Any time there needs to be some sort of communication with another firm and there is a rollover or a transfer in process, it is important to take into consideration the various ways you can approach this, including the “right” and “wrong” ways. So today Matthew and Micah will be going over this topic and diving deep into the importance of remaining credible, accountable, and valuable during a rollover.
Listen in to hear why you should never tell your client to complete a task alone, as you are the professional who has been hired to make this task easier. You will learn the importance of saving documents, why you need to ask for assistance when you are unsure of something, and more.
One of our four rules of success is: Do what works. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet
Have credibility every step of the way so the client sees value in everything that you’re doing. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet
Your clients are trusting you with their entire life savings, and little things matter. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet
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Matthew Jarvis: Hello! Welcome to another episode of The Perfect RIA podcast. I am your co-host and co-founder Matthew Jarvis, and with me, as usual, the man, the myth, the legend, Micah Shilanski. Micah, how are you, my friend?
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, I am doing absolutely excellent. How are you doing?
Matthew Jarvis: I’m good, and as regular listeners of the show know, I’m still in Cabo, Mexico. I have to make sure to mention that in every episode, because I only get one more of these from Cabo.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, and later on you’ll have to ask… we can’t talk about it on the podcast… but apparently there’s some very interesting COVID tests that take place down in Mexico. The next time you see Jarvis, you’re going to have to buy him a beer and ask about that unique experience.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, I’ll videotape that one, but we’re not here today to talk about COVID test, though oddly, we are here to talk about a little bit different kind of a test, if you will, Micah. This is kind of a test of if you’re going to get the 401(k) rollover or not. Now again, we’re going to say 401(k) rollover today, but we’re talking about any kind of account transfer, stock options, really any time where there needs to be communication with some other investment firm, ACATS, anything at all. Anytime there needs to be transfer or contact with another firm and the client, we’re going to call this 401(k) rollover for today.
Micah Shilanski: Quite frankly, we could really expand this to, why don’t you get a prospect? Why don’t you get a client? Why don’t people come in? We’re going to dial it down just talking about a transfer right now, but really the same logic, the same process we’re going to go through, applies to so many things. The reason we can talk about it this way from some credibility, because again, one of our four rules of success is do what works. That means learn from people that are actually doing it. In this case, it means that we have made a ton of mistakes in not doing this correctly. No, not a taxable event to the client, not screwing up the actual process of a rollover, but in not knowing how to articulate it, not knowing how to explain it, not knowing how to have a guided discovery, apply the dishwasher rule, have credibility every step of the way so the client sees value in everything that you’re doing. We’ve lost clients or not gotten transfers, because at some point in time, because we didn’t do this correct.
Matthew Jarvis: Oh, 100%. Yeah. I shutter at all the mistakes that I’ve made. Really, by the way, these mistakes weren’t all in the ancient past. I’m constantly looking for ways I can improve this. I can mention a mistake from last year. We were doing a 401(k) rollover with a client where we had to call into the 401(k). This was a several million dollar 401(k) rollover. In the middle of the conference call, we were in-person in the middle of the conference call, the battery dies on the speaker phone, and it’s suddenly just goes bonkers. We were right in the middle of it. I had to not panic. I had to run into my other room, grab a headset to plug into it, and the cord wasn’t long enough so the client has to sit close to the computer. Now it’s off speaker phone. Guess what? We updated our process that says, “Hey, if the speakerphone wasn’t plugged in the night before, there’s a backup device.” We have several redundancies in place now.
Micah Shilanski: But it’s little things like that that can cost you the relationship. You can take one aspect of it and say, “Well look, my planning was still solid. Everything was still good. There’s no reason, just because a battery died, that I shouldn’t be able to help the client.” You are 100% wrong. That is not the case. They are trusting you with their entire life savings, and little things matter. We talk about marketing and prospering, signage on the door, the welcome process, the communication they get, everything counts either for you or against you. Everything counts, and especially when you’re dealing with any type of third party, as in a different custodian. When things could definitely go wrong, you need to make sure you’re dotting your I’s, crossing your T’s, and then providing that high level of service.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. I would say, Micah, the measurement here, to your point, is not whether you got the rollover or not, the measurement is really going to be if that client is sending you referrals down the road. Then probably not when that battery died, they’re not going to say, “Well, that’s it. I’m done. I can’t trust Jarvis. This is too big of a headache. I’m going to leave,” because they’d already made that decision. They didn’t want to go through the process again.
But that hassle can impact their willingness to give referrals in the future. If they say, “Hey, if I send my friend over to Jarvis, and it’s going to be a headache, and the guy can’t even put batteries in his phone, I don’t want to send my friends there.” The measurement’s not, in my mind, whether you get the 401(k) or not. It’s whether the client is so wowed by the experience that they’re sending you referrals on a regular basis.
Micah Shilanski: Now let’s talk about this a little bit more, credibility, real fast, and then I want to pivot into some mistakes that we have made, so ask a couple of questions here real fast. This last year, how many people contacted your office? Your office as the advisor, listen to this. How many people contacted your office and asked for an appointment? How many people in the last two years?
Matthew Jarvis: By the way, not a guess… I apologize for interrupting, Micah… not a guest number, not like, “Oh yeah, I think it was 37.” In your CRM, because everything lives in your CRM, pull that number up. How many prospects contacted you? Not steal your thunder, Micah, but how many-
Micah Shilanski: Oh, go for it.
Matthew Jarvis: … went the whole way through the process? Where did they drop out? You need to know these numbers, and back to the rule of do what works, whoever you’re taking advice from, you should know their numbers or at least have an idea of those. Are they speaking from a place of credibility or a place of theory?
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. You have to know these numbers because measure what matters. Now, just for speaking of credibility, and this just came up because I was just looking at mine, beginning of the year… this is the middle of February when we’re recording this… so far this year-to-date, we’ve had 162 prospects contact our office for an initial meeting, 162 in a couple of months. We have a system and a process that works. Now are all these people going to be clients? Absolutely not, but that’s not what we’re solving for here, but we’ve a phenomenal system to deliver value in every step of the way. Sometimes we fail, and we pick ourselves up. We say, “Great, how are we going to do it better next time?” But we’re focused on that value-add. When you focus on value, more and more people want value, so we offer a great service. We as financial advisors offer phenomenal service, and it’s proof when you start getting more clients in the door.
Matthew Jarvis: Totally, totally is. Again, for the listeners, yes, we’re a little bit patting ourselves on the back here. We’ve earned a lot of success, but we want to make sure that you’re saying, “Hey, I need to listen to this because these guys know what’s going on.”
Now, Micah, let’s shift gears. Let’s talk for a minute about where advisors go wrong, ourselves included in the past, when it comes to things like 401(k) rollovers. I will say the number one mistake I see, oh, so many times, and it crushes me, is telling the client that they need to go take care of something, so, “Mr. Mrs. Client, you need to call the 401(k) provider. You need to complete the paperwork. You need to do this. You need to do this.” They’re coming to you for advice, for value and to save them time, not for you to tell them that they’ve got to go do the work themselves.
Micah Shilanski: The example I give my office when we’re talking about it, I say, “Look, we’re the easy button. When a client calls, they’re hitting that easy button, and our job is to make it easy for them and not more complicated for them.” If we’re doing a 401(k) transfer, in that case, we’ve all been there before. You have no idea how long you’re going to be on the line for right. It’s going to be indefinite hold. You’ve got to be transferred to multiple departments. I mean, it’s gotten better over the years, but it used to be really, really painful.
What’s the easy button? Remove the client from that element. Yes, the client needs to be on the call for some of it, but not for the whole music. Your job should really be there, “How do I make this easier on Bob and Sue?” Great, call up Bob and Sue, “We’re going to do this 401(k) transfer at about 8:00. I’m going to call you in advance, make sure you’re available. Then you know what? I don’t want you to be on hold for 45 minutes until we get a representative. I’ll go ahead and take care of that. Once I have someone on the phone who can help us, is it okay if I conference you in?”
