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Top Advisor Podcast™
An engaged client is someone who feels connected to your value and connected to you as an advisor.
Is your business truly maximizing client engagement?
In this episode, Bill Cates speaks with E. Scott Miller, Vice President and Investment Officer at Wells Fargo Advisors. Scott shares how he has created the “wow factor” in his business relationships, and how his client engagement strategy has led to incredible loyalty and, in many cases, a number of referrals.
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Welcome to the Top Advisor Podcast brought to you by ProudMouth’s Influence Accelerator Academy. I’m your host, Bill Cates. In each episode, I interview one of the financial service industries top performers to learn their secrets to sustain success. Short interviews will get right to the heart of what each top advisor is doing to acquire more right fit clients.
You’ll be reminded, renewed and inspired to take powerful action. You’ll impact more lives and increase your income at the same time. Now onto the show.
Welcome to Top Advisor Podcast, where I am interview top advisors for top advisors. Research tells us that satisfied clients tend to be loyal. But in one study conducted by Julia Littlechild out of Toronto, Canada, satisfied clients had a 98% loyalty rating and that’s good.
You want to retain all of your clients, right? Well, at least most of them. But you probably have a couple you wouldn’t mind offloading to someone else. However, and it’s a big however, there’s a low correlation between satisfied clients and the giving of referrals or making introductions.
What we need, both you and I, are engaged clients. So Bill what’s an engaged client? Well, I’m glad you asked. An engaged client is one who feels connected to your value and connected to you as a person. There’s a value connection and a personal connection. This is why I’m such an advocate for client appreciation events and the like. They are opportunities to build these all important business friendships.
Enter today’s guest Scott Miller based in San Diego, California. He and I have been communicating mostly through email, occasionally phone calls. I visited with him a couple of times in San Diego for probably 10 years. I have dubbed Scott, the King of Wow. And as you’ll soon, discover Scott is always looking for ways to pleasantly surprise his clients with a gesture of kindness, caringness, sometimes some fun. So Scott Miller, C R P S. Welcome to the Top Advisor Podcast.
SCOTT: Good morning, Bill. Thanks for having me.
BILL: Yeah, great to have you here. Before we get to the topic at hand, to provide a bit of context to everyone listening, please give us just a brief glimpse into your business.
SCOTT: Sure. So come January, I’ll be celebrating my 40th year in the business. All in San Diego. I’m primarily a solo practitioner, though I did have a partner earlier in my career. Now that I know that the firm is offering double death benefits if I partner up, I may consider something else.
BILL: That’s funny.
SCOTT: So for now, a fairly traditional practice, about 80% individual, 20% 401k.
And I’m also a freelance musician, which I’ll tie in later on in the podcast.
BILL: Yes you are. And we’ll had some fun with that.
40 years? Wow. I’m not going to ask you what’s changed over 40 years cause like everything. But that’s an amazing career at it. Tell me how much longer do you think you’re going to be going? Till you can’t breathe anymore? Or do you have an exit strategy in the office?
SCOTT: I don’t have an exit strategy. I’ve been talking to one of my sons about coming in and being my junior partner. I’d like to do this forever, just not full-time every day forever.
BILL: Keep going. This is good. I’ve been looking forward to doing this cause you know, you and I’ve had fun with these things over the years.
So why do I call you Scott Miller, the King of Wow? What does wow look like for you and your business?
SCOTT: For me, it’s really about finding unique ways to recognize clients, particularly on special occasions. I think most advisors do the traditional send birthday cards, send holiday cards, but I kind of go one step further.
It’s not only birthdays, but it’s birthdays for children and grandchildren. I’m very careful about holiday cards. I don’t send Christmas cards to my Jewish clients, which by the way, the Jewish new year is coming up. But those are just kind of the basic things.
BILL: So, I mean, what brought you to this place? Was it a deliberate decision that you just started doing it and saw how clients reacted? And you said I should do more of this? Give us a sense of the why behind doing this.
SCOTT: It was really very deliberate. Many years ago I attended a conference and they were talking about these kinds of things. And I started adding in anniversaries. In fact, when I take on a new client, I actually asked them when their anniversary is and they usually want to know why.
