Weekly Insights to Help You Craft the Ultimate Advising Practice
Weekly Insights to Help You Craft the Ultimate Advising Practice
Read The Transcript Of The Episode:
This is The Ultimate Advisor Podcast, the podcast for financial advisors who want to create a thriving, successful and scalable practice. Each week, we'll uncover the ways that you can improve your referrals, your team, your marketing, and your business operations, helping you to level up your advising practice, bring in more assets and create the advising practice that you've dreamed of. You'll be joined by your hosts, Bryan Sweet, who has more than half a billion dollars in assets under management, Brittany Anderson, the driving force for advisors looking to hire, improve their operations and company culture, and Draye Redfern who can help you systematize and automate your practice's marketing to effortlessly attract new clients. So what do you say? Let's jump into another amazing episode of The Ultimate Advisor Podcast.
Welcome to The Ultimate Advisor Podcast. I'm Bryan Sweet, and with us today is Leo Pusateri. Leo is an old friend and actually met Leo with my study group a number of years ago, and have been fortunate enough to work with Leo and the members of my study group. So I think you're in for an absolute treat today. So Leo, why don't you tell us a little about yourself and how you got where you're at today?
Well, thanks Bryan. It's good to hear your voice again. I think it's always good to start for my background, I believe this is where things took off literally. I want you to picture my dad, a Sicilian immigrant, coming over to the States in 1924, seventh grade education, a laborer, a janitor, a mom who worked on a General Foods assembly line, helped to make cool whip. I didn't grow up with dollars in my pocket. I grew up with values, hard work, show up on time, do your job, where's your passion type of thing. And at a very early stage, Bryan, I just had a passion for coaching and wanting to help people to be their best through everything that I was involved in. I got involved in my formative years, I worked for arguably the finest sales consulting sales training company in the world, working on sales productivity for fortune 500 firms.
I left there in 1989 to 92 to be the head of sales and marketing for a growing, ambitious asset management firms. So I had the business of adult behaviors and training and coaching and learning and meshing with the whole explosion of asset management into wealth management and things. It didn't take me long, 28 years ago, 1992. And I realized that I could bring these careers together in terms of helping people to really learn. But in this case, it was learning the business of how to talk to clients and prospects differently about themselves, their firms, wealth planning, things like this. And the funny story is Bryan, my wife said, "Things were going well." She said, "Well, what's the worst that can happen?" I said, "Well, we'll sell the house and keep the kids and we'll figure this thing out." So four kids, four grandkids now, fifth on the way, and this ride has been amazing. That's the best way I can describe it.
That's fantastic. Well, you're kind of known as the guy that helps people discover their value. So maybe talk us through your process around discovering your value and why it's so important.
Well, if you go back historically on this, I used to teach a program way back in the 80s Bryan when my sales consulting sales training career was taking off, it was really all about client emotions. And it was really an interesting study of negative emotions, where people were indifferent or they're hostile, or they're skeptical about you or your work or your solutions. And it talked about how do you align yourself emotionally with clients? And I'm talking to the founder and developer of this program, because the highest level was helping advisors to understand the issue of dealing with client's emotions and trying to get clients to become confident so that they would commit to you. And I'm looking at this model and I was teaching and I said, "Wait a minute. It's one thing to get clients to be confident, to be able to commit, but how do you get a sales representative, a financial advisor, financial entrepreneur, like you Bryan, how do you get to confident?" Not just getting your clients there, but where does your confidence come from and things.
So I realized, I went to work on this and I said, there's really a series of questions and it really involves unique introspection. And as I started to work on this, I said, what's the natural flow? People want to know who you are. They want to know what you do. They want to know why you do what you do. They want to know how you do what you do. They want to know who you've done this for. They want to know what makes you different. They want to know ultimately look me in the eye, net it out. Why should I do business with you? So this unique series of questions, very simple as I said, but it's stunningly simple. The who, what, why, how, who, what, why?
