Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Author Hour. I’m your host, Gunnar Rogers. Today, I am joined by the wonderful Kevin MacLeod. Kevin is a certified financial planner based in Canada. He is also an RRC and CEA and has been a certified financial planner since 2002. His new book, Money Made Easy: A Simple Guide for Accumulating, Spending and Protecting Your Money is available now on Amazon. 

So make sure you listen to this interview and then go to Amazon and purchase a copy, the Kindle version is available for 99 cents for the rest of this week, so make sure you go capitalize on that discount. I have a great conversation with Kevin today talking about his entrance into the financial advising world and especially his unique approach to protecting people’s money and protecting the money, specifically, of younger adults in their late 20s and early 30s, who are just now getting to the point where they’re speaking with and vetting financial advisors.

So without further ado, here’s my conversation with certified financial planner and newly minted author, Kevin MacLeod.

All right, we are joined today in Author Hour by CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and overall wonderful human, Kevin MacLeod, coming all the way from Canada today. Kevin first off, just, how are you doing today, sir?

Kevin MacLeod: I’m doing great. It’s super warm, going through the heatwave up here as well so that’s awesome. 

Gunnar Rogers: It actually gets warm up there?

Kevin MacLeod: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Gunnar Rogers: Awesome. Well first off, like I said as we were talking a little bit before we hit record, really excited to talk to you today about your book, Money Made Easy, something that really stuck out to me is I read a little bit of it and dove more into your background is, as a financial advisor, you talk a lot about protecting people’s money and protecting your client’s investment and guiding people on how to protect their money.

What really started that approach for you as an advisor? Was it something you went through before becoming an advisor, was it seeing how other advisors got their clients. Just, what brought about this idea of protecting people’s money?

The Difference Between Bad Investments and Bad Investments for You

Kevin MacLeod: I think it comes from seeing the poor work of other financial advisors and not only fail to protect client’s money but also lead them down a path that is potentially very catastrophic. So it really came down to, how can we help people make better decisions? The insurance that their money is well looked after as much as we possibly can. 

Gunnar Rogers: I love that, and did you have any personal experience with financial advisors that were also not great that informed your approach in your practice today?

Kevin MacLeod: Well, I think there was a couple in my history. The very first investor that I used had me invest in an oil and gas stock with basically, all of my money and I was very young at the time. I didn’t know anything and so I just followed his advice and you know, consequently, the investment lost about half of its value very, very quickly.

So as an uninformed investor, I panicked and I immediately sold it and that was against his recommendation clause and now, 25 years later, had I kept that investment, it would be worth many, many, many more times than what it was when I invested, but I didn’t recognize what my tolerance for risk was. He didn’t recognize what I needed the money for and so it wasn’t a bad investment, just the wrong investment for me.

Then a little while later, I also got involved with financial advisor and I was just starting a family, and that advisor, all they did again was just recommend a few mutual funds but they didn’t talk to me about my bond’s security. They didn’t talk to me about setting myself up for the future or a bunch of it or anything like that. It was just, “Here, you got X amount of dollars within this mutual fund.”

I didn’t think that that was actually the right way to do things, so that’s actually when I decided to become a financial advisor.

Gunnar Rogers: Decided that if they weren’t going to do it the way it should be done, do it yourself, right?

Kevin MacLeod: Yeah, that’s exactly right. 

Asking The Right Questions

Gunnar Rogers: That’s awesome and so I am curious, we’re going to get to the book in a minute but I am curious, why do you think it is that so many advisors aren’t asking the questions that you’re asking and aren’t seeking to understand some of these risk tolerance or diversify their portfolio outside of just the mutual funds? It’s just—what do you think it is in the industry that causes that?

Kevin MacLeod: I think the industry is actually grown a lot since my experience in 25 years ago. 25 years ago, it was really just a sense for people and there was no real financial planning of that. I think it’s really come around and I think there’s lots of great financial advisors out there that do a great job for their clients but unfortunately, there’s still a few that are simply just there to make a good bargain and really don’t care about the future of their clients.

Sometimes, that could be a sales organization or it can be bank tellers and at least, there’s lots of great people out there but I think again, we still have that mid-market of people who really, really need financial advice that can get it from a good source or have a difficult time getting it from a good source. So I think we’ve come a long way but there’s lots of room for improvement. 

