The Pitch

We’ve all been there. You meet a financial advisor out in the wild. You feel the wind-up, expecting the pitch to come at any moment. *CRINGE*

In this episode of Simply Why, Dennis Morton and Katie Brown expose their own cringy pitch stories and why so many advisors struggle with the awkwardness of feeling like they’re expected to sell all the time. Dennis and Katie share why they avoid “the pitch” in favor of showing up authentically to build meaningful relationships and how it has led to their growth and success.

I don’t think of it as sales as much as how can we drive value for one another? Is there an opportunity for us to bring value to this family? And is there something that I can learn from them and that I can grow in my profession through working with them, too? – Katie Brown

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Important Disclosures:



Welcome to simply why, a podcast about money and purpose, where we pull back the curtain on running a financial advisory business focused on providing intentional advice to couples and families. I'm Dennis Morton. And I'm Katie Brown. Welcome back. And thanks for tuning in.


So, Katie, I want to ask you, have we ever experienced a situation where talking to somebody, you're out there mingling and networking, and you just feel like they're waiting for you to pitch your services? Yes, I have definitely had that feeling. And it's uncomfortable, to be honest. It is, yeah. And I have the sense that it's uncomfortable for the person sitting across the table from me, too.


Like, they're just kind of waiting. And I, and I'm oftentimes in my own mind saying, don't worry, it's not coming. I'm not here to pitch a sale. It's almost like they're saying, can we just get this over with? Can you pitch me an annuity?


And then we can just continue on? Or I can break off the conversation. Do you have a brochure that I can take away? And you know what's fascinating, because I think the quote unquote sales aspect of our business is very energizing for some people. It does not give me energy.


You know this about me. Like, it's not, it's not something I get excited about. I think we're in a fortunate position that when it comes to the sales aspect of. I don't think of it as sales as much as how can we drive value for one another? Is there an opportunity for us to bring value to this family?


And is there something that I can learn from them and that I can grow in my profession through working with them, too? Let me. Let me ask, where were you going with that question, Dennis? I got pitched recently, I received an email from a financial advisor, wanted to know if I wanted to work with a financial advisor. Hmm.


I hadn't considered. You're my financial advisor. I'm not going anywhere. Trust me. You still.


I thought about taking the call, but I'm like, Katie, Katie's doing a good job, you know? Now, what was it that had you thinking about taking the call? How was pitch? Let's get into it. So, okay.


So I received an email, and it starts out with pleasantries about hope you and your family are doing well. But it proceeds to say, as we continue to see risk factors, fluctuating interest rates, election impending, or reaching out to see if there's an opportunity for a conversation, they proceed to say, we help people get a second eye on their portfolio. We've seen substantial volatility. We anticipate continued market swings, and then they close with, we appreciate the opportunity to learn what's most important to you. Let's set up an interview to discuss.


And I read this and I just put my head in my hands and I thought, for as far as we've come as an industry, we are still stuck 2030 years ago. What an awful pitch. I shared this with you. Tell me what you thought when you read this unsolicited approach by a financial advisor. My initial reaction was, all right, let me put my feet in the shoes of an investor out there that maybe either isn't working with an advisor or even might be working with an advisor.


If I didn't feel jittery at the beginning of this email, I probably would at the end and I would start thinking, what am I missing? Where's the problem? It raised my levels of anxiety to me. It felt very contrary to the types of experiences that we try to build for the families we work with. Yeah, yeah.


It's almost like coming back to the conversation that we might have out in public sometimes that initial opening of talking about fear and volatility and things like it's creating or affirming fears that this person already has. He's either trying to create something that wasn't there or affirm something that I already believe and then swoop in to say, hey, hey, I can fix it. But that's how the financial industry for so many years has raised financial advisors. Create the churn, create this sense of chaos, and you'll be the one that comes in and solves for all of it. I think it's a mispositioning.


I think it sounds very tone deaf in this day and age. Well, and it has everything to do with all the outside factors that maybe don't matter to a great degree for the particular person that they're trying to connect with. It's not asking the questions about what are the things that you and your family value? Can we have a conversation around helping you achieve some of your goals or find alignment, find confidence in your financial world? There's nothing that goes back to, hi, mister or Misses Smith, what can we do to help you?


It's all external factors. All this stuff is happening out there. And exactly like you said, we're going to help you figure out how to solve that. So let's break it down. I mean, this email is three paragraphs long, and paragraph one is, I hope you're doing well.


And there's a lot of risk out there. You're right. It's looking all outside. Nothing about you. Paragraph two is volatility.


Things go up and down as if that were abnormal. Remember that time in your life when things weren't going up and down? Like, I had volatility eating my cereal this morning. Like, that's just, I almost. I don't like when people talk about the bouncing around to the markets or volatility, because it's like, seriously, show me the person who's static, you know, or the time period that's static.


