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Keynote Speaking Topic List

Sara Grillo Keynote Speaking Topic List

I am a financial services keynote speaker. I specialize in discussing financial communications. Companies hire me to speak because I answer the following questions:

  • How can the client-facing people at my company get more attention from clients by using creativity instead of the same old cliche and jargon?
  • What does it take to communicate effectively in the modern age? How is this going to change over the next 5-20 years?
  • What are some mistakes that people at my company may be making as they communicate with clients, vendors, strategic partners, and each other?
  • As demographic groups within the financial industry change, how does my company need to change to be able to accommodate the up and coming people who will be playing a bigger role in the future?

Below you will find a list of my best talks. Contact me if you think your team would benefit from hearing about these. Each talk is 45 minutes long and the cost ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 depending upon location and other factors.


Each talk has to option to include stunt such as burning an insurance policy up on stage, chocolate fountain, karoake skit, etc. These are available upon request.

How to Throw Down on LinkedIn

Financial and insurance advisors report limited success reaching new clients or recruits through online platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. In this 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.

How to Throw Down on YouTube

YouTube is one of the fastest growing search engines on the internet and an opportunity that very few financial advisors have not yet tapped.

In this seminar specifically designed for financial advisors, Sara will demonstrate techniques for getting your brand out on YouTube and finding new clients. You’ll learn:

  • Why YouTube is the #1 opportunity for financial advisor marketing in 2019
  • What the very few financial advisors who have been gigantically successful on YouTube have done
  • Why the rest of the competition won’t do this – and why you should!
  •  How to create a YouTube platform that will serve your target niche
  • Techniques for going about the more advanced strategies such as YouTube advertising
  • What not to do on YouTube

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 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.

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

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 (optional).

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.

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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.