Episode 44 : 12/27/2017

Longer lasting than your gym resolution: Enduring ideas for the New Year

Ben D. Jones

Managing Director – Intermediary Distribution
BMO Global Asset Management

Emily Larsen

Product Strategy Manager
BMO Global Asset Management


Various guests from 2017 podcast episodes

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Throughout 2017, our guests on the Better conversations. Better outcomes. podcast brought many new ideas for financial advisors to leverage in their practice. Before 2018 kicks off, Ben and Emily take a look back at the best lessons we learned this year to set up your better conversations in 2018 and beyond.


In this episode

Three strategic questions heading into 2018:

  • What things should I be putting on my “stop doing” list, and why?
  • If you couldn’t fail, what would you do differently with your sales and marketing strategy?
  • Is your fee structure aligned with your business value proposition?

Three ways to elevate the client experience:

  • Pay attention to transitions, both in life and with your practice, too
  • Don’t forget the little things, because they can be a big deal
  • Consider short-termism as part of a long-term plan

Three sticky-note themes or ideas:

  • Live your brand
  • Be over prepared
  • Get uncomfortable


A big thank you to this year’s guests

Hugh O’Toole, Senior Vice President, MassMutual
Listen: Health wealth connection: making the connection tangible

Dr. Amy D’Aprix, Life Transitions Expert, BMO Financial Group
Dr. Alexis Abramson, Author & Speaker
Listen: Helping clients determine who will be their caregiver

Tony Cousins MA (Hons), CFA®, CEO & CIO, Pyrford International
Listen: International investing themes for 2017 and beyond

Steve Sanduski, CFP®, President, Belay Advisor
Listen: Inside look at the strategies of the most successful advisors

Fred Reish, Partner, Law Firm of Drinker, Biddle & Reath
Listen: Now what? Fred Reish on the future of DOL’s fiduciary rule

Janelle Woodward, CFA®, President & Senior Portfolio Manager, Taplin, Canida & Habacht
Listen: Alexa, invest in fixed income

Ali Caffery, Associate Portfolio Manager, Envestnet
Listen: ESG: Doing well and doing good with your portfolio

Robert Goff, Vice President, Succession and Acquisition Consulting, Raymond James
Listen: Succession planning: exit strategies for a smooth client experience

Dina Renee Weiss, Chief Investment Officer & Financial Planner, Lighthouse Financial Group
Listen: Launch planning: navigating the financial needs of children

Rob Wimmel, Head of Municipal Fixed Income & Portfolio Manager, BMO Global Asset Management
Listen: Tax and policy implications for tax-free fixed income

Tim Reid, Host and Author, “The Small Business Big Marketing Show”
Listen: Boomerang marketing with Tim Reid

Melissa Murphy, Partner & Vice President, SunStar Strategic
Listen: PR to power your practice

Jordan Lee, Regional Sales Manager, BMO Global Asset Management
Listen: CRM2 and the rise of fee-based advising in Canada

Julia Peloso-Barnes, Wealth Advisor, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
Listen: Managing wealth for same-sex couples

David Grau, Sr., President and Founder, FP Transitions
Listen: The advisor’s guide to buying or selling a practice

Rebecca Jacques, General Manager, Association of Goals Based Advice
Listen: Goals-based advice for client-based outcomes

Kevin Kidwell, VP, National Tax Exempt Sales, OneAmerica
Listen: Finding opportunities in 403(b) and other tax-exempt plans

Carol Lee Roberts, General Manager, Institute for Divorce Financial Planning
Listen: Happily never after: Advising clients through a divorce

Thomas Vester, CFA®, Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager, LGM Investments
Listen: BRIC and mortar: Building long-term outcomes with emerging markets

John Anderson, Managing Director, Practice Management Solutions, SEI Advisor Network
Listen: What am I paying you for: The evolving pricing models of advice

Matt Ackerman, Director of Multimedia, InvestmentNews
Listen: Evolving your practice: Lessons learned from behind the camera lens

Mike Schmitz, Product Director, Asian Efficiency
Listen: Purpose-led productivity: Achieving more with less

Jon Adams, CFA®, Senior Investment Strategist & Portfolio Manager, BMO Global Asset Management
Listen: Looking ahead: 2018 Five-Year Outlook

Sten Hoidal, Chair, Data Protection & Cybersecurity, Frederickson & Byron
Paul Ewing, Senior Technology Consultant, Charles Schwab and Co., Inc
Sandy Smalley-Fleming, Co-Chair, Investment Management & Securities Litigation, Frederickson & Byron
Jake Omann, Management Liability Consultant, Associated Benefits and Risk Consulting
Listen: Protecting your practice: A cybersecurity roundtable


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Ben Jones – Happy New Year! Well, almost, in a couple of days. As we head into the New Year, we wanted to have some fun looking back at some of the lessons that we learned during the show, and of course looking forward at some of the ways that you can set yourself up for success in the year ahead. One of the things that I’m constantly reminded of is the amazing quality of guests that have been on this podcast. This year was no exception to that rule. They were full of ideas to improve your practice, your planning, and your portfolios.   

Carol Lee Roberts – Are they going to get the specialized knowledge to be able to help their clients through that situation?  

Mike Schmitz – This is the whole idea of the 80/20 or Pareto principle.  

Melissa Murphy – The first strategy is what I call Go National to Get Local.   

Tim Reid – You guys know so much about wealth creation. Why not share that knowledge?  

Ben Jones – Welcome to Better conversations. Better outcomes. presented by BMO Global Asset Management.  I’m Ben Jones.  

Emily Larsen – And I’m Emily Larsen.  In each episode, we’ll explore topics relevant to today’s trusted financial advisors, interviewing experts and investigating the world of wealth advising from every angle.  We’ll also provide you with actionable ideas designed to improve outcomes for advisors and their clients.  

Ben Jones – To access the resources we discuss in today’s show, or just to learn more about our guests, visit bmogam.com/betterconversations.  Again, that’s bmogam.com/betterconversations.  Thanks for joining us.  

Emily Larsen – Before we get started, one quick request. If you have enjoyed the show and found them a value, please take a moment to leave us a rating or review on iTunes. It would really mean a lot to us.  

Disclosure – The views expressed here are those of the participants and not those of BMO Global Asset Management, its affiliates, or subsidiaries.  

Emily Larsen – As we head into the New Year, we wanted to take time to reflect on the podcast, to revisit some of our favorite conversations and the learnings that can propel your practice to new heights in 2018.  

Ben Jones – Now, many of our listeners might recall last year when we did this episode, we did a Letterman-style top 10 and we kind of recounted some of the best learnings from 2016. As a kid who got to stay up late and watched Letterman once a week, this really brought back a lot of great memories, as well as I hope was very informative. This year, we’re taking a different approach and in our conversation over the last year or so with industry experts and investment managers and wealth advisors, we’ve heard a lot of different themes emerge and thread through many different episodes. So as it relates to the world of wealth management, we are going to be dealing with industry change and navigating that intersection of money and emotions in today’s episode.  

Emily Larsen – So to cap off this great year for the podcast, we’re looking forward to presenting our bold ideas for 2018.   

Ben Jones – What is a bold idea, Emily?  

Emily Larsen – It’s something that’s revolutionary! That’s epic! We’ll share these ideas from the season so you can consider as you set goals for 2018. Now, we’re not talking about the New Year’s resolutions that fail by the second week of February. We’re talking about bold —  

Ben Jones – Like my gym membership?  

Emily Larsen – Yeah, no we’re talking about bold ideas, and those ideas are ones that push you outside your comfort zone. The ones that you commit to keeping top of mind throughout an entire year, and the kinds that have quantifiable results. The same ones that you have to change daily routines in order to actually achieve. We’ll apply three different lenses to our 2017 episodes in order to mine for these bold ideas in 2018.  

Ben Jones – I think this is going to be really fun, like I know that we’ve put some time into preparing this, but I think this is going to be a really exciting way to explore some of the things that advisors should think about as they head into a new year.  

Ben Jones – Emily and I had a chance to sit down in our studio, aka the conference room at our U.S. headquarters in Chicago, and we had a great time thinking through and preparing ideas we believe you can use in 2018 and beyond. As we cover the topics, you may want to bookmark some of these episodes that we mentioned so that you can go deeper into those ideas. We’ll have all the links available for you at bmogam.com/betterconversations.  

Emily Larsen – Ben loves the simplicity of thinking in threes. So we’ll cover three ideas and three different categories during this episode. First, Ben will cover three strategic questions for the New Year. Get your pen out, because you might just want to add some of these to your year end rituals. Then, Ben and I collaborate and discuss three ways to improve the client experience in the year ahead. Finally, I cap off the episode with three sticky note ideas, brief themes or habits you might want to consider keeping top of mind each day.  

Ben Jones – Well you know, I love this time of year. I mean, the ski resorts are open, work starts to slow down a little bit, and it allows me the time to take some time, step away from the day to day dance, get up on the balcony and think a little bit about the year ahead. So as we sit down every year, I have a long list of questions I go through that I’ve curated from many different sources over the years. I couldn’t even tell you who’s given me all of the questions. As I thought a little bit about what we wanted to accomplish in this episode, what I tried to do is take two or three of what I think are some of the better strategic questions that I certainly use every year, modify them a little bit based on what we heard on the podcast, and how they would apply to an advisor’s business. So what I thought we’d do is just maybe talk about a couple of those. So it is not overwhelming. I love things that come in threes, and so of course I have three questions that I think advisors should consider exploring as we head into the New Year.  

Emily Larsen – Why don’t you share with us the first question, Ben?  

Ben Jones – The first question that I have is what are three things that you should be putting on your stop doing list 

Emily Larsen – Tell me what a stop doing list is.  

Ben Jones – So, everybody talks about adding things to their to-do list, but very few people keep a stop doing list. Now, these could be behaviors or traits or bad habits that you’re going to stop doing in the year ahead, or they could just be like different projects or other things that have been frustrating that you’ve been part of. Business groups or networking strategies that aren’t working that you might want to add to the stop doing list. Now, I think in order to make a stop doing list really effective, or at least what I’ve found to make it really effective is whenever I see this question at the end of the year on my list, I will write down three things.  

Then the first thing I do is I go to the top of the first thing that I wrote on the list and I say why do I think I should stop doing this? Often what I find is that the things that end up there sometimes are the easiest thing. So asking the first why that you want to put on the stop doing list is good, but then after you ask yourself why did I put this on the list and the answer is it chews up a lot of my time, it’s not really working for the business, it’s not working out, then you say why isn’t it working? Asking at least those two whys — so, why is it on the list, and then why the why, that helps you really kind of refine what it is. Now, you might find you put something on the stop doing list and you ask yourself the first why and you say it’s not working; it’s a bad business use of time, and so on and so forth. Then you ask yourself the next why is it not working. Well, I didn’t really commit the time to over prepare for it, I didn’t really make the most of the networking opportunities. I felt too distracted when I was there. There’s a whole host of things that you could be doing that’s contributing to the reason that it’s on the list. That gives you a little bit better context to decide if it’s something that should be added to the stop doing list.  

The second thing that I do is once I’ve gone through the two whys, I say how much time is this actually going to give me back in my life? So how much time will this thing save me? The answer might seem pretty modest, it might be an hour a week, it might be 20 minutes a day, whatever that is. Then I calculate the annual expenditure of that time, and I say okay, now I know that I’m going to save 100 hours throughout the year. How will I invest those 100 hours into something that is a higher and better use of my time? So you’re not only figuring out what’s the stop doing list, you’re then also figuring out what’s the thing that I’m going to reinvest that in to produce outsized results in the year ahead. So, your stop doing list often sometimes turns into both a stop doing and a to-do.  

The last thing that really struck home with me is Mike Schmitz on the episode that we did with Mike around purposeful productivity. Mike really talked about the Pareto Principle, and I think most every one of our listeners would be familiar with the idea that 20% of the work yields 80% of the results.  

Mike Schmitz – And this is the whole idea of the 80-20, or Pareto Principle, which says that 80% of the results come from 20% of the work. Now, when it comes to systems and productivity, there are literally systems all around you every single day that are broken. Most people don’t look at them as broken systems; they just say oh, I’m annoyed by this thing that keeps happening. But they don’t ever stop to ask how they can fix it.  

Ben Jones – But what I think Mike did that I really liked as he peeled back the onion one more time is don’t stop at just getting to the 20% that yields the 80%. Do the Pareto Principle of the Pareto Principle and you can do 80% of 80, which is 64, so 4% of the work can yield 64% of the results. Now think about it this way. If 4% of the work yields 64% of the results, what if you just doubled that 4% of the work? Then you get 128% of the results? I don’t know, but the math seems to make a lot of sense, and many people listening to this show know how much I love industrial math.  

Emily Larsen – So Ben, as our listeners are thinking through this, is there a specific number of hours they should be looking to save or a specific number of stop doing things that you aim for in a year?  

