Welcome to the Top Advisor Podcast brought to you by ProudMouth’s PodRocket Academy. I’m your host, Bill Cates, creator of the Cates Academy for Relationship Marketing. In each episode, I interview one of our industries 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 onto the show.
BILL: Back with me today for an encore interview is Joe De Sena. Joe has been a financial advisor for 27 years. And in a previous episode of Top Advisor Podcast, Joe and I discussed the great success that he’s had over the years hosting retirement parties in person and then virtually and back in person again. In my discussion with Joe, I learned of his recent success in using Facebook and really allowing his personality to shine through to his clients and everyone really and that kind of surprised me.
Joe De Sena, welcome back the Top Advisor Podcast.
JOE: Thank you, Bill. It’s a pleasure to be back.
BILL: So I always like to ask my guests one question before we get into the meat of the program, is what I call a client focused why. Why you believe in the value that you bring and what drives you every day to relate to be a top advisor for you, for your clients and for your business? Give us a little insight into that if you don’t mind.
JOE: Yeah. Bill, as you know I’ve been in financial services for 40 years and as an advisor for 27 years. It’s clear to me that the work that we do is impactful. Being in the business so long, I’ve seen the impact of financial planning and advice go through generations. And we’re meeting with grandchildren right now. And we worked originally with their grandparents and telling the grandchildren stories about their grandparents and how financial planning moved them ahead. And is impacting generations like the grandchildren and they love those stories.
I speak to my colleagues and say we’re changing financial lives and we are, and it’s actually expanding well beyond just financial lives. It’s helping clients personally and protecting them. So it was significant work and it’s enjoyable.
BILL: Yeah, and I’m sure everyone listening can identify with that.
I love the grandchildren aspect and having them learn about their grandparents, even if they’re no longer living and what the grandparents did, then maybe make their lives a little bit easier, a little bit better. So I know we covered this briefly last time, but for those who haven’t listened to that episode give us just a glimpse into your business. A little bit of the setup, a little bit of what you’re doing, and then we’ll get into the topic.
JOE: Yeah. We have four offices now. Three in the New York metropolitan area. And one in Naples. I’m more responsible than Naples office, Naples, Florida. We have 10 advisors on the team. We have four staff domestically and two staff that are located in India, which is pretty amazing. And they work Eastern standard time, just like us. So we just crossed over the $1 billion mark. And I always said, when we hit 1 billion, that I would retire. Now the goal is 2 billion. There’s a lot of clients, a lot of responsibility. We outsource the investment management, like I said, I’m more of a relationship manager.
So I take care of the investments. I put that off to an investment manager. I’m not behind a computer all day because we’re managing money. I won’t have any impact to a client in taking care of the things that are important, estate planning, tax planning and things like that. So that’s the focus of the entire practice.
BILL: Gotcha. Good. Well, you’ve been doing well. Clearly you’re very, well-respected in the industry. It’s my understanding that you opened up your use of the personal side of your Facebook page, not just the business Facebook page, but your personal page. You’ve invited clients to connect. You’ve invited even prospects, others to connect that. Am I getting that right?
JOE: That’s correct. That’s correct.
BILL: So what made you decide to do this? What was the impetus to moving this? That this is something that most people resist doing? So I’m very curious about why you decided to do this.
JOE: Yeah. And we’re doing it a while now.
So maybe 10 years, maybe that long. But you know, we believe, and we used to say this all the time in our practice. It’s not just financial planning, it is personal. It’s not just financial planning. It’s very personal. Yeah, I remember the early days when you used to meet with people, build things with face-to-face.
Remember those days, basically now it’s virtual and someone would come into our office and unload and unpack their whole life, not just their financial life, but everything personal about how they get along with their kids, their spouses, how they make the decisions. And I would always tell my team when a client does that, or a prospect does that you have unload to them client, you just had a great deal about your financial and your personal situation.
Let me tell you about myself. I’m married. I have two kids. I just became a granddad where when the school I tell them about my parents, the whole thing. So then Facebook comes along. And I could unpack everything now about myself. Because whenever I’m looking for another professional to work with a doctor or an attorney, I could go to their business page and see all the regular stuff that everyone else has.
But I want to know them as a person and people are checking us out all the time as a proxy. So I am out there posting on a daily basis, two or three times sending out positive messages. And we do that in different places. But my personal Facebook page is the most impactful, like all advisors, they should have their own business webpage. They should have a LinkedIn page. They should have a business Facebook page, but my clients are hanging out on the personal Facebook page. So I’m interacting with them all day and we’re omnipresent.
