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SPECIAL EPISODE: New Client Process & Client Experience

Throughout the past few years, the world has undergone a lot of changes. Many people have had to shift their business to be completely virtual in order to accommodate this new way of living, and Mason & Associates, LLC was no different. So, what has changed in their practice and how has this shift impacted their clients? In this episode, Tommy and John will be discussing their new client process, what the client experience is like and why this update is important.

Listen in as they explain why they only work with a specific number of clients and the importance of remembering that you can only have so many relationships in your life before you spread yourself too thin. You will learn how they ensure you’re a good fit for their practice, what to expect during the introduction call and how Mason & Associates makes sure you always have access to the answers you’re seeking in regards to your financial plan.

Listen to the full episode here:

What you will learn:

  • How being a federal employee can ensure you can pay for unexpected things. (4:00)
  • Why Mason & Associates decided to go fully virtual. (6:30)
  • Why virtual meetings are generally better. (8:30)
  • Who Mason & Associates generally serves. (10:30)
  • How much it is to work with Mason & Associates. (13:45)
  • How to work with Mason & Associates. (17:30)
  • What questions will be asked in the introduction call. (23:00)
  • How Mason & Associates can change your life. (29:00)

Ideas worth sharing:

“The neat part about being a federal employee is that you have consistent paychecks, bi-weekly, financed by the federal government.” - Mason & Associates, LLC

“You can’t serve 1000 clients and do all of them justice and be the advisor that you want to be.” - Mason & Associates, LLC

“There are only so many hours in the day.” - Mason & Associates, LLC

Resources from this episode:


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Read the Transcript Below:

Congratulations for taking ownership of your financial plan by tuning into the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, hosted by Mason & Associates, financial advisors with over three decades of experience serving you.

John Mason: Welcome to the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, hosted by Mason & Associates. I'm John Mason, certified financial planner, here this evening with my co-host, business partner, and one of my best friends, Mr. Tommy Blackburn, certified financial planner and CPA. Tommy, how you doing?

Tommy Blackburn: I'm doing great, we just actually having some awesome weather here in Virginia, odd for this time of August. But doing great, enjoying summer, always great to be here with you, John.

Looking forward to doing this podcast and shedding some light on how to work with us, and what our process looks like.

John Mason: Well, it’s exciting, and I know you and I have been really enjoying summer and spending more time with the family, and Water Country USA is right down the street, and it sometimes feels like an episode right out the movie Grown Ups. I don't know if you've seen that one with Adam Sandler, and who's the guy from King of Queens?

Tommy Blackburn: You have to fill me in on that one, but I'm pretty sure I've seen the movie and I know where you're going

John Mason: And they just go to a water park, and there’s these guys who are like middle age and they're having a blast, like they're back in their teenage years. And that's kind of how we've been feeling a little bit, like we're dating our spouses again, having some time off, it's been really great.

Oh, Kevin James is the guy from King of Queens that's in there.

Tommy Blackburn: Oh, now, I know what you're talking about. Me and my wife, Jess did that too recently, we had a blast.

It's been a lot of fun, having that staycation week where you get some time with just your spouse. And like you said, it's like dating and as we've joked, we get to have just us conversations again, which is in and of itself feels rare.

John Mason: Well, now, that you mention that, what's really refreshing about this podcast actually, is being able to have an adult conversation without being interrupted by a two-year-old.

It's kind of cool that we can converse without being yelled at.

Tommy Blackburn: You forget how nice it is. And also, that somebody's not yelling at you every second. Yeah, it's very refreshing.

Other part of news, updates for me that I was thinking about quickly, I told you as we were preparing for this is, it's hot here in Virginia, it's that time of year and our AC broke, but thankfully, it was just a capacitor that had to be replaced.

So, we were up and running pretty quickly. But yeah, it's amazing, you can't put a price tag on air conditioning when it feels like 105 degrees outside.

John Mason: Not only that, but this is a financial planning radio show or podcast and federal employee tilt financial planning, and being able to have that emergency fund where you have to spend a couple hundred bucks in the heat of summer, you want to be able to do that without putting that on credit card debt and obviously, you and Jess have done that.

Tommy Blackburn: Oh yeah, there was no stress about it. It was, “Tell me how much it cost.” This is why we save, so that when this happens, we can get this taken care of, and the planners in us, of course, now thinking, well, the entire system's probably going to go at some point, so let's start preparing for getting that in place down the road.

