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Most financial advisors receive advice for marketing their business that’s mediocre at best and can cripple your most cherished relationships at worst.

But in the digital age, where LinkedIn can land you 50,000 impressions a week for your exact audience, this is foolish advice. Not only will you sabotage your success, but you’ll start to hate your job too.

Well, this episode is the antidote to that foolish advice. Steve MacLellan, a financial advisor who has finally achieved happiness in his marketing approach and success, joins me to reveal which marketing strategies are working for him.

And you know what? They’ll work for you too.

Listen now.

Show highlights include:

  • How following the generic advice financial advisors hear when they begin can wreck your most adored relationships (6:04)
  • Why engineers make the worst clients for financial advisors (even though they’re intelligent and wealthy) (7:02)
  • The overlooked industry which typically includes some of the highest income earners compared to other industries (10:52)
  • How talking about yourself on LinkedIn instead of your client avatar magnetizes your dream clients to your DMs (13:23)
  • Why swiping Steve Job commercials can result in so many new interested leads that you have to hire a secretary just to handle calls (17:02)
  • How hour-long discovery meetings repel your ideal clients away before even talking to them (and the exact length for your first meeting with prospective clients to turn them into clients) (20:47)
  • How to get LinkedIn to spoon feed you the exact type of content that will resonate with your dream clients and encourage them to book a call with you (26:21)

Need help getting more clients as a financial advisor? I created a free, 47-minute video outlining the steps to my “CLIENT Method,” which helps financial advisors land more clients. Watch the video before I take it down here: https://www.theadvisorcoach.com/theclientmethod.html

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.

Want to transform your website into a client-getting machine? Go to https://www.theadvisorcoach.com/website to get The Client-Getting Website Guide.

Want a masterclass training in running effective Facebook Ads? Head to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/ads-training.

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 advisors 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 advisors grow their businesses more rapidly than ever before. Now, here is your host, James Pollard.

James: Financial Advisors, welcome to another episode of the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast. One of my goals for 2023 was to have more guests on the show. This is not necessarily going to be some guestravaganza. Maybe I’ll do a guest one week and then back to a solo show the next week.

But one of the guests that I have here is Steve McClellan. I'm going to let him take the floor and talk about his journey. The title of this episode is most likely going to be “Financial Advisor Shares What's Working for Him”, and since this is the Financial Advisor Marketing show, I figured it would be great to have a financial advisor on here talking about his situation, his journey, his circumstances, and all that comes with it. [01:09.7]

So, Steve, I’ll let you take the floor and share whatever it is that you want to share about your background and how you got to where you are today.

Steve: Okay, thanks, James. I appreciate it. I've got a couple hours here to share my story?

Ames: Okay.

Steve: About right?

James: Start with the day you were born.

Steve: Yeah, no, I’ll cut to the chase. You know what? I had a pretty good childhood. I grew up in a little town called Antigonish, Nova Scotia, a very university town. My dad and mom were a teacher and a nurse, and they kind of always gave back to the communities, but never really thought big, right? And any time I did have a kind of big idea, I was always told, “Oh, it’s pretty much been done before.” So, I was kind of just not really sure like so many people what they wanted to do. [01:56.3]

Good at math. The guidance counselor told me to become an engineer, so I went down that route, and I always had a vision that I wanted to do something better and bigger in life, but just not really sure there. So, I just kind of floated, and then in my early-twenties, kind of introduced to alcohol and women, and probably floated even more, even though I became quite successful with my engineering career going all over the world.

But something happened to me in 2008, really, before that, though. I don't know, I'm sure you deal with it a lot. You see with your clients. You see it with other advisors. They're not really focused. They don't really want to know what path they're going down and that was definitely me. I came across this beautiful, blue-eyed, blonde-haired lady who had no interest in me whatsoever, so I realized I had to pick up my game. She helped me focus on what's truly important and started focusing on my career. And I was getting a pretty good reputation, but you ever notice when you try to make massive changes, the world seems to push back? [03:03.2]

James: Absolutely, every time?

Steve: Yeah, and that's exactly what kind of happened to me—2008, 2009 came by, I lost my job. Don't need to go into too much detail on that, but a pretty easy decision for the company I was working with. I was one of the higher-paid engineers with the least amount of experience in the field.

With that, all the barstool financial advice I was taking from friends in HR departments. My stocks were down. It took me about nine months to find a frigging job, and during those nine months, if it wasn't for my girlfriend who is now my wife and a guy who was in the landscaping business, I have no idea what I would've done. I made myself a vow to the moon and stars that once I did get the income again, I would never put myself or those that I love in that financial situation again, so I took my financial life much serious. I actually got a financial advisor, worked very close with him. [04:00.0]

Then in 2014-ish, 2016, really, when it all came to a head, I moved back to my beloved home province here in Nova Scotia where we decided to really ban onshore oil and gas expiration. Again, another chat for another time, but my career came to a screaming halt. It really was career suicide, moving back here at this time. The cost of living was a lot higher, mainly due to taxes. We had mouths to feed. We had a newborn child and a 2-year-old, and we also had a plan.

I thought, with all my financial knowledge, I would go into the financial industry and I thought, Hey, with my good looks and personality, I'm going to take this industry by storm. I really failed. I failed flat. The first two years were horrible. I'd never recommend people to take the same kind of thought I took and maybe that's something we can chat about later. [04:58.8]

But also, it made me dive deep into who I am, what works and what doesn't, and I have developed into a competent and confident business owner and leader. And for the first time really in my life, I can say I'm happy. I'm not always chasing squirrels or looking for the next big thing. I'm very content and, to me, the future seems bright even here in 2022. It's now 2023 and a lot of people are panicking, but I'm very content, I guess, is the way to look at it.

James: I think there's a lot that people can take away from your story, even just little micro lessons throughout there, and one of the things that I would like to chat about in a little bit, like some of the mistakes you made in the beginning. With your engineering background, did you ever consider engineers as a niche? I noticed that your niche on your website was consultants.

Steve: Yeah, that's a great question, and, yes, I did consider engineers. Generally, like so many people listening to this, you realize when you're introduced to the financial industry, it's more or less throw anything on the wall and hope something sticks, go after family friends, right? [06:12.1]

And, wow, that is … if I could turn back time, I actually lost friends and, I would say, I was not as close to so many family members because of that. Oh, it's just poor and bad advice. Maybe it works for a few and I have seen it work for people, but it sure didn't work for me. I drank the Kool-Aid at the firm I worked with. It wasn't until, somehow, miraculously, my wife had our third child and that helped me kind of take a bigger outlook on life on “Who do I want to be? Who do I want to surround myself with?”

So, I then branched out. I left that firm, branched out with an independent brokerage. She was fantastic at marketing, but there was one time we were sitting down with an engineering couple and she was having a real hard time with them. There's a running joke in the financial industry, the worst clients are, generally, engineers. [07:10.0]

James: Right.

Steve: Right?

James: That's what I was thinking.

Steve: Yeah, they are, and they are. They’re the worst. But I remember this couple asking great questions and the lady that I was getting this training from was getting very flustered, but I felt them. I was listening to them. I had empathy for them and that's one of the first times that I realized my empathy and my ability in listening was a strength. I always kind of felt it a weakness in this industry, because you see some of these producers just go, go, go, go. And I said, “Do you know what? I'm going to focus on engineers,” and I did that for a year. That’s almost a year I'd like to have back again because it was very tough. Engineers are very analytical.

James: Correct, yeah, totally. [07:57.8]

Steve: Yeah. They almost want to be the actuaries on a lot of those insurance products. But it did make me a much better advisor. I know my products inside out because of the clients that I worked with and some of the clients that I lost.

I've branched out to consultants because I realized there's really two types of engineers, and I hate to be generic and, of course, the 80-20 rule doesn't always work, but I would say, 80 percent of engineers are extremely analytical. You give them a task to do, they're going to do awesome, but they're going to be very skeptical and they're not really team players, where the other 20 percent are more business. They're still analytical, but they have the big picture. They can see what's going on and their majority are the managers, leaders, business owners, or consultants, and I’ve decided to focus on the consultants. Being a consultant myself, I realized that there's a lot more to it. There's a lot of questions about incorporating properly, ways to invest inside and outside of your corporation, and I love this world a lot more. [09:09.2]

That's the long version of that story where, yes, I did focus on engineers once and now-- Engineers still come to me, even over that marketing campaign. That was almost three years ago, we were focusing on engineers. Engineers still come and apply for my services.

