Welcome back to the thirty-second episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!
My guest on today's podcast is Brittney Castro. Brittney is the founder of Financially Wise Women, an independent RIA in the Los Angeles area that specializes in providing fee-only financial planning for professional women in their 30s and 40s.
What's unique about Brittney's advisory business, though, is not just that she's generating more than $100,000 in standalone financial planning fees, but that by building an entire personal brand business around herself, she's been able to diversify her revenue streams as a financial advisor to include offering online courses, paid speaking, and even corporate partnerships where she is paid to be a brand ambassador for financial literacy!
In this episode, Brittney talks in depth about the digital marketing strategies she uses to attract young professional women who are ready and willing to pay her $2,500 to $5,500 financial planning fees, the 5-meeting process she uses over 6 months to deliver financial planning advice and earn her fees, how she structures her ongoing retainer fee for clients, and what she does for them on an ongoing basis (when there's no portfolio to manage). In addition, we also look at how Brittney built her highly scalable online Money Class course on personal finance, and how she's been able to generate nearly $100,000 of additional revenue over the past several years by selling her course for $497 per person... despite spending less than $10,000 and 40-50 hours of her time to make it... which means her investment into building that online course has generated about a whopping $2,000 an hour for her time!
We also talk about how Brittney gets paid for professional speaking, the world of "influencer marketing", and why a financial institution would pay her a substantial amount of money just to have Brittney - the financial advisor - be affiliated with their brand.
And be certain to listen to the end, when Brittney talks about how the key to her success is all about focusing on one area of her business at a time, working on improving it, and then moving on to the next area, while maintaining a large number of independent outsources who each help her in specialized aspects of her business.
And so whether you’ve been wondering how to position fee-for-service financial planning to younger clients who can pay planning fees but have no assets to manage, or want perspective on how a successful personal brand as a financial advisor can open up new business lines, or have simply been curious about what it takes to create an online course to reach new clients, I hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor success podcast!
What You’ll Learn In This Podcast Episode
- What Brittney charges initially, and how she structures an ongoing monthly retainer fee for clients that want ongoing financial planning service. [5:06]
- The meeting structure that Brittney uses to meet with her clients, initially and on an ongoing basis, to leverage the value of her time. [9:17]
- What financial planning Brittney covers for clients on an ongoing basis when there isn’t necessarily a portfolio to manage. [12:20]
- What digital marketing strategies Brittney has used to attract professional women in their 30s and 40s who are committed and willing to pay her financial planning fees. [35:59]
- How Brittney found business success by focusing on one area of the business at a time and using independent contractors. [44:22]
- How Brittney built her highly scalable online course on personal finance to generate nearly $100,000 in additional revenue over the past few years, despite spending less than $10,000 to get it started. [49:51]
- How Brittney gets paid for professional speaking engagements and consulting with other companies. [1:02:09]
- What she did to join the world of influencer marketing and why a financial institution would pay her a substantial amount of money to have her affiliated with their brand. [1:02:09]
- The way Brittney structures her schedule throughout the week to manage her obligations across multiple business lines. [1:08:26]
Resources Featured In This Episode:
- Brittney Castro - Financially Wise Women
- Money Class
- Chase Financial
- Advizr Financial Planning Software
- XY Planning Network
- FAS Ep 031: How To Properly Vet New Financial Advisors By Hiring For Attitude And Not Skills with Caleb Brown
- WishList Member Plugin
Full Transcript: Building A Personal Brand Advisory Business Of Financial Planning And Online Money Management Courses with Brittney Castro
Michael: Welcome, everyone. Welcome to the 32nd episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast. My guest on today's podcast is Brittney Castro. Brittney is the Founder of Financially Wise Women, an independent RIA in the Los Angeles area that specializes in providing fee-only financial planning for professional women in their 30s and 40s. What's unique about Brittney's advisory business, though, is not just that she's generating more than $100,000 of standalone financial planning fees, but that by building an entire personal brand business around herself, she's been able to diversify her revenue streams as a financial advisor to include offering online courses, getting paid for speaking, and even doing corporate partnerships where she's paid to be a brand ambassador for financial literacy.
In this episode, Brittney talks in-depth about the digital marketing strategy she uses to attract young professional women who are ready and willing to pay her $2,500 to $5,500 financial planning fees, the 5-meeting process she uses over the span of 6 months to deliver her financial planning advice and earn those fees, and how she structures her ongoing retainer fee for clients, and even what she does for them on an ongoing basis when there's not necessarily a portfolio to manage and she's simply being paid for ongoing financial planning advice.
In addition, we also look at how Brittney built her highly scalable online Money Class course on personal finance and how she's been able to generate nearly $100,000 of additional revenue over the past few years by selling her course for $497 a person despite spending less than $10,000 and 40 to 50 hours of her time to make it in the first place, which means her investment into building that online course has generated about a whopping $2,000 an hour for her time. We also look at how Brittney gets paid for professional speaking, the world of influencer marketing and why a financial institution would pay a financial advisor a substantial amount of money just to have her be affiliated with their brand.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Brittney talks about how the key to her success is all about focusing on one area of her business at a time, working on improving it and then moving on to the next area, and while maintaining a large number of independent outsourcers to leverage her time, who each help her in some narrow specialized aspect of her rather diverse business. And so with that introduction, I hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast with Brittney Castro.
Welcome, Brittney Castro to the Financial Advisor Success podcast.
Brittney: Thank you for having me. It's great to be here.
Michael: So I've been looking forward to this episode because I've…honestly, I've long admired from afar what you've been building as an entrepreneurial advisor. So you've got this cool niche business, Financially Wise Women, working with female professionals in the LA area, where you are. And I know you've been very active with Facebook marketing and YouTube marketing, you've got a rap video out there for consumers on personal finance, you've experimented with online courses, a Money Class for women to get better oriented about their finances, you're doing work as a education ambassador for Chase Financial. And so I'm just really excited to have you on it to share, like, what you've learned. You've tried a whole bunch of stuff that I don't think very many other advisors have even tried.
Brittney: Yes, thank you. Yeah, I've tested a lot. So it's good.
Michael: Well, very cool. So maybe as a starting point, like, just tell us a little about your advisory firm as it exists today.
Brittney: So Financially Wise Women is a RIA. We're four and a half years old, and basically, we do fee-only financial planning and other media partnerships. So I like to say I'm like a hybrid between a financial planning and almost like a financial education company. So just like the three service pillars are, one, financial planning, and we charge flat fees for comprehensive financial planning. We don't do any commissions or investment management fees. The second pillar are the online products. So currently I have one, which is a Money Class to teach women the basics of financial management. We're releasing some more classes later this year. And then the third pillar is like my speaking and corporate partnerships. And that kind of, I guess, would fall more under like the education and media side of the company. So it is very nontraditional in terms what we do.
Brittney's Fee Structure [5:06]
Michael: Yeah, I mean, I think for most of us advisors, like, you know, we would end after the first pillar, right? I mean, I do financial planning people and I get paid…for people and I get paid, like, "Okay, there we go." But let's start there because I think really that's the part that's probably the most familiar to most advisors. So you said a couple of interesting things there that you're doing. Flat-fee comprehensive financial planning, you said no commissions, you also said no investments, so I guess you're not even doing AUM or managing portfolios, so can you tell a little bit more about what does that look like? Like, what do you do for people? What do you charge? What does that flat-fee financial planning look at?
Brittney: Right. So I'm very transparent. And that was something that I really wanted when I first launched this company because to me, I wanted to make it more simple for myself as a business owner. We're doing so many things and I just thought, "I need to be able to clearly articulate my fees and have it very streamlined and packaged in a way that also my clients would naturally gravitate toward and they would understand quite easily."
