Welcome back to the 232nd episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!
My guest on today’s podcast is Jamie Bosse. Jamie is a financial planner at Aspyre Wealth Partners, an RIA in Overland Park, Kansas that manages just under $500m in assets for 275 families.
What’s unique about Jamie, though, is how she’s been able to balance her own responsibilities within a firm that serves affluent clients, with writing a series of children’s books on personal finance and a soon-to-be-published “grown-up” book addressing many of the money issues that young parents face, as she crafts her own personal brand as the “Money Boss Mom”.
In this episode, we talk in depth about how Jamie found that creating content for Aspyre that spoke about financial decisions and issues she was making as a parent resonated with (and began to attract) a younger client base, how a “teachable moment” with her son was the inspiration for her first children’s book, “Milton Brings Home The Bacon”, the mechanics of the publishing process that Jamie had to navigate to bring that book to life, and how Jamie has found that the value of being a published author isn’t in book sales per se, but rather the goodwill that having a book brings to herself as a planner, as well as to the firm she works for, which benefits from the additional reach that Jamie’s brand can bring.
We also talk about how Aspyre charges both an AUM fee as well as a separate financial planning fee for their more ‘traditional’ clients (and how they think about the value they bring to the table when the all-in fee can approach 150 basis points), Jamie’s role in expanding the service model of Aspyre to serve next-generation clients that Jamie has been able to help attract to the firm, the subscription fee business model the firm implemented and the technology it's using to make next-generation client meetings more efficient, and how Aspyre has been testing out a surge meeting structure in order to create space to work on bigger picture projects within the firm (as well as the challenges that they’ve faced as they learn how to make surge meetings work for them).
And be sure to listen to the end, where Jamie shares how her own career journey, from starting at a firm that ended out being too small, to working at a bank that was too big, before settling in at a mid-sized RIA that was ‘just right’, mirrors the career progression of so many young planners as they find their right fit over the span of three career jumps in their early years, the lessons Jamie has learned around the importance of maintaining professional relationships and not burning bridges (because the financial advisor community isn’t all that large, and you never know who you’ll run into later in your career), and why Jamie feels it’s so important for younger planners to get involved in the advisor community as a way not only to give back to the profession, but to stay connected as well.
So whether you're interested in learning about how Jamie balances her personal brand as an author with her responsibilities within her firm, the process she uses to publish her books, or how she helped broaden the focus of her firm to be able to serve next-generation clients effectively, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, with Jamie Bosse.
What You’ll Learn In This Podcast Episode
- Aspyre Wealth Partners’ Fee Models And Jamie’s Role Within The Firm [04:42]
- The Planning Services That Aspyre Provides For Their Clients [14:44]
- How Aspyre Has Implemented Surge Meetings And How They’re Adapting The Model To Fit Their Needs [21:02]
- How Jamie And Aspyre Expanded Their Client Base To Include Next-Gen Clients [37:51]
- How Jamie Started To Develop Her Audience And Personal Brand [42:42]
- How Jamie Made Her Children’s Book Happen [48:39]
- The Benefits Of Being An Author And Jamie’s Vision For Herself As A Writer [55:27]
- What Surprised Jamie The Most About Building Her Career As A Financial Advisor [01:01:07]
- The Low Point For Jamie In Her Journey And What She Knows Now That She Wishes She Knew When She Was Younger [01:09:23]
- The Advice Jamie Would Give To Newer Advisors And What She’s Working On Now [01:13:41]
- What Success Means To Jamie [01:26:40]
Resources Featured In This Episode:
- Jamie Bosse
- Aspyre Wealth Partners
- Milton the Money Savvy Pup: Brings Home the Bacon
- Department of Personal Financial Planning at Kansas State University
- Return On Life Advisor
- Implementing Client Meeting Surges To Boost Advisor Productivity And Systematize Client Value
- Redtail CRM
- Envestnet Tamarac
- Kindle Direct Publishing
- New Degree Press
Michael: Welcome Jamie Bosse to the "Financial Advisor Success" podcast.
Jamie: Thanks, Michael, I'm thrilled to be here.
Michael: I'm really looking forward to the discussion today, and having an opportunity for you to share a little bit of your journey, and what I find this really interesting intersection of just a career journey out into itself from...I know you've lived in independent firms and the large bank world and in standalone advisory firms. But that you also have a passion around financial literacy, writing, creating books, as I view it, you're in the process of creating a personal brand unto yourself, I know you call it Money Boss Mom.
And for a lot of advisors that do have some element of this creative spirit in them, there's often a bit of a challenge in just figuring out how do you balance what I'm doing for my firm and what I'm doing in building my own brand and what I'm doing and working with clients of the firm who maybe tend to skew a little bit more affluent, and what some of us do with creative and financial literacy endeavors, which often reaches the people we don't necessarily work with as clients.
So, as we dive in, I think to get us started, why don't you first just anchor us a little bit in the advisory firm itself. Just tell us a bit about the advisory firm and where you are today.
Aspyre Wealth Partners’ Fee Models And Jamie’s Role Within The Firm [04:42]
Jamie: Well, I'm a financial planner at Aspyre Wealth Partners in Overland Park, Kansas. But I actually work remotely for them in Manhattan, Kansas. So I was doing remote work before remote work was cool. But we do have a remote office now in Manhattan as well. But the firm is comprehensive, fee-only. Size-wise, we are just under $500 million of AUM, and we service about 275 families. And of that, I serve probably 50 to 60 of them.
And the firm is an RIA, but it's a pretty good-sized one. So we have 15 employees. Our 16th will be starting this summer. And seven of those are lead advisors, including the two firm owners. And then we have a couple of planning team associates, four administrative-type operations folks, and then two that are strictly business development.
So we're really focused on the comprehensive planning piece and being an integrative financial partner for our clients.
Michael: So I'm just doing my napkin math here of close to $500 million of AUM, 275 families that go along with that. So, your average client is somewhere in that $1.5 million to $2 million range. And on the asset side, just I'm thinking about typical folks that you serve. Does that feel like a fair reckoning for a typical client profile?
Jamie: It does for the overall firm, for sure. A lot of the clients that I am serving tend to be in the younger market, so tend to be in their 30s and 40s, some in their 20s. More of the younger professionals that are more up and comers. So a lot of the clients I'm working with don't have that high of an asset management base just yet, but we're working on it.
Michael: So how does that work from a business model? And is the firm actually operating on AUM and assets under management model? And is that different for your clientele within the firm if you're working with younger clients who don't necessarily have the same asset base?
Jamie: We have a few different service models and we're always a work in progress in that area. So our bread and butter way of doing business was the flat-fee for comprehensive planning and then the percentage-based AUM model. And most clients did both. So they will be comprehensive planning and investment management.
Since we've been trying to effectively service more of the Gen X, Y, some Gen Z, going forward, we've tried to have a new service model where it's more accessible. So we've done hourly-based planning where we just do a financial plan and charge by the hour. So basically, have an introductory meeting, figure out the scope of the project, and then give them a quote, and then kind of track our time as we work on that. Have a couple of meetings with them, and then provide recommendations, and then the relationship essentially terminates.
We found that to be something we were using with that kind of younger clientele that didn't have a lot to manage or too much going on that needed ongoing help. But we wanted to service this generation in an ongoing manner going forward. So we started doing more of a subscription-based model where they may pay an upfront fee. Sometimes we waive it if they're clients of kids or things that. And then they have a monthly fee that they pay us for financial planning. And sometimes we manage investments with that, sometimes not. So we typically would give a fee discount, just doing a flat 1% fee for the AUM if we were managing money for them because it would typically be under half a million dollars. So they would never hit any of the breakpoints in our normal fee schedule. So a lot of the clients that I'm working with are more in that subscription service model and may or may not have AUM with us at the moment.
Michael: So help me understand a little more just what the traditional fee model looked like in practice. And then what you found is working for the younger clients that you're working with. I think you'd said the traditional historical model for the firm was flat-fee for comprehensive planning and then charging for investment management separately, and most clients had both. So what was a typical flat planning fee? And then what was the typical AUM fee or fee schedule for you guys?
Jamie: Sure. So our normal comprehensive planning fee is 4000 a year. And then we charge that quarterly. And then for the AUM schedule, it's a declining scale. So it starts at 1.2% for the first half a million and then it goes down to 1% for the next half a million and then down 0.8%, and goes down a couple more tiers from there. So when we offer the flat 1% fee it's generally assuming that they have less than $500,000 of assets to manage. So a little bit of a discount for them.
Michael: And the planning fee, you said you were charging, not just a one-time $4,000 fee, but $4,000 per year. So this is an ongoing fee for you every year. Like, it's $4,000 a year for planning wherever you are on the AUM fee schedule for investment management, and you pay for both separately and you get both separately or one or the other, if you only want one or the other.
Jamie: Correct. Yeah. So it's an ongoing relationship and an ongoing arrangement where really we act as their personal CFO for the year and help them navigate things as they come up, usually meeting with those clients two to three times a year in a formal meeting, and then as things arise throughout the year.
Michael: Interesting. And I guess I'm just wondering, in that model, because I know for a lot of firms, if they're already doing ongoing investment management, they're already meeting with their clients on an ongoing basis to the point where sometimes it gets hard to not end out doing all the planning work for them. Because if you're in the meeting with the client and he's paying your ongoing AUM fee they ask you a planning question, are you really going to say, “Well, I'm sorry, I can't answer that. because you don't pay us for planning, you only pay us for investment management”? Is that actually how it works in your firm? Like, “You only get to ask us investment questions if you're on the investment side unless you're paying the $4,000 a year planning fee, and then we'll have the planning conversations with you as well.”
Jamie: Yeah, that's a fun question. It's a lot easier to serve clients that do the comprehensive model or engage us for planning. And we feel we do a better job for people who do the full planning with us because that's what you're investing money for on based on what the overall plan is. So the bulk of the people do some form of planning. And we try to encourage that at the beginning of the relationship. So usually, people will either engage us in that comprehensive manner for planning or an hourly plan upfront and then maybe do investment management only going forward.
But how we've typically managed when things come up, like planning discussions in meetings that are meant to be just investment meetings, we address the questions in the time there. And if we can solve it in the meeting, great. If not, and we know it will take some analysis or scenarios to do outside of the meeting, then we would quote an hourly fee for that scenario, if we're not solving it with the discussions that we're having in the meeting.
Michael: Okay, so interesting. So if they just ask you a question you can literally answer off the top of your head you won't say, “Oh, I'm sorry, you're not paying the planning fee, I can't give you that answer.” But if they're going to ask any level of planning questions that actually go beyond what's happening in the planning meeting itself, “If I got to do work for you after the meeting follows up, just to let you know, I'm going to send you an invoice for that.”
Jamie: Yeah, pretty much. But luckily, most people have done a plan with us at some point at the beginning of their relationship. So we at least have some planning background with each of them to work from.
Michael: And so, if you're charging clients an ongoing quarterly planning fee, does that mean you're literally doing planning stuff every quarter? Is there a planning meeting every quarter? A planning check-in every quarter? Or is that just we're spreading the fee out quarterly but we don't necessarily meet with you every single quarter? How does it actually work for what people get for the ongoing $1,000 a quarter fee?
Jamie: Yeah, good question. We're not tied to the quarterly, “we charge you by quarter so you have to get value each quarter”. So we're not really tied to that.
Typically, we would have two or three meetings with the client each year, but there's a lot of value in those meetings. But then throughout the year, we try to touch our clients, at least every other month, in some way, with a check-in phone call, email, or a lot of times, they're sending us stuff to look at during those non-meeting times. So I feel we're providing a lot of value over the year. It might not be broken down on a quarterly basis, though.
The Planning Services That Aspyre Provides For Their Clients [14:44]
Michael: Okay. And then just when you talk about doing, I'm going to call it planning stuff in the aggregate throughout the year, just, what do you do for clients that entails an additional $1,000 a quarter, $4,000 a year fee for the planning work? Is there a fixed, “We're going to update your plan every 12 months, and we're going to do this tax analysis”? Is it simply a, “We're going to check in with you and have whatever planning conversations we're having, but I can't tell you what's going to be because I don't know what your life's going to be”? What do you commit to doing? Or how do you explain the value of what they're going to get when you say, “Yeah, you're paying that AUM fee that starts at 1.2%, but there's a separate $4,000 fee, but hey, for that, you're going to get dot, dot, dot”? How do you fill that in?
Jamie: Yeah, good question. I feel that is always this thing that you struggle with because you're selling something that is invisible until they actually are in it. So what we try to do throughout the year, it depends on what's going on with the client because we will always address a transition they're going through or hot-button issues that they're facing first and foremost regardless of what kind of calendar our schedule is on. But typically in the past, we've had a flow where we would the first meeting of the year you're checking in on taxes, because they are working on filing them at that time, or have filed them by then, looking at the net worth currently. And then we always prepare a comparative net worth with a history of net worths as long as we've known them. And that's always a cool thing to share. So we can see how things have changed over time.
And then if they have children we'll look at the education piece, generally, in that first meeting of the year, and then market outlook, anything we're working on investment-wise or would suggest change-wise, we would talk about then too.
And then we would move into the second meeting of the year, a lot of times would be more focused on the financial independence plan. So those are the retirement projections that we like to refer to as financial independence because it's more the time where you don't have to work if you don't want to, but you can if you choose to. So diving into those projections and updating them, if it makes sense. If it doesn't, for that client, we won't. Taking a deeper look at the insurance side. Checking in there to see if we need to do anything differently. And then another check-in on investments and savings plans.
And then the third meeting of the year, a check-in on estate planning or things that are changing there, which doesn't always need to be updated every year. And then, generally, we'll provide a tax projection and suggestions on things that we need to change if we have some recommendations there.
So that was our normal flow of things we would check in on. But it depends on what's going on in their lives. We'll address whatever we need to and whatever makes sense.
Michael: I'm just struck by that cadence that the beginning of the year is the tax preparation and net worth check-in. Second meeting is the retirement/financial independence check-in. Third meeting towards the end of the year is the estate planning and end of your tax projections check-in. And you just repeat that cycle for clients every year because those are always things that could change and there's always something new to talk about.
Jamie: Right. And now we're trying to move into a surge process. So where we try to concentrate the client meetings all in the same six-week period at each juncture. So our thought, we're actually trying the first surge right now. So too new to rate right at the moment. But the thought is that we would have the associates in the planning team preparing everything in the software, making sure it's up to date, collecting tax returns, if they are available to be collected. And then, we have a new tool called the Return on Life. And sending that out where it's kind of a questionnaire to see how people are feeling in different areas of their lives. So it asks questions like, you feel rewarded in your career, and you select like 1 to 10. Or you're fairly compensated for the value you bring, and you rate it 1 to 10. You're living your life on purpose, rate that 1 to 10? Your return on leisure, your return on health, things like that. So more of the broader topics. Not necessarily all financial.
