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Daniel Nuwash

Episode 36: The System for Effectively Building Relationships with Clients, with Daniel Nuwash

Before entering the financial planning industry Dan Nuwash completed a 4 year activity duty commitment to the United States Marine Corps. After his military commitment Dan enrolled in Saint Peter’s University and completed both a business undergraduate degree and a Masters of Business Administration. Dan specializes in developing customized investment strategies for clients based on investment goals, risk tolerance, and capital commitments. His knowledge of risk management helps him mitigate systematic risk and exposure for clients by developing portfolios containing insurance and tax minimization investments.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why Dan decided to make the move from working for a big firm to becoming an independent financial adviser
  • How Dan has been successful with Finance for Thought without ever making a cold call
  • The process for building relationships with clients that Dan implemented within Finance for Thought
  • How Dan experienced trial and error in developing the relationship building process
  • The importance of sending a personalized message to attract clients
  • Using social media to attract new clients
  • How to make sure prospective clients know you are actually reading their profile
  • The three major points Dan discusses with prospective clients at their first meeting
  • The importance of making the initial conversations about the client rather than about yourself
  • A recommendation for how often to make contact with clients
  • The importance of showing expertise to clients, especially if you’re not part of a big firm
  • How to judge the appropriate amount and frequency of contact based on the client
  • What Dan learned from sending automated messages when he first started out
  • Why you should understand American business culture to build a solid relationship with your clients
  • How the focus on relationship building has helped Finance for Thought have an excellent business ratio
  • How Dan decides whether he has set the bar high enough

Ways to contact Daniel:

Podcast eBooks:

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In Episode 25, Vera talks with Heidi Rasmussen, CEO and Co-Founder of one of Inc 5000’s fastest growing companies in America – freshbenies. This eBook highlights part of the conversation to bring out the best lesson in automation and on-boarding for startups.”


Welcome to System Execution. The strategy and system behind today’s successful companies. Systems can make or break your company. But here, we’ll solve your physical, technological, and physiological system issues by connecting you with experts that have succeeded in overcoming those challenges in their own business. And providing you the guidelines and tools you need to implement those same strategies for immediate results. Now, here’s your host Vera Fischer.

Today episode is sponsored by 97 Degrees West. The brand marketing agency located in Austin, Texas. 97 Degrees West serves regional and national companies in the healthcare, finance, energy, and manufacturing industries. 97 Degrees West believes that an integrative approach to marketing that involves traditional and digital strategies that fits your customer’s buying journey yields the greatest impact on your bottom line. Go to www.97dwest.com to learn more.

Vera Fischer: Welcome to System Execution. A podcast devoted to using processes and systems to drive to a better outcome for your business. I’m Vera Fischer, your host. All businesses, no matter the size, relies on systems. Some of these are physical systems such as a factory. Some are technological like project management software. And others are physiological systems such as checklist and organizational charts. Many of these systems will overlap in your business.

Today’s guest, Dan Nuwash, is the Co-Founder of Finance For Thought. So before entering the financial planning industry, Dan completed a four year activity duty commitment to the United States Marine Corps. After his military commitment Dan enrolled in Saint Peter’s University and he completed both a business undergrad degree and a MBA.

Dan specializes in developing customized investment strategies for clients based on their investment goals, risk tolerance, and capital commitments. His knowledge of risk management helps him mitigate systematic risk and exposure for his clients by developing portfolios containing insurance and tax minimization investments.

Welcome to System Execution, Dan.

Dan Nuwash: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

More on Dan’s Background

Vera Fischer: Well Dan, I’m really excited to have you here. And I know that we’re going be talking about your process for building relationships with clients. But before we get started, could you just tell our listeners a little bit more about you and your experience.

Dan Nuwash: Yes, I’ve been in the industry, the financial services industries since 2010. I started out at Northwestern Mutual and went to a couple of other smaller companies. I really wanted to go on the independent side because Northwestern Mutual, and Mass Mutual, and all these companies are great companies. I wanted to make sure that I was representing my clients and not representing the company.

We use American portfolios as our broker dealer. But they’re an independent broker dealer. There’s no such thing as an American portfolios that’s financed without funds and there never will be. Because we don’t want to have any bias when it comes to recommending products or services for our clients.

Vera Fischer: Yeah, and for our listeners out there, those that don’t understand the difference between and independent financial advisor and one that is tied to one of those big financial advisory firms, let’s say like Schwab. Those that are tied to those firms are really task with selling specific products that those firms offer. But more of those independent like Dan, they are really able to look at the market and look at a variety of products that really fit each client’s individual needs. Would you say that’s an accurate statement, Dan?