So we offer an initial six-month financial planning relationship. Individuals it's $2,500, couples, $3,500, and business owners $5,500. And then after they complete the first six months, then we switch to an ongoing retainer model, which is very similar to your…most of the advisors in the XYPN network, where they charge…you know, they pay a monthly fee to retain us as advisors. We have, you know, a service that encompasses quarterly review meetings, ongoing service, you know, in terms of like budget updates, strategy updates, and access to us. So that is our, like, financial planning package. And then for any clients who've just gone through the first six months, we also just do hourly consultation. So sometimes they just need like a check up or like a few hours of our time, maybe not the complete ongoing service. So that's actually something we just launched a few months ago because a lot of clients were asking for it.
Michael: And really fast, so when they get through that initial six-month planning relationship and they go into this ongoing retainer paid monthly, like, what do you charge for that? Is that also a three-tier fee like individuals, couples, business owners?
Brittney: Oh, yeah. Sorry about that. It is $150, $200 and $300, to match the original numbers I told you.
Michael: Okay. So, you know, relative to I think a lot of advisors, like those, are good-sized financial planning fees, both upfront and on an ongoing basis, right? One hundred and fifty a month is $1,800 a year, $200 a month is $2,400 a year. Like that's a healthy fee for kind of ongoing renewal financial planning. So can you talk a little bit about who you serve? Like, who do you work with that has the money to write those kinds of financial planning fees?
Brittney: Yeah. So most of our financial planning clients are women and couples, usually in their mid-30s, like, 30s to 40s. And the way I like to describe our ideal clients is that they're at this stage in their lives and career where they're making money, so they've had some traction, they have a little bit of a foundation and more established with what they're doing in terms of like career, and now they're looking at their financial life and thinking, "Oh, this is, like, the last part that I…you know, of my life that I need to, like, become an "adult" in. And I use that word "adult" because actually tell us that they want to do adulting in their financial life.
So, you know, for whatever reason, they've never really got a budget system in place or understood how their 401(k) or IRA account works, and that they have that cash flow to support some sort of savings and investment plan, and that's where they reach out and say, "Okay, now I want to get serious about this. I've kind of gone through my early years and maybe not made the most…a best use to my money and now I want to." So it's like that prime spot, usually 90% of our clients, first-time planning, first-time working with the financial planner. So it's like a great event.
Michael: So I love that label that they want to start "adulting" with…
Brittney: Isn't it funny? Yeah.
Brittney's Meeting Structure For Working With Clients [9:17]
Michael: …their finances. Yeah, I love the label and kind of that sort of framing. Well, I guess, let me ask. So what does that look like when you go through the six-month relationship then? Like, are you doing what I guess we would call comprehensive financial plans? Is this more education-oriented? Are you doing lots of meetings or just kind of like one or two meetings? What does that six-month process look like for the client?
Brittney: Yeah. So right now, what we do, and we've done this for a few years and it seems to be working well, we do three meetings in the first month, which is very standard, like in our financial planning model I would say, where we do the first call for free and then if we decide to work together then we have a data meeting, which is where we collect the financial data and talk about their goals and really help them define what those goals are. Then we come back for a strategy meeting, which is where we present the financial strategy and the budget and educate them on the options and recommendations. So by the third meeting, which is the implementation meeting, we're ready to take action. And that could mean opening up the bank account, an investment account, maybe rolling over accounts, getting them connected to an insurance broker to get a life insurance policy in place. So those three meetings we typically have within a month period just to get the plan up and running. And then from there, we have a three-month review and a six-month review meeting. And obviously we review their progress, talk about changes. And, like, that model seems to work well for the clients we're serving. So I…you know, we're always looking to refine and improve, but at this point, that's what works for our people.
Michael: So effectively, you end out spending five meetings worth of time, data, strategy, implementation, three-month review, six-month review? And those are…
Michael: …all kind of like an hour or two a piece kind of meetings?
Brittney: They're an hour. So usually, I mean, like how I kind of break it down is, yeah, five hours of meeting time. You know, like I've been a financial planner for 12 years now so a few hours of building a plan and budget, if that, then, like, access to me. And usually, that takes, you know, like a call here or there, answering emails, you know, another few hours. So I like to, for like an individual person, you know, how I kind of like quantify it in terms of hours, it's like about 10 hours or less of my time for that entire 6 months, which kind of works out for hourly rate.
Michael: Right. So you're kind of at a $250 an hour rate that moves up for clients with more complexity and more stuff going on. And I'm going to presume, like, when you're in deep with a business owner, some of those meetings might stretch a little longer or the work in between gets a little longer just because there is a little more complexity and stuff to deal with?
Brittney: Correct, exactly.
What Financial Planning Includes When There Isn't Necessarily A Portfolio To Manage [12:20]
Michael: So when you're working with folks in their 30s and 40s, like what kind of stuff are you covering for them? You know, a lot of us kind of gravitated towards a baby boomer world, lots of discussions about retirement planning and retirement projections, and liquidation strategies, and investment management discussions. You're not even managing investments. A lot of your clients are 20 or 30 years out from retirement. So when you talk about this five-meeting process, or even just like doing planning for them, what does planning mean to you or mean to your clients?
Brittney: So we set up a budget, and I have a custom budget tool that I've designed, and so clients get set up using that. Because most of our clients, to be honest, they're very smart and savvy individuals, but they are, like, very basic when it comes to their financial knowledge. And that's where a lot of it's…I think that's where the huge opportunity is because, you know, most people think, "Oh, you know, I'm going to go after all the baby boomers," but 90% of people still don't have a budget. They don't understand how to track their cash flow regardless of how much money they're making. So we teach them about budgeting. I even teach them about just like if they need to make more money or cut back in their expenses and change their mindset with money and they're like super stressed out all the time. You know, I try to help them with, like, other tools.
Michael: And I'm curious, how often…I know, at least from my own experience, one of the biggest blocking points in trying to have conversations with clients around budgeting and household cash flow is they have no clue where their money actually goes. I mean, I just know a lot of planners that, you know, their approach to budgeting is basically I take your income, which I know, I subtract the taxes that I know, I subtract the savings that I can see, and I assume you spend the rest because it's a closed system. And they don't even get into the details of where their cash flow is going because if you ask clients, they don't know, and if you ask them to find out then a lot of them just kind of stone-wall and put up a wall and don't do it or they don't want to deal with it because they know you're going to give them bad news.
So, like, are those just not challenges for your clients because by the time they seek you out they know they're going to have to be doing this, and if you want to be adulting with your finances, you have to figure out where your money is going? Like, is there kind of a self-selection process or are there things that you've figured out about how to actually have these kinds of cash flow conversations with people and not have them say, "Well, just I don't know where all the money goes, I don't track this stuff, that's why I'm paying you, right? You're going to tell me where my money goes?"
Brittney: Yeah, exactly. Well, I think that's part of our service. I mean, I'm very clear from the get-go. "Look, like, do you have a budget?" And most people say no. And then I say, "Okay, great. Well, one of the things we're going to do is where you're going to make a list. We have a list of all the expense categories, and you have to give me what…your average spend in these categories because that's what we're going to embed into the budget. And then from there, you're going to start tracking so that we confirm these numbers are the reality because we're going to set up savings goals based on that situation, and it's going to give us so much data." But I will tell you, I feel like my budgeting conversations are the biggest value that clients receive.
I mean, of course, I help them get their cash account set up and investment account set up and like all of that, but I think the day-to-day finances is so often overlooked, but that's where people struggle with the most. And actually, that's where they're going to get a lot of value if you spend time either helping them get the right system in place or teaching them because it's just one of those things most people just don't do it. And even if they have a budget, they're not looking at it. You know, it's like, "What's the whole point?"
