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, I have another episode here for you about niche marketing, but this is going to be about going all in on your niche.
There are some financial advisors who have niches, and that's great and I love that, and I totally espouse the idea of niche marketing because it makes your marketing assets more effective. It makes your business easier to run. It lends your mind to the thoughts of creating systems.
But I am talking with Dr. Jay Zigmont about his niche, and he is going to tell me how he structured his business, how he structured his marketing, and how going all in on his niche has helped him run a better business. Dr. Jay, thank you for being here. I'm excited to talk with you about this. [01:09.5]
Dr. Jay: Hey, I'm happy to be here and I'm always happy to talk about my niche, which is childfree folks, which people don’t even know exists, so it's a fun one.
James: How did you get to where you are? Who are you? What do you do? And all the good details about that.
Dr. Jay: Yeah, so I'm one of those weirdos that [is a] career changer into finance. I’d actually come out of healthcare and academia. My PhD is in adult learning, so my work is really around helping people learn how to manage their money versus I'm going to take it over for you, and that's kind of weird. I’d come out of the coaching world where I did executive life coaching, financial coaching, and the coaching component is still a big part of what I do with financial.
So, my firm is Childfree Wealth. We're actually focused on helping people who are childfree or permanently childless, so those are people who don't have kids and aren't planning on having kids. To give you an idea, a recent study on Michigan found that one in five adults, so about 20%, are childfree, so we're talking about huge numbers that are completely underserved. [02:12.5]
When I did my CFP training, there was never once a mention of being childfree. There's a mention of the empty-nesters or the kids that aren’t around right now, I don't have kids yet, but there's always an assumption, there's kids somewhere in the picture. Unfortunately, that's a disservice to those people who are childfree, because it completely changes their financial plan and their life.
James: Absolutely. I think you're in a unique spot and this is one of the reasons why I was so excited to talk to you, because you are absolutely right. Your market is large and a knee-jerk reaction that someone like me, a marketer, would have if someone said one out of every five, I would say, whoa, that's too big.
But I think you are the exception, because people aren't marketing to, aren't speaking to, aren't creating content for these couples, and I think they are underserved. It's a diamond in the rough, in the sense that there's a lot of them, but no one is really tackling them, and you are doing it well. How did you choose that niche? What is the nitty-gritty process behind that? [02:12.5]
Dr. Jay: Yeah, I didn't start off with that niche. I started off with XYPN, and if you hang out with the XY world at all, they're like, Niche, niche, niche, niche, niche it, to the point where I'm like, Oh, stop saying the word, okay? And I’ll admit, I didn’t, I don't know, a hundred percent believe it at first and I’m like, Whatever. But, okay, cool, go through the exercises. You kind of start off and say, Alright, how do I do this?
What I found was me and my wife, we’re childfree and we're both PhDs, and I kind of had this question kind of like, Are we weird? Are we just random? And, by the way, we are weird. That's a separate discussion. We just are weird by nature. But being childfree, is it weird? Then I started kind of diving into this and going, “What is it? How many people are out there like us? And what is it?” [03:58.5]
I actually started doing some research. I'm a PhD, so everything has to do with research. You’ve got to dive in and look at the data. I launched a survey and interviews and started talking to childfree folks, and I found, ha, there's a lot of them and they're underserved, and they have specific needs.
When you talk about it being too big of a group, and I'm kind of with it. I was listening to somebody from DFA talk about serving women and I said serving women is not a niche because 50% of the U.S. I get it. If somebody could argue for, say, childfree, and that'd be right. But when I started my firm focused on childfree, I couldn't find anyone else doing it. Nobody. Now, by the way, there might have been somebody I missed, but, I mean, I dove deep and there's nothing.
It's interesting, I’ve now got my first full year and under my belt, it's gone well, but I kind of now understand some whys, why people don't go after the niche, because, yeah, when I was doing the research for this, I put an ad out. It was actually on Reddit. It said, “Hey, share with me what your childfree life is like or what childfree wealth is like?” and it got flagged as hate speech, hate targeted at groups, and I'm like, What the heck? I'm advertising in the childfree subreddit and still getting flagged. [05:21.7]
Since then, I’ve done posts and all that, and I get people all the time with hateful comments and “I'm praying for your soul” and blah, blah, blah, and mind you, I created a childfree financial planning firm, I live in Mississippi, pre the Dobbs decision in pre Roe being overturned. Now in the post-Roe world, politics and all that get tied into here and, oof, it's like, Hey, I'm happy to be in the niche, but there's a whole bunch of other stuff that comes with it.