And I believe it's remarkably elegant because all those questions address to tell me about your background. Tell me about your value proposition. What makes it unique? Tell me about your business beliefs and what drives your thinking today. Tell me about your process of how we'd work with you. Tell me who you typically work with, your clients, your success, where your pride comes from, where you're proud of it, what makes you different Bryan, your firm, your team, things like that. And ultimately what's the real value, not your value proposition, but your real value? How it's actualized, how it's become measurable, how you helped others. And you know what Bryan? What I learned, these questions is stunningly simple. They are deceptively difficult to answer.
And so this quest that I went on was helping folks like yourself. And I know folks that you coach and mentor through some of your work and things to go from good to great, to extraordinary, to be their best. But to be their best at differentiating their companies, to be their best at distinguishing themselves in their teams, to elevate their confidence, their passion, their speed and to eradicate a disease of what I call winging it. And I said, if we can do this, we can help people to pursue excellence in the way they articulate their value. It would help them win these value moments of truth, because Bryan, if you don't know it, as we're going to talk about, you won't be able to price it. If you can't price it, you won't be able to sell your value, and ultimately, the live it. That's how this thing all took off.
Yeah, no, I couldn't agree more. Differentiation is, it's always been important, but maybe even more so today than at any point in time. And your process is so unique in helping people bring out those differentiators. So thank you. So talking about that, what would you say is one of the things you see top advisors doing today to differentiate their businesses, and also maybe how has that evolved or changed in say last 5, 10 years?
Well, it's evolved for a period of time here if you could think about it. If we rewind the clock, even double that, go back about 30 years from the business of managing transactions to evolving, to managing assets, the launch of separately managed accounts and funds and things like this to the issue now today in terms of managing wealth. And I believe this whole issue in terms of the one key issue of differentiation today is really becoming a guru in the field of offering a wealth solution to position yourself a little bit differently. And I know people have different perspectives on this. I believe more and more though today Bryan, that the more people are going to be challenged to prove their value, to be able to quantify their value numerically, to help them.
I actually created this impact ladder years ago Bryan, where it looked at the impact of your behaviors. And there were five different levels that I started to write about. One was at this lower level, what I call professional visitors, the coffee and donut people, a lot of wholesalers are like this. They stop in, how are you doing? What's going on? But advisors do this from time to time as well.
The second level became this level of what I call people who sell on, they sell products, they sell transactionally, they sell on price. Oh yeah, we can beat that. I can do that. How much are they charging you down the street? That type of thing.
The third level was these people became technical tellers and they started to overwhelm people with technical dissertations of things and losing people, betas, alphas, duration, all these types of things like this.
And then it evolved to this fourth level of being a need satisfier. They realize the big guy upstairs gave us two ears and one mouth. We should ask some questions and find out.
And the ultimate thing where I believe it's taking advisors today was more of this becoming the strategic partner, someone who sits on the same side of the table with their clients, someone who thinks long term, someone who understands multi-generational family issues, family conversations, someone who can integrate other elements of wealth into their planning, tax, legal philanthropy, legacy, you name it, all those things like this. It's a one wealth mentality where you can become a go to resource to help people. And it's funny, I created this as you've heard me speak before Bryan, these illnesses that I see in our industry.
First one is winging it. Second one was, I didn't know you did that Bryan. Why don't you ever talk to me about that? And so what happens is that advisors get deeper into this. They start to realize that there's a lot of things that they do, that they have taken for granted as well as clients are even unaware of this stuff. So I believe that's the key thing Bryan, the issue of one wealth and position themselves on the same side of the table with the strategic partner mentality, where you become an indispensable go to resource. That has changed over the years.
Yeah. Excellent. One of the things that I think is happening today, and you'll see more of it down on the road is the issue of discounting your fees. And you have a lot of material created around pricing, according to your value. So how can advisors confidently communicate their pricing strategy so they don't fall into that discount trap?
