Matt Blocki is the founder and CEO of Equilibrium Wealth Advisors. Matt is also a co-founder of Wealth Advisor Training, which was founded in 2022 to help provide resources to the top wealth advisors around the country. Wealth Advisor Training gives advisors a comprehensive education platform to give better proactive advice and develop systems to scale their business.
Matt regularly speaks in the financial planning industry, including to top firms Thrivent and Mass Mutual.
In this interview, Matt and Aaron discuss Matt’s career trajectory, how to attract great clients, and their plans for WealthAdvisorTraining.com.
Matt Blocki’s Challenge; Rate all facets of your life and do the requisite work to improve the lowest rated pieces.
Connect with Matt Blocki
If you liked this interview, check out our conversation with Brent Johnson where we discuss Dollar Milkshake Theory and his early career at Credit Suisse.
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Watson: Matt Blocki. Welcome to the podcast, man.
Blocki: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Watson: So let's kick things off. People, you know, they hear about financial services, but there are so many different manifestations of a business that is in finance. You've started your own firm, “Equilibrium Wealth Advisors”. Talk to everyone just about the services that you provide and the scale that you've accomplished.
Blocki: Yeah. Great. So I've been in the industry… I was actually started as an intern at a big, broker dealer insurance company back in 2008, 2009. So, I’ve been in the industry now for almost 14 years, and I found that a lot of the industry is now very commoditized.
There are certain products, there's certain investment strategies, but what we've tried to really build out, is having the process behind decision fatigue. So on a daily basis, a lot of clients have to make thousands of decisions from what they dressed or what they wear, what they listen to. And from a financial standpoint, it's very overwhelming with how many options there are out there. When it really boils down to it, clients have maybe 3 or 4 extremely important, non-negotiable, goals that they want to accomplish maybe in the long-term basis, maybe on a short-term basis. So, our firm is really meant to cut out the noise, make the complex simple, and make sure our clients are reaching those goals.
We do everything else from wealth management, risk management, giving advice on tax and estate planning. But I would boil it down our biggest value proposition as just really being there when it matters and making sure that we reduce the stress and remove the decision fatigue behind financial decisions.
Watson: And it's really interesting that you said that the industry has the likelihood of the potential to be commoditized because I always kind of look at the world in these two different extremes. There are people that play in the exact same space. If you're in the restaurant game, like there's a lot of restaurants it's insanely competitive. And if your restaurant actually stands out, that's a huge deal. In the same case, with a field like wealth advising, or you can be like the only person who's literally like sending rockets into space and landing them back on. Those two extremes, both take exceptional entrepreneurs, but they're playing a somewhat different game in order to accomplish that. So, can you talk a little bit more just about what makes the wealth advising financial advising space commoditized, and when the kind of light bulb went on that you had to push to differentiate yourself really hard?
Blocki: Yeah, for sure.
So there's many studies that have shown, you know, from a performance perspective, it's nearly impossible to outpace indexes. So then, you know, investors will Google “well, why not just put our money in index funds?” That's a perfect example, and I'm a big advocate of keeping costs low and indexing in most cases.
And then, there are so many FinTech companies that have come out such as robo-advisors that can automatically manage and rebalance portfolios and then other softwares from budgeting and cashflow and tax planning that when it really boils down to it, we're still all humans and humans are very emotional creatures, and sometimes very important long-term decisions become emotional ones.
So we mirror and use all of those technologies and important philosophies, that are available to the general public, to scale. We're a very unique industry and that, finances, are the number one stress in most people's lives and mostly why marriages end, why people do, or don't, fund their kids' education, or have a legacy that they wish to have for their kids. And having an advisor guide them through those decisions, not just manage a portfolio or fill out a tax return or make a trade for them, but it's, it's putting all of that complexity together in a financial plan. So, I mean, I always use the analogy, “our clients are the CEO of their lives.” They decide what they want to do, how they want to live.
We're the CFO, meaning they've delegated as much as possible to us from an implementation standpoint to save their only non-renewable resource, which is their time. But more importantly, it's reporting to the CEO. It's keeping them informed and making sure that the plan gets calibrated as their life changes and making sure they're really not hurting themselves, making any emotional decisions.
Watson: And what I've always thought is, if I'm like picturing in my mind and the experience of either using the robo-advisor or just buying your collection of index funds or ETFs on Vanguard yourself, is you're still kind of sitting in one of your rooms of your house probably doing that by yourself.
And, like you're saying, as emotional social creatures, there's a degree to which you still kind of, look at the walls like, oh, that was not the wrong call. I hope I didn't, you know, take this thing off the road by making just some sort of easy unforced error, and the peace of mind that comes from just like, okay, this person thinks about it all the time.
I think about it one-hundreth of my time, because I'm juggling these other 18 balls in the air.
