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Micah Shilanski: Welcome to another amazing episode of The Perfect RIA Podcast. I’m your co-host & co-founder Micah Shilanski. And with me is not Matthew Jarvis. I have a special guest: Cameron Valadez with Planable Wealth.
And Cameron joined us at our last INVICTUS Mastermind that we had, and he has made some tremendous changes, adding more value to his clients, and we wanted to have him on as a guest in order to go through this. So, Cameron, thank you so much for joining us today.
Cameron Valadez: Yeah. You got it Micah, excited to be here.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. So, we wrapped up our Tennessee Mastermind. Whenever we do a mastermind too, we always put fun events inside of there. So, one of the fun things we did is we did a machine gun shoot. So, I guess get us the important questions off the beginning. Cameron what was your most favorite machine gun to shoot while we were there?
Cameron Valadez: Ooh, I had a few that I wanted to shoot, I’ve shot a lot before. So, I was looking for what haven’t I shot, and also, which one’s going to have the most recoil because I always like to test myself.
So, I usually go for the AK-47, the 7.62 round, but I’ve got to say this time, it was the SCAR 17, which is also a 7.62 round, but just physically a bigger rifle. It was pretty fun to shoot full auto. That was cool.
Micah Shilanski: It’s just a beast. You put that thing on full and it just kind of slowly rocks you back. That said-
Cameron Valadez: You’re right.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, it was a ton of fun.
Cameron Valadez: Yeah, that was amazing.
Micah Shilanski: Well, we got to get the important things out of the way. So, we did a fun machine gun shoot. We had about 13 advisors that were together, plus the team that was there.
And on these masterminds, these are things that Jarvis and I have talked about for a long time of why they’re so powerful because the first thing we’re going to start off with is financial undressing, which is very uncomfortable if you’ve never done it before. Because you put all your numbers out there for the team to review.
But what’s really powerful about this is you get other advisors to look at your practice and you get them to poke holes in it and say where do you need to improve. And man, that type of exposure is also really powerful. Cameron, what did you think of that process when we went through it?
Cameron Valadez: Yeah, well, I guess I was pretty nervous at first. It could be kind of brutal. There were some others I felt pretty bad for. But it’s all lighthearted fun and it’s in order to make each of our practices much better, 10x your business for the better, help your clients and provide massive value of course.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, absolutely. So, it’s a big part of it. And now, one of the things that came up with this too, when people are talking about goals was a fee raise and Cameron, you made some big changes in your practice this last year. So, not only did you have a decent fee increase, but you really increased the amount of value that you were providing to clients, right?
Cameron Valadez: Yeah, that’s correct. So, we actually have not done anything like this in a really long time and we actually never did anything to this extent. We’ve learned a lot from you guys and other successful advisors.
And so, we wanted to step our game up and help clients with a lot more, kind of teach them about some different issues that maybe they don’t know much about. A client doesn’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know to ask about certain estate planning questions, especially to their financial advisor, different things like that.
And so, we were basically jumping ahead of them and we were being proactive in bringing it up to them. And that’s just one example, but yeah, we definitely increased our fee structure because of the additional value that we’ve been adding.
And I always like to remind myself that cost is of course only an issue in the absence of value. So, as long as we’re providing more value, we felt very comfortable increasing our fees.
Micah Shilanski: Oh, amen. Now, this is something that we get so much head trash wrapped around or maybe you work different. But I remember kind of talking — and by the way, when I say what I remember we were talking about this beforehand, I don’t want to take away any of the hard work that you did, Cameron, because we can talk in concept about a fee raise, but you put in the work to show the value to clients as to why you are worth more.
Now, I want to get more into details on that, but real quick, when you do this fee raise, how many … I think one of the head trash things that we have as advisors is when I raise my fees, when I do this, all of a sudden, all my clients are going to fire me. I’m going to be homeless, I’m going to default on my house. My wife is going to divorce me and now I’m going to be living on the street in a cardboard box. And it happens about that fast. So, are you living on the street in a cardboard box?
Cameron Valadez: I am not. In fact, things are much better in a small period of time, was well worth it. And not only that, my clients are a heck of a lot happier and more comfortable, especially the timing of when we did this. It’s been March through May of 2022 and the markets haven’t been too kind to our clients.
And so, it’s a lot more valuable when you’re able to add other pieces of value that aren’t necessarily market-related to clients in times like this. So, it’s helped a lot; ourselves in the practice and as well as our clients.
Micah Shilanski: And how many clients did you lose because of your fee increase?
Cameron Valadez: Absolutely none.
Micah Shilanski: Say that one more time just to make sure we heard it. How many clients did you lose?
Cameron Valadez: Absolutely none. We lost zero clients.
Micah Shilanski: That’s amazing.
Cameron Valadez: In fact, we basically didn’t get a breath of pushback either. And I know that’s pretty shocking to most advisors and it makes a lot of us nervous and that was us included. But again, as long as you’re providing that extra value, your clients will see that value and realize how important you are to them and their family.
Micah Shilanski: So, you went through a fee increase, you went from 1% to 1.5% roughly on the first million. Is that correct?
Cameron Valadez: Yeah, that’s correct. We went to 1.5% on the first million and 1% over a million. And sometimes, we would negotiate with clients in the past, if they really pushed for it, but now, we have a pretty hard line. Everybody is paying the same thing.
Micah Shilanski: I love it. Now, in my experience, you can correct me if I’m wrong. Sometimes clients or prospects will push back a little bit.
I don’t take offense to that at all, personally, because I know when I’m on the other side, I push back and half the time I do it is for fun. I want to see if the price is soft. Then if the price is soft, it’s like blood in the water. Now, it’s a game to see how low it can go.
So, because you get that question or potential pushback, for me, that’s not a sign that they’re not a good client. It’s really a testament to me. Am I willing to hold to what I said I was going to do?
And this might seem like a minor thing, but the minute you don’t hold to what you said you were going to do, now, you’ve lost credibility. And now, what other advice are you throwing out to a client that you’re not actually holding to.
So, when you get to the point about not negotiating for fees, it’s more than just the dollar amount. It’s very much an integrity issue about how confident are you in what you’re doing, the value you providing, and should clients do what you said or not.
Cameron Valadez: Right, yeah. That’s absolutely right.
Micah Shilanski: Perfect. So, when we went through and we were pre-gaming this a little bit, you followed the process in order to do a fee increase and you did an amazing job, but you had said something interesting. How did this process start? What is the first thing that you did in order to implement, start going down the path to a fee raise?
Cameron Valadez: So, I guess the biggest piece of head trash that we had, and again, it was in fact confirmed head trash. At this point, I could tell you that, as well as my partner was hey, what kind of value are we going to add to clients and how are we going to do it before basically raising their fees and changing our service model.
And I know a lot of advisors have that head trash. They don’t think they’re providing any extra value or they think that they need to do it every day, every week, every month of the year. And so, they don’t really know how to approach that.
And the way that we decided to do it again with the help of some of the other advisors from The Perfect RIA was when we implement surge, which again, is another thing that was new for us, we want to set expectations.
So, well before surge, we created a letter and an email that we sent to clients multiple times to make sure that they were getting this information. And in that letter, we were basically explaining, hey, we are going to be implementing these strategy meetings at these times of the year.
And the reason we’re doing this is because XYZ, however, it helps the client best. It does help our practice, but first and foremost, it is for them. It’s a much more valuable time to provide the value.
So, for example, we did our first surge right after-tax season. And we did that so that taxes are fresh in everybody’s mind. They have tax returns, they’re available for us to review, the client’s already in a financial mindset.
Maybe after getting their taxes done, they realize they have a couple holes in their financial plan or something was missed — whatever the case is, it allowed us to address some of those things and strategize for the rest of the year and the upcoming years.
So, that’s part of what we explain in that letter. But not only that, we tell them what value we plan on bringing to the table in that meeting. So, of course, we let them know, “Come armed with your questions and concerns, that’s top of our list. We want to make sure that we’re answering your questions.”
Because we think we know what’s valuable to clients, but each client’s going to be different and they’re going to place something at the top of their list, as far as what’s valuable to them versus someone else.
