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, what's going on? Another week, another episode of the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast. I'm glad you're here. If you're a new listener, welcome. If you're a longtime listener, welcome back. You're awesome. And this week, I have another guest.
One of my goals for 2023 was to have more guests on the Financial Advisor Marketing podcast, and I’ve had some wonderful people so far. This week's guest is no exception. I have Anna Kareis, and we're going to talk about everything, or, at least, I believe we're going to talk about marketing to women. We're going to talk about switching firms, maybe what she wish she knew when she started her career, and it is going to be incredible for financial advisors. [01:06.2]
Anna, thank you so much for being here. Please introduce yourself. Tell the listeners who you are, what's your story, and what you'd like them to know.
Anna: Hi, everyone. My name is Anna Kareis. I am in Columbia, Maryland now. A little bit of hesitation there because we did just relocate six months ago from San Antonio, Texas. As part of that relocation, I also changed firms, because if a little change is good, then a lot must be better. I've recently joined Centennial Wealth Management after about four and a half years at Northwestern Mutual. I've been loving it so far, have been learning a lot, and also working towards getting those almighty designations and pretty letters behind my name.
In my free time, I have a wonderful fiancé, soon to be husband. As of recording, we'll be getting married in less than 48 hours, which is really exciting. And we like to do all of the stereotypical millennial things, like hiking and trying new restaurants, and all of that fun stuff. So, that is my intro at this point. [02:02.2]
James: Do you have any pets?
Anna: We do. We have a cat.
James: Okay, I always wonder, when people say, like, We do the typical millennial things, I like to put them to the challenge.
Anna: Oh, yeah.
James: If you don't have any pets, you're not a true millennial, in my eyes.
Anna: And so, the cat was mine. I spent several years, the hard-working single mother of the cat before Cody and I got together, and I’ve turned Cody into a full-fledged cat dad, which has been a lot of fun to watch because he swore up and down that he doesn't like cats, and then my cat won him over, which was great for us. We're looking into dogs at some point, but the reason I only had a cat instead of a dog was, pre-pandemic anyway, I was traveling pretty frequently and a cat can take care of itself for a couple of days, but a dog really can't do that. So, just a cat.
James: True. I like dogs a little bit better, but I love cats, it's really close, because they can take care of themselves and they go to the bathroom inside, which is a plus for me.
Anna: They do.
James: But back to the finance stuff and financial advising. How did you get started with Northwestern Mutual? Did they approach you? Did you approach them? Because I know people going to say, “Oh, Northwestern Mutual,” and they're going to come with their own opinions that everybody seems to have about every company. [03:06.6]
Look, if you're listening to the show, I want you to understand, every company has its pros, every company has its cons, and we're going to leave it at that. We're not going to get into a weird discussion about different companies. But how did you get started with Northwestern?
Anna: I had a both typical and atypical experience with Northwestern Mutual. A lot of people who have spent any time in the insurance space know that Northwestern Mutual tends to like two very specific demographics of people. They like former college athletes and they like veterans, and I happen to fall into the former category.
They started recruiting me when I was in college, actually. I was in an athlete-to-athlete mentoring program at the University of Iowa. My mentor was the college unit director for the Cedar Rapids office, and he spent the whole two years that he mentored me, trying to get me to go intern at Northwest Mutual, because he was the college unit director. At that point, I thought I was going to be an attorney, so I was like, No, no, don't worry, I'm going to go to law school. No, no, I don't want to do an internship there right now. [04:04.7]
I went through all of the LSAT prep, did a couple of job shadowing for attorneys, realized that it didn't actually want to be an attorney eleventh hour senior year of college, so ended up doing a Teach for America type program called City Year, which took me down to San Antonio, because you serve where most needed in a lot of those programs and what they needed was people in San Antonio, Texas.
So, went down to San Antonio. As my education career was coming to an end, I reached back out to that college mentor, because he and I stayed in touch, and I was like, I don't know what to do next. This education thing didn't work out. I know I don't want to be an attorney. And he very kindly said, “I'm not asking anymore. I'm telling you, you're going to apply,” and so I applied at Northwestern Mutual, but I got the last word because I did it in the San Antonio office instead of going back to Iowa. So, that’s how I ended up at Northwestern Mutual.
