We’re excited to have XYPN member Tyler Landes, owner of Tandem Financial Guidance, a fee-only firm in Kansas City, Missouri, on the show today. Tyler has had a really unique experience building his firm. In 2014, Tyler became a founding member of XY Planning Network, joining the then-group of 30 financial advisors, and discovered how he wanted to build his own firm. Being a planner, however, Tyler wanted to launch and run his firm while remaining cash flow positive, so unlike a lot of advisors, Tyler took a part-time job to make the dollars work.
In today's episode, Tyler shares his experience in working full-time at Zeiders, serving and supporting service members while continuing to serve his own 20 clients at Tandem. Tyler explains why he chose to build his business on a part-time basis and how he could have never done this without learning from and leaning into his Network. Hear from Tyler as he shares a really impressive perspective about the power of a study group, battling the imposter syndrome, and most importantly, building a firm as a young advisor.
If you're interested in learning from someone who built his firm in a less than conventional fashion, this episode is for you.
Listen to the Full Interview:
Avocado toast. Selfies. A mountain of student loan debt. Gen Y is anything but traditional and with over 75 million people, it's a population you don't want to ignore. Learn more about how to serve this unique population in our guide, "Attract and Profitably Serve Millennial Clients in Your RIA." Discover three key ways to tap into the millennial market and the six things they want from their financial advisor. Visit www.xyplanningnetwork.com/millennials for your free copy.
Narrator: [00:00:01] Join your host, Maddy Roche, as she brings you into a community of fee-only financial advisors who are successfully building profitable businesses that serve the next generation of clients. Learn from innovative advisors whose unique stories will inspire you to dream big and take action on your goals. Are you ready to live your best life and help your clients live theirs? Then you're in the right place.
Maddy Roche: [00:00:24] Hello and welcome to this episode of #XYPNRadio. I'm Maddy Roche, your host. I'm excited to have XYPN member Tyler Landes, owner of Tandem Financial Guidance, a fee-only firm in Kansas City, Missouri, on the show today. Tyler has a really unique experience building his firm. Having graduated from a financial planning program, he interviewed and became employed at a local fee-only firm in Missouri, where he climbed the ranks from junior planner to planner, and although he loved his experience, he always wanted to be an entrepreneur. So, in 2014, Tyler began exploring options, and in April of the same year, Tyler became a founding member of XY Planning Network and joined the then-group of 30 financial advisors and business owners and started to put the pieces together on how to build his own firm. Being a planner, however, Tyler wanted to launch and run his firm while remaining cash flow positive, so unlike a lot of advisors, Tyler took a part-time job to make the dollars work. A few years ago, he actually started working full-time at Zeiders, serving and supporting service members while continuing to serve his own 20 clients at Tandem. Tyler and I talk a lot about why he chose to build his business on a part-time basis up until now and discusses how he could have never done this without learning from and leaning into his Network. Tyler gives some really impressive perspective about the power of a study group, battling the imposter syndrome, and most importantly, building a firm as a young advisor. If you're interested in learning from someone who did it differently, this episode is for you.
Maddy Roche: [00:02:04] Avocado toast. Selfies. A mountain of student loan debt. Gen Y is anything but traditional, and with over seventy five million people, it's a population you don't want to ignore. Learn more about how to serve this unique population in our guide called "Attract and Profitably Serve Millennial Clients in your RIA." Discover three key ways to tap into the millennial market and six things that they want from their financial advisor. Visit xyplanningnetwork.com/millennials for your free copy.
Maddy Roche: [00:02:36] You can find any of the resources we mentioned during this episode at xyplanningetwork.com/260. Also, be sure to go to xyplanningnetwork.com/VIP to join our private group just #XYPNRadio listeners. It's the community of advisors we've all been looking for that's there to provide support when we need it the most. Best of all, it's free! I encourage you to check it out again. That's xyplanningnetwork.com/VIP. Without further ado, here's my interview with Tyler.
[00:03:05] -- swish --
Maddy Roche: [00:03:07] Hey, Tyler, welcome to #XYPNRadio!
Tyler Landes: [00:03:10] Thanks for having me.
Maddy Roche: [00:03:11] Of course! I am honored to be interviewing you after... Five and a half years of knowing you? I think this is what we're sitting at! Tyler, you've got such an awesome background and experience and REAL experience here at XYPN as a member. I just can't wait to dive in, so I'll let you do the honors per usual. Go ahead and introduce yourself and your firm to our listeners.
Tyler Landes: [00:03:33] Sure. Yeah. I'm Tyler Landes. My firm is Tandem Financial Guidance, and I'm in Kansas City, Missouri, so...
Maddy Roche: [00:03:40] Awesome! What are some of the quick stats about your firm?
Tyler Landes: [00:03:43] Yeah, sure. So, I am solo shop, I guess, solopreneur. Mostly working from home. Have a co-working space where I can meet clients in person, but also do a lot of virtual meetings. Servicing about 20 clients, 20 households on different levels of service and more of a lifestyle practice at this point, so that allows me to kind of have ultimate flexibility with family time and balancing that with work and just looking to grow from there.
Maddy Roche: [00:04:12] Awesome. So much to dig into and talk about. Let's go back in time. I'm always interested to learn about people's entry into this career. A lot of us are career changers coming into this industry. I think you have a pretty unique background. Go ahead and tell the listeners about kind of post-college: what-what was your experience?
Tyler Landes: [00:04:32] Yeah, so I didn't set out to be a financial planner initially. I always kind of wanted to be in business because that's kind of what I thought where success and financial success, I guess, came from, just seeing other people around me, just in business generally, so I went to college as a Finance major and -
Maddy Roche: [00:04:51] Okay.
Tyler Landes: [00:04:51] - I didn't really know where that would lead me, but I kind of got, you know, wasn't fully bought into that and started looking around at different majors and ended up at the Financial Planning school at the University of Missouri. So -
Maddy Roche: [00:05:05] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:05:05] - my degrees in financial planning and, from there, moved back home to Kansas City and got a job with a fee-only firm in Overland Park, which is a suburb here, and I was there for about five years. Started as a financial associate, you know, doing trading and sending follow-up notes and that sort of thing, handling client issues, and grew from there into kind of more of a junior planner/junior advisor type role, and by the end there, I was handling most of our kind of hourly business. They were a fee-only shop - like I said, mostly operating on retainer, but with some hourly business as well - so that was kind of my role there. By the time 2015 rolled around and, you know, then we met!