Ben Jones – Well, I don’t think you should target a time savings, and I also don’t think that you should target a certain number, because I usually try to write three things down that I should put on my stop doing list. But if there was one that was more impactful than all the others, and if just by focusing on one thing that would yield better results than trying to stop doing three things, my goodness, invest your time there. So I think that putting three things down, really exploring those a little bit deeper, it doesn’t take that long, right. You think about it, you can create the stop doing list of three things over a cup of coffee, take a half hour one morning before work starts and just spend some time exploring these questions.  

Emily Larsen – Sure, so on the theme of three, that was your first strategic question our listeners should be asking themselves as they move into new year. What’s your second question?  

Ben Jones – The second question that I put on the list is if you knew you couldn’t fail, what is it as an advisor that you would do different with your sales and marketing efforts? I think this is really important. We heard really early on in the calendar year, Steve Sanduski talked about the most successful financial advisors have an exponential growth strategy. Not just an incremental growth strategy, they have come up with a strategy that creates exponential growth in their practice and it’s repeatable.  

Steve Sanduski – And if you want to build a business, it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of time, and all of us have the same 24 hours per day. So you have to figure out what can I do, what kind of structure can I put into my daily routine that will almost guarantee that if I do the right things and I do them consistently and I do them over a long period of time, I’m going to get a pretty good result. So I think that’s important for people to figure out what are the personal systems I need to put in place for me as well as everyone on my team.  

Ben Jones – If I look at a lot of advisors’ sales and marketing efforts, it’s becoming table stakes for advisors to be able to gain access to new client acquisition and be able to put their brand out in a way that they want to put it out. Often times it’s an afterthought, or they learned how to do sales and marketing 15, 20, 30 years ago in this business when you didn’t actually do marketing, it was friends, family, and acquaintances programs. So I think that asking yourself, just setting aside an hour on a Friday afternoon or Friday morning and saying if I knew I couldn’t fail this year, what would I do differently in sales and marketing? Now, we explored a lot of different ways to do sales and marketing over the podcast this year, and I think it was something that we heard from our listeners, they e-mailed in, they said hey, I’m interested in how to leverage PR and I want to know different content marketing strategies and so on and so forth. We did have Melissa Murphy on from Sunstar talking about how you can use PR to power your practice. On that episode, I think she said two things that really kind of struck my mind that an advisor might want to consider as they’re thinking about things they couldn’t fail at, if they tried them in sales in marketing next year. One was Melissa talked about having an intentional strategy. So don’t just go into PR thinking I want to do this. What’s the intent, how does it fit into your business strategy, and what’s the market you’re trying to reach? Then, you might leverage a strategy that she suggested like going national to get local.   

Melissa Murphy – It really gives you that true third party credibility, and then again it’s about leveraging those press clips in your local marketing. So again, in your e-mail, on your website, in your pitch books, and any printed marketing that you might be doing, it helps with your SEO.   

Ben Jones – The other guest, Tim Reed, who we had a really good time on the episode with Tim Reed talking about boomerang marketing. Tim shares a lot of insights in that, but one of the kind of more actionable things that came out of that episode during the year was he really wants advisors to focus on helpful marketing, by sharing the mountain of knowledge that they have through modern media tactics, which are very inexpensive to execute on. So this is an idea that I think is worth writing down for all listeners. First, he suggests that don’t overthink your marketing. I think we all hear the word marketing and we think oh, we’ve got to create a marketing plan and then we’ve got to have someone to execute it and how much time is this going to take. He says don’t overthink it. First, write down the top questions your clients ask. Second, pick a medium you’re comfortable with, whether it’s the written word or audio or video, whatever you want to do. Then the third thing he says is — I added this actually, he didn’t say this, but I added it. Just get compliance approval. Fourth is post it to the web via social media or whatever your marketing tactic is there. Then don’t do it once. You want to do this consistently, so you need to do one of these every week for six months. So you commit to the strategy of every week for six months. At the end of that six month period, you’re going to end up with 24 pieces of content, and I think what advisors will find is that the shelf life on that content is going to be really long.  

Emily Larsen – So what you’re sharing with us is that there were some helpful tips that talked about how an advisor could stretch themselves in PR and marketing, if they knew they couldn’t fail.  

Ben Jones – Yeah, I mean those are just some ideas to noodle on. I think really the genesis of the question is to leave it open ended, which is if you knew you could not fail, what would you do differently. For some advisors out there, they might say I’d hire a salesperson full-time, right? Some of them might say I’d do more content marketing. I’d do PR. Some people might say I’d slow down my sales so that the infrastructure in my organization can do better work for the clients we currently have. That’s something that is worth exploring as we head into the new year.  

