In this Swift Chat conversation, Marie Swift speaks with Carl Richards CFP® of the Society of Advice and creator of The Behavior Gap at the Jolt! Conference about the difficulties and opportunities of living in volatile times. The two industry insiders and strategy consultants discuss the vulnerability underlying advisors' marketing decisions and navigating change beyond the financial plan.
Curious about the Society of Advice? Visit: TheSocietyofAdvice.com
People need help now more than they ever needed it. The world is not less uncertain. It's not less volatile than it was a year ago or two years ago. And so people need the help of a real financial advisor now more than ever. And that means getting out and telling your story. Having conversations, leaning into those, being okay with not knowing the answer, staying super curious, all those things." ~ Carl Richards, Behavior Gap / The Society of Advice
Transcript of Conversation
Marie Swift: Carl, it is so good to see you. Where are we?
Carl Richards: First of all, we are at the Jolt! Conference in Las Vegas, and this is the campsite they set up for me. So this is called Camping with Carl, which has been super fun.
Swift: Right in the middle of the Aria Resort, which is all glitz and glam.
Richards: I mean, our original plan was to drive my big adventure truck in here, but apparently it's a bad idea to drive trucks into hotels. So we just set up the campsite.
Swift: So tell me, why are you even here?
Richards: So originally there was some conversations about doing a keynote, but I've sort of stopped doing a lot of keynotes just because this is more fun. So there's this Camping with Carl thing we're doing, just to have conversations, and then I'm working with Snappy Kraken on a big announcement on what's called the Behavior Gap Exclusive Content Package inside of Snappy Kraken products. So that will be something we announce soon.
Swift: Oh, wow. So all of your great sketches and other content, that's going to be available through the Snappy Kraken content portal.
Richards: Exactly, exactly. Super excited about it.
ASK YOURSELF: DO I HAVE ANYTHING VALUABLE TO SAY?
Swift: What kind of conversations are you having here? What's interesting?
Richards: Well, because Jolt! is a marketing conference, we've been having a lot of conversations around this big, giant, scary word we call "marketing" which has been super fun. To me what's most interesting is, sure, it's really important to understand the tactical things to do, right? Like how do I create a podcast and should I be on LinkedIn? And all of those like tactical pieces are really interesting and there's lots of super smart people that are here to talk about that. But I'm far more interested in the thing behind that. The fear, the worry, the concern, of "do I have anything valuable to say?"
And I see that come up time and time again, whenever we talk about social media or content marketing, advisors are like, "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...." and then there's this moment. You can almost see it where, "oh no... Number One, I don't know how to do that. Number Two, I don't think I have anything valuable to say." And I'm far more interested in that conversation.
COMING OUT OF THE BUNKER: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHANGE
Swift: So I remember when we talked about the Conversations That Matter, when I was polling advisors, like, how is it for you talking to your clients? And they were going through a lot of battle fatigue and you and I had a Swift Chat then, and we talked about listening and just self care and being resilient and you offered so much good advice then.
Now it's about two, two and a half years later and I wonder, just from your perspective, how things have changed and what you're hearing through your community, this Society of the Real Advisors?
Richards: The Society of Advice. And we did call it for a while The Secret Society of Real Financial Advisors.
So in terms of what we're hearing and what people are saying to me, it feels... I don't know if it's a good analogy, but it feels like we're all sort of coming out of a bunker, right? It feels like spring, which is nice because it is spring, but it feels like a two-year long spring which again, brings back the same problem, though. Like what do I do now? How do I...? And to me, fascinatingly, we've all as humans been given permission to rethink things that we've been doing in the past. Like you can live in a different place. You can work from home, you can wear flip flops to a conference, right?
Like there's all sorts of... and that can feel unmooring because some of the structure that we've had traditionally [has disappeared], and because options come with a little bit of uncertainty and fear. And so again, it's all back to the same place of "how do I navigate an environment that's constantly changing, especially when it comes to these conversations with clients and marketing?"
BEYOND THE FINANCIAL PLAN
Swift: As we think about what matters and what advisors can really do to add value to their client's lives, I know we talked about serving as a guide in a changing landscape when we last talked. And I love that metaphor because things change and you don't always know the answers. So any other advice as we leave today's closing Swift Chat, and what would you like to say for navigating?
Richards: It's just so important. And I think this last couple of years have given us all a clear reminder that there's an old saying that "people make plans and God laughs." So this idea that we can have everything locked down in this perfect thing we call a financial plan is a beautiful lie.
So I think what I would kind of beg people to just believe and remember is you're not a map drawer, right? You don't draw maps for living. You do, and that's incredibly important, but it's actually not really the valuable piece of what you do. After the maps drawn -- and please be the best map drawer you can like, we want technical rockstars -- but after the map is drawn, you've got to help people navigate because the only thing you know for sure about that map is that it's wrong.
And so let's just be gentle with each other, like take care of ourselves. Remember that navigating uncertainty is challenging. And from a marketing perspective, like let's get out and start talking about that. Like, look, people need help now more than they ever needed it. The world is not less uncertain. It's not less volatile than it was a year ago or two years ago. And so people need the help of a real financial advisor now more than ever. And that means getting out and telling your story. Having conversations, leaning into those, being okay with not knowing the answer, staying super curious, all those things.
Swift: So I'm going to reach down here and get my cool little stickers. So the Society of Advice with a dragon, I love that. And then this is very mysterious. So if people ask me what this is, I'm supposed to...
Richards: If somebody asks you what the dragon sticker is about, the only thing she's allowed to do is shrug your shoulders.
Swift: And then just the rest is up to them, right?
Richards: It's the end, I've got nothing more. I will answer no more questions.
Swift: Answer no more questions (chuckles). Well, on that note, let's get back to the conference.