Maddy Roche: [00:05:47] (laughter)
Tyler Landes: [00:05:47] A career-change and started Tandem at that point.
Maddy Roche: [00:05:50] Awesome! Awesome. Wow. You've really had kind of that traditional growth trajectory that we hear a lot about within this industry, and what's so neat is that you really started in that fee-only space.
Tyler Landes: [00:06:01] Right.
Maddy Roche: [00:06:02] I'm wondering, Tyler, in college, not all universities have financial planning programs. Did you graduate with your CFP® from that program or was that part of the curriculum?
Tyler Landes: [00:06:12] It was, yeah. So shortly thereafter, sat for the CFP® exam in, I guess, probably June of 2010?
Maddy Roche: [00:06:20] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:06:20] So, yeah, I mean, at least locally here, maybe we're spoiled because the University of Missouri as well as K-State is a big financial planning program. Texas Tech obviously is a big one, so Mizzou is really right in that, in that wheelhouse with regards to CFP®-centered education, so I did come out with all of my, you know, courses completed and ready to sit for the exam. I just had to, you know, study my butt off for a while there to get ready for that.
Maddy Roche: [00:06:48] Wow. I wonder what it would be like to be a college graduate with that information. What would a different perspective you would take!
Tyler Landes: [00:06:58] Yeah. I always tell people, you know - I mean, this is true of any CFP® will probably say - but you know more about the nuts and bolts, the book-knowledge of Financial Planning the morning that you sit for the exam than you ever will, and beyond that, it's just knowing where to look for the information when you need it, so -
Maddy Roche: [00:07:13] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:07:13] - Mizzou prepared me for... you know, as much as they could for, you know, sitting for the exam and then I crammed with- My brother-in-law is also a CFP® and we're both in -
Maddy Roche: [00:07:22] Wow.
Tyler Landes: [00:07:22] - the program there, so had a study-buddy and got through it and encouraged each other and then we both passed on that first try, so we were lucky.
Maddy Roche: [00:07:29] Oh, good for you.
Tyler Landes: [00:07:31] Yeah.
Maddy Roche: [00:07:31] What kind of support did Mizzou give you in terms of becoming employed after graduation? Was it- were there pipelines into the big broker dealers or anything like that?
Tyler Landes: [00:07:40] A little bit. So, I mean, this was... This was back in 2010 - and I know that doesn't... Well, it doesn't seem like that long ago to me, but... it was still, I think, a different time than now in terms of like there weren't as many opportunities for young salaried associates coming out of college to -
Maddy Roche: [00:07:59] Mhmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:07:59] - get a job where they-they made a salary. A lot of it was going to the insurance companies or the brokerage wirehouses and getting a commission job, or maybe there was a salary draw that, you know, you had to earn your way through. So, yeah, I mean, there was... There were job fairs and recruiting from any number of, you know, financial planners and brokers, but I kind of got the sense, having gone through that process, that fee-only is where I wanted to land.
Maddy Roche: [00:08:27] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:08:27] And I just lucked out that a small, a small... you know, solopreneur five years later was growing here in Kansas City and was hiring and I was the third full-time employee there, co really kind of entered the industry and cut my teeth at a small planning-focused fee-only financial planning firm, so I was lucky.
Maddy Roche: [00:08:51] Yeah. Very, very lucky. And what a great experience! I'm wondering when you were at... In your financial planning program, was there a lot of education around the options and what fee-only meant vs. not? I mean, was that, was that a real conversation that people were having or was this something that you kind of just caught on to and pursued yourself?
Tyler Landes: [00:09:15] I mean, a little bit. I don't think the program is really biased one way or another.
Maddy Roche: [00:09:19] Mhmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:09:19] I mean, we had a lot of support from some, you know, insurance companies and different people who were vested in our program and trying to support financial planning and what the school was doing, so I don't know that it was... I didn't feel swayed one way or another by maybe the education itself, but definitely among the students; everybody's kind of talking about their experiences with different recruiters -
Maddy Roche: [00:09:42] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:09:42] - and that sort of thing. So... Yeah, I mean, I definitely naturally am not... Not pulled in the direction of sales, so that was a pretty easy decision for me to look for a role where I could come in and learn under somebody who was doing it the right way.
Maddy Roche: [00:09:58] Yeah. And what was your experience becoming employed there? Was it an application process or was this a networking connection you made?
Tyler Landes: [00:10:05] Yeah, I think this one actually... That firm had put a listing up on the Financial Planning Association website, like our local chapter, and I think I found it there. And, there were maybe, I think, one or two places that I applied and had a really good interview with the people there. And yeah. That was it.
Maddy Roche: [00:10:25] And what was your work as, as a junior associate? And were there a lot of client relationship at that point or were you primarily kind of paraplanning in the background?
Tyler Landes: [00:10:36] Yeah, so the way we had set up, there was one full-time advisor at that point - the owner, the founder of the company - there was a full-time paraplanner who kind of tee-ed up the meetings, and then my role was to come in on the backend of the meeting and, you know, tear it all down again. So send, you know, follow up with the clients -
Maddy Roche: [00:10:56] Hmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:10:56] - on their to-do's, make sure that their accounts were rebalanced in the ways that were discussed, make sure any of the other planning recommendations carried through, so I wasn't doing a lot of plan-building; it was a lot more client service, at least when I started. Yeah, and even like the the financial planning software and especially like account rebalancing software back then (back then - 10 years ago) was not really where it is today, so I was -
Maddy Roche: [00:11:24] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:11:24] - doing a lot of manual trade proposals on a spreadsheet. I -
Maddy Roche: [00:11:27] Mhmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:11:27] - dumped in all of the account balances and map out the trades and have them approved by the planner and then... and then traded them, so very manual process, for sure.
