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What You'll Learn In Today's Episode
  • Meghaan's surprise connection to the RTS Tax Planning Summit
  • Specific scripts and phrases you can use to talk taxes in a more relatable way with your clients and prospects
  • The science behind anchoring and how to help people change or set their anchors in a more productive way


It turns out there are scientific reasons that so many people have misguided notions about taxes and Steven is joined this week by a Financial Psychologist to explore what those reasons are. Meghaan Lurtz is a writer, researcher and educator focused on the overlap of psychology and financial planning and shared her insight on how Financial Advisors can more successfully navigate conversations around complex and emotional topics, like taxes. Much to Steven’s delight Meghaan confirmed some of his beliefs on WHY taxpayers feel the way they do and make some of the choices that they do, now he has science and experience backing him up. This episode is a must listen for anyone who talks to their clients about taxes.

Ideas Worth Sharing:

About what to do with clients, figure out what their anchor is. And ask them questions about whether or not is this an appropriate anchor, you know, what else, what other anchor might be better? And work with them to understand… Share on X Anytime you can ask a question in a command form, it doesn't have the same crazy alarm bells feeling in the brain and people can think a little bit clearer than when you ask 'em a question. - Meghaan Lurtz Share on X Your clients are gonna place a tremendous value on you helping with taxes because you're helping to avoid what they perceive as losses and whether that's a small dollar amount and you help them save a $50 underpayment penalty or a… Share on X

About Retirement Tax Services:

Steven and his guests share more tax-planning insights in today’s Retirement Tax Services Podcast. Feedback, unusual tax-planning stories, and suggestions for future guests can be sent to

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Thank you for listening.


Read The Transcript Below:

Steven (00:49):

Hello everyone, and welcome to the next episode of the Retirement Tax Services Podcast, Financial Professionals Edition. I am your host, Steven Jarvis, CPA and I’m especially excited for today’s episode because I don’t have a financial advisor with me. I don’t have a CPA with me, I have someone with a background in client focused psychology and weaving that into financial planning. So Meghaan Lurtz, welcome to the show.

Meghaan (01:14):

Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

Steven (01:17):

Well, Megan, for our audiences benefit, why don’t you give us a little bit of the backstory of why you’re here, why you spend all of your time working in this financial planning world, when that really isn’t your background as far as actually being an advisor.

Meghaan (01:31):

Yeah. So actually this is a fun story that not even, you know, but you will know people involved. So my first job, actually, my second job at college, I went to work for a company called Total Rebalance Expert, which was owned by Sheryl Rowling. It was also owned by my mother. My mom actually holds the patent for tax sufficient rebalancing, like the image that we had on Total Rebalance expert, that dashboard she holds the US patent for that. So my mom and Sheryl, they’re both Sheryls. My mom’s a Cheryl. They knew each other from college. They started that company together and during that time, they needed someone to work there. And it was me. And so, you know, we were talking to advisors, you know, sometimes I’d be talking to them about, you know, different reasons that they were rebalancing and, you know, sometimes it’s for like tax efficient purposes, a dip in the market.


You know, get some extra credit with the clients. Sometimes though it was like, well, Bob wrecked the car, or, you know, this like, we’re remodeling the bathroom. Or like, it was just, there was always family things going on, you know, like reasons that kind of dealt with, like relationship dynamics almost as often as any, you know, CPA slash PFP slash CFP would be calling to be talking about rebalancing. And so I’d be talking to them and then they would find out, you know, that, oh man, her background’s in psychology. So then we’re, you know, talking about psychology and talking about people. So one day I’m at a TD Ameritrade conference and I’m at the booth for total rebalance expert and all these PhD students walk up to me from Texas Tech University. And they wanted to use, at the time, total rebalance expert sat on top of Schwab Portfolio Center.