James: That's really cool. I'm interested in knowing, are there any personality traits that you have, where you obviously had something in you that was attracted to being an attorney and the practice of law? Is there anything that you have found that overlaps with the financial advice industry? [05:10.8]
Anna: I would say, me wanting to be an attorney was influenced heavily by the fact that I was one of those kids that got talked too much on a lot of their growing-up report cards. I also liked to argue and it was one of the things that people were telling me, like, “You'd make a great attorney and you should go to law school,” things like that. You hear it enough times as a kid and you watch enough things like Law & Order and it kind of -
Anna: - tends to sink in eventually.
James: For anyone watching, that is not what being an attorney is like and, luckily, I learned that before I went to law school. But that's really where that came from, not from any real desire to be a lawyer, but to be what I thought the lawyer was, if that makes any sense, but that’s where being a lawyer came from. [05:49.6]
Then switching gears into the financial planning industry, I think what makes people successful in both roles, either financial planning or as an attorney, is probably very similar to what makes people successful in any role, the ability to listen, the ability to work well with others, the ability to handle complex information, especially to teach complex information in a way that makes it very understandable for other people, and those are just a couple of crossover skills and personality traits I’ve learned.
But, again, I think that those could also be helpful in just about anything you're doing. I think the ability to take complex information and teach it to others is probably one of the most important skills now more than ever, as the world gets separated more and more into hard and soft skills.
James: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it's not like you're just going to rattle off case law to potential clients, and they're not going to understand. It's going to go over their head. They're going to go to sleep. You have to read for hours. I studied this quite a bit, because this is literally what I do for a living, and I have found that I’ve never really thought of attorneys necessarily, but teachers, attorneys, engineers, people in the military, they tend to do well as career-changers into the financial advice industry because they work based on systems. They have those traits exactly as you described. [07:10.1]
I’ve also told people more than once, if I had to design a perfect financial advisor, it would probably be either a teacher, but it's not necessarily because of the teaching. It's because of the attributes that come with teaching, or it would be a former athlete, like a college athlete. That's exactly what companies like Northwestern Mutual are doing. Maybe they know something that most people don't.
You mentioned to me before the show that you work with a lot of female clients who are either single or head of household. Why do you think that is?
Anna: I think the industry as a whole needs to do a better job at not only recruiting women, but also retaining women, because I think as a female advisor, there is an inherent comfort level that other women, specifically, that other people have, when it comes to telling me things.
I will regularly roll into a meeting with someone who has never met with an advisor before, and within 15 or 20 minutes of talking, they're telling me their deepest, darkest secrets, or potentially crying while telling me their deepest, darkest secrets. [08:10.5]
Partially, I think that's just because I'm good at asking people questions. I'm very, very nosy, but the other part is that I think people are just willing to tell me things more than they are somebody who looks like you, or who looks like the typical financial advisor, which is older and male and looks probably more like their dad than anything.
I think that's why a lot of women tended to gravitate towards me initially. It was because I was a woman and I was doing the Boss Babe’s thing. So, it's easiest to work with people who are like you when I was a single and strong, hardworking single mom to my cat, and that seems to resonate with people.
James: That makes a lot of sense. For better or worse, I see a lot of women advisors who try to position their business like it's like a disadvantage, like, Oh, I get brushed off by men, and I absolutely see that all the time, and it is unfortunate. But I'm glad that you're looking on the bright side and that you're being an optimist, because, I mean, it is an advantage, too. You're working with people who look like you and are attracted to you, for you. [09:13.8]
And you're absolutely right, the typical financial advisor, I mean, this has been years since I read this study, but when I read it, it was 59 years old and male. It's probably a little younger today, but 55, right? You have people who are in their 20s and 30s, and they want to work with someone who is closer to their age and who isn't going to retire in the next five years. That's another thing to think about.
Anna: Which is such a big issue right now.
James: Yeah. What are some of the biggest issues that you [see]? The women who come to you, are there any patterns that you've noticed? Anything that they're dealing with that you've seen over and over in their financial life?
Anna: I've seen it in my practice and I’ve seen it play out in a couple of different systems. I did actually go googling after I noticed this pattern. The women who are most likely to raise their hand and ask to work with any financial advisor, myself included, are the ones who have recently suffered the end of a relationship, whether that's through divorce, death, or breakups. [10:09.2]
That's the moment when most women are most likely to raise their hand and say, “I need help.” It’s when there's no longer someone else in the picture to either help them with their finances or potentially to manage their finances all together, because there are still a lot of women letting their-- just silly, women in heterosexual relationships letting their male partner run their finances.
