How am I going to grow my business? Advisors who are struggling with this question usually, deep down, know what the answers are. You have to up your marketing game and get increasingly better results on your marketing spend. You have to be clear on your target audience and develop repeatable processes to reach them via activities such as seminars, digital advertising, radio, and podcasts. You have to generate more referrals by being worth referring. You have to deliver extraordinary service so you retain clients and gain 100% of their investible assets. It’s usually in the details, or too small marketing budgets, where advisors falter. Plunking money into Facebook ads is a lost cost if you don’t know whom you should target. New podcasting equipment isn’t going to generate a single lead if you don’t have a marketing strategy to get your show noticed on iTunes and with your ideal audience. And trying to do “in-house marketing on a shoestring budget” will often fail since you’re not hiring experts who can get much better results than you.
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One positive development I’ve seen lately is that advisors, in general, are happy to share what’s working for them instead of fearing that a competing advisors will take that idea and steal business. And the guests on my podcast are a perfect example of this openness.
David Bach goes a step further. As co-founder of AE Wealth Management, he’s created a massive turnkey platform that connects advisors with coaches, content producers, marketing experts, and other likeminded advisors. In less than 3 years, David’s firm has grown from $0 to over $6 billion in assets under management, and they have over 550 advisors that they are working with. “Instead of being so worried about competition, really we've got a culture where the advisors are coming from places of unlimited abundance,” David says. “Part of being in this club is that you have to be willing to share. These advisors, because they're all willing to share, they also push each other. It's been really amazing.”
David Bach is one of the most well-known names in personal finance and the RIA space. In 2018, AE Wealth Management ranked as the second-fastest-growing RIA in America according to Investment News and Financial Advisor Magazine. David is also an 11-time best-selling author, including 9 New York Times best-selling books that have sold over 7 million copies and been translated into 19 languages. His latest, “The Latte Factor,” is also a huge hit. And on top of all that, David’s massively popular “Smart Women, Smart Retirement” seminars are currently being taught coast to coast by his licensed advisors. On today's show, we do a deep dive on marketing, with a focus on seminars and the kind of storytelling David uses to connect with prospects and grow great businesses.
One of the biggest reasons that David’s firm has generated such massive growth in such a short time is that he’s attracting financial advisors who are really motivated to grow. These advisors have taken a critical first step: they’ve started thinking a little less like a financial advisor and more like the CEO of a fast-growing company.
“The advisor today is becoming a true CEO,” David says. “These advisors are evolving from being an advisor to being a business owner, and then it becomes about leadership skills and building the right team structure. We even have coaches that will fly out to meet with our RIAs and evaluate their teams and tell them candidly if they have the wrong people on their team because ultimately to grow from five to 10 people or 10 to 15, it becomes about leadership and it becomes about the team. It's not just the marketing. Marketing's what brings people in the office, but you've ultimately got to have a really strong team to do everything, to run all of this and to service it all.”
Part of growing into this CEO role will be learning that you can’t do everything yourself, and that the money you invest in top talent pays dividends. Hire the best people. Let them do what they do best. Then hire outside experts when you need specialized expertise. David Bach summed it up really well when I asked him to share one or two key things that financial advisors need to think about if they want to start doing Facebook advertising to drive people to come to their seminars. His response was brilliant, “Hire somebody who specializes in doing Facebook advertising that can help drive people to your seminars.” Do what you do best then outsource the rest. Heck, even Netflix uses Amazon—an arch enemy—to host its streaming services.
Many of us have very personal reasons that drew us to become a financial advisor. Those personal stories should influence how we build our firms. Jack Davis, a financial advisor in Arizona, shared a story with me and in his book, Cash Out Retirement, about how he was summoned home while at a high school football game. As he neared his house, he saw a fire truck in the driveway and his sister weeping on the porch. His father had just died. Fortunately, his dad knew he had health issues so he made sure the family had plenty of life insurance and that cushion enabled Jack, his siblings, and his mom to live comfortably going forward. It was this experience that over time helped propel Jack to become a financial advisor and help other families be prepared for life’s unfair turns.
David’s “Smart Women, Smart Retirement” seminars originated from the lessons that David learned about money from his grandmother and other women who were less fortunate. “My grandmother over her lifetime became a self-made millionaire,” David says. “Wasn't easy for her. She taught her lessons to my Dad, and my Dad became a financial advisor. She helped me buy my first stock at the age of seven. I saw these other women going through widowhood and being wiped out and my mom's best friends getting hurt through divorce. I just felt like something needed to be done, and so this is what I did.”
David tells the full, three-minute version of this “introductory story” at the beginning of his seminars, including a humorous anecdote about what happened when a broker told his grandmother to “come back with your husband” when she wanted to open an account. He tells another story of a widow trying to locate retirement accounts that her husband had scattered across several jobs to illustrate the benefits of consolidation. And “The Latte Factor” is a longform story that explains how making small changes to our spending, saving, and investing habits can compound in a big way. Whether you’re marketing yourself via seminars, email newsletters, podcasts, or videos, this is the kind of storytelling you have to master. Sharing stories builds trust and understanding. It also leads to the client or prospect sharing stories, which you, as the advisor, will use to inform how you construct a financial plan. “That is the exact opposite of what 99% of advisors do,” David says. “They get up on stage and they say, ‘I’m David Blah Blah Blah and I work for XYZ Firm and I manage $1.1 billion and I'm amazing and you would be lucky to work with me.’ They’ve killed off the opportunity to be worked with within the first nine minutes of a presentation.”
Whatever your story is and whomever you want to tell it to, it’s time to get your message out. RIAs who settle for where they are right now are up against a ticking clock as your baby boomer clients start to hit retirement age. Start thinking about what your client base is going to look like in a decade, especially if you’re hoping to grow a company that will go on once you’ve retired.
David Bach still believes that women are an underserved demographic. But he also says that advisors who overlook millennials are making a huge mistake. Young people who feel like they don’t have enough money to work with an advisor are going to take their business to low-fee, low-minimum online platforms like Acorns. And once they do start to gain wealth, they’re going to keep entrusting their money to the platforms they’re used to using. “You can't be sitting here and not have a relationship with your 65-year-old clients' children,” David Bach says. “You can't skip them. If you don't get in front of your Millennial clients now, in 15 years, your book is gone. You need to be sitting down with them even if they don't have money and doing a financial plan. You need to be helping them with their student loans. You need to be talking to them about their 401(k) plan because I am telling you right now, if you don't do this, you're gonna lose these accounts. You either better sell the business before your clients all die, which is in the next 20 years, or you need to be getting the next generation.”
“Education is useless without action,” David Bach says. “The secret to getting people to take action is to give them clarity. It's to show them what a bigger future could look like. I think you need to show people that their future's bigger than their past.” David is talking about clients and prospects, but the same is true of advisors. You know what you need to do. Now take the necessary steps to do it.
Some ideas to get you started:
1. David is prepping a big media campaign for his new book. If you go to https://www.thelattefactor.com/ and sign up for his newsletter, you’ll be put into his marketing funnel. Study the emails he sends you, what he’s asking you to click on, the sequence of the emails, and the emotional connection he’s making with you. Look for ideas that you can incorporate into your own marketing.
2. Sometimes we need to get back to basics and remind ourselves why we became advisors in the first place. My Values Clarification Toolkit has some exercises that might help you find a powerful “introductory story” of your own.
3. My previous conversation with David Bach has some great tips on content creation, specifically book writing. If you have big ideas on finance that you think would make for a good book, listen to David’s advice on why you should – or shouldn’t – get cracking.
AE Wealth Management Visit David Bach and his team online.
www.davidbach.com David Bach's personal website is a comprehensive resource for more of his writing and thinking.
"The Latte Factor" You can preorder David Bach's latest book ahead of its May release.
"Billion Dollar Whale" by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope David Bach says this book about a massive global fraud scheme "is like reading a Grisham novel, only it's true."
"The Alter Ego Effect" by Todd Herman David Bach recommends this book about "the idea of having an alter ego that you put on in a way to really eliminate your fear so that you can do something that you don't think you can do."
"Thirst' by Scott Harrison David Bach says, "You wouldn't think you could read a book about the creation of a charity that you couldn't put down, but you read this book and you can't put it down and then you want to go and do more with your life."
The ROL Index A tool Mitch Anthony and I developed to help advisors measure their clients' well-being in 10 aspects of life.
Values Clarification Toolkit Click here to download this FREE tool and start living your values.
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