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For many advisors, there’s a lot more work to be done around tax planning than we can commit to time-wise. So, we’re doing things a little different for today’s episode, and you’re in for a treat because Dr. Travis Parry joins Steven on the show to discuss what it looks like to achieve balance—and how to do it! Dr. Parry is a financial advisor, as well as the author of the #1 bestselling book Achieving Balance.
Listen in as he shares a bit of the journey that caused him to pivot in his career and move toward helping other people learn how to incorporate more balance into their lives. Dr. Parry offers incredible insight into how to start making changes that are impactful to both you and your clients. You’ll also hear about the importance of being in your sweet spot and how to narrow down your priorities to allow yourself to operate in that sweet spot more often.
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 email@example.com.
Are you interested in content that provides you with action steps that you can take to deliver massive tax value to your clients? Then you are going to love our powerful training sessions online. Click on the link below to get started on your journey:
Thank you for listening.
We’re not overpaying. No, we’re not overpaying. We’re not overpaying anymore. The tax code’s complicated, boring, and overrated. You don’t want that, you want a pro. One thing that you should know: this is a radio show. It’s not tax advice, don’t take it that way.
Steven Jarvis: 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 in this show, I teach financial advisors how to deliver massive value through tax planning.
Taking a little bit different approach today, I am so excited about our guest, Dr. Travis Parry, who is the author of the number one bestselling book, Achieving Balance.
He has a background as a financial advisor, but then pivoted to focusing on helping people achieve balance, which I’m excited to have this conversation because tax planning is work, and for a lot of advisors, there is more work that needs to be done around tax planning.
And while I aim to help people do that more easily, I can’t take all of the time commitment, all of the energy out of that. So, Dr. Parry, welcome to the show. So excited to have you here to talk about balance.
Travis Parry: Thanks, Steven. Appreciate you allowing me to be here.
Steven Jarvis: Yeah, so I mentioned a couple of things from a high level that you do in the universe, but give us a little bit of background about how you ended up where you are today talking about this topic all the time of balance.
Travis Parry: Yeah, I wanted to be a financial advisor, so I went to school thinking they’re going to teach me and I’ll figure this out and I’ll get a degree. Only to find out that the university I was attending just kind of had a small emphasis. Now, they’ve since blown that up and it’s a big deal now. But BYU was actually better known for accounting.
So, as I got into the business degree I was in, I was like, “Well, wait a minute, this is more for an accountant. What can I do that would allow me to really understand this?” So, I started down the path of CFP.
I was in an internship program with Northwestern Mutual, kind of fell into that as the job that I was working at, at State Farm at the time, the agent who I had helped get to Hawaii while I was making some cold calls for him — one of the leads I called on was like, “Hey, you’re awesome. You’re a great salesperson. Have you thought about being a financial planner?”
I’m like, “Well, that’s my goal, but I’m going to finish school and I’m going to do all these things.” Like, “You can do it right now with Northwestern.” I was like, “Wow, okay. Tell me about the opportunity.”
So, I ended up jumping that way thinking this is going to help. And so, I kind of look at Northwestern and I mentioned this on Kitces’ podcast as well. Like this is sort of like the big four. In the accounting world, was it like the big three now? Have they consolidated down to the three or four or what is it?
Steven Jarvis: No, it’s still four. And there’s one that’s trying to angle to become the fifth one, but that’s probably a long shot.
Travis Parry: Yeah, there you go. I love it. Goals, right, Steven, so-
Steven Jarvis: Yeah, goals.
Travis Parry: But I kind of feel like that was where I cut my teeth and I really learned a lot so much that I was about a quarter way through the CFP program. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to really market myself the way I wanted to at Northwestern. And I went independent and that I thought was it like, this is going to save me from all of the issues I’m trying to do with compliance and da, da, da.
Only to realize that starting my own business was absolutely time consuming: logo, compliance, software, space, platform, broker dealer, like just thinking about it gets me stressed again. Not that I wasn’t great at what I did, but all of a sudden, you take being an advisor now to being a business owner.
And I realized that I was starting to lose that balance that I so firmly held my ground on when I was at Northwestern. And so, some of that support that I gained was no longer there. I decided the best thing I could do was get some training, get some help from outside sources.
So, I went to trainings, I hired a coach and one of the coaches really helped me figure out the time management system that I have modified, used, and now, really researched and helped other advisors to take action, not just dilly-dally and waste their time away.
But the interesting thing is as I started to use that, I realized man, advisors, other advisors need this, other business owners need this. I could have this as part of what I’m offering. And quite honestly, that was a little bit of a mistake.
It took me away from advising. It took me out of that space and I realized how much I really enjoyed this, which opened up this opportunity to coach and to really kind of set aside just the financial planning practice and be a coach.
The interesting thing is I did a master’s in psychology to really understand goals and coaching and motivation. And then I did a PhD in family and human development to really understand this balance, this issue of balance and how this fits in with our family life and our personal life.
So, the way I like to explain it is I’m a financial planner by training, a coach and family specialist by degree, by academic knowledge. And that combo like you don’t find in this industry. I’m like one of the very few that have that combo that’s really focusing.
And as I started to coach more and more, I realized, I love working with advisors. They understand the balance issue. They value it. They value that proposition whether or not they have balance, that’s a totally different question, which we have explored on my podcast, the Balanced Advisor Podcast.
But I know that they need this help and they value that help. So, I have devoted my professional career going forward to helping advisors have better balance. And I’ve found that to be basically living their highest priorities, putting their time where their greatest value really lies.
Steven Jarvis: Well, I love hearing about that, all that background, how much intentionality and how much really hard work has gone into where you’ve landed yourself today, as far as what you do professionally.
One, there’s several things in there and as we had talked before the show that really interested me in having this conversation around tax planning, because sometimes as I’ll do the podcast, as we do webinars, I think I might get a little carried away sometimes of talking about some of these things as if simple and easy were the same thing.
That when we talk about certain areas of tax planning, not necessarily being so complex, that advisors can’t handle it on their own, that’s different than being simple to implement. In fact, quite often, there is a big-time commitment to doing tax planning like so many other value ads for our clients.
And so, kind of hand in hand with you should commit to doing more tax planning, there’s got to be this element of you need to have the balance in your life, in your practice to have the room to do that.
And part of what we do is try to hit the easy button for advisors to bring down their time commitment. So, one of the ways that one of our premier members has explained it, is that basically, being a premier member is for advisors who want to charge and provide service like a tax expert, but don’t want to become a tax expert.
So, which is great from a balance standpoint, I would imagine. There’s stuff in there that resonates for you that having balance isn’t about giving up on things that are important. It’s about finding a way to fit these all in.
And I think even in your own experience with taxes and how they affect you and your business, you’ve seen the value of having some of those professionals in your life.
Travis Parry: Yeah, 100%. I think early on as a financial advisor, I thought the golden path was to just meet as many accountants as possible and they would be a referral source, which is a whole different story.
But that said, it was more like a proven ground. Like I kind of prove myself when they would send clients over and, you know what, I think one of the biggest things that I can take away from that is just be a professional and stand where you stand, be working in your, what I call your work sweet spot.
In my book I talk about this and I find that about 20 to 25% of the advisors I talk to are actually working in … well, let me switch that around: most advisors are only working the sweet spot about 25% of the time. That’s what I meant to say.
And it’s the Pareto principle, like they should be the other way around. They should be like 80 to 85% of their time in their sweet spot and 15% maybe having to delegate and automate some things.
But the reality is, is most advisors really struggle. Why? Well, maybe because they’re like, “Oh, today, I want to dabble in some tax planning” or “I want to be a FinTech CEO, all of a sudden” or I want to do this. And it’s the shiny object syndrome, but likely more than that, it’s usually marketing-related issues, social media, what we call paperwork that’s really online paperwork now, compliance.
All of these things that come up that they go to that really isn’t in their sweet spot. They’d rather be talking to clients, answering some actual planning emails, not just all the other trillions of emails they get that come through their inbox.
But those things that are really focused on allowing them to be the best planner advisor that they want to be.
Steven Jarvis: I really appreciate you pointed it out that way, because sometimes, it can feel like it’s almost a challenge to our intelligence or our abilities to not take everything on for ourselves.
And taxes are a great example. We’re also bombarded with advertisements and different things, and your clients are all bombarded with whether it’s the Super Bowl or whatever else they’re watching of these ads that say, “Hey, you can prepare your taxes yourself.” And it’s almost kind of this like patriotic success story of I do my own taxes.
But this isn’t a matter of are you smart enough to do them? It’s to your point, is that your sweet spot? Is this your highest and best use? And whether that’s an advisor thinking for themselves and how they approach their practice, or you’re thinking about your clients who might need this service.
Is that really the best use of your time? Because you went through your academic achievements and your background and all these things that I’m just going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’re a very intelligent person. All of our conversations have reinforced that, but you are not doing your taxes yourself.
Not only are you not doing your own taxes, but as we were getting ready for the show, you were mentioning some things that you’ve learned from having a tax professional in your life that have really benefited you in your business.
Travis Parry: Yeah, you nailed this. As I looked at my own work sweet spot, like it really involves three or four main things: coaching, doing some high-level podcast, webinar, production, speaking, and writing content.
Like those are my five main things. Anytime when I am outside of those five main, what I call my work sweet spot, then I am now decreasing what I call my value per hour. And if you want to increase your productivity, increase what your worth value per hour, you can do two things.
You can either A, do a higher value product activity or B, you can delegate that out to someone else so that you can free up that time. Like those are really your options. Or you can work less, like take less time doing all of these activities. Like you really have that as a financial advisor, you can decide, what do I want to do?
What most advisors have never done though, ever, is sit down and actually write out everything that they do. Here’s all of the activities I do, and be super honest with themselves. Because when they’re super honest with themselves, they’ll say, “Yeah, I clean the office myself” or “I run the errands myself” or “I buy stuff on Amazon”.
I’ve had clients who’s like, “Yeah, I’m booking my trip right now as we speak and I’m watching soccer in the background.” Because he loves soccer. I’m like, “You know that those things like they’re decreasing your value per hour.” And it’s so, so true. But we all tend to justify that.
And that’s I think where the hard part is. Our psychology is so that if we fear something and we do it or we don’t do it, we tend to justify or not justify that action based on our psychology, our subconscious, and that’s kind of where we … like what I do for advisors isn’t just, “Hey, let’s write up an action sheet and go toward …” because anybody can do that. It’s in the book.
But most people who read the book won’t take the action. I know you’re a big action guy. Like they won’t take the action and it’s typically because they’re afraid of something. But at least if they have written it out and they know where their work sweet spot is, that’s like the very first actionable step.
What are your top five or six things that if you just did this every day, not only would it bring you the best ROI, but it would also be so fulfilling? So that every day when you came in, if you just did those things, life would be grand.
Steven Jarvis: That really resonates with me, especially with different advisors I work with through RTS because on kind of extreme ends of the spectrum, advisors typically come work with RTS for one of two reasons.
It’s “I want to learn more and increase my tax planning abilities. I’m looking for resources to just improve what I can do” or that “Tax planning is vital to my clients and maybe I’m actually even good at it, but that’s not my highest and best use.”
And so, we definitely have a lot of advisors who are really active in our program who their tax knowledge is impressive to say the least, but they’ve gone through an exercise like you’re talking about saying, “What is my highest and best use? What is my sweet spot?” However we want to word that.
And that list is not the same as what are the values I need to provide to my clients or how do I deliver value to my clients? Because you might go through your list of what are my sweet spots and there’s going to be a huge long list of other things your clients still need from you and from your office from the service they’re getting from you.
But you made the point in there that where those lists don’t overlap, that just means you need a system. You need to be able to delegate, you need a resource. We still need to deliver that value. We can’t go to clients and say, “Hey, you know what? Tax planning isn’t my highest and best use, so you’re on your own.”
That’s where we need strategic partnerships. That’s where we need someone on our team who can help with that. However we solve that, but I love that thought process or that thought exercise. This isn’t just let’s sit and think about, I write it out — and where is your highest and best use, and then where are the gaps in your highest and best use compared to the values you need to provide to your clients?
And then how do we sort those out so that you are spending your time on your highest and best use, but still delivering value to clients.
Travis Parry: Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned about some tax strategies. I mean, for me, I’ve done my taxes literally since I was a student at BYU, my undergraduate experience. And every single year, I know the time that it takes. But at some point there’s also the tax planning aspect.
What I don’t know, I may not know. I can’t make stuff up unless I’m the one researching. So, it’s the time to then research ideas, stay ahead of like what’s going on with the IRS code. I don’t have time to do that. I just don’t as an individual. I don’t want to come home from work and be like, “I want to work on taxes.”
Now, some of you may be like, “Oh, that’s awesome. I love it.” Okay, good for you. Maybe it’s a hobby or something or you justify that. But I quite honestly, I’d rather go play ball with my kids. I’d rather go on a trip to Europe with my wife. I’d rather do these other things that don’t tie me down and hire someone else who’s really good at what they do and allow them to do it.
And if I was an advisor, back when I was advisor, I had good CPAs who I could refer to all the time, and not just to get referrals back, but because I wanted them to be treated with the highest utmost respect and have great strategies that we could use together as part of the financial plan.
So, for me, my company, we’re set up as an LLC. I run an S-Corp from that for tax purposes. And I pay myself a livable wage and then quarterly, I bonus myself more for distributions so I can reduce the actual tax that’s coming in or excuse me, that I’m paying out, and then I can have that distribution from a different tax perspective and live very comfortably.
