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Micah Shilanski: Welcome back to another amazing episode of The Perfect RIA Podcast. I’m your co-host and co-founder Micah Shilanski, and with me as usual, the legendary Matthew Jarvis. Jarvis, what’s going on, bud?
Mathew Jarvis: Yeah, Micah, I’m loving it. I was thinking as you’re doing the introduction to The Perfect RIA Podcast, that someone was trying to call us out, troll us, which is always fun, about being a little too arrogant, if you will. We call it confidence, he was calling it arrogance.
And so, I was just trying to think of like other titles, like we could have done like the Mediocre RIA or like the Wannabe RIA Podcast. I’m just trying to think of like other terms that would instill confidence in our listeners, in our fellow advisors.
Micah Shilanski: This should be something we should step back on though just a little bit. And this is something I need to be very cognizant of, is when I am (I hate using these stupid social woke terms but I am going to) triggered about this event that’s going to be there, it’s like, whoa, why is that there?
Look at the content that we’re here. Jarvis and I are not even close to saying we’re perfect in these practices. In fact, I got a whole series that we’re posting on social that I’m very clear and transparent this year, of mistakes that our team has made and how we’re going to correct them.
But this is the path to perfection, is perfect practice. And if we’re not willing to say, “Hey, I want this ideal, I got this big goal, I want to deliver this massive value, and sure I’m going to trip along the way, but I’m still keeping my eyes up on this bigger goal,” then what type of practice are you running, crap in the ground?
I mean, be very serious about this. If your head trash is focused around that, boy, how are you delivering any value to your clients?
Mathew Jarvis: Yeah, and the language — I mean, we’re going to talk about surge meetings today, but the language we use is incredibly powerful. I talk to advisor and say, “Oh, my practice is at capacity.” I would never say that. I might say, “Hey, some of my systems are straining, there are places I need to make improvements on.”
But once you start constraining your thinking, like, “Hey, I just want to have an average practice,” I’m not interested in that discussion. I’m saying, I want to aspiration, I want to have the perfect RIA. I will never get there. Perfection’s not necessarily achievable, but I’m aiming for that. Like alright, how do I make my surge meetings better? How do I make my value ads better? How do I deliver more value to clients? It’s a journey that’s constantly going.
Micah Shilanski: And Jarvis, okay, this is where my ego’s going to come in here. But that’s why I’m going to say we are constantly on the cutting edge of delivering value to clients in a usable format, not in a 5,000-page plan. I get that. We don’t do that.
But in an actual usable format, we are on the cutting-edge of this with clients as seen by people saying, “Crap, how do I do this” and you’re seeing the industry catch up this way, which is fantastic. That’s what we want to see. We want to see more advisors using these systems to deliver more values.
But the only way that we get there is by recognizing we want to move to that perfect, by stumbling along the way, by figuring it out, and now, it’s by sharing about what’s worked and what’s not worked. And one of those keys is surge meetings.
Mathew Jarvis: Yeah, it really is. And to have built such a community or such a community form, it’s so fun when we meet with advisors and like tell me how you do surge meetings. What are your dates for surge meeting? What’s your schedule throughout the day? How long are they?
So, Micah, let’s dive into those. We’ve talked a lot about surge. We’ve done webinars on it. We’ve done endless podcasts on it. Today, we want to talk about some of the mistakes that people are making around surge, please.
Micah Shilanski: Alright. First, I got to ask a little bit of question here and I’m going to pose it to you so you don’t pose it to me because there’s a lot of rumors going around on the internet, but Jarvis, who created surge meetings?
Mathew Jarvis: Well, time blocking was invented by God himself in the Bible, Genesis chapter 1. It’s the entire earth. He’s like I don’t need a billion years. How about five days plus a day of rest, six days.
But to put the rumors aside, Micah, I had never called a surge meeting prior to meeting you. I would always just call it our client meeting. We just call it client meeting blocks. And then you called it surge meetings when we met back in 2017 and I immediately adapted it and so, as the rest of the industry, if you hadn’t noticed.
Micah Shilanski: Well, and I wasn’t saying that from the pure egoistical side. Maybe a little bit from there. But this one part that’s out there, it’s okay to learn and adopt things from other advisors and kind of take them on.
This is the key that we have to do. And we talked about boy, you had Michael Henley on one of your recent podcasts. And that he was going through a lot. I have learned a lot from him, important things. I give him credit where I learn these things like his Roth conversion strategies, absolutely fantastic.
Mathew Jarvis: Yeah, really. So, let’s look at now that the whole industry is talking about surge meetings, and especially when people who have never actually done surge meetings are talking about it, this is where we get scary.
Micah, you and I do a fair amount of shooting and there are very important safety rules you have to follow from shooting and someone who hasn’t actually done shooting could cause serious bodily harm, if not death, by not having actually experienced these things.
So, we want to talk about a couple of mistakes we see advisors make when they’re learning about surge meetings from people who have never done surge meetings. Which is mistake, number one; never learn from people that haven’t actually done it.
Micah Shilanski: Now, to give credit, this advice while it was something I kind of knew in the back of my head, really was ironed home by Jocko in Extreme Ownership. Because one of the things he talks about in Extreme Ownership, when he made the decision to become a seal, he quit taking advice from anyone that wasn’t a seal. Because all of a sudden, they had theoretical information versus real seals had real information that’s there.
And to the novice, to the outside, like if I was going to give advice to someone on seal training, which if I do, please call me out on this, because I am not. If I was going to do this, I really wouldn’t know the difference between the two. I have my own theories and my own conceptions, but I am way out of my league to give any advice on that training whatsoever.
You jump in the realm of financial planning, ooh, alright, this is my bailiwick. I got a lot of experience in a limited scope of this financial planning that I do. But I had a lot of experience inside of this to give advice.
So, be very careful because as Jarvis, as you said, you can get these ideas from people and then you run and start implementing them, and you run into a brick wall because it just doesn’t work that way in reality.
Mathew Jarvis: Micah, I think a commonplace this shows up, a common mistake when doing surge, really anything, we’re going to keep this towards surge, is comparing yourself to another advisor versus aspiring to be another advisor.
So, Micah, you and I talk to advisors and they say, “Oh, I’m doing surge, but I can only do three meetings a day. I’m such a failure. Micah is doing six or seven a day.” What we’re always looking for is progress. If you previously were doing one or two meetings a day here and there, wherever, and you’ve time-blocked out Fridays and Mondays, that’s progress.
For example, Micah, I think when you and I first met, I was doing four meetings a day. I’ve moved them up to five or six. I just don’t know that I’ve got the stamina to get to eight. So, if I’m measuring myself based on Micah’s success in surge, I’m going to say, I’m never going to get there or I don’t know how to get there yet, but we’re looking to make progress.
So, find advisors who are doing what it is you want to do. How do I get closer to that goal? Maybe I’ll get there, maybe I’ll beat them, but I can’t judge success or failure based on somebody else.
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, and you bring up a good point. This is I think in the book Gap and the Gain, that’s really talking about this concept that’s there. And so often, and I am really guilty of this, I only focus on the gap.
It doesn’t matter how far I’ve come, I focus to I’m not perfect yet and this is where I missed it, et cetera, versus looking backwards and saying, you know what? I got to give some credit to my team because we’ve made a ton of progress to do this.
And if I’m solely focused on that gap and that failure and that not achieving that next step, what type of message am I talking to my team? How does that affect my own personal emotions? How does that affect my family emotions, et cetera. I know we’re talking about surge, but these things are pretty well-connected.
So, we got to be focused on that ideal life for you. And Jarvis, I’d say this is the other mistake, if I could piggyback on this.
Mathew Jarvis: Please.
Micah Shilanski: So many times advisors focus on again, copying somebody else’s practice, but not copying the why. And I got this a lot from Joe Lucas.
Mathew Jarvis: Oh yeah.
Micah Shilanski: But of just saying, you know what, Coach Joe, that’s right — that why is so important. Now, I went to seven to eight meetings a day because I was solving for something completely different than what Jarvis was solving for. So, it made no sense for him to copy my entire meeting setup that was there because Jarvis, you were solving for what you were solving for.
It was a different solve that was there. And this is the most important part about surge. When we build out that initial wall calendar and we say, “Great, how much time do I actually need in order to do this,” we got to be hyper intentional; what are you solving for? And you’re not solving for surge. That’s the hint, you’re solving for ideal lifestyle.
