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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…
Micah Shilanski: Welcome to another amazing episode of The Perfect RIA podcast. I’m your co-host and co-founder, Micah Shilanski. And with me as usual is the amazing Matthew Jarvis. Jarvis, what’s going on, bud?
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, I am doing great. As, of course, everyone knows, we record these episodes a few weeks in advance, and you and I just returned from two separate Masterminds, one, our Invictus Mastermind that we do twice a year, and then also our own personal Mastermind that we do several times a year with our peer group. And Micah, I’m fired up. We did a lot of extreme accountability, both for ourselves, but for the, I don’t know, dozen or so other people that were involved. Really a lot of fun.
Micah Shilanski: It’s so great, and these Masterminds are just so impactful in many different ways. One of the ways is that it really helps us to focus on our practices, right, through the lenses of another advisor, which is really interesting. Because when we’re looking at our own problems, oh my gosh, it’s a huge thing. It’s insurmountable. I can’t believe all this stuff going on. Then another advisor articulates a problem, it’s like, oh, well that’s easy to fix. But then I’m like, oh wait, that’s my practice too. Right? And so now, as a group, you’ve solved a problem. So it’s not just the accountability that you walk out of. It’s also seeing it through the lens of these other advisors and taking it and saying, you know what? I really need to up my game. I need to increase my massive value that I bring to my clients. And it’s just a great way to do that. We often talk about, Jarvis, how the RIA community is a lonely community, right? There’s not a lot of people that are out here that are doing this. So these Masterminds are critical to your success.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, they really are. And, of course, as longtime listeners know, we always start these Masterminds with what we call financial undressing, where we each look and say, what’s your practice doing? Not the high-level broker dealer conference, what’s your AUM, or some obscure number, but nope. What’s the top line number? What’s the bottom line number? Where’s the money going in between? And then what struggles are practice facing? And Micah, as you point out, more often than not, the struggle that people are really struggling with is not the one they think. They’re looking at a symptom, not the cause.
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, one of the things that I love about the financial undressing is that it allows other advisors, really successful, to look at your practice and call BS on your numbers, right? Not coming out saying that you’re lying, right? We have solid integrity. These guys are great. But what stories have we told ourselves that aren’t 100% true. Easy example. We had a guy and he’s at one of the big companies out there, right? Quasi wire house. And for years, he’s been saying, well, I don’t pay that much as an overhead. I don’t pay that much in expenses, et cetera. Well, he went through and did financial undressing, and it was like, holy crap. He is well into the six figures, over half a million dollars a year, paying in expenses to a BD that’s really not providing anything.
So you got to ask that question and says, okay, great. If this service is doing an amazing job for you and it’s worth it, then let’s absolutely keep it. But if you have a service that’s not, all you’re doing is wasting money. You’re not being a good steward of your talents. Does this make the most sense? And it’s about making that educated and informed decision, not sweeping it under the rug, not not looking at it because it’s painful, but really knowing where your money going is super powerful. And this one advisor, solid guy, didn’t really want to look at it, until it was brought to his attention by other advisors.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, that’s a great example. So one, that only came as a result of financial undressing, which I’ve never seen in any other setting. And I’m not mentioning that to put The Perfect RIA up on a pedestal, though I do enjoy doing that. I’ve been in the industry 20 years. I’ve never seen this happen in any other setting. It has been critical for success. The second part is, as you mentioned with that particular advisor, was to sit down as a group and say, let’s unpack this, right? You said, “Yeah, I’m paying my broker dealer X and I think it’s worth it.” Well, let’s unpack this. Let’s unpack it from a business perspective, right? What’s the ROI on this? And then let’s unpack it from a personal perspective. What is it about this that makes it a decision you don’t want to address, right? That makes it something where you’re justifying it, right? You can’t make a business case what you’re justifying. Why is that? And in that trusted setting, that’s where you can go deep on those things.
Micah Shilanski: And there’s lots of great times where it makes sense to stay at a BD, to stay where you’re at and not make changes, right? So we’re not advocating everybody needs to do that in the slightest, but Jarvis, to your point, you need to unpack it and really understand that decision. And let’s put this into client terms, right? If a client didn’t want to talk about how much money they were spending, if a client didn’t want to talk about their taxes, if a client didn’t want to talk about any insurance, long-term care, risk management, et cetera, would you bring them on as a client, or would you have to graduate them? Well, in my world, I would have to graduate them, right? I can’t not have these conversations because it’s uncomfortable for them. My job is to bring them up, even though they are uncomfortable, and make sure we have good answers, not just sweep it under the rug and hope nobody dies. Don’t think that’s the best plan in a financial scenario.
