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45 Things Wholesalers Wish Financial Professionals Knew

Steve Seid & Kurt Dupuis
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Guest 45

Kurt Dupuis:
Welcome to The Whole Truth, where two wholesalers 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. And we'll have some fun along the way.

Steve Seid:
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 contributing to the discussion.

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 in the Bay Area, California. I am Steve Seid.

Kurt Dupuis:
And from an undisclosed bunker somewhere in the continental United States, I am Kurt Duquis.

Steve Seid:
It looks though the same as when I always talk to you.

Kurt Dupuis:
Don't tell people that.

Steve Seid:
You designed your bunker the exact same way.

Kurt Dupuis:
I'm trying to create a level of intrigue here.

Steve Seid:
So we got a cool one today. Dan Sullivan is on the show. Dan hosts a podcast called Internal Use Only which Kurt loves that name.

Kurt Dupuis:
Love the name. Love the name.

Steve Seid:
So Dan is a former wholesaler that started his own podcast, and he's talking to a lot of folks in our industry, reached out to us, heard our show, similar number of episodes, similar following. And so, we're having a crossover show today, which is really, really fun. And the premise of the episode is this, we wanted to reflect since we have three folks who have done the job wholesaling, what are some good questions that you should be asking wholesalers? Our guidance on this is pretty straightforward, you should narrow down the list of firms that you work with, and then you should maximize those relationships. And so, we said, "Okay, if we can come together and talk a little bit about how to maximize, what are the questions to ask?" That's probably something that's useful.

Kurt Dupuis:
And as you would expect, when a few wholesalers get together, we traded a couple of war stories. If at any point, if it sounds like we are complaining about our job, just know, it's the same as when financial professionals get together to talk about office stuff and whatever. So there's a little bit of that noodling. But, the takeaway here is, these are the questions you should be asking the wholesalers with which you work.

Steve Seid:
Right. And that's the very key point there, is there's a solution here. Sometimes, when I go into an office to meet with somebody, if the conversation stalls, it's not that they're wanting to have a bad meeting, no one wants to have a bad meeting. It's just the interaction is not going well, the right questions aren't being asked. And so, if we can help that in any way, it benefits everybody.

Kurt Dupuis:
That's right. We're approaching this from the golden rule, or putting the shoe on the other foot. If we were financial professionals, what would we want to know? And these are the questions that we would be asking to ourselves if the shoe were on the other foot. So, we'll get into our interview in a second. Make sure that you subscribe to the podcast, smash that subscribe button, share this with some folks in your office or in your sphere of influence. We'd always appreciate that. And without further ado, here's our interview with Dan Sullivan.

Steve Seid:
And welcome everybody. So we usually welcome our guests, but we're doing a cross... What did we call it, Dan Sullivan, what is this episode called?

Dan Sullivan:
Mash up. Cross-promoted episode. I don't know if there's a specific term in the podcasting industry for it, but maybe we'll go with a cross-promoted episode.

Steve Seid:
Cross-promoted. There you go. So we've got two shows coming together, which Dan Sullivan does Internal Use Only. Kurt Dupuis and I, my name's Steve Seid, I should probably introduce myself, do The Whole Truth for financial professionals. And, we've connected, and we want to do a show that we think will resonate with both audiences. And, we're really, really excited to have you on. I've been spending some time with your show, just love what you do. So, maybe we'll start with an overview of your show first that you can share for our audience.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah, definitely. And, thank you so much for having me, as you had alluded to, my name is Dan Sullivan. I'm the host, producer, editor, all things considered for the podcast, Internal Use Only. So it's been an incredibly fun project. We just celebrated our 25th episode. And, to celebrate I ended up doing more of an introductory show called the Q1 Fact Sheet Commentary and Market Outlook. So if anyone hasn't checked out the show, that could be a good introduction. It's only 15 minutes.
But, our goal is to profile and feature the characters in the financial services world, their experiences, and insights. So, the origin story really started back to when I was an internal wholesaler at various asset management firms, where the people, and the experiences, and the highlights were too incredible to not profile or to not share with the universe. So, after a couple of years of vetting it out, thinking about the show, the topics, and the guests, we've been able to have what I think has been a quietly successful show, and we're just taking off. So, I'm really appreciative of you joining me. I've been a huge fan of what you two are up to. And I'm excited to be speaking with some other podcasters who are hoping to bring some, maybe, levity and good information out to the financial services world too.

Kurt Dupuis:
I am so jealous of the name. I mean-

Kurt Dupuis:
Ours is fine... I'm okay with it. But, Internal Use... Oh my goodness.

Steve Seid:
So good.

Kurt Dupuis:
If I could steal that... Well done there. Love it.

Dan Sullivan:
I'll try to slap a copyright on it.

Kurt Dupuis:
You should.

Dan Sullivan:
What I'm trying to get at is the nods to the industry, the lifestyle that exists for financial services, I think is pretty similar no matter what role you're in, whether you're a financial advisor, a wholesaler, analyst, consultant, RIA staffers, it's all similar. So I really wanted to bring that nod to the industry, where you get that email, or you send something out to your team and you have to label it bold red, or highlight it Internal Use Only.

Kurt Dupuis:
Yeah, they come with a header. They're automatic now. Yeah.

Dan Sullivan:
So that's where the name came from.

Steve Seid:
That's terrific. So talk about who's your audience and who are the types of guests that you have on your show?

