IDEAL Plans Ideal Advisors

Ep. 11 - Processes for Serving the 401k and Executive Market - an Interview with Michael Sayre

April 19, 2020 Richard E. Boone Season 1 Episode 11
IDEAL Plans Ideal Advisors
Ep. 11 - Processes for Serving the 401k and Executive Market - an Interview with Michael Sayre
Show Notes Transcript

There are many opportunities to serve the small and mid-sized business market both with their retirement plans and their executives personal assets.  However, the challenges and needs of those markets are very complex.  Many financial advisors will struggle to understand those challenges so they will not be prepared to assemble the means, resources, and expertise to serve that market well.  Our guest, Michael Sayre, is a financial advisor who has specialized in the Salt Lake City business market for years.  He will share with us how he serves this most complex of clienteles.  By listening to this episode you will learn how Michael found his calling to serve this niche and how he was inspired to develop a targeted message, engaging activities, and processes for serving this market place.  Even if you don't wish to serve the business market, the story of his evolution may inspire you to find your niche.  Hint: It starts with understanding which kinds of people inspire you! 

Richard Boone:   0:00
Welcome to the IDEAL Plans Ideal Advisors Podcast. I'm your host, Richard Boone. We named the show after my IDEAL Plan Process because it provides it step by step framework for financial professionals to create their own vision of an ideal advisory practice. IDEAL is an acronym for Identify where you are now and where you'd like to be, Discuss your business model and possible adjustments you could make, Evaluate your proficiencies in the seven critical business elements, Assess your skills and priorities and Leverage resource in the proper sequence to serve your clients extremely well while living the lifestyle you desire. In today's episode, we will interview our guest, Michael Sayre.  Michael is a financial advisor with CUI Wealth Management who focuses on 401(k)s and personal asset management for business owners in Salt Lake City, Utah.  As a registered representative he offers securities and investment advisory services through Woodbury Financial Services, Inc., a member of FINRA/SIPC.  Woodbury and CUI are separately owned and are not affiliated.  Michael and I began working together roughly six months ago, and over that time he's made some very significant improvements in his business that have yielded some great results.  So over the next 20-25 minutes or so we're going to dive into those changes and see what he's done, how it's helped him and how it's helped his clients.  So, Hello Michael and welcome to the show! 

Michael Sayre:   1:07
Hey Rich. Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

Richard Boone:   1:10
Excellent. Well we're happy to have you here too. So why don't you go ahead and take the mic and just go with it? I'd love to hear what you're doing, How you run your business, even how you got into the business, Why you serve the kinds of clients that you do, So just dive in and take the wheel if you will, and we'll go from there.

Michael Sayre:   1:26
Awesome. Sounds good. So to give you an idea of what got me into this and why I am so passionate about it, I got to take a couple steps back and look at my family history. If you've been to Temple Square in Salt Lake City, there's all kinds of statues and paintings and such.  A lot of those came from my ancestors. So very artsy background. Now that's on my mom's side.  On my dad's side, he was a slide rule champion in Texas when he was in high school, so very analytical and mathematical. I grew up with both of those worlds, and I, you know, became very passionate about business because it really kind of combines those two worlds. You've got the vision of what you want to accomplish, what you want to give to society. And then you've gotta have the numbers in the actual physical piece that backs that up. So I really relate with business owners. And that's really what got me excited about working in the financial industry with business owners. You know, I started in that, and I've been in ever since.

Richard Boone:   2:29
You know, I don't hear the word slide rule or phrase slide rule very often. It's something. I mean, I guess I'm dating myself. But I remember using one when I was a kid. Yeah, kind of a precursor to the old, you know, the calculators. Yeah, that's fantastic. So tell me a little something about you know, the kinds of clients that you work with. I know you position yourself in a certain ways, maybe take us through how you position yourself, which effects clients and that you serve and how you work with them.

Michael Sayre:   2:59
Sure. So what we do is we create the bigger picture for business owners and executives to simplify and connect their personal and professional lives. So what that means is you've got the company and you've got the personal assets and you've got the retirement plan. You've got all of these different pieces of the financial puzzle, and for most people it's pretty simple to gather everything together. But that business adds another dimension to the planning that's required for business owners. And there's a lot of advisors that don't really specialize in that or in the 401k side of things, right? Really understanding the nitty gritty in the nuts and bolts of how 401ks and other retirement plans work.

