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NAIFA Members Provide Financial Independence

Martha UnderwoodMartha Underwood has been in the technology space for over 25 years and is skilled at successfully managing large-scale digital transformation initiatives. Co-founder of Prismm, a platform that allows you to securely store important documents, Martha focuses on executive advancement without compromising integrity or authenticity. She is a recognized speaker on the topic of women leading in technology and innovation within the business marketplace. 

Shella SyllaShella Sylla is the Chief Operating Officer at Prismm. With over 20 years of experience in commercial banking, commercial real estate financing, and portfolio management, she is skilled at networking and building strategic brand relationships. Before her work with Prismm, she was the Founder and CEO of SisterGolf, where she helped improve women’s confidence and accelerated their career development using golf as an ally. 


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Martha Underwood and Shella Sylla talk about launching a system to organize important documents
  • How to centralize your assets for ease of access 
  • What working as a sibling team is like for Martha and Shella
  • Why mentorship in an organization is pivotal and critical for growth
  • Shella explains the importance of educating communities in insurance and financial planning
  • Martha shares how through observation you can gain experience
  • Marketing message: how can you be prepared?
  • Shifting the conversation toward life insurance policies

In this episode…

When the unexpected occurs, how can you access important information and be prepared for end-of-life care? Locating life planning documents shouldn’t be a challenge — especially during a crisis — but it is for many people. What resources are available for individuals and families who need to organize their documents? 

As an advisor, empowering and educating clients with information to make the best choices is pertinent. Martha Underwood and Shella Sylla have been in a crisis without the ability to access important documents, which is why they created Prismm, a resource to assist families in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Organizing and compiling important documents and consent forms onto a singular platform helps all parties involved during end-of-life transition. 

In this episode of Advisor Today, Chris Gandy and Suzanne Carawan sit down with Martha Underwood and Shella Sylla of Prismm to talk about securely storing end-of-life documents. Martha and Shella discuss centralizing documents, the wealth gap and education between cultures, and familiarizing advisors in end-of-life conversations.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by Illinois Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Illinois Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Illinois Mutual Life Insurance Company, based in Peoria, Illinois, has been a provider of insurance and financial solutions for 110 years. Ours is a family business: not only have we been a family-operated company since our beginnings, but we see our policyowners, our agents, and our employees as family—individuals connected by a passion for helping others and a respect for the uniqueness of each other’s lives.

We are a mutual company. This means our goal isn’t to make money for shareholders, but to ensure our assets are managed for the direct benefit of our policyowners—we maintain high expectations for financial strength so that we can confidently support our policyowners when they need us most. The values by which we operate are rooted in this belief that our priority is, always has been, and always will be the people we serve.

Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:02

Welcome to NAIFA's Advisor Today podcast series where we focus on how financial advisors work, live and give to their local communities and our greater financial services industry. Now, let's get started with the show.

Chris Gandy 0:20

Hi, everyone, this is Chris Gandy, your co host for Advisor Today podcast where we feature the top leaders in insurance and financial services. I'm here with our wonderful one, my wonderful co host, Suzanne Carawan. Hi, Suzanne. Hey, Chris. Great to be here. Thank you for being here. today. We've got wonderful guests, then we'll introduce them in a minute. But just to recap on on what this podcast is predominantly based on our past guests have been gentlemen, like Ike Trotter, Joe Templin, Brian Ashe and Bryan Holz. And you can watch and listen to those podcasts on demands that are archived online on your favorite podcast channel by visiting NAIFA.org. Please subscribe to the podcast, so you don't miss a single superstar. With that being said, Suzanne, do we have a sponsor for today?

Suzanne Carawan 1:12

We sure do. Chris today's episode of advisor today is brought to you by Illinois Mutual. And for NAIFA members. You should have seen a recent email in your inbox outlining how Illinois Mutual's disability income insurance coverage has actually been expanded to cover even more occupations such as bartenders, photographers, and social media influencers. So if you're looking for a product and you're thought, Ah, those gig economy, economy workers, those entrepreneurs, we can't find them a DI product, we can look no further than Illinois mutual because they can hook you up with that. So Illinois Mutual is helping more Main Street Americans get the income protection they need. If you want more information, contact sales@IllinoisMutual.com. And mentioned you heard about this innovative di product on today's podcast. Back to you, Chris.

Chris Gandy 1:55

Wonderful, thank you very much. Now, we get a chance to meet our wonderful guests. But before doing so we want to thank Carol Golden for introducing us to our to our guests today. Our guests today are Martha Underwood, and Shella Sylla don't want to mess her name up. I was corrected earlier, who was take who has taken on providing solutions for individuals to use. And for advisors to better understand end of life issues. Martha and Shella are sisters. Martha comes from the banking software background and Shella comes from the banking real estate background. Shella also started a company called Sisters Golf with no further ado, let's welcome round of applause for our guests. For Martha and Shella Welcome, ladies.

Martha Underwood 2:45

We're happy to be here. Thank

Shella Sylla 2:46


Chris Gandy 2:47

thank you for being here. You know, we're on the precipice of of having what I would call a new personalities and new new faces on on on the podcast and and many of the NAIFA members may not know who you are. So question I mentioned end of life care. So, one, what got you started on that business? And two? Why is end of life care so important?

