Welcome back to the 211th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!
My guest on today’s podcast is Kristin Harad. Kristin is the founder of her eponymous marketing consulting firm for advisors, with a particular focus on both helping to coach solo advisors to the next level and providing outsourced CMO services to midsize RIAs. What’s unique about Kristin, though, is that she isn’t only a marketing consultant to advisors, but spent eight years building her own independent advisory firm, which she launched from scratch and had an incredibly fast growth start to nearly $200,000 of financial planning fee revenue alone in barely three years, and of course, grew even further in the years that followed all from applying her advisor marketing principles first and foremost to herself, and now she’s built a consulting business to teach others to do the same.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about how Kristin’s background in consumer marketing with a focus on building brand loyalty and retention programs provided a foundation for her to launch and market her own advisory firm. Why Kristin chose from the start to focus in on a niche before she even figured out what to call the firm or how to structure her services. The way Kristin’s clear focus on a particular target market of new and expecting parents and dual-income households in San Francisco gave her opportunities to market in an extremely cost-effective way. And the way Kristin marketed and offered ‘welcome’ kits to her prospects before their first meeting with her, to make it easier to convince them to work with her, as someone who wasn’t naturally inclined toward sales herself. We also talked about Kristin’s journey through the advisory industry, how her work in consumer marketing at large financial services firms from Chase Manhattan Bank to Charles Schwab built her initial awareness of the financial advisor industry.
Why it was an interest in life coaching that ended up being Kristin’s initial pathway to deciding to launch her own advisory firm. How Kristin overcame the unexpected career challenges that arose when she made the personal life decision to give her children a chance to live in a foreign country and had to uproot her own business in the process. And why in the end, Kristin’s passion for advisor marketing ultimately led her to transition her clients to the other advisor she recruited into her firm so that she could focus her full time on coaching other advisors in their marketing instead.
And be certain to listen to the end where Kristin shares her tips on how advisors can find the right target market to focus on when they’re not sure which one to pursue. The ways that a strong and persistent marketing process can make it easier for those who otherwise struggle with their sales process, and why once again selecting her own clear target market to work with, now in her advisor marketing business, is allowing Kristin to have her best business year ever in 2020 despite the turmoil of the pandemic.
So whether you’re interested in learning about how Kristin found her niche of working with new mothers, the challenges that arose from moving her family and business to a foreign country, or the cost-effective marketing strategy she used to attract her target clients, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast.
What You’ll Learn In This Podcast Episode
- How Kristin Got Started In Marketing [06:30]
- Kristin’s Transition Into Direct Advertising [12:34]
- What Inspired Kristin To Launch Her Own Advisory Firm [24:03]
- The Launch of VitaVie Financial Planning And How Kristin Found Her Niche [35:34]
- How Kristin Marketed Her Firm [45:08]
- Kristin’s Shift From Owning An RIA To Consulting With Advisors [57:52]
- Kristin’s Reentry Plan For Moving Back To The US [01:10:49]
- What Kristin’s Marketing Consulting Business Looks Like Today [01:17:05]
- What Surprised Kristin The Most About Marketing And Building An Advisory Firm, The Low Point In Her Journey, And How She Got Over The Fear Of “Selling” [01:24:24]
- The Advice That Kristin Would Give Newer Advisors, What Comes Next For Her, And How She Defines “Success” For Herself [01:34:45]
Resources Featured In This Episode:
- Kristin Harad
- Kristin Harad (Company Page)
- Build your financial advisor marketing plan
- The 7 Essential Elements of a Financial Advisor Marketing Plan
- Kristin’s VitaVie Service Overview One-Pager
- Kristin’s Get Into Action Bulletin Board
- Beyond Maxi-Marketing by Stan Rapp
- Grey Advertising
- Lean Startup by Eric Ries
Michael: Welcome, Kristin Harad, to the “Financial Advisor Success Podcast.”
Kristin: Thanks, Michael. It’s great to be here.
Michael: I’m excited about today’s episode and to get to talk a little bit more about marketing, which has kind of been a theme that we’ve been covering over a number of the recent episodes in the podcast, I think, in part just because it’s kind of a topic du jour in our advisor world right now. All the things we used to do to market – or at least many of the things we used to do to market – kind of broke when suddenly you couldn’t go in person to networking meetings or client appreciation events and all the things that we’ve done historically.
And for a lot of advisory firms, that either means reinventing their marketing – or just inventing their marketing – because we didn’t necessarily maybe have a marketing system before, we just networked and went to centers of influence meetings and gathered client referrals more passively and now, suddenly, that doesn’t work quite as well as it used and we have to start doing our marketing for the first time.
And I know you have an interesting journey around this, both as someone who came into the advisor industry and built an advisory firm from scratch and had some pretty quick and rapid growth early on and in part from marketing well because you had a bit of a marketing background, and then transitioning to being focused on marketing consulting with advisors. And as I’m sure you know as well, there are actually not a lot of marketing consultants for advisors that have actually been advisors and built their own firms and literally did it for themselves and also help teach and explain to other advisors how to do it.
And so, the fact that you have lived both of those perspectives makes me really excited to talk today about the dynamics of marketing and how you think through some of that stuff based on, not just what you talk to advisors about, but literally what you did. You built your advisory firm coming in cold without necessarily having a natural market and industry background saying, “Okay, I’m going to hang my shingle, I guess we’ve got to get this going somehow.”
Kristin: Right, exactly. And I do think many years later, now looking back, that has been absolutely, ridiculously beneficial for me and for my clients and being able to say, “You know what, actually, I remember when I was in that situation,” or, “Here’s how I handled that situation when it came up,” or, “It might be a little different today, but I know the same concept still applies.” So, there’s no question that having had that experience has given me a unique perspective on how to approach marketing for advisors, so I’m very appreciative of having gone through that.
Michael: So, we’ll get to talk a lot in a few minutes about the marketing work you do now, including some of what you’re seeing in practice as advisory firms all over the country adapt to the pandemic environment. But I’d love to start by just understanding the journey of the advisory firm and what it’s like as you came into the industry and started doing this from scratch. Where were you coming from? What brought you into the advisor world? And what was that initial kind of journey and creation story of saying, “I’m going to be an advisor and launch my own firm?
How Kristin Got Started In Marketing [06:30]
Kristin: Yes, exactly. A good question and I’m probably going to have to journey a bit back more in time to set the foundation for what made that pivot happen. The pivot happened in 2005 – end of 2005 – early 2006. To date myself, I graduated from college in ’93, so – that’s 1993, everyone – and so, I had a whole career before I moved into starting my own firm. And it started out of the gate from…I was recruited from college to go to Chase Manhattan Bank at the time, which is now JP Morgan Chase, to be in one of those training programs where you’re with 13 other college grads and we rotate through different product marketing rotations and you learn about the business. So, I was in a marketing position there, very product marketing focused.
Michael: So, you were coming in, in a marketing context, not necessarily like a finance and economics context, into Chase Manhattan. You were coming to a marketing context of, “Okay, well, if you’re going to market around here, you’ve got to learn all the different products and things that we offer here at Chase Manhattan Bank, so we’re going to rotate you through some of the divisions in the companies so you can start seeing the stuff we offer so that eventually you can figure out how you’re going to market and sell it.”
Kristin: Correct. And I was on the institutional side, so talk about dry, but interesting…and I didn’t even know what that meant when I went there. I had studied marketing in undergrad, I got a Bachelor of Science in economics with a concentration in marketing, so I was super fascinated by marketing and then…
Michael: So, you did actually have that kind of intersection, like econ major with a concentration in marketing ended out in finance firm and marketing world, so this was kind of aligned at least on that side.
Kristin: And I went to the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton undergrad, which is known for recruiting…known for its finance programs, really, and recruiting as Wall Street analysts, so a lot of people were getting recruited and going into that. I was in the minority that studied marketing there and wanted to get…I really wanted to get into advertising and marketing and your P&G brand marketing jobs were the big ones coming out of there and different ones. So, I did that, but while I was there, I was bored out of my mind. I mean, I had great colleagues, and I liked the people.
Michael: Because you were still in trainee mode and it took a long time to get through all the training stuff or you’re already doing marketing and were like, “Oh, shoot, maybe this isn’t what I want to do.”
Kristin: Well, and it was institutional trust services, and it was cash management and lots of things. I’m like, “I’m not even understanding what this is. I thought I was going to get to work on something more consumer-focused.” Or I thought I didn’t care, I guess, while I was there and then as I was there, I started reading this book by Stan Rapp. He founded Rapp Collins, a direct marketing agency in New York. And it was a book called “Beyond MaxiMarketing,” and I think he had written a previous book that was called “MaxiMarketing.”
But this was called “Beyond MaxiMarketing” and I remember distinctly sitting at my desk there and kind of sneaking it under my desk and reading and taking it to my lunch breaks and reading. Because this was back when it was very structured, the corporate world was just a whole different thing, so you’re like, “Okay, well, when I go on my lunch, I’ll take this with me, and I will go and read this.” And in that, I just had the light bulb go off because he was talking about a shift from mass marketing to an individualized approach where you put the customer interests first.
And he had a concept called ‘caring and daring’, which was around caring about what the customer wanted and then daring to do something creative about it. And perhaps the most interesting thing to me on that was this focus on total relationship management, which ultimately became the theme of my approach and my work in marketing over the next decade and a half and even up to today. But I was so entranced by this idea of direct marketing, which was about individualized marketing based on what you know about a consumer and creating an experience that would make them fall in love with you and want to stay with you and then ultimately refer you.
So, I was really drawn into that. And he had different examples in the book, and the only one I can remember was Harley Davidson and how they inspired everyone to drive their Harleys down and come to this annual event. And he talked about what it took to build a loyal base, and I was like, “This. I want to do this.” So, it was very exciting.
