Ep 037

Using Asset Map to Simplify Complexity & Create Meaningful Client Conversations


Adam Holt

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Inside This Episode

Today, I’m joined by Adam Holt, the founder and CEO of Asset-Map, a fintech platform that helps advisors facilitate more meaningful conversations with clients by streamlining high-level data into a simple report.

Early in his career as an advisor, Adam was frustrated with the material available to him for client meetings. The overly detailed financial reports didn’t help clients make better decisions — they just made clients confused. To fix the problem, Adam created and introduced Asset-Map to his own practice, helping grow his AUM to nearly $1B in under a decade.

Today, you’ll hear why clients respond so well to simplicity in financial planning, how to use fintech to ask better questions in client meetings, and how to create a company culture that prioritizes life over business.

3 of the biggest insights from Adam Holt

  • #1 How to bridge the gap between the financial planning data advisors have and the implementable financial advice clients want.

  • #2 3 tips for financial advisors who are struggling to stop working so much without sacrificing the upside potential of their business.

  • #3 Defining your values and taking an intentional approach to organizing your calendar to create the proper time distribution between life and business.


  • How Adam unexpectedly became a fintech CEO
  • Finding success through simplicity
  • How to ask better questions as an advisor
  • Why financial tools shouldn’t recommend products
  • Exposure to life-changing education
  • Helping employees prioritize life over business
  • How to build a culture by example
  • Decreasing your workload by defining your values
  • The value of a “work spouse”
  • Why to find a coach outside your inner circle
  • Being mindful of what matters







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  • The sooner we can get to a place where we let other people in to help us rationalize and come to better conclusions, the stronger we get.” – Adam Holt

  • The key is being mindful of what matters, drawing boundaries, and recognizing you don’t have to do it perfectly everyday. It’s a game of average shots. That’s what the best golfers say, right? It’s not about making a hole in one every shot. It’s about a game of average shots and you just work on that constantly.” – Adam Holt

  • “We had a mandate that anything we ever created had to fit on one page, 8.5 x 11. It didn’t matter how complicated it was to get it to one page because our wealthiest clients, they’re not paying you for reading 80-page financial planning reports. They’re paying you for a concise and clear executive summary.” – Adam Holt

  • “The wealthiest clients I knew about, they didn’t care about the money… They cared about what their money meant, what they were going to do with it, how they were going to leave a testament to their values, to their legacy.” – Adam Holt

Brad Johnson: Welcome back to another episode of Do Business Do Life. Really excited to have Adam Holt on the show today. Welcome to the show, Adam.

Adam Holt: Thanks, Brad. Awesome to be here with you.

Brad Johnson: Well, we were just chatting pre-record button here and we had a podcast before a podcast, so this would be fun. This conversation, I don’t even know where it’s going to go at this point but I know it’s going to be fun.

Adam Holt: I agree. Thank you.

Brad Johnson: And then we did a podcast for your show. So, I feel like today is my day of Adam Holt. So, this has already been a great day.

Adam Holt: That’s really sweet. Thanks, man.

Brad Johnson: Well, so let’s dive in. Really, how we first connected was kind of through the Asset-Map journey. That’s kind of the more recent journey but you’ve got a really fun journey in finance. And it really started by being a financial advisor out in the trenches. And I love the fact that the product, the company that you now run today was born out of a need as a financial advisor. I’ve just seen that happen so many times in finance where something amazing happens when you’re trying to actually solve for your own problems. So, maybe we start the journey there and then I have a feeling we’re probably going to rewind to the story you just told about your mom and Tony Robbins and Jim Rohn. But let’s start maybe present day and maybe we’ll go backwards from there.

Adam Holt: All right. Fine. Then we’ll see where this journey takes us. So, first of all, thanks for having me. And also, thanks for doing what you do. I recognize when you start creating passionate attempts to help and lift others, it really just shows the measure of the person. So, thanks for having me and thanks for including me on this journey with you. The Asset-Map journey…

Brad Johnson: I appreciate that man.

Adam Holt: Yeah, absolutely, man. The Asset-Map journey has been an interesting one because I don’t think I was ever expecting to be a fintech CEO, right, the financial technology, as we call it today. I was a financial advisor like many of the peers. I mean, you joked even in our own podcasts on Rethink about how in our business, I started in the life insurance side in a career agency. I remember I thought I was going to be a financial planner. I was excited by this idea of being a financial planner and then I realized I’m an insurance agent. So, I’m a life insurance agent. I had no market. I had no community in Philadelphia. I’m originally from New York City, as I told you. I didn’t have wealthy parents. Single mom raised us. So, I do network. So, my list of first hundred people to call was 50 people. And I remember struggling with all my peers trying to figure out the business. I think it was very much a Hunger Games mentality. Who can survive? And if you could survive, then perhaps you would thrive. You know how they say, be underpaid for the first five years, be overpaid for the rest of your life. That kind of compelled me to keep going but, frankly, I wasn’t a great salesperson. I was a real, as you know, kind of a little bit on my roots in history. I was really interested in empathy. I was really interested in communication, alignment on values.

And here I was trying to sell life insurance to cold calls. I found out actually early on, though, that if I delivered value, if I did analysis, if I helped people figure out what they really wanted, no surprise, as an advisor, then actually I got some responses. So, I became a CFP very early, started doing financial planning. I did it for free. It was always a sales enablement process, but I built such relationship, credibility, people started actually doing the business with me. And within the second year, I was already the number one or number two in the agency in my group. And I was a little bit of a dark horse. It was a weird one. Nobody really understood that but I had an art background and I started drawing what I understood to be going on in these people’s lives. Right? They had some complexity. We all deal with that. We use yellow pads for years. That’s what we grew up in the 90s and early 2000s. And I would just draw out what I understood to be the relationship of the family and their money. And eventually, that became something that was so prolific for me that I started doing it again and again. And by 2006, I got a compliance approved because I had started doing some serious production and they took a gamble on me.

And in 2006, I tripled my production and in 2007 I tripled again, and then in 2008, I tripled it again. And literally, if you can do that math, you can figure I went from making less than six figures to over seven figures in three years in my thirties, and all of a sudden it got noticed. So, I took all that money and invested back in my business and I built a tech company for myself. By the way, it was a mess. I wasted so much money, Brad, learning effectively what not to do. That was the start of Asset-Map.