BILL: I’m thinking that some advisors listening to this is probably cringing.
It’s like, I don’t want that. I don’t want to do that. And look at each to its own. Right. There’s a lot of ways to be successful. This is the type of person you are. So I guess you’re attracting the kind of folks who like that. And that’s good. What does it look like? I mean, what are the kinds of things you’re posting?
Cause I do remember in our first conversation, you talked a little bit about the fact that you’d lost a lot of weight and you posted that and that got like a huge response. So give us a feel for some of the things you’re posting.
JOE: Yeah. That was fun doing before and after, because you know what you said about, that’s who I am, my personality.
We have to look at our clients and say, where are they? And what do they like. So my clients have liked me. They’re open. They share things. So on my Facebook page, personal page, never posts anything about politics, right? Never do that. We get can be, but what we post motivational and inspirational quotes, they’re always out there. Sometimes daily with that.
I’m training now, another crazy idea. Now that I lost the weight. I wanted to do the Ironman in Kona. It’s such a great task, but I’m posting my training. Any charity events that we do. We like to cook. Recipes are out there actually the other day we had the next minutes to be out there. People love that.
My grandkids, I have grandkids now, clients are loving that. Not that I did it to get gifts to my grandkids, but we’re getting loads of gifts for the twins. I have twin granddaughters. So it made me real.
Advisors that are listening to this anything that they enjoy, maybe they have an appreciation for wine, maybe they like playing golf or whatever it is. They could give golf tips. If you like to shop, fashion tips, whatever it is. Show who you really are.
BILL: So how you said your clients are reacting to this, and I’m getting the sense that it’s been positive. Are they leaving comments or how are they engaging with you? That actually creates some engagement, not just them being a voyeur into your life.
JOE: Yeah, no we have thousands of Facebook friends. And every day we get 25 to 200 likes, but we get a lot of comments beneath the post or sometimes private messages.
And it could be, “Joe, you did great in that run. Give me a call. I’d like to do a 5k with you.” But the cool thing is my clients friends are seeing this. That are not clients yet. And when they come to see me, these prospects, they say, “Oh Joe, congratulations, you have grandkids.”
They know about me. Outside of just the financial plan on and help their friends. It really makes it personal.
BILL: So the purpose, yeah, the personal connection has happened. Just like it. You might meet her at a client appreciation event. Here you make the personal connection, I guess, on, in Facebook and it didn’t you have something about losing weight and you posted, I think it was maybe on LinkedIn that just got a ton of responses or something. What happened there?
JOE: I went to LinkedIn with a post and also Facebook about before and after. But on LinkedIn it really took off. I had over 10,000 views on this. I’ve never had that many on anything that I did.
BILL: This is a photo of you having lost weight?
JOE: Yeah, before and after photos. I know now that leads to health and wellness, when I think about why I love this business and businesses evolving. I think, using social media is extremely powerful at the end. It’s mostly free and you could pay a little bit, but it’s free, but you know my brand, I want it to evolve. You could also do that by using social media.
I want this, not only to be financial planning, I don’t want to help clients only with their financial life, but the rest of their life, like health and wellness. So losing weight, exercise, eating, right, whatever advises a brand is, they could push the brand message personally.
BILL: So what about compliance? I know some people were thinking and every advisor has a different kind of situations. Some, they have the sales prevention department as their clients as their compliance department, what’s happening with you?
JOE: Yeah. We were trailblazers with us on my team and we got slapped on the wrist a few times.
But all of us, the advises and compliance, we’ll learn in this at the same time. But what I’ve learned on my personal Facebook page is to be personal, never, ever solicit business, and we never, ever solicit business. So it used to be maybe a little bit of that. Alright. And different firms have different rules, but work hand in glove with your compliance person and just let them know what you’re thinking about. Should never be a problem.
BILL: Yeah. Good. I want to ask you about some of the results that you’ve been seeing with this, but first I’d like to listen to a quick word from our show sponsor. There’s a pause for that. And then we’ll come back.
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BILL: So let’s talk results. Obviously client engagement is there, but what other results have you produced? I mean, have you actually gotten more clients from this? Can you see that this has produced new clients or made it easier to convert prospects into clients?
JOE: So absolutely more clients. People want to know the number. I did not have any. But converting more prospects to clients has been significant because they know me and they know my team before they come into the office. Our clients by using social media, specifically, my personal Facebook page have become an extension of our marketing team.
