What does it take to go to college?  A lot!

And it’s also one of the most expensive decisions that each of us ever make. The average total cost of college ranges from $25,290 (in-state) to $50,900 (private)… for EACH year! (cardinalcollegeplanning.com).

While we’re at one of the most ignorant times of our lives.

Having never actually had to budget and make ends meet, college students struggle to understand, or even know, the cost of college.  That’s why we appreciate College Aid Pro (link) and Joe Messenger so much!

This software helps simplify one of the most complex financial decision a person can make.  It’s also an incredible tool for CFP® Pros who want to help their clients purchase college.   We’ve only heard great things about this software from financial planners who are using it.

Daniel Bishop of Black Swan Advisors and a College Funding Professional has shared that it he uses College Aid Pro as a tool to understand what is the best fit for a student.  He also said that a lot of time similar demographics don’t result in that same best-fit.  Two students could have similar socio economic backgrounds and have different answers on what is best for them, their considerations, and their career.

Joe talks about the cost opportunity.  How that extra $100,000 that a client’s child might spend on college could be invested and might turn into a tidy $3m nest egg when that kid is ready to retire. Find out how to compare offers to see which schools are affordable for you and your family, so you can make an informed decision about where to go. (salliemae.com)

Is that extra expense worth that peace of mind? Or not?

The goal is to help your clients actualize on their life dreams and potential.  Maybe that Ivy League school is what will make the difference.  I’ve also seen people drink their way into $100 of tuition debt in college or decide that what they really wanted was to be a carpenter.

Once you start to incorporate the inclinations, goals, and aspirations of why one school is better than another, then you can truly start to understand what is a better fit.

And College Aid Pro is a great tool to help make that decision.

We hope this episode helps unfold some of the complexities of college planning for you.

Show Notes

In this episode of ‘The 4FP Podcast’, host – Jake Wagner talks to Joe Messinger (Co-Founder & Director of College Planning and Chief Education Officer from College Aid Pro). They talk about how raising the bar on College Funding Advice and sharing some great advice and strategies for college funding. They also discuss some mechanics of college.

Episode highlights:

  • 08: Joe states he and Dave Bowman (COO and Chief Experience Officer at College-Aid-Pro) put together a very robust training course that was 9 to 10 hours long and spoke about the mechanics of College Funding.
  • 36: He discusses the need to change the way America shops for college but to do that they have to raise the bar and college funding advice.
  • 57: Joe mentions if one should have a conversation about the budget.
  • 09: According to Joe the number one detriment to an on-time retirement is overpaying for college and people are doing it every day.
  • 40: As per Joe, we should help clients understand how they’re going to pay for all four years of college, including the loan payments.
  • 25: People need to understand they are number one; there are schools worth the premium to pay to go for some of those reasons.
  • 12: Traditional financial planning software is short, as it only shows the sticker price.
  • 20: In Joe’s opinion, we’re a snowflake in this process of shopping for college, and how we choose colleges for our kids is completely different than the next person that walks in the room.
  • 13:50: Jake states that economics really wants to treat money as value-neutral and that it’s a highly charged topic.
  • 22: Joe clarifies that their job as Financial Planners is to help people see into the future and finding ways to improve the situation.
  • 47: He enquires, “How do you expect the student to participate?”
  • 28: According to him if we’re in a niche, we can just really scale our practice by building our service models; everything becomes easier once we have clarity on who we serve.
  • 48: He suggests that if we don’t have an efficient and effective way to do some type of meaningful analysis, that doesn’t take us forever; we’re going to abandon it.
  • 23: The guest states that they have an E-book called the ‘Blueprint for launching and growing a wildly successful college planning business’.
  • 40: In Joe’s view, they always struggled with two things, number one is how do we make money with college planning, and number two – how to regulate it because there is no standard designation?


Three Key Points

  1. One of the ways that we try to frame things and help people understand includes questions like, “What’s the outcome look like? If we make this decision or what does it look like?”
  2. Telling people that ivy state school is not always the best choice.
  3. The process of shopping for college is different from person to person because of various factors. So, instead of it being based on averages, we can spend five minutes putting the information on the family’s finances, students, academics, and college.



College Aid Pro Homepage

Get in touch with Joe on LinkedIn


Introduction  15:24:29

Welcome to Digital Marketing for financial planners. The podcast where you learn which digital marketing strategies are working best for advisors. We interview financial planners who share what is working or not for their practice. here’s your host, Jake Wagner.