Brad Johnson: And the story of an entrepreneur: waste a bunch of money while you figure out what you’re supposed to actually do. So, let’s go back to the we were talking before we hit record that you had an art background. And I said, “I read somewhere you like to doodle.” You’re like, “Hell, yeah. There’s art all over my house.” So, let’s go back to version 1.0 pre-Asset-Map. How were you taking what were yellow pad drawings or was it also whiteboard? Would you hop up on the board as well?

Adam Holt: Absolutely.

Brad Johnson: How did that become your first version of Asset-Map and technology? Where did that jump happen?

Adam Holt: So, I went back and founded many years ago. 2002, I actually submitted to the trademark office my first copyright of Asset-Map. That’s just unbelievable how long it is. 2002 and 2003 and 2004, I knew the concept was it’s an engineering challenge. I wasn’t thinking about it until you asked me this question, but the challenge with our business is that we are trained as technical professionals. Most consumers that want to work with someone who knows more than them are looking for someone with some competence. Usually, it comes with a designation or years in the business or a referral, but in general, we tend to believe that we need to provide a more technical analysis to justify the recommendation that we’re going to make based upon what’s going on in their life and they value, right? That’s the typical approach to advice as a sales enablement process. Ultimately, we got compensated in many ways from the solutions that we placed, and we were agnostic. We really didn’t care early on who we placed the business with. It was more about the process, and that process tended to need to be technical. The challenge with an artistic rendering of that is that it tends to become Fisher Price and, of course, makes us look like, “Oh, these guys are too simple or simplistic.” The death word in a technical profession, simplistic, it’s almost derogatory.

So, the question was how do I create something that is consumable, that anyone can look at it and start to break it apart kind of like a Tetris or Rubik’s Cube? It looks intimidating but when you learn it, it’s actually, “Okay. This is kind of fun,” and still have technical preeminence so that there you go, “So, I see you holding a Rubik’s Cube,” so that you can actually have a very deep and rich conversation. And I came up with this design principle called Simple Rich, and some of the best presentations that we ever created were one page. In fact, we had a mandate that anything we ever created had to fit on one page, 8.5 x 11. It didn’t matter how complicated it was to get it to one page because our wealthiest clients, they’re not paying you for reading 80-page financial planning report. They’re paying you for a concise and clear executive summary that they’re going to hand to their doers, their attorneys, their accountants, their spouses, and say, “Here’s what we talked about. You’re welcome.” And so, Asset-Map really had a mandate. Can we take all the complexity of their family, all the financial instruments they have, all the people and entities they control that represents their financial household, build them a standardized map that you and I looked at it, we instantly know what we saw.

We understood it just like an X-ray. I know where your arms are and your legs are. I’m not a doctor but I kind of can figure out where your legs are and your ribs, etcetera. Okay. You follow me? So, the key was to do this. Once we had it drawn, I said, “Well, it was really me but I had it drawn and I had my Power Planner and I would give it to him and say, “Okay. Redraw this in some kind of tool.” He found Visio, which was actually bought by Microsoft as it’s basically an engineering tool and he created these things. And he would give them to me before every meeting that I would go. I’d print out my Morningstar and my e-Money and my Asset-Map and I would go to these meetings. And the funny thing is that I would use the asset map for myself. I would draw all over it, everything that needed to change, move the money here, do this stuff. And I would use it as a way to give my staff the ability to say, “Here’s the executive summary for you because we’re in a meeting. You don’t know what we’re supposed to do,” and I would explain the structure of the household for them to execute my recommendations and take care of everything. They would put it into CRM.

And here was the moment that happened, Brad. And it’s really well-known as I’ve told the story a couple of times but effectively what happened is I went down to one of my biggest clients. He was in Washington, D.C. It was a two-hour drive. I went down there. I had my huge packets. I went by myself because we had a relationship. His wife couldn’t make the meeting. I’m sitting at his kitchen table, old school, and he sees me drawing all over the asset map and he literally just takes it from me. And he’s like, “What is this?” And I said, “Well, this is what I use to basically organize all your life. It’s how I manage everything for myself.” And he says, “You see this huge packet of crap?” He says, “I don’t want you ever bringing this again, okay? I’m not going to read it. I’m going to put it in the filing system, a.k.a. the shredder. My wife is annoyed with me because she doesn’t know what’s going on and you keep thinking you’re delivering to me value, but all you’re delivering is complexity to me, and it’s forcing me to trust you. I don’t feel like I understand what’s going on in my life. You bring this map back for me.” And I was like, “Oh, so you want the map, too?” And he’s like, “Yes, this is exactly what I’ve been asking for. I just don’t know how to explain it.” And so, that treasure map idea, I was like, “Okay. We’re going to just deliver it to everybody.”

And that’s when everything blew up in a good way. That was the kind of necessity, as you talked about it, that mother of invention, that enabled me to see the light, that it wasn’t just me that had challenge with the complexity and understanding what to do. So did they. And that’s when it changed the game.

Brad Johnson: And it took a really blunt East Coaster to call you out on it. That’s what I love. It’s like, “Just give me the damn map.”

Adam Holt: That’s right. I don’t care about all your analysis. That analysis is for you. Don’t bring me that.

Brad Johnson: That’s funny.

Adam Holt: Isn’t it?

Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, couple of thoughts off of that. I heard you say executive summary a handful of times, and I love that because the analogy we’re using coaching a lot is, big politics aside, but let’s just say people that run countries. You know, the president of the United States of America, they have blocks of data. So, it’s like, here’s what’s going on in Russia, Ukraine, here’s what’s going on in the China trade war. And I’m sure it’s like just stacks of reports and intel and all of that. But how do you make decisions? Well, it has to be summarized into like high-level takeaways so that you don’t get paralysis by analysis like, “Okay. A or B? Go with B. Execute.” And I see the same thing happen in finance. And part of it is suitability compliance. I get that. But I also think some of it is hiding behind data. It’s like an ego thing in our space where it’s like let’s make it so complex that they don’t understand it and I don’t understand half of it either. And I love that you’re just slicing through that where it’s here’s a summary of the stuff that actually matters so that you can actually understand what your money is doing and how it can serve you.

Is there anything? Let’s just focus on the executive summary piece so that everything has to fit on one page, which now one-page financial plan has become like a new thing in finance I feel like that you were kind of ahead of the game when this was happening in the early 2000. So, what are your thoughts around just the psychology behind it and why it’s just resonating at a different level?

