Why I don’t run a “Starbucks” financial firm

My friend Mike runs a coffee shop. Probably the best coffee shop in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Not many people really understand the difference between good coffee and bad coffee because most of the coffee they’ve drunk their entire lives has been… stale (bad) coffee.

Yours Gluteny was the same way until I met Mike.

He taught me a few things like:

– The shelf life of coffee is less than a month.

– Coffee’s flavor peaks within 2 weeks of being roasted and after that the volatile oils in the beans start to oxidize.

– Light roast has more caffeine than dark roast (most people believe “strong” coffee is dark but it’s literally the opposite).

– The way you extract the most flavor, color, and caffeine from coffee is by brewing it by hand (which is expensive) and brewing it at a very precise temperature (also expensive).

– Cheap coffee is bitter or has a burnt taste to it which is why big box and chain stores add tons of sugar and artificial flavorings.

– Good coffee actually has a distinct (and very strong)  flavor (e.g. chocolate, raspberries, apple, ginger, etc.), and doesn’t need any sugar or flavorings. In fact, additional flavorings would make the coffee taste WORSE, not better.

Incidentally, Mike sells drip coffee that’s closer to what you might get at a big box store but he always recommends people go for a hand-poured cup because the quality is exponentially higher.


According to Mike, most people who go into the coffee shop business don’t do it because they love coffee. They do it because they think they can make lots and lots of money.

They’re primarily growth-driven instead of being passionate about what they’re selling.

Now, to be fair, most people who BUY coffee don’t really think too deeply about what they’re drinking and I seen a lot of people come into his shop and not want to bother with a hand-poured cup.

They just plain don’t want it. Nothing wrong with that. And, in fact, for some people, it’s totally justifiable.

For starters, it takes longer to prepare a cup of hand-poured coffee. The beans and water have to be measured precisely, and well… most people are impatient and just want the damn thing in their hand so they can go about their day.

They’re not interested in the taste or in enjoying the coffee. They’re interested in the caffeine but don’t want to take caffeine pills because that probably looks like they have some kind of drug problem.

Plus, it’s more expensive. Not a lot more expensive, but definitely more expensive than stuff that’s already made.

Anyway, point?

Lots of large financial firms want to be “the Starbucks of financial firms,” churning out financial plans and offering personal advice in a scalable, consistent, manner.

In fact, one very famous financial planner plans to grow his business this way, saying in an interview, “You have to adopt a Starbucks methodology.”

According to my friend Mike, (and I’m paraphrasing here so sorry if I don’t get this 100% accurate) Starbucks sells stale, bitter, over-roasted (burnt) coffee that they then cover up with artificial flavorings and sugar.

They have to do it this way because it’s the only way to scale a coffee business and turn something with a short shelf life into a product that’s always in stock and which people can buy “on demand.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

There’s definitely a market for that product obviously given how many Starbucks locations there are in the U.S.

Back to financial planning.

Personalized financial advice isn’t scalable.

That’s just the nature of a service-oriented business.

Theoretically, a firm could introduce a lot of interactive educational material, but this is time-consuming and expensive to do properly, so most firms don’t bother.

To scale a financial service business, you have to provide stale and generic financial advice… use generic financial templates and then try to stuff clients into the template.

This is why large brokerage firms never sell custom whole life insurance, boutique investment plans, or even do individualized lifetime stock selection plans for clients.

That kind of thing would never scale and it’s hard.

And since easy pays the bills just as well as hard, most firms take the easy route that scales their business.

Is that best for the client?

I mean… some people like Starbucks coffee so it doesn’t really matter to them.

Other people like customized products and services, and will go to a coffee shop like Mike’s to get hand-poured coffee.

Speaking of which, if you want a custom life insurance and savings plan “hand built” for you, then get on my email list.

It’s the only way to sign up to become a client or have me review your life insurance plan.

David Lewis, AKA The Rogue Agent, has been a life insurance agent since 2004, and has worked with some of the oldest and most respected mutual life insurance companies in the U.S. during that time. To learn more about him and his business, go here.