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Keynote Speaking Topic List

Sara Grillo Keynote Speaking Topic List

Here’s a list of the topics I speak about!

How to Slay on LinkedIn

Financial and insurance advisors report limited success reaching new clients or recruits through online platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. In this 45 minute seminar, you will learn techniques that have been proven to create new opportunities for advisors such as:

  • Messaging strategies that allow you to communicate with your online network and avoid coming across as 99% of advisors do, making them become part of the noise and causes people to want to ignore them
  • Follow up strategies to stay in touch with your online network spanning multiple methods (newsletter, phone, etc.) that integrate with your online brand, reinforce your value and key messaging points, and move you one step closer to your target
  • Branding strategies that will convey a powerful message with words that go beyond the typical industry jargon and set you apart from the rest of advisors

The internet is very powerful for advisors of all types who are trying to reach people of all types, but succeeding online takes skill and advanced knowledge that few advisors have. This seminar will fill in the gaps suffered widely across the industry and provide a remarkable advantage to those who are willing to integrate this knowledge into their practices.

Websites That Slay

Let’s face it. There’s nothing worse than financial advisor websites. In this highly interactive joint presentation, Sara Grillo teams up with industry thought leader Dan Solin to present advisors with the formula for a total overhaul of their websites so they can become a website that slays the competition.

This presentation will include:

  • An interactive website contest, “Rank My Website” in which advisor’s websites are evaluated and ranked by the audience with prizes give out to the top entries
  • A game of “How Do You See This Without Jargon Or Cliché?” in which advisors will learn what the correct message should be for their websites, and how to express it
  • The opportunity for advisors to pre-influence the subject matter discussed by providing their feedback via survey prior to the show

This talk is not for those who prefer to sit back and snooze! Only companies that truly wish to gain the edge versus the competition should select this talk.

The Cool Way to Talk About Insurance

There’s nothing that makes people want to run the other way faster than a financial advisor trying to push insurance. In this joint presentation, Sara Grillo, CFA, and Barry Flagg, CFP® will break the pattern by teaching advisors how to communicate with higher integrity, transparency, and clarity when they speak about insurance to clients and COIs within their practice.

Advisors will learn:

  • The questions you should ask clients and COIs within your practice to bring to light the truth about the last, largest, most-neglected, and worst-performing asset on their balance sheets
  • Integrating talks into your practice about the numbers that matter – how including certain metrics can lead to higher insights about the true costs and performance of people’s life insurance policies.
  • How to use Prudent Investor principles to eliminate the competition still using misleading, inappropriate, and unreliable policy reviews
  • How to align your practice with the “clients’ best interests” movement

This talk will include:

  • Live role play and participation from the audience in a game format
  • Periodic 35 second dance breaks to avoid monotony
  • Special effects such as Barry Flagg lighting a life insurance illustration on fire because that’s certainly a higher and better use of them than for product selection (Optional)

Getting That First Meeting with a Female Prospect

The fact that women are the gender of the future for advisors to focus on is well documented. There’s been a great deal of commentary from industry thought leaders about what women want and don’t want in an advisor.

What remains unaddressed, however, is the roadmap to the sale: the practical steps advisors can take and what they need to do in order to get in front of more qualified female clients. This talk will propose 5 specific marketing strategies for advisors to follow to get the first meeting with female clients.

Intended audience: female and male advisors of all types, broker/dealer, hybrid, RIA firm, independent, wirehouse, etc.

Pick from a choice of these special effects (optional):

  • Chocolate fountain with choice of fruit, Biscotti, or Amaretto biscuits
  • Shower of $100 dollar confetti
  • Fireworks display

Jumping Onboard with New Ways to Get Paid in 2019

Financial advisor compensation is changing and there are now more ways to get paid as an advisor than ever before. Learn how to manage your practice to open up a world of possibility for creating multiple stream of recurring revenue. Advisors will see the impact that this can have on their practices in ways that the industry has not yet adopted, and gain knowledge of how to best utilize the technologies that are powering them.

This talk may include features such as:

  • Lighting a brochure on fire to signal the end of old advisor practice techniques
  • Strobe light display
  • Karaoke performance

The COI Code: How to Talk to Attorneys and Accountants Without Sounding Tacky

Attorneys and accountants are some of the best possible referral sources for financial advisors, but very few are able to crack the code. This talk will cover how to crack in and get past the boundaries these COIs are putting up, why they are disconnecting from you, and how to communicate in a way that connects, empathizes, and allows them to see you as a valuable resources that can improve their business profitability rather than another advisor looking for a handout.