Michael: And again, we have to put this in context because a lot of marketing today takes this approach, but in the mid-1990s when you’re reading this, this is revolutionary in that context because everything is big billboard advertising, big media advertising.
Kristin: Television. Yeah, it was all about the glamor of television and big ads.
Michael: I guess we had just launched MTV, but we were mostly still on three or four TV stations for most people in most areas. We all watched a couple of shows with a couple of ads.
Kristin: Right, right. And magazine ads and newspaper – everything – like you were doing ads. And so, luckily, I started looking for a new job which was to my father’s dismay because I had a decent and nice corporate job. And then I was like, “I’m going to go work in advertising,” and he was like, “They’re fly-by-night, you’re going to lose your job, why are you doing this?”
Kristin’s Transition Into Direct Advertising [12:34]
Kristin: Yeah, exactly, and he didn’t understand it or know it. So, I interviewed around, and I found this position at Grey Direct. So, Grey Advertising at the time – and I don’t know where it stands today – was the largest advertising agency in the country. So, they had an arm called Gray Direct Marketing, and they happened to have the Chase Manhattan consumer brands account, which was an easy in for me to be able to apply for the job, right? It was like assistant account executive.
Michael: Okay, so you didn’t necessarily get referred in by the fact that you have…
Kristin: Oh, not at all.
Michael: “I know they have this account, at least I can say I’m from the inside, maybe that gives me a little bit of a leg in.”
Kristin: Yes, and I wasn’t even working on the consumer brands, but I was at Chase Manhattan. So, early on, I was able to position it and say, “Look…”
Michael: It was on your business card account.
Kristin: Yeah, “Here’s my Chase card.” Yes. And so, I got that job pretty easily. Of course, in my memory, it may have been a lot more stressful at the time, and so I came in and I loved it. And we weren’t even at the main headquarters of Grey Advertising, which was not even on Madison Avenue, but it was this giant building on 3rd Avenue, down by Smith & Wollensky, if you’ve ever been in New York.
We did mailers that had complex test matrices for testing different intro rates or all kinds of features. And do we put the intro rate on the outside cover? Or do we talk about a benefit? Or how do you design our envelope?
Michael: So, you’re doing sophisticated A/B testing when these weren’t just clicks of a mouse button, this was literally like, “I’m going to put 10,000 with this envelope and 10,000 with this envelope, and then we’ll see how many replied to the envelope that we mailed.”
Kristin: And I think, to your point, it’s so important that people understand that at the time, it was all about the TV ad, right? Like, which commercial was coming on, and that was the glamor and the fun, and then I’d be like, “Oh, I’m at Grey Direct, we do mailing.”
Michael: “We send postcards to people, they’re awesome.”
Kristin: Yeah, and print ads. And our print ads were for home equity lines of credit, and so it was like… I remember sitting in focus group testing and showing, “Is it more appealing that you use your home equity line of credit to pay for education or to do a home remodel or consolidate debt?” I forget each of the things, but that’s what I would have done today if I were thinking about it, pre- the tax change. But we would test the ads and did it work? And so, all of the detail behind direct marketing – how do we prompt an action from a consumer to get them to engage? So, it taught me quite a lot.
And then I also, while I was there, started working on the launch of Rogaine over-the-counter. So, it was getting approved by the FDA – the hair regrowth treatment that you may know from the pharmacy and The Upjohn Company. And so, there I learned all about activation, retention, and loyalty marketing because it was all about having to teach compliance with using the product. So, you had to be…once they bought the product off the shelf, we had a card inside the box, because again, the internet wasn’t happening yet.
Michael: I guess we had made Netscape, but nobody really knew how to use it yet.
Kristin: Boxes of Rogaine were on the shelves, and then we had a card inside there to sign up for the loyalty program, the rewards program, right? And so, someone had to fill out the card and send it in, much like you’d go to a landing page now and hit submit, right? So, you’d fill out the card and send it in, and then we had these mailings that we would send out, and we’d send out monthly mailings – Month 1, 2, and 3, and then across the first six months because you needed to use the product for at least four months to see results, and if you didn’t use the product correctly, it wasn’t going to work.
So, in credit card marketing, we call it ‘activation’ because we want you to not only apply and get the card but to actually use it, right? So, activation marketing, and then in this it was ‘activation’ or in the pharmaceutical world, we’d call it ‘compliance’, right? Trying to get someone to comply with the usage of it so they can get the results.
Michael: So you framed this as activation, retention, and loyalty? I guess, can you help just sort of define what these are, I guess, how they are separate? The way you’re defining ‘activation’, like, “I want to make sure you do it and stick with it,” I think is how some of us would kind of think about retention or loyalty, but those seem to be different pieces.
Kristin: Well, ‘activation’ is really the initial use of a product, right? So, in terms of a credit card, you can be sent a credit card, but if you don’t actually use it…
Michael: They don’t get a scrape of my stop, so it’s not working, right?
Kristin: Right, they can retain you as a customer, as in you still have the card, but you’re not using it. And then in the Rogaine world, it’s like, “Well, you could dabble but if you don’t follow…” As one would say, it’s also education of use – ‘activation’ was really a credit card term or a finance term. But it was really, “If we don’t get you using the product right away and using it correctly, it’s not going to help you.”
It’s kind of like in the financial advisor world, if people say, “Yes, I want to work with you,” and then you can’t get them to get their documents uploaded to the vault, right, so that you can start to do the work and you have to keep nagging them like, “I need this statement. I need this information.” It’s like if they don’t give you any of that input, you can’t deliver the service to them, right? So, it’s the same thing, it’s like, “We need you to be doing this correctly and engaging from the start to be able to make the progress you want.”
Michael: Which I think has, as I’m sure you’ll talk about soon, like, interesting parallels when you get into our advisor world that I think has a lot of the same phenomenon of prospective clients may reach out for a lot of reasons and kind of say they’re interested in advice and doing something. But actually getting them to the finish line of doing something, I guess, ‘activation’ in the credit card context, ‘implementation’ in the advisor context, is actually a big deal. We all have our share of clients who seem super enthusiastic, and they were all excited, and they came on board, and then they never actually followed through on their plan to do anything.
Kristin: Right. Yes, there’s the piece of not following through on the plan, and then there’s the kind of pre-client phase where it’s the lead-to-client situation of like, “How do we take them from being a lead to getting them to actually become a client?” And so, that same concept of conversion, but that idea of retention marketing and ongoing communication from the time someone expressed interest in your product, to then being able to continually communicate and interact with them so that they can experience the value of your service is what I was learning at the time.
“If you want someone engaged in using your product,” so they bought the Rogaine, they signed up, “if they don’t engage and use it over and over again, then they’re not going to see the results and they won’t buy again.” Right? So, we mailed them every month a package, a very ornate welcome kit package with…the initial was a welcome kit, and it talked about these different things. And then there were follow-up pieces, each with their own messages and elements, and it was a multi-piece mailing that we got – it was very expensive, right? And that would go out over time.
And then I think about it tying into the financial planning world, it’s the idea of now someone raises their hand and says, “Hey, I’m interested mildly. I’ve downloaded something from your website. I put my email in, I’ve signed up for a webinar,” how is it that you are continuing to engage with that person over time so that they then realize the value of what you have to offer and move deeper into the relationship? So, it’s really about starting to build that trust, helping someone find results, helping them move into the relationship.
So, it’s different when you’re marketing a product, obviously, versus a service. But the fundamentals of thinking about marketing as the entirety of “What is your brand? What do you stand for? What is the key consumer insight that we know about people that we’re going to hone in on and focus on so that we have a very specific target audience?”
That was the strategic element that I learned at Grey that we had to sit down and figure out before every single…every new client and then every single campaign we did. We’d have to fill out this one-pager – a creative brief – that was what’s the objective? What is the key consumer insight that we know? And who is the target audience that we want to reach? What is the key consumer insight, and what does that mean for our messaging, and how will we deliver on that? So, that has stuck with me until today, as well as the idea that I read about from Stan Rapp that was carried through in the whole direct marketing.
People always think about it as just getting the name and building the list as being direct marketing. Like someone, formerly, they would call a certain type of certain extension in when they…or call a phone number with a certain extension, and we would track it back to that extension. Of course, now online, it’s so easy to track where people are coming from and what they’re about. But so many, even advisors today, think of marketing as only the acquisition element, right?
Only the: “I need to get more people calling my firm,” and the idea being that, “All of my marketing, when I talk about marketing, it means that front end, creating awareness,” when marketing is the total relationship management from brand to acquisition to activation to retention to loyalty to brand ambassador… loyalty that’s so deep that they’ll be an ambassador for your brand. And too often in advisor marketing, I think that’s one of the biggest problems I see is that people go, “Okay, I just need to get more people coming to me,” and they forget that marketing actually carries the whole way through, especially in a sales cycle like a financial plan or asset management. It’s not just, “Oh, let me buy that product off the shelf,” it’s a long cycle.
What Inspired Kristin To Launch Her Own Advisory Firm [24:03]
Kristin: Oh, yes, good question. Yeah, so I was obviously very passionate about marketing; I was very interested in it. And then I was living in New York City, and I decided I wanted to move before I got too bitter – I had been there three-some years. And so, I started interviewing – I had visited California, and then I decided I wanted to live in San Francisco – so I started interviewing out in California and got a job with an ad agency out here where I live now. And they moved me across the country and I was there just a few months before a job opened up at Schwab.
And I had interviewed with Schwab as well. I wanted to work in their in-house ad agency called CRS – which is Charles Schwab’s initials – and I wanted to work there, but they didn’t have any openings, so I took this other job and then kept networking and meeting with people at Schwab, and the job opened up so I moved over there in just a few months and worked in the in-house ad agency for Charles Schwab. So, that’s where I started getting really into personal finance. Obviously, from Grey, I did that, but now I was within Charles Schwab, so everything was about that world.
