Episode 42 - Financial Planning Unplugged (from Investments) with Holly Donaldson

Holly Donaldson, (for NAPFA members listening, you know her as Holly Thomas), built her business as a plug and play operation.  Clients would go to her for financial planning, but with her help they could plug into whichever 3rd party investment manager they saw fit.  Why did she go that route, and how did it work out?  And what sorts of clients were drawn to her approach?

Episode 41 - Financial Planning and Senior Living, with Brad Breeding - [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

Fresh off of his presentation at the NAPFA 2017 Fall National Conference, Brad Breeding, CFP(R) of myLifeSite.net joins Ben and Roger to talk about aspects that planners need to consider when discussing aging plans/living arrangements with clients. 

Brad has a unique perspective in this area, having worked as an advisor for 14 years before launching myLifeSite.net. In that time, he fielded so many questions about Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) that that identified a need for resources and databases related to general questions about CCRCs, various contract types, the application process, and how to research specific communities. 

In this episode, Brad touches on:

  • The age/life phase when most folks need to seriously consider long-term aging plans
  • Pros and cons of "Aging in Place"
  • Considerations of defaulting to a family caregiver, and the limitations of direct home care providers
  • Defining elements of most Continuing Care Retirement Communities
  • Differences between the three primary CCRC contract types
  • Aspects to consider regarding refundable entry fees

While discussing home care providers, we stumbled on the right name for case managers who can help coordinate health and other care-related activities for older folks. The term we were looking for was "geriatric care managers." Brad wrote a great post about geriatric care managers at myLifeSite.net You can also find more information at the webpage of the Aging Life Care Association (formerly the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers). 

Episode 40 - Linda Leitz PhD

On a cold January 2nd, 2018, we spoke with Linda Leitz over Skype about why she went back to school to get her PhD, and how that experience has shaped her as a practitioner and as someone who serves in leadership roles within the profession.  Linda has done great work for financial planners for years, so its no surprise that one of her motivations behind going back to school was to look for new ways to help the profession grow and improve.


Linda's Dissertation - She said it couldn't be found!  Google said otherwise.

Heat Pumps in Cold Weather - A lot of articles say they work fine, but we know better.

Episode 38 - Extreme Remote Working

One 2017 business story you might have caught was IBM's decision to eliminate all remote work.  They announced it during the spring, but basically if you want to work at IBM, you have to work in the office.  No more working from home.

No financial advisory firm has reached IBM's size and complexity just yet, but we grapple with the pros and cons of remote work just like they do.

In this episode, we chat with Bethany Griffith of the Abacus Planning Group, who continues to work for her South Carolina firm while living in Germany.


Bethany mentions two helpful systems that keep her connected to her firm, which we've linked to below:

  • Allworx phone systems
  • Yammer, an internal chat/social media solution

Episode 37 - Learning Never Stops: Studying After the CFP® Exam

Anyone who has taken the CFP® exam knows that it's a long, steady process, followed by what feels like incredible excesses in free time. But hardcore ZebraSmash listeners want to know how to fill that void with new reading materials, 'cause they're crazy like that. 

In this episode, Roger and Ben talk about the 5 books they recommend for folks who have just put away that insurance textbook and have Amazon gift card burning wholes in their pockets. Roger's list leans more on the managerial/enterpeneur side, while Ben's list touches on history, marketing,  psychology and communication. All in all, it's an impressive list. 


Roger's Books

Ben's Books

Episode 36 - 2017 FinCon Conference Review, with Chad Smith

Designated “Friend of the Show” Chad Smith of Financial Symmetry made a repeat appearance with Roger and Ben to recap the 2017 FinCon Conference (“Where Money and Media Meet”) in Dallas, TX.

Although the conference has received some love from the XY Planning Network and Michael Kitces, FinCon has remained off the beaten path for most advisors.

Based on Chad’s review, however, that seems to be short-lived. In 2014, FinCon started a track for Financial Advisors, and the conference now hosts 1,400 attendees. That’s a lot!

Chad breaks down the 3-day event that showcased creating digital content, promoting an online platform, and how to profit from these activities.

Notable highlights from the episode include:

  • Chad’s notes on a thought provoking breakout that consisted of a real-time critique of a presentation that was going to be delivered later in the conference
  • The importance of using your own voice in blog pieces and podcasts, and that successful content needs to leave a mark (but it’s still ok to borrow from what other people have done).
  • A detour into a discussion about the FIRE (Financial Independent Retire Early) movement, which sounds awesome
  • Tips on search engine optimization (SEO), including the importance of backlinks in blog posts and running an SEO audit on your website

Links to Neat Things We Mention

Episode 35 - ZebraSmash Book Club - G2: Building the Next Generation

Nothing - and we mean nothing - says Thanksgiving holiday like hiding out in your room with a plate full of turkey and cranberry sauce and an industry-specific book. And we we have the book for you!

In this very special episode, Roger and Ben review Philip Palaveev's G2: Building the Next Generation. Roger spouts page numbers, Ben recites chapters, we have a spirited debate over the appropriateness of always sending in firm principals to close sales...it's just just like Thanksgiving dinner, but with your favorite ZebraSmash co-hosts. 

We both liked this book a lot, particularly because it spoke both to G2 professionals and to firm founders, which seems like a first to us. We highly recommend it to both groups.

Topics include:

  • Defining and recruiting G2
  • Transitioning lead advisors in client relationships - getting G2 from "second chair" to the lead role
  • G2's role in Business Development
  • Management of teams, managing "up" to founders, and management of self (e.g,, the elusive work-life balance question)
  • Buying shares (G2)/Selling Shares (Founders/existing shareholders)
  • Firm governance, which we admittedly didn't spend a lot of time covering. We'll blame the fact that Roger's jury duty ended a day to early.

Links to Things We Talk About