really hard and there are people who are so dedicated and committed to helping this. The diversity committee that the CFP board put together is phenomenal. We’ve met a couple of times to get ready to do this research and it’s just really powerful hearing people’s stories. I think we’re going to start to hear more and more of that. I think that’s going to help people understand the journey that we’re taking and come along for that journey. We’re not going to get there in five years, but we’re going to see a lot of progress. To your point, we do probably have to take a step back every once in a while and say, “This is progress. This is great to see. How do we start to reward that by showcasing the progress that we’ve made more so that more people see that and there is that multiple kid effect. Everybody bring one in.”
Hannah: What’s your hope for the future of financial planning?
Kate: I just want to see even more people in it. I think being able to offer financial planning to Americans is so needed. It’s always been something that I think is important to families. It’s what holds them together, it’s what advances the family, grows the family. I really also want people to know this is a career that students are clamoring to get in. It’s providing a service to everyone, but it’s a fulfilling career. You can’t feel better than about helping, other than saving a life, but helping people to live their best life by knowing how to use their finances as a tool to help them get there.
Hannah: Just in talking to you and hearing your passion about this, it sounds like there’s something greater that really drives you or is what motivates you. What’s your motivation in the morning? What makes you get up and be excited about your job?
Kate: I just think … To your point, taking a look back every once in a while and seeing that there is progress made, right? I talked about a little of the pipeline when I got into this business it didn’t seem so non-diverse if you will. Then I realized that it was but what I love, when I take a look at all the people that are working on this now. Half of us are competitors. This isn’t an TD Ameritrade issue. This is everyone, and we’re all working together and figure out that how we can help change the face of financial planning. So I love that it’s not competitive. We’ll get into a room with people from different business models and different companies, all of that, but we’re all in it together because so many people are passionate about making this change. I think that’s what is really special about the work that we’re doing.
Hannah: It’s about building a profession.
Kate: Exactly.
Hannah: And that super suits any business model, anything. It’s about a profession.
Kate: Exactly. We’re light years away from competing to the level where we’re … We have talent shortages now, but the more awareness that we raise, that’s going to help alleviate that.
Hannah: Absolutely. Is there anything else?
Kate: No, this has been so much fun, Hannah.
Hannah: Oh, good.
Kate: Thank you so much.
Hannah: Yeah.
Kate: I’m so excited to be on my first podcast. I don’t know if you know this.
Hannah: Oh, really?
Kate: So I hope I wasn’t too nervous but this was the first podcast I’ve ever done.
Hannah: Oh, that’s awesome.
Kate: Very cool.
Hannah: Where can people find you?
Kate: The airport.

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Kate Healy is a wonder woman whose life’s work has furthered the financial planning profession and served advisors in countless ways. It’s safe to say - she’s one of the leading voices in the world of finance, Kate Healy is a wonder woman whose life’s work has furthered the financial planning profession and served advisors in countless ways. She was nominated as one of Investment Advisor magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential People in the Industry and one of Investment News’s inaugural “Women to Watch.” It’s safe to say – she’s one of the leading voices in the world of finance, and she’s an incredible advocate for new planners in this profession.
Through TD Ameritrade’s NextGen program, Kate is helping to build a support system for new planners who are already engaged with the financial profession, as well as financial planning students who represent the next generation of planning.
In this episode, Kate talks about the importance of supporting diversity in our profession, encouraging young planners, and communicating the value of financial planning to every generation.


 
What You’ll Learn:

How young planners are getting involved, creating awareness, and changing the industry
How Kate Healy supports the financial planning profession
The ways that a financial planner’s passion can make a difference both in the profession and in the lives of their clients
How seasoned advisors can look ahead, connect with program directors, and always be searching for next generation talent

 
TD Ameritrade Institutional Welcomes Applications for 2018 NextGen Financial Planning Scholarships & Grants
RIA NextGen Career Exchange
 
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Hannah Moore clean 43:58
Tools to Help Facilitate Financial Health http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-tools-to-help-facilitate-financial-health/ Tue, 24 Apr 2018 13:00:19 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11190 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-tools-to-help-facilitate-financial-health/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-tools-to-help-facilitate-financial-health/feed/ 0 Dr. Brad Klontz and Derek Lawson have worked together to integrate behavioral finance, financial therapy, and financial psychology into the world of financial planning. Their research is guiding advisors everywhere to add a deeper level of value to the lives of their clients - and they want to help you do the same! Dr. Brad Klontz and Derek Lawson won the prestigious Montgomery-Warschauer award for their paper on Integrating Behavioral Finance, Financial Psychology and Financial Therapy in the 6 Step Financial Planning Process. The award goes to the researchers who wrote the paper with the most outstanding contribution to the betterment of the profession in the prior year.

Dr. Klontz and Derek Lawson’s research not only brings together three different areas of financial behavior, but they practically discuss how you can use these three disciplines to improve your financial planning skills and service to your clients. Their research is guiding advisors everywhere to add a deeper level of value to the lives of their clients.

The deeper purpose of financial planning is to help a client improve their financial health – which has multiple components. It’s more than setting up the right insurance, retirement plan, and investment vehicles put into place. As advisors, we seek to empower our clients to make decisions that lead to financial security and fulfillment.

This is where financial therapy and behavioral finance comes in. By understanding a client’s mental approach to their money, you can help them live financially healthy lives that extends beyond the dollars and cents.

hannah's signature

How do you facilitate a client moving through the financial planning process and keeping them on track? What do you do when you give a client a solid piece of advice, and they resist it?

Click to share

 

What You’ll Learn:

  • What is the difference between financial advice and financial planning?
  • What is the difference between behavioral finance, financial therapy, and financial psychology?
  • How can financial planners integrate behavioral finance or financial therapy into their practice?
  • Specific skills and strategies you can start implementing today to integrate the best practices of behavioral finance, financial therapy and financial psychology today.
  • How does financial planning extend beyond your client’s financial life?

 

Financial Therapy Association

Integrating Behavioral Finance, Financial Psychology, and Financial Therapy into the 6-Step Financial Planning Process by Derek R. Lawson, CFP®; and Bradley T. Klontz, Psy.D., CFP®

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dr. Brad Klontz and Derek Lawson have worked together to integrate behavioral finance, financial therapy, and financial psychology into the world of financial planning. Their research is guiding advisors everywhere to add a deeper level of value to the... Dr. Brad Klontz and Derek Lawson won the prestigious Montgomery-Warschauer award for their paper on Integrating Behavioral Finance, Financial Psychology and Financial Therapy in the 6 Step Financial Planning Process. The award goes to the researchers who wrote the paper with the most outstanding contribution to the betterment of the profession in the prior year.
Dr. Klontz and Derek Lawson’s research not only brings together three different areas of financial behavior, but they practically discuss how you can use these three disciplines to improve your financial planning skills and service to your clients. Their research is guiding advisors everywhere to add a deeper level of value to the lives of their clients.
The deeper purpose of financial planning is to help a client improve their financial health – which has multiple components. It’s more than setting up the right insurance, retirement plan, and investment vehicles put into place. As advisors, we seek to empower our clients to make decisions that lead to financial security and fulfillment.
This is where financial therapy and behavioral finance comes in. By understanding a client’s mental approach to their money, you can help them live financially healthy lives that extends beyond the dollars and cents.


 
What You’ll Learn:

What is the difference between financial advice and financial planning?
What is the difference between behavioral finance, financial therapy, and financial psychology?
How can financial planners integrate behavioral finance or financial therapy into their practice?
Specific skills and strategies you can start implementing today to integrate the best practices of behavioral finance, financial therapy and financial psychology today.
How does financial planning extend beyond your client’s financial life?

 
Financial Therapy Association
Integrating Behavioral Finance, Financial Psychology, and Financial Therapy into the 6-Step Financial Planning Process by Derek R. Lawson, CFP®; and Bradley T. Klontz, Psy.D., CFP®
 

 
 
 
 
 
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Hannah Moore clean 1:04:17
Forming Partnerships, Starting Your Own Business, and Planning Mindfully http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-forming-partnerships-starting-your-own-business-and-planning-mindfully/ Tue, 17 Apr 2018 12:00:29 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11159 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-forming-partnerships-starting-your-own-business-and-planning-mindfully/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-forming-partnerships-starting-your-own-business-and-planning-mindfully/feed/ 0 Anne McCabe Triana, CFP®, CRPC®, has been in the financial services industry for over ten years. Her experience as a financial planner in a larger firm, as well as with starting her own financial planning firm, has taught her so much about the financial planning process and about being a business owner. Anne McCabe Triana, CFP®, CRPC®, has been in the financial services profession for over ten years. Having started straight out of school and having to immediately find her own clients, she shares what she learned through that experience and what she learned in that process. Her experience as a financial planner in a larger firm, as well as with starting her own financial planning firm, has taught her much about the financial planning process and about being a business owner.

In her practice today, Anne looks at the behavioral aspect of financial planning with her clients. Understanding the emotions that play into personal finance, and how to navigate clients through tough economic times, has been a critical component to her business’s success. Anne shares how she came up with her company name, Curo, and how important truly caring for her clients has been in building strong client relationships.

Over the course of this #YAFPNW episode, we’re going to talk about the evolution of running a financial planning firm, how “down” markets might actually be better for business, and how to provide the best experience to your clients.

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People hire you because of you, they don’t hire you because of the company behind you. – @AnneDayMcCabe

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What You’ll Learn:

  • How to know you’re ready to transition to business ownership
  • Ways to improve your client’s experience
  • How to draw from your past experiences moving into unknown financial planning territory
  • Why you should always be adding value to the lives of your prospects – even if they’re not ready to sign on with you right now
  • How behavioral finance plays into your financial planning
  • Why a “down” market may be better for your financial planning business
  • How to navigate client emotions when dealing with money
  • How to manage client relationships when transitioning to a new role within your firm or because you’re starting a new practice
  • How to reinforce that YOU are the value when working with your clients
  • How your marketing plan can and should change as your business matures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show Transcript

Ep94 Transcript


Hannah: Thank for joining us today, Anne.

Anne: Thank you for having me, Hannah.

Hannah: I am really excited for people to hear your story, but how did you get into the financial planning and wealth management business?

Anne: I randomly fell into it right out of college. I worked in banking right after I graduated high school and throughout college, and when I graduated college I had an idea of what I think I would do, and that was to work in economic development in Latin America. I studied Latin American Studies and Economics in college. I speak Spanish fluently, so I’ve always been drawn to Latin America and I thought that I would go down there and work on economic development.

I had a professor in college who sat down with me when I was about to graduate and asked me what my plans were, and he actually worked for the Inter-American Development Bank, which is like the World Bank but just focused in Latin America. Long story short, he basically told me that he didn’t think that I should go in that direction because he thought that I would be very unhappy with the bureaucracy that is part of that organization, just economic development in Latin America in general.

I did, at that point, what every college student who is completely lost did, I put my resume online and waited for companies to call me. I had some interesting opportunities, but the one that really caught my attention was from, at that time, American Express Financial Advisors, which very shortly after became Ameriprise Financial.

I went in for an interview. There were probably 60 other people there for the interview. It was a whole process, but that is, inevitably, how I ended up becoming an advisor. I was offered the job and went to study for my licenses and then went into production.

Hannah: So when you went into production was it one of the deals where you’re supposed to make a list of your 200 closest family and friends and start with them?

Anne: It was, but I did not do that. I made the list, but I didn’t feel right going to my family and friends knowing that I knew absolutely nothing. I really took to cold-calling and doing these lunch presentations that we would do, and I hustled as much as I possibly could so that they wouldn’t actually force me to touch base with my friends and family. I’m lucky that I didn’t actually have to use that as a marketing strategy, but it absolutely was very much one of the main marketing strategies that they preferred.

