The Smart Take:
Fish mislabeling was once rampant in the US. Thought you were getting Red Snapper? Surprise! You get porgy or tile fish. Deceptive marketing for profits at best and exposing consumers to serious health risks, including food allergens and heavy metals in pregnant women at worst.
Sadly, many ‘financial advisors’ are similarly mislabeled and may cause financial harm. After all, you just need a 70% on a multiple-choice test and a high school diploma to become registered (and the high school diploma is optional.)
So how do you ensure you’re hiring a true professional: one who is both competent and trustworthy?
Listen to Kevin Kroskey, CFP® and special guest Tyler Emrick, CFP® share a behind-the-scenes conversation on the training (or lack thereof) they received when entering in the profession. Hear Tyler describe his journey from starting a top-10 firm (in terms of advisor headcount) where sales were prioritized over clients, and then spending a decade at one of the largest custodians where having in excess of 500 customers precluded personal relationships and quality advice. And learn why being a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER Professional is the minimum competency to be a professional, but is just the minimum and not indication the definition of a good advisor.
This inside-baseball-type conversation will shed light to help you become a more informed consumer and help you get your Red Snapper throughout your retirement.
Tyler’s Bio: https://www.truewealthdesign.com/team/tyler-emrick/
Need help making sure your investments and retirement plan are on track? Click to schedule a free 15-minute call with one of True Wealth’s CFP® Professionals.
1:45 – Tyler’s Background
5:14 – Fish Mislabeling
9:09 – Large Firm Experiences
15:17 – Lack Of High-Level Planning
20:48 – Seeking More
24:46 – Biggest Surprise When Working With Clients
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Intro: Welcome to Retire Smarter with Kevin Kroskey. Find answers to your toughest questions and get educated about the financial world. It’s time to Retire Smarter.
Walter Storholt: It’s another edition of the Retire Smarter podcast. Welcome. I’m Walter Storholt, alongside Kevin Kroskey, president and wealth advisor at True Wealth Design, serving you in northeast Ohio, the Greater Pittsburgh area, and southwest Florida. You can find us online at TrueWealthDesign.com. Kevin, great to be with you once again this weekend. How are you, sir?
Kevin Kroskey: Walter, it’s always my pleasure to be with you. I am doing fantastic. Definitely feeling good. A couple of episodes ago, I was sick and just coming out of it. And then, the last couple of times we recorded, I was happy the way it turned out, but I had this weird alert that kept going off through the recordings, called an egghead alert that you created apparently. So I’m intentionally going to dumb it down and just talk a little bit higher level, tell some stories, and maybe even be a little bit more relatable this episode.
Walter Storholt: Nice.
Kevin Kroskey: So I actually brought some help. So I invited Tyler Emrick from our office to join us and make sure that that alert didn’t go off.
Walter Storholt: That’s right. Tyler is going to keep us in check today. Tyler, thanks for joining us on the podcast today. Looking forward to talking with you.
Tyler Emrick: Yes, absolutely. Happy to be here.
Walter Storholt: So, Kevin, tell us a little bit about Tyler, and part of the Retire Smarter team, now here on the podcast, but a long-time member of True Wealth Design. What does Tyler bring to the table? I’m sure folks who have worked with the team probably already know Tyler well. But for those who maybe haven’t worked directly with you before, give us a little background.
Kevin Kroskey: Sure, I’ll do that. And part of what we’re going to talk about today, I’ll call it inside baseball, if you will, to being a financial planner. We will talk about some of the training, or lack thereof, that Tyler and I got early in our career and really pull the curtains back and just help people understand what financial planning is and maybe how to better select a financial planner. And we’ll actually do this in a two-part series. We’ll go over some interview questions in the next podcast that you should ask a financial planner.
But for Tyler specifically, he’s been with us almost three years now. Tyler is incredibly smart, very motivated, hardworking, and caring. And he’s a fantastic teammate. He’s also, for how smart he is, went through this kind of evolution in learning in our career. We all have. And sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know, having mentorship, all these things are really important, I think, for most people. That’s a little bit about Tyler, but we’re going to get to know him a lot more as we go through the story and pull back the curtains today.
