The Virtual First Advantage: Empowering Financial Advisors in the Digital Age with Ross Marino

Ross Marino, CFP®
Founder of Transitus Wealth Partners
July 12, 2023

Lara is joined by Ross Marino, CFP®, CeFT®, an esteemed financial advisor with over 30 years of experience. As an author, social entrepreneur and founder of Transitus Wealth Partners, Ross brings a wealth of knowledge to the discussion.

It’s vital not to lose sight of the importance of human interaction and personalized guidance in the financial industry. Human-first financial guidance emphasizes the significance of building relationships, understanding individual needs and tailoring solutions accordingly. Financial advisors who prioritize the human aspect of their profession can provide empathetic support, establish trust and offer a more holistic approach to their clients’ financial well-being.  

In this episode, Lara is joined by Ross Marino, CFP®, CeFT®, an esteemed financial advisor with over 30 years of experience. As an author, social entrepreneur and founder of Transitus Wealth Partners, Ross brings a wealth of knowledge to the discussion. Together, they explore the concept of being “Virtual First” and its potential as a powerful tactic for financial advisors.  

Ross explains how going virtual can expand one’s client base, enhance productivity and improve efficiency. The barrier to connecting with clients is remarkably low in the virtual realm, making it an accessible and effective strategy for advisors seeking to strengthen their practice.  

In this episode, you’ll learn:  

  • Strategies for gaining and retaining clients virtually
  • How to screen clients via Zoom for increased efficiency
  • Why and how the virtual environment can strengthen client relationships
  • The differences between traditional financial planning and transitionist planning
  • And more!  

Connect with Lara Galloway:

Connect with Ross Marino:


Host University 2023:

About our Guest:  

Ross Marino has been a financial advisor for 30+ years, and he fell in love with investments in the 9th grade when he received a copy of Money Magazine as a birthday gift. He’s an author, social entrepreneur and founder of Transitus Wealth Partners, a fee-only financial planning firm specializing in human-first financial guidance.

Ross also founded Advisor2x (A2X), a professional development company for financial advisors. A2X hosts the SHIFT Conference for financial planners who value the psychology of financial planning and the Wealth@Wor(k) conference for 401(k) advisors.

He also hosts over 50 podcasts and YouTube shows each year and recently published his first book with co-author Susan Bradley — Shaping Change: How to Respond When Life Disrupts Your Retirement Plans.

Ross has been married for over 30 years, has two wonderful children and shares his home with multiple pets that live to be served by humans.  

Podcast Transcript

Voiceover: [00:00:00] Welcome to the FAST Podcast, Financial Advisor Strategy Talks with Lara Galloway, SVP of Financial Education at White Glove. Lara provides advisors with an opportunity to hear from some of the best minds in the business, follow along to learn quick tips to help you grow your business. From gaining new leads, to keeping current clients engaged and everything in between. 

Now onto the show.

Aric Johnson: Hello and welcome to the FAST Podcast with your host Lara Galloway from White Glove. Lara, what's going on?  

[00:00:05] Lara Galloway: Howdy, howdy, Aric. Good to see you.  

[00:00:09] Aric Johnson: It's good to see you too. I started this off a little, I don't know, my lips weren't working quite well. White Glove, I'm trying to say that, White Glove. I think I slurred that a little bit. I have not been drinking, I promise, I promise.  

[00:00:20] Lara Galloway: At least you didn't say White Gloves, which is what we get all the time, and it's like, no, just one. Just one.  

[00:00:25] Aric Johnson: Just one. We don't need two. We're that good. Just one. All right. Well, I'm excited to be back with you. You've got another fantastic guest on the show. I don't know what this gentleman does, but you said we're kind of, the three of us are kindred spirits in a way, so I'm really excited to hear what you're talking about.  

[00:00:42] Lara Galloway: Yeah. Well I am very excited to bring this man on today. I'm going to tell you a little bit about him, but I want to just share that I met him at the most fabulous conference that you have to go to next year. Make sure it's on your list. It's the SHIFT Conference, and it is amazing. It's all about the behavioral money, all of the behavioral finance stuff.  

[00:01:04] Aric Johnson: Oh, man.  

[00:01:05] Lara Galloway: Which you and I nerd out on, it's great stuff. You know, we've had Christine Luken on talking about money is emotional and you know, it's all that kind of good stuff. So that's why I'm saying we're kindred spirits. You'll really love this guy. So let me tell you all about him.

[00:01:19] Aric Johnson: Oh, please.

[00:01:20] Lara Galloway: Okay. With me today is Mr. Ross Marino, a financial advisor of 30+ years who fell in love with investments in the ninth grade, now that's amazing, when he received a copy of Money Magazine as a birthday gift. And I got to tell you, Ross, you and my husband share something very similar there, so that's a very funny story. Ross is an author, a social entrepreneur, founder of Transitus Wealth Partners, a fee-only financial planning firm specializing in human first financial guidance. Isn't that smart? Ross also founded Advisor2X, or we call it A2X, a professional development company for financial advisors. He hosts over 50 podcast and YouTube shows each year, and recently published his first book with co-author Susan Bradley, Shaping Change: How to Respond When Life Disrupts Your Retirement Plans. Ross has been married for over 30 years, has two wonderful children, and shares his home with a multitude of pets that live to be served by humans. I love this bio. Welcome Ross to the FAST Podcast.  

[00:02:26] Ross Marino: Thanks, Lara. Great to be on today.  

[00:02:28] Lara Galloway: Well, I just, I really appreciate getting you here. You know, I've been telling you for a while I've talked a lot since the SHIFT Conference and I've just enjoyed getting to know you so much. And one of the things that excited me is not just your pursuit of the behavioral side of money and making sure that you're helping your clients make these successful choices in life, and understanding how to help them make those choices because there's the whole behavioral side of money. It's not just logical, and empirical, and financial, right? I've enjoyed getting into that about you, but I also really enjoy who you are for the industry and it's been so exciting getting to hear more about what you're doing, kind of behind the scenes with SHIFT and with Advisor2X, but what really captivated me and made me want to just do an episode, this episode, and I want to do many more with you, but I wanted to do this episode about was when you and I chatted, and we were talking on Zoom and you started telling me how you were running your business virtual first, that you're basically virtual only, almost, right? And when we were talking, you were starting to, you had these very interesting props and techniques and I was like, dang, this is actually really smart. And Ross, we have so many advisors that either had to embrace webinars during Covid because they were doing seminars with us and then they couldn't, but then also who wanted, want to do webinars, but they're like, ah, they just don't work for me. And I'm like, wow, here's a guy who is virtual first, meeting with clients virtually, all this kind of stuff that you're doing, and you're making it work. And you actually have figured out, like your whole program, your whole system of how to do it. And that's what I really wanted to center our talk around today. So I just, before we get into all of that, can you tell me just a little bit about your business, like who you're working with. So you kind of situate that for our listeners today.  

[00:04:26] Ross Marino: We're a typical fee-only financial planning firm, so most of our prospects come to us within five years of retirement, let's say, or 10 years of retirement. So that part is pretty traditional. The only part that's a little different is we focus on transition planning. I'm a certified financial transitionist, part of Susan Bradley's organization, and life events are a big deal, whether it's a divorce or death of a spouse, selling a business, any big life event, it's a big deal. And that's when people want to reach out to financial advisors to get advice. So we're called Transitus Wealth because we focus on those big events and that's where we put our specialty of saying, this is what we do, we do transition planning. We do get people with different transitions, but really the bulk of it is going to be the pre-retirees or if they've just retired in two or three, four years and now they have money and they're making decisions. So it may look a little unique if you go to the website and look at it, but still the numbers are, it's traditional fee-only financial planning. You have your typical clients that come and you know, the typical networks, maybe one to five million which is pretty normal if you've been in the business for 20 or 30 years.

[00:05:35] Lara Galloway: Yeah. And this is what I find really interesting and I hope our listeners pick up on, I almost said our readers, which is kind of funny. What I hope our listeners pick up on, is that when I'm talking about you being virtual first, virtual forward, I think my mind went to, oh, you must work with younger clients. But that's actually not the case. So could you just kind of talk about that a little bit? Did you feel resistance? Like how did you get into doing virtual? Did you do that before Covid, or was that a result? Like, just talk me through that.  

[00:06:07] Ross Marino: Yeah, I wanted to do virtual for a long time. I can tell you that I launched my career almost exclusively over the phone because when I came to Wilmington, North Carolina, where I am now, to open a financial planning practice, I had a pretty severe back injury, and instead of going out, and meeting people, and having lunches, and doing normal financial planner stuff, I was pretty much in a room over my garage, laying on the floor on pillows and talking on the phone, trying to build a practice. Couldn't really sit, couldn't stand that much, so I launched the practice, pre-internet really. There wasn't much back then. But I launched it over the phone. So I wanted to get out and I wanted to connect with people, I just really wasn't able, so I started this long ago just out of necessity, not some, hey, this is a cool thing. I've got a vision. It's like, well I've got bills. What am I supposed to do? And that was pretty much...

[00:06:58] Lara Galloway: Bills and a bad back, yeah.  

[00:06:59] Ross Marino: And that was it, and although I've, you know, I'm much healthier now, I still don't sit well. So I don't do lunches with clients or dinners with clients. And I have some other situations where the evenings just aren't available. So for the last 25 years, I really haven't done in-person meetings that often. We had some of them in the office, but for the most part, we wanted to do Zoom. And of course then the pandemic hit and it was like, hallelujah to me. I'm like, Zoom baby, I am in. We're going all in. It's not an option anymore to come into the office. Except of course friends that are coming in anyway because you know, they want to see me and that's okay, but we just went Zoom that way. Not only was there no resistance, I'll tell you what's fascinating is the 80 and 90 year olds, I had someone say this to me and this kind of flipped a switch in my brain, if they wanted to see their grandkids during the pandemic, they're doing Zoom or FaceTime. Everybody's already doing it anyway. And I had a couple, there's a couple clients where it was tough for them. They get so excited when they finally figure out how to get Zoom working on their iPad. And then they see me on the screen and for them it's, oh, look, we're Zooming! I can see you! This is great! Can you hear me? Are we okay? And they get excited that they figured it out. I had one guy that, he's actually 90 years old, he must have spent two hours troubleshooting it because there was no way he wasn't going to figure this out. They actually get excited so, there may be resistance with some people upfront, but when you say, this is how we work, and I have an explanation of why I think Zoom is better and why we do Zoom meetings more frequently, the people come on board with it and I just really haven't had that much resistance from it.

[00:08:36] Lara Galloway: I'd love to hear that explanation actually. So what, when people ask why you're Zoom first or virtual first, what is your reason?  

[00:08:44] Ross Marino: Primarily, I say we're able to connect more frequently, and people ask a lot more questions that actually matter. Meaning you're not going to book an appointment and take up my time, because that's what I hear people say, to come in, come to the office, hang out for a half hour, an hour because you just have a question. But you will Zoom all day long. If you have a question, I already did a meeting this morning. It might have been 12 minutes. Quick question about an LTC policy where rates had gone up and they wanted to talk about it. People will Zoom immediately. It doesn't disrupt their day. They don't have to come in. It's way easier in the office. So I just share with people that people reach out to us a lot more. The other part is, is sometimes we try to do quarterly updates. There may not be that much going on, and we're not big on talking on investments all day long. So on a quarterly update to have a meeting to say there's really not much going on, kind of a waste of time for the client. But when we Zoom, we can say, yeah, there's not much going on. What's going on in your life? Those are never 12 minutes. We're always talking for 20, 30, 40 minutes. Often times, something comes up that we talk about, but sometimes it's just a check-in. So a check-in Zoom, just to see someone is great, but they're not going to do the meeting if it didn't seem like something was important. So I speak more frequently to people. They tend to ask more questions and we're able to advise them even more when we go to Zoom.  

[00:10:08] Lara Galloway: So this is obviously a completely rhetorical question for you, but how does that impact relationships?

[00:10:16] Ross Marino: There is, here's how I can say this. When I have to do a phone call, occasionally, it's almost agonizing because I can't see the people. So I can hear them and it takes so much concentration because I'm trying to figure out what are they thinking, how are they feeling, how's their body reacting? You don't get any of that. So from my end, it's extremely hard to really have insight into what's going on. And from their end, all they hear is me as a voice on the phone. It's completely different. Now, it is not face-to-face. It is not as good as face-to-face. But it is so close that to me it's well beyond good enough, and you're able to talk and chit chat and laugh and you just connect so much more. So to me, the phone calls, I don't know how many phone calls you would have to have to be equivalent to the connection that you can get with a Zoom call where we see each other. I'm really not sure it's possible, but to actually see someone and you know, we talk about the body language and tone of voice, all these facial expressions, everybody knows this stuff. It's basic stuff. I can't get that as well on the phone. But with Zoom I can do it. And if connecting is what leads to people trusting me so that I can help them, then to me Zoom is required, and the phone call, I'm just not interested.  

[00:11:30] Lara Galloway: It's very interesting. I mean, I told you in my coaching business, I did it for 12 years on the phone, and one of the things was I had a very highly-honed skill that's called listening. And I would tell my clients I don't need to see you. I had clients all over the world. I'd say, I listen to what you say, I listen to how you say it, and I also listen to what you don't say. That's my job. Right? But, thinking about it back then, I would've absolutely have chosen a virtual format if that were available. A video format, I guess is what I'm trying to say. And I did do a few Skypes and whatever before FaceTime and Zoom took over, but that was not as common, and it was more, it was more all phone. But now, I mean, literally, I know what you're saying and I know that I could have gotten more out of it and built even a more in-depth relationship because yeah, we do notice all those non-verbal cues. I notice what you're wearing. I notice your background. I'm watching how you move. It's all of that stuff registers and reaches people on a certain level, but not to get too far down the rabbit hole of where I love to go with all that stuff. I want to just like think about this too, because one of the reasons that I wanted you to talk today, because I always want the FAST Podcast to be bringing little educational tidbits. I want somebody to take this and be able to walk away and apply it. And Ross, we have advisors who just, they're asking us for help all the time. They're asking us, they're trying to wrap their head about it and they're like, okay, so if I do a webinar, does that mean that I have to have all of my meetings now have to be virtual? And if that's the case, I mean, does that work? Like, and obviously for you it does, but I think coming from, I'm sitting in an office, I meet people in-person when I do seminars, my workshops at the library or wherever, I'm meeting people there and then, do you ever do like seminars? Do you ever do live events and then convert that into virtual too? Because it sounds like you really don't go into the office anymore, that no matter how you meet people, it turns into virtual, or is it that you have to connect with them first virtually to get them to stay as a virtual client?  

[00:13:46] Ross Marino: Yeah, that's a great question. So I don't think it really matters one way or the other of where you start. I'd say for the advisor, go where you're comfortable. If you want to do it in-person first and then follow up with virtual, you can do that. If you do virtual first, follow up in-person it doesn't really matter. I'll give a couple thoughts for advisors to consider on that. If someone wants to meet me, so let's think of the mind of a prospect there, there's all these barriers before they say, I want to go book an appointment with Ross and come and see him, and it takes a lot of inertia to do that where they actually have to commit to set a meeting in-person. Right? So old Ross, and actually come into the office and be sitting with me one-on-one in an environment, or two-on-one, where they may not really know what to expect, they may have had bad experiences. That's a big deal to commit that type of time. But to have a virtual cup of coffee for 30 minutes, it's no harm, no foul if they don't want to follow up. So the barrier to connect with me is as easy as it can be. And if you have a husband and wife, which I just did this, and I just did a Zoom call with them two days ago. Do you have a husband and wife? Husband may be location A, wife may be location B. How hard is it to get both of them to find a time to come to the office, travel to, then go home and do that? Those are barriers as well. But when you have the, in this case, it was a husband and wife, the first time we met, he was at work, she was at home. It was easy. 30 minutes? Okay, great. Let's pursue this. Second virtual meeting, he jumps on. Where is he? He's not at work or at home. His mother's on literally her last days of life, she's in hospice, but he wanted to do the meeting anyway. His wife is actually still at home here, so now we're having another 30 minute conversation. They were happy to have the conversation. There was no way that was going to happen in-person. So the virtual opens up opportunities where it's easier for the prospects to access you, but it's also lower risk for them. It's less of a commitment. That's less uncertainty. They don't feel like I'm going to be stuck in a room. What if I don't like this person? What if there's a hard pitch or a sell? They feel like they're in control. So offering that virtual option upfront, just of, you can still do in-person after that. But just offer it and say, we'll do 30 minutes, have a cup of coffee, get to know you, we'll talk, ask some questions, et cetera. It's so much easier for someone to jump on and get to know you that way. So even if you want to meet in-person to set up the first meeting as virtual to say, hey, quick get together, we can talk, see if you want to pursue and follow and connect with us if we might be a good fit. Sounds great. So I think it even works, even if you don't want to be virtual only or virtual, mostly like me.  

[00:16:32] Lara Galloway: So you're recommending yeah, it definitely is that transition, that bridge from the person being an educational workshop attendee to making that appointment, which is the whole goal of what we do at White Glove. We want to get you to get people who want to meet with you personally.  

[00:16:48] Ross Marino: Right.  

[00:16:49] Lara Galloway: You're recommending that that is a great first step and I agree with you, but I am going to play devil's advocate for a second and say, so you said one word, it's a big commitment for them to show up to your office and whatever. And if I could just be the voice of maybe some people listening right now, well, don't they need to be committed to come meet at your office? I mean, is that just letting them off the hook? Are these just tire kickers? Are these people just looking for free stuff? And those are the ones who are willing to book a virtual appointment, because I don't need a calendar full of those, Ross. I need a people who are serious, who are a good fit for me. I don't want my calendar filled up with a bunch of people that might not be really serious about hiring me as an advisor.  

[00:17:33] Ross Marino: Great question. Love the counterargument to that. I will not disagree with any of that. So for some advisors, they want that meeting in the office. Where I'm at in my career, we have capacity issues at this point, which we're fortunate. I want to screen them upfront. I don't want to be stuck for an hour with someone that isn't going to be a good fit. So I want that 30 minute virtual cup of coffee with them. I want to ask them, what's going on? How did you get here? You know, why are we having this meeting today? And then I'm going to let them know, here's how we work. Here's our financial planning fee. We also do assets under management. Here's what we charge for that. If that works for you, why don't we see if we can get together and talk further. So I may get a few extra tire kickers, for sure. And frankly, I don't mind giving out pro bono free advice. I've been doing it for 30 plus years. So if you've got someone that actually just wants a couple questions answered, not the end of the world. I mean it's not like I have 50 of those people on my calendar. So, I don't, that hasn't become a problem for me. But we're going to be pretty upfront and a little more aggressive of, we're going to tell you, here's how we work, here's what we charge. That works for you. Great. Let's chit chat. We have it in screening questions. We're probably going to put it on the website next. So someone will actually have to submit that to say, yes, we understand before you're going to get on my calendar. So I'm certain I will miss some quality leads because of that. There will be some people that if I would've taken a slightly different approach, they would've become clients. I'm okay with that. So I'm not saying it's the right way to do it, just giving you my reasoning of this is why we do it that way and this is how we operate. And you know, each advisor has to figure out what works for them.  

[00:19:07] Lara Galloway: Absolutely. But that's why I asked because I knew you had a beautiful answer. And I just want to point out something that you said in there too, and I really hope our listeners pick up on this, and that's that you value your time. You said we have capacity issues, I want to make sure this is the right fit as well. I don't want to necessarily commit two hours plus to an office visit, being prepared, blocking off my calendar. Maybe they show, they don't show, I've got on a suit, I had to drive in, blah, blah, blah, whatever. Right? So you're also honoring your time. And what I often say to our clients that are trying to say pros and cons, seminars versus webinars, I'm like, they both work. They're different tools. One's a screwdriver, one's a hammer, or a wrench, right? And they have different applications. They can serve the same audiences. We actually, Ross, a fun fact that I share every time I try to speak on this topic, is our data shows that the people who attend a webinar versus a seminar on a topic, so whether it's Social Security, Taxes in Retirement, Estate Planning, whatever the topic is, the net worth of the people attending the workshops and registering for the workshops is the same regardless of whether it's a webinar or seminar. So the format doesn't affect net worth. The topic does affect net worth. So I just like, I want to drive that point home that if you respect your time, if you're looking for certain people, don't like, there's this misconception. And we didn't know when we first started offering webinars at White Glove during the Pandemic, when we had to just pivot on a dime and start figuring that out, when we didn't know, we thought maybe webinars were lower quality people and we found that as a hundred percent not the case. The data does not say that at all, so I really, really appreciate the fact that you are respecting your time and that you're working on pushing some of that screening to the forefront, pretty honest, pretty openly. Like, this is how we work, this is how we do it. And then making sure that people get what they came for. I love that you're doing the pro bono. You said, it doesn't hurt me if I give away some free information. That's okay. That's putting that karma out in the world. Right? Good stuff comes back. But I just, I think that's a super important piece for people listening, is that you'll find your own way, but don't just make a blunt assumption that webinars are bringing tire kickers, that they don't have investible assets, that they're not serious considerations.

[00:21:44] Ross Marino: I think it's important for advisors to understand, and this is, again, this is 30+ years. This isn't, oh, I figured this out early on and it's worked out great. You know, this is the stuff that's better to be slow than stupid, that I eventually figured out. When you do a webinar, someone is listening to me, love me or hate me, they'll at least get it. And if I'm looking for the best fit clients out there, they're the ones that listen to me and feel connected to me. I make jokes here and there. I have a good time. I'm not wearing a tie and I don't work evenings, so they know that. Why don't I do in-person seminars? Well, you guys like to do them at 5 or 6 o'clock sometimes, and I don't work at 5 or 6 o'clock. So that would've literally crossed it off. We used to have a joke around here that if a client wanted me to come see him, would my coffee be cold by the time I got there? Because if it was, I didn't have a Yeti, so if it was more than 15 minutes, I'm like, I'm just not, and it was constraints. It wasn't I don't drive for people, it was time constraints that I knew I had to work within. When you do a webinar, they actually get to see me and listen to me, and maybe a bunch of them will be tire kickers. Maybe a bunch of them will say, you know, I'm just not comfortable listening to that guy. That's what we want. As long as they can listen to me for 30 minutes or 40 minutes, if someone's going going to be comfortable with me, that's more than enough time. They'll know that they want to connect me with me after that. So for me to do one presentation and have a list of people that actually watch it, there's going to be some that jump out and say, actually, I want to talk to this guy. I feel comfortable with him. Isn't that why we do it? So that's why I think it's great. I don't care if it's webinar or in-person. I just want to get in front of people, and then they'll be able to make the call of I want to actually talk to this guy. So I don't, to me, I don't see any difference, but from a time standpoint, so, so much different. Even with the webinars too, when you guys said, oh, you don't have to do it live. You can just record it. I'm like, I love this. Recorded it and that's it. I was done. That was the coolest thing ever for me. The amount of work you have to do for in-person, and for some people it's great. It's right for them, but for us, managing time, the webinar is golden. Just absolutely loved it. We recorded it and that's it. And then you go ahead and go ahead and do it. It's great.  

[00:23:56] Lara Galloway: Yeah. And you know, I love that you've tried some different topics with us too, with the webinars you've been doing, and I just love your approach to that. Like one thing too, maybe not everybody is familiar with the Certified Financial Transitionist. Can you talk a little bit about how that designation has affected your business?  

[00:24:15] Ross Marino: Yeah. The tagline on our website is Life Happens, Plans Change, We Can Help. Most people reach out to a financial advisor because something is going on. We know that they don't wake up and say, I need a hundred page financial planning document with everything known to man put in it. Right? Nobody wakes up and does that, or I'm bored. Why don't I just review every asset liability, cash flow, and estate planning document I have? It's not, people don't do that. But something happens. And statistics in the industry say 70% of people, this is research I've read, reach out to an advisor because something's going on, a life event. I actually challenge that. That 30% that aren't having a life event, I'll bet they just experienced it. I'll bet a parent just got sick or a neighbor ended up dying and they thought, oh man, what if that happened to me? Do I have enough life insurance? Right? Are my spouse and kids going to be taken care of? Something happened to cause someone to say, I need to go connect with a financial advisor. It's because life's happening. The traditional financial planning process, we do data gathering or discovery, and we're asking for data. We're asking for number type questions, that's mostly what we do. When you shift to being a financial transitionist, now you're focusing on what is the transition this person is experiencing? What's going on in their life? Are they retiring? Did they just get married? Are they divorced? Did they just become a widow? Something happened and in and around that, they're going to have to make financial decisions that traditional financial planning doesn't address that well because these aren't, well, what am I going to do 20 years from now and how does this impact my projections? You may have no idea what's going to go on 20 years from now. And the transitionist planning really helps the advisor understand, here's what's going on in that person's life. Here's how they're thinking, here's how they're feeling. Here's what they can do and what they can't do, depending on how dramatic or traumatic that life event is, and really being able to understand people, where they're at and how to help them right at that moment. That's what transition planning does and really changes your whole approach to financial planning.  

[00:26:21] Lara Galloway: I think that's amazing. And I think with all the idea of we talk a lot about making emotional connections, making a relationship business, how do you capture, keep, build on that intergenerational wealth transfer that's going to happen. It's with the family members, it's whatever, it's all around these life events. So we talk a lot about these strategies about communicating and listening and, you know being authentic and whatever, but, what I love about what you just said is it's a very tactical strategy for connecting with people, doing all of that behavioral finance stuff, but in a pretty tactical way, like a life event is happening or did happen or will happen. And this is how to be prepared to speak with your client about it so that you can be better positioned to help them make those big, financially impactful choices.  

[00:27:09] Ross Marino: If you look at decisions people make throughout their life, you can probably take a few financial decisions or decisions with significant financial implications, you probably have 3, 4, 5 decisions over the course of your life that actually made the biggest difference. If you really drill down and say what was going on when you made those decisions, you're going to find that pretty much every time it was a life event. It was that time right before leading up to or right after, or in the middle of some major life event. The decisions that people make in and around life events, that's what moves the needle for future net worth and quality of life. And we know this as financial planners, right? You changed jobs. Well, I cashed in my 401k. Yeah, that's going to cost you, right? Or I wanted to buy my first house, so I cashed in my 401k, or I did no money down and you know, decided to finance the whole thing, and then I lost my job, and now I had to do a short sale. You can take any of these big decisions, things that either worked out great or were really detrimental to someone's future net worth and would impact their quality of life. They're going to be around life events. So to actually focus on that, understand that, and then communicate to your prospects and clients that these are the decisions in and around life events that we want to get right, or at the very least, let's defer them so we don't get them wrong. And just having that message, which I say over and over to people, they get it because they know, yeah, life's crazy and these are big decisions. Great. So I don't have to make a decision? I can sit in cash for six months because I really just can't think straight. Yeah, sit in cash for six months if that's what you really have to do. But when you understand transitions, you'll be able to analyze that better and help the people so they can get it right, or again, at the very least, don't get it wrong, just delay it for a while.  

[00:28:55] Lara Galloway: I'll make sure in the show notes that we talk about Susan Bradley, the Certified Financial Transition Institute, I know I'm not getting that right, but close, and her book Sudden Money, we'll make sure we mention all of those because this is really, really powerful stuff and I want to save just a last little minute here for you to talk about how you've taken all your expertise as an advisor and all the things that you've learned over the last 30 years, and start putting that into the Advisor2X you know, professional development for advisors and the SHIFT Conference, and what do we need to know, Ross? What's on the horizon there for us that we should be thinking about?  

[00:29:32] Ross Marino: We're definitely excited about SHIFT. We have two major conferences, one is on the 401K side called Wealth at Work. We shifted that conversation five years ago. It used to be called Excel 401k. It was a 401k conference, but people noticed that financial wellness is what was happening in that industry and they wanted to teach it at corporations and they wanted employers to be able to share that information. So we changed it and shifted it to Wealth at Work because you can do situational planning in the workplace. On the personal wealth side, on the personal financial planning side, that's SHIFT. We're shifting that conversation to human first financial guidance, and what that simply means is, You have to connect with the person first and understand them before you do financial planning or investment management. It's not human only, it's not human-centric. It's the human side is more important than anything else. Hey, I'm not gauging anything. I'm just saying you got to do it first. And if you want to take that approach, advisors in general, they're not resistant to it. They get it, they say, well, how do we do it? That's what the SHIFT Conference does. So I don't get up and talk for hours on here's my process and you know, you were at the conference, I do the opening messages, that's it. So, and one opening message. I'm interviewing somebody else, so I'm not even really doing the talking. What we do at SHIFT is we're curators and we're connectors. We bring in the organizations that help advisors shift the conversation, connect with prospects, go deeper with their clients, really focus on client engagement from a human first standpoint, the entire industry is moving that way. We're trying to bring everybody together so the advisors can connect with their resources and the people and the tools that can help them go deeper with their clients.  

[00:31:16] Lara Galloway: You know I freaking love it. I'm going to be there. I can't wait. Everybody listening, you should watch for them to post the dates, they've already got the dates, of when the next SHIFT is going to happen and get your tickets as soon as they become available, because I know they're going to sell out. I keep talking about it. Ross, we always wind up the session here with our last little piece, which is just your definition of success, and I would love to hear if there's some sort of like, controlling mantra or idea that you use to define success for yourself, either professionally or personally.

[00:31:48] Ross Marino: Yeah, I would say, I'll equate it with the word legacy and to me, true success and true legacy is I impact people in a way that changes their life and they have no idea who I am. It means that my work has such impact that it carries on to other people and nobody says, oh, well so-and-so actually knew this guy Ross, and he helped him do this. It's like, no, it actually has such a powerful effect that there is a ripple effect and people have no idea who we are or whether we're financial planners, but they just know that work that we did, our purpose for being on this earth actually made an impact.  

[00:32:24] Lara Galloway: Well, that's awesome. That does sound like legacy and that sounds like a much bigger definition of success than just a personal or a professional one. So man, Ross, it's been awesome and I appreciate you being here on the FAST Podcast. I have absolutely enjoyed it.  

[00:32:41] Ross Marino: Always a pleasure, love chatting with you. Whatever else you want to talk about, let's do it again.  

[00:32:45] Lara Galloway: You got it! And Aric, didn't I tell you?  

[00:32:48] Aric Johnson: Oh yeah. And I want to bring something up, Ross, because I want to see if you agree with my statement here. One of the things that you didn't bring up when you're talking about virtual, I was working with a father and son team quite a few years ago as a consultant. And the dad was just wiped out, right? It was like, he was 70, he loved the business, but he's done by 2:30 or 3 o'clock because of the go, go, go schedule. He's driving over to here to meet so and so, and we initiated virtual appointments for him as much as possible. Got his, he had team members that would help the clients get set up for Zoom and so on and so forth, so he didn't have to drive 45 minutes in traffic. He extended his day because he had that much more energy, because he wasn't stuck in traffic, he wasn't having to rush and go to these different places, and if he's in the office and he needs to stretch his legs, he has the capability to go walk around and do that, get right back onto these virtual meetings. So he was, all of a sudden he's like, no, I'm not even, I'm not even tired till 4:30! So it improved how he was working with his energy level. Do you find that as well with the people that you work with, that kind of adopt the idea of this don't drive 20, 30 minutes in traffic to to sit with somebody for an hour at their house and then have to drive back to the office and because that's tiring. Have you seen that?  

[00:34:04] Ross Marino: It's great insights. So I basically look at three resources that we use for kind of our decision tree, which is time, energy, and money. You know, how does this impact those three areas? Appointments in-person, it's going to take you time just traveling and preparing, and you're probably going to chit chat a little bit longer. From an energy standpoint, if you have to go into traffic, there's no doubt, you are now burning energy just for one appointment. They're also burning energy as well. And if you're in a suburban or city area where it's heavy traffic, I mean, my commute's like seven minutes and most of it's 25 miles an hour, so it doesn't really count. I can't imagine having to drive 45 minutes just to go to an appointment of stop, go and trying to pay attention to the traffic all the time. It's, again, that's another barrier, Aric, that's a barrier just for someone to come. There is a cost to it. Not only is there a cost when they do it, but it's also a barrier for someone even to commit for that.

[00:34:58] Aric Johnson: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, Lara, you're right. I love the conversation. This is fantastic. Oh, man, this has been so great. Ross, thank you so much. Lara, again, you bring on such a diversity, a diverse? Diversity? Let's go with diverse, a diverse group of guests that have so much insight. There, there are advisors going, I need to be able to connect with these people easier, and that's what White Glove does. So why don't you give them some contact info for yourself as well.  

[00:35:25] Lara Galloway: Yeah, so for reaching out to White Glove, you can always find us on the website, whiteglove.com or info@whiteglove.com. And Ross, I'd love for you to share how we can reach you.  

[00:35:36] Ross Marino: Sure. For SHIFT, the address is humanfirst.live, humanfirst.live. That'll show you last year's agenda for the conference. Give you an idea if you want to attend, what it's going to be like. We'll have some of the same people and a lot more new ones and it'll have the date and everything else there. So, humanfirst.live, and as you said, Lara, because you were there last time, the room block fills up quickly. It gets sold out. The number of advisors, I think we hit almost 340 for attendance last year. We'll cap out at about 450 this year. We're pretty sure it's going to sell out rather quickly, so if you're interested in it, check out the website. Register as soon as you can.  

[00:36:17] Aric Johnson: Fantastic. Thank you both again, and of course our last thank you always goes to the listening audience. Thank you so much for tuning in and listening to the FAST Podcast with Lara Galloway. If you have not subscribed to the podcast yet, please click the Subscribe Now button below. This way when Lara comes out with a new podcast, it'll show up directly on your listening device. We humbly ask that you share this podcast, rate it and leave a review, as this actually does help others find the show. Again, thank you so much for listening today. For everyone at White Glove, this is Aric Johnson reminding you to live your best day every day, and we'll see you next time.

Voiceover: Thank you for listening to the FAST Podcast Financial Advisor Strategy Talks with Lara Galloway, your go-to source, designed to help you grow your business. 

Have questions about the topics covered during the show? Visit our website at www.whiteglove.com or email us at info@whiteglove.com. Don't forget to click the follow button to be notified when new episodes become available. The information covered and posted represents the views and opinions of the guests and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of White Glove. 

The content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional investing advice. Always seek the advice of your financial advisor or other qualified financial services provider with any questions you may have regarding your investment planning. 

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