Hannah: What did that look like when you’re talking about hustling and cold-calling? What was that like? I’m assuming you’re 22, 23 at this point?

Anne: I was 22. Yeah, I was 22. It looks like a lot of hours and a lot of nos. You had to develop a very thick skin over a very short period of time because remember, you actually really don’t know anything. You’re on the phone calling people who are decades older than you because we were really trying to focus on people who were thinking about retirement, and you sound like you’re 12. You have the knowledge level of a 12 year old for financial services. So it’s really, really challenging.

I look back to some of the initial clients that I acquired and that still work with me today. First of all, I’m just in awe at their generosity, and I’m grateful that they gave me an opportunity, but I think really the only reason they gave me an opportunity is because somewhere deep down they knew that I was a good person, and I was an honest person, and I wasn’t going to try to hurt them in any way.

But, aside from that, there’s not really a lot of compelling reasons to … that I could look back on anyway, for someone to hire me. It was really, really challenging.

Hannah: What kept you going? I’ve heard lots of stories where people were just saying, “I can’t. I can’t do this”, but what kept you doing that?

Anne: Yeah, that’s a really, really good question, and it’s something I’ve reflected on a lot because I can tell you that multiple times in my first three years probably, I was one day away from calling it quits. Multiple times I can tell you that it just was so hard. I was working so many hours. I wasn’t making a lot of money. I had this question a lot of times, “What am I doing? Is all this worth it?” The only thing that kept me going was I would acquire a new client, and I would make a promise to this client, and I would get excited about working on their case. Again, I would be so grateful that they were entrusting their financial planning to me, that that was the only thing that stopped me from quitting.

Because I had just made this commitment, just made this promise to this family or this individual who had hired me, how could I disappoint them and how could I quit at that point? I look back and you add up one client acquisition with another client acquisition with another client acquisition, and it just got me through. I think probably around year three or four, I finally started feeling a little more confident in what I was doing.

Hannah: That confidence in what you were doing, did that just come from experience? How did you get better at doing investments or financial planning?

Anne: I made it a point to educate myself as much as I possibly could. I had a mentor early on who I am so very close with to this day, and he said to me, “You’re not going to be able to know everything.” He had been in the business for probably 20 years at that point, and he was telling me even 20 years in, he would learn new things on a regular basis.

He first said, “Try not to learn everything right away because you’re just not going to be able to do that. And if you spend all day reading and trying to learn everything you possibly can about the industry, that means you’re not out trying to meet people. And if you’re not out trying to meet people, you’re not going to be acquiring clients, you’re not going to have anyone to share this knowledge with, and you’re going to fail out of the business.”

I tried to balance my thirst for wanting to know as much as I possibly can and learning and growing, with also making sure I was actually out there talking to people. But I would spend my weekends reading magazines like Barron’s, and I would read The Wall Street Journal every morning, and just try to immerse myself in the vocabulary. I wanted to be able to know what was going on and be able to have intelligent conversations with people when I met them.

I think, for me, it was a balance of wanting to learn and spending my free time really reading books and magazines and articles about the industry, but also not spending that precious time during the day that I could have been on the phones cold-calling or I could have been doing a lunch presentation or out networking.

Hannah: You talked about the, you said 60 or 90 people who went in for that interview. How many of the people that you started with were still in the business in three years?

Anne: Oh, gosh. Probably … definitely less than 10. I want to say probably seven or so of us were still there of my class, yeah, after three years. Most of the people would actually leave the industry, they would go into a completely different direction. Some people left being an advisor and went to get a job that was still in the industry, but I would say most people got burnt out from the industry, and just had a very bad taste in their mouth and became a teacher or went into a completely different industry.

Hannah: Now you’ve been in financial services for 10-plus years at this point?

Anne: Yeah, I’ve been in since I’ve been in production, a licensed advisor, about 12 years, plus my banking experience. But, again, I started that right out of high school.

Hannah: Looking back now at the cold-calling, what are your thoughts on that? Is that an effective way to start a business today?

Anne: It’s not.

Hannah: What would you change if you were starting over tomorrow?

Anne: It’s just not. Let’s just me real. I’m sure you get cold-called all the time. I do, too. No, i just … If you’re not coming to me with a warm referral introduction. Occasionally I’ll get a compelling email that grabs my attention that’s a cold email, but am I ever taking action on it? No, because I have no idea who this person is who’s reaching out to me.

No, if I were starting now today, I think absolutely cold-calling is not the way to do it. Even when I started, so I went into production in 2006. That was the beginning of the Do Not Call lists becoming really popular, and people figuring that out. I think that even when I was cold-calling, it probably looking back wasn’t the most effective use of my time.

But, again, I didn’t want to go to my natural market so I was very motivated to make cold-calling work. I don’t know how many hundreds of dials I would make on a daily basis, but we had this whole matrix of how many meetings we had to schedule or how many dials we had to make, and we had to report on the numbers on a weekly basis. I’m also pretty competitive, so I never wanted to walk into that Friday morning meeting looking like a slacker. I made sure that I hit my numbers on a weekly basis.

But, no, I think if I were starting today, cold-calling would not be the way I would market.

Hannah: That’s funny. We’ll talk a little bit more about what you transitioned to away from cold-calling, and what that transition looked like for you, but I’m interested. So you started production in 2006, so 2008 was just two years away, so you hit that in your second or third year of the great recession. What was that like as a young advisor? What did you learn through that process?

Anne: It’s almost inexplicable just how difficult and challenging and chaotic that time was, but I look back at that time, and I’m so grateful for that experience so early on in my career. This was a once in most of our lifetime, hopefully, our lifetime experiences from a recession and a market selloff perspective. I just remember complete and utter chaos and fear. I remember portfolios. From 2006 to the top of 2007, so about a year, every investment I put my clients in had done well. If you looked at Morningstar reports looking back, sure, there were years here and there where things were down. 2001 was obviously a challenging year for the market perspective but, for the most part, things looked really rosy on Morningstar reports.

To answer your question about what I learned, I think first I learned to be very, very sensitive to the downside. I saw in real life how losing money actually hurts more than making money feels good. It’s one of the behavioral finance principles. People do not like that feeling of losing money, and they get really terrified.

The other thing I learned was to help people try to manage their emotions. I had a client during the financial crisis, no joke, every single Friday he would call me, every single Friday, and he would try to convince me of why we needed to sell out of his portfolio and go to cash. And every Friday I would have this conversation with him and I’d walk him off the ledge until the Friday, he would call again and we’d have the conversation.

Learning how to help people deal with the emotional aspect of investing and financial planning was one of the largest takeaways I had from that time. And it’s one of the things that I use on a daily basis still today.

Hannah: When you say that financial planning and you use that on a daily basis, what do you mean? Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Anne: Sure. If you are familiar with behavioral finance, which is this fascinating, relatively new body of research in our industry, it’s basically the difference between logically what we know we should do from a financial perspective and emotionally how we actually end up reacting. If you take a market downturn, for example, especially the worst downturn in any of our lifetimes, logically, you’ve heard a million times before, “Oh, you should buy low and you should sell high.” So if the market’s selling off, you shouldn’t be thinking about selling, you should be thinking about buying.

Logically you know that that’s what you are “supposed” to do, but what happens is, fear and very strong emotions come into play and they make you scared and they make you, or they allow you, if you let them, they allow you to make decisions that are completely the opposite of what you’re supposed to do. It’s helping clients take a step back and take a pause and take a deep breath and assess the situation objectively and try to make educated, logical decisions and try not to make emotional decisions.

Hannah: You go through that experience and were you able to find clients in the market downturn, or were you more just helping your current clients manage that process?

Anne: Actually, it was one of the most amazing client acquisition times of my career, which is maybe counterintuitive, but I think, it’s my opinion that when the market goes down, our client acquisition actually goes up. Right now, you can be a monkey and you can throw a dart at a dartboard, and you can make money. It is not hard to make money in the markets right now. People who are either doing their own investments, they’re do-it-yourselfers, and they’re feeling like, “Oh my gosh. This money management thing, this investment thing is a breeze. I should open a hedge fund, I’m so good.” They feel like they’ve got it because everything is going up.

When the market goes down, you have people who are do-it-yourself investors all of a sudden realizing, “Oh, man. Maybe I should get professional help.” And then you also have people who have been working with their advisor for a while and they’re not so dissatisfied that they’re motivated to make a change, but they’re just blah about the relationship. It’s going to take something like the market selling off and the advisor not returning phone calls or not proactively communicating. It’s going to take something like that to motivate them to make a change.

Back to the financial crisis, you had a combination of clients who were potentially managing their own investments and lost a lot of money. They were maybe fully invested in stocks and lost 38% or so in 2008, or you had people who were dissatisfied with their advisor, but it took something dramatic like a financial crisis to motivate them to make a change. I had amazing client acquisition during that time.

I tell advisors today, I’m looking forward to the next selloff because number one: we can buy things a little bit cheaper than we’re able to get them now and number two: there’s going to be so much money movement, it’s going to be an amazing opportunity from a practice growth perspective as well.

Hannah: I love that perspective. How do we position our companies well? And again, like you said, it all comes back down to client servicing and doing what’s best for our clients.

Anne: It does. It does. It also is about proactively talking to prospective clients right now who may not be motivated to make a change, but you want to be the first call that they make when they are motivated to make a change, for whatever that reason is. You want to make sure that you are in front of them so that when the market sells off or when their advisor screws up for the last time or doesn’t return a phone call, that you’re the first person they think of in your position.

That client may not come over today or tomorrow, but that will be your client in the near future for sure.

Hannah: You’re at Ameriprise. You’re not there anymore. What prompted you to look for other solutions?

Anne: I was at Ameriprise and I think I was there for four years. I felt like I had learned a lot. I’m so grateful to Ameriprise for the foundation that I’d got, for the training. One of the things that I still, to this day, have a model calendar, and I make sure I book time for working on my financial planning cases. I don’t book as much time anymore on the practice growth piece of it, I probably should book more time on that.

I’m grateful to Ameriprise for the foundation that I got, for the training that I got, also for the belief in financial planning, which is something that I still very strongly believe in. I got to a point where I felt like I wanted to see what else was out there, and I wanted to improve my knowledge and my skills on the investment management front. It happened to be that I had been recruited by UBS to move part of my book, not really a ton of my book made sense for me to move over.

I was recruited by UBS and I thought UBS is exactly what I needed to fill the gap in my skills and in my knowledge. They were a super strong global wealth management firm and I actually had been talking to someone over there, as well, about potentially partnering. So I moved from Ameriprise over to UBS and I ended up partnering with this person. We were partners for five years, so that was why I decided to make the move from Ameriprise.

Hannah: Again, like you were saying, it goes back to those relationships and building up those, even professional, relationships.

Anne: Oh yeah.

Hannah: Were you able to take a lot of your clients from Ameriprise? Had a lot of your clients followed you through the various transitions that you’ve made?

Anne: They have. That’s another thing I’m eternally grateful to them for. I didn’t invite everybody to come with me from Ameriprise to UBS just because it didn’t make a lot of sense just based on what I was doing for specific clients. But the majority of clients who I had asked to come with me from firm to firm have graciously done that.

That’s a big thing to ask a client to do, to repaper their account, and to lose all the history from the old firm. I realize that it’s a large commitment that they’re making, but I’m very grateful to say that most clients have come with me. Even when I went independent from UBS and then switched broker dealers, the majority of them have followed me.

Hannah: I’ve had a lot of questions lately on what advice would you give when you’re making that move, bout managing your client relationships? I see that as you’ve made these transitions, what did you do well or what would be your advice to somebody looking to make those transitions with clients?