Tyler Emrick: So Kevin’s right. I have definitely gone through quite a bit of change in my career. For those of you that are listening in the Ohio area, I grew up about 40 miles south of Columbus, Ohio, a two-traffic-light town. I think the running joke in the office, or at least Kevin likes to give me a bit of a hard time about, is I grew up with quite a bit of farm animals. I showed a hog and a goat at the county fair. So I figured I’d go ahead and get that one out of the way now. It probably would come up at some point here in our conversations.
Kevin Kroskey: Yeah, that was on my list.
Tyler Emrick: But I stayed in Ohio for my undergrad, went to Miami University, which is right outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, studied finance and decision sciences. And my wife would be quick to point out that, no, I do not make decisions better than anybody else, just a fancy term for statistics.
And once I graduated, I stayed in the Cincinnati area for about 10 years working in the finance industry. I worked at a couple of different positions in a couple of different firms, and eventually took a promotion up to the Cleveland area and found my way over to True Wealth because a lot of the principles that Kevin had built the firm on and what we pride ourselves on from a financial planning standpoint really resonated with me, and it was something I think I wanted to focus on with my career going forward. So it’s been a really good fit here over the last few years.
Kevin Kroskey: And Tyler, you have a child and another one on the way here really soon as well.
Tyler Emrick: Yeah. So I’m soon to be outnumbered, two little girls. We’ve got a 20-month-old and then another one here on the way. Fingers crossed, we’ll see, the due date for the second one is just three days from the first. So we might have the same birthday here for the two little ones. We’ll see what happens.
Kevin Kroskey: I like that efficiency. That’s great.
Tyler Emrick: That’s right. Not planned, not planned.
Kevin Kroskey: So one of the things I was thinking about when we were just working through what we’re going to talk about on the podcast, it was about a decade ago, 2012, that I wrote an article, and I titled it Real Financial Planning as Told by the Gold-Banded Jawfish. And I know it’s just a page-turner, right? But I saw a story. I think it was like national news or something that fish mislabeling in the US was rampant. Basically, they said about 40 to 60% of fish being sold in the US was mislabeled. So people thought that they were buying red snapper, but they were getting tilefish, porgy, or the delicious-sounding gold-banded jawfish.
And I’m not sure what any of those are, but it was mislabeling, deceptive marketing at best. But also, it exposed some serious health risks to people. So the food allergens were a little bit different. This fish had heavier metals in it, which could cause damage to the fetus in pregnant women, just bad stuff all the way around.
And the same thing happens in financial planning. I think if you have somebody that’s maybe looking to work with a financial planner for the first time, and you look at a few different websites, and maybe they all sound pretty similar, maybe it’s hard to tell the difference between them. And maybe you even assume that, hey, these people know what they’re doing. They all have these nice-sounding titles, and maybe they’re assistant vice-presidents or whatever that means exactly, but you don’t really know what you’re getting.
And the thing I would say is when you look at financial planning, which is a fantastic profession, but candidly, it’s a very young profession, and it’s debatable whether even we’re a profession just yet. It’s not medicine. It’s not law. Candidly, it was really born out of the 1970s from the insurance industry when people were really just doing low-level planning work, just to try to justify and sell more products. And certainly, we’ve evolved out from maybe a not too rosy beginning, but hey, doctors used to put leeches on people and bleed them out too. So, I mean, come on, we all have to grow over time, right?
But Tyler has worked at several different kinds of offices, which I think is pretty unique. He can speak first person about his journey. We all come out of college with our eyes wide open and eager to learn and make our mark on the world. And life’s a journey. You certainly have some steps forward and some steps back.
And I had a little bit of the experience that Tyler had too, but being that he was at a few different places, I just really thought that he could probably tell the story first person about the gold-banded jawfish or financial planning, if you will. And Tyler, maybe that fish analogy is a good segue into your first experience if you will.
Tyler Emrick: I would have to agree. We wrote an article a couple of years in regards to my journey. And I think the title of the first part of that three-part series was The Fishbowl Financial Planner, and I think that resonates quite a bit with some of the topics that you just brought up.
