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Money and Moral Conflicts With David Dodd

Your clients’ background, experiences, and relationships all play a part in the way they see the world—and the way they see money. As the focus of the planning industry shifts towards more value-based advice, to really understand your clients, you need to more deeply understand what motivates their self-interest.

On this episode of the Elementality podcast, Reese Harper welcomes David Dodd of The Other 90 Financial. In a wide-ranging discussion, they talk about the growth of social consciousness when it comes to money, biblically responsible investing, how gifting can help clients feel more centered, and more. Whether you realize it or not, the quality of your advice may be determined by how well you understand the different attitudes and beliefs of the clients who work with you.


Podcast Transcript

David Dodd:
It’s interesting that this fuel for our life, like the whole financial planning conversation, is definitely moving in that direction. Overall, you can see it everywhere, and all the major podcasts that you listen to is talking about values and bringing people back to what’s most important to them. You’ve got Kinder’s three questions, you’ve got all these resources and things that people are talking about values, but then they totally ignore it when it comes the actual implementation of how you invest the money and use the money.

Abby Morton:
Welcome to Elementality. I’m Abby Morton, CFP and Producer of our podcast here at Elements. I love being a financial planner, but I know it’s a challenging profession as well. That’s why the number one goal of our show is to help you prosper as an advisor as you better connect with your clients. We know your time is very valuable. Plan on a good return when you spend it here with us.

Reese Harper:
Welcome to another episode of Elementality, everybody. I’m your host, Reese Harper, excited for a guest interview this morning with a seasoned financial advisor who I have admired for a while, who also was born and raised in the small town life, David Dodd. David welcome to the show.

David Dodd:
Hey, thanks for having me. I’m surprised I even have internet out here, to be honest.

Reese Harper:
You never know. Yeah, you never know. So for those of you who are not sensitive to some of the humor that might pass, David grew up in a small town, he’s not in quite a small of the market anymore. Let’s go ahead and have you give us some background, David, about how you got into the industry, you and I met each other about a year ago, and I’ve just really admired kind of your approach to planning, you’re running a solo shop, which I love. You’re doing almost everything. You’re being really smart with technology and you’re outsourcing and you’re trying to be efficient, it’s… You’ve got really high client satisfaction, you’ve got good retention, talk to me about how you got into the business, and then what led you to start in your own firm, let’s go through that journey for everybody.

David Dodd:
Oh man. Yeah, okay, so let me think here how I got into the business. Probably, I guess I’ll start with the first experience that even got me interested in the subject, and that was really whenever all my friends were going off to universities, we all did our first two years at the local community college, and everybody was going off and I remember kinda just hovering the mouse wanting to apply to the same college that they were all going to, knowing fully well that I couldn’t afford it, and it was a bad decision ’cause I didn’t know what I wanted to do exactly. But I still really wanted to do it because of that just social pressure and not wanted to feel like a failure or a quitter, so that’s when I decided to take a gap year kind of thing, it ended up being a gap two years and did basically… Probably what would look like the most terrible outcome for somebody who did any college, which was… I was a security guard, I was like at a guard shack, that was my job for a couple of years while I figured out what I wanted to do, which was really bonus points with my in-laws when I started dating my wife.

David Dodd:
And so anyways, that was kind of my first experience and got really involved, and so I had a lot of time at that job and started getting super into personal finance stuff, and Dave Ramsey kinda kicked it off for me, and obviously then I come… He’s like, he’s kind of like my financial dad, but I disagree with him on a lot of things now.

Reese Harper:
Well, isn’t it kinda the way it is with parents? So you love them and you respect them and they give you great advice, and then there’s once in a while where you just see the world differently, and it maybe not because they were wrong at their time, but like the world shifts 30 years later. And it’s a different world than it was. I feel like that way about Dave Ramsey myself. I’m like, “There was a time where when you could actually pay off a mortgage fast… ”

David Dodd:
Yeah.

Reese Harper:
Yeah, it was like a thing. Now, I’m like, “Dude most of… ” It’s just that the world shifts a lot, but anyway.

David Dodd:
It would make my job a lot easier if all I did was just say pay off all your debt, I’d probably have a lot better profit margins but it’s not easy…

Reese Harper:
Yeah. No, no, I’ve always felt like that answer is really an interesting one.

David Dodd:
Yeah. It’s just super simple. These are these four funds, and…

Reese Harper:
I think that’s why people like it, right? It’s like… They can wrap their head around it. It’s like, “Oh, that’s the answer? Okay well.” And then, the truth is, if you do nothing but that at least it’s progress, right, it’s not like it’s… That’s better than spend it all, which you could also do… Right?

David Dodd:
That’s true. Yeah, yeah, definitely.

