Are you lying to yourself about where you are spending your time? Where you spend time is a key factor in the success of your business, and if you focus too much on something that isn’t productive or thought-out, it may actually end up hindering your growth and prosperity. So, in this episode, Matthew and Micah will be explaining how much time certain tasks should take so that you can increase the value you are bringing to your clients, your employees, and your practice.
Listen in as the guys share advice on how you can become more time-efficient whilst also ensuring your clients are happy and satisfied. You will learn the importance of having a process in place for every step with your clients, why being consistent is essential to client contentment, and the importance of keeping your communication clear for your clients.
If you’re like many new financial advisors, you may want to grow your business, but you feel you’re already at capacity with the clients you have. But what if you didn’t have to trade time for money? In this article, Matthew Jarvis and Micah Shilanski of The Perfect RIA podcast share their tips for growing and scaling a business the smart way: by using systems to help you deliver value and set you on the path to success.
A couple of years ago, Matthew needed to have hernia surgery done, so he did what many of us would do: he contacted a person who specialized in hernias. They got to talking, and the surgeon told Matthew that on a regular day, he might perform up to twelve hernia surgeries—an incredible number, or so it seemed to Matthew. Then, the surgeon explained that for each of these surgeries, he’s only in the room for around ten minutes.
Suddenly, it all made sense: the surgeon can perform so many high-level services in one day because he’s only using his time where it’s most important. He has a support team to disinfect the room, handle the paperwork, take care of the lobby, prepare his instruments, and all the plethora of other tasks that keep an office running. Everyone has a job to do, and they do it the same every time so they can maximize the time of the person leading the team.
What if you applied this idea to your own financial practice? By building the systems that allow you to best utilize your time, you will no longer feel like you’re constantly at capacity. In fact, you’ll experience just the opposite: more bandwidth than ever before to better meet the needs of your clients.
To help you find your own office flow and scale your business, here are Matthew and Micah’s top three tips for changing your mindset and using systems to drive your practice to new levels of success.
Many advisors feel like for something to be of value, they need to have worked proportionally hard on it. But high-level advisors know that this is a huge limiting belief for any advisor.
As Micah explains, “We have this subconscious thought that the longer something takes, the more value it is going to hold. If I spend fifty hours on a client’s financial plan, clearly that financial plan is the most detailed, the most value to the client. But there’s no reality in that. Time does not equate in the same way when we’re adding value in these areas.”
Are you solving your client’s problems and adding value to their lives, and are you doing it better than any of your competitors? Then it doesn’t matter how long you spend doing it. As Micah says, “It’s all about delivering massive value, which doesn’t mean delivering massive amounts of time. Those two things are not exactly correlated.”
Parkinson’s Law is a funny thing: the time it takes to complete any given task tends to expand or contract to fill the available space. In other words, tell yourself you’re at capacity, and you’ll feel like you are. Instead, by leveraging the power of systems, you can take control of that time and deliver a higher level of service to each client than ever before.
Here’s an example. Instead of delivering value one client at a time, look for ways to deliver that value in the same way across your entire book of clients. Whether that’s a mailer, a meeting, or a certain way to convey information, repetition will make you so much faster, and the client will benefit. It may take you an hour to come up with that first value add for the first client, but is the next client receiving any less value if you spend seven minutes doing the same thing?
For any system to work, all the details have to operate in harmony. That’s the whole point of systems: when they work, they work every time, but when they break, everything falls apart. This is why it’s so important to include your entire team in the decision-making process when implementing any office-wide system: everyone who touches that system needs to understand how their actions contribute to the greater whole.
Your office manager may not immediately understand why something as simple as having your paperwork in a certain order is so crucial. But after you take the time to explain how meetings can run so much smoother when you’re not scrambling for what you need—and how that coordination and efficiency ultimately benefits the entire office—your entire team will have more buy-in and be better able to support you as you continue to deliver value to your clients.
