Welcome back to the 118th episode of Financial Advisor Success Podcast!
My guest on today’s podcast is Jared Reynolds. Jared is a partner in Wilkerson & Reynolds, an advisory firm in Columbia, Missouri that oversees nearly $160 million in assets and/or management, with a heavy focus in working with small business owners and their 401(k) plans.
What’s unique about Jared, though, is the way that he’s grown his business with small business owners by forming a niche in working with bass fishermen, for whom he organizes fishing and hunting trip expeditions, and gets an opportunity to spend hours or even days at a time in close proximity with small business owners to form relationship and then, eventually, share a little bit more about what he does for his clients.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about how Jared formed his niche with bass fishermen, in what started out as a family connection through his father into the bass fishing community. And then, morphed into attending bass fishing trade shows and tournaments. And then, developing an expertise in working with bass fishing tournament winners on tax strategies for their prize winnings and how to negotiate their endorsement deals and TV contracts.
And, ultimately, evolved beyond just working with competitive bass fishing professionals and into those who engage in bass fishing as a luxury sport, many of whom are also very successful small business owners. We also talk about how, exactly, Jared was able to turn his hobby and passion into an actual prospecting activity. The way he organizes fishing and hunting trips with prospects is an opportunity to form new relationships.
While he has a firm policy of not branding his advisory firm as part of the expeditions, to downplay his own background as a financial advisor, and allow the conversation of how he can help prospective small business owners to occur more organically. How he’s found that more extreme marketing activities actually tend to develop the best prospects. And his advice on how any advisor can turn their own hobby into a passion prospecting strategy to attract their own clients.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Jared talks about the hockey stick of growth that emerges as you focus into a niche. How it often takes three years to really get established with a specialty, but the way it compounds exponentially further after 10 or more years, to the point that Jared’s biggest regret is that he didn’t focus even earlier on just trying to do business with, as he puts it, his people, the fishermen and hunters that he enjoys working with the most anyways.
What You’ll Learn In This Podcast Episode
- How Jared turned his hobby and passion into a prospecting activity. [04:40]
- The evolution of his niche. [15:15]
- How long it typically takes to get established within a specialty. [19:55]
- Why he has a firm policy of not branding his advisory firm as part of the expeditions. [35:13]
- How Jared brings up business on his trips. [43:34]
- His strategy for event follow-ups to get business meetings scheduled. [51:38]
- An overview of his firm as it exists today. [59:38]
- His plans for the future. [1:09:35]
- What he wishes he had known sooner. [1:13:54]
- Advice for young advisors who want to balance focusing on a niche with the need to grow the business. [1:18:39]
- What surprised him the most about building his business. [1:25:54]
- Jared’s low point. [1:33:41]
- How he defines success. [1:38:48]
Resources Featured In This Episode:
- Jared Reynolds
- Wilkerson & Reynolds
- Waddell & Reed
- Financial Profiles
- Bassmaster Classic
- Building A Niche Advisory Business: It Takes 3 Years For People To Know, Like, And Trust
- Networking With Millionaires by Thomas Stanley
- Tested In The Trenches by Ron Carson
- Passion Prospecting
- Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA) Designation
- Chartered Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA) Designation
- Peak Advisor/Carson Coaching
- Limitless Adviser by Stephanie Bogan
Michael: Welcome, Jared Reynolds, to the Financial Advisor Success podcast.
Jared: Thank you, Michael. A pleasure to be here.
Michael: So, I’m really excited about today’s episode, because people who’ve heard me talk over the past couple of years about industry trends, both at conferences and even here on the podcast, have heard me kind of pound the table that the future, I think, for most small and solo advisory firms is finding niches, it’s finding specializations, it’s finding some thing that you can become known for, like some community or group that you can get immersed into.
For which lots of advisors, over the years, have specialized in doctors, and executives, and things like that. But I’ve always been fascinated of this story that I’d heard a couple of years ago of an advisor who built a niche around bass fishermen. Because all fishermen would be too broad, right? We’ve got to go just the bass fishermen so we can really get into the bass fishing tournaments.
And you are “bass fishermen dude.” So, this story has been built up for, I feel like, at least years with some of the people who follow our content around building a niche in something as specialized as bass fishing, and you are the bass fishing niche guy. And so I’m just really excited to talk about how the heck does that come about and how does that evolve as you can continue to do that over time?
How Jared Turned His Hobby And Passion Into A Prospecting Activity [04:40]
Jared: Sure. No, looking forward to it. And it is a pretty unique story on how I ended up there.
Michael: So what was the pathway? I feel live we’ve got to start there. How does someone pick a niche as…I don’t mean this in a negative way, but just as random as bass fishermen, right, and just the bass fishermen, that’s where we’re going to go?
Jared: Sure. So, it starts with childhood. My father, growing up, was a professional bass fisherman, toured the country and fished the series of tournaments kind of all over the place. And it’s interesting. My family, we have a resort on Truman Lake. That’s where I grew up, on the water and, of course, fishing. It was pretty interesting growing up. People were like, “Oh, are you going to follow in your dad’s footsteps and go fish tournaments and everything?”
And I always was kind of like, “I don’t think so,” because I actually fished with one of my dad’s partners one time, the first tournament. I fished against my dad. We won and we got big bass. So, of course, I thought this was pretty good because I beat my dad. But what people didn’t know is, on that tournament, or in that tournament, my partner, who’s one of my dad’s best friends, he lost a fish and he went ballistic.
And I’m in the back of the boat. I’m a kid. And here’s this grown man throwing stuff and saying a few choice words and everything. And I’m like, “Wow, that’s not fun.”
Michael: I don’t like this.
Jared: I don’t like this. You know?
Michael: You have now officially discovered the line when your hobby turns into a job.
Jared: Exactly right. I mean, when your cast can be, in today’s world, $100,000 or a million-dollar cast, yeah, that puts a little bit of a pressure on that cast. And so I kind of decided, hey, I love fishing. Man, I love fishing. But I don’t really want to do this at a competitive level and take away the joy of fishing to me. So I kind of decided then that I’m not going to go that fishing tournament route but, obviously, I grew up, everybody’s, “Hey, what’s your dad do?”
“Oh, he’s a professional bass fisherman.” “Oh, that must be nice.” You know? And I really didn’t think much thought about it. Like, “Yeah, he goes around, and he fishes.” You know? But I had never traveled with my dad, or been on the circuit, or went and seen what all they do. I just simply kept on going, or just I’m fishing, and I like it.
Michael: Yeah, just I’m growing up and doing my thing. I’m a teenager.
Jared: Yeah, doing my thing. Yeah. Exactly right.
Michael: All that good stuff.
Jared: Exactly right. From that standpoint, went to college and everything. Thought, “Well, you know, I actually came to school to be an architect,” and then thought attorney. And then, had a fraternity brother tell me about the stock market. I was like, “What’s that?” You know? And he said, “Wow, my fund is earning 40%.” This was back in the dot com boom, right? Well…
Michael: Excellent. Yes, the time we all got caught up.
Jared: Exactly. I was day trading back then. It was fun until I lost.
Michael: I’m right there with you.
Jared: Yes, good, humbling experience. You know?
Michael: Somewhere, I still have an account that was my original Datek Online account from 1999.
Jared: So, started, and I went, and I switched my major. I was like, “Wait, how do I do this?” I had grown up competing in math competitions and that kind of stuff, so I was good with numbers. I understood that part. Even down at the marina, would help my mom count the money for the register and all that, and I loved it. And I’ve always loved being a problem solver. Present me a problem, it’s just my innate, just characteristic, I’m going to go solve the problem for you, in some way, shape, or form.
So I went to my counselor, said, “How do I work in this?” And they said, “Well, you should look at being a financial advisor.” I was like, “Okay.” So I switched my major. Lost 13 hours of Spanish, you know, but that’s okay. It helps on vacations.
Michael: Was this a time when you had options for financial planning majors? Did you go that direction? Or did you just sort of land, in general, like, I’m going to be an econ major. That’s about as close to money stuff as I can get?
Jared: Right. So, it was kind of, I would say, in the very beginning of when financial planning started to be a course in the universities. So, I went to the University of Missouri. And back then, the actual degree was personal and family economics, I believe. Or consumer and family economics. That was it. That’s what it is. I just looked over at my degree on the wall. So, it didn’t really say what it was but there were two paths.
You could do financial management, which there was going to be some course work or everything around financial planning. Or you could do emphasis in financial planning. So I did the emphasis, which I actually kind of found out by default a little bit later that it was the first time they had offered a CFP Board-registered program. And so, my class, through the University of Missouri, was the first one “eligible to sit” for the exam based on your college course load.
Michael: Okay. Very cool.
Jared: Back then, it wasn’t really related all that well, because it was still all new. Because I actually submitted my transcripts to the CFP board and they called me back and they were like, “Well, you can just sit.” I said, “Well, excellent. Send me my 100 bucks back.” You know?
Michael: All righty, then.
Jared: So I chose that path. Well, again, I did not grow up around a stock market or anything. I didn’t know anything about it. So it was kind of all new from that respect. But the pathway to specializing actually started by going to work on a ranch one summer with one of my really good friends. So, went down to Oklahoma to work on his dad’s ranch, kind of out in the middle of nowhere, but his dad is self-made.
So I got in really good there. I loved working on the ranch. It was a lot of fun. But it was a bit or a turning point, just from motivation of, here’s this guy, self-made, doing really well and everything. And we talked a little bit about the market and stuff, and he had an advisor in Chicago. Okay? And so, it came time for one of my last classes and we’re supposed to go interview a professional.
So, I was a little bit of the brown-noser in classes. Okay? In the sense that, if I had to turn a report in, I’m the guy who would go to the library and get it bound in plastic, and black spiral, and everything.
Michael: Oh, all right. You were the one with the polished reports. I was the one with the misplaces staple. Okay, I got it.
Jared: I’m not saying my report was going to be that great, but I said, “If I at least can impress the person who’s grading, when they first pick mine up, they’re going into grading mine with a little bit of a good feeling.” You know?
Michael: Which is very true. Yeah.
Jared: So it came time you’re supposed to go interview a professional. And I thought to myself, “Look, everyone in my class is going to interview somebody here in Columbia, Missouri.” I said, “I’m not going to do that. I’m going somewhere else.” And so, I was like, “I’m going to go interview the advisor of my friend’s dad. He’s in Chicago.” So his name was Allan Ettinger and he worked in what was then the Sears Tower.
So I go up there. I’ve got this set interview time. My buddy and I, we drive all the way up there and I go in to get this interview. I got to meet with the assistant first. And now, so again, I grew up way out in the country, okay? Traveled a lot in college, so I love cities and everything. And I get up in there and I’m interviewing his assistant, and I’m talking to her and everything. And I look out her window and she has this amazing view of Lake Michigan.
I was like, “Man, that’s a really beautiful view.” And she leaned forward and looked out, and she’s like, “Huh, I guess so.” And I’m sitting here like, “Wait a minute. You don’t look at that? That’s amazing.” I’m like, “Okay.” I notice she’s pretty pale white and everything. I’m like, “Man, all right.” So I’m asking them about their day and their day, it’s pretty hardcore. It’s to the office super early, blah, blah, blah.