John Mason: No doubt. And federal employees listening to this podcast, Tommy, always good to remind them; we hope we don't see government shutdowns again. We hope we don't see furloughs and weeks where maybe our federal employees aren't receiving a paycheck.

But the neat part about being a federal employee is that you have consistent paychecks, biweekly financed by the federal government, so that seems really secure.

In our experience, that security can result in having an emergency fund that is maybe below … we know for a fact is below what you and I would feel comfortable with.

Tommy Blackburn: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, granted, our situations are differently, so we have to plan for different circumstances, but you are right.

A lot of times, maybe having a little bit more on that emergency fund, even as a federal employee, because some of these expenses, I don't know if it's inflation, supply chain or what it is, but even if the paycheck's still rolling in, not having to go to high-interest debt or just not having to get too fancy with it, it's nice to be able to pay for these things.

John Mason: So, this episode, Tommy, we're going to talk about The New Client Process and The Client Experience.

And this is our first podcast episode that we're recording without our other co-host Mike Mason (that's my father, he's on vacation). So, this is our first podcast, you and I.

Tommy Blackburn: The man, the myth, the legend is missing, so we're hoping that we'll be able to do this episode justice.

So, John, I kind of mentioned earlier that we want to talk about that new client process, how you work with Mason & Associates, and what the client experience is like. And maybe specifically, why do we think this episode's important?

John Mason: We have already put out 18 episodes of this podcast. I think we launched it Tommy, January and we've got all sorts of topics. We just recently released a VCP kind of special release. So, that was all of our normal biweekly cadence.

And we've started receiving a lot of great calls. A lot of five-star reviews, a lot of introductory phone calls scheduled from folks across the country who are listening and who want to engage us for financial planning services.

So, we thought let's do a quick episode that talks about who we work with, what's the process, what's the experience, and what does it mean to be a client of Mason & Associates.

But we don't want you to turn it off. We don't want you to turn off this episode if you're not interested in hiring us specifically, because a lot of the things that we're going to talk about Tommy, are applicable if you were to hire any financial planning firm across the country.

Tommy Blackburn: Absolutely. So, hopefully, this gives you an idea, as you're saying as to what it's like with us. But even if you don't want to work with us, if you're thinking about another advisory partnership relationship there, give you some background on kind of how to vet these things, get you a little familiar with what a process could or should look like.

And so, as we kick this off John, let's start with who we work with, and if we meet in person or virtually.

John Mason: Let's start Tommy, if that’s okay with you, with how we meet with our clients. And this has been a big change in our firm and I think we've alluded to this and talked about this in previous episodes. But essentially, we're a hundred percent virtual.

And the reason we did that was one, you were here for it, you had joined our firm in 2019, and then COVID hit obviously in 2020, and we were forced to use our technology,, later Zoom, Calendly, Voiceover IP phones, Google chat, or whatever, to communicate with our team. We were forced to use all these tools very, very quickly.

And then towards the end of 2020, we realized that the client education experience was so much better via Zoom. And I think that was a revelation to both of us.

Tommy Blackburn: It really was because it was redundancies, backup plans, that's what all these technologies really were there for. We used them sparingly when clients preferred it that way.

But then all of a sudden, we had to embrace it, the entire world had to embrace it. And it forced us to realize as you're saying, this is a much better experience for the advisors, for the client, for everybody being comfortable; staying on time, sharing of resources on the screen, having the database at our fingertips, making sure we can all focus on the same thing at the same time, as well as still see each other when we want to be able to kind of read each other's expressions and have that bonding experience.

And I guess a couple things come to mind here; one is, we still have a physical office and we do still get to meet clients that come by for some service request. And so, that's been interesting meeting clients when they come by that we've never seen outside of virtual.

And thankfully, what the feedback we've gotten is you made it feel like it was in person, you made it feel like this is family, like we were already home. So, that was positive feedback. Hopefully, that's not just cherry-picking, and I believe that's been across the board and what we've experienced.

And the other thing is, is when we've had the one-off meetings that haven't been virtual, I think everybody agrees this would've been better virtual.

John Mason: No doubt. I mean the reason that we have in-person meetings is primarily when clients are going through some of the most challenging or difficult parts of life, which that could be a terminal illness diagnosis for you or your spouse.

It could be a job layoff or substantial changes in your life where being able to like reach out, touch somebody, handshake, hug, that still does matter, and we're humans and we realized that.