Mathew Jarvis: Micah, I love that. Another mistake that comes up is not anticipating the burden on yourself, on your family, on your team of doing surge. The weeks of surge are very difficult, they’re very intense.
And so, a common mistake is to not appropriately prep your team, your family, yourself, your physical, you just have enough iron shirts lined up. So, you’ve got to come into that ready on all of those fronts.
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, if I pick on you just a little bit, I remember Jamie was doing a surge debrief one time with the office and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, you’re actually talking about laundry with your team? This is so ridiculous.”
But it’s things that you and I sometimes will take for granted but when we’re sharing this with our teams, you know what, they think differently, which thank God they do, because we need the way that they think just like they need the way that we think.
But we got to share these little things out there and they have to share it with their family. And we really need an all hands-on deck understanding of this. When I’m doing this in my own household, it’s okay, great. We’re not hosting parties and events, we’re in bed in the house by 9:00 o’clock. And this affects my lifestyle. My wife is a night owl, she likes to be out late.
And I’m like so sorry, during this period in time, we have a lot of months where you can do that — in this period in time, we got to rein this in. We got to look at kids’ activities that they’re doing in this side and say, “Great, how is this going to affect things, et cetera.” And you could say, Micah, you’re being dramatic about this. Okay, sure, to a point, but what am I solving for?
In this period in time, this four to six-week period in time in which I have my surge, I need to be in peak performance. I need 100% my A game so I can show up every single day to every single meeting to meet with 200 households and to knock it out of the park, and I need the stamina in order to do that.
And so, I got to back into this. Great, it means I can’t drink so much, that means there’s no cigars, that means I’m in bed by 9:00. These are realistic things I got to put in place.
Mathew Jarvis: Oh totally. And you mentioned drinking less. So, when I’m doing surge, I’m like, alright, I don’t drink when I’m in surge. Maybe I shouldn’t do it all ever, but it’s like I need that, I need to-
Micah Shilanski: Ooh, ooh, I’m a good Catholic. There’s some things we can’t cross, alright.
Mathew Jarvis: But you got to make sure that your physical health is … I mean, surge is a disaster if you get sick in the middle of surge, and that can happen and it’s a disaster. And so again, I’m like what’s everything I can do to make sure this goes off as smoothly as possible.
Micah, how about for people that are new to surge? So, they’ve heard us talk about a lot of times — thoughts on how do you present this to your team, how do you present this to your family? Because it can really just occur like, hey, you’re doing this thing and I don’t see the benefit. It sounds like just a giant headache to me.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, it absolutely can. So, the first thing you have to do when we’re starting to look at this is again, and we teach a surge class that goes through, and actually Ben Brandt has a phenomenal surge class. And so, you have to set it up with yourself first. What are you solving for?
Then I bring my wife into this and say, “Great, what are we solving for together as a team?” Then I bring my team into this as well. That’s my order of operations when I’m designing surge to kind of one step at a time. If I try to bring in everyone in at once and I haven’t crystallized what I’m going for, that can be a disaster.
So, number one, I’m starting with, okay, what am I solving for? Then I want to go to my wife and my kids and say, okay, great, hey, we have an opportunity here. The opportunity is I can choose to continue to work, like most people do, 8:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, 50 weeks a year, and I can see you for a couple hours in the evenings, we can take one to two weeks of vacation a year. That’s option A.
Option B, I can have a couple of months a year when I need hyper-focused time in the office. But then that means I have six to eight months out of the year where we have tremendous flexibility. We can travel the world. We can go do amazing things, I can be more present as a father, et cetera. But the tradeoff is I got to have a little bit more focused time for this four to six months out of the year.
And we talk about what those are like. But I want to bring the family in this. Now, my kids are young, they don’t get a veto vote, but I still need them on board with this, so we’re still going to have these family discussions.
Mathew Jarvis: Well, I like that. Another mistake that I see advisors making — and by advisors, I mean, this guy, me, is not giving your team enough buffer on the sides of surge, be it a mini surge for a week or main surge. They need at least the week before surge and the week after surge to not have anything else on there.
I’m really tempted to see like, oh, surge gets over on Friday, on Monday, let’s update the CRM records. So, you’ve got to have a buffer on there even for a mini-surge. We do our mini surge on a Tuesday, Thursday now, and I make sure that I don’t plan anything else for the team the rest of that week. And they need that kind of buffer.
And by the way, you and I might need that buffer too at different levels, but you’ve got to give the team and say, “Hey, listen, we’re going to do meetings one week a month during our mini-surge. Great news, the other three weeks of the month, we’re not going to have any meetings in the office.” So, that way, you have that time to work on all these other projects.
Micah Shilanski: And it’s really important to outline what those projects are. This is not the team works one week a month and then take three weeks off. No, that’s not what this is.
Mathew Jarvis: No.
Micah Shilanski: So, we have to outline this for success. Now, Jarvis, we’ve gotten to the practice where our team has done surge so many times. I have our leads, our RM lead and our ops lead tell me how much time they need-
Mathew Jarvis: Interesting.
Micah Shilanski: In order to be pre and post-surge. So, ops doesn’t need as long pre-surge, but they need more post-surge time afterwards because we’ve generated all the paperwork. There’s a lot of outbound stuff. Now, they’re waiting on those things back.
The RMs are completely different. They want two and a half weeks pre-surge to get ready for everything because they got to print off reports, they got to get things ready, they got to do confirmation calls. There’s a lot of stuff they have to get in the process. And then they only need kind of a week, three or four days on the backend, post-surge versus its opposite.
So, now, they block out on the calendar when they need pre-surge time and post-surge time. So, then I … and it has to go on my calendar because it’s not my calendar. I’m not going to see. It’s just the way this works.
But then I can now look at the calendar and before I go, “Hey, I’m going to start assigning these 50 million things,” I say, “Oh wait. Ops is still in post-surge, okay. That means I got to give them time to get their stuff done.”
And Jarvis, this is a mistake that I’ve made time and time again. But I start assessing what I think my timeline should be to them, and there has to be a little bit more give and take. My ops person is fantastic. Chanelle’s been doing it for 20 plus years. And if she says she takes two weeks to do post-surge, but I don’t think it should take a week, is it really worth pushing that or just giving her the time to get it done?
Mathew Jarvis: Yeah, yeah boy, and we can go do a whole thing on practice management. If when you have a team member — and we deal with this; say boy, “I think that’s taking longer than it needs to.” Me telling them it should take less time, that’s not helping the scenario.
Micah Shilanski: No.
Mathew Jarvis: If I want to sit down and like, “Hey, let’s look at this together. Can we take this from five steps to four steps?” That’s a different discussion, but me just saying, “Hey, that should take half the time” doesn’t help. Go ahead, Micah.
Micah Shilanski: I was going to say, I was going to throw one more mistake in here that I think happens.
Mathew Jarvis: Yeah, please.
Micah Shilanski: By it happens, I have done it multiple times and now, we write it on our whiteboard in our office, “nothing new in surge.” We don’t create a new report, we don’t create a new value-add. We don’t create a new process. We don’t break a system and start using a new process.
We could be going through the middle of a tax update and says, “Oh my gosh, we should be putting the accountant’s EIN number inside of here because this would be an amazing thing.” The answer is no, nothing new in surge. It goes on our whiteboard. We got a space for it to live and we start writing down all these ideas that we want to do for our next surge.
And that’s where those ideas live. And we have a scheduled post-surge meeting after surge to debrief about all the stuff that went right, all the stuff that we need to improve for next time, and to go through the ideas and say, “Great, what do we want to implement as a project?”
But in the middle of surge, man, you’re at high speed. You throw in there a new process or a new thing, you start blowing things up.
Mathew Jarvis: Totally, totally. Micah, two thoughts on that; one, we actually do our surge debrief meeting the last week of surge while we’re still in the middle of it. Because what would happen is after surge got over, I would get sort of like romantic, like, “Oh that was a piece of cake. We should actually do 20 meetings a day.”
So, we block it in the day before surge gets over. The other, to, comment about nothing new, for me, this applies to paperwork or one-off request. I cannot have a client coming in and say, “Hey team, could you really quick do this extra report? Could you do up this paperwork?”
Surge follows a process, and if there’s something that a client needs that’s outside that process, that gets taken care of outside of surge: “Mr. and Mrs. Client, we’d love to set up that Roth account for you. Guess what? Colleen’s going to follow up with you in two weeks. She’s going to get that process started. Is that okay with you?”