I think back to my journey and my time just out of school. I actually went to school to be a teacher and a history teacher, and quickly turned to finance and statistics. And when I got out of school, if you asked me, I just wanted to help people. And I think that, depending on the type of firm that you’re working for and how you’re able to spend your time, that’s going to drastically impact what tools you have to be able to help individuals. And too, a 22-year old coming right out of school, helping individuals trying to retire, take some time to gain some credibility there, if you could imagine.
Kevin Kroskey: So when you started at, I won’t say the name, but if we said the name of the firm, everybody would know the name. It’s one of the largest financial, I don’t know if I want to call it financial planning firm, I’ll call it financial services firm. Certainly, there are financial planners within the firm, but there are several that aren’t, I would say too. We’ll hopefully draw the distinction between those as we go through. But big firm, they do a fair amount of recruiting, they also have a fair amount of attrition, the people that don’t make it. But Tyler, I imagine when you started at that firm, you had an apprenticeship, had a mentor, and were just doing a lot of training on how to do financial planning for the first couple of years. Is that right?
Tyler Emrick: Unfortunately, that really wasn’t the case. It was more of a, “Hey, come in. You’ll figure out the financial planning piece secondary. Let’s see if we can get some families in here for you to help.” So if anybody out there listening has had an opportunity or a job that they worked where they had you come in and get a list of your relatives and friends together, so that way you can start to reach out to them to try to see if they would like to become clients, that was what I spent most of my time doing.
As I mentioned before, that fishbowl financial planner, most of my time was going out to different restaurants and setting up fishbowls where you would actually drop in your business card. And I would go and collect them at different restaurants where I had done this, and give them a call, or call all the cards that were in there. And believe it or not, everybody was a winner and offered them to sit down for lunch with me to talk a little bit about financial planning. And they would get a free lunch out of it, and I would get the opportunity to get in front of individuals.
And very time-consuming, very little time was spent working on tax strategies, or what would be the best financial planning discussions, or how can I help these families once I get them? It was very, very much so, my time spent trying to find individuals to help. So much more of a marketing and a sales role, if you’d asked me, as opposed to a financial planner role.
And in going back to those of you that are listening and maybe have a financial planner that you’re working with now, trying to understand, I think, how that individual spends their time and how they’re breaking out their days, it will give you a lot of insight into what that individual focuses on and the type of help that they’re going to be able to provide for you, in my opinion.
Kevin Kroskey: Yeah, I had a-
Walter Storholt: There truly is, so no such thing as a free lunch. My world has been shattered by this fishbowl scam.
Kevin Kroskey: A gold-banded jawfish fishbowl.
Tyler Emrick: That’s right.
Kevin Kroskey: So I had a very similar experience to Tyler. I started out at a large insurance company that purportedly had, “Hey, we really believe in this financial planning thing.” And I, too, was a high school physics teacher, went back to grad school for my master’s degree in finance. But I wanted to get some experience, and so I ended up at this place.
And going through and studying to get an insurance license, and I’m like, “Okay, I guess, hey, maybe we start here.” But they called it the Project 100, so what Tyler just called, they had a nice little marketing slick for it. And basically, it was the same thing. You just write down 100 people that you know. They call it your natural network. And then it wasn’t explicitly stated, but it was basically heavily implied, and even though I was as green as they come, I mean, I got it loud and clear that my success at this place was going to be largely, if not entirely, dependent upon how many products I sold to these people. And it just didn’t feel right.
Thankfully, I got another offer for another firm just a couple of weeks later. So I finished my Project 100, and then I left. I said, “Thanks, but no, thanks,” and found another place. But what Tyler was describing and what I just described too is very common. It’s still not only common when we came into the industry, 15, 20 years ago almost, but it’s still pretty common today in most of these places.
And one of the things I always say, it’s like, I don’t know about you, Tyler, but when I had that experience, I was like, “Well, I don’t know anything yet. How am I going to go out and… What am I going to recommend? And why would I recommend it?” And I just asked too many questions, so I was not a good fit for their model. But how did you feel when you were going through that?
