Women's Retirement Radio

Perry Chesney - Financial Advisor and Financial Services Consultant - Episode 50

January 24, 2022 Russ Thornton Season 3 Episode 4
Women's Retirement Radio
Perry Chesney - Financial Advisor and Financial Services Consultant - Episode 50
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Women's Retirement Radio, I'm joined by Perry Chesney.

Perry is a Wealth Management Consultant at HC Advisors in Atlanta. He's also a consultant with Red Rock Strategic Partners.

Perry serves a small, select group of high net worth clients in his Wealth Management Consultant role. And through Red Rock Strategic Partners, Perry consults with financial advisors and financial advice firms to help them deliver more client-focused advice and better outcomes for their clients.

I've know Perry for many, many years and I'm happy we could share this conversation with you.

For more on Perry, please check out these resources:

Get in touch and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

And thank you for listening.

Visit my website to learn more.

Disclosures

Russ Thornton:
Hey everyone, it's Russ. Welcome to another episode of Women's Retirement Radio. Today, I'm excited to invite a friend on, a friend of many years, as well as a colleague, Perry Chesney. Perry, welcome.

Perry Chesney:
Thanks Russ, thanks for having me.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, glad you could join us. You and I have known each other for, I don't know how many years it's been now, but quite a few, and we have actually done a pretty good job of keeping in touch and always enjoy our conversation, so I was thinking it might be interesting to kind of share our conversation or one of our conversations with some folks out there that might be interested in listening in or kind of just getting a peek into how we think about things and how we see the world. So, to get started, why don't you just introduce yourself, tell people a little bit about who you are and what it is you do?

Perry Chesney:
Yeah, my name is Perry Chesney, I have really two things that I do, I have my own wealth management business, much like yours, and then I have a consulting business where I work with other financial advisors, helping them work on their technical skills, their communication skills, their storytelling, whatever it is that needs to be done, it's a little bit like therapy for financial advisors based on what they need and their self-disclosed shortcomings, which is hard to get to sometimes in the financial advisor community because they all think they're great. So, two main business.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, I think it's interesting that you kind of have your foot in the world of working with clients, consumers, families, individuals, but also have a direct line of sight into other advisors and how they work with their clients for better or worse. So, I think you bring a really interesting perspective probably to both of the groups that you serve. What's something that comes to mind and maybe it's recent, or maybe it kind of dates back a little while, but what's something interesting that comes to mind that you see as a challenge for advisors?

Perry Chesney:
Yeah, so let me preface it by just kind of a full disclosure. You and I have known each other for now, I think 25, 30 years-

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, I'd say at least 25.

Perry Chesney:
Yeah, I've been in Atlanta for 19 and I think we knew each other a little bit before that. And we grew up in the same world and we have many of the same mentors and anti-mentors.

Russ Thornton:
Right.

Perry Chesney:
And I think that it's really important for people to have both. There's people we want to emulate and there's people we do as a cautionary tale of, "Don't be like that." And we have some of the same people in both of those roles because we kind of existed in the same world for a really long time.

Russ Thornton:
Yep.

Perry Chesney:
And think about Dave [inaudible 00:02:58] who was the most impactful person in my career, same with you I believe, and there's some people we knew at our previous firm who we just don't want to ever be that person, be like them.

Russ Thornton:
Correct.

Perry Chesney:
But the challenge I think of the industry is we measure things incorrectly, and as a result, when you measure things incorrectly, then the behavior you get is what you would expect. And what I mean by that is the wealth management business measures success by how many assets you have under management, how many clients you have, and quite frankly, how much money you make in all the Barons and Forbes and all the things, and I've made those lists, and I was really proud when I made them, but they have all these people who do a lot of business, but I believe the industry needs to be focused on client outcomes, not producer outcomes. And if we could focus on client outcomes, it would be a completely different list, but it's hard to do, and especially in organizations that are publicly traded, their revenue matters, it's hard for them to get their heads around that.

