Insights Episode 1 A Powerful Partnership: Greg Weimer & Jim Wilding | Episode 1

Imagine That
Episode 1

A Powerful Partnership: Greg Weimer & Jim Wilding | Episode 1

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Greg Weimer launches the “Imagine That” podcast by interviewing his friend, partner and Confluence co-founder, Jim Wilding.

Greg and Jim reveal why they started the practice and discuss their goal of setting a new standard in the industry. The partners also examine how their team approach to financial planning — in everything from the client experience to investment strategy and risk management — sets Confluence Financial Partners apart.

Confluence Financial Partners — A Powerful Partnership: Jim Wilding | Episode 1

Greg: Greg Weimer and Jim Wilding. A relationship 26 years in the making … and we’re just getting started. Imagine that.

I’m Greg Weimer. Welcome to the Confluence Financial Partners podcast. And today I have the privilege of having a conversation with my longtime friend and partner Jim Wilding. Thanks. Great.

Do you remember the first time we sat down and started talking about Confluence and I guess we didn’t know the name of it then, we just knew we wanted to create something special. Do you remember that? I do. So, here’s what it’ll be interesting. I want to hear what you remember from that day and I’ll give you what I remember.

Jim: When we got to talking, one of the things you said was, wouldn’t it be cool if we could create a firm that looked at things and did things significantly different from the rest of the industry. And that was the very beginning of us putting our heads together to come up with, as you just said, the creation of Confluence before it had an eight.

Greg: My, my recollection is very, very similar to that. I didn’t enjoy being retired in and I think, like you, Jim, neither of us are planning on being retired anytime soon and we just love what we do. I certainly didn’t like it. And knew that we wanted to, I wanted to create something different in the firm that created a new standard. And the reason I wanted to have lunch with you that day was, as I’ve mentioned before to many, Jim was my financial advisor. And so, I just really, really respected Jim and so when I wanted to open up a firm that treated people differently, I wanted Jim to know about that and we decided quickly, right? I remember we shook hands and — ha ha — we were done, and we were partners and moving forward in days, not weeks. What’s interesting, I remember though also we didn’t spend too much time when, financially, we certainly are partners, but we just trusted each other. And so now it’s curious. We both, five and half years ago, wanted to create something different.

Jim: Yeah.

Greg: What do you think, I’d be curious from your perspective, what worked really well and then equally important, where do you think we need the most work to continue on our quest to create a unique firm?

Jim: If we want to continue to have a unique firm, we need to continue to grow and evolve. And when I say grow, I don’t necessarily just mean grow the number of clients we serve or grow the revenues that are produced. I mean grow in what we offer to our clients. And so, one of the things that I think has worked very well is the way we truly look at a client situation first. We don’t have any interest in pushing a certain product or providing something to a client that isn’t, in our opinions, at least truly in their very best interest. And I think we’ve done a good job of creating a process where the client does come first and where the portfolios and the plans are all about what’s important to the client. And I think we do a good job of really digging in with our clients and trying to help them think beyond just: “what age do you want to retire?” and think about other things that are important to them, their life and their legacy and what we can do to help there.

Greg: You know, there are multiple times in a week, and I’m sure you feel the same way, where you think, “I wish our clients were here to see the work we’re doing for them.” One of the things that just popped into my mind as you were saying that, why don’t you explain, when we review a client’s plan, how the entire team comes together to look at that plan and try to add massive value. So, what we were doing on Fridays— now the Tuesday meeting. Why don’t you explain like what we do in that meeting?

Jim: So, I think we have in total now about nine people on our team. And you know, one of the things that I think we bring to our clients isn’t just the expertise that Greg or I might have. It’s the expertise that all nine of the people on our team have. And although a client might meet individually with one or two members of the team, we do review the client’s plan and portfolio together as a team. And so, we literally sit down and we put on our big screen the client’s situation and their plan. And then we let everybody in the room really kind of try to poke holes in it and whoever knows the client the best, the lead person for that client, the lead advisor will take everybody through their situation and describe what the goals and objectives are, and then show the plan in detail and the portfolio.

