Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadForget what you’ve heard about targeting Gen Y. Sophia Bera has built a very profitable business around Gen Y and in this episode talks about how she did that.
Sophia is very open and generous with the inside look at her business and how she works with Gen Y. Lots of great “how-to” information for any financial services business.
In this episode learn:
1. Why Gen Y when industry vets tell us there’s no money there?
2. Sophia’s path to build her brand and actionable advice to get started on yours.
3. Why connecting remotely with people is a lot more intimate than face to face sales.
4. Technology used to build her business remotely and connect with Gen Y.
5. What fee-only financial planners look for when referring business to life insurance agents.
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Sophia: Thank you so much for having me, Jeff. I’m excited to be here.
Jeff: Great. Let’s start here by telling us a background in your business.
Sophia: I’m an actor turned financial planner which is not the typical career path I guess for financial planners. Everybody is like, “How did you get to that?” My undergrad in theater and women’s studies. I did 15 blank shows while I was in college and I decided that I was determined not to be a starving artist. I would sit in a personal finance section of Barnes and Noble and read every finance and business book I can get my hands on and realized I really wanted to buy a house when I graduated from college. I graduated when I was 21, this was back in 2005. You can do the math and figure out how old I am now. Three months later I bought a house and my friends started coming to me with their money questions.
They were saying things like, “Hey, I just got a job but I have no idea how to read my company benefits package,” or, “How did you buy a house,” or, “Can you help me with my student loans. I’m in credit card debt, what should I do?” These were all really great questions and there was really nobody for them to go to to answer those questions and so I learned about this thing called the CFP until I started taking my classes to become a certified financial planner and I wasn’t really sure about it because it was a lot of selling and I really wanted to help people with their money. I really wanted to work with your clients but in my second course I ended up needing my future boss. This guy was working at his father’s financial planning firm and they ended up bringing me in for an interview because they were hiring somebody for their back office and I got my foot on the door, I ended up planning the job which was great.
I ended up getting into the profession in 2007 and then taking my CFP exam in 2009 and becoming a CFP in 2010 and then I worked to a couple traditional financial planning firm before I working for a startup for a year, that was based in New York. Then, two years ago I launched Gen Y Planning and now I’m a virtual financial planner for millennials.
Jeff: A virtual financial planner for millennials, that is awesome. What age group are millennials? Just for context here for everybody listening.
Sophia: Millennials come at this point go until about age 35 but I work with a lot of young gen-Xers as well. People will say things like, “I’m 40, can I work with you or not?” Absolutely we can work together, however I would say that most of my clients are within ten years of my age. I’m 31, most of my clients are mid-20s to early 40s, all of them are actually. I don’t have any clients over I think like 42 and the reason why I really like to focus there is because so many financial planners have been focused on baby boomers and beyond and I really think there’s a bunch of people that are serving that market really well and I wanted to offer something different. When I do have baby boomer clients reach out to me I usually refer them to one of the former firms that I was working at, that might mentor still works at, because I know that he’ll take good care of them and he does great work and that’s something that I’m happy to do.
Jeff: You really stick to the millennial Gen Y age group here. You really don’t go outside. If somebody wants to work with you and they don’t fit that mold, you say no and you refer them out.
Sophia: I do because I’m really good at working with people when they’re going through a bunch of life changes. People in their 20s and 30s, early 40s, people are getting married, having kids, moving, switching jobs. All of those things are major planning opportunities and for me that’s really fun. When people get into their 50s and 60s they really want somebody to do a social security analysis and figure out what’s the difference if I retire at 62 versus 66, and I have chosen not to use financial planning software and those people need somebody to run these detailed projections and figure out what is the difference if you retire at those different ages or if you work part-time and whatnot. I really want to make sure that those clients are getting the best service that they can and having somebody that really meets those needs and that allows me to really focus on what I’m good at.
Jeff: I love that because in the early days in the business, and I’m sure you heard this. I know I’ve heard it. I’m sure a lot of people listening have heard this too. Freshly licensed and getting trained were told by industry veterans that the younger generation, generation Y, millennials can’t be profitable and we shouldn’t target them and here you are.