And then really, the business produces my income. So, it’s nice to look back on the quarter and go, “We did really well, great. Bonus yourself, pay off debt, do these other things that now are involved with my financial plan.”
So, those work together. Like really the tax planning on my end is more on the business side than anything else. It’s the business strategy. It keeps us rolling. And quite honestly, like I want someone else to do that. The hassle, the stress and the time savings is incredibly valuable.
Steven Jarvis: I appreciate you sharing that. Quite often, I think advisors just assume that there’s some base level of knowledge that clients have about taxes, and there’s just so little about taxes that’s intuitive.
And even for what we can sit here and between us called the simpler tax strategies, because there might be people listening who think, well, LLC versus S-Corp, everyone knows that.
Well, first of all, they don’t. And second of all, it’s not just about knowing the topic exists, there’s headlines for days about these kinds of things. It’s about how do I actually put that in practice and then make it successful.
Because even just using the LLC and S-Corp example, it’s not as simple as you wake up tomorrow, read an article about how there might be advantages to having an S-Corp and saying, “Great, let me check the S-Corp box” and now I’m done.
Now, we’ve got a set up payroll and there’s things we need to track each year and there’s an extra tax file that we need to do and there’s all these things that go with it. So, the difference between having the … or landing on the right idea or strategy, and then effectively implementing that strategy or idea, there’s a huge divide between the two.
And at the end of the day, having someone who has that focus, who has the reps in to help you know the things to avoid, to watch out for, that’s what makes the difference in it being a really valuable experience.
And there might be advisors who’re listening to this who go through and say, you know what, when I look at those five things that you talked about of what’s my sweet spot, maybe for you, tax planning is one of those. That’s fantastic. If that’s what you get excited about, that’s where you’re delivering a lot of value to clients, I’d love to hear it. I’d love learning from people who are doing this every day.
But for a lot of advisors, tax planning, isn’t going to make that top five and then it becomes a matter of, okay, so then where do I learn that from and how do I make sure that value is getting delivered?
Travis Parry: I see. Well said.
Steven Jarvis: So, as you think through kind of how you work with advisors, maybe a specific to tax planning or another area of delivering value to clients, what are some of the shifts that you see as far as being able to embrace this idea of balance and then being able to expand services to clients?
Because there might be this line of thinking that balance is all about just taking more time off. But I, I think there’s room there to say, “Can we use this concept to increase the value we deliver to clients?”
Travis Parry: Yeah. Again, I think the collaboration between financial advisor, financial accountants, CPAs, is so crucial. Like I know a lot of CPAs before I was leaving the industry to go get the PhD and the masters under the belt, were starting to become advisors themselves because they could see just how overlap was so important that they wanted take it on.
Now, I’m not going to say that that’s the right or the wrong thing. Everybody has to make up their own mind. But if you’re an advisor and you’re not a CPA, you’re not providing that — I know some advisors who are CPAs and still outsource this because they know what it entails.
So, maybe that might even be more fun to talk, but what I’m big on is just know where your work sweet spot is, and then delegate, automate, or delete those things you don’t need below. Create a ranking that I talk about in Achieving Balance book, you can get at achievingbalancebook.com. Like chapter four or five we talk about this, how you can create this work sweet spot and then shift this now to what’s the action.
What do you do with this? Well, now. you go and you schedule your time so that you’re actually doing those five things. It’s one thing like, “Oh yeah, really, wish I was just working as an advisor and doing these four or five things in my day.” Great, but what does your calendar look like? How have you changed that? How have you morphed that?
Like there really is no excuse anymore with Calendly, with automation, with setting up your calendar, like you can block out all of the time you need now to basically say this is when I’m going to be rebalancing portfolios. This is when I’m meeting one on one with clients for reviews. This is when I’m taking new clients. This is when I am marketing for new contacts.
Like you can do that now with the tools that we have. There’s really no excuse. But most will not do that exercise. It won’t create an ideal calendar. And then third, let’s just say you are extremely productive. Well, Travis. I’m already a productive financial advisor, I’m working in my sweet spot, great.
Do you have boundaries outside of work? Do you give yourself limits or are you just what I call in the book, a productive workaholic. Where you’re just going to continue to work because you enjoy it so much. Your clients need you, the markets are crazy.
Steven, you and I talked about on my podcast about getting out of the office and really having a break. Like number one, if you want to be great for your clients, that’s excellent. But I know most advisors, when they talk to me, they say, “Travis, my spiritual health, my physical health, my relationship with my spouse and family, those are the most important three or four things in my life right now.”
