James Conole of Root Financial has built a successful practice by establishing a prominent online presence. His YouTube videos have amassed over 260,000 views with over 32.5K subscribers, helping to result in over $220M in AUM. In the episode, James will talk to us about how he built his YouTube channel, how it has sky-rocketed his growth, and how you can do the same!
James Conole of Root Financial has built a successful practice by building a prominent online presence. His YouTube videos have amassed over 260,000 views with over 32.5K subscribers. In the episode, James will talk to us about how he built his YouTube channel, how it has contributed to his growth, and how you can do the same!
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Real-life strategies for the modern financial advisor who’s ready to scale. Join Altruist founder and CEO Jason Wenk, Altruist’s Head of Community Dasarte Yarnway, and guests as they share proven tactics, unfiltered advice, and hard-won lessons you can apply to your own practice. These conversations will propel your career to the next level—don’t miss it.
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Jason: Leaving a broker dealer or wire house to start your own RIA can feel intimidating. Moving clients, assembling the right technology, and evaluating costs take time and effort. We created a free kit to help you break away with confidence though. Go to the landing page and download the free RIA launch kit at www. Altruist.com/independence. For information on how Altruist can help you visit Altruist.com/podcasts. Altruist Financial LLC, member FINRA SIPC. Hey everybody, thanks for tuning in to another Advisor Journey. I am Jason Wink and today we have James Conole from Root Financial. This is going to be an awesome episode. James is one of the most prolific YouTube financial advisors I know, and he is not just building a huge subscriber base and videos with awesome stills of home alone faces and fun graphics, but actually converting the 30,000 plus subscribers videos that have half a million plus views into a super-fast growing firm. You will hear about how he launched his own firm after first starting elsewhere at another company, how he stumbled into podcasting before then eventually launching a YouTube channel, how YouTube channels evolved and how all this is now culminating into $100 million a year worth of asset growth business in 2023. That is the plan. So, it is going to be a ton of fun. So, I cannot wait to launch into the episode. Enjoy. Welcome to the Advisor Journey. A podcast by Altruist dedicated to giving advisors the edge they need with proven RIA growth strategies. Each week, Desarte Yarnway and I will have hard-hitting conversations about the topics that matter most to the modern RIA, how to scale, how to maximize efficiency, and how to effectively reach your goals. It is real advice from people who have really done it and we are so glad you are here. All right. Well, James, so nice to have you on, Advisor Journey. I am Jason Wink with my friend Desarte Yarnway, and this is going to be pretty cool that we have never had a famous Youtuber on the channel before. Yeah, I have teenagers and a little one. So, with my teenagers, my daughter, I think the number one job in her high school yearbook class, she graduated in 2020 or 2021. But what is the most popular job everyone is having? It was they all want to be social media influencers. Yes. So, we have a real live one here in studio and all jokes aside, I mean, you have absolutely crushed it, building a YouTube following and more to you have done other things to kind of grow your business. The brand is incredible. Just kind of talking about that, shout out to John Sienna, phenomenal brand extraordinaire. But before we get into the YouTube channel, all the success you are having acquiring clients growing subscriber base, getting a lot of community from content, would love to rewind, give us a little bit of background, maybe just tell us a little bit about who you are, where you come from and kind of how you got in the business.
James: Yes. Happy to, thanks for having me. Good to talk to you both. I am James, founder of Root Financial. So, Root Financial has been around 5.5 years, started in the business 11 years ago, right out of business school. One of those things where loved finance, loved math, loved just problem solving as a lot of financial advisors do. And in college kind of wondered what that looks like going forward, you know, loving math, loving these critical thinking type things. And so, I wanted broadly to work in finance but not know what avenue of finance and did a bunch of internships and it could be corporate finance it could be insurance, it could be banking, it could be a whole number of different things and just by chance interned with an independent financial adviser and said, oh, this is awesome. You know, I get to use finance but not just to crunch numbers but to help people do what is most important to them. So fell in love with it in college, and immediately joined that same firm after college. Thought I would be with that firm probably forever. Things just did not quite work out that way about six years into the business. So that is when I started Root at the very end of 2017. And today there are six employees. Three of us are advisors and associate advisor and a couple in operations. We have 240 or so households with about 210 million or so in assets.
Jason: Incredible growth by the way. So, from a firm started in 2017 to today, I think two hundred plus households and a couple one hundred million of assets is outstanding. So, this show is called the Advisor Journey. So, it is about the path you took to get here. Everyone's path is different, unique. The common theme is that the folks we have on, they have built really impressive firms and most of them have something that we call their secret sauce, right? They are one thing, their big primary method. I would love to hear a little bit about if you had to chalk it up to anything in particular, what was it that made for such a super high growth firm? Because it is high growth in a lot of levels? Your team is impressive. You have a large number of customers you are serving; those customers have a lot of assets. So, a lot of things must be going, right? But I am curious how you define your secret sauce if you have one?
