103: How to Choose the Right Financial Advisor with Brad Johnson
Choosing the right financial advisor is a big decision; one that can have a major impact on your life. Unfortunately, not all financial advisors are created equal – and if you’re not careful, it could cost you!
Today’s guest, Brad Johnson is here to offer a unique perspective. Brad is the VP of Advisor Development at Advisors Excel (the largest independent insurance brokerage firm in the US) and coach to the biggest and brightest financial advisors in the country.
He’s also the host of The Elite Advisor Blueprint® – a podcast for world-class financial advisors, where he distills the best advice from top thought leaders and applies it to the world of independent financial advising.
During this conversation, Brad pulls back the curtain and guides you through the process of selecting an independent financial advisor who is going to act in your best interests.
Please note: For the special giveaway of Job Optional*, we do not currently offer international shipping. Residents outside of the U.S. may obtain a copy of Job Optional* via eBook format upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- The most important attributes you should look for in a financial advisor – and the immediate red flags that should send you running.
- Why the best financial plans are custom built.
- What to expect from a financial advisor during the 1st & 2nd appointments.
- How to recognize the difference between a good and bad advisor – and where to find them.
- Why working with anyone with a restricted array of tools is likely to hinder your long-term success.
- What is an independent financial advisor and why is that important?
- The importance of hiring a financial advisor with a team-based approach.
- How to look at your prospective advisor’s educational background, qualifications, and licenses to make sure you’re working with the best.
- The story that changed how Brad views relationships with others.
“Great advisors simplify the complex.” – Brad Johnson
Casey Weade: Brad, welcome to the podcast.
Brad Johnson: Casey, I’m excited to be here, man. Been looking forward to this one.
Casey Weade: I’m so excited to have a fellow Front Row dad here with me and also a business partner. You provided so much value to myself, our clients, our practice, and just helped develop me as a husband and a father. And it’s great to have a lengthy conversation we’re able to share here with our audience about the things that you do, the things that you provide, the advisors that you work with. I think it’s great and one of the difficult things that people face as they start looking into getting a financial advisor. Who are these guys? You’re able to share so much experience from working with literally thousands of different advisors and say, “These are the good advisors. These are the ones you want to work with.” Most people don’t have the opportunity to interview 1,000 different advisors, let alone two or three, and you have been able to sit in that chair doing just that. So, that’s why I’m so excited about this conversation. I know you’re going to be able to provide just tremendous value. But as we kick this off, I think it’s important for those listening in to understand where you came from or what you do exactly. A coach to financial advisors, that might seem foreign to some.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, it probably seems foreign to a lot. Does this job even exist out there, right? So, yeah, so, small-town Kansas kid. Grew up on a farm. That’s kind of where I got my start. Married my high school sweetheart, Sarah. We have three kids. And so, you’ve talked about the Front Row Dads. That’s kind of job and priority number one for me and then after that is what I do professionally and it was interesting how I got introduced into the world of finance. I actually graduated from college, played college football, which took me to Emporia State University. And then my very first job was for a little company that I’m sure a lot of your listeners are familiar with, Payless ShoeSource, where everybody got their cheap shoes growing up. And I actually went into IT, came out of college, worked there for three years and I remember just sitting at my desk and it was a great company, great people, but just miserable and I was like, “I’ve got to be interacting with people.” I’m the type of person I just like to be around people. I like conversation, and I had this tug. I’d always been interested in finance. I’d kind of dabbled in investing and I remember at the time Under Armour was IPO-ing, Google was IPO-ing.
And so, I had this little play account and I just, on a whim, signed up for the CFP course and started taking that while I was in my job at Payless ShoeSource. And so, one of my good friends Sean that I went to school with, he said, “Hey, I hear you’re kind of quitting your job.” I was going to go be a financial advisor. I’d interviewed with all of the names, Ed Jones, Ameriprise, John Hancock, kind of those organizations, a lot of people get into the business with. And he’s like, “Hey, if you’re quitting your job, there’s this tiny little company called Advisors Excel. They just started in Topeka, Kansas. You should go interview with those guys.” And so, that was how I got to Advisors Excel and little did I know what was in front of me and what was in front of the company because I joined as the 12th employee, this tiny little sleepy company, more of a startup, which is today the largest fixed brokerage company of annuities in the country, a top-five brokerage company with life insurance and one of the fastest-growing wealth management firms. So, now we’re, I think, closing it on 700 employees.
And so, it’s just crazy that a little over a decade that’s happened, but along this ride, basically what the company did was we would work with advisors like yourself and we would really our value proposition was only work with the best, the top 1% to 2% in our industry and then really dive in very deep almost as an entrepreneurial coach, which was very unique and distinct in a brokerage type of industry. Nobody was doing that at the time. Hindsight, a lot of them are doing it now or trying to but that was what was really to your question, I have what I call this kind of this 30,000-foot view over the industry where I really had an accelerated learning curve where I can see a lot of different practices, ones that were growing, ones that were prospering, ones that weren’t. And really we have a saying around here, success leaves clues, and it was taking some of the best practices and just sharing those among our group of advisors like a mastermind, where you get a bunch of really smart, intelligent people trying to grow a practice that serves their clients at the highest level and just sharing best practices across the group. So long answer, but that’s really where I’ve been living for the last decade-plus a lot of conversations with a lot of amazing practices, of which obviously, you run one as well.
Casey Weade: And how many advisors do you believe you have spoken to or coached over the years worked with?
Brad Johnson: Well, the Gladwell rule 10,000 hours, which I know some people agree with, some people don’t, I have to have put in 20,000 hours plus. I mean, basically all day every day I’m on for the most part coaching calls either Zooms, conversations like this where it’s a video. Back in the day, it was over the phone, and then advisors would be faxing me their paperwork so that kind of shows you where I started that how long ago that was, but thousands and thousands of hours at this point and hundreds of advisors for sure.
Casey Weade: Yeah. I think it’s just an amazing position that you’re sitting in that people get to lean on and kind of see behind the curtain, as we’ve said over and over again to our audience how important that is to really understand what’s going on back there. And I think this is just a great jumping-off point to dive in to one of our fan questions that we had come in those individuals that sign up for our weekend reading emails and email that we send out every single Friday, a collection of four articles, current retirement trends. We also invite them to ask our guest questions and I think the question that we got here gives us a great lead and just go in so many different ways. This question comes from Janet Ryan and Janet says, “Our financial advisor has never really given us a customized plan. Instead, he plugs our information into a,” they say the name of the firm that they’re working with, a large brokerage firm. They plug that information to this large brokerage firm’s program and uses that as the plan. “When we meet, he generally only talks about the stock market. My husband and I are both 61 and realize we probably need someone more strategic. What are the most important attributes we should be looking for and how do you identify the person who can help on a more customized basis?” Let’s start with that first one, what are the most important attributes we should be looking for? Or you take it any way you want. What kind of advice would you give someone like this to Janet? And what would you say to Janet Ryan at this point in their lives and what they’re going through?
