EP 40 - Frazer Rice - Wealth Actually Book Intro: The Importance of Working with Financial Experts
|Awesomers Authority - We'll talk to subject matter experts that talk about various topics that would be of interest to other Awesomers who are listening including, but not limited to, starting a business, running a business, best marketing ideas, sourcing in China, organizational development, tools to help your your business more profitably and much more.|
|Frazer Rice is a leading private wealth manager, with fifteen years' experience advising millionaire and billionaire families on finances, including fiduciary and estate matters. His clients include business owners, hedge fund managers, real estate developers, corporate executives, foundations, and established families.|
He is also the author of Wealth, Actually, and has been featured in the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, and the Journal News. He hosts a podcast and blog on politics, business trends, and entrepreneurship at FrazerRice.com.
Entrepreneurs prepare for the future by setting up private wealth management and surrounding themselves with financial experts.
On today’s episode, Steve introduces Frazer Rice. Frazer is a leading private wealth manager with 15 years of experience. He is also the author of the new book Wealth Actually and has been featured in the The New York Times, Daily Telegraph and The Journal news. Here are more gold nuggets on today’s episode:
A short background about the book Wealth Actually and why it is a must read for entrepreneurs.
The two-pronged approach to finding good advisers.
Why working with experts make a whole world of difference.
And the future of cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology and more!
Stay tuned to learn more valuable financial advice and find out how you too can manage your assets like a true Awesomer.
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1:15 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Frazer Rice.)
Steve: The Awesomers.com podcast series rolls onward everybody. You're listening to Episode number 40. Can you believe that word episode 40 already, just 40 days in, 40 episodes that's a drop a day for those keeping score at home. Now today I'm joined by special guest Frazer Rice and Frazer is a leading private wealth manager with over 15 years of experience advising millionaire and even billionaire families on financing including fiduciary and estate matters. Now, his clients have included business owners, hedge fund managers, real estate developers, corporate executive foundations and even so-called established families. Many very wealthy families have what's called family offices and he's been deeply involved in that over time. He's also the author of a new book Wealth Actually and has been featured in The New York Times, Daily Telegraph and The Journal News. He also hosts a podcast and blog related to politics, business trends and an entrepreneurship at frazerrice.com. I'm excited to have Frazer join us because as someone who's been directly responsible for managing not just millions, but even into the billions of dollars of people's cumulative wealth that's a responsibility and such a level of experience and expertise that all of us hard-charging entrepreneurs at any level whether you have a dollar or $10 or even a billion dollars we all need to have better education and better understanding on how do we deal with wealth as we're successful. Too often we run and we hard-charged towards this goal and then we're surprised when it actually pays off and we don't know what to do and there are so many unintended consequences I've seen for people, their families and other kind of unexpected tax hits that they could have planned around, so many things that an expert like Frazer could help guide us through. So, I hope you are - buckle up today, it's going to be an exciting episode.
Welcome back Awesomers. It's Steve Simonson again and today I'm joined by Frazer Rice. Is that right?
Frazer: That's correct.
Steve: All right. You know, I have to say that I'm rocking the pronunciations today. This is my fifth episode and so far I've gotten four out of five right, which is a record for me. Believe me for those keeping score at home it's - I'm usually in the low 20% range, so welcome aboard Frazer.
Frazer: If it makes you feel any better my boss whom I worked with for 15 years never spelled my name right once, so if you're 20% on pronunciations you're way ahead of a lot of people.
Steve: I'm definitely - I'm appreciating that note for my own personal ego. So, I've already kind of read in the intro and kind of the general bio from your perspective that you've shared, but I always like to hear directly from, firsthand from you, kind of what are you involved in, what's taking your time and you know what consumes you day-to-day?
Frazer: So, you've reached me at a really pivotal time for me. I have just come off 16 years working for a trust company and so my job was to help entrepreneurs figure out their next step and understand what their issues are and to help them sort of figure out where they were in their past life and where they're going in their future lifestyle and to make sure they have the assets to support it and what they do as far as spending and philanthropic goals and things like that so that you don't have a mismatch between spending and assets and you’d end up poor, which is you know you didn't go through your entrepreneurial exercise to end up on the wrong side of that. Well I've left the trust company world and I took the plunge and I wrote a book about my experiences in the trust world called Wealth Actually and the goal of the book was to really take a lot of my experiences and my thought process that I used to advise clients and put them into a book so that people who are going from one different type of wealth to another say an entrepreneur who's selling their business and going on to a different stage or maybe they're living off of it or preparing to invest in their new thing, that there was a book to kind of help them go through the thought process of understanding what their issues are, understanding the tools they have at their disposal, understand what good decision-making looks like and then understand things like what the threats to wealth are and then also what would be a good way to build a team around them and to put advisers around them so that the advisers that they may have used as it relates to getting their business up and running and making them successful may not work in a different environment where they've graduated to a new set of problems. So, what am I doing on a day-to-day basis? The first thing is I want to get the book out and make it apparent for everyone and you sort of give it a chance to live and breathe and really give everyone a chance to read it. I think there's some good stuff in there and the byline of the book is intelligent decision-making for the 1% and in some ways I regret the title a little bit because I think there are a lot of different things that are helpful for the people who aren't in the 1% or who are trying to get to that point. So, a lot of what I'm doing now is doing a lot of publicity, doing a lot of writing around that and I formed an LLC around the book and it's called Web Actually LLC and so I'm trying to - I've got a few people who I'm advising on the adviser front and the lawyer front to try to help them get their message out and to help them understand how to ignite client discussions so that they're able to advise their clients better and be more productive so that they can graduate to other scenarios and more sophisticated things that they can do to their - do for their clients. Along that line, I'm also - I've joined the advisory board of a podcast company, so that's exciting and since I feel like I have no free time whatsoever I've also thrown in there that I've been working on a graphic novel with a friend of mine. That's about three quarters of the way done and we're trying to get that up and running by the end of the year and I feel like I've got a whole host of other things going on, but that's enough for now.
