As a result of the pandemic, many students lost their opportunity to gain real-world experience through internships and externships. Hannah Moore, CFP® and founder of Guiding Wealth, knew something needed to be done. Working with the Financial Planning Association, Hannah assembled a team and built a virtual externship to fill this void. Now, she has launched Amplified Planning, a video training resource, to further support the education of future financial planners.
We learned more about:
- The tools and approach she used to create and deliver the course with real-world experience (including client meetings!)
- Her process of assembling and growing a knowledgeable team
- The problem she thought she was solving in financial planning vs. the problem she actually solved
- The ever-evolving curriculum and program structure of the externship
- Amplified Planning CORE Subscription
- Online Course Creation with Kajabi
- Amplified Planning
- Amplified Planning LinkedIn
- Amplified Planning Facebook
- Guiding Wealth
- Financial Planning Association Learning Center
- “Top Resources for New Financial Planners”
Full Audio Transcript
Hannah, we are so excited to have you here. Thank you for taking the time to join us. Before the call, we're hearing a little bit about your background, which is absolutely incredible. I feel like you've lived multiple lifetimes with your career and have had so much success. We'll include a bio, and go into it a little bit more here, but for the sake of this conversation, we're gonna talk about a more recent initiative. I know you've been working on and have had tremendous success with Amplified Planning. So I just love to hear, how did this get started? I mean, what were you seeing and feeling in the market that really kind of spun up this idea to get it going?
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I'll tell you, as a financial planner myself, there were so many things I needed when I first started, so much of what we've been focusing on with Amplified Planning and our work with the You’re a Financial Planner Now podcast and FPA has really been me trying to fill a need that I had in my career when I first started. And so with Amplified Planning we have two main initiatives that are going on. One is going to be the externship that we run in partnership with FPA. And then the other is our Amplified Planning Core kind of offering. And that is a new meeting every month that we share with clients, a real client meeting where they get to watch my client meeting and the good, bad, and ugly of it all, and really get that firsthand experience of what does financial planning actually look like in practice?
So how it got started, and feel free to redirect me if you want, but with the externship, we were working with FPA national, really working on their new planner initiative. So with the Your a Financial Planner Now network, we were helping again, trying to fill the need that I had in my career. And so when 2020 hit and the pandemic was coming, it was coming in full force. Nobody had an idea if this was actually gonna be a real thing yet. I mean, I remember being on some of these initial meetings and being like, y'all are overreacting. Like this is just gonna go away, like everything else does. But it didn't. And so we were in these meetings and we were really looking at how can we help? How can FPA, which is a financial planning association, how can they help the community of financial planners out there?
And so there were lots of ideas, conferences were getting canceled and we kept hearing about students losing their internships. And we know what an important kind of developmental piece that is for a student's journey into the profession of financial planning. And so we kept hearing this from students that started trickling in, we started hearing from some professors and then it just kind of built up. And then we were like, oh my gosh, this is a really big issue. And FPA was really uniquely situated to address that issue of how can we help students who lost their internships. And so that's what we did. My husband works with me full time. He has an education background and a film and digital media background as well. And so we said, okay, let's take this on. Let's see if we can really help students who've lost their internships. And so that's how the externship really came about and then Amplified Planning came about after that.
Okay. So the externship, just for listeners if they're not familiar and you'll please stop me if I'm not good communicating it, but it basically walks a potential advisor or someone who's studying financial planning, whoever signed up through this sort of internship as a digital experience where they're able to sit in on real client meetings and learn from them. Is that right?
So the externship has evolved from the way we’ve run two of them already. We're gonna do another one again in 2022. And so what we wanted to do is show students what financial planning looks like in practice, right? That was our goal. And so every week we cover a different topic in depth, we'll go investment planning in one week, we'll go education planning in another week, estate planning, there's cash flow, planning, insurance planning, all the things that are really CU curriculum.
