The Values Based Mindset Experience

Season 2 - Episode 8 with Mike Powers from Manuka Financial

November 08, 2021 Mike Garrison Season 2 Episode 8
The Values Based Mindset Experience
Season 2 - Episode 8 with Mike Powers from Manuka Financial
Show Notes Transcript

Mike is a rare breed, dual designated as a CPA and as a CFP.  Not a common occurrence and yet it's perfect for his vision of how to serve clients and his values.  We talked about the origin of his firms name, how a job loss in his family shaped his view of finances and about some of the great restaurants in Richmond.

Mike Garrison (00:03):

All right, everybody welcome to the values-based mindset experience. And this is where hopefully we let other people talk. As opposed to me, my name's Mike Garrison, I'm your faithful host. I'm a coach who went through a lot of adversity and the values-based mindset system is basically how I pulled myself out of a deep dark hole. And then I became really interested in how do other people use values? What are those things that when, when all the chips are down, that you'll come out of the corner swinging. So today's guest is Mike Powers. Mike goes a really cool business. Who's named, he will share with you. I can spell it, but I'm not sure I can say it, even though you had the phonetic thing on the website. I appreciate that Mike, but anyways, Mike, why don't you introduce everybody to yourself?

Mike Powers (00:51):

Yeah, sure. So it's today, it's the Mike and Mike show, I guess Mike and Mike. My name is Mike Powers. I am the founder of menuca financial. It's a financial planning firm based in Richmond, Virginia, but I just launched five months ago in May, 2021. And I'm also a proud father of two awesome kids.

Mike Garrison (01:12):

That's awesome, man. So just for, everybody's a pleasure enlisting Mike and I were raving about different restaurants in Richmond. I always end up asking people about restaurants because I live in Roanoke and we actually have some good ones. Now we just don't have nearly as many as I grew up used to in DC. So it's always interesting to live vicariously. Anyways, Mike, why don't you, first of all, the, the, the story about the name of your is interesting. So let's go ahead and get that off the shelf. Why did you name it? But Nuka I say it right? Yeah.

Mike Powers (01:48):

So you did. Yeah. So Monica was probably the it probably was the 101st name that I, that I came up with as as, as, as probably some people in the audience will know. It is very hard to find that a business name that you can really relate to, that your clients can relate to and can hopefully pronounce and the domain name is available. So that's what the hunter menuca financial met all those, but the really the background behind that is that my wife and I love to travel and especially international travel. And the last big trip that we took before our daughter was born about five years ago now was to Australia and New Zealand to visit my, my aunt and uncle who I've lived out there for probably 30 years or so. And menuca is actually a, a common tree in New Zealand.

Mike Powers (02:40):

Many people have probably heard of the popular menuca honey, it's a high end honey that has supposedly some health benefits, but th the Maori people who are the indigenous people of New Zealand, they actually use menuca Bart to ha actually have a calming effect and a relaxing effect on the body and mind, and it's supposed to enhance sleep. So the goal is that, and working with me and kind of helping to, to really think through your finances and really provide some, some peace of mind to the clients and the families that I work with and really allow them to hopefully sleep better at night, as they transition from, especially the extrapolation stage to the de cumulation stage and kind of transitioning to that retirement at whatever time in their life they choose to do so.

Mike Garrison (03:28):

So cool. Thanks for sharing that, man. So I'm going to hold the story, that really cool story about your dad just for a little bit later. Okay. I want to talk a little bit about values and social, because that's how we met each other. Right. I met Mike on LinkedIn by comments, another guy, I think it was Andy panko.

Mike Powers (03:50):


Mike Garrison (03:52):

There's just this small minority of us that have some rather fringe beliefs about that are totally related to values about how shall we say transparency should be involved in the fees. It's financial planning. So like you've got some really cool interactions on social about what you're passionate about. If you can kind of distill Mike, why you chosen to operate and structure your form the way you have because of values, if you wouldn't mind unpacking that a little bit.