So, those special occasions, we have that physical office. It doesn't mean that it's still not harder. It doesn't mean that we probably couldn't do it better virtually, but as humans, I still think in those instances, we're connecting a little bit better in person when clients are going through those difficult times.

Tommy Blackburn: And to your point, that meeting is not necessarily a financial planning meeting that you're referencing, that's more of a let's come together as people that care about each other.

This is more of an emotional thing for us to be here for each other. And that's why we also will go out and get a beer with clients that just want to catch up as friends, but we like to do the financial planning, heavy lifting type of work virtually, because it just feels like such a better educational, collaborative experience.

John Mason: I think great point. We're probably not going into depth on Medicare IRMAA, and Roth conversions, and tax brackets and distribution strategies. We’re pretty much just like saying, “This is a really hard time, how can I best serve you as a human? I can't make you feel better, but what can we do as a team to be advocate, to be there for you as a human being?” It's really not layering in all those concepts, I think that's a great point.

Tommy Blackburn: Absolutely.

John Mason: As far as who we're working with, so we're meeting virtually almost a hundred percent of the time, which means we can meet with clients across the country or in Virginia, where we're based.

And typically, Tommy, they're 55 plus, which is perfect because federal employees retire at 57, minimum retirement age typically. So, that 55 to 57’s when we like to get engaged.

And then we also do have a minimum account size of assets or investible assets that we're managing for these new clients.

Tommy Blackburn: Right. And that minimum currently is around 700,000. And just based on the way the firm is growing and things are changing, and our desire to continue to serve to the best of our abilities, having those deep relationships, thinking that minimums … a million-dollar minimum is not far into the future, but currently, it's 700,000.

And of course, this is The Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, so that's who we specialize with. We do have some clients that are not federal employees because federal employees tend to be married to folks that aren't federal employees as well.

So, we can certainly work with private sector as well, but federal employees is certainly the specialty body of knowledge there.

John Mason: Can you elaborate just a bit Tommy, because I think if somebody's listening to this podcast and they hear 700,000 minimum or a million-dollar minimum, it's not egotistical. There's a reason why we've set that number.

I think it'd be good for us to talk about why we have that. And then also, if the only thing we care about is like these hard data points.

Tommy Blackburn: Yeah, thank you. Those are great points, John, great for us to touch on here. So, I almost want to start with the last part of your question there, which is these data points matter as to how we quantify things and does this make sense from a business standpoint so that we can offer all the services we want to offer? But one of the first filters is do we get along?

We want to work with other good people, we want to know that you care about your family. These things are very important to us and if you don't check those boxes, if it doesn't seem like we like each other, if it doesn't seem like we share similar values.

And I think we're pretty easy, like our values don't have to be like, I like this football team, you like that football team; but certain core values of who you are as a person. As long as those match up, we're good to go. If not, we're probably not going to be a good match for each other.

And are you looking for a partnership? Are you looking to delegate things? Do you want that educational content being shown to you, and that financial planning process? As to how we got to those minimums — so that's investible assets, assets that we can manage, Mason & Associates can manage.

And the reason we have those is because that is how we are compensated. Our fee is an asset under management fee, and that pays us for that ongoing relationship.

And so, in order for the numbers to make sense, and for us to be able to serve the amount of clients that we can just as a human being, there's only so many people you can serve and do it at a deep good level. We're probably talking about a hundred clients per an advisor is what we're shooting for.

And so, in order for just to make the mechanics of the math work, that's how we arrive at these minimums.

John Mason: And just echoing that point, it's not egotistical. We do believe that we're worth our fee. We do believe that the million dollars in the fee associated with that is money well spent from our clients, but it is a factor, like you said, Tommy, of how many people can we serve, and we want to be paid appropriately for the value that we're delivering.

And we wear so many hats, and we're going to talk about these. But everything from being basically a benefit specialist to a tax planning, retirement planning, investment management, education planning, social security, Medicare, monitoring your net worth, talking about debt options.

Tommy Blackburn: Estate planning, yeah, we cover quite a bit and we're really great at those areas, but we can only go that deep with so many relationships.

And the other thing I'm thinking about John, I don't know if you want to go here or not, but on like the egotistical part, which is not, is that the million dollars just for easy math, it's not as unattainable of a number as it may sound on the surface.

