Bill Cates – Welcome to the Top Advisor Podcast brought to you by ProudMouth’s Pod Rocket Academy. I’m your host, Bill Cates, creator of the Cates Academy for Relationship Marketing. In each episode, I interview one of our industry’s top performers, getting them to pass on their secrets to success to you. So that you can impact more lives and generate more income. Now on to the show.
Welcome. Welcome. Before we get going, I want to let you know about some free resources that I invite you to retrieve after you’ve listened to today’s interview. You’ll find checklists, guides, videos, other tools. Simply go to referralcoach.com/resources. Now write this down unless you’re driving, of course. That’s referralcoach.com/resources, and it’s also in the show notes. While you’re there, make sure you sign up for our weekly tips. We’re always sharing best practices. We’ll notify you of our newest podcast interviews as they go live and while all of these things are free to you, I think you’ll find them quite valuable.
I also think you’re going to find today’s show very interesting. We’re going to talk about messaging your value, a little about differentiation, the use of humor, and the crossroads of where digital marketing and referrals come together.
Our featured guest today is Dave Armstrong, CFA, the president and co founder of Monument Wealth Management in Alexandria, Virginia, which is a suburb of Washington, DC where I grew up. When you click the about section of Dave’s website, the headline reads “On paper we’re a wealth management firm. In reality, we’re equal parts creative lab, brain trust, and outspoken critics of the financial industry.” Later on that same page, you’ll find What we really are is a team of razor sharp, innovative, collaborative, and creative thinkers with seasoned financial expertise, a renegade spirit, and zero commitment issues. You can already tell that he likes to have a little fun and creativity with this.
So I’ve reviewed 100, if not thousands of advisor websites over the years, and Dave’s website is probably one of the more interesting and genuine. He and his team are not using the same old trite and boring copy. It’s fun, but not silly. It’s authentic and mostly about the visitor. It’s concise and interesting, and their use of wit and creativity makes me wanna keep reading. And I can tell you thats very rare. What stood out to me initially, what prompted me to contact Dave was his use of humor, and I’ve learned there’s so much more going on with Dave and his team than just their charm and humor, and we’ll get to all of that in due time. When I told Dave that I appreciated his authentic use of humor, this is what he said. “These are our website barely scratches the surface of the fun we have. In an Instagram reel, I described a Silicon Valley bank situation by setting something on fire There is never a dull moment around Monument.” He went on to say, “we have a saying around here. We’re not trying to resonate with everybody. We’re just trying to resonate with somebody. The number one compliment we get from our clients is that we are completely real and relatable.”
I promise to let Dave speak, really, but one more quick example how of how he is having fun with his messaging. In the first paragraph of his website bio, it says this. “Dave got into the industry when he discovered his passion for finance in his mid twenties. He’s a combat veteran and served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps on both active duty and in the reserve, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. While serving on active duty, Dave wasn’t able to spend money on deployments, so he became a self taught investor. His investing performance grew to be good enough to pay for an MBA, a new car, and 2 years of living expenses. He was proud of that, so after returning home for, an MBA at his alma mater, the University of South Carolina, Dave became a CFA, because he says, what could possibly be more fun than spending an additional 3 years earning the CFA charter?” Turns out a lot of things. but he’s glad he got it. That’s on his bio. So Dave Armstrong, welcome to top advisor podcast.
Dave Armstrong: Thank you very much for having me. I will say that the dirty little secret in my bio there is that it took me 4 years to get my CFA charter. So for those of you out there with the CFA, you know how hard it is to get those things done back to back so, yeah, I had, 4 years of it.
Bill: Oh, we’re gonna have to edit your website then.
Dave: Exactly. I will say though that in the bio, the one thing that that even this there was, one of my true passions is trying to score under a 100 on the golf course. So I’m still working on that. I’ve been working on it for a year now and and I’m getting close.
Bill: Well, what you need to do is what I’m doing is I’m working towards shooting my age. So I have to get older and then, you know, just stay good enough that when I hit, I don’t know, 84, I can shoot an 84. Right. Or something like that.
Bill: Dave, I know you worked for a name brand Wall Street firm for about 6 years the firm that shall not be named before going independent and co founding your own RIA, What made you and your partner decide to go independent?