And so every week we would bring in three experts and it was really structured. I'll tell you, the first time we ran it, we had over 60 different financial planners that students were able, or learners were able to really get exposure to, but we have our three key experts every week. So on Monday they would share how that one area of financial planning looks like in practice for them. So different firms, different models, different clients, right? How does financial planning, how does this topic evolve? And then they would share deliverables. So all these planners would share, you get to see and compare the three different deliverables every week. And then what we would do is we'd bring them back for live office hours on Wednesday. So students could ask any questions that they have, and I'll tell you these externships are so much fun and students are so engaged asking questions, asking hard questions too, and really kind of diving more into what that looks like on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
With the externship, we really wanted to give the firsthand experience of what this looks like. And so students have access to e-money, Morningstar Advisor, Workstation, and other softwares that we would offer. So it was TD Ameritrade and Schwab, like their full education center. And so we would basically what we did is we created a virtual planning shop that these students could come to and learn the software. So then they would take those deliverables, one or two deliverables. We would give them assignments where they were having to recreate that. So they were doing the work as if they were in an internship, but for a lot of different firms. So that's really what we did in that first externship. We'd also bring in folks from FPA, they're really the experts on career development of what this looks like.
And so we would bring in other experts to really showcase, like here's other elements of planning, here's other ways to develop your career, really trying to show a holistic view of what they have as options for their career. We talked to a number of students. We did focus groups before we created this. And the number one thing students wanted from an internship experience, they wanted to be able to know what their careers were. And we were like, when we do this, we can knock that one outta the park. We can show them what their career options are. And so that's what we would do. We'd bring in people with different types of firms, we'd bring in some of the FinTech firms and say, here's what a career in FinTech looks like. Or this is what financial planning as an employee benefit looks like. Or here's what charitable giving would look like for a career option. And so really trying to show this holistic perspective.
That was all part of the curriculum, is that right?
Yep. That was all part of the curriculum. So each week we'd set up about 20 hours and we served our students. That's about how much work it was. So this is a really robust program. I think we had like 130 or 160 videos at the end of the program.
We had many, many hours of video content because we're teaching training on e-money, so students could get e-money certified in the program. So it was a very robust program. It qualified—the first year was 160 hours and the second was 180 experience hours with a CFP® Board. So if you're trying to get your CFP® designation, experience is a huge issue. And so you get that experience almost because we're really showing what planning looks like in practice. So that was the first year; the second year we brought in real client meetings. Because what we learned was that people just wanna see what financial planning is, maybe even before they can commit to all the money that goes into education, the years of your life that have to be there. And so we're really trying to shorten that, to show what financial planning looks like.
So people can make educated decisions of whether or not this is a career path for them. And so we thought we were solving an issue for students who lost their internships. What we realized is we were solving access to financial planning. We had high school students in this program all the way up to college students of every major, all the way to many career changers who were trying to decide if it was a second career for them or not. And so we were able, you know, 20 hours a week is not a small commitment, but we were able to give them this experience and then they could make that decision if they wanna become a financial planner or not.
That's amazing. So that first piece of it, I think you said there's 160 hours. Was that right?
160 hours is about 20 hours a week, give or take. It sounds like there's pre-recording of actual, real time. They're getting certified along the way. And then that layered on, I think you said it was 180 hours.
Yeah, that was the second year.
Okay. So that is the year that you brought in the real-time pre-recorded interviews with clients and such.
Wow. So today is it the original curriculum plus the recordings with clients?
Yep. So obviously we refresh the curriculum every year. We're bringing in new experts, fresh perspectives. We want, if a student takes it again, we want them to get new ideas, new exposure to new people. We wanna really keep that fresh on kind of that cutting edge of what financial planning is. So it is kind of a similar structure with the clients as well. And so we are bringing back our clients, John and Diana. So it's a couple who are trying to decide if they could retire or what that would look like. And so we walked them through that financial planning process, and it's pretty neat to get to do that with them. And we were so grateful. It was really fun at the end of the externship.
I had been talking to John and Diana cuz they're real clients of mine and they just got such a kick out of it that all these externs were following along with their story. And they agreed to come back and do a live Q&A. So we actually have a recorded live Q&A with my clients coming back and answering all of the externs questions about what they were thinking in the middle of this process. It was pretty incredible. They were so gracious to be able to do that. And really answering the question of what was the value of planning for them. Were the meetings too long, you know, all of those things. When did you know that you wanted to actually work with Hannah? They answered all of those questions that we think, and we kind of wonder what is going on in the client's mind. So it was pretty incredible.
