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Piggyback your way to wealth by learning from others — with Todd Tresidder (transcript)

On Tradestreaming Radio, we’re interviewing lots of innovative entrepreneurs, investors, and researchers all trying to make investors better at what they do. Check out our archives. Subscribe on iTunes.

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Announcer: Live from the Internet, it’s Tradestreaming Radio with your host, Tradestreaming.com’s own Zack Miller.

Zack: Hey, this is Zack Miller, and this is Tradestreaming Radio where we help investors make better decisions through tips, tools, and technology. We interview some of the smartest people out there, whether their investors themselves, entrepreneurs, or service
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Today we’re going to explore building wealth. It’s an issue that you see a lot of people marketing on the Internet. Many people seem to have very simple solutions, package solutions. I’ve always been wary of the entire, sort of, financial coaching and life coaching industry just because I find it hard to believe that some of the techniques these people became rich themselves off of were became replicable or that could be taught and learned by other people.

Today we have a guest, Todd Tresidder, who is an ex-hedge fund guy who was able to retire at age 35 and has spent the past 15 years helping people sort of break through some of their bad habits, some of their behavioral asymptotes and help propel them into building wealth and achieving some of the financial goals that they have.

I found Todd because he has an incredible repository of information. He has over a thousand published pages of content, free content for people at his site, FinancialMentor.com. I’ll have a link for that at the blog, so check that out.

During this conversation with Todd we’ll explore how he himself built wealth and how he’s working with clients to sort of provide that same experiential learning that he picked up and employ that in their own lives. It’s a very interesting conversation. I felt like I could talk to Todd for hours. I, myself, probably need the therapy, but hope you guys find this useful and engaging and let me know.

Listen to the full program

Piggyback your way to wealth by learning from others by tradestreaming

So tell me a little about your background and how you’ve evolved, your expertise in the industry?

Todd: Well, I came from the hedge fund side of the business, but this is before they were even called hedge funds. They were call private placement partnerships back then.

Zack: Yes.

Todd: I spent my career kind of on what you call the rocket science side of the business, which is developing computerized mathematical models, statistical models for trading the markets.

Zack: Is that your background?

Todd: That’s how I cut my teeth in the business is I developed trading systems, if you will. I built computerized models for the markets.

Zack: Okay.

Todd: That’s where I learned the ropes. That’s where I learned the lessons of what works, what doesn’t and why. I learned a lot of lessons, things like risk and reward on a portfolio basis are actually inversely correlated. Everybody says the more you risk, you have to risk more to make more, right? It’s like the conventional belief. Well, that’s actually wrong. It can be true on an individual security basis, but on a portfolio basis it’s wrong.
There’s a mathematical reason why. It has to do with the math of how wealth compounds.

Nobody teaches this stuff. I sort of stumbled into it when I kept looking at the equity curves of the models I developed, and the smoother the equity curve, which as you know is the
mathematical definition of risk, standard deviation of returns, so the lower the risk, the more the model was making. I was like, well, this is all backwards. But it was consistent. It was absolutely consistent, and I finally started figuring out the math of why that was true.

So that’s where I cut my teeth. We reached a point in the business where the business no longer served the partners. It was a successful hedge fund. There was no reason to get rid of
it. We sold it to a bigger fish. It was one of the infamous market wizards, Tom Basso of Trendstat Capital Management.

Zack: Yes.

Todd: Yes, he bought the company from us. All the partners went their own ways, and it was more personal reasons than anything else. I really wanted to get out from behind the computer screen and connect more with people. I “retired” at age 35, retired in quotations by the way. That’s a whole other conversation. I retired at age 35 from the business. People were asking me, “Well, how did you do it?” Back then, this was in the raging bull market, late ’90s, when tech stocks were going nuts and everybody wanted a hot stock tip.

What I realized is people didn’t even understand the essential questions to ask. They didn’t even really understand like what’s the decor behind what it takes to build wealth and everything.

They all thought it was about buying the next Microsoft or Google or whatever, and they didn’t understand much how wealth is traditionally built.