A lot of us have this limiting belief that the longer something takes, the more value it will have… that’s simply not the case. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet
Advisors that have consistency between meetings and how they deliver their information have more efficient meetings, deliver more value, their clients are happier, and their clients took the action they needed to take. –… Click To Tweet
If you have a system that works, keep doing what works. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet
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’m your co-host Matthew Jarvis. And with me, the man, the myth, the legend Micah Shilanski. Micah, how are you today, my friend?
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, I’m doing great! Rona didn’t kill me. I’m still here. So getting through that one day at a time, which is a wonderful thing, and excited to be on another podcast.
Matthew Jarvis: It is a lot of fun. You know, Micah, I was at… A few weeks ago, of course, we record these sometime in advance, I was at XYPN live, which is a great event, good audience. And advisor after advisor came up to me and they said “Jarvis, why are you Micah doing the podcast?” And I kept telling them, I said “listen, we really started the podcast as a forcing mechanism to get together every week and that’s talk about our practices”
Micah Shilanski: That’s right.
Matthew Jarvis: And we still to this day… What are we? Two and a half years into this thing, or three years into this. We still block out an hour. We spend the first 30 minutes talking about life on our practice. And then we say “quick! Let’s hit recording on this podcast knocked out”. So, that is in fact what drives us to this day.
Micah Shilanski: Amen. And it’s a ton of fun, right? We love that forcing mechanism that’s going to be here. Of course, love our audience. Thank you guys for spending so much time listening to us as we go through these things and what a joy it is to be able to bring value to so many other advisors that are out there and all the feedback we hear from the nation. So it’s outstanding.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, it really is great. Because these lessons that we talk about, and these are things that, Micah, that you and I wish we would’ve known 20 years ago when we started our practices, but they’re things that we still work on today in our own practices. We’re still looking “Alright. Where does my head trash holding it back? Where do I have a limiting belief where I think things have to be a certain way and they don’t have to be that way. That was just sort of a habit I fell into” .
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And one of these huge limiting beliefs that we have is all about time, right?
Matthew Jarvis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Micah Shilanski: How long should something take? And because subconsciously I think we have this thought, Jarvis, that the longer something takes, then clearly the more value it is going to be hold. Right? All of a sudden, if I spend 50 hours on a client’s financial plan, clearly that financial plan is the most detailed, the most value to the client. But there’s no reality in that. Time does not equate in the same way when we’re adding value in these areas.
It’s all about delivering massive value, which doesn’t mean delivering massive amounts of time. Right? Those two things are not exactly correlated. So it’s really important, and we’re looking at our practice when we want to grow, to say “okay, great. Where are we lying to ourselves about where our time goes?”, whether this is at a previous episode, when we were talking about people are like “I’m at capacity” and you were at capacity with like 27 clients. It’s like “no, you’re not at capacity. You’re choosing not to grow”. Okay, well that’s fine. That’s your choice, but you’re not at capacity.
And it’s going to bleed into the same concept right here about how much time does something really take. And it needs to take the appropriate amount of time. But really what does that mean? That means that time needs to be less, less, less and less. The more skilled you get, because the more skilled you get as an advisor, the less time you can spend on a problem and you can add dynamically so much more value to a client because it doesn’t take you that long to see where the value needs to come in.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, that’s a good point, Micah. I think a lot of times we get hung up, specially as that head trash gets there, we get hung up on the fee side of the equation. We get hung up on the time side of the equation, where really we need to be focused on the value side of the equation. And admittedly, that’s hard to do, right? How do we quantify the value? And I can tell stories all day about we save clients taxes here, and we save them from this mistake here, and we point in the right direction there. But we need to still a focus on this value side. And I want to deliver as much value as I possibly can, dare we say massive value. But I also want to do it as quickly as I can. There is no prize for me taking twice as much time to deliver the same amount of value.
