How the XYPN National Conference Inspired Action

XYPN Conference

Last year, I attended the first XY Planning Network conference, #XYPN15. I had recently passed my one-year mark with a fee-only financial planning firm and received my CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™  designation.

Last year’s conference helped inspire me to launch a meaningful project, and I’m excited to attend this year’s conference to receive further inspiration and learn even more from both the presenters and the attendees.

Here’s how I was able to get the most out of the conference and what these steps specifically led me to do after it had ended.

Explore Your Curiosity

I went into the conference hoping to absorb as much information as I could. Working for a fee-only firm is my fourth job (in my third field) since graduating from college. I finally felt I had found the right industry but recognized I had several questions and a lot to learn. (I’m still navigating my own niche within the world of personal finance.) I knew I could learn by listening, and I was curious about a lot of things.

To explore my curiosity, I did some research ahead of time to decide which sessions I especially wanted to attend. For me, this included Carl Richard’s keynote, as well as panel discussions on the monthly retainer model and niche marketing.

There were other sessions I thought would be interesting and relevant, but if I found myself engaged in a meaningful conversation, it was well worth the time to explore my curiosity through the conversation and skip the current session. (Fortunately, there was plenty of time built into the schedule to do to both!)

I went to the conference unsure of where I would thrive most within the profession. While I did not think starting my own firm at the time was the right decision for me, I wanted to confirm those thoughts.

I talked with as many people as I could, asking them questions about what they do, why they decided to attend the conference, and what their career path has looked like so far. I learned from the experiences and perspectives of many – whether they had just started a firm, were thinking of doing so, or specifically decided not to.

I talked to attendees who worked for Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) in both client-facing and non-client-facing roles, as well as those who worked within the industry but not inside in a firm – working instead in financial education or technology.

I often need to remind myself I don’t need to know the end goal of my career today. (I can be impatient!) This is, at least in part, because I am sure my “end goal” will change over time.

It seems when we get to the “end,” we’re then ready for the next challenge. While I don’t see a clear path telling me to do A, which will lead to B, and ultimately get me to my final destination, C, I remind myself to explore what I am curious about right now and see where it takes me.

Make a Friend

Through the many conversations I had, I was able to find a few people I easily connected with. It helps when so many peers are in the same place…no offense to the old white guys in suits!

These friendships were valuable during the conference because we could share our reactions to different speakers and bounce our own ideas off each other. These relationships continued after the conference and have been great resources for questions, encouragement, and friendship.

I think it’s important to learn from a lot of people but also have a few trusted friends in the industry you can count on. #XYPN16 is a great place to make these connections.

Get Specific

By the end of the conference, I think it’s important we each walk away with something to do. There will be a lot of great ideas shared, but if you don’t walk away with a specific action item, it’s just stagnant information.

You may come to the conference with a specific question or two you need answered. If that’s the case, attend the sessions applicable to those questions and talk to as many people as you can about them.

Then, make the best decision you can based on the information you have and act on it. Don’t let a desire for the perfect solution keep you from doing anything.

Alternatively, you may, like I did last year, come to the conference without a specific question but a desire to learn from many, helping to narrow down your focus within the industry. Someone else may attend searching for more ways to get involved.

Whatever it is you’re seeking, my advice is to make sure you make a decision and take action as a result of the conference. It may be you decide to implement a new technology, launch your own firm, join the Financial Planning Association (FPA), or form a mastermind group.

You could email the three people from the conference you think you could learn the most from. Let them know you enjoyed meeting them or learning from their presentation, and then follow them wherever they are active on social media so you can continue to learn from them.

Additionally, the clarity you get may be to not do something. Sometimes, the action we need to take is to say no! I find having the clarity on what I do and don’t want to do to be very important.

Get specific, and take action!

My #XYPN15 National Conference Experience

In my case, I walked away knowing I should not start my own firm right now (reaffirming the decision I had already made), but I did start a blog called Let Luc Finance.

Personal finance has been a hobby of mine for several years, and I would get questions from friends on occasion. Since making personal finance my profession, the number of questions I received from friends has increased significantly.

Most of these friends do not have the income level or assets yet to need a financial planner but do want to get on the right track, while others desire to do it themselves but need some guidance.

Through some conversations with friends made (see #2 – Make a Friend) and Carl Richards’ presentation on communication and his suggestion to use MailChimp to reach an audience (see #1 – Explore Your Curiosity), I decided I would launch a blog and distribute my posts weekly via email (see #3 – Get Specific).

I spent the flight home writing a note on my phone of all the topics I could write blog posts about. I knew the topics my friends would repeatedly ask questions about, and I knew some of the topics I felt they should know about but didn’t.

I spent the next two weeks learning how to build a basic website, added some friends and family members to my email list who I thought would welcome the weekly emails, and have been posting to my blog every Monday since. I am now able to respond to the questions I receive in a more streamlined way and to people I would not have connected with without the blog and weekly emails.

It feels great to give back and help my friends and family! It’s also a rewarding creative outlet.

I have realized how much I enjoy writing about financial topics in ways my peers can understand and relate to. I learned a little bit about building a website and growing an email list, and practiced my skills in communication, writing, consistency, and self-discipline. I have gained more clarity around my strengths and how I can use them within the field of financial planning.

I look forward to attending #XYPN16 to see what new inspiration and insights come this year, through all of us – as we share and collaborate together. I find this industry to be an extremely giving and welcoming one, even if you aren’t yet sure where your place is within the industry.

I encourage you to come to #XYPN16 and Explore Your Curiosity, Make a Friend (come say hi and let me know how I can help you!), and Get Specific.


Lucy Robeson - Head ShotAbout the AuthorLucy Robeson, CFP®, graduated from Virginia Tech with degrees in Math and Statistics. She worked as a retirement actuary for four years before moving to Fiji for a year, where she worked for a non-profit managing teams of volunteers focusing on microfinance, education, and public health projects. She then returned to the US, obtained her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM designation, and has been working for a fee-only financial planning firm for the last two years. Lucy writes a personal finance blog, Let Luc Finance, and loves to travel, read, and go on outdoor adventures.

You can connect with Lucy on Twitter at @lucyrobeson and on LinkedIn. You can also subscribe to her weekly Let Luc Finance emails here.




Get to Know XYPN Advisors: Dan Johnson of Forward Thinking Wealth Management

Dan Johnson of Forward Thinking Wealth Management

XY Planning Network is buzzing with more activity than ever. We’re proud to provide a turnkey financial planning platform to nearly 120 independent and corporate firms.

But who are these fantastic financial advisors? We’d love to introduce you to some of XYPN members who are doing big things in the financial planning world. You can get to know them and their practices — and hear a bit about why they love being a member of the network.

In the past, we’ve put the spotlight on PJ Wallin, Eric Roberge, Andrew Novick, Patrick Quinn, and Jennifer Harper. Today, we’re shining the Member Spotlight on Dan Johnson of Forward Thinking Wealth Management.

Dan is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), and truly a forward thinking advisor who is on a mission to help clients accumulate wealth, not fees.

XYPN: Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background? Dan Johnson

DJ: My background is a bit different than most financial advisors. I spent over a decade in city management and economic development, located in west Michigan. I enjoyed the work, but to advance (read: make more money) you had to move every few years.

This was great when I was single, but not when married with two young sons. Several friends of mine were financial advisors and they continuously pestered me to join their ranks.

My wife and I decided we wanted to move back to Akron, Ohio to be closer to family and friends — and I made the jump to being a financial advisor.


XYPN: Why did you become a fee-only financial planner?

DJ: I spent the first five years of my career at Merrill Lynch. One thing I learned there was I wanted to eventually own my own firm. About five years ago I joined a small investment firm and I was the succession plan.

After several years it was apparent my vision for the future of the firm was completely different than the owner. I came across XY Planning Network and realized everything I wanted my firm to be was possible and realistic. I saw that I could get the support I needed to run a fee-only, virtually-based, financial planning focused, lifestyle practice.

But I also do some things differently. My firm runs on a model supported by and used by many forward-thinking advisors, but there are some aspects that are unique to Forward Thinking Wealth Management.


XYPN: Can you describe your ideal client?

DJ: I work with many families who have loved ones with special needs. I entered this area after seeing more and more clients who had kids, grandkids and siblings with special needs while working in my old firm.

Being a CFP® was not sufficient training to best serve these families, so I also spent two years being trained by an advisor out of Chicago who had always focused in this area.

I really enjoy working within this niche because the clients are very serious about planning. As I tell them, they are focused on real stuff. They could care less about shorting oil or going long on Lumber Liquidators.

Their focus is to plan for two generations. They care less what Cramer is screaming about on CNBC.

There are some tough parts about serving this niche. First, it is very emotional.

The stories are both amazing and overwhelming. When my sons were younger and we needed a babysitter we called our neighbor’s older children. The only qualified babysitters for some of my clients may be palliative nurses from the local children’s hospital.

There are other stories that put things in further perspective, like the client whose daughter is on the severe end of the Autism spectrum. Her parents are hopeful she will be able to go the bathroom on her own by the time she is ten.


XYPN: How long have you owned your own practice/firm?

DJ: I officially launched my own firm on February 23rd, after joining XY Planning Network in November of 2015.


XYPN: What’s your fee structure like? How do you charge clients for your services?

DJ: I run a flat-fee practice. I charge the same amount regardless of asset size.
My whole investment philosophy is based on three things:

  1. Control the fees you pay an advisor.
  2. Control the costs you pay for investment products.
  3. Manage for taxes within your taxable account as much as legally possible.

Do these three things successfully and clients will significantly increase their odds of a successful retirement.

There are other advisors out there who run a flat-fee model — but there aren’t that many of us (yet!). I firmly believe the compensation model in our industry is broken. The majority of the industry is paid for something completely out of their control – the performance of the market. I have created my firm based on clients paying me for my knowledge as a CFP® and my compensation model is similar to how CPAs and attorneys are paid.


XYPN: How was XYPN helpful in establishing your firm?

DJ: The internal resources available through XYPN were great guides to let me know what things I needed to get in order, where to go for them, and the information in the forums was tremendously helpful too.

I also was able to get in contact with a couple of XYPN members local to me: Justin Rush and Trace Tisler. Both let me pick their brains through my prep process.

And the best part? Having a compliance consultant do all the heavy lifting for me. I cannot imagine having to do that on my own or even finding the right outside counsel for it.

Plus, who doesn’t like the XYPN t-shirts?

But no launch is perfect, and there were some things that I should have done sooner. I could and should have signed up for DocuSign and get my archiving system squared away.

Other things like turning on my website had to wait until I was officially legal. One of the best things I did before launch was have a reporter friend of mine write a press release for me.

My biggest piece of advice: if you can do things ahead of time, do it!

Going forward, I will continue to lean on XYPN for keeping me up to speed on what is going on in the financial planning world. Otherwise, I will have to change my firm name from Forward Thinking to Status Quo!

I will also continue to use the “freebies” and discounts they provide. In the meantime, I hope my fellow XYPN members never hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of assistance. There is more than enough business to go around for fee-only CFP®s and I am happy to help as much as I can.


If you want to connect with Dan, you can visit his firm’s website, or connect on Twitter @FlatFeePlanner.

Going Beyond Planning: Earning More with Speaking and Writing

It’s no question that the financial planning services you offer through your firm are an important driver of income for your business. But it’s not the only way to monetize your skills, especially if you’re running a newer financial planning firm that isn’t as profitable as you’d like quite yet.

There are a number of avenues you can explore if you’re willing to look outside the box and consider how best to monetize your knowledge and skills for the people who need both.

(And the best part about going beyond financial planning in order to earn enough money to support yourself and your family is that many of these tactics also help bring in new clients to your firm.)

Things like writing articles and booking speaking engagements serve as a win-win: you earn extra income during that difficult, often years-long period of working to develop a profitable business, and you get to market yourself to the industry and to prospective clients.

Here are some ideas on how to get started.

Pairing Speaking Engagements and Blogging to Add Value

“When I started, I knew I wanted to focus on three things: I was going to meet with financial planners I already knew, start a consistent blog, and book speaking gigs,” Katie Brewer explains in her #XYPNRadio podcast interview. These focus points provide both additional revenue for her business and a way to reach prospects.

Brewer has three go-to sessions that she can present for her speaking gigs, which makes it easy for her to target her niche and deeply connect with prospective clients in the audience.

She also started her blog because she wanted to provide value for visitors to her site. The blog she maintains on Your Richest Life Planning serves that dual purpose, acting as both a marketing tool to draw in prospects and a value add for clients.

Her blog is like a constantly-growing reference library of information she can use over and over again. “If a client doesn’t understand the background or the basics of estate planning,” Brewer says, “I’ll include a link to a post I wrote about estate planning in their financial plan.”

How a Blog Can Launch a Practice

If you’re not sold on the idea of blogging, or writing in general, it’s important to understand how developing content can simultaneously build your credibility, expertise, and authority in a given subject.

Matt Becker of Mom and Dad Money began writing his blog 18 months before he launched his firm of the same name. He had never worked with clients, but because he had a following, a brand, and a clearly defined niche, Becker was able to launch a successful practice without any experience.

“I spent about a year learning how to write and get people to sign up for an email list before I lost my job. I used that as my opportunity to launch into financial planning,” Becker explains on #XYPNRadio.

The blog helps draw in prospects today, but it also serves as a sort of portfolio that Becker can point to when looking for freelance work to earn extra revenue. “Showing that you can write well about financial topics in a clear and engaging way is important, and the proof of concept that a blog provides is valuable,” he says.

Becker writes for a number of other websites and publications, and that additional income helps him make the income he needs while working to increase revenue in his financial planning firm.

Freelancing and Cross-Posting to Attract Clients

When you’re producing great content, people will take notice — and sometimes you’ll have the opportunity to post that content in multiple locations.

Jeff Rose of Good Financial Cents grew his blog into a revenue producing stream alongside his practice. Building his website with consistent, reliable content kept readers educated and engaged, positioning him as a knowledgeable figure.

Not only does he publish on his own platforms, he writes for several other websites as well. “All of these other websites I write for allow me to republish the content on my own site, so I can take one post, and publish it on five or six major websites,” he says. Rose takes advantage of the traffic it drives back to his site by selling books and services to prospects who are interested in his take on financial topics.

These are just a few ways to increase your income and start earning more money in addition to your financial planning offerings — and there are many more options you can explore. In all of these situations, it helps to have a strong network and community you can use to seek out leads and opportunities.

If you’re operating solo, don’t think you always have to go it alone. XY Planning Network offers tangible support via in-house compliance services, a technology platform, and access to a robust knowledge base and resources. But the biggest value might be in the community waiting for members when they join.

If you have questions, get them answered on the next Introductory Webinar. Click here to register your spot — it’s free, you’ll get all the information you need, and you’ll also get to chat with Network co-founder Alan Moore!


XYPN Member Spotlight: How One Financial Planner Fulfills Her Mission to Spread Financial Literacy

Please welcome XY Planning Network member and financial planner Pamela Capalad to the blog! Pam is the founder of Brunch and Budget — and is skilled at finding incredible opportunities to share financial literacy and improve people’s financial lives beyond one-on-one planning.

I sometimes feel like I got into the financial planning business sideways. I graduated with a degree in Literature, produced plays throughout college, and was sure I’d end up being a writer, working in publishing, or being a starving something.

My journey to this industry began because I didn’t want to work retail again the next summer. I started scouring Craigslist for something that sounded fun and not mind-numbing.

I came across this ad for a thing called “The Money Camp” and thought, well, it has the word camp in it, so that could be fun. I had tutored in the past and have always liked kids, so I shrugged and answered the ad.

The camps were a week long, with kids ages 10-13 or 13-17 and I was scheduled to run four of them that first summer. I had enlisted a friend to co-teach with me and we went through a week of training and shadowed a camp session the week before. We were ready.

We showed up at the first day of our first camp session, our big curriculum binders in our arms, and watched as the kids trickled in for the next half an hour.

I opened my mouth to start camp and knew from that moment that this was going to be a terrible week.

The kids literally gave no sh*ts about what we were trying to teach them. We had no idea how to get their attention, and when we did, we couldn’t keep it for long. Worksheets turned into paper airplanes. Kids straight up told us this was boring.

It was one of the longest weeks of my life.

Until we started the second camp session.

Realizing the Impact of Financial Education and Literacy

Halfway through the second week, which was turning out to be as difficult as the first, my friend and I contemplated quitting. Firing ourselves. Telling our boss that we just weren’t cut out for this.

I don’t know what made us decide to stick it out (besides our moral obligations and fear of admitting failure), but we did. We finished Week 2 as strongly as we could and created a game plan for Week 3.

After all, we’d made all the mistakes we possibly could already, right? How much worse could it get?

We went into our third camp session with plans to tag team classroom management, keep the energy as high as we could, and figured out how to either make the boring parts more interesting or move more quickly through them.

We finished our first day of our third week and could not believe it. The kids were actually having fun! Learning about money!

We closed out the summer with two amazing camps and watched kids learn about completing budgets, creating savings goals, starting businesses, investing in the stock market, and tackling credit cards.

They saw the magic of compound interest, were in awe when we described 401k match plans, and were reciting mantras like “Pay Yourself First” as if it was second nature.

By the end of that first summer, I saw how powerful this stuff actually was. And I couldn’t believe I didn’t get this information when I was in school!

I spent two more summers with The Money Camp while finishing my Literature degree and also helped run their adult workshops and teacher training programs during the school year. I started to get my own finances together, researched the best banks, found the best credit cards, and was hungry for more information.

When I graduated, I felt like I had a purpose. I was going to teach kids about money!

Except for one thing: what the hell did I know about money?

Up to that point, my total experience with finances was that I taught a handful of financial literacy camps in my spare time and read articles online.

I started to feel myself hitting a wall when it came to knowing what I needed to learn next. I realized I had to actually go into the financial industry and find out what I was missing.

(Officially) Finding My Way in the Financial Planning Industry

Over the next few months, I made the decision to move from Santa Barbara, California to New York City so I could pursue a financial services career. I reached out to someone I had met during a teacher training who happened to be a financial planner in Manhattan, and he helped me get my foot in the door at his wealth management firm.

With $3,000 in credit card debt and $1,000 in cash to my name, I shipped all my stuff across the country and dove into a completely different life.

I went into this first job with an exit strategy. I would learn everything I needed to know about finances and create financial literacy curriculum for kids along the way. Once I had everything I needed, I would go back to teaching kids about money.

Easy, right?

Yeah, totally, except for the part where it was really hard and took a long time to even be considered mediocre at this job.

At the same time, the only thing that got me through the really hard parts (besides, like, foot massages and mac&cheese) was knowing that I was doing all of this so I could provide financial literacy to people who needed it the most.

When I finally had clarity in that mission, it opened me up to what was possible to do in this field.

Creating and Launching My Own Business to Serve Others

This is how Brunch & Budget started. I literally started trading food for financial advice one day with a few friends who said they needed a lot of help. They started to tell their friends, who started to tell their friends, and then someone offered to actually pay me one day and I was like, wait, really?

Thinking I might be onto something, I took a part time job at a different firm and started to make plans to build out Brunch & Budget forreal. I decided to go all in at the end of 2014, and 2015 marked the first year of working for myself full-time.

Financial Planning and Beyond

While my primary work is one-on-one financial planning, I’ve found other ways to make sure I fulfill the mission I originally set out to do.

I was given the amazing opportunity to host a weekly radio show on personal finance on an internet radio station called Bondfire Radio (don’t tell anyone, but I actually told the program director no for about 3 months because I was scared to say yes) and we will be at 100 shows by the summer.

It’s allowed me to provide free, approachable content to a population that normally doesn’t have access to this information.

In all this time, my commitment to educating kids has not wavered. I truly believe the most important step to changing our relationship with money is showing our kids what a healthy relationship with money looks like.

I’ve continued to teach financial literacy workshops for kids and in the last year, roped in my rapper/hip-hop educator boyfriend and we started teaching hip hop + finance workshops to teens and college students (which completely changed how kids related to the material, wow!).

At the end of 2015, we decided to take this show on the road and spent 6 weeks in California, booking workshops with professional organizations, youth programs, and artist communities (and the occasional rap show), living off Airbnb (as both as guests and hosts), and showing our dog around the country.

We even got portable podcast equipment so we wouldn’t miss a week for the radio show.

Because my financial planning work is virtual and because my clients are awesome, I was able to maintain similar levels of client service the entire time we were traveling.

One-on-one financial planning is a very critical piece to providing financial literacy education, but I’ve learned that it’s not the only one. Any time you get the opportunity to make people feel more in control, more secure, and more free about their finances, you’ve given them a little piece of their life back.

As professionals in the financial field, we have the privilege to be able to so much more than rebalance someone’s portfolio or tell them how much life insurance they need. We have the privilege to be able to show people what their lives could look like instead.

And when you’re given that privilege, it doesn’t matter how you share it, it just matters that you share it in every way you know how.
Pamela Capalad, CFPAbout the Author: Pam Capalad is a Certified Financial Planner™ who has been in the financial services industry for over 7 years — and who spent a lot of those years at wealth management firms. (If you’re really curious where, check out her LinkedIn profile.) She now runs Brunch & Budget, a financial planning firm based in Brooklyn, NY that serves clients virtually across the country.

Pam wanted to find a way to help the average person with their finances. She also realized it’s a pretty scary thing for people to face, even though it’s something we have to deal with every day. One day, she was sitting around a fire pit with a friend who said she really needed help with her money, but was afraid to talk about it. Pam said, “we should do it over brunch” — and immediately, her friend’s shoulders relaxed and her eyes lit up. “Yes! Let’s do, like, a brunch and budget!”

And the rest is history.

Building Your Mastermind Group

Building a Mastermind Group

Do you have a study group? Also known as a mastermind group, this is a collection of your peers who you can work with to solve problems, find answers to questions, and bounce ideas off of. The goal is to organize a group of professionals who can support you in the growth of your career and personal development.

Mastermind Groups for Financial Advisors

There are a lot of different options for starting and structuring mastermind groups, and a lot of questions around why and how to start one of your own. We wanted to take the opportunity to showcase some existing groups and discuss how they form, how many members they have, how they meet, and more.

This will provide you with a template to work with if you’re a financial advisor ready to create your own mastermind, and give you some ideas on how to get started.

FP Hackers

There are four members: Alan Moore, co-founder of XY Planning Network, Mary Beth Storjohann of Workable Wealth, Eric Roberge of Beyond Your Hammock, and Sophia Bera of Gen Y Planning.

All members of this group started their own financial planning firms that work virtually with next-generation clients. They each have location-dependent practices (although Alan did recently sell Serenity Financial Consulting to focus more time on XYPN), and all four time zones are represented in the group.

FP Hackers meets weekly for 60 minutes, using Google Hangouts. The group starts by sharing three wins from the last week or since the last time we met. And they also share one major loss, one problem they want to solve, and one potential opportunity they want to focus on. 

About once a year, the group schedules an in-person meetup (outside of any industry conferences). The purpose of these get-togethers is to really go in depth on one specific topic. Each member brings a problem to the table that they want to solve and work through during the meetup.

Cracker Jacks

XYPN also spoke with other groups outside of our co-founder’s own to get the inside scoop of how they operate. John Bohnsack of Briaud Financial Advisors is with the Cracker Jacks study group, which includes five other members.

The common thread between them all? They’re financial planners with similar firms, who are also all fathers of young children. They meet the second Friday of each month via Google Hangouts, and schedule meetings three months in advance.

The groups blocks off an hour — but meetings usually run to an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half. John says when the group got started, they talked with another financial planner who had experience in creating and running a mastermind to get insight on how to develop their own. They also set clear expectations about what they wanted to do and accomplish.

John and his mastermind group also set a commitment to meet in person one time each year. He believes getting everyone together can take the group to another level, to the benefit of all the members.

Empire Study Group

Friend of the Network Derek Lawson, CFP and Ph.D. student at Kansas State, is part of the Empire Study Group. Their mastermind includes six people: four financial practitioners, one person who develops technology for financial planners, and one academic.

They meet approximately once a month, and sometimes more often if needed. They aim to schedule meetings on the second Monday of every month, and make plans to meet at conferences when they can. Typical meetings last for an hour and a half, and follow a set structure.

The group starts with a check-in from all members, which takes about a half hour of the meeting. Then the meeting’s topic is introduced and explained for about 15 minutes, followed by a conversation about how the ideas discussed can be implemented to benefit all the mastermind group’s members.

The group creates an agenda and every meeting is “sponsored” by someone different. For example, a member presents three or four different topics the week prior to the meeting and as a group, the mastermind votes on those topics. The topic with the most votes is what they’ll have a conversation around at the next meeting. As the academic in the group, Derek says he tries to provide academic articles that his fellow group members may not know about but are relevant to what they want to do and accomplish. 

Derek says if you’re looking to start or join a mastermind group, it’s important to know what you want to get out of it. “Really have a mission and drive and an end goal around that,” he suggests. He also pointed out that your group should be diverse in terms of age, gender, and perhaps even career stage. 

Moth and Rust

Patrick McGinty is also part of Briaud Financial Advisors and works with John of the Cracker Jacks study group. But Patrick has his own mastermind, named Moth and Rust. It includes a tight-knit group of fellow planners: Wes Lyons and two XYPN members, Ben Wacek of Wacek Financial Planning and Brandon Marcott of Edify Financial Planning.

Patrick explains that the group is tied together on life stage. “We’ve all got young kids so we’re all whining about the crazy stuff that goes on with kids. Which makes for a great group dynamic,” he says.

Another big part of their group is their mutual faith, which brought them all together (and provided the inspiration behind the unique group name). The group shares common values and collectively wants to figure out how they can make faith a big part of the financial planning practices. 

Like the other masterminds, Moth and Rust structures their meetings. They schedule an hour and a half meeting every month. They use Google Hangouts and also integrated Slack for additional communication between meetings. Each member takes turns leading the session and setting the agenda.

They start meetings by sharing “highs and lows” — they talk about biggest successes and also discuss things that “we’re just kinda bummed out about,” Patrick explains. Then that meeting’s leader will get focused on that sessions topic, they’ll have a conversation around it, and wrap up at the end of the scheduled time.

Patrick’s biggest piece of advice for financial advisors wanting their own mastermind group? Find someone who has some experience in launching and running these study groups so they can share their experiences and past mistakes. Patrick believes this will help you start out on the right note and set up your group’s mission statement to set a purposeful direction for the entire group.

Start Your Own Mastermind Group

Ready to put together your own group after reviewing these case studies? Use these additional tips from Kali Hawlk, XYPN’s Director of Sharing the Movement, to help you get started:

  • Identify about three other people that are doing similar-but-not-exactly-the-same thing you are (i.e., financial planners with independent RIAs, but with various niches). Keeping it to 4 people total in the mastermind group helps maintain cohesiveness and makes it easier to schedule meetings consistently because there are less competing schedules.
  • Choose people who are all at similar-but-not-the-same points of progress with their goals. This helps ensure everyone understands each other and can relate to problems and successes — but you’re different enough so that you can each offer unique perspectives and solutions.
  • Consider using this format to help you get started: everyone starts by sharing a win or something they accomplished, then someone is in the “hotseat.” That person comes with a specific thing they want to talk about, and the group focuses on that. Close with everyone sharing what they’ll be working on or what they hope to accomplish by the next meeting.
  • Once you identify about three people, just reach out and let them know you’re putting together a mastermind group and thought they’d be a great addition, and ask if they’d be interested in joining!

Get to Know XYPN Advisors: Jennifer Harper of Bridge Financial Planning

Jennifer Harper XYPN Member Spotlight

XY Planning Network is buzzing with more activity than ever. We’re proud to provide a turnkey financial planning platform to nearly 120 independent and corporate firms.

But who are these fantastic financial advisors? We’d love to introduce you to some of XYPN members who are doing big things in the financial planning world. You can get to know them and their practices — and hear a bit about why they love being a member of the network.

In the past, we’ve put the spotlight on PJ Wallin  Eric Roberge, Andrew Novick, and Patrick Quinn. Today, we’re shining the Member Spotlight on Jennifer Harper of Bridge Financial Planning.

Jennifer Harper, CFPJennifer began working in the financial services industry in 2000, earned an MBA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2001, and became a CFP® in 2006. In 2005, she began developing a financial education non-profit organization, Common Cents Financial Literacy, Inc. to help guide young people toward an independent and responsible financial future. She also serves as an adjunct Finance instructor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

While Jennifer’s professional life is solely focused on personal finance, she doesn’t believe it’s all about the money! She believes that we need to be good stewards of the resources we have and we will be able to achieve more for ourselves and for others if we are thoughtful and well prepared for the future.


XYPN: Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?

JH: As an MBA student in 2000, I started working for a Trust & Investment Department of a bank part-time. That quickly grew into a full time trading and portfolio management position. I enjoyed the work, but wanted more client interaction, so I moved into the wire-house brokerage world for a few years.

After earning the CFP® designation, I returned to the Trust & Investment private banking world. And, ultimately, I’ve decided to build a practice from scratch in way that delivers what is in the clients’ best interests.


XYPN: Why did you become a fee-only financial planner?

JH:My background for the last 15 years includes both the brokerage side and the private banking side of the financial services industry. While I’m grateful for my experiences, I always felt like we could and should be elevating our profession by setting a higher bar. Earning the Certified Financial Planner TM designation was my first step in that direction nearly ten years ago. I believe fee-only planning is the next step on that path.

I had been aware of NAPFA and the fee-only philosophy for several years and had always admired it, but had never seen a clear path to going on my own. What I learned through speaking with XYPN initially was that in the last few years a lot of resources have been developed that support this kind of financial planning practice.

So much more is possible today than even 5-10 years ago – it’s an exciting time!

After reviewing a lot of resources, talking to other XYPN members, and taking advantage of a lot of demo sites for technology options, I finally felt confident that I could provide top level service to clients in the fee-only format.


XYPN: Can you describe your ideal client?

JH: I purposefully thought about what kinds of people aren’t being served well by the traditional model. From that perspective, I chose three ideal client profiles.

First, the young(er) professional. For so long, all the attention has been placed on Boomers. Of course they need good planning, but a lot of younger clients have been left out along the way. Unless a younger professional has a lot of investable assets, it can be difficult for them to get the attention of a traditional firm (because generally those firms are looking for commissions on investable assets to fund their work, so no investments – no planning).

Bridge Financial Planning doesn’t have that limitation, so younger professionals are a great fit. (By the way, there are Gen Xers that are closing in on 50. So we’re not really talking about just the freshly hatched!)

Along the same lines, business owners make great clients. Business owners can have very complex planning needs, but may or may not have a lot of readily available investments to manage. A lot of business owners reinvest their cash into their business(es) and may have a large net worth, but relatively low levels of investable assets.

The third group would be do-it-yourselfers. They enjoy managing their own investments and would be hesitant to turn over control of their accounts. But again, they may have complex planning needs beyond investing or may want a second opinion on their asset allocation or risk analysis.

Beyond those kinds of clients, I believe I will be a natural fit for clients looking for a female advisor. There still aren’t nearly enough women or minorities in this profession.


XYPN: What kind of services do you provide to your clients?

JH: Bridge Financial Planning provides comprehensive financial planning & investing for today’s professionals. We can work on an hourly basis for quick check-ups, or we can work on a retainer model to work through planning needs as they arise while building a firm foundation around the clients and their goals. Investments are managed with a focus on providing a risk-adjusted return using low cost investment options.


XYPN: What’s your favorite thing about working with Gen X and Gen Y?

JH: I’ve always enjoyed working with a variety of clients – from those just starting out to high net worth clients. In general, a lot of Gen X &Y clients and their families are at a point in their lives where good habits can help them achieve so much! It’s exciting to help someone tap into that potential.

Working with younger clients gives a first-hand view of what it takes to build a financially independent life and not just manage a portfolio. It’s great to have the opportunity to work on both ends of the spectrum. Neither one is better or worse, just different.


XYPN: What are you most proud of accomplishing as a financial planner who works with Gen Y?

JH: I am most proud of starting a financial education non-profit – Common Cents Financial Literacy, Inc. We work with students aged 16-22 to help them get on the right path financially. That is a critical time when most students are developing their independence and starting to be responsible for their own finances in some capacity.

We’ve been working on this for ten years now and are in the process of aligning our curriculum with Department of Education standards and growing our board of directors. We work in schools, youth organizations and faith-based programs to reach the students where they are.

We are fortunate to have a great relationship with the Financial Wellness Center at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the City of Chattanooga, and to have the support of some local foundations like the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, as well as individuals that see the value financial education can bring to our community.

I believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If we can stay ahead of the bad habits that are easy to start and rampant in our society, maybe we can help build a better tomorrow.


XYPN: If you could only give one piece of financial advice to your clients, what would that advice be?

JH: Small improvements make a big difference over time. Stay consistent with your plan and you will achieve more than you think possible. If you’re just starting out, just focus on building a habit of saving and keep your goals in sight.


XYPN: How long have you owned your own practice/firm?

JH: I started working on it early this year and launched the practice just a couple of months ago.


XYPN: What’s your favorite thing about running your own practice?

JH: Knowing that I’ll truly get out of it what I put into it. That is so encouraging!


XYPN: What’s your fee structure like? How do you charge clients for your services?

JH: For ongoing financial planning work, I offer a monthly fee starting at $100/month and no upfront fee with a 12 month agreement. For investment management, I use an AUM fee starting at 0.85%. For hourly work, my rate starts at $175 an hour.


XYPN: What’s your favorite piece of technology to use in your business?

JH: eMoney. It’s fairly complex, but I’ve already gotten into a groove working with it. The clients that are using it are happy to see everything in one place and to have the ability to share files securely through their virtual vault.

I like it for its ability to work with simple or complex cases and its attention to detail. From a practice management standpoint, it keeps me from having multiple software solutions that aren’t integrated.


XYPN: What’s your favorite thing about XYPN?

JH: Knowing that everyone is pulling in the same direction to elevate our profession on behalf of our clients. While I suppose we are all technically ‘competitors’ in this global marketplace, everyone is cheering each other along.

I loved getting to meet some of the members that have been such a source of knowledge and encouragement this year at the XYPN conference in September!


If you want to connect with Jennifer, you can visit her firm’s website, check out her nonprofit Common Cents Financial Literacy, Inc, or connect on Twitter @BridgeFinPlan.

Launching Your Own Financial Planning Firm: Jennifer Harper of Bridge Financial Planning

Jennifer Harper Bridge Financial Launch

XY Planning Network is excited to showcase our members who launched their own firms this year. We want to celebrate these advisors and help promote their new firms by spotlighting their experiences, thoughts, and lessons learned on the XYPN blog.

Jennifer Harper, CFPThis week, we’re thrilled to hear from Jennifer Harper of Bridge Financial Planning. She founded her firm to provide today’s professionals with unbiased advice and implementation support for their financial goals. With more than 15 years of experience in the industry, Jennifer feels privileged to work with a wide variety of clients — from young people looking for a ‘smart start’ to multi-generational, high net worth families.

While financial planning & investing can be complex, Jennifer believes her job is to make them approachable and useful tools to help clients achieve their goals.

Here’s what she had to say about the experience of getting her own firm off the ground — and a few valuable pieces of advice for any other financial professional looking to do the same.


I never intended to be a financial planner. In 2000, I was working as an MBA student at a trust and investment department of a bank. At the time, I figured it was a good job to have while I was in school, but didn’t know where it would lead. I quickly realized it was interesting, required careful analysis, but still had a client facing component.

I got to work with clients, and it had an analytical side too? Perfect.

But in the summer of 2013, I had had it. Done. Finished. You can keep it. I don’t want it anymore.

After more than 13 years of working in the financial services industry, I was over it. I had seen a lot of wrong things happen for the wrong reasons. I saw short term corporate decisions being made throughout the industry that had long-term impact on clients and employees — real families and good careers pushed to the side.

Is that what the next 30 years of my career would look like? I hoped not. So I resigned my position.

I was perfectly happy and content to move along into community work and focus on Common Cents Financial Literacy, a non-profit that I founded a few years ago.

I never intended to start my own firm. It happened out of a realization that there is a clear need for new client options in the financial planning space. I knew it would be fee-only. I knew it would be a resource for business owners and families that are often overlooked by the traditional model. Beyond that, I was unsure.

About that time, a funny thing happened. I came across a guest post by Alan Moore on Michael Kitces’ Nerds Eye View. Alan talked about the philosophy behind XY Planning Network and all the new technology options that have come online within the last few years.

It was clear: you can have your own firm and be true to your conscience about how to serve clients. You can build a robust client platform for a reasonable price. You can find strategic technologies that leverage your time. You mean I don’t have to give up on my education, experience, or compromise what I think Financial Planning can truly be? I’m in!

So, I joined XYPN in January of this year and launched Bridge Financial Planning. I started onboarding clients on August 1st. I have a vision of how I would want to be served if I were the client and that drives what I do.

XYPN has been a great resource as I’ve launched my practice. They are dedicated to elevating the financial planning profession. I recently had the opportunity to attend their national conference and it was amazing to be with so many other planners building their dreams for their practices.

We’re all still learning and growing. We all have a long road ahead of us. We are all now wearing a lot more hats than our head will accommodate. Most of us have left behind salaries. It’s taking a lot of time, money and effort to build our visions, and we’re all happy about it! How crazy is that?

Now I am spending a lot of time refining the client onboarding process, finding ways to streamline the operations side of the business, developing clear communications strategies for my own accountability and client expectations. I’m learning to be comfortable promoting myself and the vision I have for serving my clients.

Whether you’re a planner considering ‘the jump’, or a potential client, it’s an exciting time!

You can find out more about us at Bridge Financial Planning, email me at Jennifer [at], or tweet @BridgeFinPlan.

To learn more about Common Cents Financial Literacy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to providing financial education to students aged 16-22, go to You can also connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Want to launch your own financial planning firm? Get inspired by our members, and then check out how you can receive additional help and support by joining XYPN yourself.

3 Realizations from #XYPN15

Takeaways from XYPN15 Brandon Marcott

Please welcome XY Planning Network member Brandon Marcott to the blog today. Brandon offered to recap and share his experiences at our first inaugural conference that took place September 15 – 17th in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I had an idea to write this cool retro running diary (Bill Simmons style) to explain the awesomeness I experienced at the XYPN conference this past week. As I started writing, I just realized there was too much fluff for a general audience — too many details relevant to my experience but not necessarily sources of wide-ranging takeaways.

For a conference that was about as anti-fluff as you could get, this didn’t seem right.

So, in the XY Planning Network spirit of honesty, transparency, and getting sh!t done, let me share my 3 points I left the conference with this past week.

1. #XYPN16 Is a Must

So you weren’t at XYPN15? You MUST come to XYPN16. It’s not an option.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t have much in regards to expectations coming to this conference. I basically had one goal. I wanted to meet some of the cool people I’ve (virtually) gotten to know over the past 9 months. That was it. The content wasn’t really something I even thought about.

At most financial conferences, you have some combination of motivational speakers, market/economic speakers, a random B-list celebrity, and breakout sessions filled with retirement and long term care planning.

This was…not that.

Honestly, I was blown away. There was so much energy from the moment the conference began. Not only did this energy not go away, it kept building through the conference.

Our XYPN rockstars Alan and Michael shared passionately about the state of financial planning and our position in its inevitable transformation. Bill Winterberg provided simple and amazing advice on how we can transform our businesses with video. Carl Richards ended the conference by encouraging us to lean into our fear and do the thing that we have been called to do.

I think the reason each of these (and the rest of the) sessions were so powerful boils down to one word: Authentic. There was no pretense at XYPN15. Each of us were encouraged to build our businesses with that same authenticity. Rather than simply leaving the conference with this knowledge, something amazing started building amongst the attendees.

2. A Unique Opportunity to Build Relationships

You will build incredible relationships with people who care about you and your mission. Meeting people before the conference started was… kind of weird. I’ll be honest. We all trickled in and asked each other the same questions and made the same comments.

“When did you get in?” “Where do you live again?” “I thought you were much shorter.”

We also had this strange dynamic of “knowing” each other…but not really knowing each other. This changed quickly.

While I was looking forward to meeting people, I had no idea that we would build the amazing relationships that we did. Looking back, it is that same word from before that made this happen. Authentic. We all were authentic with each other.

Those of us with young kids got to talk about the joys and difficulties of parenthood. Those of us who are single-income households talked about the stress and struggle of providing for our families. When you build a relationship on openness, you break open the door to meaningful friendship pretty quickly.

Outside of XYPN, we all have our community of friends and family that support us, but there is something special about our group. There is something special about a group that gets each other.

3. You Will Get Sh!t Done

When you add authenticity, great content, and strong relationships you get a pretty potent combination. After most conferences you spend time organizing the notes you took, making a plan for implementing what you learned. You get back to your office and maybe implement some changes, or maybe you do nothing.

This conference didn’t let you wait that long. I sat at a table with three other attendees who talked through my website with me, helping me realize changes I needed to make. Another member spent time recording me verbally explain my target client and why I want to help them. These are just two examples of non stop encouragement and advice that went on throughout the conference.

I cannot wait for #XYPN16, but we don’t need to wait another year to start making this kind of progress in our businesses. Here are three quick action steps I’d encourage you to start in the meantime:

  1. Make the choice to be authentic. Colleagues and clients will see through it if you aren’t. No amount of marketing savvy can make up for it.
  2. Form a mastermind group. Find 4-5 other people that will be your advocates. You’ll need each other to build your meaningful businesses.
  3. Buy your XYPN16 ticket now. Seriously, don’t miss it. It will transform your business.


Brandon Marcott, CFPAbout the Author: Brandon Marcott, CFP is the founder of Edify Financial Planning. He works with those who want to live intentionally with their finances, and believes a financial plan is about much more than numbers — it’s about developing your purpose and letting your finances follow. You can connect with Brandon on Twitter @BrandonMarcott

We’re Gearing Up for #XYPN15!


#XYPN15 is the first ever financial planning conference geared towards advisors that want to focus on working with Gen X and Gen Y clients. We’re excited about bringing together a community of financial advisors who are:

  • passionate about bringing financial planning to the next generation
  • learning how to build and run their own fee-only financial planning firms
  • ready for an energetic conference that allows all attendees to engage with both the content and each other to learn and expand your network

The conference takes place in Charlotte, NC next Tuesday through Thursday, the 15th through 17th. Some of the highlights will include our excellent keynote speakers, unique panel sessions featuring advisors who are members of XY Planning Network, and presentations with industry experts, along with our tech track, networking events, and more.

Get to Know Our Keynote Speakers

We’re excited to bring speakers like Carl Richards, Heather Jarvis, and Bill Winterberg to the #XYPN15 keynote stage this year — and of course, we can’t wait to hear from our network co-founders Michael Kitces and Alan Moore, too!

Heather Jarvis will present us with a great workshop on financial planning for clients with student loans, and Carl Richards will walk us through the art of communication in his keynote session. Bill Winterberg will explain how technology is changing the way financial advisors earn trust, and Michael Kitces will discuss five big trends currently shaping the future of financial planning.

Alan Moore will help us both kick off the event on Tuesday and close the conference on Thursday — and usher in the start of the FinCon Expo that takes place in Charlotte from Thursday the 17th to Sunday the 20th.

XYPN Members and Friends of the Network Present Insightful Panels

Our XYPN membership is made up of financial advisors who are leading the industry to the next generation of financial planning, and we’re excited to have a number of them share their knowledge, expertise, and experience with other conference attendees. Panel sessions include:

  • Filling the Income Gap
  • The Profitable Monthly Retainer Model
  • What It Really Means to Serve a Niche
  • How Advisors Can (Affordably) Outsource
  • Investment Options for Planning-Focused Advisors

CE Sessions from Industry Experts

#XYPN15 is bringing together a number of experts from around the finance industry. Mark Maurer of LLIS will explain insurance facts your clients need to know, Craig Israelsen will discuss various portfolio designs, including the 7Twelve Portfolio, and Zach Phipps from SEI will chat about behavior finance.

We’re also excited to have Kitrina Wright, CPA present tax tips for planners advising small business owners and Jude Boudreaux will share his experiences as a successful firm owner — along with what he wished he had known when he started. Joshua Sheets will also provide us with an instructional session on teaching Gen X and Gen Y the proper way to invest for strong returns.

#XYPN15 Kicks Off Next Tuesday, September 15! Join Us with a Virtual Pass

This is the inaugural conference for XY Planning Network — and the very first conference ever that’s completely devoted to financial advisors who want to work with Gen X and Gen Y. It’s a big milestone for the industry, and ticket sales have proven that: we sold out of our live event a few weeks ago.

If you didn’t get a chance to purchase your pass to #XYPN15 this year, you can still get access to all of this excellent conference content. Due to demand, we’re releasing a Virtual Pass which will provide you access to all sessions, presentations, and keynotes. Virtual passes are just $99 and can be purchased here.

If you’ll be joining us next week in Charlotte, give us a shout on Twitter @XYPlanning — and we’ll see you soon!

Get to Know XYPN Advisors: Patrick Quinn of Hat Tip Wealth Management

Patrick Quinn Member Spotlight

XY Planning Network is buzzing with more activity than ever. We’re proud to provide a turnkey financial planning platform to nearly 120 independent and corporate firms.

But who are these fantastic financial advisors
? We’d love to introduce you to some of XYPN members who are doing big things in the financial planning world. You can get to know them and their practices — and hear a bit about why they love being a member of the network.

In the past, we’ve put the spotlight on PJ Wallin  Eric Roberge, and Andrew Novick. Today, we’re shining the Member Spotlight on Patrick Quinn of Hat Tip Wealth Management.

Patrick Quinn

Patrick is a Chicago-based, fee-only investment advisor who works with clients to design smart, effective financial strategies that align with their individual circumstances and goals. His typical clients are professionals in their 30s to 50s, and healthcare providers.

Patrick lives in the South Loop in Chicago with his wife and 4-year-old son. When he’s not at work (and sometimes when he is), he loves talking about business, sports, history, and architecture.


XYPN: Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?

PQ: After 20 plus years in banking and investment management, I recently started Hat Tip Wealth Management to do what I have always wanted to do: help individuals achieve their financial goals. I am excited to bring my experiences of investment management, comprehensive relationship management and know how to my clients.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Economics degree from Marquette University (Milwaukee) and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School, Lake Forest, IL.


XYPN: Why did you become a fee-only financial planner?

PQ: Honesty and transparency are essential elements of a business relationship. The fee-only model eliminates the uncertainties and confusion that clients face when they are working with a financial advisor. It creates a healthy bond between the advisor and the client in that the client knows exactly what they are paying for.

I provide comprehensive financial planning and investment management. I like to maintain flexibility with my clients and only work on things that are important for them.


XYPN: Can you describe your ideal client?

PQ: My ideal client is a Gen X professional that is excited about the future and can’t wait to work on achieving the next goal, which may be retirement planning, college funding, starting their own business or paying off their mortgage. I love working on these projects with them because once we put the plan in place and they see the results, they are one step closer to financial freedom.


XYPN: What’s your favorite thing about working with Gen X?

PQ: My favorite part is their desire to achieve great things despite a lot of economic adversity. My generation is committed to living the life that they always imagined and they have adapted very well to substantial changes economically and socially.


XYPN: What are you most proud of accomplishing as a financial planner who works with Gen X?

PQ: I am most proud of my ability to deliver valuable insights to Gen X clients in terms of investment management and economic conditions. Gen X individuals have had to deal with two recessions, a changing job market, and the emergence of the internet and the complexities associated with each of these events has been challenging.


XYPN: If you could only give a few tidbits of financial advice to your clients, what would that advice be?

PQ: Hire an advisor who has taken a fiduciary oath to put your interests ahead of their own.


XYPN: Were you given any advice when you started your firm that still sticks with you?

PQ: Honesty, hard work, and doing what is right for the client are essential to be successful.


If you want to connect with Patrick, you can visit Hat Tip Wealth Management or connect on Twitter @pquinn35