Reese Harper:
I don’t mean to get on a side track on Dave Ramsey, but you struck a chord with me, ’cause like working with dentists most of my career, that was a big battle of like, I’m like, you have three times the student loan balance as your gross income, and you have 5x your gross income and a mortgage. It’s gonna take 14 years to pay that off, right? If you go at it whole hog and you’ll have no liquidity the entire time, and so I would meet people that really adopted that and it was hard to just like… It’s hard as a financial advisor, it’s hard to counter-balance someone with more authority, like Dave Ramsey, who’s clearly got more authority than you, and you really gonna be…

David Dodd:
Wow. That’s pretty attentive, Reese.

Reese Harper:
Well, I feel like that for me, I’m speaking for myself. Maybe not for you. Anyway, go ahead.

David Dodd:
: No. He’s definitely got more authority than me, that’s for sure. And he’s got a lot of good stuff to say and even what Derek Tharp put out a lot of stuff, the kids, his team and his research, and so… No, I’m not trying to beat up on Dave Ramsey, but…

Reese Harper:
In the guard shack, you started getting into personal finance, was that kind of the first stage, is like, “Hey, I got nothing to read, I might as well read ’cause I’m not ever gonna get ahead of the game, unless I start learning about money?” I mean… What was the motivation there?

David Dodd:
Yeah, well, kinda but kinda not. To be totally honest. So I’m a Christian by faith is kinda… That’s number one for me. Faith and family, and then I was praying James 1:5, looking for wisdom, ’cause I was definitely at a crossroads in my life where I didn’t know what I wanted to do it, it seemed like all my friends had kinda moved on and I had no idea what I wanna do and I was in the proverbial, the job that they have in movies that people have, that you’re looking down on in the guard shack, so I just felt like a total failure, and so I was praying and asking for wisdom, and I really wanted to be a reader, I didn’t read before that, I didn’t like reading, had no interest. And I started reading one of Dave Ramsey’s books, I can’t remember which one it was off the top of my head, it was probably Total Money Make Over or something, and that just… I fell in love with reading and so like non-fiction business books, that kind of stuff. And I just absolutely fell in love with it. And it changed my life. I started reading definitely a book a month, which I know there’s people reading a lot more than that, but for me, that was crazy ’cause I didn’t read it all before and… Yeah, it just snowballed from there. I just started really loving knowledge and trying to learn…

Reese Harper:
It seems like there’s some correlation with people early in their life, if they know they’re kind of stuck, unless they start learning and growing and researching and reading, because they come from a place that where there isn’t a ton of opportunity. I grew up in a spot where there’s not… Few thousand people, but it made me real curious real quick, because I started wondering, am I gonna be… What job am I gonna have for the next 30 years? What do I wanna do for the next 40 years? And I think there’s a small town versus large metro area, doesn’t necessarily mean that in a large metro spot, you’re not gonna be curious, but I do find there’s a lot of people that I bumped into as financial advisors, they either came from outside the industry, and they had to be really curious to get in, or they came from a place where they were kind of at a crossroads in their career, and they had to be curious to sort of figure out how they were going to navigate into a new profession. Tell me about how you went from Edward Jones to maybe your new… The next stage after that, or what happened to Edward Jones that made you start to turn the wheels?

David Dodd:
Yeah, so I worked in that part-time assistant position for… I worked about 30 to 35 hours for about a year, and it was a really, really great experience ’cause I got to work under a senior, what they call a BOA branch office administrator who had been doing that for like 20 plus years. So yeah, I had somebody right beside me who was just super gracious and kind and was teaching me along the way, so that was really cool, but I wanted to be an advisor, they knew that when I took the position, I actually was doing school online, so I decided to go back to school as soon as I got that job. And so over the course of a year, I did a little over two years worth of schooling and curriculum online while working 30 to 35 hours for him, so I was kind of learning the business and then getting the required bachelor’s degree so that I could go ahead and level up and move into that advisor role… Well, that’s exactly what I did. It all went perfectly according to plan, and in about a year, I applied and moved into the advisor role, so they had kind of a training program, it’s called the, I think it was FACD, Financial Advisor Career Development.

David Dodd:
And so they had like an in-market and then they had one like their home office, and so I did the in-market, I got… I had to move offices and work for another… In another guy’s office. But basically for a year, you’re just kinda going through some additional training and kind of an advisor, but pretty much not because you’re studying, and part of that time you’re just doing what they’re teaching you, not actually working with clients directly. So I did that for a year, and then I was actually in the position as an advisor at Edward Jones for about a year, and it was just… You know what really was difficult for me is I felt like I got catfished, I guess, you know really by the industry as a whole, because I came in thinking it was this one thing, and then you start listening to things because as soon as I moved into that advisor role, I was listening to, that Michael Kitsis, I was reading all sorts of stuff from him, following the XYPN group, so I was getting a lot of good influence from good places who had a lot of good things to say, but what it did was it slowly revealed to me that I was in the absolute wrong place for me, just overall, from the way things were set up, compensation model, all the way down to how business was conducted, it was very much go out and knock on doors and just be relentless.

