Podcast: Dr. Jordan Hutchison on the Future of Financial Planning, Financial Education, and Flow States

In this New Retirement Podcast episode, host Steve Chen and guest Dr. Jordan Hutchison, Vice President of Technology for RFG Advisory, delve into the evolving landscape of financial planning. They discuss the impact of technology on accessibility, the rise of flat fee planning models, and the importance of understanding client psychology. Jordan also highlights the challenges in educating the next generation of financial planners and shares insights on the role of financial advisors in fostering client relationships. The conversation concludes with a discussion on flow theory and its application in enhancing performance and well-being in both work and personal life.

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Jordan Hutchison

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Transcript of Episode 78 of the NewRetirement Podcast, a Conversation with Dr. Jordan Hutchison

Introduction (00:00):

This episode is brought to you by the NewRetirement Planner. Create a financial plan for free at NewRetirement.com

Steve Chen (00:19):

Welcome to the NewRetirement Podcast. Today we’re happy to welcome Dr. Jordan Hutchison, an industry expert and thought leader in the financial technology and financial planning profession. As the vice President of technology for RFG Advisory and an adjunct professor for Kaplan’s College for Financial Planning, Jordan is passionate about leveraging technology to enhance the financial planning process with a focus on innovation around FinTech and client and advisor user experience. So with that long preamble, Jordan, welcome to our show.

Jordan Hutchison (00:49):

Yeah, happy to be here.

Steve Chen (00:51):

Thanks for taking the time. I always like to get quick background on folks and how they got here and why they’re doing that work. So I’d love to get a few minutes on your journey into financial planning.

Jordan Hutchison (01:01):

So the way I got into financial planning was I truly fell into it. I had no idea what a financial advisor was growing up and I was playing college basketball and I rarely got any time home from Thanksgiving, Christmas, whatever, holiday because it was a dual semester sport. So on those vacations, usually I was stuck on campus practicing and I went home one Christmas and I got my four days at home and my father goes, so what are you going to do when you finish playing basketball? And this was my senior year and the glass broke in my mind like, oh my gosh, I am going to be graduating in May and I have no idea what I’m going to do. I slightly panicked. I studied and signed up for the next GRE and GMATs that I could get to. That would be the deadline for graduate school.

(01:51):

So I was basically like I got to buy myself some time. I looked at master’s programs all over the southeast where I was playing basketball and interviewed programs, sent my transcripts everywhere and actually one of the programs when I was just perusing all these different universities websites, I found financial planning and counseling and I was like, oh, that sounds pretty interesting. And I read about it, went on the visit, loved the professors there. The two women that ran that program at the University of Alabama were just amazing people and they welcomed me in and accepted me, which I was very grateful for. That’s kind of how I fell in, was just the academic path. And then I became their graduate assistant, started teaching there, and that’s really how I got my foot in the door in the whole financial planning world.

Steve Chen (02:36):

Nice. In your family, are folks interested in money and planning or is it kind of like, are you wired that way or are you just learned about it and got into it?

Jordan Hutchison (02:45):

Well, it’s so funny story there. Speaking of risk tolerance questionnaires and understanding how much risk you’re willing to take in the market. My father and I had him take some of these assessments being in the space now on the tech side of it, and obviously he’s 38 years older than me, we have the exact same risk tolerance. And so I think it’s pretty unique that I learned a lot of my behaviors around money from my father, but my mother was a counselor and so I think that that’s where the whole client side of it and the behavioral finance world bled into it. My father taught me different decision making around certain things with saving and all of that. He was more of an accounting kind of minded person. And then the human behavior piece I think came from my mother and it’s like, all right, well I’m going to put these together and create a job. So luckily it exists

Steve Chen (03:34):

Form up the super genes for thinking like an accountant and also the understanding behavior side like a counselor. That’s super awesome. I’ve looked at your career and you’ve done product, you’ve done partnerships, right? You’re doing technology. Are you following a particular arc in your career or is there a master plan for what you’re doing here?

Jordan Hutchison (03:55):

It’s interesting. I’ve always been just passionate about different areas of the financial planning world. I think for me it’s always been, I’ve worked in an area, I’ve been very lucky and grateful to get to work with some great people in our space. I’ve got to work with some of the godfather of financial planning to advisors, which his name’s Michael Kitsis. And then we got to work with so many other great people in the space, just in the whole financial planning world. So I’ve been lucky. I would fall into a role and I would enjoy it, and then I would hit this itch or this time where I wanted to do something different or I was curious about a different thing. And I would start asking other people in the industry, some other good friends in the space and be like, I really like doing this, but I think I want to go back to school and get my doctorate because I really liked when I was teaching and doing this.

(04:48):

And then I asked a friend that actually had his PhD and works in the FinTech world and he said, don’t do it. Terrible decision. And I’m like, but you have one. And he’s like, yeah, but you’ve got a good thing going. You should stay as an advisor. I mean, I loved his, we’re still friends that person and I went against his advice, but for me, it’s never really been an arc. It’s really kind of followed my interest. And I’m very curious as a person and each transition of a career, in my mind I see them all very similar, but at the same time, when you look at it from the outside or step back, you’re like, yeah, these are completely different career paths, but I think I’ve found my home. So I’ll stick with that part and we can talk more about that later.

Steve Chen (05:33):

In a second. I want to talk more about what you’re doing at RFG, but first when we were warming up, we were talking a bit about your work teaching at Kaplan. And so I’d love to learn more about why you teach and what you get out of it and just how that process works for educating other folks that are getting into planning.

