My guests today are Eric and Kali Roberge. Eric and Kali are the founders of Beyond Your Hammock, a fee-only financial planning firm; and Creative Advisor Marketing, a company that helps financial advisors use compelling content to communicate their value.
In this episode, Eric and Kali explain how knowing who you do not want to work with, and how you’d like someone to view their money, can help you determine and clarify your ideal audience. They also discuss strategies for using client location and content driven referrals, and how to best use your content in marketing your business.
Don’t miss one of our favorite moments, when Eric and Kali talk about the importance of not allowing “perfect” to be the enemy of “done”, and how critical it is to take action — and trust yourself to figure some things out as you go. We hope you will find some practical ideas to try — and walk away inspired.
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Patrick: 00:22 Hey Model FA's. Today's guests are Eric and Kali Roberge. This dynamic duo calls Boston home and runs their own financial advisory firm and marketing firm respectively called Beyond Your Hammock and Creative Advisor Marketing. Eric and Kali recently launched their own podcast called Beyond Finances that is a great listen for consumer clients.
Patrick: 00:46 They've made it a practice to create content and share information that, as they put it, can't be Googled for those with questions around financial planning and cash flow. So buckle up and get ready to learn about sales, fees, pricing models, referrals, marketing, the gloves are off Model FA's. It's time for my conversation with Eric and Kali Roberge. Eric how you doing man? Thanks for coming on the show.
Eric: 01:14 I'm good, thanks for inviting me. This is going to be a good conversation talking about the stuff I love to talk about.
Patrick: 01:20 Awesome. Kali thanks for joining as well.
Kali: 01:21 Yeah absolutely, no like Eric said, we appreciate you having us on and looking forward to chatting through some of these topics that you had mentioned.
Patrick: 01:28 Awesome, good deal. Well let's go ahead and get started. So, Eric, you've been in the industry for a little bit of time, you started your practice, it's been in existence for a few years. Can you talk me through where you're at, how you're operating in the business today and I guess what your plans for the future are as you start to grow this out?
Eric: 01:45 Sure. Yeah I mean I've been a financial planner now, 12 years. Launched my business back in 2013, so at this point, I feel like I have a good understanding about where I've been and where I want to go. Focusing on a younger clientele is interesting because it's not something that people have done along the way. So it's all new ground.
Eric: 02:07 So every day I feel like I wake up and I'm saying, "What am I going to do next and how am I going to deliver value to this set of clients in a way that maybe hasn't been done before?" So the growth of the business has come a long way in the last five years and I feel like it's at this point where it's a transition period and we can expand not only the clients but also the people who work with Beyond Your Hammock as employees to grow the business that way as well.
Patrick: 02:36 So what types of things have you done to grow the business over the years? Did you start with the focus on let's say millennials, Gen X or did you start focusing on older folks with more assets and then pivot into the younger market? What have you done to kind of grow everything out and where did you start with it?
Eric: 02:54 Well, the reason I started Beyond Your Hammock was because my former employers would tell me that I can't actually work with younger clients because they didn't fit the business model. So I was working with baby boomers and people that had money transitioning into retirement. I didn't love it, so Beyond Your Hammock was started specifically to focus on initially people in their 20s and 30s and that was pretty much the spectrum.
Eric: 03:18 And that was a good enough differentiator at the time back in 2013 so from there we fine-tuned it to focus more on people in their 30s and their 40s that are making $250,000 or more as household income. Really looking to engage in their life today and grow their wealth for tomorrow at the same time.
Eric: 03:38 So starting to speak that language through online content and just everywhere I am whether it's a podcast or article interview or writing my own article for some publication. Those are the types of challenges we talk about. The ones that people in their 30s and 40s that have a good cash flow but don't have wealth yet are dealing with.
Patrick: 04:03 Did you find that the business, when you set it up to build it in 2013, was it easier to get it to where it's at today than you thought? Or harder, or about kind of what you had estimated? What do you feel like your journey was like since 2013?
Eric: 04:16 I feel like it was a real challenge to get to where I am today. I mean I certainly wouldn't have changed it for the world but looking back, it's like wow, it really came a long way and I don't know how I got here. Which is the same thing I said when I left the corporate world.
Eric: 04:31 When I was at JP Morgan back in 2007, jumping ship to be a financial advisor, if I look back on that, I'm like wow that was a dumb move, but the best move I ever made. Because it was such a trial to get through all of that, but it's made me who I am today and I feel like I'm in a great place. So I wouldn't have changed any of it.
Patrick: 04:49 Is there anything micro that you would have changed? Any mistakes that you made along the way where you were like, "Oh crap, I wish I could recapture those three months or I hadn't done that."
