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The Power of Silence with Brandon Galici

Silence. You know, the awkward space where, before answering a question, a client ponders what was asked. That silence is your friend. It’s when clients often reveal their real feelings—sincere emotions about money that can help you understand what drives their actions. If silence makes you uneasy and you want to interrupt the stillness, don’t!

On this Elementality, Carl and Elements client Brandon Galici of Galici Financial, look at how to uncover clients’ true feelings about money. They look at why there is power in staying quiet at the right time, plus offer suggestions on good transition questions which result in deeper client reflection. It takes time for a client to internalize a question. Be sure you give them the space to provide a thoughtful answer.

Show Notes
GaliciFinancial.com

 

 


Podcast Transcript

Carl Richards:
You mentioned you’re comfortable with the sort of silence, that awkward space of maybe asking a really good question and somebody’s like, ’cause by definition, a really good question is something that somebody hasn’t been asked before.

Brandon Galici:
Yeah.

Carl Richards:
How did you get comfortable with that space? Most of us aren’t comfortable. Did you have to learn or was that just a natural thing for you?

Brandon Galici:
Yeah, I felt I definitely was not. I’m still not perfect at it, I would say, but definitely at the beginning, it was a little bit more uncomfortable and sometimes I would jump in, maybe like, hey, why is money important to you? It could be like, ’cause I would feel uncomfortable. But then I realized if I just didn’t fill that space, they would. Because again, like you said, it’s a question that most of us probably haven’t been asked. It takes a second to process, especially because like you said, they weren’t coming into the office to sit and cry on the couch across from me, right? So they’re not necessarily expecting that question. So I just learned that, hey, if I just be quiet, ask this question, allow them to process, then great conversations happen out of that 10 times out of 10.

[music]

Abby Morton:
Hey Elementality listeners, it’s Abby Morton. As more advisors include Elements as part of their financial planning toolkit, we decided to interview a few of them to see what challenges have come up plus what successes they’ve enjoyed when using Elements. We believe learning from other advisors will help you see how Elements can revolutionize planning for you. Enjoy.

[music]

Carl Richards:
Greetings, Carl Richards here and welcome to the Elementality podcast. So excited to have Brandon Galici joining us today. Brandon, welcome to the show.

Brandon Galici:
Hey, thanks so much, Carl. Really happy to be here.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. So I would love to start at the place that we always start, which is the beginning. Could you just kind of settle in for a second and go back? I’d love to hear, and I don’t want the like surface level why. I wanna hear the actual reason. What drove your decision to get into this business?

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. That’s a great question, Carl. And I think for me, so actually I started college out as a sports broadcasting major and then got halfway through and then shifted to finance ’cause I was actually looking to get into marketing ’cause I was like, I like to communicate. I like to talk to people. So marketing, that sounds good. That’s under the business umbrella. But then I got connected to the finance professor. We hit it off. So I just dove headfirst into that. And then I had the opportunity to do taxes in my senior year of college in a one-on-one space. And what was so much fun is not only did I really enjoy the tax preparation piece at that time, but people would have questions.

Brandon Galici:
Hey, how could I lower my tax bill next year? What should I be doing over the next 12 months? And they literally got to sit… I got to sit across the desk from them and answer real life questions from real life human beings. And I was like, oh, this is really, really interesting. So started to learn more about the financial services industry and what being a financial advisor or a financial planner could potentially look like. And I was like, wow, I feel like I could have a lot of influence and impact. And we all have questions about money. Money touches us, touches every single person, whether we like it or not. It does. So man, what if I could have conversations and just help people with something that so many struggle with? So that’s kinda what got me into it.

Carl Richards:
How early on did you realize that real financial advice happens in conversations? That’s interesting to me that conversations were a part of what you noticed early.

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. So I would say, I was super blessed to find Michael Kitces, I’m pretty sure before I even graduated. And I was looking back and actually…

Carl Richards:
I’m sorry.

Brandon Galici:
[chuckle] Yeah, I know. But it was my senior year. I looked back actually, and I listened to your episode on there, Carl. And so I got into the one-page plan. And so truthfully, from the beginning, and I promise you, this is 100% true from my very first client meeting to all of the client meetings now, I still ask, why is money important to you? So I think so. You’ve had a lot of influence in that. And then just other awesome folks in the community listening to the different podcasts really helped me realize early on. And then once I started having conversations with clients, that only cemented it for me.

Carl Richards:
Fascinating. Can you tell us a story or think of a time in those early conversations using a question that you use? Can you think of a time where you were like, wow, that was really impactful? Like, the… Here’s what I’m trying to get at. I would imagine nobody’s coming to your office asking you if they could cry on their couch.

0:04:57.0 BG: Correct.