Russ Thornton:
Well, just as a quick aside, maybe one of my most hated terms in our industry is producer.

Perry Chesney:
Yeah.

Russ Thornton:
I think that just has all kinds of negative connotations around it in and of itself, and I think that's kind of indicative of some of the problems you were just kind of highlighting, some of the misaligned incentives that exist and continue to perpetuate kind of across the industry in certain channels, so I appreciate you sharing that. To kind of flip it over to the consumer side of things, so from your experience, both working with advisors and having your own clients, many of whom I know you've worked with for years and years and years.

Perry Chesney:
A long time, yeah.

Russ Thornton:
What are some of the challenges you see with, and this is a big question, what are some of the challenges you see most often when it comes to your clients? So, actual humans and their relationship with and decision making abilities, good and bad, when it comes to money?

Perry Chesney:
Big question, you're right, there's a lot. I'll give you a couple things, and I was thinking about this one last night and I knew we were going to talk is that I was thinking about recently, because I've been doing this so long, I now have a bunch of widowed or widower clients who are now having to navigate their financial lives by themselves or with me. And in many cases, particularly the women, they have delegated, just not been interested in it until all of a sudden they're the only ones available to make the decisions.

Russ Thornton:
Right.

Perry Chesney:
And they haven't had any practice, so it's a skillset, it's a discipline, it's a mindset that takes a while to develop, as you know, and you have to have a few nicks and a few scars and have learned some lessons that you and I have, some really good scars that taught us a lot.

Perry Chesney:
And so, I think that's the first thing, is the preparedness thing is this whole financial literacy, this financial wellness, I believe we are in the financial wellness business, we're not in the financial planning business, we're in the financial wellness business, this whole idea that, and I can't remember who coined this, but it's so good, "Personal finance is way more personal than it is finance."

Russ Thornton:
Yep, I've used that line many times. It's not mine, but I've used it.

Perry Chesney:
Yeah, I've stolen in it for somebody. But yeah, so this preparedness thing is people aren't ready, particularly if they've delegated.

Russ Thornton:
Yep.

Perry Chesney:
And then I just finished firing off an email before we got on the call to a consulting client, and he was talking about he's got a new client and they're a moderate risk tolerance client, and I don't know what that means.

Russ Thornton:
I was going to ask you to define that for us.

Perry Chesney:
I'm fairly certain he doesn't know what it means either. And I was say telling him, as you and I have taught this many times, is that it doesn't matter what he is able to tolerate, it matters what he needs to accomplish and then back into it, and then what are the implications if you're wrong, but this idea of finding the greatest pressure point and applying it, it's just... So, I told him, "Throw away your risk tolerance questionnaires, and just talk to the people about their unique, specific goals." And so, I think those are two really important things. It's not a competitive sport, it's about you as an individual, and yes, we can create some scale by using the same things over and over in different combinations, but it's about people's unique goals.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, and [inaudible 00:09:01] back to the first point you made about preparedness and especially for women that have delegated or in some instances abdicated their finances to their husband or financial advisor or whatever the case may be, this new responsibility is thrust upon them at arguably the worst possible time, because they're dealing with emotions and grief, the world's been turned upside down, and now they now on top of that, they've got to navigate this new world that, in my experience, they're very capable of doing, they're just not familiar with, and that unfamiliarity breeds lack of confidence.

Perry Chesney:
Lack of confidence.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, and fear of making a decision because they're afraid they're going to make the wrong one, and it's just fraught with a lot of landmines if they're not careful. So yeah, I've seen that firsthand, I'm glad you mentioned that one specifically. So, we've talked about challenges. What do you think with the clients that you deal with kind of the other side of the coin, what are the biggest opportunities? I mean, we've seen and lived through some of the bad stuff, whether it's markets or people making decisions that frankly aren't in their best interest, but what are some of the opportunities from where you sit based on your experience on how clients can be better stewards of their financial resources and have more of a financial wellness focus?

