Contrary to popular belief, all financial firms and their advisors are not created equal. It’s actually a common myth that all financial advisors do the same thing and give the same advice. What they do–and how they do it–can be drastically different from company to company.
We started SHP Financial in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t until the 2010s that we really began to scale our practice–and it couldn’t’ve happened without today’s guest.
Brad Johnson is a principal at Triad Partners, and he’s coached thousands of financial advisors to hone their craft and become the best of the best in the industry. Brad played an instrumental role in our growth, and his knowledge and experience has improved the lives of countless retirees and the advisors who work with them.
In today’s conversation, we dig into the difference between independent and captive financial advisors, the key questions you should ask any potential advisor, and why there’s so much more to retirement planning than creating a portfolio of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
In this podcast discussion, you’ll learn:
- Why some financial advisors and insurance agents choose products that aren’t in their clients’ best interest.
- The difference between people who call themselves fiduciaries in their commercials and actual fiduciaries.
- Why the best advisors have every tool at their disposal to help you.
- Why an investment portfolio alone is not a plan.
- The big questions you need to ask as you plan the retirement of your dreams.
- “To me, money is just a vehicle that allows you to create experiences with those that you love.” – Brad Johnson
- “You have to have a team if you are going to deliver on the promise of true holistic financial planning. And I love that you guys have invested in your company to actually build out the team in order to deliver on that.” – Brad Johnson
- Triad Partners
- Brad Johnson
- Brad Johnson on LinkedIn | Twitter
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- Follow the Do Business. Do Life podcast on Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube | Twitter
Derek Gregoire: Welcome everyone to the Retirement Road Map podcast, brought to you by SHP Financial. I’m Derek Gregoire with Keith Ellis. Matt’s out today, but the two of us are holding down the fort. And we want to introduce you to a special guest, a good friend of ours for well over a decade now, Brad Johnson.
And Brad is one of the principals at Triad, which is a firm that works with, helps develop hundreds of advisors. And as we get into the conversation, you’ll kind of see how it relates to retirement planning in general. But Brad was instrumental in our growing of SHP Financial over the years. And so, without further ado, welcome to the show, Brad.
Brad Johnson: What’s up, guys? Glad to be here.
Derek Gregoire: How are you doing out there? How’s Kansas?
Brad Johnson: Kansas? The Kansas City metro area is very solid this week. You may have heard of a team called the Chiefs, they’re in the Super Bowl coming up this Sunday. So, it’s good. I know you all have to– when the Patriots had their glorious decade run, you had to kind of share that with me. So, I figured I would just make sure you guys were up to date on the current sports events.
Derek Gregoire: But the difference is Keith and I could name more than three people on the Patriots. Just remember that.
Brad Johnson: I’m open to the challenge.
Derek Gregoire: Anyhow, well…
Brad Johnson: The question is, could you now?
Derek Gregoire: Yes, I guess.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: That’s a good question.
Derek Gregoire: So, let’s fast forward back to almost around 2010, 2011, almost 13, 14 years ago or so, we had started our firm as SHP Financial in 2003. And one of the things that we thought we were growing a firm, we weren’t growing the firm. It was obviously very slow and steady. We’re both in our 20s at that point, early 20s, actually, in early 2000 when we started SHP. And then we started getting a little bit of growth over the years and building up our clientele, but really, it was a pivotal point when we met and really started getting things going around 2011, 2012, 2013, but fast back to that time period, obviously, we were much younger, probably less wrinkles, little more hair. Well, not for you, you had less hair.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Not gray.
Brad Johnson: I had less hair back then. That’s true.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Yeah, you did.
Derek Gregoire: Brad was coming off as– you believe you were an all-American D2 football player?
Brad Johnson: I appreciate you sliding the D2 in there. Thank you for that. That’s accurate.
Derek Gregoire: I will say it, though. On a quick side note, when we first met, I thought I was a pretty good athlete and I tried to cover Brad in my backyard running a route. And I was like, “Wow, he is pretty fast.” So, I’ll give him that. I don’t know if he still has those wheels.
Brad Johnson: They’re disappearing quickly, but at least better it has been than it never was.
Derek Gregoire: The wheel is a little rusty, a little wobbly at this point.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, they’re wobblier by the minute.