And I’m writing it down during the meeting where I’m saying “Colleen, new Roth account, blah, blah, blah, blah.” I’m not walking out saying, “You know what, let me just go ask Colleen real quick and she’ll make up that paperwork real quick and we’ll take it right here.” Never.
Micah Shilanski: Such a disaster.
Mathew Jarvis: I’ve made that mistake so many times. Never do that during meetings.
Jamie: Hey podcast listeners, this is Jamie Shilanski and I’m here to tell you that your goals aren’t good enough. Because if you have a goal, I don’t care written on a notepad, taped to your monitor, stuck up on the wall, somewhere in your office, it’s not going to get you to achieve any type of results that you’re looking for. Goals without plans are plans to fail.
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Micah Shilanski: And Jarvis, I think one of the things that works out, and I know you do this in your office, is we set going into surge, what is an acceptable time for the team to follow up with the clients.
Mathew Jarvis: Yes.
Micah Shilanski: And so, what we set is the next, the following Wednesday. Doesn’t matter if the appointment’s on Monday or Friday, I don’t want to say seven days from now because that’s unfortunately too complicated for me. So, it’s next Wednesday is when this is going to be done.
So, now, when I’m meeting with a client, I can say, “Great, the following Wednesday is when this is going to take place and get done. Is that okay with you?” And they can tell me yes or no. And if it’s no, great, we can work on that. And then on a weekly basis, I’m checking in with my ops team and saying, “Hey, can we still hold true to that deadline?”
Because also, if I’m creating a ton of work for them, let’s say all of a sudden, we’re doing these massive Roth conversions, because I got this whim a week before surge to do these massive Roth conversions and it’s taking place, now, all of a sudden, it may take a little bit longer for the ops team and I need to respect that and set great client expectations.
Maybe I need to move that general date to make sure we’re allowing our team to get things done like rock stars and setting them up for success. Because I don’t want them calling a client on a Thursday when I said it was going to be done on a Wednesday and now, they’re like, “Well, how come you didn’t get it done on time?”
And you’ve lost so much credibility, and I’ve put my team as the shield between me because now, I’ve sent them out to have this phone call when a task is … sorry, getting all preachy on this.
Mathew Jarvis: Totally.
Micah Shilanski: But you really got to be careful there.
Mathew Jarvis: Yeah, I like that, Micah. And it’s certainly more important that it’s delivered when it was promised than it was delivered in five days. And I think this goes to another mistake of how many things do you think have to be a certain way and it’s really just in your mind? Like well, we have to respond to clients … it has to be done two days after the meeting. Well, why?
Micah Shilanski: Why?
Mathew Jarvis: It doesn’t have to be. If you told them two days, it does if you left it open ended. But if you say, “Hey, is it okay if we take care of that by next Friday?” And they say, “Yeah, that’s fine, I just want to make sure it’s taken care of” then you’re good.
Micah, I think this goes to another one, which is length of meetings. How often we talk to advisors who say, “Well, I can’t do surge because my meetings are an hour and a half, they’re two hours, they’re three hours.” Oh!
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, that’s the first thing, and they say I can only do two meetings a day in surge. It’s like, okay, well, let’s hit the pause button. How come we can only do two meetings a day in surge? Well, they’re three hours a piece. It’s like, oh my gosh, you go to lunch and have a coffee break and a massage in the middle of these things? But we get talking-
Mathew Jarvis: I don’t have any tea actually.
Micah Shilanski: Actually, now, that I’m saying it, I was like, it’s actually going to be a great meeting. My surge is now 6 to 12 months long.
Alright, but we got to look at this and you got to really say, “Where am I delivering massive value at?”
Now my thought process, because again, I was at the two-hour meeting, then I got to an hour and a half, and then I went down to an hour. So, if I rewind the clock years and years ago, and this is even before surge, I solidly believed Jarvis, I needed two hours in meetings. And that was only because of my head trash. Had nothing to do with the value in which I was delivering to clients.
Once I spin that around and say, no, no, no, not what’s best for me, what’s best for my client, I started paying attention and saying, you know what, after an hour, they are not paying attention. I got glossy eyes, they’re not there, they’re not engaged. There’s nothing I’m saying after an hour that they’re retaining.