Richard Boone:   3:40
If you think about your business, I know you work with individuals as well, but where's most of your business is it mainly on the corporate side, you know, the 401k and so forth, benefits or is it, you know, 50/50? I mean, where's the main thrust of your business model?

Michael Sayre:   3:56
You know, most of my business is 401k and company retirement plans, you know, 70% is in that retirement plan realm and the other 30% is almost exclusively business owners and executives.

Richard Boone:   4:09
Well tell us a little bit about how did you actually get to this point in terms of positioning I mean, I know what you mentioned is all about trying to bridge this gap, if you will, and you're helping to optimize things for people. But what steps did you go through to really figure out this is your model, right? This is your market that you wanted to go after.

Michael Sayre:   4:29
You know, it's interesting because I don't think I ever thought Hey, I just want to work with business owners. It just kind of happened as I was drawn to that industry or into that realm of planning. From the get go, almost everyone that I reached out to and tried to bring in as clients were business owners. And what I've done in the last year is I really took a step back and tried to figure out what is my client base. And why're they my client base? And how did we get to this point? In order to do that, you know, I really had to drill down and sit down with the clients that I have and ask them some questions as to you know, what are things that they expect in an advisor? What are they looking for? Why did they see it as a good idea for us to work together? And by kind of piecing that together, I was able to get a better understanding an idea of what that ideal client is and who I should really be branding and putting the message together for.

Richard Boone:   5:28
Yeah, And I recall you were working on the interviewing of these clients. How many people do you think you actually interviewed before you felt like you kind of had it nailed down in terms of how to talk about yourself in your business.

Michael Sayre:   5:41
You know, it's interesting because I interviewed quite a few, but I feel like after just sitting down with a couple clients, I started to see some patterns and some commonalities in what kind of clients I was working with and what they were looking for.

Richard Boone:   5:56
So they shared quite a bit insights pretty quickly then.

Michael Sayre:   5:59
Yeah, it started to kind of piece together really quickly.

Richard Boone:   6:03
Well, that wouldn't be uncommon.   I've worked with a number of advisors who have gone through the same process, and sometimes it only takes three or four interviews. Sometimes it takes a little more, but I think one of the biggest takeaways is that this is like any big corporation in America, right? Any big corporation has to ask their clients what are they doing well, what are they not doing well, and what else do you want? It's kind of funny how I think a lot of financial advisors maybe overlooked that.  Would you agree?

Michael Sayre:   6:31
Absolutely. I think you know it's interesting because I feel like people, at least in my experience, you think clients are working with you for a specific reason.  And then, you know, as you start to talk to clients, you realize that some of that may be true but there may be other reasons that you didn't really think about, or additional pieces to the puzzle that just aren't sitting there that are obvious.

Richard Boone:   6:56
Yeah, things that might not have been so obvious. But by interviewing these people, you're learning about them and you're pulling out some information that you might be able to act upon. So you interviewed these clients. You picked up a lot of insights. They gave you some ideas about what else you could do to serve them. So my question is simply, how did you use that information to affect your brand and even your deliverables, and then ultimately, how does that compare you then to the rest of your competition?

Michael Sayre:   7:26
Yeah, great questions. You know, it's it's interesting because when you take a step back, you can see a lot of similar messages that are not really distinct. And I think it's important to get a feel for what your clients are thinking and how they perceive your business, what values they're looking for in an adviser, because then you can really tailor the message that you have to those people who are gonna benefit the most from your expertise or your experience. This is all important because the types of messages that you're putting out in the market - how are those distinct? How are those different from the competition? I mean, there's a lot of great advisors out there, but I guess what I've noticed is I don't want to, I don't want to be the guy that "I can do just about anything under the sun".  Any advisor can say they're comprehensive and they care about their clients and everything. But really, what makes you different? What makes you unique from other from the competition? Once you've got that message, it's something that you can communicate in in all the different marketing and advertising mediums you're using.

Richard Boone:   8:32
So when you think about how that compares to, say, a competitor, how do you think that allows you to stack up to your competition?

