Social media can feel very intimidating for advisors. The number of posts, algorithms, community building, and tracking can be an extra job that’s hard to find time for. Did you know that you can build an entire social media community that converts to clients in just under 5 hours per week? In this episode, Thomas Kopelman shares how he built a community of over 13k followers on Twitter and how that has led to an additional $18k per month in AUM. He shares how to create content, how to schedule it, and how to make it work for you!
Social media can feel very intimidating for advisors. The number of posts, algorithms, community building, and tracking can be an extra job that’s hard to find time for. Did you know that you can build an entire social media community that converts to clients in just under 5 hours per week? In this episode, Thomas Kopelman shares how he built a community of over 13k followers on Twitter and how that has led to an additional $18k per month in AUM. He shares how to create content, how to schedule it, and how to make it work for you!
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RESOURCES IN EPISODE:
ADDITIONAL EPISODE RESOURCES
SEO, marketing online, and creating content that matters as an advisor
Marketing tips to attract the right clients and keep them long term
5 helpful tips for creating content that your audience will care about
Thinking long term about your growth: content is king
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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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Desarte: Welcome back to another episode of the Advisor Journey. I am your co-host Desarte Yarnway, along with Jason Wenk and today this is one of the podcast episodes that I have been waiting on for the longest. We have Thomas Kopelman in here with us and if you have not heard about him, I don't know where you've been, under a rock. Every time I pull up my Twitter app, his face is on there. His news is on there and he has just been crushing it. We are here to talk to him about unit economics, how he builds his content, how he reaches his clients and how he has grown his firm over the last 16 months. You do not want to miss this episode. Tune in.
Jason: 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.
Desarte: Thomas, thank you for joining us on the podcast today. So good to see you. I got to tell you all week I have been looking forward to this very episode. You have been crushing it on social. I feel like I cannot open up my Twitter app and not see your name on there.
Thomas: That is the goal, man.
Desarte: Yeah, and it uses everywhere. So, I am excited that you are joining Jason and I on the Advisor Journey today.
Thomas: Yes, thanks for having me. I have been excited to meet you guys in person. I have talked to both of you quite a bit over the last two years and really, honestly what you guys have built is so cool.
Desarte: Awesome. Awesome. Well, thanks for joining us again. I wanted to just get into like who you are. Because I think first of all, I am just going to say it, you get a lot of like social media hate, and I want to dispel some of those rumors or whatever opinions that people might have about you on the podcast today. I feel like I know you very well. We are in a study group. We talk once every other week, right. Talking about business cases. I know that you have worked hard to build your business. But before we get into that for the people that may not know you, why don't you introduce them to Thomas Kopelman?
Thomas: Yes. Obviously, my name is Thomas Kopelman. I am a financial planner I own with my partner Trey, AllStreet Wealth. We are basically an RIA that just serves young professionals, is kind of how it started out. Now, we really serve mostly people in their thirties and forties, mostly business owners or people that, some founders of tech companies and then some other people that are just facing liquidity events either from equity comp at the place they are at or because they are selling their business. And you know, we are just trying to scale and, and build really quickly. We're only 16 months into to having the firm at this point.
Desarte: Yes. So, tell me about that transition. I know a lot of advisors that listen to this, this podcast, they are either scaling their business, right? They are sustaining their business, or they are in a position where they want to make a transition into being independent. Here at Altruist, we call it going independent with confidence. How was that journey for you? Because I know a little bit of that story but talk about that transition from going from working with somebody to now trying to build your own brand.
Thomas: Yes. Well, I mean, I started in BD life like a lot of other people, and I just knew from the start that this is just not where I wanted to be. I had Hearsay as my social media, automated posting, could not really do anything else, no blog, no podcast. And I basically put it out into the world that I wanted to move to the independent space. And Russ Ford who is in our study group kind of became my mentor, helped me evaluate what was good, what was bad. I had a ton of offers, but most of them were a little bigger firms. I would have been the junior advisor, still not really doing any social, not really building what I thought I wanted to build. And luckily, I met Justin Castelli and I felt like this was the turning point of my story and I met with Justin. He is like, I have no plans to hire. I do not really want to hire anybody, and I was like, hire me pretty much. I was just like; will you please hire me? You can pay me basically nothing, just enough to cover my living expenses. And eventually he was like, you know, sometimes good people fall in your life and you kind of have to do it. And so, I worked with Justin, you know, I kind of learned from him but we ended up pretty siloed. I was one of my clients. He felt really good about me being able to do the work. And he got to the point where he is like, I just feel like I am not really adding a lot to you. He is like, well, you work from home. Maybe we talk an hour a month at this point. You are ready to start your own firm. And I think when I heard that I was a little like, I do not know. The year before I said I would never want to be a business owner. That was never my goal. I just want to be a good advisor and he was like; I just see a lot of you in me and you are going to want to be a business owner and you are going to want to build a business. And so, he kind of helped me with that transition. They helped me build out my processes, create the tech, all that kind of stuff. And I just looked to join some other people and it just made sense for me and Trey to join. We both wanted to serve a very similar group. We both believed that content marketing was the way to do it. And we had known each other for, Justin actually connected us the first day we met each other. You guys would really get along and think things the same way. And so, it just made the most sense for us to go out and say, we both have a brand around working with this demographic. Let us build it together with a firm. And that's really just how AllStreet started.
