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This is The Perfect RIA, in case you didn’t know. Bringing you all the strategies to help your business grow. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Sit back and listen in while you feel the beat. Another myth bites the dust…
Matthew Jarvis: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of The Perfect RIA podcast. I am your co-host, Matthew Jarvis. And with me is Micah Shilanski, who was on a flight, and they asked if someone knew anything about medicine.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, yeah. So of course, this is a little bit of hyperbole that is there. I was on a flight going from Seattle back home to Alaska. And a lady did collapse in the front, and they immediately jumped on and asked for a doctor to come forward, and a doctor did come forward. But Jarvis, in that moment, it was very interesting to think about. They did not ask at this period in time, “Has anyone gone to Web MD and reviewed anything? Has anyone read any books about medicine? Has anyone watched any YouTube videos on field training in medicine?” They immediately went for someone who is actually practicing medicine in order to give advice and to help this person. And of course, all of our listeners were like, “Duh. Why wouldn’t you do this?” Right? Why wouldn’t you go directly to a doctor, not someone who just spent time on Web MD, to actually help someone in a medical emergency? And I think, Jarvis, this is the whole point of this episode.
This fall, when you’re learning, next year, when you’re planning what classes you’re going to take, who you’re going to learn from, what information are you going to digest, who are you going to take it from, the people that have read theoretical information online on how things should work, or the true experts that are actually out there? And no, I’m not just touting Jarvis and I, who this is a filter that we use in our current practices today to go and to say, “Great. Who do we want to learn from so we can constantly be pushing to become the best advisor possible?”
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. That’s a good point, Micah, about that lens because you and I both made the mistake of trying to learn from the people who had the nicest sales pitch, who had the most credentials, the most polished presentations. And I’ll give you a quick example of that. Of course, you and I attend a lot of conferences. And I attended a conference, a session was on reverse mortgages, which on paper, very powerful planing tool. Right?
Micah Shilanski: Very.
Matthew Jarvis: On paper. And so I raised my hand in all sincerity. I said, “How do you present this to a client? How do you get a client to overcome this terrifying fear of reverse mortgage? What do you say to them?” And the presenter, who was a renowned industry spokesperson, said, “Well, I’ve never actually presented this to a client.” And luckily, I had the restraint at that moment to not say anything else. But suddenly, it made sense. Suddenly, it made sense why he said, “Oh, yeah. You just tell your client, this, this, this.” Oh, you’ve never actually spoken to a client about a reverse mortgage. You’ve never seen the panic in a client’s eyes when the reverse mortgage word is even hinted at. And this is, Micah, where the difference comes from.
To your airplane example, you might’ve read a lot of books about medicine. But at the end of the day, I want someone to help me who has touched a lot of people, who has done a lot of real medicine practice.
Micah Shilanski: Now, Jarvis, and I’m okay putting things in two different camps, as long as I know which camp I’m in. Right? So when I’m getting information, I’m okay with saying, “Hey, this is a new idea. This is a concept. We’ve never implemented it. This is a theoretical example.” Going into it knowing that this is a theoretical example of something, okay, cool. Right? I love theory. I love to kind of play in that world as well. And that is absolutely okay to do, just don’t confuse theory with reality. That is where … I’m just going to say myself. That is where I have gotten in trouble over the years, is taking something that someone said, “Boy, this is exactly how it works. This is how it goes. This is what I do.” And I go and do it, and it totally blows up. Then I follow back up with a person, and they’ve never done any of this stuff. Right? It was a theoretical example, and now it was at my expense. And not only mine, it was at my client’s expense. And that, I can’t afford.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. Micah, I think a good example of what you just articulated would be big tax law reforms. And so we need someone to go through and tear through the whole tax code and review through the hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of pages, boil it down to the key points. But that’s just the first half. Having that knowledge, this is a mistake I made for the first, geez, 10 years of my career, thinking having that knowledge was enough. You need to know how to translate that to the client. And you can only get that, I’m convinced you can only get that by actually sitting down eyeball to eyeball in front of a client and saying, “Oh, Mr. And Mrs. Client, this, that, or the other,” and they either get it, or they have this crazy look, or this stare like, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Micah Shilanski: Boy, or if you know someone out there that’s doing it better, that only lives in theory world, that knows exactly what to say to clients, man, I would love to have that conversation on how they’ve cracked that nut. But yeah, from my experience, it’s the same thing. Where’s the theory? Then we need someone that can wordsmith it. We need someone that can communicate it at a client level, so it makes sense and they can implement it because we all know it doesn’t matter how good your financial planning is if your clients never take action on anything. Just like you, if you do all the business planning in the world, but you never take any action on it, it was worthless. It wasn’t even worth doing to begin with because you’re not going to improve your current state, and so your clients aren’t going to prove theirs either.