Jeff: Yeah, and here you are crushing it in that market. How did you make gen Y profitable for your business?
Sophia: Great question. Yeah, and just to touch on what you just mentioned when I would go to financial planning conferences I would say, “I really want to work with young clients.” All the advisors would say, “Why? They don’t have any money.” Right? It was this idea that if you were to target clients in their 20s and 30s they have the time to build up their assets yet so you couldn’t charge them an AUM fee because you weren’t going to make enough money off of them, or because they didn’t have any assets, or maybe they have a negative network or whatnot. For me I didn’t see that as our client’s problem. I saw that as an us problem, like as financial planners, as financial advisors. What I do is I charge, I’m really big on the planning. Some people are really big in the investment. I always say like 80% of what I do has nothing to do with investing.
I have become a CFP and I’m really passionate about the planning and I think there’s a lot of planning that goes into things and that really has nothing to do with the asset level that you have or very little. A lot of times if we’re talking about assets, what are we talking about? The 401(k) plan, right, or the Roth IRA that they just started. I decided to charge an upfront planning fee so I charge an initial planning fee of $1,500 to $2,000 upfront. and then I charge a monthly subscription of 100 to 200 bucks a month but right now most of my new clients are paying 149 a month to 199 a month.
Jeff: For that monthly fee, did they just kind of get access to you as their life and changes continue?
Sophia: Yeah, that’s a great question. I do an upfront financial plan so we have two meetings upfront because I really want to dig into the financial planning. Then going forward, we do a meeting every six months and these are I should say virtual meetings, so Skype meetings or Google Hangouts. They may have unlimited e-mail support with me so we continue to address throughout the year. Because what I saw with so many of my traditional firms, clients would only come in once a year and they would really reach out to their planner because they didn’t want to bother them and that all of a sudden there was a ton of things, you know, there’s a ton of fires to put out. Right?
Sophia: I really encourage my clients to reach out to me throughout the year and a lot of the planning we’re doing is putting them into contact with the right life insurance agent, the right estate planning attorney, the right CPA. One of the things they love is they get access to my network. They don’t have to stay up late yelping like a estate planning attorney is California. I can just connect them with your sister apparently. Now you’ve learned that there’s a estate planning attorney in California which kicks ass.
Jeff: Yes. For those listening right now, my sister is a estate planning attorney. Does it over the internet just like Sophia. All right. That’s my sister.
Sophia: Yeah. Those things I think are really valuable to my clients because a lot of my clients are busy young professionals. There’s a lot going on. They have really intense jobs or they’re busy with their families or they’re travelling. There’s a lot going on and so I want to be on their team. The reason that I feel like I’ve been able to build a profitable business off of this and not have a huge focus on AUM or Assets Under Management is because I charge a monthly subscription. For example, I have quite a few clients that have six figures in income and might have six figures on student loan debt from law school or med school or MBA.
I wanted to be able to help those clients too because there’s a bunch of planning that goes into which student loan repayment program should you choose, which student loan should you pay off first, what should we do in terms of putting money into your retirement account while you’re also putting money into paying off your student loans, how do we stay for other goals like a down payment on a home or saving up to start your own business someday. I just think that I really encourage people to think about how would you want to pay for this type of service. What I realized was that we pay for our lives monthly why wouldn’t we want to pay for our financial planner monthly, that was the business model I can explain to my clients.
Explaining to them that I am going to quarterly deduct fees from your account based on how much money you have is actually more difficult for me. Right?
Jeff: Yeah. Seriously the way you position that, it is.
Sophia: Yeah. What do we pay for quarterly? People like, “I have this one random thing I pay for quarterly.” I’m like, “Yes, it’s a random thing and it’s a pain in the butt because you’re like, ‘Crap, that payment is coming due.'” Right?
Sophia: For me it’s been a really good fit for me, a really good fit for my clients.
