Charles (Chas) Boinske is a Wealth Manager and the Chief Visionary Officer of Modera Wealth Management, a company that provides thoughtful financial counsel to discerning individuals and organizations. Chas was co-founder of his own RIA, Independence Advisors, before he and his team joined Modera in 2021. As Wealth Manager at Modera, Chas helps clients develop financial plans, implement wealth management strategies, and manage investment portfolios. In his capacity as Chief Visionary Officer, Chas drives the strategic direction for the firm. Chas, whose career in the industry spans over 30 years, has become a nationally recognized and trusted resource for complex financial issues experienced by institutions and individuals with high net-worth.
Chas joins me today to discuss the power of cultivating relationships, whether it’s among a team or with clients. He shares his professional journey, including how he started his own independent firm at a time when the independent RA model was relatively unknown. He underscores how investing and reinvesting in the development of your team impacts client service and describes the role of getting support from other people. He also shares how he became interested in fly fishing, how it became an avenue for him to interact with clients, and highlights the importance of being human to establish real relationships with clients.
“You’d think you’ll have to wow people with your knowledge, but that’s already expected. What’s not expected is your ability to develop a relationship with that client.” - Chas Boinske
This week on The Model FA Podcast:
● Chas’ beginnings in the financial industry and how he pivoted to start Independence Advisors
● Taking risks, and the emotions Chas felt when he made the leap to found his independent firm
● Overcoming the fear of failure as an entrepreneur and what reassured Chas on his path
● How getting support and constructive feedback reassured Chas that he and his company were on the right track
● Three ways to get referrals from clients in a comfortable way
● The peak amount of assets Independence Advisors amassed before merging with Modera
● The challenges Chas experienced as he built his book of business
● How investing in your team and staff can impact your service to customers
● Traditional AUM niches and niching down a wealth management company on a passion
● Chas’ passion for fly fishing and how it helps him build better relationships with clients
● Why Chas never attempts to be aggressive about business when inviting clients to fly fishing
● What a “Class A” stream is and the pleasures of fly fishing
● The Trusted Advisor, its impact on Chas, and why other financial advisers should read it
● The importance of connecting with clients on the human level
● Book: The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford
● Book: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
● Interview with David DeCelle: Paving Your Way to Financial Success | Remindermedia
Our Favorite Quotes:
● “Don’t let fear rule you. Know in your heart that you want to help and fulfill that larger vision for the person you’re trying to serve.” - David DeCelle
● “To take care of your customers, take care of your staff. The more they become designated, trained, and evolved, it upticks their confidence and allows them to help clients better.” - David DeCelle
● “When you’re authentic about a passion like fly fishing, you don’t have to turn it into a commercial for your company. People will be interested in what you do as a profession tangentially.” - Chas Boinske
Connect with Charles Boinske:
● Email: [email protected]
About the Model FA Podcast
The Model FA podcast is a show for fiduciary financial advisors. In each episode, our host David DeCelle sits down with industry experts, strategic thinkers, and advisors to explore what it takes to build a successful practice — and have an abundant life in the process. We believe in continuous learning, tactical advice, and strategies that work — no “gotchas” or BS. Join us to hear stories from successful financial advisors, get actionable ideas from experts, and re-discover your drive to build the practice of your dreams.
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President of Model FA, David DeCelle
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Chas Boinske 00:06
If you're a subject matter expert, which is one of the stages on the way to be trusted advisor; you know, we all started out as subject matter experts. And we thought that I'm going to wow these people with my knowledge. And I am going to come in there, and I'm going to show them, talk about Roth conversions, and all this kind of cool stuff. Which is important, don't get me wrong, but you hang your hat on the technical. What I've found is that you reach a point where the technical is table stakes, it's expected. But what's not expected is your ability to develop that relationship so that you can put the technical to work in the most effective way for that client. That's what separates the trusted advisor, in my view, from just a transactional subject matter expert.
David DeCelle 00:50
Welcome Model FAs. David DeCelle here, president of Model FA, and I'm excited about our guest today. As you’ve come to learn since the beginning of this year, we only go through some of our guests’ backgrounds and extract some success principles along the way; then go through a topic or two that they are exceptionally gifted at and have been able to maximize in their life; go through their favorite book, because I want to make sure that we're promoting learning both in and outside the industry. And then we'll head into the after-hours portion where we get an opportunity to hear some embarrassing stories and try and do a good job of humanizing ourselves for all of you; that way, we can build a relationship from afar. So with that being said, I want to go ahead and introduce Chas to you. So I'm going to introduce him through his formal bio that he sent over. With that being said, I'm going to give my own personal bio shortly thereafter. So Chas is a Principal Wealth Manager and Chief Visionary Officer at Modera Wealth Management. His role as a wealth manager includes helping clients to develop their financial plans, implement wealth management strategies, and manage clients’ investment portfolios. In addition to his work with clients, Chas helps to drive the strategic direction for the firm in his role as Chief Visionary Officer. In his professional experience, he's nationally recognized as a trusted resource for complex financial issues faced by high-net-worth individuals and institutions; a pioneer in the use of Monte Carlo simulations in financial planning; has published and spoken regularly on the topic of Monte Carlo and financial planning. During his more than 30 years in the investment management industry, he's been a featured speaker at national conferences including JP Morgan Wealth Management Conference, the Financial Planning Association, and the DFA Advisors College. Chas and his team joined Modera, actually, just a handful of months ago in January 2021. Prior to Modera, Chas led Independence Advisors’ strategic direction and portfolio management process. He earned the CFA designation, which is highly respected by the global financial industry for its rigorous focus on current investment knowledge, analytical skill, and ethical standards. Chas received his bachelor's in economics from the Pennsylvania State University. He is a member of the New York Society of Security Analysts, the CFA Society of Philadelphia, the Wealth Management Council, and the CFA Institute. Outside of Modera in his free time, Chas enjoys studying military history, spending time with his family, and of course, which we'll be diving deeper into today, fly fishing. Chas also hosts a podcast called The Wealth Cast. Now that made it through that bio, Chas, I'm proud to say that we've become friends from afar. Chas and his firms are clients of ours over at Model FA. And I'm going to do my best to get Chas to brag a little bit about his success up to this point. But I will say he's very humble in his success; quite frankly, one of the nicest people that I've met in the industry, and grateful for the opportunity to have him on the show. So without further ado, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. It's very kind of you.