Steve: Wow! Holy schedule Batman, that is pretty amazing and I love the different parts of this thing first of all and for the Awesomers out there listening, this is the time for you to pay close attention. You know, we're so focused on the journey. We're so focused on the doing it, doing it, doing it and then when we have an exit event, you know let's say all the stars align we have this exit event, we often don't know what the next step is. We don't know what to do with that little pot of gold that we may have and whatever size it is it can change the way you behave. It could change your risk tolerance. It changed all kinds of things for different people in different ways and we've got somebody here who's going to give us some advice on how to deal with that. So, I'm thrilled to have you on board because I do think a lot of entrepreneurs they race right toward they think is the finish line and then they're like okay, I got over the finish line and it's like no, no, the marathon, you're still going and there's a lot more to it so. Are you going to be able to help us think about that future after the exit? Is that right?
Frazer: That's the goal, try to give you some exercises, some things to think about and really more the point of it also is as entrepreneurs start to see the finish tape as they're sprinting toward the end, that could be an illusion I think in a lot of ways. You have to run through the tape first of all in order to run your best race and at the same time you really got to keep your head on a swivel because there are a lot of different issues that pop up that you really need to prepare for in advance of that sale and I think that's where understanding what your different priorities are. In many ways it's sort of a deprogramming of what has made you successful in many ways. So, you've got to really open your eyes up and spread your antenna out and talk to your friends and your advisers and the people, you know your peer groups, that have gone through this before and understand what's waiting for you at the end of that pot of gold so that I mean we can talk about structures and things like that in order to protect your assets, but really making sure that your family is on board with the next phase. Make sure that people with your previous company or the company that you're building that they're in a way on board because you don't want to just up and sell and leave things high and dry. That's not how exits work anymore it seems to me. There's a lot of earn outs and provisions where you still have your hand a little bit on the wheel even though the financial considerations may be a little bit different. There's a lot to do to really open your eyes up to a bigger world and a lot of different challenges you may face.
Steve: Well I really think this is a good time for people to pay close attention. The preparation is ultimately what can help you have a soft landing and even as that lifestyle changes and it can change quite significantly depending on the situation if you're not prepared for it. Boy, it can be a pretty rude awakening for a lot of people. So, I'm definitely appreciating the fact that we can kind of predict the future a little bit for some of the folks out there listening.
Frazer: Well, the other thing too is you can't always predict the future and things blow up and screw up and so part of the exercise is also trying to find out what the threats are to your wealth so that when you get past it and you've graduated into this really cool club where you've exited a business and you've got a little bit more optionality, you've got some space, you've got some room to breathe and think about what your next steps are, it's important to really - it's really step back and find out what your - and think about what your priorities are going forward and that can be a very difficult exercise for some people especially those driven entrepreneurs, we hear the quote about serial entrepreneurs and many times they're serial because they can't get enough of just one, they want to be a part of others and they want to be a part of other people's successes and having an impact economically or otherwise and that's one thing you need to try to figure out. Some people sort of address these concepts by cashing out, going to the beach for six months and figuring things out and then figuring out going forward that that works. My initial counsel for all of those things is to really take stock of what you've got personally from an asset and liability standpoint, figure out what your family goals are, figure out what your philanthropic goals are and make sure that you get good advice around that and this is something that it's very difficult to time, but transactions certainly take awhile to sort of - first of all, they die a thousand deaths and you know that wears entrepreneurs out all the time, but I would imagine that a good initial thing to do is if you feel the finish line coming and you can give yourself six months, I think it's good for an entrepreneur and most entrepreneurs are very good at sort of allocating their time and being organized about it that it is well worth it to spend a portion of your time and allocate it in your schedule to thinking about and maybe even meditating over what is important to you and what you want to think about doing going forward that's sort of an initial thought.
Steve: Yes. I definitely think that too little consideration is given to that future whatever that may be and that's, you know that's something we hopefully we can influence here today. So, before we jump into kind of framing up the common problem that entrepreneurs face and we're going to get into that kind of authority bit, I like to just get a little background on you because you have some very impressive statistics that I think the audience would find fascinating, but tell me about your first job. What was your first kind of proper job?
12:54 (Frazer talks about his educational and professional background.)
Frazer: Sure. So, I got out of college. I worked for Empire State Development, which is the economic development arm of New York State and I was running around the state at a young age helping people - helping New York State try to keep jobs within New York State or otherwise create them and so that meant being a part of projects as far as putting programs together that would keep companies in New York or otherwise try to attract other people to put a factory in or something like that where you know 100 jobs will go in this county or 300 jobs will go in that county, that type of thing. I didn't want to be a civil servant my whole life and so I went to law school. I went to Emory. I was down in Atlanta. I have a host of different experiences down there. I worked for - my first summer, I worked for Merrill Lynch's general counsel's office in New York, good experience on that front. My second year, I worked for the SEC my first semester and then an entertainment lawyer my second semester, which was really interesting. I got to work with people like Usher Raymond and the Goodie Mob, so it takes sort of a you know a typecast white guy and drop him into a hip-hop scenario and it was a lot of fun and it was really interesting to watch these guys as their careers were just starting to take off and to be a part of counsel's office that kind of helped them figure that out and put some structure around it and to see real entrepreneurship happening at the music level and this was right around the time that Napster was starting to take hold and they were they were seeing that early and you could see the wheels turning with the management teams of both of those groups as they – you know, they wanted to get in other media. They wanted to sell other products. They wanted to diversify into other things and that it was really interesting to watch that on the ground floor. My second summer I worked in the House of Representatives with the House Banking Committee, which was pretty cool and I like D.C. and that was a lot of fun and third year I worked for the Federal Reserve in Atlanta and it was at that point that I was in Atlanta, Federal Reserve was cool. It was sort of a half general council, half banking regulation gig, which was interesting to me. I like banking law and the people were really good as well. They're really thoughtful and a cool group and I said to myself if this is as good as practicing law gets it's not good enough for me. And I sort of said okay. I'm in my third year of law school. I'm going to pass the bar. I'm going to do that and then I'll get back up to New York, which was something I wanted to do. I'm from Westchester County and I wanted to live in the city and do that type of thing. So, I went up and I passed the bar up in New York. I ended up practicing with my uncle's law firm Rice & Justice, which cool-sounding law firm.
Steve: It is. Yes. Well, it can also be a buddy cop movie.
Frazer: Yes and a hit movie.