Michael Sayre:   8:40
A lot of times, people think that if you have this long list of things that you can do, someone's gonna land and hit one of those bullet points, so to speak.  By cutting it down to really, what are the types of clients? What are the types of services they're looking for, it really does make a big difference. 

:   9:12

Richard Boone:   9:14
So let's change gears a little bit, Michael. Let's talk about how you're getting your message out to the world, right? How you've attracting new clients? Are you active in your community? You share some stuff with me privately regarding your activities and some of the relationships you have with other professionals. So in some ways this is kind of a broad brush of your marketing, But tell me a little bit about that. What are you doing and what's really working for you?

Michael Sayre:   9:40
There's a lot of things I do to market. I have a website, I have Linked In. I have some specific things that I hand out to clients, but I've realized that there's there's a handful of things that really hit the mark more than others.

Richard Boone:   9:51
Maybe give us some examples of which one they're working best for you.

Michael Sayre:   9:54
Sure. So one of the things I use almost every single appointment - I have one pager that talks about what my process is. And it's a good differentiator - a lot of people don't see that. And then on the other side, it goes through how I service those specific clients. It just makes it very clear to them what the bigger picture is. And it also keeps me on track. I can, you know me, I can blabber on a little bit sometimes But it just makes, makes things simple and concise. I can say, Hey, if we consider working together, this is what we would be doing to see if that relationship really makes sense for us to engage in. If we decide to work together, you know, you flip it on the back, and you can see these are the things that I am doing to differentiate myself and to make sure you guys are taking care of.

Richard Boone:   10:45
So, Michael, I know you're very active attracting new clients. I mean, you're kind of a machine. So I wanted to find out for the benefit of our listeners, you know, what are you doing? Right? How you reaching out to new prospective clients?

Michael Sayre:   10:58
Yeah, that's a great question. Let's separate the retirement plan clients from the individual clients for just a second. For a retirement plan a lot of the information is already public and out there so I can get a feel for who might be a good client. But what kind of separates that is the other marketing efforts that I do. For example, I do a lot of education meetings, and I do a lot of CE courses, things like that. When decision makers for companies come to those types of education meetings that's one way that I separate who is a good potential client versus not a good potential client, because that's one of those things that shows that they may be a good fit if they're actively seeking out trying to be a part of those types of things.

Richard Boone:   11:44
You're attracting these folks, they're coming to you because you're providing education. You provide some content for them. So you're engaging with them in a way that's very substantive. So what's the biggest takeaway? I mean, if you're a financial advisor, listening to this podcast, what is something that they could essentially duplicate? That you're do that you think is very powerful, that's worked for you.

Michael Sayre:   12:05
Kind of summing everything up. Getting a feel for the clients. Getting a feel for what, what they're looking for. Taking a look at your current book of business. But then really trying to find those things that you can do that kind of separate those prospective clients from those who might actually be interested in moving for or moving the dial in some form or fashion. I've said we've done a ton of different things were done golf tournaments. We've done education meetings. We've done events, all kinds of things. By going back and listening to how the clients and prospective clients respond to those types of things and connecting the dots and evaluating what is working and what's actually separating the tire kickers, so to speak, from the people who are actually interested in moving the dial.

Richard Boone:   12:52
When you think about how often somebody might come to you, has been approached, maybe by a center of influence, another advisor, another client, another someone, in other words, how big of a deal is introductions and referrals for you?

Michael Sayre:   13:08
So referrals from centers of influence is extremely important. But you got to make a distinction. There's a lot of people who are used to Hey, you give me a referral and then I'll give you a referral and, you know, we'll just kind of If you give me one, I'll give you one. But really, that does, that's a big disservice to, to the clients and to the referral partner. In order to really make a good referral partner relationship, you gotta understand each other's business. You've got to know if it's even a good match in the first place for you guys to be working together and trying to connect up and make high quality introductions.

Richard Boone:   13:43
That's an excellent point Michael. That is amazing. There's so many advisors and I think just kind of go through life, just thinking if I could just get a quid pro quo exchange of referrals. But you mentioned that it's more important that you guys really understand each other's business. So take me through that. How did you reach out? I know you've been doing something for CPAs attorneys and with third party administrators and so forth. So tell me about that. I think our listeners would love to hear how you reached out to these people. How did you have a conversation with them? And how did it perhaps become this real understanding between the businesses?