Eric: 04:58 Well starting off, I mean I was really taking anybody that fit the age bracket. You're in your 20s, in your 30s, you want some help, I'm good. And I think that was a slower start than it should have been because I was learning along the way that there is a certain type of client inside of that age range that really fits Beyond Your Hammock.
Eric: 05:20 And it's not everybody. So talking with people who have significant debt and cash flow issues to the point where they can't even save a dollar, that's really helpful, they need this advice but it's not something that I was good at and it certainly wasn't part of my process to coach them through that type of work.
Kali: 05:40 I think that's actually something that's helped grow, was getting clear on it's not just a demographic thing. You can't just look at somebody's age. I mean you can say you work with somebody in their 30s and 40s but when we got really clear on the mindset that we were looking for, that's when we were able to tweak kind of the messaging and we started seeing more and more clients that were really, really perfect fits come on.
Kali: 06:04 And it is, it's a mindset thing because there are some clients that I've seen come through who, they don't really have the motivation. They say they want to change their financial situation or they want help but there's deeper stuff going on and they're not really willing to commit to the process or the work. Versus the clients that do have the mindset of I want to challenge myself and I want to grow and I want to improve. Those are the ones that have really done really well with your process Eric and just have been great clients.
Patrick: 06:37 Do you feel that, that's the reason why you arrived at people with that type of a mindset is because it's just easier, more profitable and our services are more aligned with that group of individuals or do you feel it was your personality just intrinsically, kind of attracts those type of people, therefore that's why they resonated with you? How do you think you evolve the offer over time? Or why do you think it evolved?
Eric: 07:01 That's a good question. I think it's a little bit of both because from my own personal perspective, I am motivated. I want to get up and get after it and I want to do what's best for my life along the way and be responsible about it at the same time. So bringing that out in other people is pretty easy for me to do if they have it inside. So that was a natural fit.
Eric: 07:22 At the same time, I mean if you jump on the current it's going to take you there faster, so people that have that kind of mindset along with the cash flow power it really is a lot easier to help them just shift their perspectives slightly to start to save and invest and grow their wealth at the same time as doing the thing that they know how to do already as far as travel and going out to dinners and enjoying themselves in the meantime.
Kali: 07:48 Whether it's from a prospect perspective or a client perspective too, it's harder to convince somebody against something that they're not already thinking, so we quit trying to convince people who didn't see the value of a financial planner of the value and same with clients. Eric wasn't spending his time trying to cajole them into, you need to take this action or I promise you this is valuable. They're kind of already on board with I see the value and now I need the help to actually implement.
Patrick: 08:15 Do you have a specific process that you use or way of line of questioning that helps you uncover this client mindset? How do you uncover the mindset that you're looking for when you're talking to people?
Kali: 08:29 I think it's just getting clear on what we're looking for and then because it does align with Eric's personality and mine too, there's that drive for self-improvement for personal development and growth. And speaking to that in the content that we put out there sharing your own story or our own struggle with how we went through that really resonates with people who kind of have that same vibe going on. So it just started. The process was let's get really clear on exactly who we want to target, how are they looking at the world, how do they think about things, what are their challenges and what is really driving them and motivating them to act and then how can we speak to that person.
Patrick: 09:10 That's a really good point. I have a very strong level of agreement as far as making sure that you first define exactly who you're going to be targeting and that it lines up with the vision of what you're trying to build because there are so many advisors out there, and I'm sure you guys have talked to them probably as much as I have over the years Kali with you having a marketing company.
Patrick: 09:32 That they just want to work with everyone and then they run into a situation where they're just kind of a jack of all trades, and they're saying too many things and none of those things resonate. Kali do you have any advice to the advisors that are listening in trying to build a practice today as far as how would they go about uncovering the mindset that's going to resonate with what they're trying to build? Do you have any tips or strategies that you and Eric walk through to get to that point? That may be helpful for other advisors?
Kali: 10:01 I think it might be helpful to kind of back yourself into it. So instead of trying to think of all right, who is the one perfect, ideal client which is what you want to get to. You do want to be able to eventually define that, but starting there can be really difficult because it could be anything.
Kali: 10:18 So back into it by looking at, all right, who do I know I do not want to work with? Who is not a fit? Who is not going to work out? Who is going to be more of a pain than they're worth? I think you need to be willing to kind of draw a line in the sand as far as what is not going to work for you and what is not a good fit for you personally or your business too. Because your business should have values and philosophies and beliefs almost.
Kali: 10:46 You need to be able to define that personally and professionally, and then be able to say, "All right, who doesn't align with this?" For us I think we looked at the people who were maybe in their 30s and 40s, they were making the good income, they were saying like, "Yes please, I want help figuring out my money." But they were not willing to give up the status symbols, or they were very concerned about material things or they really had to have the nice car and the nice house and that was a non-negotiable.
