Financial advising with a

EP 49 | Chris Kerckhoff on Advocating Clients’ Financial Wellness

06.09.21 | 0 Market Scale

Chris Kerckhoff is the CEO of Plancorp, a fee-only RIA firm. Chris first joined the company as an intern right out of college in 1997. Through hard work and a passion for ensuring the quality of their client experience, Chris advanced through the ranks over the years and was named President in 2010. The company has experienced tremendous growth under his watch, scaling from $1 billion to $5 billion in assets under management. Chris believes in helping people live their best lives and has led Plancorp to serve as financial advocates for over 1,300 families, businesses, and institutions. Chris has also been instrumental in launching Plancorp’s sister company, BrightPlan, a financial wellness solution for fiduciary excellence.

 

Chris joins me today to share his journey from being an intern to becoming the CEO of Plancorp. He explains the importance of asking great questions and why leadership is about looking for people you can count on. He describes how he used to create an inauthentic “work version” of himself when interacting with clients and how embracing authenticity has supported his success. He also discusses the complex financial situations employees face and underscores the importance of connecting with your clients’ humanity.

 

“Humans are relationship-driven species; as an advisor, everything is about the relationship you build with clients and becoming a trusted advocate for them.” - Chris Kerckhoff

 

This week on The Model FA Podcast:

 

        Chris’s 24-year-long career with the firm, from intern to CEO

        How his dedication to ensure amazing client experiences helped him get to the CEO role

        Common characteristics of rising financial advisor stars

        Plancorp’s true team approach and its vision for the future

        How to turn clients into raving fans

        Why Chris doesn’t think the approach to a financial crisis should be 100% digital

        The financial stress many employees feel and how BrightPlan is addressing it

        The transparency and honesty issues the financial management industry faces

        How advisors can become more transparent with their clients by cultivating relationships

        How becoming authentic with his clients contributed to Chris’s success in the firm

        The relationship between transparency and an advisor’s faith in their value proposition

 

Resources Mentioned:

 

        Book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

        Book: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

        Book: The Snowball System: How to Win More Businesses and Turn Clients into Raving Fans by Mo Bunnell

        Book: The Great Game of Business: The Only Sensible Way to Run a Company by Jack Stack

        Book: On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life by John O’Leary

 

Our Favorite Quotes:

 

        “Some people don’t get the attention they need because they don’t fit advisors’ business models. Treat humans as humans regardless of the assets they may or may not have.” - David DeCelle

        “Provide an amazing client experience and they’ll spread the word. You’ll have raving fan-clients who are going to give out your name more often.” - Chris Kerckhoff

        “When you build relationships with clients, the less important the fees become and the more comfortable you feel with transparency because you know you’ve won the relationship.” - David DeCelle

 

Connect with Chris Kerckhoff:

 

        Plancorp

        Email: [email protected]

        Plancorp on LinkedIn

        Plancorp on Facebook

        Plancorp on YouTube

        Chris Kerckhoff on LinkedIn

 

 

About the Model FA Podcast

 

The Model FA podcast is a show for fiduciary financial advisors. In each episode, our host David DeCelle sits down with industry experts, strategic thinkers, and advisors to explore what it takes  to build a successful practice — and have an abundant life in the process. We believe in continuous learning, tactical advice, and strategies that work — no “gotchas” or BS. Join us to hear stories from successful financial advisors, get actionable ideas from experts, and re-discover your drive to build the practice of your dreams.

 

Did you like this conversation? Then leave us a rating and a review in whatever podcast player you use. We would love your feedback, and your ratings help us reach more advisors with ideas for growing their practices, attracting great clients, and achieving a better quality of life. While you are there, feel free to share your ideas about future podcast guests or topics you’d love to see covered.

 

Our Team:

President of Model FA, David DeCelle

 

 

If you like this podcast, you will love our community! Join the Model FA Community on Facebook to connect with like-minded advisors and share the day-to-day challenges and wins of running a growing financial services firm.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Chris Kerckhoff  00:07

We have, I think, every right to continue to succeed, maybe even at a faster clip that we have in the past because we have a fantastic team. And David, I know I shared with you, a lot of our advisors are on the younger side of 40. So you know, we think there's a lot of runway here. And we're primarily an employee-owned firm, we're going to continue to push that and that aligns a lot of interest. So we're just really excited about the future and being able to help more people.

 

David DeCelle  00:40

Welcome Model FAs. I'm really excited for our guest today, Chris Kerckhoff. Before I go ahead and introduce him, remember, if you have been listening to these episodes, towards the end we talk about our guest’s favorite books to promote some learning within our industry, as well as the after-hours portion so that we can humanize ourselves and all of our guests so we can be friends from afar. So feel free to stick around for the after-hours portion. But without further ado, Chris Kerckhoff, welcome. He is the President and CEO of Plancorp, which is a fee only RIA based in St. Louis, with offices both in Nashville and the Bay Area. Chris joined Plancorp right out of college, actually, in 1997. He joined the firm, has now become the CEO of the firm. So excited to hear more about that journey, Chris. Since then, the firm has seen significant growth in clients’ assets and employees. He was named president of the firm in 2010, and has actually overseen the firm as it's grown from, I say just a billion. And I say that because when you compare it to where they're at right now, about 5 billion, obviously, that's massive growth over that time period. So the firm serves as financial life advocates for over 1300 families, businesses, and institutions. He has a passion for helping people live their best lives, and was also instrumental in helping launch BrightPlan, which we're going to spend some time chatting about today. Which is Plancorp’s sister company, which is the first financial wellness solution certified for fiduciary excellence that is real time, personalized, and integrated with employer benefits. So Chris, welcome to the show, man.

 

Chris Kerckhoff

Hey, it's great to be here, David. Thank you.

 

David DeCelle

Appreciate it. It's also cool too, for those of you who are listening, I know we talk a lot about the importance of podcasting as it relates to obviously content or your audience, but as also a great way to build relationships with folks. I think, Chris, I just reached out to you with like a cold email or something like that, and you were gracious enough to respond. Then here we are at the beginning stages of building a relationship, so podcasting works, guys.

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

Yeah, absolutely. Awesome.

