Podcast Transcript

Greg:

A large, nationwide study has found that teaching ninth graders to maintain a growth mindset towards learning can result in higher test scores. Imagine that.

(SOURCE: Nature, 2019)

 

Hello, and welcome to the Imagine That podcast. I’m your host, Greg Weimer, founder, partner, and wealth

manager at Confluence Financial Partners. Each month, we’ll explore new ways to help you maximize your

life and your legacy.

 

This is Greg Weimer, one of the partners of Confluence Financial Partners. And we’d like to welcome everybody to the “Imagine That” podcast, the goal of this podcast is pretty simple. Allow people to think and think differently maybe. And hopefully along the way, help people find something in the podcast that’ll help you improve. And today I think we have that with an associate and good friend of mine, Brian Ripley. And I think Brian, your story, and, you know, just hearing you talk about your, how you went from Charles Schwab to some national firms to Confluence and along the way you accumulated great clients that ended up being your friends. And it, I think for people listening, it’s going to show improvement, how to be persistent and persevere. And you’ve done that. I also think it shows the importance of relationships. You and I have known each other for several years.

 

And over time we just got to know each other and trust each other, and we didn’t try to rush it. And there was going to be a right time for you to be part of the team. We found that and mentioning our team, just, I think people will get to see the importance of culture. And, and if you’re building a company or you want to know more about Confluence, guess what? You’re going to get a peek under the tent. I don’t know what you’re going to say by the way, but I hope it’s a positive peek under the tent. I hope.

 

If you think about our relationship, the reason it connected with me, do you remember the first time, like, I think I sort of asked you out on a date and said like, Hey, we should talk more.

It was oddly enough,

 

Brian:

4th of July.

 

Greg:

The 4th of July! It was the 4th of July. We had a mutual friend. And so Brian has ended up being not only an associate but a good friend. I’ll just give you a little bit of background about Brian. He’s been in the business for 20 years. Brian has, he has a wonderful wife. Amy. Brian has six children. And it’s just been fun watching you with your work-life balance. So I think it’d be interesting for everybody to hear. And by the way, as you’re thinking about your career, you just kept getting better and better, and you like, you had some body blows, right? So if you could take everybody through like how you started and, and, and you joined us, you know, several months ago and by the way, his clients like you have great clients. I mean, they, it was great. It was really, it was interesting how much they trust you and how quickly they followed you. Why don’t you take it from Charles Schwab, first of all why did you join Charles?

 

Brian:

I was looking for a job, but knew I love this industry. Didn’t know where to get started. And my folks had invested when I was younger. My dad would read a number of the financial publications. And I thought, well, I think I know what I want to do. So I started out at Charles Schwab, got hired. It was the end of the dot-com bubble was the last class in, first class out. Experienced what it was like to be unemployed. Sent my resume out. Was, was living in the state of Indiana with a future wife, which was became Amy. And we moved to Pittsburgh, started with one of the big wirehouses. I cold called 200— It was like what I referred to myself as the Cold Calling Cowboy, because it was 200 calls a day. It was rejection nonstop. I came home, told her like, I want to cry. She’s like, well, you’re going to do it again tomorrow.

 

Greg:

Yeah.

 

Brian:

So, but, but no, it was a great experience.

 

Greg:

But a lot of people would have quit at that. I mean, you’re just like, that’s interesting. Cause I think some people see successful folks and they don’t, they don’t see the price you paid. Like, like that’s an important part. Right? They see Brian now he’s a very successful guy and, and they don’t realize that, Hey man, there are moments.

 

Brian:

Oh yeah. Perseverance.

 

Greg:

You want to cry. I mean that’s for real.

 

Brian:

Oh yeah.

 

Greg:

I remember when I was starting in the eighties, it was like some days I was like, oh, that was really good. Then other days I was like, what in the world am I doing? But you just keep learning. You keep trying, you keep working. And that was, that was, that was the Morgan Stanley days. Right? Is that

 

Brian:

It was, and I called my, I would cold call on tax-free municipal bonds.

 

Greg:

Me too! What year was that? Well, that was, that was,

 

Brian:

It was, well, it was 2001.

 

Greg:

Yeah. I, I used to cold call muni bonds and back then — municipal bonds — and back then, by the way, they were paying like 10%.

 

Brian:

Oh yeah.

 

Greg:

And it’s like, I have a 10% municipal bonds. I was like, I’ll wait. And people will be like, I’ll wait until it gets to 11. Oh, wait, lightweight. I will tell you real quick. So last cold call I think I ever made — then I, then I made a lot and then I hired people to do it. And then now, as you know, we, you know, it’s all referrals, but I remember making this call. And if you remember Brian, when you got to the end of your presentation and it should be like 30 to 60 seconds, at the end of the presentation, if you got the whole way through, like, it was really good. Right? And so I, I get to the end of the presentation and remember I worked for Butcher & Singer and this, this, this woman said, oh honey, that’s really nice of you to call. But my husband and I live alone, we could never eat that much meat. She stopped listening when I said Butcher. But that was, yeah, but it was different days, right? You just like really worked hard cause you really wanted to help people and find clients.

 

Brian:

Very true. But it was also to find clients that you could keep on the phone. And I hate to say this, but it became more of a game of “please let me get through my little spiel.” And it was, it was a powerful learning lesson from the standpoint of like, no one likes to take the word “no,” but it teaches you perseverance.