That's so fun. I also admire that you didn't let compliance stop you from being able to bring clients to the table. Cuz I mean that is such a big, big deal. I mean, even photographing you, right? Like you need to get consent for things of that sort. So that didn't stop you and is providing so much value and then it's bringing value to the client as well. You know, that's a win-win. It seems so.
It is. And I'll tell you my compliance guy, he's been wonderful. And through all of this, I'm pretty sure he was like, you wanna do what? Do you know what your privacy rules are? And so he's been really great in working with me and we change all the client data, so we're editing all their client documents, everything like that. There have been some clients we have where we've blurred out where they're working, different pieces like that, but what's so great about it is we were really worried. I mean, when we had the idea, we thought, okay, well we could maybe pay somebody to come in and pretend that they're a client, but then we're just like, there's so many facts that go into it. And we had in the first externship, somebody did a recording, a mock client meeting.
And I just remember watching it and being like, hmmmm, they're hitting the elements but that's not real. That's not really what happens. And so we really debated if we should just pull in models and create new scenarios. And then we were like, no, we need to see real clients. We need to say their real reaction. So you get to see John and Diane's reaction when I tell them that basically something major has to happen in order for them to retire and that they don't have their savings up to speed. You get to see them process really difficult decisions of, should they do a home remodel? Should they not do a home remodel given their situation? You get to see medical issues that impact their situation. It is stuff that you couldn't script because it's so real and you get to see their real response to it. And that's not something that you can fake.
You're right. And it's only in a client meeting that you get to see that. So that they're willing to share, that is a gift. I mean, it's pretty incredible. I know we were chatting before that it almost feels like you've hit this chord of this new way of educating, with what people need and this digital age and providing this element of realness. And not sort of the ivory tower.
No, I completely agree. We have a pretty strict rule that we have in the externship of no PowerPoints are allowed.
No way. Really?
Oh my gosh. Well, how do you get around it?
It's so boring. We basically say you need to be able to show us the document. You need to be able to show us what this looks like, but without using any PowerPoints. It is all very much experiential learning that we're focusing on. And what's so great is everybody, I heard so many people saying we're Zoomed out. It's like, no, we're not. I mean, yes, we are Zoomed out. But nobody wants to sit on a webinar. You look at how people consume content. Now it's a podcast; they want something to be engaging. They want to learn. But they really wanna be challenged. And that's what we were able to do with the externship. We were able to take all of those best practices and put it in. And we have people telling us how great it is. We have recorded testimonials and obviously written testimonials.
And I can't tell you how many people have told us. They're just like, it's like a Netflix show that you just wanna binge on. In this externship, you just have to keep going. And so that's really what we wanted to create with this. And then when you love financial planning, I mean, I love financial planning and so many of these externships do too. It's like you just want more; you're like, just gimme more. And that's how I was when I started my career. That's exactly what we found in this group. So it's pretty, pretty special. Pretty, pretty cool.
Well you've had, let's see, you're able to register 900 people and I believe that number's right. You've built an amazing base, right? Just with your connection, this podcast, actually being in the industry itself, but how did you get so many registered in such a short period of time? What did you do? What was your promotion plan like and your outreach?
Absolutely. So the first year when we opened it, it was like we opened the door, we had three weeks for registration. And so what was so neat about it is that we filled such a need of students who were losing their internships on so many levels. So we opened it up and I remember within like three days, we had a hundred people registered. It was a free program. It was literally us saying, we wanna give back to students like that. This is really what it is. You need help; we're here to help you. And so because it was a free program, in the technology piece there were some issues with syncing it up. We had over 1,900 people sign up for it in those three weeks and that initial offering. So it was like a wildfire.
When we look at how we did this offer, it was so many people had a need and we were able to directly fill that need. We had universities from all over the country that were promoting it to their business schools that were offering internship credit for it. They were able to fill that need. For a lot of students, they had to do that for graduation. Reddit was a big referral source for us, which is just crazy. I don't know how that happened. But we asked how people found us. FPA also has 80 chapters around the country. So we were able to share that with their chapter list. And so there was a lot of word of mouth. It was so cool.