Advisors will learn:

  • How gaining more influence over the COI requires a deeper understanding of their business and the challenges they face.
  • Why COIs disconnect when you try to help them
  • Methods for financially empowering your COI partners by skillfully managing your practice
  • Best tips for understanding and defining the roles the COI and the advisor play in the financial planning process including consultative questioning methods that reinforce practice discipline
  • Questions not to ask a COI
  • How to maximize financial planning for the COI impact through wise practice management
  • Advice for positioning your practice as an advocate for the CPA
  • How to position yourself as a financial planning resource to them, one with answers that are available on an ongoing basis and through various methods.
  • How to do all of this in a way that makes you not sound tacky

Building Trust Through (Non Boring) Sales Follow Up

The follow up after an initial meeting is one of the best opportunities an advisor has to build trust and show the differentiation in your brand. However most advisor follow up is boring and non-customized. Integrated technology platforms are now changing the game, bringing advisors more opportunity to set themselves apart and build trust in this crucial stage of the relationship building process.

In this 60 minute talk, advisors will learn:

  • How to use automated tools to increase frequency and differentiation of follow up through queries that expose valuable data patterns
  • How to vary follow up using creative methods that go beyond the traditional email and phone call combination
  • How to apply accents of personal attention to each follow up without costing you a ton of time
  • Old versus new methods of reaching clients
  • How the competitive landscape has changed and what your prospects are experiencing from the rest of the world in the method and type of message delivery

A Guide to Talking to the Next Generation Children of Your Clients So They (Actually) Listen

The fact that Generations X and Y are the next generation of wealth is well-documented. What remains to be explored, however, is how advisors can best design their practices to communicate and build relationships with the next generations of their clients’ families. If not, fee compression and roboadvisors pose a very large competitive threat. Using the right words (as opposed to the dry cliché and jargon), using digital communication methods, and rethinking branding elements such as your attire and office design play an important part in reaching this population and ensuring continuity in your practice.

This presentation is highly interactive and includes quiz questions involving volunteers from the audience where chocolate and prizes are awarded for correct answers and calisthenics are required for incorrect answers.

Workshop: The Toolkit for Building a Brand that is not a #FinancialCliche

The ability to differentiate yourself as a financial advisor matters now more than ever. Yet most advisor branding is a constant stream of jargon, cliché, and sameness.

In this three hour workshop, advisors will learn:

  • What qualifies as a valid brand vs. an invalid brand
  • How to design a LinkedIn page that expresses your brand and attracts attention
  • How to explain what you do without sounding like a cliché
  • 6 phrases not to use when you talk about what you do
  • Email and out of office messaging with style and personality
  • How style of dress, personal grooming, office design, and pets can be used to reflect your brand
  • Blogging, podcasting, and other content strategies that should be done in a cliché-free fashion, and how to achieve this

This presentation is highly interactive and includes quiz sessions involving volunteers from the audience. Chocolate and prizes are awarded for correct answers and calisthenics are required for incorrect answers. Humor is also highly utilized in delivery of this workshop.

Re-envisioning the Modern CPA Practice

Being a CPA isn’t as easy as it used to be. Infiltration from competitive pressures such as the gig economy, the do-it-yourself movement, and artificial intelligence have forced the traditional servicing model into a state of commoditization. This workshop will inform CPAs what they need to know in order to elevate their practices so that they can reap the demand for the advanced strategic and consultative advising that the market highly values.

Becoming a Technology Evangelist in the Age of Star Trek

Financial advising is entering the final frontier and the dawn of technology advancement has touched every facet of the industry, from the operations to service delivery, client communications, trading, prospecting, and beyond. How can operational professionals best equip the teams they support to maximize technological success in the age of Star Trek?

In this 45 minute talk designed specifically for home office operational professionals, we will cover:

  • The role of the operations professional as adopters of technology solutions
  • What it takes to be a technology evangelist within your firm
  • The “internal clients” of the operations professional are the advisors. How do you win their trust, help them overcome resistance to change, and by doing so best support their ease of adoption?
  • Embracing innovation as a friend as opposed to an enemy. How to help your team recognize the speed of rapid adoption of robadvisor and TAMP technologies in the industry and the fee compression that invariably will result unless it is matched by an equal embrace of technology by the advisor.
  • A four step process for becoming an evangelist
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How to Talk to Millennials so They Actually Listen

The fact that millennials are the next generation of wealth is well-documented. What remains to be explored, however, is how advisors can best design their practices to communicate with Millennials as clients. Using the right words is an important part of reaching this population. Advisor language has typically been dry, impersonal, and full of cliché and jargon. This has to change if advisors want to retain assets and succeed with intergenerational wealth transfer within their books of business. If not, fee compression and roboadvisors pose a very large competitive threat.

This webinar will teach advisors what they need to know about how to communicate effectively with Generation Y. It will cover:

  • The buzzwords that been commonly used in the past but won’t work with Millennial clients and should be avoided.
  • Terms and phrases that Millennials are more open to hearing, and that advisors should integrate into their communications with clients
  • The tone and voice that advisors should use when communicating with Millennials
  • What body language, office design, and choice of apparel (tie or no tie?) say that words never could
  • Client follow up strategies using digital communication that will be more effective than ones of the past
  • And more!