 

Greg:

No. So I, you, you’re, you are, you are a harder worker than I. I had a hundred paperclips on the left side of my desk. Every time I made a call, I’d move one paperclip to the right side of my desk. I wouldn’t leave until all the paperclips were on the right side. Then I get up the next morning and I’d take one by one and move it to the left side. And I just kept moving those paper clips back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. There was actually a mark on my desk. But that, that I wouldn’t go home until the paper clips got to the right side. So then you do that. So you’re doing the Morgan Stanley thing. And then then what happened?

 

Brian:

Amy and I were expecting our first and so I was somewhat terrified of quote unquote being on my own and decided to go to another firm kind of believe that all the things I was being told were going to happen, I was going to be partnered up with somebody and they were going to mentor me and take care of me. And only to find out that it was essentially the same firm without the same culture. So that was a —

 

Greg:

Big national firm, got it, I know what it is.

 

Brian:

And you know, what really rubbed me the wrong way was one day one of the, I was in the bullpen and one of the more senior folks walked by that had a corner office and said, oh yeah, well, this is basically our funnel system or our feeder system. And these people won’t be around. And that just really drove me nuts. To the point where I was like, you’re not getting any of my relationships, because to your point earlier, it is all about relationships.

 

Greg:

It is! But you got to make that like, so from municipal bond to relationship. Cause like, it was just selling municipal bonds. Now it’s about relationships and helping people maximize their lives, maximize their legacies. You know, it’s a whole different business. So unfortunately some people are still stuck, right back, back where it was wherever, 20, 30 years ago. So I wish we could just help people understand — that still exists out there. That still exists out there. And, and when you say, you know, “we’re different,” it’s so frustrating, but you have, you have a view of like how it really is different. I remember like, you know, you just have to believe in something greater than yourself. You have to believe that what we’re doing is, is, is helping, you know, it’s just helping people with a different life, helping their children?

 

And I remember when I was with my prior firm, American Funds, I used to wake up every day and I’d think — my, my, my, my mission statement was you know, I want to fundamentally change the way people think about investing their money in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia. And if I do so appropriately, I will help people retire without worrying, become educated without limits. And like that motivated me. Like that got me going. And I talked to one of the old Southern guys that worked for American Funds at the time. And I remember I said to him, I said, Graham, what’s your mission statement? Like what’s yours? He said, “Aw Greg, mine’s sorta simple. I’m just trying to protect people from all the other bullshit that’s out there.” So, so, so I don’t know that our mission statement is protect people from all the other bullshit that’s out there.

 

Brian:

Hey, it works.

 

Greg:

But like, like, like, so why did you join? And I know I’m not looking for self, but like, I just want people to know as you get a peek under the tent, how, you know, like why, and, and, and, and if you want to say like, what you wish we would be able to do differently, Hey, we’re not, we’re not done getting great yet. So it’s okay to do that also, but you have a fresh perspective. Like what made you go from, you know, the last national firm in your career, and, you know, again, a very successful business and you decided to become part of the team of Confluence.

 

Brian:

I knew I didn’t want to be there long-term. And I was looking for a place, knowing my, that we have six kids and my youngest is three. I’m 45. And as I like to say, I’ve got another 25 years in me. I wanted to be at a place where I knew I wanted to be. Where I knew I wanted to come to work every day. And I think the biggest difference for me was I didn’t feel that joy in getting up in the morning. I felt joyful to work with my clients because, and I even hate to refer to them as clients, but work with the wonderful relationships that have been trusted me with, with so much. And the fact that I didn’t feel that same degree of support on the other side, to me, it wore on me.

 

And in many cases, I felt like I was in the boat by myself. And, you know, this is going to sound like a silly reference point. But if you’re in a boat by yourself and you’re rowing those oars and you stop one, you’re just spinning around and you’re doing circles. And I felt like I was doing circles all the time. It doesn’t mean I wasn’t doing a good job for the folks that entrusted me. It just, I didn’t feel fulfilled. I didn’t feel challenged. I didn’t feel motivated. I didn’t feel pushed. And I think, you know, one of the biggest things, and that’s why I think we’ve always hit it off is, you know, you think about a shared vision. I think you and I have a shared vision. I think for so many people that, that are here have a shared vision.

 

Greg:

Yeah. Shared like, yeah, it’s, it’s a shared belief system. And by the way, you need to, if, if you love this business or you love any business, if you’re, if you’re thinking about being in business, you better eat the business.

 

Brian:

Yeah.

 

Greg:

You better—

 

Brian:

You can’t fake it.

 

Greg:

You can’t fake it. Like, you know, some people say there’s, oh, there’s business. And then there’s personal. That’s BS. There’s just life. And it’s both the same. And so you’ve taught, you’ve done a good job of, and by the way, for people listening, it’s so about balance and balance is so misunderstood. Some people think balance is you just take off whenever you want. Or like, you know what I mean? That’s not balanced. That’s, that’s being, that’s, that’s not balanced. So but you know, you’ve done a good job of toggling and really just not working, not playing but living.

 

Brian:

Correct.

 

Greg:

So you, you know, you, you have really done a good job at that. And, you know, to be as committed as you are on the golf course, I saw you on the telethon and then, oh, by the way, this is no, but this is the balance part. Right? Right. So we are on number 16. I think we played, I played 16 holes and Brian has our caddy go get him a cart so he can get to his car so he can be back in Pittsburgh for his daughter’s Confirmation. That’s what it’s about.