Michael: And where does that come from? Just the Return on Life system or tool or things that you're using?
Jamie: Yep, it's a tool by Mitch Anthony that is just called the Return on Life tool. And it has a few different parts to it. So that Return on Life that I was just describing with the sliding scale for how are you feeling about your career? How are you feeling about your health? That's one tool within it. And then there's also a Fiscalosophy tool, which is more about...
Michael: Your philosophy, but financial, so your Fiscalosophy?
Jamie: Exactly. Play on words. So it has two parts to it where in the fiscalosophy you identify your philosophy on something, a topic debt, and then you select your comfort level with where you are right now in that area. So you say debt, and the sliding scale is I want to be debt-free, versus I like to finance everything. And then the comfort level is I feel really good about where I'm at with my debt, or I'm uncomfortable. And so there's various questions in that too to get at a little more of the history with money, their feelings on different topics. There's questions about how they feel about the stock market in there, their comfort level with insurance knowledge.
How Aspyre Has Implemented Surge Meetings And How They’re Adapting The Model To Fit Their Needs [21:02]
Michael: So tell me more about how surge meetings are working. But I guess even before that, just why surge meetings? It sounds you already had a cycle to how you were doing these. So why are you trying a different structure to it now?
Jamie: The thought with the surge was to bring more efficiencies to the way we do things. So we now have a team with associates that can do more work. Because really a lot of times the financial planners, we're doing a lot of the financial planning work for each client, up until this year. And so now that we have more of the associates built out, the idea is that they can do a lot of the updates and collect information pre-surge before the meeting time. And then we can get into a groove with clients where we're having the same conversations or addressing the same issues. We're kind of in that mode of like we're in meeting mode, we're in net-worth mode, we're in tax mode. And so then the idea is that you kind of knock all those things out. And then by the end of the surge, you can then zone in on something else. So if you're trying to get some projects done or want to do a lot of speaking engagements or other business development activities, that would be a good time to do those.
Michael: And so, how many surge meetings are you actually trying to do over the six-week cycle? How many days per week? How many meetings per day are you actually trying to do in this surge process?
Jamie: Yeah, so the format we're doing right now is, and like I said, it's our first surge. So it's going to evolve for sure. But where Mondays, there's no surge meeting scheduled, and there's a team check-in. And so the idea is that on Monday, you review what you have going on for the week. Check-in, make sure you don't need anything else for those meetings, and then read the meeting notes from last time and get caught up. Tuesday through Thursday are then your surge days. So you would have generally four meetings each of those days, maybe five. And then on Friday, again, there'd be no surge meeting scheduled. And that could be your record your notes, record tasks, transfer them to the associates to get done. Those sorts of things.
So that's kind of the ideal picture. What we've found so far in this surge is that it's pretty hard because you have those people in that cycle of client meetings, but then you also have newer clients coming in. So you're not going to say, Well, I'm not going to meet with you for six weeks because we're in a surge right now. And we're going to put you on hold. So we've had meetings on Mondays and Fridays. And so it hasn't worked exactly like we'd planned. And then a lot of those clients that I'm serving that are more on that subscription model, they've never really been on a meeting cycle, because we just meet as often as they need it or when something's going on. So those meetings were sprinkled in along the way as well.
So it's a work in progress. I can see where it could be a really good thing if we get it figured out. But the idea would be that we'd have two surges a year, and then the summertime would be for a more informal meeting with the clients, like a phone call or a check-in, a lunch, a coffee, happy hour, just something that wasn't as formal.
Michael: So, as you look at this and some of the challenges that you're having with it so far, I guess I'm just wondering like, how are you envisioning bridging this? Would you try to put the younger new clients in the subscription model into a more regular meeting cycle so they could fit a meeting surge model? Or do you just potentially end out saying to them, We're just going to be less available over these six-week cycles? Or do other things with them that don't require the same level of meeting time to fill the gap? Will you adopt the model to fit the clients or shape the clients to fit around the surge model?
Jamie: Yeah, I think we'll adapt to what makes sense for the clients. We have a debrief in a couple of weeks on how this first round went, but we've had some conversations so far. And I think it'll be a combination of things. I think maybe we will take a week off in the middle instead of having straight surge weeks in a row where we'll have a week where no surge meetings are scheduled. But maybe that's when you meet with the other subscription model folks or the newer clients that are coming on board. Alternatively, maybe there's something different that the associates can do in that process for the subscription service folks or for new clients coming on board.
We've also talked about having the business development dedicated folks, maybe they do more of the Fiscalosophy with the new clients that are coming on board during...
Michael: So if you happen to get a new client who starts right before a surge, just someone can meet with them to do something, but they might not be in the usual "advisor cycle" yet, because there are new onboarding advisors in surge seasons.
Jamie: Right, exactly. So we're brainstorming different ideas right now. But well, we don't have the solution figured out just yet.
Michael: And would you ever just tell a newer client, “So excited, you've joined us, really glad you're going to be working with us, we're going to start our new onboarding cycle in June, six weeks from now. So excited to work with you, but that's how it works around here. We'll take you on in June.”
Jamie: I personally don't like that idea because I feel like when a client has reached out or a prospect has reached out to us to join us, they've been sitting on it for a while already, probably, where they've been following us and reading articles about us or articles that we post, or it's been on their mind for a while. And there's usually like a trigger or something that's happened that they are like, okay, now it's time to do this. And so if they're ready to move forward, I want to be ready to move forward too.
Michael: So how are you preparing all this stuff for the meetings? I'm assuming Return on Life just has literally like questionnaires or tools that you send out to clients, but you talked about doing check-ins on taxes and tracking net worth over time. And so, is that a bunch of Word and Excel documents for you? Is that planning software? Or is that other tools? How are you actually preparing all those things for the client meetings?
Jamie: So for this surge, the associates have been assigned out to all the different clients, and they will start a workflow, and we use Redtail, for that. And then they will read the last couple sets of meeting notes and any activities and tasks that were out there recently closed, and make some notes of that. And then they will send an email to the clients, gathering any information that we don't have readily available as it applies to net worth. So a lot of times we don't have bank account balances or mortgage balances on hand. A lot of times the investments are linked up to our MoneyGuidePro system, and sometimes they link bank accounts and other information, but usually, those need an update. So they'll send that out an email out that says, “Hey, we're going to talk about net worth and investments and education planning this round. Could you send over current bank account balances? And here is a new tool we're using,” with kind of an explanation of it, “If you'd please take the survey before the meeting, that'd be great.”
So that all happens in the weeks before the meeting. And then all of that information is then in the workflow that I can look at. So theoretically, on the Monday that I have these surge meetings, I would then go in, as the planner and go through all the workflows of the meetings I have this week, and then see if there's anything I need or anything that I feel is missing. And then the associate would then have updated MoneyGuidePro with any information that needs to change. And then anything else we need to review. Like if we decided we need to look at the retirement projections or anything that. And then they would prepare the net-worth statement from MoneyGuidePro. And then the comparative net worth where we show the net worth over time that we have access to. That is a spreadsheet that we build that just has the breakdown of, it has columns at the top that are like June 2011, through June of 2021. And then each year has the value for cash assets, investment assets, and hard assets, and then the net worth for that year. And then there's a graph that shows how it's changed over time. And so they'll prepare all that ahead of time. So that'll be ready for us when we have the meeting.
Michael: And then when you talk about doing check-ins on taxes early in the year and tax projections at the end of the year, what tools are you using for that? Is that also a MoneyGuide function or a spreadsheet function or something else?