Jeff: Awesome. Another thing too is because you’re working with people in their 20s and 30s, you basically have the potential to keep clients for 30-plus years. Your long term value of a client has got to be huge if they stay with you.
Sophia: Yeah. That’s another question that I get a lot is how much turnover is there, and I would definitely say, “As millennials and young people, you’re going to have a little bit more turnover than you would with a traditional financial planning practice,” but the majority of my clients, 85%, 90% have stuck with me since they’ve started working with me and the ones that I’m left have left after … I haven’t had anybody leave before a year. The couple that have left were a more do-it-yourselfers anyway. They were like, “This is awesome. I got a financial plan. We work through the different things in my financial plan and now I wanted to take it from here.”
There’s inevitably some people that are going to be like that but for the majority of clients, they’ve really enjoyed having me on their team and being able to reach out to me as their situation changes because often times in a year they’ll come to me when they’re engaged, a few months later they’ve gotten married, a few months later one of them switches jobs, a few months later they find out they’re pregnant. All of these things are happening in a very short amount of time.
Jeff: Yeah. I can attest to that too, working with a lot of people in their 20s and 30s a lot of agents just selling life insurance over the phone. They stay away from that and I just think that’s the wrong move because these people are going to keep buying from me because of all of this life changes they’re going through. They’re going through more life changes than any period in their life.
Jeff: As life insurance agent, they’ll continue to revamp their life insurance program, add coverage for all these life events. Yeah, I get it. I guess this leaves us to the next question here, how are you getting in front of the millennials and gen Y? What marketing strategies are you using?
Sophia: I really took a look out what my blogger friends reviewing so I’m friends with a lot of financial bloggers and they will have this incredible list of people that really love learning about their money and so I took a financial education approach. When I started Gen Y Planning I decided I’m going to blog every week and I’m going to do a newsletter twice a month. Now basically I blog twice a month and I do a newsletter twice a month. Every Wednesday something goes out either a blog post or a newsletter and I think the newsletter is huge. I guess the first part is creating valuable content for free is great because that’s how people really learn to trust you and they start seeing you as an expert in that space and then getting them on your newsletter list.
If they enjoy the content that you’re putting out what was really great was that I was fortunate to have because I have this niche of millennials and money, I was fortunately enough to have press be interested in what I’m doing. Right, because I’m not just talking about baby boomers and financial planning and social security and those types of things, I was talking about everything you need to know about your student loan and how to maximize your company benefits. My most popular article on my website is should I contribute to a 401(k) or a Roth IRA and what I realized is people were typing that into a direct Google search and it was pulling up my website.
Sophia: I think first of all it’s like think about what is your target demographic, typing into Google and how you can create content off of that. Then you’re really missing down having a target demographic that you’re working with. I think that that can be really powerful and valuable. In addition to that getting press and for me, I’ve been fortunate. When I started I was answering a bunch of Hair Labs to Help a Reporter Out but for the financial planners that are out there that are also life insurance agents, I really recommend that you join the Financial Planning Association because they send out media requests and they’ll send those directly to your e-mail and all you have to do is click respond now then you can respond directly to that media request. I’ve gotten a ton of press that way.
Jeff: What’s the website for that?
Sophia: It’s financial planning association and I know that there’s local chapters and there’s a national chapter as well. OneFPA.org is the main professional association. One is actually spelled out, O-N-E-F-P-A.org. I really recommend that people get with different associations that are involved and that’s a great way to narrow down the amount of things that you have to respond to but if you’re not a part of that organization I would say, just getting on to, I think the website is Help a Reporter.
Jeff: Yeah. H-A-R-O.com, I think it is. I link the both of this in the show notes.
Sophia: Yeah. I mean, that was huge for me and what happened was I kept trying to form these good relationships with these freelance writers and these reporters because then what would happen was now they just e-mail me directly. Like today, I have two calls with reporters this afternoon because they sent me e-mails last week and I got them on my calendar for this week.
