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As a financial advisor, you help clients achieve their financial goals. So you first need to find out what their goals are.

But the worst way to do that is to ask them. In fact, if you ask your clients about their goals, you might be sending them straight to another advisor.

That’s because all humans are irrational and biased. Once you accept that, you’ll be much better at helping clients get what they want—and keeping clients around for years.

In this episode, financial advisor, speaker and author Carl Richards stops by to show you how to serve your clients better by being realistic about human nature.

Want to serve your clients better and keep them for longer? Listen now!

Show highlights include: 

  • Why selling financial certainty hurts clients and makes them leave you (even if you don’t know you’re selling certainty) (16:30)
  • The “Guide” mindset that helps you make the best possible plan for your clients (that even works when you’re wrong) (19:11)
  • How to replace 200-page financial plans with a ball pen and a legal pad (and make your clients stick around longer) (24:27)
  • Why your main job as a financial advisor is to help your clients say no (31:03)
  • The “1-2-3” plan to find a niche that attracts high-paying clients in droves (34:20)

If you’re looking for a way to set more appointments with qualified prospects, sign up for James’ brand new webinar about how financial advisors can get more clients with email marketing.

Go to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/webinar to register today.

Go to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/Coaching and pick up your free 90 minute download called “5 Keys to Success for Financial Advisors” when you join The James Pollard Inner Circle.

Discover how to get even better at marketing yourself with these resources:




Read Full Transcript

You're listening to Financial Advisor Marketing, the best show on the planet for financial advisers who want to get more clients without all the stress. You're about to get the real scoop on everything from lead generation to closing the deal. James is the founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com, where you can find an entire suite of products designed to help financial advisers grow their businesses more rapidly than ever before. Now, here is your host, James Pollard. [00:31.7]

James: Financial Advisors, welcome to another week, another episode of the Financial Advisor Marketing Podcast. You've already read the title, you know that I'm speaking with the man, the myth, the legend, Carl Richards. I love his material. We're going to talk about a little bit about ‘The One-Page Financial Plan. We're going to talk about ‘Behavior Gap,’ both books written by him. I encourage you to go to Amazon and purchase them right away, if you haven't read them. At the time of this recording, I know that The One-Page Financial Plan is a dollar 99 on Kindle, I don't know what I paid them either way, if it was a hundred times that price it's still worth every penny, but let's jump right into it. Carl, for the people who are listening to the show, who may not know about you, can you tell them a little bit about yourself. [01:13.1]

Carl: Yeah, James, thanks first of all, for having me super excited to chat. So, I, I got into the industry, the financial services industry speaking, sort of really largely speaking broadly, I got into the financial services industry in 95, 1995, quite by accident actually. I thought I was applying to be a security guard, and the ad said security is not security. And I didn't, I didn't know the difference. So, I got into the industry quite by accident, but just a couple of months after that, we had this crazy experience in the, in the stock market. And it was when most many of you, many of your listeners won't even remember this, but it was when Netscape went public. And I, it was my first experience dealing with humans and investments at the same time. And man, it was no longer, you know, like, as we say, we weren't in Kansas anymore. Like it was suddenly crazy people, excited people worried. And so it was that experience really, without going into a lot of detail, it was that experience of like seeing people behave and really fascinating ways that didn't fit in a spreadsheet, right. People behaving in ways that didn't fit in a spreadsheet, that's kept me in the industry for the last 20, whatever 25 years. I, after being the security guard, you know, like after my first job, I, I went to work for a big brokerage firm, which we'll go in named, but has a bull as its symbol and is owned by bank. And that was amazing. And then I left to start my own RIA firm and ran that for a couple of years. Well, for a while, actually, and in the middle of that, I started by accident, I would get asked these questions by clients like these were really smart, intelligent, successful people. [03:00.7]