James: And that's unfortunate and when people are like, Oh, I'm praying for your soul, it’s like, Dude, I study Biblical texts quite a bit and I'm like, do you not realize that Paul was childless, literally the author of most of the New Testament? He was childfree, didn't have any children. So, it's a little bit of hypocrisy there and it's unfortunate that you had to go through that and it's unfortunate that it got politicized after you started your business. [06:16.2]
But I agree that you have to do your research, you have to go where these people are. I remember, I ran a personal-finance blog in 2010–2011 and there was an entire section of personal-finance blogs, websites that focused on dual income, no kids. It’s DINKs. So, I imagine you're all over that space that that's where you really went into research. Aside from Reddit, what else did you look at?
Dr. Jay: So, here’s the thing, I think is an interesting one. A lot of people that use the DINK term, we actually call them DINKYs, “dual income, no kids yet,” which is different.
James: Oh, I didn't know that.
Dr. Jay: So, watch this. In the childfree community, we actually have a lot of debate about the term “childfree”, “childless”, and meanings and things, but from a financial standpoint, if you're dual income, no kids yet, you can follow the standard plan. Once you say, “Hey, I'm not going to have kids at all. It's not in the picture, not going to happen, either by choice or not,” it changes the financial plan. [07:16.7]
For example, most of my people, I mean, 99% plus, don't care how much money they give to the next generation. They're more in the die with zero. Life insurance, not a big deal for them because they don't have a next generation. Interestingly enough, many of them don't want to retire. They mark out like, I want to tune back work, where they're living a different life. The way we say it is living a life of childfree wealth means you have the time, money and freedom to do what you want. And that doesn't mean you're automatically rich. Being childfree doesn’t drop money on your head. But it's a different level of decision-making.
You’ll see that terms DINK or SINK, single income, no kids, but it’s the question of “Are you going to have kids?” That's what changes it. That's why I call what I do as I serve childfree and permanently childless. There are people that are childless now, but are still trying. If you're still trying, then there are other providers that can help you better. [08:09.0]
That's the hard part, and I think some of that I didn't really get until I dove deep into the community and saying, “Okay, cool. Help me understand the different terminology, classifications, whatever you want to call it, the different groups, and then also their financial needs,” and I think that's the hard part. I’ve talked to a bunch of planners since then and they go, “I have some childfree people.” I go, “Cool. Are you serving them differently?” They say, “I don't.” I'm like, That's a problem.
Or they'll say, I’ve also had some people, it's kind of interesting, planners reach out to me and go, “I'm childfree, as the planner.” I go, “Cool. Are you serving your childfree people?” “Definitely. Well, my company won’t …” and it goes downhill.
James: Yeah, I mean, .
Dr. Jay: Yeah, and it's been really interesting to the point where I asked in my survey, I said, “Hey, have you worked with a financial planner?” Probably a third had. I said, “And what's your experience?” and it was scary, let’s call it that where people go, “Well, I went to a planner and they said, ‘Oh, you'll change your mind about having kids.’” No. [09:15.6]
James: I'm pretty sure I won't, yeah.
Dr. Jay: Or “Well, your plan is the same as everybody else,” or “It just means you have more money.” No, there's always assumptions and what it is is there's bias. It’s just kind of like the nature of bias. I was at a conference recently. I was watching it virtually and a person is up, speaking, and he goes, “Working with people without kids is the worst.” I'm like, what other group could you say out loud as working with is the worst? It would shut down the conference.
What he really meant to say was, people who are childfree have different estate-planning issues, which might be more difficult to mitigate, especially if you're single childfree folks who don't have people they can count on for the executor and others. But that bias is so strong that you can just go, “Yep, these people are the worst,” and it just went by. [10:04.8]
James: That's why they need specialized help and that's why I think you have such an amazing opportunity, because they can't get help anywhere else, or, at least, not as efficiently as you could provide it. And you're absolutely right that I didn't even think about that, the estate-planning needs. Have you ever seen the movie Brewster's Millions?
Dr. Jay: Yeah.
James: I think about that. That's what comes to my mind. It’s the guy just leaving it to his last distant relative, like, Hey, here's the money. You have that and you can donate to charity. You're right about the life insurance, too. I didn't even think about that and I'm in this space, talking with financial advisors all the freaking time.
Really, if you're a listener and you searched Dr. Jay’s name in a search engine somewhere and you found this episode, really pay attention to what he's saying to you—which also brings another question to my mind. When you're in an initial meeting with people, and I reckon that your marketing does a lot of filtering because it's incredible, but assuming that they get to the meeting and they're still unsure or you're unsure, how do you bring that topic up, like, Hey, are you committed to being childfree? [11:05.7]
Dr. Jay: I actually have it in my screener questions.
James: That’s good.
Dr. Jay: You sign up. You sign up for it and I have a little “give me your name, address,” blah, blah, blah, and then it has “Do you have children? Yes. No.” Then if you pick no, it says, “Are you planning on having children? Yes. No. Maybe, or I'm childfree,” and I literally do that intentionally because-- I had somebody the other day reach out. “I want to do an introduction and I’ve got three kids.” And I'm like, I'm not really the right planner for you.
