In this Swift Chat video conversation, Marie Swift of Impact Communications, Inc., speaks with Preston D. Cherry, Ph.D., CFP®, of Concurrent Financial Planning, LLC. Dr. Cherry is also Assistant Professor of Finance & Personal Financial Planning in the School of Business at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. Preston shares his backstory and why he chose to establish Concurrent as an independent, virtual financial planning firm that serves individuals, families, and business owners nationwide. They are guided by the core principle of the fiduciary standard, which is to always put client interests first.
He also talks about his work at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay and how he is a product of the Texas Tech (Lubbock, Texas) PFP curriculum made famous by industry luminaries Deena Katz and Harold Evensky.
Preston is also working on a book so we learn more about Statements and story listening, household hysterics, and other fun facts about Preston and his life, mission, and focus.
Learn more about Dr. Cherry: www.ConcurrentFP.com
The moniker is life/money balance. It's letting your life lead your money and not your money leading your life. It's not always reacting and recovering the money and letting it define where your life goes. That's people’s frustration. It's like, okay, I want some life momentum. I want some progress forward. I want to go towards my aspiration." ~ Dr. Preston Cherry
Marie Swift: Hey everybody. It's Marie Swift. Welcome back to another Swift Chat and I have with me today, Dr. Preston Cherry and Preston is a new favorite friend of mine. We had a get acquainted call a couple of weeks ago, and we just had so much fun together learning about how we have overlapping relationships and conversations in the financial planning community.
I want to bring in Dr. Preston Cherry now. I'll just call you Preston from here on out. How about that? To talk to us about what he's doing that's interesting and cool. Let's start with this Preston, you've got a lot going on. I was looking at your website and just getting to know you; you've got an incredible bio. What's your backstory? How did you end up doing what you're doing today?
Dr. Preston Cherry: Well, thank you for that. And thank you for inviting me, Marie. I love Swift Chats. It's like a fireside chat. I love it. So yeah, my backstory really came about when I was at undergrad, I was at Prairie View University in Prairie View, Texas, right outside Northwest Houston and I had a mentor there and his name was Jan Jasper and he introduced me to personal finance. I took a personal finance class there and didn't know personal finance was a thing. However, I was introduced to money concepts early in life and throughout life. My parents introduced me to my first matching program where we saved some of our allowance and then they put a couple of dollars in a ledger as a matching program. So that was my first 401(k) match right. There are many other stories like that, but I didn't know personal finance was a thing as a young person. However, when I got to the university, I was like, oh, okay, this, sounds like something I'd want to do.
So, mentors are very important. They were important to me then and important to me now, and that's why I continue to do mentorship going forward too.
Swift: So, being at a university, is that CFP students? PFP students?
Cherry: Yes. Right now, I'm at University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. Actually, we're having a back-and-forth weather right now; it was very cold, but the spring sun came out a little bit and it just snowed the other day. So, I'm getting used to Green Bay, but what the community here, the community and the students are clamoring for is a personal financial planning program of which we have a certified or CFP board registered approval, which is big because now the students can take our classes and if they finish the classes, they get to qualify to sit for the CFP exam. So that's big news and there was no program several months ago, so we started from scratch and now we have that CFP Board approval, and we also have a minor in our catalog and the students are so excited.
We just launched the student association here recently as well. So, the demand is there. The firms are excited, the students are excited, and I get to pay it forward. From my backstory until now I keep paying it forward.
TIES TO TEXAS TECH
Swift: Am I remembering correctly? You have roots with Texas Tech?
Cherry: I do. I do. Part of it, yes. Part of that backstory coming from Prairie View is that my mentor has friends over at Texas Tech -- that was the legacy institution of financial planning, right? We took a field trip from Prairie View to Lubbock and was introduced to that program and met some of the fine people there.
I have another mentor you know, Dr. Vicky Hampton over it at Texas Tech and Bill Gustafson. I met them back in 2003. Then I continued in my banking career, so to speak, tellering and retail banking and whatnot. In 2004, I started in the investment operations area and in 2005, I was like, you know, it's time to go back and pursue that financial planning thing. That's when I went back to Texas Tech and got the Master's Degree and fast forward, 10 more, I guess, 15 more years and I went back for the Ph.D. and here I am now.