Mike Powers (04:33):

Yeah. Yeah. So I guess some of the, some of the big values that I have been lived with not only professionally, but also of course, personally, it was just number one, to be honest, number two, to be completely transparent. Financial advisors are always kind of compared to the used car salesman for better, for worse, for better, for worse. And, and, and I am incredibly passionate about the industry and I came from the public accounting side. So I came from an industry that was, I would say, just in the, in the general scheme of things, maybe a little bit higher regarded than the financial financial advising industry. And so when I transitioned to it, I always really wanted to, to focus on what was best for the client and not what was best for me. I knew if, if you do the right thing, if you, if you truly are honest and open and transparent, long-term, everything will work out.

Mike Powers (05:34):

Even if that means you don't take on some clients who may not be, who might pay you quite a bit of money, but maybe are not the right fit for either some of their own values or your values. And there's a mismatch there and not being able to guide each other. So, so I've always wanted to do well, right. I'm really, really huge. And to relationships and the people are important in my life, not only on the client side, but just really try to make sure it's staying close relationship with them. And Mike, I'm sure as, you know, as we, as we get older, our worlds tend to get a little bit smaller. And I think it takes effort to really keep those relationships going and, and really do kind of go above and beyond. It's not like you're in a class with 25 or 30 other kids your age, you know, when you're in high school or you're not in a dorm, you know, with a bunch of other kids that are your age and in college as we get older, that those worlds shrink, unless we make a true effort to keep it, to keep them up.

Mike Powers (06:29):

So those are really the values that I feel like have, have, have really run my life in addition to frugality and flexibility, which we can talk about if you'd like to as well, which, which, which goes pretty pretty in line with, with the client base that I traditionally serve.

Mike Garrison (06:45):

Absolutely. I noticed you don't do AUM.

Mike Powers (06:50):

I don't, I I did, and I did for years. So in full disclosure, I worked for AUM traditional AUM firms leading up to the launch of a NewCo financial. I actually was taught out of going, going flat fees and staying at M when I launched launched a new firm. And I've been interested in the flat fee model for probably six years now. You may have heard of, of James Osborne out of bath and asset management, he's a firm out of divider out of based out of Colorado. He was on some, some podcasts and had some blog posts about him over the years. But once I heard kind of the rationale between, you know, flat fee versus say you it completely resonated with me, it completely made sense to me. And so, as I've, as I've launched the firm and gotten to know so many great people around the country, what I realize is that I need to do what I think is right and not what necessarily is right from a business standpoint, or would have unlimited growth or, or what have you.

Mike Powers (07:57):

And so I really had to, to really do some soul searching there and think about what was best for best for my clients. And I knew that if I did that, it would all work out. And so I switched to flat fees, not only for, for financial planning and tax prep, but also for asset management. And that was probably five or six weeks ago. And it has been a a busy five or six weeks since, since that, since that happened. So it's all work, it's all worked out. So so far, at least in this story,

Mike Garrison (08:28):

That's awesome. It's it's I always say is never in the history of legal work has so much money been earned by clicking a butter, a button once a quarter, never is so much money, which is basically my take on the AOM business model, because I, you know, I've, I've been a coach in the industry for decades. I was, you know, I wasn't advisor and I have 24, so I supervise them. And I hate to say it, you know, most, most advisors that are strictly AUM, if you really audited, this should appeal to you as a CPA. If you really audited the actual time spent working on that client's account and divided it into the amount of fees, especially for high net worth clients, it's shocking, absolutely shocking. The highest per hour I've seen is $2,000 per hour annually.

Mike Powers (09:29):

Yeah. And my guess is that it's, it goes higher than that, depending on, depending on the client, but, but you're, you're absolutely right, Mike and, and there are so many variables that go into that you certainly can have higher net worth clients that require a tremendous more amount more of, or of attention or complexity or so on and so forth. You could have the same thing with a million dollar client, two clients that have a million dollars of assets under management could be completely different on a client service standpoint.