 

David DeCelle

So, Chris, why don't you start off, I'm most intrigued, at least to start anyways, hearing your journey back in 1997, fresh out of college; not to bust your chops too much, but I was seven years old at the time. So you started at a firm that was obviously already in existence, you fast forward 24 years, roughly, and you're the CEO. So tell us a little bit about that journey. So when you were an intern, what were your roles and responsibilities at that time?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  03:31

Sure. Well, one of my favorite stories to tell new team members that join Plancorp today is that on my first day of work, it was made clear to me that not only was I going to be doing things like figuring out cost basis by going through shoe boxes of old brokerage statements, but that I would also be the chief dishwasher of the firm. Because at that time, when clients would come in and have lunch, or coffee or whatever, we had a sink, but we didn't have a dishwasher. So that was my job to make sure we had all the dishes cleaned by the end of the day for tomorrow's lineup of client meetings. But really, I mean, back in 1997, since you were seven, you wouldn't remember this. But I mean, honestly, we had dial up internet and the world was just a very different place. So a lot of things were done manually. There was the software that we use back then, to be honest, some of it was still on DOS. I mean, it's hard to even fathom it. But primarily in all seriousness, most of my job was centered around doing calculations for financial planning as we helped business owners, as we still do today, business owners and corporate executives look at their financial plans on a comprehensive basis, and then coordinating with estate planning attorneys and CPAs, many of whom I still am in touch with today and have great working relationships and have honestly just taught me a tremendous amount. And unfortunately, Jeff Buckner, the founder of Plancorp, even back in 1997, when I first started with the firm, was kind enough to ask me and invite me into client meetings on a regular basis. I was 21 when I started here, and I just figured I would soak up as much as I could. So I sat in every single client meeting, he asked, or invited me into, learned a lot, and then got the work done after hours or in between meetings.

 

David DeCelle  05:17

Love it. Assuming that you transitioned from the chief dishwasher into some sort of a planning or advisor role, what was your step beyond, I always say, as a CEO, you have to be able to sweep the floors too. And I think that you're a living, breathing example of that. So what was your next step post internship?

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

Yeah, once we got the dishwasher in place, that was a big leap.

David DeCelle

Were you worried about getting fired and losing your job?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  05:45

Yeah, automation is a killer. But no, early on, I'm trying to remember the year but I think it was sometime in 1998, Jeff came back from a conference and told me he had seen a great presentation by Lynn Hopewell. And it was about the use of an analysis called Monte Carlo. So he asked me to kind of do some research and figure out how we could start using Monte Carlo analysis with our clients. So I dialed up the internet and started doing some research, and couldn't find really anything on it as it related to the financial planning world or anything like that. So I called Lynn Hopewell’s office, eventually got in touch with him, and he unceremoniously told me, Look, kid, there is no financial planning software that uses Monte Carlo; the presentation that Jeff saw me give was more theoretical. I just had some Excel spreadsheets, because there's some plugins you can use that will run Monte Carlo off Excel. So I said, okay, great, what are those programs? So he gave me a list of them and I bought one or two of them and got one to work and started using them in modeling that we built just out of Excel to do Monte Carlo analysis. I think that was when Jeff finally started to — not finally, I’d only been here a year and a half — but he started recognizing, maybe I could take on some more responsibility. So, it was wasn't long after that, that I started with some of our clients, taking a much more proactive role in the meetings; I had already been kind of doing follow up stuff. And then as time went on, I took the lead role in meetings. I mean, the firm had five people, so we didn't have a whole lot of titles or anything that were flying around. Then we started hiring staff as we continue to grow, and so I trained them and continued to work on that Monte Carlo modeling, until finally, there was some commercially viable programs that you could buy off the shelf, which was a monumental day. And then, as I said, as we continue to grow as a firm, I just took on more responsibility; was definitely the lead advisor, was part of the Investment Committee, as we formalized that, really started helping put together all the processes that we use and formalizing those so we could help train people faster. By default, I was the youngest guy at the firm for quite a while, and so I was also the de facto tech guy who figured out how he could do things from a technology standpoint. So that's really how things evolved over time. And then it was in 2007, 2008, and I should mention like to, again, to Jeff's credit, and then Steve Frank and Larry LeGrand who were more senior folks who joined Jeff, from outside the industry. Steve Frank was formerly a business and estate planning attorney, who had been the associate General Counsel at Boeing, joined Jeff; and then Larry LeGrand, who was a head tax partner at KPMG here in St. Louis, joined Jeff. So I kept getting more bosses, but they invited me kind of into the board level discussions they were having as the firm grew. And then in 2010, became an owner and they named me president of the firm. So that was kind of the evolution. It all feels kind of like it happened pretty naturally, but honestly, it happened with a lot of fortune and having wonderful mentors in Jeff Buckner, Steve Frank, and Larry LeGrand.

David DeCelle  09:11

So we're gonna get into this topic a little bit more in depth later on. But I know you're big on continuous improvement and the idea of getting better each and every day. So obviously, over that time period from ‘97 to 2010, I think were the dates from when you started to when you became president, I'm sure that there were more people who had joined the firm over that time period. And there certainly could have been other people appointed to that role, and other people potentially appointed to the CEO role. So what are some of the things that you did over the year, what were some of those things that you think helped put you in a position to be chosen to actually be in that role?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  09:58

That's a great question. I think honestly, probably the biggest thing I did is I just worked hard and kept my focus on the clients and what we needed to do to continue to provide just amazing client experiences across the firm. And I credit that because when you're focused on that you do have to focus on things like process, because you recognize you can't do everything yourself. And if you want a common client experience, you've got to build out these processes that other people can follow, and so it’s just really laser focus dedication to that; and then making sure that at the end of the day, our people had the resources they needed to do a great job. That's really, I mean, I wish I had some other great formula. I mean, the dedication to continuous improvement is something we've talked about here for as long as I’ve been here, if you just get better every day, just a little bit of incremental improvement over time, the compound impact is huge. And I think I mentioned to you, I love the book Atomic Habit, because it takes a lot of things that I was fortunate enough to learn at an early age from my parents or from schooling and it really does a great job of encapsulating the whole idea and practice of continuous improvement. So, I wish I could say there was one particular thing, but I'll be honest, it was just a focus on how from a process standpoint we could continue to deliver on the promise and the experience that clients deserved, and do it at a greater scale over time, as we were fortunate to continue to get more and more great clients.

 

David DeCelle  11:39

So I know it can be somewhat challenging to be able to brag or boast about yourself. Let me make a couple observations that I think probably had a hand in getting you to the spot that you're in right now. I'm obviously making some assumptions, let me know if I'm wrong. But the two things that stood out the most are number one, when you started, part of your role was literally washing dishes; and then number two is just working really hard. So I'm sure there were a lot of early mornings a lot of late nights. And I think that there are probably multiple moments where the executive team saw over that period of time that you, Chris, we're just willing and able to do what needed to be done to better serve the clients and help grow the firm. I think that it's those micro moments, that stack on top of themselves, that really put you in a position to be in the position that that you're in right now; I would assume anyways.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  12:44

Yeah, David, I think you're spot on. I mean, at the end of the day, as I’ve become a leader in the organization, you realize what you're really looking for are people you can count on, no matter how tough things get. And there's going to be times in any company, in any industry, but especially in one that's tied to the volatile stock market, you're going to have challenging times. So you need people who are going to be there and that have that dedication for the team and for the client. And then the other thing I didn't mention something I tell our team all the time is, ask great questions, or just ask a lot of questions. Know that you don't know everything, and don't be afraid to ask because when we're talking about up and coming stars still to this day of Plancorp, one of the number one things that people point out as a positive is, hey, they asked great questions. So they're on the right track, they’re asking the right things, they're showing up, they're doing the work, and they're asking great questions.