It was really the financial planning community coming together and providing help for their students. So I was getting calls from career centers that are wanting to know more about this externship program, because an FPA member out in Boston, who I've never met before, I had never heard their name before, called them to tell them about the externship so they could share it with their students because he thought that it would be able to help them. Wow. So we were just making connections all over the country, because we really were a solution when there wasn't a solution. And so that’s really kind of how the program kind of blossomed, and really how we got started. And nobody knew what they were getting into. My gosh, we didn't know what we were getting into, much less the students.
I’ll never forget, we realized at one point, I think it was a week into the registration, where we realized that we had high school students signing up for this. Wow. It's just crazy. And so we thought we were designing an education curriculum for juniors and seniors who lost their internships. And when we saw that, we were like, oh my gosh. And so we ended up changing it from a learning perspective. So somebody who has no experience of financial planning is gonna be able to complete the program. If you're a junior or senior in college, we're gonna be able to meet you at that level. Or if you have experience, we're gonna be able to meet you at that level too. We really wanted to make it accessible to everyone. So that's how we first got the word out. It was the media that we were able to connect with really, really big names in that experiential learning space.
FPA chapters and university professors were kind of, I don't wanna say desperate, but there was really just no solution and we were able to step in and then we provided an excellent experience for their students. We went all in, like we put our chips on the table on this one. I told you beforehand, my husband and I were both working anywhere from eight to 14 hours a week, seven days, six or seven days a week on this for three months to make this happen. But students loved it. I still get messages all the time from students. So it got word of mouth.
And so when we ran it the second year, we charged for it, so it was $199. Plus you need to be a member of FPA, which is $50 if you're a student and we had 940 people sign up for it. And so we really pushed hard; we have our email list and I'm emailing people every week to let them know we're sharing kind of my perspectives on a career in financial planning, what this looks like, what I'm learning, all of those pieces. We had the podcasts that we were running, You're a Financial Planner Now, and we had the network of financial planners, but then we really had word of mouth. And that's really what I think has helped this program tremendously. Because it's now known as a program. If people were just to put out a guide, a career path guide, they actually listed out the externship as something that people should consider doing. So we've really been able to integrate it into a lot of places where aspiring financial planners are gonna look to further their career.
That's fantastic. It does sound like word of mouth was really key, whether that was intentional or not. But as you mentioned earlier, you hit at this like a dynamo, and had the knowledge and the skill sets and the capacity to be able to take that on. And then how did you go about planning this curriculum? Because you had to unroll this product right. But with this new service offering, if it's just sort of it doesn't really pick up, how did you know what to put together so that it was an experience and it is an experience.
I went back to, well, this is what I needed when I first started. This is really what I needed. When we were doing the whole program, it was really fun. I was telling some of the externships that this feels like I'm creating an escape room of my favorite things that I'm just gonna share with the whole group of people. So I think people caught the passion. I love financial learning. I love the impact that I can have on people. And so that's really what we were doing in this program, really sharing that with people. And so bringing in experts. You'll see we do that with other course offerings in the Amplified Planning Core as well. And so we're pretty tight on that content and we are tight on the content on this, on the externship, but we have a lot of fun on it.
There's a huge community. I mean, the forums on this thing are just wild. People sharing resources, asking questions; it's so much fun. I have to give a lot of credit to my husband, from an education standpoint. I'm just a financial planner throwing things together, and he's like, I'm throwing things up on the wall and he's like, okay, well, like we can get to all this, but we have to reorder this entirely. And there'll be times, there were even times where I was like, okay, so here's what we wanna do. And my husband would be like, okay, and that's boring. He's like, I wouldn't wanna sit through that. How can we reimagine this to be more engaging? And so, it's a little bit frustrating in the moment, to be honest, but it's so good and so important to think again, how do people want to be learning? I think on our Amplify Planning website, I forget how we worded it, but Charlie is the one in charge of making sure that any of our content isn't boring.
I love it. No boring content.
No boring content. We want stuff that's really gonna be engaging. And now, like my parents might find it boring, but if you're interested in financial planning, you're gonna love it.
So the digitally minded person in me is wondering, okay, so you've got this role of no boring content, but then how did you actually build it? We talked a little bit about the studio and I’d love to hear a little bit about that, but were you using educational software to help plug this? How did that come together?
