Meet Bo Hanson, a financial advisor who’s used a combination of technology and partnering – with a big helping of entrepreneurial drive – to create a six-fold increase in his business since 2017.
What makes this story even more compelling is that Bo and his partner, Brian Preston, managed this growth during – and in-spite of – the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you’re a small business owner – and even if you’re not a financial advisor – you should be super interested in Bo Hanson’s story. There was no major infusion of capital or transforming events that made it happen. Bo has been able to grow his existing business with a combination of winning techniques.
So, who is Bo Hanson, and how did he achieve such incredible growth in a highly competitive field – even during a global pandemic?
Introducing Bo Hanson
Bo Hanson is a partner in in the Franklin, Tennessee-based financial advisory firm, Abound Wealth. A 2008 University of Georgia graduate, he and his wife Jenna and their two daughters reside in nearby Thompsons Station.
The University of Georgia is a key part of Bo’s journey in life. That’s when he was first introduced to the financial advisory field. On his website, Bo tells the story of how he began working as a financial advisor before he even hit the legal drinking age.
“I have a late birthday (August), and my parents started me in kindergarten young,” Bo recalls. “When I got to college, I had several credits thanks to Joint Enrollment and Advanced Placement classes. Because of that, when I first started working at a financial planning firm, I was only 20 years old. Old enough to help people make sound financial decisions (to an extent), but not old enough for an adult beverage.”
Bo worked for Preston & Cleveland Wealth Management, working for his future business partner, Brian Preston. He’s continued working for and with Brian since his graduation from UGA.
Bo and Brian developed a media enterprise called The Money Guy Show, which grew to give the firm a national presence. The show was intended to serve as an educational platform, but it brought clients from all over the country.
With the success of the show, Bo and Brian rebranded their financial planning business and became Abound Wealth.
The combination of a financial advisory firm and a media presence proved to be a winning combination. And that’s when business really started to take off.
Today, Abound Wealth has grown to 19 employees, and assists clients with retirement planning, education planning, estate and legacy planning, tax planning, and more.
What Pandemic? This Firm has Grown by 600% in Less than Five Years
When Bo and Brian started Abound Wealth in 2017, the firm had about $115 million in Assets Under Management (AUM). Less than five years later, AUM has grown to nearly $750 million. That works out to be an annualized growth rate of about 46% in less than five years.
That growth didn’t come about by accident. In addition to specific strategies – which I’ll cover in a bit – Bo and Brian employ business philosophies that might best be termed disarming.
First, the firm is a fee-only, fiduciary advisory. “In our opinion, it’s the least conflicted way for financial advisors to get paid since we get paid directly from clients and not from selling products,” explains Bo. “It’s often difficult for fee-based or commission-based advisors to give advice most beneficial to clients when they stand to make more money from giving advice that might not be as beneficial – or could even be harmful.”
Never Oversell Yourself
Second, Bo and Brian avoid overselling their service. From a marketing perspective, they emphasize providing plenty of free advice. But they’re equally circumspect about promoting financial advisories as an across-the-board recommendation for everyone.
“Having a financial advisor is a good idea, but we don’t think that everyone should hire one,” Bo emphasizes. “We believe with all of the free information available online (like from The Money Guy Show), hiring a financial advisor might not make sense for someone who’s just starting out or only a few years into building wealth.”
Bo and Brian aren’t the only financial advisors who see that marketing in the 21st Century requires a softer approach.
“I’ve found that in trying to target millennial clients, it’s important to focus first and foremost on providing value and building a relationship based on trust,” advises Kenny Senour, financial advisor at Millennial Wealth Management. “People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are not engaged or interested in the ‘hard sell’ approach. In fact, it’s the easiest way to lose a younger client. So, I’ve tried to focus more on building the relationship and whether I would truly be the best planner for a particular millennial client.”
For smaller investors, Bo Hanson even warns that financial advisor fees can be a drawback.
“In those early years, when the nest egg is small and growing quickly, an advisory fee can be a real hindrance to building wealth,” says Bo. “It might not provide as much value.”
That’s a surprising admission from a man whose business is selling financial advice. But it makes more sense when you understand the basic concept they promote…
The Abundance Cycle
This is a concept that resonates throughout the firm and is also a repeating theme in their marketing efforts.
The Abundance Cycle is at the heart of the drive to give away free information.
“We often get asked why we give away so much great financial information for free,” Bo explains. “While the obvious answer is that we want to spread the news of sound financial management and help people take control of their finances, we’ve found that the ‘Abundance Cycle’ has been a really fun side effect of that process. We encourage our audience to Learn, Apply, and Grow.”
