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Get Your New Advisors “Up to Speed” Faster

Knowledge was once difficult to obtain, so we went to college to get it. Now access to information is almost instant. The Digital Revolution not only changed how we get information, it also changed our expectations. Today we expect to quickly access the knowledge we need—and then we expect to see immediate results from applying that knowledge. Yet we still go to school to learn, just-in-case, when just-in-time learning is much more effective.

On this episode of Elementality, Reese and Matt explain how just-in-time learning helps new advisors prepare faster. When you can find ways to get new advisors directly involved in delivering advice, you can increase their retention of knowledge incrementally.

 

 


Podcast Transcript

Reese Harper:
An undergrad, I’ve hired a lot of undergrads at Dentist Advisors that have undergrads in financial planning and are CFPs coming at the job.

Matt Glazer:
And still…

Reese Harper:
And still we’re like, there’s a lot of… They just did a bunch of just in case learning, all of which is hard to apply right now, especially in the context of delivering financial advice to another person, because how do we deliver financial advice to another person? Through email, through texting, through phone calls, through in-person meetings. What’s the most effective way for someone to learn is through those activities, through the doing of something.

[music]

Jordan Haines:
Welcome to Elementality. I’m Jordan Haynes, financial planning specialist at Elements. Each episode, Reese and Matt will discuss major challenges faced by financial advisors and the things they can do to navigate the complexities of delivering quality financial advice to clients. We hope you enjoy this episode.

[music]

Reese Harper:
Welcome to Elementality folks here on another beautiful day in the crisp mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah, where the snow flows as much as… I don’t know.

Matt Glazer:
No, you… I’m gonna let you…

Reese Harper:
I don’t know how to finish that umm we ended.

Matt Glazer:
No, I’m gonna let you go here.

Reese Harper:
That’s the end of the analogy. I was gonna start to say something about alcoholic beverages, but then I didn’t realize that this is probably not the state for that. It’s a bit of flow as much here.

Matt Glazer:
Yeah, it’s not verified. Yeah.

[chuckle]

Reese Harper:
Matt’s been trying, I’ve taken you to every good place we can find though.

Matt Glazer:
I learned last night that you can’t actually sell alcohol on draft. That’s more on draft… That’s more than 5% in the city of Utah.

Reese Harper:
Really?

Matt Glazer:
Tad’s shaking his head, yes I think I’m right here.

Reese Harper:
You can get in a can a lot higher, but…

Matt Glazer:
Yeah, but not on draft.

Reese Harper:
Oh, that’s Interesting. I never paid attention to that.

Matt Glazer:
Yeah. I found the one state where the liquor laws are more complicated than my home state of Pennsylvania.

Reese Harper:
That does expose your drink of choice though.

Matt Glazer:
It doesn’t, I’m just stating a fact. [laughter] Alright, let’s jump into it.

Reese Harper:
And we’re about to… This is a really great topic. They all are, as you can tell our energy reigns high here on the show. There’s been a lot of research done recently on a concept called Just-in-time Learning. You may not be familiar with this. But the idea is that most of society for a very long time has been spending their days in just in case learning, we’ll call it. I actually don’t know if just in case learning is the official term. I’m making that up, but just in case learning is, I go to college, I get a degree and one day I will show up and need the knowledge. I’ll have it ’cause I remembered it, ’cause we taught it in school. And some of us would… Some people might call that hermetic learning. I’ve heard that term. It’s just like restating something and having someone consume it, reclaim it in their memory and regurgitate it at the appropriate point and time in the future.

Reese Harper:
We all know that’s a bad… It’s a hard way to learn. It’s just a hard way to learn. It involves just reading and watching videos and consuming information, like lecture based interactions, and then trying to recall that information at some point in the future. And it’s a really hard way to train and teach and get people to learn. That’s just very difficult.

Matt Glazer:
And would you even say that’s true for really foundational academic stuff in, like basic… I’m talking like math and English.

Reese Harper:
Yeah, it’s super tough.

Matt Glazer:
Okay.

Reese Harper:
I mean, it’s just it’s… When people want… I mean, it’s more effective to start to learn… It’s more effective to become a good writer when you’re ready to produce something that matters to you. Like, my son last night, he has a science project. My son’s an artist and he sketches all kinds of gifts on his iPad and is really trying to get a gift business off the ground where he designs instructional kind of design pictures for… He’s 14 and he’s really into this drawing thing, but he’s never had an assignment in his science class that really called on that skill. And this project in science is just really resonating with him, because now he’s able to use something that in real time and that he’s interested in, which is I’m trying to draw these pictures for people to sell them and figure out how I can become an illustrator.