Michael: And you’re in San Francisco, so you are right there at Schwab HQ.
Kristin: Oh, at the headquarters, yes. Fascinating. And I never met Chuck Schwab, but I met Dave Patrick, who was, I think, at some point took over CEO but he and I were in an elevator together once and I was like, “Okay, this is weird. Hello?” You kind of picture the corporate structure. It was a little more relaxed because we were in California, but you definitely felt the seriousness of it.
Michael: But you knew who is who, and you get the gravitas of the situation.
Kristin: Yes, yes. But the fascinating thing about when I was there was that we did…the Roth IRA had just become a thing, right? And I was working with the web end of the business, so we were developing the website and developing tools for the advisors to use and developing tools for consumers too. And we did the Roth IRA analyzer – so you compare your traditional IRA with a Roth and which one made sense – you’d put in your information and then it would tell you which one you should do.
So, that was fascinating to me and gave me good insight into…I had some interaction with the advisors and the advisory world. And then my other end of things was working on mutual funds and developing pieces to explain the different mutual funds and how we present them, so I’d work with that department as well, and I was really interested in the personal finance end of it and just the way it worked. So, that was an illuminating world but then I didn’t go anywhere with it because then I left to join the internet start-up that was…
Michael: Because you were in San Francisco, near Silicon Valley, in the late 1990s, in the tech boom, and in marketing.
Kristin: Exactly. And honestly, I hate to say this because I respect greatly the Charles Schwab brand and the company, and it was very kind and welcoming, but it was too corporate and too structured, and I always had this draw of being more entrepreneurial and it was…I didn’t want to be there. And it wasn’t for lack of anything other than, probably, that it was not entrepreneurial enough. It was too defined, too specific, and that’s why I went and I joined a startup there. It’s called mypoints.com now, it’s an online loyalty program and still in business today, which is a good thing.
Michael: It was a survivor, wow.
Kristin: Oh, I know. That was actually some additional incredible marketing training.
Michael: Now, you’re really into the first generation of purely online advertising for a purely online business.
Kristin: It was fantastic, yes. And it was all about… people would give an email list and then we would send this thing called Bonus Mail where you would get points every time you shopped at our vendors, right? Which everyone does now, but at the time, it wasn’t as prolific. And so, we had all these partnerships with all these different companies to be able to do that. But here, again, I worked in retention.
I was the director of member experience, so I defined ‘what is the experience once someone becomes a client’, right? As they are engaging with the website, converting, and then what is that experience? And then, how do we deepen their loyalty and segment them and figure out which offers make more sense for one group versus the other, based on what they’ve been doing? And so, I also was in charge of the brand and championing the brand, and how do we make sure the brand is reinforced at all of the outlets of whatever we’re doing, right?
Again, I reinforced that…because I had so much focus on retention and loyalty and creating the client experience, when I did end up starting a financial planning firm, my RIA, I was worried because I was like, “I actually am not…I’m not one of the acquisition people, right?” The acquisition people were very outgoing, they were the sales types, they were the like, “Anything I can do to get a lead” kind of people, the life-of-the-party types who are out there and like, “And then I’m going to be here, and I’m going to make this connection and do that,” and that really wasn’t my deal, right?
The coolest part, probably, was we would be buying up other companies. So, we’d buy up…I can’t remember the name now. Oh, this one called, like, Cyber Gold. We bought their company and so then we had to integrate their database with our database. So it was all about how do we map the fields and match the data? And what’s the brand message and how do we change the logo? Or do we change it? Or how do we change the messaging? So, it’s really fascinating from the database end of things as well as brand messaging and getting that across.
Kristin: Yeah, it was really fascinating work. And, probably, it sort of bubbled up to be the most fascinating when we were then bought by United Airlines. So, we were bought by United Airlines, which was just…when you think of marketing and loyalty programs, where else do you want to be, right, but an airline?
Michael: Yeah, airlines have long been the ultimate in building loyalty programs. And so, then what led you ultimately away from the marketing world that you…you’re going from now, you’re at a mega-national global brand and then suddenly not long thereafter, you’re hanging your shingle.
Kristin: Yes, yes. So, then the internet bust happened, right? So, my husband had had his own company that had done okay, and he was able…but he was able to exit it at a time right near the, I would say, like 2002. And I was kind of like, “All right, I’m ready for something new,” because I was getting antsy and he was wrapping up. So, we took a year off and traveled, which was outstanding. But during that year off, I was really thinking, “What do I want to do? Because I really want to do something different.” And I decided I wanted to become a life coach, right? Because I’d always been interested in the whole life and people and helping people. Yeah, I know, this is a windy tale.
Michael: It’s part of our journeys. We become the sum of our experiences.
Kristin: I know, I’m like, “You asked the question,” but it’s a windy, windy tale, but ultimately…so I came back from the year off. Fortuitously, we were looking into Craigslist for the jobs available because neither of us was employed and I was like, ‘Okay, what do I want to do?” And there was a marketing manager position available at The Coaches Training Institute, which is one of the leading life coaching schools. And here in Northern California, we have four of them here, you know? So, I was like, “How is that possible that there’s a marketing manager job?”
And I had already taken some of their coursework, just kind of weekend stuff on the side. And so, I got that job, and at the same time, Mitchell, my husband, and I had been working with a financial planner, a woman from American Express, and she was doing a financial plan for us. We had never done one before and she was doing it. And I, of course, was the geeky client who came in with my balance sheet already drawn up for her to show her because I just happen to find it interesting.
And I’m practically going, “Okay, well, how do you figure out the retirement?” And I was fascinated by her. She was a CFP, and I was like, “This is fascinating, how did you get into this?” And so, I started asking her about it and she told me about the program at Berkeley and I was like, “This could be a better application of…” It’d be kind of marrying my personal finance interest, right? I’d always been interested in personal finance, with me wanting to be a life coach, but actually applying it to another type of position.
So, I dove into learning about that and took the survey course at UC Berkeley. I did that at night, and then I was like, “Yes, this is what I want to do.” And to fast forward a bit, then life happened, I had a baby, blah-blah-blah. Had a baby, had another job change before I started my shingle because I was pregnant, and then that job was really kind of very manager, very tactical and executional, and I had kind of developed to becoming more strategic. So, that’s when I finally got to a point where I was like, “I’m out of here.” I took my classes at night to be able to qualify to sit for the CFP exam, but I hadn’t even done that. I didn’t even know how to do an RIA or anything, I was just like, “I’m going to start my own financial planning company.” And I had been studying it and learned from my advisor and some other people and I eventually quit that job and just got an office and printed a business card and put my name on that said, “Financial planner.”
And the whole thing was people were like, “Well, did you work at another one?” I’m like, “No, I was done working for other people.” I hated asking if I could take a vacation. I hated saying, “I need an hour off so I can go to the dentist”, I didn’t like having to do things in a certain way at a certain time for certain people, and I was fed up with it and I knew I wanted to go and help people directly. So, I set up VitaVie Financial Planning and hung my shingle.
Michael: So, help me understand, what was the plan? What was the approach as you’re saying like,” I’m going to come and start an advisory firm,” but you’ve got all of this deep, focused marketing background of finding people and connecting with them and activating them or retaining them and building loyalty? I mean, I can certainly see the parallels to trying to get clients and market to them and bring them in and then make them become clients and stick with you for the long run. Certainly, the parallels are there. We are a relationship-driven business with a lot of relationship-oriented marketing. But you also had no background, no industry experience – at least not advisory experience. So, what was the plan? What was the launch? What did you do?
The Launch of VitaVie Financial Planning And How Kristin Found Her Niche [35:34]
Kristin: Yeah, so essentially…and it’s so interesting because now with your XYPN and all this, it’s so thoughtful and people have the resources and they can…I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, frankly. I knew how to write a financial plan. I knew what I was interested in, and I thought about it, when I went to them, I said, “I’m going to set up a financial planning firm that’s really focused, that’s really structured like a coaching firm, and the deliverable is a financial plan and then essentially support for implementing that in terms of coaching and having sort of a membership-based program after someone did the financial plan with me.”
Michael: And that’s going to specifically be part of the model and the structure as well? Like, “I’m going to charge upfront for a plan and then charge on an ongoing basis.”
Kristin: Charge an ongoing membership fee or subscription basis as you talk about it today. So, I never ever had an interest in managing money. That was never what I wanted to do. I didn’t want that responsibility, I didn’t find…the interesting part to me was saying, “What are the possibilities in someone’s life? What are they afraid to go after? What are they afraid to do? What is it that they feel is…that’s a dream of theirs that they want to feel empowered to do? And how can their money help them get there?” Right?
So, how can they align their finances with their dreams, which many, many, many people, right, in our industry – especially in the individual space, in the independent space – have that motivation to help people around the whole life, the holistic look. So, this was my life coach thing coming back in, right? So, I’m saying, “Okay, but now I can tangibly give them a way to do that. I can help them understand their money. I can give them a plan. I can show them the impact of different choices, and I can support them along the way and help them as they’re making these adjustments.”
And I also knew that I wanted to help people who were like me, and at the time, I was in my 30s with my first child, and frankly, that shock of switching from being a partner to becoming a parent was devastating to me, overwhelming, like many people. And I just felt, “Wow, I really want to help people like me with their money.”
Michael: So, feeling just all the pain and dynamics from working a career on your own, to now, “I’m a mother as well,” and taking time out and maternity leave and going back and balancing work and young children, just all of that, all of the stuff that went with that.