Derek Gregoire: Yeah, exactly. So, even back then, as you’ve helped a lot of advisors, just I guess as a general landscape of the advisory world, you’ve seen it all. You’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly, the in-between. So, I guess, just share because a lot of our listeners are either working with us or know a little bit about us, but I guess just in general, like advisory firms, what does it look like and why is it so different? Because a lot of people think, well, they’re all the same. My advisor, this advisor, it’s all the same. Once they meet with different firms, they realize it’s totally not the case. But what have you seen over the years? I guess, how can you frame up the landscape as best as possible?
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Short question, big answer, but I’ll try to summarize it. I know you all are working with a lot of Boston area retirees, and then of course, as they retire and relocate and go different places, really retirees all over the country now. But my journey into finance, as you said, I played football in college. I was an IT major. And my first job right out of college was the infamous Payless ShoeSource that no longer exists.
So, I was in corporate America for about three years before I just realized I had a different calling. I’d always been interested in finance. Now, I remember buying Google and Chipotle and Under Armour when they IPO’d, that was it in my first corporate job, and so, I was really taken the path to– very similar to you all, to a captive kind of advisory space, which is what attracts a lot of, I think, young advisors fresh out of college.
And I was really fortunate, what became one of the largest insurance brokerage companies and RIAs in the independent space was in my own backyard here in Topeka, Kansas, and I got that job when I was 26 years old. And my job was to work with advisors all across the country, independents. And we can talk maybe about the difference between independent and captive because my guess is a lot of retirees don’t know there is such a difference.
But to fast forward, I remember one of my biggest aha’s. This was really young in my career. I remember thinking of financial advisors very similar to how you think about a doctor. Here’s a professional. You walk into their office and you’ve got this problem or these symptoms of a problem and they diagnosed it and they offer you professional help. And that was very much the lens that I looked through in the financial advisory space as a 26-year-old when I first got into this business. That was 2007.
And I remember I got on a phone call and we were a brokerage company and there was a product that I’ll call it the litmus test for ethics in finance because it was three products. They were all the same products. So, think of that for, if you’re a retiree listening and out there, it was a five-year just a fixed annuity, think CD, very much like a CD, just a very boring fixed rate product, but this was an interesting one. Doesn’t exist anymore. But it was basically, think of it like a teeter-totter. And on one side was the fixed rate, it paid the client. I think it was like 1%, 3%, 5% per year. So, that was one side.
On the other side of the teeter-totter was the commission that it paid that advisor. And so, it was kind of like 5%, 3%, 1%. And so, basically, if you paid the client 5%, the advisor made 1%, and it was just like 3% and 3% was in the middle. And then if you paid 1%, the advisor made the high commission.
Derek Gregoire: That’s a fiduciary nightmare. That’s a fiduciary nightmare right there.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. And so, I mean, this product doesn’t even exist. But back in 2007, it did. And it was incredible and scary to me, unfortunately, at the time, how many advisors, insurance agents pick the high commission at the detriment of their clients. And I know your all’s journey through the captive group that you came in, you had a set shelf of limited products that you all were offered, but you didn’t know any better at the time. It was just kind of like, here’s what we were trained as 20-something-year-olds to basically offer our clients, and you were just doing the best you could. So, that was kind of the first eye opener to me when I first got in the industry that there are call it salespeople and there are financial planners and they aren’t all created equal. So, I won’t go too long, but that was kind of the first story where I remember like, oh, this is not what I expected.
Derek Gregoire: Well, Keith, remember, that’s where Keith and I met. In 2001, 2002, we’re at a captive company that you were only allowed to offer their stuff, if you will. Like whatever they offered, you had to offer it.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: You had a shelf of four or five different products and you went to Mr. and Mrs. Joneses house and you tried to fit that square peg in a round hole or that shoe on that foot, even though it wasn’t the right size. That’s how you’re trained, in my opinion, in some of these captive agencies. And like Derek said, that’s where we started, which I think was a good place to start because it kind of gives you, I guess, in my opinion, the worst side of the industry.
Derek Gregoire: 100%. And then, all of a sudden, you go into every job with just a hammer and a wrench. So, if the windows need cleaning, you got to hit it with a hammer, right? So, it doesn’t make sense.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: I would use the wrench.