Dave: You know, there really wasn’t one thing. It was more, a combination of a few different things. and and advisors will understand what I mean by this, but I’ll explain it very simply for people who are listening that maybe aren’t advisors. But I had a problem reconciling the difference between the the between the financials and the cost of goods sold, and it just didn’t make sense to me. So as you know, I’m not I know I’m gonna I’m just gonna estimate this, approximate it. An adviser at a big firm is getting 40 percent 40¢ on every dollar of revenue or production that they create for the firm. And so that means that your firm is keeping 60% of the money So if you’re a rough math, if you’re a $1,000,000 producer, I’m asking myself, what was I getting for the $60,000 of, you know, cost of goods sold? And I just looked around my two hundred square foot office and my desk and my PC and my telephone. And I just thought I this this is not it’s not $600,000 worth of goods and services.
So I started questioning just the financial arrangement, and I really didn’t feel like the brand was giving me very much, goodwill there. So not that it was giving me bad will, but it just wasn’t marketing firm. I was marketing Dave Armstrong. So, that was the first thing that kinda got me interested in starting my own firm. I just thought I could spend that $600 better. from there, I just realized that I was handicapped. There was this huge inability to be creative and communicate with clients due to the, due to the compliance nature and which I totally understand. but we knew that our value proposition was having unfiltered opinions and giving straightforward advice. And the reason we felt that was our value proposition was because nobody can replicate my unfiltered opinions or my advice, even if they tried because those things are uniquely our own. And those opinions inform our advice. So we felt like we needed a way to communicate our opinions and advice to clients Cates and those people who were looking for a new wealth management solution, and we just couldn’t communicate very well under the compliance structure. at a big firm. So that was that was kind of the second big thing that that piled on there too.
Dave: And then the 3rd and final thing that really pushed us over the goal line on this decision was that, you know, we wanted to provide advice that was grounded in rigorous financial planning, which we were not allowed to do at the big firm also due to compliance. So those three things together are what got that bolder moving downhill back in in the spring of 2008.
Bill: Well, you know, I know that some folks like the name name brand firms, they feel that it helps attract clients. And it and it does. There are some folks out there that wanna work with the name brand. Right? And so what’s the choice? I’m not advocating to anybody that they go independent necessarily, but I think it’s good to always make informed decisions, why stay where you are, why move, and, so I appreciate that. I think probably, you know, that unfiltered advice it allowed you to be you. And if you feel hamstrung all the time, then, you know, it’s you’re not enjoying it as much. Right? And probably to do real good in-depth financial planning, which is really in the client’s best interest.
And also happens to be in the advisor’s interest because when you do a great plan, you capture more assets, you have higher client loyalty, you become more referable, Right? So it’s in both parties interest, to do that. So, and I know we’re gonna get a little more into the unfiltered advice and you speaking your mind and all that sort of stuff in a little bit. what are just to give people a little more context, what are some of the demographic and or psychographic attributes of the clients that you’re attracting into your business.
Dave: Right. So I I classify our target market in terms of the assets that they have between $3 -$10 million. I think we absolutely kill it in the 3 to $10,000,000 space. It’s below where the the big folks with a lot of financial resources are are you know, treading water, and it’s certainly, it is in a, you know, it’s in the fat part of the egg, I’ll call it. Especially in the Washington DC area. So that’s sort of the target market from standpoint of of the money, but more of the the good fit there, the, the psychographic attributes of a client that’s attracted to Monument or I like to use this analogy of it’s like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Right? Both of those sides of the sandwich have to go together well in order for you to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So maybe a great way to answer this question is to tell you who we don’t work with because the 3 to $5,000,000 space can be pretty big. Right? So here are a couple of psychographics that do not fit well in into my practice. If a potential client or a current client is somebody who thinks that they’re the smartest person in the room, The chances of them taking my advice when it would matter the most is very, very low. So that person doesn’t tend to fit very well into our practice. we’re looking for people who truly want our opinion and our advice. And if they’re not gonna take it, then they’re paying for something that they’re not using and that’s not a really good fit. It it certainly doesn’t fill my desire to do this job. Another another example of somebody is somebody who’s a silver bullet believer. If a client’s main goal is just and for those listening, I’m using my air quotes here more, right, more, it just that cannot be quantified. So it’s a useless goal So if I meet somebody who who I say, you know, what are your goals? And they say, well, to make as much money as possible. I hope to make more money. I I immediately know that that If that client did come into the practice, we’d probably be renting them, and they would eventually leave because somebody would convince them that they could do more better than than we do. So that’s kind of a bad fit too.