James: Yeah, and that's true in my household and it always makes me nervous. My wife is not-- I don't want to say dependent, necessarily, but she always jokes, she's like, Oh, I'm just going to live off you. I'm going to be dependent on you. She says it jokingly, but it kind of bothers me because I want her to do her own thing. I want her to be successful in her own right. I want her to do whatever. I want her to develop skills, be successful. I might not be here forever and I might die. I might get hit by a bus tomorrow, who knows? This podcast episode should still come out, if the Podcast Factory does their job. But who knows? Who knows what will happen? [11:01.8]
And, obviously, she will be set up in a very nice way and I'm thankful for that. I think it's important for people and families to prepare for those sorts of situations. But I do want her to do her own thing and be independent. I think that's important for women to do.
Anna: Again, I think people recognizing what they want out of life is very important. If you want to be a stay-at-home wife or mother, I think that's fabulous. If that's what you want out of life, do it. More power to you. But I think if you want more control in your finances and you want to know what's happening, then you should also have that as well.
And personal opinion, I think everyone in every marriage or long-term relationship where finances are commingled should know at least what's happening at the bare minimum, no matter who's the one doing the day-to-day budgeting and paying bills, and things like that. I think that there should be a level of communication that's consistent about what's happening in the finances, because as you mentioned, things can go bad very, very quickly. People pass away. Accidents happen. Marriages end. Things like that happen, and often the person who's in the worst financial position is the one who didn't know what was happening, whether they're male or female. [12:07.8]
It tends to happen that in heterosexual relationships, it’s the woman who doesn't know what's happening, and because she doesn't know where the accounts are, she doesn't know what's in the accounts and she doesn't know what the accounts are meant for. Her life is made orders of magnitude more difficult during the divorce process or after their spouse passed away, simply because she doesn’t know.
James: Yeah, there's a Warren Buffett quote, it's like, risk comes from not knowing what you're doing, and it is unfortunate. My heart goes out to people who are thrust into this situation, but it is preventable. I want to say that without sounding callous. Please, if you're listening to my voice, if you searched Anna on Google or something and you found her and you're hearing her voice, make sure you set this stuff up.
But since this is the Financial Advisor Marketing show, I want to ask you, how did these women find you or how did you find them?
Anna: I think it all started with one person for me. I have a very clear picture in my mind of the first client that came to me that was kind of in this avatar, and she was so lovely to work with. She came to me right after a divorce. [13:05.3]
She had been married to a man who was an executive at one of the big tech companies, super recognizable, so I'm not going to say its name. She had gotten reamed in the divorce, but had ended up with some assets in the form of company stock and in the form of old 401(k)s, and things like that. She got custody of the kids. She got child support and things like that.
So, she had something going for her, but she hadn't worked during the 10-plus years that they were married. She had stayed home with their kids and stayed at home with them, and she was in this position where she was trying to balance having to start working again because she needed to be able to support the families. Alimony and child support was enough to do that. Also, she now has this nest egg of money that she didn't know if it was going to be enough. She didn't know what to do with it. She didn't audibly know what it was. [13:57.2]
We found each other at a networking event. I was speaking at a conference that was for women, actually. I was doing financial-planning basics talk at this conference and she found me after the conference, and she was like, Oh my gosh, I’ve been searching for an advisor and you're exactly what I was looking for. Can we meet? As somebody who was two and a half or three years in at that point, I was like, Oh, yes, of course, we can meet. This was music to my ears, somebody who wants to talk with me that I didn't have to hunt down. Loved that.
She and I talked and we ended up doing business together, and she came with me to my new firm, which has been really exciting. But that was the very first moment for me, it was working with her, this person who not only needed my help, but wanted my help and I didn't have to convince that they needed and wanted my help, and there was the immediate ability to do business, so the stars aligned.
After that, I consciously started to seek out that avatar of people who would need my help and appreciate my help, and I did that through marketing via social media and also asking for referrals. One of the best things I ever did was learn to teach myself how to teach other people to refer me, so giving people a script on how to refer me to other people and how I like to be introduced to other people. It was one of the best things that I ever did. [15:13.7]
James: That's awesome and it's because you have that proof of concept, and that's a wonderful feeling, when you finally have something and you're like, Yes, people want this or they want that. That referral, the referral script and teaching people how to refer, what does that look like. Are you giving that to your clients? Are you giving that to centers of influence? What is the process behind that?
Anna: All the above, everybody got this, or at least, everybody who I think will get referrals. One of the upsides of working in Northwestern Mutual is that you learn how to prospect, and one of the things that I learned at Northwestern Mutual is that not everybody is going to give you referrals and that's okay.
