If you could put in 20 hours each week to reach 100 prospects, would you do it?

That’s the amount of time Benjamin Felix and Cameron Passmore, both portfolio managers with PWL Capital Inc. in Ottawa, spend developing and recording their weekly podcast, Rational Reminder. While they began the project with the goal of getting 100 listeners per episode, they’ve grown that figure exponentially over the past five years.

The podcast now reaches 30,000–50,000 listeners per episode, said Felix and Passmore, who recorded an episode of Rational Reminder live at CFA Society Toronto’s annual wealth conference last week.

Only 40% of their audience is Canadian, which Felix said is “not ideal, because one of the reasons we wanted to do it is to market to Canadians.”

Nonetheless, the pair say the podcast is their top source of new clients, as well as a source of new recruits.

“So many of our new team members in the past couple of years came from the podcast — people reaching out saying, ‘I hear you guys, I relate to you. I like the mission you seem to be on,'” Passmore said.

Felix and Passmore started Rational Reminder in August 2018 with an episode called “The cheapest advice probably isn’t the best.” They’ve since released 271 episodes featuring financial experts such as Eugene Fama, Kenneth French and Michael Kitces — as well as astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Their impetus for starting the podcast was to find a better way to connect with clients and prospects than an annual appreciation event, which cost them between $10,000 and $15,000.

“We would fly someone in at great expense [from] across North America, put them up at a hotel, [rent] a ballroom and serve food,” Passmore said. “So our goal was, if we can reach 100 people a week [instead], that’d be great. And the cost is almost nothing other than our time.”

The pair upgraded their setup after their hundredth episode so they could film accompanying videos for YouTube, where they have 25,000 subscribers.

They estimated that a professional-level setup costs between $5,000 and $10,000, with the camera the most expensive component. “You can spend a lot on a backdrop if you want,” Passmore added. “But you can do it on the cheap as well, if you want to.”

The co-hosts said they’ve learned a few lessons in the past five years. Felix regrets not uploading videos to YouTube from the beginning, as “the growth in viewership has been incredible relative to audio.”

But Felix was prescient on another topic: episode length.

“I’m the one who wanted it short: 30 to 45 minutes, because that’s the cadence that I was listening [to] at the time,” Passmore said, noting that Felix persuaded him to let the episodes run longer. “When you engage with someone who’s put their life into [their] research, they want to talk.”

The portfolio managers also try to strike a balance between deep dives into academic research on investing and more general business discussions. Passmore, for example, does book reviews.

“We seem to have a reasonably good balance of geeky and less so,” Felix said.

Felix and Passmore, who spend between 10 and 20 hours per week on the podcast, said their commitment to releasing weekly episodes has been a big reason for their success. But more important is their passion for the medium and the content.

“It has to be what you love doing, because [otherwise] it’s too much work,” Passmore said.