James: Yes, it is just not being afraid to try new things when we first started. I remember after leaving my first firm, the three months or so in between leaving and starting Root, it was okay. How do I grow? And I just saw all these, I joined XY Planning Network, and everyone was talking about blogging, and you write and this track and client. Okay, well, if everyone is doing that is maybe what I should be doing. So just started blogging like crazy but with no real vision or intention behind who am I trying to talk to or when I try to make this out of and what I found is I sometimes like writing but only feel that when creative inspiration is there. And a lot of times I just do not like writing. So, I was trying to force something that was not really working, and I was reading one of Tim Ferris’s books and I forget if it was “Tools of Titans” or “Tribal Mentors,” one of those big giant books that you use as a door stop. And at the beginning of the book, he asked the question of what would this look like if this was easy? I said, okay well, what would this look like if this was easy? Well, for me, it is probably not writing because I do not necessarily love just writing blog posts. But at my previous firm, it was, we were a part of the Dave Ramsey Smart Investor Network, and it was just easy. There is all these leads coming in and for better or worse, there's pros and cons to that, but it's just a massive volume clients to work with. So, I said, okay well, that is going to be a good place to start. That is at least something I know. It is something that yes, it is volume, it takes a lot of time, but it is a great way to get some traction going for the business. So I did that and I did that for two or three years and it just kind of struck me of jeez, if Dave Ramsey wanted to become a financial advisor, he could have maybe the largest financial advisor business in the country in a matter of a couple of years just because of this massive presence and following in the system that he's created that would be replicable over and over and over again. So, it was okay well, maybe, instead of being part of the Dave Ramsey network, could I not become Dave Ramsey but kind of take some of the things that he had done and replicate those on my own. And so was doing that, was also hanging out with Pat Flynn, a podcaster, online marketing guy. He has a podcast called Smart Passive Income and he is out of San Diego. I am out of San Diego. He had this mastermind group or not a mastermind, but just like a monthly get together with online entrepreneurs. And it was good for me to be in that because a lot of advisors, I think if you do not see other advisors doing it, you do not really know what you are supposed to be doing for marketing. So, you just default to what you are told to do, writing blog posts. And these are people that were using YouTube, podcasting, Instagram, and Facebook. So, it is just a good group of people to expand my vision of what is possible to grow a business. And so, at that time, I said, okay well, maybe I will start this whole podcast thing. And so, I started down the road of starting a podcast. This was two years into business. And about that same time, I was meeting with another advisor, Scott Frank. We live in the same city, and work in the same city. And we are just getting together for Tacos one day. I said, yes, I am trying this podcast and he said, oh, well, I wanted to start a podcast too. We said right on, let us just start it together. You know, it kind of makes it a little bit simpler. And instead of trying to figure out who are my guests going to be, what is the format going to be? How do I do this? It has let us just get together, find a topic, riff on it for a little bit and see how it goes. So, we did that, and it was great, and we did that for a year straight and we started having a lot of success in terms of listeners and feedback we are getting from listeners. And so, I said, okay, there is something really cool here, but about a year ago when COVID hit and I said, jeez, I really wish I had another thing where I could talk directly to who I specifically want to work with. And so, after doing that for a year with Scott and kind of learning how to do the editing and the podcasting and the flow of it. I could really quickly start another podcast. So, I started a second one called Ready For Retirement. It is more focused specifically on people approaching you in retirement and launched that one and did that for a number of months and then one of my closest friends, he was a creative director at GoPro. And he said, why don’t you take this and put it on YouTube? YouTube is where people are finding content, and this is where there is maybe a huge opportunity for you. And so, he said, just film yourself doing the podcast and put it on YouTube. So, this was two years ago, maybe early 2021. I said, okay, let us give this a shot. So, I set up my iPhone camera and I recorded myself and I did four or five episodes. I cannot remember exactly what just recording myself doing the podcast. And it was horrible from the stand. It took so long to synchronize the audio to the video to do the editing. It was literally taking an entire day to just make one video because I had no idea what I was doing. It just was not sustainable. So, I was doing that. I did it five times and I said, I am posting this and literally there is two views or three views. I just cannot justify 20% of my work going towards two views on YouTube. So, I gave up and that was at the beginning of 2021. Five episodes did nothing for 6, 7, 8 months. Then all of a sudden, I started getting emails in my inbox of, hey, so and so commented on your video and hey, so and so subscribed to your channel and hey, so and so commented and you just kept building and it was like, what is going on here? And all of a sudden it went two hundred views and then five hundred views and then one thousand and two and everything is relative. That could be a large number. It could be an insignificant number for me, it was a significant number because, okay, this thing that was doing nothing for so long is now starting to get some traction. So, what I realized is YouTube is just this awesome platform that you do not just stick content there and it goes there to die and maybe it does if it sucks. But if it is good content, YouTube is trying to push that in front of the right people. And so, it took 6 - 7 months, but all of a sudden, this video racked up several one thousand views. And at that point, I said, okay, there is something to this YouTube thing. So that is the moment I decided I need to go all in on this and just started taking the most popular podcast episodes I had and did not just repeat them to the camera, but kind of repurposed them. I just started doing a weekly YouTube show. And so, it was the couple of podcasts and then YouTube and I think just because there is already an audience built up from podcasts could easily say, hey, go check out the YouTube channel Root Financial yada. And, and so it kind of helped with that traction of being able to push some of the audience we have already had and now it has just taken off and it is just blown up for us and been a huge source of new business, a huge amount. So much, it is kind of hard to keep up with sometimes, but it has been a huge part of our growth.