Perry Chesney:
So, one of the things I'm really having fun with, and you have actually helped me with this as well as my wife, who's in the financial wellness business, is this whole idea of helping people integrate their values and their money. And I know you're a huge proponent of this, but those conversations, getting people to integrate their lives in a way that how they use their money, how they spend it, how they save it, how they invest it, how they give it away with their personal values is a process that requires some conversations. And they're not always easy conversations, particularly if they are a couple because they might not agree, or they might have different viewpoints. And so, I think that being curious, being intellectually curious, being open to new ideas and being willing to think about things they haven't thought about before are going to be the most important things that they need to do.

Russ Thornton:
Can you maybe give us a little bit more of a practical example about how you would start that dialogue or how you're able to help facilitate people maybe uncovering or getting better clarity around their values, and then ultimately how that ties to their money?

Perry Chesney:
Yeah, and so I think one of the things that we learned from [inaudible 00:12:24] was this idea of having a dream session, about talking about what are the things that are important to us, not being practical, but saying, "In a perfect world, here's what it would look like." One of the things I'll always remember about what he taught us was when he said, "We talk to people about when they want to retire and we're looking at a calendar and they might be looking at their watch."

Russ Thornton:
Yeah.

Perry Chesney:
"We're using their wrong measurement." And so, we superimpose our stuff, the psychological thing called projection on other people, we assume people or think and see the world just like we do, and that's so far from the truth, it's not the way it works. And so, learning how to extract that from people through a conversation about, "Hey, what's important to you? What do you want accomplish? What are your dreams and aspirations?" And then being quiet and letting them kind of sort through it is the way to get started.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, and I don't know about you, but the being quiet part is often a challenge, because I want to jump in with solutions or, "Hey, have you thought about this?" Or that kind of thing, but I think giving people the quiet space to kind of think out loud is super powerful. And in some instances, you probably experienced this too, you can almost see the light bulb go off over their heads sometimes when they connect something that maybe has kind of been under the surface for a while. It can be a really cool conversation if you make the space for it. So, I think that's awesome, thanks for sharing. Since this is Women's Retirement Radio, I'd love to just hear, broadly speaking, when you think of the word retirement, Perry, what comes to mind for you?

Perry Chesney:
Well, for me personally, it has nothing to do with what it was in the '60s or the '70s, right? This idea of you work for 30 years and you get a pension and you quit, and you never think about it again. Because I have two separate businesses and because I'm able to decide and when I want to work with, retirement for me is just managing my calendar so that I get to do the things that are meaningful to me and to continue to help people, because I mean, the interaction I have with other financial advisors is extraordinary, it keeps me sharp, it makes me think about new things, and I have to think about what their perspectives are. So, retirement, for me is simply managing my calendar a little differently. But as long as my brain still works and my ears and my tongue operate, I want to keep being involved in things.

Perry Chesney:
I think, as humans, we want to be vital, we want to be vital in other people's lives and in the industry and things like that. So, that's what I think about. And I think most of my clients have done the same thing, they've tried to find outside interests, and the ones who are the most unhappy or uncomfortable are the ones who have not been able to find those outside interests, things they really care passionately about, because as you get older, you can't play golf every day, your body won't hold up to it, you can't do as many of the physical activities, you can't travel internationally as much because it's just hard on your body, on your feet and your knees and your back. And you can't travel all the time, so there has to be this finding of meaning that I believe, and we've talked about this too, it starts way before you actually throw them the keys and say, "I'm not doing this particular job anymore, I'm going to pivot and do something else."

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, hearing you put it in those terms brings to mind for me this almost paradox might not be the perfect word, but this idea or this concept that's so ingrained in so many people, and you kind of referenced it, like I think the general consensus around retirement back in the '60s and '70s is you work really hard for 30 plus years, you retire, get a pension, and you hope to live another 10 or 15 years in relatively good health, and that's kind of the story of your life.