Tyler Emrick: It’s tough. I distinctly remember I would say our education was limited to a morning meeting once a week where we’d have different individuals come in and discuss the products or things that we could offer to our families that we were helping.
And I was sitting there one day, and I will never forget this, an individual was pitching this product saying how great it was. And then, he would literally point it at me and say, “Well, Tyler, if you sell two of these, I’m going to take you and your family on an all-inclusive cruise for doing that.” And I just remember sitting back going, “Wow.” There are competing objectives there. If I sell two of these products and I’m getting a cruise, is this really something that’s going to be in the best interest of the families that I’m working with?
And you quickly start to find out or start to realize that it’s much more of a sales-focused position, and as opposed to a truly helping individuals try to find, in my opinion, try to find their best way through retirement or whatever their financial solution that they’re looking for is.
Kevin Kroskey: My grandmother had a saying, and it maybe simplifies that a bit, and she said, “Kevin, there’s only 100 pennies in a dollar.” So some of those pennies for that guy were obviously going to pay for that cruise and pay for commissions. And certainly, the person that was going to get that product sold to them because they probably weren’t, I think, going to wake up in the morning and want to buy it, but have that sold to them, they’re going to get fewer pennies. And that’s just a simple thing to remember. Thank you, Grandma, for teaching me that lesson.
So that was somewhat like, I guess, your first journey. I mean, it was you coming out of college. Again, we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t want to maybe ask too many questions, in a way, because we just don’t know much. Everything is theoretical at that point.
But you had moved on to another very large firm. And again, another firm that if we said the name, everybody would know, and maybe your 401(k), if you’re still working, is held at this firm. You spent, I think, pretty much close to about 10 years there. You want to transition and tell us a little bit more about that next experience you had?
Tyler Emrick: Absolutely. Yeah, just under 10 years at this firm. It’s actually the company that brought me up into the Cleveland area. I would say, first off, a very different experience from my “first job” right out of school. And the training and the basics that were set were much better. We spent probably a good three to six months before I would even talk to individuals about how the industry works and how to service families. So I wouldn’t say that this is a firm that was very much sales-focused, but they definitely posed some other challenges depending on what you’re looking for in a financial advisor.
But when I first started there, it was much of the, hey, service clients, do a lot of securities trading, and then, you’d quickly move on to roles that are much more financial planning focused or trying to help individuals navigate the financial landscape that they have in front of them.
And with the way that the model was set up there, it wasn’t as much of a fee-focused model, but much more of a scale. Everything that I did at that particular firm was very much scalable and had to be. At any given point in time, I had 500 to 1,000 families that I was working with trying to provide financial planning advice for.
And what you find when you’re in a situation like that, it becomes very, very reactive as opposed to proactive. I mean, there are only so many hours in a day, and how you spend those hours is very important. And when you’re helping that many families, it becomes very, very difficult to give certain levels of financial planning advice or help families navigate those financial decisions.
And it became very apparent to me towards the end of my career there that that was something that I didn’t want. I wanted much more and felt that there was a lot of value-adds that was being missed with the families that I had worked with. And that’s what really prompted my change and transition over to True Wealth.
Kevin Kroskey: When you were working at this place, and you had 500 or even more clients which we’ve had this conversation before, but I would call them customers. I think a client relationship is something much more personal. A customer, I think, is maybe a little bit more accurate for a lot of those.
Tyler Emrick: I think when we first met, that was one of the things. Kevin was very forward with me. I think I said, “Customer,” multiple times-
Kevin Kroskey: Yes.
Tyler Emrick: And he came to me, and he’s like, “Hey, I don’t know if we need to say customer anymore. I think it’s more of a family, a client that you work with. I think we provide much more of value there. It sounds almost transactional-based when we say that.”
Kevin Kroskey: No, it completely came back to me because not only did that happen then, but it happened for the first few months of us working together.
Tyler Emrick: Hey, take it easy.
