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Chris Gandy is the Founder of Midwest Legacy Group LLC, a boutique concierge insurance group for executives, professional athletes, physicians, business owners, and entrepreneurs. It focuses on the client's interests in wealth accumulation, wealth preservation, retirement strategies, insurance, asset protection, and investments.

Chris played professionally for the Chicago Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs, and in L'Hermaine, France, after playing for the Fighting Illini at the University of Illinois. After the NBA, Chris worked as a Representative for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, the APEX Consulting Group LLC, and was the Senior Vice President of Sales at MassMutual Chicago.

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

  • Chris Gandy talks about the struggles in the career path of a financial advisor 
  • How a financial advisor makes a living 
  • Becoming a financial expert: branding yourself and attracting clients 
  • Why a financial advisor needs a circle of influence
  • How to build relationships to grow your influence in the industry 
  • Why you should join industry organizations such as NAIFA (National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors)

In this episode…

Financial advisors today are expected to do everything and be everything to everybody. That means they must be well-versed in banking, budgeting, and real estate advice. Especially now, financial advisors have to wear the hat of an economist since everyone wants to know what's going on with the economy.  

These expectations leave you, the financial advisor, grappling to stay abreast of all the industry changes. Your ability to do all that and communicate it to clients proactively sets you apart from the rest. To thrive and grow, you must also know how to brand, attract clients, and build relationships effectively.

In this episode of Advisor Today, join Chad Franzen of Rise25 as he hosts a conversation with Chris Gandy, Founder of Midwest Legacy Group LLC. Chris explains the struggles in the career path of a financial advisor, how a financial advisor makes a living, branding yourself and attracting clients, building a circle of influence, and more! 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, or NAIFA, the #1 association for producers in financial services. 

At NAIFA, we enhance professional skills, promote ethical conduct, and advocate for legislative and regulatory environments.

By joining NAIFA, you gain access to a partnership that elevates your performance while providing greater purpose to your professional work. NAIFA members are happier, make more money, and stay in the business longer.

Get in touch with NAIFA and learn more about how to join NAIFA by visiting NAIFA.org.

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, this is Chris Gandy. I'm your host of Advisor Today's podcast, where we feature some of the top leaders and professionals in the financial services industry. future guests will be leaders like the president of the National Association of Investment Insurance and Financial Advisors, key leaders within companies talking about some of the initiatives and opportunities and thought leadership in the industry, and also some of the professionals and and legends in the industry, who've been doing it for 20-30 years as they bring knowledge and expertise and share that with you on our on our weekly podcast. I have Chad Franzen in here of Rise25, who's done over who's done hundreds of interviews with successful entrepreneurs, investors, CEOs, and the likes of very successful people. We flip the script today and he will be interviewing me.

Chad Franzen 1:24

Yeah, Hey, Chris, it's great to talk to you, I appreciate the chance to be here with you. Before we get started, I'll let everybody know that this episode is brought to them by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors or NAIFA. The number one association for producers in financial services at NAIFA. They enhance professional skills, promote ethical conduct and advocate for legislative and regulatory environments. NAIFA members make more money and stay in the business longer and are happier. If you're already a member, you know how awesome they are. And if you're in financial services, and you're not a member yet, join today, if you're interested in becoming a member, go to NAIFA.org That's nai fa.org. To Learn more today, you can also email them at info@NAIFA.org. Hey, Chris, I'm looking forward to talk to you to talking to you. Tell me you know, you've been in the industry for 22 years now. Can you share me share with me some of the struggles that you've gone through? And maybe the struggles in the career path of a financial advisor in the industry today?

Chris Gandy 2:25

Sure. Well, Chad, I'm going to dissect a little bit of what you said what you've asked. And I'm going to overlay it with some of my experience, as I kind of walk you through this. So you know, financial advisors today are expected to do everything and be everything to everybody. And that means they're the budgeter that people asking them how to budget they have to be the economist, because everyone wants to know what's going on with the economy, and how is this going to impact me? And is this going to hurt me? When can I retire? Can I not retire, so they have to become an expert economist. So the research to do that, the ability to be able to predict the future. We don't know what the future looks like. But clients ask on a regular basis. Even though you don't know, we're paid and expected to know how, and what's going to happen. And so the research that's necessary to be able to stay top of mind and also be abreast of all the changes whether it deals with the laws, or it deals with changes, sweeping changes that are happening to the industry, it's our responsibility to be able to communicate that to clients as it's happening and be proactive versus versus reactive. And last but not least, is choosing choosing a career path. You know, when you first start off in the financial services industry, you're left with having to be the HR director, the underwriter and all these other things, but at the same time you're trying to progress in your career. And so you find yourself at times, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and not really a theft of that but robbing Peter to pay Paul, meaning that you're compromising your time to grow your career versus focus on acquiring clients. And so that creates a dilemma. Because there's only so much time chat in a day. There's only so much time we have out there to be able to make an impact and be able to help our clients. And so the struggles I went through early on are the same is is they say do you know go out and see people go out and meet as many people as you possibly can and have these these intellectual conversations about money. When you start off in the business, you don't know much about much. You know, you can pass the test back. And you know that bypassing that test that allows for you to be able to make competent to make commission or be able to make get compensated for the work you do. Now, you know the laws of the ins and outs of insurance and financial products, but you don't know the application. And so the journey in the first two to three years is to learn how to apply these the application of what you've learned and a knowledge to the marketplace. I'll give you an example of this. There's numerous people every year they graduate from universities all over the United States all over the world, and they graduate, and when they graduate, they have to go out and get a job. Okay, let me relate that to our world. Just because you passed and you have a degree and insurance and financial services, I a license, when you walk into the bank and try to deposit that into your bank account. They say nope, you have to go make this or turn this, or you have to be able to turn that piece of paper into revenue. And in that first four years, what you're doing is you're turning that license into revenue, by utilizing it to educate, uplift, empower, and also help your clients execute on strategies along the way. That's the first handful of years in the business. So So after that, though, you're really trying to figure out who do you want to be when you grow up. And the challenge that exists is, is open architecture, the most beautiful thing about our business is we can kind of be what whatever we want to be when we want to be. If I want to be an expert, and working in the medical markets, that's all I have to do is just focus on working in calling and prospecting in the physician space. If I want to work with architects the same thing I go where they are, I do what they do. I communicate with their their public know their publications, I'm marketing to them, I can kind of drive and become who I want to become through specific industries. And many people choose those paths. Or I can decide that I want to the be a part of the enterprise. And I want to help train and develop and be part of the leadership of an organization and I can go down that path. So again, fork in the road, for me, was a very difficult fork. Because when you leave one side of the business, you actually have to take two steps back from a compensation perspective to take four steps four. Jad you were asking,

Chad Franzen 7:46

What do you mean? What do you mean by two steps back from a composite compensation perspective.

Chris Gandy  7:50

So when you're when you're when you're seeing people and finding to see people, which that is our number one job, you find yourself getting paid in multiple ways you get paid by the work you do today, you get paid by the work you did in the past, and you also are getting paid for, for service on on the things in which and working with your clients ongoing, right. So you're getting paid kind of three different ways. When you make the choice to become part of the enterprise, and grow and develop and be a part of the growth of the development of the organization. You have to decide who you're going to, to pursue as clients. As a representative we are pursuing as clients as people in the general public. When you're a part of the internal enterprise of the organization, your clients now become potential advisors, representatives, or individuals who work at other companies or individuals that are in other industries that potentially it could be attracted. Because now your job is to train and develop those people and to teach them how to do what you were doing before which was going out finding clients seeking out clients. What I call shaking hands kissing babies. And the reason why I say that comment is if today we took financial services or whatever you're doing away, and we said, you know, what is the main thing that you have to do? And the answer is, if I was a politician, and I was running for an office, politicians aren't shy and they have to go out and they have to get constituents to vote for them. So you'll see politicians go door to door you'll see politicians go to every event you'll see politicians do a bunch of things. You'll see politicians what they call shaking hands and kissing babies which there's no hand that goes on shook and there's not a baby that goes on kissed why because it looks good in the media and be shaking hands is pressing the flesh and getting people to connect with you. So you can potentially they could potentially vote for you because people vote for things that there's some way they You've built a similarity to where they feel comfortable with. And so in our business, we're running for an office of being the most amazing financial advisor in the world, right and being the light of their eyes and being the go to person to help them deal with their, their financial issues, or be able to help them and guide them along the way. So in doing that, you don't know who's going to become the next client. So you have to actually go out and shake a lot of hands, just like a politician, and meet a lot of Kiss, a lot of babies, not technically kiss a lot of babies, but at the same time, you have to be somebody that someone would trust with a child. And that is the reason why it's just as delicate as that, when I say shaking hands and kissing babies. So at the end of the day, networking, meeting people, objectively, giving them the opportunity, or inviting them in for the opportunity for you to do business with them and help them and become part of their team.

Chad Franzen 10:54

Would you characterize that as branding yourself? Or is there more to branding yourself than just that?

Chris Gandy  11:00

Well, there's, there's multiple ways of branding yourself in our industry. What I've found over the years is that there's multiple ways. So the first way is by what I call hand to hand combat, you know, Chad, if we're gonna fight, you know, you and I, you know, we can't fight over zoom, we can, but I can just click the button and I hang up on you, right, you were still fighting, but technically, you're not in front of me. So for us to have a match, or for us to have a hand hand combat, it's a lot more intense, right? If we're in a room and we're disagreeing, and we get belly to belly, it's fair to say that, you know, that the testosterone or the estrogen and it's it's, it's the opposite sex will go up. And then it could get heated and potentially there could be a conflict and that conflict, I say, you know, hand hand combat, there's hand hand combat, which is, you actually out interviewing, meeting people asking for introductions to other individuals, there's that. That's one way. The second way is social media. And the old school way of, of becoming a expert in our field is, the more people you talk to, they'll introduce you to their friends, families and Associates. The problem we all have is that no one walks around with a, a sign on their forehead, or a t shirt that says, I need financial help, or I'm confused on what to do with my money, or I'm gonna organize, they don't do that. Right. So we're looking amongst the general public trying to figure out are you really who you say you are way on? Do you really have a T shirt on under, they're saying you need financial help. And so we have to turn over every rock, we have to, you have to meet a bunch of people. And so one of the ways that I believe that most advisors, if you look at 90%, of advisors that do the work today is they're stuck in a role where the only way and in our head, the only way we get paid is by other people validating what we've shared with them, and the work we've done with them. And hopefully, they have enough knowledge to be able to introduce us to other people. But we all know, chat that people don't walk around talking about their financial issues, like when you go to lunch, or you have wine or a beer with your buddies, you don't sit around and say, You know what, I really gotta focus on my retirement income and how much I'm gonna have. And, you know, I really got to pay attention to the tax advantages of how I save money, right? That's not how that works. Right? Typically, this is how it works. You sit around with your buddies, and you say, Hey, I had a great conversation with a guy today, that's going to help me make sure that when it's all said and done, everything's taken care of, and All my stuff's organized. And I'm actually doing it in an efficient way. And he's a great guy. And if he was here, I would introduce him to you. And that's essentially meeting people on a favorable basis. So so that is one way to meet people. Second way is outside of that is social media. And it's becoming more popular now that social media people are doing more on social media. And what they're doing is they're posting on LinkedIn subjects and their subject matter making comments. They're creating blogs, they're doing podcasts, right? They're doing creative things like this. And I've even seen a couple couple of really unique approaches to the market space is there's a guy out there who's actually he's a financial advisor. And what he does is he creates music. And he's like a DJ, right? Because people are attracted to to sound sweet. And so he's a DJ, and he's created like these little short tracks. And when he does the short tracks, he's got all the little audio up the little little words that come up and say, Are you a person that time people like yet? Well, they're playing to the beat and all of a sudden they're like, Ooh, yes, that's me. Eat Right? So it's kind of interesting because your minds focused on reasoning not focused on what he's saying. But you're like, hey, that's me. So social media has become such a powerful tool. Now, it's a leader is literally the fastest way for you to get exposure to a large market, not necessarily in your location, you think about free prior to the call it the COVID Awakening, right, once COVID happened, people realize I can go outside of my state and do business, right. But that was always there. But now because of COVID, I believe it expedited the expansion of our minds in our ability to do business. And so that's become a tool and a technique for people to be able to go outside of their nine dots outside of their immediate area and now expand their business because we all know the most successful people don't all live in one area. So there's social media, and that has replaced the drip campaigns or that's replaced what I would call the snail mail, right the mail, there's some people still doing that. I believe it's a little antiquated, but it's still relative in certain in certain markets. So the social media is one way to actually attract clients. Now a personal introduction, which I mentioned before, meeting people on a favorable basis is also another way. And last but not least, is creating centers of influence. Centers of Influence creating centers of influence is working with other professionals who are in line to do and advise clients from a financial perspective, but they're not in the financial industry. Give you an example of this. Bankers, bankers are constantly working with individuals with their finances, but they're not financial advisors, or they're not financial professionals. What they are is they work for the bank. And they are actually giving advice on maybe how to set up a checking account, or savings account, or be able to coordinate or align or organize some of their financial affairs. They're not insurance professionals. That's not what they do. So you find at times that bankers can be a good advocate, to help you build out your bench is what I call it. So bankers, accountants, they are trusted advisors who help people organize their tax affairs, to make sure that they pay their fair share of taxes, and they also are filing accordingly to the IRS guidelines. So people, again, share their financial information with them, and pay them for helping them do that role. But again, they're not financial advisors. They're not financial professionals. They're fit professionals in the accounting world, not in our world. And so aligning with individuals like that, who are connected with individuals, to then be able to build their bench and add value to extra value to their clients. So bankers, accountants, attorneys, and other like minded individuals who are in that space, who are constantly working with I mean, I've got, I work with realtors, I work with real estate brokers, because again, they see all the things that went on when I'm applying for a mortgage, they say, send us all your stuff, so we can get pre approved. Right, they see when people are 100% on organist. They have accounts here, I got here, I have 12 accounts here, seven accounts here who will ask the question on a regular basis? Wouldn't it make more sense for you to have some of this in malt in the same place? And if so, have you thought about working with someone or talking to someone who could help you organize some of this and make sense out of it. So those people, if you can become top of mind, you can become an advocate for them. And you also can bring business to them because you have these other clients over here who don't know the banker who needs a banker, you know, other people over here who need I don't know an accountant who needs an accountant. And at the end of the day, you become part of a trusted team of professionals and you move from the sales side of the business, to the consulting side of the business are really consulting with their professionals, other professionals for checks and balances to be able to create a great team in a in an outstanding bench.

Chad Franzen 19:33

How have you gone about establishing those kinds of relationships with you know, accountants, brokers, realtors, bankers, people like that?

Chris Gandy  19:41

personal observation is one. Two is experience. Right so personal observation, you look the part act the part seeing the part, I don't know you but at the end of the day, everybody's a stranger to the meeting for the first time. Right so as you can borrow that one that's a good one for our Nathan nation. Everybody's a stranger to meet him for the first time ever walked by someone who said, I know that person and you'd like to think in your mind

Chad Franzen 20:11

if you're frozen up on me

Chris Gandy 20:23

you look like somebody or use your name. And you're like, No. And somehow, because they said that your guard goes down, because you're kind of like, it's okay. Well, I don't know you, but no one ChrisGandy, nice to meet you. Great. So everybody's stranger to you meeting for the first time. So that is my perspective. And I share that with other advisors that if you treat the world like that, you'll always be in a in a power position. But you go about personal observation is one is how you create your bench. Two is referral. So asking your clients who they use, and then introducing yourself to those individuals. sounds something like this, Chad, I call up an accountant that working with one of my class said, you and I have a mutual client in common, I'd love to have a conversation with you about what we can do for the client. And I'd love to have a conversation with you. Because I have clients that potentially need your help, would you be open to having that conversation? Because I'm looking for a synergistic relationship in which we could collectively work together? And so they're like, Oh, of course, like, oh, yeah, we need more business. Right? And as there's never as and I'll ask, is it you know, are you are you still taking on clients? Are you open to, you know, new clients, and, and typically, they're like, No, I'm definitely open to new clients. So so they're typically open. As IT professional advisors, us, you just have to take, you have to pay attention to who they refer you to who they say is their business people. So so that's another way is referral, other industry referrals, obviously, that makes sense. And then last, but not least, is networking, going to networking events, networking associations, things like that plugging and playing into those organizations and creating a dynamic relationship through conversation. I believe that's super duper important. In building your bench, I am of the belief that just simply because you have one point guard doesn't mean you don't need a backup. That's my sports analogy. You know, my previous life, I used to be a pro, I used to be a professional basketball player. And now I'm an advisor. So when I, you know, my point guard goes down, you know, we're not going to fold and say, Hey, we're not going to play the rest of the game. Right? We're going to bring our other point guard off the bench. And what you find is that when you interview, these accounting firms are certain firms that do things differently than other firms. And I'm a firm believer that if you can match personalities, with individuals within specialties, that level of commitment, and that level of stickiness goes deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper. Because birds of a feather flock together, people want to be around people they like and people want to be around people that remind them that I can see myself in your shoes. So that's how we do it. And I love sharing those kinds of concepts, key Nuggets with advisors, because we find ourselves on a regular basis, stuck in our own head about what's happening, why is it happening? And what can we do to get out of our current, our current situation or out of our own way?

