Today’s episode is brought to you by ThePICoach.com. There you can find info about my PI Coaching services and my books, both of which will help you take your PI business to the next level.

Marcy Phelps is the president of Marcy Phelps and Associates and has been in this capacity for the past 21 years. Marcy specializes in, due diligence, asset discovery, and training services. She is a former librarian, turned private investigator, Certified Fraud Examiner, and research expert, specializing in fraud prevention. Marcy has a master’s from the Univ. of Denver in Library Information and a Bachelors’s from SUNY New Palz in Mathematics. She is past president of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP), a global association that supports owners of information businesses. It is my pleasure to bring Marcy to the show. 

Website: https://marcyphelps.com/

E-mail: marcy@marcyphelps.com

Illumeo: https://www.illumeo.com/users/marcy-phelps

 

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Episode transcript:

John: [00:00:00] Hi, Marcy. Welcome to the show.

[00:00:01]Marcy: [00:00:01] Hi, John. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:03]John: [00:00:03] you’re quite welcome. And how’s the weather down there in beautiful Wilmington, North Carolina.

[00:00:08]Marcy: [00:00:08] absolutely beautiful. I haven’t been here very long, but since I’ve been here, we haven’t had a bad day yet. 

[00:00:14] John: [00:00:14] Are you sure you’re not working for the chamber of commerce? we are in Southwestern, Connecticut. It’s a glorious fall day. sunny, lots of warmth. most of the leaves are down in the background. You might hear the roar of my neighbors, lawn mowers as they lift up the leaves to put them in the bags for recycling.

[00:00:31]But, I can’t get around that probably for the next three weeks on a daily basis. we met through LinkedIn. and I was really impressed with your background. And I said, please come on the show and you were gracious enough to say you would. So I thank you so much for doing so, going back, and this goes back a while now.

[00:00:47]we both have been, doing this, PI thing for quite some time now. when you decided to become a PI, what did your original idea look like?

[00:00:54]Marcy: [00:00:54] well, I first need to clarify that I’ve owned my business for 20 years, but I have. Being a PI for maybe, five, six, maybe seven years of that. It’s been a long and windy career.  as you might’ve seen, I started out as a librarian and I knew very quickly that I wanted to start my own business.

[00:01:20]I had some people reach out to me and ask me to do some, contract work. And I said, well, this looks like a nice idea. Working from home doing what I love research. I found an association of people, a lot of former librarians who have started their own business A I I P association of independent information professionals.

[00:01:43]And that helped me realize that I could actually make a living doing this, that there were other people doing it. So I started my business, and mostly did marketing and business research and intelligence, analysis. A lot of, executive profiles, background investigations, and then. As things change in businesses, marketing research became a hard sell.

[00:02:11]people had an intern who could Google, serve and account for survey monkey and they were doing their own research. as you know, since you’ve been in business so long, some things just. Come to you rather than you seeking it out. And a lot of that’s happened in my career. And about that time, a PI, that found me through my network, reached out to me and asked if I would help him do some news and social media research.

[00:02:43]I was sure, I loved the work and he liked my work and he taught me a lot pretty much everything that he knew, what he did. He specialized in hedge fund due diligence, background investigation, very specialized. So he taught me that. And,   I found my passion actually.

[00:03:05]about that time was when Colorado didn’t have licensing for awhile and they brought it back about five and a half years ago. he encouraged me to get my PI license. So I did. my original plan was to, do hedge fund due diligence and specialize that way. So that’s how I got there and what it looked like at first.

[00:03:30]John: [00:03:30] So when you say hedge fund due diligence, you know exactly what you’re talking about, but I do personal injury investigations. I do criminal defense. I do forensic genealogy. So you’re going to have to just break that down a little bit for me. Who’s your main customer? What is their objective? What are they trying to accomplish?

[00:03:47]And what is the information that you’re looking for? And without giving us a secret sauce? Tell me, you know, where you look for it. 

[00:03:52] Marcy: [00:03:52] so are they, clients are institutional investors. they invest other people’s money and hedge funds.

[00:04:01] John: [00:04:01] okay. 

