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


Episode 33 - Government Employee Benefits, with Kevin Lozer [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

It's not easy coming up with a snappy, ironic title about employee benefits for government workers. So in the spirit of government service, we're not really going to try. Instead, we're going to let this episode's topic speak for itself. 

Kevin Lozer, CFP(R) of ClearLogic Financial in Reston, VA joins Roger and Ben to talk about the workplace benefits and planning opportunities for federal government employees. In this episode, we cover:

  • The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), including differences between the two, benefit calculations, and survivor benefits. 
  • The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP; the federal government's version of the 401(k)), including investment options, the awesome power of the G Fund investment option, and the quirky rules around withdrawals. 
  • The myriad of health plan options available to government workers
  • The interplay between Medicare Part B and the Federal Employees Health Benefit program for retirees
  • Long Term Care Insurance and Life Insurance benefits for retirees

The package of benefits is so good that we've both decided to sign up and become a forest rangers. 

Links to Things We Talk About

Episode 32 - Metasode 3 - LIVE

Every 10 episodes or so, we take a moment to reflect on what we've learned doing this podcast.  We call this meta-episode the Metasode.  Our third installment of the Metasode series was particularly special, in that we were joined by members of our Zebra study group.

Take a peek behind the curtain to see how the sausage gets made...

Episode 31 - Multi-Pronged Marketing with Chad Smith

ZebraSmash has deliberately shied away from practice management episodes, with the thought that there are plenty of other good podcasts that specialize in that area. But we made an exception on this episode, and we're glad we did. Chad Smith of Financial Symmetry in Raleigh, NC, joins us to talk about the successful multi-pronged marketing approach his firm has taken, and we've got a lot of great takeaways.

Chad and the folks at Financial Symmetry worked with a local marketing firm that didn't specialize in financial advisors, and came away with an approach targeting five categories:

  • The Financial Symmetry website: the firm's face to the world. Check out their site to see a "Contact Us" section on every page. 
  • Advertising: not traditional commercials, but things like pay-per-click ads and Facebook ads that drive people to their website
  • Developing a firm-wide podcast, starting first by just reading blog posts the firm's advisors were already publishing
  • Leveraging current clients: do they belong to communities where the firm's message can resonate? 
  • Public relations: direct pitches to media, community involvement and guest blogging on other outlets

Chad talks about how the firm measures how well its marketing initiatives are working by using both Google Analytics and a website called SEM Rush. This nugget was worth the price of the podcast by itself. 

Chad also mentions the upcoming FinCon Advisor Track conference, marketed as the first event dedicated to helping advisors grown their firms through social media, blogging, videos and podcast content. We'll be sure to ask Chad back on the show to give a recap. 

Episode 30 - Whealthcare: Financial Health Care Planning, with Carolyn McClanahan

ZebraSmash turns 30 (episodes)! And for our 30th, we've got a special treat: Carolyn McClanahan of Life Plan Partners walks Ben through Whealthcareplan.com, her new software program that helps advisors put together financial caretaking plans, assess financial decision making capacity, and build long-term care plans for clients. 

Ben took all three assessments as if he was a client, so listen to Carolyn explain to Ben why his life expectancy is a mere 78 years old (spoiler: it's too much sitting!) and the things he should be doing to make life easier for a potential financial caretaker. 

There's a lot here, but some neat takeways included:

  • A FINRA requirement starting in 2018 will result in advisors needing to have Trusted Contact Information for clients
  • The critical role advisors play in spotting financial fraud and abuse
  • People without advanced directives spend $18,000 more at the end of life compared to those that do
  • It bears repeating: Ben's life expectancy is just 78 years old.

Check out Whealthcareplan.com for a free trial. You can also follow Carolyn on Twitter (@CarolynMcC). 

Astute listeners will note Roger's absence. He was busy saving orphaned puppies from multiple burning buildings. Don't worry, he'll be back in the next episode. 

Stay tuned for more details on our first ever live ZebraSmash meetup at the NAPFA Fall National Conference in Orlando next month!




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