Derek Gregoire: Yeah. Keith would definitely use the wrench. So, people are like how did you start so young, 23, 24, or 25 years old, because in 2003, we’d already been working for that company for a year or two. And once we realized there was a lot more options out there that were better for the clients, it was like, all right, we have to move on. We don’t know what that looks like, but we have to move on.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Yeah, I would say this company kept a pretty good way or they were pretty good at keeping the blinders on, keeping the curtain down so we couldn’t look behind it to know that there were other products or other opportunities. They were actually a heck of a lot better for our investors, our clients, and the people that we served. And like Derek said, once we found out that there was– because we were young, naive, coming out of college, just thirsty to learn the industry, and then to be thrown into that environment, it was, like I said, a very, very important learning experience. But looking back on it, it’s like, oh, you wish you had known everything so you could have done better by the client.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, it’s like you didn’t know what you didn’t know.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Exactly, exactly.
Brad Johnson: I had an advisor, and this is one of the things, guys, that I was just– obviously, I met you guys a long time ago and it was cool to really grow up in the business as you all evolved and grew your business and were able to serve a lot more clients in your marketplace, grow the team. But that was in my chair, I kind of had this 30,000-foot view. I personally was working with hundreds of financial services firms across the country, and then the company I worked for was working with thousands. And so, I just kind of say I had an accelerated learning curve, and so I could really see kind of the landscape of the independent financial advisory space.
And I guess, just to not assume when we say captive, an independent captive, really, how I would define that, it’s kind of working for a mothership. We’ve all seen the commercials on TV where it’s this company or that company, there’s another name over the door versus independent, obviously, you all as entrepreneurs created and built SHP. And then, typically, a very defining difference between a captive organization in finance and an independent is the product selection.
And one of the things, the analogies I heard one advisor share, he’s like, you know, when you go into a quick shop and you’re like, you need some laundry detergent and what are you guys’ quick shops on the East Coast? We’ve got like…
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Cumberland Farms, maybe.
Brad Johnson: 7-Eleven.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Yeah, 7-Elevens up here.
Brad Johnson: So, call it like a 7-Eleven. I go into a 7-Eleven, I’m in a pinch, and I need some laundry detergent. You’re going to have two options maybe, and it’s going to be the smaller bottle at the more expensive price, typically, like the Tide or whatever they’re carrying. And with a captive group that just oftentimes what happens is it’s like there’s only so much bandwidth because they have to train their group on distributing certain products, and so, they can’t train them on everything. So, it’s like, let’s pick two or three and let’s distribute those, where the analogy of an independent advisor would be like going into Wal-Mart and looking at what’s that shelf space when you look at laundry detergent, you’re going to have everyone you’ve ever heard of and probably 15 you have it because it’s just what I would call open architecture when it comes to solutions. And I don’t know if you guys want to go into kind of the concept of fiduciary and how that plays in, but I think those two kind of go hand in hand with independent, captive, and then fiduciary and how I think our industry markets that versus the definition, I think, that might be helpful to your audience.
Derek Gregoire: And before we get into that, I would say, Brad, the evolution was first to, like you said, not just be captive to certain things to offer to clients. That was our decision back in– that was 20 years ago in 2003. Then, as we started building, it was like great, we can offer everything and anything to our clients, which is great. But then around 2010, 2011, 2012, we said, “You know what? That’s great, but that’s only part of investment and income plan. That’s only a part of a financial plan.” So, I think the evolvement from after we met you in around ‘11 or so, like ’12, ‘13, ‘14 was the growth and evolving of the SHP Retirement Road Map.
And instead of just having the best access to all the investment tools which we do and we did, then it was like, all right, well that’s one piece of the puzzle, but what are we doing for tax planning? How are we evolving that into our clients’ plans? Do we have a proper estate plan attorney to coordinate estate plans? How about Medicare, long-term care? When can I retire? Am I going to run out of money? So, there’s…
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Decisions around Social Security, when to take it? You know what I mean? There’s so much that goes into this.
Derek Gregoire: So, I think, as you mentioned, it’s like when someone’s looking for an advisor, and as you mentioned, there’s captive versus independent. And then, okay, you’re independent, but what do you really do? You’re a small company that can only offer a few products and vehicles, maybe even your fiduciary, but what are you actually really doing for that client from a full holistic planning perspective? So, it’s like everyone can have a similar designation, but what that firm does for their clients, as you know, dealing with hundreds of advisors or probably thousands over the years, it’s very, very different.