Jordan Hutchison (05:52):

Yeah, the education, I come from a family that everyone in my family except me, had some stint in education either at a high school or in college, whatever level they were teaching at some level. And I felt like maybe that’s something genetic that we always all wanted to learn more or be able to educate and teach more. But for me, I really enjoy working for Kaplan College of Financial Planning, which is still the largest producer of CFPs in the financial planning community. So certified financial planners. And that’s really like the gold standard for financial planning. So almost like your CPA license for an accountant, getting your CFP is really like the gold standard in financial planning. And so that job for me, I’m an adjunct professor and I get to work under the department called Advisor Development. So I teach a class called client Psychology and Communication.

(06:49):

And then I also have been helping build a course called the Psychology of Financial Planning. And so really that talks about how do values, how does positive psychology, how do all these things of life that are ever present involve financial planning decisions? So money decisions, your values, your attitudes, your culture, your family background, all those things tie into how you make decisions. And so for me, it’s definitely a very positive emotion and it gets me excited to be able to talk about it because I think the industry is starting to see more and more of, well, how does this tie into your life? Each of us are very different.

Steve Chen (07:25):

Yeah, no, it makes a lot of sense. I know we got connected because I was interviewing Brian Portnoy and we talked a lot about the chief behavioral officer role and the psychology of this, and we’ll get into this more, but you heard the part about flow, which is interesting. So yeah, I totally agree. It’s becoming a much bigger part, understanding behavior, helping people shape their norm behaviors and why they think the way they do is critical. How many CFPs are graduating each year? Do you know overall and then from Kaplan?

Jordan Hutchison (07:55):

Oh man, I don’t know the exact number or even a good estimate of how many are graduating just in general or how many specifically from Kaplan College financial planning. I know that now as the CFP has become more of the gold standard for if you want to do good financial planning. And I think there’s good planners that have the designation and good ones that don’t have it. Actually one that comes to mind, she’s a phenomenal planner, doesn’t have it, but it’s one of those certifications I think that as it’s growing in the industry, but I think that it’s become quite significant because now even the certified financial planning board of standards, they have collaborated with universities all over the country and I feel like every day I see another one of those popping up. That’s the program I found when I got my master’s in fire plan. You take all the curriculum and then some for that test. And I feel like now almost every college you look around, they’ve got one of those programs, which is a pretty interesting thing. I mean, when I was there, most people know of University of Alabama because of the football team, because that’s what everyone hears, but they even started making the football players and certain athletes that were going to go take the entry level classes in there to learn what is a mortgage, how do interest rates work, which I thought was awesome.

Steve Chen (09:19):

Yeah, I know there’s also a big push to teach basic personal finance and to every high school student, it was required by 20 – 25% of students, and now I think it’s up to maybe half next gen personal finance was really pushing this, and so it’s mandatory in some schools and it’s available in more schools, but that’s increasing. I was just looking, so it looks like there are about close to 11,000 new CFPs were added in 2023 out of 223,000 worldwide. I don’t know how many are active, but it’s pretty interesting. And then are you teaching hundreds of students at a time or tens?

Jordan Hutchison (09:55):

Yeah, so the sliver that I teach in is heavily rooted on the behavioral side, the human behavior piece of it. And so my course is actually an elective for people taking the curriculum. So you have to take all the coursework and then you sit for the exam to get the CFP credentials. And so one of the electives that you can take, that’s probably your second to last, third to last or last class in the curriculum, you get a choice of some electives and one of those electives is the client psychology and communications course. So that’s that one. And then the other piece of it is if you want a designation in behavioral finance, they have a program called the ABFP, which is the accredited behavioral finance professional, and that’s a designation that’s solely myself and my chair, Dr. Berkowitz is her name. We teach that program together.

(10:50):

You can either take that completely asynchronous where we’ve recorded a lot of things and put the coursework, then you sit for an exam or you can take it live with us virtually. And then some people, they will ask us to do things on site with them, but most of those classes, I would say the CFP one is between five and seven each semester, which the semesters are rolling throughout the year. And then the ABFP designation, depending on this semester, it’s anywhere. I’ve had 20 at one time in a live course where I would teach it two nights a week where sometimes you’ll have 5 to 10, but I’ve had 20. And those are probably the best ones because you get all these people in the industry talking about, well, how does this work? Have you had this conversation? Well was best practice here. You get people from California to New York having a conversation about different people and there’s so many things that are similar but also very different.

Steve Chen (11:50):

I can totally see how with the CFP, it’s from mostly about the numbers or planning. You go from the numbers and then you get into the psychology of it and the why behind it, and that’s probably much more interesting and probably super impactful for the people engaging in the process of planning.

Jordan Hutchison (12:08):

It’s a fun conversation because I think that early in your career, and now they’re teaching it at the collegiate level, so some people at a young age are walking in knowing that there’s this human behavior piece. But initially when I started in the business, I had one class that was taught by a counselor and he talked about all these money behaviors and these things called money scripts, which are the behaviors that you learn directly or indirectly from parents or uncles or family members about how you make financial decisions. And I’m like, yeah, okay, but I’m also calculating retirement and distribution and all cashflow and I’m doing all this in my other 90% of the coursework. And then you get in the business and you sit with a couple and you have these two partners here that have two completely different minds, two completely different jobs, and you’re like, wait a second. The money part is somewhat easier to talk about because it’s very quantitative and a little, it’s heavy that the numbers, this human side is like, okay, how do I explain this? When one person had their parents pay for their college, one person had to pay for it themselves, and now they’ve got to decide with their kid, what’s the best way? And you’re like, I can’t pick sides.

Steve Chen (13:24):

Yeah right, right, right

Jordan Hutchison (13:24):

It’s always rooted under there in some form of fashion.

