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Company Culture & Values
March 21, 2024

We talked with Cary about:

  • How she created a community of women advisors and mentors who are on a mission to spark change in the financial services industry 
  • Creating a space in which future generations of women are empowered to lead
  • The ripple effect of creating an organic environment where everyone has a seat at the table

About Cary Carbonaro:

Cary Carbonaro is a renowned author, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and advocate for women in finance. With over 25 years of experience, Cary currently serves as senior vice president and director of women and wealth at Advisors Capital Management, where she champions financial empowerment for women. Recognized for her groundbreaking book, “The Money Queen’s Guide,” and her leadership in the industry, Cary has earned prestigious awards, such as the InvestmentNews Women to Watch and multiple appearances on the Investopedia 100 list, including ranking in the top four in 2019. Beyond her professional achievements, Cary’s impactful Rethinking65 article, “Where Are the Women Advisors?” inspired the creation of Fem Force, a mentorship group for women supporting women in finance. Through her advocacy and mentorship, Cary is driving progress and fostering diversity in the financial services industry, empowering women to overcome challenges and excel in their careers.


Featured Resources & Shoutouts


Enjoyed this interview? You'll love these:


Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:03):
Okay, well welcome. Thank you for being here.

Cary (00:06):
Thank you for having me.

Lauren (00:07):
Yes. Okay, so we were just chatting and I feel like I have seen you all over the internet between being interviewed, podcasts, doing speaking events. I was like, it is nonstop. And I was just sharing with you, I'm like, we've got to chat. I want to hear this story with everything you've got going on — author — it goes on and on and on. So I am really excited to just get your story and especially to talk about women and wealth and this whole world and how you're championing that. So before I kind of take over everything, I would love to just hand the mic over and let you do a proper introduction.

Cary (00:49):
Sure. So my name is Cary. I've been in financial services for 25-plus years. It has definitely not been a straight line. It's kind of been like this. It's much, much, much more difficult to be a woman in this industry than people know. And it's interesting because when I get asked all the time, and also to be a financial advisor, how much harder it is to be a woman in this profession — and people say, I've made it and I'm successful and I'm at the top of the profession or whatever — and I always say if I knew how hard it was, I wouldn't have done it. And people are like, what? And I'm like, yes, that's how difficult it is. But that's why my mission is to help women in this profession and also to change the profession, to make it more female friendly.

And it's a very big mission. It's the big, hairy, audacious goal that you almost can't reach. But I'm still reaching for it and I get there and I feel like I'm moving the boulder up the hill and then it rolls back on me. And so I've had a lot of challenges in my career and successes, and it's how you recover from them that makes you stronger and makes your story unique. But my fast answer to that is, so I wrote this book, “The Money Queen Guide.” I originally started writing in 2000 and, gosh, it's old now, it came out in 2012, really old. Yeah, I wrote it in 2012 right after my divorce. I had a very, very difficult divorce. And I wrote this book afterward to share my story about what happened to me and share it with others, and then also teach women what to do based on what I've seen with my clients and mistakes they've made and what to do in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s.

So that's this book. And that was my first incredible challenge. Then flash forward to 2019, and at that moment in time I was at United Capital. I was a partner, I was head of women's leadership. I was the voice of the woman. I was a fin life coach. I had a diamond level practice, which is the highest you could get. I was definitely moving the needle. I was doing everything I wanted to do in my career. I was number four, ranked in Investopedia's top 100 financial advisors. That was 2019. And then we got sold to Goldman Sachs, which was incredibly horrible for me. Horrible for most people but really incredibly horrible for me because I was told you are now no longer head of women's leadership. You are now no longer the voice of the woman. Your only job is to sit down, shut up, and babysit your clients.

Lauren (03:54):
Oh goodness. 

Cary (03:55):
I couldn't speak, I couldn't write, I couldn't go on TV. I couldn't go on social media. I couldn't have a voice. And it was pretty much like my heart and soul was ripped out. I couldn't do what I love. Help women. What I love. I couldn't even be who I am. I couldn't even be myself. And so it was the most incredibly challenging experience of my life. Even worse than going through my divorce. But very, very similar. Incredibly similar. I actually wrote in my second book, which is not out yet but I actually wrote a chapter on the similarities between going through my divorce from an abusive ex-husband and being at Goldman Sachs

Lauren (04:38):
The parallels between it, emotionally, financially.

Cary (04:43):
Could not believe how similar it was. But anyway, so to get out of that I unfortunately spent three years spending a fortune of money with an attorney to try to get myself out of this contract at Goldman unsuccessfully. I tried to buy my business back. They reneged on me. All the guys got to buy their businesses back. I'm the only one they said no to. I'm the only woman. I had to quit, run at my non-compete, and then not work for most of last year. And then I just started back up again last year. So it's been incredibly difficult.

Lauren (05:19):
It's been a journey.

Cary (05:21):
It’s been incredibly difficult, really, really difficult. And then, I don't know if you know the story but Goldman actually over the summer decided to sell gold, sell Goldman, sell United Capital, and they sold them to Creative Planning. So Goldman paid 750 million for United Capital and sold it for a hundred million. They took a 650 million loss. And everyone called me and said, you were right. You were right about everything. I felt incredibly vindicated but it didn't matter. It still doesn't take away the pain of what happened. 

Lauren (05:54):
I mean, I guess while you didn't have that public voice in the same way, perhaps you were still fighting internally, so that fight was still alive. So tell us about the other side. Where are you now? And we're here, right? I mean, like I said, we opened up and I'm like, oh my gosh, I see you. I mean, you are loud and it's beautiful. You're sharing and you've got a story. So yeah, tell us more about where you are now and what it's like for you on the other side.

Cary (06:21):
So on the other side, it's kind of interesting because when I was leaving, nobody wanted to hire me. I mean, no one. Everyone thought I was getting sued by Goldman Sachs and I had only one firm that would take me, and that's where I am right now. So it was a crazy story. Everybody was afraid of me getting sued by Goldman. I had attorneys saying I was definitely getting a TRO. I was definitely going to have a multimillion dollar lawsuit because they were coming after me because they were making an example out of me. Which by the way, I don't know if you know but women historically, when they get sued in TROs and all these kinds of things in the industry, they are penalized more than men. There's a whole case study on that. It's really horrible. But anyway, it didn't happen because I knew it wasn't going to happen. I knew they were going to leave me alone because of the fact that they wouldn't let me buy my business back. And they knew that. I knew that. I knew they discriminated against me. So I knew they weren't going to touch me. So it's very interesting. So I tell people I'm climbing out of my black hole. I am not back to where I was in 2019 but I'm working on it and I feel like I'm closer. Every day I get closer.

Lauren (07:46):
Oh my goodness. So I want to swing back to what you were sharing earlier about this idea of it's tough and wanting to be able to uplift other women and be able to help support them and kind of educate them. You were saying earlier, I don't know if you know, but this is what happens. There's a case study to prove this. So what do you envision if you were to be a woman in the financial services industry, what would be kind of the vision for what that would look like to be able to help empower, educate, uplift, even maybe organizational structures? I'd love to hear more about that side of things and even how maybe some of those ideas could empower other people who are in seats where they also want to uplift others as well. 

Cary (08:34):
Well, one thing that I did, I wrote an article for Rethinking65, which goes to other financial professionals. It has industry articles. And so I wrote an article exactly a year ago, this time last year, and it was called, “Where Are the Women Advisors?” And it was so impactful that I had so many women reach out to me and say, hey, we got to do something about this. Let's do a group. So I put together a mastermind group and we actually now call ourselves Fem Force. And we are trying to figure out mentorship and sponsorship for women in the industry because not only is it hard to get women in the industry, it's even harder to keep them in the industry because they leave for multiple reasons as you know.

Lauren (09:26):
And I want to go into that before, and we're talking industry, are we just talking wealth management? Are we talking, just to clarify, are we talking kind of like banking and insurance?

Cary (09:36):
I would say it's probably all of the above but I'm specifically focused on women financial advisors just because that's my world right now. However, I have been in banking, I have been in marketing. I was head of marketing for Lord Abbett mutual funds back in the day before I started my own practice. So I've been in all different areas of it.

My whole career has been in financial services but specifically in the women financial advisor space, it's pretty much a 20/80. It's a little bit better now. I think we're at 23% women CFP®s, which is better than 20. So we're in the right direction. And all the new numbers show there's more women taking the test. There's more women becoming financial advisors, which is all great. However, we have to keep them in the industry and not wanting to quit and having the opportunities. And it's just much harder for women because even women, I always say I think women should want to work with women like a female gynecologist. But what happens is it's not necessarily the case. I've actually had women who have tried to refer their friends to me and they feel more comfortable with a man because a man's supposed to take care of the money, and that's the norm and that's the status quo of the world we live in. So women who are in this industry have to work harder, work smarter, be 10 times more than the men to just even be on the same playing field, which is why it's so hard for us. And then even out of that, let's say 23%, I always say not everybody of that 23% is actually going out to get clients, which is the hardest part of the job. They're in support roles, they're junior advisors, client servicing, advisors, teaching.

It's a smaller percentage of people who like me, go out and actually bring in clients or what we call the rainmaking role. And actually there's a “Rethinking 65” about that too, what female rainmakers think and how we act and how difficult it is for us and why.

Lauren (12:03):
Okay. So to swing back earlier, saying a number of advisors are leaving for a variety of reasons. What is this group doing to help stop that? If it's because of some icky thing in the industry, or people don't feel like they've got the right mentorship or what have you, or maybe it's just, I don't know, they never had someone kind of bring them up, that mentorship piece of it. What are the conversations that are coming out of that, and is there a model that's being taken kind of firm to firm to help uplift folks, or I'd love to hear more on that too.

Cary (12:34):
So there is no such thing that is a hundred percent working. There's a lot of people trying to get it right. There is a lot of mentorship, there is a lot of sponsorship. Or actually there's probably more mentorship than sponsorship. And I don't know if it's meeting the person where they are. Let's say you're at a small firm and it's all men and you're the only woman working there, and you don't see a path to succeed for yourself because you have to see it to be it, so to say. So holding women up in the industry who are doing the right things and trying to help other women, those are the people I wanted to get into the group to be able to help other people and meet them where they are. So it's just a matter of time, and by the way, we're not there yet. I mean, our website's not even completed yet. And we also have to decide if we're going to be a nonprofit or not. The whole thing. There's so much to do and it's going to be another full-time job that I'm not going to get paid for. So I haven't decided which route we're going yet, or if we're going to join an existing mentorship program and see if we can back onto them. So believe me, I do not have the answers. I just want to bring the conversation around.

Lauren (13:48):
And you want to be able to bring that group together to be able to facilitate that kind of upward momentum. Because it's one of those things, if you've got, well, you were in the marketing world, there's gorilla marketing, right? So you've got all these different people talking and it helps to create that kind of uproar. So part of that is you're helping to be a glue to facilitate that chatter and what have you, that kind of underground movement, it sounds like, of those voices, not just a quiet voice but a publicly loud voice to help champion the projects.

Cary (14:17):
And then one of the things you asked me too, which I wanted to circle back to answer, is structures, which structures seem to work. So it's interesting, my friends own and run Equita, and they believe women should own their own firm, and they think that's the way women can really succeed better is if they own their own firm. But I've seen women who are partners in a larger firm, and that works too. And I've seen, as long as I think women have a seat at the table, I think that's the most important thing. So what I mean by that is a woman at her firm should be in the discussions on the future, the discussions on the pay, the strategy, she needs to be in those meetings. Otherwise, it's kind of a waste of her time because there's no way she's going to be able to affect change if she doesn't have a seat at the table. So in some cases, that's partnership. In some cases it's ownership. In some cases it's being the largest advisor in the firm. It really depends. But having your voice heard and having a seat at the table to me is the most important thing.

Lauren (15:35):
Yeah, I hear what you're saying. You've got to be on the bus to be able to help be a part of the conversations. And if you're not facilitating that organically as a natural way to be able to open doors to be able to come in, then there's a trusted circle. And so being able to help bring people up to be in that trusted circle is, I mean, that's a culture thing too. So shifting those cultures, shifting those kind of the multi-generational, I just think about the next gen, right? How do you train them to be able to help raise the next generation — the next generation to be able to shift those cultures, to be able to bring different people into the room. So you're literally on the bus, you're not hanging on, you're not left on the side. You are on the bus, you've gotten in the room, you're in the boardroom. 

Cary (16:20):
Actually, I don't know if you saw Hamilton but there's a thing, I want to be in the room where it happens, and that's what they're talking about.

Lauren (16:27):
So well said. Yes. I love it. Okay, so we've covered so many things here you have such an incredible story. I appreciate your transparency and sharing it, and also that you, despite everything, how crazy it's been, that you are still so passionate and fired up about making a difference. You could have also just been in a place where you're like, okay, off to the next thing but you're like, I see the change and I want to be a part of that change. And that's not easy to be able to do that. And then to be able to put yourself out there and be able to pull folks together. So just applaud you for that grit and that. Thank you.

Cary (17:07):
Yeah. Yes. My tenacity is definitely quite strong. I tell people there's almost every day where I feel like quitting, and yet I don't. And then the reason being is because I do want to make a difference in this world, and I do want to make a difference in this profession, and I do want to make a difference in this industry, and I want to make it more female friendly. And what's interesting, I always talk about the shift that's coming, the upcoming shift, women are going to inherit two-thirds of the nation's wealth by 2030, which is now a mere almost six years away. And I cannot walk away from that opportunity when it's what I believe in. And so I'm going to stay until that happens. And right now by the way, because people are always like, well, what is it at now? Right now it's at 33%, so it's going to double within the next six years.

Lauren (18:01):
Yeah. Well, more women are going to college. And you can look at it from a variety of angles but super interesting. Okay. Any final thoughts you've got  or things you think would be helpful to share? Any resources, anything that, any last words?

Cary (18:14):
Well, I would love for anybody to reach out to me. I'm easy to reach. You can find me on any social media channel, LinkedIn, Facebook, X. I'm even on TikTok, Instagram.

Lauren (18:26):
You're on it all.

Cary (18:27):
Find me. I'm really easy to reach out to and I answer all my messages if you want to reach out and ask me a question.

Lauren (18:35):
Oh my gosh. So great. We'll make sure to include your link to the articles you mentioned and book and a variety of things. So again, appreciate your time and like I said earlier, I just admire you continuing to champion this effort and the mission-driven core you have to be able to make a difference and be able to help not only through the work you're doing on a day-to-day, to be able to help, inspire, mentor but also to be able to help spread that to other firms and folks who want to be able to help lift that mission and take it higher. So thank you again for your time.

Cary (19:04):
You're so welcome.

Why Financial Services Needs More Women and How We Can Support Them

Discover how trailblazer Cary Carbonaro is transforming the financial services landscape while on a mission to empower women advisors.
Marketing & Sales
March 14, 2024


We talked with Joe about:

  • How he has built the RIA Operators community and which online platforms he likes best
  • Which methods he has used to grow his community and track growth
  • Why online communities are great for marketing as well as building relationships

About Joe Moss:

Joe is a seasoned advisor tech consultant with a knack for crafting effective marketing strategies tailored to the advisor community. His journey began with diverse roles in real estate, contracting, and property management before transitioning to accounts payable, where he honed his data analysis skills. Working for a CPA firm exposed him to advisor tech, and he went on to provide virtual client services for six different RIAs, gaining broad experience in various tech options. In 2023, Joe co-founded ProAdvisorSuite™, a groundbreaking venture aimed at transforming advisor technology solutions. Serving as a sort of  “Costco for advisor tech,” ProAdvisorSuite™ offers a membership-based platform where advisors can gain access to a collaborative community, exclusive insights, cutting-edge technology, and more. Through ProAdvisorSuite™, Joe continues to empower advisors with innovative tools and strategies to help them stay on top of their game. 


Featured Resources & Shoutouts


Enjoyed this interview? You'll love these:


Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:05):
Joe, welcome. Glad to have you here. I feel like we just chatted and we're like, oh, we should have you on the podcast. There's so much good stuff we were able to exchange and I think what was most interesting to me, or one of the things that really kind of was like light bulb was just you are able to create communities, how you've been able to do that, how you're fostering relationships and partnerships with all the things you're involved with, which we're going to get into. Just a brief introduction for folks who are not familiar with Joe or ProAdvisorSuite™, which he co-founded. He also specializes in advisor tech consulting. He does all kinds of things, has tons of advice on marketing strategies, Excel, all kinds of technology platforms, especially for the advisor community. So Joe, I don't want to take the words out of your mouth. Why don't you share a little bit more about your background, where you got to before we get into this whole idea of communities, how you built them, so on and so forth. So over to you.

Joe (01:06):
All right. Yeah. So I thought about this question and I thought I would start with high school. So I started getting into trading stocks, following investments in high school. And so when I turned 18, because you had to be 18 to actually trade with an account, I opened a TD Ameritrade account and started trading weekly then daily — I was trading too much. So then it happened to also be around 2008, I remember pretty clearly because I just finished high school and I was going to college and I went to West Point, the military academy. 

Lauren (01:48):
That's cool. You have a Navy background. My husband's Navy. So there you go. Shoutout on that side of things. So military, but go ahead, keep going.

Joe (01:58):
So we had six weeks of basic training and you're like, no internet, no cell phone, no access whatsoever to the outside world. So when basic training was over, we all got to go to an officer's house on base, call our families, check the internet, and I remember checking my stocks and after six weeks being kind of disappointed that things were going down. So then fast-forward a little bit, I would check my stocks in between passes in the hallway. So that was fun. And that's something I kind of remember about that time there. I ended up leaving West Point after about a year and a half, finishing my degree at WVU.

So I spent about six years doing real estate, residential contracting, property management, and then I got a job in accounts payable. And so I kind of feel like this was when I first got interested in data and Excel and dashboards and all that. So I was on the accounts payable team, the executive team. They wanted insights we just didn't have. All our accounting was backward looking, what has happened, what have we paid? So I focused on how can we get insights into the future and also what data would be really useful for them that we're not tracking. So I found to get started tracking data, you just start tracking and then over time you'll have something worthwhile to share. So going forward a little bit from there, I got a job working for a CPA who also did investments on the side, so CSA paraplanner there. And that's where I'd say I got into advisor tech. So I started following Kitces and the Kitces FinTech Solutions Map; I actually printed it out. It was four feet wide on my wall next to my desk.

Lauren (04:03):
Great testimonial for that tool!

Joe (04:06):
For sure. So I was circling companies we were using and I was circling companies I wanted to be using, kind of got excited about tech and operations, still thought I wanted to be a financial advisor at that point but that's kind of where I got interested in tech and that kind of thing. So then I ended up working as a virtual CSA for six different RIAs.

And so even more, I got to see six different tech stacks, so not just what one advisor is doing but what six different companies are using. And that gave me a really broad experience in different tech, different advisor tech options. So then from there I was pretty active on LinkedIn, I met Kate Guillen, who's the founder of Simplicity Ops. And so the past couple of years I've been working with her helping to grow Simplicity Ops and that's all about CRM consulting. So then from there, a couple months ago, my co-founder approached me and was like, hey, I've got this idea for basically like a Costco for advisor tech. So they pay a membership to join and then they get access to all these discounts. So this is what I'm working on now, which is called ProAdvisorSuite, the Costco for advisor tech.

Lauren (05:29):
Yeah, I love that. That's a great way to think about it. I also really can appreciate what you're saying. You were saying you're working for six different firms or something of that sort. On this end, we work with, I don't even know how many accounts. You get to be part of conversations and really see the inside of all kinds of things going on, and you can bring a kind of light to help people get ahead. So tell me more because you have seen kind of the inside of all of this, where are you at? And I know you are working to really build communities and help share and harness knowledge. So tell us a little bit about that side of things and why you've taken that approach, I guess if you want to call it for marketing or for relationship building or what have you. So yeah, we'll spin into that side of things.

Joe (06:15):
Sure. Let's see. So going back to when I was working in accounts payable, I was really into personal finance blogs. And so there was this directory, this is interesting because of a directory we'll talk more about later, but there was a directory of over a thousand personal finance blogs and all the different writers running the blogs and they track their net worth. So all these different personal finance blog writers would publish their net worth and you could track it month over month. But I got interested in it being a way to interact with people on a very niche subject. I think that's something online communities allow you to do is to go really deep on a specific subject. Within my city, if I wanted to hang out with some people and talk about advisor tech, it would be really hard to find people passionate about advisor tech. But on the internet it's a lot easier because you can pull from a lot wider base of people and go deeper on a subject.

Lauren (07:21):
Tell us more about how you're curating these communities and then how you're building out the communities because a whole thing into itself is to be able to find people who want to nerd out and interact with topics. Tell us a little bit about that. What platforms are you using? How are you inviting people to join? How are you creating just conversations on these platforms?

Joe (07:42):
Sure. Yeah. So the main platform I'm using now is called Skool. It's skool.com. So Sam Ovens used to own consulting.com and he was big in the online course space. So he would teach people how to take their knowledge, turn it into a course, and then sell it. And so what he found over time was that people would come for the content, the courses, but then they would stay to hang out with all the other people who were taking the course. So he basically realized the community was even more valuable than the content, the course itself.

So he built this platform, Skool, which has a great content system learning management system but he's really focused on the community aspect of building these communities, which is a great way to chat with other members. A great feed, a great calendar. He added a leaderboard so people can track who's the top person in the community in the past month or week or so. I really like the Skool platform and that's the one I've been building on using leaderboards. I think it has been really helpful because we launched RIA Operators, the community we started in February and we just crossed 500 members.

Lauren (09:10):
Congratulations. 

Joe (09:12):
Yeah, thank you. Yeah, it took about nine and a half months to cross 500. So I know you were interested in how long does it take to build a community, but basically, I mean, I think it's like any kind of marketing, you tell people about it and you tell people about it in a way that's interesting for them. So yeah, I mean, we shared about it. LinkedIn, we shared about it in our email newsletter. We did a giveaway. I think giveaways are really cool when you're starting a community. It just creates some urgency or some competition. So we're giving away 10 books each month to the top 10 people on the leaderboard. So that was pretty fun.