Martha Underwood 3:18

So sure, what started us that a start it was our parents, right? So our parents are 82 and 83. Now, back in 2017, when Hurricane Irma hit Florida, my dad thought it was a good idea to help his neighbors cut a tree off the roof and he fell off the roof and went unconscious. And there's always one person or two people in this case that a family member calls and that's myself and show up. We recalled my mom was frantic. We live in Birmingham, Alabama. They live in Miami, Florida. I know that my dad does not take blood. I know that he has issues with anesthesia. And he was unconscious. And so I said I couldn't get there. So how do I get access to his information? What if the worst happened? What if he passed you have access to his life insurance policy? Do I know where the will is? Why know where any of this information is? And I said no, I didn't. And because I'm a techie and I've been in technology over 25 years, I created a solution so that I can access their information anywhere.

Chris Gandy 4:27

And so, let me let me ask you a question. That's how you got started. Yep. So so give us for those who you know, we're advisors and you know, we're talking about wealth accumulation and wealth preservation and asset protection and insurance you know, insurance structures and life insurance. But why is end of life care so specific because it's a little different, right? It's, it's it's people aren't gone or no longer with us. US, but they're there, their quality of life is super important. So share with us a little bit, give us some ideas of why end of life care is so pertinent and then ultimately, why we need

Shella Sylla 5:12

to pay attention to it? Well, we feel like it's very important because when something happens unexpectedly, a lot of times you are so engulfed in the grief that you don't have the frame of mind to really sort of, you know, cultivate or think of where are those important documents stored? And where can we put our hands on it, and what was those person's wishes and after they're gone, it's too late, or if they're incapacitated, or if they're not, in a position to give you direction, you needed to kind of know that ahead of time. So taking care of the business of it ahead of time is critically important. And so many people don't think about that. And specifically, in our situation, because we are remote, like Martha said, neither one of us had the capability to necessarily fly down to Miami, and you know, be hands on we while we did have siblings there, like she said, you know, being the point person, even if those documents were already handled, or have we had a system in place, they could have been in a safe deposit box, but who has that extra t to the safe deposit box and who has instruction and access to go ahead and get those documents when they were needed. So most people don't think about that.

Martha Underwood 6:33

And when it comes to financial advisors, it's important because a lot of financial advisors are now looking at life planning, you know that financial advisors are there to help you grow your wealth. And I know for me, and one of the things we asked, my mom was like, Okay, where's the money, who's the financial advisor, do they have access to some of this information. And typically, they they don't, I know, mine didn't. And so this was critical for me to say, You know what, I need to close the gap here, because I know for my sons, they're going to need to be able to contact my financial advisor, to see where the dollars are, where the wealth that I've grown, that that goes over to them, but other accounts. And that's the beauty of Prismm is because we allow you to invite financial advisors to the account, so that they can see everything too, they can see your documents, they can see your real estate assets, they can see where your financial, your day to day financial bank accounts are, is because I know like, again, with me, I had my investment accounts, but my financial advisor didn't necessarily see like my day to day. And so because I had several different other bank accounts, and now that centralizes it, I give that to them. And now they have a holistic view of what what's there, and what needs to be passed on to my ears.

Shella Sylla 7:45

And what that really boils down to to Chris, is consent, because you want to give the consent before it's too late. So once you have established that and put that in place, then now you have consent to have access to those critical documents.

Chris Gandy 8:01

Got it? So so I'm just gonna use my situation, for example. So I have a durable power of attorney for health and financial reasons. And I have a trust, and I have it, but I have a son who's 22. Everybody knows, you know, I'm not leaving significant wealth to my son and 22. He may not know how to act, right? I mean, I'm just just Mikey and maybe it's just me, right. So my point in saying that is that there's a place where your platform allows for us to see holistically all the documents, all the stuff right in one place. So we don't have to go, like you said, hunting down and looking for where everything's buried, or, you know, if mom has, you know, an account back from 20 years ago, she doesn't even know, she knows there's money in there. But she never got to take money out and don't know how to actually do you know, do all the fun stuff that then our parents don't teach us and their intent is good. But their actions and their intent aren't necessarily aligned. Right. And so your platform allows for that alignment to happen is that

Martha Underwood 9:11

that's exactly that's exactly it. Because I like to say we are doing all the right days, we have our 401k is we have our life insurance policy, we may have a will, but we're missing that last step of letting people know where it is. And so one of the challenges I know with my parents are and sometimes boomers and older folks is they value their privacy. They're like you're gonna have access to all of this information. I don't want you to see this. I don't want you to ask me for a loan, right? And so in thinking of that when we built this, we built in privacy so you can allow you can pretty much say I want this person to see this now. Or I don't want them to see anything until I transition life we have a transition or triggering button in the button in the in the platform that says If something happened to to the subscriber, I click it. Now I can see everything if the subscriber said, I don't want you to see anything. So we preserve that. We preserve that privacy.

Chris Gandy 10:12

Anonymity is super important. Talk to me about the business itself. You guys started the business sisters. So. So what are some of the what are some of the great things about being in business? Who has a siblings? Right? And what are some of the chat let's call it obstacles or challenges with being an if I know you two are sitting next to each other. So so let me let me let me ask that because naturally, I would like to go in business with with my family, right, my son, my brother, my sister, if possible, what did you guys do to say, You know what, we're going to build this? Well, let me start with the first question is, as sisters how as being in business with each other? Ben? I'll start.

Shella Sylla 10:57

The good thing about it is because we're sisters, and we know each other so well, when challenges arise, or, you know, emotions are high, or there might be differences. We don't take it personally. So Martha just goes, Okay, Shella's just cranky. I'm just gonna, you know, I'm not even gonna let that bother me. And we'll just get right back to the business of things. We don't take anything personally, our goals are aligned, we know that we're, you know, we want to end up in the same place. And at the end of the day, we are hug it out. And we're done. And we keep going. And so there is no animosity. I mean, we have differences, we bump heads, but we brush it off, and we can keep going because we understand each other's personality. And we have a lot of that we think a lot of in the same way on a lot of things. But we also bring fresh, new perspectives. And she knows that because I'm her sister, I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to always give her the real. So she knows that she can come to me and even if it's not what she wants to hear, she can receive it from me because she knows that is coming from a genuine place. Sure. Sure. Sure.

Suzanne Carawan 12:13

Oh, timesaver. Actually, that's a really good point. Right? You can cut through a lot of time a sensitivity, just give it just, yes. Bottom line it? Yeah.

Chris Gandy 12:25

So let's let's rewind the tape. milestones that you have you and business together now? What are your what's your biggest milestones for yourself and your company? As you've you've you know, if you look back, what are some of the milestones are the biggest accomplishments that you guys would say that you've done so far?

Martha Underwood 12:46

So a couple of milestones. One, we have signed an enterprise level client, which is a local financial advising firm here that we're onboarding right now, we another milestone is we were about to integrate into the tax records to be able to pull that information in. So real estate assets will be able to automatically pull that in. And then another milestone is we just partnered with Dr. Malik Yoba, award winning actor to help amplify this because he has a personal connection to this, since his mother passed the dementia, and he experiences this problem firsthand. And so we just announced that and that that's the third milestone. So I think we're just pressing forward, we're looking forward to building the app that should be out later this this year, because right now you can you can access it on your your phone through our progressive website, but it's not a native app. So we'll be launching that. And so those are the top milestones that we're we're very excited about.

Chris Gandy 13:52

So was there a in that largest office that everybody goes through, like challenges when running a business and and as you kind of look back? What's the hardest thing that the two of you had to overcome with the business itself?

Martha Underwood 14:12

Um, the hardest thing for me is is is the selling piece because again, I'm a tech executive. I've been on the tech side and I've done that but jumping and saying, I am going to leave that leave corporate America and focus on building this business is honing in on my sales skill set. Doing it for yourself as a business owner is very different from doing it in a big corporation where you have all of the support needed. So I think that that was the biggest challenge is, is really learning what my message is crafting that message. And then deploying and being out there and setting up my meetings, you know, pipeline of business and going out there and talking to folks. I think for me, that was my biggest shot, which

Shella Sylla 14:58

I think that's where we come complement each other best. Because from my banking experience, I've kind of always been on that sales side. And so the tech side have been more challenging for me. So her background is in tech banking. And my background is more on operations and sales banking. So the edge so where she falls short, I can sort of fill in the gaps and vice versa.

Suzanne Carawan 15:24

Well, and the good thing is both you just join NAIFA. So your true members now and you have 20,000 other brothers and sisters out there who are ready to help you at any time with any sales techniques prospecting, because we're the experts.

Chris Gandy 15:39

Welcome, welcome. Welcome to welcome to NAIFA. You know, we we are an inclusive organization that really is, is really proud of our efforts to you know, we are on as I mentioned, that we are, everybody knows that we are playing this during Black History Month. So we're super excited about having diverse professionals, specifically, minority and African American business owners as women. I mean, you guys are the 1% of the 1% of the 1%. I mean, we've we've checked a lot of boxes, Suzanne. So let's, let's, let's, let's, let's, let's ask some questions, specifically, as we talked about careers, mentors, how important is mentors in the world of business, right? From your perspective, what are some of the, you know, experiences you the two of you have had with mentors,

Martha Underwood 16:36

and it's so critical to have a mentor. Um, so I started my career with IBM right out of college, and I was fortunate to have my first manager be my mentor. And he was able to highlight the pitfalls before I stepped into them. And then the other benefit is having Shella go before me, and, and be my mentor. Because there are times when I might be sitting in a tech meeting. And again, being a black woman in tech, I'm typically the only one in the room with a whole bunch of men, and I might serve up my idea about a product or feature. And it gets back down and someone else says it, and it gets adopted. And I'm sitting there frustrated and wanting to cry, and I walk out and I call Shella. And she talks me through it, and mentors me through it, because she's been in commercial banking, and she's been there before. That's what my first manager was able to do for me. And that's what Shella was able to do for me. So it's like, they guide you through some of the difficult times in in your corporate career, that gives you the energy to keep going and not and not give up and say, Hey, this is just too hard. And that and that was that was the beauty of having Shella and having the beauty of having my first manager, Dale and it's critical to be mentored. So I give back as a mentor myself, okay?

Shella Sylla 17:57

Same I agree with her. Mentorship is super important. I was fortunate enough that when I was coming up in banking, that I was able to be a part of an organization called National Association of urban bankers. That Association no longer exists, or they've taken on a new name and gone in a new direction. But being in corporate America, specifically corporate banking, very heavily male dominated in Miami, Florida, no one else said looks like me in the leadership roles that I was in, I didn't have a Joe Jackson that I can call on and say, you know, um, can you mentor me, so that organization was pivotal and critical for me to lean on. Because in that organization were other people that look like me that had climbed the ladder, in banking, and had had various roles that I can reach out to, and they can give me guidance and direction. So having that was very helpful. And like, Martha, I also give back by mentoring those that are coming after me.

Chris Gandy 18:58

Well, thank both of you for the mentoring for giving back, you know, you give back party, your money, your time and your energy and your effort, right. And the thing that we cannot forget, is that you're giving back and you're leading others through the work that you're doing. And, you know, they you never know who's watching. So, with that being said, let's talk a little bit about daily rituals, I mean, on a day to day basis. Tell me so what are some of the things you do on a if there's young professional professionals out there that are trying to really find some I want to be like them? What like, share with them stand up stand, they gotta fake it before they make what are some of the things that you do on a daily basis that are absolutes? Whether you feel like it or not, right? What are some of the things that the two of you do to keep yourself not only on task and motivated but also Oh, moving the business forward.

Martha Underwood 20:03

So I can start, one of the things I do is I workout that gives me the energy in the morning. And I know shell is gonna say, Yes, shell typically beats beats me to the gym and I go to my trainer, she's there at five, I get my two boys off to school because I think that that's important. And I'm there by seven, that it helps me focus. Because one, I need to take care of myself first before I can take care of the business. The other thing that I do is I'm an avid learner. So I'm going to listen to a podcast to see if there's, you know, anything I like to listen to Lewis Howes, I like to listen to Tim Ferriss, those are some of our top twos that I listen to, to just get me motivated for the day. And then the next thing I'll do is, I will check my emails, I try to deal with a lot of the administrative things first, like responding to emails first, before I scheduled any of the meetings that I need. And so that just kind of frames my day, on what tasks that I need to complete. And then who do I need to speak to, that's kind of the ritual that I go into, I try to start my day, at around three. Because again, for me, family is very important. That's when my boys get home from school, they get off the bus, we talk about their day, I spend time with them either at the football field or the baseball park. And then I might, you know, spend time with my husband, and then I'll just kind of check in the evening, what's the next thing, but I think as business owners and entrepreneurs, sometimes we get so caught up in the business side, even though we're building it from our family, we neglect our family. And so for me, I make sure that I don't neglect the family. And it took me some time to get there. But that's critical, because you don't want to get to the mountaintop, so to speak, and then you have no one to share it with. So those are the things that you know, I definitely are non negotiables for me.

Chris Gandy 21:56

So I heard that heard working out is your thing, and you beat her there. But what about you, I know you guys have are in different places in your life. So what about you,

Shella Sylla 22:04

I'm similar with the morning routine, I'll start out with an early morning workout and sort of do listen to some sort of self improvement, like Martha or do some reading in the morning before I actually get the day started. So I try to schedule my day. And as you mentioned, I also have a company called Sister Golf. So I'm also sort of planning those events, what we do is we teach women business professionals how to use golf as a way to network get visibility, and access in proximity to decision makers so that they can move their careers forward or get more revenue for their respective businesses. So I'm usually working on scheduling the next half day workshop for a business, or scheduling the next one on one, were actually playing a round with a client and teaching them what it feels like to play in a company, or charities scramble. And so after I get that, sort of out of the way, I'm next really kind of looking at which meetings we can set up and who we can get in front of since we are deep in the throes of fundraising mode now. So I'm going through my network and trying to build and make those connections. And then, at the end of the day, sort of, I have a checklist of different buckets that I want to hit. Okay, so did I do something from a health standpoint? Did I do something from a self development standpoint? Did I do something? Personally? Did I do anything for the business? So if I hit like three out of four, then did I win today? So on the personal side, okay, did you call your mom today? Or did you check in with someone from a family standpoint, and not every day, you're gonna hit all of them, but the goal is to hit 80% of them, you know, for the majority of the time, and then you do that from a week to week basis from a month to month basis, and you look back over 12 months. And if you feel like you've done it pretty consistently for 80% of the time, then you end up with a pretty good year at the end

Chris Gandy 24:18

of it all. Yeah, one of my mentors, I'll share with you kind of a simple, something small, he said become one preferred 1% better every day in every way. So personally, professionally and financially, like if you 1% Right, if you do that math, you're 1% better every day you put in time. And again, it's about it's about progress, not perfection, right? I think we all seek that perfection, especially from advisors, but you have a captive audience right. You have you have 30,000 members that are potential like minded individuals that would like to see your business grow and can utilize your services potential investors, so you know, make make sure that you guys stay involved and Make sure you're involved in a couple of the programs. I'm going to spin on. I'm gonna talk a little personal stuff, but I want to spend on Dei. I'm the chair of NAIFA as the AI program. And, you know, we're always looking for Super guest and unique, what I would call progressive and thoughtful and purposeful individuals who are doing some of the right work on purpose. Dei, for the two of you, what does it mean for you? And then, from your perspective, how can the insurance and financial advisors encompass more D AI initiatives? So we'll start with you this time. Okay. So

Shella Sylla 25:49

I feel like DEI is important. Specifically in this industry, you don't see a whole lot of people that look like us. So it's important for us to get more advisors from the financial side, in front of people that that are black and brown, and teach them the importance and how necessary it is for them to have some sort of financial plan or insurance plan. Because too many times, you know, we see someone passes away, and then now they're doing a GoFundMe, and because they're caught unprepared, and they aren't taught the importance of putting these items in place before they're needed. So I think that it's really, in when it's that education is coming from someone that doesn't look like them. A lot of times our community feels like, okay, that's something that they do. And that's not something that we do. So if we have more people in place that look like us spreading that message and showing the importance of this, I think that will in fact, take us a long way.

Martha Underwood 26:54

Yeah, same I mean, di is critical. I do work in di and I'm going to talk a little bit about a tech but I'm going to come back to Charlotte, I chair, this organization called innovate Birmingham, to ensure more black and brown people are developers and engineers to build that pipeline. I think that's it, it's about education, we start with education, I think that that model works very well. And we get people get students from high school level interested in it, I think that's the same thing with the insurance and the financial planning space is help is educating them first. Because a lot of people just don't know, like, what does a financial advisor do? Right? And why should I be an insurance agent, as they think about it from a car or, you know, perspective or home, but from a life insurance term whole? Like, how are these things important? And why are they important to me. So I think it starts with education. And if as, as organizations create some of these cohorts and put out the information to them, then we can entice more black and brown people to choose that as their careers, which will then help a lot more, you know, from a community perspective, because now more people will be educated and say, I'm going to get a financial advisor that can guide me and help me build wealth that I can pass on to my heirs.

Chris Gandy 28:13

Well, there was, there was a study done about the wealth gap, about 10 years ago, they talked Forbes talked about the wealth gap between between cultures, and it was turned out it was $100 to every $5. Right. And so there is a significant wealth divide between specific during from certain cultures. And so bridging that gap, being in the space where I'm hand to hand combat dealing with what I would call the old folks, the old school folks, and trying to get them to understand the idea that it's, we have to go back and re educate, right, we have to go back and tear down some of the some of the some of the biases, right and go out and re educate. Because we perhaps didn't learn wealth, the way in which some of some of the other communities did. So we have to go back. And we have to re educate generations and be very intentional and be that catalyst of change. And if we go back, there's a difference between wealth creation and saving money. Right. And so and so if you think about that, saving money and having money, you can spend that true wealth you can never outlive. And so the idea of that idea of generational wealth and multi generational wealth, how do you do that has to go back to we have to re engineer the way potentially you learned it depending on how you learned it. So So you guys bring up a very good point. So when you were growing up, the two of you. Tell me your experience with insurance or financial advisory while you were growing up? Would you be comfortable sharing that story? Sure.

Shella Sylla 30:00

So I will start, and I will say that we really didn't have a strong basis from that. A lot of my education actually came later in life. And you know, and I was fortunate enough to have a career in banking. And that was a huge eye opener. And that taught me so much about, you know, planning for the future. And, you know, just something as simple as life insurance and a difference that that makes when somebody passes to be able to take advantage of the policy paying out and that and how that can significantly changed someone's life. You know, I know that my parents definitely tried to instill good habits in us in terms of managing money. But was there a 50 year plan or a necessarily a legacy plan, establish your put in place, there was not there was something that we had to learn, as you know, we were growing up in matriculating up and understanding, you know, more about finances, and it's something that's not unfortunately, it's not taught in schools. So we were almost self taught that I was fortunate enough to have my older sister who had, who really led us on the entrepreneurial journey, and she had her own business and just seeing how she moved. And that sort of gave an example for me to follow. But outside of that we, like most black and brown people did not have a strong foundation, we did not sit around the dinner table talking about what stocks were going to invest in next, you know, or you know, or that you can build a savings account inside of an insurance policy. Those conversations did not take place. Martha,

Martha Underwood 31:46

yeah, I mean, you hit it on the nail, I think a lot of people think so our parents, my dad was a serial entrepreneur to which were my oldest sister got it. But he didn't talk about it much. We saw his work ethic. We saw him build businesses, but he didn't tell us, you know how to sustain it, and how we can peek and pass it on to us. So that we can experience that generational wealth. It was okay go to school to make sure that you learned how we can keep you know, building the businesses, so we can have a somewhat comfortable life. But it's critical to have those conversations and like Shell I did learn it, you know, from a book standpoint, after I went to college, and IBM had a program where they pay for us to have a financial advisor, which was awesome. And so I took advantage of that. And that's how I was able to learn more. And so I think the education piece and getting that education piece, earliest critical.

Chris Gandy 32:39

So what I hear you, both of you say is, you guys were able to take experience what you observed from your parents, right? The good things, not the bathrooms, like we our parents did a bunch of bad things too. Right? Okay, got it. You're able to take from observation, the good things, and you were able to get an education, and now the application correct magnifies the impacts of what the two of you do the two of you have done which is phenomenal. I want to I want to shift to Suzanne a little bit to Suzanne is the marketing guru I just, I just I get paid to work here. I'm just

Suzanne Carawan 33:17

think volunteer salary,

Chris Gandy 33:19

you guys integrated your DNA in the marketing, but doing so I'm ask a hard question. Now. How do you do it without isolating other cultures? Because we talked about inclusion and opportunity, right? How do you do it? So it in it applies to everyone? Not just people to say well, they're in Birmingham, Alabama, and you know, they're minority, so of course, they're going to work with minority males. So how have you done that? Specifically on the marketing side? Now? I'm gonna send it to Suzanne says Suzanne is a Marketing Pro. Again, I don't know how to do that. But I'm sure she does. So what have you to done that specifically on the marketing side? Are you on Tik Tok? Are you on Instagram? Are you like, what are you doing to grow from a marketing perspective and include everyone into the platform. So

Martha Underwood 34:15

we are on LinkedIn, and I'm an active post on LinkedIn, we are on Instagram, and I need to do better on Instagram. We are not on Tik Tok yet, but we will be. And so our messaging isn't a messaging just to black and brown people because it's not just the Black and Brown problem. It's everyone's problem. And and I speak to it as to you know, if something happens to you right now, like, who can get to your stuff? It doesn't matter if I'm black, brown, white, whatever. Right? And then again, and then I also talk about it from passing on wealth and in educating them because being in the bank, a lot of people don't know about achievement, where if so, One past, and then you know, the bank will call the beneficiary once or twice, but if people see a bank number calling, they're hesitant to ask, you know, to answer it, the bank will put an ad out in the newspaper, no one's reading newspapers these days, that money will sit into account for three to five years, depending on what state you're in, and then it will go to the state. And I've seen millions of dollars go to the state. And again, it's not just money, you know, in my account or someone another cultures account, it's everyone. And so we don't want that to happen. So how do we help facilitate making sure that the right people get what they should get, you know, based on what you've worked so hard to build. And so our marketing message is, is more so we all need this, we all need to be prepared, because none of us gets out alive and later does not belong to any of us. We think that we'll get to later but it doesn't belong to us. And so that's, that's how I kind of market it. And I love to, again, pick Suzanne's brain a little more, because she is the marketing guru on how we amplify that.

Suzanne Carawan 36:07

Well, you know, for most marketing, right, you're either doing you're either going to push a fear, right, or you're gonna push like a perceived benefit, which is usually along the line of hope or optimism, right for some better future life. And usually both of those, you know, your solutions and providing the like that's the malady and then you've got the solution for it and your product. But I think the what, what is interesting about money, and again, I come from like we were talking earlier, I come from a software background, and I'm, you know, years and years and years of, of marketing these intangible goods, which is hard to market. And money itself is not that hard to market, but it's the intangibles that go with market that go with the money, rather, it's the behavioral finance pieces. And I think the piece that it's so interesting, because so many, like so many states now have financial literacy requirements in there for high school. So we are going to see this influx of people coming into the market that that that are a little bit more even keel about money don't have so much emotion maybe wrapped up. But to Chris's point, we've got many, many generations that around money, you've got fear, shame hiding, right? There's nothing positive there. And so those things, I think, are that's a common DNA problem. Did that regardless, right? That's there. And to me, like, that's a different part of the DEI equation, because it's the you grew up with the fear, shame hiding, right? Money is like a bad thing. You know, it's not a, it's not a neutral topic. And to me, it's like, how do we make money neutral? It's an instrument, right? And when you see the people that can flip into thinking about that, like, somehow the two of you got the right training, the right education, you come, you're so grounded, you're so confident with it. It's just a problem to solve. Right? But but so many people don't address money that way. And especially then you're talking to end of life, right? There's so many people, consumers are so flippant, right? They do the whole like, oh, you know, when it's my time, just take me out back. Right? You know, you get all the little stuff that people say, Oh, don't worry about it. But that's not the reality. Right. And we were talking earlier, you know, my, my father just passed mid January. And we went through what I'm going to now call like, legal purgatory, where it wasn't clear, right, and you're talking somebody who's at that, it's, it's all clear, once you're dead, you're dead, it's clear, you get the death certificate, you have steps, but in that in between time, which I think both of you are really trying to address. It's hard with the person, if they're incapacitated, or they're declining, it's super hard for the family. And in today's world, where you don't have traditional families per se, especially if people are living into their, you know, 80s 90s I mean, they might be on their fourth partner, right, and they've been with them for years, but they're not legally married, you've got all these different constructs of stuff. I think it's really important that you, you can come in and say, Look, if you use this prison product, right, you get the clarity, it's that peace of mind, which is kind of nebulous, but it's really important to say, you know, this, what you don't want to do on top of losing somebody love is then have more fear, shame, wonderment. Like, lack of clarity. It's like the last thing you need on top of it. Right? Because that takes away from really going through that grief period. And then it just causes mayhem afterwards about how do you actually figure that out? And so to me, that's a conversation, Chris, and I know we, we do a lot of work at NAIFA in the long term care space in the kind of extended care planning, but all of that piece when you talk about end of life might not be a couple of days, it might be 10 plus years, you know, it could be more than that. And so how do we get our financial advisors comfortable with that conversation comfortable a saying to their clients, let's get the solutions in place, right? Not because we're trying to knock you off. Because we're trying to, you know, your kids are trying to take your money and figure that out. But because it's good for like, all around and like that's the that's the good thing to do. And I think that's a shift, right? That's a shift that we were not comfortable as an American society being a youthful society talking about this other cultures are, right Japanese culture did very different story. But we as a culture as an American culture, the way that it's been defined today, not a comfortable topic. So we got to figure out how do we take that piece to Main Street? And I think that's some of the work I know, you have set up before you to do that. And we want to, we want to work with that. Because to your point where same thing, millions of dollars are not being also, you know, harnessed by people in life insurance policies, or people just don't know. Right? Or they don't know what they don't know. Yeah, so I think those are some of the pieces on the marketing of getting our financial advisors to say, like, what are you waiting for, like, this is such a turnkey, easy solution to take care of so many problems. And I think especially because you put the privacy mechanisms in there, so that it's of me, that's the big piece, like, I know me as a parent, like, I'm like, Chris, I mean, I've got a 19 year old, so he's legal, and then I've got a 16 year old, but I don't really want them to know my business until it's time for them to know my business. But I want them to know they're taken care of, and that those steps will be taken. And then I want them to know exactly what they don't need to like, you know, speculate, right? They don't I only put that on them to figure out like, did they? Did they make the right decision? So I think that's particularly important, I think, for older generations to knowing they've got control of that, you know, that they can say, okay, should this happened to me, then this, you know, this, we can take that, but I think it's getting financial advisors. So Chris, what's your take on that, from a financial advisor standpoint of having those conversations with your, with the clients getting more people to talk this through?

Chris Gandy 41:44

Well, I think, you know, I'm on the advisory side, from the standpoint of helping people implement, you know, that, that Risk Protection Insurance and some investments, you know, the the key to this is, is, is taking away the money? No, I walk my clients through, you died yesterday, what happens next, and, you know, they sit there and I cross their eyes are like, I don't know what happens, they call you. And I said, No, they don't call me, I go, I can help point directions, but they don't call me I go, there needs to be clear instructions on what to do and how to do it. Now, I may have everything somewhat organized, but they still need to know what to do and how to do it. And I think as advisors, we get them to that point. And they have the potential to be financially secure. If it's done correctly. And so what I'm hearing from from from Martha and Shella, is they have the tool to help execute. Yes. Was, what I'm hearing their tool also does is helps, you know, there are no u hauls behind her, so we can't take it with us. Right. And so

Suzanne Carawan 42:55

I have never heard that that's, I

Chris Gandy 42:57

can't take it with us. Right? What we can do three things, right, we can give it to the IRS, and they will happily take it. So yes, God bless, right, we can give it to the people we love, and we care about, right, or we can give it to charity, or we can destroy it. And with the say we don't destroy it, you know, it's really the three, the three options that are there. And for all practical purposes, I understand. We're all patriotic people. But if we can give the least amount to the IRS or to the state, I would think that we would want to do that if we have a choice. So I give them that process. Now this tool could help us make that succinct, right pushing them to the point of okay, here's what we're going to do first is we're going to do second, here's where we're going to do third. And then like you said, those those those stop gaps, those tools that allow for them to say, Okay, I know where everything like being able, you know, technology is really in the financial services industry lacking? Right, if you're on the investment side, their technology is fantastic. on the investment side, on the insurance side, their technology is good on the insurance side, the collaboration of them both, is, you know, we're 1950 You know, so he's endorsed some in some companies, right? I know, I have, you know, Martin and shella on the call. And they do it's from a tech perspective, where they said, Listen, there's still DOS prompt being used on insurance and investment companies. Because again, because of the the privacy stuff, yep. Nobody wants to share data. And really the platform you're saying is the ability to share the data and get away from like, these these these silos, silos. I just think it what a great what a great tool. How do people find the two of you? Suzanne, what are we doing too? Well, I'll ask them how do we how do we find you and how do we find this tool? Sure.

Martha Underwood 44:52

You can find us at getprismm.com G E T P R I S M M 

Chris Gandy 44:59

Prismm I'm getting Prismm, hey, I'm telling you, Prismm.

Martha Underwood 45:04

So that G E T P R I S M M.com, you can find us at apt get Prismm on Instagram and on LinkedIn, you can find me on LinkedIn under Martha Underwood.

