Jan 10, 2018
As residency and job decisions loom, we get a birds-eye view of the financial challenges pharmacists face with Tim Baker, a Certified Financial Planner and and owner of Script Financial, a fee-only financial planning firm dedicated to helping pharmacists meet their financial goals. Tim's a graduate of the United States Military Academy and a member of the YourFinancialPharmacist team.
Welcome to the Pharmacy Leaders Podcast with your host Tony Guerra. The Pharmacy Leaders Podcast is a member of the Pharmacy Podcast Network, with interviews and advice on building your professional network brand and a purposeful second income from students, residents and innovative professionals.
Hey, welcome to the Pharmacy Leaders Podcast. You may have heard the income outcome show where they go over some techniques and tips for goals for 2018 and I know they have a number of educational videos on weightpointus.com. That can help you if you're an independent pharmacy owner whether it's like after or you're trying to sell the pharmacy. But what I wanted to bring back today was Tim Baker from Script Financial, who kind of gives a overview of really what it is to be a financial planner. His road is really interesting going from the military academy to financial planning and service and how this has brought so much fulfillment to his life and he does a really good job of kind of explaining finances and how to talk to a financial planner. After this episode we're going to have a two-part series with Tim Church, another member of the Your Financial Pharmacists Team, who is going to go over a number of really recommendations as you're looking at residency, as you're looking at jobs and seeing, oh what do I want to do in terms of, you know, what do I want to pursue? Can I take the residency hit, you know, it costs, you know, X number of dollars in opportunity costs and then you've got extra interest on some of your student loans possibly and then, you know, how do you make that decision and then in the second episode we're going to go through his book. I'm an author, he's an author and he was an author with Tim Albrecht and we're going to talk about the author's path and some of the get some insights from that book, The 7-figure Pharmacist. So I'm looking forward to all three of these episodes but here we are first with Tim Baker.
This is Tim Baker founder of Script Financial and you're listening to the Pharmacy Podcast.
Tim Baker is a certified financial planner and owner of Script Financial, a fee-only financial planning firm dedicated to helping pharmacists meet their financial goals. He's a graduate of the United States Military Academy and after spending some time in the army and in the private sector working as a logistician, he decided to pivot to the financial services industry because of his desire to work and help people one on one. He first worked for a small independent firm before working specifically with the pharmacy profession. Tim spends much of his time reading and listening to shows about pharmacy like the Pharmacy Podcast to better understand the profession, to provide the highest quality service to his clients. Tim's based in Baltimore but works with clients nationwide. Tim welcome to the Pharmacy Podcast.
Thanks for having me Tony. I appreciate it.
Well I always start with the same question but then will veer off to some other paths. Everyone's leadership road is different and certainly as a graduate of the Military Academy you are one of the top leaders. Let's start with where you are today and how you became a leader in helping pharmacists with their financial futures.
Yeah so, as you mentioned I am a certified financial planner and I work exclusively with pharmacists and their financial needs and. It really kind of happened by accident. After I got out of the army, I took a job in the Midwest as a logistician like you said and bounced from there to a job in Southern California doing the same type of thing with a construction company. And I kind of went through my quarter life crisis and, you know, tried to figure out really what I wanted to do career-wise and I knew I wanted to come back to the East Coast. So I, you know, narrowed it down to a few professions and found that small independent firm in Baltimore. And, you know, quickly realized that I didn't want to work with the younger demographic of people and kind of by accident fell into to the pharmacy niche and it's been one of the best career moves I've ever made.
That's fantastic, I'm so excited to be talking to Baltimore. I'm in Iowa, I love Iowa but I lived in Baltimore from 93 to 97 for pharmacy school and then I went back in 2001 to 2008. So I saw two very different real estate markets. One of the first financial goals many people have is buying a house and you said I think you're in the market for a new home, what's your process for evaluating homes and how it fits into your financial future?