David Dodd:
And it’s a game of numbers, and I really didn’t like building my business with no intentionality, but just a game of numbers, whoever you can get, just knock on doors and build yourself a business. It just didn’t appeal to me, I guess.

Reese Harper:
I guess it surprises me that that model is still the predominant model just three years ago or two years ago, or Edward Jones, and the Merrill Lynch is barely shifting to try to get to a new model right now. Just having been in a situation similar to yours. I just, it’s surprising to me how slow the industry still moves, I mean, this pain that you’re describing is what I was feeling in ’03, ’02, ’03, ’04, and it’s still there in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021. And it’s gotta be close to dying, but man, I thought… This feels like an old story now, but I was just surprised that… That’s Edward Jones experience in the last couple of years.

David Dodd:
To be totally frank, I’m not sure that I was so great at it either, it wasn’t exactly my passion in life to knock on doors in a suit in 90 degree weather.

Reese Harper:
Well, it’s hard, yeah, yeah.

David Dodd:
You just feel like… I just felt to be honest just stupid… I was out there, I felt like I had to be in a suit and I had to go knock on all these doors, and they can see that I was sweating and felt dumb every time I knocked on their door, I think they felt bad that’s why most of them talked to me and you’d get accounts. So I was pretty surprised the first time I got a $750,000 account really easily from a random door knock and it works, if you’re willing to work the plan, but it truly is a game of numbers, and that’s just not how I wanted to build my business…

Reese Harper:
When did you decide you were gonna go start your own thing, was it like listening to Michael and kind of seeing that the XYPN was out there and that you could actually… You could probably make a go of it, other people were doing it, you could probably do it too. Was that kind of a belief that started through exposure to that network?

David Dodd:
Yeah, definitely they seeded that thought, and I definitely would have ended up going out based just on that, at some point, but the thing that really pushed me over the edge was… So I do the values-based faith-based investing, and so when I first learned about that, about biblically responsible investing, which is my personal flavor of that, that I find appealing and it resonates with me and my values. Whenever I found out about that, I just quite honestly was dead in the water, I just… I didn’t feel like I could do my job. I didn’t really wanna sell products to people, especially I didn’t want sell commission-able products in general, and make a commission off of the stock trade, which I had to in order to meet all of their requirements and keep doing well, but you know, I didn’t wanna do that to begin with, but then you add it on the fact that I just had a moral conflict with some of the things I was selling to people, I just didn’t… It didn’t jive with me, so that was what really pushed me over the edge is when I learned about that, we were on the way to one of our doctors appointments, actually, for my daughter, who’s almost three now, and she…

David Dodd:
I don’t remember what we were going for, it might have been like a check-up or something, and I had to stay in the car because of COVID, and so I wasn’t able to go in, and so I was reading a book about biblically responsible investing. And I watched a video on the way there, and on the way there, I just remember, I was straight up following in the passenger seat because I was trying to… I was trying to get some work done. I ended up watching a video, I’m sure nobody else listening to this has ever done that, or where you’re supposed to be working and you’re watching a YouTube video, but I was watching this video about that and I was just crying in the passenger seat and my wife is probably like, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you crying?” And we end up talking about it and yeah, I just realized, “Man, there’s actually a moral level to this, I had never considered it, it never even crossed my mind,” but I was like, “I can actually find more continuity in my life by aligning this area too, like I’ve just totally not even considered this aspect, and if I move this into alignment, it’s going to make me… Personally, feel like more of a whole person. Like I can bring my whole self to work. And in the way that I do my work.”

Reese Harper:
Yeah, who’s the… What was the, or what was the origin content for you to get exposed to this biblically responsible kind of aligned investing… What was your first exposure? What was that piece of content?

David Dodd:
So it was a video that Robert Netzley of Inspired Advisors, or Inspired Investing actually, so he’s the kind of founded that company and they have ETFs and then they created an RIA as well to house advisors who wanted to do value-based investing and so… Yeah, I was watching his video of him speaking at a summit, and he was kinda just talking about his experience, he was… Well, I won’t go into it, it’s probably too much for the podcast, but it’s out there, you can go watch it, what he said, and if you hold conservative Christian values, it’s probably gonna resonate with you and it really hit me like a ton of bricks.