All of a sudden that little detail that’s there, guess what? You had to be on that call anyway, but why make the client suffer through those prompts, those other things, et cetera, trying to make conversation when that hold music is blaring loud? What do you say? What do you do? All of that awkwardness, just skip it entirely. Make it easier on your clients.
Matthew Jarvis: Here’s why this strategy is so powerful. What’s going to happen with Bob and Sue, Micah’s office sits on hold on their behalf, and that’s not something they’re ever going to mention to their friends unless their friends bring up… and really not unless… anytime their friends bring up, “Hey, I was sitting on hold the other day,” they’re going to say, “You wouldn’t believe this. The other day, my advisor sat on hold for me so that I didn’t have to.” That’s why Micah becomes referrable because that stands out. That’s an incredible one.
Somewhat related, we always tell clients, “Hey, listen, if you ever get any kind of financial paperwork of any shape, be it this 401(k), your retirement, social security, anything that has a dollar sign on it, it’s written in Greek.” I always make that joke, “Hey, this stuff is written in Greek. Great news, I speak that same language. Bring us the paperwork. We’ll fill it out for you.” Now, obviously compliance, they’ve got to make sure they know what’s on it. They’re signing it, yada, yada. But we’re saying, “How do we make their life easier, not how do we just kick them down the road?”
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely right. Then guess what? When you help them with that paperwork, you scan it. You keep a copy of it in your records. When all of a sudden they go ahead and lose something or some disaster happens… We had a client’s house burned down, and they lost all of these documents and all of these other things that were there. Guess what? We had a copy of absolutely everything. We had a copy of their house sell that went through the year before that. We had a copy of all of their estate planning documents, copy of their bank statements. We had a copy of all of these things that were there that we could help the client rebuild their lives. Or maybe they’re just traveling and they need a copy of X, Y, and Z, and they call you. Guess what? You have it. Again, this is smashing that easy button. How do you make it easier for your client? You make it easier by empowering your office to take care of the little things.
Matthew Jarvis: Smashing the easy button and also smashing the dishwasher rule button, which we were talking about on team meeting today. Micah can mention to his clients, “Hey, listen, we had a client whose house burnt down. They lost all of their records.” You listening to this podcast, you can save your clients, “Listen an advisor I work with had a client’s house burn down. They lost all their records. It was only because he kept a copy that they were able to do this.” I had one client got audited by the IRS. They wanted records from eight years ago. The client says, “What? You can’t go back more than three years.” Yeah. The IRS says, “Show us records of this carryforward loss.” The client had zero records, and the IRS was getting ready to zero out a million dollar carryforward loss until I found records that I had for when they onboarded. I saved them, well, a million dollar loss. We can do the math on that, but saved them from losing this million dollar loss.
Micah Shilanski: That’s huge. That’s a huge value-add, and again to your point, when is the client ever going to say directly, “Hey, my advisor saved these documents for the last 12 years,” blah, blah, blah. They’re not going to say that. What they’re going to know is, “Oh my gosh, Jarvis took care of me. The IRS called, and I had a problem. I called Jarvis, and he took care of that issue.” That’s the message that’s going to get communicated. Guess what? That’s the message I want. I don’t need my clients to know the details of IRS law.
Matthew Jarvis: No.
Micah Shilanski: That’s my job. I don’t need them to know the details of state planning law. That’s my job. They need to understand the big picture, how it all works, how it’s all connected and know they can hit that easy button at any time they want, which is calling me, and I will take care of it. Now by I, I’m saying I, we, our team is empowered to take care of these things.
Matthew Jarvis: Let’s walk through, you recently had to do a call. Now a lot of these are handled by your team, which we’ll talk about in a minute, but you recently did one of these with a client, had some complicated stock issues. Walk us through kind of that process from setting the expectation. Just kind of walk us through that whole thing, and we’ll try to draw out some real lessons for advisors listening.