And she runs through everything and then I asked her, I was like, “Hey, by the way, in your day that you laid out for me, you didn’t mention eating. What do you do for lunch?” And she’s like, “Oh, we typically won’t eat lunch.” I was just like, “Whoa.”
Michael: Really. She’s really selling this career for you, huh?
Jared: Believe me, I’m quickly finding out, “Okay, moving to Chicago to be an advisor is not really lining up with what I want to do.” So then, it comes time, Mr. Ettinger slides the window open to his assistant’s area and he says, “It’s 4:00. You’ve got 20 minutes.” And I’m like, “Whoa, okay. I’m trying to finish up with her.” He pretty soon goes, “Nineteen.” And I’m like…
Michael: Oh, my God.
Jared: Wow. Okay. And I stand up, go straight in there. I’m like, “I’m getting this interview. I’m not missing this. I drove here for this.” So we go through and he talks about reversion to the mean and all this. You know, just kind of asking the standard questions I’m going to ask for my report. Last question is, “If you had to go back and do it all over again, what would you do different?”
And he says, “I would specialize.” I’m like, “Okay.” I’m like, “Well, specialize in what?” He’s like, “Find a niche and specialize in it.” And I’m like, “All right.” Great for the report. Write up my report and everything else. Don’t think another thing of it. Start in the business, go to work, and my dad calls me one day.
Michael: And out of curiosity, where did you land when you started in the business? How did you get started?
Jared: Pulled off one of those little tabs in the office at the university for an internship. Started with Waddell and Reed back then. Really chose that for two reasons. Number one, they were all about planning, which, that’s what I was learning so I’m like, “This is me.” But the one that really I was after was that they would go ahead and sponsor me to get my Series 7 and all my licenses. Now, so this is…that was June of 2001 when I got my internship.
And so, not a great time in the market. And I’m sitting here, a lot of people in my class are going to graduate with the same thing I’ve got, you know? And so I said, “Well, if I go this route and I’m fully licensed, I can compete. If this guy’s got to get licensed, and it’s going to take him a few months, I’m ready to go to work.”
Michael: Oh, so…
Jared: I went right in.
Michael: So you could actually get your Series 7 done as the internship…as the intern, still an intern phase?
Michael: Oh, okay. All right.
Jared: So I went for it.
Michael: That’s an interesting way to create an edge for… Just from a hiring, recruiting perspective for the firm.
Jared: Sure. I don’t even know if they do that anymore. It just…
Michael: I don’t know.
Jared: That’s how it was then.
Michael: Apparently, they should because it seems to have worked.
Jared: Right, right. And, really, I looked at it and I said, “Well, even if I don’t like this company, I’m licensed. I’m ready to go.” You know? So, yeah, I got my Series 7 over the Christmas break. Got my 66 in the next January. And turned on and went to work in March of ’02, while I was still taking classes. A little stressful at that time but started getting going. And getting into heavy technology back then, we were using Profiles planning software, I think, back then.
Michael: Yes, I started on Profiles as well.
The Evolution Of His Niche [15:15]
Jared: Yeah. So, I was good with a computer. Kind of started helping out who is now my business partner, at that time. And I was doing all the technology side. Love the dual meetings with him. Started giving me experience. Then my dad calls me one day and he says, “Hey, I got a guy. He fishes the circuits. He actually owns another business, or this, or that. And he had an advisor at this other firm. He’s had a bad experience. Can you help him out?”
And right then and there, it was like a brick fell out of the sky and hit me. And I was like, “Wait, Dad, is anybody doing what I do, focusing on this industry?” And he just kind of sat there for a minute. He’s like, “Well, not that I know of.” Now, you also have to understand, the older days of the bass fishing industry was kind of a lot of guys living in a van down by the river, hoping to make it kind of thing.
Michael: I think that’s kind of… Any sport with a lot of amateurs trying to go pro, you get a good amount of that.
Jared: And nowadays, ESPN bought B.A.S.S. and all this stuff, so there’s all this money coming into the sport now, and you’ve got fantasy fishing and everything, just like the other major sports. So there’s a lot of money there now. And so anyway, he was like, “No, I don’t think so.” And I was like, “Well, I think I want to focus on this.” Because I said, “I know fishing. I can handle that part.” You know?
Michael: I know these people because I’ve hung around them with you for a bunch of years.
Jared: Right. And again, I still just didn’t understand my dad and the industry, really, at all. And so, I went to what’s known as the Bassmaster Classic. Okay? So this last weekend was the Bassmaster Classic, and that is the Super Bowl of bass fishing. Okay? So 2004 is my first year I go. And part of the Classic, there’s the tournament and all of that that goes on, but the other part is there’s this big trade show. Okay?
And it’s open to the public and every business in the industry and all this stuff has got booths there and everything else. And so I was like, “Well, I just want to go there with you, Dad, and walk around.” And so we just start walking around. And the next thing I know, everyone is saying hi to my dad. And my dad knows every single person in this building. I’m like, “Wow, this could work out.”
Well, I tell people, because I go back to speak at the college and talk to the students, and I say, “It takes about, at least, a three-year commitment, at a minimum, to try and get into a real niche,” okay? Because back then, bass fishermen, it’s a family, a big family. And so I started going, walking around with my dad, and it was always, “Oh, hey, you’re Walt’s boy. Nice to meet you.” Well, the next year… And there’s two big shows that I consistently wanted to be at. One was the Bassmaster Classic, and then there’s what’s called ICAST.
So, ICAST, to the fishing world, is what like the automotive Detroit show is to the automotive world, or something like that.
Michael: Okay, so this is where all the cool equipment gets showed off. This is the cutting edge of the bass fishing industry.
Jared: Exactly right. All new products. There’s always the new product showcase and all this kind of stuff. Right? But the best part about ICAST is it’s not a public event. So it is only the industry, the owners of the companies, and then buyers’ groups and distributors. And so, when it’s the public, it’s chaos. Because, especially, everybody is wanting autographs and all this stuff. Here, I’m sitting here going, “Look…”
I grew up on cold calling and all that fun stuff, and I’m sitting there like, “I can walk up to the booth and meet the president of the company, and I’m getting introduced by my dad.” And we are normally walking around with some other really big names in the industry, because that’s who my dad works with now. So again, second year, it was, “Oh, hey. You’re Walt’s boy, the finance guy.”
Well, by about the third year, and this is a timing industry, right, it started to be like, “Hey, I need to talk to you.” And I was fortunate enough, again, through my father and everything, to land some really big names in the industry. And so now, it was, “Oh, you’re handling so-and-so’s money. Yeah, I’d like to talk to you, too.” Again, really tight niche industry. Word got around quickly.
And so, yeah, it just started evolving, really, to the point where Carroll, my partner, walks in and hands me another file to start building their plan again, and I look at him and I’m like, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to do that anymore. Love working with you. Love joint meetings and everything, so let’s just hire somebody.” And that’s kind of how it really started evolving and going. But, yeah, long, roundabout way there of it just sort of happened and I fell into it a little bit.
How Long It Typically Takes To Get Established Within A Specialty [19:55]
Michael: This brings a couple of questions to mind. And those are sort of just looking at the evolution, that progression from, “Hey, you’re Walt’s boy,” to, “You’re Walt’s boy, the finance guy,” by year two. And then, suddenly, by year three, it’s like, “Hey, I think I need to talk to you.” That progression, I’ve observed the same thing in building some of my own businesses and with a lot of advisors out there that just…what you said is so true.
It takes a couple of years. Even if you’ve got a connection, even if you’ve got an in, as it were, I think a lot of people go into niches because they’ve got a personal connection or they’ve got some family member, family history that ties to it, but it still takes a while for people to decide that they know you, they like you, they trust you. They have to reconfigure their view, eventually, away from, “You’re Walt’s boy,” into, “You’re a finance guy for people like us.” It takes time.
Jared: That’s right. And one other thing that kind of helped along that way was, I’m not going to remember the author’s name but there was the “Networking with Millionaires” and I got the audiobook. And I was listening to it, and one guy in there that they interviewed, he may have been an insurance guy or something, but he was talking about going to industry meetings. Right? And they were like, “Well, why don’t you go to your industry meetings?”
So, for me, why don’t I go to all these finance industry meetings? And he goes, “Because I never got a client at it.” And that one just struck me like, of course. Yeah, you’re not going to get a client at industry meetings. Now, they’re important. Don’t get me wrong. And I do go. But it was one of those, without a doubt, I’m not going to miss the fishing industry events that I need to be at, period. Because I can get clients at those. And so I just always made it a commitment that I’m going to go to these events.
Michael: But it makes an interesting point. I feel like it’s sort of obvious, yet I see a lot of advisors not do this or not come in with the right expectations. You want to get into the bass fishing niche, you don’t go to FPA events and such. You can go to those because it’s good for professional education and the rest, but you want to get bass fishermen, go to bass fishing events. Go to bass fishing conferences. Go to their trade shows. For which, I’m going to imagine, there weren’t a lot of other financial advisors walking the hallways.
Jared: No. I mean, none, zero. So that was kind of, again, why I was like, “Wow, it’s wide open. There’s no one there. I think this can work.”
Michael: And so, how did this work when you’re still in parallel starting out at Waddell and Reed? I mean, no knock against Waddell and Reed, but almost all the firms back then, you started, this was still the cold-calling world, I think do not call lists hadn’t even been officially implemented yet. So I’m just… Maybe it’s me, but I’m just imagining these conversations with your sales manager, where they’re saying, “How many cold calls did you do this week?” And you’re like, “Oh, well, I didn’t go do very many because I was at a bass fishing tournament.”
And they’re labeling you as bass fishing slacker guy and you’re like, “No, no. I’m doing business development. Really.” How does that go? How do you make the case for trying to immerse yourself into this niche when you’re just trying to get going?
Jared: Well, I think the one referral my dad gave me, the first one that kind of was the brick out of the sky moment, I landed him. Okay, well, back then, this was a big deal. He was a six-figure client. My first one, you know?
Michael: Ohh, you got a whale out of the gate.
Jared: Yeah, buddy. You know? And so it was like, “All right. There’s something here.” So I think they were willing to give me a little slack, like, “All right, you got this right out of the gate so okay, continue on.” But that’s why it wasn’t something, especially back then, that I had the ability, financially and everything else, to go be at all these meetings and all this other stuff. I remember the first…
This client, when I went to see him, he was in Atlanta, Georgia. And I remember, everything was shoestring budget, right? Because my wife, I think, was still in college at the time, and so everything was just as cheap as I can do it. And I remember getting the cheapest rental car possible out of the deal. And about dying on the road in Atlanta in a hellacious rainstorm, and thinking to myself, “All right, I’m at least worth getting a little better rental car, so that I’m not risking my life here.”
It took some time, and I had to keep doing other things. Because it took time with the professional fishermen themselves. Their schedules are intense, especially when it is fishing season. So, very difficult to get to see them and everything else, because you’ve got to leave them alone. At that elite level, they’re busy and they’re totally focused on the next tournament. And back then, there was even guys fishing two different circuits, which meant almost a tournament every other week or every week. And they’ve got to drive there, and take their boat, and all this other stuff.