That was how it got all of its information to know what needed to be rebalanced. And they wanted to, the PhD students wanted to use the software to run some different things or whatever. Ultimately, total rebalanced expert actually did donate their software to Texas Tech University. In doing that, I met a professor, Dr. Barry Mulhallen, who’s now at Akron Estate, and he was like, you’re weird background, you know, like in finance, but also in psychology. And you care about like the way that people interact with each other. You know, they have a whole program at Kansas State for that. And I was like, no way. So I got involved with Kansas State’s Financial Therapy program. I loved it so much that I decided to get my PhD. So my masters is an industrial organizational psychology. My PhD work is all in personal financial planning and it’s just been, you know, a beautiful marriage ever since then. So am I an actual financial advisor? No, but do I hang out with a lot of financial advisors? Yes. And, instead of, you know, talking about tax, talk about oftentimes how people feel about their taxes. So, it all is one big happy circle.

Steven (04:39):

Well, Meghaan, you certainly win the award for guests who have blown my mind on their background story, because, I mean, I feel like this is one of those situations where I almost feel too lucky. Like this is too perfect of a situation that it’s gotta feel to somebody like, I paid you off to be here. Cause I really didn’t know that background. But Sheryl Rowling is of course gonna be one of the keynote speakers at our RTS tax summit this fall in September. I was actually just talking to Sheryl a couple weeks ago about her presentation, which I’m super excited about. She has this deep background in not just tax, but how taxes fit in for financial planning. She’s gonna be sharing some great case studies. So super excited, I’m glad that you have that background with Sheryl as well.


I’m so excited she’s gonna be at the conference. So of course if you haven’t already signed up, you get signed up for the summit. But yeah, let’s talk about some psychology things here today. Part of the reason I invited you on the podcast, I’ve heard you speak a couple of times now and have really enjoyed your presentations and thank you. Honestly, you probably get this a lot because you do a fantastic job and for me in the audience, I was like, oh, this is not what I was expecting. When I see on paper, hey, somebody’s got a PhD, they’re a researcher, I’m like, okay, like, where am I gonna hide my phones? Doesn’t look like I’m staring down. But it was a really, it was very engaging conversation. It was very applicable, which is usually the reaction I get when people find out that I’m a CPA and they’re like, oh, I actually enjoyed your presentation and I’m thinking you can leave out the, actually, like, just give me a compliment.

Meghaan (06:03):

I have similar experiences with advisors and even more so with students, I usually hear like, I really thought this class was gonna be horrible, but it was okay. I actually learned something and I’m like, sweet. You know, so, I hear similarly sometimes with financial advisors. I thought you were just gonna talk about emotions and it was more interesting than that. And I’m like, great. You know, so slowly winning over the crowds.

Steven (06:29):

Perfect. So we can be the co co-presidents of the backhanded compliment club. Perfect.

Meghaan (06:34):

Yeah, I’m into that. I’m into that.

Steven (06:35):

Perfect. Okay. So, the last presentation I attended that you were doing was at the AICPA Engage conference, and you were talking about, and I’ll get all the terminology wrong because there’s a couple of pieces that stood out to me in particular, but you were talking about, I think one of the words that you used was heuristics, but I’m like now I’m just trying to show off my $5 words. The point, my takeaway from this was you were talking about the way that people feel and interact with different things in their lives that drive their behavior and decision making. So separate from any specific tax concept or any financial planning concept, there’s these things inherent in all of us that if we understand how people approach these things, we can do a better job, a more effective job communicating and helping people take action. And at the end of the day, that’s what I care about most, is how do we help people take action?

Meghaan (07:21):

Yes. So I was talking about heuristics, which is just a fancy way to say brain shortcuts. And if you are a human with a human brain in your skull, you use heuristics all the time. There’s plenty of research from evolutionary biology and psychology at, you know, forward to behavioral economics today that show, you know, this is just how our brains work and they’re kind of wired to work this way. And I always like to tell students and people, you know, if Daniel Kahneman has a financial advisor and he does, then I think everybody should have a financial advisor. Because if he can’t escape, and he’s kind of the godfather or the grandfather or the father of behavioral economics and came up with, you know, the original list of heuristics and biases also thanks to Thaler Richard. If he can’t outsmart his brain, probably none of us can. So behavioral economics is just a giant theory of decision making generally. It affects all the decisions that we make all the time, but in particular, it’s been well researched within finance, which is a lot of what we were talking about at AICPA.