Awesome. Awesome. So I feel like there's a lot to unpack so bring us back to the very beginning. So you mentioned that you've been in the industry for about 30 years. How did you actually get started within our industry?
Chas Boinske 04:14
Well, once I graduated from Penn State, a lot of folks that were graduating or do graduate from university, I was looking for something to do. And I had an interest in economics and my grandfather had a relationship with Kidder, Peabody, had an account there. So I knew something about Kidder, Peabody through them and talking to him about stocks, etc. So I wandered into the local Kidder, Peabody office and got a job; and it was just an incredible firm in those days, very entrepreneurial. We could do investment banking, we could do retail client advising, we could do institutional advising. So it gave me the opportunity to experience all of those things at a young — at an early stage of my career; was really formative.
David DeCelle 04:54
Awesome. Now, at what point in time did you venture off to starting Independence Advisors? How far along in your career?
Chas Boinske 05:01
I was around 30 years old at the time. So I'm 58, so you can do the math. And it really was a result of — as good a firm as Kidder, Peabody was, and as good as the experience I had in the brokerage industry — there was, in my view at any rate, there was an inherent conflict of interest with the clients. And so in 1993, there was an opportunity to start an advisory firm using Schwab as a platform and start to embrace that fiduciary responsibility that you hear so much about today. It wasn't as well known in those days, but that's the reason we started. And that's why we call the firm Independence Advisors, just to be independent thinkers, independent advocates for our clients. And that's really the start.
David DeCelle 05:46
Now, when you actually ventured off, was it you and a partner, was a you and a staff person? What did those very beginning years look like? How’d you duct tape this thing together?
Chas Boinske 05:57
It was myself, one of the folks that I worked with in the previous firm, and partner named Jim Brown, who I was partners with until about 2010, when he retired. And it was, we started from scratch. I mean, we had limited resources, let's say that. We were sort of making it up as we went along, because it was all new. In those days, the independent RIA model was still relatively unknown. And so it required a lot of innovation and R&D to try to figure out, okay, what's the best way to go about doing this for our clients? We had the good fortune of meeting Dimensional very early, we had the good fortune of having the ability to talk to Jack Bogle of Vanguard at an early stage. He was very influential, Dimensional was very influential. And fortunately, we're sort of born of those two organizations.
David DeCelle 06:45
Now did you bring over clients with you from the previous firm? What did that initial step look like?
Chas Boinske 06:51
The initial step was a little complex because of the legal requirements, so we had to tread carefully. And we did. And so it was a fairly slow ramp up for the first couple of years, for that reason, primarily. But we had some capital resources that we had vested in the company and enabled us to get through that period, waiting for those sorts of issues to resolve themselves. Probably five years in is when we really started getting momentum as an organization; but it takes it takes some time as a startup, it just does.
David DeCelle 07:23
So when I transitioned — I was an advisor for seven years. And a few years ago, I transitioned over into the consulting space; and similar to you, I got into the industry right after college. So I mean, outside of my camp counselor jobs, and bussing tables, and I had a boat detailing and repair business through high school and college — it was really the only real job that I ever knew. So when I transitioned over into the consulting space, I know personally, I had a multitude of emotions going through my head, ranging from excitement to fear to confidence to self-doubt, and a variety of other things that were going through my mind. When you made that transition to be independent and on your own, what were some of the emotions that you had experienced during that transition?
Chas Boinske 08:13
Well, fear is a good one. I had just had my first child. My oldest son was born in December of ’92, and we started the firm in June of ‘93.
David DeCelle 08:24
Was your wife excited about you making the leap?
Chas Boinske 08:27
Nothing that that I've accomplished — I met my wife at Penn State, and she's been with me the entire ride and has been an integral part in sort of the support system. And she's always taken the view that, if I thought it was a good idea, she would ask her questions, but then we would just plow forward. And so that's what we did. And she was incredibly supportive, as difficult as it was, in those early days with a newborn. Probably, if I had known how difficult it was going to be, it might have changed how I went about doing it, honestly. But sometimes not having a full understanding of the risks that you're going to take, as long as they're directionally correct, is probably a good thing, because you may not have taken the risk had you known.
David DeCelle 09:05
So with the fear emotion, let's noodle on that for a little bit. I'm sure it was fear of failure, was probably one of them. I know, for me, I had a little bit of imposter syndrome, which I think could be also categorized under that fear umbrella. What were some of the things that you did to either suppress that fear or get over it tactically?
Chas Boinske 09:27
Yeah, that's a good question. I would say as an entrepreneur, you are definitely in this category. You know, you can't let fear rule you; you have to overcome it in one way or another or else you get into a situation where you make no progress whatsoever. So the fear was overwhelmed by the emotion of doing the right thing. We knew we were on the right path. We knew we were doing the right thing for our clients. And that created the energy and the power that you needed to get past the fear. And so we took sort of that energy and put it into the development of the messaging and the structure of the organization so that we could, in our heart of hearts, sit down with a client, and know that we were offering them something that was better. And if you've ever, for those folks that listening that have ever started a company and been successful doing it, that has to be part of the DNA.
David DeCelle 10:21
I've shared this story before on a podcast that I was on for a company called Reminder Media, their podcast name is Stay Paid. And speaking about imposter syndrome, specifically; and what made me think of it is what you mentioned about obviously not letting fear rule you, but also knowing in your heart of hearts that you really want to help and give and help fulfill that larger vision, not just for yourself, but for the person that you're trying to serve. So one of my friends early on in my career, I had a conversation with him. And he said, Hey, no offense, but if you're sitting across from someone who's making a million dollars, and you're not, and they've been on this earth longer than you, how are you able to add value? What makes you qualified? That was a little bit of a shot to my ego initially, and I thought back as to what got me to that point. And what I started doing early on was, I would approach those folks and basically just say, Hey, give me a chance; let me help you for free and let me know if this stuff is good or not. And through their feedback, I was gaining additional confidence. So I don't want to be too assumptive, but what were some of the — I'm sure some of the clients’ and prospects’ comments towards you and the work that you do were positive to the extent that it built confidence for you to really accelerate your growth. I guess, what were some of those things that reassured you that you were on the right track?