So I just decided I wanted to connect more with people, and I realized that there’s a conflict of interest between how the financial advice business is run and what people really truly
need. So I decided to create something that didn’t exist back then, but it’s becoming more popular now, which is financial coaching.

Zack: What is a financial coach?

Todd: The essence of financial coaching is you’re separating the financial advice from the investment product sales side of the business.

So if you really look at investment advice as it’s commonly sold, I guess you recently put out an eBook that talks about Ken Fisher as a idealized model of how to run a practice. Is that true?

Zack: That’s correct, yes.

Todd: As you’re well aware, the financial advice business at the core it’s a sales business of which the financial advice is selling investment products is how you monetize. It’s the product you sell. It’s no different than a car salesman selling cars, or anybody else, the refrigerator guy, an appliance salesman who sells refrigerators. Well, most brokers and advisers are just really salesmen just selling investment products. It’s not insulting. That’s just the nature of the business. That’s how they monetize their business models.

Zack: But in some sense, and you spoke to this earlier, everybody in every profession is selling. So if it’s a professional services thing, even if you’re not custodying assets, you’re still selling your services and your goal is not to tell them something and have them go away forever. I mean ultimately you have to create a revenue stream, right?

Todd: Absolutely. Absolutely true. So the distinction is once, an adviser sells investment products but portrays themselves or represents themselves as an adviser – notice even the term adviser – but their selling investment products. They are a salesman. Okay? Whereas I the coach am defining myself as selling educational services and that’s all I sell. I do not sell investment products. So the distinction is I’m portraying myself for what I am, which is an educator. I sell advice, but not advice in the sense of investment product sales. Advice in the sense of how do you build wealth?

The important distinction on that is there are no conflicts of interest. My advice is not biased by any commissions or revenue streams that I can create, because the only revenue stream I have is the advice that I sell.

Zack: Got it. So specifically what type of advice are people seeking out your guidance?

Todd: Well, what they seek and what they need are two different things.

Zack: Right. When they come to you, they’re not asking the right questions?

Todd: Well, it depends. In math, that’s probably true. The people that actually hire me are asking the right questions. They get it, and so they do end up hiring me. They do end up seeking my services. But there’s an education process to even understand what are the right questions to ask to build wealth. Where do you have to look? What mistakes are you making that are holding you back?

There’s an education process behind that to understand what is the core of building wealth. It’s more of a personal issue than a financial as you’re probably well aware. In traditional financial planning to build a diversified portfolio, there’s not a lot of skill required. I mean, if you look at the ETFs and the mutual funds that are offered, you can get low cost ETFs or mutual funds that provide a diversified portfolio. You can build
an internationally diversified portfolio with a few clicks of a mouse. The educational required is not that advance.

Zack: Right, for under 20 basis points.

Todd: Yes. I’m sorry, how many basis points?

Zack: 20.

Todd: Yes, under 20, yes. There was a post recently put out by a Wall Street Journal guy. He had five different portfolios for under 20 basis points.

Zack: Exactly.

Todd: Yes. So there’s no need to get professional management for such service. Now if you go into more advance investment techniques, that’s fine, but the reality is that’s not what most financial advisers are selling you. They’re not selling you advance investment techniques. They’re charging you high fees for mundane services that you can purchase elsewhere for cheaper.

The thing about it that’s important is there have been studies or research done. A common misnomer is that Morningstar, either you go out and you buy five star rated Morning Star funds, and Morningstar is straight up about it, a five star rated fund has no relationship to future performance.

Zack: Right. They came out with their own research that showed that, right?

Todd: Yes. They’ve been very direct about it. It’s not like they’re hiding anything. In fact, it was great integrity on that issue because a lot of people are really under the misunderstanding. They think a high star rating means a high future performance and it
doesn’t.

However, in other research, what they found, maybe you’re aware of this, what is the number one or not number one, but what is one of the more obvious indicators of future investment performance?

Zack: Management fees.

Todd: Yes, low investment expenses. In other words, if you want to get in the top quartile, I believe it is, of investment performance with the highest probability, simply select the lowest cost funds. That’s one of the highly correlated indicators.

Zack: So are investors aware of this when they’re coming to you?

Todd: No.

Zack: Or is this something you’re telling them, you’re teaching them?

Todd: Well, what we want to do is we want to create a distinction. The financial advice business as it’s commonly practiced, they’re in the business of managing the wealth you’ve already created.

Okay? If you’re not clear on this, go ahead and try to get them to return your call if you have zero assets to invest.

Zack: Right. Okay.

Todd: Right? They’re in the business of managing the wealth you’ve already created, whereas what most people need is somebody to help them create the wealth in the first place.

Zack: So again, you’re talking about more like a lifestyle of earning, right? It’s more like personal finance and they’re still investing, right?

Todd: Well, there are layers to it. If you want to build wealth, what you have to do is you have to design a wealth plan, and this is not a wealth plan like a broker would create. It’s very different. You have to design a wealth plan that’s based on proven principles that lead to financial growth, wealth. It has to relate, and this is the key point, it has to relate to your unique skills, values, abilities, and resources. Okay? For example, in my client base, if you look, they’re all following the same principles, but none of them have the same financial plan.

Zack: Okay.

Todd: If you went to a traditional financial planner, for any given financial planner, most of the clients’ portfolios are going to look relatively similar. That’s because it’s projection of the financial planner’s expertise. He’s running their portfolios for them, whereas if you look at my clients, they’re all doing really stuff. Some of them are building wealth through multi-family apartments. Others are focused on the growth of their business, and they’re acquiring the property that their business is in. Then they’re parking paper assets in their tax deferred accounts. Other people are trying to multiply wealth through a single family home. I’m just thinking off my head about multiply clients.

Zack: Sure.

Todd: I mean they’re all different. But they’re all using similar principles. There are key principles involved in the wealth building process.

Zack: Are they typically going about it the right way, or are they asking you to step in and sort of help them, I guess, as a management consultant help them really refine their revenue model?

Todd: It’s interesting you use the term management consultant. That’s accurate for a portion of what I do, but a lot of it also, I mean, there’s an educational component. There’s like a management consultant component. There’s also a clarification or drawing out of the client, helping them clarify where they’re going. What are the critical factors to success? What do they really need to focus on?

In addition, there are some really simple value streams that come out of it, such as just even accountability. Just every week refocusing on what you’re doing and what is the most important factors you need to work on this week to create success. That alone changes people’s futures.

So there are layers to the process that all compound and result in more, better, different results, I guess. is the easy way to say it.

Zack: Are there certain things you find across clients that are sort of shared mistakes that you seeing people rubbing up against?

Todd: I’m trying to think. Yes, I guess so. I guess the way I can answer that one really common mistake is claiming you want something but not really being committed to it. Like the story is . . .well, I’ll give you the riddle.

So there are three birds sitting on a tree, and two decide to fly away. How many remain on the tree?

Zack: One.

Todd: Okay.

Zack: Oh, they only decided to fly away, right?

Todd: Yes. All three remain on the tree because the decision to fly and the action of taking the risk of actually flying are two different things. So all three remain on the tree, and I think that’s one of the really common mistakes people make is they confuse the decision or the desire for something with what it takes to actually pull it off.

Zack: Do you get under the covers enough to help them sort of move from thought to deed?

Todd: Oh, yes. Yes, absolutely. That’s what I do.

Zack: What does that mean? It means like coming to their house and pushing them out the door. What does that look like in the real world?

Todd: What it looks like in the real world is the person becoming clear on what they want, committing to that process, and then week by week working toward it. What happens, when you commit to a process and you’re accountable for it, you face the reality of it every week. One of two things is going to occur. Either you’re going to get the goal, because you worked toward it every week and you keep making incremental progress, or you’re going
to get so stuck in your own stuff and tired of hearing your own nonsense in your brain that you fire me and get rid of me and drop below goal. So that’s kind of how it ends up working is people face their demons and they either get their goal or they don’t.

Is that making sense?