James: What's interesting about engineers that I’ve noticed, because I don't have that much experience marketing to engineers, I’ve done a handful of campaigns over the years, I’ve noticed that if they know a lot about a subject, they can perform so much better than the average person, meaning, they're excellent at their jobs. If it's a structural engineer, for example, if it's information-systems engineering, they know a lot about that particular area. They are incredible. But if they know just a little bit, meaning, they don't know as much as you, the financial advisor, they can be incredibly dangerous, because they don't know that they're being reckless with a little bit of information that they have. [10:04.9]

There's a saying that people know just enough to be dangerous, and I don't think that's ever been more true than with engineers because they're so excellent at other stuff. They mistakenly believe that they can be excellent with the little itty-bitty piece of financial information that they have, and it leads them astray.

Steve: One hundred percent. They're used to being top of their class. They're used to being best at their work, so they think-- A lot of them feel like they can do whatever they do better than the average Joe, which they're right for the majority, but when you're an average Joe in the financial industry, maybe they can do better, but they can't do better than that, the best, the ones that actually take their job serious.

James: Correct. I think it's a smart move that you transition to consultants, especially since you are one. I think you mentioned this, that consultants tend to be some of the highest income earners, and if you didn't, it's like business owners, managers, these types of professions tend to be high-income earners, so I think consultants is a wonderful niche. Is there anything you've done to market to consultants that has worked exceedingly well in the past few years? [11:10.6]

Steve: I would have to say, we look at social media. LinkedIn has been real key for my growth with consultants, just in the financial industry alone. It's taken me a long time to get my LinkedIn to where I like it. Going back to some of the things to do and to do wrong, when I first was introduced to the financial industry when I was planking at that wall with anything that sticks, that's how I treated LinkedIn.

I joke around. I’m kind of a big shill on LinkedIn. I’ve got about 14,000 followers, but, really, half of those, they don't serve me and I don't serve them. It's the latter, the last three or four years where I kind of really honed in on who my niche is. In the States, what did you guys say in the States, “neesh” or “nish”? “Nitch”? [12:05.0]

James: People say both. I say “nitch”, but only because it rhymes with “rich”, and I can't say the “riches” are in the “neeshes” and sound cool.

Steve: Being from Halifax, we have more in common with the eastern states. Little known fact that we were known as the 14th colony a long time ago. We were this close, very close to joining the States. We, I think, decided to go with Canada. But, anyway, that's beside the point. Once you can get specific on who you want to serve, just avoid so much of the noise and distractions out there.

James: And your content becomes more tailored to consultants. You can use the language that they use. You can talk about topics they're interested in. It just becomes more effective than just trying a broad-based market approach. [12:52.1]

Steve: One hundred percent, and one of the things that works for me is you’ve got to remember you are talking to your ideal avatar or your client. I catch myself focusing on myself sometimes and talking about what's important to me, but if you can protect yourself from yourself from doing that and just keep focused on your avatar and like you're chatting with them, your marketing is going to be so much more powerful.

James: I think it's fine to talk about yourself and people need to see the human side of you, and even in the show, if you share it with your clients or potential clients, they're going to hear about your children and your story and your journey, and it's going to be great. Some of the best-performing content that I’ve seen personally and with other people, it tends to actually be about themselves. Not all of the time, and it's even better if you can weave a story about yourself and your niche together. That works exceedingly well.

When people visit your LinkedIn profile, is there a certain call to action that you have where you want them to take? Is it to send them to a landing page? Is it to send them to your website? Is it to schedule an appointment? What exactly do you do through LinkedIn? [14:03.7]

Steve: Mainly I’ll do a post and the majority of my posts follow the “What's the main problem of my ideal client?” Agitate that a little bit and then try to come across as the white knight. Then in my common section, I always get them to go to visit my website with the idea that they'll click a 15-minute phone call to reach out. Yeah, generally, that's the process I use.

I have to say, one of the things, 2022, I remember this time last year, just getting that momentum, and then that Omicron came around, right? And everything shut down again. I actually got Covid, so I was sick for most of the month of March and, typically, in my industry up here, the busy times are September to March and then it kind of peters off. [15:00.7]

So, I focused on my marketing. During the summertime, I got some really cool commercials done, got a marketing firm here to make my marketing look great. I knew what I wanted, and then hit the ground running in September, and having those commercials kind of play on auto-replay with the descriptions or the posts of focusing on the problems, I saw a big uptake in business. I mean, not like I'm killing it, but 60,000 in the last four months of doing pretty much nothing is to me a big deal and one of the reasons why I consider myself a content and competent business owner now.