Kevin Kroskey: But I think that’s really a good insight, though. I mean, that’s how they referred to the people that they worked with. And it’s almost like more of a product sale in a sense. Granted, it seemed like it was a lot better than the first place, but when you have that many people. And I remember you saying that you could only spend maybe like 20 or 30 minutes on doing like a financial plan, and it was all done live, and there was no, I would say, really verification of the data and what have you. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Tyler Emrick: No, I think you hit the nail on the head. I had anywhere between six to eight appointments a day, and there was not a lot of prep work that was able to be done for those appointments. So it was very much thinking on your feet and handling issues as they come in, which for some individuals that are much more self-oriented or self-starters, that might’ve been okay.
But there were things that can be missed when you don’t do some of that prep work. I look at some of the prep work that I have to do for my meetings now, and I think back to going into a meeting with nothing. I get a little anxious thinking about it.
Kevin Kroskey: Is that right? So where if you go to a store and you buy a product off the shelf, those product companies call the people that buy their products customers. We, attorneys, accountants, call the people that they serve their clients. And then, you get a large scale financial services firm that is doing some, I would call it, lower-level financial planning, but it’s just a scale thing, and there’s a real constraint on how much time you can put with somebody and the level of work that you can do and certainly the relationship that you have. Which, I think the customer language that they use is probably pretty apt. I mean, I think it’s pretty honest. So candidly, I applaud them for that.
Tyler is a pretty humble guy, but we’ll talk about this more in the next episode, too, some different questions that you should ask if you’re interviewing an advisor. But when I met Tyler, he was already a CFP, about 30% of the industry, the license advisors are CFPs. It doesn’t mean you’re a good advisor, but at least, I like to say it means you’re minimally competent. So Tyler was a CFP.
I knew the work that he had done just from my experience in the industry coming up. But one of the things that really impressed me about Tyler was I would say, and again, correct me if I’m wrong, Tyler, but you were one of those people that was really seeking information outside of the training that they were giving you. You were going above and beyond, and you knew there was more that you could do. And you were really being a self-guided learner to get some of that knowledge and get some of that experience.
And I gave you a case study when we were getting to know one another through the interview process, and you had actually done pretty good, better than I expected given where you’re coming from. And again, I was really impressed with that. But when you have something like that, when you have somebody that’s going out and seeking knowledge, particularly if they’re not getting it spoonfed to them from their employer to me, that just really shows that passion and that commitment that they have for the profession and for helping people and for excellence. But I was very impressed that you had gone above and beyond in your own time to continue to improve and better yourself.
And even beyond the CFP, no pressure, but I’m going to announce to the world here that you’re going to be a charter financial analyst, or CFA for short, here come mid this year. And that’s the CFP equivalent for investment analysis. And last I looked, this has been a few years, but where 30% of the licensed financial people are CFPs, there were only, I think, less than 2,000 dual CFP, CFAs in the entire country as of a couple of years ago. I’m sure there’s more now, but maybe it’s 5,000 or so. It’s really rarefied air. And candidly, the CFA exam, it’s just much more difficult. It’s longer. There are multiple parts. There’s a much higher failure rate, all these things.
So Tyler, again, while he’s humble, I’m doing a little bit of bragging here on his behalf. But I don’t want to put the words in your mouth, Tyler, but to me, it really seemed like you were seeking more than what the employer was giving you. Is that a fair statement?
Tyler Emrick: Yes, I would agree. And thank you for that, and thanks for putting me on the spot a little bit here. For the families that I work with that are out there listening, yes, that test is going to be coming up this year, the third one. So if you ask me about it-
Kevin Kroskey: Hey, you’re having a baby, you have a test, all in the same month. No pressure.
Tyler Emrick: Right. But, yes, if you ask me about it, and I smile, then that would be a good sign, and that means I finally got it behind me. But yes, I think it’s important. I think it’s important to continue to grow. And I think that’s one of the things that attracted me to True Wealth and really something that I was looking for was having the ability to have maybe some more complex, not necessarily complex conversations, but the understanding of where I can help families accomplish their goals.