And we get insights from not just the person who owns that relationship, but from everybody else on our team. And one of the things that I think that really brings value to the client is you do get a bunch of other perspectives. There’s also sometimes, and literally in a meeting last week, I went over this with a client and they I think really appreciated this — I said, you and I have been working together 25 years. There could be some things I totally have a blind spot towards or just take for granted because I feel like I know you so well. Somebody new who looks at that situation might be able to very quickly identify, “Hey, why didn’t you do this?” Or, “Have you ever thought about it this way?” And so, we think there’s a lot of value in having fresh perspectives and different people look at all of our clients.

Greg: Yes. I know you and I’ve been around a long time and we tend to think similarly, but on our team we have, we have some CFPs, we have a CPA, we have people that just come at it from a different perspective, which I agree is totally, very, very helpful. It’s interesting. Maybe it would be helpful also, I will book end that a little bit for you. Like, so where we came up with the idea of all working together on the client instead of working separately on the client — it sounds like a subtle difference, but it’s different. A lot of firms work separately on the same client. So, you get 20 years of experience, five different times. With us, you get a hundred years of experience because we’re all in the same room together working on the client. So that came from, we were talking to someone that is in charge of a cardiac department at a hospital and their results went from a 97% success ratio to a 99% success ratio, which that’s a lot of improved lives based on that success ratio.

And so I actually asked the guy, I said, “How’d you do it?” The physician, he said, we broke down all the walls, we started to collaborate, and we put the patient at the center, and we all get into the same room, and talk about the client or talk about the patient. And he said, “That’s really improved our results.” They also said this month is about diversity — that we’re working on also. And so that’s what we decided to do. We all get into the same room and we talk about the client. So, we benefit from all the different perspectives. In addition, at the end, the final question becomes at the end of that meeting, “How are we producing massive value for the client?” And if we aren’t really adding massive value, you know, we want to make sure that — well, we’ve got to add massive value, right? Or we’re missing something, because if we’re doing their plans and we’re figuring out their goals, we should be developing massive value.

Jim, another thing we do that you are obviously very, very instrumental in is we both sit on the investment advisory committee. It’s been a great addition to our firm. I don’t really remember how that started. I think a couple of us sat in an office and started talking about it and it evolved. Why don’t you explain to everybody the Investment Advisory Committee and how it goes about putting objective-based portfolios together.

Jim: Okay. I agree with you, I think that’s been a really valuable addition to our firm, in what we’re able to provide our clients. I think it started with us realizing that the best way for us to manage portfolios, if we have 350 clients, wasn’t to have 350 different portfolios. Sometimes it sounds really great to say I have a portfolio just customized precisely for you, but at the end of the day, if you’re doing 350 customized portfolios, that’s really an impossible task to maintain those and really be on top of all 350. And so, what we tried to do was trade our portfolios and what we call objective-based portfolios. Now we still have a decent number, in the 30s, but a lot more manageable, especially when you consider that there’s six people that are on the investment committee. And so, we created these portfolios for the various objectives that our clients might have.

So, for instance, a portfolio that’s growth-oriented at one end of the spectrum of portfolios, one that’s purely income-oriented at the other end of the spectrum. And we review the components of these portfolios in great detail, but we don’t necessarily change the components with great regularity. And when you think that through, I think that’s what most clients would really want. And that is good long-term managers that we have tremendous confidence in their ability to produce very solid investment results, over the long term. We need to do a lot of due diligence to make sure that those managers that are in the portfolios are gonna produce good results and then give them the time. So, we monitor the results of the portfolios and the components and make sure we understand when one might be underperforming or outperforming, make sure that that is as-expected. We would replace a portfolio manager only when there’s something going on that gives us less confidence in the ability for them to produce the results that we’d expect.

For instance, if a portfolio manager, literally retires and whomever is taking over is one that we don’t have as much confidence in.