And then you’ve gotten to know me a little bit, Bill, and so you understand this, but people with big egos or looking for that suit and cuff link and, you know, dark paneled wood law firm type office, who believe that sophisticated investments are the hallmark of a good portfolio. Those people aren’t good clients for us either because we believe in basic good blocking and tackling long term investment strategy sticking with a philosophy and having a process.
And then the final thing that will make somebody really bad client is if they hate dogs, because that’s just a deal breaker. We, we bring our we bring our dogs to the office every single day. As a matter of fact, you may even hear them chime in some of their own unfiltered, opinions and straightforward advice if the doorbell rings, but, you’ll just have to excuse them for chiming in.
Bill: So if you ask them how the market’s gone today, it might go ruff?
Dave: Yes. Exactly. It made very ruff ruff.
Bill: It’s going to lower rough today. Right.
Well, I love it. I’ve worked with, coached, visited, many advisors over the years with dogs in the office. They and we’ve done We’ve been doing, like, seminars together, and they have to have a dog break. and they take the dogs out. It’s it it can be a lot of fun, not for everybody, clearly.
Dave: It’s not. No. Yeah.
Bill: And you’re doing what I, you know, teach and what most people know to do is you wanna attract the people you wanna attract and Repell, the ones you don’t want to attract. I know Rapell sounds like a strong word, but Mhmm. Right? How you talk about your value is gonna bring on the people you want they’re gonna see your little bit of wit and humor, and that’s either gonna attract them or not. And if it does, then they’re more likely to be in line. So, staying with this fun and dog theme, so how did the fun part of your messaging get started, was it always that way? I remember you telling me something had to do with a dog or dogs. so elaborate on that
Dave: Yeah. It’s it’s it’s all intermingled. So when we first started Monument, my hour quest to be different was so strong. because we really thought that being different was a differentiator. Until we met a woman named Terry Trespico, who has a fantastic set of YouTube videos. Specifically, she does it. She has a TED Talk with over 6,000,000 views, and you could just google Terry Trespico. And I’m I can give you the link and you could put it in your show notes.
Bill: Yeah – let’s do that.
Dave: She was fantastic. And as I got to know her, she has no experience in this industry whatsoever, which was Absolutely perfect. So she challenged me. She said, well, what makes you different? And I just started pounding the table. I’m like, because I say so, is essentially what I was saying to her. and I was getting super aggravated by the line of questioning And then she just she got me to realize that just because you say you’re different doesn’t really mean you’re different. You really have to be different. So she started to work with us on helping us change our voice and get away from what I call the blah blah blah. So much so that I had a piece of artwork commissioned where I put down 95 different words that we blah blah blah on the finance in tree through a big splash of red paint over the words and wrote the word blah blah blah over it to remind me every single day. that people can’t stand the blah blah blah. And she helped us find and focus on a really authentic voice. And in that discovery of how powerful the authentic voice could be. It completely changed the dynamic and the culture of my firm.
Bill: Tell me more about that. I mean, was it that allow you to be yourself and, and not I don’t know, being someone you weren’t really or fully, that and it freed up other people to be themselves as well.