Carl Richards:
Or, “Could you please Brandon, could you please help me clarify my life purpose?”

Brandon Galici:
Right.

Carl Richards:
Normally, they come with a presenting problem. They have a financial question. Like I need to do budget better. I need to buy life insurance. My portfolio is blown up. They have a presenting question. And we all know our job is to sort of greet them with empathy around the presenting question. But then slowly help them understand that what they really needed to be doing is getting a little deeper. And you use a question to get there. Can you think of examples of where like that was super impactful?

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. I would say almost every single time I use it. But one specific example, or what I find a lot of times, “Why is money important to you?” People will start with, we’ll call them the slightly more service level answers. It’s financial freedom, retire someday. Money is simply a tool like we need it. But the more… Honestly, I just ask the question, Carl, and I shut up. I just let them keep talking. I’m okay with a little bit of awkward silence and they’ll keep diving deeper. And one of the, I think one of my favorite times when why is money important to you came up, we started getting into, man, you know what, Brandon? I want my kids to have a better opportunity than I had growing up. That’s my why.

Brandon Galici:
And it was just, wow, like that totally is reshaping why would we maybe have these if we call them goals, this college goal, or building wealth so that my kids can have a better opportunity than I had because I grew up impoverished or whatever the case may be. And that totally, one, deepened the relationship. But then also I was able to be a much better planner because now we could phrase everything through that lens versus simply let’s retire at 65 with a million dollars because you read on the Internet somewhere that was good.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. So amazing to me. It’s just amazing to me that like how were you supposed to do your job if you didn’t know that?

Brandon Galici:
I couldn’t. I really don’t know how anyone does it without at least trying to get to those questions. I think it’d be really hard.

Carl Richards:
Do you have a favorite, I call them go deeper transitions or follow-ups. Do you have a favorite way? Like you say you ask the question and be quiet, but do you have a favorite way of just kind of the nudge? Is there anything you say like, “Keep going” or is there anything you say?

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. Sometimes it could be tell me a little bit more about that or another question sometimes that’ll come up…

Carl Richards: Brandon, wait. Hold on. Hold on. That’s so complicated.

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. Very complex.

Carl Richards:
Tell me a little bit more about that. What else?

Brandon Galici:
Yeah, exactly. Or this one. This one might blow your mind too. Like, wait, what was money like growing up for you? That question too. And that has been also really insightful because people will share “Hey, my first job I bought some… ” This person was from Ireland. I bought some soccer boots or football boots rather is what they told me. So it’s like, wow, like just getting to hear people’s first job or they had a lot of money or they didn’t have money and really understanding where we’ve come from with money, allows me as the planner to make such… Be so much better, makes much better recommendations as well because, hey, I understand where you’ve come from. And I could see how, hey, if you wanna maybe be a little bit more tight with your money, that makes sense based on your upbringing or you didn’t have access to name brand clothes so now shopping is especially one of the things that you’re most passionate about. So having the answer to that question and truthfully just the conversations really allows me to have better conversations and then deliver better advice.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. So good. Yeah. My favorite one is just and what else?

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. Love that.

Carl Richards:
Right. Awe, just A-W-E, right? And what else?

Brandon Galici:
Mm-hmm.

Carl Richards:
So good. Thank you for that. Well, actually, I wanna ask you one more question. You mentioned you’re comfortable with the sort of silence. That awkward space of maybe asking a really good question and somebody’s like, ’cause by definition, a really good question is something that somebody hasn’t been asked before.

Brandon Galici:
Yeah.

Carl Richards:
How did you get comfortable with that space? Most of us aren’t comfortable. Did you have to learn or was that just a natural thing for you?

Brandon Galici:
Yeah, I felt I definitely was not. I’m still not perfect at it, I would say. But definitely at the beginning, it was a little bit more uncomfortable. And sometimes I would jump in maybe like, hey, why is money important to you? It could be like ’cause I would feel uncomfortable. But then I realized if I just didn’t fill that space, they would. And because again, like you said, it’s a question that most of us probably haven’t been asked, it takes a second to process, especially because like you said, they weren’t coming into the office to sit and cry on the couch across from me, right? So they’re not necessarily expecting that question. So I just learned that, hey, if I just be quiet, ask this question, allow them to process, then great conversations happen out of that 10 times out of 10.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Amen. So good. Let me ask you a question about your sort of use of Elements. In particular, I wanna stick with this theme around conversations. Can you think of a time when Elements, the scorecard, these objective measures have given you the framework for a conversation with a client?