Brad Johnson: So, this is such, number one, an amazing question and there are so many places we can go with this one. So, I think I’m going to start with an analogy and then we’ll see where we want to take it from there. So, the first thing that you need to start to think about when you go into a financial advisor’s office is do they have access to all of the tools? And so, I’m going to use the analogy of building a home because I think Janet said customized or some sort of customized plan. I didn’t write down the word.
Casey Weade: A basic plan or something more strategic.
Brad Johnson: Yes, strategic so strategic around her and her husband, customized, built for them, she mentioned they just kind of plug something into a website and then they talk about stocks. Right? So, this was the first big eye-opening moment early in my career. I assumed that when you walk into a financial advisor’s office, it was similar to walking into a doctor’s office. Right? And so, let’s say my elbow hurts. Immediately, I think most individuals, “Oh, worst-case scenario, what’s screwed up? Do I have cancer?” and some people just freak out. It’s honestly not that different than how a lot of people think about their finances. There’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of uncertainty. So, you walk into this doctor’s office, your elbow hurts. A great doctor, what’s the first thing they’re going to do? Do they reach over and grab the prescription pill bottle and say, “Here you go. This is our best prescription. Everybody takes this one,” i.e., do they tell you about their favorite stocks? No. A great doctor asks a lot of questions. They diagnose. They figure out the symptoms, right? Where’s your elbow hurt? Show me. How long does it hurt? Were you doing something that caused it to hurt? Are there any activities? Where it keeps hurting? Check your blood pressure maybe.
And so, they would take a lot of time asking questions, diagnosing, figuring out the symptoms and maybe, immediately, they’re like, “Oh, I’ve seen this 100 times before.” They write you a prescription. You go to your local pharmacy and you fill the prescription or if it’s a complex situation, you look at serious medical issues, they’re going to take the time to actually sort through and diagnose and look at X-rays and all of these other things, and then they’re going to get back to you. They’re going to call you back into their office. So, long answer to Janet here, but that’s the way a great financial advisor works. What they do, I just did a podcast with Carl Richards and he summed it up beautifully. He said, “Your clients don’t come in speaking to financial advisors.” Your clients don’t come in for products. They come in because of their problems. No different than you go into a doctor’s office. You don’t just show up to a doctor’s office, “Hey, I wanted to hang out for an hour.” You go in because there’s issues/concerns you have around your health. They ask you a lot of questions and a great doctor thoroughly diagnoses you and then gives you the best medicine to fix the problem, very similar to a financial advisor.
So, if you’re going into a financial advisors office and they’re immediately leading with their favorite product, whether that’s an annuity, whether that’s a life insurance policy, whether that’s their favorite asset manager, “Oh, everybody, this is the tactical asset management that we use because it’s the best,” without asking a lot of questions and thoroughly diagnosing you, I would walk out of the office and I would go somewhere else. That just me being honest and real.
Casey Weade: So, what do you think that experience should look like when you’re first meeting with a financial advisor for the first time? What should you be hoping for specifically in that visit? And are there red flags? We go, “Okay, outside of them, just saying this is the best product for us to use and diving right into the product not asking the right question. What other things might you look for during that first visit or what would you hope to get out of that first visit if you were looking for a financial advisor, Brad?”
Brad Johnson: As the prospective client, I think there’s a great rule. You should do most of the talking on the first visit. So, if you find that the advisor is 75% of the conversation, 90% of the conversation, going back to how do you diagnose somebody if you’re not asking them questions, right? So, a lot of our clients will name that first visit to the office. They’ll call it a discovery session because that’s what it should be. It should be a lot of questions. And if you’re not getting asked a lot of questions in the first visit, how do they know your individual situation? I’ll compare it to kind of analogy we use a lot in our coaching is it’s kind of like building a home. Building a financial plan has a lot of similarities to building a home. So, I’ll go back to Janet. Basically, the home she was being built was it reminds me of those neighborhoods you see in big cities, where you drive around the neighborhood and every house is identical, right? They’ve got the same blueprint and literally, it’s like build it and they’re just like hammering out neighborhoods. And so basically, if she’s going in, something’s getting plugged into a computer and 30 minutes later, boom, here’s your plan, there’s no customization going on there. It’s just like these little box houses that they’re just building one after the other, right?
So, basically, they’re selling the same thing to everyone, essentially. So, flip that to if you were going to build a custom home. You would sit down with an architect. You would say, “Well, we’ve been saving up for a dream home. We’ve got the land picked out. It’s over here.” And then they’d say, “Okay, cool. Well, tell me about the structure. What’s that look like?” Well, we want a ranch. We love ranches. We love the way those lay out. We want vaulted ceilings. We want a super open kitchen because we want to entertain there. We want a great big deck because we love to barbecue. And by the way, we’ve got grandkids. We want a cool pool area. We want to entertain out there. We want all kinds of these family moments to be able to be experienced out there, right? And so, essentially, you would paint a picture of this structure. What is the purpose of it existing and how is it going to serve you and create moments and emotions and family and experience? And they wouldn’t be able to plug into a computer. All of this and 30 minutes later, here’s your blueprint. They would have to take a lot of notes, actually, go think of this out and conceptually build it on whatever software they used to build it, and then they call you back in.
And you talk about this at a high level. And they’d say, “What do you think Casey? Are we going down the right path here or…?” And you say, “Yeah, we love that, but change this. Change that,” and that’s a lot like an amazing financial planner or the best financial plans is there’s a lot of questioning upfront and then no different than a home, a great financial plan, it’s built to serve you. Money is just a tool. So, how do we deploy this tool to create experiences in retirement that you want, more time with the grandkids, checking off bucket list trips? That’s what retirees from my experience typically want. They want, “How do I remove the anxiety where I know I can buy that plane ticket once a year, go visit my son that moved half a country over and he’s got three little grandbabies that I want to make sure I see at a minimum for at least a week a year? And I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to have anxiety around buying a plane ticket. I just want to know it’s built right into my plan and it’s like clockwork.”
So, once again, I’m giving you a really long answers here but I want to paint a picture because I think sometimes people like this world of finance, it’s overwhelming, it creates anxiety, there’s conflicting headlines all over the news or whatever website you’re on and sometimes they forget to just simplify it. Money is a tool. Utilize that tool, deploy that tool to create the experiences in retirement that you seek out and bring you happiness and joy and then just make sure you’re working with somebody that understands what you’re trying to accomplish. Stephen Covey’s start with the end in mind. They need to know where they’re going and then no financial plan is perfect, because nobody can predict the market but it’s like GPS, if you take a wrong turn, it’s going to redirect you back on the path assuming the advisor knows where you’re going and you know where you’re going. So that, to me, is an amazing financial plan and you can’t just snap your fingers, plug it in a website, and 15 minutes later, here’s your plan. It has to be custom because every retiree is a little different.