Matthew Jarvis: I love that. Micah, a reoccurring theme that came up in both these Masterminds and really, as I look back on the dozens of Masterminds we’ve done, this comes up every single time. Well, two things comes up every time. Fees come up every time, which we’ll talk about that, I think, another day. But the other one is time. We’ll say, great. I want to do this. I want to leave my broker dealer. I want to implement new technology. I want to do value adds. I want to be a parent for my growing children. I want to be around my spouse. But I don’t have time for it. And this thing, Micah, as you know, comes up again and again and again in these Masterminds.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And there’s a great quote. Maybe it was Sullivan that said this, but was, you know what? You can’t save time. You can only make time. Right? So this is something that we got to look at, and we have to be proactive with, to get in place. Now, easy thing that I like to say was about to take time off. People are going to have all kinds of head trash. It says, well, I don’t have time to take time off. Or if I hire someone, then I could take time off. Well, that’s a lie. We’ll talk about that one in just a minute. Or, once I have these systems in place, then I can take time off. That is just not the case. The only way to take time off is to actually take time off.
Now, easy example I like to give, Jarvis, about forcing mechanism and deadlines, think of your last airplane trip. You had all of the stuff you had to do. Did you pack your luggage before you went to the airport? Probably. Right? So all the stuff, we have all of these things to do, but every single time, you’re able to pack your suitcase. You added one more task in there to make sure your flight was there. Okay, that’s the same example we’re talking about here. You can get everything done, but you’ve got to create a forcing mechanism. Forcing mechanism is I don’t want to miss my airplane. Perfect. Let’s create a forcing mechanism in your business to force you to take more time off.
Matthew Jarvis: And Micah, we’ve worked with now dozens, probably hundreds of advisors now that I think about it, on sort of using extreme accountability, to get them to just test taking some time off. Just test taking Fridays off in the summer. Just test taking a two week vacation each quarter. And every single time we’ve done this, they’ve come back and they said, “Wow, not only did my quality of life go up, but my practice became so much more efficient, because I was finally,” Micah, to your point, “Forced to do things more efficiently.”
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. And that’s the key right there, Jarvis, is forcing it to be more effective in your office and do more things. Now we had one member in our Invictus Mastermind that was really talking about taking time off, but their comment was, they can’t take it off until they did X, until they hired somebody. Right? Once I hire somebody, I’m going to take more time off. Well, Jarvis, let’s pick on that one for a quick example. How many times in your life have you hired someone, then immediately, your life was better?
Matthew Jarvis: I’ll have to really dig through the memory banks on that one. Probably never.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. I’m going to go with a solid never, right? Because once you hire someone, then all the work starts. You got to start training them. You got to supervise them. You got to go through all that stuff. Now, training and hiring people’s a phenomenal thing and you got to be able to get a good support system in place, but hiring someone is not the solution to taking more time off. Implementing a process is not the solution to taking more time off. It’s forcing yourself to do it. So Jarvis, what’s a good way that advisors out there listening to this that weren’t able to attend our Mastermind can really up their game in taking time off, number one, and then number two, how does this actually add value to clients by taking time off?
Matthew Jarvis: Boy, I’m glad you mentioned the adding value to clients part, which we’ll tackle in just a second. I think the first part is there’s some mental hacks that you need to do to identify that a lot of your time is spent in busy work. And Micah, every time you and I bring up the idea of busy work, people immediately get defensive and they say, I know that other advisors play office and do busy work. I don’t play office. I don’t do busy work. And then we kind of walk them through this exercise, how many clients do you have? How much time is it taking per clients? I’ve never seen it come up with less than 1,000 free hours. But Michah, the mental hack I would encourage our listeners to do is just say, all right, how does my practice compare to Matt and Micah’s or anyone else who is taking time off, right?
Now, you may say to yourself, my practice delivers twice as much value as Jarvis’ or twice as much investments. I don’t think that’s objectively true, but let’s just say that is true. So I’m taking six to eight months out of the office each year. What is it that’s taking you so much more time, right? If somebody else can do it, if 10 people, if 100 or 500 people can do it, what is it you’re doing that’s taking so much more time, or are you just taking more time to do the same thing that I’m doing, in a fraction of the time?