You think about our industry, in my opinion, there’s a lot of places where you can slip up. For me, investments were always a passion, but taxes was something that I hadn’t even looked at a tax return, or very sporadically, maybe count on one hand how many times I had looked at an individual’s tax return at these prior firms. And yeah, I knew that was an area that I needed to get better at and something that we had been focusing on over the last few years here, and I feel pretty confident and competent in that area now. And it’s important, and these decisions are all integrated, and they all play off one another. And I think it’s important to understand that. And I just wanted to be able to provide that for the families that I worked with.
Kevin Kroskey: I’m curious, looking back on the last three years that we’ve been working together, what’s the thing you’ve been most surprised about as it comes to working with people and just what you’ve learned, I guess?
Tyler Emrick: I think the conversations have changed. And I think this is something it sounds like you’re going to touch on in the next podcast, but as you’re out there looking for a financial planner to work with, I think it’s important to try to figure out and say, “Hey, what do you need? What do you want from this professional and this individual? Is it transaction-based? Is it a solution that is, ‘Hey, I want investment advice,’ and that’s clear and cut?” And those were the types of conversations that I had had through most of my career.
I think there’s been a shift in the way my meetings are run and the conversations that I’m having with the individuals that I work with now, where it’s much more almost life planning focused to where, “Hey, are we doing the things that we need to to get you where you want to be? And how are we doing that? And are we doing it in an effective and efficient manner?” So those conversations are very different as opposed to, “Hey, do you think we should do a Roth conversion this year?” Or, “How should we allocate your investment?”
I always bring up in most of my meetings is, when we’re talking about investments, it always gets me when someone sits down with a financial advisor, and they say, “Well, are you conservative or are you aggressive?” It’s like, well, what does that mean? I’ve been sitting in front of families where they say they’re conservative, but they’d be fine if their account dropped by 25%, and some of you out there would be like, “Wow, that’s not me, and I would consider myself to be conservative.”
So I think every individual is different. Every situation is different. And having those types of conversations has been the biggest change for me over the last few years. And I welcome it, and that’s what I wanted to do.
Kevin Kroskey: Yeah, that’s great. One of our first podcast episodes, Walter, was called Details and Relationship. And the technical details that go into financial planning are critical. You have to be competent to do good work for somebody. If you’re not, that could really harm the client.
But a couple of things that go along with that form of relationship, one, you have to be trustworthy. If you’re competent and not trustworthy, that could also result in bad things, like a Bernie Madoff scenario. But some of the life planning, some of the softer side, the relationship aspect, I mean, that takes time. That’s something that when you have 20 or 30 minutes to spend with somebody, and that’s it, and you’re not doing any prep work, I would say it’s probably pretty difficult to really meet them on that relationship aspect.
And Tyler, same for me, I think what attracts a lot of people to this business is more the technical part, at least that’s what attracted me to it. But what has kept me here, and I’m happy I stumbled into this profession, is really that relationship part and just being able to see these big, positive differences. That you can help somebody in shifting their life into doing something that they probably wouldn’t have done before or just giving them a positive nudge to go ahead and do certain things that maybe they were a little bit more reticent to do or just didn’t have the clarity or confidence to do it.
I mean, for me, it gives me that good warm fuzzy, where all the technical work went into it to give the advice, but then to really have some leadership and take them through there, through that path that they’ve shared, that we’ve talked about, that we actively listened, and they shared what’s important to them and what they’d like to do. And then, we can show how that’s possible and better align their money to do it. I mean, that is, when those meetings are wrapped up, I mean, I don’t know about you, but I just walk out with a happy-go-lucky, chest is stuck out, and you just feel fantastic.
Tyler Emrick: I agree 100%. You’re really helping individuals make decisions that are going to either improve their situation or get them to where they want to be or just get them in a better spot, which is just great.
Kevin Kroskey: So I think we can start wrapping it up here. Walter, one, you’ve been quiet, which is not the norm for Mr. Walter Storholt, so impart some wisdom. You haven’t hit the egghead alert button this episode, but give us some Walter-esque, please.
