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24 What's Your Vision?

Steve Seid & Kurt Dupuis
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The Whole Truth Podcast Episode 24

Speaker 1:
Welcome to The Whole truth, where two wholesalers...

Speaker 2:
Hence the whole in whole truth, we are creative geniuses...

Speaker 1:
Help financial professionals build great practices and thrive in a rapidly changing industry. We'll bring you the stories and voices from those on the front lines of this change.

Speaker 2:
This is more than a podcast. We're building a community of financial professionals who are growing, forward-thinking and want to get better. Thanks for listening and joining us on this journey.

Disclosure:
The views expressed herein are those of the participants and not those of Touchstone Investments.

Steve Seid:
And welcome everybody to the whole truth from the Bay Area, California. I am Steve Seid.

Kurt Dupuis:
And from Atlanta, Georgia, the tree cutting capital of the world, I'm Kurt Dupuis:.

Steve Seid:
That's the sawing in the background. Kurt decided-

Kurt Dupuis:
There might be a little bit of noise guys.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. They're clearing the rainforest behind Kurt right now.

Kurt Dupuis:
I live in the woods, and they're coming to rescue me.

Steve Seid:
We'll see how good the engineers are on clearing that background noise out of here. And we've got Jason back on. My internal, Jason Zawalich. How are you man?

Jason Zawalich:
Doing well. How are you guys doing?

Steve Seid:
We've got some really nice feedback when you're on last time. So Jason's going to share a couple of tips for working remotely. Even though at some point we will normalize. You're going to still do more remote working than you have in the past, and so we're going to have Jason share some of his research that he did on this. It'll be a topic we talk about throughout the whole year. And then after we're done with Jason, we're going to have our interview with Mary Mock, who's back on for the second time as, what is it, Kurt? Queen of the world, head of everything, that's her new title?

Kurt Dupuis:
I'm going with Grand Poobah.

Steve Seid:
Grand Poobah, yeah. I like Queen Mary.

Kurt Dupuis:
I think she likes that too.

Steve Seid:
She does seem to like that a lot. So, Jason, background here is I was just like, hey man, we're going to do a show on, we want to give some tips on working remotely and you went into research mode for a long while and you came up with some tips.

Jason Zawalich:
I did.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. So what are you going to do? Cover five?

Kurt Dupuis:
Could I guess what the first one is?

Jason Zawalich:
Yeah, absolutely. Go ahead.

Kurt Dupuis:
Jason has a fan above his head. That was like a halo, and now it's stopped, which is less distracting. So is that one of your tips, like turn the fan off?

Jason Zawalich:
So, admittedly, my workspace at home is probably not the best. My tip would be, do not sit in the seat that I'm sitting in right now because I do have a fan above my head. I got a Peloton bike behind me. This is the space I've had to work with. I've thought about moving it around, but one of my tips is do turn off the fan, because it can be a bit distracting.

Steve Seid:
So the person who said, don't do what I do working remotely, is now going to give us tips on what to do?

Jason Zawalich:
Yeah.

Steve Seid:
Okay. I see how this is all working out.

Jason Zawalich:
This isn't from my own personal experience, this is from my deep research that I did over the past week.

Steve Seid:
Do what I say, not what I do essentially.

Jason Zawalich:
Exactly.

Steve Seid:
Okay, cool. So you got, what do you have? Five for us?

Jason Zawalich:
I've got five main ones.

Steve Seid:
And are these ranked in any way, or you just got five in no particular order?

Jason Zawalich:
No particular order.

Steve Seid:
Okay.

Jason Zawalich:
I do think the first one is very important, so I will start there. So first tip would be to also understand the client benefits in the remote model. I think a lot of people think, how it benefits them or doesn't benefit them, but there are client benefits to work remotely. It gives clients freedom and flexibility. They don't have to commute to and from your office to have a meeting. They can do it wherever they're at.

Steve Seid:
Tell me if this is in line with what you're thinking, Jason.There's that group or subset of clients that love to get together in person and go out, and then there's the group of other people that probably aren't going to. So I'm seeing teams that have higher participation rates from some people that... And by the way, I would be this person. I'd rather do it to learn something over this than to go to the restaurant every single time.

Kurt Dupuis:
I would do be opposite.

Steve Seid:
You would be the opposite. Yeah.

Kurt Dupuis:
Yeah.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. But is that the kind of thing you mean? There really are benefits to being able to offer services digitally.

Jason Zawalich:
Well, I think that's one of them, but also, like I said, the clients don't have to come to your office to have meetings. They can have them in the comfort of their own home.

Kurt Dupuis:
This is going to be one of those things where things are not going to normalize how we think they're going to normalize. Even if you're doing four reviews a year, one every quarter, I still think a lot of people would opt in. Even if they're on the social side, they want to get together and they want to see people face-to-face, and why not takea few of these digitally? I don't see that this goes away. I think this is going to be here to stay.

Jason Zawalich:
Sure, but there's a lot of financial advisors that are totally remote, and they can prospect clients outside of their area, different states. There are certain subsets of clients that want to do this all remote, and so that doesn't limit you to where you're living to prospect those clients. You can do that from anywhere. And so that's a benefit then as well to the financial advisor.