Anna: The key to being good at prospecting is getting more referrals and better referrals from people who are going to give them to you. If only 50% of people are going to give you referrals, the key to continuing to get more referrals is focusing on that 50% and getting them to give you better referrals more frequently, and that's where the training and teaching comes from. [16:06.6]
James: Sure, that's a good idea. I wish more financial advisors did that. That's one of the things that I’ve walked people through and I’m just like, Look, take a look at your client base. Make sure you're asking for referrals. It could be like a check on a piece of paper. It could be a checkmark in the CRM somewhere, like a bullet point that you put in like, Hey, did you ask this person for referrals? That is pretty cool.
What are you doing on social media? You mentioned that you're finding them through social media? Is that LinkedIn? Is it Twitter? What is that?
Anna: As anyone who's ever been in the financial planning world knows, social media and compliance are like–
James: Oil and water.
Anna: Basically, I didn’t know how to say that nicely. If my compliance department is listening, I love you .
James: Two angry cats.
Anna: But, yeah, so primarily my most active business, social media is going to be LinkedIn. I've been posting actively on there for about two and a half years now. That was one of my pandemic coping mechanisms that has turned into a full blown thing at this point. I’ve met wonderful friends, made lots of connections and have gotten some great clients out of it as well, so social media has definitely been great for me. [17:14.4]
One is I’ve been growing my practice, but, two also was I’ve moved halfway across the country and I’ve been trying to make friends and rebuild the network here.
James: Oh, yeah, social media is so much more in the business. I've used social media for personal stuff, I'm like, Hey, look, I just bought this thing. Any recommendations? Or this was two or three years ago, I was like, I'm interested in buying a Sprinter van. Does anybody know anybody who customizes Sprinter vans? It was like, Oh, I know this person. Cool. That never would have happened without social media.
Anna: No, and it’s “Hey, we're moving to Columbia, Maryland. Do you know anybody there that could help us find XYZ or who lives there in the area that would want to be friends with us?” because having friends is important, as we all learned during the pandemic. So, yeah, social media is great for just about everything. Obviously, it’s got its drawbacks, but it can be great, too. [18:00.1]
James: And I assume that since you moved from Texas to Maryland, that your business isn't primarily geographically-bound. Do you work virtually with a lot of clients?
Anna: At this point, when I was leaving Texas, I ran my book of business at that point, and I think only 3% of my clients were in the State of Texas at that point, so an even smaller percentage was in the City of San Antonio, because it's local clients being in the State of Texas that would still be eight hours away in the State of Texas is .
James: I'm from Delaware, so I can drive. I don't know what Delaware is top to bottom, but at the thinnest point, it's, like, 20 minutes. I drive across the entire state, and I can go to Philadelphia, I can go to Baltimore, I can go to D.C., in a couple of hours and just do a little loop. I'm a two-hour train ride from New York City. So, my mind is just different. When someone is in Texas, you're completely right, eight hours, it's like you're still in the same state.
Anna: You're still in the state–
James: And, hey, I would’ve been through three or four different states at that point. [18:59.5]
Anna: That's been one of the biggest mind warps for me, moving to the East Coast. It’s that my perception of distance is very different than a lot of people who have been here for a long time. It would take me, depending on traffic, 45 minutes plus to drive across San Antonio, and an hour and a half to get to Austin, and four hours, depending on traffic, to get to Houston where my grandparents are so I was going there pretty frequently. And, here, I can drive 30 minutes to get to Baltimore, 45 minutes to get to D.C., and four or five hours get to New York City, two hours to Philadelphia. It's just a whole different world here.
James: It's an amazing place to live. A lot of people hate on this area, but it is wonderful for that reason. What is one thing that you wish you knew when you were starting your career? If you could go back in time and tell yourself, on day one, something important, what would you tell yourself?
Anna: I would probably tell myself to buckle up, because it has been a great ride, but it has also been a challenging ride at different times. Yeah, that would probably be “Be warned, child, this is not going to be as easy as you'd like.” It is great and, partially, I think, when being referred to people, paints a little bit rosier picture than it actually is. But in hindsight 20/20, that's probably what I would tell myself, it’s “Brace yourself. It's not going to come as easily as you think it does.” [20:18.0]
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James: There are certain companies that will tell you, “Oh, if you reach out to 10 people, you set appointments with three and then get one client.” You're like, Oh, cool, if I reach out to 100 people who know, trust and like me, then I'm going to get 10 clients. Not necessarily. It doesn't work that way. It's not that easy. And I just wish more people knew that and I have led the charge with some of these things. What has surprised you the most about your work as a financial advisor? [21:07.8]
Anna: I think what has been the most surprising is that even if people look different, we are all much more similar than we think we are.
