In a Nutshell: There’s no “silver bullet” marketing strategy that’s going to turn your blogs and tweets into clients. But if you identify a niche and develop a consistent media presence that’s appealing and engaging, you can reach your ideal clients where they’re more likely to see and hear you.
Guest: Wes Moss, the chief investment strategist of Capital Investment Advisors, which is a multibillion-dollar RIA in Atlanta. Wes has been ranked as a top 100 independent advisor by Barron’s. He’s also the host of Money Matters, which is Atlanta’s longest running live call-in radio show on investment and personal finance, a regular contributor to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the author of three books.
My Key Takeaway: To build your media presence:
- Get writing. Wes and I both believe that writing is the key to finding your voice and starting to create stellar content.
- Re-purpose. Break down a good newsletter into a week’s worth of social media posts. Turn audio from your webinar into a podcast. Use the intro from your last blog as a script for a 2-3 minute YouTube video.
- Automate and delegate. If you can use AI or a team of assistants to handle basic communication tasks you’ll have more time to write, record, and get personal with clients.
- Why the ability to self-publish media gives independent advisors an advantage over larger firms when trying to reach people.
- What advisors should know about trying to break into radio versus trying to start a podcast.
- How Wes answers the question, “I’m your client. What is the value that you provide to me?”
- What Wes’ experience as a contestant on “The Apprentice” (back when President Trump was the host) taught him about succeeding in marketing and media.
Complementary Episode: My conversation with Wes’ colleague Matt Reiner, in which we discussed how to leverage AI so that you and your team have more time to focus on building relationships with your clients. Listen/read here.
Resources Featured In This Episode
Finding Your Voice Wes and I discussed this 3-step process for making your communication more distinct and valuable.
Values Clarification Toolkit Click here to download this FREE tool and start living your values.
Steve Sanduski: There are a few financial advisors who have broken out and done a fantastic job creating a media presence. And then they’ve used this media presence to create a brand and build their business. And today’s guests, Wes Moss, is one of those advisors. Wes is the chief investment strategist of Capital Investment Advisors, which is a multibillion dollar RIA out of Atlanta, Georgia. And in addition, he’s been ranked as a top 100 independent advisor by Barron’s. And from a media standpoint, he’s the host of Money Matters, which is Atlanta’s longest running live call in investment and personal finance radio show. He’s also a regular contributor to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, both in their online and print form. And he’s the author of several books. Wes and I do a deep dive in how to build your media presence. So please enjoy my conversation with Wes Moss.
Wes, welcome to the show.
Wes Moss: Thank you, Steve, for having me.
Steve Sanduski: Well, it’s great to have you here. And we were just talking here before we hit the record button that I feel like I’m kind of going through your firm because I’ve had Mitch Reiner on before. I’ve had Matt Ryan around before. Now I have you and you kind of got a couple different businesses going there.
Wes Moss: Right, we all do. To some extent, we have different roles, but we are partners together.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. So, why don’t you tell me a little bit about the firm? What is the firm that you have here today?
Wes Moss: I guess it’s kind of fun to talk about the firm because it’s my baby and my life and I was just talking about it here at the Barron’s Conference. And really the way we think about it, we are about, when I started, I was in the wirehouse world for a decade and really wanted to go independent and go to an IRA. And originally, I partnered up with a gentleman who was a CPA and a gentleman who’s a financial advisor. And when we merged together, they had had an RIA already started kind of up and running, and I had a decent business going at UBS and merged together as partners. And at the time, we had seven eight people and 300 million.
Today, we have approximately $3 billion and we’re about 38 folks at Capital, mostly in Atlanta, we have a small office in Tampa, small office in Denver. And we also share some common ownership with a CPA firm. And we have an estate planning firm and a healthcare consulting firm that’s really part of our headquarters and actually leased space from us over a long term basis. And a private equity firm. In addition to one of my other partners, Matt, who runs a financial software company for Financial Advisors, called Benjamin.
So there’s a lot to do, a lot of different companies to run. Really primarily, our asset management firm, we’ve got about 2800 clients so we’re very much Millionaire Next Door is our client base. We’re actually from, let’s call it the headquarters of the Millionaire Next. Thomas Stanley, the late author, the late great author who wrote the Millionaire Next Door is from Atlanta. He lived a mile from where our office is. Every financial visor listing knows the Millionaire Next Door. Atlanta is a hotbed for Millionaire Next Door type clients. They’re great clients. They’re conservative, down to earth for the most part, frugal though, and that’s part of the reason I actually gave a talk today here at Barron’s on fighting fee compression because I feel like we’ve been fighting fee compression all our lives.
We’re in the hotbed of it, and it’s a topic from an industry standpoint, I’m speaking to our industry about communicating our value better to our clients because in a lot of cases, even though fees have come down, I feel like the financial advisor become the core for so many, the quarterback of so many relationships. Yes, asset management, there’s all these other things I just mentioned.
To some extent, we’re not charging enough. And I think that we need to believe and recommunicate our value to our clients within our own firms to get better at talking about that so that we don’t get hit by fee compression. I talked about today maybe we even raise our prices a little.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. Well, you gave me a lot of threads to pull on so I took some notes here so we’re definitely going to go through some of those. So tell me about your role today. So, what is your role in the firm? What is it that you’re doing on a daily basis?
Wes Moss: One other partner and I we’re the managing partners of the firm, so we run the firm, day to day operations. My lean or my bent is the marketing side. The business development, growth, marketing, would be my primary role as the managing partner at our firm.
Steve Sanduski: Okay. So let’s dig into that. You have a huge media presence. You’ve written a book, you’re all over social media. I think you have a radio show that you do. So, let’s start there. How did you get started in developing this media presence?
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Wes Moss: Our industry makes it pretty tough. I was with the wirehouses for the first decade almost, and they don’t want advisors to do a lot of media. And it makes sense in retrospect. I remember being so frustrated with that. But if you really think about it now that I have a firm with what’s called almost 40 folks, I get it. And they had multitudes of what I’m dealing with now, but they’ve got 3000 advisors, 10,000 advisors, 15,000. And just compliance, you have to have a handle on what people are out there saying. 99% of advisors would be responsible and know what you can say and not say but it’s the 1% that can get firms in trouble so they have to be very stringent. So it was really hard to get started. My entree to the media world really just opened my eyes but also gave me a catalyst to get started. And I don’t usually talk about this and I don’t have this in my bio but I got started. I was actually on The Apprentice with our current president of the United States in 2004.
Steve Sanduski: Do I need to turn the record off here so we can get the real story? Hit pause for a minute. Hit pause.
Wes Moss: That was a huge eyeopener.
Steve Sanduski: I’m secretly keeping the record button on here.
Wes Moss: This was a long time ago. I was in my 20s, more than 15 years ago now. It was 04, so 16 years ago. And Mark Burnett was a big deal, The Survivor and then he did The Apprentice with now President Trump. And just opening my eyes, it was NBC must see TV on Thursday night. And going up and dealing with Mark Burnett and his production team as one of the candidates to be on the show, and then with Trump, it really opened my eyes. I couldn’t even have told you what public relations was. If you asked me hey, what’s PR? I wouldn’t even have known it stood for public relations.
Steve Sanduski: So I had another advisor that I know who was also on The Apprentice, and he told us about the audition tape that he sent in and he actually showed us the audition tape that he sent in. And immediately the folks from The Apprentice call him back. He gets on the show and he lasted I think maybe two or three episodes and got a little sideways with now President Trump. Did you have any kind of similar experience on there? Did you have to send an audition tape or how did that work?
Wes Moss: They came to Atlanta. This was when the first season was going. I just remember so vividly watching the Superbowl, and this would have been in 04, and there was an ad for the apprentice during the Superbowl right after. And then the show started within a week, and it was must see TV that first season. And while that was going on, I think midway through the show, they were doing auditions for the next one. And it was a big line. And yes, I eventually wiggled my way in to an interview, and ultimately, and I had to do recordings, I did send in a tape, and then I got in line and then I ended up meeting with them and I hit it off with a couple different producers. And I got on the show.
Steve Sanduski: Okay. So how long did you last?
Wes Moss: I was there for 11 TV weeks.
Steve Sanduski: I’m sure I saw you because I was watching the show back in the early years. A lot younger.
Wes Moss: May not even recognize me. But it was a fair amount of TV weeks. I didn’t win. But I was there long enough to end up having a lot of interactions. A, with Donald Trump and then with a lot of the candidates. And some of those became really good friends. And one of my best friends from the show ended up, he got fired right after me. We were there towards the end. He actually worked for Donald for seven years.
Steve Sanduski: So was that Bill Rancic? Was he the winner that year?
Wes Moss: No, this is Andy Dean, who ended up doing radio and I helped him get into the radio business. But Andy Dean, at the time, Andy Litinsky, his middle name is Dean, he goes by Andy Dean now, worked for Donald Trump for about seven years after the show. To some extent that show, it was really more you get the prize. It was a quarter of a million dollar salary to go work for Trump. Real life, you got a quarter of a million bucks. And I don’t know how many of the people that won the show actually really worked for Trump in the end. I know some of them did for a little while. Andy was the only person I know in all the seasons, in the 100 some people that went through it, that ended up getting a job from Donald and really working there.
Steve Sanduski: So, what did you learn from that show? When it comes to marketing from theater, you said this really opened up your eyes. What was the aha moment there?
Wes Moss: The aha moment, first of all, just to be introduced to the media, period. What’s PR, what’s public relations? How can the media in some way, to some extent it’s like a flame thrower, and reality TV is a big flame thrower because you can use it and you can, I guess do what you wanted to do. But it is also very dangerous. And reality television is very dangerous, particularly today and even at the time, several of the folks that were on the show together ended up getting fired from their real jobs because it didn’t go well on national television. And people then I think took the show that was on television whatever came out from the footage very seriously whereas today I think you take it a little less seriously because you know it’s a show. Then it was like this is what happened, they obviously said that. When the context might have been off, and then people got fired. A lot of people got divorced after the show because they were so caught up with going to Hollywood.