Russ Thornton:
Whereas, and kind of baked into that more today, I think as you work really hard and then once you retire, you can really enjoy your life. What I refer to as this kind of this whole deferred life plan. My question, and I know you challenged people in this too, is why not start enjoying your life now? Why wait until retirement? And hearing you put it in those terms, that's what I heard, you're managing your calendar so you can do the things that are important to you, that are fulfilling to you both in and outside of work with your family, with your friends. I know you told me you just went through a, how would you describe it? A speaking course?

Perry Chesney:
Yeah, a public speaking communications course.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, so I just think it's so cool that you make time in your calendar to do things like that bring you fulfillment beyond just a paycheck. And so, I think it's a worthy battle, but it's a tough battle getting people to kind of shift their mindset around what retirement is versus what it could be.

Perry Chesney:
Well, and again, this goes back to one of our mentors, but this idea that is your life today more or less valuable than your life 20 years from now? And there are so many people that are trying to pile up money for this future that they aren't sure of, and they're missing piano recitals and baseball games and things like that now because they're too busy at work. And I think, particularly in the last couple of years with pandemic, people are finding a new relationship with work to where they're going to be much more interested in managing their calendar now instead of creating this future that is uncertain, because we don't know, you could wake up tomorrow morning and not make lunch.

Russ Thornton:
Correct, or you don't wake up tomorrow morning.

Perry Chesney:
Correct, and then the legacy you leave behind is what? That you missed piano recitals and baseball games.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, I never thought of it before, I literally just wrote this down when you put it in those terms, but there's this idea of time value of money, but nobody thinks about the time value of their life.

Perry Chesney:
Yes.

Russ Thornton:
So, I think that's a cool idea, something that I want to think on and maybe revisit at some point.

Perry Chesney:
And continuing to try to get better. I'm 62 years old and I'm still trying to learn more, get better, read different things, I'm trying to be curious, I'm trying to be open to new things.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, I think you and I see a lot of things the same way, but I think that's just a great way to think about and live life.

Perry Chesney:
Yeah.

Russ Thornton:
So, we've kind of talked about some of the challenges as well as the opportunities for financial advisors, and maybe more relevant to the listeners of this show to clients and consumers, we've talked about your views on retirement. I wondered, could you share maybe a client, so one of your wealth management clients, could you share maybe a success story that comes to mind, someone that you've worked with and maybe help them through a tough time or help them shift their thinking around planning or investing, or as we were just talking about, maybe living more in the present as opposed to planning to really live it up once they quit their job or retire?

Perry Chesney:
We could be here for a while, but there's so many.

Russ Thornton:
Give me one or two? That'd be awesome.

Perry Chesney:
Yeah, I'll give you one or two. So, I have a client who lives in South Florida, and in 1999 sold his travel agency to American Express the year before the internet took off. To say that that was a stroke of luck beyond imagination, and it was a big number, and he wasn't my client then, and I got referred to him ten years later, so once he sold that business and had that big pile of money, he got caught up and wanted to be in the cool kids club, "I wanted to own the right hedge funds, I wanted own the right venture capital fund, I want to be involved with these private equity guys." He wanted to turn his really big number into really bigger number.

Russ Thornton:
Right, he got caught up in the competitiveness?

Perry Chesney:
[Inaudible 00:21:56].

Russ Thornton:
What you pointed out earlier, it's not a competition.

Perry Chesney:
Not a competition. And so, he turned his $30 million into $20 million over the next seven years from all his wanting to be in the cool kids club. And then he met me and every time I talk to him now he says, "I wish I'd met you sooner, I wish I'd met you sooner." He said, "You're so boring, but I wish I'd met you sooner." Just get him out of this mindset that of it's a competition being in the cool kids club, because those things just for the most part, don't work.

Perry Chesney:
Reading Morgan Housel's thing recently about fat tails, and there are some outliers that really do work, but for the most part, they don't work.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, more is not a goal.

Perry Chesney:
No, more is not better, better's better.

Russ Thornton:
Amen.

Perry Chesney:
Better's better.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah.