Maddy Roche: [00:11:36] Yeah, I appreciate this perspective and I think it's very helpful for our listeners to hear that there are positions within these small firms that can be created, both at your initiative but also the initiative of the owner, and then also on the other side, that so many of our XYPN members and advisors are running solo practices similar to you, where you may one day want a little Tyler Landes to show up at your office and say that he's, that he's for hire and ready to help you build your business! So how did the firm grow while you were there? Obviously you moved up, but did it expand? Did it, did it change at all?
Tyler Landes: [00:12:11] Yeah. I mean, we moved from a small office behind the elevator bank, like almost -
Maddy Roche: [00:12:15] (laughter)
Tyler Landes: [00:12:15] - like a broom closet. You know, it was two or three offices, a waiting and a reception area and a small kitchenette into a larger space where we could accommodate more staff and more advisors. I think, you know, like I said, I was the third full-timer and there were one or two part-timers at that point as well, helping with marketing and -
Maddy Roche: [00:12:35] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:12:35] - scheduling. And then by the time I left, I think there might have been five... Five or six full timers, and they've definitely kept growing since I left.
Maddy Roche: [00:12:46] Wow.
Tyler Landes: [00:12:47] Yeah.
Maddy Roche: [00:12:47] So let's talk about that departure and your decision to go out on your own, because it was only at that firm that you spent time before you launched your own firm, right?
Tyler Landes: [00:12:56] Correct, yeah.
Maddy Roche: [00:12:58] What went into that decision?
Tyler Landes: [00:12:59] Yeah, so I, I really do feel fortunate to have started where I did.
Maddy Roche: [00:13:04] Mhmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:13:04] I believe that I, I worked under people who served clients the right way, who had a "planning first" approach, who really cared about the successes and struggles of their clients, and so it was a really hard decision, honestly. I, I could have stayed there and made a very happy career.
Maddy Roche: [00:13:26] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:13:26] There was just something... Something in me knew that if I didn't try entrepreneurship at some level -
Maddy Roche: [00:13:32] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:13:32] - that I would regret it. And, you know, that was, that was 20, you know, early to mid 2014 when I started having those -.
Maddy Roche: [00:13:41] Wow.
Tyler Landes: [00:13:41] - sort of thoughts about like maybe now is kind of the right time. I was also there. I was starting to be expected to bring in business. And so it was kind of, you know, do I... If I'm gonna go out and "hunt" - for lack of a better word - should I do it here or is now the right time to go do my own thing and try and build something that, that I can be, you know, proud of, and you know, that's built the way that I would want to do it. And so, I ended up doing that- Yeah, 2014, kind of mid-2014 is around when XY Planning, I think, launched as well.
Maddy Roche: [00:14:17] Mhmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:14:17] And so, you know, I read a couple of blog posts by some famous XY Planning members. Now, I think probably, you know, 60%, 80%, 90% of members now probably read those blogs by -
Maddy Roche: [00:14:30] Mhmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:14:30] - Sophia and Alan about starting your own planning firm with $10,000, and so I had $10,000 that I'd contributed into a Roth IRA. You know, my-my Roth IRA basis that I was able to pull back out. And I knew I had $10,000 available, that I could throw in a business account and, and hit the road and so... You know, there was definitely some "you don't know what you don't know" or your, you know, some night naïveté, a little bit about making it happen, but it was like, "hey, these blogs said I could do it" so -
Maddy Roche: [00:15:06] (laughter)
Tyler Landes: [00:15:06] - yeah. And anyway, yeah, so I, I really went back and forth with the firm owner that I was, I was working under, and he was very open with the conversation about, you know, "is... Could you satisfy this need to serve a different type of client" - you know, I wanted to work with younger families, people who looked more like me in terms of, you know, age and stage of life.
Maddy Roche: [00:15:28] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:15:28] Not that we didn't have those, those clients of that firm, but it was, you know, it skewed a little bit, a little bit older, a little closer to retirement, little higher net worth. And so, yeah, we had those conversations - "Is this something that I can build and-and satisfy that, that need or that want internally or does it make sense for me to go out and try my own thing" - and kind of went back and forth on that, and he was... You know, they were open to accommodating that within the firm, but ultimately we decided to part ways, so...
Maddy Roche: [00:15:59] Wow!
Tyler Landes: [00:15:59] I, you know, I stayed through the end of that year, so through the end of 2014, kind of handled, helped handle the year-end wrap up. You know, year-end contributions, and all that kind of stuff. And then January 1, 2015, I was, you know, celebrating the New Year and sitting in my bedroom at my desk ready to start Tandem. Although I didn't know what it was going to be called, didn't have an email address and no phone number and no website, but I was ready to make it happen.
Maddy Roche: [00:16:29] What an incredible story. I've heard from many different members that it sometimes takes the wrong employment situation to trigger them to want to start a firm. But on your end, it really feels like you wanted to be an entrepreneur really since... since the beginning, and I think that's really what differentiates a lot of our kind of original and founding members at XYPN with some of the members that are joining today. The folks- A lot of folks that joined today will tell me that they never dreamed of being an entrepreneur until a platform like XY existed, whereas folks six years ago in our founding group are very much driven to be entrepreneurs because that's what they wanted to do. Could you talk a little bit more about that, about where that drive comes from? I love this idea that you wanted to work with people similar to you, but what is it about wanting to run your own business that was so attractive to you?
Tyler Landes: [00:17:19] Yeah, so... I don't know; There wasn't really any one thing. You know, I grew up going to "take your kids to work" day, you know, with my mom and she was an Administrative Assistant to the CEO of... this is actually a financial firm here in Kansas City, and, you know, I'd play in the boardroom, I'd sit in the CEO's chair at his desk and, you know, that-that was kind of what... the idea that I had what I wanted for my life, because that was, you know, he had nice cars and everything, right? So, when I went to college, I wanted to go into finance, but it was really by the time I got there, more about designing the life that I wanted to live more than it was the money or the things that, you know... And then even within my family, I didn't realize this at the time, but looking back on some of my family members and their entrepreneurial pursuits, I didn't realize how much there really was around, so my-my grandfather was a homebuilder, you know, designed and -
Maddy Roche: [00:18:14] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:18:14] - built custom homes. My dad was a musician. So -
Maddy Roche: [00:18:18] Mmm!
Tyler Landes: [00:18:18] - you know, a self-employed musician trying to, you know, make it big, right? My aunt owned and operated a dance studio.