Yes it's a good question I mean I think, you know, buying a house is as they say is going to be the biggest, you know, purchase that you make in your life and I really think it's a matter of, you know, dissecting what that goal is. Whether it's, you know, is this your starter home, you just want to get your foot in the market or, you know, do you view this as, you know, an investment stream later. So kind of, you know, talking through that with, you know, your partner or with your professional network to see really what you're looking to get out of it. But then, you know, it kind of comes down to the dollars and cents and what you can really afford so, you know, one of the things that I advise clients up is you really want to avoid being house rich and cash poor. Because so many people kind of go into this and that their eyes get big when they see what a lender might approve them for and, you know, it's really, you know, in their best interest to give you a loan that is as high as that they think you can afford because of the interest that they collect on that. But, you know, kind of breaking down the math and, you know, counting for what you would have to pay back for a loan that is, you know, X amount of principle and X amount of interest rate and then also consider the tax and the insurance there. So what I say is, you know, obviously I'm a big proponent of working with a professional to build your team whether that's your financial planner, a real estate agent, a loan officer and kind of, you know, break it down in terms of what you can afford and then what's also important to you. So, you know, for us were buying a house in the Locust Point neighborhood of Baltimore and it's, this school is decent there and we just enjoy that that part of it. So and then you have also considered that, you know, the external factors so, you know, interest rates right now, we're in a rise in interest rate environment. And, you know, for particular markets you might have markets that are that are overheated so you might have to come out of pocket to just, you know, get the deal done so and that varies from, you know, city to city. So, you know, a big decision obviously. So, you know, obviously you're going to want to get some help in and bounce those ideas off of somebody else.
Yeah, I found that it's really important to get referrals. It's so easy to, you know, look online, do your research there, get connected with maybe the realtor that's selling the house or something like that. But really it's a matter of getting good referrals to good people. I know I still have relationships with some of the people that I worked with. I worked as a realtor back there in Baltimore in 01 to about 06 and really it was getting good referrals, getting good people in there that we could refer them to so that we could build this team. And we made sure not only do we get them a good deal but we protected them and not just with the house, you know, we protect them from anything going wrong a little bit later. But it sounds like that's a little bit about what you do with financial planning with there's a bit of an aggressive side with okay what goals do we want to reach but also how do we protect what we have. So that kind of segways into my next question which is, we talked earlier about life events and those tend to be a good time to sit down and find a financial professional. Things like graduation or marriage, having a kid or you talked about planning for a home we didn't realize that we would as getting triplets that we would fill a four-bedroom house all at once. So that, I don't know how that ended up working out and then can you help me better understand the process, someone goes through to evaluate a financial planner? So they could look online and say, okay here's all these CFPs, they've all got certification but before I give them on my financial information I kind of want to know them, I want to trust them. Where does, how do you handle that part of the interview aspect that a prospective client might have?
I think it's a great question and I encourage prospective clients to make sure that they are doing their due diligence, you know, I feel like even when I buy a microwave I'm talking to, you know.
A microwave, alright.
Talk to different salesmen to make sure I'm getting the best deal so obviously something as important as, you know, a financial planner you're going to want to make sure that you are, you know, doing your due diligence and shop it around and make sure that you find someone that you fit with. So actually on my website you have ScriptFinancial.com/services I have a section there of questions to ask your financial advisor. So a few of those are good, you know, what qualifies you, how do you get paid, are you a fiduciary which is basically are you going to act in my best interests. And, you know, for me when I go to hire a professional or when I check someone out. I google them, you know, I think that's what most people do and before I even get into like what the business does. I go to the aout section and I want to learn, you know, kind of about them and what makes them tick and, you know, if I think that I would connect with them. So that's kind of what I definitely encourage prospective clients to do and there's a lot of good networks out there that I, you know, that I provide. I'm a member of a few of them whether that's the XY planning network, FPA, the fee-only network, NACSA. You can find these on my website as well to really, you know, get in there and do your search and then the other thing that I would say to do is, kind of do an objective search of a firm's form ADV. And what basically, what this form does is, it's a plain English document that contains information like services offer, their fee schedule, how they get paid and then if there's any disciplinary information or conflict of interest out there that you should be aware of. And you can find these forms on at advisorinfo.sec.gov and then finally I would say, you know, you got to go by feel a little bit, you know, because finance is a very personal thing so. You know, when you when you're talking to somebody, you know, just trust your gut and if you feel like, you know, you really connect with this person then, you know, maybe it's time to, you know, make the decision and go with that. So it's a very important decision and I think something that, you know, you're going to want to do your research. But there are, you know, avenues out there that you can explore to kind of get a better sense of the advisor even before you meet with he or she.