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, the head trash that I hear from other advisors when this comes in is, oh, well I do such a high level of client service. I can’t possibly take that time out of the office. Right? And I always laugh at that, especially when they say it in a group of really successful advisors, and I would pick on them, so what you’re saying right there is everyone else in this room does not provide any high-level value of service to their clients? We all just kind of suck, and you’re the only one that does a great job. Then they’re kind of back pedaling, no, no, no, that’s not what I’m saying. I was like, nope, that’s exactly what you’re saying. Right? But we confuse so much about our own mentality of a high level of service and delivering massive value.
Again, it’s the perfect argument. Number one, deliver massive value, right? We got to be delivering massive value to our family, to our clients, et cetera. So we got to. That’s table stakes to get in the game. But then that doesn’t necessarily equate to time. We are not on that hourly scope. And what I have found is the more time that I can focus on my business and recharge and be strategic in these things, et cetera, all of a sudden, dramatically, how I’m going to improve and the value that I can deliver to clients, because it forces my time. When I take time off, it forces me that my time in the office is really productive time, not playing office.
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Matthew Jarvis: Micah, another mental hack that I’d like advisors to look at when they say, I don’t have time. If you say that you are at capacity or you don’t have time for these things, one thing I would encourage you to do is say, great. Why am I still taking on new prospects? In fact, if I am at such capacity, if I’m operating 110% capacity, then really, I have too many clients and I’m doing them a disservice. I need to be firing a number of clients. And Micah, when we go down that path, that’s something when advisors start to realize, oh, wait a second. Maybe I do have plenty of time. I’m just not using it effectively. So if you’re telling yourself, hey, I don’t have enough time to take time off work, then you have too many clients and you need to let some of those go. Or, at a minimum, say, I just can never take on another client.
Micah Shilanski: Perfect. Right. And then all of a sudden, if that freaks you out and was like, well, I got to continue to take on clients. Okay, well then you have enough time to take time off. And this isn’t a binary switch, right, that’s one or the other that says, well, I can’t take time off if I bring on new clients, or vice versa. You can do both, which is an amazing thing. So what are some main excuses that we see from advisors all the time? Number one, plan building. They say, well, it takes me so long to build a plan. Then we sit down and actually look at the actual time. Okay, it doesn’t actually take that much time to build a high value plan. Second one I see all the time, Jarvis, I’d love to know your thoughts on this, is research, right? People say, oh, well, I have to research all of these things. Well, that is code for playing office. Because, Jarvis, what research needs to get done, which is taking 20 hours a week?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. On that research one, I would say great. And we worked through with an advisor on this. Great. How much time? How many hours of research do you need each week? Tell me how many you need, right? Is it one hour? Is it two? Is it eight? Is it 16? Perfect. Whatever that time number is, I’ll just give you that number. Let’s block that in on the calendar. Let’s say, Micah, it’s this extraordinary eight hours a week. I don’t know what the world you could possibly do in. Perfect.
Then you get one day a week for research, call it Monday, call it Tuesday. I don’t really care. The other four days a week, you are not allowed to do any kind of research. See, once we get outside of time blocking for a task, that’s when we know we’re playing office. If you can show me on your calendar where it says these two hours are for research, I might give you some grace. If you just tell me, hey, listen, I need to do research all week, that’s code for playing office. And Micah, more often than not, it’s code for an avoidance behavior of prospecting, of delivering value, of really working on your business.
Micah Shilanski: Oh, totally. You just nailed it right on the head. It is an avoidance behavior, right? That’s your go-to to justify your work time when you’re not actually providing value, is falling to that research. Team meetings could also be another one that I see in this aspect, which could be a big suck in time. Now, not saying you shouldn’t have team meetings, but they got to be scheduled. They got to start on time. They got to end on time. We’ve done previous podcasts on this, to run an effective meeting. And your team needs to be trained on how to run an effective meeting, because that’s another way that we could be playing office is we have too many internal meetings, and that means we’re not actually having time to get things done or to be in front of clients to make sure we’re delivering massive value.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, worse than that of too many team meetings is that you’re not having any team meetings and you’re running your entire office on direct messages or, hey, do you got a second. Every time I meet, I think, Micah, without fail, tell me if your experience is otherwise. Every time I meet an advisor who tells me they don’t have time, I can immediately find out that they’re living their lives on got a minutes, on incoming phone calls.