Blocki: For sure. Yeah, I think the biggest mistake that… a lot of our clientele, alright, we're focusing, we'll talk about a new business we’re starting for just increasing financial literacy in general. But a lot of our clientele are affluent, meaning they're, probably already on track. They have the resources to stay on track.
So there's an artwork behind financial planning that I don't think a computer can ever replicate. What I mean by that is, you know, just we have many clients that are retired currently, and that are basically have over cumulated assets, I would argue. Getting their perspective, looking back on the last 30 years has been incredible.
So, perfect example, just pick two doctors. They've accumulated between 10 to $20 million of net worth, some health concerns on the table. So when we talk about retirement and, they don't want to talk about it, you know, at that at 65 years old, their kids have grown up, they have more time on their hands than ever, their intellectual capacity as literally at an all time high.
They love what they do. They love being doctors. They don't need to work. They want to work. So they typically still do as long as their health allows. And so, you know, thinking back on the advice we could've given them last 30 years, I'm just thinking of a couple of clients specifically, they never traveled to where they wanted to. They didn't think they could go out to eat. They didn't think they could, you know, do a fancy vacation. They didn't think they could, you know, fill in a hundred different excuses. So, we see clients, situations become so lopsided, the best savers are the worst spenders. And so having someone help navigate…
Those clients can't get those 30 years back, but legitimately, if those clients had $5 million in retirement, they're going to live the same lifestyle than they had at 20 million. But think about how different their thirties, forties, and fifties could have been when their kids were under their roof, when they were young and healthy and could have done some of their bucket list items, had they had that human interaction. And, you know, that reduction of decision fatigue and really that reduction of fear of thinking we have to save everything, coupon everything, and they've just over accumulated wealth. Now they're in a good position. A lot of people are like, well, “boohoo.”
You can't get those. You can't get that time back. And that's the crazy thing about life and how finances fit into it is every decision has a result to it.
Watson: And it also sounds like for a character like that, even those clients that are in retirement, getting the permission from the extra set of eyes, it's just like, “Hey, you can you can go spend some of this and you're not gonna run out of money at the end of your life,” which can be its own whole set of fears and, you know, feel relatively confident that this is just not, you know, blowing all the work that you did to save.
Blocki: There's no question. There's no question.
Watson: So, let's talk about, you starting with the large broker dealer, leaving to start your own firm, the challenges associated with that, and the successes that you've had since that occurred, because, you know, just, to make it I believe it's 14 years in the industry makes you an exception to the rule, but to then leave and start your own firm successfully outside the bounds of the broker dealer you started with is this extra layer of exceptionalism inside of a very competitive industry. So can you talk about specifically that decision, the challenges that came along with it, and what the result was?
Blocki: Yeah. No, absolutely. So that, the broker dealer was an incredible place to learn, you know, systems and disciplines and be taught a lot about financial planning 101. When it comes down to it, and especially in the financial planning industry, what we found is that the advice that you can provide, and just getting everything possible delegated to you is the biggest thing a client looks for, especially in the type of clientele that we work for.
And so, ultimately at a broker dealer there's, for, for big companies to exist, they have certain products they have to sell and, you know, certain metrics they have to hit to, you know, to report to their, whether it's privately or publicly held. And we found at a certain point, we really just wanted to focus on advice and implementation for our clients, and just being able to wear one hat for our clients became the deciding factor in starting our own RIA. And RIA by mere definition just means you're a fiduciary. Everything you do, say, act is in the best interest of the clients. It’s not just at the time of the transaction, but every moment, during the existence of that relationship.
Watson: And how does that change the actual business model of your firm going from the old model to the RIA? Like, where are your fees being collected? Where's your revenue coming from when that shift occurrs?
Blocki: Yeah, that's a great question. So there's basically, there’s three types of advisors out there right now. There's fee-only, hourly people. There's a hybrid advisors that may maybe collect flat percentages of AUM and also do a commission business from an investment standpoint. And then there's the fee only from an investment standpoint where it's just a wrap fee, just a percentage of investments managed and we operate in that third tier. And the reason behind that, we've made a decision to actually drop our commission licenses when we left our prior broker dealer and started our RIA, we wanted to keep things simple, transparent, and we really wanted to work with a simple, we really wanted to work with a certain kind of clientele where we have all of these services.
And one of the biggest reasons we decided to do this and not hourly, is a lot of times with emotion. You know, I only call my attorney when I need my attorney. Cause she's, you know, almost $600 an hour. And there's probably a lot of times I need my attorney where I'm not calling her and trying to make, become an attorney myself, because I want to save that fee.