So, back to the fiduciary conversation, Brad, obviously, we’re held to the fiduciary standard, act in the best interests of your clients ahead of your own situation, right? And some people almost market that. If you watch commercials, it’s like, yep, we’re a fiduciary. That means you should come to us, right?
Brad Johnson: Guys, I literally just saw a commercial this weekend. And my guess is many of the retirees or soon-to-be retirees or whoever is listening to this podcast has seen the exact same commercial. Just write it down, write the word fiduciary down, and then watch the next financial services commercial, and I bet, half of them are using it. But here’s the thing, they’re using it as a marketing angle versus the definition of what a fiduciary actually is. And I just pulled it up because I wanted to get one definition.
A fiduciary is someone who manages money or property for someone else. When you are named a fiduciary, you are required by law to manage the person’s money and property for their benefit, not yours. For example, a friend of yours may name you her fiduciary through a power of attorney. So, that’s very short and sweet.
But here’s what’s interesting. I’ve seen this, and by the way, a Series 65, we’re getting a little into the weeds, but a Series 65 means, which obviously, the guys are Keith and Derek and their team, it allows you to charge a fee for financial planning. One of the things that comes along with it is the requirement to be a fiduciary, right? So, legally act in the best interest of your clients. So, by definition, I’m legally obligated to act in the best interest of my clients.
Now, let’s talk about the marketing spend that our industry puts on it. It’s basically work with the fiduciary and no one else. Now, the problem is, I’m going to go back to your guys’ analogy of the tools in the toolbox. And one of the things I’ve found to be very true, in fact, as I’ve talked with retirees, as I’ve talked with advisors, it’s almost universal. And I’m just going to say, “Hey, I hire you to build a home for me.” And if I’m the general contractor for your home and I open up my toolbox, I’m like, “Hey, guys, this can be an incredible home. Can’t wait to build it.” And I pull out a hammer. You’re like, “Awesome, cool.” Yeah, we’re going to have to hammer some nails in. Absolutely.
But then if you look in the toolbox and all that’s in there are hammers, you’re like, “Hey, where’s the rest of the tools? And how sound of a structure are we going to be able to construct with just hammers?” And that could trade out a hammer for a saw or a wrench or whatever. And so, one of the things I see is there’s this war. It’s almost like going on Facebook and scrolling right versus left politics.
But in the world of finance, it’s fee-based versus insurance-based planning. And just swap those two terms out for here’s a hammer on one side, here’s a saw on the other. And truth be told, I strongly believe a fiduciary if you’re actually going to deliver on the term fiduciary, you should open up the toolbox and ideally have every financial product, every tool in this analogy possible in that toolbox to serve your clients.
And I think one of the things that happens on a lot of these, whether it’s– I see a lot in the AUM-based world, hey, we’re a fiduciary. We’re legally obligated to do what’s in your best interest. And then you’re like, okay, cool. What sort of insurance planning do you do? And they’re like, we don’t do insurance planning. Like, wait, you work with retirees, and how do you not have life insurance options or income-based solutions, annuities, other products that you can– these are tools that were designed to solve for that need.
Or on the flip side, if you go on the insurance side and there’s not fee-based, it’s like wait, definitely get the protections that insurance allows, but my guess is they also want to grow some assets as well, keep up with inflation. Maybe they’ve got extra in the portfolio that they just want to grow that aligns with their risk tolerance, all that. And so, if I’m just going to circle back, I think one of the things as a retiree, if somebody says, “Hey, I’m a fiduciary, I’m obligated to do what’s in your best interest,” I would say, “Hey, let’s open up the toolbox of tools. What all solutions do you offer? What are your insurance solutions? What are your fee-based solutions?”
And literally, because you can say you’re a fiduciary and you can legally be a fiduciary, licensed to be one, the question is what’s in the toolbox? Because if they don’t have the solutions in the toolbox or they haven’t trained, been trained to offer a broad breadth of solutions, then it’s like I’m a fiduciary with one tool. And we know how that works out, right? So, anyway, that’s kind of the stance I’ve looked at that’s been eye opening over the last 10, 15 years.