Now, originally, in the beginning of the year, last year, I had two domain names and one for parents and one for childfree, and I was kind of like, yeah, and then I realized, no, go all in on the niche and be like, I'm not right for you, you're somebody else, because of what happens when they check the box as “I’m childfree.” Then they come talk to me. They go, this is kind of the conversation, “I don't have kids. I don't care about how much money I have at the end and I want to have the last couple of bucks. I want to travel the world. I want to do this with my job, and I'm weird.” I hear a lot of “I'm weird.” I'm going, “No, you are a hundred percent normal in my group of people.” [12:18.5]
Dr. Jay: You're weird in the bigger picture, but in my group, I'm like, this is the stuff I deal with every single day. I mean, probably 90–95% of my clients, I'm having conversations about long-term care, where others are like, Oh, you actually talk about long-term care and insurance. No, it's a concern. I've got people in their 30s getting quotes for long-term care insurance, which is unheard of, but it's just the audience. I think what happens is when they find somebody that speaks their language and it’s one of them, there’s this immediate like, Ah. There’s a sigh. Then they go, “Okay, you can help me,” and I think that power is really there, I mean, all in on the niche. That's my thing. [13:05.5]
The only parents I take right now are actually parents of my childfree folks, where they're caring for their parents and are working on their disability or long-term, whatever it is. But a lot, what happens is childfree folks are more likely to be kind of expected to take care of their parents. It's the “Hey, you don't have kids, so you can take care of Ma,” and I actually-- A lot of financial planners gain the kids have their clients. No, I gain their parents.
James: You get dependents, yeah.
Dr. Jay: And it's a little weird, but it goes. It works.
James: Yeah, I think having a niche is an example of a tremendous win-win in business, because not only does it make the advisor more efficient, more productive—because you see the same things over and over and over again, it's not your first rodeo. That's something that I love and that's what I dig deep into—it’s also a win for the clients, because they have a space where they feel welcomed. They can talk to you knowing you have seen people like them before. It's not like a dentist going to a financial adviser who has 10 clients right now and none of them are involved in dental practices, and there's all this confusion that comes with it and there's uncertainty. Hiring a financial advisor is uncertain enough, so I think that's incredible. [14:16.8]
Since this is the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast, I want to shift to talk about the marketing side of your business and one of the things I noticed about you is that you have a book available called Portraits of Childfree Wealth, which I love that you're publishing content. What are some lessons you’ve learned from creating the book and making it available?
Dr. Jay: I had somebody, and I know I’m new on it—my first full year was last year, so I haven’t been here forever—but somebody asked me kind of “What would you do differently the first year?” or whatever, and my advice was pick a niche, study it. Write a book, and then do a whole lot of PR, and that's the way I ended up. I tried some other things in between, but that's what worked. [14:57.8]
The thing about a book is, and I actually self-published—I didn’t worry about that. I'm actually working on a second book for this year, whatever—but it gives you a tool that you can give to prospects, but it also gives you a tool to talk about this. I went out and the core of my success in marketing is actually working with the press, and I had been doing some press hits here and there, but I went out today. “I’ve got this book coming out. You have any interest?”
I don't know, I reached out to probably hundreds of different press groups, and when the book came out, they said, “I'm not going to write about the book, but the topic of childfree finance is interesting.” It was funny, the same day MarketWatch and the Wall Street Journal put out a full article on childfree finance. And, by the way, you wanted to know how marketing went. I mean, I think I ended up with 15 consultation meetings from just that day.
James: Oh, yeah, totally, I agree. What happened has happened.
Dr. Jay: And MarketWatch called it “This new idea in retirement,” and I'm like, It's not really a new idea, but all right, cool. What happened was I had a whole lot of people go, “Oh, I didn't even know I'm the term ‘childfree’ or that that's me, and I didn’t know there were financial planners that served me,” and it works. [16:14.0]
So, that book really gets you the opportunities for the press and the other things, and the credibility, and it builds you in that niche. I'm not making money out of the book. I'm giving away the e-book. I sell some copies on Amazon, but that is not the primary thing. It's the clients.
James: I think a lot of people make that mistake with a lot of marketing assets to say, “Oh, I can make money from the book.” No. Or “I can monetize my YouTube channel.” Yes, but also no. Or “I can make money from a podcast by accepting advertisers, too.” N…no. I don't know if you’ve googled the rates for podcast ads, they're not that great, and the same is true with a book.