Micah Shilanski: So what’s an example of that Jarvis. How do you all of a sudden deliver twice as much value to a client and half as much time or as least amount of time as possible?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. Something I started doing, I’ve talked about this episode on the podcast before, is setting an egg timer on my desk, a countdown timer, like one of those wind up ones. And I would force myself to say “listen, I’m only going to spend an hour working on a financial plan. And when that timer runs out, I’m going to set this down and I’m going to come back to it another date”. Well at the time this airs, I will have already been on Kitces value summit, where we share several of the value ads that you and I, Micah, that we do. We say “great. Instead of delivering value one client at a time, let me figure out a way to deliver value across my entire book of clients, because the repetition will make me so much faster”. So maybe the first client, it took me an hour to come up with that value ad. The last client takes me seven minutes. Am I delivering less value? If clients got the value they wanted, but if I can do the last one in seven minutes, kudos to me.
Micah Shilanski: Amen. But you said something that’s really, really important right there. I want to peek out. Not from just a mass scale of saying great value ads, we’re going to generate to all of our clients. But you talked about repetition. And I want to say I was talking to a couple advisors recently that were going through their search meetings and I was reviewing some of their search meetings. And one of the things I noticed is that the advisors that had consistency between meetings and how they delivered their information, their meetings were more efficient. They delivered more value. Clients were happier. They communicated what they wanted to happen. And the clients took the action they needed to take. For advisors that I was reviewing their meetings and they weren’t consistent all the time in how they were delivering a message, guess what? The meetings took longer. They weren’t as congruent. The client asked a lot more questions and didn’t understand the direction and the client didn’t always take the action the advisor needed them to take in order to meet their goals.
This is just yet another example. We have a case where called the B advisor was recreating a new way to explain it every freaking time to a client. And when they this now all of a sudden it created all of these other issues. Versus the A advisor, the rockstar advisor, says “no, no, no. This is how I explain it the most effectively. And I’m always going to lead with this”. Now, if a client has a question, if I fail somewhere, then perfect, I’ll pivot then, but I’m not going to pivot before I know this system doesn’t work. This system does work. It’s a proven process and they follow that and they deliver massive value in a fraction of the time of the B advisor, because they’re doing what works.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah I loved your point about the narrow focus, right? And I think for advisors, if you don’t have any clients that are high income earners, which I’m going to call seven-figures or north of that, you need to find people you can spend some time with that are earning seven figures. And again, in a way that you deem is morally right, like if they’re a used car salesperson earning seven figures, and that bothers you- it doesn’t bother me by the way- but if it bothers, you don’t spend time with that person. But Micah, I think about your seven-figure clients, my seven-figure clients, top-end surgeons, top-end doctors. They’re very, very good at doing one thing. And they do it really fast.
I remember a couple years ago I needed to have hernia surgery done and I found a doctor that’s all he does. I was trying to hit off as friends with him, because I want him to do a better job for me. So I said “how many of these do you do?”. And he goes “I do a dozen a day on my surgery days” “A dozen?Well, how long do they take you?” He says “Well, between you and me, I’m in there for like 12 minutes”. 12 minutes! How much am I going to get charged for this? Because I don’t even know, but it adds up.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, sure.
Matthew Jarvis: But the point is like, if he says “Hey, it’s going to take me two hours”. Is the end result any more valuable? No, in fact it’s probably less valuable. I don’t want to be in there two hours. But he’s been able to narrow that down. Like a top advisor, same thing they say “boy, how do I do this again and again and again, as efficiently as possible?”.
Micah Shilanski: And let’s take that surgeon approach, right? Because how can he be in there for 12 minutes? It’s because his prep team is all designed to make sure that when he comes in, it is the most valuable use of his time. He’s going to get his value job done. And then he is going to step away, and guess what? The post-op team is going to take care of everything else. Guess what? We have that same thing. This is our arms and this is our ops, right? This is our team in the office. And are they treating you the same way? Have you created an environment where they’re designed to really highlight your time with the client? Are they getting information in advance? So you can be most effective in the meeting? Is your information organized and put together in a certain way?