Derek Gregoire: Well, I would say those same things. That’s really good points, Brad, but on the same token, you have those same commercials and people that market that they’re a fiduciary, right? But we assume if we get our 65, technically, we’re fiduciaries, many, many years ago. So, this is how I always thought about it. And obviously, this is the difference between the CFP standard maybe and being a fiduciary, but if you’re a fiduciary and you can just put someone in, like let’s say you run a commercial, people call, you do a risk questionnaire. Oh, you’re moderate, okay, you’re going to go in our moderate portfolio. Done. That’s being technically on paper, right? That’s being a fiduciary. You have your license. They filled out a risk score. They end up moderate. You put them in a moderate portfolio, you rebalance it, and you manage it. It’s good.
My point is like, what I think the biggest thing that a good advisor, a good advisory firm, it’s independent, differentiates themselves, is having that just be one piece of the practice. What I always say is ask your advisor, what are you doing that you’re not necessarily getting paid for? It sounds like a crazy question. Well, obviously, I’m going to pay someone to do the work, but like how, if you look at the SHP model, we’re paid to manage clients’ portfolios and so forth. But with that, we’re also building clients have access to a full portal, the amazing technology suite, right?
And this isn’t to brag about. I’m just saying they have a full plan on income, cash flow, taxes, health care, estate planning, all this is being built out as a full plan. So, I would take it one step further and say, because so many people that say they’re fiduciaries would never even have a conversation about proactive tax planning. And I’m not talking about tax returns, I’m talking about, hey, if the tax code looks like it might go up and you have a lot of money in IRAs and 401(k)s that you have paid $0 in taxes in, are we just going to let that sit and then deal with it when you’re 73 years old and RMDs come out? And now, it’s putting you into a higher bracket, which might even be higher than it is now and your Medicare premiums might be higher. Is that being a fiduciary? I guess it is. But my point is that true advising needs to go so much more beyond that, in my opinion.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: It needs to go beyond stocks, bonds, mutual funds.
Brad Johnson: Exactly.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: It needs to be holistic, like Derek was saying. And I always think of it as like five gears in this retirement machine and all the gears need to be working together to make sure the plan is working – income, investments, taxes, health care, and legacy. And if one of those gears is broken, if one of those gears isn’t up to date, if one of those gears is not even being looked at, then you don’t have a full plan. That machine, like I said, is not working. I don’t know if that’s the best analogy, but that’s kind of the way I use it.
Derek Gregoire: And Brad, you know, Keith, Matt, and myself and Michelle, kind of our leadership team here, we’ve been working on the same team for 10 years almost in terms of that particular because we hired Michelle as our COO and we mentally grind on ways to provide more value. And obviously, it’s a lot different than where it was 10 years ago, 15 years ago. It takes firms a while to get to the point where they can offer true advice, but a lot of people will ask, well, how come your team is so big? Why do you have 45, 50 people?
And I think going back to that same thing, in order to deliver on a true fiduciary-based plan, if you use a CFP model, which we have a few CFPs in our team here at SHP, to have that planning, you need a planning team. You need a team that can manage portfolios. You need an investment committee. You need an operations team. You need a new business team. You need a business development team.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: You need people to help you execute.
Derek Gregoire: Correct.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: That’s really what it is.
Derek Gregoire: I could never on my own sit here and do the type of planning we offer to our clients. If it was just me, there’s no way, unless I have two clients, and…
Keith Ellis, Jr.: It’s impossible.
Derek Gregoire: So, a lot of times, a lot of advisors, they just keep scaling, scaling, scaling, and growing. If you’re not growing your team to support that and building the value, then are you really providing the best value to your clients? You know what I mean?
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I think I borrowed this from you guys. Do you have a portfolio? Or do you have a plan? And if you look at what’s very common based on many of the offices we work with nationwide, is oftentimes a retiree will come into their office with– they’ve done the work, they’ve done what they were supposed to do. They were diligent, they saved, they invested, and maybe they have half a mil, maybe they have a mil, maybe they have two mil or more.
And in reality, once you peel back the onion, it’s a basket of stocks that’s diversified, but the analogy I’ll make a lot is many retirees are only seeing half of the picture. If you say you’ve got this lifelong goal of I want to climb Mount Everest, I want to make it to the peak, many retirees do the same thing with their money. I want to get a million dollars in the nest egg, $2 million in the nest egg. And it’s kind of this big number that’s like this goal, the summit in their mind. The thing is, once they make it to the peak, guess what? Mount Everest, you have to make it down to the base.