Adam Holt: You know, now that I’m thinking about it because you’re asking a great question, and I actually don’t think that Asset-Map is a one-page financial plan. What it is, is it’s a one-page transparent inventory of the financial decisions and indecisions you have made to this point. It is merely a current picture of what is the truth today. And what it enables an advisor to do is now ask better questions. Does this IRA, as an example, does this policy, does this annuity, does this cash management, does this crypto account, does that serve you in what matters? Is it efficient? Is it aligned? Is it redundant? Why do we have it? If we can’t answer those questions, it doesn’t deserve to be here. We’re getting rid of it. It is creating financial clutter for which you will be intimidated, paralyzed, and you won’t take action. And so, one of the things I think advisors need to do a better job of is actually helping people understand what they have in their financial closet, if you will, take it all out, dump it on the bed, let’s go through it, put these things on one at a time. You’re going to find half the stuff you have doesn’t fit. I got too much money tied up in it and I don’t wear it. It’s got holes in it because I still have from college, but it’s got sentimental value.

Like, how many times do we see clients with large stock positions still in cert form because they inherited from grandpa and they don’t want to sell it because, “It’s got Grandpa’s stocks. Don’t touch it.” But meanwhile, it’s in something completely underperforming. Grandpa would have sold that crap a year ago. The reality of the decisions that we’ve made just in our life, the same. By the way, when we hold the mirror to ourselves, sometimes we need someone to help inspect the closet with us. Otherwise, we don’t hold ourselves accountable in the same way. You know this from coaching. And so, in many ways, I found that just putting the current inventory in front of a professional in collaboration with you on the same side of the table helped us be honest about this stuff and educate us to what these things do and how it serves us. The second part was actually what would I call the one-page financial plan, which is progress the goal, right? Are we on the right track of funding? And if not, what do you need to save, insure, invest? That’s the mathematical aspect, which I was arguing was page two. And we were able to get retirement planning down to one page. So, that’s a two-page presentation but I tend to take awareness of this idea of a one-page financial plan as basically just being a dashboard.

What I think we’re trying to do differently is let’s make sure we’re on the same page, literally. And that means inventory and who matters and why are we doing what we’re doing. And then let’s figure out how we can add incremental value on an ongoing basis.

Brad Johnson: I love the closet analogy. That’s a first. I’ve been doing this a long time. I haven’t heard that one. What I’ve seen a lot and we’ve talked about it some on this show, humans have biases. We all know this. Financial advisors have biases. And oftentimes, it’s the religion that you grew up with in this business. You started out, like you said, selling life insurance over the phone. Well, that was your religion until you maybe were exposed to other religions or had a more holistic view of the industry, and I look at them like tools in a toolbox. There’s not a bad, well, I’m sure there are bad tools but if it’s a vetted financial product, a regulated financial product, it’s a tool that probably deserves to be in the toolbox. The question is, what are you building in the first place? And so, if I don’t know what I’m building like if I need to build a home and somebody says, “Hammers are bad,” really? Are they? Because last time I checked, you probably need a hammer to build a house or a screwdriver or whatever that tool is. And so, it sounds like just me pulling themes out of this conversation so far. What tools are in the toolbox or what outfits are in the closet? And what purpose do they serve? And do they still serve a purpose, yes, no, based on where you’re at in life and where you want to go? So, very, very similar thought process there.

So, the other thing, I feel like what you describe the executive summary is almost like a current snapshot in time. Like the old-school Polaroids that we used to know, which I think are coming back these days. So, here’s the Polaroid of today. And then the second piece of that is the financial plan. Do you consider that almost like a before and after snapshot where it’s like, “Here you are today. Here’s where you want to go,” or would you describe it differently?

Adam Holt: So, I hadn’t thought about it that way but I’ll tell you how I was thinking about it. When we designed Asset-Map under this simple, rich guideline, it had to be simple enough to be consumable but technically rich enough that I could go deep if I wanted to talk about corporate-owned life insurance or trust-owned islets. And I wanted to talk about what this GMIB product did and I needed to explain something complicated. I could still do that in the framework of Asset-Map. But one of the things I realized is that the past doesn’t matter. The past doesn’t matter. I don’t care about performance history because I can’t change it and it doesn’t have to reflect the decisions I make today going forward based upon the past. Okay. Those are almost always emotional decisions. And I don’t care about that. That’s why I need a picture of where we are right now. What’s in your pockets right now? Empty them. Put them on the table. What’s in the closet? What’s in the toolbox? Let’s go in the garage and let’s bring them all out. That was an important aspect of removing not only the intimidation but also the judgment because it is true. A lot of people in their financial inventory, they have some good stuff.

They have some stuff that could be better, and then they’re just outright missing some stuff. Greatest example is the number of people that don’t have disability coverage. Massive relative to the risk. Life insurance also incredibly underfunded. Savings, surprisingly weighted towards retirement funding and not so much on the non-qualified side. We see this because we have the data, but it’s pretty obvious, right? Pretty consistent what people tend to have, especially in the States. So, it’s the current state that matters because that’s what we’re working on is are we going to continue to make the same decisions we made today, tomorrow, or are we making a change? As you know, Jim Rohn said, right? Nothing changes until something changes. If, in fact, there is something that needs attention, we just want to know what the current state is. I don’t care about the past. That was before me. I wasn’t involved. Okay. We don’t even have to worry about it. What are we going to do today for tomorrow? So, the past doesn’t matter. The future I can’t control. So, let’s not get stuck in the future. That being said, in any GPS system, I kind of want to know if I’m driving someplace when I’m going to arrive reasonably.

So, we did build a future forecasting model we call Target-Maps, which attempts to in 30 seconds, basically, give me the straight line path to achieving that cash flow goal in the future. You can imagine most of the time it’s retirement, education, funding because we need to know effectively how much gas we need to put into that project. What’s interesting about that, though, is when we designed it, we use the idea that I want to get a one-page financial forecast, not a plan, just the forecast to tell me whether I’m on track or I’m not on track. I want to know if I’m going to arrive at Nana’s on time for dinner or I’m not. I got to call and say, “Listen, I’m going to be late.” “I need to know if I’m on track. How far am I on track?” Most clients want to know you’re 70% funded towards retirement. Okay. I can understand that idea. “Adam, what is it going to take for me to be 100% funded?” That’s what people want to know. To cover that remaining 30%, you need to save $1,200 a month and I need to figure out a way to earn 5% on your money net of fees. I don’t know what products we’re going to use. I don’t know whether we’re using an annuity or life or investment mutual funds. I don’t care. I’m never going to tell you what product to use. That has to be in a professional decision based upon what matters to you and your values and what you care about.