Dan Sullivan:
So, as part of this Q1 Fact Sheet that I put out, I broke this down by sector exposure. So, if I'm acting like a portfolio manager... So, I guess we have an overweight in wholesalers. So, a little bit different in the fact that we are trying to bring on wholesalers to the show. And about 35% of my guests have been wholesalers. So, practicing wholesalers or retired wholesalers, another, let's say, 30-ish or so have been service providers. So, those that have worked in some capacity or directly work with wholesalers. So think of, individuals that would go to a national sales meeting, or do sales coaching, or training for any external/internal wholesalers.

25% of them are about service providers. So those that actually sell products and services to wholesalers. So, think groups like YCharts, they came on, did a phenomenal episode with Dave Lubnik, just a guy who, if you don't know him, you should know, and their products are great. And then, a relative underweight and a good reason why I think our portfolios or podcasts complement each other is because 10% of my guests have been advisors. There's no framework or parameters. It's really just focused on people with really interesting background, stories, or experiences in the financial services world.

Steve Seid:
That's great.

Kurt Dupuis:
It's like peeling back the curtain of financial services, right? And, talk about the underpinnings of those Internal Use emails and those internal “goings on” of financial services, generally.

Dan Sullivan:
Exactly. Primarily a lot of the communication, it's very subject matter expert-heavy, which is awesome. You think of shows like, Ted Seides and Capital Allocators, or Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz. They get just the big, heavy hitters in financial services that have very amazing and polished stories. I think, we're trying to capture is the “in betweens”, the more nuanced stories, or how did random people find their way into the industry, and what shaped your life the most because you're in this type of industry? So, all of those stories and questions are what we try to uncover with our guests.

Steve Seid:
That's terrific. The reason that this was really interesting, we thought for our audience is, I've personally been surprised how much financial professionals who are our audience, and we'll get to our show in a second, are interested in what goes on on the wholesale side of the world.

Kurt Dupuis:
Oh yeah.

Steve Seid:
They are genuinely interested. Which surprised me. Some people don't care, but a lot of people actually really care, like, "This wholesaler changed firms. How are you guys thinking about this?" They are genuinely interested in it. So we thought, having you on and introducing your show would be a really good thing for our audience.

Dan Sullivan:
I'm happy to do it. I don't necessarily want to have the representation of the entire wholesaling world on my shoulders, but if we can help bridge the gap and if we can bring some education and information out to these mutual audiences, I honestly think that's a huge win-win.

Steve Seid:
You referenced your most recent episode that you came out, which I enjoyed tremendously, about you presenting the show as a fact sheet and talking about your underweights and overweights, which is just hilarious. And you mentioned something that really stuck out to me and maybe it's because we're in a similar situation, how you are a top quartile show or a top 25% show. What did you mean by that? So toot your own horn a little bit.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I'll caveat this that I added a disclaimer to that, which is, just like any financial wholesaler out there when they want to put together their performance chart, they're going to try to find a graph that shows their line going up to the top right. But yeah, no, the podcast hosting sites that collect data across the entirety of the podcast universe, they have certain deciles or quartiles based on average downloads, number of episodes, and things like that. And as the show started to gain more traction, I was pleasantly surprised to find out just after a quick search on my host site, "What are successful podcast episodes?" That based on the number of downloads we're getting, we do fall into that top 25% category, which, you don't really think about too much.

Steve Seid:
Right.

Dan Sullivan:
And honestly, it's probably a fact that there's a lot of bad podcasts out there, or that there's so many podcasts out there that just don't keep on going. It's nice to see that proof of concept has landed. It is nice to see that there actually is some tangible traction from the metrics of the show.

Kurt Dupuis:
So, to that point, I remember a conversation we had with Jared Morris, where... Do you remember what those numbers were Seid? It was like, "90% of podcasts don't get to 10 episodes." So, just like putting your head down and keep going, you're going to get traction, because people get more eyeballs on it and be successful.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah, totally. I need to get your origin story as well. I've enjoyed following it too. I think, you're pushing 40, are you past 40 episodes now?

Steve Seid:
Tuesday will be... Well, I'm dating this show because it'll come out way after I'm saying this. But as we sit here in the middle of April 2022, we have our 40th episode out this upcoming Tuesday, so.

Dan Sullivan:
Congratulations.

Steve Seid:
Thanks man. We're really proud. And you just crossed what? You're at 25 or...

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah, 25 that have been released. Nice to hit 25. Keep going and even though it takes some time as I'm sure you're aware of, it's been great. The people that occupy these roles are second to none. And the fact that I've been able to speak with so many of them is truly a privilege.

Kurt Dupuis:
There's this whole ecosystem that you don't even know about until you get into it that you're made aware of. And they're very high quality people, very high quality conversations. That's what we found. It sounds like you're similar.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah, definitely.

Kurt Dupuis:
But Seid’s just looking for 30 minutes with Mark Cuban, but we haven't been able to get that.

Steve Seid:
He won't respond to me. Mark, if you hear this...

Kurt Dupuis:
What have you learned through this adventure, through this exercise of doing the podcast, 25 episodes in?

Dan Sullivan:
That's a great question. One question that I ask almost all of my guests is, how did they originally get into the industry? And I ask them to tell their story. And there's nothing that I can particularly distill from that, besides the fact that there is absolutely no cookie cutter way for anybody to get into the industry. And, I'm talking how they were introduced to the industry, how they found out about it, what stage of their life they ended up becoming either a wholesaler or financial advisor. So hearing those stories is super interesting. Outside of that, I would generally say that, from some of the interactions that we've had and the stories that have been told, you cannot make up all of these things that have happened. So those have been how people get into the industry and the stories only because in your job, you're just traveling and moving around.