 

David DeCelle  13:45

Awesome. So you started and I want to say you mentioned that there are five people in the firm total. Do you remember by chance, what the AUM was back in ‘97?

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

Yeah, I think it was about 180 or 185 million.

 

David DeCelle

Okay. So 185 million. Fast forward to today, depending on what day you're looking at it based on the market, you're at about five billion with a B. Was it you took over as president in 2010, and that's when you had gotten to a billion by then, and then over the last 11 years you've gotten to five, or am I messing up that timeframe?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  14:22

No, that's right. It was actually, 2010 was around the time we passed the billion mark the second time. I think we hit it briefly right before 2008 and then crossed it again. I'm trying to remember who said it, who told us the story, but you always want to cross those milestone events an odd number of times, because when you cross them even times it’s in the wrong direction. So yeah, it's been a stark difference when I think back of what Plancorp looked like back in 1997, versus where we are today. It's a big difference and it looks a lot different than it did in 2010 to be honest. I know there's people who point to the idea of you have to be willing to tear down the old to build the new. I'll be honest, when I was named president 2010, my main goal was just to not screw things up. I mean, we’ve got a really good firm and things were headed in the right direction, and there was this enormous responsibility that was offered to me. I remember quite literally saying to Jeff, Steve, and Larry, I'm super excited about this, but I've been an advisor mostly to this point in my career, and if I totally screw this up, can you just promise that you'll let me go back to being an advisor and not fire me? That was one of my main concerns, but it turned out that I really loved the job of running the company. It’s been a transition, it didn't happen overnight, but you slowly start to meet with clients less and less. And so that juice you get from providing this amazing experience to clients, the clients thank you for, and heap praise on you for, and you get this immediate kind of feedback; that shifts to more of a longer term lens, where you're looking at how people that you're bringing on the team, how they're developing, how they're being successful and helping more people. So there's a multiplier effect, and it's a little bit more of a slow burn, as opposed to that kind of quick hit feedback that you get that feeds you. So I still meet with clients today, but it's probably down to less than 20% of my time. As you just realize over time, you've got to work on the business more and more and less in the business. And you have to build a great team around you. I mean, that's certainly been one of my key focuses is to get, as they say, the right people on the bus in the right seats. And that's an exercise that never ends. You’re never there; if you're fortunate, you get the right people on the bus in the right seats for a period of time. And then you continue to look at, okay, how is this changing? And what new people do I need to get on the bus? And how are the seats shifting around?

 

David DeCelle  17:05

That's a nice segue, I want you to share with everyone listening. You started with five employees in ‘97. What are you at now in terms of employees and advisors? So we've talked a lot about where you're at AUM wise, but how big is the team in terms of people in the organization?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  17:23

So we're at a total headcount of right at 70 people, and there's right about 28 advisors today.

 

David DeCelle  17:30

Has your growth come organically, mainly through M&A, a combination of the two? How have you accumulated 4 billion extra dollars over an 11 year period?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  17:43

Yeah, it's almost all organic. We did one smaller tuck in, in 2016, a firm that was focused on institutional business here in St. Louis. We knew them well; our person who's overseeing the institutional non for profit part of the business that we run was kind of winding down getting ready to retire, and so it just worked out perfectly and very seamlessly. So yes, it's almost all organic. So client referrals, referrals from centers of influence. We've been very fortunate over time to build great relationships with some CPAs and attorneys and insurance providers in town; of course no money is exchanging hands there, we just do a great job for clients, they do a great job for clients. And over time, we've enjoyed working together and there's opportunity or we see a client who has that need, we make the referral out and vice versa. And so that's, that's really it. The other thing I'd say is, there's been some of that growth that we've looked opportunistically as clients have come back to us with problems that they face as their lives get more complex. We just take an honest look to see is that something we can help them with? Or is it something we need to find a solution for them? And in some cases, like retirement plans, so 401k plans and pension plans, we determine we can do that in house. In other cases, we've sent that business elsewhere. But it's allowed us to get into areas like exit planning strategies; that we started about four years ago, and it's really helped the business grow as you've got more service lines, that you can help address client's needs.

 

David DeCelle  19:22

So you're at five-ish billion now, 70 employees, 20 advisors. You're not like the typical CEO in the industry, meaning you're not in your late 50s or 60s. So you got plenty of run room left to be able to build something special. What's the vision? Where are you guys headed and what's the focus to get there?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  19:48

Sure, the vision is to continue to focus on what our client's needs are and to address those needs in a very objective, independent way, and to do it with a true team focus. So, nobody here has a book of business; we're structured very differently than a lot of firms. We have this true team approach, which is, we don't have silos inside the business with separate P&Ls that gets tracked. Every client here has full access to anyone on the team that they need to access. So if Chad has a client that needs some really detailed tax advice, he's going to grab one of our CPAs that has in depth tax knowledge and get them to come into the meeting, make sure they're up to speed before the meeting, and come in and give that great advice and give that great strategic insight that we can provide. Or if they have a question on retirement plans, even if it's not our retirement plan, we can bring in some of our people from that division. And because everyone here is paid on a salary, and it's not tied to how much revenue they're overseeing, or bringing in the door, structure of the firm is very much incented to provide for that team spirit. I think that has been the key, is you provide this amazing client experiences and clients are going to spread the word. If you have raving fan clients, they're going to continue to give out your name more often. That's the primary vision of the firm, I'd say beyond that, you mentioned our sister company BrightPlan, we're super excited about what they have going on. It’s really bringing fiduciary level financial planning advice to the masses, and doing it as an employee benefit plan through companies, which we think is just a wonderful service, and something that we think is just going to take off. It’s already shown tremendous promise. They're a digital solution and we're the human side of the hybrid solution that comes to bear for that total financial wellness solution. So, to me, what gets me excited at the end of the day, honestly, is it's not about the AUM; it's about how many people we can help. And so today, we help 1300 households; the number of family members in an average household, maybe it's 4000 or 5000 individuals that we're helping at Plancorp. If you count in BrightPlan and growth trajectory there, I think we're looking at being able to help, eventually, candidly, millions of people, hopefully over the long term. That's what gets me excited, because we've all seen the articles about the retirement crisis, we've all seen that people aren't prepared for financial emergencies, that there's a debt crisis from student loans or other areas. People need help and financial, in many cases, is the answer. But you got to find a way to get to those people and to make it easy, and in today's world, make it digital forward. I don’t think the right solution is going to be 100% digital, but it has to be very, very digital forward in terms of the interface; and then allow for a pretty seamless way to access humans, when people want more of the empathy and experience to weigh in on their situation. So, fortunately, as a private company, I don't have an earnings number I have to hit, we don't have to get to ten billion in five years. We’ve more than doubled four times since I've been here, and when you think about how many firms back in 1997 had 180 million under management, there's probably a decent amount. We have, I think, every right to continue to succeed, maybe even at a faster clip that we have in the past, because we have a fantastic team. And David, I know I shared with you, a lot of our advisors are on the younger side of 40. So, we think there's a lot of runway here, and we're primarily an employee owned firm, we're going to continue to push that, and that aligns a lot of interest. So we're just really excited about the future and being able to help more people.