We have these blue folders whenever have an in person meeting, right? And my blue folder- and Jarvis, I know you’re the exact same way- there’s a particular order. And I get very fussy if my folder is not in order. Why? Because it is about the best use of time. So my team is really great about that. There’s a certain order I want every single page in, period. And if there’s something weird, this is where I want it and this is how I want it labeled. But that makes the time the most efficient. That means when I walk into that meeting with the client, I am hyper efficient with my time, going through effectively communicating with them, helping guide them to their goals. Then when I leave now, I have a format as well, a success format, to kick it off to my team that my ops team can now pick this up. They can run with everything that needs to get done and the client can be taken care of. And I’m off to the next meeting. Jarvis, the same way that you run your office, right?
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, I have to ask, because I think some advisors listening to this might have some head trash, themselves. Do you ever have head trash? When you go back to your team and say “wait, this is supposed to be in this order or photocopied like duplex this certain way”. Do you ever have head trash, like “wow, I’m really being a diva here”?
Micah Shilanski: I did. I very much did for a little while. Then I realized a couple things: a. I’m paying the bills. And so maybe that adds to the diva part.
Matthew Jarvis: Who knows?
Micah Shilanski: But also what am I solving for here? I’m solving for maximum communication effective with my team. Now, one of the things that we do differently versus me dictating on high and saying “you guys will do this because that was what Micah said, you will do it this way”. No, that doesn’t really work. I want to explain it to the team why do we go through things in a certain order. And once I explain it to the team and I walk them through that and I walk them through the client’s side of this, then all of a sudden it makes sense to them. So one of the things that we have a much better adoption on, whenever we do a value add our team has to do the value add on them first, before it goes to a client.
Matthew Jarvis: Oh I love that.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, because now all of a sudden you do a net worth statement, right? And now the team actually gets it. Doesn’t actually just produce it. They actually get what does this mean to them. Now, all of a sudden they’re so much more committed to it or 1099 letter or a long term care letter write, or whatever value add we’re going to do. The team has to run it on themselves first. Everyone has to do their own value add first. Now all of a sudden they get how important that is. And it makes the communication and delivery so much easier because they can see both sides of it.
Matthew Jarvis: I love that example. And Micah, like you said, I’m the same way and a related one of that for case prep, even if we’re doing a meeting outside of surge, let’s say a client needs to have a call from me. I still want the exact same case work in the exact same order, duplex the same way. It’s easy. Early in my career, I thought that was trivial, right? But it’s not. I’m now going into every meeting, subconscious I know what information do I have, what information do I not have, where is it in the stack, what’s on the last page, what’s on the front page, which way to flip it over, what to circle.
These are things that can seem to the novice, to the amateur can seem like they don’t matter. To the professional, it makes all the difference in the world. And the reason I want to bring this up is, as an advisor, you need to look and say, “where is my process inconsistent?” Things as small as “is my case prep in a different order each time? Is the paper different?”. These things seem like they’re nothing. They’re everything to the professional.
Micah Shilanski: How do I go through my questions with my clients? Right? By the way, it’s the same order every single time. And guess what? My clients that have been here for 20 years, do they come in and say “Micah, this is getting kind of boring. You kind of ask me the same questions in the same format every time we come in”. No, they love it. They say “Great, Micah. We always start out with cash. And here’s the information that I have”. And then I always ask questions a certain way as we go through it.
Like Jarvis, here’s one that recently I had another advisor change. And so I had to go back and chat it with them a little bit. I always love to ask the question “how’s cashflow going?”. Now, that seems like an interesting question, but it doesn’t really answer a number, right? So I had another advisor kind of take question, they pivoted it, and they said, “well, what’s in checking and savings”. Okay, well, that’s a fair question, but that’s not what I’m solving for. I’m asking for an emotional feeling.