All right. So, Asset-Map will never tell you what to invest in because I don’t think it’s a technology’s role to tell you, “You’re on the ground. You know the person.” And you might have, as you said, religious bias around certain things that’s not my game. I don’t care about that. If the client trusts you, you’re the advocate. You’re driving that Uber. But the GPS needs to be able to tell you clearly what you need to do even when you’re overfunded and you can put that capital to some other project. So, I think the better thing for financial planning tools to do, ultimately, give you a picture where you are, force a conversation that’s intentional and nonjudgmental, and then give you a feedback as to whether you’re on track for major goals and then have a discussion about what you can do about it. And that’s where we should stop.

Brad Johnson: I love it. I love the thought process because I’m in an industry that runs off of illustrations. We’re both in an industry, I should say. And the truth is, you’re right. It doesn’t matter. I once had a friend. Dustin, if you’re listening to this, you’ll appreciate the story. But we walked into a casino and we were in our twenties, probably 24, 25 years old. And he is a like a very smart individual, like, perfect math, ACT sort of kid that was just a very gifted student. And he walked up and he looked at the roulette table, and I don’t remember if it was red or black but it had landed on red or black like 17 straight times. So, let’s just say it was red. It was like 17 straight times on red and he’s like, “Well, it’s going to have to land on black.” So, he pulls out like $100 that’s black. Red.

Adam Holt: Yeah. I’ve been there.

Brad Johnson: Doubles down. He’s like, “Well, I’m just going to have to even.

Adam Holt: You have to double.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, on black again. Red. And then he’s like, “Well, there’s only so many times this can happen.” And the third time it hits green. And so, anyway, it’s funny, like because the truth is past performance, it’s the same. Like, obviously when it comes to a table, it’s the same probability every time there’s a new spin. But, yeah, I think a lot of, unfortunately, financial advisors like to steer the car by looking at the rearview mirror. It’s like, “No, we’re going to look through the windshield. That’s where we need to be looking.” So, I love that thought process. So, okay, I know our time is limited. This is Do Business Do Life. I’m going to shift. We talked. I said we did a podcast before the podcast. We’ll see if we don’t get to have the full story, maybe we go back and take some of that and do like outtakes or something. But you said a couple of things. And you live life really intentionally. We were talking about the fact that your non-negotiable is you’re home by 5:30 for family dinner time. Another non-negotiable, you wanted your office in a place where you could walk from home to work on the daily. But here’s where I believe it started. You told me a really cool story about your mom and how you were a big city kid, The City, the Big Apple, and she was a single mom. And you all relocated when you were a kid to Philly. And you told me just the personal development journey that she started you on and then where that evolved. And I think that is such a cool lesson as a parent and just like this modeling behavior. So, I’m going to just throw you the mic and let you run and tell us whatever piece of that story you think makes sense.

Adam Holt: Well, thanks. What Brad’s referring to is, so I grew up from a single mom. You’re right. Her parents were first-generation immigrants, and she grew up in the Bronx with five kids. And it’s an important story because I think a lot of us can relate to, especially we had Boomer parents. They grew up in a different time, a revolutionary time relative to their own generation. And she had gone to high school and worked her way up in New York law firms to become a leader of a large global law firm on her high school education. So, she was a force already. And they got divorced, my parents, when I was five. So, she was basically a single mom and an executive in New York City. And I learned to love the city and walk around. I walked to school. Third grade, I was walking to school by myself like it was a different time in New York City.

Brad Johnson: Wow. Yeah.

Adam Holt: And I think that gave me more awareness of, I think, maybe cultural diversity. My friends looked all different. And we did come to Philadelphia because she got relocated for a job and I went through the whole suburban life. I went to Lower Merion High School. A lot of people know it because of Kobe Bryant and I graduated a year before he started. So, unfortunately, I didn’t get to see that but it was a much different world than New York City. But I remember, she had become a realtor after a couple of years of taking care of her own parents who wound up following us down here. And the reason why that’s relevant is because she was of that generation that believed you took care of your own and as a single mother now taking care of both of her parents in the sandwich generation, we didn’t have a lot of money, right? We made ends meet. She did good by me, and she had to quit her job to take care of her parents. So, when you think about long-term care as a topic, I love talking about long-term care because I lived that one. I saw what it did to her personally, financially. She became a realtor and she went to a seminar.

The seminar was, I didn’t know about at the time, but she comes home all fired up, Brad, like I’m talking bouncing off the walls. And I’m like, “What’s wrong with you?” She said, “I just went to the most unbelievable seminar,” and I’m thinking, “That’s dumb, Mom.” Sixteen years old, right? She said, “No, I went to this Tony Robbins one-day seminar and I signed us up for the weekend seminar. Are you coming with me?” And I’m like, “I can’t do that. I’ve got crew practice. I’m a rower.” This is like, “I got friends. I’m going to do that stuff.” She’s like, “You’re coming with me.” “All right. Fine. I’m going to tell you, we’re going to walk on hot coals on Friday night barefoot.” So, now I thought that was kind of interesting and figured, “All right. Now, I tell my friends I walked on coals. I’ll have to put up with this stupid seminar for four days.” And I went. And of course, you know, the moral of the story is I had an unbelievable experience. It was all about personal development. It was Tony Robbins. His weekend seminar. He used to do that in the old days, and at the end of that, I was so fired up and she said, “I think we should do more. We’re going to learn to grow. You’re going to get unbelievable skills.” Everybody around me was all adults, right? They were adults interested in personal development. I was the youngest guy in the room. They’re like telling me, “Oh my gosh, if I knew this when I was your age, what would that do for me?” Right? Classic.