Anne: I think that even before you are deciding to make a move, it’s really important that you sell yourself versus you selling the company that you represent. When I was at Ameriprise, I don’t think that very many people hired me because of the really cool Ameriprise Financial commercials that were on TV. When I was at UBS, we had a handful of people that worked with UBS because they were international clients and UBS had a super strong international presence, but it was a handful. The majority of people who decided to hire me and work with me, it was because of me and not because of the firm behind me.

I would say to any advisors out there who are even noodling, potentially thinking about making a move in the future, make sure that you consistently reinforce that the value that you bring to the table is not the sign that’s on your building, but it’s you. It’s you as a person. It’s how much you care about that relationship. It’s that you are going to do everything in your power to help those clients reach their financial goals.

I think that’s something that I did pretty well, is I didn’t sell UBS or Ameriprise or Wells, I sold me and what I was bringing to the table. And that’s something that takes a while. You can’t just flip a switch and decide all of a sudden, I’m not going to talk about my firm as much anymore, I’m going to talk about what I bring to the table. But, in my experience, people hire you because of you, they don’t hire you because of the company behind you. I think that that’s something that I did well.

Looking back at what I would have changed, I’d only ended up being at UBS for about a year. So when I got to UBS things started getting really bad again from … this was in 2009. We’d been through a financial crisis at that point but UBS had their own set of unique challenges throughout that time period. So looking back, I would have, instead of going from Ameriprise to UBS, I probably would have gone Ameriprise independent, which is what I ended up doing about a year later anyway. It would have been just one less move that I had to make and that my clients had to make.

So just really being thoughtful about what is your endgame and what is really important to you and what are you trying to do. In hindsight, the person that I decided to partner with and I at the point, the reason we didn’t go independent was all about fear. It was all about being scared that our clients wouldn’t come with us. Looking back I wish that we would have just gone independent, but I’m also a huge believer in not having any regrets. Looking back at every single experience that I’ve had in my life and being able to identify what I can learn from the experience, so I wouldn’t do anything differently, but maybe that’s advice that would be helpful for people who are considering a couple options.

It was way more work that it probably needed to be.

Hannah: Those moves are a lot of work.

Anne: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. They are.

Hannah: I love that comment on fear of … I know for me personally I almost have this … I notice that fear now when they come into decisions and it’s, again, like you’re talking about with clients, about how the behavior finance side of it. Most as a business owner, even if we’re not a business owner, in your career, if you get that sense of you’re doing something because you’re afraid, that’s really a time to pause, step back, and say, “Do I really need to push through this?”

Anne: Yeah, absolutely. And I think looking back on times in your life when you’ve been fearful and you’ve done it anyway, and how that feels, how it turned out. I had a friend recently who’s a business owner who’s actually in the technology space. He told me that every time he feels fearful about a business decision that he’s going to make, he actually gets really excited about it because he can look back in his career. He’s owned his business for over 20 years now. He can look back at his career and every time he’s felt that fear and he’s pushed through it and he’s done it anyway, it’s been the catalyst for the next wave of growth that his company experienced.

So I thought that was a really cool mindset, that when you feel that fear, instead of letting it paralyze you, actually try to channel it into the energy that you need and the motivation that you need to push through, make that decision anyway, and get excited about what is on the other end of that fear.

Hannah: I love that. Some of the best things in life are on the other side of fear.

Anne: Yeah. For sure.

Hannah: You said that you ended up working with a partner, and then now you’re by yourself. You have a staff but you’re not in a partnership relationship anymore, right?

Anne: That is correct.

Hannah: Can I just have you-

Anne: That was another exciting learning experience.

Hannah: Let’s talk about … oh partnerships. Let’s talk about, I don’t know, maybe a case for partnerships and maybe a case against partnerships, not against partnerships but you’ve been through both of those, can you just reflect back on why you went into partnerships? What were the positive things about that? But then, what ultimately led you to back away from a partnership and do it on your own?

Anne: Sure. I think that the idea of a partnership is supposed to be that you bring two people together and one plus one equals three, as opposed to one plus one equaling two. In the partnerships that I’ve seen, the successful partnerships that I’ve seen that are few and far between but they do exist. Great partnerships absolutely exist. The ones that I have observed that are successful, that is absolutely the equation and sometimes one plus one equals four, as opposed to three.

That’s the benefit to having a partnership is we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses, and if you can get really clear on your strengths and also what you really enjoy doing in this business because we all wear lots of hats. If you can really get clear on what is it that you are really exceptional at and what is it that you really enjoy, and you can find someone who complements your weaknesses and their strengths are your weaknesses, then game on. It makes so much sense. That’s, on paper, what I think are some of the benefits of partnerships.

But you’re bringing two human beings together. So there are all sorts of challenges. I was in my partnership for five years. Ultimately, why I decided that it was no longer going to work for me is we had different ideas around how to run and grow the business, so clearly that’s a big deal if you’re running a business with someone, and you have different visions of where you want to take this. So that was a problem.

We also had different, let’s say, levels of commitment to just actually putting in the hours. I was willing to work a lot and hustle a lot and worked long hours. My business partner just was at a different stage in his life where he wasn’t as willing to do that. That was a problem because you build resentment for that person and you feel like, “Oh my gosh. I’m here busting my tail”, and the other person is not meeting you there. That’s challenging. To maintain over a long period of time the same level of commitment and work ethic is challenging.

It ultimately came down to this feeling that I had gotten to a place where I learned a lot from being in that partnership. I can look back now and be grateful for that experience. Again, I wouldn’t do it any differently, but I got to a point where I knew if I wanted to reach my own potential, both personally as well as professionally, I needed to let go and I needed to move forward on my own.

I’m making that sound really easy right now and it’s a very long process. It was definitely very stressful in there. Our split was not the most amicable split. There were a lot of challenges but moving through that and, again, looking back I’m grateful for the experience and I learned a lot.

Now I’m in a place where I’m the only advisor in my practice and I have three people who work with me who have different responsibilities in the practice. I feel really great about my team and the synergies. I feel like for the most part during the day, we’re working on things that we enjoy, and that we’re really good at. We complement each other really well.

One of the things you and I have talked about being a mom in this business. One of the things that was challenging is I just had my second son. He’s eight months old now. When I had my son, I was in a business partnership so when I had the baby, I was able to take more time off. I knew that things were going to get handled at the office. This time around, I have amazing staff who was able to handle almost everything, but at the end of the day, clients want you for some things. That was a unique challenge that I just recently went through.

You get through it, and it’s all worth it, again, all part of the process of learning and growing.

Hannah: A couple questions off of this, another thing that I’m hearing a lot from advisors, or people who are starting out, is that they really have this desire to be on a team, and that’s preventing them from starting their own practice or doing something along those lines because they’re like, “We want that support.” What would you tell that person?

Anne: I actually agree with that. If I were starting out today brand new, I think about this a lot. I wonder, I ask myself, would I go the same path that I went down and based on what I know now, the answer is no. I would absolutely try to team up with a nice, functional, successful team that works well together and I would try to learn as much as I possibly can.

If I felt really strongly about having my own practice in the future and starting that journey, then I would. But I think it makes a lot of sense to join a team, especially if you’re just starting out because there’s so much infrastructure, ideally, hopefully already built there that you can learn a lot and grow a lot from that experience and see where it leads you.

Hannah: You mentioned having two different babies in your time as an advisor. There’s a lot of talk about women in the profession and I know, gosh, we could probably spend a whole, several hours on just that topic-

Anne: Yeah, a whole interview.

Hannah: But I think it’s a really … Looking through having your own business, going on maternity leave, being a mom in the business, and just the expectations that moms have and business owners, can you just reflect on that a bit?

Anne: Yeah.

Hannah: And what would you want women coming into the profession to know?

Anne: One of the things that makes me very sad about our industry is any time I see a report about just how terribly we’re doing as an industry in terms of attracting females into the business. It’s been about the same number for the last three decades and at least the reports that I’ve seen recently don’t look like we’re making any improvements there, and that makes me very sad because in my experience, I think women are really good at this business. We’re empathetic and I think that we’re, for the most part, women have high levels of compassion and integrity. We can really kick butt and take names in this industry, so it makes me very sad that more women don’t get in the industry.

One of the things that I love about this business, and this is more so if you run your own practice than it is if you are an employee, so that’s just a reality. One of the things I love is that you absolutely, once you get to a certain point and you’ve built up a book of business and you’re not having to hustle as much as you did in the beginning, not that you ever stop hustling but you’re not having to hustle as much as you did at the beginning. You manage your own time and you manage your own calendar.

If I know that I have a … My older son is six, he’s in kindergarten now. If I know that he has something going on at school or a field trip or a play or an event, I can book that in my calendar and I’m not seeing any clients during that time. I have full control over what my calendar looks like, when I see clients, when I don’t see clients, if I want to take time off. So that’s a huge benefit, I think, especially, not that it’s less of a benefit for men or for dads, but I think it’s a huge benefit especially for moms as we do get to manage our time, and we can really be there for activities.

You know, kids get sick. Oftentimes even if you have a very hands-on dad, the kids want mommy when they’re sick. We have flexibility to manage our time, which I think is hugely important.

Hannah: For maternity leave with running your business, you said you were in a partnership for the first one and not the second one. Were you able to take time off? And what did that look like for you?

Anne: Yes and no. I’m the type of person who likes to be connected, even when I go on vacation, I like to check my email. I just find that if I completely check out for a week, it just produces more anxiety in me than is worth it. I know some people who absolutely just want to check out and I think that’s awesome. You just have to know what works for you.

For me, when I had my second child, I did not check in, did not check email, had no idea if the office was blowing up for three days, which may not seem like a lot of time, but for me, that was a big deal. I was completely present at home with the baby, with my older son, my husband, my family. I was completely present for those three days. And then I would start, I started checking my email more and checking in more. I did not see anyone, any clients. I did not have any meetings or any conference calls for the first six weeks.

I was at home. I would come into the office here and there, but for the most part, I was at home for those first six weeks. For the next probably month and a half, I would see meetings as need be. So if we had a client who had an emergency and had a time constraint decision they had to make, I would see that meeting. I would take a conference call. I would meet with prospective clients that we were referred to, but we weren’t actively trying to schedule review meetings during that time. It was more just on a one-off basis.

When I came back, it was about three months that I had a modified schedule, let’s say. Then after three months I came back full-time. I got all my reviews in that I should have seen during that time and came back to my normal schedule.

Hannah: Very cool.

Anne: The beauty of technology, I’ll just say, these days, when I had my first son, you couldn’t work remotely as much. He, again, is six years old. We just couldn’t do as much back then. I was with Wells, so there were limitations on what I could do from home. But now, it’s just so great because you can do so much from home. There’s even ways that you can make phone calls and your clients, it looks like you’re calling from the office. There’s just so much more flexibility that we have these days from a technology perspective to leverage if you do need to take extended time off like for having a baby.

Hannah: Or just a sabbatical. It doesn’t have to be just a baby.

Anne: Sorry. What’s that? Could you explain what that … Can you define what a sabbatical is? That sounds amazing.

Hannah: You started your own-

Anne: Yes.

Hannah: You left your partnership. Did you move to LPO or were you guys already at LPO?

Anne: No. We were with Wells. I split my partnership and moved broker dealers all in one fell swoop. You know because why not? If you’re going to have change, just have big change and be done with it.

Hannah: Rip the Band-Aid off.

Anne: Exactly. Yeah.

Hannah: When you moved to LPO, you started your company. Are you branded as, is it Curo Private Wealth?

Anne: Curo Private Wealth. Yes.

Hannah: Can you talk about that name? How you came up with that? Kind-of just the bigger branding of your firm and what you want to be for your clients?

Anne: When I had made the decision that I was going to split up my partnership, and I was going to basically start my own firm and rebrand solo, I really wanted a name that meant something. My business partner and I, when we started our company, it was our last names together, which is fine and that works for a lot of people. But I really wanted my name to mean something. I wanted to be able to tell a story about it and I wanted it to really be impactful.