Desarte: First of all, I got to say meeting up with Scott Frank over Tacos is the most San Diego thing I have ever heard on the podcast and that is amazing. So, I know a lot of advisors try to market over social and I want to get into the YouTube presence now over 250,000 views. That is amazing, right? Talk to us about that process, you have all this traction. You have people that are watching, getting educated about this. How do you take them from this contact or this viewer through the process to get them to become a client at Root Financial? Because that takes some coordination, doesn't it? And I do not think a lot of advisors have figured out how to specifically do that.
James: It is fairly simple. It is, it is kind of what, what you two are doing with this show. Hey, let us have awesome content. Have an awesome show and at the end Hey, by the way, if you are an adviser and interested in Altruist, check us out and kind of redirect to a, to a website.
Jason: Let us go ahead and cut that so we can then replay it at the end. Let us play that seventeen times as a commercial throughout the episode.
James: It is kind of that simple. You are not going there to try to sell Root Financial, you are going there to educate and teach and provide quality content. And then at the end there is just an out every time of, hey, if you are looking to see how we can help you get more life out of your money, then check us out at rootfinancialpartners.com, something like that, and it is fairly simple. So, the hard part has not necessarily been that because YouTube has done a good job of helping us to push content to the right people. You have to make sure that you are getting the right type of client depending on your service structure. I remember it only took, I think two or three, maybe four months from the time we started seriously going on YouTube doing a weekly show to, I remember, I was in Colorado with my wife, and we were on vacation and one day I came back to my phone, and it was fifteen new appointments have been booked. So, the week when you get back is just jam packed full of new client calls and it was like this jumping up and down with joy. So excited, come back, take fifteen calls and they are all just looking for a, I just want the one time plan. I just want hours. I just want whatever, which is fine if that is your service structure. It is like, oh jeez, how do I get through the right person where this is not necessarily just a do it yourself or that wants to pay a onetime fee for this? But how do you start to screen that out a little bit and set expectations of what you offer? So, it is getting in front of people on YouTube and then trying to have some type of a screening process on the on-boarding flow and they do get to your website to make sure it is the right person, but it is just putting out quality content and doing it regularly.
Desarte: Would you say that the podcast, what is the structure? What type of things are you talking about? Obviously, you have a niche focus in your individual podcast. Does that help with the screening process at all as you are on YouTube? Number one and two, I look at YouTube through my nieces and nephews now, right? Everybody is very animated. You have to smash the like button at the end of the episode. Are you more animated on the platform? What works if I am an advisor listening outside of the call to action at the end of the episode. Is there a specific structure of flow that you are doing this that you find has the most engagement or the most responses?
James: Yeah, I am not especially animated. I am not a super animated guy in general just in terms of, I am not a Mr. Beast type YouTube personality. I think that if you are going to do something, go back to that sustainability thing. What can you do sustainably? It is kind of hard to do something if it is not really you for years and years and years, it just gets exhausting. So ideally, you are just trying to attract people that you would enjoy working with. So, it is really just being yourself, not overly, just can you educate, can you entertain? Can you do what are you doing that is unique that would cause someone to want to spend 10, 15 minutes sitting in front of your video? It is not necessarily something super-secret. Say, one thing I tell the people, start to say model, what works? Hey, go check out another advisor that is having success on YouTube. What are they doing that is different? And oftentimes people have taught classes, they talk to clients, they have talked to prospects. It is not all that much different. It is just, there is no one talking back to you on the other end, you just have to control the flow and do it on your own. But it is just producing a topic, having some structure for that, providing some good examples and taking them through the journey of how you apply this topic to your specific case.
Jason: You have to do the home alone face though regularly in the video.
James: That is the worst part of YouTube. I cringe when someone pulls up the channel because there is these dumb faces of, I am so surprised or don't do this with your rod and that's embarrassing.