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. Had a federal employee who’s retired, actually get another job as an executive at a pretty big Fortune 500 company that’s there, so it came with some options, which was kind of neat, so not something my team normally deals with. The client had some questions on it. Normally, I would kick this over to Sharnell in our office. She’s our phenomenal at operations. She handles all of these, but Sharnell came back and she goes, “Micah, I’m just not comfortable. We don’t do these on a regular basis. I don’t feel comfortable with the call.” Is said, “Perfect. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I am happy to make this call with the client.”
We set up an appointment with the client to call the custodian. Our office took care of that. Let’s say the appointment was at 9:00 AM, and we’re going to walk you through these details that are going to be there. One, in our meeting when we talked about needing to call them… so rewind the clock a couple of months… in our meeting I was having the client saying, “Hey, we need some more information. We don’t understand quite how these stock options work. We need to talk to the provider.” Client was happy to do that. Client felt that she had to make the phone call. I said, “If it’s okay, I would love to be on that call with you, because I would love to learn.” The client was like, “Oh my gosh, Micah, that’d be great, because every time I talk to them, I don’t know what they’re saying, and I get confused on the phone.”
She’s a very smart person, again, but it’s a different language. It’s Greek. The, good news is, Jarvis, you say. “We speak Greek.” I’m like,”Not a problem. I’ll be on that call with you.” We ended up getting the call. It was supposed to be at 9:00. I called the client right at 9:00 AM on the money. I get Sue on the phone. I said, “Hey, Sue, how are you doing?” Quick little chit chat, and then I explained the processes, “If you remember, we talked about doing a conference call with your custodian, because we had some questions on your stock options. Is now still a good time for that call?” “Absolutely, it’s wonderful.”
“Let me walk you through how this process is going to work. One, Sue, I don’t want you to be on hold for 45 minutes. Nobody enjoys that. What I’d like to do is I’ll get the custodian on the phone first. I’ll get a representative who can help us. Then I’m going to conference you in. Is that going to be okay?” “Micah, that’d be perfect.” “All right. Here’s a couple of things that they might ask. One, they’re going to want to make sure it’s okay if we talk together, so you’re going to have to give permission. They’re also going to want to know, if we do any type of transfer, if you’ve received any tax documents, any letters, et cetera. These are potentially the ones they’re going to want to see. We’ve already emailed them to you, so you have a copy of those in advance if you Want to go through it. Then the other thing that sometimes happens is we’re going to get disconnected. I don’t know why. Sometimes I feel I don’t know how to work my phone system, but I kind of think I do. I don’t know what happens with at the custodian end, but Sue, if that happens, I’m going to call you right back. Is that okay?
“Micah, that’s perfect.” “Wonderful. Well, enjoy your morning coffee. I’m going to jump on the phone and talk to you, hopefully, in the next 15 to 45 minutes.” So 30 minutes later, I get a custodian-
Matthew Jarvis: Hang on one second, Micah, I got to stop you. You can’t see this podcast, listeners, but right now I’m grinning ear to ear, because there were so many pearls of wisdom in there. I want to just draw out a couple, Micah. One was, and this was your most recent one, we might get disconnected. Now, hopefully, that won’t happen. Micah is going to go to every length to make sure that doesn’t happen, but you’ve already managed that expectation. Whereas normally, here’s what the default would be. Midway through, somehow the client gets disconnected. No one is happy when they get disconnected. Everyone is angry when that happens, everyone, but you managed that. You said, “Hey, that might happen,” so you’ve warned them, “and when it does,” here’s how I’m going to solve that question. Otherwise, they get disconnected. Do I call? Do I wait for a call? Whose fault was it? What happened? Now I’m angry. Nope, Micah has already managed that expectation.
The other thing I want to drop, Micah, is that several times you said, “Hey, is that with you,” or, “as you may remember.” I’m getting so much permission and validation with a client in this whole process, “Hey, as you may remember, the reason we’re doing this is X, Y, and Z. Is that still okay with you? Is now still a good time for you.” These seem like little things. They make or break the difference between good advisors and truly phenomenal advisors.