I started asking clients as I was in the process of making the decision to split the partnership and start my firm. I asked clients a couple of questions. Why did they hire me? What did they like about working with me? Why did they continue to work with me? Why do they stay with me? Because clients are actively making a decision to continue to work with you on an ongoing basis.

I got lots of different answers, but the answer that I really cared kept coming up over and over again. Clients would say, “You know when we met with you, we could just tell that you care about us or you care about what you do or you care about our money and you care about our financial plan and the investments and all that, but you also care about us as people and you care about our family.” Again, the term to care kept coming up over and over again. I thought, “Okay, what can I do with that?” Because that was really the theme that came out of these conversations with clients.

I went on to the Google and I Googled how to say to care in different languages. Curo came up. It’s Latin for to care. I thought, “That is absolutely perfect.” So that’s how I decided on curo. What I want our brand to stand for is exactly that. I don’t want to be all things to all people. I don’t want to work with every single prospective client who comes in the door. And, in fact, gratefully, I’m at a point now where if I don’t feel like there’s a good connection, with the prospective client in that initial meeting, I will graciously let them know that I don’t think we’re a good fit and I will kindly decline the business.

That’s what I want us to be about, is that we care about our clients. We care about everything that we do. We’re completely committed to working with people with whom we feel a great connection, with whom we share values. We want our clients to care about us, too. We want to work with people who appreciate what we do and who listen to our advice, and who are kind and respectful to us as well. That’s what I hope our brand is all about and I work on that on a daily basis to make sure that we are upholding that.

Hannah: I like that. Keeping that culture within your firm, I think that’s such an interesting conversation. How do we keep culture? How do you maintain that culture through your staff and your employees in every interaction?

Anne: Yeah. Absolutely. I think it’s really important initially before you even hire anyone to do a good job of assessing that, those values. Because people will say a lot of things in an interview, but it’s important to make sure that you are hiring people that will not only say what you want to hear in an initial interview, but will live your culture every single day in the interactions they have with your clients.

Hannah: How many staff members do you have now?

Anne: Three.

Hannah: Three staff members. Very, very cool. How many clients do you have?

Anne: We have about 100 households right now.

Hannah: Oh that’s great. What’s next for you? Are you looking to grow your practice? Are you interested in other endeavors? What does the future hold for you?

Anne: I am definitely always looking to grow the practice. I was told by a mentor early on in the business that you’re either growing in this business or you’re dying. I don’t want to die, so I’m going to continue to grow. But I want to grow in the right way. As I said, I’m very committed to making sure that we bring on clients who share our values and who appreciate what we do and with whom we feel a great connection. I want to grow, not just for the sake of growing, but I want to grow those types of clients that we’re looking to work for.

Definitely growth is on the horizon. I think in the near future I’d like to bring on an associate financial advisor who can be the relationship manager for a number of our clients and also help with growing our business. The way that I see this working is we have an investment minimum right now, and I’d actually like to bring that down but would like for the associate advisor to be able to be the lead relationship manager with those clients. I’d like to be able to work with more people, and I feel like if I have that associate advisor we would be able to work with and help more people, which is exciting.

Then I’m also potentially interested if the right opportunity came my way, in practice acquisition. I think that there is so much opportunity in our industry. I think the average age of a financial advisor in the US right now is around 60, so there are a lot of advisors who are looking to retire, and I absolutely would be open acquiring a practice or two if we found the right one. That would be a growth goal over the next probably five years or so.

Hannah: Looking at new planners, what would be your main piece of advice for people who are entering the profession today?

Anne: I guess it would depend on their role. If their role was to find clients, I would pass on the same advice that I got, which is if you’re sitting behind your computer or behind a book all day or trying to learn everything that you possibly need to learn before you put yourself out there, don’t do that. You’re never going to make it if you don’t put yourself out there and you don’t try to find clients.

If your role is not really trying to find clients, and is not really more of a business development role where you’re doing the work, I would say to constantly be networking. Join a financial planning association, XYPN, if you can do that. Join organizations that are near you so that you can network with colleagues and potentially people who can offer you opportunities in the future. But put yourself out there and develop those relationships even if they can’t do anything or you can’t do anything for them today. You never know where those relationships will lead you.

Networking, which is not something we’ve talked about, but networking has hugely beneficial for me and my practice. One of the things that I did when I was cold-calling and hating it the first few years is I laid out what I wanted my intermediate term and my long-term marketing strategies to look like. I knew that I had to cold-call to make it and to hit my numbers and to not get fired. So I had to keep cold-calling even though I despised it. But I knew that one day I wouldn’t have to do the cold-calling, so I wanted to be really clear on what those intermediate and long-term marketing strategies looked like.

For me, networking was a huge one. I, right away, started trying to build relationships with CPAs and attorneys and I joined a VNI group. I knew that those relationships wouldn’t pay off right away but 50% of our new business every single year comes from centers of influence. It comes from CPAs and attorneys and real estate agents and loan officers and roughly 50% of our new business comes from client referrals.

I would just network and try to build those relationships as early as you possibly can.

Hannah: It’s really interesting. You talked about your marketing plan, your short-term, medium-term, and then long-term marketing plan. So your short-term was the cold-calling, medium-term, was that the networking? And what would be the long-term?

Anne: My short-term was the cold-calling and those lunch presentations I mentioned, which was very much an Ameriprise thing. It was called Lunch and Learns. That was my short-term. My intermediate-term was more of the networking. It was also speaking engagements. I really enjoy speaking and so I wanted that to become more a part of my intermediate-term. Then longer-term was more media.

One of the things I started doing is I tried to get more TV interviews. I was actually on a show that we had in DC called Washington Business Report. I was on quarterly just talking about the outlook of the markets and the economy and that was really fun until the station got acquired by a national TV company and they weren’t as interested in the micro DC assessment, so they canceled that show unfortunately.

The intermediate and long-term is networking and potentially more media opportunities as well as practice acquisition.

Hannah: Great. Well, thank you for joining us, Anne.

Anne: Thank you for having me, Hannah. It’s been a pleasure.

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Anne McCabe Triana, CFP®, CRPC®, has been in the financial services industry for over ten years. Her experience as a financial planner in a larger firm, as well as with starting her own financial planning firm, Anne McCabe Triana, CFP®, CRPC®, has been in the financial services profession for over ten years. Having started straight out of school and having to immediately find her own clients, she shares what she learned through that experience and what she learned in that process. Her experience as a financial planner in a larger firm, as well as with starting her own financial planning firm, has taught her much about the financial planning process and about being a business owner.
In her practice today, Anne looks at the behavioral aspect of financial planning with her clients. Understanding the emotions that play into personal finance, and how to navigate clients through tough economic times, has been a critical component to her business’s success. Anne shares how she came up with her company name, Curo, and how important truly caring for her clients has been in building strong client relationships.
Over the course of this #YAFPNW episode, we’re going to talk about the evolution of running a financial planning firm, how “down” markets might actually be better for business, and how to provide the best experience to your clients.


What You’ll Learn:

How to know you’re ready to transition to business ownership
Ways to improve your client’s experience
How to draw from your past experiences moving into unknown financial planning territory
Why you should always be adding value to the lives of your prospects – even if they’re not ready to sign on with you right now
How behavioral finance plays into your financial planning
Why a “down” market may be better for your financial planning business
How to navigate client emotions when dealing with money
How to manage client relationships when transitioning to a new role within your firm or because you’re starting a new practice
How to reinforce that YOU are the value when working with your clients
How your marketing plan can and should change as your business matures.

 
 

 
 
 
 
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Hannah Moore clean 49:34
Telling Your Advisor Story http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-telling-your-advisor-story/ Tue, 10 Apr 2018 18:01:13 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11154 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-telling-your-advisor-story/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-telling-your-advisor-story/feed/ 0 Adam Kornegay, of Pathfinder Strategic Solutions and one of the people behind FPA’s new Coaches Corner, wants to help advisors communicate their value and move past the financial “lingo” to tell their story and actually connect with their ideal clients. Adam Kornegay, of Pathfinder Strategic Solutions and one of the people behind FPA’s new Coaches Corner, wants to help advisors communicate their value and move past the financial “lingo” to tell their story and actually connect with their ideal clients.

The way he sees it – you have the potential to add real value to the lives of your clients. The sooner you can start marketing yourself and your practice in a way that helps them connect with you on a personal level, the sooner you can start helping them and making an impact.

In this episode, Adam is going to go over the five key elements of telling your story as a financial planner, how to find your niche market, and ways you can start tweaking your marketing and communication today to better connect with your current and prospective clients.

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You need to be able to tell your story to everyone you talk to, because chances are good that they are going to be connected to somebody who is in your niche. -Adam Kornegay

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What You’ll Learn:

  • How to get involved with FPA’s Coaches Corner
  • The ways that your communication is pushing clients and prospects away from you.
  • How to avoid industry jargon in your marketing
  • Words to use that open the door for an honest, valuable connection with your clients
  • How marketing and communication can help you build long-term client relationships
  • How to define your niche market
  • The five key elements to telling your advisor story
  • The best way to articulate the value you bring to the table

 

Exactly What to Say

 

 

 

 

 

Show Transcript

Ep93 Transcript


Hannah: Well thanks for joining us today, Adam.

Adam: Thank you Hannah. Glad to be here.

Hannah: So I have heard your name in lots of financial planning circles for the various coaching that you do for financial advisors. And the FPA just opened up their Coaches Corner program and you are one of the coaches, you and Susan are one of the coaches for marketing.

Adam: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Hannah: And so, we are excited to have you on here to kind of pick your brain some more about marketing and what we can do as young planners to really – I don’t want to say be good at marketing, but essentially be good at marketing.

Adam: Absolutely. Yeah, The Coaches Corner, it’s pretty fantastic. It’s really a pleasure to be a part of it and for those of you that are just now learning about it, it’s simply OneFPA.org/coachescorner C O A C H E S corner and there’s 6 different coaches with a variety of experiences and specialties that are available exclusively for FPA members.

Hannah: So, pretty cool stuff. I know I’ve been spoiled and looked at some of it and was like, “Oh. That’s helpful for me in my practice.”

Adam: Mm-hmm (affirmative) Good.

Hannah: So, let’s talk about young planners and really when it comes down to marketing. So we have, I mean, there’s lots of different groups of young planners, but we have you know the planners who are starting their firms, and then we have planners who are working for somebody and not sure that they ever want to start their own firm, but they really do love financial planning, whatever that looks like for them. But that underlying idea of marketing. What would be your advice to both of those groups, or what do young planners need to like, fundamentally` understand about marketing in order to be good at financial planning?

Adam: That’s a great question, and you know, it’s interesting. So my background is in marketing and that’s what I got my degree in, and for a lot of people they think marketing as simply advertising. I remember when I was choosing my career that’s, everyone thought, “Oh marketing. That’s the same as advertising, right?” And it’s really not. You know, there’s – we’ll test my knowledge here but there are the 4 P’s of marketing and it all relates to what is the client, or the individuals needs and what is it that the advisor or the sales person or what have you, what are they doing to meet those overall needs?

And what’s great about the planning profession of course, is that there’s – we’re doing such a great job now, especially compared to how the industry used to be, in terms of meeting those needs. It’s pretty fantastic. I’ve been in the industry, in fact my mother was an advisor when I was in grade school, so I’ve been around it pretty much all my life and it’s been fun to kind of watch and see how it’s changed. And now we’re doing such a good job of focusing on people’s goals and really providing the right value, but sometimes we get away from finding out a good way to articulate that value to our prospects, and for that matter our clients as well, so they can see it.

It’s an intangible, and selling something that’s invisible or intangible, makes life a little bit difficult. So we really have to work at, “How can I communicate the value of what I do,” or “How can I tell the story to virtually anyone that I speak with?”

