Sten Morgan Interview [Episode 98]

Being able to deliver a ton of value in the first few meetings with a potential client is crucial for finding success, but it’s also about the way you deliver it. In this episode, Matt sits down to chat with Sten Morgan, a fellow financial advisor who has developed a method for rapid success. You will hear Sten’s best tips and insight on delivering massive value and triggering massive growth.

Listen in as Sten shares how he quantifies his value to clients in a way that demonstrates how his services cover the fee that clients pay. You will learn how he sets up meetings and proposals with new clients and why it’s so important to share information with clients that they don’t hear elsewhere. Sten also discusses understanding your own value, developing a relationship with CPAs, and more.

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:

  • What fee compression is and how Sten implements it.
  • How Sten sets up initial client meetings.
  • The value of delivering your best tips up front.
  • The biggest fear many clients have.
  • Why Sten decided to write a book giving away his best tactics.
  • The importance of understanding your value.
  • Why you don’t have to be fee-only.

Ideas Worth Sharing:

If you avoid discomfort, success will avoid you in return. – Sten Morgan Click To Tweet We try to go back after our first or second meeting where we propose our planning fee with at least one, two, or three ideas that are going to cover our fee. – Sten Morgan Click To Tweet Just because it’s virtual, it doesn’t mean that you have to charge less. Your advice is just as valuable. – Sten Morgan Click To Tweet

Resources In Today’s Episode:

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Read the Transcript Below:

This is The Perfect RIA, in case you didn’t know. Bringing you all the strategies to help your business grow. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Sit back and listen in while you feel the beat. Another myth bites the dust…

Matthew Jarvis:   Welcome to another episode of The Perfect RIA Podcast. I am your co-host, Matthew Jarvis. And, I left Micah behind today and instead I have, though, maybe you’ve not heard of him yet, but to me, the legendary Sten Morgan. Sten, how are you today?

Sten Morgan:      I’m good bud, thanks for having me.

Matthew Jarvis:   I’m glad to have you. It’s really fun, your publicist reached out to us and we get people that try to come on the podcast all the time. And, most people lead with like, “Hey, I’m pretty cool, I want to be on the podcast.” But, your publicists was very clear like, “Here’s the things that Sten is doing that are awesome and we think that they’ll deliver value to your audience.” And so really, I’d love to jump into some of these awesome things that you’re doing, Sten, in your practice.

Sten Morgan:      You bet. Now, I’m excited to share it.

Matthew Jarvis:   Awesome. Well, let’s start right away with fee compression, which is a topic that Micah and I rant on all the time, right. Our belief is that there’s only fee compression and an absence of value; instead, in addition to standard AUM fees, you’re charging a pretty significant planning fee either in addition to AUM fees or totally separately. Tell us a little bit about that.

Sten Morgan:      You bet. Yeah. I started that journey little over four years ago, where I looked around at the business and I said, “It feels like most of us, advisors, are going after the same clients.” And, I was 29 at the time. So, obvious obstacles to advisors that have had great client retention. I’m trying to pick them off and people just like their advisors, and that’s a lot of times what they base their decision off of.

Matthew Jarvis:   For sure.

Sten Morgan:      And I said, “There has to be a segment of the population that is not operating that way.” And as I looked and I asked around, I realized there’s business owners worth $30 million. Real estate developers, they could make so much money in other investments, that if somebody tried to talk to them about a mutual fund or an insurance policy, they hang up on them every time.

Matthew Jarvis:   Well, totally.

Sten Morgan:      So, I looked around-

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. If they’re used to getting, doubling their assets, tripling, quadrupling it on land deals, right. You telling them, “They can get eight to 10% on a mutual fund, over time, no interest in that.

Sten Morgan:      No thanks, yeah. You get your call screen really fast. And so, as I looked around, I actually went to a conference. I spent 900 bucks to fly to this conference, attend it. And in a breakout session this advisor said, “We charge every client that walks in our door, a financial planning fee.” And, that was the opposite of what I did at Raymond James and all the other firms I was with growing up in the business.

                  And so, it kind of made me uncomfortable, but I was like, “Okay, there’s probably something to this, let’s explore it.” So, I went back to the team and we started building this process. And, I think the first year we did two or three, maybe one was for 1500 and total, maybe we made 12 grand.

Matthew Jarvis:   Sure.