And what I learned from Trump just a, being exposed to it, is how he was able to leverage it and communicate whatever his unique value proposition was. For him, it’s development, it’s high end properties, it’s his brand or style of real estate really, and that’s what he ultimately ended up advertising. With The Apprentice, he did in a very creative way. But I learned that is a possibility in any industry. Before that, I just had no idea.
Steve Sanduski: So then how did you translate that? How’d you take that back home and said, okay, gosh, I just learned some cool things here. Now I’m going to apply this as a financial adviser, or did it take some time afterwards before you were actually able to do that.
Wes Moss: I was so excited about being able to figure out a way to leverage media that I immediately started working on it and I did a book called Starting from Scratch where I went around and I interviewed entrepreneurs that started with not a lot of money. It always was a big leap for me to see the mega billionaire who started with a lot of money, and now they’re a billionaires and they’re just so stratospherically far away from relatability. Ted Turner, Warren Buffett, Donald Trump, that I wanted to try to find stories that were, hey, I started from scratch, and that’s what the title of the book was, Starting from Scratch: Secrets from 21 People who Made the Entrepreneurial Leap.
And that book, I got a publisher, which was not, that was a leap of faith. People liked the book to some extent, wasn’t a New York Times bestseller, but it actually moved some copies, it started to get me speaking events. And then I use the book as a door opener because I was still in my 20s at the time, and I really wanted to do financial radio. And at the time, it was still a little bit like, who are you? Yeah, you were on The Apprentice. We’re not going to let you do financial media but it became a good door opener and I ended up going around to all the radio stations and the book helped me get in the door. And then I got into financial radio, and now I’ve been doing that for 13 plus years.
Steve Sanduski: Okay, so tell me how the financial radio works. Oftentimes, I hear that there’s a lot of advisors that are on the radio, but basically, they’re paying their way to be on. They have to advertise a certain amount, and then they’ll give them a 30 minute time slot or something like that. Is that how it works with you or are you such a celeb that they’re like, hey, you’re a personality in your own right and you’ll be able to drive listeners so you don’t need to pay for advertising.
Wes Moss: A lot of financial radio certainly is, some of it is just straight up block programming. And I’d say a lot of radio that you’ll hear for financial advisors is, and it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily ineffective, but it is paid programming. I am very fortunate to be on the programming side, which has been helpful, but also, it comes with some strings attached, meaning that I don’t overtly advertise my firm when I do that, when I’m doing financial radio. I’m really there part of the programming team. And then I do news reports for them every day. So it’s actually a part time job.
Steve Sanduski: Okay. Now explain to me what that means. You got block radio, and then you said you’re on the programming side.
Wes Moss: Yeah, I’m one of the hosts for the station. I’m just one of the hosts. They would say you’re one of the personalities here and it’s not like I’m some big personality because, yeah, I’m doing a money show, it’s not that interesting. We had former presidential candidate, Herman Cain did a show on-
Steve Sanduski: He used to run Godfather’s.
Wes Moss: Yes, he did. Godfather’s Pizza.
Steve Sanduski: Godfather’s Pizza. Yes.
Wes Moss: You remember that?.
Steve Sanduski: I grew up in Omaha where Godfather’s was founded.
Wes Moss: That’s where it is? I didn’t realize it was Midwest.
Steve Sanduski: Founded in Omaha, Willie Theisen.
Wes Moss: Godfather’s Pizza to presidential candidate to radio host on my station. And I got to know Herman Cain. It was on the programming side. I’m going to do some advertising no matter what. So I do do some advertising on that same station, but I also do advertising on other stations. So I’m a big believer in multiple forms of media. I’m I think very lucky to be on the programming side of a news talk station and be part of the team. And that’s not necessarily that easy to break into but that is something that I started like 13 years ago.
Steve Sanduski: So is this a morning drive show or is it specifically a financial show and you’re one of two or three hosts of the show?
Wes Moss: No, it’s just me. And it is a live call in show that the station has actually run for now 27 years. And I’ve been doing it now, I’m in my 11th or I guess maybe starting my 12th year. I did another station a couple years before that. So, I did two years before I went to my current station.
Steve Sanduski: What’s the name of the show?
Wes Moss: It’s Money Matters with West Moss. But it was Money Matters before that. And the host was a certified financial planner, and he didn’t even work for another firm. He was just on the news, CFP, but he was also a news guy and he loved it. And he ultimately ended up becoming part of the financial planning industry as well. But he unfortunately passed away. He was in his 50s and had done it for a long time, and then that’s when they had a couple month hiatus and then they hired me to do that show. I had left the wirehouse, going independent all at the same times.
Steve Sanduski: So, some people would say, radio is so yesterday, we have podcasts now, which is like on-demand radio. So, tell me about what radio was like when you started and what it is today? Is it still a great medium for advisors or for you?