Matthew Jarvis: So Micah, back to the fall conference schedule, which by the way, if you’re headed to any conferences, email us at lifestyle@theperfectria, subject line conferences, and we’ll be glad to share the conferences we’re attending. If we’re going to be at the same ones, we’ll be glad to buy you the first drink for being a listener, assuming you can show us a five star review on your phone.
Micah Shilanski: You can easily produce that on your phone.
Matthew Jarvis: You can easily produce that. When going to a conference, Micah, I always have two very specific goals in mind. One, of course, is which sessions I want to attend. And I nearly universally view those sessions as theory. Here’s the theory on whatever the concept is, short of an advisor who’s saying, “Here’s what I’m actually doing I my practice.” But then every advisor I meet in the hallway and passing, the guy I’m sitting next to, the gal I talked to in the line, I’m going to have a specific question in mind. Micah, an example of that would be like, “Hey, how do you deal with clients that are being pitched time shares, they’re being pitched vacations rentals?” Micah, this is actually something I learned from you, this idea of, oh, great idea. That’s probably a great tool. Ask them for a copy of the tax return.
Now we’ve done a whole episode on this, and you can find that episode. But have something that you’re going to ask every single advisor you meet about their practice. Right? How do you handle required distributions? How do you review tax returns with your clients? How do you get tax returns from your clients? So what classes am I going to attend to learn the theory? And then what am I actually going to try to learn from advisors in the trenches?
Micah Shilanski: And Jarvis, that’s something I’ve learned from you, quite frankly, is: What’s that one question that I need to be asking advisors? And I really love it because it really opens me up outside of my social circle. Right? It allows me to communicate, allows me to ask questions to engage. It also allows someone else to respond. Everyone has to handle RMDs, so when you ask that question, every client has been pitched, every advisor client has been pitched a time share, or pitched a rental deal, or pitched some stupid investment scheme. Right? So it allows you to ask these questions that all of us have had experience with, and now we can start thinking about it. And that doesn’t mean you have to copy what everything else is doing. You’re just looking for that one nugget of saying, “Holy moly. I never thought about it that way.”
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. An example of that, that I’ve talked about before, I met an advisor at a conference, and I didn’t even have the wisdom to ask him. He was a very experienced, very successful advisor. And he says, “Jarvis, come here.” And he pulls out an old green and white spreadsheet. Now for some listeners, they’ll have no idea what that is. Look it up. But spreadsheets used to be not Excel. They used to be physical paper.
Micah Shilanski: Paper.
Matthew Jarvis: And he tracked for the 40 years of his career all of these key numbers, including, guess what, how many days he’d spent out of the office each year, which is when I began tracking it, which I then became, evolved into a lifestyle practice because that guy showed me, hey, here’s what I’m really doing month by month, year by year, in my practice.
Micah Shilanski: Perfect. I absolutely love that. The other thing that we’ve got to think about as we’re going to these conferences, we’re going to get pages and pages and pages of notes and things, but you really need to distill things done to one actionable item. Now one of the things that I always like to do, I like to tack on a day at the end of my conferences, almost hands down across the board. I add an extra day. It’s already in the flight itinerary. My team doesn’t even ask me about it. It just automatically happens. Why? Because if a conference ends on Friday or Thursday, whatever the day it ends on, and I catch that afternoon flight, number one. Am I really paying attention to what’s going on in the conference that day? Probably not. I’m really thinking about those next things that I’m going to be doing. Or I’m going to bug out of the session early to make sure I get to the airport or those other things.