The book is like a force multiplier because it allows you to get into press, and I actually talked about that recently in something that I wrote about where somebody would get featured on White Coat Investor or some of these popular finance websites, and their email list is probably in the hundreds of thousands and get hundreds of thousands of visits per month. The Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch, they're in that league, too, and all it takes is one to give you a launching pad, so I appreciate that you're an example for that. [17:20.8]
What are some other things that have worked for you besides the book and PR? Is there anything else that you've done?
Dr. Jay: Yeah, I think PR, by the way, one of the things is you need to either be all in or not. It’s that. I did. Last year, I did 240 press hits across the year, and what happens with the PR is most of those come with a backlink, so it's driving my SEO through the roof.
James: And that's through HARO or something?
Dr. Jay: Yeah, I did HARO, quoted a few others, and now I’ve been doing it long enough that the reporters reach out to me, which is just amazing, so that's part of it.
Then the other part of it was really being part of these groups or communities of childfree folks. For example, there's actually a childfree convention. There's a childless convention where I sponsored the events, and part of their Facebook groups and part of the groups and all the events and whatever they're doing, and all of a sudden, people start seeing. [18:10.5]
It's interesting because I started seeing now, I’ve been in the communities talking about it and the book and the press, where now, all of a sudden, people go, “Hey, I have this financial issue,” whatever it is, and somebody will tag me in the post, and I'm like, Oh, I don't even have to do the marketing anymore because my name is out. It'll usually be some simple question I can answer and I have no problem answering whatever they need, but the community goes, “Okay, cool, this is our financial person,” and it's been very interesting.
I think the other thing that's happened is, so I did a Kitce’s article on how to serve childfree folks and now I'm getting some financial planners kind of reaching out saying, “I want to serve the audience.” Cool. Not all of them want to serve it for good purposes, let’s call it that.
James: The right reasons. Yeah, I was thinking that. [19:00.8]
Dr. Jay: And I hate to be a gatekeeper, but I'm kind of like, sigh. There's some people I help a lot more than others and I'm like, Okay, you get it, cool, I'll help you. And there's others, I'm like, Here are some basics and here are some links. It feels weird, but what it is, people, I had somebody go-- I'm advice-only, so I'm a weirdo on this and I actually think advice-only is the right way to approach childfree folks, because for a childfree person, if they die with millions of dollars in the bank, that's actually a failure of their financial plan because they're not worried about giving enough.
James: Oh, yeah. That's right, yeah. If you're managing assets and they want to die with zero, that's kind of a conflict.
Dr. Jay: You got it.
James: Same thing with mortgage pay down and all that, yeah.
Dr. Jay: I do the advice-only in childfree, so I'm kind of weird on two sides, and I have people go, “But they have so many assets,” and I’m like, Yeah, that's nice. I mean, I’ve got people with no assets and I’ve got people $15 million in assets, and they all pay me the same price, because I'm serving clients. I'm not worried about-- [20:02.3]
They're like, You can make more money. Yeah, that's nice. That's not the approach. And it's interesting, I had somebody say, “I just want to take the cream of the crop. I want everybody over $5 million under the childfree community.” Yeah, that'd be nice, but that's not for the right reasons, yeah, as you're saying, “Hey, I see a pocket of gold and I'm hoping to get to it.”
I think one of the challenges, I think if the childhood community is like this, you may see this in other communities, I think the LGBT community and others, where pretty quickly people realize if you're trying to just profit off the community versus trying to serve the community.
When you're talking about a niche, and I know we're all trying to make money—I'm transparent, I'm making money—but it's a question of what do you start with? Are you starting to serve or are you starting to make a profit? If you're in the niche and you're all in on the niche, and people start seeing you're just in there for the dollars, they’ll pretty quickly tune you out, and that's kind of the hard part. [20:58.3]
I mean, I joke that I talk about two taboo topics, being childfree and finances, and people don't want to talk about their finances. If they just think you're trying to steal money from them or make profit on them, it turns them off pretty quick. So, I don't know, I mean, maybe you have some sage advice on how to balance between serving the community and making a profit, but it is important when you're all in on the niche.
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: My philosophy is that we live in a capitalistic society where people exchange money for goods and services that can add disproportionate value to their life. If you spent $5 at Starbucks, you're expecting to get at least $5 in value from the drink. The problem, though, you're absolutely right that people treat business success/money from the business kind of like the old story of a person who says, “Fireplace, give me heat and then I’ll give you wood.” No, you have to provide the wood first. You have to do the hard work first. [22:13.4]
It's kind of sad that the people who are so money-focused, they burn out more quickly, at least, in my experience they do, because there's not as much money in the beginning. Sure, people who are money-focused, if they persevere, then, yes, they can make a lot of money.
For someone to say, “Oh, Bill Gates wasn't focused on the money when he started Microsoft. Steve Jobs wasn't focused on the money at Apple,” you're out of your mind. Of course, they were focused on the money. But they were focused on something else to get them to persevere to the part where they could finally have the big payday, and that's okay.