Casey Weade: Well, I love what you said. I mean, there’s a lot of good stuff there even the whole experience thing. I mean, focusing on the experiences you ultimately want to get out of this. That takes some time. That takes somebody really asking the right questions and getting to know you. We had George Kinder, the Kinder Institute on a previous episode and he said, “You cannot fulfill your role as a fiduciary advisor with the legal responsibility to do the best thing for your clients if you don’t really know what drives them, what those passions are, what those experiences are that they’re ultimately looking for.” And I think that’s so true and I love the whole house analogy. I think there’s a time in your life when you need that box home, you need that spec home. I mean, for my wife and I, we lived in one apartment, we lived in another apartment, we lived in another apartment, and then we’ve moved into a spec home and a couple years ago we bought our dream home. And when we did that, we didn’t just walk in, we didn’t even just fill out a piece of form and send it into our architect.
We had an amazing architect that we sat down with. We explained as you did, well, we want the living room to be the largest space. We want to be able to be in the kitchen and play with the kids all at the same time. We want to have a small bedroom because we just sleep then. We don’t need a massive bedroom, make it as small as possible, make it cozy, make it for us and that architect really spent a lot of time not just asking us what we wanted out of the home which I think sometimes we meet with a financial advisor, we tell them, “Well, we want to make 6% a year. We want $6,000 a month in income,” but it’s more than that. With him, it wasn’t just him saying, “Okay. Well, that’s what you want. This is what you’re going to get.” It was, “Let me meet your kids. How many kids are you going to have? How long are you going to live in this home? What kind of experiences do you have?” I mean, who’s really asking those types of questions. You don’t really expect even an architect to ask you for that matter and we did most of the talking. I think that’s one of your greatest points. You should do most of the talking during that first visit. If that advisor’s just puffing his chest, beating his chest, and doing all the talking, then it’s probably another good reason to move on.
You’ve explained what you expect that first visit to look like. Now, I wonder what’s it look like as we progress. I know one of the things you work with and coach advisors through is how that meeting structure should look like from first appointment to ultimately becoming a client and then setting up some type of review schedule. What do you think that relationship progression should look like?
Brad Johnson: So, yeah, we went pretty deep on the first visit so call that a discovery session. So, they’re asking a lot of questions and I’ll keep bouncing back and forth between the doctor because I think everybody understands a doctor’s appointment. So, that’s like the first time you go in and see a doctor and they ask you about your symptoms and start to diagnose and understand the issue. So, that’s the first visit. The second visit a lot of our offices will call this kind of an overview session and let’s go back to the architect because I think this is a great analogy. So, you sat down with the architect. You told them what your dream home, all of the different pieces of the puzzle, right? They would come back to a second visit and now the blueprint is drawn. Okay. And this is first take, so this is a rough draft. This is not the final plan. And I think that’s another thing, a tip I would give the listeners is one thing you need to remember, this is your money. This is not the advisor’s money. So, in the end, you have full control and decision but to your point, as you were mentioning the architect you work with, Casey, he had done this enough times, he was seeing things that you never thought of, right? Like, “Let me meet your children. How many of you plan on having? Oh, so this home is going to need to go through little kids stage all the way through big kids stage,” right?
And a great financial advisor that’s been a lot of these plans will know, “Okay, so you’re 60 so this plan is going to need to evolve 85, 90 years old.” And so, in that second visit, what it should look like is it should be a simplistic view. Simplistic is the key here. Great advisors simplify the complex. You should not walk out of an advisor’s office after that second visit and have a laundry list of questions that you wrote down on a piece of paper that you need to go research. Go do Google, like you’re writing a college paper. What it should look like is it should go back to the problems. It should be very problem-focused and say a common problem we see. Do I have enough? A lot of retirees they work, they go through their working years, and those are the years where, honestly, those box plans, it’s not necessarily bad. Like, their guy helped them through those accumulation years which was stashed some money away, every paycheck, put it in the 401(k), whatever their saving vehicle was to where someday, literally, I’ve made it. I can retire, I can put in my two weeks. I kind of compare that to you’ve climbed Mount Everest, you’re now at the peak, and you’re standing there with the flag and you’re victorious.
Well, the issue is, that’s only half the battle. The other half of the battle is how the heck do I get back down the mountain now? And so, for retirees, we call this the distribution phase. So, going back to the number one problem, a lot of retirees they’re looking at their 401(k), it’s $1 million, $2 million, whatever they’ve stashed away and they’re like everything was done for me to this point. You know, I just had to show up to work. It auto fed into my 401(k). The paycheck showed up in the bank account. I just had to pay my bills, show up to work, and pretty much everything else was on autopilot, right? Well, now, they retired. It’s time for the distribution phase where now that million-dollar nest egg has to last them the rest of their life. That’s where anxiety creeps in. Right? Uh-oh, how do I do that? I have no clue. And so, that’s why that number one concern a lot of times we hear is do I have enough? Is this million dollars enough? How much can I spend? I don’t want to overspend and run out of money and have to move in with my kids but at the same time, I don’t want to understand and now I die with a million bucks in the bank that I never got to take the trips that I wanted to take.
So, going back to appointment two, a great advisor will say, “Hey, I noticed the last time we got together, Joe and Mary, your biggest concern at the end of the day, and we kind of talked this through and it was kind of like a family counseling session which is what a lot of these meetings turned into and your number one concern was, “Joe, you wanted to make sure no matter what happens, Mary’s taken care of when you’re gone. And I know it’s been a week since the last time we got together and I’m sure you’ve had some conversations since then. “I just want to check back in. Is that still the absolute number one concern you have that we’re trying to make sure we solve for as we build your financial plan?” And Joe is going to look at Mary and he’s going to say, “Yeah, that’s my number one concern.” “Okay, great. Well, I’m excited because I’ve had my team working here and we haven’t built the full plan because you haven’t asked us to.” So, going back to the architect, right, he’s just built the blueprint, which is a high-level 30,000-foot overview of the structure. He hasn’t picked out the granite countertops yet. That’s way too far.
So, if that advisor now is going, “I’ve got my favorite annuity. I’ve got my favorite asset manager,” in that second visit, be careful because, at that point, it’s structure. It’s simplistic. Is this the problem we’re solving for? And our very best offices to go back to simplifying the complex, they’re slowing down, they’re taking their time, they’re educating their clients, hey, we’ve got two or three strategies we typically use to solve for this income gap and here’s kind of where you are today. Here’s the before. I’m using my, for those on video, my props here. “Here’s the before picture in my left hand and here’s what we think can be the after picture. Now, we don’t know yet because I haven’t put my team to work and it’s going to take a few hours to custom build this plan for you just like it would to custom build a blueprint for a home. But I want to make sure are we going down the right path here. This is where you’re at today but this is where you said you want to be over here. Does that make sense? Are we going down the right path?” “Yeah, that’s exactly the path.”