 

Brian:

It is.

 

Greg:

So you, didn’t not show up to either. And you are present. Except for when you were on the phone on the golf course, which is, that’s, that’s a different issue. So—

 

Brian:

I can talk about that—

 

Greg:

Do it! Okay, go ahead, go ahead. Because this is important.

 

Brian:

Well it is. And you think about culture and one of the things that’s hard to articulate, what is a growth culture? Cause that was one thing I was really looking for, is I want to be at a place that’s going to challenge me, push me. But at the same time with the that’s always heading in the growth direction. Well there was an issue where I didn’t realize the timing of a very important securities-based loan and what was needed. Well, the client’s buying a business, needed, needed this line. And so Randy, who is, for all the folks that work at Confluence, they know all about him, but I think he’s MacGyver.

 

Greg:

Yeah. You know what yeah. He’s like MacGyver, you know, like we just have such, these people that say, and you, you, you, you can maybe comment on that. These people that say millennials don’t work real hard.

 

Brian:

No. Not here.

 

Greg:

Not here. Like if we, like we’ll text each other at nine o’clock at night. Right. And, and it’s just, it’s just how we are. But, you know, but if someone needs to be with their child in the middle of day, that’s cool too.

 

Brian:

Yes. Yes. And so while, while we were golfing and I had let them down, because I didn’t realize the timeline and, you know, back to the incredible responsibility, we all feel, well it was killing me. So we’re out there golfing. Having — supposed to be having a good time. And you know, I’ve got Randy typing in things so that they can be submitted and approved. All the while Randy’s working through the back office staff that he knows to get this done. And so what normally would have taken a couple of days was done literally in one day. And thankfully the wire went out today, which was a day ahead of when it showed up. So all because of someone showing dedication to what they want to do.

 

Greg:

And the client needed how much money?

 

Brian:

1.9 million dollars.

 

Greg:

So $1.9 million. I mean that, but, so I don’t know if he even told you this. So it was yesterday 3:52. I texted Randy: “awesome work for Brian.” He texts back: “two thumbs up, happy to help. I’m just glad RJR custodian came through.”

 

Brian:

Yep.

 

Greg:

So do you know what I mean, with that, that, that shows a growth mindset that just shows camaraderie and teamwork.

 

Brian:

Well, and I think, you know, most people, they look at a challenge and they’re like, oh my, oh, no. And that was the other thing. Thinking about the big wirehouses. No, there’s no direction of, okay, well that doesn’t work. Let’s go this other way. And that mindset is prevalent. You want to — don’t tell me no, help me come up with a solution so that I can help the folks out that have that, or have engaged me. And I think that is a big disconnect.

 

But back to your, your question about how that balance works, I think for me, it’s, it’s, we only have so much time on this earth. Every day matters. The goal was to get up every day and be better than we were the next day. And having six kids, that’s a tremendous responsibility. I don’t, Amy and I don’t want to be the parents that, you know, spend all of our time doing something and missing out on all those wonderful experiences. Now I will tell you a 17-year-old to a three-year-old it’s, it’s challenging right now. We’ve got two, two teenagers that I think they think I’m from Mars, nothing I can say can be helpful. I don’t know anything. So, and then you’re dealing with a three- and a five-year-old who were running around the church last night, I’m trying to corral them. And it’s like, okay, well, and everyone’s looking at us. There’s the Ripleys.

 

Greg:

So when we did at our house, we did a, we did a pool party for the associates and their families. And, and it was it was a relatively normal event. And then the Ripleys show up. It was like, bam, instant energy. It was so much fun.

 

And by the way, it is amazing that, notice how, like Brian just takes responsibility for, I misunderstood the process. Like it’s not really true, right. I mean, it’s like, it’s just, the process takes a little longer. There was no understanding of the brain. So, but, but you made it work. And one thing I can say about you is you are just kind, and, and you don’t, you don’t like, you’re just, you’re a good team player and you’re very, very complimentary of the staff. Well, thank you.

 

Brian:

Well, thank you. But I think the word team, I mean, in, my personal email, it’s Team Ripley, I mean, I think I’ve always associated with sports, being a great metaphor for life. And to me, we are one big team. And I think the fact that we pick each other up and you know, that to me was one part of this culture that I think you can’t, until you’re here, or you spend two years getting to know you and getting to know all the folks here, I think it’s hard to really for most people to say, okay, I can see myself there. But it was real easy here.

 

Greg:

Thank you. So let’s go back to the growth mindset, because, you know, I was, I was talking to someone recently and I said like — and it’s in a different podcast — I said, you know, what’s a trait of successful people, successful organizations. And he immediately said they have a growth mindset. And I think people talk about a fixed mindset, a growth mindset, and it can sound like it can sound like mumbo-jumbo. What do you, how do you like, like how, what are you when we talk about growth mindset and you see it work inside of here in your own life, how would you define that?

 

Brian:

I think it’s accepting the challenge. I think, you know, in Randy’s example or in Randy’s case, you know, you’re always wanting to get better. You’re not, there’s no obstacle that should prevent you from getting where you need to go. I think for me, growth would be just getting better every single day. It doesn’t have to be monumental leaps. That’s just what the mindset of every day, I’m going to do something today to be better than I was yesterday. And I think that that just compounds and keeps rolling and rolling and rolling. I think the other side of it is, you can also be somewhat discontent because you’re always trying to get better. So we talked, you and I talked about it yesterday. I mean, there’s a point where you got to smell the roses. And I think that’s one challenge that I have, is to take a, take a step back.

 

Greg:

Enjoy the journey, but understand that, you know, you got to keep getting better. And that’s where happiness comes from. It’s interesting. As I think about it, I, I, I think the best way to explain, with companies, I think you did a great job of explaining a growth mindset, but from a company perspective, you know, there’s a fixed versus a growth mindset. And I think by the way, growth is misunderstood. It’s just getting bigger and bigger, bigger — that’s BS. It’s keep getting better, better, and better. You’ll get bigger if you’re better, but, but just keep adding resources to get better and do a better job or better health. Or, and, and I’m not saying it’s, you know, you have to, like you say, get obsessed by better, but you know, you, you have to improve every day and just do a little bit better tomorrow than you did today.

 

And if you don’t, you become taxi. And that’s the example I was going to, you know, taxis had a fixed mindset. When you flew into New York and you were in LaGuardia, these people thought they had it licked. They, they waited in line. Their medallion cost a lot of money. They had no competition, it was taxi! Like taxi ran the deal. And then there was this, this group trying to get a little better called Uber. And Uber’s like, wow, if we could just change the technology, change the experience, right? Change the model. We can create something better. It could be the same with iPad. As I’m looking at my iPad, like, you know, Apple decided that this, this iPad thing could be really cool, and people would really love it.

 

And so a growth mindset is trying to anticipate what people need and providing it for them versus resting on your laurels because you’re some big national firm that, you know, is maybe not as nimble as they should be on behalf of the clients. And a growth mindset, I don’t know you, I challenge anyone that their happiest moments in life is when they’re improving at something. I don’t care if it’s your golf game, your health, trying to be a better chef, trying to be a better financial advisor. I promise you; you are happiest when you are trying to improve.

 

Brian:

I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t agree more. I mean, I think there’s a comfort though in that fixed mentality, I think people become passive. They become accepting. I think, you know, especially in our business, they feel like they’ve plateaued and they’re just going to kind of ride it out. And to me, I think that’s boring. One and, and it’s not fulfilling to your point. It’s not—

 

Greg:

It’s the status. I mean, it it’s typical. It is so typical. I’m going to go play golf every day. I’m not going to get any better at whatever other aspect of my life. It’s just, that’s our industry. That’s a lot of industries and that’s unfortunate.

 

When you when we talk about our teams and we do work in a team environment and I don’t know, and, and not just on our teams, I think a lot of — but what makes a great team? When you say like, you know, I mean your perspective. Cause I think a lot of people say they have a team and sometimes that just means they have people on there— they don’t work hard anymore. And all the people around them do all the work. That’s sometimes what a team, you know, or like there’s great teams. And like, what do you, what do you think, just in observing, make for a great team?

 

Brian:

I know it’s going to sound boring, but a shared vision. Too many times, there might be one or two people that have an idea of where they want to go, but not everyone is bought on.

 

Greg:

Yeah.

 

Brian:

I think to me, I think when everyone works together, everyone’s better.

Greg:

Yeah.

 

Brian:

I think the other side of what makes a great team is you got to have people that know their role in that team and that are willing to work together to accomplish the greater good. It’s not about me. It’s about “we.” I think that’s, that’s probably the most simplified way. It’s interesting. I’m reading a book right now, “Chicken Runs at Midnight” and it’s a beautiful story about a coach that his daughter died. And but I’m in the, the portion where Barry Bonds, they’re in the locker room, it’s the Pirates in their glory years that when Leland assembled this beast of a team. And the thing is, they talked about when Andy Van Slyke came in, he changed the whole dynamic. Bonds and Van Slyke didn’t get along, necessarily, but they knew that they were better together than they were separately. And I think, to me, if people all have an eye on the prize, it’s a lot easier to get people to get on board.

 

Greg:

Yeah. And the differences actually make you stronger. You could be different, you can have a different approach, but you have to have the same goal. Right? So you, you act like it’s either — I think I, I think in this firm, it’s either get better, get out. If you’re not really wanting to get a lot better and you’re not really wanting to create something special on behalf of our clients, it’s just not a great place for you. But then it’s really important, and this is really important, and understanding each other’s personalities is key. Like, like, like, like Brian is a major — in fact, we have this thing that we use called Kolbe and, and, and we had Brian do it. And then he said, do you mind if Amy does it? I’m like, no, my family did it too. Let’s do that. It’ll help you to communicate even better together. And I said, spoiler alert: Here’s what your Kolbe’s going to look like. And, and, and just right in this way,

 

Brian:

And you nailed it. But I think, you know, to the depth of why we do what we do, if there are personality characteristics that one has, and they’re going to butt heads, we want everyone— back to the question. We want things to be complementary. And if people are butting heads, it’s defeating the whole purpose of trying to create something great. And the Kolbe, to me, helped flesh out what I kind of knew, but maybe he didn’t want to admit.

 

Greg:

And we hired a great new associate to work with you.

 

Brian:

Yes.

 

Greg:

Came from Deloitte out of D.C., a great new associate, and we made sure his style was complementary to yours. So then we actually had a strong team that could serve your clients.