Lauren (09:54):
Okay. Yeah, that was actually the question I was going to ask: how are you building it out? So it sounds like just through your various networks and channels. Have you been manually inviting each person one by one? Have you been doing direct messages? Has it just kind of been word of mouth? How have you gotten it going? I mean, because one thing where you see a community after it's built but just getting off the ground is a ton of work, and I don't think people even realize, oh, I've got this great idea, I could create X but then to build it out, it's a whole thing. So yeah. What do you think got you the most traction to get to where you are today?

Joe (10:34):
So we did have the jumping off point of our LinkedIn network. We had a LinkedIn page in our email list. I would say LinkedIn and email are two really important ways to build. So we're going to talk about community on a platform but community in general as well. So LinkedIn is rented media, so you've got all your connections but LinkedIn could go away and you could lose all that. Email in a way is owned media. You can have a list of all the email addresses and no one's going to take that away from you. And community is kind of somewhere in the middle. It is on another platform. So in a way, they own our community but at the same time we have a list of everyone who’s there. And it's kind of our own little, I'd say room. Room on the internet in a way.

Lauren (11:31):
Yes. So you've built this out, you've leveraged your other communities or networks it sounds like, to then sort of push content there. And then how do you keep the chatter going, right? Because stuff can kind of pick up and then it goes on and whatever but how do you keep it alive and keep it interesting?

Joe (11:50):
Yeah, I don't know. I guess I use a mixture of methods. Sometimes it's just random. I'll have an idea or I'll see something somewhere and I'll post about it or share it. One thing that's worked very well in this community is asking people what they're using for their website or what they're using for their CRM or what they're using for email marketing, something. I usually do it in a poll format, and so people can fill out the poll and then I can compare the poll results to one of the advisor tech survey results. And it just becomes a resource. So resources. Another thing that's really cool about Skool is the search bar at the top searches across everything. So you can search across the members, you can search across the courses, you can search across all the posts.

Lauren (12:43):
Love a good search bar, and we use Asana a lot, and they have incredible search. It goes across all the comments and all kinds of things like that. Google's got gravitas but that's one I think. And oddly enough, a really good key component for user experience. So it's important to call that out. So super interesting. I mean, Out & About. Part of our mission statement is around building communities. I think I shared this the first time we talked. And so this is really interesting to hear this idea of fostering those communities, especially in an online space. As you said, your kind of a data set or your pool of folks to be able to pull from is much wider in theory and in practice. So can we talk a little bit more about it, because I feel like you've got such a knack about just finding these needles in a haystack. I know we chatted about lists and being able to build audiences and kind of learning from what other people are doing, not just in Skool as a platform but LinkedIn as a platform and other social platforms. Tell me a little bit about these lists you've been building out and what are you learning from them?

Joe (13:47):
Interesting. So I noticed on LinkedIn, someone would post in and say something like, hey, I'm looking for a recruiter, or I'm looking for a transition consultant. And those posts tended to do really well, so people would hop on and they'll start making recommendations. So it became a way to catalog all those people but also promote those people. So I would take some of those posts and save all the list of people who were transition consultants, for example, and put it in a spreadsheet and then I could make a post about it.

Lauren (14:25):
Yes.

Joe (14:25):
List all of them in one post, and it becomes a resource for people to visit. So it can be a way to promote the people in the list. It can also be a way, it's a resource for people who need that information.

Lauren (14:43):
And how are you finding these people? Are you searching in LinkedIn and their search from hashtags, or is it just because you've built up your community enough that you're starting to see patterns, articles, reading? Yeah, I'd be curious to know how you're finding this group or these groups.

Joe (15:03):
So there's this idea out there using other people's audiences to grow your audience.

Lauren (15:08):
Right?

Joe (15:10):
So I saw someone post about that, and I called it the Niche 100 list. So go find a hundred people who are already serving the audience you're targeting, and then engage with them, comment on their posts, ask to be on their podcast, ask to write a blog post for them. So I went and built a Niche 100 list for myself. And so I was like, who are the hundred people who are big in my space? And so then the list, that list in particular, just kind of kept growing from there. And now I'm tracking around 300 different people in that list. And then seeing how their followers are growing over time or seeing who's growing the fastest. Pretty fun.

Lauren (15:59):
Matt over at ProudMouth talks about it, a lot of momentum marketing, and it's that over time and it's that kind of volume that you ride those coattails. So it totally makes sense. And it's part of building communities and relationships, and I think just good old-fashioned relationship building. I mean, not to be play on words, but out and about, literally getting out there and being able to talk with people and build those connections is like, I don't think you can break that away from business development. So that's interesting that you're cultivating that and then you're kind of serving that up for other people to use. Are there any kind of best practices or trends you've seen with folks where they've maybe made it on that list because of a number of followers, or maybe there's something they're doing, they're always posting with a, I don't know, a photo or a certain set of hashtags or reposting? Is there any kind of thing you're noticing that makes you go, huh, that's a takeaway, that you've maybe applied into your own marketing things you're doing on a day-to-day?

Joe (17:09):
Sure. I mean, it's pretty basic. Consistency is one. I mean, if you look anywhere, it's be consistent — post daily, post weekly. And when you post, be consistent in the kind of content you're posting. If you post about something random and then you post about your business and then you post about something random, that may not align. I think another thing I'm noticing is that people, if someone is on a podcast of someone with a much, much larger network, their follower account will jump.

Lauren (17:48):
Yes. We see that too. I know it's that whole coattails thing. 

Joe (17:56):
I mean, Michael Kitces is a pretty well-known example in this space but when someone is on his podcast, the amount of interest they get in whatever they do for months afterward is just way up. So it's really interesting.

Lauren (18:11):
It is really interesting. That's right. It's being able to kind of get there. And sometimes you hear folks, I want to be in the New York Times. I want to name drop it, right? But I think it's also just a reminder of you start where you're at and you start to build it, and it's that momentum again, momentum marketing. You build it and you build it, and you build it. It's those pieces that then grow so it creates other bigger opportunities so when those bigger opportunities come, they come more fluidly. This is such a fun topic. So I want to just get back to the data sets and measuring. Is there anything in particular you've noticed over time in building communities and building your own platforms that you think are things worth measuring that you put in the dataset as a must-have when trying to assess, I'll call it progress, marketing, qualified leads, so on and so forth?

Joe (19:11):
Okay, that feels like a broad question. Do you mind narrowing it a bit?

Lauren (19:15):
Yes. So if you were going to say, I'm going to create a community, right? What would be an indicator, potential KPI for success if your community is successful or not, right? Is it number of leads? Is it, gosh, is it conversations that are happening? Is it people who are in there who have a volume of followers? Is it just, I don't know, what are you looking for that you feel like would say, okay, this is getting us closer to X goal?

Joe (19:49):
Sure. So I think it's easy whenever tracking something to just pick the top number. So number of members in the community is an easy one for engagement. You can do something like monthly active users. So there might be 200 people in a community but only 75 are logging in on a monthly basis. So you can track your active users along with your total users. I think also tracking when celebrities join your community in a way. I mean, not real celebrities, but celebrities in your industry.

Lauren (20:23):
Celebrities in that community. So totally, that's a fair word. Not like Hollywood celebrities or could be, I guess. But yeah, go ahead.

Joe (20:34):
So yeah, I always get excited when someone who has a larger following joins one of my communities. I think that's pretty fun. I also think you can feel how engaged people are. I mean, as people post, or another one is if you're the owner of the community and you're doing the majority of the posting, that's typical. But when you start to see members in the community doing more and more posting, I think that's a good sign people are getting more engaged and more interested and coming to the community as a resource to ask their questions.

Lauren (21:07):
Yeah, actually, so we were talking about this right before the call you were saying, I was saying, oh yeah, I got those emails. Because in Skool you get email notifications that then tell you, hey, so-and-so liked your stuff or posted or reminders that the platform exists. And you were talking about how you have other members who say the same thing but they may or may not be engaged. And I was sharing how we wrote an article in Advisor Perspective about social listening — there are a lot of people who watch what's going on but they may not actually engage, comment, share, so on and so forth. And what's your experience with that social listening side of things too?

Joe (21:48):
Sure. I mean, multiple people have messaged me out of the blue who I have never seen comment on any of my content and been like, I love what you're posting, and I have this specific question. It's really interesting. So even if you're posting and you're only getting a few likes or no comments over and over and over, there's still people seeing it. And I still think it's worth putting your content out there even if it doesn't feel like you're getting a lot of engagement.

Lauren (22:16):
I think it goes back to your point earlier too about just consistency. Sometimes I think folks with marketing are like, okay, this is a great idea, let's get it going. And then it's like four weeks later, five weeks later, it's kind of like that momentum, it just melts away. And so part of that is just that consistent voice, consistent positioning, consistent topics. So super. Great. Okay. Well, we are about ready to wrap up here. This has been a really great conversation. Anything else you want to throw out that you think would be helpful for folks as a takeaway?

Joe (22:48):
Yeah. So I wrote down two things. I think one of them is just have fun. When you're creating content, it should be something you care about that you enjoy writing or enjoy talking about. I think that really helps you be consistent over the long haul. If you're forcing yourself to write or record about topics or something you're not that interested in, that can be pretty difficult. The second one is just, so I started tracking people's follower counts that are growing rapidly. So they could only have 200 followers but if they add 50 followers, that's a pretty big percentage increase. So I started tracking those people alongside the people who have 10, 20, 30,000 followers as a way to highlight people who are putting in the effort, I guess. So there could be someone who’s growing. 

Lauren (23:47):
It's almost like don't ignore someone who doesn't have, I don't know, 5,000 followers, whatever threshold. Because you could also be part of that story, part of that growth story for others who are starting to pick up at a faster pace or just honestly be able to share support or what have you. Followers don't always indicate success but it does I guess an indicator of volume and noise to a certain degree. But well, thank you again, Joe, for your time and for sharing a bit more. And it's fun. Not only to learn about how you've been able to develop communities, I know we didn't get into as much about ProAdvisorSuite but I will make sure to include links below. And thank you again for your time and conversation.

Joe (24:35):
Yeah, thanks for inviting me to be on this.

Lauren (24:37):
Absolutely.

Is Online Community Building Your Next Step?

Joe Moss is a seasoned advisor tech consultant with a knack for crafting effective marketing strategies tailored to the advisor community. His journey began with diverse roles in real estate, contracting, and property management before transitioning to accounts payable, where he honed his data analysis skills.
Operations & Management
March 7, 2024

We talked with Ben about:

  • The core pieces of EOS® and what makes the operating system work
  • The function of meetings in the EOS® model 
  • Keeping team members accountable and excited 
  • How to get started with EOS® tools

About Ben Norton:

Ben Norton started his career in a Fortune 500 company but it wasn’t long until he joined the startup lifestyle. After running four different companies, Ben had a solid understanding of how critical operation models are to success. When he experienced the impact of the EOS® model, he changed his career path to help other entrepreneurs have the same opportunity.


Featured Resources & Shoutouts


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Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:04):
Ben, thank you for joining us today.

Ben (00:06):
Hi, Lauren, great to see you. Thanks so much for having me.

Lauren (00:09):
Yeah, I have been so excited about this interview. As I was just sharing with you, we dig EOS®; we have implemented pieces of it, which we're going to be talking about today. We've implemented pieces of it not only for our agency but there's a lot of clients we work with that also use EOS® sometimes like end-to-end and others just chunks of it. And I'm really looking forward to hearing more about it, on so many levels. So before we get into it, why don't you go ahead and just share a little bit more about your background. You have a really interesting narrative to how you got to where you are today helping companies with EOS®. So over to you. 

Ben (00:51):
Great. Well, thank you so much, Lauren. So I'm Ben Norton and I'm an entrepreneur at heart but it took me quite a while to figure that out. I started my career with a very large Fortune 500 company, and though I learned a lot, it just really wasn't my calling. And when I had the opportunity to join a startup building a new technology company, things really, really started to click for me. And so we were successful at growing that business and it got very interesting to Google and they acquired us and that sent me on a trajectory. I got the bug for building and running companies and more specifically in the digital marketing space. And so I had the good fortune over my career to run four different businesses. The last one we ran on EOS®, and that experience was so much better than my previous involvement that when we sold that company, I decided to dedicate the rest of my career to helping other entrepreneurs get everything they want out of their companies. So I just love being around entrepreneurs. I love their energy. I love seeing them build new things and helping them achieve all of their dreams.

Lauren (02:00):
So an EOS®, for folks who aren't familiar, is the entrepreneurs operating system or entrepreneur operating system.

Ben (02:06):
Entrepreneurial operating system.

Lauren (02:07):
Okay. Thank you. So just for formalities there, there's all these acronyms, there's EOS®, we'll get VTO, the people, we'll get into all that. But tell us a little bit like why was it so much more night and day when you started to implement this and what were you seeing as far as outcomes? We're always interested in seeing outcomes as a business. 

Ben (02:30):
So EOS®, the entrepreneurial operating system, it's not software, it's a people operating system. And so it's a way of harmonizing and systemizing all the moving parts in your business. And so for me, the particular experience I had, I was a business leader running a company on EOS® just being able to use all the tools. All these tools have been around for a hundred years. They're simple concepts and tools that are proven, they've been battle tested and they're just organized into a complete comprehensive system. Think of it as almost an oversimplified business in a box. All the tools you need to run a really great business. And for us as a leadership team, one of the things we found that was so helpful for us and really making that company great was one of the tools was really helping us be better at solving issues that came up in our company, working together as a leadership team to really get to the root cause, not just looking at the symptom and coming up with a plan to solve that issue but addressing all those issues and making them go away forever.

Lauren (03:34):
So I want to get into the issues and what that process looks like too but before we do that, I'd love to hear, I've got actually it in front of me, what the heck is the EOS® book? I know there's tons of books. I don't know how there are tons — almost a library — and I know there's all kinds of other technology and things that have spun off to just really make the system robust. So let's start big picture. That's always a good place to start. So I know one of the first pieces with EOS® is this Vision Traction Organizer, the VTO. Can you talk with us about that? Who's involved in putting that together? What are some of the key must-have components? Is the whole thing a must-have component? I know there's a proven process and there's all kinds of terms. Tell us a little bit more, right?

Ben (04:21):
Sure, yeah, happy to. So what I do, so my role, I'm an EOS® implementer, and so what that means is I help companies master all the tools that make up the EOS® system. And so these tools all wrap around this discovery that there are six key components of your business, and to the extent you can strengthen those six key components, your business is going to just perform better than you ever had hoped it could. One of those six key components, and the primary key of the six key components is vision and working to get everybody in your organization 100% on the same page with where you're going and how you're going to get there. One of the tools we use to do that, it's called the VTO, the Vision Traction Organizer. And so the VTO is simply a set of eight questions we go through and we work with the leadership team of any organization to answer those eight questions. And by doing so, it helps them get really, really clear on their vision, where they're going and how they're going to get there.

Lauren (05:20):
What's that process and how long does it take? It's like a multi-day thing, and how are you guiding that? It's hard to get clear. What does that look like?

Ben (05:33):
So when a company is implementing EOS®, we go through three session days over the span of 60 days, and over those three days that are full day sessions, we're doing some very, very specific things. On the first day, we're helping them learn five leadership abilities to help them break through the ceiling when they hit it. Every company is going to hit the ceiling at some point and probably multiple times throughout the course of their existence. We get through a series of tools in what we call focus day, and then we have two very specific days that we call vision building day one and vision building day two. And so over the course of those two days, we're reviewing all the work we did in our first session together, and then we're simply answering those eight questions. So at the end of the three-session span of 60 days, you've mastered the focus day tools, you're 100% clear on your vision — where you're going, how you're going to get there — and then you just transition into execution mode.

Lauren (06:26):
And I heard you say it's really the leadership team that's a part of that, those conversations. And I like that it's spread out, because you've got to be able to sleep on things, have those sidebar conversations back to it validated in the business and what have you. Okay. So what kind of companies are doing this? Does this apply mostly to a certain level of company, either employee count or revenue size? Who's kind of going through these processes? Are you, or maybe it's a question of have you kind of projected some sort of curve, I don't know, M&A or something like that? I'd love to hear more about that.

Ben (06:59):
Sure. Yeah. Really the sweet spot for companies who run on EOS®, their companies are entrepreneurial in nature. The leadership teams are growth-minded. They are more afraid of the status quo than they are of change, and they're ready to be open and honest and vulnerable with each other to do the things they need to do to build a really great company. In terms of employee size, we don't really think about revenue but we think about number of employees. The sweet spot is about five to 250 employees. I have one client, the whole company is two people. They just love the discipline and accountability that come from EOS®. And so it works across any industry, it works across all types of businesses. It can work for a nonprofit, it can work for educational institutions, tech professional services — it fits across all industries.

Lauren (07:50):
And I feel like on the marketing side, when we're working with a team that's gone through this process and has that kind of clarity, they can really come to the table and they know this is who our target market is, this is what our unique difference is, this is what our guarantee is, so you can really market to those things to help you stand out in the market or with UVPs, unique value propositions. So once you've got that big picture aligned, which is more static if you will, I'm sure adjusting with time, it's not an easy exercise to go through. Then let's talk about the other components of it. So how do you actually make sure we map the day-to-day activities? We get departments and teams aligned, we're tracking things. Tell us a little bit more about how this VTO, if you will, then waterfalls across the company.

Ben (08:40):
Yeah, so the VTO, the eight questions, we start with getting really clear on what are your core values, and those are just simply the guiding principles for the culture you want for your business. And we then work through to get you really, really clear on your core focus. That's just your niche, your sweet spot. So you're always focused on what you truly love and are best at. We help you identify a 10-year target that's flexible from five to 30 years. So from there you can start to bring it down to the ground with your marketing strategy. We help companies get really clear on who their target audience is, what their three uniques are. If they have a proven process, we help them make sure and share with all their prospects and stakeholders if they have a guarantee. If not, we can help them create a guarantee for their business.

And we just go into your three-year picture. What does this business need to look like just three short years from now? When the leadership team can all see it in their mind's eye, it's much more likely to happen than help you create your one-year plan. We establish rocks for the company and for each member of the leadership team; rocks are just simply 90-day priorities helping you live in a 90-day world. This comes from a lot of research that proves humans have a hard time staying focused on anything for more than 90 days. And so we help you stay really working in this 90-day world, we get all your issues on a list somewhere, and then we help you teach you how to solve those as they come along.

Lauren (10:02):
Okay. So when you're projecting those rocks, are you getting basically a big dump list and then prioritizing them? How does that come together? And then I'm assuming prioritization is key; share a little bit more about that.

Ben (10:16):
Sure. Yeah. So when we're working with the leadership team and in time, ideally in time everybody in their organization will have at least one rock. We also help you create a scorecard with measurables. So in time, everybody has at least one measurable. It's really, really important from an accountability perspective and a culture perspective that everybody is a part of the bigger picture and contributing to the greater good of the organization. Specifically when we're building rocks in a session, we get the laundry list, we get everything that could be a priority over the next 90 days on a list. And we just start working through with the leadership team to identify the three to seven in EOS®. We talk all the time about less is more — three to seven major priorities for the organization and then three to seven priorities for each member of the leadership team — always trying to get to less is more, better to be closer to three than seven. And then as we go, as we're implementing EOS® and the leadership team is mastering these tools, we then help them bring all of these tools down deep into the organization. So again, in time everybody has accountability. They're working with rocks to have a measurable on their scorecard. They're learning how to process issues when they come up within the organization and making them go away forever.

Lauren (11:31):
So then essentially each department has their marching orders, their teams also have theirs, all then mapped back up to that bigger picture, if you will. So, okay. That's right. Way easier said than done. Yeah, for sure. 

Okay, so now we've got the vision tracker, right? We've got our plan in place. We can see what the next 90-plus days potentially look like, what the priorities are. Let's get into some of the stuff you were mentioning earlier about this idea of just having conversations with people, like solving problems. How do you go about making sure you're actually adhering to these rocks or projects as you're going about these 90 days and how are you making sure people aren't getting shiny object syndrome and you're really working through those issues? So share a little bit more about that, please.

Ben (12:24):
Yeah. One of the tools we do, it's called Meeting Pulse, and specifically we use a meeting agenda called the Level 10 Meeting agenda. And so we teach leadership teams this very, very specific meeting agenda. And for me specifically in my past when running a company on EOS®, this was just so eye-opening for me. And so what we do is we teach leadership teams how to just go through and quickly report on how they're doing against their rocks — on track or off track. If it's on track, we're moving on. If it's off track, we drop it down onto an issues list. How are we doing on our scorecard — on track or off track? Anything that's on track, we're not discussing it. We don't need to go into the story behind it. On track, we're moving on; off track, we're dropping it down onto the issues list. We go through black or white, no debate. We talk about any customer or employee highlights very quickly. We review our to-do list from the previous Level 10 meeting agenda. And then we spend 60 minutes of a 90-minute meeting together solving issues. We prioritize, we go through what are the one, two, and three most important issues we need to tackle this week. And then we spend our time as a leadership team going through those and really digging, digging, digging, getting down beyond what might just be the symptom, getting to the root cause of what that issue really is. And then somebody takes an action to make that go away forever. So that tool, that Level 10 Meeting agenda, call it a tool, is amazing for accountability, keeping everybody on track and not starting to chase shiny objects.

Lauren (13:51):
And tell me more about how long these meetings are. They could probably go on for a long time. 

Ben (13:56):
They are 90 minutes. They start on time. They end on time. They're the same day of the week, same day, same time every week. And the only two reasons you miss them are vacation and death and death being your own. And that's kind of tongue in cheek but this should be the most important 90 minutes of your week. And you do everything you can to schedule everything you can else you have to do around it. And you spend that time with your leadership team taking 60 minutes of that 90-minute time slot together to really work on issues in the business. We also teach that you want to bring this discipline down into the organization so every team, every department has a version of the Level 10 agenda, and they do this every week. And it's just so powerful. It'll unlock so much time in your week, it'll give you back so much time. It will help you avoid so many train wrecks and fires that otherwise pop up in a business.