I think that’s, that’s a little bit unique.
And then as I recall, one of your early recordings, talked about the wow factor and it really kind of motivated me to do something different.
By the way, for those who are listening in case, you’re wondering, I’m going to have Scott give us plenty of examples of the wows that he’s created for clients to stimulate your sense of fun creativity. And maybe I can tell you a few of the things I’ve done with my clients. First, I suspect some folks are wondering, is this really going to make a difference in my business? Right? I mean, it sounds fun. I can probably tie this to client retention. Can I tie it to more assets? Can I tie it the more referrals and introductions? So, you know, why do this, does it really impact the growth, the bottom line, the profitability of your business?
SCOTT: I can say honestly, that it does. Primarily the retention.
I do get pretty good referrals from a lot of my clients that I do these things for, but I think it’s really more about the overall relationship. One very recent one that I did, one of my clients are grandparents and they have twin grandchildren who just both had their bar mitzvah.
Actually one was a girl. One was a boy. And I know that they’re very much in support of the synagogue that they belong to. So rather than give these kids a gift, which they’re going to get plenty of I called the synagogue and I made a donation in their name. And they were all very, very appreciative. This client by the way, they are one of several multi-generational clients.
BILL: I’m curious, you mentioned multi-generational, this is a little off track, I guess, to a degree, but you know, what have you decided around the multi-generational? Because I’m encountering a lot of clients, either through interviews, through, coaching. Some don’t want to go there. Some embrace it and say, you know, we work with the whole family. Some are kind of halfway in between. What’s been your take on the multi-generational?
SCOTT: Yeah, it’s been a very natural transition. I do ask about kids and grandkids. But it’s really just been a natural progression for the, I’d say six or eight households where I’ve got three and four generations.
BILL: So it just makes sense to just keep going. And obviously you want to keep the asset should God forbid something happened to the parents, you have a relationship with the children.
Scott, I remember you telling me about kind of a neat thing. You did a really, I call it above and beyond the call of duty.
Well, because it’s a pretty cool story. Houston Astros baseball cards story. You remember what I’m talking about? Could you tell everybody what happened there and the results of it?
SCOTT: Oh sure. That’s one of my more creative ones. That actually happened about 20 years ago. It was for one of my better clients, 50th birthday of the wife. And somehow in conversation, it came up she was a Houston Astros fan and Dave Magon was her favorite baseball player. So I decided to contact him through the Astros’. Told them I had this client with a 50th birthday. He was her favorite player. And I sent him a note. I went out and bought a baseball card of him.
And I sent him a note, explaining what I was doing and enclosed a check for $25 for his foundation and asked him if he would please sign the card and send it back. And lo and behold, he did, and my client was absolutely thrilled. And again, that was 20 years ago and now we just celebrated their, I think their 50th anniversary over lunch about a week ago.
BILL: And they’ve given you a lot of referrals, have they not?
SCOTT: They have, I actually looked it up and I’ve got nine different households. Five of which are family related and the rest are not. So it’s been a wonderful 30 year relationship.
BILL: And I guess it’s not just the baseball card that made all that happen, but I suspect that that cemented the relationship and set a tone for the relationship where you became highly referrable. Right? She sees your value. She wants to bring your value to others. She cares about you wants to help you. Right?
SCOTT: Exactly. And we’re very good friends. I was invited to one of the daughter’s weddings. When the grandkids come in town, they’re located all over the United States, but they often come into town because San Diego is such a great place to visit.
And I’m usually invited to have drinks or coffee with the whole family when they’re there.
BILL: To me that’s evidence that you’ve created that engaged relationship. When you start getting invited to some of your clients events, you’ve reached the level of business friendship, I guess, if not more. In a minute, I want to have Scott give us a few more examples of some of the ways he’s orchestrated some pretty cool things.
But first let’s pause for a quick word from our great sponsor.
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BILL: You’re listening to Top Advisor Podcast, where I interview top advisors for top advisors. With me today is Scott Miller out of beautiful San Diego. We’re talking about, Wow. Scott is the King of Wow. So Scott, now’s the time, give us some more examples of some of the things you’ve created over the years that have really created that wow factor and created incredible loyalty and in some cases, a lot of referrals.