Of course, you don’t know anything when you’re a kid. And we did this. We wound up going to his, at the time, two-week program in Hawaii. It cost us more money than we had. So, my mom literally took $10,000 out of her savings for my college fund, and we went to this two-week program. Totally changed my life in terms of awareness. I’m not to say he’s a guru in the sense of that, but more in terms of I was just exposed to ideas of development and attitude and mindset and perseverance and pushing through and watching a bunch of old people break down, at the time old people, I’m older than them now, on basic failures through their life, things they didn’t take care of, regrets, all of these things. And I’m like, “Holy crap.” And I learned a language, Brad. And as we joked, she used to play Jim Rohn tapes all the time as we drove everywhere and I was indoctrinated in coaching and she became a coach, a personal development coach after that, which was kind of funny. So, that whole experience was really transformative for me because I got to come home and I probably matured five years by the time I was 17, and we wound up staffing and getting very involved. What I didn’t tell you is that because I had this artistic kind of intent, I wound up learning mind mapping.

Mind mapping is a process of drawing out which basically taking note, taking this visual form. I learned it there, and I actually was when I would go to these events, my mom and I would switch off being mind mappers for Tony’s entire notes. So, they didn’t like record everything and have it transcribed by ChatGPT back then. We’re talking 1992, 1991, 1995. Someone had to take notes. So, guess what I got to do? I got to sit in the back the entire event after that for the next several years and literally just sit there, absorb this stuff. So, I got to be a real, I think, student of this just absorption but ironically, guess what I wound up doing with it? The mapping became so critical to me that when I got into finance, Asset-Maps came out of that mind mapping. So, in a strange way, it all tied itself to how do you communicate visually so that Tony could read it at the end of the day, but also make it compelling that anybody could pick it up and follow it. I think that’s really the roots of Asset-Map. Full circle.

Brad Johnson: Such a cool story. Such a cool story. Well, you know what? The way I frame that in my head is your mom took you to college early with that 10K.

Adam Holt: Yeah, that’s what she said.

Brad Johnson: She just frontloaded it. She’s like, “Now, we’re just going to college at 16. End school.”

Adam Holt: Yeah. Now, she didn’t go to college, too. Yeah. She’s like, “This is more valuable than college. I didn’t go to college. You’re going to learn this.” But, yeah, it’s an amazing thing. It’s a huge bond between us two even to this day. She’s in her late seventies and she’s unbelievable. She’s still a powerhouse.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, the other thing and when we talk do business, do life, we were talking about your home or family dinner at a set time. It’s a non-negotiable. And you almost did it as a check for yourself but then if you are a couple of minutes late, your wife’s like, “Hey, what’s going on here?” And my wife is the exact same. But what you’re doing there, there’s something else going on that your mom did for you. She was modeling a behavior. So, it’s one thing to tell your kids to be a lifelong student, continue to invest in yourself, read books, all of that. But she was doing it besides you. So, that’s the other thing is I look at the lesson she taught you and that is like, “I’m not done learning. You shouldn’t be either.” And now you’re in your activities, you’re modeling, “Hey, it’s important. Dad’s home for family dinner. This is a non-negotiable.” No business meeting is worth that tradeoff. So, what other thoughts do you have around that, Adam? I just think it’s really cool to see that, how it was played out when you’re a kid to how that translates to you as a dad now.

Adam Holt: Gosh. There are probably plenty of things that I tend to do that I don’t even realize. I have this unconscious competence around being aware, focused, listening, not reacting to, you know, we all deal with challenges and issues, things that we didn’t expect or weren’t really excited to happen. I think there are a couple of things I try to model for my daughter. She’s 12 now, which also include being present. That’s a big one for me, being present. Of course, growing up in a divorced family, one of them wasn’t present, right? So, I’m trying to undo that, maybe hyper-focused on outdoing that or turning that tide because it was a big gap in my life for many years, for sure, having one parent. And I didn’t want to create that for my daughter. I wanted to be present, too. And actually, it’s interesting because in the practice, the financial planning practice that I had helped to build, I also saw my own mentors and they were extremely successful on the insurance side. That’s where they started and I want to building their investment team and then eventually taking over their practice and bringing in partners now that they run the business. They have been very blessed in that regard.

But the reason I mentioned it is because they had two components that they really taught me. They’re like surrogate fathers, if you will. Right? And one thing that still sticks with me today, very present for their families. They’re at every baseball game, every whatever their kids have, performance, recital, everything. And so, for me, that is also my mantra. I do that. It plays through for every single one of my employees. Now, if you calculate the two firms, you’re talking 60, 70 people. Every single one of them is done at 5:00. Every single one of them is not allowed to miss a recital, a game, a medical emergency for their family at all. They’re not allowed to. It’s when they get hired, I literally tell them, “This is the ethos of our workplace. And I’m doing this because I believe that I’m going to support you in these moments and your team’s going to support you. When you have moments that require that you show up for life, I’m going to expect that you’re going to be there and we will cover you as long as you’re communicative. With us, we dropped the ball and leave the field like pass the ball and then leave the field. We got you.” And that’s something that I learned from them. We were able to do that when we had a small firm but as we’ve grown at Asset-Map, that’s something that’s been really important to me. And I think that they led by that example and I’m trying to keep that going to be there and be present. It goes very much along with, I think, your whole ethos of being present and doing life and doing business to support that life, right?

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Number one, I love that. I may borrow that.

Adam Holt: You can have it.

Brad Johnson: One of the things. Well, thank you. I was going to say steal but I don’t want to steal it.

Adam Holt: Yeah. No, no, I gave it to you. There you go. I gave it to you. There you go.

Brad Johnson: Thank you. Appreciate it.

Adam Holt: Use it well.

Brad Johnson: Thank you. I will be a good steward of it. Yeah, I think that’s what’s really interesting because I’ve seen, you know, you have the founder of the firm and sometimes it’s almost the selfish thing where it’s, “I will build a team so I can have that.” And the truth is no team is going to stick around if they feel like they’re some ruler in their throne that just does whatever they want. And so, I love the fact that that’s part of your hiring process and part of your culture where it’s like, “I want this for me and I also want this for you.” And we definitely do a lot of that at Triad when it comes to do business, do life but I would say we haven’t gone to the level where it’s like, if you’re here past 5 p.m., that’s not okay. And so, I love just kind of this line that you’ve drawn. So, here’s my question. Because some people have just like we talked about baggage or growing up in a certain religion, I found that very true people have baggage from previous employers. And so, let’s say they come from one of these grinded-out firms and you’re walking out the door and you consistently see them at their desk. How does that play out in your internal culture? Is it like you literally say, “Let me open the door and walk you out with me,” or how does that play out?