Lauren (14:51):
So thinking kind of Robert's Rules-esque, is there anyone who holds the gavel to hold folks accountable? It would be easy to get into the whole like, well, this didn't happen because blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and I'm not really on track, but I am, and this is why. How do we make sure we actually stay on course?

Ben (15:10):
Yeah. There's a few ways. One way in the world of EOS®, there are two seats on the leadership team. Typically, not always but ideally there's a visionary and an integrator. The visionary is the person who has 10 great ideas a day. They're flying high, they're moving fast, they're really good with big relationships, they're really bad with details. The integrator is the person who's the day-to-day. They're running the business, they're keeping the train on the tracks, and they're the one who calls that out. And if a team is truly what we teach — open and honest — if something is getting off track, we teach don't bury it. Bring it to the surface. You're a team, work together, let's figure it out. Get it back on track.

Lauren (15:53):
So well said. Okay. So it's the integrator then who’s spearheading the meetings.

Ben (15:58):
Typically the integrator runs the leadership's Level 10 meeting.

Lauren (16:02):
So if you're talking job titles, it might be the COO.

Ben (16:04):
It could be a COO, could be a VP of ops. It's that person, whoever is the senior most ranking person who's making the machine go.

Lauren (16:14):
Yep. Makes sense. Holding all those systems and details accountable. Absolutely. Okay, get it. So let's get into the people side of it. I know we're covering a lot here. We're kind of drinking from the fire hose but it's good to hear it firsthand and kind of get a flavor for it. So getting the people side of it, I know there's the People Analyzer and there's accountability charts and all these kinds of things. Great people are one of the biggest strengths but also sometimes it can be challenging like coaching and mentoring and hiring and I mean, you name it, right? So tell us a little bit about that. Because a component too, to make sure we are marching in lockstep and hitting goals, how are you helping to coach and support people with the people piece of it?

Ben (17:04):
Right people, right seats. And you got to have both. It's not negotiable. And so it starts when you set your core vision, when we're answering those eight questions of the Vision Traction Organizer, and we get really, really crisp on what your vision is and how that's going to shape your culture. That's then used in hiring, in managing. You tell the team every quarter, you're getting everybody together and sharing with them a state of the company, revisiting your core values. What is your vision? Where are you going as an organization? You have to tell people something seven times before they begin to hear it for the first time. So we continuously reiterate what our core values are, where we're going, how we're going to get there. We use a tool called the People Analyzer. We use this tool to facilitate a conversation to check in and see if someone is consistently aligned with the company's core values.

And if not, it allows for the leadership, the manager in some cases, and that person to have a conversation about where they're coming up short or where they're performing well. We use another tool called GWC, which stands for gets it, wants it, in capacity, and you got to have all three. And so using the People Analyzer, that helps us make sure we've got the right people. They're a great fit with your culture, and GWC is the right seat. They've got the skills, they've got the experience to be excellent at their job, and you got to have both. And in cases where you don't, we highly encourage our clients to make those tough decisions to help them find another opportunity elsewhere.

Lauren (18:37):
Yep. No, it's fair. And it's tough decisions too but at the end of the day, you want everyone to excel and it's no fun if you're hitting your head against the wall and it's just not the right fit. So it sounds like this exercise kind of helps to flesh that out or would help to identify it as you're moving forward with the plan at large.

Ben 
Absolutely. 

Lauren
That all makes sense. Lots to cover. What else would be helpful to kind talk through too that you're often seeing questions folks have about EOS® and any of that?

Ben (19:10):
Yeah. One area we really didn't touch on—we've touched on most of the six key components. One is process. And so making sure an organization, any company out there, has about six to 10 core processes that really make the organization go. And so we help companies document those using the 20/80 entrepreneurial rule, meaning you do 20% of the work that gets you 80% of the way there. Any more than that, it's going to leave you with a 300-page standard operating procedure document nobody's ever going to use.

Lauren (19:42):
Totally.

Ben (19:43):
We help make sure anybody who touches those processes, they're trained, they're properly managed and measured in terms of how well they are performing, using, engaging with those core processes. What this does is it gives you scalability, efficiency, and the ability to make more profit.

Lauren (20:01):
Yeah, so well said. I think what I appreciate about EOS® is that if you kind of want to dip your toes in the water, there's so many books, you can pick it up, you can try it out. A lot of companies we work with have got a neo-EOS implementer or they're trying it out, right? They're taking pieces of it and they're utilizing it. I think that's one of the beauties of the system. But I think there is just one last question for you here too. I feel like we could actually be here for quite some time

Ben (20:34):
All day.

Lauren (20:35):
But is there a time where you go, people are really ready for someone like yourself to come in? Yeah, we've been trying EOS® or we are just really committed. It's the new year coming up and we're looking at our goals. Or when do you see that come in when people are ready to go all-in?

Ben (20:53):
Yeah. First of the year is always a great time just to get that fresh start in the new year, to get really clear on your vision, where you're going, how you're going to get there. The other answer I would give you is it's when a company is just hitting the ceiling, they're trying everything. Nothing's working. The leadership team is working insane hours, people are burning out. That's the time when you really should look at EOS®. And so just to kind of dip your toe, all the tools that make up the EOS® model are available for free. You can go onto the EOS® worldwide website, you can download them all. There's tons of great content. There's tons of great tutorials. You can start to self- implement, teach yourself how to use the tools. Working with someone like me is going to accelerate that path to mastery. You're going to get to where you really, really have the tools dialed in a whole lot faster. I'm not a consultant. My job is not to stay there and embed myself in the organization forever. My job and all of us implementers, we're there to teach you the tools, get you to where you've mastered them, and then get out of your way and let you run a really great business.

Lauren (22:00):
Well said. And I think also, this is one of those systems where it's simple — you were talking about earlier — but it could be easy to implement but also easy to misstep. And I think one of the lessons in working with someone like yourself is that you can make sure you're doing it the right way, because kind of getting off course could also take you down the wrong path.

Ben (22:25):
A hundred percent down. And there also is this element of accountability when working with an implementer, when you know you've got your quarterly coming up and it's like, wow, we better make sure our rocks are done because Ben's going to want to know what's going on with our rocks. Absolutely. There's also this idea, we call it entering the danger. And so within organizations, oftentimes a leadership team, whether they choose not to see something or they're just ignoring an issue, it doesn't really get put on the issues list. When we see something that's an issue, when we see something that maybe a leadership team isn't seeing or is choosing not to see, we enter the danger and we bubble that up to the surface. And so a lot of companies really like that. To have somebody who, since I don't have a stake in the business, I can be bold and I can do that. And so a lot of companies just like that independent third- party outsider to come and just check in on them once a quarter, see how they're doing, making sure everything's on the right track.

Lauren (23:20):
Yep. That makes a lot of sense. Oh my goodness. Well, Ben, thank you so much for your time. Totally. For giving us an overview of EOS®, the system, how it applies to marketing and day-to-day people operations, and so much more, meetings, I mean, the whole thing. So it's good to get a little bit of a flavor. We'll make sure to link to the books, include your contact information and all that good stuff. I feel like once you start to unpack this, it's really fun. You can get deep fast, right? So I think just part of it is exploring it, scratching the surface but also asking, okay, are we ready? And what does that mean? So thanks for giving us some triggers for what that looks like. All right, we'll keep the conversation going but thanks again.

Ben
Thanks, Lauren. Bye.

EOS® Strategies for Financial Services Companies

By implementing the EOS® operations model, implementer Ben Norton believes firms will see a boost in productivity and business success.
Company Culture & Values
February 29, 2024


We talked with Diana about:
  • Connections between money and life coaching, and how she merges the two
  • Her unique service model that allows her to serve the groups she's passionate about
  • Examining your views of money and goals to align with a life that matters to you

About Diana Yañez:

Nestled at the intersection of financial planning and life coaching is Diana Yañez, founder of All the Colors. By combining knowledge from her CFP® certification and her RLP® (registered life planner) designation, Diana created a space where she can empower clients to their vision of financial success. By altering the mindset around money, she encourages people to prioritize their spending where they receive the most joy while still saving for the future.


Featured Resources & Shoutouts


Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:03):

Diana, thank you for joining us today. We are excited to jump in. I think we originally connected on LinkedIn going back and forth. So I'm excited to hear from you. I know you have a really unique approach to financial planning. We're both in this world, although very different. We're on the marketing side and you're on the planning side. So what is your journey to get here? I'm going to kick it over to you and let you get started. Tell us a little bit more about your background and how you got to where you are.

Diana (00:33):

Yeah, well, I'm going to actually start backwards. I'll get to where I am right now and then I'll let you know what the windy curve to get here was. I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, which for people listening, they probably know it's like a couple of years of education, working under somebody else in the apprenticeship model, continuing education, and then passing a pretty difficult exam. So that's a CFP®. I'm also a registered life planner, which is through the Kinder Institute at Mizzou, to be a life coach on the money end of things.

Lauren (01:04):

Yeah. Oh, interesting. Okay.

Diana (01:07):

Yeah.

Lauren (01:09):

Okay. So there's a Steve Jobs quote, something about you can only connect the stars looking backwards. So kind of where you are right now? What's the connection to get those certifications to where you are and what you're doing?

Diana (01:23):

Well, let me finish telling you about where I'm at right now. So as I work with high-net-worth individuals, about a third of my time through Strategy Squad, which is part of Natural Investments, a registered investment advisory firm. The other two-thirds of my time I'm a money coach with All the Colors. So CFP®s traditionally serve the top 4% to 6% of wealth holders, and I couldn't do that. I couldn't do it a hundred percent of my time. I do it a third of my time, and then the other two-thirds of my time I serve everybody else through money coaching.

Lauren (02:01):

Got it. Okay. So you've got these two pieces that you're about. Why did you go that direction?

Diana (02:06):

Because I needed to. I like having a diversity of clients, honestly. So that's why I'm both a very technical CFP® — that's the highest technical level — and also a money coach and also a life coach equivalent. It took me three careers before I finally found financial planning, and it truly is my calling. I'm a numbers person, a money person who loves people and loves seeing when people's just shoulders relax, when they're starting to understand a concept, when they're really seeing they have more options than they think they do. I love being there when people open their eyes to the reality of their financial situation.

Lauren (02:50):

So I know you work with women entrepreneurs as a target, and is that in both sides of your day-to-day, or is that just one side of your work you do?

Diana (03:03):

It was a pretty natural women entrepreneurs kind of found me, and it makes sense because there are entrepreneurs in the first five years of business, when you're becoming an entrepreneur from having been an employee, you have to get used to the fact that your income is very sporadic and you have to get comfortable asking for what you're worth, charging more money. You have to get comfortable with money conversations most people are not having, which is why they found me. I'm a money translator. I'm the technical translator of what is a SEP IRA, how do you start using it? How do I understand my taxes now? And also, how do I price myself in a way that supports the kind of lifestyle that I want; I want to be able to have flexibility to pick up my kids from school. Women still on average earn 80 cents to the dollar of a man, and I'm Latina. So on average it's like 53 cents to the dollar of a white man, which is again, why women of color came to me because they could hear I spoke their experience, I understood their experience, so it was very natural. This niche found me and I see why they needed me.

Lauren (04:22):

Can you talk a little bit more, because you have the money side of it but the coaching side, how do you integrate the two in those conversations? Does it start with one first, something that goes to the other? Are they just super connected? Can you even pull them apart? I'd love to hear about those conversations and how you build that comfort level getting into more than the numbers. It sounds like you're unpacking stuff, so tell us a little bit more about that.

Diana (04:47):

Yeah. I consider myself kind of like a money nutritionist. When you go to a nutritionist, they can tell you, this is what your plate should look like. This is what the calorie breakup should be. I have a background in disordered eating, so I knew a lot about the technicalities of how I was supposed to do food but in the day-to-day it was chaos. So I was talking with a friend of mine, Haley Castillo, who's a financial therapist, and she was talking about how the intuitive eating movement can come over to money.

Diana (05:27):

There's this quote I love by Morgan Housel, who wrote The Psychology of Money, and I don't love all of his book but this particular quote is gold: “Money looks like math because it has numbers but it's much more like psychology.” It's the same with food. Food looks like fuel but it's not fuel. Hardly anyone uses food as fuel.

Lauren (05:50):

Yeah, yeah, I know. And you don't think about it, right? You're like, okay, well, I'm going to go and purge on whatever ice cream and this and that but same thing with money. You could totally see those parallels. I'm going to go purge on this. I'm going to go do that. I'm not going to just sort of live day-to-day. 

Diana (06:15):

Yeah. I have a question, Lauren, about how do people do money without talking about coaching? Oh, how do you even approach the topic about money without talking about your values or the lifestyle you want to have or the things that are important to you? How would you just look at income and expenses and pretend that there's no emotions around it? I don't even know how that would work.

Lauren (06:34):

So given your target and your past experience, is there a process and the discovery you're taking them through to help uncover some of these questions? Does it kind of come out naturally? What does that look like? And then what does the ongoing engagement look like? That might be a little bit different to make sure it's not just checking in on your financial plan or checking in and making sure things are aligned because people are evolving, right?

Diana (07:01):

Yeah. Well, and both for Strategy Squad and All the Colors, the introductory process is pretty similar but the way I position myself in the marketplace is pretty different. So when you look at my website for either one of those fields I work in for either one of those branches, you can tell it's not a regular financial plan. So for All the Colors I talk a lot about community care. I talk a lot about being surrounded by people who support you in your money journey and who you support and that part of it. And then for Strategy Squad, when we're looking at investments it's community impact. So people are coming in really warm. They already know the conversations are going to encompass broader things. So there's a self-selection process that's super key.

Lauren (07:49):

It's great marketing right there. It's so true though. People are self-qualifying. They're like, okay, is this my fit? Is this someone I could feel comfortable with? And they're starting to hear those conversations before they're even having the conversation with you. Okay, so I'll let you keep going but I had to throw that out there. So true. You've teed it up.

Diana (08:09):

We offer the same thing for both of those branches. We offer a free 30-minute call to get to see if we're a fit. The questions we ask our clients, we'll already let them know we're going to talk about more than the numbers, it's not just going to be a numbers-focused conversation. And so for All the Colors, when people come in, I have a discovery workbook I work with them through and it creates money. Coaching is a shorter container. It's three to six sessions, which could be as little as three weeks if we were meeting every week when they're setting up a system or as long as maybe six months. I don't really work with All the Colors clients for money coaching. It's a setup. Let's get you to a place where you have a system, and whenever anything changes, let's say you get a raise at work that's significant, it's an extra 20, $15,000, and you're like, how do I position this? Or you get pregnant or you get divorced, or there's a big life change. That's when people will come back to money coaching to update their system for investment. That's ongoing, long term. The time span there is much longer. It's more the traditional financial planning.

Lauren (09:22):

So hearing a little bit more about All the Colors is really interesting too because that's just a different way of going about it. In fact, I feel like it's a service offering I don't even know if I've ever heard of before. You hear about it in different chunks but not necessarily fused with that life coaching side of it. So someone's working with you. Is it intense in the beginning or do they kind of get the workbook and they're able to run with it? What does that whole engagement look like?

Diana (09:52):

And the thing is, All the Colors and Strategy Squad, they're very similar but if clients need investment management, then I would graduate them to Strategy Squad.

Lauren (10:01):

That makes sense. Yep, that makes a lot of sense.

Diana (10:03):

But like I said at the beginning, CFP®s only serve the top 4 to 6%. So here's 90% of the people who with money coaching they have what they need.

Lauren (10:14):

Okay. So  do you find folks are working with you kind of one and done, or then are they swinging back in six months, two years later? What does that look like?

Diana (10:28):

Well, full transparency, All the Colors has been around for two years. I'm wrapping up my second year, and I have seen people come back. I've seen people do the initial 30-minute, the free 30-minute call, and on that call sometimes people can answer a question they have. I also have a self-guided budgeting course because cash flow is really where most of us need support. Once people go through that, then maybe they'll have a question. I've seen some clients come back when they've had life transitions, especially a client who graduated. I was working with them during their last semester in college, and then a couple of years later when they had a job that had paid off their loans — it was a really high- paying job — they came back to try and figure out what to do there. So people do come back, like I said, around life changes and the workbook, depending on my client's tempo, they'll either run with it a lot on their own or we’ll do the work together.

Lauren (11:24):

Okay. Got it.

Diana (11:25):

One thing that stands out about the way that I work is that I'm very, very mental. So I tend to attract people who maybe bought the DIY book, and they never opened it.

Lauren (11:38):

I know. It's like you buy a, I don't know, a walking treadmill, and it just sits there. You're like, okay, I'm supposed to be on that treadmill, and it's just sitting there and it's a waste of $200 or whatever. So you're there to be able to help carry them along and to be able to hold them accountable in a, I don't know what the right word is, but not in an aggressive way, right? At their pace.

Diana (12:01):

Yeah. I'm not a CrossFit kind of coach. I had a boyfriend who loved CrossFit, and I was like, oh my God, they're yelling at me. They would just throw me off.

Lauren (12:13):

Yeah, I know. It's a certain personality, right?

Diana (12:16):

Yes. Yes.

Lauren (12:18):

Okay. So I'm thinking about the All the Colors side of things, because there is such a value piece to it, are there things you feel are helpful to think through before you even are going to crack open that workbook? Things that are important to people or conversations they should be having with their spouse? Or look ahead? I'd love to hear. Or is it more just like this is an opportunity for you to get it all out there and that workbook, what does that look like to do it?

Diana (12:49):

Well, I mean, the first page of the workbook really asks what success looks like. And I divide internal and external success. What do you have to feel internally to feel you're doing well with money? And it's a success? With money, specifically, I'm not looking at a person's entire life. I'm not a dating coach or a nutritionist. And it could be things like, I want to be able to take a mental health day off even if I don't have PTO, I want to have the emergency savings for that. Or I had a client where family was a very, very important value. So she actually created an account she was contributing to monthly so whenever her family, her mom would say, hey, so-and-so's hit a hard time, blah, blah, blah. And this client, she was a first generation immigrant, she had done very well for herself at work. That way she could tell her mom, okay, this is how much is in the account. How much of it do you think I should share? And that way she had this experience of her mom would call, and then she wasn't sure but she decided, and she also talked about it with her family. This is what I'm able to do. She wanted to do that. And when we started working together, she knew supporting her family financially as a stopgap was important to her but she didn't have a system. So sometimes even just outlining what success looks like, it's kind of like where you're headed. The how isn't as hard to find. It's experimenting your way into it.

Lauren (14:23):

Do you have any other stories like that? They're really interesting, that helps to paint the picture of what's important to people, that here and now sometimes, like you mentioned the PTO piece of it. Are there other things? Is it saving, I mean, I think of more about the investment planning side of saving for kids' education and 401(k)s and all these other kinds of complex things. But is it sometimes things like credit card debt or are there common themes you're hearing from people, just real stuff, right?

Diana (14:55):

Yeah. I remember one of my clients who was making three times as much as they had made their year previous, maybe it wasn't three, maybe it was twice as much but they were spending two and a half times as much.

Lauren (15:07):

Oh, wow.

Diana (15:08):

And they hadn't really noticed it because the new income was so much higher. They hadn't really thought it would even be possible but they slowly ramped up their way. By the time they came to me, they had built up a significant amount of debt. And it wasn't until we were actually working together that they went and picked up the numbers of credit card debt and added up the total. And we looked at the total together, and I have a debt payoff worksheet that's pretty simple. It's like your traditional avalanche snowball kind of thing. And she could see when each portion would be paid off. And she left that meeting feeling like a mixture of here's how much I owe, I can't believe this happened so quickly, and here's when I'm going to be out of debt. So it was bittersweet; I often feel like I'm throwing a pail of cold water on people. I remember I had a coach who said he was the equivalent of a gentle toothpick or a gentle ice pick to the eye, because you just have to see what it is that you're doing.

Lauren (16:21):

Yeah, that makes sense. It was just you can be living in that day to day but not actually have it all right there on a timeline.

Diana (16:28):

And that's so common. I mean, life is so busy. Next thing you know, people hire coaches for accountability. They hire coaches so they have time to step back and look at the big picture. They hire coaches when they're at a new stage of life and they want support on that. And then for Strategy Squad, the more specific work we do with clients, there is the community investment options. One of my favorite ones is Iroquois Valley Farm, which is in upstate New York. And that's a real estate investment trust. It's a REIT, and not everyone is qualified to invest into it but it's an organization that's indigenous led and they're creating organic farming in that area. The stories we get to share with our clients, the access we are able to provide — because a lot of these nonprofits or organizations have social justice values they're not going to be able to have the conversations with investors. So they need a financial advisor to act as an intermediary.

Lauren (17:35):

Makes sense. And you're able to provide that.

Diana (17:38):

And we're able to provide that. And Natural Investment Strategy Squad has a huge due diligence team. We do a lot of research before we share anything with clients, before we propose anything. I remember hearing that alternative investments impact investments. It's kind of like the Wild West.

Lauren (17:58):

And I think in all transparency, I mean, what we see is a lot of firms are even trying to figure out how to position it. It is kind of politically laced and all of that, or it could be, right? And so it's fair, it's the Wild West but it's not in some ways. But I don't know. It's this gray area but go ahead.

Diana (18:18):

Yeah, I mean, I do understand that because also a part of my faith, as I'm Quaker and I'm helping my Quaker organization do its impact investments, I lightly have my investment hat on. I'm more of just an oversight on a volunteer and hearing them, hearing my peers or my Quaker friends talk about understanding the different options, I'm like, wow, I get confused looking at these prospectuses. I can't imagine what they must feel like doing this. So again, through Strategy Squad, it's like being that intermediary, both helping the organizations that need funding and then helping our investors invest in things they feel really aligned with.