Okay, well I think one of the reasons people don't go to a professional is the fear of judgment. You mentioned some things in your background that I felt made you very approachable, your military service, your focus on pharmacy community. We are, although we're fifty hundred thousand, maybe three hundred thousand strong across the country we're still a smallish group compared to maybe nurses who maybe have 3.1 million across the country. And you seem very empathetic to the student loan debt and challenges these new graduates have. How do you ease the pharmacists' concerns, help them kind of win the week or win the month rather than saying okay, well I'm a failure until I pay off my student loans, until I pay off my house? How do you get these incremental steps?
Yeah it's a great question, Tony. I would say that, you know, even when you mentioned like my experience in the Army and an even and even in the private sector. I was not always a model citizen when it came to finances, you know. When I was in high school I did a good job of saving for my car and pay my insurance and all that kind of stuff but then I think when I got into the military it was kind of a, you know, yolo you only live once, you know.
I understand, I understand.
You know, I would do the party up and really spend freely. So I was a spendthrift and then I felt like, you know, I was in careers where I felt like I didn't necessarily fit. And I kind of used spending to ease that, you know, maybe that anxiety or whatever. So I can empathize, you know, I, my first job out of the Army was with Sears Holdings and I was making pretty good money and I was signing up for my 401 k. And I got to, you know, where I needed to allocate it and said, you know, small cap value fund large cap growth fund. I really didn't know what those things were so, you know, I went out and bought, I went on Amazon I bought investing for dummies.
You know, I got that book and I flipped through the first few pages and I'm like, you know what, I'm going to, I'm going to pick the highest returns and at 25 or whatever I was that was okay but, you know, I feel like you really can't, you know, fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to your finances. But I know I've been there done that and, you know, I've been in a situation where I've made a lot of money. I really had a lot of a lot to show for it so it's the whole idea of, you know, wealth is not what you make it's what you keep. And then same thing, you know, I bought my first home, you kind of, you know, you feel like you're signing your life away. I feel like I went in there maybe not prepared for, you know, what I was actually doing. So, you know, they say money is the last great taboo and really when you work with a financial planner you're, you know, you're inferior undressing financially in front of someone. So that can be stressful and embarrassing but, you know, just like you would go to get a physical and undress, you know, the doctor has seen it all and, you know, can really, you know, help you and, you know, put their thumb on what the actual issue is. And I say for young people too is, people that come to me have recognized the idea that they need some assistance and that, you know, they recognize the need for some long-term planning so that's half the battle. And with young people in particular they have time and time is the greatest asset of any financial plan and as an analogy, you know, at my last firm we would have, you know, people that would come in, you know, age 45 or 50 and they say okay I want to start, you know, saving for retirement. And it's a lot harder to do that then, than it is that, you know, in 25 and 30. So again, those are kind of the things that I that I would say to kind of ease the mind of a young pharmacist is hey, you know, we got this let's put the plan in place and we'll get you to where you need to go. So yeah, that's pretty much how I approach it.
No that sounds great. You talked about something that I maybe understand vaguely but you talked about the fiduciary standard of care and you had a good analogy about a suit and fit and how it looked and that there's a professional for everyone. Can you tell me a little bit more about what that means? I don't really know what fiduciary standard of care, that doesn't translate well for me I don't really know what that means.
