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 amazing guest this week for you. We’re going to have a great episode. We're going to talk about creating better client experiences, and it's something that I think a lot of advisors can benefit from.
What's interesting is that, when I talk to advisors about this topic, like, hey, serve your clients better, create a better experience, like FedEx efficiency—I think Oechsli talks about having FedEx efficiency and Ritz-Carlton service. I definitely approve of that message—when I explain that concept to advisors, they always think that they're doing enough or they're doing well. I don't get that same sense of urgency about improving client experiences than I do with like marketing, where financial advisors know they can do more and marketing, and, thus, you're listening to the Financial Advisor Marketing Podcast. [01:11.1]
However, I really encourage you to have a sense of urgency about improving your client experience and to listen to the guest I have today, Brandon Chapman, and we are going to dig deep into this topic. Brandon, take the floor from here. And who are you? How can you help? Where did you come from? How did you get where you are today?
Brandon: Yeah, thanks for having me, James. Love your content and it's a pleasure to be involved in the podcast today. My name is Brandon Chapman. I'm a certified financial planner and founder of AdvisorFlow, which is a client-discovery tool for financial advisors. I'm based in Canada, but I always loved to come down to visit my friends in the States.
Yeah, how I got here, I basically got out of business school. I knew I wanted to build a business, but I didn't have any money to do that. Luckily, the financial-services business allows you to monetize relationships, in some way or form. Essentially, it was a way to build a low-cost business that was focused on helping people and building community, which were two things that I was super focused on in university. [02:09.5]
James: I think a lot of people get hung up on the “no money” part. It's not necessarily a lack of resourcefulness, so you were resourceful in the fact that you tapped into your network, so that's really cool.
Brandon: You kind of have to be to build a practice, right? You can definitely work for a shop and work your way in, but I think building from scratch, the benefit of that is you get to choose who you work with and you get to organically grow in that network.
James: Absolutely, and AdvisorFlow, for those advisors who don't know, it is more or less a process, a system. It's a business, of course, but it's framed around helping advisors with their onboarding processes, which is a very important part of financial services because you're taking prospective clients to become clients and the journey that they have there impacts everything that comes after that. What are some of the most common mistakes you see advisors make when onboarding new clients? [03:03.8]
Brandon: Yeah, I think the financial services industry historically has been very cookie-cutter, very a-guy-in-a-suit, offering the same service, no matter what firm you go to, so I'd say the biggest mistake that advisors make is they tend to treat all of their clients the same.
Now, you, James, you talk a lot about niching, and I don't think enough advisors take that to heart. I customized my advisory process, depending on whether it's a young professional, a business owner, or a family, and the language that I'm using in meetings is different, so the agenda is different. I use a lot of the same technology, but I'm constantly iterating based on feedback that I'm receiving from clients or what I learned from subject matter experts like yourself.
Now, bringing that back to the client experience, I think that really needs to be front and center. Every advisor runs a slightly different business, even though we think we do a lot of the same things. I would encourage every advisor to go through their process step by step, perhaps even have a partner or a close friend go through that process and ask them, “How does this make you feel? Was this smooth? Would you have done this if you didn't have a good relationship with me?” [04:09.0]
If someone you love doesn't feel good going through your process, how do you think someone you just met or you were just referred to feels? Why is Disneyland so popular? Because from the moment you walk into the park, you feel magic. Now, it's hard to make financial advice feel magical, but you can at least make it feel warm.
James: There are so many things that Disney does that it’s just mind blowing. Don't quote me on this, but I think it's something like you're never more than three meters away from a trash can. The cast members aren't allowed to point. They're encouraged to take you to certain places. All of that is by design. It is not accidental. You feel more welcomed or you feel closer when you're walking toward the park than you do walking out of the park, or maybe I have it reversed. But there are so many different touches I think advisors can learn a lot from studying Disney. I've talked about that a couple of times in Inner Circle Newsletters. [05:02.8]
The question I have for you, though—you brought up marketing to a specific group of people and that's something I certainly espouse—let's say that you have an advisor who works with, I don't know, we’ll say dentists, okay, and they're working with dentists all day long and they're onboarding new clients, let’s just say, a couple a month and they're all dentists. They repeat themselves, and inside, they may feel that they're saying the same things and they're getting kind of tired of it. What are some ways for financial advisors to really dig in and treat each client as unique or to find some little things that are different about clients, even when they're working with a specific target market?