Michael: Yeah, and…I mean, I think it's particularly a thing when you're working with folks that are still in their 30s and 40s, where, you know, careers are still growing, income is still growing, it's probably been growing pretty well for the…you know, the 5 or 10 years leading up to that point because that's kind of the big growth income years of your career. You know, by the time we see a lot of clients in their 50s and closing in on retirement, like, for better or worse, they've figured out some kind of system about how to manage their household cash flow. And the people that we tend to see as advisors came up with something that's decently good because that's what a lot of them save to accumulate the dollars to hire a planner to help them with their investment portfolio and the rest.
So I feel like we…a lot of us end out with sort of a subset of clients that they've figured out how to be at least reasonably responsible with their cash flow because that's what will let them get the wealth to come and hire us. You interact with them a little bit earlier, where it just kind of makes sense to me that, "Oh, here's actually reasonable systems to set up your cash flow and your budgeting in your household." It's like, "Oh, no one has ever told us that before. Like, this is amazing." And then they get really excited about that.
Brittney: Totally. Honestly, they get so excited about it. I love it. I really do.
Michael: And so are there particular kind of like systems that you like to use or tracking tools that you like to use, like…or is this just sort of Brittney School of Hard Knocks, "Here's what I've figured out how it works to manage your household cash flow, having seen lots of clients?"
Brittney: Yeah. I mean, we've developed our own system, so it's our own tracking tool. It's half manual, half automated. And that's basically Brittney's philosophy after being a financial planner for so long.
Michael: It's like something you created in like a spreadsheet or…
Brittney: Yeah, it's a spreadsheet. It's actually a Google Doc spreadsheet, so it updates in real time for the clients, and then we both have access to it. So on the review meetings, I'll usually, like, check in on it and we talk about it. Yeah, it's great. I mean, I just found it's pretty simple. It's not overly complicated, but my clients seriously love this thing. You know, I think as a woman too, to keep it…like, I don't know, I probably meant and women, but women, in particular, keep it simple. Like, we don't…you know, they don't really care about all these like extra tabs and formulas, and, you know, like just freaking keep it simple. And, you know, it works.
Michael: So what else? So clearly a lot around budgeting and cash flow, household finances. You even mentioned setting up cash accounts, so I guess for some people, like, are you a fan of, you know, couples who need a, you know, his, hers and joint kind of structure and you're setting up those sorts of accounts or what are you doing on the banking end?
Brittney: Yeah, definitely that. Help them set up high-yield savings account. So it really depends. I mean, if they have it already, if not, I help them do that.
Michael: And what else? You mentioned maybe if they don't have some insurance you're going to send them out for some life insurance. What else kind of comes up, or as part of this planning process when you're working with women in their 30s and 40s?
Brittney: So, yeah, like, the budget is huge, the cash accounts is huge, getting them the right insurance policies and then the investments, so getting them set up, you know, like either on a robo-advisor platform or Vanguard or something of that nature. I mean, sometimes they have accounts that are just fine, other times, most of the time they're not, so I present better solutions and help them actually get all of that implemented.
Michael: And do they actually…like, do you create a plan? I guess at least as other advisors, as we usually think about, right? Like, The Plan, capital T, capital P. It's a, you know, 20 to 40-page document with lots of output from planning software and some things that you add to it. Like, are you producing a plan in that style or is most of your focus just kind of these modular areas and you're writing just, "Here's a list of recommendations based on my expertise about what you need to do," but not all the rest of the thickness of The Plan?
Brittney: Yeah, it's definitely the later. I mean, of course, our financial planning software can produce a 50-page or more plan but I do financial strategies, which are more or less the cliff notes version, two to three pages of each category. "Net worth, here's what you need to know. Cash flow, here's what you need to know." And it's very simple and straightforward. And that's actually what we talk about, and I think it works, too, for the client.
Michael: So you may actually still end out with, like, I don't know, a dozen or 15 pages of those sort of 2 to 3 pages for each of multiple different areas and you stack them together?
Brittney: Oh, no, no, no, it's total.
Michael: Oh, total? Okay?
Brittney: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Honestly, it's like a paragraph per section.
Michael: Okay. And you don't get pushed back from clients over like, "I paid you $3,500, where's the rest of…where are the rest of the pages?"
Brittney: No, because I don't sell a financial plan, I sell my expertise and service. So, I mean, if you look, like, we're very…our whole marketing is geared and very niche, and those types of clients who maybe want. See, that's the thing. Like, our clients don't even want that. Like, that's what they're running from and, like, I'll tell you they come to me for me, not for the freaking plan. And, you know, every now and then there's a conversation around that, but I say, "Yeah, I mean, I could give you a plan, but what's the point? It's just going to sit on your shelf, you're not going to look at it, it's going to overwhelm you. So let's simplify it. So we actually do what we need to do and get the results you want." And, you know, I think when you promote results and benefits and service, the planning…the actual plan as a tangible product, never even comes into factor.
Michael: So at the point, you're talking so much about cash flow and budgeting, and bank accounts and the plan that you deliver is a couple of pages of written material, like do you even use traditional financial planning software at this point?
Brittney: I use Advizr, so I don't know if that's traditional.
Michael: Advizr, so A-D-V-I-Z-R.
Michael: Advizr. And what lead you to Advizr versus, you know, all the others out there, MoneyGuidePro and even eMoney Advisor and all of those sorts?
Brittney: It was simple and it's free because I'm an XYPN member.
Michael: Okay. Well, that works. That works. And I'm just curious. I mean, do you…are you using…I mean, just when you talk about the things that you're covering with people in a plan, are you actually using a financial planning software that much at this point?
Brittney: Yeah, we use it. I mean, I built the strategy from Advizr, but a lot of it is like also I can look at the situation and build a plan. I mean, I do use it for the retirement calculations because those are clearly a little bit more detailed than just a simple calculation, but actually…and we use Advizr too for…clients like it because then they put their like accounts and use the Document Vault and upload all their documents. So that's all part of the data meeting process as we send them the link to get their account set up so everything is secured in there. And then they don't have to keep asking. I will just say, like, "Go and upload it in the Vault." So it's nice for that purpose, too.
Michael: So that's kind of the upfront planning software, so can you tell us a little bit about the ongoing piece? Well, I guess I'm even just curious. So when people go through this $2,500 or $5,500 plan and it ends and then you switch to an ongoing retainer for ongoing planning, how many…like, do most of your clients just naturally say like, "Well, I've been working with you for the past 6 months, of course, I'm going to keep going," or do most of them come and say, "Hey, thanks for the stuff, now I feel like a financial adult," you know, peace out, drop mic and leave, and that's that and they're not into the monthly ongoing? Like, what do you find is sort of the conversion from one to the other?
Brittney: Yeah, it's a good question. Actually, that's one of our main focus over the past three months too. The way I see a business is like there's always an area you have to love on, and depending on the season like you're going to love on that area more than others. So last quarter I realized, "Oh, there is this huge opportunity for me to get more ongoing clients, I just really haven't put a lot of energy in doing. I noticed our conversion rate of, like, people who complete the six months to staying on as an ongoing client was relatively low. I would say like maybe 30%. So over the past quarter, I just put in some energy into that area and now it's like no-brainer, people are, "Yes, I'm going to do it." So I would say we've…now we're like 60%, 70%.
Michael: And what do you do for them for that ongoing monthly fee? Like, are you doing stuff for them every month because they pay every month? What does that look like for an ongoing service model?
Brittney: So we do quarterly review meetings. Some clients want monthly, so that is an option. Like a shorter monthly versus a quarterly, and then they have ongoing access to me. So it's just a matter of like sometimes clients, like, just want me there to email or call as they work on their finances. And that's actually a very popular service model. So it's not that hard to sell, I guess because most people are used to paying a monthly subscription these days to whatever. You know, we're like live in the Uber economy, everyone's like ordering, like paying for online things. So you kind of pitch it like, "Yeah, you need me, and I'm going to be here to answer all those questions instead of you struggling or letting it bother you for a week. Like, you just email me and I'll be right there to answer or help guide you. And we'll have these regular more formal review meetings to make sure you stay motivated and always know what you're working on financially speaking."