And I was trying to explain a concept to them. In fact, I remember the first ones, it was date, their names were Dave and Diane. And Dave was emergency room doctor, Diane was a technology sales rep, super smart, successful. I was trying to explain a concept to them and I was just getting blank stares. And I thought it was really good at this. Like, I worked really hard at making things clear and simple, if you will. And I was just getting blank stares and out of sort of an act of desperation I jumped up at the whiteboard, which I'd never used before and in the conference room that I was using and drew something. And I don't remember exactly what it was, but I'm telling you right now, it was like nothing profound, it was like squares and circles and arrows or something. And they were like, oh, I get it now. Right, Like the light bulb went on. And so, I started doing that more and I started a little blog called Behavior Gap and you know, nobody was reading it. I mean, my mom and my sister said they were, but my, I think my sister was lying. So, it was like just my mom and I, but I just kept doing it, kept doing it, kept doing it and a year or so later through some more kind of fortunate, awesome, I'm a huge fan of luck like just lucky events, it landed on the desk of the editor, the, ‘Your Money’ section of the New York times and they asked me to do it there. And so that started a 10-year run of a weekly column called ‘the sketch guy.’ So, I did this column for them somewhere in the middle of that, I got asked to write a book. And right when the book came out, I realized like I had to make a decision between running my financial planning firm and what was happening now, like this book and all these speaking engagements. And so, I sold the financial planning firm to a great group of people that, that took as good, if not better care of my clients than I did. And so, I've just been sort of writing and speaking and helping people start businesses ever since. So that's the short version of the bio. [04:56.1]

James: Well, I think that's one of the reasons why I like you so much and I like people like you because you have the business experience on one hand. You have been through it and through everything. You have the mind of both an investor and someone who is helping investors, meaning you have been on both sides of the table and you can simplify the concepts. It is very difficult for a lot of people to have both. There are people who are incredibly brilliant, just like you said, these are really smart people, but there's, it's like the curse of knowledge where they know so much and they're so advanced that they can't get down to the level of the people they're trying to help. And I think that you're one of the few people who has been able to have such an extraordinary bank of knowledge, but still be able to explain concepts in a simple way. And speaking of that for financial advisors who are listening to the podcast, you won't be able to see those Carl and I are talking on zoom. I hold in my hands, a copy of his book, ‘The Behavior Gap,’ which is autographed by the way, which I think is really cool. It's one of my priced possessions. And the subtitle of this is Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money. And I've always wanted to ask you this in your experience, what is the dumbest thing, or maybe you can give two or three things that people do with their money. [06:12.0]

Carl: Yeah, it's a super good question. It's really fun to talk about. I think one thing that's really important when we talk about that is, is the need to kind of back up and remind ourselves of how easy it is to sort of point at other people and talk about dumb things they do. And there's this sense of kind of smugness. That's kind of crept into the financial advice industry, if you will. As we've learned about behavioral finance, we've sort of, I, and I see this happening publicly all the time on social media where people are like, oh, that's really dumb and like dumb, dumb, dumb. I think we need to remember just a, and then we'll talk about the things that we do, but I think we just need to back up and always remind ourselves, like these are human mistakes. In many cases, they're almost, almost like genetic hardwired survival traits that have actually served us really, really well. So, the mistakes we make with money have often kept us alive as a species, right. So that's why I think it's such an interesting concept is I can't remember who said it, but somebody said, ‘if you were to design a bad investor, you would design a human. [07:22.3]

James: Hmm…hmm.

Carl: Right. So, with that context, I just think we need more empathy and more like hugs before the lectures in public. And so, I'm always sort of, I always just want to make sure I slip that in because it's important. So now let's talk about some of the mistakes we make. You know, I think the easy ones are, and most of these have a name, right. The easy ones are things to do with investing because it's so easy to see. And one of the easiest ones is recency bias, right, where we take the recent past and we projected indefinitely into the future. And the challenge with recency bias is that the definition of recent past has gotten really short lately. Again, I think it's been progressively getting shorter and shorter as we've had to deal with the day luge and the speed at which information is coming at us. So, I would just sort of blame kind of Twitter and social media and news for it. But it used to be that the recent past was months, if not a year or more, now it feels like the reason past can be like literally hours, right like we can have some big thing blowing up in the world, in the financial markets. And we suddenly think if I don't get out, now this thing's going to zero, right, like, would we take the last half hour of news and we projected indefinitely and I I've actually, I mean, I've done this myself, for sure. I do this all the time, it's hard not to. [08:52.9]