Desarte: That is awesome.
Jason: I would love just to give one more shout to Justin Castelli, by the way, because he is one of the most amazing people I think in our industry, a giver and supporter. And because I got to watch that, I knew Justin well, and so I got to watch you join the firm and the, one of the coolest parts was how he empowered you to go independent. So many people, once they find a good adviser to join their firm, it is like they never want you to ever leave and they almost make it hard and he was quite the opposite sort of like, hey, here is why and how you can do it. And then, gave you tons of accolades as you started your firm, which I think was pretty important. He is obviously a pretty well-known advisor. So, Justin, hopefully you listen, are listening and huge, huge shout out. I think every time I turn, I feel like he is doing something good for someone else. Pretty awesome.
Thomas: Yes, he was I mean, I shout out him all the time on social because I really think that without him, I don't know the route I would have taken and really, for him, I wasn't somebody that I think I wanted structure and tell me exactly what to do. He more so was like, here is the mistakes I made and here is what I think that you should do to avoid those and speed up your growth. And I feel like that was exactly what I needed. And then he let me be me. He let me; my process was a little different. I wanted a little bit different deliverables than he had, but I still had things of like, I do not know, maybe this on financial planning and he would help teach me that. And it was really the perfect set up of just empowering me and guiding me without the guidelines you have to do.
Desarte: Hey, you talked about wanting to build what you wanted to build, right? Talk to me about that feeling because I just feel like so many advisors feel that way. They are somewhere right now. They are stuck and they are like, ah, this is not exactly how I want to build a business, but I do like being in the business. So, what does that feel like? And how did that lead to you coming with your content marketing strategy?
Thomas: Yes. Well, I just thought, coming from broker dealer life, all I was ever taught was, sell. I would go to my friend's wedding on Friday and Monday, they would be like, do you have twelve names? And I am like, no, I was at a wedding, I wanted to have fun at this wedding, or it would be Wednesday night. Go to this church volunteer event and bring back leads. And I am like, I want to go to this event because I want to serve not because I'm trying to find who I can turn into clients. And so, I just had in my head anti sell. And I just believed that honestly, everybody wants to or needs to learn about personal finance, and people go to social for it. Maybe not LinkedIn, which is my opinion. But I believe if I look at Twitter and how I use Twitter is that I am learning on there. I am learning about real estate; I am learning about taxes. I am learning about estate planning. Well, probably other people are doing that as well. So why do not I just try to go through my journey, learn at the same time, sometimes as some of the content that is coming out, educate others and they are going to want to collaborate with me because I am the advisor that has not been selling to them and just been trying to educate them. And I just never had the ability to do that early on. And then Justin gave me the ability to do that. But then step two is, how do you collaborate with these people? I do not think there is that many perfect models out there yet. There is the, how do you collaborate with retirees? But there it is so new to collaborating with accumulators. And now I am working with high income, high net worth accumulators, business owners and everybody does things a different way. So, I have just been honestly trying to figure it out as we go. Continue to survey clients, continue to survey people as I bring them on and be like, where are the areas that I can add the most value for you that are not just like life insurance, disability insurance, Roth IRAs retirement accounts. Where is the consulting aspect to what I am doing and the life planning that I can add the most value for those people? And, and I will be honest, there's still so much growth that we can do there. We are still trying to figure out how to be the best at what we are doing there. And it just takes a lot of listening to your clients because, I mean, I have heard Jason, you have talked about the subscription model or the planning fee model all the time that it is really hard, and nobody necessarily has been a really big business around that yet because it is a little bit less scalable. And that is right where the point that we are adding is. How do we find the right fees, the right team, the right background work that we are adding the most value that people do not really want to leave and they feel like we have to stay here and do this. But I do not think there is somebody who has that perfectly created somewhere yet.