Sophia: Once you prove that you can be a go-to source, that’s huge. I also had, when I was working up the startup I became friends with the people on the editorial team. Well, guess what? A lot of those people are working at very well-known financial news organizations now. One of them is working at Forbes so I was quoted in Forbes a dozen times last year. One of them is working at Business Insider, so guess what, now my blog is indicated by Business Insider. Others have gone to become freelance writers and I’ve done things for bankri.com, Refinery29. Investment news will tweet to me and say … so I have had reporters on Investment News send me a direct message on Twitter saying, “Hey, Sophia. We’re doing this article about students loans or young professionals or whatnot, do you have time between three and five today to get on the phone and chat?”
I really think Twitter is super valuable because that’s where the press is. Then, what you can do is you can take those articles that you’re published in and you then that’s great content for your newsletter. Right?
Sophia: Sometimes people are like, “Where do I put my newsletter?” Here’s what I do, I think it’s helpful to have a formula so that you’re not having to think like, “Ooh, what do I say in this week’s newsletter?” Instead, this is what I do. I do an opening paragraph that’s a little bit about me, what’s going on in my world; a lot of times I go to conference, maybe some tips from recent conferences that I’ve gone to. Then I link to my most recent blog post and I have a sentence about that and then I have an around-the-web section and it’s links to different things that I’ve been quoted in recently, or podcast that I’ve been on, or a TV segment that I’ve got on or whatnot, like a new segment.
At the end I have a little fun stuff section and it might be a productivity tool that I think would help a lot of busy, young professionals, or something fun about millennials and money, or an infographic that I saw that I thought people would like.
Jeff: You can do that because you’ve narrowed down the people you work with. You know what they want. You can do that at the end of all encompassing newsletter anything.
Jeff: That makes a lot of sense. You do a lot of media stuff and you explain how you got some of it but is that how most of your clients are finding like in the media and then they come to your website? Can you give us maybe an example or two of how some of your clients found you?
Sophia: A lot of them have found me from reading different articles that I’ve written or that I’ve been quoted in. There’s an article on Top Financial Advisors from millennials and I was listed as one of them so some people will specifically cite that that they found me on money moneyunder30.com from this article. There’s also an article called ten questions to ask when choosing a financial advisor that Laura Shin interviewed me for for Forbes, so some people have cited that as well. Those would be like two articles that I’ve been fortunate enough to get a lot of perspective clients out of and a few of them have become clients. The other things is Google Search.
I’m the top Google search for financial planner for Gen Y and financial planner for millennials. That’s kind of unique because I work virtually but if you type in financial planner it localizes your search. If you’re an insurance agent, for example, that is working locally, wants to have a local presence but wants to be able to work virtually like a hybrid. I know a lot of financial planners that do that. I would really recommend that you work on your Google search so that when people type in the term life insurance agent often that you come up.
Sophia: It’s making sure that your name, your phone number, your business address are consistent across all of these different things. It’s making sure you have that information on your website. On LinkedIn make sure your phone number and your website are on your main page of LinkedIn and that people don’t have to link in with you to see your phone number.
Jeff: That’s a great tip because I’ve recently been reading about how people use their LinkedIn profiles. A lot of people think there’s no value in there but you can pretty much treat it as a sales page.
Jeff: With what you said, your phone number, everything about you and that’s kind of change the way I thought about LinkedIn.
Sophia: If somebody meets you at a networking events. Let’s say, they’re out one night and you go to this thing and you’re like, “Oh, yeah. That Jeff guy.” They just like type in your name into Google. One of the first things that pops up for most people is their LinkedIn profile. If they’re trying to say like, “Hey, I want to connect you with a client of mine,” and they’re trying to find your number really fast and your LinkedIn profile pops up and they can’t find it because they have to link in with you first before you can see your phone number and whatnot, that’s kind of a pain.
Jeff: Yeah. Absolutely. I think that’s a great tip right there and I don’t even have my phone number on my LinkedIn page. I’m going to do that right now.