Steve Seid:
I like it. Tip one, “Understand the Benefits. Good. Tip two?

Jason Zawalich:
So, one hard thing about working from home is you don't have regular contact with your team. So it's important to do that to, to make time, to have regular contact. So some things you can do; schedule recurring and consistent virtual team meetings, having an instant messaging system, there's project software. I have a couple names for them, but I'm not going to use them because they're not subscribed to the podcast, but there's places where you can keep projects centrally located with task assigned to each user. And there's a certain one that has a dependency function that will actually kick off these tasks in sequence, which can help cut down on confusion. So there's a lot of great software out there.

Steve Seid:
Well, we did our survey. It's a really good point, Jason, because we did our survey on remote working and the pandemic and what people thought of all those things. And the big hole that we found is, hey, we handle the clients mostly well, we handle the investments mostly well, but managing team was the challenge. And I think some of the things that you name there, the virtual huddles, the things that, I think you've got to integrate some of that stuff.

Kurt Dupuis:
Well and I think about how the role of wholesaling is going to change with that, because if people are more digital, communication between teams, different teams is going to change. And that was one of the comments, one of the threads that came out of one of our previous surveys was, it's really good to know what other people are doing and talking about and working through because we don't have that water cooler chat anymore.

Jason Zawalich:
Yeah.

Kurt Dupuis:
So wholesalers as aggregators of information, I think, is going to be important in a different way moving forward, because we're going to be in a unique position.

Steve Seid:
It is a challenge managing team members, I'll tell you, Kurt. My relationship with my internal, it's always over the phone, but in the pandemic, does your phone calls go to direct voicemail 98% of the time or 99% of the time before they answer,,, What percentage-

Kurt Dupuis:
There’s an uptick frequency for the voicemail.

Steve Seid:
Is there? Okay.

Kurt Dupuis:
Yes.

Steve Seid:
I don't know Jason that well, but I do know his voicemail really well.

Jason Zawalich:
Part of the job of a wholesaler is also to make calls, so oftentimes…

Steve Seid:
I see. You see what he did there? That's why.

Kurt Dupuis:
That's next level. That was good.

Steve Seid:
That's why he won internal of the year last year because of that. Beautiful.

Jason Zawalich:
We're supposed to be on the phone, so when it goes straight to voicemail, that's a good sign. We're doing our job.

Kurt Dupuis:
He's A, B, C’in for you.

Steve Seid:
I dig it. Awesome. So those two good ones for you. Keep on rolling. What's number three?

Jason Zawalich:
So I thought content and content creation. So obviously you're not in front of clients. A way to stay in front of them is to create content. So, small blogs, a weekly update, Q&A videos with staff. And then I thought this was an important one as well, because people take in information in different ways, so you can repurpose your content. So turn your videos into blogs or social posts and vice versa. And like I said, everyone prefers to consume information differently, so repurposing what you've already created can save time and resources and reach more clients or prospects.

Kurt Dupuis:
So this is my thinking. If you're financial professionals, you're talking to your clients every day or every week, right? The questions they're asking, the conversations that you're talking about, the topics you're engaging in, that's your content. There's hesitancy, I think people think that a blog or a podcast or a video content is really heavy lifting. And if you've never done it before and you're doing a hundred percent by yourself, yeah, it probably is.

Kurt Dupuis:
But there are several very reasonably priced services out there that help you in any one of those categories. So I think it's a great idea to take the conversations you're having, put a multiplier on it by using digital 00:10:24 to enhance that, and that's all you're doing. You're just multiplying the same message that you're already having with your clients. 

Jason Zawalich:
Absolutely.

Steve Seid:
I think the key, Jason, is what do you have available that you can use that as different mediums for communication because once you have the content, that's the core, well then just put it on a few different things.

Kurt Dupuis:
Yeah.

Jason Zawalich:
And I can use myself as an example when you're talking about repurposing it, because if, like say I'm reading the Wall Street Journal and I click on something and it's a video, I'm out of that, because I'm not going to watch that video, I'd rather read an article. So by repurposing it, you can reach a larger audience that people like me who probably won't watch a video or people who don't want to read the article would rather watch a video just by repurposing it in different mediums, you can reach more people.

Steve Seid:
What's number four?

Jason Zawalich:
Paying attention to your time and scheduling time for specific tasks that need to be tackled. I think a hard thing to do when you're working remotely is it's easy to get distracted, easy to move on to something else. You want to make an intentional effort to map out your time throughout the day and even have a reasonable ending time. I read a lot about, when I was doing the research, is people have been working a lot more since they are working from home. There's really no time to leave the office. And it's good for your mental health to make a time to stop every day and take a little break, and maybe that will rejuvenate you for the next day.

Kurt Dupuis:
I have a dedicated office before, pre-pandemic. Take my laptop. I go outside, go to the dining room table, go move around. And now I found that it's mentally stabilizing just to keep my computer in here. And I know when in here, it's work mode, when I go up there, it's not work mode. It's the only barrier that I now have to separate my work from my non-work life.