Walter Storholt: I’ve enjoyed just hearing you guys rap back and forth a little bit. I think it’s a neat perspective to just hear about your journey, Tyler. And then your side of the equation, Kevin, is bringing Tyler onboard a couple of years ago as part of the team and what you were looking for in adding to your staff. And I think it’s an interesting story for anybody who works with True Wealth Design as a client, not a customer, to get that insight. I think that’s pretty cool, or anybody may be evaluating a relationship with you guys or with any financial company, to understand some of those inner workings that go on behind the scenes and the vast differences that can exist between one company and one structure and another.
I don’t know if I’ve shared this before on the show, Kevin. I don’t think you even know this. Maybe we shared it at one point in time. But several years ago, when I first started working in the financial realm, but more in a broadcast perspective, I wanted to just learn a little bit more about what it was like to go through the training to become a financial advisor or get into the business.
So I actually went out and got my insurance license. I studied really hard for a day or two, and then took a test, and then was 100% sure I failed the test, and then walked out of the room, and they said, “You passed.” And I immediately had this ability, not that anyone would have actually listened to me at that point, but I had the ability to handle and help people make decisions with their life savings.
And it was a really weird feeling for me, just how oddly simple and easy that was to now call myself a financial professional of sorts and just have that ability to access people’s money and help them make decisions and move tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars around if I had wanted to or been able to meet clients who wanted to do that.
I just wanted to get the license just to go through the training and get that background experience. But to me, it was just very eyeopening to be on that side of the fence, and a little scary too, that it was just that easy to get access to people and potentially their trust, and how easy then that is to abuse.
And so I can tell and understand why you, Kevin, protect that and emphasize things like this, like conversations with Tyler, why that’s so important to you to understand somebody’s background, how they have evolved in their mentality to financial planning and working with clients, and why you’re drawing such a distinction between a customer and a client. Because you can’t treat somebody like a client and treat them poorly. If you value that relationship enough to call them a client over a customer, you can’t really go wrong when you start to mentally, I think, absorb and to get to that point as a business and as somebody who’s helping people with their money and their finances and retirement.
Because it’s deep stuff, it’s important stuff, and it’s important work. And I just like the level of seriousness that you guys always seem to present forward at True Wealth Design. So it’s just quite a difference between different companies out there in the way that they do things, as in any industry, but in the finance side, it’s pretty striking.
Kevin Kroskey: Yeah. And what you just described, Walter, is why I say that it’s arguable if we’re truly a profession. I mean, we certainly act as if we are professionals. We behave as if we’re professionals. We do a lot of things because we take it as a profession. But when you just have to get a 70% or better on a multiple-choice licensing test that maybe at most takes a couple of weeks to study for, and you have to have a high school diploma, and, oh, by the way, the high school diploma is actually optional, it’s hard to justify that as being a profession.
And that’s why it’s not like you’re going to get your four-year degree, and then you’re going to medical school, and then maybe you go for a residency and a fellowship, and then you become board certified. We’re growing up and more becoming that. And if you do get your CFP, at least that’s kind of a minimum competency standard. I mean, you have to have a four-year degree and so on and so forth. But I mean, there’s a [crosstalk]-
Walter Storholt: But that’s a difference right there, Kevin. I mean, you view that as a minimum standard.
Kevin Kroskey: A minimum, yes.
Walter Storholt: Whereas, in a lot of circles, I’ve heard that described as the upper echelon, the thing to strive for, the absolute thing you must attain. It’s the ceiling, not the floor. And that’s just another difference, another illustration.
Kevin Kroskey: Yeah, it’s tough. I mean, podcasts like this, I think, is a great medium to go ahead and explain some of the differences. And if people, regular listeners, have been told lots of times that they can just really, they can see and hear the different, maybe they can’t see it, but they can picture it because they’re listening to me about the level of work that you do. And again, the technical work is really important, but you can’t lose sight of that softer side of it.
And it’s tough for people to see some of those differences and fully appreciate them. I mean, Tyler is exceptional in the work that he does and how hard he’s worked, and his intellectual ability. And, Tyler, I hope you don’t mind if I share this story, but it’s my podcast, so I’m going to do it.
Tyler Emrick: Fair enough.
