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Wally Cato Recommends Sense on Cents

Posted by Larry Doyle on October 28, 2010 5:42 AM |

“Larry is our greatest writer on the economy.”

The Register, the official publication of the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants recently interviewed Forrest Wallace Cato. Who is ‘Wally’ Cato? Well, read on, as Wally is easily the most interesting individual with whom I have ever crossed paths. In fact, I would rate Wally Cato as perhaps one of the single most worldly, well versed, and well connected individuals of the modern era.

You don’t believe me? Read on.

I challenge you to match Wally’s life with that of almost anybody in the world today. Wally is conversant on an exceptionally wide array of topics. I am highlighting an interview with him in the most recent edition of The Register because he speaks at length on the state of financial planning in our nation today and he graciously has some nice things to say about yours truly and Sense on Cents.

What nice things? When Wally Cato was asked,

Who are some of your favorite famous friends?

To name a few, country singer Roy Acuff because he was always so kind to me, as was Norman Vincent Peale, and Art Linkletter. Larry King at CNN sort of took me under his wing and mentored me until I learned how television production works. Mr. King did far more for me than I ever did for him. I will forever be indebted to him. Hal Chorney, because he is our hero. Lew Nason, RFC®, because he helps so many insurance agents and planners make more money and serve far more clients. Larry Doyle because of his fantastic talent. Larry is our greatest writer on the economy.

Famous? Really? Greatest writer? Perhaps in my own mind. Clearly Wally is taken to hyperbole but I will take it.  I am not sure how many economic writers Wally reads but I am truly indebted and amazingly humbled by his remarks. I am highlighting this interview not because Wally has paid me such a huge compliment but because people can gain an appreciation for Wally’s huge heart, his financial insights, his keen sense of  integrity, and his ‘joie de vivre.’  This interview is somewhat lengthy but well worth the time.  At times you may find yourself wondering how one man could do so much and meet so many interesting people during one lifetime.

In my opinion, Wally is an example of what any single individual can do if they dream big, live a life filled with ‘sense on cents,’ and push themselves beyond their limits. He provides real lessons for all of us. What is Wally’s greatest lesson and one which I believe we can and should all learn? The fact that, “the greatest risk in life is in never taking one.” 

For those who may just be coming to Sense on Cents for the first time, welcome. Please visit often.

The article and interview on Wally is fairly lengthy. In order to abbreviate it, I will link to Wally’s amazing bio here. For Wally’s thoughts and insights on financial planning, life, and so much more, let’s continue navigating.

What should a financial planner say in his or her media exposures?

Cato: Say something that places you on the side of the angels, but do not proclaim how wonderful and fantastic you are. Think like a sincere consumer advocate. Say what is in the best interest of your prospects. Jerry Royer, RFC®, has spent his forty-five year career following one simple core value he once had written on his business card, “Built on Integrity and Growing With Service”. I think Royer is a great role model because of his never-ending devotion to honesty and integrity.

Who were the most unusual people you interviewed?

Prostitutes, Nazi holocaust survivors, AIDS patients, people in prison, and 9-11 responders. I ended my interview with the WWII Nazi war criminal Albert Speer by telling him I thought he should have been hung after the Nuremburg Trials. After that, I was thrown out. If the judges had known then what we know now Speer would have certainly been executed.

I find Wall Street big shots and White House staffers to be the most pompous and self-important people that I have ever encountered. Howard Jarvis of Proposition Thirteen fame in California was a very great man and a wonderful interview for me. When I interviewed Roy Rogers and Gene Autry I was excited at first because they were my childhood heroes.

Meeting alone with Peter O’Toole and Rod Steiger was special for me because I admired their talents so much. And I will never forget how impressed I was when I was alone with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Seems like great wordage just flowed down from heaven to his lips! He was as eloquent with one person as he was with a massive audience.