In fact, an advisor, well, Brian, we just recorded an episode with him. He thought his whole career, he had to answer all incoming calls. I don’t know where that came from. Doesn’t really matter. But when he realized, wait a second, lots of great advisors don’t answer their phones, and he stopped doing that himself, the efficiency and the quality of his life just went up dramatically, astronomically. He was like, “Matt and Micah, not answering the phones changed my whole practice.” And you think, well, that’s such a small thing. That can only be a few minutes a week. I’m not going to speak for him. He said, “This transformed my practice.”.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, this is huge, right? At that point in time, when he stopped taking client calls directly, right? The phone would ring, he would be the one answering it. He didn’t lose a single client. Clients got continual massive value that’s in there. He’s empowered his team, right? So I’m going to argue and say his client service went up, not down. His client service went up by him not answering the phone, because it empowers his team to do these things. And also, when a client randomly calls and you get on the line for that got a minute question that’s there, at least, Jarvis, you’re maybe better at this than I am, but I’m not prepared for that. Bob Smiths calls me on the phone. I was working on something else over here. Now he calls me. I answer the phone. I’m having to deal with this.
And I don’t have the answer to his question. Now I don’t look really competent. I’m going to have to defer a lot. Say it depends. Go do some research and call them back. That was not a great use of my time or the client’s time. It was a giant waste of the client’s time. Versus if we have a system in place to empower our team members that not only answer that call to help field the question, and if it needs to go to the advisor, they get some preliminary information, now it’s a scheduled call back so I’m not wasting the client’s time playing phone tag, back and forth, which is a giant waste and frustrating for everybody. I know the client’s question. I can become prepared to that meeting, answer that client’s question with authority and conviction, how we’re supposed to do all things, right? So now, all of a sudden, I’ve gone from answering the phone with no value, in my opinion, to clients, to not answering the phone and delivering massive value to clients, because we have a better service model designed for them.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, another thing I see every time an advisor tells me they don’t have time to take vacations is that they’re not doing surge meetings, right? This is another, and we’ve talked about this for as long as we’ve done the podcast, probably our first couple episodes were about surge meetings, that implementing surge meetings is the best way to get control of your time. We had an advisor at our Mastermind this week that we like to affectionately joke has 1200 million in assets. So that’s 1.2 billion, for those of you following along at home. He has a phenomenal practice. Guy is a rockstar. He is been on the Kitces podcast. I mean, just a real phenomenal advisor. And again, he said, “Boy, Matt and Micah, when I implemented surge meetings, it changed my entire practice. It changed my entire life.” This is a guy with young kids. He said the amount of time I have with my family, and he’s running, and again, as we like to joke, a $1200 million book of business, delivering incredible amounts of value, and surge meeting was a pivot point in his life.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. So these are things you got to take and you have to implement that’s there. Now, we’ve done, again, several pods on how to do surge meetings. This isn’t exactly copy Matt and Micah. Copy the methodology in how we approach this, not exactly what we’re doing, because we’re solving for different things and how we like to take time off, how we deliver value to clients, but the biggest takeaway is giving things a place to live, right?
We talked about research time. You got to give it a place to live. Team meetings. You got to give it a place to live. If you’re doing any marketing content, you got to give it a place to live. You’re doing client meetings. You got to give it a place to live. You got to have these places on your calendar that forces you to get those things done. Now another pro tip, at least, Jarvis, what I have to do is after I get done with this, I need to turn around and it says, have a forcing mechanism to get out of the office. So let’s say that I’m going to work, and I want to get out of the office by 1:00, 2:00, 10:00 AM, whatever that time is. I’m going to book an out-of-the-office appointment to have lunch with somebody, to go out with somebody, to take the family out, et cetera, but I need external accountability so I don’t play office.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. This is incredibly difficult to implement on your own without some kind of support group. It can be done. And advisors have done it. Micah, you and I did it. It’s very difficult to do it without external support, because the things that distract us, especially electronics, there’s sort of this adage that every time you look at a screen, there’s 1,000 people on the other side of the screen, trying to keep you engaged, right, because you are the product there. The dopamine, there’s all this science behind it. So Micah, to your point, you need to have some kind of forcing mechanism, an appointment with somebody else. Micah, at our Mastermind, we set all sorts of crazy, extreme accountability. Like any Friday you work, it costs $60,000. Any Friday you work, you have to fire your top client. Anytime you’re at the office after 5:00 PM, we have to break your computer in half. These might seem like outlandish things. It’s what it takes to make this work.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, you get so addicted, right? We get so addicted to work. As you said, the dopamine release, that’s going to be there, whether it’s checking messages or checking email and going through these things and updating feeds, and just playing office, we get a lot of stimulus about that. So we have to create that big stick to break it. And then alternately, we have to do it for a long enough period of time that we break that habit. And we have to replace that habit was something really, really productive in our lives.