So, answering their questions and concerns first and foremost is what you want to do. And then after that, the advisor can have their list of things that they want to go over. And so, that list of things, we also included in that letter.
So, what that allowed us to do is show the clients, hey, when you come in, basically whether you like it or not, we’re going to address these things as well. Because you may not think they matter to you, but they probably will. Because again, clients don’t know what they don’t know.
So, when we show them the value that’s coming, it’s an easier conversation at the end of your meeting. If you are going to explain to them your new service model and that this is how you’re going to work going forward. They will see the value at the end of that meeting.
Now, another thing that we did in that surge letter is we again set expectations for our second strategy meeting session or our second surge towards the end of the year. So, September/October-ish, we want to do it a little bit before the holidays, and we also want it towards the end of the year. So, we can look at things like potential Roth conversions, XYZ.
So, by telling them, hey, here’s what to expect in the next strategy session later this year, again you are telling them ahead of time, the value that you’re going to provide later on in the year. And of course, you actually have to do it and you have to stick to it.
But instead of us already having, for example, a quarterly value-add, ready to go every quarter, which would be nice, that’s great. That’s something we want to add for this year and next year. But in case you don’t have that already, this is one way where you can show the client, hey, you’re going to get value all year long. And so, it makes that conversation a heck of a lot easier when you meet with them.
Micah Shilanski: Cameron, I want to pull some things out that you said. I mean, that’s great stuff, phenomenal. You implemented surge, one of the things I want to pull out, and you said this a couple times to make sure our listeners hear it, is when you talked about — and I love that you call them strategy sessions.
Your strategy sessions with your clients, and you sent out that email and that letter, it was clear why that email is important, why that meeting’s important for people to come in. And I love that you placed it with a time effect that was going to be there as well. Whether it was year-end or whether it was around taxes, et cetera, to really encourage clients to come in.
Then you had said that says whether clients like it or not, you’re going to cover XYZ. Did any clients come in and say, “Hey, that other stuff’s a bunch of crap, I don’t want to talk about that whatsoever?”
Cameron Valadez: No, not at all. But what you’ll find and I’m sure a lot of people have experienced this. You get a client that will come meet with you and they don’t provide their tax return or information that you made it as easy as possible for them to provide you some of that information ahead of the meeting, but then they don’t and maybe they bring it into the meeting, maybe they don’t.
You will find that they’ll kind of push it to the wayside without saying hey, I don’t care about it. They’ll just kind of maybe not have that information ready, which is fine. But in that case, it’s even more important for you to bring it up again, to let them know that hey, this might be an important consideration or this is something I want to look at, here’s why.
Because again, a client isn’t always going to know what to ask you, especially if they’re comparing you to other types of advisors that really don’t dive into the different things that comprehensive financial planners do.
We cover a lot of different areas, taxes, estate planning, investments, all these things. Whereas their estate planning attorney, if they have one only goes over estate planning and their tax preparer usually only goes over taxes.
So, they don’t really know what they can ask us and what we can answer and how we can guide them. So, that’s why it’s important to make sure that you have some kind of structure in your surge meeting and other than answering their questions, you know what to bring up to them that’s going to provide them value.
Micah Shilanski: I think theme meetings are really good. Right now, of course, if a client has a 911, you push all that other stuff aside, and now, we can address that 911 issue to the client, but themes really help out in these client meetings.
We also let clients know in our meetings especially new clients when they come on, that we’re going hey, do the five steps in the financial planning process. Then after that, we’re going to plug you into our review process, which we go over everything every two years to make sure.
So, that gives me permission that if we just wrapped up their estate planning and we get done, but my value add for the next quarter is beneficiaries, and they’re seeing that again, they know why.
And one of the things I tell my clients all the time or new clients coming in, saying, “Look, we’re going to plug you into the same system because I know it works. And this is our process for success. And if we do a one-off thing, I’m not going to add value to your financial plan and I really got to make sure we get everything done correctly.” And nobody complains about that. Everybody loves it and they get it.
Cameron Valadez: Exactly, yeah.