Frazer: It might have even been more successful if they took that on, but we ended up - I ended up doing a lot of banking law and lobbying type of work and had lots of projects in and around New York City with a lot of different folks and that was good, but what it did was it got me up to New York and it got me in a sort of scenario where I could be
productive while I figured out something else to do and I ran into a fellow by the name of Tony Guernsey who started up Wilmington Trust New York office out of his rolodex. He'd worked for JPMorgan and then started UPS' American private banking component and he'd like the idea of lawyers as issue spotters. At the same time, he said, “I hadn't been practicing law so long that my answer to everything was no or it depends.” And so he said, “This is great. I'll tag you together with a managing director here and I learned the ropes with her for about four or five years.” And then she left for another firm and a lot of clients, in fact pretty much all of the clients stayed with me then I was on my own and so basically from a private banking standpoint I took care of the ones I had and I went out and found new ones. And taking care of the ones I had meant sort of dealing with everything from finding miniature ponies for them or getting them out of jail to the more correct things you're supposed to be doing in that role, which is managing their assets and looking out for tax issues and trying to think along with their scenario as it relates to understanding their risks, understanding their goals and figuring out what they needed their wealth to do and try to allocate the resources of the bank to help them do it. And then if the bank didn't have something like that to go out and find it somewhere else, to find the expertise either in a law firm or an insurance company or whatever they needed to do to get their total wealth picture figured out and so that was-
Steve: Or manage your pony farm because you guys already have that in house, I assume.
Frazer: You know, we had to go find something else for that.
Steve: Sub that out, yes, yes.
Frazer: Yes, and the upshot of that is I learned you can actually FedEx a pony so.
Steve: Is that a fact? Wow. Okay. I did not know that.
Frazer: I don’t know if they’re doing it anymore, but they could back then so that-
Steve: We're learning here Awesomers. So, help paint the picture if you will for a typical private banking client you know not any individual, but just help people who aren't familiar with the private banking experience, what that's about and what a typical client looks like.
Frazer: Sure. So, a typical client, usually someone who has built their wealth meaning they have had some success in one field or endeavor or another. They could be a first-round draft choice. They could be a business owner who has sold out. It could be someone who is the beneficiary of a trust who needs help in sort of articulating or figuring out what their next steps are and to sort of help them figure out where their investments can take them. It can be corporate executives. It can be hedge fund people. Interestingly, sometimes people come to a bank, a private bank and they have something very specific that they need. Maybe they need a fixed income manager or they need a corporate trustee in order to effectuate their planning needs and so sometimes you'd have the keys to the whole car and you'd be able to - you know they needed help everywhere and you could be helpful on that front many times especially when you're extremely wealthy you're multiply banked and so there are a lot of different relationships and so maybe you're just one of many or they need you for something specific. And I mean at least at Wilmington and this is true at many other places, we’re very good at sort of investment management and good at certain things within investment management and a good fixed income group to be sure, well known for our corporate trustee work, so when you’re dealing with the state planning and putting structure around wealth for the first generation and then the second generation on down used for a lot of very big insignificant situations there. From a private banking perspective, we're able to lend against things that aren't liquid. So many times people need liquidity, but have things bottled up in their business or you know in a stock portfolio or something like that and so that's what a bank does. They make things liquid that are coming from illiquidity and a lot of clients use that for a lot of different aims. It can be personal or they could be borrowing money off of something else for their investment. And then the fourth major thing that the bank did was or does is they – and this is sort of a catch-all, they provide sort of a softer structure around wealth, things like family governance and sort of establishing value systems, sort of personality tests within family members, building family offices i.e. sort of putting an accounting type spine around a family situation so that you're able to first of all know what the assets are that you have and then second of all make good tax decisions around that because many times the value that we could add is on an after-tax basis and not so much on the investment side of things. Good asset placement, good thinking around taxation and so on and many times you're saving a lot of money. A good example of that for an entrepreneur for instance is if you have a business that you think is going to have an IPO, it might be worth thinking about putting it in a trust in a state that doesn't have state taxes in say Delaware and so if you go in at a low basis and then - and put assets in a trust in a state that doesn't have state capital gains tax and then that thing IPOs suddenly you save in New York any upwards of 10% on capital gains tax for that type of
scenario. So that's one example of something that is worth thinking about for an entrepreneur who is looking at an exit. There are things you can do to set your family up really well on an after-tax basis if you give it some prior thought. That's not to say that everything is bulletproof and that things don't change, they do, but it's something that should be investigated you can't do it after the transactions happen, that's - you've – horse is out of the barn at that point.
Steve: Even the miniature horse could be out of the barn. The reality is people don’t give again enough foresight into this especially if they don't have a background in understanding wealth management right. Many entrepreneurs are scrappy. They're you know they kind of made something from nothing and now they end up again you know the varying size little pot of gold and they don't know what to do with it and just that simple concept of pre-planning you know before an exit and you know can save a considerable amount of money. I have a friend who just sold a business, it's a couple of years back, but you know over $100 million and you know he did fortunately have the foresight to get in there and do some tax planning ahead of time. Had he not done that he would have been spending a lot more money unnecessarily to the various taxing agencies whereas if you set it up right and legal you have no issue, so that's a very salient wisdom. Do you find that's a common part of the wealth management is kind of understanding tax strategies in the future?
