Integrating Faith, Family and Financial Decision Making with Deb Meyer (Part 1)
Deb Meyer is the founder of WorthyNest. A CPA firm focused on helping Christian families and entrepenuers understand how to mange and invest their money wisely and generously. Phil and Deb talk about the importance of not just using your money wisely but putting some thought into the motivation behind what your money is used for.
Hello, and thank you for tuning in to another episode of CPA Review and More. We are pleased to bring you the #1 podcast for CPAs and CPA candidates. If you'd like to learn more about how Yaeger CPA Review can help you, find us on our website at https://www.yaegercpareview.com. Now, here's your host, Phil Yaeger.
Welcome to the same high school, I guess. And how are you today?
I'm doing well, thanks so much for having me.
You're very welcome. And by the way, is it hot and humid in Florida today?
It is sunny and, yeah, it's nice today. I'm I'm excited. It's not a normal hurricane day, at least in the mornings it's not.
Do you like the humidity there?
Honestly, this is not too bad. We just relocated here earlier in the year, so we're just getting used to the Florida weather being hot year round. But we were in Missouri and the humidity in the summer in Missouri is probably worse, to be honest.
You think so?
Well, the humidity in Florida is what, two hundred percent?
I don't, honestly, notice it much. I'm just like, oh, it's really hot every day now, even in winter...[laughs].
You don't have to deal with winter anymore. Right?
Right. Like, in January, when we got here, it was in the eighties most days—was the high—so pretty different from the uh...
Well good luck there. Deb came from Missouri. I think you mentioned that.
Which is known as the Show Me State.
I don't know how they got that name. Do you know how they got that show me thing?
I don't know. That would have to be a question for my husband. He's a true Missourian, born and raised there. I moved in in college and just...
It makes him sound like he's in misery. No, no, no, [just kidding].
No, it's not misery.
So what made you want to be—you are a CPA, correct?
And why did you want to be an accountant? Most people say, oh, my God, that is so boring. I want to do something that's exciting. You know? What made you pick accounting as a profession?
Yeah. So it was kind of interesting growing up. I was a pretty big nerd. I read like Money magazine at an early age. So I started flipping through that. It probably like age 12.
Money magazine? At what age?
I think 12 or 13.
Yeah, I know. Very nerdy. Anyway, then I moved on to college and I knew I wanted to go into business but wasn't exactly sure which area.
So I actually declared an international business major to begin with and then got some guidance from the mentors there that are like, well, it's hard to get a degree in that and start working internationally right away. So you might want to get something other than international business at least is like a secondary major or minor or something like that.
So once I had that discussion sophomore year with my mentor, I actually thought about it and said, "you know, my mom's been a long time accountant. No matter how many times we moved as a family, she always had a job in a new place".
She was a longtime CPA. And I really am like the carbon copy of my mom, just 30 years younger, following in her footsteps. That's why I decided to major in accounting instead. And then I ended up dropping the international business, but I did study abroad. So that was the international experience.
Where did you study? What did you study?
Spain. I studied in Spain for a semester, actually in Madrid, right as the September 11th attacks happened, unfortunately. So it was pretty scary time...
That happened when you were there.
Yeah, I was there in Spain during 9/11.
You know, I've only been to one place [in Spain]. We took a cruise from Barcelona. Barcelona.
Oh, nice. That's one of my favorite cities.
And this is the luck. My wife gets sick the first day of the ten day cruise. She was sick for the entire cruise. And then, because we believe in share-and-share-alike, she gave it to me. So I got sick from the 4th day on.
So I think I was just it was the cruise from hell—pardon the expression—it really was. But...
Maybe if you would have just stayed on land? Maybe it would have blown up there, I don't know.
Well, I went for a long swim from the cruise ship.
So you got into accounting? And then who did you work for out of school?
Right out of college, I worked for Deloitte. I was in their tax department, focused on individuals and closely held businesses like S-CORPs, partnerships, that kind of thing.
Now that's the deloitte in St. Louis.
How many people do they have working there? I'm just curious.
I don't know right now. But when I was there, I think we had about 50 in the St. Louis office.
That's a good number.
50 overall. Not just tax, but tax audit, consulting.
Did they have any specific specialization they did out of that office?
Uh...I think their consulting group was pretty big.
Our tax group is relatively small, like my husband was working at PWC at the same time I was at Deloitte and he was one of 10 new tax associates hired, or 15. I was like the only new tax hired that year. So I think PWC had a bigger market share of tax services at that time.
Your mentor told you that international business is probably not a good major, because, what would you do when you graduated? Now, I don't know if that's still true necessarily, because I think a lot of the people that I spoke to, the people on these podcasts, they were accounting majors, some of them were even sociology majors. And they got into other areas like information technology. So it's it's not like, yeah, I remember when I graduated college, I had the same argument. I don't want to be an accountant, right? But I heard this: "what are you going to do?" And I said, "well, majoring in management and finance. And they said, "you'll never get a job". So then, my mother said, I am not paying for these four years to have you then come out and be dependent on me. So I told her, she'd still get the deduction, though. But that didn't phase her. So I majored in accounting, and all I remember is that I hated it from the beginning. There was only one teacher I really liked. So he's still alive. Greg DiStefano his name is. He's in Rhode Island. And I keep in touch with him. I talk to him every few months.