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Cameron Valadez: And I think one more thing I wanted to touch on and add is after talking with some advisors and even at the INVICTUS Mastermind, was that we have this additional piece of head trash around what is value.
So, a lot of advisors, including myself at first tend to think that value has to be this tangible thing, especially when there’s practices like yours and Matthew Jarvis’ where you’re coming out with these quarterly value adds to clients and it might be some kind of report or something that is actually tangible that is very nice for the client.
Or it could be something that’s quantifiable. Like a Stan Morgan approach, where he is explaining and showing a client exactly in dollars and cents, how a certain decision may save them money or help them make money. And that is a quantifiable value add, which in my opinion is the best, but not all value adds are quantifiable. So, there are a lot of intangibles that you can implement that clients will still get value from.
For example, and we touched on it: estate planning. So, again bringing up estate planning, concepts if a client says, “Hey, XYZ happened.” Or “I just bought a property in another state” or whatever.
You can bring up certain things that are probably going to help better their lives or protect their assets, even though you’re not giving that legal advice. You’re giving them the ideas. And then you can tell them, hey, here’s who you can go to implement those ideas.
But again, that client may or may not have known to ask you those types of questions. So, it’s key to explain some of those things. For example, if you didn’t say anything, your client isn’t randomly going to know to, “Oh, I need to call an estate planning attorney’s office. And by the way, I just want to go there and pick their brain and learn a bunch of stuff and expect that they’re probably not going to bill me for their time.” No, probably not, it’s not how it’s worked.
Micah Shilanski: Nope. You’ll get double billed for sure.
Cameron Valadez: Yeah, exactly. So, but did they know that they could ask their financial advisor those types of questions, and that’s kind of included in their service model?
No, probably not. And that’s why you need to bring it up. Education is massive value, even if it is not tangible or quantifiable. So, don’t get stuck and have that head trust, thinking that you need to have all of these things ready in place that a client can see and touch.
Micah Shilanski: Cameron, that’s such a great point. We were on our RTS (Retirement Tax Services) webinar today. And one of the things that we were saying is we want our clients to know we are the 411 of their tax information, but more than that, just on the tax side, we’re the 411 of their financial information.
If something comes up on estate planning, they know who to call. They know what to do. I may not have the answer to every single question, but there’s one place they get to come to. And I love the thought you said. That right there is massive value. They don’t have to hunt around between a bunch of different people. They don’t have to interview new people to figure out who knows about their situation or not.
We have in depth knowledge of their situation, we’re one phone call away from getting them answers. That is massive value. Now, if you rest on that and you don’t do anything, you don’t have education, you don’t have value-adds, et cetera, I don’t know how long that value would last for you, but that is value to the clients. That’s a great point.
Cameron Valadez: And you’re right. Once you do something like that once whatever the topic is, estate planning, taxes, or something for a business owner — once you do that once, and the client knows that your knowledge or expertise or your repertoire goes beyond investments and things like that, then you’re more likely to get additional questions about other things.
And then you’re going to start identifying things that you didn’t even know about the client. And they’re going to know how to refer you better as well. Because they’re going to say, “Well, my advisor touches on all of these different things and I didn’t even know that they knew that.” And yeah, it’s going to give you a leg up.
Micah Shilanski: And remember the dishwasher rule; I want to get credit for the work that I’m doing even if it doesn’t a hundred percent apply to the client. So, if I have in-depth knowledge on trusts and how they work just to pick the estate planning next year, but this particular client doesn’t need a trust — if I don’t bring that up at any point in time in the conversation, then they don’t think I know about this.
Now, their life gets complicated, they need a trust. They may not realize I’m the 411 for that information. So, we got to make sure on our education, we’re talking broad about what we do, then directly coming into how that applies to the client, so we can get credit for this great knowledge that you have.
Cameron Valadez: We’re not just going to aimlessly throw out a bunch of blanket definitions about whatever we’re talking about, because it could be, as you said, completely irrelevant.
But we know when we hear something that’s related to tax or estate planning, and then we can dive in on that topic. And more often than not, we’re going to know ahead of time, whether or not that’s going to impact this client. And so, you’re just naturally going to be adding that value without even knowing it.