 

Patrick Brewer  23:56

Hey Model FAs, I know you're enjoying this conversation but I wanted to take a quick break to talk to you about the Model FA Accelerator. This is a unique collaboration between us and you, where we help you build a financial advising practice that you can be proud of. We focus on the foundational concepts around how to pick a niche or a specialization, how to price your services, how to construct an offer that people are going to buy, and then how to market it and sell it in a way that'll get people to sign on the dotted line and become clients of your firm, all while giving you the information to scale and set up workflows and operational processes that will allow you to reclaim your time and build a practice that doesn't run you. So if you'd like to hear more about that go to www.modelfa.com/accelerator or www.modeld.com. Hover over “Work With Us” and click on Accelerator. Hope to see in the program.

 

David DeCelle  24:45

There's two books that come to mind as you were chatting, based on the terminology, raving fans, and then based on what you just said about an employee owned firm. I'll start with the first one. Have you read the book The Snowball System?

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

I have not.

 

David DeCelle

They use the term raving fan a lot. Specifically, it's all about selling by strategically advancing relationships and just making relational deposits along that sales journey; as opposed to some slick sales language. I think that would coincide well with how you guys operate and probably reinforce a lot of things that you're already doing, but there may be a nugget or two in there for your advisors that could be really cool. And then the employee-owned firm comment made me think of, I believe it's called The Great Game of Business. Have you come across that one?

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

No.

 

David DeCelle

Okay. So to even the score a little bit, I've yet to read your favorite book, Catch 22. So we're somewhat even there. But The Great Game of Business is all about empowering your employees through transparency of what's actually going on in the business, from a vision standpoint, a challenge standpoint, financial standpoint, so everyone can sort of buy in. Those are two books, I think, would be super complimentary to some of the things that that you just mentioned. I want to go over to what you had brought up a couple minutes ago about BrightPlan. What I'm intrigued to learn about is, so it seems like you have a company that partners with organizations to further build out their employee benefits offering with this particular service. What's intriguing is, you mentioned that there's the digital component, but then there's also the human component. So help everyone understand what is BrightPlan actually helping with. And then as you're going through that share with us what the digital portion is helping with compared to the human portion.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  26:50

So you start with the fact and there's some of the large CPA firms come out with reports on financial wellness the last couple years, and you see that there's just a tremendous amount of stress that employees report they're under from a financial standpoint. And then you talk to business owners, and you look at the data, and see that a lot of workers are spending a couple, few hours a week, while they're at work, handling some of their personal financial matters. And then you add to that the fact that there's issues like lack of retirement preparedness. There's cases, depending on the company, where they're having people at upper levels stay in those roles; whereas before they would retire and there'd be upward movement, there's some stagnation. And so that's a challenge as they look to continue to promote inside the firm. Then there's just also, in some cases, great benefits across the firm, whether it's a 401(k) match, or whether it's an ESPP program or what have you, that the HR team just knows, and they see the data, that people are not taking full advantage of all these great programs that companies have to offer. These are the types of things that BrightPlan is trying to solve for is how do you help employees have these great companies, first of all reduce their stress, so they live a better life, first and foremost. And then second of all, make sure that they fully understand and can take advantage of all of the wonderful benefit plans that a lot of these publicly held companies in particular have in place. And it doesn't have to be publicly held; they happen to have, in some cases, more complex plans. So that's really what we're geared to do. And on the digital side of things, we get tied in directly to those employee benefit programs so that we can build out an academy for each of those companies. So there's a big learning component to BrightPlan and financial education, and then people can do their own individual planning; whether that's for retirement goal, whether it's for a debt pay down goal, saving for education, just a general investment goal. So there's a whole host of planning things and modules that people can get into, and if they so choose, they can just open accounts right there and fund them and get recommendations based on the plan to as to what the asset allocation and the investment choices should look like there. They can also get guidance on 401(k) plans that they have in place by linking them through the account, and they can build out their entire financial picture, as well as tracking expenses through the platform and budgeting. So it's a pretty robust system, and then right in there, there's a one-click to talk to an advisor and schedule a meeting, if they want to have a one-on-one with one of our advisors.

 

David DeCelle  29:50

And then my understanding is that the company is paying for BrightPlan. The employees are not paying for BrightPlan, correct?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  29:58

That's correct, up and to the point if an employee decides they want to invest on the platform, then they become an individual client of BrightPlan, in addition to being covered by the company. So BrightPlan is a full registered investment advisory or digital RIA, and then of course, we're are full RA on our side. And it's actually our Chief Investment Officer, Peter Lazaroff, who oversees; he's also BrightPlan’s Chief Investment Officer. So there's synergies we built in there with the firms to allow for our dedicated team to manage those assets.

 

David DeCelle  30:32

But they're not being charged for if they schedule an appointment with an advisor, correct?

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

No, that's all paid for by the company.

 

David DeCelle

So that's what I think is so interesting, because if you remember back to when we had our intro call, you were telling me about this. My marketing ears perked up, and I was like, oh, my God, what a great lead generation tool! And it kind of goes back to, as you were sharing about your vision, you don't necessarily have an AUM vision; you have a how many people can we serve vision. I think because your response to that was something along the lines of no, it's actually not a lead generation tool, because you guys aren't the ones that are being proactive with trying to convert folks. Certainly, if they want to convert themselves into allowing you guys to do some planning for them more in depth, you're obviously going to serve them, but it's not like you're creating this database and then passing out these leads to the advisors and then banging the phones and kind of harassing them and things like that. I think it proves that what you said about your vision is actually true, where it's not about the money; it's how can we fix this massive problem that's occurring as it relates to a lack of retirement planning for a lot of people here in the country.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  31:49

Absolutely. As you were talking, I think about my friend; I don't know if you know Spencer Segal at ActiFi, great guy in the industry. But he talks about the Platinum Rule that you do unto others as they would like to have done to themselves; so treat others the way they want to be treated — the Golden Rule is treat others the way you would like to be treated. This is treat them as they would like to be treated. The idea here is like we're trying to meet people where they are and where their needs are. And for some people, there's no question we built a robust enough program platform. I should say, BrightPlan has built it; we've helped, but a lot of people can get everything they need right on the platform. But some people are going to want to have that human check in. And then other people are going to just want to delegate everything to a human advisor, but still have good digital capabilities and a good framework to check in on things when they want. So, we're happy to be there for any part of that, that makes sense; and obviously, you got to build companies where they can economics make sense, but at the end of the day, this is just as we talked about on our first phone call. This is not built in anyway as a lead gen for us. We're there to help if it makes sense, but we're not training an army of people to try and harvest leads of this at all. We have our advisors, honestly, there's not like a different subset of them, they’re our advisors who are willing, able, and happy to take these calls to help people. And it's a great learning tool for our people too as they progress through their career.

