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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:

Episode 9 - The Metasode

On this very special episode of Zebra Smash, we don't just break the Fourth Wall, but the Fifth and Sixth Walls as well. With 10 episodes (counting the Prequel), we figured we would share a little bit about what we've learned about podcasting, particularly as the first CFP CE-eligible podcast (to our knowledge).

So it's not just a regular episode...it's a META-sode! (Insert heavy timpani drums here.)

We touch on the following key points:

  • Why did we choose Squarespace and not Wordpress to host our site?
  • The challenges of having a sister site (www.cesmash.com) for our CE-eligible quizzes
  • The issues (monetary and otherwise) of being a CE sponsor with the CFP Board
  • Successes and failures with audio recording, particularly when 3 people aren't in the same location
  • How a recording becomes a podcast. (This is admittedly less interesting than how a bill becomes a law.)
  • Realizing how hard it is to track listening and download metrics
  • Grading ourselves against our original vision of being, "A conference in your pocket."

Links to Things We Mention

  • Audacity - free audio software for recording
  • Fiverr - freelance services for the lean entrepreneur
  • Zencastr - cloud-based podcasting site. It didn't work as advertised for us, but maybe it will work for you...
  • Ecamm - call recorder for Skype; good back-up for Audacity, hopefully better outcomes than Zencastr for episodes with 3+ people (Mac only)
  • Libsyn - Podcast Hosting Services (maybe future home of Zebra Smash...?)
  • Blubrry - podcast directory service; podcaster dashboard allows us to monitor the number of downloads for each episode. It's how we know 5 million people are listening! (Stats may be exaggerated.)

Episode 8 - Angry Man Yells at Cloud

When I (Ben) played basketball in high school, we used to have plays called "quick hitters," where the play involved 1-2 passes at most. (Having said that, my junior year we went 3-22, so...).

Nostalgia aside, we have a Quick Hitter episode for everyone this week. Roger compiled some data on what it might cost to move to move his document storage to the cloud and nearly burst a blood vessel. And rather than do anything about it, we thought it would be therapeutic for him to share his information and his rage. Ben tries to talk Roger off the ledge, and more or less succeeds...or does he?

No real show notes for this one, but we thought we'd share links to our respective document management solutions.

Episode 7 - Persuasive Writing [CFP CE Credit Eligible]

In this episode, Ben and Roger welcome Ben Opipari, writing instructor and coach and the founder of Persuasive Matters, to talk about persuasive writing. (Two Bens on one podcast? What are the odds? Let confusion reign!)

The ability to communicate clearly and effectively in client letters, emails, blog posts, newsletters and even Twitter is critical to a financial advisors' success, particularly when you are trying to encourage a prospect or client to take and act on your advice. This episode is full of actionable takeaways:

  • What persuasive writing is, and what it very much isn't.
  • How to become a better writer
  • The golden rules of sentence construction, and why embedded clauses, semi-colons and commas can stop readers in their tracks
  • The importance of avoiding the "nominalization" of verbs. You'll have to listen to learn what this means. It blew my mind.
  • Common myths and misconceptions about writing. Starting a sentence with the word "and"? Splitting infinitives? Prepositions at the end of sentences? All cool. (But passive voice is still bad.)
  • Tips on creating and maintaining a firm-wide writing voice.

Links to things we mention