Lauren (19:06):

So one other question on that too is do you ever have situations where you've got individuals on either side of the business who feel like their career, their day-to-day, and their values are misaligned? And how have you handled those situations? Does it kind of open up a whole other can of worms about whether we need to shift careers or tell me a little bit more about that?

Diana (19:32):

It definitely happens. And sometimes people decide to stay where they're at because there's other goals that are more important. It could be the financial benefits they're getting or they may start to think about, well, these are the things I have to have in place for me to make a switch. Because I'm working with a lot of entrepreneurs, though, we don't generally have that problem. We're already doing the thing we want to do.

Lauren (19:55):

Yeah. They're already jumped off the deep end and are going for it. Yeah, that's fair. Well, this is really great. Anything else you think would be helpful to share about your day-to-day work? Or folks who are at a place where they're just trying to get started, things they should be thinking about? I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

Diana (20:18):

Yeah, like I mentioned a couple of times, I'm available for 30-minute calls. That's part of the way I give back to the community because it's really important for me to be of service with people. I think it's really helpful for people to define success for themselves. What does a well-lived satisfied life look like, internally and externally? And again, just knowing what will get you warmed up to move into how. And I also think people should move at their own pace. Sometimes this sense of urgency that things need to get figured out now, and when you live a full life, there's always a new set of problems a minute away. So we're never going to get to a place where it's all resolved, which means you might as well take your time and actually make a decision that's not going to be counterproductive in the future.

Lauren (21:08):

Yeah. So well said. Well, Diana, thank you so much for your time, and we'll make sure to include the links to the two different organizations below. I know you're active on LinkedIn, so we'll make sure to include your LinkedIn too. I appreciate you taking the time and sharing a little bit about your background and also the good work you do. I think there's definitely a spot for just support, right? People need it and having those conversations in such a unique way, it's not just about money but it's also about the coaching side and the life side and the wellness side, and really unpacking the full story.

How to Align Your Values with Your Career and Service Model

Diana Yanez, founder of All the Colors, shares how her work as a financial empowerment coach allows her to help clients align their money and life goals.
Marketing & Sales
February 15, 2024

We talked with Ellie about:
  • What a logo should convey about your brand
  • The story behind Out & About’s new logo
  • How taglines should interact with your logo

About Ellie Alexander:

Ellie Alexander is the Design Director at Out & About Communications, where she lives at the intersection of beautiful and functional. Ellie uses design strategically by identifying what makes her clients different to create assets that appeal to their target audience. By creating next-level designs, Ellie can leverage clients’ strengths to promote business growth and success. Ellie has experience with clients of all sizes due to her years working at ad agencies and boutique marketing firms as well as in-house at large and mid-sized companies. 


Featured Resources & Shoutouts


Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:04):
Ellie, we've got you on the show. Hi, glad you're here.

Ellie (00:08):
Thanks for having me.

Lauren (00:10):
For those of you who have not had the pleasure to partner and work with Ellie on projects like our clients have, she's absolutely tremendous. She leads our design and the visuals, and really just the whole brand aesthetic and her background's absolutely tremendous. So we are so pleased to have her on our team and also really excited to talk with her today, specifically about logo designs and rebranding, and maybe I should say brand facelifts, if you will. But Ellie, before we get into all that, please share a little bit about your background, and then we'll get into the whole kit and caboodle and unpack logos and branding. Yeah, so go for it. Share a little bit more about you.

Ellie (00:54):
Absolutely. So yeah, my background is in graphic design. That was my BSS at the University of Minnesota, and after that I've kind of dabbled in different sorts of work environments. I've worked in big ad agencies, I've worked in small design boutiques, I've been at agencies but kind of found myself gravitating toward, like you said, a place of brand facelifts—brand consistencies, from building a brand from the ground up or giving it just a little refresh, and then just nerding out on how we keep that going across every channel, every medium, every touchpoint, and making sure brands tell that cohesive story of who they are and what they do, whether it's a company of five or 5,000.

Lauren (01:36):
And I should have added too that Ellie is helping to put together and really shape out our brand books, which is guiding documentation for the visual side for our clients. And this isn't just logos, fonts, and colors but also looking at everything from video treatment and photography, and we can get into the whole thing. And then she's also looking at all the templates we use and training and overseeing our team that does all the design aesthetic and making sure that for lack of better expressions, kind of brand place, keeping things aligned and keeping it back to those guidelines. So anything else I am forgetting, Ellie, before we jump in more?

Ellie (02:19):
Nope, I don't think so. I think you got it. 

Lauren (02:22):
So we have a really fun topic today. We're going to be talking about logo redesigns. This is especially near and dear to our heart because I feel like I should get a drumroll going. I know we're going to be unveiling a new Out & About Communications logo, which we'll talk about a little bit more in this process but we often work with clients that have been in business for some time. Maybe the logo was designed in the ‘80s, maybe there's a change of target market or direction, and we're really trying to position the company and the market. So Ellie, can you share with us why you would even want to do a logo design? It's a huge undertaking and it impacts so many other things. Why would you want to do it?

Ellie (03:06):
Yeah, why would you touch that? Why would you open that can of worms? So I think actually you touched on the two of the main reasons, and I would say reason number one being if it's just simply outdated. Everything has its time. Everything comes full circle. Even major brands you might look at and think, oh yeah, that logo hasn't changed in 100 years. It probably has. They just might've done it very incrementally. Starbucks, Pepsi, Volkswagen, even a 100-year-old, 150-year-old, 200-year-old company, they will just keep things dialed in to make sure they don't seem outdated. So yeah, just simple as that. Reason number one, if your logo is old enough that it would have a driver's license if it was a human, it's probably time to just do a check. Maybe it doesn't need an overhaul. Maybe it just needs just a little bit of zinging to make sure you're not positioning yourself as outdated right out of the gate if that's the first thing you see. It's like you don't want to show up to a meeting with an ‘80s perm. You don't want that as a first impression. A logo does the same thing.

Ellie (04:19):
I was just going to say I forgot reason number two.

Lauren (04:21):
We'll get into it. I know, because it's going to come back. Are there specific triggers where you see people go, I have to update my logo? Do you see it? Is it just specifically because it's outdated? I'd love to hear if there's a little bit more of a—sometimes it's a change of name. I know we see that and sometimes a change of tagline and then it unpacks all this other stuff. Where are you seeing this go, ah, red flag—we really need to revisit what our logo looks like?

Ellie (04:58):
That's a really good question. I mean, sometimes it’s as simple as honestly, especially if you're a small to medium-sized business, maybe a comment from someone, even if it's like, oh, an offhand comment of, oh, that's your logo, or oh, when did you have that designed? Even as simple as that is, I do think that can be a trigger. I will say the caveat, that's a trigger to take with a grain of salt. Everybody has their opinion but if you start to wonder, don't be afraid to ask people, do you think this still looks up to date? Do you think this reflects who we are? That actually is a segue into number two as you mentioned, especially, okay, if you're changing your name or you're changing your tagline, there's got to be a reason behind that. Oftentimes, especially if you're changing a tagline, it's probably indicative that you're changing something about your service offerings or the mission of your company or what you specialize in.

And that's a really important trigger to say, okay, hey, pause. If we're making a big change to something like that, our name, our tagline, the way we operate, our mission statement, then that's a good trigger to look back at your logo and say, okay, hey, do these things align now? Does this logo make sense with where we're going? Maybe it was perfect for where we were, and maybe it's not outdated. Maybe it's still a perfectly good logo but if it's not putting forward the right essence and not giving the right first impression, then it's just a good time to say, okay, let's just make sure all these things align before we head too far down this path.

Lauren (06:25):
So sometimes we've seen situations where it's like, we'll just tweak the logo, adjust the color. Maybe we adjust something in the way it's laid out—rectangular, elongated—versus can we talk about when you make an adjustment to a logo, what does that actually mean and how does that impact the company's growth? You're small. Yeah, you maybe make a tweak here or there. You're kind of trying to figure it out. But when you make an adjustment, how does that domino and how does that impact all the other assets for your company and how that plays out. Another red flag as a warning: don't just change your logo because let's hear about what that means. 

Ellie (07:12):
You and I were just having a conversation about this, so as relates to us earlier today, it's like, oh, yeah, we change that and that, yeah, it seems simple but you just have to make sure it's in your website but not just the homepage, not just the nav, but in the footer. And what about all the articles your company might've been featured in? What about all the awards you have gotten—like a Best Workplace award? They might have you listed under that old name or that old logo. All your social media profiles and assets, everything that already exists in your social media feed, your email signatures. You just start going down the list and as soon as you think you've covered everything, you're like, oh no, what about that one? Oh, yeah. What about, especially in the age of all these digital tools and platforms we all use, a lot of them, especially the platforms that let you white label. So let's say you've purchased some sort of interface your clients can log into. Well, you have to make sure your logo's updated there and there's the backend of all the programs you might use, your employees’ desktop backgrounds. Yeah, it does just spiral. So to your point, you do want to make sure if you're going to do it, let's do it. 

Lauren (08:20):
And let's talk about that too. What's the effort to be able to go through a logo redesign, and what does that actually look like? I think there's platforms you can go to and spend a small amount of money and get tons of logos, and go with that. You can work with a designer. There's so many kinds; it's wide and varied. Talk about what that, at least for us, what that process looks like and how that impacts other pieces. 

Ellie (08:47):
That's a good question. In the age of especially, I don't even want to know where AI is going to take this. I'm terrified. But yeah, there's places you can go and you can get a logo for $5, and in a year you'll probably be able to get one. Actually, probably next month—you'll probably be able to get one made by a robot. But the thing about those, and I'll segue into the process, is some of those might spit out a lovely logo that looks great. But back to the point I was making earlier is if it doesn't fit you then it's not serving you. It might be beautiful. It might be like, oh, I love it so much, it's my style. But does it convey what you do and what you stand for, and does it appeal to the right people? One thing I really appreciate about the process we use is starting with the brand book. I hope I'm not taking another one of your questions by segue.

Lauren (09:33):
No, go for it. Yeah, this is great.

Ellie (09:36):
But yeah, personally, when we were working on our own logo, one of the first important steps you need to do when you're designing a logo, whether it's designing it from scratch or refreshing, is like, okay, what does it need to communicate? I talk about creative math a lot when I'm talking to our designers, like, okay, what do you do? What do you stand for? What are your values? Plus what's unique about you? And all those things together should inform what your logo looks like. It should convey all those things. So it's this really neat intersection of how do you convey what industry you're in? I've seen beautiful logos walking around. There was a logo I can actually think of in my neighborhood that I used to walk by all the time, and it was beautiful, and I thought it was a boutique. And then I found out two years later it was a dentist. And I was like, well, that's a bummer. It was a beautiful logo. But I never in a million years would've said, oh, that's a dentist's office.

You have to make sure all of those things intersect. So what I like about us starting with the brand book is that on the strategy side, that work is honestly kind of done for the designer before it gets to them. We've defined the brand, personality has been defined, the mission statement has been defined, the audiences have been defined. So then we can take all those things and say, okay, how do we make a graphic out of pixels that says all those things in just a quick snapshot, which is so difficult to do.

Lauren (11:00):
I mean, I've heard in going through exercises, we want something beautiful. But what does beautiful mean? It means so many different things to so many different people and trying to distill that and going through that process. One of the things, Ellie, that I really appreciate you did with our team when we were going through this logo redesign is I feel like you gave us so many gradients of what it could look like, a safe version. This is our logo but it's just a little bit different and here's why. Here's the kind of option two where it's like, okay, now we're starting to deviate. And then option three was like, whoa, we're really deviating. Do we even recognize this? If you were to change clothes or hairstyles or makeup or whatever, maybe share a little bit more about that process. In thinking through that and just presenting it. It was really insightful. And I think it really also seemed, because we had so many people on the call too, and seeing people's inputs, different generations backgrounds. But yeah, share a little bit more about that part of it.

Ellie (11:56):
Yeah, that's the thing. Thanks for asking that. I do feel like that's a really valuable kind of litmus test. One of my favorite things to do with a logo redesign is even when we have it really well defined and we know what we know, the brand personality we're going for, we know who we're trying to appeal to, we know strategically what we're trying to do—have some options. In our case, we were trying to take a logo that had been designed kind of as an industry-agnostic marketing company but now we've evolved to be a financial services-specific marketing company. So we knew that was part of the brief. But even within that, there's still a lot of ways you could take it. So coming in with a bunch of different directions of, yeah, like you said, here's the most edgy we could go.

Here’s the safest we could go. It kind of reminds me, honestly, of those makeover shows. Sometimes they go in and they just give them a new haircut, like a little bit of a trim, and they get them new clothes. And sometimes it's like, no, I want to reinvent myself. I want to be a whole new person. And the person who goes into the curtain looks completely different than the person who comes out. And sometimes you just don't know where your comfort level lies or what is going to feel right until you see it. So you throw those options out and you say, okay, gut check, go. What do you love? What do you hate? And sometimes one of those options will hit the nail on the head. It'll be like, oh, option three, done and done. That feels right. Sometimes none of them will hit it, and the next round of design is something completely different. But at least then that conversation can start. It's that funnel; we've started at the top of the funnel and we're narrowing and narrowing and narrowing until we find the right solution.

Lauren (13:34):
Yeah, it's so true. And it's something you're going to stick with for a while. It's kind of like you're picking a child's name or something. You're going to hear that name a lot, right? And so you want to make sure it fits. It fits. Yeah. It just fits. So, okay. Should we share the logo? Do we want to share the logo, maybe to illustrate where we got to?

Ellie (14:10):
Well, this is the current one. 

Lauren (14:11):
Okay. So let's say this part of this process is we narrowed it down. I also feel like you look at your competitors, you sleep on it, you’ve got to give it time and space. We scaled it. We saw how it could look in so many sizes if it was going to be as small as, I don't know, a stamp. Yeah. So okay, let's take it from this to where we went or where we're going. So I'll let you take it away. 

Ellie (14:48):
Okay. Well, yeah. Essentially, as I mentioned a few minutes ago, this was a case, I think, where this shift we talked about making was because we have shifted. This wasn't like, oh, this logo is so outdated. We designed it when Quark was still the program. There was nothing wrong with this here. This was fine. This could work. If there was another company Out & About Communications this might work for them. But this was designed, was brand new 10 years ago and was serving all sorts of clients across all sorts of industries. But now we are very firmly dedicated to financial services. And this just felt a little too soft, a little too feminine. We wanted something that not only felt a little bit more relevant in the financial services space—number one to feel relevant—but number two to show our clients a little bit more of what you could get from us if we were to work on your brand. But also now our brand personality is more defined. And that was part of the brand book work I was talking about.

Am I allowed to say our brand personality?

Lauren (15:55):
Yeah, let's do it. Let's share it. 

Ellie (15:57):
I wasn’t sure if it was a secret sauce.

Lauren (15:58):
It’s not!

Ellie (16:00):
Yeah, our brand personality is magnetic zest. And what I love about that is that's the energy we try to bring to everything we do, to every client meeting, to every interaction, to every project. Part of the reason why personally, a second part of the reason why I took this, rolled it Out & About, is because I think it's really interesting working in industries or in brands other people might think are dry. Oh, financial services. Oh, banking loans. Oh, financial advisors, that's so boring. But it doesn't have to be; it's only boring if you decide it's going to be boring.

So that's why I really like the intersection of how do we take our brand personality of magnetic zest and marry that with something that feels relevant and kind of the stereotypically stuffy, even though that industry is loosening up a little bit. If you look at some of the SaaS products and other new innovations, the financial services area is definitely opening up and starting to have a little bit more personality. But how do we bring those two together in a little bit more of a relevant way as compared to just where this was and what it was designed for was a different purpose?

Lauren (17:05):
Totally dead on. And by the way, we have a whole other podcast where Tiffany, who's our content director, goes through what the brand personality is. We can link to that below as well. And we further define what magnetic zest is. If someone were to hear that off the street, they'd be like, what in the world? But we go into what that means. It literally is a whole tool, an awesome tool that we talk about on that other podcast. So okay, I feel like, again, drumroll. Do we want to share where we are? Okay, let's talk about where we're at.

Ellie (17:40):
Yeah. Okay. So I'll talk through a few aspects of it. And sorry if I get design jargony; I'll try not to.

So you can tell from the before and after, our name isn't changing. The format isn't changing. The emphasis on an ampersand isn't changing but we picked a tight face that's a lot cleaner, a lot more contemporary. It's not quite as cute. It's a little less cute. It takes itself a little more seriously. We picked an ampersand that's bolder, a color palette with a gradient that's bolder. It's a little bit more sophisticated. And I think honestly, when it comes down to it, it feels more confident. It's got that magnetic zest. It's here, it's not shy, it tells you what it recommends whereas the original might be a little bit more soft spoken.

And one of my favorite parts about this process was—I'm outing myself a little bit here. So we were looking at these ampersands, we're like, okay, we're not changing your name. The ampersand is still going to be a big part of this logo, whatever shape it was. So we had dozens of ampersands, and as I was looking at them all, I was like, I knew this was my favorite. I just knew it but I was having a moment where I couldn't articulate why. And that's bad designer, bad creative director. You should always be able to articulate why.

Lauren (18:59):
But that's where the conversation comes in. 

Ellie (19:03):
You look at it for so many hours and it's like when you look at a word too many times and you're like, that's the real word. And we were in a group meeting with the director team and Lauren and talking about it. And Tiffany, you just mentioned our content director, looked at it. She's like that one because is it a three? Is it that angle that reminds me of a percent sign? Is it a backward seven? There was something about it that felt numeric, and I was like, that's it. That's why it feels right. I couldn't figure it out, but Tiffany got it.

Lauren (19:36):
Yeah, I know. I really love that too, and the insight. And I feel like one of the things I really appreciate about the process as well is you're just so excited and open for the feedback and being able to go back and forth. And I feel like that's one of the great things too, is being able to have that open dialog and feedback to work through what's right, even the font and where it lays and the spacing. And then actually, I'm excited not to give too much away here in a preview but that ampersand, you're going to see that played out in so many fun ways and that gradient. So that is sort of like how a logo actually waterfalls and impacts everything else too.

Ellie (20:23):
It's not just in its bubble. It's like, yeah, what parts of it kind of extend. And I think, yeah, waterfall is a good word. It flows throughout the rest of the touchpoint in the look and feel. 

Lauren (20:32):
Yeah. So fun. Okay, so one more question for you. I feel like, who knows, we might throw in another question but I feel like once you get that logo down and then do the variations of it and that sort of thing but let's talk about taglines and logos. Should you add a tagline to a logo or not? What does that actually mean and what should you be looking for? So I'd love to hear a little bit about that side of things that could potentially be a part of the finished product.

Ellie (21:06):
And I'd say the answer is a little bit of neither here nor there. Yes and no. But that's definitely one. Taglines and logos, I especially feel like it gets to be not a sticking point but kind of sticking point. Especially when you're a small to medium-sized business and you're like, okay, people might not know who I am. I don't have the brand recognition of the other brands we mentioned, Coca-Cola, Nike, whoever, Disney.

We just say who we are. So I think especially with small and medium-sized brands, there's definitely a place for having a version of your logo that's locked up with your tagline but I always encourage brands to not always have one. Even if you're like, no, we need to say who we are. We need to say who we are. It doesn't always have to be in your logo. And I say that mostly because, especially for the long tagline, if your tagline describes a lot of what you do, if you always try to lock that up with your logo and have them together, especially in the age of 70% of email being read on mobile devices and social profile assets that are only 10, 80 pixels wide, you might think you're adding more information to the conversation but it might end up actually doing you a disservice by not being legible at a small size or giving people too much to read or becoming cluttered.

So one of my favorite things to do is just you can have the best of both worlds. If you look at your logo as a separate asset, your tagline as a separate asset, then you think about, actually Nike does this—it's not always the swoosh and Just Do It separately. They use them both. They use them both all the time. But it's kind of like the flex of when do you lead with who you are? When do you lead with what you do? When do you have to have them both together but make sure they're not competing with each other?

Lauren (22:56):
So well said. Yeah, that's really well said. I know, I feel like taglines are one of the really hard things to nail and for it to be scalable, especially if your name's a little bit long. So it gets really tricky. And just to swing it back to the earlier point of strategy can change. So you have to be committed to a name. You really have to be committed to that tagline, just like you're committed to the logo. So it's an all-in kind of commitment and not a we're going to just tweak this on the fly. Oh my goodness. So great. Anything else to add that we're forgetting here?

Ellie (23:32):
I can't think of anything but I'm sure I'll think of something in five minutes after we hang up.

Lauren (23:35):
I know it's fun to nerd out on these kinds of things.

Ellie, thanks for taking us through this. I think logos are so important, and we see them when we look at them all the time. And so that investment in it, it's an investment. And so I feel like if it's done well, again, it waterfalls into everything else. So I appreciate you taking us through some of this process and the thinking and folks got a sneak peek right here and a little bit of the why, right? So yeah, 10 years in, it's nice to be able to take a look back and have a cemented idea of where we are in that look ahead and to help guide that direction. So thank you for it and thanks for all the work you do for our team and clients, Ellie.

Ellie
It's a lot of fun. Okay. Of course. Thank you. And thanks for letting me nerd out. 

Lauren
Oh yeah, anytime. Love it. All right, thanks. We'll make sure to include links below and we'll include that old podcast, not old, it's not really that old but that older podcast, the one about brand personalities too. All right. Thanks Ellie. 

Ellie
Thanks so much, Lauren. Talk to you soon.

Financial Services Branding: When and How Should You Redesign Your Company Logo?

Ellie Alexander, creative director at Out & About Communications, shares the benefit of refreshing brand logos to best represent and convey your story.
Operations & Management
February 1, 2024

We talked with Alan about:

  • The stories behind XYPN and AdvicePay
  •  Distinctive features of XYPN LIVE that make it successful
  •  How XYPN is building community (and tips for building your own!)


About Alan Moore:

With an active entrepreneurial spirit, Alan Moore is determined to help financial advisors branch out and delve into new niches. He is the co-founder of AdvicePay and XY Planning Network. Alan strives to create more spaces for Gen X and Gen Y advisors who serve clients outside the traditional mold. 