 

David DeCelle  33:24

For sure. It's one of those things where I'd imagine maybe you're doing this, maybe you're not, but as you hire new advisors, it's good practice to, be meeting with those folks that are often into phone calls and being able to serve them and things like that. So I feel like it's a win-win-win sort of all around.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  33:34

It is and there's proof points there. We get scores on how the employees who set up these calls, how they feel about the calls, and the reviews are phenomenal. That doesn't happen if you've got a salesperson on the other end saying, well, let me tell you how you could become a client of Plancorp. Right? I mean, that's not the conversation at all; it's understanding where that employee is and how we can best help them in the time that we have that conversation.

 

David DeCelle  34:09

Love it. To transition slightly, and I appreciate you sharing about some of the things that you guys are doing over there and your story up to this point; I interviewed someone else a few episodes ago, who was in a similar situation. They're actually current clients of ours where, he started off at the firm, and now he's the CEO of the firm. So it's just cool to see those stories of starting from the bottom and working your way up and serving along the way. What you both have in common is, you seem to, at least on the podcast episodes, who knows, but you seem to be humble and grateful and “others focused,” which I think is a testament to why you guys are at the stage in business that you're at. Because the more the more people you serve, the more successful you become overall, so I’ve enjoyed hearing that so far.

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

Thanks.

 

David DeCelle

One thing that we talked about, and I'll use your exact words as a quote here, that quote “bugs the crap out of you,” is the fact that the industry in general struggles with just being open and honest with who we are as humans. So I feel like a lot of times, I've seen these memes online, where it's like, me on Facebook, me on LinkedIn, me on Instagram, and then me on Tinder, right, and you just have all these different personas that people try to be on certain platforms or in certain aspects of their life. I mean, you're sitting here, for those of you who aren't watching the video and just listening to the audio, you're sitting here and in a golf polo and I'm sitting here in a T shirt, and we're just having some fun and riffing back and forth. We don't necessarily feel the need to have to be all super buttoned up and kind of just be ourselves. And then in addition to that, not just not being open, honest with who we are as humans, but also how we get paid, and how clients are thought about. So I find often times folks, advisors, which I certainly get from a business model perspective, and making sure that you're running a profitable company, but it stinks that a lot of people that are out there that need help, don't fit advisors business models, and therefore they don't get the attention maybe they need, and maybe that's where BrightPlan comes into play. But help unpack that a little bit as it relates to how do we become ourselves? How do we become more transparent? And how do we treat humans as humans, regardless of the assets that they may or may not have?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  36:46

I mean, it's a great topic, one I really like. First, I mentioned I started this business when I was 21 years old, and somebody along the way told me, well, you'll be successful once you start losing your hair or it turns gray, one of the two. Well you can see both have happened by now. But when I started out, I was young, and I felt like I had to have a work persona. I don't know if everyone goes through that or not, but I was like, okay, there's work Chris, and then there's personal life Chris. And when I really started gaining success in my career, and honestly just being a lot happier, was when I just decided it was through deeper and deeper connections with clients. I realized, they don't want a persona, they just want to know who I am, and they're good with the authentic version of me. So let's just do that and not have this buttoned up version of who I think I'm supposed to be in front of clients, and let a little bit of the wit and sarcasm, or at least what I think is wit and sarcasm, I don’t know.

 

David DeCelle

I’m in the same — I think I’m funny.

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

And also just my interests and passions and let those shine through and let the chips fall where they may. It may throw some people off from wanting to work with me or be part of my team, that's okay. I mean, you can't be everything to everyone, and I think that's one of those things that you learn, hopefully you learn at some stage in life, it just makes you a happier person. And I think of the same as it comes to transparency around business models and Bs. It's really disheartening that with all this disruption that's happened in the industry, that we still, as an industry, have a problem with just coming clean with clients on how we get paid. I mean, we are maybe to a fault, in some cases; we put every fee front and center with the client, so they know exactly what they're paying, not only us, but inside any mutual fund or ETF that we have them in, what they're going to pay the custodians. I mean, the whole everything, we want them to know exactly what they're paying, and if they don't see value in our services, or what they're paying, that's totally fair, they should go someplace where they do see value. And so it's concerning, especially when you see new entrants, or newer entrants to this industry. I'll just pick on Robin Hood for a second, who like purports to be something and then before you know it — I mean, free is not free, everybody knows that. I don't remember when I was a kid, I was taught that there's no such thing as free, everybody's making money somewhere, right? And so just be open and transparent about where you make the money. And I've been in countless industry conversations about this too, as we've seen commissions and transaction fees dropped to zero on all these platforms. Part of me cheers it for the client, but I know that there's money being made elsewhere; and if we can't see what the charge is then we're never going to know exactly what the cost is because companies have to make up the money somewhere. At the end of the day, I'm a fan of companies being in business; that's how we get goods and services. It’s kind of the old capitalism is terrible, it's just the best system we've come up with so far. For it to work, and for us to get paychecks and things, companies have to make money, that's okay. And so, people should just be transparent around what their cost structures are, their fee structures are, and how they're charging, so that clients can make informed decisions. To me, it's just, it really does, yeah, I'll use my technical term that “bugs the crap out of me” that, as an industry, we've made so many advances in so many areas, but that one we seem to be continuing to backslide in so many ways, by getting paid for order flows, and lending out securities. There's just all sorts of things that are happening on the back end of parts of the industry that, they're not necessarily bad. I'm not here to judge if it's right or wrong, what I'm here to say is, just do it out in the open, don't hide it. These are all disclosed, right? They're all in the 350-page fine print that anyone is happy to spend time reading. Shouldn't it just be on their bullet points, like, hey, this is how we get paid, and make it in simple bullet point form so everyone's can see it and make their own determination as to whether or not that's how they want to do business.

 

David DeCelle  41:25

I can speak on behalf of like some of those larger companies, and also think we may get into a little bit of a rabbit hole, but I feel like with advisors, specifically, if they're not overly transparent with their fees, maybe they are with like their fees, but not all the little ones that they may incur, depending on what funds that they're in and things along those lines. Personally, I find that the less transparent someone is, the less competent they are in their value proposition and therefore they feel like they need to sneak it in almost; ask for forgiveness as opposed to permission so to speak. So I think for those of you who are listening, if you kind of dance around the topic of fees, or when someone questions a fee you find yourself kind of waffling back and forth and not really being overly concise; I think there's an opportunity to refine what your value proposition is, and quite frankly, I've dealt with this at various times in my career, and I'm sure you have Chris, as well. I feel like anyone who's working hard and trying to build something special experiences this, which is imposter syndrome. And not necessarily believing at times that what we're providing is something that we're capable of providing. So if you're struggling with being transparent with these, or hanging in that conversation when a client objects slightly on a fee, I think it's an opportunity to refine your value prop and resell yourself on yourself, quite frankly.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  42:52

Yeah, it's interesting. The imposter syndrome is a really fascinating concept to me, and to me, I don't know if it's imposter syndrome, or just old-fashioned guilt, I think there's a part of us that feel like we're not supposed to just love what we do every day; how can I love what I do every day and still get paid to do it? But, I mean, I think that may be a big part to me of what advisors face is, most advisors I meet, they love what they do, and they love what they do because of their clients, and because it allows them flexibility in their life in many cases. Just look at the last year and we've been through. I mean, let's just be honest, I have guilt about it. We can do our jobs from home and be safe. There's a lot of parts of our economy where that's not true. Every, obviously, crisis is different; our industry bore the brunt of the crisis in ’08, ’09, but that was a totally different deal. Our lives were not at stake; our livelihoods maybe, but not our lives. So I think there's some of that of just like, hey, if I love what I do this much, I have to kind of be a little careful about how I talk about how I get paid for it, because I don't want to mess it up. I think there's some part of that too. But I think your earlier point is the right one; if you lead with value proposition, and you just talk about what you're going to do to help people and the value you're going to bring to the table, then you talk about the fees. And again, you're not going to get every, not everyone's a good fit. People are break down into different areas of how they think about services and some people don't want to pay for high quality financial advice. That's totally fine. There are plenty of do-it-yourselfers who can do a lot of great work on their own. And they enjoy spending some time digging into their finances and they can get some validation or get some tools online to help them, that's great. I mean, you can't spend your time thinking about convincing that person that it's worth paying your fee necessarily. Focus your time on where you add value for people because there are a lot of people that put tremendous value on what we do, and I'm a full believer that we produce a tremendous amount of value for people who have more complex financial situations. There's no question. Or people who just don't want to handle this on their own. I mean, that's a totally legitimate thing too. I mean, we have clients, without a doubt, that could do this on their own; but their passions and how they're going to continue to be successful lie in other areas, and so they see the value of delegating this to someone who knows what they're doing, who's going to be very proactive and communicative. That's worth it to them.

 

David DeCelle  45:50

Sure, and one thing I forgot to mention, which was part of what I teed up in terms of being open and honest with who we are, I think a lack of transparency of fees can be boiled down to both a lack of belief in your value proposition, but also potentially a lack of relationship building on the front end. Because at the end of the day, people — and I was talking about this on a podcast I recorded earlier today, actually, I had someone on, Jon Pack, who brought me through the best sales experience that I've been through. He's a part of a company that serves our industry and it was just fantastic. I was like, dude, I gotta highlight this. What he did a really good job at is just getting me to know, like, and trust him and vice versa, to where I was advocating with our company at Model FA, hey, I don't care how we need to make this work. But we got to make this work, regardless of what the cost is, and regardless of what our bandwidth is at the time, we just got to make this work. That was only because of the fact that I really got to like him. And he also had the great value proposition, but then the price of the service just became less and less and less important compared to those other two components. So I feel like if we can really be who we are, like, he does comedy on the side. So I laugh at all of his stuff when he posted on Instagram, so it's just things like that, that you can connect with folks on, the less important your fee becomes, and the more comfortable you should feel being transparent, because you know you've already won the relationship anyways.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  47:32

Yeah, 100%. It goes back to that old people by people. I mean, we're a relationship driven species, and I think, in today's world where we're so tech focused, and everything else, people for maybe forget that. Also the fact that we've seen this rise of the mega brands that have just gained so much power, that it's easy to get wrapped up in, oh, I gotta build a company brand. The end of the day, it's all about your people, and especially as an advisor, it has to be that relationship that you're building with the clients you serve. Because at the end of the day, that's why they're paying you; they're paying you for that relationship; they're paying you to be that trusted advocate for them. That's what it's all about at the end of the day. So if you're not investing your time and energy into that relationship, that's on you. I would like to think that even hidden fees aren't gonna get you out of challenges you're gonna face if you're not investing that time and energy into your clients.

 

David DeCelle  48:39

And when you do that, ultimately, the business grows because people introduce people to great experiences, not because you service the heck out of them, but because they had an unbelievable experience. So before we get into your favorite book, Chris, which is Catch 22, I know that you are a big advocate for yourself, as well as others, as a relates to continuous improvement and just making sure they get incrementally better every single day. As, I guess what I’ll coin is, a personal development junkie, myself, so to speak, I'm very interested to hear how you work on getting better every day. Is it a certain routine in the morning? Is it a certain consumption of information? What are the tangible things that you're doing that the people listening can determine if it fits in their life so that, in turn, they can focus on getting better every day?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  49:33

David, to be honest, I don't know if there's a better roadmap out there than the book I referenced earlier, which is one of my favorite books. When we spoke earlier. It may have actually been the one I mentioned before, Atomic Habits by James Clear. He just does such a great job of crystallizing these points, and I think the key thing is just to be intentional about it. I'm happy to share, yeah, every day I do a little meditation each day and kind of a daily practice of thinking about it the day before, what's happening today, and where can I just push myself to be a little bit better; and think about being true to who I am and what I'm trying to be about. But it's for each person to figure out what works best for them. There's different tricks, if you will, or tactics that you can get into on what works best for you, whether it's creating the right environment, whether it's just building out these routines that become second nature to you. So I think there's not one thing that would work. I think, at the end of the day, it's just being intentional about exploring what is going to work for you, and then just continue to push on that. My wife is a yoga instructor and in yoga, in that practice, they talk about pushing your edge, and usually, that's in some strange position, and you're trying to just stretch a little bit further. But you realize that that a 10th of an inch is an improvement sometimes when you're talking about a hamstring stretch, or whatever it is, or a hip opener, that does matter. It makes a big difference, and so that's it; push your edge, find that and then just continuously push yourself. It doesn't have to be overly complex. In fact, I think the more complex you try and make it, the harder it's going to be to actually stick to that continuous improvement. So, things that I do every day outside of daily practice, I'm religious about making sure I read at least an article or two that I think is going to be professionally or personally kind of enlightening, I'll just put it into that category. Something where I might actually learn something. It’s not confirming a bias I have, which I feel like a lot of you see the headlines, you're like, well, that sounds like what I think like, let me click on that and hear how somebody smart thinks, something similar to what I do. No, go find something that is totally different than what you're thinking about, and go read that article. And even if it upsets you a little bit, just try to learn a different point of view. I think anytime you can push that edge for yourself, even if it's just acknowledging that people have a different viewpoint on parts of the world, whether it's business, personal, whatever, that's growth, and just continuing to press yourself to get better on things. That's the space where I think, over time that compound impact, it's just tremendous.