Steven (08:32):

Okay. So I have a question for you that, if you contradict how I talk about this, I always have to edit out afterwards, but I think I’m okay here because I, anecdotally, I see all the time that clients have a stronger emotional reaction to a small amount of tax savings than they do to a large amount of investment returns or gains of some kind. And I think you even talked about this last week that, there is research and science behind that. This isn’t just my observation with a handful of clients, but the way that most of us are wired, we have a stronger negative association with, and cuz on the tax saving side, that feels like a loss avoided as opposed to investment returns or gains. That feels like a win somehow. And so that there actually is research and science behind this, right? I’m not just making this up.

Meghaan (09:15):

Oh, yeah. It deals with loss aversion and what you’re noticing is that a gain and a loss of equal magnitude. So if you have a hundred dollars loss and a hundred dollars gain, people are like, yeah, I won a hundred bucks. People are like, dang it, you know, I lost a hundred dollars, that’s gonna bother me all week. And you know, so this is an example of loss versus gains. But even think about like when you receive a compliment, we were just talking about backhanded compliments. You know, when you receive a compliment, a lot of people are like, oh yeah, thanks, I think I look nice today too. You know, but then somebody’s like, I don’t like your shoes, the whole week you are now consumed with the fact that they didn’t like your shoes, even though three other people, you know, told you look great. So it’s this idea, take this home to your spouses, you know, if they hear one bad thing, they need to hear four positive things before they’re gonna let that one thing go. It’s just the way that we work. I mean, if thinking back way back in the day, having no food or having some food, one is far more painful. And so gains and losses of the same magnitude, they weigh a little bit more. Well, losses weigh loom larger than gains of the same magnitude is, I guess what I’m say.

Steven (10:24):

Yeah. So I would assume that at this point, most advisors who listen to this podcast are doing tax planning of some kind. That’s why you keep coming back. But, if you’re not, I mean, now we have the scientific reasoning behind it and not just my stories, this is a real thing. Your clients are gonna place a tremendous value on you helping with taxes because you’re helping to avoid what they perceive as losses and whether that’s a small dollar amount and you help them save a $50 underpayment penalty or a significantly larger dollar amount, you’re doing proactive tax planning there, there’s gonna be a huge emotional connection to that work that you’re doing with them.

Meghaan (10:59):

Yes, for sure.

Steven (10:59):

So Megan, one of the pieces that’s really stood out to me in your presentation last week that I wanted to bring up again here on the podcast is just kinda this idea of how we communicate around different topics that clients that all of us might struggle to let go of. Specifically what I’m thinking about is when you talked about how we anchor on things that we’ve experienced in the past or how we first encountered things, and this comes up a lot in taxes because I’ll have taxpayers a great example that just happened this last week. Taxpayer calls me, they’re gonna be selling their home and they’re under the tax code. There’s gain exclusions for your personal residence. And the rules around that have changed a lot in the last few years. But the client’s very first question was, how quickly do I have to buy a new house for, to get the tax benefit and for people who follow along with the tax code. Those rules changed years ago. That hasn’t been relevant in a long time, but that’s still what they’re tied to. What’s probably a little bit more common for advisors as they work with clients on taxes is clients getting tied or anchored to specific tax brackets, even though they change all the time. So, Meghaan, talk to us a little bit about why anchoring is a thing at all in our brains and then how we help clients shift away from what they’re currently anchored on, whether it’s taxes or another topic.