Dave: You know what it did? It gave me permission to be myself. I gave myself permission to be myself because I have a big personality I like telling stories. I like telling jokes. And what I what I realized was that if I was gonna embrace my my true personality. And the firm was gonna embrace each person, and the firm was gonna embrace their true personality and therefore create a cultural personality that we were going to repel some people. There were going there and there are people who will look at our practice and say, that is not for me. And that’s where we came back to the we’re not trying to resonate with everybody. We’re just trying to resonate with somebody. So if a hundred people come to my website and one person says I really like this, that is a total win for me because that means 99 people didn’t waste my time trying to put a square peg into a round hole and and become a client, or I try to put a square peg into a round hole. So that was that is how the whole personality thing got started. And and in adopting this desire to have our own voice, we completely changed everything about our practice. We changed what we wear to work every single day, and we just started wearing clothes that we wear every single day when we see our that our clients wear every single day. I had, and then the dog story kind of joined into that at the same exact time because and there’s a little bit of a sad story, so I’ll rush through it. But I had a dog that got diagnosed with cancer. And it was sudden. It was not expected. He wasn’t even old. And the doctor said, he’s got about 3 3 months to live. And so I came to work, and I brought him to work. And I said to everybody I said this dog is coming to work with me every single day. I don’t care what the building says. I don’t care what clients say. I don’t say what our neighbors say. I don’t care. They can all go get lost. All I said, I used another phrase. And and and that was the beginning of it. And I just said, look, if people don’t like it, they can put off their meeting for 3 months. or I’ll let him stay in my office on his dog then just close a door. And what we discovered was that where I thought 9 out of every ten people would think that having the dogs in the was completely unprofessional and not in keeping with somebody who is managing $3m to $10m of their net worth and giving them advice. That was really important. Everybody loved it. It is so far as we went into Salesforce and we put in fields that say how much, like, on a scale 1 to 10, how much do people like the dogs? So we know when somebody’s coming in, if they’re a 10 out of 10, they’re greeting them at the door. Right? They’re jumping up on them and everything else. And if they are 2, they stay in one of the offices and we close the door and, you know, that kind of thing. But people absolutely loved it. And they would where are the dogs today? Oh, you know, and they we started putting them on the website and featuring them more on our social media. And not that this is a niche, but it’s a niche of a niche. People who like dogs look at the practice and look at us and say, like, these are normal authentic people They’re bringing their dogs to work every single day. How great is that? What kind of what kind of great practice is this where they get to bring their, you know, some of their best friends in the world to to work every single day? That was how the dog thing kind of intersected with the us finding our voice.
And once we found our voice, we really took it to an extreme. So I like to use a road as an example with the yellow line running down to the middle, and most people will drive on a two lane road with their tires somewhere in between white line on the right and the yellow line on the on the left. We’ve got 2 tires in the ditch off the side of the road. That’s where we are. Right?
Dave: And some people think it’s great, and they hire us. And then some people are like, this is not for me. And for them, There are all these other firms out there that they can choose from. Who, by the way, have awesome advisors and awesome advice They just have a different personality and culture. And if that’s what they’re looking for, I you know, I’ll go introduce them to my friends over there.
Bill: Well, you know, this this comes down to a word that you don’t hear a lot in this industry. it’s come up a few times in other podcast interviews, but that’s a joy. It’s just, you know, having joy at work. I mean, there’s enough pressure. There’s enough deadlines. There’s enough of that other stuff, that doesn’t go away. muzzle add a little joy in there. to counterbalance. Right? so, I mean, are you advocating that your clients, their dogs get powers of attorney and things like that?
Dave: Or, We just finished up working on a trusted estate plan with a client who literally wrote into their entire Cates plan who if in in the event that they were both killed, who got their dogs and how much money was allocated to the to the risk the the trustee of their animals. So people people do take it seriously.
I will tell you a quick good story, though, about the the power of our authentic voice. And because on our website, it literally says, we will not like you if you act like these, and I kinda read them before, but I went out and I got introduced to, a client who was selling a business, and we were playing golf. During COVID, we were out as kinda nice to be out. And he said to me at the end, he goes, look. I I know what you do for a living. And, I don’t wanna come out here and play golf with you and pretend I don’t know what you do for a living. So I went to your website because I wanted to learn a little bit more about you, and I came across that section on your website where it says, we won’t like you if you act like this. And he said, you know, who wrote that? I said, I did. I said, you know, me and and Terry, we wrote it together, and then the whole firm added into it. And he goes, He goes, I’ve never seen anything like that in my entire life. And I’ve I’ve had financial advisors for over 25 years. He goes, no one has ever said anything that wingian and direct ever anywhere. And I said, well, did you like it? And he goes, well, I don’t think I’ll be a good client for you because I actually reflect a lot of those behaviors. And I said, well, maybe that’s a sign you should change.
Bill: Oh god. You said that to him.
Dave: Those were my exact words to him. Those that was my, you know, big moment. And I just said, because, again, I’m not trying to resonate with every body. And and this is also this statement won’t apply to everybody, but it’ll apply to a lot of people. Sometimes you get to a point in your practice and your growth and your revenue where you don’t need that next client. You you want that You want to grow your business, but your lights aren’t going off at the end of the month if you don’t get that client. You every advisor will get to that point where their business is self sustaining And you just have to ask yourself, is that incremental piece of growth really worth re and to me and us, it’s not. So I’m not even gonna flirt with somebody if they’re
Bill: So did you play golf with this guy?
Dave: I did. Oh, then that was at the end of the round. And, 2 months Cates, he hired us.