Swift: I had the opportunity to go down to Lubbock, Texas when Deena Katz and Harold Evensky were down there teaching. They asked me to come down and talk to the students about social media etiquette. I said, really? And they said, yes, really. So, I got to go to the Waffle Place where they serve sweet potato waffles and I got to go to the Boot Barn and bought some red cowboy boots with Deena.
Cherry: Oh, yes. And Deena is another mentor of mine, Harold as well. We've had many, many chats and she's given me so much advice over my career and in life also.
PASSIONS AND PURSUITS
Swift: You have a lot of irons in the fire. I think you also work with your own personal financial planning clients. What is the thing that you enjoy the most? What lights you up of all the things you're doing?
Cherry: That's hard. It's kind of like I don't have any children, but I know my parents wouldn't pick their favorite child. Although I hear that where some parents, they do have their favorite child secretly, ha. But I'd have to say number one is the impact I have on students because that impact is also on clients, and also an impact on the community and also on the profession. I'm all of those in measurable ways. I was just talking to a former student that I taught while I was at Texas Tech pursuing the Doctoral Degree. I was teaching classes there and I had two students over this past weekend call me and share with me that -- wow, I'm getting kind of emotional -- I've had profound impact on their lives. That was a pleasure to hear; you know, I don't do it for compliments, but for them to share that with me, I appreciate that because I appreciate that in my mentors, my parents, Dr. Jasper, all those folks, right? And I've shared that with them cause it means something. So impact on lives and particularly students.
And then with my clients when they're going through a process and they say: This is where I am, this is where I want to go. I don't understand my life's direction or, maybe I do and just don't know how to get that on course. And then I don't know about all this money thing whether it'd be fundamentals or more complex. Show me how do we align these things?
I know we'll get to this later, but you know, some people just want to be heard. And then when you see the result of that, and I always share that people don't know what “it” is until you go through “it.” That's when you can quantify “it” -- that's when it's measurable and when people go through it and they share that with you, it's like, ah, yes, this is what it is, that's also impacted and an impact on the profession as well. I do a lot of volunteering for our major groups and sit on boards and whatnot. So, in all those areas Marie, it's about impact and having a measurable and meaningful as well.
Swift: I love that. Your website talks about money and life needing to run concurrently. You named your company, Concurrent Financial Planning. Talk to me about that.
Cherry: Yes. I kind of touched on that as nice segue which is that there's a partnership. The moniker is life/money balance. It's letting your life lead your money and not your money leading your life. Not always reacting and recovering the money and letting it define where your life goes. That's people’s frustration. It's like, okay, I want some life momentum. I want some progress forward. I want to go towards my aspiration.
However, if your money is leading your life, you don't have that course. When your life leads your money then your life and your money are running concurrently. They're running in partnership because as soon as they go in different directions, then we have an issue there.
And there's a big disconnect and people feel that. That philosophy was developed from something that a few times in my life where I didn't feel so well. Where my life and money were crossing and going in different directions. And it was very apparent of what was going on and until I grasped the reality of that I just didn't feel very well.
So that's why I was like, well, money is filled with emotion and all that before you get to the numbers. So that's where the concurrent nature of it came from.
Swift: You said something earlier and I want to go back to that. It was around people wanting to be heard. In my work in 2020, I think I mentioned I did this project called Conversations That Matter in partnership with the Advisory Solutions arm of Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.
And what I learned or what was reinforced for me is that clients want to be heard and that the advisors who actually heard those clients, and acknowledged their fears and their concerns and their joys -- I mean, all of that was amplified, if you will, in 2020. We all had that stuff, that fight and flight and, oh my gosh and, what's going on? And how long is this going to last and the social unrest. But you know, advisors who really heard their clients and acknowledged clients with something like, I may not have the answer to that today, but we can get through this together. I see what you're saying. I hear what you're going through. T hose advisors are actually doing better, did better through the crisis, and now are earning more client trust, which means more business right?
I also learned, and then I want to go back to a question for you, that advisors wanted to be heard. I had 342 advisors participate in a survey and half of them took the time to fill out two essay questions. When I interviewed some of those respondents, I asked them, why did you take the time in the middle of all of this that you have going on to write essay questions about your experience and your client's experience? And they said, we want to be heard. We want a voice. So, there's something there about being heard and then storytelling, right? People want to tell their stories. Stories engage. What would you add to all of this?
Cherry: Whew, can I say just ditto? I agree with all of that. Similarly, to yourself, I'm developing a presentation on the art of storytelling and story listening. People want to be confirmed. They want to be heard. And here's the thing: People have their ah-ha moments; they've never been asked certain things, Marie, they'd never been asked certain things.