Jacob Wagner  15:24:48

Hello, and welcome to Digital Marketing 4FP. This is your host, Jake Wagner. And on today’s show, we have Joe Messinger from college aid Pro. Joe is here to talk to us about how to raise the bar on college planning advice. Hey, Joe, how are you doing today?


Joe Messinger  15:25:03

doing awesome, Jake, how are you, buddy?


Jacob Wagner  15:25:06

I am doing excellent. And just excited to have you on the show for today. Yeah, thanks for having me. Yeah, absolutely. So first thing off the gate, you just tell us a little bit about you, your company, and how you got to where you are today.


Joe Messinger  15:25:20

Okay, I’ll give you the three-minute version. I started financial services in 2001. a great time to get started in.com bubble, and worked for large firms for the first half of my career and work some of the biggest names in the business that a lot of recruiting, training, development as well, sales training, and then 2009 just kind of got the itch to go and form our own independent RIA go fee-only but also, we saw a huge gap in the market and an opportunity to serve late-stage college-bound families in a different way. So those that really have high schoolers and beyond. So we launched our firm Capstone wealth partners in oh nine. And we’ve done very well, we built a nice firm, they’re still growing. But around 2016 2017, I was asked to speak at a couple of industry conferences. And fast forward, if we look at like what happened, we develop some training and resource platforms with XY and that fund, FPA and very humbled to be asked by those folks to lead the charge. Because, quite honestly, we saw that families are struggling with how to find a college they can afford. But financial planners aren’t faring much better. Now we saw this real opportunity in my partner, Dave Bowman and I put together a very robust training course that was nine to 10 hours long. And we talked about the mechanics of college funding, but we also talked about how to market it and become the go-to expert in your community as a niche. That is what we did in our firm. And people would go through that platform. And we talked quite a bit about technical aspects, behavioral and emotional side, how do you market it? How do you make it profitable? And at the end of that, it basically people would say, Okay, great, What software do you use? And so from that, we said, they all have some shortcomings, and they just none of them really did what we needed them to do. The traditional financial planning software only shows you the sticker price in college, it doesn’t let you have any insight into financial aid. So


Jacob Wagner  15:27:19

it doesn’t let you shop. Yeah, it doesn’t.


Joe Messinger  15:27:22

Yeah, it’s not a shopping tool. It’s just here’s what it’s going to cost. So I equate the way that we’re still shopping for college this day, these days, the way that we shop for airlines back in like the 70s and 80s. You just call TWA and say I need a flight from Phoenix to New York, and they tell you the price and you’d pay


Jacob Wagner  15:27:40

a little bit more about just the problem that you’re solving. And what is late-stage college researching look like? And, and just let’s start there, and just unpack it a little bit.


Joe Messinger  15:27:52

Yeah, our fundamental belief that college aid pro myself and my partners, we’ve come together about 2017. And really the fundamental belief is, we need to change the way America shops for college. And we believe that we can make college affordable for every family in this country, then every student so but to do that we have to raise the bar and college funding vice, we have to go beyond college savings plans because people save what they can. So it’s most people’s college planning begins and ends with put money into a college savings plan or some other instrument to save for the goal.


Jacob Wagner  15:28:23

Along with I’d say making a part of the student’s onus is to buy it’s not as much financial as it is just to work as hard as they can to get as good a grades and as much financial reward as they can possibly get. And all of that doesn’t really constitute a strategy, right? Or even understanding the full cost of it.


Joe Messinger  15:28:41

You know, it’s interesting, because we say the way we shop for colleges all wrong. And what I mean by that is we tell our kids to go get great grades, kill it on the ACT, and volunteer, be in the science program, all those things are leading to build your resume to get into the best possible college. And we’re telling our kids look, if you get in, you’ll figure it out. And we’re taking them on tours of colleges. And they’re going and seeing places you know, go up and down the East Coast when you can do that again. But you see schools like Vanderbilt and Georgetown, MIT and Harvard, and all these amazing schools. All the while. What I equate that to is letting a 17-year-old only test drive Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Bentley’s, they’re going to want them when you have an, if you have a Camry budget, you should be having the conversation. You can’t be sweet. Honey get in, we’ll figure it out. Because figuring it out means a lot of people get hurt.