Yeah, that's interesting. It was well over a decade ago, 12, 13, 14, 15 years ago that we came to grips with this. And I'm thinking about this as I was coaching advisors Bryan. And I'm a Stephen Covey fan. I read 7 Habits, probably two or three times. And then they launched an eighth habit years ago. And it wasn't just the seven, there was an eighth. And I said, you know what? There's an eighth question to my model as well. We better get to work on it. It wasn't just, who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it? How do you do it? Who have you done it for? What makes you different? Why should we do business with you? This eighth question was, wait a minute. Now that I know all that, how much does all this cost? How are you going to charge me for all this stuff? That became my eighth question. Like his eighth habit type of thing.
And so this issue is one we've been studying for a lot of years now. And it's funny, I've been in programs, Bryan where I'll go around the room with advisors and I'll say, "Do you discount?" And they'll say, "well." I say, "No, it's just a yes or no answer. Do you discount?" Well, yes. Yes. You just go around the table. Yes. Well sometimes. What do you mean sometimes? I [inaudible 00:11:40] a program once and the advisor says, "Well, whether or not I liked them or not." I said, "What do you mean, whether or not you like them or not? Have you ever quantified your discount and what types of discounts do you do and things like this?" So it comes back to this thesis Bryan. If you don't know your value, I'm telling you this, take this to the bank. You will not be able to properly price your value.
They go together like this. And I tell you something, I've seen this with advisors. If you lose control of your pricing, Bryan, you lose control of your business. So what we've done to help advisors is that we put them through some unique introspection that you've experienced as well. They call this a total value inventory. We really get people brainstorming and think about everything. We get their teams involved, and we take this to a level of dis-aggregating this and categorizing your offering. So it's you start to realize, we do a lot more than just managing money. Jeez, we get involved with retirement planning. We get involved with other counsel at a station, insurance tax, legal integration, philanthropy, legacy, trust. I mean, there's a lot of things that we do and you start to pinpoint things. And when you start to look at what would somebody pay for this independent, just to service, just this one sleeve of this. I wonder how someone would charge for this.
And I'm telling you Bryan, the more you dig deep into the value offerings that you provide, your lexicon changes, your attitude changes, your confidence changes. All of a sudden when you get a fee-based question or a pricing, something like this, and you start to realize that's the best part of what we do is how we priced our value, our pricing nourishes our proposition. Doesn't challenge it in anything. You get this smile in your stomach, you welcome the questions. And what came out of all of our work around discounting and helping people like this is we created, we've written three white papers on this. It's the concept of creating, what we call pricing integrity. That the one thing I know is that there's integrity to our pricing. That means Bryan down the street, there's going to be people higher price than you, and even lower price than you.
But the one thing you and your team feel confident about is there's integrity to your pricing, which means it's fair. It's transparent and it's consistent, that you can look somebody, eyeball the eyeball like this to say, this is where we reside. And it's incumbent upon us to prove our value and how our pricing is supportive of it. If not, quite honestly, you shouldn't be doing business with us, to do this. So it takes it from a mentality when you really work on it and you start to show your value numerically eventually, where all of a sudden your real value and you can quantify it, all of a sudden, you don't have to worry about discounting anymore. That's a thing of the past.
I totally agree. I would tell you that if there was one thing I would highly recommend any advisor do, it's understand that process that you've just described. I think we all underestimate what we do for clients and we just become the ... What will clients be willing to pay? And that's what we charge versus actually getting paid what we're worth. So the way you have done it and the structure is an exceptional way. So I would highly recommend if any of our listeners have not done that, do that because pricing is going to be an amazing issue down the road, if it isn't already. So we've talked a little bit about uncovering your value and pricing it. Now, what about selling that value? I believe isn't that the third step in your overall process. And I think that holds a ton of value also.
Yeah, it does Bryan. It's almost like a lost art of consultative selling. We've gotten so used Bryan, to many of the other issues that keep you and other advisors up at night. And me, I'm like you, I'm a small business owner. I've got a team and I've got a niche boutique practice as well. It's similar probably to a lot of your listeners. If you can think back over the last decade or two, what have been some of the things and conferences that you've gone to in all the different discussion points. So we talk about practice management. We talk about putting teams together. Our roles and responsibilities. We look at our client experience. We talk about our processes. We talk about succession issues. We talk about independence. We talk about valuation of our businesses. So this whole stock and bond evolution into funds and accounts and fees and wealth, we lost sight of the fact that business is first, still a meeting of the hearts.