Steve Seid:
I was surprised with some of the people in the survey that we did that struggled with the exercise portion of it. And I think, we talk about, hey, time block for things like biz dev, but you could also time block to say, this is when I'm going to be... this hour and a half is when I'm at the gym. You're good with that Kurt. You're like, this is my gym time, it's on my calendar, we can't record during that time.

Kurt Dupuis:
You’re always trying to schedule it lunch. Yeah.

Steve Seid:
That's a good one, Jason. I like that. That was four? Now we're down to the last one; last but not least.

Jason Zawalich:
This is a fairly easy one, but asking for feedback, asking from your team or your client's feedback on how remote work is doing. Maybe use some great ideas from your clients or from your team to improve what you're doing. I think we've always, from the beginning of the pandemic to now, we've all improved a little bit, but we continue to do that, and it's important to ask for feedback to get some better ideas.

Kurt Dupuis:
Surveys and advisory councils are the two great ways to do that continuously and regularly; get feedback from clients about what's working, what's not working. Big fan of those two ideas.

Steve Seid:
A couple of points on surveys and feedback. One is ask open-ended questions. Don't ask like, did you like this event? Because you're not going to get good feedback unless it's open-ended, and two is survey, but don't do it too much, after everything, you get a survey and it's just like, no.

Kurt Dupuis:
In fact, I don't fill them out, unless they dangle some little carrot out there. Throw a gift card out there or something.

Jason Zawalich:
I totally agree with that. But you can do this when you're having a conversation with the client. Maybe after you're done with a review, you say, hey, we've been doing work from home or remote work, virtual work since the beginning of the pandemic, how are things going? Is there something that I can do better that you've been thinking about that you wish that we were doing differently? The same thing with your team, how you're working with your team; what can we do differently to make this better for you?

Steve Seid:
Yeah.

Kurt Dupuis:
Well, and I like open-ended, but I also like stack ranking. So if you say like, here are five things, put them in order of the most importance for you. So I think what we're both saying is like get away from binary question, but give different ways to answer these questions. And if you just do small samples within a practice a few times a year, you're not really overwhelming. I think you can reasonably spread that out.

Steve Seid:
These are good, Jason. Thank you for doing the research on this. All really good things to think about. We may bring Jason back for a number two on this, maybe a part two. It looks like he had some other ideas that we're not going to get to. Would love to hear from you on this. I know we surveyed you before, but if there's any kind of latest and greatest on working remotely hit us up at thewholetruth@touchstonefunds.com. We're going to move into our episode with Mary Mock here. So why we're having Mary back on, first of all, you guys all loved her the last time. The feedback was incredible. It was one of our most listened episodes. As we just alluded to in the beginning, she got a huge promotion to run our sales distribution, and anyone who's listening to this podcast should know her.

Steve Seid:
That's really what it comes down to. We are trying to build a different type of firm, a different type of experience. And so Mary's going to cover some of those things. She's also spent a ton of time working in practice management. Kurt and I got into, what are some of the things you worked on historically? What are some of the things that people are working on right now? It was a really, really good dialogue. We also covered some fun stories from her history in the business. So stick around, it's a great conversation. We'll be right back with Mary Mock. This is The Whole Truth. Stick with us.

Steve Seid:
And welcome everybody to The Whole Truth. We are delighted to have Mary Mock back on the show. Really happy. Welcome, Mary. Thanks for coming back.

Mary Mock:
Thanks for having me. It's good to always have a part two.

Steve Seid:
Yeah.

Kurt Dupuis:
Officially a recurring guest.

Steve Seid:
We had a great time with your first time on. Mary covered Supernova. It was well received, but some big news with Ms. Mock -- I'm starting to call her Queen Mary, Kurt. I don't know if that's a thing that's going to catch on. But huge promotion. You got promoted to basically running the whole show here at Touchstone, which first of all, let's start with a congratulations. That's pretty awesome. Congratulations.

Mary Mock:
Thank you. I just wanted to clarify, number one, they're probably not going to let you call me the queen of anything, although personally, you can call me the queen of anything you ever want to because that's just amazing. But just to clarify that I'm running sales and distribution and that's the portion of my universe, so.

Kurt Dupuis:
Head of distribution. Isn't that the official title?

Mary Mock:
I think so. Yeah.

Kurt Dupuis:
Did you buy yourself something nice? I hope you did celebrate.

Mary Mock:
No, not yet. Not really. No. It was around Christmas, so I think I got my haircut, so that was something that was good. Eventually, I'll take a vacation maybe if I ever can, so. No, nothing great. For Christmas, I bought myself a watch. That's a nice thing that maybe I could say I wouldn't have bought if I didn't have a different job.

Kurt Dupuis:
Got to treat yourself.

Steve Seid:
I can speak for all of us. We're super happy that you had that job.

Kurt Dupuis:
So happy.