Sten Morgan:      And in our fourth full year of it, we’ll hit close to half a million in fees this year alone.

Matthew Jarvis:   Wow. Okay. So, just to be clear. So just in planning fees, separate from AUM fees, you’re going to earn approximately half a million dollars of revenue for that.

Sten Morgan:      Yeah. We may fall a little shy of that goal based on kind of a crazy year, but close to that, yeah.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. It’s a bit of an odd year. Of course, this was recorded before… Actually we were recording this right in the middle of the elections trying to be decided. So yeah, crazy year for sure. Now these fees, this isn’t like a thousand people paying you 50 bucks each, you’re charging a premium fee here.

Sten Morgan:      That’s right. Our minimum fee has worked its way up to 4,000 a year.

Matthew Jarvis:   Okay.

Sten Morgan:      And, that’s pretty standard. Hey, financial planning, we’d get a couple meetings a year, some proactive touch points all the way up to where we had a client paying us eight grand a month at one time. Those bigger fees are usually business owners.

Matthew Jarvis:   Sure.

Sten Morgan:      Complex needs. And, they’re deducting some of that fee, which feels good for them. But-

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah.

Sten Morgan:      … that market we’re uncovering is, there’s no way we will ever be able to tap all of it, because there’s so many people willing to pay for advice. Because, if you can position the value prop and you say, “Hey, your advisor is not going to get paid just by selling you things, I’m going to give you the best ideas because you’re paying for my time.” Once you position it well, the light bulb goes off for most of those clients.

Matthew Jarvis:   So, that’s interesting Sten. So, there’s got to be dozens, hundreds, thousands of advisors out there saying that, “They’re fee-only,” that are charging hourly fees, retainer fees. A lot of these are pretty small and a lot of them aren’t getting any traction. So, how is it that you’re able to come to the table and say, “Hey, it’s four grand a year, it could be four grand a month?” How do you demonstrate that kind of value that people are willing to write that cheque?

Sten Morgan:      Yep, the magic is in quantifying the value as quickly as possible. Which means, if I can sit down with somebody and share two or three ideas with them, and put a dollar value to that advice that’s already exceeds what they’re going to pay, you’ve done it. At that point, it’s not a sale. It’s okay. Well, what else you got? Because, everything beyond that point is icing on the cake for them.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, no kidding.

Sten Morgan:      And so, we’ve gotten really good at identifying, hey, if you make this change… And, I’ll give you an example.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, please.

Sten Morgan:      If I bring up an issue for a client and I tell them, “Hey, if I go in your portfolio and reduce your internal expenses and save you $3,000 this year,” that’s meaningful, but I wouldn’t classify that as a big problem for that client. Life is happening-

Matthew Jarvis:   Especially … fee is four grand for the year, that’s not… Its like we’re even, yeah.

Sten Morgan:      Yeah, it’s not going to cut it. So, what we have to do is quantify that. We also might say, “Hey, that’s 3000 this year, but over the next 10 years, that’s a $30,000 problem.” All a sudden that’s on their radar. So, we got to really show the client the extent of the things they’re probably ignoring or not getting to. We’ll look at some tax strategies. So, we have CPAs we’ll partner with. We try to go back after our first or second meeting when we propose our planning fee with at least one, two or three ideas that are going to cover our fee.

Matthew Jarvis:   And, you’re being really specific to your example on this fee example of saying, “Here’s the actual dollar amount.” So not, “Hey, I think you should do backdoor Roth contributions. I’m just picking something kind of arbitrary. You’re saying, “Hey, doing this year after a year for the next 10 years is going to add up to $47,000 in tax savings and you’re going to pay us five.”

Sten Morgan:      Yep. At that point they’re like… And, I think the fear advisors have, and I used to think this way, is that if I give them those ideas too soon, they’re not going to pay my fee and they’re going to go do it anyways. And, there’s a great book by Patrick Lencioni called Getting Naked. So don’t just Google it, go to Amazon.

Matthew Jarvis:   But don’t Google Getting Naked, incognito mode.

Sten Morgan:      But-

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s funny.

Sten Morgan:      … the book is powerful because it talks about this boutique consulting firm competing against the giants. And, the thing that made them differences is that when I first met with a client, they didn’t give their spiel, they didn’t talk about their three legged stool or… They just started giving away their best ideas.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah.