Jacob Wagner  15:29:32

Yeah. And it’s also not planning. Right, right. And our slogan here at the agency is you’re a planner, do you have a plan, you know, in our case, a digital marketing plan. But getting ahead of this, this is college planning, besides homeownership and retirement like those are three really the greatest expenses that someone can possibly have in their lives. And when it comes to college, you also have very little awareness, education, or tools to understand what that cost might be. I mean, so when you’re talking about Ferraris, and Camrys, can you just draw that out a little bit more? And just what are some of the situations that you’ve seen folks get into and why one answer might be better than another? Why go to a state school or something? Yeah, yeah. Well, I


Joe Messinger  15:30:19

think you bring up a good point there in that, yes, we’re talking about retirement and the industry line has always been, there are lots of ways to pay for college and only one way to pay for retirement. And I can tell you, if you’re still saying that those people are going to come work with a firm like mine, very quickly, we have to evolve beyond that.

So the number one detriment to an on-time retirement is overpaying for college. And people are doing it each and every day.


Jacob Wagner  15:30:41

Can you draw some you are one of our previous conversation even drew some numbers for that? Can you share that with the audience? Yeah, so


Joe Messinger  15:30:48

one of the ways that we try and we just try to try and frame things and help people understand “what’s the outcome look like? If we make this decision? What does it look like?”

So I did a white paper A while back, and it just basically said, Look, if one school we figure out cost us $200,000 out of pocket, and another one costs 100,000? Is this other school worth 100%? premium? So the math I ran was what if I just put that $100,000 in a brokerage account and the kids 18? Well, guess what, when they’re 65, they have over 3 million bucks, even in a moderate portfolio. Sure. Gotta


Jacob Wagner  15:31:19

love those laws of Dublin. Yeah. Right. So


Joe Messinger  15:31:22

I mean, $100,000 the positive when you’re 17/18 year old, you tell me it, does that student that went to the double the price school actually have that much better of a job prospect that much better return on education?


Jacob Wagner  15:31:34

Or are their colleagues have to get into the Ivy League school isn’t about some sort of, you know, networking opportunity that then starts to get to be a little bit more intangible? Does that open up some? Yeah, some job opportunity that if you go to Carnegie Mellon, versus Pennsylvania State, that you get some internship that starts to open up a career for you? I mean, I could see those being some of the reasons, but also know that doesn’t happen to every student.


Joe Messinger  15:31:59

Yeah, well, I’d say two things go Lions because I’m a proud Penn State grad. And I ended up being at Carnegie Mellon’s an awesome school thing is important. But what we try to what we would encourage people to think about is help clients understand the finish line. What I mean by that is you we need to help them understand how they’re going to pay for all four years of college down to the penny, including the resulting loans and the loan payments. And that is what we’re not doing a great job of we feel like and telling people to just look at the state school is also not always the best choice. So the interesting thing is, Jake, is that when we have people looking at a school like Carnegie Mellon, they don’t have scholarships really mean a very few. So understanding schools like MIT and Harvard, those schools don’t have scholarships. So if you’re a higher-income earning family, I can tell you right now that you’re going to pay full price there. Whereas on the flip side of that, one of my stories I’ve talked about this year, a lot, we’re sending a student to Georgetown for half the price that they would have gone to Ohio State because they’re in-state school. Cool. Why is that? It why is that this is there was only looking at community colleges, and maybe the state schools, but I said, Look, the way that the school like Georgetown operates, maybe 100% of your need, and they need kids like you, but they don’t have any scholarships. It doesn’t matter if you’re the valedictorian doesn’t matter if you’re the perfect AC T. That’s just how they run their business.