Perry Chesney:
And so, that would be one, and that kind of transcends a lot of people, they're just trying to get them to focus on themselves. The other thing I think for me, as far as fulfilling working with people, is because I only have a certain number of clients, I manage my calendar, I can spend the time on the things that are meaningful to my clients when they need them. And I've had three of my couple clients had the husband die in the last four or five years. And just because women have longer life expectancies, I've been doing this a long time, that's going to continue to happen, and it wasn't so much the financial advising as it was going to the house and sitting with them and helping them bring the cable box back to Comcast, or going through the files and getting rid of the old paper that is totally unnecessary, and getting signed onto their bank accounts online so they can see where everything was and [inaudible 00:24:00].

Perry Chesney:
So, you don't have to be very smart, but you have to have the time to do it. And in my previous life, I didn't have the time to be the kind of financial advisor that I have the time to be today.

Russ Thornton:
Right.

Perry Chesney:
And it's much more fulfilling than chasing the next shiny object.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, well, and I would add on, not only do you need to have the time, but you also need to have the willingness and the interest.

Perry Chesney:
[Inaudible 00:24:30], right.

Russ Thornton:
Because you and I both know advisors that if the husband passed away, all they're interested in is when did the life insurance proceeds hit your bank account? So, I think that's a great story about where you specifically have been able to add value above and beyond the dollars and cents. And that's probably super meaningful to those women that you've been able to help. I know it has been when I've been able to step in and help with some of those things as well. But I think it also exemplifies the opportunity, and I'm not being definitional here or dogmatic, but I think the opportunity for people out there listening to think more broadly about your relationship with your financial advisor or advice source, whatever that is. So, whether that's a broker at a big firm or a bank or an independent advisor like Perry or myself, you've only got one shot at life, don't settle for subpar advice or advice that's not really aligned with who you are and what's important to you, because there are a ton of great advisors out there, but you got to look for them.

Perry Chesney:
Right, and inertia is a powerful thing, right?

Russ Thornton:
Amen.

Perry Chesney:
People don't like to change, especially when they're under pressure and they're emotionally kind of wrecked.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah.

Perry Chesney:
And really, it's not a great idea to make these big changes when you're emotionally wrecked.

Russ Thornton:
Right.

Perry Chesney:
So, do it ahead of time.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah.

Perry Chesney:
If you don't want to have dinner with your financial advisor, I'm not suggesting you do that all the time, because they have their own friends and we have our own friends, but if you don't want to just be with that person and listen to what they had to say and have them be a comfort in your life, they're probably not the right person, and I believe the future of our business for women is extraordinary because of their ability to connect and relate.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, well, and that's a wonderful segue. We've talked about a lot of things, you shared kind of your thoughts about retirement personally, and you've actually indirectly kind of shared some thoughts around retirement as it relates to women who find themselves in a widowhood situation, what do you think is the biggest challenge that women specifically face when it comes to getting ready for or transitioning into retirement for themselves?

Perry Chesney:
They haven't had any practice and they haven't developed their confidence. The world of behavioral finance, which both of us really love and have done quite a bit of work on. We know for certain that one of the biggest issues men have in the financial planning advice space is they're overconfidence. They're overconfident in their ability to make good decisions, and then admitting they were wrong is completely untenable for them, right?

Russ Thornton:
Yeah.

Perry Chesney:
And so, that's their problem. Women in many cases, because they haven't developed their chops and had practice, they haven't built up their confidence, and so they lack confidence in their decision making when their instincts are really good, but they just don't always trust them. And so, they struggle with the decision making process.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah.

Perry Chesney:
I think that's the biggest.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, I couldn't agree more, and I think your earlier comments about taking the time to help clients generally, but women specifically, identifying and get some clarity around their values, who they are as a person, what makes them tick, what's important to them, what are their priorities? And then translating that into their money decisions, I've found, maybe you have too, that that's a really great way to help women get more confidence. And while at the same time, keeping things simple. I'd suspect you'd agree, but many advisors, and frankly, many end-consumers overly complicate their personal finances I think mostly just because they think they need to, or their friend's doing it or whatever. I think again, that's another way that kind of this idea of competitiveness or competition rears its ugly head. So, I think the idea of bringing in the values piece, having some really rich, meaningful, deep conversations, making the time and making the space for those to happen, combined with a simple, straightforward approach, something you referred to earlier as, for lack of a better term, boring.