Jason: But you do, you pull it off. Well, the channel is very classed up, you get the new header image and some new graphics going so it is fun. Check it out at YouTube.com/RootFP if you want to see the channel, right? But it is cool because you see the evolution too. It has 30,000 plus subscribers. Some of the videos have over a quarter million views. So, you said like, yes, started off slow but it was really cool. Some were getting 500 or 1000. Now they are getting hundreds of thousands in some cases of views with tens of thousands of subscribers and your subscriber number is growing pretty nice because I actually checked out your channel not that long ago. I mean, a handful of months ago and you were still like, I want to say 25,000 or something. So, it is this commitment that is actually accelerating the channel growth, which is really, really cool. Another thing that is really useful, and this is me selling my own book because someone asked me once if I started a firm from scratch today, well, how would I get clients? And I said I would 100% go all in on YouTube. That is where I would put my time and attention. But one of the biggest reasons why was the diversity of the demographic. You have a retirement focused show on YouTube, right? Desarte just mentioned, hey, he thinks of his nieces. My kids, 20, 19 years old, they are on YouTube all the time. My parents who are in their sixties, they are on YouTube all the time. My father-in-law watches golf videos on YouTube 10 hours a day. So, it is actually kind of crazy how broad the demographic reaches. You could have a show on just about anything and there is a large, huge audience actually in there. So, kudos to you for doing it and then stay committed to it. Now you are building that kind of base, which is really, really cool. One of the things intimidating is really, really hard for a lot of people. Action is your secret sauce is basically what I would define what you mentioned a bit ago. You were not afraid, you acted and then kept iterating and getting better. But what would you tell somebody that wanted to get into YouTube? What are the steps? I mean, it sounds like you had some people you worked closely with that served as sort of mentors maybe in adjacent industries. They were not exactly financial advisor. That is cool. But what would be some of those steps you would advise someone if they said, hey, I want to go all in on YouTube, what would the process look like?
James: Yes, the first thing and this goes back to the podcast and then I will go back to YouTube is, you know, there is all the talk about, find your niche and what is your niche and all that stuff. And I do not think so yes, we have a retirement focus on marketing, but we work with a whole bunch of different clients. You know, I have tons of clients my age, they are awesome clients. We have tons of clients that are retirement age, they are awesome clients. So, we do not have a niche per se in the sense that we only work with one type of client. But if you are going to do marketing, it's much more difficult to do marketing and talk to someone if you're not knowing who's that person that you're talking to. And the example I use is I did the personal finance podcast with Scott Frank, and we did it and we just wrapped up the show. But we have eight thousand plus downloads ourselves. So, a good amount of downloads, it got some leads from it, but they were not necessarily the types of leads I would want to work with, and it was less focused on what I would want to do. So, maybe a couple of clients from that versus the ready for retirement podcast, fewer downloads. But we have gotten a lot of clients from that. And it is because even though it is the same kind of content just packaged up specifically for someone in retirement, they feel as if I am talking to them. So, when they need to make a financial decision, it is not, oh, this is just the person that kind of educates everyone. It is, this is the person that can talk to my specific problems. So, the first thing is who do you want to talk to if you are going to be doing a YouTube channel or any marketing for that matter? So, find that niche if you want to call it that, that target persona. Second, as you are looking at this, what is sustainable as I mentioned, it is one of the things we talked about. I started writing and I just did not like writing that much. I am not going to keep writing for years and years and years, which is how long it might take to build something up if I just do not enjoy doing it. So, as you are doing this, make sure that you are doing the aspects that you like. So, I record the videos but I don't do any of the editing anymore. I do not do any of the postproduction stuff. There is an editor that I have, I just send that stuff too. So have a couple of clients that are actually kind of YouTube influencer type people. I mean, just for their jobs. And so just talking to them and said, hey, I am getting into this. Can you suggest an editor? And they say, yes, I talked to, he's great. He is actually, he is in Serbia, but his English is still really good for English as a second language. So, we have some modifications of editing and texts on the video and all that. But he is awesome. So we can record a video and the part that bogged me down at first was the editing, it didn't take that long to film, but then just, oh my gosh, all this editing and what do I do and lining up the audio and the visual and it just so being able to outsource that has been hugely helpful to where if I can just focus on quality content, then that's the most important thing to do. So, know who you are talking to, make sure that you are focused on the aspects of it that you enjoy doing and ideally getting someone else to do the things that you do not enjoy doing. And then what I tell everyone is just model what works. Do not try to reinvent the wheel. Go to other advisers or go to other channels and say, hey, what is unique about the titles that somehow have 200,000 views on our channel versus the videos that only have three thousand views? Why is this one getting attention? Oftentimes with YouTube, it is the title, and it is a thumbnail, you might have the best content. But if your thumbnail is not good and if your title is confusing, no one's going to watch it. So, I literally subscribe to a service. I forget what it is called. It is a guy that analyzes YouTube channels and says, here is the video that has a disproportionate number of views on this person's channel. Let us break down what they did with their title. Let us break down what they did with their thumbnail. So, putting a lot of effort into those little things by modeling what works is another huge factor to just having success with YouTube.
Desarte: I want to talk about that success, right? So, you started your firm in 2017. And it took two years before you got to YouTube, you started going in two years into podcast and I think four years to YouTube. Obviously, you are two hundred plus in AUM, massive success. Talk to us about the growth story from when you added podcasts and YouTube How did the trajectory change after you began to curate that content?