Yeah, it's funny because, you know, I have I've had a lot of prospects come in insight last week tonight by John Oliver. He did a episode on this maybe last season or whatever that talks about the financial services industry and what this whole idea of fiduciary is and basically, you know, in essence the fiduciary is someone who, you know, owes their, owes another party that do the duties of good faith and trust. And basically that means that they are bound ethically to act in another's best interest. And for the most part a lot of financial professionals are not held to that standard. They follow what's called a suitability standard of care. So you have the fiduciary standard of care and the suitability standard of care and basically the way that I explain this is, if Tony, if I'm selling you a suit and, you know, I'm following the suitability standard of care. Basically all I need to do is make sure that suit fits. So we do your measurements and, you know, you put the suit on and, you know, it could be a suit that is bright, you know, yellow with blue polka dots, it really doesn't look that good. In the fiduciary standard of care not only do I have to make sure that suit fits I have to make sure it looks damn good. So it's really in your best interest that that suit fits and looks good on you and to me that's the subtle difference. But, you know, there's a lot of financial professionals out there that aren't bound by that, you know, that ethical standard to act in your best interest and that's something that you should definitely be aware of and that something that should be part of your repertoire in terms of questioning when you hire a financial professional. It's very important.
No I appreciate that. I think I understand it a little better now. You, it seems that you're meeting people where they are financially when we talked earlier that is, if someone maybe has high income, high debt versus middle income maybe less debt or something like that. Tell me a little bit about how you meet them in their financial place? You talked about how these modules and they fit what the person's current situation is. So I'm married with, you know, three children versus somebody who I just graduated, I'm free to move about the country and I've just got my first job.
Yeah, so I'm a big proponent of, you know, really specializing or designing my services to what the young pharmacist is actually looking for. So and I've done a lot of research and talked to a lot of pharmacists over cups of coffee and, you know, the residents and students and just try to feel, get a feel of what's going on. So, you know, like you said I have a lot of prospective clients that say hey Tim, I had, you know, $150,000 worth of student debt I'm making, you know, $125,000. I really need help with my student loan debt and maybe setting up my retirement allocation and saving for a home or I want to have a child. So basically, you know, what we do is we meet we, get all of the clients accounts into their client portal. I call it the legend portal and it's basically a snapshot of where they're at in that moment of time and it gives them, you know, a budget that we go through. It gives them a dynamic net worth statement or also known as a personal balance sheet that shows them everything that they own, everything that they owe and then kind of what they're worth I guess if you want to say. And then really my job is to, you know, with their goals in mind develop a plan to fill, you know, fill their pits and fill their buckets. So a pit would be a student loan debt or a credit card debt and then a bucket would be, you know, hey I just had a child I want to set up a 529 or I have, I want to, you know, establish my emergency fund or I want to buy a home. And basically my job is to divert as much of their everyday income or of their income from their everyday checking account into these pits and into these buckets that we set up. So, within a relatively short period of time you can kind of turn around your financial situation just by kind of having someone to coach you through it and tell you what to do. So and that's, to me that's the big pieces, you know, when I'm looking for prospective clients I'm looking for someone who, you know, is coachable and kind of wants to collaborate and do this together. And I think, you know, being able to adjust my financial plan to address those needs, you know, up front so they feel like they're getting value ,you know, in the very beginning of the relationship is key to making sure that my clients are happy and, you know, stay with me for a long period of time.
Okay, you reminded me of a home inspection company and I have to talk about them because they're up there in Baltimore. Bill and Tasha bits have discover at home inspections and Bill is so methodical. And I think he does a lot of what you do and certainly the realtors help the clients but when it comes to the home inspection that's a single day, half a day where the home inspector can teach you, educate you. And I remember Bill doing a great job of that. And then you get this electronic printout at the end and then you can ask questions later. You were using technology as well and it's kind of similarly to a home inspector where you've gotten this setup, you have the information, you see their progress but maybe they need more information on a piece of it that is unfamiliar. So for example, I would go with a home inspector and I am not handy at all, you can ask my wife. I'm not handy if the water heater breaks I'm calling a plumber I'm not going down there to say maybe I can get this, you know, I got this honey, you know. Because I'll be calling a plumber and then, you know, whoever the disaster relief guy is. But I would go with this home inspector and he would explain HVAC to me and then he would explain plumbing to me and then he would explain good materials versus bad materials, he would explain the deck is supported well because we have good, we have certain width that it's meeting or these things maybe they cut corners on. So tell me a little bit about how you educate your clients with those things like I'm just going to throw terms out like Roth and those number acronyms for savings and things like that. How do you educate your clients using the technology?