Dan Nuwash: Yeah, it is. It’s also … Another thing I’ll like to point out is we don’t have quotas or anything for myself or any of our advisors. We think it’s important to have our clients … Our advisors have full discretion over the products that’s their product or services or funds that they’re providing for their clients and we want them to make sure that it’s completely unbiased and by not having quotas that the revenue or product, we feel that they can do so properly.

The Process for Building More Effective Relationships with Clients

Vera Fischer: Well great. Well Dan, given that … So you are the co-founder of Finance For Thought, it’s independent and Segwaying over to the process that we’re going to be speaking about. Relationship building is really important because you are building that specific relationship with each of your clients.

Let’s go head and get started and for this first question, how did you come to develop this specific process for building relationships and why?

Dan Nuwash: A lot of it was trial and error, as most processes are. The great thing about being an independent advisor is the world’s at your fingertips and you can build your business as you see fit. But the bad thing about being an advisor is you can build your business how you see fit but no one’s going to tell you how to do so. A lot of it was through trial and error, and especially with the world in general going to more of an online or digital format, we had to find ways to do so.

We really utilized LinkedIn pretty often and a lot of people are also surprised when I tell them that I met quite a few clients from Twitter. Twitter is a great business generator as well, despite what people say. I think the statistic out there is they say that 10% of Americans have a Twitter account. I don’t think that’s true because it seems that most people I meet have a Twitter account. There maybe just afraid to admit that they have one.

Vera Fischer: I think you’re right.

Dan Nuwash: I’ve gotten most of my organic clients but are not through my personal network through Twitter and LinkedIn. I haven’t made a cold call to a new prospect since I was at Northwestern Mutual actually. It’ll be four or five years at least.

How the Process Works

Vera Fischer: Wow, wow. So when you get that new client, how do you kick off that particular relationship?

Dan Nuwash: So generally, I’ll use LinkedIn as the example. My process really been, one, it’s a great prospecting tool because you can really hone in on a niche. We build a lot of strategic relationships with CPAs. CPAs, they’re a great referral source for us. We do a lot of checks, advantages investments.

So it’s been a great tool for me to hone in on creating new relationships with CPAs and generally if I find a CPA who have a mutual connection, I’ll ask that mutual connection to make an introduction. If not, I’ll just send them a message saying … I always make sure that it’s personalized. So I’ll say, “Hey there, this is Dan. Hey there, I thought we’ll benefit by being connected. I’ve noticed you’re done a lot of great work at your current company. And your current company, ABC Company in the accounting field. I think we can benefit by connecting.”

But then I also, another big thing that I do is I’ll scan their LinkedIn page to see if there’s something we have in common. The veteran, me being a military veteran, the veteran network is a great network for me. I’ll make sure to put that into the message too. If we are a member of some same club, or organization, or we happen to be from … They live in New York but if they’re from Texas, I’ll make sure that they know that I am actually viewing their profile and it’s not just any copy, paste message that’s kind of a fire for effect by the masses.

And generally if they do connect then I’ll have a follow-up message that says something along the line like, “Thank you so much for connecting. I do a lot of work with individuals in the accounting fields or taxation field. I think we can benefit by meeting with each other or having a phone call. Will you be open to it.” And then if they still don’t respond to that, then I even have another message where I follow-up and find an article or a video that I think will be relevant to them. And an article, that video or in the message that I sent them, and everything is actually is timed out too. It will be a three to four week process to me to get to that third or fourth message.

Vera Fischer: And this is still … We haven’t left LinkedIn correct? We’re still in LinkedIn.

Dan Nuwash: Yes, this is all on LinkedIn.

Vera Fischer: Okay.

Dan Nuwash: That’s kind of the beginning of the prospecting process for a strategic relationship that we’ve done with CPAs. And it’s similar for prospecting for clients as well. We do work with a lot of business owners and most of our clients are in the higher income and higher network range. So generally we don’t end up working with individuals that wouldn’t be considered a credit investors, which is an annual income of 200,000 or more or a net worth of a million dollars or more excluding a personal residence. And that’s just really our business molded into that really just by the people that we’re working with and the advanced planning we were doing.

Vera Fischer: So Dan, let me stop you there just for a second. So obviously you targeted some folks and you’re trying to communicate with them on LinkedIn, getting that response, etc. And then at what point do they open up the door for a phone call or an in-person meeting. Is that how that works?

Dan Nuwash: So the secondment after I’ve connected with them, if I wasn’t already connected with them on LinkedIn, the second message that I send them after we’ve been connected ask if they’d be open to having a meeting with me or setting up a phone call.

Vera Fischer: Cool. You had also said earlier before we keep going on this, that there was a lot of trial and error in this particular process. I don’t want to let that go so be thinking about that, I’m going to come back and circle around and ask you about that trial and error. So once you get them on the phone, then what happens?

Dan Nuwash: So from there, generally I try to do an in person meeting, but if I get them on the phone instead that’s also great, but basically, you know I’m going to keep this in the CPA realm cause that’s really what we’re done recently at least within the past year or so. We’ll really gotten that process down.

There’s three major questions that I end up discussing or three points that I end up discussing with the CPA. It’s really important especially if you’re building a relationship and if you’re the one seeking the relationship, do not make the initial phone call about you. Or the initial meeting about you. People can tell right away.

Generally we do, or the people work with we want to help them build their business as well. We want to show them that we have a good ethical and moral foundation. And if we just start out the conversation with what we do and how much revenue we do, or whatever we’re good at, it might not be a good fit. And that’s also how I’m going to get the conversation.

So I generally start out the conversation with, “The reason for this call or this meeting is that I really want to get to know you and your practice. Some of the work you do, what your vision is for the next few years.” And then from there, “I’ll be able to depending on what you tell me about your business and your clients. I’ll like to share with you a couple of things that I think could benefit you and a couple of things that you probably haven’t seen from an advisor before.” And then the third thing that I’ll say, and at the end of it, “I’ll like to discuss if this makes sense to you and this is the type of strategic partnership that you’re like to continue to pursue.”

Vera Fischer: Do you have from the … How would I phrase that? On that initial call or in person meeting, you certainly don’t close them at that particular point?

Dan Nuwash: What we’ve found is building a strategic relationship on average takes about 18 months.

Vera Fischer: No way.

Dan Nuwash: Yeah.

Vera Fischer: 18 months.

Dan Nuwash: 18 months on average. We’ve had some people that we’re worked with that we been building a relationship with for years. But I’ve also started working with some people … We built this strategic relationship within a couple of months. It’s very, very, rare to have that initial call or meeting with a CPA for them to say, “You know what I want to use you as a resource and I’m going have you speak with a couple of my clients.”

What You Need to Be Doing Along the Way with this Process

Vera Fischer: So what do you do as far as throughout that 18 months? Is that where you’re reaching out to them monthly, every other week? How does that play out?

Dan Nuwash: Generally I’m going to reach out to them at least five months later or least twice a month. The rule of thumb that we’ve come up with is there should be 56 points of contact throughout a year. With that being said, people always seem to think, that sounds like a lot but it’s not really because that point of contact can be, ” Hey I’m going to give you a call,” that’s one. And you give them a call, that’s two. Then you follow-up the call with an email, that’s three.

That’s generally the rule that we go with, is we’re trying to have those 56 points of contact throughout the year. And we’re also trying to include them in … We have a lot of webinars or CPAs, and then our strategic partners where we’re educating them on what we do, but more importantly how what we do that benefits their business and benefit their clients.

Like I said before we do a … We do a lot of advance planning. A lot of what we do most advisors don’t do, just because they haven’t taken the … Most advisors are going to be those mortgage families and it’s not … They don’t need to educate themselves as in depth as we do. So we don’t have the big name behind us. By showing our expertise to these strategic partners, that’s really how we’re building the business.

Vera Fischer: So Dan, really with this process for building relationships with clients, and the length of time that it takes and you finally let’s get to the end and you have closed that client and you’re now working with that client. Do you ever get feedback from those clients on that persistency?

Dan Nuwash: We constantly ask our clients if they’re happy with the service we do and if they … We have not surveyed our clients before but that is we’re a relatively new company. We’re less than two years old. We’re working on our … Close to our second year now. So we are in the process of … We want to create surveys and send them out to our clients and include those certain things like, are we contacting you too much, not enough.

Generally with clients we do … We are going to contact them less than we would a strategic partner. Just because there’s less of a need for it. We’re still … It also depends on the client itself. Some clients we contact quarterly, some monthly, some clients just want to speak with us maybe once a year. And I even have some clients that I’ll reach out to and attempt to set-up an annual review with them or something and they say, “Hey now it’s fine. I think you’re doing a great job and I don’t think it’s necessary.”