And then business becomes a meeting of the minds and that people still do business with people that they like. They do business with people that they trust. They do business with people that they value. And so this lost art, these behaviors that we still teach, it gets into both the combination of strategic type of thinking, as well as the tactical skills. What I mean by strategic is so you're going into a big meeting and you're talking to a family and their trusted estate attorney's there, and their CPA might be there. And it's a strategic way of thinking in terms of how well do I know these people and what are the needs and what else can I do to better prepare? And what questions might I anticipate? And do I have my seven answers down about pricing down pat? Do I have my objectives going to this meeting?
And the core skills that I grew up on in my early formative stages of selling, acknowledging, clarifying, confirming, making emotional connections, listening through proper probing techniques, getting a little bit deeper with strategic questioning, explaining your value, responding to challenges to your value, determining next steps, doing post call autopsies. We've lost a lot of that thinking Bryan, I'm telling you we've got so consumed. And even when people hire me, they get so consumed with their value propositions. And I need help with my process Leo and I need the answer to this question. What makes us different?
The fundamental techniques of just sitting in a business meeting in opening up a meeting and maintaining control with some respect and sensitivity and taking off to listen and to align yourself differently. I just think it's an underappreciated element. And so many times, people will say in our workshops, geez, I wish I had a recorder on. The way you said that Leo. All I'm doing Bryan is just the basic core communication skills. This is not magical. It's just a matter of respectfully listening and asking the right questions and delving deeper. We're so quick to spray and pray and to tell versus properly selling and things like this, that we've lost, this is the selling. So it remains an integral part of my curriculum, knowing to pricing, to selling your value. I'll take this for the rest of my career Bryan. Really important. That's where you really cross the Ts and dot the Is when you bring all these together.
Well said. That kind of leads me to another question. Is there a piece of advice that you'd give an advisor that you think they should implement to help them scale?
Well, the whole issue to me of scaling is to an advisor it's different than talking to a bigger institution. I think of like a Fidelity or Schwab or a bigger company, for instance, that's got institutional feeders to their branches and leverage and scale to one. If we're talking to the advisor, I just want to position this correctly so that the many folks that have those, maybe it's 2 members of a team, up to 20 to 25 type of people. How do we leverage and scale and things like this? And I'm still big on always focusing on scaling via retention and growth, always starting with my existing clients. I put advisors through an exercise that I effectually called The Acres of Diamonds, where I really have them look at a client. I talk about leveraging and scaling through each client, for instance Bryan, and I'll say, well, what is this client worth to you? Let's say you got a million dollars. You're charging them 1%. So how long are you going to be in the business?
So they're paying you $10,000 a year. That's cool. How long are you going to be in the business? Well, 20 more years. So what's that client worth to you? Well, let me see. The 10,000, 20 years, $200,000. I said, no, I'm like a game show host. No that's the wrong answer. So I give you six ways how you can grow with that client and that client can grow with you in the next 20 years. So you want to scale? Let's start by looking at each of your core clients. What do you mean? Well, they're going to give you more assets. I get my advisor who you know, more assets every month. Two, you've got the benefit of appreciation. Three, you got intergenerational wealth transferring issues. Four, they might have other needs, themselves or family members so you can sell more consultatively. Five, you've got referral sources and opportunities. And six, you might find out there's such a value disconnect you could possibly raise your fees.
And I'm big believer in less is more, in quality versus quantity. And the more you get closer to advisors, to clients, finding out how they really feel about you and the value that you provide, you might find that scaling and leveraging through what you already have is an easy proposition to get yourself and your team around, where business and organic growth can take off and augment it through other strategies around your passions and based on your current clientele to do it. But I'm going to simplify this Bryan, in ways to me, it's getting closer to your clients and you've ever been before. That's how you scale.