So, it was slow to get going, but then I think one of the things that kind of said, “Hey, I don’t only have to focus on the fishermen,” kind of came about. So again, my dad is my connection in, calls me and says, “Hey, I’ve got a really good buddy.” My dad lives down in Florida. And so he says, “I’ve got a good buddy over here. He’s a fisherman, but he owns a construction company. I think you ought to talk to him,” kind of deal.
Well, I was just beginning my education kind of in that 401(k) market space. And so, freeerisa.com, start looking up the plan, and I’m doing all my homework, and I’ve got a wholesaler working with me, teaching me everything. So then, I’m like, “All right, I’m ready to go meet with this guy. I know all about his plan.” And so we go out with my dad, fishing, on the water. We’re out bass fishing.
And it was planned that we would meet up with him and just do some fishing. My dad is very good about business.
Michael: Not the worst way to prospect.
Jared: You are right.
Michael: Getting to fish for the afternoon.
Jared: Yeah. So we go out and we fish. I think it was funny, because I think back then, there are some photos floating around of me in a suit with a fish. I think we did the photo shoot that day. Because I was starting to really try and focus on that. And we get close to this guy, and he’s like, “Well, why don’t you hop over there in his boat and you can go fish with him for a little bit?” And then, my dad was good. He got strategically far enough away that you couldn’t hear the conversation going on.
Michael: Ahh, Dad’s just lobbing you up here. Beautiful.
Jared: It is. I owe him a lot of props for that. I just said, I was like, “Hey, I noticed, on your 401(k), you don’t have a lot of great participation.” He was like, “You’re right.” And he’s kind of like, “How do you know that?” I said, “Well, it’s out there. It’s public. I can see it.” I’m just like, “Does the guy come visit you?” Anyway, while I’m doing this, I’m sitting there fishing the whole time and it did kind of hit me a little bit, like I am working in the fishing industry now.
Because everybody always said, “Are you going to follow your dad’s footsteps?” I’m like, “Well, kind of, but no.” You know? So I was working. And, yeah, it just kind of hit that, “Wait a minute.”
Michael: So now all bass fishing is a deductible business expense. You’ve just got to get a prospect on the boat.
Jared: There you go. And so I was like, “All right, this is great.” But that’s what really opened me up, like, “Okay, I shouldn’t just try to focus on the pros.” Again, they’re super busy. Some of them really aren’t making great money. And so, I was like, “All right, let’s start just anybody who likes to bass fish.” And it started gaining me some business owners, right? Because bass fishing is a luxury sport, at this level anyway.
I mean, boats are up to $80,000, $90,000 boats now. It’s crazy. I mean, lures can be $25 for one lure and stuff. So, I mean, to really compete at that level, it takes a lot of equipment. Well, it’s no different than golf, right? I mean, you watch the guy on TV fish with this lure, whatever, you’re going to go buy that lure, and rod, and reel, and boat, and everything else. And so business owners who loved the bass fishing industry is where I really started putting my attention to.
And specifically with 401(k)s. So find a business owner who loves fishing, and I just want to talk to them about their 401(k). Because I found that business owners are more open to letting you look at a 401(k) first, than they are their personal stuff. And, there’s a little bit of that stigma of, “Hey, I know your dad. We’re all good friends. We’re in this industry together. We’re kind of like family. I don’t really want to tell you all about my personal stuff yet.”
Michael: True. But the 401(k) stuff is just sort of like, “Hey, yeah. I own a business. My business has some needs. You know something about a thing my business needs help with. We can have that conversation.” You’re close enough to be familiar, but not so close that it’s socially awkward, given that you’re so close.
Jared: Right. And so then, you go in, you show some expertise on the 401(k) and all that stuff, and, invariably, “So what else can you do?” You know? Or you find a way to kind of put in, like, “By the way, I just need to disclose, I do work in these other areas as well.” Again, it went from the pros to really anybody who kind of, maybe, owns a business, likes fishing. Started evolving along those lines.
And then, on the other side of it, it was, “Hey, I love the outdoors. I love hunting as well.” And it really started to kind of move to anything a little more outdoor related. It was interesting. So, in June of 2008, we joined Ron Carson’s coaching program back then. So I had read the book “Tested in the Trenches” and my partner and I…I was trying to get everything, again, I’m still trying to do everything as cheap as I can do it.
Ron actually gave us 30 minutes. We drove up there and we sat down. And I really expected that 30 minutes to be a pitch to join his coaching program, to be honest. And kudos to him, he didn’t mention it once. He sat there and told me his story, and how he got started, and all this stuff. I was like, “Wow, that’s really cool.” And then we came back, and he had these systems manuals we were trying to get our hands on.
Because I was like, “Oh, we need those. We’re going to systematize everything.” And we’re trying to get it through our compliance. Nothing was working right. And I said, I was like, “We just need to join the program.” You know? And they had, I think, it was, like, a $300,000 GDC or something you needed back then.
And well, I wasn’t there. And I was like, “Well, I’m going to find a way in.” And so I kind of had to fudge some numbers to get in, because I was like, “Nothing is going to hold me back. I need this education. I need this.” And when we got there, they started talking about passion prospecting. And it just…it was like, “Yes, yes. I kind of have been doing this.” I didn’t know it. It just sort of happened.
And so then, I came back and was like, “All right, I really like this idea of passion prospecting.” And so then, I started to look at putting some trips together. Because I said, “Well, I have my dad. I have some celebrities in that space. What if I organized some trips?”
Michael: Interesting. So rather than just…
Jared: To go fishing.
Michael: …trying to go out to a bass fishing tournament and get someone’s attention while fishing and tournamenting, or going to a tradeshow, which only comes up once or twice a year, where you can get to a whole bunch of people at once, what if we do…? I guess it’s your version of a client prospecting event, just what if we organize our own fishing trips and invite out the people that we want to invite out and get close to them?
Jared: Exactly. Because the one thing that kept coming up when I would go to the Classic or I would go to ICAST, it’s massive crowds, especially if I was with kind of one of my celebrity clients. Then everybody is hounding them for autographs and I’m almost playing part kind of bodyguard, keeping people away and helping him run his schedule kind of thing. And everybody is so busy.
So fantastic place for the introductions, and to make connections, but then it was like, “Well, we’ll talk later.” And so it took a couple of years. I just kept kind of figuring out I need to find a way to get back in front of them. Like you said, except for two times a year, when they’re super busy… Because all those guys got agendas when they go to these things. They’re running tight schedules, and meetings all the time, and they’re trying to put together deals. Because it’s the only time, twice a year, when all of these people are together.
Michael: Right. It’s a good chance to meet all these people at a big tradeshow, but if they’re high-status people in the community, they already have their own agenda when they go to their annual event, and it’s probably not meeting with you to solicit them.
Jared: That’s exactly right. So, then it just… I was like, “That’s it. I’ve got to start organizing things afterwards.” Make the connection, have a good conversation or whatever, have a dinner with them. But then, ultimately, say, “Let’s go do this other thing.” Because you’re right. Being at the Classic or at the ICAST, the last thing somebody really wants to get into on a conversation is deep dive in finance.
It’s the last thing they want to deal with. That’s business elsewhere, not here. And so, I just said, “Well, let’s organize some trips.” And we did. And there were some people inside of Carson’s that I worked with that had done some of these, too. And they really told me, like, “Hey, the bigger, more extreme, more adventurous you make this trip, okay, number one, the better the prospects are because it costs more to go so you’re dealing with people with larger discretionary income.”
Michael: Right, so you can… It’s one of those subtle things. Like, you run an event that’s a little higher-scale and is cool, but costs a little more to participate in and, lo and behold, the people with a little more limited means strip themselves out, and the business owners who can write big checks and have good businesses that they can get away from are the ones who show up, which is pretty much the prospects you want.
Jared: Exactly right. And so, again, we just started organizing these things. Because, for instance, we went to the Amazon, peacock bass fishing. Well, I went down there with one of the celebrities. He’s filming a TV show. So it was actually pretty easy to sell the spots out on that. Like, “Hey, do you want to go with this guy? They’re going to film a TV show. We’re going to the Amazon. We’re going to catch big peacock bass. What more could you ask for?”
Michael: So was that kind of the anchor? I’m just wondering, how, literally, do you put these together and people just show up? Is it like, hey, I know a bunch of these celebrity bass folks, or maybe one of them is even my client? Like, I’m going to get that person to come. Heck, I’ll pay their own way or tag along or something. And then I market to everyone else like, “Come to this cool bass fishing event. We’re going to a neat location. You will get to sit on the boat with so-and-so. Here’s the details. Do you want to come?”
Jared: Yeah. I mean, that’s how it started, right? Because if I just said, “Do you want to go fishing with me?” You know, “Who are you?”
Michael: Right. And that’s what I was wondering. Like, it’s neat to say, “Hey, I’m going to bring out all the people in my area of specialization to come with me to an event.” But you still have to get them to show up. And saying, like, “Hey, I’m a financial advisor running a bass fishing trip,” is probably not the most exciting thing for most bass fishermen. Our industry does not have the best reputation here.
Why He Has A Firm Policy Of Not Branding His Advisory Firm As Part Of The Expeditions [35:13]
Jared: Right. And, so one of my big rules, as far as these kind of events go, I never bring up this line of business. So I don’t… I’m not saying, “Hey, I’m an advisor and blah, blah, blah.” So, any correspondence dealing with it, I am emailing and talking to them like I’m a buddy and we’re just going to go fishing or whatever it is.
Michael: So it’s just like we’re just a couple of people that are going to do this cool fishing trip thing together. Here’s what it’s going to take for all of us to go everybody in and organize your trip.
Jared: So, in the beginning, I did a bigger one. We took, like, 18 people down to the Amazon. And that was a real learning curve, right? So first of all…
Michael: That’s a big…
Jared: …never a group that big.
Michael: …event. I mean, that’s just a big thing to organize, in general, logistically.
Jared: It was. I mean, I partnered with an outfitter. Because I said, “Look, I’ll get the people there. You handle all the logistics and everything else.” And again, I’m not paying for anything. I’m just the organizer and the inviter.
Michael: Because everybody’s paying their own way. Just that’s the deal. You’re just the organizer that’s setting up this cool trip.
Jared: Exactly right. Yeah, I’m not… We call them plate lickers. I don’t need a bunch of plate lickers going on this trip and just for a free ride kind of thing and have no intention of ever speaking to me. But again, there’s nothing…I’m not doing logoed brochures and everything, saying, “Come on the Wilkerson & Reynolds bass fishing trip.” You know? None of that. I never mention it.
I do it just like I’m their hunting buddy or fishing buddy, organizing a trip for all of us to go on. But again, in the beginning, I tried to use some kind of celebrity appeal. So we did the Amazon. I did Alaska bear hunting and salmon fishing with another celebrity who was filming a show. And to me, I felt I needed that draw of the celebrity to really get the bigger prospects there and everything.