Sten Morgan:      And, what’s amazing is people don’t take it and run away, some might. But what happens is they say, “That’s so valuable, what else do you have? So, they know there’s going to be more.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. That’s really impressive. And again, I love that we talk all the time on the podcast about delivering massive value. And, it seems like every time you do that, and to your point, giving away advice, it comes back in spades. So, when you are approaching prospects, I guess, at what point are they starting to pay you, versus when you’re giving them the advice?

Sten Morgan:      We try to get to that, obviously there’s a balance between, hey, if they sense too much urgency, there’s probably a feeling of like, “I’m being sold here.” “Why do they need the money?”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yep.

Sten Morgan:      And so, the feeling we give is, “Hey, here’s a strategy meeting, here’s some great ideas.” That’s probably one or two meetings in, before we feel like we have enough information to say, “Hey, here’s what it looks like on a monthly basis.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah.

Sten Morgan:      So I mean, most of the time that’s within two to four weeks that we’re able to quantify it, get it, propose it. And a lot of times they say, “When do we get started?”

Matthew Jarvis:   So, are you then not charging for those two initial meetings?

Sten Morgan:      No. I think that’s the cost of doing business for us. We have to be willing to say, “Hey…” Because, there’s also a chance we go through those two meetings and it’s not a good fit.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah.

Sten Morgan:      I mean, I’m sure at your point in your career, you say, “Hey, there’s people I want to work with and there’s people I don’t.” And so I want to say, “Hey, we have a short list, we don’t onboard everybody.” “And so, through this process, we’re going to see if we’re a good fit for each other.” All of a sudden, there’s kind of a scarcity there and people didn’t want to be anymore. But-

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally.

Sten Morgan:      … as you go through that process, I think you need to spend enough time to get enough information, so it doesn’t seem like you came into the meeting with the ideas already ready. I know when I was at some other firms in the past, I knew, “Hey, here are my four products that I can get paid on.

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s right, yeah.

Sten Morgan:      Somehow I’m going to plug these in.

Matthew Jarvis:   They’re going to fit no matter what.

Sten Morgan:      And, I think the client sense that. Now when I go into our whiteboard meetings, most clients leave ours are saying, “I’ve never had a meeting like that before, because you just blew my mind.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. I apologize. I’m so excited because I’m hearing these great ideas from you. So, you’re not bringing a big pitch book out, you’re not bringing some money guide pro presentation. And, I’m not trying to pick on them, but we see so many advisors that bring out this generic stuff and it looks like every other advisor that’s come along.

Sten Morgan:      That’s right. And in our first two meetings, and this is something I’ve put together in some courses we can talk about later-

Matthew Jarvis:   Love too.

Sten Morgan:      … is gather as much data as you can, ask the best questions you can. Because sometimes for me, it’s the smallest thing that I could pause on in a meeting and really explore. They may say, “Hey, I’ve always wanted to buy real estate, but I don’t know how, but let’s talk about that.” Oh, and then I tell them, “Oh, do you know that you can use a self-directed IRA to buy real estate?” They’re like, “What is that?”

                  That’s one thing that most people never heard of. So even if they don’t do it, the fact that I am the first one to tell them about it-

Matthew Jarvis:   Love that.

Sten Morgan:      … I’m already an expert to them. Or I’d say, “Well, you have $500,000 of equity in your house that’s doing nothing for you, right.” Because, your house is going to appreciate the same, regardless of if you have a mortgage or not. What if you took 300,000 of that and bought two rental properties. And they’re like, I never thought about using equity in my house. And so it’s just this conversation that all of a sudden, I haven’t talked about one product, one mutual fund, my team and fee structure yet for the first two meetings, I’m literally just overwhelming them with. I’ve never heard that before, but that sounds great. And, by the time you get to the point where you’re saying, “Oh, by the way, to keep working with us, it’s this, and I’ve already showed you three ideas that more than pay for this.” You’ve done it at that point, the sale doesn’t even need to happen.

Matthew Jarvis:   I love that. I want to pull out a big takeaway here that you mentioned this briefly, but you’re telling them things that other advisors haven’t told them. And, it’s not that other advisors don’t necessarily know about that. They just, either they’re not allowed to, because they’re in a big firm that won’t let them talk about pulling equity out of the house. Or even, and I think to your point Sten, even if that’s not necessarily going to be the best idea for the client, just making them aware of, “Hey, we’re also thinking about this strategy that no one you’ve talked to before has done it.” And, maybe we’ll decide it’s a terrible idea to pull equity of your house or maybe we won’t. But, I just want you to know we’re thinking of that in this process.