Steve Chen (13:27):

I just recorded a podcast with a money coach and she was talking about how very often you get partners where they have very different perspectives like opposite attract, and one person thinks one way about money and another person thinks another way, and then you have to bring ’em together. They have a unified balance sheet. Can you touch on what you’re doing at RFG and why you like that role? And then let’s get into the technology side of this business a bit.

Jordan Hutchison (13:50):

For sure. Yeah, so I am the Head of Technology and Operations for RFG Advisory. We are a platform for financial advisors to come on and outsource all of those things that can be somewhat laborious for them. So compliance, so there’s a lot of regulatory things in the financial world. We help take that off their plate. We help with some marketing, we help with the operational side, really that middle and back office. So from the technology side, that’s what we handle. Operational things. So if you’re processing business with a certain company and you need some support to help elevate it, everything on the support side, we support advisors. Most people would never know our name in the disclosure there. If they read the disclosure, then you would see, oh, supported by RFG advisory. But my role specifically is I handle technology, talent and ops and the talent side is where we bring a lot of employees from these firms in-House and make them W2 employees help coach them, give ’em a career path for some of these smaller firms that ops is truly exactly what it is. Operational side technology is everything from manage IT and systems engineering to the technology stack that advisors use with their clients.

Steve Chen (15:08):

Is this kind of like a PEO professional employment organization for advisors where you’re kind of doing all the backups but they’re semi independent or are they actually rolling out underneath RFG?

Jordan Hutchison (15:19):

So they’re a hundred percent independent, so they own their business 100%. They have their own DBA, so their own branding and business, and so that’s really, you get to have your business 100% and work with your clients in the way that you want to work with your clients. Depending on what niche you work in, we will handle all those things that are sometimes tedious but also very required and very important. But most advisors get into the business to be an advisor, not to manage a business like operation that way.

Steve Chen (15:51):

Yeah, I think this is a good segue into the next part of our talk, which is about technology and financial planning. But when I listen to what you’re doing and just kind of watch the space historically, financial advisors or would focus a lot on investment management or picking stocks or facilitating that stuff, and that was the job. And now more and more all of the back office stuff is getting done and the advisor’s job is really the relationship understanding the emotional side of it, talking about this behavioral stuff. And that’s kind of interesting because that’s what humans are best at and that’s probably arguably a much better use of their time. Like okay, I’m going to crank on the spreadsheet for you for a bit. When that stuff’s being done by technology,

Jordan Hutchison (16:35):

I’m in full agreement. I think the true value proposition of an advisor is the relationship because I made this in a joke, but we’re each a special snowflake in some ways, but it’s true. I mean, the way that I was raised is very different the way than you were raised, the way that some of your listeners are raised, and like you said, two partners come together, they might love each other deeply, however their backgrounds are completely different. And I’ll use my own personal example. I’m married to a New Yorker and I’m born and raised in Alabama. I don’t think that it takes any rocket science to understand that those are two completely different worlds. Truly that value prop of an advisor is spending time with them.

Steve Chen (17:19):

As you’ve gone through your career, how do you see the technology and back office evolving alongside the practice of planning and the human side of it? Any big trends you’re seeing there?

Jordan Hutchison (17:31):

The biggest, I mean there’s the buzzword of ai. You pull up LinkedIn or any social platform, and I feel like every other post is about something on that front. I think some of them are legitimate, some of them are people just trying to use that hashtag or tagging themselves to it. There was a person many years ago that brought up a thing called creative destruction, and it’s really about these long waves of innovation. I don’t want to mess up his name, but I think it’s ter when those long waves were very long with any kind of innovation. I think that with technology recently, we’ve seen some pretty big changes in technology in a quick timeframe because I think that AI and internet of things like clean tech drones, I mean so much has happened in the last few years of just you reflect back in the last 10, 20 years, things were completely different.

(18:32):

Phones have changed. I was actually talking about flip phones and the razor if people remember the razor and the Nokia 91 90 the other day to somebody. So things, I think there’s some big trends and with financial services, getting access to financial planning I think has been a much better, the impact of a lot of platforms, the platform that you work on, all of these are giving access to financial planning, which historically was for only the ultra wealthy you had to have an advisor, you had to work with somebody, and if you didn’t have at least six figures of wealth, no one would talk to you. And so I think that technology has really leveled that playground. And this isn’t for the conversation today, but as a person that is in the academic world, I even think that on the education and academic world, higher ed is going through a shift because of the same thing. Technology.

Steve Chen (19:28):

Yeah, a 100%. Do you see resistance from planners? I imagine younger people are probably great new technology, I’m going to adopt it. Let’s go crazy. Do you see from more established financial advisors like, oh, this is a threat to how I do business?

Jordan Hutchison (19:46):

I see, and maybe I’m jaded because I’m around people that are a little more progressive in seeing the ideas of how the positive of technology and innovation, the advisors we work with at RFG tend to be much younger. So the average age of advisor on rfgs platform this year is 48, and it usually skews even lower than that, and that sounds like a seasoned person in their career. However, when you look at broad financial planners, the average of an advisor usually hovers around 60. Really, our advisors are wildly young. So I say that I’m a little jaded because all the advisors I work with on our platform are more progressive in like, oh, show me how to make this better. But I do think some advisors are scared that they’re like, oh, this is going to take my job, AI is going to be me.

(20:35):

And I’m like, I mean, it’s probably going to help you more and technology is going to make the questions probably better because it’s going to speed up. So if they’re using a platform with their 401k at their company or they’ve got access to certain technology with their organization, now they’re going to probably build more wealth and understand planning better. So when they come to you because they have a unique situation or they want to offload some of those decisions because they’re busy, they both partners are working, they’ve got kids, they got stuff they want to do, and life’s busy. You’ve already skipped two or three years of conversations. And so I think it’s making it better.