Yeah, no, I think it's all about relationships and boy, being able to get deep with your clients is exceedingly important. One of the things I did want you to spend a fair amount of time on is this new program that you launched. I think it's called The Sabbatical Experience. And I think that's got a great message. And I'd love you to explain a little bit more about how the program works and how it benefits advisors and their clients.
Well, Bryan, thanks. For years, I've been privileged and blessed to work with a lot of dedicated, committed, serious practicing financial entrepreneurs like yourself. And it's been a really cool ride. And it's funny, being a good listener and asking a lot of questions. And I realized, I said, a lot of these people, boy, they've really achieved a lot. They have a lot. And I said, they've been so much on their game in terms of taking care of their clients for their careers. At some point, I said, they've got to look at the mirror themselves. I said, their next project is going to be you Bryan. Your next project, at some point will be Bryan Sweet. And that's where all this thinking took off. And as I started to grow in my business practice and what I was continuing to learn aging, losing loved ones, dealing with cancer, stuff like this that was going on in my life as well.
I said, there's a point in our lives Bryan where there's some other important things that are going to come into play, living a life of significance, living a life with no regrets, living a life with abundance, which is all about your time and your talent and your treasure, which you do magnificently well and giving back to your community in worthy causes. It's all about gratitude. It's all about having perspective of what we have and what others don't have. It's all about the quest to be our best, the best Leo, the best Bryan, whoever's listening on this call. Look in your mirror, your best you as a father, as a mother, as a daughter, as a son, as a grandfather, grandmother, brothers, sister, community member, whatever it is. And then ultimately not just thinking about your legacy, but living it.
And so we structured an experience called The Sabbatical Experience. I said, most people never had a chance to take a sabbatical unless you're in academia or a certain careers things. I'm going to take three months off or I'm taking a year off. I'm going to go travel. I'm going to go climb a mountain. I'm going to go write a book or I'm going to take a vacation or do whatever else. But in our profession, to me, I said, how cool would it be to get like minded people, successful practitioners together to talk about these important issues in their life? And I said, to give our life more meaning Bryan, after a career of being measured by the dollars we've made, or the clubs we've achieved. I'm a chairman's club advisor or a president's club, or I'm on this certain achievement level or something like this and in the standards in our community and things. But if we can look at these principles in our life, I am a 100% convinced Bryan, that this will also make us better advisors to our clients.
So if you think about how we've been brought up in the industry, talking to clients about asset allocation, risk, investment management issues, now, retirement planning, longevity coming into play. Imagine starting to talk to them about some of these meaningful issues in their life, about what significance means to them and their families. And you start adding on these other things about regrets and legacy and planning. I've seen it because we have launched this. We have done it. I've seen advisors literally breaking down in my program when we talk about gratitude, the things that they've been able to achieve, the hurdles in their own life, some of the issues within their family, their kids, their clients, things like this. It's a whole different opportunity to bring people like you together. And more importantly, to eventually bring your clients together because they're facing these same issues.
And they want to just talk, Bryan, they want to open up to people that are like, like minded, that they can trust to say, how are you managing this? How are you dealing with these issues in your life? And this is what I found. This is quite honestly Bryan, where my future is going to be is helping folks like you and hopefully your listeners and your clients to look at life in a different way, going forward with really deep meaning, and purpose, and significance and legacy. And that's why I launched the program. And that's what it's for. It's the most fulfilling and compelling thing I've ever done in my career. And I'm just in the early stages of getting involved. And I can't wait to get up each morning to think about helping somebody to think through these things because I know what's happening when we do it. So that's what it's all about.
Well I can hear the passion in your voice on that. And it sounds like an excellent program. So how do you recommend we would use that program? Is it something like the advisors should go through it first? Or do the advisors bring a bunch of clients? Can you give me a little more information on how you would think the best benefit would be received from the program?