Featured Resources 


Enjoying this interview? You'll love these: 

Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:04):
Thanks for joining us, Alan. It's good to have you here.

Alan (00:07):
Thank you. Excited to be here.

Lauren (00:08):
Yeah, I was just sharing with you before, I feel like I've seen you everywhere with XYPN and things that are going on, and you guys have just been absolutely crushing it. So appreciate you taking time today to share with us a little bit, not only about your background but the things that you guys are doing. I feel like you have really cut through the clutter in so many ways. And before we get into all the things you guys got going on, I want to just hand over the mic. Tell us a little bit about your background; why financial planning, this whole world; and how you got to where you are today. So I’ll let you take it away.

Alan (00:43):
Absolutely. Yeah. I was really fortunate to have discovered financial planning in college. I took an intro to personal finance class. I thought I was going to learn how to budget for myself and stuff, and I was actually taking the intro to CFP® coursework, which was way harder than I was expecting but I absolutely fell in love with it. It was a brand new program at the University of Georgia and I fell in love with the work we get to do as financial planners historically, and probably when I told my parents, hey, I've decided to get a degree in family financial planning, they immediately think, oh, it's just number crunching. My mom was like, you weren't very good at math in high school, and she was right. But I think the financial planning industry has evolved where it is so much more people oriented than just numbers; it's a cool blend of emotions and numbers and we get to run projections but then also we have clients crying in our office and not implementing the plan and trying to figure out why. That to me was just really fascinating. And so again, I just fell in love with financial planning and the work we get to do here as advisors. And so I came out of school, worked at a couple of different RIAs before getting fired from my last job and decided entrepreneurship was the path for me, and started my own RIA back in 2012.

Lauren (02:10):
High fives to that. Yeah. Yeah.

Alan (02:14):
And I just felt like this. I wanted to serve a different client base than most of the RIAs I was looking at were serving. We typically worked with millionaire baby boomers, which is awesome. That's great. Valuable work. But I really wanted to work with clients who were in their 20s and 30s, getting married, getting divorced, new jobs, student loan debt, having kids.

Lauren (02:37):
Those kinds of issues. All those kinds of things. 

Alan (02:39):
Yeah, those very real issues. And so ultimately I decided to launch my own firm to work with those clients.

Lauren (02:48):
So let's hear a little bit more. I want to shift with that too, a little bit more about AdvicePay and XYPN and just for folks who maybe aren't familiar with either. Can you give the high level of those and then we'll get a little further.

Alan (03:03):
Yeah. When I started my own firm, I had to figure everything out on my own. And what I found was over the really first 18 months of running my own business, speaking at a few conferences, doing a guest blog post on kitces.com, which got some attention, and I just started getting all these questions but they were the same questions from tons of advisors. I had over a hundred phone calls with advisors over the course of 18 months. They were all asking the same things: How do you do compliance? How do you do marketing? How did you select technology? They weren't asking me how to do financial planning. They taught us that in CFP® school. What they were asking was, how do I run a business? They did not teach us that in CFP® school. And so XY Planning Network was founded by myself and Michael Kitces back in 2014, so almost 10 years ago now, with the mission of providing a platform that allows advisors to build independent businesses and build their own RIA.

And so we very much consider ourselves sort of an entrepreneurial platform. We specialize in financial services in the RIA world, all Michael and I know. But today we have right around 1,800 advisors who are part of our network—we've helped launch their RIAs. And our focus is on advisors. Sort of our unique part of the marketplace is working with clients on a fee for service basis who maybe don't have the assets to support an AUM fee. And so as XYPN started to grow, one thing is if you want to work with clients and they don't necessarily have assets, then we like to say, instead of 1% of AUM, it's 1% of income. You've got to charge them out of cash flow. They have the money to pay for financial planning but no one wants to get checks every month. No one's going to write a $100, $200 check every month.

And so we started on the search for how our advisors could actually get paid while still adhering to all the custody requirements, compliance requirements we have in our industry. Talked to a lot of different payment platforms and no one was interested in our industry. They just didn't feel like it was big enough. They didn't understand it, they didn't understand the restrictions and all of that. And so in 2015, we launched AdvicePay. Neither Michael nor I had ever built tech before but we launched AdvicePay and have been building that ever since to provide a payment processing solution for advisors so they can get paid for financial planning. So they are separate companies but very much linked in terms of their missions.

Lauren (05:36):
So I want to get into conferences. You guys have got so much going on. Before we do that, I just want to hear a little bit about how in the world have you built XYPN to be such a massive network. I know these tools go together that you've mentioned but I'd love just to hear a little bit about that journey to growing it out. Did it just grow naturally because people needed this help? Or was it through Michael's network? What was it that felt like, what was the magnet?

Alan (06:06):
It's a great question. When we first started, we dreamed of what if in 20 years we had 200 advisors, what if in 10 years we could have 200 advisors? Any projection we drew, we absolutely blew out of the water. And I think a couple of things happened. I mean, one, I think we miscalculated the overall demand for advisors who were frustrated in their current situations. There were a lot of us who were failed succession planners that were promised equity. We were told, hey, you get to buy the firm in five years and in five years in it's seven more years. And it was just never happening. And there was also this pent up hunger among advisors who wanted to work with clients like them, whether that be age, race, gender, certain profession, certain challenges, people who like to travel, whatever the thing is.

And so there was this desire for autonomy around wanting to work with certain clients who historically have not been served by financial advisors, wanting to be able to charge potentially in a way that you feel is the right way, whether that be out of income, cash flow, maybe that's being advice only or flat fee. And then also being able to do financial planning the way you believe it should be done. Because there are many different ways, obviously, to do planning. And so that's really where we've seen the advisors who are interested in what we're doing. We're very big on when you start a firm, have a niche, and we've carved out a very small niche in the marketplace that has given us the ability to sort of plant our flag and say, this is our corner of the marketplace, and if you want to do another piece of the marketplace, fantastic. That's not what we do. And that I would say is what has led to our growth.

Lauren (07:50):
Yeah, when you were talking, I was thinking, okay, you not only know your target, you are the target in a lot of ways, right? Which is, I mean, super key. Okay, so it's really hard to build a community, and you guys have not only built that community, you understand the pain point and you've also identified the pain point. But let's talk a little bit, shifting on the XYPN side. You guys are doing conferences and more conferences. The whole conference world has gotten crazy with COVID and this sort of thing. Why that? What's the value add? I'd love to hear about the main value add you all see? What are you guys doing that's different, that's keeping people there and interested and maybe kind of unpack that, right? What are the big challenges?

Alan (08:38):
Yeah, I'll say if you look at the numbers and just what we see in terms of attendance at conferences, the generalist conferences are getting crushed and the niche conferences are growing really well or at least holding strong in terms of attendance. And so the reason is because historically when I was an advisor, I would go to an association conference. There may be 40, 50 sessions out there, but only two or three of them really applied to me. And I'm surrounded by advisors, especially then I was 25 when I started my firm. I sat at the kids' table. There was one table of us under 40, and there weren't really advisors who were dealing with what I was dealing with at the time. And so what you generally see from the really big conferences or the historically more generalist conferences is they just struggle to curate the content and the experience to be ideal for their target market because their target market is so wide.

And so by having a really narrow focus here at XYPN, it helps us to curate the conference in a way that makes it a conference people actually want to come to. And so a few of our tenets are, we don't do any pay to play speaking. And so everyone has to earn their spot on stage by providing great content. All of the content—we will do three or four concurrent sessions and all of them are relevant to you and your business. And we try to identify if you're early stage or a little bit later stage, different pain points. But in the end, generally you're choosing between two or three you'd really like to go to. So the content is really curated because again, we're not trying to serve all advisors from all different walks. We're just serving sort of this narrow market.

We do a lot of work at the conference from a community perspective and helping people find their tribe. XYPN itself is a tribe. And then we have sort of these mini communities that have popped up throughout. Sometimes those are niche focused, like the—I'm going to get the name of this wrong—but the association or the Financial Planners Association for working with veterans and service members has 40 or 50 members who are XYPN, and that grew out of our conference. Things like that are just amazing to see. And then finally, the exhibit hall in the end, the exhibit hall is what pays for a conference. We were doing the math recently and we were charging $300 or $350 for a ticket to the conference. And every attendee costs us about $1,200 just in hard cost of food and drinks and speakers and all that sort of thing.

So the exhibit hall is ultimately what drives the conference but if you go to most conferences, the exhibit hall is kind of a miserable place. It's miserable for vendors because you stay there for three days, you work for an hour, you're off for two. No one's really coming in, and it can be really hard to get engagement and to be willing then to write the big checks for what sponsorships can cost. And so one of the things we did seven, eight years ago now, and we keep waiting for another conference to copy us, which is totally fine. We didn't come up with the idea but we were the first to do it in our space. But we do a one-day exhibit hall experience. And so a couple of things lead to this. One is we limit the number of product companies that can be in the exhibit hall.

Candidly, most people don't. Most advisors don't actually want to talk to vendors who are using the advisor to sell something to their clients when you're a fund company or product company or offering lending, that sort of thing, that can be valuable for the advisor but ultimately you're using the advisor to distribute your product or service to the client. So instead of sort of the B2B to C model, we really focus on B2B vendors who are there to support the advisor's business. Makes sense. And so that also makes it really cool, it's really efficient. We focus it just on one day. Vendors can come and go and only spend one or two nights away from their families but you get this really focused time where advisors get to really talk to vendors who are providing solutions to help them better run their business. And we find we get really, really high engagement in that exhibit hall day because of that.

Lauren (12:50):
I want to hear a little about the Coaches Corner piece of it too, which I know I'm shifting a little bit more but I think that's a really unique piece. I'd love to hear you talk a little bit more about that as well.

Alan (12:58):
Yeah, I mean, as our team has grown here at XYPN, we've got about 80-something team members now and another 30 over at AdvicePay. We have experts on our team in various areas. Some of those coaches are member-facing and some of them are just experts on our team, such as our own marketing team. They're experts in things like SEO and Google Ads and that sort of thing. And so we pulled together many of the team members here at XYPN and make it so advisors can sign up for, depending on the coach, let's say a 20-minute, 30-minute session to talk about something really specific. So they can meet with a bookkeeper to say, hey, because we have our XYP and books team that does bookkeeping for advisors, they can meet with them to say, hey, my chart of accounts is a mess. What do you think? How can I improve here? They may meet with our head of marketing operations and talk to him about their HubSpot strategy or their SEO strategy. And so it's really just about connecting experts and making those experts available who aren't always necessarily available to our members just because they have day jobs but at the conference it gives them the opportunity to really provide value to those advisors.

Lauren (14:11):
To get into their specific problem, to be able to unpack it from an expert standpoint, if you will.

Alan (14:17):
Yeah, I mean, ultimately when you leave a conference, you need one takeaway. You just need one win, basically one introduction, one thing you've learned. And many times that one thing can come from Coach's Corner because you get to go talk about one specific pain point you're experiencing and get that solved. So that can really provide a lot of value even if it's just 20 minutes.

Lauren (14:39):
That makes sense. So can you talk a little bit more about if there are any pre- and post-conference things that are happening to get people, I don't know, just excited about the speakers or help planning or any homework and what post?

Alan (14:52):
That's a great question. We don't do a ton on the pre side, just obviously we do the announcements around who the keynotes will be and release speaker names and that sort of thing. After the event, there is an opportunity. We record every session so attendees can go back and watch the sessions they missed or be able to download the files or the slides from any of those sessions. But really it sort of funnels into our overall community we're curating and working on throughout the year, which is doing local meetups in various cities where we have a bunch of advisors in one place. There's online communities and study groups, and we have webinar content throughout the year. So we're really engaging in what if all we did was a conference, we would probably be adding on a lot of the community stuff that we do to drive engagement. We just started with a community, then added the conference.

Lauren (15:48):
How have you guys gotten people out of their house, especially with COVID and getting them to the conference? Do you think it's all this pre-work on the side where people are like, I made that connection. I want to meet that person and this is further driving that, or how are you making that happen? Are people just frankly sick of the webinars? Right? Tell me a little bit about that.

Alan (16:09):
I would say our target market, the majority of XYPN advisors, are solo advisors. Many times they are the parent who became the stay-at-home parent or the on-call parent during COVID. And so they became the teacher and the daycare and all the things all at once. And what we find is that many times, especially I guess 2021, 2022, this was the first time they had been around other adults, and it was just kind of an excuse to get out of the house and just not be dad or mom, just go be a financial planner, go be an advisor again. And so the energy levels in, I guess it was 2022, we were in Denver, just the energy levels of the conference were so high. It was so fun because the advisors really appreciated that community. They missed that in-person community. And so we generally find advisors want to go to one to two conferences a year. And so we're shooting to be one of those conferences.

Lauren (17:13):
Yeah, that makes sense. Okay. So with this, you've got your pulse on what's going on. You're feeling that pain point. You've got this whole community you've built. Are there any trends you're seeing, like topical trends, challenges this audience needs? What are you hearing?

Alan (17:34):
Yeah, I mean there are a few different trends we're seeing. I mean, one is that the makeup, demographic of clients is changing. The demographic of the clients who are looking for financial advice. They are younger, they are less male, they are less white than they used to be historically, that's just who we've served. And yet there's a much more diverse audience that's looking for financial planning and needs financial planning, and they're willing to pay for advice. They understand there are sales or there are compensation models that are not as aligned potentially with their best interests, and they're looking for fiduciary advisors, whether they're fee only or not. I'm less concerned about your fee structure. I'm much more concerned about being a fiduciary. So if you're a fiduciary advisor, clients are looking for you. The technology landscape continues to evolve rapidly. It probably gets, sometimes I feel like too much attention, sometimes not enough depending on the day.

But the landscape is changing quickly, and we are starting to see this rise of more niche planning tools that really allow us to do less rearward looking plan generation and more sort of real-time, financial planning and value add. And so we're seeing the fastest growing technology companies in our space seem to be the ones that are supporting the delivery of advice. They're supporting us showing value to our clients throughout the year. And then finally, we continue to see the rise in the success of advisors who are willing to go all in on a niche. And we continue to see these firms growing, and we do an annual benchmarking survey to our members. And those who are focused on a niche, they are growing faster, they have much higher close rate with prospective clients. They are spending less time per client because they're experts in that area. They're earning higher fees per client. All the metrics you want to see are you're seeing when you have a niche. And so that's been another trend we've championed, and we're starting to see the fruits of that. The folks who are willing to say I work with this particular target market are definitely seeing the benefits of it.

Lauren (19:43):
So fascinating. Okay. One more question for you. So looking ahead, anything you want to call out for the future of what XYPN looks like, AdvicePay, anything that's kind of on the horizon that would be good to give a shoutout to?

Alan (19:57):
Yeah, I mean, we announced it at our conference, depending on when this episode goes live, it may have been announced or not, or maybe I'm letting the cat out of the bag but we are moving forward with a pilot project to offer a corporate RIA to our members. Historically, each of our members are their own RIA. So we have 1,450 RIAs affiliated with XYPN, and we are starting to see more advisors who are looking for the ability to still have their own brand and their own website and that sort of thing but to still be able to centralize a lot of the back office operations, compliance, investment management tasks. And so that's really what we're going to be working on in 2024, is piloting that program and really gaining an understanding of what are the needs of our members and how can we support them. But it's something I'm pretty excited about because there's a huge need in the industry for corporate RIA services or those centralized services that are really planning centric. Historically, they've been very investment centric. And so that's going to be our focus for the next year and we’re really excited for what that's going to bring.

Lauren (21:02):
Oh, so great. Well, thank you so much for sharing just a little bit about your background, XYPN, AdvicePay. We'll make sure to include links below as well. And I feel like you've done a tremendous job too, of just outlining who this is a fit for. So it's fun to see what's on the horizon and totally amazing to see. I think this platform will just grow and also, like you said, you really know your target. But yeah, super appreciate your time. This is really fun and looking forward to continue to watch it just totally take off.

Alan (21:32):
Well, thank you for the time today. I appreciate it all.

How to Plan In-Person Events to Build Community and Loyalty

Alan Moore, co-founder of AdvicePay and XY Planning Network, shares the benefits of diving into a niche and how doing so can strengthen communities.
Compliance & Technology
January 25, 2024
We talked with Leila about:
  • Creating My RIA Lawyer and what makes it different
  • Compliance concerns in 2024
  • Ways to stay educated and aware, even with an outsourced compliance solution on your side


About Leila Shaver:

Leila Shaver knows compliance for a firm is not a simple task and requires specialized knowledge. That’s why she founded My RIA Lawyer, an outsourced agency focused on navigating the legal complexities of the RIA space. A self-labeled “compliance nerd,” Leila uses her background to serve a range of clients, from start-ups to established firms with billions in assets under management.


Featured Resources 

Like what you heard? You’ll also love:

Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:04):

Layla, thank you for joining us today.

Leila (00:07):

I'm excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Lauren (00:09):

Yeah, I've seen you all over LinkedIn. You've got so many great things going on. We both are in this world of financial services, wealth management, and you have built, like you were saying earlier, kind of a boutique firm but not a small firm either, right? You've got a team, and I'm excited to hear more about the journey to how you got to where you are today with your business, a little bit more about your service offerings, and really get into the heart of compliance and where it's going, especially in the new year. So I don't want to steal your thunder. Why don't you share a little bit more about your background and the kind of things you guys do and a little bit more about your team?

Leila (00:47):

Sure. I'm always happy to talk about myself, the firm, and the team. So my journey has kind of been one I think a lot of people in our industry can relate to. When I went into law school, I had no idea securities law was a thing. I hadn't considered financial services. It wasn't really something I was really exposed to going to school. So I got introduced to it because my mock trial coach in law school was in-house for a broker-dealer headquartered in Atlanta, and they needed some additional support and I needed a job. So there, yep. That's how I got in. And essentially what happened was they promoted me after law school and I became one of three in-house counsel. The great thing about this position was this firm was always having issues with regulators, which meant as one of three attorneys—and this was a firm that had over 500 register reps nationally—I got to do a lot of work.

I managed a lot of arbitrations, regulatory matters, but it was also my first introduction to what happens when compliance and supervision aren't doing what they're supposed to be doing. And from there, I worked at different fund companies. I was an associate at a law firm that specialized in hedge funds, and eventually I started My RIA Lawyer back in 2017, with the goal to really deliver services ultimately the way I wanted to deliver them. So much of what you get from service providers now is very consultative, telling you what to do. They're not kind of pulling up their sleeves and getting in the muck with you and taking the work off your plate. So where we have really kind of differentiated ourselves beyond using the hashtag not your daddy's law firm and calling ourselves a bunch of compliance nerds is that we’re really focused on taking the work over from you.

You're not going to get a call from us and we're just going to tell you what to do. Our job is to take it over. So we currently offer two levels of compliance services. There is our outsource compliance department service or OCD for short and OCD-plus, which is the outsource compliance department plus a CCO. And the service is really meant to simulate an in-house compliance department. So you don't get one consultant—you get a team of at least three to five people working in managing your compliance. So from that perspective, for some of our clients we are the only compliance people they have for their firm.

Lauren (03:43):

Got it. Got it. So you literally plug into their department structure as a piece of part of their department, if you will. 

Leila (03:51):

Right, and everyone in their firm has access to us. So advisors have questions, the executive team has questions, your administrative assistant has questions—they all can access us directly. And then we also offer legal services. So we have an ongoing general counsel service where we'll do corporate governance, E&O insurance updates, fidelity bond updates and renewal arbitration, litigation, regulatory defense enforcement defense, and then all the fun kind of transactional—I'm buying a book of business, I need some legal documents, I need a new employment contract, succession planning documents, buy-sell agreements, all the kind of fun transactional legal stuff. So we do all that as a general counsel for a firm as well. So again, really instead of providing advice, doing the work for our clients.

Lauren (04:46):

Got it. Do you mind sharing a little bit more about what we talked a little bit earlier, this idea of the kind of university platform you have as well. I'd love to hear about that offering.

Leila (04:55):

Yes. So we also offer something called RIA Compliance University, and it is a subscription-based service. So our smaller firms that maybe aren't at the size yet where they can really benefit from our OCD and OCD-plus service, they will go to RIA Compliance University. It's a 12-week bootcamp. So over the course of 12 weeks, we lay down the foundation of what is compliance, what are the regulations that govern you, what are the different pieces you have to know as an owner of an RIA? And then every month we deliver teachings that are an inch wide and a mile deep, and with those teachings come additional resources like form templates, additional documents you can utilize. If we're talking about compliance testing, maybe it's the form to document, say your best execution review, for example. So really what it's meant to do is lay the foundation of education and knowledge for the advisor, and then provide ongoing training and education for that advisor who may be the CCO in their firm for their compliance staff. And by tackling one topic each month, it gives the compliance person or advisor an opportunity to take one piece of their compliance program and really lock it in and then move on to the next piece every month.

Lauren (06:20):

So smart. We see that a lot too, where you've got usually it's a dual role, right? It's like an advisor and they're also wearing the compliance hat, or it's the COO or something of that sort. And it's a lot to keep up with.

Leila (06:33):

A ton to keep up with.

Lauren (06:34):

So you providing that offering, I'm sure helps folks to sharpen their own toolkit as they're on their growth path.

Leila (06:42):

Well, I mean, let's be real. How many advisors are going to go out there and read the 600-page new rule document? You know what I mean? 

Lauren (06:50):

You’ll be able to understand it, from all the legal jargon and everything. So it's a lot to unpack. So, okay, thinking about compliance because it is so important and it hits all RIA firms, I’d be curious to hear, since you've got such a pulse on it, what does it look like for the new year? Are there any new pieces that are rolling out that would be helpful to talk about? Are there any trends in how folks are handling their own compliance departments or trainings? I'd love to hear from your perspective what you are seeing.