Gunnar Rogers: Of course. Well, I’m thankful that there are men like you that are helping evolve the industry and make it better. I am also curious, reading the book, it does sound like that first investment that sort of went wrong and also just the experience, it sounds like you sold a business, correct? And just like, walked into a bank looking for financial advice, right?

Kevin MacLeod: That’s right, yup. It was in my early 20s, I’ve already sold the business. I have a little bit of cash and what I was looking for was some advice and what I got was a stock broker.

Gunnar Rogers: Of course and how often do you think that’s happening today? Like, how, as a consumer and as consumers, what are things that we can do to make sure we vet the right person and the right advisor and distinguish between advice and stock brokering.

Kevin MacLeod: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it depends on the consumer. So if the consumer is just a regular person, average, middle class, up and coming person, they’re likely—their first interaction’s going to be the bank branch, and the bank branch isn’t good people. I am sure they are lovely people but they’re not there to make sure that your financial security is in place and your goals are being met.

What they’re there to do is their job, which is to give you product and they don’t have a vested interest, normally, in your financial wellbeing, and you’re just one of a thousand people that can do it. It’s not really a complaint against the bank tellers, they’re wonderful people I’m sure, but we’re just not trained properly or have the proper vocation to take care of the client relationship. 

Gunnar Rogers: Of course, and so I love all of that. Now, it’s time to get to the book and I do want to set this up. As we alluded to a moment ago, late 20s, already sold a business, had a bit of cash to go invest, fear is down the line and was it 2001, 2002, you’ve become a certified financial planner, correct?

Kevin MacLeod: That’s correct.

Gunnar Rogers: And about 20 years later, among the many things that you’ve accomplished, you’re now a published author. So what was the origin, the genesis of deciding to write this book? What made you decide to do that?

Kevin MacLeod: Great question. So a lot of my clients now have adult children and so my clients want me to hep their adult children, which I am happy to do, of course, but what I found was is that these 30-something, 35-year-olds, anywhere—I mean age can think of it, like a millennial or whatever, they have basically no knowledge about money whatsoever. No one’s taught them anything about money. 

So they were very vulnerable to people who tell them what to do with their money and sometimes that’s a good person and sometimes that’s not a good person or company. So I just felt that maybe an easier way for me to at least get a basic knowledge into people, the very minimum that they should know before they do anything as far as financial, is writing a book. 

Gunnar Rogers: I’m curious for your insight here, especially as somebody who is financially savvy, who has been serving clients for this long, you are right that people in their 30s just don’t really know what to do with their money and I’m curious, just for your opinion, your perspective, how do you think that happened? Why do you think it is that even people like me in their late 20s haven’t had a lot of education on just what to do once we start actually making money?

Financial Education

Kevin MacLeod: Well, I don’t think there’s a source for people to get it unless they’re searching for it and generally, you’re not really searching for it until you’re in a position where you need it. So, I think that’s why. We have no real formal education and as you go through high school and college and things like that that specifically talks in depth about, you know, personal finance.

Gunnar Rogers: I love all of that. Now that the book is written, you mentioned clients with adult children. So that’s definitely one group of people we want to read the book but in your own words and your own thoughts, who is this book for? The person who needs it the most?

Kevin MacLeod: That’s a great question. So I think the person that needs this the most and you know they can be at any age but primarily, when I was looking at who is this book for when I was writing it, it was really about I envisioned a couple starting a family. They’re both making incomes and there’s money coming in, money going out. 

They have goals, they have dreams but they have no idea what to do and they’re often the people that are being marketed to for banks and online providers and sales organizations to get them to do business with them, obviously, because they’re the right people to get started and to get their lives going and they need lots of things.

They need investment advice, they need insurance advice, they need cashflow advice and tax advices, and so if you go into a meeting with somebody and you have zero knowledge about anything that they’re talking about, you’re vulnerable to make mistakes, and I think that with the basic knowledge that I am hoping to provide, gives you some power over that, maybe to understand that the person that is doing this is on the right track and doing the right things for you. I think that that’s really who I’m envision using this information the most.