Kristin: And then there was an underlying buzz that I, again, maybe didn’t see at the time, but I saw as I started working with people, which was helping people who felt like there was something else or different they wanted to do, like start a business or have an entrepreneurial life because I was very drawn to being an entrepreneur and being in charge of my own future and running my own business.
So, I wanted to enable people to make that shift, so I kind of looked at the overlay of…and I find when people had a baby, they’re pressed with the question of, “Should I go back to work? Should I continue my career?” And so, when I drilled down, it was like, okay…well, let’s back up and say, when I looked and said, “Okay, I’m going to have this firm.” The first question I said to myself is like, “Who is it for? Who am I trying to attract in? What is my target audience?”
I, honest to God, do not know how people start RIAs and don’t know who their audience is. I’m like, “Well, how is it that you know what to do with your time every day to get the word out about yourself if you don’t know who you’re trying to attract in?” It blew my mind from the beginning that you wouldn’t think, “What’s your niche? So, who do you do that for?”
Michael: So, talk about that a little bit more, because I’m sure now as you’ve lived into the industry in nearly 15 years since you made this transition, almost no one actually starts out of the gate saying like, “Who’s my niche target audience?” Either we start generalist and stay generalist, or we start generalist and it’s like, “Yeah, maybe when I get big, I’ll go get more focused later but right now, I just have to work with anybody I can possibly talk to.”
Kristin: Right, no, that was never…I mean, the way I looked at it, I just said, “Okay, I’m starting a company. I want to do financial plans. Okay, hold on, let me think about…” Immediately, I thought, “Well, what’s my marketing plan?” And you cannot do a marketing plan if you don’t know who you want to attract in, right? And then I was like, “Well, you’ve got to name the company, so is it related to the business? And what’s the look and feel and how’s it going to work?”
And none of those things…I’m dumbfounded to this day where people go, “Okay, which marketing should I do?” I’m like, “I don’t know, who do we want to attract in?” So, to me, the way that you look at a business is to then say, “Okay, I’m setting up the business,” whatever, all the mechanics of setting up the business, but then, “All right, now I need to get people in the door, what do I have to do?” First, I have to name who that is. So, for me, it was new and expectant parents and families with young children.
So, either someone who had just found out that they were planning to get pregnant, up to they had at least one child under the age of five at home. So, that was the new parent niche, right? Over time, I started drilling down to be…when I set my profile of who I wanted to go after, I was like, “Well, it’s probably female; it’s probably the mom.” And then, I looked and said, “Okay, well, I could go all over the Bay Area or all over the country, but I’ll focus on San Francisco because I’m already connected to all of the outlets here,” right?
And then I honed in on things like, “What am I most interested in?” I’m most interested in that trade-off of, “Should I go back to work or should I stay home?” Because these are a lot of highly educated women here who put their career on hold or don’t know what they’re going to do, and frankly, I had gone through that too. And so, I kind of had the avatar, if you will, of who I wanted to attract in and I started thinking about, “Well, what are the issues they have to face?”
And so, I went through each element of the financial plan and said, “Okay, income and expense planning, what are the general questions and fears and aspirations that people have? Okay, estate planning, investment management…” all the different parts of a plan, and I put together a one-pager that says, “Hey, I can do a financial plan for you, and these are the questions that we’ll answer.” And it had, I don’t know, 40 questions on there of each part of the plan and what are the fears and aspirational questions that people have around that.
Michael: The whole idea being like…the one-pager that you put together and the questions that you put on there that you said you’ll answer, this isn’t just, “We do retirement planning and estate planning and investment management,” and serve all those broad-based category labels that we have out there. This was now getting really specific to your new and expectant mothers with young children and trying to figure out whether they’re going to go back to work or not.
Kristin: Exactly, exactly. And so, I would say, when I started…of course, the message was to the couple as a whole, but the type of questions I put in there were a balance of kind of left and right brain, so they’re more like, “Do we need a trust? And what should we be thinking about for our will? How do I pick a guardian for my child?” And then other ones might be like, “How can we take a vacation that doesn’t involve visiting parents? Can we afford for me to stay home?” Or, “What would it cost for me to get to work?” All those different things. But interestingly, I saw that on the sort of acquisition side of things…I mean, on the branding side, I said, “Okay, I got to name my firm,” and I named it VitaVie Financial Planning because I didn’t want to name it after myself because you don’t want to attach to the individual which many people do.
But nonetheless, I created a name, and the name is essentially…it was capital V-I-T-A, which is Italian for life, and then capital V-I-E, which is French for life. And so, I kept the two capital V’s and that word went together because it was about two lives coming together – two independent lives coming together – to form a family. And then, I use the foreign names as an inspiration…a lot of the people that I work with are in the Bay Area, they’re couples who are dual-income working, who are getting into that phase of having babies, are very into travel and world exploration and all those things.
So, that’s why I used the foreign words as sort of an element of dream and aspiration and places we like to visit. So, that was my name, I came up with it, and then had a logo created and all those different things. But along the way…I didn’t do all that first, I think I started my…my entity name is Broderick Street Partners, LLC., and I think my first client was signed on under that brand because I hadn’t come up with a name yet. But I was like, “Well, I got to get out there and start getting some business, so I’ll just use this name for now.” And I didn’t have a website yet.
Michael: So, help us understand more of just how you got going. I mean, you said you’re not the “get out there and sell,” or work-the-streets type. You’re launching from scratch, you’ve got this particular group you want to go after, but you have to go after them and you’re…
Kristin: And you have to ultimately get them to come, right?
How Kristin Marketed Her Firm [45:08]
Kristin: Right, exactly. So, I never thought of myself as a salesperson, I’ve only ever thought of myself as a marketing person. And the difference between a salesperson and a marketing person is usually quite stark in that a salesperson will just go out and do stuff and then a marketing person plans everything out. So, I sat down, and I created my marketing plan and then I said, “Okay, of course, I focused first on the lead-to-client part,” I built out my welcome kit so that I have something to send.
I had that going while I also concurrently said, “Where are all the places where I can find people and I need to get in front of them?” So, like I said, I ran print ads in every newsletter for all of the moms’ newsletters in the area, so across the city, there’s a number of different groups. So, I ran ads for every issue over a year at least, more than a year, but I did that.
Michael: What does that cost? What does that take?
Kristin: It wasn’t much at all. It was hundreds of dollars for the year. A full-page ad or a half-page ad, but it was something that every mother looked at.
Michael: I mean, these are small moms’ newsletters, this is like…they just wanted to sell an ad so someone can cover the printing cost so they can mail this to all the other moms.
Kristin: But they were 100% on target, you know? So, 100% on target, where I’m putting my name out there and showing a woman holding a baby kind of looking distressed around like, “Huh, this is what it’s like to be a mom, what about the rest of things?” I mean, I would say I did get calls off of that, I’d have the prop for a free consultation. Over time, I learned that the better call to action was a lower hurdle such as, “Come to my event. I’ll be hosting an event on this day and sign up for the workshop.”
And so, I started switching from the higher hurdle of schedule a consultation, which is a big leap unless someone’s exactly on point, but it still had the dual benefit of brand awareness, right, creating awareness, to being like, “Join me for my workshop with estate planning attorneys so-and-so where we’ll be talking about these new parent issues,” boom, boom, boom, and that worked really well.
Michael: But I think it also makes just an interesting point that when you get this level of specificity upfront in who you’re going after, you get to look in interesting places to find them that most people won’t necessarily go, which is what got you down to, “I’m plastering in my name in all the moms’ newsletters around San Francisco, and I’m actually getting great brand awareness and great ads directly in front of the people who I want to work with, and it’s costing me a few hundred bucks a year for getting ad exposure all year because I’m so targeted, no one else is there, no one else is advertising.” I guess, not only not competing with other advisors, not competing with much of anyone at all because they’re just trying to sell an ad for a few hundred bucks.
Kristin: Yeah, it’s mostly like baby services, like night nurses or food. Now I think it’s gotten way different. I think it’s a whole different world there now, but still, the opportunity exists, it’s just different, right? They might have a blog or an online thing. And then I would contribute articles too. So I would write articles and send them to the newsletter and say, “Hey, can you publish these?” Because, again, blogs, online, not as popular at the time. However, over time, there started to be more of that.
I even did some banner ads, but I learned…and again, banner ads – I wouldn’t do today, but banner ads then, I did. And the banner ad for an event will work or a free download. A banner ad for a consultation? No. And today, I would still say that. Put the lowest hurdle offer out there that you can put out there. So, I mean, I gain traction. I’ve done a lot of workshops, a lot of partnering with other professionals. This estate planning attorney and I teamed up, and we were strategic partners. It wasn’t just, “Hey, let’s do one workshop together.”
We’d look at the whole year and map it out and be like, “Here, let’s do it this time, this time, and this time.” We got lists, we sent postcards, we made sure we were getting in the speaking circuit at the moms’ group, all of the sort of offline things you would do there. And then, I also had on my website, I had a lead magnet.
And I also had an online sign up for a consultation, so people would submit and send in…I’d get an email and then I’d have a process of following up with them. And if they didn’t respond, I’d follow-up two more times, and then put them on the email list, and then I’d send out regular emails with stories and reflections and articles and things like that over time. And it was really about identifying where are the new parents and getting myself out there.
Michael: And so, as you dug into this kind of narrow but deep marketing strategy, how did it go? I mean, how long did it take you to get some traction and get some clients to get some revenue going?
Kristin: Well, once I got that first person in and kind of proved to myself that, “Hey, I actually can sell something,” and got some more confidence behind that, then it’s sort of picking up pretty quickly from there just because I was starting…some of the dominoes are falling of me having put myself out there. I’d add a few more clients, but I was able to get the planning revenue – and again, this was all just fee-for-plan plus then ongoing membership, as I called it – to just under 200,000 in less than three years, which was, I thought, a pretty good go for me being by myself.