But I've seen people calculate, right? Like I'm down X percent in the last 20 minutes. If this continues in seven months, I'll have zero. You know, like, so that's, that's the recency bias and we do this both negative and positive. Like the way it shows up in, in maybe personal finance life would be like, let's say you get a bonus every year in January and you've gotten it two years in a row. So now it's October, November, you're looking at a new house, right. And the last two years in a row, you've gotten a bonus in January. And when you go to look at the new house, you think, ah, man, maybe we can afford more than we think we can because surely, we're going to get that bonus in January. And then of course maybe things changed and the bonus doesn't come in January and you're all in all sorts of trouble. So, we do this both on the, on the positive or the negative side. So, recency bias is easy. Another one that's really interesting to me like endlessly fascinating is overconfidence. You know, if you take a group, an overconfidence is, it's not, this is not a sexist statement. Overconfidence is a problem, both male and female, but it's a, it's a larger problem among males. And there's all sort of like we could spend a bunch of time talking about that. But if you put a group of men in a room and ask them how a hundred men in a room and say, how many of you are average drivers? How many of you are above average drivers? I mean, like you get like 80% of the hands would be raised and we just know that's historically not possible. [10:30.3]

So, overconfidence is challenging because overconfidence is sort of what you get when experts behave like experts, you know, like it's a problem of experts. So, it's really, really challenging because you don't, you also don't like you would never want an overconfident surgeon, brain surgeon, but you would definitely not want an under-confident one. So, like finding that mix and so, the way overconfidence shows up and overconfidence it, this is my last little bit, James. Overconfidence has a sort of a, a twin that's often like linked with overconfidence and it's, they're just troublemakers when they're together, like super big problems. So, if you're overconfident and then you go around looking for information to support what you've already decided, that's called confirmation bias. And like an example would be if you wake, if you make a decision to make a huge change to your business as a financial advisor or to your client's portfolios, or if you're a client, if you're acting as a human now and you were going to make a huge change to your investment portfolio, and you're really confident, it's the right thing and then the next morning you open your email and there's two emails. And one says 10 points of evidence to support what you decided last night. And the other one says 10 points of evidence that disagree with what you decided last night. What confirmation bias does is you delete one, you open one email and you delete the other. And there's no prizes for guessing which one I'm talking about, right. Like you're going to open the one that supports. So those are some of the things, right. Like recency bias, not understanding overconfidence. If you, if you don't think you suffer from overconfidence, that's a problem, right. Like, like you may start there. [12:18.3]

James: Hmm…hmm.

Carl: And then understanding confirmation bias. So those are, those are some of the things that I think are really important to understand from a behavioral finance perspective.

James: That's really done a number on my brain because whenever I, not all the time, but it, a topic that comes up frequently, financial advisors is like, oh, well, how do you invest your money? And I'm an open book with a lot of people. I am far more conservative than I should be as an investor. And I wonder if I'm going too far in the other direction. I'm primarily, I think the bias that I should come to the most and I'm fighting against it. I'm a yield chaser. I like to chase yield in investments, not just in stocks. I've made that mistake in the past. I am primarily a dividend investor though. So, the way I talk to myself is I'm just going to pile a bunch of money over here and I'm just going to get the dividend payments. And when I talk to financial advisors, they're like, you should take more risks here. And like you're missing out on appreciation and so on and so forth. So, I'm very cognizant of this, but I'm also wary cause I, sometimes I will look at these financial advisors. I'm like, are you overconfident? And we spook each other out is.

Carl: Yeah.

James: What I think happens. [13:25.1]

Carl: For sure. For sure. I mean, I mean, one thing that's interesting, we just about a, maybe about a year ago. Yeah, about a year ago we hired a new financial planner and she's amazing, like just ridiculously good. And in the, I don't know, it was probably like the fourth or fifth. I mean, she's read a bunch of my work, so it's really painful because I just get my own work kind of thrown back at me all. She'll say things like somebody once said, and then she'll have a direct quote from one of the books. And I'm like, but she maybe like the third or fourth meeting she said, and she, we hired her because we told her like, you need, if you're not a drill Sergeant, like if you don't get up in our faces and tell us, like, we may fire you for what you might say like, but we'll definitely fire you if you don't say it. So, it was like, you got to get up in our faces. Like don't let us play games and certainly, don't let me sell you any ice cream. In like our third or fourth meeting, she said, she said, and I had given her permission to be really blunt with us. She said, Carl, it's hilarious, like hilarious that you thought you were the best person for the job of financial planner for your family. That was super impactful for me. Like realized, we'd had financial planners before, but we were in like a three-year hiatus. And it's really interesting, we do psych ourselves out. We have blind spots and by definition, James, the blind spot like this, the most profound thing, I'll say all day, you can't see your own, right. Like we're really good as financial advisors that seeing everybody else's blind spots and then for some reason we don't think we have our own. And so, I think that's really important for us to understand. [15:06.4]