Steve Chen (21:15):

Yeah, for sure. I think what’s interesting about financial planning and building wealth is yeah, there’s an educational arc to it, but there’s also this arc just as you build money and build wealth. So yeah, if you’re stuck at I can’t budget and save money, you’re stuck over here. But if you can get through that and you start to invest and then you start building more wealth, then you start getting into like, I got to think about taxes. I got to think about my estate, I got to think about my insurance. You have more flexibility, but there is more complexity, but you don’t get there until you have a certain amount of money. But there’s a lot of leverage there too. I mean there’s a ton of leverage in alpha in tax efficiency for instance. And that’s where it gets kind of interesting for folks.

Jordan Hutchison (21:56):

And I think in some ways there’s so much similarity from the tax planning and accounting environment with financial services of financial planning, investment management, because everyone thought that when we could submit a tax return online through TurboTax or whatever that oh, CPAs, were out of a job. Honestly, right now, if you graduate with a master’s in accounting or an undergrad in accounting, you are almost guaranteed a job

Steve Chen (22:24):

For sure

Jordan Hutchison (22:24):

They have a talent shortage. Not many people sign up to do that, but if it is of interest, I can almost promise you that you will have an opportunity at least at a regional accounting firm because there’s still a large need for people.

Steve Chen (22:38):

Yeah, I think just in general, we’ve got these demographic challenges where the boomers are kind of hitting retirement. It was 10,000 people a day hitting 65, now it’s 12,000. It’s like they’re calling it Pete 65. So people, and a lot of these folks are highly skilled, well-educated people that have decades of experience, but if they’re kind of like, okay, I’m done. Well, especially we’re seeing this with the planners. If the average age is 55, 60, at a certain point what happens with their practices? Who’s going to take over that work?

Jordan Hutchison (23:08):

And that’s one little variable In my research, there was a few areas where I could stamp the ages where it wasn’t just coming from industry investment shops and things like that. There has been a big wave of career changers going into financial planning because there wasn’t enough people coming out of college to do the job. Now it’s getting better with the CFP programs going into these universities and saying, Hey, why don’t we do an internship with this financial planning firm or this investment firm here in whatever small town because there’s probably an Ed Jones or there’s probably at least some independent firm there that’s going to give you an internship to get your foot in the door, which can open up so many doors. So it’s gotten better, but for the longest, and here still recently, I think it’s almost 40 plus percent of the financial planning industry is career changers.

Steve Chen (24:02):

Yeah, I believe it. Inside of our business we do some coaching and a little advice just to kind of validate the model, and we have a former CTO of nationwide recently. It was like, Hey, he’s retired. And he was like, I’m interested in coaching. I’m trained as a CPA, I do some of this work for a RP, but I’d like to do it as a coach. He doesn’t need the money. But I think it’s interesting, you get to meet people, help them with big decisions, and especially if you come to it with, you don’t have anything to sell, you’re completely independent. You can be really helpful and provide massive change for people.

Jordan Hutchison (24:33):

And it feels great to help people make those decisions. And this is even just in my own personal situation, I don’t know how many conversations that I’ve had with my parents of just, Jordan, we wish that we knew what you knew when we were your age. And I’m like, well, nowadays, yes, we’re flooded with data from every platform, Instagram, TikTok, you can Google and look up these things, but trying to find good information, a lot of technology is helping that, but I think that there’s the opportunity that a lot of it is changing where that information and it feels really nice to educate it. So I think it’s awesome that that guy is helping coach it because he’s probably seen stuff and made bad decisions that he would love to protect other people from that. And it’s definitely not a financial thing, it just feels nice to be able to help people out and make better choices on it.

Steve Chen (25:27):

For sure. Alright, I have a couple more questions before we get into the flow part of this. So I was talking with a venture capitalist who used to work inside of Fidelity and he was working in the innovation area over there and he said his big question to his team there was why can’t we sell advice and planning standalone? Why doesn’t that happen in the industry? I thought that was a great framing. I have that question too. I’ve never asked this so directly, but I’m curious if you have a perspective on that and where you see this going.

Jordan Hutchison (25:58):

It’s a great question and it’s one of those, my opinion might be loves or might be hated. We’ll see what feedback we get. I think it’s a couple things. The current industry has always been a UM, so assets under management has been the way to charge your clients, how to have that engagement with a client from an advisor perspective. And I think that that piece is heavily rooted in some ease of use, like a behavioral not to loop in more behavioral science, but the way it happens is say that you have $500,000, your advisor’s managing that $500,000 every quarter, they take out their fee and you don’t have to do anything. It’s pretty frictionless of an experience because you’re like, okay, I can call ’em whenever I need, but it’s almost like a retainer in some ways. I think that just the simplicity of that has always made sense to people, whereas the planning and advice, which I think is still one of the largest value adds of the relationship and some things in the investment world is commoditized.

(27:07):

I think there’s some things that you can add value in the investment world, but I feel like in general perspective, a large portion is commoditized, so the real value is that conversation around planning, things like that. So it’s growing because there are some tech companies that are trying to build almost like a stripe for financial planning where Stripe is the payments platform. I know you don’t know what it is, but for listeners that where you can pay for your financial planning with a credit card, maybe you’re a points person. That’s a whole nother subculture. People love the points racket there based on, we use a product in our firm with some advisors that do charge for flat fee planning. It’s growing slowly though very slowly, and I think it’s because financial planning and healthcare and education, they move at a pretty glacier pace. I think it’s going to get bigger and bigger over time, but it’s still because just the ease of it. It’s like, here’s my fee, you don’t have to do anything. Call me when you need me. We’ll meet once a year. And I think that that’s historically just how it’s been.

Steve Chen (28:14):

Do you see younger planners embracing or offering flat fee more frequently than more experienced ladders?