Sten Morgan:      Yep. Because, the biggest fear for a lot of these clients is someday they’re going to realize they did something wrong.

Matthew Jarvis:   Sure.

Sten Morgan:      And a lot of times, they come into meeting with us realizing, “I wish I had did something a little bit different or better.” And so, if I can start giving them the feeling like, “Wow, they’re going to help me avoid those, wish I knew it sooner moments, or a voice of financial regrets.” You’re an advisor at that point. You’re not a salesperson, because they’ll quickly sniff out, “Hey, this is different than every other meeting I’ve had.”

                  And, I have buddies that the insurance companies and the big wirehouse firms, that stuff is valuable and needed.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally.

Sten Morgan:      But, the clients we’re talking to, are ones that want the consultant advisor experience. And, they know you’ll use the products at some point.

Matthew Jarvis:   Sure.

Sten Morgan:      But in return, to run a successful business, I have to tell them, “For this unique experience, to get our best stuff, you’re going to have to pay us for our time.” And for the right client, they’ll take it. And 12 months in, most of the time, they’re like, “We don’t know what we do without you, because we run everything by you.” “Every decision we make now, we do with more confidence because somebody that’s not trying to sell us something is in our corner, kind of giving us good advice and guidance.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. Especially when people at that level of success, they’re being sold by everybody. Right. They’ve got their mortgage broker and their realtor everybody’s pitching them deals. Everybody’s trying to sell them stuff. Right. And, and where else do they turn to actually extend this as authentic question for you? Where else do you see these clients or prospects turning to their advice or turning for advice? I don’t really see them able to go anywhere. Right? Most CPAs do not give good business advice and that’s not to disrespect the CPA industry. They’re just not trained for that. I mean, most of these entrepreneurs literally have nowhere else to go for a sounding board. That’s not have another, it doesn’t have another edge there, another angle.

Sten Morgan:      That’s right. Yeah. And to be honest, it’s usually the CPA, that’s who they think of. But CPAs love when we get involved, the attorneys. Because they’re like, it’s like the fact that we can push those questions off to somebody else, because some CPAs tried to answer, probably questions they shouldn’t and they don’t really want too. And so if you do this well, you become this confidant kind of right hand of the client, that then is interacting with the CPA. The risk you run, because it could be a fairly labor intensive, as we’ve gotten better at setting expectations upfront, saying, “Hey, here is two tier models.” “This one, you get more time, this one, you get less time.” It’s not all or nothing.

Matthew Jarvis:   Sure.

Sten Morgan:      But also, when we say, “Here’s what the fee is going to be and helping them quantify it.” So setting good expectations, but then also seeing that through, so it doesn’t consume you, you got to have good boundaries. Because all of us want to over-serve clients. And if all of a sudden, they’re calling us once a week because we didn’t help set good expectations, you can end up losing money and you got to avoid that.

Matthew Jarvis:   Sten, now I want to pivot just a little bit. Now that you’ve reached this great pinnacle in your career, you’ve started kind of teaching other advisors, right. And you and I were talking about this before the call about, we’ve both learned from coaches and from people who were advisors 10 years ago, who would talk to a lot of advisors. But, it’s not the same as getting advice from someone who’s actually in the trenches. So, what I want to ask you specific to that, and we’ll go on a whole tangent on this.

                  Does this same approach of giving away all this value, really showing people big problems, does that apply to niches other than multi-million dollar entrepreneurs? Does it apply to the millionaire next door? Does it apply to someone that has a dentist niche? How widely is this applicable in your mind?

Sten Morgan:      I think it applies to everyone, if you position it well, and obviously, to a different degree. And, all of us have to decide what kind of advisor we want to be and what kind of practice we want to run. Even if you want to continue to be the advisor that makes most, or all their compensation off of managing assets or selling insurance, you need to know this exists.