Greg: Or for example, I’ll interject, like right now there’s two decent sized mutual fund companies. The one just bought the other one. Anybody that’s been through a merger would have to admit the world’s changed for those companies. If they think what they did in the past is going to be the same — mergers change worlds. So, in our world, would you agree, we would probably think about no longer holding those investments based on that merger. It will be something we would think about. Fair?

Jim: Definitely. One of the things that is a criteria for us when we do select the managers is the ownership or ownership structure of the firm. You might look at that and say, well, why is that important? Well, we really want to be invested for the long term and the way a firm manages money is absolutely influenced by the ownership of that firm.

Greg: Jim, why don’t you talk a little bit about how careful we are not to do quid pro quo? You got it?

Jim: Yep. So in, in our industry, one of the things that there is a lot of, is, you know, the offer from a from a money manager or a mutual fund manager, “Hey, let me take you golfing,” “let me take you, come out to Los Angeles and visit us, and we’re gonna have some fun, going to the Dodgers game,” that kind of thing. And one of the things that we feel is really, really important is, we’re here to manage our clients’ long-term investment portfolios, their hard-earned money. Any decision we make regarding a money manager or mutual fund manager is purely about, “Is this the best fit for our client?” So, at the end of the day, we definitely do our due diligence, but when we fly to Santa Fe, New Mexico or Los Angeles or New York City, we pay to fly there and we’re perfectly happy to do that.

Jim: You know, usually the mutual fund company will offer to reimburse us, and we tell them, thanks but no thanks. We’d rather be 100% confident that there is no conflict of interest in the slightest bit. So, when we have a mutual fund manager or a mutual fund company come into our office to make a presentation to us, we buy lunch, they don’t. And, you know this Greg, that lots of times the mutual fund managers are pretty shocked. They’re startled by it because that’s a different way of doing it. But as minor a thing as buying lunches, we still just feel better about, no, you know, no way we’re going to favor one over another based on anything other than: what we think is the best for our clients.

Greg: Yeah. And we’ve been working, we’ve been very consistent about that across the firm. And I remember, oddly enough now that you’re telling that story and telling how we’re so unbiased, I remember 30 years ago or 25 years ago, when you were with a different firm and there was someone that came into your office from a money manager saying, and I don’t know if you remember this or not, if you put x amount of dollars (oh, you’re nodding, yeah), if you put x amount of money with us, we’ll also refer you this amount of dollars. And I remember, back then, how impressed I was at how appalled you were by that concept. And so, we’ve stayed very consistent to that. And just that subconsciously we don’t want any quid pro quo. People saved their money for a long time and we want to make sure we’re investing for the right reasons.

You know, we’re fortunate to have a great team at Confluence. If I were listening to this podcast, one of the things I’d want to know about is, “How do you communicate?” So, you know, you may want to touch on how you and I communicate and maybe the times of day and the days of the week, but also, just how we communicate with our associates. Because collaboration is key, right?

Jim: Yes. It absolutely is. And one of the things I think we do a really good job of is our communication. So, Greg and I are alike, in maybe too many ways, sometimes we both get up pretty early in the morning and, literally when I get up, I go running. And when I come back from running, I usually have two texts on my phone from Greg. When I’m finished running, it’s like 5:30 in the morning.

Greg: If I don’t hear from him before seven, I’m like calling 911. I’m worried about you. Ha ha.

Jim: Yeah. So, we definitely communicate quite a bit before at least most people’s work day begins. But you know, one of the times, we both agree, that we get a lot done is in that hour and a half or so before seven o’clock in the morning with our team, we have formal communications. So, we have a team meeting every Tuesday that usually lasts about an hour and we go through you know, what’s going on that week, who’s coming in. And we review a few client portfolios and plans after that meeting. So that’s an additional meeting that we have. We also have a group text with our team and you know, it’s unusual if we don’t have a text going out during the weekend and just touch base with them, what’s going on, or if somebody listened to a really good podcast they’ll share that with the team and send that out.

