This article is based on a LinkedIn post I saw recently. It was from the owner of the Savannah Bananas. In case you are not familiar with them, they are a baseball team based in Savannah, GA. Their history is interesting. Short version (and I know I am going to get some facts wrong) is a husband and wife bought the team a handful of years ago and were basically broke. They focused on a different experience for fans, which quickly resonated.
The team has since taken over the former minor-league baseball stadium in Savannah. Additionally, every game is sold out and they have a waiting list for season tickets of roughly 6,000 people. This is all with a team that is made up of college players. It is not tied with any professional team so it is not a minor-league affiliate. Oh, all in a town with a population of roughly 140,000, which is roughly ¾ the size of Akron. If you want a good read, feel free to pick the book written by Jesse Cole, one of the owners. It is titled Find Your Yellow Tux. He wears a yellow tux to every game, hence the title.
Enough background. The post that caught my attention was where Jesse mentioned things they don’t have. Items like electric scoreboards, ads all across the outfield, etc. It was him mentioning how they are different. I figured the concept was good and since my practice is rather unique (I still don’t know any flat-fee CFPs in Ohio besides me), I would touch on it too. So, here goes on things I don’t have or do.
- I don’t have an office in a glass building with lots of pictures of bulls, bears and Wall Street. No, my office is in my house. My walls are covered with whiteboards, some OSU stuff, an Ansel Adams photo my mom gave me years ago, and lots of pictures of my family. Instead of spending a few grand a month on an office, I prefer to meet virtually with clients and use those saved funds to keep my fees low.
- I don’t wear fancy clothes. Well, unless you consider jeans and sweaters fancy. I no longer wear the dark suits, power ties and white shirts I had to wear at Merrill Lynch. Heck, I was called into the manager’s office my first day at Merrill for wearing a light blue shirt. If they could only see me now. Instead, I dress like most of my clients – casual.
- I don’t have a high-end car. Unfortunately, I had to break down and replace my 12-year old car recently. Don’t worry as the new one is another used car. And it is only 3 years old. Cars are just transportation to me. And, the most common car brand among my clients is Subaru. Nothing pretentious about that.
- I don’t have any full-time assistants. Yes, I do have support staff helping me behind the scenes, but I prefer to be hands-on with clients. A common approach in my world is once a potential client is officially a client, a junior advisor is the one who will be working with the client most of the time. This has always felt a little “bait and switch” to me, so I prefer my approach of always being engaged with clients.
- I don’t accept everyone interested in being a client. There’s a trucking company that has something like “Anything, anytime, anywhere” slapped on their trailers. Each time I see one of them I flashback to the old places I worked where anyone interested in a client would be accepted. I limit my practice to people I know I can help and know I will get along with. Last I checked, I accept roughly 20% of potential clients who reach out to me.
- I don’t do media interviews of any kind. I pursued this route when I first launched. Unfortunately, the worst clients I have ever had in my practice came as a result of some media interviews I did. While media works for some advisors, it just doesn’t bring in the type of clients I like to work with.
- I don’t do any sort of paid advertising. I also used to do some paid advertising. Again, bad results for me with clients who were not the right fit. Instead, I focus on what I call “guerilla marketing” through my emails, podcast and activity on LinkedIn.
- I don’t call clients “cases.” This is a term frequently used in my world and I cannot stand it. The word “case” strikes me as a transactional type of relationship where the advisor’s goal is to sell the client something they may not really need nor want. I work with client, not cases as I sell nothing.
- I don’t do nights and weekends. There is a powerful question in my world. It goes along the lines of “what is important about money to you.” My answer to this question is to provide time to spend with my family. I lost my dad when I was a kid and my mom died when I was in my twenties. Nothing comes before my family. So, I preserve weekends and evenings for my family.
- I don’t limit my practice to one geographical area. You all know I have the ability to work with clients regardless of location. I have been a virtual advisor since I launched back in 2016. When Covid hit and everyone went virtual, nothing changed for me. Because of how I set up my firm initially (some may call it forward thinking), I have clients all over the country. Which I personally love.
Thanks for taking the time to read this one. Hopefully it wasn’t too negative with all the “I Don’ts.” However, I liked the approach the Savannah Bananas owner took so I figured I would hit a few unique points with my firm.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read this. Please do not hesitate to reach out if I can be of help with your equity compensation-related questions. The easiest thing to do is to click the little green box that reads “Schedule a Meeting” that can be found at the bottom of every page on my website. Or, just click my Calendly link right here.
I’m Dan Johnson, CFP®, founder of Forward Thinking Wealth Management. I run a flat-fee financial planning and investment management firm located in beautiful Akron, OH. Although I am in Akron, OH, I work with clients regardless of location. I cater to owners of equity compensation positions who are looking to organize their financial lives, keep more of what they make, and do the things they want in retirement and even now.