[00:04:02]Now hedge funds are not, I wouldn’t say they’re like rolling dice or playing relay, but they’re a, more of a high stakes venture with a higher yield, but greater risk.

[00:04:13]Marcy: [00:04:13] Yes. They’re considered in an alternative, investment and for more, well investors.

[00:04:21] John: [00:04:21] the greater yield. 

[00:04:21]Marcy: [00:04:21] but this is a fund. in these situations is usually these institutional investors invest in a whole lot of funds for their clients and they create their own funds. It’s called a fund of funds.

[00:04:35] John: [00:04:35] Okay of hedge funds. 

[00:04:36]Marcy: [00:04:36] of hedge 

[00:04:38] John: [00:04:38] Wow. So they S they spread out the risk amongst a variety of hedge funds to say, wait, the way my, Vanguard account, spreads the risk in an index fund amongst, stocks.

[00:04:48]Marcy: [00:04:48] exactly. I’m not big on investments, but I that’s the way I understand it. before they invest, they do a thorough process of due diligence. and they handle several other aspects of due diligence. I handled the background investigation on the hedge fund managers, the people and the companies. And I do a deep dive into their backgrounds.

[00:05:16] Good and bad. client likes to get the full picture.

[00:05:20] John: [00:05:20] many of the clients have a fiduciary responsibility, to The buyer of the fund and they have to show that they’ve done their due diligence. part of that is, their fiduciary responsibility. Almost acting like a big brother. Hey, look, you know, we’re going to put you in his fund, but we’re going to make sure that we check it out.

[00:05:37] So we’re not going to get you into a Ponzi scheme  The type of things that you’re looking for in that kind of background, what is it that you’re looking for? What are the red flags? What is it that, if you can talk about some situations where you’ve uncovered something that was,  very, very helpful to the institutional investor. So please tell me about a few of those situations.

[00:05:54]Marcy: [00:05:54] So we look into the background. So we check public records, regulatory, we look to see if they own property, own their house. my client. Doesn’t like the managers should live in their mother’s basements. They, look at everything. We look at news and social media. we really dig deep into personal and professional history, mostly in due diligence.

[00:06:18] What you’re doing is verifying what they tell my client on the disclosure documents and in their meetings. And we also find out what they left out of those documents. 

[00:06:33]John: [00:06:33] And that’s where the fun is.

[00:06:34]Marcy: [00:06:34] That’s where the fun is. I have to say that most of these hedge fund managers are extremely boring come out very clean, in the background check, but occasionally you find.

[00:06:45]The individual who, for some reason, needs to embellish, for example, you don’t need, an MBA. You don’t even need a college degree to be a hedge fund manager. But if you say you have that degree, you darn well better because if they lie about that, what else will they lie about? That’s the idea behind it, verifying all that.

[00:07:09] John: [00:07:09] Okay. I was going to say, and there was a series of bankruptcies, almost like a bust out scheme.

[00:07:14] Marcy: [00:07:14] you want to look for financial liabilities? Can they manage their own money? Do they have personal liabilities? so for example, with the degrees, we had one gentleman who claimed a degree and an MBA from a very prestigious, graduate school. And, I found a how to in our verification and he put it on the disclosure, the authorization form.

[00:07:38] So he’s put it in us, signed legal document. That he has this degree from this particular university only to find out that it’s from not the prestigious university, but a state university in New York. and as you know, I’m, asuni graduate myself from the system and I got a little insulted. Why did he think that wasn’t good enough?

[00:08:03]but my client, most importantly, Didn’t like it at all. And by the end of that, day that man’s, name was off the company website,   you just can’t lie about stuff like

[00:08:16]John: [00:08:16] I can see an embellishment, a Stanford MBA versus, as Sunni, Poughkeepsie or SUNY Binghamton, MBA, I don’t understand it. I don’t agree with it. One has, about, $200,000 more in debt than the other, but.

[00:08:29]an MBA and in reality, as good as the schools are, it’s what the track record of these hedge fund people are. That really speaks to what the, what should answer the questions. That’s it. That’s where it

[00:08:43] Marcy: [00:08:43] then their honesty, if they’ve lied on a legal document, they can’t trust them with their clients,  $50 million, you asked, what I learned along the way, speaking of hedge fund due diligence is that you can’t make a living. Doing just hedge fund due diligence.