So yes, as far as the clients go we’re going to have a little less contact with them. We still are constantly in contact with them. Cause we want them to know that we are thinking of them because we are … Some clients think, why am I paying this advisor a fee of the assets under management if he’s not doing anything. But we are … Even though we’re not talking to them everyday we are still working for them. We execute hundreds of trades a month if not thousands.

Vera Fischer: Okay. So as you have gotten … I love that you have a number of it needs to be actually what, 56 touchpoints? I think that’s awesome. The first time I’ve heard someone actually put a real number to the number of touch points that you will need to do over that long of a sales cycle. How did you figure out to do that? How did get to that magic number of 56?

Dan Nuwash: I personally didn’t come up with that. There’s an individual that I’ve worked with that’s, he’s been very successful in building his business, his practice. And he’s not actually, he’s not a part of our team at Finance For Thought. He runs his own independent practice.

I reached out to him. I wanted to build something similar to what he was doing in focusing on working with tax professionals. He actually came up with that rule. His name is Mike Ogwash. I don’t know if he would mind if I’m throwing his name out there. But he was very instrumental in helping me come up with the process of not targeting CPAs but bringing them onboard, the onboarding process to building strategic partnership with them.

Vera Fischer: I don’t think he mind if you shared his name. I think he’ll be flattered.

Dan Nuwash: I don’t think so.

The Trial and Error Portion of this Process

Vera Fischer: So I’m going to circle back to the trial and error part of the conversation. Give us some of the bad.

Dan Nuwash: So a lot of it had to do with the initial message, I guess, that we were sending to individuals to spark that new relationship. I had the same thing on Twitter as well. We do use some automated services. So anyone that follows up on Twitter is going to get an automated message back thanking them for following and telling them a little bit about what we doing or what we’re currently working with.

I found that on Twitter we use to have this huge long message that was a couple of paragraphs. I just realized through … I would also sometimes get these same messages through Twitter. Right then I noticed that I wasn’t reading more than the first couple of sentences. I realized why we really need to tailor the message that we’re sending out there. An introductory message I don’t think should be more than a couple of sentences. You do want to personalize it.

If you don’t know someone they’re not going read a novel that you’re sending them, so don’t do that. That was part of the process. And also, the process of when we built this program call the CPA Alliance, which is, as far as I know, it’s the only FINRA and SCC compliant program out there. Where we’re able to build these strategic partnerships with CPAs and tax professionals. And we’re able to share in the revenue with them on the clients that we work with. And it doesn’t require any extra licensing on their part. So we’re really excited about this program.

When we were reaching out to CPAs, we were leading with the revenue sharing portion of it. You can actually make, you can make more money through your business and some of the feedback we was getting was not kind. From a business perspective, in generally most people in the US, born in America, and raised in America don’t understand this.

Each country has its own business culture. If you’re going to do business with someone in Sweden or China you want to review what their business culture is. In America when you’re doing something that’s not culture to business culture, it just seems like you’re being rude or coming off as rude. But you’re actually going against business culture.

So we actually studied American business culture from an outside perspective and found that the Chinese had something called Guanxi but I’m probably just destroying that from a verbal perspective, but Americans also have the same thing. So most Americans are not going to be okay with going in and talking business right away. There need to be some sort relationship building.

How this Process is Different Depending on Where You Are Geographically

Vera Fischer: Isn’t that also the difference between the North and the South? I’ve noticed that when I do business with folks that are you up in the North, not necessarily the Midwest, but the Northeast, it’s down to business, really fast.

But us southerners down here in Texas, we really want to talk to you first and get to know you. And once we find a common thread, and we’re, “Oh yeah, okay, now you … Now we can start.” Cause now I feel like I’m connected to you in some way, shape, or form.

Dan Nuwash: Absolutely. It is … I definitely agree with you. The North people are a little bit more business than … In Texas we speak a little bit slower and we do things a little bit more leisurely.

One thing that we found is, when you look at any of these numbers across the board, some people that built their business, their financial services business by just that volume. Hear as many no’s as they can cause eventually you hear a yes. And if that work for them that’s great. But we found that our close ratios are little bit higher. Generally they say it’s … When I was at Northwest Mutual you need have 10 meeting to win a client.

So you might have 10 new meetings with new prospects. Three of those meetings will either keep or we’ll have follow-up meetings. And then out of those three, one will end up becoming a client.