Mike Garrison (10:00):

If I was going to sum it up, Mike, I'd say, I do not believe that one client's fee she subsidized higher service for another client. Yep.

Mike Powers (10:10):


Mike Garrison (10:10):

Agree. Yeah. And that's, I I've had my CPA has been a client of mine for a long time. Coaching client, not financial services. And like, I can not tell you because by the way, I'm pivoting to the CPA CFP designation. Now I can't tell you how many times we have had discrete conversations, meaning no personally identifying information, but screen confirmations about incredibly fluent financial advisors that destroy clients taxes.

Mike Powers (10:49):

Yes. It's

Mike Garrison (10:52):


Mike Powers (10:56):

Mike. I have a, I have a good story for me. I'm not sure. I sure I should share it or not, but I'll share it anyway. So it is incredibly helpful having a CPA designation, just like an enrolled agent explanation or some other kind of tax specific designation. And if you have tax prep experience, it's even more helpful just actually seeing the end result of this versus what a theoretical or a financial planning software will spit out. You really will notice a difference. 

Mike Powers (11:29):

Yeah, I mean, I was, I was a quick story goes, I was in a, a continue education event here a few years ago and they were talking about Roth conversions and a gentleman Ray, raise his hand and asked, you know, what, well, there's income limits on Roth convert, you know, there's income limits on conversions. You can't do it over whatever the dollar threshold is. And unfortunately that, that income threshold had been, had gone away, I think, seven or eight years before he said that. So therefore all of the clients that he was serving for seven or eight years should have potentially been taking Roth conversions and were potentially even talked out of it because of that. So you really have to know what you're doing. And I think that's why having multiple designations and having the tax experience really can make you a very, very powerful financial planner and financial advisor.

Mike Garrison (12:24):

I wish Mike, I didn't have 50 or more stories just like that, but I did.

Mike Garrison (12:34):

I mean, primarily I coach financial advisors, right? I love the profession, I think done well. It's one of the greatest impacts on multi-generations you can experience done badly. It's one of the greatest impacts you can have multi-generations experience, you know, and I was just like, at least 10 times a year, at least 10 times a year, I run across a story about an absolute nightmare on the capital gain side, just complete and just malpractice by the advisor. And there's very little that can be done by the client. And this is why I'm so passionate about doing these podcasts and getting advisors like you out there that are going to give clients a chance to move past all the branding and marketing and get into like, what do I really need to know when I'm picking an advisor? And I always say like, you know, all plans are equal until you have contact with the enemy,

Mike Powers (13:35):


Mike Garrison (13:37):

Unfortunately I think most, and I'm going to say advisory relationships, most advisory relationships, aren't really stress tested in the beginning. The intake process is more social and I don't mean that in a bad way, but more social and analytical. And so unfortunately with, with retirement and things like that, especially if you're in that five-year window pre retirement, or that even three to four year window post retirement, you know, that's where mistakes can, could be magnified to put it mildly, but we don't, we don't usually ask tough questions and we don't have financial advisers prompting clients to ask these tough questions upfront. So you can figure out if your advisors actually to be able to handle it when, when the chips are down. Wait a sec.

Mike Powers (14:31):

Completely agree. I think you do need to have both sides of the, you know, both skills. I think the soft sides are incredibly important because you could be the best, the best advisor from a technical standpoint. But if you can't convey that message and really explain it to your clients and get them on board, then every, all your work is, is no one void anyway. So you really have to have both pieces.

Mike Garrison (14:55):

Yeah, I, I agree. It is, it's shocking to me that for a profession that earns as much money as financial services, people do that there is so little actual professional sales training involved. It's really interesting given how important it is to get clients, to make good decisions, you know, like you're saying, so we're going to on here, I got to get to the story, which I think is one of those foundational stories. And everybody's got one, but if you wouldn't mind, first of all, sharing the story about your dad and your freshman year of college, and then how that story has kind of created this narrative for you around finances.