 

Brian:

Yeah. And Sean, we’ve worked quite well, we’ve worked exceptionally well together. I’m impressed, his stick-to-it-iveness. No, it’s been great. But I think you having weeded out, kind of, the folks that may not have meshed well with me from the beginning, I think only ensures that this team that’s being built at a young age or infancy will only get stronger and bigger and become better. And I think the foundation was strong to begin with. And I think it goes back to, just like anything in life. If you build a strong foundation, you can start to add on top of layer, upon layer, too many people rush things, or they don’t see where they’re all going. And they, they, they may be driven by different things, but here the foundation was strong in my opinion, and it continues to get stronger. Right.

 

Greg:

And I think what most people would be surprised about is, we’ve, we’ve grown a lot. I’m very fortunate to have people like you join, but the truth is we could have grown a lot quicker, and it made the very, I think, important decision to say it could have challenged our culture. So we actually, at times pulled the reins. We had one moment in our, in our history where we could have a, we could have doubled. We could have doubled like really, really fast and it felt good, sugar high. And then Jim and I looked at each other, we were at Ruth’s Chris, Ruth’s Chris, we’re at Ruth’s Chris, downtown. And we looked at each other and we didn’t really say anything. We were with someone else. We just like, it was just, we didn’t, we didn’t say anything other than we both looked at each other and we both, you know, we didn’t need to say anything. We both knew it would have been too much, too fast. And we were down to the short strokes, and it would’ve been big news, but, and by the way, this other firm is phenomenal. Just wouldn’t have been right. It’s just, it would have been too much. So you can, you can also grow too fast. Right. You have to lay that foundation.

 

Brian:

But that is I think that’s part of the reason why I was, you know, you think about the two-year courtship you were interviewing me. Just see if my culture what I, what I would be if I would be additive to the culture here. And to me, I think that’s, that’s part of the whole process to your point. People can grow for the wrong reasons.

 

Greg:

Yeah. You’re one of us. Like there, someone else could also be a strong producer like you, and they’re just not right. Doesn’t make them bad. It’s just not right for us. If you’re not like really fired up to be in this business, you don’t have a passion for the business and love your clients and, it’s just not right. It doesn’t, whatever, whatever you do, you be you. But like, it wouldn’t be good for us. And so, you know, I mean, I don’t, we just wouldn’t to do it. And, and, but you, I mean, I, and by the way, I think people would be surprised — you tell them how long we negotiated over money.

 

Brian:

Oh, it was like less than five minutes.

 

Greg:

Yeah. So it was, and, by the way, it’s way, it’s more than we wanted to pay you. So— just kidding. But he said a number and, I just knew it, it didn’t, I didn’t even matter what, because I knew, and you knew we could trust each other. And that was it. Like we shook hands. It was, I don’t, it could have been five minutes, you know, I maybe. But we were like, it’s cool.

 

Brian:

Well, actually, it was probably like a minute.

 

Greg:

I think it’s right. Cause you said like, and I said, and it was like, okay, well it’s fine, whatever, what’s the difference? And we literally shook hands, and it was like, that was it. Yeah. And I’m sure it’s in writing somewhere, but it was like, is it?

 

Brian:

Ironically, so the day before I— about joined or the day before I joined, I called Ryan and said, Hey, Ryan, I know Greg and I agreed upon this. Can I have this in writing. He’s like, oh yeah. I’m like, can I sign it before I started? He’s like, yeah, yeah, sure. And then ironically, I got it, but I didn’t sign it until 2 weeks later.

 

Greg:

Yeah. But it was that fast. And, and, you know, there were, there were a lot of other people courting you.

 

Brian:

I talked to so— in two years—

 

Greg:

And some financially, in the short run…

 

Brian:

Oh, in the short run, yeah. Everyone kept playing the financial card. As if that was the primary reason. And then what, what they clearly demonstrated, they weren’t really listening to what was most important to me.

 

Greg:

Right.

 

Brian:

And I think that was, you know, money can be dangled in front of you. And it’s like, oh, wow, well, I could do this. And then you start to think, I was like, no, no, that’s not why I’m doing this. I’m doing this, obviously, I want to do well for my family. We’re not doing this for free, but I want to do it for the right reasons. And it’s not about, like you said, growing just to grow, it’s about being in the right culture, the right fit. So that you’re because — here’s the thing. What people fail to realize by dangling the carrot: If I grow, if we grow at a rate of speed that I believe that we’re capable of growing, all those conversations are for naught, it was a short-term thing. And so when Amy and I were kind of walking through the pros and the cons, we kept coming back to two years, five years, 10 years, 20 years, Confluence is always better. And a two-year period. What I mean, that’s, that’s like a blink of an eye.

 

Greg:

Financially, we’re very, very fair with everybody. It’s not like we are lowball anything. That’s why it was a short conversation — it was just fair. And it was obvious that it was fair, but that some like, and for people that are making decisions and for young people that are trying to decide, and for that are trying to counsel their children and grandchildren, please don’t make a decision based on short-term money. People come out of college. And the difference between job A and job B is $5,000. And in the whole 10,000. 15, same number. Over the course of their careers, the experience of that first job, what they learn on that first job, the mentors they have on that first job is so much more valuable than that 15, but I’ll talk to parents and they’re like, Johnny’s offered 60 or 70. And it’s like, same number. You’re like, no, it’s $10,000.

 

Greg:

And I’m like, No! It’s like the launch of Johnny or Susie’s career.

 

Brian:

The long game.