Emily Larsen – So that second strategic question can go beyond PR and marketing.  

Ben Jones – Absolutely.  

Emily Larsen – Absolutely, so what’s your third strategic insight that you’d like to share?  

Ben Jones – This one really has become apparent to me throughout the last year, and that is that everyone hears about fee compression and you see all sorts of articles on fee compression, and mostly those are about maybe mutual funds or ETFs, this kind of compression in fees or race to the bottom. But I think as you head into the New Year, you might want to consider asking yourself, as an advisor, the question is my fee philosophy aligned with my business value proposition? In other words, does your value proposition align with the way that your clients perceive the value that you’re delivering? If there’s a misalignment there, you might want to consider how would you adapt your fees or your fee philosophy into the future. I think John Anderson from SEI really nailed this one on the episode of Fees at a Crossroad where he talked about we are one of the few professional service industries that only differentiates on fees. We say I’m a fee only advisor, I’m a fee-based advisor, I’m a commission-based registered rep. Look, we have put out there in the marketplace that the thing clients should focus on is the fee. I think what is better is to take a look at what’s your value proposition. Are you fundamentally delivering planning, planning plus investments, or planning with investments, or just investments? What is it that you’re delivering, what’s your value proposition, your secret sauce? What do you better than anyone else in your geographic area? Once you have that down, make sure that your fees are aligned with the way that you add value to those clients. I really — like he said, John Anderson shared that one of the ways that advisors are doing this is there’s a lot of different evolving models, with this model of investment oversight plus a retainer fee for planning. You’re going to see more and more questions about this as advisors start to feel the changing evolution of fees and the way clients receive fees. The last thing I’ll say is that many advisors have evolved from a commission-based system to a fee-based system over the last 15 or 20 years, and while they’ve changed the way that they’ve structured their fees they didn’t change the way they deliver their services. I think what a great time of the year to sit down for two or three hours and really explore the topic of what are the ways I add value to my clients, and what am I giving away for free and what am I charging them for, and are those things aligned?  

Emily Larsen – That almost feels like those questions could lead back to your stop doing and ultimately a start doing list for 2018.  

Ben Jones – Well you know, there is a roundabout way that these questions all do a good job of finding what you should be focused on in the year ahead.  

Emily Larsen – So to recap our first viewpoint. Ben’s three strategic questions are: What three things should I put on my stop doing list with two follow-up whys? If I knew I could not fail, what would I do differently in sales and marketing? And finally, is my fee structure aligned with my business value proposition?  

Ben Jones – So Emily, one of the things we wanted to do here is we wanted to talk about three different ways that advisors can consider improving the client experience. Now, this is near and dear to our heart at BMO because we spend a lot of time thinking about the client experience and the journey. Part of that is like our desire to be easy to do business with, so we’re always looking through that lens.  How can we be easier to do business with?  How can we improve the client experience and create a better experience with our products and services?  Now, when it comes to advisors, they are in the client experience business, and so what are some of the things that you learned over the course of the last year that you think advisors should really think about leveraging to improve or up their game in the next year?  

Emily Larsen – So I would say one thing that we heard through many episodes this year was around the idea of transitions, and how important those are for clients, as well as advisors.  If we can pay a little bit more attention to transitions, whether it’s moving from yourself to a junior financial advisor or moving a client from being married to being unmarried, those transitions are pain points sometimes for businesses, as well as clients, and the more we can pay attention about being helpful in those moments and making those moments easier and smoother, I think there’s something there that could help elevate the client experience.  One of the episodes, the guest talked about even making the transition from being out on the street and into your office more pleasant for your customer, and that was one way to elevate the experience.  So understanding and remembering what drink they liked best in order to help with that transition.  

Ben Jones – So when it comes to these transitions, how can advisor think about the transitions their clients are going to have, and then how do they map out what that needs to look like to be better at it?  

Emily Larsen – Sure, so I think that an advisor can look at small things, small details, and also look at large things, like the client’s timeline and when they anticipate a child being launched or a life event occurring, and they can plan ahead to be prepared to provide a simple and pleasant transition for a client.  

Ben Jones – Yeah, I think that’s one thing that really — when you talk about thinking about the transitions, is like with every client, you have enough data that you can at least anticipate when they’re going to retire, when their kids are going to leave the house, when their kids are going to have kids.  You might not nail it, but you’re going to be in the vicinity so that you at least remember or can prod yourself to jump into kind of some of those conversations about life transitions at the right time in their life.  