Jim: And so, you know, one of the things that’s great about the technologies that we have today is it can keep you way more connected than, than what we could do before. So, we think it’s really important to kind of always be on. We love our jobs, but our jobs are the kinds of thing that we’re thinking about pretty much all the time. And I don’t say that like, not at all with any conceit. It’s awesome to be able to work with the people I work with, both from my peers here at Confluence and the many clients we work with. And it’s just a fun thing to be able to think about pretty much all the time.

Greg: Yeah. We, we talked about we just live — we don’t work and we don’t play. We just live. So, you never really know if we’re working or playing because we, with our clients, a lot of our clients are our friends and, and Jim and I, we work together. We tend to work out at the same time, we play a lot of golf together. So, we are always thinking about the business and we’re always enjoying it. So, it’s, we just live.

But you know, thinking about communicating with our team, it’s remarkable, it’s interesting we’re doing this on a podcast, but it’s remarkable how many times our associates are sending us podcasts to listen to, “Hey, you should listen to this one.” Now I do appreciate, if it’s a 40-minute podcast, they say, “Listen to minutes 20 to 25,” and we can just get in on that one.

But the sharing of ideas, of podcasts, and I know you sent me an article this week and it’s just a really, really fluid team, which is I think, unusual for most firms. And I was thinking about it as you were answering this morning. I talked to three of our advisors before I got to work. Nathan, Chuck and Joe. So, before I got to work, tonight at dinner, I’ll be having a dinner with Amy and Kurt with my wife, Lori. So, it’s a team that communicates consistently throughout the day.

Why don’t you dig a little bit deeper and talk about some of the things that we put in a financial plan and some of the goals that clients may have that are a little bit out of the norm.

Jim: I do think our industry, over the course of time, has put such a huge emphasis on, “Okay, what, what the finish line is — retirement and you’re going to need this much money.” You know, we try to do more than that and get clients to think a little bit more about “Hey, are there things that I want to do with my family now?” And you know, managing that. Maybe you’re 50 and retirement for you might be 15 years away or 20 years away. And what we try to do is say, “Okay, well let’s plan for not just 15 or 20 years down the road, but what’s going on now?” I think one of the things that we sometimes get clients to think a little broader and causes them to say, “I’m going to have to go back and think about this a little bit more” is “let’s think about your life in terms of how much fun do I want to have with my family and are there special times that I want to make sure that I have with my family?”

And lots of times we’ll say, well, if you wanted to go on this nice vacation every year between now and retirement, are you willing to work two and a half years longer? Because that’s what that might cost you. Because, at the end of the day, what we really want to make sure clients are able to do is, kind of see, all right, you know, “Could I have like a much more enjoyable time while I’m working here?” as opposed to just putting everything about when I finally retire in the plans. We’ll put some very detailed objectives and timeframes in there. So, for instance, if it’s important to you that your two granddaughters have a college education all paid for, we’ll help you figure that out and make sure that we can earmark money for your granddaughters’ college education. And again, not everybody is only about retirement and we want to make sure that our clients are living their best lives that they can live, not just in retirement, but even now.

Greg: And that’s the fun of the job, right? I mean, just think about it: we are able to, working with the client, making sure their portfolios, not just an accumulation of investments, but that portfolio can actually help provide for a moment annually at Thanksgiving at Hilton Head with them and their whole family. That’s a moment that’s special. Or creating a legacy of education. I think you’ll agree that’s the fun of the job. So many times, it’s not discussed. So many times, in our industry, you don’t get to that level of detail about what people really care about. And I’ll tell you what fun you can see in their face. Like, if we’re sitting across the table from clients and you start talking about like you’re mentioning Jim, education for the granddaughters, you’ll see their face light up, you know you hit on something that’s really important to them and absolutely should be in the plan.

Back to the focus groups, consistent with goals. Do you remember, one of the things as we were asking our clients some questions, they talked about their children.
Jim: Yup.

Greg: And, do you just want to expand on that, because we do that and it was interesting how much clients wanted us to participate in their families.

Jim: Yeah. And I think a lot of clients maybe struggle a little bit. A lot of people, period, struggled a little bit with talking to their adult children or even their college-aged kids that are maybe not quite full adults yet, but about, you know, investing or about what they might inherit someday and trying to get them on the right track. And so, what we’ve done with a fair amount of our client families is had meetings to help discuss that and to help get the young adults off to a great start in investing. And lots of times that’s just simply helping them with their first job in their 401k and making sure we have that set up appropriately. And that, quite often, evolves into more and it evolves sometimes into a family setting up a charitable foundation and the kids participating in that, you know, down the road.

Jim: Sometimes it takes a little bit of time for the parents to be comfortable sharing with their children, “Hey, here’s what we have and here’s what you might inherit someday.” And you know, I think that one of the reasons so many people, when they inherit money, don’t do a great job of taking care of it is because it’s a surprise to them. And they never knew that it was going to be coming to them. And if, if a parent isn’t able or doesn’t share their expectations with their child, you know, it’s usually not going to work as well.

We did get a lot of comments around that saying, “That would be great. We’d like to do that more often.” And so, that’s one of the things, you know, when Greg, when we talk about adding massive value that might be one area, if you really think about it, where we can add long-term, truly massive value.

Greg: Well, when you look at the statistics, right, 70% of wealth is squandered in the second generation, 90% in the third generation. So, mathematically we would like to help that change, bend the curve on those numbers. But also, I think so many of us have an estate and we assume our children are going to receive it as a blessing, instead of viewing it as a burden. And unfortunately, what we both see, if it’s not handled well structurally and from a communication standpoint, it ends up being a burden. And it ends up being a stressful thing that could break apart a family, not bring it together. It would be massive value if we could change the numbers in the statistics and change the view about how the assets are received. And I agree with you, communication is a very, very big part of that.

So, it’s been 26 years. We’ve known each other, assuming we’re healthy, where are we in 26 years?

Jim: Whoo. So, this probably surprises most people, but I can honestly say that I hope 26 years from now, I’m still with Confluence. It would be cool if there were a few associates in Confluence that had the same last name as Greg and I, 26 years from now.
Greg: We just hired one of those.

Jim: We did. And yes. And it’s a great addition to have Gregory, Greg’s oldest, on our team now. I’m pretty confident that 26 years from now, we’ll be offering to our clients everything that we’re offering today and more. And I’m very hopeful that 26 years from now, we’ll have a lot of current young adult children that we’ll be dealing with their children. I’m looking forward to the next 26 years.

Greg: Yeah, it’s interesting, we talk about — there’s different business models, right? I mean, you could, we could certainly build this — and one model would be, build it and sell it in 10 years. And we have zero interest in that, and it’s actually somewhat easy, if that’s your model.

Jim and I talk a lot about the decisions we’re making today. Is it the right decision, not for the next 10, but for the next 50 years. So, we’re building this for the next generation, and that to me, and I think — just looking at your face, how you answer that — to you, is really rewarding. A lot of fun. So, the next 26 years I’m certainly, I’m certainly looking forward to it also. And I plan on being at Confluence.

I just turned a baby cry, is that amazing to me? That’s cool! So we have babies crying and we have construction in the background. You’ve got to love that. So, what are we missing? Is there anything that you’d like to discuss as we just did? Anything we missed that you wish I would’ve asked you?

Jim: I think sometimes people look to us, even people that have known us for a long time, and they might say, “Where do you think the market’s going to go?”

Greg: Yeah.

Jim: And you know, the longer I’ve done this and I think you feel similarly, the more I’m convinced that in the short term (and when I say short term, meaning 18 months or so), nobody can give you a consistently accurate portrayal of what the market’s going to do.

Greg: Yeah, I had someone ask me like, do you think this is a good entry point to the market? So, I had to think of a really nice way to say, “How the hell would I know?” Because you know, when, at 30, I started — holy moley — I started 33 … 33 years ago. If you’d have asked me about 33 years ago, I knew. Now I know enough to know, I don’t know.

So, but it’s still interesting how people think they can predict the market in the short run. And then I’m not even sure the value of that, if they know where it’s going in the long run, right? But you still have people ask you that all the time. It’s interesting to me.

Jim: Yup.