James: That's really when it started to take off like crazy. So, 2022 we added sixty-five million in new assets, like organic, new assets, primarily through YouTube and podcast. this year, our goal is one hundred million. We are exceeding the track for that, and it is almost all entirely YouTube and podcast. So, our biggest problem is not necessarily marketing right now. It is how do we onboard all these number of clients with, you know, a relatively small team of six people, awesome people on the team. But it is just, that is, there is, there's kind of challenges of that. So, I can only have so many conversations throughout the day if I am going to a rotary event or chamber of commerce event or B N I event or whatever it is. But so, I could either go spend three hours doing that and maybe meeting ten people and you know, maybe something comes of it, or I could spend three or four hours recording five YouTube videos and potentially get hundreds of thousands of views on that, which is not the equivalent to having a conversation, but it is not that far behind I would say. And if I can just leverage myself over and over and over again and leverage the onboarding process through videos embedded throughout the onboarding flow and how we are collecting data and how we are delivering the service that we want to deliver. We are just looking for those leverage points. What can we do that does not require incremental effort but can just be leveraged via video or podcast or automation through the unborn systems we have?
Desarte: Yeah, I have an idea in my mind because I try to do a lot of content marketing. You say you hate writing. I actually love writing, right? So, a month ago, I started a newsletter. We are up to two thousand subscribers on the newsletter in a month, which is good numbers for me. But I think about it as active and passive kind of prospecting on one end. I am trying to do something very local whereas I can be the guy for business owners, right? Like we help businesses scale and sell their businesses, that is it, in Sacramento. So, I got to go out, I got to be there. I got to shake hands, I got to kiss the babies, quote unquote, right? But there is another side that I think you have really mastered is that it is active because you have to do the work, right? But it is passive in terms of how many people will end up seeing it over time. And that is that social media, that is the You tubing, right? Because that is going to continuously market for you without you doing much work, right? So, I kind of like that aspect. What do you think about YouTube? Are you doing anything else or are you just putting it there. Are you putting dollars behind or ad dollars to raise it up in the search? Are you doing anything in addition to just creating the videos and putting them on there?
James: We're in the works of doing that. Now, we have not done anything up until this point. It has just been create the content, push the content, but we have not done a great job of distributing it on other channels or doing anything with ads or, and up to this point, we have not really needed to. And we still do not need to, but I do want to make sure we are making the most of what we are doing. You know, if we are going to take the time to make the content, why not distribute it to a whole bunch of different places. I think the biggest thing that we are putting effort into right now is one of the challenges that we have had with it is people have been watching me on YouTube and so they get to know me to an extent, but I am not necessarily the advisor that is working with all these clients that are coming in from YouTube. There is three of us total, we will be adding more advisors and it's how do we get away from people thinking it's the James show, so to speak to, what is it that we're actually selling? And so, we are kind of in the process of naming the system that we work with and promoting the system that we take people through. So, it is not, oh, I want to go work with Desarte. It is, oh, Desarte, has this system and whether it is Desarte or John or Jill or whoever from Desarte’s firm that is taking me through it. I am getting the same experience. So, it is kind of how do we rebrand this in a way to where? It is not me because I cannot be taking on all these clients. I am trying to stop taking clients, but we can have the structure for what the on boarding is going to look like, what the client experience is going to look like. And how do we promote that all over YouTube podcasts in the market that we do?
Desarte: I would be interested in learning how like you plan to do that. So maybe we got to do a part two, right? But I think for any business, one of the hardest parts about it is when you have that rainmaker, quote unquote, you have to build a plan to have the business succeed without that person in it. And a lot of advisers struggle with that. I am struggling with that right now, Thomas Kopelman, who was on our show, he is doing a lot of that work and promoting on its own. But what happens when he is not the person talking to the end client? So, that is a struggle that many of us have. When it comes to YouTube, how can an advisor get started? I know that a lot of advisors, I am not good behind the camera or just want to hide behind the keyboard, you said use your iPhone. But if you can kind of lay it out. The first three things that they need to do, what are those three things?