Michael Sayre:   14:20
Yeah, great question. I think you know, in the years that I've been in the business, you come across a lot of professionals and a lot of times you kind of skim the surface in the relationship. You don't get into the actual meat and potatoes or the nitty gritty of the business. So what I've had to do to really strengthen those types of relationships is start asking the questions about How did you get started? You know? What do you like about this industry? What motivates you? What type of clients are you working with? And when you find niches that overlap, you can see that there that's gonna be the best service to the client when you know that, hey, this center of influence, they're not, it's not just a CPA,  that just, you know, checks the box. But they understand this specific type of business, this specific type of demographic, and then you can really have a value add to your client but also strengthen those relationships with those centers of influence.

Richard Boone:   15:20
So let's assume that you meet with these people, these third party administrators or CPA. And you're going through these questions. How are you capturing that information, and then what do you do with it once you have it?

Michael Sayre:   15:32
I want to make sure that relationship is going to be worth everyone's time and that it's really gonna make sense for us to continue down that path. So I like to ask a lot of questions and get a good sense of where that professional is at. And then I put it on a mind map, organized that thought process from the conversation and then go back to that professional and kind of refine my understanding of how they do business. Make sure that I understand it. If I don't have a good grasp on it then how am I supposed to know if they're a good fit for the clients I'm working with? And if they don't understand that I am serious about the type of people I refer my clients, too. They're not gonna want to go deeper into our relationship and look into my business.

Richard Boone:   16:20
That's really profound. You know, it reminds me you told me about this probably maybe around October, November time frame, maybe it was a little bit later. But you had met with a CPA, and we won't use names, you know, in fairness to our listeners and to everyone involved. But I believe you told me that a client made that introduction. And that was really the only reason that that CPA would meet with you. Take us through that process because I think there's a big point here to be made.

Michael Sayre:   16:51
Yeah. So let me just say this. I think as you're trying to understand what types of clients you're working with, and understanding what values they have and what they're looking for in the advisor, kind of going back to understanding your client. There's a lot of opportunity to to see what other professionals are they working with? What are the the types of professionals? A lot of times, you know you'll see some common people because that's their niche. You know, you'll see a CPA working with, ah whole bunch of businesses say in the construction industry. And it's a great opportunity for you to find someone who specializes in that same type of market you're working with. It's also a great opportunity to really see how the client sees their current professionals that they're working with.  As you're interviewing your clients and you get an understanding of what professionals they're working with, obviously, when you're talking about planning, you know you talk about those different professionals, but sometimes you don't really see on the surface how shallow or deep those relationships are and how much is brought to the table to those clients. That being said, there could be some great opportunities to make other introductions to professionals that you have vetted and that you know may be a strong fit or a good fit to those clients. On the other side of the spectrum, if you find out that the professional they're using is really on the ball. You want to be referring and doing business with the best of the best, as far as professionals go. And what better way than than hearing that from the mouth of your clients?

Richard Boone:   18:28
So Michael, that's a great point, and it's a heck of a segue. You talked about your process, essentially working with a new prospective client. Take a moment. If you wouldn't describe how you actually do process in that new prospective client. What are the steps? What do you do with them so that they understand that you can or cannot, right, be their perfect financial advisor.

Michael Sayre:   18:50
On day one, the first time I meet up with them, I review our process, and part of that process is showing that, hey, we know a lot of great professionals that are important to different pieces of this financial topic, and we can help manage those relationships and bring in introductions to those who may be able to take care of a need. But before we actually get to that point, you know, we go through the same type of process that I described for the centers of influence. You know, we we got to know what's important to the client. What's going on in their current life. Map that out so we have a clear, high level picture of what's going on in their life. Once we've got that, we can have a much deeper discussion on how those professionals are taking care of those specific pieces of the puzzle that kind of overlap in the planning process. And once we get to that point, then we can come back to the question of how are these relationships doing? Do you need introductions to other professionals that can help in these areas? Or are these really solid and taken care of? And if they're solid and they're they're doing what they need to be doing that I want to know those professionals and I want to reach out and see if if we're going in the same direction or not.

