For their first 25 years in business, married financial planners Dianne and Thomas Melton, founders of Melton Financial Group in Roseville, Calif., didn't tell clients about their previous lives as Las Vegas performers.
"We didn't feel people would want to relate to our showbiz past if we were handling millions of their dollars," Thomas says. But a marketing expert they met challenged their thinking, telling them, "People are going to buy you before they buy your credentials."
These days, the Meltons not only tell the story of Dianne's singing career and Thomas' as a drummer, they teach and enable other advisors to open up about their pre-planning lives as well. "For the most part, none of us grew up dreaming of becoming financial planners," says Dianne, gesturing to the more than 2,000 planners milling about at the FPA annual conference in San Diego in September. "We did a million other things first. Our clients want to know who we really are."
In the Meltons' case, their performing pasts ended up coming in particularly handy when they were asked to make regular workshops for clients more engaging than the typical dog-and-pony show. Back then, Dianne sang under the stage name Charli in a regular show on the strip and even made it on the hallowed set of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. At the same time, Thomas was pounding the skins for a wide variety of performers, including Frankie Avalon, Wayne Newton and Frank Sinatra.
By the time he became the regular drummer for Siegfried & Roy, he realized synthesizers were growing in popularity and couldn't be sure of his future job security. So he and Dianne, who also craved a more stable career, began selling insurance during the day before their shows, ultimately becoming planners.
The Meltons say they've been so happy with the way their stories help them connect with new clients that they've started another business called Advisors Gateway. The new venture helps planners launch professional-looking websites. It offers splashy bios that let prospective clients in on each advisor's unique backstory. The Meltons also teach advisors how to put together compelling workshop presentations.
They also urge planners to tout their significant life experiences. "It shows clients commitment, vision and integrity," Thomas says.