Zack: Totally making sense. I don’t know if this is something you can talk about, but I would assume that if you’re able to help them in that one area that they would see benefits from that across their life, not just their financial life. That would reflect back on their relationships, right?

Todd: Right. You hit on one of my main principles I teach, which is what I
teach about building wealth . . . all right, let me back up a
second. Can I give you a little story for a second?

Zack: Sure.

Todd: Okay.

Zack: Just no more riddles.

Todd: No, no more riddles. There are two types of goals out there in the world, and I created this. I’ve never seen it written anywhere. There are what I call big goals and small goals. Now most all the goal seeking technology everybody teaches, if you will, or goal achievement technology, I should say, is also what I call small goals. Now the way I define small goals is goals that you can cross off a list. So for example, people might think buying
their own home is a big goal, right?

Zack: Sounds like a big one.

Todd: Okay. It’s not. It’s a small goal, because you can get it done and you can cross it off the list. Big goals, however, can never be crossed off the list. They are process orientated goals. They’re the process of living. So for example, your health is a big goal. Your relationships are a big goal. Your spirituality is a big goal. Your wealth is a big goal. For as long as you live, you can never cross it off the list, because even when you achieve it, you must manage it and deal with it. So what you’ll find, if you notice about that list I gave you, is the big goals are the spice of life. In other words, that’s where all the juice of life is in the big goals.

Now, coincidently or not coincidently, they’re all process goals. Now what I figured out is that you can only really live effectively less than a handful of big goals in your life, and yet there are a lot more big goals to live in life. So there’s a prioritization process that has to occur, and it’s that active prioritization that determines what big goals you achieve in
life.

Zack: So are helping clients define that prioritization skill and then . .. where does your involvement start and where does it end?

Todd: Well, okay, so I didn’t connect what I stated with your prior question, which is I’m teaching them a technology by which to achieve big goals. I’m teaching them a technology by which to prioritize their life and organize this whole system. So the
answer to this last question you gave me is absolutely yes. I’m working with them at that level. That’s what gets the results.

Now to go back to your earlier question, yes, one of the comments I get routinely and you’ll see it up in the financial coaching section of my site where I talk about what client feedback they give me, one of the comments I get routinely is this helps people quit smoking. They improve their health. They get better relationships. All these things I’m talking about in the big goal areas, they lose weight. They turn the corner on other areas of their life. They improve relationships with their children, their wife. It goes on and on and on, because once they get how to gain this play and how it really works, they see the application and start applying it in other areas of their life.

So what I like to say is that financial coaching we enter their lives through a porthole called finance, and that’s what produces tangible results that justify the cost of the process.
However, it positively impacts all aspects of their lives.

Zack: It’s so interesting as I’m assimilating this information. I happen to be, I think, an individual who sort of works on these types of issues and these are important too. Building mathematical computer models for algorithmic trading doesn’t necessarily prepare you for what you’re doing now. Where in your personal life did you gain these skills to be this type of guide?

Todd: That’s a great question. It actually explains my transition from hedge fund to financial coach. I have a huge value, one of my personal values, if you will, is personal growth. I believe that that’s the core of my life. It’s what gives me satisfaction. I like to be constantly growing, expanding, and just becoming more of who I am capable of being. One of the reasons I left the hedge fund business and one of the reasons I loved it in the
beginning and why I left it in the end was I loved it in the beginning because I grew so much through learning the investment process and learning what works, what doesn’t, and why.

Once I understood it at the core, once I understood to where I knew how to invest properly, I knew the very small, because again my job was basically I was testing most of what was out there, trying to figure out what worked, what didn’t, and why.

Right? So I spent ten years doing that, modeling all this stuff that I could find and figuring out what works. So it was a huge growth process for me. At some point, I figured it out. All of a sudden I wasn’t growing anymore, and I couldn’t understand why I was dissatisfied with my work, which comes back to what I was saying earlier about how we parted for personal reasons. Well, this was my personal reason, was I no longer found it satisfying
to continue working in that field because it became about me making just a few percentage points extra for . . . I mean if I worked the rest of my career, all I would do is figure out how to make a couple of more percentage points for my rich clients.

Zack: Right.

Todd: I didn’t really want that to be what my tombstone read. I wasn’t finding it satisfying after I had learned this stuff because I wasn’t growing still. So I bridged myself over to the financial coaching side because I felt, for one, there’s a huge need. I think that this whole, well as I said, I published a piece this morning on minimalist guide to financial planning, where it talks about there’s a whole mismatch between how people perceive financial advice and what they really need. I just felt like somebody needed to put the stuff out there, and I understood it.

So it’s my contribution back. It’s how I give back all the knowledge I’ve created.

Zack: But not to minimalize that transition, because I understand it, but aren’t the people you’re helping now, don’t they also have rich people problems?

Todd: Yes. Yes, but there are also a lot that don’t. In other words, it’s a much broader cross section. As you well know, for somebody to hire a hedge fund manager, there are qualification rules which puts them in the multi-millionaire status. What I’m trying to do
is help everyone. Anybody that’s committed enough to building wealth, to put the time in to learn the lessons and do the work, that’s my target client. That’s who I’m trying to help. I have tons of free information, so that you don’t even have to pay me a dime. I’ve got just in the top 50 articles section of my site, there are over a thousand printed pages of content free.

Zack: Having gone through your site and received some the information, I have to say I think you’re an excellent content marketer, using content to get people to interface with you, to interact with you, and then propelling them to, I guess, increase their relationship if they want.

Todd: Thank you.

Zack: So if they give you an email address, getting on the list or contacting you, asking you a question, are you using that primarily . . . let me state it differently. Is that your main focus in terms of marketing you and your practice?

Todd: Absolutely. My belief is I want to market by giving more value than I’m paid. So as I succeed with the business as a business model, it’s a measure of how much value I’m giving. So that’s why I took the content marketing approach. So thank you for noticing that, because the essence of the content marketing approach is to give tremendous value. That’s the only reason somebody would be interested in taking the next step with you is because you got so much value from them and they want to go the next step.

Zack: I have to say I read “18 Essential Lessons for a Self-made Millionaire,” and I recommend listeners to check that one out. You said something in there that stuck with me. I remember I even mentioned it to my partner. You said, “Somebody in retirement who has to live on his principal, that’s not freedom.”

Todd: Right.

Zack: It so encapsulates sort of that stage of life for a lot of people.

Todd: Yes.

Zack: I thought that was pretty insightful.

Todd: Thanks. Yes, it comes from direct experience. Most of what I teach comes from direct experience. One of the weird things about me is I’ve lived so much of this stuff in such a short period of time. I mean, I consider my personal life sort of the crash test dummy of financial planning.

Zack: You’re on the accelerated plan.

Todd: Yes, I’ve just tried so many different things, basically again because for me it’s about growth, and it’s been a grand adventure. Fortunately, it’s worked out fine, but I’ve made some just ridiculous mistakes along the way trying this stuff out.

One of those was living off of principal. It was not a good time.

Zack: What was your experience?

Todd: Well, it creates a poverty mentality.

Zack: This was post hedge fund sale, right?

Todd: Yes, yes. It creates a poverty mentality. I mean, if you look at the traditional financial planning for how much is enough to retire, I think they’ve got it all wrong, and that’s why I wrote a book on it. Again, I only write this stuff and develop this stuff when I see where the truth as I understood it is very different from what is commonly taught. So I wrote a book, which that one’s a paid book. The one you told everybody about is a free eBook that they get for signing up.

I have a paid one on their, which is “How Much Is Enough to Retire?” That’s because it’s very different from what is commonly taught and what you get throughout the Internet.

Zack: One question I ask everybody on this show regardless of whether they’re professional investors or they’re entrepreneurs, and obviously sometimes they come in the same package, but where do you go for information to learn? What resources do you find yourself, online or offline, sort of coming back to, that you’re finding valuable?