Reese Harper:
Yeah, it’s interesting, Rene, I think there’s a little bit of hesitation around, there’s always a fine line between bringing a religious conversation into kind of a secular topic like money, but then for a lot of us, you know, money, even if it doesn’t maybe have as deeply like a religious context it’s still… For many people like me, it has a deep spiritual context, which I would say is slightly different than what a religious context might have for someone else, but this idea of kind of awakening at some point to the fact that money does have an effect on the way you think about putting your resources to work in the world, and the way you’re channeling your resources in the world through giving, through personal consumption, through finding a certain level of sufficiency and supporting others versus just consuming, it’s really… We’re on the front end of a really big trend, I feel like, around for this next generation, particularly, people in the accumulation generation right now, I’d say even x, y and z, customers are really thinking about their money in a way that’s not just about accumulation to the maximum, they’re thinking about it in a way that is aligning their overall wellness, and whether they are aligning with a strict, we’ll say, biblically responsible point of view, or if they’re thinking about it from a more…

Reese Harper:
I’ll say like a Lin twist, like the soul of money, more of a secular but spiritual kind of view of money, I think there’s this wave coming of like, hey, you have to acknowledge that this is more than just resource accumulation, this is… It’s bigger than that, so I’m curious how you would respond to that.

David Dodd:
Yeah, no, that’s definitely all really good. And I wanna be really sensitive too, ’cause when you start talking about your views, I think people sometimes suppose you want to shove your views down their throat and that you think everybody should be doing that. I definitely don’t think that… I think it’d be actually quite weird if you invested like me and didn’t have the same values as me to do it, adhere to any sort of religious-based investing would be strange if you didn’t hold those values dearly. I think that’s the key, is just… I think it’s wild that we don’t bring our values into money more, and I just personally hadn’t considered it a whole lot, but once that door got opened, I was just like, man… I mean, the Bible has a lot to say about it. So for me, specifically in my context.

David Dodd:
I found out about the Certified Kingdom Advisor or the CKA designation. I went and got that. Well, I don’t technically have it because you have to have 10 years or another designation, but I did all the curriculum and I’ve done everything, passed the test, I just can’t hold the designation yet.

Reese Harper:
You gotta pay your dues. You’re too young. You’re like 17.

David Dodd:
Yeah, yeah, I’m almost 18. [laughter] But I think it’s just… It’s interesting that this fuel for our life, the whole financial planning conversation is definitely moving in that direction. Overall, you can see it everywhere in all the major podcasts that you listen to is talking about values and bringing people back to what’s most important to them, you’ve got Kinder’s three questions, you’ve got all these resources and things that people are talking about values, but then they totally ignore it when it comes to the actual implementation of how you invest the money and use the money, and so the way I would respond to that is to just consider, take it to a smaller scale, so the difference to me in why it even matters because I think people look at it and they’re like, “Oh, you’re trading stocks on an exchange.” Like it doesn’t matter. Right? I’m not… If I buy a used Ford, I’m not giving Ford my money, that’s kind of the common argument, it’s like, “Well, yeah, but you’re also not entitled to any profits from the company and you’re not invested in their success overall”, and when you are with ownership, even as a minute owner, you are still wanting them to succeed and you get profits and you get capital appreciation because of the success they have across the board, not just from one specific area.

David Dodd:
And so, if Reese Harper, for example, if you were starting a company and you were looking for me to invest $5, but you were gonna make 1% of revenue from distributing pornography, that just… I’m not giving you $5. It just doesn’t interest me. I don’t want to support that, but we’ve divorced ownership from our investing, we forget that because there’s so many layers and we’ve got so much diversification, and we think of it more in funds and ETFs, and we forget that we still are a minority shareholders, we are owners of these companies, and I don’t wanna be invested and own things that I don’t want to succeed.

Reese Harper:
The comment I was making earlier, I think about spiritual conversations, which I’m just for the sake of this podcast, I define spirituality is like the biggest possible tent of conversation and religion being like your flavor of that spiritual conversation. And when I look at this concept that you defined, some people might not feel quite as passionately about their ownership stake in a firm, and they can divorce the values that they have from the values of the company. They might be able to do that. I’m not saying that that’s optimal, I actually think it’s really healthy to start the conversation around, where are we putting our capital and what are the values of these organizations that are taking our resources and trying to grow and grow capital? That’s a point of view I have. I know a lot of people are maybe more pure capitalists than me, but to break it down outside of investing, I still think that there’s a dimension of how you can implement that in your conversations with clients or be aware of that, at least around just consumption in general, I mean, what kind of products are we purchasing day-to-day, what kind of retailers are we supporting, what kind of food are we buying, what kind of materials and hard goods and construction materials and vehicles, and…

Reese Harper:
There is, in my own life, all I can say is I’ve experienced a much different wholeness and awareness around… As a financial advisor, I’ve spent, I don’t know how many… It’s been almost 20 years just watching people make money in a variety of ways, getting wealthy, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. But I’m just, I’m always looking at money constantly every day, just like you are, and you get to the point, if you’re not careful where… The conversations are always around more, always around more, I need more, I gotta have more of it, I gotta have it faster, I’ve gotta get there quicker, and for me, that was kind of one of the genesis of elements was I just kind of got tired of the financial conversation being so focused on this terminal, more amount, this amount of money that eventually, if I got to I would then be okay.