Greg: Why don’t you talk about risk because now that you brought up the market, how when we work with clients, the idea of risk is somewhat misunderstood.

Jim: It definitely is. And I would have to say that our industry has done more to contribute to that then help that. And so, the way risk is defined by our industry is in the volatility of the prices of securities. And I would say most people, when they think of true risk, it’s about investing and not being able to accomplish their goals of investing. In other words, permanent loss of money or not having the income that they need when they need it.

Greg: And fluctuation is not loss.

Jim: Exactly. And so, one of the things that we say quite often to clients, we’ll show them what the market drop was from the peak in October of ‘07 through the trough in March of 2009. But we always remind them, you didn’t lose that money if you didn’t sell out in March of 2000.

Greg: By the way, Jim’s a guy, if you want to know what the market did anytime in the last 200 years, you can give him the date. And he’ll give you the number. Maybe not quite. The year, maybe not the day, but the year.

Jim: But I do, I think that it’s really important to have a good understanding of what risk really is and it really shouldn’t be for most people fluctuation in prices. And obviously, if someone has a two-year goal that they’re gonna need money in two years, it’s not an appropriate investment to have that, you know, sitting in a bunch of stocks. Now that’s totally different from if I’m retired and I have some stocks, I’m going to live off of the return I’m getting from the stocks. But what we do for all of our retired clients is build a strategy that protects them from the short-term temporary declines in equity prices.

Greg: Why don’t you, why don’t you dig into that a little bit, because you’re, you’re starting to go into the “bucket strategy,” right?

Jim: Yep.

Greg: Because managing money for someone that’s accumulating money is a whole different scenario than managing money for someone who’s in the distribution phase of their life, right? So why don’t you share a little bit about how we manage money for someone in the distribution phase of their life.

Jim: Right. And that is a little bit, it even more significant now, in such as just a low interest rate environment. So, you know, back when you started Greg, you could have a 50/50 portfolio, half in bonds, half in stocks, and your bonds will be making like—

Greg: Oh, when I started out, I was investing people in municipal bonds earning 10%. And if they, if they were at nine and a half, they wanted to wait until they got back to 10% muni bonds. Yeah.

Jim: It was a lot harder to, you know, get someone to buy into equities when the competition was 10% then today when the competitions like two — but in today’s environment, what would that kind of says is, you have to have a huge pile of money, if the rate of return from bonds is going to be everything you need. So, for almost all of our clients, when they’re retired, they need to still hold a significant portion of their portfolio and equities. Having a significant portion of your portfolio in equities entails living off what we would call a systematic withdrawal from that portfolio. So, if you have $1 million in equities and you’re going to live off of $40,000, you’re going to need a little bit more than the dividends. And so, what we figure out for each one of our clients, is to how to have a customized, what we call “bucket strategy,” so that you can invest everything in equities and keep it long-term.

And the part that needs to be in the quote-unquote bucket, which is cash and very short-term bonds, is the amount that you would need if we had a 20% or more decline in the market — stock market, that is — that you could then pull out of that short-term bucket and say, “Okay, I don’t have to worry about I’m taking money out of my stocks because I’m not anymore until they come back.” And so, we figured that out for each one of our clients. And like I said, that is actually something that’s customized because it’s very specific to each person’s very different situation. And it is something that we had to implement fairly recently. And on Christmas Eve, the market was down 20% from where it was in September. And so, for the first four months of this year for our retired clients, we were using the bucket strategy. But again, that’s something that we build to help offset the quote-unquote risk of the price volatility in inequities that allows our retired to still be long-term investors in equities.

Greg: Yeah. If someone’s listening to this in five years, they’re like Christmas Eve, I wonder when that was? It was 2018, so it was last year. This is 2019.

Jim in the past, in this conversation, we’ve mentioned the focus groups a couple of times, which I think is a little unique. So, I realize now just replaying it in my mind, our conversation, we’re saying “focus group” like the listeners may know what that is. So, could you explain to them what we do and why we do them?