Micah Shilanski: I love it. Cameron, walk us through a little bit. So, you talked about some great things. You implemented surge with a letter, you explained how that was directly applicable to the client, I love it.
You talked about value-adds, tangible, quantifiable and intangible. I love that distinction between them. But walk us through a little bit of that meeting that you had, because you did all of your fee raises in person. So, the client came in, you chatted with them, et cetera. Then you raised your fee. Walk us through what that meeting looked like real quick.
Cameron Valadez: Yeah. So, basically, we start again with their agenda. We answer all of their questions. Now, this can kind of trip you up because you think that your agenda and the things that you want to talk about is going to add the most value to the client in that meeting.
But what always happens is they come in and their top concern is “Hey, I can’t log in online and see my accounts. I don’t know how to read that.” Or “Can you help me read my statement or this 10.99?” Or whatever the case is.
And to us, it’s something more basic. And so, we’re kind of thrown off guard, but answering those questions first, it is going to give the client peace of mind and make them more comfortable right away in that meeting. And once we’ve gone through and answered all of their questions and given them some tidbits on whatever they’ve thrown at us, then we can get into our agenda.
So, our agenda is always second and ours, we’re always reviewing their cash flow. So, their income and expenses, and if they are in retirement taking distributions, we’re going over things like guardrails and buckets.
We do not talk about specific investments at all. Even the investments that a client has, we don’t go into that. We discuss strategy because we all know that that’s the only thing we can control. We can’t control the investments. So, we don’t go down that road. We don’t even allow the client to go down that road.
So, if we’re talking about buckets, we’re not just talking about it. There’s either a whiteboard or we’re writing it down or we’re drawing it on some sort of tablet or device and we’re showing them and breaking it down in layman’s terms. We like to get caught up in our own financial jargon. You just can’t do that in a client meeting, or you’re going to confuse them.
And then we’re going over their taxes. Hopefully, ahead of the meeting, we’ve seen them and we can go over it, but if not, and they bring it into the meeting, we’re actually not going to spend a lot of time really going through the taxes in the meeting because of course, that might take a little while.
So, we’ll just let them know hey, you know what, we’re going to review this and we’re going to follow up with you. If we find any opportunities or anything we see wrong, we’ll follow up with you in a week or two, our team will.
So, the taxes, it just kind of depends on what the client came in with. And then we can confirm beneficiaries in that meeting. And then on top of confirming beneficiaries, we’re going to go over things like per stirpes or per capita, and who their contingent beneficiaries are, and do they have kids?
So, we dive a little bit deeper than just, okay, who’s the primary beneficiaries on your account. And once the client gets that extra education on some of those other pieces, they go, “Oh my gosh, I never knew that, and in that case, yeah, I do want to change a couple things.” And so, we end up working through that. And then-
Micah Shilanski: Which is massive value, right?
Cameron Valadez: Correct.
Micah Shilanski: You pointed out a huge potential error on their beneficiary that someone’s going to get disinherited. Someone’s going to get too much money, whatever that is. And then you fix that. That’s huge.
Cameron Valadez: And at first, we advisors, we don’t think that’s huge, but to a client, it is. And then after that, again, before we get to the end of the meeting, we always want to set the expectations for the rest of the year, whether that has to do with their investment strategies or any other strategies that we might implement. And our next meetings and our communication for the rest of the year, what is that going to look like?
So, we’re teeing them up for the next strategy session. But we’re not just telling them about it, we’re telling them what we’re going to go over in the next strategy session.
Micah Shilanski: Love it.
Cameron Valadez: So, are they thinking that we’re going to go over their tax return again in September/October and go over their beneficiaries again a few months later? No, we have different topics that we’re going to go over. So, they know. “Oh, okay. You know what, I was actually going to ask you a question about that, but I guess you said it’s better to go over that towards the end of the year.”
Like a Roth conversion is a good example. We wait towards the end of the year for the most part because we want to have a better idea of what their income is closer to the end of the year, so we know what room we have to play with.