James: Where are you placing the commercials? Is that social media? Online ads?

Steve: Almost one hundred percent on LinkedIn.

James: Okay.

Steve: I do a little bit on Facebook and Instagram. That is the next step and I’ll probably be reaching out to you to make sure that this is done right, because you know, you can spend a ton of money on social media ads. I just want to make sure it's done and I feel like it's there. [16:12.5]

James: It can be tricky. There are certain things that used to work really well that don't work. I'm sure there are things that don't work today that are going to work in the future either again or for the first time. You really do have to be on top of these things. But that's interesting. I love the idea of a commercial.

Video marketing has been a huge trend in 2022, and I'm sure it'll continue to be that way in 2023, simply because people enjoy seeing a human face, hearing a human voice, hearing the story. It’s just like something like this podcast. Even though it's only going to be in audio, I’m sure I’ll give you the video so you can use it if you want to, but people will primarily listen to your voice and hear you, and that's something I wish more advisors did and I wish advisors take this. I want them to take this away from the episode that here's something that you're sharing that they can model, that they can use. [17:01.7]

Steve: I mean, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. You take these commercials that worked elsewhere, like Steve Jobs’ “Here's to the Crazy Ones” commercial and just change the words. I did exactly that and was advised to do that, and it seems to be working.

James: Yes, I’ve done the exact same thing in the past with online ads with video scripts. That's exactly what it is. When you were describing you have a problem and then you agitate a little bit, for those of you who don't know, that's a classic copywriting formula called “problem-agitate-solve”. It was made famous, I believe, by either Dan Kennedy or Gary Halbert. None of this is important, but it is a formula that tends to work.
People are like, Oh, how do I write an email? Start with a problem, then agitate a little bit, then solve it. How do I post on social media? Start with a problem, agitate it, solve it. Now, of course, every strength over extended becomes a weakness, but that is a great starting point and that's something that people can do. [17:54.3]

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”. When you join today, you'll get more than $1,000 worth of bonuses, including exclusive interviews that aren't available anywhere else. Head on over to TheAdvisorCoach.com/coaching to learn more.

James: I want to shift gears a little bit here, and I went to your website and one of the things I want to commend you for doing is that your website has a book-a-call button, a call to action in the header of your website. There's not really flashy pictures, irrelevant text. You explain who you are and it says, “Book a Call”, and I love that. But here's the thing that I don't see. I don't see what happens after people book a call with you. Is there a certain sequence? Is there a thank-you page? What happens after people book the call?

Steve: Generally, after they book a call, we'll have a 15-minute conversation and this is really a qualifying conversation to see, a) Do I want to work with them? b) Do they want to work with me? Just simple questions, get to know one another. [19:06.2]

Generally, I ask them if they've worked with other advisors before, what's their experience with that, and then kind of show how we're different, and if we both agree, we decide, hey, let's have a complimentary discovery meeting. This is where we usually will do this over Zoom, or if the person wants to meet face to face, we’ll do that. That's one thing I’ve learned is do what the client wants. If they want to meet over Zoom, let's do that. If they want to meet face to face, no problem, unless we're in different provinces or different countries. Bit of an issue there.

This is then really getting clear on their vision, values, goals, taken directly almost right from Bill Bachrach’s Value-Based Financial Planning, just modified a little bit. That's where we get crystal clear on what they actually want, and this comes back to the listening and empathy. A lot of financial advisors talk about goals, but they gloss over them or don't really even get that deep into what people's goals are, and this is where I think it shows the difference that actually we're going to work on a plan that's based on what you actually want. [20:18.8]

Generally, at the end of that meeting, we give the options. We show, Okay, based on your conversation, this is what the planning options, I think, that would be best for you. We discuss fees and we either carry on or we don't. More often we seem to be carrying on after that original discovery meeting.

James: That's because you qualify so well and you explain who you want, who you are. I am curious, though, because I see a lot of financial advisors jump immediately to the one-hour discovery meeting, as you call it, or the initial consultation or whatever name they have for it. They try to jump right into an hour meeting. Advice that I’ve given is to start with 15 minutes like you're describing here. Unfortunately, I don't have any studies or research to back that up. I only have anecdotal evidence from financial advisors who say that it's working. [21:10.0]

Have you always done 15 minutes to begin with, or was there a point in time where you tried 30 minutes or an hour and you shifted?