Jim: Yeah. So, I guess we started this last year where we thought it would be a good idea if we could get together relatively small groups of clients, you know, in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 clients. And get together in the evening, have a short cocktail hour where we can spend a little bit of social time and then sit down for dinner and just kind of begin a conversation about what should we be doing with you. And asking our clients for their honest opinions of “What are we doing well?,” “What are we doing not so well?,” “How could we get better?,” “What are the things that maybe we haven’t thought of that would be good for us to be able to offer to our clients?”

And I think, I was at least, I think maybe you were when we first started this, we’re a little bit apprehensive about, “All right, how’s this gonna go?” And it’s been super easy because when we sit down with our great clients, they’re super willing to share with us their thoughts. And, and you know, where we could improve and what we’re doing right. And it’s been extremely helpful, I think, for what we need to focus on and how we need to build and grow.

Greg: I agree with you. One of the concerns when we had those was, are we going to hear crickets, right? And that we weren’t going to— and our clients have been just, just so cooperative and joining us in this journey with the firm and wanting to be active participants and helping us build it, which we’re extremely grateful for.

But not only do we have focus groups with our clients, why don’t you explain the meeting we have, I think it’s next Friday with all of our associates and our offsite and how we think about implementing some of those ideas and thinking outside the box and the services we’re about to provide for our clients.

Jim: So one of the things that we’ve been doing for a few years now is we’ll get the whole firm together and have a couple of times a year and take a full business day and just dedicate it to focusing on the things that Confluence is doing for their clients and trying to make it better. You know, we’re up to about 30 people or so that’ll be in that meeting and it takes some time to prepare and get ready for that meeting, but it’s a really a meeting that, if I were a client, I’d feel really good about the fact that “Hey, these guys are taking a whole day to go away and figure out how they can do things better.”

And one of the things I think that we always have is a real good focus on constant improvement. Again, I don’t say that with conceit. I’m really more humble about the fact that we feel honored to be able to work with as many clients as we work with. But we absolutely feel like if we’re not doing a better job next year than we are this year,

Greg: Or tomorrow versus today.

Jim: That’s right. It’s just not right.

Greg: Yeah. So, to give you an idea of some of the things we’ll be discussing next week on next Friday on behalf of the client. So one is, I’ll give you three.

One, we have a group coming in to help us do a better job of figuring out what the real values of our clients are around investing. So just asking better questions. So, the whole organization participates in that.

From a philanthropy standpoint, we have someone come in and talk to us about donor-advised funds, just to make sure that we are absolutely doing the best job possible for our clients on donor-advised funds.

The one I’m actually looking forward to, Jim, is when we were going to break our organization up into two groups, one group will continue to be employed by Confluence, the other group was just terminated by Confluence. The group that was terminated: How are you competing against Confluence? And Confluence, how are you going to continue to evolve and come at it from that standpoint to make sure we truly are creating a different standard?

That’ll be fun. I would think you and I will be in different groups. You’ll be the one getting fired. I’ll stay with Confluence and will and we’ll see how that goes.

Jim, it’s been an awesome 26 years and more specifically the last five and a half, and I can tell you from the bottom of my heart I’m really looking forward to the next 26, creating a new standard and our promise to the listeners is very clear. We are going to work as hard as we can to continue to earn your business and we promise to work as hard as we can to never let you down.

Thank you so much for listening.

You can find this and other episodes of our podcast at

Guest Speaker: Jim Wilding

This session was recorded on May 23, 2019. The views and opinions expressed herein are as of the date of its recording. The information may not be current and Confluence has no obligation to provide any updates or changes. There is no guarantee that any statements, opinions or forecasts provided in this podcast will prove to be correct. This podcast is provided by Confluence for informational purposes only. The information contained herein does not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any securities and should not be construed as an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities. Confluence is not providing any financial, economic, legal, accounting, or tax advice in this podcast. In addition, the receipt of this podcast by any listener is not to be taken as constituting the giving of investment advice by Confluence. SOURCES: “70% of wealth is squandered in the second generation, 90% in the third generation,” according to the Williams Group wealth consultancy.

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