Jacob Wagner  15:33:22

Yeah. And I also know I went to a small, small little liberal arts school in the middle of Ohio, the College of Wooster. And it’s something like 86% of the students who are there have some version of financial aid it is the private school trying to make it cheaper and could have been an athletic thing and it’s a Scottish school. So maybe it’s the bagpipe scholarship, but I did see many students that it was cheaper to go to that private school than to a Publix


Joe Messinger  15:33:47

or close to it. And what we say is that most schools out based on the sticker price, okay, so they’re really kind of the magic we talk about is when we look at how do we do college shopping smarter is the three-headed monster. So you’ve got your finances that are going to determine what the school thinks that you can pay cuz your EFC right now expected family contribution. So they’re going to run into a formula. They’re gonna say, here’s what we think you can pay. And then your student’s academics are going to determine if you’re available for scholarships. So as I talked about, some schools do it based on need others based on the merit of students give you discounts, but the thing that we can’t control anybody can control is the business model of that school. Yeah, nobody’s


Jacob Wagner  15:34:24

business model this college. What is it, Joe? Is it 7% Dang. The cost of college goes up every year. And the mean and there are some rebuilding buildings, teachers don’t get paid enough more to this is a different topic. But where does some of that money go? Yeah. And regardless, it’s about understanding our family’s contribution to this humongous expense that also is really important for any career opportunity that happened after college, or during.


Joe Messinger  15:34:51


And I think it’s important for people to understand like their number one, there are schools worth the premium to pay to go for some of those reasons you talked about, like helping people understand their outcome.

What are the typical student go-to things that have evolved? I think when maybe many of us went to college things were 20 years for the two of us. Yeah, yeah. So I mean, just that what’s at stake is so much greater. We just as planners, I mean, I think we were talking about this before, like, just put yourself in your shoes. And if I did a poll of everybody listening to this podcast is that how many of you have an advanced designation? in financial planning prime, two-thirds of the room goes up. I’m a CFP, I’m a CPA, I said, if you ask yourself, honestly, how many of you would consider yourself an expert in college finance and financial aid planning? Most hands will go down. Right. So it’s quite interesting to me, though, that 73% of parents said and then one financial concerns paying for college. Yeah. And also,


Jacob Wagner  15:35:47

one of the details I liked the most about College Aid Pro as a software. And when Dave was showing it to me years ago, and I fell in love with it was the fact that you can show an 18-year-old, what is their monthly expenses are going to be the payback that college loan. It’s like, Okay if you go here, you’re going to be looking at $217 a month. And if you go here, you’re going to be paying $320 a month for this long, whatever it has. But it also really starts to put it into a lens that I think is understandable. And ingestible, or the college students and their parents.


Joe Messinger  15:36:23

Yeah, that’s where the rubber hits the road that those are the numbers actually make sense when you’re done. This is what you’re going to make, and this is going to be your monthly payment.


Jacob Wagner  15:36:31

Mm-hmm. And there’s a sound fair about this too, right now. Yeah, yeah.


Joe Messinger  15:36:36

And I think when we talked about shortcomings, maybe of other platforms that have been available, traditional financial planning software is short because it just does, it only shows the sticker price. These other programs were based on averages. This is such a, I always say like you’re a snowflake in this process of shopping for college, and how you shop for college for your, for your kids, or your client’s kids is completely different than the next person that walks in the room, because of those factors I talked about. So instead of it being based on averages, you can spend five minutes putting the information on the family’s finances and their and their students, academics, and college, a pro will do the rest, I’ll give you a highly personalized output. And that’s always been the problem with raising the bar on college funding advice.

How do you do this in a way that doesn’t take hours and hours out of my practice to do this, because it’s labor-intensive.

It used to take me five, six hours. Now it takes me five to seven minutes to do an analysis, we have every scholarship for every school in the country and will tell you with about a 90% accuracy, what your out-of-pocket costs will be to go to each school that you’re looking at. But more importantly, I just ran an analysis with an advisor this morning for the family, all five schools, families interested in they were all going to cost them the full price of 70,000 plus for each one. And they said, well, gosh, what do we do now? I said, Well, we go find schools, we’re gonna give you scholarships because you’re not a candidate for need-based aid.

So our advanced search tool, I was literally able to say show me schools within 500 miles of Boston, that will give my students merit scholarships, and we gave them rank order, here’s 121 schools, they’re gonna give you the best scholarships. And that’s proactive instead of reactive.


Jacob Wagner  15:38:18

Yeah, it is. And the other thing that’s really coming up for me with this is just like this is a little bit finological. But then economics really wants to treat money as value-neutral. And it’s a highly charged topic. And in that same way, if people look into financial planning program, money guide Pro, what’s in here’s the average cost. Well, that could be up to 100%, more half as much depending on vertical if you find in college aid Pro, right.


