The Inside Scoop of a Game-Changing Merger with Alex Hug

Alex Hug
CEO of Acquire Direct and Co-Founder of Leadjig
May 8, 2024

This episode Candace & Dean welcome Alex Hug, the CEO of Acquire Direct & Co-Founder of Leadjig. They discussed the strategic merger between Leadjig & White Glove & how the two companies are aligned in terms of vision, culture and founder mentality.

This episode Candace and Dean welcome Alex Hug, the CEO of Acquire Direct and Co-Founder of Leadjig.  

They discussed the strategic merger between  Leadjig and White Glove and how the two companies are aligned in terms of vision, culture and founder mentality to propel their businesses forward. 

Beyond the merger, you’ll hear a compelling conversation between two industry leaders on: 

  •  Adapting your marketing: Discover how to meet prospects where they are and tailor strategies for different audiences. 
  • The Alex Hug story: Gain insights into Alex’s journey as a business owner and the development of Leadjig. 
  • Tech in finance: Explore the rapid adoption of technology in the financial advisor space.  


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Podcast Transcript

Voice Over (00:00.686) 

Welcome to the FAST Podcast, your go-to source for financial advisor strategy talks, hosted by me, Candace Byrnes, the Lead Creative Designer on the marketing team at White Glove. And with me, I have Dean Thurman, Cofounder of both White Glove and Invest Wise Financial. Join us as we dive into valuable insights from industry experts, providing actionable tips to accelerate your success. 

Candace Byrnes (00:31)

All right, thank you for tuning in for our next episode of the Fast Podcast. Dean and I are excited to bring someone in today who is now pretty close to us at White Glove. We have Alex Hug here, who is one of the co -founders of Lead Jig, who has now merged with White Glove to create this combined company that will only benefit advisors even further than both companies already have.  

So, without further ado, Alex, go ahead and give us a little introduction of yourself.  

Alex Hug (00:58)

Sure. Thanks, Candice. I'm Alex Hug. I've been the CEO of AcquireDirect and co -founder of Lead Jig now for about 12 years. We launched Lead Jig in 2016. However, I've been operating in this seminar and workshop marketing space serving financial advisors for over a decade now.  

Candace Byrnes (01:19)

Yeah, absolutely. I feel like White Glove and Lead Jig are very known names in the industry. And that's one thing I want to start this conversation off with is that I have Dean here, who is the co -founder of White Glove. And then I also have you as co -founder of Lead Jig.  

Dean Thurman (01:33) 

And we were big competitors. Two years ago, I would have never thought I was sitting doing a podcast with Alex Hug of Acquire Direct. They were the enemy for so long, you know, but we've become fast friends along with our other co -founders from White Glove and from Lead Jig and Acquire and all those guys there. And I'll tell you, one of the things that really strikes me the most about this merger is just how aligned the personalities and the vision and the culture are of the two companies.  

So, I'd be interested in, go ahead, Alex.

Alex Hug (02:11)

Yeah, no doubt. I think it's awesome when two businesses that still have a founder -owned, founder mentality come together. just because founders tend to create these specific cultures that are a little bit different than maybe the larger and more corporate type environments. So, seeing that the cultures come together, there's no clash at all. And I attribute that primarily to having that founder spirit and the entrepreneurial spirit that it took to not only launch the business but propagate it to a successful moment where a merger like this makes sense.

Dean Thurman (02:42) 

And you've been, you've been in the industry and helping financial advisors grow their practices for more than 15 years, mostly focused on seminars of course, as White Glove has been since I think 2015 or so.  

When you first started hearing about White Glove and this new company and this new business model, was it an exciting time for you? Was it questionable? What was going through your head?  

Alex Hug (03:07)

Well, it was interesting watching White Glove's launch and proliferation into the industry, particularly because there was this convergence of digital media with the traditional direct mail universe.  

And at the time there really was not a single channel digital leader within space. And it was very clear out of several different companies serving advisors with digital marketing services to support seminars, it was very clear that White Glove was rising a bit faster than the others. And that was fun to watch.  

Also, threatening incumbents that have been in the industry for several decades. When you consider the heritage of the business originated with direct mail and has since evolved into the use of omni -channel, where you'd use some combination of direct mail and digital to serve advisors and their marketing needs to have this single channel digital solution that the industry at the time had never really explored. It really turned some heads, and it was fun to watch and certainly interesting from an espionage standpoint, watching you guys at conferences, wondering how the product is structured, what makes that product so unique and differentiated from the traditional processes that were implemented for decades prior?  

Candace Byrnes (04:23)

I love that question. And it raises an even bigger question for me. Just getting into the nitty gritty of the merger, who made the first move? What was the decision?

What was the timeline that happened that led us to today that this decision was made? Because like you said before, you guys were competitors. You saw each other at conferences, and it was kind of this, you know, stay, stay away from them and keep making ourselves better. And now we're together.  

Alex Hug (04:51)

Yeah, as fate would have it. Um, our business focused a lot on the technology side with Lead Jig and becoming the most tech enabled seminar service provider in the omnichannel space. And with our roots and our expertise in this direct mail arena, and then our gradual entry into the digital space, the answer became very clear where this marriage of tech enablement through the Lead Jig platform, usage of data through the Prospectics tool that we've developed internally, and then combining that with the foremost digital seminar marketing business in the country is just like pouring gasoline on this.  

So, there's a great opportunity to implement that technology across all the services that we provide advisors from a seminar perspective. So those clients of White Glove now have the benefit of Lead Jig and its technology. And then furthermore, the digital prowess from the White Glove side is now making its way into our omni -channel services with Acquire Direct and Lead Jig. So, it's a win-win, certainly a force multiplier, one plus one equals three type situations. And the synergies are just fantastic.

So, we are now combined, not only the foremost digital service provider, but we are also the largest omni -channel service provider, and we are also the largest tech enabled and most tech enabled service provider. And it's all for the benefit of the advisor. A hundred percent of what we built, and correct me if I'm wrong, Dean, but a hundred percent of what you built was inspired by serving the needs of what advisors need and conquering the challenges of marketing and client acquisition in growth engines that they can control outside of their sphere of influence and referrals and things of that nature.  

So, it's been a lot of fun where you've had your category of expertise and we've had ours and putting them together only benefits the industry that much more.  

Dean Thurman (06:46) 

One thing that really surprised me when we first started talking about the merger was just how tech forward Acquired Direct and Lead Jig were. You've always been optimizing to put the right audience in front of an advisor. It wasn't, you know, willy -nilly sending out mailers and, you know, that's what I incorrectly thought that, okay, here's a zip code We'll just send out a bunch of mailers, but hey, at digital, we can really focus.

And they were far more tech enabled, which really benefits the advisor. And like I said, on previous podcasts, you can be the smartest financial advisor. You can be just fantastic with your rates of return and financial planning. But if your lobby is empty, you're going to go out of business.  

So, what Alex and his team has done and what White Glove has done for the financial advising industry using technology has really advanced the cause of good financial advisors being able to stay in the business and thrive.  

And now together, we can really lean into that for advisors.  

Candace Byrnes (08:01)

Yeah, I mean, switching gears now to an advisor point of view, Dean, that's what you perfectly bring here today.

So, from your own experience, which we got far into last week with our episode, but where along the way would you, this is a loaded question, but where would you recommend that an advisor makes the decision between more of a lead jig approach or a white glove approach, which I'm not trying to put the two against each other. I'm just saying more of if we're, if we're going to start looking at this in, in a like types of service view, at what point in your career would you have gone back and done one versus the other?  

Dean Thurman (08:41) 

You know what? Both works great. I know that kind of sounds like a political answer.

My cousin, Mike Thurman, who's my financial planning business partner and co -founder of White Glove, you know, we were financial advisors, and you must market one way or another.

And it really doesn't matter if you're putting yourself out there one way or another, you need to be in front of an audience. So, whatever you're more comfortable with. One misnomer about the two firms was that, you know, hey, Acquire Direct doesn't do digital. Well, they do. Or they don't do educational. Well, they did.

Another misnomer about White Glove was, hey, they don't do food seminars, they don't believe in that or some of that is not true either. 10 to 15% of our events have always been food -based events. So just getting in front of a crowd, whatever the advisor is most comfortable with, make sure you have a mentor, somebody that can really coach you and lead you on how to present at a seminar or whatever marketing you're doing.

Candace Byrnes (09:46)

Right, and that is the biggest part.  

Either way.

Dean Thurman (09:48) 

Big time and the calls to action and the follow -up, which is why we put together host university and we can talk more about that at another time.

But I don't think that there's a right answer or wrong answer, but you have to market. If you're not in front of prospects, you're going to go out of business. Your company is going to die.  

Alex Hug (10:06)

Yeah. And you touched on something about, you know, they both work, right? Venue type, whether it's a library event, a dinner event, a community college.  

And really at the end of the day, marketing is about meeting your prospect where they are. Meet your prospects based on the stage of life that you're in.

For example, you're not going to use social security messaging for individuals that are in their 40s and still in the accumulation stage of life. You're going to identify individuals that are approaching that age to opt into social security, right? And that concept of meeting your prospect where they are transcends not only that, but also, you know, venue selection. There are certain households that only want to be educated and informed. Others would say, it better be worth my time. You know, what are you going to do for me to reciprocate my time commitment to this?  

Candace Byrnes (10:54)

Thats an interesting way to look at it.

Alex Hug (10:55)

Yeah, what we've found is that different households respond entirely differently or don't respond at all. And it's not just messaging, topic, venue, it's all the above. And it's for whatever stage of life they may be in, whatever they require to give their time. So, some people are willing to request If you give me valuable information, I will give you, my time. Others would say, you better do something for me if I'm going to have to drag my wife out to dinner or vice versa.  

And so, our whole world in breadth of services is an attempt to meet every household, every U.S. consumer household, where they are at that stage in their life and whatever requirements they have, we'd like to fulfill so that we can facilitate introductions to these people and financial advisors across the country who offer the greatest service of financial ease, financial confidence.

I mean, you've done this for your entire life. I mean, it must be one of the most rewarding careers serving the community, educating people, making them feel comfortable that, you know, they're going to be okay in retirement or that they're on the right track saving for retirement.  

Candace Byrnes (12:06)

You're speaking Dean's language right now.  

Alex Hug (10:08)

Yeah, it has to be a fulfilling career.  

Dean Thurman (09:48) 

It is an absolutely fulfilling career. And now that I've been doing it for, I guess, 34 years we could do a whole podcast series on just the lives that are touched. Just like our listeners to the podcast, I mean, one of the reasons that they got in the business for sure was to help people make a good living, control their own schedule.  

But again, it all comes back to making sure that you can thrive as an advisor and 80%, more than 80% of folks that get registered, unfortunately, kind of fail out of the business within the first five years of registration and all comes back down to marketing.

You hit on something really important, Alex, how different people are and meet them where they're at. And what I took from that, and I want everybody that's listening to the podcast to think about their neighbors, people that live to the left of them, to the right of them and across the street of them, and how different not only they are as their personality types, but also where they are in life and some folks will never go to a dinner seminar because they feel like, hey, what is this? It's too salesy.  

Some people will never follow up from an educational seminar because they don't feel like there's any reciprocity there and it was too cold, if you will.

Alex Hug (13:35)

Or they received the information they were looking for and they're satisfied.  

Dean Thurman (13:37) 

And that's that. And then they're out of there like a college class. And one of the big struggles White Glove had initially been most of our hosts that presented at these educational facilities came from doing seminars at dinner seminars and whatnot. And they're used to people hanging out after the seminar, because you gave me a meal, we're going to talk a little bit. And the reciprocity was there. And that's just how society works, right? I mean, you break bread with somebody and there's a bond there.

Well, in a library or community center, as soon as that bell rings, just like college or high school, you just want to get the heck out of there. So, I was like, hey, where'd everybody go?  

So, both White Glove and now the combined company with Acquire Direct, and Lead Jig have coaches and training and the Salesforce in Tampa, as well as the Salesforce up here in Michigan. Our consultants are just helping facilitate the next event and they can help guide people to touch each of the different kinds of neighbors that you might have.

Candace Byrnes (14:51)

Yeah, I really like that because I mean, being on the marketing team for White Glove, I've gotten used to this whole narrative of we're constantly pushing educational events over steak dinners and that's just because that was what we had done prior to combining the two.

So, it's really eye -opening even for me to hear it from you, Alex, of, you know, some people want to go to an event and it's a little bit of that what's in it for me mentality. Like if I'm coming here to give you my time, but then I also obviously see the side that's the opposite with educational events. You want to go somewhere for education and not for like, you know, not to be, not to feel like you owe somebody something back, but that really opened my eyes towards the other side.  

Like, you know, now I understand the argument for the two, but I do have a question. I do want to switch gears for a moment. Alex, tell me a little bit about how you got into this industry, not having a financial advisor background.  

Alex Hug (15:53)

Sure. So, growing up, this could be a very long story because it starts at a very young age. But growing up Acquire Direct was founded by my dad in the eighties.

It has had many iterations in its evolution, and it's evolved over time. And in and around high school, I worked as a summer intern at Acquire Direct. And I was one of the guys in, you know, the little cubicle in the corner, researching advisors online, reading about advisors, calling into them to learn about their business and seeing if seminars might be something that they do currently or would be interested in doing.

Identifying qualified advisors for the Acquire Direct team to introduce themselves to and eventually hopefully facilitate their seminar marketing.  

So, at a very young age, teenage years, I was speaking with financial advisors and having a great time doing it because they're all, for the most part, all great people, a whole lot of fun. It also was helpful to being a younger person trying to be educated and learn the industry and the process, and that was the way I was getting something out of my internship. Was learning an entire industry, cutting my teeth, not only in terms of selling, but in terms of understanding what financial advisors do and who they work with and so forth and what the seminar is and why that's effective.  

So, it's kind of been ingrained in me throughout my younger years. It inspired me to study finance in college. It inspired me to get into finance, albeit, in a more equities research type role, which was fun, but a bit on the academic side.  

You know, you tend to do a lot of reading and not a lot of interacting with folks. So, after learning that and doing that for several years, I knew it was time to get back and be more interactive and interact with advisors more frequently. In fact, that was the most fun I had even in my short finance career in equities research. It was interacting with advisors that use the different funds that I worked for, those were the most fun times in my job there.

So, getting back into this seminar marketing game in 2010 -Ish, that was the best part about it, was I got to spend time with advisors more.  

So that's how I got into it, and then, you know, it's been my passion ever since.

Candace Byrnes (18:16)

Wow. Yeah, that's quite an early start then.  

So even though you weren't a financial advisor yourself, you've kind of been surrounded by it since you were a kid.

Alex Hug (18:24)


Dean Thurman (18:25) 

And I want to hear a little bit more about the fun, speaking with financial advisors, because every time I go to one of these conferences, and I know you've been to a lot of them, there are personalities from all over the place, our industry is, as everybody knows.  

So, I'd like to hear about, a little bit about what made it fun to talk to advisors?

What are advisors like us like?  

Alex Hug (18:46)

Well, so in equities research, you know, analysts, function as well as global macro research for mutual fund, mutual fund product. When you go and interact with advisors, you typically present on the state of the markets, you present on fund performance, the position that you have going forward, take a Q&A. And what I always found to be most interesting, not only in the Q&A, but usually in the cocktail hour that followed these events, was talking with advisors who really wanted to know that's great information. It's been very informative, it’s going to help me, I'm educated on the product, Thank you. How do I sell it?  

And the biggest question most folks had and the most value we could give as presenters and as information providers or experts on the markets and so forth, the most valuable stuff that we could offer was why these matters to a client. You know, how do you sell it? Why does this matter to George and Sue who sit across from me tomorrow at my first meeting with them or my portfolio update with them.  

And then that brings you back to the whole concept of this whole world is built on relationships and trust. And there's a lot of products out there and there's tons of options. But at the end of the day, Greg and Shirley may not even know the funds that they're put into or the investment products that they have, the name of the insurance carrier. They don't know any of that, but they know my financial advisor's name is Dean.

Right and Dean's got my back and that's the fun part and that's when you come to that realization where you know Wow, we were running a great fund and our performance is amazing, but at the end of the day We need to help advisors help people.

And that's paramount to whether we're ten basis points better than the Morningstar average.

Dean Thurman (20:35) 

Yeah, you know, I think that's a real big miss misconception in our industry is that you know what people think we do you've seen those memes, you know: what my mom thinks I do, what my friends think I do, what I really do.  

And most people think that we're very, I always mess this word up, cerebral.  

But, you know, it is so personality based, and a lot of advisors tend to be, you know, extroverted, right? Talkers, very friendly because picking a financial advisor is not like picking an attorney or a dentist or some other professional that your kind of in and out of there pretty quick and they just kind of do their thing or whatever.  

It is sitting across from somebody for the next 30 years and really feeling comfortable with that person, obviously trusting that person. And so, whether it's 10 basis points this way or 10 basis points that way or buy here and sell there and all of that, that's not really what most clients are looking for.

They're looking for somebody that they know that they like that they can trust. And that's why, at least what we decided, seminars were the best way to kind of let your personality come out in front of a group. But at the end of the day, we need those great products too, for clients.  

Alex Hug (22:01)

But that's what makes our business so fun, offering services to the financial advisor community, serving them as this third-party expert on marketing, trying to take that off their plate and providing that expertise is we're selling into our business.

We interact with the best of the best personalities in the country because those advisors that are thriving, those advisors that are successful, that have the means to continuously conduct marketing and continue growing tend to be great people.  

And so, our end market as a third-party service provider is just an ideal place to come to work every day and talk to advisors and go to conferences and interact because there's no better folks out there versus dealing with the likes of dentists or lawyers, nothing against them, but very different personalities.  

Candace Byrnes (22:48)

I think that's something I love about the work I do on our marketing team. And it's something I never even expected to come in. I wasn't in the financial industry before. I, before this was in real estate. And then before then, you know, I've been in sports and whatnot. So, I've kind of made quite a few rounds in the marketing industry.

One thing I love about what we offer to financial advisors is that there's no like shady sales. Like I'm not trying to sell you something that I don't believe in, I guess is the best way I can put it. And I have a big personality. There's no, no hiding that at all. So, I love working with people where it's, you know, it’s a given that you know how to give advice and you know what you're talking about. It's a given that you are a financial advisor, and you should be trained, and one can only hope that you really know what you're doing.  

But if I don't like you, then why would I choose you over this other person that I'm also assuming knows what they're going to do? And of course, there are people that are better advisors than others, but that first jump in the door, it doesn't matter if Like if you're rude to me or if I just don't get that right feel, then I'm not going to work with you, And seminar marketing is just key to putting yourself out there, which can sound scary for people, but if you just be transparent and educate the community, And that's another thing is it's all around. It's all circled around just raising financial literacy.

So, everything to do is seminar marketing, I just love it. I think it's like the best way that people can bring more people into their lobby.


Dean Thurman (24:38) 

I love seminar marketing too, but there's a lot of other ways to market.  

Candace Byrnes (24:41)


Dean Thurman (24:42) 

Whether you're on billboards or a radio show or you belong to the Rotary Club or the local country club or in an attorney's network or something, you just must be out there marketing.  

Certainly, seminars should be part of it, in my opinion, for a lot of reasons. But getting out there, letting your personality shine, be likable, be trustworthy, always do the right thing.  

These aren't things that surprise anybody that is listening. That's probably one of the reasons that you enjoy the industry so much and Alex is outsiders really of the industry. The good advisors rise, the good personalities rise. A lot of these personalities are at conferences.  

And I know that you and your business partner, Danny, were just telling us last night when we were kind of brainstorming about things. You went on some type of road trip as you're building your business? What can you tell us about that road trip?

Alex Hug (25:48)

Yeah, this had to be 2018 or so.  

Lead Jig was launched in 2016 and it was really getting traction and we were starting to get a lot of interest from different folks and FMOs and broker dealers as well.

As you know, there's a lot of conferences that are put on and typically there's a conference season we've found and there's a bit heavier travel during certain times of the year. One of them being the very beginning of the year.  

In this instance, Danny and I were always the road warriors early on, you know, we were the guys running around, setting up tables, dragging the big conference box through the airport and whatnot.  

But there was this one three plus week, three and a half week span where we had six or so conferences that were multi-day, all out west. There was no window of time to fly home and then fly back out. And we wanted to travel relatively light. And so, we ended up having a single night during that entire period that was not either transit or conference attendance. One single night where we could book a hotel room and just chill.  

Of course, we had to get our laundry done at the hotel. It's the first time I've ever had my laundry done at the request at the hotel. Just take my suitcase and launder it. We're halfway through this trip. But it was a blast. Tiring, but a blast.  

Candace Byrnes (27:11)

You get close with each other, I assume, on a trip like that.

Alex Hug (27:15)

Oh, you do.  

Candace Byrnes (27:16)

You're mentally, I feel like your social battery had to have been low towards the end.  

Alex Hug (27:19)

You know what though, it was so fun because it was at a time where Lead Jig had a huge technology roadmap with upcoming features that we hadn't built yet. And we were still revising and revamping, you know, all the stuff we wanted to keep building there.  

So, it was a perfect incubator interacting with clients who have been using the tool for the first time, giving us feedback. Then we'd unpack that, you know, over dinner in the evening and chat through each and everything that we heard from advisors, what they like about it, what we could change. And “It would be cool if” was a huge statement that we heard a lot and whenever you hear “it would be cool if” is when we start listening and that's really what we use to develop and shape much of what Lead Jig is today and continue to do so.  

Now we have a support team where every week they're getting multiple “it would be cool if” or “what if we could do this” and all that gets put in into a system and we talk about it the same way Danny and I did on our three-week road trip that was exhausting but a lot of fun.  

Dean Thurman (28:19) 

Tell us a little bit about Lead Jig because I know there was Acquire Direct and there was Lead Jig, like whose brainchild, was it? What was, what was kind of the beginning of that?

Alex Hug (28:30)

So, it is, we’ll say it's a team effort. But originally, I had hired a development group to come in and we were talking through solving a single problem that I wanted to improve for our business. And in that same conversation, you know, in this conference room, Danny joined me at the time.  

We were talking about this single issue and then the same, “it would be cool if”, or “well, can you do that for us?” “Can you do that?” “Can it do this?” And what should have been a 30-minute meeting or maybe an hour turned into like a four-hour discussion. And the scope of what we thought we were going to do to solve a single problem became what Lead Jig is, or at least the 1.0 version of it back in 2015 and 16 when it was under development.  

But the real vision for that outside of just discovering how great development and software can prevail over sneaker ware a lot of the time.

That discovery was incredible, and it led to the thesis where we decided let's identify what enterprises do, large enterprises, Fortune 500s. It was at a time when everyone's talking about big data, before AI, you know, but big data was a huge hot word, yada, yada.  

ERPs were coming into fruition. CRM adoption was going through the roof. Advisors were picking up CRMs. This is all kind of during this period where, you know, technology adoption by the advisor universe was happening. So, in basic technology options, you know, single fundamental things that no business could live without today. But at the time it was all relatively new.

So, we were chit chatting about how we could take enterprise level solutions, dial it down to almost a plug and play bespoke industry specific technology. So, unlike the likes of a net suite or a Salesforce, for example, where you need engineers and an implementation team, and it takes several months to get this software working for you and your business.  

We wanted to build something that was perfectly tailored for the advisor and what their immediate needs were So we could turn this thing on, and it would work without an implementation team or a six-month rollout. And as soon as you conduct a marketing campaign, Lead Jig comes to life immediately for you. And it was that speed of value creation where it's just, you know, the moment you want to do a marketing campaign, Lead Jig is going to start working for you right in front of your very eyes. We can configure it for you in less than 30 minutes.  

So, that theme of enterprise level, dial it down into an easy-to-use tailored solutions specific to an industry that we have served and have expertise in. And we continue to share that approach today as we go forward with any technology roadmap for what we do with the market.  

Dean Thurman (31:28) 

Luckily, it is very easy to use. I was very jealous when I first saw it. I wish that we would have thought of it. Very easy to use. It's brilliant and it's really helped our practice, both not just with the people we see for a summary for all CRM. It's great.  

So, I think you've very much achieved what you guys started out to do with that.

Alex Hug (28:30)

And it's not just within our, within Lead Jig and that's not like an anomaly, right? If you look at the CRM background or backdrop rather, and you look at market share of CRM for financial advisors, I believe that the T3 survey, you know, a year or so ago, was astounding to see the likes of Red Tail, Wealth Box, Advisor Engine, and so many more with higher market share than that of Salesforce.  

And that's a great case study or a great example of why building things that are tailored to the industry, tailored specifically for financial advisors, has superior value than some of these generalists otherwise considered industry -leading CRMs and other technologies, right?  

Salesforce requires the engineers and the implementation and advisors, and I don't blame them, frankly, while they have the resources to do it, don't have time for that. It's not productive.  

Dean Thurman (32:43) 

We want to Golf. That does not sound like any fun. We just want it to be easy to use and help me sell stuff.

Alex Hug (32:50)

And kudos to all those CRMs, Redtail, Wealth Box, Advisor Engine, all the others that I didn't name.  

I envy the fact that I didn't think about this or have the epiphany at the time that those businesses, you know, put that together.

And now they're great integration partners with Lead Jig. So, it's just, it's been awesome to see, but it's just further evidence that, you know, focused expertise on a vertical focused expertise on who our customer is, which is the financial advisor is what enables you to win.  

For us in our business and for the advisor in their business, right? They're picking the solutions that are best in class for them specific to their industry and what they need. And those businesses that fail to recognize that will not succeed working in the advisor vertical.

Dean Thurman (33:37) 

So obviously, you know, just hearing that and the kind of journey from idea to an easy-to-use solution for advisors, very impressive, very tech forward.  

So, my question to you, and I know a little bit of this and don't go further than you feel comfortable, but I think everybody listening to our podcast would like to know, you know, what's next? What do you see? You talk about data, you talk about, you mentioned AI, obviously white glove, you know, we're the first ones to use Facebook and other social media to target the right prospects to attend a seminar. And then, you know, what you just described certainly does not sound like, you know, just a print shop that's sending out mailers is far, far beyond that.  

So, we already know those stories. In the next few years, what can advisors expect without spilling any, you know, company secrets.  

Alex Hug (34:35)

More broadly speaking, I think the theme that I find to be most interesting for today's times is the speed that technology adoption is taking place now. Back in the day, people said that the financial advisor industry tends to be late adopters of technology. I think that now that couldn't be further from the truth.  

I mean you can't open FA Magazine or some of the other industry rags without seeing this commentary on all this amazing technology that's being used immediately or is growing rapidly, expanding rapidly. You know, the big data world, you know, that was years of trying to crack that nut and how that should work. AI on the other hand, I mean, there's elementary school and middle schoolers prompt engineering AI right now with, with chat GPT, it's just so easy to use.

So, you're going to see this, the rate of adoption, how fast that happens in this industry and all industries accelerate more and more and more. But the theme that I'm most interested in is rapid adoption of all those things, you know, automation, text communication, AI content creation through AI compliance review and approval through AI.

There’s going to be a battle, it cuts both ways, of the regulatory environment and how they view AI, the likes of FINRA and others, as well as the regulatory environment on consumer privacy and data.  

So, while all this adoption is happening very quickly, I think that the leading technologies are going to be the ones that can navigate in the most compliance -friendly fashion and do so first to become you know, a champion in space.  

Dean Thurman (36:29) 

And the ones that the advisors will use, I'll speak firsthand, are the ones that are the easiest for us to use. One thing I've heard from you and Danny is everything that you want to do within your, with your company and now our company is to make the user experience for the advisor smooth, easy, and best in class. And as a visionary yourself, I'm a very tech enabled visionary I am really looking forward to what you guys bring out next and what we bring out together.

Alex Hug (36:57)

Yeah, it's going to be a blast.

Candace Byrnes (36:59)

Yeah, together is the huge part there. It's all new.  

Well, with that, I want to ask you something that we're going to kind of keep as a theme as we go with our guests. And I think it just goes perfectly with where we’re talking about how Lead Jig started and where you came from.  

So, with that, I would love to know if you knew everything you know now, if you could go back to any point, whether that be a year ago or 10 years ago, is there anything that you would have done differently or advice that you would have given yourself then?  

Alex Hug (37:33)

I would have started innovating sooner. would have been less fearful of innovating or developing in a direction that didn't work and we needed to pivot. Right.  

Because when you think about it, you know, at least Back then, as we were cutting our teeth with building a web application, building software, you know, the big fear was, hey, we're going to build it this way. This is our budget. And if it's wrong, you know, it was a sunk cost.  

Well, now, you know, the faster we got into learning the development world and assembling the resources around that, you know, we now realize that, you know, this development process can be far more fluid than that without a defined start and end date. So, I wish I had, I had learned the ropes sooner so that we could be delivering interesting technology to the market earlier and be even further ahead on our technology roadmap.

Dean Thurman (38:27) 

You're still among them, if not the first, you're among the first.

It's always, you know, better to do it a little bit quicker. I thought your answer was going to be the same as mine, which is I wish we would have merged sooner.  

Thank you, Candice.  

Candace Byrnes (38:41)

I like that one. I mean, even with that though, I am going to, I'm going to nail it down a little bit further.

Everybody could say like, oh, I wish I would have started my business sooner. I wish I had figured this out quicker. That's, that's such a hard thing to wrap your head around because how are you supposed to, how are you supposed to expect that from yourself?

So, if you were to have to give advice to, you know, young Alex or somebody that's in a position like yourself was now, how, how would you be able to get that through to someone besides just saying like, oh, you should have figured it out quicker.

Alex Hug (39:18)

Okay, well, I would then pivot away from the development advice that I would provide. And that would be never underestimate the value of relationships, the lifetime value of relationships. Every single one of those that you build is accretive to your life over time.

So, be a relationship builder, a relationship maker, and not for the purposes of networking, but for the purposes of having real relationships with people, not only with your customers, with your employees, with your coworkers, with your competitors, all of the above, because at the end of the day, you know, this whole world is, is built on, on relationships and in particular in our industry relationships are paramount.

Having appreciation for the work that everybody does in their respective roles, whether it be our client base, whether it be our staff that supports our client base, all the above is, I would just say that emphasize relationships first.

Candace Byrnes (40:28)

I love that. That's basically where I mean most education comes from.

You can't get to the top if you don't have relationships and collaborate with others. So that's, that's cool. I feel like that was less of a pivot and more of an epiphany on the whole thing.  

Well, Dean, if you don't have anything last to ask Alex, I think that we've almost hit time here.  

Dean Thurman (40:53) 

I have a lot more to ask Alex, but I know that he's about to go into his next meeting.  

Candace Byrnes (40:58)

Well, without further ado, I want to say thank you so much. It's been really cool having, I mean, I've got Dean here with me all the time, but it's great having two very incredible minds sitting here together and two minds that are now combining their stories into one just incredible, not end game. I don’t see it that way, but I think that this merger is exciting and I'm excited to also be a part of it on the marketing side and watch as everything kind of falls into place.  

It's been exciting and I'm excited for all our clients and all of Lead Jigs clients and all, you know, Acquire Direct and everybody.  

So, with that, I just want to say thank you, Alex, so much for sharing.  

Alex Hug (41:39)

My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Dean Thurman (41:42) 

Thank you, Candace.  

And there's three great minds here.

Candace Byrnes (41:45)

Thank you so much.  

Well, join us again next time on the next episode of the FAST Podcast.  

Voice Over (00:00.174) 

Thanks for tuning in to the FAST Podcast. We'd love to hear from you. Have any questions or comments about the show? You can submit them on our website at WhiteGlove.com slash FAST podcast. The views and opinions expressed by our guests do not necessarily reflect those of White Glove or Invest Wise Financial. The content is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional investing advice. Once again, thank you for joining us on the FAST Podcast. 

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