Leila (07:25):

Sure. So I mean, the big concern from a regulatory perspective is going to be technology, cybersecurity, and ensuring advisors are fulfilling their fiduciary duty, right? So ChatGPT— that came out and everyone went crazy, even in the legal industry. I can't tell you how many attorneys tell me they sent pleadings into the court system with fake cases from ChatGPT. But I think it highlights some of the similar concerns when it comes to cybersecurity and using AI in the financial services arena and making sure you're using an AI that's got a fixed loop of data it's referring to rather than something like ChatGPT that's just pulling data from anywhere and everywhere on the internet. We talk about cybersecurity. So when I first started in this industry, there were no high-definition color copies. We were still doing fax, we still had the company cell phones.

The technology just wasn't where it is. Now, just about all the clients we have are on some sort of cloud-based application when it comes to keeping the records. When you go access your custodian, you can access it from your telephone, your tablet, your computer. Technology has come a really long way. But something that COVID really revealed to us too was that there are so many gaps in our cybersecurity, and traditionally RIAs just haven't made cybersecurity a high priority in their firm. So we see a lot of firms getting hacked, and it can be low tech ways of hacking. How many times do you get an email and it's like, oh, you need to reset your Microsoft password, and you look at where it's from. It's an email address that's like 20 characters long.

Lauren (09:29):

Yes.

Leila (09:30):

So cybersecurity is a big issue. Implementing things like multi-factor authentication, changing passwords every so often, having requirements when it comes to the strength of your passwords, how many characters, if it's a combination of numbers, letters, and special characters, that kind of thing. So cybersecurity is really important. And in our industry where we have so much access to sensitive data, like Social Security numbers, addresses, legal names, physical addresses—that is data hackers want. So financial services is a huge target for these hackers.

And then finally, I mentioned the advisor's fiduciary duty. So the fiduciary duty requires advisors do what's in the best interest of their clients, which is higher than a suitability standard, which just means the product or recommendation has to be suitable, may not necessarily be in their best interest but it's suitable with financial advisors. It has to be in their best interest. And that also means you're putting your client's interest ahead of your own. So when we're looking at fiduciary duty, we're looking at different ways in which advisors are compensated. We're looking at disclosure of conflicts of interest. We're looking at whether they're doing things like vendor due diligence and providing oversight over third-party asset managers they're utilizing. So these are kind of all areas of concern we're tracking that are top priorities for regulators going into 2024.

Lauren (11:07):

It's a lot, when you say compliance, you may just think of being prepared for the SEC coming in and doing a filing, and there's so much more to it that's involved. If a firm is entertaining having that sort of outsourced department, what are the key things to be able to get ready for a team like yours to be able to come in? Or even just tips folks should be thinking about to be ready as they're growing their compliance teams so they are kind of thinking broadly and not narrow with compliance as a topic at large?

Leila (11:39):

So I think something advisors have to put aside is this thought of compliance as overhead. When we go and work with clients of different sizes—this is an issue for both the small RIA, maybe a hundred million in assets and couple advisors, and the $10 billion AUM firm and up—is that compliance has traditionally been understaffed, and it's because it's considered a cost center. It's overhead, right? But when you look at all the SEC's releases year over year in terms of the amount of fines they've levied, the amount of discouragement, the number of suspensions, almost every year for the last five years it's been a record. So when we're thinking about what is the cost of not having good compliance or adequate compliance these days, it's significantly high. And so you can't look at compliance as a cost center anymore. If anything, it's a cost savings center because it's keeping you from having to pay these fines to the regulators.

So I think that's kind of the first mindset adjustment, different way. And then second, there's firms out there that still use spreadsheets. It drives me nuts. There is so much technology out there now where we can set up your compliance calendar, outline all the tasks that are required, all the forms that need to be completed to document your compliance testing, and then automate it to just remind you. However, and there are still a lot of firms, large firms too, they're still using spreadsheets. They're not using compliance-specific technology but they're trying to mesh together their CRM and their document retention location to try to create some sort of system for tracking compliance, and it doesn't work. When we see firms like that, we systematically identify deficiencies and sometimes very serious deficiencies when they manage compliance that way. It also makes it very easy for people to hide wrongdoing if you're only tracking things via a spreadsheet. With technology, we can pull reporting, we can view trends, we can see what the problem branch office is or the problem advisor is, and be able to address that because the technology creates that data for us.

Lauren (14:16):

Yep. I'm sure that's part of your process, just auditing all the tools that are in existence or not in existence to be able to put those checks and balances in place.

Leila (14:26):

It is, and I think some of it too is technology is also overhead. It's a cost. So there's sometimes where firms want to get the lowest cost option, that's not always the best way either. So an example, we have clients who want to use Microsoft as their email retention. Well, Microsoft's really not built to be able to have the search capabilities of say, a Global Relay or Smarsh. So while it might meet the standard of the regulators from an archiving tool perspective, it's incredibly difficult from a testing perspective to use that technology. So there are things like that we look at to streamline compliance, improve upon what's already there, implement solutions that are going to be more robust and make compliance more efficient in what it does as well.

Lauren (15:23):

Yeah, we hear it on the marketing side. I mean, you said Smarsh. I'm like, yep, we know about Smarsh track, social media sites, all kinds of things. So I mean, yeah, I hear what you're saying. Absolutely. We're right about at the top of our time. But any other kind of closing thoughts or resources or things you think would be helpful to share too?

Leila (15:42):

So I think it's really important that advisors know, especially where you're the CCO of your firm, is that the regulators nowadays are not taking the excuse, I didn't know. I didn't know I was supposed to do that. I didn't know this was required. With so much regulation coming out, just look at the last 12 months and how many regulations are queued out to come in the years coming forward, it's incredibly important that advisors, if they can't do it themselves, they're getting an outsourced solution or they're hiring in-house someone who knows compliance. You cannot make your admin, your CCO; you can't make another advisor who has no compliance background your CCO—you really have to get someone who has the knowledge, skill, and experience to fill that role and run that program and not having the right person and not having an adequate program is no defense when it comes to the regulators.

So it's incredibly important to, especially if you outsource, to pick the right vendor. We've had to do a lot of cleanup after some vendors that don't do adequate work. And the firm thought, well, I had this outsourced provider and I thought they were handling it. You cannot abdicate, right? If you are going to outsource, you still have to monitor. You still have to create some accountability with your outsourced provider as well. So I mean, that's my big advice. In terms of resources, we actually do a weekly newsletter and we call it our three, two, one. It's three regulatory updates, two things we recommend advisors do, and then one action item for the week. So that's a great resource if anyone wants to subscribe. But otherwise, the SEC and FINRA websites, for press releases going to NASAA and they have a lot of great information for advisors as well. But the important piece is to create some sort of cadence in which you try to keep yourself educated.

Lauren (17:54):

Yep. That's so smart. Well, we'll make sure to include those links below as well to your website too for folks to be able to sign up. I appreciate your time and just sharing more about this, not only your business structure and your offerings but a little bit more about what's going on currently with compliance. Then a look ahead for the new year. So thank you again.

Leila (18:12):

Well, thank you for the opportunity. I appreciate it.

Lauren (18:14):

Absolutely.

How to Navigate Financial Services Compliance in 2024

Through her firm, My RIA Lawyer, Leila Shaver helps firms navigate the top compliance concerns of 2024 and shares with us how firms can stay educated and aware of changes.
On Purpose
January 18, 2024

We talked with Kristin about:

  • Setting stage for future growth by identifying what brings you energy 
  • The power of simplicity that cuts through the noise and focuses on the niche
  • How to bridge the gaps to elevate yourself to the next level


About Kristin Harad:

Kristin Harad, an experienced marketing coach for independent financial advisors and planners, is driven by her passion for empowering clients to achieve self-driven financial freedom. After transitioning from a successful career in financial services marketing to entrepreneurship in 2006, Kristin founded VitaVie Financial Planning, the first fee-only firm dedicated to expectant parents and growing families in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her entrepreneurial spirit and strategic marketing expertise boosted the firm to success in under three years. Recognizing her gift for teaching and training, Kristin shifted gears in 2014 to focus on coaching and guiding independent financial advisors. Today, Kristin is renowned for her practical marketing advice and power to help advisors thrive. Her belief in the symbolic relationship between advisor success and clients flourishing underscores her mission for fostering a life of abundance. 

Featured Resources 

Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:05):
Kristen, thank you for being here with us.

Kristin (00:08):
Oh, thanks Lauren. I'm happy to be here.

Lauren (00:11):
Well, I've enjoyed our previous conversations and getting to know you and you have such an incredibly rich experience in the advisor space and also fun. We chatted before, you've lived overseas, lived in different places in the United States, and you just have such a breadth and a wide and vast experience in this industry. So today, before we get started, I'm excited for our focus area, which is really going to be around that kind of solo advisor, smaller teams, and really hearing from your expertise around it, but really as a business and marketing consultant. But I'm going to pass it over to you. Why don't you share a little bit more about your background, how you got here to where you are today?

Kristin (00:52):
Oh, great. Thanks, Lauren. Wow. I can't even believe I've been out of college now almost 30 years, which blows my mind. I know it's amazing. But I'm very energized and really excited to be in the industry, and I can foresee being in it for quite a long time, which is really exciting. I started out of school in marketing, doing corporate marketing for the Chase Manhattan Bank; at the time I guess it was Chase Bank. And then I worked in advertising for Grey Advertising doing direct marketing, so kind of doing the dirty work—direct mail for credit cards and brokerage services and things like that. And it was very gritty and awesome, and I loved it. And we learned all of the precursors to what's now used all the time on the internet. So all the direct marketing strategy of calls to action and how do you follow up and how do you track and all of those things. So that was early on. I was in New York City, and then I moved out to California just to get a different perspective on life and slow things down a little bit after a few years in Manhattan. And I did some work in the internet space but then I had the fortune to work at the ad agency that was internal at Charles Schwab. So that was very cool to be able to get under the hood when the internet was really emerging, websites were big coming into play, and we were starting; it happened to be a time when the Roth IRA was coming out, and so we had to launch the IRA analyzer that you compare the traditional and the Roth and it was very exciting and interesting to get in that space.

So my career really started and continued in the personal finance space, in the marketing realm. And then I had the privilege to work for about 14 years covering Chase Schwab Visa. I had a lot of big experiences there but I was starting to feel like I wasn't impacting any humans directly because when you're caught up in those big corporate moves, you're not impacting. So I wanted to become a life coach, and I went and worked in marketing at the Coaches Training Institute in Marin out here in California. And I did that briefly but while I was there the big insight was you really need to focus. It's hard to sell life coaching, so you need to focus. And so I had been concurrently working with a personal financial planner on my own financial plan and I was like, I like this. What is this field?

I want to do this. And so to speed things up, I essentially decided I was going to be a personal financial planner. I went to Berkeley to get the coursework. I pretty much quit my corporate job, hung up a shingle, started an RIA, had no idea what I was doing, and launched. So I ran that for eight years. And I focused very specifically on a niche for new and expectant parents and families with young children. I did carry over my marketing background from that to say, all right, who's my niche? Who am I going to serve? How will I serve them? What will that look like? So a very marketing driven plan. And as I was developing that RIA, I had advisors calling me and asking me, how did you pick your niche? What are you doing? How are you growing so fast? What's working? How are you doing?

So I started having these conversations with advisors and that's why I started getting really, really energized. I loved working with my clients on the personal financial planning side but truth be told I'm probably much better as the coach and my favorite people to work with were those who wanted to be entrepreneurs—to be able to free themselves up to be able to be entrepreneurs. So as advisors were calling me and talking to me about their journeys as entrepreneurs, I got very energized and started transferring my marketing expertise to these conversations with advisors, and it kind of burgeoned from there. And fast forward now many years later, over a decade now that I am now teaching, advising, coaching advisors from primarily the marketing standpoint but it's even broadened out into that business coaching of what do you want to create? Where are you going? How are you as a leader? What does that mean? How can you continue to grow and create what you want?

Lauren (06:00):
Amazing. I think what's really powerful about it is that you're at a place today where you're really, you’re boots on ground, you're impacting people's life. You're seeing that transition with what's going on. I mean, having so many of these conversations, I'm sure you're able to provide best practices for all different firms. So that must be very rewarding.

Kristin (06:19):
I think Lauren, the fun piece, and I'm sure you've seen this in all the work you're doing, is just seeing now I have hundreds of examples of how advisors work? What do they look like from a single person starting out all the way to a billion dollar firm? What are the players? What are the issues? So when you see that whole gamut of like, wow, there's so much and yet there's so much that's the same, and so we can pull together those best practices from just seeing case after case after case after case.

Which I think is fun because you start to see, well, you can draw, and I think that's one of the exciting parts of being 30 years in a career, is you can draw on the collective experience and say, okay, you're kind of fussing it all together and bringing that out, which is what I think is one of the most fun parts of being at this stage of my career.

Lauren (07:18):
Well, to be a guiding light for folks where it can feel, where do you turn? So let's talk a little bit more about that. I’d love to hear more about the roots of it, going back to that kind of solo firm or the smaller firm. What kind of conversations are you having with these advisors? I'm sure they're breaking away potentially or they're getting their own firm up and running, and what kind of challenges are they having? Because it's a lot, right? You're trying to service people, take really good care of your clients, you're doing business development, you've got the whole operations wing, and there's a heck of a lot going on in marketing. We know marketing can be a very shiny object. So tell us more about what kind of things, are there themes in these conversations? How are people finding you?

Kristin (08:09):
Okay. I think the biggest consistency I see across every advisor who reaches out to me is what do I prioritize? They have so much coming at them and just really, even if we hone in on the marketing alone to say, what do I prioritize? I hear I'm supposed to be doing X, Y, and Z, and I'm not doing any of it. I don't know where to start. So I like to have advisors take a step back and really take a look. I mean, first and foremost, know who is it that you want to attract? So we've talked about the power of niche. There's some great niche programs. Kristen Luke's program OnNiche is fantastic but identifying who your target audience is can relieve a ton of stress right off the bat—who you're going to be speaking to. I think it's really about taking a step back and saying, what are the 1, 2, 3, max, three things you're going to focus on?

That's the max I really encourage advisors to look at in terms of marketing to say, where am I going to look? What am I going to do? And oftentimes that starts with figuring out what kind of message you want to put out there. What is the content you want to develop and what are the pain points of your audience? So you can reinforce that because I do think first and foremost, advisors get caught up in the, I have so many, like you said, shiny objects, things I could chase after. And it's really about, all right, first figure out who we're attracting. Even if you've been in business a really long time, it's checking back in and saying, who is that high value client I really enjoy working with? Who appreciates my value? If you keep going back to that, it's going to serve in all areas of the business.

Lauren (10:19):
So just sum it up here, a common theme is just where do you focus your energy, right? Because there's so many places you focus it. And then kind of high level, at least from that kind of marketing wing, is the first place to start is who are you're going after? And it sounds like, if I'm hearing you right, those are the conversations you're having thematically with firms. Is that fair?

Kristin (10:41):
Yes, definitely. And I think, I mean really it's this, I hear over and again, I need clarity. So how do we get clear? How do we crystallize a plan so you actually know how to spend your weeks when you come in on Monday and you're excited and you're ready to go, where is it that you want to direct your efforts? And I do find across advisors who want to grow, and it depends on what stage you're at, but once you've reached a certain level and you're like, okay, now I have a new goal of where I want to go, how do I get there? There's a number of improvements or focus areas you can look at that sometimes advisors don't even consider. And I'd say one of the first ones on that is just pricing. Yes. I'm like, pricing alone can change your world. Have you raised your prices? Have you reevaluated whether or not they're on par with the value you're offering? I find too many advisors are undercharging. The fastest, easiest way to grow is to raise your price. I think people don't want to talk about it. It makes them uncomfortable. But it also is looking at, especially a solo advisor as you're growing and adding and starting to reach that point where you're wondering how many more clients you can take on before you have to hire someone or get support, you need to be a bit more discerning about the people coming in and making sure you're charging what you're worth in that way.

Lauren (12:32):
So on that note of that fork in the road, okay, I'm in a place where I need to be able to start hiring, is there a certain number amount of AUM or number of households or what have you that you see where a solo advisor goes, okay, once I get to this trigger point, this is what I need to start doing? Is this what you are seeing?

Kristin (12:52):
I do see some general targets of around say clients and/or around 250, $250,000 revenue, $200,000 revenue. I mean, how that might translate back to AUM depends on whether you're charging that way or a different way, but just that you've gotten a good solid, solid traction. You can still juggle everything but you're really starting to be like, oh, I might drop a ball here or there. And you're starting to see that happening and it's probably a little late at that point but I know it's the tension of can I afford to hire someone? I have capacity; I can do it myself. And it's really when can you get that confidence to say, now it's time to slash the profit margin to make sure it works. 

Lauren (14:00):
Yeah, that makes sense. And then along the way, what kind of conversations are you having or stepping stones are you working with that advisor to put in place so when they are ready to break off they've either got their right hire, they're putting their energy toward marketing or helping to channel their own energy? I'd love to hear about that game plan to get them to the breaking point.

Kristin (14:22):
Yeah, so I think this is a fascinating thing to me. I had to do it for myself a while back too. And it's really like once you hit a certain level, it's like, okay, I have to make a choice. I have to decide, am I staying at this line in the sand and being perfectly happy and making good money and doing things on my own? And there's nothing wrong with that but it's making that decision of what is it that I want to be creating? And that answer is unique to everyone. If you're wanting to grow the firm and dare we say scale versus grow—and Michael Kitces does a great presentation on scaling and growing and the difference, and it's pretty fascinating—but just making that decision. So what is that picture of where you want to be in the next, say, three years? Getting really clear on that just so you have that as your guiding light. But then getting back down to brass tacks around how we do this. Who do we hire? What are we looking at? This, I think, requires two things. One, you as the advisor looking and saying, what kind of work do I love doing? Do I love doing the planning? Do I like getting out and networking? Do I like talking with clients? Meeting with clients? What are the things? Yeah, that's what it is. We want to create energy. I mean, if you're going to do this as your life's work, you want to know the activities that give you energy, right? And so we want to have those very clear, and I mean, I know when I did this exercise for myself a while back, you just literally write it down. And I know people think it's kind of corny but it's true. Write down what you love doing. And it doesn't mean that's the only thing you're going to get to do, really. Oh, I could do this all day long and you're going to have to do other things too but those are the ones you're really aiming toward, right? And I think float is a great term for that. We talk about deep work. If you have read Cal Newport’s book on deep work, it's like what is it that you get so excited about doing? And then here's the hard part is you have to go back and go, okay, I'm going to chronicle everything I am doing every single day for a week, for two weeks, for three weeks, as much as you can stand to get the granular detail of this is exactly how I spend my day and spend my time.

And what are those tasks and what does that look like? It's very nitty gritty but it's super revealing. Because then you're also kind of, if you can start to bundle those tasks into job descriptions for things you like, I would mark the ones first that say, yeah, right away, okay, all of these things get in my way. And most likely that answer is a virtual assistant or an executive system or a fractional assistant of some sort to take some of those basic administrative tasks off your plate. Absolutely. That's almost always the first call or someone to give you administrative support. And then you kind of look and say, okay, am I passionate about marketing? Am I passionate about the internal processes? What do I like doing? And where do you need potential consultant help or an outsourced freelancer? There's so many freelance options or outsourced options or agency options and consultants who can fill your gaps in fractional ways that you just have to start bundling those tasks and prioritizing solutions.

Lauren (18:31):
Absolutely. 

Kristin (18:32):
I think another big piece people always think about, there's the team aspect but then there's also the technology aspect. What are the technology solutions that can help us? And this is the exciting part now. I mean, this is what I've seen especially over the last few years. It's what I also think will help solo advisors continue to be able to be solo, is that they can grow and add and service more clients because the technology is there to support them, whether it's CRM, as I'm sure you've come up with the chatGPT.

Lauren (19:11):
Oh yes.

Kristin (19:12):
Can't help but mention that but we will see. It's revolutionary.

Lauren (19:17):
It is. Even tools like IT, money too, and being able to provide that value add to clients.

Kristin (19:24):
That. Oh, absolutely. All of the planning software, any of those things.

Lauren (19:29):
Yes. It's so true. So I think this is sort of this idea of delegate or die and bundle those things that aren't the things that get you excited. So tell us, do you have any stories of advisors who have made this breaking point, right? They've maybe perhaps approaching burnout but they've gotten to a place where they have successfully shedded activities and what does that story look like and in what time period has it taken them to be able to go, okay, I've decided I'm going to maybe take a salary cut or I'm going to shift some things or what have you, and then where do they start going up again?

Kristin (20:13):
Yeah, those are good questions.

Lauren (20:15):
Where does it peak? Where does it start to peak again?

Kristin (20:18):
That's a good question. I mean, I think you have to start with the small decisions but I think some of the easier ones are making the technology choices to help you out. One of the smallest shifts I've seen advisors do that have had the biggest impact is to change your Calendly form to be very clear on who is a good prospect. 

Lauren (20:51):
Qualify, I should say.

Kristin (20:53):
Prequalify, right? And so put screener questions in. So if you're already doing that, it seems basic but you would be surprised, as I'm sure you've seen how many people don't do that. And so just knowing that when you're getting on a call, there's an expectation set of you fit or you don't fit, or at least you've done your best to inform them. I've seen that make some of the biggest difference, whether it's a solo advisor all the way up to a multi-advisor firm where their lead advisors are on the calls and they had been wasting tons of money and time on the phone with people who don't qualify, and all the way down, you come back to a solo person. It's such an example of an easy shift that can make a world of difference in freeing up time and then also helping you elevate your price point or elevate your energy and match it to the type of people you want to work with.

But I do think in terms of adding, when you talk about adding, let's say you're adding a part-time VA. If you use service A here, you can go out and find people overseas and whatnot. But if you're going to use one of the services in the U.S., whether it's BELAY or Time etc., or Nifty, or one of them, I think you're going to be paying anywhere from probably $30 to $45 an hour potentially. That's what I've seen to get someone helping you, and maybe it's only seven hours a week or 10 hours a week or something.

