Today’s conversation is with Barry LaValley. Barry is the President of The Retirement Lifestyle Center, an organization that helps “pretirees”, their financial advisers, their coaches, and other professionals they work with better understand the non-financial aspects of retirement. Barry is also a global speaker, a coach, and a true model of what being a “modern elder” looks like.
In this episode, we dive deep into client experience. Barry shares some effective communication strategies and expands on the five areas where a Fiduciary Advisor can add life-changing value to clients. We talk about the impact of women in the world of finance, and what makes retirement needs of women different.
Don’t miss one of our favorite moments, when Barry shares his belief that a good advisor of the future is going to be more like a coach. How are you preparing yourself to be a coach — and training your team to do the same? We hope you will find some practical ideas to try — and walk away inspired.
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Patrick Brewer: 00:21 Hey, Model FA's. Thanks for listening. My guest today is Barry LaValley, a friend from across the Canadian border who's warm demeanor is incredibly infectious, and someone who is a perfect example of how to intentionally practice habits that build connection with your clients as a key to your advising success. Barry is a leader in the focus on retirement, a global speaker and coach and is modeling what a modern elder looks like. Our conversation today dives deep into the client experience for folks approaching retirement. We talk about the impact of women in the world of finance and specifically retirement needs for women of the future. Our team has enjoyed creating this podcast for you and we are excited for the feedback that we're receiving. Please take a moment to rate and review the show. This really helps the podcast be seen by more people looking to learn at how to become a better fiduciary financial advisor. Share it with your team and your friends, too.
Patrick Brewer: 01:13 All right, here's my conversation with Barry LaValley. Barry LaValley, welcome to the Model FA podcast. We're super excited to have you in today. Barry is one of the foremost experts in retirement communication, and we're here to have a phenomenal dialogue about what challenges the modern elder, the new retiree is facing, and also just talk a little bit about the advice industry in general and get Barry's feedback on what's going on now, what could be happening in the future. So Barry, thank you so much for joining us.
Barry LaValley: 01:43 Thank you. I'm taking aback. You want the phenomenal dialogue. I wasn't prepared for that.
Patrick Brewer: 01:48 I don't know. I feel like you are. I've heard you speak at a number of DFA conferences, other industry conferences, so I'm super excited to hear what you have to say today.
Barry LaValley: 01:56 Hey, thank you for inviting me, and I'm excited also.
Patrick Brewer: 01:59 Awesome. Just to get started, you've been focusing on the retirement community for a long time, helping advisors with communication strategies, how to connect with folks that are getting close to retirement. What are you seeing right now? What are some of the big things advisors need to be thinking about as they approach people, let's say, that are getting close to retirement?
Barry LaValley: 02:20 Well, it's interesting because we are seeing a fork in the road. When advisors and clients were younger, the focus tended to be on the money and on building the pile, and retirement was a long way away. I think the biggest change now is there are so many things that clients don't know that if advisors take the same attitude and direction with their clients, you have the blind leading the blind. Today's client is looking at a period of their life for which there's no roadmap, and they're looking for guidance. I see the issue with advisors is many are not prepared to provide clients with that guidance.
Patrick Brewer: 03:00 So, why do you think they're not prepared? Is it because they were initially trained to talk about investments and product and things like that, or they just don't have access to those resources? They don't really understand maybe what they need to do in order to provide the client with that type of guidance?
Barry LaValley: 03:15 Well, there's a little bit of the latter. Certainly, there's stuff available that they can search out on the aging process, on what we go through as we get older, but they don't think in many cases that they should do that or need to do that. And again, the change for money. I mean, most of the financial advisors, or most of the retirement advice rather has been provided by financial advisors and so it tends to be more towards how much is enough? What are the tax planning implications? Let's talk about income. What's your number? All of those things. And, they're forgetting that you've got a client moving into this phase of their life with so much uncertainty, like is this the end? Is it the beginning? What am I supposed to plan for? So, the discussions tend not to focus on things that will actually help the client gain clarity.
Patrick Brewer: 04:08 Interesting. What type of questions, what type of conversation can the advisor have with people getting close to retirement that will lead to better outcomes for the both the advisor and the person that's retiring?