Matthew Jarvis: Yes.
Micah Shilanski: This is what I want to know, right? This is where it’s the difference in an A advisor versus a rockstar advisor, right here. If I say “how’s cash flow going?”, and they’re like “you know, Micah? It’s a little tight” But seeing you’re doing okay, then I find out they have a quarter million dollars in their bank account and they feel it’s a little tight. Now, if I would’ve asked “how much do you have in check-in savings?” And they would’ve said a quarter million dollars. I probably would’ve checked that off and been like “that’s fine”. But for this particular client, they get down a quarter million, they feel broke, right? They don’t think they’re going to be able to make their utility payments for whatever reason. So we all have these different financial thermostats. So you really got to again, understand what are you solving for the questions that you’re asking and how do you be hyper consistent with those questions throughout all of your client meetings? Again, if you have a system that works, keep doing that system.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s such the truth with everything, right? Do what works. If you have a system that works, or if you see another advisor whose system works and it’s easy when you’re a struggling advisor to say “well, the reason that Micah and Matt make so much money, the reason they’re able to serve so many clients is that they must be cutting corners somewhere”. And I’ve had advisors approach us, and I don’t mean to grant some others. And that’s one mindset, right? One mindset is somebody else’s cheating and that’s how they got ahead. The other mindset, the mindset success is someone’s figured out a better way. Like there’s things that I don’t know, this is for me personally. And I want to see anybody who’s doing it better than me. I want to figure out how they do that so that I can model that success.
The fact that it took me 10 hours to do something does not mean it takes Micah 10 hours. It might take him 10 minutes. And if that’s the case, I want to know how in 10 minutes, did you know that $47,000… Well, let me excuse better example. How did you know in one second, that 47,000 was the right Roth conversion amount. Well, a lot of experience, right? You’ve already reviewed the tax returns so many times you know what kind of threshold the client has for paying taxes right? In a split second you know that Roth conversion number, it could have taken me five hours of analysis.
Micah Shilanski: I’m just dying over here. Because my junior, we just had this conversation. Christian, he’s doing a great job meeting with client meetings, etcetera. Yeah. And I’m loving it. But he came into me after the meeting and his comment was just that “Micah, I kind of feel, you’re just making up the Roth conversion number”. I said “well, what do you mean?” And he says “well, where’s your analysis to put it together”. And he’s missing the aspect of saying “my analysis has been 20 years of real life experience and working with this client for the last 10, right?” “Your point?” “I know their tax tolerance”. So mathematically, he was bringing up the argument we should have done more because they had more room inside of their marginal tax rate that we could have done more of a conversion, which mathematically, that makes sense.
But what he’s missing is this is the tippy-top of their tax tolerance. If they start writing more checks than this, they’re going to say “That’s it. This sucks. I’m out”. So that great little point “what is your client’s tax tall and how do you stay ahead of that? So you can keep them proactively doing conversions”. Sometimes I start off with a really small Roth conversion with clients just to get them doing it because they don’t like paying those taxes. Great. We’re going to do a little one. Then we do a little bit more. No, it’s not ideal, but ideal is something versus nothing.
Matthew Jarvis: Well, Micah, that brings up a good point. What are we solving for? When we’re looking at value to clients, what is valuable to clients? This Roth conversion analysis, is getting their Roth conversion down to the penny the most valuable thing to the client? If they say no, I don’t want to do it. So if you say “boy, you could do a $63,218.12 cent Roth conversion to optimize your tax bracket”. And they say “you probably can’t write that check” versus the client that you say “you know what? $20,000, that’s a good starting number. Let’s try that this year, next year we’ll look and possibly do a little bit more”. And they say “yep, let’s go ahead and do that”. Which one of those is delivering more value? Hint. It’s the one where they actually take action.
Micah Shilanski: Just like an estate planning, right?
Matthew Jarvis: Yes.