Brandon: Yeah, you can look at age. You can look at location. You can look at personality traits. So, I think, depending on what questions the advisor is asking in those discovery meetings, that's going to help them segment those particular clients. With AdvisorFlow, for example, I’ll create different surveys, depending on what age a particular client is. [06:02.3]
One of my clients on the advisory side is in tech, so at the early stage, they're going to be asked particular questions. If I’ve known they've raised money, they're going to be asked different questions, and that's going to lead me down a different discovery path, because I already know enough about them that I can show them that I know where they're at in their business and what problems they're going to face over the next few years than another advisor who is just asking them generic questions isn't going to ask.
James: That is so cool because you're just getting data that not only helps you but it helps the client as well, and that can help you build systems. We can probably touch on that later in the episode.
Some of the things that I have noticed that advisors do is they're reliant on clunky systems and clunky technology, and what's interesting is that on your website, you have a special Word document to remind you that inefficient processes can take hours and how client onboarding can be digitized. Can you tell the audience about that Word document and the story behind it? [07:02.4]
Brandon: Yeah, I think a good analogy to this is kind of like Super Mario when he consumes either a star or a mushroom. You’ve got Mario and he's already pretty cool, he can throw little fireballs and he's relatively successful, but if he can consume that star, consume that mushroom, he's going to totally uplevel his experience and he's going to be able to supercharge his business.
I hear some advisors say, “Oh, clients said they prefer pen and paper, it's more personal,” or “Oh, my process is fine. I don't need to change it.” I said, “You probably can still close business. I don't think that's the question. It's the question of how do you create a repeatable business that's going to increase the likelihood of success moving forward? How do you add an associate to your process in your business, if your process isn't all documented and thought through?” because I find advisors that are experienced are very good at emotional intelligence and responding to body language or language from a client, but replicating that is very difficult, if it's not documented and implemented into somewhat of a software system. [08:04.8]
James: And that's absolutely critical for advisors who want to outsource. I've had this conversation maybe three times so far this week with people talking about outsourcing everything, and I have it maybe once a week on average because it's just a popular topic. Yes, you want to outsource. Yes, you want to get stuff done. Yes, you want to have systems. But you can't multiply zeros.
In the marketing world, specifically, there are advisors who believe that on day one, they can go out and hire a marketing firm, agency, coach, consultant, guru, whatever, who can basically create everything for them, and that's more or less a pipe dream and it's unfortunate. But I mean, I wish it were the case, that'd be kind of cool to just go out and hire someone and say, “Hey, create this business for me,” but it doesn't exist. The best people or the best time to outsource is when you do have those systems, you can hire and you can hand off something to another person.
So, you're absolutely right. When a financial advisor is bringing on an associate advisor, for example, or another advisor entirely, it is critical to have the onboarding process down to a science, literally, where you can just give it to the other person. I'm glad you brought that up. [09:11.1]
Brandon: Yeah, I think that it's often overlooked. A lot of advisors focus on rates of return or they focus on the financial plan, but the onboarding experience, really those first few steps, the first few touchpoints, that's what's likely going to cement that relationship. All the numbers and everything else that you bring to the table afterwards, that's what they'll end up talking about afterwards, but for a client to actually trust you, believe in you, know that you're the right person, those first few touchpoints, whether it be the meetings, the emails, the information they have to fill out to you, whatever that process feels like, that's their first impression.
James: People don't realize that that can be part of a system. They say, “Oh, I don't want to sound robotic,” or “I don't want to come across as robotic.” You don't have to. I don't want you to. I don't want you to come across as robotic at all. But I want you to have guardrails in place. I want you to have buffers in place to guide whoever it is down the pipeline, the process, whatever you want to call it, both your client and whoever it is that's implementing this, whether it's an associate advisor or another advisor entirely, as I said. [10:11.8]
And I'm glad you brought up Mario and I love that analogy. I don't think I’ve ever heard that before, where they can become Super Mario and they can uplevel in their business. Another way that I think advisors can do that is by strengthening their value proposition, and just so advisors who are listening know, a unique value proposition needs to be unique and it needs to be valuable, the secret is in the name. But one thing that a lot of advisors don't consider is that a streamlined onboarding process can be part of your value proposition, and, Brandon, you're the guy to ask about this. How can advisors make that part of their proposition?