Jack Gargan, RFC®, the dynamic founder of the IARFC is always a great interview. He motivated Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura to run for office. Many of our IARFC members in Australia, China, Canada, Bermuda, and the Pacific-Rim countries are so brilliant they also make for great interviews. I’m talking about great professionals like Dr. Jeffrey Chiew of Malaysia; George Flack of Australia, R. Arliss Francis of Bermuda, Alan Wan of Hong Kong and Preecha Swasdpeera of Bangkok. I’ve been blessed to know such people. I’m very fortunate to be in my spot where I can access esteemed professionals who have contributed so much to the growth of financial planning.

What is the most famous media exposure that you have accomplished?

Possibly it was making the TV network news. Remember, the Media Advocate remains hidden behind the scenes and can seldom take credit for anything he or she causes to result. The clients should get all the recognition and attention. I created the saying ‘Hollywood hard’ which means giving parts to the sons and daughters of children who are connected to established stars, major actors, or to leading directors or producers. This term is still used every day in show business in New York and California and refers to that unfair casting practice.

I created a line that was used nationwide for many years on radio. That line was ‘It’s ten o’clock, do you know where your children are?’ I’ve written slogans that are used by the Chambers of Commerce for some cities. I dubbed the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, when the Grand Ole Opry was held there, ‘The mother church of country music’. The list of slogans, themes, and titles goes on. I changed the name of the late and beloved Charlie Jones to Charles ‘Tremendous’ Jones. He was my longest lasting client. I miss him very much. I suggested some powerful stage gimmicks for Elvis Presley, but Colonel Tom Parker rejected them. Years later James Brown used them very successfully.

Is there a valuable free service that you especially recommend for RFCs?

There are two. Both are internet newsletters. I know there are over ten thousand free internet newsletters but these are two that will help you stay on the cutting-edge. Sign-up now for the free newsletter The Money Making Insider’s Marketing & Sales Tips at and also, Larry Doyle, recently appointed President of Greenwich Investment Management, writes extensively helping planners and agents navigate our economic landscape at Sense on Cents (

Have you experienced personal and business failures? Will you talk about them?

Of course. On the personal side I have failed to learn to play the violin. About every five years or so I pick-up the violin and practice a little for four-or-five days. Then I stop. During thirty years of doing this I have never learned to play the violin. I admire good musicians like those who made Nashville into ‘Music City USA.’ I especially admire and envy the great debonair financial planner Donald Ray Haas, RFC®, of Birmingham, MI. Haas has remained a leading financial planner for fifty-five years, an MDRT member for over twenty-five years, and a musician in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for twenty years. Successful planner Phil Calandra, RFC®, of Kennesaw, GA, is also great on the trumpet and performs at churches and charitable events.

On the professional side I once advised Jack Canfield to forget about trying to get Chicken Soup For The Soul published. Jack was the co-author along with Mark Victor Hansen. I passed on this book and explained that up until that time no anthology had ever sold well. Boy was I wrong! That book and other titles in the Chicken Soup series became one of the most successful selling series of books in all of book publishing history.

I have experienced three unfortunate failures with financial related clients during almost thirty years. But fortunately they involved only brief encounters. Each was for the same reason. The client insisted on telling me what to do plus when and how to do it. They wanted immediate fantastic results on a limited budget. When I lost control like that I had no confidence that I could achieve anything. I knew their objectives could not be accomplished by their means and methods. Anyone can get anything on the Internet but that’s about it.

Those failures I experienced were tragic because each of the three could have become famous, more respected, and far more successful in their markets, but they never did. Each was a very attractive person with many high appeal factors. But I was unable to subordinate myself to their imperious dictates. I wanted to work for them but could not figure-out how to do that effectively. This was frustrating. They had no real experience in my specialty and didn’t realize when their image-building efforts were ineffective. But they had good intentions.

Once I had a planner who swindled me and ironically he specialized in servicing police officers. But the vast majority of my clients have been responsible, disciplined, intelligent, and honorable people. I actually love most of them and treasure our long term relationships. They are credits to their profession. I am most thrilled when we make the huge publicity scores that are very difficult to achieve. I’m very thankful for my clients and consider myself fortunate to work for and with them.

How important are books for planners today?

The legitimate book publishing industry is in a disastrous condition due to the present economy, the effects of new technology, and as a result of changing consumer habits. Today I am flooded with resumes from book editors. The hardback book is presently in danger of becoming a relic of the past.