And weird statistic is more people actually perish on the way down than the way up because they haven’t adequately planned for the second half of the journey. I think it’s a really interesting analogy when you look at retirees because they’ve worked on all the accumulation piece, which is the working years, where, by the way, we have a recent market downturn, like all of us have recently experienced here. That’s okay because I’ve got the paycheck and it just keeps– I live off the paycheck in my working years. Well, once you retire, and now, I’ve got the million-dollar nest egg if the million-dollar nest egg is now an 800k nest egg or a 700k nest egg because of market exposure, uh-oh, as a retiree, I’m in trouble now. It’s kind of hard to go back and retro fix that.
And so, as you guys look and you solve for income, there is no such thing as retirement without income, you need that foundational base. And most retirees, unfortunately, don’t have pensions these days. So, you create that income base. Then you’ve got the growth of investments on top of it. But guess what? We can do those two really well.
And let’s just say my imaginary advisor makes me an extra 5% per year compared to the guy down the road. Well, if I’m paying 20% more in taxes because I don’t have a tax plan, proactive tax planning, none of that matters anyway. So, to your guys’ point, it all works together. And if you focus in on one or two of those pieces of the pie and ignore the other three, by the way, that can come back to bite you really hard.
And so, as you guys have built out your team, one of the things that I’ve seen evolve is to build a true holistic financial plan built on a CFP standard and check all the boxes. It can’t be done with the solo advisor because there’s so much to take into account. Like your guy Nick that oversees the planning team, I mean, that guy is like a black belt ninja in eMoney, your financial planning software, for those that aren’t familiar. And it’s insane to see the level we were talking not that long ago last week. And he’s going into scenarios that I’ve never even dreamed up and testing for those. So, to your guys’ point, you had to have a team if you were going to deliver on the promise of true holistic financial planning. And I love that you guys have invested in your company to actually build out the team in order to deliver on that.
Derek Gregoire: Well, I think you have to. You really have to deliver that true plan. And I think that’s what leads to clients telling their friends and the referrals. It’s just doing the planning and doing what we say we’re going to do from the beginning and living up to what we promised each client. And one of the things I love doing and exercise, if we have a real plan because my thought is like maybe I’m a little more uptight and OCD type– I’m like, if I’m on a vacation…
Brad Johnson: Derek, you are. You are.
Derek Gregoire: I’m 100%. But if let’s say I’m on vacation somewhere and I’m retired, and maybe you could probably get away with this, Brad, but I wouldn’t be able to sit there and be like, I have a good– like if I feel like a lot of things in my retirement plan where I’m not being taken care of, that could be, that weren’t being fully looked at, or even around taxes, like if I have all this money in 401(k)s, no one’s ever talk to me about taxes, that would just bother me, right? So, I like to make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. For me, it’s everything, but for everyone, it should be at least for your financial plan.
And once you have a plan where everything is built out properly, meaning we have a portal that lets our clients know what their income is going to be, what their Social Security, their work, their projected returns. Then, this is the cool part, what I love being able to do with our clients is showing them what’s possible because a lot of times, they say, I would like to be great if I could do one vacation a year, nothing too fancy because we don’t want to spend our money down. But it would be great if I could do one vacation a year, maybe bring our grandkids once every three years, and then we look at their plan, it’s like, “Hey, Joe and Mary, do you know that you could do that every year, three times a year and still be fine?” I mean, like, what?
So, a lot of people, like you said, try to get to this number, then they don’t have a plan. So, they’re not sure how much they should be spending or what they can do. So, it’s like, I love that– here’s covering your base plan is easy, and obviously, every scenario is different, but this happens a lot. However, here’s what’s possible, here’s what you could live off and still not worry about running out of money down the road. So, that’s cool to see for clients to be able to see the impact of the planning that’s allowing them to live their fullest life in retirement. We love seeing the outcome of that type of scenario.
Brad Johnson: I love that. A mentor actually shared that question with me one time. Any time you’re faced with something, ask yourself the question, what could this make possible? So, if I was a retiree listening in right now, what could having a super dialed in financial plan make possible? And I know one of the things we’ve talked a lot about is being an advisor, being a financial advisor by title, by licensing, hundreds of thousands of posts in the United States of America. What most retirees need from my experience is somebody that helps lead their financial lives. They need leadership, they need mentorship. They need someone when it gets crazy, like the recent market conditions, let’s be honest, a therapist some days, if I’m waking up and I’m stressed out, I can’t sleep well at night.