Steve: One hundred [percent], I agree with you on that. I did try to jump from not have that 15-minute phone call and jump right to the discovery meeting and just there didn't seem to be anybody raising their hands where more people raise their hands for the 15 minutes. And when they have a discussion with you and realize you're a good person, it's almost, I would say, close to a hundred percent, go to that discovery meeting after the phone call, unless-- It's close to a hundred percent, and then, I would say, after the discovery meeting, it's anywhere between 75 to maybe 60 where we proceed with planning. [21:58.8]

James: I have a lot of hypothesis or hypotheses for why that is. I think the most prominent is that asking for an hour immediately is very intimidating to people. I think that, number two, asking for an hour right away sends the signal that you're going to try to, quote-unquote, “close” them on that call, that it’s like a sales call.

People almost think with the 15 minutes, There's no way he’s going to try to sell me anything. He can't “sell”, quote-unquote—I'm using the finger quotes for the podcast listeners—he can't sell anything, products or a service, a financial plan, in 15 minutes. But the idea isn't necessarily to sell. It's to see if the financial advisor wants to work with you. It's not the other way around. It's trying to get rid of you, get you out of the process, if necessary, and it is a huge time-saver.

But let's say that someone doesn't end up working with you as a client and they drop out either after the 15-minute phone call or after the one-hour discovery meeting. Do you have any sort of follow-up process for those people? [23:01.1]

Steve: Yeah, we generally have an email marketing campaign, send sequence messages just to follow up and that is over, I want to say it's a four-month follow-up, so they are getting an email every two weeks, and we do see some success. People come back after and say, “Okay, let's chat.”

But, yes, I guess that was one of my major weaknesses I discovered. It was following up. So, I got myself a CRM with those, with the emails, automated emails, update those ever so often. It's amazing what you think works a year ago. You reread them and you realize, no, a lot of things change in the year, so you’ve got to make sure that they're updated and it's a great way to follow up.

James: Full disclosure, I love email marketing. That is probably the thing I'm most well-known for outside of the newsletter. It’s the email marketing stuff. I personally email daily. I do the autoresponder thing. It's incredible. The return on investment is absurd. [24:09.3]

The problem, though—and people don't really think about this and here I am, I'm going to kind of bash email marketing a little bit, but in a good way, I promise—you can't take $100,000 and put it into email marketing and get the same 44x return. So, you're not going to make $4.4 million immediately like you would with 100 bucks or with 200, because you get the sequence and the software and all the goodies that come with it.

But email is a wonderful tool for reducing skepticism if people just aren't ready when you are. Rarely do all the stars align. So, I think it's wonderful that you have a way to systematically, automatically follow up with prospective clients after they have already met with you. They just need a little bit more time. They need a little bit more information, and email is the way to do it. [24:54.8]

Another thing I want to point out, and I promise I’ll shut up after this, is you pointed out that some things don't work a year later. One of the things that I think you would agree with me on is that email comes with a lot of data, and you can look back over the course of a year and use that data to see what really is working based on numbers in an account, in your CRM, for example, and tweak based on that. Is that what you're implying or is that what you do? You just change over time?

Steve: One hundred percent. You see what's working, what's not. One of the reasons I love LinkedIn, too, you can see the impressions that you're supposed to make, and very easy to do. And then you can repost those or just change them up a little bit and redo and see how that goes.

I had a real issue of picking up the phone. Look, in my first year in the financial industry, I tried to do it my way, failed, and listened to the firm that said, “Listen, do it. Do it our way,” so I did it their way and picked up the phone. Failed and was miserable doing so. So, I've looked for any other way, how can I grow my business without having to pick up the phone? And the truth is you do have to pick up your phone, but you can have four or five different ways of growing your business. It just can't be one and done. [26:15.2]

James: Right, correct. You're speaking my language. That is one hundred percent in line with what I believe. I do want to give financial advisors a takeaway. He mentioned that you can see the impressions and view counts and everything. I'm going to see if I can get this right here.

Financial advisors, if you have the LinkedIn app, what I want you to do is I want you to go to your profile page in the LinkedIn app. Do it right now while you're listening to the show. Go to your profile, and then underneath your profile image, your header, and it should say how many followers or connections you have, underneath that, you're going to see a section called analytics. In the analytics, the first section is profile views. Then you have post impressions. I want you to click on the part that says post impressions. [27:00.5]

Then you get to the area where it tells you how your content has performed. The default is over the last seven days, but you can change that to 365 days, 90 days, whatever tickles your fancy. Scroll down on the mobile app and you will see it tells you the top-performing post over whatever time period you've selected. If you've selected 365 days, LinkedIn will spoon-feed you your most-successful post over the past year.