SCOTT: Sure I’d be happy to. So one of them is a group engagement. San Diego is host to a major PGA golf tournament every year, either the U S open or the Farmer’s open. And I’ve got a handful of clients that golf. I don’t, but they do. So I invite them for a day on the golf course, and it’s a very inexpensive, I think it costs me $15 for an open-ended one day ticket, usually five or six of us go.
We spend a day walking around and then we’d go have lunch in the clubhouse. That’s been received very well. I don’t do big client events. I’ll talk about one a little later on. But there is one that I do. Some other things that I’ve done, one of my clients was a huge Jim Croce fan and Ingrid Croce actually lives in San Diego and had a restaurant and bar that closed down a couple of years ago.
But I found a cookbook online by Ingrid and I sent it to this client as a birthday gift. Going back to the couple that had the grandkids that had the double bar mitzvah. They often spend their anniversary at a particular steakhouse in San Diego. And once I found out about that, I simply call up when I know they’re going to be there and arranged to either have dessert or champagne brought to the table.
And then one more. I’ve got this 80 year old client that lives in Washington, but her family is all in San Diego. Well, they all got together a couple of years ago for her 80th birthday at a casino in Washington. So I called around, I found out where they’re going to be. And I talked to the maître d’ and I had some champagne sent to the table with all of them. And again, that’s a three or four generation relationship.
Another idea that comes to mind is I had a client call me, it was Christmas Eve, probably around one or two o’clock in the afternoon. Why I was still in the office. I don’t know. But she called and told me that her daughter was going to have knee surgery at a hospital that was maybe a couple of miles from my office.
So when we got off the phone, I figured there was something I could do. And I called around, I was going to have some flowers delivered. I could not find an open flower shop, Christmas Eve. So I called the hospital and sure enough, the gift shop in the hospital was open. So I ran up there. But I bought a plant actually and then had it delivered to her room from me.
A couple of days later, I got very nice thank you cards from both the client and the daughter who I had never met. And she was pretty impressed.
BILL: How do you come up with these ideas or do you have a formula for this? Is it just, you’ve made a decision. I’m going to look for these opportunities over time you’ve just gotten really good at noticing when here’s a chance to do something. What triggers that? Do you know? Is it conscious competence or you just kind of do it?
SCOTT: I think it is conscious. It’s really just all about listening and asking questions. Like I said before, when I profile a new client, I ask questions. I ask about the grandkids, what do they do? What are they like? What are the client’s hobbies?
Everybody knows in our industry there’s something called a KYC, know your client? Well, I try to know everything there is about my client, including anniversary dates, birthdays, hobbies, charities that they support. So that somewhere down the road, you can go back through your notes and come up with these things.
It’s not really rocket science. It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together. You know, Bill earlier in this interview, you mentioned that you’ve created wow’s for your clients. I’d love to hear a couple of things that have worked for you.
BILL: Yeah, Thank You. I’ve done a lot over the years. I’ve done some neat things. I’ve done some simple things. Some of the simple things I do, and this is by the way, anytime anybody gives me a referral, makes an introduction, I always immediately say, thank you. I’ll often go to the LinkedIn profile. Where did they go to University? Coasters, $15 with the university logo on it? Maybe a mug, maybe a Yeti mug if I feel extravagant.
I remember one client who I actually interviewed for this podcast, he’ll becoming up. And he gave me a nice introduction. He went to Rutgers University, so I bought one of these big throws, these fleece throws with a Rutgers big logo on it. And he sent me a picture, I guess his wife took of him sleeping on the couch with his Rutgers throw.
So I always personalize things like that. I rarely send things with my logo. If I do it’s something very utilitarian, something of value that I know my clients will use. One of my clients is an ex Marine and I had a bag of swag, some things that we have with the logo, but I wanted something without my logo, because if it’s got your logo on it, generally speaking that’s promotion. That’s not a thank you.
But I did get coasters with the Marine logo on it. And I’ll never forget Scott. He said, Bill, you know that bag you sent of all that swag, he said, most of it wasn’t much, you know but the coasters I saw that you went and did something personal for me. So I really do appreciate it.