Jordan Hutchison (28:22):

I do depending on how you want to build your book of business because it’s hard. There’s so many people that’s been in the industry know that those first three years in the business, which this was another thing I tried to find heavy, heavy data on, but it’s been more of a industry lore that the first three years of the business and financial planning, you’re going to need to hustle. It’s starting a company those first few years until you start getting some clients. I mean it’s always a grind after that, but of course those first three years are you’re building a product from the first line of code and then you got to continue to see the vision. A lot of younger planners as they’re trying to build their book, they will find that there are people that are high earners making great six finger incomes as two partners, but they don’t have anything saved up yet because they’re 35 or 40 years old.

(29:13):

They’ve just got starting to get a 401k built up and they’re starting to do some taxable money, but they just had kids and they bought a new house and they’re buying a new car. So a lot of expenses and less investments, and so I do think younger ones are adopting it quicker and I’d say that the more innovative older advisors, more seasoned ones are looking at it as a way to try to go down to G two generation and say, all right, I know that if my client who I’ve had for 20 years passes the research shows they’re not going to work with me because we have no relationship. They don’t know me. They know me as their mom and dad’s guy, and so they’re going to move on to somebody that looks a little more like them, talks a little bit more their language. And so I think that it’s a way that they’re both kind of trying to get into that space.

Steve Chen (30:03):

Yeah, it’s interesting. Do you see advisors hiring next generation advisors to be intentional about I manage the relationship with parents and then the millennials manage the relationship with the millennial kids?

Jordan Hutchison (30:15):

A hundred percent. I think that that’s been better over the last five to 10 years. Historically it hasn’t been as much because people would try to do it all themselves, but then what you said, the shift of the boomer generation, somebody’s going to inherit that money and if you want to get in the door, one, you want to have a succession plan. We’re not all guaranteed tomorrow, and so you want to have a succession plan for your business, but then at the same time, if you want to keep those clients, you’ve got to start a relationship with ’em. Even early in my career, I worked with multi-generational families and sometimes it kind of just hit me in the face when you said that. It made me think about it that I was one of those people that I was brought onto these cases and vividly remember working as the sidecar for the matriarch and patriarch of the family, but then the family that was closer to my age, the kids and then their kids were the ones that I would talk to on a pretty high frequency because we had closer similarities in ages and life situations.

Steve Chen (31:22):

I think the data shows that when someone passes away the kids, it’s like 70 to 80% of the time they do not keep the same financial advisor. And the other side of this is that it’s huge numbers. I’ve heard 30, 50, I’ve heard 80 trillion. I mean there’s so much money that is going between generations. I was talking to someone in our town and a real estate person we know, and I was like, how are people affording these houses? She’s like, yeah, you got these 35 year olds that are inheriting ungodly amounts of money and they’re paying cash and they’re just showing up with this money. I mean, it’s of us from tech too, but it’s starting to materialize today.

Jordan Hutchison (32:01):

I believe it because I feel the same way where my wife and I both have very good jobs and we’re pretty good savers. I live in Atlanta, Georgia, and people think, oh, the south, it’s wildly cheap and inexpensive to live. And I’m like, you haven’t been to Atlanta in a while because I don’t know who’s affording these houses. You look at some of the houses around here and you’re like, who’s buying that? And how are there so many people able to afford that? And so I think it’s apparent everywhere.

Steve Chen (32:28):

Do you see in your practice or the advisor’s practices where parents are starting to move the money before they pass away? They’re getting more intentional. I’m hearing stories, this real estate, some assets they’re trying to do Also, they’ll try to go with trust to the grandchildren. They’re funding education, they’re funding houses, they’re moving assets into trust to give to the kids and stuff like that in advance.

Jordan Hutchison (32:54):

I do. I think that as the human behavior piece has become a larger facet of all of financial planning, still people that I’ve gone on stage and people are like, I have no idea what behavioral finance is. And I’m like, what? I’ve been talking about this for a couple of years, and one of your prior guests, Brian Portnoy, he wrote a book about it quite a few years ago, which is a very good book, Geometry of Wealth. He’s been talking about it for some time. I mean, there’s a lot of great voices in the industry that has talked about it and still people haven’t heard it for whatever reason. But I think that as they talk about it, because it’s a bigger piece of if you have wealth or even have just some extra discretionary money, why not do more with it while you’re alive?

(33:42):

Because dying with it, yes, you have it purposely put into your will or trust and then great, but why not see the value kind of what your CTO friend is wanting to help coach. He’s wanting to do something while he’s still alive and get that feeling of being able to help people. I think that it’s becoming more, as the psychology of financial planning starts to become a bigger topic that people are like, Hey, you’ve got all this wealth, why die with it when you can actually see the positive benefit that it brings in your kids’ lives by saying, Hey, let me help you with those student loans. Or Hey, let me help you with that first home purchase because saving up that down payment, it’s a doozy.

Steve Chen (34:24):

Yeah, well, I think it’s also with longevity. So you pile up wealth and then you live to like 90, but your kids are like 60, right? And then you’re like, well, they just went through their, it’s call it 35 to 60 or 55. That’s when you’re buying houses, having kids, spending all this money paying for college, and you’re right, that’s when there’s this massive utility. But so I just suffered through that whole thing and then bam, maybe I had a bunch of money when I’m 16 then. Okay. Could have been more useful earlier for sure.