Steve Seid:
We heard the announcement that you got hired. We're like, we got to have Mary back on the show, which we wanted to have anyways. And what we're going to focus on today is twofold; one: what's the vision? What do you see this firm looking like? And for those listening, don't tune out. It's not a Touchstone commercial, but what we're trying to do is something a little bit different. So we think it would be interesting for us to talk to you about that. What is it that we're trying to do here? But also get into the practice management stuff. The reason that Mary got promoted, one of the many is, this firm has gravitated towards being business consultants.

Steve Seid:
It's what this podcast is about, what our strategy is, and that's a big part of Mary taking this job. So we're going to cover what is Touchstone, what's the focus, what's the goal. But we're going to also get into some specific practice management topics, because that's pretty much all we all spend our time doing, and we're going to download more of Mary's expertise. Does that seem reasonable to you, Mary?

Mary Mock:
Yeah, that sounds great. Excited.

Kurt Dupuis:
So hot out the gate, why did you want this job?

Mary Mock:
That's a great question. So I think, I've been with Touchstone or Western Southern as a firm for more than 16 years now, and I've had a chance to really see us grow from just a tiny firm with a couple of products who survived by having really good relationships with advisors, and by approaching them in a way that was different to this organization now that isn't quite to brand name recognition with all advisors yet, but it's certainly grown into a really robust organization that has begun in earnest to differentiate ourselves in a market that is laden with consolidations, and with a lot of "the sameness" that we find in our industry as it relates to wholesalers, financial professionals and just asset managers in general.

Mary Mock:
And so for me, I really love the potential of not just where we are today, but where we are growing as a firm, and that's really attractive to me. But more so than that, why this particular role is so exciting for me at Touchstone versus any other firm is because of the people and the culture that we've built. So there are some phenomenal individuals in our organization, You two being part of that group, and it's really rare to find that type of talent and passion and intelligence in such a collective force. So for me, it was a really great opportunity to have some influence over where we grow as a firm.

Steve Seid:
So when you were talking about Kurt and I, you left out good-looking for both of us.

Mary Mock:
I figured you'd cover that, so.

Kurt Dupuis:
Smart, passionate, good looking.

Kurt Dupuis:
Yeah. That’s everything my wife says to me every night.

Mary Mock:
I just, I knew I could count on you guys to cover that.

Steve Seid:
Did you give her a script? This is what you must read to me before... Kurt, you are great-looking.

Kurt Dupuis:
Re-affirm me please. Let's go.

Mary Mock:
I know. You're good enough, you're smart enough and we all like you, Kurt.

Steve Seid:
That's awesome. Yeah, because the truth is, this how I see the world and why I'm so excited for you in the role, and your vision is like, no one really needs another generic wholesaler. They don't. 

Kurt Dupuis:
And they'll tell you that.

Steve Seid:
And they're right. And by the way, good wholesalers you should absolutely carve time. But the average generic, "Hey, I'm going to come in and sell you." It's just like, no one needs another one. But let me pose it a little bit more specific to you, Mary. Why should a financial professional meet with their Touchstone wholesaler? What is the experience you want them to get?

Mary Mock:
Yeah, so just to make a comment too, no one should or want to meet with a generic wholesaler, but for the financial professionals, they also recognize that prospects and clients don't want to meet with a generic financial advisor either. And so in that respect, we're all really aligned. You brought up an important word, which is experience. We strive to have a vision in terms of how we impact our industry that is different than what the average experience is for advisors. The whole approach though is that intersection of consulting and coaching, and it's finding whatever is most important to the advisor, to the person that's our constituent. And then we translate that into us being a value to them and whatever it is that means. And so we strive to be a value at every level of their organization based on what their needs might be. And the benefit in doing that is, we become a good associate or advocate for, and in some cases, a driver of their success by the way that we interact with them. We try to have valuable interactions that give an advisor an experience that's really different from what they're used to seeing and getting.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. And I think that was important. We're going to get into practice management in a second, but we wanted to share that because what we're trying to do is build a very different kind of firm. And if you listen to this podcast, we thought it was worth you hearing that vision and what we're looking to to try to achieve. If you were giving advice, here's where I would focus all of my time or focus my attention on getting better if you’re a financial professional in 2021. What are some of those things? What are the key points in your view?

Mary Mock:
Well, if you look at the pillars of modern wealth management; it's about having a holistic relationship with your clients, making sure that you're addressing more than the singular element that is someone's investments. It's about addressing the needs today and in the future of clients. And it's really being curious to understand what drives, what motivates clients and then managing to those needs.

Mary Mock:
And so that sounds really simple, but the more ingrained clients are with advisors, the better that advisor or professional is going to be able to meet or exceed that client's needs, but also the better the experience for the client, the better the relationship, the stickier that relationship. We should have really solid relationships with those that are our clients, and we should know and be able to respond to what those needs are. And those needs are more complex than they've ever been. It's really more than just looking at the simple, the old model of being a stockbroker way back in the day. It's just so much different now.

Steve Seid:
So let's say you’ve got the same issue with two different teams and you're bringing the same solution, or consulting approach to two different teams. Think about your history. One of those teams executes, and one doesn't. Is it simply an execution thing? In other words, what makes that engagement super successful and not successful at all? Is it just a motivated team on the other side?