Sophia: I got that tip from a marketing person a few years ago and I just thought, “Oh, why don’t I think of that?” That’s so basic and it’s so simple and yet at the same time, like how many people could make that really small tweak and it really increased the number of people that will reach out to them.
Jeff: Awesome. Mostly your leads, your inquiries are from a lot of the stuff you do in the media which comes from putting out free content, your newsletter, and then from there it gets, you know, media press and then basically I think you said you’re going to conferences, you’re on Twitter, you do a lot of this responding to Financial Planning Association and Help a Reporter Out and it kind of snowballs from there.
Sophia: Yeah. I’ve been really fortunate that I’ve been able to just, you know, I don’t pay anybody to do my SCO, I just have tried to write a lot around the topics that I’m really passionate about. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a bunch of press in that process and to just try to be really helpful and friendly towards the press so that they keep coming back. Right?
Sophia: I think that it’s absolutely something that other people can do and can build in to their practice and I think that there’s a lot of ways to … Going to conference has been a big thing for me and so I try to go to some industry conferences and a lot of conference outside of my industry. It’s amazing how many of those have led to future client and so I really think that there’s something valuable about meeting people in person but then being able to build that relationship online because people are busy.
They love that they can have a meeting with me at 7pm on a Tuesday night or 10am on a Saturday morning and that’s something that they don’t get from their local financial planner that has an office in downtown after they take a half day off work, drive a half an hour to their financial planner’s office, sit down with them for an hour or two and usually get a thing of a hundred pages of charts and graphs that may or may not mean anything to them and then get in their car and go and have to take another half day off of work to make all these decisions about their life insurance for their financial planning stuff and be really overwhelmed by that. If you could just make that process easier for people and not include a hundred pages of charts and graphs, and not have to make them drive anywhere and just meet them where they are virtually. I think it’s such a better experience for the client.
Jeff: Absolutely, let’s talk about that, the client experience because financial planning was out meeting face to face is something still pretty new. Same thing with selling life insurance over the phone, it’s still very new. Knowing that you work remotely, is there anything you do that your client respond well to?
Sophia: Virtual high fives. No, I’m just kidding. Well, I always think it’s funny because one of the push backs I get from financial planners is they don’t work as much in the virtual space is, well, I just think that there’s something important about shaking the client’s hand and them coming down to my office and whatnot. What I think is that it’s actually a more intimate experience for me and the client because I’m meeting then in their homes. I cannot tell you how many people’s babies and puppies I have met. I am meeting them where they’re comfortable. They’re letting me see into their lives where it’s their home and to me that’s really special. They’re telling me intimate details about their financial situation.
People are more comfortable talking about sex than they are about their money and so you’re asking people to do this really revealing thing and get financially naked for you. Once they do that, they’re not going anywhere fast. That, I think, is like the relationship is usually pretty sticky because they’re really opening up to you about intimate details of their financial life and I think that meeting them in their home virtually can be a really cool experience. I also think that, to me, it removes the power play as well so I think a lot of financial planners like having the mahogany desk and driving the fast car and having the fancy downtown office.
What I found is that my clients really like that they just get to know who I am more and that I am really there for them and it’s not about my image. They also realize like when I was interviewed on the Tropical MBA Podcast, one of the things Ian said is, “I like that I’m not paying for your mahogany desk.”
Jeff: That’s funny. I remember that.
Sophia: That was so funny but it’s so true. A lot of my clients are world travelers and so am I. We talk about travel a lot. We can relate to each other there. A lot of my clients are first generation immigrants. My dad’s first generation. People are really hard workers, self-made. Some of them are young entrepreneurs, some of them are young lawyers, doctors, young professionals and I love that I can just be myself and nobody cares what kind of car I’m driving. It’s those types of things that used to be big status symbols for financial planners. It just don’t matter to my clients which is awesome.