But then, I started to learn, I really don’t need that. And again, this is over time, right? So I started building up better clientele, larger clients and prospects.
Michael: Eventually people just know you actually do cool events, if you’re doing cool events. So the celebrity part, I would imagine, just downplays a little over time, as you get a reputation for organizing cool trips.
Jared: It did. It did. And so, the peacock bass fishing thing, local paper wrote an article about me and that kind of stuff. So then, locally, I started getting this. Because bass fishing is all over the country and that’s how I end up a decent amount of travel and all that kind of stuff. Technology is making that a lot easier. But then locally it started working and, like I said, then I started to shift over towards hunting.
And I went on kind of a crazy alligator hunt that went terribly wrong. Okay? But it made a great story, you know?
Michael: Not to be morbid, but I kind of have to ask. For those of us not in the hunting, fishing world, alligator trip gone horribly wrong usually means someone ends up inside the alligator.
Jared: It didn’t go that wrong.
Jared: It came very close to that. My dad called me said, “Hey, want to come down? We’re going alligator hunting. We got some tags.” I said, “Oh, fantastic.” And he said, I had never met this other guy, and he goes, “Hey, I’ve got a buddy that you should meet. He owns some companies and everything, but big fisherman, big hunter. You should invite him and see if he wants to go.” And so, literally, my first call to this guy is, “Hey, do you want to go alligator hunting with us?”
And he’s like, “When?” And I go, “Well, it’s actually next week.” So first of all, he’s got to be really spontaneous, but he says yes and so we go down and… I meet the guy in the airport for the first time ever and it’s like, “Hey, let’s go alligator hunting.” Well, the way they do it in Florida is you go all night long. Okay? So this was one of those get up at 4:00 to make the flight and all that kind of fun stuff.
And then, we’re going hunting all night long. Hunt all night long in southern Florida in August. There’s a couple of mosquitoes. It’s just miserable. We can’t find a big enough alligator, right? And then, when we finally do, the first time, the crossbow doesn’t work, we drop a rod with a big hook in the water. I mean, everything is going wrong. And then, we finally get one. And I got him beside the boat.
Because you shoot him with the crossbow, you reel him towards the boat. And then, we’re sitting there. He almost gets ahold of my friend’s foot, okay? The alligator actually splits the front of his boot with his tooth. And so we’re supposed to use what’s called a bang stick, which is like a stick with a rifle cartridge on the end of it. And you hit them right in the back of the head and it’s lights out.
Well, we’re with this guy that we thought was an alligator guide, but it wasn’t really an alligator guide. And his bang stick didn’t work. Okay? And you are not allowed to have firearms on the boat in Florida. And when they told me that before I went, I said, “I’m going to take a large knife.” Okay? Just in case.
Michael: Okay. So you now have to get into a knife fight with an alligator to save your prospect.
Jared: You know, that might be embellishing a little bit. But, I mean, at the end of the day, we’re looking at this guy, after the bang stick didn’t work and we had nothing else to assist with the alligator, and my buddy and I were both Missouri guys, look at each other, and I’m like, “Man, I’m going back to biology class. He’s got a spinal cord.” I said, “Let’s cut it.” I was like, this is all I know to do.
And so, yeah. It ended up being an alligator wrestling match, to be honest. And ended up harvesting him with a knife. Well, that story, when I got back here, I mean, just spread like wildfire, right? And I was like, “Wow, the bigger, more extreme the adventure, the better the story, the better the…” Your brand kind of starts getting out there and…
Michael: At least as long as you come back from them.
Jared: Yeah, exactly right. And I have no desire to go alligator hunting again, by the way. So I just started to see, “All right, I need to organize more of these things that are just out there. And I need to focus on the hunting side.” So now I go to the SHOT show each year, which is the shooting, hunting, and outdoor tradeshow, usually out in Vegas. And again, same thing. Giant show, public’s not allowed so it’s all industry, and you are walking around and going through, meeting everybody.
But again, you’re meeting the presidents of the companies and all of that kind of stuff. So, started focusing on the hunting side just like I would with the fishing. But one of the other things that kind of came about, like with that Amazon, or Alaska, or these bigger trips, even have done African safari and that kind of stuff, the problem was these were long, big trips. Right? I mean, Amazon is a two-week commitment.
And so, family guys, doctors, other things like that, they’re just like, they love fishing, they love the outdoors, but they can’t make that trip. You know, it’s too long. So we started saying, “Let’s orchestrate and come up with some shorter trips.” And so I have a client who has a charter service down on Marco Island. And so, we started an annual trip where, go down on Thursday, fish Friday, Saturday, back on Sunday.
You know, just quick, down, fish, back. And just started taking groups down there and doing things like that. It also spread more. So, again, tried and true through the trenches kind of thing, we’ve been through all the different kind of seminars and any way that’s out there that you could try and get a client, right? We’ve tried it. And we really started coming back to, number one, I want to work with my kind of people. Okay?
Especially the more you’re in this industry. And the fishing and the hunting, they’re all usually just similar. They’re my people. And so, then we said, “Instead of doing some client events and these seminars where people are coming for the free dinners and all this stuff, why don’t we just focus with these organizations that we really like?” Like a Ducks Unlimited, or Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, or the NRA, and things like that, where they have all these local banquets and events. So let’s go get a table there. You know?
I really don’t want to be a headline sponsor or anything. Because if I asked you the last charity event you went to, who was the headline sponsor, you probably don’t remember. I just want to be there, okay, and kind of working the crowd and talking to everybody. Anything dealing with that passion or that niche is where we have started to really support, from a charity standpoint, and just anything we can do in that industry.
How Jared Brings Up Business On His Trips [43:34]
Michael: So, help me understand. As you’re going down these…kind of the process of doing these events and, as memory serves, it was kind of part of Ron Carson’s passion prospecting approach back at the time. Like, you find some passion, some hobby, something you like doing. You find other people that do it. You try to put together client events or prospect events where people can come out and do this shared thing that you’re all into.
You’ve got the shared passion. That’s how you connect with them. You get your foot in the door. You get them out to know you. You begin forming the relationship. How did you ultimately turn it into business? Right? Because at some point, we still have to make this transition from, “Hey, wasn’t that an awesome thing with the alligator? Thank goodness we all survived that. By the way, I do 401(k) plans.”
Right? We still have to make that transition at some point. So, how do you get it back to the business when you’re doing this kind of shared passion event kind of marketing approach?
Jared: Sure. And I made that rule early on about not going after the business discussion, especially fishing-wise, because I’ve got them out in the boat and, all of a sudden, they’re trapped. They can’t go anywhere. And I’m sitting there going, “All right,” you know. I’m not going to bring it up. That’s cornering them and I don’t want to be known… Because if I get that reputation, like, “Oh, by the way. Don’t go on one of his trips because, man, it’s a hard sell.”
Michael: Right, right.
Jared: He doesn’t let you back off the water until you’ve said yes.
Michael: Once that word gets out, no one’s coming on your trips anymore. That’s that.
Jared: Exactly. I’m done. And it was interesting. When I went down to get that charter captain as a client, my dad and I went, and this charter captain go out on the boat. Again, my rule, I’m not bringing it up. We are out there on what was the hottest fishing day I’ve ever been in in my life. Okay? You didn’t take a drink of water. You drank the whole bottle each time. Dead calm, no wind, nothing.
Michael: Oh, God. I can just imagine you’re…
Jared: And we’re 60 miles off the coast.
Michael: … sitting and baking.
Jared: Oh, man. It was miserable. And we talked about every subject under the sun except what I did. And, I mean, it’s now time to go home. We’re beginning the journey back. And, I mean, I’m sitting there and I was still really young at the time, and I’m like, “Man, how do I do this?” I mean, we’re starting our way back here. This trip is coming to an end and he hasn’t said one word to me about business. This has never happened.
We’re coming back in and a storm cell moves in between us and land. And we’re in a 34-foot catamaran. And he’s like, “Well, we’ve got to go through it.” And I said, “Okay, I guess we will.” It’s a center console boat and I’m sitting back there with him, and we go through this storm. Torrential downpours, massive swells. I mean, there’s water coming over the boat. I mean, it’s just… I’m hanging on for dear life, just, like, I don’t care at this point.
I know I’m not getting business. Just get me home. You know? And he leans over in the middle of this. This guy used to be a Navy captain, so he’s just calm. And he leans over, and he goes, “So your dad says you might be able to help me out.” And I’m just like, “You pick now to be the time you want to have this conversation?” You know? So it did go through. And so I kind of, after that trip, said, “I need to… I can’t bring it up but I almost need to find a way that it’s going to be a topic or something.”
And so I’ve been a little better…
Michael: “I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but…” it just seems like, at some point, you do kind of have to get the conversation back there.
Jared: Exactly. So, a lot of times, it’s more of just a client story or something. Again, I’ve got a number of these trips under my belt now. So if I used the word client enough in just some conversation or whatever, they’re going to be compelled, like, “So, what do you do?”
Michael: So, what? So instead of, “Hey, you should have been on this trip we were on last month. We were out in this great alligator hunting thing.” Instead, it’s like, “Hey, you should have been on this thing from a couple of weeks ago. I was out with some of our clients on this alligator hunting thing,” and just sort of drop in there, like, “I have clients. Want to know what I do for them?”
Jared: Well, yeah. You’ve got to mention something client or if, in whatever the subject matter is that you’re talking about, you can relate a client to it. Like, “Yeah, I’ve got a client with a business in that industry.” You know? Or something like that. So, again, I didn’t bring up, “Hey, what do you do for a living? And I’d like to talk to you about what I do.” It was, “Oh, I’ve got a client in that industry. Do you know so-and-so?”
I mean, I’m just trying to connect some dots and get it at least closer to the topic, but I am not whipping out a projector and saying, “I’ve got a little slide show I want to show you here real quick.”
Michael: And so, now, having done this over the years, has your view around this changed? Do you still, like, strong policy, firm won’t sponsor, firm’s name is not on stuff? Like, “I’m only going to just subtly bring it up in conversation.” You’ve just gotten better at finding ways to bring it up subtly in conversation with years of experience doing this?
Jared: Yeah. My policy is still the same. I won’t bring it up. There’s going to be no logoed anything. Well, I say that. I do kind of provide some gifts every now and then, like a koozie or we did a South Dakota hunt last year so I had a nice mug, kind of a stainless steel nice coffee mug made up with our logo and the logo of the outfitter on there, and just gave one to everybody kind of thing.
So small things that do, maybe, have a logo like that. But I did that the first time, I went down to Argentina bird hunting, and I got invited with this group of guys, and I didn’t know one person going on here, except I had an acquaintance who just, out of the blue, he called me to invite me on this trip because he knew that I was kind of a big hunter and I traveled around far places. And to be honest, they just needed to fill a spot, okay?
And I said, “Well, sure.” Because I knew who the people on the trip were, but I didn’t know them. And I was like, “Absolutely.” This was some, what we would call around our city, some of the old money in town. And I said, “I really want to get involved with that.” And so I made hats. You know, I made duck hunting hats. And on the back of them, I engraved, like, 2010 Argentina trip, kind of deal.