Mary Mock:
When I'm asked to define who those individuals are who potentially will have the most success, the answer is really always the same, and that is, some people who are going to execute upon what they say they want to work on, or if people are going to do what they say they're going to do. So those who can execute come out ahead.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. And you could learn things about making execution easier. I've definitely learned a ton over time on what... There's some people that come in and just want to, oh, let's do everything within the next month. Those have worked out less for me than those that we take baby steps that are meaningful, but still baby steps, because these are busy people. Kurt and Mary, I wonder if that's been your experience too?

Kurt Dupuis:
Well, yeah, because those people that want to do everything overnight are looking for a silver bullet a lot of times, and silver bullets don't exist, as particularly in a complex industry with hard problems. And it's sometimes our job to help people pump the brakes and tamper enthusiasm and make it more realistic to say, look, all of these are maybe achievable over a year or two, but we stick with our 90 day chunks. Let's think about the next three months, get through some objectives, set some goals, hit those marks and then move on to the next problem.

Mary Mock:
The irony is we find advisors who say, I really don't have the time to take those two steps or whatever it is, that they're working on over the next 30, 60 or 90 days. And what they don't realize is by accomplishing those things, they actually give themselves back more time in their day. And so investing a little bit now gives them that freedom that they're looking for and it lessens their constraints.

Kurt Dupuis:
We're here sitting, talking on a podcast, which is not something, at least for wholesalers, that I know that happens with much frequency in our industry. What do you see as the future of digital media with asset management? Are asset managers going to play a role in curating content specifically for, not just financial professionals, but hyper niche financial professionals, or how do you see that evolving over the next several years?

Mary Mock:
Yeah, I would suggest that what you guys are doing is really rare, that there aren't many wholesalers who are, A: with an organization that would allow that quite honestly. It's something that's unknown. And in our industry, we have to know things really well for a long time before we feel comfortable allowing those things to happen, but that's where sometimes we miss out on innovation and creativity and things that really do drive change in our organization or in our industry. So I'm really happy, first of all, that you guys are so confident in what you do and that you're so interested in reaching your audience in a way that's unique. And the content that you have is, in many cases, easily differentiated, but it's very thought provoking and it causes those of us who feel like we've been in this industry for a long time to go, you know what, that's a really good point.

Mary Mock:
So I love that aspect of what you do. Now, do I think it will be really mainstream in a very short period of time? I doubt that. As we worked with some of our other partners that provide software and training programs for us, and I'm sure you guys are all familiar with the biggest names out there, that our conversations with them around maybe videos in general and things like that, and reaching advisers through social media, they would suggest that firms are still trying to wrap their arms around what that content looks like from a compliance standpoint. And so I don't know if it's going to be really mainstream anytime soon. 

Steve Seid:
Excellent. So we're going to take a quick break. And then Mary, you want to get into some mailbag questions, some fun questions, have a little fun? You up for that?

Mary Mock:
I'm ready. Thanks.

Steve Seid:
Awesome. Let's take a quick break. We'll be right back with Mary Mock. This is The Whole Truth. Stick with us.

Steve Seid:
And welcome back, everybody. We're going to get into the mailbag.

Kurt Dupuis:
So the first question from the mailbag is from me to you. Which are harder to coach, wholesalers or financial professionals?

Mary Mock:
I think it's individual. The first thing is it's not really a fair question. I know.

Steve Seid:
How big of a dodge is that? I'm not going to... We can't. We can't let you do that.

Kurt Dupuis:
We're about to get into her parenting spiel. It's, what is it? Fair? Not equal?

Mary Mock:
Fair, but not equal because everybody gets what they need, but it doesn't mean they get exactly what the other one needs.

Kurt Dupuis:
The same as everybody else.

Mary Mock:
Followed by the same thing that I tell all of my kids. I love you more than your brother. Just don't tell your brother, but then I tell all three of them that. So that's how that works. So that's a real answer though, because so first of all, it's not necessarily a fair question because I'm not coaching people to do the same thing. So the commonalities are wholesalers and advisors are generally both very type A. They're typically high achievers, not shy or low on self-esteem.

Mary Mock:
So that sets the table. Number one, wholesalers that I'm coaching generally report to me. And so sometimes it's a little bit easier because they are compelled in some respects to have to work with me. They're a captive audience, right? Financial advisors, it's not quite the same. That's a purely voluntary type of relationship. And so it might be hard to get them to engage. But what I find is when advisors are engaged, they tend to mostly follow through because they're choosing to have that relationship with me. But let me just be clear, neither one of you are easy to deal with. You're all different, but you're worth it.

Kurt Dupuis:
There we go. That's where we're really trying to get to.

Steve Seid:
This is a question for both of you, I'll just start hitting these mailbag questions. We'll do maybe three or four, and then one that I need to address solo. So reflecting back on your wholesaling days, what was your best move as a wholesaler? In other words, something that you're like, oh man, this is, I do this and it really is pretty unique and creative. So that's one. And then what was your absolute worst situation with a financial professional that is podcast friendly?