Michael: And what are you even covering in the quarterly reviews? Because I know for a lot of us, again, have our industry bias, most of us kind of build around portfolios and AUM model. So, like, "I know what a quarterly review is. We come with a quarterly statement and we talk about what's going on in the portfolio and then we cover other financial planning stuff and it's some blend of the two." You're not managing dollars. I don't even know how many clients' investments is a discussion on an ongoing basis. So, I mean, what are quarterly reviews for you? Like, what are talking about four times a year?
Brittney: There's always something to talk about. Budget, goals, you know, investment accounts. Sometimes it's like, "Oh, now we have this expense that came in, how are we going to work it through?" Or, "My income changed," or, "Now I got the bonus, now what do we do?" Or, "Taxes are coming up, how should I prepare?" I mean, there's…literally, you can talk about anything all day long. There's always something, but it's really personal to whatever that client's plan is. So that's where I bring a lot of service because I'll say, "Oh, Michael, you know, last time we met you did XYZ, let's check in on that." And then you'll say, "Great. Well, over the quarter, all these things changed." And then I'll say, "Perfect. Okay, let's address those changes. And then now your focus for the next three months should be XYZ." So it's kind of like I give people homework, and they love that because they know what they're focusing on and then it's not so overwhelming as well.
Michael: Interesting. And, like, how long do these take? Is this, you know, two-hour quarterly reviews times all of your clients and some of them even do that monthly or are they shorter than that? Like, what do meetings look like for you?
Brittney: Yeah, one hour. I really don't do anything over an hour. I think that's too long. People do not have an attention span for finances for longer than an hour.
Michael: And are they coming to your office to do that for an hour? Because I mean, I know you're in the LA area, so like an hour meeting can be more than an hour to get to and from the meeting, even with traffic in your area. So like are they coming in or is that not necessarily all in person, some of this is telephone or video or other things? Like, how do you do those meetings?
Brittney: Yeah, most of the times they're ongoing. All the review meetings are usually calls because I've already built a rapport with the client. Like, I try to do the first three meetings when people become a client in-person or if they don't live in LA, via Skype, just so we see each other. But then after that, really a call is fine. And people are used to that nowadays, too. Everything is, like, technology-based, so.
Michael: All right. And so what does this add up to you at this point? Like, how many clients are you working with? I guess I don't even know how you break them up. Do you look at like people we work with in a year that do a standalone plan and the number of clients you've got that are among ongoing retainer and your revenue is a blend of the two? Like, how do you count clients in this blend that some are standalone and then some are ongoing?
Brittney: Yeah, I mean, I feel like we're going to have to sort through that more, especially this year because I think, you know, literally, we're putting a lot more focus into it because our whole business foundation has been built now and now, like, I am…when I started this year, I was thinking, "Okay, how do I really scale this and double down on everything I've created," right? Because it takes a few years just to get created. So currently, we just have like an overall revenue goal for financial planning, and, you know, obviously some of…most of that comes from the initial six-month payment. But, like I said, what I'm trying to do is get more of that recurring ongoing amount up so that also that helps with just as a business monthly cash flow.
Michael: And are you willing to share? Like, what is that revenue goal? What are you aiming for? How many, you know, of these stand-alone plans are you trying to do in a year?
Brittney: Yeah, I mean, on average I would say from day 1, like, 30 to 40 is my average plans per year.
Michael: It's a lot of planning fees. Yeah, that's six figures of planning fees.
Brittney: Yeah, six figures, for sure. So we usually get about six figures. Like, just that six figures. For our planning fees, that's actually the goal this year. I wasn't crazy on growing that side of it. I'm actually more focused on growing the online products this year. But, yeah, my…the revenue goal entirely for all my models is $300,000 this year, so it's pretty do…I mean, we're on track for it because we were…we did, like, some…over $200,000 last year, so, again, the growth that I'm focused on for 2017 is actually not within the planning so much, although now I'm, like, kind of reconsidering that. Because again I'm like, "Oh, I could even beat my goal." But the growth for that would be coming from our products that we're developing. Yeah.
Michael: All right. And I want to come to more depth in those in a moment, but, you know, I feel like I have to ask the one other question that's probably lingering out there for at least a few folks that are listening of, you know, you're…like, you're giving people guidance on insurance and then they're going and buying a product from someone else who gets paid some commission because you can't really avoid the commissions for most insurance. You're steering them to an investment account because they're…you know, you were saying that robo-advisors or whatever. Why not get paid on the insurance or get paid on the investments? Why not do AUM or some blended model as opposed to just making it up front planning fees, ongoing planning fees?
Brittney: It's a good question. I've done it. I actually didn't…I implemented management fees through a robo-advisor called Betterment, and I really loved Betterment. I still love Betterment. I actually love robo-advisors in general and I recommend my clients to use them. For me, what I found was my business was picking off in other areas, brand partnerships and online products, that to have that component of investment management on top, it was getting hard. Like, it was just adding more complexity in terms of, "Okay, well clients pay the fee, then they wouldn't have to…like if they pay an investment fee then they wouldn't have the ongoing retainer fee because I'm getting fees from the other side." I mean, it was almost like making my life too hard. And as a business owner, I think the hardest thing is the focus and focus on what is really working well. And as much as Betterment was really easy, I think for me, I just felt cleaner with the fact that okay, I'm either going to say, "I'm a full investment manager," and take all my fees from Betterment or say, "I'm a full financial planner," and take all my fees from fee-only planning and call it a day. But to try to do both, it was causing more headache than I particularly wanted early in the year, so I decided to stop doing that service altogether.
Michael: Well, and I guess, you know when you've got it structured down to the way that you do, your…you know, your planning process is a series of five meetings with some of the behind the scenes work you do in between, so it's taking you about 10 hours. It's a plan that starts at $2,500, so, you know, you're getting $250 an hour, give or take a little for planning fees, which a pretty darn good hourly rate when you convert it into hourly and you're getting 30 or 40 clients through it. So I kind of get it of, like, "You know, hey, I'm already clearing worth of $100,000 of planning fees just getting paid for my time, like, it's working pretty well." And just on planning fees. And I guess over time I presume the projection is as…projection over time is, as the monthly retainer clients grow, that recurring revenue base grows anyway. So it just grows with retainer fees instead of AUM fees?
Brittney: Definitely, yeah. And, you know the cool part about it, I am one of these people, I can change my mind at any time. So I can decide to add that maybe back in, maybe I bring on…like what I'm doing right now is I'm bringing on an associate financial advisor just to help me with the planning side. So maybe, you know, six months from now, when I'm done focusing on the other sides of my business, I come back and I say, "You know what? I'm actually ready to relaunch that side and I'm going to bring on somebody in the company to help me do it." Because, you know, that's part of it. And like, my time…you know, time is also very important. And I have to look at what's bringing me the most value for my time and go accordingly.
Brittney's Digital Marketing Strategies To Attract Her Ideal Clients [35:59]
Michael: So where do you find 30 or 40 new clients every year that are a willing to pay a couple of thousand dollars in financial planning fees? Like, how do you bring those kinds of clients in?
Brittney: Honestly, our website. So, I mean, it's the inbound marketing that I created with all my branding and social media. We do get referrals, don't get me wrong. And I still do networking because I, you know, have a few groups and people that I like to connect with and, you know, I get business that way. But I would say majority of our clients find us through Google. And it's not just that.