Meghaan (12:10):

Yeah, so anchoring an adjustment is a heuristic not just a bias. So it is physically the way your brain works, it’s going to find whatever the last information was. And, or one of the funniest studies, I talked about it at the AICPA presentation, it was something about, you know, I’ve had a room of a couple hundred people and they asked a couple hundred people, you know, write down the last four digits of your social and then, you know, how much does dove soap cost? I mean, they asked some like ridiculous question and behold, when they compiled all the data, there was a relationship between whatever they said, whatever the four digits of their social security number were and the cost of the soap. So there is a priming effect that happens to us all the time.


And so if they’ve anchored to a particulate, maybe they saved a bunch of taxes last year, but then they don’t this year, this can be upsetting for people. You know, they’re gonna anchor to whatever that they can think of related to that topic before, whether that’s still relevant because the tax code changes whether that’s relevant because we’re just in a new year and all the tax brackets are different, you know, it just depends on, you know, what’s going on. And so, you know, a lot of times in like standard economic theory, we care just about like what the final outcome is, but anchoring an adjustment has a lot more of like, you know, 5 million sounds really great, but not if you started at 10. You know, 5 million sounds pretty great. Definitely if you started at two, you know, and so the brain anchors up and down and it keeps that anchor or using that anchor or understanding. So to your point about what to do with clients, figure out what their anchor is. And ask them questions about whether or not is this an appropriate anchor, you know, what else, what other anchor might be better? You know, and work with them to understand what their anchor is. Cuz a lot of times we don’t even know, like there shouldn’t be a connection between social security numbers and soap, but people were anchored, people were primed, you know, with all of the, if they’ve been watching a lot of financial news and who knows what they’re gonna be primed by. You know, there could be any number of propaganda news things going on and or just information in the news that now they are tied to, and then they’re coming to ask you questions about that information.


And so understanding kind of where their starting place was to where they are now can help build that bridge of understanding. And also certainly maybe walk it back, you know, again, pick a different anchor if that’s what you need to do. And or really just helping them to understand why it is that they’re even thinking of it this way. We don’t oftentimes take a lot of time to slow down. This goes back to Kahneman’s book system one, system two, you know, system one when anchoring an adjustment is happening, has taken over. We have not slowed down to think about what’s going on. Another way to think about this though is also to you like, because people are so easily primed, you know, think about what you want the anchor to be as the advisor. You know, before you just blurred out a number about the tax savings that you had or didn’t have or what the amount is now versus what it was last year. You know, consider how you say that, you know, consider how the information is framed and what you want the anchor to be. This can be extremely powerful in the way that people then perceive and take that information in.

Commercial (15:33):

Prospects walk through your door for investment advice, but they become clients because of the tax advice you provide them. If you are a financial advisor who struggles with implementing key concepts of tax planning for your financial advisory clients, then on September 27th through the 29th, you will wanna be at the live in-person event hosted by Retirement Tax Services in Las Vegas, Nevada. Register now at

Steven (16:01):

There’s a couple of things and you hit on one of the points I wanna bring up there right at the end of this is an opportunity, especially for clients who haven’t worked with somebody before who focuses on tax planning, which is common because most tax preparers are not doing tax planning with their clients. So as an advisor, if you bring tax planning to the table, it’s possible this is the first time that a client’s really gone down that route. And so you have a great opportunity to set that anchor out of the gate and instead of letting the client make an assumption about when you say tax savings, and they’re thinking, oh super, Meghaan’s gonna save me a million dollars, that you can set that expectation outta the gate and say, Hey, listen, what we found to be successful is making small consistent changes over time.


And so that might mean a thousand or 2000 or $5,000 of tax savings in any given year, but we’re gonna do that together over the next 10, 20 years and it’s gonna make a huge difference. And now, I’ve chosen what that anchor is as opposed to letting them make up some number that they got off the CNBC. And then the other thing that stood out to me in there is you talking about asking questions to find the anchor. And I love to get really tactical sometimes and to just make it really simple for listeners to take this and apply it and practice. And so if someone listening to the podcast is getting ready to sit down with a client tomorrow I’m assuming that you’re not recommending they sit down and say, Hey Bob and Sue, what is your tax anchor? Like those aren’t meaningful words. So, if I’m an advisor, getting ready to sit down with a client, like how do I think through this to be able to ask these questions in an effective way?