Adam Holt: Well, the irony is that in the last three years, nobody comes into the office but me. So, we moved all 45 people remote and they are working from home. But, look, it’s funny because one might think that I’m a bit of a hypocrite because I do work late nights. The way that I organize my life, Brad, is and it’s literally everything in my calendar is intentional. If it’s not on my calendar, it’s not going to happen. I learned that a long time ago because I tend to be all over the place. My friends say I’ve got A.D.D. and I’m like, “No, I just love lots of different things.” But the reality is I’ve learned for myself and the kind of time management side that I’ve got to block out everything including it’s time for you to go. Now, not everybody follows that or doesn’t need that level of regimen to execute the vision of what I’m talking about. But even going back to my practice, there was a time when I had learned from another coach. I’ve always kept a coach just on staff for me personally. I have a personal coach, learn that, and I switch every three or four years just to kind of upgrade or just get a different perspective once I think I’ve absorbed everything from that moment. Okay. Now, you’re going to be a friend, okay, I’m going to switch coaches. But the point is, is that one of them a long time ago said, “Can you compress your time? What do you really want, Adam?” I said, “I want time because I want to have experiences.” I was in my thirties. I was making more money than I need.

I said, “Well, let me see if I can make the same amount of money in three days.” And so, I just said, “Okay. I’m going to learn how to compress my time.” And then I said, “Well, let me see if I could do it in two days.” And I actually got it down to one day. I was working one day a week in our business of financial services and making the same amount of money because I just decided what I can work on and it was very intentional. It wasn’t perfect. It sounds all, you know, great. But the point is I just wanted to prove I could do it. Just like when I went back to, I had never gotten good grades in college because I didn’t really try. I went back to business school. I said, “Okay. I’m going to see if I can get straight As.” And I did because I was intentional about it. Right? So, learning this idea about actually choosing a life by design, right, I think which you can relate to is, well, what can I do? And now all of a sudden, I had all this time. What was I going to do? Let’s start a tech company. Let’s just actually try this thing. And that’s what I do with all my time. So, even today, if I look at my calendar, four days a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday I work from 10:00 at night until midnight on all the stuff that I can’t get done as a CEO from 9 to 5 or 8:30 really to 5.

Okay. Because no way, by the way, I could get it all done, not with the level of stuff I’m doing. But the thing is, is that I love the work I’m doing and I know it’s purpose-driven and so it doesn’t feel like work. But that’s the time when my daughter is sleeping from 10:00 on. That’s when I can go focus on my creative time and I can build and I can imagine then I can design and my client and my whole team will know that I’ll write emails in the middle of the night and do all that stuff, but I don’t expect them to respond. And that’s the important aspect. They know that I’m not going to be a maniac about it because we’ve already set the precedent of that’s your family time. You work so you can have a family life, right? You don’t live so you could work. That’s the mindset shift.

Brad Johnson: I love that. Yeah. Love the structure. All right. Two places I want to go from here. Let’s focus on the financial advisor office or offices out there first. And I don’t know that we fully unpack the whole journey, but you had a very successful journey in being an independent financial advisor where you and some partners grew a firm. I think 1.3 billion before you exited under management? 1.2?

Adam Holt: Yeah. Well, they’re still going. I just sold my piece back to them so that I could focus on this.

Brad Johnson: And it was during the let’s call it the later stages before you exit, where you whittle it down from five days to four to three to two to one. That’s when that happened?

Adam Holt: Totally. Absolutely.

Brad Johnson: Okay. So, let’s focus on you’re giving advice to financial advisors out there, many of which are like, “Man, I don’t feel like I can get it done in five days. I’m going in on Saturdays. I’m kind of grinding it out.” You know, everything actually, we talked about on the episode I did on your show. But if you said, “Hey, here are three tips I would give a financial advisor that’s really struggling to get it all done in a 40-hour workweek to where they could go to a 32 and then whittle it down from there,” what one, two, three things would you say?

Adam Holt: That’s easy. Ready? Hopefully, you’re writing this down. You got to know your priorities, first of all. What? Why? What are you doing? Why are you doing it? It’s just like the Asset-Map, actually. When you look at the inventory of your calendar or your finances or the people in your life or whatever it is that we’re looking at, we’re doing an inspection moment or an honest moment of looking in the mirror, right? Even if you wrote down all the things that you’re doing right now, can you answer why? And there are two ways to look at it, right? There’s the aspect of, am I doing stuff that, is my time really being invested in stuff that lifts me or serves my vision or goals of what I care about? Or is it a mathematical decision that it’s just the right hourly rate? Because I value the revenue generation because we know that that funds a bunch of these other projects and I have expectations, I got bills. Okay, fine. So, I can understand making a business decision based upon this is the right revenue-producing activity. And one of the things that I, you know, kind of matching the two of those things, what I really want to do and have an outcome and what I need to do because I’ve made obligations and that’s dependent upon the numbers can be in conflict.

And there’s no question that a lot of the people I know and I did early on too is I measured my success by the revenue I generated, especially kind of growing up, not having the money, but then seeing money and wanting to aspire to that and then like, “Oh, that’s the measure, as you’ve said, of success in our own podcast.” You said that, “What’s the measure of success?” Is it the trophy? Is it the production number or whatever, some obscure thing, some order of the knighthood or whatever, you know, these kind of archaic things that we’ve gotten used to being like that signifies success? Or I got to have the big car, I got to have a Porsche, or whatever the thing is, right? Finally getting to a point where you recognize that of the two things, values and money, they’re not even on the same plane. And we know this because I don’t know too many older individuals at the later stage of their life they’re saying, “Gosh, I wish I made more money.” But they are talking about how they want to turn their money into values from charity. The wealthiest clients I knew about, they didn’t care about the money. Maybe you can argue it’s because they had so much money, they didn’t care. They cared about what their money meant, what they were going to do with it, how they were going to leave a testament to their values, to their legacy.

And if you believe that that’s true, you can decide that today. There’s nothing stopping you from just deciding that today, that you’re creating your legacy right now. In fact, that’s what we’re talking about with our kids and investing in them. We’re making a legacy right now. And that’s why it’s so important to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. The second thing that I think is really critical that everybody should ask themselves is, what is your real hourly rate? What is the hourly rate that you need to make in order to justify the fact that you’re giving up time and values maybe for money? And hopefully, that’s the biggest number that you can create, the highest amount of leverage. And for me, I decided, okay, I want to make $1,000 an hour. Why? I don’t know. It sounded like a good number at the time. So, then I looked at my calendar. I said, “Is this a thousand dollar an hour work? Yes or no?” It wasn’t just yes or no. That’s what my coach told me. He said, “Yes or no?” And of course, I’m like, “Well, what about $900 an hour?” No. It’s $1,000 or more an hour or I just choose a number and just draw a line and decide, right? Just like the 5:30 number. I mean, being home at 5:30. Once I decided whether the work I was doing was a thousand dollars an hour or not, everything that was not in my hourly rate gets delegated. And it turns out you know what the hourly rate is for the stuff you’re delegating is, right? $50 an hour?