Michael: So, I mean, what are they…I mean, like, what are they googling that…I mean, what are they googling that they find you?
Brittney: They're googling "financial planner in LA." Like, "woman financial planner." But honestly, Michael, it's the hard work. I put in years of creating content. My content is everywhere. I have a lot of social media, so people organically will see my stuff on entrepreneur or, you know, whatever, whatever I'm doing. My blog, this, that, and they come through that. But also, they are searching straight from Google. They'll usually just search like "woman financial planner in LA," but most of the time it's from something they've heard me on or seen me on, or read something by me. You know, that really brings in the leads.
Michael: And so are you just a natural, a writer that it's comfortable to do that kind of content marketing writing stuff and getting them into magazines?
Brittney: I'm not a natural writer, for sure. I've learned it, and I wouldn't even say I'm good at it. There's a funny story. I mean, we recently have been changing our whole marketing and making it a lot more real and fun and pushing the boundaries even more with our content. And we happened to, like, misspell a word in the one of…it was supposed to "emotional shift" and the word came out like imanationship, and my marketing director was like, "What does this word mean?" And the email had already gone out. And I was like, "I don't know. I thought that was, like, a cool word that you used for…"
Michael: Like, you're doing, like, a Shakespeare thing. Like you just make up a word and then everybody figures out what it is and contacts you.
Brittney: Yeah, and she goes, "No, Britt that was a typo." And I go, "What? You're telling me, like, I know this stuff. I'm the worst at grammar. I'm the worst at…like I don't know." And we were laughing. Because the funny part is people actually answered that question like nothing.
Michael: They just…they rolled with it. They figured out the meaning.
Brittney: Yeah. So I'm definitely not, like…I mean, I've learned to write. I do oversee a lot of content and the direction of it but I have a copywriter who writes the emails every week now, which is amazing. She is fabulous at it. Way better than I could ever be. And it helps us bring the whole marketing strategy to a whole…you know, a new level. It's all about, like, once you build it, constantly improving it and making it better, and refining it, and getting people to take action ultimately.
Michael: Well, I think it's fascinating just the point. Like, you've got a copywriter that helps you write your weekly emails. I would estimate most advisors, to the extent they produce any kind of content for their clients, it's a newsletter once a quarter.
Brittney: Yeah. That's not going to work. I mean, if you want…See, that's the thing. I mean, you have to just be clear about what your goals are. If your goal is just to stay in touch with your existing clients and not grow whatsoever then I guess quarterly would work. But even that, I would feel like your clients still would love to see an email from you at least monthly. Just with like an update or some sort of educational piece. You know, people actually would like to see what your firm is up to. So even if it's nothing related to helping them with their finances, just to get updated in terms of what you're doing with your business is always exciting. I mean, that's just the world we live in.
Michael: They're in a relationship with you, right?
Brittney: Totally. You're their financial planner. I mean, my dentist sends me, "Oh my God," emails. You know what I mean? So, yeah, you've got to do it.
Michael: And I know a lot of advisors that have had this experience where, you know, they produce, you know, quarterly newsletters or something for their clients and they, you know, add a section in there just like, "Hey, here's an update of the firm." And it's like, "You know, one of our employees took a trip to Rome and, like, here's a picture of her on a trip to Rome. And one of our advisors, you know, their kids just made the all-stars and literally and whatever." So, like, they put all their energy into this great, like, financial planning or investment analysis commentary and then they throw this paragraph on at the end of the newsletter. And then they find out, like, 90% of the responses they get from their clients is about the paragraph at the end about them, and nobody actually read all the investment stuff and the financial planning stuff they wrote. Like, they just want to kind of connect with the advisor and the firm not actually all the technical stuff that sometimes we send out.
Brittney: Yeah. It's so true.
Michael: So what else have you found that works from the, like, the website and the digital marketing, and the social media? Like, I see you out there all over the place. I know, you know, a bunch of the publications I've recognized you for being highly social financial advisors. Like, as someone that's done this, I'm sure you've had your share of finding what works and finding what doesn't work. So what works for you, or what doesn't work for you down to actually driving results? Like, getting people who will pay money for a plan?
Brittney: Yeah. And I'm just trying to keep up with you, Michael on all these words, social media. So currently, what works? Our model is working. We've built the marketing machine and what that is is we're posting all the time on social media, Facebook, Twitter. I have a YouTube video that converts into a blog and email that goes out once a week just to build content and…oh, I'm sorry, build engagement with our community. I do a lot of podcasts, calls, workshops, you know, videos. With partners, I feel like have the same clientele I'm going after, so clearly women in their 30s and 40s.
Michael: So that's still like…I mean, would you characterize this as a niche, this is your niche, women in their 30s and 40s or do you even define for like professional women in their 30s and 40s, or not necessarily that way?
Brittney: Yeah. I mean, we usually say professional but most of them are. I mean, at this point, yeah.
Michael: Well, if you're not, probably not in some kind of professional services job, you may find $3,000 to $5,000 planning fees in your 30s or 40s to be expensive, unless you're making a decent income at a professional services job. I guess they kind of convince themselves at some point.
Brittney: Exactly. And that was actually one reason why we created the Money Class, which is a lower price point, and I'm continuing to create more products is because if those people could come to us, which they still do come to us, and they're not ready to pay for the fee, we have other options for them to get started with our brand, our messaging, my style, and then when, you know, maybe they take, like, an online course from me or read my book or whatever, then they'll come back for the planning once they're ready for the more in-depth, you know, relationship. So it's just building out the services to fit with my ideal clients' want and need, and a lot of it has just been experience and listening to what they need and what they want, and just, you know, testing the waters. And you just kind of figure it out.
And, like, I'm just a big believer with…I love marketing, that's why you'll see I spend a lot of time marketing because I can be the best financial planner out there, but if I don't have any clients, like well, who cares? And at the end of the day it's a business, so I've got to make money, you know. So I've just learned, you know, always be marketing. Like, I don't stop, I never stop marketing. Even when I take a break from social media and I don't do as many like Instagram stories, we still have all these other things happening.
How Brittney Found Business Success By Using Independent Contractors [44:22]
Michael: So is it expensive to get all of this help with social media and writing weekly emails and all the rest? Like, do you have just a larger marketing budget than most other advisors to be doing all this stuff?
Brittney: I don't know. Well, the thing is I've…I'm also different. Like, I don't have overhead, like I don't have a full-time office space, so I have a WeWork office space that I book for…
Michael: So the co-working space?
Brittney: Exactly. So, you know, it's a lower monthly fee because I only book it when I am seeing clients, so I don't have it full-time, I work from home. I don't have any employees. All the people that work for my team are like independent contractors, meaning they have other clients that they are serving or other jobs that they do. And that actually has served me and my model very well. I did have employees in the beginning and it did not work because I realized I didn't need like a full-time person to do one job, I need multiple people to do very specific jobs, so why, like, pay them beyond that specialty? So I have someone who literally just does social media, someone who literally just writes my emails, someone who literally just takes, you know, calls with clients. And it's very segmented.
Michael: And so these are all, like, $10 or $15, $20 an hour kinds of folks or $30 or $40 or $50 an hour? Like, what is the cost to get, you know, someone to write your emails and someone to do your social media and all the rest?
Brittney: Yeah, I mean, it's different for everybody. Okay, so I pay people via retainers, so monthlies.
Michael: Okay. You run on retainers so you pay them on retainers. It's kind of makes sense.
Brittney: You know, it's like simplicity. Yeah, I mean, the more simplified I can make this business, the more I enjoy my life. So, like, usually, you know, anywhere from like $500 a month to $2,000 a month. So it's kind of like if I added them all up, it's one full-time person. I've just divided it, like, three or four ways.