Lauren (22:45):
But that's seven or 10 hours a week for you, which could be significant. 

Kristin (22:49):
Yes, it's definitely a big deal but I do think when you have to realize you are, as you said, you're going to drop back down before you can get back up but the goal is to free you up to be able to do either more work with clients who can refer business to you or to give you the freedom or opportunity to engage in more marketing or more sales conversations and business development, things like that. Yeah, and again, I don't know, Michael Kitces has some really good data behind the breaking points of the adding and scaling he's just released recently. And just how you have to have the patience to work yourself back up to leverage the freedom that person or technology has given you to move. So it's a fascinating study. I encourage people to take it slow and take that first leap. Well, take the first leap kind of as quickly as you can afford it because start to see the benefit and then slowly add on from there and start to see what you are freeing up. As soon as you start to be able to hand off tasks you no longer want, you get more energy, and it's kind of a cycle that goes from there.

Lauren (24:22):
Well, I think on that caveat too, of being able to putting out cash, identifying the vendor to work with or if you're hiring a role, there's also the time input too of being able to bring that individual, even if there's a VA service, you're going to have unique data to that. So there's that time investment. So it always takes some; it's a cycle. There's no silver bullet but part of it is you've got to kind of make that investment cash and time-wise to get that right.

Kristin (24:47):
Absolutely.

Lauren (24:51):
We're wrapping up here quickly but I'd love to hear if there's any other kind of trends you think would be valuable to share or any other kind of insights you've got in working with this demographic and helping them to scale, grow, whatever specific term you like to use for the business trajectory. But yeah, I'd love to hear any other thoughts.

Kristin (25:12):
Right. Well, I think one other thing we haven't touched on that I do think is important for advisors to take a look at, especially solo advisors who are finding themselves kind of extremely busy chasing people around, is to remember to look not just at bringing new people into their funnel, top of the funnel activities, trying to get out, meet new people, bring people in but to also remember to follow up with the prospects you've talked to. I know when people meet with a prospective client and then you don't hear back from them,

You often just drop and be like, well, I sent an email, I left a voicemail. I didn't hear back from them. And I think one of the biggest areas where advisors can kind of make up a lot of revenue growth without a lot of incremental effort is to systematically follow up a minimum of three times in the two weeks after your meeting and realize meeting with you is one of a hundred things on that person's list. So you need to stay in front of them. Because speaking of areas where I see a major shift is when an advisor goes, oh, you know what? I called and I called and I didn't hear from them. Then I called a couple weeks later and they had to deal with something at their kid's school or a family member, so they lost track, and you have to stay on top of it until someone says, no, yes, I'm sorry. I've taken another path where I'm no longer interested, and you have your defined three, four, or five touches, and then you let them be on your list and then mark later to follow up with them. But I find that fortune really can be in the follow-up and it's often overlooked.

Lauren (27:10):
Oh, so well said too. I know oftentimes when we will tell folks, when we see potential clients, prospects who will come in, we'll say, follow up within the hour if possible, respond within the hour, respond at minimum within two hours that it comes in. People are in the mode, right? They're doing the reach out, they're taking the time. So you want to capture them why they've got that time to be able to reach out. I know I personally use a tool called Right Inbox. I don't know if you're familiar with that. 

Kristin (27:36):
No, I don't know it.

Lauren (27:38):
Oh, it's awesome. Just as a follow-up tool but it allows you to pre-schedule emails, and so then you can either pre-schedule email or put a reminder in your inbox, such as, okay, I need to follow up with this person in three days. I like to keep a clean inbox. So it allows you to just basically pull out that email back at the top of your inbox so it's ready to go. So that's within Gmail but I know it works in Outlook and there's also built-in. I know Gmail has tools for that too.

Kristin (28:05):
Oh, that's fantastic. I think that would be the technology, if I could just get advisors to follow up more than one time with a prospective client, knowing that person needs you to check in with them. They do need it.

Lauren (28:22):
Yeah. Yeah, so awesome. We brought that up, and this is such a relationship business, right?

Kristin (28:31):
Right. Exactly. 

Lauren (28:32):
Thank you so much, Kristen. I appreciate you sharing your wealth of knowledge in this space, and especially working with the sole advisor practice and group and just sharing more about that journey from being able to break away and hire to really setting yourself up so you can continue to focus on doing what you love. So thank you again. We'll make sure to also include, I know we talked about a lot of different links and resources, but we'll make sure to include below.

Kristin (28:59):
All right. Great. Thanks Lauren. I appreciate it.

Lauren (29:01):
Thank you. Thanks.

Kristin (29:03):
Bye.

How to Focus Your Energy to Create a Career of Abundance

Kristin Harad, a marketing coach for independent financial advisors and planners, empowers clients to achieve self-driven financial freedom.
On Purpose
January 11, 2024


We talked with Jully about:
  • Her story and how she got into investing
  • The spark that launched her Investing Latina brand 
  • How she built the community behind Investing Latina
  • How listening to her audience has been the key to her success 

About Jully-Alma Taveras:

Jully-Alma Taveras, aka Investing Latina, is an award-winning financial expert who gained popularity through Instagram by sharing her personal story. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised by immigrant entrepreneur parents in New York City, she lacked knowledge about investing until her father’s illness sparked a change that started her transformation from shopaholic to savvy investor. On a mission to help first-time investors and empower those who have had similar life challenges, she teaches financial literacy through three pillars: overcoming credit card debt, stock market investing, and real estate investing. Boasting over 41,000 Instagram followers and millions of social impressions, Jully has become a trusted guide for her followers, teaching them to live minimally, spend intentionally, and build wealth through her authentic and relatable content. 


Featured Resources & Shoutouts


Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:04):
Jully, welcome. Thank you for joining us. 

Jully (00:08):
Thank you so much for having me, Lauren.

Lauren (00:16):
So I was sharing with you earlier, I was popping around on Instagram as we do, and stumbled onto your profile—not surprising us being in financial services; we get into all that—and I was like, holy smokes. I was like, you have a huge following for Investing Latina, to put the Instagram handle out there, and have such an awesome way of connecting with so many followers around personal finance. In fact, you're an award-winning personal finance expert. So I'd love to hear more, like how did you get into this space? Why Instagram? We can get into a lot of things but why don't you tell us a little bit more about you and how you got here.

Jully (00:51):
Yes, absolutely. I mean, a lot of my platform really is rooted in my personal story. And so a really quick recap of my story is I was born in the Dominican Republic and we moved here to New York when I was four years old, and my parents really didn't know the language. We were all first-time immigrants and they had to learn things as they went. And I remember they started a business a little bit after coming here.

I grew up in my dad's business. He had a grocery store, a bodega. And so from the age of 12, I was exposed to money in a sense. I started collecting tips from packing bags, and as I got older, I got more and more responsibility within the business. It was really interesting to have that exposure to a small business because there are so many here in the U.S. and even across the world and mom and pops, and it can be very challenging. And I saw my parents face a lot of challenges. There were good times, there were bad times, and in between and a lot of what they did and learned as they went.

We didn't really necessarily have a family or history of people who taught money lessons and they didn't know anything about investing. All they knew really, and all they really tried to figure out was how to earn money to support their families. So when I started working in the corporate world, I got a job that gave me access to a 403(b). So at that point, I remember signing up and I was excited about it. I didn't know anything about it. I didn't know the details or what it really truly meant but I knew I was getting free money.

Lauren (03:06):
It's a good start, right? 

Jully (03:10):
Yes. So the HR lady was like, you'll get free money if you put money in. And I said, that sounds really good. So it's so funny because that simple way of her putting that really was what persuaded me to do it. Because when I went to my parents and told them I was so excited about it, Mom was like, don't do that. It's a scam. You're going to lose money. It's best that you just save your money under the mattress. And so it really stemmed from their fear in a sense, and not knowing and also being immigrants in this country, just really not having that access and that knowledge. And so I had already signed up and I know my mom was telling me not to do it.

Lauren (03:58):
Trying to watch out for you.

Jully (03:59):
Yeah, she was trying to protect me but at that point I had already signed up and I was like, it's only $25 per paycheck. It was so minimal and to undo it, forget it. And so I just let it be, and I kept investing. And at that time I didn't know, I didn't use the term investing for retirement. Now I am very proud to say that and I make sure I tell people when they're signing up for their company-sponsored accounts that they're investing, what we're doing. You have a lot of options within that but that's what you're doing. You're not just saving for retirement, you're literally participating in the markets. So that was the origin story of Investing Latina; I started investing when I was 19 years old, and I didn't know what I was doing but I learned as I went along.

Lauren (04:53):
And you started young. That’s key. You were 19 years old. I feel like a lot of folks missed that opportunity, right? That's great.

Jully (05:02):
I almost couldn't have planned it better, right?

Lauren (05:05):
Innocently even, yeah.

Jully (05:07):
I had no idea. I didn't have support. So I was lacking all of these things you would think you would need to get started and to start to build wealth. I didn't have any of that. And I somehow was able to do it simply because I started out young and I started out not knowing and being okay with not knowing.

As I went, because like I mentioned, I kind of learned that from my parents. You have to kind of learn as you go. You have to take risks, put yourself out there and keep going and keep learning. And so I worked in the fashion industry for a long time, 15 years. And so I was investing, and I went through a period where even though I was investing, I was overspending. So I was a shopaholic. I bought shoes every single Friday. I was just wanting to be the best in my industry and look the best but I had no control because I really didn't have the foundation of knowing how to budget, of really controlling emotions so I could stick to a budget.

And ultimately I didn't have a plan. I knew I was putting money away here. I knew I kind of wanted to save for a house in the future. So I had these loose ideas and goals but I didn't make them concrete enough to the point where I was motivated and propelled to keep going and to stick to them. And so I had many hiccups in my financial journey, so much debt I had to take myself out of. And then unfortunately, my father got sick and I mentioned they had a business, so they had to sell the business. Finances completely changed for them, and I'm his oldest daughter of three so the responsibility fell to me.

Lauren (07:25):
Yes.

Jully (07:27):
If my dad is no longer here with us, I’m the one who will be taking care of my mom and my two sisters, who were still very young at the time. And so that really flipped a switch. So that was pure motivation to get it together. And it took me a while. It took me about three years to get out of all the debt and put together that strategy because it's important. If you don't have that strategy, if you don't have that plan, it’s hard to decide which way to go. It's hard to make daily choices. 

Lauren (08:06):
You just keep in those cycles.

Jully (08:09):
It becomes very difficult to make daily choices when you don't have an overall plan. And so I had a plan and I knew I just needed to get really financially stable. I hustled and excelled in my career in terms of getting new opportunities, working multiple jobs, doing consulting. So I just really kind of put my head down and got to work when my father got very sick. And then once I felt like I had this really great control, luckily he was stable and doing well and kind of on treatments and just in a good place. So we were no longer in sort of the survival mode that we were in for the first year and a half.

Lauren (09:05):
With so many unknowns, I'm sure. 

Jully (09:08):
It was a little bit more stable, and I was financially in a good place. I took a break from my full-time work, from my career in fashion.I said I've been doing this since I was literally 13 years old. Oh my God. Because I've always loved fashion. It was inspiration for my mother. And I just literally said, I'm going to take a break and I want to kind of rethink what I want to do with my life. And I had that entrepreneurial energy I got from my parents. And when I took that break, about a year into that break from my old life and my first career, out came Investing Latina, and I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do with it but I just felt like the story was interesting. My story was interesting, and I also started to realize it wasn't a unique story. It wasn't just me. 

Lauren (10:13):
Other people share parallels or still share pieces of your story that are relatable, I'm sure.

Jully (10:20):
Yes, it wasn't just me who hadn’t had any access to the stock market and not known about investing but had responsibilities and had a desire to improve and to build wealth. And so that's really how it started. And I just  opened up an Instagram account. That was the channel. 

Lauren
Like, I'm going to go for this. And then, okay, so how did you start? Was it videos? Or quick tips? How did you start to see there was traction here and other people had some sort of relatability to it? I’d love to hear more about where you saw that, oh, there's something here, other people need this. When did you start to notice that?

Jully (11:15):
Yeah. Well, I started, funny enough, as an anonymous account.

Lauren (11:22):
Oh, interesting. On Instagram.

Jully (11:24):
And I shared a lot of personal information.

Lauren (11:27):
Being super vulnerable.

Jully (11:28):
Yeah, super vulnerable in the sense that I shared all my details. I shared all of my budget, I shared all of my accounts. And I think that sort of vulnerability and that sort of openness definitely attracts people who are in a similar situation, looking to learn and perhaps struggling.

And that was really my audience. The people who were like, oh my God, I want to do better. And I relate to you because I see your post about how you spent thousands and thousands of dollars on frivolous things, and you don't have any money in a savings account, or you're not thinking about retirement or building for the future. It wasn’t like there's only one and you're putting it all out there. So it wasn't video or anything. It was literally a static post having details of, this is what my budget is this week, this is how I'm doing. And then people really wanted to come along on the journey. So I would make templates where there would be no-spend days, and on the first day of the month, I would say, everyone, here's a template for the month. Screenshot it. Let me know how the month goes for you. And I posted updates every day, and people posted their updates every day and were tagging. Oh, cool. So this is two-way interaction too. It's not just preaching or what have you. People were tagging me, and that kind of helped spread the word.

And before I knew it, the audience had grown, and I was like, oh my God, this is so cool. But I was also getting a little bit inundated with questions, and it was PM questions or comments or the whole thing, everything, comments, questions, and they're like, oh, this is my situation. What should I do? Okay. And the number one question was, I am starting to budget and now I want to start investing. And it was in my title, Investing Latina. So when people searched investing on Instagram, I would pop up. So it was that. And then the element of being Spanish speaking, being Latina, was also something that kind of helped niche me down in terms of the audience I was reaching. So I really got a lot of people who live in the U.S. but come from Latin American backgrounds. And it was really, really cool to just connect with people in that way, because again, my story wasn't unique. It was just a matter of I was in a position where I had already gone through a lot of things, learned a lot of lessons, and my goal was to pass those lessons down to anybody who would listen, anybody who needed it. And ultimately, that constant question of how do I get started with investing led to me creating my first paid program, which was the investing workshop. And when I launched it, the response was unbelievable. I had 300 people sign up.

Lauren (15:06):
So you had built your base, and you didn't only build the base but it was authentic. So it was like, wait, okay. Just to back up, when did you go from private, not showing your face, to making the turning point? Assuming when you launched that course you had kind of introduced yourself, is that the case or can you tell us when you actually said I want to flip the switch and then put myself out there so people can actually see you. You do so many videos now. So I'd love to hear about that transition and the why too, and then take it to the course. 

Jully (15:42):
Really the timeline on it was probably a year, I would say maybe less honestly, because I got so much traction that I had a lot of media and reporters reaching out to me saying, I see that you teach this online. We have questions about this. Can you help talk a little bit about budgeting? Can you talk about credit? Oh, and I will say that from the beginning, even though I didn't have a true perfect plan for my business and the platform, I did choose three pillars. I wanted to talk about how to get out of credit card debt, I wanted to talk about investing in the stock market, and I wanted to talk about investing into real estate because that was what I had the most exposure and experience in. And it was also what I was most interested in.

Lauren (16:42):
Super authentic, passionate experience. And it all themed around this idea of investing, which goes back to your handle. So to swing back, there’s private reporters reaching out. 

Jully (16:58):
At that point, when I saw all that traction, I said, oh my God, okay, so now they're asking for my name. And it became this sort of place where it was like, a little awkward, but ultimately I said, you know what? Oh, that's also when the type of content changed a little bit as well because I said I could make these posts, but they take so long. It would be so much faster if I just made a video. And so I started making videos and I would put them on Instagram, and I would also put them on YouTube. And so that was kind of a big motivator in terms of coming out or leaving that anonymous stage and moving on to showing myself. But that also came with its own challenges because I could no longer share as much detail as I did before.

Lauren (17:56):
That's fair.

Jully (17:57):
I wasn't really sharing the types of accounts I had and who I was banking with because it exposes you and you have to be very careful.

Lauren (18:03):
Yep, that's fair.

Jully (18:06):
So very shortly after I was publicly showing my face, I was part of an article on 10 people you should be following. And the people that were on that list were Suze Orman, Tiffany Aliche “The Budgetnista”. 

Lauren (18:31):
Oh my goodness. And you're like, I'm here. That was really cool.

Jully (18:37):
And it really actually propelled my brand even further. So I think ultimately it was because my voice was maybe a little bit different, and my background was a little bit different from everybody else who was on that list. And so that's ultimately kind of what really pushed me forward. And then shortly after that the awards came and the platform just continued to grow. I signed with an agent to start doing brand partnerships. So in the past, I've worked with so many brands. I've worked with Chase, I've worked with SoFi, I've worked with many brands, and it's just been really cool to share my perspective, the things I've learned and also learn from my audience because they're the ones who trigger the content I create because they're the ones who are asking me money questions, and my job is to answer them to the best of my ability and give them as many resources as possible. And I never shy away from questions. Even when I was getting tons and tons of questions every single day in DMs, I would sit down and answer all of them. I had very little sleep in the beginning. I love helping in general.

Lauren (20:10):
Right. So powerful. And before we started chatting, one of the things I really appreciate about what you've done is you've created a real platform. And like you said, you're helping people and you're helping to also—I mean, money affects all of us—but also just make it so much more approachable. And I love that you're also willing to take your time to be able to reach out and be able to support folks. So tell us a little bit more about your program. So you've got the investing piece you had rolled out some time ago, and that was the one that was an overnight success. Do you have other programs and things like that that folks can get involved with? Or how do you cultivate that ongoing training outside of the platform?

Jully (20:47):
So the investing workshop has been the one and only thing I've ever sold. I have a lot of free freebies. I have a lot of templates I create that people can just download. But the investing workshop was what I really wanted; it took me about a year to develop it before I launched it. People were asking for it for so long, and I kept delaying it, which I think as creators, we sometimes get into our own heads and we're like, oh, will people like this? Will it resonate? Is it something they're interested in? But I really just try my best to listen as much as possible so I can incorporate all the things they really need. So once I launched that, I've upgraded it and have different versions of it.

So from the first version, right now we're probably at version 10; you just keep listening, tweaking, pouring into it, and making it stronger. Same concept with the same goal. And it's for a person who really is starting from zero, wants to learn terminology, wants to get a grasp of the market, wants to understand the types of accounts, and ultimately get to the place where they're investing and they have at least the fundamentals to start putting together a plan for themselves. So an important part of it all is that it's not financial advice, not this is what you should be investing in. I really think first of all, it requires that you're accredited within the industry. It also can’t ever be done as a one-size-fits-all for people. And aside from that, I also think it never feels very great to get preached to.

So that's always been an important part of my content. I never want my audience to feel like I'm telling you to do this. If you're not doing this, you're dumb. You should feel, be ashamed, or duh, obviously you should be doing this. This is the best. I never want to have that energy because I feel like it turns people off and that doesn't allow anybody to grow. And so, yeah, I've had different versions of the same exact program. I've upgraded here and there, added more things, and I've done it in Spanish, which people loved. And so that was really successful as well. I don't currently have it in Spanish because it’s kind of double work in a sense. I have 10 versions at this point. To create the Spanish one, I would also have to have that same sort of cadence. And so you make choices as a creator and as an entrepreneur. And so right now, it's not something I’ve focused on but I'm really excited to create the next version in the future that can be available. And again, like I said, listening to the audience and making sure they're getting what they want, and looking at those demographics, you have to pay attention to those things. Who's following? How old are they? What's their language? I ask a lot of questions. I do surveys and things like that. So it really helped me get to know them. And so yeah, that's kind of how it's gone.

Lauren (24:58):
So many secrets to success I feel like you've just naturally leaned into.  I feel like I've said passion 10 times, right? Just this idea of really listening and not trying to push, like you were saying earlier, but really to be able to add value and know who you're talking with. So I know we're wrapping up here but I’d love to hear what's next. Is there anything particular you want to highlight when you look ahead? Or is it really just ears to the ground listening to what's going on and letting that drive the future of the platform? I'd love to hear if there's anything in particular you see in the space that you want to highlight.

Jully (25:41):
Well, I still think my sort of program is really the bread and butter program in terms of my business. It's something that even as new generations come about, they're going to need. So it really is nice and important, I think, for me to just really hone in on that and focus. There's so many benefits to just sticking to a niche and not trying to do too much. Do I have ideas? Oh my God, I keep a huge list of ideas I've tried to organize, and every time I go through them, I organize it by month. So it says by year and then every month. And then every so often I'll go back to that list and I'll review the last couple and move some ideas up to a separate folder of really top ideas. So I do have tons of ideas for the brand but I also, again, want to make sure I'm accomplishing the mission of helping that first-time investor. So there's things I want to do. For example, I'll just give you one example. I have office hours. I did have office hours. I don't right now because I have a baby right now. 

Lauren (27:18):
There's a lot going on.

Jully (27:19):
But I had office hours, and every single week we would go over a new company. We would review their financial reports, we would take a look at how their stock has performed. We would do competitive research. So these are all things I did for my audience. And they would come in, they would join, they would ask questions. So it was just kind of like a little class every single week. And so that is something that definitely will relaunch in the future. And also other versions of investing, for example, dividend investing, that was actually a workshop I did have that I will bring back again in the future. So there's just, I think the next level, once you've gotten past getting started, with your basic accounts, having good strategy, how do you deepen your relationship with investing and how do you grow it? And of course, the real estate arm, which is something that because there was so much demand for stock lessons, I didn't really create things for the real estate arm. And that's something I still work on and continue to do myself that I hope to help others and teach others the way I've done it, again, with the experience I've had and just pushing that forward.

Lauren (28:45):
So exciting. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and also your journey and that timeline, as you kind of alluded to earlier, of just this platform, where it's gotten to today. And I think just importantly too, like you said, really leaning into the mission and being a voice that helps cut through the clutter in this space. So what we'll do too is I'll make sure we link to your Instagram as well, and in the blog post and the video below, and then we'll make sure to also link to the investing class or any other resources that might be helpful. So thank you again for your time.