Barry LaValley: 04:21 The biggest change, I think, is the way that advisors conduct discovery. Discovery is learning as much as you can about the client so you can see how to sell them something. I know that that sounds cynical, and it's not meant to be, but a lot of advisors are trained to ask the kinds of questions that are going to lead to, “Okay, so how can we build a financial strategy?” I view questions at this point in a client's life as asking things so the client gains some clarity ... and there's that word again ... on where they are, where are they going, so that the client is actually going to have a better perspective on the financial plans that need to be made. That's the big shift that I see is that you've got to ask better questions, but you ask questions about life issues, needs, concerns, opportunities, threats, and in doing that, the client learns more about themselves.
Patrick Brewer: 05:18 Do you think that advisers should share really anything about the investment process, tax planning opportunities, financial planning in the discovery meeting? Or, should it really just be about where the client's at in the life stage and trying to help them achieve a level of clarity so they feel more comfortable even discussing things like that?
Barry LaValley: 05:35 Well, I see money certainly coming up, but I think it has to have its proper place. I always recommend that you start with life issues first, and that your role as an advisor is to ask as many good questions as you can and just have a conversation. And, then in doing that, you come to some conclusions at the end about what are the needs and concerns, what should you be thinking about? Now, I've been on a speaking program with a guy named Dan Solone, who I have a lot of respect for. Solon's discovery process is you don't talk about money at all. All you do is just ask questions about life, and then at the end of it you go, “Okay, where do we go from here?” Now, I like that. Mine's a little bit more structured, but either way we aren't focusing on the money because it's all about context, and we have to create, between the client and I, create context.
Patrick Brewer: 06:38 Okay, so after context has been created, do you generally recommend for the advisor to move to the next step in the process and start talking about the financial planning? Do you have a specific process that you recommend?
Barry LaValley: 06:51 I do. I do. We still want to stay above the line. Now, I've got this concept called above the line and below the line. Above the line is about people. Below the line is about money. So, we still want to stay above the line. Now, let me give you an example. A financial advisor does five things. They help protect family. They help and enjoy lifestyle. They plan for the expected and the unexpected, create a sense of financial comfort, so the client can sleep at night and build a legacy. So, the financial planning discussion is around those life issues. Now, the products don't matter. The solutions don't matter.
Barry LaValley: 07:35 It's just focusing on those five areas, and you make the shift to that by saying, “Okay, so we've got a good foundation in the area of where you are and where you want to be in your life. Let's shift gears and let's talk about these five areas where I can actually help you.” And then, you talk about helping family, which is helping children, adults, etc, adult children, grandparents, planning for the expected and unexpected. That's all the transition issues, all those things.
Patrick Brewer: 08:07 Yeah. I'm curious. A lot of our listeners are going to be in that younger generation of advisor, Gen Y, Gen X. Let's say 25 to 50 year old advisors that are really just trying to figure this whole thing out, and some of them have chosen to focus specifically on retirees. What advice do you have for the up and coming let's say modern tech-enabled adviser who's looking to work with today's retiree?
Barry LaValley: 08:31 Well, I have fun with them in my own workshops because I will say, “What do you know at 25 or 30 years old about being retired?” They think I'm about to attack them, like how dare you? But, in fact the answer is you don't need to know where I am in my life. What you need to know is where the experts are and help me understand a little bit more about myself. And, you can do that at any age. So, I see the role changing. You aren't the be all know it all advisor who's going to tell me things. You're going to act as the liaison between experts in the areas that we need to talk about or that are going to affect me and the issues I'm going to face. You don't need to be an expert. You just need to know where the experts are.
Patrick Brewer: 09:22 What type of advisors have had success that are, let's say, a little bit younger dealing with the retirement space today at higher? Are they higher EQ, very empathetic? Is there some level of commonality that you're seeing with folks that are having success dealing-
Barry LaValley: 09:35 Yeah, the higher EQ is so important, and one of the areas that I see that I think is very promising is the fact that so many more women are joining the profession. But, male, female, it doesn't matter. It's just if your EQ is high, if your ability to be intuitive, if you aren't threatening people, if you stay away from the numbers, if you redefine what an advisor actually is and does, and if you avoid doing anything that I could probably get for free online, I think you're going to be far more successful.