Joe Messinger  15:38:47

Yeah. So and a lot of that gets into like he said, what do we do as financial planners, our job is to help people see into the future. Right? And that’s really our job is looking at things and saying what is this outcome look like? And how can we improve that situation? Sometimes it’s reducing costs. And we meet with people all the time, just because people ask, Well, hey, what’s my number? I’ve got a million dollars. Is that enough? I’m like, Well, I don’t know. I don’t really think about your goals. I know what your income goals are. I don’t know what kind of lifestyle you have a million dollars means nothing if you want


Jacob Wagner  15:39:13

to drive Camrys still tell her for 300,000 miles than other things like that. You can do a lot and if you want to get that newest Tesla. That’s a different set of options. Yeah,


Joe Messinger  15:39:24

it’s its trade-offs and people get frustrated with the financial aid system of like, well On that any based candidate, like just because they make 250,000. I mean, I live in San Francisco. And I’m like, well, the formulas don’t care. And you’ve made choices to drive that Mercedes S Class instead of saving for college. Hmm. So there are all these trade-offs. But that’s the big thing about doing college planning the right way, you have to get mom and dad on the same page are mom and mom or dad and dad on the same page, before you even have this conversation with the student, because it amazes me, I’m talking to people with a 16-year-old, that is going to get a bill for 25 to $85,000 a year for four years. And they still haven’t talked about how they’re going to pay for college.


Jacob Wagner  15:40:03

So they’re often like couples who aren’t on the same page with their understanding about how this is going to get paid for and what the outcomes gonna look like


Joe Messinger  15:40:13

100%. And it creates this quagmire. And what I mean by that is one of the first things we ask and if people are taking notes, you’re driving just something I asked families, when they come in, as I say, they come in and they throw the kitchen sink at you. Here are all the 529s, and here’s the cost savings, blah, blah, blah and say, timeout, before we dig into the finances. Tell me about your college experience. Where did you go? How is it paid for mom sitting there going? Well, gosh, you know, I work part-time and did it over seven years took out some student loans. And when I think that’s fine, and dad’s like, well, I went to a private school for four years, and it’s all paid for by my parents. Okay, great. Well, where do we find the middle ground? How do we have a conversation and that’s when we get into our college pre-approval budget, which is helping people understand how normal families pay for college every day, and make sure that they have to have they have to show a business plan of how they’ll pay for college. That’s what pre-approval is all about.


Jacob Wagner  15:41:03

So how far in-depth does that go? And how can a planner help support their clients with that pre-approval process?


Joe Messinger  15:41:10

So we’ve got some conversational pieces around it that I think even if you don’t use the college, a Pro software, it’s really about just walking families through, look, families pay for college through yes through the savings that they have, but also have a conversation about cash flow. How do you cash flow it? How do you expect the student to participate? And then what grandparent outside help is out there. Because I got to tell you, all of those are huge opportunities depending on what seat you sit in. If you’re working with an older clientele, a more seasoned clientele. If your grandparents have money for their grandkids, I can tell you those kids coming into my office, they have no idea what it is they can’t talk to their parents about money.


Jacob Wagner  15:41:47

Sure. That’s terrifying. Yeah.


Joe Messinger  15:41:49

Yeah. So this opens up a tremendous door, even if you’re serving predominantly grandparents that are through this phase, but they want to help with college for their grandkids, maybe there’s 10,000 there, hey, let’s have a meaningful conversation with your kids and your grandkids. And at the same time, you’re going to be able to hopefully retain that asset has a meaningful conversation, instead of saying, hey, when Dad, I would really like to manage this money for you.


Jacob Wagner  15:42:12

So one of the things I really like about what you’re sharing is just rather than a lot of people will try to define a lot of planners will try to define their niche, as I serve women in transition, and maybe even going deeper. And you know, I serve divorce days, or I serve widows, it seems like you’ve really Devon dove into a different type of niche. And that a part of what I’m hearing from you. And it’s just, I want to encourage the audience to understand how to find this for themselves that you did start an IRA you worked at it you built-in you also grew quickly. And it seems like a big part of why is because you found a very specific problem in the financial planning process. How expensive is college going to be for my family, for my daughter, for my son, and understanding the financial implications there? And you found a lot of meat on the bones, and it’s also really helped you grow. So yeah, can you just share a bit about that process and about your niche and how it’s worked for you? Yeah, I