Meghaan (17:23):

I think one of the best ways to go about it and, this has to be done with genuineness, but yeah. When they bring information to you and you’re thinking in your head, no, like, this is not right. I don’t even know where they got this. You still have to look at them with a straight face and say, Hey, I really appreciate you bringing information to the table.

Steven (17:43):


Meghaan (17:44):

Tell me a little bit more about where you learned that.

Steven (17:47):

I like that.

Meghaan (17:48):

And get more information from them about where they found this. Tell me a little bit more about what you’ve been reading. You know, tell me a little bit more about who you’ve been following. You know, anytime you can get, and people, adults in particular like thinking of almost like adult learning theory. It’s really important if you want to engage in adult and begin to change their mind or educate them. That you really find common ground. And that you respect what they’re coming to the table with. No adult likes to be lectured at as though they know nothing and they’re starting from scratch. If they’ve walked into your office to have some sort of conversation with you about taxes, they’ve probably thought about something. They’ve probably been thinking about this for a while. You know, I can say from like the trans theoretical model of change, just how long it takes people to make changes.


If they have decided I’m gonna work with an advisor who does taxes. You know, how long have they been thinking about that? How long have they had that tax problem that they hope that you can solve? How many other ways have they tried to solve it before they walked into your office? What are the other things that they know about the problem? You know, how else have they tried to handle it? These are all really useful questions to ask to then frame how you’re gonna respond to them, what you’re gonna give them in return, you know, and to be able to help them but also understand where they’re at instead of just looking at them and being like, oh yeah, that’s a major problem. Your financial planner didn’t do this before. Or God, what have you been doing for the past five years on your tax returns?


Like, we are gonna be doing a lot of cleanup. You’re like, you might be thinking that in your brain. Believe me, I talk to financial advisors every day. You think they’re brilliant communicators. And I think to myself, okay, sure. You know, some stuff. But it’s really important to hear what it is that they have come to the table with that they have thought about thus far. Because then when you actually go to give a recommendation or go to give advice or, you know, share your part of what you’re thinking about, they’re so much more willing to listen because you gave them the time of day for them to be able to explain to you. And if they say things like, you know, I’m just not really sure, you know, then this is great. Then you can be like, Hey, well then let’s start from scratch, you know, let’s talk. Then it’s fine. They’ve kind of given you carte blanche to go in that direction, but if they haven’t, if they’ve probably had this problem for a while, they’ve probably talked about it, thought about it, read about it, maybe even did something about it, and now they’re here. So let’s learn about some of those things before we just start giving advice or making changes.

Steven (20:26):

So much great stuff in there. I literally wrote down. Tell me a little bit more about where you learned that that’s a line I’m gonna start using. For advisors listening in, I wanna take a second and just really kind of drive home for a second. This might feel a little excessive, but it’s gonna, it makes all the difference to get really specific and nuanced with the way you word things. I mean, Megan, as you say that, it’s clear that you have said that lots of times. You’re not just coming up with this stuff on the spot. And so for anybody listening who thinks, oh, I say something like that, or what I say sounds similar to that, like, no, that’s not good enough. Record yourself having these conversations and listen back to it. Cuz we all like to tell ourselves stories about what expert communicators we are.


And I watch for this with myself. I watch for this with my team where if there’s any hedging in how we’re describing how we communicate something, it’s like, nope. Let’s record it. Let’s watch it back and let’s make sure that we’re saying these things, the right words in the right order. Because the little things matter are tone and inflection. If you want to have another adult sit at the table with you and have a serious conversation and feel like they’re being talked with and not talked at, like, these things matter and we need to practice them.