Brandon: The reason I have the Word doc on the site is I used to use a Word document to gather information. I'd send it to clients, hope they filled that out, hear some feedback about how they didn't like it, and I’d carry on. But, luckily, I had friends in the software industry who was able to build out a digital version of the platform where data would flow from the first point of contact to the financial planning process, and, ultimately, to opening up accounts and adding the client to the book. [11:14.8]
I think every advisor should be considering, if they haven't, what technologies can automate certain aspects of the business, but also what allows their brand to shine through, and allow them to continue to be them, because it's not just about choosing a software system like Google Forms or whatever. It's about choosing software that is going to grow with your business and it's focused on you as an advisor. That's where, I think, some advisors kind of get mixed up. They think, Yeah, I have software, it gets the job done, but if it takes away your personality and doesn't allow your brand to shine through, I think that's also a mistake. [11:51.2]
James: What's interesting, though, is the advisors who automate more, actually, in my experience, have their personality shine through even more. It's one of those things where what you fear comes to pass, and what I mean by that is advisors who are afraid of sounding too robotic, they end up working, working, working, working, and shoving their calendar full of tasks, and they're so burnt out, and so stressed out and doing everything manually that they just do the bare minimum and they their mind defaults to just saying whatever, whenever. They don't put any thought into it, they just try to get tasks done.
Compare that to someone who is using software, email marketing, for example, that could use an autoresponder sequence and just be done with it. They would then free up their time to really intentionally think about what they want their business to look like, how they can show appreciation for the clients, how they can let their personality come through, any client events. It just opens up a whole new world. So, there are so many benefits that I see, benefits from automation, throughout the entire business itself, not just onboarding. But I'm glad that you specialize in onboarding and helping advisors with this. [13:01.0]
Brandon: Yeah, and, really, a lot of the content that you talk about, when you're posting content and you will go viral, it's not because you put something into an app and it just puts something out. It's something about your personality that's going in your life that you think is relevant to advisors. So, I think the personality touched with the technology mesh. That's really where the skill can come in.
You look at ChatGPT, and I actually have my marketing team running some of our copy through that to enhance it a bit before it goes out. We're still doing all the same stuff, but we're leveraging technology to augment the experience and, ultimately, make it easier and better.
James: Let's talk about that. I know this isn't going to fit in the show title about onboarding and client processes. How, specifically, are you using ChatGPT, in addition to that, or are you?
Brandon: It's still very early, but we've essentially come up with topics that are relevant to the clientele, specifically on the advisory side, not on the software side for advisors. [14:00.0]
Brandon: And, previously, I had my team research the topics and come up with basic templates of what we've been talking about. I would edit it, make it read, and then we would record and push that content out, either through blog format, video format, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, etc.
Now what we're doing is instead of them doing that research, they're asking ChatGPT to get the baseline research done, instead of going out and googling and finding it, because it's actually way better worded through ChatGPT. Then I’ll edit it. So, it's essentially cutting down some of the time of our process previously, but, ultimately, it’s still the same. It's still my opinion about how a TFSA works or the equivalent of an IRA in the States. We're still doing the same stuff, but now we're just trying to use A.I. in the process, because, ultimately, people want to hear from humans. They don't hear from robots.
Why are they going to watch someone on Instagram or TikTok instead of Google? It's more entertaining to hear somebody that they know, like, and trust, and that's, I think, the opportunity for all advisors to get your brand out there and make sure your personality is obvious. If you are going to outsource everything, a marketing person to write your copy, send it out, do it, it's not going to be you anymore and, therefore, you're going to probably not get the same results than if you had the advisor’s face, the advisor’s words, the advisor’s perspective. [15:13.8]
James: Just to be clear, when you get the stuff from the A.I., you're not copying and pasting the text and just putting it on your website. You're using it for an outline and then putting your own spin on it.
James: I love that, and that's the way you should use it because it's actually against Google's guidelines to copy and paste the text. People will come back to that and say, “Oh, well, this tool says that it can't detect if it's generated by A.I. This tool says this.” You're not incorrect, but I think in terms of asymmetric reward and risk, and I think that the downside to you getting slapped with a penalty is not worth the upside of getting some extra traffic and saving maybe an hour or two every article. Every advisor has to determine if it's worth the risk. [16:01.1]
I think just because you get a good outcome from a bad decision doesn't mean it is a good decision. It just means exactly what I said, you’ve got a good outcome from a bad decision. If you run a bunch of red lights and stop signs on your way to work and you get to work 10 minutes earlier, does that mean that you made a good decision? No, it means that you have skirted the asymmetric downside.