Maddy Roche: [00:18:27] Wow!
Tyler Landes: [00:18:27] Just several things, you know, that maybe had some influence that you can make a career that you want, but I don't think I realized - and maybe still don't - the impact that that might have had.
Maddy Roche: [00:18:39] Totally! It took me to get into XYPN before I ever realized, "wow, I have a lot more agency than I thought I did in terms of being able to go out and create something that I want to create" and, you know, now I'm still an employee, but I'm working with so many of you that really have this spark inside of them that is just so inspiring. You were an XYPN Founding Member, Tyler, and that means that you get in a neat XYPN red t-shirt at our conferences and things like that, but really, you have been with XYPN since the early days. Yes, yes, yes! And I'm wondering, you had kind of a unique experience in that you didn't come in with a firm, you did come in launching immediately. Talk to us about those first few months of joining this Network when it really was only 30 of you.
Tyler Landes: [00:19:28] Yeah. So I was joking here. I actually have the red, the limited edition special, limited red founding member t-shirt here. I tried to wear it for today's call, but, you know, five years and almost two kids later. It doesn't fit quite the same as it used to.
Maddy Roche: [00:19:41] (laughter)
Tyler Landes: [00:19:43] But yeah, I mean, that was... That was a crazy year for me.
Maddy Roche: [00:19:47] Yeah.
Tyler Landes: [00:19:47] 2014: toward the end of 2014, I was, I was quitting my job and I got engaged right around the same time. And then 2015, you know, started my own business, got married, bought our first house, you know, I don't... My wife was crazy enough to stick with me through all of that -
Maddy Roche: [00:20:05] (laughter)
Tyler Landes: [00:20:05] - and she kind of knew what I had in mind, but I don't know if she realized fully what we were getting into.
Maddy Roche: [00:20:10] Yeah.
Tyler Landes: [00:20:12] But yeah, the Network, at that point in time, I think - I don't know exactly what the numbers were - 30 or so Founding Members maybe, and it was a really small group that's obviously now grown into a very large group, but everyone who was in XY at that point in time was, I mean, and they still are very supportive, but it was, it was small enough that I knew everybody. You know, I knew...
Maddy Roche: [00:20:37] Yeah.
Tyler Landes: [00:20:37] There was this group of people that were all trying to do the same thing for, a lot of times, the same reasons, and so, that was very, very easy to feel supported and encouraged that, you know, we could make it happen. And I think that still exist today and the Network is just a little bit different, as -
Maddy Roche: [00:20:54] Mhmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:20:54] - you know, now, I don't know, there are like a thousand numbers or something.
Maddy Roche: [00:20:56] Yeah.
Tyler Landes: [00:20:57] You guys have done a good job at, you know, with launcher groups and, you know, finding your mastermind and that sort of thing, you know, trying to make it just like going to college. Right? You have to find where you fit to make this big campus seem smaller. Same thing, I think, with-with the Network. And so, you know, I found a lot of support early on. Now I get that support through a mastermind group that I met for the most part through XY Planning Network. And we meet every Tuesday and have for several years now. Yeah, so shout out to Mosaic Mastermind.
Maddy Roche: [00:21:33] Oh!
Tyler Landes: [00:21:33] But yeah, I mean it's just the-the more, especially for a solopreneur, the more you can find that community or sense of community like I... the biggest, you know, the biggest change is not having any coworkers and so -
Tyler Landes: [00:21:46] Mmm.
Maddy Roche: [00:21:46] - XY planning network, my mastermind group, you know, my involvement with the local FPA chapter; there's just so many ways you can replace some of that camaraderie, wells, you know, not having anyone sitting down the hall from you.
Maddy Roche: [00:22:00] Absolutely. And I hear members all the time talk about the power of having someone on the other end of the call, whether it be a Zoom call or a phone call or even just an email that just gets it can really can really save people. It-it keeps people playing the game, but it also keeps them motivated and bought into this larger purpose that I think we're all in this for. I really enjoyed learning, Tyler, kind of in hindsight, what your experience of joining the Network early on was in terms of you did not launch immediately and then you spent time kind of just listening and absorbing and not everyone does that when they join XYPN. A lot of people come in, they're gunning for that initial registration process, but could you shine some light on your intentionality behind joining the network and using it before you launch your firm?
Tyler Landes: [00:22:45] Sure, yeah. I think it was more needing to convince myself or, you know, build up the courage, whatever that I could do with it. I've always been someone who's willing to try new things, but I also want to probably over-research and overthink and make sure I know where I'm going. The land before I jump sort of a thing. So, yeah, I joined XY probably... I mean, I don't know what-what point of 2014. Six to eight months. You know, April - or something like that - 2014, and didn't really launch my own firm, like I said, until January of 2015. I stayed at the firm that I was with through the end of that year. But at that point, again, it was more of an exploratory thing. I wasn't... I didn't know that I wanted or needed to go out on my own, but through joining a little early and... You know, there was some sunk cost to that. Right? You know, there was membership fees and things that I didn't need to incur yet, but I mean, if I hadn't joined and when I did, you know, I might not have convinced myself to do it.
Maddy Roche: [00:23:50] Great advice. Great advice. We-we encourage folks that are not yet members to join the Network and spend a couple months just learning what the culture is, what the attitude is of our fellow advisors in this community, and kind of see and plan and be intentional about what your next moves are. You came into this, Tyler, with some real personal goals and they're quite admirable. Would you mind sharing with the listeners kind of your-your personal journey through launching your firm and and why you were so intentional with the decisions you made?