Wes Moss: Very important question because there’s misunderstanding even in my own radio station. I remember six or seven years ago, and maybe it was a little longer than that, when I started to, I would just do the show and then record it and then they just cut it up as a podcast. Basically cut out the commercials and the news, the weather traffic, and then just have the show. I didn’t think anybody would ever listen to it. If you’re in the car and you’re already listening to this radio station through the week, you leave the station on. You’re going to church on Sunday mornings, people automatically listen, right?
Well, I remember my program director saying like, “Yeah, look, even Herman Cain gets 10 listens a month on podcasts. It’s just not a thing, Wes, don’t even worry about it.” I remember asking, “Hey, do you the numbers of how many people listen to the podcast?” Because they controlled it. And I remember he was like, “Look, we don’t even pull the numbers because nobody gets any numbers.” And it’s funny because what’s happened over the last call it decade or the last maybe five years, I think this has been, for every drop in listener on terrestrial, we’ve picked up one and a half listeners via podcast. So the overall audience for the show has actually grown. But it took a while for the station to also get behind the podcast. They can’t monetize them as well as they can do the terrestrial so they’re not as motivated but I think they finally coalesced, this is just the way the world’s going, we have to at least accept it.
Two things. One, as general radio listenership certainly has declined because you have so many other choices and podcasts, podcasts have really climbed. And my podcast numbers are, again, it’s kind of interesting to see how many people actually listen to it via podcast because it’s more convenient, of course, that’s why you listen to these. And then another phenomenon that has resurged radio in general is, I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, do you have a guess?
Steve Sanduski: For terrestrial radio?
Wes Moss: Yeah, why is terrestrial radio actually on the climb?
Steve Sanduski: I don’t know.
Wes Moss: Ironically, Amazon’s putting everybody else out of business it’s actually helped terrestrial radio because of Alexa. Alexa has replaced the old school radio that most of us used to have in our home and we used to listen to it. When it was AM, the signal was pretty good in the house. We switched to FM many years ago and it’s not as good in house. Well, guess what? Now there are 70 million smart speakers in America. And those are basically radios now. Alexa, play West Moss Money Matters. Boom, podcast comes on. Or Alexa, play WSP Radio, station comes on. So Alexa now has helped, smart speakers, Google Home, Alexa has actually started to increase radio listenership because it’s coming back into the home.
Steve Sanduski: That’s very interesting because my podcast, Between Now and Success, you can access it through Alexa. So you can say, Alexa, play Between Now and Success. And then I’ve actually played some radio stations. So yeah, I hadn’t really realized and made the connection there that that could help terrestrial radio.
Wes Moss: Amazon had no idea it would be the thing. Radio didn’t know. If you asked them seven years ago, they would have never thought in a million years that Amazon was going to help them grow their audience.
Steve Sanduski: But can they monetize it? Can the radio station monetize it going through Alexa? Or is it all going into Amazon’s coffers?
Wes Moss: Well again, it’s broadening out the listenership and radio still old school, more people, better advertising dollars.
Steve Sanduski: Interesting. Okay. So this is a live call in show. So you’re recording it “live.” And then is it played live or-
Wes Moss: It’s live live.
Steve Sanduski: Live live.
Wes Moss: There’s no recording of it except for I record it for the podcast.
Steve Sanduski: So then how do you get people to call in? How do you get that engagement from listeners? Is there ever an issue where we don’t have enough people calling in? Wes, you got to stretch this out.
Wes Moss: Fortunately, we have, WSP has been around since the 1920s. They’re still and I’m on during church. And there happens to be a fair amount of people in the car listening. When I say, hey, give us a call, and I’ve been doing this now for way over a decade, yeah, people call in.
Steve Sanduski: Okay. And then are you getting many clients? If you’re getting people that are saying, hey, Wes, I want to come talk to you, are the kind of the clients that you want or how do you deal with if someone calls in and they’re really not an ideal client, how do you deal with that?
Wes Moss: Yes, and no. And that is, again, part of the evolution of our firm from a marketing perspective. The more you do marketing, the better you have to try to funnel because it can take up time. Clients that are real potential clients good fits or not. And one thing radio I think will do, and I don’t know, maybe this is a phenomenon 10 years ago, is that we did get a fair amount of traction, but it was a lot of smaller account type transactions. Or not transactions, but folks that said, hey, I have $50,000, I need help, or I have $150,000, I need help. That is obviously not our ideal client. And for most advisors, it’s hard to make a living.
We then 10 years ago before, really actually before Betterment or Wealthfront, we started a robo advisor firm that’s ETF only, because what we were doing, we were sending all those accounts to Vanguard. We’d meet with the people, take an hour and say, hey, you should just go do this at Vanguard. Ultimately, what we decided to do is say, well, at least these people still want help. They really don’t want to go do it themselves or else they probably wouldn’t have called. So, instead of then just sending people to another do it yourself solution, we started a robo advice firm, and around the same time, Betterment got traction, Wealthfront. We never raised a bunch of VC capital to blow it up and do a lot of advertising like Betterment did. But we have very much a growing concern in a company called Wela. It was a very early ETF only, ETF strategy for smaller accounts, and we still have that running to this day.
