Stephen Rischall, CFP®, runs his own financial planning practice and works primarily with millennials and young professionals. When he first started his career, he was working with another advisor at their financial planning practice. This advisor acted as Stephen’s mentor, and sat him down one day to lay out his future career options. It quickly became apparent that Stephen had three career choices in front of him:

  1. Work with his mentor forever (which would have been fun – they got along really well).
  2. Go to work for one of the big wirehouse financial planning firms.
  3. Start his own practice.

Stephen’s entrepreneurial spirit got the best of him and he struck out on his own shortly after that. Over the years, Stephen has learned so much about running his own business. As his practice grew, he learned each element of entrepreneurship himself until he was able to add team members. Stephen has focused on digital marketing, speaking, outbound marketing, growing with a business partner, and so much more.

In this episode, we’re focusing on what it means to run your own financial planning practice with a team. We’re discussing the ups and downs, the big wins and the challenges. Stephen’s story is incredibly inspiring, and his insights are spot-on!

Hannah's signature

What You’ll Learn:

  • What different career paths in financial planning might look like for a new planner
  • How strong mentorship relationships can change the game as a new planner or career changer
  • What to expect when you’re starting your own planning practice
  • How a business partner can help you grow in ways you might struggle to do alone
  • What challenges you might face as a financial planning entrepreneur
  • What type of staff you may eventually look to hire
  • How to focus on a digital marketing presence
  • What a “digital media kit” looks like – and how to build one
  • Why starting early and trying new things often is more important than getting it “right” on your first try

 

Show Transcript

Ep121 Transcript


Hannah: Well, thanks for joining us today, Stephen.

Stephen: Thanks for having me, Hannah.

Hannah: Yeah. So you have your firm, 1080 Financial, how long have you had your company?

Stephen: We started our RIA, my business partner and I, we left the broker-dealer space about four years ago, so we’ve had our RIA for about three and a half, going on for years, and it’s been a great opportunity. A lot of challenges, but a lot of fun at the same time.

Hannah: Now, how did you know that you wanted to start your firm?

Stephen: If I rewind to when I was in college, I had an opportunity in my junior year where I started to work as an assistant to another financial advisor. He was also, at the time, with an independent broker-dealer so I feel fortunate that I came up in a more independent environment. I remember it distinctly after I graduated a few months after, he was my mentor and he said to me at the time, “Stephen, you have three choices, number one, you’re going to keep working for me, and I love you and you’re doing a great job and that would be wonderful. Number two, you’re going to go work for one of the big firms, the big banks, the big Wall Street machine, and you’re going to help them build their business.” I remember him saying that, “You’re going to help them build their business.” And then he said, “You have the third option is you can do what I did and figure it out and build your own business.” And I just had this entrepreneurial spirit and I just knew a few things, one, I loved his independence, I loved the way that he had a lot more flexibility to actually focus on helping clients, and of course, come on, an entrepreneure, a young guy, I love technology, I was like, “I’m probably going to figure out a better way to do this. I believe I can.” And that’s how it all started from there.

Stephen: So from day one I knew that at some point I would have my own firm, and it took a little while to get there but best decision we ever made.

Hannah: Was there ever any talk of internal succession plan or you buying into his business?

Stephen: Not his business. I think I was probably too green back then. I mean, I started … Back then I was like 19, 20 years old, I didn’t even know what succession was, so there was never any talk of that. And again, I think I really just had this mindset of I wanted to start my own thing and put my own flag in the ground.

Hannah: How long was it from when you started working at that independent broker-dealer to when you started your own firm?

Stephen: Yes. So technically I worked for that group for about three years, so just a little bit after graduation, is when I sort of ceased. I found other broker-dealers that would actually let someone like myself, a young, what was I, maybe 23-year-old college graduate at the time, just start a book of business. As crazy as that might sound. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity today, but I did it. So I actually linked up with a broker-dealer first, worked under the broker-dealer for about three, four years, and then was at a point where I think I had enough confidence, I had enough practice in the field, I had enough clients where I felt secure that, hey, if I actually start my own thing I think there’s enough folks that would want to come my way, I’ve developed strong relationships with, and I think it’ll work.

