Episode 29 - Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and Rodents of Unusual Size - Business Continuity, with Cindi Hill

All three items mentioned in this episode's title are terrifying in their own way. And you'd better make sure you have some sort of business continuity plan in case your firm is impacted by any of them, especially the Rodents of Unusual Size. Compliance expert Cindi Hill of Hill Compliance Advisors walks us through some important considerations for business continuity and disaster recovery in light of Roger's recent experience with Hurricane Irma. 

In this episode, we touch on:

  • Establishing policies for when the office will close. Consider following the lead of a local institution, like a nearby university
  • Regulatory requirements for business continuity and disaster recovery plans, including the death or disability of the owner or other key employees
  • Important questions to cover in such plans, including:
    • Who will wind down the business?
    • Who will reimburse clients (if necessary)?
    • How will clients be notified? 
    • How will your office be up and running within 48 hours of any shutdown?
    • What supplies would you need to purchase to quickly put your office back together?
    • What will you do if the US mail service isn't operating? No, really. This happened. 
  • Roger also explains the origins of the city of Houston. It's riveting. 

Towards the end, Cindi mentions two programs that allow folks to set up up Virtual Private Networks, so that they can use free WI-FI networks without worrying about people snooping. We've listed links to both below: 

Mac users: Cloak

PC users: Golden Frog

Episode 28 - Conference Recap - 2017 Bob Veres Insiders Forum

We've got another Investment News "40 Under 40" member on the show! Friend of the podcast Bethany Griffith from Abacus Planning Group in Columbia, SC, joins Roger and Ben to provide a recap of the 2017 Bob Veres Insider's Forum conference. 

As with our other conference recap episodes, Bethany wasn't able to attend every session. But she took great notes and came away with some key insights from a number of sessions, including:

  • Structuring Internal Equity Transitions (Roy Ballentine)
  • Bob Veres peering into the future of the planning profession
  • G2: Developing Your Firm's Next Generation Leaders (Philip Palaveev)
  • Designing Processes for Growing your Firm (Cheryl Holland, Bethany Griffith and Scotty Scott, all from Abacus). This led to another ZebraSmash first - a conference recap from someone who actually presented at the conference. 
  • Creative & Effective Recruiting, Vetting & Hiring for your Human Talent (Luke Dean, Utah Valley University; Ginny Hudgens, The Strategic Implementer; Hunter Judson, Jr, The Judson Group)
  • The Platform of the Future (Rich Cancro of AdvisorEngine)

We cover a lot of ground in this episode, some which will probably find its way to future ZebraSmash episode. We also talk about an incredibly old printing press, which Bethany swears was really cool. 

Also: stay tuned for more details for the ZebraSmash LIVE event at the 2017 NAPFA National Conference in Orlando, FL. Live podcasts...does it get much better than that? We're truly living in a Golden Age. 

Episode 27 - Modern Portfolio Theory [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

Stephen Craffen of Stonegate Wealth Management in Oakland, NJ joins Roger and Ben to discuss Modern Portfolio Theory, from its humble origins as a scrappy idea cooked up in a back room at the University of Chicago through its ascendancy and eventual dominance on every CFP and CFA multiple choice exam. And you thought you were done with this stuff!

We touch on a number of critical concepts, including:

  • The creation and important takeaways of Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT)
  • Thenecessary assumptions that make MPT "work" and the limitations thereof
  • Possible updates to Modern Portfolio Theory, including the Black-Litterman approach of portfolio allocation and making use of concepts like Conditional Value at Risk
  • Fat tails, extreme events (like 2008) and the challenge of serial correlation
  • Roger riffing on the Gaussian distribution

Links to Neat Things We Talk About

Episode 26 - Risks in Advanced Age [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

We invited not one, but two academics in the field of financial planning to a panel discussion.  Drs. Nathan Harness and Michael Guillemette joined us to talk about a paper Dr. Guillemette just finished up on the subject of aging clients.  There's a lot of research on the subject of how client behavior changes as they reach more advanced years, and Michael took on the herculean task of trying to make sense of it all.

In this episode, we walk through the sections of the paper, with Ben and Roger offering up examples from everyday practice in the field of financial planning.  Some elements of the research rung true, while other elements got a little pushback.  That's right!  This wasn't one of those panel discussions where everybody just agrees with each other.

If you're interested in checking out the paper we discussed, here is a copy.  NOTE - This was not the final draft that went to print!  We discussed a version that was not quite final.

Risks in Advanced Age - Michael Guillemette

(We'll link the final version of the paper once it's published.)

For more information on our panelists:

Dr. Michael Guillemette

Dr. Nathan Harness (Also a guest on Episode 13!)

Episode 25 - Financial Journalism, with Bob Veres

Bob Veres is one of the most easily recognized writers and commentators in the financial advisory world, and we were lucky to chat with him on the evolution, current state and (dare I say it?) future of financial journalism. 

Bob tells us his story, from when he was a freelance writer in Atlanta known as the "writer of last resort," to his ascendancy to editing and resurrecting both Air Cargo and then The Financial Planner (known now as simply Financial Planning), and then finally to the creation of his Inside Information newsletter and other services. 

Stay tuned to the end, when Bob Veres definitely says that Ben and Roger are, "...not doofuses." From your lips to God's ears, Bob!