I think I really want advisors to take heart, because I put something out about A.I. not too long ago, and I would say about half of the feedback I received was about writing in some way, shape or form, like blog content, and advisors would say, “This is going to save me so much time, because I can take this text and put it on my site,” and I think, Oh, no, I should have said something. I'm glad that you're using it correctly. That is the way I would personally recommend. It’s to ask it for ideas, get some outlines, and then expand on the outlines, and you are doing it right. [16:59.0]
Brandon: Yeah, I think that's how we should look at all technology. If technology says it's going to do everything in your business, it probably isn't the right technology. The technologies that I see being successful are very advisory-focused. There is a platform in Canada called AdvisorStream, which basically scours the internet for all these different marketing articles and then you can publish them. But it's almost too automated. I use it more as a filler and then I actually post creative content, and now I see most advisors use it.
I started using that platform in 2018 before most advisors used it, and now I'm looking at other things because I don't want my content to be the same thing that I see other advisors posting. I want my stuff to be unique and be more about me. Engagement, back in 2018, for that content was way higher than it is now, so it just goes to show you that the flavor of the week and sort of what everyone else is using probably isn't the right thing. You need something that's a bit different, a bit more unique, and a bit more relevant for today. [17:50.2]
James: I’ll give financial advisors a little tip, if they're interested in doing something with A.I. and some sort of content aggregator. There used to be a service, I don't even remember the name, it'll probably come to me as soon as we stopped recording, that was an aggregator that, basically, you would type in a keyword like a Coca-Cola and it would give you the most popular articles about Coca-Cola. I know BuzzSumo used to do it, but that's not the one that I'm thinking of. BuzzSumo used to have a popularity rank or something like that.
What you could actually do now is take the most common article and the title of it, and put it into chat GPT and say, “Give me titles like this.” So, you're having a proof of concept that you can expand on that you can throw your two cents in, but you're not copying. Never ever copy and just copy-paste and just share the content. It's kind of lame, and it's lazy.
But you also don't want to try to reinvent the wheel, and a lot of advisors say, “Oh, I'm not creative.” You don't have to be creative. You have to ask an A.I. tool now, in 2023, “Hey, give me 10 examples of hooks similar to this,” and you just give it the proof of concept and then you run with that. [19:04.1]
Brandon: Yeah, for sure, and I think it's trial and error, too, right? Advisors can try some of this stuff. If it doesn't work, then don't keep doing it, because new tech can be great, but nothing is a silver bullet. So, just being a good advisor, taking care of your clients, and asking for referrals, if you've done a good job.
James: Yeah, you really get back to the basics. One of the ways that I’ve been using A.I. that has been kind of cool is I originally started using DALL-E, and it's “D-A-L-L [hyphen] E”, and it's basically an image generator. You put in whatever keywords you want, and I put in a robot shaking hands with an advisor, and the images were okay and I ran some ads with those images and they did well.
Then I used the service called Midjourney, so “M-I-D journey”, so all in one word, Midjourney, and that thing is incredible and let me tell you, I'm going to give these people a business idea, if I had an Instagram account, I would do photos for Midjourney all day, every day. [20:08.4]
I would have a car account, or let's just say, a Tesla account, if we're niching down even more, and I would say, like, “red Tesla in the desert 8k photorealistic,” or like, “red Tesla Model S in the snow 8k photorealistic,” and I would put it on Instagram. I would start networking with people in the Tesla space and grow that account, and then I would have partnerships with car places. I would have affiliate relationships. There's a lot of stuff that I would do with that.
Anyway, back to my original point, Brandon. You got me off track. You shouldn't have done that.
Brandon: I love the way you think.
James: I use Midjourney to generate images for online ads and those online ads have been crushing it. It has been insane with these images. It’s so much better. I know because one of the things that I struggle with and advisors also struggle with is human faces tend to do really well in ads, and there's only so much I could do by taking pictures of myself, like outside, inside, by this screen, with this thing. It's just taking pictures of myself. I'm not an Instagram model. [21:10.7]
But with Midjourney, I’ve cracked the code, because I can say, “young financial advisor doing--” whatever the ad is about, so if the ad is about watching a webinar, I can type in, “young financial advisor,” and the reason I say young is because I’ll do age targeting, so it's like 25 to 34, “young financial advisor watching something on the computer,” and that just destroys it compared to some other images I run. What do you think about that?
