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Elementality Podcast

Protecting Your Vision as You Scale With Matt Mulcock

You’re improving the lives of your clients and want to reach out to more people who could use your guidance. Your personalized approach allows you to get to the heart of each client’s unique financial needs and has been integral to your success. Since scaling your business means bringing on more advisors, how do you ensure the vision for your firm remains intact and future clients get the same individualized experience?

On this Elementality, Carl talks with Matt Mulcock of Dentist Advisors about what his firm is doing to maintain their vision and culture as they grow. Find out how your onboarding approach can become a repeatable process—and how to still maintain the ideals that have led to your success.

 


Podcast Transcript

Matt Mulcock:
We’ve created, we use the word culture, that’s spot on. We want to protect that at all costs. I’ll tell people this when I’m interviewing new team members or possible new team members, is number one for us is we wanna protect our culture. And this culture of, no one is afraid to come and push back up any level of the company. To say, this doesn’t feel right, or we’re not asking the right questions or whatever. So I think as long as you protect that culture, and you continue to cultivate that culture, and you give people the feeling of autonomy, and purpose behind that, that they share in that purpose together, I think that helps you as you grow.

Jordan Haines:
Hey, Elementality listeners, it’s Jordan Haynes. As more advisors implement elements into their financial planning service models, we decided to interview a few of them to see what challenges have come up, plus what successes they’ve enjoyed while using elements. We believe learning from other advisors will help you see how elements can revolutionize planning for you. Enjoy.

Carl Richards:
Greetings and welcome to the Elementality podcast. I’m Carl Richards. Super excited that you are here and really excited to have a chat today with Matt Mulcock. And Matt, you’re in Salt Lake, aren’t you?

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah, yeah. Salt Lake City.

Carl Richards:
Very cool. Well, welcome to the podcast.

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah, thanks for having me, Carl. This is really an interesting experience for me, ’cause I hear you so much on Elementality, the Carl and Kitces podcast. So it’s kind of cool to be sitting here and actually talking to you now as opposed to just listening.

Carl Richards:
Well, I’m just glad you agreed to come on after listening to Kitces & Carl, that thing’s so bad that…

Matt Mulcock:
No, you guys are great. You guys are great.

Carl Richards:
I’m just kidding. Well, you know what? I’d love to do is sort of start at maybe just not quite at the beginning, but back up just a little bit. And tell us why did you get into this… Like, speaking broadly, this job of financial advice? Why did you get into it?

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah. That’s a great question. I wish I had some amazing story of how I found my calling, from the beginning, I was born to do this. It’s not at all true. I’ve always liked helping people and I’ve always liked having an impact in something that matters. So in a whole nother life that was in the fitness industry, I did that for several years and I thought that was kind of gonna be my path. And then, kind of through the course of several events, I realized that it’s really hard to make good money in the fitness industry. And so, being a personal trainer and all that. So, long story short, transitioned into real estate and kind of just started bouncing around to different things, trying to find something that really fit for me.

Matt Mulcock:
And I was doing real estate at the time, doing some like, house flipping things and just that, all that kind of stuff. And one of my friends knew I was kind of looking for something more, looking for more of a career, and he called me one day and just said, “Hey, you should check out Fidelity. I’ve been working here for a few years. It’s really a great company. You should check it out.” So that’s literally where it started. And I checked it out. I got hired as as low as you possibly can go, as a customer service rep, but it seemed like a, something to at least give it a shot to see what it could turn into. And the rest is really history from there. I’ve been in it for now 10 years.

Matt Mulcock:
Fidelity was fantastic. I worked there for five years. Wonderful training there. I got my CFP there. It really is where I transitioned and realized over my course of my five years there, like, “Holy cow, I can make an impact in something that really matters.” It’s a never-ending learning journey for me. I’m never done learning. I love that. And I can engage in people with people. It kind of checked all these boxes that I didn’t even know were missing for me. And so that’s where it started. And then after five years there, I transitioned over to where I am now with, with Dentist Advisors.

Carl Richards:
Very cool. Was that, I can’t help but ask, but was that Fidelity job in Salt Lake?

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah. So I started in Salt Lake, again, the lowest possible position you can even think of. They call them pre-licensed right here. No series seven. No, licenses at all. They help you get license. So I was in the Salt Lake Phone Center. Basically, I was on the phone. So then from there, you get your licenses, you move up from there. And then moved out to California, my wife got into graduate school. We had a chance to move out there and I moved out with Fidelity and transitioned into what they call investment centers that like branches. And I was in Orange County working in a branch. And that actually, right there, was really where my job turned into a career. I was able to get my CFP, I started sitting in front of clients. Literally, probably five clients a day, five days a week, just drinking from a fire hose, sitting… A lot of exposure to different situations and communicating with clients, and that’s where I really got hooked. And it was like, I love this, I love talking to clients about this. And so, and then, yeah, I ended up coming back to Utah and then hooking up with Dentist Advisors.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. That’s where my first job was, was in that same Fidelity Call Center.