It’s a little bit different for us. We’ve cut that number in half. Generally we’ll meet with five people. We’ll have follow-ups with at least three of those and two people will end up becoming clients at least within at least a six month period. We haven’t gone further than the six months so that hopefully that number will look better when we start tracking it on maybe an annual basis. But even the new business cycle in our industry is about a six month process generally.

Vera Fischer: How interesting. Okay, well that’s cool. So you’ve really … It’s almost combined with how long it does take you to make that relationship, right? So those touch points, but then finally getting them over the phone too. I mean a client of yours.

Dan Nuwash: Yeah, yeah. And by focusing more on their relationship building rather than the fire effect or talking about business right away or just talking about product right away we found that’s what helped our new business ratio greatly.

Vera Fischer: Well that’s awesome. So how long have you been utilizing this strategy for building relationships with clients? Since the inception of your business?

Dan Nuwash: Yeah, that’s why I come up with the 18-month rule because we’re a little bit over 18 months now, closer to two years. But we’re seeing now a lot more of these strategic partnerships really coming on board.

Vera Fischer: Oh great.

Dan Nuwash: That’s kind of where we come up with the rule. I’ve found that from outside studies as well, but from our general studies also that it seems to about 18 months on average. But like I said, sometimes it’s a month, sometimes it could be longer. But 18 months seems to be kind of a sweet spot.

Vera Fischer: Dan, all this information that you’ve given us around this relationship building process is really, really, cool. And it’s very simple and sometimes listeners you have to remember that simplicity is sometimes the right answer. It doesn’t have to be super complicated or mired in a whole bunch of technology even though you kick it off with technology on LinkedIn, which is just how it’s done these days.

So what’s your next challenge in the business?

Dan Nuwash: Our revenue goals are, we definitely want to increase our revenue goals but we’re also focusing more on bringing on more advisors and building more strategic relationships. My personal goals are to have established three of these CPAs alliances every month.

Vera Fischer: Great.

Dan Nuwash: That’s probably a high reaching goal but the way I look at it is if I reach all the goals that I’ve set for myself, then I haven’t set the bar high enough.
Vera Fischer: Ah, one of those. Okay, I get you, I got you. I think once you get that momentum going and you get through that hump, I truly believe it does start to yield those results. You just can’t stop it. Cause once you stop it, you lose that momentum and you have to start all over again.

Dan Nuwash: Absolutely.

Final Advice from Dan

Vera Fischer: Absolutely. So Dave’s really shown us that processes are needed to get the work done. You’ve given us some great nuances that our listeners need to hear regarding the execution of a very successful system.

So before we go, let’s close out today’s discussion with any final advice you want to share. Anything that we may have missed. And then tell us the best way we can connect with you.

Dan Nuwash: The advice I would give you is don’t never be afraid to ask, and that’s really about anything. When I was creating the CPA Alliance and I wanted to focus part of our business on that. We didn’t know how to do it. Mike Ogwell who I mentioned earlier, he had no incentive to meet with me and tell me about his process and how it worked. But I simply just reached out to him and asked if he mind having lunch and sharing with me the success of his business and how he’s done so. He was more than happy to do so. It seems that a lot of people have, when it comes to building a business … And I’ve seen this through me personally in my business, clients, and friends, and their business. People tend to up on these hurdles or obstacles and they are afraid to ask for help. Your life will be a lot easier if you just people for help when you know you need to and you’re be surprise how willing most people will be to help you.

Vera Fischer: That’s true, and the best way we can connect with you?

Dan Nuwash: You can always find through our website, which is financeforthought.com. You can also connect with me on Twitter @finance4thought, they wouldn’t let me use F-O-R because I guess it was just too long of a name. And you can always connect with me on LinkedIn you can find me as Dan Nuwash.

There’s not a whole lot of Nuwashes in America out there so if you just type in Nuwash, you’re probably find me. You can always email me too at dnuwash@americaportfolios.com. And if you get a little in obligated to call us you can find our contact info throughout website.

Vera Fischer: Well, System Execution fans, no matter how many notes you took or how often you re-listen to this episode. The key is, every successful business uses systems to drive to a better outcome. Dan, I want to thank you so much for sharing your expertise and insight to our listeners today.

Daniel Nuwash: It was my pleasure. Thank you very much for having me.

We hope you found this episode of System Execution enlightening. For free examples, case studies, E-books, and more, be sure to visit systemexecution.com/resources. Contribute to the conversation by reaching out to Vera directly on email at vera@systemexecution.com. Until our next episode, thank you for the privilege of your time.




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