Tyler Landes: [00:24:20] Yes, sure. So, you know, I knew going into it that I did not want to accumulate debt to start the business, so when I - I mentioned the-the blog post by Alan and Sophia about, you know, $10,000 and so that number stuck in my head and I was like, "Okay, I can I can risk $10,000, but I'm not going to take credit or anything like that to make this happen" so I - you know, in early January - deposited with... you know, took $10,000 out of one account and put it into a business account. And that was the start up funds. That was the capital, and so through that first year, in order to kind of extend my runway a little bit, I always kind of worked a part time job or a side gig. Early on, I remember the first thing that I did was - I guess it would've been around this time around, March Madness. The basketball season in early 2015, the big twelve tournament was at the Sprint Center here in Kansas City, and I had a friend who did the like backstage catering, and so I did some of that very. Never, never want to do that again, but it was hard work, but it was kind of like, yeah, I need to find something. Luckily, shortly after that, I found a paraplanning position with an established advisor who needed just some remote work, some data entry into MoneyGuidePro who wasn't quite ready to hire somebody full time, and so I was able to do that for about a year or year and a half or so until he was ready to hire somebody full time locally, kind of help them bridge that gap, so that was really helpful in terms of income along the way. And also learning... You know, having only been with one firm, learning how another advisor approaches financial planning, so I think that definitely helped. And then ultimately, I also had a part time office job where I was working two to three days a week pushing paper around, so those were just the things I needed to do to be cash flow positive every month early on, and then after that first year... so reached the point where the business was breaking even and was able to scale some of that back until 2017 when we started talking about starting a family, and that's been a... kind of a different chapter.
Maddy Roche: [00:26:38] Wow - and we'll get there. There's some things -
Tyler Landes: [00:26:41] Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Maddy Roche: [00:26:41] I love all of this! I think it's such a good perspective for our listeners to hear: that someone like you went from a full time financial planning position where he probably could have been a partner at some point to then going and doing part time work while he starts a firm. How did you deal with your ego? Honestly.
Tyler Landes: [00:27:01] I don't know.
Maddy Roche: [00:27:05] Yeah?
Tyler Landes: [00:27:05] I don't have an answer. I don't... I never felt like... that egotistical about it maybe?
Maddy Roche: [00:27:13] Mhmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:27:13] Like it was never a sense of, you know, "of course I can do this. I can do it better than someone else can. So why am I not doing it for myself?" It wasn't, it wasn't really about doing it better than anyone else or anything; it was just wanting to try and build something that I could... you know, build something around me that supported my life and provided flexibility as we as I was, you know, starting a new life with, you know, marriage and and ultimately starting a family and all of those things. So, yeah, I don't know. It would have just -
Maddy Roche: [00:27:44] Yeah.
Tyler Landes: [00:27:44] - always felt like, you know, doing the things that I needed to do to keep to keep the train going down the track and not compromise on going into debt for, you know, unnecessarily.
Maddy Roche: [00:27:56] Yeah. Brilliant. In hindsight, would you have done it this way again? That you would sacrifice some hours of the business to keep yourself cash flow positive?
Tyler Landes: [00:28:10] Yes, I mean, I-I would not have, you know, maybe I would have saved up more beforehand, but I can't imagine a scenario where I would have. I, you know, I just personally would... You know, I've never carried a credit card balance, and that's not... I'm not patting myself on the back. It's just I saw my parents have credit card debt and ultimately make the decision to get out of it and cut the cards up, and so I knew going into my adult life that I didn't, I didn't want that. I had plenty of student loan debt on the way and I didn't want to add anything to that balance, so it would have been a non-starter if I couldn't that, you know, if I would have had to borrow money to start the business for housing. Yeah.
Maddy Roche: [00:28:52] Yeah. Great answer. So 2017, you and your new wife decide to start a family. Is that when you stopped doing the part time work and you went full time with Tandem?
Tyler Landes: [00:29:04] Um, no, so well... So, yeah. And toward the end of 2016, so that would've been about- yeah, about two years, two years in. Heading into 2017. Two years of marriage. We were kind of ready to start thinking about having kids. Didn't know when exactly, but knew that it was coming, and so I mentioned my student loans. I still had those and I knew that I wanted to do whatever I could to get those paid off before entering that next chapter. I know the... What I told myself was I wanted to have my student loans paid off before we started saving for our daughter's education. I didn't want to still be paying on mine while trying to save for her, so I had also, toward the end of 2016, joined a financial counselor network through. Zeiders is the firm and they do... They're a contracting company. They do have a government contract to provide financial counseling for service members, and so I had joined that network in a part time capacity and gone out on National Guard drill weekends, that sort of thing, to provide counseling during those times and heading into 2017, the military was undertaking a big change in their retirement program, and they needed full time people at some of the larger installations to really push the education around that change. And so early 2017, you know, I had already been part time with this with this company. I ended up going full time to... well, you know, with the goal to pay off my student loans before the baby came. Almost made it. Eleanor was born in October of 2017 and I think by early 2018, my loans were gone, so definitely got those knocked out before we cracked open her 529.
Maddy Roche: [00:30:49] Ah! So cool. You are such a planner.
Tyler Landes: [00:30:53] Yeah.
Maddy Roche: [00:30:56] Talk to us a bit more about Zeiders and your work there. They've, they've always done such good work. We've promoted them internally at XYPN. I can just imagine it really diversifies your-your understanding of the services that you're rendering and all that stuff, but just giving you more opportunities to work with clients. But tell us about it and help what it's brought to you in your firm.
Tyler Landes: [00:31:19] Yeah, so the coolest thing was kind of taking a change from the-the other kind of part time side hustle. That stuff I'd been doing that maybe wasn't client facing or or wasn't even related to personal finance, you know, with the office job, so, you know, being first in the, in the part time - they call it "on-demand financial counsellor network" - and then full time gave me the opportunity to work directly with families. So, you know, every day I sit across from a soldier and his spouse or her spouse and, you know, talk about real issues that are important to their family. It's not full financial plan things, so I'm not developing long range projections or anything like that. But it's I think they call it a shorter term solution, focused financial counseling. So we're really trying to give advice and guidance and changes that they can make in their life today to affect their immediate financial well-being. So it's a lot of budgeting. It's a lot of debt counseling and also retirement TSP, the pension, things like that. Just understanding it more, a lot more education than it is than it is long term planning.
Maddy Roche: [00:32:31] Wow. And as you worked through Zeiders - and I love that shorter term solution focused relationship - what was your relationship with your clients and how many were you servicing back in 2017? Because if you were working, you must not have been doing it full time at your firm?
Tyler Landes: [00:32:50] Right. Yeah, so I guess I always had kind of a part time job alongside of Tandem as it was growing and, you know, it had gotten... Tandem had grown to a place where it was self sustaining. It was... You know, I remember, you know, I broke even in the first year. I remember everyone saying, like, if you just get to year three, that's when you know.