Jared: Just gave everybody a hat.
Michael: Just something that now they’re aware that you guys do this.
Jared: Yeah, exactly. Now, the thing that I’ve gotten a lot better at is, so we just did helicopter hog hunt in Texas. And so, on that one, I really limit the number of people going. Again, I love small groups now. And it’s call one of my good clients, “Hey, by the way, do you know somebody who might be interested in doing something like this?” You know, everybody who is a fisherman or a hunter has the fisher or hunter buddy. Okay?
Michael: Or multiple.
Jared: And so, it’s not that difficult to get them to invite someone else to introduce you to. And same thing on this one. The people I took, one was a client. One of the others is now a client. And the other one really wants me to come meet with him to become a client. And so, and that was one where it wasn’t until the last morning, sitting around the TV, that the one guy that I had no idea who he was, who was coming on this trip, actually said to me, like, “Hey, I’d like to have you come take a look at our 401(k).” And again, it started with the 401(k) talk.
Michael: Right. So this bringing along the business owner and talking about their 401(k)s keeps being the door-opening angle now.
Jared: I just find it to be so much easier. I mean, I grew up a business owner my entire life. It’s all I’ve ever known, is being an employer. And so, I can connect and speak with them on that level. And usually, if it’s not 401(k)s, it’s taxes. And so those are…that’s all I talk about.
His Strategy For Event Follow-Ups To Get Business Meetings Scheduled [51:38]
Michael: Everybody loves to hate on taxes while sitting around for a couple hours fishing. It’s a good topic to hate on with some downtime. So, I am curious, though, just what comes next in actually getting to do business with people when it goes down this road, you’re trying to get there? Do you try to get to the end of a trip and have some commitment from someone by the end of a trip because thank God they finally brought up the conversation, you could talk a little and get to a 401(k) conversation?
Is it a goal of saying, “I want to schedule…? I want to have a commitment for a follow-up meeting from a prospect by the end of a trip?” Do you do follow-ups to them after the trip? Say, “Hey it was great meeting you and hopefully you’ll notice in my email signature that I do these other things,” and let them reply? How does the event follow-up work to try to actually get to appointment phase, where you finally make this transition from we’re not just fishing and hunting buddies now but we’re actually going to have a professional services prospect meeting?
Jared: Right. It’s become a little more of, I guess, natural now. But I turn and I start to focus on, during the trip, okay, goal number one, let’s get some business talk going at some point. Okay? I’m always relaxed about it and I’m never pushing it. But then, it’s also…because I’m also kind of sizing people up nowadays. Is this somebody I really want to work with? I went on a Mexico turkey hunting trip and there were a couple of guys on that trip that I was like, “No way. They’re not my people, okay? I don’t want to deal with these people.” So that happens.
Michael: I guess that’s the other good news of being out on the boat with them, or on a hunting trip with them, for an extended period of time. You get to figure out really quick, is this actually someone I want to be in a client relationship with for the next 3, 5, 7, 10 plus years?
Jared: Yeah. And I think that also kind of goes to some of my own personal rules on the trip. You know, look, just be a good guy. Right? Use your manners. Be polite. Be a gentleman. Do the right thing, always. Because while I’m sizing them up, they’re sizing me up, too. And so, I’m always focused on being that good guy. I mean, I went on a… This is golf, right, so changing the deal a little bit.
But down to Costa Rica with some guys that I never really knew. And it was nervous, because I’m like, “I don’t know these guys. I only know one guy in this whole group. We’ll just see how this goes.” Well, they gave us all Spanish names afterward, and mine was El Tranquilo Cazador. Okay? The quiet hunter. And I was like, “That’s perfect.” You know? So I’m not the loudmouth. I’m not obnoxious. There’s nothing detrimental about the quiet hunter.
So it’s just kind of my rule, be a good, likeable person, first of all. But then, we’re always talking about either, A, trips I’ve been on or other hunting stories. You know, hunting stories are abound in these things, and fishing stories, and everything. And so you’re always talking about this trip and that thing, and you’ve got your pictures on your phone, right, you’re going through. Well, it’s so easy to be like, “Well, you know, I set these things up, just like I did this trip. I set these other things up and I get these opportunities I come across from time to time. How about I call you for one?”
They’re like, “Yeah, man. I’d love it. That’d be great.” You know? And we kind of did that with the whole South Dakota hunting. It was, “Hey, this helicopter hog hunt is coming up.” I started reaching back out. You know? And the thing that I also found was, so some of these things either, A, people can’t do it just because of schedules, or this, or that, or it’s just not going to work out, this time of year, or whatever.
Well, just like that helicopter hunt, I think I went through about 20 people with the invites, okay, to end up with really 4 solid people on the trip. But what I did was, I built great rapport with the other 16. Because they’re like, “Man, thank you so much. I can’t go.”
Michael: If you’re into fishing and hunting, getting a call from a really cool trip that you can’t go on, still means you got a call about a really cool trip from someone you definitely want to stay in touch with, because this person organizes the cool trips.
Jared: Exactly right. And so I just, now, build this kind of Rolodex of clients and/or prospects. Because I’ll do it just with a prospect, say, here locally. Like, I know so-and-so. Because, again, I’ll be talking with somebody and they’re like, “You should talk to that guy. He’s a radiologist but, man, he’s a huge hunter.” And I’m like, “Well, then that’s my people. Let’s talk.” So I’ll even get referrals to people for these trips.
If I’m talking to the guy who cuts my hair. You know what I mean? I’ve gotten referrals from him on, “There’s this other guy who does this, owns this, and loves hunting, or loves fishing,” and that kind of thing.
Michael: Now, I’ve got to ask…
Jared: So again, it’s just that building that brand a little bit.
Michael: Does that also mean, as you get introduced to new people, there’s some prospecting recon that goes on for you, of, like, “Well, I just got introduced to this person who’s into hunting and it sounds like he’s pretty high up in a pretty big business. I’m going to try to get him out.” But this other person seems nice, not tied to anything that would realistically be a prospect for me, so I just don’t know if this is going to work out. We’ve only got so many seats on the trip. Is there a screening process at this point to who you try to bring out? Or you just kind of find out on the trip whether this person is actually going to be a qualified prospect or not?
Jared: Yeah, there definitely is, especially when I’m first organizing the trip. Because, I mean, I obviously want the best people there that I have. Either a very good client who’s going to speak highly about me, and our experience, and everything, or really good prospects, or, again, the really good clients that bring their friends, that kind of thing. So I am very selective when I first start the initial ask.
Now, if I start getting down to, “Hey, we’re two weeks out and I’ve got one more spot to fill…”
Michael: At some point, you fill the spot.
Jared: I kind of get to the point… Yeah, because I’m usually looking at it and going, “All right. I already got three really good prospects on this trip. Landing one of them is all I could really care… That would be perfect.” So I’ll just ask buddies or something like that, or clients who have done a lot of it with me and…
Michael: I mean, at some point, just you get to build and spread more goodwill in this community. Even people you can’t do business with can refer you to people you do business with, as long as you’re otherwise just justifying this trip and the time overall.
Jared: Right. The other thing that I try to really focus on is that I’m putting together a group of really fun people. Right? A lot of times it isn’t that difficult, but there have been times when I’ve been kind of doing that screening, and I’ll think of a guy. I’ll be like, “Oh, yeah.” And then I’m like, “No, because him and that guy, that’s not going to work out. I just can’t do that.” You know? And so I’ve kind of deselected people at times, just because I don’t want awkwardness and uncomfortableness.
Everybody wants to have a great time on this trip. I mean, this last one we just did, the texts…we had a text thread going kind of prior. You know, I introduce everybody via text. Everybody get to meet everybody kind of deal. And there starts to have some fun and jokes in that text thread. And then, afterwards, it really started coming through. These guys are like, “Man, that was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
And so, it kind of struck another chord that the more unique and kind of far out there or bucket list type adventures, I guess, you put together, the deeper the bond you get with that individual. Because you’ve now shared this thing that meant so much to them. Because even on that hog hunt, we had bad weather, and I was getting kind of worried, like, “Man, this isn’t the greatest experience because we’re dodging rainstorms and everything.”
And it’s just not smooth and going well. So I thought it wasn’t going to be this great of a thing, and I’m getting these texts from these other guys like, “That’s the coolest thing we’ve ever done in our life.”
An Overview Of His Firm As It Exists Today [59:38]
Michael: It’s that whole, like, bonds get formed in hardship and times of challenge, right? We actually, sometimes, get a little closer and more connected when there’s a little bit of stress and challenge on the line than if everything just goes perfectly smooth all the way through. So let me shift a little bit. Help me understand just how this is actually translated into the business. What does your advisory firm look like at this point, in terms of clients, or assets, or plans, or however you measure it?
Jared: Sure. So, you’ve got my partner and I are the main lead advisors. And then, we’ve got nine people inside of our firm. And we kind of take the mindset of there’s three people assigned to every client: a lead advisor, a servicing advisor, and a client service administrator. Dealing with, I want to say, right at about 297 households. Probably roughly around $160 million in assets in our management right now.
And it’s evolved over time. We’re very big in the retirement plan space. And that’s just a passion of mine. I really love it. Because, again, it’s all business owners and I can just speak their language. And then, the rest is the private wealth side. We are a planning firm, so planning first, second, and third. And we’re structured in financial planning…
Michael: From the Wadell Reed roots. I understand.
Jared: Exactly. I mean, it was all…it’s what I got my degree in. It just, it was everything. It’s planning. And so that’s all we’ve done. We’ve got three CFPs right now, and others working towards it. Then, two of the guys here and, really, one of the other advisors we just brought on, we’re the specialists on the retirement plan side. So we’ve got our Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor designations in that respect.
It’s, again, been a great side of the business. We’ve always looked at it as you get a lot of these retirement plans on the book and it’s happening now is, there’s not a week that goes by that there’s not some kind of clients, or referrals, or something coming from that side of the business and crossing over to the private wealth side.
Michael: Out of this $160 million of assets and just closing in on 300 total client households, how much of this came from bass fishing, and hunting, and this niche world versus just whatever else you’ve gotten pulled in over time?
Jared: Wow. You know, that’s going to be a tougher number to try and just get to because it’s evolved over time, right? It’s not like, “Oh, you came specifically from a referral from this or that. It’s the niche and, “Oh, we’ve been at those meetings together for Ducks Unlimited,” and then you’re on a committee.
Michael: Well, and understood. I mean, I guess just broadly. Like, how much of this business actually came from the niche that you’re in, and including the ways that’s evolved? First, just I’m assuming sometimes you’ve just got a client who refers a client and they have no relationship. You’ve got a partner. I don’t know how deep they’re in the space. You had your cold calling days before you got into the niche here. Like, is almost everybody, basically, somehow from this network and focus that you’ve built?
Jared: If I’m just totally guessing, I’m going to say it might be kind of 50/50. And so, that thing you’ve got to understand there is my partner, he’s 17 years older than I am and so he’s been doing this quite a bit longer than I have. And so he had a book that he came in or, you know, has grown himself and it’s all merged into one practice now. But so there is a lot of others, I guess, out there.
