In this Swift Chat video conversation, Marie Swift of Impact Communications, Inc. speaks with Brad Swineheart, SVP of Business Development at White Glove, a marketing company that helps advisors succeed via educational workshops, marketing content, and social media. The two discuss White Glove’s unique approach to lead generation. Brad dives into how White Glove matches advisors with pre-determined workshop topics guaranteed to bring in the ideal type of clients. White Glove’s approach of handling all the heavy lifting allows the advisor to focus on what they're good at, educating prospects on financial topics and generating leads.
For more information about Brad and White Glove visit: www.WhiteGlove.com
It's unique in the fact that we're only going to run those events if we think they're going to be successful but also, we put a lot of focus on what is working. We're testing it with our money, not with the advisor's money so we want to make sure when we do something that it is going to work very, very well."
Transcript of Conversation
Marie Swift: Well, hello everybody and welcome back to another Swift Chat. Today I'm joined by Brad Swineheart and Brad is the SVP of Business Development at White Glove. Brad is it White Glove Seminars? Remind us again of the full company name.
Brad Swineheart: So White Glove is the name. We originally were White Glove Workshops when the only thing that we did was in person seminars. As we evolved in the industry we said, hey you know what, we want to give white glove level service for all our initiatives. So, we just went right down to White Glove.
Swift: I know that you have evolved over the years because I started to pay attention to White Glove back when I was doing the Advisor Thought Leader Summit. We were at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center, and one of your colleagues came and I believe White Glove was one of our sponsors for this interactive video extravaganza and media training that we did at the university. I remember your colleague capturing the room because he sang. It felt almost like opera, but it was very entertaining to kick off his short introduction about who White Glove was and how White Glove could help our advisors who were attending the. So, kudos for being creative.
Swineheart: Yeah. We always tell our advisors that are doing seminars, don't waste the first couple of minutes with boring pleasantries, right. Open with a story, a bang or something to get your audience to lean in and we try to drink our own Kool-Aid around here.
Swift: Over the years since I became acquainted with White Glove and had that great introduction to the services, we've had the COVID lockdown, the virtual reality, of course, many of us were already leaning into virtual and digital, but it’s been more important than ever and sometimes it was just forced on a lot of firms that weren't ready for that. I know that your company has evolved with the times and so if you would kick us off by just sharing a little bit about what you do for the company, how you got to this place, and then what does White Glove do today and how can it help advisors?
Swineheart: So my role at White Glove and I've had a lot of hats over the years, right. When you're a small scrappy startup company the original players usually wear a lot of hats. I started as a Sales Manager and tried to help boost our sales of seminars when White Glove first started in the basement of the couple of advisors that founded it. We started in a basement. I didn't even have a desk. I sat at a dresser next to one of the owners and we were just trying to sell this seminar service and a very simple mentality that advisors should spend their time speaking with prospects or speaking with their clients and any of the other minutia or marketing or any of that other event planning stuff is taking them away from what they're really called to do in business so White Glove wanted to do all of that.
I started helping our sales team learn how the heck to sell this product, what we needed to do to really shape that company. As we grew I really found my niche of being able to connect different dots in the industry of these people should talk to these people, this is a great service that we need to add into ours, and right now I primarily work with different FMOs, RIAs, independent broker dealers and really support them getting their advisors to be active and productive and successful because it's not necessarily just someone buying our service. It's the advisors having the right business. They must see success. That's how my job is measured for success is how many advisors can we really get to be raving fans of White Glove and spread the word and basically do all the work for us, right. Getting the growth out there and it is interesting how White Glove has evolved 2015, 2016 two advisors thought, hey we grew a very successful practice doing seminars over the last 25 years and quite frankly, they hated it.
It was a lot of work. It was a lot of financial risk to put a mailer out there and then hope people would show up at a library. They just really wanted to say, well how do we put this more in favor of the financial advisors? That was the light bulb moment, if you will, for White Glove. Let's just do all the work. Let's take the financial risk and let's let these advisors host these events and have them pay us afterwards and they pay us based on the people that show up. We thought we were so gosh darn good at it that we'd even guarantee they'd pick up a client. That very simple 10 second sales pitch lead us from 20 people in the basement of this financial advisor's office to 130 employees doing 700 in-person events across the US and Canada and we were pretty gosh darn good at it.
