Build relationships and collaborate with your clients. My clients are my friends. I do not try to draw a line between business and friendship. This means that I am always excited to learn what’s going on in my clients lives and I enjoy being around them. The planning and investment work we do can be challenging, but these are my friends, so we attack it together with energy and collaboration.
As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rob Schulz, CFP®
Rob Schulz is President of Schulz Wealth, Ltd., a Registered Investment Advisory firm founded in 2014. Previously, Rob served as president of First Texas Financial. Rob has extensive experience and training in financial planning and investment management. He is a licensed Investment Adviser (Series 65), and a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®). Rob has been recognized most recently for his expertise publicly as a 2019 Investopedia Top 100 Investment Advisor in the country. He has also taught Retirement Planning for the Certified Financial Planning Certificant Program at Texas Christian University and The University of Texas at Arlington.
Rob and his wife Shelly live in Mansfield Texas where he has maintained a very active role in the community, serving on several boards, commissions, and foundations, since 1995. Rob is an avid sportsman, musician and woodworker, and can be found tinkering in the garage or his woodworking shop on free evenings or weekends. He is the author of the upcoming book Thoughts on Things Financial: Your Guide To A Chaotic Money World (September 10, 2020.) Learn more about Rob and his work at https://www.schulzwealth.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Of course! Always from a young age I have been interested in investing and saving. So when I was serving in the Navy as a young Division Officer, I found myself helping many of the sailors on my ship with their personal financial issues. I would go with them to return their tote the note cars on 30% interest for a refund, I would help them with budgeting, and I even became VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) trained to help them complete their tax returns for free to keep them from being scammed by the tax refund loans that were so prevalent. When I left the Navy, I knew what I wanted to do from these experiences. I wanted to help people achieve personal financial success.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting in the industry? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
My very first year out of the Navy I was calling on a new potential client. We were having what I thought was a great discussion and I was on a roll, but he seemed distracted. Later, when I was getting into my car, I realized my trousers had split down the side of my hip! Lesson learned: I try not to take myself too seriously. Hopefully, I have good advice to provide but it’s also important to be real and try to connect with people personally. If I had not been so full of myself, I think maybe he would have clued me in on my wardrobe malfunction.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes! I just finished my book titled Thoughts on Things Financial, that should be out in September, and I have started research for my next book. My associate, Austin Smith and I are interviewing entrepreneurs who have sold or transitioned their businesses for a book about succession planning for business owners.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?
Great question. There have been several transitionary “tipping points” for me, but the biggest and most recent was when I wasn’t as worried about making money anymore. The strangest thing happened: I started working with more passion and energy than I ever had before. I have seen this same phenomenon in my clients and we have a term for it. Calling It. “Calling it” is when we run the financial plan and it works without the client having to work anymore. In many cases, they complete their greatest accomplishments after already achieving financial security for themselves and their family. It’s kind of like breaking free from the chains of financial constraints. Before this happens, it’s more difficult to focus solely and completely on your calling.
What three pieces of advice would you give to your colleagues in the finance field to thrive and avoid burnout? Can you give a story or example?
- Control your schedule. I carefully block my schedule to insure I am available but that I also have plenty of time for other pursuits. We schedule clients for their formal meetings (we call them Big meetings) in the 1st and 3rd quarter. Meeting semiannually is often enough and we get well over 80% of our clients in the office for these meetings every cycle. This leaves the other six months (2nd and 4th quarter) to work on strategic initiatives, play golf, shoot clays, build stuff in my workshop, and travel!
- Stay plugged in. As an RIA firm, sometimes it feels like we are on an island unto ourselves. I know I must make a conscious choice to interact with other advisors. I have a weekly Zoom call with other advisors all over the country to keep up with what’s going on. I also stay involved in industry organizations like FPA and NAPFA.
- Build relationships and collaborate with your clients. My clients are my friends. I do not try to draw a line between business and friendship. This means that I am always excited to learn what’s going on in my clients lives and I enjoy being around them. The planning and investment work we do can be challenging, but these are my friends, so we attack it together with energy and collaboration.
Ok. Thank you for all of that. Let’s now move to the core focus of our interview. As an “finance insider”, you know much more about the finance industry than most consumers. If your loved one wanted to hire a financial advisor (not you :-)), which 5 things would you advise them to find out about before committing? Can you give an example or story for each?
Sure. An entire chapter in my book outlines this for consumers but here are the high points:
- Are they a member of NAPFA (National Association of Financial Advisors)? This is the easiest way to screen for a qualified, authentic fee-only advisor. In my book I go into several screening factors and why but the strict requirements for NAPFA membership does all the work for you by screening out around 99% of the 300,000 or so financial advisors out there. The 1% you are left with are the best of the best, in my opinion.
- Do they specialize in what you need? We are retirement specialists, so we primarily run scenarios around quitting your day job or selling your business to live off your investments. If you need advice around an impending divorce, for instance, there are financial planners who specialize in this and may be better suited to your situation.
- Do they have a good business continuation plan? You don’t want to go through all of the trouble of hiring a financial advisor only to have him or her retire, move, or die the very next year. For this reason, Austin (my young associate) and I work jointly as a team. This way, if something happens to me, Austin can seamlessly continue on with our clients without me.
- Do they have a good process that they adhere to? Unfortunately, some advisors will promise service they can’t deliver, or their service fizzles out after the first initial meetings. This is because they do not have a solid, repeatable client service model. Ask specifically what ongoing processes are in place to maintain a solid continual plan and investment review process.
- Are they fun, approachable, and easy to work with? I don’t like going to the dentist, but at least I like my dentist as a person so I kind of look forward to seeing him. Some of my clients probably say the same thing about me. You may not enjoy some of the financial stuff that has to be dealt with, so you ought to at least enjoy who you are working with.
I think most people think that financial advisors are for very wealthy people. This is likely not actually true. Can you explain who would most benefit from hiring a financial advisor and why? Can you give an example?
I think anyone, no matter their station in life, can benefit from a financial planning engagement, at least to a certain degree. If you’re just starting out, maybe you just need to be pointed in the right direction. However, there is a certain point where I think it becomes crucial to engage with an investment advisor, and it’s well before you have accumulated significant wealth! This crucial point is right when you are busier than you have ever been. Your career is taking off, you have busy activities going on with your kids, and no time to plan for the future. At this juncture, you should hire a financial planner so that important planning and investing does not get put off. If you wait until life slows down, it will be too late to achieve what you could have achieved if you had started earlier.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are lots of people who helped me along the way! But probably the person who helped me the most was my dad, who passed away in 1990. My dad had been a stockbroker in the 60’s and early 70’s and he taught me at a very early age the importance of saving and investing. In my book, Thoughts on Things Financial, I tell the story in detail of when and how he taught me about the time value of money. What’s really cool is that he not only influenced me, but at this point I have taught the very same lesson he taught me many times over. So through me he has influenced so many others!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Wow, that’s a big question! Answer: Financial planning for all. I wish everybody had access to quality financial planning at a reasonable cost. Most planning and investment firms wear their minimums like medals, as in, the higher your minimum asset level or client net worth requirement, the more important you are. But financial planning is more impactful on those who are younger and in the beginning stages of accumulation. I don’t want medals; I want to change lives. We are using technology to become more and more efficient so we can meet people at earlier stages of their lives.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
The best way engage with me is either via my Facebook group called Thoughts on Things Financial or to sign up for my weekly blog posts at schulzwealth.com.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.