[00:09:02]So I needed to, expand I still focus mainly on background investigations, but I work with, mergers and acquisitions, professionals as well as investors and anyone else. I also have been doing some asset, discovery, finding, and judgment enforcement, just helping find assets that people may have hidden or, having put on their disclosure documents too.

[00:09:30]and then I’ve really been trying and with, a lot going on in my business and, relocating, I’m ramping up my training business because as you know, we can’t go do, Speaking of conferences I have a background in education and I’ve always tried to find a way to use that background, in my business.

[00:09:52]I’ve been doing some online courses, in my areas of expertise. I create them. yeah. And, and they’re on a platform called Illumio I L L E M E o.com. it’s kind of a continuing education for the, accountants, CFO people, risk management, kind of people.

[00:10:18]John: [00:10:18] I’m familiar with a couple other, ones teachable being one. of course the other name escapes me right now. one of the biggest ones. That’s what happens when you get older? it’ll come to me and I’ll blurt it out probably about two 30 in the morning. that’s the platform for which you then, deliver your, teaching and training.

[00:10:36]But it’s interesting going back to what you were saying about your love of really diving into the hedge funds and then realizing that your skillsets were applicable for other areas as well. And you went through mergers and acquisitions, asset location, for DRA and judgment enforcement.

[00:10:51]So you found other, nails for your hammer for lack of a better

[00:10:55]Marcy: [00:10:55] I’ve been doing that my entire career. Remember I started as a librarian, so I applied a lot of those skills daily and then learn new skills to fill in.  And then I expanded, and, applied my skills, like you said, in different ways.

[00:11:11] John: [00:11:11] Yeah, I think some private investigators don’t quite grasp that. Some do intuitively, but what I’m going to say back to you in a way of a teaching moment for my, some of my listeners is, is that you very good at certain things and. That’s what your customers came to you for. And then you expanded that to other customers that wanted that exact same thing.

[00:11:29]But now out of your expanded customer base, they had other things. They want it to, other types of services to go along with, or to, compliment, the primary services that you’re offering. And that’s what you had to learn in order to, service that, uh, market niche. And if I’m not mistaken that’s what sometimes is hard for some investigators to understand.

[00:11:49]but I can tell you that, that’s different than say a surveillance investigator who is really, really good with, personal injury, surveillances, disability, uh, surveillances workers’ comp surveillances and that type of thing. going away from the insurance companies and going to the private market to do.

[00:12:10] Fidelity investigations and, fidelity, surveillances, and, custody surveillances to see whether or not, the ex spouse is actually complying, uh, with the safe environment for the children. And that’s taking the same skillset, but applying it to a totally different. Customer base, whereas you’re taking your skill sets, applying them to a customer base and then providing more and different skills to that customer base.

[00:12:38] So you’re not changing your customer base. What you’re doing is expanding what they can obtain

[00:12:43] from you.

[00:12:43]Marcy: [00:12:43] Yes. which is an interesting way to run your business because you, never know what your next case or project will be. because I would never have thought of some of these things that people ask me for, specifically, conflict of interest. would not have come up with that until somebody had asked me for it.

[00:13:04]John: [00:13:04] But you could see the business value to that, right? 

[00:13:07] Marcy: [00:13:07] Oh, it was extremely valuable. And I, really saw the value of news, rounding out the public records because we found no connection in public records, but I found it in the news, like from 1999 or something, there was a connection.

[00:13:25]John: [00:13:25] Yeah. When you say 1999, it makes it sound like, you know, when dinosaurs walked the earth.

[00:13:30] Marcy: [00:13:30] Well,

[00:13:31]when you’re looking at news articles, that’s an old. 

[00:13:33] John: [00:13:33] I know. And that’s the interesting thing about it. I mean, I’m an oldie I’ve been around, from, doing some sort of research at the County libraries. I mean, libraries or County records or city records, dusty, old archival records.