James: Oh, yes, totally, a hundred percent.
Anna: Most people have the same couple of concerns. They're worried about their kids. They're worried about retirement. They are worried about their parents. As much as people can differ geographically, politically, we are all much more similar than I think most of us are willing to admit, and I think that's been the most surprising.
Then the flip side of that is that talking to a 30-year-old who's behind her in retirement savings is about the same as talking to a 50-year-old who's behind in their retirement savings. You might feel much more stressed on the inside when talking with the 50-year-old, but they're still going to act about the same as the 30-year-old, so that was also an eye-opener for me. [21:56.8]
James: And people just want to know, like, Am I going to be okay? Is stuff going to be fine? Am I on track? Some people are a little bit more insecure than others. They ask questions like, “What is the average? What is the benchmark? How am I doing compared to everyone else?”
People have this feeling, and I'm not immune to this, I have this with accountants and advisors, too, where even I want to ask, like, Who is your most successful client? How am I doing compared to that person? I'm a super-competitive guy and that's how I feel I know that people just want to know “Look, am I going to be okay? Am I on track to reach my goals? Can I retire at this age? Can you just shed some light?” That's one of the biggest values that a financial advisor can provide. It's not necessarily the spreadsheet. It’s not necessarily the plan. It is just giving people the feeling that they are going to be okay and that they are on track.
Next question for you. This is something that I'm really interested to know, because you have done social media. You've done referrals. You've done these networking events. You've had clients come to you. You've had a proof of concept. What are some of your marketing pet peeves? [23:06.4]
Anna: Cold DMs.
James: To you or from? Do you cold DM? Okay, because if you did and you're saying you don't like it when people cold DM you, then that’s–
Anna: That would make me a hypo-hypo-hypocrite.
James: Yeah, absolutely. Who are you receiving cold DMs from?
Anna: I received most cold DMs from -
Anna: - I think is the top. Recruiters, I get plenty from them, and also people who are trying to sell lead-generation services and things like that.
James: Oh my goodness. It's just like I feel like there are more lead-gen companies than financial advisors at this point, and it's crazy. It really sucks.
Anna: I don't know that there are more lead-gen companies than financial advisors, but I think there are definitely companies where if I see them and a person, like a connection requests, I'm not accepting a connection request. They might have the purest intentions in the world, but I’m not interested in even looking at your request. I’m just tired of it at this point. [24:01.8]
James: Yeah, it’s definitely frustrating, and for financial advisors who are listening, I want you to understand that it is okay to buy leads, but you should never depend on them and it would never be my first go-to, because if your instinct is always “Oh, let me put out this fire” and the fire keeps coming back, you're treating the symptom, not the cause.
Unfortunately, now, people don't know this about me, but I’ve had different forays into lead-generation companies and I know the model pretty extensively. The lead-generation model is almost always flawed from the beginning, and here's why. Because a lead-generation company is born because they have a source of leads that they can find to sell financial advisors. They can get that source cheaply.
Let's just say they have leads at $5 each, and, obviously, this would not occur in financial advice because it's very expensive, but it'd be $5 each and they sell them for 10. They're making a profit. Cool. But leads are often found in places like social media, which operate based on an auction platform. [25:05.0]
This is how economics works. As more people rush to buy those leads, the prices go up, because it's based on auction, and then the profit gets squeezed out. They have to raise prices to financial advisors or—or—if they want to keep their prices the same, they have to go to a new lead source and that lead source is probably not going to be as good.
So, if you're dependent on leads, you’ve got to find something else, unfortunately. I mean, it's just the way it is. If they can’t make money, I'm not going to say it's a solid business model because it's absolutely not. It's just something that people can have. It's like a crutch. You can use it. It can serve you for a purpose, but you should not be dependent on it forever. You're not going to walk on a crutch your entire life, or at least, you shouldn't. If you do, something terrible has happened.
Anna: If your business was healthy, just like if your body was healthy, you shouldn't need the crutch forever.