Frazer: Oh, it’s - certainly. It's the first thing people think about as it relates to their situations and if you think about income tax, capital gains tax, estate tax, which is something that you'd be surprised at how many successful people don't really think about estate tax that much, but that's - it's something that's very important and then when you have people who are thinking about their philanthropy, which is something that it comes to the fore more and more when people are selling off businesses and from an investment standpoint the ESG phenomena, which is environmental, social and governance factors that's become a much more important part of investment strategy and it's - to call it a trend, I don't want to call it that because I think it belittles a little bit of the concepts that are behind it, but philanthropy is becoming a bigger part of just the general mindset of many entrepreneurs even if they aren't necessarily giving money away to various causes. They're looking at it as to how do I - how does running a company these days – how does incorporating these good factors that investors at this point are looking at and giving credence to and ultimately if you're able to incorporate these good factors into your business, does it function - does it make your business run even better than it would had if otherwise and some statistics indicate that it does. So those components, just to get back to your question and sort of entrepreneurs who sort of drop into a wealth management scenario and what are they looking at and what are they missing when they come to it, you'd be surprised at how many people don't even have a will and so that's - a will or a sort of disability insurance, that type of thing, which I think is sort of good, that's good entrepreneurship anyway 101 as you know if good entrepreneurship in a lot of ways is minimizing risk to the extent that you can as you try to build this thing and minimize the stupid risks that you take, well stupid risks would be not having a will, not having a revocable trust, not having certain things in place in case you die and the thing that you're trying to build all of a sudden dies. Obviously, if you're dead your don’t care, but your family sure does and to see that you don't have keyman insurance or something like that to at least give the thing that you're building a fighting chance to survive your passing, I think that's crazy. The other part too is you know on a disability insurance front for people to not have that in place I think is difficult. You could really put your family in a bad way if you don't have that going. A lot of people you know as an entrepreneur, resources are tight. These are the things that sometimes this is where the cashflow stops first, you feel invincible. Many times entrepreneurs are young. What do I need all this stuff for? It's worth doing and it's good responsible behavior and good - it's a good best practice to have your estate documents at least a little bit done, you know health care proxies, those types of things so that if something happens to you that your family is at least has some sort of way out and some structure you know following your death. And you know, this isn't just relegated to the young. I dealt with a couple of real estate developers whose estate plans were next to zero and you know they were very very wealthy and I said to myself this is crazy I don't even know what happens, what – is this cheats to the state or something and this is real estate and the taxes are going to be enormous. This is going to take years to settle and oh gosh, what are we going to do? But as a good wealth manager is going to go in - and I talked about this in the book, you know it’s sort of a process to think about this stuff or a good, to me a good methodology I sort of borrowed from Bill Frist who's the former Senate Majority Leader and sort of family investor in HCA and a heart surgeon. He said, “Look, you know it's real simple, listen, diagnose, fix.” So, the job of a good wealth manager I think first and foremost is to listen and part of that is gathering information and then once they've gathered as much as they possibly can then the next step is to diagnose the different problems, spot the issues, figure out the things that you know really need to get fixed. Triage them so that you're prioritizing the things that sort of have to get done and things that can get done over time and then sort of wishlist those types of scenarios and then fix, start executing and what does execution mean? You know it can be anything from okay, if someone came to me and this has happened where let's say a hedge fund person is taking a lot of risk in their hedge fund and they feel like they've dialed in their estate planning, they're pretty well settled with that, but they'd like someone to sort of keep an eye on their safe money. Oh, okay, what does that mean? So, you go in and you say, “Okay, how much risk are you willing to take?” And they say, “Well you know treasuries are pretty safe.” I think you know you guys seem confident, you can do more than that. I'd like to do well on an after-tax basis if I can and then you start putting the other, an investment policy statement, that type of scenario for that particular person and that would probably – it’d be extremely narrow compared to most people, but and they'd say, “I want it in fixed income instruments. I'd rather have a lot of immunities. I don't really need anything in corporate debt, but let's say we'll put a little bit there.” You build some guardrails around that so that you figure out which way to go and that's one way to do it. So you fix, so listen, diagnose, fix and then the other part, the next part of the cycle in my world is to anticipate. So, the really good wealth manager is on top of your situation, is meeting with you somewhat consistently and is listening for the things that are changing in your life. For the entrepreneur, it could be the sale of a business. For some people, birth of a child. It could be the death of a parent. It could be a parent going into a nursing home. It could be a lot of different things. It used to be for the super-wealthy. It's sort of birth, marriage, divorce, sale of business, death and those are the things that got mentioned in the newspaper and those are the times that they'd come calling necessarily and you'd sort of figure that out. These days depending on the level of wealth that you have it can be the scenario of geez, you know I've lost my job. My income stream has dropped, how do I shift my investments around so that I and my family can survive this for the next set of months while I find a new job and how do I do this so that I don't put myself in a bigger pickle. If the stock market drops, have I been – am I adversely affected? Now hopefully there's some forethought that's gone into that and a big change in the market doesn't adversely affect too much, but that's the type of thing that a good wealth manager I think takes a look at and says, “Okay, this is something that needs to be addressed. You may be taking more risk on than you think you need.” Maybe you're not taking enough risk, that you're not – your assets aren't going to grow to the extent that you'd like them to so that you can enjoy a good retirement or that you want to fulfill the legacy goals that you have going forward.
Steve: There's so many pieces to the puzzle right and this is one of the things I talk about from time to time, which is experts make a difference right. I will never be a wealth expert because people like Frazer that's their whole deal, that's what they like to do. He’s written a book on it so you know he's good. Having experts who can help you and navigate this you know whatever new worlds are and I have experts of every kind right, all kinds of lawyers and different kinds of financial people and operations people and supply chain people, you know the best entrepreneurs I think build that team around them and you alluded to this earlier, you know how do you solve the problem. You don't have to do it all yourself. It just starts with you taking some action and get some experts. I definitely want to make a general call to action for Awesomers out there. If you don't have a will, it's time to get one. You know, get on the ball. I know we're all invincible. We're never going to die. I know myself you know I won't die, but the rest of you who will die you guys need a will and let's make sure we get one of those and then you know and just start thinking about the other things disability insurance and some of those other things that are just they happen over time. People get disabled. I'm sure you know the statistics and things like that, but you know people who have the lightning bolts in their lives and they're not prepared, it makes it much tougher to get through. I'm sure you've encountered some of those lightning bolts that happen to people. They weren't prepared and it was much more challenging for them. Is that true?
Frazer: It's hard even if you are prepared. I think you know an example of that is when people have parents who are you know they're going to have to start taking care of going forward and I mean the statistic is something - you know the last two months of life are more expensive than you know the previous sort of 90% or 95% of life just on a medical basis. You know, it's those types of things you can build and you can build as much of that into your thinking as possible and it's still really expensive.