So you want into accounting because you want that steady job. Right?
Yeah, that's what I was initially seeking.
And during this COVID crisis, aren't we considered a necessity—accountants—CPAs?
I think a lot of CPAs are seeing that they have really great employment prospects. My husband's now on the recruiting side for accounting and finance professionals, and he he really has not seen too much turnover with CPAs. I mean, we've seen some that are in the accounting space that don't have the CPA that are struggling in this economy. But most most CPAs still have roles and new opportunities to move around if they see fit.
You were saying you're near Fort Myers, Florida. Is he from the Fort Myers office?
No. He actually does work remotely for the St. Louis office of Robert Half.
Oh oh. I thought he works for a CPA firm in recruiting.
He works for Robert Half placing their accounting and finance professionals, more on short term projects.
That's more of a commission job versus the salary job, right?
Yeah, it's a very different role than what he used to have in public accounting and treasury and things like that, that he went into.
Does that make him nervous?—going into a commission-based type business?
For his personality, a little bit, but not really.
I mean, he does really well with his role. He's he's very good at what he does now.
So I guess he places people all over the country.
Most of the roles are locally in Missouri that he's playing for because Robert Half has such an international presence. They have different offices and in many cities that they have specialized groups that focus on those positions. But there are occasionally things that open up in other places.
Why did he get out of accounting?
Honestly, his motivation for going into accounting was a lot different from mine. He didn't do it because he was like, oh, I'm really passionate about this. You just thought, "this is like one of the hardest majors in business. So I'm going to go for it and roll the dice." And I'm like, "that's a bad reason to go into a field so...[laughs].
Did you have a Ouji Board in the house?
Yes. So it took quite a bit of him moving around before he settled on this, but he's been doing this for about two and a half years and is really good at it.
I wish you the best of luck. It's tough business. But no, actually he plays mostly accounting and finance?
Yeah, just accounting and finance, senior level and above.
And those people are still in demand, if you can find them.
So you started your own accounting practice after Deloitte?
Actually, a little bit different timeline.
So after Deloitte, I went to Financial Management Partners, which is a fee only RIA, based in—RIA stands for Registered Investment Advisory firm. So I worked for them nearly seven years, actually, and they renamed their firm closer to the end of when I was there, but it's called Matter Family Office now. So I spent seven years really working alongside families of significant financial net worth, helping them with everything from tax coordination and wealth planning to family governance and helping prepare the next generation to receive that wealth transfer. So, a lot of unique things that were more forward looking because I was once I left public accounting, I really wanted to get into a role that was more proactive instead of reactive, looking at historical tax data, and really just love that environment and found a home there.
And that, is that commission-based?
No, no. It was purely salary. And yeah, I was really just charged with doing excellent client work. So it was a really great thing.
Did you really like that?
I did. I ultimately left because the family needs. My husband and I were both kind of going full throttle in our careers and then we were expanding our family. So we had two young boys, one of which was less than a year old when I left in 2013, and with just the stress of trying to parent and then my husband at the same time, he was working full time at Emerson and their tax group and then pursuing his MBA at Washington University in St. Louis simultaneously. So it was just like too much to handle all at one time for our family, and I stepped back and said, "Okay, I want to be a stay at home mom for a while, but realized I didn't want to get out of the workforce completely. So that's when I launched SV CPA Services.
You have two children, you say? Two?
Now I have three. Three boys.
Since we got on?
[LaughsYeah, yeah, I had a third one about an hour ago.
You told me you were going to get another microphone, but obviously, that was not the truth. How many boys and girls? Do you have any girls?
All boys, three boys.
All boys. Okay, that's nice. What's their ages?
Eleven, seven and five.
Oh, that's nice. Okay. That's a nice family. And they're probably working for you in financial planning now, correct?
[LaughsNo, the boys are not old enough yet to work.
Do they have subscriptions to Money magazine?
No, I wish they did, but I'm not going to force that on them.
Maybe they'll want The Wall Street Journal, you never know.
You never know.
So anyway, you then went to—let's go over the timeline. Where were you after you left your job? Where did you go after that?
Yeah, so after the RIA, I just stayed at home for a few months, settled in. [Ifelt like, "Okay, great, I'm an awesome mom", but then I'm like, "Okay, I really miss work and some level of professionalism". So I worked part time. [Ihad a really great opportunity to partner with some clients in the hotel industry. They had some major accounting needs, so I just really started working with them in 2014. That's when I officially started the accounting firm. But it was very part time and very I wouldn't consider it a true business at that moment.