Michael: Yeah, I mean, that’s a…well, a lot of advisory firms that have been going 10-plus years don’t necessarily do $200,000 of planning fees. Maybe we get there because we’re accumulating some assets and getting some rollovers and at some point, it starts recurring and building. But straight planning fees, that’s a big number from scratch in three years with no background.
Kristin: Actually, I’m going to amend because I said ‘by myself’ but I did start adding…I had another advisor who started working for me, I want to say, two years in? Three years in? No, 2008…
Michael: Another person to help you market and grow? Or another person that handles all these clients because you’re actually getting clients.
Kristin: So, at first, she was supporting me writing plans. So, as I was getting people coming in; she did the back. She was newer to the industry. She wanted to get in. I said, “I need help with the plan writing, so once you learn how to do the plans, then we can deepen that out.” And so, after…she was great. She did the plans behind the scenes for me part-time, she was also a stay-at-home/former financial person who was looking to transition into the industry.
So, she worked behind the scenes for a while, and then she became a revenue generator. Like, she wanted to get her own clients in. So, we ended up structuring a piece where it was like, “Okay, if I originate the lead and you do the plan, you get X percent of the fee, and then if you originate the lead and handle the relationship, you just pay me a portion of the fee for using the brand and the infrastructure and all those things.” So, that’s when I was able to scale up to the higher numbers. But on my own, it was probably a little over 100. And then, when she was there, that was just incremental revenue for me.
Michael: Right. Well, and I guess it starts to speak as well to what happens when you get focused into something so specific, like you went out attracting other people who also care about that thing and want to be part of it, right? You didn’t get any old advisor to join you and try to help you build the business and bring in clients in this area, you got one that is directly in the niche you’re serving who cared about what you’re doing because you’re directly in that space and connecting to her life and what she was dealing with as well.
Kristin: Right, right. In fact, she contacted me when I was on maternity leave with my second child, which I had my second child while I had the firm and I took a whole six weeks off because once the second time around, I was like, “Oh, I want to get back to work,” and I remember having my little baby with me. She had contacted me and I believe probably off of one of the Marin mothers’ groups that I had been advertising in and participating in. And she was like, “I want to get into the field,” and I was like, “Well, great, I need some help.”
And so, for a while, she just kind of interned, right? And then we formalized it so that once she got really good at it, she was like “I’m going to…” She’d start bringing in some clients, and I’m like, “Great,” and then we set it up so that she could essentially benefit financially from bringing in the clients. And so, that was really good for a long time. She was fantastic at work. She has her own firm now and she…she had her CFP and she ended up starting her own firm taking some of these clients with her, which was totally welcome because I was then getting ready to move to Sydney.
So, there’s a lot of time in there, but she did end up going and doing her own thing and still thriving today, which is great. So, it was a key piece because I also added another advisor in there who was also a mother who was wanting to return to the workforce and get her CFP. And she worked as well for me and she was down…she happened to be down in Palo Alto…or Menlo Park, so she was in the southern Bay Area, and then the first person was in Marin.
Michael: So, the firm keeps building and expanding its geographic footprint and you’re focusing into its niche of who it’s serving because all these different people now are getting attracted in and they’re like, “Oh, you do the thing I care about, and I’m interested and I want to be a part of that as well.”
Kristin: Yes, it was fascinating. Yes, because now I’m like, “Great, now I have an ‘office’ down in Palo Alto and Menlo Park,” because she would meet with people down there. And so, it was really interesting how it grew and developed. Kind of while that was going on from 2006 to…I ended up having the firm, I think, up through the end of maybe 2013 – ’14 was probably the last time I talked to clients. But from the point of 2010 onward, I started just dabbling in training advisors, mainly because someone called me from the Journal of Financial Planning and asked me about “how do I pick my niche?”
And I started talking about it, talking about marketing and picking a niche and all this. And I was so enthusiastic and so excited to talk to this woman, I talked to her for like an hour, and I was so energized by it that I was like, “Huh, that’s interesting,” because I couldn’t run away fast enough from the marketing world because I was like, “No, I need to impact people’s lives, so I need to change the world in this way.” I was stunned by how excited I was talking about marketing.
And then I eventually decide…yeah, I had enough advisors calling me then and asking me about, “How do I pick my niche? What do I do?” What should they do for marketing? That I put together a six-week teleseminar class, a teleclass, on how to pick a niche. It was called “Go Small to Go Big,” and it was six one-hour sessions or something where you signed up and you took the class. I charged a small amount. We did the sessions, and I recorded them. And in the end, I pitched, “Hey, if you are interested, we can do some one-on-one coaching.”
And some people signed up, so I did some one-on-one coaching with advisors on the side. And then I had those recordings, so I was like, “Well, I should probably package them up because I bet other advisors would pay for this,” right? So, I created a product and sold it as…I had a landing page and people signed up for the six-week course and then they were prompted to sign up for coaching. And so, that was kind of happening in the background. And I would kind of ebb and flow, I’d kind of do some of that work and then I’ll be like, “No, I’m too busy with financial planning, I can’t do this, it’s taking up too much time,” but it was in the background happening.
Kristin’s Shift From Owning An RIA To Consulting With Advisors [57:52]
Kristin: Yes. Oh, yes. The timeline is a little murky but – fast forward – I had gotten more into essentially doing more and more training with advisors; I was overlapping between my RIA and the training of advisors. And I just sort of winding down doing RIA work because I was getting more business on the other side and I was thinking, “I can’t do both. I’ve got to pick one.” And it was killing me, I was working around the clock trying to juggle two things and I was like, “All right, I’m going to consciously choose to shift from the RIA to doing training for advisors.”
And I had developed, in the meantime, another video class that advisors could take, and so I was putting these things together. Meanwhile, in the parallel path in my personal life, my husband and I had set a goal…I don’t even know exactly when, but a number of years prior that we wanted to live abroad with our kids before they went to high school. So, this was kind of a life goal that we wanted to realize before because our kids going to high school and they were starting to get…because that meant they had to be back here from late middle school, right?
So, they were in elementary school and we were like, “Okay,” and we were kind of looking many years ahead and saying, “All right.” And then in the background, we were having these discussions of where would we go, what would we do, and I was like, “Well, we should probably go to an English-speaking area,” and I was like, “for my business,” because I was doing way more training then and I knew I was switching into full-time training.
I was like, “I want to go somewhere where they speak English and they have financial planning profession so I have a chance to potentially do my consulting there.” So, we looked at…and my husband currently was in fintech marketing, so he runs marketing departments for fintech companies. So, he also is in the marketing space. He had been sort of pursuing job leads in the fintech arena and we both had far more interest in going to Australia than, say, England, because we were both…
Michael: So, you’re kind of getting on Australia and the UK as some primary areas…
Kristin: And then, we’re just more drawn to the South Pacific and we are more interested in that area and my husband always wanted to live there and I was like, “I’d only been there once. It sounds good to me. I want to live abroad.” And then, he identified a company down there that was in early stages and he talked to…he nurtured that relationship for over a year until they got their funding and got going and then they offered him a job there and moved our family there.
So, everyone always goes, “Oh, did you move for work?” And I go, “No, we didn’t move to Sydney for work, we moved for life, it was a choice, it was something we designed.” And of course, we worked with our financial advisor to map it out and figure it out. And Mitchell got this job, I started looking at what are the organizations down there? What’s the landscape? What do I need to know about the financial planning world down there, and how am I making sure the work I’m doing is doable? I was moving a lot to online platforms and coaching and not needing to be in person.
Michael: Because the idea was that you were going to find Australian advisors to do this or because you specifically wanted to make a platform so that you could stay connected to U.S. advisors while you’re in Australia?
Kristin: So, my belief was, I was like, “One, I’m going to get things online,” so I had built out some of these products, the online training programs. I did do one-on-one coaching. And so, I had shifted away from anything in-person to doing everything online because I wanted to maintain the U.S. business because I had gotten to a really nice point and I had been doing a fair amount of speaking leading up to that and build up a good list of people and had gotten a lot of traction on the consulting side.
And then, I also wanted something I could integrate physically in the world where I lived in my community, right? So, I was hoping to get some traction down in Sydney as well, which, unfortunately, started and then petered out over time given the way that the financial planning industry is there.
Michael: Oh, I know, it’s just unfortunate timing for when you went there. You went there in the middle of their regulatory version of upheaval. Australia had their version of our Department of Labor fiduciary rule come through their industry, except their version was way more dramatic in its changes than anything that DOL fiduciary had proposed here. So, it was unfortunate timing, I guess, for the level of disruption that just happened to be ripping through Australia right when you were there.
Kristin: Right, right. I mean, I was looking for…I went to the Financial Planning Association of Australia meetings and I was working…I actually got a desk in a fintech incubator thanks to my husband’s connections there and was able to work among a ton of fintech companies. So, that was interesting and a way for me to socialize and interact and I happened to have my desk next to a financial advisor who had just started off on his own and was trying to get going. So, I was able to work with him a bit. I did have a lot of the fintech companies there wanting to talk to me about marketing but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do.
And then in the financial planning world there, it’s very expensive to run your own RIA there. There are a lot of fees. It costs a lot of money. So, the thought of even investing an extra dollar in marketing… it was a huge, huge obstacle to overcome and try and show that value when…and I’d say they’re more in the old school of, “Let’s meet for coffee and have a long lunch and decide if maybe possibly you want to be my client.” That’s their marketing, right? So, it’s kind of years behind where we were. So, it was changing, but the sheer expense of running an RIA there didn’t free up much cash to hire a marketing consultant.