Patrick Brewer: 10:11 I think that's another good thing to talk about, this idea that information is now liquid. People have access to robo-advisors, they've got Robinhood on their phone one click away. How do you differentiate yourself in an environment where people can go to Google and let's say type in the latest on retirement planning or really any strategy?
Barry LaValley: 10:29 I can actually talk to a live person, so this thing of, “Well, you can't get a live person” ... but what those platforms don't have is the advisor. Therefore, that becomes the thing that separates the advisor from everybody else, and I think we're losing this, that what an advisor is going to create is experience, and that fits into what's going on in the world in general. You know? So, as business in general has evolved, we've gone from product to knowledge to service and now it's experience, so what we're doing is creating an experience, and that's what we're selling much more so than just something where the client walks away and it's cold.
Patrick Brewer: 11:17 Yeah. They're not buying the service. They're buying the full experience that the advisor has to offer.
Barry LaValley: 11:21 Of sitting down one-to-one with somebody.
Patrick Brewer: 11:23 Yeah, so the value proposition then, and I believe this to be true, the advisor's value proposition is basically what they believe as an advisor, the stories and experiences that they've walked through and how they share them with the client and build connection.
Barry LaValley: 11:36 I couldn't agree more. Good advisors now are telling stories. They're telling anecdotes, using metaphors, using analogies. It's conversation. That's all it is. It's the oxytocin response going back and forth between people, so that a client is just having a conversation and it's almost like going to your psychotherapist or something. That's the experience.
Patrick Brewer: 12:08 For sure. So, what are your opinions on the advice industry in general? I know there's, like we just talked about, a lot of automation, a lot of new things that are hitting the market. Are you bullish for the financial advice industry? Are you bearish? And, you're saying, “I'm pulling away from it.” Where do you stand as far as the direction that you think we're headed into?
Barry LaValley: 12:27 I'm cautiously bullish, but I'm very bearish for the majority of the industry. Now, let me explain that. I am bearish for the old line stock broker type individuals, the wire houses that still exist that believe that the value comes from picking the next great stock pick. I am bearish for those advisers who focus on the products still, and there are lots of them around, but on the good side ... and, we talked about EQ a little earlier ... I'm very, very bullish on those advisors who are nice, normal people who are actually more coaches than anything else. And, that's where I see our industry shifting too. The good adviser of the future will be more of a coach, a mentor, an educator, a catalyst and not so much a numbers person that again, I can get that for free somewhere else.
Patrick Brewer: 13:30 I agree. I agree. What are you noticing in emerging markets as it relates to financial services? I know you do a lot of speaking in Australia and the UK. Are you noticing a lot of similarities in some of these other markets? Is it different? What are your thoughts as far as international market?
Barry LaValley: 13:44 You know, I used to think it was so much different but what I find is people are people, so the advisor in Great Britain or in Australia, or etc, are still facing a lot of the same issues. Now, you have some particular issues. Compliance is just kicking the heck out of advisers [crosstalk 00:14:02]. Yeah, in Australia the government has basically told all the public that advisors are schmucks and therefore we're going to protect you.
Patrick Brewer: 14:10 [crosstalk 00:14:10] buy real estate in Australia. I feel like that's all it is is everybody's just buying real estate.
Barry LaValley: 14:14 Well yeah, but you still have a pretty good share market there, and you still have a lot of good advisors, but you've got the government against you and you're trying to establish what value is. Now, you have to reconfirm with your clients what your value is every two years, which is an interesting thing because-
Patrick Brewer: 14:33 Explain that. I'm curious. How does that work?
Barry LaValley: 14:35 Well, how it works is basically you don't have a client for life. Every two years, you have to re-up with the client, and what that means is that they have to sign off on dealing with you. So, your value has to be front and center. Picture this. You have focused on the money. You've focused on your ability to manage investments, and you get a two year period where you just get kicked. So, what's your value there? Right? You'll lose the client, and that's a cautionary tale for those advisors here who do that because the value has to be about something else. So, we have advisors in Australia who are really far down the curve or up the curve on that, and that's where I see the trend globally going is it's now back to being a focus on people because that's really the only place you can demonstrate your value.
Patrick Brewer: 15:32 Have you found any ways to tangibly demonstrate the value of advice? Because, you mentioned some of the components of the value advice, but I feel like for most advisors it's a really intangible process and maybe it's just always going to be that way, but have you seen any ways for advisors to convey the tangible, let's say, palpable value of advice?