So, kind of this before and after snapshot like an infomercial, right? You’ve got to look at how every piece of exercise equipment I think in the history of the world has been sold. You’ve got this typically middle-aged guy that’s overweight, super grumpy and horrible lighting. That’s the before picture and then they’re like, “Oh, buy our Bowflex.” And then here’s the after picture, six months later, six-pack abs like super confident, chest puffed out. That’s what I think a great second visit should look like. It should be, “Here’s your current situation,” and you said you have issues with that. You said you had a problem with that. Now, we haven’t built your plan yet because you haven’t asked us to but looking two or three common strategies we’ve used in other financial plans and other retirees that had that same issue, here’s approximately where we think we could get you to. Does that look about right? Are we solving? Would you be confident in a plan like that if we were able to do that for you? And confirming that and if that’s a yes, okay, great. Once the commitment’s made, which is typically where most clients are going to say, okay, yes, build the plan for me, essentially, that’s like hiring the architect. Okay, I’m hiring you or maybe the general contractor would be a better way to put it if you’re building a home, “Hey, architect, get with the general contractor. It’s time to break ground.”
So, most of our offices at the end of that second visit, once they’ve kind of done the 30,000-foot view, that’s when they’re going to engage in the plan either pay the fee for the plan, move the assets to engage the plan, whatever that in-office how they kind of put the plan into action. That’s typically where they take it from.
Casey Weade: And I think there’s a big difference I think as far as you’re saying that you haven’t picked out the granite yet, right? I think when you typically build a custom home, you’re kind of picking some of those things along the way. It’s not we’re going to pick out the exact flooring, we’re going to pick out the granite countertops, we’re going to pick out the cabinet manufacturer. We don’t know every little thing and every detail. When we start building that home, it develops over time once we’ve really figured out what we’re working with and where we want to go. Now, I want to make sure that we don’t miss out on I can just hear Janet right now going, “Answer my question. You’ve told me really what I should be looking for as far as what that first visit should look like, what that advisor should be doing, how the plan should be built, how that experience should go.” However, I think most people are going, “Yeah. But how do I find that individual? How do I recognize the difference between someone that’s just going to throw me into a spec home versus building out a custom house?” This is, for me, one of the most frustrating things in our industry is it’s nearly impossible to tell what one financial advisor specializes in over what another financial advisor specializes in.
My own family, I think they’re just now figuring out what I do. I mean, how many years have we’ve been going on? My wife, her family, we get married and I’m telling somebody what I do, and they go, “Oh, yeah, Casey’s a financial advisor or Casey sells investments.” “No. No, that’s wrong. That’s what your guy does. I do something completely different.” But I think all advisors, in general, they get lumped into one bucket and they all look the same. So, if you’re going to say, “Janet, okay, this is how you find someone that’s going to build you a customized plan in a strategic way,” what would you say to them?
Brad Johnson: And these are simple questions with big answers.
Casey Weade: As we were getting started for this, we did a little pre-interview and I said, “You know, I want to be raw. I want to ask some really hard questions. I’ve gotten some really hard questions lately and I want to tackle them.”
Brad Johnson: Yeah, no, I love that we’re going here because it would be overwhelming as I can’t imagine being a retiree out there right now, if I hadn’t grown up in this industry and kind of you see the saying, you see how the sausage is made. And most retirees have never had that experience so I can just imagine the anxiety and the unknowns out there and even being in this industry, it is almost impossible. Like how do you know this individual is a good financial advisor? Because so much of our industries around how you market yourself, right? And so, let’s go back to the homebuilding. We’re just going to kill this analogy. We’re going to run it straight into the ground today. So, let’s just say I’m presenting and I go over here on the left-hand side. And I say, “Hey, I’m the financial advisor for you. We build amazing homes and you’re going to love them.” And Janet’s like, “Oh, sounds good, Brad. I think I want to build a home with you.” And then right as she’s getting ready to sign on the dotted line to engage my services, I say, “Hey, Janet, one quick thing before we get started, I just want you to know, the way we build our homes, we’ve got this thing we don’t use hammers. So, I want to make sure you’re okay with that.” And Janet’s like, “What? How are you going to nail the boards together without a hammer and a nail gun, you know, something to take a nail and put it through two boards to pin them together?”
“Well, we just use saws. We found a way to construct the house. We don’t use hammers. We only use saws.” Okay. You’re never going to sign up with that home builder. You’re like, “This guy’s crazy or this gal is crazy.” I see it all day every day in financial services. They might be just insurance licensed and nothing against that individual. There’s a lot of great insurance-focused advisors out there but if you’re looking to build a holistic plan, a full-like home in this analogy, you want all the tools in the toolbox. So, that might be one side, right? Here’s somebody that’s just insurance-focused. They’re not securities licensed. You go over to the other side of the stage. So, Janet’s like, “Forget that guy. I think that’s a little out there. I think you need a hammer if you’re going to build a home.” So, she goes over this other office. And this guy’s like, “Ah, I build beautiful homes.” Oh, Janet’s ready to sign up. “Real quick before you do that, Janet. We don’t use saws in our construction.” “Huh? Like you don’t use any?” “No, anything that cuts a board in two we just don’t believe in it. It’s just not how our company runs.” Well, in this analogy, that’s a lot of fee-only advisors. It’s crazy. I wouldn’t have believed this until I started a podcast for financial advisors and I’ve connected with a lot of them.
There’s financial advisors out there that manage 500 million-plus, a billion-plus of assets, not insurance-licensed. So, you know, the saying and this is cliché but it works with the analogy, to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I said isn’t so much…
Casey Weade: I just had a conversation recently, I got to interject, as I had a conversation recently with a local – it was an insurance broker mainly focused on long-term care sales called us and he talked to me on the phone for a long time. One of the things he said was, “I’m not securities-licensed. I don’t do any stocks, bonds, mutual funds.” He said, “I don’t believe that someone, once they reach retirement age, should have any money at risk.” And then at the other end of the extreme, I think what you’re saying it’s like you’ve got individuals out there that will say the opposite and these are typically your local brokers that are securities only or have very limited access to insurance products and they’ll say, “You know, we believe you have to have all your money in the market when you get to retirement.” Interest rates are too low. You have to have everything in the market. We don’t believe in life…
Brad Johnson: Without it in the market, it’s not going to keep up with inflation through your 20-year retirement.
Casey Weade: So, if that’s the key, if we’re trying to find someone that has all these different tools, how do we recognize that person? Where do we go to find that person that’s most people don’t know what a Series 65 or a Series 66, 67 or life, health, annuity license, you know, what type of licensing should they have? Where do we find out what kind of licenses they have? It’s so hard to read through all the marketing BS that’s out there.