Matt Glazer:
Yeah.

Reese Harper:
And now his class is asking him to do that. And everyone’s gotta draw a picture of their sketch for this science project. And you just see him light up and get really excited and he’s committed to it. And he’s up till 2:00 in the morning drawing 50 different pictures. And I’m just like, “There you go.” I didn’t… It’s not my motivation here. This is like, Just-in-time learning at the perfect moment for my son. Where he’s not… I’ve given him a lot of work to do in the last couple of weeks, and most of it hasn’t been done.

[laughter]

Matt Glazer:
So how does this apply then? Bring… How does this apply to us?

Reese Harper:
So, if you think about training a financial advisor, alright, if you’re thinking about getting a financial advisor off the ground, for most advisors, if you’re a solo firm out there, or a smaller firm, which I know most of our audience is, most of our audience tends to be entrepreneurial. They’re independent RIAs, they’re small emerging. You’re trying to get your first associate, your first para planner off the ground. Wow, that’s a hard thing. And man, that takes a lot of time, because what are you doing? You’re teaching them all of this just in case learning, because they don’t have any context yet. Most of them don’t have a ton of experience, even if they have like an undergrad. I’ve hired a lot of undergrads at Denis advisors that have undergrads in financial planning and are CFPs coming at the job.

Matt Glazer:
And still…

Reese Harper:
And still we’re like… There’s a lot of, they just did a bunch of just in case learning, all of which is hard to apply right now, especially in the context of delivering financial advice to another person. Because how do we deliver financial advice to another person? Through email, through texting, through phone calls, through in-person meetings. What’s the most effective way for someone to learn is through those activities, through the doing of something. So, there’s a chart, if you go online right now, you can find a… The reference… I don’t have the reference for this actually. Google most effective learning models, just like Google that, and you’ll see a ton of the same chart. And this chart goes back to the 1960s, and it’s basically like, Edgar Dale in the 1960s.

Reese Harper:
So Edgar Dale, I think Edgar was the founder of a consulting group that studied learning behaviors in the US, and he basically developed this chart after surveying hundreds, I think a little over a thousand people after a pretty extensive learning test and found that there was expectedly what you’d probably expect, the amount of information that people retain with certain learning activities varies wildly. So the lowest retention that he noted was reading. So people retain about 10% of what they read in copy. They retain about 20% of what they hear, so podcasts generally are more favorable than books, partially, ’cause they’re fairly live and authentic and easy to relate to, but people can remember things, they learn more from them, so they tend to like listening for that reason. You retain 30% of what you see in videos and images, you retain more of what you see, but still very low retention from reading and listening and watching video.

Reese Harper:
If you wanna get to that 90% retention, that 70% plus, people remember 70% of what they say and write. So you remember a ton of what you write and say. If you participate… That you can get there in a lot of different ways. Old school would be like hands-on workshops and new school would still be that a little bit, you can do simulations and models and you can collaborate on lessons with people and try to put stuff together, but the 90% retention area happens when you’re actually doing the real thing. So when you do the real thing, if you’re the person, if you’re the financial advisor in the meeting and you have to say this stuff, now you remember 90% of that. If you have to write the email and push send to the client, you’re the 90% retention of information. And that’s kind of what we’ve been experimenting with at Elements and what we’re excited about right now is we’ve realized… I realized in my practice that I needed to present my employees and my protege advisors and associate advisors with data on a client of theirs.

Reese Harper:
Not of my client, but they had to get a client and I have to give them a client, they have to own that client relationship and feel the pressure of being the advisor for that person, and then I have to present them with information and get them to analyze that information and get them to come up with what to say, but it’s hard for us to scale that, ’cause that involves like a bunch of technology and how do I organize all the information and what I’m I gonna present to my young advisor so they can look at that information and how am I gonna get them to edit and type and send the things, and how am I gonna check what they send and see if they sent the right thing. And so Elements, we just launched our Beta insights feature a few weeks ago, and the point of this was to try to start going into this world where we could retain more of what we were learning. And so if we surface the information to the advisor, a younger advisor or even someone like me, I’m learning from elements right now, ’cause it’s helping me codify in my memory a lot of the things…

Matt Glazer:
Well, to take a page out of the book you… Out of that book is, you are having to actually write those things, the things that you’ve just kind of said historically…

Reese Harper:
Yeah, out loud. You just say them.

Matt Glazer:
Yeah. Now you’re having to actually write those down and see those words on a page.

Reese Harper:
And you’re retaining a lot more of that, and for just training up that next generation of advisors, I feel like it’s absolutely essential. So then we’re gonna move. And the cool thing is, instead of these triggers that we’re setting up inside of our system, they’re not just random, like they’re just-in-time for the client, and that’s kind of a really important part of this too, is we’re not just saying it’s time for your annual review. Well, no one cares about an annual review, no one cares about a quarterly review, there’s no benefit to that except for they care to see you, they care to talk to you, they wanna talk to their advisor, but that’s not quite as just in timey as, Hey, Matt, I was reviewing your debt and noticed that you still have an atypically high debt rate, it’s at 44%, and makes me just wanna have a conversation with you because I worry that that’s gonna affect your savings rate for so many years that we’re either gonna have to increase your income somehow, we’re gonna refinance this mortgage, you know.

Matt Glazer:
But to bring this back to the point where you’re trying to make around training advisors, right…

Reese Harper:
Well, and I’m just trying to make the point here that clients benefit from Just-in-time learning.

Matt Glazer:
Sure.

Reese Harper:
The client does too.

Matt Glazer:
What I heard you say though, in talking about Just-in-time, and this might be an obvious call out, but…

Reese Harper:
Maybe not.

Matt Glazer:
There’s an emotional trigger here. It is hard to… Just-in-time learning needs this emotional component. You talked about giving your advisors their clients in the context of this training scenario, not your clients, not someone else’s clients, but their own clients. If I can’t emotionally connect to the data, if it has no… If it has no context in my mind, I have no awareness of that situation, if it’s effectively some sample client I have no connection with, you could do just-in-time learning, but I think it’s gonna be far less effective than if there was some emotional connection to the context of learning scenario.

Reese Harper:
Yeah.

Matt Glazer:
Just-in-time learning needs this emotional component. You talked about giving your advisors their clients in the context of this training scenario, not your clients, not someone else’s clients, but their own clients. If I can’t emotionally connect to the data, if it has no… If it has no context in my mind, I have no awareness of that situation, if it’s effectively some sample client I have no connection with…

Reese Harper:
Yeah.

Matt Glazer:
You could do just-in-time learning, but I think it’s gonna be far less effective than if there was some emotional connection to the context of learning scenario.

Reese Harper:
Yeah, I wanna put… I wanna give an… I want advisors to see how many times they just don’t say anything. When they think it, but they don’t say it. And I want them to get better at saying it.

Matt Glazer:
Or do it. Or do it.

Reese Harper:
But don’t say it. Do it, but don’t say it, but go get it done, or say it. I mean, to me it’s more, this is probably… I’m curious what you meant by do it, just do it. What are you thinking there?

Matt Glazer:
I’m thinking the shadow work, right? The things that we do that no one’s… For the clients that they’re not aware of.

Reese Harper:
So, okay, you’re talking about activity that we do that no one sees.

Matt Glazer:
Yeah. You’re saying about the things that go uncommunicated, and there’s things that we think and there’s things that we actually do.

Reese Harper:
Yes. We’re saying… I think we’re saying the same thing, which is we need to make it… Well, we’re saying slightly different things. One, we need to tell clients when we do things that they don’t know about…

Matt Glazer:
Yeah, this is a tangent on learning, but…

Reese Harper:
And I do think though, that my… The thing that I have observed in my own firm is that most advisors vary… Advisors vary… Advisors are a lot different from one another in their comfort level with saying hard things to clients. Some advisors are really comfortable saying hard things, or challenging clients, or inspiring them to maybe make an adjustment, and some are more comfortable just waiting for the client to complain or to ask or… Because you’re on this retainer model that’s tied to AUM that really doesn’t require you to do anything. And AUM is gonna cause advisors to slowly become dinosaurs if they’re not careful, because eventually they’re gonna wake up and go, “Oh, we don’t have an actual service model, and now it’s so easy for people through subscription to be able to access that.” Be careful, I think that’s a concern. So I’m just like, I want advisors to start to practice opening their… Getting more confident, like saying what they see, sharing what’s on their mind, challenging clients, having to look at very specific issues and decide what they wanna say about those, and then say it.

[music]

Jordan Haines:
Hi there, it’s Jordan. Are you on the hunt for ways to grow your book, speed up your planning process, and better serve your rising star clients and prospects? Then it’s time to find out how Elements is helping advisors like you all across the country modernize their approach to financial planning. To chat with us, go to getelements.com/demo, and we’ll show you how Elements can help future-proof your business.