Barry LaValley: 15:52 Well, we've seen a couple of great studies. A good study in Australia, good study in Canada, good study here where the value of holistic advice seems to be the one thing that is setting those advisors apart where people are getting benefits. We already know that if you take a holistic approach, and I want to define what that means, you take a holistic approach, you are likely to get more money from a client. You're likely to keep more money. You're likely to have a more sticky relationship. Right? So, that's what we've seen. When I talk holistic advice, it doesn't mean that you provide services in insurance and investment management and financial planning and banking and mortgages. “Oh, I'm a holistic advisor because look at the areas that I covered.” No. Holistic advice is looking at the client's total life picture and talking about all of those issues. Your visions and values, your family, your health, your relationships, family mostly, your social network, your lifestyle, your home, and this thing that we call financial comfort. In other words, what keeps you up at night? So, behavioral finance is becoming such a big thing.
Patrick Brewer: 17:08 Yeah, for sure. Have you seen any particular segment of advisors that have done really well with client communication? I mean, because there's a lot of advisors right now that they still swear by the whole “I'm gonna put fee-only fiduciary”, all these terms on their website and that's how they communicate. Even DFA, phenomenal company, great investment strategies ... I know you do a lot of work with them. I used to work there, but one of the things that they do is train advisors on how to talk about efficient markets and other things. I don't know how relevant that stuff is anymore. What advice do you have to an advisor whose maybe looking to rebrand away from fee-only fiduciary, those types of terms, or should they?
Barry LaValley: 17:50 It's relevant, but define what that means. For example, if you put “I'm a fiduciary” and that's supposed to set you apart, now from a client perspective, everybody should be a fiduciary. What? You mean there are some that aren't? Why are you deciding that's the thing that differentiates you. So, I see that as not the marketing issue that you should be concerned about. Other things that advisors say about investment management and about its importance ... You know, you go on their webpage, and on the front page is what the S&P is doing and all of those things.
Barry LaValley: 18:29 Now, you know, the old client, the client of the past would look at that. The big shift now is that we're seeing more and more independent single women who are now becoming clients because their husbands have died, and generally there's a big difference between men and women look at money. So, the value proposition that was set up for men who felt that the goal of investing is to big build a bigger pile is changed because of the way that men and women look at money in a different way. And, not all men and not all women.
Patrick Brewer: 19:10 Do you think this opens up an opportunity for more women to enter the advice industry because as you know, as well as I do, there hasn't been an overwhelming amount of female advisors, and I feel like we need more. Is this the opportunity or is there another way we can see [crosstalk 00:19:28]-
Barry LaValley: 19:28 No, this is the opportunity. In the United States, you're looking at somewhere around 18% of the whole advisor population are women and 74% of the relationships between advisor and client are man versus man, or man with man. So, what we need to do is bring more women into the business. I know Raymond James in the United States is trying to get their percentage of women as advisors up past 25%.
Patrick Brewer: 19:58 Interesting.
Barry LaValley: 19:59 I think that the future is going to be this woman on her own, and so we need people who can understand that there are different issues. Now, can men fill that role? Absolutely, but I think we need more women.
Patrick Brewer: 20:16 I agree. I'd like to get your opinion on niche marketing, but I've come across a number of advisors that are seeing this issue and focusing specifically on widows and women and financial planning, women in transition, but it's mostly men that I'm seeing focus on this particular segment of the market, and I feel like it leaves something to be desired because there's less of the ability to align and connect with that particular market. What are your thoughts on that? And, then also maybe we can start to discuss niche marketing. I'd love to get your opinion on that as far as focusing your message and trying to connect uniquely with the specific type of consumer.
Barry LaValley: 20:51 Well, I laughed and ... Look, I'm Canadian. Don't hold that against me.
Patrick Brewer: 20:55 I will not.
Barry LaValley: 20:56 Eh. My wife went to a seminar, and a Canadian company bought the rights to a very good book called Smart Women Finish Rich. Okay, but the problem with the book was it focused on product, and so the firm, the financial institution that bought the rights to it in Canada trained all their male advisors to deliver seminar to women. So, it was like, "This is a mutual fund. Can you spell risk with me?" It was like watching Mr. Rogers deliver financial planning advice.
Patrick Brewer: 21:30 Amazing.
Barry LaValley: 21:31 Well, that's what she said. She said, “I wanted to go walk out but I was going to punch him first.” Now, that's not what we talked about. The best seminars for women tend to be more discussion groups, because as with men, but maybe more so with women, you have a wide variation in the area of financial literacy. A lot of women are smarter than the advisors who are trying to advise them, but they may have ceded control over their family's finances to the man basically saying, “Don't bother me. You do it because you seem to like that stuff and leave me alone. Let me know if we're rich.”
Barry LaValley: 22:06 But, on the other side, you have a lot of women who just haven't paid attention at all, so you've got that wide variation and I think that you don't want to run a seminar where you're treating everybody like they're totally illiterate from a financial standpoint. You need to draw out the discussion and talk about it. Now, a male can do that, but if the man is going to take on a lot of women clients, widows, etc, and think that his value is to mansplain issues, that is not going to work.
Patrick Brewer: 22:41 Yeah, that's not going to happen. Have you seen any firms have success with different types of marketing activities? Client events, small group discussions, book clubs, anything like that? Anything that you've been seeing that has worked well that you might be able to share?
Barry LaValley: 22:56 Yeah, you know the whole coffee klatch thing where you get women together and talk about issues that are common to them and let them speak as opposed to you speaking. Those have been very successful in the United States. I know that BMO down here has done a lot of work. Now, BMO is a Canadian company, so I'm not going to say that's why, but they've done a lot of work in that area bringing speakers like Dr. Amy Dupree to go around and talk about what these issues are for women. They are different and they're expressed in a different way. So, I see that as being very successful. I see a lot of individual advisers, not on a firm level but on an advisor level where you've got male advisors who have a lot of widowed clients.
Barry LaValley: 23:44 Now, for those advisors who are envious of that, just wait. You'll get your chance because again, we're getting an awful lot of women who are on their own. Those advisors have found that it's about people versus people and that if you act as an educator and a mentor and a catalyst and a coach ... Coach is important ... that they're successful. On a firm basis, no, because I think firms are so scared of treating women as a niche market that they then throw the baby out with the bath water. Right? So, I think that it's dangerous on a firm basis to say, “Well, we're the firm that looks after women.” But, you watch. 10 years from now, you're going to get that.
Patrick Brewer: 24:32 I've seen a couple mostly robo solutions that have popped up around that. Sallie Krawcheck, I think has ... I forget what it's called. Ellevest or something like that?
Barry LaValley: 24:39 That's right.
Patrick Brewer: 24:39 And, there's another that launched that I don't think they really marketed themselves well enough and they ended up shutting down. Do you see a need in the market for an advisory firm to brand themselves specifically as someone who helps women with these types of issues? Do you think it's a little too early for that? Do you think that's not the right message to put out into the marketplace?
Barry LaValley: 24:57 Well, I worry about the robo-advisor part of things because then they have reduced financial planning, investment, management back to its number.
Patrick Brewer: 25:05 Investment advice, yeah.
Barry LaValley: 25:07 That's tough to do. There was an advisor out of Seattle that was also doing the same thing, but she's actually been successful in that her advice comes online, but you can also access a real person just to talk. I have a challenge with that though because you miss this, right? Like sitting here just talking, and you miss that. So, the face-to-face, which is expensive for the advisor, but that's the way you have to go.
Patrick Brewer: 25:34 It's almost irreplaceable.
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Patrick Brewer: 26:06 Love to get your thoughts on the new model that a lot of advisors have adopted where they're looking to work virtually with their clients, so being able to manage let's say 100 clients where they're charging a monthly retainer for their advice, financial planning services, investments, etc, and then meeting with people through Zoom, through Google Hangout instead of having the face-to-face connection. How important do you think the face-to-face connection really is, and do advisors really have the opportunity to build a virtual practice?
Barry LaValley: 26:36 That part of it scares me because we believe that if you can put the advice virtually, that's what you should do. That's a big mistake because people aren't paying for that. They won't pay for that in the future, in my opinion. Where the opportunity is is to have fewer clients and to have more of a personal relationship with them, because if we're only meeting virtually, and I mentioned the oxytocin response and let me explain what that is. Human beings are meant to bond. Okay? Oxytocin is the hormone that we produce. Don't worry, there's relevance here. Oxytocin is the hormone that we produce that bonds us to other people. If you and I are having a conversation, I like you but you know I'm having a heck of a time with your assistants here. They like me.
Patrick Brewer: 27:30 They do. They love you.
Barry LaValley: 27:31 What we need is to sit down face-to-face because you don't get oxytocin on a television screen.
Patrick Brewer: 27:38 Agreed.
Barry LaValley: 27:38 Right? Oxytocin is initiated by trust, or by a touch. In some cases, a lot of cases, we're now saying that the oxytocin response is the trust response, and so we need to sit down face-to-face because we need that feeling between you and I that there is something special here. When we talk about something special, you're not my advisor. You are now my friend. You know, advisors say all you're never friends with your clients, in which I think is bunk.
Patrick Brewer: 28:12 Yeah, I agree.
Barry LaValley: 28:13 There is a professional friendship that you have, but it's I've got to feel comfortable. I need to like you, so we need to sit down like this, and if I like you, I trust you and I'm open to your ideas.
Patrick Brewer: 28:29 So, what I'm hearing is advisors that want to organize their business 100% virtually, not meet with their clients in person potentially ever are fighting an uphill battle?
Barry LaValley: 28:39 Absolutely. Absolutely, but we want to make everything virtual, right? This is the way of the new world, but remember you and I talked earlier about the experience economy.
Patrick Brewer: 28:47 Yep.
Barry LaValley: 28:48 What do I get out of talking to a television screen?
Patrick Brewer: 28:51 Not a whole lot.
Barry LaValley: 28:51 All right. This is not like an episode out of the Jetsons. Don't worry guys. I'll explain the cultural references later, but you know where everything has to be virtual because what we're missing is we're missing basic human content and that's what I'm going to pay for.
Patrick Brewer: 29:07 I feel like people need that even more now because everything is so on demand. They're not building real relationships. If you can actually get in front of someone, sit down with them and ask them real questions and have a dialog, no one's doing that. There's really no competition for that. Everyone just wants to interact through the computer screen, and they're just trying to consume information, consume products without having to get to know someone else and having a discussion. But, once you sit them down, what I've seen is the stress just melts right off of them if you ask them the right question and then you can build that relationship.
Barry LaValley: 29:38 And, I feel good, and if I feel good, then I think, “Hey, there's some value coming here to sit down with you.” Again, it's not psychotherapy and you're not a psychiatrist, but gee, I feel good when I come in here we talked experience. My experience is good, so if I've got great experience, I feel good. I learn more about myself and I want to come back.
Patrick Brewer: 30:01 Agreed.
Barry LaValley: 30:02 I'm not likely to pay to sit down for an hour and see or hear you expound on this fund versus that, or smart data and all this other stuff that I don't even understand. What I want, I need two things from you. I need your head and I need your heart. Mostly I need your heart, and so I'll pay you for that. Heck, I've got personal coaches, business coaches.
Patrick Brewer: 30:29 I'm paying a financial advisor right now for that exact thing. He looks after my money. I have a CFA, a CPA, formally trained at Vanguard and Dimensional Fund Advisors, but I'm a business owner and I look at money a lot different than most individuals, and my wife is very risk averse the way that she grew up. She grew up in a different way than I did. We have different perspectives and mindsets around how we view money, and it's impossible for me to counsel her on those issues if we have differing opinions, so it just makes sense to bring somebody in who can mediate that discussion and add value.
Barry LaValley: 31:03 But, you know where there's a problem though, because how many clients can you have that kind of relationship with?
Patrick Brewer: 31:09 Yeah, not that many.
Barry LaValley: 31:10 Well, do the numbers. In a quarter, let's say you've got 100 families you're dealing with. I think you should see people at least twice a year.
Patrick Brewer: 31:24 Agreed.
Barry LaValley: 31:25 Heavens, if you can get four times a year, even better. So, what we need to do is to sit down with them, do some kind of a touch program where I'm touching you once a month with something and I'm sitting down with you, even to have a chat, and I know that's tough for advisors with remote clients, for example, where you think you can now do the whole thing because somebody lives in College Station and you're in Austin. If I can get you in front of me and we can just sit down and chat, I think that's so much the better.