Jamie: We use Holistiplan for tax projections. So it's a pretty slick tool where you can upload last year's tax return, and then it starts the whole process for you for this year, and then you just add what has changed for this year, and then get a projection for the rest of the year.
Michael: Okay. And so, as you go through this cycle with clients now, are you finding it's feeling like a time savings in the surge? Is it exhausting because you're going through the surge? Is it relieving because it's just a limited number of weeks and then you get a much lighter season without any client meetings for a while? How are you feeling as you're going through the surge?
Jamie: Yeah, I feel the third week of the surge was kind of the worst where you start getting some fatigue and start feeling like okay, have I missed anything? Did I get all those tasks from the last couple of weeks accomplished and off to the associates?
So not yet. I feel the efficiency piece is getting better because typically, last year, this time of year, if we were preparing networths and comprehensive networks for clients, I would have done it for all of my clients on my own. So I would have had a lot more behind-the-scenes work to do. So I think having the associates involved now is really good. But it's kind of their first go around with meeting prep. So there's always bugs to work out as they learn who the clients are and learn what they to see and that sort of thing.
Michael: So, I guess I'm sort of wondering, was it surges that made it shift from you doing more of the prep work of the meetings to the associates? Or was that a separate decision that the firm just made in general, like we need associates doing more of the stuff so our lead advisors can spend more client-facing time? Was it kind of a fortuitous happenstance that just all came together at the same time? I'm just wondering, are the surges actually driving a shift in who does what in the firm or that was just also something you were working on in divvying up who does what?
Jamie: Well, I would say for the last five years or so we've really tried to figure out what the team structure looks like and how we service clients and making it more efficient. So it's been on the docket to be more intentional about who does what, how the client meetings look, and what the deliverables are. And it's been trial and error along the way. And we've had associates for several years, but a lot of their time was dedicated to projects at the time. So, like for instance, we moved from emoney to MoneyGuidePro, so that was a big project shift that the associates focused on. We moved from Planner CS, which is a Thomson Reuters tax software, to Holistiplan. And so that was a project that they managed.
So previously, a lot of associates were doing tasks that were extra and not as involved in the planning process. So now we want to have a true team around the client and really leverage the associates. So they're getting good experience. And it alleviates more time for the lead advisors to do more strategic thinking and more business development activities.
Michael: And how of clients responded? Just when he reached out and were like, “So, you're going to be doing a meeting in one of these six weeks. Like, no choices, you got to do it in one of these six weeks, because we're doing surges.” You probably didn't explain it quite that way. But what's it like as you go out to clients? I'm assuming this is a different thing from their end when you start coming to them and saying like, “You have to schedule in one of these six-week time slots?”
Jamie: Yeah. So on the client-side of things, they haven't seen anything too much different. So we send out a scheduling link and it shows the available time slots. For this surge schedule, the time slots just so happened to be in a six-week increment on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, at 9, 11, 1, or 3. So they might have noticed that the timeframes were different, that they couldn't schedule for a random time outside of those on-the-hour times. But it didn't feel any different because that's the same as how we scheduled before, sending out the link and they could choose from the available time slots.
Michael: And for all they know, you might even still be doing Monday and Friday meetings, it just so happens that you didn't have as many time slots and someone else already grabbed them. So I guess I'll just grab one of the ones that's open on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
Jamie: Correct. Yeah. So we did a whole separate, like a surge calendar link. So the clients that were on the meeting surge would get this surge calendar link. And that's what was available. And then some people did notice. So we started this surge in March. And some people were used to meeting a couple of weeks into January for their first meeting of the year. So some of them were kind of like, "Oh man, we should have had a meeting by now. What's going on?" So that I think, has been the only thing that they've really noticed. Other than there's more names involved in the correspondence before the meeting. So instead of getting a message from me that says what we need to collect for them before the meeting, it was one of the associates with me copied on it.
Michael: Because it sounds part of the virtue of going to this structure is if you're going to do a whole bunch of these meetings in a surge, you have to be more structured about how you do it, otherwise, you're going to just drown everyone. But the fact that you were more structured about it seems to have helped also get clearer about exactly who's going to do what and which tasks are assigned to who in the first place.
Jamie: Yeah, for sure. And the workflows kind of keep us on track for what's the next step and where we're at with each of the clients. So after the surge week, and after I record notes for my meeting and assign tasks, then I take the next step in the workflow, and then our associates will schedule what the summer session is. So we make a note of whether we think the next check-in would be a phone call or a coffee date or a lunch date or that would be and about when that should be. And then you close out the workflow.
How Jamie And Aspyre Expanded Their Client Base To Include Next-Gen Clients [37:51]
Michael: So Jamie, help me understand, you're in a firm, that, I guess, has historically worked with a bit more of I'll just call it the traditional pre-retiree, retiree, fairly affluent sort of client, now you're doing more of this work with younger clients trying out subscription models. So I guess I'm just wondering like, how does that come about that you're on board with the firm that works with a little bit more of an older clientele, and then come and say, "Hey, I want to work with some other types of clients that we haven't worked with in the past and try out a business model that we haven't done in the past”? Because I know a lot of advisors that have tried this and couldn't get their firms on board. They're like, “Nope, please just go find more multimillionaire retirees, please.” So how does this come about in your firm that you start working with a different clientele and going in this direction?
Jamie: Well, my firm, we try to be forward-thinking and think about what's coming next. So I didn't have to convince them that working with the younger generation in different ways makes sense for the future. They were just kind of hesitant on what resources do we devote to this? How much time is this going to take to develop?
But there were three of us at the firm that we're in our 30s that were like, “Hey we're getting a lot of questions from people our age. We want to help service them in a way that makes sense for them and for us. So what do you think about us trying some things with this new generation?” And the firm was on board. They didn't devote a lot of extra time for development of these things. But just said, “Hey, if you want to try something, you have our support.”
Michael: Go make it happen. And if clients, revenue are coming in, we'll figure out what to do with it.
Jamie: It is. And it took a while. Really, I think we had probably four people in the subscription service for a good six months or so. And then now there's probably 35 people doing it now. So it's grown quickly. And it's really good to have a different service line to offer people that don't fit into our normal genre.
Michael: So where did these clients start coming from? Is this within the client base, you get the older clients who start referring their kids, because they say, “Oh, now you can work with my kids as well?” Or is this you getting out in marketing in your own world to try to bring in clients that maybe fit this model because it's closer to your friends and family and peer network in the first place?
Jamie: I'd say some of both, really. So we did have a lot of second-generation, children of clients that now they have careers, they have jobs, they have kids, they need some help navigating life. And then more of the firm was really age 40 and under, so a lot of the advisors at our firm. So we do speaking opportunities that lead to new client relationships. And then many of us do a lot of blog writing that we're posting on social media. So our friends are seeing it, and our colleagues are seeing it. And so there's just more people reaching out to us that are in that younger generation that didn't necessarily fit into what we were doing before.
And me in particular, a lot of the blogs that I would write for our firm tended to be more focused on people that are going through the same things I am. So you're trying to manage your career while you're dealing with daycare expenses. How do you deal with maternity leave as a business person? And the financial impacts that come with that. And so I was kind speaking to that generation in a lot of the things I was doing.
Michael: It always strikes me that for so many of us advisors, just our clientele basically end out being ourselves, plus or minus 10 years. Just because those are our natural circles. Like that's who we move around with. And the problems we're experiencing that we talk about and can relate to and can commiserate with on others, we tend to build rapport with those people, because they're going through the same things at the same time. And we get it because we're going through it too. And just that becomes the nucleus of forming your marketing or forming your relationships and starting to bring in clients.