Michael: And how do you find them? Is this all networking through colleagues or, like, do you find them online and, you know, Google "copywriter for monthly advisor" or "weekly advisor newsletter?" Like, how do you track down all these different piecemeal people to do all the different things?
Brittney: Yeah, definitely just asking around. You know what I'll say, though, is the genius thing that I do in all areas of my life, I create an ideal avatar. So when I first said, "Oh, I want a social…" Okay, I'll tell you an example. Earlier in the year, I said, "I'm going to divide out. So no longer am I going to have my one person do social media and email marketing" because I realized they're two completely different skill sets and it's very difficult for one person to do both. So what I did is I…like, I did everything else. I write out the ideal person for the social media role and the ideal person for the marketing role, and then kind of how the universe works, you know, you ask around, say, "I'm looking for this." You get introduced to people. You talk to them and then after two or three, one is the perfect fit.
And the way that I always…you know, I always look for experience. I look for somebody who's attached to my mission, which is, like, they have to be interested in women and money, and wanting to help empower women. But ultimately, I look for energy and personality. Because I also think I can get them what they need if they need to learn more skills. But it's all about that. Like, you can have…you know what I mean. It's all…I want only dream team. Like, I have my dream team now, but I worked hard to get that and, you know, I've gone through people that didn't work out and I fire them, or if it was no longer a good fit, we've outgrown each other. But now really, it's pretty cool. I mean, I really have the dream team. Like, my best friend actually is the marketing girl who writes my email. So, like, it doesn't get any better than that.
Michael: Yeah. And we had Caleb Brown from New Planner Recruiting on the podcast recently for episode 31, so kitces.com/31 if anyone wants to go back and listen. And, you know, around the hiring process, they do all hiring for associate planners and paraplanners and firms. And Caleb kind of made the same comment that at the end of the day the primary thing they actually screen for is attitude. You know, the effort, passion. Like, you know, one of the biggest things that he uses to evaluate candidates in the process is actually with how much focus and favor and effort they pursue the recruiting and job application process, because if…you know, if they can't even take applying for the job seriously, how seriously do you think they're going to take the job itself? Whereas, you know, a lot of the skill stuff, like if you get someone who's passionate about the business and what you do and is excited about the mission you're pursuing, you can teach a lot of the skills as long as they've got a decent head on their shoulders. But you can't teach energy and enthusiasm.
Brittney: Totally. I love Caleb. And it's spot on, and I think it's just also too at the end of the day who you want to be working with. Like, you don't want to…you know.
Michael: You're spending a lot of time with them, you better like them.
Brittney: Yeah. You've got to email these people, you've got to talk to them. Like, pick someone you enjoy. There's people out there. You'll have to weed through a few to find them, but you'll find it.
How Brittney Built Her Highly Scalable Online Course [49:51]
Michael: So let's shift a little and talk about your online products. You've mentioned this a couple of times as being a large and growing piece of your revenue. And, you know, I think you've got to break this down pretty simply for us. So I think for somewhere around 99.8% of advisors, like, we've no idea what you're talking about when you say online products. Like, I know insurance and investments are getting paid for planning, like, when you say online products, what are we talking about here?
Brittney: Yeah. So, basically, it's a course. Like I just like to say like Rosetta Stone, right? Teaches language, same thing. All I did was make it for money and specifically for women in my ideal segment, which is those women in their 30s and 40s, to teach them money management in a format beyond just reading a book or a blog. So it's webinar-based. They buy this course, they have online access to this obviously members only website. They get the curriculum, they get the worksheets. I mean, it's a whole built-out curriculum. But that works because a lot of people just want something that is more elaborate like that but maybe, you know, they'll do it themselves…you know, do it yourself first. So they're fine taking a course to learn more and applying the principles directly to their own financial life. And it's at a price point that's lower than just working me one-on-one. And as a business owner, that's a way to scale our knowledge, to teach people what we know and use the internet to reach, you know, the potentially 7 billion other, or maybe 8 billion other people in the world. There's just huge opportunity. That's kind of how most of the people are going these days.
Michael: So how long is the course? Or, like, what do you get exactly when you buy this? You're kind of getting like, "We're going to teach you about money management," or like I sit in front of a webinar for an hour or I sit in front of like, two webinars that are 30 minutes each, or, I like end out with some webinars. I mean, what do I get inside the Money Class?
Brittney: So basically it's a six-week course. They get three webinars that are about 30 minutes or less per week, and they have lifetime access to it. Actually, if you just go fwwmoneyclass.com you can see everything that's included in this course. It's very detailed.
Michael: Okay, www.moneyclass.com?
Michael: Okay. And we'll put a link to that in the show notes as well. So if you to kitces.com/32 for episode 32, we'll have links out both to Brittney's Financially Wise Women website and then also her Money Class so you can take a lot at this. So, like, as the buyer I get a couple of webinars a week that are 30 minutes or less, so you're kind of…yeah, I guess you're incrementally teaching me money management skills and I go through 6 weeks and I've accumulatively gotten like…I guess by then, like, 8 or 9 hours worth of cumulative content that's taught me about money management?
Brittney: Yes, exactly. I love the way your brain thinks. You've got to break it down an hour.
Michael: You've got to break it down.
Brittney: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Michael: I times money, right? We were just talking about it. So what does someone pay for this? Like, what do you charge? What will people buy?
Brittney: So this is where we're spending a lot of time on this year like I mentioned, because there's a whole online strategy that once you learn and get the formula right, it will work for you and your industry. We charge $497 for this online course.
Michael: Meaning $497?
Brittney: Correct. And that works. People buy it.
Michael: That's not cheap.
Brittney: Yeah. No.
Michael: Four hundred and ninety-seven dollars for a course, like, that…I mean, that's…it's a good-sized chunk of money.
Brittney: Yeah. So I think the reason is one, I don't want to devalue my expertise and my work, but also I want to make sure people are committed. But we are creating, so like, for example, I'm creating a product for $197 and then, like, even $97 products. So we'll have levels so then people could choose the level or like add-on. You know, maybe they get the first course for this much and then they take the…you know the more advanced courses.
Michael: So what's in the…like what are you envisioning is in the $197 course? Is this just, "Hey, you know, you can get all 6 weeks for $497 or just 2 weeks for $197 and we'll just give you the first 2 weeks' modules?"
Brittney: Oh cool.
Michael: Is it that kind of that breakdown or?
Brittney: I like the way you think. No, it's a whole another product. It's going to be all about investing for women. Tune back in the fall 2017 when this is released and you'll see more of the specifics. We are literally in creation mode so I can tell you here but I prefer when it's done because…
Michael: Okay. That's okay.
Brittney: …it's subject to change. You know what I mean? We change our minds a million times before something comes to…come to market.
Michael: It's still in the entrepreneurial creation so I understand how that goes. So $497 for a course for the series of videos, so, I mean, how long did it take you to put all of them together? I mean, obviously recording eight or nine hours of video takes at least eight or nine hours to make the video but there's…you've got to figure out what you're going to say and what you're going to deliver and all the rest. So I'm going to assume it takes way more than eight hours to make eight hours worth of video. I mean, how long did it take you to put all of these together?
Brittney: Okay. So I did it in 2014. I've actually taught workshops on this. So when I originally did it, it took like a year just to research, you know, and learn, "What am I going to do? What's my, like, version of this course going to look like? So I actually bought other people's online courses, nothing to do with finance, but I studied, I, like, taught myself. And then probably a good three months of my time just to build it. So once I knew the idea, you know, I blocked out, you know, time every week for three months to build it. And I would say probably, you know, like 40 to 50 hours total to go through start to finish. Film it, build it, you know, get someone to build the website, build all the backend. And then it was like $3,000 total, I think, in the beginning.
Michael: That's it. Like, I mean, for like, for making the website and all the backend, $3,000?