Stephen: Looking back at it, it sure did work and it was a scary leap to make, but I have to say in that moment … And let me add this, I met my business partner, Matt, working at the broker-dealer. So today I’m 31, he’s 52, but we’ve always made a good match. Having someone else to bounce ideas off of, having someone else to share in those stressful moments and just vent to sometimes was very helpful. So I didn’t necessarily feel like I was making the jump by myself. It was a little bit more comfortable making it with him and doing it together.

Hannah: When you were at the broker-dealer did you start out from zero where you were having to find your own clients and work through that processor, or you teamed up with somebody, or getting legacy clients? Or, what did that look like?

Stephen: Started at zero. I’ll just be brutally honest about it, it was a grind. It still today is a grind, it’s just a different method that we go through today, and I think I have a little more street cred so it makes it a little easier, but I learned a lot in those early years working at the broker-dealer. The interesting thing is when you’re in an environment and before you have a lot of experience you don’t know what you don’t know, so I was soaking it all up. It was wonderful. I developed a lot of those soft skills. But it wasn’t until I learned more about this RIA fiduciary thing that really fascinated me, and something just told me that’s the future. That’s the right answer it. It’s true independence, it really puts the focus on the client.

Stephen: I was smart enough to figure out within about a year at the broker-dealer, even though it’s called an independent broker-dealer it was pretty obvious that it was much easier to do business if you sold these things, and I use that word because that’s frankly what we were doing there. One thing that really irked me in that environment was they lead with financial planning, but the truth was the goal of their financial plans 9 out of 10 times was to lead to some sort of a product sale. That got really old really quick. That’s not what we were about. It was really just, like I was saying Hannah, it was like the clock was ticking. It was a matter of time till we felt we had enough with us that we could jump ship and start our own RIA.

Hannah: Those clients that you were serving, where they younger clients? Were they older clients? Who were you able to find as clients when you first started?

Stephen: It was a mixed bag. If I could give a little bit of advice to anybody starting out, that’s younger, I’ll speak for myself here, I was really cognizant and anxious and nervous that people would perceive me as this young, punk kid Stephen … Okay, fine, you got a great story, you started investing when you were 13, whatever, you’re still in your 20s, am I really going to trust you with my life savings that I’ve worked 30, 40 years to save? You’re not even 30 years old, kid. So I was really sensitive about that. In the beginning I definitely targeted my natural market. I think a lot of people do that because it’s more comfortable till we know. I did my best to try to work with younger people, but the truth was in that broker-dealer model, they won’t super fond of you working with, let’s just face it, the smaller accounts, people just getting started. And there was a lot of pressure to, honestly, get back to your family and focus on the people that have the money, and again, these things were not really meshing with me but it was a mixed bag. I worked with a pretty even amount Gen X, Gen Y, so my peers, worked with folks that were more my parent’s age, pre-retirement, and retirees as well. Fortunately, through just being able to connect with folks, I had a pretty good run in it.

Stephen: I had this experience where I was speaking with someone and they said, “This weakness that you feel you have, this perceived weakness, can you turn it into a strength?” I thought about that a lot, and I’m still known in my community today … I’m 31 now, I’m still young, but I started in my early 20s when I was out in public and you have 10 seconds to introduce yourself at a chamber event or something. I would introduce myself as, my name is Stephen Rischall and I’m the financial advisor that won’t retire before you do so, I totally turned that perceived weakness on its head and made it a strength. And I’ll tell you what, that message rings true with people. So big piece of advice I would give for any new planner, new entrepreneur, if you’re going to launch your own practice or start focusing on bringing in clients, guess what, being young is an advantage. You know the technology better, you know the new ways and new practices, new laws and new regulations better. You may not have as many gray hairs or you may not be missing as much hair as I am, or some of the other folks, but at the end of the day being young and being there for your clients and your client’s kids, and that next-generation, that’s what you’re planning for. So being able to turn that perceived weakness of your youth into a strength is very beneficial.