And what’s really cool to see how you guys approach it is you’re helping retirees spend with confidence, but there’s no worse travesty. I mean, I wasn’t planning on sharing the story, but I’m going to share it because it just came to mind. My wife’s grandma, so she was a Catholic school teacher her whole life and she grew up in the Great Depression. So, she was the type that would literally save the pennies and not a lavish lifestyle, tiny house, Salina, Kansas, not a high cost of living. And she was the type of Catholic that would go to church Wednesday, Sunday, probably slip a Saturday in there too, like multiple times a week. And her one goal in life was to go visit the Vatican in Rome, Italy. And unfortunately, she passed away, never checked off that bucket list item.
And Sarah’s mom, my mother-in-law, like that just ate away at her because that was her mom’s lifelong goal. She died with over $60,000 in the bank that was distributed to her kids. And so that, to me, is the saddest retirement story. The funds were there. She could have taken multiple, she could have taken the most lavish trip to Italy ever. And because the planning was not in place, because the prioritization was not in place, because it was kind of like, well, what if rainy days? I’m here to tell you, you guys do this all the time, it’s possible with proper planning to say, “Hey, here is the vacation fund every year.” It’s almost contractually locked in. You don’t have to think about it. The market goes up, down, sideways. It’s literally built into the planning.
And to me, if I’m a retiree out there, and this is my own personal view, there’s a reason you work hard during your years and raising the kids and grinding. I’ve got three kiddos at home. I know some days, it’s like, man, this is just a grind. And I had somebody once told me the days are long and the years are short as a parent. And I want to make sure once my wife and I are empty nesters and we have a lot of traveling aspirations, I will absolutely have a plan in place that it isn’t even second thought, it’s like, where are we going this month? Where are we going next month?
And the cool thing is, with proper financial planning, and I know we’ve shared some of these stories privately, not only is it possible. To your point there, like you said, some people are like, well, every three years. You’re like, no, the math works out. You could take three of these trips a year if you want it.
Derek Gregoire: Yeah, exactly.
Brad Johnson: Because the planning’s in place, right? And so, just clarity is the key. And I think that’s awesome. You guys provide that by having proper planning in place.
Derek Gregoire: And I’ll share, I know we got to run soon. Actually, one of the stories that was pretty impactful that we had a client spend with us a few years. And when they came on board, we kind of went through the scenario of what’s possible and they actually retired in their 50s. It was pretty cool. They retired early.
And on that theme of what’s possible, they went on a trip and I don’t remember where. It might have been Italy, but it was wherever they ended up, there was a spot where they took some sort of a tram or something to the top of the mountain. And then for the last, I don’t want to say quarter mile, there was a certain amount of steps you had to get to the very, very top to this peak ultimate view.
And so, as they were about to go up, they met this couple that was older than them in their late 70s, and they talked to the couple, like they get to know each other. They had these last several steps to get to this top peak and they said, “Hey, let’s go up together. Let’s just do this together.” And this other couple said, “No, we’re not going to be able to make it.” “Come on, let’s go.” And they said, “You know what? If I had one regret, we were so nervous about running out of money that we waited to travel so long that now that we’re here, we physically can’t get to the top.”
And so, kudos to you, as you were saying to our clients for actually taking the time and getting it to the top because, in all seriousness, that was like they took it to heart. That was a story I heard many years ago, and it stuck with me like, don’t wait. And obviously, some people just might not be able to afford it. But if you have a financial plan in place and you’re able to do so or you’re not sure, make sure you’re having that conversation of what is possible because you get one life, and like you said, it’s a quick one and whatever it is that you want to do, charities you want to support, whatever it is, could be charities, could be mission trips, could be travel, could be grandkids, could be golf, could be all of the above, you want to know what’s possible. And that’s what I think I should sit with everyone.
And to know what’s possible, it doesn’t just take having all the products and having all the options. It isn’t just being independent versus captive. To me, it takes true financial planning, not just fiduciary. Take it one step further – income, investments, taxes, health care, estate planning. So, any last…
Brad Johnson: Well, the truth is, Derek, you can’t take it with you. So, either make sure you leave it behind to a person, a cause, church charity to your point, or you should probably spend it while you’re here and enjoy it. To me, money is just a vehicle that allows you to create experiences with those that you love. It’s just a tool.