Matthew Jarvis:   Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sten Morgan:      I would challenge your listeners if they’re that way or to say, “What if I came in behind you, how different would the client experience be?” Or somebody that thinks… Because if all of a sudden, within 10 minutes, I can reveal to every piece of advice ever given was tied to a product, that’s challenging. And so, our product, we’ve been able to apply that. And, we’ve actually built out a virtual model now for that, to where people can pay us. Because, we want our pool to be the U.S. There’s no reason you have to be down the street in Nashville from me.

                  And so, we have doctors in Atlanta paying us four grand a year, to have two phone calls with them. Just because it’s virtual doesn’t mean you should charge less, your advice is just as valuable. But you do have to tell that client, “Here’s why it’s worth 4,000,” and probably a lot more. And so then, we have some advisors on my team that charged 2,500 bucks a year.

Matthew Jarvis:   Sure.

Sten Morgan:      If you set good expectations and you do two meetings with them, and maybe one check-in phone call, and help them review their benefits once a year, that’s still probably 400 bucks an hour you’re getting paid, if you deliver it well.

Matthew Jarvis:   I like that. So I love it. You’ve got this balance here. So for the four grand a year, you’re not saying I’m going to call them every month, which I really would just sort of become annoying to them. Right. But let’s talk a little bit more about this. So this idea like, hey, if Sten, if I meet with a prospect and then their next meeting is with Sten, if he’s going to be able to say, Hey, listen, Jarvis just pitched you. These mutual funds that every other advisor pitched you. I always like to remind advisors, like if you’re saying the same thing that every other advisor is saying, you’re not going to win that. The big shops, the Merrill’s, whoever, they’re going to win that because they have the fancier office. They have the bigger marketing budget. You and I don’t have a marketing budget. We have to come in and deliver. That’s our only chance of winning here.

Sten Morgan:      Oh yeah, definitely. And, and as a young advisor I had to, when I got a plate appearance, I had to hit it. Like, I couldn’t afford to miss out on good prospects because I wasn’t having a lot, as I was building my practice. So I had to say, “My close rate had to be like 90%,” or else I was going to be on that same 30 year path in this business. And I was like, “I didn’t want to do that.” When I left to start legacy, three years later recognized one of the top advisors in the country.

Matthew Jarvis:   Wow.

Sten Morgan:      And most of us kind of said, “Hey, it’s going to be a grind, kind of keep your head down.” I was like, “I had a family, kids.” I couldn’t afford to take the long path.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah.

Sten Morgan:      I needed to expedite it. But in order to do that, you have to think differently.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally. I’m still, I keep going back to this bill to deliver so much value in these meetings and people just saying, “Great, I get this, I’m ready to pay for this value. I love that so much.

Sten Morgan:      Yeah.

Matthew Jarvis:   Let’s talk about some of the work you’re doing now for other advisors. In fact, you were even gotten a book or an ebook, What I Wish I Knew Sooner for Advisors. And, I think you and I have talked about this a little bit, like all the things we wish we would’ve known a couple of years ago, even this idea of delivering massive value, like never lead with product, never lead with investments, never lead with any kind of pitch just with value. But tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing.

Sten Morgan:      Yeah, no, I’m excited for that book to launch. Hopefully be here soon the next month or so, but it’s really just kind of giving those ideas away. You know, I think the pool is big enough for all of us that if there’s, if it’s kind of my younger self 10 years ago and would have given me a resource to say, Hey, here are the 15 things that if I would’ve known sooner, my career would be different. One. I think it helps with advisor retention our business. Totally. I think the average age of advisors now is 55 plus. So this is a problem we have to help solve. Like how do we get advisors to come in and stay? And I’ve met some awesome advisors, great technicians. They just weren’t great prospectors. And that was the only reason they didn’t stay in the business. So it’s like, well, let’s help them.

                  Let’s help them fix those things. And so, trying to give those ideas away as I was sitting down in 2020 with some extra downtime and say, “Okay, what do I want to do next with any free time I have.” And then, the feeling of helping advisors be successful and the ripple effect of that got me fired up. And so, kind of writing this book, giving me great ideas, I’m interviewing hundreds of advisors saying, “Hey, what are your moments?” Because, Sten has an experience, but it’s like, “Hey, here’s some best ideas from other top advisors around the country.” I’m probably going to have some of your stuff in there too. But I mean, I think it’s just good ideas we need to share with people. And again, it’s the same thing I do with my clients. If I give that value away, I think what we create is just a community of top advisors that are making each other better.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. And like you said, there’s, there is no shortage of clients available and there’s a huge shortage of advisors. And your point is valid. I’ve met lots of advisors, really technically astute advisors. And they don’t know how to prospect because where do you learn it? Right. You and I have both been bombarded with self-proclaimed experts who have all these sales techniques. And then you say, great, how big is your practice? And they say, well, I don’t actually have a practice. Or my practice was so good. I sold it 15 years ago. And now I tell advisors how to do it. It’s like, wait, if you haven’t met with a client in 15 years, I got to be honest. You really have no idea what it’s like. Whereas I would imagine you’re doing client meetings probably this week or this month as we’re talking.