Frazer: And so to hearken back on to your earlier point, for a lot of entrepreneurs I think - some entrepreneurs have done it themselves, but entrepreneurship is a team sport. Invariably you have people advising you. You certainly have lawyers and accountants and so on who are helping you do this. You have - many people have a board of advisers. They come from a variety of different groups to kind of help them figure things out. Many times you have people helping you to raise money, all sorts of different jobs that are necessary in order to get something off the ground and make it successful and not only to get it sort of successful early, but then to scale it going forward. So, I would say that as you're graduating into a new set of wealth going forward, I would take those principles of teamwork that you've relied on from the peer groups that you've joined, from the friends that you've - that aren't part of your industry let's say, but have gone through similar types of things or bring different types of expertise to it, I would - I talk about this a little bit in the book where the idea of creating your own shadow cabinet in a sense and I borrow that from a government standpoint, so you have sort of the typical cabinet and then the president has a bunch of other people that he talks to that aren't part of the formal structure that help to figure things out, I think that's extremely useful. You know, I guess one of the statements is that you know when you read a book you get the benefit of somebody's whole life experience and so by the same token I think if you construct a board around you and a sense have you know whether it's your wealth manager or your lawyer, your accountant or something, but having a personal CFO I think that helps on a strict financial basis. I think that helps sort of helps you, you the entrepreneur think through the different issues that you have, borrow from a lot of experiences and avoid the rookie mistakes that many other people might have made and incorporate that into your own decision-making going forward and I think that that's a good, I think that's a good best practice. And as it relates to finding good advisers there's lots of different tips to doing it, certainly referrals from friends who have had good experience is a good way to do it. I like the idea of having a two-pronged approach. The first prong is to get referrals of people who’ve had success with either a different wealth manager or estate planning attorney or accountant or whatever you need on that front, but by the same token I think it's worth making the institutions hustle a little bit for your business and requesting an RFP, a request for proposal and to see what the formal response is to something like that as opposed to just having someone come in and you know set up an account for you and kind of hope from there. I think forcing institutions to go through a little bit of a formal exercise with you, first of all you'll get a lot of clarity on fees and I think that's always an important thing when you're dealing with any vendors, you want to understand what you're paying and what you're getting for it, but that it's having those two sets of data points is going to help you assemble a really good team.
Steve: Yes. Boy again, really really solid wisdom there. I hope people are paying close attention. We're going to take a quick break, but when we come back now that we framed up the problem we're going to talk about how do we go about fixing the problem and how do we start addressing some of these things maybe before they have occurred, before an exit and so forth. We're going to do that right after this break.
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Steve: Okay. I suppose we're back again and we've got Frazer Rice. He's telling us everything we need to know about wealth management and the number one takeaway is we should go buy this book Wealth Actually, is that correct?
Frazer: Actually, correct, that's correct.
Steve: All right, Well Actually and I assume we could buy this on Amazon, yes?
Frazer: That's right, Kindle and paperback.
Steve: Okay, wonderful. So, we're going to get on that and we're going to get that done and then after we read it we're going to leave a nice review because Awesomers pay it forward, that's what we do. And this is an important type of thing for entrepreneurs to consider and I'm really glad that you're here to help kind of walk us through the preparation and then the you know the considerations that we need to think about. So, we've talked in general about this premise that maybe the framing of the problem is that entrepreneurs often don't have enough preparation or don't have enough foresight to really put this stuff into play and now I wonder if you can give us some general advice. You've talked about maybe building a Board of Advisers and seeking out counsel and so forth, is there anything that we would do to start addressing the problem earlier, but maybe on a more holistic level or some other tactics that you could recommend?
37:40 (Frazer recommends other financial tactics to Awesomers.)
Frazer: Sure. You know really the technical aspects of it are the easiest. I think the idea of you know once you sort of understand I need a will, I need a trust, I need to do this to get this to my beneficiaries and it goes in a tax-free way, that to me is the easy stuff. I think the real issue I think you know the concept of and what I just described is getting the money ready for the family and that's - many times that's technical, maybe there's some complication to it, but usually it's surmountable. The more difficult part and I think the part that's really worth spending some time on for the entrepreneur and maybe is something that's counterintuitive would be the idea of getting the family ready for the money as much as getting the money ready for the family and so what do I mean by that? One of the - I think one of the chief threats to wealth is the concept of miscommunication within the family. For the entrepreneur especially one who's starting from in a sort of humbler backgrounds and for whom this is new, this is something that is not necessarily apparent. The comment shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations comes to mind and what that means is essentially that the first generation makes the money, the second generation enjoys it and then the third generation ultimately loses it. What happens especially for larger families is that as the families get bigger and by that I mean geometrically bigger, the assets hopefully are growing linearly and at a certain point and those are a lot of mouths to feed and the assets can't keep up with that over time. What we're talking is a generational phenomenon. It's been discovered across different cultures. Over in Asia, it's rice paddy to rice paddy. In England, I believe it's clogs to clogs, shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves. It's something that - it's an old maxim and a line in our industry. Jay Hughes re-popularized it a few decades ago and it's just true. You can't go from having a sort of a husband wife and then three, you know three kids and then those three kids have three kids and etc. etc. Ultimately, you can't - the wealth can't keep up with that over time. It's just I think it's physically impossible. So, what you're trying to do in terms of getting the family ready for the money is avoid the inter-sibling warfare that sometimes happens or the production of trust fund kids who are not productive in their own right, that is where the entrepreneur I think has to really take a look at and understand what he's looked - what he has in terms of a family, what he has in terms of the structure as it relates to are there - is there someone with a special needs issue, are there people with different aptitudes who are either thinking about taking over the business, are there people who are entitled, do they get into or are there drug issues, their spending habit issues. These are the softer sides of wealth management where we try to help the entrepreneur or the client – it doesn't have to be an entrepreneur necessarily, maybe they've got their money from some other source, but try to get them to understand that in planning and structuring for the next generation that there may be a lot of very qualitative issues that have to go into place that the technical side they're getting the money ready for the family part in place that it has to address. And what I tried to talk to clients about is the fact that you can't necessarily put a structure in place that is going to be perfect for all situations. Life intervenes. You know, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. You’re going to have someone who develops cancer. You have someone who wins the lottery. You could have a whole bunch of things that in an estate plan can't articulate. It can't articulate against all eventualities. So then the other thing I try to put into place is the concept that this is a living breathing thing that has to be revisited and it has - it should be revisited fairly frequently. By that I mean at a minimum every five years. I would say you know for the truly obsessive, every one year is probably fine, but for most folks even if you don't have any particular changes in family structure or anything like that there are legal changes, so Trump coming into office created a whole bunch of scenarios and not least of which the expansion of the Federal tax - estate tax exemption, that is something that that's changed estate planning for a lot of people. And so for a married couple I believe it's a little over $20 - it's $22 million in an exemption, that's a lot of money and to not take advantage of that and to let that sit may be stupid because it's going to sunset in 2025. So that's something where anytime I would argue that any life event is worthy of a look at your estate plan, life events you know births, marriages, deaths, sale of business, divorces, those types of things where you have a real transition of wealth it's worth making sure that your estate plan is in place on that, but the other one is to keep your eye a little bit on the news as it relates to changes in tax law because those types of things may either provide an opportunity that you want to take advantage of or a scenario that you've got to be careful of and make sure that your plan is to the extent possible bulletproofed against that kind of eventuality.