Jamie: Exactly. Yeah, you're kind of developing a niche, but by accident
Michael: Yeah. Well, a niche of people like me who are dealing with what I deal with very, very often works as a niche. Because the first thing about serving a niche well is really understanding their needs and issues. And if that's you, you probably have a pretty good perspective on their needs and issues.
How Jamie Started To Develop Her Audience And Personal Brand [42:42]
So how did this evolve or go from there? Because I know you do a lot more now in the realm of social media and writing and books and a lot of stuff in this direction. So did this just become a rabbit hole that you went down of started writing a little bit of blogging for stuff I was going through, got clients through it, decided to do more, and decided to do more and now, holy cow, I do a whole lot of this stuff. How did that come about for you?
Jamie: Yeah. So I was doing a lot of writing on this area to this audience, and then did a lot of speaking engagements on things that people were asking about, or things that people were facing that are in that age group. So I ended up doing some speaking events on cash flow management systems because that seems to be a big piece that impacts, specifically this generation. Because cash flow is hard for everybody but learning to manage all the expenses being a parent. And they change every year too. So one year you have one kid in daycare. The next year you have two. All of a sudden daycare is more expensive than your mortgage. Those sorts of things.
And then two, it seems like the generation of parents now are largely Millennials or the low-end of Gen X, top end of Gen Z. And they're the ones that have a lot more, I don't know, financial cards stacked against them in a lot of ways because they're the kids of crisis because they have had economic downturns at very pivotal points in their development. So yeah, just so much content in this area of, and it's such an interesting generation to write to.
Michael: So where did it go from there? You started doing some speaking on issues that you were familiar with because you were going through them as well. Like, what came next? Where did it go from there?
Jamie: Well, I ended up getting some more questions on how to teach kids about money. So people my age wanting to know how to set their kids up for better success than what they had. So, a lot of questions around teaching kids financial lessons and values. And a personal story. I had a five-year-old at the time was my oldest, and then a younger baby. And I was shopping with the five-year-old, and he was like, "Hey, can you buy this $60, Grave Digger Remote Control car?" And I had to say, "Well, no that's not in the budget for today." And he says, "Well, why don't you just buy it on Amazon then?" And I said, “Hmmm, I'm a failure. My kid does not know that Amazon, it's something that you give money to.”
Michael: I hadn't even thought about that. Like, when you go to the store, you pull out your wallet and pay. When you're at home, you just click on it on Amazon, and it appears at your house in 24 to 48 hours.
Jamie: Yeah, exactly. So he thought it was just this magical service that brings you everything your heart desires right to the doorstep.
Michael: Well, it is kind of a magical service that brings you everything your heart desires.
Jamie: It is kind of magical.
Michael: But it costs money. There is a caveat to it.
Jamie: True. True. So I decided I wanted to write in the children's book space too. I was already doing a lot of writing, and was getting questions on teaching kids financial lessons and values, and then seeing it in my own life that, oh, gosh, my kids need help with this. And so I decided to start writing some children's books on the basic concepts of money. And I did some research on what different topics kids can understand at different age groups and started writing around those topics.
Michael: Well, it's a little bit of a jump there of, “I realize my kids don't quite understand how money works and the difference between pulling your wallet out at the store and buying on Amazon, so I decided to write a children's book.”
Like for some of us it's like, “So I decided to get a book and figure out how to teach my kids about money. Or go on the internet and do some research.” Not like, “So I'm going to write a children's book.” Where did that come from?
Jamie: Well, I've always enjoyed writing, it's kind of my jam. And so I felt it was a gift I could use to help communicate this to my kids. And we do a lot of reading at our house. And so I thought that a book would be the perfect way to do that. So I first did have to research like what concepts can these kids even understand that age that they are. So I looked up a lot of resources on that and then decided to write around just really basic things like understanding that things cost money, and understanding that you work to earn money, and that sometimes you have to wait and save to get what you really want. So some of the concepts that are really hard for adults to understand.
And we at the time had a super cute Corgi dog named Milton as a family pet, and so he was the perfect protagonist for the story. So I did the writing about him. And so I thought the kids would be really interested in that and know that kids everywhere love animals and using them in stories.
Michael: And so this became like Milton the Corgi teaches your kids about personal finance?
Jamie: Yes, "Milton the Money Savvy Pup."
Michael: "Milton the Money Savvy Pup."
How Jamie Made Her Children’s Book Happen [48:39]
So what happens from there? I get I want to start putting some words down on a page to become a children's book. But this became a children's book. So how does that actually happen?
Jamie: Yeah, so I found there's a lot of different ways to publish a book these days. There's the traditional route where you would send your content into an agent or a publishing company, and then you might hear back you might not, from them. And so I wanted to explore what other options were out there. So I signed up for a conference. It was like a children's books writers and illustrators conference. It was a one-day deal in my area. And so I went to that just to see how does it work, what's out there. And so you meet with different publishers, and they give you some feedback on your writing so far, and then a little bit of insight into the traditional publishing process.
And what I learned from that is that it can be really expensive. And it is a long road that may or may not work out. So you might hire an agent and nothing may come of it. Or you may send your content to 12 different publishers and never hear back from any of them.
So I decided to explore some of the other options, with self-publishing options through Amazon, which is actually through Kindle Direct Publishing. And that's actually what I ended up going with. I had an old manager who had published a book, self-published one through Amazon, several years before that. So I had a conference call with him and talked about how it all worked. And then did some research into what that process looks like. And it's really pretty straightforward. But you have to figure out a lot of the formatting.
And so that's a really difficult thing if you don't speak that language, in particular. So I have not done a lot of formatting and editing in Adobe and things that. So that was all a foreign language to me. And then I don't draw pictures. And writing a children's book, having pictures is a big part of it. So then I had to go down the road of how do you find an illustrator? What does that cost? How does that work? And so I had to do a lot of googling, work with this organization that had the conference to see what's out there, asked everybody I knew that had any contact with graphic design people. And then was just passed around person to person to person until I found someone that was like, "You know what? I've never done that before, but I'll give it a try."
So then she and I kind of jumbled our way through the process of what resources are out there on this direct publishing site and how do we put it together? So it was definitely like a learning process with a lot of stumbling along the way. But once we got it figured out, you basically just upload it to the Amazon system once you've met all their requirements. And then you can order a pre-copy of it so you can see if it actually prints well. And then you can make it live for sale.
And the cool thing about doing the self-publishing route through Amazon is that you don't have to buy a lot of copies upfront. So a lot of publishing, you're $15,000 in before you even sell a book or you have to buy a bunch of books on the front-end to sell as a part of the publishing process. But...
Michael: But that's how the publisher makes sure they cover their costs is you buy your own books to make their profits upfront.
Jamie: Exactly, yeah. Exactly. But with the Amazon route, it's all print on demand. So you just upload it into their system. And then when someone buys it, they print it and mail it to them. And so you don't have to have an inventory of stock on hand at any given time.
Michael: Oh, interesting. So once you get to the point of like I've figured out how to just make my book, design it, and get in whatever the digital format is that Amazon requires, you give them the book materials, anybody who wants to buy it online, they will print one on the spot to send to them, because they've got all your materials, and just that's it. And then they take their piece and you get your piece and off you go.
Jamie: Yeah. And then they just pay you out each month from what your proceeds are for that month. And they send your tax form at the end of the year. So it's actually a pretty slick deal.