So I’ve already taken away a week out of the office. Right? I live in Alaska, so I’ve got to dogsled to the airport. I’ve got all those other things I’ve got to do anyways. So I’ve already taken a week away from my family. Do I really want to cheapen that time and not make it actionable? Because if I am gone for a week, and none of that time is actionable time, where I’m actually doing anything different, I have robbed that time from my family. This is my view. So maybe I need to take six days out of the office instead of five. Maybe I’m going to take that extra day away if that extra day away allows me to turn things into actionable items, to digest from the conference, to get with my team and say, “Great. These are the things that we’re going to implement before I get on the plane home.” Now this has been a successful event because now we’re going to do things that are going to improve everything.
Again, if I’m just running like a rat race, like 99% of the people there, and I get home and everything goes on a shelf and I don’t do anything, well, then great. It was a quasi vacation. I wouldn’t call that a vacation. Right? I robbed the time away from my family. That’s not worth it for me.
Matthew Jarvis: Well, Micah, maybe the distinction is: Is that conference really work and personal development? Or, as we like to call it, is it playing office? So I’m just there to hang out with the guys, if I’m just there to drink, if I’m just there to get free tchotchkes from the sponsors, that’s playing office, my friend. If I leave with clear, actionable items, Micah, I like your approach. Tack on another day. Personally, I have already a project list for my team, so when we have our Monday project meeting, I’ve got lists of the five to seven things that I want to implement from that conference. I try to have in that links back to the presentation, so the hand outs, or I’ve got screen shots of whatever stood out to me.
Micah Shilanski: Perfect.
Matthew Jarvis: I’ve got the name of the advisor that told me about it, so I can reach back out to them. So that’s really, Micah, a good translation between: Is this conference playing office? Or is this conference in fact personal development?
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, and all of these things, as an advisor, you have to be the best at many different areas. We can’t just be the best at financial planning and think that everything’s going to work. Right? We’ve got to be the best at client communication, client calls, at prospecting, at team building, at planning, at processes. Right? Or at least, we have to employ those that are the best in these areas in order to make our practice successful. So there’s so many different areas that you could go and learn. The other thing I would say, Jarvis. What events are you going to that are outside of the industry?
Matthew Jarvis: 100%, especially for team members. One, we don’t have a lot of great training for team members in the industry. At the Perfect RIA, we’re working on a few things. But we send our team, Micah, I know you did the same thing because we learned it from you, we send them to the Ritz Carlton training, again, way outside of our industry, but it gave them a lot of insights. And Micah, this goes back to our point. The Ritz Carlton is obviously implementing what they’re talking about. This isn’t their theory. This isn’t the consultant to the Ritz Carlton. This is the Ritz themselves walking them through their hotel saying, “Hey, here’s how we’re able to charge a premium fee.” Apparently, the Ritz didn’t get the memo on fee compression either.
Micah Shilanski: I’ll go ahead and send that to them, that says, “I’m sorry, there’s fee compression. Please reduce your price by half.”
Matthew Jarvis: Don’t you know the Motel Six is $37 a night?