Jully (29:19):
Absolutely. Thank you so much. This was great.

Building a Community Around Your Story and Lessons You’ve Learned

Jully-Alma Taveras has built a community of thousands by sharing financial wisdom for saving and investing to build wealth through her award-winning platform Investing Latina.
On Purpose
January 4, 2024

We talked with Christine about:

  • How she discovered “teaching” was her calling
  • How having a bird’s eye view of the mortgage industry allowed her to stand out  
  • Why she designed her business like “a hospital and a drug store”

About Christine Beckwith:

As a leading and award-winning mortgage industry executive sales leader, Christine Beckwith pivoted from sales to coaching in 2018. She is now the president, chief operating officer, and master coach of 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching. In this role, Christine guides loan originators and others in the industry to be successful entrepreneurs by offering them the professional and personal resources they need.

Graphic-Overaly-christine-beckwith

Featured Resources 

Full Audio Transcript

Lauren (00:00):
Christine, welcome. We're so glad to have you here. So I don't even know where to begin because I feel like your bio is just so amazing. I mean, you're a coach. You've got your own podcast. You've written multiple books. Let's just start there. Tell us about how you got to where you are today. You have just had so much success, to be where you are right now. So I'd love to hear a little more about your story in the background.

Christine (00:27):
I grew up in central New Hampshire in this beautiful valley of the White Mountains. And I went off to college at 18 on a scholarship. So for me it was really, really important when I was young. I had to work really hard to get to school. And then while I was in school, I was the understudy of a female originator. And even though I was going to school for sports medicine and nutrition, I caught the bug for the banking industry. And if you fast forward 35 years, I've had a really incredible career within the mortgage industry and in the finance space. I would start out leaving college and not going into my field, going into the banking field, becoming a loan originator. I was processing and assisting loans, as I said, in my college years. 

Christine (01:19):
And I just loved it. I was very competitive. And if you look under the hood of my career, I would become a branch manager, an originating branch manager, and then later a district manager. And at the time that I became a district manager, there were not a lot of higher ranking women. In fact, I worked for H&R Block Mortgage at that time. And there had been no women who had been at that level. I would go on to become the regional vice president. When I became the senior vice president, I really got notoriety. I would end up closing that division for H&R Block during the mortgage implosion, which was an act of preservation toward the shareholder price on Wall Street. And I would write a book that became a bestseller called Wise Eyes.

Christine (02:05):
I wrote about my way to success, including the sad part of that story, which is the end, the demise of that leg of my career. And then I would take about 50 people from that local market to go work at a boutique shop to kind of weather the storm. And I got another call from Wall Street and was asked if I would be willing to do kind of the Warren Buffet thing, which is to build another mortgage firm with some people I had worked with in the past and combine my boutique shop with their shop in Jersey. Then I went on another 12-year ride building AnnieMac Home Mortgage with Joe Panebianco and the managers there, Ryan Kuby, Jason Leibowitz. And that brings you all the way to 2017, 2018, when I ended up retiring from direct management within the mortgage industry.

Christine (02:59):
I was turning 50 that year and decided to do this, which was by the way not a surprise, because I had a 10-year business plan to actually do exactly what I did, which was to leave direct mortgage management and launch a consulting firm. Along the way I became a writer for the national mortgage magazines. I became a published author. I have won a lot of sales contests; I would say I'm a fierce competitor. So what you see out there is a lot of hype, I think, around awards I received for competing in the area of sales and that sort of thing. And I guess along the way, I also broke some glass ceilings, more or less accidentally, because I just really was always, I hope, the best person for the job. But I had to trudge some paths that had not been trenched by women prior to me.

Lauren (03:56):
So you mentioned this plan that was in the works to start, the consulting business you have now. Tell me a little bit more about that. And when did you know it was just that right turning point to get this business going?

Christine (04:09):
So in 2006, when the downfall of H&R Block was occurring, I ended up taking the summer off. I had a great severance after being with them for so long, 12 years. And it was a crazy time; the mortgage implosion was happening and I was a little unsettled by the fact that I had just thought three months prior, everything was great. And then all of a sudden the bottom had fallen out. I had a baby in 2006. So it was really a good time to be in a position to be able to stay home. And I literally rented a home. I was living away from where I grew up and I rented a home back on the lake where I grew up. And it was just this surreal time where I just spent the whole summer not working.

Christine (04:54):
My mother actually had a brain aneurysm that summer. She survived it, but she was in a forced coma for a couple months. So I was very fragile. I had lost a 12-year job, put myself outta work. I had a new gig called motherhood going on. My mom was sick. And I think all of these things and I wasn't working and I'm a workaholic. So like all of these things were all happening at once. And so what did I do every day to keep my sanity? I would write. I just started writing. I was afraid I wouldn't remember all the things that had made me successful. So over that summer, as I began to write, I had no idea that what I was writing was my first book. I just wrote. And I wrote, it was like Forrest Gump of writing was growing in my life.

Christine (05:37):
Like I had decided to go out for a small run and then I just tapped into some geyser of writing. And so I would write and write and write and write and write. And as that summer wore on and I wrote, most people who do write, it's really a cathartic process. And I discovered along the path of encapsulating my success over the prior 10 years that I was a teacher. I thought, God, that's my calling. I'm a teacher. I like building education. I have a distinct relationship with it. I admire it. I respect it. I think I'm a good teacher. I get good results when I do teach, which is great. I can engage people for long periods of accountability time, I discovered. And so all of these things led to me deciding, gee, maybe one day I'll coach or I'll be a consultant.

Christine (06:34):
And I actually decided that summer what would be the name of my book. And I was spitballing names for my book and I was writing them down and I was testing them on Google and stuff and seeing what was out there. And then I did the same thing with a consulting firm. What would I name it? You know? And so I ended up paying for the domain vision of your success dot net. And I did not bring that website to life. I paid for the annual fees for that domain for 10 years before it would come to life. So true story, proof actually of that. And so everyone always says when the year 2020 came, everybody overused the phrase 20/20 vision for success. They're like, oh my God, like you named your company, because my company opened in 18 and they thought I was just on the bandwagon of what was happening.

Christine (07:29):
And I said, you know, I've always had this name and this name's gonna live way past the year 2020. I hope. And that's what I did. And so I just didn't know where it was. I had an image in my mind that maybe when I went to work for the next company, I would work for them for three to five years and then I'd start doing this. And then when I got to work doing what I was doing there, I thought, well maybe I won't be doing this till I'm 55. And then the perfect storm happened again for me in 2018 where I just really came to terms with it being the right time. And I will tell you, it was like a Seinfeld thing because I felt like I needed to go out on top. My career was still soaring. I was still winning. I was getting tons of accolades for my contributions to AnnieMac. I was winning industry accolades. I had won a top 50 women award from MPA magazine, which was prestigious. I had hoped to be there for 20 years in my career and to be named; I also knew I was coming of age at that point. So there you have it. I mean, that's kind of how it all came about.

Lauren (08:35):
Yeah. I liked what you were saying earlier too, about how you're able to work with people and coach them. On your website, there's some testimonials too about that, right? That you've got this real gift. And so that might, I don't know, I don't feel like that's something you can train. But I'd imagine that you've brought that into your coaching practice and helping people. I'd love to hear a little bit more about that too.

Christine (08:57):
Yeah. I mean, so all through my career, parts and pieces of my executive leadership, my regional district leadership, even branch manager is obviously speaking and training. And so I didn’t know I had a gift, I guess, for that until I would see the reactions of people when I would speak or do a class. And so by the time I would decide that this is something I was good at, I ended up really going through a process of evolution. The guys, you know, I was surrounded by 98.5% men for 32 years below me, beside me and above me. And as a result of that, I literally in the first decade of my career, was one of 178 originators and I was the only female. And one of 210 branch managers. And I was the only female.

Christine (09:55):
I mean, the numbers are staggering as to how few women there were in sales. If you went over to the operation side, closing, you know, underwriting, processing, the numbers were much better in those areas, but for sales, they were really stark. And the guys would say, oh, you're a cheerleader. I always seemed to have something; I was always quoting people. When I went to college, I wrote a thesis on interviewing Edgar Allen Poe. And I tutored in English and I was a young author too. I was published in Cricket, my magazine at grade school. I had an English teacher who thought I had good writing skills. So somewhere inside me, I felt like there was probably always that author, teacher, writer, trainer type of personality.

Christine (10:47):
I did the tagline for this company as emotional awakening through education. I believe that if you have an opportunity to sit down and teach a subject, you first have to provoke the audience into the belief of the subject that you're teaching. It isn't enough to explain what and how something works, but the why, why you should do it, and really tying in to what makes people soar. And so I'm a metaphoric teacher. I use tons of metaphors—it's in my regular language, my everyday language—to kind of get people out of their heads, out of their elements, out of their situations to sit in light of things that they're struggling with, like delegation and just scaling and all of the human evolution pieces.

Christine (11:44):
So it's not surprising, 20/20 Vision Consulting offers grief and loss counselors, health and wellness counselors. We're in the mortgage industry and we're doing financial forensics building out performers; we're teaching originators how to scale and be entrepreneurs; we're teaching formidable business planning, time management, economics, the whole gamut of banking and real estate finance education, but for a human. So we look at you as the pilot of your business and you might be going through something. And so we're gonna have the resources here to make sure you are healthy—mind, body, soul—as best we can. And then we'll get down into the tactical matter of running your business, because so many things that prevent people from being successful are the outlier type of things that are affecting them.

Lauren (12:34):
That makes so much sense. And when you're coaching these businesses, individuals, etc., are you helping to shape that strategy? Are you more trying to get down to the root cause of why, whatever issue, maybe it's a sales issue or personal issue? What kind of conversations are you having with folks?

Christine (12:55):
You know, it's funny, because when I started 20/20 and I started to really get closer to the day that we were going to open our doors, we spent 18 months prior building the first deck of curriculum. So we had some substance and content and I made it very tactically formidable, the entrepreneur that was building an origination system. I knew that's what would attract companies. I knew that's what would attract originating salespeople. It’s where I had spent most of my career. And I knew that my competitor very much had a box of training that they expected people to crawl into. And it had limits, like let's learn how to make cold calls. Let's learn how to convert leads. Let's learn how to talk to realtors. Let's learn how to do this. And it may have had a set or a couple subsets of educational tactical matter.

Christine (13:49):
And I thought, I'm not doing that. I'm going to build a college. I'm gonna build it on modern terms, meaning you can train anywhere in the world. The software that I would end up getting through LightSpeed VT is tagged the most virtual interactive training system on Earth, which is a bold statement. And it's the Lamborghini of software. And so I went for it. I'm like, this is gonna be a scalable company and it's gonna be customizable. And so I would tell you, we opened our doors kind of with the mindset that there are thousands of different types of people within our industry who are gonna walk in with a very unique set of health circumstances for their business. And we need to be a hospital and like a drug store at the same time.

Christine (14:37):
We're gonna have a resource center where we can send them to go get cold medicine and send them to get bandages and send them to get Tylenol. But we're also going to have on-deck doctors ready to work with those patients who have outlier conditions for their business. So we really do have a process. We figured it out. Clients come in and go through a formidable process of telling their story. Every person who comes here fills out something called the blueprint for success, which I authored; it's in my book, Wise Eyes, the first book I wrote. It has nine components of building out a business plan. And it's literally an eight and a half by 11 piece of paper. And when you're done, it’s a complete ecosystem look at your business. 

Christine (15:22):
There’s a first coach who’s gonna review that document with you and they are then going to prescribe your first 90 days. There is formidable curriculum that's occurring. You do go through orientation. You are given a syllabus just like school. You are given an app on your phone and laptop that allows you to attend live classes—optional—during the week with real instructors. And then you have the ability to do your one-on-one sessions with your counselors. And so all of this is occurring and you are self-advocating yourself into the right places based on us saying, okay, this is what we see the priorities for fixing your business are X. If you don't come bearing a lot of problems and you're just here to be at the gym and get more muscles and get more strong, get stronger, well then that looks like a different path. And so we can write a prescription for literally endless amounts of people. Because what we did is we built an enormous resource center with all these professionals here and experts. And so the neat thing is people pay membership dues here. And then we write the checks to the doctors. So instead of you getting billed for every doctor you go to, you come here, you pay a membership and talk to the doctors and not be billed. And it's under your membership and we take care of it for you as part of your membership.

Lauren (16:38):
Did you just kind of figure this out by going through the process? I mean, it's one thing to start a business, right? It's another thing to be able to design it to scale and then build a team to do that and have the systems in place. How did you do it? I mean, you're at a place right now where you can tell that narrative, right?

Christine (17:01):
Some of it grew organically and out of us listening to what the clients’ needs were. And so, like I said, we had a subset of curriculum built and we started with a small pool of consultants. Then we heard, oh, they need this, we need that. And we'd bring in this and we'd bring in that. And we followed the markets because we are economic advisors and we followed the companies. And we just grew and stacked the resources. We still are. We believe that keeping memberships alive here is happening from our evolution of content. We have a syllabus of live certifications that go on by semester. So we're not teaching live business certifications in the summertime or in January. And so just like following a college, there are classes going on all year long and study halls, by the way, also going on.

Christine (17:57):
So communities of people are gathering in our Zooms and they're being managed by audio coaches to talk through points. We set the discussion points and we put guest coaches in, and they come in, but for the actual live semester of certification, we have a registration over the summer. We show the topics for the fall and you can opt into up to three of the certifications with your membership. You also can go to the study halls. You can go to the monthly masterminds as part of your all-access. And the virtual training has over 200 hours of formidable training. It's a culmination of over 100 executive consultants. And the libraries are rich. You could literally go find something on anything. I think at this point we have over 20 hours of digital marketing strategy. We have 40 hours of financial forensic strategy.

Christine (18:54):
And so it's like going to the library; what are you here for? What are you studying to be? And so again, I guess because I started from a place where I said I'm not going to be trying to compete with the one-man coaching shops, I'm going to be trying to create a resource center for professionals in our space. And I still think we're the best-kept secret in our industry. And we have grabbed so much market share from our competition and are still growing at a pretty big pace. So I feel blessed. It's been a complex puzzle. I would say the hardest thing is that I once again entered a male-dominated field, consulting and coaching. So like I haven't had enough challenges.

Christine (19:41):
I decided to once again opt into that situation, which is crazy, but I just haven't paid attention to the noise. I've always believed that we as women could do anything we put our minds to. I think we are the best choices for many things. And I just set the gender talk aside. I had many people say what are you doing? I had people who were really scared that I was making a mistake or losing my mind because I was leaving a really great income in my previous job after the mountain I had climbed to get there. And they were like, what are you doing? You know coaching is saturated, nobody needs more coaches. I'm watching coaches starve to death out there trying to make it; there's a gazillion people who think they're coaches. 

Christine (20:33):
And literally when they said it to me, I'm like, well, you don't believe in me as much as I believe in myself, clearly in this conversation. I have something special and I'm gonna bring it and I'm gonna grow it. And whoever wants to come can come. But I always knew I had something and I'm not saying me personally, on an egotistical level. I understood the complexity in the mortgage industry and real estate industry. And I saw the holes. We do not have a school for loan origination. There are people who offer certain areas, but I just felt there's a need and there is a hole and I'm gonna go fill that. And so I just had a lot of belief in the idea.

Lauren (21:16):
Yeah. You had that bird's eye view. And so you could start to poke holes in it and see an opportunity for improvement. So, looking back, is there anything you would've done differently or even looking ahead, anything you wanna grow or expand?

Christine (21:31):
Yeah. So I'm still very strategic. I have always been strategic, competing in 12-month sales contests, or trying to be the best at something over a long time or win the number one spot or even the top 5% when they're giving out awards. And I would kill myself to get those, more because I wanted to test the limits of myself. I kind of consider myself kind of like a mountain climber. People ask all the time, why would you wanna climb a mountain? And I think I completely understand that mindset of like, I wanna know if I can do it, but it's scary. But I'm gonna learn everything I can. I just recently refurbished my great-grandmother's waterfall 1920s dresser. I know nothing about furniture refurbishing. But I knew this fragile piece, this dresser, which I have an emotional memory of my great-grandmother sitting in front of with her curlers and powder puff, big round powder puff thing that she had.

Christine (22:34):
I can just remember her sitting there making herself pretty and putting her lipstick on. And I was a little girl. And when she died at 86 years old, she left me this bureau. And so I'm saying this to you because I knew it deserved to have a shine put on it. And I knew it deserved an expert to do it. And I thought I could hire somebody to do it, but I could teach myself how to do it. And so I just YouTubed to death waterfall 1920 dresser remakes. And I watched about 10 to 15 hours before I made my first move. And then I started to do it and I'm gonna tell you, I have received offers. I also documented the process. I got on camera and said, I'm gonna do something I've never done. And I started posting on the weekends and people were tuning in.

Christine (23:17):
I had one weekend where I didn't post the progress over three months of this dresser. And I had people private messaging saying, are we getting an update on the dresser? We can't wait to see how it looked, and it came out incredibly. I had people make me thousands of dollars of offers. It has this beautiful 1920s woman on the front in stencil and it's mahogany and it's guilded. And I preserved the mirror. I took my time. So I say this to you, I digress, because I believe that I have the mind of a person who’s always examining and analyzing things. And I'm scanning. So right now, in 2022, we have a pivot in the market. We have an inventory issue on the purchase side. Interest rates have risen; we're at war. There's tons of equity.

Christine (24:11):
There's 32 trillion in equity and mortgage originators are suffering because they've been shooting fish in a barrel for many years, with the rate rates being low and an inbound type of sale that was already warm, driven by the consumer, just because of market winds and the winds in the sails of the economic markets. And it's a pivot this year, a hard pivot. The loan officers themselves aren't quite sure how to have the economic conversation about taking equity, especially with people that don't have debt and maybe have to raise their interest rate. And so we are here at 20/20 to help those people across America have this conversation. We're in classrooms, practicing this conversation overcoming objections. And it means that my firm also has to steady and stabilize itself because our client is a person that's declining in income right now, which is a direct threat to my consulting firm.

Christine (25:08):
And so what do you do? You look ahead and you say, where is the wind going? And you turn your sail. And so I am turning the boat of 20/20 into the corporate wind. And I'm saying, hey, you wanna retain your loan originators, bring them the answers—we have the answers. And we're gonna just continue to be here with the lights on, because we know there's gonna be some ships that are sinking this year and so on and so forth. So I think I'm just gonna always be out here, with a passion, competing, proving that by example even when I opened my business four years ago, I had a no-fail option because I was ironically entering a field where I was going to business coach people on how to run, scale and have thriving businesses in a new market where my business had never existed in a fishbowl with a no-fail option, because if I can't build 20/20, sustain it, scale it, how on earth would you hire me to tell you to do the same?

Christine (26:14):
And so that is the pressure I live with, but it's a pressure I'm happy to live with. And I would say finally, I feel honored to live in my purpose. I feel honored when tested with the idea that giving education meant more to me than receiving a rich, rich paycheck. That I actually answered that question with the greatest thing I could give back to myself in self-confidence and ROI. And that is that I am a good person and that I do have my priorities straight. And I am an integral person and I don't know that I always believe that about myself. So I think it's been really good for me to do this.

Lauren (27:04):
So this is so fun hearing about where you are today too. And just have one more question for you to wrap up.

Christine (27:10):
Yeah. This is fun. I'm enjoying it. No problem.

Lauren (27:12):
A simple question. I don't know. We'll see if it's challenging or not, but you could give a sentence or two to define success for someone? What would be your number one tip?

Christine (27:24):
Yeah, that's a really loaded question with a company name, like Vision For Success. I'm gonna tell you that to me, I believe that if you seek happiness as your number one goal in life, you're going to find success. And I don't know what that is for people. And I will tell you, I chased a lot of things for a long time that I thought were my definition of success, but my greatest feeling of success has come from finding happiness and aligning myself with what it is that makes me very, very happy. I think you gotta find your purpose in life. And I think we can do it in the mortgage industry and real estate industry too. You know, it's still the American dream. There are countries we get to see, unfortunately in this war, a bird's eye view of the suffering that is happening in the world and beyond the lens that we're getting to peek into.

Christine (28:26):
There are countries where children are growing up and clothing and housing and education are things that they seek. And I think we have to remember that those principle-based things are what humans really wanna have at the end of the day. Security. They wanna feel good about themselves. They wanna further their minds and busy their minds. And I feel really good to be in a space where we're giving the American dream, which is the shelter factor. And today I'm helping people make their businesses thrive through education. And so I feel like I'm really aligned in the right places to be principally based. I think our whole industry is in fact. I think finance is a wonderful space for people to really find their purpose. And that's it, we forget that part. I think that's why people that I managed soared—because I always made them remember what we were doing, not how we were doing it necessarily. It was why are we doing this? And that purpose truly propelled people in my mind and still does.

Lauren (29:41):
Yeah. It's that team effort. So, I hear you.

Christine (29:46):
Awesome.

Lauren (29:46):
Well, gosh, thank you so much for your time and, and sharing a little bit more. I know there are so many resources and books that you've authored and other quotes we'll make sure to include them in the show notes below, but again, I appreciate your time. Thank you for all you're doing in this industry and helping to inspire people to take purposeful steps forward to success, which is great to see you not only being a part of, but you've built an entire company around it. So thank you for sharing.

Christine (30:14):
Thank you for having me. I always feel so appreciative to find other businesswomen like myself that are out there that are helping us all share our stories. And it's fun to be reminded of the journey and to have a moment to look back, which I don't get to do every day. So these moments allow me to be appreciative and leave with gratitude. So thank you for giving me that moment as well.

Lauren (30:40):
Oh, absolutely. So, thank you again, and we'll be in touch soon.

Identifying Purpose to Achieve Success with Christine Beckwith of 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching

In our interview with Christine Beckwith, she shares what makes her approach to coaching financial service professionals unique.