[00:13:48] And I began to understand that’s how many of the present day, database aggregators got a lot of its information, but I also knew that, when I went to, look at a micro film, For a newspaper at a library, I better have a pretty good idea of what date range I’m looking at because otherwise it could be maddening, just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.

[00:14:09]Now with, I guess what you’re telling me with OCR, optical character recognition. they can’t now with and empty, same records are now off of microfilm, but they’re now digitized. You’re able to get newspaper records that are almost, like you said, 21 years old and what a surprise that would be for you to be able to pull that up.

[00:14:28]Marcy: [00:14:28] again, my library skills, I’m using databases so that I learned how to use, in grad school. for the database searching that’s one of those skills I learned as a librarian. That’s really given me a lot of value nowadays. 

[00:14:43] John: [00:14:43] I have to give a shout out to a local librarian in, new Haven. I’m sorry that I don’t remember her name right now, but she’s wonderful. And I told her that I had to do a search for a criminal event that took place in the early eighties. in the present situation, the, of COVID, couldn’t walk into, the, courthouses and try to pull the docket and it just wasn’t going to happen.

[00:15:06] I couldn’t walk into the courthouse period. So I asked the librarian if they could try to, utilize, The, new Haven register to find this well, knock me down, with a feather, not only did she check the new Haven register and didn’t really come up with anything right away. But she checked the Yale daily news, Yale university, daily news, which publishes, I think twice a week or something.

[00:15:28]And in there, cause there was, some sort of, interest for, uh, students of Yale university. that librarian was able to find, the event that I was talking about now with that event. I was able to get a date and then that date, then we could zoom in over on the new Haven register.

[00:15:45]And get within a couple day date range of what happened. And with that same information. Now I could, point the, searcher at the courthouse about those dates for that incident, with a little bit more information, a proper spelling of names and what have you. And they were able to actually come up with, our arrest docket for an event that took place in 19, I think 1981.

[00:16:04]So 39 years ago, And if it wasn’t for the tenacity, of a librarian doing some old school searches. and also checking a source that I should have known about here. I have, I’ve looked in new Haven since 1986. So I guess maybe 34 years now.

[00:16:20]And I shouldn’t have thought about the Yale daily news, but I never thought about it and that for her to be able to check that and turn that into gold for me, my client thought I pulled a rabbit out of a hat, honest to God. but I only tell that story to, talk about, the importance of, that kind of skillset in that.

[00:16:36] Marcy: [00:16:38] well, that’s what we learn in grad school and on the job. that’s part of understanding what the real question is. that’s one of those, what we kind of call and librarian super powers. and if this place doesn’t have the answer where else, so yeah, those are great

[00:16:57]skills and have served me well. 

[00:16:59] John: [00:16:59] and that you understand that, and this is another tip for our listeners, is that, there, there there’s actually two garbage in garbage out. If you put in garbage into a, internet search, you’re going to get garbage back plain and simple. you’re not going to turn, garbage into, uh, flowerpot.

[00:17:13]Second thing is that, a lot of times knowing the right question can help those people that are doing the searching. Well, really do the search a little bit better, and we both know what that means. It’s like, they looked at it one way, nothing happened. Well, could you try it this way? Could you try it that way?

[00:17:30] Could you try it this way, that you know how to ask them to try it a little different way? And they know that you’re persistent. They know that you’re not giving up. So they might as well do the job and do it a little bit better. And why LA what happens? They find the information, right. And why is that?

[00:17:43] Because they must massage the data a little differently. And that’s something that you used to be able to do more with paper. I think then you can electronically or digitally these days,

[00:17:52]Marcy: [00:17:52] Oh, you have to know how. You have to know how to follow the trail, 

[00:17:56] John: [00:17:56] I used to say all the times at the stuff that was in the margins, handwritten and along the margins was the gold.

[00:18:02]Marcy: [00:18:02] I became a librarian when it all was online, so,  I’m not, uh, 

[00:18:08] John: [00:18:08] Dinosaur like me.

[00:18:10] Marcy: [00:18:10] well, I am a bit, the, the librarian thing was a bit of a, a mid-life career change for me as it was. So my kids were in high school. When I went back to grad school.