Steve: Well, yes. That's a good reminder that there's both the internal factors, the family and the life changes, but the external factors, tax law and government changes and things like that and they could make quite a difference obviously depending on the nature of the situation right. Somebody could find a vast difference in that new exemption versus the prior exemption, which as I recall was much much lower, maybe 10 times lower if I'm right.
Frazer: Yes. It was 5 million per person, so a married couple they got up to about 11 million when indexed for inflation, but yes so those types of things and then you know for any entrepreneur at this point I mean the tax law changes as it relates to things that are deductible on an income tax level and you know which structures you know do you incorporate, do you have a partnership, that type of thing that all of that is being worked at right now and you know with the same vigor that you protect your business from those income tax scenarios and making sure that you can deduct things and take advantage of whatever credits you can, it's worth doing that on a personal level because I think ultimately when you sell the business and you start other businesses or do other things you're left with the structure of the wealth that you have as it relates to your family and to sort of hide or stick your head in the sand on that could create a lot of issues and undo a lot of the good that you did in terms of producing a good business.
Steve: Yes, that's the part that I definitely hope that we can have folks out there take advantage of the idea of pre-planning and thinking ahead about this stuff and avoid those unwelcome lightning bolts that happen. As you said, life does happen. You know, things are going to happen that you know we don't expect and we don't anticipate, but to - if at least to the greatest extent possible if we can anticipate and plan we'll be better off in the long run in my opinion. So, I think that's something that you know entrepreneurs or anybody you know who finds himself in a wealth management situation, you gave a number of examples you know. Somebody who you know just you know first-round draft pick they just got you know basically rich, somebody who's already you know kind of trusted they're being managed or have their wealth managed by somebody else and there's other scenarios that exist I'm sure, so the - you know, I guess my question for you as you think about you know people starting to apply this, the fix to the problem, do they - is there a way for them to make it easier? Obviously, my advice would be to start by reading your book at least get us some foundation and then once they read the book will they have some calls to action in there?
Frazer: Sure. Well, I think there are a few different things too that are useful. I think the first one is to - from a call to action standpoint, from an entrepreneurship perspective, I think having a good set of understanding what makes you tick and what your value system is is a good thing because that will help you realize what you want to transfer to the next generation. Do you want your kids to start from nothing? Do you want them to have every advantage possible? Do you want them to have some advantages or some strings tied to it? Do you want them to have the incentive to do things? Do you want them to be taken care of without having to do anything at all? That's a personal decision and it's something that any you know estate planning attorney or accountant or when they're - when you're starting to think about this they're going to want to know the answer to that because that's going to drive a lot of the different types of planning that they do for you. I would say one of the most important things you can do is a good call to action is it's you know I think one of the really good things you can do for your kids and your spouse is to make sure that everyone has a similar grounded level of financial literacy and what do I mean by that? Many wealth managers will take you through an education process if you want it and many times you have a bunch of kids who have their eyes glazed over once you start saying stocks versus bonds and you know they want to do something else or they want to play fortnight or do whatever, so sort of the traditional ways of doing good things as it relates to financial literacy is sometimes you have to kind of sneak in through the back door to teach these lessons and so I have a couple concepts at least to sort of give kids a little bit of an idea of how to work together in understanding what their strengths and weaknesses are and families in general and I think one of them the first one from an allowance standpoint, and this is something you can do very early, I got this from a golf pro actually and I'd said aside from curing my slice you managed to give me something I can think about here, the idea from an allowance standpoint if you give someone - if you give one of your kids $5 dollars in allowance to take back $2 to help them understand the impact of taxes and it's just it's a very simple stupid little thing, but at the same time I think it gets the point across that just making $5 is great, but there's a bigger world out there and look I'm sort of a limited government guy generally speaking, but you need to pay taxes in order to make the infrastructure work and make sure you have a functioning you know country, state, city town, etc. just to understand that that's part of what you do and so that's one little exercise. Another exercise that I think is interesting that teaches kids, and I got this from a colleague at Wilmington Trust, that it teaches kids the idea of working together and also some accountability principles is the idea of taking a pool of money for a family vacation. Let’s say you had $1,000 and say you had three kids, to take the three - to have the three kids invest the money for the vacation. And so if you do well, you own a better vacation. If you tanked, it's a staycation. But the kids - a couple of good things happen with this. The first part is that the kids they're learning investment principles and so over you know they'll learn the idea of sort of bubble stocks, fixed income, being conservative, being diversified, you can teach a lot of different things in there. The thing that really helps out though is it helps them make decisions together and one of the real scary things that I've seen in wealth management generally speaking is that sometimes for the kids the first times they really even talk about money occur when the estate getting settled, when the father dies or the mother dies or whenever that happens. And so when you're learning about doing these things and you're making these decisions together for the first time in an emotionally fraught scenario like that, boy it gets ugly and it also creates a situation where if there's a lot of resentment or if there are issues where one has been favored over another or you know all sorts of slights perceived and then perceived and real or not real they come to the fore and that infighting is the fastest way to watch wealth evaporate, that's when litigation happens and that's when bad things occur. So that first part where you talk about you know the idea of having a family vacation pool and having the kids invested, you're teaching them investment principles, you're getting them to communicate with each other about money and then finally the other third part is they're accountable. You know, if there's no money in the fund, you're not doing it. So, you know the parents have to buy into it too, but you know I think it's an interesting family exercise. The second family exercise is the idea of shared philanthropy or the idea where you get - let's say you have three kids and $4 to give away. Well, you give each kid $1 to give away and that tells - it gives you a lot of data points about what's important to kids, the kids individually. One wants to give to cancer research. One wants to save the whales. One wants to you know create clean water in Africa or something like that, that's neat. The fourth dollar is interesting because if you have that be a group decision making process you get the family working together to give that last dollar away. It's a great way to transmit family values from an older generation to the next generation and it's another way for the family to work together on something around money and move it forward. And I think that's just - those are three exercises that I think from an entrepreneur’s perspective they're simple, they're small, they don't deal with the business and it's a backdoor way to really teach kids a lot of different financial concepts that a typical lecture course is never going to quite get to and we use that - I use those examples all the time and some families use them, some don't. They get going you know along the way and you know sometimes it's more work than it's worth, but I think it's a good set of things to impart.