Meghaan (21:34):

The tell me thing, I’ll just quick tip. People don’t like questions. I oftentimes ask people if they know what happened to Socrates and people are like, oh yeah, I think he died. I’m like, yeah, he was murdered. People like that, you know, Socratic method as much has been popularized in movies and things like this, people very much hate being asked questions because it sets an alarm off in their brain. Like there should be an answer. Interesting. You know, so when you ask somebody a tax question, they’re already very nervous. Like, I’ve worked with Michael Kitces on a regular basis, he knows everything. And so sometimes, you know, he’ll be like, well, what do you think about this? And I’m thinking, oh my God, he probably knows everything about that and I know like nothing about that. And so whatever I say it’s gonna be wrong.


And now I’m super nervous and now I can’t even talk. So if imagine, you know, you are like Michael Kitces to your clients, you know, when you ask them a question, they’re gonna get nervous and it’s probably gonna be about a topic that they don’t fully understand. So instead of asking questions, which gets Socrates killed, use a command instead. That’s really interesting. Tell me more about that. Describe for me, you know, how we got from here to here. Share with me a little bit about this topic. That’s so great. Explain to me what you’ve been working on, you know, for the past six months relative to that. You know, anytime you can ask a question in a command form, it doesn’t have the same crazy alarm bells feeling in the brain and people can think a little bit clearer than when you ask ’em a question.

Steven (23:11):

That’s such fascinating perspective and clearly comes from the years you’ve spent on all of this. So, I love hearing your insight on it because even as you say those things, I mean those are all so much more conversational. They’re so much more like, I want to lean in and be part of this. And like you said that I’m not on the defensive, especially on a topic like taxes. Everyone already feels a little bit out of place. They already feel like this is this big scary thing. And so if I sit down at the table and say, well Megan, here’s my list of questions, let’s just go ahead and start going through ’em and it’s like, geez, how many of these am I gonna get wrong? Right. Whereas if it’s just, Hey tell me how you felt last year at tax time when you had to write a $10,000 check to the IRS. Is that something we should work on together instead of, well hey, what is the right amount of a refund to get each year? That’s really interesting. I like that framework.

Meghaan (23:54):

And you actually just did another one, another thing, whether you meant to do it or not, that where you are asking them to tell you, so it’s one thing to tell somebody what to do. We all know that as adults, that like never goes well, nobody likes to be told what to do. You can also ask people like, well, you know, I told you that you should change whatever, you know, your something related to taxes, you should change.

Steven (24:19):

You’re withholding rate.

Meghaan (24:20):

You’re withholding rate. And you didn’t do it.

Steven (24:23):

You know.

Meghaan (24:24):

Tell why didn’t you do it? And what they’re gonna do is now they’re gonna list off all the reasons that they didn’t do it. Yeah. They’re just gonna dig in further instead you could say, Hey, we’ve talked about the withholding and making the change. Tell me why this is important to you.


And now they’re gonna list off all the reasons why it’s important. So what do you think is gonna be more productive in the meeting? So, you had said when you were talking like, tell me a little bit more like, do you think this is a good idea? You know, about the $10,000? Did you enjoy that? They’re gonna be like, no, you know, I didn’t enjoy that. You know, I think it would’ve been better to have like this. And they’re gonna be listing off all these things that are really gonna be driving up their intrinsic motivation to actually do some changes instead of getting them to list off all the reasons why they don’t even wanna do it.

Steven (25:12):

I love that.

Meghaan (25:13):

Like, so getting them to, it’s just cause like invoking change talk is like a fancy way what you’re doing, but getting them to talk about why the change is important, getting them to talk about why they see so much value in you as their financial planner and the ability to tax plan alongside financial planning. You know, getting them to explain to you why that’s so important is a very different experience than you explaining to them why that’s important.