Dan Sullivan:
What's been educational for the practitioner side of things is the best wholesalers have a very clear process. It can take many, many different shapes. I don't think this is anything new. I'm sure every divisional manager out there has said that. But hearing some people tell me that in their own words and not in a way that's puffed up like they're at their national sales meeting has been really cool. And then outside of that, as far as interactions between advisors and wholesalers, which I think is an element that we're going to chat about more, but from the guests that I've gotten brought on, I think it's a really easy way to figure out how each advisor prefers to work with wholesalers. And, for anyone who listens to those episodes are going to get that information for free without having to bother anybody. So I think that's definitely interesting, but one quote that was hilarious from an advisor that came on, he's a LPL rep up here in New England. His quote was so assertive and he was like, "The only thing that has ever changed about wholesalers is the booth that they're sitting behind at the events." And, it was just his way of just saying, in 30 years of meeting an advisor, nothing has changed just besides the product that someone's selling.

Steve Seid:
Wow.

Dan Sullivan:
So that was just his particular take, right?

Kurt Dupuis:
Yeah.

Dan Sullivan:
It's just his take and we know. The advisors tuning in, we all love you. You can be opinionated, and that's okay. So, that was just his thought.

Kurt Dupuis:
Yeah.

Dan Sullivan:
And, another woman, Christina Zints, who's a little bit younger, she shared that they consciously limit their fund families and who they try to reach out to. So, just some interesting ways that you can just pick up from the people who are sharing how they operate. So, I didn't necessarily give anybody here, I think, life dropping knowledge with my commentary, but those were just some of the nuances that I've picked up throughout the 25 episodes that I've done so far.

Steve Seid:
That's great. Can I ask you a question? I feel like this is happening in our industry, but it could just be happening with me and the people that I just talk with, it does seem to me that we're having a discussion about what the next generation of wholesaler looks like. Would you agree with that? It's not to say that a "old school wholesaler" can't survive or run a great business, but it does seem like that there's change on what the next generation of wholesalers, would you agree with that disagree with that? That's what I spend a lot of time thinking about.

Dan Sullivan:
Absolutely. Things are changing in the sense of communication and information flow and how people choose to interact professionally. I think that those two things are absolutely changing. What I don't necessarily agree with is that, I think what makes a successful salesperson doesn't really ever change that much, it just might take a different form. We're just all trying to figure out collectively the best way to progress and serve, given the tools and resources that we have. I think we just covered it before, but you're soon to be celebrating your 40th episode, which is fantastic. And, I wanted to congratulate you on the show's success and the visibility. It's been incredible to follow. So I did want to just ask the two of you, what's your origin story? How did you first think to do a podcast episode?

Kurt Dupuis:
We had this internal group that was loosely called some “Mastermind” group, where we would talk about something that is very near and dear to the Touchstonian process, which is practice management. So, just developing new tools, new ideas, just continuing to press the envelope for what our clientele would find valuable. That was a great group, great discussion point, but Seid and I found ourselves talking offline individually a lot. And it was like, "So somebody said this. But I really think this, we could go this direction." So, it was just additional banter to this group. And then Seid called me one day and he's like, "Hey, all these conversations that we're having, what if we start a podcast?" And, a very strong driving emotion for me has always been when you're on that cusp of your comfort zone. And I remember that tingly excitement yet nervousness when he said that, because we're both... To use Kolbe language, which we're moderately obsessed with, we're both “Initiating Quick Starts”. So, we like brainstorming. We like talking out loud too. And so, he said that, I was like, "This is a genius idea." So then we start strategizing how do we pitch this to the president? Which was the easiest pitch in the world. It took less than 60 seconds. And, here we are two years later, 40 something episodes in.

Dan Sullivan:
That's great. So, when that initial pitch went through, were there any barriers, or pitch was so good that all of a sudden they just gave you the okay and you just went with it?

Kurt Dupuis:
No, I mean, we had manufactured an episode ourselves. I don't know how many intro songs Seid downloaded trying to-

Dan Sullivan:
I was going to say, I see Steve chuckling over there. So, there had to have been some effort put into that.

Kurt Dupuis:
... And it was not great, but we were prepared to say, "Hey, here's the idea. Here's what it could look like in real-time." And We didn't even get to showing him what the episode was. He was just like, "I love this. This is where we want to go. You guys are great people to do it. And let's go." And so, it really was less than 60 seconds, right Seid?

Steve Seid:
The reason it was so quick is because it was so core to where we're heading as a firm strategically. What we want our wholesalers to be able to deliver is different than is not necessarily the case at some other firms. We have a track we're going down and this fit in with that track. Just some other things I would share. One, you use the term community based show in one of your episodes. I think it was that fact sheet episode. I would describe us exactly the same way. We want a group that listens and engages to us. It's awesome that we're getting these volume of listeners, but that's not how we judge success. We judge success on people that contribute, engage, drive the show, participate. Like yours, again, this is why I'm attracted to your show, I find yours to be impactful, but also listenable. We want something that's funny, but not so silly that it just wastes people time.

Kurt Dupuis:
Infotainment.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. Exactly.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah. There's a huge difference between... And I'll just reference other entities that are out there. So, I would say, what Barstool Sports has done for content and media is one extreme, where it's completely juvenile almost, but it's for content purposes. And then there's incredibly formal, overly polished-

Kurt Dupuis:
On the other side.

Dan Sullivan:
... Yeah, overly polished, scripted. And then, somewhere in between, I just feel like people enjoy that. And, I appreciate you sharing that. I felt similarly with yours, is where you want to tune in. Especially financial professionals that are traveling or that are on the road.