Mike Powers (15:43):

Yeah, sure. Thanks Mike. So my freshman year of college as, as Michael alluded to, so I'm the oldest, the oldest of three children. I have two sisters. One is two years younger than me, and one is nine years younger than me. And my freshman year in college, I, I distinctly remember my dad who was 53 years old at the time.

Mike Powers (16:04):

Pretty timely for his family story then. So he, he lost his job. He had, he had a very, very successful job yet. He had had successful jobs in the past really, really great career leading up to that. And he was not able to find work anywhere, remotely close to the Richmond, the Richmond area the closest job that he could find that was anything comparable, what was two states away and about six or seven hours away, depending on traffic. So he went away and, and worked, worked there for, I think, off and on for about three years and came home on, on average every other weekend for about I'll call it, you know, 36 to 48 to 48 hours. By the time they kind of recuperated from, from the, from the drive and from, from, you know, a long week of working and then kind of got ready to get back in the car and, and hit the road again.

Mike Powers (17:00):

So he was ready for work the next week that, you know, I saw I was somewhat removed from that situation because I was, I was at college pretty much the whole time I was in dorms or in apartments. And but I saw the impact that I had on my younger sisters and especially my dad. And you want to talk about somebody who had never spent any time away from their family. And even as I think he had never even spent a night away from us, from his wife, my mom you talked about being away from there for off and on for three years, you can imagine just the, the emotional challenges and just struggling to relate to people. And, you know, he always told me, Mike, this will be pretty easy if I was single and was going out and dating.

Mike Powers (17:46):

He's like, but I'm a married man. I have wonderful children. I have to make. There's not that many people in my situation that, you know, I kinda, I kind of there and, you know, just kinda on their own. So I know that was tremendously hard for him and, and just kind of seeing him come back and, and regroup from that. He ended up changing careers, probably never made anything close to what he had been making before. And he ended up making it, he just retired fully, he had partially retired. He just retired fully a couple of months ago at the age of 71. But what I really learned from that is, you know, first and foremost, it is really hard to, if you lose your job after a certain age, let's call it after age 50. And obviously it depends on the industry, but after it's 50, it can be really, really hard to get back and make anything close to what you're making before.

Mike Powers (18:40):

No matter what life throws at you. And you really, in my mind, it really made me focus on, I need to have a plan in case that ever happens to me. I need to be able to make sure that if something like that happens to me, I need to be able to, to be finding out in my mind financially independent by the time a scenario like that could happen instead of kind of having the, the world pulled out from under me and having a degree group. Now, obviously you can't plan for anything. And that can certainly happen in my lifetime as well, no matter, no matter what I do. But so because of that, my wife and I have, have lived a I'll call it a moderately frugal lifestyle. Certainly I've had frugality. I would not call it. We are not hermits. We still travel. We still have, you know, go out to eat. We still have a, a very, a very good balance there, but we certainly have not spent to the level that we could have spent. And that has given us No exotic cars yet. I've got my hunts. I got my Honda, Honda accord that I, that I'd probably drive once a week right now and ride my bike. Most of the rest of the week button,

Mike Garrison (19:55):

I actually had to have a Mercedes, if you were a second-year advisor, you know, man bows and all that stuff, right.

Mike Powers (20:03):

With the, I love the Lambo doors or the just arrives about,

Mike Garrison (20:06):

Yeah. Can I kind of like the price? I always say my favorite car is one that's paid for.

Mike Powers (20:13):

Yeah. And my, my favorite, my favorite car Mike is actually not having one. I've had a, probably a number of times in my life where my wife and I have shared a car it's predominantly hers, and I've either been able to walk or take public transit. And that that's, I love that that's like no burden whatsoever. No oil changes, no state inspections, no, nothing.

Mike Garrison (20:35):

It, it, it really is interesting. So just got a couple more minutes. I w it's always so killed. Maybe I should do the Jocko. You ever heard of Jocko Willink. He's the Navy like these three hour podcasts we've actually do that. Nobody listened. So if you, if you, if you wouldn't like the last little bit, I want to explore before I give it to you for the big the big, you know, hit the home, run triple crown, all that kind of stuff. Do you have, how do you, how do you take that story from your life and, and use it to help your clients understand, you know, things like delayed gratification and stuff like that, do you, is that something that commonly happens?