Micah Shilanski: And they have a TV, a bed, and a door as well. It’s virtually the same thing as the Ritz Carlton. And on that team training, one of the things, a mistake that we made along the way, is when we first did it, we did not have our team stay at the Ritz, and it cheapened that experience. So make sure your team stays at the Ritz when they do this. Yes, I know it’s more expensive. But even in that case, they’re going to see that entire experience unfold versus, they’re going to learn about it in theory, or they’re going to see it in reality. What’s worth more? In this case, it’s both. They’ve got to learn the theoretical concepts, great. Then they get to see it implemented in the day to day routine of the service from the Ritz. They can easily take that back now to your team, do a presentation, implement those same things in your office.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, I want to take this a step further as it relates to our team. Something I’ve been very guilty of is telling the team how their job should work. Now this is a fine line because ultimately, I own the business. It’s my name on the wall. I’m signing the paychecks. But unless I’m actually … And I mean this literally, unless I’m literally filling out paperwork with them, it’s very difficult for me to dictate to them, hey, here’s how paperwork should work, here’s how scheduling should work, because now I’m talking from a place of theory, not reality. If we’re having a problem with paperwork, then I need to sit down with them and do the paperwork, actually see what it takes, which by the way, is a good exercise. It gives you a lot of perspective. It will also let you see a lot of areas of improvement. So again, with just like our own learning when we’re helping our team learn, we need to stay out of the theory and stay really grounded in what works in the trenches.
Micah Shilanski: And I’ve got to say, I’m going to give mad props to Charnell, which is the head of operations in our office because recently, I was at the office. I ended up having a couple of reschedules, so I had some extra time in between on my calendar on my last surge, and I had come to … I was overhearing their operations meetings. I was overhearing these things going on. Well, come on, I’ve got a couple hours to kill. I can jump in here and do some DMV, deliver massive value in someone else’s job that I don’t do. So after the meeting wraps up, I kind of go on a chat with her, and I’m like, “Look, I kind of overheard the meeting. I really think I can streamline this. Let’s go through the steps, and I really think we’re going to add a lot of value here.” And she really pushed back. She’s like, “Micah, you always have great ideas. I would like to ask a question though, before we begin,” very clever, by the way. She’s not telling me no. Right? So very clever on her end.
And I said, “Great. Charlie, what’s your question?” And she goes, “Well, has there been any mistakes? Has there been any errors? Is anything happening not to your level of expectation what the process is?” And I paused. And I said, “No, I think everything’s working really well.” She’s like, “Okay. Well, is it okay if I keep doing my job really well then?” And I was like, “Oh.” What am I going to say to that? Right? So yes, I could have jumped in there. And I think it could’ve been streamlined. But this is also an area where sometimes you’ve got to … Where’s that fine line? If she’s doing a stellar job and she’s meeting all the KPIs, yes, I would like to see that meeting ran differently because they were chitchatting way too much for my tolerance.
But again, she’s getting her job done. I don’t care when it gets after that point. So she was empowered because she knows her KPI. She knows her metrics. She knows what bar she needs to hit in order to step back and say, “Micah, I’m really doing everything I’m supposed to do, or we need to readjust the KPIs,” because she had a clear, measurable index. If she didn’t have that, this would be a theoretical conversation. She thinks she’s doing a good job. I don’t think she’s doing a good job. Now how do you measure that?
Matthew Jarvis: Well, Micah, that reminds of one of Jocko’s principles. And again, one of the reasons we love citing Jocko is because he’s really done it, and not just really done it, I mean, in war, in literal life and death. And he’s also done it in the business world. But Jocko talks about one of his principles of leadership is whatever your team decides they want to do, as long as it won’t jeopardize the mission, let them do it their way. Now again, it’s part of the dichotomy of leadership. There’s boundaries if they’re not getting work done in a productive manner. But they came up with an idea that I wasn’t really in favor of, but it wasn’t going to jeopardize the mission. It was going to cost a few thousand dollars, which in the scheme of our budget is not an issue. Great, let’s do it. Worst case scenario, we decide not to do it again, but we’ve got to empower our team to learn from what they’re doing in the trenches.
Micah Shilanski: And it’s not the aspect just with the team about solving for the most efficient process today. You’re solving for learning the most efficient process in the future. And this is where sometimes I have a hard time with because you’re going to step back in efficiency, you’re going to step back in this because you can almost see where this is going to go. But your team needs to learn, just like kids. Right? Kids need to learn to grow, they need to fall, they need to make those experiences and mistakes along the way so they can improve the next time. So as long as it’s not a mission critical thing, again, it’s really hard for me to do, Jarvis, under our text therapy. Right? I struggle with this one, but this is really letting your team kind of succeed and fail on their own, as long as it’s not negative for our client.