Jason: Yes, totally. I mean, there is, and this is true of all industries, evolutions of sorts. I was listening to a podcast on my drive into the office today and they were talking about AI, the evolution, how AI is changing different industries and they gave the example of a video game creator that recently quit their job because they essentially were being told, hey, use AI now to design your characters and you are just going to be editing. You are no longer going to be creating so to speak. And the artist in this person was like, that's just death. Death that I am not going to die on so to speak. But what is interesting is that if you actually go back in time, think of when Photoshop came out and people went from analog photos to digital photos and it did not make people less creative, it just changed how they were creative. I think our industry will have similar moments where it is advice might change. Delivery model might change. But at the end of the day, people still need advice. And we will find ways for it to reach some scale. What I'd love to do because we skipped over a few things that I think are really cool to click into because watching with my own eyes actually was alarming the pace at which you grew your content and your following. If I recall correctly, you first left RLS, Justin's firm, I mean, my suspicion is you had 1000, 1,500, 2,000 sort of like social followers. It was growing but still a modest number. I suspect your newsletter was probably just getting rolling. So probably had almost very little, maybe hundreds at that point. Those numbers are bigger now. I mean, last time I checked, I was looking at your profile the other day. I was like, holy crap. You got a ton of followers and tons of engagement. To do that because that is always something that people talk about. Like, oh, that is too hard to do now. The only people that have big followings is because they were early. But you literally built 10,000 followers plus in 12, 14 months or something like that. So, I would love to hear a little bit about how you think about that building of an audience or that building of a tribe and then the different channels that you are using. I know you are one of the few advisers who have really been able to crack the code on Twitter. I do not think a lot of people have done well, getting Twitter content and followers into engagement into prospects into clients. But you are not just doing that. You are also building a really substantial newsletter, very specifically targeted at your ideal client. But can you tell us a little bit about this journey of building a following? And the way you chose Twitter and the newsletter.
Thomas: When I launched AllStreet, I was pretty much a LinkedIn person. And then I honestly, I was a LinkedIn person because the advisor I talked to were like LinkedIn is where you get clients, Twitter is where you network and for a while I just like, listened and I was like, yes, that is probably right, everybody is telling me this. But then I just started to actually scroll, and I go through LinkedIn, and you see every comment. It’s like nice post or whatever. Nobody was actually taking the post, digging deeper into it, having talks about it, learning through it and then you look at Twitter and it is the exact opposite. You are either getting absolutely bashed by the bots and all the negative people or people are truly commenting because they are trying to learn. I was like, wait, if people are learning on Twitter, why am I not here? So last January, I was like, do you know what, I am going to start here. I had about eight hundred followers and I was like; I am going to do a thread every single day for a month. What better way to learn, get better at content and I think get seen and I started to get a little bit of traction, nothing crazy. But my highest follower growth month last year was six hundred. My goal is to end at 7500. I hit that on January 1st, so I was a day late. Now, I am almost at 13,00 3 months into the start of this year. And I think what I learned, which a lot of advisors I see are doing wrong is that we have always been taught that social media is just a quality game. All that matters is quality and you should never sacrifice that for quantity. And I do not think that is the way the algorithms work. On Twitter, if I post something, unless it is blowing up to 50,000 views, it has gone in two hours. People are not seeing that. So, we see all these advisers. They say social media does not work and Desarte and I were talking about this on the way here. Well, they post three times a week and on Monday they have a link to their blog post with nothing interesting to draw people to. On Wednesday, they may have some post about why people should collaborate with them or their fees. And then Friday, they linked to a different article they read that is good. I do not know where people think that is going to attract somebody to want to collaborate with you. You are not educating anybody. And so, when I think of social media marketing, my goal is first to be seen as a subject matter expert, and all I have to do is educate people and they say, dang Thomas knows that, maybe I do not and be like them, as the consumer. They do not understand it, but they at least know I am talking about it. And so, then I just stay in front of them over and over. They see me talking about equity comp, they see me talking about running a business, they see me talking about being an escort versus not. They see me talk about retirement accounts and tax planning. And then all of a sudden, their business hits an inflection point and they are like, man, I am making a lot, I am not doing any tax planning. I need help. Who am I going to go reach out to? Probably not the person who has been in their DM’s trying to sell them some product or force them to collaborate with them. They are going to go to the one person who they are like, he is given me a ton for free. He knows his stuff. I know he can solve my problem. Great, I am going to reach out to Thomas and that is really what happens. I think in this last week I have been getting a decent amount of hate on social that I am lying. People are like, there is no way you are getting the amount that you have. And this actually happened on LinkedIn yesterday from an advisor that I know pretty well. He's one of the first ones I reach out to, I sent him a video of, we have an application on our website. You can apply to work with us. I sent him a video for the last two months. But really the last three months, 52 qualified prospects that we allowed to book a meeting with us over the last three. Not a single one I am DMing. Not a single one. I asked them to meet. They literally go to my profile, go to our website, apply to work with us. We qualify them. I send it to my assistant, and we book a meeting and he is like, he went back. He was like, I am sorry, I was wrong. Thomas proved that. That is what he has done. It just sounds too good to be real. And I think we have just started to reach that point. And what excites me is this is only 12 months into, 12 to 15 months into working on Twitter. So now I am at this point of like, well, how are we going to scale if this is just always going to keep growing because I cannot bring on fifty-two clients in a quarter, anywhere close to it.