Bill: I love it. I love it. So so now we can we we can put a an ROI on all this nonsense. Sure. Cates good. Well No.
Dave: Hard, but we can try.
Bill: Yeah. I mean, this this idea of differentiation, I I find that I I wonder sometimes if it’s overrated and that, do clients wanna know what makes you different, or do they wanna know if you’re right for them? And maybe that’s the wrong question or maybe that differentiation shows that you’re right for them. Does that make sense to you? I mean, you know, there there’s a lot of people are very successful in this business that aren’t really very different. they do the blah blah and all the other things. and they come to me sometimes to help them figure out what makes them different, but they’ve already been pretty darn successful. So, like, if you just comment how, you know, what what how’s that shown up for you?
Dave: Well, I I truly do believe that the ultimate yes when you get to when you ultimately get to yes, where a client, where you and a client decide to work together, you have established a value proposition that they feel is is valuable enough for them to pay for. So if if everything is blah blah blah, I think people start to question what are they actually paying for? And so I have gone through a couple of knee surgeries in my past. And the very first time I injured my knee, I went out and found a couple of orthopedic surgeons, and I I’m at 3 of them. Well, they all went to great schools. They all have all the degrees, all the tools, everything. Everything was the same. We did each one of them, but I had to pick one of them. And I just picked the one who I felt like I had the most in common with, and he kinda understood my lifestyle and what I was trying to get in what we just had the most in common. it really just boiled down. Do I pick the doctor that I liked the most? The other 2, if I’d pick them, they probably would have done just as great of a surgery as the one I picked. just don’t know if the experience would have been as bedside manner or things like that, or would they have explained things to me in a way that I wanted them to explain it, or they explain it like a doctor? I think it’s very similar to that. So I feel like there’s there’s really we tend to look at client acquisition as winning or losing. Right? You you lose a client. You win a new client. And and I don’t really think it’s about winning or losing. It’s about finding the right fit. So I could argue that losing a client is a great thing because that means that at some at some juncture, they did not align with your value proposition or what you were what they were paying for is what they wanted to get. And and when you lose a client like that, I think it’s a I think it’s a victory. It’s it’s a gift. I mean, you don’t want it to end poorly. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about burning bridges, but because that that frees up your time, your your true your one resource that you can’t spend any more money to get. It frees it up to to then apply that time to the people who are subscribing to what you do as a valued proposition and do resonate with you, even if it’s only, I mean, Bill, even if it’s only that they just like you more than everybody else.
Bill: Yeah. I mean, like, ability factor or trust, you know, I mean, we like people that are kinda like our us a little bit. It’s natural human nature.
Bill: Good. That is it it’s good answer. It’s like you don’t necessarily have to be different, but being authentic will probably make you different than a lot of others anyway. Right. it’s on your website. We’re gonna shift a little here. Sure. And your and your LinkedIn profile. You refer to yourself and your team as, I think I said it earlier, outsposed out spoken critics of the financial industry. So how does that show up for you, and for your clients? And How do your prospects and clients respond to that message?
Dave: Yeah. If I could, I would use a lot of curse words on my site to explain my my contempt for the industry in some points, but, it that wouldn’t resonate with a whole lot of people, but It sets the stage for, you know, what I am really critical about with the industry. And it has nothing to do with a firm or a business model or the people in it, it has to do with the burden of compliance. And that is where we are the most outspoken critics of the financial industry because there was a difference between being in the broker dealer world and being in the RIA fee only world. And then there’s that world where people have both those hats on and the hybrid But when you’re a hybrid, you are still accountable for the broker dealer compliance rule. So even though hybrid advisors like to think of themselves as you know, fiduciaries and acting the best interest of their clients. I know that they are, but they are still constrained by this BD compliance model that does not act in the best interest of the clients. And so because I feel like broker dealer compliance doesn’t focus on the best interests of the clients and all of the and basically all of the rules that keep you from effectively and clearly communicating with them are all the proof anybody needs to know that that side of the business is rife with problems and open to my and other people’s criticism. So when I say I’m an outspoken critic of the financial industry, should really say is I’m the outspoken critic of the broker dealer model because of their compliance, not because of the people, not because the firms, not because of the integrity. It’s just they they are prohibited from communicating with their clients in a way that I feel clients want to be with, which is clearly openly and factually.
Bill: Yeah. I’ve had conversations with my own adviser around that sometimes. He he says, Cates go out ride bikes. You know, let’s go out on my boat. I’ll talk to you about this off the record.