Emily Larsen – And being thoughtful about those transitions, even when the client might not be thinking about it, shows that you truly are caring, which was another thing we heard throughout the year, that it was important to care.  

Ben Jones – I really love the idea of — which kind of leads into my number two, which is paying attention to the little things.  Little things are a really big deal to clients, even though they might not even consciously acknowledge it.  So the little things, as you mentioned, transition from inside to outside, but having a director of client experience, not a receptionist, having somebody who knows who they are, knows what they like, can escort them into the room and make sure that they’re prepared, making sure that you have all the details and everything prepared well in advance, that you’ve communicated it to them.  There might be flowers or scents in the room that are associated with your brand.  Those little things make a big difference in the client experience, and so my number two for elevating the client experience is focus on the little things.  

Emily Larsen – And I think, Ben, you also had a number three that you wanted to share with people because you love the number three.  

Ben Jones – I do love the number three, and my number three is to consider short-termism as part of a long-term plan.  And I think short-termism, in general in our industry, is viewed as a nasty word.  I think with Wall Street expectations and clients getting sidetracked by wanting to buy a boat instead of save for retirement, advisors deal with this short-termism in a negative way all the time.  But I spent a lot of time thinking about how can an advisor harness short-termism for the good of the client?  In other words, how do you use short-termism as part of a long-term strategy to help a client achieve their objectives?  And one of the episodes that really drove this home for me was the episode that we did with Carol Lee Roberts on divorce.  And in there, she notes that there’s three reasons you might consider referring another advisor that specializes in divorce to your client.  Now think about this.  Advisors want to be the expert.  You, as an advisor, want to be the expert to your client, and while you can probably guide most of your clients through a divorce, there are some nuances and rules and regulations that are specific to divorce.  

Carol Lee Roberts – Are they going to say, I’m really good at what I do.  I don’t want the training for a divorce financial analyst, but I do want my clients to benefit from having the knowledge they need for a divorce, so I’m going to refer my clients getting divorced out to somebody who has this specialized knowledge.  And a lot of what is required during the divorce settlement, the knowledge of the tax code, the knowledge on restrictions on holding or selling a house, are all things that someone facing divorce should have access to whether or not you want to be the one to provide that information.  Divorce is, for many, many people, the single largest financial decision they will be making, and you don’t approach other large financial decisions without professional advice.  Why would you approach divorce that way?  

Ben Jones – Here’s why you might want to consider referring this out, or introducing a different advisor to the equation:  Number one is they can get the specialized knowledge they need to execute on a very short part of their long-term plan. The second reason is this is a very emotionally charged time for a client.  A divorce is not a pleasant experience, I think, for anyone.  And so you don’t want to be the constant reminder of a bad period in their life.  I kind of think about this last year, as you are very well aware, I had to have a surgery.  And I had to have a specialist surgeon.  And I was really glad to have an expert who had specialization in doing surgery in this particular fashion and taking care of — making me feel a lot better.  However, I never want to see him again, and I don’t want to see him again because that means something went terribly wrong.  And so you don’t want to be the advisor that’s a constant reminder of a really terrible experience for your clients, even if you did a great job. The third reason you might consider using these short-term tactics is that it allows you to kind of remove yourself from potential conflicts of interest.  In that case, you probably were advising both the husband and the wife, and now you don’t have to kind of be in the middle or pick sides.  You can refer them to different experts, and they can get the advice they need to move forward. So I really like this idea of all of the different places you might consider using these short-term strategies as part of a long-term plan, and I came up with a whole bunch of them when I was thinking.  So maybe short-term disability, there’s divorce, maybe it’s the kind of empty nesting transition as your kids go off to college, maybe it’s the launching phenomenon when your kids come back from college, and so all of these things tend to be short-term blips over a long-term period, but this is what — life happens.  And what a great opportunity for you as an advisor to be able to leverage different short-term strategies to help your clients achieve their long-term goals.  

Emily Larsen – To recap our second viewpoint, our three ways to elevate the client experience in the New Year were:  First, pay attention to transitions, whether it be life transitions or just stepping into your office. Second, pay attention to the little things because they can be a big deal. And third, consider short-termism as part of a long-term plan 

Ben Jones – Alright, to wrap up the episode, Emily, we also thought as the Queen of Sticky Notes and the woman who covers her entire office wall with color coded Sticky Notes, we thought it would be fun to end this episode with you sharing three Sticky Note themes or ideas that you think advisors should have as habits or reminders to keep top of mind in the year ahead.  