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What I Think of Michael Kitces’ Opinion of Investopedia Advisor Insights [Digital Strategy for Financial Advisors]

The other day I was reading Michael Kitces’ take on participating in Investopedia’s Advisor Insights program. This allows advisors to post articles on Investopedia’s highly ranked website which supposedly puts them in front of a wider audience. The basis of his argument is that Investopedia stands to benefit more than the advisor because they get rights to the content, the content ranks, and they benefit from the SEO and hence the advertising dollars. Instead of “building someone else’s business for free”, as Kitces puts it, start your own blog on your own website (Kitces, 2016).

I love Michael’s analysis here and think the logic behind it is very smart. While I agree with Kitces’ point, I also see a few ideas that this article neglected to mention. These points are important for advisors to consider if they are creating a digital marketing strategy.

The Backlink Can Help Your Google Rank

When the advisor responds to the question, his or her name, picture, and website url are posted along with the response. This creates what is called a backlink to your website.

Why are backlinks important? Because the more backlinks a site has, the higher it ranks in Google. Google trusts websites that are highly backlinked because it shows that people pay attention to it. There are marketing firms dedicated to “link building” as this is called.

Link building works best if the site that is linking to yours has a higher domain authority than your own. Investopedia has a high score so any backlink you get from them is a worthy one.

It Helps The “Surround Sound” Effect

For advisors who are looking to build a niche, and if you follow other blogs I’ve written you know that this is something I strongly advocate for, it can be highly useful to appear in publications across the board that discuss a certain subject.

For example, if I were to position myself as an advisor for small business owners, I should create a presence with some regularity in several of the publications that small business owners read. For example, Small Business Digest, and maybe Entrepreneur, and then a few other trade rags.

And I could top it off nicely by responding, here and there, to a question on Investopedia Advisor Insights about how business owners can create a 401k plan for their employees most effectively or something.

So if you were to meet me and Google my name, you’d see that my website and I come up in several different places as an authority in finance for small business owners (that’s again because of all the link building).

Or, more importantly, do this enough and the people reading these publications will eventually start to recognize you. You want them to say to themselves, “Geez, I see this person everywhere I go. He or she must be pretty important.” Now, you’ve got to post up some pretty insightful content in order to do this. Commitment and consistent visibility along with well thought out ideas will get you noticed.

Most Advisors Don’t Have Substantial Website Traffic

While I have a great respect for all that Kitces discusses in this article, I feel that his recommendation that advisors start a blog on their own website could benefit from a few in depth insights.

The first insight is the fact that most advisor websites aren’t getting much traffic at all. Maybe it is just me and whom I am speaking with, but I find that the average advisor I know gets less than 50 views on his or her website per day. Much of the traffic is probably vendors, their own employees, or their own clients. With this level of visibility, you have quite a ways to go before you start drumming up business from your own blog.

Moreover, I find that most advisors are so pressed for time (and even moreso in a down market) that creating one blog post every two weeks is a stretch for them. It will be especially hard for them to justify spending this time in the beginning before they see the rewards.

So given both these factors, how can an advisor take Kitces’ idea (which is a great one) and translate that into practical reality?

Here’s where I’m going to advocate for participating in programs such as Investopedia’s or others, to some extent. Maybe Investopedia isn’t the one. As I mentioned, there are numerous publications that will accept guest articles. Publish awesome content that gets viewed on these websites and then redirect this traffic back to your own blog.

It would go something like this:

  • Publish article or blurb on third party site
  • Reader visits your site. When they do, make sure you have something on your landing page to direct them to your blog so you can build their interest further. Make sure that blog content is Good with a capital G!
  • On your landing page, have an email capture prompt that asks people to submit their email address
  • Send out a newsletter every few weeks directing these captured email people back to your blog. Again, feature Good content with a capital G!

Sara’s Upshot

Most advisors don’t have the time to produce a guest blog and one blog for their website every month. In that case, consider a ghostwriter but make sure the person is knowledgeable about finance enough to express sophisticated ideas. If not, your content won’t get any attention.

Thanks for reading and I hope by now you’ve signed up for my newsletter to receive notifications about my YouTube livestream. I host a session every month where I answer advisors’ marketing questions free of charge live on my channel. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified directly as well.


Kitces, Michael. (2016, March 24). Investopedia Advisor Insights: Why Most Financial Advisors Should Skip It. Retrieved from

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The Right Way to Make a Small Advisory Firm Appear Larger

Somewhere in the deep recesses of the Internet, a crafty little marketing consultant figured out how to make a small advisory firm look bigger than it is. I’ll show you a few ways to present the scale of your business based on your true merit.

But first I’ll go over a few commonly used and slightly-less-than-scrupulous tactics that you should avoid.