Steve Seid:
Yes.

Dan Sullivan:
It's really unique that this format allows you to potentially introduce somebody who I think could be accessible to that community, if that makes sense. So if you hear someone on a podcast, whether it's your show, even a guest that you had brought on recently, and I'm going to forget the individual's name, but he had a lot of information about monetizing side projects. And, I checked out some of his content and it was a library of stuff. And, this is awesome that I was able to see this information, because of an episode that you two had hosted. So, love that we're doing that. And yes, it is, it's for the community and perhaps in our world, that's easier to define, because we know exactly the types of audiences that we're targeting and the subject matters that would be interesting and fun, whether it's super serious or whether it's more lighthearted in nature.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. And if you compare it to even the other podcasts that are in the industry, and there certainly aren't many that are driven by wholesalers the way that this is, but it's going to end up being the serious stuff, it's going to be the investment stuff. And so, if you could just make it a little bit more fun, I think you can get an audience. The last thing I would say about our show, which we've talked about a few different times here is how it's become very much guest driven. We knew we would've guests, but I don't know we knew it was going to be like this. And if I could just break us down into a couple of different topic areas, just so people can conceptualize.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah, you stole my thunder. I was going to make sure I asked you about that, because I've loved the guests and the show episode. So, yeah. Target guests, maybe not only subjects that you covered, but any subjects that you're really interested in chatting about, maybe there's anyone listening to both of these that could suggest some folks on specific topics.

Steve Seid:
Exactly. Yeah. We love recommendations, and "Hey, check out this person." So the first big bucket I'd say broadly is, I mean, practice management, which is what the whole show is based on. So within that, we get a lot of coaches that are on there, and we're really picky about the coaches that we get on there. Because, there's a lot of good ones, but we want the elite ones. And so, some of the things there, it's client service and engagement, marketing, business development, just general overall efficiency. And so, couple names I'd highlight there, Penny Phillips who's well known in the industry. We just had Liz Styles who heads practice management at Raymond James. I'm leaving people out, so please understand these are just examples. But, really great people like that.

We do have the FA stories that are on there. The guy who you were talking about was Lee Michael Murphy. He had started his own podcast. We've had Dax Stadjuhar, runs an LPL OSJ and there's a lot that's involved there. We wanted to learn about Mark Fujiwara who's doing a lot of cool stuff on digital marketing. So I'd say FA stories.

And then, the last thing I would just bucket it as is almost like a catchall, a rabbit hole we go down or something interesting. Example, we had a couple professors on, one Daniel Crosby who is a behavioral finance expert who writes the best books, in my opinion on it. We had my MBA professor, who's a statistician who consults with the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks. We've had Kolbe on there. We've done stuff on team culture. So, just this bucket of things that like, "Hey, we're interacting in our day to day with these financial professionals, this topic comes up. Let's go down that rabbit hole and find out someone interesting to talk to." So, I hope that wasn't too long winded. That's how it's evolved.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah. I love that too. Even a couple of those names or the subjects that you touched on, I can recall back to interacting with advisors day in and day out when you would get that random question being like, "Well, do you happen to have something on this?" And, to be able to say something like, "Oh, you know what? If you're interested in behavioral psychology and finance, I would highly suggest Dr. Daniel Crosby. And here's an episode where I think you might like exactly." So, absolutely, yes. And having that information accessible. One question I did want to pick your brains on, because of the focus on practice management and having such a wide range of guests and topics, was there a specific episode or topic that once you finished recording, you were just like, "Man, I'm viewing this completely differently." Or something like, "Man, I had absolutely no idea that this was the case." Can you recall any of those? Steve, I see your head nodding.

Steve Seid:
Yeah, the first thing I'll say is if that doesn't happen in an episode, I'm disappointed, because that's really where we want to get to is someone who makes us think. And, that's happened so many times. The one that jumps out to me immediately is Julie Littlechild. So, she came on and talked to us about referrals. And so much of the industry commentary on referrals is, "Well, let's just figure out how to ask in a better way." And, she totally took that premise and blew it out on its head and said, "Okay, well let's just say... And let's find out all these different ways potentially to think about how you can generate more referrals that aren't just asking better." So, Kurt, I don't know one that jumps out to you, that's one that immediately jumps out to me.

Kurt Dupuis:
I mean, I've listened to that episode myself probably three times because it was so good. And there's so many takeaways.

Steve Seid:
Is that where we're getting all our downloads from? Is it you?

Kurt Dupuis:
They're all from Atlanta. They're all me. Uh-huh.

Dan Sullivan:
He's got 12 burner phones that he using and breaking up the downloads for.

Kurt Dupuis:
No. I mean, we went through a great list. Penny was fantastic, Dr. Crosby - my client, Brian Doe talking about the Kolbe stuff, that was great. My buddy Robby that talked about culture. So, just conversations that we never would've expected. But when we know…so, Seid makes fun of me. I use the word banger, like a big hit, right? Basically every song Bon Jovi's written is a banger. So, when we get done with the recording, we will either text it or call and be like, "Yeah, that was a banger."

Steve Seid:
That was a banger. Yeah.

Kurt Dupuis:
And, and a good chunk of them are good.

Dan Sullivan:
So you want to be able to celebrate that. That's what makes this stuff fun and worth doing.

Steve Seid:
So hopefully, everyone, that was a good overview of both shows. You know who our audience is, what we're trying to achieve. Let's take a break now. We'll come back and we'll do some fun questions we think you'd all enjoy. We'll be right back.

Dan Sullivan:
Well, Kurt and Steve, appreciate you giving me the chance to highlight my show and certainly enjoyed hearing more about yours. Let's get into the topic that we wanted to discuss because this applies to both of our audiences. And, maybe in the most relevant way possible, which is day in and day out of any wholesaler and advisor interaction. So, for this segment, we are going to cover the things that wholesalers wished financial professionals knew. We're going to go through each of our thoughts, some anecdotes. I can also say that this one was a ton of fun to do some crowdsourcing on. When I sent out the text to a handful of my friends that are practicing wholesalers, I got some quite interesting responses. Some that we probably won't be able to share on our podcast. So, Kurt, why don't we start with you? What's one thing that comes to mind when you think about things that wholesalers wished financial professionals knew?

Kurt Dupuis:
Well, this might not be universal, but I think, for the most part, being an asset holder is not the same as someone actively doing business or sales with your firm. So, I mean, if you've got millions and millions of dollars, but you haven't done business in five years, that's a different conversation than someone that is actively allocating to your products. I think that gets missed sometimes.

Steve Seid:
It a shame. I feel like that's something our side of the industry needs to solve, but-

Kurt Dupuis:
I don't disagree.

Steve Seid:
... At this point, it's not solved.

Kurt Dupuis:
Some shops go strictly off AUM. They remove gross and net altogether. And it's just AUM based. There might be something to that, but I don't think the majority of wholesalers are compensated that way, or think that way.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah, exactly. That topic, client size and prioritization happens for the advisors as well, right? If one of their smallest clients that has assets with them as an advisor makes a massive request or need you to spend money on a big event, how would you as the financial advisor respond in that case?

Kurt Dupuis:
Right.

Dan Sullivan:
But, you do bring up an interesting point, which, no idea if this is known or not, but most wholesalers are compensated primarily on gross sales in any given calendar year, that differs certainly by firm to firm, but there is absolutely a degree of either recency bias, or what have you done from me lately on the wholesaling side? Which obviously we would never really outwardly share that. But, you have to keep that in consideration when you think about time spent, budget allocated to a given year, and how you'd like to partner with any given financial advisor throughout the course of a year.

Kurt Dupuis:
That's it. When you're thinking about your budget dollars, and oftentimes you have this forward looking mechanism, and this backward looking mechanism, right? "Who has done business? And where am I trying to get business?" So you're constantly straddling both the future and the past.

Dan Sullivan:
Steve, how about you? Anything that comes to mind when you think about something that a financial advisor or financial professional should know about wholesaling?

Steve Seid:
I came up with three. And one of them's... There's a chance I can go on a tangent, so I'm like, "Should I save it?" But I'll just throw this one out here.

Dan Sullivan:
Let it rip. You used the term banger before for episodes, but do you have any run on tangents that you've got?

Steve Seid:
Yeah, I don't know about a banger. I just will say, there is a view that, "All wholesalers are the same. And, what they do is this. And here's what my experience is going to be." And I think, you made a comment earlier in our conversation about an individual that was talking about narrowing down the number of relationships they had, that's at the firm level, that's also at the wholesaler level. And this gets into the comments of what a next generation wholesaler looks like. There are some wholesalers that come in and have a shiny fact sheet that shows 5 stars and has 10 years, and doesn't really know much about that investment more than just the talking points, and wow, it looks good.

And then, there are real investors, real wholesalers that absolutely know when to invest in their product when the ads sell, know the depth there. And it's the same thing with value ads. There are wholesalers that to some degree will use it. And then, there's wholesalers that are ultimately evolving into consultants and really adding value. And I just think, financial professionals do a disservice when they think, "Oh, it's all the same. They're going to come in. They're going to force this conversation that I don't want to have." And, I think they're missing out in that regard.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah. Perception of product pushers. The next generation of wholesaling, I think hates the slimy sales perception…

Steve Seid:
Hates it.

Dan Sullivan:
…that maybe preceded there the last 25 to 40 years of wholesaling. So, consultant focused or practice management focused, I think that's where there should be hope and optimism for what those partnerships between advisors and wholesalers could look like.

Steve Seid:
What about you, Dan? What about one you brought to the table?

Dan Sullivan:
One that I thought about that just... I would always laugh when this would happen when I was a wholesaler, particularly when I was doing retail wholesaling. I'd spent some time doing institutional wholesaling as well. It was a 50/50 split. So, very different cadence. But, wholesalers don't have portfolio managers on speed dial. And it's not the portfolio manager's role at the asset management firm to be replying to inquiries from financial advisors. There is not meant to be a direct line of connectivity, nor should you expect that for someone who's out there running a portfolio. So, a great example, if you've got a portfolio manager that's managing a $20 billion fund, and then X, Y, and Z financial advisor with…

Kurt Dupuis:
20 grand.

Dan Sullivan:
…$500,000, that's not going to get them any more information than what the wholesaler can provide. I thought it was funny how emotionally charged some people would get when they couldn't get access to the portfolio manager. And I'm like, "You're not going to. That's why client portfolio managers exist or strategy specialists. You're not going to text the portfolio manager on a big fund." So, that one was interesting. And, a few folks that I had reached out to had said that.

Besides that, when I did crowdsourcing, one common denominator and I would be curious if either of you have good stories on this, be considerate of a wholesaler's travel calendar. If you're going to cancel a meeting, give at least 24 hours in advance. And I don't mean that to be like, "Oh, wholesalers are so important." It's more so that, when wholesalers prepare for their own trip, that typically involves a lengthy period of travel, whether it's by airplane, train, car, whatever. The worst moments are when you're driving somewhere and it's a three hour drive, and then 25 minutes before you get there, you get a text or call that's like, "Hey, I can't do it." It's such a gut punch.