Jordan Hutchison (34:55):

Oh yeah, I see this just where I live and I have young children, childcare and things like that that I see grandparents all the time picking up kids and I mean, I don’t know the books and records of this daycare, but I would assume that some help in that situation too, because in a large city, childcare is not cheap. It is a mortgage payment, and so if you want the good school and things like that, I think that a lot of people are probably helping in those ways that this was probably some conversations that bringing in Brian Portnoy to talk about, but the benefits of wealth, it’s better instead of creating happiness, it’s better at reducing stress. And so those two aren’t on the same spectrum. If they can see and help their kids or family or anyone or even help a nonprofit in their life, that’s a purposeful thing to them, why not do it while you’re still alive? So you get to see that value.

Steve Chen (35:56):

I think it’s interesting for people to understand. Yeah, I remember I was just talking with my cousin about this and he is got one friend in Texas and their preschool is like 500 bucks a month. When our kids were in preschool, we were paying $1300, $1500. I’m, and I don’t live in a nice suburb, but I was like, I wasn’t thinking about this. I mean when I was paying, I was thinking about it, but I was like, I didn’t plan for it. And I was like, this is 18,000 a year part of a public college or a small fraction of a private college. You’re just kind of cash flowing it out. So there’s costs like that and then all of on the other of it with care long-term care, I’ve been learning more about that and if you need some assisted living or independent living, maybe it’s 5,000 bucks or more, but if you start needing memory care, you’re talking 15 to 20,000 a month. I think a lot of people don’t realize that and unfortunately a lot of us or people will need that and it’s just this tremendous cost that if you have not thought about could blow up your whole situation.

Jordan Hutchison (36:56):

We could digress on that one as well. There was historically, I remember when I started in the business that you could pay for a long-term care policy, almost like your homeowner’s insurance where it’s like you pay a premium, it’s there if you need it and you get all these great benefits, but it’s not building anything up. It’s you’re paying your homeowner’s insurance. So just in case my house burns down or something happens, they’ve had new policies change because it’s become so expensive that they’ve had to create other ways to pay for it. And they’ve changed a lot of the rules around it because the cost has become so significant and those historical policies that paid so much money and did so much, they don’t exist anymore. And even some insurance companies, not the large ones, but many of the small to midsize ones went out of business because the cost of it went so fast went up that they couldn’t afford it to pay those policies.

Steve Chen (37:53):

We could do a whole thing on insurance is such a massive industry and we have it in our lives, but with inflation and what’s happening with climate change, insurance costs across this country through the roof, I mean I see it in Florida, I see it in California. These costs get amplified and really, I know it’s impacting most Americans out there one or another. Alright, well look, I want to get to the last part of our talk here, which is one of the more interesting parts about flow. So that’s how we originally connected. You reached out to me and you’re like, Hey, I heard you have Brian Porte on. You talked about flow. So you wrote your dissertation on this. I did. It’s interesting, super interesting and I would love to get your definition of what it is and understand why you’re so interested in this.

Jordan Hutchison (38:36):

Yeah. I’ll start with the definition that I used and then I’ll tell you why, but the exact definition that I use flow is a state of deep absorption in an activity that is intrinsically motivating with defined goals and is enjoyable. That’s the long academic term of saying being in the zone and being in that positive emotion of it. And the way that I got into it was I played sports growing up, I played ’em on the collegiate level and I always had this positive feeling like I loved doing it. And it actually started in financial planning. My first job here in Atlanta, which was about 10 years ago, the CEO of the company I worked for sat a book on my desk and actually sat three books to be honest, because he’s like, this is how I see the financial world. And I think he was a little ahead of his time in how he saw the industry evolving into this psychology piece of it and that one of those books was Finding Flow by the founder of Flow who researched it in the seventies.

(39:40):

His name’s Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He was a Hungarian American that came over to the States after World War ii. He really started to research positive psychology. And so that’s how I fell into it is that book, when I read it mainly it was like I got to read this for work purposes and then I read it and was like, wow, I have felt this and now I have a word for it for so many years in my life. It just made sense. It was like it clicked and then it clicked to me as I got really curious about it, I’m like, wow, there’s so much research out there about this, but no one’s ever applied this to financial planning. Maybe this is something that no one’s ever thought of and unless something’s changed, I was the first person to publish a paper on flow and financial planning. I studied financial advisors, but that’s how I fell into it was just that conversation, that book. And then it got much bigger. And so I’ll pause there because that rabbit hole I can go down.

Steve Chen (40:40):

Yeah, I know, it’s interesting. Well, does this manifest itself in your life in a big way or do you try to get yourself into a flow state on a regular basis through work and is that happening?

Jordan Hutchison (40:49):

It does. So I do try to structure my day around things not every day, but I try to be very purposeful in my weeks of giving myself time to find that state or to find something that is that deep engaging activity or task that gives me fulfillment. And I’ll be honest, one of ’em is being outside with my kids because nature is a great precursor to it. So people that are out hiking or doing any activity outside is a big way to find flow in personal activities. And then I even tried to, one of the pieces of my research was trying to focus it on work specifically, and so that was an area that I try to even structure my days. And now that I manage three separate verticals, I am constantly hiring people. I actually give them that book. I write a certain, depending on the person, the role and everything, I write a short thing in the cover because it was so impactful to me that I even coach and train and lead my teams in a same fashion of in our org we have Wednesdays, we call it deep work Wednesdays where no meetings are allowed on Wednesdays because my president and I are firm believers.

(42:00):

You got to have time to get into that deep work and to actually get stuff done instead of being in meetings. So she’s been great to be a fan of the same kind of research and be a fan of the same process of it, of giving that space. But my wife probably gets tired of me hearing it, but I very much so try to focus a piece of each week where I’m finding that

Steve Chen (42:24):

I think time management’s such a huge part of this. Did you think a lot about the day like Wednesday versus a Monday for Friday or something?