Jason: It is a great problem to have. So, by the way, this reminds me. I had a Deja vu here. It is going to show my age a little bit, but I spoke at one of the TD Ameritrade National conferences. This is probably 2010 or something like that. And it was because I had a really good year. I grew my assets really substantially on the TD platform. And so, they asked, how are you getting all this growth? And I said, well, I am doing it through a blog, right? And this was before anyone was blogging and it was a really unusual year. It was, if I recall correctly, it was about 69 and a half million. I remember it was just a hair under seventy million of new assets that came in in 12 months. And it all came from a blog, and it was actually just from a few blog posts, right? It was only four or five blog posts or something like that. So, I gave a session and I literally told people exactly how I did it, which interestingly what you are doing on Twitter, we can all see exactly what you are doing. So theoretically anybody could follow the same sort of formula if you will. But I went up and gave a presentation, hundreds of advisers were there and then somebody wrote an article, I do not know, investment news or somebody, right? And it was like, hey, this is this a packed session, this adviser no one's ever heard of is using a blog and getting all this business. The craziest part was there was an industry consultant that they also interviewed for this article, and he made the comment like, yes, there is no way he is actually getting all that business and if what he is doing was really working, he would never tell anybody how he is doing it. You know, he would hold that close, and I am thinking to myself, that is the strangest comment for someone to ever make. But anyway, so never mind the haters. Haters are going to hate. And it is actually pretty flattering that when you get to a point where you are bothering people and really, that is usually just a jealousy thing. People are mad because maybe they have sixteen initials after their name and all these credentials and yet they can't get 10 appointments a year and they're mad because you're getting 50 every couple of quarter. So, it is just the nature of success. The more successful you are and ironically sometimes it happens to really good people who are super open and sharing about how they did what they are doing, which I know you do all the time. You are very, very open about it. So, keep up the great work, never mind the haters. And, yes, it is just the nature of the success you are having.
Thomas: I think like two things to go on that. One of them being people doubt this or they say it does not work in our industry, but then you look at every other industry and this is how they do it, right? They use social media, every service, business, marketing, whatever, they use social to grow with clients. Our industry is just farther behind. Let us be honest, there is still a lot of places you cannot even use social media to post, which is honestly crazy to me. But either way I just feel if they do not want to believe it, then that is okay. And I have no problem sharing it. For one, I want to inspire people because all the messages I see as social does not work. But I have a group of people who are growing through social and doing it really well. So, I want to inspire people. I want to show people and do it. And the other one is most people are not going to be able to, it takes a lot of work. I schedule out three posts every single day and I probably post 3 to 5 more times myself. You have to have a lot of discipline to be willing to say I am going to post two hundred plus times every single month for years in a row. That is not that easy. You really have to have a system behind how to do it.
Desarte: What do you use for the system?
Thomas: Yes. So, I use HypeFury. I got it last February, which is my inflection point because I can go through there. I can see all my posts. I did really well, and I am a really big believer in repurposing. I think a lot of people do repurposing wrong. Repurposing is not every week posting that same quote you have; repurposing is here is what did well a few months ago. I had half the followers three months ago. These people still deserve to see my best content, right? And then, or I will go back, and I will see something. I will say I could nail this better. I like that but here is how I can dig deeper or here. I wrote a list of seven mistakes millennials make, let me turn it in a thread and actually go into why those are big mistakes or vice versa. I have a thread with all of those. Now, let us just turn it into a post and so I can just reuse and reedit, and as you grow, a lot of those people are not going to see it. And then, even if people have seen it, the odds that they remember your old content is really low and if they do remember your old content, I want, right? If you remember my post from four months ago, enough to say you already posted this, my content has to be really good.
Desarte: You got them really locked in, right? I want to talk about your anti selling philosophy, right? Well, I probably disagree because you are selling in a smart way, right? You are attracting, you are catering this content to a specific niche. Obviously, millennials is a very big kind of target audience. Talk to us about how you are curating this content with a specific person of mine.