The whole omnipresence thing and you know what we do, the retirement dinners, the personal Facebook page, LinkedIn. Our webpage. All of that makes us to be all places at all times when someone starts the day in the morning and they log on to Facebook, they get to see us. And there’s a message from me and my team members are doing the same thing on their individual Facebook page.
So it’s, I think about it like Facebook is a warm call Bill, right? It’s not a cold call. It’s a warm, they know who you are, they know your person and they know what’s going on in your lives. But when people try to track down the numbers and how much they get from social media, I would never discount social media from running a financial practice.
In fact, many practices are hiring full-time social media experts on new teams. The medium is just too big. There’s more eyes on Facebook right now than media, than any media outlet, the TV, radio, and print combined. So you can’t discount that. So again, it’s another way just to make you omnipresent, but in terms of tracking where it comes from, where the clients come from, it’s like going through the people who run coke. And I wish I was big as Coca-Cola. Why does someone pick up a can of Coke, because of the TV ad? Because the Coca-Cola truck came by or they just happened to see a can of Coke. You know what the answer is, all of those things. And it’s the same thing with us. It’s dinner events, social media events, it’s charity.
It’s being involved in the community, it’s promoting health and wellness. All of that promotes the Sienna Wealth Advisor Group, all of that does.
BILL: That’s great. Any mistakes, any lessons learned things you wish you hadn’t have done or you do differently now because of what’s happened in the past?
JOE: I wish I would have started earlier. I really can’t think of a mistake. This has been a great social experience. Maybe it’s been a great social experiment. And a lot of people hesitate to do, like you said, of what we’re doing. But based on who my clients are, this is how they like to interact with me, and we’ve built a community, we have a social media community. That helps us as well.
BILL: Yeah. I saw a study a while ago that said something like about 63%. I might get the numbers wrong of clients who give referrals, do it to pass on the value that the advisor has been for them. They want to pay the value for it.
And about 37% do it to help the advisor. And I think if you put those two things together, that’s a pretty powerful combination. So here, they like your value, they want to have other people experience your value, but they also like you. And so they want to help you. And those two energies come together it sounds like, true?
JOE: That’s correct. That’s absolutely correct. When people come in, even prospects and they ask about your family because they know them already.
BILL: Yeah. That is great.
JOE: Thinking about all of this and using social media, most of the work that we’ve done in the past has been very helpful to me as how to go about asking for a referral.
What is your recommendation in terms of using social media to ask for referrals? What is your feeling about that?
BILL: Yeah I generally recommend that we don’t ask for referrals in digital form if you will. In other words we, I don’t think, especially on a social personal Facebook page, we shouldn’t even say things like “Don’t keep me a secret” or anything. This is personal, right? This is like sending someone a birthday card. You don’t send them a card on their birthday and say, “Don’t keep us a secret.” No cause that’s personal correspondence. And I don’t generally recommend asking for referrals in email or on LinkedIn.
Now you can test the waters a little bit with a LinkedIn message. You could say, “George, I was thinking about talking to you about introducing me to Laura. Can we hop on the phone for a couple of minutes and talk about that, see what that might look like.” And so you want to make the request in person on the phone, on zoom. But you don’t really want to do it in any kind of a digital form.
Now all the comments that you get in your Facebook page, this is what we call social proof, right? Testimonials are social proof, which the industry is now slowly opening up to starting to allow, which is cool. Referrals are a form of social proof. People gathering together at a client appreciation event is a form of social proof. And the engagement you get on your personal Facebook page is also a form of social proof.
So there is kind of a very subtle ask if you will. It’s a very subtle, Yes, people love us. It’s a community, right? It’s a community that you’re created and not everyone’s going to be attracted to that, but that’s fine.
We were trying to put the message out and play in the business in a way that will attract the people we want to attract and not attract the people we don’t care about attracting. And it’s perfect.
Well, Joe, thank you so much for coming back a second time. We’ll probably have you back again, cause I want to talk to you about the virtual employees you’re using in India and other countries and how that’s happening and saving you time and dollars. But for now we’ve talked about retirement parties, we’ve talked about social media, particularly Facebook.
Clearly, you’re a social kind of guy and that works for you and that’s helped you build your business. So Joe De Sena. Thank you so much for being on the Top Advisor Podcast.
JOE: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
BILL: Thank you for listening to the Top Advisor Podcast brought to you by ProudMouth’s PodRocket Academy. I encourage you to visit my website ReferralCoach.com for links to my books, courses, and online tools and to register for the Cates Academy.
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