And if they don’t have that in place, if they don’t have time scheduled for that, they will not feel balanced. They may be productive at work, but if they come home and they’re on their email and they’re texting their clients or they’re texting their team or they’re on Teams and they’re scheduling stuff till the late hours, or they have a dinner and then they go back to their office in the evening upstairs, that’s not balance.
That’s what we call fake balance. And that productive workaholic in the end will not have great health. They will not have that great connection with God that they want. And they won’t have that relationship with their loved ones because they didn’t put the time in.
So, balance for me and balance what I’ve seen in my own life, and balance what I’ve been able to observe and research with advisors is literally making time for those things that matter the most to them. That’s why we call ourselves “A make time institute.” It was actually a placeholder. It was like I don’t know what to call ourselves, make time institute. Let’s just go with it because it’s all about this method, the make time method that is very intentional. It’s not reactive.
Steven Jarvis: So many great reminders in there. I really love that. Before we pivot to action items, I want to sure that everyone listening takes this information and does something with it. You mentioned a couple of things in there of how advisors can follow up more with things that you are doing. Just throw out a couple of quick ways that advisors can follow up on the great work you’re putting out.
Travis Parry: They can go to achievingbalancebook.com and pick up the entire bundle. If they go forward slash book bundle or achievingbalancebook.com, they can find the book there. Or travisparry.com and you’ll see that link if you don’t want to type that whole thing. And so travisparry.com.
And in that bundle offer, I’ve got paperback, the eBook, the audio, and the hardback, if you want the whole thing. Plus this t-shirt that if you’re on the podcast, you can’t see it: the Balanced Advisor t-shirt that we send out as a gift for those who are part of this, because this is a movement. This isn’t just a book.
It’s not just something that we’re just trying to publish and get rid of. We’re really trying to create a movement within this industry, because balance is absolutely needed.
You can connect with me on LinkedIn. I am very proactive. We are on LinkedIn solely. I mean, we might repurpose other networks, but LinkedIn is where I interact with just … we do webinars, events. I post all my content there on the podcast, even right there on LinkedIn for you to follow. So, connect with me on that network.
Otherwise, I’m speaking a lot of events coming up, things are opening, events are coming back: FPA, NAFA, others are having me. And if you’re interested, you can go to travisparry.com to have me come out and speak for your company as well.
Steven Jarvis: Perfect. Yeah, there’s already some great action items right in there if you’d like to follow up more on what Travis is doing. The other thing that really stood out to me from our conversation as far as action item goes is take the time to physically write out that list that Travis talked about.
And for me, I literally do it with a pen and paper. There’s something impactful for me about writing it out by hand and really, I’d recommend you’re writing out two lists; that business center that your highest and best use that we talked about.
Travis Parry: That work sweet spot.
Steven Jarvis: That work sweet spot. Thank you.
Travis Parry: Yeah, I got you.
Steven Jarvis: What are those things that energize you, that’s the best use of your time? And that should be a short list. That can’t be 10 or 20 things. You haven’t done it right if it’s that many. It should be three or four or five things. What is the highest and best use for you?
Next to that, we still need the list of what are the things that you are committed to delivering to your clients. And not surprisingly, I am hoping and advocating that tax planning is on that list because it’s such an integral part of what all of us do. Anybody who’s making money has a tax impact.
And so, we need both of these lists, so that then instead of just focusing on what do we do for our clients and, well, I guess I better do those all myself, we can look for where there is not overlap and say, okay, where do I delegate? Where do I figure out a resource or just remove this from my life so that I am focusing on the things that are my highest and best use.
So, take the time to make those lists and then make sure that you are turning that into action of how am I going to delegate? How am I going to improve so I’m spending more of my time on that highest and best use?
Of course, the last action item is wherever you listen to your podcast, give us a five-star review, leave a comment. We love hearing from our listeners. The podcast continues to grow and we would like to keep seeing that happening so that we can keep sharing great things to do with tax planning for advisors and their clients.
Travis, thanks again so much for being here today. Really appreciate having you on.
Travis Parry: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks, Steven for the opportunity to share with your listeners. I know advisors you’re doing hard work and this is a very difficult time. Clients need you and they need you to be top of your game and be balanced. So, thank you for having me on.
Steven Jarvis: Yeah, absolutely. To everyone listening, thanks for being here and until next time, good luck out there. And remember to tip your server and not the IRS.
We’re not overpaying. No, we’re not overpaying. We’re not overpaying anymore. The tax code’s complicated, boring, and overrated. You don’t want that, you want a pro. One thing that you should know: this is a radio show. It’s not tax advice, don’t take it that way.
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.