James: I would go back to what you, if you are not good behind the camera, do not try to force something that does not work. Should you write? Should you do a podcast? Should you do some other form of marketing? So, I would say the trap I fell into at the beginning was doing what I saw other people doing and feeling like that's the way until I found, okay, there are other, so find your thing, whatever your thing is. Number two, I already talked about this but to find who you are going to talk to, to whom is it that you are marketing? Who are you speaking to in these videos? Three, model what works? So, look at my channel, there's a handful of advisers doing it. So, look at what they are doing, what is working. But then from there, it kind of really is just do it. You know, I think what the reason we can have so much success, not that many advisors are doing it. And I pretty darn sure the other advisers who are on YouTube are also having some good success. There is just not that many people doing it. I was on a dimensional funds webinar breaking down aspects of exceptional firms or something from their benchmarking study and they were going through the numbers, and they said, okay, over the last five years, the firms in the study have grown by 12% a year or something. But when you extract out market performance, their net organic growth has only been 3% or something strikingly small. At least in my opinion, their firms are not growing by that much. And of that 3% only 7% of it was attributed to digital marketing, which if you could run the numbers, that means a $500 million firm is getting about $1 million per year of new growth from digital marketing. So, sometimes advisers have a sense of, oh, I got to be the next Mr. Beast. I have to be the next Joe Rogan. I am like no, that is not your competition. Your competition is a $500 million firm that is growing at one million a year in new assets from digital channels and they are just not doing it. So, it is the best thing you can do is do it. I know that sounds simple. Ari Taublieb who is the vice president at Root Financial. He was twenty-four when he joined me, and he was an internal sales associate at Nuveen. So just a wholesaler, did not really have any background in this industry. He joined me and he is just such a go getter, I think two weeks or three weeks after he joined, he said I am starting a podcast and just kind of replicating what you do. And so, he just kind of replicated everything on his own. And then I started YouTube and he said, I am starting YouTube and James, I am just replicating everything that you are doing. He had no idea what he was doing at the beginning. He was just kind of breaking down what I did and kind of talking, and he said no one's going to listen but this is a chance to learn. He is now bringing in $2, 3, 4 million prospects from his channel as a 26 year old because he just got started and was not afraid to do something that felt unnatural, but he has been doing it for two years now, 2.5 years now. So it's really kind of feel silly to an extent saying like, I don't know what the secret sauce is. I just feel like you have to know who you are talking to, model what works, and then just consistently do it knowing that a lot of people are going to be too busy, too afraid, some excuse not to do it. So, if you can, there is just a competitive advantage there.
Desarte: Yeah, I remember working at a firm a long time ago now and one of the senior executives at the firm is like, hey, you play football, right? I am like, yes, I play football. He is like, look, this business is a lot like football tryouts. Whereas on the first day there is going to be one hundred people come up for the team. They are going to go through the exercises. They are going to say it is too hard. They are going to go home, right? There is going to be eighty people. They are going to go through the exercises, they are going to say it is too hard. They are going to come home, right? You are going to end up with thirty-five people who are committed to doing this thing and those are the ones that are going to have success. So, I agree with you. Part of it is just doing the work, right? And doing it for a long enough time to see your fruits of your labor sprout. So perfect advice. Jason. I do not know if you have anything to add, but I am just soaking up all of this wisdom.
Jason: I want to ask a couple of really specific questions actually that are on this line. You talk about studying those who are doing some great work. So, you have a video, I just was cheating and looking at your channel. You have a video that has 515,000 views that you only posted two months ago. That is absurd in our industry for what it is worth like, I mean, I do not know that anybody gets that level of viewership in such a short amount of time, at least based on what I am seeing here. But do you know what video that is, by the way? I mean, you know, your stats so well. Okay, it is such a simple topic, right? I mean, you did a video on social security, maximizing your social security, right? I mean, your channel is called Ready For Retirement. So, it makes sense, right? This is one of those things for getting ready for retirement. You want to do social security you talk about people have to do but it sounds like this is a message to market match. It is 1 0 1 like, hey, I have picked my customers. I know what is concerning to them. This is a pretty clear sign, this is a common query, right? That someone who is getting ready for retirement probably is looking for. But I am curious like, when you went in to make that video, it was a couple of months ago, what was the framework? I mean, did you like go, hey, look, I am going to produce four common questions. I am just going to get in front of a camera, answer them. It is a 10 minute video, but it is a pretty powerful video. It has a ton of views and presumably this thing is driving inbound demand to your firm.
James: Yes. And I am glad that you brought that video up because one of the things that I had done, I have been doing YouTube for a year and a half or so and it was like, jeez, there is just, you know, I kind of feel like I am out of topics, you know, like, how many things can I actually talk about? And I mentioned Ari who is a team member and started his own podcast and YouTube. He said James, just take the things that have already performed well and read to the video. And at first, like, well, I do not want subscribers to feel like they are just in the same video again. I have already done it and, and then we thought about it. I said, well, if they are just watching and they are watching every single video every single week and they have not become a client yet, awesome. I am glad they are getting value, but they are probably not going to become a client. So, let us just take that video that worked. So that video, if you scroll back even further, you will see. There is another one that's slightly different title, but like four simple ways to make the most of your social security. And it happened to be a video that got good traction a year ago. Maybe it got, I forget the numbers, maybe 50,000, 60,000 views. And I said, okay, I am just going to redo the same exact video I took the same exact outline, 12 months later, remade it. And that video again, modeling what works. It worked in the past and now with even more subscribers, it worked again. And one video probably brought in five thousand subscribers and, you know, 500,000 views. And I do not know how many clients that is led to but certainly some doing that. So, if you find something that works, do not be afraid to, a few months later, take the same exact outline and do the video all over again.