Michael: So, you ended up, I guess, staying more connected to building your U.S. coaching business as you were going?
Kristin: Exactly, and that was going fine. I mean, I had good leads coming in, I had people coming in, but the issue… We lived in Sydney for two-and-a-half years and I loved it and we loved it. We loved the lifestyle. We lived out by the beach. We commuted into the city with our kids. Our kids went to school in the city. It was a nice balance of leisure and international city life.
Michael: Sydney is very good at that.
Kristin: Yeah. Oh, I loved it. I can’t even repeat that here. I’m trying to repeat that and I can’t get that. But all of the personal things, right, and family things are very strong and really rich and inviting, but professionally, I think it was one of the lowest points in my professional career. And it started so strong because I got there and then I was in this incubator and people wanted to talk to me. But then when I started realizing that, one, there was no business to be had in the local market, and then two, you hear how awesome it is to be remote and work from anywhere and that’s certainly a theme of this year, right?
We’re feeling like, “Oh, it’s amazing.” It is amazing, it is amazing, except when you’re an ocean away and it’s 7,500 miles and half the year, your workday doesn’t overlap with the majority of the United States. And you’re trying to think, “How can I have a call with someone in Chicago at a time that works for me that isn’t late at night or early in the morning?” And the lifestyle burden was tough.
Michael: Yeah. There’s remote work and then there’s literally other side of the world work.
Kristin: Exactly. And if you’re doing it a little bit or occasionally but every day, especially down there, they have sort of a different structure and there wasn’t…like in the U.S., we had childcare, so I would work, I would have a normal day, and we’d have after-school childcare options and all that. They didn’t really do that as much down there. And so, I would be dropping them off at school and then going to work and then being like, “Okay, at 3:00, I had to pick them up,” and then we got to figure out what we’re going to do, which, on the parent side of things, was super fun.
But then it narrowed my window even more, and I just wasn’t looking for a lifestyle where I had to work at 11:00 or 12:00 at night. And I did it some because while I was there, I ran my Implement Now online conference. I did that three years in a row, and that happened while I was there. So, I would get up at 5:00 in the morning and go into the city and get my coffee and do the recording, and I would stay up late at night to try to get one on the back end. But it was not something that was a lifestyle that I was willing to do, especially having two young kids.
Michael: And by this time, VitaVie, the planning firm is just entirely wound out of the picture?
Kristin: Oh, it’s done. Yeah, any clients I had, I either transitioned to the other advisor, or we wrapped up the engagement. So, I didn’t really have an exit strategy there as much as just my other advisor who had worked with me, some of those clients were her relationships, so she took them, and others, because it was a planning-only engagement, at some point, we had wrapped up, and then some people I referred on to other people. So, that was totally wrapped up by the time I left, so RIA closed.
And the overlap for 2012, ’13, ’14, I didn’t go to Sydney until 2015, I had built up a nice consulting and coaching business by that point. But when you went abroad and any new client coming on… it just started becoming a logistical nightmare. And to try to balance and enjoy the whole reason you went there was to experience the culture and participate and engage and be part of living there, it’s like you don’t want to be burning both ends of the candle the whole time, too.
Michael: But you got, I guess, stuck in that squeeze of, “Okay, it turns out the local Australian business opportunities are not as strong as anticipated because of their regulatory environment. I can still keep building my U.S. business but I’m 14 hours off.”
Kristin: Yeah. And certain times a year, it’s even different because there are another two hours to get added in there somewhere, but yes, it was upside down. And that was defeating. It really was because I had gotten to a really…think I had just presented at the FPA NorCal in May, and we moved in July that year and I was like literally on a high note, right? I had built up, and I had done this. I had presentations and people calling me, and then I move and I’m like, “That’s okay, I’m going to get there and I’m connecting and meeting people.” And it was about a year in until I was like, “Wait a minute, what happened here?”
Michael: And how long were you there?
Kristin: We were there two-and-a-half years. My goal, I decided…after I started realizing this, I was like, “My goal now is just to maintain my brand awareness,” right? So, I kept contributing articles, kept contributing content, showed up on webinars, held webinars. I was like, “I will just keep building my list and nurturing my list as best as I can,” more to keep a presence…
Michael: Even though I can’t do much consulting because it’s the other side of the world and the time zone never works.
Kristin: Yeah, and it was, again, a choice, and I was like…it was not something I was willing to put in on that but I was like, “Knowing I’m going back to the U.S., I’m going to keep building.” I’m going to keep building the brand. I’m going to keep my awareness. I’m going to have people think I’m still here in the U.S. because I’m sharing content enough, and I’m getting out and showing up in all of the places that I can write and contribute to or do a podcast…maybe not a podcast, or a webinar from the comfort of Sydney.
So, that became my new goal, which actually became more inspiring to be like, when we got closer to knowing when we were going to come back, then I started building the re-entry strategy, which was far more exciting and engaging. That’s for sure. I mean, just because I was like, “All right, I sort of accepted the fate of what was,” even though it was depressing, really, because you’re like, “I want to not only contribute to the family household, but I had gotten to such a good point and then it plateaued/fell down,” and you’re like, “Oh, God, am I going to be able to connect back in?”
Kristin’s Reentry Plan For Moving Back To The US [01:10:49]
Kristin: Oh, 100%. I was like, “What if everyone forgot me?” Despite all my work and everything, I’m like, “I haven’t been around. I haven’t been there. I haven’t been at the conferences. I haven’t seen anyone.” And, sure, sitting in a COVID year, you’re like, “So what? That’s how we all were,” but not when everyone else was doing it all year long and then I’m coming in and going, “Hello, can I come? Pay attention to me.”
Michael: “Hey, I’m back.”
Kristin: “Hello.” “Oh, you were gone? What?” It was odd on many levels and definitely, that imposter syndrome of like, “Oh, who am I? What am I trying to prove? What am I doing? What’s this all about? Do I know what I’m talking about? Are people going to believe me?” All of that came flooding back from way back when of like, “Look what you did, now what?” Plus, you’re dealing with the fact that there were many things we’d liked down there and we had to readjust to being back here and we couldn’t get the kids back in school. We had to get the school for the kids and all the different pieces and it was like, “Oh, okay.”
Michael: This isn’t even fun, getting re-acclimated.
Kristin: No, no, no, you should allow at least six months to a year for that. But it was a very, very cool life experience and we 100 times would do it over again. Upon reflection, I would have probably looked at structuring the business in a different way or I don’t know exactly how I would have done that but it is something to consider if you want to go literally to the other side of the world and run a business that’s based in the U.S.
Michael: It is far, just bear in mind that it is far.
Kristin: It’s far, yes. So…
Michael: So, you looked at then coming back and getting going again, what was the plan? What were you envisioning coming back into or back to do?
Kristin: Well, the exciting piece there was I was like, “All right, I can create whatever I want now.” Not that you can’t every day, right? We can all wake up any day and say, “You know what? I can create something new.” But I did a lot of work and soul searching on what do I care about and what’s important to me? And the one thing I knew I wanted to do, and probably because I had been so remote for so long, and we may see this coming out of the COVID too, which is I wanted to work in-person with people.
So, I wanted to have the opportunity to be around people. So, I did get a WeWork space when I came back here so that I literally had a place to go and got out of my home. I don’t have it anymore, but I got that. And then when I first came back, I just started reaching out, either through LinkedIn or just directly to every advisor I knew in the Bay Area, and pretty much saying, “Hello, I’ve been away, I’m back, can you meet for a coffee?” And I just took a month of just meeting with advisors and getting the lay of the land again of like, “What’s been going on?”
Some of them I knew and some of them I didn’t know at all, I just put it out there, “Hey, I’ve been away and I’ve come back.” And so, I was meeting with a number of advisors every week just to say, “Okay, let me reconnect with humans. I want to talk to people. I want to be face-to-face with someone.” So, that was extremely helpful and fulfilling, and I met a lot of really amazing advisors and then reconnected with a bunch that were more than willing to help me in any way, which was just one of the things I like about our industry.
Michael: So, you didn’t necessarily have yet the master plan of, “Now that I’m coming back to the U.S., here is what I’m going to build.” The idea was like, “I’m going to come back and talk to advisors and figure out like, “Okay, what do I want to build and create now?”
Kristin: Exactly, exactly. And knowing I had the baseline of the website, the blog, the emails, and things I was doing anyway, but this was more of…that was treading water, right? So, it was like, “Well, what am I going to offer these people?” I guess the one thing I did do, which isn’t even small, is that I did launch a new training program that was a webinar-based program, but for only a handful of advisors, it only had five or six advisors in it. And it was an intensive, over eight weeks, and I intentionally set that up…I did a direct mail package out to my entire list that I had.
I had an assistant here in the U.S. who coordinated it for me and mailed everything from here. And I sent it out, and I did an invitation to have a call with me and I hired a firm to follow up with everyone and schedule calls. And then I held a course when I first got back that was video and a small class because I wanted it to be very focused on established advisors who were stuck on a plateau, who wanted to get to that next level, who needed marketing help, and the whole thing was positioned around that. And so, I put together this program. I had the framework, and then every week I’d create the content for it, again, to get myself back in a conversation and helping people right from the start.
So, I was doing that every week and then meeting with advisors for coffee, just networking and getting out again just to get a lay of the land, to get my momentum back. And then from there, I started seeing what I wanted to do, which was I wanted to help individual advisors and…I won’t say small firms, but firms that need marketing help where I can come in and have a meaningful difference in the work that they’re doing, so I can come in and have an impact on their business. So, the outsourced CMO emerged. It took a little while to formulate and get together but now it has come together.