[00:18:22] John: [00:18:22] Okay.

[00:18:22]But you understand what I’m speaking about, 

[00:18:24]Marcy: [00:18:24] Absolutely. You have to follow the trail and be creative I think. And you don’t have to be a librarian. Any investigator has got to use creativity and on the job every day.

[00:18:35]John: [00:18:35] and I think though my experience with librarians are for the most part, well that didn’t work. Let’s try this. Ooh, let’s try this. Did, did you consider this, did you consider this, did you consider that? I have to give another shout out to my, genealogy librarians at the state library in Hartford, Connecticut.

[00:18:52]I used to go there, as an investigator and I learned forensic genealogy, and I probably sat at their knee as they said, well, let’s try this. Let’s try that. And then they also had a lot of the paper. documents there and they said, Oh, well, let’s, let’s look at this and see if you could find it from there.

[00:19:05] So a grave site, marking and with some information I could then lead us back to a digital, and then it led us to the microfilm and then you, you know what I’m talking about and how that worked. I kind of diverged a little bit there, but I just wanted to really give a shout out, to librarians and librarian skills and how important they are for uncovering information.

[00:19:26] And how important information is, not so much data, but information. that’s the thing that I think is very, very important. as your company has morphed, you know, T tell me more about it. Tell me more about what.

[00:19:37]Marcy: [00:19:37] after 20 years in business, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m a lot more selective about my clientele. so I’m working with clients that I really, really enjoy working with. Doing absolutely fun work. And really hoping to expand. I have two courses on Illumio right now, and my goal for the new year is to, really expand the offerings there.

[00:20:04]John: [00:20:04] Okay. And

[00:20:04] who would you be offering the training to and what is the nature of the trainings? 

[00:20:08] Marcy: [00:20:08] training is for people who need to get continuing education credits, units in, I’m a certified fraud examiner, so maybe, other CFEs, risk management people,  financial CPA types, Internal auditors. other investigators. that’s kind of the audience.

[00:20:28]my one course is on, due diligence background investigations, in general, not just for hedge funds and the second course was on, how to search online public records. And, my next course is going to be on how to search news and social media, like a pro. it’s a lot of how to, in the research and analysis, part

[00:20:53]of the investigations. 

[00:20:55] John: [00:20:55] No. That’s great. Because a lot of times you say, well, go here, go there, go there, but you don’t know how to go here, there, and there. And now you’re teaching them. How quick question, Marcy,  you mentioned certified for examiners. I also am going to CFE. And I believe you are my first CFE.

[00:21:11] We argued about 

[00:21:12] that before, but unless you, Alicia

[00:21:14] Marcy: [00:21:14] Hal Humphreys

[00:21:15] John: [00:21:15] a CFE. be darned.

[00:21:19] Marcy: [00:21:19] yes. And I said, have you interviewed Brian Willingham? He’s a CFP too.

[00:21:26] I thought I had seen him on your, your

[00:21:28] John: [00:21:28] Yes, you’re right. So there you go.

[00:21:30] Marcy: [00:21:30] so I’m not your first, 

[00:21:32] John: [00:21:32] but you’re really talking about it, with me today as a major point, just as opposed to having

[00:21:38] that designation after your name. 

[00:21:40]Marcy: [00:21:40] I highly recommend it. it was a great, professional move for me. I’m not what you would consider a traditional fraud examiner. try to help my clients avoid going into business with fraudsters in the first place. But, I’ve just learned so much from, other CFEs it’s a great network.

[00:22:01]and I think as, an investigator, you’re only as good as you are.

[00:22:06] John: [00:22:07] I have a personal question if I may, this wasn’t covered in our preview, so you can demure if you want, So I thought, and I’m not being a smart ass when I say this, but that a lot of the offerings with the exception, I think of Cynthia Hetherington, a lot of the offerings that are done through the ACFE catalog are a lot of homegrown things and they seem to be not, from.

[00:22:32]The general population of CFE. So my question is, did you have to run it by somebody at the association of certified fraud examiners meet their good housekeeping seal of approval in order to get that acceptable for their CEU credits?