They actually like that I’m not charging them $10,000 for a financial plan because I’m not saying, “Well, I have to make my overhead and my fancy downtown office. To me, I think the client experience is a lot different by working virtually and I think that it can be an even closer experience. Because my clients know I travel a lot, what’s really fun is sometimes I end up meeting them when I’m in other cities, when I’m out of conference and I’ll reach out to them and say, “Hey. I’m actually going to be in New York this weekend. Let me know if you want to connect.” It’s so funny because people are like, “Then you have a client meeting?” I’m like, “No.” Then I take them out for brunch or bench full of pasta. No, this is fun stuff. This is us hanging out and meeting each other. This is not like let’s talk about your 401K. We can do that over Skype whenever we want.
Jeff: The way you said that makes so much sense. It is so true. There is something powerful behind speaking and communicating with somebody on their own time, where they’re most comfortable. You do get to see a lot of these raw things that not many people get to see as well so I get that. You work virtually, like all of us, what are your favorite business tools? You mentioned Skype, is that how you handle most of your meetings?
Sophia: Yeah, Skype or Google Hangouts. A lot of my clients have Gmail e-mail addresses so I just love sending a calendar invite and just saying click, join meeting at the time of the call. I really like Boomerang for Gmail. That’s been really helpful in terms of following up with perspective clients. Do you know that tool?
Jeff: Yeah. Basically you’re up at midnight and you send a reply, you can schedule it for the next day so they don’t think that you’re up late at night. I know there’s that and then you can Boomerang them back into your Inbox, right?
Sophia: The other reason I like it that I probably use it more often for is because let’s say that I had a great perspective client call and I might say, “Hey. Is it okay if I follow up with you on Friday and then if I haven’t heard from you.” They’ll say, “Yeah, Friday is great. We just need a couple of days. I want to talk it over with my significant other, let me think about it for a few days. Friday sounds great.” Then I can schedule that e-mail to come back and I can even check a box that says, if no one responds, boomerang on Friday or boomerang on Friday no matter what, like regardless. That’s been really helpful for just having those nice touch points with people because sometimes I realize I just may get bad about following up with perspective clients.
Just having a boomerang back is a great way for me to like, “Yeah, I talked to them last week. I want to follow up with them.” They were really cool and they’d be great clients. I know that here is where they were at with things or something will say, “I’m starting my new job in a couple of weeks and I really want to get my first paycheck before I start working with you so I know what my new net pay is or whatnot and I can boomerang it to come back in a month and say, “Hey, how’s the new job going? I just wanted to touch base because I know we talked last month and you said you were starting your new position. I hope everything is going great. Let me know if you’re ready to move forward with financial planning.”
Jeff: Awesome. Instead of setting a calendar date to make a phone call, if you’re communicating via e-mail, it’s the easiest way to do that.
Sophia: Right. Then, I also use a CRM called Less Annoying CRM. You can do reports and stuff. The reason I love it is because it’s ten dollars per user per month. If you’re running a solo shop and just need a great way to keep track of your client notes. Let’s say you have a phone call with a client, you just want to type up a bunch of notes, put them in your CRM, you can link their e-mails to it. You can link documents to that file. You can have all their contact information there. Their name, address, phone number, all of that stuff. That’s a great tool as well for people who are looking for what’s an affordable CRM system that I can start using right away.
Jeff: Cool. That’s great. I’m going to link to that in the show notes as well. Any other tools? Google Hangouts, Skype, Boomerang, your CRM, any other tools that you use?
Sophia: Man, I use quite a few of them and I don’t even realize. Here’s a good one. I had been going through Jaime Tardy’s Millionaire Hustler course and she has a great podcast called the Eventual Millionaire.
Jeff: I love that podcast.
Sophia: Really? For those of you who are into podcast and looking for another good one, Jaime interviews millionaires and Eventual Millionaire is awesome. She has this new course called Millionaire Hustler because she’s a business coach and she does a bunch of great work with a lot of millionaire and so this was a great way for her to create a course to help people who were really getting started building their businesses or want to take their businesses to the next level. One of the things her first week of the course is all about productivity and being a productivity ninja. One of the tips, it’s so small, it’s helped me so much is get the Pomodoro app for your cellphone.