Brad Johnson: I’m trying to think, Casey, like if I’m a retiree, what’s the most simplistic way to do this? I think it’s an open dialogue. It’s, number one, you can check licensing websites, right? So, you can check to see if an individual is insurance-licensed. BrokerCheck’s a good way where you can check to see if the individual you’re working with is securities-licensed and what securities licenses they hold. So, to your point, a Series 65 allows an advisor to charge a fee to manage your assets, which is really the trend we’ve seen in the industry, especially the last 10 years where it’s kind of like you and the advisor on the same team, right? They charge a fee on your assets as your assets grow. They benefit, you benefit. But I also think it’s an open dialogue with the advisor because a lot of advisors have these biases, they don’t even know they have them. It’s insane to me but I’ve been in so many of these conversations because think about like if you grew up and you were raised in a Christian family, well, obviously you’re probably Christian and your bias goes towards being a Christian. And that’s great, right? That’s the core of who you are. It’s your identity. It’s no different in financial services.
If somebody came into the business and they were trained in an insurance-focused firm where they were basically taught insurance is good, everything else is bad, it’s really hard to un-train that. And a lot of advisors look through this lens of this world where that’s just how it is. On the flip side, if they came into some brokerage firm where they were just taught, I just manage assets. Only the stock market is good. Everything else is bad. Commissions are bad. You should never do anything commission-based. Well, now they’re looking through a very different lens. From my experience, retirees don’t care. What they want is like going back to the tool analogy, I want to know Casey and his team of advisors have this massive toolbox sitting at their feet full of all of these financial tools, every single one in the world. Because as a fiduciary, which is a term that gets thrown around a lot in our industry, and unfortunately, it’s become a marketing term now, but as a fiduciary, the definition is, Casey and his team are legally obligated to do what’s in your best interest. Well, how do you do that if you only have half the tools in the toolbox and you’ve eliminated half of the financial tools in the world? Are you like I’m a fiduciary with only half the options?
To me, the best advisors, I would ask them in that first visit as a fiduciary, do you have access to all of the tools out there? And I would probably say, “Can you manage my assets for a fee? Can you offer insurance products like life insurance, annuities that would create income streams or help with wealth transfer when it’s all said and done?” And I would probably go down a list of a handful of different options, different tools, and I’d say, “What are your thoughts? How do you feel about that? Have you used those in other plans?” And I would interview them a little bit because you should. It’s a really important decision. But, yeah, I could stay very passionate down this topic, but to me, it’s always beneficial to the retiree, to the client, to have more options rather than less and making sure that that advisor takes the time to thoroughly research all the options. Back to our analogy on hammer and saw, what’s the most efficient tool to get the job done? And all of these biases, there’s bad mutual funds, there’s bad annuities, there’s bad asset managers. So, if you’ve read an article that says, “Annuities are bad, life insurance is bad, mutual funds are bad,” it’s probably a marketing piece by an advisor that sells the other thing.
So, be very cautious when you’re clicking on headlines because the truth is there’s good and bad products in every single different financial tool and the best advisors will thoroughly research and say, “Hey, here’s the best-in-class that actually serves your need here and most efficiently fix that.” I’ll wrap here. Going back to the nest egg standing on the top of Mount Everest, a great advisor is not going to say, “Hey, you have $1 million. Let’s put 999,000 into an annuity. You’re set for life now.” Well, they just over-allocated to a tool most likely without knowing an individual financial situation, because most advisors are going to say, “Hey, you’ve got this million-dollar nest egg. Let’s carve out enough over here to solve for that income gap so regardless of what the market does, bull market, bear market, up, down sideways market, you can always spend with confidence because you’ve now created your own form of a pension-like income-driven off of, I mean, look at social security. Just another word for an annuity that the government pays you, right? So, I think the key is taking the most efficient tool to solve the need, but there shouldn’t be an over allocation. It should be a nice balance across multiple tools to get the job done.
Casey Weade: And that really goes back to our planning philosophy, which is the purpose-based retirement. We’re looking at the need, right? If your goal is what you say, “I don’t need any income. I need to have growth and I’m going to need this to grow. Twenty years from now I’m going to need income.” Well, then why would you put it on annuities? It should probably be in the market because it’s going to need to grow for the next 20 years. If you say, “Well, I don’t need it at all,” then maybe it should be set aside for legacy purposes. Maybe a large portion to be in life insurance are offering long-term care protection. We should be looking at multiple different tools to solve whatever that need is. Is it for income? Is it for long-term growth? Is it for long-term care? Is it for legacy purposes? Is this your emergency fund? And getting to that endpoint, point B, in the most efficient way possible. And I think one of the things that’s unique about Advisors Excel and the individuals that you’re coaching, I’m thinking of this, you guys are offering all those different tools from Medicare, long term care, life insurance, annuities, securities, you’ve got all those different tools, and you only work with independent advisors.
And so, with one of the keys to finding an individual who can offer a truly customized plan, have all of those tools, do they have to be independent in order to accomplish that? And if that is the case, they need to be independent, how do you recognize one advisor that’s independent and one that is not independent? I mean, I have heard captive advisors say, “We are an independent advisory practice of blah, blah, blah.” They’re not independent. They’re still working for a brokerage firm. What is an independent advisor? Is that important?
Brad Johnson: Very. So, and I’m just going back to all these conversations I’ve had over the years. I’m not going to throw stones at anyone on this, but I’ll just say I’ve talked with advisors from very large broker dealers that would be very recognizable. And it goes back to so let’s go back to the beginning of this question, independent advisor, how do you identify that? Well, if you can, first thing you can do is you can go to a financial advisor’s website, scroll all the way down to the bottom and there will be a disclosure at the very bottom. That’s huge but a little tight. Yeah.
Casey Weade: That’s how I do it. Every time I hear a new advisor come on the radio or TV or somebody new in town and I wonder if this guy is independent. It’s impossible to tell unless you go to the website, you scroll all the way down, like you said, look at that fine print.
Brad Johnson: So, go down to the bottom and it’s going to say this representative he’s a registered representative of XYZ company. And if you can search for that company and they’re publicly traded, just know they can say they’re independent, but what do publicly traded companies, who do they serve? Shareholders, right? So, even though they may have a lot of options, what you’re going to be looking at is they work for a firm that serves shareholders. Shareholders want profit, right? So, as an independent, the difference is, Casey, the entrepreneur created a firm and he’s added advisors to the team. And what that looks like is Casey’s obviously he isn’t a for-profit business so he’s going to also run a profitable business, but the only people he really has to serve to do that are his clients. You’ve got to serve your clients at the highest level because guess what, if you do a great job, they’re going to refer more people, they’re going to tell others about you, and you’re going to grow a firm rapidly by doing that.
So, I think what’s really interesting is some of the largest firms out there when I have behind-the-scenes conversations on the phone with advisors that work with these, there’s frustrations because we offer essentially every annuity under the sun in the United States of America in the fixed space. And pretty much every life insurance policy because we’re a very large brokerage company so we’ve got access to a lot of products. And there will be frustration from these advisors that work with captive firms. They’re like, “That’s an awesome product. I want to offer that to my clients.” I’m like, “Sorry. Your group does not allow that. It’s not on their approved product list.” So, their clients without even knowing it don’t have access to one of the best products or the best tools that exist out there to serve that need, but they don’t even know because it’s never on the menu for them because their firm hasn’t approved it. And so, that’s the beauty of independence. It’s kind of like if I was shopping for laundry detergent, I could go to quick shop. I’d probably paid twice as much and they’d have tied and that’s about it, right?