Steven (25:40):

I love getting to have these conversations because I mean, you even mentioned why in there a couple of times, I mean, a lot of us get our information online on social media. I’m one of those people putting out a lot of that information and it can be overly simplified. And so, it’s not gonna be a surprise anyone that’s starting with why or tying things to a goal or a why is important, but there’s this big gap between the idea of how do we tie it to why and then, but how do we get people to make that connection? How do we have those conversations and make that make that real, make it stick? So I love being able to have to dive in and talk about here’s how this actually works in practice. So Megan, I could nerd out on this stuff for hours.


I mean, it’s fun, but Yeah. No, it’s good stuff and, I’ll take it as I mean, it’s certainly fun for me to see that there’s some of the things I’m doing that make sense. Yeah. But, I love hearing the nuance and, I’m learning things from this conversation. I’m sure that people listening are learning as well. I always like to make sure that we’re taking information and turning it into value, which for me means helping people take action. So for advisors listening who are thinking, wow, Meghaan’s got a lot of great stuff to say, but how do I take that from, I listen to a podcast to, I’m doing this in practice. What are actions that advisors can take to start implementing these things?

Meghaan (26:51):

Well, I think that you mentioned a really good one. You know, it’s hard to get good at communication when you don’t hear yourself communicating. So if you can record a meeting, do it. This is a great way to get feedback for yourself. If you can’t record a meeting or you just are not ready to record a meeting, cuz you’re quite nervous about what you might see. Another thing, you could create a scorecard. I’ve actually always wanted to do this to create a scorecard and put it out on the platform of just good. Like, almost like, think about it as like, almost like conversation bingo, you know, where, so then another employee like maybe you’re an advisor and like a paraplanner or something is in there and the paraplanner is like kind of in there to take notes about what’s going on, but they can also be kind of noting, you know, did you interrupt?


Did you ask with a command? You know, did the meeting open on time? Did the meeting close on time? You know, did you ask follow-up questions? You know, these are all really useful communication tactics that can be marked and or noted, you know, by other people. If you don’t want to record or you don’t have the capacity to record, that’s another way to do it. To just have somebody else listen and be able to give you some feedback. And sometimes it’s easier to do like a scorecard version and like hand over the scorecard versus how did I do? And you’re saying this maybe to like your boss or your colleague and you’re like mostly good. You know, like just, just hand over the scorecard to give a little more quantitative metric if you will. I think another great thing to do is to get involved.


Like there are so many different, thankfully through like the christening of the CFP board, although many of these organizations have been around for a long time, but there’s like the financial therapy association. There’s shaping wealth, there’s the financial transition is, there’s the money habitudes people, there’s the money quotient or yeah, money quotient people. There’s financial therapy, Financial Psychology Institute. There’s like so many, oh, the life planner people. They have a lot of communication in their training. All of these trainings that oftentimes are available, you know, mostly I feel like catered towards CFPs, but certainly CPAs. I’ve had plenty of CP in fact, I was talking to a former CPA student this morning. To be human is to communicate. Yeah. We do it pretty badly. And this is for everybody. This is not just CFPs or you know, CPAs or any person in particular.


Communication is really hard. You know, where instead, unfortunately probably CPAs won’t like this, but you know, instead of teaching calculus, like what if we taught like the trans theoretical model of change and maybe we should also teach taxes. I do think just basic tax skills would be more useful than calculus, but that’s just me. But you know, if we taught the trans radical model of change and like how to support each other through that and some of those basic communication skills, I think the world would be a generally better place. But communication is one of those things that you really need to practice. And so whether, and then the other thing that’s nice about practicing communication is that again, you can practice it with anyone. So, you know, with your spouse, don’t ask your spouse a question. You could say, how’s your day?


You can, tell me what your favorite thing was today. It’s gonna get a different response. These are things you can practice with anybody that you talk to. It doesn’t have to be reserved for only talking to your clients. And there’s so many different ways to communicate. Finding your way that’s comfortable is really important. You know, related to like the rules if you will. Like asking the, asking with a command over a question, you know, perhaps using an invitation to share with you information. Again, money is a difficult thing for people to talk about. And you can say, you know, well, you know, tell me what your plans are for this Roth IRA. You know, or you could say, you must have some plans for this. Would you share that with me? You know, this is a slightly softer startup. I sometimes make the distinction.