So with, with finances, we don't ever want to think about having that on the table. So we charge a flat percentage. It drops the more you have. And we want to be there when clients need us. So if, if we're in between a regular scheduled quarterly or semi-annual review and a client has a question, you know, we're there. And that, that set up is very intentional and thoughtful based on the clientele that we work with.
Watson: And that's also, that's a time with us. In whether you're running an agency like me and Hannah, a wealth services firm, like you, or any sort of service provider. You are partially going to get the clients that you have optimized for with the way that you're structuring your business and those fees.
So if you are just trying to be the bargain basement, lowest fee player, you're getting the people that shop around and kick tires and are trying to kind of squeeze as much juice out of every fruit that they come across versus these folks where it's not that they're completely price insensitive, but they're looking for the kind of higher end high touch type of service offering.
And they understand that that trade-off of maybe paying a little bit more to you guys on an annualized basis, basically ensures peace of mind, these kind of things that you're positioning the service to be able to do.
Blocki: No question. I think all three models have pros and cons to them. I think that the first model, the hourly model, why we steer clear of that is we didn't want to have that attorney feel where we're, you know, and nothing against attorneys, my attorney is worth 10 times, you know, her fee, for sure in just giving good advice and giving good implementation, but, in financial planning world, a lot of times, we've sat with a prospective client. They've gone through an hourly fee engagement. They have this big booklet and say, okay, this is great. There's good advice in here. So tell me what have you done?
And they've done nothing. And that just, that personally drives me crazy because the plan is not a plan unless it's implemented. And I'd say the second biggest part of our value proposition is our follow-through and getting stuff done. You can never discount a quarterback that is coordinating your taxes and your attorney and your wills, and actually getting all of these moving pieces across over the finish line, because the type of clientele that we work with, they don't have time to think about this stuff, let alone to do the necessary steps to get it done.
And that's how our firm is set up and why we've chosen that model. But not saying the other models don't work. The second model of the commissions, ultimately, there's conflicts of interest in every model. But I think the conflict of interest exist the highest in that number two, where you're partially fee-only, you're partially commission and we tilt the scales towards the ways that gets you way more.
Blocki: And the companies that have those models can tilt the scales and adjust things. So, you know, the people selling the products have to hit certain metrics to keep the company's numbers going.
Watson: So what's really interesting, and I guess you can tell me if you think about it in the same way, the per hour model for something like wealth advising, it is not a discreet, you know, finite game when talking about wealth management, because there's the accumulation, there's the steps along the way, there is the then into retirement. How do I actually descend from this pile that I’ve built for myself? Whereas, and this isn't the case with all attorneys, it's great to have an attorney with really high context that's been working with you for a super long time and get the kind of compounding knowledge base there, but they could have a discrete task of, okay, I need this contract written, I need this deal completed, in those terms, and, you know, the deals completed, the contract signed, or what have you it. The, you know, the will is written. And it's finite, it's finished.
Whereas the service here, it’s really, you know, maybe you deliver that book and every piece of the plan is implemented and now it's ready to roll, but things are gonna change down the line. Unfortunately, you know, people have more children, people get divorced, people have, you know, sales of their business and other events like that.
Blocki: Every time I've thought, oh, that client's good. We don't, you know, probably not a reason to be, but we're going to offer that anytime. You know, it's always those meetings where I think everything’s good. But we're always going to meet. We never want to meet to meet, but every person appreciates a check-in, hug and just making sure, you know, a report is made. How's my plan doing? It's always those meetings that have 10 or 20 follow-ups, because so much has changed. I mean, life, life happens so quickly.
Watson: Yeah. So can you give people your perspective? I mean, one of my favorite things is, I know that you're an NBA fan too, is when, lone of the stars of the league will shout out some young player.
So like it was Kevin Durant, shouted out, Devin Booker as like the next guy, like he's someone to watch. He's got it. Whatever it-factor is. And you know, he was right before a ton of people because he just knows from actually being in the game, what's going on with that space. You are one of the ascendant, high performing wealth advisors in the entire country.
I'll do the brag on your behalf here. Can you talk about just giving people, not in a disparaging way, but a picture of the whole spectrum from, you know, the newest people coming up, the challenges that they're facing, the folks in the middle, the folks who have been in the game for a while, what the state of wealth advising kind of looks like from your purview and, you know, maybe not necessarily, “Hey listeners, like what type of wealth advisor you should go with,” but just what the kind of different trade offs are from those different types of businesses that are being run.
Blocki: Yeah, for sure. So there's the big broker dealers from the insurance world who have, good business models. And I say business models because they're very profitable for the companies. They have the deep pocket books. They're going to recruit, you know, kids right out of college. Come into our company, you know, you're going to get this entrepreneurship, unlimited opportunity, you're going to run your own business, and in reality they’ve got to call their friends and families and try to solicit business, which is tough. I mean, I had to do that. I would never wish that on anybody, ever. Um, I don't know if I would go back and do it again.