Brandon: I'm writing some notes. I think this is some good stuff as always, James. Yeah, I like it. The fact that we have these tools at our fingertips now, I think the advisors that utilize them and understand them and understand the rules around using them are going to crush—especially if you get someone like yourself who is giving some coaching and advice along the way, because, yeah, the way you think and compared to most advisors, you are a marketer through and through, it's pretty fucking clear. [22:06.7]
James: Thank you. I can't wait to see what the future holds for A.I., and we'll get back to systems right after this, I promise financial advisors who are listening, unless you like the A.I. stuff. Send me an email if you do and maybe I’ll do an episode about A.I. in the future.
But it's going to change everything for financial advisors who are running online ads, especially the ones who either have multiple niches or who have-- Some of my most successful advisors that I work with are advisors who have different associate advisors and paraplanners who work with different niches within the business, if that makes sense.
They have XYZ Wealth Management, and then one silo of the business works with firefighters, one silo works with police officers. You can generate images of firefighters and police officers and whoever you want from Midjourney in minutes, and then you can immediately take them and put them on Facebook. [22:58.5]
Then when you realize that the 80-20 rule applies and one image out of five is going to generate 80% of your results, statistically speaking, and you can get a massive amount of data in a short period of time. It's almost like you'd have to be foolish to screw it up. You'd have to try to not get results with it, especially when you start targeting just the way that I think you should, which is very detailed.
Advisors, here's a funny story also. I know I'm rambling. An advisor had trouble with his Facebook ads because he was marketing to police officers. He was targeting the Police, which is like the music, the band, the rock band, the Police. He was showing his ad to people who are fans of the Police, not police officers, so no wonder his ads weren't getting results. [23:47.1]
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James: Back to the systems thing, though. You seem very systems-minded. That's one of the things that I appreciate about you and what you do for advisors and clients, and all sorts of people. From you, I want to know, what are some tips financial advisors can use to build better systems?
Brandon: Yeah, the biggest piece of advice I would have is for advisors to look at other industries that have been innovating longer. We talked about Disney earlier. You've got, let's say, Disney for magic. You've got Google for search, Amazon for purchasing online. Go through the buying process for those other industries and write down notes about what you like and don't like about the experience.
At the AdvisorFlow, I looked at a platform called Jane, which does what we do for physiotherapists. I spoke with one of the founders. You're not always going to find the best information or inspiration from the industry which you're focused on. Sometimes you can look at other advisors and mimic what they're doing, but I find the best advisors that are doing things unique likely got those ideas from outside the financial advice space. [25:14.6]
So, if you work with doctors, maybe you say that you treat financial uncertainty versus saying that you help with their financial security. Just trying to tie your own systems and processes to your industry, but getting that information from likely outside the industry.
James: I think that is absolute gold and that's something I’ve been thinking about recently, so I think this is a sign that I need to take action on something. Advisors were asking about this, I think, two or three weeks ago, like how to improve their call process. If somebody calls their office, what do they say and what are they doing? They want a script, and I always get frustrated with people like that and I really should work on it. I just don't like that mentality of “just give me a step-by-step, give me a script.” But I started thinking about it because I try to genuinely help and I think, What would I do? [26:01.7]
I would call services that use, like, Call Ruby, which is a phone-answering service. Smith.ai is another call-answering service, and these are businesses that are incentivized to make sure calls get answered pleasantly, quickly and in a great fashion, and to basically get information and say, “How can we help you?” and so on and so forth.
I would take notes. How quickly did the phone call get answered? Was it on the first ring, second ring, third ring? What did the person say immediately after answering the phone? What happened when I asked a question? How do they redirect if there's something that they don't know? How quickly do they promise to call back? I would try to pay attention to all of these things. You're saying something very similar and I think that's awesome. Financial advisors could benefit a lot from that. When you were doing your research for AdvisorFlow, you did something similar with the physiotherapist company. That is brilliant. [26:55.1]
You need to realize, advisors, there are companies out there, and I don't know Call Ruby’s financials, but I'm sure it's a multimillion dollar company, at least, so they have tons of clients paying a lot of money to make sure that their phone calls get answered and get answered correctly. In a capitalistic society, they have a profit motive to ensure that they're delivering a superior service. Again, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Just think, Who is doing it? How can I model that? And I love that you did that.