 

David DeCelle  52:27

So to summarize that, I think I heard four, maybe five main categories. Let me list through that, to summarize it for everyone. So what I'm hearing is, on a daily basis, you're being still through meditation, you're reflecting on the prior day, you're envisioning or planning the day ahead, you're stretching your body, maybe that was figurative. I’d imagine if your wife's a yoga instructor that she's got you doing that too. And that you're doing your best to just learn something new, every single day, those five things. Did I capture that okay, or did I miss anything?

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

No, that's good.

 

David DeCelle

I do similar stuff, as well. I always start my day with gratitude so I have this five minute journal that I fill out every morning and every evening about three things I'm grateful for, three things that would make today great, two daily affirmations. And at the end of the day, it's what were the three best things that happened, and where are the two areas that I could improve? And what made me think of this, too, is, as you mentioned, the reflection, the planning; I try and analyze my day and ask myself three questions with every like appointment or interaction that I have, whether that be good, bad, or indifferent in terms of that interaction. It's what did I do to put myself in this situation, take extreme ownership. What am I supposed to learn? So how are you growing through what you're going through? And what am I going to do they get better? Am I actually doing something with that newfound knowledge? So I think I've been trying a lot lately with books and meditation and podcasts and things like that, to be more self-aware and mindful about what's going on and removing myself from the situation and kind of seeing it from above, and it sounds like you're doing some similar stuff.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  54:15

Yeah, definitely. I'm guessing you'll agree with this too, it shouldn't go without saying a big part of that is just being conscious of breath while you're doing those things. It’s making sure you take the time to, even if sometimes it's 10 seconds, sometimes it's like two minutes to focus on the breath to get into that state where you let other thoughts just kind of dropped by the wayside so you can focus on those things. If I just tried to jump into that type of thing right now, good luck, I've got too many things racing through my head to try and do that. So you got to be still in the moment and be present. But I was going to mention to you since you're into gratitude, which I think is huge. It is to me the single biggest key to happiness in life is to be grateful. I don’t know if you've ever heard of John O'Leary, he's a speaker, he’s written a couple books. His first book On Fire is just tremendous. It's all about gratitude, his personal story and journey; without getting too deep like he, he quite literally blew himself up accidentally when he was nine years old, and he had burns over like 98% of his body, he was expected to die. He's obviously made it through. Just how he thinks about gratitude, and even being grateful for the experience he's been through. It's just it's really powerful stuff. I think you'd like it.

 

David DeCelle  55:33

Well I just bought that book.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  55:36

Awesome. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, he's a pretty funny Irishman, too.

 

David DeCelle  55:40

When I Googled him, some videos came up so I’ll watch some YouTube stuff as well. So speaking of books, your favorite book. As everyone listening, you may remember if you've listened to our other episodes, if this is your first episode, I asked all of our guests what one of their favorite books is, and we spent some time just chatting about why it's their favorite book. Part of the intention here is to promote learning within our industry. I feel like a lot of advisors that I come across are either ripe and rotting, meaning they're done learning so to speak, or if they are learning, they tend to learn within the confines of our industry, because they want to better serve their clients. Which I think is great, but I feel like you're limiting your potential if you only stay within our industry as it relates to new information. So the whole goal here is to expose you to some resources and some books that may have you thinking outside the box; it may be more pleasurable than a business oriented book at times, but at very least, I hope this inspires you to grab a book or if you're like me, toss the headphones in with an audible book and listen to it. So Chris, your book that you noted when you submitted this to me was Catch 22. Admittedly, I haven't had a chance to listen to that yet, but I do have it in my Audible queue ready to go. So tell us a little bit about Catch 22 and why you chose that.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  57:04

Yeah, it's funny when you and I spoke previously, I know this was not the book I mentioned. But as I thought about the question, really, what is my favorite book of all time? There's just no question. It's Catch 22. Joseph Heller. I'm a huge history buff, I always have been; my grandfather was a fighter pilot in World War Two, flew over the D-day invasion. I was just always really into all the history of the world wars. When I studied abroad, fall semester my senior year of college, this was one of two books I brought with me. I ended up reading it like four times in a semester. The satire of the view of World War Two, which I had always had this extreme reverence for the way Heller just kind of breaks down some of the — I want to be respectful here, I'm not at all trying to be disrespectful to the real atrocities and terrible and challenging things that everyone went through in WWII at all — but he does an amazing job of making it much more real and realizing that, yes, in the midst of all those atrocities, in the midst of all the triumphs, there were still very human experiences that were happening. To me, it was a book that made something like I said, that I'd kind of put up on a pedestal, it's something that was almost like a hero, I wouldn’t say, hero worship, but like, I was a fanboy of World War Two. And then reading this book, it was like, oh, wow, there were real people that still did some very human things, and got into some strange situations and some horrible situations too, and how they sorted through it. Obviously, it's a fiction, but it really struck me and like I alluded to earlier, I like things that look at things in a different way and perspective. And this was a very different perspective than I looked at World War Two. It also kind of hit me at a time when the program I was on had 80 kids from, I think, 26 different countries, and a lot of them were from all over Europe and then the rest of the world. So you're in France, and we toured a lot of like sites from the world wars and hearing the view that they had about history versus what I grew up with, and then against the backdrop of his book, I was kind of obsessed with. It really opened my eyes up to a kind of a more, I hope well rounded view of what history may have really held true back in those days.

 

David DeCelle  59:36

Cool. Well, it's in the queue and I'll make sure to follow up with you once I finish so I can share with you my thoughts as well. I have a comment about, you brought up your grandfather who's a fighter pilot, so I got a fighter pilot story for you but we'll save that to the after-hours. With that being said, Chris, if anyone wants to touch base with you or connect with you get to know you a little bit better, what's the best way for them to get in touch?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  1:00:02

I would say just I'm always open to conversations. You can email me at [email protected] You can hit me up on LinkedIn. I'm easy to find, those are the best ways. Always open to a phone call, WebEx, Zoom, whatever. I love connecting with people across the industry. I've grown up, obviously, in the industry, and I've been very fortunate to meet a lot of great folks over the years. One of the things I love about this industry is that it is very, kind of collegial and open and very supportive in general, so happy to connect with anybody.

 

David DeCelle  1:00:35

Awesome. Well, I think for me anyways, and I sure I can speak on behalf of the folks who are listening to this episode, it's really cool to experience your calm and humble and graceful demeanor, with the success that you've had. I think that starting off with washing dishes may have helped with that along the way. So it's very impressive what you've had a hand in building; I'm sure you'd pass a lot of that credit to your team members as well. But obviously, there's gonna be someone heading up the overall strategy. So congratulations on all the success that you've had up to this point and that you've yet to have moving forward, and I appreciate your time today.