Jordan Hutchison (42:33):

I actually, I’m a morning person, so I very much so wake up and want to get my day going or do something when I’m up, I’m up and it’s hard for me to go back to sleep, which is works well with my little kids who get up at 5:30 and they’re ready to do their thing. But Shannon, my president, we did have a long conversation about it of what would be the best day. I proposed this idea and she was like, I was already thinking she’s usually two steps ahead of me. Anyways, her and I had a conversation about it, and Mondays most people are trying to get back in get reacquainted and Mondays and Tuesdays I implemented OKRs. So objective and key results that comes from my tech brain on the product side of I don’t do sprints, I see the quarterly goal and then we run another little piece.

(43:26):

We do weekly meetings, which is based on a thing called EOS, so entrepreneur operating system. And so Mondays and Tuesdays are so heavily your time to get acquainted with your team, you’ve got your weekly meeting, that kind of stuff. And so we were like, all right, well Wednesday’s a good break away from those days and then Thursday and Friday you’re like, alright, I’m trying to close out my big projects for the week. Or if someone’s going to take a day off, they usually take a Friday off. So that makes it sound like we talked so much more about it, but it was a brief one meeting where we kind of went through the week.

Steve Chen (44:02):

Yeah, it’s good to be intentional. I started doing time tracking and really being thoughtful about how I allocate my time, our scarce resource, and it’s been pretty impactful. But yeah, thinking deeply about when you do meetings, when you do certain kinds of work, creating big blocks. I totally hear you. I think this is what’s ridiculous. I find I try to have personal time. I actually can get so much stuff done on the weekends because exactly this, there’s no one bothering you, especially if you’re in a leadership role, right? You’ve got a lot of people

Jordan Hutchison (44:35):

Needing you. Yeah, there’s a book called, I want to say it’s called Drive, I want to say, was it Daniel Pink? Maybe was the author that talked about finding when your best time of the day for you to get things done. Some people are night owls and especially working in tech, my team, as long as we’re hitting the goal line really, and they don’t miss a timely meeting. I mean our team meeting is at 11 on Tuesdays, one of that tech team because some of ’em are better in the evenings.

Steve Chen (45:06):

Are you helping financial advisors incorporate flow into their own work?

Jordan Hutchison (45:11):

I am. And actually in my past role, that was my main things was coaching advisors on that. And so now the way my structure is in my role now, I get to do a little bit of it and I get to collaborate. I was able to just bring on a new person to kind of be the front lines of that. And so I’m helping build some content with him. I look at it in two ways. So it’s almost to use the academic term like bimodal where there’s the impact in the advisor’s practice performance, how you’re getting more done, having your week structured, just doing the task and activities that you’re great at, outsourcing or delegating the things that you don’t need to be doing. There’s that whole piece, which is more around my day job now. But then there’s the other piece that part of why I brought this person on. I’m excited that he’s here and his title’s actually chief behavioral officer, so he’s working in that space that he’s the frontline coaching and training some of this to give advisors tools to work with their clients. There’s also the piece with clients because what gives you flow changes through your life. Obviously as I age, I was a basketball player, my knees and back will not hold up with me. I can guarantee that. And so that was something that gave me deep engagement as a young man. But as I get older, I know for a fact I’ve got to find other things that give me that kind of experience because my body’s just not going to allow it.

Steve Chen (46:38):

It’s good. I’m seeing this too in some of my friends’ lives where they’re being really intentional about the evolution of their physical bodies and how they try to manage it over time, especially athletes. I see it out here in California. I was skiing this past weekend and just a bunch of dudes that are in their fifties and it’s like if you want to keep going, there’s guys out there that are 75, they ski like they’re rather than some 35 year olds, but they have managed their bodies and they’d work out intentionally to be able to do this kind of stuff deep into their lives.

Jordan Hutchison (47:07):

And that’s actually speaking of the skiing part, there’s a new book that I have not read yet, but I’m very curious to read it. That is actually a person I think you and talked about before, but Steven Cutler wrote a book called Gnar Country, cause he’s aging, and I think he’s creeping up on 60. He picked up, is it park skiing, some kind of type of skiing. And he’s like, I’m an older man trying to do some tricks out here. And he kind of tracked his whole time learning that. He also started using some research on himself trying to test things out to see if this is legitimate for flow. While he’s doing that, he also collaborated with some neuroscience researchers on flow. And that’s one of the biggest areas where it’s growing because actually having flow states in older age, it bats cognitive decline. And that’s why I’m excited to read this book because he talks about how he is an aging man and he picked up a sport that is usually for younger people and he had a great time doing it and it actually was a positive flow experience for him and just positive all around.

Steve Chen (48:23):

Yeah, well, good for him for going in the park, but yeah, I think you got to be thoughtful about the,

Jordan Hutchison (48:28):

I don’t recommend that for breaking bones and things like that.

Steve Chen (48:31):

Yeah, well, you’re increasing your probability of a high consequence bad thing happening. It’s not like if you crash skiing, it’s one thing if you crash on a jump, you can at 50 plus you can blow your body up in a way that could

Jordan Hutchison (48:46):

Be full disclosure, start with a much smaller activity. But it’s very true as we age, we do become more complacent, more content and meeting new people, doing new things, trying new things. And I was actually talking to someone the other day that I need to find this study, but they did a study on if you haven’t tried sushi by a certain age in your life, the likelihood of you ever trying it was extremely low really. And it’s just one of those things in life, if you didn’t try it by the age of 35, the odds of you ever eating it was almost like single digits or something. And it was like, I love that this was an actual peer reviewed article that someone published. But it was interesting. And I think that finding flow states through life, what gives you that engagement is very important for someone to think about

Steve Chen (49:35):

That’s so interesting that that study on sous shelf to look at that. We’ll try to find it, but yeah, that would argue for, hey, when you’re younger, go out and get as many experiences as you can so that you’ll hopefully open up your horizons for experiences and curiosity and things like that. Agree. Okay, interesting. So any other books you mentioned, I think we talked about the Rise of Superman before, that’s also by Kotler. I don’t know if you love that as much, but finding Flow. Any other books that you recommend in this space?

Jordan Hutchison (50:02):

If we’re speaking just on flow, and I’m actually looking at my bookshelf over here. So Finding Flow was the one that he published in 1990, and I think that one’s a shorter read, higher level. He had one come out shortly after that that he called it Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experiences. And that one goes a little bit deeper because Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, he started his research in the seventies. He did his PhD at Chicago and he really started with chess players, athletes, surgeons wondering how can you be in surgery for 10 hours and not be just exhausted and you want to do it again the next day? And it was truly that they were in a flow state. And same with artists. They just love what they do and they’re not doing it because of money or anything, they just love doing it. He wrote his books after that. He actually has a few other books after that. They start to go into just more application of it. And so one of those that he published a paper on and he touches on it on that second book I just mentioned, the Optimal Experience, but he touches on how flow is unique to your identity. So those self-defining activities, those self-defining things that make you unique, that’s a good starting place for you to find those activities or tasks that give you that deep engagement.

Steve Chen (51:29):

So when I was thinking of flow, I was kind of thinking of intraday activities like, hey, you’re in flow for certain time of days or certain periods of time, but it’s hours. But is there a way of considering this where it’s like, Hey, you’re in flow for years of your life for much longer periods of time, maybe not the highest state of flow, but you love what you do and you don’t get bored by it and you find it stimulating and a lot, obviously work is a huge thing. We spend a lot of time at work, but do you see that? Is that a thing

Jordan Hutchison (52:01):

That’s really interesting because I’ve never thought about it in that way. And sometimes I feel like that in my current role where the people I work with, because there is a thing called group flow, and in my current job I really enjoy what I’m doing, so I feel like I hit one year in this role a few weeks ago and I’m like, God, it feels like it’s only been a few months, but it also feels like it’s been like five years. But it’s been so much fun. I’ve never seen it in that way. I will say that there is some research shows how it’s on a spectrum when you’re running and people say, oh, I had this runner’s high. That’s the short peak experience of flow, whereas a much more few hours would be like what I explained about surgeons. And a lot of times that’s sports and they actually, there’s some studies on where they studied surfers for one, if you’re a big wave surfer. And so what used to be a big wave was 20 feet and now you’ve, I’m not a big surfer, but I read a few things here and there you see 60 and you’re like, oh my gosh, that person is definitely in a flow state to be able to experience that, but why in the world would they keep going back if they survive? Obviously it’s because of that fulfillment of it and it’s not going to happen within, sometimes it’s seconds, sometimes it’s hours, but that state of time does distort when you’re in a flow state.

Steve Chen (53:33):

It’s interesting. Check it out. I’ll look into group flow because I think that’s an interesting idea to try and get a whole organization or team. I mean that’s why I think NCAA is, I’m sure you’re watching this stuff right now, right? What’s so great about college basketball is you’d never know you have these Cinderella stories, who’s going to win? And I think it’s because some teams, all the athletes could be worse at every position, but if they play great as a team and maybe the other team isn’t playing as well as a team, they can win. It’s that

Jordan Hutchison (54:01):

And to answer, I’m a hundred percent watching and yeah, the group flow is another facet. So neuroscience and group flow have been two areas that over the last few years have started to certain researchers have started to expand. Workflow started to happen I think in the early two thousands where they started to look at flow at work in just different facets. But the group one, I mean if you think about it from any sport or team kind of based group that you say from the sports side will just say, they just seem like they’re firing on all cylinders. The whole saying they’re going to where the puck is or they’re going to where the ball is. Like you’ve heard people say it, they are just in that same state together. And so they’re playing so well because they’re truly in that state of flow together. And I think that in the work environment too, because one of the core things of flow is having clear goals and when you have a clear goal as a team, you’re all striving for that clear goal and you get excited about it. So you’re all going for that same outcome. You definitely can be in a flow state together.

Steve Chen (55:09):

That’s awesome. Alright. Well Jordan, this has been super interesting. Appreciate it. Any last things you want to mention to our audience or share about where you’re headed in the future? What’s the next five, 10 years look like for you?

Jordan Hutchison (55:21):

If I had to make the choice now, I think that I’ll probably for the next few years, I see myself still at RFG. I very much enjoy my role here. I like what we’re building and I hope to be able to build some more things about just educating on flow. I think every year I have this bug where I’m like, oh, it’s a cool topic. Some people like it and my application is so different. But then somebody will reach out and be like, Hey, have you ever thought about this? And I’m like, yeah, I have. So I would say the next five to 10 years, 10 seems so far away. I have no idea. The next say three to five years, I see RFG building more on the coaching and me putting some undertones of flow from the tech side of you, focusing on what you’re good at, but then also adding some more content in that world so that I get to see psychology and tech work in a positive way.

Steve Chen (56:17):

Awesome. That it’s coming together. It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves. Maybe we’ll get you and Brian together on a podcast.

Jordan Hutchison (56:22):

I would love to chop it up with him. We’ve had some good conversations in the past

Steve Chen (56:25):

Yeah, yeah. No, he was great. Jordan, thanks for joining us and sharing your insights on flow, financial planning, technology, and how this stuff is evolving. For everyone else listening, thanks for taking your time and all feedback on this podcast and all reviews are welcome. We’ll link to Jordan’s bio and RFG and the books we’ve mentioned in the show notes. And if you are in need of financial planning, obviously you can check out that they’re doing at RFG and their advisors, or you can build a plan NewRetirement.com. Thank you and we’ll talk to you next time.

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