Chas Boinske 11:48
Like most trusted advisors, you have certain folks that you have developed a close relationship with because you're helping them with their issues, and you're being authentic, and you're asking for their advice as you go along anyway. So when we formed the company, there were a number of those clients that I had the good fortune of having the ability to go to and be totally straightforward. This is what we're trying to accomplish. I mean, this is what we see is wrong with the industry. This is what we're trying to do, and this is how we're going to do it. What do you think? And get their feedback and incorporate it into how we deliver their service, etc. So that gave me a lot of confidence, knowing that there were a number of really successful people that I could go to, and enlist their help, basically as informal advisors to the firm. Sort of a board of directors on an informal basis. Without them, I don't know that we would have had the success that we had over the years.
David DeCelle 12:42
I feel like oftentimes, folks, not just in our industry but in general, struggle with enlisting help from others, because they have a sense of wanting to make folks think that they have it all figured out. And I think it takes a suppression of ego, a degree of vulnerability and transparency, to be able to solicit the feedback necessary and be susceptible to constructive feedback as well. But also feedback that reaffirms that you're on the right track. I'm sure that there was a nice mix of feedback that you got ranging from constructive to affirmative as you were soliciting that feedback.
Chas Boinske 13:18
Yeah, that's right. I think, well, there's two things I should say. In those days, it was the conflict in the brokerage industry, as we saw them, were not unknown to the sophisticated client. Everybody understood there's potentially some conflict there based on how people were compensated. So we were confident that when we went to these individuals, and said, We reinvented this model, or we're at least participating in the reinvention of this model, as an organization, that they would get it. And so we knew; we had high confidence that we were on the right path. But what was really reassuring is that when we describe that path to these trusted folks, the reaction was universally positive. And that's a pretty good indicator, and they had no axe to grind. In essence, what we were doing, David, which is the second thing I wanted to mention is, we were kind of employing the Dan Allison methodology before I knew Dan Allison. And so that's one of the reasons why when we met him in years, what, 20 years later, his message rang so true. His methodology made so much sense to us, because we had actually already had some less sophisticated version of that in place.
David DeCelle 14:30
And for those of you who may not have heard about Dan Allison, just to give you some brief context, so he's been a speaker in the industry for probably, I think, 18 years or so now. And he's one of the most dynamic speakers and also just a really fun dude. We text pretty much every day and he's now a managing partner here over at Model FA, and essentially what he helps advisors do is get referrals from their clients in a comfortable way. And it really follows kind of three main categories. Where it's soliciting feedback, and even if you just stop there, there's a ton of value because clients are going to share with you what you should double down on across the board throughout your entire client book. And they're also going to give you some constructive criticism so that you can continuously evolve and improve as relates to your client service and experience and things along those lines. He then goes into making sure that you're always exposing your clients to all of the services that you provide. Let's say, hypothetically, you've helped them with their retirement distribution planning, and there's someone in their world that just had a baby and need some insurance and needs the accumulation of retirement or help with the accumulation of retirement, I should say. They may not think to introduce you to that person, because they didn't necessarily experience that from you, because they were just at a different stage of life. And the third component is going about soliciting referrals. So that's what Chas was just referring to. Now, let me ask you this Chas. So before the deal with Modera, share with me at the peak of Independence Advisors, what was the amount of assets that you guys successfully accumulated over that over that period of time?
Chas Boinske 16:08
Well, I guess that would be the day before we merged. So that was about somewhere in the neighborhood of one and a half billion dollars. 1.5.
David DeCelle 16:17
Okay, so $1.5 billion. And I feel like there's different checkpoints, as you're building a book of business. I feel like it's zero to 100 million, 100 to 250, 250 to 500, and then 500 to a billion, and a billion and beyond. And there's various challenges along the way. Over that journey from essentially zero to a billion and a half dollars, what were some of the challenges that you had experienced throughout that journey?
Chas Boinske 16:46
Well, there's, certainly there's a lot. That's a long period of time, 20–28 years, 27 years. So one of the most important evolutions, I would say, that was probably born of challenge, was the evolution from a very investment-centric organization to one that was more planning-centric than investment-centric. And it was important for a number of reasons. But most importantly, from our perspective, it was important, because we wanted to make sure we are delivering the investment solution that made the most sense for the client. And the best way to put that into context was through planning. So we developed planning process about midway through that 27 years, and I'm sure that added tremendous value to the firm. But also it added value to the firm, I believe, because it added value to the client relationships. And it enabled us to focus on what really was important, which was where they're headed, what they're trying to accomplish, how they're going to get there, and use the investment portfolio as the engine for that plan.
David DeCelle 17:53
So the transition from investment-centric over to financial planning, talk to me about some of the human capital management challenges over that period of time. Because obviously, the scale to a billion and a half, I'm sure the team changed from the initial you and a partner and a couple other folks. So what were some of those challenges like?
Chas Boinske 18:12
It was three of us in the beginning. And we ended with, by and large, including part time people, 13 or so. So the reason, the challenges that were associated with that, were number one, if you're going to run an organization that has as few participants in terms of employees as ours did, you have to make sure that each one of those folks is at the top of their game, right? They have to be really good quality people. And the way you do that, in my view, was to continuously reinvest in them. And so we took a little different approach than some organizations take, which is, we tried to elevate every position. We knew we could get the clerical sort of work done through Schwab, which was our primary custodian. So I searched for those people that — or we searched for those people that we thought had the best ability to evolve in their responsibilities and leverage the service model for the clients and keep the costs in line, which was really important for all, so that we could continue to deliver the high level of client service that clients have become accustomed to.
David DeCelle 19:20
You had mentioned continuously reinvesting in your team. How did you do that? Is that courses and classes for them? Is that happy hours? Is that a nice new desk? How do you actually go about reinvesting in the team?