And then I started doing some Masterminds with other entrepreneurs and realized like, "oh, this could be something more significant than just me".
I'm sorry. What is mastermind's?
Yeah, these are groups of you have some kind of thing in common. So in this case, it was like a mastermind group for women entrepreneurs in St. Louis. And we would meet once a month and then sometimes individually outside of that. But as a group, we would meet once a month and talk about some of our business challenges and successes and things like that, just reading each other on. And they were all in different industries. So no one else was in accounting or financial services, which is kind of cool because I got told, like—I have one of the friends, it's a tea maker, so I support her tea company and stuff like that.
I thought you said team maker. So I thought to myself, "what does she do? She makes team?
[LaughsI love tea, so I'm a big fan of her products. Big Heart Tea. That's a plug for Big Heart Tea.
What is it?
It's called Big Heart Tea.
And it's out of what? St. Louis?
Yes, out of St. Louis.
I know that's a big tea area.
Is it? I don't know. I just love tea.
Well, that's good. That's good. Where'd you go from there?
OK, so. Yeah. So after I join that mastermind I started taking things a little more seriously of, "Okay, maybe I need to have a true entrepreneurial path, because I really did need flexibility at that point in my life, too, as a young mom. I mean, it's hard to work for someone else once you feel like you have the skills and knowledge to do it and then to have to fit things within that very rigid eight to five or nine to five and the commute's and things like that.
So I really just started on this path of trying to work on getting more clients into the accounting firm, and then in 2016, my husband actually lost his job at Emerson in the summer of 2016. That's when I joined XY Planning Network and ended up launching my fee-only RIA where they nest.
You were doing—basically what have you done? You've literally been in Florida how long now?
Just since the beginning of this year. So not even a full year.
There's a lot of retirement. Do you have a lot of retirees in your area?
A fair amount. I'm in a community that's kind of unique because we have quite a few young families as well. It's actually the first solar powered town in the US.
Really. Okay. 'Cause when you think of Florida, you think of retirees.
Most people do. This happens to be a little bit of an anomaly.
In Punta Gorda, you set up this practice, correct?
Well, I set it up in St. Louis and then I transitioned it. Now it's a virtual practice. So, by me moving, it doesn't really move my clients or relationships. I still service most of my client or all my clients that are in St. Louis, and then I have the opportunity of working...
And so your practice now is to actually help—exit planning advisor—certified financial planning for Christian parents and Christian entrepreneurs.
Yes. So when I started the firm in 2016, I didn't really have a focus area. I just knew I wanted to work with parents like myself in a similar life stage. And then I had a pretty major event in 2017 with my mom, actually a health crisis, that I really had to rely strongly on God and my faith in him. So that's when I moved into the focus of working with Christian parents. And since then I've decided to have more of a focus on Christian entrepreneurs because I'm already working with a lot of entrepreneurs on the accounting firm, getting to know their needs intimately.
And I went and pursued this exit planning advisor training just recently this year. It was a virtual experience and actually became a certified exit planning advisor. So I can help business owners who are looking to transition out of their businesses sometime in the next three to five years, help be a resource for them as they go through that process.
Helping a Christian parents and Christian entrepreneurs. Now, this certified exit planning advisor: whose certification is this?
It's through the Exit Planning Institute. They're based out of Ohio and they actually bring together a lot of different areas. So they have attorneys, financial advisors, accountants (more that focus on the valuation side of things), and then true value advisors that can help walk a client through the exact value acceleration methodology. So I'm not personally a value advisor and that I would be coaching an entrepreneurial client like every week and month and having those frequent check ins. But I'm more of a resource who's knowledgeable about the process as a financial advisor, or I could help it work closely with the other CPAs, certified exit planning advisors and in formulating this team. So it's a very collaborative process for anyone that's looking to exit a business.
Your in financial planning. How come you never went for the CFP, certified financial planner, designation?
I have that as well. So I got that early on, when I was at Matter Family Office.
Let me see, did I print that?
[LaughsIt's all good.
You went to the campus of the CFP—they have a tremendous campus in Colorado. Did you know if they have a football team and basketball? No they don't.
I was going to say, "I just took online classes, I don't know exactly".
Oh, I know. They're all online. They don't have a campus. They used to have an office called the Denver Tech Center.
Colorado. So anyway, you were a CFP. You know, I was a CFP.
Yeah it's wonderful.
Yeah, I had it, but I had to give it up because I couldn't keep up continuing professional education. Initially a lot of the accounting professional education I could use for the CFP. And then, they decided—the College of Financial Planning—that they would start their own financial planning courses. It got very difficult to do it. So I had to give it up and I did financial planning in Denver. Now I did some out of practice, too. But yeah.
Do you hold yourself out as a financial planner? Or a certified exit planning advisor? Or both?
I would say primarily a financial planner. But again, I am a CPA too. A certified explaining advisor, so I can help in that realm. It's just not a focus point. It's more of an extra set of skills that I have to help clients more deeply.
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