Steve Sanduski: And so, the leads that you get from the radio show, some of them might be a fit for your regular traditional but maybe not a lot. But then most of the others that come in, you’re going to put into Wela?
Wes Moss: Right. Wela. I think there’s a shampoo called Wela as well.
Steve Sanduski: Wela as well, there you go.
Wes Moss: But W-E-L-A, Wela Strategies is the asset management company that is for, call it the emerging affluent, not ultra high net worth. Exactly, so that’s worked out well.
Steve Sanduski: So what I like about that is you’ve really thought about the business model. So we’ve got the traditional IRA, it’s got a brand. We don’t really want to dilute that with these other smaller situations that aren’t quite a fit. So you create a separate brand essentially. Is Wela a separate brand or is it just a little separate?
Wes Moss: Totally separate, totally separate. Own branding own, it’s a totally separate company. And I think the other thing, and this is for any media, and I’m sure your listeners know Gary Vaynerchuk, Gary Vee, who will tell you about his massive amount of social media, and he’ll tell you that you’ve got, if you’re going to do LinkedIn or you’re going to do YouTube, or you’re going to do anything that’s video, you’ve got to do hundreds and hundreds of videos to get any traction. It does work but it takes so much content to rise to the top to figure out what people really like.
Radio is similar to that. You’ve got to do it for a long time. You can do a radio show for a year and get zero leads. And I’ve actually tested this out in other markets and partially, you got to connect with your local audience. I think it’s hard just to, I know there’s some folks that do these national shows. Ric Edelman does a national show, there’s several national shows. But I’ve found that part of it is connecting with your local audience, and it just takes time. It takes longevity So that people get to know you. And I remember in the very beginning, I was basically now taking over hosting for a show for someone who’d belovedly done it for a lot of years. People didn’t even like me in the beginning. And I remember getting emails, I really miss the old host. I don’t really like the way you talk on the radio. Got some kind of nasty emails in the early years. And then eventually people get used to you.
How many times have you heard a new host or new, and then you kind of got used to it. I don’t like them. I don’t mind them. And then, oh, I like them. And it just takes some persistence and longevity in the, radio is by no means a magic bullet. But eventually, if you think of it as a marathon, it’s not maybe a marathons, it’s more like the Iditarod. If you’re doing it a long time, it can start to gain some traction.
Steve Sanduski: If somebody is thinking today, well, maybe I should do a radio show, maybe I should do a podcast, I think technically, you could do both because you could take your radio show and make that a podcast as well. What advice do you give? Would you say yeah, do both or would you say no, maybe do one or the other or what do you think?
Wes Moss: In the world that we live in today, to some extent, radio is still pretty hard to break into and to just go knock on the door of a radio station and say, hey, I want to go do a show, it will be a lot of money. There’s a big quid pro quo that they’re going to ask for, and they’re going to say, look, you’re going to get a not a great time slot and it might cost a lot of money. If I was starting over again, now knowing the podcast numbers of what has happened, and part of that is because of radio that’s helped grow it, I would absolutely start out in the podcast route and start growing that audience. I know a couple advisors, I know advisors around the country that have just done podcasting and no radio. And they’ve done phenomenally well. But again, they’ve done it for a lot of time.
Steve Sanduski: And then if someone says, hey, yeah, I love the idea of doing a podcast, what’s your advice in terms of should we have a very narrow target for that podcast? Should it be more general? Because a podcast can go anywhere, of course. But ultimately, you don’t want to just educate the public for free, you ultimately want to bring in some new potential ideal clients as a result of this. What are your thoughts on targeted podcast or what?
Wes Moss: Absolutely niche. There are a million plus podcasts. You have to carve out a niche and approach any topic, whether it’s a dating show or a financial show with some sort of unique story, a niche. Because if you go in and it’s very just general, I just don’t see how anybody competes. You got to have a niche, you’ve got to have a very specific story that you tell. Otherwise, it’s just too much media that crowds everything else out. Never been easier to get into media. It’s never been harder to succeed in media because the walls and the barriers to entry have totally collapsed.
Steve Sanduski: So you’ve got the radio show, you’ve got the podcast, you’ve written I think at least two books.
Wes Moss: Three books. I’ll count them as really 2.1 because the second book was an absolute failure. I’ll give that like a .1 as a book. I’m working on my fourth book right now in 2020.
Steve Sanduski: So as you think about an advisor that may want to build their business through a media presence and they’re just getting started, what would you say are maybe some of the initial steps, some of the strategy that they should be thinking about in terms of, hey, I want to be the next Wes Moss or I want to be the next Ric Edelman or I want to be, I don’t want to be the next them, I want to be the unique me.
Wes Moss: Version of, exactly.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. I want to have a presence like those folks have, but I want to do it in my unique personality. What is the strategy that you would recommend someone really go through to start breaking into that?