Mathew Jarvis: Yeah, this goes into so many things. It goes into Parkinson’s Law, it goes into forcing mechanisms, you know what-
Micah Shilanski: Oh, great points.
Mathew Jarvis: Here’s an advisor that’s having a two-hour meeting, are they really communicating any more value in that two hours, or because they had two hours just waxing eloquent about it, they could have communicated in seven minutes; but I’ve got two hours, so let me talk on and on about this thing.
So, we’ve got to be as tight and concise. And by the way, this is a whole episode in itself, Micah. Lead with, “Hey, you need to do a $30,000 Roth conversion, any questions?” Don’t lead with a three-hour explanation on Roth conversion. Like “Hey, I recommend we do a 30k Roth conversion. Any questions? No questions? Cool, we’ll do it.” Or, “Oh you do have questions? Cool.”
Let’s go one layer at a time at the client’s request to deeper levels. Don’t launch into this tirade because you think it’s what they need to hear.
Micah Shilanski: You know what Jarvis, and one of the things I love doing with clients — I start off with prospects. I explain from the get go how I explain things. So, they always know what to expect.
I don’t want to throw them any unexpected surprises and says, “Look, the way I’m going to explain things, I’m always going to start at a 30,000-foot view. Let’s make sure we’re on the same page, then we can get more into detail. So, I’m always going to start here and if we’re on the same page, we get it, we understand you want to move forward, perfect. We’ll move on to the next thing. But if you need more detail, we can get into as much detail as you need as long as first, we’re agreeing at a 30,000-foot view.”
And then clients feel completely empowered because they know they can get into as much detail as they want, and that means they don’t need as much detail as they want, because they know it’s available to them.
And when they have that opportunity, they’re like, “You know what, I want to go a little bit further. So, on that Roth conversion, hey great. I think you …” And I always like ranges by the way. So, I’m like “I think you need between a 25 and $30,000 Roth conversion.”
And most of the time they’re like, “Okay, totally makes sense.” Or if they say, “You know what, let’s talk a little bit more about that, great.” We’ll start going in that one tier at a time, but I’m not going to jump down into the nuts behind in detail as to how I came up with that. I’m going to go one layer at a time and as soon it’s a yes, I got it. Boom, I’m moving on to the next topic.
Mathew Jarvis: Yeah, Micah, another mistake that comes up is — and I’m going to be careful how to articulate this one because people misconstrue this one all the time. Another mistake is thinking that every single client meeting has to be this 100% unique experience.
Now, and the reason I want to be careful here is because we’re not talking about boiler plate advice. We’re not talking about everybody gets the exact same thing. But what we’re talking about is anything that can be streamlined, let’s streamline. So, if our focus during fall surge is beneficiary review, good, then I’m going to be prepared to talk about beneficiaries with every client.
Now, I’m also going to look at my notes from the last meeting. I’m going to look at action items, I’m going to look at outstanding things in their life. We’re going to talk about, “Hey, what’s going on in your life?”
But I’ve got the same general focus with all of my clients. We’re going to use the same handout, the same economic update. We’re going to look at the same report, the same guardrails. We’re going to do the same beneficiary review with everybody.
But of course, we’ll pivot whenever we need. But don’t think that you got to … I’ve got to create this masterpiece from scratch every single time. That’s just not reality.
Micah Shilanski: And think about it, it’s like the movie career, Hollywood, for example. Do they create a custom movie for every single person?
Mathew Jarvis: No.
Micah Shilanski: No. Like not even close. I mean their goal is for mass adoption and people love it. They’ll go to the movie theaters and spend 75, a hundred dollars pretty easily just to see a movie and they’re elated for that.
But what they’re going for is value to them in the entertainment and that’s all we need to be focused on, on our end, is what’s the value to the client. And man, my clients love consistency.
And Jarvis, I don’t know about you but if I go through this process and I know exactly how my next seven meetings that day are going to run and I’m prepared for them, one to the next, all I’m doing is getting better every single meeting.
Because I know the client’s questions, I know their objections, I know how to present this. I can read their body language and feedback. And if every meeting I was going to present something different, I’d be so focused on what I’m presenting, I wouldn’t be paying any attention to my client.