What are some mistakes you see financial advisors make when voting systems?
Brandon: Trusting that what has worked before is going to continue working in the future.
James: Oh, yeah.
Brandon: We talked a lot about A.I. improving every day. Financial advice delivery needs to keep pace, so I think they're not leveraging the technologies that are available today and then continuing to stay on top of what's coming. Michael Kitces does a good job in the U.S. In Canada, we've got the Advocis digital catalog.
Advisors think that this is time wasted or it's going to take too much time to learn, especially those that are perhaps in their 50s and have already got a successful business. They just think, Okay, this isn't worth my time, because my time is worth $500 an hour if I'm with clients. Why would I bother to learn new software? [28:10.5]
I think the question, the reframing that is really, if you can integrate some of this technology, it's actually going to save them $500 an hour for multiple hours in perpetuity while they're still in the business, if they spend the time now.
Those are probably the two biggest ones.
James: That would require an investment, though. Isn't it weird that the industry that talks about “Oh, you should invest often and invest early” has some people who are so adamant and not investing in themselves and in their businesses?
Brandon: Yeah, advisors are cheap, for sure.
James: If I had known that, it would have influenced my thinking about serving advisors. But what's interesting is that there's a pocket of advisors who were just superstars, amazing. These people were just wonderful in every aspect. You just have to wade through everybody else to get to these people. If that’s offensive, I'm sorry. If you're offended by that, you're probably not in the pocket of people that I'm talking about. But it is true. It is absolutely true. [29:08.8]
I see that with hiring people and they say, “Oh, it would take me three hours to explain this process to someone else and it would only take me 30 minutes to do it.” You're like, Okay, and how often does that task come up? “Oh, it comes up about 10 times a month.” Wait a minute, that means that your breakeven is in less than a month. Why not just teach somebody, show someone that that would require investing?
You're right, they do think, Oh, I make x dollars per hour. They say, “I want to spend more time on income-producing activity.” I think, eventually, it will be income-producing activity. Can you imagine if their clients came to them and they’d invested in the S&P 500, and in 2022, it was down 19%, and they came back and they said, “I'm firing you because I want my investments in appreciating activities”? The financial advisor will say, “You have to wait,” and yet some advisors aren't willing to wait when it comes to software. It's goofy. [30:05.3]
Brandon: Yeah, for sure, I mean, a lot of it is fear-based, like advisors are scared that the big platforms are out to get them or that their jobs will be replaced, and so it's easier to just put the blinders on and not think about it. But at the pace of innovation, it's required, and it’s just getting younger advisors like me more of an opportunity to take market share. So, for all the more experienced advisors out there, this is your call to action, because if you don't, I'm going to transfer your clients’ assets.
James: I'm glad you brought that up, because you are an advisor. What are some things you wish you knew when you were starting your career as an advisor?
Brandon: Yeah, I got into the business because I wanted to start a business and I didn't have a lot of cash to do so, but the thing that I wish I had out of the gate was a mentor who had a lot of experience in the business. I've found these mentors over time, but if you can find somebody who has already been successful and already knows what they're doing, that's huge as well, integrating online sort of ongoing learning into my schedule early on. [31:08.1]
I started working on the CFP, I think, in year two or three, largely because another advisor asked me, “Hey, do you want to do this?” and we did it together. But I’ve still retained time in my schedule to continue to learn, whether it's designations or books associated with the business. So, for anyone who is kind of just getting started, that's super important. And then having an accountability buddy to keep you accountable, not just to your business goals, but also to your educational goals, because I find some advisors, once they get one designation, they think they're good and they just sort of focus on making money and they will stop learning. But you kind of need to be polished to move up market, and that's not going to happen if you're not continually learning.
James: Those are great pieces of advice. I think the one thing I would add for the mentor thing is kind of a warning. Sometimes people think I'm anti-mentor. I'm not necessarily anti-mentor. I'm anti-mentor from mentors who aren't aligned with your goals and your perspectives. [32:05.7]
Financial advisors, when they give me a chance to explain this, they realize that we're all on the same page, because financial advisors want to work with clients to accomplish their goals and give them what they need. I feel the same way about mentorship that I would stress that it's important for advisors to find a mentor with a similar personality, because it's very hard.