Matt Mulcock:
I didn’t know that.

Carl Richards:
It’s moved obviously, but back in the day, they had two national call centers and one of them was in Salt Lake, and I applied to be a security guard, and I had misread the application. I thought it said security. Turns out it was securities. [chuckle] So we sort of see this trend a lot in the conversations I have with real financial advisors is this like, kind of getting into it a little bit by accident, stumbling our way into it. But then there’s this moment where things switch a little bit. And you’ve used this term a couple of times that I want to dive into a bit, which is impact. Okay, so we got in… And you even pointed to maybe a specific time at Fidelity, but talk to me a little bit about the impact of the work you’re doing now at Dentist Advisors. What do you hope the impact is?

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah, it’s a great question. So yeah, impact for me is huge and being able to make a positive impact. And as I mentioned earlier, in something that matters. And I think there’s a few things in life that actually matters, the relationships with those you love, it’s your health, it’s your wealth, being able to enjoy what you have. And doing it in an intentional way. So I think the impact that I hope to have now is just that, is if I can even just a little bit help my clients live a little bit more intentionally or… You’ve talked about this in The One-Page Financial Plan, you talk with Kitces in your podcast, kinda this idea of like aligning your capital, the money you make that you work so hard for and aligning that with your values.

Matt Mulcock:
If I can have even a little bit of impact there, in helping someone live more intentionally, then I feel like I’ve done what I set out to do. And this has been something that’s evolved over time, like, you go from just kind of like trying to learn the business, the technical aspect of the business as much as you possibly can. You don’t even know what you’re really… At least, I didn’t know what I really wanted out of this until there’s that, like you said, there’s like that turning point almost. And for me it was at the branch. And then actually even more so when I got to Dentist Advisors, ’cause it went from this like breadth-to-depth like we were going… I went from like this generalist advisor, trying to have very surface level understanding of as many topics as I could, to like now I only work with dentists. And so I think my impact on their lives can be much deeper in the value that I add for them.

Carl Richards:
Wow. Yeah. Very cool. And how many people at Dentist Advisors… Sorry, every once in a while, I wanna say Dental Advisors.

Matt Mulcock:
Everybody does. Everybody does. Yeah.

Carl Richards:
Well, but I think it’s important you’re not advising dental, you’re advising dentists.

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah, exactly.

Carl Richards:
So tell me about, how many people are there?

Matt Mulcock:
So we have a staff of, I want to say 20 now.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. And how many sort of frontline advisor…

Matt Mulcock:
We have six advisors.

Carl Richards:
Okay.

Matt Mulcock:
Yep.

Carl Richards:
Just talk a little bit about this idea of impact at scale. So now it’s not just you, there’s five other… Or is there six other advisors or five others?

Matt Mulcock:
There’s five others, there’s six total advisors. Yep.

Carl Richards:
Six total advisors. Like what are the challenges of finding other people that want to be engaged at that level, that would use words like help and impact and like, serve, talk to me a little bit about that.

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah. I think stage one is in the interview process and the vetting process of making sure that people are in it for the right reasons… Or I shouldn’t even say that, that they’re in it for the reasons that align with us. Because I’m not gonna sit here and say like, “We’ve got it all figured out. We do it the right way. We do it the way that we think makes the high, again, has the highest impact for our clients.” So I think the first step is vetting, the vetting process. We hire very slow, basically. We wanna make sure we have the right person with the right mindset and approach that compares to what we want to do. So something like, for example, we want to very much make sure that someone’s gonna be able to collaborate and be team focused and client focused, which means, we wanna make sure you don’t have an ego, that you’re okay getting pushback on and giving pushback on. So things like that.

Matt Mulcock:
And then I think, from there to your point of like, it’s way different when it’s like I was the first advisor post Reese and Ryan. I was the first advisor they hired out of their… From what was there just like really small, intimate little shop. And they were just kinda like piecing together as they go. I feel like sometimes we still are doing that. But now it’s how do we make sure that if a client comes in, they have the same experience, whether they’re talking to me or they’re talking to Jake or they’re talking to Will or all of our advisors now. So I think having quality systems, I think having something like Elements obviously has helped us, that obviously that was created kind of within our firm and has now expanded out to what it is.