Hannah: You specialize in working with younger clients now, is that a true statement?

Stephen: For the most part. If we look at our business today, our households we work with, yes I am the young guy on the team so I tend to gravitate more towards working with young folks, but really only about 30% of our practice today, maybe 25%, is actually comprised of Gen X and Gen Y. But I’m going to be their main point of contact because I’m the guy they want to talk to.

Hannah: Yeah. There’s a lot of talk about niching in financial planning these days, have you found a niche that you work with or that your firm works with?

Stephen: Yes. Luckily now as our firm has grown, we have four partners, everyone sort of has their area of specialty, and that’s made it a lot easier for me to hone in on the clients I really enjoy working with and that I just sort of have a knack and I guess a natural market I’ve developed for now. I am in LA so it may not be too much of a surprise that I target working with folks in the entertainment industry. Don’t think in front of the camera, grant it I have some of those folks too, but think more behind the camera, supportive services, people that are in production, post-production, editing, grips, lighting, casting, a lot of that is in my backyard. I’m in the Encino and Sherman Oaks area, not too far from Studio City in Hollywood, Burbank where a lot of the studios are, so I’m really targeting and working a lot more with folks in their late 20s to late 30s, whether they’re married or not, but at least one or two of the partners are in the entertainment industry in one shape or form.

Hannah: Getting back to your career path story, what was the reason that really made … Was there an event that made you go from the broker-dealer to the RIA? Or, was it just a plan that you were implementing?

Stephen: I feel when I look back at it that it was definitely a long-term plan because I knew when I joined up with that broker-dealer I wanted what the gentlemen I worked for when I was in college had, which was true independence, his own firm, not really working inside of some other department or compartment. So I knew that I wanted to get there. I honestly was not totally sure of the path, but I was confident enough in my ability to navigate it and to make the right decisions, that just something about me I just knew I would get there.

Stephen: Someone asked me early on in my career, it was an older gentleman, in some table talk we were doing at some event, and he said, “Stephen, if this doesn’t work out for you, do you have a fall back? What’s your other plan?” I was quick with the answer and I said, “My Plan B is to try harder.” So I was committed from day one. I knew that I was going to make it work and I made it work.

Hannah: Yeah. That’s great. So, working with those younger clients, how do you approach them? How do you work with them? What does your service offering look like for them?

Stephen: Yeah. So one thing I think you have to take a step back and think about is, look, it’s not necessarily always about the money. From a business standpoint, yes, you need to be profitable, it is in your client’s best interest that you stay in business, so let’s make that very clear. That said, you can find ways that you can work with younger people that may not necessarily have an asset amount that can even pay enough for your time, because you have to be fair to your other clients too, but with today’s different business models, working virtually, a lot more digital tools, their time that they need of us, it’s not as demanding in terms of a planner.

Stephen: I find that typically younger clients have a more simple financial situation, but that’s not always the case, so let’s just be honest about that. It doesn’t take as much time as some of, maybe, the more complex and, in my opinion, fun cases, because I like the nitty-gritty and the detailed stuff. So, look, it doesn’t take as much time, you can use technology to augment a lot of it. There’s innovative business models, whether it’s subscription-based, retainer-based, or AUM, or some mix of those … And we’re finding that, hey, we can engage these younger clients on focusing on more of the basics of their financial foundation, budgeting and cash flow, helping them understand their employee benefits and take advantage of them the right way, the way that benefits them most, maybe setting up a retirement plan or a retirement account, a little bit of light tax planning, refer them to an attorney if it’s time for them to maybe put an estate plan together, and that’s about it. They typically don’t have very advanced needs so it’s not very demanding on our time, and we can help them.

Stephen: And you really ought to be thinking about investing in client potential. So even though the revenue might not be there today, there’s a lot of client potential. I think as you meet more people you become a really good judge of character and you understand people’s intent, you’ll be able to know if someone’s a good client. A great example is any millennial that walks in the doors, or just calls me these days, or reaches out to me online and say, “Hey, Stephen, I want to save some money for retirement and I was looking at this Roth IRA and I was looking at my 401(k) at work, what should I do?” The answer is both and more, and it doesn’t take me that long to explain that to somebody. So the point being, it’s a more simple situation. We can just give folks a few minutes of our time, it will impact them, and maybe in the future they’ll be a better fit for our services because they demand and they need more strategic planning, they need more of our help, but in the early days you just help people, and I’m a big believer that it will come back and pay you 10 times forward.