Joe Messinger  15:43:16

mean, there’s, there’s so much wrapped up and kind of we’re trying to do, but I think if it’s college funding or any other niche if it’s new families, if it is divorcees, we think of ourselves as really a life stage niche. And that is people that are predominant in their 40s or early 50s. Their number one concern is how to pay for college. It’s an acute need. And the only thing someone else needs to know about that family is that they have a high schooler that would like to go to college. The refer ability in our market is huge. So there’s a well-listed marketing podcast. So I have a rule. It’s called Five up five down marketing. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard me talk about this. But if you think of yourself, right, you think of yourself, I’m 43. You probably know people that are five years older to five years younger than you and a similar socio-economic class. Right. I’m in a niche, but it just so happens, like I know people that are 48 to 38 right now. And that’s people that are coming into this right now. All of our clients go to the same sports games, they’re going to the same schools.

So once you have morality, and people know what you do, the number one thing I hear from parents when they come in and talk to us if they have an advisor or not.

“I didn’t even know a service like this existed.” Imagine that in financial services. “I didn’t even know a service like this existed. I’m going to go Tell all my friends.”


Jacob Wagner  15:44:29

Yeah. Well, and that Yeah. And then they go to FDA retreat and say, Hey, I just heard about this thing that’s gonna really help my clients. Let me talk to you about it. Right?


Joe Messinger  15:44:38

Yeah, yeah. So so that that virality I think when we talk about marketing, and that five up five down rule, like I equate our firm, and what we’ve been able to do everything from client attraction, acquisition, and service is all built around that ideal client, we have a very homogenous client base. And what that allows you to do is scale. And I call it I call ourselves the Chipotle of financial planner. So you know, we’re not working with all multi multimillionaires. But I tell you what, our average client is 500 to a million of investable assets. And they come in, and they need six or seven of our nine ingredients. But it’s all very similar. So our process and their pain points, were really able to dig in on the behavioral the emotional, the coaching, reduce the stress and anxiety and fear.


Jacob Wagner  15:45:19

And you found efficiencies as well. Right? Exactly.


Joe Messinger  15:45:23

Yeah, since we flipped that switch for us in our firm, we went to I have a great partner I’ve been with for over 15 years. And the reason I’m able to do what I’m able to do is that I’m the front of the house, and he’s the back of the house, we kind of said we’re going to run it as a firm, we’re not going to silo our clients, we’re going to team up. So now we’ve got a couple of staffers and the two of us. And it’s a very efficient, very profitable practice that way.


Jacob Wagner  15:45:45

So you said that you’re in a life stage niche, and I really like that, or there is being in a transition. Is that also a life stage niche? Because it seems like it might be? Yeah, yeah.


Joe Messinger  15:45:56

I mean, I think young families just had their first kid, you know that. A lot of things that come up for those folks think that’s a niche college. Yeah. college costs being one of those


Jacob Wagner  15:46:06

families that have more than six kids, Joe? I mean, there’s a lot of families have, and I do have I have one client, he has nine kids, I mean, understanding how to have affordable meals and how to first kids off to college, and the last one still in diapers, there’s no serious financial planning challenges in that. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I


Joe Messinger  15:46:23

think there are other ones out there. The Instant Money Institute, I think is one group. They talk about people that have come into money be that however, that happens.


Jacob Wagner  15:46:32

But Susan Bradley and the Sudden Money Institute and Susan, definitely, she’s been a lifelong family friend.


Joe Messinger  15:46:40

Yeah, yeah, I love her stuff. Because it’s a similar way of saying, look, if everybody else is gonna think, Hey, you got all this money, all your problems are solved. And what she talks about is, well, no, and actually, it creates opportunities and challenges. And let’s talk through those. And it’s the same with if you’re in a niche, you can just really scale your practice by understanding those and you can build your service models, your pricing, your fees, everything becomes easier once you have clarity on who you serve.


Jacob Wagner  15:47:11

Yeah, and also, it’s more than just the riches in the are in the niches as they say. It’s also like, I have one marketing teacher that I want I want from right now. And he says that she basically can’t dive too deep into a niche that a lot of us have heard about, like, this is talking about his client who’s just deals with bass fisherman, that’s at least still big fishing. But there’s, you can dive down into really superduper sub-parts like these are, this is my community, these are the people that I help. And by doing that, then you’ve also become that the go-to guy, you’re apparently Hey, over here in Portland, like we, we help Nike executives, we support Adidas executives, something like that.