Brandon Galici:
Yeah, absolutely. So even I’m in the middle of this process right now. Actually with a prospect, they’re looking to move out of the country over the next couple of years. And so instantly I was able to start having the conversation. This is after why is money important to you? What was money like growing up? So we’ve already built the relationship and I feel like I understand them on a deeper level. But now knowing that that is a true goal of theirs and I would call it a short-term goal next three years versus 40, 50 years out for “retirement” or becoming work optional. So instantly I was able to say, hey, I don’t have the answer for you right now for what your next step is ’cause we just met. But here’s how we’re going to attack the problem. And specifically in their case, we’re looking at their liquid term score, their liquidity, because if we’re putting money into if we’re all about and don’t get me wrong, I love tax planning and I love legally reducing taxes as much as possible. But if we dump all of our money in qualified retirement accounts, yes, that saves us tax today. But what good is that gonna do in three years if we don’t have any cash? How are you gonna move out of the country? You can’t.

Brandon Galici:
So even just being able to say, hey, I’m not saying this is exactly what we’re doing, but this is gonna be a key focus. We’re gonna look at this liquid term score and then explaining what that is, why it’s important. And it’s just like, oh, yeah, no, that makes total sense.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Amazing. I’m gonna ask you one more just ’cause I’m curious. Any other element that you’ve used recently to have to orient yourself around a conversation other than liquid term?

Brandon Galici:
Yeah.

Carl Richards:
By the way, which I love, liquid term’s my favorite one, and it’s so easy to tell stories about it, which is why I’m asking you, is there one… Is there anything else that comes to mind?

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. So total term. So that’s another one that’s come into my mind. In fact, so I’ve recently onboarded a client who actually even requested a Monte Carlo analysis, like his words, I’m not even kidding.

Carl Richards:
Stop it. No. I’ve never… Come one.

Brandon Galici:
This is the… Carl, this is the first time. This is the first time in my entire career that I’ve ever had someone this detailed, this granular using the words Monte Carlo, wanting to know what actual all those assumptions are. So this is, he’s a successful retired doctor. But so even with that, so again, so I’m setting up the story ’cause he knows what a Monte Carlo is and that’s what he requested. But then briefly…

Carl Richards:
He… Poor guy.

Brandon Galici:
Yeah, yeah, I know, right? But then we shifted the conversation or I shifted the conversation to total term and explained what that was and broke it down. I’m like, you have between 85, depending on your spending estimates, 85 and 108 years in your total term, which again, by way of reminder for those listening, net worth divided by annual spending. How long could we live on our net worth, not factoring in inflation, taxes, fees, any of those types of projections.

Carl Richards:
Not factoring in all the guesses.

Brandon Galici:
Right. Exactly. Exactly. So 85 was like his… Not even what he’s spending now. That was if he’s like ’cause he’s super analytical. So even well, what if I spent more? Okay, well, then I did that in real time for him. Okay, fine. You only have 85 years now with about 35 of that in your liquid term.

Carl Richards:
Wow.

Brandon Galici:
And by the end of that conversation, so even though we still went through the Monte Carlo, ’cause again, he specifically requested it, we left that Zoom meeting and he felt, man, I can… I feel comfortable and I feel confident again. I feel like I can start dreaming more. So that was actually the homework for him was, hey, start figuring out, do you want to buy that RV and travel with your wife while you’re still healthy? Do you wanna buy that second home in Montana? Like start considering those things, ’cause look, your plan is fine. We’ve run the Monte Carlo like you wanted. We’re talking about this total term. So that conversation just wouldn’t have happened because it would have only been about the numbers and the probabilities and the assumptions and forecast versus this is what… Like, you got 85 years and that’s in our conservative spending number. You can do these things. So that was so much fun.

Carl Richards:
That’s a great story. Yeah, it’s so interesting to realize. I learned this early on that as soon as I would use data in one of The New York Times columns, people would wanna argue about the data and they would miss the point.

Brandon Galici:
Yeah.

Carl Richards:
I think that’s kind of what happened here, right? Like the point is, bro, you got nothing to worry about. And we can argue all day long about 97.2375% confidence or 92.78 confidence or what the assumptions are. But the point is, let’s not miss the point here. This total term score tells you you have nothing to worry about. So good.

Brandon Galici:
Right. Yeah.

Carl Richards:
So let me… I’ve got a couple kind of rapid fire questions you can kinda take as long as you want to answer. But I’m gonna ask them quickly. Do you have a tool that and it could be like really just anything. I’m interested in like what’s on your desk. Do you have a tool that you use that has been surprisingly useful to you?

Brandon Galici:
I would say recently I got a knockoff Apple Pencil, actually, and that has been incredibly helpful. So I’ve always got it around and it’s just really helpful ’cause instead of doodling on notepads, which is what I used to do, there’s just something about sometimes having this in my hand is just helpful or sketching something out or even doing something in just the notes app, just drawing something in there to help me flesh out an answer to a question or model out something relatively simple, but being able to visually see it. So this Apple Pencil and then my iPad has been more useful than I would have anticipated.