Michael: So what did it take for actually just bringing the book together then? Did you ultimately hire the illustrator? Did you partner with them and you each get a split of each book proceeds? So just how does it work to make this come together?
Jamie: Yeah, we had to talk about all that. And it was our first time for either of us dealing with something like that. So we decided to do more of an hourly rate for her time that she would track and bill me for. And then she would not be part of the proceeds going forward. Because we felt that that would be just a little difficult to track on an ongoing basis. So she billed for her time upfront, and then I paid her, and then that was kind of the end of that engagement.
Michael: Very cool. And then how does it work once Amazon just has your book? Like, people order it online. And do they set the price? Do you set the price? Like, you set the price and then they get an X percent of it. Just how does it actually work when you start selling your books through Amazon?
Jamie: Yeah, you can set the price, but they have a minimum. So there's a minimum printing fee. So to create the book, to print the book, it cost $3 and change, total. So then above that, Amazon has to make a portion and you make a portion. So they won't let you set it lower than a certain amount. Like for mine, they wouldn't let me set it lower than $8.99. And then you can plug in different costs and see what you would make at that cost level. So you can kind of play with it to see what makes the most sense.
The Benefits Of Being An Author And Jamie’s Vision For Herself As A Writer [55:27]
Michael: And so, as you go about this, you wrote it just because you wanted to write it and get it out there? Or is your goal like scaling up a book business and trying to make money from the books as an author? What's the vision of it for you?
Jamie: Yeah, I think the main vision was to get it out there. And I could see it being a really fun thing to have with my kids, but then also, to use with clients. So it's a fun gift to give clients who are in my same stage in life where they have young kids trying to teach them about money, trying to get through all the normal things. And so I actually had a lot of fun with it. It was published in 2018. And in 2019, before the pandemic, you could go into schools on a normal basis. So Milton and I would actually go to the schools. We were part of school assemblies where they would put the book up on the big screen and I would read it to the classes or the school. And then they could all ask questions and pet Milton on the way out. So it was really kind of a fun...
Michael: Oh, so we're not just talking metaphorically, you brought the Corgi with you.
Jamie: I brought the Corgi. Yes. And he rode in a wagon. And he was pretty old, like he was 10 years old. So he would just lay there and make funny noises when the kids would pet him.
Michael: Probably good in the school environment that he was just a little older and chill.
Jamie: Yeah, he just laid there like, “Please, pet me, children. Come here.” So that was a lot of fun. And we read at daycare centers and libraries. And so it was just kind of a fun way to give back to the community, but also get the name of the book out there. Because I don't think the actual selling of the books is where the value is, financially or otherwise. So I think kind of the value that comes with it is to say that you're an author, or be able to use the book in some other way for speaking events, or for client gifts or just other outlets.
Michael: And so is that how you're approaching it now? Like what do you see as the value that you're drawing from having written the book and putting it out there?
Jamie: Yeah, so it tied really well into the content that I have about teaching kids about money. So, for instance, I would speak at a women's business event and then talk about teaching your kids about money. "Oh, by the way, I have this kid's book you can buy a copy today if you'd like." I partnered with other children's book authors in the financial sector. And we've done book readings and exchanged social media posts and things that to just pump up each other's books and get the word of financial literacy out there.
Michael: And so where does this go from here for you? Is this like, did my thing, got my book out there, or now I'm on a kick of books and I want to do more books and books are going to be my thing?
Jamie: I do like books. Books are my thing I would say. I've written a second Milton book. Actually, a third one now too. The second one was written in 2019. But then with 2020, there were some issues getting publishing done and having kids at home, so it was hard to get anything done. So that book is coming out this year. And then the third Milton book should be illustrated, probably sometime toward the end of this year. And then we can get that one out there. But the first book was really about understanding that you need money to buy things and that money is earned by working, and that sometimes you have to wait and save to get what you really want. And then the second one is about the concept of every time you get paid, splitting up some of that income into what you'll give to charity, what you're going to save, or what you're going to spend. So kind of the three jars.
Michael: The like, yeah, spend, save, give, jars?
Jamie: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So that concept.
And then the third one is just a bedtime story. A “Good Night Milton” story.
Michael: Very cool. And how does this work with respect to the firm? Is this viewed as part of your job? Is this just entirely out there in your own thing Because I know for some firms, even just the like, so who technically owns the book and the intellectual property of the book? Like, how does that work for you?
Jamie: Yeah, so I am the owner of the book and all the rights to it. The firm, they own all my blog content that I put out there on their site. But I think the firm really supports me doing activities like this because it's something new, it's something different, it's something that sets our firm apart and has led to a lot of cool opportunities. So it's not owned by the firm, but they support me going down this route and building a name for myself.
Michael: Well, and obviously, ultimately, if you're building a brand and helping to drive business and bringing in clients, the firm will do okay in this as well.
What Surprised Jamie The Most About Building Her Career As A Financial Advisor [01:01:07]
Michael:So as you look back over just the journey of all of this, and I know you've been through a lot of different firm environments of small firms and big banks and been in the independent IRA world, what surprised you the most about the path for building your career as a financial advisor?
Jamie: Well, like you said, I've seen a few different versions of how financial planning is done out there. My first job out of college was in a small RIA where there was one lead advisor and two associates, and then two part-time people that were not really on the scene. So being in a small environment, it was a comprehensive planning shop, it was fee-based. And so there was commissions, also. And in that kind of small of an environment, it was a perfect place to be at the time, because I got to have my hands in everything. So I got to really know what happens behind the scenes in a firm. So I was doing everything from meeting with clients to tax projections to being the compliance officer to being the office maid because we did all our own cleaning of the office. And so I got to really be involved in whatever I wanted to be involved with. So that was a cool kind of learning environment.
And then on the big bank side, I was in the private banking area, which is where more of the million-dollar and above clientele are. And so I got to learn a lot about the trust side, and about branding, and how big banks operate. So that was interesting to see how they kind of branched into more financial planning and how they plan to do it going forward.
Michael: So, how did you get from small RIA to private banking in a big bank?
Jamie: It was actually a function of moving across the country. So the independent firm that I worked with for my first job I found through the FPA, through a career day situation. And then my husband and I moved to Portland, Oregon. We were living in Dallas, Texas at the time. And when I moved out there I was just looking for any and every opportunity that might be available. So I broadened my search to banks and CPA firms just to see what was out there.
Got the job in the private bank side, starting more on the investment side, actually. So, working with the investment management side. And then got my CFP while I was there, and moved into a more financial planning-related role a couple of years later.
Michael: So how do you contrast being in the small RIA world versus the big bank world?
Jamie: Well, I would say, in the big bank it really is a machine. So you're just a little kind of a cog in the machine that can be replaced at any time. And I think, in the RIA world, there's more of a focus on planning, being the center of the relationship with the client, talking about the goals, the recommendations, more of the life planning side, and the bank is more about the asset management side. So let's get the assets in the door. Let's get it in trust so it stays with the bank for the long term, really focused on that investment management piece, and a little bit more transactional banking items.
Michael: So it just felt more focused, I guess, on the asset gathering aspect because that is literally the business of a bank at the of the day.
Jamie: Yeah, exactly.
Michael: Holding a whole bunch of assets.
Jamie: Yeah. So at the time, I knew, like I enjoyed my time at the bank. And I thought it was a really great place for me at that point in my career, but I knew for the long term I wouldn't stay in the banking world.