Maddy Roche: [00:33:12] Yes. Yes.
Tyler Landes: [00:33:13] That it'll work!
Maddy Roche: [00:33:14] (laughter)
Tyler Landes: [00:33:15] And so I made it to the year three and it was, you know, self-sustaining enough, just not enough to get my student loans paid off in the timeframe that I wanted. So, doing this Zeiders thing full time. (unintelligible) It did. I mean, I'd be lying if I said it didn't slow down Tandem's growth and... But I, but I really tried to view it as a supplement to what I was doing. You know, it was, it was still the same objective to help families with personal finance. It was a salaried way to be able to do that while still building my own client base.
Maddy Roche: [00:33:52] And at what point did you go full time with Tandem?
Tyler Landes: [00:33:57] So I'm still not.
Maddy Roche: [00:33:59] Wow.
Tyler Landes: [00:33:59] I still, yeah, I still work with what Zeiders. I'm hoping... well, so the student loans got paid off, right? And then Eleanor was born. And then daycare.
Maddy Roche: [00:34:11] Oh, daycare. (laughter)
Tyler Landes: [00:34:12] Yeah, so there's always been kind of a reason to keep doing it while I'm able to balance both, but, you know, the long term goal is obviously to do Tandem full time.
Maddy Roche: [00:34:26] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:34:26] I always hesitantly say by the end of this year, but I really think by the end of this year.
Maddy Roche: [00:34:33] Is that, it is that a client number goal? Is it a revenue goal that will make you switch?
Tyler Landes: [00:34:40] It's more of a revenue goal. Yeah. I like, I want to, I want Tandem to be able to replace kind of the salary that I left, and it's always... It's gotten closer, but, you know, since, since our daughter was born has slowed down and plateaued a little bit.
Maddy Roche: [00:34:57] Mhmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:34:57] But, yeah, I still do have revenue goals that I'd like to hit. And if I could do that, would feel more comfortable letting go of the... the full time gig -.
Maddy Roche: [00:35:07] Yeah.
Tyler Landes: [00:35:07] - which has been super flexible as needed, but it's really kind of pushed Tandem into more of a nights and weekends, late afternoons kind of thing, rather than being able to, you know, Monday through Friday for 40 hours.
Maddy Roche: [00:35:21] I'm interested. Do your clients know that you're working full time at Zeiders?
Tyler Landes: [00:35:27] Some do. They-they... I do mention that I work with-with service members -.
Maddy Roche: [00:35:32] Yeah.
Tyler Landes: [00:35:32] - especially when-when they're looking for times to schedule a meeting, I'll let them know that there are certain times that I'm up at the installation, working with, you know, with service members. And they're all -
Maddy Roche: [00:35:45] Yeah.
Tyler Landes: [00:35:45] Clients don't really... I haven't seen that as a negative or anything.
Maddy Roche: [00:35:49] Yeah.
Tyler Landes: [00:35:50] I don't, yeah. I don't know if they know it's full time or not, but... I really don't know. I've always been able to kind of fit both in.
Maddy Roche: [00:35:58] Yeah. Yeah.
Tyler Landes: [00:35:59] It gets tight sometimes schedule wise, but...
Maddy Roche: [00:36:02] Yeah. No. I wasn't insinuating that they, they wouldn't agree with it. I think it's such great work and such diverse -
Tyler Landes: [00:36:08] Yeah.
Maddy Roche: [00:36:08] - that it would only make you a better plan to them. So you're saying that nights and weekends sometimes are when you're doing client work. Talk to us about kind of how do you balance that? Do you time block? Do you have certain days that you work on Tandem. What, what's, what's your schedule?
Tyler Landes: [00:36:24] Yeah, so it's a constant fight on my calendar. I'm not the, naturally the best at staying true to how I intend to block time. The biggest thing I have going for me is that I'm a natural night owl so -
Maddy Roche: [00:36:41] Mmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:36:41] - knocking things out after my wife and baby go to sleep is totally fine with me in terms of the actual client work meetings. You know, I schedule around everything else. So a lot of times with the younger families I'm working with, they prefer kind of end of the day or the occasional weekend mornings, and so I've been able to to accommodate that way. But yeah, a lot of my work gets done between like. Thinking, too.
Maddy Roche: [00:37:10] Yeah, yeah, yeah, no. For those of us...
Tyler Landes: [00:37:13] Yeah.
Maddy Roche: [00:37:13] Yeah. Those of us who are night owls can get some really good work done at night. That's when the e-mail slow down. The phone calls slow down. The moon comes out. So how do you charge your clients? And you're working with about 20 client households. Are they all on the subscription model?
Tyler Landes: [00:37:30] You know, so, you know, the subscription model is primarily, that's probably the bulk, but I do have a few that are on either AUM only where we're meeting once, once a year for an annual review, but they don't really... You know, I think planning is always important, but maybe they didn't feel the need for it right now.
Maddy Roche: [00:37:52] Mhmm.
Tyler Landes: [00:37:52] And then I do have a handful that are kind of ongoing hourly, where maybe we meet once or twice a year or once every couple of years, just depending on how those needs shake out, to update... update their plan, figure out what the next steps might be as life events happen to them.
Maddy Roche: [00:38:11] How do you feel in terms of your marketing and sales? I know that that, that can oftentimes be some of our members weak points that they feel like either they're not good at selling themselves or they're not good at marketing themselves. Have you struggled with either of those over the years?
Tyler Landes: [00:38:26] Yeah, I'm one of those people.
Maddy Roche: [00:38:27] Oh, you are! Tell us more.
Tyler Landes: [00:38:30] Yeah. No. So I... I've never, I hear of things that work for other people, and I try some of them myself, and they know I don't always. I think the most important thing is probably deciding what the thing is you're going to do and doing it consistently for long enough to see results. And that's where, that's where I find fault in myself. So sticking through it to reap the reward, I guess, is the problem I have. And some of that is just, you know, balancing family and everything else. And then the work, it's a struggle to find time to commit to consistently marketing. I've tried a few things with, with Arlene, who is the Business Coach within the Network. And so she's helping me with with a lot of that. She probably gets frustrated.
Maddy Roche: [00:39:30] (laughter)
Tyler Landes: [00:39:30] But we're working on it. Yeah. And I have people in my mastermind group and other people that I know locally that I've talked to who have success with some different things. I just have never I have not yet found the one thing that I can truly embrace. You know, in terms of a marketing strategy, I've relied primarily on online search through NAPFA or XY Planning or CFP board or FPA or Fee-Only Network or... Yeah. Any of those guys. And word of mouth and referrals.
Maddy Roche: [00:40:02] Wow.
Tyler Landes: [00:40:02] From both clients and other local planners and my involvement in FPA locally, I think has gone a long way for that. So I've served on the board of our local chapter for pretty much the entire time. Since 2014, I was the first the next gen director for two or three years and then treasurer. And this year I am president elect.
Maddy Roche: [00:40:28] Oh, my gosh. Congratulations.
Tyler Landes: [00:40:30] No, thanks. Yeah. So it's been it's been a great way as a soloprenuer to plug into the bigger kind of group and network locally and get to know some of the other firms in town and even just to ask, you know, to learn how they're doing things, to see what they're struggling with and to you know, there are areas where, you know, I have the answer like, you know, with student loans or different things that I'm seeing more of than some other traditional firms might be. So I can that's a two way street for sure. But I've definitely learned from, from that group. And occasionally, you know, there, there's a situation where I run into somebody who's a better fit for them or do they run into somebody they want to refer my way, so that's been a big help.
Maddy Roche: [00:41:14] Wow, that's, that's awesome and I really commend you on and leaning into the industry networking opportunities. You know, we talked last episode with Martha that it's, you know, the term "networking" kind of gets a weird, weird feeling sometimes it just, it just feels cliche, but really, for someone like you who started in this industry young, you've leveraged a huge amount of your community members over these years. And you referenced your mastermind group, and I do want to give them a shout out and give you an opportunity to tell the listeners about the role that that group has played in your experience here because I just know the power of the Network and I've seen it happen over and over, and I'm interested to hear from you. How have you continued to leverage it and what role has that mastermind group played in your success?
Tyler Landes: [00:42:02] Yeah, so it's a, it's been a really good balance of personal friendships and support, you know, emotionally and as entrepreneurs, but then also just really, really smart, sharp planners in my group. I feel very lucky where if any of us have a question about the financial planning topic, one of the other eight has experienced something with it before. So we can really lean on each other to be really a, you know, kind of a CFP brain trust, but then also, you know, the personal personal friendships and support as well.
Maddy Roche: [00:42:41] And you meet... You meet weekly and you've met weekly for a number of years.
Tyler Landes: [00:42:46] Yeah. And every Tuesday morning, we got a phone call and we added our ninth member this past year, and so we officially have The Brady Bunch. You know, we have a full nine, so, yeah, it's been, it's been awesome. And we had our first in-person retreat last year in Colorado, where we all, we had... Some of us had met some of the others in person at conferences and things, but all of us had never been in the same place at the same time. So that was really awesome to get to see everybody in person. We just had a bigger Airbnb where we all stayed for a few days and we kind of blocked out periods of time when each person would be kind of on the hot seat. And then we also kind of tackled some issues as a group. So it was a really, really great time. And I'd encourage any other mastermind group to try and get together in person because it-it changes things. I mean, you... Once you've met somebody in person that adds another level.
Maddy Roche: [00:43:47] Yeah. Oh, I get goose bumps just hearing that! That -that sounds like such an incredible experience. I know some other mastermind groups have actually used XYPNLIVE as an opportunity to get an Airbnb together and kind of collaborate, whether they be a team or a mastermind group. I know folks have done that. I'm wondering over those years, are you feeling like you've established a structure with this group or is it very much just kind of Tuesday mornings? Is you drinking coffee together and talking, or is there a real framework to how you run your meetings?
Tyler Landes: [00:44:19] Yeah. I mean, it's not so strict that if somebody has something that they're coming and needing help with that they can't ask for it. Usually in the first ten, fifteen minutes of the call is open for. Issues like if someone's got something going on. But we do map out at the beginning of the quarter what each week is going what what the topics are going to be. So it is somewhat structured in that we know, broadly speaking, what what's going to be discussed. That's like. This morning we had a Google analytics expert, so to speak. Actually, one of one of our members clients had a lot of experience in his professional career with Google Analytics, so came in and kind of did a slide deck presentation for us about what to be looking for and how to use that tool to help know, help run a, you know, our marketing funnel and make sure that we're tracking our marketing process the right way, so that was really cool. But then other meetings will be completely, you know, more based on, on soft skills. We've done, we've read books together where we'll get together and talk about different chapters. We did. I think we did George Kinder's book last year. And we will also (unintelligible) I think before that. So, yeah, it's good to have I think it's good to have some structure. I've been in some groups where there's no structure and I don't think that works that well. But it's, again, not so strict that we can't get help with the thing that we, that we might need, and we've got a slack channel that's like blowing up with stuff all the time.
Tyler Landes: [00:45:54] Wow. That is a, that's inspiring. I hope that all of our listeners who are either engaged or thinking about engaging in a mastermind group use some of those ideas to be able to really make their time worth it. Do you feel any competition with your study group members or have you over the years saying that this is something we hear a lot about? Not a lot. I mean, I believe a lot of our members have the abundance mentality, but I think it's really easy when you're starting out to consider that advisor down the road less of a center of influence and much more of a threat. Could you shine some light on that?
Tyler Landes: [00:46:28] Sure. So my, my mastermind group in particular is geographically diverse and otherwise diverse. We're in California and D.C. and... one of the Dakotas (sorry, Ben).
Tyler Landes: [00:46:41] (laughter) North Dakota!
Tyler Landes: [00:46:44] And- North Dakota, and Texas and Missouri for me, so we're all over the place. So there's not really any direct competition there. There wouldn't be even if we were all in the same town. The people that I Network with locally, there's some other excellent XYPN members locally that I meet with pretty regularly weekly or at least every few months they get together for coffee or whatever. And there's never been a sign of competition in terms of like not wanting to share everyone. I've always been and everyone that I've really networked with is all was super open and wanting to learn from each other and share best practices, and we're all trying to figure it out. And there are more than enough young families going around that need the help that we provide.