Anna: And I think that that's to your point. It can be good. It can be a band-aid solution. I think that it could probably be really effective for somebody who's just starting, especially if they're just starting in a place where they have no network like yours truly did. It could probably be a really easy way to get your foot in the door. [26:09.6]
Plus, there's something about cold calling where as much as I don't like it, it does build your confidence very quickly, so I can see some good in it. But like, to your point, I don't think it's a good long-term solution.
James: Have you ever responded to a cold DM or, I’d just say, bought anything or gotten a service? Has money ever changed hands?
Anna: No, I respond pretty frequently, but, generally, in a no-thank-you kind of way. I will say, as much as I don't like the cold DMS, they do generally lead some of my favorite social media interactions, because I don't know how closely you follow my nonsense on LinkedIn, but I really don't care what people think, especially people who are going to try and cold pitch me a product.
I remember one situation very, very clearly because it just happened within the last couple of weeks, where I had previously interacted with a sales rep for this company and he had done the demo with me, and I hadn't been interested. But I think the first time, then apparently, I had been passed off to somebody else and the next person in the company reached out to me, and I was like, Oh, no, thank you, I've already done the demo with someone else at your company. And their next message was, “What does our software do?” Oh. Sorry, I don't actually owe you anything here. [27:18.0]
James: Yeah, it's crazy.
Anna: And I didn't end up responding, and a couple of weeks into the new year, so literally, just a couple of weeks ago, they reached back out to me and they were like, Hey, how are your New Year's goals going? perhaps not realizing that I don't delete message threads and I remember exactly what our last conversation was. And I just messaged them, “I did not enjoy our last interaction. Please don't message me again.”
James: It's just like, you wonder, does this work? I used to respond to people. I was like, Does this actually work for you? Because I want the data. I want to learn from everybody, because if somebody says, “Yes, it works,” I'm like, Cool, give me the receipts. Give me. Picture it didn't happen. Let me know, what does this look like? Give your data. Because if somebody is cold messaging me and they respond back and they say, “Yes, it works,” look, I’ll pay you a couple 100 bucks. I’ll donate to your favorite charity. We'll get on the call. You show me your entire process. That's what I want. That's selfish genes talking. But most people-- [28:08.6]
Anna: Show me. Show me behind the curtain. I want to see the full Wizard of Oz.
James: Right, but most people just never respond and I just can't-- Yeah, it's just one of those things like the lead gen. If you have nothing else, then, sure, give it a shot, but don't be dependent on it. And the worst ones are the ones that are just super, super long. It’s like paragraph and paragraph and paragraph and paragraph and it's like, first of all, you're an interruption and I need to qualify if this is worth my time, just speaking as a prospective client for these people. I can't necessarily do that, or I'm dissuaded from doing that if the message is like a book.
Anna: I'm not going to read all that. Like many an advisor out there, I am far too ADHD for that nonsense. I'm not going to do it. I just won't.
Anna: And I think that goes while I also have a thing for people who will ask the probing questions where they're pretending to get to know you, but, really, they're about to try and sell you things afterwards. Once they start asking, “How are you doing in these challenging times?” I'm like, Alright, what are you trying to sell me? Let's cut to the chase here, friend. I’ve got things to do. [29:10.5]
James: There's a code, like the “Hello, dear” or “Hello, Sir.” “Greetings, Sir.”
Anna: “Hi, dear.”
James: Immediately. Yeah, “Hi, dear,” it's no, no.
Anna: Nope, not for me.
James: And I get that all the time. Interesting stuff, and financial advisors, if you're listening seriously, give some thought to your cold DM strategy, if you're using it. I get a lot and I get them from financial advisors because I'm connected with advisors on LinkedIn, and they'll say, “Hey, doing this new thing--” Just no, no, please don't.
There are other things that you can do. You could build an email list. You could have a website retargeting, dependent on the firm, obviously, but you could have social media, because guess what? When people see your post in their feed, that's also a follow-up and it's not as intrusive, so that could be an option as well, and that's actually what you do.
James: What are some of the pieces of content on social media that have worked best for you? [29:58.0]
Anna: Like I said, I’ve been on this. I've been around for about two and a half years when it comes to posting on LinkedIn. I've tried a lot, and so I think it depends on how we're defining “does the best--” Are we talking about it does the best in terms of engagement or it does the best in terms of generating business for me? These are two very different things, as we're both aware.
James: How so? What would be the best in generating business?
Anna: The best in generating business for me have been telling a story or answering a question that I have faced in a client interaction. I actually did one yesterday, where I told very briefly the story of one of my clients who likes luxury handbags. She likes the way they look. She likes what it smells like or something. And she wants to buy more of them, but she also recognizes that there's probably better things that she could be doing with her money.