Emily Larsen – Sure, so my idea behind this — not only because I love Sticky Notes —  

Ben Jones – 3M thanks you.  

Emily Larsen – I know what I’m getting for the holidays this year.  But my idea was that if we could provide our listeners with thoughts that were so brief that they would fit on a Sticky Note that could be displayed on an office wall or my current favorite location on my laptop keyboard, just to keep concepts top of mind on a daily basis.  The Sticky Note is something I put into practice, as you’ve heard.  I tend to be very energetic.  Hopefully that comes across in the podcast, and I get so excited in talking with people and energized by other people that I tend to cut people off.  And so one of the Sticky Notes that’s currently in practice for me is, let them finish.  So it’s a simple reminder of a change I want to make to make myself better on an ongoing basis.  So now you know, guests and listeners, if I ever am talking to you and cut you off, you can tell me to let you finish.  But I wanted to have this concept translate to our listeners.  So what are short ideas that you can focus and keep top of mind?  And these are ideas that came forth in our podcast this year.  And the first is, live your brand.  Now this is something that came up in the podcast a lot last year, but also was brought up consistently throughout this season, specifically with Launch planning and Dina Renee Weiss.  She brought up how important it is to understand and articulate your brand and that it would actually bring you business in the long run if you could be clear and intentional about what you wanted to do.  Also, Melissa Murphy talked about this topic in the PR for your practice episode about how important it was for you to understand and articulate your brand.  It’s a constant theme with our guests this year because it’s important for you to understand and articulate your value, both to existing and new clients, and it’s not a one and done thing.  This is something that needs to be nurtured over time, weaved into client messaging, weaved into thought leadership work.  Even weaved in to staff training.  

Ben Jones – I really love the live your brand, and I think for many advisors when they started out as a solo practitioner, it was easy to live their brand because they are their brand.  And then they add staff, and they might not have communicated to the staff the values and the way they want communications to happen in a way that was transferable so that their staff could then start living the brand.  And so hopefully over time, their staff started the pure model, act in the way that they act, and they start to live their brand a little bit better.  But as you get larger and larger, as you scale, as you build staff, as you bring on other advisors, this is really a critical thing for people to think about, is what is my brand, both internally and externally, how do I make sure that everyone on my team lives that brand every day of the week?  

Emily Larsen – And that idea right there can make it easier for a financial advisor to move from the mindset of micro-manager to CEO.  

Ben Jones – So what’s the second Sticky Note, Emily?  

Emily Larsen – The second Sticky Note is to be over prepared 

Ben Jones – Which you’re good at.  You’re always over prepared.  

Emily Larsen – I take very seriously the advice that Mike Schmitz gives.  One of the things Asian Efficiency talks about in their work, which didn’t make it into the podcast, but they talk about a critical step about eating the frog is identifying what that frog is the day before.  So closing your day and thinking through the best use of your time the very next morning and what you need to accomplish, both for the short-term and the long-term.  

Ben Jones – And I think Steve Sanduski also shared that was a practice or a habit that he picked up early on in his career as well.  The thing that I like about this being over prepared is there’s the things you can do to be over prepared for the next day, the next week, the next year, and the next client conversation about whatever that might be.  And so I think over prepared is a great way to live your life, but you have to set up the systems now to be able to have the time, the discipline, and the focus so that you’re over prepared for that next client conversation.  You’re over prepared for the next thing that you have to do first thing in the morning, and I really liked this one a lot and the idea that Mike Schmitz brought up about having buffer zones to really make sure you can put the kind of parentheses around your day.  

Emily Larsen – Absolutely.  And then my third Sticky Note idea is get uncomfortable.  So I know, Ben, you like this one.  

Ben Jones – I love this one.  I live my life uncomfortable.  

Emily Larsen – I’ve been trying to do a better job of living outside my comfort zone, but this really likens to the need for constant evolution and challenging yourself.  And this topic came up in Boomerang Marketing with Tim Reid.  It came up again in the Same-sex couples planning with Julia Peloso-Barnes.  Her lesson to give to every listener was, always be learning, right?  Stretch yourself beyond what you’re doing today.  And the topic came up again in Evolving your practice, right?  The whole concept of that show was how to we reach beyond?  How do we incrementally get better?  And so a lot of this is doing things that are not natural, that you haven’t done before, that you have to push yourself beyond to try and do.  