Patrick Brewer: 32:00 What are you doing right now? What are you working on? What's going on in your business? How are you helping advisors?
Barry LaValley: 32:06 Well, I like this concept of the modern elder, and again, we talked about that earlier. The fact that people who are entering this phase of life that I'm in, in my mid sixties I'm starting to look at, all right, what are the opportunities here for me and what are the possibilities? Now, this is how I feel about my life, but it's how I think a lot of aging boomers are looking at their lives. They're looking for guidance. They're looking for a talisman, and so what I'm doing now is focusing on redefining retirement and what it is. I'm helping advisors understand that for a client, this is planning for the last phases of a client's life. In fact, one of the questions I ask in my sessions with advisors is true or false, retirement could be the longest single phase of your life? And, of course, the answer is yeah. We're living longer. It could be, but it's not.
Barry LaValley: 33:05 It's a multi-phase journey. From the time that I'm my age through to the time I'm in my late eighties, if I make it that far, I'm going to go through anywhere from six to eight very distinct transitions driven by my health, or the health of my wife. But, there's this period of my life where I am looking at the opportunity to do something. Maslow called it self-actualization. I want to make my life worth something, and so what I'm trying to do is help advisors understand that and help them redefine what this period of life is for clients, so that's where most of my work is now.
Patrick Brewer: 33:41 How are you delivering that information? Is it mostly through coaching, through seminars, workshops, information products? What has been the most successful delivery mechanism?
Barry LaValley: 33:50 Yeah, it's a combination of all three. I've written a couple of books in the last few years. One for clients called, So You Think You're Ready to Retire?, which is kind of facetious, but it's really focusing on what this phase is of life they're going to be. And, then the one last year I wrote with a fellow named David Heinz out of Australia called The Life First Advisor. The combination of those two really bring my ideas to the fore in some concrete form, and then I'm building coaching programs based on those, and then doing seminars and workshops with advisor groups based on that content.
Patrick Brewer: 34:26 Okay. What has been the most successful medium for you for getting the message across? Is it people read the book and they can implement, they read the book and they're like, “Wow, this is really transformative stuff. I think if I had some basic coaching around this, I could get up to speed and build out this deep client experience.”-
Barry LaValley: 34:42 No, I want them to read the book, and it is. It's been very successful for us. In fact, an advisor in South Africa was on holiday in the Kalahari in Africa, and he sent me a copy of my book propped up against a ledge and there's giraffes out there or something. So, I've got a picture of that. But, it's not that. It has to be, I think, personal coaching, workshops where you can relate one and one. Look, I'm doing the same thing you're doing. We're trying to create experience.
Patrick Brewer: 35:12 Exactly.
Barry LaValley: 35:13 Right, and so I've got to walk the talk and I'm trying to find ways that I can create the experience, and I'm at the point where I don't want to be so big that I have to put everything online and automated, but here's the scary thing with that because from a coach standpoint or coaching standpoint, you're always talking about how we have to get passive income. The challenge with getting passive income is that you don't get the personal experience, so I'm kind of between two worlds here.
Patrick Brewer: 35:44 Yeah, we've been kind of floating around in that space for a little while. We have a coaching program, information product. We've helped a lot of advisers, about 200 advisors around the world. We have a couple of clients in Australia, a couple in the UK. Most here in the states, but I feel like there's a way to cultivate that experience, but also deliver the information and the coaching in a scaled environment.
Barry LaValley: 36:08 Yeah, you do a hybrid. You do a live event, you do the hybrid, you do ... By that, I mean you do coaching calls, but you also do webcasts. It's the same thing as an advisor. Let's find a way that we can continue to touch them and move them forward in the process.
Patrick Brewer: 36:23 The other thing is, even if you did do it 100% virtually, what I realized is that I'm less fulfilled personally in my business if I don't have that connection with my clients as well. Even if I was making more money, if I don't get to meet with my clients and actually talk to them and build a relationship, I find myself less ... Barry, thank you so much for coming in. I really enjoyed our discussion. I'm looking forward to talking to you again in the future and really, really great to have you in the studio.
Barry LaValley: 36:49 This was a really great experience. I'm glad that I came.
Patrick Brewer: 36:51 Absolutely. We'll talk soon.
Barry LaValley: 36:52 Thank you.