Meet Jewels H.
He’s not like other advisors. For one thing, he used to race motorcycles. We wanted to know more about him and his philosophy, so to learn more about this advisor and his competitive spirit, we sat down with him to talk about his past, his present, and his future as one of the standout producers contracted with CreativeOne. What follows is a transcript of that interview (it’s been edited for length and clarity).
Find out what makes Jewels different. Read more for his insights on business, life, and the wealth management (and retirement) industries.
CreativeOne: Let’s start with this: can you tell me a quick story about how you founded your practice and how that came to be? How did you get into this business?
Jewels H.: The story is an interesting one. I was a licensed building contractor for a lot of years and I was wanting to maybe make a career change. I was around 40 years old when this was going on. I had a friend of mine up here in Greensboro, North Carolina, and he thought I would be a good fit for this industry, so I came up and I took an aptitude test. They seemed to like what they saw and thought I would be a good fit, too, so I started working with them for a year or two, learning the ropes.
I worked for them for about two years, and then I decided I was going to go on my own and do the same thing.
In January of ’06, I went out on my own. It’s been a good fit for me. It was a big jump, to go from being a contractor to something of this nature, but what was similar was working with the people, sitting at a kitchen table, these people skills. It wasn’t a direct crossover, it was just I already had those skills, I just had to learn the wealth management side of things: being there for folks and helping them make good decisions about their retirement. It was an interesting career change for me to do that.
It turned out to be the best thing I ever did.
C1: That’s wonderful. In the time that you’ve been doing this, wealth management and retirement income planning, are there marketing techniques you’ve done that haven’t worked? Were there things that didn’t work you had to learn from?
Jewels: Yeah, absolutely. There’s always plenty of stuff that doesn’t work. Marketing ideas that you try. I’ve done a little bit of everything over the years. I’ve done direct mail for many, many years. It worked for a long time, and then it finally went away. The last few years it’s become worthless.
And then I went over to workshops, I did a few seminars, same thing. Some of the seminars I did didn’t work out well at all, I didn’t think. The workshops have been good. That’s great. I’m also working in a referral phase. I’ve been working my files in recent years. That’s helped a lot — reaching out to current clients and getting more clients to do more, or to recommend their friends and family members as clients, that’s been a good thing for me.
There’s plenty of marketing avenues. Some are going to work better than others. Some won’t work at all. Trial and error for sure.
C1: You pointed out some of them worked “for a while,” too. That’s another thing people don’t talk about enough: things will work and then they won’t work.
Jewels: Yeah, I think the market gets saturated on certain types of marketing programs. That’s what happened with direct mail. And landlines went away, and a lot of things have changed with reaching people too, no-call lists and all kinds of different things.
Workshops are going to continue to change and mutate based on what the public is going to react to and what they will no longer react to. What works today, in five years it may not work at all.
It’s constant evolving. I liken it to every year you have to reinvent yourself, what you’re going to do that year to continue to have a strong marketing program. Be in front of people every day. If you don’t do that well you’re not going to stay in the game.
You’re also a business owner and you’re running a business, and that’s where that part of it comes in, the decisions that you make about what you’re going to do to market yourself. It’s probably the biggest decision advisors make every year: “What are we going to do?”
C1: Yeah, because it’s a competitive marketplace, like you were saying. You have to stay competitive yourself as a business.
Jewels: We do. And that’s the toughest nut to crack ever year, is that right there.
C1: Have you been with us since you started in 2006, or rather how long have you been with CreativeOne?
Jewels: I think I started at the end of ’05, was when I started writing business, at the end of 2005. The last quarter 2005 is when I started, and ’06 was my first full year.
C1: How has it been working with CreativeOne? Have they helped you through these things, like you were talking about, how some things work, some things don’t, trial and error? Has CreativeOne been a good partner?
Jewels: Yeah, absolutely. They have numerous ideas that they have brought up. Working with Johnathan Lee, that was their idea to not only bringing him in, but to ask me to come and be part of that. It was a great program. They’re always having ideas to help their producers, and they’ve certainly done plenty of that over the years. I think they’ve been a great partner for me. They really have.
C1: What’s that like working with Social Security — with people who need help maximizing their Social Security? Is that something that gets people’s foot in the door for you?
Jewels: It’s a great avenue to get to know people and help with something, and then be in position to work with them on the asset planning side. It’s a great intro. Everybody seems to need it and most people don’t know enough about it, so they need somebody that’s well versed in it, enough to help them make good decisions. So, yes, it’s been a great avenue to get new prospects in. It’s a good way and I really like it. I wish I had gotten into it a few years earlier than what I did, but I think it’s still a great program. I’m continuing to use it this year, and I think it’s going to be a strong avenue for quite a few more years.
A lot of buzz out there still about what’s going to happen with Social Security. The conversation is going to get renewed, it’s coming up a little bit more now in the political realm about what’s going to happen to Social Security long term, so you get more and more talk in the political world. That’s going to keep people engaged about how they need to address it. It’s a hot topic. I think it’s going to stay a hot topic.
C1: That’s very astute. The more things are in the news, the more people are going to be thinking about them.