Because, and, you know, once those things calm down, then something else is going on in your. Like, something else is happening in your personal life. Like you said, there's, there's, there's never any period that is smooth. And if there is, you don't recognize it in the moment. So you're right.


To embrace the normalcy of that is perhaps a better, a better approach that I would prefer anyway. Yeah, which kind of gets. If I'm being snarky about this, and I'm sorry to pick on this advisor, because let me put a disclaimer in here. It is very, very difficult to succeed as a financial advisor. It is very, very difficult.


I'm on my third firm. Fortunately, my name's not at this time. But it's very challenging to make it. I don't know what the attrition rate is. It's more than half, maybe 75% of advisors don't make it past three years.


And this is probably a young person reaching out, trying to solicit things. But we're speaking about the training and how advisors are coached to prey on the fears and anxieties of people. So I just want to put that disclaimer in there that it's really hard work to succeed here and to find your voice and to find the right approach, to find clientele and all that stuff. It's a very difficult challenge. I think that's fair, and I do appreciate you saying that.


I'm going to also add in there, too. It is very difficult in this industry, and there's a lot of corporate challenges for many advisors. Even if you do have a voice that you're like, you know what? This is really going to resonate to find the channel and to get the approvals and the ability to speak. That can be very challenging under some structures.


We intentionally created our firm independent, and we have a great compliance team that helps us make sure that we're doing things in line with the regulations out there, but we have a lot more freedom to speak our mind within those rails than a lot of other advisors do. So I feel for that piece of it, too, because this may have been something that this individual advisor maybe didn't even write. It might have been handed down to him to say, this is how you're going to go out there and try to build your book of business. Yes. Yes.


Again, simplistically, there are things happening in the world. Stuff's going up and down. And now come in and say, let's talk about you. Truthfully, there's always something happening in the world. Things are always going up and down.


Why are we churning up the emotions before we even get to know one another? And that's the part that I think is backwards. We would maybe reframe that to put the latter part first. There's an opportunity to understand who's sitting across from us. That human side.


I remember being trained in the business as a broker 18 years ago, and the coaching was, you've got to create a problem to solve that there's something wrong with your portfolio, there's a better investment out there. Create that sense of doubt and then start the conversation. And that feels very inauthentic of the industry today. And it's one of the things that I think if we can have, you know, make our little dent in the universe to change the way that that approach happens, because we've seen the ripple effects in clients relationships with their advisors and also their relationships with their money, they're looking for fearful element. Well, and the good news is, I think that we are seeing some of those changes starting to take shape.


I think we're seeing the conversation shifting a little bit in some areas. And I know that it's something we feel very passionate about to spread that gospel of there's probably, rather than starting on the negative fear side of the conversation, there's probably a way to start with, how do we bring simplicity and positivity to the experience that you're having with money? Yes. Yes. So I think this is a chance to talk about something we're really excited about here at Morton Brown Family Wealth family wealth, which is we've had the privilege of getting to know the team at shaping wealth.


Here's the idea behind shaping wealth, and it's a team that we've engaged with to help train us on the human side of advice. Because, as I said, we were kind of brought up in the business to solve for things, to be product oriented and all those things. That's not how effective advice is really delivered anymore. So the team at shaping wealth. Imagine this.


A financial analyst, a neurobiologist and a clinical psychologist all get together to start a company. And their idea is, if we can take our expertise about the way our brains work, the way our relationship with money exists, the way our relationship with other people exists, and if we can channel that and help build better financial advisors, the outcomes will be incredible. So do you wanna talk about this cohort that we're part of now, Katie? Yeah, it's actually, it's really exciting. We are working with, what is it, about 45 advisors all throughout the US, in Canada and Europe, which is fascinating.


And we each kind of have our own little pod. So, like, in my pod, I have four people, and we are in four different time zones in three different countries, which is amazing. But that also speaks to this is a very wide reaching effort and conversation that's happening, as you mentioned, just learning more about how our brains process things like this. So if we get some of these fear tactics of the market, how are we responding to that? And is that helping us make better decisions, or is that helping us to perhaps be more reactionary and really learning and sharing stories and leaning on one another to say, okay, what are you seeing with families that you help serve, and how can we connect on a level that is going to have a greater understanding and a greater, like, approaching it from more of a learning angle?


How can I learn about what's happening in your world and be a positive impact on the relationship that you're having with money and on your future financial plans? So it's a little bit of a different angle. It's not starting from the product, the services, et cetera. It's really kind of understanding where that baseline is at and how we can help support through a process. Is that fair?


Yeah. Yeah. I think one of the most brilliant elements of this, the way it's structured, is it starts with the advisor. Like, we're not jumping to the client, we're not leaping to risks outside. It starts with self awareness in the advisor, and we're never going to strip the humanness out of what we do and the well being of the advisor, and how does that translate into the way we deliver advice and appreciate the other person sitting across from us?


So some of the topics that we're covering, it's everything from decision making to motivation, gratitude, stress, conflict, listening, all of these things. When you think about when are we going to the stocks and bonds, we'll talk about that. But your relationship with what's going up and down your portfolio is going to flow through this natural range of emotions that. That you have, that I have, that every single one of our clients has. And the more we talk about this, the light goes off.


You can see it in people's eyes. And, Dennis, why do you think that's so important, though? Why is it really important to focus on some of these items when it comes to family finances? Because everybody has a story. In fact, that's our homework this week.


Everybody has a money story. And I'll share my experience in my pod of three people this week went through this list of prompts. These prompts came up to kind of spark how we thought about money in the past, how we think about it now, and how we think about it in the future. And some of the questions were, like, what messages did you receive about money growing up? How was money talked about in your home?


How was your first vehicle paid for? Just all these things that started coming up with all these stories from my childhood that were like, okay, this is how money showed up in different ways that I never really appreciated before. And then it got me thinking about how I am now. How did it spark things for you? Similarly, and it's interesting, because before we started this with shaping wealth, I think you and I have had some good conversations over the years about what money was like growing up and how that's influenced the way that we are now.


And I think we've even talked before about how when it comes to things like budgeting, saving, spending, I tend to be on the saver side, and then whatever leftover, I feel the freedom to spend. I think you've shared, you and your family tend to be, let's watch everything that we're spending, not that you're not doing the saving, and not that I'm not being aware of what we're spending, but just how you come at it, you know, from different angles. And I think it was some of the items, though, just taking the time to really reflect on it. Not that it. Not that it looks for trauma, but one of the questions is, have you ever lost your job?


And I have. And I thought, you know what? I thought of that as a career hiccup, but not what it did for my money mentality. There were some things that changed there when I had to think about what's next and everything else. It just, again, coming back to that self awareness.


And why this is important is that every person that walks through the door to talk to us or a financial advisor is bringing some story with them. And step one should be to help them understand that story in a way that they might not have. Sometimes this gets a little bit soft for some people and they might not recognize or fully adopt the importance, perhaps, of this. But I think the natural progression of kind of understanding that money story is to understand then how does that influence the decisions that they make, and how does that influence the conversations that they have with other vested partners, whether it's a spouse or family member? I think before you go too far in that progression, you kind of have to have a little bit of a base baseline of understanding what is everybody showing up at the table with.


And then we can further understand either decisions that will be helpful or perhaps harmful to their financial future and where those are coming from. Yeah, you're right. This isn't something. This might be a little bit of a tough thing for someone. If you're going in the first meeting and someone's saying, you know, what was home life like when you were five?


You were not therapists. But I think the reason we've kind of raised our hands to volunteer for this, for this type of training is because in the course of conversations, you can listen for cues. You could say, wait a minute, maybe this is something that this couple hasn't talked about before. In our pod, we talked about people who'd grown up in the depression, how they are the parents of some of our clients, and the impact of some of those longstanding habits of childhood show up. So I think it just makes us more aware to listen for it and ask the right questions at the right time, and it brings it all into alignment, past, present and future, better decision making.


And I think the amazing thing, like you said, sometimes when we start talking about these things that you see people's eyes light up because every once in a while they have a realization, just like you said. What was the impact of losing a job? Like, they may not have connected the dots that, oh, money was really tight when I grew up, and I know that I have sufficient funds now, but I still don't feel like I can spend the money. And they might not have connected that dot to recognize that's because it was so hard. Like, we just didn't have that ability, and I'm afraid it's going to go away.


Yes, yes. Whether it's a scarcity mindset or whatever it might be, or profligate spending or whatever, then you push toward the future and say, now imagine you're looking at yourself 1020 years ago. What would you wish you would have done today to address this? And are there obstacles in the way you think about money. Are there obstacles to getting to that place?


And it becomes a process. It changes the process from what was being pitched to me in that email to something that I think is much more fruitful for money, relationships, and life. Yeah. Because in the long run, the 2024 election, that's going to have very little impact, if any, of your relationship with money throughout the years. Right.


The one outcome that I can be sure of at the 2024 election is there's gonna be stuff going on in the world, and things are gonna go up and down. Yeah, that's probably about the same as they normally do. Yeah. It's a Thursday. It's happening right now.


So this is good. So the bottom line is, if you bump into KDRI on the street and we're having a conversation, don't worry, we're not gonna pitch you. But hopefully we're learning to ask better questions. The key. Absolutely.


Thanks for tuning in to this episode of simply why, a podcast about money and purpose. We hope you enjoyed getting to know us, how we approach leading a financial advisory practice, and the work we do every day to help families and couples make important financial decisions. Morton Brown Family Wealth, Family wealth is an SEC registered investment advisor. This podcast is designed for educational and informational purposes and not intended as investment advice. More information can be found at


that really was a great start. That was like. That was like an a plus start. You missed it. Maddie goes in the hall of Fame.


You totally missed it. It's on the cutting room floor, but we'll bring it again. Higher energy. Here we go.