I talk about, you know, I could tell my husband, what about these dishes? Or I could say, tell me your plans for these dishes. Or I could say, you must have a plan for these dishes. I wonder what it is. Would you share it with me? You know, it’s the same information each time. It’s clear that I wanna know what’s going on with the dishes, but there are nicer ways that are probably going to solicit, but more information, better information. And oftentimes have a softer startup to what could be a difficult conversation. So, you know, all these things that I know about communication, I have learned through all these different programs that I have done. Another great training that sometimes it’s nice for advisors if you’re not really into like the emotional stuff is just get mediation training. Mediation training is amazing. There’s some great stuff that comes out of that, just about how to be sort of a fair communicator with between, you know, two clients. Mediation training is really lovely. There’s also a lot just individual trainings on motivational interviewing, which is just a style of communication which are very easy to track down. They do them all the time.

Steven (32:08):

Meghaan, I really appreciate that. That was a great list of action items. A huge fan of recording yourself talking. And, I’ll just speak from personal experience that there might be advisors who are hesitant to record client conversations. But again, you just gotta set expectations off the top. I start a lot of my meetings with, Hey, would it be all right if we hit record on this so it’s easier for my team to follow up with action items afterwards? And, no one says no. So recording meetings, we do so many things virtually anymore. You should have lots of opportunities to do that. If you end up making a communication or a meeting bingo card, let know, I’d love to collaborate on the tax version. Do it, I’m gonna do it.

Meghaan (32:41):

I’ll convince Michael.

Steven (32:42):

Happy to collaborate on the tax version. That would be fantastic. And then I love that suggestion of getting involved. There’s so many resources out there. And then selfishly, I like that you gave all the examples of doing the dishes because we like to talk about the dishwasher rule and now in my head now we have scientific backing for the dishwasher rule. So that’s perfect. Megan, for people listening who have enjoyed what you’ve had to say today, which I’m sure is the entire audience, I’ve really enjoyed this. How do they follow you? How do they learn more about what it is you are doing?

Meghaan (33:09):

So I am a researcher and a writer for the platform, which is often not a stranger to CPAs. And I write at least 18 articles a year for the platform. And I would say probably 10 to 15 of them are based on communication skills. Lots of times I write even whole articles about a single question, you know, on how to use it and why it works. Giving lots of tangible dialogue examples. So that’s the easiest place to find my work and to find me is through the Kitces platform. I’m also an active researcher and professor within academia. I teach at Kansas State University, Columbia University. And on occasion I’m Moonlight at American College. So I’m also around there too. I’m usually teaching the financial psychology classes and certainly in my financial psychology classes, I will record you, and you will get to hear yourself. So, if that becomes something that you’re interested in doing one day, I’m there for you.

Steven (34:12):

That’s awesome. Megan is definitely worth the follow. If you ever had a chance to hear her present, I would highly recommend it. Maybe we’ll have to talk about the Tax Planning Summit 2024. You’ve obviously got a connection already through Sheryl that still just blows my mind that that background’s there.

Meghaan (34:27):

So small world.

Steven (34:28):

Yeah. It is a small world, especially within financial planning. We’re super excited that Sheryl’s coming to our summit this year and

Meghaan (34:33):

Tax nerds, I mean, I hang nerds, a lot of ’em. Jeff, Sheryl, Michael.

Steven (34:37):

Yeah. Tax nerds are good people. Well they are. Meghaan, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate your time today.

Meghaan (34:43):

Thank you. I’m really glad to be here.

Steven (34:45):

And to everyone listening until next time, good luck out there. And remember to tip your server, not the IRS!


The information on this site is for education only and should not be considered tax advice. Retirement Tax Services is not affiliated with Shilanski & Associates, Jarvis Financial Services or any other financial services firms.

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