Dave: Right. Let me call you. I don’t wanna email you because I can’t say it in an email, but I can say it over a telephone. Well, how is that in the best interest of the client? Right. You know, here here’s the other thing about being an outspoken critic of the industry is that I’ve discovered that clients who are looking for us because everybody starts with an internet search these days. How do I find a new advisor? How any whatever it is. However, they land on our website what I find is that they too are already critics of the industry because they’re looking to leave an advisor that they have, who’s probably hamstrung by a lot of these compliance issues. It’s probably a catalyst for some of the relationship issues that they’re having. So Not only my outspoke and critic of the industry, but most of my new clients are as well. They just don’t say it like that.
Bill: It it attracts some. It may create curiosity for others, which creates a conversation. Yeah. It’s that’s good. another shift here. You have a podcast. it’s called off the wall. And the tagline is the podcast redefining wealth for founders and high earning execs. So what made you decide to start the podcast? What are some of the topics you cover? And and and one and some people are gonna wondering how has that actually contributed to the growth of your business?
Dave: Right. So I I think the podcast idea started out and I’m using my air quotes for listeners in the old days. And when I say the old days, I mean, 15 years ago when I I just thought, if I could have a radio show with a microphone and just talk to people and parents I’d have to get them to listen, but let’s just assume that was successful in that. I would have such a better time communicating what I thought was important, real, and most importantly, not important. to them as investors. I talk faster than I type. I communicate better in the digital spoken medium than I do in the written medium. Although I do try do have a blog and I try to write like I speak. Actually, what I try to say is I write like I talk, even though it’s not correct English. That’s that’s what I’m trying to do. And So so the podcast, all of a sudden, came from just the popularity of podcasts. And I looked at it and say, okay. I’m in this RIA only world. I have a lot more latitude in what I can say and the mediums that I can use to communicate, why wouldn’t I just create my on demand radio show by just having a podcast? and having a format that is fun, interactive, debating, back and forth. And while this example may not resonate with everybody, everybody will understand it, which is, you know, when I listen to Howard Stern interview somebody, he’s one of the most phenomenal question askers and interviewers and he’s not even trying. He’s just talking to people and asking them questions and and then following up on questions. And I thought, my god, if I could have something like that where people were listening to it and learning from it, that would just be one more mechanism that I could have to demonstrate to people that our unfiltered opinion and straightforward advice is really our value proposition, and they can start to experience it without really becoming a client. So that was the genesis of the podcast. It started in 2021. I co host it with one of my other partners, Jessica Gibbs, And, again, I’ll use the Howard Sherman. She, you know, she’s the robbing quivers to the to the right.
Dave: I mean, she’s the level headed call me out on things. We’ll calm you down. We’ll keep you on topics. Keep me straight. And then I do my best to try to rile her a little bit too, or like Michael Smyrkanish and his, the woman that helps him, JC. I can’t remember her name off the top of my head, but, so so we are a great dynamic duo as cohosts on this thing. And we just started out with the with the attitude of We don’t want the pod we don’t want the perfect podcast to be the enemy of just good enough. So we said, let’s just start recording. Let’s just hit record and do something. And it started off where you we would talk about the things that are natural to us, which is where the mark which was the market, But then again, everybody’s so in tune with the news and everything.