Chas Boinske 19:35
Yeah, when I talked about reinvesting, I’m talking about designations, etc. So, we encouraged all of our client service advisors. We encourage them to get their register paraplanner designation. They got their Series 65 even though they weren't acting in advisory capacity. It elevated their understanding of what's going on with portfolios, and the legal issues that you have, and all the important things that you need to be aware of as an advisory firm. But it made client problem solving much more effective, because now you have a lot of people in the organization whose radar is up and finely tuned to the kinds of issues that they've learned about as a registered paraplanner, or as a Series 65 registered person, and it just added another layer of radar. I mean, it's really what you need to do as an organization, is always be in tune with your clients and their needs, and their needs are evolving, and making sure that you're being responsive to those needs, and proactive. And having that finely tuned, intelligence gathering system is the best way that I would refer to it. Maybe that doesn't make sense for a lot of people. But it's really making sure that as information comes in, in the form of inquiries and phone calls and requests, that you have the staff that's available, that your staff is fine tuned to understand not only what that request is, but what the implication of that request may be. Does it provide an opportunity to improve something in the service model? Is there a threat? That made a huge difference, I believe.
David DeCelle 21:02
There's sayings in a number of books that I've read, where in order to take care of your customers or clients, take care of your people, your staff. And I feel like, as they're getting designated and trained, and they evolve, it gives them an uptick in their confidence, which then allows them to serve the clients better so that they're truly an extension of you and an extension of the experience as opposed to just someone doing administrative oriented stuff. They're interwoven into the experience. So pivoting slightly, so one of the things that we’re really passionate about, we think it's quite frankly a necessity, so that your marketing and branding is aligned with making sure ensuring that you're able to scale appropriately, we think it's very important to be able to niche down to a specific group of people. Now, our initial belief was that those niches include, not limited to, things like the retirement space, or potentially entrepreneurs and business owners, executives, people in the medical community, things along those lines. And we had the belief up until meeting you that niching based on a particular passion wasn't overly effective, or at least maybe not overly effective, but it wasn't as predictable as those other categories that I just mentioned. So for you, I know that you've had both a lot of success and a lot of fun with your niche. So the niche that you've decided to focus on that has been an outstanding business development tool, from my understanding for you, is fly fishing. So help me understand, and I'm going to ask a lot of questions around this, help me understand what initially got you into fly fishing before even maybe being in business.
Chas Boinske 22:47
So let me just backtrack one second and say before I answer that question, we have had the traditional niches as you know, as well. We have a niche in anesthesia, for example. Those work very well because you can leverage the experience with a particular group and become an expert on the issues that that group faces. And it's intuitively sensible, it just makes intuitive business sense to do that. Fly fishing is a different thing. These sorts of non-business-related things. And so I originally got into fishing, I've always been an outdoorsy person. My father would take me into the mountains of North Central Pennsylvania, around Blossburg, where his family was from, at an early age; and I remember fishing and hiking and all those sorts of things. And so fly fishing was sort of a natural outgrowth of that. I would always fish when I was a kid, ride my bike to the local streams in Manchester County, Pennsylvania, where I grew up. I always like the peace of it. I always liked being by myself, I'm an introverted person, I'm not an extrovert, so I go recharge on a trout stream. So when it came, the fly fishing sort of niche was an accident, to be honest with you. It was a natural outgrowth of something I love to do with people that I enjoyed. And it was just a natural thing for me to offer to clients, and friends of the firm or whoever, because I enjoyed it. I was passionate about it. I had some experience in it just over the decades that I've fished. I knew where to go, how to fish, I had extra gear — so it started with just taking people fishing. I mean, because I liked them. I mean, it wasn't really done for business reasons. It was done just because of the experience. It's hard to explain. But what I learned was, over time, for me to organize that and do it efficiently, I had to create some sort of organization. So we created a fly fishing association. And it has no rules and no membership requirements. You don't have to be a client, that kind of stuff. But we just started organizing events because we liked it. And what ended up happening, and this was sort of a probably a natural progression, but when you spend time with somebody that you advise — on a trout stream or wherever it might be, but in my case it's a trout stream — and you really understand who that person is, you’re away with them for a couple days staying in a cabin on a stream in Central Pennsylvania, or Yellowstone Park or wherever you might be, you really understand what makes them tick. And as a result of that, it allows you to deliver advice more effectively. Because you understand what their communication style is, there's a certain amount of inherent trust that's built up, they're more likely to take your advice because of the time you spent with them. At least that's my theory; and it's totally natural, and so enhanced. It was originally done to spend time with people that I met through business, principally, primarily, whose company I enjoyed, who I wanted to share one of my interests with; and it turned into something accidentally, that was much bigger than that. And so we started having dinners, once a year, pre-COVID of course, where we bring a speaker in from Yellowstone Park, or wherever it might be, to talk about fishing. And we'd have a hundred people there and we'd feed them dinner and there'd be no charge; we’d do it just for the love of the sport. You didn't have to be a client; we would never talk about Independence Advisors in these dinners. It was there for fishing. That was it. But when you're authentic about something like that, you don't have to talk about — at least in my experience — you don't have to make it a commercial for your company. A matter of fact, it would kind of be, this is one man's opinion, but it would kind of be distasteful, because it's your passion. Like, why would I want to turn my passion into a commercial? I just, I wouldn't do it, it would be inauthentic for me. And so as a result, it became a very authentic way to meet people; people became interested in what we did as a profession, sort of tangentially to fishing. And it was the best thing I ever did.
David DeCelle 26:44
So a couple quick questions to get some data points. And I'd be shocked if you actually track this, so I'm going to look for your gut reaction. How many people would you say that you've taken fly fishing, were already into fly fishing, compared to people that you introduce the sport to?
Chas Boinske 27:03
I would say it's, it's more than half had never fly fished before.
David DeCelle 27:07
Okay, and what do you think was the result of your fly fishing passion, specifically as a relates to a AUM? So of the 1.5 billion, and obviously there's a referral tree that occurs over time, so it's tough to directly quantify it, but what's your gut tell you of the 1.5? What do you think came from your passion?