But by having those efficiencies, and then if you do search meetings or something of the like you start to have the same patterns show up will also start to save you time and give you better deliverables to your clients.


Joe Messinger  15:48:05

It’s continuing to evolve for us because we’ve been around for over a decade. So one thing that just a little marketing tool we do for all of our kids going off to college, we send them a stadium blanket, then you would have thought we just sent them the first year’s tuition because it’s 50 bucks per client going off to school for us the University of Cincinnati, Butler, Gonzaga, whoever it is Baylor, maybe but you know, whoever it is, it’s just it’s a simple little gesture that acknowledges the things that are most important to them education and their kids.


Jacob Wagner  15:48:34

Mm-hmm. How many financial advisors have that level? So Well, they should go. I mean, so the framework is to we’re we’re certified partners with Digital Marketer, and we use their framework with our clients. And a lot of that’s based around stages of intimacy that we do on an interpersonal level. It’s not based on marketing, it’s actually based in anthropology. And the last step of that there, the last two stages are the advocate stage when someone is supporting you, and if someone asks her referral, they will name you. And then the final one is the promoter stage. And it almost seems silly, except for it’s not. And that is and there’s a Napoleon quote about people will die, kill, cheat steal for a piece of Blue Ribbon, that when you have that brand association, that you’re actually having someone be at that promoter stage is one of the deepest ways that they can show support and win, even if it’s just, hey, here’s my blanket for the game and how I’m going to show support for this process, my kid all the rest of it, it really touches people’s hearts, even though it almost seems superficial.


Joe Messinger  15:49:44

Yeah, yeah, there’s just these things that as you evolve, I mean, we continue to those little gifts and little things, but then come to find out, as our students now are graduating, like we get to go back and focus on the retirement planning for those folks. And we get to focus on guess what their new number one financial concern is that their recent graduate get started on the right foot. So we’ve even developed a very small for getting started fast with kids that have graduated in the last couple years. So because we listened to our clients who said, this is great, I’m glad where we focused on retirement. But can you talk with Jim and Susan, because I really want them to get off on the right foot, can you do a financial plan for them.


Jacob Wagner  15:50:21

So you’re also telling me that you’re coming in, folks are coming in through this efficiency through this hyper niche, hyper specificity, and you’re helping them with that presenting need, and you’re helping them hopefully with for the rest of their financial lives, and then they’ve received so much value, they want to move forward, you’re their guy now and they’re like, college, great, I’m glad we’ve got that handled, let’s take care of our own oxygen mask. the right order, but you’ve now opened up under there, Koreans, and you can talk about those deeper goals and you taking care of them, you got some stuff off the table, too, which really helps,


Joe Messinger  15:50:58

yeah, okay, have no confidence in their plan, we understand the trade-offs. And then ultimately, in our practice, now, the first quarter of this year is we’re kind of know that in the first quarter, we brought in, a lot more dollars is coming through, we’ve had to get very good at wealth, transition and inheritance money and transitioning people into retirement. So as you can imagine, if you start working with people that are 45 to 55, guess what’s coming in the next five to 10 years for them, retirement and inheritance. So we, I say all the time, like, we don’t add another client, we’re still gonna grow by 20 30%.


Jacob Wagner  15:51:32

Absolutely well, and there’s, there’s only I forget the fellow who came up with it, and I should remember him sorry, um, but

there are only three ways for a business to grow. Now, you can either acquire new customers, you can charge the customers that you have more for what you’re already charging them for, or you can sell them more stuff.

And there’s those are the three levers, that’s it. And if you have an assist system set up, right, and you’re being a valuable professional, then folks are going to want to come back to you, we find that here as well, someone comes in for a group course. And then they have five more things that they want us to do after they’ve gotten that education. Yeah.


Joe Messinger  15:52:09

That’s a great point about just the hook. Right? People talk about a niche is essentially a hook, but allows you to scale. But if you don’t have an efficient and effective way to do some type of meaningful analysis, that doesn’t take you forever, you’re gonna abandon it. And we really feel like, with the system we built with, with, with CAP, College, Aid Pro, it allows you to have some diagnostics, you don’t have to be an expert of everything, you just have to make sure the right information goes in, we’ll do the rest.