 

Greg:

It’s hard for people. It’s hard for people to see the long game. And I remember when I was at American Funds, we were talking about the most undervalued assets. One of the portfolio managers, who is brilliant, he said I know the most undervalued asset in the entire world. I’m like, okay, this is good. I’m buying it. He said that of a long-term thinker. And I thought, that’s it. That of a long-term thinker. Because if you think long-term the amount of the decisions — if you — by the way, a book to read, I forget the guy that wrote it. I’ll think of it, but it’s called the “Infinite Game.” If you remove time from the game and you, and you’re like, realize you’re playing the long game, we, and you are building this firm for our clients, children, and grandchildren.

(“Infinite Game,” Simon Sinek, 2019)

 

Greg:

And we will be here 20 and 30 years from now. And if we do it right, the pie will be big enough that we won’t have to worry about splitting it. That’s a growth mindset. You grow the pie. So you don’t have to fight about your piece. The fixed mindset is that the total is, is fixed. And so then therefore we have to argue over whether it’s this percentage or that percentage. It’s way better to just grow the pie so you don’t have to think about those things.

 

Brian:

Most people don’t want to look at playing the long game.

 

Greg:

And you got the wrong people, and you get the wrong people.

 

Brian:

Yeah.

 

Greg:

Like if someone joins for money, they get the wrong people, right? I mean, look, look at country clubs. They’ll do this deal where they get all these people for whatever reason. And then they end up with a bunch of people that they don’t really have a shared belief system with.

 

Greg:

They just want a cheap place instead of a nice place or whatever they want. They don’t, they don’t bring like-minded people. And that is the beginning of the end.

 

So we use this Kolbe index to help determine what your personality is. Is it action oriented? Is it process oriented? Are you really focused on fact-finding? And everybody has some component of all four. And there’s also, do you like to work with your hands? There’s some component of all four, but you have a dominant one. And what you try to do is if someone’s really process-oriented, you move, you, you, you match them up with someone more action-oriented because the, the person could be stuck in process, not bad, but you know, someone helps them take initiative. Someone that takes initiative needs the process.

 

By the way. In addition to that, we’re where there’s also something called Personalysis. And a couple of us are being licensed to take Personalysis. And the reason we’re doing that one is it’s better, not for business, but it’s better for individuals. So we’re going to be that we’re going to sit down with, we’re going to go sit down with families and our family meetings, and we’re going to help families understand how each other communicates. So then it’s easier for them to talk about money, because as we all know, the number one reason money is squandered is because it is: lack of communication. So if we can help families understand how each other communicate, effectively, and then we could help them communicate in general, but more specifically about money and hopefully make sure that they don’t they don’t, they don’t fall to the statistic that, I think it’s 70% of the money’s is squandered in the second generation, 90% of the third generation. So we’re working on that also, it’s called Personalysis.

 

So as we sit in this room, Brian, this is just one more thing I think of, you know, I think sometimes the way we do things, people take for granted and we collaborate a lot. So Tuesday mornings, we, we, we have a different type of meeting in this very room where we, on our big screen, I don’t know how many inches that thing is, but it’s the whole wall. We have our other offices where we communicate and we talk and we share, we share wow. Wow ideas mean like, how did you wow a client this week? Like, what did you do really special for a client this week? And we go through some other things.

 

You’ve been through a lot of other firms, what I don’t know, because other people are trying to create firms also. So what is it about that meeting?

 

Brian:

It was refreshing because I came in the meeting thinking it was going to be a short 10-minute meeting and it starts off with a wow and win, and I believe there was an event that weekend and oh, it was, it was coming up. It was after the Amateur. And you talked about how great it was. And but for me, it was the collaboration. People were all vested. Everyone was on the same page. Everyone chimed in. You could tell that everyone was, it was not to sound corny, but one heartbeat. Because everyone was, everyone was into it. And to me, I’ve been through too many meetings where it’s like, oh my gosh, get me out of here. You know, this is all fluff! What are we talking about? Only to come here and be thinking, okay, everyone’s not only participating, but everyone’s excited about it. Everyone’s on board. And it was genuine. I think people, you know, whether they were called in or not, but they were present, they were looking at their camera. They weren’t distracted by something else. And if, if I hadn’t been in a group meeting in six and a half years before I left the bank and there, it was like, wow, this is what it’s like to be in the boat with other people.

 

Greg:

Yeah. And we’re glad you’re in the boat, but you just mentioned something in passing. For those of you doing group meetings on Zoom and you’re, you’re, you’re trying to get collaboration: cameras on. It’s one thing, like, I don’t know, we stumbled upon that maybe a year and a half ago, whatever it was. And we’re like, okay, if you’re like, first of all, you know, everybody’s on that meeting. So it’s not like, an optional thing. Everybody’s on the meeting and cameras on. So, you know, if you’re in another office, camera on, if you’re in your office, camera on, and then I know we’re in COVID, but we do try to encourage as many people as safe, can safely get into one room. We like to be around each other. Because I’m, I’m gonna tell you right now, this whole “we can all work for home” as effectively, is a lie. It’s, it’s, it doesn’t mean that we need to be, can’t be more flexible and we don’t let people work, you know, maybe remotely every once in a while, when it, when their life causes them to do that.

 

But the collaboration, the culture, the training, this poor, next generation, not learning from the generation from before. It’s not as good. We’ve become, we, we, we have, we embraced it. I think because people think it’s just very, very convenient. But it’s not coincidence that golf rounds are at a record high at the same time people are working from home. It can’t be a coincidence. Some of our competitors are not allowed to see their clients and be in the same room with their clients. It’s, it’s mind boggling. It’s their money. They need to see you without a mask on. If you’re vaccinated, and they’re vaccinated. I’m not a doctor, but holy moley, let’s like, right? I mean that collaboration is everything.