Society loves it when, quote-unquote, “overnight successes” get rewarded after 10 years. Those are people that we celebrate. Those are heroes in a capitalistic society. However, the joke about it being overnight success is because they were serving the market for so long, and I think that's the right approach. [23:05.0]
Plus, I mean, life is too short not to do things that you do enjoy, and if you enjoy working with these people, then that's a plus, and obviously, you need to pay your bills, and extra money and abundance is icing on the cake.
Dr. Jay: Yeah, and I think part of it is, if you're going to be in a niche, you have to pay your dues in that niche for a while before it starts turning over cash to you. You kind of be part of the community and be just part of it. For some reason or whatever, there's a bunch of Facebook groups on childfree and we'll talk about everything, what's your travel or whatever, and people go, “That's not business,” but it kind of is. It’s establishing you as a person and working it through.
Yeah, I do webinars and giveaways and free things, and I did one recently. I did a Facebook group. I did a kind of ask-me-anything of financial questions and people brought a whole bunch of fun questions, and those little bits of service help you. [24:00.0]
If you look at, one of the examples I like to use is Andy Panko or Cody Garrett, both of them went out to groups and served a lot and said, “Okay, I'm going to give you a whole lot of free content,” and now they have more clients and they know what to do with it, and I think that model works. But the challenge is you're screaming into the wind and you're hoping it picks up.
James: Hold on until then, yeah.
Dr. Jay: The articles from MarketWatch and the Wall Street Journal were definitely a turning point in my business, just going yep. Then, also, I had some interesting changes because of Roe being overturned and some of the publicity around that, which was about the same time and things you just couldn't plan.
But, I mean, to give you an example, because I'm all in on the niche, I got to be in the CNBC Financial Advisor Summit on a 20-minute segment. You know what? There's no way I was going to do that if I was just Jay serving random people. There are benefits to the niche that you don't even see, and then, hopefully, it turns into profits. [25:03.6]
James: And there are advantages. This is what I want financial advisors to take from that. There are advantages that you cannot buy. I get pitched all the time to be in lists like Best Marketer 2023 and I'm sure financial advisors will, I know they do, get pitched to be in these lists, like, Pay me $200 and we'll send you this, and you can buy that. But there are certain things you cannot buy. There are certain aspects of credibility where your competitors literally cannot come into your space and get what you have.
Publishing a book is a moat. People can buy a ghostwriter, I'm sure. Having a podcast with a bunch of episodes is a moat. Having a strong YouTube channel or having a group where you have been involved for a year, if someone comes in from day one and tries to replicate what you've had or you've done, you're already there. You've already built a moat.
I wish more advisors kept their financial-advice hat on, and when they're thinking about companies with moats, like The Warren Buffett Way, they start thinking about how they can apply those moats in their business, and I think you've done that with your marketing. [26:05.6]
Let's swing the pendulum back to the business side of dealing with childfree couples. I see that you espouse something called F-I-L-E, so FILE vs. FIRE, which is F-I-R-E. What is the difference between that?
Dr. Jay: Yeah, so in my research, it was interesting, for my book, I interviewed somebody named Brian and he said it this way. He had FIREd at the early-40s and was bored and like, What am I doing? Him and his wife and his dog, and they really just didn't love it. He went back and opened his own marketing firm in this example. He works no more than 20 hours a week, never before 10:00 and never on Fridays, and I mean, they're absolutes, and he travels the world and does wherever.
What I found was that a large percentage, I mean, more than the majority of childfree folks don't really care about retiring. So, we talk about financial, we talk about retirees, pre-retirees. These are kind of like non-retirees, which is kind of a weird concept. [27:07.4]
You'll see in the FIRE community, they talk about barista FIRE. You FIRE and then work as a barista. My argument is then you're not retiring. If you're still working, you're not retiring. So, FIRE is kind of an on/off switch for work, I'm shutting it off. FILE is a dimmer switch, and what I find is with childfree folks, I’ve got people in their 30s and 40s that could never work, just stop working, but they want to go open a cupcake shop or do something they enjoy or whatever, “Yeah, I always wish I could,” and they're doing it.
In couples, I'm also finding people that I have quite a few couples right now that one part of the couple is taking a sabbatical, taking six months off to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. It's not about age. It's just doing that and it's a different way of living, and from a financial-planning standpoint, the difference is what happens if retirement is not a goal? And this is where all the financial-planning software kind of starts wigging out. [28:03.1]
In the Monte Carlo simulations with my clients, they're targeting more like a 50% success rate than a 90%, because they really want to end up with zero at the end, where what I’ll do with my clients is we'll get a long-term care policy to take care of that, pool a little cash at the end and put off social security at 70, and then invest their money in experiences in their life in between, where I'm saying, “Cool. You die with more than a million dollars, you’ve made a mistake. You didn't get to spend the life you wanted.”