Michael: And so, what was the vision of what would come next? What were you looking for by the time you were ready to leave banking world?
Jamie: Well, another move came up. So we were living in Portland, Oregon, had just had our first son. And then my husband was offered kind of a lateral move job where he was doing sales on the West Coast. And now it would be sales in the Midwest. So back to where we're from in Kansas. And so we're like, Well, we have a kid now, I guess we should move back to Kansas. If there's a time to do it, maybe it's now.
So I knew that I was probably done with the banking world. And that was kind of a good, clean way to make the break, really, moving back across the country. So I looked at all the different firms that I could find in the Kansas City area, and I came across the firm that I am with now that is a larger RIA. So 15 people. So really focused on the comprehensive planning piece, fee-only. And big enough that it's run a business but still small enough where my voice can be heard and I can make a difference.
Michael: And is that part of what you were looking forward for? You'd been in big firms and then small firms. So am I to infer not a coincidence that you sort of deliberately decided mid-size at that point? Like big enough to not be the limited resource of the small firm, small enough to still have your voice heard, unlike a really big firm? Was that a conscious decision of I want to be in this middle size?
Jamie: For sure. Yeah. It was kind of like a Goldilocks situation. The first one was a little bit too small. I don't want to be the maid anymore. The second one was maybe a little too big. I don't want to be just a number. And then third one was just right. Like a good mix of both. So.
Michael: Yeah, it's a comment we've made on the podcast here before as well that just I've seen this trend for many years now that for so many of us, like, well, when you're getting started in the industry there's often a huge focus on finding the right job, finding the right firm, finding the perfect place that I can start my career and build my entire career with. But when I actually look just in practice at what happens for most people, you don't build your career at your first job. I find with startling consistency, you build your career at your third. Like, the first job you just get something, you find out what do you and you don't like. The second job is usually the opposite of the first. So whatever you really didn't about the first you find the opposite extreme from the second and then deal with whatever the challenges are at the opposite extreme. And then by the time you've done that for a couple of years, and you're ready to find the third job, it's okay, I've done things at opposite extremes from job number one to job number two. Now, I think I've actually got a pretty clear picture of what I really and the kind of firm I want to be in and the work that I want to be doing. And then the third job is often the one that people stay at.
Jamie: Yeah, that's really interesting. I hadn't thought about the third job being the one. But I definitely knew the first one, you think what you want, but then you don't really know what it's until you're in it. So.
Michael: Yeah. And then I usually find by the second, you figure out what you don't about the first and you definitely want to do something different. But it doesn't actually mean you find the thing you like, you just find the opposite of the thing you didn't like. And then you have to take another step on the journey before you find that final landing point.
Jamie: There we go. It's all part of our story, though, right?
The Low Point For Jamie In Her Journey And What She Knows Now That She Wishes She Knew When She Was Younger [01:09:23]
Michael:So what was the low point for you on this journey?
Jamie: I would say, when you're moving across the country, I did that a couple of different times, that's always a hard journey to make and to start over where you are. So I would say that's a hard one.
One of the other low points would be, I was working at a bank in 2008, 2009 when things got dicey with the Great Recession. So I was let go from my job at the bank at that time. So that's just kind of a hard thing to go through in general, and just a scary thing to go through in general. Fortunately, I was picked back up by the bank a couple of weeks later in a different role, which was actually more focused on financial planning and had a more financial planning career track to it. So work...
Michael: So you got downsized out of the bank and then hired back by the same bank in a different role a few weeks later?
Jamie: Yes, I know. So...
Michael: That's got to be a little bit of a roller coaster.
Jamie: It was. It was. And it was just interesting because you think about how the bank on one side is trying to cut costs, so they're downsizing here. But then they've also got some strategic things in mind and things that they're hiring for. So then hire you back on the other side, but it's all the same place. So it's like, who's doing the accounting here, you know?
Michael: So now as you look back, having gone through this journey over the years, what do you know now you wish you could go back and tell you from 10-plus years ago as you were still early in your career and getting started?
Jamie: One thing I would tell myself is that it's a very small industry. So anytime you make a connection, make sure that you stay connected to them for the long term because they may lead to other things down the road. So, like at my current firm, I work with Lucas Mitchell who was in my financial planning program in the undergrad. And we hadn't connected in years and years, but when I was looking around at firms to work for once I had made those two moves across the country, he was a familiar face and someone I could reconnect with. So I think all those connections make a big difference. And especially in this field where it's kind of a small world.
And on the other side, you don't want to burn any bridges. So, I am embarrassed by the story, but my first internship, I worked for the firm for the summer. And then they offered me a job at the end of the summer. And I just accepted it knowing that I was still shopping around for other options, and knowing that I wanted to leave Kansas. And I decided to accept it because I thought, “Oh, well, great job offer. Okay, I better take it.” And then I ended up getting another offer from the firm in Texas that I ended up working at. And so I then declined the offer I had already accepted kind of thinking that I won't run into them again. You just don't think the long-term impact of that. So fast-forward a couple of years, I see the people from my internship all the time. Like, that firm was at every conference I was at. Now that I'm back in Kansas City, I see them all the time. So it really is as a small world, and so just make sure you're always professional and maintaining relationships because you never know where they're going to resurface.
The Advice Jamie Would Give To Newer Advisors And What She’s Working On Now [01:13:41]
Michael: So what other advice would you give younger or newer advisors who are getting started in the industry today, and just trying to figure out what their path is?
Jamie: A couple of things. I would say, one, get involved, and two, find your thing. So on the get involved piece, I've always been involved with different facets of the industry, whether that's volunteering for stuff, being a part of the FPA, local chapter, and things going on there. And I found that the more connected I am, the more opportunities come up. So, whenever I was moving across the country, I always had connections wherever I was going. So it was somebody I'd met at a conference, or somebody I went to school with, or somebody I was on a board with. And so the more involved you are, the more people you have to reach out to in your times of need when you're looking for jobs or looking for help on things. So I think that is one good piece of advice.
And then two, finding your thing. So I talked about my thing being writing, which doesn't necessarily equate with financial planning, but it's really served me well in a lot of different ways. So writing is something that I enjoy, so I just started doing it. When I worked at the bank, I started writing articles when the benefits would come out. And I would write about things to consider, and how to allocate your 401(k). And it was just kind of a fun thing for me to do. But it really helped me get some recognition from the higher-ups at the bank, and it was a really helpful resource to the people I worked with. So that felt good all around and it set me apart from other bank employees.
And then once I got to Aspyre where I was doing a lot of the blog content, that was something valuable that I was providing to the firm and another way to get the word out about Aspyre and generate new clients. And so I was using something that I love to do anyway, to help my career grow and help my firm grow.
Michael: Interesting. And I guess I'm just wondering, what do people do if they're not sure what their thing is yet?
Jamie: Yeah, I think it takes a while to figure that out. So if you don't know what it is right now, I think that's okay. I think just keep exploring the things that interest you. Maybe you'll be helpful in podcasting and you could help your firm get that started. Or maybe you can help with a social media presence of the firm, or just anything that you already have an interest in that you want to do more of. And I think that most firms are looking for specialists in different areas too. So maybe if you're a younger advisor and you have student loans yourself and are looking at consolidation options, and things, then you can maybe be the firm's expert on that when that comes up with clients, kids, or younger clients that the firm is working with.
Michael: So what are you working on now? Like what's your focus at this point?
Jamie: Right now I am writing my first grownup book. So directed towards that...
Michael: I feel like just you have to clarify because the others were children's books. So writing my first grownup book. Okay.