James: So, another concept that I learned from you is that the goal of, and this is you talk about direct quotes. This is a direct quote from you. “The goal of a real financial planner is to be a guide in a changing landscape, not the defender of an outdated map.” What does that mean? [15:22.6]

Carl: Yeah. I could talk forever about, this is my favorite subject and it's just so like, I I'm, I'm being a little bit sarcastic here, but like, it's so cute that we think we can plan somebody's life for 30 years. Like there's just when you start to understand, and if you want to spend any time understanding this, just go spend some time around complexity theory, even further chaos theory. But humans and markets are complex adaptive systems. And what that means is there's no chance in the world, we know what is going to happen almost tomorrow, let alone 5, 10, 30 years from now. And so, when we draw these lines called a financial plan and we say it to a client like I'm 97.325% confident, you know, using Monte Carlo that this is what your life is going to look like. It's crazy. And so, it's not that the tool is wrong. Monte Carlo wasn't designed to tell people what the next 30. Monte Carlo was designed to give you a model and models by definition are not reality and never will be. And so, it's more a function of the language that we use and our own interpretation, our own it's the way we feel and the way we try to help clients feel and what we end up doing and where this is a huge risk. Like we end up selling certainty, and certainty, super easy to sell, but it's impossible to deliver. And the reason that it's easy to sell is because everybody wants it. [16:56.9]

James: Yes agreed.

Carl: But you cannot, you can't deliberate. Like you can't, if you think, if you, I mean, just go back, like we have such a great example, right? Go back to January of 2000, just look at what your plans were for January for 2000. Like, where are we going to be in June? What were you gonna be doing? What vacation had you planned with your family? I’m talking January, like really, we could even go like may, like where, what vacation did you plan for your family and your first vacation of the summer in June. Six months, we can even go to February, right? February, we can use it five months later, you were locked down in your house. You know what I'm saying, they're like, so to pretend. So, what I'm saying by a guide in a changing landscape, instead of a defender of a map, a guide has a map, right. A guide plan, if you're guiding somebody in the mountains, I've been guided in the mountains and I've also guided people in the mountains and on rivers in New Zealand. So, I know what I'm talking about here. I made a plan, a map, like the only thing scarier. I mean, it would be pretty scary to show up to a guidance situation and the guide would go, I have no idea what we're going to do today. No, you have a map, but you know, for sure that the map, the plan is going to turn out different. In other words, the only thing, you know, for sure about the plan is that it's wrong. You just don't know which direction or how much yet. You don't know how it's wrong or when that will show up. [18:28.8]

And so, I think as soon as we loosen our grip on uncertainty, we open ourselves up to this much better job. We're going to use the same tools. We're still going to create a financial plan, but we're going to use language like James, you know, we've done everything we can to have a really the most accurate picture we can, or the next 30 years of your life. This is what it looks like, right. And, but I want you to know James, I know it's not going to turn out. I mean, we both know it's not going to turn out this way. And the most important part of this is that this gives us a baseline, right. It gives us something to pull us in a certain direction, but even that direction is going to change. And so, I want you to know I'm going to be there. What's going to be really most important is the course corrections. So as soon as we embraced the, the job of being a guide instead of a defender, because I see so many people defending like, no, no, no, that's right. No, that's right, it's right. It reminds me of long-term capital management. Some of your listeners will remember Long-Term Capital Management, but many of them wont. They had like three or four Nobel prize winners on the staff there, like PhD thing blew up and caused massive trouble. I mean, the fed had to step in like a big problem. [19:38.8]

One of the, one of the founders of Long-Term Capital Management, you know, a Nobel prize winner said actually said, “Our model, wasn't wrong. Reality just didn't conform to it.” Right. And that's what I'm pointing out is, let's understand that the model one last comparison flight plans. Every commercial pilot I've ever met, I asked, I made, I've made a habit of asking what percentage of the flights do you prepare a detailed flight plan? And the answer is always, you know, all of them, I always prepare a detailed flight plan. And the second question is, how often does the flight go exactly according to the plan. And the answer has always been never. So, we want to do the best, and this requires you to hold two things in your head at the same time. These are competing facts, and this is hard for humans, but as an adult, you should be able to do this. We want to make the best plan we can. We want to be killer with the spreadsheets and the calculators, right. Like this is the best plan ever. It's 100%, right? And we've got to accept that it's going to be wrong. [20:50.8]