But I can tell you one of the best things I think I’ve ever done was when I was writing my book, Radical Relevance. I interviewed a gentleman by the name of Craig Strent, because I knew he was a good thinker in this area of relevance. And I knew it it’d be good interview.
And I took him to breakfast and I bought breakfast obviously for him, but I wanted to do something a little more special. So I called a friend of mine who worked for his company. And I said, Steve, you know, what is Craig into? What’s he like, what hobby what interest? I’m always calling the assistant to find out what their favorite sports team is, or you know, where they play golf.
And he says, well, he’s really into Abraham Lincoln, just loves Abraham Lincoln. So I’m thinking, all right, I’ll buy a book on Abraham Lincoln. And he said, but he’s got every book on Abraham Lincoln. Okay. I won’t buy a book on Abraham Lincoln. So we’re talking and I’m like, I’ll get something. I’ll figure it out.
So we hang up the phone and I get an, email from him that says, I forgot to tell you he’s a member of sock of the month club. He said every month he gets an interesting fun pair of socks. So I want on Amazon, I’m looking up Abraham Lincoln. I found a really nice bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln standing at his desk. It was about $35. Very nice gift. But as I’m getting ready to check out Amazon and it’s infinite relevancy, suggested a pair of socks that had Abraham Lincoln’s profile or bust on it, if you will, silhouette, I should say. And so I sent that to him. And man, he was bowled over.
Not only did he call up to say, thank you, but he invited me to lunch to say thank you for my saying thank you. You know you’re doing something right when you’re getting thank you’s for your thank yous. And that creates that feeling of wow. And he actually is in a position to hire me. He’s hired me several times after I did that.
So it’s developed a nice relationship.
SCOTT: That’s a great story.
BILL: Yeah, it’s very cool. I’ve had other things like that, but I won’t bore the group. You know my last question for you Scott is that earlier you mentioned that you’re a musician. I know you play the French horn. I’ve sent you a lot of photographs of weird French horns over the years, just to have some fun. There’s some pretty cool ones out there, by the way. You sent me back a video of what four French horns playing music together. It was very interesting.
But I know you’ve used your music in a way to build that business friendship with your clients. Talk to us about that a little bit. Cause I think it’s pretty cool.
SCOTT: Thank you. And it’s one of my favorite things to do. I mentioned earlier that I really don’t do client events per se, but this is one where I make an exception.
I am a local musician and one of the groups that I play with, it’s a large community concert band. And for the past 20 years, we’ve been affiliated with Meals on Wheels and every year we put on an annual holiday concert and all the ticket sales, proceeds, and raffle proceeds go to Meals on Wheels.
And in the last 20 years, we’ve raised close to half a million dollars for them. But about 10 years ago, I decided to make a client event out of it. So I invite all my clients that are local, that want to go, I pay for their ticket. And then afterwards, I host a reception at a local restaurant, which I pay for.
Sometimes I get my manager to kick in a couple hundred dollars, but it really gives them a way to see me in a different light. Every now, and then one of them will refer a couple of them will donate to Meals on Wheels on their own, but it really is a fun time just to have them see me in a non-business area, doing something in the community and providing music, which they really like.
BILL: Yeah, that’s great. I think it’s great when advisors can bring an interest, a hobby to their clients. I mean, I’ve had advisors say to me, Bill, I love to cook. What do you think about me inviting clients into my home and cooking for them? Yeah, of course. Anytime you can take something that you’re passionate about. Cooking, golf, biking, fishing, chocolate wine, bourbon, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Anytime you take something that you’re passionate about and mix it with your clients, that adds to that sense of client engagement, that business friendship. I think it’s a great thing.
So Scott Miller out of San Diego, the King of Wow. Thank you for being our guest today on Top Advisor Podcast.
SCOTT: Well, thanks for having me. It’s been a true honor and a pleasure.
BILL: You bet, Scott. 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 listening to Top Advisor Podcast.
This is Bill Cates, and you’ve been listening to the Top Advisor Podcast sponsored by ProudMouth. Be sure to click the subscribe button so you don’t miss the latest show and feel free to share this and other episodes with your colleagues. And if you want to learn more about the work I do with other top advisors, just go to ReferralCoach.com.
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