Jason: I feel like we are getting a theme here Desarte. You know, when we chatted, we brought Thomas up earlier. He gets a lot of his business from Twitter and he's like, yeah, listen, I take all my best stuff and the reality is there's so many new subscribers six months later that posting the same thing six months later, it's just all the new subscribers never saw it in the first place and it's like, it allows them to kind of curate, you know, sort of a content calendar makes it easier to manage. But one is pretty, pretty awesome. I mean, again, a half a million views, funny enough, you know, I think about my own YouTube watching somehow, I watch a little bit of golf on YouTube, and I noticed that there is this theme with the golf youtubers. There is a channel that, it was G M golf is how it started. It was three or four friends and, literally all their stuff is the same, and then they started new channels and it was a new channel called good, good. And then one of the main guys, Grant Horvath started his own channel. Then another guy Micah started his own channel, and it is the thumbnails are all kind of the same. And it is sort of like we challenged two D1golfers into a game of match play, see how it went. It is just them playing golf with people and it's kind of entertaining and they seem like relatable people, and these are people that have millions of subscribers and millions and millions and tens of millions of views. So, it is really interesting, the formula is there. It is right there for advisors. So, the whole like, oh, I do not know how to get started. Man, pick an industry and it is probably the same formula model for your core customer. And it seems to work.
Desarte: You talked about converting clients, right? And how this video came and did five thousand new subscribers, right? All those numbers are very relevant. When it comes to converting what’s, that process look like internally, right? Because I know you have a lot of inflow. How do you break it down to get that right client or who does it go to next after it comes in? They see James. They are like, this is the guy I want to work with. What happens next?
James: Yes. So, they, we redirect them to our website. Our website's got a button in the upper right corner to start here and there is a little bit of a screening process just in terms of what best describes you. How old are you? What is your income? What are your assets, et cetera, et cetera. And based upon what they select for asset level, they are going to get redirected to one of three advisers. So myself, Ari, Chris and so just it's just a way of screening and they have to also acknowledge we're an AUM model. So, we do not do one time plans, we do not do hourly work. Yes, this is our fee schedule. We want you to be very clear about how we charge just to make sure there is a good fit, but you know, ahead of time. So, they go through that and then based upon what they select, they get routed to one of our calendars via Calendly. And so as soon as they schedule a call, Calendly has some amazing tools. They have a, it is called workflows in Calendly, and it is so underutilized with advisors where Desarte you could schedule a call and you obviously get the automated, hey, here is the confirmation time and date. Zoom link, yada but then the next day they get something of, hey, we are so excited to meet with you. Here is a video of what you can expect. And then we have 2, 3, 4, or 5 of those. And I think of it as building momentum. You know, they are watching videos, they are excited, the momentum is high. They book and with a lot of advisers, well, they do not talk to you for a couple of weeks. That momentum might kind of wane and they might say, oh, well, I do not really need to talk to James. I mean, just cancel this call. But if we can every single day drip value on them, just with the Calendly, the automated workflows going out, they are more excited to talk to us by the time that a call actually comes around than they were when they first booked it. So, it is they book the call, they get a series of automated workflows that are videos or value ads or here is what you can expect, then they have the initial call with whoever the advisor might be, then we take them through a planning process and then ultimately the proposal. And by the end of that, we just say, if you collaborate with us, here is what it would look like. Here's kind of our proposal for how that would work. And then the standard onboarding.
Desarte: You know, they say that it takes twelve contacts to convert a contact to client. And you do that in those workflows. So, I use the workflows too, right? And I love how you can kind of schedule it and sequence it out. So, you are not actually doing the work, right? You are not having to email everyone, goes automatically, but still has your voice and tone that's touching the client. So that is a good point. I would recommend every adviser no matter what scheduling tool they use to build in the workflow process. But that is good to know because I think that as your star rises, especially if you are doing digital marketing, it is hard to keep pace with all of the inbound flow that you have. We had Thomas Kopelman talk about that, right? So, a lot of people have to build a team around them to create these operational processes to make sure that the value or the quality of the service does not drop off because of the growth. So, James, what are some of the software tools that an adviser would need to start a YouTube channel?
James: I think right now, Descript is actually an awesome tool. Descript is very cool and some of the tools I have, that is actually what my editor uses. And it is also something that there is a little bit of a learning curve I think but can be used by a beginner as well. So, you need an editing tool. You obviously need a camera of sorts. We started with an iPhone. Now I have a local college kid come in and use films and brings his own mic and his own camera. But if you have some type of a camera, some type of microphone, you do want good audio and then good lighting, then that's kind of it. And then for the software, it is Descript or something like that. And then, you know, YouTube is the biggest piece of software. I guess, just uploading it there and let it do its job.
Desarte: So, we talk about good lighting. What kind of ring light or tool are you using to get that perfect shot?
James: When it started, it was just a basic ring light, you know, one, those rings, it is a light. So behind you. So, right in front of your face.
Jason: That you can spot an influencer a mile away.
James: They're carrying a ring light down the intersection there with them that there is a light now. I do not know exactly what the light is called, but it is just one of these types of lights that we have here in this studio. What do you call this, box light?