Chas Boinske 27:26
It's hard to say because some of those some of those relationships preexisted fishing, etc. But you don't know whether having a better relationship with a client keeps them more attuned to your advice, and thereby a client longer. I don't know how to exactly quantify that. But I will say that it's not insignificant. And I would imagine, it's somewhere in the neighborhood of 10% of the assets, somewhere in that ballpark. But it's really hard to say. I will say that I never hesitated to sponsor a dinner or a trip to a fly fishing show or whatever else we did. I never worried about the cost. Because I knew we were either reinvesting in the relationships of existing clients or getting exposure to potential clients, or probably more importantly, just doing the right thing for the sport. The more fishermen you get, the more attention is paid to clean water, that's more attentions paid to resources, natural resources. And at the end of the day, that's really what I cared about. I cared about the preservation of resources in the sport of fly fishing, first and foremost. Everything else was a collateral benefit.
Patrick Brewer 28:57
Hey, Model FAs, I know you're enjoying this conversation, but I wanted to take a quick break to talk to you about the Model FA Accelerator. This is a unique collaboration between us and you, where we help you build a financial advising practice that you can be proud of. We focus on the foundational concepts around how to pick a niche or a specialization, how to price your services, how to construct an offer that people are going to buy, and then how to market it and sell it in a way that will get people to sign on the dotted line and become clients of your firm, all while giving you the information to scale and set up workflows and operational processes that will allow you to reclaim your time and build a practice that doesn't run you. So if you'd like to hear more about that go to www.ModelFA.com/accelerator or www.ModelFA.com. Hover over Work With Us and click on Accelerator. Hope to see in the program.
David DeCelle 29:22
What I think is interesting is, and I find this a lot in my life specifically, I think in most people's lives, anytime I'm chasing money, can't find it. Anytime I'm chasing good and trying to be others focus, the money just happens to appear at the right time and the right amount. So I'm curious to know fly, fishing has obviously resulted in business, which is great. While fly fishing, you don't really talk about business because you don't want to be disingenuous with why you took them out. But as a result of fly fishing, you've probably got an additional wallet share. Maybe they brought a friend that ended up becoming clients, or maybe they introduce you to someone shortly thereafter at some point in the client relationship. So I guess my question would be, the example that I would use for myself is if I took someone out golfing, you don't want to be the guy at the country club who is just pitching your products and services the entire round. That’s a very quick way to all of a sudden have trouble finding a foursome to go out and golf with. So I guess my question is, how did that transition happen? So if you went out and you hung out with people on a personal basis, how did business actually get brought up? And when? Because I feel like a lot of people struggle with when to bring that up, or if bring that up. So it’s resulted in business for you, yet you didn't lead with it. So help me understand what that bridge is.
Chas Boinske 30:46
If it was a non-existing client, it was totally their call. So I never would, and this is going to be a strong statement so brace yourself, I would never dishonor the thing I was really passionate about by being aggressive about business as a result of it, if you know what I mean. It just, it wouldn't be right for me, as a person; it might work for somebody else, but for me, that would undercut the whole reason why I did it in the first place. And it never occurred to me, it's just not my nature. So I would set the table and have a great experience. And if that person wanted to inquire about what we did otherwise, I'm more than happy to help them. I just never, I didn't take that approach. And it was a slower game as a result, but it was comfortable for me. And it may or may not work for somebody else, but that's what worked for me. Well, most of the people who went on a trip or came to a dinner knew that this was being sponsored by, one way or the other. They either came as a guest of an existing client. We did some Facebook advertising where people can do due diligence, they can see. It was called the Independence Advisors Fly Fishing Association, so we didn't make a mystery of it. So we left breadcrumbs if they wanted to do their research, but it was never an in-your-face sort of approach.
David DeCelle 32:03
So at what point in the relationship, did business come up? Did you just purely wait for them to ask what you did? How would they even know to select themselves into what process?
Chas Boinske 32:14
I did what I thought I would want to have done if the relationship was reversed. It just worked really well. And it feels good, I don't lose sleep at night thinking that I'm twisting somebody's arm or whatever the case may be; it just feels totally natural. So I was blessed with the ability to think a little bit longer term than some people have to think. I never worried about it from a short-term basis. I was always, always, always playing the long game.
David DeCelle 32:39
Well what I like about that is, so as you know, in part of our program, we have a system called the exponential relationship system. And the whole idea is so many advisors have to sell a prospect to become a client, and they're pitching products, services, pricing, performance, process, all that type of stuff. And what we believe in is getting prospect, I should say, to become a client and want to buy in by strategically and intentionally advancing the relationships ways in which don't seem like it would be part of a financial advisor’s process. Oftentimes, they're sending a market commentary, or they're sharing their process, or maybe a reference; and you're advancing the relationship on more of a personal basis, and really buying into the idea which, quite frankly I think is a fact, which no one is going to do business with you if they don't like and trust you first. So you really focused on the like and trust part to begin and then everything else seemed to fall into place from there from a business and revenue standpoint.
Chas Boinske 33:45
Well, more importantly than that, David, was the fact that if I didn’t form the — this is the honest truth. I realized at some level, if I didn't form a fly fishing association, I wasn't going to get to fish very often because I was building the business, right, running a business. So this gave me an excuse to spend time with people I really liked, doing something I really liked to do, that I otherwise probably wouldn't get to do because everything else gets in the way. So it created an excuse.
David DeCelle 34:08
And not for nothing, but every time you went out to do your passion, any expenses incurred you got to write off too. Well anytime you want to go out, you were just able to say at home, now hon, it's for business.
Chas Boinske 34:25
She would see right through that. I didn't tell you but we've been together since we were 18 years old. So she's she knows all the tricks. But the nice thing is this office I'm sitting in right now is, I don't know, 500 yards away from Class A trout stream. So, you could take, somebody came in for a meeting, and they showed some interest, you could drive them down there and point the trout out to them.
And say let's go get them, and then they come back another day and you can see them and you're out in the nice part of the country. And trout, generally speaking, don't live in lousy places. So you go to nice spots to fish, and it's peaceful, and there's so much that sport has to offer.