And that sort of open to error, in fact, I like to think of like, make the plan and then actively look for disconfirming evidence, cause it's going to show up. All right, when it shows up, you want to be the one to say, Hey, turns out this assumption we made right here, Hey, you didn't make as much money as we thought you would. That inheritance didn't come, the markets didn't behave the way we expected, right. Like whatever the, the, the variable, the error that shows up, we've got to stop feeling bad about it. We've got to stop getting defensive. We've got to stop. Even the term error and wrong. I don't feel bad when I say those words, right. It's just the wrongness in the system. So that's what I mean by defense. Plus let me just like, it's a way better job because selling certainty is just a myth and it ends up being a treadmill, like whatever, a durable wheel, like the turnstile of clients. Because five years later, it turns out you weren't right. Oh no, I gotta leave. You gotta find somebody else. If we're just honest about it from the beginning, we can build 20-year, 30-year relationships and it's so much better. So anyway, that's what I mean by that phrase. [22:10.3]

Hey, financial advisors – if you’d like even more help building your business, I invite you to subscribe to James’ monthly paper-and-ink newsletter, The James Pollard Inner Circle.
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Head on over to TheAdvisorCoach.com/coaching to learn more. [22:32.8]

James: It's interesting that you bring up certainty because within The Advisor Coach, we have a publication called ‘the inner circle newsletter.’ And in the last month newsletter issue, we did a deep dive into Vanguard and Jack Bogle. And why I believe Bogle was the greatest financial services marketer ever. One of the things he did, and I'm not going to give too much away in our circles are inner circle members, so don't worry. One of the things that Bogle did was sell certainty and he was great at it. Because he would sell the public on the idea that if they invested in his index fund, which came out in 19, well, December 31st, 1975, everybody says 1976, but who am I to correct? They would be certain to get average market returns. So, he was piling on certainty. And to your point, certainty is a double-edged sword. Because what financial advisors need to do in my opinion is to be certain that they have done the best that they can for the person's interests. [23:31.5]

And they have done, they are certain that they are transparent, that there is no such thing about certainty. You need to be certain that you are just, like I said, doing everything you can to make sure that you, in an example that you gave in one of your videos about being the guide and having the map is if there's a thunderstorm, the guide knows what to do. Things change, rains past clouds, go away. That is what a financial advisor needs to do. And a financial advisor needs to be certain that he or she can handle whatever is thrown in the way. And I think one of the best ways to do that is what you call ‘The One-Page Financial Plan,’ and you're famous for this concept. For people who don't know what is The One-Page Financial Plan and why is it beneficial for both clients and financial advisors, financial planners. [24:22.3]

Carl: Yeah. Probably the easiest way is like the shortest version of this is, you know, you do a financial plan and you print it out, it's 200 pages and two inches thick. And we all know no one looks at it. I mean, the only reason anybody looks at it is if they either a, they're a sort of stereotypical engineer that sort of gets into that kind of stuff or be they start questioning you, right. Because the only reason you ever get a second opinion is if you doubt the diagnosis and the prescription. So, let's just, if you have this normal financial plan, almost nobody looks at them. They're they're really the, the large financial plan is really for us, not for the client. So, I, when I first discovered this, I remember who it was with. It was with a client, her name was Christine, and she was a technology sales at super successful technology sales rep works for big company everybody would know. And I remember saying to her, I'm like, Hey, Christina, you've got your financial plan here. We've got two choices. I can print it out and we can go through it together. Or I can show you here on the legal pad, lLike I just had a blank legal pad in my calculator. I'm like, I could just walk you through it on the legal pad. And she was like I said, which one would you prefer? And she said, she literally said to me, is that a question? Right, like, are, are you, are you joking? Of course, I'd rather have you walk me through the legal path. Right and then I was like, wow, that's really interesting. [25:40.3]

So, I tried it with the next client. I said, look, I can print out the two-inch-thick book if you want, but I already know what it's going to tell you, right. Let me walk you through. So, what I think of that, that started my earliest thinking and that was like, geez, that was like 17 or 18 years ago. That started my earliest thinking around this one-page plan. And then the next sort of version of it was me…Like, I'm a reductionist. I'm always trying to take, we work really, I work really hard to send people less. And there's an old saying, sorry, for the long letter, I didn't have time for a shorter one. So, like trying to get things down to one page. And I remember I kept getting asked and this will illustrate why it's useful for the client. I kept getting asked and I still do like, Hey, would you like to be an advisor on this cool FinTech startup? Or do you want to be an angel investor in this fund? Or that fund, like, do you want to start this business or that business? And I would go down these deep rabbit holes. And then I would always remember like, wait, that's not serving my wife and I, our families plan. [26:47.6]