 

Brian:

And then throughout this transition, if I wasn’t able to come here or I wasn’t able to see Randy or you or, or Sean, I think it would have been a totally different experience.

 

Greg:

Yeah.

 

Brian:

And the fact that as much as you can feel, someone’s, feel where they’re coming from on a Zoom in, unless you’re in the same room as.

 

Greg:

Yeah.

 

Brian:

It takes away the spontaneity of, Hey, I need your help with this. Or instead of pinging someone, waiting for response. To me, it just, it kind of goes back to the whole thing of, you’re not able to, to build the relationships that you otherwise would build unless you’re in person.

 

Greg:

Agreed. So gosh, I don’t want this to sound self-serving, I really don’t, but I want people to understand how unique the place is and because we want to help more and more people. Right now, we have 2,100 families. We can’t wait till we can fill up the whole Civic Arena or PPG Arena with families.

 

So let me, let me just ask you this. Cause you’ve been in the business like, you know, forever. A lot’s going on the investment business and, and, and, and I know you are, you are focused on the investment world and what do you think? I don’t know, like, I am  — didn’t prepare you for this, sorry — but you know, just speak from the heart. Like, what do you think clients should know? Not about us, but like right now, what are some of the things that you think clients should be thinking about? What are the typical mistakes clients make? And if you could say like, man, if all clients would just do this, they’d be better off.

 

Brian:

So many people don’t understand what they’re trying to accomplish. I think they are investing to invest. They get caught up in the quote-unquote what, what I mean with, with social media and the preponderance of investment material, that’s pumped out daily. I think people emotionally get caught up with all the things that are pumped out. And I think that takes them off of where they’re trying to go.

 

Greg:

Like, know what you’re trying to accomplish. That, that that’s like your portfolio should support your dreams and goals and mission.

 

Brian:

Yeah.

 

Greg:

And if you don’t know your dreams and goals and missions then you haven’t had a really good conversation with your financial advisor. That’s it.

 

Brian:

Yeah.

 

Greg:

Right? I mean, what do you think of gold? I think it’s gold. Like more importantly, how does it serve my goal?

 

Brian:

Right. And, and I think that is where people, they get caught up in the narratives and, and it’s unfortunate, but as we all know, back to playing the long game, investing is the long game. But you have to have a game plan that you understand, and too many people don’t either take the time or don’t want to take the time. With that, obviously there there’s the, the regular updates on where, are we on target with our goals and all that good stuff. But I would say for those that don’t have money, I think the biggest thing would be budgeting, understanding what you make, how many people do you talk to that have no, they have no idea what they, they spend. I think, you know, you, you can get away with it if you’ve got a lot of money, but if you don’t have a lot of money, obviously that’s a challenge.

 

Greg:

Or if you have a lot of money, there’s this balance between how much of it do you want to enjoy in your life

versus how much of it do you want to leave to your heirs.

 

Brian:

Yeah.

 

Greg:

Or give to charity? But there’s — like doing nothing is a decision. So some people should be spending more money. Some people should be spending less. Some people are really like maximizing their lives with their portfolios, through, you know, experiences with their family. And at the other time, like, please, if, if, if, if you get, if we get nothing else out of this conversation with Brian Ripley, please remember put together a plan on how your children are going to inherit your wealth, so it can be received as a blessing, not a burden. You don’t want your family fighting. You don’t want your family confused. You don’t want your family feeling guilty just because you don’t want to talk about it. So if we tell you nothing else, talk about it. And we want to facilitate those conversations.

 

Brian:

I have for years brought that up and I’m still, I’m surprised with how many families or parents have not shared with their children, what’s the game plan? And I’ll bring up the topic and I’ll even mention I’ll facilitate the discussion, but there’s

 

Greg:

It’s one of my favorite meetings to do, family meetings. I love it.

 

Brian:

But there’s a resistance to it.

 

Greg:

Oh yeah. Everybody’s gonna, they’re gonna. Everybody’s gonna do it. But when you get them done, by the way, the first one is weird. Get ready for it. The first one’s a little awkward. But after that, if you do them over time, I think we’re on our third, fourth, whatever, like whatever, and our family, but they’re powerful.

 

Brian:

Oh they are.

 

Greg:

And by the way, it doesn’t only have to be about money and then, you know it, I think. Okay. Yep. Yep. Here we go. So last year we said, Okay, what charity do the Weimers want to focus on? Where do we want to bend the curve? What’s our, the Misogi goal — story for another day — what’s our Misogi goal and really, Lori and I spent time on it. And then the kids we, we said like, let’s do this. And the year before that, it was, it was more about faith.

 

And you know, and we, we have a lot of other things we talk about, but, but it’s, it’s, it doesn’t need— You bring your family to a shared belief system, just like you bring a company to a shared belief system. And it just, it just becomes more rewarding. And now all of a sudden, what you’ve worked so hard for your whole life becomes way more meaningful, because you and your family together are going to enjoy, share and donate it.

 

So we live in a world, so much of services done by an 800 number. So much of, you know, we were in a meeting and they’re like, you can now auto-enroll. You don’t even need to see a human being anymore. The whole philosophy of service to some, to some extent, great organizations, not the Ritz and stuff like that, but so much , service. And maybe some of it’s lack of people, I don’t know, but it feels like service is lacking. What, what’s your view of service? Like how do you make sure that you as a human being differentiate yourself on service?