Absolutely. So we used Kajabi for the first year. And again, there is no good learning management system that fits every solution. There just isn’t. If there was, it would be the hands down winner, but there's not one out there. So we used Kajabi. This last year, we used a learning management system FPA has on their end. So we would record the videos like this, and we would bring in experts on Zoom. Actually, we didn't record 'em like this; this was a second year, anyway, we'd record Zoom meetings like this. Then we would just put this into learning management. So there was a whole pathway every week where we had videos for people to watch Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and there were many quizzes involved in it.
I think there were something like 90-something assessments or quizzes throughout the program. So we really built this out so we would have these videos. And so I would record the video. I would work on coordinating it with the experts. All of this, especially that first year, it was wild. Then Charlie would record it all and then he would then edit it to make it a really seamless kind of whole experience. I mean, you understand this, but you know, there is something about the polish that matters. Certainly in certain places where you can be really casual, I mean, I love my Insta stories. You don't have to be polished there. But when it comes to a learning system where you have short attention spans of people, they wanna like the same thing.
So it would have the same intro music. It would have the same lower thirds. It would have the same production quality every single time. At the end of the externship, we had these live events. It was so funny. Some of the students were talking and they were like, oh my gosh, is anybody else hearing that music in their sleep? And that was part of that polish we really wanted to bring to it. So it was easy to click on the next video. We didn't want there to be anything that would limit people from just moving on to the next piece.
Okay. That's fantastic. It's absolutely amazing just to see and hear a little bit more about how you all put that together too. I just can't even imagine having to do videos every single day.
Oh, it was wild. Yeah. It was wild.
It is wild. I mean, just the prep work that goes into that. There's so much work that goes into each one of those. How the heck do you find the time—having your own firm, being a mom? Getting this going, just the day to day of life, where did you fit it all in?
Yeah. Well, I told you a little bit of my career path, where when I was 22, I started working for a woman who was 68. Four years later, I bought her practice, then bought another small practice after, and it was just wild from the management standpoint. And it was pretty much anything that had been sold in financial services from the 80s to then I had in my practice. I learned a ton but I did what all the consultants said. I basically took my core financial planning clients instead of my own practice. So it freed up a lot of time. We had just hired somebody. So I don't do this all by myself. I think that should be a given, if anybody's listening to this, I don't do this by myself.
So when the relationship rolled around, we had somebody working full time. He had just started right before the pandemic hit. And so he was able to really shoulder a lot of what was happening with the practice at that time so we could really focus on this side of it. So even now, he's moved on, and we have a part-time planner, she's out of Ohio. So everything is virtual. She's a mom getting back in the workforce. It's really, really neat. So she helps me with my practice tremendously right now. When that full-time employee left, we filled it with two part-time employees. We have my peer, ER, who's so wonderful. And then we also hired an executive assistant for me. So she runs my email. She runs my calendar because all the scheduling just was so much; she does all of that now for me. It was really a hire to just clear my head of all of the day to day stuff.
So those are the people who helped me and my practice. My husband works with me full time so it's a complete competitive advantage there, from a work standpoint, to be able to have that level of production, like eye on everything and the education eye; it would cost me so much money to have that. So just from a work standpoint, but then also from a life standpoint, I mean, we're technically still in quarantine from COVID right now. And we're able to juggle that so much easier because we both work together. And so we both know what our workloads are and we know how we can reprioritize our work to make sure our family is taken care of.
We have in-home childcare, so that is tremendously helpful. And then for all of our marketing, we have a whole online team. So I ended up hiring a project manager, or an integrator, if you will, if you know those terminologies. So she manages the whole team, cuz I'm not a good manager of people. We have a copywriter that we work with. We have a virtual assistant who's putting everything on the site, making sure all the emails go out on time, making sure she's posting to my Twitter or Facebook or whatever the social things are. We have a graphic designer we have a retainer as well. So we have that whole team working as well. So people see me and they're like, oh my gosh, how are you able to do it all? Well, I don't, I have a whole team helping me do things.
And we've started simplifying our life too. We're now doing a monthly program for planners called Amplified Planning Core. Instead of producing, we send out like a weekly email and we have social posts and everything. But as far as really creating content, we provide one really amazing piece of content or course every month. And so it's been able to help me. So when I look at my calendar, I'm really spending two to three days on that and I'm really able to focus on that. And so I can kind of limit that on my calendar, which helps free up a lot more of my calendar and headspace too.
Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. Just transparency about how you keep it all running, you know, because I think there's so many of us where when something's done really well, it's like, wow, it's like a performance or something, but people don't always realize the behind the scenes and the hard work that went into that to be able to make it shine on the outside.
It’s always been these positions of growth, right? So when it was just Charlie and I, I had a video, like a podcast editor, right? So we were able to do that. And then we added on a copywriter because we were getting in so many fights about the copy. I'm like, I don't know how to do this. I'm not good at it. And he wasn't good at it. And so it's really easy to see something like this and be like, oh my gosh, I have to have this whole team. I have to be able to hire all these people. It's like, no, you start where you are. You're just like, what's your pain point? And then you just solve that. And then you just keep moving.
A couple years ago, I was talking with a friend. I mean, this was like four or five years ago before all the externships. And I was just talking about how fortunate I was and when my husband's working with me, full time, we're able to do some of these things. And it was just, it just feels so incredibly grateful and this friend, she was able to provide such good perspective. She's like, Hannah, you've been doing this for six years now and now you're here. And it just reminded me that these things aren't overnight successes. Nothing's an overnight success. This started before we were married, talking about what do we want our life to be like? And you just keep making a decision of what does that look like? And right now we're reevaluating. We stopped hosting the podcast with FPA and You’re a Financial Planner Now.
There was a Facebook group I was managing and still doing some odds and ends there. And so that ended at the end of 2021. And so now we're like, okay, how do we want to be structuring our life? We get to reinvent ourselves all the time. And I think it gives me so much freedom. Because my girls, I have two little girls, what they need is gonna be different. And I've just gained so much freedom and things can evolve and change and it's really good and healthy and it's something to be excited about and the change and yes, it's sad. I've definitely had those moments cuz you're giving up a part of your identity and some of these changes, but man, to be able to do this and to have a career and a profession, when you can do this, it's pretty amazing.
Yeah, it is. So it's super amazing. And it's empowering to hear you talk about it too, so I appreciate you sharing. And then if there's any advice you have to someone who is thinking about getting into this industry or wants to take courses, what would you say to them?
Well, my always hands down advice is stay curious. There's so much to learn. But if you're really looking at getting in, what I would do, I know I'm pitching my own product here, but it's Amplified Planning Core. It's $30 a month. We made it so cheap. If $30 a month is an issue, email me. Our goal is to increase access to financial planning; just sign up for that program, see a client meeting, get experience of what does the work look like to do these client meetings, join us on the call. You get to hear people, ask me questions about the meeting. Like, why did you do this, Hannah? It's pretty amazing. But you can really ask any questions you have for $30 a month and just get your toe in and see what it's like.
Or if you're like so many people that I knew. I mean, my gosh, I knew some of the most brilliant people who started financial planning when I did, so brilliant. They would be the most amazing financial planners right now, but they learned all this stuff. They had the education, they saw what was happening and there was just a fundamental disconnect. And if that's you, come join this program and you can just see what another way of doing financial planning is. We get so isolated in this field because there are not these clear career paths yet. If it's not working, please break out of that isolation. I'm telling you about our prior employee planning, join FPA, get into some of these communities, see how other people are doing it because I would bet that if you're passionate about financial planning, about financial literacy, about financial education, there is a place for you. It just might not be where you started and that's okay. So just know to keep going because your career really matters and the impact that you can have really, really matters and we wanna help support that.
Oh, fantastic. Well, thank you so much for your time today and just for sharing more about this initiative you have going and more about your background and really the behind the scenes and how you've been able to make it happen. So appreciate all you're doing for the community as well. So thank you for taking the time and sharing a little bit more.
Yeah. So thank you so much for having me and just thank you for all the listeners who've made it this far. This is just it. Gosh, I'm just so fortunate for what I do. So thank you.
Well like I said, we appreciate you sharing with the community and all you're doing to give back. So, for those who are listening, we'll include the show notes. We'll also include any links to resources. And of course, I’d love to include a link to sign up or learn more information about Amplified Planning.
Awesome. Thank you.
All right. Thank you.