If you've been working a career inside the federal government, let's just say, FERS you put your 5%, they put their 5%, over a career, that's very attainable to actually get to that point.

So, we don't feel like we're really excluding that many of our federal employees, if they've been doing the right things, which kind of brings us back to those subjective characteristics we're looking for.

John Mason: Well, the firm has changed drastically since you and I have joined. Not that, I mean, we've changed it, but the history of Mason & Associates goes back to like 1989, 1990, 1992, when Mike and Ken started working with federal employees and those folks were CSRS.

And it was very uncommon to see TSP balances that were more than a hundred or 200,000 because those folks one, didn't have it; two, were capped at how much they could put in it.

And what we're going to see in this next wave of retirees is people that started working in 1985 to 1990, who are now in that 55 to 65 range who have enjoyed decades of bull markets.

Primarily, the C Fund is the favorite fund of the federal employee, so it's not unattainable. A million-dollar TSP is much more regular now for a retiree than it was even five years ago.

Tommy Blackburn: Absolutely. Thanks for that history background there, John, and I was even thinking, I realize we … so, we have a lot we want to cover and we'll try to make sure we get it all in this flyover time that we have allotted.

But the other part too, is just how all of these services and how we get paid, that's all changed, right? And so, now, we're going deeper and doing all of those various subjects that John hit on, and you can't serve a thousand clients and do all of those topics justice and get to be the advisor you want to be.

So, you can only work with so many, and so these are just ways that you’re back into making this whole system work.

John Mason: There's only so many hours in the day, there's only so many people you can serve. And maybe you remember the book we read that quoted this, but there's actually like quantifiable data that says, “You can only have so many deep relationships with other humans to the point where you've reached saturation.”

And I don't think that number is much more than a 100 to 150, and that includes your spouse, your family members, your clients.

Tommy Blackburn: Your personal relationships. Yeah. I don't know if it was the book Deep Work or if it was a different one, but yeah, there has been scientific studies done into how many meaningful relationships you can have.

John Mason: So, next step, Tommy, let's tell our listeners, they’ve heard our podcast, they've listened to all 18 of the current live episodes, and by this time, when this one airs maybe 23 or 24, and they want to become a client of Mason & Associates what's step one?

Tommy Blackburn: Step one is to book that introductory phone call, you can either call our office to book that, or you can go right onto our website at and request an introductory phone call, you can schedule it right there, or again, you can call our office and we'll be happy to schedule you.

That first phone call, it's again that introductory phone call is meant to be 15 to 30 minutes. And the point there is to just get to see are we a good match for each other? Do we check those subjective boxes? Does it look like this relationship make sense for both sides? Are we looking for each other? Do the stars seem like they're aligning — there's no fee for this call.

And one of our objectives in this call is to make sure that you leave better off than before you contacted us. So, even if it doesn't seem like we can work with you, we're going to put in a good faith effort to give you some educational content in that call that we think could be helpful to you regardless of whether you engage with us or not.

John Mason: So, schedule at, our phone number, which you can probably see, but we'll give it to you anyhow is 757-223-9898. Again, that's 757-223-9898. We do have live staff who answer the phone during normal business hours, Monday through Thursday to help you schedule that introductory call with anybody here at our office in Newport News, Virginia.

And Tommy, to your point, I think it's so great; do we get along? Can we help you? Can you help us? Do we get along? Really, those are the three main things that we're looking for in this call.

And the only thing we ask of the people that schedule these, is to have some interest 10%, 25% or more, maybe that says, “If this goes well, we would like to explore hiring Mason & Associates.”

It is so rare that we have people scheduling these calls, who just rapid fire questions and have no intention of dealing with us in the future, and they're treating us more of like as a charitable entity than a business.

So, the only thing we ask from our listeners, is if you do want to schedule, have some interest in maybe moving forward to the next step, but regardless of how it ends, we are definitely going to have you leaving that call better off than what you came in.

And I think this also leads us perfectly Tommy, into kind of the ongoing process. And we're going to talk about those next steps too, but there's never a point in our process where we have a big hammer that comes down or a big sales pitch that says “We need to move forward today, and this is a one-time good only offer.”

Now, we're going to offer, this makes sense, would you like to schedule the next meeting? We're going to offer that at the end of each scheduled engagement, and if the client or prospective client is ready, they can schedule it. And that's just efficient for everybody.

But if you and your spouse need to take some time to think about it, if you need a week or however long it takes you to get to that decision, we'll send you our link to our calendar to get on the calendar, we'll follow up with you once or twice, if we don't hear from you. And we just hope that if you decide to go another way, you'll let us know too.

Tommy Blackburn: Just so that we can stop our process and know that we didn't drop the ball. And that's great, John. And you'll see as we talk about this process, it's deliberately slow. So, it is the opposite of the hammer being dropped on you.

We really want this process to be given justice so that everybody is comfortable and wants to keep moving forward. Never feels like they were pressured. And because it's virtual, you never left the comfort of your home.

So, it's so easy for you to say no, and there’s nothing easier than just clicking, “Leave meeting” on a Zoom meeting once we get to those. So, if you really are unhappy with what you're seeing, it's easy to just end it that way.

John Mason: We've joked about that so many times, like when you're at somebody's physical office and they begin making you uncomfortable, it's hard to leave. But it is super easy to leave a Zoom meeting where you smell or you see, or you hear sales. It's so easy to just click “leave” and get the heck out of Dodge.

So, after the intro call, let's say, we've agreed. Yes, this makes sense, potential client is excited about the next step; we then move Tommy, to the introductory meeting, which is different. So, let's shed some light on that.

Tommy Blackburn: So, this is where we're moving from the phone call into the Zoom meetings is how, at least currently, we do the virtual meetings, I imagine is how we'll continue, but who knows, technology changes?

So, we'll move to a virtual meeting via Zoom. There's no fee or commitment for this meeting either. Now, we do block off more time. We're blocking an hour off for these meetings. And we're going to, at the end of that scheduling process, when you book the intro meeting, you're going to receive a confirmation email that says “Before this next meeting, here's the data we need for financial planning.” That's going to be things like tax returns, estate documents, LESs, investment statements.

So, as we begin to move into that next meeting, again, there's no commitment, but we want to begin to see that data so that we can begin to have a more informed and in-depth conversation, begin to even point out some things we're observing. And get some clarity from you because we'll say “We saw this, did you have an intention behind this? Or were you aware of it?”

And so, it just begins to allow us to begin to formulate that financial plan. At the end of that meeting, are we at that point, John, or is there more on the intro?

John Mason: I think you hit it well. I would just add that, at least I know for me personally, I like to ask a lot of questions on the introductory phone call. So, I get a little personal. I like to have some high-level information, like how many assets do you have? Do you have any debt, et cetera.

But when we go to that introductory meeting, it's like you move from 30,000-foot view down to like the meat and potatoes. We're getting granular, we're asking very specific, not “Are you charitable? Okay, check the box.”

It's “Are you charitable and to what extent? And how much? And how likely is this to continue for the next 10 years?” And in getting very granular and getting more specific. So, that's the biggest change between meeting one and meeting two, I think.

Tommy Blackburn: You're absolutely right. It is getting very detailed at that point on the financial data, as well as getting more personal.

We are definitely going to get into more of like, let's talk more about the goals and what are we spending now? What do we think we want to spend? What's our dreams here, and what're going to pull it all together to see if it's right or not.

But another compliment, I think we've received from a recent new client, they got this data request and they uploaded everything, and it can be quite a bit of information depending on your situation that we're requesting.

And as we started having these conversations, they said, “Wow, you guys actually read everything we gave to you.” And everything, maybe that's a strong word to use, but they were impressed by we definitely went through it with a fine-tooth comb, and we had detailed questions based on their individual situation.

John Mason: Most planners out there, maybe we're throwing some rocks here; maybe we’re getting a little bit on our high horse.

But why do people request TSP statements? So, they know how much money you have, so they can initiate some sort of transfer that's going to make them a 7% commission. That's why most people want the TSP statement.

We hope that we can transfer that TSP as well. But we're looking for traditional verse Roth, we're looking for military exempt contributions, we're looking to make sure if there's a TSP loan — there's so much more in these documents Tommy, than just like gathering them to make a sale. We're gathering them to ask really intelligent questions.

Tommy Blackburn: Absolutely. So, after we've had those conversations, hopefully, everybody's feeling pretty excited. We're continuing down that path. Again, you could bow out of the process at that point or if we want to continue moving forward, this is where the commitment begins.

And as John said, it's a similar process of, we've got the calendar here with the link, the scheduling link, we can book it right now, or if you need some time to digest, think about it or just take a break and look at your calendar when you get a chance, we can send you a link.

