Skip to content

Advisor POV: David Cullen Tried to Arm Wrestle the Terminator

Advisor POV: David Cullen Tried to Arm Wrestle the Terminator

Quick Facts

Name: David M. Cullen, CFA
Resides in: Pennsylvania
Company: Evident Financial
Number of years in the industry: 40
Favorite industry news source: InvestmentNews
Custodian of choice: Charles Schwab
Favorite book: Linchpin by Seth Godin

Advisors Have Fun, Too

What's the best celeb sighting you've had? Schwarzenegger while on vacation at the Fisher Island Club, FL. Accompanied by his entourage, he asked if I wouldn’t mind leaving the workout room so he could have some privacy. I asked if he wanted to arm wrestle for me leaving. He was not amused. I left immediately.

What’s the most embarrassing fashion trend you used to rock? Fresh from college, I wore plaid, bell bottom pants to work. The CEO of the bank I was working with at the time said, “Unless you’re looking to end your career before it starts, lose the clown pants."

Getting Started

How did you get into 401(k) advising? With the increasing number of ERISA-related lawsuits, we see an opportunity to help plan sponsors manage their fiduciary responsibilities by providing ERISA 3(21) or 3(38) Fiduciary services. We have a strong value proposition working with Vestwell providing ERISA 3(16) fiduciary services, a true turnkey solution.

What advice do you have for those who are just starting out in this space? Even as the B2B sales process becomes increasingly digital, in-person engagement is critical for building stronger personal connections. In the end buyers want to buy from advisors they know and trust.

See Vestwell in action

Explore the modern retirement platform built for advisors.

Lessons Learned Along the Way

What is a lesson you wish you learned earlier in your career? People don’t want to be sold. They want to buy.

What’s the best advice you ever received? Answers to questions need to be clear, compelling, and relevant to your audience.

What is a quote you live by? "You will get all you want in life if you help enough people get what they want.” -Zig Ziglar

Practice Makes Perfect

What’s the hardest part of running your own practice? Finding front-line staff who are naturally good at communicating, paying attention to details, and who understand they must pull their own weight, not relying on others to pick up the slack.

Where do you find your leads? Identifying businesses via Form 5500. We look for businesses we know or businesses we think our network of centers of influence may know.

What advice do you have for those thinking of starting their own practice? If you are naturally an entrepreneur and want to give it a go, you must surround yourself with a team who shares your passion, work ethic, and who knows you cannot arrive without taking the trip. Your staff must be well-rounded and willing to work a variety of tasks, not just being a ‘cog in the wheel’ like at most larger companies.

Looking Ahead

What is one trend you foresee impacting plan advisors over the next few years? We see three trends impacting plan advisors: one, employers and employees are more tuned-in to the importance of working with a fiduciary; two, the Department of Labor is calling for plan sponsors to more closely examine 401(k) fees and investment performance; and three, employers are concerned their benefits packages may not be competitive enough post-COVID. Each developing trend points to widening entry points to engage employers in new business conversations.