How did you get into 401(k) advising? I struggled for 10 years as an advisor to find my passion. I had various roles in large and small firms. I was even a Director of Operations and Chief Compliance Officer. I was always fascinated with the 401(k) and the lack of attention advisors gave them. It made no sense that they would ignore employees and get paid to do very little. I finally ended up in an opportunity to start a 401(k) division for a benefits shop. It was like an entirely new career. I had to learn the language and start over. I was hooked from then on.
What does a typical day look like for you? I wake up at 6:00 am and run to Planet Fitness for weights. I get back in time to see the kids off to school and then jump into my top project for the day. Next I'll create and post content to social media, do a quick scan of email for any fires, then follow up with prospects and clients. After that, I'll usually grab lunch with a center of influence or client, get my emails taken care of, and plan my projects and content for tomorrow. Then I'll sneak out on my bike to listen to a podcast and unwind. After work I like getting dinner with my family and driving the kids to and from sports.
What is one trend you foresee impacting plan advisors over the next few years? Effective communication will always be at the top of the list of priorities for advisors. The key is being able to adjust to new ways of communication in the post-covid world. A major trend I see here is building a community with your clients and their employees—that is a critical opportunity for advisors. The group closest to the client is the one who wins their brand recognition. Right now recordkeepers are working hard to take this spot, so advisors need to use technology to scale their reach and get back in the driver's seat.
What’s the hardest part of running your own practice? Being patient and needing more time. It’s very rare to find a 401(k) that doesn’t have issues. There is a ton of work put in constantly to win even smaller plans. I’m also very detail focused so I often over prepare for meetings which can often be some late nights.
Where do you find your leads? Most of my introductions come from other non-401(k) advisors, benefit brokers, and client referrals. I also respond to all of my Linkedin messages daily and often get asked for help on 401(k) questions there, which leads to more opportunities.
What is a lesson you wish you had learned earlier in your career? Take risks early. Don’t play it safe. Follow what you enjoy and realize being happy is an important part of your compensation.
What’s the best advice you ever received? "Stop letting email run your day."
What is one change you made over the past year, personal or professional, that helped you be more successful? I’ve focused on building my personal brand with patience. I’m willing to provide value even if there is nothing in return immediately. Way too many people look for an immediate ROI with their relationships. I’m in this game because I want to win in the end and enjoy the process of getting there.
What advice do you have for those who are just starting out in this space? Early on, build a team around you. Learn to let others help you and be confident enough not to get in the way. Find a good TPA that is transparent and listens to you—make sure they don’t just help when it benefits them. Then choose an industry niche to focus on. Get into their world and understand all their problems. This will make you more valuable, give you an easier way to create content, and keep you from becoming a commodity. Then be patient, this business takes time to build.
What’s the best celebrity sighting you've ever had? I ran into Gary Vaynerchuk in Central Park. He was boxing with a trainer a few hundred yards away and I said to my wife, “I think that's Gary Vee!” I wasn’t about to interrupt his Sunday morning, but she yelled “Hey Gary!” He stopped boxing and waved back. She said “My husband loves you! This is our first trip to New York” I was crazy embarrassed. He said: “Thank you, Enjoy the city.” It was amazing.
What’s the most embarrassing fashion trend you used to rock? I grew up in the baggy pants era. JNCO was my brand. Now we're back to that, which is so insane.