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely, great. All of these details matter, setting expectations. It is, it’s not just them giving me permission along the way. It’s also confirming I haven’t made a bad expectation. That’s there. Now they get to comeback and say, “Oh my god, I thought we were calling because we are going to rebalance my 401(k),” or, “I had a question on my beneficiary.” Perfect. Now let’s make sure we address that, as well, but this was the purpose of the call. All of these checks and balances, again, everything counts.
Matthew Jarvis: I love it. I love it. They might come back and say, “Actually, Micah, a surprise. I got a letter in the mail, and the check’s actually right here. They send it to me.” I’ve had that happen. “Oh, perfect.”
Micah Shilanski: Perfect. “Who’s it made out to?” I said cringing.
Matthew Jarvis: I’ve also made the mistake of kind of bulldozing that. We get on the phone with a custodian. The custodian is like, “Well, we already mailed the check out.” I say, “Well, no, you didn’t.” The client says, “Oh, well, actually I got it.” I’m thinking to myself, “Why didn’t you tell me?” But extreme accountability, I didn’t ask. I didn’t give him permission to steer the course. These are little things that make all the difference.
Micah Shilanski: Oh, so, so important.
Matthew Jarvis: You haven’t even gotten the custodian on the phone, you’ve already delivered massive value.
Micah Shilanski: .That’s right. That’s right. Deliver value along the way. All right. Then I get off the phone with the client. I call the custodian. I go through their fund prompts. I finally get hold of Randy on the line. I get hold of Randy. I explain the situation. There’s always confusion about why I’m not the clients, so it was just something you got to deal with. I explain what I was, what I was going to do, outline the questions in advance. I said, “Randy, look, I know you can’t answer these. I just want to give you a heads-up. Once Sue’s on the line, these are some questions that I have. I’ll make sure you have plenty of time to verify with Sue, and everything is good.” I went through and I listed my questions, “Is that something that your department or you can help me with?” Why am I asking this? I don’t want to get transferred to somewhere else. Maybe I got the wrong department. If I got questions on ISOs and I got the 401(k) department, guess what? 401(k) department does not know anything about stock options. They’re going to transfer me to someone else. Those are some questions I’m going to ask off the bat. That worked out, put Randy on hold, got the client on the line. It was perfect. Everything was good to go, said, “Sue, good news. I got Randy on the line with us. This is the questions we’re going to go after. Any questions before I merge this phone call?” “Nope, Micah, we’re good to go.” Perfect. I hit merge. Randy had transferred us to a different department.
Matthew Jarvis: Nice.
Micah Shilanski: I was like, “You know what, Sue? We try to avoid this, but unfortunately, sometimes this just happens. I’m happy to drop you off the line and give you a call back.” She’s like, “We’ll see how long it takes.” Then sure enough, somebody else picked up. Randy didn’t want to deal with me. We ended up getting another lady on the line. Again, same thing. I’m taking the lead on the phone call, because this is what I told the client I was going to do. Do what you said you were going to do.
When I was setting up the expectations for this call, I said, “Don’t worry. When they start talking, I’m going to answer their questions. I will introduce myself. Then I will introduce you. Then they’re going to verify your information.” I’ve already explained how this works. That’s exactly what I did on the call. The lady was super helpful.
Now, a couple of tips, Jarvis, when we’re going through this, I am deferring to that representative for every single answer to the question. I am not coming out as an authority figure. I have no skin in the game, so to speak. I’m not trying to brag about my knowledge on stock options. I really want to know exactly what’s going on in that process, and I want them on my side, so I’m always asking open-ended questions to that representative.
Matthew Jarvis: Quick note of that, Micah. There’s this temptation, especially when you get the run around, you’ve been on hold for a long time, you’ve been transferred four different times, it’s very easy as adviser to get irritated, to start getting short with these people, to say having a muscle around. That, A, will not get you anywhere. B, it makes you look like a jerk in front of the client, right?