Reese Harper:
Because ultimately, the only time I found really a lot of peace of mind was when I started realizing it was less about this terminal amount that I was trying to go after, and it was more about how I felt my entire life along the way with doing the best I had with the resources I had been given, and whether I had a ton or whether I had average or whether I had a little, there was this concept of sufficiency or adequate amounts of resources, just enough is different than more, and for me, I didn’t really find lot of peace of mind as a financial advisor until I realized it wasn’t about more, it was about finding what sufficiency was for me, and what sufficiency was for my client, and then realizing that I had a responsibility to be a wise steward over the resources that I had and the consumption that I was doing, and it wasn’t just how I was investing my capital, but it was the way I was consuming the types of products and the types of materials that I was bringing into my life.

Reese Harper:
And it has a big effect, like on me personally, it has a big effect. I can’t speak for everybody, but I can’t just divorce money from where I’m putting it anymore, whether it’s what I’m using it to purchase or consume, or where I’m choosing to invest it, I’m not probably… I would say, to use the word Orthodox, I’m probably not quite as Orthodox as you might be in your investing, but I’m on the front end of trying to figure out what I… How orthodox don’t wanna be. How much socially responsible investing do I feel… Essentially drawn to versus biblically responsible investing, and I just think that dimension of at least being conscious, bringing some awareness of that conversation, man, it’s so healthy. I so appreciate that.

David Dodd:
If we’re living in kind of a cognitive dissonance, I think if there’s a dissonance between what we say we believe and what we do, that makes us generally unhappy, and I think that regardless of what you believe, you don’t have to agree with my views, whatever your views are, if you are acting out of the line with that, and then I think you’re gonna find yourself not content, and so to me, it’s important for everybody whatever your values are, I think we need to go back to the drawing board. We should be defining what’s important to us, what matters, what our values are first, like we all know we should be doing before he put together somebody’s financial plan, we’d be doing that, and that is the lens for life, that’s not the lens for some domains of life. Those would be the lens through which you view all life and how you interact with life, and that would include money, it’s just another piece.

David Dodd:
So, I don’t think it’s a big deal and if I end up with less money at the end of the day because of the way I invest, I’m totally content with that. I doubt that I will. I don’t think that I will, but it’s certainly possible, and I’m willing to do that because I get to live each day feeling like a whole person in the sense that I am taking every opportunity to live out of what I say I believe, and that’s really important to me, and I think it’s really important to most people, but ignorance is bliss as well. If you can divorce it or if you don’t know about it. That’s a totally different thing, right?

Reese Harper:
Well, Isn’t it… Like, at some point though, don’t we need to start like… That’s why I’m taking the risk to have conversations like this, it’s like I look at… I live in the mountains here in Salt Lake, and I spend a lot of time in the canyons, and I’m very… I’m very connected to the outdoors, and I feel sad when I see people throwing trash on the ground or not picking something up and putting it away, I feel sad when I see people carving up terrain that they shouldn’t be and kind of just not taking care of this limited set of resources that we have, I feel bad about the way that we destroy some of our natural resources and our water supplies, and I’m just really connected to that, and for me, it’s been something that caused me to use different materials in constructing my… Remodeling my house, and think about the type of vehicle that I’m driving, I’ve had a truck for a long time, and it’s weighing on me, as soon as I can… Every time I can kind of improve the carbon dioxide or carbon emissions output in my vehicle, I think about that and try to continue to improve it.

Reese Harper:
Even though I don’t have an electric truck right now, and I don’t know that electric trucks are necessarily the right call either, it takes a big carbon footprint to build a battery, but there’s a balance here of just divorcing yourself from all of these… There’s a way to maximize profit in a corporation, for sure, there’s a way to maximize profit, but the way to maximize profit isn’t the only lens by which we can look at our life and the way, you don’t become a financial advisor that’s a fee only advisor through the XYPN network, because you’re trying to maximize your income, you could have maximized our income by just getting your… Waking up early and going out and knock in some doors that Edward Jones and selling the right product, [laughter] the right product had a bigger commission on it, but you made a choice to make less money, to align your life with your values, that’s no different than a corporation making a decision to have a slightly different margin because they’re committed to responsible growth, and I’m just kind of really, I guess in my… Maybe it’s ’cause I’m turning 40 and I’m aging in a new way, but I’m really painfully aware right now of how we seem to just be content with more being…