Sten Morgan:      Oh yeah, definitely. Yeah. So, I think-

Matthew Jarvis:   We’re still bringing on new assets and the whole thing.

Sten Morgan:      Yeah. And the quantifying value, kind of the cost to clients is important, but also to advisors. I help them realize that, “Hey, you’re worth more than you think you are.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah.

Sten Morgan:      But, you just need to have realized your value, and you need to learn how to communicate that value. Because, I think a lot of advisors do lean too heavy on a relationship.

Matthew Jarvis:   Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sten Morgan:      Because that works. It’s like, “I’ve known this person for 20 years, they go to my church, they go to my kid’s school.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah.

Sten Morgan:      The risk there is that when I got really good at quantifying value, one of my best clients now I took from Merrill Lynch 10 years ago, because I was able to sit down and give them awesome ideas, save them, I think 150 grand.

                  And, they’d never heard of it before. So, they still love Merrill Lynch, but they’re not going to stay with Merrill Lynch if it costs them 150 grand. So, I think the challenge of advisors is, hey, know your client’s, relationship is great. But if you have a hard time prospecting based off being the life of the party, you need to be so good at what you do, that people are going to refer you, because they just say, “I don’t have drinks with the guy or her all the time, but they’re so good at their job.” That’s, at the end of the day, what people are going to make their decision off of. And so, you need to get really good at that.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, you really do. And Sten, you mentioned, “It’s going virtual,” right, so it’d be easy to sit back. And I think in the old days, I could say, “Well, Sten’s crushing it but he’s in Nashville, I’m not in Nashville, I don’t have to worry about it.”

                  But pretty soon, you’re going to be knocking on the doors of my clients, right. And saying, “Hey, boy is Matt doing these things for you?” If the answer’s no, then you’re going to end up with that client. Because you’re right, as much as they might like me, if you can show them a $100,000 of savings, they have no choice, but to go with you, basically.

Sten Morgan:      At that point, yeah. I mean, think about it, if I had a CPA that was going to save me a hundred grand in taxes, he could be the biggest jerk in the world, I would still put up with it.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally.

Sten Morgan:      Yeah at some point, the value outweighs the relationship. And, the good news is with our model is, I have clients that have other advisors. So, if you’re an advisor out there, you need to know this is coming, but you may decide not to change your business.

Matthew Jarvis:   Sure.

Sten Morgan:      Because, I give him a bunch of great ideas, but you may still manage their money. But, there’s a world to where these different advisors co-exist. But at the end of the day, if I go in and they’re paying me a fee and I say, “Oh, by the way, that $2 million investment account, I can reduce the fees and our models are actually better.” They’ll sign that form in a heartbeat.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally.

Sten Morgan:      So, it’s much more susceptible to being transferred out. So, you need to figure out, you need to charge for advice, just decide to what degree and learn how to have these different conversations. Because if you don’t, those clients are eventually going to learn about, whether it’s a year from now or five years from now, this is where the business is going to start pivoting, and you just need to be ready for it.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally. One of the things I want to highlight on this Sten, that I was thinking about, when you mentioned relationships. So, so often advisors prospect, essentially on relationships. It’s like, “Hey, I’m a comprehensive fiduciary fee-only, blah, blah, blah.” Same thing that every other advisor says, “I hope you pick me, because you like me.” Now, you may not say that because you like me thing, but if you’re not differentiating yourself from other advisors, that’s all they have to choose from. So when they don’t choose you, it’s a real personal rejection.

