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...



Episode 19 - Bob Veres 2017 Fee Study

How much are financial advisors charging their clients?  How are most advisors calculating their fees?  What constitutes a reasonable fee these days?  Bob Veres put out a survey and study recently that tries to answer those questions.

To learn more about Bob Veres, here's his website.  You can subscribe to his newsletter there, which will give you access to the study we discussed.

Bob Veres Inside Information: www.bobveres.com

Episode 18 - Software Quick Hitter - Two Programs We've Found Helpful

Roger is on vacation this week, but we want to provide a quick episode where we review two software programs that we've found to be helpful in our respective firms. 

Remember on Reading Rainbow when kids would review books then finish with the catchphrase, "But don't take my word for it!"?  Well this is the adult financial planning version of that. But without books. Or LeVar Burton. Or rainbows.

What we talked about in this episode:

We wanted to put that awesome Reading Rainbow sound after each review, but chose not to due to a combination of laziness and copyright concerns. Instead, we'll link to some guy's website who evidently has no such worries: Da Da Dah!

Episode 17 - John Gugle (Alpha Financial Advisors) Recaps FPA Retreat

On this week's episode, Roger and Ben are joined by John Gugle of Alpha Financial Advisors, who provides a recap of the 2017 FPA Retreat conference. 

Rather than link to each speaker that John mentions, you can check out the agenda for the entire conference here. (Note the absence of the "bells and incense" portion of the first night from the conference agenda. Bait and switch!)

Next year's retreat is already scheduled for April 23-26, 2018, in Phoenix, AZ, so start marking up your calendar now. 

Episode 16 - A Recap of the NAPFA National Spring Conference

Roger provides a recap of the 2017 NAPFA National Spring Conference in beautiful Bellevue, WA. We cover the keynote sessions, highlighted breakout sessions, and talk about the challenge of planning a conference when you try to balance new topics and voices against the draw of repeat speakers with high name recognition that get people in the door. (You can access the conference agenda by visiting the NAPFA website.)

Mark your calendars now for the 2017 NAPFA National Fall Conference in Orlando, FL, which will take place from October 18 - 21.