The Cold Call That Changed My Life

by Francesca Federico CPFA®, AIF®, CDFA®, Principal and Co-Founder

Let me set the scene here. It was at the beginning of my career, and I was a 22-year-old female Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley, where the average advisor at my office was 45, white, male and had an established clientele. Needless to say, I was the only person cold calling for clients. My father owns an automotive collision business in Dorchester and my mother is a nurse. So, even though I can change a tire, sand a fender and I’m good with some Neosporin and gauze, calling strangers to see if they wanted to discuss their finances with me was more challenging than anything I’d ever done before. Why? It’s constant rejection. But like everything else, I got used to it. The following words from my Papa were ingrained in me: “You’re a Federico, we’re tough!” After a month or so making cold calls, I realized I actually felt bad for the people who never let the call turn into a conversation, because in my mind, they were missing out.

So, back to this call that changed my life. I was calling business owners by town, alphabetically. The next business up was a fabrication business, and the owner’s name was Ray. Two rings and I’m on: “Hello” “Hi is Ray there please?” “This is Ray.” Into my spiel I went. I like to think I’m entertaining, so I got a chuckle or two out of him. We ended up having a longer conversation than most calls. At the end, he told me he had an advisor at another firm and, for the time being, he was all set. However, during our call, he happened to mention he had  some elbow pain. The following week, I decided to visit Ray in person at work and drop off some gel that my dad uses for his aches and pains. Ray wasn’t there, so I left it with his son, who works with him. The week after that, I finally got to meet Ray.

Rarely do you meet a person who is so full of energy and positive about life. Ray has an incredible memory and is an avid reader, which makes him a great story teller and entrepreneur. Over the following month, we continued to connect by phone and in person, and I learned that despite the age difference, we had a lot in common. A month or so after I’d cold called Ray, he decided to become a client.

Fast forward to now. Ray is one of my favorite people in the world and an amazing mentor. He is 83 going on 25, with a zest for life that most 25-year-olds don’t even have. I look back at our relationship and can’t believe that if I hadn’t made that cold call, I would have never met him. I would make a million more calls to meet another client like Ray. When we started Twelve Points, he was one of my biggest cheerleaders and he embodies what our firm is all about; he’s a part of our family and I would do anything for him.

Building a client base through cold calling was tough, but when I found out people like Ray were out there, it made it much easier to pick up the phone. I’ll leave you with three life lessons I’ve learned from Ray so that you, too, can benefit from his generosity and wisdom:

  1. Become friends with people who aren’t your age. This is how you will see the world. This is how you will grow.
  2. Never be too busy to meet someone new.
  3. The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.


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