Steve: Oh boy, those are really fun ideas. So, first of all, I do want to share kind of just a little side story. So, I have a very dear friend and you know his family was quite wealthy, but there was some of this sibling infighting and it turns out there's even a bonus family they didn't know about in another city. They had another $100 million of wealth built up. And when the patriarch passed away, there was no clear will. There was no clear - and there's a over a billion dollars worth of money up for grabs and so it was just a fight and litigation and contention and you know family relationships are you know strained at best and ruined at worst and to me it's an unfortunate situation because they could have done things like working together. I love these. These are actually very clever ideas about creating alignment and creating the development of skills that are necessary in kids to manage future wealth and things like that, so a really really good advice. When we come back after this break, I'm going to tell you about the diet tax that I've been imposing for years. You're going to love it. We'll be right back after this.
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Steve: Okay gang, we're back again. Steve Simonson here with Frazer Rice and we're talking about wealth and all the ways to spend money and as promised I'm going to give you my own version of the diet tax. Now, I'm no golf pro, but I'll tell you. When Halloween candy shows up, dad's going to get 33% of that candy and this is the first lesson my kids got about taxation and they were not fans I can assure you, but they totally understand the diet tax exists and the candy will be paid to the house. And this very idea that you brought up, which is a similar concept of you know go ahead and give them an allowance, but take some back for the tax or the house money or you know call it the diet tax, whatever you want, I think it's very clever because otherwise - I remember when I got my first paycheck I was outraged at who’s FUTA and FICA and all these other bastards who have taken my money. I hated it.
Frazer: That’s right.
Steve: And I was surprised I was only making minimum wage and all these guys have their hands in my pocket. So, I agree with you. You know, everybody is going to have to pay in on some level, but let's make sure that we manage it and we understand it so. As we start to look at this in a big picture basis, I love those calls to action, do you think there's something that you know beyond the wills or beyond the you know lack of estate planning, some other common thread that runs in the cases that you've seen something that people could solve or work together to create a solution?
Frazer: Well, one of the things that you know we've sort of taken for granted the idea of the entrepreneurs are all going to have these exits, that they're going to sell the business and that they're you know if they're going to have a liquidity event and then move on and then the business is completely out of the family. One of the things that and I talked about just before with those exercises and the kids learning to deal with money together either on a philanthropic or a vacation basis or on other fronts is the idea that you're gathering data points and you're gathering understanding amongst the siblings as to what they're good at and not good at and what they're interested in and not interested in and so that can pay a lot of benefits to the entrepreneur when he or she has to understand from a business succession standpoint who is going to run the business going forward. I think one of the things that has been a recurring theme for a lot of clients and colleagues and so on that I've watched is the idea that business succession who is going to own the business going forward and then a close cousin to the concept of who is going to run the business going forward and these are things that as an entrepreneur you're so busy many times getting the thing up and running and meeting payroll and you know I got 10 competitors or I got 12 and wait a minute is the internet going to blow up my business model or that type of thing, that you don't really see it, but especially for those who are sort of looking at retirement, trying to figure out you know how do I cash out of my business and at the same time treat my kids the way I want them to be treated and then at the same time for the ones who have been interested in running the business, the ones who can participate if they want and at the same time make sure the ones that have the aptitude for running the business that they're the ones running the business so that the gravy train doesn't blow up, that's where you want those exercises, those discussions, those thoughts you want that to happen as early as possible because I think you - that when I talked about miscommunication or lack of communication being a significant threat to wealth, you don't have to wait for the patriarch or matriarch to die for that to happen. It can happen on that business succession standpoint where someone you know let's say you had a car dealership or something like that and you had three kids and one of them was a real gearhead and understood mechanics, but didn't really understood - didn't really understand the way you know to deal with an auto floor plan and how to sell cars and all that stuff and you have someone who went off to become an artist and then you had someone who kind of you know went off and worked for GM and is now coming back, that's the type of thing where you say okay, here's how - these are the skills that I need in order for this business to succeed going forward. And the kids, you want to make sure the kids understand why that is and that there's buy-in to the plan and that's where having those exercises early and often on things that don't matter let's call it as much, but are - you know but can be important and teach accountability, the more exercises like that you can have, the more success you have - more of a probability of success you have as you sort of move the business forward and this is really important when you have people who are interested or interested in the income let's say, but not necessarily interested in actually going to work and you know making sure that everything – that the trains are running on time and all that stuff, and if you have to hire somebody else to come in that's outside of the family to run things going forward. That's an important distinction and that can cause a lot of hurt feelings even if it's the right decision. You have a greater chance of getting past that fulcrum event if you've had those discussions and the kids innately understand what they're good at and not good at and how the communication works between the two and and ultimately understanding what their aptitudes and interests are going forward, so that when you put into place business succession plans and then ultimately estate plans for when you're finally gone, there's some understanding and context as to where those came from. The situations I think that caused the most blow-ups are when it's a bit of a surprise and you know mom or dad comes in, so it's like you know the business I'm bringing in so and so to run it. I'm giving so and so you know this amount and so and so this amount and so and so this amount because of XYZ reason then the kids are going wait a minute, where did that come from and you know if they've relied on the notion that something is always going to be there for them or that something big was going to be waiting for them at a certain moment and that doesn't happen, that is a very tough scenario to fix and that can - and that ultimately could lead to the fissure of the family long-term and then you get back to the shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves scenario where people aren't pooling their talents and resources in order to build you know a sort of a family dynasty to the extent you can.