Mike Powers (21:21):

It is. And I, and I think everything in life is a balance. I, I I've, I mean, I certainly have had my wife and I have had pretty high savings rates over our, over the years and over our marriage. But there's certainly a balance there. We've also gone, as I mentioned on incredible trips, you know, none of us know, you know, if we're going to be here tomorrow. And so we have to do our best to not only enjoy today, but also make sure that the money will be available and the resources will be available down the road if we're fortunate enough to live, you know, sort of 80 or 90 or, or even a hundred. And so I think everything really is a balance. And just trying to, just trying to make sure that you do the best you can to really enjoy time for today, but also be mindful of tomorrow.

Mike Garrison (22:12):

I think that's a great place to end it. That was pretty powerful. So I always had to show like this, my you're ready. I'm ready. Cause I'm scatterbrain squirrel squirrel. Like what's something I missed. What is one thing that you were hoping I'd ask you about or you wanted to share?

Mike Powers (22:31):

Yeah, so I think the one, the one other thing that I, I will share is that a huge reason that I, that I, so I had a great career at a great from fire to fire to launch him an incredibly fortunate. And what I realize is that, you know, during COVID of last year, I had a three month old son and a two and a half year old daughter at the time. And I was working tax season hours. So certainly working more hours than normal. And I went from in late March of 28, 20 13, my, my son in particular, who was obviously sleeping more at night, 30 minutes a day when he was awake two and a half hours a day immediately. Wow. I was getting, I was getting just as much, if not more work done, I was, you know, probably more proactive with clients.

Mike Powers (23:18):

And I was just much happier from removing the commute and everything else from my day. And I, and I pretty much immediately thought like there is no way I can go back to my old life. And so it took me a while to really make sure is this what I want to do as, as kind of, I had more and more opportunities to work from home over the last year and, and had some really difficult conversations with the rest of the leadership team at my old firm, which obviously was not easy for anyone was a great firm, but I just felt like, you know, again, going to that balance, I'm never going to regret this time with my kids. And I can tell you with a hundred percent, I have not regretted the decision for starting my own firm once I have not looked back since I put in my notice, I think in mid January of 2021, so nine months ago, roughly. And there has not been one day where I wished, oh man, I wish I had just gone back. And I was making, making more money or whatever that, whatever that thing is, having this time with my kids has just been incredibly impactful for me. And I hope it's, it's something that sticks with me for the rest of my life, but also with them for the rest of their life. And they kind of realized that the close relationship that we've been able to build, and hopefully that continues online.

Mike Garrison (24:31):

Yeah. I've got a, a tagline on the back of my business card and it says better results with less regret.

Mike Powers (24:38):

I love that. Yeah.

Mike Garrison (24:40):

And that's, that's really what the values based mindset is about. You know, inherently, I wish more people would, would approach mindset with intentionality very much like financial planning, you know, because when you really study mindset and you get past all the fluff and the aspirational stuff, you get into a relatively binary process of deciding what things are important, prioritizing them and then making decisions consistently. And anyways, I it's been an honor to get to meet with you. How can people find you and you're going to need to spell it? How can people find

Mike Powers (25:23):

So they can, you can go online. It's menuca, M a N U K a financial a little bit easier to spell, hopefully. I'm also on LinkedIn Mike Powers. I think it's Mike Powers, CPA, CFP. If I remember correctly, Mike Mike Garrison might've might know my tagline better than I do. He's probably much more into social than I am, but and then I try to try to be active in some of the early retirement Facebook groups as well, too, as, as time permits. So my senior on there too.

Mike Garrison (25:57):

Well, Mike, I just want to thank you on behalf of the audience and I can't wait to see you in a little over a month.

Mike Powers (26:05):

Yeah. Mike looking forward to it. Thanks so much. It's been a pleasure and see you here in person.