You know, your market updates by the time it gets edited out in a podcast, it’s a week old. And so while while it could be interesting, we knew that that wasn’t gonna be the future. It was a great vehicle for us to get going with the the production aspect of it. and the the sequencing. But what we decided was we really wanted to have a podcast had had featured a lot more guests on it. So we’ve been bringing on guests who will talk about things that we think will resonate with our target market. We’ll resonate with business founders, wealthy executives who are looking to scale up or sell their business or build their personal wealth or transfer their wealth from their business to their personal wealth. If we bring people in who are attorneys, investment bankers, trust in the state people, business brokers, business coaches, things like that. And they and we give them a platform to talk about themselves. the listeners will get something out of it. And so that really we looked at that and we saw it. We thought, okay. Could that be a mechanism to help us grow? And so what it’s turned into is we talk about the markets four times a year. to the public quarterly. Hey. Here’s what happened. Here’s what’s interesting. And then we start with our own opinions, and we have some debate and there’s some pretty open debates that that make it onto the recordings. And for for clients, only we have a locked client only podcast where we talk on a monthly basis about any changes that we’ve made in their managed portfolio. So there’s actually 2 podcasts. and that’s what we’ve gotten some great feedback from our current clients. So they say, like, jeez, I can cut I can get up to date on what you guys did in the portfolio on a 20 minute ride to work. and I don’t have to read your email. I don’t have to talk to you on the phone, and it’s it’s effective and efficient and and they like that. Now you you asked about the ROI here’s the real answer on the ROI. I have no idea. But I know when I talked to new clients and I asked them what it was that resonated, they’ll name they don’t say one thing. They don’t say I joined because I heard your podcast I thought you were so smart. I had to hire you right away. Right? Nobody says that. It’s like, you know, if you put out a tweet on Twitter, you say, hey. you know, man the phones. I’m about to send out a tweet. It’s the phone doesn’t ring off the hook, but any one thing. It’s always stringing together a bunch of content that lets people who are casually listening to you or casually exploring you. to get a constant reinforcement of what it is that you’re good at and whether or not what you do is something that they need. And the podcast is a huge component of that. Now Here’s a great thing about the podcast. I can look at all the statistics. So since we launched it, we’ve had about 12,000 downloads, currently our series on business exit planning is very popular and has been downloaded more. Our quarterly market reviews are always a big hit because that’s a lot more person out there’s no script to that. Right? That is just four people just blasting each other about what we think, and that’s very popular too. So I can see which ones resonate with people and which ones don’t. And that drives that drives our our content scheduling going forward. So we have somebody on that, I think, would be really, really popular, and they’re not. I know it. And I say, you know, maybe that’s just not may maybe I thought it would be great, but no one else did. So we don’t do it. So so that’s really great that you can measure the podcast
Bill: Yeah. I agree. I go through our stats all the time and see what topics seem to be drawing more than others. I think we, we just crossed the 50,000 download Mark. So I’m feeling — Congratulations.
Dave: It’s amazing. Awesome. That’s great.
Bill: It and it we’re in the top 10% of podcast worldwide, which means a lot of folks who have podcasts aren’t getting many downloads if 50,000 put us in the top. Dave, I have one more really big topic I wanna cover with you. Cates it’s your digital marketing strategy and how you blend that with referrals. And I hope everyone will stick around for this, because it was eye opening for me. But first, let’s take a very brief pause to listen to a word from our sponsor. pod Rocket Influence Academy brought to you by ProudMouth. First, they make this podcast possible, and their core business is helping financial advisors accelerate their influence through marketing activities like With me is Dave Armstrong, CFA president and cofounder of Monument Wealth Management Cates in Alexandria, Virginia near Washington, DC, where there’s a lot of monuments. So I get the idea why you called it that Let’s let’s talk digital marketing and referrals. Many people view view these as kind of mutually exclusive activities, and I know you don’t. So I know you get a lot of unsolicited referrals from clients, which is great. It’s a barometer re referability, unsolicited referrals count. We should never discount, especially if they’re the right kind, but I know you’ve also created a pipeline that’s generating new clients. So we’re all ears Tell us about referrals, about your marketing pipeline, and how they seem to come together for you.
Dave: It all came together for me in when COVID hit and every button in the market was down very, very, a lot and very fast. And everybody was clamoring for what do their advisors think? What do people think? And I made it a mission. I wrote a blog every single day over COVID telling people, here’s what I think. Here’s what I know. Here’s what I don’t know, and here’s what’s important. Here’s what’s not important. And I every single day I was communicating with my clients, we hadn’t started the podcast yet. And within 6 weeks, we brought in close to $25,000,000 of new client money just because people saw those blogs, and this is this in one way or another, this is what they said. I keep asking my person for advice, and I’m either getting research reports or something that wasn’t their opinion. And every single day, I look at your blog and you are out there in plain language telling people what you think, what they should be doing, what they should be thinking about, what they shouldn’t be thinking about. And I wanna know if you’re taking on new clients.
So when that happened and that’s not an exaggeration. That’s true. I walked into the practice one day when I walked into our virtual meeting. And I said, we’re on to something here. We’re on to something here with this digital medium because this is a full time business development person that will work 365 days a year. We’ll never quit. We’ll occasionally ask for a raise. doesn’t need health Cates. We’ll never get sick and never want vacation. This digital medium. That that’s right. Exactly. Right. This digital medium is a business development person that’s gonna work full time for us. We just have to tell them what we want them to say. And so that started the whole initiative of having this second pipeline.