Wes Moss: Very simple answer here. Writing. It is all about writing because writing starts with forcing you to come up and find your voice and start writing about something that you care about. And one of the things we actually, now that we have a marketing team, the way we look at this is that it takes, it’s a yeoman’s job to come up with a good article or good content. But then we want to be able to, if you write it, then you can very easily create all the other mediums. Starts with the writing. Write a good article, good topic, then you can easily do radio, easily do podcasts, easily do a video, easily post about it, maybe break it up and post it on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wolf Messenger, I don’t know if anybody got that joke, but any sort of social media on the planet. But it all starts with writing. And writing forces us, it’s like working out, it’s like exercising your brain and your media voice. It starts with creating the content, which is always pen to paper.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. No, I love that I am totally partial to writing even though I have a podcast. I’ve written some books and do a lot of blogging so I love that idea. And in fact, just as we’re recording this, I had just written an article about finding your voice when it comes to writing. And so, don’t just write this generic stuff, like everyone’s talking about the Secure Act, which is important. But what’s your personality, and how do you just go beyond, well, these are the new changes in the Secure Act that makes somebody want to read? Because they could just google Secure Act, and boom, there’s a million of them.
So one of the things I recommended in my email letter that I send out in finding your voice is come up with three adjectives. And that simply means is as you think about your personality, what makes you unique, just write down some adjectives that would describe that. Now, kind of do a brain dump, come up with five, 10, 15, however many.
Wes Moss: Adjectives that describe your voice?
Steve Sanduski: That describes my voice. Maybe I’m quirky, I’m anal, I’m energetic, I’m over the top, whatever those adjectives are. So start putting those down, and then narrow it down to maybe three or four.
Wes Moss: And stick to that.
Steve Sanduski: And then and then a step two is, go to your spouse or partner or someone else who knows you really well, and ask them to come up with the adjectives about you. So they have another person’s opinion like Wes, here’s what I would describe you as, and then you describe yourself. And then let’s compare notes and let’s see if how I think of myself.
Wes Moss: I’m not sure if I want to ask my wife about what my writing personality is.
Steve Sanduski: So that way you can see here’s what I think I am and here’s what a person who knows me really well perceives me. And hopefully, the two are fairly close.
Wes Moss: That’s awesome. I can imagine myself writing that I’m funny, energetic, and her saying not funny.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah, exactly.
Wes Moss: I will say this, what a cool, where can our listeners find this article, Steve? Your listeners.
Steve Sanduski: My listeners, yeah.
Wes Moss: I want to read this article, what a good idea.
Steve Sanduski: So go to the website, stevesandusky.com. That’s spelled S-T-E-V-E-S-A-N-D-U-S-K-I.com. And then right on the homepage, it’ll say start here so you can start up for my weekly letter. So each week I send out an email letter to advisor, so kind of my private thoughts. So that article originated in that just to my-
Wes Moss: And it’s called finding your voice?
Steve Sanduski: Finding your voice is that one, yeah. And I think that one I’m going to actually publish on my blog. By the time you’re listening to this, you’ll likely be able to see it on my blog.
Wes Moss: What a good idea. I’m going to do that. That’s a really good idea. And here’s the thing, I’ve been writing now for way over a decade, you can always keep getting better. And I’ve never done that exercise but I think that’s an awesome idea.
Steve Sanduski: You’re right, in terms of getting the voice, there’s so much noise out there, and you’ve got to have a personality. So, Wes Moss has a personality, Ric Edelman has a personality, Joe Duran has a personality. So, you start feeling like I’m connected to these folks, I’m engaged to them because I can feel their personality coming through as opposed to just some dry bland stuff. So, I think that’s a critical piece as people start thinking about the media is how can I become a little celebrity, a real personality that people want to actually engage?
Wes Moss: And there’s so many different levels of that word celebrity. How many true celebrities from the definition that we think of, like the Brad Pitt, how many Brad Pitts are there in the world and how many Angelina Jolies are there? There’s like a couple hundred in the on the planet. And then everybody else is basically a D list celebrity. But you can use, I don’t know if that’s always the right word, but just a notoriety and being well known to do something individually.
My son The other day I remember doing a talk and he goes, “How did the talk go?” He said, “Did anybody ask for your autograph?” And I give out books in the end a lot of these talks and people come up and I sign them and I was like, “well, I signed like 50 bucks.” And he was like, “Does that count as an autograph?” I was like, “Well, kind of, yeah. People say can you sign it?” And he’s like, “So are you kind of a celebrity?” And I was like, “Well, not really.” He’s like, “Yeah, you’re definitely not a celebrity.” My wife will say you’re a D-list celebrity. Celebrity I don’t know if it’s the word. It’s an interesting concept, but really, the word celebrity is really just about you defining a niche and being well known in your particular area. I think it is valuable, and that’s going back to the Trump thing. Who uses that better than the president?
Steve Sanduski: So, for advisors, I think it’s about being a little bit famous and being known for something. So if you write a book, like friend of mine, an advisor, he wrote a book and had a big client event, and afterwards he says, hey, I’m going to be out in the back and I’d love for anybody that doesn’t already have a copy of the book, I’d love to give you a free copy. He had a line of 50 people waiting for him to sign his book.
Wes Moss: Welcome to America. You can get a group of millionaires in a room and they’re still psyched about a free T-shirt and a free book that cost like five bucks.
Steve Sanduski: Exactly. Yeah. So I think this idea of finding your voice, of having your niche and having an angle, having a take, having a perspective, having an opinion, I think is important. If you’re just right in the middle all the time, it’s like, well, why do I want to read you? Why do I want to pay attention to you if you’re not taking an opinion on something?
Wes Moss: The tough part too I think in half of our industry is still wirehouse. And I know that a lot of your listeners are more independent. I was forced to go independent. I always wanted to do it and I was on that track I think from the very beginning when I first got out of college, I knew I wanted my own firm. But you got to start somewhere and I was in the big wirehouse. So the reality here is that I think that over the next decade, the independent advisor, the independent broker dealer, the independent RIA really does have some leeway to actually have a voice. If a wirehouse genericizes everything you have to say and do, I don’t know how you get any traction.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. I had that exact conversation earlier today with a wirehouse advisor about how it’s difficult. They’re very limited in what they can say. So that’s right.
Wes Moss: I’d say legitimately it is not difficult, it’s impossible.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah. So we’re talking about the media piece, we’re talking about starting with Writing, which I think is fantastic. Anything else you want to add on the media piece before we do touch on the fee compression? I know it’s a different topic but you just were speaking on that so I want to go there too. But anything else on the media piece that you would recommend advise folks?
Wes Moss: Absolutely a web. It is never one thing, there’s no silver bullet. We try to quantify where we get our leads from. So we’ll put down AJC column that I write frequently a couple times a month. Radio. Did you find me on YouTube, LinkedIn? All the different medias that were out there. Social media. And the reality is that it is in the world we live in, and this is kind of, maybe this is just marketing 101, so it’s no different for the financial advisor committee, it’s all the above. It’s an absolute web of ways to reach people because we all know it takes multiple impressions before people will ever get to know you.
Steve Sanduski: So, some people would say, well, just pick one or two types of media. Don’t try and be an expert or post everywhere. Are you suggesting YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or what would you suggest?
Wes Moss: It’s repurposing of content.
Steve Sanduski: So it’s taking the same piece of content.
Wes Moss: Yeah, absolutely. None of us have time to have totally unique content for all these different medias. You got to have your voice and you got to cut it up and put it on all those. Now, they can be tweaked each area, but you’ve got to be able to reuse the content.
Steve Sanduski: Okay. So, you just gave a talk this morning. Tell me what the talk was about.
Wes Moss: Fighting fee compression. Probably should have titled it, as a financial advisor, how you can even raise your income over the next decade as opposed to fighting fee compression, it’s really about delivering value. It’s about adding more value than we’ve ever added to our client relationships or our families and articulating that value, which is relatively an intangible. If you think about the price, broker wars have been about price. Price is an easy target. Schwab goes to zero because price is an easy target. From 10 down to nine down to five down to zero. Performance sometimes is an easy target. What is a hard target to chip away at but also hard to articulate in a tangible way is what is the value you provide to me as a financial advisor?
Steve Sanduski: I’m going to ask you that, Wes. I’m your client? What’s the value that you provide to me? How do you respond to that?
Wes Moss: Well, first of all, it’s a massive value. It’s way beyond the asset management piece of the equation. That in itself is a tremendous value because most advisors should be able to, we’re not in the beat the market game, we’re in a solve for a goal game, which involves returns and good returns. But the reality is that we know the individual investor typically makes poor decisions and ends up never even beating inflation. So our job as advisors on the asset management side is to make sure that the investor is getting better results than they would on their own. Now, that’s most of the world we live in.
Now, in the next decade, we have got to be able to not just know a CPA to refer to or know an estate planner. I think that the firms of the future will actually have all of that integrated together. And it’s not enough to know a CPA, I think you need to have a CPA, whether it’s a tangential firm that you have ownership in or on your same floor in your same building, or an estate planning firm or healthcare, consulting. It’s obviously difficult to have, maybe even a travel agency. There are so many other pieces of the equation to integrate that now we look at our suite of things that we help you with. And if you’re an advisor to this podcast, you think, oh, here are all the different things I helped somebody with a job proposal the other day, I helped somebody save on taxes the other day, I helped somebody finance a new house the other day. I helped somebody lower their healthcare costs, kept their adjusted gross income under certain mounts of their Obamacare was free.
We do these things all the time but they’re so individual. How well do we articulate the tangible value to the end client? And we got to start doing a better job of that.
Steve Sanduski: So how do you do that? Do you every six months you send them a letter that says, hey, just a reminder, here’s all the things we did over the past six months, or how do you actually take the intangible service of an advisor and make it tangible? Because I’ve had advisors who say, clients have challenged me, it’s like, I’m not feeling the value here. How do you physically tangibly communicate that?
Wes Moss: First of all, let’s go back to writing. Writing is the magic elixir for so many things. How do you stay in front of your clients? Are you writing handwritten notes to everybody? Are you publishing timely topics and sending them directly? This is kind of part of the, I think about financial technology now, I think about our financial technology company, Benjamin. We’ve been able with that software do what looked like personalized text messages directly to client cell phones with links, messages, notes. And the digital part of that actually can respond back to the client so it’s all automated.
So imagine you’re communicating with your clients better than you’ve ever done before and you’re not even doing the work. That is a way to leverage and stay in front of your clients. And I think that is a way that technology doesn’t take our jobs, but it actually makes us better at what we do. We’re just in the industry where I think we’re still new at adopting that. My partner, Matt Reiner runs Benjamin, which is a software company that that does that for advisors. They’ve started to get a lot of traction on that because it’s a way to help the advisor communicate better with clients, and then automate a lot of the tasks that the advisor spends time on.
Think about you doing a portfolio review, how much time it takes to run all your reports and go through. What if you set it up in a technological way where Benjamin says, hey, you got an appointment tomorrow, here are all the reports that you’ll be running anyway. What did that just save you? I don’t know, 10 minutes, 15, 20, 30 minutes. What if you do that five times a week? Now you’ve just saved three and a half hours.
Steve Sanduski: Multiplied by the number of clients.
Wes Moss: The number of weeks. Now, what are you going to do with that time? What are you going to do? I’m going to write, I’m going to do a note. I’m going to do something that I can better communicate with our clients because that’s what they want. They want us to be engaged with them. So technology needs to start automating more of what we do, free up more time to get back to the relationship which is really why the better the relationship, the less you’re going to ever have to worry about fee compression. And in the future, we might actually be able to start raising our fees because I believe we’ve kind of hit this nadir. I think our financial advisory fee should bottom out and maybe even start going up.
Steve Sanduski: So we did a podcast with Matt. So we talked about AI, we talked about Benjamin, so we’ll have that in the show notes. But a lot of advisors are talking to me about, we’ve got to have deep relationships with our clients. Now, of course, on the other side of our mouths, we’re saying we’ve got to scale our business. So how do you reconcile, I want to have great deep relationships with my clients where I’m spending some human time with, oh, and I want to scale my business. I got some thoughts, I’d love to get your thoughts on that.
Wes Moss: It’s a difficult proposition. I think the answer is automating away non-relationship building, non-human facing activities. And whether we have a better email system that helps us prospect in a more efficient way or a communication system that takes care of more administrative items. Benjamin just texted me that my money was deposited. Well, do you call your client and say money came and do you email them?
What if we just start automating a lot of the lesser important tasks that you had, what if you just freed up two hours a week times 50 weeks as 100 hours. Imagine what you can do with 100 hours? How many handwritten notes are you going to write? How many 15 minute phone calls are you going to have? Hey, just checking in with you, saw an article that this is related to your core pursuit in life, I thought you might be interested in it. Just imagine that leverage. So I think that it’s about leveraging automation so more human time. We get paid still to be humans, which is pretty cool.
Steve Sanduski: Exactly. Yeah. And I’m a big proponent of we got to keep the human in the financial advice business. Absolutely, we have to use technology as you’re describing there. And it’s the little things. You mentioned I think a couple times now these handwritten notes, thank you cards, those sorts of things. They’re sending an email, hey, here’s an article I was reading and I thought of you, and I thought you might appreciate that. So it’s those little things-
Wes Moss: But they take time.
Steve Sanduski: Yeah, they take time, but they’re also super appreciated, because the receiver says, oh, Wes just was thinking about me. They’re going to like, okay, he cares about me, I’m not just an account with an amount.
Wes Moss: An account with an amount. That’s cool. That’s true.
Steve Sanduski: Well, Wes, I think we’ll go ahead and wrap up here, but any final thoughts, anything else that you want to add here that we haven’t talked about yet?
Wes Moss: The good news about our industry is that the demographic trends are with us. So if you’re thinking about doing marketing in media and writing, all these things, it seems like a big mountain to climb, guess what, you’re going to be doing this a long time. If you’re in this business, you’re going to be doing it, God willing, for minimum another decade, if not three more decades. So we’ve got time and obviously, you just got to get started. I think that we’ve got to be patient and know that this is just, it takes some time, but it’s worth it and it’s fun. I think the great part about industry is I think a lot of us that are in it, we’re in a fortunate spot to love what we do. We provide massive value to families, we change people’s lives, and we have fun doing along the way.
So, I appreciate you having me on the show and getting this word out. People can find you by the way on social media. My Twitter’s @Wesmoss365, W-E-S M-O-S-S, Wesmoss365. And then Instagram, which again hasn’t really worked as a leverage point for financial advice, I think it’s a tough medium, but all my other handles are Wesmossmoneymatters. Love to connect with your listeners, Wesmossmoneymatters.
Steve Sanduski: And wesmoss.com. is that-
Wes Moss: And my website, yeah, wesmoss.com, W-E-S-M-O-S-S.com.
Steve Sanduski: Excellent, great. Well, Wes, appreciate you being on the show. Great thoughts here.
Wes Moss: Thank you.