Jamie: Exactly. Yes. My first grownup book. So it is directed at kind of that younger parent generation, similar to the blogs that I've written over the years. And it's a book called "Money Boss Mom", helping young parents be the boss of their financial future. And it's about getting the right systems in place to help young parents gain control of their financial lives.
So it's meant to be kind of a nonlinear book, meaning that you can use it as a resource to learn the things you need to know. So I didn't want it to be a ton of fluff, but I wanted it to be here are the things where I see young parents fall short, and the things that they need to know to be successful financially. So ideally, if you want to learn about life insurance, you could just read chapter four, and then skip around if you like. If you wanted to learn about what do you need to know about estate planning, read chapter five. That sort of thing.
Michael: And so, what takes you this direction for now doing a grown-up book? Is it just I just want to write more, I had it in me? Is this like a broader marketing strategy of trying to grow your brand or bring in more and different clients? What's the driver for you on going from, as you put it, from children's books to grown-up books?
Jamie: Well, I think it fits really well into what we're doing as a firm where we're trying to have different advisors working with a more specific set of clients. So I'm working with a lot more of that 40s-and-under client base that are in this financial planning parenting vortex where they're maybe paying off their own financial debt from college while saving for their children's college, while saving for retirement, while managing all the expenses of today, while trying to buy a bigger house, that thing. So a lot of the clients I'm working with are in this area, and really, a lot of the newer ones I would bring in would probably look the same. So I think that it fits well into my role at the firm. And I already had a lot writing about this because I wrote a lot of blogs for my company about the sort of issues that parents face and the things that they should know about financial planning. And so, I've had it organized into chapters really, for years and just hadn't done anything more about it. So had a lot of starter content ready, I just had to get it to the point where I would flesh it out.
Michael: And are doing this again with the same Amazon director? Or are you going a different publisher route for this?
Jamie: Yeah, so I'm not doing the same thing. I am working through a hybrid publisher, which has been a whole other learning process. But it is through New Degree Press is the publisher. But as a part of it, before you get to the publishing stage, you take a class through the Creator Institute. So it was a class I had actually heard about at the XYPN conference when there were a couple of speakers who talked about the ways that they wrote a book and how they use it in their business now. And one of the speakers had published their book this way. So I looked into it.
And what you do is you talk to the people at the Creator Institute, tell them your ideas. And then you start taking this class that is like a one-hour class, 4:00 on Tuesday for three months, and you learn different facets of writing a good book. So, what are the good components of a chapter? What is a good way to tell a story? How should this be laid out? How many words should it be? All those little nitpicky things that I wouldn't have known going into it honestly. And so as you go through this class, you have an editor that you're working with, and you submit writing along the way. So at different points, you need to have 3,000 words submitted, or 10,000 words submitted. And it doesn't have to be in chapters or anything yet, but they just give you feedback and tell you how they would change the writing, how to structure it better, anything that was missing. And so then it was kind of a work in progress. And then you get to the end of the class portion. And you basically have a first draft of a manuscript.
So that's where we're at right now, where I have a first draft of a manuscript. And we're in the kind of pre-sale phase where now I'm getting more feedback from editors. And then I'll have to do some revisions over the next couple of months, incorporating their feedback. And then we give some content out to some beta readers to read and then give their feedback. And then we incorporate that into it. And then the final stage is having kind of the heavy pin writers that come in and do all the grammar and punctuation and things that. And then it should be ready for publishing in August of '21.
Michael: Interesting. So a much more, structured process relative to just the, “Here's Amazon Direct. Upload when you're ready.”
Jamie: Yeah, definitely more structure. And I think, for a project, like the grownup book is so much longer and so much more of a project to handle that it helped to have the accountability along the way of, “Okay, I need to have these words submitted by this date, and I need to have this many chapters done by this date.” And I think that helped just keep me on task to actually keep moving forward on it. Because like I said, it had been something on my mind for probably four years, and I had taken different steps to organize it and think about what the chapters would look like and all of that back then. But just finding the time to work on it just seemed like a really daunting task. So this program really put it into manageable bite-sized pieces that you just handled one week at a time.
Michael: Interesting. Interesting. And how does that work from a cost-end? Do you have to pay for this program? Is it just like different split on revenue when you publish the book and get it out there? How does that work?
Jamie: Yeah. So on the front-end, you pay, I think it was $400 for the class. And so it's kind of just a college-level class that you're signing up for. And then once the first draft manuscript is accepted, then you pay $300 to enter the publishing process. Because that starts paying some of the editing work that's going on. And then you do a pre-sale campaign, it's called an Indiegogo campaign, but it's kind of like a GoFundMe where people pre-buy copies of your book, and then that funds the publishing process. So we've been through that phase where we do the pre-sale. And then ideally, you raise $5,000 in that pre-sale. Or you can fund it yourself if you'd like to. And then that gives you the green light to keep moving forward in the publishing process.
Michael: Interesting. So in essence, you pay them $5,000 to just get all the support and the infrastructure and the help for publishing the book, but rather than just pay it upfront and then hope you make it back on book sales, they encourage you to basically do a pre-sale kind of campaign on Indiegogo. So if you've got at least some market of people who are interested and want to buy the book, then they essentially just buy the book before the book is made. And now you'll have the book sales when the book is published and the dollars will all add up in the end.
Jamie: Right, exactly.
Michael: Cool. That's a very cool structure.
And so, what's your timeline on when this comes out for you?
Jamie: I should be published in August of 2021.
Michael: Okay, very cool. Very cool. And is this going to be like the first of many, and there's more grown-up finance books coming or are you getting to the end of the things in your head that you just needed to get out of your head?
Jamie: I think for now, I don't have any other grown-up books out there. I think if I did another adult book it would be...maybe it's focused more on the teaching kids about the money aspect, but written for the parents instead of through Milton. Yeah, but I think this is enough of a project for now.
What Success Means To Jamie [01:26:40]
Michael: So, as we wrap up, this is a podcast about success. And one of the themes is always, even that the word success means different things to different people. And so, you've had this great career progression of the different firms that you've been through. And now, as we said, finding the good landing spot with firm number three and building and going down the road of writing children's books and grownup books, and building with next-generation clients. So like, career stuff is going so well. But I'm wondering, how do you define success for yourself at this point?
Jamie: That's a really good question. I think, you know, as a parent, and as an employee, and as a mom, there's a lot of things that you're trying to do all at once. So I've been trying to grow my career while having my family and being a good mom, and all those things. So I think success is not finding balance, because I don't think there's ever really balance for sure, but finding a way to integrate all those things so that, you know, I'm fulfilled, career-wise, I'm able to reach some of my goals, but then also that I have the flexibility in my career to spend time with my family and not miss the soccer games, and be able to take the kids on vacation, and those sort of things. So finding a way to integrate my life so that I'm enjoying the personal side but also continuing to make strides on the career side.
Michael: I like that framing that just this isn't about balance. It's about integration.
Jamie: Yeah, because I don't ever feel like there's a balance. Like, I don't think it's an even trade. I think sometimes you're doing more for work. And sometimes home life takes over. So I think it's just figuring out how to get it all to work together.
Michael: One, and I was thinking, just in general, for a lot of people, it's hard enough just to imagine finding the time to write a book, never mind while growing the career, and as a mother with young children. Like it's a lot of stuff going on.
Jamie: It is.
Michael: Well, very cool. Well, thank you so much, Jamie, for joining us on the "Financial Advisor Success" podcast.
Jamie: Of course. Thanks so much for having me, Michael.
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