Swift: Sounds like it. So how have you changed since seminars are not really, or haven't been until recently, possible due to the pandemic.
Swineheart: Well, that's an interesting thing, especially for a business like ours where the advisor's totally protected on marketing spend. We went from doing 700 events a month in February to zero in March. That was great for all our advisors that had seminars planned in March, but not quite as great for a company that takes all the financial risk. I mean, we were totally prepared for the snowstorms or the one library here or there that has a boiler explode and close. We weren't necessarily built for a global pandemic that shuts down our entire business model, but, we found out that we were very uniquely positioned in the industry. What we were good at, what we've got our name for was we're great at doing seminars, but what we're good at is finding ideal prospects for advisors. Identifying the people that have a need for education and asking those people to do something. For five years the only thing we ever asked them to do was go to a seminar. The pandemic really opened a lot of doors for us because at the same time advisors were having to adapt to virtual, so were all their ideal prospects.
We'd done webinars in the past and no real interest on either side of the house, if you will. We've had an advisor, maybe wanted to try it. Attendees didn't really care, but now suddenly you had consumers, your ideal clients, getting on zoom meetings every week and hanging out with the grandkids or doing virtual birthday parties or virtual office visits or any of that stuff. It was a unique time for an advisor to say, okay I can be in front of these people without physically standing in a room. So, we very quickly adapted to offering webinars where we ran all the tack, and we ran all the pop-ups and the polls and all this stuff that keeps engagement. Quite honestly, and I consider myself a presenter as well I do a lot of speaking, when I first went into doing webinars, I hated it. It was awful. It was hard to get engagement. It's hard to see if you're doing well or not. Advisors felt the same way. I have no idea if I'm connecting with my audience and quite frankly, we weren't very good at it.
Seasoned presenters were not good at doing webinars. White Glove really stepped in and helped solve all those solutions for advisors and find out exactly what works. And now we're very proud of that service that we offer both in a virtual and now in-person stuff is coming back. We're probably back to doing three to four hundred in-person events a month. On top of still doing lots and lots of webinars just because of the scalability that it allows advisers that freedom to remove that territory restrictions when you're doing webinars.
How White Glove Works
Swift: So, talk us through how this works. You mentioned territory restrictions. I'd like to hear about that. What kind of advisors are best suited for this? Are there presentations that they pick from, do they use their own? Just give us the whole layout. How does this work?
Swineheart: The nuts and bolts of it. So, our business model is a little different than any of the other marketing companies out there. I like to say we're kind of the opposite of a mail house where we're not going to sell an advisor a seminar or an event if we don't think that it's going to work. What that does, it really allows us to be shoulder to shoulder with them with event performance, but we're not selling based on a given territory where we're going to drop a new mailer there every 60 days, or we're not selling based on what the advisor thinks might work. We're able to say, well these are the topics that are going to work in this area, and this is what we would call is what inventory is available. All that means is how many households are willing to come to a seminar and listened to a professional speak on any given topic, and that's what we sell.
We don't necessarily say we need to sell 10 events in this area or one event in that area. We say, okay we think we can very realistically put 20 households into a seminar for someone that wants to teach on taxes in retirement let's say, and all we do is we sell on a first come first serve basis. So, if an advisor comes in, they want those 20 households, that's theirs. There's no other inventory to come back. If Joe Smith comes to us later and says, I want to do one of them in the area, we're just going to tell them no because it's not going to be successful. It's unique in the fact that we're only going to run those events if we think they're going to be successful but also, we put a lot of focus on what is working. We're testing it with our money, not with the advisor's money so we want to make sure when we do something that it is going to work very, very well.
An advisor comes to us, we don't necessarily care what PowerPoint they use, what slides they're going to use when they're standing in front of their audience. We want them to use the one that they're most comfortable with. We want them to feel good when they're standing in front of their audience. What we're going to do is we're going to work with them on, okay here are the best performing topics in general. Here are the eight bullet points that we'll bring in the correct quality and quantity to your event. Can you match these bullet points with the presentation that you have, if not, we'll help you get one from a company that does that for a living, but if you do, we want you to use your own. We want you to be very comfortable with that and especially since we work with over 70 different independent broker dealers, they all have a little bit different, we like this one, we don't like that one. We like this word. We don't like that word. We don't necessarily want to interrupt any of that when it comes to an advisor workflow.
Swift: That makes perfect sense. Are you uncovering the interested parties and then finding an advisor to match to a ready audience? Just talk us through that aspect because I found that to be intriguing.
Swineheart: So, what happens is an advisor will come to us and they basically just get to tell us, this is what I want to do. We're going to coach them through best areas to do a seminar, best topics to utilize, but essentially all we want them to do is say, this is where my best clients come from. This is how many new households I want to be introduced to, and then they go back to being an advisor. We we’ll find a venue. We book it, we pay for it. We secure any insurance that's needed. We do all the marketing to drive the registrations and once we take a registration, we follow up with phone calls, emails, texts to make sure that they attend. The advisor learns his presentation. He gets solid at a reason for those people to meet him. They show up at the library or a community center. So, there's not necessarily, a food doesn't have to be involved with it, and they talk to, let's say they order 20 households from us. If 17 households show up, they pay us for the 17 and they pay after that event. We just want that advisor to say, this is where my best clients come from. This is a topic that fits my practice, and this is how many people I want to meet. We want to handle absolutely everything else and take all that work and minutiae off the advisors.
Swift: It sounds too good to be true. You must have perfected your formula for identifying people, for getting them there for taking this all off the advisor, and then it's a pay for the success. So, you see people who come to the webinar or the workshop, or even if you get a client, talk us through some of those guarantees.
Swineheart: I mean, the easiest way to explain it is you're paying for a household that you get to speak to. Whether they logged on to the webinar and listened to you speak. Whether they sat in a library or a restaurant in front of you, that's what you're paying for, and you're paying after your events. We do all that work. We do all the marketing. We take all the risk. If no one shows up, no one logs on that's on us. The advisor moves on and they're totally protected.
We know that seminars can be a grind, let's just be honest, they can be a grind. It takes time to fill your funnel. To work with your prospects and turn into clients. But we're very confident that we're going to put that right quality in front of that room and that we're going to coach you to close that business. That's a big part of our process as well is coaching advisors on best practices to make sure that they're not practicing in front of prospects, so they're not walking in hoping to convert. When you're first working with White Glove, if you purchase 50 households with us and you don't pick up a client, we're going to go ahead and give you another seminar or webinar for free, we're going to do it again. We're going to coach you. We're going to train you again and then we'll do it again because we want you to see success with us.
Swift: That's fantastic. Do you have any ready examples? Can you tell us a story about an advisor and how they use the system and what happened?
Swineheart: I love that question. I would have written that question myself if I could’ve. It's a funny, one of my good, I would consider him a friend now, one of my good friends he's based out of Florida. His name is Kurt. He came to White Glove in 2016 and he just went out on his own, he was part of another advisory firm. He was going to go out on his own, it was just him and his wife. His wife was helping with some of the administration stuff, and he basically said, look I don't have the marketing spend or the bandwidth to go try a bunch of different marketing stuff and see what works. I need a program that will work and with your guys’ payment model and your guarantees, it seems like this is what I should do.
Since 2016, White Glove has been his only marketing source that he's used. He's done seminars with us; he's adapted to webinars when he must. He uses all our nurturing platforms and programs. His first-year seminars he had a 3 to 1 ROI. I always say that that's actually pretty good with your first year of seminars. Usually, it takes a couple of years to really start seeing a very powerful ROI. But his first year he had a three to one ROI and then just at the beginning of this year, we did some analysis with him and he's sitting at a 15 to 1 ROI over the history of working with White Glove.
Every single dollar he spent with us he's gotten 15 back over that lifetime with White Glove. The neat thing about it though, was that's all on the introduction services, the webinars in the seminar. When he said he adds in the nurturing that we do for him; the social media stuff that we post for him and the referrals that he's picking up from seminar attendees where, hey I didn't make it, but my neighbor Joe did, and he said I need to talk to you. Those sorts of things, he has a 23 to 1 ROI with White Glove. Everybody hears 23 to 1 and they say that's amazing, but I always reflect on that first year where he had 3 to 1. It takes time to build that, to get the nurturing funnels in place, to get the leads in the system.
It takes time, but if you commit to the system I one hundred percent believe that it works. We have pages and pages of advisers that have very similar stats with that, but Kurt is just a good friend and I always love telling his story when I can. We got a very heartwarming video of him one time where he was at one of our training events and he got up on stage unprompted and just said, look guys White Glove changed by life and you need to pay attention to these guys. It was very heartwarming to hear that from a company that we've really helped get off the ground and to be where we are today.
White Glove's Acquisition of Gainfully
Swift: Well, I'm very impressed. This is really needed as you obviously have seen and I know because I've been reading the news that there's a recent announcement that makes your turnkey services more, you're almost there to a comprehensive suite, not just billing the rooms, not just seminars and webinars. But I'm really excited the way that you're able to serve advisors now. What's ahead share with our viewers and listeners today.
Swineheart: What I'm thinking you're referencing is our recent acquisition. We bought a very tech savvy company called Gainfully. They are great with compliance and nurturing and a content platform. That amongst the other tools that we've built out on the backend of White Glove are really going to push us towards an all done, all in one stop for advisors. To not only bring in leads through seminars and webinars and direct lead generation, but also nurture their existing leads, nurture their existing clients, have a robust social media presence. Communicate with phones, email, and a web presence. All these things that advisors absolutely need to see the highest conversions. White Glove does a lot of these pieces in the backend already and what we're most excited about with our partnering and acquisition of Gainfully is to be able to wrap this all in one and come out with this platform. I don't know if I'm allowed to say what it is yet, but I will anyway, we're going to be calling it White Glove One.
It's really meant to be that end all be all so advisors don't have to go out there and buy this service and that service and get an email service and a social media service, and then get a lead generation service and then the CRM and try to bake it all together themselves and waste that time. Doing that with no real indication if they're seeing ROI because things are so scattered. White Glove wants to just package that all together and then in a true White Glove fashion, just do it all for the advisor. We want them talking to prospects, talking to clients. We want to handle absolutely everything else. I couldn't be more excited for the stuff that we've already built that we'll be unveiling here and the beginning of the year, there's going to be a lot of cool stuff coming down for the advisors that are working with us or looking into us.
Is White Glove Right for Your Financial Advisory Firm?
Swift: Wow. I can't wait. I'm thinking about the advisors who are watching this and maybe even some of my own clients or the tribe that I speak to and hang around with this financial planning community that I've been a part of for 30 some odd years and I can hear some of them wondering like, is this for me? I serve high net worth clients, not the middle-market. Do high net worth and ultra-high net worth participants come? Do they respond to this kind of marketing strategy?
Swineheart: What I would say it just depends on what your ideal client looks like. Our average, we just ran some case study with an advisor. They said their average person that sits in a seminar for taxes and retirement for example, was 850,000 in investible assets to some people that's awesome. That's great. That's out of the park. Other people are saying, well no, I only want 3 million and above. What I would say is if we're speaking the nurturing platform, White Glove One, yes this is absolutely for you. It's going to turn those maybes into maybe right now into okay I have a question. It's going to keep those clients that you have, that you're already working with, keep your face in front of them very often.
The nurturing portion of this, the reason clients leave an adviser is because they don't feel communicated with and that's not necessarily because the advisor isn't calling enough, it's because that client wants to be communicated with email, or they don't want email. They want texts, or they don't want texts. They want to see that person on social and unless you're doing that Omni channel approach, you're going to risk not communicating with them the way they want and then them feeling like you aren't communicating at all. So, the nurturing platform absolutely it's a no-brainer for every single advisor out there.
The seminars, webinars, lead generation what I would say is it really depends on your geographical area. If you want to do super high net worth, you must have super high net worth people by you if you're going to do an in-person seminar, right. Kind of makes sense there. I would say, especially the topic selection really helps. One interesting thing we're seeing is among the affluent and mass affluent is that estate planning, that topic really pulls in that correct quality, if you will, to a seminar and a webinar. This doesn't necessarily have to be the person with 11 million plus but the 2, 3 million potential clients, they have concerns about how I take my wealth and make sure that future generations get it.
The thing about seminars and webinars and especially advisor led estate planning courses, is that no one is teaching these types of classes. No one is offering this education right now to the public because advisors know estate planning attorneys, one of their biggest lead sources is financial advisors. They're not out there doing seminars to bring in new business, they're relying on great advisor connections who just send them business. They take those leads say thank you and then they work them. Whereas the consumer has this need to understand how to take generational wealth and make sure the grandkids are taken care of. Right now, there is a big need in the industry for people that are willing to educate on that.
It's marketing. Everything is scientific or it's a science and it's kind of scientific, but you're always going to get that person in the room that either doesn't have money or tells you they don't have money because they don't like you right. So, you must weigh your pros and cons of, is this an endeavor I wish to partake in? If you only want to sit in front of 5 million plus dollar people and you don't want to deal with educating people under that I would say seminars are probably not for you, but if you have sub reps, if you have additional advisors in your office that would benefit from that, from that growth and you see value in educating your community and becoming that thought leader I don't know that there is a better way to connect with a human being besides standing in front of them and helping them become more confident in their financial situation.
Swift: Amen to that. Well, many of my tribe would say it’s your fiduciary duty to be out there and help educate the general population and whether they ever work with you or would qualify you're doing the right thing. I think everything that I've heard today is exciting and I would encourage all my listeners, my viewers to check out, is it WhiteGlove.com? Give us a URL.
Swineheart: That's it. WhiteGlove.com. We like to keep things simple.
Swift: All right and I know that you're going to send me some kind of a special offer between now and when we get this up and that will be right here on MarieSwift.com on my Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry blog. Everyone make sure to look at the post on MarieSwift.com to find the special offer and a little bit more about Brad and White Glove. In the last minute or so that we've got, is there anything you wish you would have said would have said, or that you'd like to leave our viewers and listeners with?
Swineheart: Well, I just want to thank you for having me on. I think this was a wonderful conversation. If anybody heard this today, you listened to this and you thought, well I wonder if seminars are for me. I don't really understand the social media aspect. What does nurturing look like in 2022? Feel free to check out White Glove and see what services we offer.
If you just want to pick my brain, I am an open book. I do a lot of coaching and training and I love just helping advisors, even if you never work with White Gloves. Feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn or connect with me on there. I'd love to answer any questions or even look at your social media to see if I can give you any unsolicited feedback.
Swift: Who wouldn't want to work with you, Brad? You're so personable and I'm looking right into your office, and you have the coolest office ever. I would like to come and sit with you in that office on a Friday afternoon.
Swineheart: You can, you can. There's a little bottle of wine here. Maybe crack open a little bit later a Friday. I made this artwork myself one time. I just got bored. It's a Detroit Edison manhole cover, and I took that photo, doctored it up so I like to have a lot of flavor in the office for sure.
Swift: My daughter likes to say there are creative types mom, people like to hang around with you. So, with that I think we should close for now and we will be in touch because I know that I'm going to make an appearance on your podcast at some point in the future and we can continue the conversation then.
Swineheart: Yes, check out, Be Advised. That'd be my podcast and we’re going to have you on there and I can't wait. That's going to be a lot of fun.
Swift: We’ll talk about PR and how it ties into marketing. With that thanks Brad, appreciate your time and being here today.
Swineheart: Thank you.