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Episode 14 - There Will Be Blood - The Oil Episode [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

Remember that song by Alabama called "If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band"? No? Well we recommend it. We're not quite sure why a band called Alabama is singing about Texas, but that's a topic for another day.

In any case, it's a similar story if you're gonna be a financial advisor in Texas. You gotta know about oil and gas. And now that the shale boom has spread across the nation, this topic is going to be important in most other states as well.

Disclaimer: This episode is 100% free of legal and tax advice. As far as we know, there's no insurance or medical advice either.

Covered In This Episode

  • We got a ton of help from a brilliant book called Money In The Ground. We link to it below. If you have an office library, we recommend having a copy just in case.
  • Mineral vs. surface rights
  • Components of an oil lease
  • Royalty vs. working interest
  • Intangible drilling costs, including our nominee for the most obscure CFP exam question in the world. (Hint - It has to do with intangible drilling costs, alternative minimum tax, and geothermal steam.)
  • Depletion taxation and estate planning implications
  • Seriously, you should really consider that book linked below. The author did a stellar job.

Links to things we mention

Money in the Ground-Insider's Guide to Oil and Gas Deals (4th Ed.) By John Orban

Episode 13 - Back to School, with Dr. Nathan Harness

Dr. Nathan Harness, Instructional Associate Professor and TD Ameritrade Director of Financial Planning at Texas A&M University, joins Roger and Ben to talk about the current state of academic financial planning programs.

You'll see from the get-go that Dr. Harness is a sharp cookie. And not only does he have an enviable CV (including another coveted 40 Under 40 spot), he sings a mean karaoke.

There's so much meat here that you'll hear us say multiple times that we could address a number of tangential topics in a future podcast. But we're living in the present. In the immortal words of Colonel Sanders in the historically accurate Mel Brooks classic Spaceballs, "We're at now now. Everything that's happening now is happening now."

So what did we talk about? Among other things:

  • Dr. Harness' journey into academia
  • The benefits that thinking like a researcher can have on financial planners
  • Teaching about comprehensive financial planning is complicated by the fact that there's no universally accepted definition of the concept. Or in Dr. Harness' much more educated words, "there's an absence of a multitude of normative practices." We told you he's smart!
  • The Kafka-esque series of events that needs to take place to get a new financial planning course offered at the university level, let alone a major course of study
  • The secret weapon that firms that aren't geographically close to the premier academic planning programs can use to attract top-tier students for employment (Hint: it rhymes with hinternships.)


  • There's a great article on Bill Gustafson of Texas Tech fame here
  • For the academia inclined, those who live in close proximity to the academically inclined, or those who just like chuckling at small-minded departmental politics, you'll find lots to laugh at in Julie Schumacher's 2014 novel Dear Committee Members.
  • Straight Man is also a funny novel about academia

Episode 12 - Caleb Brown Sets us Straight on Hiring

Roger and Ben talk to Caleb Brown of New Planner Recruiting about the "state of the union" of advisory firms and hiring aspiring planners. There's a "war for talent", and "A players" are hard to find. We laugh, we cry, and at some point we make an offer to endow a set of pens to our local financial planning university programs, in lieu of an endowed Chair. Good times.

Some additional highlights from the episode:

  • How to make a job descriptions that stand out in a crowded field
  • What are top job candidates looking for in a position, and what are top advisory firms looking for in job candidates
  • Ways in which both firms and job candidates are being unreasonable
  • Advice for firms that are wary about hiring planners right out of school or who are relocating geographically
  • The roles that university programs and professors are playing in terms of job placement and job satsifcation, both good and not so good
  • Why firms should consider outsourcing the inital phases of the hiring process

Links to things we talk about

New Planner Recruitng

Option B, the newly released book by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy $15.55 By Sheryl Sandberg, Adam Grant

Episode 11 - Death by Proxy

Is a fiduciary obligated to vote proxies? If so, how would a firm implement a proxy voting policy? What is our proxy voting obligation on positions the client insists on owning?

We cover all of this stuff in a quick episode. Roger's firm has been voting proxies for several years now, so he has built up a decent amount of knowledge (and rage!) on the subject.

Vanguard's proxy voting policy:


Dimensional Fund Advisor's Corporate Governance Page:


Blackrock/iShares Proxy Information and Policies


Episode 10 - The Tax Man Cometh [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

Perhaps no single document contains as much valuable information about a client's life than their tax return. Successful advisors need to know how to navigate tax returns and identify those entries that bear scrutiny or indicate planning opportunities.

In this episode, Roger and Ben describe the processes and checklists that their respective firms use when reviewing client tax returns.

If you take away just one thing, we hope it's the idea that simply having such a checklist is critical to ensure consistency and completeness across reviews, particularly if you're looking to scale your practice.

But you want to take away more than one thing, right? Of course you do. That's why you listen to Zebra Smash. Our deep dive into the 1040 includes:

  • Everyone's favorite supporting schedules: A, B, C, D, E, and even F
  • Commonly seen issues with Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) and Original Issue Discount (OID) income
  • How to use Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) to your advantage
  • Identifying planning opportunities based on self-employed income
  • Frequently missed deductions and/or credits
  • Some incoherent ramblings from Roger about the foreign earned income exclusion and the foreign housing exclusion. Be sure to google both topics to undo whatever he puts in your brain.
  • Communicating the results of reviews to clients

We didn't talk about too much stuff that we can link to, but here are a few interesting items: