Click Here To Listen To The Retirement Tax Services Podcast


What You'll Learn
  • How Cody ensures he is delivering value through tax planning. (2:05)
  • The three documents he always reviews with new clients. (3:30)
  • How to show your clients it is a collaborative relationship. (7:20)
  • What Cody believes is the best way to learn. (13:55)
  • The benefit of being intentional with how you word things to your clients. (15:45)
  • Why you shouldn't assume that your clients don’t want to become educated about their financial situations. (18:10)
  • The importance of educating your clients about life insurance. (23:50)
  • Why you shouldn’t underestimate the power of the employer contribution. (28:50)
  • How to elevate your tax planning in 2022. (32:10)

Today’s guest is passionate about providing conflict-free financial education to help do-it-yourself investors refine their path to financial independence. Cody Garrett, CFP, is the owner of Measure Twice Money, and in this episode, he will be sharing his advice for ensuring his clients are receiving massive value through a comprehensive tax plan that they truly understand.

Listen in as Cody shares the importance of taking intentional ownership over the analysis of specific documents, as well as how to build a stronger relationship with your clients. You will learn why you must focus on the value you are serving to your clients, why you should never compromise effectiveness for efficiency, and why you should always provide opportunities for education.

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

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.

Nearly every movement of money has a tax consequence or a lack thereof.

- Cody Garrett

I don’t believe that you can truly understand the families you serve without understanding how to review their financial documents.

- Cody Garrett

I can’t give the best advice for a family unless I understand the truly comprehensive nature of their financial ecosystem.

- Cody Garrett

Read The Transcript Below:

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 Professional’s Edition. I am your host, Steven Jarvis, CPA. And in this show, I teach financial advisors how to deliver massive value through tax planning.

My guest today on the show, I’m really excited to have here because he also works with financial advisors on how to improve their planning process. My guest is Cody Garrett, who’s a CFP, the owner of Measure Twice Financial. He is an actively practicing CFP, and he also does a lot of work with financial advisors through Measure Twice planners. So Cody, welcome to the show.

Cody Garrett:      Thanks so much, Steven. I appreciate your invite today.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah, of course. We’re recording this in December but end of January this is coming out. So I just throw that out for context, for some of the conversation we’re going to have. At this point, the Build Back Better bill has not been approved in any way so we’re going to ignore that. We’re going to stick to stuff we can actually do things with because, no matter what version of that comes through, there is still some core planning that we all can be doing with our clients. So Cody, I would love for you to start with just, as you work with clients, what are some of the things you do to make sure that you are delivering value through tax planning?

Cody Garrett:      Well, what I found out through doing the CFP program was that, your taxes, you learn some general rules, certainly about how the tax consequences and investments, for example, are a big part of financial advising like, what are the consequences of moving investments around? Are there tax consequences? We talk about the asset tax location, the pre-tax, your traditional, the taxable brokerage and then the after tax or tax free Roth or HSA accounts. Really, nearly every movement of money has a tax consequence, or a lack thereof, depending on where the money’s moving from and where it’s going. One thing in the CFP program that I noticed, in terms of the taxes, is we learn a lot of these rules but we don’t actually see it in real life, not just in terms of the client conversations, but we don’t actually go through the forms like, “Here’s a 1040, let’s go line by line to understand.”

It’s actually equally important to know the tax rules and all the limits and stuff that you can Google, but also understand, “How do I actually review financial documents so that not just I understand the quantitative financial ecosystem of the families I serve, but how can I find opportunities for quality discussions out of these documents?” So a tax return, to me… I always tell families I serve that a tax return, a pay statement and a social security statement, those three documents can tell me sometimes more about their family than they might be open to share with me on the first call. So I don’t believe that you can truly understand the families you serve without understanding how to review their financial documents, including tax returns.

We always think taxes, we think, “Oh, well, I look at their tax returns,” if that. But outside of tax returns, the pay statement, we know there’s a lot of exclusions from the W-2 box one that don’t even show up. You won’t even know some of the details of their tax situation just by seeing their tax returns. So seeing their pay statements, looking at invest statements, certainly, adjusted cost basis, we can go down a rabbit hole, certainly, but I just say that there’s a lot more to taxes than what you learned possibly in the CFP program. I do believe that every financial planner, this is the only time we’ll say ‘every’ at a financial conversation, every financial planner should go through the enrolled agent, at least part one, the individuals, just to get a deeper dive on the actual… More of the rules that you learned in the CFP program, if you went through that, but also a deeper dive into the forms that you find this information on and under understanding how to read and review those forms.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. That’s that’s a great framework for how to look at approaching tax planning with your clients, with the families you serve, I like how you refer to it that way, because it really does go beyond simply, “Hey, I know what the limits are for making Roth contributions,” or, “I know how much they can contribute to an HSA.” I like that you take it a step further, because we talk all the time on this podcast about, “Hey, you should be getting tax returns for every client every single year,” because, and this is no disrespect to anyone’s clients, but you can’t just trust your clients. You can’t just take their word for it when it comes to taxes. Even if you assume positive intent, this stuff is complicated, it’s tricky. If you’re not looking at the actual documents, there are things that are going to get missed.

And so I definitely always start with, if you’re not getting tax returns, you need to be. To be a responsible financial planner, you need to get the tax returns. I like that you take it a step further and you look at the pay stubs or the social security statements. For advisor, there’s a lot advisors who work primarily with pre-retirees and retirees, also great. They don’t have a pay statement, but there are other documents besides just the tax return that it’s going to give you just a wealth of information if you take the time to put the work in. This is definitely extra work. Cody, I’ve talked to you on several occasions and you work with a lot of other advisors. One of the things I like about what you do is that you’re not trying to sugarcoat that this is a simple process. We’ll talk in just a minute about how you outline this for advisors of what your plan looks like.

Cody Garrett:      Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. We’re not trying to shy away from this. This can be a lot of work, but it’s important work if you want to provide valuable advice for the families you serve.

Cody Garrett:      Yeah. Big thing that I’ve noticed is a lot of advisors are very much about showing the work but not doing it. And I do believe that delegation can be important if you have a practice and you do have maybe a paraplanner that you’re working with. But I do believe that you have to take intentional ownership over some of these, some of this analysis. Because again, I think a lot of times advisors think there’s this quantitative data, there’s this black and white data like, “Send me all your documents,” and you summarize it or have somebody else summarize it. And then there’s the qualitative conversations to learn about their objectives and values as a family. But really, if you aren’t intentional on both sides, you can’t bridge that connection.

I find that if you just look at quantitative and then you create a clear barrier or wall and then you go, “let’s talk about how money makes you feel. Let’s talk about your mindset about money,” I believe it actually goes back to my planning process. Well, first of all, I don’t request any financial documents until the engagement has begun. That shows responsibility and really intentionality that this is going to be a collaborative relationship, that reviewing the financial documents is actually a primary value of the relationship. It’s not just a transactional, “You send me stuff and then we’ll start having conversations,” it’s that the review and summarization of all of the financial information, even the quantitative, is just important and also bridges that gap and creates opportunities for the conversations on the qualitative side.

Steven Jarvis:     I think this reinforces what you’re talking about. I want to circle back for a second to the comment you made before about the difference between knowing what the rules are, what the limits are, and knowing where they show up on these different tax documents. Because, you’re studying for the EA, getting your EA can certainly be a great way to learn some of that, but personally, even having my CPA, there’s nothing that can replace the hands on experience of going through and seeing how these things work in practice. And great news, taxes is always going to give you an opportunity to come back and continue to add value because the forms change, the rules change. There’s some consistent themes in there, but if you aren’t taking the time to pull out the actual document and know where these different things come through, whether it’s tax efficient charitable giving, or Roth conversions, or limits on contributions, HSAs, whatever it is.

You shouldn’t be able to just tell your clients what the numbers are. You should be able to see, “Okay, and here’s where it got reported correctly.” So having an intentional step in your process, whether you’re getting the tax returns to highlight for prospects, opportunities you can work with them on, or, Cody, like you’re doing of, “Hey, we get the engagement started, then we get the physical documents,” but it has to be intentional. This can’t be a, “Oh, if I get to it.” This has to be a very committed step in your process, to get those documents, to get the repetitions to build that, to build that muscle, build that skillset, so that you are consistently and effectively delivering value.

Cody Garrett:      I love that, in terms of the tax return, I think a lot of people see the tax return as a supplement. “And by the way, can I see your tax return?” Rather than the tax return is just as important, maybe probably, actually to me, more important than seeing their investment statements. I know that, traditional models, usually investment statements are the priority for what I can view, because those might be assets that are moving over or becoming under management at some point. But I believe that the tax returns, investment statements, pay statements, social security statements, they’re all just important to me as, “Are you married? Do you have kids?” I think you have to see it at that level. There’s not this tranche. There aren’t tranches or levels of priority with financial documents like, “Oh, well these are the ones I really need,” and then, “Oh, by the way, if you have this…”

I think, making that actually requirement, my data gathering checklist that I send has… I guess, on average, a family sends me 40 to 50 documents. And I specifically focus on, what I call, truly comprehensive financial planning, because I understand that I can’t really give, not just fiduciary advice in terms of a legal sense, but I can’t the best advice for a family unless I understand the truly comprehensive nature of their financial ecosystem and them as a family. So I spend… Again, going back to that, “Do the work,” my average financial planning, doing the one time plan in my practice, I spend about 20 hours in that process. And I do believe that certainly I want to be careful about not creating efficiencies that aren’t related to effectiveness. Right?

Steven Jarvis:     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cody Garrett:      So if you create efficiencies for maybe delegating some of this or saying, “Well, I’m not going to do as much, I’m going to try to avoid spending more time on this,” you have to say, “Well, by creating that efficiency, have you actually eliminated some of the effectiveness of how you can provide massive value in your practice, to the families you serve?”

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. That’s a great point. The focus really has to be on the value to the client you’re serving because there isn’t a magic number of hours on either end of, “This number means I’m really efficient,” or, “This number means I’m really effective.” You have to come back to, what’s the value to the client? And then just, coming from a business owner standpoint, of course, you want to do that efficiently where it makes sense. But yeah, there isn’t a magic number of hours. It’s, what’s the value to the client? And I like how, even in the way you describe that, you’re talking about how it can almost feel easier to present this as an option to clients. It doesn’t seem so blunt to say, “Hey, you have to give this to me,” which that’s not the way I would phrase it either.

Cody Garrett:      Right, right, right.

Steven Jarvis:     If you want to be consistent, if you want your clients to follow through on giving you these things, you got to make it clear to them why it is valuable to them to do these things and not present it as an option, because the best advisors I work with, similar to what you’re saying, Cody, it’s not an option for their clients. It’s not, “Hey, give me your investment statement. That’s a must. And if you decide to happen to bring your tax return, super,” it’s, “No, no, no. These are prerequisites. For me to do my best work, which I’m only willing to do my best work, these are the documents I have to have.” So whatever is on your list, for advisors listening, make sure that you’re not presenting those as options, because if it’s optional, why is it on your list at all?

Cody Garrett:      Yeah. I love the framework. I think the language we use as advisors is so important. As you heard before, instead of saying, “My clients,” which shows a false ownership, I use, “The families I serve,” so the way I request financial documents, instead of just seeing it as, again, transactional, like I tell you what to do, you give me the stuff, I tell you what to do, just back and forth… I know a lot of advisors will say, “I have a lot of trouble getting clients to send me the stuff I request.” Again, I think it comes back to language you use and setting really defining expectations for a collaborative relationship. One of the things that I specifically say when I request documents is, “I really look forward to learning about your family through the review of these documents.”

So if somebody doesn’t give you their documents, they actually feel like they’re not just letting themselves down, but they’re letting you down. Once you make it clear to a family that reviewing these documents… Thing is, they might view it as a chore like, “Ugh, all this data, I don’t want to go through all this.” If you explain to them with really clear and defined, intentional language that you love reviewing this financial information, by not giving it to you, they’re going to feel like they’re letting you down. They’re like, “Oh, well, if Cody enjoys this, yes, I’m glad to pass it over.” And my goal… I always say that my role as a financial planner is to provide personalized financial education to help families make their own well-informed decisions. I also believe that the best way to learn is to teach.

A big part of planning, especially tax planning, is I’m not just reviewing the financial documents and then telling them what to do, or outcomes. I also don’t do any implementation for the client. So when I look through these financial documents, I don’t just see this as opportunity to review them and then just tell them what to do, but rather I actually bring them, I can show them even through screen shares since I do a 100% remote planning, is I can educate them on how to review their own documents moving forward. So I work solely with DIY investors who my goal is that by the end of our planning engagement, it’s a three month engagement, that they have the clarity and confidence, not just to implement the solutions, but to understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it and graduate to do it themselves moving forward.

So I show them how to view adjusted cost basis. I show them, especially if they’re interested. I would love to show them, “Hey…” For example, I have really a federal income tax formula that I teach them just the basics, how to read of 1040, not necessarily with the form, but saying, “Hey, here’s your gross income, here’s your adjustments to income, here’s your AGI,” and what these things mean. The difference between AGI and taxable income can actually be a very fruitful conversation. And they go, “Wow, I didn’t know that.” And I think, even if you’re working with delegators, you assume they want things done for them. We should not assume just because they’re delegators that they don’t want to understand what’s being done. So I think always provide opportunities for education, even if you’re are working with delegators.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. There’s some really great points in there. I want to draw it out. The first is that you’ve clearly taken the time to be very intentional about the language you use with your clients, which is really important. I like that recommendation of, “I’m looking forward to reviewing this document,” because it brings it back to, there is value to them. Even if you’re not specifically saying, “I’m looking forward to reviewing it because of X, Y and Z,” but it’s focusing on, there’s value in it to the client, you’re not just trying to check a box to say, “Yep, I got it. Let’s put it in the file cabinet.” So being intentional about your language is super important.

I like this focus on education because there are lots of different ways to do financial planning. You’re highlighting different types of clients. Whether you’re working with DIYers or delegators, there are all sorts of different ways to approach this. I have yet to meet the advisor who can convince me that their approach means they shouldn’t be doing tax planning. That’s just one thing, but I want to have this education piece because… You commented it on the end there, but whether you’re working with DIYers or delegators or anyone in between, there is value in helping pull back the curtain a little bit on how this whole tax process works, because no matter how involved in these families’ lives you are, there’s going to be things that you just aren’t aware of. And if you’re educating them on the process, they’re going to participate in the process and say, “Hey, the last three times we’ve met, you’ve mentioned this topic and now here’s something that’s come up that I think might be relevant. Should we be talking about this?”

And so that education piece is huge, both from identifying opportunities and just providing peace of mind. Taxes are really complicated. They’re scary for a lot of people. It’s this mysterious black box of, “I had income and then I pay taxes and everything in between was completely outside of my control,” which is not true. If we can pull back that curtain a little bit and help families understand, “Okay, here are the areas where we can have an influence, here’s where we need to make sure that we’re just meeting the requirements for compliance.” But where do we have that opportunity to be proactive and make sure that we’re not overpaying the IRS, because we get no patriotic awards for doing it.

Cody Garrett:      I love, again, going back to the framing, just as financial planners, financial advisors, we want to make sure that, first of all, when we’re working with a couple, married or partners, there’s usually that ‘financial spouse’ who assumes the other spouse isn’t interested. But what that really is, is an assumption. So just like the financial spouse assumes the other spouse doesn’t care about the finances, sometimes as advisors, we assume that our clients, the families we serve, don’t want to learn this, that they don’t want to understand where, in reality, again, going back, the initial… If they tell you, “I’m not really interested in this stuff. I mean, this is beyond my understanding,” I think that you should unpack that a little bit because their lack of understanding or wanting to know might be more from a place of shame and regret about past financial decisions, more than their actual interest in becoming educated about their financial situation.

There’s one thing that I say, especially with investments, is that the gap between risk tolerance, so how we feel behaviorally, emotionally about taking risk, the gap between risk tolerance and risk capacity, our objective ability to take risk, the gap between those two is financial education. So the more financial education we can provide, and truly give the clarity and the confidence for families to make well informed decisions, we actually close the gap between the two. It doesn’t completely become aligned, because we’re human at the end of the day, but just understanding that you can get their risk capacity and their risk tolerance much closer just by having educational conversations, rather than just telling them what to do.

Steven Jarvis:     Definitely. It really helps with that implementation piece. I know, in your case, you’re doing the education and then passing the implementation onto the DIYers you work with, but whether that’s how you approach it, or you’re an advisor that helps with the implementation, the education piece makes the implementation much more likely to actually happen. If we’re clear on the ‘why.’ Because, even if you’re an advisor that helps with the implementation, you probably still need help from the client, whether that’s signing documents or providing documents or following through on whatever strategy you’re working with them on, that having getting clear on that ‘why,’ taking the time for the education, is going to make the implementation much, much more likely to happen successfully.

Cody Garrett:      I love the way you said that about, if truly people know not just what to do, but why they’re doing it… And actually, not just why they’re doing it, again, transactionally, but how does implementing this decision align with my personal values and objectives that we identified in the qualitative part of planning? So now that they know why they’re doing it in alignment with their own financial situation… Most of the financial media, we need to remember this, of the families that we serve… They’re being provided most of their ‘financial education’ through dogmatic financial media that’s, “Always do this, never do this, the top 10 things you should do.” None of that information is speaking to them specifically and their personal objectives and values, versus our relationship with the families we serve is exactly that.

So we can have the deeper conversations that the TV cannot have with them because they don’t understand them as a person, a family. Sometimes we’re the only person in their life that truly understands the alignment of their money with their personal values. So if we can educate and help them understand that the decisions that they’re making actually just makes sense for them personally, they’re a lot more likely to implement those decisions.

Steven Jarvis:     Definitely. Cody let’s pivot just a little bit here. We talk all the time in this podcast about getting tax returns. I already said it, but I mean I love that you are taking the time to also get things like pay stubs. You actually sent me over a document you use that highlights, “Here are the different tax planning considerations I look for in my planning process.” But specifically talking about pay stubs for advisors who’ve never thought about doing that before, what are the types of things you’re looking for? What lines you look for, what amounts you look for, and then what kind of decisions can you make based on that? Help us understand how we can make this really effective if there’s an advisor who wants to take the time to get pay stubs.

Cody Garrett:      Absolutely. I don’t really believe that we can have a full tax picture without having the pay statement, the W-2, and the tax returns. A big thing about the W-2… Sorry, I’ll just jump back. One really important thing with the pay statement, is there are some things that are excluded from the W-2 and the tax return that are tax related. The big one there certainly are the contributions. We learn a lot about cafeteria plans, the ability to… They have their options as an employee, to choose HSA contributions or, “Do I want to have additional health benefits through my employer?” So things like HSAs, we know that HSA contributions, health savings accounts, those contributions made directly through payroll not only are excluded from income tax… It does show up, 8889, the HSA form for the ’employer contribution.’.

It’s not only excluded from federal income tax, but it’s also excluded from social security, the 6.2% up to the wage base, plus the Medicare 1.45 from the employee contribution. So understanding, from a pay statement of, “Hey…” And again, this is an opportunity to educate them that, first of all, there are taxes outside of just what they see as income taxes, talking about FICA, understanding, certainly on the self-employed side, paying both halves as the employee and the employer. Going down into the W-2 is really seeing those elective deferrals right employer sponsor retirement plans. So the big one there is the different codes in box 12. When you look at those codes and understand… You might see D or DD, some of those letters, I mean, those are quickly… For me, I don’t have them all memorized. I just go onto Google and say, “What do each of these codes mean?”

But a big part… This is a great conversation. There’s two benefits that are really important. One is life insurance, group life insurance, understanding and educating about the imputed income. So if the employer covers more than $50,000 of term life insurance, that additional benefit that the employer is paying for, actually is imputed taxable income to the employee. So that, one thing there, it also creates a conversation with a client that if they don’t have that imputed income, if they don’t have that, that means their employer most likely is only covering up to $50,000 of term life insurance, which can be a big signifier that, “Hey, we need to see if we have the option to do more voluntary group benefits, or maybe we should look at private life insurance policies.” So that’s one, is life insurance.

The second is health insurance. Most employees do not truly understand how much their employer is paying for their health insurance. They leave their employer and go, “Wow, health insurance is expensive. I was only paying 5,000 bucks a year for health insurance and now I’m paying 20,000 bucks.” They don’t realize really the true compensation that they’re being provided by their employer until they leave. And this also comes down to decisions of, “Hey, I just got a job offer.” We can look at the W-2, we can look at the pay statement and we can say, “Hey, look, just to let you know…” And I would say, on average, I see that employers pay between $15,000 and $20,000 per employee for their health insurance, especially if they have family coverage. So this is another opportunity to combine your tax conversation with insurance. We learn all these different parts of planning separately, but this is an opportunity to join them together and have deeper conversations.

Steven Jarvis:     And the areas you’re describing, Cody, certainly reinforce this idea that it’s not enough to just ask your clients these questions, because these are confusing areas. There are so many acronyms involved. It’s easy to get these things confused. And so if you’re just asking your clients, “Hey, what kind of life insurance coverage do you have? Do you use an HSA or an FSA? Do you have access to those things?” even things like, “Are you making traditional or Roth 401(K) contributions,” these things aren’t always really clear in a client’s mind. And so to be able to look at that W-2 and help them understand what those benefits are, and then from a financial planning standpoint of, then what does that mean for other opportunities we should be looking at, whether that’s because they’re changing jobs, or just, are they really maximizing the opportunities available to them, that acronym, SOUP, that ends up on these different forms, it is overwhelming for just about anyone and most of your client are not taking the time to Google those things to say, “What does this really mean?”

One that comes up, I feel like quite often, with clients is the misunderstanding of what types of contributions they’re making to a 401(K) and what the tax qualification of the employer contributions are. A common misconception is, “Hey, I make Roth contributions, my employer matches them, so great.” All of these funds are after tax dollars. You’re laughing so I know that you’re very aware that that’s just not the case, regardless of what type of contributions you as the employee make, the employer is making pre-tax contributions, the tax deferred contributions, because that’s how they get a tax benefit from it. And so rather than just say, “Hey, what type of contributions do you make?” get the W-2, get the actual statements so that you can see, “Okay, here’s, what’s really going on,” so that the planning recommendations you make are more informed. They’re more accurate. They’re more valuable to the client.

Cody Garrett:      Yeah. I love talking about the employer match. This is another opportunity. We talk about aligning and combining topics, is another document that I request is the summary plan description of their employer sponsored retirement plan. So I can see immediately on their pay statement what the employer matches sometimes, but I also want to know really what’s the formula for that. There are multiple formulas. And there’s another thing I outside attack is that I love talking about in terms of the employer match. I really like to inform families that we need to think about money in terms of time.

Most people say, “Oh, my employer gives me a 3% match. They only give me a 3% match,” is what we hear like three is a small number. But what’s really crazy about the 3% match is it’s equivalent to an extra… It’s over a week and a half of additional pay. So if I take my crazy financial calculator out for a second, 52 times 0.03, so 1.56. This is crazy about compounding, this is just me having fun, is that more than one and a half weeks of additional pay that you got just from the employer side, let’s say that we use a 7% return on that for 25 years, that turns into eight and a half weeks of pay and retirement. So do not underestimate the power of the employer contribution.