Steve: Boy, I definitely agree with that. The Blind Side may be a great movie, but it's a terrible tactical method to manage your wealth. You do not want to blind side your family and your kids and without planning ahead again, you are leaving it to chance. And again, we all feel were invincible and you know who among us wants to sit down and plan. It's very macabre situation to do your will and talk about well what if you know what if you have one arm, what are you going to do? What if you have no arms? It's not a great scenario to go through, but it is just part of life. We have to deal with it. So, Frazer before we wrap up and we're going to make sure that we give the book a little more of a shine on it here at the end, but I just wonder if you can pull out your crystal ball and tell me what's going to happen with cryptocurrencies huh, the cryptocurrency it's a big thing.
Steve: What's the deal with that?
1:02:45 (Frazer shares his thought on cryptocurrency.)
Frazer: My sure answer is I don't know, so my crystal ball is cloudy. I've got some thoughts on that though. So from a cryptocurrency standpoint, I think you know sort of the Bitcoins and Ethereums and so on will continue to persist. I think people are going to get a little antsy with the volatility around that and you know it's really pulled back recently. I think the thing that troubles me about cryptocurrency is that you have the confidence in the currency and therefore its validity lies basically in the algorithm that underpins it. Bitcoin and Ethereum and Ripple and the others are I mean they're - it's really brilliant what's going on there, but the confidence therefore the value behind the currency is shaky. I think cryptocurrency you will see - I think in general terms you're going to see it well adapted when people start taking cryptocurrency in exchange for real estate. That to me is the fulcrum moment, that when people are willing to give up their house or give up land or something for cryptocurrency, you'd know it has arrived. The close cousin of that I think is that there are a lot of different cryptocurrencies out there that have a let's say a traditional currency backing or a base like a dollar-based cryptocurrency and I think that those are going to be interestingly - I think those are going to be in some ways be adapted first by the traditional banking system as a way to sort of reduce the friction between transactions. So the close cousin to cryptocurrency and what underpin the technology that underpins it is Blockchain, that to me is going to have a seismic impact on all sorts of industries, banking for one. I think the traditional banking back-office job is going to be substantially changed within the next 10 years. I think industry - the industries that could be impacted by it are innumerable. An example for instance title insurance. If you have a piece of property with all the information that goes from one person to another and it goes through a Blockchain scenario, title insurance is going to be completely impacted. You're not really going to need it that much and so or at the very least it's going to have to be completely rethought. I think the concept of you know securities you know everything related to the sort of stocks and bonds world and if Blockchain could make that just so much easier and frictionless, that's going to be a big deal, medical records. You could go on and on and on and there is a place for Blockchain and all of that. So, I mean it's – unfortunately, it's a big word with a lot of big concepts around it, but I think an interesting thing - I mean I'm not really here to talk about investment themes that are going to be unbelievable going forward, but you know for people who can find you know sort of a good manager or someone who's able to find good Blockchain investments that are going to be part of the infrastructure of the U.S. and world economy going forward, I think I - to me that, I think that makes a lot of sense.
Steve: Yes, very attractive. So, I love that, a great answer to my curveball question. I just felt that you know you'd have a unique perspective and by the way you know whatever happens with crypto nobody knows, but that foundation of Blockchain is indisputably valuable and indisputably world-changing and all the industries you mentioned plus so many others from supply chain management to logistics, all of these things, it's extraordinary powerful and I’d try to buy it for sure and I love that general investment concept of saying hey, who are the people who are going to be in that Blockchain and you know who are going to help change the world. I think that's very smart indeed. So, let's talk about your book. It's already out as of August 2018, so people can go buy it.
Steve: Now, what happens if they go to your website?
Frazer: So, if you go to wealthactually.com, there are hopefully a lot of buttons where you can click on it and buy it. It'll take you directly to Amazon and you can go and you can get it on Kindle or paperback. And for the people who bought it, reported back to me the paperback comes to you very quickly.
Steve: Yes, excellent. I definitely – so, I'm a big fan. I usually will buy both the Kindle and the paperback. There's times where I'm sitting at home I just want to have that tangible book and then times when I travel I still want to be able to see it on the Kindle, so no reason you can't buy two everybody. I for sure want to make sure that people really take a moment to let this soak in a little bit. You know, everything that we do we're doing to build equity. Sometimes it’s intellectual equity. Sometimes it's you know tangible wealth equity, you know financial equity and if there is a - whether it's a succession plan as you talked about earlier or if it is an exit liquidity event, having a plan, having a concept of what that looks like afterwards is such a huge opportunity for folks out there and I really appreciate you taking the time to come and help educate us a bit here today.
Frazer: A total thrill for me to be on. This has been a really cool discussion.
Steve: Yes. I definitely am far smarter than I was before and I will say one more time you guys can go to wealthactually.com. You can find the link over to Amazon there, buy the book and again Frazer's not asking for this, but I'm suggesting as a pay it forward guy read the book, leave a review. It's the right thing to do. It's not that hard and all of us who develop our own private brands and our own products and we're always wishing we had reviews, this is one of the times you can actually pay it forward, so let's do that. Frazer thanks again.
Frazer: Steve, thank you very much.
Steve: Yes. It's certainly my pleasure to have you and you know we'll probably talk to you again one of these times when we decided we want to go on an investment rant or a Blockchain or something else.
Frazer: Find me. I'll be right there for you.
Steve: I love it. All right. Thanks again. We'll be right back after this Awesomers.
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Steve: Well, it's very clear to me and I suppose it should be clear to you that Frazer is a very capable knowledge and authority in this particular area of wealth management and I have already ordered his book. I can't wait to read it and I just can't say enough about the ideas that Frazer and I discussed about preparation and about information and you know it seems like one of those problems. It's like oh, that's a Cadillac problem. You know, I'll be lucky if I have that problem of how to deal with wealth and finance and so on and so forth, but I really do want to encourage you guys to be on the front end of this equation because the more you visualize how to deal with it, the more you prepare, the more likely you are to have it come true to be quite honest. And most of all, I think you'll be in a better position to manage you know that accumulation of wealth and some of the things that again are unexpected you know. You don't want to have a trust fund baby who's, you know, somebody who's just not paying attention and not engaged in the world. You want to make sure that your family is still okay and that there's a legacy that you can create as a result of your big payoff so to speak. So, there's so many things involved in this wealth management. I'm glad Frazer was here to join us. I hope you are too. Don't forget this has been Episode number 40 of the Awesomers.com podcast and to go check out relevant show notes and details, just go to Awesomers.com/40.
Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.