[music]

Matt Glazer:
So let’s finish with this. We talked about training advisors in this model of just-in-time versus just-in-case, and these components of just-in-time that make it just-in-time. What’s one practical thing people could do tomorrow with either associates that they currently have or associates they’re about to bring on that would be a step towards just-in-time learning versus this more haphazard just-in-case learning?

Reese Harper:
Well, what we did… One example, what I did really early on, was just once a week, we’d have a training, send out a set of facts to all my associates and all my planners that I’m wanting in trading, including my senior advisors like Ryan and Matt. I would want them to opine on this too, and I’d say, “Write an email to the client giving them an opinion on this, and I want you to follow this pattern. Explain the data that you see, tell the client what to do or what observation you have, it might just be a… Whatever the call to action is for the client, that’s your second thing. And then third thing is, I just want you to share why it’s important.”

Matt Glazer:
And is this… Is this hypothetical or is this their… This is particularly their client’s situation?

Reese Harper:
This was… We had one real client situation in our firm that we all opined on the same thing.

Matt Glazer:
Okay.

Reese Harper:
And we just emailed each other and carbon copied everyone on every email, so we can kind of see the different ways that different advisors approached the same set of facts. And that would allow advisors to experience what that was like, but it’s not… It’s still not as good as that just-in-time moment when it’s their own case. And that’s why I found until I built Elements, I honestly didn’t have a good just-in-time force kind of function. This is the first time I’ve been able to get past that. This is…

Matt Glazer:
‘Cause it’s standardizing and grounding in a common way across all people.

Reese Harper:
Yeah.

Matt Glazer:
Yeah. So in this…

Reese Harper:
Right, I did that…

Matt Glazer:
So in this case, it’s just-in-time in that it’s a client of the firm, it’s a real person, it’s a situation that’s relevant now. Yeah, it might not be Matt’s client or Ryan’s client, but…

Reese Harper:
It’s one client that we all kind of…

Matt Glazer:
Yeah, we all know who it is.

Reese Harper:
Have worked on and know, and we see the data and we share it in a common system. And we’re able to say, “This is what I would say, and here’s how to say it.” But you force people… The reason why it’s just-in-time, I would just emphasize, is that you’re making the advisor send an email to his peers, and he has to send that email to his peers sharing what he actually would do. There’s a lot at stake there. There’s a lot of social reputation at stake, there’s, “I know I’m gonna get criticized by Reese and what he thinks about my email. I know that my advisor peers are gonna question whether I’m a good advisor or not,” it’s a heavier weight. Just-in-case would be like, “Hey, think about this and let’s talk about it as a group.” And the just-in-time is like, “You’re gonna have to send this email and then we’re gonna talk about each email as a group.”

Matt Glazer:
It’s probably… This is probably even more effective, the smaller the group is.

Reese Harper:
Yes.

Matt Glazer:
If you’re talking about a single associate and they’re like, “Hey, this is on you.” You could even frame it even as like, “I actually don’t have time to do this, I need you to do it,” right? Make the scenario real, maybe that’s not true with the grand scheme of things, maybe you’re ultimately going to review it anyway. But yeah, I think that probably gets even more resonant with a smaller… I think this probably even a better exercise for us all, I bring on the first associate.

Reese Harper:
Indeed. Alright, man, that was a lot of fun. Thanks for taking the time to come into the studio today. Thank you, Tad, for all your hard work in here making this place pop. Lights, camera, action. And I really appreciate everybody tuning in every week. I really appreciate your comments and feedback and encouragement. It’s not easy to do a weekly podcast and we just appreciate all the support we get. So thanks everybody, and have a great week.

Matt Glazer:
See ya.

Jordan Haines:
Next time on Elementality.

Adam Cmejla:
We built the airplane as we were flying and developing this niche. And that’s why when I talk to advisors that are so hesitant about breaking into a niche, I just… I ask them to trust me and trust us, someone like yourself, other advisors…

Reese Harper:
It’s so hard though.

Adam Cmejla:
That the narrower you can take that message, the narrower you can craft that, the clearer you can define your avatar, qualitatively and quantitatively, I promise you, the easier this business is, the greater your reach, and the less geography matters.

Abby Morton:
You can learn more about the Elements Financial Planning System at getelements.com/meet and schedule a time to speak with one of our friendly financial planning experts. Elementality’s executive creators are Reese Harper and Matt Glazer. Elementality is produced by Abby Mortin and directed by Jordan Haynes. Have a good one.

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