Kurt Dupuis:
Just a little social awareness. That's all I'm asking for. Understand a little bit better what we do and realize we're people.

Steve Seid:
This is going to transition to my second one. I'm going to link the two. Which is that, we only have a certain number of relationships that we can visit with or manage ourselves. In the same way, a financial professional can't manage a 1000 relationships on their own. It's the same thing on our side. And I say that because sometimes they'll cancel and they'll say… well, you're going to see somebody… And they're like, "Well, aren't you seeing 10 other people in my office." It may be that I am, but it may be that you're just an important person that I'm going to see. And this cancellation actually, I'm going out of my way to make sure that I develop our relationship.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah. An office walk around, that's why people think that, right? You're in the office, and they just assume that, "Oh, Steve and Kurt are in the office. And, their goal is to go knock on doors, shake hands, kiss babies."

Steve Seid:
No! I’m not here for three hours.

Dan Sullivan:
Sprinkle some fact sheets everywhere. Well, let me make sure that I got my game on

Steve Seid:
Make it rain fact sheets.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah, mark my territory with fact sheets before the next wholesaler gets in the office. But, that's just a thing that's probably not happening as much anymore, right? Not everyone in that office might even be a prospect for you. It's more just an observation about how some of these like legacy business practices are probably shifting and changing. You could now spend the day going to three different folks that are going to maximize your potential sales or relationship management, and then take the rest virtually, or just do calls. You don't have to go in and see everybody.

Kurt Dupuis:
Well, and a lot of this might come across as complaining. And so, first of all, wholesaling is one of the best jobs in the world.

Steve Seid:
Amazing.

Dan Sullivan:
Oh, totally. The love of the game. That's why we're doing it, right?

Kurt Dupuis:
Absolutely.

Dan Sullivan:
If you complain about something, you have passion for it.

Kurt Dupuis:
Yeah.

Steve Seid:
Yeah.

Kurt Dupuis:
But, another sub thread here is... At least I approach it, and I'm pretty sure Seid's the same way. And a lot of the folks that we work with, we're here to serve first and sell second. Right? I think that's an important distinction. So, I mean, I'll just foreshadow some of the questions that need to be asked, you need to be asking about value add stuff that truly is the servant wholesaler approach is pretty pervasive at Touchstone. But I think it's becoming more and more of that throughout the whole industry. It's not a slick, just slide a slick across the desk and expect all this business. That's just ridiculous.

Dan Sullivan:
Servant wholesaling is an awesome expression. How long did it take you into your wholesaling career to really feel comfortable with that? Because usually, what's strange for wholesalers is you get trained and you get brought up to just... Well, you're there to sell product. Now, I may be wondering if you had any experiences, or even it was just a certain time where it clicked to you that you just said, "This is the way. Servant wholesaling is how it needs to be. And this is why..."

Steve Seid:
I'm really fortunate, because my background is not of the typical wholesaler. I came from a team called our investment specialist team, which is a product specialist team, but also handled the value ads. And, what was helpful for me was I watched and traveled with a lot of different wholesalers, and did a lot of different meetings, and saw a lot of different approaches. And, the people that I thought were doing it really well were the people that took that approach. And so I said, "Okay, I've got this background. That's what I'm going to take into wholesaling." So, I entered in with that philosophy and I've also been blessed that our firm has taken that philosophy. The people that I grew up with in our company are now leading the company. And those are the people that have also taken that approach.

So, it was a very organic thing with me. And a little bit of luck is what I would say as well. Just being able to see it and saying, "Okay, I see this person and they're doing nothing wrong with it, but they're doing the omelet cart, and the fact sheet, and this person who's spending half a day planning and helping someone with their business, that one seems like the right approach to me." It seemed that way to me.

Kurt Dupuis:
Yeah. And, the beauty of wholesaling is there's no one way to skin the cat.

Steve Seid:
Yeah.

Kurt Dupuis:
My conclusion is very similar to Seid's, but my path was different, because I had an international whole selling background, pre-Touchstone, and I had never had a U.S. client. So, I come to Touchstone 2017, it's very clear that practice management is in the ethos of the company. It's like, "I don't know any different and I want to be successful, so I'm just going to latch onto this." And so, my first full year, we do these practice analysis, we call it “PAR”. No one brought in more PARs than me in 2018. And so, I was serving like crazy.

But it took two or three years - to get to your fundamental question - to understand better that dynamic of how much can I give before I have to cut ties. How you just have to make sure that you're moving at a similar pace with the time and effort that you're providing.

Steve Seid:
Right.

Kurt Dupuis:
And the business opportunity. We're all business people at the end of the day. That took a good two, three years to sort out. And it's still a work in progress. You still don't have it right all the times. But, that's why I say, if you serve first, that's just a good default.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah. That almost ties into another thread, a sub thread of some of the comments that I got back from folks when I asked what they would want financial advisors to know. And a lot of it has to do with their own business. The more that a wholesaler understands the growth and ambitions of the advisor’s firm, then you can, as a wholesaler, truly serve them. Then you know when it's relevant to possibly give them product information if it makes sense. You also know how can you support their marketing goals? Or, did your past events work out for you? And if not, is there anything that I can offer that would get you more traction from your perspective clients? All of those types of things where you could really actually serve them.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. And I'll make one more comment on this. People can tell very, very quickly if you're authentic. Where the goal should be like, "Wow, I really helped somebody." And, to me, the business comes when you do that, it just does. Can I throw one more separate thing at you on this one that just occurred to me, my last one on this?

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah, absolutely.

Steve Seid:
I know you're going to like this one, Dan. You want to generate really good karma? You want to put something really positive in the universe? When an internal calls you, treat them with dignity and respect, give them a minute of your time. That's a hard job. Being an internal is a hard job. It's people just grinding and making their way in the business. And, to just be kind and give a little bit of your time, and hear someone out and even be a little bit of a mentor. You have no idea what that does to the people that are calling, so.

Kurt Dupuis:
Humanity, bro.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah. I wish if we had a sound bite to just do the ding, ding, ding, or just the casino winning for a comment, yeah. If an internal can go gather that information, absolutely let them be a part of that process, empower them, and glad you brought that up too. And if any advisor's listening that hate getting the phone calls, it's not the internal's fault. It's definitely not the internal's fault. They have a mandate, they're just doing their job.

Kurt Dupuis:
Come up with a process of some screening process. "Look, I don't have time today. I only talk to wholesalers when these criteria are met, A, B, and C." One of the best gifts you can give to a wholesaler, which is the same thing for financial professionals and their clients is getting to know more quickly. So, if the answer is no, cool, we don't need to waste our time here, just in the product space. But, there's not many, but there's fewer than five folks I've run across, they say, "Look, thanks for email. Don't need to reach out. If I were a Touchstone asset holder, we would have a conversation, but I screen on my own. Nothing you can say can influence me. I'm not interested." Cool, I know I don't need to call that person.

Or there's a guy who wants a year. He's like, "This is my process. This is how I screen. If it's interesting, I'll run some hypos, I do it in January every year." Great, I can fit into that process. And in fact, I really enjoy helping people develop that process, because then, Touchstone, we can get in there and keep other people out. But, it gives financial professionals time back, rather than answering every call from an internal or an external. Well, so let's pivot and offer advice, right? Get down to it. What questions should financial professionals be asking wholesalers?

Steve Seid:
One question you could ask to a wholesaler is what are your best relationships with financial professionals look like? And, I think, you can get a sense of a wholesaler's approach. And then, you could also get a sense if that's relevant for you. So, an example is, if I'm a wholesaler that takes approach that like, "Yeah, I sponsor a lot of events and I'm very socially involved with my clients." And then, you're somebody who really doesn't care about the social aspect, that's probably not an ideal relationship. You get my point, you know where I'm going with this. It's a way to evaluate... I'm back to the same thing before, all wholesalers are different, so find ones that could be most additive to you.

Kurt Dupuis:
In that same vein, I put it more simply, but ask wholesalers, "What's your value proposition?

Steve Seid:
Good one, Very good.

Kurt Dupuis:
Why should I be inclined to meet and continue to meet with you?" Here's one I like. And, I'm very transparent with folks about this, "How do you manage your own money?" Or, "What funds do you have money in?"

Steve Seid:
Yes.

Kurt Dupuis:
If I am a financial professional, it's like, "Okay, so you talked about all this stuff, where's your money? What do you own? What are you trying to accomplish with your assets?

Steve Seid:
And why?

Kurt Dupuis:
And why? Exactly.

Steve Seid:
Because I could also tell you the depth in which that they understand investing and why they think the way that they do.

Kurt Dupuis:
I know. That should be a top three question for any financial professional with a wholesaler. And, at Touchstone, we have a lot of different sub-advisors. Asking me what I own is going to just cut through a lot of the noise. And if I'm a financial professional, that's what I want to get down to. I want to get down to brass tacks by asking that question.

Steve Seid:
The stuff that's just done well, you can screen that on your own. You don't need me for that. Right? So, what I want to know is the stuff that I should be buying, that's probably not going to show up on my screen.

Kurt Dupuis:
I love those conversations. Yeah.

Steve Seid:
You know what I mean? That to me is much more, because if all you want to do is just screen on what's the best looking Touchstone fund. Great, do it. You can do that. You don't need me in your office to do that.

Kurt Dupuis:
Well, we've talked about developing a scorecard for financial professionals to score out wholesalers, like, "Okay. So, in 2018 you said this was an idea that you were really excited about-"

Steve Seid:
Follow the recommendations.

Kurt Dupuis:
... Document it and yeah. And then, see how it goes over time-

Steve Seid:
Follow the recommendations.

Kurt Dupuis:
... To see who you should actually be listening to.

Dan Sullivan:
That gets my creative engines running about some of the graphs or charts that we could possibly send out one year. Imagine having a regional wholesaler chart, just being of all the wholesalers that came in my office today, or this year, here's that ranking, and here's performance, and things like that. It would be very challenging to get. But, phenomenally interesting.

Steve Seid:
What about more questions from you, Dan? What other things would you have people ask?

Dan Sullivan:
So, a simple question like, what are the trends, tools, or, technology out there that you're seeing the most successful advisors use? Again, I don't think that's novel. I'm sure, they do. But, for any advisors that might just want to find a new source of information, a wholesaler is a really, really good person to ask that question to.

Steve Seid:
Who's better?

Kurt Dupuis:
Wholesalers are fantastic aggregators.

Steve Seid:
That's right.

Kurt Dupuis:
We see a lot. I mean, if we have 20 meetings a week, over time that turns into some real numbers. So, we get inside of what those best teams are doing.

Dan Sullivan:
If I'm thinking about building my practice, I want to know something that's tried and true and used by someone who's in similar shoes as I am, maybe has a similar practice, maybe similar goals.

Kurt Dupuis:
Why recreate through wheel? You know it exists somewhere already.