Kali: 11:15 Those are people we said, you know what, we don't want them as clients, so it doesn't matter what those people think when we put out content, or we're trying to reach prospects. It doesn't matter because they are absolutely not the people that we're trying to reach. So by starting there and by defining what doesn't work, it's a little easier to slowly make your way toward, all right this is exactly what I want.
Patrick: 11:36 That's great advice. If I'm to summarize it's basically having a belief system both personally and professionally and allowing that belief system to essentially clarify your audience for you.
Kali: 11:45 Yeah I think that's a foundational thing and then it gets more nuanced than that, but yeah. If you don't know what you're going to be able to stand for and be able to, like I said, draw a line in the sand and say this works or this doesn't it's going to be hard to start making those decisions.
Patrick: 11:58 Yeah. Switching gears a little bit, Eric, sales. A lot of younger advisors especially if they just started their practice, they haven't had any real formal sales training unless they were homegrown in the industry through a Northwestern Mutual or Ameriprise and we can debate the relevance of those types of sales tactics but what have you seen work well in your practice when you're having these types of conversations and getting clients to commit and sign on the dotted line?
Eric: 12:23 Being authentic. Asking questions that are there that may be a little bit uncomfortable to ask when you're just meeting somebody. Because it's not about prying, but it's about showing that you actually care and that you're focusing on what their needs are.
Eric: 12:40 So when I'm talking to somebody the first thing I say when, and just to give you an overview, when I meet my prospects they've reached out to me through my website, signed up through ScheduleOnce and now I'm going to talk to them. And they've filled out a questionnaire so I have a good baseline of where they're coming from.
Eric: 12:59 So when we get on the phone I just say, "Okay, so you said that you wanted to reach out to an advisor because X, Y and Z. What does that really mean to you?" So it gives them right off the bat a way to share more about what they're looking for and then I can dig in and ask questions, so I really get what's driving them to do what they're doing in reaching out to an advisor because I don't take that lightly.
Eric: 13:22 It's certainly a personal thing. I think they need to know that. And then from there we can just go wherever the conversation goes, but it really is all geared towards them and what they need until they start asking questions about what I can do for them.
Patrick: 13:35 Okay. Are you finding that most of your clients are virtual, are they in the greater Boston are? How are you working with folks right now? Is it kind of a mix between those two or what's the strategy?
Eric: 13:46 Yeah, it's a mix. I would say I'm getting probably a 50/50 split between people that are virtual and people that are in the Boston area. I mean actually people in the Boston area sometimes are virtual too. Because it doesn't really matter where they are, it's just a matter of what fits their schedule in their lifestyle.
Patrick: 14:04 Have you noticed a difference in the human connection between the relationships that you build through a virtual means, like Zoom video conferencing versus people that you get to meet in person? Have you noticed a difference in the level of connection with those clients?
Eric: 14:19 You know I like to think that there isn't a difference but if I really think hard I would say that there probably is a little bit of a difference. It's really great, I think I enjoy it more. Maybe it's that I enjoy it more when someone's in a room and I have idea paint wall where I can write all over it and I can really get to know them and I see their face and everything else.
Eric: 14:42 That really engages me in the conversation and I think it really shows me where they're at too and I catch all the nuances in their signs and their face and what they're saying. That said, online I'm going to have plenty of clients that have been only virtual clients and they're still with me after four years. So I think that those relationships can be built from scratch just as much as I can do it in person. It just takes a little bit of practice to get that kind of relationship up and running and fully functioning online versus face to face.
Kali: 15:15 I think it comes down a lot to communication skills too which Eric has done a lot of work on. I mean he listens much more than he talks in client meetings which I feel like very few advisors do that. They're too busy trying to tell you everything they know and Eric is very good about listening by asking questions and then about just noticing things.
Kali: 15:34 Like I think you have a story about one client, they were on a video call and their cat jumped up in the background or for some reason I have in my head, cat and painting and that there's some sort of story there. So I'll let you tell it because I'm obviously not remembering well enough.
Eric: 15:51 Well what she was referring to actually was a painting behind the clients and there was a little plaque on the painting and I couldn't see what it said but I asked about it and it turned out that it was a plaque because they found the painting in some other state where they used to live and it was a present from the husband to the wife before they got married so it represents their marriage and it was just allowing them to share something-
Kali: 16:16 Personal.
Eric: 16:17 ... personal that wouldn't have been shared had we been in an office because I never would have known about this painting. So being aware of the background when you're on video is a key piece of that.
Kali: 16:27 So I made up the cat part.
Eric: 16:28 No cat on that.