Matthew Jarvis: I love that. We’ve also, not to sidebar too far on this, we’ve got to remember our team, like ourselves, are human, and we need a quality of life in our work. And so while it’d be great if we had these robots that operated at maximum efficiency all the time, they need that small talk time, and we’ll do a whole episode on that as well.
Micah Shilanski: A mad shout out to one of our team members for TPR, Maya. So we were doing our conference and our meetings and our daily—and by the way, the TPR team is growing considerably. We have four full-time team members plus a bunch of vendors. So we keep growing because of you, our listeners, so thank you guys so much. Maya ended up bouncing over to Greece and doing meetings from Greece because she wanted to go from the beach. And so from a lifestyle standpoint, and she very much led with, “I’m getting my work done.” And Jarvis, I’m like, “We don’t care where you’re at.” Right? I mean, if you want to go over there and you want to have a great time, and you’re knocking all the KPIs and getting everything done, go for it. It’s such a great thing. So again, that lifestyle balance and encouraging your team.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, I want to give one last example, just one last example from my list, from the importance of talking, having intentional discussions with other advisors when you’re at the event. And that is of course, the IRS form 8821, something you and I both do religiously. We have all our clients sign the form 8821. You can find some other podcast episodes on that. But Micah, you were the one that told me about it. And you didn’t learn from it in a session. You learned about it from somebody in the hallway.
Micah Shilanski: It’s exactly right. Right? So sometimes our best ideas come from not just those platform presentations. Yes, I enjoy those as well. But it’s those side conversations. We were at a tax conference. It wasn’t even a financial planning conference. And it was a vendor that was there. And the vendor did his little presentation, and I was sitting there listening to him. And he talks about how it’s used in a tax practice. And my mind is just blown, and I go out and chit chat with him for a little bit. And we start going through all these different things this 8821 can do. And he was using it only from a tax preparation standpoint. It wasn’t even thinking about the planning side of it. So it was really great to go to a conference. I mean, quasi related. Right? Taxes. But not directly for financial planners, and pick up a tool that they had access to for years and have never been using for planning, and now we can implement it. But again, it was, yep, he was a vendor there, but it was more of a side conversation talking about: How could we really use this?
Matthew Jarvis: I love it. I love it. Micah, before we jump into action, I just wanted to give a couple of resources to our listeners who want to dive deeper on this subject. We intentionally keep these podcast episodes short, so that you can listen to them and move on. Want to give you a couple of resources you can dive deeper on. One of those, Micah, will be the double your success in 2022 webinar that we’re doing October 13th. So we’re really passionate that any practice can double one or up to four of the key areas of success in their practice in 36 months or less. And we’re going to outline that again on October the 13th. And so you’ll get some invitations. If you’re not getting TVR invitations, send at email, lifestyle@theperfectria. You do not want to miss these opportunities.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. Another one that’s coming up we’re super excited about, Ben Brant, is he’s going to do a mastermind program in 2022. So we’re not ready to take applications for that just yet. This is going to be an intensive mastermind. His focus is on dads that are financial advisors that want to run a lifestyle business. I mean, he’s going definitely for a niche side of that. Ladies, no offense, but he doesn’t like to talk about things he doesn’t know, and he doesn’t know much about being a lady. We’ll talk to him about that. But he knows something about being a dad, and being a father, and filling in that role as a husband.
And he wants to work with niches inside of there to really help everyone grow, so super exciting to chat with him about what this is coming up. Again, we know not all of you are on our mailing list because we know how many downloads we get a month, and we know how big our mailing list is. And our downloads are larger than our mailing list. So what that means is you need to take an action item and sign up because we have some amazing things that are coming up for you in these next few months.
Matthew Jarvis: Speaking of Ben Brant and learning from people who are actually doing, Ben of course has a phenomenal practice himself, and is just a stellar guy. He will be doing a masterclass with us later this year, specific on surge meetings. So for those of you who say, “I just want to go deep on surge meetings. I don’t want to go deep on anything else,” perfect. That will be out there as well.