Matt Mulcock:
But having quality systems, having ongoing communication with advisors. We have a weekly meeting, like what’s working, what’s not? What can we change? Listening to… We record phone calls and listen and share phone calls with each other, with clients and say, again, what’s working, what’s not? We pick things up from other people. So I know it’s kind of an all over answer, but that’s really what it comes down to, is finding this balance of, and still having a boutique kind of like intimate relationship with our client, but also making sure that as we continue to grow that that’s a repeatable systematized process. So no matter what, our clients are having the same experience.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. What’s been the most surprising challenge that you’ve faced that you’ve been surprised by? Like, what’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned?

Matt Mulcock:
That this is really hard. [chuckle] I shouldn’t say that surprises me, but it is really hard to find this balance of efficiency versus… Not that these are always like on the opposite ends of the spectrum, but they can be, where it’s like client experience versus efficiency. That’s something we’re always trying to find the balance of, on the back end of the system or communication with a client, should that come from the advisor or should that come from our associate? It’s really, really difficult. And another… I’ll say this, a challenging or a surprising challenge that has come up is like when to change something based on feedback from let’s say one or two clients. So like, when to actually make a change. It’s really, really easy to be super reactive when you hear something from someone like, “Oh, that didn’t work for you? We should go change the entire thing.” So I think trying to find when is the right time to make a change, because a lot of times those changes can be really, really difficult to implement at a larger scale. So I’d say probably that is when to know when to actually make a change versus just approach that as like a one-off scenario.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. I’m curious about just, especially from your perspective with five other advisors that you’re involved with, what is the impact? We know who it’s for, it’s for dentists, who your work is for, but what does it actually do? We all know about the spreadsheets and the calculator, it’s fine, but what does it actually do? The work?

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah. I would say in the work that we’ve done, we’ve actually done some work on this of trying to uncover this very thing. Like, what’s the actual impact that we’re having that we can… Maybe that isn’t tangible, but we can point to. And a theme that’s come up from like quite a bit from our clients and people we talk to at events, is peace of mind. This idea that I feel comfortable, or I feel more comfortable with my relationship with money, or something as simple as being organized and now understanding my balance sheet, or understanding where my cash is going, understanding that there’s a big difference in my top line revenue or what they call in the dental space collections versus what I actually take home. Like now I understand that flow. So the end result in most cases from, again, kind of like an overarching theme is this idea of peace of mind. And to us, that has an impact on everything. It has an impact on your health, it has an impact on your relationship with your spouse and your family. So that to us is kind of like, if we had to boil it down to one thing, it would be that.

Carl Richards:
And the one thing would be peace of mind.

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah. Yep.

Carl Richards:
Have you ever had anybody come in the door saying, “Hi, I’m here for some peace of mind?”

Matt Mulcock:
[laughter] Usually not. Usually not. Nope.

Carl Richards:
It feels so interesting to me that most of the work that we do is actually just a trick, a righteous trick to get to the stuff that actually really matters. Like, the spreadsheet, and when should I repay the loan and the financial questions, they’re all incredibly important and technically can be really challenging and we gotta be experts and pros at that. But they’re also… If that’s all we did, we’re leaving this huge opportunity. I’m not even sure… Would it be valuable? Sure, it would be valuable. But it’s so much valuable. The value is compounded if we can get underneath just a little bit. And then we start pointing to things like, peace of mind, or I have a different relationship with money. I’m still really curious, I don’t feel like I’m getting the exact right question I want to ask… I’m having a hard time translating the question. I’m curious about your ability to do that at scale. So now we’re talking about peace of mind on top of like, what does it do? Will it provides peace of mind for dentists around their use of money?

Carl Richards:
As Dentist Advisors has grown from a small group of advisors to more and more advisors, what does it take to maintain that ability to stay focused on, “Look, yes, we’re good with the spreadsheets, but we’re trying to get you to this deeper spot.” How have you trained people? What do you do there? What are the unique challenges there?

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah. This is something we’ve talked about just recently, as we again, go through these growing pains. One thing that I think we’ve discovered is always asking the right questions. I think it’s meaning internally for us. Like, I think it’s very easy as you continue to grow and you start to see growth at, let’s say, like, as a company, your revenue’s growing or your EBITDA, whatever it is, insert business metric. I think that oftentimes can lead to shifting the questions you’re asking. So like, for example, when I first got to Dentist Advisors, Reese and Ryan were so adamant about the question, the fundamental question is, is this right for the client? Or, does this improve client experience? Is this what the client would want? And I’m not saying we’re still not doing that, but I’m saying it’s a lot… To your point of this challenge, it becomes more challenging the bigger you get because there’s just so many more moving parts. There’s more employees, there’s different… Again, as you start to grow, it’s like, “Okay, well what metrics should we be tracking?” And it’s easy, I think, to get distracted by other questions. So I think to your question of how do you do this at scale, I think it’s don’t lose sight of those fundamental questions that got you there in the first place.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Whose job… We sometimes refer to that as sort of like guarding the light.