Suzanne Carawan 45:17

And I think the other part is, you know not to plug your own product. But it's at such a price point that you've made it a no brainer price point. And that's a big difference I see in what you're bringing to the market. And you've set it up. So you can get it as an individual, like, I'm going to sign up. Now I'm wondering, Chris, I wonder how many of our financial advisors have all their stuff buttoned up to themselves, but you can do it as an individual, but also as a financial advisor, if you want to get that and then give it out to your own clients, right, as part of your practice management, you've set up that model as well.

Martha Underwood 45:47

Yeah, there's an enterprise model for the financial advisors like that was one of the milestones we just signed one on. So it's one of the products that they sign on the client, they automatically get a Prismm account, you just license it per year. And then the direct to consumer, if you want to set up an individual account, it's $99 per year, or $9 per month.

Chris Gandy 46:07

Nice, nice. Okay, so So now we know, hey, how to get a hold of you. Two, we know how to get the product. Three, you're a part of NAIFA. So we're gonna see a lot of the two. Yeah, I understand I x I'm not I'm not a person. My mother says closed mouths don't get fed. I'm going to ask a couple times for this brother to have and sometimes independently. And the reason why is because your story, we want to hear the story, right? And again, you guys came from two different places. Yes, you started at the same place, but kind of went two different directions to come back together. And now you're able to create this dynamic product for our industry, not just for our industry, but for the continuity of financial services that sits on alignment with that wealth, building strategy, keeping it going for future generations, and kind of bridging the gap on the education thing. What a phenomenal what a phenomenal thing. I'm gonna go to the speed Brown. Suzanne, Suzanne, do you have anything else before I get into the speed round?

Other than we have? We have Martha and Shella will join us, Chris in May 22, at our dei symposium and hopefully come to congressional conference with us, you'll

Shella Sylla 47:22

be there. Yes, we will be there, we'll be there. That would

Chris Gandy 47:25

be great. I look forward to meeting the two of you in person. And if if our NAIFA are near for fellowship, if you're coming to congressional conference, these two superstars will be there. And I'm sure you'll be talking Prismm. And we'll be there helping promote them and talk about who they are and the impact they're having in the industry. So ladies, the speed round. Speed Round is just simply an opportunity for us to kind of get to know you as a person and just kind of fun, quirky stuff. And again, rule of thumb is whatever comes first in mind, you have to answer that it's good or bad or indifferent. It is what it is. Some of it's funny, some of it's kind of like, if you don't know anything, I'll just go to the next question. And it'll be pretty quick. Okay, okay. Let's do it. Alright, cool. All right. So the speed round first is who's your favorite actor? Denzel Washington that I have a

Shella Sylla 48:17

favorite per se. I have so many.

Chris Gandy 48:21

Um, Al Pacino. Okay, Al Pacino. Okay, your favorite book? Career warfare.

Shella Sylla 48:31

The E Myth?

Chris Gandy 48:32

He misses a good one too. Okay, so if you could go back in history and have breakfast, or lunch with a a famous person who would it be?

Martha Underwood 48:44

Zora Neale Hurston? Oh, I love her writing.

Suzanne Carawan 48:47

Me too. Me too.

Shella Sylla 48:50

I'm a little spiritual and say, Jesus. Oh, wow.

Chris Gandy 48:57

That's a good that's a good way.

Suzanne Carawan 49:00

You gotta go for Brockie miles ago. I got

Chris Gandy 49:06

so favorite thing. Favorite food all time favorite food.

Martha Underwood 49:13

Haitian rice and

Shella Sylla 49:14

peace took my because that was gonna say rice. Second would be pasta,

Chris Gandy 49:19

rice and pasta. All right. And then the last thing is, if you could give someone your if you could give your 18 year old self advice. What would you say to yourself?

Martha Underwood 49:31

Take all the risks or take all the risks. It turns out one take take the risk do it.

Chris Gandy 49:40

There are no shortcuts. No shortcuts. Alright, ladies, thank you so much. Suzanne. Do you have anything before? I give them the final? I say the final word, but I give them the mic for a second. Do you have anything

Suzanne Carawan 49:53

else? The only other thing I'd say is we're gonna do profiles on both of these wonderful people. You'll see them coming up and are at Blog. A couple of weeks and we look forward to just do a more welcome to the family.

Chris Gandy 50:03

Thank you. Miss Martha and Shella. Do you have any parting words before I close this out?

Martha Underwood 50:10

Sure. Thank you for having us on. We're excited about this platform and how many lives it will help. So go to GetPrismm.com and you can find us and connect with us on LinkedIn.

Shella Sylla 50:20

I'll bet and they were so excited to be joining NAIFA and being part of your family and can't wait to see you guys in DC.

Chris Gandy 50:29

So you want to see them in DC ladies and gents, I'll wrap this up. So thanks for tuning in to Advisor Today, NAIFA's podcast where we uplift and promote your personal practice, but ultimately help you develop into well rounded individuals for your life and your future. Thank you all and again, go out and celebrate Black History Month. Take a moment to appreciate and understand the differences between the cultures. And we could go out and make sure we were we make tomorrow a better place. Thanks everyone. Take care

Outro  51:06  

thanks for joining us for NAIFA's Advisor Today podcast series. Make sure to subscribe to get future episodes and if you're interested in coming on the show, let us know



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