Hannah: Do you have a minimum for your clients or how do your clients pay you, except for the small account sizes?

Stephen: We do have a $1,200 fee minimum. So we have two service lines, so as it relates to sort of foundational clients, folks getting started, it’s a $1,200 fee minimum. So if you don’t have the AUM to pay that, our max fee is going to be 1%, so do the math that’s $120,000 in assets. A lot of young people might not be there yet, perfectly fine, we’re still going to help you and engage in a more financial planning light, a more ad hoc financial advice, we’re there for you. When you have financial questions, we’re here to back you up. You’re looking at buying your first home, let’s talk through the process, let’s look at the offers you’re getting in terms of the mortgage rates, is it good, is it bad, are you getting sold something. Our goal is to be there and help people make smart financial decisions. They will remember that and long term, it’s going to come back to you. So if you don’t meet our minimum from an asset standpoint, that’s fine, we just do a quarterly flat dollar amount and it’s going to be $1,200 a year. We found that that’s very, very approachable even for folks that are just getting started.

Hannah: You mentioned that there are four different partners at your firm, do the other three partners buy into this idea of working with these smaller clients in this way? I mean, because that is kind of a counterintuitive message or something that you don’t hear at the big conferences.

Stephen: Yeah. I’ll be honest about it, it’s been a bit of an uphill battle. It’s been interesting now that we’ve merged our firm with another fee-only RIA, great opportunity, and we’re growing, and it’s definitely in the right direction, but I wouldn’t be honest with you if I was telling you it was all sprinkles and rainbows. The truth is there is a bit of a culture clash of the old-school mindset of million-dollar minimums and, the one that bothers me is, we’re losing money on this client. I mean, think about that, losing money on this client, let’s really break it down and figure it out, what are our fixed costs, we’ve done this, we have figured it out, when you factor in labor and real estate, fine, it gets up there, but look if you’re able to generate $1,200 in revenue, at least for us, we’re not losing money on anybody. We may not be profitable or very profitable, but that’s okay because my belief, and what I’ve helped instill in some of my new partners, is this happy medium of you invest in that client potential.

Stephen: We don’t say yes to everybody, you got to be a good fit for us and we have to be a good fit for you, but you invest in that client potential, they’re going to stay very, very loyal to you. And what I appreciate the most is helping people. So they’re going to reach out to us with those questions and we’re going to be able to demonstrate and provide that value. So it is a bit of an uphill battle, but clearly we’ve had some success stories with younger clients, and my new partners are seeing that. They’re believing it, they’re understanding the importance of having the digital footprint like we do online, and it is all coming around.

Hannah: What prompted you to get partners?

Stephen: Yes. So my partner Matt and I originally are the ones to start our RIA and then we just merged with two other partners, so there’s four of us now, and what prompted that is growth in economies of scale. They’re in aging practice, more of their clients are in the distribution phase and in the accumulation phase, we’re the exact opposite. My new partners didn’t really have a very strong digital footprint, or marketing, or really using processes and technology as good as they should internally, look at our firm 1080, we’re absolutely crushing that game, so bring us together there is a lot of complementary facets of our practices. My two new partners are both CFAs so they have a lot more expertise and strengths on the investment management side and, as much as that’s something that we’ve always been comfortable with at 1080 Financial, let’s be honest, it’s a little bit stressful. I like to focus more as being a CFP on the financial planning, and the strategic planning, and the one-on-one client communication. So to offload some of those tasks, like reporting and billing, and more importantly, the asset management piece, to another group internally was a very, very smart decision that lowered my stress levels and helped me focus on the things that I’m really, really good at and not spread myself too thin.