Micah Shilanski: Yeah.
Matthew Jarvis: I am always going to… Micah, I know you do the same thing… I am going to just kill them with kindness, “Wow, Randy, I’m so glad to talk to you. Where’s your call center at? Are they keeping you pretty busy these days? Randy, I’m sure you can help us out with this.” I’m going to be… And when they transferred me for the seventh time, I said, “Boy, Sally, you’re the seventh person I’ve talked to. I’m really excited to be able to talk to so many people inside of Vanguard today. I’m hoping that you’ll be the one that can help us out.” I got to be just kindness, professional all the time.
Micah Shilanski: All the time, because they can make it worse for you. They can also make it better for you. This just goes across the board. One of the other things I’m going to say in this thing, especially when we’re talking about stock options, investing schedules, I’m going to say, “Look, the client has done a great job of explaining this to me. I just had some questions about if the client makes a job change, if anything else happens. I just need to know how this works for my knowledge from a tax perspective, as well. Is it okay if I ask some hypothetical questions?”
Why did I say it like that? The client doesn’t want to stay there for another 10 years, but the client doesn’t want her employer to know if she’s there for another 10 years. Now she gets to blame me for everything. If something comes back to the employer, which it shouldn’t and says, “Well, you were curious about vesting your schedules and leaving right away.” The client could say, “No, my advisor was asking those questions.” That’s one of the things I’m going to be the brunt of any of that blame. I let clients know that. We’re going to ask these questions. Feel free to blame me if anything happens.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. That’s great. Yeah, like you said, there’s so many things there. I would say one key thing, Micah, that we want to draw out here is that as much as possible, you, as the advisor need to know how this process is going to work.
Micah Shilanski: Yes.
Matthew Jarvis: How are you going to know that? Well, Micah, to your point, you called in advance. Now to your point, you’re not going to get very far because they’re not going to tell you much, but you can find out a few things. The best way though is just through experience. If you don’t have experience in a certain thing, find someone who does. For example, we do tons of Boeing 401(k) rollovers, because we have a lot of Boeing employees in our area. Micah, you do tons of federal employees. I know that system inside and out. As an example, Boeing will always ask their retirees, “Have you received the special tax notice?” Every retiree will say, “No, I’ve never seen the special tax notice,” but they get it every single year. It’s on their website. It’s with every statement they get as a special tax notice, but nobody ever knows to call it that.
I, and Micah, you did the same thing, I warn them. I say, “Mr. And Mrs. Client, Bowing is going to ask you if you’ve received the special tax notice. Great news, I’ve got it pulled up here on the computer screen. I want you to review this in enough detail that you’re comfortable telling them that, yes, you have it and you reviewed it, because if you say, no, they will mail it to us and it will derail the process by several weeks. Are you okay with that?” “Oh, Matthew, I’m totally okay with that. Thank you so much.” Those are things. Micah, I know you’ve got a few more of those that we warn clients about”out before calling in.
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely right. One of the things I want to warn them, and we’ll do this in our meeting, generally, when we’re talking about making a transfer before just kind of the prep phone call before bringing the custodian on. One, we have a checklist we go through with our clients about doing the transfer. Does it make sense to do a transfer or not? What are some things this custodian could say? I like to pick on Fidelity, because they do it the most to us. When we’re transferring a Fidelity 401(k) plan, the Fidelity rep is really good in making sure the individual knows they have an option of leaving the money at Fidelity, and what a great deal it is to leave it at Fidelity. Now, I’m a custodian at Schwab. That doesn’t quite work out as well.
One of the things we bring up in advance is we let the clients know that this is going to be an option saying, “Hey, when we’re doing a 401(k) transfer,” whatever type of transfer that’s there, “the representative might let you know that you can keep the money inside of that 401(k) with Fidelity, Vanguard or TSP. Good news, you can. That is absolutely one of the options. But the reason we wanted to make the transfer was for A, B and C, because it helps you achieve your goals.” I’m already seeding this with them. Now, if I rewind the clock a little bit back to those ISOs that I was talking about earlier in that example, the representative did come out and said, “Hey, you actually have X amount of dollars that have already vested, and you can transfer those into your own individual account so that you can trade them, and invest them, and do whatever you would like. We have some really low fees, and you might want to do that.”
