Are they a fiduciary? In other words, is the advisor required to make financial decisions that are in the best interest of their clients? I don’t want my family being sold something. So many times, I end up coming in having to correct problems where other advisors just wanted to make a quick commission. They had a quick sales pitch, and the customer was persuaded by the advisor, i.e. salesperson. So, to me, being a fiduciary is a big deal.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Justin A. Goodbread, CFP®, CEPA®, CVGA®,. Justin is the owner of Heritage Investors and FinanciallySimple.com, is a nationally recognized financial planner, financial educator, wealth manager, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. Armed with 20+ years of experience starting, buying, owning, and selling businesses, Justin dedicates himself to offering business owners strategies that increase the long-term value of their companies. Through his educational portal FinanciallySimple.com, Justin freely shares knowledge guiding visitors through all areas of business growth. His work in has catapulted him into the national press where he writes for Kiplinger, Forbes, and Investopedia where his name appears in many national media outlets. His ability to make complex financial concepts “financially simple” has landed him back-to-back Investopedia Top 100 Advisor awards and Exit Planning Institute’s Exit Planner Leader of the Year. Justin also speaks regularly about business at national conventions, trade associations, business events, and seminars around the nation. Learn more at FinanciallySimple.com.
Thank you for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I had just sold my business in South Georgia and moved to Tennessee. A friend who worked in finance dared me. He said I couldn’t pass a couple financial tests. He told me he’d give me five grand if I did, but I would have to do it within 30 days. Never turning down a challenge, I won the bet passing all three and found myself with a financial license. It’s a strange way to get here but that’s how it happened.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting in the industry?
Probably one of the most humorous mistakes I’ve made was trying to guess a lady’s age by her looks. That’s a no-no. That’s like a huge no-no! (Amy, who’s sitting here in my office, is giving a big sigh saying, “You’ve lost your mind, Justin.”) But I was put up to it by a client whose wife was considerably older than he was, but looked considerably younger than him. Long story short, what I learned after giving my answer: don’t guess a woman’s age. That’s not a good thing.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think it will help people?
Yes, we’re working on a course that’s going to be implemented sometime early next year. Designed for business owners, it will allow them to come to East Tennessee and walk through an evaluation of their company, give them an understanding of how business valuations work, and give them 90-day marching orders on how to increase the value of their company. This one-week course is being sponsored by Financially Simple, and it will have experts from around the country trained in the key areas of valuation come in and speak to the business owners. We’ll limit it to about 20 business owners per course. That why they don’t get a generic training. They will be leaving with a true valuation of their company, have understand exactly how to handle problems, and know the value-increase by doing so.
Tell me about the tipping point in your career when you started to see success.
I didn’t do anything different. I think it was more age and confidence. People don’t want to trust their money to someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You see, a lot of people come out of college or will walk into the firm knowing the basic concepts and facts that are applicable in business, but they don’t know how to apply them specifically to the customers. That little bit of ambiguity and uncertainty gives a client pause. It is their hard-earned money at stake after all. So, I think it was age and being more comfortable about my knowledge level that made clients trust me… and with more clients came more confidence. The lesson from that is know your stuff. If you are knowledgeable, be confident about it.
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to your colleagues in the financial field to thrive and avoid burnout?
Take time off. I have to personally book time off about a week every four months to give my brain a break. We can invest in other people’s lives as much as possible, but to avoid burnout, we have to schedule some time away.
The second thing is to hire your team sooner than later. Trust people. Most people have a problem trusting in the financial world, and you have to hire good, talented people who you trust, they can grab your vision and push it further than you can by yourself.
A story that illustrates this is — my business partner and I started our company back in ’09. The company grew, but we reached a limit. We needed help — the help of multiple people in order to accomplish what we wanted to do. So, we’ve since stepped back and started hiring the right team members to help drive the company for everybody’s benefit. As a result, the company in the last three years has grown 200% per year, and it’s going to give us the ability here, very soon, to — as the old saying goes “a rising tide lifts all ships” — it’s going to give us the ability for the entire team to see the benefits of our labor, monetarily, that is.
The last suggestion I would say is to work with clients who you have a personal connection. From day one we have tried to only work with people who we connect. There is a lot of trust involved. But when a client trusts us with their money, we have the ability to change lives. As a result, we know more than their financial goals. We know their dreams, their families, their kids. This responsibility, for not just them today but for future generations, is a joy (and sometimes a heavy weight as life happens). We’re lucky we get to do what we do.
As a finance insider, you know much more about finance than most consumers. If your loved one wanted to hire a financial advisor like you, what five things would you advise them to find out before committing? Can you give an example or story for each?
The first thing I would want to know is are they a fiduciary. In other words, is the advisor required to make financial decisions that are in the best interest of their clients? I don’t want my family being sold something. So many times, I end up coming in having to correct problems where other advisors just wanted to make a quick commission. They had a quick sales pitch, and the customer was persuaded by the advisor, i.e. salesperson. So, to me, being a fiduciary is a big deal.
I also want to know if they are technically savvy. We’re moving into a technological age, and we need to have the ability to use technology for customers’ benefits. There are behavioral finance capabilities now with software. A lot of firms are still living in the dinosaur age. They’re not using technology for the benefit of the client. So, I would ask:
1 — Are they a fiduciary?
2 — Are they technologically advanced?
3 — Are they working in a team approach? In so many financial firms, every person is their own island. They serve their clients, but the clients may meet with someone else in the office not being benefited directly by them. That other person in the office is out trying to seek and serve their own clients.
However, if you go to a team approach where you have a group of people working for your benefit. If you have an advisor who is moving on for whatever reason in life, you would have some continuity.
4 — Are they up front about their fees? How are they paid? If they are a fiduciary, are they telling you the exact fees? Are they giving you a comprehensive total fee, not just what their advisory fee is? Are they willing to put these numbers in writing? I have a hard time with advisors who try to hide things. Clients aren’t dumb. They just want somebody they can trust. So, I would say hire somebody that discloses their fees.
5 — You want to hire somebody who’s not retiring soon. You don’t want to have a relationship with an advisor who is leaving in 5, 6, 7 years. You could potentially be in the middle of your retirement and be pawned off to some junior advisor within the firm. Or worse, you could be looking for another advisor who doesn’t know anything about you. So, if you’re looking to hire an advisor, find somebody who is more age-centric, or younger than you are (who has experience.)
I think most people think financial advisors are very wealthy people. This is actually not true. Can you explain who would benefit most from hiring a financial advisor and why?
I actually did a “Justin’s Thoughts” video on this the other day about this very subject. I personally believe that the people who would benefit the most from hiring a financial advisor are those families who have young kids, who are business owners, or have two family incomes. They’re running around like crazy. They’re taking kids to and from soccer practice. They’re getting up early, shuffling them to school. They get home at the end of the day, and they’re exhausted. Like last night, I fell asleep on my floor at 6:00 and didn’t wake up until this morning. So, they’re just exhausted. They’re doing everything they can. The last thing they want to do is to stop and worry about finances, educate themselves about finances.
The person needing to hire a financial advisor is not an extremely wealthy person. It’s a person that is moldable to some basic principles that at a young age can use concepts like compounding interest or the combating of inflation to their advantage. An example? I would say that we have a client who recently hired us. He’s a business owner, and we started working together a little over 10 years ago. He and his wife were not wealthy. They made a moderate income. But they listened and they’ve lived a reasonable life, and now here they are some 10 years later with a net worth in the seven figures, all within about a 10-year time period. It’s not because they made a ton of money. They made less than $150,000 a year. What they learned was the power of compounding interest, and they had someone (us) hold them accountable to their goals.
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?
Obviously, parents help you more than anybody in life… they keep you from dying before age 20. But in my world, Jim DeTar of Heritage Advisors has been the right-hand man for me. He has an even temperament, and he’s been able to give me different viewpoints. We’ve been through some hard times together. We’ve been through a start-up phase of a small business, through a recession. We went through some good times and he’s the one person who I tell regularly that I’m grateful for and who has helped me more than any one particular person in the business world — outside of family and friends.
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. 🙂
I would have small business owners focus on growing the value of their companies, not just the profitability of their companies. The reason why I say that answer does the most good to the largest number of people is because there are currently 5.7 million small businesses in the United States that employ almost 30% of the population. Small business is truly the backbone of our country. Yet so many small business owners are so busy focusing on profitability that they forget to grow their companies. And when they forget to grow the value of their companies, they end up in a position to where they’ve poured so much out to their community, to their team, to their clients, to everybody involved, that they’ve been destitute for themselves. And ultimately at the end of the day, the very people whom they’re trying to serve — those team members, those customers, those in the community — end up suffering because the business is not sustainable for the long term.
So, if I could inspire a movement, which is what I’m trying to do through Financially Simple and my book The Ultimate Sale, it would be to have business owners focus on the value of their company, building up the systems and the people in the organization who can take the business further than the owner can take it themselves.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find me on all the major channels like Facebook @FinanciallySimple, Twitter @JustinGoodbread and LinkedIn @JustinGoodbread.
Thank you for all of these great insights!