The example I always go back to is an extrovert trying to mentor an introvert, it almost never ends well, because the extroverts pushing the introvert to do things that just aren't natural and trying to work on weaknesses is almost never as good as working on strengths. I do think finding a mentor, just to be clear, it is a great idea. I would just find somebody with a similar personality.
Brandon: Yeah, that's very true, especially because most advisors that are successful in this business are typically like salespeople and not everyone who has entered financial services now is a salesperson, and you don't necessarily need to be a salesperson to be as successful today. If you run good marketing and have a good process, you can be an introvert and still run a wildly successful business. [33:05.4]
James: Absolutely. What I’ve noticed is so the middle, the median, the successful advisors who are median to above average, I should say, they tend to be extroverts and everyone who are like the barbell, the people who are super, super successful, and the people who just flop and fail, those tend to be introverts. Sometimes advisors will hear that and think, Oh, that's pretty discouraging, if they're introverts or extroverts, I guess, because I'm saying that. It's not a good outcome for you either/or.
But the introverts are the ones who figure out how to build the systems, how to streamline, how to automate, how to delegate, and those are things to get you to the upper, the zenith of personal wealth and income in business. That's one of my observations and I don't want to adjourn too much about that. We’ll save that for another episode in the future.
One selfish question I have for you. This is more for me than for the listeners. What are some of the best books you've ever read? [34:02.0]
Brandon: Right by me on the bookshelf, I'd probably go with Relentless by Tim Grover. This book is kind of firmly focused on business and relationships. Now, I'm not a professional athlete, but there's a lot of stories of professional athletes within the book and it really just talks about how, if you're focused on the long-term in business and relationships, you will likely be successful, if you continue to kind of work hard and stay at it. Most people lose because they quit. They don't lose because they lost in the short term. A lot of people just give up because they can't handle rejection or they can't handle the loss and learn from the loss.
Simon Sinek, I'm sure you've heard of, his great Leaders Eat Last. When I think of my business, it's about taking care of my staff, taking care of my clients. They take care of my business. They take care of me. The best investments that I’ve made in life have been in people and those have paid dividends far greater than I could have ever expected, even compared, I'd say, thrown into an index time for a number of years. [35:03.2]
Yeah, I was going to say the third, probably From Impossible to Inevitable. I actually read this on my trip to South America. This is written by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin. The This book talks a lot about the fact that ones that believe something can be achieved are the ones that usually do, and we talked a lot about systems today and they talk a lot about systems within this book as well, and if you build the right systems and stay focused, then you can really build long-term success.
Those will probably be my top books at the moment.
James: It's very rare that I get a book recommendation that I have not read that, or at least a common one. Yeah, I have not read From Impossible to Inevitable. I'm adding that to my wishlist right now.
You bring up a good point, if people don't believe they can achieve something, it's almost a given that they're not going to. I would actually make the argument, and this is kind of metaphysical, but it's helped me a lot, whatever comes to your mind when you're setting goals, they came to your mind for a reason. [36:02.8]
If I put an advisor on the spot, or anyone, really, and I say, “Set an income goal for the next 365 days,” and the person is like, Uh … okay, $300,000 in net income. Okay, how come you didn't say 301,000 or 350,000, or 400,000 or a million, or 1.5 million? It's because whether you know it or not, you already believe that you can accomplish that goal. You just need to harness that unconscious belief. The reason you didn't say a higher number is because you don't believe that, so you will only set goals to the threshold of your belief.
Now, once people know that, then they get silly with it and they say, “Okay, well, uh, a billion dollars in a year.” No, you can't do that. It has to be whatever you genuinely feel, whatever you genuinely believe. This is not something that you can game. This is not something that you can trick. You have to just internalize this concept and really believe. “Hey, this is what I want. This is what I feel as if I can accomplish.” It applies to relationships and weight loss and money, and even super-successful people are subject to this. [37:08.0]
There are people that make $10 million per year. These are celebrities, actors, A-listers, so on and so forth, that if you ask them, “What would you like to accomplish in the next 365 days?” they're going to give you something. They're going to give you something that has a threshold. By math, this is how math works, when someone gives you a number, there's going to be a number that's higher. No one is going to say, “I want to make infinity dollars.” If someone gives you a number, it's the threshold. It's the max of their belief. You just have to learn how to harness that. I don't know if that's helpful to people. Do you think that'd be helpful to listeners?