Brittney: Yeah. I don't know how it was that cheap because then…
Michael: I mean, that seems really inexpensive…
Brittney: I know, Michael.
Michael: …for making all of that content and all the rest.
Brittney: How come it's costing me so much now? I don't know.
Michael: Yeah. Well, that's a great thing, right? When you're an entrepreneur, like, you always cut it really lean the first time you make something because you've got no money in revenue yet, and then when you go back and you have some success and you make the next one…
Brittney: Then you've got better people
Michael: …the next one is always exponentially more expensive because now you hire more expensive people and...
Brittney: I'm like, "Wait, something is wrong here." Yeah, so, I mean, look, we've sold…Let me…I was just doing this earlier. We've sold probably over the course of 3 years, so it's '14, '15, '16, well it's almost 4 years old, like 3 and a half years old, 200. So it's about 100 grand, I would say, in revenue total. So what I'm trying to do…
Michael: For something that you made once at 40 or 50 hours. Like big time investment up front, obviously, but, you know, you start doing the math and like, yeah, so 50 hours in upfront and then make 100 grand. Like, you made $2,000 an hour for the time it took you to make the course? Like that's pretty good ROI for the time of making that course.
Brittney: Yeah. But you know what? I take that back because I also did spend more money in the second….no, last year, third year, to relaunch it, so maybe like…
Michael: For more marketing?
Brittney: So maybe like…no, wait, like $5,000 last year. So, yeah, maybe under $10,000 to make it, but still good ROI, okay?
Michael: Yeah, so clear $98,000.
Brittney: Now you know why my focus is over there because clearly…
Michael: Right, very, very scalable for your time.
Brittney: Yeah. And clearly, people buy it…bought it. So their formula, like now it's we've…I've studied even more. See, you know, I'm always studying, "How do I make this thing better? How do I sell it?" Try things. I've failed many times with like marketing efforts, "Oh, we'll do it this way or that way," and it didn't work. So, you know, my goal is to get like 100 people buying it in any given year. And then now that I know how to do it, I want to create something that's a lower price point. So, like I said, you know, if I build something that's $97 but get a thousand people to buy that, you know, and now it won't probably take me as long because I've already gone through that initial learning curve of fumbling and messing up for 3 years. Yeah.
Michael: And how do people…I mean, like how do you market it and get the word out for people to buy this…just kind of this reality because you are doing so much marketing for the core business that there's some subset of people that go to your website, "Hey, I heard about Brittney, she's really cool. Oh my God, she cost $3,500 for the two of us. I can't afford that. Oh, she's got a $497 course, let's do that." And, like, they just…if they can't afford your planning fee, they offer out themselves over to your Money Class or do you market that and try to sell that entirely separately as its own thing?
Brittney: Yeah. It's both, but I will tell you, we stopped really promoting. So when people come to us for financial planning, we really noticed it's hard to convert them to want a course, even if they couldn't afford the planning. So that's why we started sort of thinking about other media. We just offer hourly consulting or something. So it's a whole separate marketing strategy that we're building in the next few months to promote it strictly online using different techniques in what we're doing to market the financial planning.
Michael: And does it go the other direction? Like do you get people that do the course and then say, "Hey, I need even more help with this. Can I hire you to be my financial planner?"
Brittney: Yes. And that's worked, too, not a lot, but a handful. So, you know, it's all the marketing funnel, if you know that word. Yeah.
Michael: But I guess the core for you is not, 'This is lead gen for financial planning clients." The core is, "I want to make $100,000 on the courses, karma, and if a couple of people end out upselling into the full financial planning as well, awesome, then I'll go deep in the relationship with them."
Michael: And is there some platform that you build? Like I know there's lots of courses, platforms out there. I have to imagine you've tried a few, having iterated on this a bit, so do you use some standard course platform out there or did you just make your own thing in a website? Like what do you actually use to deliver the content?
Brittney: God. I'm just trying to remember. We have a specific website that we built for the course. There is also specific members only platform. What is it called? Shoot, I should have remembered this. WishList, that's what it is.
Michael: Oh, yes, WishList Member. Yes.
Brittney: WishList. WishList Member.
Michael: That's an extension of…that's a plugin for…
Brittney: Yep. So it's on a WordPress but the WishList is something to do with monitoring the members only. And then that's embedded into our e-commerce, which is through Infusionsoft.
Michael: Okay, e-commerce through Infusionsoft. Yeah, Infusionsoft, we use it as well for...
Brittney: Oh, we love it.
Michael: Yeah, for the Nerd's Eye View platform. Although I have to admit, I feel like it's gotten a little bit dated. Like I don't regret that I built on Infusionsoft, but I have to admit, as I look out there today, I don't know if I was starting today if I would still build on Infusionsoft when there is, you know, like, competitors like ConvertKit and others that have come along more recently that just…
Brittney: Don't tell me. I can't.
Michael: Oh, sorry. I'm trying like…I'm just trying to wave a shiny object in front of an entrepreneur.
Brittney: Oh, don't do it. No, I'm focused. I'm focused.
How Brittney Gets Paid For Professional Speaking Engagements [1:02:09]
Michael: You're focused. So talk to us a little bit about the third pillar. You mentioned speaking and corporate partnership, so I get speaking and paid speaking, well, I guess particularly for me because that's one of my pillars for business as well, but corporate partnerships is not usually the kind of thing you hear from financial advisors, so can you talk to us a little about this third pillar and how you see it fitting in?
Brittney: Yeah. So I guess, you know, brand partnerships, corporate partnerships. I started charging from speaking, well, actually since day one. When I started the company I was doing consulting for other firms. Like one was just this entrepreneur startup firm and they wanted content, video content around finance, so I was more or less a consultant for them. Then I got hired by another financial firm to help them do what I did in terms of marketing. And then a few years ago I really started to step up my speaking game and charged for speaking services. And then I started studying. See, I always start with a study. I see what's out there and I learn. I started studying influencer marketing and I realized there's a lot of brands these days who, instead of like spending all their money on a commercial, they'll just go straight to an influencer, pay them to represent their brand to their people because their people are loyal and listen to what, you know, you have to say or I have to say. So I set myself up for that kind of service to come in and now I'm partnered with Chase as like…I guess like a financial education ambassador is what it's called, but I kind of see that as like a corporate partnership. Yeah. And there's a few other ones but that one is, like, the main one.
Michael: And, I mean, how do they even structure that? Like, you get paid certain dollars to do like appearances or just they pay you like X dollars a year and you're just supposed to mention Chase a lot? Like, I mean, what does that kind of partnership actually look like? Like, what do they pay for and what do you actually have to do for them?
Brittney: Yeah, I would say this is probably for less than 5% of the financial planning industry because not everybody wants this type of job or a role. I did. I was very specific. So it's a talent agreement.
Michael: I mean, do you have to already have an audience in order for it to be relevant as well?
Brittney: Oh, yeah. They're not going to hire you. They won't pay you if you don't have a name. But, yeah, it's basically I'm talent for them, and so it's almost more or less a talent agreement, which in LA is very common. So I think I just I'm around it all the time and I saw the opportunity for it. But basically it's more or less like, "Here's a contract for a year, here's what you've got to do, here's what we're going to pay you."
Michael: And what kinds of things do they want you to do? I mean, is it just a bunch of Chase name-dropping or more structured about what you're actually expected to do for them and accountable for?
Brittney: Yeah, I mean, it's like speak at a few of the events, post on social with their campaigns. But it's all about financial literacy, which is why the partnership worked. I actually was approached by a handful of other brands that I said no to because it wasn't in alignment with me or my advice, or what I would normally do. And I said no because I have…I don't know. I'm also like I have integrity, I have planning. I'm not just selling out. I really only want to work with people who speak the same language I do.