I think the challenge for that is, if you go online, all of the financial advisor mode 99% of it assumes you have kids and they’ll say, “Give me the next generation,” but in childfree, we have what I call the childfree midlife crisis, where people hit their personal and professional financial goals. Then what? [28:55.0]
With parents, often goals shift to their kids or the next generation, wherever it is, but on that Maslow's hierarchy, they're going to that self-actualization of going, “What's the purpose of life? What do I want to do?” and that's where I probably spend two-thirds of my time, talking to my clients about spending money, not about saving money, which just seems odd.
James: And I want people to realize that this is why you need to work with a financial advisor who appreciates your goals. Someone me, I would not be a good fit. I am way too paranoid. I would be terrified of the idea of dying with zero. I mean, I’ve read the book. I’ve learned about the philosophy. I've given it a try. I'm not closed-minded, or at least, not as much as some other people. I guess I still am kind of closed-minded on some things. But I would be so terrified.
My philosophy is essentially fatFIRE all the way, get money, money, money, money, money, and live off the dividends and don't touch the principal. Now, of course, my childfree and childless, I'm in a different status entirely with that, so it is interesting to think about how different certain approaches can be, and if it's not right for me, it is right for someone else. My financial advisor wouldn't work well with that, because it's a completely different set of rules, of expectations, of circumstances. [30:14.2]
That's why, again, if you're someone who found this podcast, maybe you're doing your research—and I’ve found that with guests that people do their research. They send me an email, like, I searched this person's name—I didn't realize that was a thing until I started getting emails, and if you're listening to that, please understand that he can help you with your unique circumstances.
Another thing I love about your business model is that you have transparent pricing. It's something that I wish more financial advisors did, and you have two pricing tiers. One is a self-directed tier at $50 per month, and the other is a personalized-support tier for $500 per month. Have you found much crossover between these tiers?
Dr. Jay: My model is advice-only and I have regular meetings. If you sign up for the personalized 500 bucks for the month, you're getting a meeting every month, right? Then what happens is, at some point, you're in a good place, you might fall back to the self-directed and just kind of maintaining things, and I'm okay with that and that's weird. [31:13.0]
FIREs are like, Oh, I’ve got to have 99% lifetime blah, blah, blah. No. I tell my clients, if you're not getting 500 hours of value out of me, I want you to fire me.
James: I like that.
Dr. Jay: And that's not like marketing speak. That is absolute. Now, by the way, personally, that always hurts me a little bit. I never want to lose a client.
Dr. Jay: But at some point, you go, “We're good. You're good. You're stable. Come back to me when you need me,” and I think that approach just works. I mean, I’ve had one prospect who reached out to me and say, “Yep, I want to go delegation. I want to go AUM. You're not the right model.” Perfect, go somewhere else. But everyone else is like, Okay, cool, I sit over the shoulder. I mean, yes, I provide investment advice, but what it looks more like is you log into your investment account and I tell you, “Okay, here's what we're going to invest in. Here's what you buy, sell.” I'm not doing the button-clicking, but everything else. [32:06.8]
In the $50-product, self-directed is there because there's a huge gap in basic financial knowledge for childfree people. A great example is life insurance. Most of my clients don't need life insurance, unless they have a business issue or debt. If you're dual income, no kids, you’re probably okay without it, and if you're single with no kids, you don't need life insurance. But everything says 10 to 12 and blah, blah, blah. So, I made this system.
Now, the system, by the way, comes out of my learning background. It's got 15 courses, 100 videos. What I did was I took pretty much every question a client has asked me over the past six months and made a 7ish-minute video for each of the questions. “Who is going to take care of me when I’m older?” “Do I need a will?” “How do I invest?” “What's a stock?” All of those. It builds it in there, and then I have group sessions in that $50-product, because what I found was there were a whole lot of people that wanted to understand finance for childfree, but, frankly, couldn't afford me. [33:09.8]
So, that's where the self-directed product comes in, and then if they need a little extra help, they can pick up an hour here or there or whatever it is, but it's completely transparent. It's interesting, I had a prospect the other day go-- They filled out my little form and one of the questions you wanted to ask me, and the question was, “Tell me how $500 is worth it?” By the way, I love that question. That's sales opening 101. I got to the end of the prospecting meeting with this person. I see it. I see the $500. I see what I'm getting. I get it. I went in. That's the transparency that needs to be there.