Jason: A box light to me. It is people who we do not know what we are talking about right on.
James: Well, he brings a box light like this and sets it up and the nice soft light on the face is not necessary but good. Have good lighting obviously.
Desarte: Awesome. Well, it is time Jason.
Jason: All right. You are right. And by the way, it is really cool, that lesson of conversion. It sounds like we are celebrating followers, uh followers do not pay the bills. You got to get the clients, but obviously, there is this connection there. If you go to your Root website too, it is pretty cool. You have, I think three or four different CTAs on the website, you got that big sticky button at the top. You have your main call to action header on your main page, you scroll down contact. So obviously you are taking some of the same lessons from social media, taking them to your web 1.0, where you control the actual site, right? And then driving those just awesome. So, all right, let us wrap up with some rapid fire Q and A. You know, you do not get to be as smart as James if you are not an avid reader. So, what is the most important or interesting thing you have been reading lately?
James: It is a book. I actually started a year and a half ago. I am embarrassed. $20 Coach is a book that I did not just start it, but just finished it over this past weekend. And it is about a guy named Bill Campbell, coach to a lot of the top people in Silicon Valley and great lessons and there are not necessarily lessons you would not learn anywhere else. But what struck me is you think of these, you know, the Apples, the Googles, the Microsoft’s. Oh, they just have better tech people, they just have better software, they just have better ideas and what was so successful about them, at least in the lens of what Bill Campbell provided, is it is still very much a people business and very much if you cannot get people to work together, you are going to be limited in what you can do. And so, I thought, wow, you know, I would have thought of software and tech as this thing where you just write better code and you have more success and if they needed that people aspect to it, how much more so does a business like financial advising, financial services that is very people driven. So, it was just a very interesting book of the importance of, in our case, I think we have done a good job of building a place that people, the prospects are attracted to. Now, it is how do we build a place that team members are attracted to and can thrive and do really well. And by creating the right culture of success and just build that team around us.
Jason: Sounds good. Second question, we kind of covered some of this already, but this is all good. We did it really specific to YouTube. You went through going right from graduate school to joining a firm, then you launched a firm from scratch. Think about the launching a firm from scratch, that era, where you launched in 2017, what are three things you could tell an adviser that is getting ready to launch their own RIA that might help them in their journey?
James: I am stealing this line. I think it might have actually been Scott Frank who said this, but he mentioned going to other advisers who have a minimum and are turning away clients. I did the same thing. What a great way to get started, you know, so go to advisors that maybe have a minimum or cannot take on everyone that is coming to them. Do not just say, hey, can I have your leftovers but say, hey, here is who I am. Here is how I service people, here is how I charge, give them this feeling of you can feel comfortable referring people to me that you cannot potentially work with and potentially have that be a great fee source for you. Maybe people cannot serve clients under 500,000 or a million or whatever it is, but that might be a great client for you. So, I think that would be the first thing I go back to do. What is easy, you know if it is writing, that is easy for you. Start writing. If it is video, that is easy. For you to start doing video that might not pay off right away, but it should not take too long. 1, 2, 3 years if you're doing it consistently. But I like to do what is the short term thing which to me is maybe go to other firms, get clients, if possible, but then also start investing more of that long term lead source.
Desarte: Awesome. Third question. What is your current tech stack?
James: So, we use Coda primarily for our customer CRM or client CRM and workspace management and project management. We are heavily using Altruist for all performance, reporting, billing. You know, we just moved over about fifty million or so to Altruist and is becoming more and more of our primary custodian going forward. So, Coda, Altruist, we are using Wright Capital. Alista Plan for financial planning stuff. Than things like Calendly, Zoom, just the basics to supplement that.
Jason: Presumably, most of your clients are all over the country, right? So heavy, presumably Zoom and digital tool user.
James: A lot of Zoom.
Desarte: Lots of Zoom. Last question. And I will take us to the close Jason. What is a new hobby that you have recently started?
James: Ju Jitsu. Started that two months ago.
Desarte: How's it going for you? We have somebody on our staff right now. Will Steiner shout out to Will, best writer in the game. He is an avid mixed martial artist. But how is that going for you?
James: Great. I mean, in the sense that I just get choked out and tapped out every single time. You go in feeling like you learned one thing and also learned ten things that you do not know. So, it is just an awesome physical challenge and mental challenge as well.
Desarte: That's awesome. Well, James, thank you so much for joining us on this show today. We really appreciate you. You got my mind spinning about digital marketing, YouTube and processes. We appreciate you. If you want to subscribe to the show and learn more about what we are doing, go to www.Altruist.com/podcast. On behalf of Jason Wink, myself and James, thank you for listening and until next time, keep growing. Thank you for listening to the Advisor Journey by Altruist. Do not forget to like review and subscribe for future episodes. Each advisor's journey is different, and your results may vary. While we hope you find this information helpful, success cannot be guaranteed. Also, Altruist and its affiliates do not provide tax or legal advice.