Jewels: You’re absolutely right. At the end of the day, it’s all about making it work in Washington, D.C., I think. I hate to say that, but I really think that’s where it’s at. Social Security is going to continue to evolve, I think. It’s going to have to. That’s what’s being talked about now. They’re talking about means testing it, and they’re talking about doing some things to make sure that it stays in force. There’s a bunch of stuff they can do to do that, but most of the time it comes down to taking away from something, somewhere in order to do that.
C1: Anyway, back to being an advisor. I have just a few questions left on that. One of them would be, how are you evolving as a business owner, and what do the next ten to fifteen years look like for you as business owner? What are the biggest challenges facing you and other advisors as you head into 2019, 2020, 2021?
Jewels: I think that the market for wealth managers is great for opportunity of the amount of assets available to advisors with all the Baby Boomers retiring. The level of wealth they have is higher than what their parents had. There’s more money out there.
Certainly, there’s the lot of competition, but let’s call it a challenge. The challenge is, with this particular group, the amount of information that they have at their fingertips. The amount of knowledge. Advisors have to be a lot better today, they have to be able to offer more solutions for this group than what was required for their parents. So, it takes a higher level of skill and knowledge to serve the Baby Boomer crowd, because they’re equipped with a lot more knowledge, a lot more information.
They have more money for us to work with, but it’s more of a challenge to convert them to a client. They’re more of a shopper. They’re very, very shopping oriented, I think, and their parents were not. It’s quite a bit different generation, different expectations, and so that’s the challenge. What other advisors are going to run into is not only serving that client, but keeping that client, because these folks move around quite a bit now.
If they’re not feeling like they’ve been well serviced, they go somewhere else.
The challenge is going to be providing the level of knowledge and service that this particular client is expecting. I think the expectation is higher for the Baby Boomer client, no matter what they’re purchasing. Whether it’s the retirement planning service that they’re going to get, who they’re going to get it from, or whether it’s their next house, the next car, or whatever they’re going to do. Their level of expectation is a lot higher, and that’s going to put the effort on the advisors to step up and have better programs, better solutions, for those clients in order to get their share of the wealth that’s out there. That’s what I see as the challenge.
There could be fewer advisors. The good part is, we may have less advisors available moving forward. It’s tougher to get into the business. The younger advisors are not coming into it like they were, I’m being told. It’s harder to get established. There’s a lot of reasoning that there may not be competition on the advice side moving forward.
So, I think there’s going to be a lot of potential out there for the advisors that are able to provide what this new generation of client is looking for.
C1: That’s interesting. This leads to a follow up question that I hadn’t thought about: obviously, there’s a lot focus on Baby Boomers. There’s not even any focus, really, on Gen X, or Millennials.
Jewels: No, you’re right. I think the Millennials are probably the last group to get served right now. Not that they don’t need service and help, because they do. They have money too. But you’re right. there’s not a lot of buzz about the Gen X-ers yet, even though that’s going to be the next group. The reason for that is because the Baby Boomer group is so large and it has so much in assets, that advisors feel like this is where they need to focus right now. Again, the Gen X-ers could get neglected because of that.
C1: My last question is this, Jewels, what’s the best piece of business advice you ever got, or that you would give to someone else?
Jewels: That’s a great question. Let me give that just a moment of thought here. Best piece of advice that I may have gotten, or the best piece of advice I could give out.
C1: Might be different, I guess.
Jewels: Certainly, I was told this, many, many years ago, by a business owner that had done well and I agree with it and I would still tell other people this.
In a business, the most important thing you can do right is being able to retain profit. Structuring your business income, and your bills, and what’s left, and how you invest what’s left. It’s not what you make, but what you keep. How well you’re running practice.
What’s your net result? Have you profited every year from all this effort that you put in? Because, there’s a ton of effort in this business, and you’ve got to retain some of that. If not, you’re going to work forever and never have anything to show for it. Retention of profit and keeping some of what you generate and investing it well. This is one of the things I’ve focused on over the years.
You do all those other things correctly, you run an efficient business, you’re going to accomplish the prime directive, which is holding on to some of that profit for all the effort that you put in.
C1: And a solvent and stable business for you, also means stability for your clients.
Jewels: That’s absolutely right. That’s an excellent thought, because if you keep the business strong, you keep it running right, you’re always going to be there, and you’re always going to take care of the client.
Down the road, client service does so much for your practice, but sometimes I hear advisors dissing on service. But I find service leads me to more work. Leads me to more money. So, I think that servicing our client base is a hidden gem, and if we do a good job at it, we’re going to get more money out of it.
If you do a poor job of it, you’re probably going to lose clients over the years, instead of having client retention. I have high client retention, and that’s because I give good service. We’re there every day, we call everybody back, we help them, whether it makes me any money, we don’t care. We go ahead and take care of that client, because it does a lot for your future work and it keeps them connected to your practice.
If you think about that whole concept over a five to ten year period of time, you keep those people engaged with you, you keep them connected, when they get more money from somewhere, or somebody passes and leaves them some money, who do you think they’re going so call? They’re going to call the guy who gave them the service. That’s what they’re going to do.
So, that’s important, I think, to the life blood of the business. Service is the key to keeping your people and keeping them engaged. They are going to get more money. They all have more money. That’s another thing I learned from somebody early on. All your clients have more money.
That’s true. It’s absolutely true. So, if you’re not out there talking to them about their money, guess what? Somebody else probably is.
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Related terms: Marketing