Brad Johnson: Much less.

Adam Holt: $3 an hour? Like, what are we talking about? He’s like, “You’re stupid. You’re focusing on the wrong thing when you’re trying to figure out, ‘Well, what’s the most…’” I’ll focus on the $820. I can do that work. “No. Adam, you say you’re going to make $1,000 an hour. That’s what your time is worth. How do you do that work?” And so, that’s what I did, and I would do it all on Tuesday. Tuesday, a thousand dollar an hour work, and the rest of the week I’m basically making money on other people’s efforts, which is the core business. When you realize that the only way to really scale and grow a business is to actually leverage the value of other people’s efforts, pay them handsomely for the work that they do, participate on the upside of it. Every business is designed this way. And I think that’s the thing that a lot of entrepreneurs forget. They think they have to do 100% of the rainmaking and 100% of the execution because it represents them. This is, “It’s me. They’re buying me.” Not really, actually. They’re buying an experience and expectations. They’re buying confidence. They’re buying relationship. And how you deliver to them is actually how you design it. And it doesn’t have to be really all around you. So, I think those are the really kind of bigger aspects, number one, values. Decide what you really want, whether you really need to make $1 million or whether you’re okay with less and your time back because that’s really what’s more valuable. And then decide really what is your hourly rate.

Brad Johnson: I love that. And the cool thing you went from hourly rate focusing on that, prioritizing your activities that matched that hourly rate. But the second piece of that that I heard was surround yourself with an incredible team that you can delegate the rest to. And typically, your drudgery zone is their desire zone. Well, obviously, if you have a good hiring process, so you’re actually taking something that you probably hate, that you procrastinate, that you suck at, and you’re actually gifting it to somebody else, and it’s a career path and so you’re offering them opportunity. And I got a little flash of a Steve Jobs quote that I heard the other day and he was asked, I forget who was interviewing him, but they said, “What is the product you’re proudest of?” And of course, if we know Apple, where do we go? We’re like iPhone, iPod. Maybe it was the original Macintosh. And I’m kind of like, which one was it? He said, “The fact that we were able at Apple to attract A+ talent, that was the product I was proudest of because that is the product that created all the other products we were known for.” And I’m like, you know, it’s like any business that out – and it’s obviously Apple’s outlasted Steve Jobs so he did something right where it outlasted him. And I think oftentimes we missed that in the world of finance where it was so like I focused, me focused because that’s how we grew up and that’s how we started out on the success path as a financial advisor.

Adam Holt: Yeah. That’s a great point. If you don’t mind, I want to beeline something that I left out because in trying to deliver value to those that have taken the time to listen to this, recognizing that we can help you in just a moment if just a glimpse, one of the bigger challenges that I had, quite frankly, was I had a hard time believing anybody could do it as well as me, right? So, this is kind of my own masochistic kind of, and I actually still deal with this issue today. I believe that I know too much. I have too much inside. I can tweak it. And so, therefore, I should do it or I must do it. I must oversee in this. And this is something I’ve been unlearning. One of the things that one of my coaches had told me was about traction, very popular book by Gino Wickman. Interestingly enough, Floyd Wickman, his father, was a Jim Rohm-style coach for real estate advisors and he listened to those tapes, too, which is ironic how it stayed in the family.

Brad Johnson: Wow.

Adam Holt: But Floyd Wickman and Gino Wickman if you ever check this stuff out, you probably find, I guess, however you find audio these days, wrote a book called Traction and Gino, it’s become the entrepreneurial operating system, EOS. Some of you know it. And one of the most resounding things I think from that is that there are really two general roles that you need in an organization, very rare that you have both, right? This idea of the kind of CEO visionary and then a secondary integrator, the person who doesn’t want to be in the front office but it’s really all about execution, accountability, implementation. And one of the things that I found for myself is I am really strong on the vision, probably too strong sometimes. I’m not great on the implementation. I got a thousand ideas, I need a support. And one of the things that I did and I invested and it’s worked so well for me is I guess maybe about eight years ago I put it out to the marketplace. I was like, “I need a chief of staff. I need a right-hand person.” I don’t know what they look like. I’ve never done this before. And I wrote this Jerry Maguire thing and I waited for a year for someone to show up. But someone did show up and he now runs three of my companies today after the trust was there.

And I can tell you today I would not have gotten where I am today without him. His name is Thomas and he’s an attorney by trade and complete opposite of me but we are like a team and that has been a huge catalyst for myself. And when you get blessed enough to find that work spouse, if you will, someone who’s on the same team, same values, you know how to fight, you know how to have fun together, it’s an unbelievable, I think, catalyst for getting you more of what you really want in life for both of you. We should all be seeking someone like that. Because the challenge with achieving some level of success is, like you said, you’ve sown all these plants. You can’t handle it. You really need to trust somebody who’s going to implement and maybe even do all the hiring that you’re not great at and build the team around you so you don’t micromanage that.

Brad Johnson: I love that. Thanks for adding that to the conversation. 1,000,000% agree there. Okay. Two more questions if we’re good here.

Adam Holt: Yeah, we’re good.

Brad Johnson: The first one is you’ve said this a couple of times, and I’ve just found it to be true with many top performers. I think it must have started with your mom, obviously, because she’s the one dragging you there to your first Tony Robbins. But oftentimes with success, arrogance starts to develop, not on purpose. Ego. You know, it’s like, “Oh, I’ve done this. I’ve done that.” And I’ve heard you say now, “My coach told me this. My coach told me that. I have a coach full-time on staff that every three or four years I kind of swap out for the next one.” Obviously, Tiger Woods was the world’s best golfer and he had a coach and then he changed his golf swing and evolved and adapted and all of that. So, was that day one in the business? Was that something you’re like, “Okay. I’m five years in. This really sucks. I need a coach.” So, two-part question. Where did that journey begin? And then what are your biggest learnings or takeaways? Maybe you’re just like, “Here’s my coaching crystal ball that I’ve gotten over the years,” that just have changed the way you thought or the trajectory of your business.