Kurt Dupuis:
I'll start. So, a dumb little move that I have oversized pride in is... I'm a big laminator. So I find that, whether you're working with building models, whether you're talking about a service matrix, there's a lot of deliverables with this stuff. I just think there's something about laminating that kind of stuff that it really crystallizes what you're working on with the financial professional. And actually my buddies make fun of me for doing that. They think it's completely ridiculous, but I find a lot of pride in laminating important documents.

Steve Seid:
I think that's hilarious that you just called yourself a big laminator. I'm sorry. That was just fantastic, so.

Mary Mock:
I know who's getting a pocket protector for Christmas this year.

Steve Seid:
How about item two, Kurt, on that. Have you ever been in a crazy situation with an FA? What was a worst situation you've been in?

Kurt Dupuis:
The worst situation and we'll see if we can air this or not, but it was a dinner with a financial professional and this was not with Touchstone if that matters. But it was a client dinner where, and he was in the entertainment business. So it was like entertainment attorneys, musicians, a ruckus little crowd. And I lost control of the wine ordering and ended up having the most expensive meal of my life. And I did not sleep a wink that night and called my boss the next morning to confess what I had done and I was expecting to get reamed. And then I was actually very grateful for the response. It was more of like, Hey, this is an expensive lesson, but an important one. Don't let it happen again.

Steve Seid:
That’s funny.

Mary Mock:
That’s great.

Steve Seid:
Mary, what was some of your good moves? What was a great thing you did as a wholesaler that made you successful that you think is unique to you?

Mary Mock:
It's so simple. Two things actually, it's so simple, but it was really effective. I used to sit down when I was a brand new wholesaler and I really didn't know what I was doing, which is true. And it was the middle of the financial crisis. So no one wanted to talk about products. So I used to sit down with advisors and I would say, tell me how you got into this business, because now there's education that supports working as a financial advisor. People have a direct path to how they end up as financial professionals, but back in the day, it was a really interesting amalgamation of reasons and ways people got into financial advising.

And that became such a great question. I learned so much about each person and it gave them a chance in a really conversational way to let me in and teach me something about themselves. And it was really great. There's one story, I know we don't really have time for me to give you all of my wholesaling stories, but there is one person who to this day is an icon in the community where I live. He worked for a bank and, I live in Charlotte down in the South. And so they eventually flew him to an advisory firm, a broker dealer flew him to New York to interview for this job.

And he was sitting in the lobby and there was the real old stock ticker, the real stock ticker, not the electronic one sitting in the middle of the floor. And he was in a tan suit out in Wall Street, and the person who was interviewing for the same job sitting there in a blue pinstripe suit and all that stuff, reading the ticker tape, and this person had no idea how to do that. And he sat in front of the person who was the president of the organization. And he was like, look, sir, I don't know why they brought me up here. I'm not going to be a good fit for this job. And he said, this other guy knew how to read the ticker. I don't even know what that is. And he was like, slow down son. He's like, are you dumb?

He was like, no. And he goes, can you learn? And he goes, yeah. And this person went on to be, I think for years, one, two or three in terms of top production in Charlotte for a long, long time. And I was one of only a few wholesalers who knew that story, not because he wasn't willing to share, but because when people sat down with him for lunch or were lucky enough to get a meeting, they just dove into what their firm did and how they could sell products to him. And didn't ever take the time, either didn't want to, were intimidated by, or didn't know to ask, and really missed the bigger picture of what a wonderful person this guy was and what an interesting story.

Steve Seid:
Yeah, that's fantastic. How about a crazy situation? I'm almost positive you've had a few of those.

Mary Mock:
Yeah. I had a very peripheral interaction with an advisor in, it's somewhere in the South, we'll just put it that way. And I had a great interaction with him, male. He was great, no problems. We had a really good modal, an office lunch, really great meeting. And he asked for more information and I asked my internal partner to follow up. And I don't remember the specifics of the story, but it was really benign and this person followed up and he was just not a great person to my internal. Really rude. Things that are not professional regardless, even if it was something that my internal did to offend him, which he did not at the time, but anyway. So this person was really rude. And so ultimately, I ended up calling this person and let's just say, I handled it by reaching out and letting that person know that the way they behaved towards my internal was not appropriate. And at the end of the day, that is why the sales desk started calling me Mama Mock way back in the day.

Steve Seid:
I learned from you on that. I actually did that once when someone was really evil to... beating up on internals, man, that's just not right.

Kurt Dupuis:
I didn't know that was the origin of that story, or that name.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. Yeah, that's-

Mary Mock:
I left out some details, but that's the story, so to speak.

Steve Seid:
Okay, Mary, and so I'm going to do a couple of questions directed to one of us instead of all of us. This is because I think this next one, Kurt and I have covered a bit, but I want to hear your response. This is from Rick in Orinda. How do financial professionals go about implementing their service model? Do they have staff to hand them a list of clients that call, schedule the meetings or do they do it themselves? What things do they give the staff versus what they do? What is the $1 million plus advisor doing in this regard? So how do you think about Mary after you've designed the specifics of your service model, the implementation, how do you make it reality?