I don't see the option on the mobile app, but I know you can. Oh, it's at the top, so at the top, you can change from impressions to engagements, and you see which one has got the most impressions, which one has got the most likes and comments. And just as Steve told you here, it’s absolute gold, you can reuse that content. I love that you're doing that, by the way.

Steve: Yeah, I wish I'd done more of it, but I will continue to do it. One of my most top-performing posts last year was about a news anchor that got fired here because she didn't dye her hair.

James: Oh no. [28:00.0]

Steve: She would keep her hair gray, and more or less, saying the news is shitty anyway. You don't need to watch the news. Focus on what's important, and that's got over 13,000 impressions.

James: Wow. People don't realize that, as an online advertiser, I’d spend a boatload of money on ads. When people say, “Oh, my LinkedIn profile only got 50,000 impressions over the last 90 days,” I'm like, do you realize what I would have to pay to get 50,000 impressions for a high-quality audience?

It's easy to get 50,000 impressions, if you just choose Bangladesh or India, or Mexico or the entire United States, or all of Canada, if you choose a large country. That's easy. But if you're talking about a specific audience of consultants, engineers, attorneys, doctors, whatever, which your LinkedIn should be, as you've mentioned, it didn't used to be that way, but now you're connecting with consultants and growing your audience there. For me to get 50,000, for example, impressions, I would have to fork up some serious money through online ads, so it's a gold mine, if used correctly. [29:02.7]

Steve: I can't imagine what people did before social media.

James: They made phone calls. Actually, they learned the hard way.

Steve: Especially LinkedIn. Yeah.

James: One of the analogies that I like to use with cold calls, and I think this might make you laugh and it might make financial advisors laugh who are listening, if it's not in your personality, I highly recommend not doing it. Don't fight your personality. It's not something that I enjoy.

The analogy is that cows find it very difficult to walk downstairs. For a long time, people believed that cows could not walk downstairs because they were so hesitant to do so. They can do it, if you force them. If you get behind a cow and push it, and just push and really make that cow, force it to go downstairs, their legs just aren't built for the movement. It's very awkward to them. They haven't evolved, they haven't grown to be able to do the weird contortion that comes from walking down the stairs. Humans do it very easily, because it's just a flexible, not flexible, but it's a moving joint. Cows have a whole bunch of joints and problems with it. It's not in their nature is what I'm trying to say. [30:10.2]

And if it's not in your nature to do public speaking, to make phone calls, to even do cold email, for example, then I highly recommend not doing it, and I think you're a master class in someone who discovered what he didn't like, cold calls, phone calls, and shifted to something that is actually working for you and working well, so I commend you for that.

Steve: Appreciate that, and I wish I’d heard that advice several years ago. It would've saved me years of torment. Looking back, I just came across a young … he's more of an insurance agent, but he's a young whippersnapper and he's got no problem with the cold calls and knocking on doors. He's six months in and he is already making over six figures, five figures a month, and he doesn't realize it, how difficult it is for me to do exactly what he's doing. I couldn't do it and I can't do it, and you're right. But he can and it does work for some, but I would say, for the majority, it doesn't. [31:13.7]

James: Yeah, it's because it's just difficult. I used to train. When I was a consultant, I guess I still am, even though I rarely do it, but when I was actively earning income from consulting and it was a large part of my income, I took an engagement with a major bank. This bank is based out of Buffalo, New York. It's got two letters in the name. It's one letter and another letter bank, and I did some consulting in the call center here in Delaware. And I must have listened to thousands of cold calls, and I must have made hundreds just over and over and over for multiple products, for credit cards, for mortgage payments or mortgages, for refinances, for everything under the sun that this bank offered, and I saw it clearly that some people just were naturally better at it than other people. [32:06.6]

People like to argue and say, “Oh, well, you can train for that.” Yes, you can, but you're training someone who is, let's just say, at five out of 100 to get to 10 out of 100. But someone else could walk in the door and be at 35, and when I train that person, that person is going to go to 75 out of 100. That person is so far ahead of the other one where the personality doesn't align with cold calls. Don't even try.