So, I finally just wrote it out. I don't have it right here, but I have an actual piece of cardstock with a Sharpie where I just wrote it out and I pinned it on the wall. And it says, so this is, this is what a one-page financial plan is. I'm hoping that someday this will be like an industry standard. Like it starts with a statement of financial purpose. So let me wrap up a little bit here, like take the 200-page plan and pretend like you have to write an executive summary, right. And if you want to call it an executive summary, fine, call it an executive summary. I know you might still have to have the 200-page plan. I know you may still have a bunch of disclosures, compliance, whatever, but I've talked to a lot of compliance people all over the world. They all love executive summaries. So yeah, sure. You may still have 120 pages and then this one thing on top. What's on the one thing on top? [27:35.1]

To me that what's on the one thing on top is first a statement of financial purpose. And that's just a simple statement of why. And this is, I was, it was almost my answer earlier. Like the biggest mistake people make with money is they never take time to define why? Like, why are you doing it? So, the top of mind says time with my family, mainly outside and serving in my community. That's what mine says, it's literally written. Time with my family, mainly outside serving my community. That's a statement of financial purpose. One of my clients, his name was Jerry. Jerry said, I just never want to be a burden to the kids. [28:08.2]

James: One of somebody I saw somebody post about that this morning, where it’s one of the most common questions that he gets told is that his clients don't want to be a burden to their kids. That's a button topic.

Carl: Yeah. You know what, if a client actually verbalizes that to you, it deserves to be written down somewhere like it's, especially in their words, like that's the goal of the statement of financial purpose, capture it in their words. I could go through hundreds of examples. The next step in a one base plan is goals. And you can't ask anybody about their goals until you've had this earlier discussion. Like you can't say to me, what are your goals? Why I sit in the foyer with an intake form? That's outlawed. It's never allowed. It's not allowed anymore. You can't do it. I could go, I could spend an hour talking about why. It's because people don't know. People don't know what their goals are. So, you need to show them what their goals are by saying, oh Carl, that's interesting time with your family, mainly outside. Let's put some framework around that. What would that look like? What would have to happen financially in order for you to do that? And then out of that conversation, you can go cool. Once we put some framework around the James, let's call that a goal, right. So, you've got a list of goals. [29:09.5]

The goal should be ordered in priority. Like internally, we would talk about riskiness, which one's the weak link in the chain. If this one broke, the whole chain would break. In clients' eyes, the way you would phrase it is I've listed your goals in order of importance. And it's important to realize that one client getting their kids through the best universities they could possibly go to maybe the most important thing ever. Like I'm thinking of lots of like first generation immigrant families that I've had these discussions with. They're like, I don't care if I can ever retire. My kids are going to the best school ever, right. Somebody else may say, you know what? I look, I weren't, I earned my own way through school, they got to figure it out. And so.

James: That’s me. [29:52.8]

Carl: Yeah, and both of those are fine. Like, keep your values off their plans, right. But in ranking their goals, one of those, the goal would be best school ever, right. And another one would be, whatever else was important and say, oh, if we have some money left over, we'll help her with school, right. So, saving a financial purpose goals. And then next actions I like to think of is next 90 days. What are you going to do in the next 90 days? And then that that's the whole one-page plan, right? And the reason it matters is because it's a living document, right. It, every time we accomplish one of the goals that gets crossed off and we now have new action steps, it's the document that gets referred to. If the client gets nervous, you say, Hey, James, glad you called. Can I grab something from your file real quick? What do you grab? You grab their plan. And you say, James, you told me time with your family mainly outside and serving your community is the most important thing to you. Is that still true? Cool. Hey, based on that, here's the goals we had. Based on that, here's what we're working on. Are we all on the same page? It gives them the one-page plan gives them a touchstone to come back to when they're feeling nervous. You're largely, a financial planners, financial advisor's job is to help clients say no to a bunch of behavior that will be bad for them. The only way to do it, I've been working on this for 25 years. The only way to do it is to give them a deeper, yes. A connection to a deeper, yes. So, I can say no to that, if I'm like, oh yeah, that's right. I care a lot about this. The problem is when we forget the deeper, yes, then we're, we're saying yes to all the nos. You know what I mean? So that's what a one-page plan is all about. [31:32.0]