I obviously would, but it was tough. So that's where, you know, the majority, if we look at how many advisors are getting recruited in the industry, where it's happening right now and I think the statistic is like 3 or 4% of those. So three or four out of a hundred of those advisors are really, are successful, and make it as a career.
Um, the other 96, 97% fail out. And the companies that recruited them, keep the friends and the family as clients and keep those policies or investment accounts on the books forever, and they may become a hundred percent, you know, almost a hundred percent profit. So very good business model, uh, in my opinion, not great for the industry, especially with the personalities of, you know, whatever generation millennials or whatever's under that. I don't keep up with that.
But, um, I found that, you know, that kids out of college are very talented. There's obviously, um, most kids coming out of college right now, you know, they want a base salary. They want to have a career trajectory. They want to know, they don't necessarily want to go call their friends and families or go right into sales.
Um, so there has been a big movement to the RIA world, um, or for some of the biggest teams have transitioned away from big broker dealers. So to start their own private company, that's directly registered with the SCC. And those companies are presenting opportunities to younger people to be a junior advisor, and then eventually be a lead advisor and to really learn financial planning. Um, so those are really the two, there's the kind of the cutthroat model. You either make it, or you don’t. Or there's the go get mentored by an existing mature advisor, a team, and then be successful that way.
Watson: And there's also a generation of advisors that have been in the game for 20 to 30 years. And because of their ability to just kind of, you know, continue to collect those fees are to some degree on autopilot. They're not necessarily growing. They have their folks that they're managing and they're not even necessarily going out and soliciting new business because it's just got its momentum going.
Blocki: It's very relationship driven. So I would say there's a lot of advice out there that is sitting on assets, you know, collecting fees, providing some value, but you know, not necessarily as much as someone young and hungry that could do 10 aspects of their financial plan instead of just the investment management.
Watson: So another thing that's contributed to your disproportionate success is your ability to do exactly what you said in that second model, bring the young junior advisors on, start to have them service your lineup of clients, provide, you know, high touch where you can't scale yourself infinitely and also level up into a really great job where they get to, uh, provide this type of financial planning.
Can you talk about how you've done that?
Blocki: Yeah. So, I've done this by trial and error. Um, there's, you know, first we found that everyone in any company that you run, it's important, if everyone's running, rowing in the same direction on one ship, you can't have the mothership and then a side, little paddle boat that maybe that advisers paddling a different direction.
And it's, it's a really, they're going to get dragged along, but it's a lot of friction. So if everyone's on the main boat and paddling in the same direction, they just have to make sure that there's alignment. There's shared philosophy, shared values. So there's a huge psychological aspect to guarantee the success.
And, um, right now we have three, uh, lead advisors on our team and all three of those have come from the, the arrangement that I've discussed, you know, trying to, uh, to start their own practice on their own. And, in that company’s eyes, we're not that top performers, but in our company's eyes are by far the top performers because they have, uh, extremely passionate about financial planning, about helping people, doing what's in the best interest.
Some of them, you know, can close and sell, but that's not what their job is. Their job here is we want the whole firm to be the “Rainmaker” where our service and, uh, the advice we provide and just the process that we provide for our clients, they love that so much, that word of mouth is going to naturally spread for referrals and all of our advisors on our team, we just want them to, you know, hug and service and provide the best possible value to our clients. And just taking on that mentality shift has made this successful versus saying, “Hey, come in as an advisor, go get a hundred clients, and you'll get paid to do that.” No, it's “Hey, you're gonna get paid no matter. Just take care of our people that we have and take care of them in the best way possible.
Watson: So retention is a really big metric now with an established business like yours?
Blocki: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Watson: And that's, you know, part of the reason that kind of insane number that I'll say again, uh, 96 to 97% of folks that start in the industry churn out in some sort of timeline because you have number one, if you're starting, when you're really young, all of your friends and family that you're calling on, some portion of them are literally also young with no assets under management, no capacity to do much financial planning and further you don't have the reputation or, you know, candidly there's people that are put at ease by seeing some person with gray hair, telling them what to do with their money. Just cause like, hey, this person has been around. They've seen a few rodeos, this young person in a suit that barely fits. Like it's probably not necessarily having all the contexts, that one would need to put a great financial plan together.
But when they join an established RIA like yours, there is not only the book of clients that’s already there, but the referrability already baked in. You're getting an inbound lead because of the years of quality work that's been done. And that's this wind at your back to actually, you know, continue to grow.
Blocki: For sure.
And I think it's the responsibility of the owner of the firm and make sure that the values are followed, but just make sure that the incentive is everything's a team win. It doesn't matter if this advisor, this advisor is bringing in, everyone grows as the ship prizes. Um, but I cannot tell you how important that is for any business model, just to making sure that, um, incentives, alignments, values, philosophy have to be aligned. If they're not, and they say they are, eventually it will come out that they're not.
