DiscoverZebra Smash - Real Financial Planners | Real Conversations
Zebra Smash - Real Financial Planners | Real Conversations
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Zebra Smash - Real Financial Planners | Real Conversations

Author: Zebra Smash - Ben Birken, Roger Pine

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A show hosted by real financial planning practitioners for fellow practitioners. It's like attending a financial planning conference on your time and on your schedule. With CFP CE credit, of course. More information at
93 Episodes
Episode 92 - The End

Episode 92 - The End


After nearly 3 years, we are closing shop for good at Zebra Smash.  In this episode, we revisit some of our favorite memories, favorite songs, and lessons learned. Thank you for listening over the past 3 years.  We've learned a ton and we appreciate all of the support you've given us.
In this mildly belated Halloween edition conference recap episode, we spoke with Lauren Zangardi Haynes about her experiences at the recent NAPFA conference. Enjoy!  We'll see you all in Denver at the NAPFA Spring Conference.
We spoke with Nina O'Neal, founder of the Female Advisor Network about the organization and what female advisors face as practitioners and conference attendees.  There were some eye-opening moments in there. To learn more about the Female Advisor Network, be sure to check out their website:
Did we talk to David Lyon, founder of Oranj, for an entire hour and completely forget to ask him how he came up with the name Oranj?  Yes.  Yes we did. That one will have to remain a mystery.  But we covered just about everything else in this conversation.  What was it like to build a tech company as an advisor?  What need does Oranj fill, and how does it fill it?  What's happening in advisor tech today?  What's coming soon?
Wealth Stack is a brand new conference, entering an already crowded late-summer conference market.  Is it worth attending?  We got the inside scoop from attendee Allison Berger
Roger just got back from his first (but likely not last) XYPNLive conference.  He was there under special circumstances, which you'll hear all about in the episode. He also wasn't there for the whole event, so this review misses a pretty big chunk of the content.  But don't worry, he'll still confidently make sweeping generalizations about the entire conference!
Listen in as we review 2 of the latest journal articles from the CFP Board. We read the academic articles so you don't have to. Special thanks to Hayworth and Woolsey for their continued support of our Academic Edition podcasts.
In what turned out to be our most technically challenging episode ever, we talked about sabbaticals for financial planners.  Ben recorded this on week two of his sabbatical, and we were joined by sabbatical veteran Bethany Griffith from Abacus Planning Group. How did we handle recording on multiple continents and multiple languages?  Not well.  Not well at all.
We check back into see what Roger has been working on in his mad scientist lab.  His newest venture is a service for advisors called Holistiplan. Enough people ask Ben what Roger is up to that we feel an occasional update is episode-worthy.  And the product Roger has rolled out genuinely is something new and different in the financial planning space.  We didn't meant this to be an infomercial, in other words, and we think you'll find Roger is bad enough at sales that it doesn't sound much like an infomercial either. is open and taking new subscribers. Sign up today for a 7 day free trial, then it's $50 per month, with the option to cancel at any time.
We covered both our favorite recent reads, and those reads we've got lined up for the coming months. Here are some of the highlights of what we talked about: A Ladder to the Sky – John Boyne  Thinking In Systems – Donella Meadows  Boomtown – Sam Anderson Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions – Carmen Simon How to Read a Book - Mortimer Adler Get to the Point: Sharpen Your Message and Make Your Words Matter - Joel Schwartzberg Educated: A Memoir - Tara Westover How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence - Michael Pollan
Anyone who follows Zebra Smash knows our roots are in NAPFA, and specifically in NAPFA's conferences.  In fact, Ben and Roger met at a NAPFA conference all those years ago. In this episode we recap the 2019 Spring conference, with help from two friends, Laura Davis and Michael Baughman.
This show was recorded in front of a live audience at the 2019 NAPFA Spring Conference in Austin, Texas.  Joined by Dave O'brien, we talked about what it takes to get started in podcasting.  We made the case that 1) A podcast is worth doing, and 2) any dummy can do it if they just start. We covered a lot of specifics that newcomers to podcasting might find helpful, so below is a listing of all the products and services we talked about.  Much to our disappointment, we received no promotional compensation for plugging any of these things. Dave O'Brien's firm, Evolution Advisers We used to find a lot of our helpers at the beginning.  We recommend starting with Level 2 sellers or higher.  It's cheap enough that you could hire two people for the same work then use the one you like better.  (We hired a guy with the Fiverr handle of awwyeah to do our editing.  He was fantastic.) and Podbean are two hosting companies you can use for your podcast. Cashflow Podcasting is a turn key solution for creating a podcast from scratch.  They're more expensive than a DIY approach, of course, but it's an option if you've got more budget than time/energy. Ben uses this microphone (be sure to read reviews before buying. There have been compatibility issues with Windows 10) Audacity is a free, open source recording and editing software that about 99% of podcasters use.  It's a perfect tool to use when you're just starting out.  Audacity on a laptop plus a gamer headset microphone is a great setup. Ecamm, Zencastr, and CleanFeed are products you can use to record guests.  None of them are perfect. The Zoom H6 is the best recorder out there.  Worth the investment. And finally, if you don't know about NAPFA, we HIGHLY recommend learning more about them.
It was just Ben and Roger in the studio this time, and the subject was the podcast itself.  Yes, this is the next edition of our Metasode series, in which we get meta and talk about the ins and outs of making Zebra Smash. Listen in for answers to burning questions such as, "are people listening?"  (yes)  and "are we still bleeding money?" (yes, but less than before) We hope to see you in Austin for our live show at the 2019 NAPFA Spring conference.
In an episode that originally was meant to be a T3 and tech strategy discussion, we ended up interrogating Eden Bowen about how her firm has reached such insane levels of efficiency.  Is it their process?  Their tech stack?  Is it superhuman advisors?  (Spoiler: Probably all three) For further clues on how they do it, but sure to check out their book, Thirty Five Great Ideas: Timeless Advice for Financial Success
Steve Wykoff joins us in answering the age-old question, "Is there really anything new to say about Roth conversions?"  As it turns out, there is.  Listen in as we uncover this revelation, along with several others as we recap the 2019 NAPFA South Region Symposium.
We've covered "soft skills" in a number of episodes, but our guest Jim Whiddon has spent the last few years really digging in on the topic.  He even wrote a book on the subject.  That book is The Old School Advantage. Listen in as we cover topics like how a junior advisor can gain the trust of a 70 year old client.  We also work on Roger's deficient conversation skills. Jim's website, where you can order the book, is at
You may not have attended T3.  You may have no interest in attending T3 personally.  But you know that a lot of the news coming out of T3 will impact you and your practice for years to come. We talked with financial advisor Vince Barbera, a tech enthusiast and recent T3 attendee, about his time at this year's conference.
The new technology survey from Bob Veres and Joel Bruckenstein has some jaw-dropping findings.  Can it possibly be true that only 7.8% of advisors use tax planning software? Find out which software solutions are up, which ones are down, and which ones you've never heard of have a surprising market share.
From a planning perspective, a divorce can really upend a client's financial life.  But as financial advisors we frequently get pulled into the transactional aspects of the divorce proceedings? In this episode we talk with Chuck Clifton, who holds the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst designation, about how we can best serve our clients when their marriages dissolve.
As a financial planner, you are likely to be one of the first people the family calls when your client dies.  Depending on the demographics of your practice, you may even scan the obituary section of the local paper, just to be sure you are fully ready when that call comes. So what do you need to be prepared to do when helping a client or their family settle an estate?  Do you have a checklist?  We share Ben's checklist on this episode, with some commentary from Roger.
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