Not every advisor-hosted podcast should be about investing: “Boring!” says UBS financial advisor Mitch Slater, whose popular “Financially Speaking with Mitch Slater” podcast never discusses investing or the market. Instead, he delivers financial and business success stories in interviews with entrepreneurs, corporate executives, celebrities and personal finance authors.
The show has brought Slater substantial business, though it isn’t intended as a prospecting tool, the senior vice president tells ThinkAdvisor in an interview.
Slater, 59, had a bit of leverage when he launched the podcast in January 2019: His prior career was in broadcasting, where he was an associate producer for the likes of talk show stars Larry King and David Susskind.
The FA’s UBS practice with partner Ann Trainor, the Slater-Trainor Group, has assets under management of about $300 million. Accounts average $1 million to $10 million in size.
On the podcast, Slater has interviewed, among many others, JetBlue Airways Chairman Joel Peterson; Larry King, now hosting shows on Hulu and RT America; rock music photographer Pamela Springsteen; musician-actor Steve Van Zandt; and Gary Vaynerchuk, multimedia company VaynerX chairman and CEO of ad agency VaynerMedia, as well as a slew of entrepreneurs like Ali and Lauren Borowick, sister co-founders of “Fatty Sundays,” purveyors of chocolate-covered pretzels.
“Financially Speaking” is all about branding — a way for listeners to get to know Slater, the Springfield, New Jersey-reared FA says in the interview. Here’s a bio bullet point: He is a major Bruce Springsteen fan, who has attended nearly 300 of the rock singer-songwriter’s performances worldwide.
Has “The Boss” been a “Financially Speaking” guest? Slater discusses that in the interview, along with how his enthusiasm for Springsteen’s work has ultimately led to acquiring new clients.
To date, the advisor has hosted 75 podcast episodes, and his roster of upcoming guests is jam-packed. Included are pandemic-related interviews, such as a talk with Billie Jean King about sports during the crisis and LinkedIn managers providing tips on how to use the platform for re-doing one’s profile for a job search or to seek new business.
After five years in show business, in 1987 Slater changed gears and became an advisor at Merrill Lynch, where he spent the next 18 years — and hosted a radio show interviewing folks such as Peter Lynch and Al Gore — before moving to Smith Barney and then, in 2010, to UBS.
ThinkAdvisor recently held a phone interview with Slater, who was speaking from home in Westfield, New Jersey, where his UBS office is also located. The accomplished on-air host offered some podcasting tips, including this critical one: “Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.” A good idea, as well, when dispensing financial advice to clients, as Slater himself learned at the start of his financial services career.
Here are highlights of our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: Do you discuss investing and the stock market on your podcast?
MITCH SLATER: Never. I’m the opposite of CNBC and Bloomberg.
So you wouldn’t interview a fund manager, say?
No — boring! Talking about the market — about, for instance, municipal bonds — I can’t think of a more boring story. I want [listeners] to be intrigued. I don’t believe that doing a show on investing is the right way to build your business. Also, it would be fiscally irresponsible for me to give financial advice. I do that only when I know an individual’s situation.
What, then, do you talk about on “Financially Speaking with Mitch Slater”?
Things I’m passionate about and that I think other people are interested in and might enjoy, which have a business or financial spin. For example, I’ve done shows on kids and money and newlyweds and money and the new look of HR in business.
What’s the purpose of having a podcast?
I built my business through marketing, developing a brand that people feel comfortable with. I previously had a radio show when I was with Merrill Lynch and then UBS. With the podcast, to have a strong relationship and develop trust, I want people to get to know me.
How does the podcast help your brand?
I don’t look at this as a typical ROI — return on investment. I look at it as an ROR — return on relationships.
So is this mostly about prospecting for new clients?
It’s brought in significant business, but that’s not because I’m prospecting. It’s just part of my brand. I’m aiming at a general audience. I post the episodes on LinkedIn. All my clients listen; I get feedback and referrals from them, as well as from the connections of people I interview.
Do other financial advisors listen to your show?
Yes, and I hear from many of them, certainly [FAs] at UBS who are considering doing their own show. If their first question is, “What’s been the return on your investment?” — I pay for my show’s production work — I know they want to have a podcast for the wrong reason. As I said, it’s about the return on relationships.
Who have you interviewed during the coronavirus pandemic?
I’ve tried to correlate things as much as I can to what matters now. I have a show coming up with some top folks at LinkedIn talking about how people should be adapting and redoing their profiles. They’ll give tips for people who have never been on LinkedIn on how to brand themselves and use messaging, LinkedIn Sales Navigator and so on — whether they’re looking for new business or for a job.
Your first career was in broadcasting. How did you get into it?
When I was an undergrad at George Washington University, one of my internships was with Howard Stern at DC101 [radio station]. The second week I was there, in walks this lanky guy coming on like a ball of fire. He said, “Kid, put on [some] headphones!” I said, “I’m not supposed to be on the air.” He said, “I got it. You’re on the air!” So for about four months, I was basically [Stern’s sidekicks-to-be] Robin [Quivers], Gary [Dell’Abate] and Fred [Norris] all rolled into one.
Larry King hired you for your first real job when you were fresh out of college. Have you had him on the podcast?