What Kristin’s Marketing Consulting Business Looks Like Today [01:17:05]
Kristin: So, it’s extremely simple from a marketing and sales point of view. I have two options: I work either one-on-one with solo advisors or individuals within a larger firm who want to focus on their own marketing. And I work with firms who need strategic marketing help who don’t have the resources on hand, so RIAs that generally fall into, what I think you call the dangerous middle, but the sort of 100 million under management up to about a billion, maybe a little more than that.
Firms that are in a position where they need marketing help, they’ve gotten to a certain point, but they can’t bring in a full-time person, so they hire me as a part-time CMO, and I come in and set and drive their marketing strategy and help train their team and help them figure out what resources they need, if any, or freelance or other and help them with their marketing success on that end. So, it’s two offerings, I do one-on-one coaching, that’s for all of the solo advisors who are doing it themselves, who are out there marketing but need to know how to prioritize, where should they focus, and to have someone, frankly, helping keep them accountable.
Michael: Where to prioritize, focus, and accountability partner.
Kristin: Yes, exactly.
Michael: But with all the marketing background you have of literally having gone through the process.
Kristin: I call it marketing consulting and coaching because I was like, a coach would really sort of say, “What do you want to do?” and guide you and direct you from what you say, but I am also marrying the “Here’s what you need to do and here is our…” We work out together on “What is the plan?” and “What are you going to do?” and we break it down and I, of course, bring in all the best practices of where to go. I mean, they’re essentially coming to me for the expertise and the accountability.
Michael: And is that one-time consulting kind of stuff or you work with advisors ongoing?
Kristin: It’s ongoing. So, the way it works is I work with up to 12 advisors at a time in that arena, so I’ll do six…I do it only on Tuesdays and it’s six one week, six the next week. And so, I sit down and my day, I look at my calendar and I go, “Okay, I’ve got these six 45-minute coaching calls,” and they’re generally back-to-back. And without a doubt, every Monday night, I go, “Oh my God, how am I going to get through that tomorrow.” I wake up Tuesday, a little overwhelmed, I start the day, and then by the end of the day, I’m like running 100 miles an hour, totally energized, loving life, and being like, “It is so fun to help all these advisors.”
So, I designed it because I know there are so many advisors out there who are running their own practice, I’ve been there, but I’ve targeted it into people who are…there’s an exception here, but it’s advisors who have been in business for a while, they’ve hit a plateau, they’ve tried some different marketing, and they don’t know what to do next, right? Or either they were stuck and they don’t know what to do next, or they want to achieve a higher level and they’re saying, “How do I go from where I am today to that next level?”
Michael: Which when you’re doing it as a solo, it has all sorts of unique dynamics and challenges around it just because there are real-world constraints that we have when we’re on our own.
Kristin: Exactly. And so, a lot of it is…again, prioritization is probably the biggest thing, like focus, and then having them commit and focus to a specific path or initiative or what’s next and helping them be okay with putting stuff on the back burner, right? I’m like, “All right, we’re going to go in and focus 100% on this area.” And a lot of times, the conversation starts with clarity on the target market, right? So, a lot of people still coming in not knowing who that is, who they want to work with, and understanding that, so we really dive in it.
And the good thing about working with established advisors now, because I’ve done work with so many advisors just starting up, but the established advisor, we can go back and we can look at who you’ve worked with and say, “Who are the people you just absolutely love getting on the phone with or talking to? Who are the ones who are paying you the most?” And we look at all these different factors and get that overlay.
Michael: So, for all those who don’t know what their niche is or should be or, “I’ve got too many clients to pick one now, so what do I do?” Helping those types of firms figure out how to actually get more targeted to get to the next level?
Kristin: Exactly, because, ultimately, like I said in the very beginning, to know how to market, you have to know who you want to bring in. So, as I tell them, I was like, “This doesn’t limit who you work with, you can work with whomever you want to work with this.” This is giving us focus to our marketing so we know how to direct our marketing message so that we can stand out from the crowd of 300,000 other advisors out there and we can say, “Hey, for those of you who fit this particular profile, who have this particular need and stay up at night worrying about these particular things, I can help you.”
Michael: I like that framing that, “This isn’t meant to limit who you work with, it just focuses your marketing messaging so you’ve got at least one person or group out there you can be super compelling to attract.” Perhaps if it works really well, you’ll get a whole bunch of those but…
Kristin: Exactly, exactly. And we know that people refer people like themselves, so if we hone in on what I call the high-value hyper-target, so someone who not only is someone you enjoy working with and fits the profile but they also pay you what you want to earn because they appreciate the value of your service, then the more you focus your marketing on tracking those types in, the more the referrals and all of that will snowball of being the same kind of people.
And it just helps you be able to have an impact because we know the marketing today, content marketing and all that, impact over time, right? So, yeah, it’s a lot different. So, then, that’s my Tuesday offering and then the rest of my time is spent working with RIAs who are really looking for that marketing plan. And if I really had to narrow in on the absolute ideal, it’s kind of the firm that’s around $700 or $800 million under management.
They’ve had a founder that maybe founded the firm way back in the early days of independent IRAs, so that founder is retiring. The G2s are coming up and they’re like 45 or 50 years old and they’re saying, “You know what? I’m not the rainmaker like he was. How now do I use all of the marketing that’s available to me in the new way and knowing that consumers aren’t the same as they were? They’re not taking cold calls from people, they’re not receiving marketing in the same way or sales in the same way. What do we do to continue the growth or sustainability of this firm?” And so, I love working with that type of firm.
What Surprised Kristin The Most About Marketing And Building An Advisory Firm, The Low Point In Her Journey, And How She Got Over The Fear Of “Selling” [01:24:24]
Kristin: The most surprising thing was that advisors don’t focus on a target audience. So, that, without a doubt, was the most surprising thing. I think, for me as an advisor learning, was getting accustomed to the slow acceptance of the sale. So, if someone indicates interest, it could be six months or six years before they reach out to you. That, I think, was one of the most surprising things to me when I got into the industry that I had to acclimate to and adjust to and realize it wasn’t personal, right?
Michael: It’s very different than the direct marketing world of like I sent them the mailer and within two weeks, we will pretty much know all of our results.
Kristin: Yeah, we know if they did it or not. Yeah, exactly. To me, it took an adjustment, and I also had to learn not to take it personally, like, “Oh, someone called me and they were so interested and now I’m calling them back and they seem to drop off the face of the earth, what happened?” And that really depressed me in the beginning, I could get pretty beaten up about that because I was like, “See, I knew I didn’t know how to sell, I did something totally wrong,” and I would get on my case.
But that surprised me a lot and so I had to shift and go, “Okay, great, well, then we need to make sure that we have this marketing system in place so that we have the nurture and the touchpoints all mapped out and a process is developed so that I’m not getting caught up in it, that I’m following the system and that’s it.” But yes, I am still to this day surprised, even talking to my advisors that I work with, saying, “Well, you haven’t heard back from them? That’s amazing, keep the follow up going.”
Kind of like, “I know it’s hard, and you really thought they were signing on, but you have no idea what else is happening in their life and you can’t make any assumptions.” This isn’t the thing that someone goes, “Yes, I can’t wait to run over and do that,” it’s like they usually have to do it because something has occurred in their life and we just want to make sure we’re there to help them and stay in front of them. So, you have to detach and I think it’s hard to learn that, I think that’s one of the most challenging things.
Michael: So, what was the low point for you? And thinking particularly in terms of trying to build a marketing advisory firm and the challenges on the marketing side of the business when you were in Australia and that journey of growing VitaVie, what was the…?
Kristin: I think the low point or the hardest point for me in the very beginning, was what you’ve already sort of called out and illuminated, which I say a lot, which is I didn’t want to sell people anything. I almost didn’t become an entrepreneur because I thought there was no way I could sell, so I’m like, “I don’t know how I’m going to close a sale,” right? Because I had always been a behind-the-scenes marketing person where you figure it out and put the initiatives in place and follow them through…
Michael: And they call you and hand you their business. It’s great!
Kristin: Yeah, and then they call me and that’s how it works and then they buy the product or…so that was the one reason I almost didn’t get into it. And then once I was in and I started getting some interest but then people didn’t call back or they didn’t…I’d call and leave a message but I’m like, “How come? They were so interested.” So, I really, really…I got to a point where I’m like, “I can’t believe this.” I was like, “I’m not going to make it, what’s going to happen?”
And I would say the only…I surprise myself sometimes because once in a while, even today, I get in that mode again and I’m like, “Come on, you know better than that,” now we’ve lived this long enough to know, but the assumed rejection when, in fact, most likely it’s something else has happened and/or they did find someone else and good for them, you know?
Michael: So, how did you get over the pain or the fear or the lack of desire of selling?
Kristin: I’ll still say it’s not my favorite thing to do, but here’s what I tell my advisors because most of you work in the same way. One, get super clear on your offering. So, now I have two offerings, so when someone asked me, “So how can you help?” I very clearly say, “Well, I work in one of two ways,” and it’s very clear.
When I had the financial planning firm, I had my one-sheet explain the service…at some point, I had had two different services, one was more cash budgeting and one was more planning. I said, “This is my service. This is the fee. This is what it covers. This is the process. This is what you can expect.” so it was very easy to explain it, and there was no negotiation or anything; I let people know in advance.
Michael: And at that point, it’s like if you’re super clear of exactly who you’re serving, what it is you offer, what it is you do for them, what the benefits are for that one particular type of person, either you are literally talking to that person who has that pain point and who wants that thing, in which case they’ll say, “Wow, Kristin, that’s awesome, it’s exactly what I want, sign me up.” Or they won’t and they just move on and that’s that.