Michael: Okay. So most of your client base came from this world, but most of the…but the practice’s client base and the aggregate is more split because he’s got his own legacy of…
Jared: Yeah. But I think going forward, you’re seeing a lot more being, in some way, shape, or form, relatable to this niche, because he’s adopted it as well, right? I mean, we’re going to the same events and we’re doing things. We’ve done some of these trips together. I’m more focused on it. I do a lot more of them. It’s my connections and my people. You know? So I do a lot more of it. But as far as the companies and all that stuff that are coming from it, and around it, and everything, it’s definitely a bigger part of the practice going forward.
And again, it’s really started to evolve into a lot higher net worth clientele. I mean, it’s interesting when we sit here and, say, like those assets under management, and I’ve got things in the pipeline that are bigger than half our book. You know? So it’s just there’s this hockey stick growth curve going on right now, which is a fantastic problem to have.
Michael: And is that this hockey stick of growth curve that’s happening, is that just years of going into this niche, now, suddenly, you’re just getting referred further up the line, you’re just managing over time to network your way into much bigger prospects? Or is it coming from other places that’s picking up the growth cycle?
Jared: Yeah, I think the biggest part is what you said first there. It’s just I’ve worked my way up and now the level of clients are eight-figure, nine-figure level of clients as far as overall net worth and everything. And again, as long as I go take them, show them a great time and everything, birds of a feather flock together. So it just took time to kind of work the way up to the bigger level of clientele to take on these trips.
And it’s almost kind of like a glass ceiling there, because I was just thinking this these past couple of trips, where, wow, the prospects on these things, there’s no longer six-figure prospects anymore. They’re all much larger. And I think it’s just because of time and, at the same time, that’s just wealth in America, right? I mean, I remember when you first started out, a $100,000 account was a really big deal. You know?
And now, it’s like you’re going to need another comma, I’m sorry. You know? Again, great problem to have. So it’s just built up over time. I didn’t…everybody always wants the magic bullet, right? There was no silver bullet. There was no any one single thing that just all of a sudden broke into this massive success. There wasn’t one giant client that did everything for us. It is interesting when you peel back the onion layers of some advisory firms where you find that.
Where, oh, they got that one and that’s over half their book kind of thing. I honestly don’t ever want my practice to be tied to something that…with that much leverage in my practice. That would be scary. So, yeah, it’s just taken time and building into that circle and spheres of influence.
Michael: It is interesting to me, though, that the way you decided to evolve the expertise and how you eventually went deeper and opened more doors with clients. It sounds like you didn’t necessarily go down the path of, “I’ll be the best expert at telling you how to invest bass fishing tournament winnings. Come call me when you win.” Where you would tie directly to, “I’ll help you with the prize winnings. I’ll help you with the endorsement deals,” things like that.
You went this other route of saying, “Look, I’m ending out in front of not just bass fishermen who win tournaments and get some of those opportunities. But, even more bass fishermen who just have a lot of assets and disposable income and are really into fishing, and hunting, and gaming. So I’m going to become an expert in what actually matters to them financially, which is this 401(k) plan attached to their business. And we’ll simply let the shared passion around fishing, and hunting, and the rest be the common bond and the way we form the relationship that we then morph into a business one later.”
Jared: Yeah, exactly. Now, in the beginning, I mean, I did really… Because again, I thought this was…it was going to be the pros, right? So I really did focus everything on learning about how do the tournament winnings come in, what’s that look like, how could I tell them to shelter this, all this other stuff. And I mean…
Michael: You were actually in that early on.
Jared: Oh, yes. Yeah, because, I mean, again, I needed to know, “Hey, you just won the tournament. I know what you need to do.” You know? And I needed to tell my dad that, “Hey, by the way, if you’ve got a connection to him, tell him I know what he needs to do. I know how to shelter this,” and that kind of stuff. So it started out… And, I mean, I got in some weird meetings, too, where, I mean, I’ve negotiated TV contracts. You know?
And I just got…yeah, I got thrown in these meetings and I’m thinking to myself, “It’s going to become very apparent that I don’t know what I’m doing.” You know? But I just sat back, and it was kind of simple risk and reward, right? They wanted to give the client a short-term TV contract but wanted him to go spend all this money on new HD camera equipment, right?
And I’m sitting here going, “Wait a minute. That’s a lot of risk on my client. Nothing on you. You’re only giving a one-year term.” I said, “You need to come back to the table with greater terms.” And I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, I just negotiated a national TV contract.” So early on, I did get into that kind of stuff.
Michael: Once you’ve got 1000% more experience than the client you’re trying land.
Jared: That’s true. That’s true.
Michael: Like the saying, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Right? I mean, isn’t there some point, though? We all get that imposter syndrome moments, I think, from time-to-time. Like, does my client realize I don’t actually know that much about this thing that I’ve gotten pulled in on? But if you know more than they do, you can still add value.
If you just come to it with a sounder head and a better financial numeracy, sometimes that’s all it takes to be able to spot issues or highlight potential problems like this is a really crappy deal because you’re taking all the risk upfront with all these costs and they’re barely paying you anything on the back end in the short-term. You don’t have to be deep in TV contract distribution deals to understand all upfront risk and very little short-term payoff probably is not the best.
Jared: Right, right.
Michael: So where does it go from here?
Jared’s Plans For The Future [1:09:35]
Jared: You know, it’s an interesting question. So, this is, I think, going to be a year of kind of transition and pivoting a little bit. So, I’m finding myself working with a lot higher net worth people and I absolutely love the planning side. Growing up, I was the guy, I never wanted to pay retail for something, so I’d go find the way around to get a great deal somewhere. And so, planning, to me, is kind of that on steroids.
It’s finding the way to really make these things come to fruition through really advanced estate planning, and succession planning, and stuff. And so I’m beginning to push in that arena. Again, still with people connected, okay, but also, in that fishing arena, there are these mega private equity firms and everything that are gobbling up all the little companies. Okay? And so there’s a lot more liquidity events going on, in larger terms.
So being ready for those. And so we’re actually hiring one of your previous podcasters, Stephanie Bogan, to come in and kind of help us with that. Again, we’re experiencing fantastic growth. Everything is good. It’s really fighting for minutes in my days sometimes right now. And to kind of help us with that strategic next steps. I actually just signed up to get my certified private wealth advisor designation because I’m…
It’s not that I need a whole bunch of alphabet soup behind me. I just have this thirst for knowledge and when I read the course curriculum there were a few things in there that I’m like, “I don’t know what that is.” And I just…I love that. I have a passion for going for that planning and working on these just larger cases. So, I’m going to probably shift a little more there and continue to do these trips and everything.
But they’re going to continue to probably, A, be smaller, and more extreme. Just it’s the better clientele. And the interesting thing that happens, and this doesn’t necessarily make my wife happy, but almost in every one of these trips now, another trip gets planned. So I’m coming home and like, “How was the trip?” “Oh, it was fantastic. And by the way, in three months, I need to be gone again because there’s this thing.”
Michael: And now do you find that the timing and the cadence now, like, every couple months you’ll do three, or four, or five through the year, where you’re out days at a time, spaced months apart?
Jared: Yeah. It really is about getting a lot more selective on what I want to do. You know, I’m going in a couple weeks here, going to go down to Mexico for a different species of turkey. And some of these things, it takes a year in advance to plan them out. So it’s kind of… There may be the larger international trips that I’ll just earmark one or maybe two a year. And then the rest, I’ll do these, like, “Hey, let’s run down to Venice, Louisiana and go do some tuna fishing.”
Again, smaller. Like, go down on Thursday, fish Friday, Saturday, kind of thing. And then, in between there, you’ve got all your charity functions and things like that, that’ll be more local, that we’re going to be involved in. That, again, we’re just fortunate we get the referrals from those meetings and from those relationships. But you did mention one thing I want to go back to, as far as that recon of screening and everything.
You know, we’re really focused on trying to do a lot more of that when I do have either a client or a prospect jump in on LinkedIn. You know, who do you know? This, that. And try to be a little more proactive on the names, and just saying, “Hey, is so-and-so, are they a fisherman? Are they a hunter?” I am trying, and trying is the best way I could put it, to be a golfer. I despised it when I started out, because I just thought that’s the cliché, right? Every advisor golfs. And I was just like, “I’m not going to do that.” And it was just so that I couldn’t justify four hours out on the golf course away from the office. And so I’m trying to do a lot more of that. And it’s definitely making a lot more connections but, to be honest, what I’m using it for is to find out, “So you golf, but do you hunt and fish? I’ll meet you out there. Yeah, we’ll play a round of golf or whatever, and you’re going to kick my butt. But now let’s go hunting and let’s go fishing,”
It does allow me to redeem a little bit of self-esteem, too, because I kind of…I know what I’m doing there. I guess you could say I’m a scratch hunter or so.
What Jared Wishes He Had Known Sooner [1:13:54]
Michael: I like that. As you look back now over this trajectory of building of a niche and getting deeper, and then getting deeper, and then getting deeper, and now sort of seeing the hockey stick of growth start picking up as you move to the higher tiers within that space, I’m just wondering, as you look back, are there things that you wish you’d done differently in building this niche path? What do you know now about building it that works that you wish you’d known 10, 15 years ago when you were starting down this path?
Jared: I wish I would have realized to just…that kind of that passion prospecting, right? I wish I would have realized to just go deal with people who love the outdoors and hunting and fishing earlier. I’d have even more people that are just my people and I love meeting with. Because everybody, when you’re starting out, right, if they fog a mirror, you’re going to take them on as a client.
And time goes on, and there’s certain meetings, you see them on your calendar and you’re kind of like, “Oh, it’s so-and-so. Well, I know what that meeting is going to be like and I’m not going to really enjoy any of the conversation. But they’ve been around forever. They’ve been my client, and this, and that, so I’m going to… I like them as a person, but they’re not “my people” over here.”
And then, there’s the others that…in fact, I was just coordinating a meeting this week. And I said, “Hey, let’s go to lunch. We need to look at this, these other accounts. The first seven minutes will be about business and the rest is going to be about hunting and programs you’re using on your farm right now, that kind of stuff. By the way, your wife can join us for the first seven minutes.” So I’m definitely just… I wish I would have known to just make it about that passion.
But, you know, again, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And so I just was so focused at, “Oh, I’m going to work with pros and that’s all it’s going to be because I can fish.” You know? And first of all, there just…there wasn’t enough that were that good, that had the money. A little bit of a prerequisite to be a client, you know? And so, that would have sped things up, I guess.
Michael: So I guess part of it was, “I wish I’d focused in this niche earlier,” but then, also, “I wish I’d realized I had to evolve the niche as little earlier.” I sort of feel like it sounds like you have some regret that you went as deep with the pros before you expanded a little to say, “No, no. I really just want to be in people that share this love of this luxury sport who also happen to have some other businesses and assets, and opportunities.”