Micah Shilanski: Estate planners will tell you all the time. Estate planning gets done and it never gets funded. People never change their beneficiaries. They never put stuff in their trust. The estate planning was worthless. Now you could be saying “well, Micah, I’m sure there’s a poor over will or A, B and C, at least they’ve done something”. Yeah, but it was virtually nothing that they did because they didn’t take that last step, which is the most important. And that is the most important step in planning, it’s the action step. So again, if you spent so much time with a client- kind of getting back to how much time this takes, right? If you spend so much time explaining stuff to a client, you’ve burned out their ability to make a go/no-go decision on that action item. Because you did a three hour meeting because you thought it added more value. Then the client’s not in a mental position in order to make a go/no-go decision. Did you actually add any value?
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, this episode can go so many directions because how do you know when the client’s going past the go/no-go. You’ve done a lot of training, you’ve attended a lot of personal development, you’ve watched very carefully. Any time a client or prospect, doesn’t follow your advice, you go back and you extreme ownership and you say “all right, where did I lose them? Where in the conversation did their body language turn off? Did they go from engaged to like eyes glossed over? If we look at another line of text, but I’m going to pretend like I’m interested”. These things are so incredibly valuable in the process and it’s why some advisors take 10 hours to do what other advisors do in 10 minutes. They miss those key points.
Micah Shilanski: Boy, I tell you what. If you wanted to improve your meetings, taking a body language class would probably be the number one thing I would suggest to improve your meetings. Because just picking up on the subtle cues of clients as to when they have questions, when they don’t understand something, and when they’re not willing to say anything really, really important and it’s all very, very subtle. So body language is huge in these things.
Matthew Jarvis: It’s Very subtle. I know you mentioned working with Christian, I’ve been working with Alex- again, both great advisors. When the client takes an audible inhale, more likely than not, it’s because they have a question to ask, but they’re a little bit intimidated. Now by the way, they might just be taking a breath and that’s okay. I lose nothing by saying “I’m sorry. Did you have a question here? Does this make sense to you?” Even if it makes perfect sense, I have won there. But the amateurs are like “I’ve got 47 pages of money, Carla, to go through with them. We don’t even have time to cover their questions if they have them”.
Micah Shilanski: Exactly. Yeah. Their questions are the most important thing. Kind of a funny thing, when I’m on a telephone call and clients are on speaker phone drivers, some of the times I will close my eyes just to pay attention to the breathing. So that’s all I’m focused on the breathing and in what they’re saying at that time. Even if I’m talking, I still have my eyes closed, because I want to hyper focus on that. Because they’re at speakerphone, I can’t really see their body language, I want to make sure we’re connecting. And those audible pauses, those are huge keys. Do they have questions they have not? do they agree? Or do they disagree?
Matthew Jarvis: I think this is another place, Micah- we’re going all over the place with this episode- where the great advisors separate themselves-
Micah Shilanski: All over the value.
Matthew Jarvis: All over with value. Where the great advisors separate themselves from just the good advisors. The good advisors think that it’s about the numbers and they’re really good at the numbers, right?
Micah Shilanski: Yes.
Matthew Jarvis: They’re they’re doing Monte Carlo analysis, they’re doing tax analysis 10 ways from Sundays. The great advisors realize that the only thing that matters is helping the client get a step closer to their goals. If a step closer means a 10,000 Roth conversion instead of 23,218, they understand. This is Dave Ramsey’s brilliance, right?
Micah Shilanski: Oh, yeah.
Matthew Jarvis: People love to attack Dave Ramsey “oh the snowball debt payment doesn’t work”. Well on paper, it doesn’t. But in real life, when somebody has one less piece debt to pay off, that makes all the difference in the world. And that’s his genius that so many advisors miss. “Oh 12% rate”, that’s not the issue. The genius is getting people to move closer to their goals.