They’ve got the product on the shelf, but they’ve got limited selection or I could go to Walmart and look down the aisle and there’s like a whole, I mean, as almost as far as a football field, there’s a shelf of laundry detergent as far as the eye can see. To me, that’s a great analogy of the difference between kind of a captive organization versus an independent because as an independent if Casey sees a product that he wants to offer, they can put it on the shelf. It might only get one sale a year for that one client that needs that specific thing but it can sure sit on the shelf, no problem. He’s got plenty of shelf space. So, to me, that’s the difference. The easiest way for most of your listeners to go and check that out, go to the very bottom. And you’ll be able to see also BrokerCheck is another way and if they’re big-name firms just know that they’re technically a captive advisor that has probably limited options from my experience.
Casey Weade: Like the one thing you said, you know, if there’s that one client out of 100 in any given year that needs that particular product and they’re the only one out of 100 that needs that particular tool, then you have the ability to get licensed and offer that tool just for that one individual. And I am licensed with dozens and dozens of different carriers and that can be quite burdensome. I feel like I’m getting licensed with a new carrier every three to five days.
Brad Johnson: It’s a full-time job just to stay licensed.
Casey Weade: There’s something I want to go back to though, which you mentioned the word team when you were talking about working with an advisor and going through that process in that second visit, hey, it’s going to take us a while to finalize and finish the build as our team is going to put in a lot of hours on this. And that word team might be a unique thing to some people. I know when I first got started, it was just myself for the longest time. It was just myself and one assistant and then we added another advisor and I look back at that, and I go, “Wow, I can’t believe people hired me as just this one guy, right? I mean, what if something happens to me or what other opinions so how much value are they getting just out of me? You know, I think I’m a pretty smart guy but there’s other pretty smart guys too and gals and I think a team approach is so much more value. We get so much more input from other individuals. If you think a team approach is the right thing to do, how big does that team need to be in order to deliver the right degree of confidence to the client? What should that team look like?
Brad Johnson: So, yeah, on the team front, one of our advisors that has built a substantial firm on the East Coast, Joel, who obviously you’ve spent some time with, he has this little thought process kind of a question who asked a lot of our advisors like what happens to your business tomorrow if you’re walking across the street and you get hit by a bus? And there’s a lot of aspects to that. Number one, what happens to Casey’s family if there’s not a business in place, right? You want to make sure your wife and children are taken care of so there’s the aspect from the advisor standpoint then there’s the aspect from your client standpoint. If Casey’s the sole guy and he gets hit by a bus, what happens? Like the door shut basically, right? And so, I think for most of our what I would say, top tier officers, they do look at a team-based approach because it delivers more value to the client and it’s creating a business. We do a lot of coaching where you want to transition from financial advisor to CEO. And because if Casey sits in the CEO seat, which I know you’ve done a lot of work on transitioning to leading a team, right, running a company, culture, all of that, that goes into a great business, because now you can exponentially deliver more value to your clients. It’s kind of like McDonald’s, right?
Why can’t McDonald’s have a hamburger that tastes the same? You can buy it. My kids, we’re in Prague and they’re like, “Can we go to McDonald’s, dad?” I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve failed as a parent,” right? Hey, hamburger tastes good in Prague the same way. The hamburger tastes the same in Prague as it does in Kansas, right? Well, that’s because they’ve created a process that is so systematic and so dialed in, that an 18-year-old kid can run it from the front of the store. So, what I see a lot of our offices spend a lot of time in, purpose-based retirement. You’ve taken the time, you’ve taken the training, you’re a CFP. I know that’s a big thing for your team. You want to continue to have a CFP standard internally for all of your advisors. So, you’ve educated yourself on how is a proper financial plan built and now you’ve created a system internally where you walk your advisors through how to build the plan the same way to a high standard every time. It’s not that different than McDonald’s. Right? So, McDonald’s, I’m not saying McDonald’s has the best hamburger but they deliver the same product over and over and over. And so, the beauty of that is if Casey gets hit by a bus, guess what? There’s a team of advisors that know how to build the hamburger the same way in this analogy.
And so, now the next question is how big is your dream as the CEO, as the advisor? How many people do you want to serve? What’s your vision? You want this legacy company that’s going to change America? And like I want like a McDonald’s that’s on every street corner. So, the next thing is how big is big enough? The question I think really comes back to the advisor, how many people do you want to serve? And how good is the hamburger? McDonald’s had to have a good enough hamburger where people demanded it, they wanted it, so that’s why there’s a franchise in every little city, right? So, if the recipe is right where you’re adding value to the client and now you’ve got a systematic process, well, as I know, you’ve opened a second location. And so, now you’ve franchised, you’ve created your second McDonald’s franchise so you can serve more people and now you’ve got a well-trained staff that’s manning the second location to deliver the same experience. So, once you’ve really done all the work, really the sky’s the limit. I mean, there’s very large financial institutions in the United States of America that you see a lot of locations.
And one thing we talked before we went live, Casey, that I think it’s worth sharing here because you’re doing it and I love that you’re doing it. The future of financial advice to me we’re very brick-and-mortar still right now. Most retirees are like, “Oh, I’m going to go down to my local financial advisor’s office.” Well, look at how technology has changed everything for us. I mean, my dad and mom are ordering off Amazon now. They’re shipping my eight-year-old son’s present directly to our house because they’re like, “Well, I used to have to drive down to Walmart and then cart it in the back of my car when we drove to your house. I’ll just deliver it there. That’s easier.” So, technology has allowed brick-and-mortar, honestly, that’s why Walmart is struggling because Amazon’s eating their lunch right now. It’s a better experience. So, the future of financial advice to me will not work with your local financial advisor. You’ll work with the best financial advisor. And just like we’re recording this conversation, I’m in Kansas, you’re in Indiana. It’s virtual. It feels like we’re face-to-face. You’ll click a button. Once this is all edited up and now you’ve just syndicated this conversation worldwide. You can serve clients the same way.
You can pop up a Zoom like this with anybody in the United States of America. And I know that’s where it’s going. It’s just going to have to – it took a while for my mom and dad to be comfortable ordering off Amazon. There was this tipping point. You’re on the leading edge of that and I love that you’re putting the work into taking all of these different conversations that can serve retirees because, to me, that is the future of financial advice. People will seek out the knowledge and the people they best connect with their methodologies, their philosophies with money. It won’t be a local financial advisor in the future, in my opinion.
Casey Weade: I think that’s a pretty cool thing. We’ve got families that we’re now working with in Alaska and Hawaii, California, Massachusetts, Florida, just all over the country. And I think it’s just a matter of time before it’s, well now it’s Mexico and Central America and Europe.