Steve Seid:
I'll throw one other question out there and it starts with a premise. If you start a conversation talking about your business and what you’re looking to achieve. So if I said, for example, just right up front, just, "I'm looking to onboard this new employee. I'm looking to grow 15% this year by these means. I'm trying to get better here. What can you potentially bring to the table to help me achieve that?" Man, does that cut through a lot of back and forth, because that's all we're listening for too. We're looking for like, "Is there something that we can do to help you?"

Kurt Dupuis:
I probably tend to ask more, maybe just open-ended question, but my take on that, Seid was, just ask, "What are your firm's best value add resources?" I mean, every asset management company is coming out with all these value add things to get in front of financial professionals to help financial professionals. So, ask, "What are people using? What works? What's new? What's exciting?"

Steve Seid:
The same way that there's noise around value ads, there's also, of course, noise about investments. It's asking the question, "What is your firm truly exceptional at?" Because, having a product lineup with a lot of marketable and sellable investments, that's table stakes, that's what 50 firms in the industry have. Anyone could put together something that looks good and has a good star rating, right? The question is, what-

Kurt Dupuis:
Watch out for chart crimes though. That was actually in my notes. Chart crimes are a real thing. Be very cognizant.

Steve Seid:
... A real thing.

Dan Sullivan:
Elaborate. I may have missed this one.

Steve Seid:
You can make good charts that don't tell the real story of what's... Yeah. Yeah. That's-

Dan Sullivan:
Just like my podcast being top 25%, right? It's just-

Steve Seid:
... There you go.

Dan Sullivan
... No, that doesn't have any consequences for people's dollars and for people's wallets. So, a little bit different, for sure.

Kurt Dupuis:
I think that's a good list, guys.

Steve Seid:
This has been a pretty robust conversation, boys. I like this.

Dan Sullivan:
Yeah. We could probably continue it if we needed to. If we ever extended this into a happy hour session. A lot of what makes the industry so fun is you get people... We care about these topics. It's obviously part of our day-to-day. So the conversations can go on forever. And, this was no exception. So, I certainly appreciate you having me. And, for the advisors that have been tuning in, we wouldn't exist without you. And, this industry is the best because of the work that we get to do with you. So, thank you for tuning in and hearing a couple of wholesalers just chat and shoot the breeze on some topics that we consider or think about most amongst our friends and our firms.

Kurt Dupuis:
How do you close out your shows, Dan?

Dan Sullivan:
I just tell people to come back. Come back as a guest and participate in any future conversations where we might need you.

Kurt Dupuis:
Okay. Well, we do what we call the Costanza corner, where we end the show on a high note.

Dan Sullivan:
All right.

Kurt Dupuis:
So, we all share something that's fun, uplifting, back to Seid’s comment, something to just try to put a little karma back in the universe. So, if you're listening to The Whole Truth, when we come back, we'll have a Costanza corner. Stick with us.

Steve Seid:
Thanks, Dan.

Kurt Dupuis:
And, welcome back to the Costanza corner where we like to end the show on a high note. Let's do that, Steve.

Steve Seid:
So how cool is this?

Kurt Dupuis:
I don't know yet.

Steve Seid:
Plastic, plastic bottle.

Kurt Dupuis:
Well, you don't know yet. I'm starting. I'm just throwing it out there first.

Steve Seid:
So, you know there's crazy horrible stats that you read, like, "Ocean plastic, if it all was put together would be this massive-"

Kurt Dupuis:
It's a whole island.

Steve Seid:
... It's just the worst things you could ever hear usually are about plastic. So, this especially brought me upbeat. And it starts like this, "A PAC-MAN protein that gobbles up plastic and breaks it down could open the door to eliminate billions of tons of landfill waste." So right now, currently to break down plastic, it's a very energy intensive, very chemically focused process. These scientists at the University of Texas at Austin, I'll give a shout out to Professor Hal Alper, basically created a natural enzyme that can eat plastic. So, you put it on and it naturally process just eats it. Isn't that crazy?

Kurt Dupuis:
You just sprinkle this like cinnamon out in the ocean, and suddenly these plastic islands are going to go away?

Steve Seid:
So really, the test has been about landfills, because I don't know if they've tested on-

Kurt Dupuis:
The half life of plastic is crazy long.

Steve Seid:
... Plastics can represent as much as 12% of total waste. They created these enzymes and they eat them.

Kurt Dupuis:
I love it.

Steve Seid:
Isn't that awesome?

Kurt Dupuis:
I mean, if this works, it sounds awesome.

Steve Seid:
This also reminded me, have you ever seen on Netflix, Fantastic Fungi? Did you ever see that?

Kurt Dupuis:
No.

Steve Seid:
It's a really popular... As I'm looking at right now, it has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, so check it out. But, this reminds me of that, because it was basically about how fungi are much more amazing than people realize. But, they put these certain types of mushrooms on toxic waste and mushrooms will eat the toxic waste.

Kurt Dupuis:
What?

Steve Seid:
To me, I don't know, same type of thing. It's super cool to me, so.

Kurt Dupuis:
Super fungi. Love it.

Steve Seid:
Fantastic Fungi. Exactly, a 100% on Rotten tomatoes. Give it a listen.

Kurt Dupuis:
That never happens.

Steve Seid:
Yeah. Thanks everyone for listening. We'll see you next time.

Kurt Dupuis:
See y'all.
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Please note that this content was created as of the specific date indicated and reflects views as of that date. It will be kept solely for historical purposes and opinions may change without notice in reacting to shifting economic, market, business, and other conditions. Touchstone funds are distributed by Touchstone Securities Incorporated, a registered broker dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC.