Episode 053 Sara Hornick
I was recently interviewed by Seth Greene on the Insurance Marketing Organization podcast(also known as RIA Podcast). It was a great experience! We talked about topic of interview.
The RIA podcast features executives of insurance marketing organizations sharing tips on how to grow an IMO. I was fortunate enough to be a guest on the show. I found the experience to be illuminating and enjoyable. Seth is passionate about what he does!
Here are just a few of the topics we covered in the RIA Podcast:
- My career change from teaching to becoming a retirement planning advisor!
- Medicare planning, financial maximization, and the idea of celebrating your golden years while you can!
- Building a long-term plan prior to retirement and knowing your assets.
Welcome to the registered investment advisor podcast. Where financial services marketing expert Seth Greene interviews experts, executives and top producers to share can’t miss tips on how they successfully manage their financial service firms, grow their businesses, create great relationships and influence the industry. And now, here’s your host: Seth Greene.
Seth: Welcome to the podcast this is your host, Seth Greene. Today I have the good fortune to be interviewing Sara Hornick from Hudson Wealth Management. Sara thanks so much for joining us.
Sara: Hey! Yeah, I am glad to be here!
Seth: Alright well let’s dive in! Let’s go back in time, how did you get started in the financial services industry?
Sara: Oh my! Okay, well, I taught high school for about 15 years and the later part of my career I was in Virginia Beach in Virginia. And my step father developed Lewy body Dementia. Which is kind of a cross between Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s.
Seth: Oh my God!
Sara: Yeah, it is not fun.
Seth: Doesn’t sound like it! Both of those aren’t fun, I can’t imagine them together.
Sara: Exactly. So being an only child at the time, I came back to help my mom take care of my step dad. But I have a Masters from the University of Michigan and I have about 15 years in teaching experience. If you remember 2008 and 2009?
Seth: Very Well
Sara: Yeah, people were moving OUT of Michigan, they weren’t moving in.
Sara: I was pretty burned out teaching, to be honest with you. So, I put my resume out there and actually got a call from a recruiter at Bankers Life, in casualty. I decided hey why not? And at that time, they were very focused on long term care, so it was kind of coordinating with what was going on in my life and I found it to be of interest. And so, I gave it a go and I haven’t looked back. It is much better than teaching Shakespear to 16 year old boys.
Seth: Especially when most 16 year old’s, they don’t want to learn Shakespear.
Sara: Right! If you give them a sword though! You know the Julius Ceasars and those kinds of things, if they have a sword then they are okay.
Seth: I would imagine that changes the dynamic just a little bit. Alright so, talk a little bit about the type of clients you are serving now.
Sara: Sure so, we focus primarily on folks who are approaching and in retirement. So, 55 and older and I specifically specialize in Teachers because I was one. So, helping folks who have been in the teaching career, navigate through. A lot of folks who are leaving the profession now, because of covid and what has happened. The profession has changed so much in recent years that a lot of folks are leaving so, just helping with those transitions. Also, general folks in retirement talk a lot about Social Security Maximization and planning. I talk a lot about Medicare and also making sure that you aren’t running out of money and are able to have fun! Right! It’s the Golden Years, your supposed to be golden, you’re supposed to be having fun!
Seth: Supposed to be yes.
Sara: Right! So, if I can make that happen, then I am doing my job.
Seth: Absolutely! So, in regard to the teachers, that is obviously the specific Niche that all of our financial advisors can relate to in regard to target marketing. How do you get the word out, How do you get in front of those teachers? How do you work that Niche?
Sara: Right. So, with building any niche there is definitely a long term play aspect of it and I really honed in and started to focus on that Niche a couple of years before Covid. But during covid I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time building that Niche so a lot of it is through LinkedIn. I have, I think, they stop counting at about 1,000. So, I don’t know exactly how many teachers are following me on LinkedIn now.
We do have a Facebook page and then I write emails. I have an email campaign where lot of teachers join, as well as the regular financial clients. I also do a lot of blog writing so those are things that are on our website. So, and then of course there is word of mouth, if you do a good job for somebody then they like to pass your name on which is well appreciated!
Seth: Absolutely, what are you finding are some of the larger challenges that those teachers are having that you’re helping them solve are?
Sara: So, in Michigan specifically the retirement system for the teaching system is quite convoluted and complicated. There has to be a certain number of components that come together so that when folks come together, their healthcare is in place, their pension is in place. Then also coordinating that with their Social Security as well as any other retirement accounts that they have. So, it is really about timing and making sure that they are making the wisest financial decisions. Because anybody can retire but you want to make sure that you are maximizing everything and that is where I find that a lot of folks just need some guidance with that.