[00:22:46]Marcy: [00:22:46] uh, my courses 

[00:22:48] John: [00:22:48] Yeah, 

[00:22:48]Yeah,

[00:22:49]Marcy: [00:22:49] Illumio takes care of that for me.  I create, this is why I happen to like work I’ve been working with Illumio for, over a year. And, there’ve been great to work with. They handle that.

[00:23:04] John: [00:23:04] Oh wonderful. Because you know, it’s like you’re a course creator. You have the intelligence, you have the creativity, you can put the stuff together, you can transmit it in a way that students, or, uh, Trainees can understand it, but then there’s all those hoops that you have to jump through in order for the entity to give it the good housekeeping seal of approval.

[00:23:25] And now they say Marcy Phelps, his courses are acceptable by the association of certified fraud examiners for continuing education units. The fact that there is some other entity doing that lifting for you, takes all that off your shoulders and allows you to do what create to make better courses. Oh, my, that is

[00:23:41] nice.

[00:23:42] Marcy: [00:23:42] yes. and I, and they get, for other, organizations too, with the CPAs. And I don’t even know all of them, the audit internal auditors. So Like you say, I can create and they to handle that. Some people like to do all that on their own. I would rather put my time where it’s,

[00:24:01]John: [00:24:01] To me. I did not know about Illumio and if I were to consider that again, you know, doing some core kind of course creation, I would jump on that bandwagon and do that. Honestly, that makes so much sense because. If, the association of certified, professional accountants or the association of certified fraud examiners or the, I don’t know what the association for internal audits are, but if, Illumio can create the bridge between those entities accepting your course materials.

[00:24:30]Oh man. That’s great. 

[00:24:31]Marcy: [00:24:31] I think other platforms do that as

[00:24:34] John: [00:24:34] really. Okay.

[00:24:40]I don’t have a problem with that because for me, the course creation is, is wonderful. Once that’s done and it’s evergreen that somebody else can then do the heavy lifting to get it into the right hands where they have a focused. Customer base that has what they have to get certified, by their association.

[00:24:58] And in order to maintain that certification, they have to do continuing education credits. it’s an evergreen source of income for you and you create the course once. And once it’s in the portal, it’s there, it’s there for you. Fantastic. I’m glad that we, explored that a little deeper And that fact is that those three courses that you named during this time period, where investigators have a little bit more time on their hands. I have been strongly, strongly advocating that they up-skill. And if your courses can help them upskill and find a better. Client or a different client because they have new skills.

[00:25:34] Then that’s fantastic. And I think that’s wonderful. the other thing that you mentioned too, I want to touch upon as well, is that you’ve decided go the route of clients that appreciate you. Clients that you’d like to work for clients that have fun, you and I both been through the Wars.

[00:25:51] We both know what the grinders and the burners are. Like, we all know what the low pay, slow pay clients are like, and that you’re in a place where you can say, you know what, I’m going to identify, my, a one clients and I want to replicate them. I think that’s a wonderful tip. Not only for yourself that you’re embodying.

[00:26:09]But also a wonderful tip for my listeners because quite frankly, how much time have we spent working with the burners, the grinders, the slow pay, the low pay, you know, the people in that fourth quadrant that you want to get rid of desperately, but you’re nervous about letting go of the income, but yet all the, harangue that you have to go through and all the hoops that you have to jump through for that client is not worth it quite frankly.

[00:26:31] And you’re, you’re making a conscious decision to, work with the people that you like working for.   I bet your life is a lot easier now and you have a lot less headaches and a lot less burn.

[00:26:40]Marcy: [00:26:40] I enjoy my work so much more. And it’s funny, you should mention, it’s very frightening to give up that income. But I found that I actually make more money now because when the client treats you as, a peer, an equal on their team, that’s, when they start thinking of all these new things that, they could have you do.

[00:27:05]my hedge fund due diligence, one of my their regular clients, every month you, get a list of names. So I’ve been working with these people a long time. and over time they’ve started asking me questions, Oh, by the way, how can we improve our due diligence process during a pandemic when we can’t do onsite visits, That type of consultative type of work, which is so much more valuable and high pain actually.