When I first began calling on book editors to place books years ago, I could not afford a hotel room in New York City so I slept on the editor’s couches, or in seats at all-night movie houses around Times Square.

Once I advised planners not to self-publish because vanity books have no real distribution, no exposure, no reviews, and are generally assumed to be amateur efforts. A vanity book can not possibly be a contender for any legit best-seller list. If you have to pay to get printed then go with a major book publisher as most have a custom print-run department. If you do that then you get a major house’s logo on your book and the book is not immediately recognized as a vanity book. But most planners do not know this. Such a book is also more professionally designed and the effort may be edited to correct amateur writing.

Presently I’m like most major book publishers and editors in that I do not know what to think, expect, or suggest now regarding books. I still ghostwrite books and act as a literary agent and place books with major publishers that pay royalties to the indicated bylined author. I continue to think this is the way to go. This way the planner does not pay the printer but is paid royalties from the book publisher and you can usually purchase copies for your own use at a little above production cost. Legitimate books are still a very effective sales tool, status symbol, and prestige device. Vanity books usually do not command a lot of respect among book sellers, sophisticated readers, or educated people.

Who are your role models?

The great ‘king-makers’ like Jerry Weintraub, Irving Paul ‘ Swifty’ Lazar, and Colonel Tom Parker. Remember, I’m a king maker, not a financial professional. I learned from Charles “Tremendous” Jones, the beloved Mehdi Fakharzadeh, Norman G. Levine, Maxwell Sackheim (the most successful direct mail copywriter of all time), Lew Nason, Ed Morrow, Loren Dunton, Steve Allen, Stuart Henderson Britt, and each of my clients.

Who are some of your favorite famous friends?

To name a few, country singer Roy Acuff because he was always so kind to me, as was Norman Vincent Peale, and Art Linkletter. Larry King at CNN sort of took me under his wing and mentored me until I learned how television production works.

Mr. King did far more for me than I ever did for him. I will forever be indebted to him. Hal Chorney, because he is our hero. Lew Nason, RFC®, because he helps so many insurance agents and planners make more money and serve far more clients. Larry Doyle because of his fantastic talent. Larry is our greatest writer on the economy. (LD’s edit: I am truly humbled and appreciative of Wally’s words.) Ed Morrow, RFC®, because of his zest for life, his brilliance, and his proven dedication to the financial planning industry. Ed has probably done more to help financial planning and planners than any other person. Howard Jarvis of Proposition Thirteen fame was a person I really liked. But he was mad every time I interviewed him. He used so many crude words and made so many ugly remarks that I could not publish much of his best commentary.

You too can target any famous persons you would like to know, cultivate them, and become friends with them. But the famous person you target must be intelligent and a high class person. You know it is difficult to sell to stupid people. It is also difficult to cultivate famous people who are not too bright or lack character and class. I wish I could have known Leonardo DaVinci, Benjamin Franklin, Robert E. Lee and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Are these especially difficult times for America’s planners due to the stalled economy?

Successful planners have always had to work. And they work hard for their clients. Since planning began their markets have always been tough, ever-changing, and challenging. There have always been powerful special interests that wanted planners to disappear, or the special interest wanted to control the planners.

The few remaining old clowns in planning are facing retirement or dying. I do not see any young clowns. Now all planners are being unfairly punished because the public finally wised-up to the greedy and pompous Wall Street thieves who caused this great recession and got away with it because of their incestuous relationship with Washington. Planners and even insurance agents have the difficult job of rebuilding the trust that Wall Street destroyed for them.

Planners are also major victims of the Wall Street corruption and lack of any meaningful regulation. This has become the age of greed and exploitation running amuck. Federal and state agencies fail badly to do their jobs and protect the people. Fifty percent of America’s supermarkets overcharge their customers and get away with this. Sixty percent of mortgages currently in effect swindle the people who pay them and the mortgage companies get away with this.

This is the era of deceptive pricing, and deceptive packaging, and nothing significant is ever done about anything. Financial planners are the best friends and last resource our citizens have today. Now independent planners are especially threatened because they are all that stands between the consumers and the super-powerful interest that exploit the consumers.