The Pomodoro technique for those of your who don’t know, is where you work in short 25-minute chunks and then you take a five minute break or a few minute break and then you go back to working for 25 minutes and then you take a short break and you do this throughout the day. I realize that I’m much more productive when I use that app because I have a tough time starting things but once I start them, I usually knock them out a lot faster than I think that I’m going to. This was a great way for me to start working on a financial plan. It’s going to take me five hours to do this financial plan. Instead I can just say I’m just going to start on the network statement. Then, boom, the network statement is getting knocked out.
Then, I’m just going to start on writing the financial plan. I got through a third of that. That didn’t take as long as I thought it would. That’s a great tool and something that’s really improved my productivity and I can also look at it and see how many … When you complete the 25-minute segment, a Pomodoro is a tomato so a little tomato is filled in and it’s so stupid but I can just quickly glance and see how much work like how productive have I been today? It’s an easy visual way to see that as well.
Jeff: Now, that’s great that you brought that up. I know a bunch of entrepreneurs who use that method to get things done. They even have groups where they get together in groups and work together. Everybody takes five minute breaks and all that.
Jeff: Let’s see here. I want to touch on something. You’ve kind of said before when you refer life insurance business out because you’re the only planner, you don’t write them life insurance for yourself. What do you see only planners look for in a life insurance agent to refer business to?
Sophia: I love it when people keep me looped in on the process. “Just copy me on e-mails as we’re going through so I know where we’re at and the application process,” or “Do we get the quotes yet?” That’s something that’s really helpful is I’m really looking for people that are good at follow through and that can own that process but then, keep me looped into the process. Then, somebody that’s really educational based. There are so many people out there that use … I just have a perspective client call recently with this couple and they’re interested in moving forward as clients and they’re awesome and they spoke to somebody.
They spoke to a life insurance agents at one of the bigger agencies that has the word mutual in it and there were a lot of fear tactics that were used to try to influence them buying life insurance. That was just not an effective strategy for winning this clients’ business. I’m really looking for people who do not use fear tactics to see to my clients and are instead really interested in educating my clients on, “Hey, Sophia, had us run quotes for 20-year and 30-year term life insurance policies, $500,000 policies for each of those and we’re just going to talk through the quotes and take a look at these and can give a recommendation based on the quotes that I had run.”
Jeff: Okay, great. Do you expect that if you refer somebody, let’s say, a 20-year term for $500,000 to life insurance agent. They actually sell them a 20-year term for $500,000 so don’t try to up sell them, right? Do you expect that as well?
Sophia: Yeah, you try to sell my millennial clients full life insurance and I’m going to punch you in the face and make sure that everybody on the internet knows to never go to you again so don’t do that. Don’t be shady. I think that’s pretty common sense but there are some sketchy people out there. I know it’s not your listeners. Here is the thing, most life insurance agents suck at doing any marketing. You don’t have to be the best in this base, you just have to be better than more people that are selling life insurance. It’s like financial planners. Most financial planners don’t have blogs. It’s not that my Gen Y Planning blog is the best financial blog out there, it’s that I have a freaking blog, and that I blog every week, and that I have a newsletter, and that I do it.
I really encourage people that are interested in building their online brand to just be consistent and just be helpful and educational and friendly. You will get so much business because people want to work with people who they trust and they want to work with people that they trust and they want to work with people that have an expertise in that area. I just would say, I think a lot of people sometimes let fear hold them back from, “Do I really know enough about this specific thing?” For the most part it’s like, you do. You know a lot more than the average person out there. It’s just finding great ways to explain these complicated life insurance products or these complicated financial planning words and breaking them down in a way that makes it simple. I think if you can do that you’re going to have a ton of business.
Just to be really honest, trustworthy person, you’re going to get so many clients from people, when you tell people things like, “I could sell you this but I’m not going to because you don’t need that right now. Now, once you have a couple of kids we’re going to need more life insurance. You’re going to need that but right now you don’t need a policy that big.