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah.

Carl Richards:
Like whose job is it to be the guardian of the light at Dentist Advisors?

Matt Mulcock:
I would like to think we all kind of play a role in it, in balancing this out. I think we do. I feel like we do a good job of kind of being a checks and balance system for each other. And so if one of us starts to deviate, there’s a few of us that are more regularly in meetings around like, let’s say business growth. And so I think some weeks it might be me checking someone else and like, “Hey, let’s get back to this.” Or someone checking me being like, “Hey, you’re asking the wrong question.” So I’d like to think that it’s kind of all of us in a certain way, of trying to all just make sure we’re checking each other and keeping each other balanced on what are we actually trying to accomplish? And are we, again, are we asking the right questions?

Carl Richards:
Yeah. I mean, I think we have a word for that. And it’s the, whose job is it? It’s obviously, it should be the company’s culture to maintain that job. But remember I went up and interviewed the chief marketing officer at Terrex, my favorite outdoor brand.

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah, incredible.

Carl Richards:
Outdoor clothing manufacturer. Yeah. And back… Yeah. Anyway, I’m not gonna comment on things that have happened recently. But back in the day, and I think maybe even still now, like highest quality year you could get, and they had been through a one or two different private equity. They had been acquired by two or three different people. I think it was three at that point. And I was super curious about like, who protects the soul of the brand because the soul seems to still be there even after a couple of acquisitions. And they actually could point me to the person. They were like, “He’s this guy, we keep him over here in the corner, we’ll be glad to talk to him. But he comes out every once in a while.” I was like, “That’s not the right thing.”

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah.

Carl Richards:
But, there was an example of somebody who actually, that was their job was to say, “Hey, that’s the wrong question.” “Hey, let’s not get too caught up.” Hey, let’s not react too strongly to that because we have some pretty strong, and I use the term fancy feelings a lot. Like we have some pretty strong fancy feelings that we may not even be able to articulate, but we know it when we feel it. Like, “That thing we just did, that marketing campaign feels a little off brand. That ad we ran, the interview you just did,” can we use that as a teaching opportunity? So I think what is interesting about this, to me, this conversation is, it’s one thing to do that when you’re the guardian of the light for your own company and you’re the one doing the work, it’s an entirely different thing when there’s six other client facing advisors plus customer support, people, you’re talking to people plus branding and you’ve got 20 plus people and you’re growing like crazy. So, yeah. Any just comments about that? A little rambling without…

Matt Mulcock:
No, I think that is… I love that you have that example of like, if there’s an actual person they can point to. I would say for us, if I had to point to any group, like group of people that are doing it for us, I think naturally you’d look at the advisors doing the work every day with clients. And so I’d say if there’s anything of like protecting that culture, it would be the advisors. And you just used several examples that are actually real, of, we do a new marketing campaign and the advisors are like, or someone on the advisor team is like, “Hey, are we sure we wanna do this?” Or pushing back on that. Now we’ve created, use the word culture spot on. We want to protect that at all costs.

Matt Mulcock:
I’ll tell people this when I’m interviewing new team members or possible new team members is, number one for us is we wanna protect our culture. And this culture of no one is afraid to come and push back up any level of the company. To say, this doesn’t feel right, or we’re not asking the right questions or whatever. So I think as long as you protect that culture and you continue to cultivate that culture, and you give people the feeling of autonomy and purpose behind that, that they share in that purpose together, I think that helps you as you grow. People feeling safe, that they can come to, again, they can come to the managing director, they can come to me and say, “This doesn’t feel right.” And we can have that conversation without them feeling like they’re gonna get reprimanded. I think that’s really key.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Well, let me just wrap up with two last questions. Number one is, what’s one thing that… Let’s say there is somebody who just, is hired their second or third advisor, they’re getting ready to really scale, like grow the firm. What’s one thing you wish you had known? What’s one thing you think you could tell them to make their job easier? Specifically around culture? Like keeping this kind of ethos of help serve intentional.

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah. I mean it sounds simple, but I think, coming back to like your why, like what is the point? And then kind of the Covey. The 7 Habits book, right?