Maddy Roche: [00:47:32] Totally. And is that your niche? Young families just like you.
Tyler Landes: [00:47:36] In general, if I, if I had to pick one, I don't know how well-defined it is again with the marketing that I don't really do. But it has kind of happened. The people that I attract are usual in the mid to late, you know, early, early to mid thirties, are usually married, usually have a kid on the way or maybe a toddler, so, I mean, it's, it's just kind of happened naturally for whatever I've been doing has kind of attracted those types of people, which I enjoy working. For sure.
Maddy Roche: [00:48:14] Yeah. You're, you're so clearly an entrepreneur and have had that is as your "why", but I'm wondering: you alluded to wanting to work with folks like you back when you were at your first position. But do you have a mission statement? You have a real North Star group of why you do this work?
Tyler Landes: [00:48:31] Yeah, I mean, I don't know. I'm sure I had one written out ready to go back in 2015. It anymore kind of were what I. Tell myself or what's in my head is just that I wanted. I wanted a profession where I could spend my working hours helping to make a positive impact in. Families lives. And with, you know, and along the way. Be able to provide, you know. The same thing for my own family. So financial planning is the perfect intersection for me of wanting to help other people do the best they can do with their resources and then also be able to support my family in the best way possible.
Maddy Roche: [00:49:14] Yeah. You were quite young when you joined XYPN. I know so because we were right around the same age when when you joined XY and our average age, our average member age is 40, and we're younger than that. I'm, I'm wondering, you had a really good experience in the industry before you launched your firm, but what kind of recommendations do you have for folks that maybe find themselves on the younger side? How how did you communicate that to clients? How did you get the respect you needed? But also how do you get over the imposter syndrome?
Tyler Landes: [00:49:48] I don't. Yeah. That's day to day.
Maddy Roche: [00:49:51] (laughter)
Tyler Landes: [00:49:54] You know, that's... That doesn't go away. And I think, you know, even hearing Carl Richards talk about it, you know, that's not something that ends. It's something you acknowledge and respect and deal with in a positive way. But, yeah, I. Joining... If I hadn't had the experience that I had right out of college, if I hadn't joined the firm that I did and worked under the people that I did, I would not have been ready to go out on my own. There were a few people I know early on in the Network who were maybe, you know, fresh out of college and... I, I don't know how they fared, but I know that I would not have fared well. So I have always told people who are thinking about going out on their own who maybe don't have any experience yet or have very little to try and find an intermediate step where they can go and learn from somebody, and it's possible to start your own your own business, but it's harder to know how to sit across from somebody and talk about the intimate details of their financial life and personal life, so that is the experience that you've got to have one way or another. If you're going to be a financial planner, you know, if you maybe if you're just talking investments or portfolios or the numbers of of the day, you can get by with with book knowledge, but if I hadn't had the experience with families with clients that I had it with that firm.... You know, that's the piece that you can't replace with anything else, so in terms of how to get the book knowledge and the certifications and the CFP and all of that does give you some credibility when you're young in working with older individuals. That definitely helps, but the end of the day, you know, you have to form a, a trusted relationship, and that just comes down to listening and being empathetic and not being too prescriptive. I guess? There's no one right way to do something, and I say that every day to clients. That's more important, what your objective is and what's a way that works for you that we can get there rather than, you know, well, you need to max out this contribution and you need to do this other thing over here. If you throw... You have to meet people where they are. And that's one thing that I I really learned through the financial counseling, through Zeiders as well, that, that that's really helped is that you can sometimes you have to measure your advice to be actionable if you throw everything at somebody all at once. They may not. They may get overwhelmed or not accomplish any of it. And we've all experienced, you know, long client to do lists that we've sent out. And we're wondering why the clients aren't moving on any of it. Maybe it's because we threw too much of them too quickly. So it's it's important to listen and know what bite size pieces, what steps you can ask somebody to take. That leads them down the path toward where they're trying to get.
Maddy Roche: [00:53:16] Wow.
Tyler Landes: [00:53:16] I don't know if that answers your exact question, but...
Maddy Roche: [00:53:19] That totally does and more! And I think our listeners are going to really appreciate that perspective, if you can believe it. We are rounding out this hour, Tyler, I think you and I could probably talk for six more hours, but what piece of advice would you give yourself in hindsight? Going back to maybe even just right post college about how to do this and how to get up the courage to do it?
Tyler Landes: [00:53:44] Yeah. I think it's a pro and a con. It's one thing to research something and and try and like I mentioned, know where you're going to land before you jump. But sometimes you just have to do it and you're going to learn as you go. One piece of advice that I got from my mentor, my my first boss, was that you can only take clients as far as you've gotten yourself. You can't...
Maddy Roche: [00:54:11] Wow.
Tyler Landes: [00:54:11] So, you know, it's important to embrace life and changes as they come because it's going to give you experience that you might need to help counsel the client through something similar. You know, for example, I couldn't have helped you or told a client to stop racking up debt. If I had been taking out a whole bunch of debt to build the firm, I mean, not to judge anyone else who's gone that route, but for me personally, if that was the conviction that I was going to have and then try and convey to clients, I needed to do that myself as well. So I guess just. Yeah, that you can only you've got to embrace life's changes and then you can only take it. You can only take a client or a family as far as you will also get yourself.
Maddy Roche: [00:54:56] Wow, Tyler. This was such an eye opening and wonderful interview and conversation. Thank you so much for your work. You're doing both with Zeiders, your own clients, what you've done within XYPN as a Founding Member. Thank you for believing in our community early, early on. Thank you so much for sharing your sage advice. I just think that this is going to be such a valuable conversation. I really appreciate it getting to know you, Tyler. And thank you so much.
Tyler Landes: [00:55:23] Absolutely. Thank you, Maddy.
[00:55:25] -- swish --
Maddy Roche: [00:55:26] Avocado toast. Selfies. A mountain of student loan debt. Gen Y is anything but traditional, and with over seventy five million people, it's a population you don't want to ignore. Learn more about how to serve this unique population in our guide called "Attract and Profitably Serve Millennial Clients in your RIA." Discover three key ways to tap into the millennial market and six things that they want from their financial advisor. Visit xyplanningnetwork.com/millennials for your free copy.
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