Brad Johnson: That’ll be really interesting when someday it will be there. I wonder when. So, I was just out at Pebble Beach. My buddy, Derek, who you know had a 40th birthday and Pebble Beach was the most amazing experience. We’re at the end at Spanish Bay. You will meet the most eclectic mix of people just literally. I was having a glass of wine. The next thing I know, I’m talking to a group of like 15 guys from Australia. They were like 60 years old and they had a buddy’s trip they’d kept going every year since college or university, as they call it, right? And I was talking to this guy. He’s like, “What do you do?” And I was like, “Oh, you know, work with financial advisors, and typically retirement products.” And so, he starts asking me, “You know, what’s the market going to do? Is it going to correct?” I’m like, “Who knows? Nobody knows.” And I was like, “Well, you know, the cool thing is our company works with a lot of options to where when the market does correct, they still generate income regardless of,” and he’s like, “What’s that called?” And I’m like, “Oh, it’s this type of annuity.” And he’s like, “Does that exist in Australia?” And I’m like, “I don’t know. It should.”
So, it was really I think the future is, yeah, hopefully someday these products that only exist in certain countries are worldwide and you can serve everyone because It’s not just the people, the retirees in the United States of America that need help with the great financial plan. It’s everyone that’s of that age worldwide.
Casey Weade: Yeah. Such a cool thing as the world evolves. So, looking for the great advisor, right, we’ve addressed a lot from Janet.
Brad Johnson: That was a great question. It lasted us like 6 minutes.
Casey Weade: And so, you talked about licensing. Let’s make sure the advisor you’re working with is securities-licensed and insurance-licensed. They can handle your long-term growth. They can handle your risk mitigation due to that. Then you said make sure they’re independent so they’ve got the right licensing. They’re independent, so that they have all the tools at their disposal, and then make sure they’re utilizing those tools so they’re building a comprehensive plan and not just focusing on investment and not just focusing on income planning or long term care. They’re focusing on that big picture. Now, I know you and I discussed this. You get to see a lot of different advisors that came from a lot of different places with totally different backgrounds, education. For me, I think one of my biggest concerns for our industry is the lack of hurdles it takes to actually get into the business of offering financial advice. It’s not like being an attorney or a doctor.
What type of education level or what type of education should we be looking for if we’re working with a financial planner? I think quite often, it’s just totally overlooked. I mean, it was totally overlooked with my dad. My dad was, you know, in his 60s. He had been fairly successful and he looked like he knew what he’s talking about. And for the most part, he did. He had a lot of experience, but he had zero education. Nobody ever asked.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. That’s what’s so tough is we have these blanket statements in our industry and there’s such a wide spectrum of what that means. Financial advisor, what does that mean? How do you define it? Some people that aren’t securities licensed call themselves financial advisors. I think and this is the tough one. This is what our industry needs to fix because there isn’t a standard. I think the closest thing is a CFP but on the flip side of that, I’ve talked with CFPs that weren’t educated. They got their CFP 20 years ago and they didn’t stay up to speed on the new developments and the new planning opportunities that were out there. So, I really think as a retiree here’s probably the best way to do it going back to what Janet opened with. Show me an example of a sample financial plan that you’ve built for other people you’ve helped. Because to me, if you’re out there just selling products, what that’s going to look like or just managing assets, you’re going to pop up your favorite annuity statement and you’re going to say, “Oh, here’s the plan we put in place,” or you’re going to say, “Oh, here’s this 50-page book prospectus of my favorite mutual fund or my favorite asset management.”
It’s going to be very product-focused, where the people that are building holistic financial plans, what that’s going to look like. They’re going to pull out a binder or a lot of our offices are even starting to transfer a binder that was a hard copy with papers that’s kind of been the standard to an electronic version of that, an electronic financial plan that’s constantly updated based on market updates every day. But I would say, “Hey, can you show me a sample of a planner too that you’ve built for other individuals, obviously, take their name off of it so you’re not sharing client info.” But help me understand how you build that plan and what that looks like. Maybe if it’s somebody that has an income gap, like we do a strategy or two but I asked for like a sample because I know our top clients however they grow their business, whether that’s a radio show, obviously, you’ve got one, whether that’s public events where you speak to audiences, most times they’re talking about how they build a plan, purpose-based retirement in this instance and a lot of times, if they’re at a live event, they’re actually bringing a sample of it.
When we build the purpose-based retirement in world number one, we talk about liquidity or whatever those worlds consist of, I think that’s the best way is if you’re building a home, hey, let’s drive past a couple of homes that you’ve already built. Let’s walk through them and see what they look like. You’re going to get a sense of the quality of the craftsmanship. No different than if you’re taking a drive through a couple of plans that they’ve built, you’re going to get a sense of the craftsmanship. Is it just a veiled product pitch or is it an actual holistic plan that they’re building?
Casey Weade: That’s great. You know, I know we’re running out of time so I just want to wrap up with a couple of general questions. And that first one, I guess, this isn’t too general because this is specific to you. I’m a huge fan of your podcast. I have listened to every single episode that you’ve put out. I’ve listened to some of them more than once and I know a lot of other individuals that are big fans of the podcast so that have learned a lot from it. You’ve had over 60 interviews, I believe, with some of today’s brightest minds in the financial industry. What has been your biggest takeaway out of those 60 interviews?
Brad Johnson: The one that immediately jumps out that I’ve shared, literally, a podcast that changed my life with a guy named Don Yaeger. So, Don, he’s a New York Times bestseller. He wrote Walter Payton’s biography just before he died, actually lived with Walter for a little bit as he was on the last days of his life. So, basically, he has a really cool background, was the former assistant editor at Sports Illustrated. So anyway, so we were having a conversation and he told me a story. He had been sent out to cover so Shaquille O’Neal, Shaq was a rookie in the league, I believe. So, when was that? That have been early 2000s, probably. And he gets sent out, he finds out that Shaq and John Wooden, the famous UCLA coach, are doing like mentoring sessions. So, Don flies out to cover it, Sports Illustrated, and they got the permission that they could sit in on one of these sessions. So, Don’s flying out and he’s like, “I wonder what they’re going to be talking about basketball and how to be successful and how to have a career.” So, he sits in on this. They don’t talk about basketball at all. They talk about life, parenthood, like stuff that really matters, like sage wisdom from John Wooden. And at the end of this interview, Don’s just blown away like he’s sitting there like just soaking this all on and he was like cold.
And he goes up to Wooden and he says, “What would a guy like me have to do to mentor under a guy like you?” And Coach Wooden kind of like pauses and this is like 90-some-year-old Coach Wooden, right? “Well, you’d have to ask.” Simple answer, right? So, basically, that kicked off this long-time mentoring session. I think Don would fly out every couple of months and Wooden’s rule was, “This isn’t like a buddy session. As long as you come to me with questions you want answered, I will set aside the time to spend time having a conversation.” So, that was what Don did. And so, that went on for years. And towards the end of this conversation, Coach Wooden was getting old and Don was like, “I just want to make sure if this is the last time I see him that I leave things in a great place and I show him gratitude for everything he’s done for me.” And so, he says, “Hey, Coach Wooden, I just want you to know every time I leave your presence, I feel like I’m a better man.” Most of us would say, “Oh, you know, that means a lot. I appreciate that. I’ve loved these conversations as well.” Coach Wooden says, “You should make that your standard.”
And in that moment, it was powerful. But then when I rewound the conversation and like applied it to my own life, you know, we’ve all been idiots at certain times in our lives. You know, you look back at the college days and all that and it made me reassess and say, “You know, when I spend time with someone, do they leave a better person, like, am I building them up? Or am I tearing them down?” And I’ve definitely failed many times since then because I’m human but it created a new standard that I try to live by to where whoever’s paths I cross in this life, I want that experience to be a positive one. I want to add value to that experience. Because that’s just who I want to be in life and that like little story from Don Yaeger literally changed my perspective of how I view relationships with other people. And so, that was like my best thing and I pulled all kinds. I mean, when you have conversations with amazing, brilliant people that you aspire to be like in certain areas of your life, you pick up something from every conversation, but that was the one that immediately jumps out because it’s continued to replay. And that conversation was years ago at this point.
Casey Weade: I can tell that that’s definitely affected your life. Just in our interaction, we rarely have a conversation that is just surface level. We’re just talking, “Well, how was the basketball game yesterday?” or, “Did you see what happened on TV to watch Netflix special?” You know, it’s usually much more meaningful than that. And I would have two takeaways, I think, from that for those that are looking for an advisor or already in retirement heading into retirement. I think one is that, you know, we have to recognize all the experience that we have of 60 years, 70 years of life and entering retirement, those interactions that you’re having with other individuals that are younger than you. Maybe they are even older than you make sure you really recognize all that experience and try to offer that value in the form of asking really good questions you wish you would have been asked. When you were 20, 30, 40 years old, you have the opportunity to really change the world just out of utilizing that experience and asking the right questions. And I would also say, you know, as you’re looking for an advisor, you said all they had to do was ask. All he had to do was ask, wouldn’t it, if he could coach him.
And I think it’s difficult when you’re looking for an advisor, figuring out if you’re working with the right person, the best way to do that is to ask the people that are already working with that individual. But you don’t just put this select sample that the advisor hand-picked his three clients out of 100 that would actually say something nice about them. You want to go to an event. And that’s one of the things that as a fiduciary advisor, an investment advisor, unlike brokers, we’re not allowed to offer references, because, you know, we can hand-select them. And instead, we hold large events, right? Try to find an advisor that’s holding events of 100, 200, 300 people where they’re working with all these different people. And don’t be afraid to ask. Money is this taboo subject, but most individuals can’t wait to tell you about the experience they’ve had working with an advisor if it’s been a great experience. So, those would be my two big…
Brad Johnson: Or if it’s been a bad one. Either way, they’ll tell you.
Casey Weade: Right? They’re going to tell you.
Brad Johnson: Yeah.
Casey Weade: And if it’s just okay, then maybe that’s not the person you’re going to work with. Look for the extremes. I’ve got one last question for you and knowing that you are someone that specializes in working with advisors that specialize in working with retirees, you’re only working with retirement specialist. You have been coaching these advisors on retirement plans, retirement planning for many years. What does retirement mean to you?
Brad Johnson: So, I would define it the way I would define happiness. So, happiness is lack of wanting to be anywhere else, experiencing anything else. So, if you think about your happiest moments in life, it’s like you were where you wanted to be. Nowhere else in the world in that moment, right? And retirement to me is how many of those days can you string together in a row? And that might evolve. Yeah, I just got back from a trip to Europe with my family. So, my wife, our three kids so nine, eight, three and that we ended the trip with a Disney Cruise. And I loved every moment, I love my family but spend seven days in a Disney Cruise cabin with three kids under 10, it’ll test your love for people and your family. I came back and I was like because I think the grass is always greener on the other side, right? And it’s like, “Oh, I wonder if I could retire someday and just sail the world or hang out on the beach or whatever.” And I missed what I did for a living. I was like, I’m ready to get back on the mic and be on the podcast. I’m ready to do another coaching call.
And so, retirement, I think the old retirement where it was, you know, not the retirees of today. It was where you retired from that job. You had a pension and you sat on your front porch and the rocking chair and watch cars drive by. Like to me, retirement is if you love what you do, that’s partially retirement right there because you’re going into work, you’re happy, you’re fulfilled, you’re adding value. And so, to me, that’s retirement like I’m partially retired today because I love what I do. And I just want to throw some accolades back to you, Casey, because the way I see our industry and you’re like what advisor sits down and prepares these like deep thought out questions to help random retirees around the world you’ve never met before, right? And I do a podcast. Podcast take money to produce and the way I look at it is like I’m in a position where I coach advisors but those advisors, in turn, you, there’s this compound effect where you’re now changing retirees’ lives, helping them make decisions, navigating tough conversations they’ve often never even had with their own kids and you’re creating this compound effect. It doesn’t just impact the retiree. It impacts their kids.
A great financial plan is generational and their grandkids and allowing people to leave legacies behind. What noble work. I mean, other than maybe a physician that, you know, make sure you’re good your health or maybe your spiritual advisor that you’re good there. What more noble profession than this industry done the right way? And so, that is retirement to me. Happiness is lack of wanting to be somewhere else, doing what you love. And so, I’m partially retired today, I guess would be my…
Casey Weade: So, that’s funny timing for you to say that. I don’t know that I’ve heard that definition. Retirement is happiness. I had a consultant call me the other day. She had been trying to contact me all day and my scheduler kept saying, “Casey is busy. He doesn’t have time to meet with you right now.” And then finally I said, “You know, just throw her on 3:30. We’ll have a quick phone call.” And I answered the phone. She said, “Boy, it sounds like you’re really busy. I thought you were retired.” And I said, “No, I’m job optional. No, I didn’t have to do the things that I’ve been doing all day. I didn’t have to record two TV shows or radio show, a podcast, research articles to put in weekend reading and write commentary. I enjoyed doing all those things. And I chose to do it. It was a happy place for me to be and I didn’t have to.” And I think that is what the future retirement is. It isn’t just, as you said, “Well, I turned 65, I’m going to quit and I’m done.” It’s now I don’t have to do. I’m just going to do what I want to do. I’m going to do what makes me happy and I can do that because I’ve got the financial confidence to do it.
So, thank you for that definition. It really is helpful for me. I’m sure all these things have been so helpful for those listening in. Brad, maybe we’ll have you on again sometime in the future. Thanks for joining us.
Brad Johnson: Casey, it was an honor, man. Keep doing good work and I am so excited like this podcast I can’t wait five to 10 years. It’s going to be like the premier podcast for retirees. I think it’s already like in the mix and doing great work, having great conversations, and I’m excited to be a part of this conversation. So, thanks.
Casey Weade: All right. Thanks, Brad. Until next time.
Brad Johnson: All right. We’ll see you.