Jared: Right. And I wouldn’t use the word regret, just because I don’t live like that, but I think the main thing is could I have been maybe somewhere farther along or whatever? Maybe. But at the same time, I’m very happy. So that’s why I don’t regret it. I’m just saying, if you went back and said, “Hey, how would you do it over?” Well, everybody wants something faster and better, right?
So in that respect, I would have not been so pigeon-holed on professional bass fishermen in and of themselves for as long as I did. I still would have focused there to start, because it was the great in and the way to the industry. I just would have expanded into the passion side of it faster. I guess I needed to meet Ron Carson a little sooner than I did.
Michael: And there is, to me, an interesting…there’s a highlight and juxtaposition there, that on the one end, virtually all advisors that I know that have gone deep into a niche, the niche evolves over a span of years. Sometimes you craft a deeper expertise and it just sort of literally goes deeper in whoever you’re working with. Sometimes, you have scenarios that you have, I’d almost call like a lateral pivot. Like, I’m still in the space and this is still my niche, but I’m going to serve a slightly different segment within them, because I think I actually have a little more business opportunities, or it expands the circle of who I can work with a little more. But I’m still in the same community. I’m still building on the presence that I’ve already built. I’m just maybe aiming for a slightly different segment of the community.
But it usually still only works when you start more focused in the first place. Like, you’ve got to…you’ve still got to get known to begin with. And it’s hard to get known unless you’re all in and pretty focused. Because if you only show up half the time because you’re splitting your time somewhere else, now it takes five years and not three years because you don’t show up very much.
Jared: Very true. And with kids, and family, and commitments, and everything else, it does get harder to always make. I mean, I didn’t just make it to the Classic. I was almost scheduled there, and things didn’t line up, and I didn’t get to go. You know, probably missed some opportunities. That’s okay. I’ll go to ICAST and try and make them up.
Advice For Young Advisors Who Want To Balance Focusing On A Niche With The Need To Grow The Business [1:18:39]
Michael: So what advice would you give to young advisors or newer advisors that are trying to find this balance, right, of maybe I know a thing I want to go deeper into, but you just said it takes three years, which is 2.9 years longer than my contract will be validated, waiting to get business going. Right? Real world, we get these pressures when we’re getting started, particularly if you start out in a production client-facing role.
That’s why we all end up with this, starting out with the fog a mirror thing. What advice would you give to an advisor today to just try to figure out how do you balance this? How do you navigate it? How do you think about the competing demands or focus of, I’ve got to get me some clients going? I can’t wait three years like Jared just said. But man, this sounds good after three years.
Jared: Yeah, I think… So, and I talk about this when I go back and talk to the students. I say, “Listen, I don’t care what your background is, or your parents’ background, really. If you’re coming out of college, maybe you don’t have a whole lot of work experience or something along those lines.” But I said, “There’s things in your life that you know really well. And I’m not talking social media here. If your parents were chicken pluckers, all right, well there is an entire, massive industry around chickens, chicken plucking, chicken machines. I mean, backyard chickens. Everything, right?”
Michael: You actually just managed to one-up that you’re the bass fishermen niche guy, because you just set someone up to be the chicken plucker niche.
Jared: I hope so. And I hope I meet him someday.
Michael: That’s amazing. If you are that person, please contact us.
Jared: So, I tell the students, it doesn’t matter what your background is. Mine was fishing, okay? Never thought it would evolve to what it did, but it did. And so, the other key thing that I point out to them is, by the way, you can’t fake it. Okay? Because we were like, “Well, what other things are going on in our community? Let’s get theater tickets and let’s take clients to theaters that say they like the theater,” or whatever.
And I went and did that. One time, okay? Because it’s not for me. And I just sit there. I was like, “Well, first of all, I can’t really even talk to them. You know, so there’s no business being conducted here. And I don’t like this. This is not me.” So you’ve got to figure out what is it that I know really well and that I like to do that is, again, it’s that passion. What do you enjoy? And then, the other really deep marketing advice I give to the students is that I learned my marketing plan at four years old.
Okay? Growing up on the marina, fish where the fish are. Period. Now, what kind of fish do you want to catch? If I want to go catch bass or crappie, or walleye, I know where to go for that exactly kind of fish. It is no different in our world, okay. What kind of fish do you want to catch and how big do you want the fish to be? Then go fishing there.
Michael: You make a good point, that… Well, and, to me, one of the things that’s always been fascinating about prospecting, and niches, and sort of this fishing analogy, I’ve told the story, sometimes I feel like… So, if I look at the traditional advisors, marketing plan, I feel, it’s like they take a fishing net and they stand on the street corner and wait until something hits their net. And just kind of throw it out there and see if anything hits. Right?
That’s the classic advisor shotgun approach. And then, most of us don’t get enough clients from that, or not as many as we want. And so, the natural response, if you imagine literally holding a net in your hands and you’re not catching enough fish, most people tend to just take the net and try to stretch it wider so it covers more space, and hopefully more fish will hit it. And, of course, if you think about this literally, if you take a net and stretch it out to twice its size, all the holes get twice as big and all the fish just swim through.
If you really want to actually catch more fish, tighten up your fishing net and put it where the fish are. Right? Like, go find a stream where those fish are and put it right where they swim. And even in the context of what you’re talking about, of this world of small business owners, and obviously there’s a lot of dollars and wealth around small business owners. We’ve had advisor in the industry for years who’ve said, “I specialize in small business owners.”
But even when we go there, I feel like we do a lot of, “Well, I’m just going to stand on the street corner and put out my fishing net for small business owners.” Right? So I’ll go to local Chamber of Commerce meetings, like 47 other advisors who show up at the same thing. But you focus on business owners who have a passion around hunting and fishing. And you had to spend hours and hours of time inviting them on cool trips and spending deep relationship-building time with them because you’re going after a particular type. Right?
And even as you said, just go after small business owners who run chicken plucking businesses. I’ll bet you they’ve got their own association. And I’ll bet you you’re the only advisor who will ever show up at that association.
Jared: Right. And so, we have chickens at home. That’s why I kind of thought of the chicken thing, but I’m really thinking about getting honeybees. You know? So I’ve started my research to figure out…I’ve never kept bees in my life. I don’t know a thing about it. And I started looking and, sure enough, there’s the local beekeepers’ association. And not that I’m looking for another niche, but it did just stick out in my head.
I was like, “I bet you, in this entire organization, there’s probably not an advisor.” You know, so if I actually do attend some meetings of these beekeepers and everything else, there’s probably a chance I’ll get clients from it. Because it’s just…it doesn’t matter what your passion is or interests are, you just need to be genuine with it. Because if you’re not genuine, they’re going to find out you’re a fake.
And so that’s a key point. Don’t, just because you think, and golf is really mine, “Yeah, there’s a lot of money in golf. A lot of people play it,” and all this other stuff. It’s pretty obvious I can’t fake being good at golf. So it’s out there and I’ve just self-admittedly, I’m not a golfer. But let’s go fishing. And so I’ll use it to get introductions, but I’m not faking it. I really would love to be a better golfer, but it takes a lot of time.
And so, I think that’s probably the biggest thing is, you’ve got to enjoy what you’re doing. And, I mean, a little bit of, by default, there better be some money in that industry, because that’s kind of what made me go away from the individual pros, was there’s not enough here. I can’t get every single one of them to say yes to me. I knew that. And so, and there’s not enough of that specific of a niche to support a practice over my lifetime. So you have to change. You have to evolve.
Michael: But it didn’t take you much of a lot of room. It’s not like you said, “Oh, forget it. Then I’m not going to bass fishing anymore. I’m just going to jump to beekeeping now and we’ll see how that goes.” You just shifted to, okay, then we’ll just look at the broader range of people who are really into this passion of fishing. Oh, it turns out a small percentage of them have some really large businesses. Let’s talk about those.
What Surprised Him The Most About Building His Business [1:25:54]
So from the business end, what surprised you most about trying to actually build this into an advisory business?
Jared: I guess it was interesting how… I kind of feel like a glorified travel agent sometimes.
Michael: You are organizing all these trips.
Jared: Yeah, I am. And sometimes I’ll use outfitters and stuff to just kind of help. Because that was the other thing is, I didn’t ever want to… I wanted to be on the same level as the other people I’m coming in with, right? I didn’t want to be the outfitter. I wanted to be, “Hey, I know a guy who’s going to set up the trip. But remember, I’m on your guys’ level. Okay? I’m one of you. We’re friends. We’re here for this experience of catching the fish or hunting the animal or whatever.”
I didn’t need to be the guide. In fact, I don’t want to be the guide. Because then, if it’s a bad experience hunting or fishing, which you really don’t always control, I don’t need them looking at me like, “Oh, man. You’re not a very good fishing guide. Probably aren’t very good with money.” Right? I mean, you don’t want any kind of association like that. So I’m always adamant that I’m on their side with them.
Michael: Now, it just becomes, like, “Hey, remember that trip we did where we had a horrible guide that took that cool thing we organized and made it really crappy?” Like, that’s our bonding.
Jared: Now we shared that experience, yeah. We bonded. We shared that experience. It was horrible. I hated paying for that, but it is what it is. We all understand. Remember, hunters and fishers understand. That’s why it’s hunting and fishing, not killing and catching. So I’m trying to think, other surprises is I kind of thought, again, just because of reading in the industry and everything, that I was going to have to do a lot of things that I didn’t really enjoy necessarily, kind of throughout this industry, early on at least.
Like, I’m going to have to do these seminars. I’m going to have to do these things. Because that’s what everybody’s done, and that’s what worked, and that’s how they got clients. And so, in a great surprising way, we don’t do any of that now. And it’s so interesting meeting…you meet with a wholesaler or whatever, which I’ve tried to do more less of, but they always come and go, “Well, I’ve got great client event ideas for you.” I’m like, “No, you don’t.”
Michael: Not compared to mine.
Jared: Yeah. I’m like, “Well, first of all, let’s talk about a client event, because mine’s probably more fun.”
Michael: Has anybody ever killed an alligator on one of your client events?
Jared: Yeah. You know? And yours are going to be this general thing, invite whoever can come, or whoever you got off a lead list, or something like that. And I always went back to, if I were searching for a financial advisor, how would I do it? I am not…probably, I’m going to go to successful people, that’s just me, and I’m going to ask them, “Hey, who do you use for this?” It’s how I’ve gotten my attorneys, and real estate advisors of my own, and everything. Same way.
So I just, I always looked at it and said, “Well, if I wouldn’t go find my own advisor with that method, I don’t want to do that method, because I don’t believe in it and I’m just not going to like it. And I didn’t.
Michael: Well, and it does strike me, from that context, that you’re deep into this niche and networking around, and organizing these events, and doing this cool stuff for marketing, but…and I don’t mean this in a negative way, but your website as advisor is not, like, “Welcome bass fishermen.” You’ve got a fairly standard, typical, advisor website. And here’s the planning services we do. And here’s the credentials we have.
It just sort of feels, in looking at it, you’re not even necessarily trying to bring them in through the website. You’re bringing them in very literally through passion prospecting, the events, the networking, the stuff you’re doing in person in this community.
Jared: Well, you hit a great point there. And so, in front of my desk here, that I’m staring at, is a giant glass board. And under the practice, the very first to-do is the website.