Between the two of us, we came up with a two-out one-in rule for her handbag collection to where, if she wants to buy a new handbag, she's got to get rid of two of her older ones, and that generally finds one very nice new handbag and it keeps her happy and keeps her accounts growing, and it makes everybody happy in the process. [31:03.8]
Telling stories like that, where I know that this is potentially something that my ideal client is dealing with, my ideal female clients might also have a luxury handbag problem where she wants to have investments, but she also wants to have a nice handbag. So, telling stories like that to show that I know what my ideal client is dealing with and what their life looks like is definitely how I generate the most business.
Then, generally, the posts that generate the most engagement are the ones where I'm talking about my personal life and our personal-life events or things that are going on there. My three-ish most engaged with posts, in general, are my post announcing that I got engaged. People were very excited for me, which I just appreciate.
James: That's awesome.
Anna: The post where I got Covid because I was very honest with everyone that I was scared. I've got a heart condition, so I’ve got all the comorbidities and all that nonsense. Ended up being a very mild case of Covid, but I had it. I was scared and I told people about that. [32:02.8]
And then there was a drunken rampage that I basically went on, and it was only three sentences, but it was right after the-- remember August last year, when the Mega Millions jackpot got up to, like, a billion dollars.
James: Oh, yeah, people were going nuts.
Anna: I had just seen a post where someone was like, If you have me choose between $100 billion and 100,000 LinkedIn followers, I would choose the 100,000 LinkedIn followers. And I did three lines on it, “I would absolutely never make that choice. Give me the money. All day, every day,” and I got a 100,000–
James: Yeah, and you could totally get the audience with the money. you can totally get the audience with the money anyway, so you could end up having both.
Anna: I could. If I were to post that I won a $100-billion Mega Millions lottery, I'm certain my followers will grow very quickly.
James: Yeah, and that's an important distinction. What is interesting is, so I’ve been doing a lot of stuff with email lately and I actually had a meeting with a financial advisor this morning where we worked on email together, and he was shocked because he said, “James, I’ve heard you talking on the Financial Advisor Marketing show about how emails are compliance-friendly.” I'm not going to say they get approved every single time because companies get weird and there's even companies that charge 80 bucks to do an approval, which is nuts to me, but-- [33:18.2]
Anna: Why would you charge your own people for things like that, you know what I’m saying?
James: Yeah, right. So, he's like, I’ve heard you talk about how the best-performing emails don't talk about money or investments at all, and that's why compliance likes them, because you're not mentioning stocks or ETFs. You would never. Of course, you're telling stories and you're talking about yourself, you're talking about stuff you do in your hometown, and when we work through this together, he was like, Wow, you really are telling me exactly what I’ve heard you talk about before. It’s like, Yes, this is not new, and I love it. I love it when people come on the show and they're like, Oh, I just tell stories on LinkedIn, and I'm like, See, I’ve been telling you this whole time, and it's interesting because it's like a revelation to these people every time. [34:04.1]
If I have a meeting and I'm like, Alright, here's what we're going to do. We're going to write this email together and the email is going to be in story format and it's going to be about you, and it's going to answer, subtly, some objections and questions that your potential clients are going to have, like, “I don't have time” or “Financial advisors are for rich people” or whatever. You're going to address those objections in the email and it's going to be in story format. They're like, Whoa, marketing genius here, and I'm like, No, it just works, and they're stuck in this reality where they believe that the emails that worked the best.
Obviously, this would apply to LinkedIn, this would apply to websites. They believe it's about Roth IRAs or HSAs, or the stock market, and it's not that you never want to broach these topics. Yes, of course, you do, but the highest-converting tends to be stories, just like you said, so thank you for bringing that up.
Anna: I am happy to prove you right.
James: Yeah, and I am so thankful. What are your goals for the next six months and the next year? I want to get in your head for financial advisors who are in a similar position who have been in the industry for about the same amount of time as you. What are you thinking about for the next months and years? [35:14.8]
Anna: For the next couple of months, personally, getting married, like we talked about, in the next two days, so getting married, surviving, having our family in town, all that fun jazz. In March, so this will probably have aired after I do this, but I'm going to be taking my APMA, so working on getting a designation. And then, next year, I’ll be sitting for the CFP.
James: Oh, that’s cool.