If the advisors go through at first Bryan like yourself as we've done, we just did a program in Scottsdale just within the past few months before our pandemic hit. And it's interesting when you see not just advisors, but senior leaders of wealth, financial services firms that also attended. The first thing they thought about Bryan, not just themselves, but they said, I've got so many clients that would benefit from this. So I believe starting yourself to really get a good handle on this thing. And then what we're doing is talking to a lot of folks like yourself, about actually doing client events or potentially learning the methodologies around what we teach and bringing it on board so you can launch these programs to your clientele systematically, strategically within your own client base, within your own communities. Another way to add differentiation to your practice Bryan, I can tell you this, not a lot of people would be thinking about this.
With our intellectual property around knowing and pricing your value, we were just asked by one of our institutional clients to do a client event for small business owners, to talk about how these principles of unique introspection and knowing your value, dis-aggregating it, pricing it applies to one of your clients who might be someone in the construction business, or they might be a realtor or an architect, an engineer, someone who runs a small business that caters to a boutique audience of their own or whatever. It doesn't matter. People have to know their value. It doesn't matter, any walk of life. So we got asked recently to do a client event to help.
It was advisor thinking. I can further distinguish my practice by bringing some extraordinary value to my clients, not just bringing in the typical portfolio manager, here's our firm, key economist, we're going to tell you all about the future of healthcare and longevity, whatever. But we're going to help you to run your businesses differently or better and now, when you throw on the sabbatical, is that we're going to help you to really think about your life and what you can do to really max out, to think about the type of vision for your life and things. And to take your practice Bryan, is financial entrepreneurs guiding them now, is another way of adding another arrow in your quiver, another golf club in your bag, let's say a hybrid club that you can use with select clients to really help to take the conversations really, really deep.
Yeah. It sounds like an amazing way of differentiating yourself. So I'll look forward to seeing more on that as you continue to develop that. And I'm kind of amazed how fast the time has gone. This has been so fun Leo, but if you could do one thing as we wrap up here today. First of all, before you leave, I want to make sure you tell all the listeners, how do we get a hold of you? How do we learn more about discovering your value in the sabbatical experience, but maybe also just one piece of advice that you'd give a successful wealth advisor? What would that be?
Well, the contact intelligence is simple. I'll just give you my phone number here in beautiful Buffalo and my email. It's probably better with my email. It's just simply email@example.com. You can find us on our website for pusatericonsulting.com or The Sabbatical Experience. You can Google that. You'll see a bunch of videos and interviews with a lot of selected people. And the members of my board people, Bryan people like you, that we're singing up. Price Waterhouse or Corning Glassworks. We took an eclectic group of potential clients, high-level C-suite type of folks to contribute their thinking. So that's the best way to reach me.
As a final takeaway, it fundamentally comes down to what I'm all about, know your value. Know your value and get closer to your clients than you've ever, ever been before. And that's what a lot of my new work is helping us to do. So thank you, Bryan, for the time today. Pleasure to work with you my friend.
Absolutely. This has absolutely been a treat and I'll put the website and everything like that in the show notes too. So if somebody wants to look at it, it'll be there. So thanks again Leo, this has been a pleasure to get to spend a little more time with you and Leo's work is amazing. We've used him a couple of different times for some projects, as I mentioned. So please check out his website. You'll appreciate the services and the things that he can do and get you to realize there are areas that you can make improvements on, and he's a genius at helping you to recognize those. So with that, we'll wrap up The Ultimate Advisor Podcast for this week. We look forward to seeing everybody here next week on our new episode. Thank you.
Hey there, Brittany Anderson here. If you are loving what you're hearing on our Ultimate Advisor Podcast, don't keep us a secret. Share us with other advisors that you think would benefit from the messages that you are hearing. The easiest way to do that is just simply send them to ultimateadvisorpodcast.com. And if you want to learn a few other ways that we could potentially serve you as an advisor, go check out ultimateadvisormastermind.com. As always, we are so happy to have you here with us as part of the Ultimate Advisor community, and we look forward to a continued relationship.
© Copyrights by Ultimate Advisor. All Rights Reserved.
Ultimate Advisor is NOT a financial advising firm and does not provide financial services.