Reese Harper:
Just more of everything being the standard by which we’re living, rather than trying to find what it means to be content and finding sufficiency while still improving and growing and being innovative and entrepreneurial, you can do all of that without having to be… Having profit and growth be your primary driver, you can have both, and I think it’s okay to not have the fastest growth or the highest profit, if you’re trying to align your life and feel good about it, ’cause people aren’t generally very happy with money, and we’ve been… On this purist growth at all costs path for almost 80 years now, and people are still no… The American Psychology Association still showing that we’re as stressed out as we’ve ever been about money, and so I think it’s time for a slightly different approach, just trying out how money feels when we’re a little bit more thoughtful about how we’re putting it to work in the world and how we’re consuming.

Abby Morton:
I know one of your biggest challenges is delivering a consistent financial planning experience to your clients on an ongoing basis, you get off to a good start onboarding a client, and then what, there just doesn’t seem to be a good process for nurturing the new relationship. The Elements financial planning system can help you easily organize and evaluate client financial data, then based on key indicators of their financial health, deliver timely insights to your clients. Using our system gives you the structure you need for ongoing planning. To learn more, schedule a time to talk to us today, by going to getelements.com/meet.

Reese Harper:
I was meeting with a client last week, and he’s 81 and he was referred to me by another client, and it was the first time I had met with him, and he had this money that he got from selling an asset, and he’d come into my office and he was just trying to figure out how we could maximize the money and grow it as much as possible, so his kids could get as much as possible when he passed away, that was kind of his primary objective, and I just said, do you have anything you really care about that you’d like to see be just a little bit different in the world by you taking a small amount of your money and kind of doing something with it that would change the way the world looks or the way your family thinks or the way your family sees you.

Reese Harper:
And man, he just got really emotional, and it was amazing to see like how within a one-hour conversation he had in his mind kind of started to ear-mark an amount that he was going to go home and think about doing something with that wasn’t just his family getting everything or him consuming everything, and I don’t wanna impose my values, but that’s like, I’m not imposing my values on him, I’m just acknowledging that if he wants to be happy and he’s trying to be content, like this dimension of social good, of giving, of awareness of what his resources are doing in the world and how his family is gonna see him use all this, what they’re gonna see him do with this money, it’s gonna change his sense of peace from someone who’s not maybe as deeply religious as you might be that’s listening, what just practical benefits do you see from this kind of approach to financial management?

David Dodd:
Yeah, that was a really good story. Thank you for sharing that. I think it’s cool when you can get to that place where you’re engaging with the person at the level of their values like that, because I don’t think a lot of people are asking those questions, it can be as simple as just whether you take an approach similar to mine with whatever your views are, or if you just include one question, you could just ask your clients, is there anything that you wouldn’t wanna invest in based on principle alone, that could be an example of a way you could just kinda infuse one little piece in there, and you might find out a lot, you might find out that both of their parents died due to lung cancer, and they were lifelong smokers, and maybe they don’t care about what the dividend is on whatever that company is, and so there’s lots of small ways to definitely engage with that. I mean, what you see, and I’ve said this a couple of times, I don’t mean to be redundant, but it’s just kind of that continuity between belief and behavior, I think you see a rest.

David Dodd:
I think it gives people a sense of rest really, just in general, and I think they’re more content because they feel like they’ve actually made an effort to put this area of their life in alignment with what they say is important to them. So at that level, I think that that’s kind of what’s happening, but from a practical, just how does it play out in my interactions with clients and what is that like, it’s… We have… It’s almost like an affinity niche, I guess, in a sense, or psychographic niche, however you would say that, it’s we have a particular lens through which we view things, and I don’t take on exclusively Christian clients who agree with me on everything FYI, just before people label me [chuckle] maybe as kind of a bigot or somebody who is discriminating.

David Dodd:
I definitely don’t do that, I will take anybody on and happily serve them, but here’s the lens through which I do things and how I do things, and if that doesn’t align that’s totally fine, but if it does, then it really does, because there are people out there who do agree with me and they find it incredibly important to have conversations around contentment, around enough, around how we steward our money, how we leave our money, all of these things have moral implications, at least in my realm, and the people who view things similarly to me, it just levels everything up quite a lot because they’re able to talk to somebody, not just about money, Carlos and mountain charts and how to get the most money and how to leave behind at least as much money as you started retirement with, but you get to have conversations with people around purpose and how that plays out in their life and how they can deploy capital just like your conversation.