Hannah: I always get sucked into watching those silly, you know, Facebook ad videos that you know, show some kitchen gadget or whatever and you’re like, “Oh!” You immediately see that, but you don’t get that with financial planning and telling that.

So, how do you tell that story of financial planning to people that really resonates with? I mean my gosh, our clients, but also like our family and friends who don’t really understand what we do?

Adam: So yeah. That’s a great way to talk about it, and you know one of the things I’ve always believed, and my company Pathfinder truly believes this, is you always need to examine what you do through the perspective of the client. So what’s that lens that you want to be looking through?

And so when it comes to telling your story, there are really 5 elements to consider, and I can spend a little time, and I’ll walk you through each of those 5 elements and kind of, hopefully provide a couple of examples of how this works.

So let’s say I’m talking to you Hannah, and I want to tell my story. I want to tell you a little bit more about me, what my practice does. The very first thing that I want to start with, is I want to make a connection with you. I want you to feel like, “Oh, he gets me. He understands me.” And so the way to do that is start by talking about your existing clients. And there’s lots of different ways to do that. So, one of the easiest ways to say is, “My typical client looks like this,” and so they’re retirees or they’re approaching retirement or they’re well into their retirement or maybe they’re corporate executives or whatever your particular market is. So that’s one way to do it.

But then you also can get into, “Let me tell you what their life is like.” And sometimes you can use words that are probably universal, but don’t necessarily sound universal. They don’t sound universal to the people that are hearing them. So let me give you an example. So I could say to you Hannah, “Like most of my clients, you are smart, busy and successful.” Now as soon as I say that to you, you probably start to think, “That’s right! That’s me!” You know? And it’s like, well who doesn’t want to be thought of as smart, busy and successful? So already I’m starting to make that connection with you where you feel like, “Oh yeah! Adam, he gets me. I like this.” And then I can go on and talk about you know, something about families or professionals or entrepreneurs. I can talk about you know, what’s important to you. What some of your personal goals are. But by drawing this picture of what my ideal client or my typical client looks like, you’re going to start to see that and you’re going to say, “Oh, I fit there. That’s a good spot for me. That looks just like me.”

So the second part, of course, is then you want to kind of speak to your perspective clients specific concerns and challenges. And one of the best ways to do that is through the form of questions. And you want to ask questions the same way your clients would express them. So, let’s say for you, I could say you know, “For a lot of my clients, some of the concerns that they have and some of the questions you may be thinking of yourself is, what is my retirement going to look like? When am I going to be able to retire? How much money can I spend in retirement if retirement is a big focus for you.” You want to be able to start laying out those questions, so that the prospect hears that and thinks to themselves, “Gosh. You read my mind. Those are absolutely the same questions I’ve been having up here. In fact, you even named a couple of questions I hadn’t even thought of yet.”

Hannah: Yeah, so you’re saying we need to like, basically give words to what’s going on in our clients head because we know people like them.

Adam: Exactly. And think about how different that is from a lot of what financial advisors do. I was looking at somebody’s website the other day, and I saw you know, kind of that laundry list of products and services that they’re offering, their offerings or their services. And one of them, was risk management services. And I guarantee you Hannah, there’s no one walking around out on the street and says, “Gosh. I need some help managing my risks.” No one` talks like that. But advisors will think, you know they put that on their website and think, “If I say risk management people are going to know what that means.” Talk in real life terms. Talk about the sorts of questions that they honestly have been asking themselves.

Hannah: So, that’s interesting, because I see that again, like on a lot of websites where you know, we say like, “Here’s what we do. Like here’s what our process is, you know, risk management.” So what would be another way of saying risk management?

Adam: Another way of talking about that question is how do I know that the investments are right for me. Or how do I know my investments are on track to help me meet my goals. Or, what am I missing out on when it comes to my investments? Or,

Hannah: So,

Adam: Go ahead.

Hannah: Oh no, I was going to say, this is where I think career changers or people new to the profession have sent, I forget what we call them, but like, we know too many of the words and so it’s hard for us to communicate in those ways.

Adam: Yeah!

Hannah: I know my assistant who was not in financial planning or financial services, she just naturally explains things better than I do.

Adam: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Hannah: Because again, she can just use those words. Like I get so stuck in this lingo. And so she has to edit, she edits it out. She’s like, “I don’t understand what this means.” And it’s like, such a valuable perspective.

Adam: And so it begs an interesting question, so do you use those words – there’s probably 2 reasons why you use those, the 50 cent words. One is, that you are wanting to come across as very knowledgeable about your particular topic, or two, you just kind of got into it and forgot that no one else understands what that is.

Hannah: I hope it’s not the first, but maybe. I mean,

Adam: I hope it’s not the first one either, but I’ll tell you, that’s what a lot of people do, right? Because they think, “Hey, I need to use these big sentences, or these big words because that’s going to show how smart I am.” A lot of times we’re doing it subconsciously, but it ends up happening. It’s so easy to do.

Acronyms of course are the worst. You know, we throw out acronyms a lot and we just assume that the other person knows what it is, and we may not. I’m sorry, we would, but the other person doesn’t.

Hannah: It’s almost like I need like one of those like taboo buzzers in the meetings with clients. Like, “You should just hit this.” Or in my office even.

Adam: Yeah! Well, better yet, what you need to do is you need to give it to your assistant, and she’ll just sit outside your office and every time she hears you do it she’ll just, she’ll press the button or maybe have it connected to red light that flashes when you start to use it.

Hannah: Oh that’s great. Well one of the other things I’ve done, so like I have a pretty detailed client persona in my own practice of who I work with. I have quotes, of what they’ve said.

Adam: Hmm.

Hannah: So if they ever say anything that’s like, really spot on, I go and add that to my client persona, because it just reminds me of how they talk, how my clients talk.

Adam: It really is kind of really trying to put yourself into their shoes. And realize too that there’s a big element of fear and uncertainty with them when they’re sitting down with you. They don’t want to feel like they don’t know what they’re doing, and so a lot of times, you can talk to them about a particular concept and they’re not going to raise their hand and say, “I have no idea what you just said.”

Hannah: Right.

Adam: You know, they’re going to kind of keep that to themselves. So it’s incumbent upon you, or incumbent upon the advisor to say, “Well let me make sure I’m breaking that down. And I want to explain this again, because I worry if I don’t explain this well you’re going to walk out of here and you’re not going to be able to explain it. You’re not going to be able to understand it.”

Hannah: You know, it’s so interesting, we talk about marketing so much in terms of finding new clients and you know, kind of the pizzazz around that. But really, what this is sounding like is good client communication and good client servicing. And it doesn’t matter if you have your own firm or not. Like, if we can figure out how to talk our clients language, I mean you’re going to be set.

Adam: Yeah! Yeah, absolutely. Another thing we’ve always believed at Pathfinder is, everything that you say and do, as well as everything that you don’t say or do, conveys a message, and make sure it’s the message that you want to convey. And, you know, Susan, my mother and my partner, she’s both my mother and my partner. She and I are always finding instances where, “Oh gosh, if you changed this little phrase, all of a sudden it makes a ton of difference.”

So for example, let’s say I’m talking to you Hannah, about introducing the concept of you know referrals. And I will say something to you like, “Hannah, if you run across somebody who could benefit from these services, will you call me?” And will, is a carefully chosen word, because “will”, that’s indicating a promise. You will call me, as opposed to “would”. And would is much more hypothetical. And so even just that tiny little word, a “will” versus a “would”, starts to make a real big difference in somebody’s mind.

There’s a real good book out there, it’s called, what’s it called? It is called, “Exactly What To Say” and the author’s name is Phil M. Jones. And it’s like 100 page, 150 pages total, and it’s filled with all kinds of little nuggets like that. So for example, you know one really easy way to start a conversation with somebody is to say, “I’m not sure if it’s for you, but,” and when you start a conversation like that, “I’m not sure if it’s for you,” that right then and there, kind of takes some of that pressure off. “Okay, I’m not sure if it’s for you,” so they’re picking up on the message of, “Oh okay. Well then, no pressure here.” And then you throw that but in, and as soon as you throw the but in, their brain’s going to flip and say, “Oh there actually is something here that I need to pay attention to.”

It’s little things like that, but it’s incredibly important, those words we choose to use.

Hannah: You know it’s, there’s such a fine line. You know we hear people talk about things like this and it’s a fine line between doing what’s right for the client and then using manipulation. So can you speak to that a little bit because I mean I know, I mean my gosh, I know some of the people who are listening to this podcast are working for people who might not respect or see them use kind of these, little nuances and tools in a, maybe not positive way.

Adam: Yeah. Absolutely. And so, like I said a few minutes ago, it all starts and ends with the clients. And for a lot of the advisors that I work with, I help them think through, what’s a good metaphor to use? So a real easy metaphor to use for the advisor, is of a lifeguard. So if you look out there and Hannah, you know this really, really well, there is a ton of people that could use the help of a financial planner. A bunch of them.

The problem is they don’t always realize it. Now you think about it from the metaphor of a lifeguard, there are people around you that are drowning. They need your help. But what happens when a lifeguard try’s to rescue somebody that’s drowning? They kind of kick against them a little bit. Right? They’re not used to it. And, if you start with that mindset of, look this person needs my help and I need to figure out ways that they can truly benefit from my help, to me that’s okay. You’re not trying to say, “Look you know, I’m trying to push you into the water and do something that you don’t want to do that’s not good for you. I’m trying to rescue you here.”

Another one of my younger clients, I was talking to him about this concept, and he actually used the metaphor of Neo from the Matrix.

Hannah: Nice.

Adam: So as you recall, right, so everyone in the Matrix, they’re, man it’s been forever since I’ve seen it but, everyone in the Matrix, they’re all plugged in right? They’re in those little pods and they’re plugged in. And so he saw himself as the person that went from person to person, and unplugged them from the Matrix, showed them the better way, “Here is a better way for you to do things, and now I’m showing it to you. At this point it’s kind of up to you if you want to come with me and whatever it was, take the red pill or the blue pill, and if not that’s okay. I’m going to plug you back in but then I’m going to go to the next person.”

Hannah: Yeah. You know it’s one of those, you know when you have somebody come into your office and even, again family and friends and whatever it could be, but it’s like when I talk to them, it’s not so much that I want them to work with me, I mean, a lot of people I would like to work with me, but it’s this idea of I hope that what I communicate is you need financial planning. So even if it’s not with me, like that’s what I really like selling people on because I truly believe that there is this power in financial planning that can really make that much of a difference in a client’s life and in their lives.

Adam: Mm-hmm (affirmative) Yeah, and so if you’re approaching, say a friend, and friends and family, it’s tricky for everyone, right? Because you don’t want to feel like I’m trading off on our friendship or our familiar relationship and kind of twisting the screws there. And that’s where you can just back off a little bit.

And so if Hannah you were my cousin, I might say to you at some point, “Hey Hannah, can I put my business hat on for just a second? You know, I got to tell you, one of the things that I’ve very consistently seen with people in XYZ situation, and then I would describe whatever situation that would approximate where you are, one of the things I’ve seen for a lot of people is that they think that they are too young to work with a financial planner or they don’t have enough assets to work with a financial planner, or they don’t have time to work with a financial planner. And I see that a lot and honestly it’s something that sometimes is concerning to me, so I felt like I almost owed it to you to at least bring that topic up. If you ever want to sit down, I would love to be able to do so. If not, or if you don’t feel comfortable sitting down with me because we’re cousins, I can give you the name of another advisor in the area who would love to, who would absolutely love to work with you.

Hannah: We’re talking through 5 elements. I’m sure this is going to come up to, a lot of it is who do you want to work with?

Adam: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Hannah: Because I know like, for myself like most, my natural market, like my natural friends and family don’t fit with my ideal client. So, I’m not trying to get my family or friends to become clients.