While I truly believe that the referral aspect of anybody’s business is and will continue to be very, very strong just by hue just because of human nature. This other pipeline is starting is has been working for us as well. And where they’ve really started to work together is that clients now don’t have to do a pitch for us. Somebody comes up and then says, hey, you know, I’m looking. Who who do you use for adviser? Whatever starts the whatever starts the ask for a referral or an idea. All the client has to say now is I use Monument Wealth Management. Go check out their website and see what you think, and they’ll come to our website and they’ll see blogs podcasts, commentary, information, and they they don’t so our clients don’t have to pitch us now. It also helps because in in in building building relationships I don’t have to coach up a client on what to say for a referral. I don’t have to coach anybody up for anything. All they have to do is know my name. I don’t even hand out business cards anymore. I just I am at Monument Wealth Management. Just Google it. You’ll find it. You’ll see everything you need on there. That’s that’s really, really great.
But at the same time, that digital pipeline serves another concurrent purpose, which is people these days will go to the Internet with a problem and look for a solution. They go to Google and they type in, how do I find a new financial advisor? Who’s the best financial advisor? or or something specific like tax management strategies for high net worth people. And if you’re creating content in the digital space and you start ranking for those terms and coming people will come to my website having never known that I existed. No referral. No nothing. Just that they just end up there. And we are routinely bringing in new clients in our target market space, in our target market area. routinely through web forms. They’ll come to a website and they’ll say, I wanna learn more about this. Here’s some basic information on me. We have a screening call with them, and then we find out if they’re fit. We are bringing in clients that aren’t even coming from referrals anymore. So that’s been very, very powerful. So I believe that this medium is something that should be embraced somehow by everybody, and I will continue to invest money into it as if it were an employee.
Bill: You know, you’re talking about content marketing and, the problem with most devices that I’ve seen is that what they write isn’t very interesting or compelling, maybe because they’re hamstrung by compliance or maybe they’re just armstonged by their own lack of ingenuity and creativity, and not everyone can be creative and witty, but I think the style in which you write or pot or interview also does something. Right? It’s the content, but it’s also how you deliver the content. And so, you know, a lot of folks are trying to tell advisors that, you know, content marketing, content marketing well. It’s not just any content. It’s it’s the right kind displayed in the right way. And giving clients a tool to introduce you in, episode 27 of the podcast. I interviewed Jerry, Jeremy Kyle out, and he’s in Milwaukee. And, Harley Davidson is his target market, and he did a podcast. It was totally developed, dedicated to the benefits package at Harley Davidson. pros cons, everything. And that’s what his clients used to refer him. They go, listen to this. Right. And then people listen to him and they go, ah, He knows us. He works with us, folks like us, and that brings brings, clients. So you have a tool in a way. Your pot your website is actually creating business for you. And I guarantee most advisers can’t say that, that their website is actually helping them convert prospects to clients, which which yours is. So, yeah, kudos to you.
Dave: Thank you. I think every new, every advisor and specifically every new advisor needs to start looking at this medium and needs to start looking at their team of talent and not necessarily finding the best CFP out there. You should have one. But advisor teams need to start thinking of themselves as a media company as well. They need to be able to create content in a way that media creates content that is that you can listen to it’s entertaining. It’s educational. And so as people start to build their teams out, they’re gonna start to happen. Who’s the big personality on the team? Who’s the person that can get on to the media and project our personality talk about our value proposition in a way that will resonate with somebody that will then fill out that lead form and wanna come in and learn more about your practice. And I think it’s harder on the wire. It’s not impossible. It’s just harder, on the RIA side, I just think it is a function of effort and sitting down and deciding you wanna do it. Yeah.
Bill: It can be done on on the, warehouse side. I have a friend and client, with Morgan Stanley and killing it with video. It took him a whole year to convince Morgan Stanley to let him use video and all that, but now it’s it’s going quite well.
Dave: That’s great.
Bill: My featured guest on today’s show has been Dave Armstrong, president, cofounder of Monument Wealth Management, Dave. Thank you for being a great guest, for us today. Much appreciated.
Dave: Thank you for having me on.
Bill: You bet.
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This is Bill Cates reminding you that ideas do not make you more successful. Only acting on those ideas will bring you the success you desire. Thanks for stopping by.
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