Michael: Yeah. So is it coming? Is it going to be, welcome bass fishermen? Welcome all fishermen?
Jared: It’s not going to be welcome bass fishermen. But we are going to put a lot more… Look, we recognize where the success is coming from. And so…and, but again, you are right. It’s through word of mouth and through personal introductions. It typically has not been through just a website search. And we all know that’s changing. Everybody Googles us now first. So our first goal, we went hybrid RA a couple years ago and everything, so the first goal was redo the website, make it compliant, get it up, go back to work.
It’s that time where we’re coming back around, because we actually have to change our whole provider now, and so it’s a total, giant rework that is literally kicking off right now. And I’ve actually told my team that’s going to be doing that, “Look, mine, specifically, like, my bio and everything, and more of the site, has got to be geared more towards these passions. And this high net worth planning that is becoming a lot more of what I’m doing.”
Because I even asked my partner here, locally, “Hey, if I said, ‘Who is the high net worth attorneys, planners, or whatever in this city, who do you think of?'” And it was like, “Wow, maybe there’s one estate planning attorney I might think of who’s kind of known nationally.” But outside of that, no one. And I’m like, “Let’s go fishing where the fish are.” There’s a good opportunity there.
And so we are. We’re totally reworking the website. Thanks for pouring that salt in the wound a little bit there.
Michael: Oh, no. I didn’t mean to pour salt in the wound.
Jared: No, I’m just kidding.
Michael: It was just, finding that challenge. And I would presume you, similarly, still have to have this awkward conversation that’s you’ve got a partner who didn’t necessarily build in that niche. So even if he’s all in on it with you now, you guys are, or least his side, in particular, would presumably have a whole bunch of clients that are not in the niche, who are still clients of the firm that are going to come to the website.
Jared: Right. And so, it is. It’s a balancing act. Because we can’t alienate anybody. You know, we recognize who our clients are and that they got us here. So we’re not going to alienate anyone. It’s just, I do want… I want it to be more inclusive around that whole kind of outdoors theme. And it may not necessarily be the first landing page that it’s all over, but if you’re specifically researching me, then in my bio, my side of that, it’s going to have more directly related to that.
Michael: Which I guess makes sense in a world where… I mean, I can’t imagine anybody typing into Google, 401(k) expert who also bass fishes. That’s not how you’re going to get them. But you can easily have a world of someone in the community mentions you, so people do what they do now, they go on Google and they try to check you out. At least, now, when they hit your website, they hit your bio, it’s like, “Oh, Jared specializes in working in the bass fishing community. Okay, this is my…” Like, right, your prospects then say, “He’s my people.”
Jared: And there’s things like, okay, so I’ve done, like I mentioned, some of those photo shoots with me and a fish, or things like that. And it’s always, all right, should at least my head shot be more of that? You know? And I kind of think so. But then you’re like, “All right, do I alienate somebody or do…?” You know, I don’t want to lose or not get the starting with a great client or prospect because maybe they don’t.
I mean, it’s not that I won’t handle other people. It’s just that this way has worked so well for me and I love it. But I do have the people that aren’t, you know, big fishermen or outdoors. Those conversations are typically a lot more business, weather, and sports. It’s usually just that those are the conversations that’s over on that kind of side.
Jared’s Low Point [1:33:41]
Michael: So is, as you look back, what was the low point for you?
Jared: So I share that one with the students, too. So when we first started out, I got a great education and they brought professionals in to come speak to us, in the fact that it’s tough starting out. Really tough. And so, I went into real estate at the same time, so when I was really starting, my wife was still in school, I had bought a duplex and I was living in one side, renting out the other.
And we had done everything possible to get our monthly living expenses down to about $125 a month. Okay? So she was working part-time at a preschool while she’s still in school. And so, it was like, if I brought home a zero-dollar paycheck, we’re going to be okay. And I tell the students, my smallest paycheck, and this was for a two-week period, was $25. And so I told them, “Think about that.”
Let’s really think about that. You get your paycheck and it’s $25. And you’re immediately like, “Well, I’m not doing anything but eating peanut butter and jelly now.” You know, for a couple weeks. And so, that is where I was sitting there like, “All right.” Some of my friends went and got the corporate jobs and they’re making pretty good money. They’re working 80 hours a week kind of stuff, and I’m working a lot, but man, I’m trying to be this believer that it’s down the road where it’s all coming in.
And I had a college professor, one of my most favorite ones, who just drilled it into my head with delayed gratification. And so it helped me make it through that kind of low period of time, so to speak. Because, again, I started in March of ’02. These are not great time to talk to people about investing money. So if I could get somebody to sign up for $50 a month to put into an IRA, that was a good day.
So it was tough. I would say somewhere right around in there was kind of that low point where it just didn’t seem like a lot was going right, and I kind of just had to keep the faith, so to speak.
Michael: It’s a brutal time for anyone and everyone that starts in the business. At least if you start down the getting clients from day one route. Now, at least, there are more firms that will hire you into paraplanner or associate advisor type roles, where you can sit second chair, you can support, you can get some client experience, and a stable paycheck, and not an obligation to go get clients or prospects from day one.
But when you’re getting started almost 20 years ago, like, that was still virtually how it was done. And for everyone. And it was pretty miserable for everyone. Even the survivors that did well, it’s pretty miserable for everyone in the first few years of trying to start your practice, especially when you do it from scratch straight out of school.
Jared: Well, and I… You know, I remember those days. And I think about that. I’m like, “How would I do it today?” Because I cannot fathom how I did it. It would not even remotely work. I mean, just the cold calling, ordering a lead list, and starting down. We’ve all got those just horror stories of houses you went to for a meeting. You know, I’d take a meeting anywhere kind of thing. And I do. And I tell the students that.
I’m like, “Listen, find a smaller independent firm. Get a paraplanner job.” And I kind of tell them, “Listen, if out there in the industry, if that first couple of interviews, if it seems like you’re getting sold how great of a place this is to work and how much money you’re going to make, okay, I would be very leery about taking a position there because it’s probably that mentality of take the whole class, throw them against the wall, and see who sticks.” Versus, if it seems more like an interrogation, at a smaller firm, that’s probably the job you want.
Michael: That’s a good point, given the industry’s terrible history. Like, the easier it is to get the job, the more likely it’s a sales job. The harder it is to get the job, the more likely it is they’re actually going to put you to work on constructive things.
Jared: Right, right. And make a deal with, maybe, the partners of the firm. And I would use ours as an example. That, “Hey, look. If you’re going to go ask people to invest money with you who’ve been saving money longer than you’ve been alive, okay.” And so they’re going to be like, “Well, that’s cute. Come talk to me when you’ve got a little experience.” So why not make a deal with the partners of the firm and say, “Listen, guys. I’m going to bring in clients. I want them earmarked as mine later on down the road, when I’m ready to be a big boy advisor.”
And so now, you’re just saying, “Look, they trust you because you’re family, or friend, or whatever, and you’ve got a good reputation. But you’re introducing them to your firm, who’s got all the credentials, and experience, and history.” To me, that’s a winning formula of being able to bring on the family and friends in an easier format. Versus if you go that other route where it’s everybody just gets thrown against the wall.
Well, you bring on your clients and you sell them a policy, or you do something. Then, all of a sudden, you’re gone. You switch firms because it was not a great experience, and now your family left and you burned that bridge. I mean, that’s not a great way to get started in this industry.
How Jared Defines Success [1:38:48]
Michael: So, as we wrap up, this is a podcast about successful advisors, and one of the things we always find is just, like, the word success and what people are shooting for varies a lot from one advisor to the next. And so, you built this successful business. You built successfully into this niche that, as you said, now is scaling the hockey stick of growth to the next level. How do you define success for yourself at this point?
Jared: Hm, great question. One that I will be dealing with Stephanie a lot on. I think the big thing… So, I am not a recognition guy. You know, like the sales award. And even the sales trips, like the vacations or the reward trips. Because I’m usually like, “Well, I kind of think I design better vacations myself anyways.” And all I do is picture… Anytime like, “Oh, hey. You hit this sales achievement and we’re sending you a plaque and all this other stuff.”
I simply picture the donkey with the stick and the carrot. And I’m like, “It’s not me, man.” So I literally throw them away. I do not keep them. They’re not hanging on my office anywhere. I don’t have the love me wall. I’m just not that guy. For me, success, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot because I know Stephanie is going to ask me, is I want to do what I want, when I want, for however long I want. That, to me, is the ultimate success. Okay? And so that’s how I’m going to try and focus that.
Michael: I want to do what I want, when I want, for however long I want.
Jared: Because I think if you’re getting up, and you’re coming into this office, and you are dreading something, that’s not success. That’s work. And that’s a four-letter word. And so, it just… And I think, right now, I love what I do. But I’m not having… There’s a lot of days, I mean, you look at my calendar, and it’s back-to-back, nonstop, all week long. I love to come in early, but then I’m taking away from family time.
You know, that family is extremely important to me. I did grow up with my father kind of gone quite a bit. He traveled a lot. And so one of my things was, I can’t do that. Now, I do have to travel, but I’ll make it to my kid’s play in the middle of the day, at the school kind of thing. I’ll do anything it takes to be there. And I do what’s called a one-and-only trip, thank you, Ron Carson, for that idea, too, with the kids.
And so, my thing and my personal mission statement is to be a loving husband and a great father while staying true to my personal and professional goals. If I’m finding that balance in all of that, that’s success. It’s no more about the money. You know, when you start out in this industry, people think, “Oh, it’s about the money. I’m going to make a bunch of money,” and all this stuff. I know people with a lot of money who are not happy at all.
And so, I want the balance. That, to me, is success. I like the growth. I really am focused on trying to go out and buy some practices. I mean, we all know the statistics. Average age of the advisor, one-man shop, all that stuff. Huge opportunity for somebody like me. You know? Getting ready to turn the big 4-0 this year. But in so many ways, I feel like I have just gotten started and have just begun to hit my stride.
Feel like I actually know what I’m doing. So I think that’s… My focus is just that great balance. I love to travel. I love to spend time with my family and doing these things. And as my boys are getting older, you know, take them on these fishing trips. Because, believe me, they see Dad go do this stuff and it’s like, “Dad, when do I get to go to the Amazon?” You know? I want to educate them real world like that, and spend that kind of time with them.
But I’m that guy. If I’m away from this office, there’s this…and this is my mother’s work ethic in me, I have this issue that I need to…I should be there. I’m missing something. Something’s not going the way that I need it. It’s getting a lot better. I’m a control freak. That’s pretty obvious. But it’s getting much better because I’ve got the right people in the right place, doing the right thing here on this team. And I could not even come close to doing this without them.
Michael: Well, very cool. Thank you for joining us and sharing that. I just love that success statement. I just want to be able to do what I want, when I want, for however long I want.
Jared: I think that’s freedom, right there.
Michael: Yeah. Well, thank you. Thank you for joining us here on the Financial Advisor Success podcast, and telling your story, Jared.
Jared: Yeah, well, my pleasure. Thanks for listening.