James: That is absolutely incredible. It's so important for people to come back to this. They want their goals that more than the fear is controlling their behavior or more than the bad stuff. Like market goes down 30%, they freak out like, wait, nope, stay the course. You told me that this is important to you. So that is awesome. I want to bring this thing home. And since this is The Financial Advisor Marketing podcast, are there any specific marketing strategies that you've seen working well for financial advisors, either that have stayed strong throughout the past couple of decades or anything that has been working well in the past two years at anything, I'm just going to leave the floor open to you. [32:12.5]

Carl: Yeah. I don't, I get asked about marketing a lot and I don't know how to even begin to help someone unless they have a specialization or a niche. Niche in America, I guess, right. And here's what I mean by that. Everyone doesn't exist anymore, right. Like maybe in the fifties, you could take out a Superbowl ad or whatever, like put something in the newspaper. And may when we had three channels on the news, like honestly, that I can remember that ABC, CBS and whatever else, NBC, there was three channels on the news. Maybe back then everyone existed. Now everyone doesn't exist. And because everyone doesn't exist and the world's gotten so noisy. And our industry is no exception, just so noisy, just blah, blah, blah, blah. There's so much noise. Your greatest challenge is becoming relevant in someone's life. And the question to ask yourself is like, who is your work for? Who is it for? And people who have money is not the right answer, right. Like it, the narrower, the better, like I just discovered a financial advisor who works with tattoo artists who own their own studios. [33:30.9]

James: Yes, me too. I've messaged this guy I, well didn’t message him. I commented on his stuff. This guy blew my mind. Does his first name again with a C.

Carl: Uhhh…

James: Do you remember?

Carl: I can’t, I can’t remember. It was literally two days ago and I can't.

James: Yes.

Carl: And so.

James: I was blown away too.

Carl: I've got a buddy who works just with optometrists.

James: Hmm…hmm.

Carl: When you go to the tattoo guy's website or the autonomous website, you know, in three seconds, if it's for you. The optometrist website has this set of glasses, the tattoo artist has the ink and the tattoo, you know, in three seconds, if it's for you. Now, the reason we don't do this, like if I were to start a new business, it would be and I had just about started it, when I decided to sell my firm was it would be entrepreneurs with a successful exit over 10 million. Because I like those people. So, here's the steps. Find a group of people that you like. I mean, I, this is a chicken and egg problem. I normally, what I say is find a problem you're interested in solving, right. Find a problem. And the easiest way to do this as occupationally. [34:36.8]

James: Amen.

Carl: Find a problem that you're interested in solving, then find a group of people who have that problem. But look, I'm happy to, I'm going to just walk you through the steps because no one listening will do this. Because everybody thinks it's too simple.

James: Yup.

Carl: And so hopefully this is an exception. Hopefully your audience is an exception, cause everyone who does this succeeds. I can't think of a single example. So, find a problem. You're interested in solving, find a group of people who have that problem. The reason occupations are so easy, so helpful is because we know where those people hang out. We know what podcasts they listen to. We know what trade magazines they go to. We know what conferences they go to. We know what books they read. So, find a group of people. Then go interview 10 of those people. If you want, what I would do is I would do that in public. In other words, I would make that into, I would record those interviews with permission, I would release those as podcast episodes. I would, we do everything that way. It's just everything's byproduct. So go interview. But if you don't do it in public its fine. Go interview 10 of those people. They could be your friends, family, you know, they could be people who serve those people. So, like an accountant who specializes in architects that own their own firm with 10 or less employees. I've got a buddy who that's his niche. I've got another friend who needs artists that have made over a million and sold over a million dollars in art. Like all he needs is 25 of them, right. Like, so go interview 10 of those people and ask them questions. [36:09.1]