Micah Shilanski: That mental victory, right? When they’re paying something off is huge. Yeah. I mean just those mental wins that you can get. You get into his brilliance for coming up with that and so great. How do we take something like that and apply it with our clients? The exact same way.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, if you don’t mind, I want to highlight a story that you told me before we got on this episode, which is not a—
Micah Shilanski: Remember when I said not to share? No, I’m just kidding.
Matthew Jarvis: That NDA that I signed. Their social security number is 555.
Micah Shilanski: That’s right.
Matthew Jarvis: The one where the prospect came in, they had already met with four other advisors who had done Monte Carlo analysis for the standard financial planning, output, and couple things when they came to. But they had been so programmed that this was the way to do a plan that they asked you to do another Monte Carlo simulation.
Micah Shilanski: They did. They did. And I said “all right, well tell me a little bit about your Monte Carlos because my answer’s going to be no. Right. I don’t run Monte Carlo analysis, but that’s okay. So tell me about your Monte Carlo analysis”. And they said “well, when we first had it run by ABC advisor, it came out to an 88 and they said we couldn’t retire within 88. So we changed our budget, we saved more money. We did all this other stuff and then moved it to a 94 and he said, we could retire”. I said “well, that’s just absolutely amazing. What does a 94 mean?” And there was just silence, right?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah.
Micah Shilanski: I think it was a little bit of like, “well what do you mean 94 doesn’t mean right? I’m speaking your language. You should know what a 94 means”, but it was just interesting aspect. Okay. They don’t really know what a 94 means, either. Okay, that’s fine. And they’re like “well, we’d really like you to run another Monte Carlo”. And I said “well, hold on a second. For one, we don’t run Monte Carlos. I don’t think they’re a great way to plan for your retirement. But just to be clear, you’ve had this ran four times for you and you are not happy with them. So you think me using the exact same software to come up with a fifth version of this for you is now going to make you comfortable for retirement?”. And there’s just pause.
They hadn’t really thought about it. They’ve been so ingrained of saying, no, this is what you have to do for retirement. And I said “look, here’s pros and cons of Monte Carlo analysis and here’s what work going to do. And here’s why it works versus the Monte Carlo. It’s a great theory. This is how we’re going to apply reality to your retirement in what you can spend” and the client like that simple approach that we’re going to do. And they’re moving forward with it because we’re running a bucket strategy for them and we’re not doing this huge Monte Carlo plan.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. Yeah. And even though the client came in and the prospect came and asking “I want this”, again, the expert advisor knows that the value is not necessarily an X it’s, what are they trying to accomplish? Like they were trying to accomplish “can we afford to retire?” That was really the extent of their question. Now they were engineers, as you mentioned offline. So they kind of have this need for deeper analysis. But at the end of the day, they want to know “can I retire?” And the advisor who can answer that question for them as succinctly as possible is the one that wins there because that’s the one they follow
Micah Shilanski: And Jarvis, one of the things I told them was I said “look, we, as an industry is financial advisors have done a horrible job with consumers over-complicating this thing. Retirement is very simple. Do you have enough money to do the things you want to do? Yes or no. And if you do, you’re going to have a great retirement. And if you don’t, your retirement’s going to suck. But that’s as complicated as this thing needs to be. So it’s my job to look and say, great, how much do you want to spend? And where’s that money going to come from? Great news. Here’s how we’re going to do that. And as long as we keep your cash flow where you want it and retirement, and that’s going to be able to keep going forward, you’re going to have a great retirement”. I think it’s really as simple as that.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, it is. And that complexity you mentioned, it may come out of our industry out of some nefarious, ulterior motive. I think a lot of it, especially independent space, comes from this head trash around value. Like “Hey, if I’m charging a fee, however that’s structured really doesn’t matter, but however that’s structured, I need to make sure I’ve got this deliverable that’s big enough. That’s enough hours, that’s enough pages to justify that fee where at the end of the day, all the client wants, are answers to a couple of questions, but we get hung up. If I’m charging X, better, spend 10 hours, right?” Like 10 hours somehow equals X. “It better have a hundred pages”. Somehow a hundred pages equals X. None of that equals X. What equals X is that client saying “Hey, I can retire. Here’s Y. Next”.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. That’s the thing they care the most about. Perfect.