Adam: It makes it easier, right?

Hannah: Oh yeah. It’s great. They actually, come to me I think, maybe a little bit more than I would expect.

Adam: Yeah. And this is actually a good transition back into the concept of telling your story. Because even if you have friends and family that don’t fit into your niche market, you should still be able to articulate to them what the value that you provide to your clients is.

So in other words you should be able to talk to your brother, your sister, your aunt or uncle, what have you, about here’s the sorts of clients that I work with. So let me tell you what they look like. Let me tell you about some of the questions that they typically have, so they can start to see, “Okay. You know what? I know somebody like that. I have to introduce them to Hannah, because I bet they could really benefit from working with Hannah.”

You need to be able to tell your story, in other words to everyone that you talk to, because there’s a decent chance that they are going to be connected to somebody who is in your niche.

Hannah: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Adam: So let’s go back for a second. Let’s talk through where we’re at.

So the first one is simply create a connection with your perspective clients. You want the prospect to feel like “you get me.” That’s number one.

Number two is you want to speak to their specific concerns and challenges, and this is in the form of questions. You want the prospect to feel like, “Gosh. You read my mind.”

The third then comes to demonstrate how you can help. In other words this is your chance to say, “Let me show you what I do.” And the more thoughtful and deliberate you can make that, the better off that you are.

So typically for most planners it’s going to be taking the prospect through the planning process. So we start with this, then we do this, we typically look at that and just kind of walk them through, because they want to see, “Okay. How is it this person works? What does their process look like?”

Hannah: You mean it’s not all just like long walks on the beach, like the commercials?

Adam: No, no. Unfortunately not. Yeah, I mean but that’s where you roll up the sleeves, right? And this is your chance in part to show some of your expertise. And so if I’m hearing the message from you Hannah, I would want to hear, you know, “These are the questions I ask, this is what my typical process looks like, this is what you’re going to receive in the end, this is a little more of the nuts and bolts that go along with it.”

Hannah: Right.

Adam: So then the fourth step, is you want to be able to describe your key differentiators. And so in other words, this is where you’re saying, “Here’s how I am different.” And when you’re talking about your differentiators, it’s usually a little bit more about the how you do something, than the what. The what ends up a lot of times being somewhat universal. I mean there’s only kind of so many different ways to slice it, but it’s more about how you do it. So it could relate to your background, to your experience, to your philosophy, it could be that the way you communicate with people, it could be a part of your niche. It could be a lot of different things.

Hannah: So let’s talk about that. Like, in your experience working with advisors, like what are some of the key differentiators that really stand out to you?

Adam: Well first and foremost, probably the biggest thing is when you can speak to a specific niche. Being able to say, “Look. This is specifically the area in which I focus and you’re not going to find anyone that’s more knowledgeable about this particular area than me.” That’s huge. A lot of advisors out there are generalists. And generalists are good, it’s good to be able to have a generalist, but generally speaking, if you pardon the pun, there’s nothing about them that stands out.

So in other words it’s almost like if you think – I often think about a differentiator as something for people to grab onto like a handle, like a rough edge or something that’s not so smooth and plain that nothing leaps out. So it could simply be, you know you’ve got a specific area of specialty that you work with. It could be that you have adjusted your discovery meeting process to make it incredibly easy to work with, so that you’ve spent a lot of time working in behavioral management, behavioral economics. There’s a lot of questions that you’ve` specifically designed that are very, very different from people.

Other things that you could do, is you could talk about how if you are a virtual advisor, for example. So most advisors they’ll typically have you come into their office once a quarter. My approach is say, “Hey, I a little different here. I don’t want to take up your time. It’s easiest for me if we just simply get on the phone or get on, do a quick Skype call and we’ll talk everything through.” It could be any number of different things and each person is a little bit different, so it’s hard to say, “Oh, here’s a universal differentiator,” because there isn’t a universal differentiator. Everyone’s story is a little bit more unique.

Hannah: Gosh. I talk to so many young planners and I’ll raise my hand and be like, “I, was slash am this advisor, where you’re just itching to get out and start your own firm or to work with your own clients or be that lead advisor.” And I think what’s really cool about what you’re saying here is that time when you’re under somebody or you’re working with clients, like that is such a great time to be honing all of this. To be figuring out who do you work best with? What are the messaging? What makes you different? Like, what makes you different from the other advisors in the firm? Because even if you’re in an office of you know, 20, 30, 50 people, like what makes you special? Because that’s really valuable if you can identify that.

Adam: It is. And probably it’s one of the hardest things to sometimes come up with, because we lack that perspective on ourselves. Especially you know, the younger we are, the less perspective that we have. So if you’re a planner in your 20’s, I mean you’ve got half the life experience as somebody in their 40’s does. And so it’s harder sometimes to really pull those differentiators out, so one of the things you can do is just ask people.

Hannah: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Adam: You know, talk to your family members. Talk to your friends. Talk to your clients. Talk to the other people in your firm if you’re not out on your own, and say, “Tell me what’s different about me? What do you remember about me? What makes me unique?” And have them share that, and then once you start to see it, you can craft that story for yourself. Well look, here’s something about me that’s really, really different. You’re not going to find anyone who’s more X than me, whatever X may be.

Hannah: Yep. That makes a lot of sense.

Adam: And then I think the other thing too when it comes to talking about your differentiator, or differentiators, if it’s plural, it’s really helpful to set it up with a contrasting statement. So in other words, most advisors will do X, but my approach is to do Y. Because if all you do is you start with that second half, my approach is to do Y, the prospects going to hear that and they’re not going to know that that’s different from anybody else. So the more that you can pull that out, “Most people do this, but I do that.” “A lot of people will typically take this approach, my approach is a little bit different. I look like that.” And again, that’s giving the prospect something to grab onto. They can say, “Oh okay. I get it. I understand why Hannah is different in this regard.”

Hannah: You know, you were saying this and one example I’ve used with a number of clients, again that kind of contrasting element, is you know a lot of financial planners, you know they take all of your information, and then they give you this nice big binder that you take home and you’re supposed to implement and then you put it on your shelf and you never look at it again. And it’s funny because clients who really, that resonates with, I mean they’re nodding, they’re laughing, they’re like “Oh, we have one or two of those already.”

Like you’re saying, it’s telling their story.

Adam: Yeah.

Hannah: In a way.

Adam: Okay, so how do you prevent your plan from going on the shelf with the other ones?

Hannah: So I say we implement it throughout the process.

Adam: Okay.

Hannah: So we have 6 different meetings and so between meetings clients have action plans and I have action plans and so at the end of our 6th meetings, we have a fully completed financial plan, instead of just a starting point.

Adam: Ah, there you go. Perfect. Right? So now I’m hearing that, if I’m the prospect I’m like, “Oh. Okay.” So it’s not simply like a one and done, stick it on the shelf good luck, but it’s “I’m going to keep working through you. This is a living document that we’re going to be working on together. And it’s not you sitting over here and me sitting over here, it’s us sitting side by side and working on it.”

Hannah: And making progress. Like we want to see progress, throughout the process.

Adam: Exactly.

So then the fifth part of telling your story is simply providing next steps. And so that’s where both of you say, “Okay. What’s next?” And you want the prospect to really visualize that and see and understand, if I say yes or if I agree, here’s what’s going to happen now. It’s that call to action sometimes that you’ll hear about. So what goes next? If you’re talking to the perspective client through your website? Okay, what are they do next? What happens next? Do you get together for a, kind of a introductory conversation? Are you going to jump straight into the discovery meeting? What is it that you’re going to do?

But what you’re trying to do there is make it very clear. It’s like you have a big, red arrow pointing at, “Here’s what happens next”. Because one, it’s going to give them a sense of direction, here’s what I’m going to do next. And then second, it’s going to give them a sense of comfort too, knowing that here is the path that you need to start going down.

Hannah: Because we all want that direction, right?

Adam: We do. We do. You know, it’s amazing. Our brains are so jammed full of stuff, that people often take the easy route. Because if you say, “Go this way,” okay great. We’ll go this way. It’s easier.

And parts, honestly, our brains are set up that way. If we had to rethink every single decision in our lives, nothing would ever get accomplished. We have routines and we just kind of go along until we find a better path to go, and then off we go.

Hannah: You know I was listening to a talk from years ago about how to help client anxiety, when they come into your office. You know, and they say like most people would rather go to the dentist, which I hate the dentist, but they’d rather go to the dentist than go to my office. And I was like, “Oh my gosh.” And the example that they gave was, you know if you go to the dentist and you just, you don’t know what’s next. And you have no idea and so you’re completely tense, the whole time you’re there because, when does the drill come out?

You know and so like one of the things they were saying you know in this presentation was, you know when clients come in, you know, tell them what’s going to happen in the meeting. Like let them just be able to breathe and they can kind of know where they’re at in the meeting. And that’s what you’re saying, it’s again that same psychological like need that we have to just know the direction, know the path that we’re going to go on.

Adam: Yeah, absolutely. And even when you’re like giving a, let’s say you’re giving a speech or you’ve get something that’s fairly lengthy that you’re explaining to somebody, having things that are numbered, makes a huge difference. We did that right here right?

Hannah: Yeah.

Adam: I said there were 5 steps to being able to tell your story. So people are listening in on this podcast and they’re, okay. Well they know I’m at step 3 or I’m at step 4 or I’m at step 5, so they have a general gauge of where they’re going to be at. I’ll tell you what, you know on that point about making it easier and reducing the anxiety for people coming in, that’s where visuals can help out a ton too. You know, where you’ve got – you know, here’s a picture of what our office looks like. The first person you’re going to see when you walk in is Dave, here’s a picture of what Dave looks like, and helping them kind of visualize, “Yeah. This is what’s going to happen when I’m going to walk in.” Makes things so much more comfortable.

Hannah: That’s a great tip.

Adam: So one of the other questions that I’m often asked is, can you give me some guidance on niche markets? I call them niche markets. Some people call them a niche market, but to me it sounds better if you call it a niche market, right? And they often wonder, “How do I know that I’ve got a good niche market? It seems so counterintuitive, especially when early in my career I’m trying to gather as many clients as I possibly can. Why on earth would I want to reduce my overall market? Why not keep it super wide, because that’s going to allow me to get more things done, right? And talk to more people.

And so for niche marketing, it’s really more of a question of focus. And it’s a question of focus both for you, as well as for your prospects and clients. So if you have a very specific area that you’re going after, it allows you to kind of shut out some of the other stuff that’s going on around you. So let’s say for example, I am going after corporate executives, that’s my niche market. Well I am going to become an absolute expert in working with corporate executives. And retirement’s a part of it, yeah, but I don’t necessarily have to be an expert at that. 529 plans, don’t need to know a lot about that, but I’m going to be super narrowly focused there.

So it’s good for you, right? Also too, from your marketing efforts, it allows you to be very hyper focused. You’re going to use a lot of LinkedIn, you’re going to do a lot of corporate searches, etc. But also too, it gives focus to the people that are working with you. So, if I’m a corporate executive and I have a financial advisor who I know specializes in working with corporate executives, that’s how I’m going to refer to them. “Oh you know what, you really need to talk to Joe, because Joe specializes in working with corporate executives. It gives everyone the big R, the referral that people are looking for, because they know, kind of how to, I don’t want to say pigeon hole you, but they know how to label you as opposed to, “Oh, work with Joe. He’s a really good financial advisor,” “Work with Joe. He’s a financial advisor who specializes in this particular area.”

Hannah: How do you see people pick their niche markets?