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. We also have retirement tax services coming up. That’s going to be doing an advisor partnership, almost like with your ideal relationship with what a CPA should be, is going to be rolling out. And that’s going to be really, really exciting. By the name, you can probably guess this is a CPA, Steven Jarvis, that specializes in retirement taxes and that is it. And what he wants to do is help bridge that relationship between the CPA and the financial advisor and the client, where there’s not that void that’s going to be there. So this is something you’re going to want to stay tuned for. I know this is something we all struggle with at some levels in our practice with some CPAs, some tax preparer, et cetera, out there that either throws us out in front of the bus, or sometimes just hits it in reverse afterwards, and tags us on the way back as well. We’ve all had those experiences because of our own failure to communicate. Now he’s creating a company and designing it just to make sure that doesn’t happen, so the client is always taken care of, really exciting.
Matthew Jarvis: Perfect. Love it. All right. So there’s you opportunities to dive deeper. Let’s jump into action items because this podcast is all about taking action because it’s only what you do that counts, what you know doesn’t really help a whole lot. Action item number one, any time you’re learning anything, reach out to that person and say, “Hey, can you demonstrate this to me in the trenches? Can you show me how or where this works very specifically?” And if they reference somebody else, if they say, “Yes, yes. I’ve seen this topic work in seven other offices,” perfect. Give me the name of those offices. Let me talk to them directly. So whatever you’re learning, just ask them, “Can you demonstrate for me how this works?” And by demonstrate, I mean show me where it actually works with the client.
Micah Shilanski: And again, what we’re doing is we’re not picking on the presenters for taking this concept because kudos for them for taking concepts that works and going and sharing it. But so often, the details get missed, little things. For example, when we’re talking about it, the tax churn, asking for a tax churn of someone that’s selling time shares, or selling rental properties, how much money they’re really making. Right? That didn’t come from a presentation. That came from hot tub time and beers, and in a casual conversation. Those are the things that you want to be looking out for and finding out how it really works.
Matthew Jarvis: I love it. I love it.
Micah Shilanski: The second thing that’s going to be there, email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. And send us what conferences you’re going to go to. We’re always looking for a list. And if we’re going to be there, we will let you guys know. First drink’s on us with a five star review, so it’s kind of easy.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s right. And I know that Steven from Retirement Tax Services will be attending Riskalyze and a few other conferences, and NAPFA, speaking of NAPFA as well. So likely that one of us will be there as well. Action item number three, as we mentioned earlier, get on the mailing list. We’ve got a lot of great content. I believe our team has now five actually, Micah, full-time people. We hired our fifth person, not four.
Micah Shilanski: That’s right.
Matthew Jarvis: Props to our fifth person, Mandy, we love you. Get on the mailing list, lifestyle@theperfectria. We have a lot of great things coming up, and you don’t want to miss those at all.
Micah Shilanski: Perfect. Last action item is you need to find a peer group that you can be talking to about this. Now when I say a peer group, it needs to be someone at or above your income and goal levels, so within a range, not someone four times higher. Right? That’s an aspirational side. That’s great to talk with a one-on-one. That is not a peer relationship. So at or above where you’re currently at and where your goals are going to be, and someone that you can open up and have some pretty frank conversations.
Again, this is the quasi plug for Ben’s mastermind program that he’s coming out with. He wants to put those people together because when you get those like minded people together, it’s amazing the things that come up and the struggles that we have personally that we think are just us, and no one else is suffering from these same things, and it’s just affecting me. Then all of a sudden, you get in that like minded group, and says, “Holy crap. I’m not alone,” that we all are doing this. And oh, my gosh, Jarvis, this is how you dealt with this. That’s amazing idea. Now I can work on that. So it’s all ways that we can pick ourselves up, not only professionally, but personally as well. Awesome, and until next time, happy planning.
Matthew Jarvis: Happy planning.
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