Yeah, it's such a good analogy Tony and I do something very similar. So, you know, you have your six components of a financial plan, you know, that could be fundamentals or insurance or investments and what I do how I approach it and how I use technology is, you know, outside of the client portal which is kind of the basis of all our plan and I, you know, I go through and a big part of what I do is education. So like you said, you know, the difference between a roth IRA and a traditional IRA or, you know, what a 401 k is or how, whatever the topic is and, you know. I provide education and what I do is, I film my presentation. I record my presentation and the presentation is educationally based and then it is laced kind of with their recommendations. So at the end of it I might say, so as an example, the fundamental is what I start every client with. So we go through and we kind of go through a goals recap of what they're looking to get out of working with me. We go through their SWAT analysis shows their strengths, their weaknesses, some opportunities and threats. And then I launch into, you know, the high cost of credit and why this is important to know or, you know, an emergency fund and where good places are to invest in that and then I, at the end of it I give them their recommendation. So it is educationally based and then they're targeted recommendations to their own financial situation. So I record that and then I dropped that record in too and it's, you know, they're kind of, they're following slides with me so it's visual too and I drop that mp4 into their vault and then they view it on demand. And to me just, you know, just like I listen, you know, I'm a big listener of the Pharmacy Podcast show. I listen to that when I'm in the car, whenever I listen to it I am at my own, you know, at my own time and then when the client basically completes, you know, the listening I have them fill out a survey that says, hey what did you like about it, what didn't you like about it and then what are the things that we need to talk to specifically with regard to the education piece or the or the recommendation. And to me it really sets the agenda and I think it's more efficient way to, you know, utilize not only my time but the clients as well. So, you know, I've had some really great feedback with that and I would say lastly, you know, I just directly went through our home inspection and the same thing happened. The home inspector kind of went through and was teaching me all these things and, you know, I was taking notes like crazy on my Evernote and but, you know, I missed something. So this, the way that I do it really provides an archive of content that a client can go back and say oh yeah, I remember Tim talking about this let me review that again. And it's been, you know, I think it's been a win-win for my practice and my client base.
Okay, one more question about the financial planning and then we'll get to some quick hit questions at the end. And I remember this distinctly and it had to be like, I want to say 17 or 18 years ago. And I sat down with someone, this wasn't a CFP, it wasn't a financial planner. It was a broker I want to say was at fidelity or something like that and I remember him saying, you're a pharmacist right? And well here's the great biotechnology like money market account or something like that. I'm like that has nothing to do with what I'm doing and it was so clear that his pay was tied to him selling something that connected with me and he just missed he missed that one altogether. But that's a real concern I think when it comes down to paying for these kinds of services is that, well I've got, I have confession here I had twenty thousand in credit card debt when I graduated pharmacy school.
So, if I had gone to that guy he still would have tried to sell me biotechnology that maybe even if it makes eight or, you know, nine percent great but I had, you know, this credit card debt at what was probably eighteen percent or something like that. So how is it that your fee structure is set up to avoid that situation where you are not going to start pushing product on me because I think that would be something else someone would be scared of is, I don't want someone to push product I just want someone to have my best financial interest in mind?