Adam: That’s a great question. Let me start with what people often do and the problem with that. What a lot of people will do, is they will solely focus on something that they enjoy doing. It’s almost more like networking as opposed to a niche. So, let’s go with tennis enthusiasts, right? So my niche market is going to be tennis enthusiasts because I like playing tennis and I go out and play tennis at my local club etc. Well that’s good, but tennis enthusiasts, they run gamut, right? You’ve got young tennis enthusiasts, you’ve got old tennis enthusiasts. Young tennis enthusiasts, they have one set of needs and challenges. Older tennis enthusiasts, they need others. And so they can kind of sometimes miss out on things because they’re not, they don’t have that right overall level of focus.

So to me there’s kind of three things that you should look at to know, do I have a good niche market? Let me take you through each one.

So the first one is it’s all about the people or the potential of that niche market. So the question that you want to ask yourself is, are there enough people in this niche and do the people in the niche have sufficient means to be an ideal client for me? So one way to kind of do a rule of thumb on it, is pick a number. 20%. If 20% of the people in that niche hire me, is that going to be enough for me to have a successful practice? So let’s say if your niche is 55 year old vascular surgeons in Podunk Iowa who went to Villanova. You know what? There’s only one person. So if you don’t get that one person as a client, you’re out of luck. And even if you did get them as a client, you’re not going to be able to build a business around it. So it’s got to be wide, but you also can’t go too wide.

So in other words, it always cracks me up when people, I ask somebody, “Well what’s your niche market?” And they will say, “Women.” It’s just like, come on. Women isn’t even a minority in our country. It’s a majority. And think about all the different types of women that are out there. Women executives, women restarting their career, women that are taking over the finances of the family for the first time.

So the first thing you want to consider is okay, you know what does the size of this niche look like and are there enough people in the niche that I can make a profitable practice around it?

Hannah: Right.

Adam: Second, do you have an affinity with the people in that niche? So in other words, do you have a genuine connection with the people in the niche? So, this is something that you either kind of naturally have, so say for example if you are a, let’s say you’re a widow or a widower yourself. Well that’s a great kind of natural niche for you, because you’ve experienced what life is like after losing a spouse, so you can talk to that. But it’s also something that you can learn. So, you can do a lot of research into the characteristics of somebody that has lost a spouse and dig into that a little bit more.

So you want to make sure though that it’s genuine. You can’t say I’m going to go after, oh I don’t know, corporate executives if you really don’t like corporate America. Probably not a good fit for you, right? So go after something that is naturally going to pull you towards that niche.

Then the third one, and the third one is probably the biggest one, which is that they need to have a common set of challenges that you are well positioned to help solve. And this kind of goes back to what we were talking about a minute ago with telling your story. What are the questions that the people within that niche are asking and am I an expert or can I position myself as an expert in that particular area?

And the reason all of that is so important is all of that’s going to govern your message to the people within the niche. So you want to be able to talk to, if I’m working with say, small business owners, well small business owners generally have the same sets of questions, which is, how much should I save for retirement versus reinvesting in the business. Or if you’re working with widows and widowers as a niche, they’re going to have the same types of questions themselves. “Well, I don’t have a lot of experience, how am I going to handle living on one income? I feel a lot of pressure because I’m the sole decision maker.”

And so by the people in that niche having that set of common challenges, then you can come and say, “Well I’m the expert in this area. I’m really good at helping people specifically here.” And that’s how you can start your marketing efforts towards them.

Hannah: So let me ask you, because you know I have really good friends who are working in firms and you know I’m such a believer that we need to be doing marketing, like even if we don’t have our own businesses. How does that work with firms, like with their marketing message like overall as a firm, versus individuals within that firm.

Adam: That’s a great question. And there’s probably a couple of different ways that you can handle that. I’ve seen some firms where they almost have a separate brand for that niche market. So for example, there’s a firm that I know of that I won’t name here on the call, but they have a younger planner and what she has done, is she’s kind of set up her own little brand, I say own little brand, her own brand, to work with the members of her niche with are generally the people that are in the younger demographic. So they’ve got a separate website for her, it’s kind of all of her branding. The brand colors are a little bit different, it’s completely separate. So that’s one way to approach it.

A second way to approach it is, almost think of it like a law firm that has areas of specialty. So you kind of say, you know you have like on your menu of your website what are the services that you offer, and you can put, “Here’s the work that we do for our retirees. Here’s the work that we do for our corporate executives. Here’s the work that we do for widows or widowers,” to pull them in that way. So it’s kind of like you’ve got these subject matter experts within particular firm.

Hannah: I’m trying to get somebody to come on the podcast and talk about building out your financial plan philosophy, and how important that is to do that. But I feel like that also applies to marketing too. Like what are you comfortable saying versus what are you not comfortable saying?

Yeah, and that needs to align with wherever you work, if you work for somebody.

Adam: It does. It does and it depends, as I’m sure you’re well aware and your listeners are well aware, that a lot of times when you’re joining firm or you’re part of a firm that’s been around for a while, there’s a little bit of, “This is the way that we built our firm and this is the way that we want to continue to build our firm.” And there’s some struggle that goes along with that. But a lot of times if you can start to generate some success, then that starts to open up doors for you, because you say, “Oh, okay. Well shoot, you know. I’ve been working in this particular area and it’s,” calling it more of an informal niche as you start to develop it, and it’ll naturally come.

The other thing too is niche marketing sometimes happens just naturally. There’s an advisor that I know, former engineer and all of his clients are that real, data crunching type. Because people want to work with the people that are like them and so they naturally just start to gravitate towards him, because that’s his style. And so some of those niches, he’s not even actively saying, “Hey former engineers, or current engineers come work with me.” People just kind of naturally gravitate towards him because that’s his style and his approach.

Hannah: You know I talked with a number of advisors who say that their niche found them.

Adam: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Hannah: You know where they thought they were going to be you know, working with widows, or you know what not, and its corporate execs. And they’re just like, “I don’t know how this happened, but apparently this is my niche.”

Adam: Yeah. And it’s pretty fantastic when that starts to happen. And you then the question then comes, okay. Well, going back to the points I made earlier, is that affinity there? So if your niche starts to find you and you don’t like working within that niche, that could be a little bit of a challenge, but usually that doesn’t happen. If your niche finds you it’s because you like working with them and they like working with you. It’s amazing.

It’s amazing the power of liking, right? If I like you, I’m going to like working with you and you’re going to like working with me and we’re going to live happily ever after.

Hannah: What other advice do you have, I mean in your years of experience in the financial services, industry and then profession and coaching advisors, like what would be the biggest mistakes you would hope new planners or young planners would avoid?

Adam: Let’s see. I would say it’s a couple of things, and this is somewhat off the top of my head, and one is nothing ever gets handed to you, and that’s tough because sometimes you think, “Well, as long as I’m smart enough everything’s just naturally going to come to me.” And that doesn’t always happen. You really do have to do the work. And that’s sometimes a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true.

Second is be brave and be confident. This goes back to the conversation that we were having earlier about kind of using the wrong terminology and just kind of getting so, kind of caught up in our own little world that we kind of forget what life is like for other people out there. We think, “Oh gosh. I can’t talk to this person. I don’t have enough knowledge yet,” and you forget that 98 ties out a 100 you have so much more knowledge than the person you’re talking to does, and so you have to be brave and willing to go out there and say, “Look, I can help you. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to be able to help you with just yet because I’m just now getting to know you, but absolutely I can go out there an help you.”

Hannah: And it’s not an arrogance confidence. It can be a humble confidence.

Adam: No it’s not. No it’s not. And you know, that’s tough too, right? It’s that humble confidence. It’s the feeling of look, I can help people. As long as you keep that mindset, that mindset of, “look, I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do it, but I know that I can help you.” Those conversations become so much easier.

This also too goes back to what we were talking about with being persuading versus manipulating. Now manipulating is trying to push somebody into a path that they shouldn’t be going into. And persuading is a matter of helping them get to the right spot. And when you’ve got that mindset, it’s a wonderful thing.   

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Adam Kornegay, of Pathfinder Strategic Solutions and one of the people behind FPA’s new Coaches Corner, wants to help advisors communicate their value and move past the financial “lingo” to tell their story and actually connect with their ideal clients. Pathfinder Strategic Solutions and one of the people behind FPA’s new Coaches Corner, wants to help advisors communicate their value and move past the financial “lingo” to tell their story and actually connect with their ideal clients.
The way he sees it – you have the potential to add real value to the lives of your clients. The sooner you can start marketing yourself and your practice in a way that helps them connect with you on a personal level, the sooner you can start helping them and making an impact.
In this episode, Adam is going to go over the five key elements of telling your story as a financial planner, how to find your niche market, and ways you can start tweaking your marketing and communication today to better connect with your current and prospective clients.


What You’ll Learn:

How to get involved with FPA’s Coaches Corner
The ways that your communication is pushing clients and prospects away from you.
How to avoid industry jargon in your marketing
Words to use that open the door for an honest, valuable connection with your clients
How marketing and communication can help you build long-term client relationships
How to define your niche market
The five key elements to telling your advisor story
The best way to articulate the value you bring to the table

 
Exactly What to Say
 

 
 
 
 
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Hannah Moore clean 46:41
Defining Your Greatest Contribution http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-defining-your-greatest-contribution/ Tue, 03 Apr 2018 18:01:38 +0000 http://fpaactivate.org/?p=11148 http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-defining-your-greatest-contribution/#respond http://financialplannerpodcast.com/yafpnw-defining-your-greatest-contribution/feed/ 0 Rianka Dorsainvil, CFP®, believes that everybody needs to be thinking about what they want their greatest contribution to this world to be. This idea is the cornerstone of her financial planning practice - Your Greatest Contribution - and everything she involves herself in. Rianka Dorsainvil, CFP®, believes that everybody needs to be thinking about what they want their greatest contribution to this world to be. This idea is the cornerstone of her financial planning practice – Your Greatest Contribution – and everything she involves herself in.

From her new podcast on diversity and inclusion in the financial planning industry, 2050 TrailBlazers, to her involvement with the CFP Board and NAFA – it’s no wonder she was voted as one of Investment News’s 2017 Women to Watch!

Early in her career, Rianka worked as a paraplanner. As time went on, she started to feel boxed in. “Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a bird that can’t be caged,” says Rianka. Eventually, her health made the decision for her – and she struck out on her own.

She founded her own financial planning practice, Your Greatest Contribution, because she didn’t want to be defined by the widely accepted definition of “financial planner.” Financial planning is changing, and as financial planners our jobs are constantly shifting to meet the needs of the clients we care about – and everything we do needs to contribute to them, because that relationship is always the most important thing.

In this episode, Rianka talks about being a disruptor in the financial planning industry and her life, how to evolve your career and your financial planning practice to reflect your values, and the importance of connecting with people who are ready to push for positive change.

hannah's signature

If you aren’t bringing your full self forward every single day with the passions and gifts that you’ve been blessed with, then the world is missing out. This profession is missing out. @Rianka_D

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What You’ll Learn:

  • How to become a disruptor rather than the disrupted
  • Why you can’t be held hostage by your job title
  • How to move beyond financial planning to valuable relationship building with your clients
  • How to be true to yourself and bring your full self forward in your job
  • Who to look for within the profession to connect with and grow together
  • How to align your career with what you want YOUR greatest contribution to be

 

FJY Financial

RTD Financial

2050 TrailBlazers (Twitter)

2050 TrailBlazers (iTunes)

IN Women to Watch 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show Transcript

Ep92 Transcript


Hannah: Well thanks for joining us today, Rianka.

Rianka: Thank you so much for having me, Hannah.

Hannah: First of all, I have to say congratulations for the Investment News, Women to Watch Rising Star Award that you just received.

Rianka: Thank you so much.

Hannah: It is so exciting to see women like you really being successful in their career at such a young age. Did you ever think that you would get to that point at such an early … Well number one, did you ever think you’d get to that point much less at a young age?