Richard Boone:   20:09
Great. Now that's exactly what I was curious about because you know, you and I have been working together for a while. We've talked a lot about process over the months that we've been doing this and you've really taken to it like a duck to water. It's not that you didn't have process before you did, but having clarity, having clarity of exactly how to work with somebody in terms of the deliverable. So let's change gears a little bit again. Michael, in general, do your prospects and your clients really understand and appreciate your process? Could they even describe it? Are they able to remember it? Are they able to communicate it?

Michael Sayre:   20:46
I sure hope so, honestly! But at the end of the day, the actions that you take and what you actually do for your clients should speak louder than a whole bunch of well thought out words. Obviously, that's important. The wording of how you do things and what your process is there to anchor, how you run your business.

Richard Boone:   21:09
So tell me about your process in terms of how does that really affect your brand or your marketing? Or was it more the other way around?

Michael Sayre:   21:16
It's affected both as I've made change. And I think what it is, is it's just people like to see clarity and they want to see organization. They want to see that you're not just pulling something out off the top of your head and tossing out some kind of recommendation because that's the thing that you sell or the product or the service or what not that you're just bringing to the table every single time. I think the process, solidify the actions that you're taking. It helps people understand and bring clarity. And I think this is a trust industry. This is an industry where people are making life changing decisions on what they should be doing with their finances. One thing that helps foster that trust is showing very plain and simple how you do things, what makes you different. 

Richard Boone:   22:07
So Michael is we start to wrap up, I mean, we've talked about branding, we talked about some of your marketing activities and kinds of clients who like to serve. We've talked about the other professionals. These, you know, what you might call complementary services right, some of these other professionals that work the same marketplace that you do. We've even talked about your process and how important it is. So what is some of the final thoughts, if you will, the takeaways for listening audience of this podcast that they could use that would help them to solidify, perhaps, any decision making of their own?

Michael Sayre:   22:40
Yeah, that's a great question. I think one of the main takeaways is there's a lot of very generic advisers out there. What separates you from the neighbor across the street, or or the person that they meet in the supermarket, or or, you know, frankly, a Google search? A lot of what that comes down to is what drives you. What is important to you. What really got you into that niche. Like for me - I've always been an entrepreneur. I've always loved business. I started businesses when I was a little kid. In college I had a business that helped pay for my college. I really relate with entrepreneurs, and that's really one of the things that that has driven me into really wanting business owners and entrepreneurs to be successful. You need to find, once again what drives you that's influenced the way that you service your client to bring that message out to the masses, on how that makes you different on why you focus on what you're focusing on.

Richard Boone:   23:45
Well, I'm really glad that you shared all this with Michael. I'm sure our listeners are taking away some ideas about how they need to get focused. But also to some degree get centered. Right? A lot of what you shared with us is about your own passion for the business owner community. Having been a business owner, being an entrepreneur, having that right brain and left brain. You know, with your mother's side being the artist side and your father being the you know, the academic. Clearly, the average financial advisor has a lot of talent, but they need to tap into their motivation. What did they really like? What do they really want to do? And that's what's has to come across to their prospective clients. And you've done that I think very well. Well, let's go ahead and wrap up. And I wanted to get your contact information out there. So how would somebody get ahold of you? What's the best way?

Michael Sayre:   24:37
You know, you can visit our website, or if you search CUI wealth management in a search engine, you'll - you know we're in Salt Lake. That's how to contact us.

Richard Boone:   24:50
And let me add to that, that Michael has his office at 5965 SOUTH 900 EAST SUITE 150 Salt Lake City, UT and he can be reached at 801-505-0548.  Well, that's it for today. I'd like to thank everyone for attending this episode of the IDEAL Plans Ideal Advisors Podcast. I'm your host, Richard Boone. If you have any questions at all about how to reach Michael or if you have some thoughts about how we might be able to help you here in our coaching to find your message, to find your niche, and to find your process, we'd certainly be able to help you. Just give us a call at 800-630-1590. Or you can email me at  Again, the website is Thank you very much for listening. Goodbye.