A response that I tend to like is: I’m glad you’ve asked. I've been waiting for somebody to ask me, or I've never been asked that type of thing. And then just really sitting back. Once that happens, once you get that, oh, that's the joy right there. You just sit back and let folks walk themselves into their story. And sometimes it's a pause too, for both the planner and the client to work themselves through that kind of couple of seconds process, because they're somewhat shocked that somebody asked them that, but they've been waiting. They've been waiting and, and not to interrupt what that process is, is very important just to -- and I know I'm speaking to the choir here -- and just sit back and then they walk themselves into their story.
That's what engagement is. They engage themselves rather than you prodding them to get there. They're like, okay, I've been waiting for this opportunity. As soon as you open that door and listen to their story that is fabulous. Also, stories create vulnerability as well, because everyone just wants to know "you're like me."
We can have a conversation that I can trust. If you're sharing your story, you're being more vulnerable, then that means I can too. I can share some of these emotions that I've been trying to process for many years about my money.
Swift: I know you're writing a book, so maybe looking at the last few minutes talk a little bit about the book, but I want you to also mention about this family hysterics, right? We were talking about that while we were getting acquainted. Don't leave this call without sharing that. So, in the last couple of minutes we've got talk to me about your book and family hysterics.
Cherry: Okay. Yes. The series is called Household Hysterics and it's about getting people to engage with their money life, their life/money balance, because if you just mentioned money, then people are not going to just get there. However, they will comment and engage with everyday things that going on in their household and then laughter helps as well. So, I'm going to take these everyday occurrences in the household and get people to comment on those because they can relate to them and smile about them. For instance, I have a great seasoning cabinet, right? And there are some seasoning staples that you have to have, and everybody has their seasoning cabinet -- you know that garlic powder, whatever your fundamental seasonings are, and people are going to engage on that all day. They'd be like, yes, you've got to have this. You got to have that. And then how do we translate something now that they're engaged and they're smiling a little bit.
How do you translate that to money? Well, it's about money fundamentals, all right. What are the basics that you need to have in your plan? What are one of those money spices, so to speak, and that's that emergency fund, right? That's that retirement account and this, that, and the other thing; you know, managing your credit and whatnot.
So now we're getting somewhere. Now we’re engaged. It's like, oh yes, that too. So yes. Household Hysterics. Yeah. And there are many of those. They get people smiling and engaged about their money.
The book is called Statements. It's a double play on words. I find that clients will not give or delay giving those detailed itemized bank statements or credit card statements because they are very truth-telling. They're very revealing. They're very personal. They're personal statements. All all of this ties to personal financial planning right? They can tell a story, but once they give that itemized document, then it's telling a real story and then we get to unpack what we need to talk about. So that's the first play on it is about those personal statements and what it means, you know, that financial statement.
And then because you know, my moniker is about life/money balance, so you have some money part, but then what are some of the life statements to commonality. Life statements that you may have heard from your aunt, your uncle, your good friends or mentors, or friends and whatnot. What are those? What are some of those things we heard around the house? Like for instance, my mom always told me you can't wash dishes with a closed rag. You can't do it. She goes, son, you got to unravel that rag so you can efficiently wash the dishes. That's a statement right. That's something somebody can smile at and maybe relate. Maybe their mother told them something like that as well. How do you relate that to money? Well, you can't do anything with a closed mind or a closed approach of what maybe you've been doing or used to. You have to be open. You have to be open and honest with your story. You got to be open and honest with your audit of yourself and you have to be open with your courage to take action. So those are the type things that are going in the book.
Swift: You know, while you were talking, I'm thinking, wow, what were some of those money statements my mom gave to me and the one that came to mind is this. My mom was really thrifty and frugal. She said" Any dummy can pay full price.
So how can people follow your work or learn more?
Cherry: Yes. You mentioned research. I'm working on some personality traits research. I did that for my dissertation and then also getting into some client connections research and some storytelling type of research.
I'm on Twitter, I'm on Facebook and also LinkedIn and that's Dr. Preston Cherry, and that's my handle across all of those. And then also www.concurrentfp.com which is the website for the firm.
Swift: All right. Thank you so much for being here. I will see you in the conference circuit. Hopefully this fall, we'll all be around again in person.
Cherry: Absolutely. Can't wait. Thank you.
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