Right and it's also so important when you're been in financial visors. And I am with Bodhi, fee-only financial planner but I take it and the reason I did that was really for conflict of interest but I take it to another level I think with my pricing structure. I basically charge based on income and net worth or your personal balance sheet. And I wrote a long blog about why I do this but essentially, you know, I wanted to reduce conflict of interest but I also wanted to align our interests. So obviously the more money my clients make and the more that they're worth the more that my, you know, I potentially get paid and I think we're very much aligned. So it is in my best interest to make sure that every financial decision or every financial recommendation that I make to a client, it's ultimately going to do those two things. To me it is also best aligned with comprehensive financial planning so, you know, a lot of the financial services industry. So it's so heavily slanted towards investments but, you know, a lot of young people, young pharmacist, we don't have investments to manage. You know, we're just starting out so what's kind of led the industry to do is to neglect this segment of the population but if you think about all the important financial decisions that you make when you're young. Buying a house, starting a family, you know, suddenly, you know, how much you should defer into your retirement or your allocation and there's a lot that goes on. So my thing is, you know, I could get you a great, you know, hypothetical investment return of twelve percent but then if you have credit card debt, you know, and I sell you that product that you mentioned, if you have credit card debt of, you know, $40,000 or $20,000 and you're paying 29 percent on that. I'm not really helping your cause. I'm not really, you know, helping you look at the big picture so to me that, you know, that net worth number that, you know, that we track and when you log into your client portal it smacks you in the face every time and it kind of had, we have a history tab. So when we start at time zero we can kind of see how we've progressed over time. But to me that's the real measure or the real value of working with a financial planner. And I like it too because it's tailored to the client and their complexity so someone who might, you know, make or be worth, you know, three million dollars is going to be different than someone who makes or is worth, you know, forty thousand dollars. So, it's proportional to the income and then it kind of, you know, I kind of grow steadily with you and I think in other, you know, in other pricing structures it can be very spiky in that sense. So, to me the net worth number and calculating based on income has worked for me and I think once I can, you know, explain it to prospective clients of why I do that the light bulb goes on and they say yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So, that's kind of how I do it.
And it's predictable which is fantastic.
Well let me ask you how could someone contact you or how do you prefer someone contact you whether by email, Twitter, LinkedIn. What are the ways that you prefer people contact you?
Yeah, I would say either, you know, email. My email is email@example.com and then I'm on, you know, all the social media. So my twitter handle is @TimBaker856. I'm on LinkedIn, there are there is another Tim Baker that's a fee-only advisor out there. So I'll be the one that's connected to all, you know, all the pharmacists.
If you search for financial on Facebook, I have a page out there as well. And so, yeah, feel free to reach out to me and I can see if I can help in whatever way.
So match the picture on the Pharmacy Podcast to the Facebook page or the.
Right, and that's the problem with having kind of a generic name is and I almost needed to reach out to the other Tim Baker out there and see if we can work out a situation. Because I think he might go by Timothy more and I go by Tim, I don't know.
Okay, well a couple of quick hit questions before we finish. You were in the, you had, you know, the full military training at the highest level. What's your best daily ritual to keep your work on track?
Yeah so, maybe not necessarily now but I'm runner and I like to work out so I think for me, you know, when I'm when I'm hitting my stride in my schedule I'm doing those two things and although the other thing that I do is every night before I go to bed I kind of set my to-do list and I use a app called swipes that integrates with Evernote that kind of sets me up for the next day's work.
Oh that's awesome. What about the best career advice you've ever received?
So it's funny I was thinking of this when you've asked this to other guests and for me, you know, I've worked on, you know, going to Wesleyan and in the army and my path that worked for so many great leaders but the best advice was actually some home cooking and it came from my two siblings kind of independently when I was, you know, kind of going through that quarter life crisis and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And they both kind of pointed me in the direction of financial planner because they thought that, you know, their advice was be true to yourself you you're an educator and you can help people and not feel make them feel, you know, weird or uneasy about their about their financial situation. So yeah, be true to yourselves.
And then what inspires you?
I would say my peers. I look out there's a lot of young financial planners out there and I'm thinking specifically through the XY planning network that are doing some great things in this space and it really is a, you know, inspiration to meet for me to, you know, get out there and provide the best service I can to my niche of clients.
Well Tim I really appreciate you being on the Pharmacy Podcast.
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