But because I practice — before surge, by the way, I practice how I’m going to do my meetings (it’s a whole other podcast we could go through) — but I practice exactly how my meeting’s going to be, I know what the paperwork is; I can now listen, I can now understand. I can now read my client’s body language and understand what they’re saying because I’m not worried about what’s coming next.
Mathew Jarvis: Yeah, boy Micah, this is not a mistake, but it’s as weird … and we’re going to do a whole webinar on fall surge meeting for all of our backstage pass and Invictus members. But one of the things that we’re going to do with all of our clients in fall surge is update their social security withholding.
So, we’re going to have ready and we’re going to talk about the surge meeting — we’re going to have ready the social security tax withholding form, discuss with them where they’re at right now, because we get that off of the 8821. If you don’t have 8821, join Retirement Tax Services.
And we’re looking and saying, “Hey, with the inflation increase, social security bumped up, the tax brackets have not bumped up. You’re going to have some issues with taxes. Let’s adjust your withholding.”
That’s going to be a discussion point with every single client. Even our clients that aren’t taking social security, we’re going to remind them, “Hey, just as a reminder, when you go to take social security, we’re going to work with you on the tax withholding. That’s why you work with us. So, I’m going to have that same discussion-
Micah Shilanski: Dishwasher rule. Love it.
Mathew Jarvis: Every single meeting the whole time, yeah.
Micah Shilanski: And let me just ask this question; do you think that adds value to your client’s situation, even though you’ve had that discussion 78 other times, the last two weeks?
Mathew Jarvis: A hundred percent. It’s a hundred percent valuable. And what we’ve discovered, Micah (this is a whole podcast we should do) very few of our clients are having taxes withheld from their social security because when you apply from social security, they don’t go through that step. There’s a separate form that everybody forgets about.
And so, there’s all these logistics reasons why we’re going to do that. That’s a whole episode on itself, but that’s, as I’m working on my agenda for fall surge, that’s one of the agenda items. And so, Colleen’s going to have ready that form prefilled for every single client as I go into that meeting.
Micah Shilanski: And Jarvis, one of the things that in your processes — so if you know this, in our process when clients turn on their social security, we have a follow-up communication with them to make sure they sent in this form for additional tax withholdings. And then there’s a follow-up with them to make sure their social security went down because that’s what should happen.
If you’re getting a thousand bucks a month without taxes, then I get taxes withheld, it should be less. And we’re always going to be following up with that with clients, and clients love it by the way, because we say, look, we don’t want you to have an unexpected tax built the end of the year and social security is setting you up for that.
I want to make sure you’re protected. Here’s how we’re going to make sure you’re protected. Is it okay if our office follows up with you to make sure social security did this? Who says no to that?
Mathew Jarvis: Especially since you have to mail the form to your local office, that’s a great revival system.
Micah Shilanski: So ridiculous.
Mathew Jarvis: There’s no way for that to go wrong.
Micah Shilanski: And I set the whole (and I know you do the same thing) — I set the whole stage with that. I said, look, it’s not going to go through the first time. We’re at least going to have to do it twice. I’m not shocked if we have to do it three times. Whether you want to blame the post service, whether you want to blame the whatever, here’s what I know; it doesn’t always go through.
Mathew Jarvis: Micah, this is … I want to bring up this from beginning of our episode; this is a classic example of why you want to learn from people that are actually doing it because on the surface, like anybody could tell you, “Hey, update your client, social security withholdings.” No one’s going to tell you, “Hey, listen, you have to mail it to the local office and they’ll probably lose it.”
And so, you should tell your clients it might take two or three times to set that expectation. You ought to follow up with them to make sure it works. There’s all these little steps that you don’t know unless you’re in there doing it.
Micah Shilanski: Now, some really positive things, if you don’t know how much social security withhold, boy, make sure you attend our future webinar. I’m going to leave it as a cliff hanger because there’s a problem with not knowing the correct amount. And if you think it’s as simple as looking at their tax bracket, that is a planning mistake, my friend. So, there is an ideal or correct amount you should be withholding from social security for almost every single client.
Mathew Jarvis: Oh yeah. And there’s a whole behavioral aspect behind this thing as well.
Micah Shilanski: Oh, it’s huge.