So, we’re going to say, hey, Roth conversions? Yeah, we take care of those towards the end of the year. That’s a big topic in our next meeting. And the client says, “Great, I was going to ask you about that, but now, we’ll focus on that next meeting.” And so, your value is now spread out throughout the year and you’re giving that value year-round.
Then when you’re done with that, that’s when we’re going into if a client does need a fee raise to meet our new service model, then that is when we are presenting them with that. And as I said, you will likely get little to no pushback and probably not lose all the clients you think you’re going to lose.
Because not only that, but if a client really did have an issue with your fee and they wanted to leave, after you’ve just presented to them what you did throughout that strategy meeting, they’re also going to have to second guess, “Well, if I leave my advisor and go somewhere else, I’m going to have to find someone that does all of this.”
And we all know it’s pretty hard to find advisors or know from looking at their website or something like that, whether or not they do these kinds of things. So, what’s really happening is your client is getting a lot of trust in you rightfully so, as long as you’re providing that value and they’re going to want to stay with you and they’re going to pay what your fee is, because they’re going to realize how valuable you are to them and their family.
Micah Shilanski: Cameron, you just nailed it right there. Do not get in your client’s pocket. Your job is to deliver massive value.
Now, in addition to delivering massive value, guess what? That means you need to join masterminds. That means you need to go to conferences. That means you need to constantly be upping your game, and guess what? That cost money.
This is one of the many reasons we do a fee increase, is in order to be a better advisor, I got to up that PD budget to make sure I’m on the cutting edge. Well, great. If I’m getting paid to deliver the value that I’m delivering, outstanding. Now, I can keep upping my game consistently.
So, don’t let your head trash get in the way. Cameron, followed the process. He went through it, he put in the hard work. Just to say, we outline this in three or four steps, it’s not that easy. One getting over the head trash, I would say, is the biggest part of this step.
But then it’s going through and doing these things and delivering the value that you committed to with clients, which is totally doable.
Cameron Valadez: Right. And another thing is setting expectation of how they can communicate with you and your team throughout the rest of the year, when you’re not in strategy meetings. Because we all know that we are going to need to communicate with clients and get things done throughout the year.
So, always setting the expectation of what that will look like and how that will work is also really important. And the clients are not going to have a problem with that. That’s how most of the other professionals in their life work; their doctors, tax preparers, you name it. We are no different. We treat ourselves different but we don’t need to be.
Micah Shilanski: Yep. In a good way. So, Cameron, this podcast is all about action items. So, let’s transition to a little bit of action items which are going to be there.
And the first one I’m going to say is you had mentioned taxes. And if you don’t have a very strong tax background, especially if you’re a backstage passer, INVICTUS member, jump on our website, get our 37-point checklist on how to review a tax return. That right there can offer massive value to clients.
Cameron Valadez: Yeah, absolutely. And I can definitely attest to that. A lot of the information, the documents and everything that The Perfect RIA team provides in the backstage pass INVICTUS is well worth it.
Micah Shilanski: Well, that was worth me doing the podcast right there. Thank you so much.
Cameron Valadez: You got it. No, absolutely. I’ve got to say that that The Perfect RIA has definitely changed our practice for the better, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Micah Shilanski: Oh, Cameron, that’s going to be awesome. So, do that checklist, review your fee schedule, really, really important. And you got to have a plan to delivering massive value.
Selfish plug, yes, I’m going to say The Perfect RIA is the best way to do this because we have that roadmap already outlined for you that you got to follow. You still got to put in the work.
But if you want to do something else, go for it. But you must be committed to consistently delivering massive value. Cameron, if advisors want to follow you, where can they get more information, where are you at?
Cameron Valadez: Yeah. So, the easiest place to find us is planablewealth.com. Again, that’s planablewealth.com, and I will have a new podcast launching pretty soon: Retired-ish.
Micah Shilanski: Retired-ish, I love that. That’s good stuff. So, jump on iTunes, give us five stars. Jump on Cameron’s podcast. Listen to that, get some great ideas from him. Give him five stars, help him grow his practice because the more information we share, the more we can help everyone build, everyone wins, especially our clients.
Until next time, happy planning.
Cameron Valadez: Happy planning.
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