Stephen: So bottom line, being able to merge and benefit from economies of scale and more resources is really helping us in being able to implement processes, having a larger team and dedicated staff now we’re really able to grow this business. And what I’ve learned is we can really provide a much better client experience across the board that we can replicate, and to me that’s pretty amazing.

Hannah: How big is your staff at your firm?

Stephen: Yeah. So we’ve got four partners, we have one junior advisor and then we have three full-time staff in addition to that. One of the staff is also another CFA, he’s running all of our trading, rebalancing, managing models, very active with that. We have another staff member, very proud to say I hired someone from my college in the financial planning program. I was super, super stoked about being able to do that about a year and a half ago, big accomplishment, and he graduates pretty soon, actually in about six or seven months so at that time he’ll really be full-time. He’s practically full-time, but school first. School first, guys. Get out of school, get good grades, pass the CFP. And then we also have someone that’s more, I don’t like to say an office admin because she’s not, but she fulfills some of those tasks. I would call her more that director of first impressions, have you heard that title before?

Hannah: Yeah.

Stephen: She’s great. I mean, she communicates with our clients, keeps them in the loop of whether they deposit a check or money’s going out to them. She plays a crucial role too. That’s the cool thing, having a team where everybody has value that they’re bringing to the table and feels that they’re making a contribution and is really helping our clients, that’s really neat and I think that’s really beneficial.

Hannah: So, how do you spend your time? How much of your time is client facing versus marketing, because I know you do a lot in that space verses other tasks?

Stephen: Yah. It’s interesting, about two, three years ago I switched a lot of my outward networking to be more digital, and now I think that’s great because now instead of having one partner I have three partners that are more out there, pounding the pavement, shaking hands with the CPAs and the attorneys in our community, which I still have a lot of those relationships, no doubt, but it’s given me more time to focus online, doing a little bit more video. So please feel free to reach out, happy to answer your questions, but you can give me a follow at @smartmoneysteph across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. It’s allowed me more time to focus on my digital presence, which has been good for myself and for the firm. I’d probably about 35% of my time these days is more client facing, somewhere between 30 and 40% realistically, whether it’s just feeling a phone call … If I’m available, I want to talk to my clients. I’m really about that sort of client relationship and client experience.

Stephen: If you think about it, when I go live on Facebook, I might not be getting a ton of likes, I might not be getting a ton of comments, but I can’t tell you how many of my clients, the next time I’m speaking with them or we do a client appreciation event, they say, “Hey, Stephen, I saw that video where you did this,” or, “Hey, Stephen, I really liked how you did that,” or, “Can you talk more about this?” It blew my mind because it’s like, why aren’t you liking and commenting on my stuff, but you know what, that doesn’t even matter. It blew my mind because that proved to me that people are watching and paying attention, and even doing some of that outbound just digital marketing stuff is putting me in front of my clients and keeping us connected. So I’m even connecting with my clients, I believe, when they’re surfing on their mobile phones, or on their computers, or tablets, and surfing their their Facebook feed or their Instagram, I’m still connecting with clients then. Now, I can’t quantify that time, but I mean, definitely, overtly, I’m probably spending 30 to 40% of my time directly working with clients or prospective clients.

Hannah: So, on the marketing, when did you decide to go full in on the digital space?

Stephen: It was probably about 2016, mid-to-late 2016. Something told me, looking at myself, what are my behaviors, where would I find this service or that service, and it was proving to me you’re going to just start Googling more and more stuff, so I knew that it mattered that I needed to make sure that we ranked on Google. That’s a challenge in our business, especially in a market like Los Angeles. I have never paid for any type of search engine marketing, or paid ads, I haven’t done that yet, I’ve experimented a little bit on Facebook, but the point being everything I’ve been able to do to date has been organic, so yes you can do it, 100% you can. We ranked fairly high, still, I’m pretty sure, in a lot of our keywords that we’ve been working on for SEO, organic search, in the Los Angeles area, but it does take time.