Todd: It’s funny you hit me with this, because I’ve got to get my courses developed. So I’m just in the process of unsubscribing a lot. I haven’t been pulling a lot of financial information from the Web. I’ve been just kind of keeping up with current trends. So
things like I think Abnormal Returns has a good digest, a blog post that you can scan quickly. But I’ve really been pulling back from that because my job is I need to get the products out and develop the information. So that’s where my focus is.

Zack: Are there some resources that you’re turning to for that process that you’re finding valuable? Or does most of that come internally from your own life experiences?

Todd: Well, no, for developing the business model, I was listening to a lot of different internet marketers, content marketers. I just wanted the best.

Zack: Like Copyblogger or something?

Todd: Yes, Copyblogger.com I think is one of the best. Those guys, they walk the talk and they deliver great value. So I think Copyblogger.com would be one of the top, but there are a lot of others. I mean, I’ve learned little tidbits from so many people that we could fill a ten hour interview with me just listing them. So I guess you could call me an info-manic. Starts with an I not an N.

Zack: You mentioned these courses you’re putting together. What should we expect to see from it?

Todd: What I’m trying to do I’ve been coaching people for more than a decade now. When I started out coaching, I made a lot of mistakes everybody else makes. I started out thinking that it was all about me just telling people how I did it and they would duplicate my success, right? I was in for a rude awakening. It doesn’t work. That’s why the untold secret in seminars is that almost nobody implements what is taught, right?

Zack: Right.

Todd: Okay. So the difference in coaching is you’re on the phone each week with these guys so you have to produce results. You can’t hide behind the podium, deliver this great speech that everybody applauds, and then walk away and think you did something. There’s no hiding from results. So through coaching I’ve learned what actually does work. It took me a few years. I fumbled with it for years. I did figure it out. So now I’m putting together .
. . I want to reach more people, so I’m trying to put into a group coaching and more of a downloadable format so I can reach more people at a lower price point, because the coaching is expensive. It’s not for everybody.

Zack: So like webinar type material?

Todd: Yes, exactly. It’s going to be combination of videos, audios, PDFs, and then there will be group coaching. So I’m putting it together. It’s called, “7 Steps to 7 Figures,” What I’ve done is I’ve figured out that no matter where people come to me at, there is a seven step process that I take them through. It’s a logical, step by step process that I have to take them through to get the results. So I’m now finally now in the process of developing that out, and it’s going to be a lot of work. So I really have to commit to that process.

If any of your listeners are interested, I’m going to be launching what I call the “Founders Club,” which is where people can actually walk through the development with me and they’ll get a lot more personal attention from me because they’ll be part of the development process. I’m going to be launching that sometime this summer or fall.

Zack: For sure. When you go live with that, let us know and we’ll push that out.

Todd: Great, I’d love to.

Zack: Well, thank you very much for your time. This has been really interesting. I think we probably have three podcasts worth of material in the background that we can probably get to. So maybe we’ll schedule a follow-up call in the future, maybe when you go
live.

Todd: I’d love to do it. Yes, I’d love to do it, Zack.

Zack: Thanks for listening to Tradestreaming Radio. Again, this is Zack Miller. You can find this podcast and lots of other information on my website, Tradestreaming.com. Check it out. We’re also doing a series of webinars. We’ll mention those on the website. So please come back and interface with us on the website.

That was Todd of FinancialMentor.com. I’ll have a link for that up at the blog. He’s a wealth coach. He’s a financial coach and just bringing a lot of value from his life experiences and a very astute person being able to distill a lot of experiences he had into a program that I believe will probably be very successful.

So check him out. If you have any questions, feel free to reach back to us. Again, if you’re listening to us on iTunes, please go and give us a review, give us a ranking. We could use that, and let other people know what you think about the podcast.

We’ll be back at you soon.

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Tradestreaming is a community of investors learning directly from experts. I’m Zack Miller, investor, entrepreneur, and founder of Tradestreaming.com and I literally wrote the book on how to invest in the age of Facebook and Twitter. Tradestreaming is the resource I’ve created to help me become a better investor.  I believe it will help you … Continue Reading