When I explained that to the people at this bank, they told me that was a defeatist attitude. I said, “Well, let's just try it.” Just like the person told you, “Try it my way,” that's what I did. I was like, Let's try it my way, and they tightened up their hiring process, because at this point it's a call center. Let's just be real, they just wanted to take on anybody with a pulse to make these calls, to make money for the bank. That was what their mindset was. It was to just get somebody in the seat.

But when I got to slow down, think about what they were doing, roleplay with people—that's a big deal when you roleplay in the interview process. They weren't doing that, God knows why—when I got them to do that, the results went through the roof. [33:11.2]

Unfortunately, people don't like to hear that. There are lots of sales trainers who don't like to hear that. But I'm just saying that's been my experience and I'm happy that we were able to talk about that, because I'm sure that this has helped a lot of advisors.

Steve: I hope it has. I hope it has. Yeah, if I could do it all again, like I remember when I was looking and going to the financial industry, there was an old feller. He said, “Listen, find an old feller like me. Train under him and try his book of business, and you're off to the races,” and that was good advice at the time. I was like, Whatever, old man. I'm going to do it my way. I'm going to join this crappy firm and change the world.
For people that are getting brand new into the business, I guess that's the advice I'd recommend to them. Find an old-- Go to the bank where you're getting paid. Find someone that's successful with the mind and game that you're going to go independent and you're going to focus on customer service. [34:04.6]

There's two things that I wish I knew better when I started off and one is knowing thyself, getting crystal clear on who you are, and that's not just fill out a personality test, but actually really knowing, and that's going to be hard. That’s harder to do than say there's going to be some tears coming out and your weaknesses will probably end up being your strengths and your strengths will probably end up being your weaknesses and you'll find out a whole brand new yourself. And when you do that, you can get crystal clear on your ideal client and that's going to save you so much time.

James: I guess a final question I have for you, and then we'll wrap things up, we've already touched on this a little bit, but I want to give you a chance to answer the question explicitly with this on your mind. Over the course of, I believe, you said since 2014 was when you began focusing on consultants. Is that correct?

Steve: I would say 2014 was kind of when I was getting into the business. I would say, I focused on consultants two years ago only roughly now. [35:08.3]

James: Okay, I’ll stick with 2014.

Steve: Yeah.

James: Since 2014, aside from everything that you've shared, which has been amazing, and I hope financial advisors take this to heart, are there any other ways that your overall business has evolved? Any big seismic shifts that have occurred?

Steve: Mainly, I think because I’ve failed so much at first and was kind of really upset, going back to that engineering thing where I was supposed to know more and supposed to make less mistakes, I was really upset with myself joining that original firm that I was with. How could I be so stupid? It made me second-guess everything I did, and I think that's a blessing in disguise. [35:53.5]

You don't have to go through the school of hard knocks. I sure did, but it made me sure, okay, if I'm going to pursue something, I'm going to know it inside out, and that's both been a big help. It's also been a huge hindrance to the roof of my business, trying to figure everything on your own. I don't recommend that route necessarily.

But what really started growing my business was getting crystal clear on the marketing. Again, if I could have done it all again, I would've worked with someone like you right away, someone that's in the financial business, because it's very different from marketing and trying to sell a ton of stuff. And I guess you’ve got inside, what route do you want? Do you want to be a product pusher or do you want to have 50 good clients? What route do you want to go with?

The route I want to go with is very different than pushing and working. It's small bites at a time. I like it a lot more. I got my life back, and I guess the big staple. Instead of trying to please everyone, just find out who you actually want to work with and provide value and answers and solutions to them. [37:08.6]

James: When you're happy, when you feel better about yourself, when you enjoy the work that you're doing, you become so much better at it. That's an amazing takeaway. Final question, if people want to get in touch with you, how can they do so?

Steve: I've got the website. I market myself as the Financial Engineer where I help people design better futures. My website is DesignAnEvenBetter Future.com. You can book a call there. My email is there as well.

James: “design a better future” [dot] com.

Steve: “Design an”, proper English, “an even better future” [dot] com.

James: “An even.” “An even.” There you go, “an even” for the vowel that comes after. That is wonderful, DesignAnEvenBetter Future.com. I love that domain, by the way. And financial advisors, I hope you have enjoyed this episode. A lot of good takeaways from the financial advisor who is sharing what is working for him now, what hasn't worked. It's just there's a ton of gold in this episode, and with that said, I will catch you next week. [38:07.4]

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