[00:27:35] John: [00:27:35] Yeah. And a lot of times, because my clients know that I I’ve been around, insurance investigations either for the, insurance companies or for personal injury attorneys now for close to 44 years, that. They can ask me those kinds of questions. once we’re in a consultative or in a partnership role, I relish that conversation because it does, it educates my clients on how they can utilize my services better.

[00:27:59]  I think what you’re saying is that the sooner we move away from. transactional providers of services to partnerships and doing consultations with our clients. The richer, the, engagement is the better paying the engagement is, and the work is much, much more fulfilling.

[00:28:20] you know, for my listeners, I do that, based upon what my, guests tell me. And you told me it that way, I just wanted to put it together in a way that it was like, listen guys and gals. This is what Marcy just said, and you better pay attention to it because that’s really important. It is the sooner you get out of being transactional and becoming a partner or a consultant for your clients, the more value you offer to them.

[00:28:47] And the more fulfilling the work is back for you. And it is obviously it is Yeah, Marcy. so what advice, you know, I know I’ve just given some advice and we also talked a little bit about, doing what you love and finding the right customer client and having fun within that engagement. other advice would you have for anybody else starting out in our profession?

[00:29:08] I mean, just starting out brand spanking new.

[00:29:09]Marcy: [00:29:09] well, first and foremost, as I mentioned, your network is extremely valuable. As an investigator, I’ve had clients tell me they love my network because they can ask me for something they know I don’t do, but they, know I know someone who does. through your state and national, PI associations and I mean really connect you can’t just join.

[00:29:34]You can’t just attend the occasional meeting. You have to volunteer. You have to maybe be a speaker, share your knowledge, get involved so that people really get to know you and you get to know them. I think that, you never stop learning. and today I think there are, there are so many opportunities, PI education.

[00:30:00]who else did I hear today? I listened to another and the name is escaping me, someone else who is offering, education. Oh, Rory McMahon. How can I forget Rory? 

[00:30:12] John: [00:30:12] a couple of times.

[00:30:13]Marcy: [00:30:13] I listened to him. when he was talking about his new educational offerings, so things like that are happening now. So you can, Cynthia Hetherington, you can always learn something from, and other bloggers and, people on LinkedIn, I learned a lot.

[00:30:29]I think you can’t go it alone. in addition to the subcontractors that fill in, when the sets you need, you have your mentors coaches, as you know, as much as I like the solitary work-life I have of my home office here, I made sure I connect through, the association conferences.

[00:30:52]Coffing’s

[00:30:53] now 

[00:30:53] zoom. 

[00:30:54] John: [00:30:54] and I think, the way weak became acquainted was you made a comment on a post that I made and we started a conversation back and forth. 

[00:31:03] Marcy: [00:31:03] Exactly. LinkedIn’s been fabulous 

[00:31:06] John: [00:31:06] yeah, it is. and to your point, I’ll, I’ll give a real life example. I have a company that I do work for.

[00:31:12]They needed something out in the scrub brush of West, Texas, for me to travel down there during COVID and to basically have a pie go along next to me to do the work they wanted me to do. I said, no, there’s a excellent PI firm that I know down in. Texas. I gave him the name of Kelly Riddle, and I said, I didn’t even want a commission.

[00:31:32] I didn’t even want a referral fee. Now my son who works with me, might’ve argued with that. But you know what, it’s, it’s just that. Yeah. Hey, we do for each other, Kelly’s done a lot of wonderful things for me in the past. And this was one, I, I just knew that I could give it to him. I could fire and forget and he could handle $5,000 case maybe.

[00:31:50] Yeah, that’s a pretty nice chunk of change for some investigators. That’ll pay some bills. I had another client, same week asked me to do a, very. Delicate surveillance and nothing illegal, just delicate and it needed to be handled the right way. And when we did the police Canary, investigation on it, confirmed that it was beyond my skillsets.

[00:32:11] No, I don’t specialize in surveillance or people that do specialize in surveillance. And two names came to mind. The first one I gave the job to, and my client called me back later on and said, they did a wonderful job. They did exactly what you said they were going to do. They did it exactly the way that you said they were going to do it.