David DeCelle 35:04
So I want to learn something that's totally off topic as it relates to financial planning, and more specifically around fly fishing. So to give you, I'll be vulnerable here, to give you some context, I'm not big into fishing. I'll go, but I want someone to take it off the hook, I want someone to do all that type of stuff. It's not really my cup of tea. So I have no idea of what a Class A stream is, help me understand what that means in relation to other classes?
Chas Boinske 35:30
Well, Class A would be the highest quality water, natural reproduction of fish. The state of Pennsylvania rates streams based on the aquatic life in the stream and how well the fish reproduce, and just the general habitat. So Class A is the best you could have, and Pennsylvania is blessed. I mean, in Center County where I have a house, which is up where Penn State is, I think there's 32 named fishable trout streams in that county. And most of those streams have a population of wild trout. So, give you an idea, Pennsylvania's an incredible resource.
David DeCelle 36:05
Learn something new every day, if you ask questions. Thank you.
So pivoting slightly, I know you're an avid reader, as am I. So I appreciate the fact that you're continuously learning because I think, and I forget who said this saying, I should probably figure that out so I can give them credit. But you're either green and growing, or you're ripe and rotting. And I think for someone who's had the level of success that you've had, for someone who's been on this earth, as long as you have, it's easy to say “I got it figured out.” But I feel like you're always trying to learn something new and grow your brain, so to speak. So I know one of the books that we talked about before we started recording that's most fresh in your mind — and for those of you listening, as a reminder, really want to promote learning in the industry and make sure that we're continuously working that muscle. So it's a book called The Trusted Advisor. Tell me a little bit about that book and why you think others should take a look at it. What was the impact that had on you?
Chas Boinske 37:01
Yeah, well first, it's a must-read. It's the first book I came across in the industry, and it's really not investment related. It's how to be an advisor in any situation. I came across it in or somewhere around 2001, when it was first published. And I read it, and I thought, Holy smokes this book, he's actually articulating what I'm doing, but it's much better. It's a much better articulation, it makes a lot more sense when you read it. And he actually quantified some things and created some formulas. But the idea is that in order to enter into a trusted relationship with a client and reach the pinnacle, which is really being a trusted adviser, it requires you to take some risks. It requires risk taking; risk taking in the relationship; risk taking that you're not going to make the most money in the short run, because you're doing the right thing for the client.
David DeCelle 37:51
What’s an example or two of risk taking that you're referring to?
Chas Boinske 37:53
Well, let's say, one of the important concepts in the book is this idea of setting aside the outcome of the meeting, separating yourself from the outcome of the meeting and making that meeting all about that person. So for example, you sit down with a prospective client. Don't worry about whether this client fits in your niche or is someone that you can sell an investment portfolio to. Figure out what the person's pain point is, and help them solve that, regardless. And if you do that, and just put people first all the time, it's like one step above being a fiduciary. A fiduciary is when you implement, you're doing what's in their interest. But this is before implementation, right? This is like, man you're a human being, you've given me the courtesy of coming to see me, so and so has referred you — which is how it mostly happens — I'm going to honor that by taking care of you and making sure that when you leave here, you're better off as a result of this interaction. That's all I care about. And when you do that, that builds trust, because you're taking a risk, you're investing your time with that individual, cost free to make sure that you're setting them on the right course, even if it doesn't mean them working with you, or even if it means them not working with you in the future. And that's an example of what I mean by taking risk. You're taking risk with your time. It's so important, and so counter to how most people go about trying to grow their business. I'm a firm believer, if you can get your head around it and become comfortable with those concepts, you'll become a better advisor. And as a result of being a better advisor, you'll grow your business faster, and it's extremely powerful. So he talks about the importance of intimacy, which is really getting into the nitty gritty of what the issue is with the client. Not, I need to earn 9% rate of return. What's driving that? Why do you need to earn it? What are you trying to achieve? What's important to you about money? What responsibilities do you feel? What's your biggest worry? All those sorts of things that are more touchy-feely than the numbers but enable you to offer better advice and achieve that level of being a trusted advisor. Are you the person that they call when the chips are down? That's who you want to be.
David DeCelle 40:01
I agree, I couldn't agree more. I feel like oftentimes advisors and people in an advisory capacity regardless of their profession, someone who gives advice for a living, I think oftentimes they can get stuck in trying to fill out the checklist so that they can be prepared to show them something, whatever that something is, to monetize it. And I feel like when you take the approach that you just mentioned, they can feel that. And there's another book, I don't know if you've read this one by Tony Shea, called Delivering Happiness. It’s probably one of my most recommended books, one of the first books that I read when I started reading again; and essentially, if I sum it up in a phrase, it's, make sure that every time someone comes across you, they feel like it's their birthday. Think about your birthday, when everyone's reaching out to you, you feel on top of the world, you feel like people care, and it's an awesome feeling. And in addition to that, you mentioned the word intimacy, really trying to understand the issues of the opportunities at hand with that client. I feel like intimacy also works in the other direction, where a lot of advisors want that professional feel and there's a wall up between their professional in their personal life. And therefore, you become somewhat unrelatable, and I think the prospect of the client is less likely to really like you, as a human outside of an advisor, take your advice.
Chas Boinske 41:24
If you're a subject matter expert, which is one of the stages on the way to be trusted advisor, we all started out as subject matter experts, and we thought that I'm going to wow, these people with my knowledge. And I am going to come in there, and I'm going to show them; talk about Roth conversions and all this kind of cool stuff — which is important, don't get me wrong — but you hang your hat on the technical. What I've found is that you reach a point where the technical is table stakes, it's like it's expected. But what's not expected is your ability to develop that relationship so that you can put the technical to work in the most effective way for that client. That's what separates the trusted advisor, in my view, from just a transactional subject matter expert. It’s really reaching a point where you can pull from the quiver, that technical, and really precisely put that in place for that client, because you understand their situation so well. And that's scary for some folks to try to make that evolution.