Learn more about Inside Information and Bob's annual conference (Insider's Forum) at www.bobveres.com and the Insider's Forum website, and follow Bob on Twitter (@BobVeres). 


Episode 24 - Required Minimum Distributions From Qualified Accounts [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

Our first ever "by request" episode! Dave O'Brien from Evolution Advisers challenged us some months ago to do an episode on required minimum distributions from qualified accounts, and after hemming and hawing we finally ran out of excuses. So here it is!

Join us on a whirlwind tour of the exciting world of RMDs, as we touch on: 

  • How to calculate RMDs, including rules about determining account balances and participant ages
  • Different rules on when RMDs start, depending on employment status and type of qualified account
  • Qualified Longevity Annuity Contracts (QLACs) and Qualified Charitable Donations (QCDs). 
  • Rules on post-death RMDs for a variety of beneficiaries
  • Challenges faced by beneficiaries who inherit Inherited IRAs

Neat Links:

  • Natalie Choate's Life and Death Planning for Retirement Benefits (7th Edition) is the end-all/be-all of all things RMD related. You can order it at Ataxplan Publications
  • The IRS provides a shockingly good reference website document for RMDs:
  • Michael Kitces has written on a number of topics we touch on in this episode on his blog . Additionally, the most recent copy of his Kitces Report newsletter dealt exclusively with Required Minimum Distributions


Episode 23 - The DOL Fiduciary Rule with Cindi Hill (Hill Compliance Advisors)

The Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule is a mere 2 months old.  But like any 2 month old, it causes anyone around it to lose quite a bit of sleep.  And it tends to smell sometimes.  And in particularly stressful moments, it makes you wonder if you have any idea what you're doing.

Well we found someone who knows what she's doing.  Cindi Hill is the rare CFP(R) practitioner that liked compliance so much that she made it her primary business! Cindi has been following the rule, and she's got some updates and best practices to share with us.  Hurry up and listen before they change all the rules again and we have to record an entirely new episode.


Places You Might Live If You've Never Heard of the DOL Rule

Episode 22 - A Recap of 2017 AICPA Engage Conference, with Ann Gugle

Ann Gugle of Alpha Financial Advisors in Charlotte, NC joins Ben and Roger to recap her experience at 2017 AICPA Engage Conference.  

Do you constantly dream of being surrounded by 4,000 CPAs and financial advisors who live and breathe for the latest tax planning strategies and exotic step-up in basis techniques...IN LAS VEGAS?!? Then this conference was for you. 

Find out why the AICPA conference is considered to be at the top of most people's lists for the conference with the Best Technical Content lists. And hear the challenge of networking with 4,000 people in the cozy confines of the MGM Grand. 

And for those who want to hear more from Bob Keebler - who presented a keynote session at the AICPA conference - consider registering for the 2017 NAPFA National Conference in beautiful Orlando, FL. Bob will be conducing a three-hour session on Tax Planning and IRAs at the pre-conference, as well as a breakout session during the regular conference. 

Episode 21: Beach Read - Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit

If you're a regular listener to this podcast,  there's a good chance that you're the one at the beach wearing khakis and a sensible button-up, with a solid business/self-help business book in hand. And have we got the book for you!

Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization isn't a long book, clocking in at just 144 pages. But as authors Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon suggest in Chapter Three (Language Engineering): "Every. Word. Counts."

This book has made an impact on both of us, so much so that it's required reading for new employees at both of our firms. In this episode, we provide a brief tour, with extended stops at favorite parts along the way:

  • Anticipatory Service
  • The Four Elements of Excellent Customer Service
  • Creating a Preferred Language Lexicon
  • Turning Service Failures Around/The Perfect Apology 
  • Client Feedback/Seeing Your Firm Through the Eyes of a Client

We could easily have spent another hour talking about the book, but hopefully we've whetted your appetite enough for you to buy a copy. So lather on the sunscreen, grab a floppy hat, and get out to the beach and read!

Exceptional Service Exceptional Profit

Bonus Read: High-tech High-touch Customer Service

Episode 20 - Metasode, Part Deux

We promised our faithful listeners that every 10 episodes, we would do a "metasode" to check in to see if we were accomplishing the goals we set for ourselves, share some lessons learned, and talk about what the Zebra Smash of the future might look like.

And after 20 mostly glitch-free episodes, we finally experienced the coming-of-age ritual of every podcast: completing an episode, only to discover that one of us hadn't recorded properly. Based on minutes of research, we're fairly confident that we made it farther than any podcast in the history of the universe before our first major recording snafu. So we've got that going for us. 

We buckled our chinstraps, laced up our boots, did some more sports preparation thingies and tried again. Frankly, this recording is 10 times better than the first one. That one was terrible. But this one? Pure gold. 

In this episode, we talk about:

  • Stats that show that, yes, people are listening.  
  • Stats that show that, no, people aren't taking as many CE quizzes as we thought.
  • Stats that show that, yes, some people are putting some money in the tip jar.
  • Stats that show that, no, it's not much. 
  • Absolutely no objective stats that help us evaluate if we're living up to our "conference in your pocket" tagline. 

If you have a question or a topic that you'd like us to explore on a future episode of Zebra Smash, let us know at info@zebrasmash.com (now staffed by live humans!).


Intro inspired by the great Gene Chandler...