 

Brian:

This is going to sound corny, but it’s the, the golden rule. I mean, we all want to be treated a certain way. And so I try, I strive to provide the same level of service that I’d want to receive. And when you think about the relationships that we have with, with these wonderful folks that have entrusted us, you know, the reality is, they want us to know, or they want to know, that we’re worried about this more than they are.

 

Greg:

Well, we talked about earlier, with the line of credit yesterday, for 1.9 million. And by the way, you’re, you are a professional, but you were freaking out. Like not because you were freaking out because you felt you should have, you felt 100% responsible to make sure that that individual was about to buy that business, had the $1.9 million in the account. And the fact that you were golfing at Laurel, none of that mattered. The only thing that mattered to you in the whole world at that moment was that client. And I just wish sometimes people could be able to see that. Because they think like, oh yeah, he’s sorta working on it… Sort of working on it? Like, like, like living it, breathing it and feeling it.

 

Brian:

That’s all you can do. And people, but people know that. And they, they they’ve seen enough other people in the marketplace. We all, we all know. And my belief is you’ve got to, you can’t fake that stuff. And people know, I mean, you know, when someone’s giving you the lip service or they’re not giving their all. And so I’m probably harder on myself than anyone else will be. But to me, I think it comes back to, you know, I want to know that I’m doing the best and I put a lot on my own shoulders to make sure that I’m delivering on what, what I need to do.

 

Greg:

Yeah.

 

Brian:

I mean, we’re in the investment business. It’s a great business, but let’s face it — if it’s only about the investments, what value are we adding?

 

Greg:

When someone reaches out and we say, “got it” — it’s gotta mean “got it.” And that, when we say got it, the whole team goes to work to make. I was just on the phone with, with a, with a woman from out of town in Illinois. And we’re doing some things for an estate planning. And I said, we got it. And in the last, I don’t know, hour, I’m telling you, people got it. And we’re going to get back to her with a thoroughly vetted answer that we got it. But it’s, that’s the difference.

 

Brian:

But to your point, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll just say that you know, there’s a, there’s a great amount of trust with the folks here because they got it.

 

Greg:

And they are smart.

 

Brian:

Yeah. They are.

 

Greg:

Like, like, like there there’s a group. We don’t need to — obviously, Randy, one of them. There’s a bunch, there’s a bunch of like 20 something, 30 something, 40 somethings. They’re just smart.

 

Brian:

They are, but they’re hard working. And you know, when we got together, sitting at this table with the, you know when they took, when Gregory and Randy took me through all the sophistication of the technology, I mean, because you know, people are like, well, why did you leave? Culture. Well, culture is a huge part of it, but how do you talk about that? But you know, what’s, what are the additive components underneath the hood?

 

Greg:

Yeah. And I, and if you’re in a room with Gregory and Randy and they don’t know the answer, it was a bad question. Because it’s like they do! Katie’s laughing. Like they know! Like they know! In fact, I’m like, how do they know this stuff? I mean, Jim and I will say every once in a while, it’s like, how do they know that? It’s, I don’t know. They know, like they, they just know. It’s really, it’s really remarkable. In fact, they said, how do you guys get like your, your twenty-something and thirty-somethings to work so hard? And your forty-somethings? And the truth is we don’t. They do it to each other, like they challenge each other. They, there’s just a higher standard where they really encourage each other to get better. And their, it’s not competitive because, but, but it’s just the standard and they live up to it.

 

Brian:

And I think you’ve also recognized that extra effort. Where I think a lot of people would want to work hard at other places or they do work hard, they don’t feel the same sense of appreciation that they do here.

 

Greg:

Gratitude.

 

Brian:

Yeah.

 

Greg:

So we’re doing, we’re doing some videos on gratitude and it’s just so powerful. It’s gratitude. We have, we have so much to be grateful for. And many of the things we have to be grateful for, we just take for granted and that’s unfortunate.

 

Brian:

It is. But you do that. You can do that with everything.

 

Greg:

Brian, We are so fortunate to have you as part of the team, I look forward to working with you for the next 25 years. After that, I can’t promise I’ll be here. But I look forward to working with you. And you’re not only a great member of the team, how you’ve acclimated to become a great friend to the organization is, is really appreciated. And your clients, and I mean this from every, from the bottom of my heart, your clients are very, very fortunate to have you. Thanks.

 

Brian:

Thank you.

 

Greg:

Thank you for listening to the Imagine That podcast. We hope you enjoyed this episode and welcome you to reach out to Confluence Financial Partners with your questions and comments. If you’d like to hear more episodes, head over to ConfluenceFP.com/podcasts, or find us wherever you get your podcasts.

 

 

Confluence Financial Partners was created to set a higher standard of financial planning for our clients. How do we achieve it? By hiring the best and brightest talent. Introducing one of our newest Wealth Managers, Brian Ripley. Brian brings more than two decades of financial services experience to the Confluence family, along with a growth mindset and passion for helping our clients — and our firm — continue to thrive. Tune in to find out why Brian chose Confluence and learn about his plans for building a team to better serve our clients. If you’re interested in how Confluence attracts, retains and develops the best talent — or looking for tips on cultivating a mindset of continual improvement — this episode is sure to deliver.

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