Reese Harper:
The more I’ve brought in a values-based lens to the conversations I’ve had with clients, man, it’s… I just love the way it kind of counteracts what they were expecting. They were expecting a pure profit growth at all costs, resource maximization conversation. That’s what they’re expecting. “Hey, Reese, what’s the highest return I can get right now with this money? What kind of returns can I get? How much can we grow this? How fast is it gonna take to double the money? How big is it gonna get? How much more can we spend? Can we buy this house? Can we buy that cabin? Can we buy that car? Can we send… Can we do this vacation?” It’s like a very consumption-oriented conversation all the time, just more and more and more, and they’re expecting that out of you. But even from the most average customer that is young and thin on resources to the client that is approaching a billion dollars, I’ve worked with both of these customers and these conversations are just so valuable to them, that brings them, like you said, peace, contentment, centeredness, just…

Reese Harper:
If the stress people feel is most correlated to their money constantly, is the most… That’s the highest correlated to stress area of their life, more than relationships, more than their job, it’s money, and we don’t do anything to help them kind of understand that, more of it won’t solve the problem, more of it, it’s not gonna help, I mean…

David Dodd:
Yeah, ’cause that stress isn’t just for people who don’t have enough to meet their needs. That’s like… Most of those people have more than they need to live…

Reese Harper:
Or at least sufficiency, like we all… What’s the difference between financial independence and financial security? Right? Financial security might look like a three-month emergency fund or a six-month emergency fund, and now you’re secure. But if you…

David Dodd:
Well, and if you plug that hole with money though, that’s what… You gotta be careful that you’re not getting the security from the money. That’s what I’m afraid of. If you never have those conversations and you find a way to band-aid and plug it with money, you might never address what’s really going on in your heart.

Reese Harper:
I can… I serve people across all different spiritual spectrums, but if I didn’t bring any dimension of spirituality into my practice, I know I wouldn’t be having the impact I’m having. It’s very difficult for people to disassociate their money with their values. If they do, there’s gonna be some dissonance there, and at some point they’re gonna be caught in this rat race of more and more and more, and they’re gonna think that there’s this amount that some day they’ll get to where they’ll finally feel centered, and it just doesn’t happen, it just doesn’t happen until they find a way to align their financial circumstances, their plan, some amount of sufficiency and some amount of giving, some amount of responsible investing and charitable work or personal restraint. It’s all in that space, and we just don’t have a lot of people in our industry with training. And these are tricky conversations to have, man. They’re hard. They’re not easy.

David Dodd:
Well, you gotta decide, Reese, that you just don’t care if people don’t like you. [laughter] Because that’s what I’ve learned. That’s the only thing that works. I can try to make everybody happy and tip-toe and I, you know, walk on egg shells and not say the wrong thing, or I can just believe what I believe and you can disagree, and that’s okay. I’m not like… You believe whatever you want. I believe what I believe. Neither of us is a bigot, in my opinion. I don’t care. Believe what you want, but live it out. That’s the big thing for me, is whatever it is that you say you believe, the way that that manifests itself is in the way that you behave and the things you do. That’s not to say that you won’t still do things out of alignment, we’re not perfect, that’s not the point. And I don’t think it even necessarily makes you a hypocrite to say one thing and do the wrong thing, as long as you’re moving directionally towards doing more things in alignment with what you say you believe. Because you need to change something, either the way you behave or maybe the things you would say you believe you don’t believe, and that’s for you to figure out and go deep.

David Dodd:
But yeah, in order to have these conversations with people, obviously people who believe similarly to me gravitate towards me, like I said, I wouldn’t turn anybody away, and I’ve had prospect conversations with people from all walks of life, and I am as gracious and kind to them as anybody who agrees with me because I’m happy to help anybody. But I’m not gonna divorce how I believe from my life and from my work life in order to accommodate what I think for myself would end up with a business where I can’t go as deep with people as I would like. And I think a lot of the value is when you can go that extra mile and have those conversations and really understand what somebody values in that way. I think there’s a lot of value there. And it is hard to do it if you are trying to walk on egg shells and not offend anybody.

Reese Harper:
Yeah.

David Dodd:
I’m also the city council, Reese, so I’m…

Reese Harper:
Oh you are? I didn’t know that. That’s interesting.

David Dodd:
I talk politics and religion and money. I’m literally the worst walking taboo in the world and…

Reese Harper:
No sex though. [laughter]

David Dodd:
Well I’m working on integrating that in there, Reese. I wanna do some sexual webinars here soon.

Reese Harper:
Sexual health, that’s good. They hit all the topics.

David Dodd:
Yeah, that’s a good point.