                  I mean, they’re literally saying, “I don’t like you, I like this other guy or gal better, because you’ve given me nothing to go on.” Where again, with Sten, they could say, “I don’t like this guy at all, I hope I never cross paths with him.” And I’m being silly here, but you just saying, “He delivered so much value to me, I’m excited to write the cheque.” And then, the decision becomes on the value, not on you personally. It’s not, if they like you it’s, hey, are you delivering value in excess of your fee?

Sten Morgan:      Oh yeah. And let’s talk about referability.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yes.

Sten Morgan:      Imagine. I mean, a lot of advisors try to network with CPAs and attorneys.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yep.

Sten Morgan:      It is so refreshing when I meet with them and I say, “Oh, by the way, I don’t have to sell anything.” They don’t even have to fire their other advisor. They’re just going to pay me a fee to come in and make sure they’re in good shape. The bankers, I mean, the referrals we get are to clients that were saying, “I don’t trust advisors.” I have some clients, some of our A clients now that said, “I’m never going to work with an advisor again.”

                  We got a meeting with them and they say, “This is what I’ve been looking for.” I’m willing to pay a high, high fee for independent unbiased advice. And, the good news is you’re going to get the other stuff anyways, if you want it. So, our AUM increases more now than it did before. Even though we have some clients that we managed our money for.

Matthew Jarvis:   God I love it.

Sten Morgan:      We still drop some big insurance cases on these complicated things, because we were the ones at the table, and then I say, “Hey I’m not, maybe an insurance expert, but I have somebody that can help,” and we split that cake. The opportunity starts flowing freely when they don’t come into a meeting, kind of clenched up, ready for the sale. They come in like, “Hey, how are you going to blow my mind this time?”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. We could turn this into a giant podcast. I would pull up two things real quick.

Sten Morgan:      Yeah.

Matthew Jarvis:   One is that, I want to make sure I heard this right, you are not a fee-only advisor.

Sten Morgan:      No, not to the truest extent of it.

Matthew Jarvis:   Perfect. And, the reason I want to highlight this is a lot of times people think, “Oh, I’m fee-only, therefore all the clients will flock to me, and yet I’m still broke.”

Sten Morgan:      That’s right.

Matthew Jarvis:   And Sten said, “Hey, I’m not fee-only, but I’m not leading with products ever, I’m charging these fees.” So, I want to highlight that. The other is on this referability, and you’re making it so easy to be referred. Because when they say, “Hey, I met with this guy, Sten, he saved me like a 100 grand in taxes.” And then, their friend says, “Well, I’ve got a guy.” And they say, “Great news, I have a guy too, but I work with Sten as well.” “Oh”. Now, all the hurdle has been taken away. It’s not like, “Well, I have drinks with this guy, I don’t want to leave him, or “I have an advisor, or “My money’s tied up in a 401k,” or whatever it is. They’re just saying, “Hey, if Sten delivers massive value, we write him a cheque and we save all this money.

Sten Morgan:      Yep. And when we meet with the client, I have multiple avenues of deciding how we can be profitable with that client. Where before it’s like, “Okay, I’ll take your 529.” Like, “Hey, move this IRA over there. And, those are loss leaders for us. We’re losing money on some of those accounts. Now I say, “Hey, keep it at Fidelity.” “Keep that at your old 401k, we’ll just give you some idea.” I don’t have to have this mentality of like scraping every piece of their business together to make it a good client. And then I say, “Hey, here’s our fee.” And, the great thing about charging a fee is if they say, “Yes,” they bought in.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally.

Sten Morgan:      There are clients I used to chase for years to try to do business with, and they never pulled the trigger. Now, if they say no to our fee, I’m like, “Okay, we’re here if you need help.” And so, the amount of time it’s probably saved me from chasing people that would have never done anything anyways, I can’t even quantify that.

Matthew Jarvis:   I love that. And as you mentioned earlier, when you stop chasing people, now people want you more, right?

Sten Morgan:      That’s right.

Matthew Jarvis:   One quick logistics question, then we’ll jump into some action items for the listeners. Logistically, how are you collecting that fee? Are they cutting a cheque? Are you billing their credit card? How does that go?

Sten Morgan:      At this point, we’ll set up kind of a brokerage ACH, if they want to bill monthly. Or they just write us a cheque that we kind of run through their RIA. There’s great options out there. I know Michael Kitces has a great payment option for planning. So, I think those technologies catching up. Ours at this point is pretty straightforward that way.