Carl Richards:
Yeah.

Matt Mulcock:
Coming back to what Covey says is like starting with the end in mind, again, that sounds really simple, but I think I don’t think enough people in general, advisors or I see this with dentists, I don’t think enough people in general sit back and think, “What do I want out of this? If I’m looking 10 years down the road or 20 years down the road, like, what is… Let me paint this picture for myself. And are these decisions I’m making today leading me to that vision?” I think I’ve seen it too often. Again, I’ll say in the dental space where people just start growing and they allow it to grow. And I was saying earlier, they stop asking the right questions or the questions that got them there. I think that all comes back to the fact that they’re not taking a step back on a regular basis and stopping and saying, “I executing on the vision that I originally had? Or that I have now?” ‘Cause obviously it can always change, but I think always stopping and saying, is this what I really want? And then why? That would probably be the biggest thing.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Amazing. Well, Matt, let’s wrap up with this question then, which is in light of what you just said, I’d planned on asking this question anyway, but it feels a little, like after what you just said, it feels like… Anyway, if we were looking back, if you were looking back, we’re meeting, let’s just say five years from today, and we’re looking back on the last five years, what would’ve had to have occurred at Dentist Advisors for you to be really thrilled about the impact you made?

Matt Mulcock:
Whoa. You’re saying we’re five years in the future?

Carl Richards:
Yeah. We’re sitting down to have this conversation December 19th, 2027.

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah.

Carl Richards:
And I’m asking you about like what happened in the last five years and you’re thrilled. Like what do you hope? What would’ve had to have happened in terms… And specifically around the impact that you’ve made?

Matt Mulcock:
Yeah. Yeah, that’s a fantastic question. I would probably say, if I’m pointing to one thing, if I looked at one thing, again, five years from now and looking back, I would look at the amount of clients or people we were helping. That’s always kind of been what we’re trying to focus on in the dental spaces. Is how do we expand our reach when it comes to the different areas that we have in our business. So for example, content and then our, we have different service models in which clients are able to engage with us. So I’m not even saying like, “Oh, we have to have so many clients in the private wealth management service model.” It’s how many listeners of our podcast do we have? Have we grown that of the healthy clip? How many clients do we have? What does our growth look like?

Matt Mulcock:
Because I think it’s very common in the advisor space. I mean, you know better than anyone of like this idea of, assets under management kind of being like the ultimate metric, right? Right. For me, I think I would look at, number of clients. So number of clients that we have that we’re able to serve and to help, along with still protecting that culture if we’re able to do that in five years from now. And I don’t have like this number, we have to be tripled by then, but that’s the number I would be looking at, is how many clients did we grow by? And were we able to maintain our culture along the way?

Carl Richards:
Is that just, basically just a proxy for impact? A way to measure impact?

Matt Mulcock:
I think it is. And I think it’s because of the way we approach it. Meaning, the only way that clients find out about us basically, or that dentists find out about us is through our content, through our educational content or through referrals. That’s the only way. And so I look at that as kind of a really easy way to say like, if we’ve grown our client base, that means that we’re having a really positive impact with education and content, which is the foundation of everything that we do. And we’re getting referrals, which means our clients are happy with what… And they’re able to put their personal reputation on the line to go out and tell people about us. So that to me is like a really good proxy of saying, you’ve done your job and adding and having a positive impact and the word is spreading.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Amazing. So good, my friend Matt. Thanks for taking your time to chat with us.

Matt Mulcock:
Yes, Carl. Thanks so much. Yeah, it was awesome. I loved it. Hopefully I can do it again with you sometime.

Carl Richards:
Yeah, for sure. Cheers my friend.

Jordan Haines:
Next time on Elementality.

Jeff Wolniewicz:
Do you ever go somewhere and like you get to your destination or you’re at a stoplight and all of a sudden you think it’s like, “Whoa, how did I get here? Like, it’s kind of slope walk through that part of the drive. And I think, on a broader scale, I think if we’re not careful, sometimes that happens, especially when we’re busy and going through that phase of our lives with, trying to get the next promotion or grow our family or buy the next house. That sometimes that moment happens where it’s like, whoa, like, how did I get here right now? And what’s next? And I think just pausing a little bit and like there’s some real impact in us having a deep conversation with people about like where they’re going.

Abby Morton:
You can learn more about the Elements Financial Monitoring System at GetElements.com/demo and schedule a time to talk with one of our friendly financial planning experts. Elementality’s executive creators are Reese Harper and Carl Richards. Elementality is produced by Abby Morton and directed by Jordan Haynes. Have a good one.

 

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