We at Cambridge have been fortunate to work with Ray Castaldi – the founder and president of Castaldi Financial Solutions – for over 18 years. Every time I have the pleasure of chatting with Ray, a Spirit of Cambridge¹ honoree, I’m always fascinated to hear more about his approach to building valuable and lasting relationships with clients. To me, this is one of the most important skills in becoming a successful financial professional. Not surprisingly, Ray shares several unique and beneficial insights in this Cambridge Stronger episode.
Similar to other Cambridge financial professionals I’ve spoken to on this podcast series, Ray had a pretty remarkable start to his career. I begin our talk by asking him to share with the audience how he got started in the finance industry.
“Well, I was in the supermarket industry right out of college and it just wasn't really my passion,” Ray began. “Marketing is what I studied in college, and it wasn't my cup of tea. The company I'd worked for ended up closing. So, I was kind of hunting around, looking for something, and a friend of mine told me that I should go see this guy at the life insurance office in New London, and that's where I went.”
“It was a good fit at the time. I worked with him for about 14 years, and then they closed down the New London office. So one of my financial service professional mentors in the business took me under his wing, showed me how to become an independent businessman.”
Ray’s unique journey into our profession is just one example of why I’m a big believer that there’s no ‘one way’ of getting started in this industry. I mention to Ray that it amazes me how many people ‘stumble’ into this career, some by complete accident. After knowing Ray for as long as I have, it’s easy to see why he’s been so successful. Ray is somebody who loves to help people. Building on this insight, I ask him to speak about his mindset when developing relationships with clients.
“I think when you meet somebody for the first time, whether it's in our business or any place, you try to break the ice a little bit,” Ray said. “You try to find out what they like to talk about. What are their passions? You try to build a little bit of trust. I don't sell anything. I just talk to people, find out what their hot button is, and try to find what keeps them up at night. If there's a way we can create a solution for them, then we do.”
“Back in the sales days, when I was with the insurance company, you make a sale, then they're looking for the next sale. You’re chasing cheese all the time. I just got tired of chasing cheese. Building the relationships was more important to me.”
Ray goes on to explain that a big part of his approach involves providing clear direction and building confidence for clients through education. Ray starts by identifying the client’s top concern, and I think that’s a key step in developing a sound financial plan. Every client is different. Finding what keeps them up at night, and addressing those concerns through education and planning, is important.
I was also interested to hear Ray’s approach to the next generation of investors. After helping a client establish a trust, for example, Ray explained that he will often invite the client’s children to the next meeting so he can discuss the details with the entire family.
“Generally, it happens right after the client has secured their trust or all their legal documents,” Ray said. “I like to request an online meeting just so we can get the children on board with what mom and dad's plans are. We want the kids to know what the plans are – who's the executor, who's the healthcare power of attorney, and so forth. That way, they get to see us. And as we drip on the parents with our marketing, we drip onto the kids as well.”
I commend Ray for taking such a proactive approach. Educating and getting to know a client’s children at a young age are great ways to build a strong connection with the entire family. These are the types of relationships that can last a lifetime.
As our discussion starts to wind down, there’s still one question that I’d like Ray to answer. As somebody who has been highly successful in this business, I’m curious to hear what he’s learned over his career and what kind of advice he would offer to somebody just starting out in the profession.
“This profession is a great business because it really is a people business,” Ray began.
“If you're a people person and you meet people easily, you don't have any problem talking face to face, eyeball to eyeball, it's great. It's a great industry to be involved in because you do so much for those people that you meet. Most people don't really think about this stuff. They're really busy doing everything they need to do to raise a family, work, put food on the table, and put a roof over their head.”
“They really need that extra helping hand, to help them with their finances. It's really crucial that those who may consider getting into the business and the industry have a broker-dealer like Cambridge, who is committed to integrity, commitment, flexibility, and kindness, because that's what it's all about.”
Cambridge is proud to have financial professionals like Ray who share our core values. I really enjoyed speaking with such a special member of the Cambridge Family, and I’m so glad that he decided to join me on the podcast.
Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to listen to my podcast and hear more of this fun conversation with Ray so you can hear him talk about how he focuses on forming strong client relationships.
1The Spirit of Cambridge Award is given annually to independent financial professionals who are dedicated to serving their clients while reflecting Cambridge’s core values of integrity, commitment, flexibility, and kindness. Each year, Cambridge home office associates select three award recipients from a pool of outstanding financial professionals who have been affiliated with Cambridge for at least 10 years. The awards are presented during Ignite, Cambridge’s annual national conference, along with a donation by Cambridge to a qualified charity of each recipient’s choice to further honor their spirit and dedication to their clients, Cambridge and the industry. The Spirit of Cambridge awards began in 2012 to recognize quality financial professionals reflecting the Cambridge spirit, and thousands of dollars has been donated in their honor to charities across the country. Given their dedication to their clients, Cambridge, and the financial services industry, this is a well-deserved award for each honoree.
Testimonial statements and personal experience stories may not be representative of the experience of others and is no guarantee of future performance or success. Quotes are highlights from the podcast episode and may reflect edits for brevity and/or clarity within this blog by Cambridge’s CEO, Amy Webber. These messages and materials are the confidential property of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. (“Cambridge”). The ideas and information in this presentation are general in nature and provided for informational purposes only. The accuracy, completeness, and timeliness of the information cannot be guaranteed. The information contained herein is not intended to render tax, legal, or investment advice. All rights reserved. Further use is prohibited without prior written consent from Cambridge. Please contact ‘email@example.com’ for questions or consent.
Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a broker-dealer, member FINRA/SIPC, and investment advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of Cambridge Investment Group, Inc. Cambridge and Castaldi Financial Solutions are not affiliated.
Testimonial statements and personal experience stories may not be representative of the experience of others and is no guarantee of future performance or success.
Cambridge Stronger – Hosted by Amy Webber