Either way, we schedule the initial financial planning meeting. That's the next meeting in this process. And this is where we're going to get back together where you block off two hours, there's a lot of information we cover. It can be a little bit like drinking from a fire hose.

But it's in depth, it is dynamic. We're going to make adjustments on the fly and we're going to make sure we answer what's important to you and that we give you our action items, our observations and recommendations at the end of that meeting, as well as hopefully move on to an ongoing relationship, but you're not committed to that.

So, after we go through this pretty fun and in-depth meeting, that's when we're going to issue a $2,500 invoice for that initial financial planning meeting, which really covered an intro call, an intro meeting, and a financial planning meeting.

So, that's just to compensate us for that amount of time, because you're not committed, you're not committed to continue going forward. And there has been a lot of value in work put into setting this initial plan up. From there, if we want to, we're going to move into that onboarding experience.

John Mason: And Tommy, you hit it very well. And I think maybe just adding a little bit about that initial planning meeting, is we do pick up the one-time 2,500? We do provide the best recommendations and advice that we can provide with the data that we have today in 2022.

But we all have to fully acknowledge that the tasks, the recommendations, the actions are based on Secure Act as we know it today, not Secure Act 2.0, not the tax laws that are going to go into effect next year. So, what you have is a static plan with information. That's the best we can give you at this point in time.

It is going to be valuable and it's going to answer the questions that those potential clients or new clients have; can I retire? What do I do with social security?

So, we're going to answer those questions, provide additional actions, if we move forward to this step. And this is kind of similar to that intro call; we do not want to produce hundreds of one-time financial plans, because the value is not in the creation of this initial document.

Now, that's the baseline for our relationship together, but I know Tommy, you and I and our entire firm, thinks it's great. It answers some of those like immediate questions, but the value is ongoing.

So, if you're not interested in an ongoing relationship, we would prefer you not ask us to do a one-time financial plan. If you're on the fence, hopefully, we'll be able to win you over and show you that and demonstrate that value during that initial planning meeting.

Tommy Blackburn: Yeah, thank you, John. We're not out there to try to do as many one-time financial planning fees as we can. Again, you're not committed, but we're hoping that you have that good faith that you think you're looking for an ongoing relationship. And this is just another checkpoint on the way to establishing that.

I think about some of the fun things that … we cover so much in these recommendations, and some of it, just having that relationship, that ongoing relationship to implement those ideas as well as for when life changes. But a simple one could be — I say simple but, “Hey, you're pretty charitable. You've got some stock you've been sitting on, we should do a donor advised fund.”

Well, as part of that, we've got the tax projection rate roll. We tell you exactly how much you owe. Maybe we're going to layer in a Roth conversion, which if we're working together, we're going to pull the trigger. We're all going to help you set up that donor advised fund. We're going to help you transfer the money in there. We're going to help you monitor it.

So, there's just a number of things that happen with that ongoing relationship that I think everybody's going to feel better off having the team together.

And I'm even thinking about some other ones, I think even today that I experienced where a newish relationship, they sold a rental as we’ve started working together. That’s part of the plan, but we updated that tax projection. Then as part of it, they've gotten bored and they've got a skill where they can go earn as an independent contractor, some additional money on the side, their fund money as they're calling it.

But anyway, we had a meeting today to talk about setting up an LLC, filing for the tax ID with the IRS. What do estimated payments need to look — just different things where that's that ongoing life changes.

I'm hoping to give a decent example there of like, this is just how this relationship can bob and weave as things change.

John Mason: I think you hit it perfectly. These podcast episodes, man, are so fun because I think it gets us both reinvigorated into our process and why we do what we do.

And you hit on everything I think that we kind of wanted to wrap up in this podcast, which is after we get through that initial plan, the next step is onboarding, which is the beginning of the transfer of assets. That make sense. Intentional, for example, non-qualified assets, we don't just transfer everything and sell it.

We look at the capital gains or losses and the ramifications of doing these transfers, but that onboarding, the transfer of assets, that is the engagement and that ongoing relationship.

And Tommy, the only thing I want to add to you, because I think you hit it all perfectly. We're available throughout the year, we're accessible throughout the year for all of these things; social security apps, Medicare apps, “I'm starting an LLC, I sold a rental.” And maybe that's not you, maybe you have a very boring year. Maybe you're a client with a very boring year. Nothing's changed.