The client without missing a beat says, “Well, if I can transfer them, can I just transfer them to Micah?” Perfect. The representative was like, “Well, yes, you can do that.” It’s like, “Wonderful. How does this process work?” Because I’ve already seeded them with that was an option, but the better option to achieve their goals was X. We’re going to transfer to Schwab. This is how it’s going to help you achieve your retirement goals. Again, Jarvis, going back to this whole thing we talked about, it’s already the client’s option, empower them with the options that they have and also give a recommendation that is the best for the client.
Matthew Jarvis: Totally, and you’ve kept them from being surprised, as well. We can’t overstate the importance of taking away the surprise. If the first time that they’re hearing, Micah to your point, that they can keep it there or that the fees are lower in the TSP than you’re charging, if that’s the first time they’re hearing it, you’ve made a real mistake there.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah.
Matthew Jarvis: Sometimes a couple of other things I’ll do to set the stage, “Hey,” I’ll say just, Micah, to your point, “the custodian of the 401(k), probably they’re going to remind you that there’s other investment options, that in fact, those are less expensive than ours. Here’s why.” We’ll go through this again, why we think this is a good idea. “Does that still make sense to you?” I also like to mention before we call in, “Mr. and Mrs. Client, sometimes these companies forget to whom this money belongs. They forget that it’s your money, and sometimes they think that it’s their money. Don’t be surprised if we have to deal with that a little bit.” I love using that line, because clients get a little defensive on them. They’re like, “Yeah, this is my money. If they do anything to try to keep it, then I’m really going to…” Perfect. Perfect.
Micah Shilanski: Right, and it’s true. That is what custodians do sometimes, the stuff that they’re setting up. One of the things I want to throw out there, kind of mentioned in passing, a checklist, especially if this is things your team is doing on a routine basis. Not only does this help with the compliance aspect of it… why did you do a transfer, why did you do a rollover, why did you move money over… it helps with the other aspect of it, did you screw anything up? Did they have any Roth money when they transferred it out? Did they kick out the Roth money at the same time? Do they have any after-tax money? How do you know to ask these questions?
Well, we know because we have a checklist, and when our team does it, they fill out a checklist with the client on the phone, or when we’re talking to the custodian, just to make sure we have the best information possible. We always ask, is there anything else about this retirement plan we should know that we didn’t ask? Why? Because again, I want to tell the client, we’re trying to do the best job possible for them. This also applies the dishwasher rule. When we tell the client, “Hey, we have a list of questions we’re going to go through,” then we go through the list of questions. We did what we said we were going to do, and it talks about all of these other things they may or may not have known even existed that we’re checking for them to make sure they’re getting the most out of their money.
Matthew Jarvis: Now I want to draw out here on this checklist, Micah. This isn’t something that you just one day took five minutes and created. I mean, this was years and years of trial and error that created this checklist or led to this ultimate checklist. Is that correct?
Micah Shilanski: It’s like any other good estate planning document. You just Google it, right? It’s free, a checklist for retirement transfers. No, this is something that’s been, “Huh, we should’ve thought about that.” Now it gets added to the list, and we refine it, and we go through it. You know what, Jarvis? We have it built into our CRM, but for a Backstage Pass members, give me a little bit of time and we’re actually going to pull that out, and we’ll make it a checklist, and we’ll post it just in Backstage Pass.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, and for those of you new to the program and not familiar with the Backstage Pass, in fact, we just had, what, 37 new advisers join the Backstage Pass. I mean, this is really everything we talk about on the podcast, the actual documents, this checklist that Micah just mentioned, those are all inside the Backstage Pass, because we kept getting questions from the podcasts, “Hey, how do I get a copy of this, that, or the other great news?” It’s all there inside the Backstage Pass.