David DeCelle 42:26
Well I also think, too, when you connect with them on that human level, outside of the technical aspect, performance, process, whatever, it makes the relationship that much more sticky. Because inevitably, over a 20- or 30-year relationship, there's going to be a point in time where something gets messed up, whether it's logistical or administrative in nature, whether it's performance; and those people, if they have that personal bond with you, they're that much less likely to make a transition and be forgiving if you're transparent and vulnerable along the way with whatever that mishap actually was. Whereas, if you're just the financial advisor, they're going to go and find another financial adviser. But if you're Chas, they're not going to go and find another Chas. Because they like you as a human.
Chas Boinske 43:11
Yeah, at the end of the day, it's good for business. And it's good for business because it's good for the client. One of my clients and mentors always says to me, you want to do well by doing good. You don't want to do well by jamming people into products that they don't need or whatever, which happens too often in our industry. You want to do well, everybody does. It's just some people haven't been shown a way to do it. And The Trusted Advisor book really helps, could really help, open your eyes to a really legitimate way of doing this from a really well-respected guy, by the way, Charlie Green, who is a phenomenal speaker. Matter of fact, you mentioned the podcast; I just recorded a podcast with Charlie about this topic. And so it just was published yesterday, the day before, at ModeraWealth.com. So on the website. It's also on Spotify and Apple podcast, Google podcast, and all that stuff too; all the usual suspects.
David DeCelle 44:06
Oh, cool. Well, Chas, this has been very insightful for me. I've learned some new things. I think it's affirmed some things as well, which makes me happy. And you just mentioned Modera. If people want to follow along with your personal journey, I know you're on a variety of social platforms, where can they find you if they want to connect?
Chas Boinske 44:25
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, all that; again, all the usual suspects.
David DeCelle 44:33
Cool. And those will be in the show notes as well. So if you can't find them, just scroll down a little bit on whatever platform you're listening to this on, and there'll be links to all those social profiles. So before we wrap up and head into the after-hours portion, couple asks that we have for listening to this episode. Hopefully you found it to be valuable. I know I did. So if you found that valuable, click the Share button. Share it with someone either in the industry or outside the industry. I feel like there was some industry specific stuff, but also industry agnostic stuff. So feel free to share this, give them a reason to listen to it, don't just share the link. The second ask that we have is it would really help for overall visibility if you left us a review on iTunes. And if you go ahead and do that, just screenshot that and shoot me a text at 978-228-2338. Again, that's 978-228-2338. What will happen is you'll get an automatic reply with a link to enter in your contact information, and I'll then get notified that that screenshot was sent. Do me a favor and just write Chas, C-h-a-s, along with that text message. And what I'll do as a thank you is give you access to Dan Allison's methodology that we had talked about earlier in this episode. It's a couple videos that if you actually implement it, it will totally change your business, and you'll experience some growth. But the key thing is to actually implement it and implement it consistently. I know a lot of folks have trouble with that. So they're sure friendly nudge to do so. So with that being said, we're going to head into the afterhours portion. But for now, Chas, I really appreciate you being on the show. Thank you very much.
Chas Boinske 46:13
Well, it's an absolute pleasure. Thank you.
David DeCelle 46:25
That was great. I feel like oftentimes, advisors need to be reminded to humanize themselves, figure out a way to align their profession with their passion, but also not blur those lines too much to where your passion dissipates over time. Because if you intertwine it too much, and you're too aggressive in those moments, you can start to despise it, because it may not be as effective as you had originally planned.
Chas Boinske 46:51
Or if you do it for the wrong reasons. Like in fly fishing, for example; if I did it, and the principal reason was to generate business, it would lose its appeal really quickly.
David DeCelle 47:02
And it wouldn't be as fun because you can't unplug at all during the activity that you’re able to unplug.
Chas Boinske 47:08
No, I love going on these trips. I love going on these trips and doing these events with people because it's just let's go fishing, let's go have a good time. Let's have experience together, that is going to be memorable, and maybe for you the first time you ever did this, and maybe it'll change your life. Maybe it'll give you something that you can do down the road. And a lot of successful people are looking for things to do when they retire. And there's few things better than fly fishing from this seat. And that's my two cents.
David DeCelle 47:39
Cool. Well, I will say that once it warms up, because I'm now in sunny Florida so I'm a baby when it comes to cold temperature now. But when it warms up, if you take me fly fishing, I'll take the fish off the hook myself. I'll get over my fears of doing that.
Chas Boinske 47:57
Yeah, trout have teeth, but they're not big. So there's no worries there, and I'd be delighted to take you.
David DeCelle 48:04
Awesome. Tell me about, so 1.5 billion in AUM. Over your career, what's the biggest client that you've served as a relates to total net worth?
Chas Boinske 48:14
Very significant. I don't want to say the number, just because it's very large, just from a privacy standpoint, I think. Just, I've been blessed servicing some really, really significant situations. And I think that comes from just always doing the right thing for the client, and in doing what you said you're going to do. Well, there's a couple things, being transparent, doing what you said you were going to do, taking risk on behalf of the client. I don't mean in the portfolio; I mean, not being worried about pennies, shortcut. And then always detaching from the outcome. Forget about what it means for you; how are you going to make this person's life better? That's all the matters.
David DeCelle 48:50
Love it. So I'm going to include your wife in this but I also want to know who else in your world has been one of your biggest cheerleaders to make sure that you're continuing to persevere. Things got hard and maybe you tripped and fell a handful of times. So share with me who in your world has always been there, by your side, from the beginning, to help you persevere through some of the tough times?
Chas Boinske 49:15
Well, I would have to say my mother. I lost my dad when I was really young, and so she said an example of just unbelievable hard work and perseverance through really difficult times. And so she provided a phenomenal example for myself and my brother and sister. And then I've been blessed to have a series of mentors in my career and friends, one in particular, that just in a very non-aggressive way, but in a very supportive way, was always there to provide encouragement, and to make sure that I realized the value that I was bringing to the table. Just a tremendous influence on me in the last fifteen years or so; it made a made a huge difference. If it hadn't been for this individual, I don't know that I would have ever done the transaction to buy out my partner. And it was helpful in the Modera transaction as well, just from a support standpoint. And so we're all sort of a composite of all these positive, and sometimes we're composite negative people, but I think we're, I like to believe that if we're getting better all the time, that we’re a little bit of this person, a little bit of that person. You are your own authentic self; you are the result of all these interactions. And if you have an experience, good or bad, and you don't learn from that experience and incorporate that experience one way or the other into the next version of yourself — I'm on Chaz version 2728, point six or whatever the net — you're missing, you're just missing an opportunity. So I think the temptation is to sort of get into a rut and do the things that you always did, and behave the way you always behaved. And I try; my wife Laura would say maybe I don't try hard enough all the time. But I try to get better all the time, and improve my communication skills and these things that are all important to all of us. It's just, life is too short, just to sit there on your hands.