Gunnar Rogers: I totally agree with that and definitely the best thing to do is read the book cover to cover, a bunch of brilliant advice in there. For the people who might not read the whole book, or go cover to cover, what is the one take away as far as the single key advice you could give somebody before they go in that meeting with a financial adviser that they need to know for themselves as they start that process?

Kevin MacLeod: I think it is being armed with the basic knowledge so that you will have some understanding of what the adviser is talking about. Knowing that will really help towards making sure that they are putting you on the right path and for the most part, they probably will be but it’s really important that you don’t make mistakes especially in the early stages, because it can really amplify through the future to really teach them of having financial destruction. So I think in having a basic knowledge when you’re going to a meeting, it really serves you very well. 

Gunnar Rogers: I love that and again, just a curious question, what are one or two pretty avoidable mistakes that you see younger adults often make with their money and with their investments? 

Kevin MacLeod: So I think one of the most destructive things that I have seen is using leverage. Leverage is borrowing to invest and to try and to make more money than the borrowing cost and this very rarely goes right. This is a strategy that is used for wealthier people who have a lot of resources, but I find the average middle class person given that strategy, it looks very, very good if all you do is talk about the process. 

But just take into account the last year that we have been through, if you have borrowed money to invest, now it is costing you three times as much to service that debt and you have lost probably 25% of the value of the investment and that is very hard to come back by. This is something that I have seen that is very destructive in the wrong hands and unfortunately, it is something that is marketed very, very aggressively, especially here in Canada.

Gunnar Rogers: I am guessing it is safe to say that the advisers for the most part giving that advise are not trustworthy advisors, and that is something you also talk a lot on the book is finding a trusted adviser and a trust worthy adviser. It may seem simple on the surface but I do believe we need to hear it from you, how can somebody distinguish between a financial adviser and a trusted financial adviser? 

Kevin MacLeod: Yeah, I think the best way to find a trusted financial adviser would be a referral from a friend or family or colleague that has had a successful relationship with the financial adviser, meaning that they feel that that adviser is guiding them in the right direction and they give a comfortable, that adviser is not salesy trying to get them into a bunch of products that they don’t need or investments they shouldn’t have and more about concentrating solely on the goals that the client has. 

Gunnar Rogers: So as a trustworthy adviser yourself, I am curious to know, what is one or two misconceptions that people in that young adult age range have about financial advisers? 

Navigating Misconceptions and Financial Habits

Kevin MacLeod: I think one is that they don’t have enough assets or complexity to hire a financial adviser, that’s one and that can be true in a lot of cases. There are lots of great financial advisers that you have to put in the minimum asset levels in order to talk and in order to deal with them, but there is also lots of financial advisors that are younger and building their wealth and they want to really help that person and asset level doesn’t really matter. 

I know through mine, years and years and years and years, we’ve very rarely ever said no to a client, even if we ultimately don’t do business with them because they don’t have enough to do, but we like to set them on the right path regardless because we want in the future, they’re probably going to be successful and they’ll come back to us. So that could be a misconception, number one. 

Number two is that they don’t know where to find them in a lot of cases. They are marketed to by banks, large financial institutions and network marketing and those are the service providers that ultimately can give financial planning like that and reputation. 

Gunnar Rogers: I love that, and also thinking through the people this book is for, thinking through your readership, another thing that sticks out to me as a reader is even the subtitle, “a guide for accumulating, spending and protecting your money”. What made you decide on that order as far as accumulate money, spend money and protect it? Is that was it a catchy thing or is that also sort of a principle you guide your clients through? 

Kevin MacLeod: It is 100% what we guide our clients to. It is the way that I behaved for the last 29 years and it was really trained into me from the beginning is that you know, people that — these are the only three things you have to worry about when dealing with your finances but you need to worry about all three, and it’s paramount that your trusted advisors talks about all the things that make up your financial world otherwise, they really can’t tell you what to do with your money, if you don’t know all of those things, we’re not covering all of those 37 facets of your life. 

Gunnar Rogers: I love that and I want to drill into those three individually just really quick. So on the accumulation piece, something that sticks out to me is it doesn’t say make money. I feel like there’s a distinction between making money and accumulating. So to you and even in the book, what does it mean to accumulate money first of all?