James: That's awesome. I actually do something similar for advisors that I have price ranges from $37, I believe is lowest, to $2,500 and beyond for people who are just like, Look, I’ve got more money than time. Can you talk with me, just tell me exactly what to do? I'm, Okay, I don't want to do it. [34:05.0]
The Advisor Coach, obviously, it used to be a coaching model. I used to do the coaching, but now I just don't like it. My personality isn't geared to the coaching thing. I didn't like repeating myself was really what it came down to. If I had 10 different clients, I just said the same thing over and over and over. It just wasn't for me. I like to productize my services and say, for example, there's a newsletter I write, “Here's the marketing campaign I'm doing right now, this is what I like to do,” and send it out to a whole bunch of people. I'd rather do that. But I have a similar model and I can attest that it is a great model.
What advice would you give to advisors who are on the fence about niching down, where they've heard this so many times, but they just haven't done it yet? What would you tell those people?
Dr. Jay: Okay, I'm going to put this in dollars and cents because we're financial people so dollars and cents matter. If you want to go on google right now and buy an ad for any word having to do with financial planning, be it “a financial planner near me” or whatever, you're talking 20, 30 bucks a click. $17 is the lowest I’ve ever seen. [35:05.5]
James: Yeah. It's the second most expensive industry.
Dr. Jay: Okay.
James: It’s legal and then finance.
Dr. Jay: That's per click.
James: Yep, totally.
Dr. Jay: Okay, then we have to dial how many clicks turn it up. I pay for childfree financial planning, childfree something, yeah, childfree finance, childfree retirement job, 10, 20 cents a click. Now, by the way, I don't spend much on the ads because I have enough of the marketing from the book and the press and all that, so I get it for free.
But here's the thing. The fact that you would have to pay millions of dollars to compete in the large market says it's almost impossible for a small person, a one- or two-person shop. You can't compete against the large groups. So, then people go, “Oh I'm going to pay for Zoey or others to send clients,” and, unfortunately, they all haven't had a great experience with that. So, the answer is pick a niche.
And when you pick a niche, one of the Kitces’ podcasts is talking about this where he said, “What would people refer people to you for?” Good question. My question is “What would a reporter reach out to you for?” If you have something strong enough where you're the one that a reporter will reach out to you, now, that's a niche that you've cornered. [36:13.8]
For example, one of my colleagues, Danielle Miura, she's working on the sandwich generation, people taking care of the kids and the parents at the same time. Beautiful niche, and for whatever reason, in the past month or so, a whole lot of reporters are talking about “How do I care for my parents and what do I do?” and all. Beautiful to reach out. That's a niche. Lindsey also has Stripper Financial. That's a niche where you have that corner. People go, “I'm niching to help engineers,” and I'm like, there are dozens of those.
James: Structural, chemical, mechanical.
Dr. Jay: But there are people already going after engineers.
Dr. Jay: Pick something that fits you. I think it does matter that you should be part of that niche, and focus on it. I got lucky because I decided to do the niche and it worked. [37:07.0]
I don't know, if people go, “If I go all in on the niche, I'm out and I'm leaving out with these other people,” here's the way I looked at it—20% of the U.S. is childfree. When I initially started, I was like, okay, cool, I can handle 50 clients. I think I can find 50 out of 20 million or 60 million in the U.S. Yeah, I think that the new one I’ve heard a lot lately is you want to find a niche that's 1,000 raving fans, because that's enough for you to have enough clients going forward. I would argue, and I have people reach out to me about it, they want to go to childfree, and I go, “Niche down further. Single childfree women or whatever it is, keep going, and if you can do that enough, you're okay.”
I think you'll go, But I'm starving, I can't pay my bills, the “I’m eating ramen” phase of being an RAA. Give you an idea, my first year, so the Kitces’ benchmark for first-year RAAs is about $18,000 in revenue, which is why you need to have money enough to cover your first couple years. In comparison, in my first year, I did $98,000 in revenue, completely in the niche. [38:15.0]
That's the difference, and I'm not saying I knocked it out of the park, but for the first year, that's pretty good, and if my second year ends up anywhere like the first year, I’ll be full. In November last year, I added seven clients in one month where the industry average for first year is about 10 clients a year.
James: A year, yeah.
Dr. Jay: That's the power of a niche. The only argument, the only debate on whether a niche works or not is whether we call it a “nitch” or a “neech.” It's not whether or not it works.
James: I say the “nitch” because I can't say “the riches are in the ‘neeches’.”
Dr. Jay: Right.
James: But about the alienation thing, people are like, Oh, I can't work with these people. From a marketer's perspective, I have sent and tested millions of emails. I’ve spent over a million dollars of my own money on online ads. I've done so many webinars, so many lead magnets. I’ve seen so many financial advisors, what works, what doesn't work. I have the Inner Circle Newsletter, so I have successful advisors. We're in direct email communication every single day and have been for years. [39:16.8]
I can tell financial advisors unemphatically that the degree to which alienation occurs, and it will occur—you will alienate some people. That is the point. You cannot be exclusive unless you exclude people—but the degree to which that occurs is not proportionate to the client, the conversion-rate increase that you get from having a niche.