Stephen: We now see, I’d say about … At minimum, we’re getting probably three prospective clients per month that are qualified clients coming in through just Google searches, or Yelp searches, or maybe saw something I was quoted saying in an article, so it was pretty clear to me early on that that’s where the trend was going and I just wanted to get ahead of the game and get a jumpstart on the big firms because I knew they would get into the space eventually. Now they clearly are, and they’ve got way more money than any of us do to spend on it, but we got a little bit of a jump on them.

Stephen: I would say this to anyone that’s getting started, look, even if you haven’t gotten started yet, if you have some type of story or financial knowledge that you want to share with your peers, or your friends, or a specific type of target market, it’s not that hard to start a blog. It’s not that hard to start doing some live videos. Yeah, your production value might be a little lower when you get started … Like I’m sure, Hannah, when you started your podcast you may not have had all this same fancy equipment, you may not have made the thumbnails as nice, you learned a few things along the way, right?

Hannah: Oh yeah. It’s painful when I go back and listen to the first couple of episodes.

Stephen: But you started somewhere, right? You can’t get to the top of the mountain without taking the first step. So I would really encourage anyone that’s serious about this profession, getting involved one way or another, if you’re passionate about it, you want to share some knowledge, you want to share your word, get out there and do it. Whether it’s using social media, whether it’s using tools like podcasts and YouTube and live streaming, you can do it, and now more than ever those tools are available to you and you should start doing that now.

Hannah: If you were to start over today, 2016 really wasn’t that long ago, would you do anything different in that digital space, in that marketing space?

Stephen: Yeah, it’s a good question. I think if I were just to rewind all the way … Again, a great experience working with my mentor in the beginning and learning about the business, and I’m happy I went in this direction and didn’t work for the Wall Street machine, that was a definite turning point in my career, but I would say if I just started over in general, today there are so many more opportunities to start as a fiduciary, start as a financial planner … I mean, it’s amazing to me that you actually don’t even need to be on that sort of business development sales side if you don’t want to, you can literally get higher today and make a great living and make a huge contribution to people’s lives and help them by just focusing on financial planning or just focusing on investment management, may you want to get your CFA. The point being, you no longer have to be that broker salesperson anymore if you don’t want to be.

Stephen: Now, I’m not going to discount the importance of that, sales is not a bad word, and I think in our profession what we’re really doing is we’re selling our service and building rapport and trust. We’re not selling a product. That’s the difference. To me, financial advice is not a sales pitch. But at the end of the day, you have to help people come to making a decision and that takes a bit of sales and it’s not easy. So if I could rewind to earlier in my career I would have started from day one as an RIA. I might’ve joined up with one of these networks, there’s a bunch of them out there that are very supportive, connect you to technology at a discounted rate, connect you to the support system with other independent advisers, getting started as RIAs, I totally would’ve been going that route. So if I was graduating college today, that’s probably what I would be doing right now is starting my own thing as an RIA from day one. So I think there’s tremendous opportunity for folks getting started today.

Stephen: Same thing like I said earlier, maybe you’re still in school or maybe you’re thinking about this career, you’re not just ready yet or you’re studying for your CFP, guess what, if you’re studying for your CFP you probably have a lot of information in your head, a lot of information that you can share on a podcast, on a social media post, on a video, I would start doing it sooner rather than later.

Hannah: Because you learn along the way.

Stephen: That’s right.

Hannah: We talk about financial planning a lot on the podcast and, really focusing on that, did your education background give you enough to really feel competent as a financial planner to start out from the gate? Or, how did you develop those skills?

Stephen: I would say no. When I went to school, at least the school I went to, we didn’t have a formal financial planning program. I did graduate finance honors and that was fine, but the one thing I think no matter what that you lack and it’s going to be tough … It’s really exciting to hear in some of the programs at these colleges, that they’re actually doing one-on-one student counseling, that’s exactly what they should be doing. If you have a financial planning program at your school and you’re listening to this right now, whether you’re a student or you’re faculty, you really need to implement some type of a one-on-one student counseling program. The main reason why, it’s going to help develop those soft skills of being able to talk to people about uncomfortable or unfamiliar things, debt, student loans, budgeting, that nitty-gritty not so fun stuff. You got to get over that hump.