Thomas: Yeah, I honestly feel like most of the content I create is I am going through a client case and here is something that we talked about, and I am like, most people do not really know this. And then the other realization too is you had a post the other day about like, hey, why do you think that you are going to beat the market when most hedge funds cannot? And you have the select people who are working in investments, they are like, oh, we can beat it and we can do this better. But what they fail to realize is like, the person that I am talking to is the average person who barely knows what an emergency fund is. A lot of these people are successful, but they have known nothing about finances. They have lucked their way to where they are. They have made plenty of mistakes. They do not know the right type of investment accounts. They do not know the insurances; they do not know the estate planning. So, I am retelling these basics over and over and over and over and over again and most advisers do not do that. They go to the deep stuff. They are using acronyms. They are talking about things that people have never even heard of. I have advisors engaging with me and I am looking things up that they are saying. My job is to be a teacher. When people come to me, my job is to make it feel like, hey, here is what you need to do, here is why and put it in a way that there is no way they could not understand this because I have explained it so well. And that is the way that I try to make my content. So, people always say I do not get how your content works, it is so simple, but they fail to realize that most people do not even know the basics. And so, if you are going past that, you have lost that, right? If somebody has to go Google an acronym, go Google a word, they are not, nobody's leaving Twitter to go Google your acronym. It just will not happen.
Desarte: Yes. So, I guess, you know, the thing that a lot of advisers struggle with as they, as they try to get on social and do what you are doing, is the other advisers that are coming to the post and trying to chime in or bash and you know, kind of tear them down. How do you deal with that because I see it a lot and I am almost feeling bad wanting to jump in the comments for you like, actually let, let this man live essentially, right? So how do you deal with that? How do you try to market and attract your ideal client?
Thomas: I mute a lot of people. I have no problem with somebody replying about the belief that is different than mine. If they are like, hey, here's why I think, you know, an HSA is not a higher on the list than a Roth IRA. And we are just talking, great. But if you come in and be like, you are the stupidest person I have ever heard. How could you think that it is like, why waste your time? And there are people who avoid Twitter because apparently the algorithm pushes negativity, that is what they say. But I do not really consume on Twitter that much. I follow maybe seven hundred people, almost all my time on Twitter is literally replying to people who are talking to me. So negative, mute, if they have a different viewpoint, I will talk to them. But I honestly, I don't respond to half the advisors. My job is not to be arguing with advisors or educating advisors. Really, my job is to be talking to consumers. And what I found is all of my clients never engage with me on social, all come from social, but they are just lurkers in the background. So, my focus really is, put the stuff out there. Let people come to me. If people disagree with me, then, you know, go create your own content around it. There is so many advisors who sit there and they like anything you talk about, they come in permanent insurance is great or whatever they do. It is like, and then you go to their profile, they have not posted a thing in six months. I am like, if you want to talk about this, go create your content, get off mine. And you know, I do not think there is necessarily a perfect way to manage it at all. But I feel like I have a good community of advisors who a lot of times come in and are like, I do not know what this person is talking about and they kind of push him away, which is cool to me honestly.
Desarte: No, obviously. Yes, that's dope. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the other things you are doing, right? Because I feel like Twitter is only one part of your content marketing process. You let out a tweet a couple of weeks ago and you had this is where I spend my time doing content marketing and then you have seven things, an order of priority that you went through in talking about that. So, first explain what that kind of order is and then explain the rationale behind why you have it ordered that way.
Thomas: So, what I will say is that I think a lot of them move together. My most devoted followers consume my podcast. They read my Twitter. They probably do not go to my blog because I post my blog as a thread. And then they are on my newsletter. So, I always say, if I only did one, it would be Twitter, no doubt. I mean, of my fifty-two qualified prospects, forty-nine of them at least are Twitter, right? Everybody is coming from Twitter, but my hierarchy would be Twitter first because I think you can just post the most there. You can evaluate things; it does not have to be polished. It is really thoughts. Number two for me would be my newsletter really only because of owning the channel and owning the distribution. I am not somebody who pretends that if Elon drives Twitter to be nothing, I will have to pivot. But I also think I could basically figure out almost any social media platform. I have learned how to create the content for each platform. Third would be my podcast because I think that you can go into really deep things that you cannot elsewhere. And my most devoted people are definitely listening to my podcast. Then I would go LinkedIn and how I use LinkedIn is I probably spend five minutes a week on LinkedIn and all I do is on Monday, I will go look at my last week of Twitter and what were my five best posts by views, impressions, likes, et cetera. And I just schedule those out. So, I keep it really, really simple there and I do not do YouTube right now simply because of time. I am like, if I can spend a quarter of the time on Twitter than YouTube and get all these people, why spend my time there. But I think if I went back, and I said Twitter is not working YouTube would be the first place that I would go because it has a good search. People go there to learn and if you go to LinkedIn, you cannot find anything I have talked about, right? You have to scroll my page forever and ever and ever. Twitter, you have a little bit better search but not good. But that is why I keep my blog. Is that like, hey, somebody wants to learn what about Roth IRA is great. I have a blog about that. Hey, do you want to learn about how you think about the hierarchy of accounts? Great. I have one about that. You want to learn about life insurance. Great. I have that one. It is just a really easy place to search and find what I have put out.
Jason: You talking about the time. So, just out of curiosity, how much time are you spending on content marketing, using all these channels? So, Twitter podcast newsletter, et cetera.
Thomas: I would say on average five hours a week. I think that surprises people. I was just on vacation, and I am not a sit and read books all vacation when I am by the pool. So, every day I was like, I am going to do one hour of content, and this was the end of January 1st week of February. I have my Twitter scheduled through June. I spent four hours, and I got 5.5 months of Twitter scheduled. I think that if you just hop on and throw a post is way less than like, I am in a flow of, of content. My brain is going. So, I basically do one Friday afternoon a month. I schedule out at least a month worth of Twitter. And then, LinkedIn scheduled that in about five max minutes a week. The podcast. I keep it really simple. I am like, hey, I want to bring on Desarte to talk about working with business owners. I do not practice at all any questions. He comes up, I just take him through a conversation. I go to garage band, have the front in the end in there. I just drop it in there. Listen to it one time while I am on a walk and find the one clip, put it in feed, get the words. I mean, my podcast takes me an hour a week and that is probably the most time consuming and then I spend some time replying on Twitter, meeting ends. Let us see there and half the time I cannot reply because there is too much to scroll through. But people see how much I do, and they are like, that has to be his whole life and it is not, but I also would not mind it. I do not know necessarily exactly where the business is going to go. But what I love the most is meeting with people, growing the business, and creating content. And so that is what I am building, right? If I go work at a big firm, I am told my role. If I am running my business, I am building my role and I want to build the role that every day I am excited to do the financial planning, but I do not really love reading every page of the estate documents or every page of the equity comp documents, but there are people who do. And so that is who I am hiring to take away the things that take away my energy.
Desarte: Can we talk about that? So how do you allocate your time? Obviously, you just told us a social media breakdown, but there is a portion of the business that requires your attention. You are going to have to meet with clients, you are going to have to meet with those prospects, walk us through the process. Now, you have gone through the whole Twitter thing. You have your devoted and most engaged followers on the podcast. They want to collaborate with you. They apply. Thank you for giving me that suggestion because that has been very beneficial for my business, able to pre-qualify people before meeting with them. Now, what happens next? How much time are you spending nurturing those relationships and making sure that you have a lifelong client?
Thomas: Yes. So basically, as soon as that happens, I get the application, I send it to my assistant and say good fit or bad fit. If it is a bad fit, she sends them referrals. If it is a good fit, then she goes and books the meeting and right now I basically do it where I have one new prospect a day, but now we are getting to be too many that I have to do about two a day. My time is basically every morning, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday client work and whatever content I have to do. And then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, all afternoons are loaded with meetings. And then Friday, I have my study group and I get more work done. So, I also have a CFP on staff for all my new clients. He does all of the analysis in the background and then I take it and craft it into the plan and the story that I want to take the client through. But then I do all of my ongoing client work myself, which is where my next hire is coming on. So, my part time CFP, he owns his own firm. He was like, this is a great transition point as he grows his. So now when I bring on my next hire, he is going to help train him, prep him in all the work that he does. And then my friend’s going to be full time and he will be able to do all the ongoing planning work as well. So, my job is really like, let us go over strategy together, you do all the rest of the work. And then I come in and deliver this to the clients, meet with the clients and that is really what I am building towards and should be there by the end of the year.
Jason: This is uh a glimpse into how my head works. So, I am doing this math, some calculus here in my head, rewinding the fifty-two prospects. That was over what time period?
Thomas: A quarter.