We're still going to have a strategic planning meeting in April or May because even though you don't think you being the client, that there's something significant about this year, we can almost guarantee you that there's something significant every year when we meet with our clients.

So, even if it's a boring year, strategic planning meetings are a mandatory event that we have with all of our clients typically in April and May.

Tommy Blackburn: Absolutely. And then chances are, probably some type of, even if it's no changes are needed, some type of tax projection at some point during the year, definitely, probably by the end of the year. But as you said, it's customized to you.

So, you may have a boring year, and then you may have a very eventful year. And so, the relationship will ebb and flow as it needs to.

So, I think we moved into kind of, how does that onboarding process begin? We'll schedule that meeting. Do we need to go through kind of what that onboarding process … you did cover it at a high level, beginning to transfer assets, figuring out what makes sense.

John Mason: I think that maybe the only thing left to cover Tommy, is maybe just reminding our audience that we're fee-only, we are fiduciaries. Four out of the five advisors here are certified financial planners. And our goal is to work with clients who want to work with us.

So, we're going to help you transfer the assets and you're not going to have any time commitment. There's no surrender charges, there's no commitment period. We only serve you for the amount of time that you want to be served.

And our fee that we charge is in arrears, meaning every 90 days, we charge a fee, we charge one and a half percent on the first million of assets that we're managing. And then it tears down from there.

If you hire us for 45 days, clients pay a 45-day fee, and we love to say this, it doesn't happen very often, but we will help you transfer the assets, and with a smile. And we hope that you give us the opportunity to help you transfer them out with a smile, if that ever happens.

And we would much rather receive that phone call. We'd much rather be a resource to any client who is exiting. Of course, we love any exit survey or reason why, but we are committed to a happy ending process, just like we were happy beginning that.

So, I think that's the only thing left to cover there. And maybe we hit on a couple action items and wrap up this episode.

Tommy Blackburn: So, I think action items, the most self-serving one that comes to mind is if you're enjoying a podcast, please leave us five stars. Leave us a review and share this with any friends, colleagues, family members, you think it might be applicable to.

John Mason: We would love to connect with you. Whether it's an introductory phone call, a comment, an email to with topics and future things that you would like to hear from us.

We can share with you that we are recording two fun episodes with guests. We're going to have an episode with a mortgage company to talk about VA loans versus conventional and a host of other items.

We've gotten an estate planning attorney who's a partner at a law firm here locally, who's going to be a tremendous resource to talk about how we can do estate planning for federal employees and implement those.

So, we've got a lot of great stuff coming up on these future episodes and we'd love to hear what interests you. So, you can find us on social media, you can send us those emails, a lot of ways that we can get in touch.

Tommy Blackburn: Absolutely. I think the other action item is as one of the taglines, “If you don't plan to fail, you fail to plan.” So, as always, we're big on putting those plans in place, get it started.

Hopefully, if you fit with us, you'll reach out as we've kind of laid that out. And if not, hopefully you have a good idea of what maybe a process could look like if you're vetting some other folks.

John Mason: Tagging onto that Tommy; if you're a do-it-yourselfer, you're probably doing a good job. We've met a lot of good do-it-yourself financial planners out there as federal employees.

We would just encourage you that if you've never met with a financial planner, maybe go on XY Planning Network search for some that specialize with federal employees, maybe go on NAPFA or CFP.

Interview two or three, just do some due diligence. Let's see if you're missing anything. You may be great at what you're doing, but it doesn't hurt to get one, two or three opinions, kind of as a gut check as you get closer to retirement.

Tommy Blackburn: Yeah, and as we've kind of said before our job here, we work with folks who have already baked in so many words, they've baked a good cake, and we're putting icing on it.

So, we should be able to add value. We'd be pretty surprised if we're not able to. So that's kind of, again, that due diligence. It's not that you don't have already a successful plan, but maybe it could be enhanced.

John Mason: Folks, we’re Mason & Associates. This has been another episode of the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast. If you haven't already connected with the financial planning team, it's time to do that.

We hope you have a wonderful evening. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for rating us those five stars and being a listener of our podcast. We appreciate your service and we look forward to seeing you soon.

The topics discussed on this podcast represent our best understanding of federal benefits and are for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as investment, financial planning, or other professional advice.

We encourage you to consult with the office of personnel management and one or more professional advisors before taking any action based on the information presented.