Ben Jones – I liked the way Mike Schmitz framed this in that episode that you recorded with him where he says, how do I beat yesterday?  And I think that’s just a great way to wake up every morning and say, how do I beat yesterday?  And I’m drawn to competitive things, so it certainly resonated with me.  The other thing I like about this be uncomfortable is that it’s not just about pushing yourself to try new things, do new things, learn new things, explore new topics, new technologies, all of those things fall into this get uncomfortable, but probably what this podcast has uncovered over the course of its existence is that there’s a lot of uncomfortable conversations that are part of an advisor’s daily work with their clients about life transitions and these intersections of money and emotion and things that are a little bit messy.  And advisors that can really spend their time getting into those uncomfortable conversations have more enduring, more fulfilling, and ultimately I believe more rewarding practices.  

Emily Larsen – And I think the other thing is, though, at first glance, it may seem uncomfortable, but the more you do it, you’re broadening your comfort zone over time and getting better and better at those uncomfortable conversations, which will lead to the ultimate result of happy clients, successful practice.  So those are my three Sticky Notes for the year.  Live your brand, be over prepared, and get uncomfortable 

Ben Jones – Awesome.  Well, Emily, this has been a lot of fun.  The holidays are some of my favorite times of the year, and I’m really glad you made some time to get together in person, laugh a little bit, and really hopefully provide some actionable ideas for our listeners as they head into the New Year.  

Emily Larsen – As we move into the New Year, I’m excited to see what gets added to your start doing list as a result of your stop doing list because it’s always exciting stuff, Ben.  

Ben Jones – As we mentioned at the top of the show, this truly has been a great year for the podcast.  We’ve had the privilege of interviewing a diverse group of experts from all over the world.  We received great feedback from our listeners, including many topics and suggestions that we turned into episodes, and in October, the entire team at BMO was thrilled to be awarded the Wealth Management industry award for thought leadership and content by an asset manager.  

Emily Larsen – We look forward to continuing to explore topics relevant to today’s trusted financial advisors and providing you with actionable ideas designed to improve outcomes for advisors and their clients.  Thanks to all of you who collectively invested over 22,000 hours with us, as you strive to improve your conversations around your practice, portfolios, and planning.  We’re sincerely grateful for your investment of time, which is the greatest compliment of all.  

Ben Jones – Since it is the holidays, and if you’re in the giving spirit, consider giving us a rating and review on Apple Podcast, iTunes, or Google Play.  Five stars would be particularly nice.  This year, we had our youngest guest ever on the show, my daughter, Paisley, who appeared on the episode around launch planning for children.  And ever since her appearance, my youngest daughter, Bryar, who is two, has been asking when she can be on the podcast.  So as we sign off for the year, here she is.  

Bryar Jones – Have a prosperous and happy new year.  Thank you.  

Ben Jones – Thanks for listening to Better Conversations, Better Outcomes.  This podcast is presented by BMO Global Asset Management.  To learn more about what BMO can do for you, visit us at www.bmogam.com/betterconversations 

Emily Larsen – We value listener feedback and would love to hear what you thought about today’s episode, or if you’re willing to share your own experiences or insights related to today’s topic, please e-mail us at betterconversations@bmo.com.  And of course, the greatest compliment of all is if you tell your friends and co-workers to subscribe to the show.  You can subscribe to our show on iTunes, Google Play, the Stitcher app, or your favorite podcast platform.  Until next time, I’m Emily Larson.  

Ben Jones – And I’m Ben Jones.  From all of us at BMO Global Asset Management, hoping you have a productive and wonderful week.  

Emily Larsen – This show and resources are supported by a talented team of dedicated professionals at BMO, including Pat Bordak, Gayle Gibson, Matt Perry, and Derek Devereaux.  The show is edited and produced by the team at Freedom Podcasting, specifically Jonah Geil-Neufeld and Annie Fassler.  

Disclosure – The views expressed here are those of the participants and not those of BMO Global Asset Management, its affiliates, or subsidiaries. This is not intended to serve as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any company, industry, or security. This presentation may contain forward-looking statements. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such statements, as actual results could vary. This presentation is for general information purposes only and does not constitute investment advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment product or service. Individual investors should consult with an investment professional about their personal situation. Past performance is not indicative of future results. BMO Asset Management Corp is the investment advisor to the BMO funds. BMO Investment Distributors LLC is the distributor. Member FINRA/SIPC. BMO Asset Management Corp and BMO Investment Distributors are affiliated companies. Further information can be found at www.bmo.com. 

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