Seth: Absolutely. So how are you differentiating yourself from you know all the other advisors knocking on their door?
Sara: Well, I was a teacher for 15 years and I do still believe that I am a teacher at heart, so I am not necessarily teaching Shakespear anymore, but I am teaching about asset designation and providing guaranteed income strings and Medicare and all of those things. So, I think I can relate to them a bit better than someone who has never been in the profession.
Seth: Absolutely, that makes a lot of sense. What do you like best about what you are doing?
Sara: I love what I do! I love it, I love coming to work every day Hudson Wealth Management is the best place that I’ve ever worked in my life. Thank goodness because I am ready to stay here until I myself get to retire. So, I love the people I work with I love the community, it’s Northern Michigan I’ll show you the view outside the office here when we are done. But I just love helping people and people saying to me when we are done “Man thank you so much for showing us what we can actually do in retirement!”. It’s not so scary and the territory becomes known as opposed to unknown. And I just love that!
Seth: Are you using any other strategies to generate more word of mouth or more attraction in the teacher space?
Sara: Hmm, good question. Well, probably what happens is you know teachers are affiliated with other teachers on a high level. Right? So, when you are in a school district depending on how big or small the district is. You see those people day in and ay out. And I think being able to focus on a specific school, right? So, if you’re the go to gal for that school, then it just kind of automatically flows into that pipeline. When folks retire then they are like “Ope, got to go see Sara!”.
Seth: Wow, which is an awesome position to be in. Not everybody can necessarily replicate that! From a marketing perspective what would you say, is there anything that is working for you to bring in more business in todays environment?
Sara: One of the other ways that, the way in which this specific organization works, or this specific firm works, is that we are a comprehensive planning agency. So that means that Medicare is a big component of what we do. And we have health and life agents that work primarily on the insurance side. Because those health agents have had clients that have been introduced to me, and they even themselves have seen what our agency can do to improve retirement. You know they focus on the insurance side. I focus on the financial side, so having somebody be able to kind of introduce me in that way as the “go-to gal”. Kind of like “Hey I helped you with your Medicare, look what we did there, I have someone that can help you on the financial side as well.” And that is a big resource as well.
Seth: Absolutely, so I mean you’ve been doing this for a while you’re obviously successful in what you do. What is your biggest challenge now?
Sara: Hmm, what is my biggest challenge now?
Finding good people, one of the biggest challenges that we have is finding people to add to the agency. As you probably well know, and as people listening to this well know, the generation that is coming up and through started with overflowing preschools, overflowing colleges, then overflowing workplaces. Now we are getting to the point where there is 10,000 people turning 65 every day at least for the next 20 years. We haven’t even begun to penetrate the market here.
It’s Traverse City, which is in Northern Michigan and it’s one of the premier retirement meccas in the world. Specifically, during the summertime and then they become snowbirds and head to Florida for the Winter. So just finding good people who are willing to help and be a part of what we are doing here. But I think that is a challenge that a lot of businesses in general have. Just finding people in the workforce you know? That is one of the bigger challenges. And yeah, the rest I don’t see as a challenge I just see it as an opportunity.
Seth: Well, that is absolutely awesome and a great way to look at it. Looking back now, if you were going to give advice to someone who is just starting out in the business like you were, what would you tell them?
Sara: So, I think one of the main advantages that I have enjoyed, or that has helped me, in this profession is being and independent advisor. As opposed to the bigger box companies like Edward Jones or Raymond James. Not to say that they don’t do a good job, or I’m not slinging mud by any stretch of the imagination. But as an independent you have a lot more tools in your belt. So, a lot of different ways to solve the problems and help people achieve what they want in retirement. That is my personal opinion. But definitely start with an independent firm because it is not a cookie cutter way of dealing with clients. You can really invest in the specifics of their situations and find solutions that are tailored to them.
Seth: That is awesome! And for our folks who want to learn more about you and what you are doing where is the best place to send them?
Sara: You can go to retirementclairfied.com and we have a ton of resources there. There are a couple of different niches at the agency one of which is healthcare professionals, and the other is like contractors, construction type of profession. So, a lot of individualized resources there. You can also look me up on LinkedIn, lots of good information there. As well as, Hudson Wealth Management on Facebook is another great resource.