Ian Bloom, CFP®, is a nerdy financial planner and proud of it. In this interview with him, I got to ask him all about his path to financial planning, how he’s developed his own “niche” based on his interests, and the importance of sharing expertise.
This discussion is a really interesting dive into how one Certified Financial Planner™ found his way in the profession, using unconventional approaches to both his practice and his market.
Ian’s superhero origin story
It wouldn’t be a nerdy interview without a superhero origin story, and Ian shared his with me. While he was attending Appalachian State, Ian met his girlfriend (now wife) and went home with her to meet the parents. There, he met her father, Stephen Brody — if you’re a big follower of YAFPNW, was on the podcast way back on Episode 90. Ian fell in love with what Stephen showed him about “financial life planning” and the rest is history.
He started working as Stephen’s mentee at a captive insurance firm and other firms before eventually starting his own firm, Open World Financial Planning. He officially became a CFP® in December 2018 and is also NexGen director for his local FPA chapter’s board. On top of running his own firm and helping out so much in the NexGen community, Ian has a fascinating niche audience — one that stems from his own nerdiness (said with a smile).
Nerds + money
Ian loves games; video games, card games, RPGs, you name it. He’s also a self-professed nerd and shares a lot of content with themes related to gaming. Even his company name, Open World, is a nod to video game and comic culture. How has this helped him in his firm?
It’s given him his own very unique target market. As he said during our discussion, he’s uniquely equipped to understand how “nerdy” clients want to invest their money, or what to do when someone has a massive comic book collection. Most of all, he’s able to really understand his clients’ financial planning needs because, as he puts it, what they care about is more important than finances. Finances are just what makes the things they care about possible. All of this, as well as his close mentor/mentee relationship with his father-in-law, have led Ian to embrace “financial life planning” in his own practice.
Life planning + systems
Financial life planning, as Ian put it, is about being more concerned with what your clients want from their life than what sort of assets they have under management. You start with what they care about, what they want to do, and then you consider the financial elements that will help them get there. Of course, Ian is by no means the first person to embrace this approach, but he does share a ton of resources and places to go for information and training in the financial life planning arena. (See shownotes below!)
He’s also big on systems, and explained the importance of creating systems that allow each of his clients to have a meaningful experience when working with him. These systems include the initial meeting, as well as exercises to work through their interests and wants before collecting the numbers. Ian takes a “purpose first” approach to his clients’ finances, and I think it’s something you new planners out there will definitely resonate with.
Sharing easter eggs (sometimes for free)
There’s one other thing I really wanted to talk to Ian about: all of the content he creates. He has a great website, tons of blogs, and a pretty extensive YouTube channel. He also just published his first book, A Gamer’s Guide to Money. While many CFP® professionals might hesitate to create free content and put it out there, Ian has no qualms. He also talked about the “long game” with his content; he knows that a single video isn’t going to go viral and book him a million clients overnight. But when people stumble across his content, that builds a relationship. There’s a statistic that Ian shared with me: It takes 10 pieces of content before someone reaches out to you about your product/services. At this rate, Ian should be doing pretty well for himself in a few years!
My main takeaway from this discussion is that Ian is a NexGen planner with big goals and a voracious appetite for learning. Not only does he share a ton of great resources in our interview, but the level of attention and care he’s put into his practice is really inspiring. I think many NexGen planners out there who feel “shoehorned” into selling product in their firm or who are unsure about who they want to serve will get a lot out of this episode, so make sure to tune in.
What You’ll Learn:
- Ian’s origin story
- The pressure younger planners may feel to sell products instead of plan
- How to create a personal brand around your non-planning interests
- The power of interests and expertise in attracting the right clientele
- What financial life planning means
- The idea of “purpose first” in financial planning
- How to build your skills and competency around life planning
- The importance of systems and processes in life planning
- Organizations and resources you can leverage to help you in your new career
- The power of a really good support system
- Why you should explore creative pursuits in addition to your career
- The value in sharing expertise (for free) in a medium that works for you
- What “WID” means and how to apply it to your clients
In this episode of YAFPNW, I talk to Ian Bloom about:
- His firm, Open World Financial Life Planning
- Stephen Brody (who was a guest on Episode 90!)
- Brody’s model, Inspired Financial Planning
- Kinder Institute started by George Kinder and The Registered Life Planner Designation
- Great resources for NexGen planners who want to learn more about their career path:
- Ian’s YouTube Channel, Nerd Finance
- Ian’s book, A Gamer’s Guide to Money
- Ian + friends’ podcast, Financial Foresight on Spotify and on iTunes
Want to follow Ian? You can find him on Twitter @ianhbloo