Also, I'm glad that you brought this up, your ad costs do go down. Your marketing costs do go down with Google Ads, Facebook ads, especially Facebook ads for a specific audience. I call it layering, so you could have parents and then you could layer to parents in Nebraska, and then you could layer to parents who are also XYZ, and that drives the ad cost down. [39:57.4]
Now, I don't want to get down this rabbit hole, but just so I'm clear, just so I don't get any nasty emails, the cost per click with Facebook ads with something super-layered is higher. What I'm talking about is your cost to get a client versus if you're doing a mass marketing campaign, because mass marketing campaigns, even though the cost per click will be cheaper, it'll be just so many more clicks that the total cost per appointment per client will be cheaper. So, I just want to get that out of there. I love that you're doing that. I love that you put it in mathematical terms, because you're right, that is how financial advisors think.
One last question for you or podcast question. Is there anything you wish you knew at the beginning of your business journey?
Dr. Jay: I had a mastermind group that was signed by XYPN. That was phenomenal to work. I think what I would have liked is to find a couple people that are somewhat more similar to me. Over the time, I’ve now found more advice-only providers and other things. I think there's a community effect. When you're running your own RAA, you're kind of on your own and you don't know if you do well or not. [41:01.0]
I spent a lot of time when I started trying to figure out benchmarks. I tried to figure out what my first year should look and those were all B.S. numbers. I mean, they're pulled out of the air, their benchmarks. But, for example, my firm I started with, I did have a couple of financial planning, financial coaching clients, but I had never worked at a RAA, and finding people that are like you, they can go, “Oh, I'm struggling with the same thing. I'm working through it.” I think that's what I would have liked. Honestly, I would have known something. It's just a bit of that community. Because people have made the same mistakes that you're going to make, sometimes you can learn from them fast.
In hindsight, I probably would have not had-- I had a domain for childfree and a domain for not childfree. I probably wish I all went in on the niche. But I couldn't. That’s like you're trying to keep a hand on each side hoping one works, but nothing that I would have changed. [41:59.3]
I think the one skill that I need to build still is social media. I am not a social media expert. I'm growing enough without it, so I'm okay with it. You'll get a kick out of this. I did the CNBC event and I put a photo from behind the scenes, the cameras and all that. That got more likes than any other post I’ve ever done ever on social media. You had thousands of people engaging in it and I'm like, I spent all this time working on blog posts and stuff with content, and a stupid photo of me sitting in a chair getting ready for-- Oh, I just … That's where I go, I'm not doing that marketing, so I'm going to keep doing the content-based and niche-based and work that through, but I don't know.
I think the other part of it is actually to not beat myself up for not knowing about social media. It’s working without it. Yeah, I do have a LinkedIn page, I do have a Facebook page, but I am sure you will look at both those and go, “Yeah, you're doing it wrong,” but that’s okay. [42:55.2]
James: It's like everything works as long as you work. So many advisors are looking for this magic thing. I have conversations with advisors, and this is just for podcast guests. In the weeks before this episode, if I have my scheduling memory correct, we talked about YouTube marketing. We talked about niching down to a different niche. I have a guest coming up who's going to talk about Twitter marketing.
All that stuff works. It's not as if people say, “Oh, Twitter doesn't work.” It may not work for you, but it works for him. “YouTube doesn't work.” It doesn't work for you, but it works for him. It works if you put the time and effort into it, and a lot of it has to do with your personality, your preference. Again, life is too short to not do the stuff that you want to do. So, kudos to you, you've obviously made it work.
About the benchmarks, for advisors who are so caught up in benchmarks. Let's just say that the benchmark is $18,000 in revenue. If it doubled to 36,000 or if it was chopped in half to 9,000, it still doesn't impact your business whatsoever. Nothing has changed about your situation. You haven't gotten any better. You haven't gotten any worse.
So, I want to leave that there for advisors, and I guess this is the real last question. I know I said the last one. If people want to get in touch with you to learn more about you, what you could do, how you can help them, where should they go? [44:06.6]
Dr. Jay: Yeah, I'm on all social media. They exist out there, but ChildfreeWealth.com is the bottom line. I'm one of those old-fashioned people with a website. I guess that's the easy, the simple and easy way.
James: I love websites. I do website marketing. It can be highly effective, if done correctly. So, you heard it, ChildfreeWealth.com. That's Dr. Jay Zigmont who is doing a lot of wonderful things in his business. He's going all in on his niche, and that will make a wonderful episode title. So, financial advisors, I hope you got a lot from the episode, and I will catch you next week. [44:38.0]
This is ThePodcastFactory.com