And I love what you said there about, “Oh, I have a Roth 401(K) so it’s all in Roth,” but it is really important for us to educate that, the Roth 401(K), we see it as this big pool, but there’s this thing called a record keeper that’s really, they’re keeping track. Whichever name is at the top of your statement, that’s the record keeper. They’re the ones that are determining, “Hey, within that pool, there’s your bucket of your contributions, your pre-tax, your Roth.” Your employer, yes, goes into the pre-tax bucket. Again, going back to the summary plan description, they may have an option to do end plan Roth conversions and you wouldn’t know. I mean, asking a client, “Hey, does your employer offer end plan Roth conversions and end plan distribution?” They’d be like, “I don’t think so,” or, “I don’t know.” So go ahead and just do the work. Do the work and have these really fruitful conversations that go beyond the basics.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. Such a great recommendation. So Cody, before we get to action items, which is how we always like to wrap up, you’ve spent a lot of time getting really detailed, really intentional about how this planning process works for you, to the point where you actually are now getting to the point where you’re going to start sharing this with other advisors who want to learn how to do this very hands on detailed approach. So if advisors are listening to this and thinking, “Hey, I really like the approach that Cody’s taking, I’d really love to learn more about that,” how can advisors learn more about what you’re doing?

Cody Garrett:      Thanks for the question. Right now, I’ve outlined about 66 topic areas that I cover in a comprehensive financial planning engagement. Not all of those 66 apply to each family, but it really gives me a variety of great conversations to have. So what I’m doing is, every week in 2022, I’m spending a few days really going into the weeds of doing a lot of research, on your behalf, doing a lot of research on these topics. For example, let’s say that I spend a few days learning everything I can about auto insurance, I’m going to write an article about all the things I learned about auto insurance and, more importantly, I’m going to create a video on how I review in real time an auto insurance policy, a statement. So at this point, by doing financial planning for a few years, I have over 50 auto insurance policies that I’m reviewing.

I have actually over 900 financial documents I’m reviewing during this process of building out this material for advisors. Going through 50 auto insurance policies through all the different types of companies, the GEICO, the Allstate, and the Farmers, I can understand what information is on all these statements so that, moving forward, you know what to look for. And also, looking through those statements, I’m going to share opportunities for, “These are the discussions that you might have with the families you serve about their auto insurance,” through understanding how to review this document. So looking over 66 planning areas, that’s also… A lot of this is going to be free. I’m also going to be doing video courses as well. It’s all going to be at, launching in 2022.

Steven Jarvis:     That’s really exciting, So if you want to learn more about Cody’s detailed process and see how he’s going through these, All right. So Cody, based on the conversation we’ve had today, what are action items you would recommend that are advisors take to elevate their game when it comes to tax planning?

Cody Garrett:      I would say, go beyond the basics. I would say that if you’re going to do this in one, and since it’s… It’s do the work. Going back to what we talked about earlier, about being effective versus efficient, don’t create so many efficiencies in your practice that you stop doing the work and delivering massive value to your clients, especially in the tax area. So if you aren’t already looking at tax returns… For example, if you don’t feel comfortable yet, reviewing tax returns, there are a lot of resources out there. The enrolled agent designation, the part one is a great resource for learning more about really understanding the 1040.

But also, we are a very collaborative profession industry where, if you don’t feel comfortable reviewing financial documents, seek out others who do, and most of us are willing to really share really under the hood. We’re willing to share and give away everything we do. One of the big quotes I say is that giving is a way of life, not a strategy. So the things that you’re really good at, give it away and hopefully others in the industry will continue to give it all away in other areas like Steven does with tax planning.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. That’s awesome. So making sure you’re going beyond the basics. Pick a specific action you can take. If you already get tax returns, take that extra step and get W-2s or social security statements, something else relevant to your clients. Going beyond the basics, I love that. And then making sure you have a community. Whether that’s becoming a member of RTS or finding other advisors to connect with, learning from other people is great, being able to bounce ideas off and say, “Okay, here are the things I pull out. What am I missing?” But being able to learn from your peers is huge so I really appreciate that as well. Cody, thanks so much for taking the time to come on the podcast today. I really appreciate you being here.

Cody Garrett:      All right. Thank you so much for inviting me. I appreciate your time.

Steven Jarvis:     Yeah. And to everyone listening, good luck out there. And until next time, 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.

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