Stephen: So I think it’s wonderful that there’s programs now that teach about that, but I would say myself, coming out of school, I didn’t feel … Again, I didn’t really know what I didn’t know. I knew that I knew about investing, I understood asset allocation, I understood the basics of financial planning, but most all of my experience I gained on the job. I gained a lot of my experience working at that independent firm in the beginning. And I have to say, let’s just be honest about it, I was very fortunate, he had a niche where his focus was family businesses, primarily franchise owners, so I had the benefit of working on some very, very complex financial plans, tax planning, estate planning, business transition planning and succession planning really early on in my career. So being able to use the technology, which I was on the front lines of figuring out how to use the technology, interface with these accountants and attorneys that were way older than I was, but hearing them and then being able to make the technology do what they were talking about, that’s how I learned most of what I did was just trial and error and learning by doing. I am a kinesthetic learner so I learn by doing.

Hannah: And you do a lot of media appearances, and speaking and things like that, is that a more recent occurrence in your career or has that been something you’ve been doing for a while?

Stephen: Yeah. As far as doing public speaking, it’s something I enjoy. I wouldn’t say I push it that hard, I’m not out there trying to speak at a conference a month, I got a business to run and that’s not the business I’m in, but if it’s something that I’m passionate about, I’m happy to chat more about it depending on the audience, if that makes sense. So I do enjoy that. I do some public speaking. I’m always happy to increase that.

Stephen: Some of the media stuff, I got lucky early on, and I would suggest, again, there’s so many more resources today where they use something like Help A Reporter Out, HARO, or eventually you get your CFP or other credentials, and you’re able to be on some sort of listserv through the Financial Planning Association or the CFP board. There’s a lot of ways that you can get that these requests from media that they’re looking for a subject matter expert. I learned early on, probably 2015, maybe 2016, probably 2015 was the first time I got quoted somewhere and I thought it was the coolest thing, and I learned a little bit more about creating what’s called a media kit or an electronic press kit. So if you’re trying to get quoted in the media first, well, you got to get your first one, but once you do that, make sure you document this stuff. Go Google right now electronic press kit, it’s not hard to make, it’s basically a website that tracks all of your present media. Go do that, put that together, because it does build upon itself. Success builds upon success.

Stephen: And now I’ve gotten to a place where I probably have enough street cred where I have a handful of reporters that’ll reach out to me, or bloggers, or, again, Hanna, thanks for having me on the podcast, because folks might hear you on a podcast, or on a video that you did, or wherever it is, and they’re going to want to say, hey, I want to talk to Hannah, Hannah knows what she’s talking about, she’s sharp, I need to find her, she’s got that podcast, we need to talk to her about X, Y, and Z. So again, going back to what we said earlier of if you’ve got some information, you’ve got some knowledge, today with social media, putting that out there, you would be surprised who might be on the other end receiving that message.

Hannah: Are there any other pieces of advice you’d have for the new planners coming into the profession?

Stephen: Yeah, here’s an interesting one, my mentor, when I got started, told me this, and it’s been true to me, and I don’t mean to sound a little daunting or depressing here, but he said it like this, he said, “Stephen, in the first five years you’re going to work your butt off and you’re not going to get paid very well, it’s going to be a struggle,” and you know what, he was right about that. That was true. It wasn’t easy. He told me, “Years 5 through 10, you’re going to make a good living, you’re going to do okay, and you’re still going to work your butt off,” and he’s been right about that too. And then he said, “If you make it past 10 years in this profession, in this industry, if you can make it past 10 years, you’re doing something right, you’re going to be just fine,” and because I’ve had some resets in my career, launching my own firm … Or, maybe really at this point, I’m saying about four or five years into really having our own RIA, but I had another four or five years prior to that of being with a broker-dealer, I kind of feel like we’re at that 10-year mark.

Stephen: In some ways, we’re doing amazing and I feel like we’re crushing it, but in other ways, I’m definitely my own biggest critic so I know the biggest room in the world is room for improvement, and we just want to strive to help more people, provide a better client experience and just do the right thing for the right reasons.

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