Micah Shilanski: We have over 170 active members in the Backstage Pass. I mean, that community and forum is growing, so thank you to all you listeners that are signing up and growing that. It’s amazing.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, that’s a lot. Well, Micah, let’s touch on one or two more things, and then let’s transition to action items. I would mention, we mentioned it briefly a couple of times, technology, make sure you know how your conference thing works. Know who’s going to have to push the buttons on typing in their Social Security number through the teleprompter, know how those things work, know where they go wrong. Make sure the battery is charged, Mr. Jarvis, on your speaker phone. Don’t make that mistake again. Those are funny for us to laugh about now. They are not funny in the moment. They are not professional. Make sure you’ve got a good headset if you’re doing a video conference. Would be unlikely if you’re calling in, though I’ve done several of those. It’s nice to able to see the client. Make sure your lighting’s good. Make sure you’re wearing, if you’re a man, a suit with a tie on. I mean, come on. This isn’t amateur hour. All of this stuff counts.
Micah Shilanski: Everything counts. All right, action items. Number one, create a checklist. Either copy what works, which is your Backstage Pass member, jump on the documents area, and you’re going to see our checklist that we go through with our office. Copy what works. Get that checklist. Even if you think that things don’t apply again, again, dishwasher rule, and what happens when they do apply and you didn’t ask the question then? Now you really screwed something up. Go through that. Really, really important, and make sure your team is comfortable with your terminology on the checklist. It’s not just about you understanding it, it’s about them. If I onboard a new team member, how soon can they pick up this checklist and ask these questions?
Matthew Jarvis: And by the way, we’ve only talked about just the phone call. We haven’t talked about giving the custodian the rollover instructions. We haven’t talked about tracking the rollover. We haven’t talked about keeping the client up to date. I mean, we’re just scratching the scratch of the surface here on this checklist.
Action item number two, remember to practice, practice, practice. You need to. When I’m practicing things, even by myself, I do them verbally out loud, so I can hear myself walking the client through this. I also practice on what am I going to do when this goes wrong? When I get disconnected, when I get transferred again, when they say, “Hey, we can’t do the rollover,” how am I going to handle these things so that I’m never caught flat-footed, so I always look like the professional?
Micah Shilanski: The last one, delegate. Delegate with accountability. What does that mean? The best use of my time is not calling every 401(k) for a transfer. Why? I don’t do transfers, because Sharnell in my office is phenomenal at getting these things done. This is her full-time job is handling this. This is what I tell clients, is, “Look, she has over 20 years of experience doing this. I don’t process it. I go to her. She makes sure it gets done correctly.” We delegate, and I don’t pick those things back up unless it’s outside of her wheelhouse. I don’t do transfers. I don’t do money movements. I don’t do those things, because I want them done correctly, and she is much better suited for that. Delegate these things. Start with accountability, making sure you’re forcing yourself out of it.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, the interesting thing, a quick side note here, this is in a way the most critical thing that happens in Micah’s office, by one way you slice, getting the assets into the office, and Micah has delegated that, and I’ve done the same in my office. We’re taking what is possibly the most critical step in the process and delegating that out, which means that everything can be delegated, but that’s a podcast for another day, Micah.
Micah Shilanski: Awesome. Well, really, really important. Of course, your last action item, as usual, is jump on iTunes, give us a five-star review. If you’re not a member of the Backstage Pass, we only open it up a few times a year. Jump on that waiting list, because we’ve got some pretty exciting things coming out. I got to say, the business planning that we’ve went through, between Jarvis and I or hiring on a dev team, the things we’re building out, are really, really exciting. You’re going to want to hear about those if you want to grow your practice.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. The fastest way to get on that wait list, send an email to firsttime@theperfectria. Not only will you get on the wait list, you’ll also get some great information for first-time or long-time listeners of The Perfect RIA podcast.
Micah Shilanski: Until next time, happy planning.
Matthew Jarvis: Happy planning.
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