Kristin: Yeah, so it really is using all the marketing in a way to help me have more success at the ultimate sale, right? So, I started going back before a client…from the financial planning side, before a client even came into the office, as soon as they indicated an interest, so they called or emailed and said they wanted a consultation, I started, essentially the selling process then, if you want to call it that, by doing really good marketing, right? By being very clear in the upfront call of asking questions and then I developed a welcome kit that I’d send out before every consultation that…I put it in the mail and it was a beautifully designed package. And it had a letter, and it had an agenda and it had the service offering in there and it had my bio and basic things like that,.
Michael: So, you sent this to prospects? Like, we’re going to be meeting. Here’s a welcome kit of just…here’s exactly what I do, so I don’t even have to actually explain it to you in the meeting, in fact, if you just aren’t really into this, feel free to just not show up at the meeting.
Kristin: Yeah, some people would cancel. So, it would say like, “Dear So-and-so, so this is to confirm your meeting on X day, looking forward to meeting you, here’s what you’ll find in this packet.” And my service offering that was in there essentially was lined up, like I said, with all the parts of the financial plan and little boxes next to each question. And people would come in, pull it out, and they’re like, “Okay,” as if they were supposed to do some work, right? And I might have said in there, “Here’s what you…” I think I had a sheet, “You can bring these things to the meeting but you don’t have to,” right? If you want to bring your statements and all that.
And they’d come in with this green envelope, it was very…this big, oversized green envelope, they’d pull out the stuff, they’d pull out the service offering, and it would have checkmarks next to the questions that they were worried about. And inevitably, they would say, “Wow, I didn’t even know I needed to show up with this,” or, “Wow, you knew everything I wanted to talk about,” or…so it just shifted the conversation from the beginning and I didn’t have to worry that I was going to have to explain it.
So, then I was able to work on, through repetition and time, asking at the end, “So would you like to engage?” or, “Would you like to talk about it?” I’ve never been a high pressure…even with my advisors today, I’ll say, “I’m not a high-pressure person, I’m just not that way,” but I have a very distinct process. And so, then they would leave if they hadn’t signed up right then, which was rare, they didn’t usually sign up right then. Then, I would immediately handwrite a thank you note and drop it in the mail. Now I do emails, but then I did that.
And then if I didn’t hear from them, I’d send a follow-up email saying, “Hey.” A few days later if I didn’t hear back from them, I’d send a follow-up email and I just had the defined follow-up steps, so I think I have three touches after the meeting immediately and then I would pace it out if I hadn’t heard from them. But then I just made it a process, right? So, I tried to handle any objections early on, so that when I was in the meeting with them, I was able to totally focus on what are they about, what do they need, what are their issues and worries, so they were heard, right? And then, it just made it pretty easy by the end, we either knew we were fit or we weren’t.
Michael: Yeah, I like that framing, like, “We don’t have to do the haggle back-and-forth, you’re just either pretty much going to want this and have already connected by the time you come in, or you literally just won’t even bother coming in,” all of which is fine because it means that the meeting is really not very salesy at this point. If there’s anything left, you’ve either already sold yourself or you haven’t.
Kristin: Right, exactly. And it was really more in the structured follow-up that we really needed to get into. Because that’s what I’m teaching advisors a lot and I’m like, “You can follow up more than one time because people are busy, you need to follow up multiple times and then put them on your email list and send them stuff and stay in front of them because most people aren’t ready right away.” So, I think that’s a really important thing for advisors to get and it really backs up to kind of the macro view of marketing is actually helping people make the decision on whether or not you’re a good fit, right?
So, if you’re enabling them by the more targeted, the more precise, the more exact your content is on the things that matter most to your audience, you’re enabling them to help them make that decision of, “Do I want to talk to you or not? And the more you can integrate any of that into the total relationship, whether it’s when they first hear about you or they’ve been a client for four years, that is…you’re providing a service, right? And through good marketing, you’re helping people because they’re able to make a decision, “Yes, this is worth it for me to spend my time, money, and energy on,” or, “No, I need to go a different direction.”
Michael: So, what advice would you have for newer advisors trying to get started and going today and have that similar, “I’m building from scratch, I don’t necessarily have a natural market and the rest, I got to get going quickly,” the way that you did.
The Advice That Kristin Would Give Newer Advisors, What Comes Next For Her, And How She Defines “Success” For Herself [01:34:45]
Kristin: So, obviously, my first thing is pick a target audience, know who you want to try to attract in, and give it a go. You’re not stuck, you’re not married to it, it’s not the one you have to use for the rest of your life, give it a go for, I like to say, a year. That’s kind of my all the time answer. But the next thing is just get out and do some things, right? I went out and hung up flyers. Do something to get it rolling, put an article up to a target audience on your blog, and share it on social media.
Don’t wait until you have it all figured out before you start engaging in marketing because you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to change, but if you don’t get the ball rolling, you’ll keep putting it off trying to get the perfect website, the perfect this. Get a landing page up there that says, “Coming soon, here in the meantime, put your email address in and we’ll reach out to you.” The relationships take a long time to build, it takes a long time to get people to the point of wanting to meet with you, so don’t wait, don’t wait for perfection, just get going and revise as you go.
Michael: Yeah, I had read a few years ago the book “Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, which to me was very impactful in this direction as well. The whole framework is you have to pick something to go after and it’s not specific to our industry, but you have to pick something to go after and go after it, but don’t build it all fancy and try to make the perfect thing because even if you think you know what the perfect thing is, it’s probably not actually going to turn out to be that, it’ll be something at least a little bit different.
It’s just like make a thing, in fact, make the most minimally viable thing you can possibly make to see if anybody actually cares about that. And if they do, put more resources into it and make it better and figure out how to market it better and figure out how to get more focus in there. You could totally ramp it up, but don’t kill yourself trying to pick the perfect thing out of the gate, you don’t have to and you probably can’t mastermind it. Just pick a thing, get it out there, see if anybody cares and responds to it because if it’s at all useful, someone will raise their hand and say, “We like it.” If they do, then, cool, you found a thing, do more.
Kristin: Right, right. I think that is one of the biggest things and it’s one of the hardest things, especially for advisors and financial planners because we want to do everything perfectly, right? And you almost have to, in the financial side of it. So, my biggest thing is letting go of, you don’t need perfection in marketing and even today, everything is online, so you can change it or edit it or make adjustments, it’s fine. Like, just test it and get it out there. The momentum will help you, so I think that’s really important.
Michael: So, what comes next for you?
Kristin: That’s a very good question. I’m really excited about where I am and the work I’m doing now. I find the balance of doing the one-on-one coaching for the solo advisors and then becoming a team member for these RIAs who are looking for marketing guidance, it’s a beautiful balance, so I feel…I’m in the perfect stride right now, I would say, on that side of things.
Looking ahead, I am looking at how do I want to structure the business, do I want to scale and add people? Do I want to keep it how it is and enjoy having a full practice and engaging with the people I love? I’m trying to work out some of the operational elements of growth and where I’m going there. And then I want to be doing more speaking, in-person speaking, and I sure hope that 2021 allows for that.
Michael: Yeah, hopefully, we’ll actually have conferences again every week.
Kristin: I know, I know. Like I said, to me, I am very much a relationship person; I want to be in front of humans. I want to actually have you in the audience so I can engage and play off your energy. And sometimes…I mean, Zoom has been helpful in that we can interact back and forth, but a webinar can be…it can be lonely, being the presenter in a webinar when you can’t see anyone. So, I’m really focused on…
Michael: And you’re talking to your webcam and trying to smile and try to pretend or at least hope that everybody is smiling…
Kristin: Yeah, you’re like, “Can you see me?” And you’re like, “Hello, are you out there? Are you listening? Do you hear me?” And the technology is better than it used to be, but I really miss being in front of a live audience. So, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at NAFA and FBA and some of the online conferences this year, which is really fun.
And earlier this year, right before the pandemic hit, I had the pleasure of speaking in Arizona at the large firm forum for NAFA, and that was a fantastic conference and one where you could spend…it’s a little smaller and you could spend a lot of time with all the attendees and really, everyone has the time to mix and mingle and speak to a number of the attendees, so that was a lot of fun. So, I’m looking for more speaking opportunities as the years roll forward and we can get out of our homes again.
Michael: So, as we wrap up, this is a podcast around success and one of the themes that always comes up is just the word ‘success’ means very different things to different people. And so, I know you’ve now been through this cycle a few times, like building an advisory firm and now building a marketing business. So, you built successful businesses, but how do you define ‘success’ for yourself at this point?
Kristin: I think what really matters to me is having, like I said, that personal connection with people and being able to have, what I call a profound and positive effect on people’s well-being and I think that’s been a theme throughout all of my careers. Even with marketing, I always have believed, even when I was marketing Visa rewards programs or HELOC, or something like that, I always believed that it was providing something for the betterment of the person who is engaged who ended up buying the service or product.
And to my level now, it’s elevated to a level of when I’m working with my advisors, whether they’re solo or part of a firm, it’s like I know they’re out there to help people improve their lives and have a big impact in their clients’ lives, so I want to help my advisors have that success and find that most fulfilled life for them. To me, that’s extremely rewarding and I feel like I can have the biggest impact by helping advisors help more clients, right?
Michael: You’ve woven your life coaching work all the way back in full circle to bring it together now for advisors and how they’re building their businesses to fulfill their lives.
Kristin: Yes, exactly. And on a personal front, my lead core value is freedom and being able to create and do what I want to do and have the choice. And I know we always have that, but I’m highly entrepreneurially focused. I like to enable others to have choice and freedom and it’s just something I’m always looking for, growth and new adventure and new exciting things and I’m hopeful we’ll see more of that in 2021.
Michael: Yeah, no kidding. I hope so. I hope so. Well, thank you so much, Kristin, for joining us on the “Financial Advisor Success Podcast.”
Kristin: It’s my pleasure, Michael. Thank you for having me.
Michael: Thank you.