Matthew Jarvis: I love it.
Micah Shilanski: Well, Jarvis, this podcast is all about action item, bud. You want to make a little transition to some good action items.
Matthew Jarvis: I feel like this podcast is all about just you and I kind of getting out there that we need to get out there. It’s like our therapy session.
Micah Shilanski: It’s our therapy session.
Matthew Jarvis: So thank you.
Micah Shilanski: That’s great.
Matthew Jarvis: We’re just like 50,000 downloads a month.
Micah Shilanski: That’s amazing.
Matthew Jarvis: So congratulations to our nation. Thanks for listening to this therapy session. But Micah, as you said, action items. I would say action item number one is to try to start detaching in your mind the output or the value from the input. So it’s not the hours. It’s not the pages. It’s not the amount of time you spent doing Monte Carlo simulations that’s valuable to the client. What’s valuable to the client in my experience is “your goal is X and the way to get there is Y”. Everything else is noise around that. By the way, Google has everything else.
Micah Shilanski: Yes.
Matthew Jarvis: That’s all noise. So actually, number one, where am I just adding noise to their life versus where am I giving them clear decisive action?
Micah Shilanski: I love it. All right. And then another action item, second thing is, when you’re building this out, cut your planning time in half, right?
Matthew Jarvis: I love that.
Micah Shilanski: So how long does it normally take you to do a plan, couple hours, whatever that normal time is. Great. Start cutting it in half. Use that egg timer. And all you have to do is half the time. If you had a gun to your head and you had to get it done in half the time, could you? I’d argue you probably could. Why don’t you give that a shot? Do it a couple weeks in advance of the appointment, cut your planning time in half, rock out their financial plan, don’t touch it for a day, then come back and look at it. Did you actually do a solid job? Do you have, Jarvis, to your point, clear goals and clear action items to get to their goals? And if you do, that’s a pretty solid financial plan.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. I’d say the other half of that, Micah, is to cut the length of your plan in half. So if your plan is 50 pages, cut it down to 20 pages. If it’s 20, down to 10. Now, if it’s one, I don’t know—
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis is going to cut his to a half page.
Matthew Jarvis: To a three by five card. But the mental exercise, at some point you will hit a threshold, right? If the client comes in and you sit down and you say “the answer is blue. Ponder that”. Like, that’s going to be too far. Short of that, you’re okay.
Micah Shilanski: Well, the biggest thing, the length of the plant, right? And we preach a lot on this one page side. Most of mine are two, by the way. I’m not really worried- I know, right? I’m not really worried about it. The question is, is it simple and clearly actionable to the client? This is what we are solving for. What do they need to do? And what action do they need to take? As long as that’s super clear on there, boom, you hit it.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. I agree. Micah, the final action on my list, and this is related to this topic of value in a couple of ways, but it’s that you make sure you’re spending your time with advisors who are delivering value greater than the value you are able to deliver. Right? Don’t spend it time with advisors who are stuck in some lower level of value and are justifying that by saying “Hey, I know our, value’s not very a high, but our fee schedule is fixed or it’s hourly or whatever it is. Or, or I, I spend this many hours”, like that’s not the variable I want to solve for. Micah and I, when we do our masterminds, we’re looking for who are advisors that are absolutely crushing it, crushing it! That’s who I want to spend my time with, because that’s who I want to learn from. I don’t need excuses for how I do my planning right now. I need to know what’s the next level and who’s already there.
Micah Shilanski: Awesome, Jarvis. As always, an amazing time doing the podcast with you. Thank you, bud. And until next time! Happy planning!
Matthew Jarvis: Happy planning!
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