[00:32:26]And they deliver this result for us. Now, my clients in both of those situations, look at me as being stronger because of my network. Not because, I did the work. Or worse. I refused the work now, which is stupid, but because I have a network, I always have something I can help a client out with and say, well, you know what, maybe I can’t do that.

[00:32:47] But I know somebody that can, somebody that I trust somebody that I vetted, somebody that I’ve gone to the meetings with going to associations with I’ve worked on volunteer programs with.  long story short on that, networking is really important and I’ve gotta be honest with you, Marcy.

[00:33:00]I was not a big networker when I first started  I was not. I stiff my nose up in the air. And I said, I’m a good investigator. I know what I’m doing.   what do I need? All that, fun stuff for, and I realized what an idiot I was which my, my wife often agrees with.

[00:33:15]  In this case, I realized that that, my networking, has just made my life so much more easier than trying to forge the path myself, and do everything my way. exactly. this client that I gave the job to tele riddle for has been a wonderful client for me for years, years. And if I turned that job away, they’d go to another investigator and I might not get the next big whale case from them. I did the right thing by my client. I did the right thing by Kelly.

[00:33:45]I know that in some fashion it’ll pay me back in spades later on. what other advice that you might have for our newbies people that are considering getting started, besides networking in their associations.

[00:33:56]Marcy: [00:33:56] I think you have to find your expertise. I think the days of the Jack of all trades PAI are over. there’s just so much to it. There’s so much you have to do to do right for your, clients. and we can’t do everything. I, you kind of have to narrow your focus a little bit. Although like I pointed out earlier, it was a mistake for me to narrow it too much for just hedge fund due diligence.

[00:34:29]but I was still using my same basic skills. So as you pointed out, in different settings, I can’t be a surveillance person and a research person and, expert witness all the time. 

[00:34:43]John: [00:34:43] what’s your website look like what a mishmash that would be, right, 

[00:34:48] Marcy: [00:34:48] I hadn’t thought about that. 

[00:34:49]John: [00:34:49] I see it all the time. I see private investigators that put together their websites and they want to be a Jack of all trades. They want to be everything to everybody. They want across all the verticals, business to consumer business, to business professional and a professional.

[00:35:01]they want to be everything to everybody and the result is there are nobody to, nobody there, nothing to nobody I should say. And there’s no, Unique selling differential. There there’s no a unique selling proposition. there’s nothing there to separate them from the herd.

[00:35:14]And that’s the thing that I try to tell my clients. That’s what I try to tell all the private investigators, what is it that you do? and who’s going to be the person that’s going to pay you the most amount of money for that.  that’s your target audience. And then you start layering in other. supporting types of, customers within that while still, also growing more skillsets for that customer base.

[00:35:34]you’ll find yourself much happier then, trying to be everything to everybody. we both have learned that

[00:35:39] in our experience. So, uh, tell me how people get in touch with you, Marcy.

[00:35:43]Marcy: [00:35:43] my email would be best. And it’s my name? Marcy, M a R C Y at Marcy Phelps, P H E L P S one word.com.

[00:35:57]John: [00:35:57] Wonderful. is there anything that I failed to ask you that you think might be helpful to, private investigators that are getting started in the business or are struggling to keep the lights on?

[00:36:06]Marcy: [00:36:06] I think one thing that I learned, throughout my business, even before I became a PAI, is that, it’s so much better to attract clients than try to chase them down. This one was a hard one to learn.  business has just sort of come from here without even trying.

[00:36:26] Why don’t I try to get more business from this industry or target audience it never works. And I have found that after all these years, I wish I had learned this sooner. It’s really much better to attract clients do really good work. So they refer people to you, put out good content.

[00:36:49]so people find you on LinkedIn and, keep coming back. And then when. They hear of somebody. And most of my clients don’t really read what I write or hear what I speak about, but the people who do refer me.

[00:37:04] John: [00:37:04] Hm. that’s wonderful Sage advice. I’d like to close our interview with that.  I want to thank you so much for coming on the show and I really appreciate everything you’ve done today.