Everyone, Jarvis, at least in my experience, everyone that’s moved to these type of concept, whether it’s surge meeting, whether it’s time blocking, taking more time out of the office, they absolutely love it. They say their mental energy is up. They deliver more value to clients. Their business is continually growing. There’s no downside that advisors have come back and said that this was a bad idea, and they’re going back to the old way. Have you seen, have you had anyone reach out to you and said this was total crap, it didn’t work, and they’re going back the old ways?
Matthew Jarvis: No, I haven’t. I’ve never seen that. Now, the only thing I have seen, and this is the only caveat I want to offer. I have had young advisors approach me in this, say, “Jarvis, great news. I take off just as much time as you do. And I have four clients.” And the reason I point this out is this still can become an avoidance behavior. So when you’re taking time off, whether that’s weekends or time off to sleep, you need to start the day, and we talked about Brian Tracy, you need to eat the frog. You’ve got to start with the most important thing first. And this is a narrow group of industry. Don’t let taking time off replace prospecting, delivering massive value, right? Don’t get those mixed up in your mind. That’s rare, Micah, but it does happen, where we say, “Oh, my priority is to take time off.” No, my priority is to deliver massive value to clients in the most efficient and effective manner possible.
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, I love that. What a solid point. So this podcast is all about action items, right? You got to take this information and implement it to make sure we’re going to the next level. So, of course, your first action item, give us five stars. Right? Really, really important where this podcast is growing. We have some ambitious goals this year, so make sure you’re sending that information that’s going to be out. But before we get to the other action items, Jarvis, you and I are going to be at the XY Conference. We’re actually doing a pre-conference event there, and we’re going to do a panel of success, right?
Matthew Jarvis: That’s correct. On October 8th, which is the day before XYPN kicks off, it’s on a Saturday, I believe, in Denver, we are doing an all-day panel of success. Micah, you’ll be there. I’ll be there. Benjamin Brent will be there. Steven Jarvis from Retirement Tax Services will be there. And we’ll be highlighting, to this point, how we doubled our income, how we doubled our success while working less. Micah, related to XYPN as well, I will also be on with Michael Kitces, July 15th, doing a webinar on how to show ongoing value to clients by creating a more systematized deliverables and service. That was clearly a Kitces webinar title, not a Jarvis webinar title, but it’s going to be a great time. I’m always excited to work with Michael Kitces. Action item number two, this podcast is airing mid-June-ish. This is the summertime.
This is a great time to commit, to say, great. I’m just not going to work any Fridays during the summer. This doesn’t mean I’m going to skip out on the things I need to do, my prospecting, et cetera. I’m just going to commit that I will not work a Friday in June. And for every Friday you work, then you need to send in some kind of extreme accountability, a check for $1,000 to your least favorite politician, or least favorite charitable organization, whatever that is, but set up some extreme accountability, ideally with a group, but at least with yourself, on Fridays in the summer. Michah, last action item on my list. We hear from advisors, obviously from our hundreds of paying members in Backstage Pass and Invictus, but we hear from advisors all over the industry, that time management, that surge meetings, that delivering massive value have transformed your practice.
We would love to hear from you, ideally in writing. Send an email to lifestyle@theperfectria with your success story and let us know how much of it we can share. We love to hear it because it keeps us excited, but we want to share it with the industry, we want to share it with other advisors. And so if you’re interested on coming on the podcast to talk about it, if we can just highlight it in a podcast, so send an email to lifestyle@theperfectria with your success stories. If, by the way, you don’t have a success story in this area, send an email to lifestyle@theperfectria and beg them to put you on the waiting list for the next time we open membership to Backstage Pass and Invictus, because you really need that help.
Micah Shilanski: All right. So take action on these things, really, really important. And as always, it has been a blast. And until next time, happy planning.
Matthew Jarvis: Happy planning.
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