Bo explains the three-step process of Learn, Apply, and Grow as follows:
1. Learn how to make great financial decisions.
2. Apply what you learn to your financial life.
3. Grow by combining learning and application to allow your circumstances to expand and improve.
“The Abundance Cycle is when they reach the point that they have had so much financial success that they feel like they need a co-pilot to help them navigate the rest of the journey,” explains Bo. “We ask that, when they reach that point, to remember the team that loaded them up with information all along the way, and we ask for them to give us (Abound Wealth) a chance to be that co-pilot.”
Simple, but disarming. And successful.
Bo recommends hiring an advisor once your portfolio reaches a “critical mass”. He cites $500,000 as a typical threshold when hiring an advisor becomes desirable. “Managing a 6- or 7-figure portfolio can feel like a full-time job, and a fee-only financial advisor can provide so much value.”
What about the specific strategies Bo and Brian have used to expand their business?
There are two primarily, The Money Guy Show podcast and The Money Guy Show YouTube channel.
The Money Guy Show Podcast
This is where Bo and Brian first began to use the Internet to grow their business. They’ve been able to use the show to reach hundreds of thousands of people every month, giving them a huge competitive advantage.
Brian Preston first started the podcast in 2006. At the time, podcasting was relatively new and unproven, and Brian had no idea if it offered any business potential. But as an educator at heart, and descending from a long line of teachers, teaching others about finance was a natural outlet.
But the podcast did something else to increase business, something that was very unexpected.
Brian was frustrated that when someone reached out for financial advice, they couldn’t get any unless they met the firm’s minimum asset requirement. The only other option was to connect with a shark in the industry who only wants to sell them products. But The Money Guy Show enabled him to get great information out to the masses. That created a huge market for potential future clients.
Bo’s first connection with Brian was as an intern while he was still in college. That internship held the potential to become a full-time hire – the first, since Brian operated as a sole proprietorship up to that point.
By 2010, Bo came on air as the cohost of The Money Guy Show and things began to take off.
“After a few years, we did recognize how hungry our audience was for not only great free financial information, but also for sound financial management and guidance,” Bo recalls. “Once we saw that, we began getting more intentional about telling our audience what we did for our “day jobs”, and then it seemed like the flood gates opened.”
The Abundance Cycle was a major part of that success. Bo even describes it as Abound Wealth’s single greatest competitive advantage.
“We give away free information through The Money Guy Show, our website, and social channels,” Bo explains. “Our audience applies what they learn to their financial lives and as they grow, they eventually come back to where it all started.”
Zero in on a Niche
Another piece of advice worth considering from a different financial advisor: “My best advice is to become an expert in one area,” recommends Jodi D’Agostini, advisor at Equitable Advisors. “Over 70% of financial advisors with large books of business have a “niche” practice. This doesn’t necessarily limit you to that niche but becoming the ‘go to’ source in one area brings you a larger audience and distinguishes you among a large pool of competitors.”
The Secret Sauce for Successful Podcasting
Creating a successful podcast series isn’t a case of “if you build it, they will come”. Though Bo readily admits the direction of the show continues to be a work-in-progress, they’ve found success with the following strategies:
1. Give the audience what it wants to hear
The podcast covers everything from trending financial topics to bread-and-butter subjects like taxes and Roth IRAs, to basic financial lessons. “The stimulus and relief bill content we made last year during the pandemic did very well,” Bo reports. “Whenever there’s huge financial news that affects a lot of people (legislative changes, economic shifts, etc.), we have a lot of folks tune into our show to hear about it.”
2. Learn from your audience
Content ideas come from everywhere. Sometimes they come from situations in Bo’s and Brian’s personal or business lives. Other times they come from email suggestions from fans or clients, trending topics in the news, or brainstorming sessions in content meetings.
3. Maintain a regular schedule
To build a loyal following, listeners need predictability. “We do have a set schedule,” reports Bo. “And we’ve found that creating and putting content out there consistently is probably the biggest key to sustained growth. We have new full-length episodes every Friday.”
Taking a Plunge into Uncharted Territory – The Magic of YouTube
Though it seems like a natural outgrowth of the podcast series, The Money Guy Show YouTube channel was something of a happy accident. Bo and Brian were asked to do a video series for over-the road-truckers from Progressive in 2017.
“Progressive wanted us to do an eight-part series to help both drivers and owner-operators,” Bo recalls. “One of their requirements was that two of the shows be done as video formats – which we had never done!”