Mary Mock:
Yeah. Well, it depends on the team resources, whether it's a team or sole practitioner. And so there are definitely some constraints, but optimally, those if you look at it like the inverted dentist's office where the dentist is the person who's really at the top of the pyramid. But when you go in for your cleaning, it's the hygienist who schedules you, the person who checks you out at the front. All of that stuff, who's really running the day-to-day of the operation. The same thing is true in this respect. So it's the CSA or the dedicated person who then manages the calendar of how often and what those interactions look like for the advisor. So it should be a well-oiled machine if done appropriately. And then do you want me to answer that second part as well? About the million dollar producers? How do they do it?

Steve Seid:
Yeah. Really what they’re getting at is, what are the best teams doing here?

Mary Mock:
Yeah, because I was going to say, if your question is, what are the million dollar producers doing? How are they doing it? Well, some are doing it really well and some aren't doing it really well. So just to say, you've grown a large practice doesn't mean you're running the most efficient and effective practice. And that's just a reality, right? All of us are works in progress. And so the best teams are doing it a variety of ways, but some of the ways that the best teams are doing it is they are reducing their clients to an appropriate number, who have high enough assets that they can manage. And they service the heck out of them and provide to them a standard of care that is unheard of in our industry. Now that's like the unicorn of financial advising and building a practice, but it's what we should all be aspiring toward.

Others look at things in a more hybrid or a tiered capacity where there are levels of service provided to clients who qualify at a certain level, but those who fall into specific categories are given a specific standard of care that is not only a great experience for that person, but that meets the complexities and the needs of that particular client. Those that are doing it well are structured in what they're doing. And they're consistent in their application and deployment

Steve Seid:
Kurt, I'll give this to you. In this particular case, you've got a team that's very successful but has top heavy books where they're growing pretty rapidly and they're having trouble, difficulty servicing the bottom part of the book. And the bottom part of the book isn't even, they've got, they're fortunate that it's not super low households. How do you handle that? Would you add to the team to be able to service those bottom households? Or would you systematize it and do things that are bulk?

Kurt Dupuis:
Yeah. I would start with questions, and the questions I would ask would be, how's everybody spending their time now because we built that client service calculator, which I love as a tool because it shows in black and white how much time you have, where are people spending their time. So going through that exercise would be the place that I would start.

Steve Seid:
Yeah, it was such an interesting comment where he was like, listen, if we lost a million dollar client, they're just fortunate. They're like, we really wouldn't feel it. So it's like, do we spend time putting a lot more energy into our prospects, which could be 10X that, or do we spend it servicing the bottom of our book, which are still good clients?

Mary Mock:
Yeah. You can only continue to grow at the pace that you can service your current clients. It's the theory that you catch fish and you put them in the live well. That well is only going to hold so many fish. And so some of it is you have to decide what your model is. And then you match the clients that best fit that model. Deliberate growth, really being intentional about who's in the practice and why they're in the practice and how you will appropriately manage those relationships is the key driver to success. Because, and we've talked about Supernova on a previous podcast, and that is, you're only as strong as your weakest level of service. It's very true. And sometimes you have to shrink in order to be able to grow.

Steve Seid:
This is another separate question that we got that that's related to that. This is a team that describes themselves as not really the touchy feely client service type. They deal with what they describe as high end executives that want them to run money. They're not a planning based practice. They really are very investment focused. For them, what's the baby step?

Mary Mock:
So if they're not a touchy feely practice, and it's not about financial planning, then I wouldn't send them something that's a really heartfelt emotional quarterly connecting newsletter. I would send them very topical, market related information that is specific to something that matters. I would be the most knowledgeable I could about those things that impact that type of client. And I would direct only things that will resonate with that individual. And I would get rid of the noise because people who sit in that C-suite level generally are devoid of time.

Steve Seid:
Excellent. This next one from Doug in Oakland, he's onboarding a new hire and he's got a pretty decent sized team, but he always wants to maintain a great culture. Mary, we always talk about culture. How do you think about integrating someone into your culture? Is it just spending time with them? Is it doing things social? It's a difficult question, but I'm curious how you would respond and Kurt please chime in as well.

Mary Mock:
If you hire the wrong person or a person who could have great skills, but who doesn't match your core values or doesn't understand what your ethos is or what you're driving for as an organization can ultimately not be a positive influence on your culture. And so I think there's a lot of work to be done on the front end of hiring to make sure that person is adequately exposed or that at least you've well communicated to the person what that shared vision might be. Tony Shay from Zappos, I can't think of the book right now, but it's a great book and timely since he unfortunately passed away recently.

But there's a really interesting, several paragraphs of his book that talk about culture and understanding what it is. And from their perspective, Zappos wasn't a shoe company. Zappos was a company that made customers happy. And if everybody understood that on the way in, they were much better equipped to continue and carry through with customers and even in their interactions internally, and to purvey that culture.

My mindset about culture and about really just making work organizations a nice place to be, my philosophy is that every department, regardless of who they are and who they're end client might be, should approach their relationships internally as internal customers. Right? If we all looked at ourselves internally as if we were customers in the same way that we service and build relationships with our external clients, and we interacted in that same fashion, how much better would every organization be?

Steve Seid:
All right. So, Mary, I have a couple of questions on Bitcoin stuff. Do you want to drop off here and I can finish, or do you want to hang around for the last few questions?

Mary Mock:
You can definitely cover Bitcoin by yourself, so good luck with that. Thank you guys so much.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. Thanks, Mary. Appreciate being on.

Kurt Dupuis:
Great stuff as always.

Mary Mock:
All right, see you guys.

Steve Seid:
All right, Kurt. We've got a great question from Brad. A couple things. So he wanted to deal with how to think about large tech and how to think about Bitcoin. So we cannot cover investments on this podcast, but we've tried

Kurt Dupuis:
You know this is going to get cut.

Steve Seid:
But we did get the approval to talk a little bit about Bitcoin. So let me just make a couple of comments here. So if you go back like three, four years ago, when Bitcoin was starting to become a thing, I had a lot of trouble with it as an investment concept.

Like blockchain is super cool, but as an investment concept, and the reason is the same thing that I struggle with things like gold and commodities, the same thing I struggle with Bitcoin. There's no cash flow associated with it. There's no earnings, it's a supply and demand thing. It's what someone else is willing to pay for it. I'm fine with that. I just don't know how much it's worth.

Kurt Dupuis:
But don't you think something like Bitcoin is more prone to frenzies than something like oil or gold? And so, I don't expect that high level of volatility with that currency.

Steve Seid:
Yeah, but I'll tell you where things changed. And I'm not just saying this after the recent run-up. Where it changed for me is this. One is I think it makes absolute sense just to have some kind of hedge to federal reserve activity in the markets. And that could be commodities. I just think Bitcoin should maybe make a decent hedge. The other thing that made me think is when I started to see companies start to normalize it.

And so here recently, where Tesla added billions to their... I think you're going to see more companies do it. So I think, would I own it as a hedge? Sure. It wouldn't be huge weights, but that's a big, big leap for me who never wanted to own things like gold and commodities. So, to answer your question, Brad, I've evolved on this and I think it's something that's probably worth at least considering where I wouldn't have said that two years ago.

Kurt Dupuis:
So you're netting out that it's a hedge versus an asset.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. I don't want to get into how to own it in a portfolio. I just say I would own it. And for the reasons that I described as a substitute to a part of the allocation that probably doesn't have a great outlook right now, and then also to hedge. So that's where I'm at. I can't believe I'm saying it, but I think it's worth considering. Anyway, thank you guys for the questions. We missed about half that were sent in, so Kurt and I will do a second mailbag, but thanks everyone for the questions.

Speaker 2:
This is The Whole Truth. Stick with us.

Steve Seid:
And welcome back everybody. We are in our Costanza corner. Kurt, you are leading the way this time.

Kurt Dupuis:
So I feel like I'm stealing your thunder a little bit, but I saw this and it was definitely more on brand for you, but looking at the pictures, it's just adorable. Have you ever heard of a photographer named Greg Murray?

Steve Seid:
No, but, I know zero photographers, honestly.

Kurt Dupuis:
But you know animals, and that's why I thought you might know him. So in 2017, he published a picture book called “Peanut Butter Dogs”, which was just dogs with peanut butter on their face, licking it. Apparently it was such a gigantic success. He's doing a sequel, that's called “Peanut Butter Puppies”, where he got 70 rescue dogs from 30 different shelters and did this gigantic project with them. So he just talks about setting up the art space, which was just very clean floors that he put paper down because he basically just gave these puppies some multiples, so they're licking it off the face of each other, it's super adorable.

Kurt Dupuis:
But, there's a Dalmatian with his tongue all the way extended, just coated with peanut butter. It just looked like a really fun, adorable project. Probably a good gift idea for someone in your life that loves animals. It was just really cute and put me in an uplifted state of mind. So I thought you'd enjoy that Seid.

Steve Seid:
I have three comments to this; three comments. First off, how did I not know about this? Comment two, is this my Costanza corner or your... because I feel like I wrote this for you, and yet I didn't. But the third thing is for anyone listening, who I send gifts this year, expect this because I'm going to buy a bunch of these books and use them as gifts. I'm always thinking like, what's a good gift?

Kurt Dupuis:
Because you like it, regardless whether the other person does.

Steve Seid:
Listen, if you receive a book of dogs eating peanut butter and it doesn't make you smile or make your day better, come on, who are you? You're not a client of mine. I'll tell you that much.

Kurt Dupuis:
It's really cute, man.

Steve Seid:
I'm always looking for interesting things. I always send people the wine and the champagne, but it's like to have some unique, interesting things that's out of the blue. Something like that, man. That's got to put a smile on your face. So, that's a good one, Kurt. We will see you next time.

Speaker 1:
You can find the whole truth and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. We'd love it if you took the time to rate and review the show on Apple podcasts. It helps others find the show. And for more episodes of The Whole Truth, go to www.touchstoneinvestments.com/thewholetruth. That's touchstoneinvestments.com/thewholetruth. All one word.

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