Reese Harper:
The thing that I wanted to… The thing I wanted to highlight here was there’s a… You may be familiar with this, but there’s… In Christianity, there’s a dimension of progressive Christianity or contemplative Christianity. One of the authors I like is a Franciscan, his name’s Richard Rohr, and he talks a lot about dualistic thinking, about, that some people are right, some people are wrong, there’s a black and a white way. And for those of us who have come from maybe a spiritual tradition that was kind of binary or black and white, it could be hard to sort of live in a space where you kind of see the world, or the financial world in kind of a more both and kind of way, a non-dual way. And what I mean by that is I think there’s a way to incorporate these values, ’cause the value that I’m talking about is, and that I think you’re talking about is aligning your money with your deeply held beliefs or deeply held…

David Dodd:
Whatever those are, I wanna be clear.

Reese Harper:
Values, right?

David Dodd:
Yeah, not my deeply held beliefs, whatever yours are.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. And yet it can be hard for those of us who are in the financial advisory community, we’re in this space, we’re trying to have this conversation with clients, to not project our values on to the client, to not make our values their values. It’s easier to work with people who just share your values, and then you can kind of impose your values. [chuckle] Not impose, but you can at least be the most transparent about your values, and it’s not a difficult conversation. But I think the opportunity for us as an industry is, can we learn how to have conversations about the value of alignment, aligning your money with your beliefs and with your values, can we agree on that being the big picture, and then get better at saying, “Hey, congratulations to you and doing it the way that it’s working for you and… Hey, congratulations and doing it the way, David, for you that it’s working, and Reese, nice job for doing it the way that it’s working for you.” ‘Cause that’s the step forward. It doesn’t have to be a, everyone is doing biblically responsible ETF and fund selection as the way to express their alignment, but that is one way that we can all learn from. We can learn from what you’re doing, David, we can learn from what your community is doing, and how we apply that in our own life around alignment with our values. And I think that Kingdom Advisors and Inspire, I feel like is doing a great job at incorporating that into your financial planning practices.

Reese Harper:
And to me, that’s an inspiration and something that I can learn from, and I just thought it was a worthwhile conversation to have. So I’ll let you have the last word, man, before we let people go today.

David Dodd:
Yeah, man, thank you. It’s been a fun conversation. Thanks for having it. I’m definitely… Any time you talk about faith, I know it can turn a lot of people off, and so I just always wanna reiterate, I’m not trying to push mine down your throat, I hope you won’t do the same to me, but I just want people to embrace what it is that they do believe, and I think that you’re gonna be whole lot happier if you find that continuity between your beliefs and your behaviors. And so now that’s what I’m trying to do over here. You do it how you want, and that’s perfectly fine, we’re all doing different things, and no one way is right or wrong, but this one’s working for me and… Yeah, so I think a final word would just be dig in yourself and figure out what your values are, what really matters to you. I like to think of people when they have near-death experiences, that’s something I’ve been looking into recently and I find really interesting, and when I think of some of the most, to use a word you used, centered people in my life that I can think of, the most present, joyful people in my life, a couple of them have almost died and they’ve come really close to death. And I think there’s some clarity that comes with understanding that most of the stuff we worry about, and especially money, all these things that drive so much of our lives, they don’t even cross our minds when we’re on our death bed, and that’s well established stuff.

David Dodd:
I think Carl Richards talked about that as well. That’s not… People aren’t worried about this stuff. It’s not what they say on their death bed. So we need to dig deep and try to tap into whatever that is that these people who’ve almost died have realized. How can we tap into that ourselves so that we can live a more present, more aligned life so that we can get to the end of life and actually look back and feel like we invested our time and our money and all of our resources into things that are actually meaningful instead of just trying to accumulate more like you mentioned. So that would be my final word.

Reese Harper:
Yeah. Man, I really appreciate it, David. This will be a… It’s a good conversation. I’m excited to chat with you about a few other topics down the road, but we’ll have to save those for another day. Thanks so much for taking your time to join us. I’m looking forward to catching up with you soon. And best of luck in helping your clients and being an inspiration to the industry. Thanks.

David Dodd:
Yeah, thanks for having me, man.

Abby Morton:
Next time on Elementality…

Reese Harper:
Our clients are constantly asking, “How are we doing? Am I doing okay? Am I doing the right things? Am I going to make it?” Whatever phase of life they’re at, that’s the question at the root of pretty much everything that they’re coming back to, “Are we doing okay?” And we can’t keep trotting out this overly precise version of the future to answer that question and satisfy that peace of mind and expect that to gain buy-in, understanding and agreement from the client.

Abby Morton:
You can learn more about the Elements of Financial Planning System at getelements.com/meet and schedule a time to speak with one of our friendly financial planning experts. Elementality’s executive creators are Reese Harper and that Matt Glazer. Elementality is produced by Abby Morton and directed by Jordan Haines. Have a good one.

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