David DeCelle 51:23
I agree. Last question to round this out. You've met with a lot of people. You've also spoke on stage a number of times throughout the world, actually. You'd mentioned when you were talking to Pat and I a while ago, I think you had done some speaking in Germany, as an example. And I know that I've been on this earth a little bit less than you. I have a bunch of embarrassing experiences throughout my career. I'm curious to know if you would be so kind as to share an embarrassing experience of yours throughout your career.
Chas Boinske 51:56
Sure. I'll share one that that was embarrassing —
David DeCelle 52:00
The reluctant “sure.”
Chas Boinske 52:02
Yeah. Right. I will share this because it ties together a couple of things that we've talked about. And you just mentioned Germany. It'll take me a couple minutes to set the stage for this, but I think it'll be worth it. So number of years ago, 2012, I think it was, I was asked by Dave Butler at Dimensional to consider going to Germany to speak to German advisors, because the German advisory industry continues to be some period of time behind ours. Some would say ten years, some would say twenty. And I've always liked the idea of going to Germany as I grew up speaking a little bit of German and learning a little German in school. So I said sure. And then I realized I'd got myself in the deep end of the pool, without water wings. And so I decided to go back with my wife, Laura. And every Saturday for nine months, we took German lessons; we had a tutor, and she was awesome. A real taskmaster, task master, native German. You had to be there all the time, we were there for three hours, it was full bore, no mistakes, no tolerance for any error. And she was unbelievable. And so we spent nine months getting my German back up to speed good enough that I could stand in front of a group and make my presentations in German because that's a big deal. So we developed these slides, and they were awesome. I mean, really, and we practiced and practiced and practiced. And so the appointed time came, I flew to Dusseldorf, and there's a hundred German advisors out there in the audience, and they're buttoned up. I mean, these folks had their acts together every — it was run by Dimensional and if you’ve had any experience with Dimensional, any of the listeners, you know that everything they do is really well orchestrated. So everybody had a tablet with a pen at a certain angle with two mints, chairs like two inches from the edge of the table. My time comes to speak, and I step up on stage, and my host who I’ve become very good friends with named Christophe Consular, Christoph introduces me to the audience in German. And I accept his invitation and at the conclusion of the introduction, I tell a joke, and it was a story about my family. And essentially, and this isn't the embarrassing part but I'll tell you just because it's funny, my grandmother took us to the wrong country when I was growing up to see where our ancestors were from. She took us to Holland, but our ancestors were from Germany. She just had read that they came from Rotterdam, that's where they got on the boat. It's not — they took an ox cart or something from Rheinland-Pfalz over to Rotterdam and sailed over to the US. They weren't from Holland. But we spent a week in Holland. It was awesome, but we went to the wrong country. It turns out, we did go on a boat. But it was, I mean, it was just funny. After my grandmother died, we learned, well we went to the wrong country. If you knew my grandmother, you would think wow, that's that makes a lot of sense. Because she was crazy, funny, and just that would have been something my grandmother did. But anyway, so I tell this story in German, they love it — because it fits perfectly with their vision of Americans where we went to the wrong country. We know we're from Europe somewhere, but we ended up going to the wrong spot. So I started my slides, and I'm in about the third slide and the projector breaks, or I did something wrong. I'm blaming the projector, but I probably hit the wrong button. And I realize I can't make the next slide. And you understand that I practice this for nine months. So if I don't go to the next slide, I'm in deep trouble because my German is okay, but it's not good enough to ad lib the rest of the presentation. So under my voice, under my breath because I'm mic’ed up, I said a minor curse word in German. I won't say it now. But you would know it. And it went out over the entire auditorium. And there was this moment of panic where I realized, Oh, my God, it was like the Lord saying this curse word from outer space, through this auditorium. And I looked up sort of sheepishly, and they went bananas.
David DeCelle 55:58
Well, because you said it in German, they can relate.
Chas Boinske 56:01
So I was embarrassed for about two seconds, and then I was a superhero. They thought it was the greatest thing that ever occurred. It was totally authentic. So that checks that box. Humanized me. It was funny, in the context of what was going on. And ever since then, I've gone back every year since then, sometimes on a couple occasions. I've developed great friendships in Germany; love that country. So that embarrassing moment on my debut presentation, to a hundred advisors — and since then, I've spoken to thousands; I don't know what the number is, but it's a large number — was embarrassing for a few moments and then turned into a legendary story. So sorry for the long-winded explanation, but you had to have the context.
David DeCelle 56:51
Love it. Well, glad you got, through your speaking, got to visit the country that you actually came from through all this.
Chas Boinske 56:58
Exactly, exactly. It was a it was a side benefit. But it turns out now we have goddaughters in Homberg. We've got friends in all the major cities. It's been, it's been a tremendous experience. So taking risk, right.
David DeCelle 57:14
Love it. Well, that's been a tremendous experience. This episode has been a tremendous experience. Our relationship, to me, has been a tremendous experience. So I appreciate the time spent. I appreciate your advocacy for us. I appreciate your friendship from afar. And I appreciate in advance going fly fishing with you here in the near future. So thank you for all that.
Chas Boinske 57:38
Well, that will happen. And you're very, very welcome. I've enjoyed getting to know you and Patrick and the rest of the organization. So you guys do really good work. And if there's any other way I can help you please let me know.
David DeCelle 57:53
Awesome. Thank you for that. For those of you who stuck around for the afterhours portion, appreciate your time. And Chas, thank you again. We'll, we'll be talking soon.
Sounds good. Have a good day, David.
Take care. You too.