And I had one of my clients actually, this was like 10 years ago on that exact conversation. He says, “My goal is to retire a little bit more each year, not slave away for 40 years,” and then not be the couple that can’t make it all the way up the mountain in Italy. That was the bucket list thing. And it’s easy– I mean, it’s possible with proper planning. As a 50-some-year-old, 40-some-year-old, you can start creating those experiences and they can just be long weekend, start now as you grow the nest egg. But it’s all about priority and putting the big rocks on the calendar that matter.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Yeah. And on the don’t wait front, I had a client call me when we were out on our adventure and he had a heart attack. And unfortunately, thank God now recovered, but when I met with him three years ago and I’ve continued to meet with him ongoing, he just wanted to push, push, push through work. And I said, you need to take some time and enjoy life and enjoy what are some things? He always wanted to go to the Amalfi Coast, Italy. I know we’ve talked a lot about Italy, really promoting that vacation. Actually, Italy was…
Brad Johnson: Amalfi Coast, he should go yesterday. It’s amazing.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: So, needless to say, he goes through his heart surgery and then calls me and he goes, “Keith, I need to take some money out of the accounts. I’m finally going to listen to you.” And I said, “You can’t get back health, you can’t get back time. You got to do it while you can.” So, we sent out the check late last week. And I can’t wait to get the pictures.
Brad Johnson: I love it. Our most finite resource, and I think a lot of people think it’s money, it’s time.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Definitely time.
Brad Johnson: And you talk to somebody that’s in poor health or towards the end of their journey on this planet, and they’ll all say, I’d spend all the money in the account to get my health back or time back.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: Absolutely.
Brad Johnson: And so, don’t take it for granted while you got it. That’s for sure.
Derek Gregoire: Well, even though you bashed me about being uptight, even though I was the one who brought it up, you’re not supposed to agree with me. We do appreciate.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: I do too.
Derek Gregoire: I know all these– yeah, I’m going to get back later. All these years of– back in the day, I know you guys believe in us long term. And so, a vision of our company, we were just six or seven of us here. So, obviously, we really appreciate that and all the support ongoing, and your friendship and everything else means a lot to us. So, thank you.
Brad Johnson: Well, guys, on my side, it’s been an awesome journey. We all met each other as 20-something-year-olds, young in this business. And I feel really, really fortunate to have been able to just be beside you guys watching the journey play out. And one of the things– I have an opportunity to work with hundreds of financial services offices over 15 years now. I’m not the young guy in the business anymore.
One thing that always stood out with just SHP, I know I’ve got the two of you and Matt, Michelle, and you’ve got a great team around you all, it was just the heart. The heart, you guys cared, and that’s something you can’t fake. And that, I believe if I really look at where all of this came from and how it’s evolved, you guys cared. You cared more about your clients and retirees than you did, trying to make this or that. It was just like, it’s a testament to like the Zig Ziglar, you help enough other people get what they want. You’ll get what you want. And to me, that’s been SHP’s journey is it’s just a testament of you’ve helped a lot of retirees in your marketplace get those goals checked off for their retirement.
And because of that, your company has grown and benefited. So, humbled to have been along for the ride. And I appreciate all the kind words and you guys give me a lot of credit. But the truth is, it was all your guys’ vision and caring about retirees and your team and letting it go from there, so.
Derek Gregoire: We appreciate you, man.
Brad Johnson: Thanks for having me on, guys. This was a fun conversation as always.
Keith Ellis, Jr.: This was fun. Appreciate it.
Derek Gregoire: Awesome. We’ll catch up with you soon, Brad.
Brad Johnson: I’ve got one favor to ask.
Derek Gregoire: Yes.
Brad Johnson: As we wrap here, can I get a Go Chiefs?
Investment Advisory Services are offered through SHP Wealth Management LLC., an SEC registered investment advisor. Insurance sales are offered through SHP Financial, LLC. These are separate entities, Matthew Chapman Peck, CFP®, CIMA®, Derek Louis Gregoire, and Keith Winslow Ellis Jr. are independent licensed insurance agents, and Owners/Partners of an insurance agency, SHP Financial, LLC.. In addition, other supervised persons of SHP Wealth Management, LLC. are independent licensed insurance agents of SHP Financial, LLC. No statements made shall constitute tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own legal or tax professional before investing. Both SHP Wealth Management, LLC. and SHP Financial, LLC. will offer clients advice and/or products from each entity. No client is under any obligation to purchase any insurance product.