Matthew Jarvis:   Perfect. Yeah. Again, people get kind of hung up on that. Like, “Hey, can I deduct it from this account or that account, but there just cutting you a cheque or you’re pulling it directly from their account.

Sten Morgan:      That’s right. Yeah. And, one thing I’ll kind of jump to this on the-

Matthew Jarvis:   Please.

Sten Morgan:      … I put together a course, a three-part course. Because, so many advisors call us. Broker-dealers are calling us saying like, “How are you doing what you’re doing with planning fees?” And so, I put together essentially our playbook from start to finish, from prospecting to what you need to do internally. And, we’re going to put that up on Stenmorgan.com for advisors to buy, to say, “There’s no reason you need to replicate or try to create what we’ve done over four and a half years.” Because again, it’s a wish I knew that sooner moment. It’s like the sooner you know everything we’ve developed, you need to hit where we are twice as fast.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally.

Sten Morgan:      And, make that investment in your practice.

Matthew Jarvis:   Well, let’s call that action item, item number one. Go to stenmorgan.com and buy that course. And you think about, you’ve essentially bond all these years of Sten’s, trial and error, these things that he’s figured out. Not hypothetically, not looking over someone else’s shoulder, like literally in the trenches of his practice day-to-day. This is priceless stuff. Sten, you and I talked about this before the show, I would have paid any amount of money early in my career to get access to what real advisors are really doing. So action item number one, go to stenmorgan.com and pick up that course. It’ll transform your practice.

Sten Morgan:      Yeah. Number two, I put together an advisory assessment as well. I think a lot of advisors, we all wonder, where do we stack up? How am I doing compared to other advisors in the country? And so, that assessment’s free to take, but-

Matthew Jarvis:   Perfect.

Sten Morgan:      … you’ll get a score from that assessment. And then also, some best practice ideas based on where you fall. And, we’ve got some great feedback from advisors on that.

Matthew Jarvis:   I love that. I love that. So actually, I remember to take that advisor assessment, I know after this call, I’m going to go in and take it myself, so I’m really curious on that. I would say action item, number three, you’ve got to find other successful advisors that you can learn from.

                  So, maybe you like Sten’s approach, and so you go to his website. You like our approach, you go to the backstage pass. You like Taylor Schulte’s approach, and you go to the Advisor Growth Network. You’ve got to find advisors who are really doing it day-to-day in the trenches. You can learn great technical stuff. Sten, you and I both have coaches that we work with. There’s a place for that, but nothing replaces learning from, from real advisors.

Sten Morgan:      I agree. We have to be in community. And, there was a period of … when I broke off RIAs building legacy, that felt like I was on an island.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah.

Sten Morgan:      Until I started saying, “Hey, I need to read more books, listen to podcasts.” It needs to be part of our ongoing day, just how are we getting better and learning this stuff sooner. And so, get into a community with other top advisors, whatever that looks like, private Facebook groups. We’re going to launch what I call the Elite Advisor Network.

Matthew Jarvis:   Nice.

Sten Morgan:      Which is monthly access to me and my team, best practice videos, connecting those members. Because, every advisor has something you can learn from. And like I told you, I went to that conference and one idea turned into half a million dollars for my practice. Just because I heard about it, and just because I took the effort to go listen.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. And I would say, there’s not many of those programs out there, by the way, that the best way to pick one is to find the advisory. You say, “That’s the practice I want.” “What Sten described that’s what I want for my practice.” “And I trust that if I follow his system, I’ll end up with the same results.” And so, and I always use to joke when I was first learning Tom Gau stuff. He was real instrumental advisor early in my career. I said, “Hey, if Tom Gau told me to wear a purple suit and pink underwear,” then I’m going to wear a purple suit and pink underwear. So, don’t buy Sten’s program if you’re not going to follow his advice, don’t waste your time. Buy it, do everything he says, exactly the way that he says it. Once you are at his level, then you can fine tune it, until then just implement.

Sten Morgan:      Yeah. And, there’s no reason to recreate the wheel. It’s like, “Let’s all share our best ideas and get after it. The end result is just clients get more value and that’s what we all want. There’s enough business for all of us.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally is. Hey Sten, thank you so much for being on the show today. We’ll have to do another one of these episodes. Thanks everybody for listening. Be sure to give us five stars, vote early, vote often.

                  And, until next time, happy planning.

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