But Bo found a local video connection right in Franklin, Tennessee. It went so well, they all agreed they could do it for every show. Reports Bo: “Since then, we’ve seen massive growth on YouTube and have been amazed at how much quicker our audience (or new viewers) absorb our content through the video medium versus strictly the audio podcast medium.”
Bo and Brian were able to convert their podcast experience into a successful channel. The Money Guy YouTube channel currently has 199,000 subscribers just four years after launch.
Accident or not, the YouTube channel does parallel the podcasts.
“Our podcasts and YouTube premieres happen simultaneously on Friday mornings,” according to Bo. “Some of the live streams we do on YouTube and Facebook at 10 AM Central on Tuesdays are only possible on YouTube. But those make it to the podcast stream a few days later.”
In an additional twist, the Tuesday morning live streams on Facebook are delivered in a dedicated question-and-answer session for the live audience.
Bo’s Advice for a Successful YouTube Channel
Bo’s advice on building a successful YouTube channel, not surprisingly, has several moving parts.
1. Much like The Money Guy Show podcast, the YouTube channel wasn’t an overnight success
“We started the channel in 2017,” recounts Bo. “And like probably all new YouTube channels, growth was slow at the beginning.”
He reports having some videos do really well, accelerating the growth of the channel. “Our ‘Net Worth by Age’ and ‘Average 401(k) Balance By Age’ annual videos are very popular. Just a few months ago, our ‘Financial Advisors React to Money Advice on TikTok’ had a bit of a viral moment, but I would still say that quality, consistent content has been the key to our growth.”
2. YouTube converts visitors to clients faster than the podcast
Bo and Brian found YouTube to be an excellent way to not only build their business, but to convert listeners/viewers into clients more quickly. “What’s incredible is that it used to take a podcast listener a few years to reach out about potentially becoming a client,” says Bo. “With YouTube, we’ve seen that shrink down to a matter of months or even weeks.”
3. YouTube generates additional revenue
Bo doesn’t supply revenue information on the YouTube channel, but he does say it’s provided enough additional income to grow the content team and put out new projects.
One of those new projects is Abound Wealth’s Financial Order of Operations. It’s a 9-step process to help people decide exactly what they should do with their next dollar. The partners make the course available at a cost of $249.
“A lot of people – we call them Financial Mutants – are great at saving,” Bo cautions. “But they second-guess whether they’re making the right decisions or doing things in the right order. Our Financial Order of Operations serves as an instruction manual for how to command your Army of Dollar Bills as effectively and efficiently as possible.”
That’s the kind of program you can create and promote when you have a significant number of subscribers on YouTube.
4. Content, content, content!
This is the first rule of the Internet, and one I myself am very familiar with after years of making money on the web. Whether it’s a blog, a podcast, or a YouTube channel, your success will only be as great as your content.
Warns Bo: “Content should be your first priority – is what you have to say valuable to others? Consistency should be your second – are you willing to scream into the void long enough for people to find you?”
“Once I realized some of our wealthiest clients tended to disagree how they manage and plan their finances, I partnered with an amazing marriage family therapist to create a podcast and YouTube channel called The Millionaire Marriage,” adds Taylor J. Kovar, CFP and CEO at Kovar Wealth Management. “By combining the clinical knowledge of a therapist with my background as a CFP, we’ve been able to help couples find the wealth in their marriage (pun intended) and the byproduct of that has been a growth in both of our practices.”
5. You’ll need to promote your YouTube videos
Bo and Brian promote their YouTube content on their social media channels, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They also use their website, and to their email list. “Outside of that…” Bo advises, “the YouTube algorithm grabs and promotes your content to people that are already on YouTube.”
How The Money Guy Show Podcast and YouTube Channel have Transformed Abound Wealth
Bo estimates that about 95% of Abound Wealth’s new clients now come from the podcast and YouTube channel. Though this method of marketing isn’t for everyone, he does believe it can help a lot of small businesses.
But he cautions, “Don’t try to recreate The Money Guy Show. Find out what you’re passionate about and find a way to get others to enjoy being a part of your journey to explore and share that passion. That’s how you build a true tribe and community.”
Indeed, marketing a business is changing rapidly in the 21st century. Warns Ray Prospero, Partner Advisor at AdvicePeriod, LLC: “When I started in the financial services industry over a decade ago, the way most advisors built their business was through cold-calling, which we newly-minted advisors used to affectionately refer to as ‘smiling and dialing’. But building a business on cold-calling is virtually impossible today. I’ve adapted and now use social media to help build my business. The primary social media tool I use is LinkedIn, where I use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator.”
If you can create the right blend of content and media, your business just might take off. Bo Hanson, Brian Preston and Abound Wealth are a perfect example of how that can happen.