Jason: So that is one quarter. Ok. So, let us do some, some live math on the podcast, see how math works, right? So just hypothetically if I am spending five hours a week and let us just say, hypothetically, I am valuing my time at $500 an hour. So, my cost if you will is 2500 bucks a week and I did that, that is ten grand a month, you know, thirty grand a quarter, roughly, let us call it. So, that is six hundred dollars per highly qualified prospect, right? Reaching out inbound to you to get on your calendar. And it sounds like you are outsourcing a bit of the qualification, the front-end load of the planning work. We do not have to go through the hyper kind of details here. But I am just going to speculate that. That is just again, a couple $100 worth per new client or something like that. But this is to say these are killer unit economics, I guess for an adviser that is listening and they are wondering because if I am going out and I am paying for leads from smart asset or something, I am probably paying a lot more for someone who a lot is less qualified. They do not know you at all. You are just a stranger. They have used someone else's content to become a lead. Now you have to go compete with maybe two or three other advisors, prove who you are, your value, all these other things. So, it is just really, really interesting for those who play the card of oh, this must take a ton of time. It is a commitment, you are committed to it just like people would be of any other business development exercise, which is part of being an entrepreneur, does not matter who you are. That is something that you have to do. But the economics are really, really good and presumably your payback is pretty fast because my thing is once they sign on, you are charging up a fee for them to actually collaborate with you. So, it is not like I have to do six months of free work to hopefully get a sale. Instead, it is you who make them commit to hire you. You do the work and…
Thomas: Yes, we do not do any of the prework. I know advisors are like, let me prove my value. And then you come on, I mean, our minimum fee is $750 a month right now. So, $9000 a year, we highlight that before they apply. Here is your minimum fee to make sure that they know that that is what they could afford. So, it is not like we are doing the $99 a month type of thing to get people in which I think makes it a little bit better as well because I want to be really integrated in these clients life. I want to do good planning. I do not want it to be somebody that we meet with once a year and, and barely do anything. That is just like I did not get a whole lot of value and enjoyment out of that side of it. So, I think you do make a great point and our conversion rates are higher from content than if we get a referral from anybody else. CPA referral from a client, they do not know us. The people who come in from content are like, I know you, I just need to know what does this look like? And can I afford that? Which makes it easier because I do not have to prove the value.
Jason: How many clients are you? So, of the fifty-two in a quarter, how many will actually sign on then and become long term clients?
Thomas: So, it depends on the quarter of the year. So, this first quarter, I will limit it only two new a month because every annual review. So, I have fifty ongoing clients of annual reviews. And then we do April, May, we do all of the tax strategy reviews. We get their tax returns, come up tax strategy of the year and then this summer, I will probably scale it four a month because now I'll have two part time planners with me because I'm bringing somebody else on. As he scales to be full time and try to grow really, really fast. Last year, we did almost one a week, almost the whole year as we built that up. Because when I started, I mean, I had $3000 a month of revenue when I left Justin's. It is not like I was this whole built firm; I was restarting from scratch. And when we started, my models were 150, 200, 250 a month. And now we are at 750 a minimum because we just keep getting so many people coming in that I was talking about this. Somebody else this last week is like, I almost view myself more on a tech firm side where I am like, can we have an idea? Can we draw a ton of people in, and then can we figure out what the best product and changes are needed to serve that audience? That is what I am really trying to do. And so, I just keep raising fees to figure out what our product market fit is. But then we are going to have the lagging indicator of, do people stay on at that fee too? And we are going to evaluate it and we are going to figure it out and 27 years old in, in a spot where I am really happy with that. I am ok with trying to figure a lot of this out still.
Jason: Well, the math works, by the way. Yes, because it is interesting, I would say, the best tech companies in the world, right? When they are thinking of how they grow their own businesses, these are usually the companies that have the best economics of any type of business of which you can think. If they can get their pay back under 12 months, that is considered very good. Under six months is best in class. And so, in your world that would mean, hey, do I earn enough in fees to recover the cost of acquisition within six months? You are in my head, I am doing, you are in the 3-to-4-month range, you would be better than the best-in-class sort of like software and tech companies in the world. And it is just a different approach though. But it is like highly effective and so super stoked to kind of see how you scale this because if you can keep adding these levers to allow to on board more people, still deliver high quality work, right? I mean, you have a really incredibly powerful growth engine that to have built this in basically a year and a half or less, I mean, is remarkable. Very few advisers will ever get to this level of economics in their business. You know, it is incredibly impressive. So, hope people are paying attention because it is also fully built in public, right? All the stuff you do advisers can consume and rather than hate they can learn.
Thomas: And I have office hours for advisors that we talk through all of this every time. I have a little over two hundred advisors on a newsletter that show up once a month and I really do want to help other people see it, do it. I talk about it, I will talk about the failures, the pain points. I am learning at the same time, and I have no problem with other people learning through it as well.
Jason: That's super exciting.
Desarte: What are three things that advisers could do if they wanted to replicate the success or try their hand at social media and content marketing? What are three things that you would recommend that they do?
Thomas: Yes. Ok. So, this is like multiple parts but part one is really, who do you want to work with? Figure out what social media platform they are on and figure out how you create that platform like Twitter is going to be short form and threads, right? No links at all. LinkedIn, maybe you can have a couple of links but LinkedIn, you need to do at least once a day, Twitter, you need to probably do multiple times a day to do it. But I feel like figure out just one lane. I think so many advisors are like I am launching, I am going to do six things and, I do not know, we can all attest when you are trying to do six things, you probably are going to be super average at six. You are better off being excellent at one thing and then being ok at six things. So, that is definitely the first one, second one is, put a very realistic timeline in your head. People think content, they think social, and they think 3 to 6 months, I'm going to get clients. It is not going to happen. For me, I got my first prospect when I was with Justin, nine months in and, you know, maybe I think on twelve, I had seven and I was just ecstatic. This is insane and the quality was lower than the quality is now. But I know a lot of people who are a year or two years in, and they are just now starting to get a few prospects come in thinking it is going to be the same as when you launch your firm. It is going to take you a couple of years to really hit a point where you are happy about. And if you come in thinking that it will be easier to keep going every day because you know that expectation thing, if you expect three months and it is not there, you are giving up. I am going to stick with. Those are the two most impactful that people can walk away with.