Watson: So there's some advisors that are just cruising on assets under management. They're not really pushing the ball hard too much. And there's folks like you that are continue to grow the business, continue to bring on new advisors, continuing to scale.
And there's plenty of people that say, hey, that's enough. You're not one of those people. You decided to start another business. So can you talk about the idea there.
Blocki: About starting the other business or just the mindset?
Watson: This is the, open the door to wealth advisor training.
Blocki: Wealth advisor training.
Yeah, I think, you know, one of the most important, um, things I've learned is that when trying to go after a goal, if you're so focused on that goal, um, you're going to forget people, you're gonna forget the journey. And when the goal is achieved, um, which I've, I'm a big believer in goals don't get me wrong. You know, write them down, read them every day and every time I've done that, I'd say 99% of the time I've hit my goals. What I found when I become so laser focused on those goals, that, that goal, the celebration of that, you know, maybe you're on a stage, maybe you're giving a talk, it lasts for 10 minutes.
And then typically if it's so celebrated, it leads to problems. It leads to attention. Now, suddenly your calendar gets filled up with other people that want your time and your advice, et cetera. So I found that now focusing on the process and the journey is so much more important than the goal.
And so, I'm a very competitive person, but if you're just competing for the sake of competing, um, you're gonna end up going down rabbit trails. But if you have a clear purpose for your company, a clear mission, and the competition is a catalyst to help that purpose arrive, then that's a very healthy thing in my opinion, but it's very easy to get those things out of balance.
It's very easy for our goals to get your present life out of balance is something I really think about every day. I try to remain present. Um, we'll also go more into trying to enjoy the journey. Also focusing on the future. I think financial planning has paradoxes like that as well. So for those reasons, we have some very big goals for EWA of how to scale and grow and, uh, stay a top firm and reach, you know, the top firm just to make sure that we can provide the best interest and, and scale for our clients.
And a lot of advisors have reached out with, you know, how do I do this? Or how do I do that? And so now we're excited to launch a new business called Wealth Advisor Training. And this is going to basically have every, uh, transparent look into what happens behind the scenes of EWA. How do we train our advisors? Um, how do we get new business on the books? How do we retain the business? How do we, you know, team up with older advisors as they retire and get their business retain on our books? Every problem that I've seen in the industry, we want to address through video format and scale and make this available to the public and help other advisors grow their practices and become the best version of themselves for their clients.
I found that, you know, we've done a couple exercises of why is what we do important. Then you kind of do why, why, why? And you go seven or eight layers deep. And it ultimately, I believe in financial planning, it's a huge deal. Not just to get a great rate of return or grow someone's balance sheet. But if you're relieving financial stress to a doctor or executive, and that doctor's impacting thousands of patient lives and that person's able to do their job so much better, cause he relieved financial stress, same thing for a business owner, that's incredible value that can get passed on from family to community, uh, and impact so many lives. So we want to take that to scale and help other advisors grow their practice and provide the best possible advice.
Watson: And, you know, you referenced it before, finances being the potentially number one stress on marriages as well.
And it's very hard. Like you can't necessarily like, put check marks on your book of like marriages saved explicitly, but implicitly by relieving that financial stress for people making it not a problem or a much, much smaller concern to them, you are helping families in the same way.
Blocki: Applications are endless. I completely agree.
Watson: So Wealth advisor Training. We are partners on that business.
Blocki: I couldn't be more excited.
Watson: Um, talk specifically about how a team for a new business, like this comes together, given that you've started businesses in the past. So when you're thinking about a founding team, when you're thinking about the component pieces, you know, the simultaneous instinct to, you know, get your share of the business, but also make sure that the right partners are in place. People are properly incentivized. You talk about incentives with, you know, bringing junior advisors onto your wealth management firm. This is a different business, but you're also thinking through these incentives and what type of actions and interactions will be born from that.
Blocki: Yeah, for sure. So when starting a new business, the, uh, the partners and the players are absolutely key. I think that the culture that you have, everyone has to be aligned with the, you know, we have always talk about a 10 year vision, three-year vision, one year vision, then back that down to a quarterly rocks and then even a weekly scorecard.
So making sure that everyone's on board with first, what's the purpose behind the business? Is everyone aligned? Is everyone motivated, excited about that? With any start up it's it requires, uh, tons of problem-solving obviously I've heard the quote, “Everyone is a problem finder. Very few people are solution oriented.”
So picking partners that actually can, uh, solve the problems, not just come up with the problems I would say is the number one, number one factor.
Watson: So, what is your, can you talk about how we're rolling it out? How, um, you know, the thought process to getting something like this off the ground? Is it completely built and it's, you know, now they will come. Is it being, you know, assembling the jet as we're falling, assembling the parachute as we're falling out of the plane?
Blocki: Yeah, a little bit of both. I think, you know, the most important part, you have to have a really good structure, a really good base. Um, but it's a learning process to figure out what does the customer want and need. Um, and then in this type of business retention is key. So there's, there's no contract. If you're paying a monthly subscription fee, there has to be enough value for the clients to be retained. And getting continuous feedback and calibrating on a daily, weekly basis is going to be key to the success.
Watson: As we were putting together the video platform. The thing that was most interesting to me was how many of these just basic financial planning topics, uh, budget, uh, the decision to rent versus own a home. These types of things that, you know, the broker dealer isn't necessarily incentivized to put at the top of the education for that new advisor to get them fully steep and have a financial plan just because of the incentives that are there and candidly the constraints on time. But if someone is, you know, the junior advisor at the RIA, and you're thinking about ramping them up to be, you know, a senior advisor who can fully serve a lineup of clients, the ability to speak to each of those points, and also just kind of mimic the language of someone who has been in it for a while. So you not only have been in for 14 years, how many designations do you have? Like it's just alphabet soup after your name.
Blocki: There's continuing education as a board, but three right now.
Watson: Yeah. So you've done the work to assemble a real point of view on these different principles of designing your financial life, and it's not that you're saying, this is the only way to think about paying off student loans or the only way to think about something like that, but here's the principles that inform this specific recommendation that we tend to make to clients, why we think about it that way, and here's how we actually say it to them.
So that we can go like, into the theory of the philosophy, you know, I'm glad the professors get together and talk about like, what type of cell is involved in this nuanced type of cancer. I just want to know what the treatment is, what the likelihood of success is and what it's actually going to be like to go through that treatment.
Blocki: Yeah. Couple of things to piggyback off that Aaron. So I would say, when I went through the training at my prior company, I probably ended up using, let's say between 2 to 5% of what they trained me on. And both very product driven. Um, the other 95% I either had to learn by myself, while, keeping, you know, 60 to 80 appointments a month without having an assistant flying by the seat of my pants and/or attending talks of actual advisors that had been in the business for 10 or 20 years.
And those talks and the research, uh, as painful as it was, where the most impactful things, that's where I, you know, 95% of what I said to clients or the advice we got, or just general education got derived from. And there's this old model you're basically handed like a shoe box and you put all your contacts in it and you have to call them every six months and that's product driven. That's if you're selling insurance.
Well, that same system exists today, for a financial planner. And the numbers and the ratios are just not the same, if you're just trying to sell a product versus if you're engaging as the quarterback, financial planners have a very intimate relationship with a client. Most likely they're going to refer you to their friends and family if they're doing good.
Um, asking for that may ruin the chance for that, but just doing a good job and letting the relationship evolve, good things will come. So part of the reason for establishing this business is there's this old model that hasn't been updated really for 50 years. And then there's the reality now that these insurance agents, tax advice, financial planning, investment managers really have some firms have merged those all into one, but there's really no formula or system behind, you know, how do we get new clients or how do we do this? And it will drive someone crazy if you're a good financial planner, trying to follow these numbers, because you're going to find yourself buried in work and not just never being able to keep up.
So, um, that alone is one of the reasons, is just giving people a clear pathway if they want to do financial planning and not just be a product person, what are the systems and habits and what, what are the advice you need to follow?
And then a lot of it's the conviction, because I was told. A lot of things that weren't true, but one of the things was, if you don't get referrals, you're going to fail out of the business. I focus on advice and education, and I found that if I got one or two referrals that caught me, that was the same value as you know, Johnny next door adviser who got 200 referrals that were forced out of somebody's cell phone.
Watson: That's an important nuance because if folks are not in the industry, they don't really know the subtlety of what you just said there. So I'm just going to re-say that a different way, is, part of the training is, at the end of the meeting at the end of every meeting you ask, who can you introduce me to? Introduce me to three people, four people, five people. And it's this like, let me pull, you know, it's like a, what's the surgery game where you like, pull the like thing out of it. Like you're going in there, like trying to extract. Right?
And what you're saying is not only is it different when someone is, just because of the quality of service, deciding to introduce you to their friend, but also we talk about this a lot, Hannah, and I. There's like this asymmetric difference when they have chosen to call you versus you have chosen to them, like it's fundamentally a different type of person or a person in a different frame of mind when you have come to them with the offer, versus they've already opted into at least hearing your spiel, seeing what you do. Trying to learn more about you.
It's, it's this window, you’re saying, we have basically a hundred percent inbound leads for Piper, and it just changes everything about what we do operationally. It's the number of meetings to a close it's the way in which someone is onboarded into the service offering, because they've already seen a video that we've made.