Michael: So do you feel like there's any conflict or perceived conflict of, "You know, I'm a fee-only financial planner, but I'm also in a corporate partnership with a financial institution?" Like, does that feel like a conflict or just you view them entirely separate and in unrelated channels because it's not an insurance industry product?
Brittney: No, they're actually in two different business. Yeah, it's not at all. And I'm not necessarily representing any product, I just really teach about financial planning principles.
Michael: Because it's literacy-oriented not Chase-product oriented?
Michael: Okay. What do you try to add this pillar of like is it meant to be roughly even with the others? Like, are you trying to also generate $100,000 through speaking and corporate partnerships in revenue for this?
Brittney: Actually more because it's more lucrative than that. Yeah, we'll see. I mean, this year I've already hit the goal, so I don't know. That's why it's certainly an interesting time. It's a great time. I kind of came up to, a few months ago, and realized, "Oh, I better think hard about expanding because I can do it now based on what I've done." And I was kind of…I basically built the model to get to where I am now, but now I'm, like, way more open to growing it. Yeah, you know what I mean. Like, it's like, "Oh, there is more opportunity than I even knew about."
Michael: So how do you characterize your business model at this point? Like you've kind of got these three pieces. There is Brittney Castro the advisor. You charge planning fees and ongoing fees for financial planning advice, with, you know, $100,000-plus of revenue, there is this online products component with the Money Class that you're trying to build up to do $100,000 revenue in a year, then you've got speaking and corporate partnerships, where you're already doing more than $100,000 in a year. Like, do you think of yourself as financial advisor spanning all of these and these are just different ways you do financial advising or do you, like, view your business model as something different with financial advising just one of the things you do and then you do this other stuff too?
Brittney: Yeah. Well, I kind of…I think I started the call with it. Like I really define my business as a financial planning and education company, and we have three pillars. And this is what we do. This is our services. They all complement each other, it all works for me. It's not for everybody. I will tell you that, like my business, I've built for me. So I think it's great to like listen to other people's success and get inspired by it, but at the same time like I picked and chose what works for me from other people's services and platforms I was seeing. And what works for me would not work for, you know, other advisors. And that's okay. There is more than one way to do it, but, yeah, I like to be unique in that sense.
How Brittney Structures Her Schedule To Manage Her Obligations Across Multiple Business Lines [1:08:26]
Michael: Okay. So as we come up towards the end here, I've got kind of two final questions. One, I'm just wondering, with all these different pieces and the advisory clients and time to build new online products, and speaking, and corporate partnerships, and you've got to go out to do a Chase thing, like what does a typical week look like for you at this point? Like is there a routine or a structure to this or you just kind of toss in different directions from day-to-day and week-to-week? Like, what does a week in Brittney's life look like at this point?
Brittney: Probably nowhere near as crazy as yours Michael. You have more roles than I do.
Michael: I don't know. You've got a lot of stuff going on here.
Brittney: I know. You know, I have a great team and I have great time management skills. I've learned…I knew that was a natural skill set of mine years ago with my color-coordinated calendars in junior high.
Brittney: Yeah. Honestly, a lot of just time management skills. And Mondays are usually…Mondays and Thursdays are usually when I'm doing like…in the office. Emails, overseeing my team, team calls, client case work, stuff like this, podcast interviews, right? Written stuff. Tuesdays and Wednesdays is usually when I see clients, and Fridays is usually like client overflow or like if I have to see…you know, I call them centers of influences. So I try to keep at least two days out of a week where I'm not like on the go between meetings but when speaking comes up or my partnerships comes up, sometimes, you know, your whole week is different and you could just sort it out.
Michael: So do you ever get pushback? I mean, I feel like most of us, you know, you see the client whenever the client can be seen and, you know, there's five days in a week and you do it five days a week and sometimes you do weekends if you have to. So, like, you do your client meetings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and do you get a lot of pushback from people? Like, "Well, sorry, Brittney, I'd like to meet with you on Thursday next week?"
Michael: Just no?
Brittney: I don't.
Michael: And they accept that. Like, that's not a deal-breaker.
Brittney: Yeah. I mean, they'll ask, "Do you meet on Thursdays or weekends sometimes?" I'm like, "No, I don't. These are my hours." Because I always think about it too. And I had to learn. Like I didn't always do that. I got very clear about how I wanted my business to look. But look I have a doctor or people I see and they're like, "Okay, she sees patients XYZ. What works for you?" And you figure it out and you get there. And I think that's how I just developed the business four and a half years ago. I was like, "This is how I want my business model week to look like and this is how we're going to pitch it to clients. And they'll make it work.
Michael: So, as we wrap up, this is a show about success, and one of the themes that we always talk about is that success means different things to different people. And so you certainly have a successful business and one that looks very different than I think most advisors, with these three pillars, but, you know, collectively adding up to upwards of $300,000 of revenue is a goal you're already clearing this year. So as you look forward about where your growth and your opportunity is from here, I'm wondering how do you define success at this point?
Brittney: Yeah, my definition of success is actually to live a very happy and fulfilled life, you know, with a lot of laughter, fun, obviously money and, you know, but do good work. So I'm…at this stage in my life and career, I'm less focused on awards or recognition, or even just straight up monetary, you know, rewards. I do love money and I'll definitely want to make my business more profitable, of course, but, you know, you kind of get to a point where you're like, "Great, I've gotten a lot of rewards. You know, I'm recognized, I have the credibility." So it's a cool spot. Honestly, I'm really enjoying this time in my life and my career because I'll tell you right now, with our product creation, I'm more concerned about making an amazing product that's really going to help people, versus, "I've got to do this because I need revenue," which is a good spot to be in because I think ultimately, that's going to only bring more money because the intention is so all about service and value and giving, which you know if you do that in life, it only comes back to you.
Michael: Well, amen. Well, thank you for coming and joining us and hanging out on the podcast…
Brittney: Thanks, Michael.
Michael: …and sharing a very cool story.
Brittney: I love you and your work and anytime. It's been a pleasure.
Michael: Well, thank you. I appreciate it and I'm excited to share this story out with all of our listeners.
Brittney: Yeah, thank you for having me.
Michael: Absolutely. Thank you.
I’ve always wondered about Britteny and her business model. It’s amazing to me how many ways there are to structure a business in our industry. I’m impressed by how she has really developed and executed her marketing plan, something often overlooked. Thanks so much for another excellent interview.
Jenna VanLeeuwen says
How does this Corporate Partnership work in a fee only environment? Very interesting, but it makes me think of affiliate marketing which I think is in a gray area but is generally considered to no longer be fee only. It’s not a specific product but it’s still a brand.
Fantastic interview! Great job Michael at asking all the right questions to really get a sense of how Brittney runs a smooth, profitable business.
Meg Bartelt says
“Peace out. Drop mic. And leave.” Gave me a chortle, Michael.
Josh S says
Meg, I thought the EXACT thing! Ole Man Kitces saying “Peace Out” had me cracking up!
Josh S says
Michael you ALWAYS ask the questions I have in my head when it comes to these interviews. It’s amazing actually. But the only question I had that you didn’t ask was why the $497, $197 and $97 or something like that? Alan Moore interviewed Helen Ngo and she had similar pricing schedule with a $x97. Any specifics behind that number that you’re aware?
Michael Kitces says
There is a pop psychology theory that prices ending with $7 convert better (i.e., $397 is better than $399… I guess because $399 is too obviously close to $400!?).
I say “pop psychology” because I’ve seen the viewpoint cited in some consumer articles, but never actually any study (that I can find) that validates it. So I don’t know if it’s a legitimately true “trick”, or just a myth, but it seems to persist nonetheless!
PS- XYPN’s pricing is $397/month because Alan heard the same thing. #TrueStory 🙂