Like what's the biggest mistake you see people making? What's the number one thing you did? If you had to go back to X school architect school, what class do they wish you would have taught? If you could design a relationship with the financial and all you do when you call to interview them is just say, I am trying to understand the exact words, I am trying to understand. Hi James. I'm trying to understand the unique challenges that entrepreneurs with the success who've been through a successful exit face. And your name was given to me by John who thought you might have some unique insight into that. Would you mind if I met you for coffee? I don't even drink coffee, but it's a metaphor, right? Would you mind if I met you for coffee for 15 minutes and we, and I'll just ask you some simple questions. My goal is to write a white paper on what I find. And as a thank you, I'll make sure I get you a pre-publication copy. Go interview them. If you can record it with permission, it's easy. Nobody ever says no, I've never had anybody say no. It's scary, but it's easy. [37:09.5]

Then take what they say and turn it into content. I just had lunch with a, you can say a friend. I just had lunch with a friend. I just had lunch with an acquaintance. Just had lunch with an entrepreneur. He said this, isn't that interesting. So suddenly you start waving a flag and it becomes a signal and the signal among all the, there's so much noise that like signals really stick out these days. Do those 10 times. At the end of the 10th time. Really, honestly like the third time you're going to be like, oh my gosh, I've heard this before. You're going to start noticing trends. We did this with dentists years ago. And the, by the third time I noticed the trend. The trend was, I feel chained to the chair. If I'm not at work, I'm not making money. Guess what we called the white paper - Unchained from the chair. So, what we want is when people read it, they go, oh my gosh, Carl, how did you know that? And I used to always answer like kind of sarcastic. They used to say, it's crazy, James. We asked you like, we cared enough to actually ask you. So, we want them to recognize their own voice the way they describe the problem. If you do that, gosh, then now it's so easy. So easy podcast, Twitter, LinkedIn, white paper. Eventually you go do it two or three times. You're at two or three white papers, you put those correlates, correlate those into a small book, you become the person who wrote the book for entrepreneurs with a successful exit under 10 million, for architects for. [38:42.8]

You know, I used to do lunchbox physicians. They were they called themselves the lunchbox physicians because they had no plant and equipment. ER, anesthesia and radiology. They have no plant equipment. They do a shift at the, at the hospital, they go home. They have their own escort. Because they have their own escort, typically, just with a spouse is the only employee, they have some amazing opportunities for retirement planning that you don't have otherwise. So, what do I know about those people? Like I know already, I know so much. They call themselves lunchbox physicians, cause they show up at their lunchbox, do their thing, go home. They have an escort, right? I can now talk their language when they read it, they go, oh gosh, nobody's ever said this to me. Why did I, why wasn't I taught this in medical school? So that's what I would do. [39:25.3]

James: You're preaching to the choir and you are so right that, I mean, hopefully somebody out there will do it. People have been doing this for years financial advisors. It's been a secret within like even old school, direct marketers. You've got guys like Eugene Schwartz, Gary Halbert, Gary Bencivenga, who would say the same thing. They would just go out. They would interview their audiences. If it's a product to fix cars, I remember faintly, remember that Eugene Schwartz had something like this, where he would interview people who would work on their cars and fix their cars and listen to their frustrations. Carl, I will tell you, one of my inner circle members worked specifically with nurses and I helped him with his email marketing back in 2019 and the single best performing email that he ever sent or at least at that time period, maybe you sent something better since it was about how stuff in Grey's anatomy was wrong. Meaning nurses would watch Grey's anatomy and they would laugh. They would say, you don't hook up the IV like that, that's not how you perform CPR. And he pointed out all these mistakes. He was like, nurses, you know, this is wrong. You know, this is wrong. I chuckle when I see this and they went bananas. Responded to him in the email, I think it turned into a thread where nurses would send it to each other and they would send it and send it. And then referrals were pouring in. It was incredible. So, what you're seeing here is absolutely true. That he used like the slang that they use, like frequent flyer, that you would only know that if you talk to nurses. These are people who come to the hospital frequently, they are frequent flyers. So that is absolute gold financial advisors. I hope you take that and you actually do it because it can change your life. So that is a wrap financial advisor. Carl, if people want to get in touch with you, if you want people to get in touch with you, what should they do? What do you want them to do as a result of listening to this podcast? [41:16.1]

Carl: Yeah, the best thing is to go to thesocietyofadvice.com, thesocietyofadvice.com. There's an email box there. Put your email in, and that will start a super-secret [inaudible] that I can't tell you about, but thesocietyofadvice.com.

James: Sounds very fascinating. You heard the man thesocietyofadvice.com, Carl Richards, the man, the myth, the legend. What I think is maybe the best podcast episode we've done so far. Financial advisors, I will catch you next week. [41:47.1]

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