They've already heard this good thing from their friend who also ran a business and we help them produce Instagram reels at a incredibly, kind of, efficient rate.
Blocki: Yeah, couldn't agree more. When you have someone calling you consistently, you're able to make higher decisions. You're able to scale. You're able to make revenue projections versus if it's one person's ability to, to siphon names out of someone's cell phone, and usually the person giving you those names, it's like, okay, I really don't care if these three people get pissed at me cause they're not really my friends. I don't really know them. And that, that ends up happening. So I think there's, there's going to be, and there's continually going to be a huge shift in the, you know, the insurance world transitioning into the profession of, uh, you know, for example, a certified financial planning profession or, you know, where you're really focused on the client's best interest and the advice that needs to happen.
So I'm excited to be on the forefront of that and provide a resource for those that need it.
Watson: So, I think we can have fun with this as kind of the last point discussion here before I let you go. One of my like core thesis. This is actually like, really central to almost everything Piper does is I think that business is moving in the direction culturally of sports.
So I grew up, you probably were the same way, like I'd either before I left for school or got home from school, watched Sports Center. So I could see, you know, the highlights, follow this athlete that athlete. But folks that come up in, you know, into basketball, for example, Jason Tatum, the best player in the Boston Celtics, talks about like studying Kobe and Kobe's footwork and that informing what he does now.
And he's, he's polished to a different level because he had YouTube, to like, actually just watch that video over and over and over again. I kind of think of business working in the same way where it's no, it's no shade at the folks that built their businesses in the sixties and the seventies, but it was just a different environment with different competition.
There wasn't the internet there wasn't these other things, you know, like you're saying, you're competing with not just other advisors, robo-advisors, Vanguard, all these other things that advisors from that point in time, didn't have to go through. Um, and it's true with marketing firms like ours, it's true with all sorts of businesses.
And one of the things that, you know, I would guess a lot of, uh, business folks don't necessarily consider is, am I also watching film outside of the day-to-day work? Am I also doing these extra types of practice to take my game to the next level in order to compete? And what excited me when you brought the idea for Wealth Ddvisor Training to us, was this notion that this is basically, if you were thinking of someone trying to build their wealth advisor business as an athlete, this is their film study. They don't really have film study in this way in an accessible manner. They really can only get reps in the meetings or shadowing someone in some way, shape or form and, you know, any athlete would tell you, if your only practices in the game, you're going to lose to the person who's been on the practice field.
And if you've only been on the practice field and in the game, you're going to be at a disadvantage compared to the person that's watched all the film study and actually done those mental reps when they couldn't necessarily get in there in person. And especially if you're struggling to book meetings, you can't necessarily create more meetings out of thin air. You need to have something that's actually creating those.
So I think that that's the other thing that for me, was just kind of a light bulb for why this business could be impactful, was there really hasn't been an outlet for film study for someone in financial services like this, and this is gonna allow them to do that.
What do you think about that analogy?
Blocki: I completely agree that in the video content and how we initially established our professional relationship is, you know, your company does all of the filming for EWA. We do quarterly videos then we do 80 educational videos a year. Um, I didn't know just how impactful that was.
I first thought, okay. If a client's asking us more than 10 times, we should do a video so we can scale it. We're still gonna have a personalized conversation, but then at least the client then could rewatch rewatch, rewatch, and not have to remember everything that was said during a meeting. That's been incredibly impactful, but now the social media aspect of that, you know, the average, person's like four to six hours a day on the social media.
So just posting those and doing good in the world, that's really helped our business grow. And I don't know exactly how many inbound referrals are cause they saw video or not. I just know that when we left we had a seven figure business, and we doubled that within a year. The only thing we did differently was the video production, so highly recommend any business owner, that thinks, “I don't need video.” Video content is the future. It's going to really help you scale and stay front of mind, because every company right now is fighting for your attention. Your time. And that's one way to do it for free is through social media platforms.
It's just creating the video, scaling the business, scaling conversations, and then also, you know, it's really free advertising at the end of the day.
Watson: What do you do to keep your game at an A-plus level. Like, if we're using this analogy, practice, being on the field and the game, watching film. What are the things that you're doing?
You've had this disproportionate success with your business. You talked about going and finding these mentors. You talked about reading these kind of different books and texts. Are there other things that you're just doing to kind of keep yourself operating at a high level consistently?
Blocki: Yeah, I'd say a couple of things is having extremely good mentors and coaches.
So, you know, right now I have two coaches. And they keep me accountable to goals, accountable to making sure I'm taking care of myself, et cetera. Having, you know, routines are extremely important. There's a, I think an equilibrium and that's the name of our firm, but there's a paradox of, you need to have space to have creativity and then you also need to have routines for discipline and for success.