Chad Franzen 23:31

So given those given those things that we've we've just talked about? Why do you feel like it's important to join an organization like NAIFA?

Chris Gandy 23:39

Sure, well, NAIFA is one of the only organizations that kind of brings all those things together. I remember when I started off in the industry, I used to go to the guy that actually taught how to talk me into the business say oh, you should go to this lunch thing. And and all the guys and financial services or insurance and financial services that go there every every ever every Tuesday at noon and I thought about it I'm like What is this get together thing that they're having, you know, this, this this seance or this soiree that they're having or this this, this church service, what do they have in there? And what I found out is that he told me, he said, you go, you go, be this be a sponge, learn as much as you can. But this is where the pearls go. Right? And so if you thought about it, no matter what industry you're in, if you knew where the secrets were buried and all the gold treasures would you go there knowing that you'd be rich beyond your wildest dreams. And so as like a kid in a candy store, I decided I'm just gonna go right it's kind of cool thing. And the moment I walked in, I knew I was a part of we were all fighting the same fight. We were all talking the same talk. Our corporate affiliations, we put those down and we actually had conversations meaningful conversations about Let me share with you some of the mistakes, some of the obstacles I made, or some of the obstacles, I overcame some of the mistakes I made. So you don't have to experience that, which then will allow for you to speed your progress up earlier, because this is bigger than me. Right. And so the set the true selflessness of most advisors that are affiliated with an industry organization, like the National Association of insurance and financial services, NAIFA, find themselves giving of themselves and the knowledge about the industry, to forward the industry and to grow the industry. So NAIFA is is is dynamic in nature, because it's not just the culture and a community it creates, or the support, but it also focuses on helping individuals Main Street America, get an understanding that everyone deserves the right and the ability to be able to protect their family, their businesses, and actually prepare and save for their retirement and their future life and quality of life. Everybody deserves the right to do that. But what NAIFA does, it takes the walls down, because there are certain communities, if you look at the demographics of certain communities to get more access to financial services, that other communities, and so what NAIFA tends to do is NAIFA has brought that together, so then they call it you know, Main Street, you know, access to Main Street America, and how main street everyday working parents, moms, dads, can go out and still have the right to whether regardless of where they live, regardless of the demographics, regardless of of what they do for a living, regardless of how little or how much they make, they still have the ability of those major rights, those sovereign rights we have as citizens is to, is to come together, the ability to be able to protect our family, the ability to be able to save for the future, and the ability to be able to do it with dignity, they pay rent, protect that last but not least is is the ability to influence policy change. NAIFA is one of the only organizations on Capitol Hill that goes to Capitol Hill every year, it actually sits with the senators in the house, in the House of Representatives, also with the reps, house reps, and has meaningful conversations about the application of bills and laws and how it's going to impact everyday, everyday individuals. Because people that are in Congress may not understand the application, we go full circle, right, the application of how this is going to roll out and apply. Their intent might be good, but their actions may be off, how's this going to apply, because if it's not applicable to the general public, they don't have access to it, you've just created another obstacle in a hurdle for not access versus access. So. So it's one of the only organization that does all those things kind of in one. And, you know, I encourage NATO members to always give back, give more, and then get involved. And as we continue to move forward with our podcast, we want to continue that message. That DNA of why NAIFA and advisor today is such an important topic. And we need to be having these conversations, because what I struggled with what advisors are struggle with today, if there was something there was nobody there to reach back and help me. There was nobody read there to say, Hey, son, let me show you how to do this. Let me show you the way. Let me show you the mistakes I've had, then I might have been five, six years still still not where I am today. And so I think it's those are very important topics,

Chad Franzen 29:04

or yeah, this podcast will be very valuable in that respect. Hey, Chris has been great to talk to you. I really appreciate your time and your thoughts and your insights. I look forward to hearing future episodes of podcasts.

Chris Gandy 29:15

All right, Chad, thank you so much. Everybody, tune into your co host Chris Gandy, we're gonna sign off. Tune into our next podcast we've got we're going to have an unbelievable lineup for everybody. And we're going to we're going to drop a lot of knowledge, a lot of transferable knowledge, key topics, key nuggets. So make sure your papers out, make sure you got everything you need. And we can't wait to see you next year where we come together as a community for the greater good, so that we can provide access and resource to financial services not only to our community of financial advisors, but also to everyone we serve in the general public. So thank you, Chad. I appreciate it. And we'll see you on the other side. Thank you

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