 

Chris Kerckhoff

Thanks, David, I appreciate it. Thank you.

 

David DeCelle

Awesome. Before we head into the after-hours portion, as you all may know, we do have two asks at the end of every episode. So number one is, if you found value in today's episode, feel free to share it. Whether you want to post it on your social media, share it one to one, the more people that we can impact obviously, the better. And in that same vein, our second ask would be if you leave us a review on iTunes, it helps with our visibility so that more advisors in the industry can take a listen to this and hopefully get some value from it, help grow their business, help serve their clients better, and quite frankly, fall in love with their business and live more fulfilled lives. So if you go ahead and screenshot your review, after you write it and shoot me a text with that screenshot at 978-228-2338; again, that's 978-228-2338. What will happen is, you'll get an automatic reply that basically has you enter in your first and last name, so it saves in my phone. Beyond that reply, you're texting with me one on one, it's not like a bot or anything like that. So we can build a relationship through that, through social media. If you want to connect with me, just Google David DeCelle and all the social links will pop up. And if you send me that screenshot, and include Chris Kerckhoff, that's K-E-R-C-K-H-O-F-F, I'll know which episode this is in reference to. And for those of you who do, I’ll enter you into a drawing to get access to all of our digital information inside of the Accelerator program as a thank you for doing so. So with that, we will see you in the after-hours.

 

 

***

 

David DeCelle

That's great, man.

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

Thanks, appreciate it, dude.

 

David DeCelle

I love that your demeanor is like confident but also friendly. It's like this smorgasbord of just like niceness that was enjoyable to interview. So I appreciate that.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  1:03:20

Oh, thanks. Well, you do a great job. You're obviously a very active listener, and catch a lot of great things. You're very good at this on the fly.

 

David DeCelle  1:03:29

Appreciate it. So the fighter jet story, I went to high school in Danvers, Mass., called St. John's Prep. It’s an all boys Catholic school. One of my friends, Jared, he actually went into the service and caught up with him at a like a class reunion or whatever. I was like, hey, man, just catching up and whatnot. I was like, so what do you do now? He asked me that first. I was like, oh, financial adviser, what do you do? And he's like, I'm a fighter pilot. I'm like, ah, that pickup line probably works way better than mine at the bar. I want to be able to say that, that’s badass.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  1:04:13

I'm stealing that one.

 

David DeCelle

So funny. So I got a few a few “Would you rather” questions to put you on the hot seat.

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

Okay, but first I have to I would be remiss if I didn't say I went to an all Catholic Boys High School as well, run by British monks of all things.

 

David DeCelle  1:04:28

Oh, ours was run by the Xaverian Brothers. Where, what was the name of it?

 

Chris Kerckhoff  1:04:36

St. Louis Priorities, so Benedictine monks.

 

David DeCelle  1:04:41

Nice. I'm assuming yours is similar to mine. What I love about St. John's Prep is it's truly a brotherhood. I can go years without talking to people and then just be able to catch up. I could call on someone who's in their 50s or 60s and they'd be more than willing to help, and anyone that reaches out to me, I'm more than willing to help. I hold a stronger affiliation to my high school than I did my college.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  1:05:05

Yeah, hands down. For me that's really easy right now since Indiana basketball is basically just terrible and hard to watch.

 

David DeCelle  1:05:14

Fair, fair. All right. Couple questions for you. Would you rather be shot into space to explore or explore the deepest depths of the sea? Assuming that you would survive either one.

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

Yeah, okay, good. You know, I think I would have to go with space.

 

David DeCelle

Yeah, the deep-sea kind of scares me. I'm not gonna lie. I don't know if you've seen the blue planet episodes or whatever; there’s some scary looking things down there.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  1:05:40

You know, mine is just probably much more simple than that. I mean, I think there's some scary factor to both, at least if the movies are anywhere true. But the more I've seen real, actual documentaries of stuff down deeply, you just can't see that much. Mine is just, in space, you can see everything; down deep, you're lucky if you see three feet in front of you. It sounds a lot cooler now that you can see it on like HD or 8k, you're like, oh, that's, I mean, it's mostly murky down there. It’s cool but you can’t see as much.

 

David DeCelle  1:06:16

Would you rather be the funniest person in every room? And I know you may think you are now because we already reflected on that already… or the most intelligent person in every room?

Chris Kerckhoff 

Oh, I think I'd go with funniest.

 

David DeCelle

That's what I picked too; I want to hear why.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  1:06:34

I don't think anybody likes the most intelligent person in the room for the most part. And, I think if you're really funny, you're generally like you've got a magnetism to and you're having a good time yourself. I know some super, super smart people that they're a little tortured, and so I think I'd rather just be funny.

 

David DeCelle  1:06:55

I’d say that same answer for two reasons, somewhat similar. So one is the old saying, you never want to be the smartest person in the room; if you are in the wrong room. And then number two is, if I'm the funniest person in the room, I can get the smartest people to like me, and then end up benefiting from that relationship at some point.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  1:07:14

I like that. No, you're right. If you're the smartest person in the room, it can't be that interesting, right? You're not learning anything which would be terribly boring.

 

David DeCelle  1:07:24

Would you rather be trapped on a desert island with someone who never speaks or someone who never shuts up? And it's only you two.

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

Never speaks?

 

David DeCelle

That's where the mindfulness and meditation comes in. You're like, I can survive.

 

Chris Kerckhoff  1:07:39

I’d get naked and we’d find out.

 

David DeCelle

Just breath through it, just breathe.

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

Yeah. There’d be eye contact, there'd be some facial expressions. I mean, if somebody never stopped talking, I don't think I can take that.

 

David DeCelle  1:07:53

So for everyone listening and not watching the video, this final question is more of a chuckle for myself. But, Chris, would you rather have really long hair or no hair at all? [Laughing]

 

Chris Kerckhoff  1:08:10

Well that's easy. I as much as I never — I mean, I kind of knew from an early age, I was bound to be bald — but I have come to really appreciate. I've got three kids and wife and seeing how much time they all collectively spend on their hair. I am super happy to a couple times a week just buzz it and be done. I figure I pick up five, six hours a week easy of additional time that I get to do other things, then mess with my hair.

 

David DeCelle  1:08:45

You're becoming a more efficient, man as time goes on.

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

That's exactly right. Yeah. Nothing but upside.

 

David DeCelle

Awesome. Well, Chris, this was fun for everyone who stuck around for the after-hours. We appreciate your time and we'll see you on the next episode. Chris. Thanks so much.

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

Thanks, David. Have a great day and a great trip.

 

David DeCelle

Thanks. Take care.

 

Chris Kerckhoff 

All right. Take care.