Mathew Jarvis: And then you’ve got to prep them for like why are these weird four options, 7, 12, whatever, 22, why does that exist? There’s this whole thing that goes behind this. Again, it’s what separates good advisors, great advisors from really exceptional advisors. There’s so much in there.
Micah Shilanski: I love it, Jarvis. Hey, I want to go to another mistake that I hear all the time about surge meetings. Well, I shouldn’t say all the time, it’s actually getting less and less as more people adopt surge, which is fan-freaking-tastic.
One of the things that I hear is saying “Micah, surge isn’t going to work because my clients don’t want to wait six months to see me. My clients don’t want to wait three months to see me. They want to come in and see me whenever they call me,” because guess what? That’s what you’ve trained your clients to do. That’s exactly what’s happened.
When your client needs you, they call, they come in the next day for an appointment. This also shows you’re not busy. You have no other clients and nothing else to do to respond to their calls. This is not positive. You need to change that dynamic in that relationship.
But here’s what I’m going to tell you, all of my clients are … I’ve not lost any clients moving to a surge schedule whatsoever.
Mathew Jarvis: No.
Micah Shilanski: In doing this, and all of my clients, I’m going to say their satisfaction rate has gone up because of predictability, Jarvis. They know what we’re going to talk about.
When they come in for their meeting, we review everything. We’ve already told them last meeting what we were going to talk about. We sent them a pre-email package that told them what we were going to talk about. We got their questions and feedback, whole system in that, which is outstanding by the way.
So, a pre-email system that goes out. Then we have the meeting. We go through the things. I set and plant the seeds for what we’re going to be talking about next meeting. When do we need to get together? And then when they leave, we’re scheduling and setting up their fall surge meeting. They feel 100% taken care of.
Now, if something comes up, we have many surges that are in place. As Michael Henley, jokingly said, “You need a workday?” I was like, “Well, okay, sure, we can call those that.” We like to call them a mini surge.
Mathew Jarvis: That’s right. You could call it that. That was really funny.
Micah Shilanski: So, we have these mini surges in place to help with that. But now, it’s systematized and this creates a massive value to the client because they know what to expect.
Mathew Jarvis: By the way, for our listening audience, which is now some 50,000 downloads a month strong, and thank you all for that.
Micah Shilanski: Thank you.
Mathew Jarvis: It’s a real effort to keep these episodes to 30 minutes and each one of these could be hours. But in the idea of that time constraint, we want to pivot into some action items.
I would say action item number one, if you enjoy this podcast, if you’re like, “Wow, I learned some great things.” Wait till you see Micah and I in person. Like the podcast are maybe I would say 1/10th what you get from being in person. You can come and be a judge for yourself.
October 8th, Micah and I are going to be in Denver at XYPN Live doing our own pre-conference. Come to that. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ve got dozens of advisors signed up for that already. It will sell out, and it’s your chance to experience both Micah and I first-hand, Extreme Accountability, Benjamin Brandt is going to be there, Steven Jarvis is going to be there to do a tax session over lunch, really a high-quality time to again, see what the podcast is times 10.
Micah Shilanski: We have a fall webinar that’s coming up, which I believe is on August 17th. Yes, this is going to sound a little self-serving.
However, we’re going to be talking about preparing for fall surge. And this isn’t something to walk into casually and just say you’re going to do it because you’re setting your team up for failure. There’s some great things that you can do and put in place now to get through.
Jarvis and I are going to outline exactly how we’re going to do that in our own offices as we prepare for our fall surge and you get to learn from our mistakes. So, it’s a phenomenal webinar you should attend.
Mathew Jarvis: I love that. And last action item I would have, is even if you’re implementing surge, there’s always room for improvement.
Micah, you and I, for as long as we’ve known each other some five years now, every time we get together, we’re talking about how do we improve surge. Like it literally is a discussion of every time we get together, what if we adjust the timing of it? What are the meeting times? What about the confirmations? What about the conference and layout?
So, there are always things — don’t ever think that you’ve arrived at surge. No one’s arrived at surge. It’s a journey. So, pick one or two things that you can take into your fall surge to implement, to deliver massive value.
Micah Shilanski: I love it. And until next time, happy planning.
Mathew Jarvis: Happy planning.
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