Rianka: To be honest Hannah, I don’t know. I don’t know. But what I do know for sure is that I’ve always been very mindful, and passionate about what I do and so I think because of that I don’t do anything just to do it. I do it and there’s a purpose behind it. Whatever I do, I do it with a lot of passion and I think it shows. I’ve been like that since I’ve been a young girl, in middle school, in high school. I see that there’s something that I feel like I can help, or change or make a difference and I always raise my hand. I was class president when I was in high school. I ran for vice president of the SGA when I was in college. I have a track record of not being able to just sit on the sidelines and do something about it, and I think it’s just overflowing into my professional career.

Hannah: Did you know that you always wanted to get into financial planning?

Rianka: No, actually. When I was younger, and I remember this, in the fifth grade we had career day and I dressed up as a doctor because my nana was a nurse. I just wanted to follow in her footsteps. I saw how she was helping other people and so that’s what I wanted to do. She had all these books around. I loved watching ER as a young kid. I was like, “Oh, this looks so cool.” She had her stethoscope. So I was just walking around, just wearing it all the time and that’s what I wanted to be.

When I got much older, somewhere it changed. I turned to have a love for math because it was very exact, like A plus B equals, I don’t know, AB. I don’t know, but with math there was something exact about it that you know you’re right or you’re wrong. And so I just turned to have a love for math, and then that love for math turned into helping other people who were having trouble with it, and that’s actually how I met my husband. I was tutoring him in high school. That’s a long story.

Hannah: Oh, that’s great.

Rianka: Yeah. But it turns out, Hannah, that he’s a brilliant smart person and he knew what he was doing the entire time, and he didn’t tell me until our engagement party six years later. So yeah, that’s a long story, maybe for another podcast on relationships, but here we are almost 15 years later, still together. Anyways.

Hannah: Oh, that’s so funny.

Rianka: Yeah, so I have a love for helping people. In middle school, high school, I turned to have a love for math, and then I paired the two and I started helping other people with math. Got to college, that was my major. I declared it to be a math major and then my sophomore year, I took a class called Vector Geometry Calculus. That was one class, Hannah, and I got a C- in that class. I was like, “And this is no longer for me.”

I immediately tried to find alright, what else is there to do? I took an elective course. It was Personal Finance 101. I can’t remember the exact name of it, but this is where I learned about disability insurance, credit scores, social security. My eyes lit up because I was like, “Wow.” Here is actual knowledge that is tangible, that I can use not only today but for the rest of my life. And again, knowing my history of being that type of person that feels like, “Okay. If I can make a difference, if I can fill a void, I will.” I became that financial guru person in college and started spreading the good gospel of personal finance amongst my peers and like, “Hey, did you know this student loan, you’re gonna have to pay it back six months after you graduate, and you’re probably incurring interest? So make sure you’re taking out as much as you actually need, not to go shopping.”

Hannah: Oh, that’s great. So you really bought into this idea of financial planning, really as a helping profession, as something to use what you’re naturally good at to help other people?

Rianka: Yes. For those of us who are financial planners, we know that that’s exactly what this profession is about. It’s about helping others. It’s about building relationships. There’s a lot of misconceptions and myths about financial planning. It’s all about numbers. Definitely if you have a love for math, there are pathways that you can take where you can heavily focus on something like investments, or stand behind the scenes, being the data person. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone doesn’t have to be a lead advisor if that’s not what you wanna do. But for me personally, I love that client interaction. Numbers is a small part of what we do. Well, it’s a big part, but the biggest part is building relationships and building that trust with that client, because you are learning things that most people don’t know about. Honestly, sometimes you learn things that their spouse don’t even know about. That’s huge. That’s a huge responsibility.

Hannah: Yeah, very much that confidante for a lot of people.

Rianka: Yes.

Hannah: I know a lot of new planners find this idea of this helping profession, really wanna help people, and then they get into quote, “the real world,” in their first jobs in the profession. What was that like for you, making that transition of being completely bought into this idea of financial planning, to actually doing financial planning?

Rianka: Well you know, Hannah, I was really lucky because the firm that I started off with, they believed that in order to be a successful financial planner, you had to be in the meetings. My first month I believe it was, I was sitting in client meetings. I started off as a paraplanner. I’m not a huge fan of that term, paraplanner, only because … My first tangent of our interview. Paraplanner, when clients hear that word they automatically compare it to paralegal. With the paralegal, you don’t necessarily have that foundation of education to become a lawyer. You just have this set of knowledge that is capped at what paralegals do.

For paraplanners, we actually have that set of knowledge and education so that we can continue to advance to be a CFP, or a certified financial planner. Though paraplanner is used widely, I would advocate for us to start using associate financial planner, or associate financial adviser because that’s exactly what we are. We have the education. Now it’s just us actually going through and getting our experience so that we can become that lead financial planner or financial adviser. That’s my first tangent.

Alright, going back to your actual question, with what I was assuming, did I get what I expected and the answer is yes. Again, the first month I started at my new job at the firm, we were in client meetings. Our responsibility was to be a sponge and to listen. What I appreciated about that time that we get a little antsy as new planners, because we are eager and ready to just start giving advice and everything, but I believe your first couple of years out of school should just be listening, being a sponge and learning body language. I took notes. I did the paperwork.

It came a time where the client looked to me to ask questions about the paperwork. It’s only paperwork, but you felt so empowered because it’s like I did this, I took ownership. I know exactly how to answer the question for this paperwork, and if anyone has ever filled out a brokerage account form or a transfer or rolling over of the 401K into the rollover IRA, it’s not easy paperwork. Now I feel like I’m dating myself. Now we can probably do it all electronically. But back in my day when we had to highlight the paperwork and put sticky notes in there, you feel empowered and you can answer those questions.

And then you sit, you learn body language. You take notes. It’s the lead adviser or the senior adviser that goes back, read the notes and say, “Hey Rianka, great job on catching this,” or, “You missed something and here’s what you missed.” It’s these little nuances that the senior adviser or lead adviser catch that you may not catch, and it’s a learning opportunity and learning moment. But you don’t catch it if you’re not sitting in the meetings.

I know that there are some firms out there that don’t allow their senior … Excuse me, their paraplanners or associate planners to sit in the meetings, and I think they’re completely missing out. They’re missing out on so much training that they can be giving their paraplanners or associate planners. It’s stunting the growth of that person and that person’s career, because I learned so much just listening and sitting in on those meetings. At that time, also I was building a relationship with the client. Even if I said hello and goodbye, it was still okay, this person could put a face to a name. Oh, this is Rianka.

Hannah: So your first job out of school, how long did you stay there?

Rianka: I was there for almost five years. Almost five years I was at my first firm. It was again, great learning, comprehensive financial planning firm. They actually taught me what it meant to a comprehensive financial planner. That was my example to go upon. When people say, “Oh yeah, I’m a comprehensive financial planner,” but the only thing you talk about is investments, I look at you sideways.

Hannah: You have this great job. You have this great firm. What prompted you to move onto a different role or different company?

Rianka: It was time for me to go. The best analogy I can view it is as a relationship. The first couple of years it was great. With any type of relationship, you go through growing pains. You’re learning me, I’m learning you. I’m learning what buttons I can push. They’re learning what buttons they can push. They know how far to push me. I know how far to push them. It’s great. And then it’s more growing pains, and it’s more growing pains. It started to be it’s me, it’s not you. So that we can just have a good relationship going forward, it’s time for me to spread my wings. If anyone personally knows me, they know I am a bird that cannot be caged. I started to feel that way, where I truly believe for me personally that I am a certified financial planner. I’m a financial planner but I’m so much more. I have so much to give to this world. That if you hold me hostage to my title of just a financial planner, you’re not allowing me to give all of my gifts to this world. And so I had to leave.

Hannah: Okay. Let’s talk about that really quick, because I think that’s a really interesting point that you’re making, that you’re more than your title of financial planner. When you say that, what does that mean for you?

Rianka: I believe sometimes we get stuck in what it says on the paper that our role is. As an associate financial planner, you do X, Y and Z and then it stops. Or when you’re the lead financial adviser, financial planner, it says X, Y and Z and then you stop. Again, for me I see that, and I see that okay, that’s what I’m supposed to do. That’s what I’m getting paid for. However, I have so much more to give. Sometimes what ends up happening is that the firm owners look to you and say, “Well, this is all that I expect of you. Of course, you can do a little bit more, but that’s it.” Then they hold you hostage to that title.

What I mean by I’m so much more than that, is yes I’m a financial planner, but I’m also an educator. I’m also a community leader. I’m also a mentor. I’m also a mentee. Sometimes those things are gonna take me out of the office. Those things will never come in the way of what I know what comes first, which is my clients. If you are at a traditional firm, and the firm has been doing things a certain way for over 20 years, and for someone like me who is a disruptor … And I say that in the most positive way.

A disruptor with technology, right? Technology right now is a disruptor because we have the robo advisers, which is just technology for investments. They’re not true advisers. But we have the robo advisers. That’s a disruption of technology. We have virtual firms now. That’s a disruption. That’s what I mean by just being that disruption of saying, “Hey, we can do things a different way.” Honestly, all of the new planners that are coming into this career, into this profession, they’re all disruptors because they are looking at things in a new light. Some people look at that as a negative, where I look at that as a positive. I’m saying if we’re going to continue to move this profession forward, we have to disrupt what has been going on so that we can stay with the pace of what’s happening around the world.

Hannah: This idea of that we’re all disruptors, I think that’s a really powerful idea of realizing you look at … I was talking to somebody recently about disruptive leadership. New planners coming into this profession, they’re not the future leaders of the profession. They’re the leaders today-

Rianka: Today.

Hannah: … of the profession.

Rianka: Yes.

Hannah: I think that’s such an important point, and such an important thing for new planners to realize. To me, that’s the most exciting thing for entering this profession is the impact that you can have in your first couple years. It can be so powerful on firms and the profession at large.

Rianka: I definitely agree. I definitely agree. For me, the lens that I’m looking through, I’ve said this before, you will be the disruptor or you will be the disrupted. I hope that these firm owners wanna be on the disruptor side, meaning they are looking at technology and seeing that as a tool that they can use from an advantage standpoint, and to also help move the profession forward. We have video technology where now we don’t have to physically ask clients to come into the office. I’m on the East Coast. I’m in the DC area. We can have clients in California. We can have clients in Italy. We can have clients literally all over the world. We can still build a really great relationship with them because it’s not just a phone call. It’s video. They can actually see us. We can see into their homes. I can meet their cats or dogs. I can meet their children, where a lot of that cannot take place necessarily in an office.

So from a disruption standpoint, it’s technology. You will either try to fight it, or you will embrace it. For the new planners coming in, what I will ask of them is please have patience because the firm owners have been in this profession for 15, 20, maybe even 25 to 30 years. They have been used to doing things a certain way. For them, that’s safe. Maybe they are almost at a point where they’re about to retire, where they’re just like, “You know what? I don’t wanna do anything different. I just wanna do things the way I know how to do it, and that’s it.” If that’s the mindset they have, don’t fight it because that’s who they are and you cannot change them.

Then there are firm owners who have been in the profession for 20 years, 20, 30 years and they are embracing change. They’re like, “Oh, well I can learn this bit of technology. Let’s try to bring this video technology into the office. Oh, you mean we can have a group discussion quarterly with our clients?” And they’re embracing it. Again, you’re gonna be the disruptor or you’re gonna be disrupted. You are going to embrace or you’re gonna try to fight. The firms who are fighting this new technology, the firms who are fighting these new ideas, they will be the disrupted.

Hannah: Yeah. I would add it’s really frustrating being in the job when you’re working with somebody who it’s so obvious to you that they’re gonna be the ones getting disrupted. But just know that there’s other planners out there who don’t think like that. If you don’t see them, find them.

Rianka: Right.

Hannah: Go to FPA events. Go to national events. Find those people, because those are your people. Those are the people you wanna be associated with.