It's fighting that, you know, if you could get from a 1 to a 10, if you get to a 9 rather quickly, and it's gonna take you 10 times the amount of time to get to 9 to 10, stop at a nine. So figuring out the paradox points of when does disciplines ruin creativity and when does creativity ruin discipline? That’s just an example.
So really just thinking through what are my greatest strengths. How can those flip to my worst weaknesses, unless I'm intentional and proactive about those. So that's one of the biggest ways I think of staying on the top of your game is it just being really self-aware, having the right disciplines, giving your space for creativity, reading a book a month.
And then it's just who you surround yourself with. Surround yourself with people that talk about big ideas, that don't talk about the people.
Watson: All right. And then I'm actually going to add a selfish question to the end. I always say this for the end. So, we just hired a new head of operations. She's finished, I guess this is the start of her fourth week. She's doing a great job.
How do I not mess it up?
Blocki: That's a great question. You're probably asking the wrong person. But, just continuously asking for feedback and giving feedback. What's obvious to me and a lot of the team members at EWA is sometimes not obvious. I mean, just having a very proactive, I think just having direct conversations, because there's no real downside to that, but there's only upside.
Blocki: There’s never a downside for having a direct conversation, but there's a huge upside to it. And there is a downside if you miss one.
Watson: I think I was hesitant, because I was so, we should have done it sooner. We should've done it sooner. I was hesitant because previously, the only folks that we'd ever hired were video editors. And I was like, okay, I know what a good video video editor is. I can kind of like, here's the check box. Here's the check box here. Here's the check box that they're up to a certain threshold. But ops, it was like, basically I'm letting someone into my really crappy system to look at it and be like, whoa, this needs some work.
And I don't like, I don't even know how to fix them. Because if I could fix them, I would. They would be better than the way they are now. So it's definitely something where I know that it's me that needs to grow in order for everything to be as good as it can be, but it is daunting.
Blocki: And every business owner, I’ve found, myself included takes over-responsibility for everything in the business. Because, you know, we're always thinking about all the time. So, letting that person make mistakes and fail and learn from that will allow them to grow 10 times quicker than micromanaging.
Watson: Matt has been, this has been fantastic. I want to make sure that folks can check out all the things that you're up to in the digital world.
Maybe see some of the videos that we've made for you guys. What coordinates can we point people towards if they want to learn more?
Blocki: ewa-llc.com is the number one. And then we're on all social media platforms as well. LinkedIn. Facebook. I am not personally on Instagram, but the company is.
Watson: Right on. Spam your LinkedIn?
Blocki: Go ahead
Watson: Um, cool. We're going to link all that in the show notes available at goingdeepwithaaron.com/podcast for every episode of the show and in the podcast player, where you’re probably listening to this right now, down in the show notes. But before I let you go, Matt, I'd like to give you the mic one final time to issue an actionable personal challenge to the audience.
Blocki: Well, get video created. Hire Piper. Uh, no, that's serious. I would say the second thing is, an exercise I recently went through with one of my coaches is, basically it's called the “wheel of life. So you rank, every section of your life is like a little wedge that creates a wheel. So there's, you know, financial, there's personal relationships, there's a spiritual health, there's business goals, and there's like six or seven of them. So, I went through and I was told, she said, you know, rank everyone one 1-10. Maybe I ranked personal or relationships at an 8, and then you ask yourself, how could I get that, what would it look like to get from an eight to a 10? And then what steps would get me there in the next 12 months? And then looking through my wheel, everything was an eight or above, except there's one or two that were off. And then the visualization was like, okay, imagine you have, one's a six, one’s a five.The rest are eights. That wheel's not going to run smoothly.
So just doing it, taking the time to do self-reflection and making sure you're living a balanced life, that's personally helped me calibrate and make better decisions. Maybe get everything to a nine. I'd much rather have everything at nine than two tens and five threes. So just living a balanced life and having self-reflection and self-awareness to go through those exercises every couple of months has been very impactful.
Watson: I like that because number one, it forces you to make it actually legible. You could say, I guess something like a five or six, but you actually have to place a number and give it that real considerate thought. And, yeah, I think if you're out of balance you’re going to fall in a bit of trouble.
Blocki: No question. Thanks for having me.
Watson: Matt, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. We just went deep with Matt Blocki. Hope everyone out there has a fantastic day.
Hey, thanks for watching to the end of my interview with Matt. Go check out wealthadvisortraining.com to learn more about that business. And, while you're here on YouTube, check out our past interview with Brent Johnson, where we break down the origins of his Dollar Milkshake Theory.
We talk about his background at Credit Suisse in the early days before he found the path he's on now, and we break down the implications of a rising dollar for entrepreneurs everywhere.
Check it out.