Kevin Kroskey: We were, I don’t know, it was probably three or six months after, eight, Tyler started working with us, and I asked him, and this is a question I’ve grown to ask people over the years, I was like, “What did you think your financial planning knowledge was coming in and where do you feel like it’s at now?” And Tyler, I’ll let you share the answers because I don’t want to steal your thunder there, but do you recall what you shared?
Tyler Emrick: A lot of growth. It’s night and day. And I would say, think of it as I was very comfortable in the conversations that I had had prior, and I might not have fully grasped or understood the rest of the opportunities that were out there in topics that I didn’t discuss as much or didn’t have the time to discuss as much in prior roles if that makes sense.
Kevin Kroskey: Yeah. And I’ll be concrete here. It’s like, Tyler is like I thought I was a 9. I was on top of the world. I was doing the CFA thing, teaching myself all this stuff. And then, Tyler said something, he’s probably like, he realized he’s probably a five, but then, after six months, he was up to like a seven or so. And again-
Tyler Emrick: I think I was just trying to move up.
Kevin Kroskey: You got to put this in context.
Tyler Emrick: There’s just so much in our industry in so many areas to potentially focus on and always room for growth and always room for opportunity. And I don’t know if I’ll ever be up there at a 9 or a 10, but I will continue to strive for that, and it’s important, in my opinion.
Kevin Kroskey: Completely. The more you learn, the more you learn that you don’t know, in my view. And experience certainly helps. I think with time and experience, and knowledge, you become wiser. But I think the important thing to take away from the story that we just shared is, I mean, this is Tyler, who’d spent more than a decade in the industry who had a dual four-year college degree, had his CFP, was on his path to get the CFA, and truly in rarefied air in the industry, and he didn’t know what he didn’t know, quite candidly coming in, and he’s still learning.
And so, you have Joe and Jane Consumer, that’s concerned about retirement and is looking to interview financial advisors and for them to tell the difference. I think Tyler picked a good place, and I think he’s been happy with his growth and path. We’re certainly happy that he’s here. But the fact that he didn’t know what he really didn’t know, I think, just conveys how difficult it is to really find somebody and hire somebody when there’s such an information advantage towards the professional and against the consumer, or hopefully, the client.
It’s tough. And that’s why we were talking about this today, pulling back the curtains, inside baseball a little bit, and that’s why next time we’re going to go over some questions to ask your potential financial advisor or your current one. And I think that’s not a bad thing either.
Walter Storholt: Well, I really enjoyed the back and forth between you two. And Tyler, thank you so much for sharing some of your story and letting Kevin have some free reign to peel back the layers of the onion a little bit, so we could get to know more about you.
My last question for you, I was reading your bio on the TrueWealthDesign.com website. And it says your wardrobe constants are a tie and a set of gym clothes. Is that at the same time?
Kevin Kroskey: Tyler, what happened to the tie?
Tyler Emrick: Well, that was pre-baby. So I’d say, now it’s a tie, and we’re working on the gym clothes and getting it back in.
Walter Storholt: You got to get a new gym bag, huh?
Tyler Emrick: That’s right.
Walter Storholt: Very good. Well, congratulations on the new little one and everything else that has been going on in your life lately. And thanks again for sharing a slice of it with us here on the show. And I hope we get to hear from you again soon.
Tyler Emrick: Oh, absolutely. Happy to be on.
Kevin Kroskey: Thanks, Tyler.
Walter Storholt: Kevin, thank you as always, my friend.
Kevin Kroskey: Thank you, Walter. We really appreciate it.
Walter Storholt: If anybody listening to today’s show wants to learn a little bit more about Kevin and about Tyler, we’ll put a link to Tyler’s bio in the description of today’s show, so you can check that out there. And if you want to find out more about working with the team, please go to TrueWealthDesign.com. So many great resources available to you on the website. You can also click the Are We Right for You? button to schedule a 15-minute call with an experienced financial advisor on the True Wealth team. You can also call 855-TWD-PLAN if you prefer the old-fashioned way. 855-TWD-PLAN is the number to dial. Thanks for joining us. We’ll talk to you next time right back here on Retire Smarter.
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