Jeff: You just need to be better than mediocre. Just like you said there’s really not much to it. I want to circle back to what you said earlier is that agents, financial planners, they just need to do the work. Everybody is so scared. They want to talk about this strategy. Well, I don’t know what to write about, I don’t what do this, just start writing. Just start doing something. These things happen as you go along. You basically learn as you go. Is that how you learned?
Sophia: Yeah, I think that as an entrepreneur, there are so many things like if people would have warned me like, “Oh, you’re going to have to figure out this thing.” I would have been terrified. It’s good that you don’t know everything that you don’t know until you get into it, right? Because otherwise you wouldn’t do it. It’s really just, I think that there are so much amazing opportunity to be able to educate people about life insurance, to be able to educate people about their money, to help people make these complicated financial decisions. The internet is making that way easier for you to connect with people that would have never walked into your office before. I think that we’re reaching a whole new group of people that never knew that they needed this.
Think of all the uninsured people that are out there and now the internet is allowing them to find you. I just think that it’s such an amazing opportunity that we have ahead of us. I know it’s a really exciting time to be part of the financial services profession because I think we’re really shaking it up by doing things online and doing things like podcast and just think of all of the cool things that are coming on to the market that are going to be coming on to the market in the next five years that we’re going to change things again. To me, I just think just taking the small steps and doing them consistently and knowing that there are so much that you can do that it’s easy to be paralyzed by that so I would just say start. Start with something. Start with getting a website together. Start with updating your LinkedIn profile. Start with your first blog post.
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s end it off there. If someone wanted to refer, say, a gen Y client over to you, where should they send them?
Sophia: Yeah. I would love that. Please send them my way. A couple of things, if you want to connect with me via e-mail, if they would rather have an e-mail introduction, you are more than welcome to do that then I’ll know where they came from. My e-mail is [email protected] That’s Sophia with a P-H and Gen Y as in Generation Y, not as in Jenny spelled bad, so [email protected] Also, one of the things that I do is I allow people to schedule a 30-minute free strategy session directly on my website. All you have to do is send them to genyplanning.comschedule and they can click on perspective clients. I asked them a few questions upfront. They can choose a time on my calendar that works for them and we can go ahead and get them on the calendar. That’s my last tip that I would recommend.
If anyone is interested in scheduling an easier way to schedule client meetings or perspective client meetings, I think it’s so important that you have the ability for people to schedule a perspective call with you directly from your website. I used ScheduleOnce for that. I think it’s just scheduleonce.com. It’s like 20 bucks a month. This tool has saved me five hours a month or five hours a week of going back and forth with people saying, “Hey, does this time work for you? What about these two times? Okay, that one doesn’t work. Somebody already took that time.” That’s my other tip is get ScheduleOnce or get some sort of scheduling software. I like ScheduleOnce because there’s a pop-up if you’re scheduling across time zones that makes them choose their time zone right away.
Jeff: Awesome. You’re just oozing with value for everybody today.
Sophia: Well, thank you. Also, to touch on when people refer people to you if life insurance is part of the plan, of course you’ll refer that product back to them, right?
Sophia: I’m not going to refer that out to anybody else. If they’re like, “Hey, I want to connect you with Sophia for this.” I would love to continue working with them for life insurance because it sounds like they’re already doing a great job. I want to keep building their team. It’s just like people come to me and they already have a life insurance agent they’re working with that they’re really happy with. Let’s just go back and get quotes for more life insurance now that they had a baby rather than go to somebody else if they really like the person they’re working with.
Jeff: Cool. Well, Sophia, I love what you’re doing with your business. You’re innovating, you’re doing a lot of cool stuff and thank you so much for sharing your insights and being with us on the episode today.
Sophia: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a blast. Have a great week.
People in the episode:
Jeff Root: [email protected]
Sophia Berra: [email protected] (@sophiabera on Twitter)
Mentioned on this episode:
Financial Planning Association
Tropical MBA Podcast
Eventual Millionaire Podcast
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