Patrick: 16:29 It's okay, we won't hold it against you. We all like cats, no cat discrimination going on, on this podcast. So another question that I want to ask you is a lot of advisors struggle with this, fees. You've started in 2013 which means you were at the start of this, let's call it retainer, monthly retainer flat fee model that has since gained steam.
Patrick: 16:53 There's thousands of advisors now, maybe even more than that using it around the country. Some with success, others with less success just mostly because they're questioning how best to deliver their service and how to communicate it to clients. But what have you seen work well or not well for you as you've kind of grown your business over the past five, six years as it relates to fees and pricing your services?
Eric: 17:17 I think you touched on something there that really is the baseline. In that it's not necessarily about the way that you charge, it's making sure that you can explain and feel confident about the value that you're giving the client. So that being said, I did feel that the monthly subscription was the best way to go for me because I was working with clients that didn't necessarily have assets yet.
Eric: 17:38 And it was a bunch of trial and error because I started off at I think $50 a month which, no where near sustainable for this type of service, but as that grew over the years as far as the monthly amount, the value, the programs, the software and the technology that I had in place started to grow as well, so I was feeling more comfortable charging more because I was better at what I was doing and I had more tools to provide that value to the clients.
Eric: 18:10 So it's been an ever-evolving thing going from $50 to $250 to $300, to now back to $199 in some cases. So it's been a work in progress that's still will continue to be that way just so I can make sure that I'm getting paid what I deserve to be paid and the client is getting the value out of that price.
Patrick: 18:34 It's tough to determine those two things because sometimes there's a disconnect depending on the mentality of the client, and you've got to be able to reconcile that and also make it work for your business and make sure that you're able to keep the doors open and provide the service that you want. So I can understand why a lot of advisors struggle with that.
Patrick: 18:50 What do you think was the primary shift that caused you to move from $50 a month all the way up to $300 to $400 a month in certain cases? Was it related to you feeling more confident and changing your mindset? Was it you just started to deliver a better service, a better product and therefore you felt more confident charging more for it? Was there more demand? What do you think was the primary driver of you increasing your prices?
Eric: 19:16 The primary driver was probably the value add. When I started to realize the true value behind my service, the experience that I was gaining in saying that, "Listen I've talked to almost 1,000 people about this very topic, so I have the experience to back up what I'm saying."
Eric: 19:33 So it's not just this advice that I'm getting from a textbook, it's all of the experience behind it, and I think that's where it's really tough to get to the value piece because it's not based on an hourly rate. It's the value behind it. It's the years of experience that I have that allows me to say within seconds what the answer is instead of having to research it now.
Eric: 19:52 So that was really the confidence that gave me the ability to increase the rates. At the same time I was still looking at how much time am I spending with these people and behind the scenes and in front of the scenes and the more you have as far as income and the more your assets start to grow, the more complexity you have.
Eric: 20:12 Now if I'm dealing with equity compensation that adds another layer so there's a lot that goes on and I'm realizing it even now that I provide more value than I think I provide. You have to understand that and charge for it.
Patrick: 20:26 Do you have a process where you walk the client through a way for them to feel more comfortable referring you? Or how are you handling getting your clients who are recipients of this value, recipients of this service to feel comfortable introducing you to other clients who maybe have that mindset because generally with life what I've realized is people are attracted to those and they want to spend time with those who have a similar mindset, a similar motivation, a similar interest.
Patrick: 20:51 So I would assume that most of your clients by nature of you narrowing your market also know others with that similar mindset and motivation. Have you implemented any strategies to help you increase referrals or get referrals from your current set of clients?
Eric: 21:05 Well, I'm sure Kali will have something to say about this too, but the first thing would be no. I just do what I do for the people I do it for and maybe they refer, maybe they don't. My ultimate driver of new prospective client's comes from the content we put out there online and that content attracts the right mix of people regardless of friends that already are working with me. So it's much of a less of a business deal that from the referral process than it is the online content. Would you agree Kali?
Kali: 21:36 Yeah definitely. I would say most of our new business comes from the content that we put out there, the content marketing that we do and I think that's deliberate. Eric never asks for referrals. I mean really, there's no sales in anything that we do, which I like that and I feel like our clients appreciate it because we're not asking them to do anything for us and I think it just helps build a better relationship and that might tie back in to the virtual clients is they're never getting sold.
Kali: 22:07 They're never doing anything for us which I think helps build that level of trust and connection because it's not about a transaction or even so much about the service. It's more about the relationship. So I'm not saying that there's no room for referrals, clients do refer other clients but it's just not a priority.
Patrick: 22:28 Hey Model FA's. This podcast is all about helping you grow your business. So I wanted to share a new tool that we created to help you do just that. It's a webinar and it's going to show you how to add two to three plus new clients to your practice with consistency and in some cases, without even spending any money. You can check it out at get.brewerconsulting.co/webinar. Again it's get.brewerconsulting.co/webinar. We look forward to seeing you there.
Patrick: 22:58 Have you thought about doing any type of client events or any type of way to bring the people together so that your content, your persona comes to life? Because I feel like by nature of Eric focusing on folks, that are more driven to have that let's say leveraged mindset they're more growth-oriented, they're probably prone to be delegators because they realize the value of their time and they acknowledge the opportunity cost of making mistakes in this area of their life. Those types of people would probably get along pretty well in a group setting. Have you guys ever considered client events or any type of appreciation events in the practice?
Eric: 23:35 I guess considered is a good word. We've thought through it and in the past, I feel like maybe my clients weren't as focused as they are now as far as the type of client that I work with. So it may not have been as relevant. Like the point you make is valid, and I think going forward there is going to be an opportunity for that.
Eric: 23:53 I have not done it yet, it will have to be obviously, I mean everybody can be invited, but I don't think that clients will be flying across the country to come to Boston for this thing. Not yet anyway. Not until I can rent out the entire hotel and make it happen. But your point is valid, and it would be something that I could consider in a bit, but I think at this point my main focus isn't necessarily that type of thing.
Eric: 24:19 I'm still trying to figure out how to take the funnel of prospective clients that are coming to me now and pick the ones that really make the most sense and at the same time not limit myself, and the growth of the business by looking for other advisors to come on board to be that support system to make sure the business can expand.
Patrick: 24:38 Yeah, let's talk to through that a little bit. Let's switch to marketing and then maybe move over to the idea of scaling the business out as you become larger and your business starts to really shift more into that mid-stage of the practice. What strategies are you using to get people's attention right now and what other strategies maybe are you considering introducing in the next let's say 12 to 18 months?
Kali: 25:01 Right now like I said, it's a very heavy focus on content. What that means is blog, social media, email, writing content for other big sites like Business Insider and Keplinger. We also just launched a podcast this month, earlier this month, beginning of the year in January and I haven't really looked into the analytics there to see what all's been going on with that because it's too new, I want to build a little bit more data before I start jumping to conclusions.
Kali: 25:31 But we've gotten really good feedback off of that and it's just a way to make the content that we were creating for the blog or social media a little bit more accessible for the kind of clients we want to reach because they're usually going to have some kind of commute into the city. It's much easier for them to sit down and listen to a 20-minute podcast than it is to read a 2,000 word blog post.
Kali: 25:52 So it's a little bit more accessible. But that's really been the main focus is just trying to build brand awareness and bringing in people through organic search. Actually, organic as SEO is the biggest driver of traffic to our website right now and we've got a pretty good handle on local SEO as well.
Kali: 26:09 After searching financial advisor in Boston. So it's all inbound right now and I think if we add anything else I would love to do video as well but the podcast was a big thing that we knocked off the list to get that started and going, so I think video will be my next big project to tackle.
Patrick: 26:28 Great. Yeah, I think you guys should definitely do video. Video is going to be huge for 2019 and beyond. I mean it's the best way to communicate the nuance of what we do as financial advisors and really help clarify the audience because if you can get your belief system out and they can see you and its palpable, it's tangible it'll be a much better filtering mechanism than the written word in certain cases.
Patrick: 26:48 What have you noticed with organic SEO? People searching financial advisor Boston, they fill out a form, you get them on the call. What percentage of these people have the mindset that you're looking for versus maybe the ones that are looking more of a transactional sale or an advisor who maybe doesn't focus on things and see the world like you do?
Kali: 27:08 I think since we implemented... Because the process used to just be people would come in and they would sign up for a call and they'd go directly to Eric. We wouldn't have much information about them at all but since we implemented the questionnaire part of it, I think literally everyone that's come through that questionnaire is of the right mindset. We haven't had a lot of people come through that are just completely like where did you come from? What were you thinking you were going to get out of this?
Kali: 27:33 But I think Eric can speak a little bit more to that because he's the one actually having the calls but I do think having that questionnaire for whatever reason it's done a really good job of making sure that the people who are getting to Eric are more than likely not just good fits but ready to become clients and a lot of them have made that decision very quickly but again I'll let you speak more to that.
Eric: 27:53 Well, it falls back to the seriousness of the people that are reaching out. The lower the barrier to entry to make the connection and have the call with the advisor, the more people you're going to get and therefore the less qualified they might be on average. So in this case, when I started to realize that it wasn't the volume that was the problem, right, I wasn't scrambling for people to talk to, it was starting to become the quality of the person that I was talking to as far as how I can help them.
Eric: 28:23 And then we added that layer to say, all right now you've booked an appointment, here's the questionnaire. Let's make this a little bit more personal and more official. So I think the client is now committed a little bit more of themselves because they're sharing some detailed information before we even talk and now when they get on the call they're ready to go and if I can actually acknowledge what they've said in the questionnaire, they know I'm listening and we can start from there.
Eric: 28:47 So it's been a huge shift and the people that do fill out that questionnaire, it's amazing. They're really ready to go. It's the people that don't necessarily fill it out that we found even when we get on the call because I still will have the call with them. It tends to not be the best fit.
Patrick: 29:01 Do you plan on maybe canceling those calls in the future if they don't fill out the questionnaire? What's the plan there?
Eric: 29:08 My marketing person has advised me to do that soon.
Kali: 29:13 Yeah, I'm playing around right now trying to figure out the best process for doing that. Because it was just... I usually send out a call reminder and when I was doing that if they hadn't filled out the form I would just kind of sneak it in that email, like "Hey we have this call and by the way, please fill this out." But I'm starting to be a little bit more aggressive with a little bit earlier reminder on the questionnaire if they don't fill it out.
Kali: 29:37 And then I think the next step is to probably implement something where it's if you don't fill this questionnaire out, we're not talking. Because the issue as Eric said, it's not volume, we have a really nice prospect pipeline I think we're both very happy with. But we definitely want to protect Eric's time right now as we're in the stages of growing and needing to find another advisor. Protecting his time is definitely a priority.
Patrick: 30:03 Yeah, I would definitely encourage you to cancel the appointments if they don't fill out the form actually. We actually do that-
Kali: 30:08 Yeah, I'm definitely leaning that way.
Patrick: 30:11 ... in our RIA. Another thing that we do that's worked well for us is introduce video inside of the follow-ups. So we'll send the form out and we'll include a video that discuss our why. Why we do what we do and then the second email will go out as a reminder that explains more about the process and why the form is important so you can incorporate different media to push them along and give them more of a, lets say a reason to get that done other than your just poking and prodding.
Patrick: 30:37 But I'm sure there's a lot of advisors that are listening right now that are wondering what the form even says. I mean if you're having these amazing conversations from people filling out the form, like what type of questions are you asking? Are they just close-ended questions? Are they open-ended questions where you're trying to get a lot of detail? Are they uploading financial information to you? Like what type of questions are you asking on this form?
Kali: 30:57 It's a little bit of both. So we ask for some basic information, like income and how much you have in bank cash or how much you have invested, how much debt you have. But instead of requiring someone to put in a specific number, those are done in ranges so it'll be like income, $100,000 to $200,000 something like that. So it's a little bit less work and then there are a few open-ended questions as far as what motivated you to reach out? Why is money important to you? We do ask where they found us.
Kali: 31:28 So a couple other questions like that but my goal with the questionnaire was just to give us just enough information to have a better conversation and to make them do just enough work to be a little more committed but not to feel burdened by oh gosh I have to do all this up front, I haven't even had a conversation yet and I'm already having to do work for them. So I was trying to strike a balance between getting the information we needed and making it fairly simple for them to fill out but still them having to show some level of commitment to get on the call.
Patrick: 32:00 I think that's smart. I think that's smart. Let's go back to the podcast real quick. So you launched this podcast, you have a clarified audience that you are looking to connect with. Motivated people with that growth mindset. What is the intention for the podcast? Are you only looking to attract those types of folks, is that kind of the message of the podcast, talk me through the types of content and things that you're going to be releasing through the podcast.
Eric: 32:26 Well, the biggest thing for the podcast piece is that we don't want to talk about things that you can Google. So if you can just go out there and Google something even if it's a sophisticated strategy, go Google it, we're not going to talk about it. And I think the other piece of it is that it's very much about personal development and mindset shift.
Eric: 32:45 So we're bringing that personal development, be good to yourself and evolve personally with the mindset of, well your finances are a big part of this life too, so let's use your money as a tool. So where those things combined and collide that's where we're really going to situate the conversations and it's not necessarily about attracting all of the specific clients that I work with but I'm very much an educator at heart so I want to be able to provide perspective.
Eric: 33:14 I want to be able to share things that people don't even know they don't know and therefore can't ask questions about until they know it, right? So if I could just pique someone's interest because there's this mindset shift available then I've done my job and obviously podcasting you can really leverage your time and speak to a heck of a lot more people one on one.
Patrick: 33:36 Yeah, yeah for sure. What is the style of the podcast? Is it going to be you and Kali talking about these types of topics? Are you going to be bringing in guest speakers and interviewing them? Is it going to be a combination of both? What are you thinking as far as structure and strategy?
Kali: 33:53 Well, right now it's... I mean what sparked the idea for the podcast was we have these kind of conversations all the time and it would usually just be us talking and eventually I was like, you know we should record this and turn it into a podcast. So that was kind of the idea was just it's just a conversation between me and Eric. It's very casual and informal, we just kind of go back and forth so right now that's the structure for it.
Kali: 34:18 We've thought about potentially bringing on guests in the future but that's the main format of it is, it's just a conversation and we want people to feel like they can jump into that conversation or feel like their part of it instead of just us lecturing or preaching at somebody. It's supposed to be very conversational and accessible and kind of low pressure. It's not made to make you feel bad or you're not doing the right thing. It's really almost like, "Hey, here's something to think about. Here's a suggestion that you may want to consider."
Patrick: 34:50 Great. And I'm sure some of the listeners will want to check out the podcast, what is the name of the podcast again?
Kali: 34:55 It's Beyond Finances.
Patrick: 34:56 Beyond Finances. I like it. Switching gears, let's talk about scaling up your practice. You have worked on the marketing, you've got your sales conversations, you've built the business to a degree where now you require some additional help. How are you thinking about that? Are you thinking about bringing in salaried advisors? Are you going to outsource it? Are you going to bring in a partner? What are you guys thinking as far as how you're going to continue to grow the advisory business?
Eric: 35:28 Similarly, to how I've grown the business thus far, I think it's a slow and steady type of thing where a lot of thoughtful actions taken. At the same time, I'll do some random thing and see if it works. So in the past couple years I have worked with several operation/admin type people, talked to people and almost brought on interns and really learned a lot about what I actually need as the business owner, as the technician right now.
Eric: 36:00 And Kali has been a huge help as far as the marketing goes because she really is running the marketing system. She's also doing the operations side of it too in the prospect follow up and client communication in between meetings if there's a back and forth. Not the planning work but the other stuff. So at this point what we really need is somebody that knows eMoney. That knows how to do the planning for random questions that come up about equity compensation or what do I pick for my benefits.
Eric: 36:34 Or I have this cash flow question or what should I do with my money. Like some of these questions that are not necessarily the meeting type questions that we'll deal with at the meetings, but the intermediate type questions or in between meetings. That type of back office advisor that's really good at the planning, I want that person right now, and I want to give them the opportunity to prove themselves that way and then start to reach out and be client facing, so we can then expand the amount of people that we do bring on as clients at Beyond Your Hammock.
Patrick: 37:06 How are you thinking about that skillset? Do you find that there's people that have both skillsets as far as being a really diligent, detail-oriented planner but also have aspirations to want to go out and meet with other humans and sell and network? What has been your experience thus far interfacing with other advisors?
Eric: 37:26 I think it's tough to find someone that does both really well.
Patrick: 37:29 Okay.
Eric: 37:31 I mean I'm super... It's funny because I used to consider myself super detail-oriented and not as much of a salesperson or a networker. And then over the years as I gain more confidence, my desire to be detail oriented reduced. I think I still am, but it wasn't like the thing I was using as my superpower, right. So I was much more interested in speaking to people, striking up conversations, and educating.
Eric: 37:59 So that has evolved for me and therefore, I want the person to fill in behind me as far as the detail-oriented, back office planning work now. And secondarily it would be the client facing work. And it totally could be two different people. So I just need the first person first and then we can look to the next iteration of that.
Patrick: 38:17 What's your thoughts on vision? So we're talking a lot about mindset, we're talking about building the business out, getting people to come in to support the growth. What I've found and what's been successful for me is stepping back and being very intentional about okay what does this look like 10, 15 years from now if we were to run it out all the way through. Have you done that type of work? Do you not believe that, that's effective? Where do you stand as far as setting a vision and managing to that?
Eric: 38:45 There's a balance. I don't think I want to... Just like with my clients, I don't want to develop this huge, comprehensive, complete plan for the next 20 to 30 years because the minute we put that down on paper it's going to change.
Eric: 39:00 So I want to give people the space and myself the space to think about the vision, talk about the vision, write down what the vision might look like in a general form and then start to take actions at the same time. So as the actions are taken, the visions might change.
Patrick: 39:17 It's very much a back and forth thing for me. I love that long term vision conversation and at the same time I'm so busy that I'm not having it as much as I'd like to. But what we've done, the E-Myth Revisited, right that's the book?
Kali: 39:32 Yep.
Eric: 39:32 With Michael Gerber. That conversation about building the structure of your business and the people inside the business and what they do before they actually are here, we've done that before. We've been in our kitchen, we've used sticky notes and we built out this framework of 20 people that are all specializing in certain areas.
Eric: 39:50 So I see that as the place I want to go, which is also a mindset shift from my previous vision of let's do a lifestyle practice. A lifestyle practice for me was have a life. What I'm realizing now is that lifestyle practice often means you can't have a life because you're still the hamster on the wheel and if you can build out a little bit more, you can actually have a life with a bigger business and everything works out.
Patrick: 40:16 I think that's an incredible point that you just made there because the industry is very entrenched in this idea that a lifestyle practice is you're an advisor, you have 100 clients, you do everything or you outsource certain core functions of your business. What I'm hearing from you is you can build your business to a point where other people who are uniquely skilled to do things in the business do the work and then you as the entrepreneur can step back and enjoy your life.
Eric: 40:39 Exactly. And do the stuff that I really love to do, which is more visionary, bigger picture conversations.
Patrick: 40:45 Great. So if you could give a tip to a financial advisor who is growing their business, whose kind of going through some of the things that you've been going through lets say over the past five years. Maybe they're a little bit earlier on in the cycle, what would you tell them? What's one, maybe two things that you could share with them that'll help them get and sustain momentum as they go through building their business?
Eric: 41:10 Use the industry as a support system, but listen with a questioning ear. And what I mean by that is that a lot of people don't understand what's possible as an advisor and what you can do for clients and who you can work with in the business.
Eric: 41:27 So from that sense there's very much a tunnel vision with most advisors which is not good for people starting a business that they really want to love and grow over time. But at the same time, and this is what I did initially was I dropped the industry completely. I said, "You know what, I'm sick of this, I can't move an iceberg or a glacier so I'm going to just go way out in the other end and come back in."
Eric: 41:51 And I think that... I left a lot on the table from recreating the wheel in certain places and just basically shunning the advice that I could have taken that would have helped me get there faster. So it's very much a balance between taking what's viable and successful in the business but also bringing your own twist to it and doing things that maybe other people think are crazy. Don't listen to them when they say that.
Patrick: 42:18 Yeah. You don't want to fall for the industry's line, hook, line, and sinker. You got to be creative, you got to be an entrepreneur at the end of the day is what I'm hearing. Kali, what tips do you have? I know that you've consulted with hundreds of advisors as it relates to marketing brand, content strategy. Do you have anything that you could share with the same advisor who's looking to build a business over the next couple of years and have it be successful?
Kali: 42:41 Yeah. I think if I could only share one piece of advice, then at the end of the day you just have to take action. I feel like that's the biggest obstacle that most people don't get over is that they think and they plan and they talk about it and they ask questions and they keep talking and they keep planning and ultimately you're going to have to just do something.
Kali: 43:02 It doesn't really even matter so much if it's wrong or right, you're going to be able to do something and then you've created something tangible that you can iterate on. If you never take any action then you're still just thinking and planning and walking yourself in circles because there is nothing to learn from and there's nothing to improve on. There's nothing to build on.
Kali: 43:23 So instead of getting caught up and worrying about, well I need to do this perfectly, or I need to do it right, just do it and then you will figure out all right, here's how I can do it better. Or by just doing it you can figure out how to do it. Because I feel like that's the question I get asked more than anything is it's how do fill in the blank. How do I blog? How do I get on social media? How do I build a following? How do I start a podcast? Whatever it is, you just drop the how to out of that sentence and you just do it.
Kali: 43:52 And that's exactly how we started the podcast. Neither one of us had any clue what we were doing and I'm not saying just jump into something blindly. We did some research, we asked some questions but there came a point where it was like, all right, we're just going to have to buy the equipment even though we have no idea how to use it and once it gets here, I'm going to start pressing buttons and plugging things into different spots until it works. And that's exactly what we did and that was the best way to learn. So don't get caught up in thinking it has to be right with a capital R, perfect. Don't let perfect be the enemy of done basically.
Patrick: 44:26 Awesome. I think that's great advice. If I'm to summarize, imperfect action, one foot in front of the other until the market informs the outcome.
Kali: 44:35 Yeah absolutely.
Patrick: 44:36 And making sure that you continue to basically just move forward. A lot of advisors as you said, they don't. They just sit around and they question their decisions and they don't get a lot of feedback for that reason, because the market isn't able to provide them with feedback because they're not taking action.
Kali: 44:52 Exactly.
Patrick: 44:52 Awesome. Eric, Kali, it was so great having you on the podcast. I really appreciate your time and your perspectives. Some of the things you shared I think are going to be incredibly valuable for the Model FA audience. I'm looking forward to hearing more about how your firm grows and develops out over the next few years. Thank you again for being on the show.
Eric: 45:11 Hey, you're welcome. It was great to actually talk to you. I've seen you online, but I have not actually communicated with you, so thank you again.
Patrick: 45:16 Absolutely.
Kali: 45:17 Yeah, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Patrick: 45:19 All right Kali, take care.