Carl Richards:
Okay, perfect. Perfect. What… Is there one thing? What… Not is there. What’s the one thing that you know, like you know if you did it, it has a positive impact on your life or your business. What’s the one thing that you know if you started doing it today, it would have a positive impact on your life or your business?

Brandon Galici:
Playing in traffic as you call it. Just continuing to…

Carl Richards:
Yeah, explain that a little bit.

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. So putting myself out there more. So that’s one of the things that even from the beginning of the year, I’ve just felt led to go more down that route of getting content out versus almost the traditional model even where I started, I was physically knocking on doors so that you can guess the unnamed firm that I might have been working for. But being able to produce things and even if a few people watch it, being able to receive value from that, like I’ve really enjoyed over the last couple of weeks. I actually cut up some content from actually from an Elements question that I was answering just to put out on some of my socials. And I’ve enjoyed the process of that. And I’m really excited to see where that goes moving forward because I just had a blast doing it. And I think hopefully at least someone watches it, someone will receive some sort of value from it and then also some business opportunities as well.

Carl Richards:
So if I’m hearing you correctly, like what… Let’s nail down the… I call them souvenirs like the artifact. So you want to create more content. But what’s the specific thing?

Brandon Galici:
Video.

Carl Richards:
So share… You know that if you shared, created and shared more video, it’d have a positive impact on your life or your business?

Brandon Galici:
Yes.

Carl Richards:
What’s the blocker? What gets in the way of doing it?

Brandon Galici:
Before, truthfully, I didn’t have an excuse. So over the last couple of weeks, I’ve actually started to get it out there more. So now I really don’t have an excuse ’cause I’ve put some stuff out and people were like, oh, I’ve noticed you’re posting now.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. So it’s not… You don’t have a blocker with fear or time management or anything, what’s getting in your way of not doing it? Nothing. Is that what you’re saying? Nothing now?

Brandon Galici:
Right. Right. I was even a… Yeah, I was even a sports broadcasting major. So I can’t even say, oh, I’m afraid to be on camera or in front of the mic. So you can’t even use that excuse. I can’t even use that. So yeah, it just was I didn’t have a good reason. Procrastination maybe would be the closest to an excuse that I had. But we’re kicking that to the curb now.

Carl Richards:
Totally. Totally. Okay, last question. Let’s pretend, let’s just go… I’m gonna just stick with 20 years, let’s pretend like we’re 20 years in the future and you’re looking back. What would you hope your impact had been over the last 20 years?

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. Well, I wanna help people not just maximize their money, but really maximize their life and maximize their fulfillment of it. So I have a tagline for my firm. I call it maximize life today, plan for tomorrow. So money is, of course, part of that. But how could I have conversations with people? Some of these why questions so that they’re not just, oh, I can’t wait to retire in 20 years, in 30 years, in 10 years and wish my life away so that once I’m retired, I can do things that I am passionate about. So how can we reframe that conversation and allow them to see, hey, maybe you can’t do this full thing that you wanna do right now. But what if you started doing part of it? What if you can’t completely be work optional right now, but you can serve and volunteer in this particular area that you’re just incredibly passionate about that’s going to increase the joy and the quality and the fulfillment of your life both today, but also knowing that, hey, you’ve got a game plan for the future that we’re going to be heading towards. So it’s not let’s get… Let’s be fulfilled in the future. Let’s plan for that. No, why can’t we be fulfilled right now? So having those types of conversations.

Carl Richards:
So good. I’m super, Brandon, super excited to watch that happen over the next 20 years.

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.

Carl Richards:
Yeah. Thanks for taking the time to have this conversation today, Brandon. Really appreciate it.

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. No, thank you so much, Carl. Thank you for everything that you do for the industry. You’ve had a huge impact on me and and I know so many others too. So it’s a big thanks to you, Carl.

Carl Richards:
Cheers. That means a lot. Cheers, Brandon.

Brandon Galici:
Yeah. Cheers.

Abby Mort0n:
Next time on Elementality.

Michelle Wong:
With the remote environment, now the biggest question is like, oh, how do I manage a remote employee or because the RA industry continues to grow, it’s gonna be more competitive against firms to retain talent. And it’s not just understanding, like getting the technical support, but it’s also how do I build a culture within my team where I can retain this person? And I think a lot of those challenges kind of developed over the past few years where they come to Nifty because we have that management experience. We have all of these internal strategies that even our clients don’t really know that we do to help retain talent. And we build a team culture that is really hard to mimic with in-person culture and just that isn’t a part of traditional, the traditional industry that you see in financial services.

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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