Desarte: Awesome. Awesome Thomas. Well, I am not going to let you go until we do a rapid-fire questions. So, I hope you are ready for this. All right, I will ask you the first question. Number one. What is the most interesting thing that you have read this week?
Thomas: I am less of a reader, more of a podcaster. So, I have been really diving deep into the Founders podcast. I do not know if you guys have heard about it, but he basically, he got me in because he had dinner with Charlie Munger and basically was sharing all the story. And it is really interesting that, you know, we can see these inflection points in people of, hey, they were not all successful at 20 or 30 or whatever. They took a lot of time, a lot of figuring it out and they really dig deep into the story of before they were the successful person they were. And I think as I build a business and I work with a lot of these people, we all expect success early, we see all these people, we want to be them. But I understand that there's just not straight high points. There are going to be plenty of low points, plenty of failures, you are going to lose clients, but that is all part of it. And sometimes those are the things that you need to have happen to make the changes to get to that point that you can get to.
Jason: All right, and we normally ask this question, but we already asked it. So, I am going to skip forward and ask a self-serving one. By the way, what I am skipping is what are three things an adviser could do, but you already give us some stuff, right? So, skipping forward. What is your current tech stack? You talked a little bit about your social media stack, but what are some other things that you guys use to power AllStreet?
Thomas: People actually are very surprised by this, but we bring people on, we have Wright Capital, very, very normal. That's for all of our clients, whether they just get a financial plan or ongoing and then when they flip to ongoing after we get that plan in place and help them start to implement it, we put them on to Elements and what I found is the problem and what stops me from doing the best work is not having the data in front of me at all times. I cannot prep a week or two ahead of time of these client reviews because the data is not there. And so, Elements is on your phone, it is going to every quarter at a minimum be here is what is broken to get your quarterly update. So, it gives me all that data. I can create the one-page financial plans inside of there. And so, I really, really love how we are using it really just for client data. And so after every meeting, they can walk away with a plan because all I think about with this is what should be your focus over the next 3, 6, 9, 12 months that will best set you up to your long term goals and get away from the 30 years from now and focus on the short term of what we just need to do and it's way easier to manage. Obviously, use Altruist for all of our clients. You know, we had TD, we still have a few there but moving everybody over actually. I think we have been using Altruist for three years now. So, I was back to the point where you had to get reimbursed for using Chase for the wire fees all the way back to then. And then obviously, AdvicePay and Holistiplan for tax planning. But those are the key ones that I feel really help us serve our clients well. And then we create our plans in Canva, which is, I think, very different too.
Desarte: That's awesome. Last question for you before Jason closes this out. What is a new hobby that you started recently?
Thomas: A new hobby? Well, last year I got really into golf, and I grew up playing at a country club and I had the fundamentals down, but I just hated it forever. I just felt like it was a job and then last year, I got the bug, and I heard you actually talk about this on the last podcast where you started to get lessons. And it is just a great way to unwind, be outside. And do something with your friends. As you get out of college, you need to find those things that are not just drinking and going to the bars, that are something fun to do. And this is something our friend group has really rallied behind.
Jason: All right. Well, and by my fellow golfers as well. So, yes, we have three. We only need one more to get going. Well, thanks so much for joining us, man. This has been a ton of fun. It is kind of overdue, but I am glad we waited a while because your trajectory is so incredibly impressive that it is like every two months of deferring this conversation, you are probably uncovering entirely new learnings that people can take away from. I am certainly super impressed. So, thanks a ton for joining us. Desarte, as always ton of fun hanging out with you too. For everybody who is listening, make sure you subscribe. You know, we are building content here at Altruist and this is part of our content strategy, right? We would love you to be part of this journey. So, whatever your favorite podcasting platform is, make sure you subscribe. You can like, follow us, et cetera and make sure that you if you like what you see, make sure you share it with people in the industry, especially advisors that are in the emerging or scale up phases that would really benefit from stories like Thomas and others. That is one of the best ways we can give back to others in the industry. So that will do it today. On behalf of my co-host Desarte, Thomas, our guest. This is Jason Wenk signing off from the Advisor Journey.
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