Jacob Wagner  15:52:35

So once you did tell the audience a little bit more about College Aid Pro, we’re coming up on the end of our time today. And I just want to make sure folks know where to go for this resource and how to use it.


Joe Messinger  15:52:47

Yeah, so go to collegeaidpro.com I encourage, like if you want to learn more demos always the best way, in my opinion, we do have a free trial on there as well. And what I would like to provide to you is we actually have an E-book called The blueprint for launching and growing a wildly successful college planning business.


Jacob Wagner  15:53:02

And we’re gonna make sure to have that ebook on the blog post for this episode. And we’ll also have a link to it in the description. If you’re using a podcast. Listen to this right now.


Joe Messinger  15:53:13

Yeah, cuz I really feel like if people are looking to what does this mean, what it’s all about, we get all the way into the weeds about how do you put it on a fee disclosure? What are fee ranges, we should look at? How do we build a service around this? So I really tried to make that because we’ve learned a lot working with hundreds and hundreds of visors over the years that you want to have, do your due diligence if this is something you want to delve into,


Jacob Wagner  15:53:33

and how and so you basically have an implementation guide that folks are going to be able to share their email with us. And that might set them up for a demo. And then they’ll also get this white paper so they can understand what it looks like to just roll this out into their practice.


Joe Messinger  15:53:48

Yep, yep. As I say it kind of goes through. Are you looking to make this your niche? Are you looking to make this part of your practice for existing clients? So yeah, just see the heavy charge for it. What are the compliance ramifications? So one of the things about college funding that I’ve learned, in working with some of the larger broker-dealers and things like that is

we’ve always struggled with two things. Number one is how do we make money with college planning? And then number two is how do we regulate it because there is no standard designation.

So those are the kinds of things we try to provide some runways for so that you can have some guidance on how you might want to do this. That’s helpful.


Jacob Wagner  15:54:23

And when is it going to be a bad idea for like who isn’t a fit for college? Trade pro? It’s another good question. So


Joe Messinger  15:54:30

I’d say there are three, three options here. Okay, so what I don’t want is for people to continue to ignore college funding and the late-stage college planning. So we always say like, you can learn it yourself, become an expert, learn this stuff. And maybe it’s your niche, you want to add it. Number two, if you’re too busy, you have the bandwidth, maybe you have a junior advisor like we have like that Junior advisor, that’s maybe 26 to 32. Man, this is a heck of a way for that newly minted CFP to know something that can add a ton of value and help you attract folks. So anoint them as your expert work with us to have them be that is number three, outsource it. If you don’t feel that you can do this work, talk to us, talk to us about our solutions to help us support you through this process. If that’s something you want to do, but just that we just say that don’t ignore it, like have a way to address this.


Jacob Wagner  15:55:18

So again, folks go to www dot Finology proud.com. And we’ll also have links in the description right here to make it something as nice and easy for you as possible. I think that this is an incredible resource. It’s something that advisors really need to know about, even if it’s just making sure that you have this arrow in your quiver for when that moment comes up in your strategic planning. Joe, I want to thank you for coming on the show and for everything that you shared with the audience today.


Joe Messinger  15:55:45

Yeah, thanks for having me, man. And obviously, we’re super passionate about this. And as we’ve been saying, like we need, we need to raise the bar on college funding advice if we want to in the student loan crisis, one family at a time.


Jacob Wagner  15:55:55

Absolutely. And this is an epidemic that you’re addressing right here. And there aren’t enough folks out there who understand how to do proper and effective college purchasing. And there are guys, the other side of this on when you have those over, are overburdened with loans, which we’re not going to talk about today. But these two questions are super salient for advisors. And the other part is just as you’ve got to dive and go deeper into the problems that you solve, and the type of person that you solve, and who your ideal client is, that a part of what happens is that you become more of an expert, you get efficiencies, and it actually opens up possibilities for you. Theoretically, maybe it’s possible to dive too far into a niche, but you’re smart. And you’re not going to do that. And there are some valuable tools that we’ve been able to share with you today. And we’d love for you to just reply back to us with wherever you’re listening to this with what it is that you’ve learned. And also, make sure to subscribe share like this podcast. And with that, we want to thank you for tuning into this episode of Digital Marketing 4FP. Take care, and have a great day.


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