Anna: If the timing all works out right, I should be able to do my CFP, my CLU, and ChFC, all within the next 18 months, along with my APMA. That's kind of the horizon professionally.
Then, personally, like I said, getting legally married in February, so in two days from now, and then we're doing the big fancy wedding in Ireland in September. So, we're hoping to get some traveling in during our honeymoon as well. That's what the next year or so will look like for me. [36:06.6]
James: Why Ireland?
Anna: Because it is my fiancé’s dream. He wanted to get married and a castle in Ireland and I, as a supportive fiancée, soon to be wife, was willing to make that happen for him.
James: You were willing to make that sacrifice.
Anna: I was. I really was willing to make that sacrifice.
James: That's going to be cool. I have never been to Ireland. I've heard it's absolutely beautiful and I know a lot of women would love to be in your—and men, obviously, men, since he wants to do that—would love to be in your position, because it's just the experience of a lifetime, and I couldn't be happier for you.
One of the questions that I want to end the show with because we're coming up on time here, one of my Inner Circle members had suggested that I start asking guests this question. I'm going to try my best. What are your favorite books, and why?
Anna: My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice. I know–
James: My wife's, too. My wife loves Pride and Prejudice. [37:00.2]
Anna: I was going to say it's a very basic white-girl answer to that question.
Anna: But I love it either way. Then my two favorite business books are, I would say, probably nontraditional business books. One is The Go-Giver. If you're active on LinkedIn, so is Bob Burg and he is a total delight. I actually read The Go-Giver in one sitting last year. That was the first time, and ages that I had stayed up past my bedtime to read a book, but I just couldn't put it back down. I loved it.
Then my second is Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, and it's all about the importance of building relationships and building a network as a way to succeed in life and business.
James: That's awesome. Bob Burg was actually a guest on this show. I don't remember the episodes. I don't know, whatever you're listening or however you're listening to this show, just search Bob Burg and it should come up. I'm not entirely sure. But he was definitely a guest. He’s awesome.
Anna: One of his co-authors, John David Mann is also active on LinkedIn and he and I have gone back and forth in DMs a couple of times, so it's been nice for me to be like, Oh my gosh, these famous authors want to talk to me, yay. [38:03.7]
James: That's cool, and interesting Bob Burg story. When Bob and I were recording the show together, we were near the end and my power went out. I was like, Oh, no, that's not good, power went out. It came back on two minutes later and I don't know if I messaged him or whatever, or if I just tried to get back on, I was like, Look, I don't have the recording for this show. I am so sorry. We can just scrap it if you want, or can we do it again? He was like, We can do it again. He was so nice about it. He is super nice. He was not peeved or perturbed.
I would have been like, Rats. I wouldn't have been as nice as he was, I'll just tell you the truth. I really wouldn't have been. Even though I know it wouldn't have been the host’s fault, but I don't respond that way, unfortunately. But he was super nice. It was an incredible show. He received very good feedback from financial advisors.
So, yeah, he's awesome. If you're on LinkedIn, follow Bob Burg, definitely, and get the audio version of The Go-Giver. That's the one that I listened to and it is nice. It's like a story and you're going through and you're hearing about how to give in business. [39:08.3]
So, The Go-Giver and Never Eat Alone. How can people get in touch with you if they want to learn more about you, potentially work with you and whatever, if they want to send you a cold DM?
Anna: If you want to send me a cold DM, you're most likely to find me on LinkedIn, Anna Kareis, K-A-R-E-I-S, there. And if you want to work with me as your advisor, I mean, granted this is a podcast for advisors so I don’t see that happening, but if this makes it into the wider world, I am Anna.Kareis@AMPF.com.
James: You'd be surprised, what I’ve learned is that for the guests, they find me when they're searching for the guests sometimes. Now, it depends because a financial advisor isn't going to get hundreds of searches per month, but let's say they get five where people are googling. They meet with you and then they say, “I'm on the fence about working with her. Let's google her name,” and your name is going to show up and they're going to listen to this and they’re going to hear that you're personable, that you're nice, that you know what you're doing, that you work with a specific group of people. So, you'd be surprised. You'd be surprised. [40:07.5]
So, financial advisors, I hope you have enjoyed this show as much as I have. This has been really cool, and I'm glad to talk with someone who has switched firms, someone who has a niche market, or at least, has a proof of concept in a niche market. Someone who is engaged. Someone who is both literally and on social media, and soon to be married. That's pretty cool. Yeah, this is going to be a great show for financial advisors.
With that said, I will catch you next week.
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