Adam Holt: You know, I was lucky enough to have, as you said, mentors. And we’ll call them familial coaches for a long time in those early development years. There was no way I was going to afford some coach at $3,000 or $4,000, $5,000 a month. I wouldn’t have even thought about that. I mean, that was more than my rent by far. But I did get to a point where I started hitting a certain level of scale that I’ve started getting, you know, I would call it daily anxiety. Like, “Oh, my God, how am I going to keep this up?” And it was actually recommended to me by my own mom who said, “You know what, you need a coach that’s not me, that’s not your mentors who is going to force you to think outside the box,” and I have found a way to afford one and get part of some coaching networks and got fractional coaches. But I think the real key is, as you I think well know is, it’s challenging to let someone into your world when you are always when, or sorry, not always, when you are starting to build your reputation. You’re trying to figure out who you are still. And so, we all know we’re honest with ourselves that we’ve got issues and flaws and failures and bumps in the road. We’re not perfect, but we have to put a face on, especially if we’re in leadership or we’re in sales that says we’re bulletproof, right? We got it all figured out.

And that’s a challenging thing because the daily persona doesn’t match the true insides. And I think the sooner we can get to a place where we let other people in to help us rationalize and come to better conclusions, the actually stronger we get. We all know getting outside of your comfort zone is the best way to grow but does that mean we push ourselves into those spaces? It’s weird because it came up this morning when our friend is dealing with a loss and she’s kind of stuck. She lost her mate in life and she’s stuck and she’s living in misery and she’s kind of stuck there. Sometimes the best friend we can be is the one that’s going to not only help them support them but also help them see themselves in the space and help them lift themselves out because they can’t stay there. And that sometimes is tough. And I don’t know that a lot of friends can play that role because it really forces us to get – we take it personally. So, having an impartial person come out and tell us what we already know is sometimes really cathartic. And once you realize that, like I’m telling you, it might sound intellectual and you know this, but to someone listening says, “Yeah, yeah, that makes sense, having a therapist, having a coach, having an advocate. That makes perfect sense,” but that doesn’t mean you’ve experienced it. Once you’ve experienced it, it becomes addictive because you can see your own growth because they pointed it out to you and they celebrate that with you.

And once you have that experience where it’s not like, “Oh, you had to say that because you’re my friend or you’re my parent or you’re my whatever,” then I think you start being honest with you and the arrogance starts to go away. And that’s an important aspect is to be vulnerable. And the same thing is true with us as financial advisors, isn’t it? People are asking us to come into their intimate, very often uninspected financial lives for which they have judgment fears, paralysis, maybe even egos, “I’m so good at this. Look at the wealth I’ve created. Totally uninsured. My family would be skunked if, God forbid, something happened, but I created it all.” So, we’ve seen all kinds of things. Advisors wind up becoming therapists and coaches in many ways. But we have to also recognize that there’s moments as humans that we can also be vulnerable and maybe let somebody in to help us grow. And that’s a really cool thing that you’re doing actually with Triad because as a partner, you’re actually building community, which creates more connectedness, willingness to open up. And then, of course, that’s what enables the growth. You got to start with this. “Here’s my asset map. Here’s what matters to me. Here’s what I’ve done. How can you help me do better?” And that’s the process that we’re living is in helping people. So, it should be no mystery to all of us. We just have to put ourselves in that place of vulnerability first.

Brad Johnson: I love that. Thanks for sharing that. Well, on this note, I know we’re just a bit over time, so thanks for pouring into the audience here on the Do Business Do Life podcast. And so, with that, Adam, I just have one final question.

Adam Holt: Okay. It’s not 5:30, so we’re good.

Brad Johnson: Okay. That’s true. I’m not going to get into family dinner time. I can tell you that. Not doing that. What is Adam’s definition of do business do life? I’d love to hear it.

Adam Holt: Do business, do life. I think you’ve heard elements of it. And please don’t get me wrong, I don’t have it perfectly figured out by far. It’s a constant journey, and I screw it up, too. I don’t deliver, but I think for me, it’s just a daily recognition to be mindful of what and why. I have a vision board right there. It kind of reminds me what I’m supposed to be thinking about and doing when I get distracted and I’m stuck in emails and I’m dealing with all kinds of crazy stuff that I never thought I’d be dealing with as a CEO. But I think the key is being mindful of what matters, draw boundaries, and recognizing you don’t have to do it perfect everyday. You just have to take – it’s a game of average shots, right? I mean, that’s what the best golfers say, right? It’s not about making a hole in one every shot. It’s about a game of average shots and you just work on that constantly. For me, if I get the opportunity to make a difference on the planet, that will be success for me. And one of the things that I’ve been really mindful about with Asset-Map is to kind of create and leave a lasting legacy. And I believe, like I said before, that that starts yesterday if not today. So, I’m just trying to make a little mark on the planet while I have time on it. And hopefully, it lifted somebody. And that’s all it’s about anymore for me. So, I wish all of you the opportunity to find that for yourself and then try to live it and do the business to do life.

Brad Johnson: I love that, Adam. Thanks for sharing that. One thing I would say that we didn’t get into at all on this conversation is I know you and your co-host on the podcast, Derek, you’re doing a really cool experience on Necker Island and it’s very much focused around leveling up as a dad. And to me, that’s like that’s straight out of the Do Business Do Life playbook because at the end of the day, if you were a billionaire at the end of the day, wherever Asset-Map ends up going, but your 12-year-old daughter didn’t get that time and you didn’t pour into her as a dad, like, who cares? Right? And so, I love the focus, the approach. Yeah, exactly. She’ll care but what was it all for? Well, my man, thank you so much for the time. I really enjoyed this conversation, had fun, and I know it’ll serve a lot of advisors out there. So, happy Friday. Get home to your family, and until we cross paths in person.

Adam Holt: Thanks, Brad. I appreciate all you do. Cheers.

Brad Johnson: See ya, Adam.


DBDL podcast episode conversations are intended to provide financial advisors with ideas, strategies, concepts and tools that could be incorporated into their business and their life. Financial professionals are responsible for ensuring implementation of anything discussed related to business is done so in accordance with any and all regulatory, compliance responsibilities and obligations.
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