Brandon: A hundred percent. I think people sell themselves short because they're looking at their past results and then just adding a percentage increase, as opposed to looking at the market in which they're serving. What's the potential revenue per client? What happens if they invest a certain amount of money into marketing in that niche and the right way? I think people are thinking about things the wrong way. It's literally like, Oh, I had that much last year. I’d add 10% or 20%. That’s what I’d make this year. [38:04.4]
James: For financial advisors, specifically, their profit margin, generally speaking, not always—I'm sure there are exceptions—tends to be significantly higher than other industries. One of the examples I gave advisors was Nike.
The average price of Nike is about $110 per pair of shoes and the average profit margin, based on when I just googled and researched it, is, like, 11%. Let's make this really easy and say they make $11 profit per shoe or per pair of shoes that they sell you. This means they can invest up to $11 in their marketing to get you to buy a pair of shoes for a billion-dollar company. People need to understand that, and it's $11, $11 in profit, and they're spending billions over the years to get people to become customers. [38:56.8]
Financial advisors, if they make even let's just say $3,500 in revenue and let's take that down to $2,500 in profit, because it takes time for them to create it and they're paying themselves, or at least they should be, $2,500 versus $11? That's astronomical that financial advisors have that type of margin and Nike would do whatever it took to get that margin to that level. They would love to have that. Microsoft would love to have that. Apple would love to have that. And financial advisors have that opportunity, and they don't take advantage of it because they don't realize how much of a gift that is and how much they can amplify it with good marketing and good systems like you're talking about.
Brandon: Yeah, the Inner Circle Newsletter, a big proponent. I think advisors who have not signed up, James is the man. So, 1,200 bucks a year, I think it's a bit of a steal considering the return on investment.
James: And I really, I guess, should raise the prices, I don't know. I have the $99 per month in a lot of different places and a lot of automations, and they would kind of be a pain in the butt to change it. [40:00.5]
But, yeah, you're totally right. I mean, if you make $120,000 per year, the newsletter needs to increase your income 1%. When I say it like that, it sounds kind of silly, or at least for me it does. 1%, are you serious? I wouldn't have a business, if I couldn't do it. Yet advisors get so squeamish and so skeptical, and I’ve seen it all, I’ve seen advisors say everything they possibly could to avoid investing in themselves, and not just with me. I encourage advisors to buy a whole bunch of stuff, to get everything by people like Nick Murray. Buy everything and I mean everything, and just invest in yourself.
I think another thing, people don't realize, you need to be in complete psychological alignment to truly unlock your power, and what I mean by that is, when you don't invest in yourself, you are sending a psychological signal to your entire being that says you're not worthy of being invested in. When you do invest in yourself, you're sending the opposite signal. [41:01.2]
Again, this is not just me. I'm telling you, invest in other things and get other training, get other help, I want you to get everything, not necessarily to benefit me or whoever it is that is receiving the money, but because it benefits you. My life is not going to change if I get another $99. It's not. The quality of my life will not change, period. I'll sleep in the same bed, drive the same car, eat the same food, have the same electric bill, but everything could change for you and I really do mean that. And I thank you for bringing that up. That's awesome, very kind of you.
Brandon: It's the facts, you're the man, James. You're the best marketer I’ve found online. I've scoured the internet when it comes to financial-advisor marketing.
James: Thank you. How can people get in touch with you if they want to learn more about you and how you can help them? Maybe they want to be a client of yours. Maybe they want to learn about AdvisorFlow.
Brandon: LinkedIn, that's the spot. That's where we all share what's on our mind. So, yeah, happy to chat with any advisors or prospective clients about what's going on. But at the end of the day, I'm just super excited for our industry. I think that all this innovation that's coming to the forefront is going to just allow advisors to run better businesses, have more flexibility, be able to travel the world with their loved ones, and still run really great businesses, so it's a very exciting time for our industry. [42:19.3]
James: The future is incredibly bright. People, you heard the man. His name is going to be in the show title and in the show description, or at least it should be in the show description, definitely in the show title. You can type it directly into LinkedIn, find him. Get in touch with him, ask him questions.
Financial advisors, I hope you enjoyed this episode. It has definitely been a unique one. We talked about systems. We talked about discovery. We talked about A.I. We talked about the future of the industry. I don't want you to get left behind, so take this to heart. And I will catch you next week. [42:49.2]
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