Kevin MacLeod: So accumulating money means that you’ve got to work every day, make a base, you make your living, whatever you are going to make and during the month, a lot of your money is already decided on how it is going to be spent if you have your custom housing or vehicles, insurances, food and clothing. Those things are already set the most for most people or everyone and what’s at the end of that is called discretionary money. 

So you have discretionary money and so you can choose to spend it or you could chose to save it. So, the accumulation of money and assets is to save. The reason they are not spending on a monthly basis, how much of that can we capture for your future and so number one, you have to earn all your money in order to accumulate it. It is very important how you earn money and how those tax is very important. 

So once we get it through that and see that there is some excess cash flow, then it is how we are going to deploy that to reach your goals. 

Gunnar Rogers: I love that. And then you don’t have to say any names at all, but I always love asking financial advisers this, on the spending side, what is maybe the most common unnecessary spending habit that you see across not even just clients but just within your potential clientele in general?

Kevin MacLeod: A couple of glaring things will come out is a lot of people, once they go through a cashflow analysis and see where their money goes, they are quite shocked to see just how much they waste and so I don’t talk about—you can’t live a good life with your money in your hands, you can’t go for dinner or you can’t drive a decent car. That is not what we talk about. 

What we talk about is saying that you burn a certain amount of money, how are you going to decide what to spend it on? So we use a simple guide that says, you know, 70% of your money should be on your lifestyle, 20% should be pay down what you owe from debt and then at least 10% should go towards your future and because at the end of the month, if everybody is getting paid except for you, that’s not fair. 

Gunnar Rogers: I love at the end of the month, everyone is getting paid except for you. I right now want that for myself. I love that and just a few more questions then we’ll wrap this up. I’m so excited for people to get to read this book. It is out now by the way, for everybody listening. For yourself, I am curious, what is—now that the book is coming out, going through this whole process, what is a future thing that you are preparing for with your money? 

Whether it is a trip with your family or certain investment, just what is something that you have your eye on personally? 

Kevin MacLeod: I think it wasa  retirement fund. 

Gunnar Rogers: Right? 

Kevin MacLeod: Yeah. It is not very close but you know, I am getting to the age where I have to seriously think about, “Okay, how is my money going to work for me when I am the one sitting at home and I have no idea when that is going to come.” But it’s certainly, as you get older, you start to focus more on money around, not necessarily accumulating but now it is time to protect it and then strategize and how that can turn into income for you, so that’s if you don’t want to get your money. 

Gunnar Rogers: I love that and Kevin, as I said earlier, you have accomplished so much in your career so far. You are preparing for a great retirement but you’ve got plenty of wonderful things to do ahead of you right now. One thing you get to put on the mantle today is you are a published author and writing a book is such feat. Anybody who’s never written a book I don’t think understands how much work goes into it and so now that the book is out, what is one thing that you’re excited about and what is one thing that you’re maybe nervous about? 

Kevin MacLeod: You know Gunnar, I’m probably more nervous than excited. So I mean, we’ll see the early reviews are really good and very promising, so I am quite happy about that. I am excited to see the response from trusted financial advisers. 

Gunnar Rogers: I love that and I can definitely say as an early reader, I am lucky to be an early reader. My review is certainly positive. I highly encourage everybody to go purchase their copy right now. Once again, the book is called, Money Made Easy: A Simple Guide for Accumulating, Spending and Protecting Your Money by Kevin MacLeod. Kevin, it’s been such a pleasure connecting with you today and talk about your career, your approach to financial advising. 

Selfishly, I am benefiting from it and I know that so many other people are about to, now that the book is out, after people go purchase the book, what is the best way for people to engage with you, where can people follow you or learn more about you? 

Kevin MacLeod: They can go to my website, it’s www.kevinmacleod.com.

Gunnar Rogers: Awesome, we’ll link to that in the shownotes, www.kevinmacleod.com, find him on LinkedIn too. Once again, the book is called, Money Made Easy: A Simple Guide for Accumulating, Spending and Protecting Your Money, on Amazon today. Kevin, thank you so much for your time and thank you for writing this book. 

Kevin MacLeod: Thanks man. 

Gunnar Rogers: Awesome.