Russ Thornton:
From my perspective, boring is beautiful in our business, it's when you try to get too exciting or you try to get your entertainment value from your money, that's-

Perry Chesney:
Yeah, go to Vegas.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, exactly.

Perry Chesney:
Go to Vegas.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah.

Perry Chesney:
The industry has done a tremendous disservice to the public by trying to sell the idea, the complexity is what should be valued. Da Vinci, I think said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication," and yet advisors for sure feel like if it's not complex clients don't want to pay their fee, and clients think complexity must be better because that's what all the big shots are doing.

Russ Thornton:
Right.

Perry Chesney:
And both cases are wrong, but it's one of... George Shaw once said, "Eventually every industry comes a conspiracy against the public." And that is where the financial services industry has done a disservice to the public by this idea that complexity is something they should strive for.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, it's unfortunate, but if our listeners out there take nothing else away from our conversation today, know there's great advisors like Perry out there that are doing the good work, and he's also trying to instill those better perspectives in other advisors that he works with too. So, as we kind of wrap things up today, Perry, if there were one thing, just one idea that our listeners could take away from our conversation today, what would you want that one idea to be?

Perry Chesney:
To figure out a way to know yourself, to know what's important to you and what you want to accomplish, and to be bold about it. In other words, don't limit it, "Here's what I want to do." "Okay, let me help you figure out how we're going to do it."

Russ Thornton:
Yeah.

Perry Chesney:
I think too many times we're constrained by what other people's expectations are, or what other people think, or what we think we can or can't do because we don't know. I had a client a couple years ago said, "I need to work for a few more or years because I had a few years out of the industry, and I got to play catch up." And I kind of ran the numbers and said, "Now, you know that your spouse gets social security spousal benefit that's half of your 865 benefit?" And he said, "No, I didn't know that." And so, we plugged that number in, and that one number just kind of pushed it over the top where I said, "You could quit today based on what you want to do, you could throw in the keys." And he was so conflicted by that because he thought he wanted to quit until I told him he could.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah.

Perry Chesney:
And then he had to deal with finding meaning in his life and what he was going to spend his time doing. And now he's got his dream job, he loves it, he's going to work a few more years, not because he needs the money, because it's what he loves to do, but his wife was now able to give money to the kids with their 529 accounts with their grandchildren, do some of the things she wants to do, so it's about opening up all these things through just good advice and knowing what's going on.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, we could spend another hour just talking about the psychology and how that factors in, and how we're often our own worst enemies, especially when it comes to our money decisions. But I think that's a great takeaway, I think that's a great example, so thanks for sharing that, and thanks for joining us today, this is always enjoyable.

Perry Chesney:
Yeah, I really enjoyed it.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, I always enjoy chatting with you. If someone out there is listening and wants to learn more about who you are and what you're doing, maybe wants to get in touch, what's the best way for them to track you down, Perry?

Perry Chesney:
It's easy to find me, just Google Perry Chesney, Atlanta, I guess plchesney@hc-adv.com, my work email address.

Russ Thornton:
Yeah, we'll include some links in the show notes to your LinkedIn profile, your email address, that sort of thing. If people want to reach out.

Perry Chesney:
I'm easy to find.

Russ Thornton:
Well, I'm glad you are, and I know your clients are glad they found you as well. So again, always love talking to you, today was no exception. So, thanks for joining us to day, Perry.

Perry Chesney:
Thank you.

Russ Thornton:
And thanks for listening, this has been another episode of Women's Retirement Radio, and I'm Russ, and we look forward to catching up with you on our next episode.