Despite the present massive and frightening changes now taking place in so many aspects of the United States, due to the harm created by the federal government’s actions or lack of actions, I know many highly successful planners who are very-very busy helping and protecting their clients today. The middle class and poor are being destroyed. A campaign of nation building is necessary to counteract the growing instability and deterioration of the USA.

No one expects our so-called ‘representatives’ to do anything other than represent the special interest that owns them by lining their pockets. This system no longer works for our citizens. Corporate greed dominates. Billions are given to other countries while we crumble. Some sort of revolution may be necessary. Financial planners are America’s ultimate good guys. Planners can play a key role in saving our country.

The successful planners make us all proud. Some planners are struggling but most likely they will never do well as they do not invest in themselves, contribute nothing to their profession, are not accountable, or do not take the obvious actions to advance their careers. They wait for sales to fall into their laps or expect sales to result easily or by deception such as fake hype.

What advice do you have for RFC planners?

Thank you for asking me. I would urge four actions.

One, get more politically active to protect your profession because you are losing to the special interests that own Washington and want independent planners and broker dealers to be forced out-of-business. This is now taking place. Remember, it looks like nothing short of a revolution will save America as we knew it. You must get involved and use your influence. Collectively you are a very powerful group and control trillions of dollars.

Two, become more active in the IARFC and do not expect other IARFC members to do everything for you. The IARFC is still the fastest growing planners association and the only professional group that adheres to the original concepts of planning’s founders. Contribute and make things happen. Have you done your share? Don’t just take, but give of your talents. At least contribute efforts to help save your job.

Three, be more careful about the so-called guru, self-proclaimed expert, or super trainer you select. Does the self proclaimed expert you choose have any real credentials? Was he or she ever a success? Do they make any specific claims or just unspecific claims? If they say they have won most major awards then ask what specific awards? If they claim to be highly published then ask where specifically besides the Internet and self- publishing? If your trainer says he is the world’s leading expert on ‘glockmaster-zone marketing’ then ask if he created ‘glockmaster- zone marketing?’ Does your consultant claim that his self-published books (possibly thick self-printed pamphlets) are all best sellers?

Four, Never Give Up! Winston Churchill’s advice is still valid for financial consultants. The profession is greatly needed — and you make a great difference in the lives of those who follow your directions.

During the IARFC Financial Advisors Forum he has presented The Cato Award for “accomplishments with published writing that promotes greater understanding for and appreciation of financial planning.”

Cato and Ed Morrow jointly present the Image-Branding Workshop® an exclusive program for financial service professionals, based on techniques and practices created over twenty-eight years of from his successful experience as a media advocate, journalist and practice management marketing coach and literary agent.

Cato’s motto reminds advisors, “You can cut a greater figure!” During lectures he often emphasizes this by displaying swords or large knives and using them to point at items on the screen.

About the Author: Dr. Geoffrey A. VanderPal is an award-winning and highly credentialed financial planner (DBA, CFP®, CLU, CTP, CFS, CMA, MBA, RFC®). As a young man he established and sold his own successful mutual fund company. He holds five insurance licenses and six securities licenses. Dr. VanderPal manages the wealth of high net-worth clientele. He has traveled, spoken, or studied in over 30 countries, but now works mainly in the USA and Asia. Las Vegas Life magazine rated Dr. VanderPal as a “Five Star Wealth Manager.” One of America’s leading estate planners, he can be reached at Skyline Capital Management in Austin,Texas.

Everybody gets 15 minutes of fame, right? Well, that is probably how long it may have taken you to read this interview. That said, whether it is 15 minutes, 15 seconds, or none at all, rest assured my labor of love that is Sense on Cents remains committed to helping people navigate the economic landscape. I thank Wally again for his kind words. I commend him for his fabulous life and precious perspectives.

I hope you find your visits here productive and that you will be willing to share my site with family, friends, and colleagues.

Larry Doyle

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. As President of Greenwich Investment Management, an SEC regulated privately held registered investment adviser, I am merely a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

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